Yesterday saw another interesting post on this years Hugo ballot by Dribble of Ink’sAidan Moher. In the comments to his well thought out piece, Shan states that:
There’s a lot of posting going on this year about the Hugos but it all comes back to the same point: this is a popularity contest. It’s never been about worthiness. The only way you’re going to get worthiness is by making it a juried award involving some poor unfortunates having to read everything which is eligible, and even then it will be “worthy according to their particular tastes”.
This argument often pops us when someone dares to criticise who was nominated. Yes it’s a popularity award. Yes the Hugos are not about worthiness per se. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t question or critique the choices made by the Hugo nominating public. There’s no right answer, but by having the discussion, by noting – as Aidan does – other books that should have appeared on the ballot, the dialogue is kept alive and the Hugos becomes something more than just a static list of nominees.
I go back to another popular voted award, the Ditmars, and how that’s changed over the last decade since fans in Australia started taking note of issues such as gender bias. You only need to compare the results of the last 5 years to those of the previous 5 years in all the fiction categories to see that there’s been a shift in the nomination process – one that is more gender balanced. And that’s because fan treated the Ditmar ballots as a living document and something worth discussing – even if some of those conversations got a little… bit… heated.
On a lighter note, these rants, for lack of a better word, have become so common place that Jim Hines decided to take the piss out of them before they started appearing on the interwebs.
I was going to talk about the actual ballot, but I’ll leave my thoughts on the remaining categories for another night. I’ve got episodes of Archer to watch!