Hugo Award Acceptance Speeches: Three Cheers for Fandom!

Transcribed excerpts from some of the 2016 Hugo Award acceptance speeches.

From the 2016 Hugo Awards Ceremony.

There were many fine acceptance speeches delivered under Pat Cadigan’s fine MCing.

However, several stood out, if not only because they addressed what has become known as the Hugo Controversy.  Each winner expressed themselves eloquently (even despite language barriers) and added important commentary to the debate.

I believe that it is the award ceremony itself that captures the true nature of that controversy and reveals who the real winners and losers are; the online commentary, editorializing and punditry is merely a sideshow.  It is during the ceremony itself that Fandom has the opportunity to be given full expression.

The selected transcripts below (any and all transcribing errors that may have crept in are mine alone) encapsulate my belief, faith and pride in being a part of this community.

Neil Gaiman, Winner of the Best Graphic Novel:

“It meant a lot to see Sandman: Overture nominated for a Hugo Award and was disappointed to see that it had been dragged into the unfortunate mess that the pitiful people who call themselves puppy had attempted to inflict on Worldcon and its awards. (applause, cheers).

I would have withdrawn it from consideration but even that seemed like it would have been giving the Sad Losers too much acknowledgement. (Applause, cheers)

I’m proud it won and prouder by far of the amazing work that J H Williams, Dave Stewart, Todd Kline, Dave McKeen, and Shelly Bond did.

Thank you.”

Hao Jingfang, Winner of Best Novellette: (english as a second language btw)

“Well, I’m so glad that I can stand here.  It’s my great good honor to win this award. I’d personally like to thank Ken Liu, he’s a great translator of my story.

I’d like to thank Lynne and Michael of Uncanny Magazine who published my story and I would like to thank everybody who voted for me, thank you very much. (Applause)

I’m not going to say that I’m really surprised at this prize because I already expected this scenario. Well, it does not mean that I’m not very proud, that I think I’m better than anybody else (laughter) the truth is that I also expected for another scenario, that I’m not winning.  I did research for a party called Hugo Loser’s Party (laughter) after the ceremony held by one of my favorite writers.  Actually, I almost can not decide which scenario I’m more looking forward to. (laughter).

N. K. Jemisin (read by Alyssa Wong) Winner of Best Novel:

“I thanked them already in the acknowledgements but I really want to thank the people who talked me down from quitting this book. At the nadir of my chasm of doubt (hat tip to Kate Elliot for the term), I thought The Fifth Season was beyond my skill to write.  I thought no one would want to read it. When it got nominated I wondered how my fellow sci-fi-fantasy fans, in a year headlined by reactionary pushback against the presence and performance of people like me in the genre would choose to vote for the story of a 40-something, big-boned, dreadlocked woman of color, waging an epic struggle against the forces of oppression.

But I forgot.  Only a small number of idealogues have attempted to game the Hugo Awards.  That small number can be easily overwhelmed, their regressive clamors stilled if the rest of sci-fi fandom simply stands up to be counted. Stands up to say that “yes, they do want literary innovation and realistic representation”.  Stands up to say that “yes, they do just really want to read good stories”.  But what makes a story good is skill and audacity and the ability to consider the future clearly, rather than through the foggy lenses of nostalgia and privilege.

So thank you to my fellow category nominees  (Sustained applause.) for your excellence. I would have been happy to lose to any of you. Your work truly represents the breadth and depth and potential of this genre and I am honored to stand among you.  Thank you to my editor and agent and all the people at Orbit Books and all the people in the sci-fi-fantasy media sphere and those members of my family who’ve supported what I’ve been trying to do.

But most of all, Thank You, Hugo Voters for standing up for me.” (long applause.)

Michi Trotta, sharing Winner, Best Semi Prozine:

“Like Lynne and Michael Iwould like to thank all of my fellow space unicorns, our Uncanny staff, our supporters, our readers, our contributing writers and artists, especially my friends who pretty much threw me at this when I told them that I had been asked to manage a science fiction and fantasy magazine and particularly my husband, Jessie Lexx, who patiently keeps me supplied with enough tea, coffee and chocolate to survive our production cycle while he reads all the slush we throw his way.

I especially want to thank Lynne and Michael for taking a chance on someone new to professional fandom and asking me to join Uncanny as managing editor because I really could not ask for a better publication or community to be a part of.

All of you, our subscribers, creators, our Kickstarter supporters, our fans are what keep Uncanny evolving in exciting and innovative ways.

Love of the genre is what brought me to science fiction and fantasy, but while I’ve been a fan for my whole life, like many others, especially those of us who share intersecting marginalized identities, I haven’t always felt like i was a part of fandom.

I’m incredibly proud to be part of Uncanny, particularly because of how deeply we value our community, and our dedication to creating a vibrant home where anyone who enjoys science fiction and fantasy can see themselves included. Nurturing a community isn’t just about throwing open the gates and expecting others to walk in merrily, especially when there has been a long history of systemic barriers to entry.

It’s essential to both create a space that welcomes and encourages others to come in, and to venture outside your comfort zones to find new people, invite them to share their voices and visions with you and provide them with support and opportunities.

That understanding is what makes it possible to find and publish an incredible array of inspiring work, with stories about everything from folding cities, telepathic lions and bone horses, to weird western pulp fairy tales, demon-fighting storm lizards and immortal alien cannibals, and the literally combustive power of collective grief and rage, from creators of every conceivable background.

It’s why I have the honor of standing here as both the first Filipina Hug Award Finalist and now, the first Filipina Hugo Award Winner!”  (Long, sustained applause.)

Videos of the award ceremony can be found here.

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