Late Hugo Notes

I’ve been getting some e-mail asking me about some post-game kvetching on the Hugo wins and also the possibility of a Hugo for YA, so briefly on each:

Post-Hugo Kvetching: Meh. There’s always post-Hugo kvetching, for the same reason there’s pre-Hugo kvetching, which is, people like to kvetch, and/or they have a hard time internalizing that their own tastes are not in fact an objective standard of quality. I do think there’s a core of commenters whose problem internalizing that other people have other tastes is overlaid with a more-than-mild contempt for fandom, i.e., “Oh, fandom. You’ve shown again why you can’t be trusted to pick awards, you smelly, chunky people of common tastes, you.” Fandom does what fandom does with folks like that: it ignores them, which I think is generally the correct response to such wholly unwarranted condescension. But if people want to gripe, however they want to gripe, it’s their call.

Point is, yes, people are bitching about the Hugo results. When do they not? Let everyone have their fun and we’ll all meet back here next year for more of the same.

YA Hugo: Another meh from me. I don’t think YA books really need a separate Hugo, inasmuch as there have been two recent Hugo winners that were YA books, nor do YA novels seem to have a problem of late getting onto the ballot. Also, philosophically, there’s the question of whether having two novel Hugos privileges novels over other writing formats (answer: yes). But at the same time YA has distinct goals and awarding literature for young readers is laudable.

As it happens I think SFWA split this baby reasonably well by creating the Norton Award: It’s not a Nebula Award, but it’s quickly becoming a significant award in its own right, because it is its own award, not a Nebula. The Hugo ceremony is already host to other non-Hugo awards, including the Campbell, so maybe, if there is to be a YA-only award at Worldcon, the solution is having a not-a-Hugo YA award which can develop its own personality.

Thoughts on either of these?

89 thoughts on “Late Hugo Notes

  1. I would love to see a YA award in the sense of being voted on only by YA readers. I suspect that the logistics of accomplishing such a thing (verification, get-out-the-vote, etc) could be prohibitive, but I think that it would be a meaningful addition to the lineup. Hopefully those young readers, having voted for that award, would then go on to have a peek at the nominees in other categories, too.

  2. I’m in the meh category myself. It’s always seemed to me that really well-written YA is virtually indistinguishable from “adult” genre literature. (Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother is one that comes to mind – strip the YA designation and I guarantee you wouldn’t know the difference.

  3. Scalzi wrote “so maybe, if there is to be a YA-only award at Worldcon, the solution is having a not-a-Hugo YA award which can develop its own personality.” Though not part of the Hugo ceremony, The Hal Clement Award for Young Adult for Young Adult Science Fiction is presented at the Worldcon each year.

  4. Thoughts! Topics!

    On kvetching: the main kvetching I hear is either (1) about the Connie Willis book(s), various flavors of kvetching but specific to that book, or (2) looking at the 1-2-3 Dr Who short form sweep and wondering, “really, were three Dr Who episodes the 3 best short form dramatic presentations last year, or are people going ‘I LOVE DR WHO!’ and voting them 1-2-3″. I don’t *really* have a huge cosmic problem with either, but hey I feel that I earn my right to kvetch by reigstering for WorldCon, nominating, and voting. :) So I’ll kvetch a little. What I see is “Connie deserved a Hugo” and not “Black Out/All Clear deserved a Hugo” though, really, three of the five finalists didn’t wow the crap out of me to begin with, and I can see why a more sf-focused fandom didn’t pick an epic fantasy novel and/or a near future mosaic/character novel. On the short dramatic presenation thing I … really don’t care. Though calling it “The Dr Who Fandom Award” isn’t too far off the mark.

    On YA: A not a Hugo for YA if on the same nomination process as the “real” Hugos … seems like that would disadvantage the YA novels from being considered for best novel. “OK, I get to fill out this nomination form, let’s look at the categories… best novel, best ya novel, ok, I’ll fill the right things in the right places.” And having the same book conceivably win both awards … not sure I like the idea. I do however join you in the “YA and YR literature are important and can be awesome even for us grumpy grown up types” camp and would love to see maybe a judged award presented by WorldCon — though with the “not a Nebula” Norton Award already serving pretty much that purpose, I don’t know how *necessary* it is. WorldCon isn’t widely overrun with or focused on 15-18 year old guests — and maybe that’s not a great thing, but it is what it is — so I don’t know that it *needs* a YA novel award for any real reason other than, hey, let’s celebrate some of the great YA sf/f novels of this year. Which can be done quite nicely by having a Norton Award reception or recognition or whatever.

    That said, John P. Murphy’s idea of a YA award voted on only by YA fandom — THAT is interesting. That might engage these readers in the whole Hugo/WorldCon world, and that is something very close to a good reason to do a thing like this.

  5. I vote no on the misadventures of lil’ Hugo–unless the award given involves a statue of a little space kid with a slingshot sticking out of his back pocket. I rather like the idea of an independent not-a-Hugo YA award, though, with its own legacy of recognizing and celebrating the year’s paragon of YA Sci-Fi. But subordinating a YA award under Hugo dilutes both.

  6. I’m all for the Post-Hugo Kvetching, myself. Half of the reason for an award is to get people talking about the reward and it’s results. If we didn’t want people to do that, we wouldn’t publicize who won, after all. Look at all the media and commentary that pops up when the Oscars are coming up and going past, and all the attention and conversation that provokes! (Heck, part of that is Mr. Scalzi’s job, when it’s reflected in his weekly column.)

    Besides, as Cory Doctorow has pointed out, the modern writer’s main problem is publicity. Every person posting about the Hugo results, either positive or negative, is listing out the winners and the person they wanted to have win, and discussing them, and bringing them to more people’s attention, so that the next time someone’s looking to pick up a book, they’ll recognize a title, or an author, and pick it up to see if it really was “that good” or “that bad” as they heard.

    Kvetching about the results is what the Hugos are for… and for giving people shiny metal rocketship trophies, which all the Kvetching isn’t going to change anyway.

  7. Oh! And JoelZ, thanks for mentioning the Hal Clement Award. This is part of the Golden Duck Awards lineup and, along with a few other awards which go on during WorldCon (The Sidewise Award for alternative history for example) don’t get nearly enough credit and/or mention. I thought I tuned into the entire Hugo ceremony online, but I didn’t see/hear any presentation about either of these awards, which might be a nice little thing, I dunno.

  8. I get the post-Hugo Kvetching as I have done it myself…For instance, I feel there is no way in the world than anything but “Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury” should have won short form dramatic. It was funny, clever, and enlightening. But the majority of voters foolishly wasted their votes disagreed with me.On the other hand, I haven’t read all the novels or shorts this year, so I have no opinion there.

    SFWA already named an award after Norton…maybe WorldCon could name an award after Heinlein (hey, I loved the Heinleiin Juveniles) or maybe Raymond Abrashkin and Jay Williams (publishing juvenile fiction over 30 years has to have had some impact, didn’t it?).

  9. I love YA, and I love the idea of having another place to pad my to-read list, but there are a lot of reasons why I’d have to agree with our host’s “meh” at this point. Functionally removing YA from the best novel award is a big one, splitting the awards too thin is another. I also kind of wonder what would be accomplished. Recognizing great books is one thing, but again, functionally removing them from consideration for best novel seems to de-value the new award. Getting more awareness for YA is great, but I’m not sure that a separate award would really do that. It seems like adults are going to make up their mind about reading YA on their own, and do kids really pay attention to awards?

  10. Unless the Hal Clement Award is voted on by the members of Worldcon (like the Campbell is), I’m not entirely sure it has a chance of getting into the ceremony.

  11. I have been getting a tad cynical about Dr Who…

    It probably is the TV series that is getting the best combination of writing and acting of anything in the SF genre, of late. So it’s not very surprising that it is winning prizes.

    Unfortunately, the stories have been getting awfully over-self-indulgent.

    Oh, we haven’t seen Daleks for 3 episodes; time for them to come back and get “revised” somehow so as to appear a bit more threatening, but still not actually succeed at anything other than quailing at the Doctor’s appearance.

    Oh, it’s a “last episode” for the season; gotta bring back all the remaining living companions because if having one companion is good, surely having 4 along for the ride makes things even more awesome!

    In contrast, when Blink won its numerous awards, it was worth noting that it underplayed the involvement of Doctor and companions; they were secondary characters in the tale, and that’s part of what made it really good.

  12. My question is the voting tables that they published without explanation. I know that everybody who voted had the opportunity to rank their votes; my question is how they were counted. Am I correct in assuming that they counted first place votes, threw out the smallest category, then went on with second-place votes and so on until the final winners received higher votes than all the works they beat?

    That’s… a bad way of phrasing it. But I haven’t seen how they do the “runoff” voting, and I know that for at least one category, the second-place finalist received more first-place votes than the winner, so I’m curious how they do this.

  13. This being my first year voting and reading all the nominees and not having any other reference point, I am really hoping that this was a weak year for the Hugos. None of the books or stories really blew me away so I’m not surprised that most of the winners did not match my selections.
    I guess prior to going through this year’s nominees I had been reading books from various “top 10 lists of all time” so maybe my baseline expectations were too high?

  14. Kvetching – one of those yiddish words that’s become part of the fannish lexicon. Leads to tsuris.

    I see two distinct groups among the kibitzers: those who care about the award and fandom Soooooo much that anything less than perfection is cause for complaint, engendered from a genuine sense of wanting to see improvement towards impossible perfection.

    The second, those who want to diminish the award for some reason or other, be it the belief that their tastes should be shared by everyone (which you identified) or perhaps because they believe that some other award is more worthy.

    They also seem to believe that attacking one award is going to elevate some other award, which, if nothing else, does seem to go along with the rest of the (a) logical process.

    On the YA. There’s a strong core of Worldcon related fans/SMOFs/etcs that have been expressing a ‘no more awards’/’let’s chop some we have now’ sentiment over the past several years. There’s another group that seems to revel in proposing new awards every year.

    Personally, I’d like to separate the written word awards from everything else and don’t think there’s a need for a YA award. I think that SF fandom at-large, has long had the proper relationship to the written word, which its’ demonstrated by awarding YA works in the past (over non-YA), which is that – if it is a good piece of work, the label doesn’t matter. (Which statement puts me into the shoes of those who believe that my tastes ought to be shared by everyone since I don’t believe that a relatively recent YA Hugo winning novel should have been on the ballot, much less won. I have remained sane enough to recognize that view won’t be held by everyone. Just folks who are as intelligent, erudite and cultured as myself, and we, unfortunately, are not in the majority.)

    Anyway, my bottom line is that plenty of YA works are read and enjoyed by ‘adults’ and, at least in the fantasy and SF realms, there’s little distinction made between YA and not-YA (marketing labels & hype notwithstanding). And I actually think it empowers younger readers to some extent to find out that a novel ‘written for them’ could be nominated for or even win and “adult” award.

  15. B. Durbin, the nominee with the fewest first-place votes is cast out, and the second-place votes from those ballots become first place ones, third become second, etc. This process continues until one nominee has a majority of (original or promoted) first-place votes.

    A separate YA Hugo sounds like a good idea at first, but I have to say I find the arguments against it in this thread pretty convincing. Of course, it wouldn’t be a junior AWARD (all Hugos are the same; you get a rocket, end of story), so it would split the field, and lead to arguments about what is and is not YA. I need to think about this some more, but currently my sense is that it’s a bad idea. So thanks to John and commenters for giving me food for thought!

  16. I would like to see a YA award in hopes that it will expose more voters to good YA Literature. Perhaps it is the people I meet in fandom, but I have very few people to talk to about YA sci-fi even at Lit-heavy cons, and the ones I do only take two or three sentences to say “But I thought the Heinlein Juveniles were good . . .” I do have the hesitancy that if you haven’t ready YA since Heinlein then maybe you shouldn’t be voting for such an award, but I also think that too many only read YA by past adult-literature Hugo nominees and ignore all the good writers that stay there permanently. Also, on the selfish front, giving a YA award might get more YA writers to attend so I could meet them. Right now it’s hard for me to justify attending WorldCon next year, who everyone tells me *should* be full of “my people”, when DragonCon and Sirens both cost the same for me to attend and have more fans, authors, and programming of the literature I like even though WorldCon is supposed to be the pinnacle of sci-fi literature.

  17. I was just having a YA discussion on G+. I think I’m really undecided here. When I was a child, I don’t remember there even being a thing called YA. Books were either for children of a variety of ages and you read them in grade school or they are adult. A lot of the titles I see now falling into the YA category, I read them or my children read them, or would have read them if they were published at the time, in grade school (K-7). I think YA is a clever marketing ploy. There have been very few books that I’ve seen recently published in that category that my boys (12 and 16) have not already outgrown. The ones that they do enjoy (Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children) is a book adults really enjoy as well. I would put that books in the ‘adult’ category with a caveat that you must be young at heart. The Harry Potter series, I classify as children’s books, not YA.

    I think part of my issue is that in grade 7, The Lord of the Flies is required reading here. Lord of the Rings was read in grade school. The Anne Shirley series was read in grade school. The Little House series, again grade school. These are titles that I see many people either put in the YA or Adult (Lords) categories.

    Fuzzy Nation is a book that I would have read as a young teen, even so I read it and loved it, as an adult. But it would have been something had you written it when I was my boys’ ages, I’d have loved it then and not found it too adult. My youngest is reading it and loving it and nothing is ‘over his head’.

    And then there is the whole moving books that were once adult into the YA category (Enders). Just solidifies for me that YA is a great marketing and money making tool.

    I suppose this is my long way to say I don’t even understand YA to begin with. To me, it appears to be a clever marketing ploy and not its own category, but rather one invented to make more money. And I can’t understand how a YA is possible when one cannot even really define what YA is, outside of a way to brand a book and make more money.

  18. Aurora Celeste:

    “I would like to see a YA award in hopes that it will expose more voters to good YA Literature.”

    Which is a positive for them, but it should be noted that YA Literature is doing just fine without science fiction fans, if one goes by overall sales numbers. YA doesn’t need SF fandom to recognize its existence: it’s already got millions upon millions of teens and tweens to do that.

  19. This time around I gather that there are a lot of folks across the pond who aren’t impressed with Ms. Willis’ grasp of British history; and they have blogs.

  20. here’s always post-Hugo kvetching, for the same reason there’s pre-Hugo kvetching, which is, people like to kvetch, and/or they have a hard time internalizing that their own tastes are not in fact an objective standard of quality. I do think there’s a core of commenters whose problem internalizing that other people have other tastes is overlaid with a more-than-mild contempt for fandom, i.e., “Oh, fandom. You’ve shown again why you can’t be trusted to pick awards, you smelly, chunky people of common tastes, you.” Fandom does what fandom does with folks like that: it ignores them, which I think is generally the correct response to such wholly unwarranted condescension. But if people want to gripe, however they want to gripe, it’s their call.

    Pretty meta of you, John, engaging in criticism of criticism. But I think your criticism is lacking in that it’s not actually pointing to anything specific, and it’s more of a broad brush than I’d care to use. This sort of critique paints any criticism of the Hugo choices with the brush that it’s not worth listening to. Perhaps I’m misreading you, though. Or perhaps you’re just putting this out as a silly one-off, and that’s fine, because then I can just chalk it up to John being funny.

    But if it’s not, I think it’s actually worth looking at the Hugo choices, and talking about them in a critical manner. YMMV, or I might have misread you.

    Either way, it was great seeing you there. You missed the closing out of the after-party, which was epic.

  21. Jules, you make a good point about there not being a good definition of YA. So if there is no definition, then how could there be a separate YA Hugo award? Personally, I don’t think we need another Hugo for YA.

    Also Jules, although it may be a “marketing ploy” to brand a book as YA, and therefore make more money, what is wrong with that? Writing and publishing is a business, and it is a good thing to sell more books and make more money.

  22. Even though I am friends with the individuals who proposed the Hugo for Children’s/Young Adult book, I do not think I would have supported it. While Xopher (#18) notes that “it wouldn’t be a junior AWARD (all Hugos are the same; you get a rocket, end of story),” I think that the exact wording of the amendment ["An author (or authors) whose book is nominated in this category and the Best Novel category may not be nominated in both categories simultaneously."] might well have resulted in the YA award being looked upon as a secondary award, especially given the long history of the Best Novel award.

    http://www.renovationsf.org/downloads/wsfs-resolution-children.pdf

    I also had trouble with the lack of any definition as to what constitutes young adult fiction, and would hate to leave that determination to marketing executives. It should be noted that, to the best of my knowledge, “Enders Game” was marketed as both Adult and YA literature and that “Starship Troopers” was initially submitted to “Boy’s Life” for serialization (though they passed on it and it was subsequently serialized in “F & SF”).

    Finally, while I generally agree that there are too many Hugo categories now, I did spend almost six hours at the Worldcon Business Meeting in Reno (the first business meetings I’ve attended in over 15 years), supporting the creation of a new Hugo category (Best Fancast) since that appeared to be the easiest and most popular way the separate Podcasts from traditional, written, fanzines.

  23. “Which is a positive for them, but it should be noted that YA Literature is doing just fine without science fiction fans, if one goes by overall sales numbers.”

    Which, while true, isn’t really the direction I’m going with that. You’re right that YA doesn’t need help selling books, but marketing books isn’t the goal of the Hugos (which I have been reminded of again and again during this debate). WorldCon *needs* YA Lit readers. They keep talking about the greying of fandom and how they aren’t involving young people, but they aren’t reading or recognizing the literature that the people I know under 35 are reading and talking about. Getting current fandom to read more YA would give them something more to discuss with younger readers (and not just YA, I am over 30 but I’m part of a significant slice of fandom, especially female, that reads a lot of older YA) and get them into the fold of fandom. If they don’t I think they will keep dwindling and die out to favor the conventions that do allow for YA literature fandom because that’s where the younger fans are.

  24. I like the kind of post-Hugo kvetching that Dan Wells engaged in on his blog, which was an in-depth analysis of the voting data. The kind of information that #15 is asking for. Here’s a link to it.

    However the kind of discourse you are talking about does more harm than good. Referring to #23’s comment:
    This sort of critique paints any criticism of the Hugo choices with the brush that it’s not worth listening to. Perhaps I’m misreading you, though.

    I do think, that you, Josh, are misreading John because what he specifically seems to be referencing in his critique on critique is precisely the type of commentary that bashes fandom for not picking winners according to their taste, rather than providing any sort of intellectually objective commentary on the nominated works. Of course it’s ok to have dissenting opinions, I think what John is saying is that to differentiate yourself from the crowd of post-Hugo kvetchers, you need to invest your criticism with clear evidence that you’re not solely speaking out of personal taste.

  25. @ #25 Phil Royce

    There is nothing wrong with it being a marketing ploy alone. I think it would be a much better marketing ploy if there was some type of focus and, as a result, there was some type of benefit for the consumer, not just the publisher. I know what is meant by “Science Fiction”, “Fantasy”, “Mystery”, etc. I am completely lost and have no idea what to expect from a book when it is labeled YA.

    I think maybe part of this is cultural. I wouldn’t think twice about having my pre-teen read Lord of the Flies (to use that as an example again). When I talk to my American friends about books we read in grade school and books my children read in grade school, the reactions range from envious – shocked that a book that is considered more late teen – adult is even be read by children.

    From a publishing view-point, I understand the marketing behind it. Marketing to teens is quite the money maker. From a consumer’s point of view, it does nothing but confuse me, and therefor the marketing is not effective, or at least isn’t having the desired effect, on this consumer.

  26. Thoughts in no real order:

    Kvetching: I think people take the Best term a bit too literally. The award is also about how well liked an author is, how well known that novel is and how popular the novel was. Since the winner HAS to come from the nominees it doesn’t matter if a given voter feels that there are other novels that were far better – she can only vote for one of the nominees. Of course, it’s also rather silly to pretend that it’s even possible to objectively stack rank novels. At the end of the day, even though the voting scheme looks rigourous and scientific it’s still just the opinions of a bunch of people. Heck, there’s not even a way to verify people have read all 5 of the nominees in a category and how can anyone defend their vote as meaning “this work is the best of the five nominees” if they haven’t read all five? At best, they could say “I feel the one I voted for is Hugo worthy.”

    On YA: Aside from the definitional issues and the issue inherent in splitting awards, does a separate award really solve the issue? Is it that YA needs more exposure (um… really?) or is it that five slots are not enough to encompass all of the worthy novels and that YA is either being bumped off the top five or is bumping other works? If that’s the case it should be relatively simple for people to come up with a list of the next 5 or so novels that are just as worthy as the actual nominees.

  27. Aurora Celeste has come in and said quite a bit of what I was planning to, but I’m a YA author and reviewer whose focus is sci-fi and I agree that there is a significant adult population (mostly female) reading and enjoying YA science fiction who have not successfully been embraced by the adult SF community. They’re very much separate, and the books I hear frequently celebrated by the YA community are not often mentioned by the wider SF community, despite the fact that many are of very high quality, both speculatively and in terms of other writing STUFF. And it’s not really that YA needs older SF fans to acknowledge or validate it, but that this is good science fiction that is being ignored due to marketing–and the continual denial of the quality of these books marginalizes the readers (again, many of whom are adults, and if they’re not, they will be, shortly) from the wider SF community.

    I suppose this is my long way to say I don’t even understand YA to begin with.

    If it helps, YA is mostly very much like adult lit and some of it is indistinguishable from adult literature and, yes, labeled that way for marketing reasons. But mostly you can expect YA novels to be plot driven, faster paced, and to have teenage protagonists. Only the last is really requisite. I think a lot of classic SF (Anne McCaffrey comes to mind) would have been marketed as YA had it been published first today.

  28. Josh Jasper:

    “This sort of critique paints any criticism of the Hugo choices with the brush that it’s not worth listening to.”

    I don’t think that’s true, although I do think it’s true that if a core component of your criticism boils down to “people didn’t vote the way they should have, which is the way I think they should have,” the criticism is fundamentally shallow.

    I also think there’s a difference between saying “This is not how I would have voted,” and “this is not how you should have voted.” The first I find perfectly unobjectionable; the second presents philosophical issues for me.

  29. @ #31 Phoebe North

    Thank you for your definition of YA. For my tastes, and this is just that, as a teen I wouldn’t have enjoyed YA. Having teen characters has never been important to me. “Human” stories and stories that explore humanity and the nature of it, both the good and the downright dark (I’ve always preferred stories that explore the really dark side of humanity over the lighter side), stories that explore culture, etc., is what grabs me. I don’t care about the age or sex of the characters, as long as it makes me contemplate something about my existence. My boys are the same way.

    That being said, I do understand that there are people who need characters that are the same sex and around the same age, and if YA stuck to age of characters as being the only criteria and not include style, etc., (I read a lot of adult books that have a faster pace and that is my preference. I really dislike when an writer paints every thing for me and doesn’t allow me to add my own colours to a story. That bores me to tears and I end up not finishing the book.), then things would be less confusing. At least, for me they would be. I do worry though that it may alienate people, who are like me, who don’t care about age and sex of the characters but are very much about the story itself. But if it does actually help more readers than not make a purchasing decision, then great!

    I think I may fall under a very different and peculiar demographic. When I read reviews, if all the reviewer does is summarise the plot and give me the age and sex of the characters, I find that review useless. But if they tell me what they experienced while reading the story, the personal journey the story took them on, that I find it useful and I can make a more informed decision whether or not there is something in the story for me. Or maybe I’m not as alone here as I think I am.

  30. I’d argue that the best response to people post-Hugo kvetching is to remind them that they have the opportunity, or possibly even a moral obligation, to sign up for next year’s Worldcon so their precious votes will result in the triumph of truth, justice and whatever…

  31. Stevie:

    Yeah, although to be fair people gripe about the Oscars, too, and every few of those actually are able to vote for them. I think it’s fine to gripe about the results without participating, but I think it’s also reasonable to say that if you could have participated but didn’t, tut-tutting those who did participate for making what you consider bad choices falls a bit flat.

  32. I see no problem with basic criticism of the results. I do see a lot of bitterness over the results on the part of people who are not, or refuse to be, involved in the process.

  33. Not-a-Hugo seems the easiest way. We want to recognize YA writers among their peers. Inspiring more authors to write YA by having the award at Worldcon, would help introduce more young readers to our genre, which is what we need.

  34. A lot of snootiness abounds around YA lately, for some reason, and I think giving it its own category would be end up marginalizing the work rather than recognizing it. It seems akin to saying, “Well, here’s the real Hugo award, and here’s one for those books that are, you know, for kids.” I think the quality of the writing and storytelling can be judged by the same yardstick whether it’s YA or not. Just because the subject matter is for younger people doesn’t mean the writing is somehow less, and I feel like differentiating the award implies that very thing.

  35. John – I don’t think that’s true, although I do think it’s true that if a core component of your criticism boils down to “people didn’t vote the way they should have, which is the way I think they should have,” the criticism is fundamentally shallow.

    OK, then it’s likely I misread you.

    On a personal level, if I see a criticism of criticism that dosen’t actually *point* to said criticism of the hugos you mention above, I really have no idea if it’s at all valid.

    I don’t know who you’re talking about. It could be anyone. I’ve got some criticism myself, but it’s more along the lines of – as a reviewer and sometimes critic, I think X entry was a much stronger, better written and more important book than Y entry, which I think was not as strong, but done by a more popular producer of Z media.

    Hugos being what they are, we’re getting a “most popular among Hugo voters” vote, which is a granted, but I think there’s some value to talking about “was this a good, important thing, or a popular, but not as good thing when compared to other nominations?” And also in asking general questions about what gets nominated, what wins, and why.

  36. Josh Jasper:

    “On a personal level, if I see a criticism of criticism that dosen’t actually *point* to said criticism of the hugos you mention above, I really have no idea if it’s at all valid.”

    And that is of course entirely fair. I chose not to point to specific examples, so I accept that I lay myself vulnerable to the “you’re making a ‘some people’ argument” criticism.

  37. I do think there is legitimate discussion to be had– perhaps not so much over how people voted (that’s a matter of personal taste), but over the nuances of the voting system itself. How many voters understand that their fourth-place vote may turn into a first-place vote? When I voted, I didn’t, which I admit is no one’s fault by my own. But that extra knowledge will probably impact how I vote next year.

    Now that I do understand the math, I can see how the system strongly favors things with wide name recognition (for example, Doctor Who). And established authors and franchises will tend to win over things that are newer but very popular in that particular year.

    I’m not saying ZOMG THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN; I’m not even saying it’s necessarily a bad thing, but it does seem to be an interesting quirk of the system worth mulling over.

  38. I’d add to Phoebe North’s good description of YA above that they also generally steer clear of explicit sex or drug use. I’ve never seen this specifically proscribed anywhere, just my observation, but it seems like a guideline that a publisher would encourage in order to avoid controversy with parents and/or school boards.

    I find myself irrationally offended that adult YA readers are being identified here as ‘primarily female.’ :)

  39. The Other Keith:

    While it can be hard to trust the New York Times with YA information they have the best study I’ve seen on the subject: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/08/books/review/Paul-t.html

    According to surveys by the Codex Group, a consultant to the publishing industry, 47 percent of 18- to 24-year-old women and 24 percent of same-aged men say most of the books they buy are classified as young adult. The percentage of female Y.A. fans between the ages of 25 and 44 has nearly doubled in the past four years. Today, nearly one in five 35- to 44-year-olds say they most frequently buy Y.A. books. For themselves.

    If we use the rough 50% of the US population being male and 50% being female then there’s almost 2 female YA readers aged 18-to-24 for every 1 male. I guess it depends on your definition of “primarily”, but 2/3 fits mine.

  40. I’m torn – as a librarian (even if I’m an academic one) – I think yes, we should have a separate award for YA…

    But as some one who reads mostly YA fantasy and scifi as my personal reading of choice – I just don’t get where they’re different enough if they’re done right… OTHER than some of the obvious things (they’re “cleaner,” they’re shorter, etc) which are actually some of the reasons I’ve read more YA fantasy and scifi than I have “regular” but to me that’s not really characteristics that make them YA – they could just be cleaner, shorter, regular novels, right?

  41. I don’t think Blackout/All Clear should have won the Hugo. The two books could easily have 50% of the material cut from them, as the only plot revolved around if they’d changed the timeline, and then finding out that, no, wait, they didn’t.

    Good historical information in it, but it was a very badly written *novel*.

  42. To clarify, not only was that the only plot, but Connie Willis used the threat of changing the future as a cliffhanger in nearly every chapter.

    There was so much redundancy in the plotlines that the two books could easily have been pared down and put into one truly excellent novel.

  43. “Point is, yes, people are bitching about the Hugo results. When do they not?”
    Jon Chait had a great article on why awards always seem go to the wrong person:

    “Nearly every field of human endeavor has a regular prize. And nearly every prize seems to regularly go to a clearly undeserving winner. Woody Allen’s character complained in Annie Hall, “They’re always giving out awards. Best Fascist Dictator: Adolf Hitler.” If an award like that really did exist, though, they’d probably end up giving it to Mussolini.”

  44. John: “YA doesn’t need SF fandom to recognize its existence: it’s already got millions upon millions of teens and tweens to do that.”

    I agree and it has the Hugos to celebrate the best of the best – as voted on by the Worldcon attendants.

    Having attended this years Worldcon/Hugo awards and Golden Duck presentation, let me say I challenge every single Worldcon attendee to name, off the top of their head, the Golden Duck Award winning author. Come on now he is quite popular at the moment. You remember you saw him accept his award. Wait, no you didn’t the Golden Duck awards were presented to an attendance of 8 adults. As much as i applaud the Golden Duck s for their valiant efforts in showcasing YA fiction to say the awards are on par with the Hugos is a misconception.

    The kids reading today’s SF/F are our future authors and fans. YA is their gateway drug, lets give them the good stuff, the pure stuff.
    The first taste is always free

    BTW the answer is Robert J Sawyers “Watch”

    For disclosure purposes, Yes I am the Juli Hanslip on the initial YA proposal.

  45. I disagree. There’s plenty of plot in both books. The constant fear that one of them will be killed in the Blitz, as well as the terror one of them has of coming up on her deadline (which will kill her but not disrupt the timeline); the constant fear of the contemps they’ve become attached to getting killed also plays a role throughout.

    I found it wholly engrossing and suspenseful. Yes, there are mistakes in it. But I liked it anyway.

  46. I’ll freely own up to kvetching about some of the Hugo winners, but only as an expression of personal taste. Although I did not much like Blackout/All Clear, I can understand why people did. In general I had a difficult time voting for that category because, aside from my first pick, The Dervish House, I either didn’t like the other nominees or did not regard them as particularly “Hugo-worthy” even though I enjoyed the hell out of them.

    Several commenters have pointed out that a YA Hugo would be difficult because of the difficulty assigning a definition to YA, and I wouldn’t like to see a YA Hugo for that reason. I don’t have a fundamental problem classifying certain books as YA if that’s what publishers want to do (it obviously seems to be working). But I don’t agree with the line of reasoning that says a YA Hugo would attract more young readers to the Hugo Awards or to reading “adult” science fiction in general. Firstly, I suspect that those readers, if they are reading YA science fiction, are going to read adult science fiction anyway. Secondly, although I don’t condemn it, I’m wary of the “Young Adult” title, because it feels so very prescriptive to me. It seems to be saying, “Here kids, you can read these books. Those other books? No, those are for adults.”

    Anyway, some of my friends and I were discussing potential new Hugo categories, and one of them came up with the idea of a Hugo Award for Best Series. I’m not sure how it could fit in with the Hugos, since they are given to newly-published works, so maybe the award wouldn’t be appropriate as a Hugo itself. However, it would be nice to celebrate certain series overall. (The friend in question mentioned that she didn’t consider Cryoburn as being a Hugo-winning novel but would happily award a Hugo to the entire Vorkosigan saga.)

  47. I wouldn’t be interested in a YA Hugo as much as I’d be interested in seeing them institute a Lifetime Achievement Hugo. Because if Stan Schmidt retires or dies without at least one Hugo, it tells me that something is very wrong and/or missing in the Hugo selection process, that an editor of his long tenure and stature can pass through the genre without getting his proper due. The Academy Awards have one, so the WSFS ought to have one too. I was, frankly, quite shocked that Sheila Williams hadn’t won a Hugo before Renovation. She’s younger than Stan, but not immortal. Had she left without a Hugo it would seem to me to be a great shame. There are many people — authors, editors, artists, and so forth — who might not ever come close to a Hugo in any given year. But a cumulative body of work over a lifetime? I think that’s worth honoring — and not only after someone dies.

  48. YA doesn’t need SF fandom to recognize its existence: it’s already got millions upon millions of teens and tweens to do that.

    YA may not need it, but the authors can probably use it — anything that can be used to have their books stand out from the dozens or hundreds of others on the shelf is a good thing for them.

    (While reading the post and comments, I had a vision of Worldcon being filled with teens and tweens. I don’t know who I was more horrified for.)

  49. As others have already noted, the best of YA doesn’t announce itself as YA. I’ve thought for years, and continue to think, that some of the best writing is done for readers of younger ages. I have a lot of thoughts about why this might be (which aren’t relevant to the current thread, and I fear the mallet, so I won’t elaborate) but I keep coming back to the idea that good writing, like murder, will out.

    If that’s true, then no particular Hugo for YA is needed. What Norton might miss, Newberry might pick up (“A Wrinkle In Time” comes to mind).

    Since YAs have managed to fare pretty well, I wonder how much of the kveching for a new award is due to people wanting to reduce the field of competition for “grown up” novels…

  50. My own personal Hugo kvetch has to do with the dramatic presentation. We didn’t get samples of text from the written nominees- first paragraphs perhaps?- so why should we get it for dramatic presentation? Especially since this is the field that could, in most years, win a special Hugo for not giving a damn about the Hugos.

    The Tor.com site has had an ongoing discussion about the Hugos led by Jo Walton. Excellent reading, and it won’t last much longer- she’s stopping at 2000.

  51. “I don’t think YA books really need a separate Hugo, inasmuch as there have been two recent Hugo winners that were YA books”

    “Old Man’s War” springs to mind. ;)

  52. Snark aside, OMW is explicitly patterned after Starship Troopers, which was originally written as a juvie. So this is not terribly far off. Although it didn’t win its year; Spin did.

    And of course, “Zoe’s Tale” is written for younger readers in mind, along with the regular crowd, and was nominated for the Norton.

  53. But John…well, I guess you could read Zoe’s Tale by itself, but I think it would be confusing if you hadn’t read OMW and GB. LC would be a pretty good idea to read, too.

    Since you’ve brought up Zoe’s Tale, I’d just like to say that at first I thought “Wait, the same story from a different point of view,” but quickly realized that in fact it’s an entirely different story set against the same historical background. It sounds like an odd thing to do at first, but you made it work. The problem I have is in recommending it to people; I can’t make it sound as good as it really is (a microcosm of the problem with The Android’s Dream, which I can never make sound 5% as fun as it really is).

    I guess these are good problems to have, come to think of it.

  54. What I particularly like about the kvetching is how varied it is. When I searched online for the Hugo winners list I found a couple of places that had it (there’s a lot more now), but I had to laugh about the comments. At the first place, the first comment was a screed about how the best literature was ignored and people had just voted for what was popular. The second place I looked had a commentator who complained about how the awards had been hijacked by the snobby literature lot and was ignoring the popular (but I assume somehow not literate?) works.

  55. It seems to me that the Seiun Awards really don’t need to be reiterated as part of the Hugo ceremony. The John W. Campbell Not A Hugo Award, sure. The Big Heart? Yeah, that fits too. Why does the Seiun gets a special place that the Prix Aurora doesn’t?

    Dropping that would leave room for the presentation of a YA award (the Golden Duck, presumably) without adding any real length to the ceremony.

  56. As someone who worked on the committee to split the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo in two, thus cementing my place as someone who once appealed to the “let’s add an award” crowd, I agree with those who argue against a YA Hugo. How to determine short vs long-form media was a much easier decision to reach, and I say this knowing what it took to get to the figures we did.

    And yep, post-Hugo kvetching is as predictable as the fact the Hugos take place at Worldcon.

  57. Josh Jasper at #23 – As one of the organizers, glad you enjoyed the after party! Hope to see you next year!

    Pam Adams at #55 – In fact, members of the Worldcon for the last few years have had the opportunity to download the “Hugo Packet” – a collection of all of the written works that are nominated (thanks to our Mr. Scalzi himself, who started the idea a few years back!). This year’s Packet even included samples of artwork from the Fan and Pro Artist Nominees. The idea being that then the Worldcon members (Hugo voters) get to make more informed choices in their voting. The only things *not* included in the Packet are BDP samples. The BDPs generally are shown in their entirety during the convention, with a brief clip at the ceremony, but unfortunately due to licencing and whatnot, cannot be included ahead of time in the Packet.

    Christopher Davis at #61 – As a member of the Chairman’s Staff this year, and Deputy Area Head for the Hugo Ceremony, I can say that there is a lot of debate about which “non-Hugo” awards are in the Ceremony, which is *the* event of the Worldcon. One of the things that we did this year was incorporate the Seiuns into a video that Japanese fans made regarding the earthquake / tsunami earlier this year and how Japanese fandom is recovering. Unlike other years, we didn’t have an actual presentation of them live at the Ceremony. There has also been discussion periodically over whether or not the Big Heart should be presented at the Ceremony. Thus far I haven’t heard much kvetching about the Campbell, but I am sure that debate over which awards belong in the Hugo Ceremony will continue and someday that one will end up debated as well. :) The issue, of course, is that we can’t present *every* award at the Hugo Ceremony, as much as we wish we could, or we would never leave…

    Helen Montgomery
    Flying Monkee (Vice Chair), Chicon 7
    Chairman’s Staff, Renovation

  58. Re: #15 by B. Durbin:

    Rather than post a long note on the Hugo voting progress (I was Hugo Administrator in 2000 and 2003), I’ll paste the first paragraph from the Wikipedia article on Instant-runoff voting and recommend you visit Wikipedia to read the rest:

    Instant-runoff voting (IRV), also known as preferential voting, the alternative vote and ranked choice voting, is a voting system used to elect one winner. Voters rank candidates in order of preference, and their ballots are counted as one vote for their first choice candidate. If a candidate secures a majority of votes cast, that candidate wins. Otherwise, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. A new round of counting takes place, with each ballot counted as one vote for the advancing candidate who is ranked highest on that ballot. This process continues until the winning candidate receives a majority of the vote against the remaining candidates.

    Michael

  59. @#49 – Sawyer winning a YA award gets to the heart of the definition question. I’ve read most of what he’s written, including Wake and Watch, and would not characterize the WWW series as particularly “Young Adult.” I may be biased, as my class did The Hobbit in elementary school.

  60. Pete @65: I believe that Robert J. Sawyer’s Wake and Watch, as well as the concluding volume,Wonder are considered by some to be YA because one of the main characters, Caitlin Decter, is a sixteen year-old girl.The same reasoning, I think, goes for Our Gracious Host’s Zoe’s Tale.

    I am a long-time Sawyer fan, so I am of course happy to see him receive any awards people are willing to give him, but I do agree that in the case of Watch, it does highlight the fact that in a Venn diagram of one circle “Adult SFF books” and the other “YA SF/F books,” there is considerable overlap.

    As for kvetching, hey, I paid my membership. ;-) The right to engage in this pastime is part of what I paid for, so I will kvetch that I believe that the Best Dramatic Presentation — Short Form should have a rule that says you can have no more than one episode of a series on the Final ballot. And while I loved Blackout/All Clear, I think allowing a novel that was published as two novels to appear on the ballot as one sets a bad precedent.

  61. @The Other Kieth, I don’t know if I agree about the sex and drug use. Explicit sex, sure, but content-wise plenty of YA includes both sex and drugs, from Beth Revis’s Across the Universe, which had a near-gang rape scene, to Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies books, where teens abuse appetite suppressants and cut themselves to stay sharp.

    As for the men/women split, no offense intended! Most YA writers are, of course, happy to have male readers, but the fact of the matter is that most readers in that age category are female.

  62. Aurora @44, thanks for the cite. I wasn’t actually disputing the assertion, just irrationally offended!

    Reading through these comments I’ve gone back and forth on the value of a YA Hugo (or Hugo-level Not-a-Hugo) and I think I’ve come down against it, and here’s why: ultimately, ‘Young Adult’ is a marketing term created by the publishing industry. Unless you can quantify exactly what is or isn’t a YA novel (very difficult at best, likely impossible) then you’re giving publishers the power to decide which novels are voted in each category. I’d guess that most publishers have better things to do than try to game the Hugos, but I’m not willing to bet on it.

    Also: “The Golden Duck” is a stupid name for a literary prize unless your intention is to not be taken at all seriously.

  63. Also also: A couple of comments upthread pertaining to Connie Willis’ Blackout/All Clear veer dangerously close to spoiler territory for those of us who haven’t read it yet. Please be mindful!

  64. Well, obviously one human’s kvetch is another’s valid concern :)

    That said. My problems were largely with Best Novel. Now I get that Connie Willis is a nice person and a great asset to fandom and conventions in general, but a book with THAT many basic errors of research in it – especially one which is meant to be abut history (ignoring the AH Oxford it starts in) doesn’t deserve to win against, say, picking randomly, The Dervish House.

    Then again, Ian McDonald shouldn’t have lost out to Jonathon Strange and Mr Norrel either.

    Short Dramatic… heh… They were, in my opinion, three quite week Doctor Who stories and as the Lost thing didn’t really do it for me, I only had one option. I was impressed to see that Rachel Bloom came to the con.

    YA: I’m with our esteemed host. A good novel is a good novel whether its for Young Adults or not. There doesn’t need to be a separate award.

    But, as I’ve remarked elsewhere, while I’m still able to be upright, beer in hand at 5am while we decide if we’re going to do something juvenile to James Bacon’s sleeping form, I’m unlikely to be in the Business Meeting at 10am to do something about it. This is probably, on the whole, a good thing for Fandom.

  65. I read three of the five Hugo novel nominees this year, since I couldn’t vote (in which case I would have read all of them).

    I really LOVE the Vorkosigan books and Connie Willis is one of my very favorite authors.

    That said, I would have voted for The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. I’d rather vote for a good book by a new author than a good book by two authors with a demonstrable capacity to write a great book. Memory, Paladin of Souls and Doomsday Book are great books, IMO. Cryoburn and Blackout/All Clear were disappointing to this fervent fan. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms was very good and I look forward to seeing how Jemisin develops as an author.

    I was similarly floored when The Graveyard Book won over Anathem (as was Mr. Gaiman, if his acceptance speech is to be believed). But that is much more attributable to differences in likes and dislikes as The Graveyard Book is a great book in a completely different vein than Anatham is a great book (less likely to give one a concussion for one thing!) And to choose between those and Little Brother actually caused me pain. What a choice!

    But I personally don’t view Blackout/All Clear as a great book and wonder if it would have won if written by a relatively unknown author instead of a very popular and favorite author who is a fantastic person. That’s one of the criteria I try to use when voting. Would I vote for this book if written by someone I’d never heard of?

    And I also would like WSFS to revisit the idea of including two books as one work on the ballot. I’m not comfortable with that.

    But no need in my mind to revisit the idea of allowing multiple episodes from the same TV show. Short form is short form and each episode ought to be judged independently of any other episode on the same show.

    Not that I’d cry if Dramatic Presentation disappeared from the ballot entirely.

    I wouldn’t want to see YA split as a category. I think the nomination of Zoe’s Tale, The Graveyard Book and Little Brother, all strong contenders for Best Novel and one that won, shows that YA is well on its way to holding it’s own in the Best Novel category.

    But giving space to the Golden Duck at or before the Hugos might be nice. Or better yet, allowing the Golden Duck to ballot with the Hugos (if they want to).

  66. Lots of people appear to be complaining about the fact that the two volumes of Connie’s book were considered together, and there seems to be some feeling that this gave her an unfair advantage. But stop and think a minute about what would have happened if the books had been considered separately. Most of Connie’s fans would have used two of their nominations on Connie books instead of one. Both Blackout and All Clear would have appeared on the ballot (probably at the expense of Cryoburn). This would not have “split the vote” in the final ballot, because the voting system doesn’t work like that. (Look at what happened with the three Doctor Who episodes in BDP: Short if you don’t believe me.) And one of Connie’s two books would still have won the Hugo. Considering the two books together (which I note only happens when the books are nominated together by the voting public – its isn’t something that Hugo Administrators force upon us) primarily had the effect of giving one other writer the job of being a nominee, and adding one more book to the Voter Packet. It didn’t help Connie at all.

  67. The Other Keith:

    I didn’t think you were disputing, but sometimes facts can help my feelings level out, so I was trying to help you :D It is something that seems very odd and like it *shouldn’t* be true but is. I’ve got theories on why, but no hard facts so I’ll restrain from starting off-topic rumors and fights.

    I also agree with Phoebe about sex and drug use. I’ve not seen a lot, but I’ve seen it about on par with adult novels, percentage-wise. You hear more about the few in YA, though, because of efforts to ban them. This has happened for decades, so it’s not a new trend in YA either.

    I think I’ve come down against it, and here’s why: ultimately, ‘Young Adult’ is a marketing term created by the publishing industry.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t “Science Fiction” a marketing term created by publishers as well?

  68. Cheryl Morgan @72: Your point about how the voting system works and what likely would have resulted had Blackout and All Clear been listed separately is well taken. I think what pissed off many people (even many of her fans) was that this book was split in two in the first place, with effort to edit it into one (admittedly) large book, then chopping in half cliffhanger style, and then making us wait nine months fro the ending. And while this was supposedly one novel, we the readers were charged for two. This certainly made it feel like Connie and her publisher were trying to have it both ways. While it may not have given her an advantage in the Hugo voting, I think that this is where a lot of the kvetching comes from. For my part, I’m not as angry with Connie about all this as I am with her editor and her publisher.

    Aurora Celeste @73: Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t “Science Fiction” a marketing term created by publishers as well?

    Perhaps, but “Science Fiction” at least attempts to describe the book itself, rather than its readers and their ages.

  69. Cheryl @72, I’m not saying it helped Ms. Willis. You’re right the voting doesn’t work like that. I’m saying that a book is a book. I agree with your analysis of probable voting patterns. Yet I am still troubled about considering two books as one work.

    Just as I am concerned about considering multiple episodes as “one work” in BDP: Short, which some people also seem to be arguing for. An episode is an episode and a book is a book.

    Hugh57 @74: IMNSHO, All Clear could have been one reasonably sized book with suitable editing and not affected the story at all. So yes, that’s probably the origin of some of my dudgeon. I felt like deja vu all over again several times whilst reading them. (Since I read both books via the Library and probably won’t purchase them in the forseeable future the money aspect is not so significant for me. Except as a taxpayer into the Library system. Hurrah for Libraries!!)

  70. Hugh57:

    “This certainly made it feel like Connie and her publisher were trying to have it both ways.”

    Her publisher, yes. Ms. Willis, probably not so much. It’s doubtful she had much say in the decision to cut the book in two. This sort of thing happens more frequently than you may imagine; after a novel gets past a certain length publishers start looking into the feasibility of chopping it into two separate books. It’s happened to several authors I know.

  71. Re: book length…

    I did hear an amusing story from another author at Renovation that expanding a book significantly is now known as doing a “Hamiliton” – Peter F, was said to be amused.

  72. ULTRAGOTHA: I’m sure you feel that it is obvious that “a book is a book”, but not everyone agrees. The Hugos have a long tradition of treating a work published in multiple installments as a single item, dating all of the way back to the days when novels were first published in installments in magazines (as indeed used to happen to Dickens when he first started). Had you been around in 1953 when the Hugos first started, would you have insisted that The Demolished Man be voted on as four separate short stories rather than a serialized novel? (Not that they had a short story category for the first year, but you get the point, I hope.)

    Of course you may have done. You are free to disagree. What’s why Hugo Administrators try not to make rulings on such things. If more people had nominated Blackout and All Clear as separate works than as a single work they would have appeared on the ballot as such.

    As our host notes, this sort of book splitting happens quite a lot, often against the wishes of the author. If you see it happen again with a likely nominee, you are free to lead a campaign to have the two books considered separately.

  73. ULTRAGOTHA @76: I tend to agree that some editing could have brought Blackout/All Clear down to a single volume, though one’s mileage (particularly a publisher’s) may vary as to what is “reasonably” sized. Blackout was 491 pp., All Clear was 641 pp., so combined, without any editing, it would have been 1,132 pp., or about the size of George R.R. Martin’s A Storm of Swords. A bit of judicious editing could have brought that down to 992 pp. (or less), which is where I believe Neal Stephenson’s Anathem checked in. And I think Stephenson has proved that SF readers will buy doorstop books, not just epic fantasy readers.

    But as John points out, it’s the publisher’s call, so I can’t fault Connie Willis too much.

  74. I’m a veteran reader of huge novels (Infinite Jest — twice! — A Suitable Boy, and more Neal Stephenson than you can shake a stick at), so mere length does not dissuade me. But I think that Wllis’ novel/novels could have and should have been cut down to much fewer than 992 pages because there just wasn’t enough happening to justify the length. I’m saying this after slogging through the first volume and dropping the second after 100 or so pages. I posted a question at AskMetafilter asking for some insight and a plot summary, and I will be giving the second volume another try (having heard from other frustrated readers that it does get better), but a well-researched book by one of my favourite authors shouldn’t be such a slog.

    As much as I love her work and look forward to her next novel, this one was nearly unreadable because it was so repetitive and so frustrating. On the one hand, I’m happy she got a Hugo for it, because she is Awesome, but on the other hand, I hope this doesn’t encourage her to do this again.

  75. For what it’s worth, when I saw Connie Willis do a reading when Blackout came out she said something to the effect of, and I’m really paraphrasing here, it wasn’t her idea to break up the book in two and she really didn’t like that it that the cover gave no indication this was the first of a two parter that ended on a cliff hanger and added if anyone who had already bought the book thought they were mislead she would buy the books back. She didn’t get any takers.

  76. Kvetching: The kvetching is annoying, so thanks for pointing out the good side effects of it, John. Interesting to read other folks’ takes here — and their kvetching! ;-) A lot of kvetching just makes me roll my eyes, for various reasons depending on the kvetch.

    YA Hugo: Some people believe everything needs a Hugo, or everything needs its own award. I completely disagree, and YA novel (along with a couple of existing Hugo categories) fall into the “doesn’t need its own Hugo” IMHO.

    Other Awards at Hugos: At recent Worldcon’s I’ve attended, and I forget when this trend started, the Hugo Awards Ceremony has been streamlined to mostly be just the Hugos, the Campbell (voted on the same way), and the Big Heart. I believe there are a few reasons, and I think it makes sense to keep it like this (with perhaps the occasional exception). Anyway, I’m skeptical other awards will be added on an ongoing basis. Other awards can generally get their own programming items. Yes, it’s not the same. But that’s a feature, not a bug, IMHO.

    @19 (Aurora Celeste): Categories exist to award works, not to expose voters to works. I feel like you’re putting the cart before the horse by looking to a YA Hugo to expose voters to works. The voting pool needs to be at least somewhat familiar with the category and potential works for it to be viable. WSFS members from two (soon, three) Worldcons nominate works. If nominations are slim, or folks haven’t/don’t read the nominees, because they aren’t interested in that type of work, then it’s a poor category.

  77. I’m coming in way at the end of this discussion, but just wanted to note that I disagree with those who think the definition of YA is, well, indefinable. I think that perspective really comes from readers who don’t read widely in YA. To my mind (I am a YA author; my first novel, Ash, was nominated for a Norton), YA is very clearly definable. It has specific publishers, specific themes, specific styles, specific trends, specific voices. Some books cross over from YA to adult, and I think it’s those titles that have won the Hugo for best novel. Incidentally, those winning titles were also written by authors who also write adult novels, and are thus known to adult readers of SF.

    Because most Hugo voters, I think, don’t read that much YA, I’m actually against adding a Hugo for Best YA. It’s sort of like asking Hugo voters to nominate books for a mystery or romance award. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I do agree with Phoebe North and Aurora Celeste who say that adult mainstream SFF hasn’t always been the most inclusive of YA SFF, but I think the solution to that is to feature more YA novels/authors at major cons, perhaps in panels or in talks. And for YA SFF authors to just get out there and mingle with everyone else. Because yes, I think many readers of adult SFF would love YA SFF, too. (I’m not even talking about marketing to teens — that’s done much more effectively by librarians/booksellers/publishers, not by SFF cons.)

  78. Re: Other awards at the Hugos. I was disappointed in both the reintroduction of the Seiuns and how the Big Heart Award was presented. Pre-2007, somehow the Seiuns managed to become a “tradition”, despite no other single country’s awards being recognized. Worse, the way the Seiuns were usually presented were for around 7 people to go up on stage, all be introduced (at a level of “Next is Jane Doe, who has [insert history of their involvement in Japanese fandom, taking 1-2 minutes], and is holding the tea set symbolizing this year’s Seiun. Now, let us give you a history of this particular tea set….”) such that one year I clocked the Seiuns alone at just short of 20 minutes.

    And the linking of it to the Japan earthquake/tsunami/meltdown disasters also bothered me, in that as far as I recall, no Japanese sf-associated people were said to have been killed or significantly injured, nor was their fandom significantly affected. Points for keeping things going, but again, how was this more significant/relevant to the Hugos than a natural disaster anywhere else? Personally, if I’d included the video, I would’ve run it before the ceremony, swapping it with the In Memorium slides which have much more right to be in the main ceremony.

    As for the Big Heart, while I respect Dave Kyle and his position in historic fandom, the purpose of the Big Heart is not to let him give a 7 minute or so rant, such that about the only thing he actually said about Gay Haldeman (a most deserving winner) was that she’s Joe’s wife. Part of the problem with the non-Hugo awards is when you let their organizers present them, well, that award is very important and significant to the organizer. And darn it, they’re going to make sure we all know why it’s important and significant. My preference for such awards is that the organizer gets to go on stage holding the physical award. The MC gives a short introduction of the award and organizer. The organizer then gets to say “The Foobar Award goes to Isaac Heinlein”. For the Big Heart, they can also say up to one minute of things *about the award winner and nothing else*. This must be submitted to the Ceremony Organizer in advance to check for length.

    Why is this annoying to me/a problem? Because this year, as in past years when the Seiun and Big Heart both go into overtime, it 1) brings the ceremony to a dead halt, 2) keeps the first Hugo from being presented until more than a half hour (sometimes over 50 minutes) into, y’know, the *Hugo* Ceremony, 3) effectively diminishes the Hugos, as any of them presented by anyone other than SilverWillis, take a much shorter time (I should note I personally enjoy Bob and Connie’s presentations, although I know there are those who don’t. At the very least, they’re a *lot* more entertaining and interesting than the Seiun/Big Heart marathons).

    When I presented Best Fan Writer in 2007*, I asked a number of past nominees, presenters, and winners, and almost always got back that my presentation should take at most a minute. And when I was writing it, I tried to keep in mind that it wasn’t about me, it was about the category and the award. I don’t see why the Seiuns, Big Heart, or any other non-Hugo should take longer than that to present (note that I’m not saying anything about how long folk should get to accept an award; as far as I recall, we’ve not had anyone go to ridiculous lengths when accepting, at least without being sincere and/or entertaining (i.e. Chris Garcia for Best Dramatic Presentation-Short Form next year : -)).

    *No, it still doesn’t make much sense to me why I was asked to present a Hugo, let alone that particular category. I did consider it a considerable honor and made an effort to do as good a job as I could, and was very grateful that several folk spontaneously told me they’d enjoyed my presentation

  79. Hugos are the book equivalent of a People’s Choice award. They’re not the opinion of authors (that’s what the Nebulas are for), and they’re not industry-oriented (we have the Locus awards for that). Hugos are a popularity contest. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a great barometer of what other fans enjoy, which tells a reader what he or she might like, as well.

    No one should confuse this with, say, the literary canon, which is proven over time and not always popular. For a more academic perspective, we have the John W. Campbell Memorial or perhaps the Arthur C. Clark Awards. So many awards exist because they all give different perspectives of what is worth reading. If you you don’t like Hugo award populism, then follow the awards that best match your taste. The Campbell Memorial is my personal favorite, but I like many Hugo nominated books, as well. I might also add: If you disagree with the Hugo selections, then nominate and vote for next year’s awards!

  80. Helen Montgomery@63,

    Yes, I know about and highly appreciate the Hugo Voter’s packet. My objection is to the clips ‘cluttering up’ the presentations.

  81. I concur with the critiques of “Blackout/All Clear.” Although I find Spectra’s decision to “double the money” despicable, I know Connie Willis was uncomfortable with that decision. She is a very nice person (I’ve interviewed her and spoken to her many times). But this book just … sucked. Easily 40 percent too long, repetitive, too much “runaround” driving the plot, tedious “funny” bits, a silly future scenario, and more. By far her worst novel, IMO, and I’ve very much enjoyed some of her other work. What happened to the edgy Willis who wrote “All My Darling Daughters?” I’m glad others see it this way; makes me feel less guilty about disliking this bloated novel.

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