Why Hugo voters picked “No Award” in two major literature categories

Why Hugo voters picked “No Award” in two major literature categories

The Hugo Awards are arguably the most prestige award in science fiction literature (they also cover other media).

They’ve been around for well over fifty years, and many a geek like me has used the awards as a discovery tool. Winning a Hugo certainly helped your career, and upped your geek cred.

There was a considerable controversy this year, as I’ve mentioned before.

As explained in this

Wired article by Holly Andres

a group of authors tried to guide the nominations (and awards) to go to books not based solely on their intrinsic value, but on the nature of their content.

As I understand it, their argument would be that they are preserving the historic style of science fiction.

Many fans (or “fen”, to use the geeky terminology) felt that the campaign was unreasonably non-inclusive.

How did the votes go?

You can see the results in this

Official Site

None of the campaign’s promoted works won. If there was a category that only had campaign nominated-works, the voters chose instead “No Award”…sort of like “none of the above”.

The winners in literature were:

Best Novel: The Three-Body Problem (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit by shopping*)
by Cixen Liu (translated by Ken Liu)

Best Novella: No Award

Best Novellette: “The Day the World Turned Upside Down”
by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (translated by Lia Belt)

Best Short Story: No Award

Best Editor (short form, long form): No Awards

I’ll just say, I’m not happy that no awards were given out in some of these categories…although I appreciate a principled stand.

I also feel sorry for all of the authors: this is going to be seen as an “asterisk” year, where it was simply being the best writer that won the category (of course, is that ever true?).

People who were nominated by the campaign may also suffer from that…even if they didn’t agree with the campaign’s position.

I don’t quite know what you do about this in the future…I don’t think any rules were broken. You could change the rules, but how  would you do that?

What do you think? Do the Hugo awards matter to you? Is it possible to have a “fan nominated” process which can not be corrupted? If you were a Hugo voter, what would have done?

Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

13 Responses to “Why Hugo voters picked “No Award” in two major literature categories”

  1. Man in the Middle Says:

    My conclusion from the nuclear war over the last two year’s Hugos is twofold: 1) I’m no longer interested in buying anything from the publisher Tor, which allegedly considered the Hugos as its private fiefdom for years, and 2) Whether a book has won a Hugo or not is no longer of any concern to me whatsoever.

    On the bright side, I really don’t need to care, as 1) I have plenty of good Kindle Unlimited books to read without added cost, and 2) via Kindle samples and Amazon reader reviews, I can easily now form my own opinion about books to read quite apart from any and all “awards”.

    I think you’re inclined to support the opposite side from me in this controversy, based on who we each trust as sources, but expect we can agree that readers are now free to make their own informed choices of books to read.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Man!

      I suspect you are correct on both of your last points. 🙂

      You’ve got me thinking more about the current value of any awards, whether fan-nominated or maven-curated. May be worth a post by itself…

  2. Crystal Says:

    The 2015 awards were the 73rd annual. I was a Hugo voter and for $40 you can be a Hugo voter, too.

    So what did I do as a Hugo voter? I felt sick about the whole thing, then I read the nominees and voted for the ones I thought were award-worthy. (Some of the slate nominees were truly awful. Just embarrassingly bad.) I really feel for Marco Kloos who wrote a great book but declined his nomination for best novel because he was a slate nominee. I am not a mil-SF reader at all, but if you haven’t read him before, pick up Terms of Enlistment. Bonus: it’s available on Kindle Unlimited for free!

    What surprised me through this process was that even though this year had record-setting high participation, the number of people choosing the winners is tiny. 400 people is enough to dominate the nomination for best novel and the numbers drop off sharply after that category. There were fewer than 6,000 votes cast this year.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Crystal!

      Correct…I suppose I could have said, “nearly seventy-five years”, but what I said was true 😉 I’ve been to a World Con, but it’s been a while.

      There all kinds of negatives out of this situation, regardless of how you feel. Super qualified books may have been excluded. Authors which were included will have an asterisk. The Hugos have probably been devalued for some people. You (and probably other Hugo voters) were distressed by it. The campaigners have gotten some bad publicity. Arguably, if their goal was to disrupt the Hugos (as opposed to influencing the genre), they have accomplished that…

      I think a general post on awards from me will come out of this.

  3. John Aga Says:

    I have to second the positive recommendation for Marko Kloos and his novel Terms Of Enlistment. As far as I know the first KDP book to be nominated for a Hugo. It was a worthy nominee but he withdrew it from consideration because of the controversy.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, John!

      Actually, just to clarify, this was a KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) book. It was published by one of Amazon’s traditional publishing imprints, 47North.

      That’s an important distinction. Anybody (who follows the guidelines) can publish a KDP book. 47North is traditional publishing: they choose which books to publish.

      I did go ahead and put the first book on my Kindle Fire HDX…I’ll read it fairly soon.

      Thanks for commenting again on this issue! I mentioned you the first time I wrote about this:


  4. Lady Galaxy Says:

    Having taught elementary school for over a decade, this reminded me of kids on opposite sides of the playground taunting each other:

    Group one: “My nominees are better than your nominees!”

    Group two: “Is not!”

    Group one: “Is too!”

    The person on playground blows the whistle and takes away recess from everybody including the kids who were not even involved.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      I like to jokingly say that I teach the hardest age group…adults. 😉

      In this case, the Hugo Awards weren’t taken away by the organization (the adult on the playground), but the “No Award” was determined by the voters, which is a bit different.

  5. Scotto Says:

    I will still use the Hugo winners and nominations for discovering new authors but it has diminished in importance in recent years with the advent of Amazon, SF Podcast and SF Magazine recommendations. Luckily with Amazon samples I can avoid the dogs.

    As for the Hugo kerfuffle, I believe John Scalzi said it all with his appropriate clip from Star Trek III with the Klingons invading the bridge of the Enterprise. Those Sad/Rabid Puppy misanthropes can’t halt progress, they can only illuminate how backward they are. Science Fiction (or Speculative Fiction as some call it now) has always been about taking present trends and exstrapolating it out to show show possible consequences – for good or bad. It’s a cautionary tale that hopefully also entertains. The Sad/Rabid Puppy ideal of sanitized space westerns is just a product of their white supremacist philosophies.

    I hope in the future that the slate nomination loophole can be closed, but I am heartened by the fact the membership reacted positively and shut out the badly written mli-sf crap the puppies were forcing upon us.

    • Scotto Says:

      I’m a baaaaad typist. Should be “extrapolating” and “mil-sf”.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Scotto!

      The term “speculative fiction” was championed by Robert Heinlein…I believe it goes back the 1940s. 🙂 You are right, though…some people do use it now.

  6. John Aga Says:

    Does the New York Times Book Review and other book review sources like it treat KDP books and their authors as well or worse than books and authors from the Big 5 publishers or other smaller traditional publishers. I also hear the term Indi-Author. Are KDP books and authors perceived as being Indi-authors and Indi-published by them and therefore second class citizens or worse?

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