Leaked emails show works were excluded from Hugo Awards over China concerns

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2024/02/16/leaked-emails-show-works-were-excluded-from-hugo-awards-over-china-concerns.html


Why would they have held the Hugos in China to begin with?
It’s not as if they are noted for freedom of the press or publishing~


Worldcon location is decided by a vote. To vote you must be a member of Worldcon. A large enough number or people bought voting memberships and votes for the site. Locations offer to host the con and volunteers do the majority of the hard labor to make it happen.
There was probably a confluence of people in the west saying “let’s celebrate the expansion of fandom around the world and acknowledge that this isn’t just a western thing” and more people in China voting.
On the one hand, it is a good thing to get the con into places it has never been. On another hand plenty of people predicted some issues like this happening.


Not sure if this makes it better or worse, but not only were they censoring based on what they thought might be a concern to Chinese authorities, they were really shit at it. Following this all over at BlueSky has been a trip…

Paul Weimar was deemed ‘ineligible’ primarily because he once took a trip to Tibet, so the administrators figured that might be a problem for China, so better not to include him. But… he went to Nepal. Not Tibet. But T. Kingfisher, who won the Best Novel Hugo, did go to Tibet, she had an extensive live blog on the experience.

(edit in case this isn’t clear: Neither, nor anyone, should have been deemed ineligible for these and all the other reasons, I just find it funny in the midst the ineptness of it)


Charlie Stross’s piece on WorldCon and the organisation of these big events is well worth the time:



Philip K Dick would have something to say about this.
And I would not be surprised if William Gibson does.



Works Suitable For Sino?


I have to wonder what McCarty was thinking by trying to go on the angry, accusatory, defense.

It’s not like there’s anything he’s going to say that is going to convince people that China isn’t letting statesec butt in to cultural matters; even they don’t try that(they will go for an “internal affairs”/“universalist conceptions of human rights are the true imperialism!” counter; but the fact that it’s a thing that they do is some combination of too blatant to be deniable and simply not something they regard as bad); and there’s no goddamn way he’s going to convince the sorts of rules-lawyers that WSFS membership has in stock that somehow their lying eyes are deceiving them about his esoteric true reading onf the organization’s constitution.

Was there nobody from PR or Legal who could give him some ‘sensitivity to local regulatory environment’ pablum to shamefacedly exude before slinking away?


The fact that it was self-censorship instead of active censorship from Chinese authorities makes it more infuriating. “Let’s just censor everything that might be offensive to Chinese authorities.”


Dave’s response is in perfect accord with the person I’ve known tangentially in Chicago fandom for decades. His usual response to criticism is belligerence.


The Zagreb, Yugoslavia bid in 1993 would have been an interesting time. A kinder, gentler, whoops civil war!



Then they should have given them what they voted for, “controversial” topics and all.

Man, how disappointing.


And plenty of things that weren’t: Hugo Awards Administrator Exposes Deliberate Censorship of R. F. Kuang’s ‘Babel’ and More

‘Babel’ is published in China, with the full blessing of the CCP. It’s not like they ran every work past a government censor, they just decided “eh, this is kind of political…”


I love the way Stross writes.

The important thing to note is that the “worldcon” is *not a permanent organization. It’s more like a virus that latches onto an SF convention, infects it with worldcon-itis, runs the Hugo awards and the WSFS business meeting, then selects a new convention to parasitize the year after next.


Sometimes people respond emotionally when they shouldn’t and otherwise know they shouldn’t. I worked for a company where a c-suite guy became interim CEO, he immediately went on Glassdoor to argue with reviews claiming they were liars, and was then removed from the company. He should not have done that. surely he knew better, got angry, and went on a tear. “Hot and cold thinking” perhaps? Seems likely in the case of the Hugos guy too.


If anyone wants a feel for the process:


but from my understanding it wasn’t Chin that did the censoring it was the administrators who preemptively censored it for China without being asked. Which is mind boggling.


I work in publishing and China is a huge pain in the ass. On one hand, it’s a huge market, on the other, censorship there is bizarre and arbitrary. Printing is cheap in China and a lot of our full-color books are printed there, but if they find the words “Tibet,” “Hong Kong,” “Dalai Llama” or others, they will ask us to edit, change, or remove the bit they don’t like. We refuse on principal, and send the job to a printer in Malaysia and pay a little more. Sometimes we send near-final drafts to be pre-screened by their government censors and we get the OK to set them up for printing in China, only to find 6 weeks later that someone else found something they don’t like, which plays havoc with our shipping and on-sale dates. Overall I’d say it was a dumb idea to have the awards ceremony for any branch of creative writing held there. They should have pulled out at the first sign of trouble.


I would rather see them make an effort to show up for SF/Fantasy fans in China while clearly and publicly refusing to disqualify any of the nominees. Make it clear where the problem is rather than quietly slinking away. Of course, pulling out would still be better than what they actually did.