Much Award Business

This morning at Worldcon was filled with much business to do with Awards. The results of the Business Meeting deliberations, and the new about the new Campbell pin, have been posted to SF Awards Watch. Here’s a small amount of personal opinion.

Mostly I’m very pleased with what the Business Meeting has done. However, the debate over the removal of the Semiprozine category appeared to involve a lot of odd discussion. Those in favor of the motion continue to assert that they are not trying to remove the category just to stop Locus from winning any more awards. However, when challenged to provide examples of their rationales they were peculiarly unable to do so. Ben Yalow said it was because there are not enough magazines eligible for the category, so was not an honor to be nominated, but in fact there are very many small press fiction magazines that pay contributors and carry advertising that appear eligible. That argument simply doesn’t hold water.

Seth Briedbart went on to complain that some of the magazines that do get nominated for Semiprozine are not worth reading. This is a very old and tired argument, and basically it boils down to “I don’t like the things that get nominated so I will define them as not Hugo-worthy.” Seth specifically mentioned 5th-place finishers, so let us take a quick look at the sort of publications that the proposers of this motion think are so bad they are not worth reading (let alone worthy of a nomination). Last year that was Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. In 2006 it was Interzone. In 2005 and 2004 it was Interzone’s (now deceased) Fantasy/Horror sister publication, The Third Alternative. These are not inconsequential magazines. And of course in 2006 Emerald City came fourth in the category. Was it also not worth reading? And if so how come it won a Hugo as a fanzine two years before?

There were no other arguments presented for the proposal. So what does this tell us about people’s motivations? If we are generous it says that people who attend the Business Meeting do not read small press fiction magazines and don’t think that there should be a Hugo for such things. Alternatively the truth of the matter, despite all of the protestations to the contrary, is that the category is being killed to stop Locus from winning it.

7 thoughts on “Much Award Business

  1. The Fan Writer and Fan Artist Hugo categories and the Campbell Award are more opposed by Hugo voters than the Semiprozine category. The two fan categories attract more than 10% first place No Award votes. And Semiprozine has more ballots cast than Best Novelette, Best Related Book, Best Professional Editor, Long Form, Best Fanzine, Best Fan Writer, Best Fan Artist, & the Campbell Award.

  2. Oh, and what is the proposed mechanism for keeping former-semiprozine nominees out of the fanzine category? I presumed that it was simply the semiprozine definition. But Kevin S’s LJ writeup implies there was something more.

  3. Right now the mechanism is just the old semiprozine definition, minus the “declare oneself” which would have caused a horrid nightmare of a mess with some SMOFs insisting that once you had declared yourself a semiprozine you could never undeclare yourself, and others saying you could change whenever you wanted.

    There was a fair amount of hacking at the language during the meeting. We’ll post the actual text to SFAW when we get an authoritative version.

  4. I don’t think it’s agonna work because there is too little actual distinction between Fanzine & Semiprozine. Those writing the rules don’t know enough about the actual production decisions made and how these play out in terms of category compliance. As with the definition of hard sf, attitude plays a key role, and there’s no good way to write that into the rules. There \can be no More Fannish than Thou measure.

    The rationale for having a Semiprozine category (other than getting Locus out of the Fanzine category) is the same as that for the fan categories. The only reason not to simply merge the categories of Semiprozine and Fanzine, rewriting rules in so as to kick out Locus, is that its not just Locus that could dominate such a category, but pretty much anything that can make the ballot as a Semiprozine can dominate the Fanzine category. File 770, this year’s Fanzine winner, would not have made the ballot in the Semiprozine category (File 770 received 33 nominating votes; Helix, the least popular Semiprozine nominee, had 38).

    The deeper problem seems to be that the Fanzine category has very weak support — and some significant opposition with 1st place No Award votes comprising more than 10% of the Hugo voting in that category — with the voters.

    The more I look at the actual situation in relation to the motion passed, the more ill-considered it seems.

  5. And yet those proposing the removal of Semiprozine claim they are doing so because it is a weak category whose nominees are often not worthy of the honor, or even worth reading. Odd, isn’t it.

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