I'm really not in the practice of responding to our columnists here on Airlock Alpha. My approach is typically to let the columnists do what they do best -- incite great conversation -- and just stand on my soapbox every Friday or so in this column.
But I do have to talk a little bit about Ann Morris' column that ran this week.
In that column, Ann talked about a panel appearance I made at Oasis 24 in Orlando a couple weeks back. There, my good fandom friend Juan Sanmiguel invited me to speak on a panel about the Hugo Awards, handed out each year by the World Science Fiction Society.
Juan, for the record, is a huge fan of the awards. I'm simply a fan. He wanted to talk about the different nominees for the awards this year, and I wanted to talk about the awards itself.
Here is my issue, which Ann touched on a little bit. I respect the history and prestige behind the Hugos. I just don't agree with the Society's insistence on letting only a select few fans willing to pay a fee the chance to vote.
In the panel, I made some comparisons to Airlock Alpha's very own Portal Awards -- not to say that our awards are anywhere near the level of the Hugos -- but to mention that we have fan-selected awards, too. But we give every fan a chance to vote. All they have to do is visit Airlock Alpha (which at last count, was free).
To vote in the Hugos, however, requires a fee. This year, that fee is between $50 and $195 (the higher fee, of course, including a full membership into the WorldCon itself). That limits the fan involvement to just those willing to fork over some money ... and judging by the number of people voting in the Hugos (far less than 1,000), it's extremely limited.
Now, there are some good arguments as to why the Hugos are done this way. First, it's tradition. The Hugos have been handed out since 1953, and from what I understand, this has always been the system. Second, there are many awards -- Emmys, Grammys, Oscars, even the Nobel Prize -- selected by a small group of people. So what's wrong if just several hundred people are involved in choosing the winners for the Hugos?
Well, I can't argue tradition -- except that the best traditions are ones that adapt to the times.
When it comes to select groups, however, it's kind of hard to compare that to the Hugo. First, these other awards are typically chosen by peers. For instance, the people who vote for Outstanding Writing in a Drama series are typically people who themselves could be eligible for the award.
But that's not the case with the Hugos. For the literary categories, for example, the people who vote are not limited to authors. It's just those willing to pay. So you can't compare it.
And really, that's my only issue with the Hugos. These are amazing awards, and to even have your name mentioned close to one is an honor for anyone.
The Portal Awards will never be the Hugos. But they are not designed to be. The World Science Fiction Society is free to run their awards any way they feel like it, just like I'm free to run my own awards any way I feel like it. I'm not telling them the Hugos have to change ... I'm just sharing my opinion on how the Hugos work.
My congratulations to all of this year's Hugo nominees, and I will extending further congrats when the winners are announced later this year.
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