Worldcon Intellectual Property Censures Chengdu Worldcon Hugo Administrators

On January 20, the Chengdu Worldcon team released the final statistics for their administration of the 2023 Hugo Awards. The details raised concern in the SFF community, as several nominations, such as R.F. Kuang’s Babel in the Best Novel category and Xiran Jay Zhao in the Astounding Award category, were listed as “not eligible” without explanation. Paul Weimer was also listed as “not eligible” in the Fan Writer category for no clear reason, and episode six of the Netflix adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman was also disqualified even though it should have been eligible under existing rules. 

Responses from the Chengdu team did not clear up these decisions in the days since, resulting in speculation about the exclusions. 

“I can only guess to why I was excluded, but it probably has something to do with my critical comments about the Chinese government in the past,” Zhao told The Guardian. “You would think that as a big, powerful country, China would be graceful about criticisms, but they in fact take it very personally, and doubly so when it’s from Chinese diaspora.”

Dave McCarty, who headed the Hugo awards process for Chengdu, said on Facebook that “nobody has ordered me to do anything… There was no communication between the Hugo administration team and the Chinese government in any official manner.”

The Hugo awards, like the annual Worldcon event, are administered by a different host organization each year. Worldcon Intellectual Property (WIP), a non-profit corporation that holds the service marks for the World Science Fiction Society (whose members attend Worldcon and take part in the Hugo nomination and award selection process), was not directly involved in the Chengdu Hugo Awards process. WIP issued a statement on January 30 , however, announcing that McCarty, who was also director of WIP, has resigned along with the WIP Board Chair Kevin Standlee. Donald Eastlake has become the new Chair of the WIP Board. 

The WIP also formally censured McCarty “for his public comments that have led to harm of the goodwill and value of our marks and for actions of the Hugo Administration Committee of the Chengdu Worldcon that he presided over” and Standlee for “public comments that mistakenly led people to believe that we are not servicing our marks.”

Chen Shi and Ben Yalow were also censured for “actions of the Hugo Administration Committee of the Chengdu Worldcon” that they presided over. icon-paragraph-end

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