Pulitzers and Hugos, 2015

Pulitzers and Hugos, 2015

Pulitzer Prize winners

The Pulitzer Prize winners have been announced:

Official Site

and it’s reasonable to expect the prices to come down on the involved books in the next day or so, at least for a short time. People might cynically expect it to go up, but there is likely to be a mini price war, and Amazon tends to match others’ prices.

Congratulations go to:

Winning a Pulitzer is like winning an Oscar: for the rest of your life, you’ll be introduced as “Pulitzer Prize winning author so-and-so”. 🙂

The Hugo Awards

I was originally going to do a full story just on this, then I was going to put in a round-up…but it fit best in this post.

I’ve been holding off on writing about it, because I wanted to investigate it more, to get more angles on it…but it’s just continuing to grow and I want to alert you to it now.

The Hugo Awards are one of the most prestigious in science fiction literature, with a long and storied history.

Official Site

As reader and commenter John Aga pointed out to me in a comment,

Lines of Departure (Frontlines Book 2) (at AmazonSmile*)

by Marko Kloos, is a Hugo-nominated novel published by one of Amazon’s traditional publishing imprints, 47North.

Well, perhaps I should say, “was a Hugo-nominated novel”, because Kloos has withdrawn it from consideration.

If you go to the link I gave you for the Hugo Awards, you won’t see it listed.

It’s been replaced in the list by The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu (Ken Liu translator).

This has nothing to do with the book being published by Amazon.

It has to do with the way books get nominated for the Hugos, and concerns about how that may have been influenced this year.

Essentially, a group wanted to ensure that nominated books fit within their definitions of science fiction…so they took steps to see that happened.

The controversy is that there are many who don’t agree with their views, and feel that those steps they took may have “hijacked” the nominations.

I don’t want to get too much into it, because I want to know more about what “Sad Puppies” says about it.

I’ve read plenty of things about people who disagree with them, but before I possibly influence you, I want to see it more firsthand.

Kloos isn’t the only person to withdraw a nomination this year, and  even George R.R. Martin has commented on it.

Here’s a Google search for new on it:


What do you think? Have you ever read a book in part because it was a Pulitzer-winner (or nominee)? How do awards affect you? How do you think awards should be given? Should literary genres be “preserved” (by having them follow traditional guidelines)? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

** A Kindle with text-to-speech can read any text downloaded to it…unless that access is blocked by the publisher inserting code into the file to prevent it. That’s why you can have the device read personal documents to you (I’ve done that). I believe that this sort of access blocking disproportionately disadvantages the disabled, although I also believe it is legal (provided that there is at least one accessible version of each e-book available, however, that one can require a certification of disability). For that reason, I don’t deliberately link to books which block TTS access here (although it may happen accidentally, particularly if the access is blocked after I’ve linked it). I do believe this is a personal decision, and there  are legitimate arguments for purchasing those books. 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


15 Responses to “Pulitzers and Hugos, 2015”

  1. jjhitt Says:

    Authors like the Sad Puppies are why I pretty much dropped Science Fiction for Horror and Noir. Yes, it’s been political since the beginning. Wells used it as platform for social commentary. Heinlein certainly was always political. But in the 80’s with the rise of “military science fiction” it took a hard turn to the right and I bailed out.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, jjhitt!

      I haven’t read that much contemporary science fiction, perhaps. I did read an Area 51 novel, and it was arguably more to the right. More than Starship Troopers, though? Hm…

  2. EJC Says:

    I have read items just because they were nominated for a Hugo or nominated or won a Nebula Award. Also, Newbery, Edgar and others. Awards do bring books forward that I might not have otherwise seen.

    The Hugo Award has an interesting voting scheme. Anyone who buys a membership to the convention that hosts is an eligible voter. There are even virtual memberships that are just to get voting rights. Once you have voting rights you are given access to digital copies of all of the nominated works. I have bought two virtual memberships in the past.

    This year the controversy came out before the membership sale was over and as a result, I did not purchase a membership. In my opinion the controversy tainted this year’s Hugo, whether or not it made an actual difference. The taint is still there and has left a bad taste and disappointment.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, EJC!

      I suppose it’s a bit like the Blacksox scandal in that way, or baseball players with an asterisk next to their names. It’s unfortunate, because there may certainly be deserving nominees this year, but many people will see the entire year’s slate as invalid…

  3. Edward Boyhan Says:

    As I think I’ve said here several times, I’m not much of a fan of literary prizes (especially the Man Booker prize :grin) — I find many of the nominees/winners to be pretentious, not very enjoyable reads.

    For me the Pulitzers are more about journalism — and the Pulitzer awards for journalism deserve much respect and kudos to their authors. The Pulitzer literary awards are to me nonentities — few of the newspapers reporting on the Pulitzer winners yesterday even mentioned the literary winners. I would never consider a Pulitzer fiction winner as guiding any purchasing decision of mine (not to say I wouldn’t buy one, but it would be driven by other factors).

    I wasn’t aware of the Hugo controversy. Sadly, this seems to reflect the deep cultural/social/political divide that has become pervasive in our society. A group, following the Hugo rules to the letter ( and some financial commitment because they have to purchase memberships in the World SFCON in order to nominate) have in effect dictated the nominee slate this year.

    Once the nominees are chosen, the winners are chosen by popular vote of supporting or attending members of the annual World Science Fiction Convention.

    In the past (because it is, I think a popularity contest), I have found Hugo winners to be more entertaining reads than the winners of the other major SF award: The Nebulas (awarded by the Science Fiction Witers of America), the winners of which tend to focus on issues more of interest of authors than readers (IMO :grin).

    I have always disliked fantasy, and dislike the bundling of SF and Fantasy into a single award and (when I was still buying physical books) the placement of SF and Fantasy together on bookshelves in bookstores.

    Lately, I have found the Hugo winners less interesting. For whatever reasons the nominated titles have tended more to fantasy or to SF sub genres (such as post apocalyptic visions) not appealing to me.

    The one title you mentioned by Marko Kloos that has been withdrawn, I have read, and enjoyed. It is the second in a series, and coincidentally, I received an email today from Amazon announcing the third in the series (which I promptly bought :grin).

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      I understand the passionate desire some people have to differentiate science fiction from fantasy, and perhaps it’s the Fortean in me, but I don’t have a problem with that.

      I consider them both sub-genres of fantasy (I sometimes do the genres as capitalized Science Fiction and Fantasy for that reason), but even that can be a bit slippery for me.

      For example, do you consider Star Wars to be science fiction? Is telepathy a disqualifier? How about faster than light travel for spaceships? Not all of those use scientific theory to explain it…but for some people, intent is enough. 🙂

      • Edward Boyhan Says:

        Well as you say genre definitions definitely reside on a slippery slope (:grin). For me it’s not so much whether the science is realistic/possible as to what the background against which the story is told, and how the science fits in.

        To Answer your questions: yes, to me Star Wars is science fiction (though to be clear for me it is a movie not a book phenomenon — I have never read a Star Wars/Star Trek spin-off novel — those don’t interest me).

        It’s interesting you mention telepathy as I’m currently reading one of Margery Allingham’s last Campion books, “The Mind Readers” — in which telepathy is a prime story focus, but as it is set in mid-sixties cold-war England, it fits best within the thriller/mystery genre. OTOH the Telzey Amberdon stories of James H. Schmitz also are concerned with telepathy, but these are most definitely Science Fiction — as they are set in a far future time. I would also say that I find the Schmitz stories more enjoyable than “The Mind Readers” — probably because the Telzey stories have “coming of age” elements to them (also see Schmitz’s “Witches of Karres”).

        Many scientists would say that FTL or anti-gravity will never be scientifically possible, yet I find them to be eminently acceptable SciFi tropes. Again OTOH if I look at the “lensman” stories of EE “Doc” Smith, the science of today has clearly passed by the “science” of the lensmen, and they seem to me to be very dated, and as Science Fiction, hogwash (:grin).

        Then there are whole bunch of what I’ll call artificial uses of science fiction elements as a “hook” into stories that end of being little more than fantasies of one sort or another. Andre Norton’s “Witch World” stories, Connie Willis’ time machine stories, Zelazney’s Amber tales, and CJ Cherryh’s “Morgaine Cycle” stories all fall into this bucket. I found all of these series less enjoyable than “harder” SciFi offerings.

        That’s not to say that I find all fantasy unenjoyable. I liked the Harry Potter’s immensely (again “coming of age”), and I wish Randall Garrett were still with us so I could have some more Lord Darcy stories to devour (:grin).

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Edward!

        Oh, you’ve hit a lot of good touchstones with this post! I know many of these.

        I like science fiction and I like fantasy. A hard science fiction story, when done well, can have added cachet. However, some writers seem hamstrung by trying to be scientific…it can have a negative impact on character and plot, if not handled deftly.

        Believe me, I’ve seen the (intellectual) knockdowns over SF vs F, and where it all falls. I do find that anything in fiction which is outside current consensus reality has an additional attraction for me…whether that be future science or fantasy.

  4. John Aga Says:

    I read a book of history, at least in part, because it was a Pulitzer Prize winner. The book was “An Army At Dawn, The War In North Africa 1942-1943” (The Liberation Trilogy, Book 1), by Rick Atkinson. It was not the primary reason but it was an element in my choice. This book is part of a trilogy that he recently completed. The second book in the series is “The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 (The Liberation Trilogy, Book 2). The third book in the series is “The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 (The Liberation Trilogy, Book 3).

    Other factors included the subject matter, an interview of the author on National Public Radio, and the reviews of fellow readers on Amazon. I found the entire trilogy an outstanding and moving experience, which I highly recommend.

  5. Len Edgerly Says:

    Thanks for this overview of the big awards, Bufo. I was glad to see the Washington Post score a Pulitzer for its Secret Service investigation. A Periscope video of the newsroom when they announced the award captured the energy and pride that comes with receiving one of these prestigious wins. The place went nuts when Carol Leonnig’s Pulitzer was announced. Way better than the Oscars, IMHO.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Len!

      I’ve been hoping to see Periscope (or Meerkat) in the Amazon Appstore, but not yet.

      It looks to me like 1Mobile only has unofficial versions for these…

  6. Man in the Middle Says:

    This has been discussed for years at Instapundit.com. The impression I get there is that in recent years the Hugos have been considered the personal property of politically-progressive social justice warrior types and a particular publishing house (Tor?), who have tried to prevent any author they consider either libertarian or conservative from even being considered, and consider only themselves to be “real” sci-fi fans, worthy of having their votes counted. In some cases, they’ve reportedly also done all they can to ensure authors they dislike can no longer be published anywhere. In other words, the usual tolerance for me, but not for thee.

    As a lifelong sci-fi fan who has never made it to a convention or joined a fan club or voted in any such contest, I don’t have a dog in this fight, but can comment that once this taint came over the Hugos a few years ago, I stopped favoring Hugo winners for purchase. Mostly I now buy Kindle books listing for under $3, after first trying and enjoying their samples.

    One of the non-SJW authors in the fight is Sarah A. Hoyt, who has lived under socialism in Portugal, and is glad to be free of it here. I’ve read several of her books, and enjoy her posts on Instapundit.

    John Scalzi is an author on the other side, and I’ve also enjoyed several of his books, but won’t buy any more if his goal is to allow only progressive SJW authors to be published. Freedom of speech cost way too much to win here to let it be lost just because we don’t like political diversity. The cure for bad speech is more speech, not only approved speech.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Man!

      I absolutely agree with your last statement, as I’ve said many times…although I’m not sure I’d use the term “bad”. I always welcome people with opposing views being published and heard…let the people know the truth and judge, rather than keeping in the shadows.

      I am a little confused by what you are saying about who is doing what, though. This year, I believe the concern was that people who favored “more traditional” science fiction (that is, according to them, works which focus on the science and not on social issues, as I understand it) were the ones that “manipulated” the nominees. In other words, as I read it, the concern is that more liberal works were excluded this year. I may be reading you incorrectly, but it looks like “this taint”, as you call it, goes the other way?

  7. Man in the Middle Says:

    Here’s an article from today that explains the issue and the players pretty well: http://pjmedia.com/blog/hurricane-hugos/

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Man!

      While that is an interesting article, I wouldn’t say it explains things very well for me.

      There are two names given for people involved in the actions….both on the same side. That’s sort of like doing introductions at the beginning of a baseball game…and only identifying the players for one team. 😉

      I find the methodology employed quite…saddening, I guess. A person believes that an institution which they presumably respect has become corrupted. Rather than proving that has happened, they choose to prove that it could hypothetically have happened…by manipulating it themselves.

      Seems counter-productive.

      Certainly, if it could have been shown that the system could not have been manipulated, that would have been valuable. At that point, perhaps that person becomes satisfied with it again, even if they feel it doesn’t match their own paradigm.

      However, if you want to protect a building by proving that it is susceptible to arson, burning it down seems like an odd process…

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