Author of the A Song of Ice and Fire book series George R.R Martin recently hosted this year’s Hugo Awards, and some of the statements he made during the show have caused controversy.
Among this years Hugo winners were H.P Lovecraft and John W. Campbell, the former who was a known white supremacist and the latter who was a vocal proponent of slavery, both of whom were awarded Retro Hugos for their respective contributions to the science fiction genre, and outside of simply bestowing upon them the awards, Martin spoke of Campbell’s work specifically, which troubled many, largely because of the fact that the “Astounding Awards for Best New Writer” was changed from “John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer” in 2019 following Jeanette Ng calling out Campbell’s views.
Not only that, but George R.R Martin was also criticized for mispronouncing the names of a number of award winners, which many have considered a racist microaggression, because said award winners were people of color. Martin responded to these accusations, taking to the comments section of sci-fi blog File 770 and saying;
“Last night at the event I was handed sealed envelopes with the names of the winners, and there were phonetic pronunciations for SOME (by no means all) of the names of those winners on the cards, which I had a second or two to digest before reading them out. I probably got some of those wrong as well. Pronunciation has never been my strong suit. I even mispronounce the name of my own characters at times (witness some of my interviews).”
Whether or not one can separate the art from the artist and whether or not mispronouncing a foreign name is an act of racism is still a very real debate. It seems, however, that Martin meant no harm.
Featured image via The Daily Express