May 20, 2016
Women sweep the Nebula Awards — take that, Sad Puppies!
by Julia Fleischaker
One of two major slates of science fiction awards, the Nebula Awards were given out over the weekend, and women swept the major categories. As author K. Tempest Bradford writes at NPR:
All of the fiction awards — for short story, novelette, novella, novel, and the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult novels — went to women authors, and Mad Max: Fury Road (a film NPR’s Chris Kilmek called a “boldly feminist chase flick”) won the Ray Bradbury Award for dramatic presentation. (The Solstice Award — given occasionally at the discretion of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) board to people who’ve made a big impact in the field — did go to a man, the late Terry Pratchett.) In some ways the winners, and the full nominating ballot they were chosen from, represent a local, genre-specific eddy of change in the larger ocean of literature.
This is especially satisfying coming just a year after science fiction’s other major awards, the Hugos, were targeted by two right-wing groups who thought the recipients were skewing too liberal. We wrote about it at the time:
In a scandal that sounds a lot cuter than it is (dubbed Puppygate) two right-wing groups—calling themselves the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies—have launched campaigns to circumvent what they describe as the Hugos’ tendency to reward left-leaning authors. Both groups have been encouraging fans to buy membership to Worldcon, the global science fiction convention which votes on the Hugo Awards, and getting them to cast their votes for specific titles.
Flood reports that the author behind Sad Puppies, Brad Torgersen, wants to “reverse what he called the Hugos’ favouring of works that were ‘niche, academic, overtly to the left in ideology and flavour, and ultimately lacking what might best be called visceral, gut-level, swashbuckling fun.’” The Rabid Puppies are led by Theodore Beale, a writer known online as the blogger Vox Day, who was expelled from the Science Fiction Writers of America after a racist rant against award-winning author NK Jemisin.
As Bradford notes, this year’s winners reflect a diversity that goes beyond gender.
Half are women of color, half are self-identified queer women — which mirrors the overall diversity of the ballot. 24 out of the 34 works nominated for the award were written by women from multiple racial and cultural backgrounds and a spectrum of sexual orientations. Of the 10 works by men, five of them were written by people of color and queer authors.
“The Nebula ballot is everything a ballot should be in this community,” said Brooke Bolander, author of the nominated story And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead. “It’s diverse, it’s wide-ranging, and it includes amazing stories by amazing authors.”
You can see a list of all the nominees and winners here.
Julia Fleischaker is a former director of marketing and publicity at Melville House.