The Hugo Awards have been science fiction’s equivalent of the Oscars for more than sixty years. Past winners of the Best Novel category include Stephen King, Octavia Butler, Michael Chabon, Isaac Asimov, Orson Scott Card, J.K. Rowling, and Neil Gaiman.

But this year’s ceremony was a little different than usual.

For the first time in its history, women swept all of the Hugo’s major awards.

Rebecca Roanhorse took Best Short Story for “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience.” Martha Wells won best novella for “All Systems Red.” Nnedi Okorafor won the “Lodestar” Young Adult award for “Akata Warrior.” And N.K. Jemisin took Best Novel for a third year in a row, making her the Hugo’s first-ever threepeat winner.

In a genre that was once written-off as the domain of burly men in velour spacesuits defending scantily-clad women from aliens… the tides seem to have shifted. But the road to change hasn’t been easy. Most of these writers have had to hold off online trolls, skeptical agents, dismissive publishers, and worse.

Both Okorafor and Jemisin dealt with blowback by a faction of self-described “Sad” and “Rabid Puppies” — two groups of rightwing and conservative science-fiction and fantasy fans and authors who attempted to nominate authors they felt weren’t “overtly” liberal. In 2015 and 2016, “No award” was given in multiple categories, in order to avoid rewarding the Puppies’ nominees.

This pushback isn’t limited to the world of novels. The fans behind this year’s “Comicsgate” have launched a coordinated effort to blacklist “left-leaning” comics writers – nearly all of whom are women or people of color. The directors and actors behind the latest Star Wars films have received a torrent of abuse, some of which was vitriolic enough to force actresses Daisy Ridley and Kelly Marie Tran off of social media. There was even an uproar over the character design in Netflix’s upcoming reboot of “She-Ra: Princess of Power” (specifically, the complaint that She-Ra isn’t sexy enough).

Science fiction calls on readers to explore new worlds, new futures, and new questions for humanity.

So how is it that even some sci-fi fans have to be dragged kicking and screaming into this 21st century?

And if even the most futuristic thinkers need to be prodded to broaden their minds… what does that say about the rest of us?

Show produced by Paige Osburn.


  • N.K. Jemisin Author of ten books, including the "Broken Earth" trilogy; three-time winner of the Hugo Award for Best Novel; @nkjemisin
  • Nnedi Okorafor Author of 12 books, including the Hugo-winning "Binti," the World Fantasy Award-winning "Who Fears Death," and the Lodestar-winning "Akata Warrior" series; writer, Marvel’s “Black Panther"; writer, Marvel's “Shuri” @Nnedi
  • Noelle Stevenson Creator, Nimona; writer, Lumberjanes, Runaways; writer, Disney's Wander Over Yonder; showrunner, "She Ra: Princess of Power" (Netflix/Dreamworks); @Gingerhazing

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