John Scalzi has argued that the Hugo nominations shouldn't be announced so close to Easter since too many people are busy to get caught up in them. Cleverly, the voters circumvented that this year by nominating people that would piss everyone off.
The most outrage is about Vox Day's novelette, Opera Vita Aeterna, published in The Last Witchking. Everyone was furious without having read the story. Why? Because Vox Day is also a cartoonishly bigoted blogger, most famous for writing unforgivable things about N.K. Jemisin. Here his fiction has been nominated, not the person, but liberal voters have a difficult time extricating the two, or even seeing why they should bother. It's the most brazen example yet of Hugo voters copping to the awards not being exclusively about the works nominated.
The nomination presents a fascinating problem for WorldCon. We knew about 10% of SFWA members voted for him to be their president before he was kicked out of the group. Now we know enough WorldCon members are willing to vote in his work, and it feels like there's a reactionary element here, hoisting him up in retribution for his booting.
But what do we do about this? Kick out anyone who votes for him? Go make a new club that doesn't let "the wrong kind" of people in? For all the negativity flowing right now, I don't see any reasonable solutions proposed.
The Coode Street Podcast did an excellent job covering accusations of block voting when it comes to Larry Correia's Sad Puppy Ballot, which solicited people to buy memberships particularly to push a block of nominees Correia arranged. Correia is also nominated for Best Novel this year, for the first time in his career. At worst it's not nearly as gnarly as the Oscars get, but it's hard to get enthused.
I've got my gripes. Among them…
It remains silly that a group fearing for its age continues to refuse any YA categories.
I'd like the WorldCon community to figure out where Welcome to Night Vale belongs and vote it the heck onto a ballot already.
Oh yeah, and Best Dramatic Presentation Long Form remains Nerd's Favorite Blockbuster. While I respect the great craft that went into Gravity, it's onerous that Mamoru Hosoda's The Wolf Children has largely gone unwatched. Hosoda, also director of the sterling and unsung films The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars, is probably going to have to be like Hayao Miyazaki and have an absolutely titanic career internationally before the Hugo voters will recognize him. Or worse, he'll wind up like Satoshi Kon and die without Western audiences ever hearing of him.
The last big fight is about Robert Jordan (and Brandon Sanderson)'s The Wheel of Time being nominated for Best Novel. I wrote a lengthy essay about the silliness of this, then shelved it not wanting to pollute dialogue with negativity. I'm not a Wheel of Time fan, and don't need to be to respect other people's enjoyment. But an entire series that's already gained amazing success competing against any one novel written last year is ridiculous to the point of tanking the entire category.
I may have to dust off that essay.
|Trust me: I want|
to take this seriously.
Look, awards competition is generally stupid. Even a Best Novel, be it Man Booker or Hugo, forces readers to compare fiction that has drastically different goals and strengths. Are you supposed to be objective about something fundamentally subjective? Or are you just picking favorites, and we're supposed to be proud of the one of five nominees that the most people essentially clicked Like on? Neither of these is particularly helpful for the appreciation of art.
The great feature of any good award is its ballot serving as recommendation. Bestseller lists already let us know what's popular, and if a work has gotten on there then it already has a leg up. Nominating Jo Walton's Among Others rather helps the visibility of something that's not essentially commercial but has great value. Whatever you may say for the works, the ballot made me look up the new Ted Chiang novelette and sparked many discussions with Redditors about Ann Leckie and Larry Correia's fiction (response for both authors was markedly positive). Especially today, avenues for exposure are crucial.
That's exactly what a decades-long bestselling Fantasy series like The Wheel of Time doesn't need. The original author died a wealthy and famous man, and lived to see his influence reign over the industry.
Of course my view is flawed, as all awards are contests of popularity and anything that makes it onto such a list needs to have accrued some popularity to get there. Yet even if you're still convinced awards are about patting artists on the back, you still have to regard that Robert Jordan won't be there to get his rocket ship trophy.
So many people being unhappy with these awards have made them the most fun to ruminate on. It's easy to default back to awards-nihilism.