Hi Fuse Fans!
I’m still recovering from a truly wonderful weekend at MidAmeriCon II in sunny Kansas City, Missouri. It’s a part of the country I’ve never been to before, and the world-famous barbecue was as excellent as promised. Worldcon moves around each year — it’s one of the biggest SciFi/Fantasy publishing events on the calendar, and if you’ve never attended before I really encourage you to check it out. Next year’s Worldcon, Worldcon 75, will be in Helsinki, Finland. That’s a bit of a schlep, admittedly, but I think it’s going to be a wonderful experience. The fantastic charity Con Or Bust is sponsoring 25 memberships to Worldcon 75 for SF/F fans of color, so be sure to check that out if you qualify and you’d like to hit up Finland in 2017.
This Worldcon was the second to be impacted by the gross right-wing voter slate campaigns of the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies. This time out, the RP went particularly out there with their forced-through nominations, particularly for Related Work, which was basically just a big middle finger to the rest of us. It’s always a shame to see No Award, but that was one category where it didn’t make me sad in the slightest.
I was glad to see my friend Sheila Gilbert, a legendary editor at DAW Books whom I greatly admire, receive her first Hugo Award despite being placed again on the Sad Puppy slate. Last year she was also on the slate, without her knowledge, and it was really lousy to see that category get No Awarded when editors as wonderful and accomplished as Sheila (and Ace/Roc editor Anne Sowards) were nominated. I’m glad people decided to look past the slate’s ‘hostages’ this year and award deserving people regardless of Puppy tampering. Neil Gaiman, also on their slate, delivered (via proxy) a staggering acceptance speech for his Graphic Story win that told the Puppies in no uncertain terms that their nonsense was no longer welcome. With a series of rule changes ratified this year, hopefully this was their last howl.
Overall, the Hugos were a strong repudiation of the kind of exclusive, closed-minded thinking that propels those campaigns. I was proud to see the vast majority of SF/F fandom come together to reward the sensational THE FIFTH SEASON by N.K. Jemisin — a well-deserved win in the ‘biggest’ category, Best Novel, and also a firm rebuke to the Rabid Puppy types who have obsessively dogged Jemisin’s steps for years with insane, racist nonsense. Jemisin is one of our most important and groundbreaking writers, and I am excited to be part of a progressive SF/F fandom that honors people like her — as well as Nnedi Okorafor, Hao Jingfang, and Naomi Kritzer. To see four women — three of them women of color — win the four fiction prizes of the night was a beautiful thing. Uncanny Magazine, one of the most exciting new publications on the SF/F scene, took home the award for Best Semiprozine. My friend Alyssa Wong — in my view one of the most promising up-and-coming writers of her generation — accepted the Best Novel award on Jemisin’s behalf and was also the runner-up for the Campbell Award. The always marvelous Ellen Datlow took home a trophy for Editor – Short Form. Overall I was left with a pretty warm, fuzzy feeling about the future of the genre, even as anonymous alt-right jackasses filled the hashtag with their whining.
It wasn’t all wine and roses, though. There was a much-discussed disruption on a panel, and Alyssa posted a great tweet series on the harassment incident she experienced at the con. Other authors have spoken up as well. The MidAmeriCon response team was excellent in addressing these concerns, but it’s a shame any of this happened at all. Do give Alyssa’s tweets a read if you feel up to it.
With Worldcon behind me, I’m prepping now for the Surrey International Writers Conference and World Fantasy Convention, both in October. The WFC programming has also been a major topic of controversy, and while I will be in the area I personally won’t be attending as a con member. I encourage you to donate to a protest charity drive set up by my friend and colleague Jennifer Udden of Barry Goldblatt Literary, which will raise diversity scholarship money for Con Or Bust.