2016 Hugo Awards: Results and (Very) Personal Reflections

Written by Natalie Luhrs

I'm a lifelong geek with a passion for books and social justice. And I give absolutely no fucks.

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August 21, 2016

Hugo_Logo_1_200pxHey, so how about those Hugo Awards? Pat Cadigan was thoroughly awesome as the toastmaster (mistress? person?) and I would like to formally request that every year the ceremony be hosted by Pat Cadigan with a guest appearance by Ellen Datlow.

The list of winners is pretty darned awesome, too:

And for those of you with a statistical bent, here is the long list and the long list with E Pluribus Hugo applied.

I am amazed and gobsmacked that 182 people nominated me for Fan Writer this year. Thank you. That means a lot.

But I am having some thoughts and feelings about the whole situation.

I know that saying anything at all will be construed as sour grapes and/or whining by some people. Fine. Whatever. I pay for this web site and if I want to talk about my feelings, I will.

I made a decision to not talk very much about my feelings about being pushed off the ballot last year and I also made a conscious choice to not campaign too much or excessively toot my own horn during the nomination period. I also chose not to write about the Hugos this year, as I felt that the constant stream of hot takes last year only served as fuel for the conflagration.

But I need to be honest. This sucks and it hurts and I am not convinced that EPH and 4 of 6 will make enough of a difference to unfuck the nominating process in the long run. A group of jackasses determined to fuck with the Hugo Awards will find new ways to continue to do so and rules changes are like shutting the barn door after the cow’s wandered off. The long game is outlasting them and I’m feeling mightily discouraged.

This has been a really difficult year for me.

I had a cancer scare a few months ago and am on the hook for biopsies four times a year for the foreseeable future. After that, in the space of about two months we spent a lot of money on the following: medical bills associated with the cancer scare, car repairs, removal of a storm-felled tree from our back yard, dental surgery for our elderly cat who had stopped eating, clothes dryer repair, and a new refrigerator. And I spent the four weeks after Readercon sick. On top of all this, there’s a lot of ongoing uncertainty with my day job that likely won’t resolve until early next year.

So eating a shit sandwich and saying it’s delicious for the sake of other people’s feelings is just a little bit beyond my ability right now.

Seeing the long list and the EPH-modified long list was like a punch in the gut. Seeing that George R.R. Martin gave out Alfies again–which I don’t begrudge the recipients of at all, be happy with your trophies, please!–was like being flicked on the nose after being punched in the gut. Not a major thing, but enough to bring unexpected tears to my eyes and push me over the edge from sad and hurt to sad, hurt, and angry.

George R.R. Martin, by virtue of his level of fame outside our community, has the ability to shape parts of this narrative. I am sure that he sees the Alfies as a fun thing and something that he can do to mitigate the effects of the Puppy slates. Which it does, to a certain degree. But it can also hurt the people that George R.R. Martin doesn’t notice or chooses not to notice. I can’t speak to his intent, but as everyone keeps saying: intent isn’t magic and I’m not sure why George R.R. Martin is getting a pass on this.

I’m not saying everyone needs a trophy–that would be silly and counterproductive. But I’d like people to realize that there are more people who have been affected by this than those that George R.R. Martin chose to honor at his party.

I was sad and hurt by this last year and chose to say nothing for the sake of the community, and this year I am sad, hurt, and choosing to say something for my own sake.

In a regular year, making the long list but not making the final ballot can be an incentive to work harder and better in future years. In slate years, it can have the opposite effect, especially if the narrative of the long list is warped out of recognition by one man and his whimsy. And that’s where I’m at right now.


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