So a while back, there was a proposal floating around to jigger with the fiction categories in the Hugo Awards. Specifically, the idea was to add a “best saga” category, while simultaneously dropping the category of “novelettes”.
Sounds reasonable, right? I mean sagas are super popular, and what the fuck even is a novelette, amirite?
Well, as N.K. Jemisin points out, what the fuck it is, is often a way for marginalized voices to start careers. In other words, it’s much easier for people who exist outside of the perceived SFF “orthodoxy”–that is, anyone who isn’t a straight, white, middle-class man–both to write shorter fiction, due to time constraints, and to get it published, since markets for shorter fiction tend to be more, say, adventurous than those for commercial novels.
Not only that, but the addition of the sagas category flips to the other side, in that it implicitly benefits authors with established careers, specifically the aforementioned straight, white, middle-class men.1
In other words: the format is political.
- Actually, this is an interesting assumption in itself, since there are a lot of, say, YA and UF/PR series that would qualify, almost all of which would not be written by men, if nothing else. [↩]