George RR Martin is in trouble all over again, and for once it’s not about finishing ‘Winds of Winter’ (although he’s quietly blown by his self-imposed release date).
And while fans are understandably upset with the extended delay, this time they’ve been let down by his out-of-touch and racist remarks made at the Hugo Awards, a prestigious annual awards ceremony in the world of science fiction and fantasy (SFF), hosted by the author himself in a pre-recorded virtual ceremony, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
During what should have been a celebration of a well-deserved and diverse group of authors and creators, viewers were disappointed when Martin repeatedly mispronounced names of the winners and made lengthy tributes to long-dead and problematic white authors.
The criticism becomes even more valid when it’s pointed out that all the nominees were asked to provide the correct pronunciations of their names before the ceremony, and when this is added to the fact that Martin had pre-recorded his Toastmaster bits, the slight is compounded.
Martin also repeatedly invoked John W Campbell, an American science fiction writer who died in 1971 and who had a Hugo Award named after him until 2019, when the title was changed to the Astounding Award after a scathing speech given by winner Jeannette Ng.
“John W Campbell, for whom this award was named, was a fascist,” Ng had said. “Through his editorial control of Astounding Science Fiction, he is responsible for setting a tone of science fiction that still haunts the genre to this day. Sterile. Male. White. Exalting in the ambitions of imperialists and colonisers, settlers and industrialists.”
When fans took to social media to point out his errors, instead of directly addressing the criticism, Martin posted on Twitter a not-so-vague quote from Voltaire in response, “We are all full of weakness and errors; let us mutually pardon each other our follies,” angering fans further.
“Repeatedly invoking the name of a racist every chance you had to clap back at the new guard who are rightfully critical of him is not an error. It’s a calculated decision. Refusing to pronounce the names of POC correctly in pre recorded segments is a decision,” wrote user @wittchiebunny.
Tyler Hayes (@the_real_tyler) wrote, “You may mean well, George. But. This is compounding the problem, not fixing it. Your behavior as shown last night reads as at best thoughtless cruelty and at worst a selfish attack on the nominees and a large, LARGE portion of the audience. You need to apologize yesterday.”
Spencer Stevenson (@Spencer070897) added, “I feel you need to apologize for your behavior at the Hugo’s. Mispronouncing names; not taking the time to get them right seems unprofessional . Bringing up Campbell was disrespectful especially with the award name change and Jeannette Ng taking a stand on that last year.”
For a full list of Hugo Award winners, click here.