One of many ideas advanced in the recent discussion of Hugo Award voting reform is a rule that would erase from the Long List any Hugo nominee who finished behind No Award in the final tally.
I’m not in favor of that suggestion, and I don’t see much evidence that it’s being seriously considered. It’s directed at the immediate past, as a kind of payback for being on a Puppy slate.
My foremost argument is against the very idea of erasing history – let the nominations stand, to remind us why we’re looking for effective reforms.
My second argument is there will be undeserved consequences that haven’t really been considered. To illustrate my point I have prepared the following thought experiment: What if it had always been the rule to strike off nominees who finish behind No Award; Who would have been erased?
It’s not only movies. True, prior to 2015, No Award “won” on only five occasions, four of those times in the Best Dramatic Presentation category. The losing movies and recordings were corporate products and rarely had any personal connection to fandom, no feelings to hurt. (Though fans of the authors of the adapted books, like Carrie and Logan’s Run, might raise a cry in their behalf.)
No Award also came out on top of the voting for Best New Author of 1958 – leading Brian W. Aldiss, Paul Ash (aka: Pauline Ashwell), Rosel George Brown, Louis Charbonneau, and Kit Reed.
But there have been many occasions when No Award didn’t “win” the category but still finished ahead of one or more nominees. They are not nominees I would want to see erased, nor their future counterparts.
1978 Best Fan Writer
- Charles N. Brown, Don D’Ammassa, Don C. Thompson
1979 Best Fanzine
- Janus, ed. by Janice Bogstad and Jeanne Gomoll, Mota ed. by Terry Hughes, Twll-Ddu ed. by David Langford
1979 Best Fan Writer
- Leroy Kettle, Dave Langford, D. West
1980 Best Dramatic Presentation
- The Black Hole
1982 Best Fan Writer
- Arthur D. Hlavaty
1985 Best Novelette
- “The Lucky Strike” by Kim Stanley Robinson
1985 Best Semiprozine
- Whispers ed. by Stuart David Schiff, Fantasy Review ed. by Robert Collins
1985 Best Fanzine
- Mythologies ed. by Don D’Ammassa, Holier Than Thou ed. by Marty Cantor and Robbie Cantor
1985 Best Fan Writer
- Arthur D. Hlavaty
1985 Best Fan Artist
- Steve Fox
1986 Best Fanzine
- Anvil ed. by Charlotte Proctor, Universal Translator ed. by Susan Bridges, Holier Than Thou ed. by Marty Cantor and Robbie Cantor, Greater Columbia Fantasy Costumers Guild Newsletter ed. by Bobby Gear
1987 Best Novel
- Black Genesis by L. Ron Hubbard
1987 Best Fanzine
- Lan’s Lantern ed. by George “Lan” Laskowski, Texas SF Enquirer ed. by Pat Mueller, Trap Door ed. by Robert Lichtman
1987 Best Fan Writer
- D. West, Arthur D. Hlavaty
1989 Best Fan Writer
- Guy H. Lillian III
1992 Best Fan Writer
- Andrew P. Hooper
2014 Best Novelette
- “Opera Vita Aeterna” by Vox Day
In closing I want to point out Steve Davidson discussed the idea of conducting an additional vote on whether to exclude finalists from the Long List, so automatic erasure isn’t the only option that’s been suggested. In any case, I go back to my primary argument — we should keep our history, the good and the bad: our scars remind us what we fought for.