Editorial 2: The Hugo Awards or How To Talk About Them Without Looking Like A Clueless Asshole – or – HuGo Look It Up, I Already Did!

Facebook, Twitter and a handful of popular websites have once again been addressing so-called “puppy sadness” this week following the reveal of the 2017 finalists.

Over the intervening months we have – yet again – heard from people announcing false nominations (the least worrisome at this point) as well as the tried and true canards referencing the Old Guard, the Cabal, collusion by a small handful of influential individuals, control of the awards by a major publisher, denial that Worldcon is even its own separate thing, claims that the award “used” to mean something but is now a mark of works to avoid, not to mention the ever present background (Gregorian) chant that “The Hugos Are Dead (long live the Dragons)”.

Some of these statements are mere trolling, the follow-on drool of patients suffering from too much losing, too much embarrassment, too much time spent in the stocks while wooden asterisks are shown (not thrown) to them.  This we can safely ignore as the sheep bleatings that they are.

But other of these complaints come across as genuine.  Folks who swallowed the blue pill and then discovered that things had not gone back to the way they always had been.

Some of us have been discussing this phenomena and have largely come to the conclusion this it is a case of self-projection:  none of these – I’ll use the word ‘critics’ in substitution for a word that begins with A – seems to be able to wrap their heads around fandom’s volunteerism and meritocracy.  They look at Worldcon and the Hugos through a lens of their own devising and can’t figure out why anyone would want to, say, become Chair of a Worldcon and then give it up…instead of doing what they would do, like keeping the title and using it to make money or gain influence.  They’re stunted by their own mean little view of the world and are compelled to devise conspiracy theories in order to try and understand it all.

The real shame is that the vast amount of their confusion could be easily laid to rest if they just accessed the voluminous information about the award and Worldcon that can be found on the web.

Some of the history can only be found in books (they ought to read those as well) such as:

The Immortal Storm by Sam Moskowitz
A Wealth of Fable & All Our Yesterdays by Harry Warner Jr.
The Futurians by Damon Knight
The Way the Future Was by Frederick Pohl
In Memory Yet Green by Isaac Asimov

Among other things, you’ll learn about Don Wollheim and Fred Pohl taking on the editorship of cheap SF pulps in order to be able to purchase the stories by their friends…authors like Kornbluth and Asimov and Bradbury.  The pay – for them – was abysmal, but they took on the task to further the cause of science fiction.

You could, of course, visit the Hugo Awards website www.thehugoawards.org

The long list of Worldcons – http://www.smofinfo.com/LL/TheLongList.html and get actual attendance, location and date information…

You could even visit the World Science Fiction Association’s website for Worldcon – www.worldcon.org…or (say it ain’t so) visit The World Science Fiction Society’s website – www.wsfs.org – where it proudly states that “The World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) is an unincorporated literary society whose purposes,…”.  and visit this site to learn about “unincorporated literary associations”,  They are a real thing!

If, say, your argument was that Worldcon was a little con, a tiny con, mean, barbarous and cruel that attached itself like a parasite to other, regularly operating regional conventions such as Balticon, you could check the facts by going to the Long List and determining that Constellation, the 41st WorldCon, held at the Baltimore Convention Center on September 1-5 of 1983

could not possibly have been held at Balticon 17, that was held at the Hyatt-Regency on April 1-3…

Which information, incidentally, be found on Wikipedia.

If you have suspicions of vote fixing, you can find all of the data on the Hugo Awards website.  Attendance info too.

The bottom line is this:  You don’t HAVE to be stupid when it comes to the Hugo Awards and Worldcon – unless you want to be.

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