More Thoughts on the 2015 Hugo Awards

Written by Natalie Luhrs

I'm a lifelong geek with a passion for books and social justice. And I give absolutely no fucks.
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April 5, 2015

hugo-poop

I’ve got a few thoughts about the 2015 Hugo Award nomination process rattling around in my head, so I thought I’d share.

First, though, I want to acknowledge that putting forth a slate and nominating a slate is not against the rules as they currently stand.

But that doesn’t mean it’s right or that it’s within what I perceive to be the spirit of the Hugo Awards.

It does a disservice to all the people who proposed works for the Sad/Rabid Puppy slates whose suggestions didn’t make the slate. The Hugo Awards aren’t a lifetime achievement award or a prize for selling a lot of books. They’re supposed to be for the best work in a particular category in a given year.

There is, for me, a massive difference between putting forth a list of recommendations or letting people know what you’re eligible for: that is providing information for voters in a genre which has become extremely large and diverse. It’s not telling people how to vote. It is not telling people to nominate in a specific way in order to upset people that you perceive as your adversaries and not as fellow readers and fans.

I don’t keep a running list of everything I’ve read over the course of a year, so I find recommendation lists and comment threads, as well as eligibility posts, extremely useful for me in terms of jogging my memory or providing lunchtime reading material as I consider my ballot–I discovered quite a number of wonderful stories this way, including Eugie Foster’s “When It Ends, He Catches Her”.

That brings me to another point: there’s nothing in the rules that says voters must read everything that’s on the ballot. Choosing not to read works because they were on a slate and to rank No Award above them is within the rules of the Hugo Awards. Which is what I will be doing–if the work appears on either the Sad or Rabid Puppy slate, it will be ranked below No Award or left off the ballot entirely.

I will try to read those works where the nominee was unaware that they were put on the slate until after the fact (which, despite multiple statements to the contrary by organizers and supporters of the Sad and Rabid Puppy slates, is a thing that happened), but the default position for those works will be below No Award.  Nominees who were aware of and participated in this process will not appear on my ballot at all. I know this hurts worthy works, but it’s the only way I can participate in the process and be right with myself and my convictions.

I am glad to hear that there are a number of folks intending to make proposals at the WSFS business meeting this year to propose changes which will mitigate this kind of manipulation of the nominating process. I am not savvy in the ways of the WSFS constitution and business meeting to do this sort of work myself, so I salute and appreciate those who are.

Finally, for all those who are exhorting folks to set politics aside and take the works on their merits: You are aware that logrolling the nominations in this way was political, right? You just have the luxury of pretending that it wasn’t.

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