The Hugos: What’s Changed?

After every Worldcon one of the things I try to do is set out very clearly what has changed in the rules. With the caveat that Kevin is on a train and can’t check what I’m saying, here’s what I think this year’s changes are.

1. Graphic Story is now a full-fledged category and will continue indefinitely. I must admit that I’d expected to see it dropped this year when the sunset clause was debated. However, the Business Meeting appears to have taken the category to its heart and is happy to keep it. I somehow doubt that this will improve the knowledge of comics displayed by the voters, at least in the short term, but at least there’s evidence that people do care about the category.

2. Best Fancast is now a real category and will continue at least until 2016 when it will have to go through the same sunset clause thing that Graphic Story had to face. Also audio and video productions — the sort of things that qualify for Fancast — will no longer be eligible in Best Fanzine as they were this year.

3. The raft of changes to the Fanzine and Semiprozine category were also ratified. An attempt by hardliners to exclude electronic fanzines was defeated (I keep hoping they’ll give up, but I may have to wait for them to die). The main result of these changes will be that Locus is no longer eligible in Semiprozine as it has full-time staff. Liza Groen Trombi is, of course, still eligible in Best Editor: Short Form.

The other motion that was debated was the proposal for a YA category. That was defeated, so no changes result. As to why it was defeated, that’s going to require a separate post, which I will write when I don’t have a headache because the issues are really very complicated with good points and bad on both sides.

If you want to listen to the debate on the three changes listed above, you can do so here.

9 thoughts on “The Hugos: What’s Changed?

  1. I’m pleased that Graphic Story will continue. Though I wonder how much of that is because of the recently-announced new Sandman story 😉

    I look forward to your thoughts on the defeated YA category. It’s certainly a category I’d like to see added as a reader of YA and adult SFF.

    1. I like the idea of a YA category. It’s a growing fiction market. We just need a rule that makes sense, will have some longevity, and isn’t loaded with fatal flaws.

      I’m very happy (after thinking about it) that the exclusion clause was struck with a significant majority. I believe allowing YA work to be eligible both in the YA and general fiction category will allow YA specific recognition, and not prevent the best fiction of a year from being recognized because it’s not general. It’s not a position I would have expected to take, but it is the right position to take.

      I’m still waiting for a good category definition, though.

  2. On point #3… Except for a few cantankerous old fanzine fans, the ezine wars have been won. Even Rich Lynch admitted that (although it was difficult for Steve Silver and I to convince him non-PDF e-zines were the same). Paper and screen aren’t really different media when used to deliver static text and art.

    The only defining question left to argue over is whether something has “issues” (hold your laughter, please).

    Paper ‘zines have issues. PDF ‘zines have issues. Website ‘zines have issues (SFSite being the perennial example). And it is entirely possible to create a blog ‘zine that solicits, edits, and organizes their blog posts into a periodical cycle, thus having issues (I follow a few non-stfnal blogs that do this, intentionally creating discrete collections of posts to make up issues).

    So it’s not about electronic vs. paper, it’s really fallen to “is this blog ‘zine-like? or just a journal?”

    I think SFSignal is a great gray-area winner that falls far closer to ‘zine-like than some people want to think. They’ve got regular columnists, scheduled features and columns, editorial management, the only thing they don’t do is publish a ToC and a cover.

  3. Having had my interest piqued about the YA business, just a random question for someone who might have an answer:

    At least one objection as summarized by Kevin or Cheryl (I forget who) was that the Hugos determine the fiction categories according to length — short story, novella, etc. — and not by genre or marketing category. That actually seems reasonable enough to me, I suppose.

    But would an WSFS-administered award along the lines of the Campbell for Best New Writer be possible? The Robert A. Heinlein Award for Young Adult Fiction, say.

    I’m sure it can be introduced and voted on and so on, but I wonder if the fact that the Campbell is “sponsored” by Dell Magazines is a unique factor that makes the Campbell possible.

    1. It would be possible, but a WSFS Administered award that is not a Hugo would be the worst of all worlds. It would still have all the problems of having YA in the Hugos, but all of the YA people would be offended that their award was not a Hugo. That will be more obvious when I’ve actually written about the YA issues.

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