Stross Says Give Discworld the 2016 Best Novel Hugo

Charles Stross didn’t invent this idea, but he is the first person with a large platform to advocate it.

263 thoughts on “Stross Says Give Discworld the 2016 Best Novel Hugo

  1. Stevie –
    Can’t imagine how frustrating it must be for your daughter, to know that pointless intransigence on the part of her co-workers may well be leading to unnecessary deaths. Glad she is still doing that job.

  2. I don’t feel that nominating the entire body of Discworld novels is in the spirit of the Hugo best novel category, nor am I convinced that it is the most appropriate way to honor Terry Pratchett. If fan discussion and debate can generate and converge on an alternate form of honoring him, wonderful! If not… Well, at least this questionably legal nomination has the genuine emotion of most of fandom behind it. *shrugs*

  3. There seem to be a fair number of lawyers here, so I will just say that hard cases make bad law. If the intent of the award is to honor the best SFF novel of the year, then twisting that to honor a series of novels that began in 1983 does not seem at all within the spirit of the award, and it does open up the newly stretched category to all kinds of future messes. Slippery slope indeed.

    For me, a non-Hugo career achievement award is a much more attractive idea. It’s a perfect companion for the Campbell, which is about the beginning of someone’s career.

  4. @JJ

    I don’t doubt that Stross’ intentions are only the best. But I think that, as it would be with Scalzi and GRRM, him making this sort of suggestion on Twitter gives him disproportionate influence over the Hugo ballot — and not in a good way.

    I think you may be overestimating their influence over Hugo voters. In fact, GRRM has a clear history of strongly recommending to his massive number of fans works explicitly for a Hugo consideration… that don’t get enough votes to be nominated. One thing I have learned pretty quick is that Hugo voters are awfully independent and not so easily persuaded by the opinions of a Scalzi, Stross, or Martin. Having a large number of fans appears to give almost no influence over Hugo nominations. If nothing else, the voters are too stubborn for that. 😉

  5. If people really feel like giving a Hugo to Discworld above-board, the Hugo Administrators could use their power to add a single special Hugo to add an explicit Hugo for Best Discworld Novel.

    If a Worldcon Committee (most definitely not just the Hugo Administrators on their own) decide to add a special Hugo during their year, the rules are explicit that it goes through the same nomination and balloting process as any other Hugo category on the ballot that year.

    It most definitely is not allowed to just arbitrarily choose someone to give a special Hugo to.

  6. Oh, you’d have to do nominating and balloting in the normal way. But if we take the Hugo process as a function f applied to different domains, I see nothing formally preventing the definition of a domain for a one-time Hugo as “novels in the Discworld series”.

    And, yes, the Worldcon Committee; I was in transit and working on a phone and looking up the precise chapter and verse in the WSFS constitution was too much trouble.

  7. James: As I understand it, under the WSFS constitution with regard to Hugo nominees, to be eligible for your “best novel in the Discworld series” Hugo all entries would have had to have been published in 2015 or have had their nomination window extended this year. This is a bit of a problem….

  8. Guess: [Stross] announced publicly that he was listing wheel of Time below no award right after the nominations came out. It was his only commenton the Hugo nominations.

    Soon Lee: Wait, he said that?! Got a link? (My Google-fu is weak)

    The only thing I can find in that arena is a blog post in which he obliquely makes it crystal-clear that he thinks the WoT nomination was bollocks, by linking to 3 other peoples’ blog posts which essentially said that.

    I can’t find any mention by him that he was going to rank it below “No Award”, although that is certainly the impression one would get from his blog post.

  9. The award for “Best Series of All Time” was not restricted to works in the previous year.

    It was pointed out by the sage Kevin Standlee in the thread about the video game Hugo petition that the rules in 1966 were more lax about such things.

    Being valid 50 years ago is not necessarily a good precedent when many, many rule changes have occurred between then and now.

  10. More specifically, 3.2.1 merely says “unless otherwise specified”, and 3.3.17 makes no such specification, leading me to conclude that the lead-in to 3.2.1 would allow the Committee to make such a specification for a Hugo under 3.3.17.

  11. Ken: Yup. I think that if they could do a “Best Series of the Past 50 Years” Hugo it’d be great, but alas, they can’t. Not unless there’s a constitutional change, and then the earliest Worldcon that could have that award would be whoever follows Finland.

  12. @JJ,

    Too oblique to draw any conclusions: the linked articles could (more) easily point to the opinion that the Puppy* nominations were bollocks, also Brandon Sanderson’s linked article is nicely balanced. I’m no haruspex, I don’t see any there, there.

    *That was Sad Puppy 2. Seems like so long ago.

  13. BTW, speaking as someone with training in statutory and regulatory interpretation, I would say that if the intent of the framers had been to carve out only the specific exceptions regarding extended eligibility, the appropriate phrasing would have been something along the lines of “except in the cases of the exceptions specified in ss. …” rather than the existing vague phrasing. I will also note that in general the face of the text rather than the intent of the framers as determined by secondary materials is the standard guidance.

  14. James: You’ll no doubt be pleased to hear that the business meeting doesn’t just disregard the intent of the framers expressed in secondary materials, but also disreagrds the intent of the framers when they are present at the meeting and want to be heard.

  15. More specifically, 3.2.1 merely says “unless otherwise specified”, and 3.3.17 makes no such specification, leading me to conclude that the lead-in to 3.2.1 would allow the Committee to make such a specification for a Hugo under 3.3.17.

    That seems possible to me too.

  16. James

    My field was highly specific: the taxation of financial institutions and financial instruments. And yes: if they want you to do highly specific things they say so; if the rules are vague then the people creating the rules wished them to be vague, and no matter how keen people are to say that there is only one interpretation of the text, the people who created the text disagree..

    And on that happy note I must get some sleep; it’s 4.28 am in England and I need sleep…

  17. James on September 15, 2015 at 7:46 pm said:

    The award for “Best Series of All Time” was not restricted to works in the previous year.

    As others have said, don’t assume that the rules were the same. Fifty years ago, there was no provision for filling the office of Vice President of the USA when the office became vacant, either, but that’s not the case today because the US Constitution was amended to provide such a provision.

    As it happens, it appears that until sometime in the 1960s (and I can’t remember exactly when; I’ve read about it, but I wasn’t born until 1965, and didn’t start attending Worldcon until 1984), the Hugo Awards and much of WSFS was run more like the British “Constitution” — the government-of-the-day just makes up new rules that immediately override any old rules on the spot. (At least, that’s how it looks from here.)

    The rules for giving out Hugo Awards are not the same as they were 50 years ago when we last had a Best All Time Series Award. In particular, let’s again look at WSFS Constitution 3.2.1:

    3.2.1: Unless otherwise specified, Hugo Awards are given for work in the field of science fiction or fantasy appearing for the first time during the previous calendar year.

    This means that a Worldcon can’t use its Additional Category for “Best Series Published Sometime in the Past Fifty Years” because they don’t have the authority to “reach back” beyond the defined eligibility year. In other words, if you want Worldcons to be able to create categories for anything other than the previous year (plus specific and general exceptions defined elsewhere), you’re going to need to change the rules to allow them to do so.

    The “previous calendar year” wording was in the 1975 Constitution, but that’s as far back as the WSFS archive goes, and I don’t have anything older at hand.

    James on September 15, 2015 at 7:51 pm said:

    More specifically, 3.2.1 merely says “unless otherwise specified”, and 3.3.17 makes no such specification, leading me to conclude that the lead-in to 3.2.1 would allow the Committee to make such a specification for a Hugo under 3.3.17.

    I can’t see that as a reasonable interpretation. That would give a Worldcon the ability to rewrite every category’s eligibility period arbitrarily. For example, they could decide that Best Novel actually applies to anything published in the previous five years, and Best Short Story only to works published in the last three months of the previous year. Yes, those are absurd conclusions, but they’re just as logical as your assumption that “unless otherwise specified” means “the Worldcon committee gets to make up the rules.”

    What that “unless otherwise specified” wording means is:

    1. It’s the default applicable to all categories unless there’s something in that category’s definition overriding the general rule. (None of them currently have such an override.)

    2. If an individual category was to be created that had a different eligibility period, that would apply to that category.

    3. There are several cases in the Constitution that allow for extended eligibility for particular cases. These are “otherwise specified” cases.

    Furthermore, I was there when we generalized a bunch of rules into what is currently 3.2, and I know we never intended for such a non-intuitive meaning, nor do I think anyone voting in the meetings in question expected that such general language was supposed to be able to be set aside at the whim of an individual Worldcon committee.

    James on September 15, 2015 at 8:12 pm said:

    BTW, speaking as someone with training in statutory and regulatory interpretation, I would say that if the intent of the framers had been to carve out only the specific exceptions regarding extended eligibility, the appropriate phrasing would have been something along the lines of “except in the cases of the exceptions specified in ss. …” rather than the existing vague phrasing. I will also note that in general the face of the text rather than the intent of the framers as determined by secondary materials is the standard guidance.

    Let me translate that for you: “I want something the rules don’t actually permit, so I’m going to ignore all precedent and legislative history and decide that none of the people who wrote anything in the constitution actually knew what they were doing, and I obviously know better than they do.”

    But here’s the specific reference. In 1997, the BM passed “Polishing the Hugos,” an amendment that collected up a bunch of general statements scattered around the Hugo Awards (then Article II) and put them into a General section. The sponsor’s argument at the time included with the proposal (which is thus part of the official legislative history, as a principle of legislative interpretation) reads:

    This amendment tidies up the wording of the Hugo Awards somewhat. It takes the general list of principles now in the Best Novel definition and creates a new section from them, with the statement of general responsibility added and a new definition of the eligibility of series constructed from the old versions. As far as we can tell, the only effect is to extend the double eligibility of non-English works to all Hugos instead of just the written fiction categories.

    So as I hope you can see, there was never any intention of giving Worldcons a Secret Power to Expand/Contract Eligibility Periods. Had there ever been such an intention, it would have been explicitly stated. No Worldcon that I’m aware of has ever interpreted the “unless otherwise specified” language to mean “unless otherwise specified by the Worldcon Committee” which is what you’re suggesting here, with no precedent to back it up.

    You say you have training in statutory and regulatory interpretation? How about “WSFS doesn’t hide elephants in mouseholes.”

    Guess on September 15, 2015 at 6:27 pm said:

    …in order for Discworld to be taken seriously, like the Wheel of Time, the entire series should be included in the Hugo packet.

    Nonsense. You make it sound like there’s some requirement in the rules that you have to give away copies of your property if you’re shortlisted for a Hugo Award. There’s no such requirement. There is no requirement whatsoever for a Hugo Award Voter Packet. Kansas City doesn’t even have to offer one or take on the rather substantial amount of work necessary to make it happen. Hugo Voter Packets are a generous gift consisting of a pile of volunteer work from the administering Worldcon and the willingness of the rights holders to share their work without remuneration. Stop treating them as an entitlement program.

  18. Per usual, I saw a question of interpretation re: the WSFS Constitution and after scrolling through the rest of the comments to see if there were any others I might feel the want to respond to, Kevin beat me to the interpretation one.

    It is as if he was bitten by a radioactive copy of the WSFS Constitution.

    He is right, though. The de facto eligibility is past calendar year. As 3.3.17 makes no statement negating that de facto eligibility, it stands and any committee award, be it for Series, Discworld Novel, Video Game, or Chair of the WSFS Business Meeting could be for works (or people) outside of those published in the previous calendar year (or one’s who have created such works).

  19. Let me translate that for you: “I want something the rules don’t actually permit, so I’m going to ignore all precedent and legislative history and decide that none of the people who wrote anything in the constitution actually knew what they were doing, and I obviously know better than they do.”

    Intent is not a magic wand. It’s a data point that’s susceptible to spin like anything else. Your take on what some decades-old minutes mean might not be someone else’s. The recollections of the members who were there and participated in the debate could change over time.

    The most solid ground we have is the language of the WSFS Constitution. If members come along later and interpret a part differently than it used to be interpreted, that’s not always a bad thing — nor is it an insult that “none of the people who wrote anything in the constitution actually knew what they were doing.”

    Looking at the text of the constitution on its face and reaching a new interpretation in new circumstances is a valid exercise of the process.

  20. rcade:

    Looking at the text of the constitution on its face and reaching a new interpretation in new circumstances is a valid exercise of the process.

    The constitution is an expression of a community ruling itself. Telling them they have to set aside what they think it means is a different type of action than literary criticism.

  21. The constitution is an expression of a community ruling itself. Telling them they have to set aside what they think it means is a different type of action than literary criticism.

    Nobody’s being told to set aside their interpretation, their understanding of intent or their expectations of the weight of precedent. I’m just disputing the notion that what James said …

    I will also note that in general the face of the text rather than the intent of the framers as determined by secondary materials is the standard guidance.

    … is some kind of attack on the WSFS Constitution or an insult to its authors. That is how a governing document is treated over time as one generation passes it down to the next.

    It is inevitable as new circumstances arise that a group like ours is going to revisit our assumptions about the proper course of action. Precedent didn’t stop No Award from winning five awards in one year. It won’t stop a new interpretation of a rule if enough people (or the right people) believe that it’s warranted.

  22. I’m with some others here: I want to see a good memorial for Pratchett’s work, but I don’t think a Best Novel Hugo is a suitable one. I’d like the Hugo to go to one of the finest novels of 2014, and for Pratchett to be commemorated in a funny, kind, distinctive other way.

  23. It seems to me that plenty of people “knew” what was supposed to win the Best Series Hugo 50 years ago (including, by his own testimony, Asimov), but it didn’t turn out that way.

  24. @rea

    Well, (1) there really ought to be a Hugo for best series. And (2) should we not be nominating the God Stalker Chronicles?

    Oh crap, better hide this from Jim & Kyra then!

    On a more serious note, I got into the Hugo’s because of WoT – there was a buzz in some of the message boards and sites when Tor essentially said that they were offering the whole series in the voters pack, and I decided to sign up for my first ever Hugo.

    As I got into the packet, as well as the related reading, I think it struck me as to just how much of an outlier WoT was in it’s category. It didn’t belong, and certainly I have no idea how to justify bit’s like Knife of Dreams etc in it. I wound up barely voting for it above No Award, but in all honesty, I’m not sure if I would’ve done the same again if I had to do it all over again.

    But while WoT was an edge case, nominating Discworld, or a subset of it like Witches or Tiffany Aching is (obvs, IMO) way beyond any reasonable interpretation of the current rules. I’m certain that if enough people voted for it, the Hugo admins would let it through, even though (especially since!) it should not, because as others have noted, their preference seems to be to let others decide, while taking a hard stance only in terms of publication year.

    I do think that the Best Series guys should essentially try to do what the Best YA guys did, and declare theirs also a Not-a-Hugo, get permission form the Pratchett Estate, and work towards a The Sir Terry Pratchett Award for Best Series.

  25. I think we need to be honest, that this whole idea comes from one good place and one bad place. The good place is that we would like to honour Sir Terry’s work – but we know that The Shepard’s Crown doesn’t deserve a best novel Hugo, it’s immensely touching as a novel *if and only if* you’ve read all the rest, *and* because in part of the authors’ illness and death, but its a partly finished work with many flaws – if nominated it really shouldn’t win. The reason for the attempt to ‘widen’ the nomination is to make it right that it wins, because the rest of the discworld series was so good and had peaks that were the best of their year(s). Now if the rules don’t infact allow that, it should not be allowed, but the ‘bad place” was interpreting the rules so as to let the Wheel Of Time try that approach before, because the Wheel Of Time (in my view) never had a best novel in any of its components, and is little more than an extended labourious potboiler. If you’re going to bend the rules for muggins, don’t be surprised when buggins feels it might be doable for his candidate particularly if his candidate is on a prima facie basis a better writer in every respect.

    I think – overall – far better would be for worldcon to honour Terry uniquely, and to let The Shephard’s Crown take its chances as one book – without needing to carry the weight of our praise for all the rest.

  26. I think the word “However” in 3.2.4 means that what follows is an exception to the general rule, allowing a series to be eligible when the preceding sentence would otherwise exclude it.

    That would reduce the rule to “series may be nominated in the year of their final part, but only if no part has been nominated separately”. If that was what was meant, I think the rule would have said it more clearly.

    I think it makes far more sense to read it as distinguishing a single work published in multiple parts which are not standalone works from a series of individual works, even if the collected series can also be considered as “a work” (but not as “a (single) story” or “a novel”).

    There are still unclear cases – when does a fix-up novel cease to be a collection of novellas and become a new work in its own right? Is a trilogy like the Bromeliad a single story, or three?

    But if the best available name for the collection is “The <setting> series”, or “The <character> series”, I think that’s a good sign that it isn’t a single story.
    A Wheel of Time was pushing the rules, but was a single story in a way that “the Diskworld series” isn’t.

  27. Alan Braggins: A Wheel of Time was pushing the rules, but was a single story in a way that “the Diskworld series” isn’t

    Comrade Braggins! Get out now, while you can! Take nothing, just get out the back door as quickly as possible — before Comrade Busiek’s Spelling Enforcement Officers come to your door and make you disappear, as punishment for your heinous crime of Spelling Discworld With A “K”!

  28. rcade writes: I think it should be accepted practice to treat a series the way Wheel of Time was treated.

    It was a mistake to treat WoT as a novel for the Hugos. That mistake should not be repeated.

  29. ULTRAGOLGOTHA writes: I’d listen to an argument about LOTR meeting the definition of Novel under 3.2.4.

    No argument necessary. It’s split into 6 books and some appendices and was originally published in 3 volumes, but it is clearly a single work.

  30. rcade writes: As much as I’m arguing this, I know I’d have trouble picking the entire Discworld over a fantastic novel.

    Putting Discworld on the ballot for Best Novel means you will have one less actual novel to pick from, and lots of people will think that novel #6, the one that Discworld pushes off the ballot, is fantastic, or it wouldn’t get to #6.

    In a normal year, at least. I could see the argument that next years Hugos are going to be ruined by the Puppies already, why not use them to honour Pterry.

  31. I think it’s a bad idea.
    I understand the desire to honour Pterry and mark his passing, but the award is for Best Novel of 2015, and the Discworld series is in no sense the best novel of 2015.
    If you want to give him an award, make up a new one to give him. Or better yet, since you can’t actually give him an award, commemorate him in some other way. Raise money for charity, or set up a scholarship programme or literacy programme, or do something else to honour his name.

  32. The desire to recognize who we’ve lost, especially so quickly on the heels of that lost, acutely felt, is strong. I admit that as a rational actor, were I to see the entire Discworld as a nominee next year–it would be difficult for me not to vote for it. Even given, rationally, all I know about Pratchett declining previous nominations and all that.

  33. That being said, in order for Discworld to be taken seriously, like the Wheel of Time, the entire series should be included in the Hugo packet. Ill pay $40 for that.

    Kevin Standlee (and in fact, Charlie Stross before him) have explained why the Hugo packet isn’t any kind of mandatory thing; I just wanted to add that it’s not $40 for a supporting membership of MAC II, it’s $50.

    Just nitpicking 🙂

  34. I love Discworld, and Pratchett was one of the first authors who inspired frequent debates with the local librarians over whether I, tiny and precocious reader, should be allowed to withdraw adult books (the eventual compromise after some weeks of back and forth was yes, but only if I had a parent with me, which was a little annoying, especially considering how many children’s classics were also in the adult library, and Tom’s Midnight Garden ought to be available without jumping through such hoops), but Discworld isn’t a novel.

    Surely there’s a better way to handle much beloved and mourned authors than shoe-horning their life’s work into whatever category might have a loophole?

  35. Niall McAuley on September 16, 2015 at 2:08 am said:

    I humbly apologize to ULTRAGOTHA, my echolalialia must be playing up.

    No, no. It was really funny! I wish you had done it on purpose.

    ULTRAAMUSED

  36. Wonderful as it is to see fannish nitpickery in action, and as much as I sympathize with the impulse to honor Pratchett in all the ways, I think this is a terrible idea. I’m planning to vote next year, and I also don’t want to vote against Pratchett.

    Discworld is just not a novel. And no amount of rule-stretching is going to change that. I don’t care about the fine print, it says “Novel” right there in the title. Plus, do people really want to be doing this after spending all that time arguing that not everything that is allowed is fair?

  37. Wow. I have a lot of thoughts.

    1) I loved Sir Terry’s Discworld books with all the loves. I couldn’t fit all my thoughts on his death into a single song, so I wrote two.

    2) Memorials after someone is dead aren’t *for* the dead; the dead are gone and will never know the difference (IMO). They are for the living.

    3) The Discworld series is great, but it isn’t a single story, or even a set of stories braided into a novel-like form. If you thought of it as a novel, you’d be saying “this is too long; also plot-wise it’s like a lot of books set end to end; break it up into books, for goodness sake.”

    4) So it doesn’t (IMO) belong in Best Novel and I won’t be nominating it for same, though if it made the ballot I wouldn’t vote it below No Award (I didn’t vote WoT below No Award either, because I felt it made the ballot for love, and not for hate, the way WB did.)

    5) Best Series as a category has serious problems–how the heck do you read everything to judge being the first one that pops to mind.

    6) Most seriously, if we make up a category to nominate Sir Terry’s work in, because we want him to win–are we okay with someone else winning it? And do we think other series can put up a real fight, in these circumstances, in this year? If we aren’t, it’s not a real contest, is it?

    7)I am sorry to put this so harshly, but I can’t think of another way to say it right now. I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing Sir Terry, but would winning a fake contest so that we can give him an award be a clean way to honor his memory and in keeping with the spirit of his life and work?

    So I guess that’s where I am on “Discworld as Best Novel” and “Let’s give him a Best Series Hugo instead.” I recognize other people will differ on this and that doesn’t make them bad fen.

  38. About the only part of Discworld I think could be nominated is the Tiffany Aching books, but to tell the truth I don’t think they should be.

    How about honourng Sir Terry another way? How about pulling the Middle grade/YA hugo proposal out of committee and make it a Tpatchett(not a Hugo) ? The winner each year will recieve a Gold* Broomstick and a black fedora. Then because Terry recognised the real reward for achievement is higher expectations, the winner will be given a real dustpan and broom and told they are expected to clean the auditorium after the presentations are over.

    *With a Ankh-Morpork level of goldness. ie. “There is more gold in an equivalent weight of seawater.”

  39. Is there any precedent for asking the Hugo administrators to rule on the eligibility of a work at this stage of the process?

  40. @rcade

    As I understand it, they don’t even rule on things that don’t make the top five (which is why we’ll never know whether The Martian would be on the ballot with no Puppy slates). I doubt there have been many occasions of a ruling-in-advance.

  41. Cat:

    Best Series as a category has serious problems–how the heck do you read everything to judge being the first one that pops to mind.

    I definitely agree it’s a problem. But I did see a rather ingenious answer to it suggested somewhere (not here – possibly John Scalzi’s site?). If we go with the model of an award for completed series, not given every year, you could separate the nominations for the voting, e.g. have the nominations in 2019 and the voting in 2020. That we would have a year, or a bit more, to read all the nominees.

    Tintinaus:

    The YA committee is already considering making it Not a Hugo; and there was some discussion a while ago of making it the Diana Wynne Jones award, which seems to me more appropriate, as young people’s fiction was more central to her work than it was to Pratchett’s. (And I wish they would call it a middle-grade/YA award – or, because ‘middle-grade’ is specifically American, simply a young people’s fiction award – but at the moment they are just calling it YA.)

  42. rcade on September 15, 2015 at 9:43 pm said:

    Looking at the text of the constitution on its face and reaching a new interpretation in new circumstances is a valid exercise of the process.

    Yes, that’s true, but it also ends up obliging those of us writing legislative language to make the wording longer and longer and longer trying to close off all of the undesired interpretations. It also leads to what I call the toothpaste-tube problem: Adding more language to the constitution in an attempt to make it clearer is like trying to keep control of an open tube of toothpaste by squeezing it tightly. The mess you get is similar in both cases.

    Do we really want to add a few hundred more words to the Constitution here? Would Section 3.2.1 really be improved if it read as follows?

    3.2.1: Unless otherwise specified by specific words appearing anywhere else in the WSFS Constitution, including, but not necessarily limited to, anywhere in article 3, including, but not necessarily limited to, the specific text of any definition of any Hugo Award category, and excluding any decision by an individual Worldcon committee, including any Hugo Award Administration Subcommittee established by that Worldcon committee, Hugo Awards are given for work in the field of science fiction or fantasy appearing for the first time during the previous calendar year. This means that only works originally published for the first time during the calendar year prior to the year in which the Worldcon was held are eligible, unless there is a specific provision anywhere in the WSFS Constitution that says otherwise. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to, additional eligibility due to first publication in English after an earlier publication in another language. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to, extension of eligibility authorized by the business meeting by resolution. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to, extension of eligibility due to first publication in the USA after initial publication in another country in a prior year. It does not mean that Worldcon committees or any Hugo Award Adminsitration Subcommittee established by any Worldcon committee may arbitrarily change the eligibility period on any category, whether it is a permanent category or any Additional Category that they are allowed to add by this Constitution. It does not mean that the Business Meeting or any other entity is allowed to change the eligibility period for any category, other than by amending the constitution.

    Now, I just off the top of my head tried to close off as many misinterpretations (including some that IMO willful interpretations being made by people seeting elephants in mouseholes), and expanded a pretty straightforward 27-word sentence into 268 words of mush that even my own eyes glaze over when I read it back.

    Don’t look for hidden meanings in the Constitution. If you want to change the way a given section of the Constitution has been interpreted, particularly when it has been interpreted that way for a long time, propose a constitutional amendment to change the interpretation of that rule. For example, propose a change to Section 3.17, thus (changes in bold):

    3.3.17: Additional Category. Not more than one special category may be created by the current Worldcon Committee with nomination and voting to be the same as for the permanent categories. The Worldcon Committee is not required to create any such category; such action by a Worldcon Committee should be under exceptional circumstances only; and the special category created by one Worldcon Committee shall not be binding on following Committees. Awards created under this paragraph shall be considered to be Hugo Awards. Awards created in this category must include the same eligibility period applicable to all other categories, but may also include longer periods of time into the past.

    But even something like that would almost certainly have to have multiple paragraphs of elaboration saying, “This means X, but not Y, and not Z.”

    The last time a Worldcon created an extra category that had a longer-than-past-year eligibility period was 1966. There was no WSFS Constitution until 1963, and while I can’t find copies of the oldest ones, I know that by the 1970s, there was a restriction to the current year. There has not been any Worldcon that interpreted the language about the eligiblity year to mean “Except for categories we set up on our own authority.” That’s a heck of a lot of precedent to set aside.

  43. Is there any precedent for asking the Hugo administrators to rule on the eligibility of a work at this stage of the process?

    There’s plenty of precedent for asking.

    However, there’s also a precedent for answering…which is (as I told at least 20 different people earlier this year) “the Hugo Administrators traditionally don’t make advance ruling on eligibility of works since it may unduly influence the votes.”

  44. Do we really want to add a few hundred more words to the Constitution here? Would Section 3.2.1 really be improved if it read as follows?

    No, but it’s kind of mesmerizing. 🙂

    Someday the WSFS Constitution won’t be a short story. It’ll be a novelette.

  45. John Lorentz:

    However, there’s also a precedent for answering…which is (as I told at least 20 different people earlier this year) “the Hugo Administrators traditionally don’t make advance ruling on eligibility of works since it may unduly influence the votes.”

    Besides, unless something gets enough votes to require a decision, the Hugo Administrators will be needlessly making a withdrawal from the goodwill account by making a ruling.

  46. I have a suspicion that people voting for Discworld, Tiffany Aching, and The Shepherd’s Crown will divide up the votes to the point where none of them get enough to require being ruled upon. Most likely scenario after that is The Shepherd’s Crown alone will make it to the ballot on a tide of memorial nominations and lack of potential rule conflicts. (This is assuming Terry Pratchett didn’t leave any instructions about turning down future nominations.)

    Here in 5088 a small but determined group of Pterryites (known as the Sober Pterodactyls) are planning on heading back in time to nominate every Pratchett book published between 2000 and 2005.

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