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The logical next step
Scalzi tries to put as nice a face on the current situation, which I guess he has to because it was the normalization of blatant self-promotion that got us here and he played a significant role in making it acceptable.

Anyway, since we're stuck in a situation where organized slates enjoy an advantage (at least as far as nominations go), the next step would seem to be formal parties, each offering a different slate of candidates. How many of those do you think are viable in a system like the Hugos?

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.

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Congrats to all the noms; the bottom half of the list has a lot of good stuff, and there are good things elsewhere as well. But I have to say, in terms of my interest in the writing and how seriously I take the Hugo fiction awards, the presence of Day/Correia etc. differs from the supersaturation of Seanan McGuire only in degree. Not that I'm accusing McGuire of the same kind of malicious intent; just that the Hugo seems less worth paying attention to every year.

the supersaturation of Seanan McGuire

So we can dip strings into the Hugos and grow more Seanans like rock candy?

Or, if we strike the container holding the Hugos, a bunch of Seanans will suddenly precipitate out.

I can't quite bring myself to do the promo that Correia et. al., do, but what's the alternative? I don't see a good one. You can't very well start saying people can't mention their eligibility, and once they can, then you're on your way to people self-promoing.

Since you have to pay to vote, Hugos are effectively an auction. It's really, seriously tough to produce an auction you can't game.

My take is the Hugos aren't a very effective popularity contest and could be abolished without net social loss.

I've found a lot of great stuff from reading the Hugo shortlist. Some of it I would not have found via other means, like reading the Nebula shortlist. I think it all would have been caught by the Locus shortlist, but the Locus shortlist is much longer.

I know I'm not the only one who makes a habit of reading all of the Hugo nominees every year (although I may give a couple of them a pass this year). I think that has some value in creating a common conversation.

I'm highly dubious of the theory that people like Scalzi and McGuire mentioning their eligibility is having a significant skewing effect on the results. I think that argument has a causality problem. The reason why those posts get so much attention is because those authors are very popular and have devoted fans... which would also lead to those fans voting for their books regardless of whether there was any campaigning or not. (And I do think that calling Scalzi and McGuire's posts campaigning is overstating the matter a wee bit.)

It's not so much the self-promoting that's at issue, though once you start with that it's not a very great leap for an author to recommend other authors' books to support. I'll grant that recommending people *read* works by other authors is a fine thing; e.g., I found out about Hannu Rajaniemi from autopope, and quite enjoyed _The Quantum Thief_. From there, the subtle hint that "work x is eligible for a Hugo this year, you know..." isn't that much of a jump.

A comment on Scalzi's post linked to Kameron Hurley's opinions:
“We Have Always Fought” is the first blog post, ever, to be nominated for a Hugo Award. It’s also been read by more people than all of my books and short stories combined, and possibly read more than any single book in the Best Novel category except the collective Wheel of Time.

Hurley's post is terrific.

> How many of those do you think are viable in a system like the Hugos?

Can't imagine it going much past the level of half a dozen or so writers all implicitly or explicitly agreeing to flog each others' work. So, up to ten or twenty, maybe?

This being fandom of course, they will doubtless start referring to themselves as political parties, with signs, buttons, funny hats, and all the usual trimmings.

The biggest dispute being which party gets to be the Monster Raving Lunie Party.

Why are people blaming the authors for “self-promoting”, rather than the voters for having bad taste? The former couldn’t get anywhere without the latter.

Did Connie Willis self-promote to get her Best Novel award for Blackout/All Clear a few years ago? Is Larry Correia’s nomination for Warbound any worse than, say, Piers Anthony’s for Cthon in 1968?

I think we're all agreed that anyone who votes for Vox Day's fine work has all the taste they're ever going to get.

Is he actually that bad a fiction writer?

The cynical side of me is saying that perhaps certain people are trying to game their way into a Hugo, and saw a particular bandwagon that appeals to their people.

I say that knowing damn good and well that I probably never will win such an award because a.) I'm lousy at self-promotion so b.) I really don't care.

Look at how the Oscars used to work under the Studio System -- each studio would inform its employees which films it wanted nominated, and those employees in the Academy would put forth the appropriate nominations.

Obviously the Hugos are fan awards, so the publishers can't coerce voters the way studios did their employees, but some publishers have pretty dedicated fan-bases, and their authors certainly do. Tor and Baen could announce the books they want nominated on their sites and then have their authors flog the fan-base into action.

The irony of people who for years -- more than a decade each with two specific people I'm thinking of -- who groomed their own audience to achieve maximum popularity and publicity now complaining that authors did something similar with their fanbases is palpable.

Popularity and sales in SF/F has always Always ALWAYS been heavily linked to grooming an audience, creating a persona (irritatingly often, a "gold-hearted asshole who tells it like it is" persona) and playing to it, in order to get fans to latch on and become loyal buyers. Also so they will defend you, support you, keep your name out there as they bring you up in regular conversation.

And let's not forget, the president of the SFWA fucking taunted Vox Day for years. We wouldn't even give a single solitary fuck about that low-talent, bigoted little git if Scalzi hadn't given him so much attention. He might as well have announced to the entire fandom "Vox Day is worth paying attention to."

Now Vox gets the kinds of fan numbers that can be effectively used to promote his brand, along with plenty of SFWA-provided wood to nail himself to in a way that will impress low-information fans. VD also has what will no doubt be a lifelong grudge against Scalzi. Scalzi self promotes? Vox Day's gonna do it, too, and do it better, and beat him at his own game.

And here we are, reaping what we have sown.

Edited at 2014-04-21 06:12 am (UTC)

I think it's pretty clear to anyone with more than an ounce of integrity that VD is a slime-ball, just read one of his many blog posts, if you can stomach it. He's offensive in a way I suspect most values voters would find abhorrant as well.

What kind of audience does that leave him with?

Dunno, but I'm pretty sure whichever party captures the Dr. Who fans will pretty much write the whole ballot.

Though that implies the two competing parties won't just be Old!Who fandom vs. New!Who fandom with New Adventures!Who fandom acting as the spoiler/floating voters, thereby leading to all hugo awards boiling down to a fight to see who can heap the most amount of praise upon Paul McGann.

[fanboy]Excuse me, but the New Adventures focused upon the Seventh Doctor played by Sylvester McCoy. McGann's Eighth Doctor had his own novel series, but it wasn't published by Virgin and therefore sucks. Now before you embarrass yourself further, why don't you go back to watching Lost in Space.[/fanboy]

I agree. The cat's out of the bag now. If you want to get nominated you're probably going to have to campaign and rally your fans.
As to how many parties are viable I think 2 are now: Scalzi vs Correia but that can change if Martin or someone as popular as him or Rowling (don't think she wants anything to do with the Hugos) or their fans get involved.
I think SF writers will have to learn not just from the 2 Latin Kings but also from romance writers on how to promote, run campaigns, unleash street teams (I think that's what they are called) etc...

re: Latin Kings sorry. I mixed up two movies Mambo Kings and Latin Kings of Comedy. Also didn't know that Latin Kings were a gang until I googled. I didn't mean to imply that either were members of a gang or comedians. :(

This is the funniest correction I have seen in a long time.

I mean that as a compliment.

...the next step would seem to be formal parties, each offering a different slate of candidates. How many of those do you think are viable in a system like the Hugos?

Rose Lemberg may already identified two parties:
As I see it, there is currently a split in the fandom. I tentatively think of it as a split between Golden Age fans and Diversity Age fans.

(She also speaks of Golden Age authors and Diversity Age authors.)

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