Hugo harumph

Why do the Hugo awards loom so large when fewer than 500 readers usually vote? Well, we’re a small community. What we lack in numbers we make up for in bull dog ferocity and banty-rooster defensiveness. So the Hugos are a big deal to the few thousand of us that pay attention. To the mundane mainstream–well, they’ve never heard of ’em.

I am trying to cover my disappointment with the awards this year. We’ve all got opinions on who won and who should have won. Looking into the numbers on the runners-up, I can say it sure looks like name recognition can tip the scales. No surprise, but it’s another reason I hate to see the Hugos overblown.

I must say that I very much admired what Novik did in the debut of the Tremeraire series. Good Campbell win. I think that fellow Pyr author Ian McDonald’s win on novelette is likely the prologue to a deserving sweep of our industry awards next year for Brasyl or River of Gods. So pleased for Frank Wu on best fan artist!

In coming years I expect to see Lou Anders taking home some awards, and the amazing John Picacio. Love to see us pay some attention to the up-and-coming players in our industry.

And of Stephan Martiniere, I can only say, look:

9 Responses

  1. bdkellmer says:

    On the other hand, you can think of the Hugos as you might a republic — sure there are only about 500 voters, but those 500 are people who attend Worldcon, and so (for the most part) are serious about SF. They’re (mostly) pretty likely to have a fairly good feeling about current SF, and so can be viewed as (more or less) representative of serious SF readers. Just like a republic does not act by direct popular voting but by that of a representative group.

    Sure, it’s far from a perfect analog, but it does seem to fit reasonably well.

  2. frankwu says:

    What I thought was pretty cool about this year’s Hugos was that over half of the ballot was won by folks who’d never won a Hugo before – Ian McDonald, Tim Pratt, Robert Reed, Julie Phillips, Lee Hoffman et al. I thought that was pretty cool – for a field to be so open to new people!

  3. lmarley says:

    Good point! And I certainly agree with Frank that it’s nice when some new people get recognized.

    Now if the Nebulas could get their act together. . . I mean it. At least the Hugos are voted on in private, so this trading votes and pressuring friends to vote and all of that doesn’t obtain. I like awards run the way the Endeavour Award is handled, where a committee of READERS chooses the short list, and then lets a panel of judges take over. And, of course, the PK Dick Awards are brilliantly handled, but such a lot of work for the judges!

    Big question, though: Do awards sell books? At least with the Hugos, it’s pretty obviously the other way ’round.

  4. bdkellmer says:

    Well, you could argue that the Hugos do sell books, but in a round-about way. I have no stats to base this on, but it would seem that publishers may be more likely to give more backing to a Hugo winner, which then puts them in a position to sell more, but that’s only speculation. I don’t know how much it pushes the readers to pick up a Hugo-winner, though.

    And ditto, what Frank said.

  5. Anonymous says:

    You’re right, the Hugos have some representation built in…but if it fails, it’s because the numbers of voters are so small that me and a few friends can just pile on and make a three vote winning difference. I’m not trashing the Hugo method, despite my caveats. Just wishing more of us voted.

  6. Kay says:

    That was me in the previous post, btw.
    But aren’t the Nebs voted in private, too?
    I think similar pressuring goes on in both; the nominating process with the Nebs, though, I agree that is troubling.

    Sell books? My take: They do if the book already has good legs: storytelling, readability. If the award is for something too arty and obscure, nothing can lift it.

  7. Kay says:

    OK, point taken, there were some new faces among the winners. I was looking into the runners up disappointed how their numbers spread.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Hugo Awards

    The Hugo Awards do sell books. This is both the conventional wisdom and our own experience at Pyr. Other awards, not so much, at least not measurably so. This does not mean they are not appreciated, nor that we don’t use them as “selling points,” only that the Hugo is still the big one. I suspect that all the online efforts of late, including the new Science Fiction Awards Watch, will go along ways towards encouraging more attendees to participate in the voting. — Lou

  9. bdkellmer says:

    True — and there’s the added issue that the voting population is also that can afford to spend the money to go to Worldcon, which excludes a lot of people.

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