Malaysia-born author Zen Cho wins Hugo Awards for sci-fi novelette

The award is arguably the most prestigious prize in the science fiction genre.

The 33-year-old Cho received the award at a ceremony during the 77th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) in Dublin, Ireland (All photos:

The 2019 Hugo Awards, which honours the best science fiction and fantasy works, were held on Aug 18 at the 77th Dublin World Science Fiction Convention. Once again, women have swept the Hugos, including Malaysia-born author, Zen Cho. Her novelette titled If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again, was published at the B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog on November last year.

The novelette tells the story of a hapless Imugi (a lesser dragon) determined to attain the form of a full-fledged dragon and gain entry to the gates of heaven. Things did not go well, until it meets a girl along the way. A snippet of the book reads:

If you drop a stone, it will fall to the ground—it will not fly up to the sky. If you try to become a dragon before your thousandth birthday, you will fall flat on your face, and all the other spirits of the five elements will laugh at you.


'If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again' is the winner of the 2019 Hugo Award for Best Novelette

The award is given to the best story between 7,500 and 17,500 words published in the prior calendar year. Other notable wins include Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Calculating Stars (the first in her Lady Astronaut series) for Best Novel; Martha Wells’ Artifical Condition for Best Novella; and Alix E. Harrow’s A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies for Best Short Story.

The Malaysian author has beat out five reputable contenders in her category, namely Tina Connolly who was nominated for the prestigious Nebula Award for Best Novel, and Naomi Kritzer from Uncanny Magazine.

Cho, who now resides and works as a lawyer in the UK, has also produced two novels, Sorcerer to the Crown and The True Queen, both published by Ace (US) and Macmillan (the UK and Commonwealth). In Malaysia, Cho has also authored a short story collection called Spirits Abroad and edited an anthology named Cyberpunk: Malaysia, published by Buki Fixi.

First awarded in 1953, the Hugo Awards were named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories.


Read Cho’s award-winning story here.

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