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Posts Tagged ‘hugo awards’

Today Cirsova magazine, which has been nominated for a Hugo as Best Semi-prozine, announced its nomination package (i.e., the selection of stories it wants to present to voters), and one of my stories, for a wonder, is in there. This is, of course, a great hardship for me, since now if I say anything about the Hugos, I have to include a disclaimer. (I’m not sure if this post counts.) This does not mean I’ve been nominated myself, but it’s thrilling to be thought worthy to be a part of the magazine’s pitch to the voters.

On the other hand, it’s also an awesome responsibility, because now I’m the de facto ambassador for the talking gorillas and human/wolverine hybrids from the future who told me the story in the first place. (Yeah, it’s that weird.)*

If you’re not going to Helsinki in August, you can read the story here for free. If you are going to Helsinki, all I ask is that you give all of the nominees a fair shot.

Happy reading!

 

*Shameless plug: If you like this story, it was an inspiration for my novel The Invisible City, available here and here.

#SFWApro

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Yes, of course you’re not supposed to, but everybody does. At least in the paperback section. There’s no use denying it; the big publishers spend a lot of time and money on getting the right (they think) covers, even if it usually means the picture bears little resemblance to the to the story. And the Hugo Award for Best Artist is really an award for the best cover(s), further proving their importance to the field.

Although the cover sometimes depicts a scene that is to be found nowhere on the same shelf as anything in the book it adorns, it still tries to convey the feeling of the story, or at least the genre. Which is why, despite vehement opposition from some quarters and a great reluctance on my own part, I have decided to commission a new cover for the e-book version of The Invisible City. (For now, you can see the current cover on my home page.) Don’t get me wrong, I love the cover. I think it’s gorgeous, I commissioned the cover of The Secret City to be in the same vein, and I already know what I want for the cover of The Cosmic City. It will make a nice set, at least on paper. But that first cover does not convey the spirit of the planetary romance plot, and so it has to be replaced. Whether the other e-books will follow suit will depend on sales trends.

Tonight I received the first version of the new cover, and whoa! It wasn’t what I envisioned, but it hits you in the face like a brick. There is no question what kind of book it’s describing, although it will require a few alterations to be more genre-specific.

I’m also going to need a little time to process the change. This was my first self-published novel, and I took great care in selecting a cover that spoke to me; switching to a new one will take time to get used to. Still, self-publishing was all an experiment, and experiments often evolve over time.

So here’s to the new phase of my experiment. As long as it doesn’t blow up the lab or turn me into a supervillain, I guess it will all work out.

#SFWApro

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Well, that was interesting. First let me say that my first time in Kansas City will likely be my last, but not through any fault of KC’s. The beer is good and the barbecue is delicious–what else do you need to host a Worldcon? “A convention center”? Well, if you insist. But the first two are more important.

So what was the con like, you ask? Very nice. I don’t normally attend a con for the panels any more; I’ve been to too many of both that were much the same as their predecessors, but this time there were a surprising number that I thought sounded interesting, even if some did not turn out the way I had hoped…

And yes, I’m talking about that panel. The now-infamous “State of Short Fiction” panel that precipitated Dave Trousdale’s ejection from the con. Reportedly, there were other infractions other than hijacking the panel (which he did), grossly insulting fans and writers (which he did indirectly), and robbing the audience of the chance to hear the thoughts of some of the premier short-fiction editors in the business. I don’t know about anything that happened outside of the panel, but I do know that he made the statements about “special snowflakes” that are attributed to him, and he did dump a load of “pearl” necklaces on the table so that anyone offended by his remarks could wear them for clutching purposes. (What is it about pearls and SF and controversy?) He also began to read from a prepared statement about the decline of SF because of political correctness, but the other panel members cut him off. Although there was some shouting, it came from the audience. All in all, regardless of the full extent of his transgressions, from what I personally witnessed, Mr. Trousdale’s ejection was his own doing,

All in all, although exciting, it was pretty much a waste of time. Which was not the case in the other controversial panel.

I was also in attendance at the “Jane Austen and Mary Shelley” panel which eventuated Mary Robinette Kowal’s loss of membership. Yes, she did offer audience members alcohol, and they did take it, but she hardly hijacked the panel (quite the opposite). And she was scarcely acting as a bartender; it was friendly gesture to encourage questions (which it did), not a cheap gimmick to make a point. Nevertheless, she was censured, and she took it like an adult.

So two panels, one a circus, the other a Dorothy Parker roundtable. And I was present for both of them. Both resulted in the moderator being removed from the con, which only shows that the rules (regardless of the complaints of some who were not there) were administered evenly.

It also illustrates today’s lesson: Don’t let me into your panels if you want to stick around for the rest of the con.

Next: The Hugo Awards

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It’s been a while since I last posted, and while no one out there is setting his watch by my contributions to Internet immortality, I’ve gotten kind of used to making them, so in lieu of anything really important, I thought I’d just put a few things down on “paper.” Blame it on my need to say something. I’m a writer; it’s what we do.

Hugo controversy. Again? Even I’m tired of this by now. I do not plan to weigh in unless something really gets my goat, other than to say that I hope people vote for the works they think deserve an award, no matter who wrote it or nominated it. That’s the point. As to the controversy itself, every bad thing comes to an end. I promise. (That goes for the Hugos and the current election cycle.)

I’m working. This is shaping up to be a good year. I’ve sold three stories, and I just passed the 20,000 word mark on The Cosmic City. Honestly, it’s going places I had no idea existed when I started. Writing it’s a wild ride, and I hope reading it will be as well. When it’s finished I’m going back to short stories for a while. It’s like varying your exercise routine to stress different muscles.

A new name? I’ve been reading that if you’re going to publish in different genres, you need to adopt different names. Readers supposedly will become confused if they see an SF novel, then a mystery, then an urban fantasy, all by the same author. Isaac Asimov wrote over 100 books on all kinds of subjects (fiction and non-fiction), and it doesn’t seem to have hurt him that they were under his name. Now, I’m not claiming to be Asimov, but I wonder if that bit of conventional wisdom is true. Have things changed that much since he was writing?

 

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Warning: This concerns the recurring fiasco of who/what/how/why we vote for the Hugo Awards. (At this point I’m not even sure exactly why people are fighting over it.) If you don’t care about the Hugos, then (a) good for you, and (b) see you next time. But if you do care, or if you are honestly confused, then perhaps the following will prove of some benefit.

Five Reasons Why the Hugo Kerfuffle is Like the Presidential Election.

1) It’s come down to people calling each other names. (Okay, the Hugo fight started that way.) Hugo partisans have called each other neo-Nazis, Social Justice Warriors, homophobes, liberals, and other terms I won’t repeat here. Even spouses have come in for insult (on both sides). In the election debates, people call each other neo-Nazis, closet liberals, RINOs, and small-handed. Even spouses have come in for insult (on both sides).

2) The Hugos are haunted by the specter of an outsider who has expressed his desire to burn the entire program to the ground. The election is haunted by the specter of at least one candidate who threatens by his very presence to burn his party’s entire program to the ground.

3) The Sad Puppies brag that they brought thousands of new voters to the Hugos last year. Donald Trump brags that he has brought millions of new voters to his party. Whether either of their successes proves long-term remains to be seen.

4) Last year, the “No Award” avalanche lead to threats that many will boycott the awards this year. This year, the idea that certain candidates may not receive their parties’ respective nominations have lead to threats that voters will boycott the general election.

5) The Hugo controversy has pitted fandom against itself, creating fissures and scars that may require decades to heal, if ever. The election controversy is splitting the American public against itself, revealing fissures and scars that have not healed in centuries, and may never do so.

6) Bonus! Both the Hugo controversy and the election are being conducted in the most childish, self-destructive, and futile manner possible. People screaming epithets at each other has never solved an issue. It only leads to violence, which leads to more violence, which leads to five years of bloodshed from Fort Sumter to Appomattox.

I have a solution. It’s very simple: Calm down. Use your indoor voices. Behave like adults. Set an example for your children that your parents would be proud of.

Because if you don’t, I’m going to have to start sending people to bed without supper. And nobody wants that.

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It’s awards time again. We’ve already had the BAFTAs and the Grammys, the Oscars on soon to arrive…and our little corner of the world is not to be left out. Nominations have just closed on the Nebulas, and the Hugo nominees are open (which reminds me, I have to nominate).

As everyone (who pays attention to these things) knows, the last few years have seen more than usual contentiousness in the Hugo arena, and last year was a plain disaster. Talk about “a tale … full of sound and fury, signifying nothing!” I mean, honestly, except for those directly involved in the awards (i.e., the nominees), these things don’t mean a whole lot. When you’re talking the scale of the Academy Awards, yes, a win can mean serious money, but in SF, not so much. It’d be a hell of a thing to win one, but other than yourself, who would that affect? According to the pitched battle we saw last year, apparently a lot of people.

My personal less-than-scientific survey points to most of the people most hyped up about this subject actually being writers, which could explain much, as they have an actual, or at least potential, interest in the outcome. But that would assign a selfish motive when as far as I can see, the greater part of the argument stems from a disagreement over what kinds of stories should be nominated for awards: fun stuff that puts “story” first and restores the classic “sense of wonder,” or edgier fare that seeks to explore deeper into who we are and what we’re doing to ourselves and each other–and in doing so often puts emphasis on who is in the action, rather than on the action itself.

I will not take sides; I like both. One day you want a napoleon, one day you want a donut. But which do you find in the Great British Baking Show ? Which should you?

As far as I’m concerned, awards are for exceptional work. “Exceptional” implies “unusual,” perhaps “unique.” For this reason, award tend toward the edgy. Doesn’t matter which award. That’s why the Best Picture Oscar didn’t go to Star Wars, Avatar, or The Avengers. Fine flicks, but not really Best Pictures; we’d seen it all before. Comedy doesn’t get the proper respect, either, probably because those voting have never tried to write it.

There is an element of the emperor’s new clothes here; sometimes people vote for the new because they want to be thought of as au courant, and are afraid they’ll be seen as old if they don’t. But most people vote this way because they want to reward the artist who has shown them something new, who has seen the future first, and taken the risk. (Because the same old stuff is safer. Not necessarily easier, but safer. Not that there’s anything wrong with going back to the classics.)

So I won’t take sides in the sense that you have to choose one or the other of your friends after they break up. But I will say that I stand with the “edgy” crowd when it comes to awards. Not that the “classic” can’t win (and in no way is the importance of “story” diminished), but those that stand up, stand out.

Actually, I guess that should be, “Those who stand out, will stand up.” As in, stand up to walk to the podium. Me, I’d probably trip over something, like Dick Van Dyke. And nobody would appreciate it, because comedy gets no respect.

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It being that time of year (in both worlds), I find it natural to wonder (because I have a very unhealthy imagination) whether it would behoove us all to restructure the Hugos to be more like the college football championship playoff series, and if so, how one would do so. (If you don’t give a short-circuited lightsaber for football, do not despair, all will be made clear.)

In football (generally speaking), all of the eligible teams in the country are ranked on a weekly basis by a committee of knowledgable and influential football pros/fans which considers win/loss records and strength of schedule. At the end of the season, four teams are picked for the play-offs, which take place in two stages: the semi-finals and the championship. Simple. In the Hugos, eligible works are nominated by members of the Worldcons (present and immediately past), and five or six reach the ballot, where the winner is selected by a system so convoluted that several (secret) master’s (of fandom) degrees have been awarded for papers explaining it.

The football playoff system is the result of decades of trying to determine a fair way to pick a champion, and although in its infancy, seems to be working. The Hugo system is the result of decades of the same process without significant difficulty, until recently when it seems not to be working. You can see the similarities. A playoff system is a good solution for both.

Witness the advantages (for the Hugos and fandom): A committee of knowledgable pros and fans sifts through all 10,000 possible nominees every year as they are published, and rates them monthly. Think of the time savings for the rest of us! Who would bother to read a story that has no realistic chance of winning? At the end of the Hugo season, a final list of four is published in each category, which constitutes the Hugo ballot. “Okay,” you’re saying about now, “that only replaces fan nominations with a selection committee. How is this better?” To which I reply, “Wait. There’s more.”

The fans do not vote for the stories on the Hugo ballot. There is no vote.

Each author is allowed to select one main character from  his story. Each such character is then inserted into a playoff round against a character from another story in the same category. (Yes, this only works for fiction, but it could work for Best Editor and Best Artist, too, and we could televise it.) Those characters then compete on the basis of pre-selected criteria, such as Depth of Characterization, Likability, and Character Growth. The semi-final winners would then face each other and the ultimate victor would receive the Hugo.

Think of the fun we could all have by comparing stats every week. Think of the arguments over All-time Best in the area of Thematic Relevance. The mind reels.

And the sponsorships! “The Apple Hugos.” “The Blizzard Entertainment Hugo Pre-Show.” With that kind of money, the Worldcon (presented by Bank of America) wouldn’t even need to charge for memberships!

Over the years, certain authors will be seen to attract more lucrative sponsorships, and, naturally, they will receive more nominations. More nominations = more sponsorship money = cheaper Worldcons. Meanwhile, we would be able to argue to our hearts’ content with no responsibility to vote. What could be more American?

 

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