The Hugo Awards, an annual celebration of science fiction and fantasy authors, has found itself entangled in controversy once again. The 2023 Hugos, presented by Chengdu Worldcon in Chengdu, China, have raised questions about the eligibility of certain writers and books. The release of new nomination data has sparked concerns as to why some authors and works were deemed “not eligible” for inclusion.
One notable case is author Xirin Jay Zhao, known for works such as the 2021 YA best-seller “Iron Widow” and the middle-grade adventure “Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor.” Zhao received enough votes to qualify as a finalist for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer but was marked as “not eligible.”
Another instance involves R.F. Kuang’s work, “Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution,” which was labeled “not eligible” in the Best Novel category.
The disclosure of these nomination statistics has led to discussions and speculation among fans and authors about the criteria and decisions behind these designations. The controversy adds to the series of challenges and issues that the Hugo Awards have faced in recent years, from sponsorship concerns to anti-diversity movements. The Hugos underwent significant changes in 2018 to address these challenges and revamp the World Science Fiction Convention, the body administering the awards.
As the sci-fi and fantasy community navigates these controversies, it raises broader questions about the transparency and decision-making processes within prestigious literary awards, particularly in genres that have been grappling with issues of representation, diversity, and inclusion.