First, a note on eligibility. You are eligible to nominate for the 2016 Hugo awards if you are
- An attending or supporting member of Sasquan, the 2015 Worldcon in Spokane, Washington.
- An attending or supporting member of MidAmericon II, the 2016 Worldcon in Kansas City, Missouri, and became so by January 31st, 2016.
- An attending or supporting member of Worldcon 75, the 2017 Worldcon in Helsinki, Finland, and became so by January 31st, 2016. Note: if you voted in the site selection ballot for the 2017 Worldcon, which was held last summer at Sasquan, your voting fee was automatically converted into a supporting membership of the 2017 Worldcon, regardless of who you voted for. You should already have received an email from the Worldcon 75 administrators informing you of your membership and asking your permission to pass on your contact details to the MidAmericon award administrators.
Note that only members of MidAmericon itself will be eligible to vote on the final winners of the 2016 Hugos. That, however, is down the line. If you like (or hate) how the nominations shake out and feel that you want to vote on the winners, you can buy a supporting membership in the convention after they're announced, which will give you voting rights.
The announcement that Hugo nominations are open (as well as the nominating periods for several other awards, such as the BSFA and the Nebula) is usually accompanied by authors putting up "award eligibility posts," followed by a discussion of whether this is a good thing or whether it makes the entire process into a PR effort. I've already said my piece on this subject, so at the present I'll just repeat what feels to me like the most important point from that essay, which is that my problem with award eligibility posts is less that they're crass and commercialized, and more that for their stated purpose, they are utterly useless. I don't want to trawl through an author's blog history to find the list of works they published last year. What I want is a bibliography--easily found, up-to-date, and ideally sorted by publication date and containing links to works that are available online or for purchase as ebooks. If you haven't got one of those on your website, I have to question how seriously you want my vote.
As I've done in previous years, I'll be posting my own Hugo ballot closer to the end of the nominations period, probably near the beginning or middle of March. In the meantime, if you've found yourselves overwhelmed by the wealth of material available, or are struggling to figure out who to nominate in out-of-the-way categories like Best Related Work or Best Fan Artist, there are several excellent resources that can help you narrow (or widen) your search. Note that most of these are likely to be updated continuously throughout the nominating period.
- The 2016 Hugo Nominees Wikia is still in its infancy, but is a good place to start looking for ideas.
- For the second year in a row, the good folks at Ladybusiness are maintaining a Hugo recommendations spreadsheet, which you can read and edit.
- The contributors at the blog Nerds of a Feather have aggregated their ballots into a Hugo "longlist," with lots of links to the stuff available online. You can find their suggestions in four blog posts (1, 2, 3, 4).
- The Hugo Eligible Art tumblr has been a little quiet recently, and especially for someone like myself, who struggles to find nominees in the Best Fan Artist category, I hope they emerge from slumber soon. At any rate, I'd be interested in having a longer conversation about what constitutes a fan artist, and what kind of work we'd like to see nominated for a Hugo, out of all the wide world of fan art available online.
- Writertopia's Campbell Eligiblity Page is still the best resource for finding nominees for this award, which recognizes new writers in the field.
- Finally, with both the BSFA and Nebula awards seeking nominations at the same time as the Hugos are, there are resources related to those two awards that are also useful for Hugo nominators. The BSFA have, for the first time, introduced a longlist stage into their nominations process. You can find the longlist in this google doc, including links to works available online. The members of the SFWA, meanwhile, are maintaining a "suggested reading list" for the Nebula award, which may also be of interest.
I said this already after last year's Hugo results were announced, but we are in a unique position this year. In 2015, thousands of people showed up to decisively make the point that the Hugos belong not to an embittered cluster who call the award illegitimate if it recognizes work they don't care for, but to anyone who shows up. All of those people now have nominating rights, and they could have a tremendous effect on how this year's award looks--if they choose to show up again. Next year, the Hugos will probably change again, as the anti-slate measures approved in last year's business meeting take effect (assuming they're ratified in this year's meeting, which they probably will be). So this year we're on the cusp, which is where interesting things often happen. If you have nominating rights for this year's Hugos, please consider using them, even if only on a few categories, and even if you don't feel that knowledgeable. The whole point of the Hugos is to reflect fandom in all its many forms. Let's see if we can make that happen.