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Hugo Nominees 2015: Voting

For some time I've had a tab about Samuel Delaney and this year's Hugos open in my browser. It's a good article because it discusses racism and the Hugos, and it's not an article I'm comfortable with because it's continuing the theme of Delaney The Token Black Science Fiction Writer. It's a work in progress, but the science fiction community is becoming more diverse.

Race issues aside, it says something that this year's Hugo drama has been covered by mainstream journalism. Whether something about the science fiction community, or about the movement of geeks from a fringe group to a more central place in American culture, or something else, I'm not sure.

The tradition of the Hugos elevates the reader's direct and unmediated relationship with SF/F to such a degree that, not too long ago, mentioning your work was eligible for nomination for the Hugos was considered too forward. Or maybe it grew out of the Hugos as an award administered by a small, tightly knit community, which is reflected in some degree of fluidity between the pro and amateur categories.

Some voters tossed anything on the slate off their ballots, an approach that I respect, especially after trying to read the puppy-pushed works. When I decided to read the nominees and vote as I normally would, not letting the nomination bias affect my reading, I had some reservations. If something on the slate demonstrated technical excellence, would I be able to vote for it in good conscience, considering the bad behavior that brought it to my attention?

I didn't have to worry about that. I voted No Award in three of the four fiction categories, because the nominees weren't Hugo material, and dithered mightily about my Best Novel rankings... but not about how to rank the puppy-nominated novels. In my opinion, the puppy slates didn't promote work I recognized as the best fiction written in the SF/F field in 2014. Slogging though average to outright bad writing in the fiction categories put a dent in my enthusiasm for exposing myself to work in the other categories, so in many of the non-fiction categories I either didn't vote, or voted with imperfect knowledge, specifically against the shoddy work the puppies promoted.

Reading the fiction nominees encouraged me to clarify my feelings about things I like and things that are the best work in the field. Some work can be innovative, or demonstrate a high level of technical skill, or insight into science fiction and fantasy, without capturing my heart. Some work can be other than innovative or notably skilled, but exactly what I want while having a tough day. Sometimes you just need to pull the covers up with chicken soup and David Weber infodumping about Honor Harrington being right and everyone opposing Honor being so, so wrong. Or rediscovering the adventures of a cross-cultural legends and folk literature major stranded on a planet where magic works, with light romance. (There's a discussion to be had about The Gate of Ivory as genre. Which I might break out into a different post, because I started really thinking about it.)

So now I have evaluated the puppy slates on their own merits, and having done that once, I can say I can use any future slates as guidelines of work I can skip without missing something amazing, or even likely relevant to my interests, either in excellence in genre or particular types of SF/F.

This entry cross-posted at http://ase.dreamwidth.org/654318.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.