Thoughts On the Hugo Awards, 2014
In no particular order (and for reference, the winners are here):
1. I am super-delighted that the Hugo Best Novel Award went to Ancillary Justice. One, because it’s fantastic, but two, because I feel entirely unwarranted pride in Ann Leckie’s career, because I gave her her first professional sale, and was delighted to give Ancillary Justice a blurb for when it came out. I had nothing to do with the book’s success, other than receive the pleasure of letting people know I thought it was great. I’m still super proud of its clean sweep of the major SF/F awards, and of Ann. This is just great.
2. I’m also giggling that Charlie Stross name-checked me and Lou Anders when he won for Equoid; I remember that fateful night in Denver in 2008, when the messy seeds of that story were planted with two words, the two words being “unicorn bukkake.” And now, Charlie’s got a Hugo out of it. That’s just about perfect.
3. Also: Mary Robinette Kowal! Who is one of my favorite people on the planet. Some of you may know that her Hugo-wining novelette was disqualified last year, despite having enough nominations to make the slate, because its first appearance was in audio form. It then appeared in word form, and here we are. I’m thrilled that it got a chance to be considered in another year, although frankly it should have never been disqualified at all. I do believe a proposed rule change would have audio-first stories considered in fiction categories along with print-first stories. I think that’s wise.
4. And generally I am delighted with the slate of winners in other categories as well. I think there was a fair amount of concern that the large increase of Hugo voters this year was going to be evidence of (for lack of a better phrase for them) “single issue” voters — specifically those voting only for Wheel of Time or participating because of the “sad puppy” slate of conservative writers. But the voting tallies suggest that if there were “single issue” voters, they were swamped out by people who did their homework and then voted from there. To which I say: Well done, Loncon 3 voters! You done good.
5. You’ve seen me snark about it, I’m sure, but now that the voting is over, what did I really think of the “sad puppy” slate of nominees championed by Larry Correia and others? What I thought at the beginning, which was: The folks pushing the slate played within the rules, so game on, and the game is to convince people that the work deserves the Hugo. It does not appear the voters were convinced. As a multiple Hugo loser myself, I can say: That’s the breaks, and better luck another year.
With that said, Correia was foolish to put his own personal capital as a successful and best selling novelist into championing Vox Day and his novelette, because Vox Day is a real bigoted shithole of a human being, and his novelette was, to put it charitably, not good (less charitably: It was like Gene Wolfe strained through a thick and rancid cheesecloth of stupid). Doing that changed the argument from something perfectly legitimate, if debatable — that conservative writers are often ignored for or discounted on award ballots because their personal politics generally conflict with those of the award voters — into a different argument entirely, i.e., fuck you, we got an undeserving bigoted shithole on the Hugo ballot, how you like them apples.
Which is a shame. It’s fine for Correia to beclown himself with Day, if such is his joy, and he deserves to reap the fruits of such an association. I suspect, however, there are others whom he championed for his “sad puppy” slate who were less thrilled to find themselves looped in with Day by involuntary association. Likewise, Correia is a good writer and his works are fun to read and easy to enjoy; others he championed are likewise fine writers, and their works deserving of award consideration. He didn’t do his work, or the work of these other writers, any favors by muddling his message with Day’s nonsense.
Now, I understand Correia will be happy to tell you that his Hugo loss doesn’t matter to him, which is fine. I do wonder if he considered how other people that were seen as part of his slate feel the same way, or whether he’d do them or their careers any damage by associating them with a bigoted shithole, or that if he really wanted to make the argument that a particular set of writers are ignored by award voters, that he went about making the argument in just about the worst way possible. Bad strategy, bad tactics, bad result.
6. About the entire Wheel of Time series being nominated, again, fully within the rules, so game on, and I would have been honestly happy for Brandon Sanderson if he’d picked up the Hugo with Robert Jordan. I think people underestimate the skill and talent required to do what Brandon did over the course of three books, which was to satisfy the long-term fans of the series, bring the series to a well-developed end with all the story arcs closed up and and emotions earned, and to keep his own ego as a writer in check as he did it. Think that’s easy? I sure as hell don’t — and as a writer, I couldn’t have done it. If Wheel of Time had won, Brandon would have earned every millimeter of that rocket, and I would have been cheering for him.
Likewise, I was never particularly worried about Wheel of Time voters being “single issue” voters — that is, voting only for Wheel of Time and then blowing off the rest of the ballot. Anecdotally, I know a fair sampling of Wheel of Time readers, and none of them only read Wheel of Time. Having the series on the ballot may have brought in new voters, but it seems like they took their voting seriously. So there you have it.
7. In sum: A very good year for the Hugos; indeed, a vintage year. Congratulations to the winners; congratulations to the nominees; congratulations to the voters. See you next year in Spokane.