Hugo Awards Study Committee Report Online

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the form that fandom has taken has changed, and the result is that the definition of Fan Artist was found to be outdated.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.]

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61 thoughts on “Hugo Awards Study Committee Report Online

  1. (Sorry, Tom, a little too snarky there. But when I type something in plain English, I kinda get upset when someone doesn’t read it.)

  2. Tom Becker: I would appreciate it if you could dial back on the disagreeableness, but that’s not the main issue at hand.

    Yes, well, I would certainly appreciate it if you would dial back on the constant condescending mansplaining, but that’s clearly not going to happen, either.

    I gave you one — one — Get Out Of Jail Free Card, back when you first mansplained to me that a proposed category modification with two undersigned WSFS members had only one supporter. I let that one slide. Too bad you couldn’t stop there.

    If you don’t appreciate “onslaughts of criticism”, then maybe consider moderating your approach and learning how to actually read and take on board what other people say, instead of expecting not to be criticized.

    I personally do not care whether we are in the slightest bit of agreement about anything at this point, because you have made me not care about your opinion. So hey, congratulations on that. 🙄

  3. Lurkertype: I know you mentioned running off a zine yourself, so that could mean you might be of a certain age. If you meant “old pharts” as ironic, okay. But I still stand by what I said.

    I am with you that fan art is alive and well online. The fan artists on Tumblr, Deviantart, etc., deserve a chance to be recognized. Here’s an idea: There is a long tradition of art fanzines. A Tumblr or other online gallery can qualify as a fanzine. The Hugo eligibility criteria are easy to meet. If the art is posted for sharing, not for sale or just for self-promotion, then the artist clearly qualifies for Best Fan Artist. The only sticking point may be lack of awareness in the fan artist community. A more clearly worded eligibility definition would help, not hurt.

    By the way, it’s “fansplaining”. Any fan can do it, not just the men.

  4. JJ: You are telling me that you were predisposed to go off at me because of my earlier comment trying to clarify what you said. Sorry about that. But bear in mind that we’re discussing proposals where parliamentary procedure applies. It is a good idea to be very clear about what’s what. And it still wasn’t right for you to go off at me.

    I can deal with criticism. Also, I definitely read and understood what you wrote. I just don’t accept with your criticism as valid. You kept telling me I was wrong for using the word “amateur” the way that I did. I wasn’t wrong. Your attempts to ban the word have been resoundingly unsuccessful. I’m still waiting for your explanation why it is wrong to use a word that means “non-professional” to describe a category that is the alternative to “Professional”. I also don’t accept your telling me how I am stupid and a bad person. It is not going to win you the argument.

    All this is in the context of a proposal that we basically agree on. You just said that you don’t care for my opinion even if we agree. In other words, this is not about facts or logic or common sense or decency. You got angry and attacked.

    I would personally appreciate it if you stop it right now and don’t do it again. I don’t like being verbally abused. I don’t have to put up with it from anybody. This is not me being condescending. This is me telling you to stop it right now. Do whatever you have to do to calm down. I greatly value your contributions on this site. We are basically on the same side. I actually do care about your opinion. But I’m not going to take abuse.

  5. Tom Becker: I also don’t accept your telling me how I am stupid and a bad person… You got angry and attacked.

    Ooo… nice strawman. I never said either of those things. You can stop pretending to be a victim here.

    You apparently don’t understand the difference between “anger” and “eye-rolling disdain”. You have a history of condescending and mansplaining and lecturing to me, and it’s just really tiresome. No doubt you are used to getting away with it in your offline life. But I don’t appreciate it, and I don’t have to put up with it. Please just stop.

  6. Ok, I don’t have a particular dog in this fight, and I don’t claim any special knowledge or insight, but honestly, from the (moderately uninformed) place where I sit, the two Artist categories (as represented in the Hugo packets for the last seven years) as they currently stand seem to de-facto break down into:

    1) Best Book Cover Artist
    2) Best Everything-Except-Book-Cover Artist

    I’d actually rather like it if this breakdown were made explicit. Book Cover Art is a thing in itself; it’s part art and part graphic design, and its purpose is to sell the book. It’s not necessarily fair to judge it against a painting that isn’t designed to have space for text to fit….

    And, as a rule, I don’t have an easy way to determine whether any particular piece of (non-book-cover) art is Professional or Made For Free (or Made For Fannish Purposes, for that matter). Heck, as I understand it, one place you’re supposed to see fan-art to nominate is in convention art shows. But if the piece is up for sale, and sells, is it then suddenly Professional? I honestly don’t know.

    And while I’m kvetching, I’d really rather like a third category: 3) Best 3-Dimensional Artist. Sculpture, jewelry, textiles, hell, painting-on-feathers or other found objects….. I’ve seen some stunning examples over the years. And photographs from several angles, although admittedly not the ideal way to view a sculptural piece, would still make it possible for Hugo-voters to make an informed choice.

    Just my two cents.

  7. @Cassy B, I’d be inclined to put magazine and comic book covers and the like together with book covers. Maybe game box covers as well. Same parameters. Not a bad idea.

    Not sure there would be enough noms to have a separate 3D Hugo, not to mention that we have (IMHO) too many categories already.

  8. Lenore Jones, I agree. Anything that combines art with graphic design (which would tend to be commercial packaging, whether for books, games, comics, or whatever) should, I think, be its own category. Call it “Best Cover Art” and in the description mention books, games, comic books, etc.

    Anything that is not art-for-commercial-packaging-purposes, whether it be a painting, a sculpture, a piece of jewelry, a pen-and-ink drawing or whatever, should (in my opinion) be in a separate category from the first one. (I really would like a category for 3-D art, but I do understand that proliferating categories is a problem.)

    But I really, really think that Hugo nominators should not have to read the minds (or the balance books) of artists to try to figure out where their work falls.

  9. JJ: “I never said either of those things.”

    Actually you did. I’m not going to add to the unpleasantness by copying and pasting what you wrote.

    You have a history…

    Yes there is that time you went off at me before. This is all happening because Andy Porter made a Pogo reference.

    I’m sorry, but I have to say yet again that this criticism is uncalled for. I do not accept it. It doesn’t matter how annoyed you feel. There is no justification. Even if you completely disagree with someone, you can do so respectfully.

  10. Tom Becker: I’m sorry, but I have to say yet again that this criticism is uncalled for. I do not accept it. It doesn’t matter how annoyed you feel. There is no justification. Even if you completely disagree with someone, you can do so respectfully.

    You’re not the least bit sorry — as evidenced by your continuing haranguing of me.

    The companion behavior to Mansplaining: Mandemanding, where the person feels entitled to continuously demand responses, agreement, and respect, without feeling any obligation to behave in a manner worthy of those things.

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