Posted by Sari
I have been following the Hugos with interest for over a decade now, before that I usually just tried to fit the winner to my reading schedule. From the turn of the millenium onwards I have been reading more and more of the nominees, and have made a point attending the Hugo panel in Finncon if at all possible. This year was first time I both nominated and voted in the awards. Very few of my nominations got to the short-list, and even fewer of my first place choices won – quite the opposite: about half of the winners were at or near the bottom of my ballot. This does not, however mean that I think that the awards are broken, or that the result was wrong by any reasonable standards. These are popular awards voted by the membrers of WSFS. As with all the popular awards, the results will never please everyone, people have different standards for voting, and very, very rarely the award goes to something that is edgy or controversial. Them's the breaks.
And despite being in the minority, I loved the process. I had no problem conceptualising the fact that my supporting membership to this year's Worldcon made me a member of WSFS for that year and gave me right to vote, with other members, on Hugo awards. I like the fact that I was voting as a member of a community, adding my voice to the whole. I was plenty huffy about what terrible choices my fellow members made both in the awards and in the nominating stage, but that, too, was part of the fun. I fully reserve the right to rant how these philistines obviously would not know a good book if it bit them, but – as I said – that does not mean that there is something wrong with the process (humanity, maybe, but that is another post entirely).
Everything could be better. It would be good if even more people nominated, voted, and felt the Hugos were for them. It would be nice that people to whom the supporting membership is serious money could be integrated to the process, it would be nice if Hugo voting could encompass a Campbell-like not-a-Hugo for YA, and it would be nice if we had jet packs and flying cars. Maybe unicorns. We are unlikely to get unicorns, but more people have been voting on Hugos during the last years, and there is ongoing discussion – be it sometimes acrimonious - about the directions the awards should be going. It is by large a good thing.
Voting in the Hugos has made me a more informed reader in that I have read quite a lot of stuff I would never have read otherwise. It made me feel as a part of international SF community the way that voting for example in the Locus awards has never done. ”So, how about them Hugos?” has turned out to be a great conversations starter within fandom. The juried awards like Clarke or WFA continue to be better fit to my reading taste, but I will want to be part of the Hugos for years to come. Because Hugos are fun!