That’s an old Star Trek joke. No one remembers Voyager these days, right?
Anyway, last night there were Hugos, and that meant being up in the middle of the night, because it is my job.
Back in the dim, dark days before Twitter I used to update a blog live from the award ceremony. The SMOFs hated that. Then Twitter happened and everyone did it. With a lot of help from Kevin, what I was doing morphed into an official text-based report on the ceremony run via the CoverItLive (CiL) system. These days, of course, we have live video on UStream as well, but that doesn’t work for everyone due to bandwidth issues. Also UStream doesn’t always hold up, and they seem happy to stick ads in the feed even when the host Worldcon has paid for it to be ad-free. So the text-based coverage has value. These days it is fronted by Kevin and Mur Lafferty, and I help out behind the scenes, mostly by handling the comments. Last night we had over 900 people online following what we had to say.
It does need a team. Basically you need one person to handle the factual stuff — who the finalists are, who won, what is happening on stage; you need one person to handle the comments; and you need someone to be a color commentator and make it entertaining.
The main problem with doing this is that we can never tell how much help we are going to get from the host convention. Sometimes we get none at all; sometimes they are very good; and sometimes we get treated like an enemy that is threatening their brand.
This year, thanks to Dave McCarty, we got details of the results in advance. This was very useful and allowed us to do a lot of advance prep so that we could be more efficient during and after the ceremony. On the downside, we don’t seem to have got any help with Internet access, because when it came time to go live neither Kevin nor Mur could get online. All we had was Kevin tweeting from his phone.
I, however, was sat at home with good quality wired access. So I had to take over running the event. I was reliant on the UStream coverage and Kevin’s tweets to find out what was going on. Thankfully the audience was very patient, and I’m hugely grateful to Susan de Guardiola who took over compiling the lists of nominees and posting them via the CiL comment system so that I could concentrate on other stuff.
The other major problem that we had was that the order of business was not as expected. Traditionally we announce non-Hugo things first, then the Hugo categories in reverse order so that we end with Novel. MidAmeriCon II decided to start with the fan categories, some back to the non-Hugos, and muddle up the order of the rest.
There is, of course, no requirement to do things in a particular order. But equally there is no obvious reason to change. What appears to have happened here is that Mac II’s Hugo Ceremony team decided that fan Hugos are worthless and should be demoted in the pecking order. People have opinions. I don’t care much, except that it made it hard for me to know what was coming up next.
Thankfully, about half way through the show, Kevin and Mur finally managed to get online. Things ran much more smoothly from then on. Also Pat Cadigan and Jan Siegel, who hosted the ceremony, kept things moving quickly so we finished in good time. Thanks to having the data in advance, I was able to get the Hugo Awards website updated fairly quickly after the ceremony, which is just as well as Kevin still had next to no bandwidth. I finally got to bed around 5:00am.
However, practical issues aside it was a pretty good evening. I’m very pleased with most of the results, and not unhappy with any of them. The only real “victory” that the Puppies can claim is, I think, pushing Fury Road into second place behind The Martian. Mostly their picks were either things that lots of other people liked, or they got pushed below No Award.
It is a shame that Fancast and Related Work got thumped with a No Award, but I gather that George Martin did his thing and awarded Alfies to Letters to Tiptree and Tea and Jeopardy. Emma and Pete will hopefully get another shot at a rocket next year.
In the meantime the Business Meeting is busily discussing the various anti-Puppy motions. Next year we should have something worth voting for in every category, though we probably won’t get Puppy-free finalist lists. More on that tomorrow.