BRING THE STRUCTURE OF THE HUGO AWARDS INTO THE MODERN WORLD

In this essay, I want to address the second of the two objective problems with the Hugo Awards that I referred to in my last essay. That problem is the ever-widening distance between the structure of the awards and the reality of the market for fantasy and science fiction.

When the Hugo Award was first launched, in 1953, four awards were established. The distinction between them was based on word count, as follows:

Best short story: Any story up to 7,500 words.
Best novelette: Any story between 7,500 and 17,500 words.
Best novella: Any story between 17,500 and 40,000 words.
Best novel: any story longer than 40,000 words.

A little more than a decade later, in 1966, the newly-founded Science Fiction Writers of America (which later became the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) launched the Nebula Award, which is considered the other major award in F&SF. The award structure they adopted for written fiction was identical with that of the Hugo; i.e., the same division between three short form and one long form stories, using the same word counts.

At the time, it made perfect sense to structure the awards in this manner, that is to say, heavily in favor of short fiction and with the definition of novel set with a very low word count. The genre of F&SF was predominantly a short form genre, and what (relatively few) novels got published were generally in the word count range of 40,000 to 60,000 words.

Today, that structure is hopelessly outdated. Short form fiction is now a very small part of fantasy and science fiction, whether you measure that in terms of money—where it’s now a tiny percentage of the income authors receive—or in terms of readership. It’s certainly a larger percentage of the readers than it is of income, but it’s not more than 10% and it’s probably closer to 5%.

People who are active in fandom are often surprised to hear this and sometimes think it’s nonsense, but that’s because reading short fiction is much more common in fandom than it is in the general audience for F&SF. There are many more people who only read novels than there are people who read any short fiction at all, much less do something like subscribe to a magazine or regularly read anthologies of short fiction.

Publishers and authors who get regularly published are well aware of this reality. For at least a quarter of a century F&SF as a publishing industry has been entirely focused on novels—and especially on novels which are part of series. It’s that last aspect of modern F&SF that has made the existing structure of both the Hugo and the Nebula awards hopelessly obsolete.

There are very few authors today who can make a living as full-time writers unless they have at least one series to anchor their career. It’s not absolutely impossible but it’s really, really difficult any longer to base a career on stand-alone single-volume novels as was common in the 60s, 70s and into the 80s. And there are many prominent authors today who work solely or almost solely in series or multi-volume stories.

I’ll use myself as an example. As of today, I’ve published forty-eight single-volume novels—i.e. novels which fit between two covers, not as part of a collection—with my forty-ninth coming out in three weeks. My fiftieth novel will appear in January of next year. I’ve also published six other novel-length stories, defining “novel” as anything over 40,000 words, as part of collections.

Of the full-length novels, only two out of the forty-eight were stand-alone. Those are my first novel, Mother of Demons, and one of the novels I wrote with Dave Freer, Slow Train to Arcturus. There’s a third novel, Time Spike, which is in an intermediate category. As a story, it stands alone, but it’s indirectly connected to the 1632 series.

Of the six short novels I’ve written that were published as part of collections, only one of them is a stand-alone. That’s Diamonds Are Forever, which I co-authored with Ryk Spoor and which was published in the collection titled Mountain Magic. The other five are all part of series: three of them in my own 1632 series, one in David Weber’s Honor Harrington series and one in Bill Fawcett’s Clan of the Claw setting.

That’s not at all uncommon, these days. And there are some authors who work exclusively in series or multi-volume stories. Jim Butcher, for instance, has yet to publish a stand-alone novel-length story. To give another example—multiple examples, rather—the big majority of authors working in the sub-genre of paranormal romance work only in series, at least when they work at novel length.

The truth is, there is no financial incentive at all for a modern F&SF author to write anything except series and multi-volume stories. For the good and simple reason long ago enunciated by the bank robber Willie Sutton: “That’s where the money is.”

(Yes, I know that’s an apocryphal legend and he never actually said it. Who cares? A good apocryphal legend takes on a life of its own. For Pete’s sake, accountants have an official “Willie Sutton rule.” We lowlife scribblers can’t use it too? Pfui.)

I have spent a lot of time and felled a lot of electrons debunking the claim of the Sad Puppies that the Hugo Awards today discriminate against popular authors for reasons of political bias. That much of what they say is nonsense, and some of it is blithering nonsense.

But there is a grain of truth lurking beneath their claim, because it is in fact true that there is a quite heavy bias against popular authors in the way the awards are determined—the Nebulas as much the Hugos. That’s not due to anything conscious on anyone’s part, and it’s not due to any sort of deliberate bias or discrimination. It’s simply inherent in the divergence between the reality of the market and the structure of the awards.

When most popular authors work exclusively or almost exclusively in series or multi-volume works like trilogies and quartets (and quintets, and sextets) and 75% of the awards are given out for short fiction, then it is inevitable that most popular authors will never get a Hugo or Nebula award.

It’s not impossible to win a Hugo while working in a series, as Lois McMaster Bujold has demonstrated four times. But Bujold is an outlier for two reasons. First, she is extraordinarily skilled at making each novel in her Vorkosigan series work well on its own. And, second, the series itself is designed to be fairly episodic. Except for the first two volumes and the most recent one, it follows one single character as he passes through his life and has various adventures. In that respect, it’s quite similar to the type of series that dominates the mystery genre.

But many series are not designed that way. Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series, for instance, began along those lines, but as the series progressed each volume served to expand and deepen the background setting—call it the Dresden Mythology, if you will—as well as depicting a specific adventure. It is extremely difficult by now to gauge any single volume in the series as a stand-alone story.

With my 1632 series, except for the first novel, it’s impossible to do it at all. The series is designed as a series, as a whole, as an increasingly complex and interlocking network of stories. By the end of next month, there will be fifteen novels published in the series, eleven anthologies of short fiction and sixty issues of an electronic magazine—with somewhere around 130 authors participating in the project. How in the world is anyone supposed to gauge any single story in that series in terms of awards as they are currently structured?

David Weber’s Honor Harrington series isn’t quite as much of a web, but it’s awfully close. At the moment, he has three major story lines being developed through the novels, with short fiction anthologies serving to feed directly into the series as well as develop side stories and explore the historical background of the setting. He’s using novels for that purpose also. Story lines are constantly interacting with each other, and there are by now close to a dozen major protagonists. Honor Harrington, who was at the center of all the early novels, is now the first among equals as a character. The novels can’t be gauged the same way the individual novels in Bujold’s Vorkosigan series could be.

There’s a different sort of problem with “series” that are actually single stories with one narrative arch. These are really more like novels than series, but they’re so long they need to be broken up into two or more volumes. The archetypical form of these stories is the well-known trilogy, but they can range anywhere from two volumes to six. In a few cases, even longer.

The individual volumes in such multi-volume works rarely work well as stand-alone novels. A classic example in our field is Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. It’s normally called a “trilogy” but it’s actually a single novel that was so long it needed to be divided into three volumes. It’s impossible to characterize each of the three volumes as a story in its own right.

The only effective way to bring the Hugo (and Nebula) awards back into line with the real conditions under which authors work is to break up the now-solitary “novel” category and expand it into three or four separate ones. Absent that measure, no amount of “expansion” or “inclusiveness”—no matter how it’s done and for what purpose—will accomplish much of anything. As it stands now, the existing “novel” category in the awards is a cup into which people are trying to pour a barrel’s worth of stories.

What I’m going to do now is present what I believe would be the best structure to replace the existing one, and explain why I think it would be the best. (Not the “ideal” structure because that’s impossible. Any structure will have some defects and drawbacks.)

Having done that, I will work my way backward, so to speak, to show the various modifications and adjustments that could be made. I realize that there are some practical considerations involved in giving out awards, especially for organizations dependent on volunteers for most of the work. And I’m quite sure I’m not fully aware—or plain ignorant—of what some of those practical considerations might be.

I’d recommend replacing the existing four awards with seven, as follows:

Short Story. Anything up to 7,500 words.

Novelette. Between 7,500 and 17,500 words.

Novella. Between 17,400 words and 40,000 words.

Short Novel. Between 40,000 and 80,000 words.

Novel. Any length above 80,000 words so long as it remains within one cover, if it’s a paper edition. If only an electronic edition exists, it cannot exceed 300,000 words (which is pretty much the effective limit of a paper edition).

Multi-volume Stories. Any length above 80,000 words provided: a) it is divided into at least two volumes in paper editions none of which is shorter than 80,000 words or is more than 300,000 words if it exists only in an electronic edition. And b) it must be a completed work.

A multi-volume story can only be nominated once, as is true with a novel or a piece of short fiction. However, the period of eligibility for nomination would be three years from the publication date of the final volume, not one year.

Series. In order to qualify, a series must have either three volumes in paper editions, none of which can be shorter than 80,000 words or, if it exists only in electronic edition, must be at least 300,000 words long.

A series could be nominated (and win) more than once. But nominations would be subject to the following restrictions. After a series has been nominated, whether it wins or not, it will not be eligible for another nomination until it has accumulated (for lack of a better term) another 300,000 words of text, and at least three years have passed.

There is no period of eligibility for series, provided that not more than five years has elapsed since the publication of at least 80,000 words. (This is to forestall the nomination of series which were discontinued long ago.)

The first three categories, the ones for short fiction, are identical to what exists now. The next two categories simply divide the existing novel category into two categories, distinguishing between “short novel” and “novel.” This is quite straight-forward.
It’s with the final two categories—multi-volume stories and series—that things get more complicated. It would obviously be simpler to reduce this to one category called “series” and leave it that.

The reason I dislike that idea is because, however awkward it might be to make this distinction, it is nevertheless a very real distinction. There is as much difference—quite a bit more, in fact—between a trilogy or quartet that has a single story arch and an ongoing series as there is between a short story and a novelette or a novella. Many authors prefer to work in trilogies and quartets—sometimes expanded to five or six volumes—rather than series properly speaking. (I.e., stories which either have no end at all or require so long to get there that there is no longer anything that could be described as a single story arch.)
The problem with compressing the two categories into one is that, willy-nilly, the more elaborate and long-running series will usually crowd aside the trilogies and quartets. If people feel strongly that seven categories of awards is too many, then there are better ways to compress the categories than to do it at this end. I’ll explain those possibilities later.
To give an idea of how this would work in practice, I will use a hypothetical work called The Whatever Saga.

The first volume of the saga comes out in, let’s say, 2017. We’ll call it Book One. It has a one-year period of eligibility to be nominated for “Best Novel.” And let’s suppose that it does in fact get nominated and even wins.

So. The Whatever Saga has racked up its first Hugo award.

In 2018, Book Two comes out. It also gets nominated and wins the Hugo for Best Novel.

In 2019, Book Three comes out. It does not pick up a nomination for Best Novel but it is now eligible for a Best Series nomination. But the Saga has worn out its welcome a little bit, so it doesn’t get nominated for anything.

In 2020, Book Four comes out. It’s a marvelous volume and gets a lot of people really excited. So it picks up two nominations—one for Best Novel and one for Best Series.
It wins in the Best Series category, but doesn’t win the Best Novel award.

In 2021, Book Five comes out. It doesn’t get nominated for Best Novel and it’s not eligible yet to be nominated again for Best Series.

BUT, it is clear from the story itself—not to mention public statements by the author—that Book Five concludes The Whatever Saga. So it gets nominated for Best Multi-Volume Story.

And wins. But whether it won or lost the Hugo for Best Multi-Volume Story, this is the last time it will ever qualify for an award. A work can’t be nominated more than once in the Multi-Volume Story category, and since no further additions will be made to the story it will never requalify for a series award.

When all is said and done, The Whatever Saga picks up a total of four Hugo Awards: two for Best Novel, one for Best Series, and one for Best Multi-Volume Story.

The likelihood of any story picking up this many awards in three different categories is very low, of course. I just used it to illustrate how the system would work.

The only other major decision that would have to be made is whether or not to include short fiction as part of the material making up multi-volume stories and series. I would strongly urge that short fiction be included, because a number of series—although not very many multi-volume stories—do have short fiction as an important and integral element.

Probably the clearest example of this is my own 1632 series. In addition to the fifteen novels, the series has eleven anthologies (in paper as well as electronic editions) and sixty issues of a magazine. There is some overlap between some of the anthologies and the magazine, but most of the stories in the magazine never get reissued in paper.

I included a three-year period before a series could requalify for a nomination because if I didn’t series which have multiple authors and incorporate short fiction, like the 1632 series, would requalify every year if that was left simply to word count. I don’t want series that generate a lot of short fiction to gain an additional advantage, but I do feel that short fiction should be included. It’s too early to know for sure, but I think that as time passes we’re going to see a lot of short fiction being incorporated into series. And there will be some series that are mostly composed of short fiction. A current example of that is Larry Niven’s Man-Kzin Wars series, which now has over a dozen volumes, few of which consist of full-length novels.

The above proposal is what I think would work best. But if, for whatever reason, a lot of people feel strongly that seven award categories is too many, I would recommend the following modifications. Modification A would result in a six categories of awards; Modification B would result in five; and Modification C would retain four categories—the same number that exists now, although not the same categories.

MODIFICATION A

This modification would keep the Short Novel, Novel, Multi-Volume Story and Series categories as they are above. The adjustment would come by compressing the other three categories down to two, as follows:

Short Story. Anything up to 15,000 words.

Novella. Anything between 15,000 and 40,000 words.

In other words, the novelette category would be eliminated altogether. Frankly—and I say this having written several of them—I’ve come to conclude that the novelette is something of a bastard category anyway. It’s defined in the Oxford dictionary as follows:
“chiefly derogatory: A short novel, typically one that is light and romantic or sentimental in character.”

Other dictionaries define it as “a novel that is regarded as being slight, trivial, or sentimental” [Free Dictionary] and “a short novel that is often about romantic relationships and is usually not very serious” [Cambridge Dictionary].

The definition in Webster’s is more terse: “a brief novel or long short story.”

The point is there is nothing sacrosanct about the novelette. I wasn’t there at the inception of the Hugo in 1953—hell, I was only six years old—so I don’t know what the thinking was behind creating the category in the first place. I suspect it was mostly arbitrary, and was motivated by a desire to create three categories of short fiction in order to spread the awards around as much as possible.

That would have been a reasonable enough motive, at the time. But it doesn’t really hold much sway any longer.

There is, however, a definite difference between a short story and a novella, and that would be retained.

MODIFICATION B

Five categories would be created, as follows:

Short story. Anything up to 17,500 words.

Novella/Short novel. Anything from 17,500 to 60,000 words.

Novel. Anything longer than 60,000 words contained in one volume (if paper) and not more than 300,000 words (if purely electronic).

Multi-volume Story. Any completed story above 80,000 words provided it is divided into at least two volumes in paper editions none of which is shorter than 80,000 words or is more than 300,000 words if it exists only in an electronic edition.

Series. In order to qualify, a series must have either three volumes in paper editions, none of which can be shorter than 80,000 words or, if it exists only in electronic edition, must be at least 300,000 words long.

This retains three awards for long form fiction and one award for short fiction, with a fifth award (Novella/Short Novel) being more or less divided between the two. Keep in mind that this still retains 30% of the awards for short fiction (1.5 out of 5), which is a far higher percentage than short fiction represents in the real world.

MODIFICATION C

Four categories would be retained, but the proportions between short and long form fiction would be reversed.

Short Fiction. Anything up to 30,000 words.

Short Novel. Anything between 30,000 and 60,000 words.

Novel. Anything longer than 60,000 words contained in one volume (if paper) and not more than 300,000 words (if purely electronic).

Series. Anything longer than 60,000 words contained in two or more volumes (if paper) and at least 400,000 words (if purely electronic).

Not surprisingly, I think the modifications get worse as the number of award categories get compressed. But this is the way I would do it, if it’s felt to be necessary.

All right, enough on this subject. In my next and hopefully final essay if nobody ticks me off too much or something new doesn’t get raised, I will address the third of the three factors underlying the problems with the Hugo. This is the only one that is basically subjective in nature. Simplifying somewhat, it’s the tendency of people voting for literary awards to be somewhat biased—it might be better to say, more oriented toward—emphasizing what can be called “literary” considerations more than the mass audience does.

As I will show, this is not so much a “problem” as an inevitability. You can consider it as a problem, of course, but you are no more likely to “fix” it than you are to “fix” the tides or the 23½ degree inclination of the Earth’s axis with respect to the plane of its orbit.

 

(for the other posts on the Hugo controversy, visit the Hugo Controversy category.)

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72 Responses to BRING THE STRUCTURE OF THE HUGO AWARDS INTO THE MODERN WORLD

  1. Mike says:

    You don’t address nominations, so maybe you like the current system. But what if, instead of five finalists, the finalists included any work that got above a certain threshold number of nominations? The threshold could be based on average number of votes over the previous few years.

    Then if there was some group that decided they were tired of the Hugos never nominating My Little Pony novelizations and got themselves organized, they could get their My Little Pony story on the ballot, but it wouldn’t block anyone else. It would only add to the number of options.

    Since the Hugos already use preferential voting, that wouldn’t cause problems in term of splintering the final vote.

    • Terranovan says:

      I would hope, in the event that this happens, that there’s a limit to how many times you can vote for something in a given year. Not just “you can’t make 500 votes for your favorite novel”, but something keeping a voter from voting for EVERYTHING that’s been published that year. Ditto all of the above for nominations.

  2. John C. says:

    I like your unmodified proposal best, although I admit to a bit of selfishness. More categories means a bigger download pack each year.
    Mike’s idea about the nominations sounds good, too. Either that, or increase the number of nominees from five to seven or eight.
    I’d also like to propose these additional changes:
    Eliminate or the change the eligibility for Best Editor, Long Form and Best Editor, Short Form. For the former, I never know how to grade this. I’ve always thought that good editors are like good wedding planners: they’re virtually invisible. That doesn’t mean they’re not present or they’re not in control; but they’re not distracting from the end product. For Short Form, I’ve always graded that on which editor made the best “finds” of the offered stories.
    Eliminate Best Semi-Prozine. In my opinion, being “semi-pro” is like being “semi-pregnant”. How ’bout we acknowledge that the real distinction in ‘zines has always been between pros and fans. Replace Best Semi-Prozine with something like “Best Periodical” and allow fully professional publications to compete. There aren’t that many of them left, anyway.

  3. Reality Observer says:

    Harking back to an earlier comment I made – my opinion is that seven categories are too few. As noted by many (and on both sides), even if you combine the ASP/SP/RP readerships – they are only a tiny percentage of the people that read under the very big umbrella that is called Science Fiction / Fantasy.

    Split it up by (suitably broad, hopefully) sub-genres. On second thought, perhaps just the novel-plus lengths, in addition to the “Flint Proposal.” There are sub-genres which will have so little eligible stand-alone short fiction in them that the idea of “best of the year” could mean “least terrible of two or three possibles,” year after year. (Alternative history, for example – I think I recall at most a half-dozen shorter works in some 40+ years of reading; the majority of short works in this sub-genre are going to appear in a framework like that of 163x.)

    • The problem with splitting it up by subgenres is that you’d then have to get sf/f fans to agree on definitions for subgenres. Alternate history is a pretty easy one, but when you get into terms like space opera every single person seems to have their own definition and some will defend theirs as the one true one vociferously.

  4. Reality Observer says:

    On second (or third, or fourth..) thought – don’t try starting to mess with the rules in any major way this year at least.

    I have two monitors – popped up the Vox Day page on one, the David Gerrold page on the other. Call it Alice on this side of the mirror and Alice on the other side… (this is in the comments).

    “Castalia House is probably buying up a bunch of supporting memberships to steamroller the Hugos!” “Tor is probably buying up a bunch of supporting memberships to steamroller the Hugos!” “Theodore Beale is planning to pack the business meeting and change the rules to kill Social Justice!” “Patrick Nielsen-Hayden is planning to pack the business meeting and change the rules to kill Conservative Values!”

    Doing much this year would probably be giving gas cans to both sides to burn the house down (because both radical factions will perceive it, no matter what “it” is, as an attack on their “side”).

    It does have to calm down sometime, right? (Yes, I believe in Santa Claus…)

    • snowcrash says:

      As I understand it, any amendment passed this year, would have to be ratified next year, and come into force the year after that.

      As such, anything that was deemed too temperamental this year would hopefully get shot down, or adequately amended next year once (if!) the kerfuffle dies down.

      • David Lang says:

        I understand that one of the rules up for ratification this year would extend the process to three years. What interaction does that change have with anything proposed this year?

        I actually don’t expect the fuss to die down in time for next year’s vote. Barring something extrordinary happening, I expect next year to be even worse as whichever side “looses” this year tries to storm back.

        • Warren Buff says:

          As one of the proposers of the Popular Ratification amendment, I’ll weigh in on its effects on business passed this year. We specifically excluded business receiving first passage this year from the requirement of popular ratification, as the new rule wouldn’t kick in until the end of this year’s convention. We wanted folks to continue behaving normally in the business meeting, rather than trying to suss out whether the amendment they were debating would need to go through popular ratification or not.

          If Popular Ratification passes, amendments receiving first passage in 2016 would need ratification at the meeting in 2017, then popular ratification in 2018. Regardless of whether it passes, amendments receiving first passage in 2015 will need only the basic ratification in 2016.

  5. I agree that the award structure requires some revision to meet current publishing realities; however, I have two questions:

    First, do we need the short novel category at all? Are enough short novels being published to make it necessary? Most houses will now not consider a novel under 80,000 words, per their guidelines.

    Second, both the multi-volume novel and series categories allow an author multiple bites of the apple for the same work. I would prefer to see an author declare at the outset (should it become relevant) that his multi-volume novel is in fact a long book divided in pieces, rendering it eligible, as a single work, when it is done. The series category I would do away with completely, which would still allow individual novels to compete for Best Novel.

    Should you preserve the series category, however, how do you define a series? Is a set of four books featuring different characters living in a shared universe a series? What about spin-offs? Are they part of the same series or a new series? The practical considerations are daunting, and these awards are administered by volunteers, after all.

    • David Lang says:

      > I would prefer to see an author declare at the outset (should it become relevant) that his multi-volume novel is in fact a long book divided in pieces, rendering it eligible, as a single work, when it is done.

      The problem is that plans change.

      What starts off as a stand-alone book may become a multi-volume work chasing down loose ends.

      Or something that the author would like to be a trilogy doesn’t have future books picked up (or the author dies)

      I’ll bet that Eric never imagined the 1632 series the way it is when he wrote the first book.

      But I’d rather see this sort of thing get multiple chances to win than to face the alternative and have a series/author never nominated because they aren’t “done” with it yet. After all, each WoT books was eligible individually, but then the series as a whole was what was actually nominated.

      and if a series really is so fabulous that it wins multiple awards, is that really a problem? Lois McMaster Bujold has won 4 times for books in one series, would it really be so bad for her to win an award for the series overall?

      The Dresden Files is a good example of the problem of not having a series award. Many people who haven’t read the series don’t think the books is worth a Hugo because they are missing the background from the rest of the series.

      I really would expect that opening up a series category would probably make it less likely rather than more likely that the books in the series would show up individually under ‘best novel’. the window of eligibility would be longer for the series than the individual novel, and there is enough stuff out there that once someone has nominated an author for an award in one category, they are less likely to nominate that same person in another category (yes, I know that John C Wright’s nominations this year may indicate something different, but we won’t really know until after the awards if people nominated him multiple times or if lots of different people nominated him for different works and due to the low bar for nominations, all the different works got in)

      • Reality Observer says:

        I have, somewhere, a statement by Eric (and that is IIRC) that 1632 was conceived as a stand-alone, possibly the first in a set of works in the Assiti Shard Universe. If he’s to be held to that for all time…

        I have no idea whether Bujold had plans for an eventual novel about the woman named Cordelia when she set down the first words about a guy named Miles – but you certainly would never expect it.

        Authors’ best-laid plans change all the time. Unexpected commercial success. Unexpected commercial failure. Health. Personal financial issues. (How many authors have taken on an anonymous romance contract to keep out of foreclosure? Probably far more than we know about. No, that is not a diss of romance writing, or readers – but they weren’t writing our favorite stuff.)

        • Mike says:

          Actually, Shards Of Honor came first. The original novel included what is now Barrayar. Warrior’s Apprentice was the second book. Ethan Of Athos was the third book. And she sold all three of them as one package deal to Baen.

          • Reality Observer says:

            Ah, thank you. I was not aware that it was a package all intentionally written as a group.

            It’s a good thing I read them out of order, both chronological and publication. Cordelia’s Honor (the combination of the first two) would probably have put me off for a while – I would have pegged her as “good writer, themes not particularly my taste, though.”

            That is why I always check back on those that get into that category. Actually, our host ended up there at first – “Mother of Demons” really didn’t resonate, but I could see the writing talent. I’ll also check back on people who had an interesting theme, but didn’t quite execute it.

            Of course, when whichever thing that puts me off continues, I’ll drop them.

    • David says:

      Traditional publishers may not do much short novel work, but I suspect you’ll find a lot of indie published works in that range.

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  7. ahd says:

    A good proposal. I endorse it.

  8. Peter Buchanan says:

    I really like these proposed changes. I feel a bit like I’ve been watching the Hugo kerfuffle unfold at some remove simply because I am more into fantasy than science fiction and my perception is that fantasy has been doing multi-volume books and series off by itself that are recognized as the high water mark of fantasy even as they get almost no wins and few nominations for the Hugos/Nebulas.

    However, I think that expanding the categories like this also makes the nominating process much more complex, and I would propose one additional change to the process. There needs to be a website that acts as a clearinghouse for work published in the preceding year that indicates its word count and what award(s) it is eligible for. As it is, the information kind of exists spread out all over the web as individual authors post things to their blogs, websites, and social media accounts, or not as some authors believe that even that act constitutes campaigning. All I really want is a neutral site that anyone can point to and say, “Hey! Here’s a page organized by author that gives all the information you need.”

    To my mind, this also has the benefit that it provides a way of counteracting the epistemic closure that can happen when individual author pages become de facto award pimpage zones, as currently happens in the comments section of Scalzi’s yearly award posting. I personally don’t have a problem with this in itself, but it seems so obvious that what we really want is a site only affiliated with the Hugos that serves that purpose in an even handed way.

  9. Stevie says:

    Given the length of time it takes to make alterations to the Hugo process I entirely agree that we should start now; it seems to me that Eric’s proposals are solid and I support them.
    And on that happy note I’ll go back to my Hugo reading…

  10. Warren Buff says:

    So, before I get into what some of us have proposed this year (read for yourselves at http://sasquan.org/business-meeting/agenda/), I’d like to clarify some of the history of the fiction categories.

    In 1953, only one Hugo was given out for original fiction, for Best Novel. When the awards returned in 1955, this was expanded to three (Novel, Novelette, Short Story), which was also the pattern for 1956. No fiction awards were given at all in 1957, when only magazines were recognized. 1958 was two categories (Novel or Novelette, and Short Story), while 1959 returned to the patter of three categories. In 1960, the awards went back to two categories, Novel and Short Fiction. This time, the pattern held through 1966. In 1967, the old three categories returned. The first instance of the four categories of today was in 1968, which was copied in 1969. The three categories returned from 1970-72, before finally settling into their modern form in 1973 (according to folks who were there, Harlan Ellison gave an impassioned speech in favor of the four categories, which was interrupted by an irate Norman Spinrad entering the room to complain about his brunch being cancelled). This was in the era of the competing constitutions (when Worldcons were selected two years out, but constitutional amendments took only one year, and Worldcons picked and chose which bits of three different constitutions to follow — this finally settled down in 1975, which explains a bit about why we do a ratification process).

    So, there’s nothing sacred about the four categories, they just haven’t changed in a long time because WSFS uses a parliamentary body to make its rules, and parliamentary bodies are meant to change rather slowly (and I’ve seen relatively few professionals take the podium since I began attending in 2008 — mostly around the semiprozine, graphic story, and young adult literature debates). A number of us who fall more on the WSFS functionary side of things than either flavor of puppies or their ideological detractors read Eric’s first piece on the matter, and felt a change was in order. So we wrote a proposal to shift the awards into better alignment with the field. It looks more like the Modification C Eric outlines above, though it’s not identical.

    We’re convinced that, for a change this big, this is the right step for now. Proposals to add categories wholesale tend to meet with resistance from folks who feel we have too many already. If, down the road, we see a problem with ongoing series crowding out trilogies and the like, we have the option to fix it. We’re also working far enough outside the existing Hugo structure that we need to bring this into force to properly test it — it’s not like carving out territory for comics and podcasts. Here’s hoping folks can show up and support it, because I think this change is overdue by a couple of decades.

    • David Lang says:

      The proposal he’s referring to eliminates novelette and moves the boundry between short story and novella to 10k words

      It then adds a new category ‘saga’ which requires multiple volumes and 400K words to become eligible again

      I’m not sure that this requirement is quite what’s needed to cover e-book only items, but since it’s so easy to manipulate the number of releases in such conditions, i don’t think it’s a fatal flaw.

      I am puzzled about section 3.2.4, that would seem to say that a series as a whole was not eligible prior to the modification. So how did WoT not trip over this clause?

      • Seth says:

        It had enough words to be eligible as a novel (to put it mildly), and no part of it had been nominated previously so nothing made it ineligible. It was published as a serial, which by the rules is eligible for the year the last piece is published.

    • Eric Flint says:

      Warren, if you get this proposal formally presented — I’m not sure what the procedure is for doing this — then I will withdraw my proposal in favor of yours. Abstractly, I think mine is better, but as the old saw has it, “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good enough.” I don’t think my proposal is perfect anyway — no proposal will be — and yours would work well enough. The key is to get an award category devoted specifically to series (or “saga,” the term you prefer).

      I may be overly concerned about the problem of trilogies and quartets getting pushed aside by longer series. More precisely, while I’m sure it would happen initially because there are a lot of good series “piled up”, to so speak, it might prove to be a temporary phenomenon. (Temporary as in three to ten years, but no longer than that.) And I understand Mike Spehar’s point, which is that trying to make a clear distinction between my two categories of multi-volume works might be a real headache.

      I would urge one modification in your structure, though. You have the short story category being anything up to 10,000 words and the novella category being 10,000 to 40,000 words. I don’t think those divisions make much sense. Although I mostly write novels, I have written a fair amount of short fiction. There is no real difference between a story that is 10K or 12K or 15K words. And on the other end, 40,000 words is a really awkward place to divide novellas from novels. I have written a total of eleven novellas and short novels, whose word counts were as follows:
      21,500
      22,000
      29,000
      31,500
      37,500
      40,500
      41,500
      43,000
      43,500
      45,000
      53,000
      As you can see, all but one of the short novels were barely past the limit for a novella. But the truth is that, as stories, they are not structure any differently than a long novella — or even a short novella, for that matter. It’s not until you get up to 50,000 words that you can really put together the sort of story that I would consider a novel.

      My recommendation would be that you modify the lengths so that a short story is anything up to 17,500 words — i.e., it just incorporates the existing length for noveletters — and novellas would be in the range of 17,500 to 50,000 words. I think that would correspond more closely to the market as it exists today.

      • Warren Buff says:

        As for formal presentation, it’s already on the agenda for this year.

        It’s also trivial to amend the numbers on the floor, if the business meeting can be convinced. One of our co-sponsors, Ben Yalow, agreed with your novella-novel boundary, but the rest of us weren’t sure the meeting would go for that many changes at once. I’ll admit that the 10K shift is somewhat arbitrary, and not based on a rigorous study of the short fiction market. I don’t know if 17,500 is inherently a better number, but the idea was to split the novelette category between the remaining short and middle length categories. I’d be interested to hear from other writers and editors about where they feel the natural boundaries are today — if some sort of consensus exists, or even an approximation of one, I’d be happy to move the numbers in the proposal (though at this point, we’d be doing it by amending the proposal on the floor).

        One of the things that came out of our initial trial balloon on this (publishing the proposal on the JOF Facebook group) was the suggestion to divide it into two clauses — essentially, one to add “Saga”, and one to collapse the middle-length fiction categories. That way, if the meeting decides to consider them separately, it has an easier time dividing them up. I think that proposal is likely to pass, and we’ll be arguing two amendments instead of one.

        (We went with “Saga” on something of a joke — in the current categories, the number of letters in the category name decreases as the word count increases.)

      • Ben Yalow says:

        Note that, per 3.2.7 of the Constitution, the word limits are not hard limits, but can be modified by the Hugo administrators in order to place a work in a category where it fits better. The limits can be varied by the lesser of 20% or 5000 words, so anything up to 45K words can be put into Novella, and anything up to 12K words into Short Story, if the administrators decide it’s appropriate for the work.

        • Ohmikeghod says:

          True, but I would like to leave it to worldcon members instead of the SMOFs. I have also read proposal B.1.3-Best Series (revised July 13, 2015), and don’t see where any existing category has been eliminated.

  11. I am reminded of attending a Boskone, years ago. I noted that SF novels had over the decades gotten longer and longer. The panel was publishing house people. One of the Tor representatives waxed somewhat wroth that my claim was absurd. The advantage of having thousands of SF novels in the library…well, not lots of thousands, but thousands…was that I could count and compare something by Murray Leinster (iirc) with Five-Twelfths of Heaven. I was right. There are still superb somewhat shorter novels, e.g. by McKillip.

  12. Elizabeth Leinback says:

    I really like the proposal for multiple awards covering novel-length fiction, thus allowing multi-volume stories and ongoing series a better chance at award recognition. Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files is a great example of the need for this — I love his work, but didn’t think Skin Game was a good choice for the best novel category as it is currently structured. I can think of other books in the same series that would, in their respective years, have been far more compelling choices. That said, in terms of Butcher’s writing, world-building, characterization, and skilled development of interwoven single- and multi-volume plots, I’d love to see his series up (multiple times) for the recognition I think it deserves.

    Additionally, I’d be happy to see “best novelette” go flying. It’s never been a strongly defined literary sub-category.

    • Elizabeth Leinback (@EliBrite) says:

      Amendment: In light of the Hugo proposal that “best novelette” be ousted to make room for “best saga,” and the arguments I’ve seen that this privileges novel writers and already successful writers over skilled short fiction authors and emerging voices (who may be quite talented, but finding it easier or preferable to have shorter works published), I find myself more comfortable with Eric’s original proposal to expand, not cut, the categories for fiction awards.

      I still find the novelette to be an uncomfortably defined type of work, though — as someone who likes clearly defined categories, I’d favor adjusting word-count criteria and making short story, novella, and short novel the main options.

  13. Mike Spehar says:

    Not bad, Eric. It becomes a tad cumbersome in the multi-volume and series parts. In particular, the difference between those two categories could become awfully difficult to discern. A multi-volume work could easily morph into a series. As part of a proposal for consideration by the Powers That Be, including the multi-volume and series ideas could be going a bridge too far.

    It might be prudent to propose the changes in the format for short and long novels (which make intuitive as well as practical sense) as stand alone propositions and build from there.

    Your ideas could provide an excellent springboard for progress past the current spitballing.

    • John Cowan says:

      Indeed, there are series that are built from multi-volume works, like Lackey’s Velgarth series, which contains short stories, single-volume novels, and multi-volume novels. All that is an artifact of a market with both lower and upper limits on volume size.

      • John Cowan says:

        An even more complex case is Chalker’s Well World. This is a series containing a single-volume novel, a sub-series consisting of two double-volume novels, another double-volume novel, and a triple-volume novel. Technically it would be eligible for 10 novel + 4 multi-volume + 2 series = 16 Hugos altogether.

  14. Pingback: Eric has some suggestions about the Hugos |

  15. Perhaps merge multi-volume and series. Are they different? A Wizard of Earthsea seemed to gain a volume after a long time.

    • John Cowan says:

      Le Guin considers it a single story occupying six books, though five are novels and one is a collection (“story suite” as she calls such things). None of the five novels are multi-volume in the sense of Lord of the Rings.

  16. James says:

    WOT got in as a novel, partly because no component had been nominated for the Hugo (which would have disqualified it and which is why ASoIaF can’t squeak in on the same basis) and because there was an argument that it was a single (exceedingly long) novel in installments under a clause which was originally supposed to apply to novels serialized in magazines. There was some disagreement about this, with many people viewing it as rules – lawyering, but the administrators let it pass.

    • Mike says:

      What’s a WOT?

      It took me a while, but I think “ASoIaF” is A Song Of Fire And Ice? Probably best just to use a few more bits on the hard disk and type out the who title.

      • Johnny says:

        It’s Wheel of Time.

        This is a SFF website, I don’t think it was crazy to expect people to recognize the two most popular fantasy series of the last 20 years in acronym.

  17. With all respect, referring to novels by acronyms is incomprehensible.

    However “Saga” is incomprehensible.

  18. Sorry, I cut and pasted incorrectly. “Saga” is absolutely brilliant as a solution.

  19. Tom Galloway says:

    The problem I have with the various Saga/Series/etc. proposals I’ve seen is that their definition is extremely fuzzy. For example; Discworld. At least it’s all by one author (and per PTerry’s literary executor daughter, will have no books after the last upcoming one by PTerry). But is it a) a single 40-odd book series based on setting? b) multiple series based on main subsetting (Unseen University, Ankh-Morpork, the witches locale, etc.) c) multiple series based on main protagonist (Sam Vimes, Rincewind, Moist von Lipwig, Tiffany Aching) d) multiple series based on main group of protagonists/setting (Witches, Rincewind, The Watch, Unseen University faculty)?

    Or, let’s move over to Dune. Same riffs with regards to single series or multiple series based on any of protagonists, setting, or adding a new one, time period (as the books take place hundreds or thousands of years apart). Do you make a distinction between Frank Herbert books and other author books?

    And one version of the proposal I’ve seen specifically includes comics. Quick, which of these is eligible; a 12 issue Superman story. All Superman stories ever. All Superman stories set in a particular universe in the DC Multiverse. All stories in the universe setting in which Superman exists. All DC Multiverse stories ever? And how about those semi-in-continuity crossovers with Marvel and their Multiverse…

    • Mike says:

      You could do this two ways. One would be to have a pre-defined list of eligible candidates for the multi-book award(s). This could be formalized by some kind of committee, maybe. The pre-cleared list would clearly indicate what works were included in the “saga”. Since no committee knows everything, there would have to be some process for submitting suggestions.

      Alternately, a similar process could be done after the nominations but before the final vote. You would probably have to accept some amount of ambiguity and interpretation of the nominations. For instance, if enough people nominated The Lord Of The Rings for it to make the ballot, then (if it were eligible) the committee would have to decide whether that included The Hobbit or not.

      Either way, you would want a definitive list of what is included and what is not included by the time the final vote was conducted.

      • David Lang says:

        it wouldn’t matter if “the hobbit” was included or not, LotR would not be eligible again until another 400K words had been written, “the hobbit” is noise at that volume.

    • David Lang says:

      I’m not sure how much it matters exactly what boundries you try and put on what is defined as a ‘saga/series’. Unless you have some _very_ organized voters, you will get nominations for “diskworld series”, not “unseen university” etc. In the case of disputes, the easy thing to go by is “what does the publisher list this as” and group by that.

      The only way it would matter is if there are people nominating specific subsets of a series and trying to game the system by saying that since diskworld won for “unseen university” last year, it could be nominated and win for “the witches” this year. First off, I doubt any voters can be organized that rigidly in fandom, but even if they do, the organizers can and should fix it so the award the first year just reads “the diskworld series”

    • Alsadius says:

      Or for the ultimate example of series confusion, what the hell do we do with Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere? It’s been in print for a decade, but on its face it’s two series and two standalone novels(and three short stories and a grad school thesis), and the crossovers between them are still only visible to serious fans – casual readers could miss them easily. Do we tell people that a standalone short story is up for best series, under a series name that has never appeared in or on any print work?

  20. However, there are plenty of under-100,000 word novels being published at the moment.

    For a committee to collect a complete list of published SF works during a given year would be a major project, one I would not want to try to perform. Perhaps some day an AI will be able to do it for you.

  21. Lisa Hertel says:

    WSFS is loathe to give out a Hugo for the same work twice, so in your Saga example, if the first book won, it would no longer be eligible for a series win (though subsequent books would be novel eligible).

    It is extremely difficult to figure out when a series ends. Look at Niven’s Amber series; there’s at least a decade gap in writing the first five versus the last five. And even when a series seems done, authors mine it with prequels, side stories, and the like. Harry Potter was done in seven books–but there is a growing body of additional material.

    I’m for adding an 80K+ novel category, or bumping novel to at least starting at 60K. One advantage of having a 40-80K category is that it gets a lot of YA, which has been trying to get its own Hugo for years now. It fails because the definition of YA is too fuzzy, nobody wants a second rate Hugo (YA has won), and that dual eligibility thing. (Yes, things have won twice, like “Ender’s Game,” but they were substantially modified from the original.)

    • Mike says:

      So why isn’t it a problem if Girl Genius or Doctor Who or Locus or Bob Eggleton wins year after year in the exact same category, but it would be a terrible problem if the Vorkosigan books won a “saga” award after some of them have also won individual novel awards?

      • Seth says:

        The same book shouldn’t win twice. A series in which Book 1 won and is then nominated for Books 1-3 has Book 1 winning twice.

        A series in which Book 1 won and later Book 3 won just has two different books winning once each.

        (Lisa, I think you meant Zelazny’s Amber serieses.)

        • Mike says:

          But the same artist or editor can win year after year?

        • Violet says:

          I’ve seen some series where individual books were very good. However over the course of multiple volumes little details, secondary characters, or timelines got warped in service to the individual stories contained in that one volume. So, I think keeping a whole series tight is a skill set which deserves its own recognition.

  22. Walter Daniels says:

    Eric, I disagree on the “No Conspiracy” theory of yours. I’ve been to _three_ WorldCons (89 Chicago, MagiCon 92, and San Antonio) and I wasn’t aware (Sad Puppies 2, 2014) that I could nominate/vote in Hugo’s. I’ve seen/heard that Tor sends _100_ employees to WC. Assuming that the rest of the “Big 5” send just _50_ each, that’s *300* votes (out of 800 last year). That works out to 37.5-62.5% of voters. This year, numbers not yet set, but seem to _exceed_ 2000. Now, even Bernie Sanders would understand that 3-5/8ths is a pretty big voting block. Of course, 500 of 2000 makes a small vlock, which is what _some_ are afraid of. (See Theresa Nielsen Haydon’s comments *before* the nominations were officially released. She “complained” that the wrong authors “were nominated.” How did she know, if there wasn’t a concerted effort to “make sure the right authors got nominated?”)
    Now that I know of the $40 supporting membership (nominate/vote) rule, I plan to buy them every year that I can. Also, claiming that “anyone _suggesting_ possible books to consider is ‘Slate making,'” is gross BS.
    Now, get back writing more books that I have to find money to buy.

    • Mike says:

      1) I’ve never even been to Worldcon and I knew that the Worldcon members elected the Hugos. It’s no one’s fault but yours if you didn’t bother to vote. You can’t blame that on some mysterious conspiracy.

      2) Extrapolating from a single rumored data point to estimate that there are 300 attendees from the publishers is a stretch. But even if true, what makes you think that all 300 are part of some conspiracy to vote in a block? Why would they be? Don’t the publishers compete against each other?

      3) Larry C has been saying for three years that the wrong books are being nominated. It’s OK when he says it, but if someone else says it then it’s bad?

    • Eric Flint says:

      This is the sort of thing that drives me nuts. You’ve “seen/heard that Tor sends _100_ employees to WC.” Really? Please explain which it is. Have YOU personally witnessed with your own eyes 100 Tor employees at any of the Worldcons you’ve been to? And how did you know they were Tor employees? Did you count them personally? I ask because I doubt if Tor has that many employees to begin with. Publishing houses, even big ones, don’t typically have many employees.

      Or if you “heard” that Tor had sent 100 employee, whom did you hear it from? I ask because I keep trying to find the source of these conspiracy theories and so far I’m coming up bupkis.

      But let’s assume your rumor is God’s Own Truth. In that case, all I can say is that Tor is pouring money into a hole for no good purpose. Let’s examine the last ten Worlcons/Hugos, from 2005 through 2004. Not one of them was held in New York, where Tor is located. Instead they were held in these cities:

      Glasgow
      Anaheim
      Yokohama
      Denver
      Montreal
      Melbourne
      Reno
      Chicago
      San Antonia
      London

      Lessee… 100 employees sent from New York all over the world… hotel costs… cost of purchasing memberships, cost of meals…

      I figure — assuming your “seen/heard” rumor isn’t twaddle, which is what I think it is — that Tor has spent something in the vicinity of $1,000,000 over the past decade conspiring to win Hugos for its titles. And what they’ve got to show for it is 14 nominations out of 50 and 4 wins out of 10. (I just counted.) Given that Tor publishes roughly half of all SF in the US, they’d have done better to just leave it to chance.

      It’s this kind of silliness that makes the Sad Puppies’ claims that they are being “conspired against” so ludicrous. All it takes is the application of simple arithmetic to make them collapse.

      • David Lang says:

        I think the right word in “insular” rather than “conspiracy”. A conspiracy requires that the people actually discuss and plan things, and I don’t think that’s what’s happening (at least for the most part)

        But even if it’s just Tor and their 100 employee votes, when 50ish nominations is enough most years in some categories, the sort of groupthink that you can get from people who work closely together is enough to skew things. The way that a substantial group has been so vocal sure seems to back this sort of thinking.

        And I agree that the timing of the complaints about how the wrong people won before the results were announced indicate that there was a strong expectation about who ‘should’ have won the nominations. There were a couple mistakes with the escrow, but not enough to account for the breadth of the pre-announcement statements.

        • Tom Galloway says:

          David, while no one (barring slate nominations/voting) is going to guess exactly what’s going to make the ballot, as with any similar creative award (Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, etc.) some items get a significant buzz about them after publication; a lot of good reviews. Showing up on individual and organizations’ recommended reading lists. Getting picked for Best of the Year anthologies. Being talked up by fans and readers. Etc. Or, it’s a significant book/story by a big name author, one who has that elusive combo of sales and “award cachet” (i.e. a lot of people will see it, and they’ve written award winning works before, and so are known to be capable of it). For example, let’s say Neil Gaiman comes out with a significant novel this November. Save for his having withdrawn recent Novel nominations, I’d be willing to place money that book would appear on the 2016 Hugo ballot.

          For someone as tied in to both fannish and major publishing house circles as the Nielsen Haydens, I’d be shocked if they couldn’t reel off a list of, say, 10 most likely candidates for making the Best Novel ballot and, in a normal year, not get at least four right…and that list wouldn’t even necessarily overlap with what they’d put on their nominating ballot.

          Again, looking at other awards, it’s very common for newspaper and magazine critics to predict who’ll be nominated for Oscar, Emmy, etc….and even who won’t be nominated but they think should be. Same mechanism; they’re tied into the net and noticing what’s gotten buzz. And since there is no strong prohibition on saying to friends or professional contacts “Well, didn’t hear from Worldcon to ask for my acceptance, so I guess I’m not on the ballot this year” (although it would be kinda tacky to say it in public before the ballot’s released), Teresa could’ve easily have heard from a lot of people on her mental list of “Good odds on their getting a nomination” without anything untoward.

      • Gary says:

        Mr. Flint,

        There is one flaw in your argument about a voting for New York City worldcon: there hasn’t been a New York City bid since the 1980s. There was a NASFiC bid for 1995, but that one lost to Atlanta (a.k.a. Dragoncon). New York City fandom isn’t organized enough to run a worldcon and it is highly unlikely there will be a bid for some time to come. (Honestly, I predict the next bid will be for the 2039 worldcon, because it would be the 100th Anniversary of the first worldcon, which was held in New York City.)

        So how could the Tor staff vote for a New York City worldcon when it wasn’t even on the ballot?

    • Tom Galloway says:

      (Btw, ’89 was not Chicago but Boston. Perhaps you meant ’91, which was in Chicago?)

      You attended three geographically widely separated Worldcons and never realized you could nominate/vote on the Hugos? I’m sorry, but that’s really completely on you. The geographic separation strongly argues that you didn’t walk up and buy a membership at the door. If you bought your membership before the Hugo nomination or voting deadline, you would’ve received a Hugo ballot, either as an individual mailing or in a mailed to you Progress Report. After the Hugo ceremony, the at-con newsletter publishes voting results. The Program Book has information on the Hugos. Etc. Barring taking every member by the hand and leading them to a quiet room where the Hugos are personally explained to them, it’s hard to say what more Worldcons could do with respect to letting members know about this. (Note: I do understand how it’s possible for someone who hasn’t been to a Worldcon, or even attended local ones where they bought a membership at the door after the voting deadline, to not know this. But Worldcons definitely make reasonable efforts to tell members about the Hugos and their ability to participate in the process.)

  23. Paul Watson says:

    Nice Eric. Not just for your positive and well thought out suggestions, but also that you’re prepared to get it into an arena for open dialogue instead of the ongoing shit-flinging that’s showing up all over the place regarding this. There aren’t many who have sat down and reasonably and articulately addressed the issues at hand. Instead there have been accusations and name calling that may feed the self-indignation but rarely solves anything for the better. Good on you!

  24. Uh Huh says:

    Oh there is certainly more to the sad(Puppy) truth then you care to give credit for. Why…well that would be on you to answer. Myself, I think writers shouldn’t auto exclude the possibilities of prejudice even if they are in the mirror, especially Fantasy writers.

    In fact it’s been my Tolerant Side that has come to understand that any half way intelligent person who can argue a case for more then a NY minute is at least half right in there assumptions. It’s the other half of the coin that they usually care not to acknowledge that makes it skewed. Any final analysis without the other side is as much a half lie as a half truth.

    Evidence(just a smidgeon but its the causal acceptance of it that shows scale of the intolerance)
    You see people like Kameron Hurley attack one of the nicest people ever in the field(and quite the SJW himself) Neil Gaiman as a Sexist just because he used quite the cleaver title “Trigger Warnings” as the title of his collection. Hurley insisting that the title had been claimed by feminist to point out the evil male patriarchy and Gaiman had no right to these “WORDS” should point out how lowly this field has sunken into PC Hell with people wanting to create Enemies of State because they have a differing opinion or do not take things as personal as they do.

    Gaiman aligned himself with a black racist who stated everyone should not buy books by white male authors for a year in the name of…diversity(course it’s easy for him to agree to this knowing his bank account and the food in his children’s mouth is free from this agenda’s prejudices)
    But it’s a mentality that is diseased but running freely out there and easily verifiable to any who question it. And it’s something that should scare the Willies out of you or any sane person against censorship and the right of the author to write.

    It doesn’t help that John Scalzi was the head of the SFWA and that Tor just made a big deal about giving him a big contract while knowing that they have been labeled as having a leftest agenda bias.(The NBA doesn’t get accused of Racism and then goes out and sells a team to Donald Sterling)

    It also doesn’t help when both Tor and Scalzi censor almost anyone with differing opinions on their sites(Words that has nothing to do with cussing or ____shaming)

    Nor does it help when Tor creates a Equality PC Panel and it has Hurley along with openly racist Daniel Jose Older and others with more then a few questionable actions that could be called bigoted yet there they are, all together looking down there noses at the field and choosing to pretend they are better.

    It doesn’t help that people make incredibly big accusations and do so knowing they are protected from being considered one of the bad guys/gals(because everyone knows who the demons already are and they are not the enlightened tolerant left wingers which make up the majority of the field)

    I know all this because I was one of them(Reader that is).

    Now after years of this crap I want to tell both sides to go F’ yourselfs.

    Signed
    A fan of good fiction, not bad politics

    P.S. A lot of biting the hand that feeds is going on, and my last sentence is precisely why it’s harmful..

    ….
    There is definitely part of the Mao/Don’t trust anyone over 30 type bigotry going on. And it’s to easy to spot to turn a blind eye to it and pretend to be a writer looking for insight.

    Good Luck!

  25. Feno76 says:

    Weeeellll… i like your argumentation about the need for some changes, there is a lot to be said about changing markets and changing publishing customs over time. On the other hand i also see a lot other possible categories that would just be as justified as those you suggested….

    for example what about a “best first novel of the year” or however you want to call it, Rookie, MVP? award to give all those first time contenders a bit more of a chance to be considered and not to force them to compete with ALL the established authors out there (Even under the “danger” that the seemingly new author turns out to be the next Robert Galbraith, although i’d count on the honesty of the publishers in this)? On the other end of the spectrum maybe the problem with very beloved authors never getting the award might be cause enough to introduce a kind of livetime award? (or is that the Campbell already?) something like after finishing a major body of work like – well as it was mentioned several times already – the Dresden Files, or Martin’s Asoiaf … or Honor Harrington or even Twilight (okay that was a low blow) you may fall under this category so that not only the dead ones are eligible…

    Add to that three length based categories like short text, standalone-long text and multi volume text and it should be closer to your market analysis than the current model is.

    What about the difference between one-author and multi-author series / projects? Surely it should make a difference to see five million words being produced by one mind or by twenty?

    Do media tie ins deserve more attention or is this the often snubbed “fast food” cousin to the haute cuisine literature that SHOULD be awarded?

    I’m really happy with your suggestion to change the categories, i just think this is the start of the long thought process what should be implemented, not the end.

  26. Pingback: Weekend Links: June 20, 2015 | SF Bluestocking

  27. A few historical asides.

    Once upon a time, I published an SF&F fanzine, Eldritch Science. It only published fiction. It absolutely positively did not accept ripoffs of commercial works, though I was explicit enough on this point that only very rarely did I receive, e.g., something that was obviously set in the Star Trek universe. Such materials were always rejected. If you wanted to publish with me, your work had to be original. Were my authors any good? At least two of them were hired away by Jim Baen or Toni Morrison to write novels for them.

    However, I had another rule. Nothing under 10,000 words. For that rule, I had various outraged people telling me that I was all wrong, that I should publish nothing over 1500 words.

    Then there were the people, mostly older, who complained that my short stories did not have surprise endings. There’s a reason for the second part, namely American literary short story writing of the first half of the 20th century was wrecked by one author whose prodigious output, giving credit where it was due, always featured a surprise ending. Fortunately SF short stories did not get contaminated by this thinking.

    I am also reminded of sitting at an SF con IIRC Boskone, and remarking to a panel that SF novels were getting longer. One of the panelists (Tor person, name forgotten) waxed wroth that my claim was absurd. This was 20 years ago, so the claim was less obvious.

    My third bit was a discussion with a would-be agent at iirc Readercon. I remarked that there would be a change in publishing. After all, the Boskone panel had noted that there were around 1000 or 1500 novels a year being submitted, of which some number like 100 would be published, but several hundreds more were almost as good and not be an embarrassment to the publishing house that used them. I noted to the agent that with these new CD disks you could cram a whole pile of novels on a disk, so therefore someone would set up a publishing house for the good rejects ’50 novels for 10 dollars’, the writers would get bits of royalties but see there material in print. These events took place before the internet gave us Smashwords and Kindle. I was assured that the approach I was envisioning, regardless of technology, would never be tried. The actual technology gets more royalties to each writer, I expect.

  28. Pingback: Reading the Rockets – Best Short Story | Futures Less Travelled

  29. Dan Stith says:

    I vote for modification A. However, I would like to possibly see a ‘honorary award’ given each year to work that is ‘finished out’ but due to the older format never really got its recognition. For instance I don’t think you can really deny that Zelazny’s Amber series shouldn’t be recognized as a ‘series’ (and Tolkien should just be a ‘given’ since essentially he founded the ‘fantasy’ genre and should be given the ‘founding’ honorary award to highlight that point IMHO). There are many others that would fall into this same ‘honorary’ category as well and within a decade or two methinks we could give those authors their well deserved kudos!

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