The Hugo awards were announced Saturday night. I stayed up very late and watched the livestream from Sasquan because–well, let’s be honest. I probably wouldn’t have slept anyway. The ceremony itself was a bit bizarre, including a Dalek onstage, a kind of awful bit from Robert Silverberg, and a kind of awesome bit from Connie Willis (<3 ❤ <3). It was also TEDIOUSLY LONG. Seriously when you start announcing the awards almost an hour after the ceremony begins, it is too long.
But anyway, after all that the awards were announced and from my point of view it was (in keeping with the theme of the evening) YAY*.
It’s probably obvious that I don’t support the Puppies, but I will say it clearly: I don’t support the Puppies. I don’t have any problems with conservative SFF fans or writers, but that’s not what either of these groups are and I find the beliefs and statements from both groups to be generally awful. Even leaving aside their ongoing harassment of other fans and association with a certain group that shall not be named, I believe they are being disingenuous about their aims at best. Moreover slate voting as a thing rather than an anomaly will clearly destroy any integrity the Hugos have.
Sidebar. This is why it matters: when I was in high school and cutting my SFF fan eyeteeth, one of the things I did was read through my friend’s dad’s collections of past short form fiction writers. It introduced me to the genre in a powerful and succinct way. Although “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” still haunts me (WHAT EVEN, Harlan Ellison) and although even then I noticed that there weren’t enough female voices, it was definitely something that shaped me as an SFF reader and fan. Perhaps the Hugos don’t have a wider cultural cachet, but they do matter. (I have longer points about awards and how what works are awarded have ripple effects, but I’ll save them for another time.)
So I was please–no, gleeful–when the awards were announced and it became clear that the Hugo voters had overwhelmingly voted against the Puppies and their slates. Before the awards, people kept talking about the record number of voters, but it wasn’t clear who those voters were or what their choices would be. In a terrible year, the outcome is the best we could have hoped for.
But. BUT. It’s an outcome that is good in a negative sense rather than a positive one. I am genuinely happy for several of the winners (Ms. Marvel YESSSS!! Orphan Black! Julie Dillon!), and yet. I keep comparing it to the ALA YMA awards this year, when the committees across the board, in nearly every category, affirmed and recognized a broad array of works from a broad array of interesting and diverse voices. For me, that was a positive outcome and one I could 100% cheer about. This? This is something different. (For the record, I did cheer at No Awards because from my pov those were the best outcomes in those categories for this year and anyone concern trolling other peoples’ reactions can stop now.)
And most especially (perhaps appropriately, considering the genre), the thing I find the most difficult is the might-have-beens. Because the Hugos release all of their voting data, it’s possible to reconstruct, as Natalie Luhrs puts it, the alternate timeline Hugo Awards. Speaking personally, many of the writers and voices represented on that list are among my favorites currently writing in the genre. To me, it’s heartbreaking that Liz Bourke, Abigail Nussbaum, and Natalie Luhrs herself, Lady Business and The Book Smugglers, as well as Eugie Foster, Amal El-Mohtar, Jo Walton, and so many others were denied the place in the awards that they earned. And since the Campbell Award is only open to writers for a limited number of years, some people will always be denied that chance.
And in terms of the award itself, it seems a much more broad representation of the field than the slate we got, with its 3 nominations in one category for John C. Wright (yes, please go on about how you’re increasing diversity in the award, mmhmm, right). I suspect I will always find it sad that the Puppies stole the time and attention from what would have been a fantastic group of candidates. I’m going to do my best to at least try the works I haven’t already read, to talk about the ones I love. To turn the focus back to where it should have been to begin with: a vibrant, diverse group of people creating something beautiful together.