Don’t Rehash an Argument Just Because

File 770 has a post by Chris Barkley that is a proprosal for the next Worldcon business meeting:

The gist of it is this: Worldcon has decided to have a Young Adult award for SFF books modeled on the Campbell Award – that is it will be an award run with the Hugo Awards and using the same processes but be technically not-a-Hugo. Being a not-a-Hugo avoids questions of multiple elgibility so that in theory a book could be a finalist or even win both the Hugo for best novel and the YA Award. Seems to me like a smart idea.

A secondary question was what to call the award. Lot of possibilities. Andre Norton already been used but Heinlein is famous for his ‘juveniles’, Madeleine L’Engle was an inspiration for many, and Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea novels were an entry point for many young readers into SF and Fantasy.

But naming it after a person has issues:

  • Their reputation changes over time and not just that they become ‘problematic’.
  • It can narrow the perception of the award – particularly with the hazy nature of Young Adult. Picking an author famed for books for younger readers may skew perception of the award in that direction (at least initially).
  • Specifically for an award for books for youngr people, there’s an issue with using a less contemporary writer as the flagship of the award.

So instead a name was picked that was not an author name: Lodestar. You can read the discussion from the business meeting here on Alex Acks’s blog

Seems like a decent name to me and in the end the reputation of the name will be driven by the award rather than vice-versa. Could the name be better? Probably but the pursuit of the perfect name for a product is a classic way of sending a project into development hell (I carry the scars). It is a classic case of where good-enough is perfect rather than vice-versa. Finding consensus on a name can be nigh on impossible and eventually consume more labour than any potential gain from finding a better name. It is a classic daft move to get embroiled in finding a GOOD name rtaher than avoiding a BAD name.

So kudos to all the people who did all that work last time and got a name that has no obvious faults. Hoorah!

And then…well the proposal linked to above is to re-prosecute the business of the name for the YA award. The co-signatories have a great alternative name but…they can’t tell people what it is yet. Not only that they can’t tell people WHY they can’t tell people what it is yet.

“We will also embargo the name until the start of the Preliminary Session.

There is very good reason why the name will not be revealed at this time and that explanation will also be given at that time.”


It would have to be an extraordinarily good explanation. I’m guessing the name will be Ursula Le Guin but that’s still a bad idea. Aside from anything else her fiction for children and YA is just one part of her writing legacy and she isn’t particularly emblematic of Young Adult writers or the genre.