N K Jemisin has won the Hugo award for best novel for the second time after being the first black person to claim the science fiction prize last year.
The African American author was revealed as the winner at Worldcon in Helsinki on Friday (11th August) for The Obelisk Gate (Orbit Books), the follow-up to her Hugo award-winning novel The Fifth Season. It is the first time an author has won the award twice in a row for a quarter of a century since Lois McMaster Bujold won in 1991 and 1992.
Her series is based in a universe jeopardised by seismic activity and where the mutants who can control the environment are oppressed by humans.
The prize is voted for by fans and its administrator, Nicholas Whyte, said that 3,319 people voted in this year’s award, the third-highest vote total ever and the highest participation in the Hugos for a Worldcon outside the US or UK, resulting in a list of predominantly female writers.
Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway (Tor.com publishing) took the best novella prize, Ursula Vernon’s The Tomato Thief (Apex Magazine, January 2016) won best novelette, and Amal El-Mohtar’s "Seasons of Glass and Iron" (The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales, Saga Press) won best short story. Author Ursula K Le Guin took the best related work gong for Words Are My Matter (Small Beer), a collection of her writing about life and books while Lois McMaster Bujold won a new prize for best series, for Vorkosigan Saga (Baen). The John W Campbell award for best new writer was won by Ada Palmer.
Marjorie Liu won best graphic story for "Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening", which was illustrated by Sana Takeda. The best dramatic presentation (long form) was won by alien film "Arrival" with the screenplay by Eric Heisserer based on a short story by Ted Chiang, directed by Denis Villeneuve. The best dramatic presentation (short form) went to "The Expanse: Leviathan Wakes", written by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, directed by Terry McDonough (SyFy).
"There’s been a very high level of genuine engagement and thoughtful participation,” said Whyte. “People can read into that what they like.”
The last two years of the Hugos have attracted block-voting campaigns from conservative lobbies, the Sad Puppies and the more politically extreme Rabid Puppies. The two groups set out to combat a perceived tendency to reward books which they believed contained an overly left-leaning ideology.
In 2015 the controversy led to no awards being given in five catogeries. The previous month George R R Martin had urged “every true fan” of science fiction and fantasy to vote for this year’s Hugo Awards to “help protect the integrity of the rocket”. The Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies had allegedly tried to skewer the process so that the awards would go to right-wing authors.
The Hugos have been running for around 65 years with previous winners including Neil Gaiman and Isaac Asimov.