L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

30 August 2006 Blog Home : August 2006 : Permalink

The Value of a Hugo

The Hugo awards are, allegedly, the cream of the SF awards and all in all good and wonderful things. Unfortunately it seems most fans can't be bothered to vote for them (or for whatever reason don't). I'm going to guess that some of this is that the electorate is limited to attendees to Worldcon and those people willing to stump up $40 or so for the privilege of voting.

The 2005 awards in Glasgow (PDF) attracted a total of 684 ballots in all categories (none contained votes for all categories) with 543 voting for best novel and 620 for best dramatic presentation (long) - the most popular category. Another important award, the Campbell Award for best newcomer attracted a mere 323 votes in total.
The 2006 awards in LA attracted similar numbers - I can't see the grand totals but I have seen that for best novel the total votes were 567 so one assumes the other numbers were similar.

The Emerald City blog has some comments that are worthwhile about how the potential recipients seem to treat them too.

But there is a wider issue to consider here, and that is the public profile of the Hugos and the respect they are accorded by the SF&F community at large. The level of participation in the Hugos is very low. I used to quote it at around 10% of the Worldcon membership, but on recent trends it is in danger of slipping as low as 5%. It seems like the voters don’t care any more. If people get into the habit of withdrawing in order to give others a chance, it will be much more difficult for the Awards to be taken seriously. It is all very well for people to be sentimental about the results, but we claim that the Hugos are the most prominent award in the SF&F industry. If the best people in the field keep withdrawing then they quite clearly are not.

It occurs to me (and it has occured to others) that what the Hugos need is a bit more push and pizazz and perhaps just a tad more involvement by people other than the 5-10% of wolrdcon attendeees and hence I'm going to try and organize a Baen Sweep for next year. This will probably be controversial, I expect that we'll get attacked for "ballot stuffing" "ballot rigging" etc. if we are even close to successful but whether it works or not I truly hope it will make the award a bit more representative than merely being the most favoured choices of some 500 people.

I despise l'Escroc and Vile Pin