A Proposal to Re-Name the Young Adult Book Award at Worldcon 76

By Chris M. Barkley

“When the mind is free, magic happens.”
— Young Adult author C.G. Rousing

“Harry Potter” blew the roof off of children’s literature. But that doesn’t mean the work is done — for YA authors, it just means more scope for the imagination.”
Huffington Post reporter Claire Fallon, June 2017

Reading is one of the great pleasures in life. For a time in our modern age, it is seems as though young grade and high school kids had abandoned reading books.

Then, in 1997, along came J.K. Rowling and her creation, the world of Harry Potter. And now, after twenty-one years, it’s hard to imagine what might have happened to entire generation of young readers if Bloomsbury and Scholastic Books hadn’t taken a chance on the saga of a young wizard and his friends and deadly enemies.

The Harry Potter novels, which continue to sell, provided a mighty tide that raised the fortunes of a great many writers; new authors such as Suzanne Collins, Garth Nix, Veronica Roth, Rick Riordan and Tamora Pierce, led story hungry children to the older works of seasoned professionals like Octavia Butler, Isaac Asimov, Anne McCaffrey, Madeline L’Engle, Ursula K. Le Guin and Robert A. Heinlein.

In 2006, The Science Fiction and Fantasy writers of America created the Andre Norton Award, which is given to the author of the best young adult or middle grade science fiction or fantasy work published in the United States in the preceding year.

Five years later, a serious effort was started to establish a Hugo Award for young adult books. The World Science Fiction Convention Business Meeting, which governs the WSFS Constitution that administers the Hugo Awards, several committees over several years, determined that the proposed award would better be served as a separate category, to be on par with the other non-Hugo category, the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

The amendment to add the Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book to the WSFS Constitution was first ratified last summer at the 75th World Science Fiction Convention in Helsinki, Finland by the members of the Business Meeting and must be ratified a second time at this year’s Worldcon in San Jose, California to begin it’s official trial run as a category.

This year’s Worldcon Convention Committee (headed by Kevin Roche) has graciously accepted to administer the Young Adult Book award in addition to the new Best Series and Campbell Awards.

The nomination period for the Hugos, Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer opened February 5.

We, the undersigned, wish to congratulate the various YA Committee for reaching a consensus with their diligent work in crafting the parameters of the YA Award for the World Science Fiction Convention. However, we also think that the name of this new award should have a name which not only should be universally recognizable, but have an equivalent weight to the name of John W. Campbell, Jr.

We, the undersigned, will respectfully submit a new name for the Young Adult Book Award at the Preliminary Session of the Worldcon 76 Business Meeting on August 17, 2018 as a strike though substitution for the name ‘Lodestar’, under the rules governing the WSFS Business Meeting.

We will also embargo the name until the start of the Preliminary Session.

There is very good reason why the name will not be revealed at this time and that explanation will also be given at that time.

While we also understand that while this motion may cause a great deal of consternation, we also feel that this would be an excellent opportunity to generate a great deal of interest about the Worldcon and bring MORE attention to this new award to potential nominators, readers of all ages, booksellers and the public at large.

The proposed name will forever be known and honored in perpetuity with the Hugo Awards, the John W. Campbell Award, and the World Science Fiction Convention.

Proposed by Worldcon 76 Attending Members:
Juli Marr
Robert J. Sawyer
Steven H. Silver
Chris M. Barkley

Update 03/07/2018: Removed Melinda Snodgrass and Juliette Wade as signers. Also removed Vincent Docherty, who said in a comment his name was included in error, he never was a signer. // Subsequently, Shawna McCarthy and Pablo Vasquez have asked to have their names removed.

152 thoughts on “A Proposal to Re-Name the Young Adult Book Award at Worldcon 76

  1. @Xtifr– I think Lodestar is a wonderful name for a Young Adult sff award.

    It’s not due to PTSD resulting from committee battles I wasn’t in fact involved in, and followed only from a distance.

    Everyone is of course entitled to your opinion, but no, I can’t agree with your opinion on this.

    And the longer this discussion goes on, the less willing I feel to entertain any attempts to change that name especially to honor some who, no matter how much I admire and value her work, I think is a poor fit for a YA award.

    And admonishment that people who don’t agree with you need to grow up tempts a rather less polite response than I’ve made so far.

  2. @Kevin Thanks again for pointing out the cross-reference error in the WSFS Consitution.

    You’re welcome. A fair amount of what I post here seems to rub people the wrong way. I’m glad a small bit is useful.

    While we’re at it . . . The same section that had the 3.10.2/3.11.2 mistake also makes reference to “Section 3.X”. From context, it appears to me that it should have read “Section 3.3.18”. If this also is a non-substantive error, maybe it too should be corrected.

    WRT to whether or not the YA is a Hugo or not, I’d consider your opinion as being authoritative, but I could also point out several other ways in which considering the YA to be a Hugo is more in line with how the Constitution reads than not. For example, the Con. says that the Worldcon Committee has 3 duties (Sec 2.1), and only one of them is administering awards, and it only lists Hugo Awards. If the YA (and the JWC) are Hugo awards, all is good. If they are not, then under what authority does the Worldcon Committee administer them? A similar line of thought applies to the WSFS Objectives in Sec 1.2, and to Sec 3.2.12. Sec. 3.1 says that Article 3 provides for the selection of the Hugo Awards, and Article 3 includes the JWC and YA awards — are they not therefore Hugos?
    I bring these issues up not to debate you — I’m sure you’ve got better things to do — but to point out that it might be prudent to go through the Constitution with an eye towards amending it to make clear the distinction between Hugos and not-a-Hugos, so these ambiguities go away. (Might the section on the Mark Protection Committee’s list of marks to protect be amended to include the JWC and YA awards and associated marks?)

  3. Ironically, the longer this debate goes on, the less satisfied I am with the name. Note that I’ve only posted twice in this thread (three times now), and both times I advocated voting for “Lodestar” at this year’s business meeting. And I still do. But we’re up to…how many pages now? It’s becoming increasingly clear that a large number of people are not happy with the name or the way it was chosen. I watched the business meeting last year, and you could see the way people’s teeth were on edge on both sides of the debate.

    Granted, the whole thing is bikeshedding at its finest, but it’s clear many people want it to be named to honor somebody. Because that’s a long-standing tradition for awards.

    I don’t mind people who honestly like the name. That’s fine, no skin off my nose. I think it’s appallingly mediocre, but I really don’t care what the award is called. What bothers me is the people who are demanding that everyone just accept it, and stop trying to change it. I don’t care if it’s changed, but the rules allow it to be changed, and there’s obviously a large contingent who want it to be changed. Those people are allowed their opinions, and allowed to put forth their proposals.

    Again, I’m not advocating anything. I’m outside-observing. This proposal was a serious mess, and the people behind it should be ashamed, but the people opposing it aren’t looking a lot better to me at present.

  4. @JJ

    That’s the second time this thread you’ve taken a fragment of one of my comments and given it undue weight in isolation. I think the rest of the two comments I made after your reply make it pretty clear that I fully expect Lodestar to be what gets picked, and that I’ll be basically fine with that because the name doesn’t matter.

    (“Although I suspect the reaction to this post has rather soured the chances of it being anything other than Lodestar.” or “The name just doesn’t matter that much, so the business meeting should just pick the one they like best. As it stands, that’s Lodestar. Which will be fine.” Either of those covers it.)

  5. Xtifr:

    You know every year when the Hugo’s are voted on, there are a large group that are dissatisfied. They wanted something else to win.

    Trouble is, they couldn’t agree on what.

    And yes, after the enormous transparent and democratic work the committee did on its report, people complaining about them should be ashamed. They might think something else should have won, that is fine, but there is no reason to drag people through the mud because they didn’t like what the majority voted for.

  6. Meredith: That’s the second time this thread you’ve taken a fragment of one of my comments and given it undue weight in isolation.

    I apologize. I did not think that was what I was doing.

    I’m mystified why people are trying to re-litigate something that was gone into, in great depth, over the last couple of years. I guess that was Barkley’s intention, to try to get people to re-litigate it. And it’s frustrating to watch as people who weren’t following along as it happened, and/or who haven’t read the 28-page document, attempt to cover the same ground again and again and again.

  7. Xtifr: It’s becoming increasingly clear that a large number of people are not happy with the name or the way it was chosen

    My perception is completely different. What I am seeing on Facebook and Twitter and a couple of SMOF venues is largely a bunch of people saying that we got a good solution, and who are upset about Barkley trying to stir people up into doing something that was rejected by the vast majority of the membership at the last 2 WSFS Business Meetings.

    What I think is going to happen at San Jose is when Barkley stands up to introduce his proposed amendment, is that there will be an overwhelming number of people saying OH HELL NO.

    Ultimately, I think that the drive to name the award after Le Guin is driven by a desire on the part of older fans to honor someone who is important to us, at the expense of remembering what this YA Award is supposed to be about — and it’s not about us.

    It seems like an incredibly ego-driven move to me. And I love Ursula K. Le Guin. Her works have personal meaning for me. I cried when I found out she died. But I think that the impulse to name whatever the first award is that comes along after her is just wrong. And I think that’s what this is.

    If we genuinely want to honor her, then we should add a new category for The Ursula K. Le Guin Award for Best Debut Novel by a Woman.

  8. @JJ

    Thank you.

    As to why people might want to change it now, that’s obvious – there’s a fairly limited window before the established reputation and record of the award becomes in itself a reason not to change the name, assuming we don’t all thoroughly muck up the voting record and want to reset it. Anyone who feels very strongly about the name should be raising it asap, as frustrating as it might be to anyone who doesn’t want to rehash it or just plain loves Lodestar. Last year would have been ideal, but of course there are circumstances specific to this particular suggestion that made that unlikely.

    I mean, aside from fandom’s general instincts to relitigate everything early and often, which is the bucket I suspect I and my fellow mildly-indifferent-to-Lodestar people are in.

  9. Meredith: aside from fandom’s general instincts to relitigate everything early and often

    Ah, Fandom. Can’t live with ’em, can’t leave ’em on the curb. 😉

  10. @Xtifr–

    I don’t mind people who honestly like the name. That’s fine, no skin off my nose. I think it’s appallingly mediocre, but I really don’t care what the award is called. What bothers me is the people who are demanding that everyone just accept it, and stop trying to change it. I don’t care if it’s changed, but the rules allow it to be changed, and there’s obviously a large contingent who want it to be changed. Those people are allowed their opinions, and allowed to put forth their proposals.

    You said some extremely rude, demeaning things about people who dare to say we like the name, so, you know, fuck your whining about the overwhelmingly negative reaction Chris Barkley’s manipulative, condescending, “you’re not allowed to know what way better than yours name we’ve chosen until real discussion of it is impossible,” proposal has gotten.

    Last I checked, the Nebula is not named after a person. NESFA’s Skylark award isn’t named after a person, and younger fans probably have no idea why it’s called that, or why it’s a large (and as Jane Yolen will delightfully explain, potentially dangerous) lens. Doesn’t stop recipients from being delighted to receive it. The Sidewise and the Lambda and a host of others aren’t named after people–while another host of other awards are named after people.

    As Hampus said:

    And yes, after the enormous transparent and democratic work the committee did on its report, people complaining about them should be ashamed. They might think something else should have won, that is fine, but there is no reason to drag people through the mud because they didn’t like what the majority voted for.

    Did you participate in the process at the time, Xtifr? Or are you just bitching about the result of a process you didn’t bother to participate in, and insulting the work, intelligence, and commitment of the people who did becaause you, in isolation, would have picked something else?

    And whatever merit there might have been to proposing a name change, despite failure to participate in the process before, Chris Barkley has tried to manipulate and stampede us into going along with his preferred name by preventing any real opportunity for discussion of it. He also seems to have misled his co-signers into believing that this wasn’t a proposal to change a name already chosen, but a proposal to name an as yet unnamed award. He’s lost at least half of them as they’ve discovered they were led onto something that’s not merely part of the ongoing discussion, but a highly provocative attempt at an end run around a decision already made.

    We really didn’t need yet another attempt by a few outliers to try to manipulate and bully fandom into doing what they want, and insulting the motives and intelligence of anyone who disagrees with that attempt.

  11. Here’s the thing. Lodestar doesn’t speak to me. Symbolic of something, sure, but I’m not entirely sure what, which always gives me that glitchy feeling.

    But. Gods damnit, I am a boring old fart. My child (not due to be born for another 20 days) is closer to Young Adult than I am. If the name really appealed to me then that would be a strong indication that it probably wasn’t the right name.

    Sure, I adore Diana Wynne Jones, and some memorial would be nice, but the award isn’t about my comfort zone.

  12. They’re a year late with this suggestion. And it’s quite likely that it would leave the award unnamed for another year.

    Like others have said, let Lodestar gain its own meaning.

    I wonder how many outside fandom know that Hugos are named after Gernsback. That it’s not just a nickname like Oscar and Emmy.

  13. Mukkamucc: Earthsea Trilogy would likely be classed as Middle Grade now, and my understanding is that MG books are eligible under the current Lodestar Award rules.

    The WSFS constitution says simply Young Adult, without variation. There’s no suggestion that MG is included.

    Now, I’ll grant that many people probably think of it as being included, since in fandom middle grade/older children’s books, both classic and contemporary, are constantly referred to as YA, and people move between speaking of children’s, young adult, young adult and children’s, young adult and middle grade, and young people’s fiction, without any sense that the subject has changed. (I can easily document this if needed.) It would probably be wrong to say that people are using ‘YA’ to mean simply young people’s fiction generally – they wouldn’t call The Gruffalo YA, for instance – but they are using it as shorthand for a wider field, in the same way that ‘SF’ is used for science fiction, fantasy and related works. Some of those who voted for this award were probably thinking of it as an award for young people’s fiction more generally. The committee to some extent encouraged this by listing Newbery Medal winners as examples of YA (the Newbery medal being a children’s book award).

    And one might say ‘words mean what they are used to mean: roll with it’, except that YA in the stricter sense, the definitely-for-teenagers-and-not-for-children stuff, has a large and devoted following, that when people refer to ‘the YA community’ that tends to be what they mean, and that fans of strict-sense YA might be upset by this award going to things outside their field.

    Ho, I can see a possible solution…. But it would create more problems than it solves.

  14. Bill on March 7, 2018 at 10:01 pm said:

    While we’re at it . . . The same section that had the 3.10.2/3.11.2 mistake also makes reference to “Section 3.X”. From context, it appears to me that it should have read “Section 3.3.18”.

    Arrgh! Yes. We’ll fix it. Since you’re clearly looking at things with fresh eyes, please feel free to go through the whole document and see if you can see any other such technical errors. You can send them to nitpick@wsfs.org.

    the Worldcon Committee has 3 duties (Sec 2.1), and only one of them is administering awards, and it only lists Hugo Awards. If the YA (and the JWC) are Hugo awards, all is good. If they are not, then under what authority does the Worldcon Committee administer them?

    The Constitution doesn’t prohibit the Worldcon from administering other awards, it only sets the minimum requirements. (I think this is where I was thinking that the JWC was optional.)

    it might be prudent to go through the Constitution with an eye towards amending it to make clear the distinction between Hugos and not-a-Hugos, so these ambiguities go away.

    Probably. But it’s not a high priority. I’ll mention it to the NPFSC and see if anyone wants to undertake the task. I don’t think I have the bandwidth this year. I am also wary of toothpaste-tubing, which is trying to fix things by squeezing them harder. And as a computer programmer in my Day Jobbe, I know how tempting it is to say “Let’s just write a new version from scratch and get rid of all of the bugs.”

    OTOH, I did author the complete rewrite of the Westercon Bylaws that has gone with only a minor number of amendments since we adopted it and the complete rewrite of the Worldcon Standing Rules after that that also has not been modified that often thereafter. But those were just about the only things I was doing at the time, so I could spend more effort on them.

    (Might the section on the Mark Protection Committee’s list of marks to protect be amended to include the JWC and YA awards and associated marks?)

    The JWC is not a WSFS service mark, because while WSFS administers the award, it doesn’t own it. The publisher of Analog does. Protecting any IP rights in that award is their responsibility.

    The YA Award doesn’t have a name to protect (yet). The MPC will consider IP protection once it has something to protect, and possibly not until the award is re-confirmed. Registering service marks is expensive and time-consuming. (Getting “Hugo Award” registered in the EU cost more than $10,000 and took a lot of hours of volunteer and paid legal time, for example.)

  15. Lis Carey on March 8, 2018 at 3:37 am said:

    You said some extremely rude, demeaning things about people who dare to say we like the name

    Really? I can’t find it. I said I thought the name sounded like a mediocre compromise solution, but I also made a point of saying I had nothing against those who do like it.

    The most demeaning thing I think I said was that those who act like they don’t understand why a lot of people might want to take advantage of this rare opportunity need to grow up. Which I apologize for. But it wasn’t aimed at people who like the name; it was aimed at those who seem to lack sympathy for others.

    Did you participate in the process at the time, Xtifr? Or are you just bitching about the result of a process you didn’t bother to participate in?

    D. None of the above. I’m not bitching about the name, which I would have supported if I’d been able to afford a trip to Finland. I’m not fond of it (to put it mildly), but I will vote yes for “Lodestar” if I get to San Jose (which is still up in the air). The award needs a name, and I’m not into bikeshedding.

    At the same time, though, renaming awards in honor of someone who has just died is not that unusual. The SFWA Grandmaster Award was renamed the Damon Knight Memorial Grandmaster Award after Knight died, for example. It’s not unreasonable to propose a name-change. Especially for an award as new as this.

    The Lodestar advocates still have my support, but they’re rapidly losing my sympathy. As badly as this proposal was handled (something that completely deserves to be criticized), the idea that we might rename the award for someone who has just died is not unreasonable.

    Even if Le Guin isn’t an ideal choice, someone even better might die in the next few years, and we should consider such proposals calmly and rationally instead of erupting in anger that anyone dares to question the almighty wisdom of some committee.

  16. I agree that it is not unreasonable to want to name an award after someone that has recently passed away. I would not be dissatisfied with a LeGuin Award.

    But the way it has been done is extremely unreasonable. Any proposal should be open for discussion a long time before it is made. To give people a chance to hear different opinions.

    Anger is a reasonable response.

  17. @Xtifr–

    Now you say,

    Really? I can’t find it. I said I thought the name sounded like a mediocre compromise solution, but I also made a point of saying I had nothing against those who do like it.

    The most demeaning thing I think I said was that those who act like they don’t understand why a lot of people might want to take advantage of this rare opportunity need to grow up. Which I apologize for. But it wasn’t aimed at people who like the name; it was aimed at those who seem to lack sympathy for others.

    But before you said (and by “before,” I mean, on the previous page of comments on this post),

    But the name just smacks of half-hearted compromise chosen after a lengthy and brutal battle by a deadlocked committee. Which is sort of like “chosen by committee”, but so much worse! And, of course, that’s what it is. And, of course, that’s why people are so touchy about suggestions of alternatives–they’ve been through the lengthy and brutal battle, and don’t want to repeat the experience. To those people, all I can say is, grow up! You know it was nobody’s first choice! Stop pretending it was a wonderful, perfect decision, when you know it was simply the least worst option you had left after all those bloody battles. And admit that people have perfectly good reasons for disliking it. In fact, I’m sure many of you committee members are secretly not that happy with it yourselves, even if you’d rather sit on a bed of rusty nails than admit it at this point.

    Telling people who don’t agree with you that they need ot “grow up,” or that they are “secretly not that happy with it yourselves, even ifyou’d rather sit on a bed of rusty nails than admit it” is neither polite nor respectful not likely to move anyone in the position you clearly think they should move.

    .

    So stop being surprised when people want to rename the award. It’s not a good name. It’s a half-assed compromise. An ok name at best. And the fact that you all have PTSD from the last sets of committee meetings is not actually a good reason for not honoring someone we want to honor. Because honoring someone we want to honor is always better than going with some bland, innocuous compromise.

    Telling people they’re only defending their work because they have PTSD is not polite, respectful, or likely to shift their opinions in your direction, either.

    Try admitting that people may actually disagree with you, and think the Lodestar name is actually a good one, one that moves them, even if you don’t.

    And also that people might actually believe the YA award isn’t a great way to honor Le Guin, for whom YA is only a small part of what she did, and that a more appropriate honor might be, for instance, an award for a first novel by a woman writer–one idea that’s already been tossed out, and one I really like, but not the only possible one.

    If you don’t like the name, that’s normal. De gustibus, and all that.

    Insisting that other people can’t possibly really like it, and must secretly agree with you that it’s a half-assed compromise, a mediocre at best name, and that only PTSD can explain people defending their work, is…let’s just say very strange.

  18. Pingback: Loose-leaf Links #57 | Earl Grey Editing

  19. Lis Carey: Ok, I can see why you were confused, and I have no one to blame but myself. I tried to distinguish between those who supported the name (who I have no complaints about), and those who are showing signs of PTSD–a subset, not the whole group. But I was definitely not very clear–my first draft was way too long, and I ruthlessly chopped it down, and inadvertently sacrificed clarity when doing so.

    So in addition to freely apologizing for the “grow up” crack, which was unfair, I also apologize for poor phrasing which, I can see now, does look like I’m criticizing all supporters of the name, and not just those who seem to me to be overreacting in anger at even mild criticisms of the choice. In one particular case, I had changed “some of these people” to just “people”, because it still seemed technically correct to me, and removed three words, but in retrospect, that was a horrible decision.

    Other cases are similar. My initial draft was full of exceptions and qualifications, and was nearly twice as long as what I finally posted. The final version, after a late-night session of hackish editing, was clearly muddled and frustrated, and poorly done. I was trying too hard to avoid “tl;dr”, and made a mess.

    Mea maxima culpa. I apologize without reservation for tarring innocent people with a broad brush. It is indeed only a subset of “Lodestone” supporters who seem to be reacting as if they had PTSD. And frankly, I’m even somewhat sympathetic to those, since it was clearly a huge fight–one I never wanted to be part of. I can understand the ones who are overreacting with extreme hostility. But the hostility is starting to wear down my sympathy a little. I hope you can at least understand that.

    I have no horse in this race. I’m just feeling depressed at all the anger on all sides.

  20. @Xtifr–

    Thank you for clarifying your intent. I can see how easy it can be to get carried away and say more than you mean to say.

    Now, if you, or anyone, could persuade Chris Barkley to stop patting himself on the back for his Noble Purpose, and cease the false claims of harassment of his ex-co-sponsors by those of us who did not instantly fall into line with his vague and manipulative announcement, that would quiet a lot of the anger and remove a lot of the provocation you are receiving from supporters of the Lodestar name.

    However, I see no real likelihood of anyone achieving that. Just, maybe, have a little more patience with people who are both being actively provoked, and told to shut the fuck up?

    It is…provoking.

  21. Even if Le Guin isn’t an ideal choice, someone even better might die in the next few years

    Uh…

  22. Even if Le Guin isn’t an ideal choice, someone even better might die in the next few years

    I have no idea why this phrasing cracked me up as much as it did.

    Melodramatically to YA-Writing friend who has a headcold: Don’t die! Don’t leave me. Dammit, woman, if you do this to me, I’ll petition to rename a YA award after you! The controversy will never end!

  23. Uh oh. This just in:

    Popular fan and YA author Gus M. Lodestar is in police custody at this hour on charges of running an interstate Porg sex trafficking ring. Details to follow.

  24. @Xtifr–

    Even if Le Guin isn’t an ideal choice, someone even better might die in the next few years, and we should consider such proposals calmly and rationally instead of erupting in anger that anyone dares to question the almighty wisdom of some committee.

    Um. What?

    I managed to miss this the first time, till Kurt and Muccamukk called it out.

    WTF?

    @Kip W–

    Popular fan and YA author Gus M. Lodestar is in police custody at this hour on charges of running an interstate Porg sex trafficking ring. Details to follow.

    Oh noes!

  25. @Kip W

    Popular fan and YA author Gus M. Lodestar is in police custody at this hour on charges of running an interstate Porg sex trafficking ring. Details to follow.

    🙂
    In all seriousness, something like that would be the only good reason not to go with Lodestar at this point.

  26. Better suited to represent YA.

    I mean, if, ghu forfend, JK Rowling were to pop off in the next year or two, I hope people wouldn’t go hysterical at the inevitable suggestion that we rename our brand new, not-yet-established award in her honor. We can try to have a little respect for the people who are mourning a fallen hero, even if their way of expressing their grief comes off as a bit ham-fisted.

    Because honestly, even though I’m still solidly supporting Lodestone or Lonestar or Homestar or Loadstump or whatever it is the committee picked for us, the main reason I’m depressed right now is that someone’s admittedly-hamfisted attempt to honor someone I love and admire has turned into an angry screechfest.

    Whatzizface may be a chump, but I think Le Guin at least deserves a polite and respectful no.

  27. Xtifr: Whatzizface may be a chump, but I think Le Guin at least deserves a polite and respectful no.

    So what reaction to this massive overreach on Barkley’s part would have been acceptable in your eyes?

    No one here has disrespected Le Guin. I’m grieving her, too, and I really don’t appreciate her being inappropriately used for someone’s ego-boosting hobbyhorse.

  28. It’s worth noting that the earliest reactions came without knowing Le Guin was the name in the frame, and IMO the later reactions aren’t about her either.

  29. The first post mentioned Le Guin. I think we can safely say that nobody with half a clue was surprised by the revelation. It was a pretty obvious choice.

    As for how to react? I don’t know, but I like to try to take the high road when I can remember to do so. Which isn’t as often as I’d like, I admit, but…

    ETA: and in this case, I’d like to take the high road for the sake of her fans, no matter what I might think of the guy himself. (Who I honestly know nothing about.)

  30. @Xtifr

    Your first comment in this thread only speculates that Le Guin would be a good choice. I don’t think it was as obvious then as it is in retrospect.

    More to the point, early reactions elsewhere also didn’t know the proposed name, e.g. Alex Acks/Wells came out against it and then commented that it better not be Heinlein, so they clearly weren’t reacting to Le Guin.

    I agree that it would be very bad if this ended up looking to the wider world that it was some sort of snub of Le Guin. So far, Barkley has managed to annoy: the people who worked on the original report and wanted the name; people in the YA community who see this as “WorldCon” treating them with disrespect; people who weren’t too bothered but like to see things done openly and fairly; people who directly supported him but don’t like how it was done; and potentially people who like Le Guin and may see this from the outside as a snub (probably by “WorldCon”)
    There are probably other ways to annoy that many different sets of people at once, but even so he’s managed quite a doozy, and to cap it all quite a lot of the people will focus their ire on wider targets who aren’t actually responsible.

  31. The only reason the award is not called Lodestar this year is WSFS rules and the lengthy, careful, and open process of choosing it.

    I’d have supported Le Guin for this if the award wasn’t already in place and the name already chosen. I’d love to see something else in her honor.

    If somewhere down the road someone proposes renaming the Lodestar after Rowling, I’d probably have about the same reaction Alex Acks had to the thought of Heinlein.

  32. The bit I really don’t understand is “Why now?”
    The deadline for submitting proposals to the 2017 WSFS Business Meeting is 3 August 2017. (from WSFS Business Meeting) If there is information that shouldn’t be public yet, just don’t say anything yet. Wait until it can be public before making a press release.
    I just can’t think of any purpose served by an announcement now.

    And <tongue firmly in cheek>Anyway, if the intent is to change the name to honour Le Guin, may I point out that it practically the same.
    Lodestar is Polaris. Polaris is part of Ursa Minor. And the diminutive of Ursa is Ursula. That’s clearly a lesser change. </tongue firmly in cheek>

  33. @Doire
    [also with tongue in cheek] Aha! A compromise: name the award Lodestar, give the winner some sort of star-shaped trophy which we refer to as an Ursula. Or vice versa.

  34. I’m curious about a part of this I don’t fully understand:

    At what point could this proposal have been made that wouldn’t have been (as Lis Carey puts it) “manipulative, condescending” and so on? Not the proposal itself, which some folks think is wrong no matter what, but the manner of the proposal, the withholding the name, and all that.

    I ask because I think this early unveiling is better than being blindsided later on. I’d rather be over-informed than surprised.

    Again, this is question about the manner of the proposal, not the content. I followed the discussions of the award and of its naming and had no strong opinions about it.

  35. @Chip Hitchcock

    Jones got very poor publication/distribution in the US until fairly late in her career.

    Yeah. In the early 1980s (when I was in HS), I saw a friend with a copy of “Dogsbody” and talked to her about it, but I didn’t read a lot of Jones until several years later.

  36. @John A Arkansawyer

    In my opinion, announce after the name could be revealed, but at least in time to be on the business meeting agenda (I don’t remember the deadline. At least 2 weeks prior?) If that was not possible, then not at all.

  37. Doire on March 9, 2018 at 5:37 am said:

    The bit I really don’t understand is “Why now?” The deadline for submitting proposals to the 2017 WSFS Business Meeting is 3 August 2017.

    Except that this is the deadline for submitting new proposals and has nothing to do with the proposed amendment, which is not a new proposal. It is a stated plan to amend a pending proposal (ratification of the name of the YA Award). That doesn’t require any notice at all. Are you suggesting that it would have been better to pop up on the day of the meeting and move the amendment with no warning and no notice? It would have been completely legal. Amendments to proposals on the day are proposed all of the time. WSFS doesn’t even put scope requirements on them (aside from an out-of-scope amendment to ratification triggering an additional year of ratification). It’s only been a handful of years since even new proposals had to be submitted two weeks in advance. The deadline used to be 18 hours before the Business Meeting. For most of the history of WSFS, you found out what was new business by showing up at the Preliminary Business Meeting.

  38. Ah, Kevin’s comment reminds me it’s not a new proposal – even though it would probably trigger an additional year for ratification. So I would say announce at the same time as we are hearing about new business, but only if you have permission to reveal the name. If not, then don’t try to make the amendment at all. Again, that’s my opinion.

  39. Kevin Standlee said

    the proposed amendment, which is not a new proposal. It is a stated plan to amend a pending proposal

    Oops, missed that point. But I still don’t see what this announcement was meant to achieve. We’re going to propose a change, but not tell you what the change actually is, so any discussion you might have is unevidenced speculation

    I don’t like the idea of springing things on people at the last moment, but in this case, like a surprise party, perhaps it should have kept quiet as long as possible. And you’d better be sure it’s going to be welcome.

    Laura I think that might work in the same way that google® is not a verb but everyone understands and uses it.

  40. @John A. Arkansawyer–

    At what point could this proposal have been made that wouldn’t have been (as Lis Carey puts it) “manipulative, condescending” and so on? Not the proposal itself, which some folks think is wrong no matter what, but the manner of the proposal, the withholding the name, and all that.

    There is no time at which making the proposal, withholding the name, telling us we will all recognize it as far better than the current name when revealed, but we can’t know what it is until the start of the Preliminary Session, is going to be a good idea.

    The point of announcing motions and proposals in advance is to be able to discuss them in depth. We can’t meaningfully discuss renaming the YA award without knowing what the name is.

    The only thing this does is annoy and frustrate people.

    Let’s suppose for a moment that everyone really was as eager to dump the Lodestar name as Chris apparently thinks we should be. Let’s also suppose he managed to frame his proposal in a way that didn’t immediately provoke people.

    What happens next?

    We spend the next five months discussing possible new names.

    Except, oops, Chris already has what he’s decided is the perfect name, still won’t tell us, and has apparently already approached the estate–maybe with a well-intended but potentially misleading description of what will happen at the Business Meeting.

    How is that good for anyone?

  41. @Lis Carey:

    The point of announcing motions and proposals in advance is to be able to discuss them in depth. We can’t meaningfully discuss renaming the YA award without knowing what the name is.

    Thank you. That goes right to the heart of it, doesn’t it? I hadn’t thought of it from that point of view. I was instead thinking about how much I hated surprises and how little I would have appreciated having this sprung at the last minute. When you put it this way, though, I get you.

  42. @Mark: Not my first post–the first post in the thread mentioned Le Guin.

    Yes, people mentioned other possibilities, but those were all extreme long-shots, since they had all been discussed and rejected already. Le Guin was the only plausible candidate with enough YA credentials whose status had recently changed in a way that might merit reconsideration.

    As for whatzizface’s motives, part of my personal strategy for “trying to take the high road when I can remember to do so, which isn’t as often as I’d like” is to remember the old maxim, “never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity.” No one is a villain in their own mind, and when you call them a villain, it tends to make them entrench and double-down on their nonsense. If you instead point out how stupid they’re acting, they are left with something resembling a gracious way out. It may sting a bit, but at least it’s there.

  43. @Xtifr–

    A good approach! Now, why aren’t you directingbthat toward Chris Barkley, who immediately claimed harassment from those who disagreed with his proposal as the reason he promptly lost five of his original nine co-sponsors.

    And yes, the Le Guin speculation appeared very early. As speculation, not at that point supported by anything. And since no, she isn’t an obvious choice for a YA award and such a focus would in fact be a distraction from the breadth and depth of her career, no, we didn’t have an obligation to a)reach that conclusion, or b)even if we did, to support it.

    Also, no one has attacked or disrespected Le Guin. Or said anything that could be reasonably interpreted that way.

  44. @Mark: Not my first post–the first post in the thread mentioned Le Guin.

    Yes – but that wasn’t what I was addressing.

  45. @Lis Carey: I’m not sure telling him: “don’t assume you’re evil, dude–assume you’re an idiot” would really help things. 😀

    And I don’t feel comfortable suggesting that he assume his opponents are merely idiots, since I don’t believe they’re evil, or idiots, or even wrong. Especially since I count myself among their number… 😉

  46. Doire: I don’t like the idea of springing things on people at the last moment, but in this case, like a surprise party, perhaps it should have kept quiet as long as possible. And you’d better be sure it’s going to be welcome.

    Well, exactly. Given that Barkley was deeply involved in the work toward the YA Award, he had to know that it would be highly contentious.

    I wouldn’t have appreciated having it sprung at the last minute at the Business Meeting, but as Lis Carey points out, there is absolutely nothing constructive achieved by 5 months of pointless speculation — and, in this case, of the name being attached to the discussion after the estate had very specifically requested that it not be.

Comments are closed.