Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Hugos No One Attends*

*For values of the people actually receiving the award.

Since I've never attended before and did not closely look at which authors were or were not attending the convention I thought I would see a number of authors picking up Hugo awards at the ceremony on Saturday night here in Denver. Not so and I've been given to understand this is not unusual.

In the case of both the fan awards and the dramatic presentation ones it is quite understandable. After all if you were in the movie or television biz it would mostly be a bit of a distraction from work. Meanwhile the fans are often too poor to jet off to wherever Worldcon is in a particular year so unless they're regular attendees of Worldcon or near by they're probably not going to show either. But the lack of authors at it is rather disheartening. This, much more than people talking about the graying of fandom or griping "What I liked didn't win, so the Hugos suck", shows there really is something wrong with the Hugo Awards. Authors can't even be bothered to show up when they're nominated and the odds on favorite to win the award. (I'm referring here to Michael Chabon not being there to pick up the Hugo given to for his novel The Yiddish Policemen's Union.)

By something wrong with the Hugos I mean that they're not really that important outside of the community of people who already go to Worldcon. They probably have as much value on the cover of a book as any other award (or even a made up one) rather than being something important to sales like the Oscars are to movie rentals and sales. And I don't know how this could be changed.

The usual suspect is the lack of new fresh faces at Worldcon, and I'm sure it could not hurt. Another problem is the size and profile of the World Science Fiction Society and the Hugo Awards themselves. Search for the Booker Prize or Hugo Award and you'll generally find about half as much mention of the Hugos on the net as the Booker. Assuming that the average SF reader is probably more internet savvy and likely to have a blog or webpage than the average reader of the type of literature that get the Booker that is not a good sign. So how could the Hugo be increased in profile?

I do not know.

I think that there would be more attention paid if there was more perceived value in voting or if the voters were higher profile about doing so. For example I think a few well respected and widely read bloggers writing about how and why they voted would do much to 'shine up' the award. Or if was more transparent about how and when to vote so that people who do not have the initial interest or ability to go to a World Science Fiction Convention would be blogging about it the same way they write about politics.

But this is obviously all speculation on my part. I have no hard numbers to point to that say that having more members of an online WSFS would make the Hugos more respected or not. But I would love to hear competing ideas or support.

I'll be cleaning and writing periodically for the rest of the day.

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