New Draft of Best Saga Proposal

Editor’s Introduction: the fans behind the Best Saga Hugo category have collated all the discussion and feedback they received on the original draft and have rewritten the proposal. Jared Dashoff asked me to post the latest revision so File 770 readers can make more comments. As he explains below, that may lead to ideas that will go into a final draft.

By Jared Dashoff: Thanks for offer to post the revision. I have attached what we’ve got. You’ll note there are two submissions, one to add Best Saga and one to deal with multiple nominations wherein the same work appears in multiple categories in the same year. This would stop a novel in a series from appearing on the same final ballot as the series, and, if a YA or other segment award ever shows up, a work appearing in that category and the category it fits in by length.

Please note in the post that we are asking for feedback on this, most importantly constructive criticism. We are still trying to find the perfect word count that incorporates a series built on short fiction, but doesn’t get overwhelmed by long novels with extra works tacked on. We are also refining our discussion points to mirror the word count and the final wording of the proposal.

We have submitted an older version of this to Sasquan (in the time it took to get that up, we made enough changes, we thought you should have an updated version) and, based on what we hear back, we’ll likely revise again before the cutoff for New Business.

Short Title: Best Series (revised June 24, 2015)

Moved, to amend the WSFS Constitution to change the written fiction Hugo Award categories by creating a Best Series award and correcting related references to the existing Hugo Award categories by adding words as follows:

  1. Insert words in existing Section 3.2.4 as follows:

3.2.4 Works appearing in a series are eligible as individual works, but the series as a whole is not eligible, except under Section 3.3.X. However, a work appearing in a number of parts shall be eligible for the year of the final part.

  1. Insert the following section after existing Section 3.3.4:

3.3.X Best Series A work of science fiction or fantasy, presented as a single series with a unifying plot, characters, or setting, appearing in at least three (3) volumes consisting of a total of at least 240,000 words by the close of the previous calendar year, at least one of which was published in the previous calendar year.  If such a work has previously been a finalist, it shall be eligible only if at least two (2) additional volumes consisting of total of at least 240,000 words have been published since its last appearance on the final ballot by the end of the previous calendar year, and provided it has not won under 3.3.X before.

  1. Insert the following before existing Section 3.8.3:

3.8.X For nominations of works under Section 3.3.X, if a work is eligible as both an overarching series and a subset of that series, and if the work receives sufficient nominations, either as the overarching series or as a subset, or  through the sum of the nominations for both, to appear on the final ballot, the Worldcon Committee shall determine how the work shall appear, after consulting with the author of the work insofar as it is possible to do so under the provisions of Section 3.9.

Proposed by: Warren Buff, Jared Dashoff, William Lawhorn, Michael Lee, Pablo Vasquez

Discussion:The goal of this amendment is to provide Hugo categories more in line with today’s science fiction and fantasy publishing norms and to further create categories that compare like items. It accomplishes this by creating an award that recognizes works that appear in multi-volume series, a large and growing segment of the publishing sector and one unrecognized by the Hugos to date.  Furthermore, stories told in this format tend to consist mainly of books which are not ideal examples of novels, in part due to the presence of narrative arcs which remain unresolved between their covers.  While this narrative sweep is not to the taste of all readers, it nonetheless represents a stylistically distinct form of storytelling, and its exemplars deserve recognition.

The majority of original novels (somewhere around two thirds) in the genre being published today are part of larger series, if the new releases of Tor/Forge, Baen, Pyr, and DAW are any indication.  Yet for the past decade, the Best Novel category has been dominated by stand-alone works, with nine out of the eleven winners being such (and one of the two series novels is a first book in its series).  The distribution of Best Novel winners is badly out of step with the general shape of the market, even though the nominees run close to the market trend.  This could be a sign that while the Hugo nominators appreciate series work, the general voter pool prefers stand-alone novels when considering which should win Best Novel or that comparing stand-alone works to works in a series is difficult.  While series novels performed better in the past, the expansion of the voter pool has not been a kind era for them.

By setting the minimum for nomination at 240,000 words across multiple volumes, works are required to provide substantial material within the same saga to be nominated and substantial new material to be eligible for a second nomination. The number also reflects typical book contracts for newer SF authors, which often come in around 80,000 to 100,000 words.  Established authors, especially those working in high fantasy, sometimes deliver much longer works.

For reference, The Lord of the Rings was around 473,000 words.  Volumes in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time ranged between 226,000 and 393,000 words, which would have triggered new eligibility every other volume.While George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire has had volumes of over 400,000 words, and would have triggered fresh eligibility as many as three times in its five volumes to date on word count alone, the requirement to publish multiple volumes to gain fresh eligibility would restrict it to twice.  Among series which placed their third or later book onto Locus’s lists in 2013 and 2014, the majority had already crossed 300,000 words, while a few were close to the cut-off. The bulk of the series were in their third or fourth entry, while eight of the 31 were beyond their fifth.  The lowest total, around 150,000, came from Alan Garner’s Weirdstone sequence, consisting of two children’s novels from the 1960s and an adult novella.  The two middle-grade series to place a book on the list, Lois Lowry’s Giver and Catherynne Valente’s Fairyland series, came in below the threshold, while most of the young adult series came in above it.  Young adult series varied wildly, with trilogies ranging from about 230,000 words (Holly Black’s Curse Workers) to over 480,000 (Tamora Pierce’s Beka Cooper).  Several other series, most of which would tend to gain eligibility every two or three volumes, are documented at http://cesspit.net/drupal/node/1869/

The work need not be that of a single author, and collaborative efforts that hang together well enough for the voters and authors to consider them a single work are eligible. For reference, the Wild Cards Series has had numerous contributors over several decades, but each new novel or collection ties into all that has come before. The Ring of Fire Series has multiple intertwining stories that are linked by a common progressive storyline.

And, while the above discussion has focused on novel length works, the works need not be segmented into novel length volumes. Any work, presented in a series of multiple volumes, should be considered as eligible. For example, comics or graphic novels meeting the word count would qualify, assuming they are presented in a series of separate volumes. Novella or even Short Story length volumes summing to the word count would also be eligible.

Lastly, to lessen issues with the triggering work being part of both the overarching series and a subseries, as in the case of Discworld, for example, a clause has been added to give the Worldcon Committee explicit powers, that the sponsors and others believe the Committee already had by implicit tradition, to combine the nominations and place only the overarching series or the subseries on the final ballot, after discussion with the creator, when possible. The sponsors have also separately submitted a proposal entitled ‘Multiple Nominations’ that addresses the matter of a work being simultaneously eligible as part of a Series and in another category.

____________________________________________________________________________

Short Title: Multiple Nominations

Moved, to amend the WSFS Constitution to change the written fiction Hugo Award categories by creating eliminating the possibility of a work appearing on the final ballot in multiple categories by adding words as follows:

  1. Insert the following section after existing Section 3.2.8:

3.2.X: No work shall appear in more than one category on the final Award ballot.

  1. Insert the following section after existing Section 3.8.6:

3.8.Y  If a work is eligible in more than one category, and if the work receives sufficient nominations to appear in more than one category, the Worldcon Committee shall determine in which category the work shall appear, after consulting with the author of the work insofar as it is possible to do so under the provisions of Section 3.9.

Proposed by: Warren Buff, Jared Dashoff, William Lawhorn, Michael Lee, Pablo Vasquez

Discussion:The goal of this amendment is to ensure that no work appears on the final ballot in multiple categories. This means that a novel could not appear on the same ballot as a series of which it is a part, and provides for settling the placement of works receiving nominations in Best Related Work and other categories such as Fanzine or Fancast. Additionally, if a YA category were to be added, a novel could not appear in both the YA and Best Novel category. It would be the duty of the Worldcon Committee, via the Hugo Administrator and staff, in consultation with the author/creator, as possible, to determine in which the work would appear.

File 770 Meetup at Sasquan Being Planned

Greg Machlin is reaching out to everyone who might be interested in a File 770 Get-Together at the Worldcon. (Click and scroll down to see message.)

Hi all. I’ve officially emailed Sasquan Program to request a meetup room for Thursday 8/20 at 530 PM for the File 770 meetup; there is also a FB event for the meetup so I can track RSVPs, and for anyone who missed the discussion in the 1000+ comment threads. Here’s the Facebook event to RSVP to; it’s open to the public so ya don’t even have to friend me.

Here is the link to the Facebook event. Let him know if you’d like to be there.

Predestination’s Destiny

Should the Sasquan business meeting extend the Hugo eligibility of the Australian movie Predestination? The movie’s only screenings in 2014 were at two film festivals. A motion has been made to grant the one-year extension available under the WSFS Constitution.

Today a maker of the motion asked members of a Facebook group for opinions. I discovered I have one.

I don’t favor the proposal because Predestination had a well-publicized national film release in the US the week before the 2015 Hugo nominations opened. Films are only in theaters for a few weeks at most, therefore I don’t consider Predestination to have been prejudiced.

Looking to the US release seems relevant to me because 80% of Sasquan members are from the United States. If the national US release had been later than the opening of nominations, I would be more sympathetic to the motion.

Predestination‘s real problem is the SP3/RP slates, and why should this movie suffer less than all the other deserving work that was shoved off the ballot?

Full text of proposal:

B.2.2 Short Title: Hugo Eligibility Extension for Predestination

Moved, to extend for one year the eligibility of the movie Predestination, based on limited availability, as authorized by Section 3.4.3 of the WSFS Constitution.

Proposed by: Michael Kingsley, Mark Bernstein, Emily Stewart, and Aaron Vander Giessen

This motion extends eligibility for the Hugo Awards under Section 3.4.3; therefore, it requires a two-thirds vote.

Commentary: The Australian film Predestination has its global premiere at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas on March 8, 2014. The film then was part of the Melbourne International Film Festival in July, 2014. There were theatrical screenings in a limited number of large cities in the United States in January 2015, and Predestination was not released on DVD until February 10, 2015. Due to its limited release in 2014 and early 2015, very few members of Sasquan had the opportunity to view the film before the deadline for nominating the 2015 Hugo Awards. Predestination is a film adaptation of the classic Robert Heinlein short story, “All You Zombies,” which appeared in the March 1959 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and the film has been receiving several favorable reviews. It currently scores 84% with film critics on the Rotten Tomatoes aggregator website.

Wolfgang Jeschke (1936-2015)

Wolfgang Jeschke in 2008.

Wolfgang Jeschke in 2008.

Wolfgang Jeschke, one of Germany’s most acclaimed science fiction writers and a former Worldcon guest of honor, passed away June 10 at the age of 78.

Jeschke was one of the first members of SFCD (Science Fiction Club Deutschland), founded in 1955. He contributed stories to fanzines and semiprozines, and co-edited a fanzine of his own, Ad Astra, with Peter Noga.

He grew up wanting to be an aircraft designer and to work for NASA, but once out of high school his love of literature proved stronger than those earlier ambitions. He studied philosophy and German literature at a Munich university, then left school to take a job as an assistant editor with Kindlers Literaturelexikon, an encylopedia publisher.

When Kindler proved willing to open a new science fiction paperback line, Jeschke became involved. His work on “Science Fiction für Kenner” (“Science Fiction for Connoisseurs”) brought him to the attention of Germany’s leading sf publisher, Heyne Verlag. In 1973 they hired him as a consultant, and in 1979 made him their sole sf editor.

At Heyne Verlag he was allowed to publish unabridged translations of foreign novels, which up to that time was not the policy. That required marketing the books at a higher price, which was successful because he published important novels like John Brunner’s Stand On Zanzibar. Heyne Verlag eventually increased its schedule from 4 titles a month in 1973 to 12 a month in 1984. He worked at Heyne until his retirement in 2002.

One of his specialties was editing anthologies — ISFDB lists 71, SF Encyclopedia puts the number at over 100.

He wrote numerous short stories and penned five novels. Most of the novels won top German awards — in 2014 his Dschiheads won the Deutscher Science Fiction Preis and the Kurd Laßwitz Preis for the Best German-language Novel. Altogether he won the Kurd-Laßwitz-Preis 18 times in various categories.

He received the Harrison Award from World SF in 1987.

Jeschke was a Guest of Honor at ConFiction, the 1990 Worldcon in The Hague.

And last year the European Science Fiction Society inducted him to the society’s Hall of Fame.

Worldcon Chair’s NIU Endowment Speech

(L to R) Richard Chwedyk, Dave McCarty, Steven H Silver, Lynne Thomas, Jack McDevitt, Sarah Monette (a.k.a. Katherine Addison), Eric Flint, (Helen Montgomery behind Eric), Sandy Levy, Jody Lynn Nye (I'm not sure who is behind Sandy Levy). Photo by Michael Lee.

(L to R) Richard Chwedyk, Dave McCarty, Steven H Silver, Lynne Thomas, Jack McDevitt, Sarah Monette (a.k.a. Katherine Addison), Eric Flint, Sandy Levy, Jody Lynn Nye. Photo by Michael Lee.

Chicon 7 chair Dave McCarty has posted the talk he gave last night announcing the Peggy Rae Sapienza endowment. It says in part:

In the run-up to Chicon one of the projects we became aware of that was of special interest to us was the work being done by Lynne Thomas and Northern Illinois University to collect, preserve and make available to the public materials related to prior Chicons.  Preserving science fiction and fandom history and making it available to the world seemed a pretty valuable service to the community to us.  So, when it came time to decide how to close out our Chicon business, talking with NIU was a priority for us.

While those talks were going on, our community suffered a loss.  Peggy Rae Sapienza passed away this past March.  Peggy Rae was very nearly the embodiment of fandom for me.  It was my great honor to ask her to be Chicon’s fan guest of honor not once, but twice. [The first was for Chicago’s losing 2008 bid.]  She was deeply connected to all things Worldcon, and deeply connected to the Nebulas as well, helping to run many events for each.  She chaired the 1998 Worldcon in Baltimore and assisted greatly with the 2007 Worldcon in Japan.  She was co-chair of the Nebula weekend in 2010 and then chaired again in 2011 and 2012.  She was grounded and practical and simultaneously a wild eyed dreamer.  The combination was remarkable.

Sasquan Still Gaining Members

Sasquan, the 2015 Worldcon, has gained another 316 members since May 22.

Nearly 60% of the newcomers bought supporting memberships, however, for a change a substantial amount of the growth also was from people buying memberships to attend the con.

As of June 4, the con had a total of 9,316 members, including 3,800 attending and 5,140 supporting members.

A $40 supporting membership is the minimum requirement to become eligible as a voter in 2017 site selection or to vote on the winners of the Hugo Awards.

Sasquan has sold 3,375 supporting memberships since January 31.

Here is how the new totals compare with the figures on May 22:

Sasquan Total Members
5/22/2015 9,000
6/4/2015 9,316
Increase    316

 

Adult Attending Members
5/22/2015 3,688
6/4/2015 3,800
Increase     112

 

Supporting Members
5/22/2015 4,952
6/4/2015 5,140
Increase    188

Buy Fred Pohl’s Worldcon GoH Acceptance Letter

A little slice of history up for auction at eBay is Fred Pohl’s letter accepting the LA bidders’ invitation to be 1972 Worldcon guest of honor if they won. (As they did. L.A.Con was the first Worldcon I ever attended.)

Writing to co-chairs Chuck Crayne and Bruce Pelz in 1969, Pohl also made a request: please shorten the speeches!

There is one thing, though. It’s not a condition, because I don’t want to try to tell you how to run the con, but it’s a heartfelt request. Having sat through, at recent cons, funny remarks by a toastmaster, protracted patter with the awarding of the Hugos, four or five brief (at least, they were supposed to be brief) announcements and other awards, a fan GOH speech and a pro GOH speech, I ask that you do something about making it shorter. Human flesh can stand just so much!

Don’t think Pohl was merely echoing the common complaint about the length of Hugos we hear nowadays, where people stroke out if the ceremonies last over a hundred minutes.

Pohl was writing less than a year after BayCon, the 1968 Worldcon, where fans had endured dinner and speeches in 95-degree heat, in an unventilated ballroom without air conditioning, for five hours and fifteen minutes before the first Hugo was even presented.

Mike Resnick recalled that night in a piece for File 770 #100:

[At 8:00 p.m.] Phil Farmer got up to give his speech…. [When] he paused for a drink of water more than 2 hours into it, we all gave him a standing ovation in hope it would convince him he was through. It didn’t. He finished after 10:30. Time for the Hugos, right? Wrong. Randy Garrett gets up, takes the microphone away from Toastmaster Bob Silverberg, and sings about 50 verses of ‘Three Brave Hearts and Three Bold Lions.’ Finally, approaching 11:15, Silverberg gets up to hand out the Hugos.

Pohl wanted to avoid any repetition of a nightmare that was still fresh in everyone’s mind.

How long did the 1972 banquet and speeches run? I don’t remember, I only know it was hours shorter than at BayCon.

L.A.Con banquet. Milt Stevens, Fred Patten, Carol Pohl, Frederik Pohl, Dian Crayne.  From the collection of Len & June Moffatt.

L.A.Con banquet. Milt Stevens, Fred Patten, Carol Pohl, Frederik Pohl, Dian Crayne. From the collection of Len & June Moffatt.

Yes In Pictures

Kirk SpockIreland’s yes voters carried a referendum about whether same sex marriage should be legally recognized by nearly 2-to-1 on May 23.

The Dublin in 2019 Worldcon bid issued a statement supporting the result:

This is a huge step forwards in recognising that everyone should have the right to love, and marry, the partner of their choice, and it is particularly important that this has been signified via the people of Ireland….

We’re very proud of the many Irish members of Dublin 2019 who supported the ‘Yes’ vote, and went out to take part in the referendum.

A fannish manifestation of the Yes campaign were James Brophy’s comics-inspired icons for James Shields’ Mammies and Daddies Matter Facebook page. (Shields was Shamrokon 2014 co-chair and is a past GUFF winner.)

While proponents of a No vote ran ads with imagery of traditional heterosexual couples and their children (see one example here), Brophy illustrated many different couples and groupings. Brophy says:

They were intended as a parody of the no campaign logo. Showing that it’s not just mums and dads that make up families, sometimes it’s two dads sometimes its two mums. Then I added in some super hero people and they got slowly stranger and stranger as the month wound on.

I’ve had requests to make t shirts by people who didnt know the origin of the images and just thought they would be lovely to have at LGBTQ events.

Kirk Spock heartAlien and DalekSuper familyAnother Super familyHarley Quinn and Green girl

[Thanks to Esther MacCallum-Stewart for the story.]

Sasquan Hits 9000 Members

Sasquan reached the 9,000 membership mark going into Memorial Day Weekend.

As of May 22 the 2015 Worldcon had 3,688 attending and 4,952 supporting members.

A $40 supporting membership is the minimum requirement to become eligible as a voter in 2017 site selection or to vote on the winners of the Hugo Awards.

Sasquan has sold 3,187 supporting memberships since January 31.

Here is how the new totals compare with the figures on May 6:

Sasquan Total Members
5/6/2015 8,510
5/22/2015 9,000
Increase    490

 

Adult Attending Members
5/6/2015 3,590
5/22/2015 3,688
Increase     98

 

Supporting Members
5/6/2015 4,581
5/22/2015 4,952
Increase    371