The novellas were the hardest for me to rank, because the four I ranked were all really good, really well-written pieces, and I would have been happy with any of them winning. (The two I didn't just didn't do anything for me.)
I was fairly pleased with the winners' list. I agree with Carrie's thoughts to an extent--of the people on the list for several of the categories, the obvious winners won: Neil Gaiman. George RR Martin. Sheila Williams. Locus. That isn't to say none of these people deserve their wins, just that they're very popular. To an extent, the Hugos are a popularity contest, kind of like being nerd prom king/queen.
And there's nothing wrong with that. (Also, best anything is always a very subjective matter.)
What I thought was good about the Hugo winners' list was that many of the winning pieces had a sort of newness to them. It wasn't the same old 1950s SF story told with less-flat characters and more-current story techniques. It was still a mostly-white list, but there was a majority of women.
(Also, it's about damn time Betsy Wollheim won. DAW has published a lot of good, popular books since the 70s. In her acceptance speech she said, "Dad, FINALLY there's a Hugo with the name Wollheim on it." He'd be chuffed.)
The place I was most pleased to see the winners were the fan writer and fan zine categories. I read Jim Hines' blog, and I enjoy it. I kind of agree with Carrie, in that he's a big name, people have heard of him, so maybe he had an unfair advantage, but I also disagree. He has a different type of fannish writing than the other people on the list.
I think there's a change in what people want to read about in fan writing. Personally, I like the meta stuff, the sociology of fandom, the picking apart of sexist or racist tropes in novels or comics, and lampooning the anatomically improbable drawings of women in comics or on book covers. I like book reviews, movie reviews, that sort of thing. I'm not really interested in reading stories about how one time someone I don't know hung out with some other people I don't know, which apparently is what fan writing has been about for the last 50 or whatever years.
If Jim had declined the nomination, I would have voted "no award." With the demise of metafandom, I don't know who's writing the type of fannish writing I like to read, so point me there, if you have anyone, so I can read and rec them when the time comes.
Look also at SF Signal and compare it to the other fanzine nominees, like File 770 or Banana Wings. SF Signal has book reviews, book discussions, and mind melds, where a bunch of people talk about the same subject--like this recent post on whether a non-Anglo presence is possible in the Hugo awards. File 770 has some interesting stats geekery about the Hugos, and their November 2011 issue had a good bit of "get off my lawn, you
Which, I gotta say, as an anime fan, that's a pretty huge turn-off.
I wasn't at the business meeting where the graphic story category was permanently ratified and the YA category once again denied, but apparently there's a contingent that fears change, that thought graphic novels were a fad, who thinks that YA is a fad. This says a lot about traditional fandom, really.
So, I wonder: are we looking at a sea-change as far as fan writing/zines are concerned, where we new fans who aren't interested in traditional fan writing and fan zines are starting to be heard more? Or is this an anomaly? How long will it take to get a YA category for the Hugos? Discuss.