2021 Hugo Awards Finalists Announced - Comic Years
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The 2021 Hugo Award Finalists Announced In Another Banner Year For Genre Entertainment

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BY April 14, 2021

Awards season is upon us once more, with the announcement of the finalists for the 2021 Hugo Awards. This year’s list includes some of our favorite books, graphic novels, movies, and shows from 2020. Let’s take a look at the finalists for the 2021 Hugo Awards, which take place in December at the 79th World Science Fiction Convention. You can take a look at our list of winners from the 2020 Hugo awards, and get some context for one of the entries for best essay this year. 

Best Novel

Black Sun Roanhorse 2020 Nebula Awards Nominees Image via Simon & Schuster

The category for best novel at the Hugo Awards is always stacked, and this year is no exception. Notably this category follows the trend set by previous awards, with women authors dominating as finalists for the 2021 Hugo Awards. Queen of the Hugo’s – N.K. Jemisin – could certainly pick up this award yet again. But our bet is on Black Sun, one of our favorite novels of 2020.

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse 

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin 

Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir 

Network Effect by Martha Wells 

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke 

The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal 

Best Novella

Riot Baby 2021 Hugo Awards Finalists Image via Tor/Forge

Another strong category for the 2021 Hugo Awards is the novella – a format that has really taken off in the past decade. There are some long-time Hugo favorites in this category like Seanan McGuire and Sarah Gailey. But we think this race comes down to Tochi Onyebuchi or P. Djeli Clark. Don’t discount Nghi Vo however, her novella The Empress of Salt and Fortune got rave reviews in 2020.

Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire 

The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo 

Finna by Nino Cipri 

Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark 

Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi 

Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey 

Best Novelette

“Burn, or the Episodic Life of Sam Wells as a Super” by A.T. Greenblatt (Uncanny Magazine by May/June 2020)

“Helicopter Story” by Isabel Fall (Clarkesworld by January 2020)

“The Inaccessibility of Heaven” by Aliette de Bodard (Uncanny Magazine by July/August 2020)

“Monster” by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld by January 2020)

“The Pill” by Meg Elison (from Big Girl (PM Press))

“Two Truths and a Lie” by Sarah Pinsker (Tor.com)

Best Short Story

“Badass Moms in the Zombie Apocalypse” by Rae Carson (Uncanny Magazine by January/February 2020)

“A Guide for Working Breeds” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Made to Order: Robots and Revolution by ed. Jonathan Strahan (Solaris))

“Little Free Library” by Naomi Kritzer (Tor.com)

“The Mermaid Astronaut” by Yoon Ha Lee (Beneath Ceaseless Skies by February 2020)

“Metal Like Blood in the Dark” by T. Kingfisher (Uncanny Magazine by September/October 2020)

“Open House on Haunted Hill” by John Wiswell (Diabolical Plots – 2020 by ed. David Steffen)

Best Series

The Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty 2021 Hugo Awards Finalists Image via Harper Collins

This category is R.F. Kuang’s to lose, her immensely popular Poppy War series is highly acclaimed. However, we are pulling for our personal favorite The Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty.

The Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty 

The Interdependency by John Scalzi 

The Lady Astronaut Universe by Mary Robinette Kowal 

The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells 

October Daye by Seanan McGuire 

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang 

Best Graphic Story or Comic

Monstress 12 Featured

This  is a tough category, because we want to give the late great Octavia Butler all of the awards. But we’re pulling for the incredible Monstress by Marjorie Liu to win this one.

DIE by Volume 2: Split the Party written Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans, letters by Clayton Cowles (Image Comics)

Ghost-Spider vol. 1: Dog Days Are Over Author: Seanan McGuire  Artist: Takeshi Miyazawa and Rosi Kämpe (Marvel)

Invisible Kingdom vol 2: Edge of Everything Author: G. Willow Wilson Artist: Christian Ward (Dark Horse Comics)

Monstress vol. 5: Warchild by Author: Marjorie Liu by Artist: Sana Takeda (Image Comics)

Once & Future vol. 1: The King Is Undead written by Kieron Gillen, Illustrated by Dan Mora, colored by Tamra Bonvillain, lettered by Ed Dukeshire (BOOM! Studios)

Parable of the Sower: A Graphic Novel Adaptation written by Octavia Butler, adapted by Damian Duffy, illustrated by John Jennings (Harry N. Abrams)

Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form

Birds of Prey Harley Quinn Margot Robbie Featured

Another tough choice in a year that saw so many movies post-poned. It’s honestly a little weird not to see anything from the MCU on this list of finalists. But I’m personally going with the last movie I saw in a theater: Birds of Prey.

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) written by Christina Hodson and directed by Cathy Yan 

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga written by Will Ferrell and Andrew Steele. Directed by David Dobkin 

The Old Guard by written by Greg Rucka and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood 

Palm Springs written by Andy Siara and directed by Max Barbakow 

Soul by screenplay by Pete Docter by Mike Jones and Kemp Powers. Directed by Pete Docter, co-directed by Kemp Powers, produced by Dana Murray 

Tenet written and directed by Christopher Nolan 

Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form

First black female doctor who jo martin and jodie whittaker The Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER), Ruth Clayton (JO MARTIN) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Ben Blackall

We actually cannot make a choice between all of these great episodes of television. All of them deserve to win. Give everyone an award.

Doctor Who: “Fugitive of the Judoon.” Written by Vinay Patel and Chris Chibnall, directed by Nida Manzoor 

The Expanse: “Gaugamela.” Written by Dan Nowak, directed by Nick Gomez 

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: “Heart” (parts 1 and 2). Written by Josie Campbell and Noelle Stevenson. Directed by Jen Bennett and Kiki Manrique 

The Mandalorian: Chapter 13: “The Jedi.” Written and directed by Dave Filoni 

The Mandalorian: Chapter 16: “The Rescue.” Written by Jon Favreau, directed by Peyton Reed 

The Good Place: “Whenever You’re Ready.” Written and directed by Michael Schur 

Best Editor – Short Form

Neil Clarke

Ellen Datlow

C.C. Finlay

Mur Lafferty and S.B. Divya

Jonathan Strahan

Sheila Williams

Best Editor – Long Form

Nivia Evans

Sheila E. Gilbert

Sarah Guan

Brit Hvide

Diana M. Pho

Navah Wolfe

Best Professional Artist

Tommy Arnold

Rovina Cai

Galen Dara

Maurizio Manzieri

John Picacio

Alyssa Winans

Best Semiprozine

Ignyte Awards Image via the FIYAH CON Website

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 

Escape Pod 

FIYAH Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction

Uncanny Magazine 

Strange Horizons 

Best Video Game

Spiritfarer 2021 Hugo Awards Finalists Image via Thunder Lotus Games

In a year that saw many of us turn to video games for escapism, there is one clear winner in my eyes. The beautiful, haunting, compelling Spiritfarer is our pick. But the award will probably go to either Hades or The Last of Us.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Publisher and Developer: Nintendo)

Blaseball (Publisher and Developer: The Game Band)

Final Fantasy VII Remake (Publisher Square Enix)

Hades (Publisher and Developer: Supergiant Games)

The Last of Us: Part II (Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment / Developer: Naughty Dog)

Spiritfarer (Publisher and Developer: Thunder Lotus)

Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book

Legendborn 2021 Hugo Awards Finalists Image via Simon & Schuster

The frontrunner for this category is clearly Tracy Deonn for her incredible debut novel Legendborn. No other title on this list got as much buzz, adoration, and acclaim as that title did.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas 

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik 

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger 

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn 

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko 

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher 

Astounding Award for Best New Writer

The Unspoken Name 2021 Hugo Awards Finalists Image via Tor

This is a tough one, because there are so many authors on this list whom I love. But I’m going with A.K. Larkwood for her incredible debut novel The Unspoken Name – one of my favorite fantasy novels of 2020.

Lindsay Ellis (1st year of eligibility)

Simon Jimenez (1st year of eligibility)

Micaiah Johnson (1st year of eligibility)

A.K. Larkwood (1st year of eligibility)

Jenn Lyons (2nd year of eligibility)

Emily Tesh (2nd year of eligibility)


For the full list of finalists for the 2021 Hugo Awards, check out the official website. Which finalists are you rooting for in the 2021 Hugo Awards? Join the conversation with Comic Years on Facebook and Twitter today to share your thoughts.

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Emily O'Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.

awardsFemale AuthorsGenre FictionHugo AwardHugo NominationsSci-Fi & Fantasy

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