A year after NK Jemisin became the first black person to win the Hugo award for best novel, the African American author has landed the prestigious science fiction prize for the second year running.
Jemisin was announced as the winner of the best novel Hugo at Worldcon in Helsinki on Friday. She took the prize, which is voted for by fans, for The Obelisk Gate, the follow-up to her Hugo award-winning novel The Fifth Season. The series is set in a world that is constantly threatened by seismic activity, and where the mutants who can control the environment are oppressed by humans. The New York Times called Jemisin’s writing in the series “intricate and extraordinary”.
Hugos administrator Nicholas Whyte said that 3,319 people voted in this year’s award, the third-highest vote total ever and the highest participation in the Hugos for a Worldcon outside the US or UK. “There’s been a very high level of genuine engagement and thoughtful participation,” said Whyte. “People can read into that what they like.”
The last two years of the Hugos have been plagued by block-voting campaigns from conservative lobbies calling themselves the Sad Puppies, and the more politically extreme Rabid Puppies. The two factions were out to combat a perceived tendency to reward books described by one disgruntled writer as “niche, academic, overtly to the left in ideology and flavour and ultimately lacking what might best be called visceral, gut-level, swashbuckling fun”. In 2015, this led to “no award” beating the Puppies’ slate of nominees in an unprecedented five categories, in order to avoid giving prizes to the group’s nominations. In 2016, candidates put forward by the so-called Puppies also dominated the ballots, but only two “no awards” were given.