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Hugo Awards - Closing Comments

A few final thoughts on this year's Hugo Awards before I move on to other topics...

Besides Best Novel (the Big One), there are three additional fiction awards, for various lengths of short fiction. Best Novella (the Not Quite So Big One), Best Short Story (the Little One), and Best Novelette (the In Between One). These awards are often the place where younger, newer writers first make their names, and tend to be dominated by stories from the magazines... ANALOG, ASIMOV'S, F&SF. That has been changing in recent years, with the rise of e-magazines. I did not read much short fiction last year, either in the magazines or on line, but LOCUS has an excellent recommended reading list for short fiction, and I'm sure the readers of this blog will have their own favorites.

Stories published in anthologies are also eligible in these categories. I would be remiss if I did not mention the anthologies I edited in 2011: FORT FREAK, the latest Wild Cards anthology, and DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS, the fantasy/ mystery anthology I did with Gardner Dozois. Lots of good work in both, I think. In particular, let me draw your attention to "Lord John and the Plague of Zombies," by Diana Gabaldon, and "The Adakian Eagle," by Bradley Denton, from STRANGE STREETS. Those two stories were recently nominated by the Mystery Writers of America for Edgar Awards. In the Hugos, they would count as novellas. Cherie Priest's FORT FREAK interstitial, "The Rat Race," is also eligible in novella, and the Stephen Leigh triptych from that book, "Hope We Die Before We Get Old," is a novelette tour de force that will break your heart.

There are two awards for editing. For Best Editor, Short Form, I'd recommend my partner in crime, GARDNER DOZOIS, both for his Best of the Year and the books we edit together. And of course I am eligible myself in that same category. For Best Editor, Long Form, my strongest recommendation goes to ANNE GROELL, of Bantam Spectra. An amazing editor who has been with me every step of the way on A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, since 1996.

The Best Fanzine category is one of the oldest Hugo Awards, but is currently embroiled in controversy. Traditional print fanzines are still around, though both their numbers and their readership are dwindling, and in recent years the fans have been nominating things like e-zines, blogs, and podcasts in this category. Last year at Reno, a rules change was enacted to exclude all those new forms of fanac from this category. If that change is ratified in Chicago, Best Fanzine will once again become the exclusive property of traditional fanzines. If you don't own a mimeograph machine, you need not apply. However, (1) the change needs to be ratified, if it is defeated at this year's business meeting, it will not take effect, (2) it is NOT in effect this year, so this may be the last year when e-zines, blogs, and podcasts can be nominated in the category. As I think you can tell by my sarcastic tone, I am opposed to the change. I think there are some great fannish blogs and e-zines and podcasts out there, I think they are the future, and I'm going to nominate a bunch of them. Some of my own favorites include PAT'S FANTASY HOTLIST, THE WERTZONE, MAKING LIGHT, THE BLOG OF THE FALLEN (okay, he doesn't like my stuff, but it's still a good read), STOMPING ON YETI, CHEESE MAGNETS, HATHOR LEGACY, and PUNKADIDDLE. And for Best Fan Writer, I'd suggest you consider some of the folks who write for these blogs and e-zines, including Patrick St. Denis, Adam Whitehead, Adam Roberts, and John J. Miller.

At the other end of the spectrum, there is Best Graphic Novel, one of the newest categories, added just a couple of years ago. Actually, I am not well acquainted with the eligibility rules for this one yet. Many graphic novels are published initially as monthly comic books, with runs extending over several years; later, when the story is complete, the issues are collected and issued as trade paperbacks. My understanding is that a graphic novel becomes eligible for the Hugo the year it finishes, not the year it starts. (Or any in between years, if the comics series runs for more than two years). So it is the trade paperback that counts. (If this is wrong, no doubt some SMOF will come and correct me. Please do). If my understanding is correct, then the GAME OF THRONES comic book is NOT eligible in this category, since its run is still ongoing. However, I did have two other graphic novels published in trade paperback in 2011: FEVRE DREAM from Avatar and DOORWAYS from IDW. Both of those would be eligible, I think.

As for all the other categories... and the Campbell Award for Best New Writer... I have no suggestions... but maybe you do. Please share them. I try to recommend good work here, but I also like to hear what other people recommend.

Whatever you choose to nominate, please NOMINATE.

The nomination deadline is not till March, so we all have some time to do more reading. However, you must be a member of Renovation (last year's worldcon), Chicon 7 (this year's worldcon), or LoneStarCon (next year's worldcon) by JANUARY 31 to have nomination privileges, and that deadline is almost upon us.

The ballot can be found at: https://chicon.org/hugo/nominate.php


Jan. 29th, 2012 07:48 pm (UTC)
E-zines will still be eligible under the new fanzine rule. Podcasts would be moved to their own category (which is in affect this year).
Jan. 29th, 2012 08:17 pm (UTC)
Interesting. I stand corrected.

Though I don't like this new podcast category, FWIW. The Hugos are going the way of the Grammies, adding more and more categories every year. We should not be adding any more new categories unless we are prepared to eliminate some old ones. Just sayin'

So podcasts are out but e-zines are still in. What about blogs? Where do they stand under the new rule?

Jan. 29th, 2012 09:12 pm (UTC)
Generally I agree with you about the proliferation of Hugos.

The way the amendment is worded, a publication needs to have discrete issues published on a periodical basis, so most blogs wouldn't qualify, although their writers, of course, are eligible for Best Fan Writer.

Something like SF Revu or SF Site, which are published on a schedule and you could look at and see a specific issue that isn't constantly being changed would still be considered with fanzines.

Part of the idea of moving podcasts to their own category is because comparing a podcast to a fanzine is like comparing an episode of 60 Minutes to a copy of Newsweek. The medium make them fundamentally different. The same would apply to comparing a film to a novella...both tell stories but the format and the skills behind making them, are completely different.

And the Graphic Novel category needs to be re-ratified at Chicon 7 or a sunset clause will kick in to remove it from Hugo categories (a similar sunset clause was written into the amendment creating the podcast category).
Jan. 29th, 2012 09:38 pm (UTC)
The requirement that a fanzine must have "discrete issues" printed on a "periodical basis" just strikes me as a roundabout way to exclude blogs without actually saying "blogs need not apply." You might as well stick in a clause requiring that fanzines be printed on twilltone.

Even traditional fanzines have never really had a good record of striking to a strict publishing schedule. Oh, sure, there are a few exceptions, but over most of the half century I've been in fandom, I've seen an awful lot of fanzines whose publishing schedule was "whenever the editor pubs his ish."

The best blogs add new material weekly, some even daily. Even if the content isn't organized into "issues," it remains fannish writing. Look at a blog like Pat's Fantasy Hotlist or the Wertzone, and what do you find... book reviews, movie reviews, author interviews, con reports, trip reports... all the sorts of writing that have characterized many fanzines (sercon fanzines more than faanish fanzines, admittedly) for decades.

They ARE fanzines, with or without "discrete issues."
Jan. 31st, 2012 12:38 am (UTC)
Btw, the podcast Hugo is not yet a permanent Hugo. It's in the position of being midway through the 2-Worldcon process to become such, and Chicon decided to exercise its option to add a one-shot Hugo category by adding Best Podcast. At least some of the intent of this is to let voters who'll determine if BP becomes permanent to get to see how nominations go and if the category seems to be workable in practice.
Jan. 29th, 2012 11:04 pm (UTC)
I beg to differ with you on blanket statements that imply that no new categories should be added without deleting others, which seems to imply that adding any categories diminishes the value of others. How does the existence of the category for Best Fan Artist make Best Novel less valuable? They're for different types of work. Are you saying that if we want to recognize dramatic presentations, we should eliminate one of the written-fiction categories?

There's a more-legitimate case to be made when an existing category is split into pieces, but the same argument can be turned on its head. I've heard it proposed more than once that we shouldn't have four written-fiction categories, and that the Novella and Novelette categories should be merged. Would you favor that?
Jan. 29th, 2012 11:52 pm (UTC)
Actually, I would favor that. The three short fiction categories are a relic of the days when the field was dominated by the magazines, and SF books were few and far between. But over the past half century, that equation has shifted. If we had three novel awards and one for short fiction, rather than vice versa, that might better reflect the realities of modern publishing.

That being said, I would not simply merge novelette and novella, but rather extend the short story limit to 10,000 words and let novella cover 10,001 to 40,000. Novelette should be the category that should go.

And we are getting to have too many categories. There's one fan -- I will refrain from naming names, but I suspect you know him, Kevin -- who seems to have taken it as his mission in life to turn up every year proposing a new category. In recent years, one dramatic presentation category became two, one editing category became two, we added graphic novel, and now we're about to add podcast. Where does it stop? I know the filkers want a Hugo for best filk, and I suspect there are people who would like one for best SF videogame, and so on, and so forth. SF and fantasy have pervaded our culture, we've won that war, but the result is that we have an ever-increasing number of areas that could legitimately be thought worthy of recognition for their SF content.

Adding one more category doesn't seem like much... until we add another category the next year... and another the year after that. And then you go to the awards, and all you hear is people bitching about the ceremony being too long. Well, if we keep adding categories and don't eliminate any, it will just keep getting longer and longer.

Edited at 2012-01-29 11:53 pm (UTC)
Jan. 30th, 2012 12:02 am (UTC)
If we do redefine the fiction categories to short story, novella, and novel, why have novels start at 40,000? It seems to me that most novels these days start at around 80,000 words and go up from there.
Feb. 4th, 2012 02:30 am (UTC)
You still see the odd 60000 word novel. Just not very often.
Jan. 30th, 2012 01:12 am (UTC)
Yes, all of the things you've mentioned have been proposed, but there's a pretty good reason none of them are going to happen, regardless of their individual backers' ardor: they don't work.

The 1995 Worldcon tried a Best Music category. Not enough people nominated in the category to justify moving on to the final ballot.

The 2006 Worldcon tried a Best Video Game category. Not enough people nominated in the category to justify moving on to the final ballot.

We added a Best Original Artwork category in the 1990s. After four years, we repealed it because there weren't enough works being nominated to justify it.

The key thing here is "How many people make nominations?" If nobody nominates in a category, the category gets dropped. The Business Meeting is extremely reluctant to add categories without a test. Sometimes you can run single-year tests like Best Music and Best Video Game. Sometimes you need to let a category run for several years to see if it will work, particularly when it's carving out a piece of an existing category.

In recent years, almost all new category proposals have come with varieties of "sunset" clauses on them that require some sort of action to be taken after a specified period. Now in the case of Best Editor, it would have taken positive action to repeal the category after four years, but with Graphic Story, it is going to require specific action to keep it, and I expect almost all new categories are going to have to face this.

It's practical politics here: if you can't get the votes, you can't get the category.
Jan. 30th, 2012 01:24 am (UTC)
There is almost certainly going to be a proposal to create a Best Young Adult Book category introduced this year. This proposal is to me significantly different in nature from proposals to create categories for works that basically don't really fit in existing categories, because this would create an overlap with an existing written-fiction category based on marketing category.

Graphic Novels were sort-of eligible in the Best Non-Fiction Book category for years because they were "art books," but this didn't really make people very happy, because they clearly weren't non-fiction. Now that Best Non-Fiction Book is now Best Related Book, I suppose if Graphic Story goes away, you can put graphic novels in Best Related Book, but I suggest that if this happens, people will look at the nomination list and scratch their heads with a "What is that doing in with books of SF criticism and biographies and such?"

I think that proposals that subdivide or overlap existing categories need to be subjected to more scrutiny than those that essentially award achievement in another part of the field. By analogy, I don't think the existence of an Academy Award® for Best Original Score or Best Makeup makes the Oscar® for Best Picture less valuable or important.
Jan. 30th, 2012 03:47 pm (UTC)
Comment on this discussion
I have to agree with Mr. Martin on this one - and not because I am a fan of his either. As a voting member, adding categories make the process more cumbersome. ALso feel adding dilutes the process - what I mean is this . . . like the Oscars, they added categories so movies that had never won in a particular field would have a change to win (Best Animated Pic for example). By my way of thinking if a work is good enough it will be nominated in an existing category.
I am probably too ignorant to understand all the nuances but this is just MHO.
Jan. 31st, 2012 12:55 am (UTC)
Hugo Categories
It's not an unreasonable opinion to hold, and as you may see by my comment above, I agree that categories that too-finely carve out pieces of existing categories need to be looked at quite carefully. But let's look at it through the other end of the telescope: Based on a over-generalization of your statement, should we maybe just have one Hugo Award, for Best SF/F Work of Any Sort? It would be for novels, short stories, television shows, theatrical motion pictures, fan art, fanzines, professional art, editing, non-fiction works, or whatever you want.

Yes, I'm aware this is an absurd over-generalization. But it's the logical conclusion of the "more categories are always bad" argument. Basically, I think that more is not always bad, and less is not always better. You can't make a general statement, but have to look at every change individually.
Jan. 29th, 2012 09:08 pm (UTC)
I have to admit I agree with George here. I'm a fan, I've never read a printed fanzine. I do however read a lot of blogs and ezines. We live in an electronic age and the effect of the blogs and sites is huge on the genre.
Jan. 29th, 2012 09:21 pm (UTC)
It's been a while since I've gotten a new fanzine printed by mimeograph. The severely traditionalist printed fanzines I receive these days - and I do get a few, including past Hugo winners - are all printed by photocopier.

And I can assure you that trivial proliferation of categories is not a feature of the Hugos. The Worldcon business meeting attendees who decide these things are very reluctant to add new categories unless their need can be assuredly shown. Last year there were 15 categories. Ten years ago there were 12. Twenty years ago there were 13, including one that's since been eliminated.
Jan. 29th, 2012 11:11 pm (UTC)
As shsilver said, Graphic Novel must be re-ratified this year or else it automatically vanishes.

Graphic stories published in multiple parts, such as issues of comic books or as webcomics, are eligible for the Hugo Awards in the year following the publication of the last part of the story. In this respect, the rules are exactly the same as they are to novels serialized in multiple issues of magazine; they're eligible once the last part appears, not when the standalone novelization is published. Thus the trade paperback (to give your example) is not what counts. It may have come out in the same year as the publication of the last installment of the story (in which case there's no distinction), but if it comes out a year later, it doesn't create a new eligibility period for the work.

The rules on serialized works are the same for all of the categories. It doesn't matter if they are words (written fiction), moving images (dramatic presentation), or sequential art (graphic story); the same serialization rules apply everywhere.

I'd point to the reference in the WSFS Constitution, but the Chicon 7 web site, which has the current constitution, seems to be down right now.

Jan. 30th, 2012 12:06 am (UTC)
It's back now at https://chicon.org/constitution.php

3.2.6: Works appearing in a series are eligible as individual works, but the series as a whole is not eligible. However, a work appearing in a number of parts shall be eligible for the year of the final part.

Jan. 29th, 2012 11:12 pm (UTC)
Novella Recommendation
On a different note, one story I've been recommending as a potential nominee is Ken Liu's novella "The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary," which appeared in Panverse 3 and is available over on SFWA's site (for members).
Jan. 30th, 2012 10:29 pm (UTC)
Re: Novella Recommendation
It looks like it's now available to everyone. I've liked several of Liu's short stories this year, so I'll definitely be reading this.
Jan. 29th, 2012 11:20 pm (UTC)
The pending change that divides fancasts (fannish podcasts, just as "fanzine" = fannish magazines) from fanzines doesn't really address the web site issue, but the existing category doesn't, either. Most of the "print" fanzines nominated in that category are being distributed electronically anyway, primarily through efanzines.com. But they are distributed in the nature of discrete issues. It's very unclear whether a web site that didn't have obvious discrete issues would be allowed into the category, but it's also never become something upon which the administrators have had to rule because the voters have never nominated such a web site.

Two Worldcons (2002, 2005) trialed a Best Web Site category, but the Business Meeting resisted efforts to create it as a standalone category, and there have been no recent attempts to do so.

The main argument I've heard made for considering fancasts separately from fanzines is that it's parallel to the distinction we make between written fiction and dramatic presentations, and that if one opposes this distinction, one would have no problem getting rid of the existing dramatic presentation categories and having movies and television shows nominated in the Novel, Novella, etc. categories based on how many words were in their scripts.

This year we have a somewhat odd situation in that Chicon 7 has added Best Fancast, using the same wording as the proposed new category, as a special category, while technically anything eligible for Best Fancast would also be eligible (this year only) in Best Fanzine. I would hope that anyone nominating fancasts would limit their nominations to the Fancast category and leave Fanzine to works of a serial written nature, regardless of the works' distribution medium.
Jan. 29th, 2012 11:35 pm (UTC)
My understanding is that a graphic novel becomes eligible for the Hugo the year it finishes, not the year it starts. (Or any in between years, if the comics series runs for more than two years). So it is the trade paperback that counts.

Strictly, as with all other serials, it becomes eligible once the final part appears. Which is probably (but not necessarily) the same as the TP appearing.
Jan. 30th, 2012 01:00 am (UTC)
The Japanese Seiun Awards for best SF comic (aka manga) is awarded on the basis that an ongoing series only qualifies in the year it ceases publication. There was the weird case of "20th Century Boys" which finished in 2006 but it had a 2-volume sequel series, "21st Century Boys" which ended in 2007 so it qualified for (and won) the Seiun in 2008.
Jan. 30th, 2012 03:55 am (UTC)
Actually, eZines have won at least twice (Emerald CIty in 2004 was primarily an eZine, and my zine The Drink Tank is entirely an eZine without a print edition... mostly) and others (like File 770 in 2008, PLOKTA in 2005 and 06, and SF5Y, were also available online). I think excluding blogs from Best Fanzine makes sense, though that's just me. I don't see blogs acting like Fanzines, but maybe I'm just looking at teh wrong blogs. Now, the writers of blogs are certainly eligible for Best Fan Writer.
Jan. 30th, 2012 07:52 pm (UTC)
Can you really nominate Adam Roberts for the best fan writer? He has written over 10 books (even if you don't count the parodies), don't know if they are published in US. He also teaches English literature and creative writing.

Jan. 30th, 2012 09:34 pm (UTC)
Well, Fred Pohl won Best Fan Writer a couple of years ago.

A professional writer can still do fannish writing.
Jan. 30th, 2012 09:43 pm (UTC)
Absolutely! As you know (but not everyone reading this does), the states of "fan" and "pro" aren't mutually exclusive. Indeed, while I'm hesitant to mention it, you are eligible for Best Fan Writer, George, for your writing here on LJ.

The key thing here is that the terms "fan" and "pro" don't have technical definitions. That means that deciding whether someone's writing is fannish (and thus eligible for Best Fan Writer) or professional is a "question of fact," and just like in US courts (and others following English common law as I understand it), it's a matter for the jury to decide. In this case, the "jury" consists of the Worldcon member who vote. "Matters of law" such as publication date and length of work are determined by the judge, which in this case is the Hugo Administrator.

There are lots of things in the Hugo Awards that are left up to the discretion of the voters, and deciding whether someone is a fan or not is one of them. In fact, someone can be be both a fan artist and a pro artist simultaneously. (Jack Gaughn won both awards in the same year many years ago. WSFS changed the rules to prohibit that, but a few years ago changed it back.)
Jan. 31st, 2012 12:43 am (UTC)
Although there was the, to me, unfortunate bit last year when Randall Munroe both made the ballot for Fan Artist and lost the Hugo by only one vote.

Don't get me wrong; I really like xkcd, but no one ever suggested any other art which he produced in 2010 which would've been fannish. And while he doesn't get paid directly for xkcd, it's also how he makes his living, making it Pro in my opinion (whereas Fred Pohl and John Scalzi were/are not making a living off their fan writing/blogs). It is somewhat complicated that, if he'd been nominated for xkcd back when he was doing it for kicks rather than money, he would've been eligible in my opinion.
Jan. 31st, 2012 04:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you George and Kevin for explaining the rules to me!
Jan. 31st, 2012 10:12 am (UTC)
Yes! (Note that kevin_standlee gives more detail in a comment to grrm's comment to you.)
Larry Nolen
Jan. 31st, 2012 12:26 am (UTC)
Thank you for your kind words about my blog, but just to set the record straight, I'm one of those readers who prefers your short fiction (my first introduction to your writing was seeing "The Pear-Shaped Man" in Omni when I was in 8th grade) to your fantasy, so it's not that I don't "like [your] stuff," but rather I just prefer when you write in a short fiction/horror mode. I am looking forward to seeing what short fiction you produce in the coming years at least as much as I am to reading the sixth ASOIAF book.

Larry Nolen


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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