Cedar in Blue
The Author…

That’s what you get when you portmanteau Hugos and brouhaha. We could also go with tempest in a teacup, which might yield Hucup, or… But I’ll stop there. I think I have made my point.

Here’s the thing. I’m willing to bet guess (I don’t gamble) that most of the readers of this blog know what the Hugos are. But not all of you, as I know there are artists and people who read this that don’t belong to the world which calls itself fandom. Right now, those people are trying to figure out what I’m talking about. Science Fiction and Fantasy, as literary genres, have awards. Presented at the annual World Con, those awards are called the Hugo and the Campbell. They are connected but not awarded by the same ways. The problem comes in with this: while they are important to our little corner of the world, they are not so much, elsewhere. Most of this blog post is targeted at the very people who will likely not see it, and if they do, they won’t understand it. But I must, for the same reason I bought into and voted for the Hugos this year. I believe it’s a worthy cause.

This year, I paid my money, and I got to nominate works, authors, and editors for the Hugo and Campbell awards. I’m ecstatic that some of my picks made the cut. Not only is Toni Weisskopf a wonderful person, she is a brilliant editor at Baen. Brad Torgerson, a rising star in SF, and of course, Larry Correia, who sparked this whole thing off with his call-out for more people to participate in the process.

That’s how it works, you buy a supporting membership (or full membership, but it’s highly unlikely a WorldCon would be close enough to me for me to attend it) for about $40-50, and then you can nominate and vote for the awards. The Hugo is, in essence, a popularity award. The more people who enjoy your work and know your name, as an author, the more people who will vote to nominate you, and also vote on the final award. There are a whole bunch of people (Okay, given how small this community really is, perhaps 500 people…) who have forgotten this. 

Look. The Hugos could have died of obscurity, and not many would have noticed. Which fate would have been an inevitable demise, as all things come to a pass, but sad, nonetheless. The numbers I have seen suggest that the voting pool for the Hugos sank to as low as 500 people in 2005. So when someone brings the award back into the limelight, quadrupling if not more the interest in the award, are you going to moan and complain because they don’t share your politics? Yes, I suppose you are. Because you aren’t interested in marketing, are you?

Larry Correia, who is one of my favorite authors, and also the man most at the center of this controversy, pointed something out in a facebook conversation. Speaking of people out of fandom not knowing the Hugo. I was able to announce my Hugo nom on panels at ComicCon, and people clapped, but they had no idea what I was talking about. And a single ComicCon panel has about 1/5 the population of the whole WorldCon.”

He’s referring to Salt Lake ComicCon, which had an attendance of over 100,000 people. By contrast, the 2013 WorldCon had an attendance of between 4000 to 6000 people. (Stops, looks at what I just wrote, and blinks slowly. Whoa. Had NO idea the disparity was that large). So here this gentle giant of a man has brought the award from a slow slide into obscurity, to a vaster audience than you could have dreamed possible, and you kick at him for it. For shame.

Look, the Hugo is not important, in the scheme of things. Writing a good story, one that people WANT to read, that is the important part. If you are writing to win an award, you are doing it wrong. If you are writing to ‘educate’ people, go find a textbook publisher (or better yet, please don’t. I’m a student, my kids are students, and we don’t want to read what you are pushing.) If you are writing fiction, heck, yeah, this is a popularity contest. Larry sells more books, therefore he has more fans, so when he pointed out to those fans that ‘hey, this award thing exists, you chould check it out,’ they did so.

So think about it this way. Now Larry’s fans are looking at the other works on the ballot. They are going to read them, too, books and stories they would never have heard of any other way. If the stories are good, they might buy more by that author. It’s called cross promotion, and it’s a marketing thing. You see, contrary to what publishers have fed you, writers are not in competition with one another. No one writer can produce enough to feed a single reader’s appetite for written material in a year. Suddenly, SFF has 100,000 more sets of eyes on it than it had before. But sadly, what those eyes are seeing is the equivalent of a full-fledged temper tantrum. Stop and think, before you blog about how evil this Larry guy is. Why would you repel a fresh influx of readers into a genre? And you are repellant, have no doubt about that.

Frankly, with my schedule, reading all of the Hugo finalists is going to be a challenge. That’s part of the reason I haven’t taken part in the voting prior to this year, because I knew that it is my duty to read and objectively weigh the merits of all the stories presented to me. I’ll have to plan it carefully, but I will do it, because unlike those who are proclaiming they will not vote for certain authors no matter how good their stories are, because they don’t like those authors, I must do my duty. For you, my readers, this may mean some reviews of books that would not ordinarily be on your radar, but I will try to keep it interesting.

Addendum: I really don’t recommend clicking through on these, the language is bad, and the motives are worse, but I know that because this is such a tempest in a teacup, a lot of my readers will have no idea what I am talking about in this blog post. For an idea, here are some selected quotes provided by Jason Cordova (thank you for braving the reading of these, my friend!).

“Worldcon going for inclusiveness this year by inviting Tea Party-supporting authors to put up works, apparently. An interesting approach. Also, we are now denied the spectacle of Jonathan Ross handing an award to the exhumed skeletal remains of Ayn Rand. That would have been amazing.” — Werthead, Illiterate Swine (http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/topic/100675-hugo-thoughts-for-2014-for-books-and-works-in-2013/page-6)

“It’s a hell of a lot better than Parasite. And probably – I’ll take a wild stab in the dark here – whatever the fuck Warbound is, since it appears to have been nominated by the same nutjob end of fandom as the Day short story. It’s a pretty straight face-off between WoT and Ancillary Justice. And whilst Scalzi will likely drump up support for AJ, WoT is simply far better known, far more widely read and even people who aren’t keen may vote for it because of its importance in establishing Tor as a force in SF publishing and other secondary effects (like the impact it had on the market, good and bad).” –Werthead, Illiterate Swine

“I assume the Rand, Day, Correia and presumably Torgersen nominations are all a result of the same group of voters. I hope they enjoy the mind-blowing fact it was never ‘liberal publishing’ that has kept them from awards.” — Seli, Racist

“I expected more British nominees, BTW. But in the short fiction and novel categories there are only 2, unless I am missing someone. *edit* So it seems that some of the nominees got there mostly because Larry Correia and Vox Day asked on their blogs for people to vote for them – see here for details –http://radishreviews…-reaction-post/ . I wondered how a novella by a horror writer I’ve never heard of, published by a published I’ve never head of, got there…This explains it. That’s quite pathetic, really.” — David Selig, Embittered Conformist



15 responses to “Hugohaha”

  1. Joe Spiker Avatar
    Joe Spiker

    Seanne McGuire? is an author that keep popping up in my kindle recommendation list. I can’t bring myself to buy her books. She would say that it’s becuase I’m a sexist but of course three of the last four books I bought were from women. You, Admanda, and Sarah. Her words about the Johnathan Ross thing has turned me off from ever supporting her career.

    1. And sadly, that seems to happen a lot – our reactions to an author are colored by their repellant behaviours. It’s easier for them to react and lash out, than to think through the consequences of their behaviours.

  2. I’ll be the first to say I’ve had differences with Larry, but when I was in Afghanistan, it was his books I read to get me through the stress. Hell, Alpha and Dead Six came out while I was there and I managed to get my family to send me copies. I enjoy his work, and someday I’d like to be able I call him my peer.

    1. He sat over a lunch and shared with me, about writing and indie publishing, one time. It was an honor, and I know that despite efforts to keep my work mine, he’s been an influence on me when it comes to the take on Urban Fantasy I’m doing. His work is excellent, and the idea that it’s not relevant just because he doesn’t fit in with the cool crowd of fandom is irritating.

  3. I love how that last comment said to go to Natalie Luhr’s blog for “details”, rather than the actual post Larry made. Of course, if they’d have done that, they’d have seen that he actually just said, “This is who I’m voting for” and left it at that.

    Can’t have FACTS get in the way, now can we?

  4. Your task just got a wee bit bigger as far as informed voting. TOR has announced they WILL make the entire WHEEL OF TIME series available for the voter’s packet.


    1. In my case, I read the WOT (part of it) years ago. I doubt my opinion has changed. 🙂

      1. Yeah, same here. I may check out Brandon’s contributions, but I doubt having the whole available will change my opinion either.

  5. The bad thing is, I’ve read the Wertzone. Commented on it from time to time. Pretty sad he just wrote off a series he hadn’t read because it’s from a Yank. Not. Like. Him. Or at least, it wasn’t when he was a decent SF/F reviewer a few years ago.

  6. Christopher M. Chupik Avatar
    Christopher M. Chupik

    “Jonathan Ross handing an award to the exhumed skeletal remains of Ayn Rand.” Keep in mind, Ross was opposed not because of any politcal views he espoused, but because of the remote possibility that he might offend someone. And yet now he’s some firebreathing uber-conservative, at least in the minds of the Perpetually Outraged.

  7. Great post! I dream of lunching with Larry one day. Alas, I’ve never done Cons before. RavenCon this month will be my first. On the issue at hand, I never saw anything wrong with getting more folks involved in voting for the things they like, especially if they were underrepresented before. The whole ideological bent to this – on either “side” – shouldn’t even be a part of it. To be objective on this, everyone who had a hand in nomming the “conservative” bloc (not that it is that) really should pick up the Stross book and Ancillary Justice, etc. and give them an equal shot. Vice versa for those in a twist about violations to the status quo as well. I get to read new books, then pick the real winner. Leave the bleating to those who bleat regardless of the issue at hand. And now I gotta go add some Cedar Sanderson to my Kindle queue.

    1. Well, thank you! And I agree. This ought to be about attracting new readers. Cross-pollinating, as it were. I’m looking forward to reading through the packet, and hopefully finding new authors I like.

  8. […] been watching the whole Hugo brouhaha with a rather detached eye, not really being “of” fandom, besides the small and Odd group that is the Baen Bar. Honestly, […]

  9. Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter Avatar
    Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

    The Hugos – well, I used to pay attention. Now? No. I didn’t even pay attention during TorCon 3, when I worked the con.

    I looked at the list of printed works for 2014, and the only thing that I’d read was the first book in The Wheel of Time, which I disliked. I don’t know most of the writers. Never read their stuff.

    Part of the problem is there’s just so much stuff out there. Part of the problem may be that the Hugos have always struck me as a popularity contest, and I’m naturally suspicious of anything or anyone who is popular. Who did they pay to get there? How did they get there?

    As to the current fuss, it’s just politics. Politics is the basis of human existence. We are hardwired evolutionarily to be a political species. But we should never take it seriously.

    If you can’t laugh at it, it is lousy politics.