There have already been dozens of excellent blog posts analysing the results of the Hugo Awards and what they mean for fandom. I can’t contribute anything to that discussion that hasn’t already been said by someone, but I can discuss my vote and why I voted that way.
I won’t lie, my very first reaction after the nominations were announced was anger and an intense desire to write off this year’s awards. To no award every damn category and wash my hands.
After the initial bout of anger, though, I started thinking. I read a lot of commentaries, from both sides. I kept up with File 770 for a long time. I read GRRM’s excellent pieces. I thought really, really hard.
I voted in the Hugos for the first time in 2012. That was the year I first joined Worldcon as a supporting member, primarily to vote in site selection for London 2014. With that voting right came the Hugos. Ever since I learned they existed, I’ve had a warm fondness for the idea that the genre’s biggest awards are given by the fandom that writes, reads, produces, and consumes the genre. Until 2012, though, I hadn’t thought about how they were awarded. Suddenly, I could join in the process and make my tiny voice heard. I read everything (yes, even ploughing through most of the Song of Ice and Fire series in two months) and I voted.
Watching the results come in that year felt amazing. Not everything I voted for won. I’d read some works that I didn’t particularly like, but I could see that they were worthy of being on the ballot, so I wasn’t upset when they won. It was a good experience.
And so, I became a regular Hugo voter and nominator. My reading shifted slightly, trying to take in more shorter works (so that I’d be prepared for nominations) and actually read novels in the year they were published. I didn’t pick particular kinds of works because I thought they might be Hugo-worthy, I’m not that self-sacrificing, but I did try to make sure that more of my reading might be eligible under the rules. I nominated and voted in 2013 and 2014. Not everything I nominated was on the ballot. Not everything that won was my choice. I’m fine with that. Everyone likes different things and my personal tastes don’t always run with the crowd.
In good faith, I nominated in 2015 using the same qualifiers I’d always used: what did I read that was amazing and award-worthy?
I didn’t expect everything I nominated to be on the ballot. I would have side-eyed it if that had been the case. I had no idea there was a slate out there until rumours wended my way on Twitter a couple of days before nominations were announced.
For clarity, I did read a lot of this year’s ballot. Not everything. John C. Wright seems to feel that I’m a perverted piece of scum for being a non-straight woman, so I judged that his fiction probably wasn’t for me. There were a couple of stories that I avoided because the summary indicated I’d probably either feel sick or have nightmares.
(Last year, I only read a part of Charlie Stross’s Neptune’s Brood, before the body horror became intolerable and I had to put it aside. And I avoided his Laundry novella as a result. So this isn’t without precedent.)
I considered my choices carefully. I thought long and hard about how I wanted to vote.
I did not raze the awards to the ground, but I couldn’t make myself vote for works that had been put on the ballot by slate voting tactics. Most of those works just weren’t worthy of being on the ballot, but even if they had–even if they’d been by my favourite authors–I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t condone the use of a slate nomination.
Not all of my choices were given awards, which is about par for the course in any awards. I loved the Three Body Problem, so I’m delighted it won, but I thought The Winter Soldier was a better movie than Guardians of the Galaxy.
(Yes, GoG was a slate nomination, but it would have made the ballot anyway. It was the only slate work that I did rank, although still below No Award.)
The Thomas Olde Heuvelt novelette was not, in my opinion, a particularly good story. I put it below No Award, even though it wasn’t a slate nomination, because if they had to give out an award in that category, I’d rather it be that work than a slate work. If there had been any non-slate option, I probably would have ranked the Thomas Olde Heuvelt below it (and probably still below no award, too).
There were five categories that were entirely slate dominated. I voted no award and I’m relieved that the rest of fandom rejected those offerings, too.
Nobody told me how to vote. I made the decision based on my own sense of what I was comfortable supporting. I voted against slate nomination tactics and I will do so again, even if it means voting against works that I like and want to support.
Next year, I’ll nominate works in the same way that I always do. And if works get onto the ballot through slate nominations, from any camp, I’ll vote against them again. In the end, that is the choice that I can live with.