When the history of science fiction fandom in the 2010s is written, the key event to be discussed will doubtless be the Puppy War. That a group of right-wing fans should attempt to take over the Hugo Awards is perhaps not surprising. The 2010s are, after all, the decade in which it was conclusively proved that democratic systems are vulnerable to attack by malicious actors. That the attack failed is perhaps a testament to the strength of community sentiment within the SF&F community. But what is really surprising is what happened afterwards.
For the last three years of the decade, every single written fiction-related award in the Hugos was won by a woman.
With admirable swiftness, what was the John C. Campbell Award for Best New Writer has been re-named The Astounding Award for Best New Writer.
Named for Campbell, whose writing and role as editor of Astounding Science Fiction (later renamed Analog Science Fiction and Fact) made him hugely influential in laying the groundwork for both the Golden Age of Science Fiction and beyond, the award has over the years recognized such nominees as George R.R. Martin, Bruce Sterling, Carl Sagan, and Lois McMaster Bujold, as well as award winners like Ted Chiang, Nalo Hopkinson, and John Scalzi.
However, Campbell’s provocative editorials and opinions on race, slavery, and other matters often reflected positions that went beyond just the mores of his time and are today at odds with modern values, including those held by the award’s many nominees, winners, and supporters.
Nina Allan – ‘The Gift of Angels: an Introduction’ (Clarkesworld)
Malcolm Devlin – ‘The Purpose of the Dodo is to be Extinct’ (Interzone #275)
Hal Duncan – The Land of Somewhere Safe (NewCon Press)
Ian McDonald – Time Was (Tor.com)
Martha Wells – Exit Strategy (Tor.com)
Liz Williams – Phosphorus (NewCon Press)
Marian Womack – Kingfisher (Lost Objects, Luna Press)
Nina Allan – Time Pieces column 2018 articles (Interzone)
Ruth EJ Booth – Noise and Sparks column 2018 articles (Shoreline of Infinity)
Liz Bourke – Sleeps With Monsters column 2018 articles (Tor.com)
Aliette de Bodard – ‘On motherhood and erasure: people-shaped holes, hollow characters and the illusion of impossible adventures’ (Intellectus Speculativus blog)
Adam Roberts – Publishing the Science Fiction Canon: The Case of Scientific Romance (Cambridge University Press)
Ben Baldwin – wraparound cover for Strange Tales slipcase set (NewCon Press)
Joey Hi-Fi – cover for Paris Adrift by EJ Swift (Solaris)
Sarah Anne Langton – cover for Unholy Land by Lavie Tidhar (Tachyon Publications)
Sing Yun Lee and Morris Wild – artwork for Sublime Cognition conference (London Science Fiction Research Community)
Likhain – In the Vanishers’ Palace: Dragon I and II (Inprnt)
Bede Rogerson – cover for Concrete Faery by Elizabeth Priest (Luna Press)
Del Samatar – artwork for Monster Portraits by Sofia and Del Samatar (Rose Metal Press)
Charlotte Stroomer – cover for Rosewater by Tade Thompson (Orbit)
Congratulations to all those shortlisted. More information about the awards is available on the BSFA website. Please direct any queries to the Awards Administrator Clare Boothby.
BSFA members will later receive a souvenir booklet with extracts from many of the shortlisted works. If you would like to vote in the awards, you can do so by becoming a member of the BSFA and/or Ytterbiumcon, the 2019 Eastercon.
Three photographs have been shortlisted for 2017’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, hosted by the National Portrait Gallery in London. But there is something out of the ordinary about one of this year’s contenders for the prize. One of the portraits – by the Finnish artist Maija Tammi – is not of a human, but a female android.
The android in the photograph is Erica, described by her creator, Osaka University professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, as “the most beautiful and intelligent” robot in the world. The hardware beneath her silicone skin helps her achieve facial and mouth movements, but these can be rather unnatural, out of sync with her synthesised voice. She is cognitively sophisticated, though still unable to work out answers to complex questions from first principles, and she cannot move her arms and legs.
If this seems like something out of science fiction, you’re not far off. One of Ishiguro’s first female robots was named Repliee Q1 and he himself has said that the name derives from the French for “replicate” and from the “replicants” in Blade Runner: science fiction and robotics have always been entwined. Indeed, in a documentary made by the Guardian about Erica, Ishiguro reveals that he wanted to be an oil painter and insists on the similarities between his work and artistic creation.
It is difficult not to see here a masculine Pygmalionesque desire to create the perfect artificial woman. “Ishiguro-sensei is my father and he understands me entirely,” Erica pronounces in the documentary. Her vaunted autonomy seems more like a projection on the part on the roboticists who programme her thoughts, but also occasionally anthropomorphise her: the scientist who introduces himself as Erica’s “architect” also thinks that she is “really excited to interact with people”.
This year’s nomination lists are extensive, see below. Where a work (or an excerpt) is available online, we have provided a link. If you are a publisher or author and wish to make a work or an excerpt available, please contact email@example.com and we will be happy to add a link.
Some time in early 2016, I and a few others decided to set up an award for speculative fiction, the Sputnik Awards. The idea was to do things a little differently, and to spark thinking about what literary awards can and should be. Or, um, shouldn’t be. Because we are so very scrupulous in our awarding, we are only now ready … almost ready! … to announce the winner. So without any further ado, here is some further ado, giving the story so far:
The Sputnik Award 2016 was primarily a popular award (voted for by about 200 fans, mostly courtesy of File 770’s signal boost) with just a tincture of a juried award (I chose the shortlist, mostly guided by the shortlists of other then-major awards).
The name Sputnik, by the way, came courtesy of Ian Sales, although he had something a bit different in mind and is blameless in this affair. The notion that the Sputniks could do this genre-jump for its final showdown, from dungeoncrawl to duel, came from Zali Krishna and Christina Scholz. Christina happens to be published here this week: check out her article, “Superhero_ines: Rebooted Comics and Trans* Identity.”
This year’s 2012 Clarke Award Submissions (for the 2013 Arthur C Clarke Award) are now available in all their numerous glory at SFX. How numerous? The valiant, hard-reading five jury members read through 82 submitted books in order to filter them down to a shortlist of six, which will be announced on Thursday, April 4th.
There’s no contest this year, but guessing which six books from that long list will make the short list is still an interesting proposition, and SFX is requesting them.