A Proposal, Re: The Hugo Awards

A Proposal, Re: The Hugo Awards

A couple of months ago Cheryl Morgan posted an editorial in Clarkesworld about how “you” can change the Hugos. I complained at the time that she dismissed the issue of money far too easily, and I still feel that way.

$50 to become a non-attending member of WorldCon grants you voting rights, but who pays that much to not attend a convention or to just vote on an award? Only people who have $50 to spend on not much at all.

Obviously the Hugos are something, yes, but they’re not worth $50 to most people. Even when you’re talking people who care.

So I have two ideas on how this aspect of the problem might be solved. One I think is more likely to be implemented because it’s easy, but I think both are viable.

Idea #1: Lower the non-attending membership price to $20 or $25.

$20 is better. More people are willing to drop $20 on things than $50. Obviously there will be plenty of people who will still say no way, but I think a lot more people would consider it at that price.

Idea #2: Allow members of other SF cons to be eligible to vote.

This is a bit more complicated, so bear with me. I totally understand that the Hugos are WorldCon’s award, and with good reason. But WorldCon is not the nexus of the SF world it once was as far as conventions go. And not everyone can get to or afford WorldCon but can get to a big con near them or one with a lower membership/hotel rate. What if the Hugo committee extended eligibility to the members of select conventions. They’d have a size minimum, or a base number of years the con has to be in existence, or has to include certain kinds of programming tracks, or some combination of that. Members could opt to pay an extra $10 over the registration price to vote for the Hugos.

Logistically, this could be difficult. This is why I think my first idea has more chance of being implemented.

I could be completely off base with all of this, but I think these are fairly good ideas. What do you all think? Any better ideas? Because looking at the list of nominees it’s clear that something needs to change before the Hugos themselves will.

Comments

  1. says

    Or they could do what they’ve done this year, which is to give out a voting packet containing electronic copies of almost all of the nominated works. Someone did the math and it’s something like $150 of reading material.

  2. says

    I totally agree about lowering the cost. Unfortunately, there are many fans who don’t want to make the Hugos more accessible to more people (because, they probably fear, it wouldn’t be _their_ award any more). Cheryl, among some other people, has been campaining for a more inexpensive “voting membership” that would be cheaper than a supporting membership and would give you the right to vote on the Hugos (the fee would be used mainly to cover administrative costs for the voting) and faced — unless I’m mistaken — strong opposition on this also.

    Unfortunately these changes would have to be made in a WSFS business meeting, and only attending members (of the current Worldcon and thus WSFS) are allowed to attend. So I don’t see them changing the system to give away a power only they hold at the moment any time soon.

    In a discussion about this a while back, I proposed extending the Hugo voting rights of a membership for a couple of years (say, for the total of five years). This way the change might not seem too aggressive to those fans who fear extending the voting rights beyond Worldcon members (and who therefore would vote down any proposal to change this too radically) while still allowing those who can’t afford to attend the convention every year to vote on the Hugos more times.

  3. says

    I fail to see how that addresses the problem, though. Yes, more people reading the stories is good, but if they do not have the ability to vote because they’re not attending worldcon and don’t have an extra $50 to spend on such, all the free reading material in the world isn’t going to help. I think it’s less that people don’t have the money to read the fiction and more they don’t feel like parting with $50 to vote.

  4. says

    a vicious cycle! But you know, until I read that thing on the Semiprozine blog I did not know this is how things got changed for the Hugos. I kind of assumed that the whole thing where the business meeting having to take place at the con and things don’t get done/proposed/voted on over, say, the internets would be, well, dead. I’m always so optimistic.

    The only thing I can think is that someone, or a group of someones, has to decide that they want to make a change and then drag all of their friends and various people they know who support the change to the meeting. I wonder how large those meetings are…

    This assumes one has the money to attend worldcon at all. where is will shetterly when you need him?? he could put an end to this classist system!