Since I didn’t watch the awards presentation at all, I missed George R. R. Martin making a colossal flaming ass of himself. Here’s a summary:
The host for this year’s festivities was George R.R. Martin and he spent an awful lot of time talking about John W. Campbell, noted fascist and racist. Pretty sure that between Martin and Bob Silverberg, Campbell (noted fascist and racist!) was mentioned more than the aggregate of the folks being honored. I aged approximately 67 years during Silverberg’s segment.
We were treated to tales of how Martin is Just Like Us while he was broadcasting from the movie theater he owns for funsies. I lost count of how many times he mentioned that fandom used to be so much smaller that Worldcon was in a hotel and that there was a banquet with rubbery chicken (no one cares).
Because it’s such a goddamn fucking shame that fandom is so much larger and diverse than it was 50 fucking years ago. Because the people nominated for and winning awards aren’t exclusively white and male. The first woman to win a Hugo Award–in any category–was Anne McCaffrey, who tied with Philip José Farmer in 1968 for her novella, “Weyr Search.” The first Hugo Award was given out in 1953. It was fifteen years before a woman won. Four-time nominee James Davis Nicoll has done more work in this area than I have, and I recommend that y’all look very closely at that giant table of doom.
I’ve done a bit of searching–not much–and I can’t find a comparable analysis around race and the Hugos. But I can say that N.K. Jemisin was the first Black person to win the Hugo for Best Novel. In 2016. In 2016.
Speaking of Jemisin, Martin made the decision to first mention her unprecedented accomplishment of winning the Best Novel three years in a row–no one else of any race or gender has ever accomplished a Best Novel hat trick–and then attempt to undermine it by talking at great length the time Heinlein won three Hugos in nine years, culminating in some sort of shaggy dog story involving a white dinner jacket and Stranger in a Strange Land. I’ve forgotten the details because Heinlein is irrelevant to the discussion.
What I haven’t forgotten is this: George R.R. Martin repeatedly mispronounced the names of nominees and, in one case, a publication which was nominated. All the nominees were asked to provide pronunciations for their names in advance. The fact that Martin chose not to use that information is disgusting and racist as fuck, as nearly without exception the names he mispronounced were Black and brown. He mispronounced FIYAH, a publication owned, edited, and written by Black people.
This is thoroughly beyond the pale, especially since those segments were pre-recorded and CoNZealand could have asked him to re-do those segments and pronounce peoples’ names correctly. Names are important. They have power.
Read The Whole Thing. There’s more, much more. I’m rather appalled at his behavior, and the fact that he chose to go on and on praising Campbell, after the award that used to be called the Campbell award was explicitly renamed because of his terrible behavior (cancelled!), and when one of the awards he was handing out was to Jeanette Ng, who had called out Campbell.
Jeanette Ng took the best related work award, for her acceptance speech last year at the Hugos upon receiving the John W Campbell award for best new writer, in which she called Campbell a fascist who set a tone “of science fiction that still haunts the genre to this day. Sterile. Male. White. Exalting in the ambitions of imperialists and colonisers, settlers and industrialists.” The prize was later renamed the Astounding award.
Imagine a dumpster fire in a train wreck. That’s what this awards ceremony sounds like. The organizers who made a whole chain of stupid decisions have apologized; Martin has not.
In conclusion, let us shoot George R.R. Martin and Bob Silverberg into the sun where they shall bother us no longer.
That’s too much work, and far too expensive. How about never allowing those two to speak at a con ever again? Simply never inviting them, either? I expect it’s inevitable that Game of Thrones will get another nomination, if he ever finishes it — how about not?
By the way, I have good memories of reading Silverberg, and a couple of years ago I re-read Hawksbill Station, one that I’d last read as a teenager. It’s a time-travel story, and Hawksbill Station is set in the Cambrian! On re-reading it, though, I discovered that it is the most sexist, awful piece of crap, a real shit-show of a story, and I was so ashamed of Teenaged Me, and I don’t think I could ever read another Silverberg story.