The 2016 Hugo Awards: A Few Thoughts as Nominations Open

On Wednesday, the good folks at MidAmericon II announced the beginning of the nominating period for the 2016 Hugo awards, which will run until March 31st.  If you're like me, you've maybe been treasuring the period of relative peace and quiet since last year's Hugos were announced at the end of August, and are a little hesitant to launch yourself back into the conversation that surrounds these awards--which may, or may not, end up as fraught and starkly political as it was last year.  Let us, however, try to remember that nominating and voting for the Hugos can--and should--be fun, a way of discovering and discussing what was excellent and worth recognizing in last year's genre conversation.  To that end, here are a few points of order, and pointers, for those of you thinking of, or planning to, nominate in the Hugos.

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.
MidAmericon has started sending out emails to all eligible nominators containing their membership number and PIN, which will allow you to nominate online.  If you think you're eligible to nominate this year and haven't received a PIN by February 5th, you can query at

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.


You're right, I had the wrong link. Though the new tumblr hasn't been updated recently either.
Aoede said…
I'm a bit confused about your section re: awards eligibility posts. Don't most AEPs contain links and by definition only contain the works from the past year?

On reread, maybe "they are utterly useless" bit wasn't meant to be a lead-in to the "don't want to trawl" bit?

In any case, to me AEPs serve a very different purpose from recs/longlists/etc., and I wish every author with an online presence would put them out -- in the absence of some kind of magic centralized database that automatically kept track of every single arguably SFF work published, in realtime, with wordcounts and pub dates and various other categories, ready for the sort-and-filtering...
Unknown said…
Hi Abigail - the 2015hugoart.tumblr is a separate tumblr. I'm shifting focus with hugoeligibleart.tumblr this year, because I was concerned that the artists on the receiving end of the bulk mailouts I did last few years would find them very spammish.

I think the current Hugo artist categories are very broken and it would be far more interesting to focus on individual pieces of artists, rather than two categories that break down to "work artists were paid for by x type of company" and "work artists did for themselves or were paid for by y type of company" (which is what 'professional' and 'fan' break down to).

This year I'm just going to link to fan art(ists) to try to raise the profile of some excellent fan art out there (and to strict to a closer definition of fan art as being in the intellectual property of someone else).

I would love to see the categories change, and have many ideas about them, but since I rarely attend WorldCon, trying to get something through WorldCon voting (requiring two years attendance in a row) doesn't work for me.

Greg Hullender said…
Have you looked at Rocket Stack Rank? We've tried to collect as much data as possible to make it easier for people to make nominations without having to invest in a giant research project.

Yes, my problem is that if you post about your award eligibility in January and I show up at your site in March, I'm not going to trawl through your archives to find your post. A bibliography will do the trick much better.


Thanks for the clarification. I definitely agree with your comments about the problems with the fan and pro artist categories. I see so much fan art cross my tumblr dash and twitter feed, and hardly any of it is considered for the Hugo because it doesn't come out of Hugo fandom. Meanwhile, there's fan art being created by professional artists (Brian Kessinger's Force Awakens/Calvin and Hobbes mashups come most powerfully to mind). I'd definitely like to nominate work like that, but it clearly doesn't make any sense to designate Kessinger a fan artist (nor fair to other nominees in the category).

I think the core problem is that not a lot of people care about the art categories, professional or fan. So reevaluating and reforming them will be an uphill battle.


That looks really fantastic. Thanks for the link.

Popular posts from this blog

Everything Everywhere All at Once


Recent Reading Roundup 56