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.