The Intermittent Hugo Course

First of all, if you missed the announcement yesterday:

The final ballot for the Hugo Awards, which will be voted on by the membership of LoneStarCon 3, the 71st World Science Fiction Convention, has been posted, here.  Congratulations to all the nominees!

Now, this is an interesting ballot for a buncha reasons.

First, the Hugo Administrators have been doing a dern good job of growing the number of readers involved in the nomination process.  This year 1,343 valid ballots were received by the committee, up from last year’s record of 1,101.  When I wrote the first Intermittent Hugo blog post, in 2007, 567 votes on the final ballot decided “Best Novel” for 2006.

In 2011, AussieCon managed to get a whopping 1,094 valid Hugo ballots — meaning that more than half of their membership voted.

So!  More participants.  Excellent.

What’s also interesting about this ballot is what’s been nominated.  Kim Stanley Robinson, Lois McMaster Bujold, and John Scalzi aren’t exactly strangers to the Hugo nominee list, but Saladin Ahmed is a first-time novelist.

Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire is on this ballot no less than four times (five times, if you count the Podcast category, but I’m just dealing with fiction, here), with two entries in the Novelette category.

Out of 18 nominees, 8 are women (that’s counting only once for Mira/Seanan; had she in fact been two women rather than one with the energy of three, fully half of the fiction ballot would have been held by women).  There’s been some…complaint over the last few years over the lack of women represented in the Hugo ballots; perhaps this year is the beginning of a trend.

When I posted the link to the nominee list, and congratulations on my Facebook wall yesterday, a couple people wanted to know why Lee and Miller aren’t on the list*, and I said I’d explain that, so below is the explanation.

The Hugo Awards are a readers award, like the SFSite Readers Choice, but there are a few important differences:

1.  The SFSite Readers Choice is open to anyone within the sound of its webpage, and

2.  There is no monetary cost involved in voting.

Readers who nominate for and vote on the Hugo Awards must:

1.  Be either an Attending or Supporting member of the current WorldCon (the full rules are here)


2.  Right now, Attending Memberships are $200; Supporting Memberships are $60

So, what you have in the case of the Hugos is a closed pool of self-selected, convention-going readers/voters.  These readers/voters tend to read and vote for writers they know.  Growing the pool of readers/voters by making participation more attractive to people who don’t attend WorldCons is, I think, going to change — to widen — the nominations.  I think this year’s ballot shows the beginnings of that.

What any of this has to do with a lack of Lee-and-Miller on the ballot is. . .the core of our readership are not convention-going fans, and therefore they do not nominate for, or vote on, the Hugo Awards.

This is not to be taken as a complaint; I don’t feel especially ill-used.  It is what it is, and I’m not telling any tales out of school when I say that our fans are the envy of writers everywhere.

Steve and I aren’t shy about promoting our work, and we’ll continue to mention it when we have works that are eligible for this or that award, because, hey — it’s what writers do.

Thank you all for your ongoing interest in and support of our work.


*This is, in a way, like asking a writer why their novel hasn’t been made into a movie.  “No interest,” is kinda hard to argue with.


One thought on “The Intermittent Hugo Course”

  1. And some of the fans who do go to Worldcons lacked sufficient…spoons to complete their nominating ballot.

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