So I submitted my Hugo nominations on Saturday, a few hours before the drop-dead deadline, and as usual left some categories entirely blank — including, I’m a bit ashamed to admit, all the short fiction categories; I simply haven’t read any current short fiction this past year. I did much better keeping up with current SF (and a few fantasy) novels, though even there a few key titles I still mean to get to — Stephenson’s Anathem, McAuley’s The Quiet War, Wolfe’s An Evil Guest — remain unread pending project work on the website… I did nominate, for Best novel, Egan’s Incandescence, Banks’ Matter, Reynolds’ House of Suns, and Baxter’s Flood (In contrast, I *predict* that both Anathem and Doctorow’s Little Brother will make the final ballot, just based on general buzz. And I wonder, will Charles Stross make it a sixth year in a row with a novel on the ballot, with Saturn’s Children? Wouldn’t be surprised. Those would be three spots. Banks might make it; I doubt Reynolds, Egan, or Baxter will; at least one slot, I expect, will go to something I would never guess.)
Anything anyone associated with Locus has to say about being nominated for Hugos, or the continued existence of the Semi-Prozine category, is bound to seem colored by self-interest, though in my case I can wish Jonathan and Charles and Liza and Kirsten best of luck, noting that at least they have categories to be nominated in! (For this year at least.) I do think Charles makes a valid point in his March issue editorial, when he points out that if the motive for eliminating the Semiprozine category is to keep Locus from winning it, then this amounts to not trusting the voters to vote for something else if they wish. It’s analogous to term limits — the electorate voting someone into office while simultaneously deciding that he’s not to be re-elected in 8 years, making the decision now rather than trusting themselves to make the decision later.
On the other hand, the Hugo categories have long struck me as an inconsistent mish-mash, some categories for works and others for roles, that have apparently evolved out the desires at various times by some portion of the electorate to adjust the system so that some target group of candidates either does, or does not, have the chance to win an award. It’s about who gets it, not for what. If it were up to me, which of course it isn’t (I’m not even so concerned as to dare get involved in Hugo politics) I would take two or three big steps back and re-align all the categories by works:
best short story
best nonfiction book
best magazine (fiction/nonfiction)
best drama (short/long)
best book or magazine cover art
and perhaps even
best story collection
…Almost, in fact, like the Locus Awards categories (which I have never had any role in defining, I hasten to add). (I also don’t mean to suggest that the Locus Awards are not with their problems — but let’s not go there just now.)
Even now, I don’t feel I have sufficient insight into the book or magazine *editing* process to judge who does it best…other than by the products that editing produces…which is more than just result of one person’s editing (in most cases, I would think). We don’t have a Best Writer category, do we? Again, a mishmash.
I have no strong feelings about ‘fan’ categories, one way or another, other to note that unlike the other categories they are obviously specifically intended to reward members of voting audience, rather than the works that have brought those voters together. It’s almost like a separate set of awards, and I wonder if it’s unprecedented. (Imagine a People’s Choice Award for best movie fan.)
And best website? I’ve made the case before that websites are works quite unlike print magazines or books (link), in that they can do very different things well (even if some of them are merely electronic counterparts of periodical ‘issues’). So why not? Well, I suppose I understand the reasons why not, just as I understand why the other Hugo categories are the way they are. (As an aside, if Locus Online is ever nominated for any award ever again, I suppose it will have to be credited not only to me but also to Liza Trombi, who runs the news blog and who so far at least has supervised the Roundtable blog. Increasingly, I’m less the editor of Locus Online than the co-editor/webmaster.)