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Hugo Awards Accused of Self-Censorship To Appease China

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Critics around what’s happened with Hugo Awards last fall may be prompted to say – well this is one of those things you just can’t make up.

Even if, this is about Hugo Awards – set up specifically for “things” i.e., prose, decisively made up, and no qualms about it.

But it’s the annual literary awards ceremony for the best science fiction or fantasy, given at the World Science Fiction Convention that keeps causing a stir.

The problem is this: last October, Hugo Awards were taking place in China. The US-based Worldcon was reportedly behind most of the goings-on.

But China had a problem with some of that, the newly leaked emails seem to show.

China is a country, but also in some ways, a “continent” – not to borrow too heavily from the Hugo Awards themes – also, a “world unto itself.”

And, it’s protecting itself the way it has chosen to do. Many outsiders – and insiders – will say, that includes a (hopefully) rare brand of both relentless, and uncompromising online censorship.

According to 404 Media, it has now come to light that Hugo Awards administrators are being accused of self-censorship in order to be allowed to hold the event in China. The accusations come from leaked emails.

There’s been amazing science fiction coming out of China in recent years – most notably, Liu Cixin’s “The Three-Body Problem” and the ensuing trilogy.

But this particular “problem” goes deeper, at least as far as the Hugo event in concerned.

Neil Gaiman, R.F. Kuang, Xiran Jay Zhao, and Paul Weimer have all reportedly said that the reason they were not considered as finalists was not the merit of their writing – but some, at the time, incomprehensible decision to make them “ineligible.”

“Turns out the Hugo admin team willingly checked through all the nominees for potential political issues instead of just refusing to host the awards in China,” Xiran Jay Zhao summed the controversy up.

To make things worse, reports now say that the actual votes made these books worthy finalists – but that it was Chinese authorities – apparently “speaking” through Hugo administrators – who made them ineligible.

Sure, there are many “butt-hurt” authors in any category in any competition around the world. But this lot claims that the trouble started with the very choice of China’s Chengdu as the location for the awards – because of human rights violations against the Uyghurs.

Deeper (or shallower) that that, there were fears that literary content would face censoring for being seen as promoting LGBTQ content, or just plain criticism of China’s ruling party.

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