I’m gonna go out on a limb here. I’m going to assume that at least some of the people that come here like science fiction. I’ll also assume, within that set of people, there is a subset who know about the Hugo Awards and take part in the process to nominate and then vote on the awards. Note: while all Hugos are cool, not all the statuettes are as cool as the ones they had a few years ago in Japan (see left).
Nearly a month ago, Tor.com posted a link to the online Hugo Awards nomination ballot. This is a reminder that nominations are due by February 28, 2009. Now, you need to have been a member of last year’s Worldcon (Denvention 3 in Denver, CO) or a supporting or attending member of this year’s Worldcon (Anticipation in Montreal) before Jan 31, 2009 to be eligible to nominate.
So, if you don’t meet those criteria, sorry, you won’t be able to nominate this year. If you do, and you haven’t nominated yet, you have less than two weeks left!
But wait! There’s more!
Before you dismiss this post—and I can understand if you do: the number of people who nominate and vote compared to the number of total memberships is abysmal—there is validity to the process for both the eligible nominators and for the general public.
First, the awards AND the nominations are not meaningless, despite the low number of nominators/voters. Gavin Grant—intrepid editor of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet and publisher at Small Beer Press—has an excellent post about this very topic. Grant’s point is that for the people who get nominated, it is a big deal. Specifically, he says:
[The honor of nomination] may seem like a joke, but if you’re smart you’ll realize it’s not. Or, you can wait until an award list comes out with your name on it—or you’re on a jury and have to decide the nominations—and then finally you might realize what an honor it actually is.
It can mean the difference between continuing with what you’re doing, or just walking away. I know that getting nominated the last few years for the World Fantasy award has bolstered my commitment to publishing Electric Velocipede. So don’t take this lightly. A nomination might be just the validation a writer needs to continue writing.
Second, as a librarian, I use the award nomination lists as one of the ways to find and recommend work to people. It’s also a way for me to determine what books to order for our science fiction, fantasy, and horror collections. I get asked by other librarians where to start when looking to bolster a genre collection, and I always recommend starting with the award winners and then the nominations. I can’t read or even be aware of everything that’s published, so the award lists are a great starting spot.
[F]or 2008, Locus reports having listed 1,669 new titles in SF, fantasy, horror, and its various cross-pollinations. There were 254 SF novels and 436 fantasy novels alone. Anyone who actually tried to read all of those probably needs a hug, but isn’t someone I want to be trapped in a bar with for very long.
And that doesn’t even begin to consider the amount of short fiction that was published last year. Wolfe’s point is that if your excuse for not nominating is that you haven’t read everything yet: get over yourself. You can’t read everything. Nominate from what you’ve read, and then catch up when the final ballot comes out. Of course, if you’re a judge on a juried award like the World Fantasy Awards, you have a huge, thankless task to go over everything that was published in the previous year.
Fourth, and this is important as both someone making nominations and as a reader, there are a lot site out there that provide recommendations and summaries of the previous year’s work:
Science Fiction Awards Watch pimpage page (this is page with links to authors and publishers who listed all the work they did that was eligible for nomination)
Rich Horton’s yearly summaries (for short fiction: magazines and anthologies; you’ll have to click on the small previous link at the bottom of the page many times in order to access everything)
I’m sure there are more, but these are the ones I check when doing nominations. If you’re getting ready to nominate, these sites can help you remember something you read last year and want to nominate, or can help you find some things to read and consider for nomination. For people who enjoy reading, these sites can help you find the next thing to read. If all the sites recommend City at the End of Time by Greg Bear, then you can consider it a book to investigate. Or maybe Pandemonium by Daryl Gregory (which won this year’s Crawford Award) is a better example as I suspect many of you know about Greg Bear’s book from last year.
Remember, if you are eligible to nominate, please do so! You only have until February 28, 2009! And even if you aren’t eligible, you can still reap the rewards as a reader and fan.