Sunday, August 21, 2016

N.K. Jemisin Becomes First Black Woman To Win Hugo Award for Best Novel

Wow! Defying the predictions of most prognosticators, Nora Jemisin was the surprise winner of the 2016 Hugo Award for Best Novel for The Fifth Season. (See my A-/B+ review.) By my reckoning, Jemisin win is historic for multiple reasons: she's the first Black woman (and first Black person) to win science fiction's most prestigious award. And she did it after two years of intense debate (most of it online) in the speculative fiction community about the meaning, necessity and importance of diversity in the speculative fiction community. She also did it despite being nominated for (and losing) the Nebula award to Naomi Novik's Uprooted.

This is how The Guardian placed this year's awards in context with the ongoing Puppy fracas:
As in previous years, there had been attempts by two separate groups, the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies, to “game” the awards in favour of their preferred slates of works. Both groups claimed that science fiction has become dominated by a liberal, left-wing bias. 
The Hugos are voted on by those who purchase an attending or supporting membership to either the current or previous Worldcon events. Eligible voters can tick the “No Award” box if they don’t agree with any of the shortlisted works, a tool which has been used to block out Puppies recommendations previously. In 2015, five No Awards were given, including for the prestigious best novella and best short story categories; an unprecedented number, as No Award had only been presented as many times in the entire history of the prize, which began in 1953. 
In contrast, this year there were only two No Awards, in the smaller best related work and best fan-cast categories.
However one of the key ironies (also noted by The Guardian) in Jemisin's win is that the primary rabble-rouser of the rabid puppies, Theodore Beale (a.k.a. Vox Day) had previously been expelled from the Science Fiction Writers Association after he called Jemisin an "educated but ignorant savage." The group of Rabid Puppies has been trying to destroy the Hugo awards, by exerting undue influence over the nominations and winners but Jemisin becoming the first Black woman to win the top prize is the clearest repudiation of the recent actions of Beale's Puppies to "make science fiction great again."

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin