The 2018 Hugo Awards: A Few Comments As Nominations Open

The nomination period for the 2018 Hugo awards opened a few days ago, and will conclude at 23:59 on March 16th.  Anyone who became a member of either the 2018 or 2019 Worldcons before December 31st, 2017 is eligible to nominate (if you think you're eligible and haven't received an email with your PIN, there are details on how to get it here).  As has become my practice, I have a few comments as we go into this period.

First, if you are eligible to nominate this year, I'd like to urge you to exercise your right.  The Hugo belongs to all of us, and it is at its best when as many people as possible, from as many walks of life as possible, participate in it.  You don't have to nominate in every category (I won't be), and you don't have to fill your ballot in the categories you nominate in (ditto).  But if you've come across eligible work in this last year that you think deserves recognition, please take a moment to push it forward.  As usual, there are a ton of resources to help you find good nominees, from the 2018 Hugo Recommendation Spreadsheet (which you can also help update) and 2018 Hugo Wiki, to the Campbell-eligible authors list, to the Hugo fan and pro artist tumblr.

Second, I've been very proud, in the last few years, to put up my own ballot and suggest work that I think is worthy of consideration.  In particular, I've enjoyed the challenge of poring through the year's short fiction and finding genuinely exciting, boundary-pushing work every single year.  That said, looking at this year's shorter-than-normal nominating period, and especially in consideration of the fact that I have several writing projects planned for the next few weeks, I just don't think I'm going to have the time for that kind of reading project this year.  So, with apologies to both readers and authors, I'm taking this year off.  I still plan to post my ballot in other categories (in particular, reading for my New Scientist column last year means that I'm probably as well-versed as I'll ever be in the previous year's SF novels), and I may do enough novella reading to have nominees there, but I'm afraid that in the novelette and short story categories I'll have to wait and see what the other voters come up with.

Third, this is something that I was pretty sure I wanted to do last August, but I gave myself some time to consider it, and now I'm certain: I'd like it known that if I were to receive a nomination in the Best Fan Writer category for the 2018 Hugos, I would respectfully decline the nomination.

I've debated with myself about whether and how to make this announcement.  Not, to be very clear, because I'm uncertain about not wanting to be a nominee again.  Without sounding like I'm complaining--since it all turned out so wonderfully in the end--being a prospective and then actual Hugo nominee is one of the most stressful experiences I've ever had.  It certainly didn't help that the period during which I became a viable candidate coincided so perfectly with the various puppies' campaign against the awards, so that on top of the regular pressures of will I be nominated/will I win, I spent a lot of my time wondering whether my nomination would be scuttled by a fascist terror campaign (which is, in fact, what happened in 2015 and 2016).  By the time 2017 rolled around, I had been on the Hugo merry-go-round for four years, and it was pretty hard for me to enjoy the convention or the lead-up to the awards from wondering whether this was finally going to be my year.

So while I may one day want to be nominated for the Hugo again (and maybe in another category too, if I'm eligible), I have no interest in going through the whole rigmarole again so soon, and especially when you consider that there are several other great potential nominees whose crack at the Hugo was scuttled by puppy interference.  It seems like absolutely the right thing to stand back.

So why was I hesitant?  Because I don't think it's the place of prospective nominees to tell voters how to nominate.  A few years ago--before the puppies derailed almost all of our conversations about this award--it was the fashion for winners in some categories, and Best Fan Writer in particular, to request from the podium that voters not nominate them next year.  I agreed with the sentiment and respected the commitment these pleas showed, but I was also made a little uncomfortable by them--as I am by my own actions now.  I think it might be worthwhile to consider a cooling off period in some of the Hugo categories, that would preclude nominees who have won in the last two or three years from being nominated again.  But absent that rule, I feel like I'm telling people what to do with their vote, which isn't my place.

So why am I nevertheless making this statement?  Because I don't think that I need to.  As much as I tend to disagree with the Hugo voters' tastes, the last few years have taught me a deep respect for their judgment.  I think the same considerations I've listed here--she's already won, and there are a lot of other people who missed out on a nomination in this category because of the puppies--is going through the heads of a lot of people as they put together their 2018 ballots.  I think that, even without announcing that I will decline a Best Fan Writer nomination, I wasn't very likely to get one this year, which paradoxically makes me feel more comfortable about making this about my own needs.

And that is all I have to say about the 2018 Hugo nominations at this point.  I'll be back next month with my partial ballot.  Happy nominating!


McAllen said…
Do you think the puppy factions won't be a factor this year? I know you mentioned last year their presence was greatly reduced.
My sense is that already last year, they were pretty much over. Some of the lower-participation categories (fan writer and fan artist in particular) still had puppy-supported nominees, but by the voting phase their support had completely eroded.

That doesn't mean they couldn't come back this year, but the impression I get is that the bloom has come off the rose for them. They know exactly what will happen if they crash the nominations, and instead of spending more time and money just so they can lose to No Award, I think they've decided to declare victory and move on. Sadly, it's not as if there aren't plenty of other arenas more congenial to fascist takeovers.

What I have been seeing lately is some of the puppy fellow travelers climbing back from under their rocks and trying to pretend nothing happened. See the whole business with Jon del Arroz, or Lou Antonelli and Dave Freer's bizarre campaign against Foz Meadows. There are still forces within fandom who want to chase out women, POC, and fiction that reflects progressive politics, but their tactics have changed and, for the moment at least, aren't as effective as what we've seen in the past.

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