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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Hugo Awards voters packet

I've just downloaded most of what is in the Hugo Voters Packet, which became available to members of the World Science Fiction Convention a couple of days ago. Although it's now most unlikely that I'll make it to the Worldcon in Spokane (a pity, but that's the way it goes), I do intend to vote for the Hugo Awards, at least in what I still think of as the main categories: i.e., the various categories of prose fiction.

I'll be reading as much of the material as I can, and I'll be voting squarely on what seem to me the merits of what I read. As is well known, there has been much controversy over the Hugos this year, and some people are even urging that we all vote for No Award in many of the categories. In my opinion, that would be an extreme reaction. It's unfortunate if some outstanding material has not ended up on the nomination lists because of politicized campaigning by some parties, but as long as there is material that I consider good enough to deserve an award I'll vote for it.

The Hugos have always been partly a popularity contest - i.e. popularity within the amorphous (but somewhat consistent) group of people who join the Worldcon from year to year. Very often, awards have been won by work that was probably not the best of the year, judged by the criteria that professional critics might use. And often, I expect, some deserving work has been overlooked. (That certainly applies to other popular awards with which I have some experience!)

Whatever the extent of the genuine problems, there has been a massive overreaction this year by a group of people (or, seemingly, two rather different groups of people) who are disenchanted.

I can think that those people have greatly exaggerated whatever real problems existed with the Hugos - and that they have made things worse by introducing an unprecedented level of blatant, politicized campaigning - without  wanting to take part in a campaign of retaliation that could destroy the awards. Further: I can think that those people are probably wrong, misguided, thinking about the issues ahistorically, acting counterproductively, etc., while also thinking that they, or at least most of them, are decent, sincere individuals who are doing their (misguided) best and may even have identified some good material that would normally be overlooked. As to the latter, we'll see. Meanwhile, some of these people have been subjected to personal vilification and abuse, harassment, and even death threats; there is utterly no place for any of this.

Once again, in any event, I plan to play it straight. I will vote for material on its merits, and I'll try to review some of it here.

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