Science Fiction’s New Reality

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?

By Paige Osburn, September 10, 2018, first appearing on Books : NPR

Announcing the 2019 Man Booker International Prize Longlist

Honoring the finest works of translated fiction from around the world, the Man Booker International Prize has announced its 2019 longlist. The prize is awarded every year to a single book, translated into English and published in the UK and Ireland. The £50,000 prize is split between the winning author and translator.


The shortlist will be announced April 9th and the winner will be announced May 21st. Next year, the prize will be known as the International Booker Prize, as the sponsorship from the Man Group comes to an end and the prize’s new sponsor Crankstart begins funding.

Bettany Hughes, chair of the judging panel, commented on the list, stating that, ‘This was a year when writers plundered the archive, personal and political. That drive is represented in our longlist, but so too are surreal Chinese train journeys, absurdist approaches to war and suicide, and the traumas of spirit and flesh. We’re thrilled to share 13 books which enrich our idea of what fiction can do.”

This year’s list is dominated by books from small presses. There are also more women than men nominated this year, with the notable return of Olga Tokarczuk who won the award last year—the first Polish writer to win the award—for her novel Flights, translated by Jennifer Croft. This year her book Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones, has been nominated.

2019 Man Booker International Prize Longlist

Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi (Arabic / Omani),  translated by Marilyn Booth (Sandstone Press Ltd)

Love In The New Millennium by Can Xue (Chinese / Chinese), translated by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen (Yale University Press)

The Years by Annie Ernaux (French / French), translated by Alison L. Strayer (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

At Dusk by Hwang Sok-yong (Korean / Korean), translated by Sora Kim-Russell (Scribe, UK)

Jokes For The Gunmen by Mazen Maarouf (Arabic / Icelandic and Palestinian), translated by Jonathan Wright (Granta, Portobello Books)

Four Soldiers by Hubert Mingarelli (French / French), translated by Sam Taylor (Granta, Portobello Books)

The Pine Islands by Marion Poschmann (German / German), translated by Jen Calleja (Profile Books, Serpent’s Tail)

Mouthful Of Birds by Samanta Schweblin (Spanish / Argentine and Italian), translated by Megan McDowell (Oneworld)

The Faculty Of Dreams by Sara Stridsberg (Swedish / Swedish), translated by Deborah Bragan-Turner (Quercus, MacLehose Press)

Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead by Olga Tokarczuk (Polish / Polish), translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

The Shape of the Ruins by Juan Gabriel Vásquez (Spanish / Colombian), translated by Anne McLean (Quercus, MacLehose Press)

The Death Of Murat Idrissi by Tommy Wieringa (Dutch / Dutch), translated by Sam Garrett (Scribe, UK)

The Remainder by Alia Trabucco Zeran (Spanish / Chilean and Italian), translated by Sophie Hughes (And Other Stories)

By , March 

Bancroft Prize for History Is Awarded to 2 Scholars

David W. Blight, whose book was called “a definitive portrait” of Frederick Douglass. Credit Willy Sanjuan/Invision, via Associated Press

A mammoth biography of Frederick Douglass and a new study of the 17th-century colonial American conflict known as King Philip’s War have won this year’s Bancroft Prize, which is considered one of the most prestigious honors in the field of American history.

David W. Blight’s “Frederick Douglass, Prophet of Freedom,” published by Simon and Schuster, was cited for offering “a definitive portrait” of the 19th-century former slave, abolitionist, writer and orator “in all his fullness and imperfection, his intellectual gifts and emotional needs.”

Lisa Brooks, whose “Our Beloved Kin” was praised for how it “imaginatively illuminates submerged indigenous histories.”Credit John Weller

Lisa Brooks’s “Our Beloved Kin,” published by Yale University Press, was praised for how it “imaginatively illuminates submerged indigenous histories,” drawing readers into “a complex world of tensions, alliances and betrayals” that fueled the conflict between Native Americans in New England and European colonists and their Indian allies.

The Bancroft, which includes an award of $10,000, was established in 1948 by the trustees of Columbia University, with a bequest from the historian Frederic Bancroft.

By Jennifer SchuesslerMarch 7, 2019, first appearing on NYT > Books



Netflix has announced that it has acquired the rights to develop Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. Originally published in 1967, One Hundred Years of Solitude is widely regarded as the Nobel Prize winning author’s greatest work and as one of the most significant works in the modern literary canon. This is the first time the novel will be adapted for screen.

García Márquez was often approached for film rights during his lifetime but refused all offers, citing his concerns that the large, multi-generational novel would not adapt well into a single film. García Márquez was also committed to his story being told in Spanish.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. Netflix to Adapt Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of SolitudeNetflix has changed the game though and García Márquez’s two sons, who will both be executive producers on the project, have decided to open a new “great chapter” stating that, “In the last three or four years, the level and prestige and success of series and limited series has grown so much . . . Netflix was among the first to prove that people are more willing than ever to see series that are produced in foreign languages with subtitles. All that seems to be a problem that is no longer a problem.”

Francisco Ramos, the vice president for Spanish language originals at Netflix, “noted the success of series like Narcos and movies like Roma, which recently won the Oscar for best foreign language film, that have shown ‘we can make Spanish-language content for the world.’”

No details, as of yet, about who will be writing or starring in the series.

By , March 


nobel transp

The Nobel Foundation has announced in a press release that the Nobel Prize in Literature will once again be awarded during this year’s Nobel Prize ceremony on December 10. During the Nobel Prize ceremony two prizes in literature will be awarded–one for 2019 and one for 2018. This decision is in keeping with what was announced last year when scandals rocked the Swedish Academy, the body that appoints the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, and the prize was temporarily suspended.

The decision to reinstate the Nobel Prize in Literature comes after a turbulent year of scandals and in-fighting in public among the members of the Swedish Academy. An organization under royal protection, the Swedish Academy has been working closely with the Nobel Foundation’s Board of Directors and the Swedish royal court to address the issues that brought the Academy near the brink of collapse. The issues of conflicts of interest, breaches of confidentiality, and economic misconduct were all brought to the fore when Jean-Claude Arnault, husband of former Academy member and poet Katarina Frostenson and close personal friend of Academy member Horace Engdahl, was accused of sexual assault. Arnault has since then been convicted on two accounts of rape, one of which took place in the Swedish Academy’s apartment in Paris.

The Nobel Prize in Literature might be back on track, but we are not out of the woods yet. The agreement between the Nobel Foundation and the Swedish Academy is temporary and will be renegotiated in 2020.

Until then, bookies and book publishers alike are once again turning their eyes towards Sweden in anticipation of the answer to the question: Who will win this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature? Let the speculations commence.

By  March 

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