April 15th, 2015

green leaves

Voting in the Hugos, practical issues and a few thoughts

There are people-- probably a good many of them-- who would enjoy nominating for and voting in the Hugo awards, but they don't know how feasible it is.

Hugos are voted on by members of the World Science Fiction Convention. It isn't an award given by a committee.

All you need to nominate and vote for the Hugos is a supporting membership at Worldcon, which costs $40 this year.

In order to be nominated, a work needs to have come out in the calendar year before the Worldcon that it will be voted on. Sometimes whether a work has come out in a calendar year is a judgement call-- for example, if a different version came out in an earlier year, it has to be different enough for the current version to be eligible.

A lot of people seem to be hesitant about nominating and voting because they don't feel they know enough to identify the best.

At the nominating stage, it impossible (and therefore not obligatory) to be familiar with the whole field. As I see it, the Hugos are the result of a rudimentary group mind-- no individual voter has enough information to truly know the best of the field, but people cooperate to identify what generally turns out to be good work. There's a consensus that it was possible for a dedicated person to keep up with print sf until sometime in the 80s, which was a while ago.

At the voting stage, there are people who believe they need to read all the nominees on the ballot before they vote, though I believe the inclusion of the whole Wheel of Time series last year has discouraged that level of conscientiousness. I say that you should at least start reading everything you vote for, but you have no obligation to keep reading anything that bores or revolts you.

You don't need to fill out the whole ballot. Voting for one nominee in one category is enough to make a ballot valid.

You can put anything you think is not worthy of a Hugo below No Award. If you want to minimize the chances of a work winning at all, don't list it on the ballot.

The Hugos cover both fantasy and science fiction, and whether a work counts as sf is left up to the voters.

Here are the voting opportunities a supporting membership gets you:

If you join a worldcon by January 31 of year before it, you get three years of the right to nominate for the Hugos. Otherwise, you get two years.

You get one year of voting for the Hugos.

There is an additional fee for site selection voting; that fee buys you a supporting membership in whichever Worldcon's location is being voted on. For instance, if you are a member of the 2015 Worldcon, you can pay the site selection fee and become a member of the 2017 Worldcon, regardless of whether your top choice for the 2017 site wins the vote or not.

You get whatever electronic copies of nominees the publishers chose to provide. This varies from one year to another.

Nominations are closed for this year, but here's the information in case you want it for next year. Nominating a work means *you* think it's worthy of a Hugo, and you don't need to be an expert in sf to have that sort of opinion. I believe the group mind works because it's made of independent opinions, so I recommend nominating based on your enthusiasm rather than nominating based on other people's recommendations.

It can be a good idea to keep track of what you've really liked-- you won't necessarily have it come to mind when you doing nominations.

You can nominate anything that meets the qualifications, but I recommend against nominating things you think are vaguely alright because you want to have something in the category.

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