I have withdrawn my story “Goodnight Stars” from consideration in this year’s Hugo Awards.
I want to make it clear I am not doing this lightly. I am not doing it because I
am ashamed. I am not doing it because I was pressured by anyone either way or on
any “side,” though many friends have made cogent arguments for both keeping my
nomination and sticking it out, as well as for retracting it and letting things proceed without me in the middle.
I am withdrawing because this has become about something very different than great science fiction. I find my story, and by extension myself, stuck in a game of political dodge ball, where I’m both a conscripted player and also a ball. (Wrap your head around that analogy, if you can, ha!) All joy that might have come from this nomination has been co-opted, ruined, or sapped away. This is not about celebrating good writing anymore, and I don’t want to be a part of what it has become.
I am not a ball. I do not want to be a player. This is not what my writing is about. This is not why I write. I believe in a compassionate, diverse, and inclusive world. I try to write my own take on human experiences and relationships, and present my fiction as entertainingly and honestly as I can.
I am proud of “Goodnight Stars.” I wrote a damn good story last year that a lot of people have enjoyed. I believe it could have maybe even won.
But it is not the last story I will write. It is not even the best story I will write. I have perhaps already written better stories this year. I will write better stories next year, and the year after, and for decades after that. I hope to be like Ray Bradbury and write every moment until I go gentle into that good night, pen in hand.
There will be other years and maybe other rockets. I don’t want to stand in a battlefield anymore. I don’t want to have to think over every tweet and retweet, every blog post, every word I say. I don’t want to cringe when I open my email. I don’t want to have to ask friends to google me and read things so that I can at least be aware of the stuff people might be saying in my name or against my name.
This is not why I write. This is not the kind of community I want to be a part of, nor the kind of award I want to win.
I am not your ball. My fiction is my message, not someone else’s, and I refuse to participate in a war I didn’t start. It has become clear to me that the only way to stay out of this is to pick up my ball and go home. So this year, I will not put on a princess gown sewn with d20s. I will not win a rocket. But I will be able to sleep and know that when I get up, there won’t be fires waiting for me.
There will only be my words. My stories to tell.
Because all I have ever wanted from being a writer is to write books so good that readers cannot set them down. And I’m going to go back to doing that now. Maybe someday I will get to sit in a pretty dress next to my mother and know that if I lose the rocket, it will be because someone wrote a story that resonated more than mine. To know that I will lose to a person and not a political fight. To sit there and know if I lose, no one will cheer. And if I win, no one will boo. Perhaps someday I can win this award for the right reasons and without all the pain.
Thank you to everyone who supported me. Who sent amazing messages of love, and empathy, and compassion. Thank you to everyone who read the story and nominated it because you felt it was worthy. Thank you to my editors, who have been nothing but amazing through the entire process of not only these last crazy weeks but also publication and all that entailed.
Thank you all for reading.