Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Hugo Awards / life goes on

First things first! During my week-plus, post-Hugo Awards disappearance from social media, many people emailed, messaged, or otherwise contacted me with well-wishes and support. Some people inferred from my silence that I was taking it hard that (a) "Championship B'tok" did not win a Hugo in its category and/or (b) the Puppy-related nominees (my story being in that category) were, as a group, rebuked in the voting.

To everyone who reached out: thanks! I apologize if I caused anyone undue concern. I appreciate the kind notes and solidarity. (And I will respond, directly and individually, to each of you. It'll just take a few more days.)  

Ed & Ruth at Hugo reception
Would I have liked to take home a rocket? Sure. Even more, though, I'd have preferred -- as will be discussed later in this post -- that the overall awards situation had been different.

But in the greater scheme of things? I'm good. No, better than good. The con was fun. I caught up with friends from around the country, went to some great parties, met with lots of fans, and took part in interesting panels. I even brought home a memento I can wear at Worldcons ever after (click/enlarge the image above to see my official Hugo Nominee rocket lapel pin).

My recent absence from the web has a simple explanation: Ruth and I went from Sasquan in Spokane straight to Glacier National Park in Montana. From there we went to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, then to Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho. I'm just now back online. Someday, perhaps, I'll blog about those parks -- geology and ecology are also apt topics for SF and Nonsense.

(Either way, there's nothing like seeing up-close and personal the truly awesome power of Nature to put our petty squabbles into perspective. And if I'd had a decent Internet connection -- which, usually, I didn't -- I had different goals for my vacation time than hanging out on the web.)

For today, I'll focus on the Hugo situation. I'll begin by offering the sentiments I had hoped (but not expected) to have the opportunity to share at the Hugo ceremony. The people I would have recognized that night still deserve to be acknowledged and appreciated.

So -- after some happily surprised stammering -- what would I have said had the balloting gone differently?

I have many people to thank. Of course, there is Trevor Quachri, editor at Analog, for publishing "Championship B'tok."

Didn't come home with me.
This story is a recent episode in a long-running series, a small portion of an evolving saga that's been at the back of my mind -- when it's not been front and center -- since 1999. So: I'd like to think that tonight's recognition -- which is greatly appreciated! -- is to some degree about InterstellarNet as a whole. In that larger context, I'll also thank Stanley Schmidt, then editor of Analog, for publishing the earliest -- and the most -- entries in the InterstellarNet series. And Trevor, once again, for publishing B'tok's immediate prequel.

Also Eric Flint, then editing Jim Baen's Universe, and Ian Randal Strock, then editing Artemis, for publishing two stories that appeared at mid-series.

And Roger MacBride Allen, editor at FoxAcre Press, for publishing the InterstellarNet novelizations.

But back to "Championship B'tok" itself. Thanks to readers who supported the story. And many thanks to my first and favorite reader -- my wife, Ruth -- for sharing the adventure with me through so many drafts.

Thanks, to all of you.

Of course, "Championship B'tok" didn't get recognition that night. That's okay. Stories from within any ongoing series -- as, clearly, is the case here -- rarely win, and I didn't expect "Championship B'tok" to be an exception. Not even in a normal year --

Which 2015 wasn't. (For my immediate reaction to the Puppygate kerfuffle, posted days after this year's nominations were announced, see "Of Hugo Awards, Sad Puppies, and notoriety.")

A terrific con
(Please note: Nothing in what follows should be construed as criticism of Sasquan, or of the many wonderful, hardworking volunteers who made the con possible. This year's Worldcon was great, and in every way professional. The staff stayed above the awards fray and welcomed everyone. Nor should anything in this post be construed as criticism of the Hugo emcees, David Gerrold and Tananarive Due. Whatever their personal views, they were wholly even-handed -- and droll -- throughout the ceremony.)

So what do I mean to criticize? Audience cheering at the Hugo ceremony whenever No Award "won" a category. This was, IMO, both rude and wrong. If recommendation lists (aka "slate voting") for Hugo nominations -- completely within the rules -- were improper, how were organized campaigns against the nominees any more appropriate?

In my 15 years of con-going and the 25 years since my first pro sale, I had never -- till this year's Hugo season -- encountered hostility toward nominees based upon who recommended their stories or inferences about authors' personal views. (Or from wild speculation about those personal views, with no more factual basis than guilt by presumed association.) To put it mildly, I find this change unfortunate. A Hugo award is supposed to be about the story.

And hence, I'll offer one final appreciation: to every Hugo voter -- whether they liked or hated my story -- who considered the Hugo-nominated works on their individual merits. Thank you all.


lfgtoo said...

Since an editor must buy works that please the consumer, it's okay with me if they believe there's a market for works by members of Little People of America, Inc. [q.v.], or the National Socialist Workers' Party [q.v.], the latter certainly not to my taste. If someone wants to say, "Vote for one of these five works, because they're by LGBTQRST", I have no objection. I get itchy when someone says, "Don't you dare vote for THOSE five works, because the promoters don't believe as WE do." The U.S., at least putatively, enjoys both freedom of association and of speech. I'd like to see those principals, and democracy stay in the awards process.

Edward M. Lerner said...

The recent awards were, by definition, democratic -- that is to say, the process relied upon voting -- but sadly unliberal. (I use "liberal" in its original sense of supporting freedom of the individual and governmental guarantees of individual rights and liberties. Rights and liberties like freedom of speech and association ...)

-dsr- said...

I'm sorry your feelings were hurt. I've enjoyed your fiction in the past and probably will buy more of your work in the future.

The Puppies acted in the least neighborly manner possible while staying within the rules. The voters rejected them for being unsociable jerks, and the audience was made up of those voters.

Propose a list instead of a slate, you'll get a better response.

What's the difference? A slate is an exact mandate: vote for these things and these alone, so that they crowd out everything else. A list is a set of recommendations: I read these, I liked them, you should read them too. The lists are actually the best part of the Hugo process: finding out what other people liked that you missed, finding out that you have tastes in common.

Slates are attempts to manipulate the system. They're legal, and they will be legal for one more WorldCon - and then, hopefully, E Pluribus Hugo will be adopted and there won't be any more slates, because they won't be useful.

http://sasquan.org/e-pluribus-hugo-faq/ might be good reading for you.

Edward M. Lerner said...

dsr: first off, thanks for your kind words about my writing. i appreciate that.

IMO, there's been conflation between (a) the promoters of the list (or slate -- I'll come back to that) and (b) the stories on that list. "No Award"-ing every recommendation surely made a point to the Puppy promoters -- but it ALSO affected the nominees.

List vs. slate? If nominators are free to pick and choose and ignore from among a set of recommendations, that is a list. If all items *must* be submitted as a group, it's a slate. That some nominators might vote for an entire list of recommendations was always the case -- and is neither here nor there.

IMO, those who objected to the Puppy involvement should have focused on rules changes, and not dragged authors into this mess.