Hugo Awards – Thursday Thoughts #1

Thursday Thoughts

On Thursdays, I take a break from reviewing books to share my thoughts on all things books, fandom, and random. All opinions are my own. Yours may differ. Feel free to respectfully disagree and discuss in the comments.

The Hugo Awards

Those who’ve followed the blog for a year or longer know this. I am a Hugo Awards voter, and I get excited about the awards season. That means I do discuss them on the blog. And since we’re currently in the nomination period, why not start tis series with the Hugos as a topic?

What are the Hugo Awards?

The Hugo Awards are a fan-driven honor for science fiction creators. They honor both fans and professionals in several categories. The World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) presents the Hugos. All WSFS members may nominate and vote. Membership is available to each years Worldcon, at both attending and supporting rates.

Members spend the start of each year looking at the previous year in science fiction and fantasy. And many members take the time to recommend nominations to others. Usually nominations close in March, with the finalists announced in April. Voters then spend the next several months checking out any finalists they missed before. A committee collects and tallies the votes. The awards ceremony takes place at Worldcon with a livestream available online.

Wasn’t there some major drama last year?

There is drama surrounding the Hugos every year. I think most awards have this to some extent. With the ability to vote being so open, many people feel more ownership of the awards. And when the awards don’t turn out the way they want, some people feel particularly scorned.

Some vocal fans haven’t liked the ballot’s more recent increased diversity (creators and stories). They’ve organized a group to stuff the nominating process with a specific slate. Last year this led to many of those nominees becoming finalists. And because many Hugo voters did not appreciate this, they made use of a seldom-used option: No Award. If voters feel all or some finalists aren’t worthy of the award, they can include “No Award” on their ballot. Since the rule started in 1959 through 2014, No Award was only voted 5 times. Last year that number doubled as it was voted in 5 categories in a single year.

There’s much more to the whole story. It generated a lot of thoughtful commentary (including a series of posts by George R. R. Martin). If you wish to go down that rabbit hole, it’s not difficult to find it. And I want to stop there to focus on this year’s awards.

What’s the scoop for this year?

There were proposals made last year to change the nominating process. Amending the WSFS constitution needs approval two years in a row, so nothing’s changed yet.

We’re currently in this year’s nominating period (through the end of March). I’m already close to having my ballot completed, and when it’s done I will share it here. Every novel and novella on my ballot gets a review here. Some shorter fiction doesn’t, because I find reviewing short stories to be a challenge. The categories like editor don’t lend themselves to review. And I don’t review movies or tv shows here. So anything that doesn’t have a review will include a brief statement of nomination.

If you’re a fan of science fiction and fantasy, I encourage you to consider thinking about the Hugos. The deadline to be a member to nominate this year passed. But the Hugos happen every year, so you haven’t missed out forever.

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