The cover for N.K. Jemisin's The Stone Sky, which won Best Novel at this year's Hugo Awards.Image: Orbit Books
The winners of the 2018 Hugo Awards are here. It might have been the first year for Worldcon's new rules, designed to curb voting slates that haunted previous years, but it didn't change the actual results. That's because, for the third year in a row, women dominated the awards—including another Best Novel win for N.K. Jemisin, making her the first author in Hugo's history to win the award three times in a row.
At Worldcon 76 in San Jose, women and female-identifying creators took home most of the top prizes, including Best Novella for Martha Wells' All Systems Red and Best Series for World of the Five Gods by Lois McMaster Bujold. Even Wonder Woman herself was represented, with a Best Dramatic Presentation award for her solo film debut.
However, the biggest win of the night (and one of the biggest in Hugo history) was Jemisin, who took home Best Novel for the third novel in her Broken Earth trilogy, The Stone Sky. She is now the fifth author to have ever received three or more Hugos for Best Novel, and the only author to win that award for three consecutive years.
Jemisin took the stage for a powerful acceptance speech—occasionally interrupted by all her friends and supporters furiously tweeting their congratulations—to speak to the past, present, and future of science fiction. She acknowledged that it's been a hard year for the United States and the world, but that there have been some good things too. I can't really do her words justice, so here is a small portion of them:
As I stand here before you, beneath these lights, I want you to remember that 2018 was also a good year. This is a year in which records have been set, a year in which even the most privilege-blindered of us have been forced to acknowledge that the world is broken and needs fixing… And that is a good thing, because acknowledging the problem is the first step toward fixing it.
I look to science fiction and fantasy as the aspirational drive of the zeitgeist. We creators are the engineers of possibility. And as this genre finally, however grudgingly, acknowledges that the dreams of the marginalized matter and that all of us have a future, so will go the world. Soon. Very soon.
Worldcon, and genre fiction as a whole, have experienced several moments of turmoil and reflection over the past few years. This is the first year that Worldcon's new nomination and voting rules have been in effect, including having six nominees instead of five and not allowing works to be nominated in more than one category. This was in response to the two-year period when categories were bombarded with picks from conservative and alt-right genre readers, under the group names Sad and Rabid Puppies.
Jemisin didn't directly address the groups in her speech, but did send a clear message to those who follow their regressive beliefs and practices:
This is the year in which I get to smile at all of those naysayers. Every single mediocre insecure wannabe who fixes their mouth to suggest that I do not belong on this stage, that people like me cannot possibly have earned such an honor. And that when they win it's meritocracy, but when we win it's identity politics. I get to smile at those people, and lift a massive shining rocket shaped finger in their direction.
In winning her third Best Novel Hugo Award, Jemisin joins the ranks of great genre writers like Lois McMaster Bujold (the first woman to win Best Novel twice in a row), Connie Willis, Vernor Vinge, and Robert A. Heinlein. She's also the only person ever to have her entire trilogy win Hugos for Best Novel, though Bujold and Willis each won three or more awards for books in larger series. Here's the full list of winners from this year:
The Stone Sky, by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit Books)
All Systems Red, by Martha Wells (Tor.com publishing)
"The Secret Life of Bots," by Suzanne Palmer (Clarkesworld, September 2017)
Best Short Story
"Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience™," by Rebecca Roanhorse (Apex Magazine, August 2017)
World of the Five Gods, by Lois McMaster Bujold (Harper Voyager/Spectrum Literary Agency)
Best Related Work
No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters, by Ursula K. Le Guin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Best Graphic Story
Monstress, Volume 2: The Blood, written by Marjorie M. Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda (Image Comics)
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
Wonder Woman, screenplay by Allan Heinberg, story by Zack Snyder & Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuchs, directed by Patty Jenkins (Warner Brothers)
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
The Good Place: "The Trolley Problem," written by Josh Siegal and Dylan Morgan, directed by Dean Holland (NBC)
Best Editor, Short Form
Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas
Best Editor, Long Form
Sheila E. Gilbert
Best Professional Artist
Uncanny Magazine, edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, and Julia Rios; podcast produced by Erika Ensign and Steven Schapansky
File 770, edited by Mike Glyer
Ditch Diggers, presented by Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace
Best Fan Writer
Best Fan Artist
Award for Best Young Adult Book
Akata Warrior, by Nnedi Okorafor (Viking Books)
John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!