Okay, so the Hugo Award winners were announced, and there’ve been a few questions of what I’d have to say about it. So here we go. My response?
Yeah, that’s pretty much it. There seem to be a lot of news outlets saying how shocked and surprised they are that Jemisin took the first ever triple-crown … but she said she was going to do that three years ago when her first book won. As did her publisher, and her friends … In fact, most of the comments I saw from last years Hugo Awards were of the vein of ‘something else better not win, because Jemisin deserves this!’ Same for this year, though it was more of a ‘How could anything else win? Jemisin is going to have the triple!’
So my response to this year’s winners is “And?” Or maybe “So?”
No one is surprised by this list of winners. The triple-crown has been talked about for three years now. It’d be kind of like if all the Oscar or Academy Awards panels started talking about a film that none of them had seen yet, but already expected to win three years out. And kept talking about how it would win. And then it wins. Would anyone be shocked?
Yeah. Same here. So my response. “And?” Did anyone expect any different? No. Did anyone expect any surprise? No. This was declared by the Hugo crowd three years ago. And since no one votes for the Hugo’s but that tight little Hugo clique … big woof. Congrats and all that. This is like that old 80s-90s bit about the High School cheerleading group being in charge of the yearbook and making it … about the cheerleading group. No one is surprised.
But … if one really wants to know what else I think of the Hugo’s still being around, well, there is one thing worth noting: the number of votes.
See, the Hugos released their voting stats, which you can look at right here. And, now that the Hugo Awards have gone back to “their roots” so-to-speak, or as GRRM put it, to the people that matter (not the plebians of fantasy and Sci-Fi), the numbers of active participants are … well, exactly what you expect from an award that told everyone who wasn’t part of their little special clique to butt out: tiny.
Two-thousand voters. Yikes. And to think that just a few years ago, before GRRM eloquently made the point that the Hugo Award was not for the normal folks, but for the elite, those who could afford to attend every year and meet the stringent requirements of membership, they were getting over 10,000 voters. That’s quite the exodus.
Interestingly enough, in that same comment chain (again, which has since been wiped from the internet, and some of which can only be found through the wayback machine) that he was fully in support of those who didn’t like the Hugo’s elitism going elsewhere and finding a more ‘for the people’ award.
Interesting how quickly that tune changed when the Dragon Awards became a real thing and aimed to do exactly that. Maybe it’s because in that same statement he declared that he’d probably win it because a people’s award would obviously choose the same as the Hugos.
Well, that sure didn’t pan out.
Again, though, for me this just comes back to: And? It happened like most rational people guessed. The Hugo’s slammed their doors, declared that not all were welcome, that they were a special award for a special class of people (particularly, from GRRM’s comments, those with money to spare and a specific mindset), and that was that.
And the rest of the world said “Okay, that’s your prerogative. You have the freedom to do that.” Just … don’t expect the masses you so rudely showed the door to come crawling back in awe when the circle of friends goes “look what we did!” You can’t have it both ways. You can’t not have them there to participate, but have them there to shower you in accolades. That kind of activity went out with High School (and amusingly enough, is actually dying out in high-schools as well these days, if teens are to be believed).
You got your award, you got your tight-knit little group. You kicked everyone else who wanted to be part of it to the curb. You don’t get to then act like they’re all there after the award they were told not to participate in is awarded. None of them are.
The world’s moved on from the Hugos. They cater to their very specific, small crowd. And good for them. But they can’t pretend to represent anyone else. They’re a small crowd. That’s probably why the librarians and readers I know are so nonplussed with the Hugos: They’re not for them. They’re for the Hugo crowd, that little clump of 2300 voters who want to believe they are the world.
So yeah. And? They assigned an award they already declared as winner three years ago. Okay? And?
I’m going to go back to writing and reading stuff now. They can slap their sticker on the cover and hope it does something. For those who are already ensconced in Sci-Fi and Fantasy, it’s not going to do much. For those new to the genre, it does have a high chance of turning away new readers unless that reader happens to be of the specific audience the Hugo Award writes to. Which is a pretty small margin, given those voting numbers. Author Earnings puts the sales of Sci-Fi and Fantasy books in 2017 at around 27,000,000. Even if that’s taken up by readers buying five books apiece, that’d still be 5,000,000 fans of Sci-Fi and Fantasy. And we know the number isn’t that low, given the boom of Sci-Fi and Fantasy in just about every medium.
So yeah, narrow, tiny little group. And the one they wanted to win their award won it. So yeah … and? Pretty much forgone three years ago, when they announced it would happen. Old news.
Anyway, I’ve got writing to do. Books don’t write themselves!
EDIT: As a friend of mine just put it: “You can’t be independent of everyone, and then claim to be relevant to everyone. Either you effect each other or you don’t.”