I submitted my Hugo Awards ballot last night, at almost the last possible moment, taking time yesterday evening to read the last 4 short fiction nominees that I hadn’t read before voting. (Good thing, since one of those I ranked in 1st place in its category.) I did better this year than I’ve done in several years, having read before voting all the short fiction nominees, and all but one of the novel nominees (excepting GRRM’s, whose previous novels in the series I haven’t yet read, though I will someday). As usual I couldn’t help but wonder how certain nominees made the ballot at all. Perhaps every voter thinks this, but I can’t help but suppose that there must be constituencies within the SF field, readers who prefer only certain types of SF or fantasy, who read books published by B*** or stories published in A*****, or at the opposite extreme only books published by non-genre publishers or stories published in slipstream magazines, and who don’t read much of anything else in the field. Am I evil or cynical to think so? Practically, for two or three decades now, it has been impossible to keep up on *everything*, on all the new novels or short stories published each year, and so such schisms are bound to appear. (Unlike the film world, where movie critics can easily see every new film that comes out in a week, if they care to; the equivalent is impossible in any literary field, just because it takes so much longer to read a book than to see a movie.)
It’s the rarity of widely-read reviewers or readers that makes it especially sad to see Cheryl Morgan apparently retiring her webzine Emerald City and her reviews therein today. Our community could benefit from more broadly-read, non-constituency readers, and it’s sad to lose one of the most ambitious.
That said, my previous post commenting on one of her reviews has generated an interesting comment thread, in case you haven’t looked at it.
I have more to post soon about reviewing rules and reading metrics, when I have time.