Women Dominated a Historic Night at the Hugo Awards

Last night, the Hugo Awards took place at the 75th annual World Science Fiction Convention in Helsinki, Finland. It was the first time a northern European country hosted WorldCon, and the Guinness Book of World Records was there to certify the Hugos as the longest-running award in science fiction—but those were hardly the only historic things about the evening.

It was also a night that saw an unprecedented number of rocket-shaped trophies go to women writers and artists, including the night’s top honor, the Hugo for Best Novel, claimed for the second year in a row by N.K. Jemisin, for her apocalyptic epic fantasy novel The Obelisk Gate, the sequel to 2016 winner The Fifth Season. (Jemisin remains the first and only African-American woman to win Best Novel, and the first person to win the award in consecutive years since Lois McMaster Bujold in 1991 and 1992).

Women also won in the other “top four” fiction categories—Best Novella (Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway), novelette (Ursula Vernon’s “The Tomato Thief”), and short story (Amal El-Mohtar’s “Seasons of Glass and Iron,” originally published in The Starlit Wood).

But women also dominated further down the ballot, in everything from Best Graphic Story (which went to Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda’s darkly beautiful Monstress), to Best Related Work (Ursula K. LeGuin’s Words Are My Matter), to Best Fanzine (Lady Business).

Best Professional Editor awards went to Ellen Datlow (short form) and Liz Gorinsky (long form). (It was Datlow’s seventh win, and Gorinsky’s first—after six previous nominations). Repeat winner Julie Dillon picked up another award for Best Professional Artist, while Elizabeth Leggett was named Best Fan Artist. Abigail Nussbaum won Best Fan Writer for her blog, Asking the Wrong Questions.

The first-ever Best Series Hugo (save for a one-off presentation 51 years ago) went to Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga, which also holds the honor of being the most-awarded series in Hugo history. Even the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer—technically not a Hugo—went to a woman, Ada Palmer, whose Too Like the Lightning was a Best Novel nominee.

So why does this matter? If the Hugos are intended to honor the best work, why point out the genders of the winners?

The long tail of history—remember, these are the certified oldest awards in genre fiction—suggests it’s worth noting. For years and decades, the Hugos were dominated by men. Sure, Ursula K. LeGuin, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Connie Willis have their fair share of rockets, but they were always the exceptions. C.J. Cherryh won Best Novel in 1982, but she was the only woman to take home a fiction award that night.

The gender of the creator shouldn’t really matter when it comes to judging a work’s quality, but that ignores a whole host of unspoken biases in publishing and the culture of fandom, not to mention years of data that suggests it does make a difference. Either that, or women collectively just figured out how to write good books and stories. (I’m being facetious. Don’t email me.)

Would we celebrate as much today had more men taken home trophies? I’d certainly like to think so—Cixin Liu or Yoon Ha Lee would certainly have been fine Best Novel winners—but their wins wouldn’t have been historic—or at least, not in the same way.

And there’s no arguing with history.

The complete list of Hugo winners and nominees follows.

Best Novel 

  • The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin (Orbit Books)
  • 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)
  • Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer (Tor Books)

Best Novella 

  • Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson (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 / Picador)

Best Novelette

  • “The Tomato Thief” by Ursula Vernon (Apex Magazine, January 2016)
  • 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)
  • “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 

  • “Seasons of Glass and Iron” by Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales, Saga Press)
  • “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)
  • “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

  • Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000-2016 by Ursula K. Le Guin (Small Beer)
  • 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)

Best Graphic Story 

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

  • The Expanse: “Leviathan Wakes,” written by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, directed by Terry McDonough (SyFy)
  • 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)
  • 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 

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

Best Editor – Long Form 

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

Best Professional Artist 

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

Best Semiprozine 

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

Best Fanzine

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

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

Best Fan Writer 

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

Best Fan Artist 

  • Elizabeth Leggett
  • Ninni Aalto
  • Vesa Lehtimäki
  • Likhain (M. Sereno)
  • Spring Schoenhuth
  • Steve Stiles

Best Series 

  • The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)
  • 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)

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer 

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

What did you think of the 2017 Hugo winners?

Follow B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy