A fan named Jason wrote this e-mail to the official Hugo Awards website to voice his deep dissatisfaction with the Best Novel of 2003:
I recently bought a novel by an author I did not know based on the fact that he had won a Hugo award for his science fiction. The novel called Hominids had to be one of the worst books I have ever read, and I will never again purchase a book on the recommendation of the “Hugo Award.” You do yourself and the genre of science fiction a great disservice when you promote such work as legitimate and award worthy.
Please feel free to share my criticism with whomever you feel would benefit from it.
And so I shall. While I have no complaint about Hominids, I still haven’t forgiven the Hugo voters for choosing Bladerunner over E.T. as Best Dramatic Presentation of 1983, so I believe to that extent I feel Jason’s pain.
In my reply, I asked Jason to keep in mind that the Hugos are selected by a popular vote of members of the year’s World Science Fiction Convention. Every book generates its own bell-shaped curve of fans and haters. I rarely agree with all the Hugo winners myself, but I chalk it up to divergent tastes and that darned democracy thing at work again.
Fans’ tastes are highly divergent. I’ve seen blog entries declaring all kinds of Hugo winners unworthy of the award — including Zelazny’s “And Call Me Conrad” and even me, come to think of it.
P.S. to Jason: Feel free to join this year’s convention and become a voter. By all means, air your views about your favorite (and not so favorite) sf. And there’s nothing preventing you from Googling Robert J. Sawyer’s webpage and telling him what you think directly. Just don’t say I sent you.