I don’t have a whole lot to say about the 2018 Hugo Awards (yet), because I haven’t done all my research on it and also because I’m still trying to figure out how to finish writing about a book that won the Hugo in 1956, so I hope you didn’t come here hoping for takes on the hot new sci-fi of 2018. However, this whole blog thing or whatever it is I’m doing was born at WorldCon and stemmed directly from the 2015 Hugo Awards and the Sad/Rabid Puppies controversy, so I feel the need to at least briefly comment on the very cool, very historic stuff that went down in San Jose last night.
If you read either of my 2015 stories about the Puppies and are curious to know what has happened in the three years since Vox Day and his deplorable clan of Gamergate man-children publicly pissed themselves and claimed to have won something, here’s the quick version. In 2016 they tried to hijack the Hugos again, and once again, the award categories dominated by Puppy picks were either (a) won by the sole nominee who wasn’t a Puppy pick, (b) won by a nominee who appeared on Puppy lists but was clearly not associated with the group, or (c) rewarded with “No Award,” which is a thing that can happen at the Hugos. A bunch of ladies and people of color won, again, and Best Novel went to N.K. Jemisin for The Fifth Season, the first book in the Broken Earth trilogy. Jemisin, a direct and frequent target of Vox Day’s racist vitriol, is the first black person to win a Hugo for Best Novel.
In 2017, the Hugos switched over to a new voting system designed to prevent “slate” nominations — basically a bunch of people voting for the same things in every category because somebody told them to. The new system was passed by vote in 2015 as a direct response to the Puppies, and ratified in 2016. The result was that the Puppies basically gave up and went home, resolutely proclaiming that their work here was already done. “No Award” took zero categories in 2017 (as opposed to two in 2016 and five in 2015) though the few Puppy selections that made the final ballot finished behind “No Award” in the voting. Women of color won big once again, and once again, Jemisin won Best Novel, this time with the second Broken Earth novel, The Obelisk Gate.
In 2018, the Puppies are no more than a cautionary tale. Vox Day has moved on to being a full-time stooge for President Trump (whom he unironically refers to as “God-Emperor”) and didn’t even bother putting out a list of recommendations this year. Women (particularly women of color) didn’t quite manage a total sweep of the Hugos, but they came damn close. Even Wonder Woman got a rocket. And Jemisin won Best Novel yet again, for the third book in her trilogy, The Stone Sky. She is the fifth author ever to win three or more Hugos for Best Novel, the first to win the award three years in a row, and the first to win Best Novel for all three installments of a trilogy. That’s not just an amazing accomplishment. That’s reaching a pinnacle in the history of the genre that has never been reached before. And it was achieved by a black woman who writes extremely topical, message-heavy science fiction three years after a pack of well-organized assholes tried to tell everyone that the best sci-fi authors were white dudes with nothing important to say.
It’s pretty fucking cool, in other words. As was Jemisin’s acceptance speech, which you should totally check out:
So yeah, congrats to her and all the other ladies dominating the genre right now. I’m sure the Puppies are out there somewhere, congratulating themselves on whatever it is they think they achieved. If the thing they achieved is the Hugo Awards taking a massive swing toward the representation of women of color while they themselves are nowhere to be found, I think we all owe them our gratitude.
As for the Broken Earth Trilogy, that might have to be bumped to the front of the reading list sooner rather than later. I don’t think I want to wait for it to come up chronologically.