The best in sci-fi: The 2016 Hugo Award winners

2016 Hugo Award winners
A selection of the 2016 Hugo Award winners
Courtesy of publishers

The world of sci-fi has a new set of stars, after the Hugo Awards were handed out Saturday night.

The Hugos are one of the most prestigious awards in the genre. Unlike many literary awards, which are traditionally decided by a select number of critics, voting on the Hugos is open to all attendees of the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon, for short). That makes them the most democratic — and the most controversy-prone.

This year, however, the stories shone brighter than the battle over the genre.

N.K. Jemisin's "The Fifth Season," about a planet overrun by the strangling effects of climate change, took the award for Best Novel. Nnedi Okorafor's "Binti" — about a young girl who attends a university with students from different planets, some of which are at war with one another — took the prize for Best Novella.

Hao Jingfang won for Best Novelette with "Folding Beijing," a story about class divisions taken to an extreme in the crowded Chinese city. And Naomi Kritzer won for her short story, "Cat Pictures Please," which imagines what would happen if artificial intelligence was born out of our search engine history.

Neil Gaiman was the only man to win one of the big five literary Hugos, for his graphic novel, "The Sandman: Overture." That continues the trend from this year's Nebula Awards, another big honor in the sci-fi world, in which women swept the slate.

The Hugo Awards were plagued by controversy last year, when a slate of voters calling themselves the Sad Puppies, and another group calling themselves the Rabid Puppies, rallied behind their own group of nominees. The Puppies, both Sad and Rabid, have voiced disdain for the changes they've seen in sci-fi publishing lately, with more books being published by women and writers of color.

The groups attempted to sway the outcome by promoting a unified slate of nominees, predominantly white and male. This led to a disappointing outcome, in which many voters selected "No Award" for the biggest categories last year, in response to the controversy.

This year, the Puppies rallied again, but their influence was negligible on award night.

2016 Hugo Award winners

Best novel

"The Fifth Season" by N.K. Jemisin

Best novella

"Binti" by Nnedi Okorafor

Best novelette

"Folding Beijing" by Hao Jingfang, translated by Ken Liu — Read it now

Best short story

"Cat Pictures Please" by Naomi Kritzer — Read it now

Best graphic story

"The Sandman: Overture," written by Neil Gaiman, art by J.H. Williams III

A full list of winners is available from the Hugo Awards.

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