The nominees for the 2014 Hugo awards were announced last night, and now I can reveal the news that I've been sitting on for one of the longest weeks of my life: I am nominated in the Best Fan Writer category! I want to congratulate my fellow nominees, Liz Bourke, Kameron Hurley, Foz Meadows, and Mark Oshiro (who together make up what I think is the most female-dominated slate in the category's history). I also want to thank everyone who nominated me and encouraged others to. It's been strongly implied, but I'll just say officially that I will be attending LonCon 3 this summer and plan to be on hand for the Hugo award ceremony.
It's terribly gratifying to receive this nomination, especially at the end of a nominating period in which so many wonderful, smart people said such lovely things about me and my writing. I'm particularly thrilled because, to the best of my knowledge, I'm the first Israeli to receive a Hugo nomination, and for that to happen at a convention that will be particularly accessible to Israelis and where I know that there will be a large Israeli contingent feels very appropriate. In addition to the fan writer nomination, I'm also nominated as one of the editors of Strange Horizons, which received its second nomination for Best Semiprozine, so congratulations to Niall Harrison, Brit Mandelo, An Owomoyela, Julia Rios, Sonya Taaffe, Rebecca Cross, Anaea Lay, and Shane Gavin.
All that said, I spent the last week less in anticipation and more in trepidation, because as much as I appreciate being nominated for a Hugo I knew that my pride in my nomination would depend a great deal on the makeup of the rest of the ballot, and more than any other year I wanted this one's nominees to be ones that truly reflect the excellence and diversity of the field. As you'll know if you've seen the ballot, my hopes were rewarded in only a very partial fashion. The 2014 Hugo ballot is weirdly bifurcated. The "bottom half," of the ballot, comprising the publishing, fan, and Campbell categories, seems made up, for the most part, of online fandom's dream nominees. The best fan writer category is not only dominated by women but made up solely of online writers. Blogs and online magazines dominate the fanzine and semiprozine categories. There are more women in the professional and fan artist categories than I think have ever been nominated. I'm particularly pleased to see several nominees that I championed on the ballot, some of which--like Mandie Manzano and Sarah Webb in best fan artist, or XKCD's "Time" in best graphic story--make me think (rightly or wrongly) that my endorsement played a real role in getting them a nomination.
But then you come to the fiction categories. Though best short story is solid, the other three categories are not simply dispiriting or embarrassing, but downright infuriating. Let me be clear: Vox Day is a despicable person whose repeated racist, sexist, and homophobic behavior towards specific members of the genre community as well as the community as a whole should make all decent human beings recoil from his presence. That I received my first Hugo nomination on the same ballot that bears his name leaves a vile taste in my mouth. That the rest of the fiction ballot feels, as several people have noted, as if it's recapitulating the culture wars only makes this nomination worse, and confirms me in my feeling that the only people who benefit from award campaigns are those with large and devoted fanbases--whether those fanbases are motivated by love of a particular writer, or the desire to stick it to the lefties (or, as is most likely, both). One can only sigh at Larry Correia's Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles (serious, sigh) making it onto the best novel ballot, or Toni Weisskopf's best editor, long form nomination. (As for the Wheel of Time series making it onto the best novel ballot, I'd just like to say to anyone who voted for this: feel ashamed, because you don't even have the excuse of being a reactionary troll to justify your bad taste.)
All of which leaves me feeling very conflicted. I want to be happy about my nomination and the nominations of so many wonderful and worthy people. But I also can't ignore that this year the Hugos have shown their underpants, and the inherent problems of both the award's system and the ways in which it is being increasingly gamed, to a far greater degree than ever before. The fact is that when the outside world talks about this slate of nominees, what they'll note is the absurd nomination of the Wheel of Time series, and that when we look back on this year, what we'll remember is Vox Day. I'd like to believe that the changes I'm seeing in the smaller, less talked-about categories are creeping upwards, and that in a few years time we'll see them affecting the fiction categories as well. But I remain uncertain, and that's not the feeling I wanted to have on the day after my first Hugo nomination.