N K Jemisin’s The Stone Sky has been awarded science fiction's premier award, the Hugo Award for Best Novel, marking the first time any writer has taken home the accolade three years running.
Jemisin's UK publisher, Tim Holman at Orbit, called it "another incredible achievement for a ground-breaking series". The triple-Hugo-Award-winning author first made Hugo Award history when she became the first black writer to win the Best Novel category in 2016, scooping the prize with the first in the Broken Earth series of books, The Fifth Season. She then went on to claim the award again in 2017 with the second in the series, The Obelisk Gate. The Stone Sky is the concluding volume in the trilogy.
In her acceptance speech, Jemisin talked about what had been "a hard few years" and "a hard century", and why she had written the trilogy, saying it was "to speak to that struggle, and what it takes just to live, let alone thrive, in a world that seems determined to break you". She also addressed prejudice within the SFF community itself.
"I get a lot of questions about where the themes of the Broken Earth trilogy come from. I think it’s pretty obvious that I’m drawing on the human history of structural oppression, as well as my feelings about this moment in American history. What may be less obvious, though, is how much of the story derives from my feelings about science fiction and fantasy (SFF). Then again, SFF is a microcosm of the wider world, in no way rarefied from the world’s pettiness or prejudice," she said.
She continued to say that 2018 was "a year in which even the most privilege-blinded of us has been forced to acknowledge that the world is broken and needs fixing—and that’s a good thing! Acknowledging the problem is the first step toward fixing it. I look to science fiction and fantasy as the aspirational drive of the Zeitgeist: we creators are the engineers of possibility. And as this genre finally, however grudgingly, acknowledges that the dreams of the marginalized matter and that all of us have a future, so will go the world. (Soon, I hope.)"
She also had a message for all the "naysayers":
"I have smiled and nodded while well-meaning magazine editors advised me to tone down my allegories and anger. (I didn’t.) I have gritted my teeth while an established professional writer went on a 10-minute tirade at me—as a proxy for basically all black people—for mentioning underrepresentation in the sciences. I have kept writing even though my first novel, The Killing Moon, was initially rejected on the assumption that only black people would ever possibly want to read the work of a black writer. I have raised my voice to talk back over fellow panelists who tried to talk over me about my own damn life. I have fought myself, and the little voice inside me that constantly, still, whispers that I should just keep my head down and shut up and let the real writers talk.
"But this is the year in which I get to smile at all of those naysayers—every single mediocre insecure wannabe who fixes their mouth to suggest that I do not belong on this stage, that people like me cannot possibly have earned such an honor, that when they win it it’s meritocracy but when we win it it’s “identity politics” — I get to smile at those people, and lift a massive, shining, rocket-shaped middle finger in their direction."
Refering to the "Black Panther" movie, she closed: "Let 2018 be the year that the stars came closer for all of us. The stars are ours."
The Hugo Awards, this year hosted in San Jose, California, are held annually at the World Science Fiction Convention and run by the World Science Fiction Society to award for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the past year.
Other works and authors recognised at the 2018 Hugo Awards included: All Systems Red by Martha Wells (Tor.com Publishing), winner of the Best Novella category; "The Secret Life of Bots" by Suzanne Palmer (Clarkesworld), winner of Best Novelette; "Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience™" by Rebecca Roanhorse (Apex), winner of Best Short Story; World of the Five Gods by Lois McMaster Bujold (Harper Voyager), named Best Series; No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters by Ursula K Le Guin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), winner in the Best Related Work category; Monstress, Volume 2: The Blood, written by Marjorie M. Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda (Image Comics), named Best Graphic Story; Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor (Viking), which received the Award for Best Young Adult Book; and Rebecca Roanhorse, who was recognised with the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.