The Nominees for the 2017 Hugo Awards Are the Future of Science Fiction & Fantasy

Earlier this week, a VIP at Marvel comics earned the ire of about 82 percent of the internet when he tried to blame the publisher’s flagging sales on a recent strategy to push comics with “diverse” heroes, claiming readers just aren’t interested in buying those kinds of books. Plenty of folks have offered cogent rebuttals of his claims, and another one arrived today in the form of the nominees for the 2017 Hugo Awards, announced via YouTube by the administrators of Worldcon 75, which will be held in August in Helsinki, Finland.

Up and down the ballot, the nominees eschew the once-idealized vision of largely white male writers producing sci-fi, fantasy, and comics for a largely white, male audience. The slate is predominantly made up of women, and women from diverse backgrounds.

The fan-selected list of Hugo nominees tell us that readers are interested in diverse writers producing the kind of bravura work you’ll find on this year’s slate, innovative stories that take us down unexplored alleyways and across uncharted galaxies of fantasy and science fiction. You like books that just tell good stories? Here’s a whole mess of them.

For the second year in a row, the vast majority of Best Novel nominees are women, including another nod for last year’s victor, N.K. Jemisin, who is again vying for a rocket with The Obelisk Gate, the second book in the Broken Earth trilogy (Jemisin is a double-nominee this year, also honored for her Tor.com short story “The City Born Great”) . Also on the list: first-time novel nominee Charlie Jane Anders, whose SFF debut All the Birds in the Sky has been a favorite of mine since I read it in manuscript form almost two years ago (Anders previously won a Hugo for her short fiction).

I’m also so excited to see Ada Palmer recognized for her debut, Too Like the Lighting, a inordinately complex work of future history that’s both one of the most challenging and most rewarding novels I’ve read in years. And hey, Yoon Ha Lee’s debut, the brilliant, mind-breaking military space opera Ninefox Gambit, is also in the mix—Hugo and Nebula nominations for your first book? Not too shabby.

2015 Hugo-winner Cixin Liu,who writes in his native Chinese, is nominated for the final volume of the Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy, Death’s End, which Wikipedia suggests is only the second novel-in-translation to earn that honor (I’ll let you guess the other one). And then there’s Becky Chambers, certainly one of the great underdog success stories in genre history. When she couldn’t find a publisher for her debut, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, she elected to Kickstart it; a few years later, her books are beloved in the U.S. and the U.K., and the sequel, A Closed and Common Orbit, has a great shot at winning the Hugo.

The trend continues in the short fiction categories. Best Novella bears a striking resemblance to the Nebula ballot, indicating both that voters and professionals share similar taste—and that Tor.com Publishing really knows what it’s doing, claiming four of six slots (my money is on Seanan McGuire’s magical Every Heart a Doorway). Two of those slots are taken up by Victor La Valle’s The Ballad of Black Tom and Kij Johnson’s The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, books that seek to explore the problematic Mythos and legacy of H.P. Lovecraft through new eyes. And returning to the list this year is once-perennial nominee China Miéville, who hasn’t published a novel since 2012 but is nominated for his brief, beguiling This Census-Taker.

If you aren’t a short fiction reader, you are really missing out. The nominees in the Novelette and Short Story categories truly represent the future of genre, and I’m confident it’s not the last time we’ll see many of these names on such lists. Alyssa Wong, Amal El-Mohtar, and Brooke Bolander in particular are writers who continue to amaze me with everything they publish; their stories are not beholden to any notions of what sci-fi and fantasy “should” be. If you aren’t supporting publications like Uncanny or reading the free fiction on Tor.com, you really should, if only to experience these exciting and, yes, diverse new voices.

And hey, speaking of diverse comics? Check out those nominees: Ms. Marvel, Marvel’s Muslim-American hero (written by Muslim-American G. Willow Wilson), earns yet another nomination. See also, Marvel’s Black Panther, reinvigorated by African-American author and essayist Ta-Nehisi Coates. It is no coincidence that the diverse Marvel heroes from diverse creators have won over readers. The indies, too: the beautiful Monstress, a twisted vision of a Jim Henson fantasy from Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda, is nominated for its breakthrough first volume. And let’s not discount Brian K. Vaughan’s dual nominations for Saga (with Fiona Staples) and Paper Girls (with Cliff Chiang); he’s a white male working in comics, yes, but he’s proven that any creator can write books that deliver eye-popping, ambitious stories and celebrate the wide spectrum of humanity. And also giant spider-legged female assassins and tiny, adorable anthropomorphic harbor seal heroes. 

Even the TV and film categories reflect an appetite for different kinds of stories: Best Picture Oscar nominee Hidden Figures is up for Dramatic Presentation—Long Form, as is the much-discussed all-female Ghostbusters reboot. There may be no more diverse cast on television than that of Syfy’s The Expanse, a Best Dramatic Presentation—Short Form nominee, and easily the best, most politically woke sci-fi show in a decade. And if there was a more touching love story last year than the romance between two women that anchored Black Mirror‘s “San Junipero,” I didn’t see it.

Surprise contender Splendor & Misery, an album, is a rare musical nominee; the band responsible, Clipping, includes Daveed Diggs, of Hamilton fame.

One highlight of the ballot for me is the new Best Series category, which is being given out for the first time; there is a multi-year process before it becomes an annual category. I wasn’t too sure how the nominations would shake out, and the rules were a bit muddy, but who can argue with that list? Seanan McGuire’s October Daye is 10 books of urban fantasy perfection. I’ve been pushing Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence on readers since this blog was founded. James S.A. Corey’s The Expanse is one of my favorite book series and TV shows. Naomi Novik’s Temeraire and Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant are two series I have sampled but haven’t read nearly enough of. And then there’s Miles—Lois McMaster Bujold probably has this thing in the bag, and who could argue, considering the Vorkosigan Saga has 10 previous nominations (and four wins)? Where does Lois even keep all those rockets?

All in all, this list of nominees feels so very 2017 to me. Last year, the year all of these nominated works were published, was one of upheaval. When some voices cried out against the way the tides have been turning for decades—the inevitable push toward globalism, in no small part thanks to technology making our world both bigger and smaller every day—other voices answered, and answered loudly: when given in earnest, support for diversity isn’t about buzzwords or paying lip-service to political correctness (though it certainly, sadly, has been deployed to do both those things). It’s about recognizing that what unites us as humans can be stronger than what divides us, even when those divisions seem incalculably great, and sometimes seem to be growing greater by the day.

I believe in our diverse future. And that’s what science fiction and fantasy is all about, right? The future.


The complete list of nominees for the 2017 Hugo Awards follows. The winners will be announced on August 11.

Best Novel 

  • All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders (Tor Books / Titan Books)
  • A Closed and Common Orbit, by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager US)
  • Death’s End, by Cixin Liu (Tor Books / Head of Zeus)
  • Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris Books)
  • The Obelisk Gate, by N. K. Jemisin (Orbit Books)
  • Too Like the Lightning, by Ada Palmer (Tor Books)

Best Novella

  • The Ballad of Black Tom, by Victor LaValle (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, by Kij Johnson (Tor.com Publishing)
  • Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)
  • Penric and the Shaman, by Lois McMaster Bujold (Spectrum Literary Agency)
  • A Taste of Honey, by Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com Publishing)
  • This Census-Taker, by China Miéville (Del Rey)

Best Novelette 

  • Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T-Rex, by Stix Hiscock (self-published)
  • “The Art of Space Travel,” by Nina Allan (Tor.com, July 2016)
  • “The Jewel and Her Lapidary,” by Fran Wilde (Tor.com Publishing, May 2016)
  • “The Tomato Thief,” by Ursula Vernon (Apex Magazine, January 2016)
  • “Touring with the Alien,” by Carolyn Ives Gilman (Clarkesworld Magazine, April 2016)
  • “You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay,” by Alyssa Wong (Uncanny Magazine, May 2016)

Best Short Story 

  • “The City Born Great,” by N. K. Jemisin (Tor.com, September 2016)
  • “A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers,” by Alyssa Wong (Tor.com, March 2016)
  • “Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies,” by Brooke Bolander (Uncanny Magazine, November 2016)
  • “Seasons of Glass and Iron,” by Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales, Saga Press)
  • “That Game We Played During the War,” by Carrie Vaughn (Tor.com, March 2016)
  • “An Unimaginable Light,” by John C. Wright (God, Robot, Castalia House)

Best Related Work

  • The Geek Feminist Revolution, by Kameron Hurley (Tor Books)
  • The Princess Diarist, by Carrie Fisher (Blue Rider Press)
  • Traveler of Worlds: Conversations with Robert Silverberg, by Robert Silverberg and Alvaro Zinos-Amaro (Fairwood)
  • The View From the Cheap Seats, by Neil Gaiman (William Morrow / Harper Collins)
  • “The Women of Harry Potter,” posts by Sarah Gailey (Tor.com)
  • Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000-2016, by Ursula K. Le Guin (Small Beer)

Best Graphic Story 

  • Black Panther, Volume 1: A Nation Under Our Feet, written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, illustrated by Brian Stelfreeze (Marvel)
  • Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening, written by Marjorie Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda (Image)
  • 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

  • Arrival, screenplay by Eric Heisserer based on a short story by Ted Chiang, directed by Denis Villeneuve (21 Laps Entertainment/FilmNation Entertainment/Lava Bear Films)
  • Deadpool, screenplay by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick, directed by Tim Miller (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation/Marvel Entertainment/Kinberg Genre/The Donners’ Company/TSG Entertainment)
  • Ghostbusters, screenplay by Katie Dippold & Paul Feig, directed by Paul Feig (Columbia Pictures/LStar Capital/Village Roadshow Pictures/Pascal Pictures/Feigco Entertainment/Ghostcorps/The Montecito Picture Company)
  • Hidden Figures, screenplay by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, directed by Theodore Melfi (Fox 2000 Pictures/Chernin Entertainment/Levantine Films/TSG Entertainment)
  • Rogue One, screenplay by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, directed by Gareth Edwards (Lucasfilm/Allison Shearmur Productions/Black Hangar Studios/Stereo D/Walt Disney Pictures)
  • Stranger Things, Season One, created by the Duffer Brothers (21 Laps Entertainment/Monkey Massacre)

Best Dramatic Presentation–Short Form

  • 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)
  • The Expanse: “Leviathan Wakes”, written by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, directed by Terry McDonough (SyFy)
  • 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 [album], by Clipping (Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, Jonathan Snipes)

Best Editor–Short Form 

  • John Joseph Adams
  • Neil Clarke
  • Ellen Datlow
  • Jonathan Strahan
  • Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas
  • Sheila Williams

Best Editor–Long Form 

  • Vox Day
  • Sheila E. Gilbert
  • Liz Gorinsky
  • Devi Pillai
  • Miriam Weinberg
  • Navah Wolfe

Best Professional Artist 

  • Galen Dara
  • Julie Dillon
  • Chris McGrath
  • Victo Ngai
  • John Picacio
  • Sana Takeda

Best Semiprozine

  • 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
  • Uncanny Magazine, edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, Julia Rios, and podcast produced by Erika Ensign & Steven Schapansky
  • The Book Smugglers, edited by Ana Grilo and Thea James

Best Fanzine 

  • “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
  • “Lady Business”, edited by Clare, Ira, Jodie, KJ, Renay, and Susan
  • “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

Best Fancast 

  • 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
  • Tea and Jeopardy, presented by Emma Newman with Peter Newman

Best Fan Writer 

  • Mike Glyer
  • Jeffro Johnson
  • Natalie Luhrs
  • Foz Meadows
  • Abigail Nussbaum
  • Chuck Tingle

Best Fan Artist (528 ballots)

  • Ninni Aalto
  • Alex Garner
  • Vesa Lehtimäki
  • Likhain (M. Sereno)
  • Spring Schoenhuth
  • Mansik Yang

Best Series (1393 votes)

  • The Craft Sequence by Max Gladstone (Tor Books)
  • The Expanse by James S.A. Corey (Orbit US / Orbit UK)
  • The October Daye Books by Seanan McGuire (DAW / Corsair)
  • The Peter Grant / Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch (Gollancz / Del Rey / DAW / Subterranean)
  • The Temeraire series by Naomi Novik (Del Rey / Harper Voyager UK)
  • The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (937 ballots)

  • Sarah Gailey (1st year of eligibility)
  • J. Mulrooney (1st year of eligibility)
  • Malka Older (2nd year of eligibility)
  • Ada Palmer (1st year of eligibility)
  • Laurie Penny (2nd year of eligibility)
  • Kelly Robson (2nd year of eligibility)

Who are you rooting for?

 

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