The Cosmic Codex
The Cosmic Codex
The fairy tale, the epic, the quest, and the cozy fantasy

The fairy tale, the epic, the quest, and the cozy fantasy

Hugo Award winners in 2023
“A long leap through the night” by Brian S. Pauls, 2023; Digital illustration created using Midjourney
My latest short story An Unexpected Grace appears in Boundary Shock Quarterly 24: Science Fiction Holidays.
Still coming to terms with her decisions during a recent assignment, Corporal Siwela takes a leave-of-absence. Perhaps a holiday visit to her home community will help get her head straight. But the trip doesn’t go as planned. Marooned and wounded in the Martian outback, running out of air, Siwela won’t survive without aid. This wasn’t how she planned to spend Christmas.

Princess Serina, the last survivor of House Starfire, refuses to be crowned empress until she’s wiped out the rebels who killed her family. Only then will she prove to the bickering nobility, and herself, that she is worthy of the crown.

Just when victory seems near, mysterious messages lead her to believe the rebels have infiltrated the Core’s military. Her investigations reveal a new threat, one even more insidious than the assassination of the emperor sixteen years before. Will she unmask the conspiracy that threatens to destroy everything she sacrificed to protect? Or will she become its next victim?

On the Outward Edge is the first book in a series of five novellas capturing the critical moments of the fourth era, the Core Galactic Empire, in the Myriadu universe

Club Codex is reading and discussing the Otherwise Award-winning novel “Sorrowland” by Rivers Solomon through November 25. Please join us!

by Brian Scott Pauls

At the 11th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) in 1953, the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) first presented the Science Fiction Achievement Award.

In honor of editor Hugo Gernsback, fans often referred to the prize as the “Hugo Award.”

Gernsback created the contemporary science fiction publishing genre when he launched his magazine Amazing Stories in 1926. A leading proponent of “the project of science fiction”, he gave writers a mission. Science fiction writer Jo Walton has described this as “…educating people to live in the future…”

Like many of us, Gernsback had deep flaws. He paid writers poorly or not at all. Golden Age sf great Jack Williamson enlisted the help of a lawyer to collect what the editor owed him.

The first Hugos encompassed seven categories:

  • Best Novel

  • Best Professional Magazine

  • Best Cover Artist

  • Best Interior Illustrator

  • Excellence in Fact Articles

  • Best New SF Author or Artist

  • #1 Fan Personality

The organizers of the 12th World Science Fiction Convention in 1954 chose not to present the Hugos, but subsequent Worldcons have awarded them each year since. The name of the award officially changed from the “Science Fiction Achievement Award” to the “Hugo Award” in 1992.

Thanks for reading The Cosmic Codex! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.

The Hugo Awards recognize “the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year.”

Organizers of the annual Worldcon decide the categories for which they will award Hugos. As a result, the categories have varied over the years.

Members of each Worldcon vote on who will receive the Hugos for that year. The Hugo Awards use a ranked-choice voting system.

China hosted Chengdu Worldcon 2023, the 81st World Science Fiction Convention, from October 18-22. The convention awarded the Hugos on the evening of October 21.

Here are the winners in the categories of Best Novel, Best Series, the Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book, and the Astounding Award for Best New Writer:

Best Novel

Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher

Author and illustrator Ursula Vernon writes children’s books under her given name and books for adults under the pen name T. Kingfisher. Growing up in Oregon and Arizona, she studied anthropology before following in parental footsteps to become an artist, subsequently growing into an author as well.

Vernon has previously won the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards, among several others.

The Macmillan website says the following about her novel:

This isn't the kind of fairy tale where the princess marries a prince.

It's the one where she kills him.

Thank you for reading The Cosmic Codex. This post is public so feel free to share it.


Marra — a shy, convent-raised, third-born daughter — is relieved not to be married off for the sake of her parents’ throne. Her older sister wasn’t so fortunate though, and her royal husband is as abusive as he is powerful. From the safety of the convent, Marra wonders who will come to her sister’s rescue and put a stop to this. But after years of watching their families and kingdoms pretend all is well, Marra realizes if any hero is coming, it will have to be Marra herself.

If Marra can complete three impossible tasks, a witch will grant her the tools she needs. But, as is the way in stories of princes and the impossible, these tasks are only the beginning of Marra’s strange and enchanting journey to save her sister and topple a throne.”

Best Series

Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Arthur C. Clarke Award winner Adrian Tchaikovsky hails from Lincolnshire in Great Britain. Studying zoology and psychology, he served as a legal executive before taking up writing full time.

Tchaikovsky holds an honorary Doctorate of the Arts from the University of Lincoln.

Amazon features the following description of the first novel in the Children of Time series:

“Who will inherit this new Earth?

The last remnants of the human race left a dying Earth, desperate to find a new home among the stars. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, they discover the greatest treasure of the past age—a world terraformed and prepared for human life.

Share The Cosmic Codex

But all is not right in this new Eden. In the long years since the planet was abandoned, the work of its architects has borne disastrous fruit. The planet is not waiting for them, pristine and unoccupied. New masters have turned it from a refuge into mankind's worst nightmare.

Now two civilizations are on a collision course, both testing the boundaries of what they will do to survive. As the fate of humanity hangs in the balance, who are the true heirs of this new Earth?”

Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book

Akata Woman by Nnedi Okorafor

The 76th World Science Fiction Convention (2018) in San Jose, California first awarded the WSFS Award for Best Young Adult Book. The 77th World Science Fiction Convention (2019) in Dublin, Ireland renamed it the “Lodestar Award.” The term “lodestar” refers to "a star that guides or leads, especially in navigation, where it is the sole reliable source of light—the star that leads those in uncharted waters to safety”.

As with the Hugos, the current Worldcon presents the Lodestar Award each year, in this case to “a book published for young adult readers in the field of science fiction or fantasy.”

Born in Cincinnati but raised in Chicago, Nnedi Okorafor is a first generation Nigerian-American writer of sf, fantasy and comic books. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Michigan State University, and both a master’s and a doctorate in English from the University of Illinois in Chicago. She is a Clarion Writers Workshop graduate.

Okorafor has previously won the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards, besides many others.

Akata Woman is the last novel in Okorafor’s Akata trilogy.

The Penguin Random House website summarizes the book:

“From the moment Sunny Nwazue discovered she had mystical energy flowing in her blood, she sought to understand and control her powers. Throughout her adventures in Akata Witch and Akata Warrior, she had to navigate the balance between nearly everything in her life—America and Nigeria, the “normal” world and the one infused with juju, human and spirit, good daughter and powerful Leopard Person.

Now, those hard lessons and abilities are put to the test in a quest so dangerous and fantastical, it would be madness to go . . . but it may destroy the world if she does not. With the help of her friends, Sunny embarks on a mission to find a precious object hidden deep in an otherworldly realm. Defeating the guardians of the prize will take more from Sunny than she has to give, and triumph will mean she will be forever changed.”

Astounding Award for Best New Writer

Travis Baldree

Previously known as the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, the Astounding Award honors “the best new science fiction or fantasy writer whose first work of science fiction or fantasy was published in a professional publication in the previous two years.”

The award is named for influential sf magazine Astounding Science Fiction, still published as Analog Science Fiction & Fact. Dell Magazines, the current publisher of Analog, sponsors the Astounding Award each year.

The award originally carried the name of John W. Campbell Jr., Astounding/Analog’s editor from 1937 until his death in 1973. In 2019, award winner Jeanette Ng used her acceptance speech to “…[criticize] Campbell's politics and [call] him a fascist…” In response, Analog renamed the prize to the Astounding Award.

Travis Baldree spent his childhood in Eden, Texas. He’s worked as a video game designer and audiobook narrator.

Last year Baldree released Legends & Lattes, which he describes as a “low stakes, cozy fantasy novel.” This year he followed it with the prequel Bookshops & Bonedust.

Please share your thoughts about this article!

Leave a comment

1 Comment