Hugo Awards, Pt. 2 – Thursday Thoughts #4

Thursday ThoughtsOn 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.

What’s in a Ballot

During the nomination period, I wrote about the Hugo Awards here in this space. I explained what they are, why I’m interested in them, and some of the drama surrounding the awards that hit a head last year. While many of us wanted to believe we could be spared some of the same issues this year, I know I knew it was unlikely to happen.

The finalists were announced in April. While the ballot doesn’t look as bad as last year (there aren’t nearly as many categories that were swept by the slate), there are some really troubling nominations. In the Best Related Work category, for example, not only are there several works not deserving of award consideration, but some of them are outright attacks on people.

In some categories, the slate included some deserving works. I’ll be honest that I didn’t look at the slate until after the finalists were announced. And there were maybe three nominations I made that were also on the ballot. So it’s not all bad, right?

Don’t Be Fooled

Let’s face it: the real reasons that the Rapid Puppies slate exists are that Vox Day feels he is deserving of an Hugo Award and it bothers him that so many people he despises (John Scalzi, women in general, etc.) get the recognition he wants. Yes, he will say his crusade is to stop people from being nominated because of who they are and instead focus on the merit of their work. And yet, his name shows up several times on the ballot he created. And most of the works are published by Castalia House, where he is both a writer and an editor. So even if we accept that his crusade is about “merit,” it’s very clear that to him “merit” means “me and my people.”

No Award?

I expect that we will see No Award at least a couple of times this year. I don’t think we’ll reach (or beat) the record of 5 non-awards in a single ceremony. But what is truly frustrating is that this crusade doesn’t do anything to help the awards. The people who support the slate say they’re trying to fix a broken system. But what it does is not only rob some deserving individuals of recognition on the ballot, it also robs fandom and the World Science Fiction Society from celebrating great works together. None of us want to see a category with No Award. That’s no fun. But the members have shown that they will use it when they feel nothing on the ballot is worthy of consideration. Or when they are forced to consider works that are, quite frankly, abhorrent.

Hope for the Future

I mentioned in my last post on this topic that some rule changes were put forward at last year’s WorldCon. Those changes were debated, refined, and approved. But any changes to the constitution must be ratified by a second convention business meeting. Those items will be on this year’s agenda, and I am excited to say I will be there in the room advocating for much-needed reform.

What I like best about the reforms suggested, though, is that they aren’t necessarily focused on just minimizing the impact of a slate. What they actually do is give each individual member as much of a voice in the final ballot as possible, not just favoring the most popular works. The fact that it also makes it far less likely for a slate to sweep a ballot (unless other members also feel those works are deserving), is just an added benefit.

What’s Next?

Well, voting is open and I’ve been catching up on some of the things on the ballot that I haven’t seen/heard/read. Voting closes at the end of July and we’ll find out the results in August. (And again, I’m very excited to be attending my first ceremony in person at MidAmericon II in Kansas City.)

You’ll probably see some reviews in the coming weeks for some of the books that are finalists that I’m still catching up on. A few have already been here on the blog. And maybe we’ll have a Thursday Thoughts roundup with my final ballot once I have it all sorted and submitted. 🙂