2018 Hugo Award Winners: A great year for women in science fiction and fantasy

Hugo Award logoThe World Science Fiction Convention* that was hosting the Hugo Award ceremony has finished, the results are in and this year’s Hugo Award winners have been announced.

Women dominated this year’s Hugo Awards in what has turned out to be a great year

for women in science fiction and fantasy; a genre, that it is fair to say, has been dominated historically by men.

So without further ado, here are the winners of this year’s Hugo Awards.

Cover of The stone skyBest Novel: The Stone Sky, by N.K. Jemisin

This year’s Hugo Award for best novel goes to Book three of The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin. Books one and two, The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate respectively, are both previous winners of the award. This also makes N.K. Jemisin the first author to win three Hugo Awards for best novel in a row as well as making The Broken Earth the only trilogy in which all three novels are best novel winners (the closest to doing so previously was Kim Stanley Robinson‘s Mars Trilogy with two wins and a finalist position).

Cover of No time to spareBest Related Work: No Time to Spare, By Ursula Le Guin.

Essentially, this is the reward for best piece of non-fiction related to the world of science fiction and fantasy and understandably, recently deceased Ursula Le Guin, now six time winner of the Hugo Award and Science Fiction royalty, is the winner of this category. ‘No Time to Spare’ is a collection of Le Guin’s musings on various subjects from the mundane to the philosophical.

Cover of Monstress vol. 2Best Graphic Story: Monstress, by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda

The best graphic novel of the year is the sequel to 2017’s winner: ‘Monstress Vol. 2’. Monstress is an apocalyptic steampunk fable notable for its exceptional artwork (with artist Sana Takeda also winning this year’s award for Best Professional Artist) and interesting world building.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Wonder Woman, screenplay by Allan Heinberg, story by Zack Snyder & Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuchs, directed by Patty Jenkins (DC Films / Warner Brothers).

What essentially amounts to the award for best film, Wonder Woman takes the cake for its adaptation of the DC Comic hero in a film that captures the essence of this year’s Hugo Awards winners.

Winners of all categories are as follows:

Best Novella: All Systems Red, by Martha Wells

Best Novelette: The Secret Life of Bots, by Suzanne Palmer

Best Short Story: Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience™, by Rebecca Roanhorse

Best Series: World of the Five Gods, by Lois McMaster Bujold

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: The Good Place: “The Trolley Problem,” written by Josh Siegal and Dylan Morgan, directed by Dean Holland

Best Editor, Short Form: Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas

Best Editor, Long Form: Sheila E. Gilbert

Best Professional Artist: Sana Takeda

Best Semiprozine: Uncanny Magazine, edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, and Julia Rios; podcast produced by Erika Ensign & Steven Schapansky

Best Fanzine: File 770, edited by Mike Glyer

Best Fancast: Ditch Diggers, presented by Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace

Best Fan Writer: Sarah Gailey

Best Fan Artist: Geneva Benton

Don’t forget to check out previous year’s winners for best novel, best related work, graphic story, novella, and short story.

*Worldcon comes to New Zealand in 2020, with Wellington having hosting duties.

WORD things to get excited about: Mark’s picks of the 2018 festival

The WORD Festival is arriving in Christchurch (29 August to 2 September) in a celebration of all things literary. There will be something for everyone with events ranging from the silly to the profound with over 120 authors, and close to 100 events across 30 venues. Below is just a tantalising taste of what this wonderful event has to offer, so feel free to explore the WORD Christchurch Festival programme in full.

So pull up a chair, get yourself a drink, and get ready to explore the wonderful world of the WORD.

Picks of WORD Christchurch 2018

The Politics of fiction (Saturday 1 September 4-5pm, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū)

Brannavan Gnanalingam, Pip Adam, and Rajorshi Chakraborti. Image supplied.

There will be certain pieces of fiction that hold special places in the hearts of literature fans, and one of the reasons could be for political reasons. Join Ockham award winning author Pip Adam, with fellow authors Rajorshi Chakraborti, and Brannavan Gnanalingam in conversation with Julie Hill as they discuss the very topic of the politics of fiction looking at the way fiction can be more than mere entertainment, but can serve a role in helping create empathy and change perspectives.

Yaba Badoe: Fire, Stars and Witches (Saturday 1 September 2.30-3.30pm, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū)

Magical Realism is a beautiful genre of literature with narratives that can displace time and space or use magic as a metaphorical device through which to tell fantastic story rich in cultural relevance. A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars author Yaba Badoe is a great international author of the genre of magical realism in addition to being an accomplished filmmaker and will be in discussion with University of Canterbury PhD candidate Sionainn Byrnes. This talk promises to explore issues surrounding women in Africa in addition to magical realist fiction itself.

Laurie Winkless: Science and the City (Saturday 1 September 4-5pm, Phillip Carter Family Concert Hall)

A topic that should be at the heart of all Christchurch locals. Following the tragedy that was the Christchurch Earthquakes, everyone – bar none – has had an opinion on how the rebuild has progressed and what should have been done. Laurie Winkless, author of Science and the City, will provide specialised knowledge on the subject that is well informed through studies of cities from all over the world and explore the scientific considerations of cities.

New Regent Street Pop-Up Festival (Thursday 30 August, 6-7.20pm, New Regent Street)

A glorious event for young and old. The New Regent Street Pop-Up Festival is my favourite event from Word Festival’s prior, and it’s free! This event will bring world class talent to New Regent Street in multiple pop-up events as the street is turned into a festival celebrating the literary form. The New Regent Street Pop-Up Festival will make you wish New Regent street was like this everyday.

David Neiwert: Alt-America (Thursday 30 August 6-7pm, Philip Carter Family Concert Hall)

David Neiwert. Image supplied.

American journalist David Neiwert will be talking about his book Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Time of Trump, in an attempt to explain what is actually happening in the American political landscape at present. What promises to be a great and informative event, David Neiwert will historicise the rise of this seemingly overnight political phenomena to the 1990s as he discusses his work in tracking and following the far-right in American politics for multiple decades.

Ted Chiang: Arrival (Sunday 2 September 2.45-3.45pm. Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū)

The Science Fiction Author of Story of Your Life, which was adapted into the film Arrival, Ted Chiang will be in conversation with science fiction and fantasy author Karen Healey. Expect and interesting and philosophical conversation from this thought provoking and awarding winning author.

Find out more

Let’s think about the future

The winners of the Hugo Awards will be announced next month and with the Nebula Award winners having been announced in May (two of the biggest awards in science fiction), let’s take this moment in between to think about the future in literature and what it actually means to write and think about the future.

When we think about fiction and the future, there are two sub-genres that immediately spring to mind: dystopian and utopian. Most people will be familiar with dystopia; arguably the most popular form of science-fiction that there is. From Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, The Walking Dead, or the classics of Nineteen Eighty-Four, Brave New World, and Logan’s Run, the idea of dystopia appear to be firmly entrenched in Western cultures’ collective imaginary. We all have different ideas of what a dystopia might look like, but put simply, it is an imagining of an unpleasant future that could occur through an apocalyptic event, the rise of widespread tyranny, or simply the break down of civil society.

The counterpoint to this bleak storytelling of a world gone to the dogs is utopian fiction. Many people will, as with dystopia, have different ideas of what utopia looks like. So, in this instance I am going to use the pragmatic definition of utopia put forward by Hugo and Nebula award winning author Kim Stanley Robinson: utopia is imagining the best possible outcome given where we are now. What I like about this understanding of utopia is that it doesn’t mystify utopia into religious sentimentality but places it firmly into the realm of possibility.

Cover of New York 2140Take Robinison’s novel New York 2140 (that has been nominated for the 2018 Hugo Award for best novel) for example. Here we experience a New York that as endeavoured to survive and re-create itself in the wake of catastrophic climate change as the innovation of adaptability of humanity leads to a future despite of the crisis it found itself in. Robinson’s Nebula award winning novel 2312 also highlights the redeemable aspects of humankind as they work together to try alleviate humanity’s suffering and begin to recreate Earth into something resembling its former self.

Utopian fiction is not about the absence of conflict – no one would want to read or watch a story with no conflict – but the conflict is about the actions taken to prevent the fall into dystopia. Isaac Asimov‘s Foundation series is a fantastic example of such utopian thinking as the protagonists work to prevent a galaxy wide collapse into unprecedented galactic barbarism. Here, the utopian thinking is about creating a future for humankind that is free of insecurity and suffering.

Other examples of utopian fiction include Ursula Le Guin‘s The Dispossesed and Arthur C. Clarke‘s Childhood’s End.

So take a moment, and read about the future. Not the future in which everything is awful and the only thing humanity can hope for is survival, but a future in which humanity has a chance to thrive and flourish as it overcomes all the obstacles that could limit it from having a meaningful future existence.

And you might want to try the best novel finalists for this year’s Hugo Awards and the winners of this year’s Nebula Awards.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup is Here!

The biggest sporting event on the planet is here: the FIFA World Cup. The 31 best teams in the world and Australia will all be meeting in the heat of the Russian summer to try and claim their status as world champions. There will be scandal, drama, excitement, passion, and given that the tournament is being played in Russia, probably hooliganism. So let’s have a look an all too brief look at this event that unites the world, albeit for the briefest of moments..

 

The World Cup is an event fill with drama. Iconic images that define tournaments. Nations rising a falling with their teams. Think the image of David Luiz’s in tears following Brazil’s humiliating semi-final defeat to Germany in 2014. Andres Iniesta ripping his shirt off to reveal the message “Dani Jarque siempre con nosotros” (Dani Jarque always with us) in honour of his dead friend and former teammate as he scored Spain’s winning goal in 2010. Zinedine Zidane’s head meeting Materazzi’s chest as France’s hopes and dreams disappear into a moment of madness in 2006. Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima in 2002. Zidane for the right reasons in 1998. The list goes on, and everyone will have different memories and experiences of the World Cup; such is the beauty of this truly global event.

Let’s start with a fairy-tale from the land of fairies, Bjork, Arnaldur Indriðason’s particular brand of dark, atmospheric crime fiction, a land that has a population less than greater Christchurch, the smallest nation ever to be represented at the World Cup finals; I am of course talking about Iceland. This team that is greater than the sum of its parts won hearts and imaginations as it reached the Quarter Finals of the 2016 European Championship (and comically knocked England out of the tournament and produced the greatest piece of sports commentary of all time). Neutral observers will be watching in hope that they can repeat this feat in Russia, if for no other reason, so their amazing fans get stay at the tournament for as long as possible.

From fairy-tales to favourites: Germany and Brazil. The nations with the greatest footballing pedigrees. Germany, eight time finalists, four time winners; the most consistent team in World Cups. Brazil, seven time finalists, five time winners; the crown jewel of the footballing world. However, these two monoliths of international football contrast in their respective styles.

Brazil is emblematic of the world’s passion for football. Not always the best team, but almost always has some of the best players in the world; this team is no different with the likes of Neymar being present. Brazil are typified by their flair, individual talent, and their “samba” style of football. However, this present Brazilian team cannot be classified within that vintage of Brazilian football as it has a larger emphasis on organisation and discipline; expect midfield ball winner Casemiro to be pivotal to a Brazilian success.

Defending champions Germany are the world’s best team in terms of being a team. There are no obvious weak points in the starting 11, however, there are also no exceptionally standout players. With this said, expect Casemiro’s Real Madrid teammate in Toni Kroos to be controlling the flow of games from midfield with his vision and range of passing. What separates Germany out from the rest is the organisation and discipline, which is currently being set out by manager Joachim Löw, that lead Germany to success in 2014.
Given that Germany and Brazil are on opposite sides of the draw, I will not at all be surprised to see a Germany vs. Brazil final.

But we must not get too caught up in the fairy-tale and the favourites and remember this is a global event. Aotearoa New Zealand’s nearest neighbour, Australia, will be there attempting to draw on their efforts of 2006. Asian footballing giants in Japan and South Korea will be looking to impress upon the world the quality of football in Asia. Iran and Saudi Arabia will be representing the Middle East on the global stage. Egypt, Senegal, Morocco, Nigeria, and Tunisia will be trying to prove that Pelé‘s prediction of an African team becoming World Champions by the year 2000 wasn’t too far off.

Argentina will be looking for a redemption following falling at the last hurdle in 2014 as Lionel Messi seeks to cement his status as one of the greatest ever by holding the World Cup aloft. Peru will be wanting to rightfully reclaim their status as South America’s other top team after a 20 year hiatus from football’s main event. Uruguay will be looking for their first world cup after 68 years without. Colombia will look to develop themselves as one of South America’s top teams and become the 4th team from that continent to lift the trophy (The current three being Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay).

England will be look to lay to rest a thousand demons as they try to reclaim the glory of 1966. Spain will be looking to reclaim their crown as the world’s best team. France will be looking to end two decades of misery. Belgium, Croatia, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Switzerland, Serbia, and Ronaldo‘s Portugal off the back of their 2016 European success will be want to prove that they belong among Europe’s elite. Panama, Mexico, and Costa Rica will be out to show that they truly belong on the world stage. And Russia, oh Russia. Russia will be playing under the watchful eye of the world, the heavy gaze of a certain president whose eyes never seem very far away, and under the weight of expectation of a home crowd that will be expectant of some level of Russian success.

The four year wait is over for football fans, and the world’s only truly global sport’s grand exhibition is here as over 3 billion people worldwide will turn their attention to Russia and await for the drama to unfold.

FIFA World Cup coverage in New Zealand

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PS We have an eSports tournament on in July, and one of the games being played is a FIFA one.