Neil Clarke, the editor of Clarkesworld Magazine is very proud of being nominated for a Best Semiprozine Hugo Award this year. Alas, this year the WSFS is voting whether to remove the category from the ballot. Not surprisingly, Mr. Clarke has taken umbrage at this.
The main reasoning behind removing the category seems to be the fact that LOCUS has won the award 22 out of 25 years it has been awarded although the official reason is given as “former semiprozines should not be eligible as magazines, but that their editors should be eligible for Best Editor: Short Form.” I covered this previously in greater detail here.
What I want to talk about is what Mr. Clarke is doing to save the award. He’s created the website Save the Semiprozine Hugo. On this website, Clarke provides a listing of all the publications (and please e-mail him with additions) that are eligible to be nominated for Best Semiprozine. He’s also highlighting a new publication each day and talking about their merit as a semiprozine contender.
Part of the problem with the award is that nominators and voters don't know the contenders well enough. While it can be easy to get your hands on the Best Novel nominees, and these days all the short fiction is online, the voters don’t know where to get the semiprozines. Clarke wants to change this.
There’s no reason for the category to go away. While I assume Charles Brown and the staff at LOCUS enjoy winning their Hugo Awards, I know that they would be very gracious in having someone else win it. In the current issue of LOCUS, Brown discusses this very fact in his editorial and even laments that the motion for an alternate solution, i.e., this year's winner ineligible next year, has not been proposed to the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS). Certainly not proposed and ratified.
So go check out what Clarke has put together. Look at the breadth and depth of publications that are semiprozines. If you're going to Montreal this summer for Worldcon, you can attend the WSFS meeting and vote on this amendment. I would like to see this award remain. If I somehow make it to Montreal, I will be at the meeting so that I can cast my vote to keep this award.
That 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.
I know for a fact that getting contacted and being told you’ve been nominated for a Hugo is quite stirring, and no one should take that honor away from someone else. There are excellent publications who have been on the ballot for long time that are deserving of an award, and there are aspiring publications that may now never get the chance. Let’s not let that happen.
UPDATED: I erroneously implied that people were pushing to remove the award because LOCUS had won it at all. It is more to the fact that LOCUS has won the award 22 out of the 25 times the Best Semiprozine has been awarded that people feel that the award has lost its meaning.