Anti-Fan Mail

A fan named Jason wrote this e-mail to the official Hugo Awards website to voice his deep dissatisfaction with the Best Novel of 2003:

I recently bought a novel by an author I did not know based on the fact that he had won a Hugo award for his science fiction. The novel called Hominids had to be one of the worst books I have ever read, and I will never again purchase a book on the recommendation of the “Hugo Award.” You do yourself and the genre of science fiction a great disservice when you promote such work as legitimate and award worthy.

Please feel free to share my criticism with whomever you feel would benefit from it.

And so I shall. While I have no complaint about Hominids, I still haven’t forgiven the Hugo voters for choosing Bladerunner over E.T. as Best Dramatic Presentation of 1983, so I believe to that extent I feel Jason’s pain.

In my reply, I asked Jason to keep in mind that the Hugos are selected by a popular vote of members of the year’s World Science Fiction Convention. Every book generates its own bell-shaped curve of fans and haters. I rarely agree with all the Hugo winners myself, but I chalk it up to divergent tastes and that darned democracy thing at work again.

Fans’ tastes are highly divergent. I’ve seen blog entries declaring all kinds of Hugo winners unworthy of the award — including Zelazny’s “And Call Me Conrad” and even me, come to think of it.

P.S. to Jason: Feel free to join this year’s convention and become a voter. By all means, air your views about your favorite (and not so favorite) sf. And there’s nothing preventing you from Googling Robert J. Sawyer’s webpage and telling him what you think directly. Just don’t say I sent you.

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7 thoughts on “Anti-Fan Mail

  1. Well, tastes of course do differ. I liked Bladerunner.

    What was interesting at the time was that “everyone” was saying that ET was going to win.

    I was one of three people who knew the winner – the other two were: Bill Evans – Hugo Administrator, and the engraver of the award plate for the Hugo.

    There are times when I think a “do over” Hugo Award might be amusing. But only momentarily …

  2. Opinions do vary. I thought, and still do, that Bladerunner is one of a small handful of excellent SF movies. And I thought then, and still do, that E.T. was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen in any genre. I guess it’s a good thing that there are so many movies.

  3. Dave: I thought Bladerunner was excellent, too. How can you be so right about one movie and….

  4. I’m closer to Dave Locke’s opinion; I thought E.T. was saccharine, utterly predictable, just uninteresting, tripe: Spielberg’s most boring and least worthwhile film. I think Blade Runner is a touch over-rated, but only because it’s the center of a cult of worship; as a visual experience, I think it’s wonderful.

  5. In 1977 Close Encounters depicted Roy Neary as the archetype of the Proud And Lonely Fan. Nobody else looked at the world as he did. Science fiction was clearly a cult interest, if you will.

    Just 4-1/2 years later, <E. T. was the first science fiction movie in which science fiction itself was depicted as part of the mass culture.

    E. T. is in its own way anthropological science fiction, the first depiction of a cultural shift still reverberating today.

  6. Arthur Hlavaty, in Trufen back in 7/00, amused me with: “One needn’t be a horrible old curmudgeon to dislike E.T. As Bernadette said, “I hadn’t cried so hard since ‘Lad, a Dog.’ Then I realized: it was ‘Lad, a Dog.'”

  7. I’m another one who far preferred Blade Runner, imperfect as it was, over E.T.

    I haven’t read Hominids, or anything by its author, but I gave up on the Hugos representing my tastes when The Fountains of Paradise won Best Novel in 1980.

    There’s not a Hugo-winning novel, or movie, out there that somebody doesn’t loathe.

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