The 2017 Hugo Award Finalists have been announced, and as usual I find myself both excited and conflicted. The Conflicted part is because there are so many excellent favorites in some categories that I find myself in the strange position of wishing there could be multiple winners because I know they all deserve the award, but of course it doesn’t work like that. Let me give an example of that; in the Best Series category they include The Temeraire series by Naomi Novik, and The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold. I have read every book in both series, they are all good and many of them are brilliant, but the series as a whole are truly marvelous examples of world building, creating entirely fleshed out universes. Picking between the two is difficult, although being an official Space Cadet (and I have the certificate to prove it) I am cheering on Miles just a tiny bit more often than Lawrence. But, of course, it isn’t that simple. Also in the finalist list for best series are The Expanse by James S.A. Corey, and the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch; I have read a single book in each of those (and am watching the TV series they made from The Expanse), and based on my limited sample set I have to believe they are also serious contenders for the prize. The Excited part of my reaction is obvious; I have the rest of the books in the latter series still to read, plus I have to believe The Craft Sequence by Max Gladstone and The October Daye Books by Seanan McGuire may be every bit as good, since they also made the finalists list. And that’s just a single category; I can’t wait to discover how many other reading and viewing adventures await me tucked away in these lists!

A headline I never expected to see when I became aware of this amazing songwriter/poet’s work back in the early 60s, but that I would have cheered on even back then; Bob Dylan has always deserved to win a Nobel Prize! Part of the reason is that he never stood still, but kept creating new works with new attitudes, year after year, and decade after decade. The only other artist I know that could match him on that level was David Bowie; had Jim Morrison survived longer, there might have been three of them.

Once more, the team from the Annals of Improbable Research handed out another year’s Ig Nobel Prizes last week. From the New Zealand team who got the Economic Prize for their research determining how to market things to rocks, to The Medical Prize winners who discovered that if the left side of your body itches and you look in a mirror and scratch the right side of your body the itching is relieved, this years winners share a trait in common with each other and all previous winners. First they make you laugh… and then they make you think. Mostly about how gullible some grant organizations may be, but every so often about the real-world problem that inspired the research in the first place. This is probably my favorite annual award in the world of Science.

I love the fact that even the folks putting together the Academy Awards realize that animation is a wonderful way to create and share stories that could never be told any other way. Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee created Frozen last year, won a ton of awards, and this year they got to host the Oscar party for all their fellow animators as their reward. I think they approached this with the right style, sharing a small but important slice of each nominees production, and then interviewing them about it, so they could share their vision with the world. This is a wonderful presentation; enjoy!