Best Series Hugo Committee Report Online

The motion to add a Best Series Hugo, discussed on File 770 last year by its former title in “New Draft of Best Saga Proposal”, and the follow-up “Final Revision of Best Series Hugo Proposal Now Online”, was sent to committee by the 2015 Sasquan Business Meeting at the drafters’ request.

That committee has returned its report, which is available in the Agenda for the MidAmeriCon II Business Meeting.

Warren Buff, the committee chair, commented:

The report features a substantially revised motion from last year, although the numbers have remained the same.

We put this through the wringer, and believe that this is the best proposal we can assemble in terms of defining a series in a way that’s easily understood and balancing the issues inherent in a work that might never be completed, but is nonetheless meant to be enjoyed as a coherent whole. I won’t hold forth by copying the entire report, but will include the concluding paragraph:

“In our discussions, we have approached the topic from the perspectives of writers, editors, academics, Hugo Administrators, and fans who read series with varying degrees of enjoyment. This proposal does not represent everyone’s ideal take on how to recognize series, but instead the most viable compromise position we could reach, and we recommend its passage.”

The members of the committee are Warren Buff (chair), Jared Dashoff, Todd Dashoff, Eric Flint, Chris Gerrib, Tim Illingworth, Joshua Kronengold, Bill Lawhorn, Michael Lee, Simon Litten, Farah Mendlesohn, Mark Olson, Steve Saffel, Pablo Vazquez, Peter de Weerdt, Clark Wierda.

The full text of the report is here. Included are minority reports from Chris Gerrib and Joshua Kronengold containing their own recommended motions, and from Mark Olson, who thinks the category should not be added at all.

2 thoughts on “Best Series Hugo Committee Report Online

  1. I’m rather sad to see this post left so lonely without comments. Since I haven’t yet got a clear view on the substantive issue, let me just say that I’m glad that they both recognise a difference between YA and middle grade, and realise that Hugo voters might actually want to honour middle grade works. Perhaps they should have a word with the YA committee…

  2. The continued silence on this topic suggests that it will either pass unanimously or be defeated unanimously; but anyway, having read the report and reflected on it, here’s my view.

    It seems to me there is a good reason why a particular kind of series fiction does not do well in the Hugos: since it requires knowledge of the characters and setting in order either to understand what is happening or to care about it, it will not be accessible to all of the voting body. For the kind of series fiction that often dominates the market, the audience of later volumes is, in effect, established fans of the series. But the Hugo voting system is set up to encourage consideration and comparison of works; it’s not just meant to be a counting of existing fans. There’s also the simple question ‘when will we read the stuff?’ – we clearly can’t read five series in the time available (or even, say, three series, if we suppose that the average voter is already familiar with two). When I asked about this before, a proponent of the award said they expected us just to vote for what we were already familiar with; but this doesn’t seem to me to be entirely in the spirit of the Hugos.

    Now that might be a reason for just throwing the proposal out; but I do have some sympathy with the idea that some series have a value as a whole which is greater than that of any individual volume, and they deserve to be honoured. So I’m inclined to think that, despite what the committee says, it should be Not A Hugo. Although there’s no demarcation problem as there is with the YA award, there is a duplication problem: since series fiction won’t, I take it, be ineligible for Best Novel, it’s possible that both an individual work and the series it belongs to will be finalists in the same year, which seems rather odd. Making it not a Hugo might alleviate this, though you could say that as they were both Worldcon awards, it wouldn’t make it go away entirely. In addition, making it Not A Hugo would, I think, make it less problematic that it calls for a rather different kind of voting from the Hugos.

Comments are closed.