Today at Worldcon the Preliminary Business Meeting took place. This is the one that sorts out the agenda for the main meeting tomorrow. It is important because of a procedure called Objection to Consideration (OTC) through which motions deemed frivolous or a waste of time can be removed from the agenda entirely. Some resolutions, including the Hugo Award Eligibility Extension, can also be discussed as they do not involve actual amendments to the WSFS Constitution.
Kevin kept up a tweet stream throughout, but that’s hard to follow so I recommend this live blog of the meeting by Rachel Acks. She’s clearly partial, but she has most of the salient issues covered very clearly. Here are the highlights.
The motion to remove some of the fan categories had a 16 ton OTC dropped upon it, as I rather suspected it would. It was silly and a bit spiteful.
The same fate befell the “Very Short Form Dramatic Presentation” proposal. I suspect this is mainly because people expected it to become dominated by trailers for the same films that end up in Long Form.
A new motion, that I hadn’t seem come in, to expand Fan Artist to cover more types of art, will get debate time. My initial impression is that anything that can improve interest in this category is good, though I’m sure people will complain about having to compare apples to oranges.
The Hugo Award Eligibility Extension was passed almost unanimously. I’m very pleased about this because it means that WSFS has finally accepted that the Extension is about works from all over the world, not a special sop to UK-published works. It also acknowledges that, thanks to population sizes, the majority of voters will probably be US-based every year for a while yet.
There was a daft proposal to add an Eligibility Extension to the Retro Hugos. London is running 1939 Retros, so an extension would have included works published outside of the US prior to
1939 1938, and published in the US in 1939 1938. Given that the purpose of the extension to is allow US voters time to read the works, and that they will have had 75 years to do so, I fail to understand what different more time would make.
Then again, the intention became obvious with the next motion. You see, The Hobbit was published in the UK in
1938 1937. An extension would have allowed it to be included in the 1939 Retro Hugos. A special plea to have it included anyway was also rejected. If we are going to have Retro Hugos (which I am increasingly thinking was a Very Bad Idea) then can we at least keep to the works published in the year in question and not add works from other years just because they are very popular?
There were also a whole bunch of suggestions for making eligibility extensions easier, including one that would make the main one a permanent feature rather than having to be voted on every year. Given that is passes almost unanimously every year, I can see people not wanting to waste time on it, but equally I’m happy to argue for it every year if necessary.
And now for the one contentious part of the meeting: the YA Hugo.
At the start of the meeting the proposer of that motion asked to withdraw it. I think that was a sensible move, because the motion as it stood would have failed, and would have further soured people on the whole idea of a YA Hugo. Unfortunately you can’t withdraw a motion once it has been submitted without unanimous consent, and someone insisted on having a debate. I don’t know whether that was an overly enthusiastic supporter, or someone trying to stir up trouble, but the effect was trouble all the same.
Because the motion had to be debated, and because the mover wanted it removed, the only thing to do was to raise an OTC. Given that the maker of the motion didn’t want it debated, and it was unpopular anyway, it didn’t surprise me that the OTC passed. But of course Twitter was then full of people complaining about how the Evil SMOFs had stomped on the YA Hugo yet again, and ignoring the context of what had gone on in the meeting.
Towards the end of the meeting, as Rachel explains, Kevin moved to create a committee to study the issue of the YA Hugo and report back next year. This is a very promising development, because it provides a venue for the supporters of the motion and sympathetic BM regulars to get together and thrash out something that has a chance of getting passed. Kevin and I have both volunteered to be on the committee. It will need some work, and compromise on both sides, but I’m hopeful that we can come up with something that is going to get young people involved in the Hugos.
If you are interested in being involved in the YA Hugo Committee, let me know and I will pass your name on to the appropriate people. Ideally you need to do so tomorrow, though I suspect that there will be means of adding people later.
Those were the main highlights from today. The video of the meeting should be online in a day or so. I was also pleased to hear Kevin note that there was a very big turnout. The more people get involved, the better the BM will be able to reflect the wishes of fandom at large, rather than just the few people willing to go to meetings.