The Hugo Awards. Let's do Better this Year.

The Hugo Awards are here again and it should be a moment when I'm excited. I love science fiction and fantasy and having a list of books that came out that are good should make me happy. But sadly the last few years the Hugo Awards have left a bad taste in my mouth and so before that happens this year I'd like to make a few minor suggestions to the people involved.


The first one would be please, leave the politics out of it. I'm not saying you can't like things that lean towards your political preponderances or even vote for those. What I'm saying is that you shouldn't vote for or nominate something because of a political message. If you don't feel you can support a writer because of something that truly offends you I understand that, and even respect it in some sense, but that doesn't mean you should nominate someone just because they will counter that. You should vote for the people who write good stories and leave the politics at home. Your opinions and views can inform what you like, but they shouldn't override it.


Next, please try to think for yourself. The first of these is please, read the stories before you vote and if you haven't read enough to have an opinion then feel free to not voice an opinion. There is no shame in deciding not to vote. This shouldn't be all that hard. From time to time you may read a story that you really don't care for, (There have been more than a few especially in the short fiction categories that I just didn't like.) but it's easy enough to just not vote for it and exposing yourself to new ideas isn't all that hard. I have no idea if there are slates of stories that people are "supposed" to vote for this year. I honestly don't want to look it up because the whole mess annoys me. But ever if you agree with people and think it's a good idea at least look at all the stories first so you can have some credibility and the awards don't become a complete farce.


And most importantly, if we could all just try to act like adults that would be great. And I'm sure everyone is now assuming that it's the other people who are acting childishly. That their side of the issue is great but the other people are awful. Here's the problem. If you're on a side of this you're part of the problem. If you think that science fiction needs diversity I'm right there with you, but we don't have some magical page limit and the gatekeepers have been largely kicked to the curb. Anyone can publish their own book and put it within reach of anyone in the world. And while encouraging what is left of the establishment to be more open is great the awards ceremony isn't the place to do it.


On the other hand if you happen to think that people are being picked for awards for reasons other than the quality of the writing then don't vote for them. You can even point out, respectfully, what you think should have won and suggest good stories to read. What you can't do is act like the world is coming to and end because the same thing that happened to other people for most of history might be happening to you. Is there some backlash against the old white men who have been the most common winners of hugo awards. Probably. Is that fair to the current writers, many of who weren't involved in that. No, not really and I hope that we can find the balance. But the truth is that sometimes when you correct a problem you over correct. That's not entirely fair, but then the world has never been entirely fair.


I can almost hear people now shouting that the other people started it. The name calling and accusations of cheating are already starting in my mind and I've avoided the subject. And that's my point about being adults. "He started it" isn't the argument any adult should ever use. It annoys me when children use that. More importantly, you're not winning any converts to yourself in all this. You're not making the hugos better you're making them far far worse. So please grow the hell up. Stop calling each other names and take the advice of someone far wiser than me and be the change that you want to see in the world.  

Elton GahrComment