A DISCUSSION WITH JOHN SCALZI ABOUT THE PROPOSED “SAGA” AWARD

John Scalzi has raised some objections to and reservations about the proposal that will be coming out of Sasquan for making some changes in the structure of the Hugo awards. I thought his comments were worth taking up and I’ll be doing so here. I had a friendly private exchange with John on the subject, and I want to emphasize that I view this as a discussion more than a debate.

You can find John’s remarks here:

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2015/06/21/note-to-wsfs-members-killing-the-best-novelette-hugo-is-a-terrible-idea/

Since he put up this post and he and I had our private exchange, John’s major objection seems to have become a moot point. It now seems that the proposed amendment to the Hugo rules that would have eliminated the category of “Best Novelette” has been withdrawn.

But he also registered a disagreement, if not as strong a one, to the idea of adding a category for “Best Saga.” (I.e., a best series award.) And that’s what I want to address in this essay.

I want to start indirectly, though, by taking up some comments that were made by other people in response to John’s post. I was particularly struck by comments that expressed either indifference or even hostility to a series award because it would mostly benefit male authors.

A series award wouldn’t be helpful to female authors?

Let’s consider some authors active today in fantasy and science fiction:

  • Ilona Andrews
  • Kelley Armstrong
  • Elizabeth Bear
  • Patricia Briggs
  • Jacqueline Carey
  • Julie Czerneda
  • Kate Elliott
  • Diana Gabaldon
  • Barbara Hambly
  • Laurell K. Hamilton
  • Charlaine Harris
  • Tanya Huff
  • Kim Harrison
  • Robin Hobb
  • Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • Mercedes Lackey
  • Elizabeth Moon
  • Naomi Novik
  • Jody Lynn Nye
  • Tamora Pierce
  • Melanie Rawn
  • Laura Resnick
  • Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • Nalini Singh
  • Judith Tarr
  • Sherri Tepper
  • Margaret Weis
  • Janny Wurtz
  • Jane Yolen
  • Sarah Zettel

Of the thirty authors listed above:

All are popular and have published many books.

All of them work heavily and in some cases exclusively in series.

Twenty-nine and a half are female. (Ilona Andrews is a wife-and-husband team.)

Twenty-four have never been nominated for a Hugo award.

Four were nominated once for fiction, but didn’t win (Robin Hobb as Megan Lindholm, Elizabeth Moon, Naomi Novik and Sherri Tepper).

Only two, Elizabeth Bear and Kristine Kathryn Rusch, have ever won a Hugo—twice, in Bear’s case—but neither of them won for best novel. (Rusch was nominated frequently for a Hugo as best professional editor and won once, but I’m only discussing awards for writing.)

My apologies beforehand, by the way, for any author I overlooked who ought to be in the list above. I’m working from memory and I don’t have a major bookstore nearby where I could double-check my list against the authors on the shelves. I’m sure I’m overlooking several people.

But I’ve listed more than enough to make my point, which is that the idea that female authors wouldn’t benefit from having a series award is just….

Well. Silly. Of course they would.

Would they benefit as much as men? I have no idea. That depends entirely on the literary preferences of Hugo voters. Having a category of awards devoted to series would simply expand the possibilities, that’s all. It’s neither intrinsically male nor female.

I can say one thing for sure and certain. If Hugo voters change their current indifference to paranormal romance—a sub-genre of F&SF that has become so popular it now often gets its own section in bookstores—then you’re likely to see women winning a series/saga award year after year after year. The problem here, from the standpoint of gender diversity, is not the presence or absence of a series/saga award. It’s the tastes and opinions of people who vote on Hugo awards.

If you want to expand the range of those tastes and opinions, you’d do it far more effectively by adding a series/saga award that might draw the attention of the millions of people who read paranormal romance and completely ignore the Hugos, than you would by deliberately restricting the range of awards on the grounds that male authors might benefit disproportionately. Which is an ass-backwards way of dealing with the issue of diversity in any event.

Of the many paranormal romance authors listed above, my own tastes and opinions on the subject lead me to prefer Ilona Andrews, followed by Patricia Briggs. My wife Lucille’s tastes are broader than mine when it comes to paranormal romance—possibly because she’s female, but who knows?—and while she’s very fond of Andrews and Briggs she’d probably favor Nalini Singh over any of the others.

But leaving aside the fact that Lucille’s tastes and mine overlap a lot but aren’t identical, one thing is for damn sure: We both prefer the work of several paranormal romance authors over many of the works that have been nominated for the Hugo award for the last decade or two. I doubt very much if we’re alone in that assessment. But given that almost all paranormal romance authors work in series—exclusively so, for the majority of them—it’s difficult for any of them to even get nominated for a Hugo, much less win one.

Just how difficult is it? That leads me to one of John Scalzi’s major points, which is the following. (It’s in his comments on the post, not the post itself.)

          “First, books in series get nominated for the Hugo all the time. Two of my own Best Novel nominations were for books in series — The Last Colony, which was book three of the Old Man’s War series, and Zoe’s Tale, which was the fourth. Excluding first novels in a series, sequel novels and series installments made the ballot in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. Additionally, numerous sequels/series installments have won the Best Novel award: Ask Bujold, Robinson, Card, Vinge, Brin or Cherryh about that.

“The current proposal (in my opinion) complains that sequels/series not getting nominated just isn’t enough, they have to win, too, and recently they haven’t. And, I don’t know. I see that as a weird bit of entitlement. There’s no structural barrier to sequels/series installment winning — it’s been done numerous times — so perhaps it’s simply the actual voters who currently favor stand-alones to sequels/series installments. There’s no reason why the award has to follow market trends (which is an argument pulled into the proposal), so griping about the recent lack of wins for sequels really feels like these proposers are saying to the voters “No, you’re voting all wrong.” Which they are not. In any event, there’s no reason why the pendulum couldn’t suddenly swing back towards series installments winning.”

I have two disagreements with this argument, the first of which is a disagreement in detail. (So to speak.)

That’s this: Most of the winners he names—he himself is the only exception, in fact—date back to a very different period in our genre as well as the awards. David Brin last won a Hugo for a series novel almost thirty years ago. The same is true for C. J. Cherryh and Orson Scott Card. Kim Stanley Robinson won for Blue Mars almost twenty years ago. Vernor Vinge last won for a series novel fifteen years ago. Lois McMaster Bujold won for Paladin of Souls over a decade ago.

I think it’s a bad mistake to conflate two quite different periods in F&SF. One of the main points I tried to make in my first essay on the subject is that when the genre of F&SF was much smaller—as it was thirty and even twenty years ago—it was a lot easier for readers to keep track of the various authors and their work. Today, it’s simply impossible.

Secondly, except for Bujold, all of the winners have won with hard SF novels. (And most of Bujold’s Hugo awards came for SF also—Paladin of Souls is something of an outlier, being a fantasy novel.) Granted, I’m defining “hard SF” a little more loosely that many people would. But it’s still true that fantasy in all its forms including urban fantasy and paranormal romance is almost entirely absent from John’s list. That, despite the fact that traditional SF is today much less popular than fantasy, especially when you include paranormal romance and urban fantasy.

But my biggest difference with John’s approach has to do with something very general—about as general as it gets, in fact.

What are the goals of literary awards in the first place? And what’s the best way to achieve those goals?

There are two ways to look at this. The first is the way John is looking at it, which runs throughout his entire argument, not just in the two paragraphs I quoted above. For John, awards should not only be a recognition for excellence, they should be designed to encourage the development of new talent by being concentrated in those areas where new talent is most likely to emerge.

Hence, he champions short fiction awards. Please note that John is not disagreeing with a point I made in my first essay and have repeated many times since—to wit, that short fiction represents only a very small slice of F&SF whether you measure that either in terms of readers or (especially) the income of authors. He simply feels that’s not very relevant because what he sees as most important is the following:

It [a “Best Saga” award] privileges the established writer over the newer writer. Almost by definition, the authors who are eligible for the “Best Saga” award are very likely be writers who are already successful enough to have a long-running series and the ability to publish in those series on a recurring basis. It’s theoretically possible to have someone toiling away on a series in utter obscurity and suddenly emerge with a knockout installment that would pop that writer up into “Best Saga” consideration, but as a practical matter, it’s almost certainly more likely than not that the nominees in the category would be those authors with perennially popular series — people, to be blunt, like me and a relatively few other folks, who are already more likely to have won the “genre success” lottery than others.

I don’t disagree with the point John makes when he says that “the authors who are eligible for the ‘Best Saga’ award are very likely to be writers who are already successful enough to have a long-running series and the ability to publish in those series on a recurring basis.”

He’s absolutely right about that. But where he sees that as a problem, I see it as an essential feature of any award structure that’s designed to attract the attention of its (supposed) audience. In fact, it was exactly the way the Hugo awards looked in their heyday in the 1960s and 1970s.

          Who were the winners of the Hugo awards for Best Novel back in those days? I’ll start with 1958, since that’s the first year following which an award was always handed out for best novel:

  •           1958: Fritz Leiber, The Big Time
  •           1959: James Blish, A Case of Conscience
  •           1960: Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers
  •           1961: Walter M. Miller, Jr., A Canticle For Leibowitz
  •           1962: Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land
  •           1963: Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle
  •           1964: Clifford Simak, Way Station
  •           1965: Fritz Leiber, The Wanderer
  •           1966: Frank Herbert, Dune
  •                    Roger Zelazny, Call Me Conrad (tie)
  •           1967: Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
  •           1968: Roger Zelazny, Lord of Light
  •           1969: John Brunner, Stand on Zanzibar
  •           1970: Ursula Le Guin, Left Hand of Darkness
  •           1971: Larry Niven, Ringworld
  •           1972: Philip José Farmer, To Your Scattered Bodies Go
  •           1973: Isaac Asimov, The Gods Themselves
  •           1974: Arthur C. Clarke, Rendezvous With Rama
  •           1975: Ursula Le Guin, The Dispossessed
  •           1976: Joe Haldeman, The Forever War
  •           1977: Kate Wilhelm, Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang
  •           1978: Frederick Pohl, Gateway
  •           1979: Vonda N. McIntyre, Dreamsnake
  •           1980: Arthur C. Clarke, The Fountains of Paradise

Reads exactly like “the establishment” that John decries, doesn’t it? And there’s a reason for it, which is that in those days it wasn’t easy for an author to get a novel published. F&SF was still mostly a short form genre at least until the mid-late 70s. Today, new writers take it for granted that they can start their careers with a novel—as I did myself. Not “take it for granted” in the sense that it’s easy, which it’s certainly isn’t. But nobody today thinks it odd that a publisher would publish a new author’s first novel despite that author having no significant history as a writer.

That just wasn’t true in the 60s and 70s. With very, very few exceptions, an author had to demonstrate that they had a successful history as a short fiction writer before a publisher would be willing to gamble on them with a novel.

In other words, the very same situation that John (quite accurately) depicts with series today—[it] privileges the established writer over the newer writer—was the situation with stand-alone novels several decades ago.

But what that also meant was that when a young F&SF reader—like me—looked at the Hugo awards, they instantly recognized the authors and in many cases had either already read the novel awarded or went right out and got hold of a copy of it. And what also happened because youngsters like me paid attention to the Hugos—mostly because of the best novel award—was that they also got exposed to other writers who were winning awards for short fiction. And most of those writers were getting published in magazines which I also got exposed to because of the Hugo awards. Like most fourteen-year-olds, I couldn’t possibly have afforded a magazine subscription and my high school library—which is where I found most of the F&SF that I read—didn’t have a subscription either. Most libraries didn’t.

By the way, if you think the Hugo awards for short fiction were all that much different from the novel awards, think again. Here were the winners for the Hugo for novella from 1968 (when it was first given out) to 1980:

Philip José Farmer, Anne McCaffrey, Robert Silverberg, Fritz Leiber (1970 and 1971), Poul Anderson, Ursula Le Guin, James Tiptree, Jr. (1974 and 1977), George R.R. Martin, Roger Zelazny, Spider Robinson (1977 and again in 1978 with his wife Jeanne), John Varley and Barry Longyear. The only little-known author in the list (at the time he won the award) was Barry Longyear. All the others were already well established.

The award for best novelette wasn’t much different either. Here are the winners from 1967 (when it was first given out regularly) to 1980:

Jack Vance, Fritz Leiber, Poul Anderson (1969, 1973 and 1979), Harlan Ellison (1974 and 1975), Larry Niven, Isaac Asimov, Joan Vinge and George R.R. Martin. Again, there was only one author in the group who was little-known at the time, Joan Vinge.

It was only with the short story award that you saw more than one “non-establishment” author winning the Hugo. And there weren’t that many of those even in this category. From the inception of the short story award in 1955 to 1980, the winners were:

Eric Frank Russell, Arthur C. Clarke, Avram Davidson, Robert Bloch, Daniel Keyes, Poul Anderson (1961 and 1964), Brian Aldiss, Jack Vance, Gordon Dickson, Harlan Ellison (1966, 1968, 1969 and 1978), Larry Niven (1967, 1972 and 1975), Samuel R. Delaney, Theodore Sturgeon, R.A. Lafferty, Frederick Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth, Ursula Le Guin, Joe Haldeman, Fritz Leiber, C.J. Cherryh and George R.R. Martin.

The reason I call those days “the heyday” of the Hugo Award is because those were the days when a really big percentage of the mass audience—probably even the majority of readers—paid attention to the Hugos. And the main reason they paid attention was because most of the authors receiving the awards were people they’d heard of and in many cases already read.

Today, they don’t. That’s just a fact, whether fans who regularly attend Worldcons and vote on the Hugos like it or not. In the modern era, the Hugo awards are only of interest to a very small percentage of the F&SF audience and for the great majority of readers do not serve any longer as a guide to what they read (much less buy).

And here’s where I part company with John. I don’t disagree with him that one of the functions of a good literary award—as is true also of good literary reviews—is to boost the careers of promising new writers. But you don’t do that by narrowing the awards—or the reviews—to focus entirely or even mostly on such writers. Because if you do that, you start losing the very audience you’re presumably trying to expose those promising new writers to.

This is something the people behind the Oscar Awards have always been quite aware of. Whenever the Oscar nominees start drifting too far away from popular tastes—which any award will always tend to do for the reasons I laid out in a previous essay [see “TRYING TO KEEP LITERARY AWARDS FROM FAVORING LITERARY CRITERIA IS AN EXERCISE IN FUTILITY. GET OVER IT”]—then the number of people who watch the Academy Awards or buy movie tickets in response to the Oscars starts dropping, and before long it’s dropping like a stone. At that point, because unlike the Hugos there is a lot of money at stake, the Powers-That-Be in the movie industry use their muscle to get more popular films nominated. I know it will sound crude for me to say it, but it’s just a cold fact of life that handing out a certain number of awards to movies or books that lots of people have actually heard of is what makes them pay attention to the other nominees and winners.

An even better analogy than the Oscars is to look at how really good movie reviewers operate. Reviewing movies, unlike most forms of reviewing, is something that a person can actually make a living at—even a very good living, in the case of the top reviewers.

Take Roger Ebert, as an example. (But you could use almost any other well-known professional movie reviewer over the past half-century.) Every week, Ebert would run several reviews in his newspaper, the Chicago Sun-Times. Later in his life, he also worked through his own web site. But whatever venue he used, Ebert would always do the following:

Most of his reviews would focus on the popular new movies coming out. He did that because that was his profession. That’s what brought him an income—because new movies aimed at a popular audience were what most of his readers were interested in. That’s why they opened the pages of his review section or went to his web site in the first place.

Having done that, as all good reviewers do, Ebert would also champion one or two less well-known movies, or bring the reader/viewer’s attention to some older movie that had for one reason or another gotten overlooked. And for him to do so would provide a tremendous boost to such little-known movies. But that was only true because a huge audience was reading him in the first place. Whereas if he’d restricted his reviews to only those little-known movies, he never would have gotten those readers. In fact, he never would have been able to make a living as a full-time movie reviewer to begin with.

There will always be a tug-of-war when it comes to awards for literary or other artistic achievement between the interests and tastes of the relatively small number of people who decide who gets the award and the interests and tastes of the mass audience. That’s inevitable. At any given time, an award may swing too far in one direction or the other. If it swings too far in favor of popular taste, with no other consideration taken, then it runs the risk of becoming indistinguishable from sales—in which case, why have the award at all? But if it swings too far the other way, the tastes and opinions of the group which makes the decision becomes increasingly esoteric to the mass audience, which stops paying attention to the award. In which case also, what’s the point of having it?

At the moment, and for some time now, the “pendulum” of the Hugo awards has swung too far away from the mass audience. Where I differ from John is that I don’t see any way to reverse the increasing irrelevance of the Hugo awards to most F&SF readers unless the Hugos adopt one or another version of an award for series (i.e., the “Saga” award that’s being proposed). When most popular authors are working exclusively or almost exclusively in series and most of the awards are given for short fiction you will inevitably have a situation where the major awards in F&SF become irrelevant to most of the reading audience. Which, in turn, means that winning an award becomes less and less valuable in any terms beyond personal satisfaction.

If the idea of modifying an award structure to better match the interests of the mass audience really bothers you, grit your teeth and call it Danegeld. But it works.

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

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93 Responses to A DISCUSSION WITH JOHN SCALZI ABOUT THE PROPOSED “SAGA” AWARD

  1. Mike says:

    I think you are right about your pendulum. The last time I really thought much about Hugo awards at all was when my favorite author (Bujold) was winning them.

    All this Sad Puppy energy is more about Someone Is Wrong On The Internet than it is about the Hugos themselves, I think. (Or maybe I’m just projecting my own feelings onto others.)

  2. Steven Brust says:

    Interesting and thoughtful discussion. I honestly don’t know where I stand on this. When considering a series Hugo, one thing that needs to be addressed is: what counts as a series? The Lord of the Rings is a classic case of a novel split into three volumes–Jacqueline Carey also does this. Is that a series? Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files are fully self-contained novels that together tell a larger story, as do your own Ring of Fire novels. Is that a series? The Darkover novels of Marion Zimmer Bradly and the Pern novels of Anne McCaffery are examples of a third type: fully self-contained stories, but with a common background and sometimes overlapping characters. Do we count those?

    In the most obvious sense, one could say a series is whatever someone nominating a work thinks it is. But I can’t shake the feeling that if we try to do this without a definition, we’ll be inviting more flamewars, and that if we try to come up with a definition, it’ll be even worse.

    • rick gregory says:

      Other definitional issues are – Does the series need to be complete? If not, can it get nominated when each new volume comes out? If it isn’t complete and wins when, say, volume 5 is released and nominated, can it win in the future? What would it mean to have the same work win multiple times for the same award?

      Say that The Dresden Files won for Summer Knight, the 4th book in the series. If a later book was also excellent, could it be nominated and win? If so, isn’t that effectively a kind of Best Novel award vs Best Saga/Series? We’d then have two best novel awards which feels strange.

      On the other hand, if we require a series to be complete that works best for authors doing short series that just barely get over the lower word limit. A 4 book series could win and so could a 14 book series.

    • Mike says:

      Is The Lord Of Castle Black one novel, one third of a novel, one third of the last third of a saga, or what? And how does it relate to all the Vlad stories in this context? Are they all one saga, or are they different sagas set in the same universe sharing some of the same characters?

    • Tracy says:

      In practice, I really don’t think this would be as huge of a problem as a lot of people seem to think. When we write out our nomination ballots, well . . . we need something to call each relevant series. Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series is connected to her Naamah trilogy, but note the different names. The Dresden Files are only ever called The Dresden Files. (And apparently we’ll soon be getting some spinoff series, whose names will, presumably, be distinguishable from the “parent” series, and thus, I think would be very easy to distinguish on a ballot.) Tad Williams’s upcoming “The Last King of Osten Ard” trilogy will be connected to his earlier “Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn” series, but again, note the different names. The Lord of the Rings might have been envisioned as a single book, but speaking practically, it wasn’t treated as one. We have specific names for each individual book, and we have a name for the overarching series.

      In cases of overarching series with subseries, I’d say to allow either to be nominated, but to attach interlocking eligibility restrictions. For example: Discworld had a number of subcategories within it, and Sherwood Smith’s Sartorias-Delas series contains several subseries (the Inda series, the Crown Duel duology). In those sorts of instances, give the voters the option of nominating either the overarching series (Discworld, Sartorias-Delas) or only a specific subseries (Discworld: the Witches, the Inda series). But if a subseries wins the Hugo, we’d say that both the subseries and also the more general series are both now ineligible for whatever period of time/word length we end up going with. And if the overarching series wins, all of its subseries are now all ineligible for that period of time/word length. (Basically, allow the voters the option of nominating either an overarching series or a subseries, but with the caveat that whatever eligibility rules prevent the former from being renominated will necessarily also prevent the latter from being renominated, so as to prevent works from getting multiple unfair bites at the apple.)

      Two related series (like the “Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn”/”Last King of Osten Ard” groupings, or Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy/Tawny Man) would, in contrast, be treated as two separate series for purposes of eligibility, such that one of them winning would not render the other ineligible.

      Realistically, I think the solution to “how do we define a series” would just have to be “do we have a separate name for it? If yes, it can be nominated as a series, if not, it can’t.”

    • Eric Flint says:

      I understand your point, Steven, but it’s not just the definition of a “series” that’s fuzzy at the edges. The growing importance of electronic publication is starting to shred the category of “novel” also. And it won’t be long before even such seemingly straight-forward terms as “novella” and “short story” get fuzzy also. Much more than I think people realize, the terms we’ve all been using for award categories were shaped and defined by the technology of paper publishing.

      A “novel” — in the real world, forget word counts — was defined quite simply. It was a single story that was long enough to fill up one entire volume (with occasionally enough room for one or two shorter stories to be included). Originally, when paper volumes were slim, it was defined as “anything over 40,000 words.” As time went on and publishers — following the market — started insisting on longer stories, the formal definition became effectively meaningless. Stories in that length (i.e., 40K to 60K words) kept getting written — I’ve published half a dozen of them — but they were no longer considered “novels” because they were usually published as part of anthologies rather than as separate volumes.

      But all those definitions are becoming increasingly obsolete. We’re already seeing authors publishing what amount to novels but selling them in the form of serialized shorter segments. And on the flip side, a lot of authors are writing “short stories” that are impossible to separate from the context of the series in which they’re situated. By now, I’ve written at least a dozen of those.

      I suspect that eventually we’ll have to shift toward a system that’s somewhat analogous to the way the Emmys work. By which I mean letting the authors themselves define how they want one or another of their works categorized for the purpose of awards. Or being even blunter about it and having authors be the ones who nominate their work — which allows them to define which category they want the work to be considered for.

      The one problem with such a system is that it needs to be administered, and doing that with a volunteer organization like the World Science Fiction Society would be awkward. One way to handle it, which is what the Emmys do, would be to require nominators to pay a fee to nominate a work, the fee covering the expense of doing so.

      Yes, I can heard the outraged squawks already. “Privileges established authors rolling in their vast riches!” Perhaps a way to handle that would be to require the fee only for works that are self-nominated — which are the ones most likely to be fuzzy when it comes to category boundaries.

      But no matter how you slice it, I think that barn door slipped open a while ago. I can’t say I’m very concerned over the problem. In the real world, at least 99% of the time, the problem could be solved just by asking the author (or authors) how they view a given work of theirs. If they say, “it’s a novel that’s part of a series so it’s eligible under both categories,” just take their word for it.

      I know that sooner or later some jerk would try to game the system. But there’s a reason people like that are called “jerks.” The term implies stupid as well as shifty. Getting a reputation as a swindler in communities as relatively small as the ones which vote on F&SF awards is really a dumb move in the long run.

  3. Jared Wall says:

    I just want to thank you, Eric, for being a responsible voice during this entire Hugo Award controversy. I have read the works of some of the more vocal authors in this debate; Larry Correia, John Scalzi, George R.R. Martin, and yourself; for years now but had never thoughtfully considered what it truly meant for an author to win a Hugo Award. And though it has pained some to see the acrimony which has been spread around the blogosphere; it’s the thoughtful and measured posts by authors like yourself, and some others, which leads me to believe something good may come of this situation.

    Thank you for your informed opining and, of your course, your excellent books and short stories.

    -Jared W.

  4. Jared Dashoff says:

    As one of the proposers of this , I want to thank you for coninuing the discussion. We never assumed our first submission would be the final text that went into the WSFS constitution, we thought it was the start to the discussion. That discussion has led us to remove any reference to collapsing the novelette category (which we admit was a mistake in judgement based on our interactions with past WSFS Business Meetings and not on the fannish community as a whole or all of SFF readership), add in clarifying text about what a “saga” or series is and lower the needed word count. (This revision will be posted shortly on the Sasquan Business Meeting New Business page soon and we will also be posting to other places).

    I’d also like to thank you for pointing out some of the many women who can benefit from this award. I think there are many more who also could and we have drafted the proposal such that even new authors who don’t use traditional publishing methods, post online, or write a lot of short work in a given series, could be eligible. We really have tried to make the potential nomination community as large and diverse as possible. Although who gets nominated, and who appears on the final ballot will always be up to WSFS members and, more specifically, the subset who nominate and vote for the Hugos.

    Thank you also for your reasoning as to why the Saga Hugo is warranted. My reasoning is simple. I am not trying to do outreach to new SFF readers (that’s a side benefit you just showed me. Please, everyone come to Worldcon, it’s a blast). I am not trying to make the awards more literary. I am not trying to right the wrong of sequels and third installments not winning Best Novel. I just think it isn’t fair to either work to compare a stand-alone novel that, by definition, completes the entire story arc, with an installment of any length in a series of any length. It, to me, is apples and oranges, just like comparing an episode of a TV show (Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form) is to the whole season (Best Dramatic Presentation Long Form), or a short story to a novel. It does both works a disservice. They should be in different categories because they are different things. ESPECIALLY if the series isn’t made up of novel length volumes, which, as I mentioned above, is still eligible and a passion of mine.

    I invite more discussion on this (and the other proposals). I also invite all attending members of Sasquan to come to the Business Meeting, even if it is to vote against this. It is where the rules that govern the Hugos and Worldcon are made and all members should be a part of that process. I also invite those who aren’t attending members to propose business (there must be at least two sponsors of each proposal) and to become attending members of MidAmericon II or whichever Worldcon happens in 2017. As I said, it’s a blast.

  5. gahrie says:

    So his big objections are over something that in his opinion does not help women, and something in his opinion that helps the establishment.

    Sounds like a social justice warrior to me.

    • Mischa says:

      While I’m sure John is happy to be called a social justice warrior, in this case I think the main point is new authors vs established authors. As someone who follows him on twitter, I’ve noticed he does a variety of things to help newer authors gain a wider audience and become established.

      With that said, as someone who’s only been paying attention to the recent Hugo stuff because she’s bored, I think Eric has some very valid points and I hope they do go forward with some sort of saga Hugo.

  6. Tina Gower says:

    I can understand the hesitation about a Saga/series award favoring established authors, yet it still feels like a move in the right direction (I read mostly series, usually be women, so naturally I thought it was an award that would give more women a chance, not the opposite–with some of the best series work out there right now). But what about a “Best First Novel” category to off-set it? I think every genre has an award for this but SF/F. It would do well to point out new/emerging talent. I know the Campbell is supposed to do this, but it’s also open to short story writers and most new writers become ineligible for it the moment a first book comes out (usually because of some obscure semi-pro sale from years ago).

    Also thank you for mentioning my favorite authors: Armstrong, Singh, Gabaldon, and Briggs. Some of the best writers in the field right now.

    • Eric Flint says:

      I would be very much in favor of a “Best First Novel” award. I’m still nursing my wounds — well, not really; but I do grumble occasionally — from being disqualified for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer because I’d published one short story — count it, one! one measly damn story that barely qualified as a novelette! — four years before my eligibility period would have started with my first novel.

      And I’m not the only new author who got caught in that wringer. In the real world, in order to win the Campbell award you need to start your career either with a novel or several short stories coming out quickly, because you only have a two year window to qualify once you’ve made your first professional sale. The problem is that my pattern — selling one or two stories several years before my career finally took off — is very common. No one’s ever done a survey, so far as I know, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if my experience was more common than that of Campbell nominees.

      That was probably the best chance I would have ever had to win a major award, too. At least, my first novel MOTHER OF DEMONS was selected by Science Fiction Chronicle as one of the best novels in the year it came out.

      Ah, well. Jim Baen once said to me: “Eric, the best way for an author to fuck up a novel is to start worrying about the sequel.” He was right — and a corollary is that the best way for an author to fuck up a good career is to start fretting over awards. The novelette that disqualified me for the Campbell award, “Entropy, and the Strangler,” is also the story that won me first place in the winter quarter of 1992 in the Writers of the Future contest. Winning that contest, in turn, is what got me in touch with Dave Wolverton, who later helped me get an agent (Shawna McCarthy) who was the one who figured out that Baen Books was the publishing house most likely to buy MOTHER OF DEMONS. She was right — but I wouldn’t have thought of Baen myself, at least not until I’d spent several years shopping the book around elsewhere. I just didn’t know the market that well.

      • Reality Observer says:

        I’d forgotten about that particular one. Really, the “new writer” awards should be split up into corresponding ones with the Hugos. There are many writers who blaze into “great” when they find the right length for them – and can have a long period of “so-so” while they try for it.

        And, again, the definition of the Hugo is being manipulated by John Scalzi. It is (in original conception, and still advertised as) the “Best SF/F of the Year for XXXX.” Not “Best New Writer,” “Best Writer from an Underrepresented Background,” or any other such. I agree with you that the “Best,” for the entire huge field now covered by “SF/F,” even for one year, is never going to be agreed on within the self-selected members of WorldCon – but let’s at least TRY, OK, instead of redefining “green” as REALLY being “orange.”

        What are the options, here? Four of them, as I see it:

        1) Keep the definition as “Best” – with the realization that it’s only a rough approximation to that, as determined by the people that care enough to plunk down their money and fill out their ballot. You are free to disagree with the winner – whether your preference is for “fustian” Christian science fiction, or for homosexual revenge fantasy, or something quite different, you are not EVIL thereby. I didn’t think that the current POTUS was the best choice among those I was presented with, nor did a majority of the people that cared enough to vote – much less the number of people that were eligible to vote. I disagree with the result – but it wasn’t an EVIL conspiracy that put him in that position.

        2) Break the Hugo into subgenres, as well as length – with the realization that you still only have an approximation to “Best,” albeit probably a better one. (And that it could be a logistical nightmare – as I freely admit, even though this is my preference).

        3) Change the Hugo to whatever you think it “should” be celebrating, and advertise it as such. Where the subject is something that one is interested in, it will still mean something; everyone else can just ignore it.

        4) Give it up. Surrender. Acknowledge that the Hugo is actually meaningless to the vast majority of readers. Maybe run “nominations” for a “suggested reading list,” with no attempt to pick the “Best,” or filter the suggestions – then everyone (almost) will probably find something useful to fill their reading hours.

        • John Cowan says:

          For the record, the current POTUS received 52.9% of the popular vote in 2008 and 51.1% of the popular vote in 2012, so “a majority of the people that cared enough to vote” did indeed choose him. Turnout was about 60% in both cases. We can’t infer from the fact that many people didn’t vote what their preferences were: national polls just before the election in 2008 showed Obama substantially ahead, and in 2012 slightly ahead.

          • Reality Observer says:

            I phrased that very carefully.

            Of those that presented themselves for the office of President (you can read that as “authors who published” for an analogy) – the eventual winner was not the choice of a majority for that office, even among those who voted.

            Not having done an analysis down into the primaries (and polls done of “likely voters” where candidates dropped out before anyone could cast a vote for them – I, for one, did not have a chance to cast a vote for my choice as “best” at any time), I will concede that Obama was perhaps the choice of a plurality – but IMHO it was not by very much.

            • Mike says:

              The voting rules for the Hugo are clear (assuming you understand preferential voting). The voting rules for US President are much less clear because they have been gamed for more than 200 years, but even with that it was clear that Obama won by the biggest margins seen in decades.

              The only point you are succeeding in making is that when somebody massages their language and interpretation of the facts enough, they can basically lie but still claim that under certain interpretations they are telling the truth.

              • Reality Observer says:

                And when somebody massages their interpretation of someone else’s words enough, they can impute anything to them that they wish.

                Did I claim that Obama did not receive a majority of the popular vote in the general election? No. I stated that he was not the “best” choice, according to the voters, of the entire field of declared candidates. Which he was not.

                By the way, if I am getting your “recent decades” time period correctly guessed – it obviously must start some time after Ronald Reagan’s reelection – he also is not the lowest on that “best” choice figure – Bill Clinton is at the bottom there, followed by GW Bush (their first elections, not their reelections).

                And, yes, I do understand “preferential voting” – also called the Australian system. Despite the obligatory elitist sneer at “dumb hicks.” For a purpose like determining the “best” work of literature (the rough approximation to it, actually), it is a pretty good one. I oppose it’s use in politics, though, for the same reason I ignore the Hugos the vast majority of the time – there is little chance that it will produce a “winner” that I can even tolerate, since it represents the choice of a tiny minority – even of those who actually vote. (Whether I happen to be of that tiny minority at some particular time does not affect that opinion.)

              • Mike says:

                It’s kind of hilarious. The one part of that post that was a pointed comment about you massaging your words in order to lie and claim you weren’t, you completely ignored.

                Instead, you jumped all over the insult I offered you about not understanding preferential voting — even though I didn’t say that or intend to say that. But the need to feel righteous indignation over being insulted is strong in you apparently. So strong that you’ll feel it whether insult is even offered or not.

              • Steve says:

                If the claim’s that he’s not who a majority of people wanted, isn’t that a claim that you have to subtract out from his general election total (which was a majority) everybody who voted for someone else in the primaries? People who voted for him both times are the only ones who thought he was best overall. It’s like France: 51.6% voted for Hollande against just Sarkozy – but only 28.6% when there were more choices, so you can’t say a majority of French people thought Hollande was the best choice for President.

            • John Cowan says:

              In fact you were free to vote in one of your state’s primaries or caucuses for whomever you chose, including a member of another party. U.S. presidential elections are a little funky because you don’t, strictly speaking, vote for a candidate, but for pledged electors. Even if everyone in Texas had voted for me in 2012, for instance, I wouldn’t gain any electoral votes, because I had no electors.

              Is there a write-in option on the Hugo ballot, or are you constrained to vote only for the nominees and No Award?

              • Reality Observer says:

                No, no write-in on the ballot.

                That would be an absolute nightmare.

                We’re OK (pretty much) if we don’t award a Hugo in one category / year; we can do without. Can’t do so well without a President, though, whether or not we actually wanted THAT one. (Unless you are a Super Libertarian, cape and all…).

  7. Pat H says:

    Now that the proposal to add the Best Saga award has been separated from the elimination of Best Novelette, it’s good to see it get the kind of attention it deserves. I have not yet made up my own mind. I do, however, predict that if it passes, with whatever word limit or volume limit seems appropriate, it will not take long before some SF author somewhere writes a work that meets that criteria, in spite of being not quite what was meant by the proposal. I am not suggesting that someone will intentionally game the rules, although that is possible. It’s just that I am seeing some very interesting things in the marketplace already. John Scalzi is releasing a novel as a set of four novellas as well. In less notable spheres, many new authors being ‘self published’ on Amazon as e-books only, have discovered that breaking a novel into smaller parts allows them to sell them at a price low enough attract readers reluctant to spend lots of money on authors they don’t know, while keeping the total price of the work high enough to keep the author happy. Some even start out writing a novella, and end up with 10 or more in a series, which will probably meet the ‘Saga’ definition, without a single novel having been written. I think it’s going to get interesting pretty soon now.

    • Jared Dashoff says:

      Writing 10 or more novellas, as long as they sum to the word count (which we are still working on; we keep getting suggestions from authors, fans, publishers, editors, etc. who point out series/sagas we might miss with one number and then we have to balance that with not having someone write one novel and tack on a VERY short story or two and be eligible) then they would be eligible. In fact, that’s part of the point, to give work published at less than novel length in a series building fashion just as much credit as work in a series that’s published in novel length volumes and to not have any of that have to be compared against any stand-alone works and not have the stand-alones compared against any of that, as they all lose in that scenario.

  8. Tina Connell says:

    The whole ‘Saga’ question/proposal leaves me divided in my thinking on the subject. There are quite a few really good authors/books that don’t seem to get nominated ‘because it’s just part of a series,’ and this would be an opportunity to recognize those authors/series. But on the other hand, there are some very popular but interminable series which the authors, or perhaps their publishers, keep going even if the overall ‘saga’ is rambling, poorly plotted, and overblown, because it keeps the bucks rolling in. Somehow, I have a sinking feeling that the latter would be the ones that would end up on the nominees list.

  9. Erwin says:

    Mid-term, the most practical method to increase the relevance of the Hugo awards might be to add additional awards in area that are relatively underrepresented (relative to percentage of the business/popularity). For now, that’ll lead to a proliferation of novel-type awards. At the moment, the problem of privileging established authors is not relevant – the Hugo awards have swung far enough from popular opinion that most SF&F readers ignore them – so they don’t even help new authors.

    Later, when the awards list becomes unwieldy, the extreme pain of removing an award can be explored – and each existing award will likely have a constituency.

    @Tina And, to some extent, I suspect that it exactly Eric’s point. Picking some sagas purely on popularity will boost the relevance of the Hugos in the same way that giving Oscars to some terrible popular movies boosts the relevance of the Oscars. I wouldn’t worry too much, I’d argue that some objectively terrible novels have won Hugo awards already – no category is perfect.

  10. Laura Runkle says:

    Thank you for a response of passionate reason. I do have a couple of quibbles with your analysis. Joe Haldeman’s Hugo in 1974 was for his first SF novel, which was the MFA thesis he wrote at the U of Iowa Writer’s Workshop.

    Second, if the reason for the Hugo is to bring recognition to new voices in the field, then the Sad Puppies make much more sense – they feel that Hugo awards might send a message to editors that it is good not to publish “message fiction,” and a still broader range of books might be published. I disagree with both Scalzi and the Sad Puppies, but Scalzi’s arguments that the Hugos are supposed to bring visibility to new voices makes the Puppies arguments make sense as a counterpoint.

    • gahrie says:

      The problem is, the SJWers don’t want to “bring visibility to new voices” if they are the “wrong” voices. Their whole problem with the Sad Puppies is precisely the fact that they don’t think that the Sad Puppies voices should be heard. They’re (the Sad Puppies) racists, sexists, etc etc and thus must be silenced, or at the very least marginalized.

      • Eric Flint says:

        I swear, it’s like arguing with a lamp post. Do you ever listen to anyone?

        To recapitulate points I’ve by now made, oh, mayb eight jillion times:

        1) WHO are “the SJWers?” NAME NAMES, dammit. John Scalzi? Patrick Nielsen Hayden? Me? WHO? I ask because I want to know…

        2) Exactly HOW do “the SJWers” silence or marginalize the Sad Puppies? Do they stuff the ballot boxes? Send out death squads? Inquiring minds want to know just exactly how “the SJWers” [whoever the hell they are] wield these dictatorial powers over a body of people — the voters are the attendees at Worldcon and people who buy supporting memberships, remember? or did you let that slip from your mind? — are fairly notorious for being as easy to herd as the proverbial cats.

        I’m waiting for an answer to these two questions. Happily, I am not holding my breath because I’ve been waiting for an answer to them since I got involved in this debate, and have yet to hear one. All I ever hear is the same broken record: “the SFWers with their mysterious and demonic powers of mind control are crushing the puir little puppies under the iron heel of blah blah blah, rinse and repeat…”

        • Reality Observer says:

          “…the voters are the attendees at Worldcon and people who buy supporting memberships…”

          So what’s the problem? Why are there temper tantrums this year from (many of) the Left? Why the cries of “neo-Nazis,” “racists,” “homophobes,” “bad to reprehensible?”

          Why are accusations coming (again, from many of the Left) of… ballot box stuffing, buying votes, death threats, restoring the “patriarchy,” destroying “social justice?”

      • Forgot My Name says:

        The whole problem with puppies are that they are boring. Everyone has a bias. That’s why we have awards. I have seen your slate. Good luck with that.

      • Mike says:

        Strangely enough, it is the SPs who keep talking about “wrong” choices, “wrong” fun, “wrong” fans, etc. You complain about it a lot, but you are the only ones I see using that word.

        • Reality Observer says:

          Ah, of course, the Puppies cannot summarize the arguments of their opponents.

          Only the Left can do that – everyone who opposes them is a “neo-Nazi racist homophobe.”

          And only one of those summaries is based on real statements – the other is not.

          • Mike says:

            There is a difference between “summarizing the arguments of your opponents” and “making up straw arguments that you attribute to your opponents”. This “wrongfan” stuff is very clearly the latter.

            • Reality Observer says:

              “I think at least two of those nominees turned down the nomination. I hope they someday get a real one.”

              Who said that? Those nominations were not “real,” huh? How can they be “unreal” if they were made by legitimate fans?

              Sorry – “wrongfan” wasn’t created by TNH – but it sure is what she means.

              And, of course, sites like this don’t exist: http://deirdre.net/the-puppy-free-hugo-award-voters-guide/

              Anything that any variety of Puppy liked is automatically wrong. Because they are wrong. Because anybody who also liked that something (even if they are a Socialist Black Lesbian Transgender), is wrong if they vote for it.

              Um, can this be summarized? Wrong ideas, by wrong people, anyone who agrees with anything they say is wrong.

              • Books first, food later. says:

                Sadly, Mike is certain to ignore any facts or evidence of reality that contradict his fabricated internal narrative. That fact notwithstanding, I must say this was nicely put. More examples exist, but these are good ones.

        • Bibliotheca Servare says:

          Honestly, you should get that short term memory thing looked at, Mike. I mean we *just* *had* this conversation. Do memory problems like that happen often? If so, it may be worth asking you primary care physician about; he or she should have a recommendation for a specialist, if s/he thinks it could be a symptom of a deeper issue that needs addressing. And yes, my tongue is quite firmly in my cheek. I refuse to keep rehashing the same rebuttals to the same stale, inaccurate, red-herring-style arguments. Stop making yourself look, at best, like a fool and, at worst, an intellectually dishonest ass. Just because a convention of KKK members never utters the “n-word” and just because it’s actually a mispronunciation of the French/Latin word for black, doesn’t mean the “n-word” was invented by “persons of color” (how anyone can use that term and not recognize it’s just “colored people” flipped around with “of” slapped in the middle is a mystery to me) and, as such, that ascribing the use of it, or using it as a distillation of the KKK’s horrific ideology is nonsense. It means neither of those things. Just because a person says “S/he needs to be sent to the pound and put down” doesn’t mean they’ve called the subject of that quote a dog, or an animal, but…they have. The argument is the same, even when the issue is of far less seriousness. The same technique may be used to analyze any rhetoric, no matter the topic. Just because the Nielsen-Haydens, Mercedes Lackey, and others have described the supporters of “The Campaign to Prevent Puppy-Related Sadness” as being uniquely suited to the title “puppy” and that, given that title, they should be put down and sent to the pound, respectively, does not mean they’ve called me and my friends and family dogs, and said we should be killed, but the rhetoric is the same. Wrongfan is the same chain of logic. And look, I’ve gone and rehashed most of that old rebuttal despite my disinclination to do so. I should probably have that compulsion looked at. Maybe we could go together! :-P
          God bless and be well.

  11. Pingback: The Snifferance Engine 6/23 | File 770

  12. Stevie says:

    I am baffled by the exclusion of CJ Cherryh’s ‘Foreigner’ series from people’s discussions; if a 15 volume (to date) by one of SF/F’s greatest writers is simply taken for granted then perhaps we should be questioning why it’s taken for granted.

    I’m grateful to Eric et al for getting this discussion up and running, and I very much hope that a series award will emerge from it.

    • Eric Flint says:

      I didn’t include her in my list for the same reason I didn’t include Bujold or Rowling — C.J. Cherryh has won the Hugo three times, twice for Best Novel. My purpose was quite narrow: I just wanted to demonstrate how many female authors there were who regularly work in series and have either never been nominated for a Hugo (which was 5 out of 6 on my list) or only been nominated once or twice — and then usually for short fiction, not novels.

      That was in response to some posts in John Scalzi’s site expressing reservations or even hostility to the idea of a “Best Saga” award because it would purportedly benefit male authors and not female authors.

      Mind you, it is indeed possible that a Best Saga award would be handed out disproportionately to male authors. But that wouldn’t be because of the intrinsic nature of the award itself, it would be because of the literary tastes and preferences of Hugo voters. If, for instance, Hugo voters continued the existing pattern of being favorable toward military SF series and indifferent to paranormal romance series, then, yes, the Best Saga award might wind up being slanted in favor of male rather than female authors.

      But that problem is intrinsic to the Hugo awards themselves. I will be as blunt as I possibly can. I have often thought that the literary opinions and preferences of Hugo voters over the past several decades have been… ah…

      (be polite, Flint, be polite)

      Not correct. Let’s leave it at that. But so what? I have also often thought that the political opinions and preferences of the American public over the past several decades when looking at who they elect to office have been… ah…

      (don’t say it, Flint, just don’t say it)

      Not correct.

      Such is the nature of democracy. The problem with both the Sad Puppies and some of their opponents is that their real complaint is that they dislike the way Worldcon attendees and supporters members vote on the Hugo awards — or even MIGHT vote on the awards. And they try to get around the awkward and annoying reality of a democratic process by either stacking the vote with slates or supporting or not supporting a given award based on who they think might win it, regardless of whether the award is a good one on its own merits.

      • David Lang says:

        I really disagree with your characterization of the SP here.

        The SP were not trying to “get around the awkward and annoying reality of a democratic process”, they were just trying to participate and vote in the democratic process. Nobody imagined that they would come remotely close to sweeping the nominations.

        • Mike says:

          Nobody was ever preventing them from participating in that process. In fact, what happened this year proved that.

          • David Lang says:

            I was referring to this part of Eric’s post referring to both the Sad Puppies and the people who so strongly oppose them.

            “And they try to get around the awkward and annoying reality of a democratic process by either stacking the vote with slates or supporting or not supporting a given award based on who they think might win it, regardless of whether the award is a good one on its own merits.”

        • Eric Flint says:

          You’re being disingenuous. Absolutely nothing prevented Larry Correia or Brad Torgersen or anyone else who agreed with them from nominating whoever they wanted to nominate, just like anyone else does. What frustrated them was that they knew that if they did so, they didn’t stand much chance of winning anything — or even being nominated at all.

          Why? Because most Hugo voters don’t agree with their preferences and tastes when it comes to F&SF. What the hell — they don’t agree with mine, either. So it goes. It’s called “democracy.”

          And that’s why the Sad Puppies used the slate method. As any number of people have shown mathematically over the past few months, when one faction puts forward a slate and no one else does, the slate nominees have a tremendous advantage given the way Hugo voting takes place. It is quite possible for a slate to get a completely disproportionate number of its candidates nominated compared to everyone else, because everyone else’s votes are widely scattered. You can easily wind up with a situation where candidates that are disliked by a big majority of voters still wind up dominating the nominations.

          In fact, I suspect that’s exactly what happened this year. We’ll find out in a short time when the votes are counted. I may be wrong, but I think what we’ll discover is that the SP (and especially RP) slates that wound up dominating the ballot don’t actually have much support with the broad majority of voters.

          In the long run, of course, if the puppies keep up the slate method, it will backfire on them because other people will start running slates that are almost certain to crush the puppy slates. The only way that wouldn’t happen would be if the puppies had a majority of Hugo voters on their side — and if that were true, they wouldn’t have used the slate tactic in the first place. There would have been no need to.

          • David Lang says:

            Yes, we will see when the numbers are available how many people voted straight slates. It seems pretty clear from the information that Chaos Horizon was able to distill from the way the nomination counts changed as people withdrew that it was far from flat slate voting even within a category, and the nomination totals show that it was never anything close to a flat slate vote across all categories.

            But you are saying that the intent of the SP was to “get around the … democratic process” and as someone who nominated some of the things on the SP3 slate, some that weren’t and left blanks where I didn’t know enough to vote, saying that my vote wasn’t real nominations, but instead was an attempt to subvert the democratic process is saying that I don’t know what I was doing and you do.

            Yes, mathematically it is possible for a small number of votes to dominate the resulting nominations, but where is the evidence that the intent of the puppies was to eliminate all other nominees? Or that anyone on the SP side was thinking about the potential of a small group to dominate the nomination slots? I would have expected that if the vocal SP folks were even thinking of this possibility, some of them would be accusing the SJWs of doing exactly this. The lack of such accusations is part of what makes me confident that nobody had thought of this at that point.

            I’m not saying anything about the intent of Vox and the Rabid Puppies, I am not them and I don’t know what they were thinking. but I believe that the SP were as surprised as everyone else at how the nominations came out.

            • Mike says:

              Are we going to have the same arguments all over again? Maybe the comments on this post should try to stick to the topic of “saga award or not”.

            • Books first, food later. says:

              I could swear I wrote a long reply in support of your comment, David, but it appears to either (a) have been a hallucination or (b) been removed by a moderator. (Or something) Anyway, thanks for pointing out that supporting “Sad Puppies” doesn’t mean voting the “straight slate” and accepting orders from Larry, Brad, Kate and Co. like some kind of automaton. I didn’t vote in line with Brad’s suggestions, and I suspect that holds true for many of the “Sad Puppies” based on comments from them, and the fact that the “SP3” “slate” was significantly less successful than the slate of the rabid puppies. Slates have been done before, they’ve just never been as successful as the two that were done this year. GRR Martin said as much, as have other “trufans.” I’m not Larry’s proxy vote. Neither are you. I don’t know why that’s not obvious. God bless, and thanks again.

              • Reality Observer says:

                It is just that attitude that convinced me to pony up money to vote this year. (I was in no shape to cough up the dollars in time to nominate, but I will certainly vote.)

                Mr. Flint – I do respect you. But what you just said is the equivalent of telling a Black man that he voted for Obama just because he was too blind to do anything but vote on the basis of skin color (or the letter next to the name).

                While that is undoubtedly true of SOME, it is a gross insult to the majority. Just as it is a gross insult to a White “R” such as myself to tell me that I voted the opposite way just because Romney was White and had an “R” after the name. I detest the current POTUS for many reasons, NONE of them having to do with his race or his Party.

          • Forgot My Name says:

            “In the long run, of course, if the puppies keep up the slate method, it will backfire on them because other people will start running slates that are almost certain to crush the puppy slates. ”

            Or fans broaden the base. There are awards that the puppies can’t freep. They simply are not numerous to matter.

          • Books first, food later. says:

            David Lang said it well, but I just wanted to chime in: So, my vote was just an effort to subvert the democratic process? I voted just because I felt like cheating (while obeying the rules)? Thanks for telling me! I thought that I voted because I was excited to participate in the Hugo award, an award Heinlein won, and I was eager to see “Warbound” recognized, along with other books I felt were worthy of the title “best” in SF/F. I thought I didn’t vote the “straight slate” and that the “Sad Puppy” slate was far less successful than the rabid puppy slate, because dictating to Larry, et al’s fans is like “herding cats” and as such they failed (or succeeded in not doing so) to vote the “straight slate” and simply voted for their preferences, without giving a damn about the sex, race, faith, politics, sexual orientation, or other special classification method, of the author. (Looooong run-on. Sorry) I really thought all that. Thanks for letting me know how shockingly wrong I was in my understanding of my own actions and my understanding of my fellow “Sad Puppy” supporters! I feel much better now, knowing I’m just a brainless, or at least unscrupulous, pawn Ina much larger game. If this much sarcasm is too boorish, I apologize, but if this is your house, how is it okay to tell your guests not to insult you (understandable) while at the same time, as their host, insulting those same guests? I am neither an unscrupulous schemer, nor a pawn in someone else’s game. I’m a reader that happens to love both your work and Larry, Sarah, Brad, Peter, Dave, Kate, Cedar, Amanda, and Co’s work, and I’m a voter who votes without asking for a list of who to vote for. I’m a fan. Not a fen, or a trufan, just a book addict (hence my handle) with a libertarian political worldview augmented by my deeply held Christian faith, and a firm belief in the value of reason and logic. I’m a nerd. A Romantic (I’d have no problem with paranormal romance getting involved in the Hugo’s, lol). A Historiographer. A scientist, of sorts. A caretaker. A gardener. A writer. An amateur editor. And many other things. I am not a moron, an incontinent “puppy” (per Mercedes Lackey) who should be sent to the pound, or a republican/extreme right-wing toady. Thanks for reading, and for writing. God bless you.

            • Books first, food later. says:

              And now this one is in moderation. Huh. *crosses fingers* Hope it posts! ;-)

              • Reality Observer says:

                The one thing about Eric is that (unless you are an absolute raving ass), he let’s contradictory posts through.

                Which is why I will post here – but not on Scalzi’s blog, or Gerrold’s, or Tor.com. They reflexively remove anything that does not support the narrative (or they unleash the “you vile neo-Nazi, etc.” on them).

              • Eric Flint says:

                Some posts get tagged for my approval for reasons that presumably the computer understands (fine, fine, the whoozit software, whatever) but I don’t. The actual approval is not done by me but by some of my loyal minions. They let everything through with a very very rare exception that might get kicked over to me for my personal attention. In which case, I will approve it. I have tossed exactly one — count ’em, one — person out of here for putting up a post that irritated me. Partly because it was personally insulting but mostly because I found the jerk’s chutzpah went a little too far even for my relaxed standards.

                But it takes a couple of days, sometimes. The minions have lives of their own, as amazing as that sounds.

      • Forgot My Name says:

        “I didn’t include her in my list for the same reason I didn’t include Bujold or Rowling — C.J. Cherryh has won the Hugo three times, twice for Best Novel. My purpose was quite narrow: I just wanted to demonstrate how many female authors there were who regularly work in series and have either never been nominated for a Hugo…”

        Point taken. Add Deborah Harkness to your list for her “All Souls Trilogy”. Book 3 in the series won the Goodreads Choice Award for fantasy. Sanderson was second and Butcher was 3rd. Harkness had more votes than the other two combined. If you compare her to the Sci Fi winners and those placing 2nd in 3rd in Sci-fi, she pretty much skunked them as well.

        You mentioned Diana Gabaldon who has a very large fan base and whose series is on Book 9 now.

        Would fans join to support their favorite authors? I don’t know but I don’t think broadening the base would be a bad thing.

        I like the idea of a series award if it can be workable. The only thing that bothers me is the logistics of fans trying to cast a vote for 5 best series and having multiple books in each series. If we are comfortable with fans just voting their favorites without reading every book or in some cases none of the books that’s fine.

        Also, are we comfortable that we can get 5 good nominations every year for a series and does that matter?

  13. Can a woman write a successful Saga?

    I seem to remember this Rowling woman — of course, she was from the UK, and did her only American autograph session that I know of in the town where I live — had reasonable sales, enough to make her one of the wealthiest people in the UK. She might have been a credible choice.

    Certainly, if you want to point at people who influenced the course of SF, and thus deserves an award, Rowling ranks with Tolkein and Star Trek. If you don’t believe me, look at juvenile fiction now and 25 years ago. Or consider Barbara Hambley’s Darwath and Vampire Isidro series…I could go on for a piece.

    No, the notion that rewarding series novels would only help men (for all that it would likely get Weber a Hugo or two) seems hard to justify.

    • Stevie says:

      And I will add CJ Cherryh to that list; I’m beginning to wonder if people don’t realise that CJ Cherryh is a woman…

      • David Lang says:

        Why should they care?

        The question should be “is it a good book/series”, not “what does the author look like, who do they sleep with, who do they vote for, etc”

        • Forgot My Name says:

          Why should they not care?

          • David Lang says:

            to misquote MLK “I look forward to the day when a book is judged by it’s content, not the color/sex/etc of the Author”

            If it’s a good book, it shouldn’t matter what the race, gender, sexual orientation, etc of the Author is. I don’t care if it was written by a white male, a computer, or a bugeyed green martian. What matters is if it’s a good book.

            The only reason I care about the Author’s name is that someone who produces one good book is likely to produce other good books (and someone who produces one bad book is likely to produce other bad books), so it’s a label to help me sort through the huge number of things to read to find something I’m going to like.

            • Books first, food later. says:

              Hear, hear! Damn it. Martin Luther King Jr. said it. How often people forget it.

            • Forgot My Name says:

              Which doesn’t answer the question of why should they not care.

              Above is a list of female writers, the listing of which addresses a criticism that the award would not represent women well. So if one adds to the list, it is helpful to care about if the person one is adding is in fact female.

              You seem to address a strawman (or woman) argument that those shopping in the market place must give up quality if they look for female authors.

              I would say a cursory look at popular authors doesn’t support you.

              • Reality Observer says:

                The question is – why should it matter what they have between their legs? Whether its original equipment or by re-engineering?

                Why should it matter how much melanin is in their skin?

                Why should it matter who they sleep with?

                In only a few cases should it even matter what they do beyond their writing – a known pedophile, a known rapist, a known KKK member. Not whether they are a Republican, a Democrat, a Tea Partier, a Socialist, whether they are planning to vote for Ted Cruz or Bernie Sanders. Not whether they, in their own opinion, believe that homosexual marriage is good, bad, or a non-issue. I could go on – but I don’t expect it will do any good…

              • Books first, food later. says:

                No. He is/was addressing the idea of not giving a damn what the sex/gender/faith/race etc of an author is, in favor of judging the book by the “content of its character” without reference to any of those irrelevant methods of dividing, and classifying people. You are the one who stated that doing so would have a disparate impact on female authors because they (supposedly) put out less quality content. Or at least, you are the one who said that he was only quoting Martin Luther King Jr. because s/he felt that reading an author because she was female would result in less enjoyable reading experiences. He said no such thing. But good on you for putting words in his mouth. Personally, I prefer to ignore what “special categories” an author falls into, and just enjoy their work. Men can write badly, so can women. It’s when you care more about the identity of the author than the topic and content of the book that you start sacrificing quality for…nothing. If you only read males, there goes Anne McCaffrey, Nora Roberts, Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, I’m just listing off the top of my head. If you only read males, the same problem springs up. I’ll be damned if I’ll turn my nose up at “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” because I care more about this author’s sex than the book’s content, thank you very much. Shakespeare? Oh frak no! You’ll get my Shakespeare when you pry it from my cold, dead hands. Molon Labe. Ditto race, faith, etc. I care about content. Covers help, but content is what matters. The author is only of tangential importance in my enjoyment of a book. No straw man, or woman, needed here. And I have matches, just in case. ;-P

              • David Lang says:

                I am saying that if you make your buying decision based on the author’s gender/color/politics/etc you are excluding good books (no matter what criteria you use) because there are good books from every combination of such things.

                As such, why should a reader care if the Author is Female, Male, or a bug-eyed alien if it’s a good story?

                And if it isn’t a good story, that’s even less reason to care.

                No, I don’t say Females write worse books than Males, but I do say that if you exclude Females or exclude Males that your reading is going to be worse for doing so.

      • Steve says:

        Regardless of Cherryh’s demographics, I got most of the way through the first Faded Sun book, put it down, and have never read a word of hers before or since. Perhaps an error of taste or judgment on my part, but it’s why for me she doesn’t register at all usually, not that she doesn’t register as a woman.

        I’m actually given to erroneously assuming any author of yore using initials or a three-word name is a woman, to the point I felt surprised when I learned that “L.” was not short for Lisa, Lucille, or Laetitia Sprague de Camp and that Ms. Kimberly S. Robinson did not write a trilogy about chromatic Marses.

  14. Gary says:

    Opening a Best Saga category would also allow voters to separate judging criteria for novels and sagas. Good sagas include a consistent world built across multiple components, have a meta plot that advances through its individual components, and use information from earlier components to create a richer experience. With the exception of The Wheel of Time, voters are asked to compare a novel with links to other components with a self-contained novel. To extend John’s argument for keeping all the short categories, writing a good saga requires different skills than writing a standalone novel; a Best Saga award would recognize those skills.

    Creating the best saga award would reduce conflicts in judging criteria. When a novel in a saga is nominated for a Hugo, how many people vote for the novel based on the strength of the saga, rather than the strength of the novel? Consider Rowling — nominated twice for Best Novel, won for Harry Potter and the Ring of Fire, then never nominated again even though many argue her later books were better. That pattern — nominations as the saga builds, culminating in a win, then elimination of the saga from future nominations — is exactly how the Best Saga voting should work. While the number of sagas nominated for a Hugo varies each year, it’s usually at least one and sometimes as many as 3-4. A Best Saga award would move these nominations (and wins) to a separate category, opening up nomination slots for standalone novels and reduce any confusion about what’s being voted on.

    I have two concerns with the Best Saga category. First, are there enough sagas published to make the award competitive? Second, most people could not afford the time and money to read 3-5 sagas between the nomination window and the awards. Fortunately, awarding Best Saga every few years — for example, nominating in odd years and voting in even years — would address both issues.

    • Jared says:

      Thanks for saying what I have been trying to (that writing a saga/series is different than writing a novel) in better, nicer words.

      To answer your question on is there enough to make a category, look here: https://chaoshorizon.wordpress.com/2015/06/22/modelling-a-best-saga-hugo-award-part-1/

      On the readability, all of us proposers have said we don’t have a good answer to reading time. If that’s what kills the proposal, that’s what kills it.

      Giving it out every X years makes it not a Hugo and, at least I can speak for myself, I am not going off making new awards.

      • Eric Flint says:

        Besides, there won’t be any problem coming up with five good nominees for Best Saga every year. That would be true even if the rules being proposed didn’t allow a saga to be renominated after a period of time. (More precisely, renominated after a period of word accumulation.)

        On that, by the way, I’ve seen some people object that a work shouldn’t be able to requalify for an award. I’m a little mystified by the objection. First of all, it wouldn’t be “the same” work because the proposed rulsd would require the addition of a lot more story line before a saga could be eligible again. But secondly, and to me more importantly…

        Nothing exposes the short fiction bias of the existing Hugo award structure — and mentality, for that matter — than equating a short story with a multi-volume series. I can — and have, several times, including quite recently — write a short story in one or two DAYS. As of right now, I’ve spent almost sixteen YEARS developing the 1632 series. The last short story I wrote (“A Flat Affect” for the upcoming David Drake commemorative volume ONWARD, DRAKE) contained 3,349 words. I long ago lost track of the word count for the 1632 series but by now, even if we exclude the electronic magazine, there must be well over 5,000,000 words in print. If you include the electronic magazine, the word count goes well above 8,000,000 words.

        How are these two things equivalent?

  15. Mike Spehar says:

    I’ve lost the bubble on what exactly was proposed for the Hugo awards changes. (Mostly intentional, as life has other challenges. ) Was the formal proposal published somewhere? I support the Saga proposal, but in my opinion, the most important suggestion was the change to awards for both short and long novels.

    I could care less about the difference between novelette and novella. It’s a short fricking story, by my reading habits. It’s the deepest “inside baseball” kinda thing, so whatever they want to do with those awards is okay with me.

    Regarding the argument that removing a category is like taking away the award from past recipients, another sports analogy comes to mind. The golf grand slam used to be the US and British Opens (the latter being called “The Open”) and the US and British Amateur Championships. The most famous winner of this older grand slam was Bobby Jones, who never turned pro. Today, the golf grand slam is the Masters, the US and British Opens, and the PGA Championship. But nobody says Jones didn’t win a grand slam.

    I’ve spent a lot of time in my life butting my head into entrenched bureaucracy and mostly got nothing but lumps. But occasionally a chance comes by to make a small difference. I hope the Hugo Powers That Be take that chance.

  16. Jared says:

    Mike, what WAS proposed is here: http://sasquan.org/business-meeting/agenda/

    But, really, disregard that. We’ve dropped the novelette piece and made some other changes and sent a revised text to Sasquan as a place holder while we work with the community to further refine the proposal. That should be posted at that same link shortly and then it’ll go out in other places, too.

    Once we’ve gotten comments back on the revision, we will revise again and send a final version to Sasquan for posting on the same site and for discussion at the Business Meeting in August in Spokane.

    • Mike Spehar says:

      Thank you, Jared. I didn’t notice any mention of the short and long novel and I hope it is explicitly mentioned in the final proposal.

      In my last, I said I didn’t care about the difference between a novelette and a novella. I still don’t for the most part. However, after reading numerous comments about what a shame it would be to change/combine/eliminate one or the other, I have to ask what is so important about either form. What is so important about a very minor variation in word count that demands a different definition and award? I imagine there was once some publisher-driven reason for the difference back in the day of filling magazines printed on real paper. Not much remaining rationale in the era of the e-publishing.

      One probably has to have attended a Catholic high school fifty years ago to remember, that “Arma virumque cano” was written in dactylic hexameter. And I think I remember that iambic pentameter was once all the rage for heroic poems or somesuch. But do poetry societies give separate awards depending on line syllable count?

  17. Mike (one of at least two) says:

    I like the idea of the series award in the abstract, but as a conscientious Hugo voter how many volumes would I have to read to give a series a fair shake, particularly since the argument is that the series is greater than the sum of its parts. Even if it’s only every couple of years. I went into last year’s Hugo season without having read any of the Wheel of Time and I didn’t read the whole thing.

    Even the enthusiasts who nominated a particular series probably wouldn’t be caught up on all of the volumes of the other nominees.

  18. Mike (one of at least two) says:

    I think it’s admirable what John Scalzi does to help new authors, but that isn’t what the Hugo awards are for. That is what the Campbell (not a Hugo) Award is for.

    Sometimes lightning strikes and a writer produces a particularly excellent and noteworthy work early in his or her career. On the whole though, one hopes that writers perfect their craft with experience. With the exception of specific awards for newcomers, one should really expect that award winners be established writers.

  19. Lindsey says:

    This is a very interesting post, and the discussion of how to define a ‘saga’ and its impact on the awards is worth the discussion. Expanding the Hugo categories has one downside to any way you slice them up, and that is the added expense of hosting nominees, casting rockets, etc. These are not insurmountable at all, and if the Hugo continues to generate so much interest and thus Worldcon memberships, they can probably be accommodated easily. But it’s worth noting.

    I think a saga award could be productive for a lot of the reasons mentioned, though I would pay considerably less attention to it than a lot of readers or voters. I also like Eric’s earlier idea of splitting the novel category down a bit to Short Novel and then Novel–particularly since I read more short fiction than a lot of people, it’s just my preference. I admire the craft, it’s where a lot of new ideas are showing up, it’s where a lot of new authors can be found–and I’m a big fan of novelty. I also don’t have as much time for reading as I used to, and shorter pieces can fit my life more easily. So one more for long, and one more for short(ish) seems fair to me.

    One for ‘first published novel’ seems reasonable though the overlap with the Campbell would be difficult to work with. Perhaps an author can only be nominated for one, the Campbell getting preference and then the First Novel eliminating any Campbell hopefuls? I choose the Campbell first because it’s older; that’s all.

    Anyway, this type of discussion, this and proposals to modify the nomination process, are more productive. I think the Puppies have been downright jerks this whole time, but they’re not going to hear that from me or anyone else–taking the chance to improve the award a bit is all the good we’ll get out of this mess.

  20. Eric S. says:

    A “saga” award could be a sort of Hall Of Fame, eligible only in a year that a book comes out in the saga and only eligible once. The first year I would suspect to be a battle between 1632 and the Vorkosigan series, presuming both published.

    • Gary says:

      Given the proposed rules, what’s to prevent established authors from releasing a short story to qualify their existing saga? Rowling just released a short story in the Potter universe, wouldn’t that qualify the entire Harry Potter series?

      I’m not necessarily saying it’s a bad thing, I’m just pointing out the competition might not be limited to “live” sagas that still release copious amounts of material.

      • Eric Flint says:

        The proposed rules would require that an additional 400,000 words be written in the series before it could be nominated again. The reason for doing it in terms of words instead of, for instance, “three volumes,” is because the growing importance of electronic publishing makes terms like “volumes” obsolete.

        For purposes of comparison, novels in the 1632 series typically range from 150,000 to 250,000 words. 1632 itself was 180,000 words long. Other series are more or less comparable. So you’d need another two or three novels or anthologies to requalify.

  21. Jared says:

    FWIW, the newest version of the proposal is here: http://file770.com/?p=23358

  22. David P Stokes says:

    A thought struck me when I read the statement, “When most popular authors are working exclusively or almost exclusively in series…”. Is it a good thing that this is the case? I’m sure that from the financial standpoint of many of the authors it is, but is it really a good situation overall? Don’t get me wrong, there are several series that I’ve enjoyed, but back when I was a kid, I was already reading a lot of fantasy/SF, almost none of it series, but I was reading a wider variety of stories than I do now, where almost everything I read is part of a series (partly because most of the books you can actually find on the shelves at the bookstore or library are part of series).

    • Mike says:

      Who gets to define what “a good thing” is?

      I don’t know exactly when you were a kid, but I’m almost 50, and when I was a kid there were plenty of series. Almost every story I remember from my early reading of science fiction was a series. Pern. Middle Earth. Heinlein’s Future History. Dune (although I only liked the first book, that was a series). Known Space. Among the very first SF I ever read was the “Chris Godfrey” series by Hugh Walters. Narnia. Foster’s Humanx books (I bought Icerigger because of the name and the cover illustration). Star Trek novelizations. Cities In Flight by Blish (which I read because Blish did the Star Trek novelizations).

      I actually have a hard time remembering many non-series books from my youth that made any kind of a serious impact on my memory. Star Surgeon by Nourse was one of my favorites. Starship Troopers is a standalone, right? I’m sure there were others, but it’s the series that stick in my brain.

      • Reality Observer says:

        Pern was not conceived as anything more than a short story (and the award for it was well-deserved). I’m not up on Ms. McCaffrey’s thinking when she expanded that into the novel – I don’t know whether it was part of a plan or contract for a series.

        Cities in Flight? I don’t think that was ever published in book form as a “series” (it was a serial in magazines – but that is a different animal). All of “Middle Earth” might be considered a “saga” – but the central part, “Lord of the Rings” was a single work, broken up for publishing purposes. (I have the recombined hardback edition that was published a few years ago – makes for domestic detente; when my daughter threatens to throw Rowling at me, I counter by brandishing Tolkien…)

        RAH’s Future History – nope. Those fall into a “framework” category; the framework made it easier to write and sell a new short. Or what was called a novel in those days – which, as Mr. Flint and others have noted, would not even be looked at by a traditional book publisher today, on the basis of length alone. Actually, looking at all of RAH work – even though I love his writing, none of it would qualify as “saga” in my opinion.

  23. I find myself in favor of changing with the times and, in effect, recycling the Hugos.

    Historically, the work that creators do, which is then judged and/or voted upon for awards, is a product of its time, and so it is with the awards themselves. In the context of their time, I think the Hugos were important decade to decade because they existed—among other reasons—as a way for those “less into” fantasy & SF to learn “this is what the good stuff is.” Someone gazing at the spinner rack, on the wobble about whether to buy the dollar-paperback A or B, would tend to buy the one that said “Hugo Winner” on its cover.

    It’s not that time anymore.

    It can be expressed as a question of bandwidth. Back then, F&SF would have a few digests and maybe a dozen paperbacks on the spinner rack; low data rate, and low bandwidth available. Therefore, an award blurb meant more, for all involved, from writers, distributors and publishers whose incomes were affected, to the reader whose tastes would be sculpted by what they read.

    Now we have so much bandwidth—our choices in F&SF number in the hundreds of thousands, with magnitudes more comics, books, and magazines are available than in the days of the spinner rack, that can be instantly downloaded, read online, shipped to us in a couple of days, or browsed by the aisle—that an award of any kind not only isn’t all that material*, it might not even be noticed.

    Given that, it feels like there’s just no talking point anymore for a “best” award for anything. The criteria are just too numerous now, and the mass of candidates too broad.

    A “Ten Best,” which a couple of auto magazines wisely do annually in several categories, helps everyone and makes everyone happy. Make the Hugos a “Ten Best” per category, and that’s enough to stop huge butthurt, inform the fans, and encourage creators to do wonderful work.

    I know that editors would love it. Editors would have their writers saying “Sweet! I made the Ten Best!” instead of spending their time arguing on the fucking internet about Hugo politics. “You did! Good job! Get back to work. :) ” Then the publisher can put “HUGO AWARD: TEN BEST WINNER (year)” on the cover, or the banner ad, or whatever. Authors won’t feel anger or resentment because they missed by six votes, they’ll be glad they’re in the Ten with their buddies. Everyone will get more done.

    I reckon, since you can’t make anyone happy with things as they are, acknowledge the past, pop that award into the recycler, and make something that can work now.

    *(we know we’re in a world of scams and cons, so awards are suspicious in themselves; bogus awards, official seals, and clinical studies are common. Chocolate companies create chocolate contests to give themselves awards for best chocolate, FFS, then slap a shiny gold sticker about the award they gave themselves on the wrapper. Or “This pen is the Official Pen of The Space Authori-tie! Which was founded by the creators of that pen, and have made nothing else Official but what they manufacture. We expect corruption. Therefore, topical applicacation of Fukital becomes the best cure.)

    • Books first, food later. says:

      It’s really impressive how often Fukital *is* the best cure. It’s almost like duct tape! (Almost. Nothing is as universally useful as duct tape, obviously.) *giggle-snort* ;-D

  24. Readers may also note the controversy over the Lovecraft award, Lovecraft’s opinions of other races being less than positive, and the award being a bust of Lovecraft.

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  27. At the large size end we have the “project” (the Russian description) novel. The 163X series and the Star Trek novels are an example: many authors, significant editorial control from the top. The Russian series have little or no such control, but are large, e.g. the “Stalker” series with ca. 89 novels at this point.

    I quote from Antonina Boyko in the latest issue of The National Fantasy Fan Volume 74 Number 8 (ask me off line for a PDF issue with her full article phillies@4liberty.net):

    “Popular projects are “Metro” and “Stalker”. Both belong to the militant, post-apocalyptic fiction.

    The “Metro” project started with Dmitriy Glukhovskiy’s books “Metro 2033” and “Metro 2034”. In short, these are about the life of survivors in the Moscow subway after World War III. The world of “Metro” in the Glukhovskiy version is a model of life in contemporary Russia. Inside the project’s boundaries more than 63 books written by various writers have been published. They all tell stories about the survivors in various cities throughout the country.

    “Stalker” is a project based on a computer game. At the same time the project originates from the Strugatsky brothers’ novel “Roadside Picnic”, but the two are close only in the general theme of “zone” and a few terms such as “stalker” and “artifact”. The Strugatsky’s “zone” is the result of a visit of an extraterrestrial intelligence to Earth, and in modern “Stalker” the “zone” is a Chernobyl zone. At this point there have been published more than 89 books; The project itself is extremely popular.

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