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…