Monday, April 6, 2015

A Few Thoughts on the 2015 Hugo Nominations

There's a lot being said about the 2015 Hugo nominations, some people are ebulliant, some are convinced the world is going to go down in flames because the Hugos are being held hostage by a small and increasingly irrelevant band of ideologues. Drama queens, all of them. The thing is, this really only matters in the distorted fishbowl politics of SFWA and fandom, though it is reflective of a greater social paradigm.
The very term liberal means (among other things) "favoring or permitting freedom of action, especially with respect to matters of personal belief or expression" and this is why, on the national level, liberals suck at being disciplined and sharing a cohesive message, because they are decentralized and individualized. Authoritarian conservatives (and reactionaries), are not. They can follow orders, and get shit done, because they agree that the message is more important than the individual.
This is why a group of between 250 and 275 people was able to steamroll the nominations process when there were over 2000 ballots cast. They were organized and focused, and to them, their message was more important than the representatives they chose.
I've heard of one of the Sad Puppy nominees complaining that no one is congratulating him for his nomination on his Twitter, and my response is 'congratulations for what?' You're not the nominee, you're a representative of the Sad Puppy slate. Brad Torgerson may deserve congratulations. You? You're just a tool he's used to push his agenda, expect to be rewarded as such.
I'm worried by the voices I hear calling out for a retooling of the nomination process. I really am. I'm worried because I am a liberal. I want to look at the list of nominations and see a list of what our disparate voices feel are the best our genre produced this year. Is that what I got this year? No. Absolutely not. Anyone who can look me in the eye and tell me Vox Day is a better editor than Gardner Dozois, George RR Martin, Ellen Datlow, or any of the other brilliant anthologists that are working in the genre today is an idiot.
But if we retool the nomination process to make the Hugos a true 'people's choice award' (which we already have, it's called the Locus Awards) to diminish the impact the radicals can have, I worry that we will diminish the awards themselves.
On a related note, I'm surprised that no one yet has taken the con committee from Sasquan to task for their blatent voter disenfranchisement. When my paper ballot arrived days after voting had closed, I just shrugged it off and assumed it was delayed in the mail somehow. But this year only three paper ballots were submitted, which is over a 90% decrease over last years voting, which leads me to believe that the failure to mail out ballots was widespread, and everyone I talked to at Norwescon this last weekend confirmed my suspicions that no one I checked with received a paper ballot before the nomination period closed.
While the paper ballots may not have affected the final nominations in all categories, there are several categories where just a few votes may have made a difference. While I have reached out to the con, I haven't yet heard back from them
I also hope this motivates the majority of Worldcon members who didn't vote in this nominating processs to participate in the future. Had there been another 2,000 votes, then it's likely that the ballot would look very different. So talk to your friends who are Worldcon attendees, and let them know that there voices are heard. Even if you only read 10 books and 2 short stories last year, were any of those worthy of being nominated? Then nominate it! If you care about the results, then take part in the process, even if it's just reminding the voters to vote. While I know there are a lot of people that can't afford a supporting Worldcon membership, there are a lot of people who can. If you can, and care, then take the time to participate. Nominate books that you feel are truly worthy, so ideologically driven votes aren't the only votes that count.

That's my 2 cents anyway.

***Update: I just heard back form the Sasquan 'Pre-Convention Information Desk' Tom Veal about the ballots not going out in time.
 "There were reasons for the tardy mailing of Sasquan's Progress Report No. 3, but unfortunately not good reasons. The convention committee is extremely sorry for the delay.  Even though voting was available on-line (and the number of nominating ballots cast was an all-time record for the Hugo Awards), we realize that a number of members expected to receive timely ballots in the mail and were unaware of, or were unable to use, the electronic alternative.
We have taken steps to ensure that Progress Report No. 4, which will include the final Hugo ballot, will be mailed well before the voting deadline."

 Make of that what you will.

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