The 2008 Hugo nominees are up. I am horribly remiss in not having read the novels that made the list (but I will be picking up the Chabon and the Scalzi at some point, I promise.)
However, I have seen four of the five nominees in another category:
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
Battlestar Galactica “Razor” written by Michael Taylor, directed by Félix Enríquez Alcalá and Wayne Rose (Sci Fi Channel) (televised version, not DVD)
Dr. Who “Blink” written by Stephen Moffat, directed by Hettie Macdonald (BBC)
Dr. Who “Human Nature” / “Family of Blood” written by Paul Cornell, directed by Charles Palmer (BBC)
Star Trek New Voyages “World Enough and Time” written by Michael Reaves & Marc Scott Zicree, directed by Marc Scott Zicree (Cawley Entertainment Co. and The Magic Time Co.)
Torchwood “Captain Jack Harkness” written by Catherine Tregenna, directed by Ashley Way (BBC Wales)
The only one I know nothing about is the Star Trek.
Now, were I a member of SFWA and had a ballot to cast, I’d have a damned hard choice before me. “Razor,” honestly, didn’t impress me. So, that’s out.
And, as much as I like the talented Cap’n Jack, and as good as that episode was, it still pales in comparison to the two Doctor Who nominees.
“Blink” was brilliant in many ways. There’s very little of the Doctor and Martha in it (boo for the former, hooray for the latter). It’s Sally Sparrow’s story, and her mystery to solve. Some of my favorite lines of the season are in there.* And, of course, there’s the way the audience is itself a factor of the world. (Note: I can’t take credit for catching this, and sadly, I can’t find the post to link to from Making Light where I first saw it discussed. It was either a blog post or a particle, and linked to another blog, whose title also escapes me. If anyone finds it, I’m happy to add it in.)
The genius is this: the Weeping Angels have one weakness. They can’t move when they’re being observed. So, as soon as someone is looking at them, they turn to stone. How many scenes, though, do we see an angel when Sally is walking away? As she leaves the house for the very first time, just before the opening credits roll, they’re in all the windows, silent statues watching her go.
If Sally’s not keeping them from catching her and sending her back in time… who is?
Here I will pause, in case your head is doing the same splodey thing mine did when I read that.
“Blink” is masterfully paced. The writers as a whole do amazing things with characterization – figure that most of the episodes, you’re never going to see the supporting cast ever again. And yet, they manage to flesh everyone out so well, you’d swear they’ve been there for three seasons themselves. In this one, you get to love minor characters who are only there for a few minutes – Kathy, Billy Shipton.
Were “Blink” the only nominee from Doctor Who, I’d vote for it in a heartbeat. But then there’s the two-parter, “Human Nature”/”Family of Blood.” You could argue that this, too, is a nearly-Doctorless pair. Even though we have two hours of David Tennant, he’s not himself. All traces of the Doctor are gone, except for sketches and stories in John Smith’s Journal of Impossible Things. There’s plenty of annoying Martha bits (guess what, Martha? The Doctor loves Rose, and John Smith loves Joan Redfern, but neither will ever love you. HA.)
You get a glimpse of what might-have-been – a quiet, simple life with Joan. Having children, growing old, something he never got to even try with Rose. There’s this horrible feeling of loss, when he has to choose – the Doctor, or John Smith. What makes it worse is that Joan understands it all so much better than he does.
All season long, when Martha would do her puppy-dog why-don’t-you-love-me face at him, I’d yell, “Because you’re not ROSE.” at the screen. It probably drove Greg a bit crazy. Joan’s not Rose, either, but I’d have been okay with it if she’d accepted his (The Doctor’s, that is, not John Smith’s) offer to come with them in the TARDIS.
But Joan’s far wiser than I am. The man she was falling for died with the opening of the pocketwatch. The Doctor might look like him, might wear the same skin, but they’re nothing alike. She’d be travelling at the side of a man she didn’t love, one who was a constant reminder of the man she did.**
I teared up over the loss of a man who never existed.
I’ll be happy if either episode wins the Hugo, but I don’t envy the voters who have to pick between them.
*”It was raining when we met.”/”It’s the same rain.” and “The angels have the phonebox!” (which I still need to get on a tee-shirt.)
**Now that I think about it, there’s an interesting contrast in this. Joan has to deal with the man she loved changing into someone else – same body, different personalities. Rose, after the Regeneration, also has to deal with the man she loves changing into someone else – different body, same person.