Newkirk: For you, are those people something that bothers you as you build a profile? Are people louder now that The Fifth Season is getting so much love?
Jemisin: They may be, but I’m not hearing them as much. I seem to have passed some kind of threshold, and maybe it’s something as simple as I now have so many positive messages coming at me that the negatives are sort of drowned out. As a side note, the so-called boogeyman of science-fiction, the white supremacist asshat who started the Rabid Puppies, Vox Day, apparently posted something about me a few days ago and I just didn’t care. There was a whole to-do between me and him a few years back where he ended up getting booted out of SWFA [Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America] because of some stuff he said about me, and I just didn’t care. It was a watershed moment at that point but now it’s just sort of, “Oh, it’s him again. He must be needing to get some new readers or trying to raise his profile again. Or something.” I didn’t look at it. No one bothered to read it and dissect it and send me anything about it. No one cared.
I think that’s sort of indicative of what’s happening. To some degree, as I move outside of the exclusive genre audience, the exclusive genre issues don’t bother me as much. Maybe that’s just speculation. I’m reaching a point where I’m still hearing some of it, but it’s just not as loud, or maybe it’s just focusing on different points. I don’t know. It’s still there. It’ll be there. I think that the Hugo ceremony at this upcoming WorldCon is going to be another not-as-seminal moment as last year when the Puppies tried a takeover that was somewhat more successful at the nominating stage and where they got smacked down roundly at the actual voting stage with no award after no award. I don’t think that’s going to happen this year, and I don’t think it matters as much. But who knows? I’ll guess we’ll see. If I win I’ll be happy. If I don’t win, I’ll be happy. I’ll continue to write.
Newkirk: I talked a lot with Ken Liu last year a lot when it happened [his translation of Cixin Liu’s The Three Body Problem won the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Novel], and he said all that stuff sort of loses its power over time, because it’s reactionary. It’s something where the facts and your audience numbers don’t really lie.
Jemisin: Reactionary movements can’t sustain themselves unless they find something new to catch and burn on. And when they keep using the same tactics over and over again, I don’t know that that’s sustainable. Or they’ll burn themselves out when they reach the point of, I guess, Donald Trumpism, for lack of a better description. They reach some point where it’s no longer a reactionary movement, some demagogue tries to take the lead and make it all about them. And at that point it becomes clear that it’s just some kind of petty narcissistic thing, and I think that’s what kills it. But we’ll see, both at the Hugos level and in the polls in November.