The eyes of many a science fiction and fantasy enthusiast were turned on Helsinki today, as the annual Hugo Awards were handed out at the 75th Worldcon.
For their 2017 iteration, the Hugos introduced a few changes. Starting this year, each category will now typically contain six, rather than five, finalists. Authors can no longer have more than two works each in the same category; this also applies to TV series, meaning that the Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) category will never again be flooded with Doctor Who.
Topping things off, the Hugos are trialing a whole new category: Best Series. To qualify, a series of novels must have three or more installments, including at least one published in the year of eligibility, and a combined word count of at least 240,000.
The Vorkosigan Saga, a long-running space opera by Worldcon favourite Lois McMaster Bujold, has the distinction of being the first winner of the Hugo Award for Best Series.
Best Novel went to N. K. Jemisin’s post-apocalyptic study of oppression, The Obelisk Gate. This victory was not entirely surprising: the book is the sequel to The Fifth Season, which won Best Novel last year.
The short fiction categories show a distinctly meta slant this year, with the current generation of SF/F authors putting new spins on old genre standbys. Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire’s exploration of what happens to the child protagonists of portal fantasies once they enter the world of adolescent angst, is this year’s Best Novella. Amal El-Mohtar’s “Seasons of Glass and Iron”, which puts a lesbian twist on traditional fairy tales, won Best Short Story. On a similar note, Ursula Vernon’s “The Tomato Thief”, which takes the building blocks of European fairy tales and relocates
them to a magical interpretation of the old American West, was named Best Novelette.
The Best Related Work category was won by one of science fiction’s most respected names: Ursula K. Le Guin, whose nonfiction collection Words Are My Matter took the trophy. Meanwhile, Best Graphic Story went to Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening, by writer Marjorie Liu and artist Sana Takeda.
In the Best Dramatic Presentation categories, Arrival won for Long Form and “Leviathan Wakes” – an episode of SyFy’s The Expanse – won the trophy in Short Form.
Julie Dillon was named Best Professional Artist, while Elizabeth Leggett won Best Fan Artist. Abigail Nussbaum of Asking the Wrong Questions was named Best Fan Writer, feminist blog Lady Business earned the trophy for Best Fanzine, Emma and Peter Newman’s Tea and Jeopardy was voted Best Fancast, and Uncanny Magazine became the latest winner of Best Semiprozine. The people named Best Editor were Liz Gorinsky for Long Form and Ellen Datlow for Short Form.
Finally, Ada Palmer won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer; her book Too Like the Lightning was also a finalist for Best Novel this year.
Whither the Puppies?
Another change this year was Worldcon’s introduction of a new system that will limit the impact of slate-voting, a response to the effects of the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies campaigns across the previous three years.
Rabid Puppies leader Vox Day published a slate in 2017, but unlike its predecessors, it included only one or two nominees per category. Under the new system of vote-tallying, concentrating on smaller number of candidates yields better results for the Rabids than spreading votes across a larger mass.
Of the slated choices, some are tied to Day’s own publishing company, Castalia House; some are works that had a strong chance of being nominated without Puppy assistance, such as the Deadpool film; and one is an out-and-out troll choice: Stix Hiscock’s pornographic novelette Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T-Rex. In all, eleven of the twenty-two Rabid picks made the final ballot. After the finalists were announced, Day encouraged his supporters to vote for N. K. Jemisin’s The Obelisk Gate in the Best Novel category – an apparent effort to ensure that, should she win, her victory would be tainted.
The Sad Puppies, meanwhile, have been missing in action. The campaign stated that, instead of issuing a single list geared towards the Hugos, its approach for 2017 would involve running a monthly ranking that could be applied to multiple awards:
This year the Sad Puppies (5) will host a page, on which you can make recommendations, and which will, every month, give you a collated list of the 5 works with the most votes, in each subcategory (if we have that many, of course) and if/what awards they’re eligible for.
On January 10 this year, the website for the 2016 Sad Puppies campaign announced that a new site for 2017 would soon be going live. In the meantime, it encouraged readers to help compile a new list of recommended works in the post’s comment section. Not a single reply was left.
In late June, current Sad Puppies leader Sarah Hoyt published an update on the campaign at the blog Mad Genius Club. She cited personal health problems and technical difficulties as reasons that this year’s Sad Puppies campaign never took off.
Hoyt also directed some criticisms at the Rabid Puppies campaign, relating to tension in the Puppysphere from earlier this year.
Back in January, Sarah Hoyt and her cohort Amanda S. Green each made a post at Mad Genius Club objecting to a fellow Puppy author, who had posted a Sad Puppies recommendation list even though Hoyt had not started assembling the official selection. Hoyt theorised that the individual in question was attempting to take over the campaign himself – a job for which, she argued, “he would be the very worst person.”
The culprit – unnamed in either post – was Declan Finn, author of the anti-UN vampire romance Honor at Stake.
Finn subsequently responded with a blog post entitled “Rumors Bargains and Lies”. If anything, this garbled piece of work serves merely to back up Hoyt’s remarks that Finn has a “tendency to blog posts his own mother couldn’t interpret” and uses a writing style “normally so scattered you have to read tea leaves to find out what he’s saying”. Nevertheless, a number of Puppy supporters associated more with the Rabids than with the Sads voiced support for Finn in the face of this backlash.
Russell Newquist, an indie publisher who has picked up some of Finn’s novels, derided Hoyt and Green’s actions as a “cruel” response to Finn merely being “a bit socially awkward.” Meanwhile, one Rabid Puppy blogger wrote a post which, rather curiously, insinuates that Hoyt and Green are “Atheist, feminist womyn… more than happy to promote alternative lifestyles” and that their attack on Finn was an attempt to curry favour with “the authorities that hated the originators of the [Puppy] movement”. This interpretation suggests that the conflict may be between two ideological strands within the Puppy campaigns: the religious-right influence of the Rabids and the more secular libertarianism of the Sads.
In her June post on the topic, Hoyt directly addressed the Rabid Puppies campaign, criticising it for placing ideology above literary merit – exactly what the Puppies had accused left-wing fans of doing:
[Y]ou guys are aware your aesthetics and goals aren’t ours, right?
You just turned Marxist aesthetics on their head, and are judging books by being anti-Marxist and how much they don’t support the neo Marxist idea of justice. That’s cool and all. To each his own. And since, so far, your crazy isn’t being taught in schools, it’s slightly less annoying than the Marxist crazy.
It is still annoying, though, because you’re still judging literary value by whether it fits your (at least as crazy-cakes’ [sic]as the Marxists) narrative and your precepts.
These sentiments resulted in Hoyt receiving yet more backlash from Finn’s supporters. “Sad Puppies is a dead brand… [and]Regina George killed it” concluded Russell Newquist, invoking the villainess from the film Mean Girls. Meanwhile, Finn’s circle started a Twitter hashtag in his defence: #IamDeclanFinn.
While this brouhaha was occurring over the year, certain commentators from the Puppysphere played things safe by putting their own spins on the Sad Puppies label. Blogger Dan Wolfgang posted a list entitled Sad Pookas; aside from a few choices that were also on the Rabid Puppies slate, none of his suggestions made the Hugo ballot. Meanwhile, novelist Jon Del Arroz has started a website called Happy Frogs, which skipped the Hugos and is instead focusing on the Dragon Awards – where the Puppies have had considerably more success.
2017 Hugo Awards: Winners and Runners-Up
- Winner: The Obelisk Gate, by N. K. Jemisin
- All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders
- A Closed and Common Orbit, by Becky Chambers
- Death’s End, by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu
- Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee
- Too Like the Lightning, by Ada Palmer
- Winner: Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire
- The Ballad of Black Tom, by Victor LaValle
- The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, by Kij Johnson
- Penric and the Shaman, by Lois McMaster Bujold
- A Taste of Honey, by Kai Ashante Wilson
- This Census-Taker, by China Miéville
- Winner: “The Tomato Thief”, by Ursula Vernon
- Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T-Rex, by Stix Hiscock
- “The Art of Space Travel”, by Nina Allan
- “The Jewel and Her Lapidary”, by Fran Wilde
- “Touring with the Alien”, by Carolyn Ives Gilman
- “You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay”, by Alyssa Wong
Best Short Story
- Winner: “Seasons of Glass and Iron”, by Amal El-Mohtar
- “The City Born Great”, by N. K. Jemisin
- “A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers”, by Alyssa Wong
- “Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies”, by Brooke Bolander
- “That Game We Played During the War”, by Carrie Vaughn
- “An Unimaginable Light”, by John C. Wright
Best Related Work
- Winner: Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000-2016, by Ursula K. Le Guin
- The Geek Feminist Revolution, by Kameron Hurley
- The Princess Diarist, by Carrie Fisher
- Traveler of Worlds: Conversations with Robert Silverberg, by Robert Silverberg and Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
- The View From the Cheap Seats, by Neil Gaiman
- The Women of Harry Potter posts, by Sarah Gailey
Best Graphic Story
- Winner: Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening, written by Marjorie Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda (Image)
- Black Panther, Volume 1: A Nation Under Our Feet, written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, illustrated by Brian Stelfreeze (Marvel)
- Ms. Marvel, Volume 5: Super Famous, written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Takeshi Miyazawa (Marvel)
- Paper Girls, Volume 1, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, colored by Matthew Wilson, lettered by Jared Fletcher (Image)
- Saga, Volume 6, illustrated by Fiona Staples, written by Brian K. Vaughan, lettered by Fonografiks (Image)
- The Vision, Volume 1: Little Worse Than A Man, written by Tom King, illustrated by Gabriel Hernandez Walta (Marvel)
Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)
- Winner: Arrival, screenplay by Eric Heisserer based on a short story by Ted Chiang, directed by Denis Villeneuve
- Deadpool, screenplay by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick, directed by Tim Miller
- Ghostbusters, screenplay by Katie Dippold & Paul Feig, directed by Paul Feig
- Hidden Figures, screenplay by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, directed by Theodore Melfi
- Rogue One, screenplay by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, directed by Gareth Edwards
- Stranger Things, Season One, created by the Duffer Brothers
Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)
- Winner: The Expanse: “Leviathan Wakes”, written by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, directed by Terry McDonough (SyFy)
- Black Mirror: “San Junipero”, written by Charlie Brooker, directed by Owen Harris (House of Tomorrow)
- Doctor Who: “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Ed Bazalgette (BBC Cymru Wales)
- Game of Thrones: “Battle of the Bastards”, written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, directed by Miguel Sapochnik (HBO)
- Game of Thrones: “The Door”, written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, directed by Jack Bender (HBO)
- Splendor & Misery, by Clipping (Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, Jonathan Snipes)
Best Editor – Short Form
- Winner: Ellen Datlow
- John Joseph Adams
- Neil Clarke
- Jonathan Strahan
- Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas
- Sheila Williams
Best Editor – Long Form
- Winner: Liz Gorinsky
- Vox Day
- Sheila E. Gilbert
- Devi Pillai
- Miriam Weinberg
- Navah Wolfe
Best Professional Artist
- Winner: Julie Dillon
- Galen Dara
- Chris McGrath
- Victo Ngai
- John Picacio
- Sana Takeda
- Winner: Uncanny Magazine, edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, Julia Rios, and podcast produced by Erika Ensign & Steven Schapansky
- Beneath Ceaseless Skies, editor-in-chief and publisher Scott H. Andrews
- Cirsova Heroic Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, edited by P. Alexander
- GigaNotoSaurus, edited by Rashida J. Smith
- Strange Horizons, edited by Niall Harrison, Catherine Krahe, Vajra Chandrasekera, Vanessa Rose Phin, Li Chua, Aishwarya Subramanian, Tim Moore, Anaea Lay, and the Strange Horizons staff
- The Book Smugglers, edited by Ana Grilo and Thea James
- Winner: Lady Business, edited by Clare, Ira, Jodie, KJ, Renay, and Susan
- Castalia House Blog, edited by Jeffro Johnson
- Journey Planet, edited by James Bacon, Chris Garcia, Esther MacCallum-Stewart, Helena Nash, Errick Nunnally, Pádraig Ó Méalóid, Chuck Serface, and Erin Underwood
- nerds of a feather, flock together, edited by The G, Vance Kotrla, and Joe Sherry
- Rocket Stack Rank, edited by Greg Hullender and Eric Wong
- SF Bluestocking, edited by Bridget McKinney
- Winner: Tea and Jeopardy, presented by Emma Newman with Peter Newman
- The Coode Street Podcast, presented by Gary K. Wolfe and Jonathan Strahan
- Ditch Diggers, presented by Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace
- Fangirl Happy Hour, presented by Ana Grilo and Renay Williams
- Galactic Suburbia, presented by Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce and Tansy Rayner Roberts, produced by Andrew Finch
- The Rageaholic, presented by RazörFist
Best Fan Writer
- Winner: Abigail Nussbaum
- Mike Glyer
- Jeffro Johnson
- Natalie Luhrs
- Foz Meadows
- Chuck Tingle
Best Fan Artist
- Winner: Elizabeth Leggett
- Ninni Aalto
- Vesa Lehtimäki
- Likhain (M. Sereno)
- Spring Schoenhuth
- Steve Stiles
- Winner: The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold
- The Craft Sequence, by Max Gladstone
- The Expanse, by James S.A. Corey
- The October Daye Books, by Seanan McGuire
- The Peter Grant / Rivers of London series, by Ben Aaronovitch
- The Temeraire series, by Naomi Novik
John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
- Winner: Ada Palmer
- Sarah Gailey
- J. Mulrooney
- Malka Older
- Laurie Penny
- Kelly Robson