Tremendous Pushback Against Barkley YA Award Name Proposal

Since Chris Barkley released his “Proposal to Re-Name the Young Adult Book Award” yesterday it has been heavily criticized, and five of the nine signers have removed their names —  Juliette Wade, Melinda Snodgrass, Pablo Miguel Alberto Vasquez, and Shawna McCarthy, and Vincent Docherty, who says his name never should have been included to begin with.

Last year, the Worldcon 75 business meeting finalized creation of a new YA Award for the World Science Fiction Convention, ratifying it by a vote of 65-27, and a motion naming it the Lodestar award received first passage. (For a complete explanation of how the committee chose that name, read the YA Award Full Report.)

Barkley’s proposal urges the award be given a different name — though just what name he planned to keep embargoed until the start of this year’s business meeting. (“There is very good reason why the name will not be revealed at this time and that explanation will also be given at that time.”)

However, when Melinda Snodgrass told Facebook readers why she was no longer a signer, she also revealed the proposed name.

So I have apparently inadvertently stepped into the middle of a science fiction fandom/Hugo/Worldcon hornet’s nest. So do pass on to anyone who might care that this was done innocently and was me attempting to not seem to be slighting Ursula K. Le Guin who was one of our greatest writers.

How this all happened — I had the vague memory that we now have a YA award of some kind and when I got a request to put my name on a petition to have it named for Le Guin it seemed churlish to refuse. I thought it was another make nice sort of honorary thing so I said sure even though it didn’t matter to me one whit.

But apparently this process has consumed fandom and worldcon like a wildfire for the past several years, and I have apparently been pulled into this fight when I didn’t even know there was a fight.

So consider this me stating that I don’t have a dog in this fight. I’m not taking a side because I didn’t know there were sides to be taken, I’ve requested my name be removed and I’m backing slowly away from the whole thing so I can get back to writing and working to get Wild Cards on the air.

Once this whole thing gets settled I will be happy to vote for a YA novel because I really enjoy YA novels. And I don’t care what they call the award.

Chris Barkley sent File 770 this comment “on the record”: “I do not have any comment at this time. If anyone wants to know what name will be officially revealed, they are welcome to attend the Preliminary Business Meeting at Worldcon 76.”

Also, Ellen Datlow, although not listed in Barkley’s post on File 770, announced on Facebook that she has removed her name from the petition.

Renay of Lady Business has made the most thorough critical response to the motion. Jump on the thread here:

At another point she underscores how the proposal disrespects the process used to create the award —

She is not the only one to see the proposal as demeaning people’s work on the award:

While the name was still unknown, Brian White voiced his deepest fear….

However, it needs to be made clear that the Worldcon was not the author of this idea —

Stacy Whitman satirized the proposal in a thread —

And a writer who knows something about the years of debate behind the award wryly suggested another new name:

[Thanks to Mark Hepworth, JJ, and Chris Barkley for the story.]

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112 thoughts on “Tremendous Pushback Against Barkley YA Award Name Proposal

  1. @Kevin

    Considering how many people call it the HUGO Award because they think that the name is an acronym, I expect a lot of people inside Worldcon-attending Fandom are unaware of who the award is named after, even though we tell people on the web site and elsewhere.

    That’s funny — what do they think it’s an acronym for?!

  2. @laura:

    I was thinking a recursive acronum. So after the second expansion it would be “Hugo Uncontested Goodness Obvious Uncontested Goodness Obvious Award”, and then on and on and on in uncontestable goodness?

  3. Laura on March 13, 2018 at 4:58 pm said:


    Considering how many people call it the HUGO Award because they think that the name is an acronym,…

    That’s funny — what do they think it’s an acronym for?!

    They don’t know, but they don’t seem to realize that it’s named for a person named Hugo. Or maybe they think all award names should be in all caps just for the name and they call things NEBULA Award, TONY Award, ACADEMY Award, etc.

  4. “Hugo Uncontested Goodness Obvious”

    OTOH – there seems to be a group of people who think it stands for
    “Horrible Unrealistic Garbled Obsequiousness”

    How about

    “Harry’s Unique Gaudy Ornamental” Award ?

  5. @Ingvar
    Like an infinity mirror!

    I knew I could count on Filers to come up with some good ones! 😀

    Yeah, I imagine they don’t think about it. They just see a short word that they’re not familiar with.

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