Chicon 7 Votes on Hugo Rules Changes

The Main Business Meeting at Chicon 7 ratified the new Best Fancast category [PDF file], most of the changes to the Semiprozine and Fanzine Hugo categories [PDF file] first passed at Renovation in 2011, the existing Best Graphic Story category — which faced a sunset date — and rejected a motion for new Best Young Adult Fiction category.

The Best Fancast category was passed last year and Chicon 7 exercised its option to place it the 2012 Hugo ballot. Best Fancast recognizes fan podcasts, videos, etc. — and effectively removes them from the fanzine category. Statistics provided to the Business Meeting showed on its trial run this year Best Fancast had participation levels that favorably compared with the fanzine category in terms of nominating vote totals and number of items nominated. The ratification vote sailed through without much comment. The category comes with a sunset provision, so it will come up again for review in a few years.

The redefinition of the Semiprozine and Fanzine categories had to get over a few more hurdles before being ratified, due to fans offering amendments.

Voters agreed to restore the phrase “or the equivalent in other media” that had been struck out of the existing Best Fanzine rules. The cover argument was that keeping the language protected the eligibility of publications done in electronic form, although that has been policy for years — the vast majority of fanzines are now created in digital media and distributed online. What the real effect of keeping “equivalent” in the rule will be is hard for me to say. Rich Lynch said he was comfortable with the outcome because the new requirement for “periodical publication” was retained.

Ben Yalow also convinced the meeting to adjust the new verification rule in the Semiprozine and Fanzine categories. Nominees will now “be required to provide information that they meet the qualification of their category” instead of being “required to confirm…” Yalow felt the original wording implied an unwanted restriction on the powers of the Hugo Administrator.

The meeting also agreed to Rich Lynch’s housekeeping amendment to delete a few surplus words that had been unintentionally passed as part of the motion in 2011.

The Best Graphic Story category needed to be ratified once more at this year’s meeting to stay in the constitution, though of course it has been functioning for several years. We were told 344 nominating votes were cast in the category this year, for 244 distinct items, of which only 9 had 5% of the vote (a minimum eligibility standard). Two fans cited these stats as support for their opposing views, Chris Barkley saying it proved the category’s viability, Kent Bloom saying it showed the pool of Hugo-worthy works is very limited. Phil Foglio spoke in favor of keeping the category — one where he’s won nearly all the Hugos — humorously admitting, “Yes, at the moment we’re dominating, but you know, we’ll die someday…” Despite a lively controversy, the ratification easily passed.

The proposed Best Young Adult Fiction Hugo category aroused more passion. Some in favor argued the Worldcon would stunt its growth by rejecting the category, while opponents noted YA has no real definition and Ben Yalow said, “We don’t give out Hugos for marketing categories, we give Hugos out for works.” Lew Wolkoff contended there really wasn’t enough expertise among Hugo voters because many don’t read YA works unless something especially draws one to their attention. The motion failed 51-67.

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8 thoughts on “Chicon 7 Votes on Hugo Rules Changes

  1. Not quite the same, but the 1988 Nolacon rescheduled the Art Show auction to an earlier time than originally announced. I never heard whether any bidders actually lost out on works they were planning to bid on, but at the time I considered this a spectaculary wrong-headed thing to do.

  2. Young adult has various forms, and if this is included, why not think about fantasy and science fiction from grades 1-6? I think that perhaps the Hugo Award are being stretched thinner if more awards are suggested. I’ve seen kids books that could go for “graphic novels”, but I don’t know if a Captain Underpants book would win any favors from fans. (writing in thr hotel lobby)…

  3. The Newberry’s have been recognizing excellence in general young adult fiction for decades. This is despite the difficulty in defining what young adult fiction is. Given that example is the definition problem for a young adult hugo really a problem?

  4. Mr. Walsh,

    Perhaps similar criteria can be used to identify childrens genre literature for a young adult Hugo?

  5. The Golden Duck awards already recognize SF books in 3 age categories and are announced at Worldcon. Why not elevate the Golden Ducks to greater prominence by announcing them at the Hugo ceremony? I don’t think this would require a change to the WSFS constitution. I think this would satisfy the intent of the defeated proposal to give visibility to YA science fiction.

    Or, if we wanted to go a step further, we could make the Golden Ducks similar to the John Campbell award — a non-Hugo that is selected by the members of the convention, although this would not address the complaint that adult Hugo voters are generally unfamiliar with youth-oriented works. I think it is better to keep the Golden Ducks a juried award.

  6. Unfamiliarity with the works in particular categories has never seemed to slow down the Hugo voters.

  7. I did not vote for the Hugo Awards, because I was unfamiliar with anything there, save for the Long Form video. I don’t watch TV and I only bought a few books last year with the thought they might be up for awards, and none were nominated.

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