2021 Best Related Work Finalist!

Written by Natalie Luhrs

I'm a lifelong geek with a passion for books and social justice.

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April 13, 2021

I am so honored and thrilled that my essay, “George R.R. Martin Can Fuck Off Into the Sun, Or: The 2020 Hugo Awards Ceremony (Rageblog Edition)” is a finalist in the Best Related Work category of the 2021 Hugos.

I can’t say how much it means to me that my writing–as disrespectful as some may perceive it–has been recognized with a Hugo nomination. The last 27 months have been the worst of my life, with the last 16 or so really ramping up the horridness, between my health simply not improving, work being such a tremendous stressor, then getting laid off and realizing that my career was over, and finally my current wrestling with a bunch of existential questions (from which I have spared the blog thus far and not all of which have been bad).

Science fiction and fantasy books and stories have been a lifeline for me and so many others. And for a long time, we didn’t see ourselves reflected in the fiction we read or in the awards that were given out. Fortunately–both for us and for those who come after us–that is changing.

Joanna Russ may have described this in the best possible way in How to Suppress Women’s Writing:

Well, as in cells and sprouts, growth occurs only at the edges of something. From the peripheries, as Klein says.  But even to see the peripheries, it seems, you have to be on them, or by an act of re-vision, place yourself there. Refining and strengthening the judgments you already have will get you nowhere. You must break set. It’s either that or remain at the center. The dead, dead center.

I’ve been trying to finish this monster for thirteen ms. pages and it won’t. Clearly it’s not finished.

You finish it. (132)

My heart is full to overflowing and I am out of words now, except for the two most important ones: thank you.

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  1. Mercy

    Thanks for the details. Martin rambles, so I didn’t watch his part and never would have known… It’s awesome that you got recognition for your work!!!
    On health, I wish you the best of luck. I have come out of a bad few years and definitely have some suggestions for overall probiotic food, grassfed animals, grounding, avoidance of manmade bad stuff, infrared sauna hacks, guasha, cupping, and the like, if you’d ever like details. I just annoyed the heck out of a good friend, so I am trying to refrain from foisting unwanted advice… Have you seen Stephanie Seneff’s work? She’s at MIT, I might have slightly misspelled her name. Check out her research on heparin contamination, sunshine, and whatnot. I like her approach to stuffs.

    • Natalie Luhrs

      Hey Mercy! Thanks for the information. Right now, I’m very focused on being as compliant as I can with my many doctors’ orders. I am going to be working on incorporating more outdoor movement into my days, though. I managed a couple of walks last week and it was wonderful.

  2. Jason

    I was scanning through the noms just now and saw that wild title and had to come read your piece. It was great. Congratulations!

  3. Andrew

    Congratulations, Natalie!

  4. skadhu

    Congratulations! I loved your essay when I read it. Sometimes rage is entirely the best reaction to BS. And I continue to think that despite all the current pearl-clutching about the title. You rock!

  5. EKG

    I love seeing people who reflect who I am giving their opinions! But as a trans woman, I don’t see myself in your voice. I’m sure plenty more people of color don’t see themselves in your voice.

    Why can’t more folks from either of those demos make it into award nominations speaking to their experiences with oppression? Why are we still treated like other folks get to speak on our behalf more than we get heard?

    I’m tired of folks who aren’t trans getting more recognition for media about trans folks. I’m tired of white folks getting more recognition for media about non-white folks.

    Congrats on the nomination, but maybe take a deeper look at whether you’re making more room at the table for all oppressed voices, or simply perpetuating the failures of so many women since the 1970s to simply lean into extant power structures.

    • Natalie Luhrs

      EKG, Thanks for your comment.

      If you look at the other folks in the Best Related Work category, you will see FIYAHCON listed. That was a convention that centered the voices of BIPOC both in its organization, it’s program participants, and in its attendees. The magazine, FIYAH, is also represented in the semi-prozine category. There are also many other people of color across the rest of the finalists. And there is trans representation on this ballot and there have been trans winners in the past. So I think there’s room on the ballot for an essay written by a disabled queer white woman.

    • EKG

      There is definitely room for your voice, and I am happy with the increasing diversity of Hugo nominees. But when it comes to nominations of works that are representative of cultural moments, such as last year’s Hugo ceremony, I feel we still too often default to elevating white voices on topics most impactful to people of color; non-trans voices on topics most impactful to trans folks; straight voices on topics most impactful to queer folks; etc. The award for Jeanette Ng’s speech definitely felt like a step in the right direction this way.

      But, in my experience with the conversation around the 2020 ceremony, it felt from my end that the voices of trans and BIPOC were de-centered more in that context, and the voices of allies to those groups came to dominate the conversation instead. So when I see only your work nominated on the topic of that ceremony, it reaffirms the sentiment that the response to those ceremonies was a backslide when it came to whose voices were most elevated in the aftermath, especially compared to the response in the aftermath of Jeanette Ng’s speech.

      Which is why it did irritate me to see this quote in your above article: “And for a long time, we didn’t see ourselves reflected in the fiction we read or in the awards that were given out.” It felt disappointing to see that statement in particular in the context of this nomination, since the nomination of just your article on this topic reinforces the skewed centering of voices on this particular moment.

      The Hugos do not exist in isolation,and even though there has been much progress made, they can still reflect broader shortcomings ongoing in American and European award ceremonies. Thus, I think it’s important to maintain awareness that many oppressed folks will still feel as though there voices are being deprioritized, even in ceremonies that have made a lot of progress on their ballots.


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