Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Hugo News: Ineligibilities and Withdrawals

There is Hugo news.  Lately it feels like there is nothing but Hugo news, or at least Hugo discussion.  It is THE topic of conversation in the SFF community. But, there are two very significant pieces of news which have come out over the last two days.

The first was announced yesterday, reported at File 770 that two of the nominees were found to be ineligible by the Worldcon committee and were removed from the final Hugo ballot.  First in Novellette, "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus", by John C Wright was discovered to have been published on Wright's website in 2013 and prior to its print publication in The Book of Feasts & Seasons in 2014.  Second in Professional Artist, Jon Eno was found to not have produced any qualifying artwork in 2014. 

Wright's story was replaced on the ballot by "The Day The World Turned Upside Down", by Thomas Olde Heuvelt.  Jon Eno was replaced on the ballot by Kirk DouPonce. 

It is worth noting that Hugo administrator John Lorentz also looked into two novellas (a Wright and the Tom Kratman) and found that their eligibility stands and they will remain on the ballot. 

Overall, big news and important.  One thing that I'm curious about is what sort of precedent is there for this?  It is not uncommon for a work to be found ineligible (see the 2013 incident of Mary Robinette Kowal's "Lady Astronaut of Mars" audiobook declared ineligible), but it occurs behind the scenes prior to the announcement of the final ballot.  This is different, this is two nominees being pulled after the ballot.

This leads into the next piece of news which I find even sadder: Annie Bellet has withdrawn her story "Goodnight Stars" from the Hugo ballot.  Bellet writes,

There will be other years and maybe other rockets. I don’t want to stand in a battlefield anymore. I don’t want to have to think over every tweet and retweet, every blog post, every word I say. I don’t want to cringe when I open my email. I don’t want to have to ask friends to google me and read things so that I can at least be aware of the stuff people might be saying in my name or against my name.

This is not why I write. This is not the kind of community I want to be a part of, nor the kind of award I want to win.

I am not your ball. My fiction is my message, not someone else’s, and I refuse to participate in a war I didn’t start. It has become clear to me that the only way to stay out of this is to pick up my ball and go home. So this year, I will not put on a princess gown sewn with d20s. I will not win a rocket. But I will be able to sleep and know that when I get up, there won’t be fires waiting for me.

I wish Bellet did not make this decision, but I understand why she did. I'm still going to read her story, regardless of this. It was published in The End is Now, the second volume of a tryptich beginning with The End is Nigh, which was excellent. I think that her withdrawing makes leaves the Hugo ballot a poorer place, but this is not to criticize her decision - which will be widely talked about and discussed.

This leads into yet another piece of news which I found in the middle of writing this article.  Marko Kloos, author of the Hugo nominated Lines of Departure, has also withdrawn his acceptance of the Hugo nomination for Best Novel. Lines of Departure is the second in a series which began with Terms of Enlistment. 

I am even more committed to reading Kloos work now than I was before.

The Hugo Awards are a big hot mess right now.  Do I need to check every author and find out what is going on and if anything more is coming?  What happens next? 

At the time of this writing, the withdrawals of Kloos and Bellet have not resulted in additional works taking their slots on the ballot.  This might be unprecedented. 


Kendall said...

Hmm, I imagine withdrawal isn't the same as "whoops, ineligible - something else should've been there." Either that or else the Hugo admins need time to learn officially and react officially. Anyway, I suspect this isn't unique in Hugo history; precedent weighs heavily with Hugo admins, so if it has happened before, I wonder what was done then

I'm mildly curious what VD's plan-for-all-contingencies-and-burn-it-all-down would do if ALL of his precious slate bowed out of the Hugos. Honestly, this won't happen - but the mind fairly boggles.

Interesting and sad times.

Kendall said...

My bad - this is a first.

Joe said...

I thought it might be. And while Kevin says that the disqualified nominees is not unprecedented, I'm curious when the last time a nominee was disqualified after the ballot was announced.

Anonymous said...

The two withdrawn works have been replaced on the ballot, now. I imagine it wasn't instantaneous because I think the Hugo Administrators have to contact the next nominees and offer them the chance to accept or decline before officially adding them to the ballot. It's my understanding that the ballot is now final, though, whether anyone else withdraws or not!

Joe said...

That's what I was waiting for. Unprecedented situation, so they had to take some time to figure out what precedent to set and then, like you said, contact the next nominees up.

I know this is it for ballot changes, but I'm curious if anyone else is going to decline their nominations in the coming months or if the ballots are really set.

If anyone else pulls out, I suspect all that will happen is that those votes won't count in the final tally and everyone moves up a slot.

Kendall said...

Yes, I'm pretty sure that's how it would work - anything else moves up. Of course, the online ballot can be updated any time to remove a withdrawn person/work, which simplifies things for anyone who hasn't voted yet.

Joe said...

Question has been answered in light of Black Gate withdrawing. The ballot is locked.

It opens a new question on whether Black Gate votes will be counted, but time will answer that one.

Kendall said...

Yeah, I've been wondering that. It sounds like the Hugo Administator's just saying "they remain on the ballot"...well, anyway, probably a moot point since anyone who knows they withdrew won't vote for them...

...BUT if they count the votes regardless (IMHO they shouldn't), what happens if they win? I'm guessing they'd decline the rocket, but I think in that case it does not go to the runner-up.

I may be wrong on how that would work.