Tag Archive | hugo awards

Gentlefolk, Start Your Rockets, er, Hugo Ballots!

The Hugo trophy given out at NolaCon II, New Orleans, 1988. Trophy designed by: Ned Dameron Photo by: Michael Benveniste

The Hugo trophy given out at NolaCon II, New Orleans, 1988. Trophy designed by: Ned Dameron Photo by: Michael Benveniste

The Hugo Online Ballots have finally opened! Which means I have a lot fewer excuses not to start filling mine out. If you are a Hugo voter (i.e., have a membership to this year’s WorldCon) and you haven’t received the email telling you how to log in and vote, you should probably check your spam folder(s). I haven’t posted any reviews of any of the books or stories or otherwise on the ballots, yet. But some other folks have. I am most enthused about a series of blog posts that Camestros Felapton is putting up this week, here’s the overview: It’s Hugo Fan Writer Finalist Week! Each day this week he is posting a “Hugo Fan Writer: Why you should vote for… ” essay. Because each and everyone one of the six nominees in that category this year are just bloody brilliant fan writers. I wanna give all six of them the rocket.

His reviews give a nice overview of what each of the fan writers produce, with helpful links to stuff the many places you can find their work. Even if you aren’t a Hugo voter, but you love sci fi/fantasy, you should check these six writers out. They are all wonderful.

Just as I’m finding it very difficult to rank the six fan writer nominees, I’m having a nearly equally hard time in the Novel category. I may have to write about that some more later.

But for now, if you’re a voter, go vote! If you’re a fan, go check out those fan writers!

The Cabal That Wasn’t or, SF/F award numbers don’t mean what you think they mean

A tangerine-colored spherical space station spinning in the inky blackness of space. This is cover art for the 1977 Discus Editon of Isaac Asimov’s ‘The Planet That Wasn’t’. Art by Dean Ellis

This is cover art for the 1977 Discus Editon of Isaac Asimov’s ‘The Planet That Wasn’t’. Art by Dean Ellis

I’m deep in the middle of reading all the Hugo nominees that I hadn’t previously read so I can fill out my ballot, soon. Plus I’ve been working long hours at the day job while trying to keep up with the shambles that the world seems to be trying to turn itself into. So my attention has been a bit scattered. I was a bit surprised about a week or so ago to see a bunch of references to the “No Men Nominated for Hugos” cross my twitter stream. Which triggered an immediate WTF from me, because without checking the actual list, I thought, “But Ted Chiang, James Corey1, Michael Straczynski, Max Gladstone, and James Nicoll are all on the ballot, aren’t they? And those are just the men I can think of without looking it up!” But seeing so many mentions of it, I started to think that maybe I was confusing the Locus shortlist and/or Nebula shortlist.

I did eventually look up the long list, and confirmed that I was correct that all of those men had, indeed, received nominations23. But then I noticed that all of the books nominated for Best Novel were written by a woman4. And when I followed up to find a blog post from someone commenting on the issue and confirmed that, yes, the anger was about the Best Novel category, and how this is a terrible travesty and more proof that a political conspiracy has taken control of the Hugos, which is more proof of the downfall of civilization, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

They try what Asimov5 used to call a Judo Argument: the art of trying to use the enemy’s own strength against him. Asimov was specifically talking about arguments by people of faith to try to use science to prove the existence of god. But it applies to many other endeavors. In fact, the argument that these people who are upset about the Best Novel category of this year’s Hugo awards are using is specifically what Asimov called The Second Judo Argument:

“Suppose something exists, but the chances of it coming into existence due to random processes are so small (as determined by the laws of statistics and probabilities) that it is virtually impossible to suppose that it exists except as the result of some directing influence.”
—Isaac Asimov, The Planet That Wasn’t, essay 17, “The Judo Argument”

So, the argument that is being advanced, here, is that the having all six nominees in the Best Novel category of the Hugo Awards being written by authors of only one gender is so statistically unlikely that the only logical explanation is some kind of shenanigans. The least irrational way I’ve seen this notion expressed is in the form of a rhetorical question, “Are you seriously telling me that no award-worthy book written by a man in the field of science fiction/fantasy was published in 2019?”

Let me dispense with that question, first. There is nothing in the mission statement of the Hugos, nor in the rules, nor in a reasonable description of the awards that says the ballot must feature every single sf/f book which is worthy of a Hugo. Lots of great books fail to make the short list every year.

Since I participate in the awards, earlier this year I nominated five7 books for this award. Only two of the books I nominated made it to the ballot. Now that the ballot has come out, do I suddenly believe that the other three I nominated aren’t Hugo-worthy? Absolutely not! It just so happens that the four books I didn’t nominate that also did make the ballot were all books I hadn’t read8.

The other thing I want to mention about my nominations: when I went back into my emails to check what I had nominated, one of the five books I nominated was by a man. Was I disappointed that book didn’t make the final ballot? Sure! But not because of the gender of the author, just because it was a book I read recently that I really liked.

Let’s move on to numbers10. The other part of the argument is that having a category on the Hugo ballot dominated by one gender is somehow so incredibly unlikely as to prove some sort of cheating is going on. So, let’s look at the numbers, shall we? First, this 2019 article9 gives a lot of numbers: Gender and the Hugo Awards, by the Numbers. Nicoll breaks out more categories than I will recount here. The two most import numbers for our argument are these: how many times in the history of the Hugos has the Best Novel category been only men? And how many times have all but one nominee been a man?

The answers are enlightening. Out of the 66 years that there has been a Best Novel category for the Hugo Awards, 22 times the shortlist has been all men. That’s 33⅓% of all the years. And out of those 66 years the number of times that all but one nominee was a man is 20, which is just a touch more than 30%. So the number of years in which a single gender indisputably dominated is 64%. Which means that having one gender predominate isn’t a statistical anomaly at all.

Let’s be perfectly clear: this year is the first time, in 66 years of Hugo history, that the Best Novel category has only had women as the authors. But by no means is it the first year that any gender has had a disproportionate place on the ballot. While there were 22 years out of that time when the category had only men, which is a subset of the 42 years out of 66 in which one or fewer of the nominated works’ authors was a woman.

So, at this point we have discredited the idea that the ballot invalidates all work by male authors, and we have invalidated the assertion that a single-gender ballot is statistically unlikely. Maybe that’s where I should stop, but there are more problems here. Those problems are implied above, but the people whose arguments I have dismantled have demonstrated a decided inability to understand implications, so I have a bit more to say.

So, despite my dismantling of the arguments above—specifically that statistically there isn’t a problem in this year’s ballot—that doesn’t mean that there is no change worth discussion. For some context, let’s look at this recent essay: The Decade That Women Won. There has been a change in which gender dominates. What can we infer from the data?

Mathematically from the nomination and winning data we can’t conclude much. Having one gender disproportionately represented is the statistical norm for the entire history of the awards. All that’s happened in recent years is which gender of author that is being nominated most often has changed. There are a lot of perfectly reasonable explanations for this that don’t involve any shenanigans:

  • It could be that enough people are making an effort to read outside their comfort zone that they are encountering more books written by women than they used to.
  • It could be that reviewers and compilers of recommended lists are making more of a conscious effort to review a more diverse selection of works.
  • It could be that social media and other modern communication possibilities provide more ways to circumvent gatekeepers11.
  • It could be a slow generational change that’s just hit a tipping point.
  • It could be that a lot of the fans who are women and/or queer who bought their first WorldCon supporting membership in 201512 in order to protect the integrity of the awards from a slate-voting scheme stuck around13 and we tend to read a more diverse selection of sf/f books than the old guard
  • It could be that more women are managing to sell in the sf/f market than in decades past, and their increased presence is starting to have an effect.
  • It could all be statistical noise.

There is another form of the Judo Argument being used by the people unhappy with this year’s Best Novel nominees: “I thought all you people were opposed to discrimination, yet here you are cheering on the discrimination of men.” First, when I cheered when I saw the list I wasn’t thinking “Oh, look! No men!” No, I was cheering because two books I’d nominated had made the list, and two more that I’d heard enough good things about that I was already planning to read had made the list. Second, when we talked about discrimination against women and other marginalized communities in sf/f publishing and such, we had more statistics than just award ballots. We could show the statistical disproportions in who was published, which books were reviewed, which books were on recommendation lists, and many other statistics which all skewed very strongly toward cishet white men. We don’t have any such statistics showing a sudden skewing in the other direction. Even now, all those other numbers still favor cishet white men. And third, for decades the same people who are complaining now have insisted that an all-male or nearly-all-male ballot absolutely wasn’t discrimination, so they don’t now have the moral right to make that argument.

And that’s the crux of it: the people complaining now never cared during any of those years that no women were nominated. They don’t actually have any trouble with disproportionate nominees or wins. They only have a problem when it isn’t men who are being recognized.

In other words, they aren’t arguing in good faith, which is why their arguments fall flat.


Footnotes:

1. James S.A. Corey is actually a pseudonym for Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck… but both of them are men. I just always forget their names, but I know it’s a pen name for two guys, right?

2. Straczynski is nominated in the Best Related Work, and Nicoll in Fan Writer, so if the other people were up in arms about the fiction categories, then I guess we can’t count them, but…

3. Here’s where I pedantically remind myself and the reader that people are not nominated in the fiction categories, but rather specific works of fiction which happen to be written by people.

4. At least one is a trans woman. Which I only mention because at least one of the commentators out there who are angry about no men being nominated in the Best Novel category this year had a side rant about the trans person and how having a trans author on the ballot somehow proof that something untoward has happened in the voting process. The trans woman is a woman, so for the rest of this entry I’m just going to agree that all the authors nominated in the Novel category this year are women, because they are.

5. Asimov was a Grandmaster of Science Fiction and for most of my teens and twenties I thought he was the greatest science fiction author ever. He has considerably tarnished in my eyes since I learned how he treated (and groped and otherwise sexually harassed) women who he encountered at conventions and otherwise. But the notion of a Judo Argument: someone trying to use their opponents’ principals to disprove the opponents’ conclusions, is apt6.

6. For more reasons than one.

7. One of the rules which the World Science Fiction Society adopted recently in order to make Slate Voting Schemes less likely to succeed is that nominators are allowed to nominate no more than 5 titles, while the top 6 nominees will appear on the ballot.

8. Although one of them was a book I had already bought but hadn’t yet read, and one other was in my wishlist, for what it’s worth…

9. Coincidentally written by a man, and even more coincidentally, one of the men I mention earlier who is on this year’s Hugo ballot!

10. In an earlier draft of this post I started to go into statistical theory, because my major at university was mathematics, and if I had gone on to graduate school my plan was to go into statistics, probability, and game theory… but all the math makes some people dizzy. Besides, the people who have asserted the argument I’m refuting clearly don’t understand logic, so…

11. And yes, there have definitely been gatekeepers.

12. My gay self, my bi husband, and a number of others, for example

13. Just as I and my husband have.

A round up of Hugo round-ups

(click to embiggen)

I thought that I had tapped the Schedule button on this post last night, so after finishing a somewhat grueling day at work (yes, even when working from home work can be grueling and frustration — but I keep repeating the mantra, “I’m glad I have a job. I’m glad I have a job. I’m glad I have a job…”), making dinner, chatting with my husband, and otherwise winding down from the day, I expected to log in to see how some stats on the blog before I finished a post for Thursday… and here this was not posted. So I decided to re-write the intro to reflect my doofus-ness

So other people have been posting about the Hugo ballot since it came out. This isn’t an exhaustive list, by any means, but I found all of these posts interesting and informative.

Cora Buhlert shares her views on the Retro Hugo nominees: Some Thoughts on the Hugo Award Finalists, Part I: The 1945 Retro Hugo Awards and the 2020 finalists: http://corabuhlert.com/2020/04/10/some-thoughts-on-the-hugo-award-finalists-part-ii-the-2020-hugo-awards/.

Nerds of a Feather have a bit to say: Adri and Joe Talk About Books: The Hugo Awards.

Paul Fraser and SF Magazines has some thoughts: 1945 Retro Hugo Award and 2020 Hugo Award Finalists.

Camestros Felapton has an overview: 2020 Hugo Finalists. And has begun following up with posts on specific categories Dramatic Presentation and Short Stories thus far.

And let’s not forget J.J.’s excellent round-up of where you can find most of the nominees or excerpts thereof, online: Where To Find The 2020 Hugo Award Finalists For Free Online.

Line up your rockets! Or, we have the 2020 Hugo Award Finalists!

Photo © Dave Howell, designer of the base of the 2009 Hugo trophies.

Photo © Dave Howell, designer of the base of the 2009 Hugo trophies.

I first learned of the existence of the Hugos when I found a copy of one of the Hugo Winners anthologies edited (back then) by Isaac Asimov when I was about 12 or 13 years old. His anecdotal description of the awards and the ceremony created a fantasy version of the process for me. For instance, I assumed (incorrectly) that the voting for the awards happened at the convention itself. Anyway, because of that early perception, attending a WorldCon and attending the banquet as a professional writer myself (and maybe even as a nominee!) became my own subconscious prerequisites to voting in the Hugos. This persisted even after, at a later age, when I learned that in order to vote one merely needed to buy a supporting membership, and the voting all happened by mail and online.

While I knew I could just buy a membership and vote, I never actually did it until the Melancholy Canine Kerfuffle motivated me to get involved.

And I’ve been happily nominating, reading the packet after the ballot comes out, and voting ever sense.

Which *drum roll* brings us to—the finalists for the 2020 Hugo Awards and the 1945 Retro Hugo Awards have been announced!

2020 Hugo and Astounding Awards

Best Novel

Only two of the books I nominated made it to the final ballot, but three more were already in my to-be-read pile, so this is a very strong selection, and I suspect I’ll have a very hard time picking in this category.

  • The City in the Middle of the Night, Charlie Jane Anders (Tor; Titan)
  • The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Alix E. Harrow (Redhook; Orbit UK)
  • The Light Brigade, Kameron Hurley (Saga; Angry Robot UK)
  • A Memory Called Empire, Arkady Martine (Tor; Tor UK)
  • Middlegame, Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)
  • Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir (Tor.com Publishing)

Best Novella

Again, only two of the novellas I nominated made this list, but a couple more were ones I would have nominated if I could nominate more than five. And the other two I’ve heard good things about, so, I’m looking forward to the Hugo packet.

  • To Be Taught, If Fortunate, Becky Chambers (Harper Voyager; Hodder & Stoughton)
  • “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom”, Ted Chiang (Exhalation)
  • The Haunting of Tram Car 015, P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com Publishing)
  • This Is How You Lose the Time War, Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone (Saga)
  • In an Absent Dream, Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Deep, Rivers Solomon, with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson & Jonathan Snipes (Saga)

Best Novelette

The further you get down the ballot ballot in the printed fiction categories, the less possible it is that any individual reader has seen a significant fraction of all the stories in that category published in a single year. So I’m not surprised that only one single entry is one that was on my ballot. But several that I haven’t read yet have been written by authors I know are really good, so…

  • “For He Can Creep”, Siobhan Carroll (Tor.com 7/10/19)
  • “Omphalos”, Ted Chiang (Exhalation)
  • “Away with the Wolves”, Sarah Gailey (Uncanny 9-10/19)
  • “Emergency Skin”, N.K. Jemisin (Forward)
  • “The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye”, Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny 7-8/19)
  • “The Archronology of Love”, Caroline M. Yoachim (Lightspeed 4/19)

Best Short Story

I think this is the first time, ever, that four of the stories in this category are ones I had read before the ballot came out. This looks like, again, a great set of nominees.

  • “Do Not Look Back, My Lion”, Alix E. Harrow (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 1/31/19)
  • “As the Last I May Know”, S.L. Huang (Tor.com 10/23/19)
  • “And Now His Lordship Is Laughing”, Shiv Ramdas (Strange Horizons 9/9/19)
  • “Ten Excerpts from an Annotated Bibliography on the Cannibal Women of Ratnabar Island”, Nibedita Sen (Nightmare 5/19)
  • “Blood Is Another Word for Hunger”, Rivers Solomon (Tor.com 7/24/19)
  • “A Catalog of Storms”, Fran Wilde (Uncanny 1-2/19)

Best Series

This is still a very new category, and it’s difficult to know which series are eligible in a give year. Only two of the entries on this list were on my nomination ballot, but I’m familiar with a couple more, and know that they are very good.

  • Winternight, Katherine Arden (Del Rey; Del Rey UK)
  • The Expanse, James S.A. Corey (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • Luna, Ian McDonald (Tor; Gollancz)
  • InCryptid, Seanan McGuire (DAW)
  • Planetfall, Emma Newman (Ace; Gollancz)
  • Wormwood, Tade Thompson (Orbit US; Orbit UK)

Best Related Work

This category is always odd, because it is intentionally a miscellaneous category intended as, among other things, a place to nominate new artforms. Anyway, three things I nominated made it here, so obviously I think it is good. I am delighted that Jeannette Ng’s speech made the list, even though it never occurred to me that it was eligible. On the other hand, I think that other things on the list are more deserving of the trophy. But then, I have to admit that half the reason I’m delighted that the speech is here is precisely because of the people who are furious that it got nominated.

  • Joanna Russ, Gwyneth Jones (University of Illinois Press)
  • The Pleasant Profession of Robert A Heinlein, Farah Mendlesohn (Unbound)
  • “2019 John W. Campbell Award Acceptance Speech”, Jeannette Ng (Dublin 2019 — An Irish Worldcon)
  • The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick, Mallory O’Meara (Hanover Square)
  • Becoming Superman: My Journey From Poverty to Hollywood, J. Michael Straczynski (Harper Voyager US)
  • Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin

Best Graphic Story or Comic

When I was younger I was reading comic books as they came out, before they were collected into graphic novels. I tend to wait, now, so I’m not as up on what all is out there, like I used to be. This year while I was trying to fill out my nomination ballot, I learned that almost everything I’d read in the last year had been published earlier, so I didn’t nominate many. Only one title below is one that I have read recently (and nominated). But I’m familiar with several of the writers and artists of the other titles, so I’m looking forward to reading them.

  • Die, Volume 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker, Kieron Gillen, illustrated by Stephanie Hans (Image)
  • The Wicked + The Divine, Volume 9: Okay, Kieron Gillen, illustrated by Jamie McKelvie & Matt Wilson (Image Comics)
  • Monstress, Volume 4: The Chosen, Marjorie Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda (Image)
  • LaGuardia, Nnedi Okorafor, illustrated by Tana Ford, colours by James Devlin (Berger Books/Dark Horse)
  • Paper Girls, Volume 6, Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang & Matt Wilson (Image)
  • Mooncakes, Wendy Xu & Suzanne Walker (Oni Press; Lion Forge)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

Three things I nominated made this list. Two others I have reason to believe are really good. One… one is going under No Award on my ballot already. But I don’t think anyone who knows me will be surprised that the number one slot on my ballot is going to Good Omens

  • Avengers: Endgame
  • Captain Marvel
  • Good Omens
  • Russian Doll, Season One
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
  • Us

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

Only one episode I nominated made it to the list. A couple of the other series, I nominated different episodes than are here.

  • Doctor Who: “Resolution”
  • The Expanse: “Cibola Burn”
  • The Good Place: “The Answer”
  • The Mandalorian: “Redemption”
  • Watchmen: “A God Walks into Abar”
  • Watchmen: “This Extraordinary Being”

Best Editor, Short Form

Editor categories are always hard to predict. Three of the editors I nominated made it here. Two of the others I am familiar with their work already. It will be interesting researching the others.

  • Neil Clarke
  • Ellen Datlow
  • C.C. Finlay
  • Jonathan Strahan
  • Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas
  • Sheila Williams

Best Editor, Long Form

The last couple of years what I have tried to do in this category is find out the editor of the novels I nominated. This year, I was only able to find out who was one of the editors of the five novels I nominated. She made it to the list. I really wish the book publishers would make it easier to find who the editors are. It was only after the ballot was released today that I found out that one single editor who wasn’t on my ballot edited two things I nominated. They didn’t make it to the list, and I firmly belief part of the reason is because people like me can’t find out who edited the books we love!

  • Sheila Gilbert
  • Brit Hvide
  • Diana M. Pho
  • Devi Pillai
  • Miriam Weinberg
  • Navah Wolfe

Best Professional Artist

Several great choices. I suspect the ones I’m not familiar with already are good, as well.

  • Tommy Arnold
  • Rovina Cai
  • Galen Dara
  • John Picacio
  • Yuko Shimizu
  • Alyssa Winans

Best Semiprozine

Three of my nominees made it to the list. The other three entries on the list are all things that almost made it. I just read/listen to a LOT. Every one of these publishes good stuff, so another really strong category.

  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies
  • Escape Pod
  • Fireside
  • FIYAH
  • Strange Horizons
  • Uncanny

Best Fanzine

Only one of the things I nominated made it to the list this time, but three more are publications that I quite love, and the other two I’ve never perused before, so I’m looking forward to exploring new things.

  • The Book Smugglers
  • Galactic Journey
  • Journey Planet
  • nerds of a feather, flock together
  • Quick Sip Reviews
  • The Rec Center

Best Fancast

Three of my nominees made the list. I’m familiar with a couple of the others and they almost made the cut. So, once again, a strong category.

  • Be the Serpent
  • The Coode Street Podcast
  • Galactic Suburbia
  • Our Opinions Are Correct
  • Claire Rousseau’s YouTube channel
  • The Skiffy and Fanty Show

Best Fan Writer

I was so happy watching the livestream when this category was announced. Three of the entries were also on my nomination ballot. Two of those are Blog Buddies! And the other three are people whose work I am at least partially familiar with and have enjoyed their work, so this is a category I’ll have a difficult time ranking.

  • Cora Buhlert
  • James Davis Nicoll
  • Alasdair Stuart
  • Bogi Takács
  • Paul Weimer
  • Adam Whitehead

Best Fan Artist

Good list!

  • Iain Clark
  • Sara Felix
  • Grace P. Fong
  • Meg Frank
  • Ariela Housman
  • Elise Matthesen

Lodestar for Best Young Adult Book (Not a Hugo)

Only one book I nominated made it to the list. But part of the problem there is that three other books that did make it were in my to-be-read pile at nomination time and I don’t feel right nominating if I haven’t read it. This is another really strong list and I’m looking forward to finishing a few books and reading two more.

  • The Wicked King, Holly Black (Little, Brown; Hot Key)
  • Deeplight, Frances Hardinge (Macmillan)
  • Minor Mage, T. Kingfisher (Argyll)
  • Catfishing on CatNet, Naomi Kritzer (Tor Teen)
  • Dragon Pearl, Yoon Ha Lee (Disney/Hyperion)
  • Riverland, Fran Wilde (Amulet)

Astounding Award for Best New Writer (Not a Hugo)

This is another really strong list!

  • Sam Hawke*
  • R.F. Kuang*
  • Jenn Lyons
  • Nibedita Sen*
  • Tasha Suri*
  • Emily Tesh

*Second year of eligibility

1945 Retro Hugo Nominees

The Retro Hugos are… weird. At final ballot time I seem to never pick the winners. I know that part of the problem with the Retros is that enough voters vote by looking for familiar names, so when an early story by someone who later became really good is on the ballot, even when that is one of the worst stories that later-famous author ever wrote, and clearly the weakest story on the Retro ballot, it still wins.

That said…

I’m happy that Leigh Brackett has several nominations.

I am even more happy that C.L. Moore is nominated in several categories!

I am delighted that a movie based on a story by Oscar Wilde made it into one of the Dramatic Presentation categories.

Related, a non-fiction book by H.G. Wells is also nominated. Wouldn’t it be awesome if Oscar Wilde and H.G. Wells won Retro Hugos at the same time? I’m just saying!

I am not surprised that Edgar Rice Burroughs appears more than once, but remember he owned his own publishing company by this point, and was churning out work at an insane pace.

The f-ing fascist was nominated in one of the editor categories. I really hope that my fave, Raymond Palmer finally gets one of the Retro Hugos, but we all know it is almost guaranteed to go the fascist, so…

Best Novel

  • “Shadow Over Mars”, Leigh Brackett (Startling Stories Fall ’44)
  • Land of Terror, Edgar Rice Burroughs (Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.)
  • The Golden Fleece, Robert Graves (Cassell)
  • “The Winged Man”, E. Mayne Hull & A.E. Van Vogt (Astounding Science Fiction 5-6/44)
  • The Wind on the Moon, Eric Linklater (Macmillan)
  • Sirius, Olaf Stapledon (Secker & Warberg)

Best Novella

  • “The Jewel of Bas”, Leigh Brackett (Planet Stories Spring ’44)
  • “A God Named Kroo”, Henry Kuttner (Thrilling Wonder Stories Winter ’44)
  • “Trog”, Murray Leinster (Astounding Science Fiction 6/44)
  • “Intruders from the Stars”, Ross Rocklynne (Amazing Stories 1/44)
  • “Killdozer!”, Theodore Sturgeon (Astounding Science Fiction 11/44)
  • “The Changeling”, A.E. van Vogt (Astounding Science Fiction 4/44)

Best Novelette

  • “The Big and the Little”, Isaac Asimov (Astounding Science Fiction 8/44)
  • “Arena”, Fredric Brown (Astounding Science Fiction 6/44)
  • “No Woman Born”, C.L. Moore (Astounding Science Fiction 12/44)
  • “The Children’s Hour”, Lawrence O’Donnell (C.L. Moore & Henry Kuttner) (Astounding Science Fiction 3/44)
  • “When the Bough Breaks”, Lewis Padgett (C.L. Moore & Henry Kuttner) (Astounding Science Fiction 11/44)
  • “City”, Clifford D. Simak (Astounding Science Fiction 5/44)

Best Short Story

  • “The Wedge”, Isaac Asimov (Astounding Science Fiction 10/44)
  • “I, Rocket”, Ray Bradbury (Amazing Stories 5/44)
  • “And the Gods Laughed”, Fredric Brown (Planet Stories Spring ’44)
  • “Desertion”, Clifford D. Simak (Astounding Science Fiction 11/44)
  • “Huddling Place”, Clifford D. Simak (Astounding Science Fiction 7/44)
  • “Far Centaurus”, A.E. van Vogt (Astounding Science Fiction 1/44)

Best Series

  • Pellucidar, Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • Jules de Grandin, Seabury Quinn
  • The Shadow, Maxwell Gibson (Walter B. Grant)
  • Captain Future, Brett Sterling
  • Doc Savage, Kenneth Robeson/Lester Dent
  • Cthulhu Mythos, H.P. Lovecraft, August Derleth, and others

Best Related Work

  • “The Science-Fiction Field”, Leigh Brackett (Writer’s Digest 7/44)
  • Mr. Tompkins Explores the Atom, George Gamow (Cambridge University Press)
  • “The Works of H.P. Lovecraft: Suggestions for a Critical Appraisal”, Fritz Leiber (The Acolyte Fall ’44)
  • Rockets: The Future of Travel Beyond the Stratosphere, Willy Ley (Viking Press)
  • Fancyclopedia, Jack Speer (Forrest J Ackerman)
  • ‘42 To ‘44: A Contemporary Memoir Upon Human Behavior During the Crisis of the World Revolution, H.G. Wells (Secker & Warburg)

Best Graphic Story or Comic

  • Donald Duck: “The Mad Chemist”, Carl Barks (Dell Comics)
  • >Buck Rogers: “Hollow Planetoid”, Dick Calkins (National Newspaper Service)
  • Flash Gordon: “Battle for Tropica”, Alex Raymond (King Features Syndicate)
  • Flash Gordon: “Triumph in Tropica”, Alex Raymond (Kings Features Syndicate)
  • Superman: “The Mysterious Mr. Mxyztplk”, Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster (DC)
  • The Spirit: “For the Love of Clara Defoe”, Manly Wade Wellman, Lou Fine, and Don Komisarow

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

  • The Canterville Ghost
  • The Curse of the Cat People
  • Donovan’s Brain
  • House of Frankenstein
  • The Invisible Man’s Revenge
  • It Happened Tomorrow

Best Professional Editor, Short Form

  • John W. Campbell, Jr.
  • Oscar J. Friend
  • Mary Gnaedinger
  • Dorothy McIlwraith
  • Raymond A. Palmer
  • W. Scott Peacock

Best Professional Artist

  • Earle Bergey
  • Margaret Brundage
  • Boris Dolgov
  • Matt Fox
  • Paul Orban
  • William Timmins

Best Fanzine

  • The Acolyte
  • Diablerie
  • Futurian War Digest
  • Shangri L’Affaires
  • Voice of the Imagi-Nation
  • Le Zombie

Best Fan Writer

  • Fritz Leiber, Jr.
  • Morojo (Myrtle R. Douglas)
  • J. Michael Rosenblum
  • Jack Speer
  • Bob Tucker
  • Harry Warner, Jr.

Edited to add: Where To Find The 2020 Hugo Award Finalists For Free Online.

The return of the attack of the fumble fingers

Dang it, was barely started on the formatting, let alone my comments!

Okay, now you can read the post: Line up your rockets! Or, we have the 2020 Hugo Award Finalists!

The Parable of the Speck and the Log, or, telling others how to love sf/f will never work

Imagine that you, like me, were a fan of your local sports team. Imagine that you have watched their games for years—perhaps since childhood with fond memories of cheering the team on with your loved ones. Imagine that you wear the team t-shirt every Friday during the sports season. Imagine that when you see strangers on the street, or bus, or in the store also wearing the t-shirt (or hat, or scarf, or some other article of clothing with the team logo), you exclaim the team cheer (in my case it’s “Go Hawks!”), and the other person smiles and either repeats the phrase to you, or replies with another well-known cheer for the team.

Imagine that (perhaps because it was a time in your life when you couldn’t afford the official team merch) you made your own scarf or hat in the team colors. Or maybe you just couldn’t find the thing you wanted, so you made the banner or the sign or whatever about your favorite player or the team and put it out to share in the team spirit.

Year after year, game after game, you cheer for your team when they win. You are sad when they lose. You get ecstatic, jumping up and down and screaming, when they make it to the play-offs. When they don’t win the championship, you console your fellow fans, talking about how they were robbed and how next year will be different. Over the years you’ve bought tickets and attended games when you could afford to, you’ve bought the merch, you’ve organized viewing parties, you have screamed and hollered and been a fan.

Then, finally, imagine your team makes it all way to the top. They win all the games in the play-offs, they make it to the final championship, and OMG, they win!

Oh, the cheering and the screaming! Fans pounding each other on the back! Shouting “We won! We won! We are the champions!”

The team flies back home and there’s going to be a parade, so you put on your team jersey and your hat and scarf with the logo. You make a big sign on which you have painted the team logo and written the words, “We’re #1!”

And there you are at the parade, in a crowded sidewalk, holding up your signs, yelling happily as the team goes by on the vehicles of the parade. You’re excited and happy and everything is wonderful.

Except a guy walks up to you. You don’t recognize him. Maybe he’s wearing a button down shirt and tasteful slacks. He’s holding a clipboard. “No, you are not number one,” he says, angrily.

You’re confused “What? We won!”

He shakes his head, pulls out some identification that seems to say that he is an official of the league. “You did not win. They won. You are not a member of the team. You are just some wannabe who thinks that being a fan counts.”

And suddenly, everyone else on the sidewalk goes silent. Some of the people in the crowd say, “Technically, he’s right. We didn’t win. We cheered them on to the win, but that’s not the same thing.”

And someone else in the crowd points to the jersey and other gear he’s wearing and says, “I support the team with my money, too! I’m at least a part of the win!”

The guy with the clipboard and some others in the crowd shake their heads. “You can technically say that you contributed to an award winning team, but that’s it. Anything else is just a slap in the face to all those hard-working players who won this year and in the years before.” He takes your homemade sign away from you. “This is trademark violation. Don’t make us sue you.”

The parade is decidedly less festive after that.

Imagine a few months later, and you’ve tried to shake off the feeling you had when you were told that you, as merely a fan, have no share in the team’s victory. It was just some silly technical legal thing, you decided. That’s okay. You still love your team. You still wear your t-shirt. And when you see another person wearing their shirt and they exclaim the traditional cheer, without thinking you reply, “We’re number one!”

And suddenly the clipboard guy is there. “Okay, that joke might have been funny right after the win, but you have to stop. Every time you claim that you’re part of the winning team that is a slap in the face to all the actual winners. You are disrespecting the championship trophy. You are shitting all over the award. Don’t you see that?”

“But I’m just being a fan. This is what we do,” you explain. “We cheer when they win, we cry when they lose. We put in our time and money supporting them. When I say ‘We’re number one’ I know that I wasn’t literally out there on the field, but we’re still part of the team.”

The guy with clipboard sneers, looking you up and down. “Don’t be ridiculous. You could never be part of the team. Show respect for their hard work.”

“How is cheering not showing respect?”

“I never said that cheering isn’t showing respect. Check your notes. What I said was that when you shout ‘We’re number one’ and wave around your homemade sign that you are slapping them in the face.”

“But ‘We’re number one’ is literally a cheer—”

Clipboard guy leans in until his nose is practically touching yours and shouts, “Listen! Stop being an entitled, immature princess! Just sit over there and be quiet and wait until we tell you when you are supposed to clap and what you are supposed to yell and and stop trying to claim that you are something that you aren’t!”

You start to walk over to the designated fan place he has pointed you to. You see, among the other bewildered fans, one of the actual players from the team. “What are you doing here?” you ask.

The player smiles and says, “I’d rather share a space with a million silly people who think it’s awesome to be part of a win than one dour guy shrieking that people who love the team are entitled princesses.”

You don’t have to imagine, you just have to read the comments: ABOUT AO3’S HUGO AWARD.


Right after the Hugo awards ceremony, as part of my A Hugo of Our Own post I said:

I do have one quibble with some of my fellow members of AO3 (as we call it): you are not a Hugo Award-winner author. No matter how many of thousands of words of your fiction is in the Archive. Just as authors whose work was published in Uncanny Magazine this last year aren’t Hugo winners by dent of Uncanny winning the award; they are authors who have been published in an award-winning zine. Another way to look at it: Camestros Felapton compared the AO3 entity to a library: “It’s the library that’s being nominated, which includes its contents but which is not the same as its contents.” (emphasis added).

Yes, all of us who support, use, and contribute to Archive of Our Own should take pride in this win. But don’t go slapping a Hugo logo on your fanfic, all right?

I haven’t yet seen anyone grousing about AO3 winning. I saw a bit of that “Ew! Fanfic! ICKY!” when it was nominated. I saw more people trying to disguise their fear of fanfic cooties with arguments about why the Archive itself is not a “Work” in the sense necessary for the award.

I firmly believe that if someone seriously tries to claim to be a Hugo Winner because they have fanfic in the Archive of Our Own that they are making a fraudulent claim. I also fully support sending a cease and desist to the couple of people who are trying to sell unlicensed Hugo merchandise or running a kickstarter with unlicensed use of the Hugo logo.

But…

  • Someone who changes their twitter handle temporarily to “Hugo nominated pornographer”, or
  • someone else making a single comment on twitter being happy that Hugo voters have endorsed their man-loving-man slashfic, or
  • someone else making a few comments on twitter that all the fanfic they love is now award-winning, or
  • someone else making a single ‘I have written Hugo award winning porn, you’re welcome’ comment

…are clearly not literally claiming to be Hugo winners. What they are doing is precisely the same as fans shouting, “We’re number one!” after the team they love wins the championship.

That is not disrespecting the award, that is reveling in it!

And Clipboard Guy? It doesn’t matter if you are technically, pedantically, legally correct when you point out that the cheering fan isn’t actually a player who fought it out on the field and won the game—you’re still being a biased, dour jerk who is screaming in the face of some fans because they aren’t being fans in exactly the way you want them to. And it doesn’t matter if you don’t think you’re telling them to keep their fanfic cooties off their award, because sometimes our words have implications we didn’t mean—that you didn’t (consciously) mean them doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

Finally, you’re the only person who is disrespecting the spirit of the award.

Astounding Stories of Super-Science, or name changes are nothing new in sf/f

The February, 1930 cover of Astounding Stories of Super-Scinece, cover art by  H. W. Wesso. In 1930 the magazine's editor was Harry Bates.

The February, 1930 cover of Astounding Stories of Super-Scinece, cover art by H. W. Wesso. In 1930 the magazine’s editor was Harry Bates.

Just last week I commented on the kerfuffle in sci fi fannish circles about how problematic some of us think it is to have one of our major awards named after an extremely racist (and misogynist, classist, xenophobic, anti-democracy advocating authoritarian) and long deceased editor. I only linked to a fraction of the commentaries and arguments posted online since the acceptance speech that kicked this off. And while the kerfuffle has raged on there has been a very significant development: A Statement from the Editor.

As we move into Analog’s 90th anniversary year, our goal is to keep the award as vital and distinguished as ever, so after much consideration, we have decided to change the award’s name to The Astounding Award for Best New Writer.

So, Dell Magazines has decided to rename the award. They pledge that the award recipients will continue to be selected in the same way as before, and pledge to work with WorldCon going forward to implement the change. This might seem like really swift action on the company’s part, but another article published just the day before this announcement, the current editor is quoted as saying that he has been having this conversation within the company since shortly after he read an early draft of Alec Nevala-Lee’s book about the Campbell era: Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction.

As many people have pointed out, there have been previous op-eds, letters, and even petitions suggesting changing the name of the award, so it is hardly a new idea.

This decision has been no less controversial than the aforementioned speech. And I find it particularly amusing that one of the arguments being put forward by people who don’t want to change the award’s name is that changing names is bad and it somehow erases history.

This argument is particularly amusing in light of both an award an an editor tied to the magazine formerly known as Astounding.

When the magazine just began publication in 1930, the full title was Astounding Stories of Super-Science, as you can see by the image of the ‘zine’s second issue included above. A few years later, the title was shortened to Astounding Stories. Then, shortly after Campbell took over as editor, he renamed the magazine Astounding Science Fiction, which is the name it operated under until 1960, when Campbell changed the name to Analog Science Fact & Science Fiction.

That last name change was handled in an interesting way, graphically. For a few months both the name Astounding and Analog could be seen, with Astounding fading more and more each month. There was also a lot of variation with the rest of title, sometimes appearing as Science Fact & Fiction, sometimes Science Fact/Fiction, and sometimes with the ampersand or slash replaced by a glyph that looked like an inverted U with a line through it which Campbell said meant “analogous to.”

Which gets us to another faulty argument being made against the new name: calling it the Astounding Award still makes the name honor Campbell, and why isn’t that problematic? First, Astounding was published for seven years before Campbell became editor, and the previous two editors weren’t quite as ideologically driven in their story choices as Campbell. Second, Campbell was the one who wanted to stop calling the magazine Astounding all along. And third, while Astounding is one of the names of the publication in question, it’s also an adjective which is a synonym for wonderful or amazing.

Based on a lot of comments I’ve seen from the irritated ones, most of them don’t actually know that much about Campbell. They certainly haven’t read any of his notorious editorials. I suspect that for most of them, they know that he published Heinlein and Asimov and the like—and I suspect they haven’t read many of those author’s works, either. Campbell’s sort of a Rorschach test in that way: they see what the want to see. And frankly, the main thing they know is that those darn Social Justice Warriors and uppity people of color and decadent queer fans are critical of Campbell, therefore he must be defended at all costs no matter how illogically.

I didn’t start regularly reading sci fi zines until shortly after Campbell’s death, and even then, the magazines I preferred were Galazy and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Most of what I knew about Campbell in my early years came from the autobiographical bits that Isaac Asimov included in his anthologies (especially The Early Asimov) but even Asimov’s portrayal of him did not ignore some of Campbell’s eccentricities and flaws.

I recall Asimov seeming least happy about Campbell’s insistence that if aliens appear in a story, they absolutely must be shown to be inferior to humans in some way. It so bothered Isaac, and Isaac felt that he owed Campbell first shot at any of his stories, that Asimov simply stopped writing aliens at all. Asimov’s future history galaxy-spanning society was inhabited by humans and their robots and that was it.

Campbell had a lot of other rules about stories that pushed the field of science fiction into a specific idealogical corner. One in which rich, white, aggressive men were always on the top of the heap, and where the working class, poor, less educated, and women and people of color were always on the bottom—and always in need to the leadership of the folks on top.

For all that Campbell is often regarded as a proponent of keeping science in science fiction, one has to note that Campbell meant physics and chemistry. Sciences such as geology, paleontology, anthropology, linguistics, and sociology weren’t part of the Campbellian vision.

Society changes. Our understanding of the universe and our place in it changes. Science fiction as an art form and the fannish community of Campbell’s peak years wasn’t very welcoming to women, queer people, people of color. Yes, there were always fans and creators within the sci fi community who came from those other communities, but it was clear that we weren’t meant to be heroes. That our stories never mattered. That our role was always to be supporting characters or sit quietly and marvel at the competence of men like Campbell.

And that’s neither true of the real world, nor is it something an ethical person should aspire to.

So, yes, the name change is a good thing. Because one of the things I love about good science fiction, are those moments that astound me.

That has always been here, or politics aren’t a new thing in sf/f

The cover of the November, 1950 issue of Astounding Stories. Cover art by David E. Pattee. The cover illustration shares the same title as John W. Campbell's political editorial published in the same issue.

The cover of the November, 1950 issue of Astounding Stories. Cover art by David E. Pattee. The cover illustration shares the same title as John W. Campbell’s political editorial published in the same issue.

I’ve been a fan of Jeannette Ng since a friend recommended her novel, Under the Pendulum Sun a bit over a year ago, so I was overjoyed when at this last weekend’s WorldCon they read her name as the winner of this year’s John W. Campbell Award. And her acceptance speech began with the line: “John W. Campbell, for whom this award was named, was a fascist.” And she went on to talk about how the way he shaped the genre excluded many people but then, “But these bones, we have grown wonderful, ramshackle genre, wilder and stranger than his mind could imagine or allow.” And then she pivoted to talk about the current situation in Hong Kong, the city in which she was born. You can read the text version here. As you might guess, her speech has drawn some criticism from certain corners of the fandom.

I am not one of the people upset with her words. I was watching the livestream and when she spoke those opening words I literally exclaimed, “She went there! YES! Oh, you go grrrl!”

The reasons people have given for being upset at her words boil down to basically three claims:

  • It is inappropriate to make a political statement in a science fiction award acceptance speech,
  • Campbell was conservative, but not really a fascist,
  • It is extremely ungrateful to say such a thing about a man while accepting his award.

Let’s take on each of those assertions:

Are political statements inappropriate at sci fi award ceremony? During the approximately 33 years that Campbell was Editor of Astounding Science-Fiction he wrote an editorial for every monthly issue and almost none of those editorials were about science fiction. Most of those editorials were on various political topics. You can read a bunch of them here. He injected his opinions on race, democracy, the poor, and many other topics every month into that magazine. Many years after his death, Michael Moorcock (award-winning British sf/f author probably best known for the Elric series) observed that Astounding under Campbell was a crypto-fascist platform.

Campbell wasn’t the only one putting politics into science fiction.

  • Part of the plot of H.G. Wells’ classic novel, The Time Machine (published in 1895), is a commentary on the destructive nature of capitalism and the economic/social class system.
  • One of Jules Verne’s novels, Paris in the Twentieth Century, was such a scathing indictment of the dehumanizing power of industrialism, that no one would publish it until almost a hundred years after his death! In the original manuscript for Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (published in 1870) Nemo was a Polish scientist who was bent on revenge agains the Russian Empire because Russia had invaded his homeland and killed his family. It had a moving speech by Nemo condemning Russian Imperialism. Verne’s publisher, knowing that much of the income for Verne’s earlier scientific adventure stories had come from Russian reprints, asked him to remove that, and suggested that if Nemo needed to have a political cause, that perhaps the abolition of the slave trade would be a target that wouldn’t harm sales. Verne decided not to do either, and so there are some enigmatic scenes in the novel when Nemo destroys some ships flying a flag he finds offensive, but our viewpoint character never knows what flag it is, nor why Nemo hates it.
  • Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (published in 1818), among other things, explores the relationship between individual freedom and one’s obligations to society. Many of her short stories and books written after Frankenstein explore the role of women in society (and why they should have the right to vote and own property) and directly tackled various political institutions.

I could find many more examples throughout the history of science fiction. But the upshot is, politics have been in the fiction itself, and creators of science fiction have used both the stories and other associated platforms they gained access to as writers for making political statements the entire time.

Was Campbell a fascist? At least several of the people claiming he wasn’t a fascist admit that he was racist, but they insist that isn’t the same as being a fascist unless you are using a really loose and “modern” definition of the term.

Campbell advocated a lot of fascist ideas in addition to his racist policies, such as means-testing for voting rights (Constitution for Utopia {1961}). He argued many times against democracy (Keeperism {1965}) or the rule of law (Segregation {1963}) rather than the rule of wise men. He argued that many people (particularly black people) were better off enslaved (Breakthrough in Psychology {1965}, Colonialism {1961} and Keeperism {1965}) and they even wanted to be enslaved, and that the genocidal disasters caused by colonialism were the fault of the inferior culture of the victims (Constitution for Utopia {1961} and Colonialism {1961}), not the colonial powers. He also argued that the death of children in medical experiments was for the good of society (The Lesson of Thalidomide {1963}). He argued the poor people were poor because they deserved to be (Hyperinfracaniphilia {1965}) and that society was better off transferring wealth to the rich. He argued in favor of racial profiling and the persecution of anyone who did not conform to conservative societal norms (The Demeaned Viewpoint {1955}). And (because of course he did) he argued for sterilizing people with undesirable traits to prevent them having children (On The Selective Breeding of Human Beings {1961}).

That last one is right out of the Hitler-era Nazi playbook!

John W. Campbell espoused and promoted fascist policies. You don’t have to use a modern or loose definition of fascism to recognize that he was a fascist, you just need to read what he wrote there in the pages of Astounding Science-Fiction.

Those editorials are part of the reason that, for instance, Asimov said that Campbell’s views became so extreme that he sent fewer and fewer stories to Campbell.

Campbell liked to micro-manage authors he published, in some cases pressuring writers to revise stories to conform to his authoritarian, racist, and misogynist views.

Is it ungrateful to accept his award while critiquing him? I (almost) can’t believe people are making this argument. Campbell’s ghost is not giving out this award. Campbell’s estate is not giving out this award. This award is handed out by the World Science Fiction Society, after a nomination and voting process in which members of the World Science Fiction Society participate. The award is named after Campbell, but it isn’t his award nor is it coming from him in any way.

I am a member in good standing of the World Science Fiction Society, and it just so happens that on my Hugo Ballot this year I put Jeannette Ng in the number one spot for the John W. Campbell Award on my ballot. But even if I hadn’t placed her at #1, I would still insist that the award is coming from the 3097 World Science Fiction Society members who voted in this year’s contest. It is not coming from Mr. Campbell, who died 48 years ago, the award is coming from us.

In recent years we’ve had a misogynist, racist, and homophobic faction of the fandom organize to try to purge science fiction of the “wrong” kind of fan and the “wrong” kind of writer. That’s the bones of exclusion that Ng talked about in her speech coming back to haunt us. Part of their attempted purge was to slate-vote the Hugo awards, until we changed the rules to make it much harder for them to take over entire categories. That means that the Hugo award ceremony is not merely an appropriate place to deliver Ng’s critique, it’s the perfect place.

It is clearly time to discuss renaming the award. That doesn’t mean penalizing any past nominees or winners. It doesn’t mean exiling Campbell and the writers he cultivated from the canon of sf/f. It simply recognizes that just because a person had a profound effect on the genre, that impact doesn’t negate problematic aspects of his actions within the community. And as the sf/f community and field grows and changes over time—as our awareness of the diversity of people and ideas that have previously not been welcomed to the table expands—it is perfectly appropriate to make changes in how we recognize and honor excellence in the field.


Mike Glyer has an excellent round up of postings and comments from other people over at File 770: Storm Over Campbell Award.

Edited to Add: Elseweb I received some quibbles about the third part of my argument here. While the nominees for the award are chosen by the Hugo voters of the WSFS, and the winner is chosen by those same voters, the award is technically owned by Dell Magazines, the company that publishes the science fiction magazine Campbell was most associated with. That’s why the announcements and such always mention that the award is technically not a Hugo. I was aware of that at the time, but considered it only a distracting tidbit. Dell Magazines is not the Campbell Estate. Campbell’s estate doesn’t contribute any money to the making of the award pins that all nominees get, and of course, Campbell’s ghost does not hand out the award.

More news here: Astounding Stories of Super-Science, or name changes are nothing new in sf/f.

Fumble fingers again

I was still editing and accidentally click Publish in stead of Save.

But now the post is up: That has always been here, or politics aren’t a new thing in sf/f.

A Hugo of Our Own

A close up of the Hugo award won by Archive of Our Own this week.

A close up of the Hugo award won by Archive of Our Own this week.

I watched the livestream of the Hugo Awards ceremony broadcast from DublinCon yesterday. When the feed wasn’t glitching or having other problems, it was great. And I got to squee live on twitter about some of the wins. The ceremony flowed well, the setting was nice. The music choices were good, and the co-presenters Afua Richardson and Michael Scott did a lovely job. More than a couple of moments brought tears to my eyes. There was also a lot of laughter. So, good ceremony, and as I indicated when I talked about trying to finalize my ballot, we had so, so many excellent nominees in every category that no matter who won I was going to be happy.

Before I comment further (just in case you haven’t seen the list elsewhere), here are the winners.

2019 Hugo Award Winners:

Best Novel: The Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette Kowal

Best Novella: Artificial Condition, by Martha Wells

Best Novelette: “If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again,” by Zen Cho

Best Short Story: “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies,” by Alix E. Harrow

Best Series: Wayfarers, by Becky Chambers

Best Related Work: Archive of Our Own, a project of the Organization for Transformative Works

Best Graphic Story: Monstress, Volume 3: Haven, written by Marjorie Liu, art by Sana Takeda

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: The Good Place: “Janet(s)”

Best Professional Editor, Long Form: Navah Wolfe

Best Professional Editor, Short Form: Gardner Dozois

Best Professional Artist: Charles Vess

Best Art Book: The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition, illustrated by Charles Vess, written by Ursula K. Le Guin

Best Semiprozine: Uncanny Magazine

Best Fanzine: Lady Business

Best Fancast: Our Opinions Are Correct

Best Fan Writer: Foz Meadows

Best Fan Artist: Likhain (Mia Sereno)

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer: Jeannette Ng

Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book: Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi

The full voting statistics have also been posted and can be read here.


In seven of the categories this year, the nominee I had at number one on my own ballot got the Hugo. So that was fun! In three of the categories my second choice won.

I’m particularly pleased the Archive of Our Own, which is an enormous fanfiction repository, won in the Related Works category. I do have one quibble with some of my fellow members of AO3 (as we call it): you are not a Hugo Award-winner author. No matter how many of thousands of words of your fiction is in the Archive. Just as authors whose work was published in Uncanny Magazine this last year aren’t Hugo winners by dent of Uncanny winning the award; they are authors who have been published in an award-winning zine. Another way to look at it: Camestros Felapton compared the AO3 entity to a library: “It’s the library that’s being nominated, which includes its contents but which is not the same as its contents.” (emphasis added).

Yes, all of us who support, use, and contribute to Archive of Our Own should take pride in this win. But don’t go slapping a Hugo logo on your fanfic, all right?

I haven’t yet seen anyone grousing about AO3 winning. I saw a bit of that “Ew! Fanfic! ICKY!” when it was nominated. I saw more people trying to disguise their fear of fanfic cooties with arguments about why the Archive itself is not a “Work” in the sense necessary for the award. I think a number of us have already shown that it meets the definition.

One thing that I thought was more than slightly amusing elseweb was that one of the same people I saw arguing that AO3 wasn’t a “related work” was also upset about the Fan Writer category including people who get paid for some of their writing. There seems to be some sort of cognitive dissonance going on there.

Anyway, not only did AO3 win, but it won by a huge margin! Which means that a heck of a lot of Hugo voters thought it deserved the award.

What the AO3 win means to me is that a lot of fans value fanfic and the fanfic community. Which probably oughtn’t to surprise is, since the Hugos are a fan-voted award and this is a category that frequently goes to fannish writing. But because people who dislike fanfic are so very vocal and persistent in their criticism, it’s easy to get the impression that fanfic isn’t popular. Just as the many critics of certain sci fi movies we could name makes us forget that millions of people had to buy tickets to said movie in order for it to make the amount of money it did.

It’s a variant of the True Fan Fallacy. The argument is that the wrong kind of fans like it. And to them I say, “Shove off!” The rest of us are here to talk about what we love and to, you know, actually love this stuff that we all claim to love. Because we’re fans—a noun derived from the word fanatic, because we are filled with sometimes excessive enthusiasm.

I am so happy for all the winners. I am even more happy that we had so many awesome stories to choose from this year. I really do wish we could give a rocket to all of them.

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