2019 Hugo Awards

The winners of the 2019 Hugo Awards were presented August 18 at a ceremony in Dublin, Ireland.

Hugo Administrator Nicholas Whyte reported there were 3,097 total votes cast (3,089 online, 8 paper ballots). The voting statistics are online here [PDF file].

Best Novel

  • The Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)

Best Novella

  • Artificial Condition, by Martha Wells (Tor.com Publishing)

Best Novelette

  • “If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again,” by Zen Cho (B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, 29 November 2018)

Best Short Story

  • “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies,” by Alix E. Harrow (Apex Magazine, February 2018)

Best Series

  • Wayfarers, by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager)

Best Related Work

  • Archive of Our Own, a project of the Organization for Transformative Works

Best Graphic Story

  • Monstress, Volume 3: Haven, written by Marjorie Liu, art by Sana Takeda (Image Comics)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, screenplay by Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman, directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman (Sony)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

  • The Good Place: “Janet(s),” written by Josh Siegal & Dylan Morgan, directed by Morgan Sackett (NBC) 

Best Professional Editor, Short Form

  • Gardner Dozois

Best Professional Editor, Long Form

  • Navah Wolfe

Best Professional Artist

  • Charles Vess 

Best Semiprozine

  • Uncanny Magazine, publishers/editors-in-chief Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas, managing editor Michi Trota, podcast producers Erika Ensign and Steven Schapansky, Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction Special Issue editors-in-chief Elsa Sjunneson-Henry and Dominik Parisien

Best Fanzine

  • Lady Business, editors Ira, Jodie, KJ, Renay & Susan

Best Fancast

  • Our Opinions Are Correct, hosted by Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders

Best Fan Writer

  • Foz Meadows

Best Fan Artist

  • Likhain (Mia Sereno)

Best Art Book

  • The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition, illustrated by Charles Vess, written by Ursula K. Le Guin (Saga Press /Gollancz)

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

  • Jeannette Ng (2nd year of eligibility)

Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book

  • Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi (Henry Holt / Macmillan Children’s Books)

Closing note: There was a distracting mistake placed onscreen by the closed captioning service early in the ceremonies. Chair James Bacon immediately apologized for it on the convention’s Facebook page:

I would like to apologise for the problems with the closed captioning. I am dreadfully sorry for my decisions that led to us using a system that failed. I would lI would like to apologise for the problems with the closed captioning during the Hugo Awards ceremony. I am dreadfully sorry for my decisions that led to us using a system that failed.  I would like to apologise to anybody who we have upset by this and we totally understand that our members and community will be disappointed in this failure for which I accept total responsibility. I am very sorry and am ready to apologise personally to those who were hurt.

Sometimes we put too much trust in new technology and that was my failing tonight. Artificial intelligence still has a way to go in coping with human expression in all its variety. The poor transcription was stopped, but not before it undercut a number of very important speeches. Stopping it also deprived some of our audience of access to the later speeches. We are working on producing the corrected archival version of the ceremony which will be available online.

My sincerest apologies,
James Bacon

59 thoughts on “2019 Hugo Awards

  1. I was curious if any nomination voting would be close enough for me to have played a deciding role anywhere on the ballot.

    The nominations data indicates that Victo Ngai made the ballot for Best Professional Artist by one nomination over Tommy Arnold.

    I nominated Ngai and did not nominate Arnold, so I can accurately state that I made Hugo Awards history. But the excitement of this discovery is tempered by my guilt about Arnold.

    Heavy is the head that wears the crown.

  2. I thought Jeannette Ng’s acceptance speech was pretty brave, and it seemed, to me at least, that it was given through considerable nerves (although I’m no mind reader, it could have just been excitement!).

    I wondered if anyone could point to specific resources where I could learn more about that view of John Campbell. I’m familiar with the idea that his hand shows heavily in much of the work he edited, but I would be interested to learn more about why some people consider his legacy to be shackling present day SFF (and this is not to say I’m hostile to the idea).

  3. Trey: Depending on how much you want to know, there’s a Wikipedia entry — all the way up to things like this year’s Hugo-nominated nonfiction book Astounding by Alec Nevala-Lee.

  4. Congratulations to the winners!

    I’m hard of hearing, so I appreciate the apology for the captioning issues. At first I thought they were using an inexperienced volunteer, but when Kevin Standlee posted that they were using a speech-to-text system, I was shocked. However, James Bacon’s apology was very gracious, and it’s definitely something other concoms can learn from going forward.

  5. The software responsible for the captions has been sacked.

    A pixel scrølled my sister once…

  6. An amazing Hugo awards ceremony. Congratulations to all the winners and folks on the ballots.
    The erroneous captioning caused laughter in the audience, to the surprise of the speaker who had commented on the rise in censorship, surveillance, and totalitarian governments had led to a spike in sales of 1984 as well as bored with the rings and the cream of thrones.
    There were other such gaffes and they turned captioning off.

  7. I heard that they offered machine transcription to the business meeting and it was turned down. Some of us already knew how bad machine transcription can be.

    I’m grateful that the sound was good at least, but if I were totally deaf that wouldn’t have helped me. And if I had been on site it might not have been enough.

    Otherwise it was a beautiful ceremony. I enjoyed it.

  8. I am pleased to see that reports of the demise of the Hugos are once again premature. Although nominating vote totals were down from last year by a few, final votes were up by about 200 votes.

    It looks like final vote totals year by year may be stabilizing at somewhere around 3000, up roughly 1000 from the highest totals before the puppy years.

    Good going!

  9. Trey,

    For a good survey of Campbell along with Asimov, Heinlein, and Hubbard the book “Astounding” – nominated in the Best Related – is well worth a read.

  10. @Lenore Jones: YIKES. That sound you’re hearing in an alternate dimension is me exploding in points of personal privilege when the machine inevitably kept spelling my name with an ‘i’ instead of a ‘y’. (The CART operator in San Jose got it right!)

    I honestly felt bad for giggling due to some of the captioning during what was a serious speech but … yeah.

    Congratulations to all the winners!

    Martin

  11. Very disappointed that Archive of Our Own won in the Related Work category. I never thought it was eligible in the first place, and we had at least a couple finalists that would have easily won in another year.

  12. The closed captioning was very funny. Thankfully Amanda Palmer, whose serious and very well-thought out speech was ruined by it, saw the funny side herself. I’m sorry it happened but gosh, it was hilarious.

  13. As for the awards themselves, the one thing I am really disappointed by is that Yoon Ha Lee did not go home with a Hugo despite all three books and the series being nominated. Machineries of Empire is one of the best thing to be published in the last decade and it deserved a Hugo.

    For the rest, I am happy enough. Jeanette Ng speech was brave and very welcome.

  14. Kevin Standlee wrote in the live Hugo text coverage that Ng’s speech “started out with a bit of a rant about John W. Campbell,” which struck me as an uncharacteristically inappropriate bit of editorializing.

  15. Incidentally, it’s all over Twitter that a busload of Hugo finalists was turned away from the Hugo Losers’ Party because the venue was over-capacity.

  16. Congratulations to all whose work was honoured.

    Unsurprisingly, none of the things I liked best won. Oh well. As always it was a great pleasure to participate.

  17. @Anna: You mean Ada Palmer. Amanda Palmer is also an amazing creative Renaissance woman, but a different one from Ada.

    Looking over the full voting stats: there was a note that the Michael Whelan art book was ineligible due to 2017 publication. The question is only academic, as it happens, but on what basis was that determined? ‘Cause I backed that Kickstarter, and I got the book in my hands in the second half of 2018. If you look over the Kickstarter campaign updates, it’s quite easy to see that no physical book existed even in China during the year 2017.

  18. The copyright page in my copy took a bit of finding (they put it in the back instead of the front) but yeah, it does say 2017. I’m going to guess that they typeset the page anticipating that the book would be manufactured in 2017, and when it was delayed to 2018, they forgot to change it. Does that one number on the copyright page really control eligibility?

  19. David Goldfarb: It shouldn’t. Here’s the rule:

    3.2.3:Publication date, or cover date in the case of a dated periodical, takes precedence over copyright date.

  20. Yeah, I think so. It’s the date they can point to.

    ETA: Ah, I stand corrected. Seems like they take whichever is earlier in this case.

  21. @Laura: I’m inclined to think that Nicholas Whyte simply didn’t research this case closely enough. According to the rule Mike quoted, publication date trumps copyright date: and I defy anyone to produce a reasonable definition of “publication date” that doesn’t produce a result of 2018 for this particular book.

  22. It was just so appropriate to have Jeanette Epps present the Best Novel award.

    The closed captioning was weird. At first it seemed to be following a script rather than what was said. Which made me think that the early errors (“dog magicians” for “dogmatists”) – when not corrected – were intentional, especially as they were funny. It was only later when the errors were less funny and more serious that I realised that there was a real problem.

  23. @Paul King
    Yes, it was pretty clear that the captioning system was working from a script in the beginning. Presumably the hosts were asked to turn in drafts beforehand, and the captioning only faltered when they went off-script. However, the system obviously didn’t have access to Ada Palmer’s remarks or the winners’ speeches, and everyone unfortunately got a demonstration of the current state of live machine transcription.

    By the way, I’m a big fan of this technology in general, and I really appreciate the people working to improve it. For example, YouTube auto-captions have gotten noticeably better over time, and I expect they will get better still in the next few years. However, as far as I know, there is still no substitute for a trained human captioner when accuracy is important.

  24. Honestly, YouTube captions are still pretty awful. About the only YouTuber I know of who has consistently good captions is Jessica Kelgren-Fozard, who uploads her own (and is wonderful and smart and fabulously well-dressed and coiffed and witty and did I mention that I want to be her when I grow up?). The best thing you can say about YouTube auto-captions is that they’re slightly better than Facebook auto-captions, which last I checked have as much relation to what people are saying as if you played that children’s game where everyone whispers around in a circle (and has a, um, maybe slightly racist name, at least in the UK). I get that the technology is hard to get right and the alternatives are expensive, but right now, it isn’t fit for purpose.

    I hope Ava Palmer uploads her prepared speech somewhere because I’d like to read it and appreciate it properly, it was a little hard to follow with the interruptions from the captioning errors. And I felt rather awful for her because it was plainly making her uncomfortable.

    ETA:
    @Anna Feruglio

    Yoon Ha Lee has a similar always-the-bridesmaid problem to Naomi Novik, only without getting to be the designated acceptee/speechyperson for Ao3.

  25. I saw Ada Palmer after the ceremony and told her, “Sorry about the laughter, but we weren’t laughing about you – your speech was great – but about the captions.”

  26. (and has a, um, maybe slightly racist name, at least in the UK)

    If you want to avoid that issue, it’s also called a game of Telephone.

  27. On the matter of captions, it can be noted that the system that printed the name badges couldn’t support swedish letters. They spelled the letter ‘ä’ as ‘+ñ’.

    Would be nice if the next Worldcons could support character encoding from outside the anglosphere.

  28. And I thought Ng’s speech was GREAT. It felt enormously liberating to have her speak out about Campbell. And made me wonder how this would affect the Chengdu-bid.

    It was sad that Palmer’s speech got the edge taken off by the captions. I think she did a small miss in setting the start of the growth of authoritarianism to three years ago. From an European perspective, I’d guess people would set the start with Victor Orbáns victory in Hungary and I do think it leaves out the creeping authoritarianism under Obama where more power was moved to the president.

    Waiting to read the speech again less the caption hilarity.

  29. @Meredith–

    that children’s game where everyone whispers around in a circle (and has a, um, maybe slightly racist name, at least in the UK).

    I have honestly never heard that game called anything but “telephone.”

    New Englander, here, and specifically, I grew up in the Greater Boston area.

  30. @James Moar

    Sure, but I’ve never heard it called that in the UK, and I dislike using American terms for things. Everyone understands the description so I’m happy to type it out, I was just explaining why I didn’t use the UK name for it.

    @Lis Carey

    Puvarfr juvfcref. I’d never heard it called Telephone until I heard Americans talking about it.

  31. Not wanting to use American terms for things in general makes perfect sense. It seems unduly rigid when the UK term is something you don’t want to say, and the US term is utterly unexceptionable, though.

    I did wonder if that might be the ethnicity referenced,

    The point of mentioning exactly where I grew up is that I wouldn’t bet money that there aren’t other names for it in other parts of the US, and I wouldn’t be as shocked as I’d like to be if somewhere in the US the name used in the UK is in use.

  32. @Lis —

    The point of mentioning exactly where I grew up is that I wouldn’t bet money that there aren’t other names for it in other parts of the US, and I wouldn’t be as shocked as I’d like to be if somewhere in the US the name used in the UK is in use.

    In the interests of ethnographic data gathering: I’ve commonly heard both terms. “Telephone” probably most frequently, but the other frequently enough to not be surprised to see it. Grew up in Nashville and earlier in Miami.

  33. @Lis Carey

    I might agree if anyone had been confused by the description and if Telephone was otherwise universal, but people did understand the description, as far as I can tell, and not everyone would understand Telephone. As it is, it seems to me that describing the game is the easiest and most universal way to refer to it.

    I’m not super happy that this conversation has transformed from “accessibility is important to get right and shortcuts aren’t always fit for purpose” to “why isn’t Meredith using an American term” to be honest.

  34. ::waves::

    I was so happy to attend the Hugos in person! Happy with all the results and will check longlist when I get home. I will admit that I screamed a little at the announcement of AO3 winning Best Related, because I really didn’t expect it. Proudly stood and I’m so happy for the AO3 community!

  35. @David Goldfarb
    Yeah, presumably if it had actually been a possible finalist more research would have cleared that up. Although with the only concrete date to point to being the copyright, I wonder. Sometimes a book will have a different publication date actually shown on the copyright page. Like for different US & UK release dates. Or self-published and then traditionally published without substantial change. Pub date wouldn’t supercede copyright in some cases. For the Whelan book it sounds like it should be 2018, but how would you show it didn’t exist yet in 2017?

  36. Dear folks,

    I’ve been using voice transcription for the overwhelming majority of my personal and professional writing for 25 years, since the days when you had. To. Talk. In. Discreet. Words. Not because of any kind of disability but because I can compose three times faster than I can type (REALLY lousy typist). I’ve used a lot of different systems, both user-specific and universal-speaker. Here’s what I’ve found:

    There is a good reason, a really REALLY good reason, why my signoff reads as it does. None of these dictation systems come close to perfect. Even my personal, user-specific one usually types “photographic Prince” or “Brother God Consolmagno.” Presumably the program is infatuated with the-artist-formerly-known-as…” and the latter is, well, simply heretical.

    The reason this prose looks as clean as it does this because I proofread everything. Twice. And voice-o’s still slip through.

    The accuracy rate for the universal-speaker programs is just as good as the user-specific ones, nowadays. But it’s no better. Significantly, those programs lack the ability to personalize vocabulary (e.g., teaching the program to type “Ctein” when I say my name), which is kinda important for most writers! Instead, the programs will substitute a word or phrase that they know that more-or-less sounds like the word you meant.

    Furthermore, all of these systems lose LOTS of accuracy when the speaker doesn’t speak in a regular and measured pace and tone.

    Both of which limitations would, seems to me, be kinda important at the Hugo award ceremony!

    Anyone who thinks machine translation is good enough for an award acceptance speech hasn’t worked with them a whole lot. Or, probably, at all.

    pax \ Ctein

    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. http://ctein.com 
    — Digital Restorations. http://photo-repair.com

  37. Not saying that AO3 didn’t deserve to win, but even if only a couple of hundred contributors to AO3 voted for it in the Hugos, (and it looked like there were at least that many standing up in the auditorium to receive congratulations), then they basically awarded it to themselves. On the other hand, if they hadn’t, the Hugo would have gone to the Le Guin interview book which really was barrel-scraping, adding little to nothing to the Le Guin essays that won in the previous two years, so yay AO3.

    Meanwhile, the nomination statistics show that if just a few more people had noticed that Earthsea was eligible for the series award (including me, curses), it would have been on the ballot, and I’m guessing would then have won by a country mile.

  38. Paddy: Meanwhile, the nomination statistics show that if just a few more people had noticed that Earthsea was eligible for the series award (including me, curses), it would have been on the ballot, and I’m guessing would then have won by a country mile.

    I’m glad that didn’t happen. Much as I love the Earthsea series (it was one of my earliest exposures to SFF as a child), its eligibility was based on a brief short story published last year for the first time, and I don’t think the Best Series award should be going to historic series from decades ago, I believe it should be going to series which are alive and active right now.

  39. Congrats to all the winners, and I hope sufficient forehead cloths were supplied to the voters. Choosing from that stellar list of nominees must have been really tough. I was rooting for Spinning Silver for best novel, but am thrilled that my favorite short story won.

  40. None of my first-place choices won, and, you know what? I’m fine with that. The quality of the finalists, at least in the categories that I voted in (I won’t claim knowledge of the categories that I did not peruse) were uniformly high, and every single work in those categories would have been a valid choice as winner.

    Truly, this year, it WAS an honor just to be nominated.

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