2012 Hugo Awards Announced: Jo Walton’s “Among Others” Wins for Best Novel
The Hugo Awards for excellence in science fiction and fantasy were announced Sunday night at WorldCon in Chicago, MC’d by bestselling author John Scalzi. Jo Walton’s coming-of-age nee faery novel Among Others took top honors for best novel, beating out heavy favorite George R.R. Martin’s A Dance with Dragons as Omni predicted might be the case. (The full list of winners can be found here.)
In addition to the unique voice of 15-year-old Morwenna Phelps and some beautifully described fantastical elements, Among Others is a wonderful testimony to the power and importance of reading. As I wrote in the New York Times last year, “It’s a brave act to write a novel that is in essence all aftermath [following an accident], but Walton succeeds admirably. Her novel is a wonder and a joy.”
Reached for comment immediately after the ceremony, Walton told Omnivoracious that she didn’t expect to win. “I was absolutely gobsmacked—I mean really phenomenally surprised. I thought that A Dance With Dragons would win hands down—it's been on the bestseller list for a year, it's this huge phenomenon, I didn't really think I had more than the ghost of a chance of getting in on a technicality. I hadn't even written a speech.”
As might be expected, Walton said Among Others is very personal to her, which makes the win even more satisfying. “It’s a mythologisation of part of my own history. And people sometimes ask me how I chose the books the character reads, and I always say ‘The books are real’.”
Best novella went to Kij Johnson for “The Man Who Bridged the Mist.” Johnson has been up multiple times and won before but said, “I never get used to this!” Omni put Johnson---still caught up in the post-Hugo celebrations--on the spot and asked what Hugo voters respond to in her work: “My friend Barb says that maybe all my stories lack people getting eaten by giant fish, so I don 't know. I try always to be honest and not flinch.”
Rising star Ken Liu, who won in the short story category for his much-lauded “The Paper Managerie,” expressed sentiments similar to Walton’s, indicating he was “completely surprised. My first thought was of my wife Lisa and all the support she's given me over the years. She's always been my best critic.”
The ceremony had many nice moments, including when John W. Campbell Award winner (for best new writer) E. Lily Yu looking out shyly at the audience and said “That’s a lot of people” before thanking, among others, thanked Rick Wilber and Sheila Williams (who won for editing Asimov’s SF Magazine) for their support. John Picacio, winner for best artist, expressed relief at finally winning after eight nominations and gave a shout-out to icon Richard Powers, whose work graces the just-released American Science Fiction collection from Library of America.
Perhaps the best speech was given by Betsy Wollheim, who won for best long-form editor. She noted that she had been working in the field for 37 years and that this was her first nomination. She thanked her authors for taking the time to tell voters how much they valued her editorial contributions and ended by saying, “finally a Hugo with the name Wollheim on it,” a reference to her father Donald A. Wollheim, who founded DAW books.
The only technical glitch came from outside the ceremony itself: in a clear mistake, Ustream discontinued the live video feed for “copyright violations” after the clips for Best Dramatic Presentation aired. Otherwise, master of ceremonies John Scalzi kept things moving at a decent pace, peppered with just enough jokes of a non-punny nature, and the Hugo Award itself is again a thing of beauty. However, as usual, it is of an ungainly, lopsided weight, which prompted most winners to hand it back to Scalzi to deliver their speeches.
As for what the winners planned to do to celebrate, Walton said “Wander around with a big grin on my face? Get on with writing the next book? I don't know!”
Liu had a more practical concern: “I will figure out how to celebrate after I get the rocket safely home!”