Hi y’all! Long time no see! Happy May Day! I hope everyone’s doing well, and enjoying our guests. We’ve got some incredible people lined up for the rest of the year, so be sure and stick around for more fun. If there’s anything you’d like to see here, be sure and let us know, and we’ll do our best to make it happen. I had intended to post today with an announcement about my new ebook, but it’s not quite ready, so you’ll have to wait a little longer. Sorry, is that cruel of me? *grin*
Anyway, ConCarolinas is coming up, and we’re very excited about it. Faith posted recently about our Magical Words seminars, and we wanted to make a couple of modifications to the rules of the Live Action Slush seminars we’ll be offering. The whole thing’s supposed to be anonymous (unless, during the seminar, you decide to “out” yourself) so please don’t give any pages to us prior to the panel. Instead, we’ll have someone assigned to collect them at the door so we never see them. Our silken-voiced readers will read each page aloud without telling us who wrote it, and when one of us hears something that would make him or her stop reading, that person will raise a hand. When all three of us have our hands up, the reader will stop, and we three will discuss the work, providing criticisms and suggestions. Everyone will (hopefully) learn from each piece of work. It’s going to be fun!
Okay, now on to my other thoughts. Lately there’s been an Internet kerfluffle. Actually I shouldn’t call it that, because using the word “kerfluffle” makes it sound like a silly argument that won’t make any difference to anyone in a week, and this is a bigger deal than that. The latest storm raging is over the release of the Hugo nominations.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, the Hugo Awards are a set of awards given annually for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year, including written and dramatic forms. The Hugo is a prestigious award, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wish I might someday be nominated. (If you’d like to see a list of past winners, please go here.)
The Hugos are awarded during WorldCon (the World Science Fiction Convention), and the attendees (and supporting members) of WorldCon are the people who do the voting. Which means that, for good or ill, the choice of Best Novel of the Year is in the hands of a fairly small group of people. This year, the Best Novel category had 1595 ballots turned in. Honestly, fewer than 2K people decided which five novels were fit to be called the best of the year.
Right now, the conflict is over who exactly made it onto the ballot, and how. In past years, the nominated novels have been more along the lines of hard SF or traditional fantasy, but this year, there’s an urban fantasy novel included. Some folks are angry about this, and have taken to the internet to voice their dissent. Not because urban fantasy is somehow “interloping” where it doesn’t belong, but because of the method the author used to achieve his nominations. The feeling is that the author somehow cheated by encouraging all his fans to purchase a $40 supporting WorldCon membership merely so they could nominate his book. And it worked. Not only did his book make the list, all the other books and stories he suggested also made the ballot. One writer whose story was recommended is a reactionary who’s burnt nearly all his bridges in SF/F by spewing vicious hate speech, someone that a great many people feel is undeserving of a handshake, much less an award. And yet, there he is, nominated for a Hugo even after all the ugliness. Is it fair? Personally, I’d say ‘not in a million years’, but it’s done, and the voters have to deal with it.
Whether the majority agree with the nomination ballot, the author in question didn’t technically do anything wrong. Lots of people ask their fans to nominate them every year – heck, if I’d known better back when I was eligible for the Campbell, I’d have driven you all completely crazy! It’s called campaigning. We see it happen once every four years when presidential election time rolls around. If it somehow comes out that the author did something unethical – paid for lots of fans’ memberships just so they’d vote for him, for example – that would be a more unpleasant and sticky question. Until there’s actual evidence to suggest such a thing, it’s all talk. So a book no one expected was nominated because a small group of people said it belonged there. Their reasons don’t really matter now. Right now, the question needs to move away from “How can we prove they cheated?” and focus on “Which work deserves the award?” Because whether or not you like the person, the award must be about the work. I hope that everyone involved in voting takes an open view toward all the works nominated, otherwise the award becomes pointless.
Maybe this will lead to a change in how the Hugos work. Maybe the options will open up to more commercially popular work without the need for so much campaigning. I would love to see people like D B Jackson or Faith Hunter (or maybe, someday, me!) make the ballot. It would rock my socks to see Magical Words get a nomination. I’m going to be watching how this plays out with great interest.