The Hugo Awards are like the Oscars except for science fiction and fantasy — which in my book makes them automatically cooler. The 2016 Hugos were awarded this weekend, and there are some awesome titles on the list. Which you should of course all add to your reading list ASAP.
Perhaps most notable, though, from this year's awards is the fact that the ongoing battle over diversity at the Hugo Awards — and in speculative fiction in general — seems to be going very well for those who advocate for more diverse voices. Mainstream sci-fi, fantasy, and horror has long been dominated by straight, white men — a problem that still persists in many ways today. A recent Fireside report, for instance, found that only 1.9 percent of authors published in sci-fi and fantasy magazines are black. So clearly, there's still a lot of work to do.
However, in recent years, things have been changing. Many people within speculative fiction have been calling for more inclusion and discussing ways that the genre can be more supportive and appreciative of writers of color, LGBT writers, and women.
Naturally, however, all this has provoked a backlash. Because of course.
For the past two years, two groups — the Sad Puppies and the much angrier Rabid Puppies — have attempted to game the system at the Hugo Awards by picking a slate of nominees. Because the short list of Hugo Award nominees is selected by anyone with a WorldCon membership, this coordinated effort has allowed them to push their nominees into final consideration.
But for the second year in a row, Hugo judges have rejected the Puppies' various slates. In part this may be due to the fact that the Hugo Awards don't take kindly to people trying to game the system, just on principle. And it also doesn't hurt that many of the books the Puppies seem strangely enamored of don't meet what you might call traditional standards of quality.
I mean, this year they nominated a short story called "Space Raptor Butt Invasion." It is exactly what you think it is. And it might be the most amusing part of this whole saga.
Last year, judges voted down all of the Puppies' nominees with the exception of the universally popular Guardians of the Galaxy, which won for best feature film. In categories where the only nominees were courtesy of the Puppies, a majority of judges voted "No Award."
And this year, the Puppies were once again denied. Although they managed to get many of their selections nominated, none took home an award — not even "Space Raptor Butt Invasion."
Instead, women — including many who (gasp!) aren't white — dominated the awards. Authors such as N.K. Jemisin and Nnedi Okorafor took home big fiction prizes, the episode "AKA Smile" from the feminist drama Jessica Jones won Best Short Form Dramatic Presentation, and women dominated the Best Editor category completely. For the second year in a row, a translated work by a Chinese author won an award (though this year it was for Best Novellette, not Best Novel).
So although speculative fiction's diversity problems haven't ceased to exist, in general, it was a pretty great night.
You can find the full list of winners below:
Best Novel: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
Best Novella: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Best Novellette: “Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang, trans. Ken Liu (Uncanny Magazine, Jan-Feb 2015)
Best Short Story: “Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld, January 2015)
Best Related Work: No Award
Best Graphic Story: The Sandman: Overture written by Neil Gaiman, art by J.H. Williams III
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: The Martian screenplay by Drew Goddard, directed by Ridley Scott
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Jessica Jones: “AKA Smile” written by Scott Reynolds, Melissa Rosenberg, and Jamie King, directed by Michael Rymer
Best Editor, Short Form: Ellen Datlow
Best Editor, Long Form: Sheila E. Gilbert
Best Professional Artist: Abigail Larson
Best Semiprozine: Uncanny Magazine edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, and Erika Ensign & Steven Schapansky
Best Fanzine: File 770 edited by Mike Glyer
Best Fancast: No Award
Best Fan Writer: Mike Glyer
Best Fan Artist: Steve Stiles
The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer: Andy Weir