Some Hugo Thoughts

2013 Hugo trophyWell, in between trying to wake up, and dashing to Tesco because I needed food, I have been answering questions on the Hugos today. Hopefully material will appear in The Guardian, at For Books Sake, and in Apple’s iBooks store in due course. Now I get to do my own bit.

I’ll start with further congratulations for my pal, Mur. I’ve replayed the section of the ceremony to get a better look at her dress, and it is indeed gorgeous. She has the best tattoos as well. Also, in the New York Times, Mur. How cool is that? 🙂

Talking of friends, Farah and Edward must be devastated to lose by only 3 votes. I’m so glad they already have Hugos. For an academic work to come so close to beating a podcast featuring some hugely popular writers is an amazing achievement.

And of course my friends at Clarkesworld won again. That’s great for a number of reasons, starting with the fact that Neil is alive to see it happen, which is a minor miracle after his heart problems. I’m no longer on the team, so I don’t get a share in the glory, which is fine by me. There are many reasons why I stepped down from my post there, not the least of which is that I needed to get out of any positions that might look like I was working illegally in the USA. But the Hugos were also a factor.

The two Hugos I won with Clarkesworld came at the time when I got kicked off the Hugo Award Marketing Committee on the grounds that my involvement there was a conflict of interest. The implication was that I had cheated my way to Hugo wins through my involvement with the HAMC. I was pretty sure that Clarkesworld would win just as easily without me, and that has now been proved.

Talking of Clarkesworld, I’m also delighted to see that they won another Chesley for Best Magazine Cover, with this art by Ken Barthelmey.

Meanwhile, on to the rest of the categories. Nicholas Whyte has a good post digging into the details of the voting figures, which means I don’t have to engage my brain too much. One of the key points here is the Short Story nominations. As Whyte notes, had the cut-off for the ballot been 4% rather than 5%, we would have seen a 4-way tie for 5th place and eight nominees rather than the three we got. I suspect that would have resulted in just as much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Something else that is worth noting is the table of nominating statistics at the end of the data. People tend to assume that the fan categories are very much a minority interest, but Fan Writer got mentioned on 485 nominating ballots: More than Graphic Story, Semiprozine or the Campbell. You needed more nominations to get on the ballot for Fan Writer than you did for Graphic Story, Related Work, Short Story or Novelette.

By the way, I see that 30 people nominated me for Fan Writer. That’s very kind. I’ve been keeping quiet about such things of late, but I am thinking a bit about next year, given that I’ll actually be able to get to the ceremony.

As is usual, most of the things I nominated didn’t get on the ballot, let alone win. I was distraught to see that The Writer & The Critic missed a nomination by just one vote. It is awesome, people. I was also pleased to see good showings for The Drowning Girl, Cloud Atlas, and Iron Sky, though none was close to making the ballot. I was absolutely delighted to see World SF in Translation by Jari Koponen on the long list.

One interesting thing about the nominating stats is that GRRM appears to have declined a nomination for the season in Long From in order to challenge Doctor Who in Short Form. If I have interpreted that correctly, I think it is an excellent move on his part. The Short Form category needs competition.

Mike Carey’s brilliant The Unwritten appears to have fallen foul of the interpretation of voter’s wishes problems that have plagued the Graphic Story category. Both Vol #5 and Vol #6 were eligible, and both got votes. There were also 15 votes that did not specify which volume. Vol #6 missed a place on the ballot by 5 votes. I think something needs to be done about this, but I’m not sure what.

Moving on to the winners, I’m pleased to see another new name win Fan Artist, and John Picacio win at his home convention. John and Ken Liu give us some welcome non-white winners.

I am utterly delighted for Tansy, who is the first Australian woman ever to win a Hugo. Given that she was the last nominee to get in, her work clearly must have impressed the voters.

I’m also very pleased for Saga. Had you suggested that an anti-war comic with strong feminist themes that features breast-feeding on the cover would win a Hugo I think I might have laughed. I love it.

And I am perhaps most delighted for Pat Cadigan. Just a few weeks ago she was in hospital having a suspected cancerous growth removed, but she made it to Texas. She has had several prior nominations but has never won. “Girl Thing” is an amazing story, clearly part-rooted in trans issues. I can’t wait to read the novel that she is working on, based on the story.

I gather that the Angry Young Men brigade thinks that Scalzi winning Best Novel is a sign of the death of civilization. Well it wouldn’t have been my choice either. (Any winner other than The Drowning Girl is a travesty, though I would have settled for Empty Space.) However, John is a friend, is enormously popular, and was clearly deeply touched by the win. When all is said and done, it is just a beauty contest (as Charlie Stross said on Twitter today).

You win some and you lose some. I’m very pleased with almost half of the winners, which I think makes for a pretty good year.

A quick nod to the SF Squeecast and SF Signal who have elected to withdraw from competition to give others a chance. It is sad that this has to happen, but in categories where this year’s version of last year’s winning work is eligible a trend toward domination is inevitable. Thanks to both groups for their graciousness.

Of course the results won’t please everyone. The haters are, as ever, out in force. It amuses me to see how the Hugos can be slammed as both a corrupt force dominating fandom and totally irrelevant in the same tweet.

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