Controversy Follows Announcement of 2015 Hugo Award Nominees

The list of nominees for the Hugo Award was released over the weekend. The Hugo is one of the preeminent prizes in science fiction, effectively sharing co-honors with the Nebula Awards. The Hugo Awards are presented at Worldcon, a science fiction convention to be held this August in Spokane, Washington.

(Courtesy of the Hugo Awards)

The list of nominees for best novel:

Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie

The Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J. Anderson

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

Lines of Departure by Marko Kloos

Skin Game: A Novel of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher


The prize is also awarded to works of other lengths. The full list is available on the award’s official website

Reaction to the nominees has been mixed at best. The comment section under the announcement on science fiction publisher Tor’s website is full of angry remarks, and critical responses have already appeared on sites like The Guardian’s Books Blog, Gawker-empire futurism blog i09, and The Onion’s A.V. Club.

So what’s going on? Well, because the Hugo nomination process revolves around fan nomination, a small group of fans calling itself “Sad Puppies” was able to disproportionately influence the outcome. The group’s stated goals are to push the award back into the “mainstream” of science fiction after last year’s awards focused on non-traditional candidates—including many women and minority authors—which lends an additional troublesome angle to this new debate. The “Sad Puppies” have even gone so far as accusing past votes of  “[using] the Hugos as an affirmative action award.”

The controversy is a huge black eye for one of science fiction’s top awards, and it’s not clear if the problem can be fixed.