Caution: Cranky blogging follows. I’ve been reading about Lenin and Stalin, and my patience with First World folly is rather low. You’ve been warned.
It’s been said several times in several ways that truth is stranger than fiction, because fiction readers demand a certain level of logic and wrapping up of loose ends, with limits to the characters’ follies. Reality? Can be head-shakingly daft without getting blue-penciled by the Great Editor.
So the latest is: authors who want the Hugo Award but only if the right people nominate their books. Or, to be more correct, so long as the wrong people do not nominate their books. Stop and think about that for a moment. Authors are contacting the coordinators of recommendation lists and asking to be removed from the recommendation lists. They do not want their work recommended for the best of science fiction/fantasy if that recommendation comes from [Brand X] list.
The Hugo is supposed to be an award given at the World Science Fiction and Fantasy convention (this year in KC, Missouri) for the best work in one of several fields, including movie, novel, short story, novella, short visual work (TV episode type thing), best artist pro and amateur, and others. People nominate works in the different categories, the Con organizers take the most-named nominations for the ballot, people go read and watch, then come back and vote. It is more complicated than that in reality, but that’s the basic idea. You read and watch stuff, name the works you think are outstanding, vote for the works you think are the best, and see who wins.
Except it’s no longer that simple (if it ever was.) I won’t get into all the ins-n-outs from the last four years, but it has been claimed that some suggestion lists are biased, corrupt, are really attempts to rig the recommendations and ballots, and that those involved are trying to set the field back 50, or 70, years to the Bad Old Days. Other suggestion lists are just fine.
Some people have said that before a work is recommended to one of the various lists, the fan who liked it should get permission from the author or artist to recommend the work. Think about that: you should get permission to tell other people that you really liked a book/story/painting/film enough to want it to win a major international award.
This would be headshakingly silly, except some people have been threatened that their careers will be ruined if their works are recommended by the wrong people. There have been threats made to writers on the “bad” lists that “I’ll never read your book because so-and-so likes it and you must be as nasty/racist/sexist as so-and-so.” And worse, if some of what I’ve read is true. I’m not on (anti)social media so I miss most of the storms.
We are not talking about, oh, let’s call it ‘The “Pitchfork” Ben Tillman Memorial Literary Award’ for the work that contributes the most to white supremacy. We’re talking about the World Science Fiction Award, the trophy that shows this book/story/film/article is the best of the year in Sci fi and Fantasy, as decided by people who read, watch, and enjoy sci fi and fantasy.
I don’t have a dog, cat, mule, or cranky rooster in the fight. I just want to read and watch good stuff, write good stuff, and tell stories that people like to read. And I believe that no one should have to worry about their career being ruined because the so-called wrong fans loved their short story.
As I said last year: Read what you like, watch what you like, recommend to your friends what you like. And enjoy and appreciate the freedom to do so.