Why I Will Not Vote “No Award” for the Hugos

There’s been a great deal of noise about this year’s Hugo nominees.  Larry Correia suggested a slate of candidates, writers who were conservative, and all of them made the ballot.  The howls of outrage reached nigh unto Heaven.  The howls coming, of course, from those who are anything but conservative.

Both sides have been talking about voting for their preferred candidates and then “No Award” ahead of the other side’s nominees.

SIX_TWC_TheButcherofKhardov_CoverIn order to vote, one must buy a membership to the World Science Fiction Convention, either attending or supporting.  This year’s convention is in London, with the cost of a supporting membership being about $42, give or take a little depending on the exchange rate.

For the last several year’s I’ve bought a supporting membership.  Well, last year I didn’t because Worldcon was (barely) within driving distance, so I actually attended.  (Con report here and here.)  In the last few years, part of what you get for your membership is copies of the written nominees, plus samples of the editorial nominees’ work, and at least some of the graphic nominees.  This year Orbit refused to release the full text of three of the novels, providing only excerpts.

Looking at the slate of this year’s nominees, here’s what I see. 

I’m not going to read The Wheel of Time, even if Tor is providing the entire series  to registered voters.  I’m certainly not going to bother with the excerpts.  None of them appeal to me enough to spend my money on, and an excerpt is not enough to determine whether the entire novel is worthy.  Of course, Orbit is owned by Hachette, which is paranoid about piracy and really doesn’t appear to care about their authors.  (See current spat with Amazon.)  The only novel that looks interesting is the one by Correia himself, but it’s the third volume of a series I haven’t read yet.  I won’t vote for something I haven’t read.  (Which is not the same as voting if I haven’t read all the nominees.)

When it comes to the novellas, I’ve read The Butcher of Khardov (review here).  Brad Torgerson has a story in the novella and novellette categories (review here).  Any of these would be worthy winners, and I would have trouble deciding between the two novellas. I have or can get copies of all the others except the Valente story.

lights_in_the_deep_mediumTorgerson’s novellette nomination is the only one of that group I’ve read.  The one about the lady astronaut sounds sexist, or at least the title could be taken that way.  I’ve got the volume containing the de Bodard, but haven’t read it.  The only one of this group I have a strong interest in reading is the one I’ll not name because his name attracts trolls.  I doubt I could find a review of this one that I knew was unbiased since this work’s inclusion on the ballot is probably more controversial than everything else about the awards put together.

I have, or can get for free, copies of all the short story nominees, none of which I’ve read, although I’ve read excerpts of the Swirsky.

As for the rest of the nominees, with the exception of Toni Weisskopf for Best Editor Long Form, I’m either unfamiliar with the nominees (e.g., Graphic and Dramatic categories), don’t have strong feelings (e.g., Editor Short Form), or think some or all of the nominees aren’t worth a plugged nickel.

I’ve been debating for a few weeks about whether I should get a membership so I can vote.  We just bought a car today, so cash is going to be a bit strapped for a few weeks, assuming nothing breaks.  (Since on the 8th day God told Murphy “You’re in charge,” I’m not holding my breath.)

So it’s not that I have ethical or philosophical objections to voting “No Award”.  Quite the opposite in fact.  There is at least one category that I would put “No Award” before all the nominees.  I would very much like to buy and membership and vote.  But…

I will not vote “No Award” because I’m not going to vote at all.  I don’t think the privilege of voting is worth the cost of a membership given my current cash situation, especially since I have copies of most of the nominees.

4 thoughts on “Why I Will Not Vote “No Award” for the Hugos

  1. Ty Johnston

    This brouhaha is yet another reason I don’t become involved with the professional organizations within genres I truly love. There always seems to be some drama going on. And frankly, politics has more than seeped over into fandom and publishing in the last decade or so, and I have no use for it whatever the sides might be.

    1. Keith West Post author

      You’re right about the drama. It seems that there’s a group having a fit of the vapors over something almost every week these days. And if it isn’t political, they make it so.

  2. Tom Smith

    I DID cast a “No Award” vote, in the Short Story category. John Chu’s “gimmick” – an out-from-nowhere soaking that plagued liars — was too thin to carry a story that otherwise had a bit of merit. Rachel Swirsky’s paean to her hubby was cute, but too light and, perhaps, too personal. I sort of liked Sofia Samatar’s story, but again, the SF/F element was thin. Thomas Olde Heuvelt’s was the best of the bunch, but it’s not one I could see myself re-reading on purpose. If this quartet represented the very best of what was published in this category in 2013, I fear for the genre as whole.
    I could not permit myself to vote “The Wheel of Time” series higher than 5th; no disrespect intended to the author(s), but I don’t understand how an entire series, most of which was written before 2007, ended up on this year’s ballot.

  3. Tom Smith

    I’ve got to add one further comment, on the novelettes: Mary Kowal’s story, about the lady astronaut, brought me to tears. (I voted it #1; the others I voted, in order, as their comments follow.) Ted Chiang’s story hit very close to home; as I approach my 64th birthday, I find myself doubting my own memory, as does Chiang’s protagonist. And Vox Day’s story of a cloistered elf was clever, poignant, and well done. Aliette de Bodard and Brad Torgersen rounded out that category, and both were competently done. I’d have to say this was the strongest category out of the entire 2014 ballot.

    I do my best to avoid politics in my decisions. Literary merit takes a back seat only to a strong emotional reaction to what I read. Any author who can move me to deep sorrow, righteous indignation, profound grief, gut-wrenching disgust, or various other profound emotional responses, presents to me what I regard as the primary reason why I read. The Chu story I mentioned in a previous response focused on a pair of gay men; as a confirmed heterosexual, I could not identify with the lead characters, but the narrator’s sister’s over-the-top denial of her brother’s sexuality rallied me to the side of the man and his partner. Political viewpoints are fine in the stories, and I believe in vigorous discussion of opposing viewpoints in panel discussions. But to somehow influence a single political viewpoint with respect to what ends up on ANY ballot in ANY voting situation smacks of discrimination. Openness and choice should ALWAYS be options.


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