Last year, two separate groups — Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies — were, to an extent, successful in derailing the Hugo award ceremony, when an unprecedented number of “No Awards” were handed out. However, this year, in what is being hailed as a victory of diversity and progress over “white privilege” in the field of science-fiction and fantasy literature, a diverse cast of writers were given the prestigious award.
The winners were announced late Saturday at MidAmeriCon II — the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) held in Kansas City, Missouri. N.K. Jemisin’s “The Fifth Season” and Nnedi Okorafor’s “Binti” won the award for Best Novel and Best Novella respectively.
Last year’s so-called “Puppygate” controversy was triggered by campaigners who wanted to “take back” the Hugos from what they said called was a tendency to award “literary” and “ideological” works.
“The Hugos (and the Nebulas too) have lost cachet, because at the same time SFF [Science Fiction and Fantasy] has exploded popularly — with larger-than-life, exciting, entertaining franchises and products — the voting body of “fandom” have tended to go in the opposite direction: niche, academic, overtly to the Left in ideology and flavor, and ultimately lacking what might best be called visceral, gut-level, swashbuckling fun,” science fiction writer Brad Torgersen, who led last year’s Sad Puppies campaign, previously wrote in a blog post. “The kind of child-like enjoyment that comes easily and naturally when you don’t have to crawl so far into your brain (or your navel) that you lose sight of the forest for the trees.”
Given that the award finalists are determined by ballot by those who have purchased an attending or supporting membership to either current or previous Worldcon events, supporters of the two campaigns managed to overwhelm certain categories with their selections. As a result, several other works were pushed out of the list. Other Hugo voters, upset by the maneuver, gave “No Awards” in five different categories — a number unprecedented in the over six decade history of the awards.
Even this year, several categories, such as the Best Fancast, Best Professional Artist, Best Graphic Story and Best Related Work, included selections from the list released by the two groups. However, none of their preferred slates of works won an award.
“When it [The Fifth Season] got nominated, I wondered how many of my fellow SFF fans, in a year headlined by reactionary pushback against the presence and performance of people like me in the genre, would choose to vote for the story of a forty-something big-boned dredlocked woman of color waging an epic struggle against the forces of oppression,” Jemisin, who was once called “an educated, but ignorant half-savage” by Rabid Puppies co-ordinator Theodore Beale, wrote in her acceptance speech delivered by fellow sci-fi author Alyssa Wong. “But I forgot: only a small number of ideologues have attempted to game the Hugo Awards. That small number can easily be overwhelmed, their regressive clamor stilled, if the rest of SFF fandom simply stands up to be counted.”
Here is the complete list of the works that won the 2016 Hugo Awards:
Best novel: "The Fifth Season" by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
Best novella: "Binti" by Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com)
Best novelette: "Folding Beijing" by Hao Jingfang, translated by Ken Liu (Uncanny Magazine, January-February 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 (Vertigo)
Best dramatic presentation (long form): "The Martian" screenplay by Drew Goddard, directed by Ridley Scott (Scott Free Productions; Kinberg Genre; TSG Entertainment; 20th Century Fox)
Best dramatic presentation (short form): Jessica Jones: “AKA Smile” written by Scott Reynolds, Melissa Rosenberg, and Jamie King, directed by Michael Rymer (Marvel Television; ABC Studios; Tall Girls Productions; Netflix)
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 (Not a Hugo Award, but administered along with the Hugo Awards): Andy Weir