A work by a Malaysian author has won a Hugo Award, widely considered to be the premier award for science fiction.

If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again, by Zen Cho, received the Hugo Award for Best Novelette at a ceremony during the 77th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) in Dublin, Ireland, on Aug 18.

This award is given to the best science fiction or fantasy story of between 7,500 and 17,500 words published in the prior calendar year.

Also nominated in this category were works by Tina Connolly, Daryl Gregory, Brooke Bolander, Naomi Kritzer and Simone Heller.

“I’m thrilled. It was unexpected – I was pleased to be nominated because I was attending Worldcon this year anyway, and I was keen to go to the Hugo Losers party hosted each year by George R.R. Martin. But I had my bets about who would win and it wasn’t me!” Cho said, when contacted via Facebook.

According to Cho, the story was written after she had struggled with a very challenging writing project that had left her feeling like a failure.

“It’s about how life is about more than success and failure, but also how it’s important that you don’t give up on the things you really want. It feels like a reward from the universe to have the story recognised in this way – a balm for many years of effort and rejection!” Cho said.

Born and raised in Selangor, Cho, 33, is currently based in Britain, where she works as a lawyer.

She is the author of two novels, Sorcerer To The Crown (2015) and its sequel, The True Queen (2019). She edited the anthology Cyberpunk Malaysia (2015).

Her first published work, the anthology Spirits Abroad, was a joint winner of the IAFA William L. Crawford Fantasy Award in 2015 (with Stephanie Feldman). Sorcerer To The Crown also won the 2016 British Fantasy Award for Best Newcomer.

The Hugo Awards are a set of literary awards voted on by members of the current World Science Fiction Convention and presented annually by the World Science Fiction Society for the best science fiction or fantasy works of the previous year.

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

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