A Modest Proposal : Corrective Hugos

I wasn’t planning on saying anything about this year’s Hugo drama, but a conversation on Twitter on Thursday gave me an idea that I think will solve everyone’s problems. Kevin hasn’t had the chance to re-cast this into a proper constitutional amendment yet, but I think it should be self-explanatory.

It is noted that:

  1. In past years the WRONG people have often won Hugo Awards.
  2. Even more WRONG people have been nominated for Hugo Awards.
  3. That, despite repeated and vociferous demands from fandom, the Hugo Jury* has shamefully and persistently refused to rescind their decisions and correct these travesties of justice.

It is therefore resolved:

  1. To create a new category of Corrective Hugo Award
  2. Each year the nomination ballot shall include space for fans to nominate a year/category to be corrected, and a correct slate of nominations for that award
  3. The year/category featuring on the largest number of ballots shall be chosen for correction in that year
  4. Final nominees for the year/category to be corrected shall be decided in the usual way based on the ballots naming that year/category
  5. Categories for correction may be suggested for years in which they did not exist, or indeed have never existed, and nominees need not be eligible for that year/category, otherwise it would be NOT FAIR
  6. The chosen year/category shall go forward to the final ballot and be voted on as normal, including the option to vote for No Award
  7. If No Award wins the ballot, the results of that year/category will remain as per the historical record
  8. A win by No Award shall not preclude the year/category being submitted for correction in a later year. Corrections can and will continue to be made until the Hugo Jury gets the result right
  9. If someone other than the original winner of the year/category wins a Corrective Hugo then the original winner (the WRONG person) shall be required to return their Hugo trophy
  10. The return of the trophy must take place on a live webcast and shall be followed by the WRONG person being dropped from a Great Height into a vat of jello
  11. The WRONG person must also confess to being guilty of at least one of the following crimes against fandom (tick all that apply):
    1. Being a misogynist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, Christianist, monogamist and many other forms of -ist either forgotten or not yet invented bigot who shall be first up against the wall when the revolution comes
    2. Being a commie, pinko, liberal, tr*nny, f*ggot, Muslim feminist who will be enslaved, tortured, raped and shot when the Libertarian Utopia is established
    3. Being Not Part of Our Community
    4. Having too many fans
    5. Being someone that fandom has never heard of
    6. Being a Fake Fan or Fake Geek
    7. Preying on the sentimentality of fandom by dying or otherwise suffering misfortune
    8. Campaigning and ballot stuffing
    9. Being a member of the nefarious Hugo Jury that secretly fixes the results of the Hugos each year
    10. Actually reading books
    11. Liking sport
  12. The WRONG person shall agree to spend a month in Corrective Therapy in order to cure them of their WRONG ways
  13. The WRONG person may also be handed over to the appropriate authorities and charged with Witchcraft, Un-American Activities and Having Sex with a Teenage Pop Star

For the avoidance of doubt, and so as to not waste anyone’s time campaigning on the issue, the first Corrective Hugo shall be awarded for Best Fanzine in 2004.

* The Hugo Jury does not exist and never has existed. Nevertheless, so many people in fandom believe devoutly in its existence that, like Tinkerbell, it is actually real. Unfortunately, like certain other faith-based beings, the Hugo Jury is very bad at answering prayers. Consequently fans feel the need to resort to human sacrifice in order to ensure that their entreaties are heard.

13 thoughts on “A Modest Proposal : Corrective Hugos

  1. There is only one error in this otherwise excellent proposal, in re:

    “12.The WRONG person shall agree to spend a month in Corrective Therapy in order to cure them of their WRONG ways.”

    I counterpropose that “a month” should be replaced by “the rest of their natural life”. Otherwise, hear hear!

  2. Let me get this straight.

    Because a lot of people this year have basically turned around and said, “Our community needs fixing. Seriously. We’re giving Vox Fucking Day an award? Fuuuuck”, you’ve decided that these people – who all, that I’ve seen, are saying it reflects on fandom as a whole – are basically mockable? Or did I miss some internet drama that makes this actually not about that, and if so, where?

  3. Daniel:

    Perhaps you are so close to the latest Hugo Controversy du jour that you’re unaware that we have been getting this discussion every single year over and over again. No, the specific individuals aren’t involved, but the arguments are always in exactly the same form: “The WRONG people are being nominating/winning awards! The system is BROKEN!” There’s a reason Cheryl included that particular Hugo Award as the first one that would be Corrected. Go look up who won Best Fanzine that year if you didn’t already know.

    And yes, I think the entire argument is mockable, and I’ve said so myself repeatedly.

    The failure of your favorites to be nominated or for works/people who you personally detest to be nominated does not constitute a failure of process.

    The Hugo Awards, in the end, belong to those people who are willing to join the World Science Fiction Society and to participate in its awards process. If you think the Solution is to set up a Strong Man who will pick the RIGHT winners regardless of how mere members voted, I’ve got no time for you.

    Your beef is with the taste of the members of WSFS, which is legitimately open to criticism. Declaring that there must have been Fraud is disingenuous at best. (There’s no pattern of it. Hugo Administrators watch for this sort of thing.) A bunch of people bought memberships and voted them, as is their right to do. Yes, you may disagree with their decisions for any number of reasons, but bear in mind that they don’t like what you like, either.

    Oh, and by the way, V*D’s nomination isn’t the only one that’s been criticized, you know. There’s been bitter complaints about The Wheel of Time getting nominated, and other people complaining about other nominees (or the absence of others), and declaring that the system is WRONG and the Nominations Must Be Corrected by the RIGHT people. They do it every year. Nothing will ever stop it. The names/works will change from year to year, but the arguments aren’t likely to change.

    I certainly hope you’re not asking for an ideological purity test for membership in WSFS, so that only people who you personally approve of are allowed to join. Don’t play into the nutcases’ hands by suggesting it.

    1. It’s also entirely possible I’m just too new to fandom and the conversation – I’ve really not paid close attention to the Hugos for long, and been a part of the conversation for even less long – to have seen that.

      However, I don’t think I’ve criticised the process. The increasing openness of the Hugos (by which I mean the lowering of the Supporting Membership fee), which makes bloc voting (which is a way to game the system) easier, is actually a good thing, even if it is open to abuse; rather my criticism is, basically, of fandom. I don’t want an ideological purity test for WSFS, but perhaps a test whereby being egregiously offensive to specific individuals, (online) harassment and a pattern of racism, sexism, etc, etc might disqualify one from attendance at a convention where one is likely to run into a) victims of that harassment and/or b) targets of one’s bigotry?

      As for the Wheel of Time – I’ve criticised that nomination too, not because it’s a flaw in the system (it’s an interesting quirk, that isn’t the same thing) but because I don’t think it deserves the nomination. I believe I have every right to say “No, I disagree with fandom”, just as Cheryl, or Ian Sales, or you, or John Scalzi, or even VD does; doesn’t mean I’m saying the system is broken, just that I think the system has exposed a flaw in fandom (not vice versa). Although in this case that flaw is nostalgia, rather than not being willing enough to confront the bigots.

      So yes, there is a problem with people criticising awards, but a) one of the jobs of any award, from the Gemmell to the Hugos to the Clarkes to the Nebulas, is to spark discussion and debate; all claim absolute authority (“best”) and thus invite questioning about their selections; & b) I don’t think dismissing all debate, especially facetiously, is constructive.

      Or are we no longer allowed to criticise (say) The Grimdark Chronicles, because Fandom has declared it one of the best works of the last year? I don’t understand the logic here.

    2. Now, I may be missing some context here, and we may be talking at cross-purposes, but this post just feels like it misses the mark, at least this year, where some seriously major issues in fandom (which, I know, I’m told I’m exaggerating but I won’t trust that til I see numbers in August) have been exposed very clearly.

  4. Daniel:

    I’m sure the current controversy seems like The Worse Thing Evar, but you know, for those of us who have been doing this for many years, this is just the latest round of the ongoing argument. People scream that the Awards are Wrong every year.

    The title of the post is supposed to be a clue, you know: “A Modest Proposal” Swift wasn’t really proposing cannibalism.

    Cheryl’s not dismissing debate. I took it as satire of the ongoing, incessant, never-really-seems-to-change arguments. We’re tired of arguments in the form of “The Rules must be changed / The Hugo Jury must change the winners,” because most of them are based in sheer ignorance. Arguments that the electorate have no taste and excoriating people for organizing “bloc voting” are closer to the mark.

    Incidentally, I am almost amused that people are now saying that $40 is being considered as too low a price, considering that one of the ongoing arguments we hear is, “It’s unfair to charge anything to vote!” And moreover, while a “lower” price might make some sorts of bloc voting easier, the significant increase in the number of people participating makes it harder. Nobody is really going to spend $50,000 to buy a Hugo Award, although I’ve seen some lame-brained people are convinced that the Big Money Publishers do it all the time.

    Anyway, criticize the voters’ taste, but don’t make the mistake of demanding rule changes just because the voters are (in your opinion) fools.

    1. Ack, sorry Kevin, you’re right; I did explode rather unfairly at Cheryl and at you. I do feel concerns about VD & the Sad Puppies are being too readily dismissed by many, and in part that seems to be a dismissal of the concerns of “the youth” about that segment of fandom; but my response was intemperate and inappropriate, and I apologise.

      1. Fair enough. I over-reacted too. Apologies.

        As I wrote on my own LJ, I consider any author (even VD) saying, “this is what I wrote last year, and if you read it and liked it, I hope you’ll nominate it” to be a good thing because it reminds us of what came out last year. What I don’t like is people announcing “Here is my slate of nominees, and if you want to make other people angry and hurt them, you should all go out and nominate them.” But while I consider such negative campaigning to be distasteful, it can’t be banned. There’s no way to enforce such bans that isn’t potentially worse than the problem itself.

        The best way to counteract negative campaigns is to conduct positive ones. Rather than giving works/people you dislike any airtime (VD has gotten more publicity out of the reaction to his nomination than from the nomination itself, I think), concentrate on talking up the things you like instead. Why run up the search engine count for people/works you hate?

        And as far as this year’s kerfuffle being different, I would point to the 1987 Hugo Awards. Have a look at the nominations for Best Novel. It doesn’t say so in the results because we only list No Award when it wins, but Black Genesis, which generated a similar level of vitriol over bloc voting and pay-to-play when it made the ballot, finished sixth, behind No Award. If Twitter and Facebook and similar social media had been around, doubtless they would have been abuzz with the Scandal and there would be people insisting that Something Must Be Done.

        (As it was, fanzines were abuzz with the Scandal and letter columns were full of people insisting that Something Must Be Done, but the slow velocity of such things probably seems glacial today. Those who were there remember it, though.)

        “Buying” a nomination is not impossibly expensive if you are foolish enough to think spending $5000 will gain you respect. (Note that I’m not accusing any of the nominees this year of having illicitly purchased memberships for anyone, and buying memberships for other people isn’t illegal anyway. How those individuals vote is up to them.) But the community as a whole will recognize cases of one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-other and the way the final ballot is arranged makes “buying” the Hugo Award itself a much more expensive proposition. Is it really worth $50,000 just to cheese off a bunch of SF/F fans?

  5. I agree that it’s clearly satire, my problem is that it seems that this isn’t the year to be satirising Hugo nomination criticisms, when they’re on-the-whole closer to the mark (the problem is the voters, not the awards per se) than has often been the case in the past. It feels like a number of people – Cheryl included, but far from alone – are dismissing criticisms based on past experience, when I think there is a qualitative difference in both what has happened (VD. On the slate. VD) and the substance of the criticism (“Fandom, what have you done???” rather than “Icky SMoFs and their icky Hugo fixing!”) compared to previous years.

    And yes, I’m completely refusing to let the artist be dead, but VD doesn’t get that right.

  6. Daniel: Since your particular criticism is “Fandom, what have you done???” that is something of an ironic counterpoint to one of Cheryl’s regular topics — “Who gets to say who’s a fan?” I won’t deny that people who bought supporting memberships in LonCon 3 for the sole purpose of voting Larry Correia’s book (and where applicable, the rest of his slate, featuring Vox Day) are fans, but I won’t equate casting bullet votes with my own efforts to nominate based on the knowledge of a variety of works.

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