Request for the Hugo Awards to include translators, interior artists, colorists, letterers, and cover artists in the annual long list tabulation

On Labor Day of 2022, Chicon released the annual Hugo Awards long list tabulation. The long list is a detailed document that shows how votes were calculated to determine the cutoffs for being a finalist and the award winners.

While shortlist entries have fully credited citations, long list entries are presented in an abbreviated format and not checked for eligibility.

The document is meant to provide transparency for the Hugo voting process. It also has a secondary effect of driving discovery of new releases. The Hugo Awards are some of the most prestigious and high-profile awards in speculative fiction. Diabolical Plots publishes an annual unofficial Long List Anthology that gathers many of the works into one volume.

I had three works on the Hugo long list this year, but I was only credited on one of them (my novella In the Watchful City). The two graphic novels that I translated were credited only to the writer of the comic script and the writer of the original work from which the graphic novels are adapted, but who did not, as far as I know, actually write the adaptation.

My works were not the only translated works in the long list. I included a full list of translators to the best of my knowledge and search abilities in my original Twitter thread, which is archived at the end of this post.

Translation in anglophone literary spheres is an undervalued art form. So while I was unsurprised by translators not being credited, it was still a major disappointment to see my labor erased on Labor Day of all days. I made a thread on Twitter saying so and to request that translators be credited in the long list.

The prose categories of the Hugo Awards usually get the most attention. Those categories tend to be less collaborative, which means while the abbreviated byline format may work for prose, it ends up erasing labor and creating ambiguity in more collaborative categories like Graphic Novels & Comics.

So I also requested for interior artists, colorists, cover artists, and letterers to be credited along with translators. A comics team doesn’t consist just of the writer—the finished product is a combination of all these forms of labor.

Crediting these various team members is crucial if the long list is meant to be an avenue for discovery. It’s possible that the same work has been translated multiple times, differentiated not by author but by translator; and comics frequently have variant covers that can be a significant factor in whether people pick up the work.

Proper attribution allows people to find the exact version of a work that has been recognized by the community.

Furthermore, when it comes to translation, it’s crucial for speculative fiction as an industry to understand its own trends and demographics. If the Hugo Awards are supposed to be global in scope and hosted by “World”cons, then translation must be acknowledged and forefronted as an important avenue by which we invite people into genre and celebrate them.

If we don’t know how many works are in translation in the long list, we can’t accurately evaluate the reach of the awards, who’s being recognized, and who’s being left out.

I will update this post as soon as there is a public response from the Hugo Awards team. Update October 13, 2022: The Chicon Hugo Awards team has updated the tabulation to credit additional contributors as requested (available here: PDF) and has issued a comment on Twitter.

For posterity, here is my original Twitter thread with minor formatting changes:

Thread posted at 5:16 AM on September 5, 2022

I have three works on the hugo long list this year 🥲 #InTheWatchfulCity, and I was the translator on the graphic novels for THE WANDERING EARTH and THE VILLAGE TEACHER, which of course I am not credited for on the hugo ballot—no translators were credited

the other translated works on the hugo long list are:

“Flower of the Other Shore” by A Que trans.

“Tombs of the Universe” by Han Song trans. @xuetingni (first published in SINOPTICON)

“Yang Feng Presents: The Algorithm of Everything” by Dhew trans. Roy Gilham (first published GALAXY’S EDGE 53)

“Yang Feng Presents: The Hand of God” by Wang Yuan trans. Roy Gilham (first published GALAXY’S EDGE 54)

OKSI by Mari Ahokoivu trans. Silja-Maaria Aronpuro (Levine Querido, translated from Finnish; all others are from Chinese)

SHANG-CHI credits include translator and dialect coach Nova Zheng

no works in translation were on the shortlist

SPECULATIVE FICTION IN TRANSLATION, a blog by @Rcordas, was longlisted; aside from that, as far as I can tell, no professionals who primarily or prominently translate were nominated

corrections welcome, I gotta get going for work so I can’t dig deeper

cc @diabolicalplots, fyi please be sure translators are included if there’s going to be another long list volume that includes these works! thanks for your work

oh also, the hugo long list does not accurately credit the artist for these two graphic novels either; although they’re adapted from work by Liu Cixin, the correct bylines as formatted Writer & Artist (which of course doesn’t include colorists or letterers) are:

Cixin Liu’s THE WANDERING EARTH by Christophe Bec trans. S. Qiouyi Lu & Stefano Raffaele
Cixin Liu’s THE VILLAGE TEACHER by Zhang Xiaoyu trans. S. Qiouyi Lu

it’s important to credit translators here not just for the basic courtesy of respecting labor, but so we can see as an industry how much of work is in translation, which is a crucial metric for understanding scope and inclusion

since this was work for hire (standard for longform translation & comics), none of the contributors are on the copyright page aside from cover art: Nicolas Vallet, cover design: Daniel Brount & Kai Texel, ed. consultant: Weihua Liu, but that’s how the bylines are on the cover

Copyright page for THE WANDERING EARTH
Copyright page for The Village Teacher

.@chicagoworldcon I would appreciate corrections to include translators cited upthread and to update the bylines for THE WANDERING EARTH & THE VILLAGE TEACHER on this file, thank you:

and in general, some translators may not want to be credited prominently or at all, but the choice should be credit by default with an opt-out, rather than people like me having to do the work to piece together credits to opt-in with

and just so it’s on the main thread for visibility, @diabolicalplots has been doing an excellent job of ensuring translators get proper credits in the LONG LIST series

Quote tweet:

Diabolical Plots: Ignyte Award Winner! @diabolicalplots

Replying to @sqiouyilu

We have included translators since the first volume came out, I am not aware of having missed any. Their names are on the cover, ToC, copyright page, byline, bio, and royalties. 🙂

6:38 AM · Sep 5, 2022

honestly, it’s real shit to credit comics & graphic novels as just “Writer & Artist,” as if colorists don’t do similar levels of erased and unappreciated work as translators, so if I’m going to have the byline updated, I’m going to retract this [my previous request] and issue a correction:

Cixin Liu’s THE WANDERING EARTH by Christophe Bec trans. S. Qiouyi Lu & Steffano Raffaele, Marcelo Maiolo, and Nicholas Vallet
Cixin Liu’s THE VILLAGE TEACHER by Zhang Xiaoyu trans. S. Qiouyi Lu & Zhang Xiaoyu, Pan Zhiming, and Nicholas Vallet

Post photo by Shane Aldendorff from Pexels