Whyte: Comments on the 2022 Hugo Awards Study Committee Report

By Nicholas Whyte: Way back in 2017, my then Deputy Hugo Administrator and I proposed that a study committee should be set up by the WSFS Business Meeting to revise the Best Professional Artist and Best Fan Artist categories, which are difficult to understand and hugely out of date. The Business Meeting amended our resolution, with our consent, to create a Hugo Award Study Committee (HASC) with a broad remit to “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; [and] make recommendations, which may include proposing constitutional amendments, to the 2018 Business Meeting.”

In the last five years, the HASC has changed precisely two words of the Constitution. (Since you asked: adding the words “or Comic” to the title of the “Best Graphic Story” category.) The HASC’s defenders will complain that we had two years of pandemic, and that the committee switched to Discord rather than email only this year, and that there are lots of proposals this year. But the fact remains that so far the practical impact has been slower than I imagined when I first proposed the Committee.

There is now a detailed report of its activities in the last year and proposals for the coming WSFS Business meeting in Chicago. (Pages 56-77 of the Business Meeting agenda., with individual proposals discussed on pages 33 to 44.) Individual areas are broken out into separate headings with a named set of subcommittee members and a Chair and Sub-Chair. I am one of the signatories to the report, but I have also several dissents, as I will explain below.

My first point of dissent is in the introduction. Unfortunately, I did not feel that discussion was always respectful or effective, and it felt at times like a closed group of people which should have found a better way of reaching out to wider fandom. I do not think that the Committee’s mandate should be extended for another year, and if it is, I would like to see new leadership. The first draft of the report called for the current Chair to continue, but after much wrangling, that recommendation was deleted by a formal majority vote of the Committee. I am grateful to the current leadership for their work, but I think a change of tone will be healthy. Volunteers interested in facilitating inclusive and constructive discussions will be very welcome. (Assuming that the Business Meeting ignores my advice and renews the Committee; more on that later.)

Going through the subcommittees:

BEST RELATED WORK

Here the HASC makes no recommendations, and I agree. I certainly prefer when this category goes to prose non-fiction commentary, but I can’t find it in my heart to say that the voters got it wrong in the last three years when they chose other things. (Archive Of Our Own, Jeannette Ng’s Campbell Award acceptance speech, and Maria Dahvana Headley’s Beowulf translation.) And if we carved off non-fiction prose into its own category, as some would prefer, I don’t really think that there is enough other material to reliably populate an “everything else” category.

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION

Here the HASC also makes no recommendations, and I also agree. Any further split will mean an increase in the number of Hugo categories, to honour winners who do not always show a lot of interest in our process. The discussion did not really seem to reflect the proposals I have seen from wider fandom.

BEST AUDIOBOOK

Here the HASC again makes no recommendations, and again I agree. For any new Hugo category proposal, I would like to see evidence (1) that it’s responding to the demands of a significant market share of fandom, (2) that it’s redressing an injustice in the current set-up for works loved by fans which are not getting on the ballot in existing categories, and (3) that it would be an appropriate thing for Hugo voters to vote on. I don’t see a problem here with the third of these criteria, but there is no clear case for the first two.

This was business referred to the HASC by the 2021 Business Meeting. It would have been preferable to give the Audiobook proposal a clean death in 2021, rather than sentence it to suffocation by committee.

BEST GAME OR INTERACTIVE WORK

A new Hugo category is proposed. I think this is very good, and despite my general dislike of new categories, it clearly meets my three criteria above (that it’s responding to the demands of a significant market share of fandom, that it’s redressing an injustice in the current set-up for works loved by fans which are not getting on the ballot in existing categories, and that it would be an appropriate thing for Hugo voters to vote on). This is something that both fans and the wider public can get excited about. Procedurally, it should be noted that this was largely the work of one activist supported by an ad hoc committee, refined by discussion with HASC members.

BEST SERIES

This is one of three discussions where the HASC seriously lost its way. Best Series very narrowly survived an attempt to sunset it in 2021 by 35 votes to 30. The report declares, contra all evidence other than wishful thinking, that the “fundamental problem” with the category is “the possibility of a work being nominated for both Best Novel/Novella/ Novelette/Short Story and for Best Series (as a component), leading to reduced chances for other works to be nominated or win”, and therefore proposes two amendments.

The first of these amendments disqualifies from Best Series any series any of whose component parts has ever won a Hugo in any written category. The second makes it against the rules for the same material to appear on the same year’s ballot both on its own and as part of a series.

The immediate impact of both of these amendments will be to increase headaches for Hugo administrators, who will have to disqualify popular works that people have actually voted for, just because the 2021-22 Best Series subcommittee thinks that voters have been Doing It Wrong. There will also be some interesting judgment calls about exactly what works fall into or out of a particular series.

Both amendments also decrease the pool of eligible nominees by eliminating the ones that are too popular or too long-running. If either of these is passed, when the statistics come out and it becomes clear which nominees have been disqualified, it’s not the 2021-22 Best Series subcommittee who will get the blame, it will be that year’s administrators.

Cards on the table: I opposed the creation of Best Series at the time, and I’d have voted to kill it if I’d been in DC last year, and I’ll vote to kill it again if I ever get a chance. But this is not the moment to re-hash those arguments; we are where we are, and I would prefer that if we are to have a Best Series award at all, voters get to decide what works they want to honour, with no more intrusion from the rules than is strictly necessary. Both amendments should be rejected.

BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST AND BEST FAN ARTIST

This is the bit that I wrote, with much welcome input from others, on an issue that was core to the founding of the Committee and has been referred back more than once by WSFS Business Meetings. The old definitions of the Artist categories are very out of date. Professional Artist basically means “Illustrator”. “Fan Artist” has a long list of eligible venues for publication which however is not exhaustive. I have had some pushback that the proposed Fan Artist amendment does not explicitly mention fanzines or conventions; the fact is that categories that are defined by place of publication or display will always run the risk of becoming outdated. So we have looked instead at the economics.

The proposal is to define Fan Art as art that is not produced for professional profit, and Professional Art as art that is produced for professional profit. If you’ve done three or more pieces of art in the last year that weren’t paid for at the time (might have been sold subsequently), then you will be eligible for Best Fan Artist. If you’ve done three or more pieces of art in the last year that were paid for at the time, then you will be eligible for Best Professional Artist. And if you’ve done both, you will be eligible for both. Selling your fan art after it’s been first displayed at a convention doesn’t make you eligible for Pro Artist in itself, because it was created for the convention, not directly for sale.

We went back and forth on this quite a bit, but the artist community indicated that they were happy with where we ended up. I am sure that it is capable of further refinement, but it’s a huge step forward from the status quo. The proposal opens up both categories to artists who were previously excluded, and decreases the burden on Hugo administrators to make tricky eligibility calls. (Or, for instance, to try and explain the concept of Semiprozines to artists who speak no English and have no connection to Worldcon fandom.) It will continue to be possible that an artist could qualify in both categories. I for one can live with that, if it is what fans choose to vote for.

FAN VS PRO

I did not understand this discussion, and I still don’t. It was supposedly driven by an incorrect perception that for the Artist categories, “at the root of the issue is a lack in the Constitution of a single definition for ‘Professional’, ‘Non-Professional’, or ‘Fan’.” I did not pay too much attention to the internal discussion, as I didn’t see the point of it, and also we were told that no new constitutional amendment on this would be formally proposed by the HASC.

Then suddenly at the last moment it turned out that such an amendment had been proposed by the HASC leadership, without the HASC as a whole being informed that this was happening. This proposal in particular went down like a lead balloon in some quarters of fandom, and the way it was handled was not appreciated by a number of HASC members, including me.

A minority opinion has been posted in the HASC report, expressing the entirely correct view that this should never have been proposed without wider community consultation. (In fact, the minority is rather close to being a majority.) I agree with most of it, and have co-signed, with a caveat: I am not certain that the problem (if there is one) should be addressed in this way at all, i.e. with a global definition of Fan and Pro. My instinct is that, if changes are needed, it may be better to do that category by category, as is proposed with Best Professional Artist and Best Fan Artist.

Even if this or something similar is passed, the specific definitions in the Best Artist categories (both as they currently are, and if my proposed amendments are passed) will take precedence for those categories, as will any other specific definitions elsewhere; and that nullified the supposed basis for the whole discussion.

THRESHOLDS

This is the third category where the HASC seriously lost the run of itself. Two amendments are proposed, and I have signed a minority report opposing both. The current rule is that the total first preference vote for finalists in a particular category is less than 25% of the whole Hugo poll, that category is No Awarded. The first proposed amendment changes that to the lesser of 25% or 200 votes.

To have a 25% threshold makes the lower-participation categories very vulnerable to a future year when loads of people join Worldcon to vote for the previous year’s howling commercial success in Best Novel or Best Dramatic Presentation, and nothing else. As for the 200 votes option, I am leery of hardwiring numerical thresholds into the constitution, given that it will take two years to change if we turn out to have got the wrong number.

Really, it would be better (as others outside the HASC have proposed, and as the minority report recommends) to simply abolish the threshold. It has never been used. No Award has on occasion won the preference ballot, most recently in 2018; and there is also a provision that if a majority of voters prefer No Award to the candidate which would otherwise have won, the category is No Awarded. The threshold is superfluous to those provisions, and brings unnecessary risk.

The second and final proposed amendment sets conditions under which the Business Meeting would consider the abolition of low-participation Hugo categories. I simply don’t think it is appropriate for the Constitution to direct and potentially constrain future Business Meetings in that way. If the point ever comes that we need to abolish a category, we’ll know it without the constitution telling us so. I’ll have more to say on that once this year’s award cycle is over.

CONTINUATION

As I said at the start, I do not think that the Hugo Awards Study Committee should be continued. Despite five years of existence, no new proposals have emerged on Best Related Work, Best Dramatic Presentation, or Best Audiobook, and those discussions should now return to the wider community. Good proposals have been made this year on Best Game / Interactive Work and (cough) the Best Artist categories, but bad proposals have been made on Best Series (two of them!), thresholds (another two!), and the supposed need to hardwire definitions of Fan and Pro into the constitution (proposed without the approval of Committee members).

The risk of establishing a separate Study Committee for a body like WSFS is that a few vocal participants will use it to promote their own hobby-horses, and present them to the Business Meeting with the veneer of committee support. There’s no easy way to prevent this, in what is, after all, a volunteer body. Appointing new leadership will be helpful, but is probably not sufficient.

I believe that it would be better to disband the Study Committee, now that the job has been done on Best Game and the Artist categories (and, years ago, the title change to “Best Graphic Story or Comic”). In future the Business Meeting can and should set up ad hoc specialist groups to look at particular issues as required, just as it has done in the past, without the overthinking that has happened recently as a result of silo-ing the discussion, and with more openness to stakeholders outside the Business Meeting itself.

Chicon 8 Posts Updated Business Meeting Agenda 

Chicon 8, the 2022 Worldcon, published an expanded draft of the Business Meeting agenda on August 7. It can be downloaded here. (Subsequent updates will be found on Chicon 8’s Business Meeting page.) The full text of the proposals plus supporting statements are at the link.

In addition to the proposed rules changes and resolutions listed when the first Business Meeting Agenda was posted are the following items:

STANDING RULE CHANGES

C.1 Short Title: Making Business Meeting Feedback Possible

C.2 Short Title: If You Don’t Have To Print, Neither Do We

(See Agenda for text of the proposed rules changes and supporting statements.)

RESOLUTIONS

D.5 Short Title: Solidarity with Ukraine

Resolved, that it is the spirit of the Business Meeting to offer solidarity with Ukrainian Fans, recognizing that Ukraine has been invaded by fascists. We encourage all to boycott those who would platform or champion the illegal invasion. The Business Meeting looks forward to a return of freedom and fandom to Ukraine.

Proposed by: Borys Sydiuk, James Bacon, Erin Underwood, Chris Garcia, Kelly Buehler, Frank Kalisz, Mike Glyer, Ian Stockdale, Dave Farmer, and Chuck Serface

D.6 Short Title: Sergey Lukianenko

Resolved, that it is the spirit of the Business Meeting to show solidarity with Ukrainian fans and to condemn Worldcon 2023’s Guest of Honour, Sergey Lukianenko’s appalling utterances, calling Ukrainians Nazis and encouraging an illegal invasion of Ukraine. This is utterly unacceptable. Lukianenko should neither be platformed nor celebrated, and we ask the Chengdu 2023 committee, fans and members to refuse Sergei Lukianenko as your guest. It is shameful that he is honoured by Worldcon.

Proposed by: Borys Sydiuk, James Bacon, Erin Underwood, Chris Garcia, Kelly Buehler, Frank Kalisz, Mike Glyer, Ian Stockdale, Dave Farmer, and Chuck Serface

NEW CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS

F.8 Short Title: Best Game or Interactive Work

The proposal is discussed in the Best Game or Interactive Work Report:

The updated Agenda concludes with a 24-page report of the Hugo Award Study Committee, which contains reports from other subcommittees.

Also of interest is that in the updated agenda the membership of the Hugo Awards Study Committee has been reduced from 43 to 28 names:

The Hugo Awards Study Committee (“HASC”) for 2019-2020 consisted of Cliff Dunn (Chair); Kate Secor (Co-Chair); Ira Alexandre, Alison Scott and Dave Hook (Subcommittee Chairs); Nana Amuah, Terri Ash, Michelle Cobb, John Coxon, Todd Dashoff, Lindadee, Vincent Docherty, Martin Easterbrook, Farah, Erica Frank, Kat Jones, Joshua Kronengold, Terry Neil, Lisa Padol, Martin Pyne, riverpa, Claire Rousseau, Alison Scott, Sparkle, Kári Tulinius, Jo Van, Nicholas Whyte, and Ben Yalow.

Chicon 8 Site Selection Update

With slightly more than a month remaining until the 2022 Worldcon begins, the Chicon 8 committee has not yet opened Site Selection voting. However, they announced today that there will be a Q&A session with the 2024 Worldcon and 2023 NASFiC bidders via Zoom on August 6. Chicon 8 members will be emailed full details on how to register for the Q&A and the opening of Site Selection on Monday, August 1.

There are filed bids for the 2024 Worldcon from Glasgow, and for the 2023 NASFiC from Winnipeg and Orlando. (Their filing documents are here).

The Zoom Q&A session with bidders will begin Saturday, August 6th, at 12:00 p.m. Central. Representatives from the bids will give a short presentation, then answer questions submitted Chicon 8 membership.

WOOF at Chicon 8

By Chris Garcia: Dearly beloved, it is my charmed duty to announce that yes, there will be a WOOF at Chicon 8 – The Ocho!

What’s WOOF, you ask? 

WOOF is the WorldCon Order of Faneds, an amateur press association (APA for short) that allows folks to put together a contribution and then it goes and gets collated with all the other contributions and made into a thing that every contributor gets! 

This year, we’re doing it two ways – first, we’re doing a print-version that will be given to contributors. If you’ve got a contribution for it, make 25 copies and you can send it to –

WOOF
c/o Nigel Rowe
431 S Dearborn #906
Chicago, IL 60606

We’ll need mail-in ones by August 29. Or, you could send your contribution to us via eMail and we can print it. A fee applies to that, drop a line to johnnyeponymous@gmail.com for details. 

We’ll be collating WOOF on Sunday morning, September 4, at 11:00 a.m. in the fanzine lounge! Stop by; Chris will have had several cups of coffee. 

AND THEN…

We’re doing eWOOF, a PDF-based version that will have stuff from the print edition, and if anyone wants to send in something just for use in the eZine version, let us know. This will be available online after the con. 

So yes, there will be a WOOF!

First Chicon 8 Business Meeting Agenda Posted

Chicon 8, the 2022 Worldcon, has published the initial draft of the Business Meeting agenda. It can be downloaded here. (Subsequent updates will be found on Chicon 8’s Business Meeting page.) This includes the usual spate of new WSFS Constitution proposals with clever titles meant to entertain fellow business meeting regulars and baffle everyone else.

Among the proposals are several from the Hugo Study Committee created at the 2019 Business Meeting.

The full text of the proposals plus supporting statements are at the link.

MOTIONS TO EXTEND HUGO ELIGIBILITY

There are four resolutions to extend the Hugo eligibility of these science fiction films: After Yang, Strawberry Mansion, Neptune Frost, and Mad God; all proposed by Nana Amuah, Olav Rokne, and Cora Buhlert.

BUSINESS PASSED ON FROM DISCON III

Several amendments to the WSFS Constitution ratified in 2016 in connection with the E Pluribus Hugo voting reform that included a 2022 sunset clause must now be re-ratified in order to remain in effect.

Then, there are these new rules changes which received first passage at DisCon III (2021) that are up for ratification.

“30 Days Hath New Business” creates a deadline for submission of new business.

“The Statue of Liberty Play” removes the requirement to pass on to the next Worldcon postal addresses as part of the contact information of people “who have given permission for that data transfer and only for the purposes for which permission to use that data was given.”

“A Matter of Days” adjusts existing rules language from months to a specific number of days.

“Non-transferability of Voting Rights” replaces the supporting/attending Worldcon membership structure with “WSFS memberships” and “attending member supplements”, with the WSFS memberships being non-transferable (e.g., could not be sold on by the owner.)

NEW CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS

“The Zero Percent Solution” proposes to repeal Section 3.12.2 of the Constitution which sets conditions for not awarding a Hugo in any category where the total number of valid ballots cast (excluding those cast for “No Award” in first place) is less than twenty-five per cent (25%) of the total number of final Award ballots received. The case for this change is made by Olav Rokne in his File 770 article “Hugo Voting Threshold Reform Proposal”.

The Olav Rokne (and company) proposal is opposed head-on by the Hugo Study Committee’s “To Defuse the Turnout Bomb, Cut the Red Wire…” which moves to preserve the 25% rule but limit its application to circumstances where “the total number of valid ballots cast for that category, excluding those cast for ‘No Award’ in first place, is fewer than 200.”

The Hugo Awards Study Committee has also introduced these other proposals:

“Clearing Up the Artist Categories Forever (No, Really, We Swear It This Time!)” proposes to change the definition of “Best Professional Artist” to “One or more collaborators on a body of work first displayed during the previous calendar year and created as i) work for hire, ii) on paid commission, or iii) for sale (either directly or via a paywall-like structure).” And to change “Best Fan Artist” to “One or more collaborators on a body of work first displayed during the previous calendar year in a fashion that did not qualify for Best Professional Artist – i.e. neither work for hire, nor commissioned for pay, nor for sale.”

“One Rocket Per Customer, Please!” is actually about eligibility for the Best Series category, not how many trophies can be distributed.  Previous winners of the Best Series Hugo would be barred from future eligibility in the category (they current are eligible once certain conditions are met). So would any series “containing an individual installment which has won a Hugo Award of any type in its nominated format.” Also, no series would be eligible in the same year as any of its installments makes the final ballot.

“A Work, By Any Other Name…” is a second not-mutually-exclusive amendment regarding Best Series intended to bar “any series from appearing on the final ballot for the Hugo Award for Best Series only in a year where an installment for that series also appears on the final ballot. It was, however, drawn more broadly in order to also restrict (for example) a short story appearing in the same year that a fix-up novel containing such a story was published. Thus, ‘content’ was used in lieu of ‘work’.”

“An Aristotelian Solution to Fan vs Pro” according to the Committee “seeks to establish a uniform set of boundaries between the two general categories of content, as well as to ensure that no ‘gap’ emerges where something is considered Fan in one sense, Professional in another sense, and therefore not eligible in either category.” The proposal replaces the existing language of 3.2.11 with this text:

A professional publication is a publication produced by professional activity. Any category including language pertaining to non-professional or professional activity will be understood to use the definitions in 3.2.X and 3.2.Y.

3.2.X: Professional activity shall be that which was undertaken with the expectation of sale or other direct profit (by the creator or any co-creators), or which can only be accessed after a payment is made (other than incidental fees, e.g. convention membership fees).

3.2.Y: Non-professional activity shall be that which was not undertaken with the expectation of sale or other direct profit (by the creator or any co- creators), and which can be accessed in a full and final version without any payment.

3.2.Z: All activity shall be considered either Professional or Non-Professional. In cases where there is some doubt as to which category applies to a given work or activity, the will of the nominators should be considered, as should the greater need to protect fan (non-professional) activity against professional activity than the reverse.

“If a Tree Falls in The Woods and Nobody Is Around…” creates a mechanism that requires low-voter-participation categories to be considered for removal by the Worldcon Business Meeting:

3.12.3: In the event that the total number of valid ballots cast for a specific category (excluding those cast for No Award in First Place) is fewer than ten per cent (10%) of the total number of final Award ballots received in a non-Retro Hugo vote in two years out of three successive years, an amendment effecting the removal of that category from the list of enumerated Hugo Award categories shall be automatically placed on the agenda for the next Worldcon’s Business Meeting.

The Agenda says the Hugo Awards Study Committee (“HASC”) for 2019-2020 consisted of Cliff Dunn (Chair), Alex Acks, Andrew A. Adams, Ira Alexandre, Paul Cornell, Joni Brill Dashoff, Todd Dashoff, Vincent Docherty, Kathryn Duval, Martin Easterbrook, Lisa Garrison, Helen Gbala, Colin Harris, John Hertz, Kevin Hewett, Tim Illingworth, Kat Jones, Marguerite Kenner, Guy Kovel, Joshua Kronengold, Michael Lee, Perrianne Lurie, Mark J. Meenan, Farah Mendlesohn, Lisa Padol, Hanne Paine, PRK, Martin Pyne, Oskari Rantala, Mark Richards, Claire Rousseau, Ann Marie Rudolph, Kate Secor, Kevin Standlee, Corina Stark, Kelly Strait, Don A. Timm, Kári Tulinius, Jo Van Ekeren, Lew Wolkoff, Betsy Wollheim, and Ben Yalow. The agenda does not state whether any changes were made to the Committee’s membership in subsequent years.

Floyd Norman Unable to Attend Chicon 8

Chicon 8 today announced that Floyd Norman will be unable to participate in the 2022 Worldcon at the level of Guest of Honor.

Floyd Norman, who is 87, was the first African-American animator at Disney, and worked for many other animation companies.

The committee said, “We do hope that all our members take some time and delve into the career of this amazing artist, animator, and filmmaker, whose work with Disney and other animation companies has provided an introduction to the Science Fiction and Fantasy genre for children around the world, and whose work with Vignette Films Inc., a first-of-its-kind production company, created stories about African American history-makers for U.S. schools and other media outlets.”

Norman has received many honors, including induction to the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame (1979), being named a Disney Legend (2007), and receiving the Winsor McCay Award, Inkpot Award, Sergio Award, Friz Freleng Award, AAFCA Special Achievement Award, and Milton Caniff Award.

Norman is the second of Chicon 8’s original slate of GoHs who has been unable to continue. In April, Charles de Lint stepped down due to family circumstances.

Hugo Voting Threshold Reform Proposal

By Olav Rokne: Over the past several weeks, a group of fans has been working on a proposal to abolish WSFS constitution clause 3.12.2, which could result in a Hugo category getting no award even when that is not the express wishes of voters. The group proposing this change to the WSFS constitution includes people who are presently or have recently been finalists in the categories most likely to be affected by 3.12.2 of the constitution.

It would be exceptionally embarrassing for a Worldcon to have to explain why a finalist would have won the Hugo except for — oops! — this bit of outdated fine print. The best course of action is to eliminate that fine print before such a circumstance arises.

The list of people who have been working on this proposal includes Olav Rokne, Amanda Wakaruk, Paul Weimer, Jason Sanford, Cora Buhlert, Camestros Felapton, Christopher J Garcia, Marshall Ryan Maresca, Joe Sherry, Adri Joy, Gideon Marcus, Lori Anderson, Kevin Anderson, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, Haley Zapal, Amy Salley, Chris M. Barkley, Mike Glyer, and Alasdair Stuart.

Here is the current draft of the proposal that we intend to present to the business meeting:


Hugo Voting Threshold Reform Proposal for the 2022 Business Meeting

Over the past several years, several Hugo Award categories have come close to not being awarded due the current wording of, but not the original intent of, 3.12.2 of the constitution.

The current text of 3.12.2

“No Award” shall be given whenever the total number of valid ballots cast for a specific category (excluding those cast for “No Award” in first place) is less than twenty-five per cent (25%) of the total number of final Award ballots received.

While this clause was designed to guard against categories in which there was a lack of interest, there has not been a significant decline in the categories most at risk of being affected by 3.12.2. Rather there has been a significant uptick in interest in other categories.

Since 2,362 final Award ballots were cast in 2021, if any category received fewer than 591 votes in the final count, then a result of “No Award” would have been declared. Fancast received 632 votes, barely scraping past that 25 per cent threshold. Fanzine (643 votes), Editor – Long Form (667 votes), and Fan Writer (680 votes) were all poised near the abyss.

For context, consider that 591 is more votes than any category received in 1963 when 3.12.2 was first proposed.

At Denvention 3 in 2008, only 302 people voted in the Fanzine category. By absolute terms, this was less than half the number that voted for Fanzine at Discon 3 in 2021, but because only 762 people voted in the Hugos overall, the category had a participation rate of 39.6 per cent, and was in no risk of falling prey to the criteria set forth in 3.12.2. Conversely, despite there being 643 votes cast in Fanzine last year, this only amounted to 27.2 per cent participation.

Worldcon has grown since the 1960s to the point at which this threshold is no longer relevant, and could even be harmful.

The fact that this threshold is based on the overall number of ballots cast in more high-profile categories (like Best Novel or Best Dramatic Presentation), it risks punishing these important and community-oriented categories (like Fancast and Fanzine) – despite the existence of substantial and sustained interest in these categories.

In an era of superhero franchises and a true renaissance of SF/F television worldwide, it is unwieldy to expect community-oriented categories to pull the same interest as multi-million dollar franchises. We do a disservice to the diversity of our community when we establish the latter as the threshold of popularity for the former.

To address this unanticipated problem, we would propose decoupling the viability threshold from the total number of final award ballots with the following proposal:

PROPOSAL – Eliminate 3.12.2

Strike the following words from the WSFS constitution:

3.12.2: “No Award” shall be given whenever the total number of valid ballots cast for a specific category (excluding those cast for “No Award” in first place) is less than twenty-five percent (25%) of the total number of final Award ballots received.


Several other options for reform of this section have been discussed, such as changing the percentage, moving the threshold to an absolute value, or creating other metrics. However, eliminating this viability test altogether is the simplest action that would solve the immediate problems faced in an era of disproportionate increases of interest in some Hugo categories.

Chicon 8 Publishes Progress Report #4

Chicon 8, the 2022 Worldcon, announced today that Progress Report #4 is available for the public to download from their website.

PROGRAM. Chair Helen Montgomery’s message touches on programming:

Our program is looking amazing — we’re going to have close to 700 program items such as panels and presentations and workshops. I’ve seen the list and … wow. The program team has definitely raised the bar for quality Worldcon programing this year! Watch our website and social media for sneak previews!

There is also good news that CART subtitles will be provided “for the Hugo Ceremony, Business Meeting, and the Masquerade at very least. Airmeet, our virtual platform, offers automatic subtitling for all virtual program items.”

There is also a extensive coverage of other Accessibility Services that will be available.

COVID. Those planning to attend in person are reminded about Chicon 8’s COVID-19 Policy:

COVID POLICY Chicon 8 strives to hold a welcoming and inclusive event. As with any community, portions of our population are at high risk for serious complications from Covid-19. Part of our responsibility to our community is safeguarding the health of all our members. To that end, proof of full vaccination for Covid-19 as defined by the CDC or countries with reasonably aligned vaccination protocols are required for entry to Chicon 8. Masks are required in all convention spaces except when actively eating or drinking in designated areas.

The full policy and FAQ can be viewed at the link.

COMMUNITY FUND. The Chicago Worldcon Community Fund, which is providing pay-what-you-can memberships and travel stipends to non-white fans or program participants, LGBTQIA+ fans or program participants, and local Chicago area fans of limited means, made its first set of awards to over 20 people in May. To help even more people they need to replenish their funds. You can make a cash donation by visiting the fund page at the link. And applications for assistance are still being accepted.

VOLUNTEERS. Hundreds of in-person volunteers are needed – check out Volunteer Opportunities. They also are looking for Virtual volunteers. See Volunteering – Chicon 8.

MEMBERSHIP. Progress Report #4 summarizes Chicon 8’s membership demographics as of May 14, 2022. Total membership is 4170, comprised of Adult Attending, 2626; Age Attending (**), 141; Virtual, 32; and Supporting, 1371. [Note: Age Attending (**) includes Young Adults, Teen and Child Attending Members plus Kids-in-To.]

The PR also includes a breakout of United States member statistics plus a map of the states color-coded for membership density. (Wait, that doesn’t sound right.)

Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due to be Guests of Honor at Chicon 8

Chicon 8, the 2022 World Science Fiction Convention, has announced Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due as additional Guests of Honor for this year’s Worldcon. They join Chicon’s roll of Guests of Honor including artist Floyd Norman, fans Joe Siclari and Edie Stern, and the late Erle Korshak (who will be honored in memoriam); and special guests: writer and sociologist Dr. Eve L. Ewing, comic artist Gene Ha, and illustration and concept artist Eric Wilkerson.

Steven Barnes is the NY Times bestselling author of over thirty novels of science fiction, horror, and suspense.  The Image, Endeavor and Cable-Ace Award winning author also writes for television, including The Twilight ZoneStargate SG-1Andromeda, and an Emmy Award winning episode of The Outer Limits. He has taught at UCLA, Seattle University, and lectured at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.  Steven was born in Los Angeles, California, and except for a decade in the Northwest, and three years in Atlanta Georgia, has lived in that area all his life.

Tananarive Due (tah-nah-nah-REEVE doo) is an award-winning author who teaches Black Horror and Afrofuturism at UCLA. She is an executive producer on Shudder’s groundbreaking documentary Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror.  A leading voice in Black speculative fiction for more than 20 years, Due has won an American Book Award, an NAACP Image Award, and a British Fantasy Award and her writing has been included in best-of-the-year anthologies. Her books include Ghost Summer: StoriesMy Soul to Keep, and The Good House. She and her late mother, civil rights activist Patricia Stephens Due, co-authored Freedom in the Family: A Mother-Daughter Memoir of the Fight for Civil Rights

Steven and Tananarive are frequent collaborators as well as married couple. Working together, they wrote “A Small Town” for Season 2 of Jordan Peele’s The Twilight Zone on Paramount+, and two segments of Shudder’s anthology film Horror Noire. They also co-wrote the upcoming Black Horror graphic novel The Keeper, illustrated by Marco Finnegan. 

Steven and Tananarive have also collaborated to create online courses in Afrofuturism (www.afrofuturismwebinar.com), Black Horror (www.sunkenplaceclass.com), and Screenwriting, as well as co-hosting a podcast, Lifewriting: Write for Your Life!  They live in California with their son Jason. 

[Based on a press release.]

Updates to Chicon 8 Hugo Voter Packet

Chicon 8 Hugo Administrator Kat Jones answered File 770’s request to summarize the changes that have been made in Hugo Voter Packet since its original release on May 27.

Here are the additions, subtractions, and changes:

  • Best Novella: Files updated for Aliette de Bodard’s work
  • Best Short Story: docx version of Alix Harrow’s work was removed
  • Best Editor, Short Form: Files added for Sheree Renée Thomas
  • Best Editor, Long Form: Files added for Sarah T. Guan
  • Best Fancast: Zip file for the category broken into two parts for easier download of materials

Chicon 8 will also distribute this information on its official social media channels today.