Well, it’s that time of the year again: the Hugo short-listed works have been announced.
For those who aren’t familiar with them, the Hugos are awards for fiction, non-fiction and visual storytelling in the spec fic genre, voted on by members and supporting members of each year’s World Science Fiction convention. Those same members and supporting members are responsible for nominating their favourite work of the year, and it’s from those nominations that the various short-lists are compiled. Because of the supporting membership option, it means the Hugos can be truly representative of what works fandom at large – world-wide – wishes to honour: while comparatively few fans can make the trip to the actual convention, every single fan of science fiction and fantasy can be involved in the Hugo voting process.
Participation in the process is entirely voluntary. All you need to do is pay the supporting member fee and your voice will be heard, your personal preferences taken into account. This means that the Hugos are, potentially, the most egalitarian award on offer in the genre. Bottom line? There is no one ‘right’ way to be a fan, no one ‘right’ kind of book or film or tv show to vote for. This is about individual fans voting for the work that speaks to them most profoundly.
The last couple of years there has been a lot of nastiness swirling around the Hugos. It’s nasty this year too. I find that very disappointing. I am deeply offended by the notion that it’s not the work that matters, but the politics of the author who wrote it. Or their race, or skin colour, or sexuality, or gender. For my money, none of those criteria is relevant to the awards process. Do I want a wide variety of people represented on the nominee ballots? Speaking as a woman, you’d better believe it. But do I want good work ignored – or worse, actively discriminated against – because of various – and sometimes competing – political and social agendas? Absolutely I do not. And I really don’t want to see great writers punished because some people in fandom don’t like the people who support their work. That’s not inclusivity. That’s bullying. That’s a disgrace. As fans we should be better than that.
If you love science fiction and fantasy and you’d like to see the kind of stories you love receive the recognition of a major award like a Hugo, then do get involved in the nominating and voting process. Complaining that you don’t like anything that wins year to year, without getting involved, is pretty silly … and pointless. As someone once said, be the change you want to see in the world!
And in the meantime … my huge congratulations to this year’s nominees. I wish each and every one of you the very best of luck.