Could The Wheel of Time Win a Hugo Award?

Hail, people of Tor.com! Leigh Butler here, of The Wheel of Time Reread. Today, in addition to a Reread, I bring you some interestingly weird news (at least I think so), and an even more interesting (I hope) request.

It will BLOW YOUR MIND, y’all. Or, well, it will at least severely ruffle your bangs. You will need a comb, I’m not kidding.

…And, yeah. Anyway, to find out what the heck I’m blathering about, click the jump!

So as you know, Bob, it is a new year, and that means two things: (a) screwing up every time you have to write the date on anything, and (b) awards season. For the SF/F community no less than any other, as today opens the nominations for the Hugo Awards.

Which is a thing I bet most of y’all have heard tell about at one point or another, but in case you are new, and/or have been living in an SF/F-deprived alternate universe for a while and only just gotten back, that link explains it pretty well. Basically, the Hugos are the Oscars of the SF/F community, and to be awarded one is… well, it’s the shiznit, not to put too fine a point on it.

As a Wheel of Time-adjacent person, this would obviously have been relevant to my interests in any case, as the final novel in the series, A Memory of Light, was published in 2013 and is therefore eligible to be nominated for Best Novel. HOWEVER, I was recently contacted by Jennifer Liang, Chair of JordanCon and WOT fan extraordinaire, with a proposal that was far more interesting, and so now I put it to you for your consideration.

Jennifer herself lays it out very cogently in her post on Dragonmount, which I encourage you to read, but for those with an allergy to clicking links, I will quote the heart of her proposal for you here:

In re-reading the WSFS Constitution recently, I saw this clause in the Hugo eligibility rules:

3.2.6: Works appearing in a series are eligible as individual works, but the series as a whole is not eligible. However, a work appearing in a number of parts shall be eligible for the year of the final part.

Simply put, because no portion of The Wheel of Time has ever been nominated for a Hugo, the entire series became eligible as a single work when it was completed.

This, as you might agree, is really interesting. The case that Jennifer is making is that since none of the Wheel of Time novels (with the arguable exception of The Eye of the World) can stand alone, but instead are installments of one huge overarching story that only stand when taken all together, therefore it is not only fair but appropriate to nominate the entire series as a unit for the Best Novel award, now that the story is complete.

Jennifer also goes on to point out that there is precedent for this interpretation of the rules, if not on this scale. In 2011, Connie Willis’s duology, Black Out and All Clear, were nominated for Best Novel together (and won); similarly, the entire first season of HBO’s Game of Thrones was nominated in the “Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form” category in 2012 (and also won).

The administrators of the Hugos have declined to rule on this interpretation unless and until it becomes an issue, and therefore that’s precisely what Jennifer (and many other WOT fans) propose to make it, by encouraging those of us who feel that the contribution made by the Wheel of Time series to the genre of epic fantasy ought to be recognized by the community at large to put our money where our mouth is, so to speak, and nominate the series, as opposed to just the last novel in it, for the Hugo.

My personal feeling on the technicalities of it, aside from any opinion on the Wheel of Time itself, is that the argument is legit. In a genre positively rife with serialization and sweeping, writ-large stories which often cannot be confined to one unit of storytelling (i.e. one novel) for purely practical reasons, it makes sense to me that where that situation applies, the community should be allowed to reward a work as a whole, instead of just individual chunks of it.

As regards the Wheel of Time series specifically, I am (obviously) biased on its behalf, for any number of reasons, but I would contend that even those who do not care for the series themselves must acknowledge the huge impact and influence the Wheel of Time series has had upon the genre in general, and I feel that it is only appropriate that that impact be recognized and honored on the occasion of its completion.

And I feel, even more importantly, that the contribution of its main author should also be recognized and honored. With no disrespect to Brandon Sanderson, of course, who has already been (quite rightly) awarded by the Hugos in his own right, but I do feel it is a tragic oversight that Robert Jordan has not yet received similar recognition for his work, which has influenced so many of the greatest SF writers of our day. And this proposal, I feel, is the best way to address that oversight.

Therefore, O my Peeps, I exhort you: if you can and will, please consider nominating the Wheel of Time series as a whole for the Hugo Award for Best Novel, and spread the word so that others might do the same.

It should be made clear, by the way, that this is my personal opinion and endorsement, which the lovely folks at Tor.com have graciously allowed me to express on their site but otherwise maintain strict neutrality on the subject, as is right and proper. The Hugos have always been about the community at large deciding what to honor, and it is in that capacity, as a fan, that I am endorsing this notion. I hope that you will agree.

So go! Join! Nominate! Vote! Participate! And maybe help make Hugo history, eh? I can think of worse things to do with your time!


Leigh Butler is a writer, blogger, and opinionator for Tor.com, where she conducts The Wheel of Time Reread and A Read of Ice and Fire, and is deeply disappointed that she cannot afford to go to London this year, because that would be badass. She currently lives in New Orleans.

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