Let’s begin with Peter S. Beagle here and post the rest of Daniel Dern’s gallery after the jump —
Peter S. BeagleContinue reading
Let’s begin with Peter S. Beagle here and post the rest of Daniel Dern’s gallery after the jump —
Peter S. BeagleContinue reading
The final Hugo Awards Study Committee Report is now online at the Worldcon 76 WSFS Business Meeting page along with the draft agenda for this year’s Business Meeting.
Committee chair Vincent Docherty says:
The committee got going much later than planned (entirely due to my own lack of time due to other commitments) but once we got started there was very energetic participation by the 20+ committee members. The report summarises the discussion and makes a number of recommendations, including four specific proposals which are on this year’s Business Meeting agenda (three updates to categories and continuation of the committee), as well as a number of topics for further discussion next year, assuming the committee is continued.
The committee welcomes feedback from interested fans. We’re aware of some online reaction to the specific proposals already, which might result in adjustments to the proposals when we get to the Business Meeting.
My thanks to the committee members for their work this year.
Direct link to the report: “2018 Report of the Hugo Awards Study Committee”
An excerpt from the overview of their recommendations —
…Understanding that the overall operation of the categories works well, the Committee found several places for improvement:
The Committee found that the present definitions in the Fan Artist/Professional Artist category were potentially problematic. The Fan Artist category was initially designed in 1967, seeking to honor those offering their artistic talents to the broader community of fandom for little or no compensation. Such contributions were often in the form of illustrations for fanzines and convention programs. In the last fifty years, however, the form that fandom has taken has changed, and the result is that the definition of Fan Artist was found to be outdated. This was given an extensive examination. The Committee also acknowledges that some further examination of the other fan/professional categories may be in order, and has proposed to carry forward at least one further change in this area.
The Committee found the term “Graphic Story” problematic. Just as “comic book” has come to be taken as including work not literally comic, “graphic story” has come to be taken as excluding work appearing in comic books or comic strips. The Committee proposes re-titling to “Best Graphic Story or Comic.”
The Committee feels that altering “Best Fancast” into a “Best Podcast” category and removing the restriction on eligible productions receiving money is desirable. Many podcasts generate income from either limited advertisements, tip jars, or other small streams of income. While these are often not sufficient to support someone making a living, the income can still be substantial. As also discussed in the context of the Fan/Professional Artist categories, the use of fixed income thresholds was also found to be problematic.
In addition to the Artist categories, the Committee gave some consideration to cases of category overlap and/or gaps in categories in general, and would propose to continue examining this both in the context of current and proposed awards. This arose, in particular, in discussions surrounding the future of Best Novel and the proposed Best Translated category.
The Committee also briefly considered several other questions, including how well the Hugo Awards have handled the digital/print divide and differences between how terms are used in an “industry” context in non-industry discourse (e.g. by Worldcon attendees/WSFS members who are giving the awards) and in the Hugo Award definitions themselves. Consideration of various such questions fed into the discussions on specific proposals.
The second question, ‘How well do the categories honor what we wish to honor?’, generated more questions for examination. Given the interaction of this question and the question of how many Hugo Awards should be awarded, most of these questions have been recommended for passage forward for further consideration in the next year. In particular:
A Best Translated category was proposed relatively late in the Committee’s deliberations. As a result, the Committee did not have the time to study this potential award in sufficient depth alongside the rest of its workload, and there were multiple ideas as to what form this category should take (e.g. whether it should be limited to novels, cover all written works) and, if recommended, whether the award in question should be a Hugo or a non-Hugo award given by Worldcons. In particular, the Committee proposes to examine whether such an award is presently feasible.
A potential reorganization of the Best Dramatic Presentation categories was considered, and has been proposed to be passed forward should the committee be continued. Multiple alternatives, including a possible addition of one (or more) categories and redefining the Long/Short division into a TV/Movie division, would be given consideration if the committee is reauthorized.
A readjustment of the Best Semiprozine and Best Editor categories has been proposed and will be considered if the Committee is reauthorized. In particular, the Committee feels that the nature of the internet may have reduced the advantage that professional magazines have over non-professional productions, and that allowing professional publications to compete in a “Best Magazine” category would allow them to once again be honored. The Committee also noted various complications with the Best Editor categories; several proposals, including a possible realignment into “Best Anthology” and “Best Imprint,” will be evaluated if we are authorized to do so….
The report advances three proposed changes, and recommends further study of four more:
Part II: Specific Proposals
(1) Proposed continuation of the Hugo Study Committee
(2) Proposed Changes to the Fancast Hugo Category (with slight changes to the Semiprozine and Fanzine categories to maintain consistency)
(3) Proposed Changes to the Professional Artist and Fan Artist Hugo Categories
(4) Proposed Changes to the Best Graphic Story Hugo Category
(5) Proposal Recommended for Further Study: Addition of a Best Translated Work Hugo Category
(6) Proposal Recommended for Further Study: Replacement of Semiprozine and Best Editor Hugo Categories with Professional Magazine, Anthology/Collection, and Publisher/Imprint
(7) Proposal Recommended for Further Study: Potential Alterations to Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo Categories
(8) Proposal Recommended for Further Study: Best Art Book and Alterations to Best Related Work
(9) Proposal Not Recommended for Further Consideration: Best Novel Split
[Thanks to Vincent Docherty for the story.]
Chris Barkley and Vincent Docherty’s proposals to make major changes to several Hugo categories, first published by File 770, are now on the Worldcon 75 business meeting agenda (see page 29, item D.6.)
However, Docherty would prefer they not go to an immediate up-and-down vote, but be sent to a study committee. Docherty writes:
Given the number of Hugo category proposals this year, and that we have managed to trigger some public discussion about the proposed changes, we have proposed the creation of a Hugo Awards Study Committee, to which a number of the category changes can be referred to.
Docherty, seconded by Nicholas Whyte, have made a motion to that effect (same link above, page 6, item B.2.1).
B.2.1 Short Title: Hugo Awards Study Committee (amendment by substitution)
Moved: to substitute for B.2 the following: To create a Hugo Awards Study Committee, appointed by the Chair, to
(1) Study revisions to Article 3 (Hugo Awards) of the WSFS Constitution, including any such proposals for amending Article 3 as may be referred to it by the Business Meeting or suggested by others;
(2) Make recommendations, which may include proposing constitutional amendments, to the 2018 Business Meeting; and
(3) Authorize the Chair of the Committee to appoint other persons to serve on the committee at the Chair’s discretion.
Docherty told File 770 there are certain rules to be navigated before the committee can be created:
As mentioned in the commentary under B.2.1. the rules of the Business Meeting are that Constitutional amendments currently on the agenda for this year’s meeting cannot be referred to this proposed committee by the Preliminary Business Meeting (on Thursday), but can be referred to it by the Main Business Meeting (on Friday or later). Kevin Standee and the Business Meeting team have been very helpful with the preparations and will keep us on track I’m sure.
The Sasquan committee reports they have already received 2,300 ballots. How many more will come in by the time 2015 Hugo Awards voting closes at 11:59 p.m. (PDT) on July 31?
Will Sasquan break LonCon 3’s record of 3,587 Hugo votes? That’s what fans expect. While LonCon 3 had 2,882 supporting members, Sasquan already has 5,410 supporting members. Why else would a such a large number of people step up to buy supporting memberships? Surely it can’t be just to read the Sad Puppy nominees in the Hugo Voter Packet.
There actually is one other possibility. Not only can supporting members vote in the Hugos, they also can buy a Site Selection membership and vote on where the 2017 Worldcon will take place. Four bids are vying for the right to host 2017 – Helsinki, Montreal, Nippon, and Washington D.C.
Site Selection voter turnout tends to peak when Eastern U.S. bids are in the race. Vincent Docherty’s compilation (click here to open spreadsheet) shows 2,564 people voted on the 1995 site (Glasgow beat Atlanta), a record that still stands. Then 2,168 voted on the 2001 site (Philadelphia beat Orlando), and 2,094 voted on the 2004 site (Boston beat Charlotte). These races rank one-two-three as the highest vote counts ever.
What’s more, quite often throughout Worldcon history the Site Selection vote count has vastly outnumbered the Hugo vote. (Although that was not true last year, when only 758 votes were cast to determine the 2016 Worldcon host.) Supporting members may do both, vote for the Hugos and in SiteSelection, but they often don’t.
So we’re all left waiting to discover the real reason behind the huge bump in supporting memberships.
The full press release follows the jump.
An initial report shows the 2014 Worldcon with a very small surplus – around £1,000.
The financial review came during a Loncon 3 post-mortem held at Smofcon 32 in December with co-chair Steve Cooper, division heads Helen Montgomery and Eemeli Aro, deputy division head Theresa (TR) Renner, and adviser Vincent Docherty. They distributed a handout at the session that summarized total income at £939,393.77 and expenses at £938,475.33, leaving an estimated surplus of £918.44 (a little less than US$1500).
Vince Docherty says of the initial estimate –
In regard to the figures we provided, note that we made those available with a strong health warning, as they are interim at best, and in the case of the financial figures, still subject to receiving final income or expenses and some items where we suspect a review will result in a cost reduction. These will ideally be resolved in time for the official finance report for Loncon 3 which will be presented at next year’s WSFS Business Meeting.
Kevin Standlee had this to say about the narrow margin:
While the convention was certainly successful, it’s frightening to read the financial figures that currently show a projected surplus of less than £1,000 on a gross of more than £900,000. Basically, Loncon 3 needed every one of those members to hold a once-in-a-generation Worldcon in an incredibly expensive city, and we shouldn’t expect a quick return.
Vince Docherty commented for File 770 —
I think that Kevin’s point has some general merit: London is very expensive and we knew we needed additional income as compared to Glasgow, though we also knew we would get more members by being in London, as Eastercons there have shown, with their much increased attendance. In fact we had many more members than originally expected, and were able to adjust the budget accordingly, over time. US (and Canadian) Worldcons typically generate about $1m of income and have costs of about three-quarters of that, which means they can afford reimbursements (typically ~$100k), Pass-along-funds and still leave a generous surplus for other things (which sometimes doesn’t get disbursed for many years!) and therefore can have a lighter-touch approach to budgeting.
- The Loncon 3 committee are still working on the numbers, but to help illustrate the discussion at SMOFcon we provided an informal snapshot of member and financial data for the SMOFcon discussion, which showed it was the largest Worldcon to date in terms of overall registrations (and one of the largest in warm bodies) and the largest in terms of budget in money-of-the-day;
- We expect L3 will at least have broken-even and might have a small amount of surplus, though it will take some time to finalise the details;
- This is normal for Worldcons outside North America, given the much higher facilities costs, and is consistent with the last two Glasgow Worldcons, which had final surpluses (before pass-along-funds, as a % of income) of about 3% and 7% respectively (*);
- The final financial figures also represent the result of a careful approach to budgeting and release of resources over time, which should not be understood as meaning we always expected to only have a safety margin of less than 1% – in fact a contingency of much more than that was always built into the budget and approval to proceed with committing to new things was only done once we were confident we could do so. As mentioned above, we hope the final balance will be more than the snaphshot report shows, once the various outstanding items are closed.
Loncon 3, economically, was a much larger project than the previous two UK Worldcons, both held in Glasgow (1995 and 2005).
That included some changes for the better: Loncon 3’s membership income was almost twice that of the 2005 Worldcon. The 2014 bid forwarded £77,830.20 of surplus funds to the con, compared with only £13,605 in 2005. And Loncon 3 received £50,396.75 in pass-along funds from recent Worldcons compared to £41,614 received by the 2005 con.
But Loncon 3 did not have the government help available to the Glasgow Worldcon in 2005, a £88,500 subvention grant provided by the Glasgow City Council to support large events.
That surely would have been welcome, considering the much higher facilities costs in London — Loncon 3’s facilities division estimates it spent £342,172 (about US$534,000). That is both a good deal more than the 2005 Glasgow Worldcon’s facilities expense – £263,474 – and vastly more than the budget of the San Antonio (2013) Worldcon’s Facilities Division — $82,000.
Other data: Loncon 3 also shared its refined membership and attendance statistics at Smofcon:
The total warm body count (including dealers with passes) was 7,310. The total number of individuals who joined in any capacity was 11,125.
The no-show rate for all attending types was approximately 11.3% (Attending 12.2%, Other 5 Day 18.0% and Day Admissions & Hall Passes 6.4%).
Fans attending Loncon 3 will find the halls are alive with the sound of music.
Says Vincent Docherty, Music Programme Area Head:
Many people’s experience of the subject is limited to film soundtracks and genre-influenced popular music albums. So, we are keen to step outside the familiar Western modes to also explore mythology, history, some aspects of religious practice, and links to science and modern science fiction and fantasy. We also want to look to future developments.
Loncon 3’s music programme will include:
The highlight will be Friday evening’s concert by the 86-piece Worldcon Philharmonic Orchestra, which will perform works related to science fiction and fantasy. The program will explore the historic connection between music and the genre, and include pieces that illustrate “the sound of the future.”
Featuring some of the UK’s finest musicians and soloists, including soprano Sarah Fox, and members of the London Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, and London Philharmonic Orchestras, the Worldcon orchestra will be led by Keith Slade (National Schools Symphony Orchestra and the Worcester Symphony Orchestra). There will be music from Holst’s The Planets, Dvorak’s ‘Song to the Moon’, Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, Shimomura’s Kingdom Hearts soundtrack, and John Williams’ Star Wars Suite, as well as a special memorial piece for Iain M Banks.
The concert program has been arranged by Adam Robinson. Vincent Docherty will host. The concert begins 8 p.m. Friday, August 15.
The full press release follows the jump.
Hugo Awards Administrator Vincent Docherty has posted his report of the 2011 voting statistics [PDF file] at the Hugo Awards site. There are tables showing the progress of the automatic runoffs in each category, and lists of runners-up from the nominating phase that reveal for the first time who else nearly made the final ballot. Here are some things that caught my eye.
Hugo Bleeps: A Hugo winner must get a majority of the votes. If, at the end of the first round, the nominee with the most first place votes hasn’t topped 50% there is a runoff. The lowest ranking nominee’s votes are redistributed to the people’s second choice (or next highest choice still in the runoff). The process repeats until someone or something gets a majority. The runoff in the Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form category illustrates how this works.
Rachel Bloom’s music video F*** Me, Ray Bradbury led after the first round with 366 first place votes. Fans of Doctor Who had scattered their votes among three nominated episodes but they generally ranked every Doctor Who entry ahead of Bloom’s song, so although Bloom led through the early elimination rounds she was destined to lose.
Collectively, No Award and the first two Doctor Who episodes to be eliminated received 535 first place votes. When they were redistributed in subsequent rounds FMRB picked up only 45 of these votes, while Doctor Who:The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang gathered in 296 and moved into first place.
Still, none of the three nominees left in the runoff had achieved a majority. The Lost Thing was eliminated next: its votes broke 152 for Doctor Who and 106 for FMRB, sealing a win for the Doctor.
(By the way, can anybody explain why, when clips from the Best Dramatic Presentation nominees were shown during the Hugo Ceremony, FMRB was cut off right before Rachel Bloom sang the title phrase? The unexpurgated title was all over the video screen and freely used by the presenter. It seemed strange that anyone was so demure about editing the clip.)
The Closest Races: The tightest races this year were in the two artist categories.
Brad Foster won the Best Fan Artist Hugo by a single vote over Randall Munroe. Foster trailed far behind Munroe in every round until Maurine Starkey was eliminated. When her votes were redistributed they broke 99 for Foster and 42 for Munroe, a wave of support that was just enough to put Foster over the top.
The Best Professional Artist category was not as dramatic but it was close, with Shaun Tan edging Daniel Dos Santos by 14 votes.
Can’t Explain It: When File 770 got eliminated from the runoff in the Best Fanzine category, 36 of its votes went to StarShip Sofa, 96 to The Drink Tank. I was croggled to discover anyone who’d vote for File 770 would rank StarShip Sofa ahead of Chris Garcia’s fanzine. Another stereotype bites the dust.
No Award: Voters cast 870 ballots in the Best Fanzine category but 110 had No Award in first place. That was just about the weakest showing overall. No Award votes by category:
Best Novel 37, Novella 57, Novelette 57, Short Story 86, Related Work 46, Graphic Story 70, BDP Long 55, BDP Short 85, Best Editor Short 67, Best Editor Long 91, Best Professional Artist 37, Best Semiprozine 56, Best Fanzine 110, Best Fanwriter 133, Best Fanartist 134
Altogether, five Hugo nominees received fewer first place votes than No Award — 2 in Best Editor Long Form, 1 in Best Fanzine, 1 in Best Fan Writer and 1 in Best Fan Artist.
The Missing Short Story: The report of nominating votes revealed the unlucky author of the fifth Best Short Story nominee which was ruled out of competition by the 5% rule: “Elegy for a Young Elk” by Hannu Rajaniemi (4.85%).
Dramatic Anticlimaxes: I was interested to see that Metropolis (2010 restoration) got as many as 18 nominating votes, regardless that it fell far short of the final ballot.
On the other hand, no one will be surprised to learn that besides the 3 Doctor Who episodes which made the final ballot in Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form, another 4 episodes were among the next 6 works getting the most nominating votes.
More Bang for the Buck: There were 7 nominees for Best Professional Editor, Long Form instead of the usual 5 this year, and everyone knew the extra ones had to be the product of a tie for fifth place.
Now we know the rest of the story. David G. Hartwell and Patrick Nielsen Hayden declined nomination in the Best Professional Editor, Long Form category after receiving sufficient votes to qualify. Their gracious gesture ended up lifting not two but three other editors onto the final ballot — a trio originally tied for 7th place.
Fanzines Without Pages: How did non-magazine contenders for the Best Fanzine Hugo fare? Podcasts receiving significant nominating votes besides StarShip Sofa were Jonathan Strahan’s Notes from Coode Street blog and podcast (6th, just 1 vote shy of reaching the final ballot) and Galactic Suburbia (10th). Website SF Signal ranked 11th.
Just Missed: Dave Langford’s Ansible and Cheryl Morgan’s Salon Futura were the two semiprozines receiving the most nominating votes, apart from the five finalists.
In the Best Fan Artist category, Spring Schoenhuth came within one vote of making the final ballot (which would have tied her with Randall Munroe). She is a popular Bay Area jewelry maker, designer of the Campbell Pin and has written for The Drink Tank.
I promised I’d return to Aidan Moher’s questions about the fan Hugo nominees:
But don’t even get me started on the Best Fanzine and Best Fan Writer awards. Maybe I’m exposing my ignorance here, but beyond StarShip Sofa, I haven’t heard of a damn one, nor am I familiar with any of the writers. My beef, obviously, is the lack of presence of blogs, bloggers and online writers. Where’re the Nialls (Harrison and Alexander)? Where’s Abigail Nussbaum or Adam Whitehead? No nod for SF Signal? Really?
Really? Are we to assume from Moher’s tone that there’s a consensus about the best work in the field accepted by everyone except the actual Hugo voters?
There’s no consensus – there’s not even a plurality of opinion. Not among fandom at large and not among those dinosaurs the “traditional fanzine fans.”
Look how many different things were nominated in the fan categories this year – 119 fanzines, 225 fan writers. The leading fan writer (whoever that is) appeared only on 22% of the ballots. It was possible to reach the finals in Best Fanzine or Best Fan Artist with support of just 13% of the voters, and in Best Fan Writer with only 9%. Four-fifths of the voters might easily be asking if everyone else really neglected their favorites, but filling in the blank with names Moher never mentioned:
|Best Fan Writer||323||225||30||0.09||70||0.22|
|Best Fan Artist||176||97||23||0.13||46||0.26|
I happen to agree that Moher’s examples are, indeed, excellent. The thing is — there’s a lot of quality work being done, many admired writers, and the voters in the fan categories are passionate about a wide variety of choices. They have such a diversity of interests that there’s no justification for Moher to take on so, as if his examples of the most award-worthy fan writers or fanzines are so superior they’re the only ones anyone should embrace.
The Not So Great Divide: Moher’s complaint about a “lack of presence of blogs, bloggers and online writers” among the nominees appeals to the idea there is divide between people who engage in online fanac and… uh… come to think of it, who exactly is supposed to be on the other side of that divide?
Everybody uses the Web now. The Cool Kids and the Old Pharts haven’t been divided between pixels and paper for years. Did you notice there were only 14 paper ballots out of 1006 cast?
In hindsight, I believe the separation of various fan communities was not a technological divide but was a byproduct of people’s attempt to define fandom in a way that allowed them to believe they were keeping up with the part that mattered (therefore making it okay to ignore the rest.) Time is finite and interests vary with the individual, few fans have the desire or resources to participate in the full spectrum. That’s a social dynamic at work, not a byproduct of choices in communication technology.
There may be a divide of a different kind at work currently. Aren’t most of Moher’s examples distinguished by their passion for discussing sf & fantasy? Don’t most of the present fan Hugo finalists focus on fandom and social interests rather than discussions of genre literature? In the last culture war between faanish and sercon fans, the former were offended by all those darn book review zines hogging space on the Hugo ballot. I wonder if we haven’t cycled around to a version of this controversy again.
Despite our milieu being called “science fiction fandom” we often underestimate how much a quality discussion of science fiction or life inside the writing business appeals to fans. Would Fred Pohl have won a Best Fan Writer Hugo if every post was about the bheer can tower to the moon or something equally skiffy?
This pendulum swings back and forth as time passes and varies which interest dominates the Hugo ballot.
Legislated Change: When the “Making the Web Eligible” amendments to the Hugo rules took effect in 2010 many fans predicted they would yield a radically different slate of nominees – a prospect filling some with delight and others with dread. Those predictions came true. The winner of the 2010 Best Fanzine Hugo, StarShip Sofa, was a podcast. Three first-timers were up for the Best Fan Writer Hugo, two bloggers, those overnight sensations James Nicoll and Fred Pohl, plus letterhack Lloyd Penney.
Yet in 2011 voters returned some of the old standbys to the final ballot, so it’s not as if an asteroid struck the earth last year and wiped out the dinosaurs.
Why Does It Look This Way? Three factors seem to have moderated the change everyone predicted.
First, the growing participation in the Hugos — a record 1006 Worldcon members cast nominating ballots in 2011 — hasn’t impacted the fan categories. The average voter isn’t interested in fanac and leaves that part of the ballot blank.
Second, veteran fans with somewhat convergent ideas about fanzines still exert leverage on the Hugo nominating process, as I’ll explain.
Third, voters don’t know what “Making the Web Eligible” made eligible that wasn’t before. The amended rules failed to provide clear direction. This vagueness makes newcomers shy away from participating in the fan categories. People only vote when they’re somewhat confident about what they’re supposed to be voting for.
White Space: Hugo Administrator Vincent Docherty’s statistical summary shows that while practically every voter nominated something in the Best Novel category, with 83% participation, the typical ballot otherwise left many of categories completely blank.
|Total Ballots = 1006||Votes Cast in Category||Percentage of All Ballots|
|Best Short Story||515||0.51|
|Best Related Work||375||0.37|
|Best Graphic Story||287||0.29|
|BDP, Long Form||510||0.51|
|BDP, Short Form||394||0.39|
|Best Editor, Short||425||0.42|
|Best Editor, Long||300||0.30|
|Best Pro Artist||406||0.40|
|Best Fan Writer||323||0.32|
|Best Fan Artist||176||0.17|
My interpretation of these statistics is that they show voters nominate in categories where they feel a higher level of confidence in their knowledge about what deserves an award — and skip the rest.
Something else I believe is true, though it can’t be proven with the voting stats, is this:
Most Hugo voters don’t read fanzines.
Most Hugo voters don’t read blogs by fans.
Because most Hugo voters don’t read fan writing, which is what your typical fanzine or fannish blog is filled with. It really makes no difference whether the fan writing is online or what format it’s in.
Most Hugo voters don’t know any names to write down in the fan categories, so most of them don’t nominate in the fan categories.
Ballots Better Than Bullets: That leaves those of us who think we do know something about the subject to thresh things out. And the numbers show in the Best Fanzine category that the people who are sure they know what a fanzine is and have an opinion about what the best ones are, simply by filling out their ballots completely, wield a surprising degree of influence over what makes the final ballot. This can be inferred from the voting statistics.
In every category a great many voters cast “bullet votes” — they write down just one or two selected friends or favorites. Here’s how we know that. Remember, a voter can nominate up to five items in each category. Now look at the Best Novel category:
|Total Ballots = 1006||
|Best Short Story||515||1538||2.99|
|Best Related Work||375||729||1.94|
|Best Graphic Story||287||660||2.30|
|BDP, Long Form||510||1283||2.52|
|BDP, Short Form||394||1036||2.63|
|Best Editor, Short||425||1105||2.60|
|Best Editor, Long||300||629||2.10|
|Best Pro Artist||406||1058||2.61|
|Best Fan Writer||323||912||2.82|
|Best Fan Artist||176||462||2.63|
Docherty reports voters made 2657 total nominations. Therefore, 2657 divided by 833 ballots equals an average of 3.19 nominations per ballot.
Working through the rest of the ballot there’s surprising consistency — nearly every category averaged 2-3 nominations or less per ballot.
Some voters are filling in four or five slots on their ballots, so that overall low average can only be achieved if a large proportion of the other voters write in just a single nominee – casting bullet votes.
Without looking at the ballots, which isn’t allowed, no one can tell which nominees were helped by bullet voting, and that’s beside the point. My purpose is to show how prevalent bullet votes must be.
I believe we fannish voters continue to have a greater impact for the very reason that we do put something in all five spaces. If, after I fire one of my bullets for File 770, I follow it with another for Challenger (which is a terrific fanzine), give the third to The Drink Tank and so on – that collectively lifts a certain community of fanzines above the background noise. Even a small convergence of this kind influences the outcome.
Why Johnny Can’t Define “Issue”: A few months ago I was happy to get an e-mail from the Hugo Administrator telling me File 770 was nominated. The e-mail also asked me to verify that I was eligible in the category:
We’re delighted to inform you that File 770 has been nominated for a Hugo Award in the category of Best Fanzine. The Best Fanzine category is for any generally available non-professional publication devoted to science fiction, fantasy, or related subjects which by the close of 2010 has published four (4) or more issues (or the equivalent in other media), at least one (1) of which appeared in the previous calendar year, and which does not qualify as a semiprozine.
Can you confirm this requirement and do you accept the nomination in this category?
Easy for me to answer that affirmatively, I had a paper issue out last year. All the other finalists had distinct issues, too.
Were any of the prospective nominees blog creators, who read this paragraph and decided their work didn’t qualify and declined the nomination? I doubt it. Nobody on the verge of making the final ballot will think, “I’ve made 200 blog posts but I’m not sure if that’s the equivalent of four issues, so I’d better turn down this nomination.”
But I do suspect that Hugo voters are deterred from nominating things that don’t come in easily-definable issues. Maybe they should be. Last year John Scalzi, seconded by Cheryl Morgan, advanced the idea that their blogs were not fanzines or related works, setting an example to the effect that bloggers should be recognized only in the Best Fan Writer category.
No way of really deciding who’s right – the authors of “Making the Web Eligible” failed to say what “the equivalent in other media” is. And because fans shy away from voting in categories unless they’re confident in their knowledge, don’t you suppose the lack of an explicit definition chills participation?
Vincent Docherty, Hugo Administrator for 2010 and again in 2011, provided helpful guidance last year that made it clear the voters collectively would have the most say about what qualifies:
In summary, unless I feel very certain a work is technically ineligible, (which includes having only a trivial amount of new material), I will accept the will of the nominators. It is therefore up to the electorate to act as the jury on the facts and answer the question: ‘Is this work a fanzine (or semiprozine or Related Work) or not?‘
Of course the rules change was nicknamed “Making the Web Eligible” for a reason – the movers did not intend that only things looking like paper magazines would be allowed into contention as fanzines, otherwise they need not have changed the rules.
Last year the three online non-magazine publications receiving the most nominations for Best Fanzine, besides winner StarShip Sofa, were SF Signal (17), Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus (13), and The Way the Future Blogs (11). They may make it yet.
Conclusion: I hate to say it, but the infinite audience of the internet mostly avoids reading our fascinating verbiage, whether it appears on a hip happening blog or in a bilious old PDF file at eFanzines. Everybody wishes they drew like Scalzi at Whatever. Most are lucky to draw like Glyer at File 770. Enormous numbers of people online have an interest in sf – it’s mainstream now. How many are engaged in fannish activities like fan writing, con running, publishing, etc. How many are connected to the Worldcon community whose members vote on the Hugos?
We have fannish communities with varied interests and tastes and while it’s typical of the age to assume the other side is biased and corrupt, in fact it’s everyone’s privilege to like what they like. The prospects with the most support will make the final ballot, which is how the Hugos are designed to work.
(P.S. I note that SF Awards Watch has done its own exploration of the voting stats in “A New Hugo Award Podcast”. If this post was inspired by their work I’d happily admit it, but it’s not.)
Update 05/23/2011: Fixed one table — thanks to Mike K. Discovered I had copied another test calculation which isn’t discussed in this post.
Hugo Administrator Vincent Docherty, as is customary, has published statistics about the total 2011 Hugo nominating ballots received, with summary figures for each category such as the high/low vote ranges of nominees. They appear as an inclusion with the final ballot [PDF file] at the Renovation website.
In 2011 the minimum number of votes to make the ballot in the Best Fanzine category was 43, in Best Fan Writer, 30, and in Best Fan Artist, 23. All this despite the record number of nominating ballots, 1006.
Judged by the minimum number of votes needed to get on the final ballot, it was actually tougher for a fanzine or fan writer to get nominated than in four professional categories where stories or editors made the cut with less than 30 votes – Best Novelette, Best Short Story (which was truncated to four nominees because all others failed the 5% rule), Best Graphic Story and Best Editor, Long Form (where a tie for the fifth spot resulted in a total of seven nominees).
Vince Docherty had the Hugo Award voting and nominating statistics available right after the awards, though it took awhile for them to make it online. The report is now here (PDF file).
In the Best Fanzine category I was most interested in learning how Banana Wings placed, knowing how many fanzine fans have said it is the best zine going. (I’ve even heard this from several of File 770’s main contributors who didn’t feel they needed to sugar coat the truth for me!) Banana Wings placed second — a very competitive finish. It received exactly half as many first place votes as Starship Sofa but closed the gap during the the automatic runoff, ending just 46 behind the winner.
I was surprised that when File 770 was eliminated after the fifth round as many as 22 voters listed Starship Sofa as their next choice (the other 46 with a preference going to Banana Wings). People’s tastes aren’t as predictable as I sometimes think…
I’m not completely sure what to make of the fact that 89 ballots ranked No Award higher than Starship Sofa. In comparison, 48 ranked No Award higher than Banana Wings. However, it appears all other nominees had more than 50 No Award votes ahead of them. Maybe some people were making a statement about the category, not the nominees?