Saturday, August 12, 2017

The 2017 Hugo Awards: Well, That Happened

I am thrilled, overjoyed, and genuinely shocked to report that at the Hugo award ceremony held last night in Helsinki, I won the award for Best Fan Writer.

This came as a complete surprise to me.  I was certain that Chuck Tingle would carry the award away (and if you look at the voting breakdowns, it was a near thing).  At the same time, I knew that I had a chance, so the days before the award were spent in a state of anxiety.  I'm rather pleased with myself that after all that I managed to make it to the stage and deliver my speech in a semi-coherent manner.  For those of you who weren't there (and who weren't able to watch the live feed, which as I understand it failed early in the ceremony), here is the text of my speech:
Thank you very much.  I want to thank the administrators and voters, as well as my fellow nominees.

I was first nominated for a Hugo in 2014, as part of a ballot that was celebrated for its diversity.  In the intervening years, the Hugos were marred by interference from people seeking to advance their own careers and their bigoted worldview.

I am so, so proud to win this award in a year that has seen the Hugos return to the hands of the people they belong to.  I am proud that my fellow nominees once again represent so much of what our field is capable of.

Writing--whether fiction or non-fiction--is a solitary pursuit.  You put thousands of words into the world and hope they resonate with someone.  As a critic and essayist, I am enriched by a community of writers whose ideas I am in constant conversation with.

These include, but are by no means limited to: Nina Allan, Erin Hórakóva, Adam Roberts, Aishwarya Subramanian, Samira Nadkarni, Vajra Chandrasekera, Niall Harrison, and so, so many others.  My greatest thanks and appreciation go to them, for their inspiring, enlightening words.  Long may they continue.
Since I have you here, I'll also take the occasion to thank all of you, for reading, commenting, linking, and generally making this solitary pursuit feel worthwhile even in its loneliest moments.

I'll probably have some more coherent comments about the rest of the awards at a later date (I freely admit that I had trouble concentrating on the remainder of the ceremony after my category was called).  I will, however, say that the evening as a whole was delightful even in my extremely stressed state, with the chance to meet and squee over so many talented people, some of whom I've known online for years but had never had the chance to meet.  (Far from least among the people I was excited to meet was Hamilton star Daveed Diggs, whose band Clppng was nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form, and who turns out to be just as charming and approachable as you could possibly hope.  Reader, I fangirled.)  Following the ceremony, there was the Hugo Losers Party, where, having had the nerve to show my face, I was both mocked and plied with drink.  It was, in short, a totally satisfying evening.

On a final note, I'd like to thank and marvel at the skill of Hugo base designer Eeva Jokinen, who made this year's trophy a thing of beauty (if also incredibly heavy).  There doesn't seem to be an official picture yet, but File 770 has a snapshot.  I've lusted over previous year's trophies, and I'm so thrilled that the one I get to take home is such a lovely piece of art, as well as an award.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

New Scientist Column: Yoon Ha Lee, Karin Tidbeck, and Nina Allan

Greetings from Helsinki!  I am briefly emerging from the chaos of Worldcon to link to my latest column in The New Scientist, in which I discuss Yoon Ha Lee's Raven Stratagem, Karin Tidbeck's Amatka, and Nina Allan's The Rift.  It was interesting to see how three novels that seemed so superficially dissimilar ended up being about very similar things, chiefly the way that humans construct their own reality even when it seems rock-solid. 

I was particularly struck by how similar the approach that Lee and Tidbeck took to their stories was, in both cases taking a well-defined genre with extremely familiar tropes--space opera/military SF in Lee's case, highly conformist future dystopia in Tidbeck's--and use the idea of humans' ability to shape their world through agreed-upon concepts to subtly distort their stories' conventions.  In both cases, I think, the authors end up boxed in by their genres, perhaps more than they intended.  But both books (and the Allan) are nevertheless extremely interesting exercises, and fun reads to boot.

And now, back to the convention!  If you're see me around, do come by and say hi.