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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2007-12-13 21:17
Subject: [awards] A new Hugo category
Security: Public
Location:Nuevo Rancho Lake
Mood:thoughful
Music:me getting ready to zzz
Tags:awards, hugos, publishing
Because I have so little to do with my time, I am taking on a new project. In so many words, I'm planning to propose a new Hugo award category at next year's WSFS business meeting in Denver.

Here's the very preliminary scoop. When kenscholes, lasirenadolce and I were speaking with Tom Doherty this last fall at the palatial Tor world headquarters, Tom asked why there wasn't a Hugo for people like Betty Ballantine. He observed that Judy Lynne Del Rey had won a Hugo posthumously, and wasn't it a shame we didn't have a Hugo to recognize the people who'd spent their lives bettering our field.

He had a point.

Fast forward a couple of months. I've been discussing the process with some folks who understand the ins and outs very well. With their advice, I have an action plan on how to develop the formal proposal and some timing on when and how to roll it out. I'm throwing this flag mostly to see if anyone is interested in helping me pull and prod this along (along with my general rubric of public openness). The basic vision is to propose a Hugo Award for Lifetime Achievement. It could be won once and only once, by a nominee who was still alive, at least at the time of balloting. It would be for whoever the Hugo electorate wants to honor — lifelong fans, conrunners, writers, editors, publishers, critics, etc.

Obviously there's a lot of logical and procedural holes to be filled before this makes any real sense, but I welcome preliminary comments. I'll be working on this proposal for some months to come, and paying much closer attention to WSFS processes than I have in the past. I'll carry the ball during the long, quiet hours which slowly unwind through my empty days.
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David D. Levine
User: davidlevine
Date: 2007-12-14 05:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I advise against this course of action. The Business Meeting can easily eat your entire convention, and you need your Worldcon hours for valuable shmoozing professional activities.

I also believe the proposed award is ill-considered. Can you imagine the arguments over the five nominees each year for Lifetime Achievement? Or are you considering an entirely new process of nomination and voting, which would make the proposed change far more complex and much less likely to pass? Should previous winners be disqualified? How would it feel for someone to be nominated and then condemned by all, much, or even some of fandom as being unqualified for the award? How would it feel for someone to be nominated repeatedly for a Life Achievement Hugo and never win (remember, there are four losers every year but only one winner)? What would people think and say if such a person died before receiving the award?

All in all, I think it's far preferable for lifetime achievement awards to be handled as they have been handled in the past, and as they are handled at the Nebulas and the Oscars, as separate awards that are given out irregularly and at whim by the committee rather than nominated and voted every year by the general membership.
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Kevin Standlee: Hugo Trophy
User: kevin_standlee
Date: 2007-12-14 06:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Hugo Trophy
As Cheryl mentions below, this has been percolating along since WFC, and partially at Jay's prodding, was one of the things discussed at SMOFCon this year during a Hugo Roundtable discussion.

Things that were clear in that roundtable discussion:

- You could only win it once; past winners would not be eligible.
- You would have to be alive at the close of nominations.
- You would have to have been active in the field for a specified number of years (30 is the first draft).
- The nominating and election system would be the same as for the other Hugo Award categories, other than the eligibility period.
- Obviously, given the above, the "previous calendar year" eligibility (default for the other categories) wouldn't apply, and the category would have to be written to make it clear that this was so. (There's no technical reason you can't write a Hugo Award category to have any eligibility period you want.)
How would it feel for someone to be nominated and then condemned by all, much, or even some of fandom as being unqualified for the award?
Oh, probably just about as bad as the inevitable annual cries of dismay about how awful it is that [insert name here] was/was not nominated, the whole process is rigged, the voters are stupid, the process is corrupt, etc., etc. Given how many years I've been following this, I rarely find too much new about the annual whinging, much of which boils down to, "You should always pick what I personally want, and failing to do so means the process is flawed." Cynical? Moi?
All in all, I think it's far preferable for lifetime achievement awards to be handled as they have been handled in the past,... as separate awards that are given out irregularly and at whim by the committee rather than nominated and voted every year by the general membership.
I do think that the key thing here is that such Special Committee Awards are not Hugo Awards. Committees are prohibited from presenting Hugo Awards by fiat. You can't use the Hugo Rocket design for anything except Hugo Awards.

Now, if what the people talking at WFC really want is a Hugo Award presented by a small select group, a la the "Honorary Oscars" the Academy sometimes presents, then I think they'll have an even more difficult time getting WSFS to pass the necessary enabling legislation.
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dinogrl
User: dinogrl
Date: 2007-12-14 05:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm for it, how about calling it The Gernsback Award?

They do have the "big heart award" just for fans who have contributed greatly.

On a side note, have you been thinking about my "task" you assigned? I may be able to get mock ups over the holidays...uh huh.

Edited at 2007-12-14 05:47 am (UTC)
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Kevin Standlee: Hugo Sign
User: kevin_standlee
Date: 2007-12-14 17:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Hugo Sign
I'm for it, how about calling it The Gernsback Award?
I'd be uneasy about trying to give it a different name, both from an intellectual property standpoint (it could dilute WSFS's service mark on Hugo Award if we applied a different name to the same trophy) and a political one (it could resurrect calls to rename the "fan" Hugos the Pongs; the resultant side arguments could easily derail the main proposal).
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Dave Gallaher
User: dave_gallaher
Date: 2007-12-14 05:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Talk with Kevin Standlee about the procedurals and such; I can forward this message to him if you'd like. He will be happy to help you draft the proposal. You might also want to run this and the proposal on the SMOFS list; you will get a lot of feedback from the folks who actually show up to the Business Meeting and can address concerns that they have.

Dave
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Kevin Standlee: SMOF Zone
User: kevin_standlee
Date: 2007-12-14 06:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:SMOF Zone
He's already on it. The subject was discussed at SMOFCon, in part due to Jay's writing to me.
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Cheryl Myfanwy Morgan
User: cherylmmorgan
Date: 2007-12-14 06:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
This idea was suggested to me at WFC by other people, and L.E. Modesitt has made some posts on his blog about it. Jay has the right idea. It does require work at the Business Meeting. And it is by no means impossible.

Kevin and I actually raised the idea during a panel item on the Hugos at the recent SMOFcon. The results of that discussion, and some follow-on commentary, are reported here. As you will see, the assembled SMOFs were not enthusiastic, but neither could any of them come up with a good reason why the new category might not work.
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Bob
User: yourbob
Date: 2007-12-14 06:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
If you need it, I'll happily play in the devil's advocate/rip it apart pool once you have some wordage. I'm good at playing there.

I dunno how much or what I could help with otherwise. But I am for the basic idea.

And I rarely ask questions that are answered in the posts I'm responding to (grin). And I intend to be at the business meetings in Denver.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-12-14 14:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Excy!
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Bob
User: yourbob
Date: 2007-12-14 06:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
And you might inquire/lobby to Anticipation if they'd be willing to run it as their optional category?
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Kevin Standlee: Montreal
User: kevin_standlee
Date: 2007-12-14 06:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Montreal
Nope, that can't be done. The Special Category that each Worldcon is allowed to add has to be for works in the previous calendar year.

Yes, I know there have been categories like "Best All-Time Series;" the rules were far less rigid back then.
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User: tomgalloway
Date: 2007-12-14 06:52 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
As also posted over on the Awards site, some problems I see with this;

Have to agree with Mike Glyer with respect to being named a Worldcon GOH already mostly accomplishing what this would seem to do.

The other problem, based on the above, is that the original intent was to honor folk like Betty Ballantine who have massively contributed to the field but have not been honored with a Hugo, along with the case of Judy-Lynn del Rey only getting a posthumous Hugo (and I suspect if Jay'd thought of it, he might have included Jim Baen only getting close to getting a Hugo after he died).

But why should we assume that would happen? Wouldn't the majority of winners of this be people who have won a Hugo or five? For example, why wouldn't almost any of the still living SFWA Grandmasters instantly go to the top of favorites for a lifetime achievement award? Or for art, folk like Michael Whelan who've won multiple Hugos and been a Worldcon GoH?

The only way I see this really working as seemingly intended is to effectively make this an "Other Forms For People" category, where you're not eligible if you have won a Hugo, even if that seemingly lessens the cachet of the category to "Lifetime Achievement Not Otherwise Recognized by Hugo Categories".
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Jeff
User: jeffreyab
Date: 2007-12-14 15:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Worldcon GOH is a juried prize not a voted prize like the Hugo.

It would help avoid people receiving a Hugo for a work because they have produced a body of work that is highly respected but never fortunate enough to be in a position to win a Hugo before.

An example would a great work beaten out by a work with more popular appeal to that year's Hugo voters.
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fjm
User: fjm
Date: 2007-12-14 07:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Not keen. And particularly not keen on it at a time when the male half of fandom seems to have mostly forgotten that women exist.

[Note: I used not to think the above, but the results of the kid lit survey were astonishing. Men hardly ever cited female writers.]
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The Magician
User: the_magician
Date: 2007-12-14 14:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm uncomfortable with that conclusion. I'm a male fan and I certainly know women exist, and some of my favourite writers are women. Certainly there's a disproportionate number of male hard sf writers, but then I'm not sure that that doesn't reflect the reading demographic. There are still more men in engineering, hard sciences and technology, and the people with training and experience in those areas (or at least a tropism to those areas) are the natural pool for authors. I don't know what the kid lit survey was, but since the children's authors I most remember are J K Rowling, Enid Blyton, Beatrix Potter and Edith Nesbit (not a man among them!) I'm obviously biased (I was never a C.S.Lewis reader, a.a . milne I was aware of but don't remember reading, Tolkein came late and was only ok ... then I got into James Bond, Sherlock Holmes and Ellery Queen, and even then I was reading Dorothy L.Sayers and Agatha Christie as much as Ian Fleming and Arthur Conan Doyle)

And since most of the names suggested for this lifetime achievement award appear to be female, this could be seen as an opportunity to rectify the omissions of less enlightened times.

My objection I guess is more along the lines of making this something other than a popularity contest or contest of competing marketing (whether professional or from a small but vocal trufen network).

The only way I think we could make this simple and perhaps fairer, is to handle it more like site selection ... that people would be put forward to a sub-committee (membership of which is too complex for me to think about!) and a short list published of "deserving" people, and then voting held on that short list (and an appropriate short bio for each nominee to be published on the worldcon website and also in with the Hugo voting forms)

I think I'd prefer there to be a special lifetime award and that the Hugos be expanded to allow the committee to designate and present that as a Hugo award without requiring membership voting on who gets it.
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Rich McAllister
User: k6rfm
Date: 2007-12-14 08:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think the Worldcon already has a lifetime achievment award: Guest of Honor. Let's just pass a business meeting resolution that says Worldcon GoHs get a rocket.
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Jeff
User: jeffreyab
Date: 2007-12-14 15:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
GOH's are juried not voted and not a Hugo.
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Jess Nevins
User: ratmmjess
Date: 2007-12-14 13:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
More power to your elbow, Jay.
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S-47/19-J
User: shsilver
Date: 2007-12-14 14:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Aside from my feeling that Worldcon GoH-ship is essentially a lifetime Achievement award, another issue is that if this is voted on as a normal Hugo, what you'll see is:

year one ballot (*=winner):

Writer 1*
Writer 2
Writer 3
Artist 1
Editor 1

year 2 ballot
Writer 2*
Writer 3
Writer 4
Artist 1
Editor 1

year 3 ballot
Writer 3
Writer 4
Writer 5
Artist 1*
Editor 1

Or something similar, with a largely similar ballot each year. In this particular category, which is based on lifetime achievement instead of (theoretically) year-to-year achievement, I think this would be even worse that when it happens in current categories.
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Jeff
User: jeffreyab
Date: 2007-12-14 15:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
GOH is juried not voted and not a Hugo.
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Twilight: Daria
User: twilight2000
Date: 2007-12-14 15:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Daria
Interesting discussion -- I'm not sure why this should be any different from the Lifetime Achievement Oscar -- which seems, more often than not, to go to Actors that Never Quite Got the Oscar But Should Have (folks like Jim Baen come to mind).

If I can help, tag me -- I think it makes a lot of sense to honor our field in this particular way.
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Ken Scholes
User: kenscholes
Date: 2007-12-14 15:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think this is a really good idea. Let me know if I can help.
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dd-b
User: dd_b
Date: 2007-12-14 15:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Seems like there's some confusion over just who is eligible. Is it for *writers*, or not? Yeah, it could be open to both, but that's a formula for dissatisfaction all around, as the hot writers steal all the awards. The poster person seems to be an editor (Betty Ballantine). I think it needs to be specifically for non-writing activity to be viable.
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S-47/19-J
User: shsilver
Date: 2007-12-14 15:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
And of course Betty not only was a Worldcon guest of honor, but also received a Hugo Committee Award at LACon, which was something I did support.
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S-47/19-J
User: shsilver
Date: 2007-12-14 16:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Another question...if a person were to win a Lifetime Achievement Hugo, would they still be eligible for Hugos in the future? For individual works (the fiction and dp categories) in non-individual works (editing, artist, fan categories)?
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Kevin Standlee: Hugo Trophy
User: kevin_standlee
Date: 2007-12-14 17:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Hugo Trophy
I don't see why someone would not be eligible for a Hugo Award in any other category after having received a Lifetime Achievement Award. I certainly wouldn't word the category in a way as to disqualify a winner from any other category except Lifetime Achievement. Indeed, I'd actively oppose a provision that DQ'd winners from other categories, because you could see people trying to vote X a Hugo Award so as to get them out of categories they've been historically dominating. And you'd get people arguing in such a case that an LAA to Charles Brown disqualified Locus and other messy side issues.

Speculating here: I think there may have been times that we've given someone a Hugo Award not based on the strength of the nominated work, but because, "S/he really should have won an Award in the past but we didn't give him/her one, so we'll make up for it now." We've seen that with the Oscars, too. So an LAA might well strengthen the other categories and remove the "guilty conscience" factor in voting for the specific work categories.
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