Mon
Jan 25 2010 5:26pm
2010 Hugo Awards Open for Nominations

It’s that time of year again: the Hugo Awards nominations are open! They officially opened on January 1, 2010 and will remain open until March 31, 2010 March 13, 2010. This year, the Hugos will be awarded at AussieCon 4 in Melbourne, Australia (I actually assume you all knew where Melbourne is, but hey, maybe I meant Melbourne, FL). That means that you have to be at least a supporting member of this year’s convention, or a supporting or attending member of last year’s convention in Montreal, Canada in order to make nominations.

If you aren’t already a member, past or present, a supporting membership to this year’s convention will set you back: US or CAN $50; AU $70; € 35; £25; or ¥4,900. The trick is, you have to buy a supporting membership by the end of January in order to be eligible to nominate.

This is an annual dilemma I face. On the one hand, I feel that $50 is a lot of money just for the privilege of nominating and then voting on the Hugo Awards. On the other hand, I personally feel that nominating for and voting on the Hugo Awards is one of the most important things I do in regards to the field. Having won a Hugo (that’s me having breakfast with my Hugo in the photo), I feel this even more strongly.

It’s not that I feel that the Hugo Awards and the Hugo Awards alone are the lynchpin upon which the continued existence of science fiction depends. For me, the whole process of the Hugo Awards showcases how the science fiction and fantasy field relies on its fanbase. Without people to enjoy and appreciate the books and magazines and art pieces and movies and websites that we all make, we don’t get to keep making them.

Now, there are many strong arguments about the insignificance of the Hugos due to the small number of people who nominate and vote. There are others who feel that the awards are not truly nominating and awarding the best work from the previous year. And others want more diversity in terms of gender and people of color on the ballot.

But I think if more people bought memberships and nominated and voted, the diversity would improve, particularly on the nomination side of the equation. It’s impossible for any one person to read every science fiction or fantasy piece published in a given year, so in order to hit as broad a spectrum as possible, the pool from which you draw needs to be larger. I still feel that $50 is a big hurdle for many people, and I’d like to see a $25 voting-only membership (no program or progress reports, just a PIN for nominating and voting). I guess I better get off my butt and go propose that, eh?


John Klima is the editor of Electric Velocipede, which won a Hugo in 2009. He is going over his reading from 2009 in order to put together his 2010 Hugo Awards nomination ballot.

14 comments
J M McDermott
1. J M McDermott
Perhaps this is obvious, but the price tag also seems to promote the sort of fiction that folks who can afford fifty dollars for the privilege of voting on a Hugo would enjoy.

For me, and my budget - and I get by just fine, thank you - that's a hefty price tag for the privilege of shouting "Aye" from across the pond.

Ergo, the sort of stuff that a particular audience, with more disposable income than most, would be favored in the nominations.

Just an observation of the obvious. I'm sure it's been brought up before in one of the many discussions of the award.
J M McDermott
2. Vincent Docherty
John,

many thanks for posting about the Hugo Nominations.

One small correction to your article - the deadline for nominations is 13th March.

regards,

Vincent Docherty
2010 Hugo Award Administrator
J M McDermott
3. jere7my
I was going to complain about how the Hugos, in recent years, have become American-dominated and heavily swayed by authors' personalities and fan involvement. Then I saw this:

"Be wary of as a stamp of quality: it's voted by a minority of each year's World SF Convention members, and is thus (a) American-dominated; (b) heavily swayed by authors' personalities and fan involvement."

—Dave Langford, White Dwarf #88, April 1987
J M McDermott
4. JaniceG
This is a discussion that crops up from time to time.

{soapbox} I'm one of the people who is not in favor of a cheaper voting membership for the Hugos. The Hugo Awards are not a general recognition award for the best in science fiction and fantasy voted on by all fans of the genre but are specifically an award handed out by the members of the World Science Fiction Convention every year. The right to nominate and vote for them is just a part of the benefits of membership in the worldcon. If people want to create another award that more closely reflects a general fan opinion (such as People's Choice awards) and find someone to handle the nominations, run the election, tally the votes, and create and present the physical awards, I would be all for that. In the meantime, I don't think that having the Hugos be awarded by members of a specific group is any more or less prejudicial than the Grammys or the Academy Awards, which also are presented by a specific group that requires membership in that group and does not allow outside people to purchase a vote. {/soapbox}
John Klima
5. john_klima
@JM yeah, I definitely feel you. I can nominate due to my membership from last year, but I honestly don't think I have the budget for $50 this year to vote, which makes me kind of sad.

@Vincent I've updated the date in the main post, it looks like my either my fingers transposed the date or my brain just ran things to the end of the month.

@jere7my although Mr. Langford has won his share of Hugos... :)

@JaniceG I understand what you're saying. The point isn't to create a popular award. I can only speak for myself here, but Worldcon is my least favorite convention. The only reason I buy a membership is so I can vote on the Hugos. I don't read the progress reports or the final program. So for me, the Hugo Awards are the only thing I take out of joining Worldcon every year.
Soon Lee
6. SoonLee
It’s impossible for any one person to read every science fiction or fantasy piece published in a given year, so in order to hit as broad a spectrum as possible, the pool from which you draw needs to be larger.

This year is my first time nominating & I'm finding that cost is definitely an issue. I don't subscribe to many magazines (Asimov's & Interzone) and I don't buy many harcover novels (HCs are more expensive so I'd only buy HCs by writers I already know I like & hold off buying the newer writers until the paperbacks are available by which time those books are no longer eligible for the Hugos), so the pool of 2009 stuff that I have read isn't great. Plus I don't have the time to read as much as I'd like. So it's not that surprising that the Hugos not as diverse as it might be. I don't have a solution to the problem.
J M McDermott
7. jere7my
John@5: Langford addresses that in the very next sentence: "However, my own Hugo was for sheer merit, cross my heart." ;)
Chris Meadows
8. Robotech_Master
Apropos of nothing, I'd just like to say it's nice to see someone with the sense to include a bottle of Sriracha on his breakfast table. :)
René Walling
9. cybernetic_nomad
@SoonLee: I only bought two books published last year, am not subscribed to any magazines, buy a handful of obscure comics every few months and only went to see a handful of movies in theatres. My budget currently doesn't allow for much more.

It doesn't stop me from nominating. I can read a pile of short stories (and even some novels) online for free, drop by the library, borrow books and comics from friends, rent DVDs, etc...

I only read three novels published in 2009, I will not nominate them all for Hugos, but one of those will be on my nomination form.
Soon Lee
10. SoonLee
cybernetic_nomad @9:

Indeed. I shall be nominating works that I have read/seen that I think are worthy.
steve davidson
11. crotchetyoldfan
some folks, including myself, the SFAwards site and others are offering suggestions for those who can be swayed by such (or those who are looking for good adds).

Keep in mind the location for this year's con and the fact that Japanese SF in translation has been coming on strong. I expect to see a good, non-North American return this year.

And finally, remember, you DO NOT have to nominate in every category, nor do you have to fill in all five blanks in each category. And you can put yourself in there if you are so inclined.
Michael Walsh
12. MichaelWalsh
"$50 is a big hurdle for many people"

Ah, but I know of a few thousand people for whom the membership fee is not hurdle.

They're the folks who are members of Worldcon who do not bother to nominate or vote.

Looking at the Montreal Worldcon, this page - http://www.anticipationsf.ca/English/Membership - says they have 3500 members.

For the Hugos, 799 nomination ballots were received: http://www.anticipationsf.ca/English/Hugos

I suspect those non-voting members are a fairly diverse group.
J M McDermott
13. pdackerman
I feel that podcasts are rejuvenating the genre and are free. Seems that they are eligible, but the $50 may put listens off voting for them.

Personally I love the StarShipSofa, it's a podcast of the fans, by the fans and for the fans. The Sofa has the greatest writers plus interviews, essays, reviews, poetry, science news and beautiful art. What more could you ask for and it is free :-)
J M McDermott
14. Robyn Bradshaw
@pdackerman - well said!

StarShipSofa has turned fans all over the world into contributors, and the result is a top quality weekly show. In terms of quality content and numbers of subscribers and contributers, this podcast has got to be worthy of a Best Fanzine nomination. Voters, I encourage you to consider.

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