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.