So, the nominees for the 2014 Hugo Award were announced this weekend. You can find a list of the nominees right here, with links to as many of the nominated works as I can find. That list will be updated as more works are published online. Winners will be announced on August 17, 2014.
As with any year, there are controversies and excitement and disappointment and disgust and pretty much any other emotion that comes with stuff that people care about. Everyone has particular perspectives they bring, works they value higher than others. But, due to the nominations being announced during Easter weekend and the various family events and obligations I have had, I have not been in a position to actively engage in the first rounds of conversation on the nominees. Sarah at Bookworm Blues is intentionally stepping back from the conversation so she can focus on the works and not the arguments. There are arguments.
This is a long preamble to the fact that I am rather pleased, for once, that I had unplugged from genre conversation for a couple of years prior to rengaging this year. I understand and have vague understanding that there have been various issues with Larry Correia and Vox Day, and that there are specifically some very strong opinions on Vox Day.
But, all of that doesn't matter so much to me at this moment. However any of the works made it on the ballot, they are on the ballot. I wish to follow the thoughts of John Scalzi and take the works for what they are and consider them as such. My goal in the coming months is to discover, understand, and discuss the relative merits of the actual works nominated. That's it. Now that this is the ballot, let's talk about the ballot itself.
Because of my reading for the Nebula Awards shortlist, I have read a number of the nominated works, so I am excited see the nominations for Rachel Swirsky, Sofia Samatar, and Aliette de Bodard in the fiction categories and I am even more excited to see how the nominations for Fan Writer and Fanzine have shifted. I have been arguing for years that the modern fanzine is the blog and the various fan writing that occurs in the online communities we see today, and that the more traditional 'zine format, while not dead by any means, does not necessarily reflect what is going on in genre today. Seeing today that most of the nominations for Fanzine and Fan Writer are for blogs and writers who are best known for the writing they have done online is remarkable and a relief. At least in this part of the ballot, there has been a major shift in who fandom is recognizing.
This may be a good time to point out an obvious truth. Each award, whether it is the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, or the Pulitzer, is reflective of who it is that nominated and votes on the awards. The World Fantasy Awards are a juried award, the Nebulas are voted on by members of the SFWA, and the Hugos are nominated and voted on by those who have either purchased a membership to attend Worldcon or have purchased a supporting membership which provides nominating and voting rights. So, despite being the most visible of all genre awards, the Hugo Awards are reflective of the opinions of those who have memberships to Worldcon.
The other point to make is that if you look at previous years, it takes a relative few number of nominations to actually make the final ballot and the margin between making the ballot and not making the ballot can be extremely tight.
One of the more interesting nominations on the ballot is that of The Wheel of Time as a single work, rather than the final volume A Memory of Light. I remember reading commentaries earlier this year talking about how, because no previous volume had been nominated, the series as a whole was also eligible to be nominated and, obviously, sufficient people did, in fact, nominate it. I'm not sure how I feel about that. It works from the perspective of enough fans wanted to honor Robert Jordan for a series that they passionately love, but on the other hand, there are fourteen volumes in the main series, plus a prequel. I'm not sure one can truly compare fifteen books to Ancillary Justice, but that is now what we are asked to do. Or, other people are being asked to do this because I do not have a supporting membership this year (I expect to have one next year).
As a whole, I am interested to take the measure of this lineup of nominees. I love awards season. Let's consider Sofia Samatar and not be bothered by shenanigans and just be in the zone with our books. It's a good thought. I like it.