The Hugos: why even bother?

This post started as a comment elsewhere but has changed a great deal to become this post. Additionally I felt I needed to write this post first, so that I could explain some of the analogies I might make.

Blackpool – a place where party conferences happen. Also Clara from Doctor Who is from Blackpool (as is Jenna Coleman).

In the light of recent controversy there are numerous proposals on voting strategies for the Hugo Awards, rules changes, ethical principles and debates on the nature of the awards themselves. This post is part of my thinking out loud on those issues.

The Hugo Awards are one of the most prestigious awards within science fiction and fantasy. An award of comparable reputation are the Nebula Awards, which are organized by the Science Fiction Writers of America organization. There is significant overlap between the two but they do have different approaches.

  • The Nebula Awards are decided by a jury – and can be seen as judgement of a work by peers of the author
  • The Hugo Awards are decied by a popular vote – and can be seen as support from fans

However calling the process for the Hugo Awards a popular vote is misleading. Yes, it is open for effectively anybody to vote who is willing to buy a supporting membership but, in effect, it is a vote of a particular kind of community that we could call the WorldCon community. That community I have compared in a previous post to being not unlike the activists who might be involved in a political party. They are a narrower group than just people who generally support, read or like science fiction and fantasy. In so far as they like the activists within a political party they act partly in terms of how they see the genre as whole. That doesn’t make them particularly wiser or more insightful or even less prone to short term thinking and/or factionalism just as party political activists don’t necessarily always work for the best interests of the party they support.

Continue reading “The Hugos: why even bother?”

A warning from the future

[In which our hero learns the future fate of the Sad Puppy campaign and discovers a list of the Puppy Slates of the future]

I had been sitting in the small library in the south wing of Felapton Hall, perusing the annals of the Felapton estate in my set of antique Kindles, when I was jarred from my studies by a sudden ache in my ankle. Such an ache could mean one of two things – either my gout had returned or there was a disturbance in the space-time continuum.

I jumped to my feet, which displaced Timothy the talking cat from my lap and sent him scurrying up the pile of dusty Kobo’s at my feet, where he perched complaining loudly about something called “Jade Helm”. As always I ignored both the cat and the pain in my ankle and strode purposely to the croquet-green. It has been my long experience that temporal occurrences are most apt to happen in the vicinity of sporting activities. It is for this reason that I had been dispatched to Australia only recently to ensure that a time-displaced troop of Varangian guard did not slaughter the Collingwood Australian-Rules Football team under a mistaken belief that they were the hereditary enemies of the Emperor of Byzantium.

Sure enough as I approached the exquisitely manicured turf of the croquet green, I could smell the heady scent of burnt grass and tachyons. A late 23rd century chronoPrius had manifested itself and all the visual evidence suggested that it had arrived without sufficient due care and attention to the vagaries of the space-time vortex.

The hatch cracked open and a chrononaut part-stepped and part collapsed out of the opening. [Timothy advises that I should say “a beautiful chronoatrix” so readers are not too alarmed when I reveal shortly that the chrononaut was a woman. Instead I’m placing this brief note here so that any sensitive minds can anticipate this revelation. Also she wasn’t that beautiful in the circumstances, having just crashed through the time-walls without an adequate temporal-paradox shield] Continue reading “A warning from the future”