Hugos Roundup

Well WorldCon is almost here! For me this means tomorrow as I am not arriving until around noon. This is a bit annoying, I think we made this decision when the website seemed to suggest things wouldn’t start till the afternoon and now they are earlier, but it’s still going to be a fantastic weekend so I can’t complain too much!

So before I go, here’s a roundup of the things I voted for, copied from my last voting form with some notes on each category and why I picked that order. I will skip over giving more info on the categories I have separate posts for and just link to those instead.

Novel:

  1. Spinning Silver
  2. Record of a Spaceborn Few
  3. The Calculating Stars
  4. Trail of Lightning
  5. Revenant Gun
  6. Space Opera

Novella:

  1. The Tea Master and the Detective
  2. The Black God’s Drums
  3. Beneath the Sugar Sky
  4. Artificial Condition
  5. Binti: The Night Masquerade
  6. Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach

Novelette:

  1. “The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections”
  2. “If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again”
  3. “Nine Last Days on Planet Earth”
  4. “When We Were Starless”
  5. “The Thing About Ghost Stories”
  6. The Only Harmless Great Thing

Short Story:

  1. “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies”
  2. “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington”
  3. “The Court Magician”
  4. “STET”
  5. “The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat”
  6. “The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society”

Graphic Story:

  1. Monstress, Volume 3: Haven
  2. Paper Girls, Volume 4
  3. Saga, Volume 9
  4. Black Panther: Long Live the King

I had to pick Monstress for this one, I absolutely adore this series. It’s one of the ones I actually nominated for the Hugos so not voting for it would just have been really weird. Honestly if you are not reading this weird monster/magic series I highly recommend it. Excellent characters, intriguing plot, amazing worldbuilding and artwork that will blow your mind on top of it all.

Dramatic Long:

  1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  2. Black Panther
  3. A Quiet Place
  4. Avengers: Infinity War
  5. Annihilation
  6. Sorry to Bother You

This was a pretty good category for me, the only one I haven’t seen is the one on the bottom. Picking a winner was tough, these are all excellent nominations, but for me Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse stole the show. I hadn’t been that bothered from the trailers, but when my friends started raving about it I took myself off to see it and I am soooo glad I did because it was fantastic. My only complaint is that I would have loved more female representation in it, though what was there was good.

Black Panther is absolutely superb film with a complex villain at the centre of it, the sort we don’t see very often. Also Shuri and the other women of Wakanda are fabulous. This film blew the lid off of female representation in Marvel movies, it’s just excellent.

Dramatic Short:

  1. Doctor Who: “Demons of the Punjab”
  2. Doctor Who: “Rosa”
  3. The Good Place: “Janet(s)”
  4. The Good Place: “Jeremy Bearimy”

I hadn’t seen the other two nominations (I have tried watching The Expanse twice now and I keep getting fed up and stopping, sorry but it doesn’t work for me), so I voted for the ones I had seen. This was also a hard choice, some damn good episodes from two excellent shows.

Doctor Who, I had given up watching Who years ago actually, I had gotten increasingly annoyed by a number of things but when they announced Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor I knew I had to go back. I mean, a female doctor was not something I was going to miss and the show did not disappoint me. It was fantastic to see the show focus more on historial lessons and what they can teach us now, something that was at the heart of why the show was created in the first place, and those two episodes are fantastic examples of it. I had a hard choice deciding which to go with, but in the end, for me Demons was a stronger episode.

And of course I love The Good Place. Who knew you could make a comedy that mixes philosophy into things? They did an actual trolley problem joke, I mean, wow!

Pro Artist:

  1. Galen Dara
  2. Victo Ngai
  3. Charles Vess
  4. Yuko Shimizu
  5. Jaime Jones
  6. John Picacio

Such a fabulous collections of artwork, when I was looking through the samples we were given in our pack, my jaw dropped at several points. Obviously this particular choice is very personal, but for me this order worked the best, though choosing between my top two was a very difficult choice.

Fan Artist:

  1. Likhain (Mia Sereno)
  2. Grace P. Fong
  3. Spring Schoenhuth
  4. Ariela Housman
  5. Meg Frank
  6. Sara Felix

All of these are also exceptionally talented and worth a look, again, this one is very personal choice and I would recommend having a look at all of their work if you have a chance to.

New Writer:

  1. Jeannette Ng
  2. R.F. Kuang
  3. S.A. Chakraborty

I will admit that my choice in this one came down to which of the second year eligibility candidates that I had read I liked the most. Don’t get me wrong, Rebecca is a fantastic wrier (and I honestly think she’s probably going to win it), but I kinda want her to win next year so that one of the others manages to get one of the awards.

That being the case the others are both excellent writers, but I absolutely adore Under the Pendulum Sun, so for me it had to be that one.

 

And there we have it, all done with the Hugos! Well, I may post up some thoughts on the winners once the award ceremony is done with, we shall have to see.

Not sure when I will next post as I am not betting that I will get much time for an update whilst in Dublin, but I will see what I can do. Otherwise I hope I shall have some more review posts up for you next week when I am home.

And if anyone reading this is at WorldCon, or will be there, and you see a Mairi White on a badge belonging to a woman with long brown hair and pale skin, that’s probably me so say hi!

Captain Marvel

“I don’t have to prove anything to you.”

captain marvelI had fun reviewing The Umbrella Academy so I definitely think I am going to try and do more TV and film reviews when I am moved to do so. This time I wanted to talk about Captain Marvel. I may try and do so in two section, the first spoiler free for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, the second includes them. There will be some dead space inserted between the two.

But anyway, I have been looking forward to this film for a while. Definitely about time Marvel gave us a female-led superhero film and it shouldn’t have taken DC succeeding with Wonder Woman to bring it about. It is likely that there will be comparisons to Wonder Woman in the review, mostly because the only other films I can compare it to that are led by women are Catwoman and Elektra and I would rather not.

Please do note that I do not intend to do comparisons to put one against the other. It’s great that we can have more than one lead female superhero. I would like far more than two. In fact it would be lovely if I didn’t have such scant material to draw from, but here we are so I will just have to make do.

So brief overview of the story in case anyone doesn’t know. Vers is an amnesiac Kree warrior who ends up getting separated from her team and crashing on earth along with a number of Skrull shape-shifters who appear to be after a scientist. She ends up teaming up with Nick Fury to try and track down the Skrull, at the same time winds up finding out that she has memories that connect her to Earth.

Of course it ends up being more complicated than that and she finds out that she is a human called Carol Danvers, not only that but her Kree mentor Yon-Rogg killed her previous mentor, Dr Wendy Lawson (who was a Kree called Mar-Vell) and she in turn exploded the engine he was after and the energy from that fused with her being, giving her the powers she possesses. She also finds out that the Skrull are not the enemies, they have been systematically hunted by the Kree for not submitting to their rule and Dr Lawson/Mar-Vell was helping them hide and wanted to get them far away from the Kree.

In the end she defeats Yon-Rogg and the Kree sent to eliminate the Skrull, along with the help of her best friend, Maria Rambeau and a cat called Goose (who turns out to be a creature called a Flerken).

Firstly I want to say that overall I think I enjoyed this film more than I enjoyed Wonder Woman. Mostly because the love interest thing in Wonder Woman really annoyed me, as did the lack of any significant female interactions with Diana after she leaves her home fairly shortly into the film. I am not opposed to love interests in films, but that one felt pretty weak and too quickly formed and it bothered me. Whereas Captain Marvel features a lot of strong relationships between the women in the film and I was all there for that.

So to start with we see her meeting the Kree Supreme Intelligence, an AI being that appears to someone in the form of the person they most admire. In Vers case it is someone she doesn’t recognise, but we later find out is Dr Wendy Lawson. We then find out she designed the planes that Carol and her friend Maria fly. I do wish we had perhaps a few more flashback scenes to get even more of a connection between the two, but the fact that they gender flipped the character to give her an older female mentor was extremely well done.

Then we have the relationship between her and her best friend Maria. Again, similarly to her relationship with Lawson, I do wish that more was seen of this before, but the scenes we do get between the two show a strong bond which is only strengthened when the obvious love and care of Maria’s daughter, Monica. That Monica also looks up to both Carol and her Mum as heroes and inspirations is wonderful to see and I adored it.

My biggest gripe about any female character in the film is that they criminally underused Gemma Chan as Min-Erva and if she doesn’t make an appearance in future films with a bigger role I will be absolutely fuming.

In regards to relationships in the film, they did still centre a lot of it more around Carol’s interactions with Fury, Yon-Rogg and the leader of the Skrull, Talos, which was somewhat frustrating. Personally I would have preferred the film to be braver and take more of a step in the direction of representation of women than they did, but given how long it’s taken Marvel to actually make a female led super hero in the current MCU, I am guessing they were taking baby steps here.

It is frustrating though considering how well Black Panther showcased its excellent female characters, giving them their own stories and letting them show off their talents, even as supporting characters and honestly out of the two films I would generally say Black Panther’s portrayal of women is better, even though they are not the central character of the film. The part when T’Challa is thought dead and is unconscious means that they are actively driving the plot at that point and there is no way he could have managed half of what he did without their help.

The specific bits of acknowledging women’s issues were on the lighter end of the scale and not dealt with in much depth either. We have the comments about Maria and Carol not being allowed to be combat pilots in the 90’s and this being because they lacked the necessary equipment to be in the cockpit.

At one point she is told she should smile by a random biker, who she ignores at first but after he goes into a shop she steals his motorcycle and some clothes and rides off.

There is also a theme of comments from Yon-Rogg throughout the whole film about Carol being too emotional, about her letting her emotions get the better of her and that’s why she can’t beat him in a fight without using her powers. The weird thing there is that she isn’t particularly emotional at the start, somewhat jokey at times, but generally she’s calm and level-headed for a good chunk of the film. I did appreciate that her accepting her humanity and being more comfortable with her emotions did not make her weak and in fact helped her to unlock the powers they had tried to control in her.

Right at the end she fights Yon-Rogg (I also loved that she actually got to fight many men in this film and not in the overly sexualised sorts of fights we tend to get) and he taunts her to try and get her to fight him without powers and she blasts him and then just says “I don’t have anything to prove to you” and I honestly loved that.

Overall it is an good film, doesn’t quite have the sparkle I would have liked to see and I honestly think that is because they played this too safe. If they had pushed more into the exploration of a female hero and did more than the brief nods to what being a woman can be like, I think they could have had something as special as Black Panther.

Still, it’s doing well at the box office so I have every reason to believe that future solo Captain Marvel films may well appear.

To end with here’s a picture of Goose, everyone’s favourite scene-stealing cat (Flerkin).

goose