Bill Roper (billroper) wrote,
Bill Roper

On Awards

I see folks are talking about awards. So let's start from the smaller end of the spectrum and work up toward the larger one and see where I get to.

I'm a filker. I've won three Pegasus Awards (although I've always credited my joint win with Clif far more to him than to me; I was simply swimming in his wake) and been nominated a number of times. And I appreciate every one of them and I thank everyone who has ever nominated and voted for me over the years. I find that -- and I suspect this is no different from most people -- the affirmation is always a positive thing, win or lose. So thank you all again.

Of course, the Pegasus Awards are nominated by a small, self-selecting pool of people. There's no fee required to nominate, although the committee does try to make sure that the nominations are restricted to members of the filk community, because it would take very little for a small, outside group to massively skew the nominations. (Sound familiar?)

And I know there are various log-rolling efforts that have occurred over the years. I've pushed Juanita Coulson and her song, Chess, for a long time, because I consider it one of the seminal filk works that broke out of the more usual mode of filk a long time ago. And I was gratified when Juanita won a Pegasus Award for Best Writer/Composer a few years ago, as she'd never won one for anything over the years.

On a different note, I consider it a crime that Barry Childs-Helton has never won the Best Writer/Composer Pegasus. I could go on at length, but would you just listen to his body of work? Heck, just check out Dream of a Far Light. Consider that log pushed down the slope again. :)

Of course, the level of log-rolling above is pretty minor. (In my opinion. :) ) There've been more coordinated log-rolling campaigns, some that I've heard of, no doubt some others that I haven't. These things happen.

And all of this occurs for the Pegasus Awards, in an area where a "career" being affected by winning is a pretty unlikely concept.

So it pretty much has to be worse for the Hugo Awards.

Understand that the Hugo Awards don't have much truck with filkers. I still remember back when whatever Worldcon committee that it was decreed a category for the Watchmen Hugo so that they could get it the heck out of the Best Novel category. Of course, they had to find some other things that might in theory populate the category, so they declared that filksongs were eligible there too.

In the year that they were first performed. Not in the year that they were actually set in tangible media so that a larger group could hear them, but when they were first sung in a circle.

Thanks loads, guys. Well, at least they made their intentions pretty clear. A song that might have been heard by 50 people got to compete against publications with runs in the hundreds of thousands. I mean, you couldn't have expected the playing field to be level, but this one was pretty much vertical.

But I digress.

I do not have a lot of time to read SF lately. I'm lucky to read a half a dozen books in a year. I used to read every issue of Analog when it arrived at my home. But that was a long time ago.

And the SF field is much larger now. I'd have a great deal of trouble trying to keep up with what's out there even if I had the time to make the effort.

So I don't nominate for the Hugos since I dropped off the Worldcon circuit. I barely nominated in the years before I dropped off and a fair number of those were for people who suggested to me privately that maybe I could nominate their work.

(And no, I am not going to name any names. The names are not important. Please, please, please do not assume that any particular individual was engaging in this sort of private log-rolling because of my statement, because you are entirely likely to be wrong. Just take it as a fact that it happened -- and remember that I'm not exactly the most politically connected guy out there in fandom. :) )

How are people going to find things to nominate in a world with so much SF and fantasy out there that we can't consume the entire stream from the fire hose? Well, sometimes people make recommendations. Depending on who they are, their recommendations are going to carry more or less clout. That's not a great surprise either.

And sometimes, a group decides they don't like the mass of things that are on the Hugo ballot and that they need to make some recommendations of their own. And they're pretty aggressive about it. (In relative terms.)

And you get Sad Puppies.

Now my first opinion about this year's results is pretty straightforward -- I refuse to believe that one individual wrote three of the best five stories in a particular category in a particular year. Or at least I find it pretty unlikely.

Of course, I also found it unlikely that Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form should be dominated by Doctor Who episodes. And that went on for years.

So if you ask me what the first thing to do to fix the process is, I'd say that you should limit nominations for an author or a TV series to one per category.

But the second thing that I think is that the Sad Puppies have actually created a useful working model.

The SF fire hose is too big for almost all of us to consume.

In the world that we live in, a recommended and well-publicized set of nomination suggestions from people whose opinion you trust is invaluable in telling you what to go read and consider nominating. Whether you call them Sad Puppies, or slate-makers, or curators, or reviewers, this sort of slate can perform a valuable function.

In fact, it's even useful if you disagree with the opinion of the people who put together the slate. As Spider Robinson long ago observed, a book reviewer who you disagree with 100% of the time performs a valuable service for you. If he likes it, you don't want to read it. :)

So it may be that the best way forward for the Hugo Awards is for there to be a lot of trusted slate-makers out there giving you their recommendations -- because if they don't, you just end up drowning in the fire hose and you don't find the stuff that you like so that you can nominate it on a timely basis.

I could be wrong about this, of course.
Tags: awards, filk, home, hugo, musings, sf, worldcon

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