Whatever side you take on the current Hugo Awars kerfuffle, you gotta admit it highlights the importance of voting for what you want. Roughly two thousand ballots were submitted for this year's Hugos, which sounds like a lot until you realize that the pool of eligible voters encompasses the members of three different Worldcons, and the 2014 Worldcon alone numbered over ten thousand members.
Where were all the other voters? If as one of my old political science professors claimed, people are more likely to vote when they're unhappy, it seems like most of the voters must have been okay with recent trends, such as increasing diversity among writers and subject matter. It will be interesting to see the numbers next year. To say nothing of the numbers for the other science fiction, fantasy and horror awards, like the 2015 World Fantasy Awards.
Mwahahaha! You knew I was hiding a big sharp, pointy thing in here somewhere.
Seriously, if you're eligible to vote in this year's World Fantasy Awards, please, vote. Vote for the works that make your heart sing, even if they aren't something your high school literature teacher would dismiss as unworthy.
No. Especially if it's something he or she would dismiss as "unworthy". Great writing isn't always about making you feel awful. Death, despair and dystopias are part of the human condition and need to be addressed in ways that make us think. But great writing also about opening yourself to wonder, possibility, hope and joy. Frankly, a lot more people read Agatha Christie and Bram Stoker than will ever read Henry James. And don't get me started on how many people have dissed Jane Austen through the years, both for her subject matter and for her gender.
In addition, may I suggest looking at candidates other than the usual suspects in all the awards categories. For example, there are a lot of great books published by small presses. Naturally, I plan to nominate all the 2014 anthologies on my home page. It's a writer's version of showing the flag. But I'll also be nominating a middle grade book for Best Novel--and I almost never read middle grade novels, much less recommend them. That book I wanted to live.
Even more important is coloring outside the lines when it comes to the Special Awards, Nonprofessional and Professional. There are lot of folks in fandom who are critical to the tribal gatherings we call cons. But do you ever stop to think about how important the con chair or department chairs are to your experience as an author or a fan?
For example, writers and fans in the DC/Maryland/Virginia metro area are facing a giant hole in the center of our universe due to the passing of Peggy Rae Sapienza, co-chair of World Fantasy Con 2014. Peggy Rae was a major part of every Washington area convention for close to forty years. She had a knack for finding the right people to do the big jobs and persuading them to do them--including me. I spent much of last year working with her, Sam Lubell and Bill Campbell on the World Fantasy Con 40th anniversary anthology, Unconventional Fantasy, at her behest. The finished anthology comprised six volumes (including an exhibit catalog for the con's Virgil Finlay exhibit), 3200 pages, over three hundred art works and a hundred historic photos. And that was only part of what she did for that one con.
But there are folks like that associated with every convention. I think of the good folks who run the many tracks at the cons I attend. I may be buying World Fantasy Con supporting memberships for years just to nominate all of them.
Then there are the professionals we take for granted. Maybe it's the reviewer or interviewer for your favorite online magazine. How about the publishers of that same magazine?
I can tell you one vote I'll be making this year. I'm nominating Joy Poger and June Williams of Buzzy Mag. Buzzy's parent company started life creating wonderfully snarky t-shirts and audio versions of novels by Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs and more. But that wasn't enough. About four years ago they decided they wanted to create an online magazine that covered every aspect of science fiction, fantasy and horror. They post interviews of Hollywood types and writers (in the interests of honesty, some of them by me), as well as reviews of anything that takes their fancy in films, TV, gaming and fiction. But best of all, they are a major market for new SF/fantasy/horror fiction. And the stories... Well, you can read them for yourself. Just follow the link.
Vote your joy. I'm voting mine. ;-)