Pages

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Hugo Reform v 2.0 Addendum

As per usual, when a piece of ours generates !massive controversy! I like to post an addendum. So here are some thoughts on comments, criticisms, points of contention, etc. I've received (mostly via twitter, but also in the comments on the original post):

1. Your slate still has too many categories!

For some, a 16-category slate is still bloated. The most frequent suggestions I've seen would be to: (a) cut all the dramatic presentation categories (-2 from real slate; -3 from my proposed one); (b) as per Martin Lewis, cut the fiction categories down Best Novel/Best Short Story, and then allow for 10 nominees for the latter (-3 from real slate; -3 from my proposed one); and/or (c) as per Niall Harrison (editor of Strange Horizons), cut the periodicals/related down to Best Pro/Best Fanzine (-2 from real state; -3 from my proposed one).

The advantage here is elegance and simplicity, but the solutions are quite far from what exists now. As such, I doubt this kind of "radical elegance" is an actionable solution for the Hugos. Still, these suggestions are worth taking seriously, even if they might be suited to a new set of awards (without the historical baggage and laborious decision-making process). Nevertheless, I'll take all individual suggestions under consideration for version 3.0. Also, for fun, I'll experiment with a "radical elegance" slate below to show what it might look like if one implemented all these proposed changes.

2. Now your slate has too few categories!

At the same time, some readers feel I've either: (a) collapsed categories that are meaningful and, as such, worth preserving; or (b) failed to add categories that really should be on the slate.

Oddly, I expected some uproar about eliminating Best Fan Writer, but didn't really get any (possibly because, for 30 years, the award was really for Best David Langford). However, Shaun Duke did suggest I split Podcast into Pro- and Fan- categories, which is certainly consistent with with overall logic of my proposed reforms. At the same time, it would increase the number of categories and, as such, work against the goal of streamlining the slate. I'm nevertheless open to this idea, and will consider it when I next revise my proposed slate. 

Two additional critiques worth noting. First, Cora Buhlert suggested that my hostility to Best Novelette is anachronistic, as digital publishing platforms have led to an uptick in novelette writing. That may be true (and perhaps even more true of novellas), but I still think a tripartite distinction within short fiction dilutes the categories (especially considering how many more short stories are published per year than novelettes or novellas), and don't think most readers really *think* in terms of novelettes either. So I'd still like to get rid of it. 

Finally, Renay of Lady Business expressed the concern that, by eliminating Best Fan Artist, I was erecting a new barrier to participation in SF/F fandom--particularly for female fans--and that the proper solution to a moribund Best Fan Artist award would be to generate interest rather than cut losses and move on.  I'm definitely sensitive to this point of view, which embodies why it's so much more difficult to cut categories than add new ones--not only because people will stand up and say "hold on, I like this category--who the hell are you to take it from me," but also because when you cut categories, you are reducing avenues of exposure and celebration for people other than yourself, including people who haven't, historically-speaking, been all that well represented at the Hugo table.

I still think these categories are problematic, in that they reward individuals rather than works or collections--which both goes against the defining principle of my reform slate and makes rendering judgment difficult (and a pain) for all but the deeply committed. But perhaps there's better way to reform them than the one I suggested? My initial thought is to have two categories: Best Book Cover and Best Work of Fan Art. This would uphold the principle of awarding works or collections rather than people, while retaining that avenue of exposure and celebration for fan artists. Plus this way voters could look at a slideshow of five book covers and five works of fan art and easily decide which one they prefer. Invigoration (potentially) achieved!

3. There's nothing wrong with the Hugos, so quit your griping/put up or shut up! 

Some criticisms are more meta, based either on the idea that the Hugos don't need saving or the idea that griping about the Hugos from the sanctity of a blog (while not actually attending the business meetings where changes are discussed) is like tilting at windmills. Valid opinions both, but I beg to differ--the sheer amount of discussion my post initiated on twitter demonstrates that a lot of people are thinking about how to make the Hugos better, and there is even serious talk about taking this to the next level, so all I can say is: we're working on it! 

4. Your suggestion on category X is wrong, therefore the whole reform idea is wrong.

Disagreement is fine and healthy. But I'd hope that readers would not only look at this proposed reform slate as a coherent idea (which, of course, it aspires to be), but also as a collection of individual ideas. I'd be pleased as punch if just one suggestion were implemented (*cough* semiprozine *cough*).


Thought Experiments

Okay, here goes...


"Radical Elegance" Slate (9 categories)
  • Best Novel: Awarded for a science fiction or fantasy story of forty thousand (40,000) words or more.
  • Best Short Fiction: Awarded for a science fiction or fantasy story of under forty thousand (40,000) words
  • Best Graphic Story: A science fiction or fantasy story told in graphic form, such as a comic book, graphic novel, or webcomic. 
  • Best Non-Fiction Work (Long Form): Awarded to a non-fiction book related to the field of science fiction, fantasy, or fandom of forty thousand (40,000) words or more, appearing for the first time during the previous calendar year or which has been substantially modified during the previous calendar year. 
  • Best Non-Fiction Work (Short Form): Awarded to a non-fiction essay, review or critical piece related to the  field of science fiction, fantasy, or fandom, of less than forty thousand (40,000) words, and appearing for the first time during the previous calendar year.
  • Best Periodical (Pro-Paying): This award is for any regularly published (4 issues more more within a given calender year) periodical that pays professional rates. Nominees may be published in print, electronically or both.   
  • Best Periodical (Non-Pro-Paying): This award is for any regularly published (4 issues more more within a given calender year) periodical that does not pay professional rates. Nominees may be published in print, electronically or both.
  • Best Non-Fiction Pod/Videocast: Awarded for any audio- or video-casting with at least four (4) episodes that had at least one (1) episode released in the previous calendar year. 
  • Best Book Cover: This award goes to the best original SF/F book cover (hardbound, paperback or digital) released in the calendar year.

Moderately Expanded Slate (18 categories)

  • Best Novel: Awarded for a science fiction or fantasy story of forty thousand (40,000) words or more.
  • Best Novella: Awarded for a science fiction or fantasy story of between ten thousand (10,000) and forty thousand (40,000) words.
  • Best Short Story: Awarded for science fiction or fantasy story of less than ten thousand (10,000) words.
  • Best Graphic Story: A science fiction or fantasy story told in graphic form, such as a comic book, graphic novel, or webcomic. 
  • Best Original Anthology/Collection: Awarded for the best collection of short science fiction and/or fantasy.
  • Best Dramatic Presentation (Scripted - Long Form): This Award can be given to any dramatized production that is scripted, including film, television, radio, live theater, or music. The work must last 90 minutes or longer (excluding commercials).
  • Best Dramatic Presentation (Scripted - Short Form): This Award can be given to any dramatized production in any medium that is scripted, including film, television, radio, live theater, or music. The work must be less than 90 minutes long (excluding commercials).
  • Best Dramatic Presentation (Interactive): This Award can be given to any dramatized production in ant medium that is interactive, for example video or computer games (or performance art!), of any length. 
  • Best Non-Fiction Work (Long Form): Awarded to a non-fiction book related to the field of science fiction, fantasy, or fandom of forty thousand (40,000) words or more, appearing for the first time during the previous calendar year or which has been substantially modified during the previous calendar year. 
  • Best Non-Fiction Work (Short Form): Awarded to a non-fiction essay, review or critical piece related to the  field of science fiction, fantasy, or fandom, of less than forty thousand (40,000) words, and appearing for the first time during the previous calendar year. 
  • Best Fiction Periodical (Pro-Paying): This award is for any regularly published (4 issues more more within a given calender year) short fiction market that pays professional rates, as determined by the SFWA (whether or not it has been certified by the SFWA as a qualifying professional market). Nominees may be published in print, electronically or both.  
  • Best Fiction Periodical (Non-Pro-Paying): This award is for any regularly published (4 issues more more within a given calender year) short fiction market that does not pay professional rates, as determined by the SFWA. Nominees may be published in print, electronically or both. 
  • Best Non-Fiction Periodical (Professional): This award is for any regularly published (4 issues more more within a given calender year) non-fiction periodical, either print or electronic, that pays its contributors and/or staff in other than copies of the publication.
  • Best Non-Fiction Periodical (Non-Professional): This award is for regularly published (4 issues more more within a given calender year) fanzine, either print or electronic, that does not pay its contributors and/or staff in other than copies of the publication.
  • Best Non-Fiction Professional Pod/Videocast: Awarded for any audio- or video-casting with at least four (4) episodes that had at least one (1) episode released in the previous calendar year, and whose hosts are compensated in more than token fashion. 
  • Best Fancast: Awarded for any audio- or video-casting with at least four (4) episodes that had at least one (1) episode released in the previous calendar year, and whose hosts receive token or no monetary compensation. 
  • Best Book Cover: This award goes to the best original SF/F book cover (hardbound, paperback or digital) released in the calendar year.
  • Best Work of Fan Art: Awarded for the best work of non-professionally published visual art released during the calendar year.

***

POSTED BY: The G--purveyor of nerdliness, genre fanatic and
'nerds of a
feather, flock together' founder/administrator
.


No comments:

Post a Comment