My #HugoAwards Final Ballot (To Be Submitted in the Future)

Over the weekend, I explained why I intended to use No Award and Blank Spacing as a response to the Sad Puppies / Rabid Puppies campaign to manipulate and take over the Hugo Awards.  Since I am fundamentally opposed to slate-based voting measures, I can't in good conscience support works which appear on this year's ballot as a result of the SP/RP slates.  And so I won't.

Others, of course, may have different views.  TheG intends to give most things on the ballot a fair shake under the guise that voting No Award would unfairly punish those that are on the ballot but are otherwise not really part of the SP/RP world.  He admits, though, that this is hardly a strong response.  Where we do agree, however, is that there are some problematic cases here.  Some folks are on the ballot who didn't know they were included in the SP/RP slate and would have declined if they had known.  However, I'm of the mindset that support for anything on the ballot may be perceived as tacit support for the entire campaign -- a point on which Abigail Nussbaum and I agree.

With that said, voting will be rather easy for me, since the SP/RP folks have taken almost every slot on this year's ballot.  Here's what my ballot will look like when I'm allowed to submit it (feel free to lob your disagreements or what have you in the comments):
Best Novel
  • Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
  • The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
  • The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
  • No Award
Best Novella
  • No Award
Best Novelette
  • The Day The World Turned Upside Down by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Lightspeed Magazine, April 2014)
Best Short Story
  • No Award
Best Related Work
  • No Award
Best Graphic Story
  • Ms. Marvel Vol. 1
  • Saga Vol. 3
  • Sex Criminals Vol. 1
  • Rat Queens Vol. 1
  • No Award
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
  • Interstellar
  • Captain America:  The Winter Soldier
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • The Lego Movie
  • No Award
Note:  I'm going to make an exception for the long/short form media categories because it's unlikely the works listed wouldn't have made it anyway.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
  • Game of Thrones:  "The Mountain and the Viper"
  • Orphan Black:  "By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried"
  • No Award
Note:  I haven't yet watched the others yet, so I may include them in the end.  The Doctor Who piece is unlikely to make it because I've completely bounced off the show.

Best Editor, Short Form
  • No Award
Best Editor, Long Form
  • No Award
Best Professional Artist
  • Julie Dillon
  • No Award
Best Semiprozine
  • Strange Horizons
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies
  • Lightspeed
  • No Award
Best Fanzine
  • Journey Planet
  • No Award
Best Fancast
  • Galactic Suburbia
  • Tea and Jeopardy
  • No Award
Best Fan Writer
  • No Award
Best Fan Artist
  • Ninna Aalto
  • Brad W. Foster
  • Elizabeth Leggett
  • Spring Schoenhuth
  • Steve Stiles
John W. Campbell Award (It's a Fucking Hugo SHUT UP)
  • Wesley Chu
  • No Award
I strongly encourage you to use "No Award" if you are opposed to ballot stuffing and the blatant politicization of the Hugos, as has clearly happened this year.  Leave everything off the ballot that was on the SP slate.  Send a message.  Gaming the Hugos will not be tolerated.

“No Award” and “Blank Spacing” the #HugoAwards — The Only Response I Can Make to What is to Come

The Hugo Award ballot has been announced, and if you've been paying attention to Twitter, it's certainly controversial.  Not controversial because a novel everybody loved didn't make it.  Not controversial because a novel a whole lot of people didn't love did make it.  Controversial because some people have taken it upon themselves to game the system in order to create and relish in political chaos.

That last sentence would certainly sound melodramatic if not for the fact that the proponents of a certain ballot-to-be-copied hadn't already publicly stated that one of their guiding purposes for last year's rendition of this political fiasco was as follows:
"We got in [7 or 8] Hugo nominees [out of 10 or 11 that we pushed]...and ah man, all hell broke loose.  It was the end of the world.  So we had a lot of fun with that.  We made our point.  I said that if people who are not politically acceptable to these clicks are nominated for an award, the other side will have a come apart...and then, they pretty much did exactly what I said in a very public manner.  And we had fun with it."
In short:  they sought to create chaos and unrest in order to make a political point.  And when they succeeded, they relished in it.  Perhaps this is all facetious dribbling, but it does illustrate a clear contradiction:  this whole thing has never been about the quality of the work.  If it were, the intent would not be so blatantly political and so blatantly at odds with the spirit of the awards.  That any of these folks can utter something like the above in one breath and claim to respect the Hugo voter and the Hugo nomination process in another is a supreme sort of cognitive dissonance.  That some involved in this campaign can also claim that the act is not capital-P political is like courting madness with Cthulu.

As a result, the ballot has been flooded by Sad Puppies.

If this whole thing had begun simply as people sharing their love of X, I would not have to write this post.  I would not have to think of my ballot as a political tool, either.  I could look at what was there and make a judgment about the works, not the intent behind their inclusion.  Voting is already political enough, even in something as seemingly innocuous as the Hugo Awards.  I don't appreciate being put into a position where "intent" actually matters, since the only thing that should matter is the work.

But that's not how this began.  It was and remains a political campaign to game the system for personal and political gain.  It's not the same as Wheel of Time fans realizing they can all nominate their favorite fantasy series and then doing so.  It's not the same as fans who love X nominating X.  It's people with a political ax to grind taking advantage of that system to make a point.  This action shifts the voting process from small-p political, whereby one's everyday politics organically produces certain taste values or perspectives, to cap-P Political, whereby voting itself is treated as a political act separate from the preservation of small-P political interests.  That's the difference between "I love this thing because it's about the kind of stuff I enjoy" and "I'm nominating this thing to make a point to people with whom I disagree."

I take the Hugo Awards seriously as an award and as a process, and so I can't offer my support for any campaign of this type, whether it comes from liberals, conservatives, anarchists, socialists, feminists, capitalists, etc.  I don't care about the particulars of the politics.  I do not believe the Hugos should be a battleground for sf/f's infighting.  For that reason, I believe that if your intent is to use the Hugos to make a political point first and foremost, then I am obligated and justified to use my ballot to make a clear statement about the works which will be nominated as a result.  In this respect, I view the Hugos in much the same way as Abi Sutherland:
My Hugo nominations and votes are reactions to that broadening-out of my mental universe. As such, they’re intimately, intensely personal. And that’s part of the visceral reaction that some fans are having to the Sad Puppies’ slate: it looks like the institutionalization of a private, particular process in the service of an external goal. It comes across as a coarsening and a standardizing of something that should be fine-grained, unpredictable, and unique to each person participating. It seems like denial of variety and spontaneity, like choreographed sex.
As such, I suspect I will leave a good number of items off of my ballot in protest.  Since the Hugo Awards use a preferential voting system, any item which appears on your ballot will receive a vote of some kind when the ballots are counted.  Putting No Award as the last item on your ranked list means anything left off the ballot doesn't get any "points."  This is not preferable, since the "No Award" should be used to say "I don't actually think this is good enough."  Last year, I mostly used the "No Award" for its intended purpose; in fact, some of the works on last year's ballot from people who I'm sure are part of the "evil liberal conspiracy to destroy science fiction" didn't make it far on my ballot because I just didn't enjoy them.  Because that's how I normally vote:  based on my subjective sense of the quality of the work, which is, to varying degrees, influenced by my small-P political values.

This year, however, it is clear that there is no reasonable way to treat the ballot as a reflection of what people loved in the sf/f field.  It is a manipulated ballot.  A broken ballot.  And I suspect that it will result in a lot of bad blood within sf/f for years to come.  Nobody should relish in this projected future; unfortunately, I suspect a few might.

None of this is preferable.  I don't want to do any of this.  There are people who are on the slate who I actually like as people (and think are decent writes, too).  But I don't feel as if I have any other reasonable choice.  In my mind, preserving the Hugos as a worthwhile award means preserving its spirit.  Bloc-voting, etc. does not serve that interest regardless of its origins.

So that's how I intend to proceed from this point on.  If your intent is to manipulate the ballot for political gain, I will "blank space" the ballot in response.

Nominate what you love.  Leave your political agendas at the door.  That is all.

My Complete 2015 Hugo Awards Nominations Ballot (Finished on 3/10/15)

It's that time again.  Hugo Awards time.  Since the nomination period closes on March 10th, 2015, I figure it's time to start sharing my ballot with the world.

Note:  this list is extremely incomplete and will be periodically updated as I find things to add to unfilled categories.  Categories are also subject to change.  If you have suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments (seriously; I'm very scatterbrained at the moment, so I'm missing all kinds of things).

Here goes:

Best Novel (Just Let Me Nominate 12 Novels...)

  • City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
  • Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
  • Memory of Water by Emmi Itaranta
  • Breach Zone by Myke Cole
  • The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley

Best Novella

  • Scale Bright by Benjanun Sriduangkaew (Immersion Press)
  • Grand Jeté (The Great Leap) by Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Press)
  • Where the Trains Turn by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen (Tor.com)
  • The Mothers of Voorhisville by Mary Rickert (Tor.com)
  • Hath No Fury by Kat Howard (Subterranean Press)

Best Novelette

  • "From the Nothing, With Love" by Project Itoh (Phantasm Japan)
  • "The End of the End of Everything" by Dale Bailey (Tor.com)
  • "Among the Thorns" by Veronica Schanoes (Tor.com)
  • "Reborn" by Ken Liu (Tor.com)
  • "The Bonedrake's Penance" by Yoon Ha Lee (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
    • Under consideration:
      • "Three Partitions" by Bogi Takács (Giganotosaurus)

Best Short Story

  • "A Whisper in the Weld" by Alix E. Harrow (Shimmerzine)
  • "Autodidact" by Benjanun Sriduangkaew (Clarkesworld)
  • "A Stretch of Highway Two Lanes Wide" by Sarah Pinsker (F&SF)
  • "The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family" by Usman T. Malik (Qualia Nous)
  • "Makeisha in Time" by Rachael K. Jones (Crossed Genres)
    • Under consideration:  
      • "Never the Same" by Polenth Blake (Strange Horizons)
      • "Resurrection Points" by Usman T. Malik (Strange Horizons)

Best Related Work

  • Jodorovsky's Dune (dir. Frank Pavich)
  • Special Needs in Strange Worlds (SF Signal; ed. Sarah Chorn)
  • Speculative Fiction 2013 (Ana Grilo and Thea James)
  • Rocket Talk (Justin Landon; Tor.com)

Best Graphic Story

  • Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal (G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona)
  • The Wake (Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy)
  • Saga Vol. 3 (Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples)
  • Saga Vol. 4 (Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples)
  • Uncanny X-Men: The Good, the Bad, the Inhuman (Brian Michael Bendis, Chris Bachalo, and Kristafer Anka)

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)

  • Interstellar (dir. Christopher Nolan)
  • Snowpiercer (dir. Bong Joon-ho)
  • Edge of Tomorrow (dir. Doug Liman)
  • Big Hero 6 (dirs. Don Hall and Chris Williams)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (dir. James Gunn)
    • Reconsidering:  Captain America:  The Winter Soldier (dirs. Anthony and Joe Russo)

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)

  • "Tempest Fugit" from Sleepy Hollow (Season One)(written by Mark Goffman; dir. Paul Edwards)
  • "Turn, Turn, Turn" from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Season One)(written by Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen; dir. Vincent Misiano)
  • "The Watchers on the Wall" from Game of Thrones (Season Four)(written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss; dir. Neil Marshall)
  • "The Children" from Game of Thrones (Season Four)(written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss; dir. Alex Graves)
  • "The Last Stand" from Legend of Korra (Season Four)(written by Michael Dante Dimartino; dir. Melchior Zwyer)

Best Editor (Long Form)

  • Anne Perry (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • Jenni Hill (Orbit UK)
  • Lee Harris (Angry Robot Books)
  • Amanda Rutter (Strange Chemistry and Angry Robot Books)
  • Julian Pavia (Crown/Broadway)

Best Editor (Short Form)

  • Neil Clarke (Clarkesworld)
  • Andy Cox (Interzone)
  • Julia Rios (Strange Horizons and Kaleidoscope)
  • Alisa Krasnostein (Kaleidoscope)
  • Ellen Datlow (Tor.com)

Best Professional Artist

Best Semiprozine

  • The Book Smugglers (Ana Grilo and Thea James)
  • Interzone (ed. Andy Cox)
  • Strange Horizons (ed. by a legion)
  • Giganotosaurus (ed. Rashida J. Smith)
  • Crossed Genres (eds. Bart R. Leib, Kay T. Holt, and Kelly Jennings)

Best Fanzine

  • A Dribble of Ink (Aidan Moher)
  • Nerds of a Feather, Flock Together (TheG and Vance Kotlra)
  • Bookworm Blues (Sarah Chorn)
  • Ecdysis (Jonathan Crowe)
  • Lady Business (Renay, Ana, and Jodie)
    • Under Consideration:  SFF Mistressworks (Ian Sales)

Best Fancast

  • Doorway to the Hidden World (Jeffrey Pelton, who is totally not Kevin Lux)
  • The Incomparable (Jason Snell)
  • The Book Was Better (???)
  • The Writer and the Critic (Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond)

Best Fan Writer

  • Sarah Chorn
  • Paul Weimer
  • Foz Meadows
  • Abigail Nussbaum
  • Natalie Luhrs

Best Fan Artist

The John W. Campbell
(YES IT IS A FUCKING HUGO SHUT UP) Award

  • S.L. Huang (author of Zero Sum Game)
  • Benjanun Sriduangkaew (author of Scale Bright)
  • Usman Malik (author of "Resurrection Points")
  • Brian McClellan (author of the Powder Mage Trilogy)
  • Michael J. Martinez (author of The Enceladus Crisis)
---------------------------------

Disclaimer (because we need these now, given the current Hugo Awards climate):  
This list reflects what I think are worthy works.  It is not intended for any sort of logrolling.  It is not my effort to tell anyone "this is what you should vote for."  Vote for whatever the hell you want.  My only hope with this list is that it introduces some folks to things they might otherwise have missed (or that it will reveal gaps in my reading/viewing that need filling).

Hugo Award Reading: Suggest Shorts/Novelettes/Novellas (Final Open Call)

The title says it all.  I'm working on my nomination ballot for the Hugo Awards, and I need more suggestions for the shorter-than-a-novel categories so I can get a proper survey.  If you have a suggestion, please leave it in the magic comment box (links to online stories are appreciated).

By the way, I had nearly 1,000 pages of reading last year thanks to everyone's suggestions.  It was totally worth it.

Alright, off to work!

On the Hugo Awards “Best Fancast” Category: Eligibility, Vote Value, and the Unlikelihood of Change

Recently, I had a Twitter discussion* with Nerds of a Feather about the "Best Fancast" category for the Hugos.**  Briefly, Nerds' Hugo Nominations Draft Ballot contained several podcasts which I had thought weren't eligible because of their association with a pro site (Tor.com).  This discussion continued today with Justin Landon's comments about nominations, which I'll discuss farther down on the page.  First, some factual bits and pieces:

The Hugo Award categories page lists the following definition for Fancast:  "Awarded for any non-professional audio- or video-casting with at least four (4) episodes that had at least one (1) episode released in the previous calendar year."  Most podcasts would be eligible for this category if not for the word "non-professional."  According to the Hugo rules,

[the] definition of what is a “professional” publication is somewhat technical. A professional publication either (1) provided at least a quarter the income of any one person or, (2) was owned or published by any entity which provided at least a quarter the income of any of its staff and/or owner.
Basically, this means that any podcast hosted by a professional publisher or a professional website is considered a "pro publication" even if the individual creating that podcast does not individually qualify in either category.  Tor.com podcasts, in other words, appear to be ineligible.  A lot of podcasts, in fact, are out, since they use sponsors that pay upfront or are funded by donations that go to pay staff, etc.

There's a reason for this, of course.  The fan categories, as archaic as they might seem, are designed to preserve the space that separates strictly "fan" activities from the professional (i.e., paid work) activities on the other side.  In principle, that's fine, but in practice, it's questionable.  While fans are right to be concerned about the "invasion" of their space by professionals, the fancast category is already one where that is true anyway.  Professionals are producing "fancasts."  And they are winning awards (or not, as the case may be).  So the rules don't actually prevent this, but they do prevent the "mega podcasts" (The Nerdist, etc.) from dipping into the fan well.  And that sounds nice, except the writing of the rules also means legitimately "fannish" efforts are ignored simply because they are associated with non-fan entities.  Tor.com podcasts are, I'd argue, fan endeavors, but they appear to be out of the running simply because Tor.com is a professional market.  Other fannish podcasts may be excluded for similar reasons.  This is almost like "guilt by association," and it's that unintentional thematic which rubs me -- and others, I suspect -- a little raw.

But the rules are as they are.  Their intent may be noble and their practice seriously flawed, but they will still affect the makeup of the upcoming final ballot anyway.  This leads me to the next part:

Change:  A Beast That Bites Way Too Much
Nerds and I had a long discussion about the need to correct the absurdity of the categories in the Hugos.  I noted that we tried talking about this in 2013, but to little effect.  The way the Hugos function on a "legislative" level are such that change is almost impossible, or just downright ugly.  And you're unlikely to make headway on creating a Pro and Fan Podcast category given that so many people in the Hugo voting pool literally want the Fancast category to die (or because getting involved requires an extraordinary amount of effort and patience, which most of us probably don't have a lot of, to be honest).

Yes, the Hugos need to be changed.  They need better categories, updated language, and more inclusion.  But to get there requires a lot of effort that I suspect most fans won't put in, not because they don't care about their favorite whatever, but because they'll just go elsewhere when they realize how much easier it is to celebrate their favorite whatever in a space where their opinions aren't routinely rejected.  The people who want change tend to be from that younger generation or outside of traditional fandom, and short of the fluke that was LonCon3, they're just not going to Worldcon or giving as many shits about the Hugos as those of us who have something invested in it (myself:  a podcast).  Exceptions, of course, exist.

That creates a lot of tension.  I spoke with someone at a con last year who lamented the disdain members of the older generation(s) have received from the younger generation -- in general, undeserved.  The notion that the older generation(s) should get out of dodge and make room for new ideas came up a number of times.  I mentioned that the coin works the opposite way, too, a fact that becomes apparent when one looks at the 2013 Hugo Awards fiasco.  But the tension that exists between these generations has produced a massive divide in which two fandoms with a lot to offer one another are frequently found doing the mystical game of avoidance (intentionally or otherwise).  I noted as much at LonCon3 during a panel on conventions, because it seemed to me that older fandom were just not as engaged in the same spaces as younger fandom, sometimes because the two had decided they didn't get along and shouldn't bother.

This is a critical mistake for the sf/f community, and it will have serious impacts on how the Hugos and any other traditional sf/f space develops over time.  One cannot create respect for a tradition on the basis of having been static for so long; that creates resentment, not love.  And in a rapidly evolving geek culture, it's so much easier to discard those traditions for other spaces, ones where a newer fandom can get what it wants without compromise.  Hopefully, we can see the potential for a cycle here.

Your Vote Matters:  Eligibility and Vote Value
While I wish more people of the newer generations of fandom were interested in the management of the Hugos, I think it's unlikely they will be so any time soon.  What we have, then, is a vote.  A simple, straightforward vote.  Oh, who am I kidding.  Your vote is nothing but complicated!

In a Twitter conversation with Justin Landon, he noted that while Rocket Talk (hosted at Tor.com) is technically ineligible for the Fancast category, telling people how to vote was outside of his "rights" as a member of the community.  I took that to mean something similar to the arguments the community had at the end of 2013, in which much debate and general bafoonery was had over this post at Strange Horizons:  in brief, authors who appear in the comments on fan blogs have the effect of stifling conversation and making fans feel incredibly uncomfortable, especially if the author's purpose is to correct or reject a criticism of their work (see Justin's take here).  This issue was coupled with a related concern:  the possibility of wasting a vote on a work which cannot win in a particular category (a point on which Neil Clarke and I agree:  it's a serious issue!).  Justin disagreed with the latter point because the Hugos have included seemingly ineligible works before.  Fair enough.

While I recognize and respect the concern about invading fan spaces, I don't think any invasion is possible (or, at least, the invasion is forgivable) if all that is being offered is a correction about eligibility.  Since the rules for the Hugos are as widely known as the molecular makeup of aspirin, it's not unreasonable to assume that a lot of ineligible works get nominated every year.  While there's value in the notion that voting for something regardless of eligibility shows that thing a certain kind of "love" -- which is essentially the point of the Hugos anyway -- there's also value in the assertion that voting for an ineligible work is essentially a wasted vote.

Except in extreme circumstances, votes for ineligible works are generally not counted unless that work is eligible in another category (this appears to have been the solution in past years for handling votes for narrative-oriented television shows like Game of Thrones).  In essence, you're casting a vote that might make you feel good, but will amount to little else.  Additionally, by voting for an ineligible work, you are denying a vote for another work which you may very well have liked, but which got bumped out because work X was slightly more favored.  In my case, whittling some categories down to five works is quite difficult.  My "Best Novels" list has one clear winner, but the other four options are a mixed bag.  As such, I cannot afford to use one of my five nominations for a work which isn't even eligible, since it means another worthy work won't get recognized at all.

None of this is a suggestion that anyone has to go about things in any particular way.  Rather, I would hope that voters would seriously consider the eligibility of the thing they are nominating before putting it on the list.  Justin and I may disagree here, but he can do as he likes as much as I can do what I like (well, unless what we like to do is eat human beings, which is a rumor for one of us).  Personally, I think creators should do their best to inform their fans about their eligibility.

I also hope that maybe -- just maybe -- someone in the Hugo legislature of doom will consider that knowing the eligibility of things in the various fan categories is actually quite difficult for consumers and sometimes just as difficult for the creators.  Having mechanisms in place for ferreting out eligible works before nominations are due would help solve a lot of these discussions, even if the mechanism is little more than a self-reported database.  Obviously, this is no easy endeavor.  Podcasts would be easy enough, since there aren't that many of them, but dealing with the endless sea of blogs and zines and fan artists would certainly make things difficult, if not impossible (the Hugo people are just fans, too, so they have lives as much as the rest of us).  One can hope, though...

Well, that was certainly a mouthful.  On that note, I will leave future conversation up to the Internet.  The comments are yours!

--------------------------

*I wanted to use Storify, but the interface is still the most cumbersome thing imaginable that I just got mega frustrated trying to put things in chronological order, let alone trying to hunt down individual pieces for each conversation.  Seriously, the people who created that need to make the interface easier to use.  "Drag and drop" is nice if all you're doing is grabbing a few tweets from one feed, but if you've got dozens of tweets from 5 or so participants, that interface just doesn't work.

**Paul Weimer, Mahvesh Murad, Dark Matter Zine, Jonathan Strahan, and Luke Brown also made appearances, but most of the conversation was between me via the Skiffy and Fanty page, Nerds, and Justin Landon.

Hugo Awards Recommendations: Which shorts / novelettes / novellas have I missed?

It's almost that time again:  time to nominate stuff for the Hugos. I usually miss a lot of stuff throughout the year, so I like to reach out to readers to see what they'd recommend so I can create a reading list for myself.  Last time, you folks recommended so much that I ended up with a 1,200-page ebook!  I want to give myself a little more time for the next nominating season.

So...which short stories, novelettes, and novellas should I be reading?  Let me know in the comments below!

The Hugos in “Turmoil” and the Glee Crowd

There seems to be a contingent of fandom that takes pleasure in any perceived disorder in the Hugo Awards.  They themselves love sf/f, often because they write in the genre themselves, but when it comes to one of the most important awards, it's almost as if they are excited for its fall from grace, perceived or otherwise.  In some cases, they declare their hope that the award simply dies; in other cases, their public displays of laughter are all the indicators one needs to determine how they feel about the Hugos.  I don't know why they take pleasure in Hugo controversies.  At first, I thought it might be due to jealousy, since many of these same folks don't get nominated in any of the categories or rarely see their own nominees appear,[1] but that would make their opinions petty and pathetic rather than detrimental.  I think it goes much deeper than that; they are to the Hugos what the Joker is to Batman:  they just want to see the world burn.


This attitude should bother any of us who care about this genre for a number of reasons.  First, while the Hugos may not be the arbiter of quality they are traditionally thought to be -- indeed, they never were, being a semi-populist award from the start -- they do remain an important feature of the sf/f genre.  They are not, as some Hugo-lovers might suggest, the end-all-be-all of sf/f awards, in no small part because there are so many other awards which are equally important, though not necessarily as visible; the Hugos also fall short due to their very nature, which will by necessity critically alienate anyone who doesn't value semi-populist views of what's "best" in this genre.  But they are important, even in a limited, fandom-bloc-oriented sense.  The idea that these awards should die is, as such, like asking the genre to amputate its arm.

Second, these awards are important to a lot of people, not just the SMoFs, but other authors, Worldcon attendees, and readers.[2]  You may not agree with their views, as I often do not, but to take pleasure in the idea that something of importance to a bunch of individuals might go away or lose all significance is the worst sort of schadenfreude.  The Hugos have been part of sf/f fandom for decades and were a way for sf/f fans to recognize the works they loved when nobody else would.  These days, the Hugos serve a different purpose, but they remain important to a lot of people.  I may not agree with the way the awards are run or how people vote for them, but I won't begrudge the WSFS committee members or the voters for their passion for the award (if, indeed, it is passion for the award[3]).  Those who enjoy seeing the Hugos mired in controversy seem to care little about the people who love what the Hugos represent in principle.  This kind of sniping, fragmentary nature of fandom likewise seems counterproductive, as it necessitates the disconnection between fandom groups rather than their interaction.  This, in turn, reinforces the bubble attitudes and makes change difficult.  How can one expect the Hugos to change if the communities who participate in it or don't aren't actually talking about with one another.  Fragmentation is not necessarily a good thing.  It creates bubbles.  Those bubbles become echo chambers.  Nobody adds anything new to an echo chamber, and if you're not adding anything new, you can't adapt.  I don't particularly want to see the Hugos become an echo chamber.  It needs to adapt with the times; to do that, people need to criticize it and participate for the love (however you want to code it).[4]

If you don't care about the awards, the reasonable response would be to simply ignore them.  But the response I keep seeing is one of passive destruction.  Some people want the Hugos to die, not because there is anything inherently wrong with the awards in and of themselves, but because they dislike the award for one reason or another.  It's about destruction, not construction.  It's about burning down the house for the laughs, not rebuilding the foundations.  It would be one thing if the conversation were about putting more attention on other awards in an effort to add credibility to the genre; it's entirely another to hope for the demise of any individual award simply because one disagrees with how they function, what they represent, and so on.  The former is a constructive attitude; the latter is world burning.

I'm one of the many who criticize the awards.  While I can't speak for all the others, I can say that my criticism comes from a position of love.  I want the Hugos to be better.  So do a lot of other people, especially those who have criticized the awards' diversity, bloc voting practices, and so on.  These are legitimate issues, and they should be addressed.  And the best way to correct what you think are the flaws in the Hugos is to become a voting member.[5]  But burning the award or taking pleasure in its demise is the kind of thing that makes fandom intolerable.  This field deserves better.

-------------------------------------

[1]:  In my honest opinion, some of them really deserve Hugo recognition.
[2]:  Not all readers, mind you.  As has become clear in the discussions about the Hugos on Twitter, even readers who know about the Hugos don't necessarily care if a book or author has won one.  For me, this is a bit of a sticky area.  Having involved myself in the Worldcon/Hugo universe over the last few years has reminded me that the award does not necessarily represent what I consider to be good, even though I am also a nominee on this year's ballot -- granted, I'm nominated in a very different category from literature (fancasts).
[3]:  As we have seen this year, there are some who vote with the intention of disrupting the process, often for political gain.
[4]:  This is a problem I've noted about the Fanzine category, too, which seems to reflect two fandoms (blog-readers and traditional fanzine readers) who never talk to one another in any critical sense; there are more blogs in the Fanzine category this year, in my opinion, because the medium has changed and because the traditional fanzine world hasn't updated with the times or conversed with this newer form in the same ways as blogs have engaged with the community at large.
[5]:  Technically the best way to change the awards is to become a voting member and attend and participate in the WSFS meetings.  However, I think it's unfair to expect everyone who criticizes the Hugos to have to do the latter, since the financial limitations, as has been noted before, are prohibitive.  But if you're not voting when you have the means to do so, I don't think there's much cause to take your opinions on the Hugos seriously.

(Updated!) 2014 Hugo Nominee Ballot: The Full List + 1939 Retro-Hugo Nominees

I've decided to collapse everything into one post so I don't have to drop a dozen things tonight.  Due to time constraints, I have also left out a lot of the explanations and introductions for the various sections, as I wanted to do some more short fiction reading before I submitted my final ballot.

Here's the full ballot:
Best Novel
I feel like this is one of those categories where no matter what I do, I'll always miss something.  2013 wasn't a huge reading year for me, and that means there are just too many bloody novels I didn't have time to get to.  Thankfully, I got to read some exceptional books, even if they are only 1% of the things published in sf/f in 2013.  My list:
  • The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord
  • Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson
  • The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
  • The Violent Century by Lavie Tidhar
  • Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
Best Novella
  • "Wakulla Springs" by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages (Tor.com)
  • "Martyr's Gem" by C.S.E. Cooney (GigaNotoSaurus)
Best Novelette
  • "Monday's Monk" by Jason Sanford (Asimov's)
  • "The Waiting Stars" by Aliette de Bodard (self-published)
  • "Painted Birds and Shivered Bones" by Kat Howard (Subterranean Press)
Best Short Story
  • "The Water That Falls on You From Nowhere" by John Chu (Tor.com)
  • "Effigy Nights" by Yoon Ha Lee (Clarkesworld)
  • "Silent Bridge, Pale Cascade" by Benjanun Sriduangkaew (Clakesworld)
  • "The Ink Readers of Doi Saket" by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Tor.com)
  • "Walls of Skin, Soft as Paper" by Adam Callaway (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
Best Related Work
  • Speculative Fiction 2012 edited by Jared Shurin and Justin Landon
  • Feminist Frequency:  Tropes vs. Women by Anita Sarkeesian
  • Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture by Ytasha L. Womack
  • The Agony Column by Rick Kleffel
  • SF History Column by Andrew Liptak (at Kirkus Reviews)
Best Graphic Story
  • Batman Vol. 1:  Court of Owls by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo (DC)
  • Avengers, Vol. 1:  Avengers World by Jonathan Hickman and Jerone Opena (Marvel)
  • Saga, Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image)
  • Uncanny X-Men, Vol. 1:  Revolution by Brian Michael Bendis, Chris Bachalo, and Frazier Irving (Marvel)
  • All-New X-Men, Vol. 1:  Yesterday's X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen (Marvel)
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
  • Pacific Rim
  • Her
  • Elysium
  • The World's End
  • Gravity
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
  • "The Rains of Castamere," Game of Thrones
  • "The Sin Eater," Sleepy Hollow
  • "The Midnight Ride," Sleepy Hollow
  • "Trou Normand," HannibalI will explain why I picked this episode with an image.
    You're welcome.
  • "The Poet's Fire," The Following
Best Editor (Short Form)
  • Djibril al-Ayad
  • Fabio Fernandes
  • Andy Cox
  • Neil Clarke
  • Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Best Editor (Long Form)
  • Tim Holman (Orbit Books)
  • Lee Harris (Angry Robot Books)
  • Devi Pillai (Orbit Books)
  • Patrick Nielsen Hayden (Tor Books)
  • Anne Perry (Hodder)
Best Professional Artist
  • Noah Bradley
  • Richard Anderson
  • Sam Burley
  • Kentaro Kanamoto
  • Kekai Kotaki
Best Semiprozine
  • Interzone
  • Clarkesworld
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies
  • Strange Horizons
  • Apex Magazine
Best Fanzine
  • A Dribble of Ink
  • Pornokitsch
  • The Book Smugglers
  • Fantasy Book Cafe
  • LadyBusiness
Best Fancast
Best Fan Writer
  • Kameron Hurley
  • Foz Meadows
  • Paul Weimer
  • Abigail Nussbaum
  • Justin Landon
Best Fan Artist
  • Euclase
  • Yuumei / Wenqing Yan
  • Sarah Webb
  • Alice X. Zhang
  • Angela Rizza
The 2014 Campbell Award
  • Benjanun Sriduangkaew
  • Max Gladstone
  • Brian McClellan
  • Myke Cole
  • John Chu
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And these are my selections for the 1939 Retro-Hugos (with a lot of gaps):

Best Novel
  • The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White
  • Galactic Patrol by E.E. Doc Smith
  • Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis
  • The Legion of Time by Jack Williamson
Best Novella
  • "The Time Trap" by Henry Kuttner
  • "The Black Drama" by Manly Wade Wellman
  • "The Sleepers of Mars" by John Wyndham 
Best Novelette
  • "The Loot of Time" by Clifford D. Simak
  • "Reunion on Ganymede" by Clifford D. Simak
  • "The Dead Spot" by Jack Williamson
Best Graphic Story
  • Action Comics #1
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
  • A Christmas Carol (film)
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
  • Flash Gordon:  The Planet of Terror (or the whole series)
  • Around the World in Eighty Days (radio series)
  • The War of the Worlds (radio series)
  • The Shadow (radio series)
Best Editor, Short Form
  • John W. Campbell, Jr.
  • Mort Weisinger
  • Farnsworth Wright
  • Raymond A. Palmer
  • T O'Conor Sloane
Best Fanzine
  • Imagination!
Best Fan Writer
  • Forrest J. Ackerman
And that's it!


2014 Hugo Nominee Ballot: Best Related Work

(Update:  I 'm going to have to change my selections; it was pointed out to me by Mari Ness that this category is only for non-fiction, which means I can't have any collections here.  Right now, I am extremely frustrated about the absence of a category for anthologies and collections.)

This remains one of the ridiculous categories on the Hugo Ballot, since it is essentially a repository for all the things that don't fit anywhere else (which is what folks have been saying as long as I can remember discussing the Hugos as something more than just "that award thing").  So my selections are going to be full of fiction collections which don't fit elsewhere because there isn't a "best collection or anthology" category.

Here are my selections:
Speculative Fiction 2012 edited by Jared Shurin and Justin Landon
Despite the fact that I am one of the editors of next year's edition, I have to say that Shurin's and Landon's landmark collection of criticism and commentary from the sf/f blogosphere is easily one of the most important non-fiction books released last year.  This is the first time I can think of in which the web-based side of the sf/f community was recognized for its contributions on its own, and so I see this book as a necessary push toward a more digital perspective of sf/f criticism.  Other folks have nominated it, so I assume they agree.

Feminist Frequency:  Tropes vs. Women by Anita Sarkeesian
While I don't always agree with Sarkeesian's analysis, I find her overall work incredibly important to our field, even if she is mostly focused on video games (which are often sf/f, too).  And despite the fact that a lot of really angry people keep crying about how wrong she is, her videos have sparked so much discussion about representation in video games that it's hard to ignore the influence.

Conservation of Shadows by Yoon Ha Lee
If there's one collection of reprinted short stories you absolutely must have from 2013, it's this one.  Lee's stories are vivid, original, weird, and beautiful.  Some of the stories so engulfed me in their tiny worlds that I found myself yearning for more -- novel-length more.  After reading Conservation of Shadows, Lee became one of my favorite current short story writers.

We interviewed Lee on The Skiffy and Fanty Show last year.


Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture by Ytasha L. Womack
The second I heard about this book, I became crazy excited about it.  It reminded me of my days in college, when I learned about Sun Ra and other extraordinary African American writers who were doing cool stuff before I was born (or before I had learned to read); shortly after, we learned a bit about the current flock, which acted as a gateway into my interesting postcolonialism.  This is a book about that world of sf/f, and so it has a special place in my heart.  If you haven't checked it out, you really shoot.

We See a Different Frontier: a Postcolonial Speculative Fiction Anthology edited by Fabio Fernandes and Djibril al-Ayad
As a postcolonial scholar, I am always on the lookout for fiction collections and academic books on that very subject.  Perhaps arriving unintentionally on the heels of So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction and Fantasy (2004) edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan, We See a Different Frontier offers a stunning collection of stories that explore the postcolonial condition through the eyes of the colonized.  The academic side of me salivates when I think about this book; the fan side of me would eat the pages if it meant it could get more story out of them.

The Agony Column by Rick Kleffel
I nominated it last year because Kleffel's interviews are some of the best in the business and because he doesn't fit into the Best Fancast category.  And so that's why I'm nominating The Agony Column this year.  The interviews are always informative and fascinating, and Kleffel brings together sf/f with the literary world in a way that sometimes makes me forget that I'm mostly only interested in sf/f.  If you're not a listener, you should be.

Mothership:  Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond edited by Bill Campbell and Edward Austin Hall
Much like the other Afrofuturism book on this list, Campbell and Hall's brilliant collection of afrofuturist stories immediately made me jump with excitement.  This is exactly the kind of collection I want to see gracing the bookshelves and bestseller lists.  International, varied, and beautiful all around.  Oh, and the stories are pretty darn good, too!

SF History Column by Andrew Liptak (at Kirkus Reviews)
You know you love some sf history, right?  So do I.  Andrew's columns are informative, well-written, and worth reading.  This essay on Washington Irving is solid.  Or how about this one on Weird Tales?  Or this one on Lord Dunsany?  Oh, hell, just go read his column.

So that's what I'm nominating in this category.  What about you?

2014 Hugo Nominee Ballot: Best Fanzine

Well, it's that time again:  nominating blogs instead of traditional zines, primarily because this is the medium I prefer to read in and which publishes the content I like reading.

But enough of that.  Here are my nominations:

A Dribble of Ink
Aidan Moher's rather prolific blog also presented some truly awesome work in 2013, including essays from Foz Meadows and Kameron Hurley (who appear on my Best Fanwriter list) and many more.  It's a good introduction to the discourse of sf/f fandom, so if you're not reading, give it a shot.

Pornokitsch
On the more "academic" side of the scale is Pornokitsch, wherein one can find the Kitschies, discussions about genre and criticism, and examinations of things not typically considered in sf/f (like pulp detective novels).  That combination of things makes this one worthy of consideration for a Hugo.

The Book Smugglers
One of the best group blogs out there, The Book Smugglers provides reviews, news, discussions, guest posts, and more.  They are also home to Smugglivus, an end-of-the-year celebration of all that is awesome about sf/f books and more.  They cover a huge amount of material throughout the year; how they do it is beyond me.

Fantasy Book Cafe
Home to the Women in SF/F feature, now an annual exploration, FBC is another blog contributing a great deal of material to the sf/f world while also engaging in a fair amount of critical self-reflection.  That criticism comes from a place of love, as in the case of the other entries on this list.  Love, after all, is kind of a fannish thing.

LadyBusiness
This group blog is notable for its rather personal exploration of fandom from the position of fans.  While they do obviously pay a lot of attention to representation issues and provide excellent reviews and insightful commentary, I think the way they move between the poles of a fandom is noteworthy.

And that's that.