When I saw the nominations lists for this year’s Hugos & Campbell I was fairly pleased. We had four women on the Best Novel list, we had an African American and a French Vietnamese in the fiction nominations. Nick Mamatas was nominated for editing a line of translated Japanese fiction. There were a South African and, I think, a Muslim American, on the Campbell list. We also had record levels of participation in both the nominating and final ballot stages. I wasn’t too impressed with some of the winners, but hey, that often happens. Overall I thought we were continuing to make progress.
The reaction to this year’s results, however, has been the worst I can remember. Depressingly much of this has come, not just from outraged fans, but also from professionals in the field. And some of those people, accidentally or otherwise, have said things that can be taken to imply they think the process is corrupt.
I don’t want to go into individual cases. Some people were probably just careless with words. Some appear to genuinely believe that the Hugos are a blight on the industry. And a few, I suspect, are trying to stir up controversy in the hope of getting more traffic to their blogs. Ultimately it doesn’t matter much why people say what they do, it is that fact that they say it that everyone else remembers. Fling enough mud, and it sticks.
Nothing I have seen has been directed at me, which is a big relief after the ridiculous nonsense last year. However, all winners are tarred with the same brush. The same people who voted for Connie Willis, or Girl Genius, or Chicks Dig Timelords, or whatever winner someone is particularly incensed about, also voted for Clarkesworld. If the process is suspect, then we must have benefited from it as well.
I guess this sort of thing is inevitable. The higher profile a set of awards, the more carping there will be. But I’m tired of having to worry about it. In particular I’m tired of worrying that projects I’m involved in, which I care deeply about, will suffer through their association with whatever mud-slinging is affecting me. And I have to face up to the fact that for a large segment of the community I will never be anything more than a fan who won fan Hugos in controversial circumstances.
So I am bowing out.
I’ll be retiring from Clarkesworld as soon as Neil can find a suitable replacement. So if you fancy editing non-fiction for one of the best magazines around, get in touch.
I’m also giving up SF Awards Watch. I still think it is a worthwhile project, but it needs someone else to take charge. Kevin and Petrea tell me that they are happy to stay on and help if someone wants to take it on, so again get in touch if you are interested.
I have resigned from the Board of Lavie Tidhar’s World SF Travel Fund. There’s a lot of money involved there and I don’t want there to be any controversy over my involvement in choosing next year’s beneficiary.
Finally, and most importantly, I have resigned from the Board of the SF&F Translations Awards. I’ll still be supporting these with my time and money, but I think it absolutely essential that any idea that these are in some way my awards be erased. We desperately need someone, preferably several someones, who can help promote the awards who is widely respected within the industry. I very much hope that we can get more help, because I think this is a hugely important initiative. I do not want to see it die because people associate it with someone who they think has won four more Hugos than she deserves.
I haven’t yet decided what to do with Wizard’s Tower. It is pretty obvious by now that nothing short of a lottery win is going to get me back to the US. However, if there are ways in which I can continue to help good writers sell good books then I want to continue doing that. Also I have obligations to people whose books I am already selling in some way or another.
I will, of course, continue to blog here occasionally, and I’ll continue working hard behind the scenes for various projects I believe in. I just won’t be lending my name to anything in future unless I’m sure I’m the only person who’ll be harmed by that.