hugo awards

/Tag: hugo awards


From slashmarks’s response to my Hugos post:

I can’t help but think some of the issue here is that for a lot, maybe even the majority of the younger fandom crowd, forty dollars is a non trivial expense for something that probably doesn’t matter all that much to them. Like, “it’s actually not worth spending that much money for something this irrelevant,” non trivial.

This is a good point, but the even gooderer news is that the small existing voting/nominating pool the Hugos are used to means it… actually doesn’t matter all that much.

Yes, $40 is a lot to a lot of fandom. But there’s plenty that fans can do for free as well, and 99.99% of that is making/reblogging posts talking about, a) the Hugos, and, b) things that are eligible for the Hugos. So next time nomination season comes around, even if you can’t afford to nominate/vote, even just a I-can’t-do-this-but-you-might-be-able-to signal boost amongst your fandom means more than you might think.

This post is sitting just under 300 notes right now, most of which have been in support for the idea of Tumblr fandom getting more involved. I’d like to point out that this is about ten percent of the average Hugo awards voting base. Ten percent! Think about that for a moment. Even if only a fraction of fans who’ve thus far liked/reblogged this post participate in the 2016 Hugos, that’s enough to get a nominee on the ballot in some categories (yes, really). And those categories? They’re going to be the ones of most immediate personal interest to Tumblr fans, I think, like fanwriter/-artist.

I’ve been following the reblogs to this post, and I am seeing a lot of “I didn’t know this was a thing but now I do I’m totally going to participate!”, which is awesome! People are proposing nominees for their fav fanwriters, and getting excited by the realisation that, yeah, you really can nominate the AO3 if you want to. And I’m sure there’s a lot more potential nominees out there I don’t know about, because I’m not you, but who would totally deserve to be on the ballot.

So, yanno. Talk about them! Even if you can’t vote for them yourself, a few reblogs really do go a long way.

2018-09-05T13:34:32+10:0020th May, 2015|Tags: fandom, hugo awards, sff|

Industry recognition.

The [Eisner Awards] are in actuallity what the Hugo awards are often assumed to be – an industry award. The main purpose of the Eisner’s is to serve the comic book industry in the ways such awards do, primarily by raising the profile of the industry’s best work and expanding the audience for the medium overall. On a much larger scale, the Oscars have been fulfilling this role for the film industry for decades. So why doesn’t the SF & Fantasy field have a proper industry award?

The main reason is that the Hugos, and alongside them the Nebulas, come very close to being an industry award without quite fulfilling that role. The Hugos could do, and many people seem to be working to get them there, but they won’t achieve that without becoming much more international and overhauling their voting system. The Nebulas are voted for by industry professionals, of a kind, in the membership of the Science Fiction Writers of America. But the SFWAs membership does’t actually include the publishing professionals it would need to be an effective “academy” in the style of the Academy Awards.

–Damien Walter on awards.

There’s also the:

  • Locus Awards, run by the (US-based) magazine of the same name
  • BSFA Awards for British science fiction, which is often won by US writers
  • World Fantasy Awards which, in the grand tradition of WorldCon, is another US-based award
  • Ditmar Award and the Aurealis Award, for Australian speculative fiction
  • Chronos Award, for Victorian ((It’s a state in Australia.)) speculative fiction

… and so on and so forth. Like, ad infinitum, because this is just a brief list of stuff I’ve heard mentioned lately for one reason or another. There are a jillion others out there.

One of the things that, I think, it’s important to note is that almost all of these awards are coupled tightly to either a convention (Ditmars, Chronos, Hugos), a magazine (Aurealis, Locus), or a writer’s guild (Nebulas, BSFA). Without putting too fine a point on it, the reason there are so many, I think, is because they’re a form of in-group back-patting. Popularity awards for people who are known inside the clubhouse. That’s why they often seem to be kinda… divorced from SFF’s current commercial landscape, which is somewhat more globalised.1

I also think this explains why the US-based award trio–the Hugos, Locuses, and Nebulas–are considered the “premiere” awards; because the US is the biggest English-language SFF market, and thus has the biggest convention scene, and thus the most potential voters.

That’s it. That’s the trick.

I’m sure the US’s proximity to the also-English-speaking Canadian scene doesn’t hurt, either. If you crunch the numbers, the US-Canadian population is about 350 million; an entire order of magnitude above the population of the whole of the UK (64m), and Australia-New Zealand (27m).

These are not geographically close regions, meaning it takes effort (read: an 8-22 hour plane flight) for a writer/con-goer from one region to participate in the industry scene of another. That matters, I think, and it matters in a way that tends to be invisible to Americans, because they’re not usually the ones who need to travel.

There’s a lot of talk lately about “reforming the Hugos” and whatnot, but increasingly I think what’s needed doesn’t actually involve the Hugo Awards at all. The Hugos are what they are: gold stars for the US convention scene.2 There’s nothing wrong with that. What I do somewhat object to, in the same way I object to naming a US-based convention “WorldCon”, is pretending that the Hugos represent global SFF fandom.

  1. Somewhat. For a given, largely language-based, value of “globalised”, anyway. []
  2. And a very particular part of that scene, too, ref. the no-love-lost between “SFF fans” and “media fans”. []
2016-05-14T11:01:56+10:0014th May, 2015|Tags: fandom, hugo awards, sff|

Noah Ward.

I got my voter number and PIN for the 2015 Hugos last night, so yay for being able to go vote.

Still no voter packets,1 so I’ve held off ranking in most categories, but–after spending a few posts dissing the tech behind the voting–I’m actually pretty impressed by the way they’ve done the ballot, which essentially remains open and editable until the cutoff date.

Having all the categories stacked on top of each other like that, though… Wow. Yeah. Looks like it’s gonna be a good year for Noah Ward, that’s all I’m saying.

  1. And some contention as to whether we will, in fact, even get voter packets []
2015-04-30T07:59:32+10:0030th April, 2015|Tags: fandom, hugo awards, sff|

You keep using that word…

Interesting article by Barth Anderson looking at what really constitutes “conservative SFF“. He alludes to the fact, quite rightly I think, that “conservative” (use of scare quotes will be evident in a minute) SFF isn’t a dying breed; it’s just so ubiquitous we don’t even notice it as “conservative” any more. He gives the example of The Walking Dead and, in the comments, adds “superhero films” to the roster.

But–and it’s the kind of but that would appeal to Sir Mix-a-Lot–in saying that, both Anderson and myself are making one of the biggest classification errors I’ve seen in the Puppies debate and broader culture wars.

That is, the “conservatism” espoused by Christian theocrats like Vox Day and/or libertarians like Larry Correia isn’t actually, well. Conservative. And that’s true whether you’re talking the specifics of SFF and the Hugos or in a broader cultural sense. People like Day and Correia and their ilk are better understood as neo-reactionaries, with the difference being that while conservatives are, well, conservative in their political opinions–i.e. they oppose radical change–neo-reactionaries are very radical, they just tend to be some flavour of fascist authoritarian radical as opposed to the Marxist radicals of the hard Left.

The problem is that, in 2015, actual small-c conservatives are almost impossible to find, for tedious historical reasons I won’t go into. Most everyone who calls themselves a “conservative” nowadays is, in pure PolSci terms, some brand of reactionary. Australians, you may have noticed this schism recently with the bunch of old guard conservatives like Malcolm Fraser coming out to denounce their modern, reactionary successors. It’s not that Fraser suddenly became a radical progressive in his old age. Fraser is as Fraser was. It’s the politics that shifted around him.

Anderson kind of semi-senses this distinction when he says things like:

we’ve reached a moment in history I never thought I’d see, with classic hallmarks of social conservativism arguably falling out of favor with the bulk of Americans: Namely, shunning gay marriage and homosexuals from society; criminalizing marijuana; keeping health-care privatized; having national discussions about racism, homophobia, and police brutality, that I never thought I’d see in the national spotlight .

Let’s be clear; this isn’t a mark of the growth of progressivism. It’s a mark of the slow shifting of the small-c conservative middle. Civil rights movements have been making noise about racist police for (at least) sixty years. The fight to decriminalise marijuana has been around since (again, at least) the 60s. Gay rights since (ditto) the 80s. And every single industrialised nation outside the U.S. has managed to have universal, state-sponsored healthcare1 for the last century without the world descending into death-panel induced dystopia.

In other words, after nearly one hundred years of accumulated evidence it’s ideologically a-okay for someone who considers themselves a conservative to think that maybe universal healthcare is worth a second look. Conservatism doesn’t mean the automatic rejection of all social, political, and economic change. It just means being slow and cautious about it.

In theory, anyway. Like I said, the label “conservative” has been hijacked as part of the culture wars, and actually finding people who fit in the textbook-defined box can be tricky.

Except, to come back to the point, in the context of the Hugo Awards. You remember George R.R. Martin’s series of posts on the Hugos? Well, those are classically small-c conservative, in that he seems more interested in preserving the legitimacy of the institution of the Hugos/WorldCon than he is in advancing a radical socially progressive agenda. He’s not the only one espousing this position; the anti-Puppy faction is, I think, made up of more “true SFF conservatives” than it is actual progressive radicals, and the way to tell the difference is to tease out why any one individual is pissed off at what the Puppies did.

In other words: People who are mainly pissed at the Puppies for being bigoted pieces of human shit? Progressives (a.k.a. Social Justice Warriors). People who are more outraged that the Puppies disrespected the traditions of the Hugo awards? Small-c conservatives, who we nowadays also tend to call small-l liberals.

Yes, classical liberalism–of the “all men are created equal” type–is a historically conservative position, given that it’s been around for two hundred fucking years and its predecessors are the basis of every single one of our modern democratic institutions, from the courts to the parliament. This is why neo-reactionaries hate democracy and love theocratic fascism and/or oligarchy delete as appropriate.

If you’ve just read all that, first of all, good on you. And second of all, yes. Yes, indeed this means I think Barth Anderson’s breakdown of The Walking Dead as being a conservative show is wrong in the sense that I think it’s a neo-reactionary show, not “conservative” per se. (Which also accounts for the commenter who takes umbrage at Anderson’s classification of “agriculture and motherhood” as things conservatives are opposed to. Conservatives, no. Neo-reactionaries? Definitely yes.)

But, then again, the words are used so interchangeably nowadays that maybe it doesn’t matter.

  1. So much so that the ability to adopt universal healthcare is actually considered one of the milestones to show a country has moved from “developing” to “developed” status. []
2017-11-16T11:17:03+10:0029th April, 2015|Tags: fandom, hugo awards, politics, sff|

Buying prestige.

[I]f a few disgruntled misogynist closet cases compensating for their small guns by writing about big guns can rig the Hugo, then any organization with sufficient pull and money can rig the Hugo. Such as publishers. At the point where the Hugo becomes a case of who has the most money to rig the elections, it becomes worthless.

So it appears the “Sad Puppies” may win the battle, and lose the war. It may be that science fiction only has one prestige award in the future — the Nebula Award. SFWA membership requirements make it impossible for the “Sad Puppies” or anybody else to rig Nebula awards. In the end, what makes libraries (who account for most publisher profits) buy Hugo Award winners is the notion that winning a Hugo Award means it’s popular and high quality. Once it’s demonstrated that winning a Hugo Award means only that the publisher spent more money to rig the election this year than other publishers did, the Hugo becomes meaningless to libraries — and to anybody else, for that matter.

–Badtux the Snarky Penguin on summoning a bigger fish.

I think I’ve mentioned something similar to this before, so I don’t disagree with the sentiment. But I’d just like to take a moment to pause and reflect on the problems in the perception that the only remaining “prestige” award, outside of the Hugos, is the trade award for the U.S. SFF writer’s guild.

Fuck you if you don’t write in the (SFWA-approved way in the) U.S., I guess.1

  1. Disclaimer: yes, this means me. You don’t need to be a U.S. citizen to be a SFWA member, but my publisher is still blackballed, despite the fact they changed their contract offerings to meet SFWA requirements. Go figure, I guess. []
2015-04-29T08:01:59+10:0029th April, 2015|Tags: fandom, hugo awards, publishing, sff|

Buying in.

For many fans in the US, $40 is an expenditure that requires some thought. Spending $40 out of the household budget just to have a say about Best Book of the Year may be frivolous. It may reduce funds available for sports, a field trip or some other enrichment for your children. It’s not a slam-dunk.

And for many other fans, still in the US, it is out of reach. It isn’t a question of diverting the monthly Family Movie Day budget for one month. It is not even a discussion. Many of these people read, review and write SF; they blog, and some of them teach at the college level. They are shut out of the “democratic” Hugo selection process by economics.

Now let’s consider fans in Indonesia, Namibia, Lithuania. Can most of them afford $40 US?

If everyone who wanted to vote had voted, the Rabid Puppy slate might not have found such traction, even if they had a  newly-recruited voting bloc. If the cost of a supporting membership were $6, I wonder what would have happened. Just generally, beyond this year and next,I wonder what would happen. Would we start seeing SF best-sellers from Kenya and Estonia on the short list? Would we start getting more works in translation? In other words, would more nominators and voters introduce us to more good books (which, after all, is ultimately the purpose)?

–Marion on money.

For the record, I think the answer is “no” to the “would a lower voting entry fee get more international works on the ballot?” question, for a variety of reasons of which the money itself is just a small component.

But I do think lowering the cost of supporting WorldCon memberships–which, let’s be realistic here, are really mainly “Hugo voting rights memberships”–would open up the Hugos to pools of voters it’s traditionally underserved. To whit: young people. Teenagers. Still English-speaking, predominantly Western teenagers, true. But teens nonetheless. And teens, particularly teen girls, are the cultural tastemakers. Just ask Marvel.

Of course, this is also the main reason I think a lowering of the membership cost won’t happen. Because WorldCon is nothing if not conservative, and, like, ew. Teen girl cooties. Gross. If we let them into the Old Boy’s Club they might vote for, like, Twilight or whatever it is Girls These Days are into, amirite boys?

And we couldn’t possibly have that…

2015-04-30T07:46:35+10:0029th April, 2015|Tags: fandom, hugo awards, sff|

Do you read SFF? Do you not live in the US?

Then here. Take this survey to tell everyone1 Your Thoughts On The Hugo Awards.

I would especially suggest this to anyone who is a fan of SFF–not necessarily books, but comics and games and other media, too–doesn’t live in the U.S., and doesn’t give a crap about the Hugos. Part of the problem with the Hugos is the increasingly disproportionate relationship between their brand prestige and their irrelevance to the sections of fandom that actually matter in 2015. Getting data on that schism is the first step to addressing it, and to reforming the awards into something modern fandom can be proud of once again.

  1. a.k.a. Shaun Duke of Skiffy and Fanty… and goddamn it took me a really long time to realise that name wasn’t a bad sexual/toilet humor joke. []
2016-11-17T20:15:52+10:0029th April, 2015|Tags: fandom, hugo awards, sff|

Reading the Hugo nominees so you don’t have to.

Over at the perhaps aptly named, Liz Barr reads the 2015 Hugo-nominated short stories.

For the record, the voting page for the Hugos is apparently live and operational, though there’ve been no emails sent out the that effect, nor anything so silly as the voter packet. You remember what I was saying the other day about how disorganised the tech behind WorldCon is? Well, yeah. That.

2018-05-22T08:56:03+10:0029th April, 2015|Tags: fandom, hugo awards, sff|


Larry Correia was up for a Campbell Award for best new writer in 2011. He didn’t get it and — per him — [had] a bad time at Worldcon. Brad Torgerson was up for a Campbell and a Hugo in 2012 and got neither. But you are only eligible for a Campbell for two years after you first publish. It looks as if both these guys had fast and very promising starts to their careers. (A Campbell is not chopped liver. Being up for a Hugo a year or two after you first publish is not so bad. In addition, Correia was on the New York Times bestseller list in 2011.) This is Puppy # 3 this year, which means Puppy #1 was in 2013. Okay, two years after not getting the Campbell, Correia began an attack on the Hugos, because he felt the selection process was unfair. I don’t know if Torgerson joined Puppydom in its first year or a year later. In either case, he was campaigning against the Hugo a year or two after he was first up for the Campbell and Hugo. This seems to show a huge impatience. It wasn’t as if these guys watched the Hugo process for ten or twenty years and decided it was unfair. They decided this almost as soon as they were published.

I have been a Hugo nominee once, 25 years after I was first published. When I got the Tiptree Award, almost 20 years after I was first published, people assumed it was for my first novel. No, I’d had three novels previously published, but they more or less sank like stones. It was frustrating and angering and depressing to work for 20 years before I got much attention. Did I think the award system was fixed? Not that I can remember. I thought life was unfair. Looking back, I think I didn’t write enough and my writing wasn’t a kind that got quick attention. Point is, Correia and Torgerson came into the field, were noticed at once, and decided this notice was not enough, because they didn’t win the Campbell and (in Torgerson’s case) the Hugo. The award system must be crooked.

–Eleanor Arnason on patience.

Well, geeze. I wasn’t nominated for a Hugo or a Campbell in 2015, either, so obviously this is because of a Great White Male Conspiracy designed to keep books with queer brown protagonists from winni–

Oh. Wait.


2018-06-26T13:21:37+10:0028th April, 2015|Tags: fandom, hugo awards, sff|

Art and politics.

Some people believe that awards should be wholly apolitical, as if their selection of What Is Best could be as antiseptic and sterile as measuring the temperature of a cup of water. This is nonsense. Merely by being about “the best”, all awards split people into two factions at least – those who do and do not agree with the selections. Two factions trying to get a human organization to choose the thing they want it to choose – that’s the definition of politics. Whether it’s an industry award, a public vote, or five elites in a room reading everything and having to choose one, the selection process generates a statement, and the creation of that statement will necessarily be political in some fashion.

–Robert Jackson Bennett on politics.

2015-04-15T08:32:07+10:0022nd April, 2015|Tags: books, culture, hugo awards, politics|