One of the plus points of Puppygate is that we’ve had a brief respite from people yelling about how the Evil Right Wing Hugo Committee is fixing the awards to favor right-wing authors. Thankfully people have realized that VD does not run WSFS.
Nevertheless, there are an awful lot of new people taking note of what happens in WSFS these years, and most of them seem to assume that it is run by a shadowy cabal of well-paid administrators who control everything that happens at Worldcon. I mean, VD says it is so, so it must be true, right?
Well no. There is no Hugo Committee, just a bunch of people who count the votes and who change each year. There is no WSFS Board, everything is decided by popular vote at the Business Meeting. Anyone can propose business to be discussed, and this year it seems like everyone is doing so.
The agenda for this year’s Business Meeting is filling up fast. Motions are being posted to the Sasquan website as they are submitted. You can find them here. Each of these proposals has been submitted by an independent group of people. None of them are “official”.
Nevertheless, last night on Twitter I found people complaining that the Evil WSFS People were using Puppygate as an excuse to oppress short fiction writers.
What has actually happened is that a group of individual fans have proposed the creation of a new Hugo category, the Saga, which will be for extended series of books. This would be for things like a multi-volume story such as A Song of Ice and Fire, an open-ended series such as Seanan McGuire’s October Daye books, and indeed The Culture were Iain still writing books. The idea is that the Saga will be newly eligible each time a new volume is published.
The idea has some merit, in that books of this type tend to do poorly in Best Novel. However, the originators of the motion have also proposed to delete the Novelette category so as not to increase the total number of categories.
Whether you think that is a good idea or not is debatable. As Kevin notes here, the removal of Novelette can be debated separately. There’s no need for it to be passed in order to create the Saga category.
However, getting rid of Novelette is not an official WSFS policy. It was not put forward by the WSFS Board because there is no WSFS Board. If there was, I can assure you that the proposal would not get submitted until the last minute. I’ve attended the National Union of Students conference so I have seen political skulduggery close up (and I see from this year’s goings on that the National Organisation of Labour Students is just as vile as it was when I was a student). Proposed changes to the WSFS Constitution are posted to the Worldcon website to warn people that the proposal has been made, allow people to debate the issue beforehand, and give those affected by any chances a chance to organize a defense.
Update: By the way, if you are interested in the merits, or lack thereof, of the Saga proposal, John Scalzi has a debate going.