Hugo Awards Celebrate Women in Sci-Fi, Send Rabid Puppies to Doghouse

Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The Hugo Awards proved once again that progress trumps nostalgia, as women, especially women of color, were the top winners of the night.


The winners were announced Saturday at MidAmeriCon II, held this year in Kansas City. Female writers, editors and artists took home seven individual awards. All four categories for works of fiction went to women, three of whom were women of color. That’s pretty amazing, considering 2007 only had one woman nominated for a work of fiction, and she didn’t win.

The big victor of the night was N.K. Jemisin, who won Best Novel for The Fifth Season. In her acceptance speech (read by Campbell nominee Alyssa Wong), Jemisin, a black woman, expressed how thrilled she was that people “would choose to vote for the story of a forty-something big-boned dredlocked woman of color waging an epic struggle against the forces of oppression.”

Sadly, the Rabid Puppies once again flooded nominations. Jemisin had some choice words for the group:

“Only a small number of ideologues have attempted to game the Hugo Awards. That small number can easily be overwhelmed, their regressive clamor stilled, if the rest of SFF fandom simply stands up to be counted. Stands up to say that yes, they do want literary innovation, and realistic representation. Stands up to say that yes, they do just want to read good stories — but what makes a story good is skill, and audacity, and the ability to consider the future clearly rather than through the foggy lenses of nostalgia and privilege.”

For the second year in a row, Theodore Beale (aka Vox Day) attacked the Hugo Awards with his online group, Rabid Puppies. Beale published a slate of nominees, mostly conservative writers and people from his own publishing house, and told his followers to vote them en masse. They nabbed over 60 nominations, with four categories dominated by Beale’s picks.

This strategy was started for last year’s awards by Sad Puppies, a group focused on more conservative and traditional sci-fi writers. Their belief was that the Hugos were focusing too much on social issues and forced diversity, and wanted to return to the nostalgic roots of science fiction.


To the Sad Puppies’ credit, their first slate was more recommended works than anything else, and this year they went with a ranking system that didn’t really get much of a response, so it’s hard to tell how much of an influence they had this time around.


Much like last year, the Hugos largely rejected the Rabid Puppies’ nominees. Nine of the 17 winners came from outside Beale’s slate, often being the only non-Rabid Puppy nominee in the entire category. Humor author Chuck Tingle, whose short story “Space Raptor Butt Invasion” was slated by Beale to try and embarrass Hugo attendees, didn’t win, but everyone had fun with it.


Beale’s slate turned out six winners, two of which came from categories that were entirely dominated by Rabid Puppy picks. A couple of them were popular works like The Martian and The Sandman: Overture. No Award was only given out twice this year, as opposed to five times like last year, but No Award did beat out a lot of Rabid Puppy picks, including Beale himself for Best Editor (as Vox Day).


Some of their picks didn’t even like them much. Neil Gaiman, who won Best Graphic Story for The Sandman: Overture (alongside artist J.H. Williams III), chided the Rabid Puppies in his acceptance speech, read by Hugo Ceremony Director Randall Shepard.

“It meant a lot to see Sandman: Overture nominated for a Hugo Award, and was disappointing to see that it had been dragged into the unfortunate mess that the pitiable people who call themselves Puppy had attempted to inflict on Worldcon and its awards. I would have withdrawn it from consideration, but even that seemed like it would have been giving these sad losers too much acknowledgement.”


Jemisin’s win was an especially hard hit for Beale. He was expelled from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America after he called her an “educated but ignorant savage.” And before you go thinking he’s changed his ways, he again called her “half-savage” in a blog post on Sunday, and said he was scared that white men would no longer be the majority in science fiction.


No word what’s going to happen in the future with the Hugo Awards. There have been talks they could change their nomination process to prevent slates from being abused, but nothing has been announced yet.

All in all, the Hugos had a strong and diverse turnout this year, despite attempts to hold it back. We’re seeing better representation in science fiction, both on the page and off, and that will hopefully continue to strengthen as more people show their support for diverse sci-fi. Also Jessica Jones, because she’s fantastic.


Here’s a list of this year’s winners.

Best novel: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)

Best novella: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (

Best novelette: “Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang, translated Ken Liu (Uncanny Magazine, Jan-Feb 2015)


Best short story: “Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld, January 2015)

Best related work: No Award

Best graphic story: The Sandman: Overture, written by Neil Gaiman, art by J.H. Williams III (Vertigo)


Best dramatic presentation (long form): The Martian screenplay by Drew Goddard, directed by Ridley Scott (Scott Free Productions; Kinberg Genre; TSG Entertainment; 20th Century Fox)

Best dramatic presentation (short form): Jessica Jones: “AKA Smile,” written by Scott Reynolds, Melissa Rosenberg, and Jamie King, directed by Michael Rymer (Marvel Television; ABC Studios; Tall Girls Productions; Netflix)


Best editor - short form: Ellen Datlow

Best editor - long form: Sheila E. Gilbert

Best professional artist: Abigail Larson

Best semiprozine: Uncanny Magazine, edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, and Erika Ensign & Steven Schapansky


Best fanzine: File 770, edited by Mike Glyer

Best fancast: No Award

Best fan writer: Mike Glyer

Best fan artist: Steve Stiles

The John W. Campbell Award (for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2014 or 2015, sponsored by Dell Magazines, not a Hugo Award): Andy Weir


[The Hugo Awards]



I think Seveneves got seriously hurt because of Puppy backlash.

There’s just no way it gets that few votes on its own. For a specific example with numbers, the Goodreads awards 2015: Seveneves got 15,710 votes in the SF category finishing 2nd (to some YA thing that admittedly I haven’t read so it may be even better), where The Fifth Season got 8,312 in the Fantasy category finishing 10th. Yes, different categories, so not going head to head but still a big difference - even if there were 8k people voting Seveneves who thought Fifth Season was better overall, that’s still a much closer race than the Hugo ballot indicates. Uprooted is over in the YA SF/Fantasy category and got over 17,000 votes. There’s no way Seveneves drops in popularity THAT MUCH relative to those without some sort of damage to it because the Puppies liked it.

480 people specifically put No Award over Seveneves. You can’t tell me that many votes thought the novel was not Hugo worthy at all.

Fifth Season is still an excellent choice for a Hugo winner. Don’t get me wrong there, it’s a hell of a book. Uprooted is an incredible book, too. I just wonder what would have happened in a fair fight.

(and no, I haven’t read Aeronaut’s Windlass, so I can’t speak to its merits or relative vote count.)