Castalia Blog Posts Excluded from Hugo Packet

Daniel Enness announced he has been informed by MidAmeriCon II that “Safe Space as Rape Room,” his Hugo-nominated series of posts on the Castalia House Blog, will not be part of the Hugo Voter Packet:

Worldcon Members who are looking forward to the forthcoming Hugo Voter Packet – which traditionally contains as many of the works nominated for a Hugo Award as possible so that all voters can review the nominees in a unified set of documents – will notice a special warning from MidAmeriCon II in this year’s edition of the Packet:

As the World Science Fiction Convention, MidAmeriCon II has members from 35 countries. Safe Space as Rape Room quotes extensively from a written work containing explicit descriptions of children engaged in sexual activities. This material may be illegal in some home countries of  members. MidAmeriCon II does not wish to put any member at risk of inadvertently violating the law in their country of residence by downloading it in the packet without intent. As such, under legal advice, we are not  hosting or distributing this material directly. However, Safe Space as Rape Room is freely available on the Internet and can be found by anyone at….

The series of posts is nominated in the Best Related Works category.

321 thoughts on “Castalia Blog Posts Excluded from Hugo Packet

  1. The price of a supporting membership continues to be irrelevant to the packet existing, so far as I’m aware. Derail?

  2. Also please note that, due to the dynamics of printing publications for the convention, you are not doing any kind of dedicated print run solely for the attending members.

    The costs associated with sending the souvenir book would have been shipping, at bulk rate, essentially an overstock: extras of the book that were not either picked up at the convention by attending members or copies shipped to those who had paid for attending memberships but who missed the convention.

    This BS about the book publication is just that.

    I also suspect that either you have not been in any responsible position in re publications at a convention or you are arguing from a position of bad faith.

    My personal pie-in-the-sky thought would be that publishers should include at least excerpts of works, and pay a larger-than-nominal sum as royalty to the writers involved, funded from the publisher’s advertising budget. Whereas I am glad to get the work in the nominations packet to peruse, I am uncomfortable about what is, essentially, “working for the exposure.”

    Because of my own budget crunches I cannot buy copies of even a big fraction of what is published each year, and therefore am missing reading/seeing huge swatches of what is included in the nominations list (which was one of my prime bits of rage-induced ranting last year: that the absolute dreck included from the SP/RP slates prevented works of worth to even make it to what is my primary to-be-read list in these latter years).

    And dropping the price of attending memberships by the equivalent of not even one hardcover, and 1.25-worth of paperback is not going to alleviate the problem for those of us who are not “flush” to be able to afford to buy those books.

  3. I would like to point out that, prior to this past year, I would have been an enthusiastic supporter of dropping the cost of the non-attending membership, if feasible.

    I will leave as an exercise to the student the expression of the reasoning behind that proposition.

  4. Meredith –

    I know people have very little wish to be kind to him, but perhaps it might be time to lay off a bit for awhile. Plenty of things to make fun of that aren’t Brian Z.

    “But there’s still candy!”

  5. This question is meant in all sincerity. I was a supporting member for Sasquan in 2015, the first time I had ever been a Worldcon member. I selected electronic publications at registration rather than paper. Is there a souvenir book I am supposed to receive, and if so, in paper or in PDF?

  6. @Brian Z Note that it likely won’t be a particularly democratic decision. The minimum fee is $40 through 2018, and the Helsinki committee, together with the 2019 bid committees (who are required to get some not insignificant paperwork done by February) have the option of agreeing to lower it for 2019.

    Undemocratic is in the eyes of the beholder. Maximum prices are set by a large group. A smaller group may drop the price but may not increase it. How is this undemocratic?

    Does Worldcon want to encourage public interest in supporting Worldcon and the Hugos? Why wouldn’t the supporting memberships add money to Support Worldcon? If Worldcon wants to do outreach it would surely be to bring more support for Worldcon. Being able to nominate and vote on the Hugos is an incentive to join as a supporting member but it shouldn’t be one’s only reason.

    Worldcon is not just about the Hugos. You are trying to pull in too many things in trying to do away with voter packets and decrease supporting memberships without understanding why either exist or what the cost of either is.

    Voter packets are a service provided by some publishers and other finalists put together as approved by Worldcon Concom not necessarily the Hugo admins. They’ve never included all finalists work. They help many supporting members get their hands on works which might otherwise be unavailable in the timeframe based on many factors others have explained.

    The souvenir book is going through changes as more non-attending members need it shipped to them. The cost is both time and financial. As with so many things it’s taken a while for reality to catch up. This doesn’t mean all costs related to supporting memberships greatly decreases so much as cost hopefully is no longer in the negative.

    I suggest trying a more nuanced view on things. Also better understanding how processes work and how things have been going wrong or causing problems might improve your arguments.

  7. The Advance Supporting Membership (Voting) fee has a number of functions.

    1. It’s the lowest possible price for a Supporting membership, available only to those who vote on Site Selection.
    2. It sets a maximum price for an Attending membership for the first 90 days after the election: anyone who votes can convert from Supporting to Attending for not more than 4x the Advance Supporting Membership fee.
    3. It sets a maximum price for a Supporting membership: Not more than 125% of the Advance Supporting Membership fee until 90 days prior to the Worldcon, at which time there is no limit. (Also, a Worldcon could ask permission from a Worldcon Business Meeting to raise their Supporting membership price beyond the 125% cap, but to my knowledge this has never happened.)

    So the ASM/Voting Fee is something that cannot be taken lightly. Worldcon bids consider the amount they want to charge based not only upon not wanting to lose money on their Supporting memberships, but also on how much they can initially charge for Attending memberships.

    Joshua K. on May 31, 2016 at 10:51 am said:

    This question is meant in all sincerity. I was a supporting member for Sasquan in 2015, the first time I had ever been a Worldcon member. I selected electronic publications at registration rather than paper. Is there a souvenir book I am supposed to receive, and if so, in paper or in PDF?

    Yes, there is. Contact Sasquan if you have not received your publications.

  8. @Meredith: One or two authors were less than thrilled with Orbit’s decision, but anyway, yeah, I agree with you. In fact, not just “no strong evidence that a widely available work would suffer a disadvantage,” but as you cited previously, we have proof it doesn’t hurt a bit:

    I think that an excerpted work winning the award weakens the argument that lack of inclusion (or asterisked inclusion) is a disadvantage.

    And we’ve seen no proof of a disadvantage, though it would tough to prove that (did I dislike it or did I just not get a sample? how can you tell?), but since an excerpted work won, IMHO it blows the argument of disadvantage out of the water, not just weakens it. 😉

    Side Note: Wow, so much troll food for Brian Z; he has a large appetite. 😉

  9. @Meredith: “The price of a supporting membership continues to be irrelevant to the packet existing, so far as I’m aware. Derail?”

    I meant to say: Yes, 1,000 times yes. It wasn’t started and hasn’t continued because of the existence of supporting members, how much they pay, or whether they have libraries or can afford books or anything. So, so irrelevant.

  10. I have yet to see the supposed cons of the packet laid out. It’s just so nice to have as much stuff as possible right there in one place to double-check, for when I can’t remember which story was the one that I really loved and which was the one I was meh about. So: convenience; access; saving money for possibly-strapped voters. Explain, in one sentence, the downside.

  11. @Kendall

    Well, you could argue (as Bill did) that an excerpted work is not quite the same as an entirely absent work, which is why I said it weakened the argument rather than refuted it, but I’m having a hard time finding a novel from the last seven years ish that wasn’t included in any form. I think Anathem, possibly? But since I have yet to get past the beginning of Anathem I’m also the last person who could argue that it coulda shoulda woulda won without the packet. 🙂 We need Ultragotha for that!

    (It came third, by the way, although it was pretty close between that and The Graveyard Book for first place.) (Oh, and Scalzi’s book came last despite him being the Actual Creator Of The Packet, so make of that what you will.)

    But wait! Last minute research found this post on John Scalzi’s blog and item 4 is relevant. A novel that was made available by the publisher but not available in the packet did in fact win the Best Novel Hugo. So there you go.

  12. Drat, missed the edit window. Pretend this is an ETA!

    Caveat to previous comment: The novel that was not in the packet and also won was, I think, from the last year that Scalzi was distributing the packet himself rather than the relevant Worldcon. It is possible that the packet would be less influential… But that’s speculation. I’d need numbers I do not have access to to be certain one way or the other. (Hey, does anyone have the relative packet uptake numbers versus number of voters for 2008 and 2009..?)

  13. “Explain, in one sentence, the downside [of Hugo nominee packets].”

    Fewer people will be able to review the sweeping from the kennels?

  14. Kevin Standlee said:

    Actually, the process of creating the Hugo Voter Packet is not necessarily tied to being a Hugo Award Administrator. That is, the Worldcon committee could easily assign the job to other people not on the Hugo Award Administration Subcommittee.

    This is true this year, also. The Hugo Packet Coordinator is not a Hugo Administrator and also not even on the Hugo Subcommittee.

    As of April 1, there were five MidAmeriCon II members from China on the list.

    Meredith –

    Well, you could argue (as Bill did) that an excerpted work is not quite the same as an entirely absent work, which is why I said it weakened the argument rather than refuted it, but I’m having a hard time finding a novel from the last seven years ish that wasn’t included in any form. I think Anathem, possibly? But since I have yet to get past the beginning of Anathem I’m also the last person who could argue that it coulda shoulda woulda won without the packet. ? We need Ultragotha for that!

    I don’t remember if Anathem was included in the 2009 packet or not. It was my (and, judging from his acceptance speech, also Neil Gaiman’s) first choice, but I wasn’t surprised at all that The Graveyard Book won. That was a particularly strong year. I’d have been quite happy if Little Brother won as well. Anathem came in third. Anathem probably deserved that Third place (much as it pains me to type that) given that a lot of people either adored it or hated its guts. It came in second on the first round of voting, but after votes were distributed it ended up third.

    Yes, I adore Anathem—every single made-up word of it. If you haven’t read it, do. It’s unlike any other Neal Stephenson book. I haven’t been able to read any of his other books, though I’m about to start Seveneves soon.

  15. As far as I can tell Anathem was not in the packet in 2009, and lost by 120 votes. Every year since then has at least all the novels represented, either in full or excerpted. In 2008, The Yiddish Policeman’s Union won the Hugo despite not being in the packet – and Halting State came third despite only being in USA packets.

    @ULTRAGOTHA

    I go back to it every now and then to have another go but the density and the length makes it pretty hard to time with a reasonable string of Good Days, and it isn’t easy to pick up after leaving it for a month. I’ll manage it eventually! (Maybe.)

  16. @Brian Z., I have nearly 20 years of training and practice in various forms of listening respectfully and with an open mind to all potential stakeholders in a variety of organizations and situations. I am a huge fan of the different ways in which people may disagree and think those disagreeing bring valuable insights into any process. I am generally suspicious, in fact, of any agreement reached too readily, because I’ve found that has meant that at least one person who should be heard from has not been and they need to be found and encouraged.

    That’s all preface to explain that I don’t say this lightly: You appear to be thoughtful and clever for some value of those two attributes, but not once – not even half of once – have you made any sort of argument that is worth listening to. You presume to speak for stakeholders in whose ranks you appear not to have any actual membership in (and it shows in the lack of merit in pretty much everything you write), you argue vehemently against pretty much everything without being able to articulate a useful, personal viewpoint about why you’re in opposition (no, actually, “think of the X” is not a useful or personal viewpoint) and you shift goalposts so often I’ve come to believe yours are on pontoons.

    Do you understand, even a little, that constructing arguments speaking for the imagined concerns of people in a group that you do not belong to and have no actual stake in is, at best, staggeringly rude?

    ***
    Unrelated to the above (although it might have dialed up my ambient crankiness to 11), I’m about a quarter of the way through Seveneves. I’m pretty sure only Stephenson could make gur raq bs gur jbeyq nf jr xabj vg dull. A question for those who’ve read it: Do the infodumps have any actual plot relevance or forward the story in any way? I’m interested enough in the story to want to read to the end, but I’m out of patience with the mind numbing discursions.

  17. @Ultragotha Yes, I adore Anathem—every single made-up word of it. If you haven’t read it, do. It’s unlike any other Neal Stephenson book. I haven’t been able to read any of his other books, though I’m about to start Seveneves soon.

    I agree–SNOW CRASH and ANATHEM are my two favorite Stephensons: I did enjoy SEVENVES and THE DIAMOND AGE as well, though they suffered a bit more from infodumps.

  18. @Cheryl S.

    A question for those who’ve read it: Do the infodumps have any actual plot relevance or forward the story in any way? I’m interested enough in the story to want to read to the end, but I’m out of patience with the mind numbing discursions.

    No, they don’t. It’s worse in the last third. There the infodumps are the main point, and the plot, such as it is, is only there to take you from one infodump to the next one. Stephenson has come close to admitting this in interviews.

  19. @Cheryl S: *applauds* your spot-on analysis of the flaws in the vast majority of Brian Z’s posts (although I whited his stuff out months ago, I still see them on my android phone, and the busy/hectic schedule I had through so much of the spring semester meant I was mostly reading File770 on my phone during lunch since when I was on my main computer I was frantically trying to catch up with grading or scholarship). He does fall into “think of the X” all the time.

    Moreover, as others have pointed out, he seems unable to listen/read opposing arguments (his ongoing claims about what others have said in often incredibly insulting paraphrases that are completely off-base) were one reason I blocked his stuff.

    I will be interested to see what, if any, answer he makes to your question–especially since (from what I’ve seen on the cell phone), the others he speaks about are often groups who are marginalized in Anglophone online culture and fandom, and that goes beyond rude to appropriation (which can be done politely, and is still a major problem).

    Re: SEVENEVES: perhaps because I was on summer vacation and at my mother’s, I did not find the info dumps that major a problem. I have a HIGH tolerance for infodumps, though, and I can read superfast [one of my superpowers in fact]. The major reason I stopped reading David Weber’s Honor Harrington series wasn’t just the incredibly detailed weapons porn info dumps on military specs and numbers killed and maimed, but the ridiculous political flip-flops. I gather from reading others comments that the scientific quality of SEVENEVES’ infodumps is a problem…..

  20. About Seveneves – the part that broke me was near the end, when we find out that Cvatref unir ab cebgehqvat travgnyvn, ohg Cvatre jbzra unir oernfgf.
    That makes no sense, and it also makes it two years in a row that I have to complain about poor authorial treatment of oernfgf in Hugo nominees.

  21. Meredith, I really appreciate your work in clarifying which links are being referred to, stomping out accusations of lying that are not *quite* justified, and pointing out derails. This discussion has been so much more rewarding to read because of your efforts.

  22. In 2014:
    – The Related Work winner was the only item in that category that was not included in the packet. It also wasn’t linked to.
    – The two highest placed Graphic Story nominees (including the winner) were also the only two Graphic Story nominees that were not included in the packet. One of the Graphic Story nominees (although not the winner) does not appear to have been available for free online.
    – Toni Weisskopf submitted nothing to the packet and came fourth in Editor Long.
    – Fiona Staples submitted nothing to the packet and came fifth (out of six) in Professional Artist.
    – Mark Oshiro submitted nothing to the packet and came fifth (out of five) in Fan Writer.
    – Mandie Manzano and Spring Schoenhuth submitted nothing to the packet and came third and fourth.

    In 2013:
    – The eventual winner of Related Work was the only nominee that wasn’t represented in the packet.
    – And that’s where I gave up because representative graphics like LoneStarCon and ChiCon used are very pretty but also make doing this painfully slow for most categories and almost impossible for the rest.

    Conclusion: Not being included in the packet or only having an excerpt in the packet does not appear to be the kiss of death.

  23. ULTRAGOTHA: Yes, I adore Anathem—every single made-up word of it. If you haven’t read it, do.

    Me, too. That one blew me away. I hope that you won’t be as disappointed by Seveneves as I was.

    Cheryl S, my perception is that much of the Seveneves infodumping was a result of the author being overly enamored with the backstory frame he’d constructed, and an insistence on showing everyone else just how clever it was, too.

    Except that there are some huge problems with the biological, ecological, and psychological backstories he’s constructed, which to my mind, completely override the Willing Suspension of Disbelief (and I’m an incredibly generous reader when it comes to WSoD).

  24. Also, I think that Seveneves should have been split into 2 books, with the bridging part expunged.

    It reminds me of the “… and then a miracle occurs…” Far Side cartoon:
    “… and then, after 5,000 years have passed…”

  25. As best I can tell, every accusation of lying ever aimed at BrianZ is justified.

    Lies of omission are still lies, after all.

  26. @Kurt Busiek: The candy is a lie?

    @Meredith: Although not downloadable, I count the The Yiddish Policeman’s Union as “in the packet” since there was a way to get it in print for free; BTW it still boggles my mind, years later, that they offered that. I don’t recall, though – probably it was open only to U.S. residents? Anyway, I’m just nit-picking; I firmly believe something is better than nothing (I’m fine with excerpts), and that the perfect (all of everything for everyone around the world) shouldn’t be the enemy of the good (much of many/most). 🙂

    BTW I’m super-impressed with the thorough research you did! I’m not sure Brian Z is worth it (okay, I’m sure he’s not), but thank you very much. You’ve proven that presence in the packet, partial presence, or absence are not deciding factors, IMHO anyway. I even feel you’ve proven they’re not even significant factors.

  27. Do you understand, even a little, that constructing arguments speaking for the imagined concerns of people in a group that you do not belong to and have no actual stake in is, at best, staggeringly rude?

    Professional respectful listener with 20 years of training Cheryl S. and professor “whites out people who disagree with me and can’t stop gloating about it” robinaread are now required to a) name what group of people I do not belong to and “have no actual stake in,” b) state what arguments I have presumed to construct speaking for the imagined concerns of them, and c) apologize.

    I think there was a counterargument to my library idea (which is fine, thank you) somewhere amidst all of the above noise and fury. It might have been “developing countries don’t have Anglo-US style libraries” (is that right?). Well, I’m skeptical that giving away a bunch of free stuff would make much difference in the long run, but sure, sending books to all of the members hailing from those countries, for the time being at least, is far from a burdensome expense – if it’s important, do it. At the same time, don’t forget that success for fandom of the printed SFF word in countries currently lacking a big market for it will come when their publishers and booksellers offer them more and a greater variety of SFF, including more Hugo-nominated books, at market prices. Know when that happens? When they buy more Hugo-nominated books.

    Moving on.

    Joshua K: I don’t believe I received the souvenir book for the last two Worlcons either. Loncon3 of course apologized and that’s fine. I think Kevin Standlee is right that if Sasquan’s somehow fell through the cracks you should remind them.

    It was refreshing to reach Kevin’s post and see a clear counterargument.

    2. It sets a maximum price for an Attending membership for the first 90 days after the election: anyone who votes can convert from Supporting to Attending for not more than 4x the Advance Supporting Membership fee.

    I agree this should not be done without careful thought and planning. Of course. But a fairly small number of people actually vote in site selection, make plans to attend whatever convention is selected two years in advance, and pay the fee within the first 90 days. Wouldn’t the amount potentially in play still be less than half of one percent of a Worldcon budget, tops? Correct me if I’m wrong but that’s what it looks like. And even it turns out to be a little more, there’s time to find ways to make up for it. If, in a worst case scenario, you ask some new attending members for an extra dollar, you are still successfully removing barriers to participation for many other fans.

    Or try dropping from the current $40 to $30 before looking at $25. (Or, of course, try to strike or amend the “4x” requirement.)

    Kevin, of course you have decades of insider experience, I’m not knocking the value of your accrued wisdom, and I’m sure you have reasons why you changed your mind. The reasons I’ve heard haven’t convinced me to change mine yet.

  28. Yep, there’s still “candy” there.

    I still want to see how excluding the packet (which costs WSFS nothing and doesn’t have any impact on the cost of any class of WorldCon membership) is supposed to make up for the cost of purchasing copies of all the works even in the shorter forms (shorts, novelettes, novellas) for those members who would like to review before voting if they have not had a chance to see them before.

    Even of you reduce the cost of the supporting membership by an amount equaling less than the cost of a single hardbound novel at market price. Somehow the mathematical basis seems a trifle shaky..

  29. Craig R. on May 31, 2016 at 10:18 pm said:

    I still want to see how excluding the packet (which costs WSFS nothing and doesn’t have any impact on the cost of any class of WorldCon membership)

    That packet costs hours and hours of golden, precious volunteer time and bandwidth to host it. It ABSOLUTELY costs the convention a lot.

  30. @Cubist

    I consider accusing someone of lies/lying to be a serious accusation, and one that you should be damn certain of being right about.

    @Kendall

    The reasoning behind only counting things actually-in-the-packet as in the packet, regardless of availability elsewhere, is that the complaining nominee in this case is freely available on the internet. If a nominee like that is somehow supposed to be disadvantaged, then surely prior nominees in a similar situation ought to be as well – but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

    Theoretically, less clear-cut nominees (Editor Long, Fan Writer/Artist, Pro Artist) might suffer from it a bit as they’re harder to research independently, but I don’t have enough data to prove that*. Nominees where a single work is involved seem to suffer not one bit, whether represented only in excerpt form or withheld entirely. Related Work (the most relevant one considering the complaint) was won two years in a row by the sole unrepresented nominee!

    I researched it to assuage my own curiosity, by the way. I like information rather than guesses and no-one else seemed inclined to provide any, despite the scaremongering. 🙂

    *But I would strongly suggest that even if the packet were to be reduced**, keeping the packet for the more nebulous categories would be a very good idea.

    **And I’d rather it wasn’t. /poor

  31. @Brian Z: As I understand the choice: do we set the Supporting Membership fee a lot lower, accepting that it does less to defray the cost of running the Worldcon but does more to encourage public rabid interest and participation in supporting Worldcons and the Hugos?

    I’ve fixed this thing for you. My fee is modest.

  32. Meredith, how certain should a person be before they accuse someone of lying? In the context of a court of law, “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” is how certain you should be… but File770 isn’t a court of law. That’s a purely legal standard which just isn’t an appropriate one to apply here, not least because there’s hardly anything at stake. More specifically: What ill consequences can befall BrianZ as a result of his being called a goddamn liar on File770? Are those consequences any worse than the ones that will befall him as a result of his having actually said all the questionably-veracious things which might lead people to call him a goddamn liar?

  33. @Cubist

    I don’t really want to get into the reasons why right now (anyone curious can probably find where I’ve explained previously if they must know) but the consequences to me of seeing accusations of lying flying around are not insignificant. Even if they’re not aimed at me. I don’t object when it seems accurate. I reserve the right to point out the times when I think it isn’t. There are other, more accurate, words to use – ones just as critical.

  34. Greg Hullender:

    It’s worse in the last third. There the infodumps are the main point, and the plot, such as it is, is only there to take you from one infodump to the next one. Stephenson has come close to admitting this in interviews.

    That seems to me an odd way of putting it. If the infodumps are the main point, then surely they are essential to the plot. That’s the plot – the emergence of the world described in the infodumps. The plot is told partly in narrative style and partly in textbook style, and arguably the bits in textbook style are more important. It’s an unusual way of writing nowadays (I guess Gulliver’s Travels would be the archetypal classical example), but I don’t see it as bad in itself.

  35. Brian Z on May 31, 2016 at 8:19 pm said:

    I agree this should not be done without careful thought and planning. Of course. But a fairly small number of people actually vote in site selection, make plans to attend whatever convention is selected two years in advance, and pay the fee within the first 90 days.

    It’s more than you think. Roughly 20% of the 2015 Worldcon’s Attending members joined in the first 90 days. How many of them were also site selection voters, I don’t know.

    Or try dropping from the current $40 to $30 before looking at $25. (Or, of course, try to strike or amend the “4x” requirement.)

    Unlikely to pass. It has only been a few years since we changed it from 2x to 4x.

    Back in the early 1990s, it was only 1x. My (future) wife was the very last person to buy a Worldcon attending membership (having voted in the site selection for the 1993 Worldcon, US$22 ASM) for only $22, 1X the voting fee. (I sold her the membership myself on the last day it was possible to do so.) More than likely, the 1993 Worldcon lost money on every attending membership sold at this $44 level. Fortunately, we had more than 7000 attending members who eventually made up for it.

    Kevin, of course you have decades of insider experience, I’m not knocking the value of your accrued wisdom, and I’m sure you have reasons why you changed your mind. The reasons I’ve heard haven’t convinced me to change mine yet.

    While WSFS doesn’t want to force Worldcons to sell memberships at a price where they lose money servicing the membership, the society does want to continue to provide an incentive for its members to join as early as possible and to convert their memberships to Attending early as well. Early money and member commitment helps a Worldcon make its plans properly. Late money is much more difficult to plan for, because membership sales diverge so dramatically during the last six months of all recent Worldcons. (There are in fact people who study this. It’s a depressing study because it amounts to “Nobody knows what will happen in the last six months.”) Also, WSFS Business Meeting participants tend to be disproportionately early-joiners. So don’t expect them to change the rules to disadvantage themselves.

    There was in fact some discussion several years ago about significantly lowering the cost to nominate. Under WSFS rules until last year, a Worldcon could (although none ever had) establish a “Hugo Nominating Only” membership at any price it wanted — even free!. After several years of debate on the subject, WSFS modified its rules to prohibit a Worldcon from selling a membership class that costs less than a Supporting membership but includes any of the rights of a Supporting membership. A Worldcon can sell cheap memberships or even give them away, but if they cost less than a Supporting membership (and the ASM sets a floor as well as a ceiling on the cost of a Supporting membership), they can’t include any WSFS voting rights, including Hugo Award nominating.

  36. I understand a desire to not revisit the 4x rule too quickly – though hasn’t it been quite a while now?

    On the other hand, Worldcon75 is saying: $40 is the agreed amount which is considered adequate to administer your supporting membership (and let some portion of those funds be used so that you make a contribution to running the Worldcon). However, since we also have the option of charging more for print publications, we are going to charge $12 extra for them. Even if we wanted to, we would not be able to lower the supporting membership fee by a corresponding amount, to $28, so we’re putting your “extra” $12 back into the Worldcon.

    That’s fine. But it raises what strikes me as a legitimate question about whether or not to lower the rates further in 2019. Especially if those bids (is it just Dublin so far?) are also considering charging extra for print publications.

    If it were $30, with no change to the 4x rule, it would be possible to spend $30 on an advance supporting membership and convert to attending within the first 90 days for another $120. Maybe not unreasonably low, especially if you’d charge them extra for print publications (which they are more likely to want) – and as you point out, putting your money on the table two years in advance is a good thing.

    Thanks for the discussion.

  37. The fact that works which weren’t included in the packet went on to win doesn’t “prove” anything for the general principle. It only shows that, for that specific year and work, not being in the packet wasn’t sufficiently damaging to its chances to keep it from winning.

    At least as interesting as the case for Ancillary Justice (and possibly a counter-argument) is that of Best Editor Long Form for 2014 (which Meredith mentioned). Toni Weisskopf got more nominating votes than anyone else (40% more than Ginjer Buchanan, who got the second most), but was not represented in the packet. Buchanan went on to win the award, but Weisskopf’s support fell such that she only took fourth place.

    And consider Skin Game, a 2015 best novel candidate. It had more nominating votes than any other novel but had only an excerpt in the packet. The eventual winner, Three Body Problem, was included in full, and Skin Game came in fifth, after No Award.

    So many factors go into how a particular work does in the final ballot that it is nigh-on impossible to isolate the effect of any single factor, such as whether it was or was not included in a packet (particularly in years where votes may be in reaction to slates, or are cast for reasons other than simply based on the perceived quality of the work). You want to make the case that leaving it out doesn’t hurt it, and there is evidence that supports that. But if you want to make the opposite case – that leaving it out does hurt it – then there is evidence to support that as well. But no “proof” in general either way.

    If you really wanted to prove it one way or another, you’d have to set up a situation where half the voters got a packet with half the nominees, and the other half of the voters got a packet with the other half of the nominees. And then compare how each group voted for packeted and nonpacketed works. (I don’t see that happening any time soon . . . . )

    As a reader, I’m glad for packets, and I think they give works that had been relatively poorly distributed a bump in exposure. But I think the point made in Holman’s post – that the existence of packets puts pressure on rights holders to give away works that they otherwise would not – is legitimate.

    @ Leslie C.
    Explain, in one sentence, the downside [of including a work in the packet].

    If I were an author of a nominated book with a relatively small print run, I’d be concerned that giving thousands of free copies to my core projected audience would eat into sales, perhaps being the difference between earning out or not earning out its advance. I don’t believe there is anything but anecdotal evidence one way or another, but I can see how such a concern would be justified.

    For a voter/reader, there is no downside.

  38. And consider Skin Game, a 2015 best novel candidate. It had more nominating votes than any other novel but had only an excerpt in the packet.

    For slated works, it is probably impossible to correlate total nominations with how well something will do in the final voting. Using that as evidence of how things fare whether they are in or out of the packet is probably not a useful endeavor.

  39. Bill:

    “And consider Skin Game, a 2015 best novel candidate. It had more nominating votes than any other novel but had only an excerpt in the packet.”

    This is pure FUD. The item was slated on to the ballot through block voting.

    “Toni Weisskopf got more nominating votes than anyone else (40% more than Ginjer Buchanan, who got the second most), but was not represented in the packet.”

    The difference here lies in that in other categories, we know what work to read to judge it. Toni Weisskopf gave no one a chance to know what they should look for. It would have cost absolutely nothing to add that information, so this is not an argument against the packet.

    I would guess that the reason Weisskopf added no information is that she isn’t an idiot. She knew that she had been slated on to the ballot and didn’t want to be seen as condoning that.

  40. @Bill: In addition to the above two replies by @Aaron and @Hampus Eckerman, methinks you’re forgetting that number of nominations is pretty irrelevant. The final voting system ensures someone/something with very broad support – some have termed it the least disliked candidate – wins. Also, you don’t know why those folks nominated it; some may have decided Weisskopf, for example, was Hugo-worthy, but not their top pick; you don’t find that out ever, but you don’t see the effect of that until the final results. Plus, of course, IIRS usually a lot more people vote than nominate (I’m not sure if this year or last year follow that pattern, but then, you’re going back to 2014). So again – # of nominations isn’t very useful.

    As far as pressure – well, the small press person afraid of giving away copies could provide a larger excerpt than the 10-30 pages one gets on Amazon. We’re seeing more large excerpts in the novel packet.

    Just my two cents.

  41. @ Hampus

    so this is not an argument against the packet
    You are right. It is not an argument against the packet. I’m not against the packet. I’ve said (clearly, i thought) that I’m glad for the packet.

    I am saying, however, that it is unproven that leaving a work out of the packet is harmless, and that it may be unproveable.

  42. @Kendall
    methinks you’re forgetting that number of nominations is pretty irrelevant
    The system doesn’t think so. The system thinks that the top five vote getters are better than everyone else. It thinks that 5th is better than 6th.

    I see what you are saying — otherwise, we could just give the Hugo to the work with the most nominations and be done with it. But surely the relative positions mean something . Don’t the 1st place nominees tend to do better than the 5th place ones in final voting?

  43. @Aaron
    See the paragraph following the one you quote. I agree that slates make it hard to analyze the data.

  44. “The system doesn’t think so. The system thinks that the top five vote getters are better than everyone else. It thinks that 5th is better than 6th.”

    The system doesn’t think at all. And the number of nominations are totally unimportant with regards to measuring popularity of the membership as a whole. It has absolutely no value for this, and exceptionally so during a slating year.

    You are FUDing again.

  45. @Bill: It seems like you may be confusing nominations (gets you onto the final ballot) with votes (nominations irrelevant; it’s a blank slate, ::cough::, youknowwhatImean). I’ve seen plenty of times when the work/person with the most noms didn’t win. Nominations just mean “someone thought you deserved a Hugo” (or “someone is voting a slate,” more recently). Come voting time, someone who nominated you – especially given they may have nominated up to four other people/works – may put that nomination last.

  46. Bill: The fact that works which weren’t included in the packet went on to win doesn’t “prove” anything for the general principle. It only shows that, for that specific year and work, not being in the packet wasn’t sufficiently damaging to its chances to keep it from winning.

    At least as interesting as the case for Ancillary Justice (and possibly a counter-argument) is that of Best Editor Long Form for 2014. Toni Weisskopf got more nominating votes than anyone else (40% more than Ginjer Buchanan, who got the second most), but was not represented in the packet. Buchanan went on to win the award, but Weisskopf’s support fell such that she only took fourth place.

    I think that you are making a mistake by attempting use Weisskopf as any sort of data point with relation to whether having a packet entry helps or hurts.

    First of all, Weisskopf made quite an impression (and not a good one) in 2014 with her “It’s Us Vs. Them” post.

    Secondly, there are numerous people — including me — who absolutely refuse to nominate or vote for someone for Hugo Best Editor when they not only can’t point to works they actually edited, but the works put out by their publishing house inevitably contain multitudes of spelling and grammatical errors, AND they have openly bragged that they don’t edit their authors because it doesn’t improve sales.

    (N.B. I read at least a half-dozen Baen books each year.)

  47. 2014: 12
    2013: 8
    2012: 8
    2011: 9
    2010: 10 1/2
    2009: 10
    That’s the number of winners in each of those years who did not get the most nominations (some of whom were also last in nominations). There are 17 awards in total (unless I miscounted). If anyone wants something mathier about relative nomination position versus regularity of winning, they’re going to have to look them up themselves. 🙂

    @Bill

    I’m not sure based on your last comment whether you saw the full list or my later comment that talks a little about the possibility that while single work nominees don’t seem to suffer at all, person nominees* might (might! not enough data!**) face more difficulties.

    The burden of proof lies upon those who claim that the packet should go because it disadvantages nominees who don’t submit (or are excluded). So far no-one of that opinion has presented any, but there is proof of nominees doing just fine.

    *also the least likely nominees to incur a significant financial loss from including a sample of their work in the packet, apart from the Campbell Award nominees

    **and if anyone does have a text list lying around somewhere for the 2013 and 2012 packets I would be very appreciative

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