2007 Hugo Nomination Thoughts

Some thoughts on this year’s Hugo nominations. Yes, I’ll talk about my nomination — how can I not? — but let me get through some other thoughts first.

* First, what the hell? I assumed that the first Worldcon based in Japan might actually have some Japanese nominees on it somewhere, but as this Hugo list shows, it’s a completely English-speaking ballot from top to bottom. I think this is weird and wrong; there ought to be some Japanese nominees somewhere in the mix. I demand a recount!

* This is a fine year for the novel category, notwithstanding the fact neither of my eligible books are in it. I’m particularly gratified to see Blindsight and Glasshouse in it. With this nomination Charlie Stross becomes only the second person to score Hugo Novel nods in four consecutive years — the other guy is Robert Silverberg. You may have heard of him. Charlie will no doubt be humble in the face of any comparison to Silverberg, so let me be unhumble for him: if there was any doubt about it before, Charlie Stross is now officially science fiction’s poster boy for the first decade of the third millennium.

As for Blindsight, I feel some some pride in flogging the book to all and sundry last year, and its presence in the novel category shows that being adventurous in science fiction can pay off. Hopefully now this will equate to folks buying the book. I recommend you do this, now. Congrats also to Naomi Novik, who pulls off this year what I did last year: Best Novel Hugo and Campbell nominations! Very nice.

* Speaking of the Campbell Class, which I am naturally disposed to be interested in, it’s a good one, too — and, interesting, almost totally made up of fantasy writers. Discuss this amongst yourselves.

* Data point, noted in a Making Light comment thread but worth noting here, too: In the novel, novella, novelette and short story categories combined, there is exactly one female nominee. Strikes me as a little… odd.

* No, I’m not going to list who I’m going to vote for in what. For one thing, I don’t know yet (except in the Best Editor, Long Form category. You know I’m voting for Patrick Nielsen Hayden there, because, well). For another thing, too many friends are competing in too many categories. Having lots of friends nominated for stuff makes me squee.

* So, my nomination for Best Fan Writer. As you may know, the Hugo committee lets the nominees know a bit ahead of time that they’re nominated, so they can accept or decline. So, there I am, typing something on the SFWA newsgroups when I get a ping in my e-mail telling me I have a Hugo nomination. And so I think to myself, huh, I wonder which of the books got nominated, and then I opened up the e-mail to discover the answer was “none of the above.” Then I laughed out loud, and then I thunked my head on the desk at the absurdity of it all. Then I took some aspirin, because I had given myself a headache. Yeah, I’m stupid sometimes.

Interestingly enough, I am not the first person to have been nominated for Best Fan Writer after having been nominated for Best Novel — Piers Anthony did it (he was even nominated for Best Fan Writer and Best Novel in the same year), but it’s been 37 years since it happened last. I am, however, the first Campbell winner nominated for Best Fan Writer, so I’ve got that bit of Hugo trivia going for me. Also I believe I am the first Best Fan Writer nominee ever to be running for president of SFWA at the time of his nomination. As if that campaign wasn’t weird enough already.

* What do I think of this nomination? I think it’s awesome. I think it’s awesome because it was totally unexpected, for one — I mean, really, bam, poleaxe across the head unexpected — and also awesome because now you can’t look at my Hugo nominations and say that I don’t have range. It also points out the fact that I’ve got one of the weirdest science fiction writer careers going, and I say to say that fact pleases me mightily. Yay! I’m a freak!

But what’s really awesome about it is that it means that what I write here has some significance to the science fiction community. And that, my friends, is both gratifying and genuinely humbling. I am continually surprised at how much the Whatever has shaped my life both professionally and personally, and how people respond to it what goes up here. Every time I think I have got it figured out, this place throws me for a loop. I should just give up trying to figure it out and enjoy the ride.

Which I will do now — except to say thank you to my readers in science fiction fandom. Thank you for the nomination. Thank you for reading the Whatever. Most of all, thank you for including me into the science fiction community. I came to it from the outside, you know; my first convention ever was Torcon 3, back in 2003. Before then, I was a stranger to fandom. I don’t feel like a stranger anymore, and that’s an even better feeling than the one you get from a Hugo nomination.

Thank you again. It means a lot to me. More than you know.

52 thoughts on “2007 Hugo Nomination Thoughts

  1. Your comment about Charles Stross may be why the room block at Penguicon has already sold out.

    Of course the presence of a certain Hugo Fan Writer nominee might have helped as well.

    They are working on overflow hotel rooms.

  2. Hm, a question.

    Best Fan Writer and Best Fan Artist. Is that really for fanfiction writers and fanart, well, artists? Or is this some slightly arcane definition of fan writer that I’ve not previously been aware of?

    Wiki-ing suggets that it’s the former, but I can’t quite believe that it is.

  3. There have been lots of non-English Hugo winners, jmnlman. Last year’s Best Novel winner was Canadian.

    Rebecca Hb: I’m not aware of Fan Writer generally being construed as applying to “fanfic” — the fellow who has won the category since 1988 publishes a SF-related newsletter.

  4. Interesting. So it’s more related to the fannish side of the genre than to fanfiction, specifically.

    Of course, given how most fanfiction isn’t that interesting if you’re not already a little bit familiar with the material it’s based off of, I can see why.

    Hm. According to the guidelines for nominating for the award, it could conceivably go to a fanfiction writer. But I’m doubtful that you could even get one nominated.

    *plots*

  5. Absolutely a fanfiction writer could be nominated for the Best Fan Writer Hugo.

    It’s never actually happened, mind you. Or, at least, I don’t believe anyone’s ever been nominated who’s best known for fanfiction. But nothing in the rules excludes it.

  6. “Charlie will no doubt be humble in the face of any comparison to Silverberg”

    One of my fondest memories of recent Worldcons is from the San Jose Worldcon in 2002, watching as Robert Silverberg pulled himself out of the middle of a hotel-lobby conversation circle to introduce himself to the shyly-hanging-back Charlie Stross and tell him, in no uncertain terms, how impressed he was with Charlie’s work. I have rarely seen a human being look more stunned and flattered at the same time. You could have powered up a generator from the energy coming off his facial expression alone.

  7. Thank you for reading the Whatever.

    Thanks for writing on whatever. I’m a doof, don’t thank me. Thank you for sometimes making me feel like less of a doof.(most of the time)

    Just saying.

  8. Not to diss PNH but I really hope people actually vote for Jim Baen for Long form editor. PNH can win it next year. Jim Baen can never win it ever if he doesn’t win this year. Given what Jim Baen has done to the SF market not having him win ever is a travesty.

  9. Given what Jim Baen has done to the SF market

    Some people might actually agree with that….

    (But you perhaps meant “for the SF market”, nicht wahr?)

  10. I gotta give it up for Blindsight — I’ve been reading the e-book version, and have plans on buying the deadtreeware soon. (I make it a point to do that with any e-book I read from beginning to end — thus far, Doctorow and Stross have found their way onto my bookshelves because of that. But I digress.) Watts has really put together a gem of a book — in no way would I call it “The New Comprehensible”, but it’s not above my ability to understand. And holy shit, it’s blowing my hair back.

    And thanks, John, for pointing it out back when. I hate to think I might have missed this.

  11. Congrats, John!

    I’ve always looked at the fan categories as “what you do without being paid.” So it doesn’t matter WHAT you do to be paid; it only matters that you’re writing or creating art because you enjoy doing it.

  12. Congratulations, John, not only is this a well deserved nomination, but the timing is hilarious.

    Patrick: At MilPhil, I was on a panel with Robert Silverberg about the works of William Tenn. Phil Klass was in the audience, and afterwards he started talking to the panelists. He said to Robert Silverberg that Dying Inside was a really brilliant book — and so this is how I got to see Robert Silverberg blush and stammer and look stunned and flattered.

    And this is another of the cool things about fandom.

  13. To the tune of the overture from Bye Bye Birdie:


    We love you Scalzi, Oh yes we do!
    You drive a Minivan!
    Oh yes we do!
    Taped bacon to a cat, it’s true!
    We love you Scalzi, Oh yes we do!

    Seriously, it’s awesome! Congratulations! I don’t care what those damn raccoons say! You’re the man!

  14. Congrats again, John.

    But now I see your plan. Yes, it is all clear. First you storm onto the scene with the Campbell and grab the diadem. Then you go for Fan Writer and grab the orb. Next year it will be the Novel Hugo nod for TLC and you gain the scepter. Then, having made the trifecta play (the crown, the orb, and the scepter) you will be crowned the new king of SF. Ah, yes. The plan is clear now. it’s all about the jewelry. :)

  15. Chang, racoons? I though it was the Super Secret Squirrels that kept us all informed about the grand Scalzi? John must have dominion over many furry beasts.

  16. I have 2 thoughts on why there aren’t any Japanese works nominated.

    First, and I have no idea if this is actually true, I’m simply repeating something several people who seems to be knowledgable have told me, allegedly, Japanese fans tend to sign up for conventions much closer to the actual convention date than is typical for many U.S. fans, which may mean that english-speakers simply outnumbered Japanese-speakers in terms of voting eligibility.

    Second, and this is based on my very limited experience in fandom, the number of people who actually vote at the nominating stage is always very tiny. In some categories as few as 100-200 people vote. So if you had a decent number of eligibe english-speaking fans making a point to fill out their ballots this year, it might not have been all that hard for them to control the various categories. Of course, I have no knowledge of the voting habits of Japanese fans.

  17. 1) Congrats on your nomination! I’m glad you’re excited. This is the first time I even NOTICED that category, and I wondered about it, until I read the comments to this post.

    2) And I too noticed the single female nominee. Nothing against those nominated, but huh. Interesting, and discouraging.

  18. John, has anyone done any statistical analysis of voter turnout over the years? I am wondering if it has increased or decreased over time.

    And why is it the German raccoons hate you so much? Are most of the Ohio raccons Amish?

  19. So as a member of the female persuasion, I’m trying to figure out if picking an androgynous nom de plume in this field is going to hurt me or the sci-fi genre in general. (granted, I do have to get published first)

    I’ve been asking a few people their thoughts on science fiction female writers and the response has been…unfortunate. In fact one of the responses was:

    No offense, but I’m of the old school. I usually have to hear GREAT buzz to even pick up a sci-fi or fantasy novel written by a woman. If they’re not Andre Norton or Anne McCaffrey, they are generally teh suck.

    Is this the norm?

    Considering the Hugo awards and the comment above, what besides writing well, can a female do to break the stigma that we’re not a bunch of intelligent and geeky science-fiction genre writers?

    Cause lord knows I’d like to consider myself one.

  20. Chang:

    Looking at the Hugo nominee voter participation at the moment, I’d say that this year’s numbers for voters, particularly in the higher profile categories, seems to be a bit low. I suspect this is part and parcel with the fact that this year’s Worldcon is going to be held in Japan, and the overall membership in that Worldcon is lower than usual (so far, at least).

    Who knows why German raccoons do what they do, man.

    Kate:

    This year’s nearly-male Hugo fiction slate may just be one of those flukes; we should note the Nebula slate for this year is rather more gender balanced overall.

    At this point I don’t know that there’s a systematic bias against women writers in SF/F, or at least there shouldn’t me, as I believe the majority of readers for SF/F at this point are women.

  21. So as a member of the female persuasion, I’m trying to figure out if picking an androgynous nom de plume in this field is going to hurt me or the sci-fi genre in general.

    Different genre, but this is reportedly why Jo Rowling published as “J. K.” — boys supposedly wouldn’t read books written by a woman. Maybe a decade from now a generation of boys growing up reading Harry Potter will be comfortable enough reading books regardless of the gender of the author that the “unfortunate” stigma of writing sf while female will begin to fade.

  22. …has anyone done any statistical analysis of voter turnout over the years?

    It’s now a bit out of date, but there is some of this at SMOFInfo.com in the “Voting” category.

    …if you had a decent number of eligibe english-speaking fans making a point to fill out their ballots this year, it might not have been all that hard for them to control the various categories…

    “Making a point?” This suggests to me a degree of organization and planning that one wouldn’t expect from the voters. What I think much more likely is that roughly the same people nominated as who usually nominate. There’s a core of people who nominate every year, after all, and I think it makes up a pretty large proportion of the total number of ballots cast.

  23. wickedpinto says, Thanks for writing Whatever. I’m a doof, don’t thank me. Thank you for making me feel like less of a doof(most of the time). You know, that could be taken two ways.

  24. Hugo voting. I wrote in august that the numbers of votes was pretty abysmal for both the 2005 and 2006 awards.

    The 2005 awards in Glasgow (PDF) attracted a total of 684 ballots in all categories (none contained votes for all categories) with 543 voting for best novel and 620 for best dramatic presentation (long) – the most popular category. Another important award, the Campbell Award for best newcomer attracted a mere 323 votes in total.

    The 2006 awards in LA attracted similar numbers – I can’t see the grand totals but I have seen that for best novel the total votes were 567 so one assumes the other numbers were similar.

  25. First, and I have no idea if this is actually true, I’m simply repeating something several people who seems to be knowledgable have told me, allegedly, Japanese fans tend to sign up for conventions much closer to the actual convention date than is typical for many U.S. fans, which may mean that english-speakers simply outnumbered Japanese-speakers in terms of voting eligibility.

    I’ve also heard that the Japanese national convention tends to be considerably smaller than a typical Worldcon. Which means that between the foreign members of this year’s con, and the holdovers from LACon last year (you’re eligible to nominate for the Hugo is you attended the previous Worldcon), the Japanese nominators may well be outnumbered.

  26. You know, Mr. Scalzinator sir, I think you’re the vessel for change in the science fiction world right now. Not many other writers would tout Peter Watts’ incredibly good novel Blindsight, run for SFWA president, get two groundbreaking nominations, put bacon on cats, write a book with a fart joke for the first chapter, AND get called the new Robert Heinlein in one year.

    Congratulations, Mr. Scalzi. *claps*

  27. My understanding is that Mr. Langford would be perfectly fine with someone else winning the category occasionally.

  28. “Not to diss PNH but I really hope people actually vote for Jim Baen for Long form editor. PNH can win it next year. Jim Baen can never win it ever if he doesn’t win this year.”

    You may not be aware of this but there is a tradition in the Best Editor Hugo of only voting for book editors if they happen to have died before the final voting [1]. There is a certain element amongst the book editors who resent the apparent policy that their work is only worthy of a Hugo if they die and in fact, I believe Lester del Rey declined via an intermediary the Hugo Judy Lynn del Rey won the year she died because he felt she would not have wanted to win a Hugo for dying.

    To put it another way, I bet Jim Baen would have loved to have won a Hugo, so it’s a damn shame his fans couldn’t be bothered to vote him one or even get him nominated for one after the 1975-1981 string of nominations. He’s dead now and no matter that his fans do, he will never experience winning a Hugo. You have an editor that you think deserves a Hugo, don’t wait until they have died to vote them one.

    Charles Stross pointed out on my Livejournal:

    http://james-nicoll.livejournal.com/753623.html?thread=10025687#t10025687

    “There is the Hugo administrators’ special award — the one they used in 2005 to give some bloody belated recognition to Dave Pringle (who had an immense influence on British and Commonwealth SF over nearly three decades, without ever being nominated for a Hugo). That’d be a very good option for Jim Baen insofar as it’d not be tied to any particular year (given that he didn’t do as much editing as usual in 2006) while avoiding the embarrassing Dead Editor Award cooties.”

    And that seems to me like a good way to commemorate him at the Hugos.

    1: As far as I know, prior to David Hartwell’s win last year, only one book editor managed a win while living and that was Terry Carr, who later got a Best Dead Book Editor Hugo.

  29. See I would expect the Japanese Hugo noms would go up the year after a Japanese Worldcon, since that’s when there would be a larger amount of Japanese fen with nominating and voting rights.

    Are there any statistics from other foreing Worldcons or Worldcons held the year after one took place overseas?

  30. See I would expect the Japanese Hugo noms would go up the year after a Japanese Worldcon, since that’s when there would be a larger amount of Japanese fen with nominating and voting rights.

    Are there any statistics from other foreing Worldcons or Worldcons held the year after one took place overseas?

  31. See I would expect the Japanese Hugo noms would go up the year after a Japanese Worldcon, since that’s when there would be a larger amount of Japanese fen with nominating and voting rights.

    Are there any statistics from other foreing Worldcons or Worldcons held the year after one took place overseas?

  32. It figures that you would want a Japanese, token, author. After all, you are a little NPR, PC, liberal type. (I’m drinking, so let it through.)

  33. Every Hugo voter, including Mr. Nicoll and Mr. Stross, should fill out their Hugo ballots (if they have them) with or without Mr. Baen as they see fit. What makes no sense is continuing to pollute the blogosphere with silly demands and condemnations that can only be satisfied by repealing several of Gardner Dozois’ 15 Hugos since 1988. Prior to the division of the category, it was always much easier to notice excellence in a prozine editor, and nearly everybody who was anybody in sf was writing in Galaxy.

  34. Fifteen yard penalty for writing Galaxy (Baen’s work) instead of Asimov’s in my previous post.

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