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Posts from the ‘Random Thoughts’ Category

Thoughts on the Past Year and the New

Every new year is a natural inflection point, a pin stuck into our lives, that makes a good opportunity for retrospection and resolution. The blogosphere is – of course – lousy with such retrospectives and resolutions, and self-indulgent though it may be, I will do the same.

My 2014 in Review

The past year was a very difficult one for me. The same could be said for the year before that, but at this point on some measures I seem to be clawing my way back into some semblance of normalcy. Two themes dominated my 2014: Work, and Family Life.

On the work front, I started a new job at the start of 2014. And unfortunately, that job has more-or-less eaten my life. In addition to having to travel internationally about 30% of the time, I find myself working 15 – 20 hour days typically about six days per week. There are a variety of reasons for that which I won’t get into here, but obviously such a pace is not to be maintained long-term. It means having less time for family (which had its own share of challenges in 2014), and unfortunately much less time for blogging or writing. My life-and-soul-consuming dayjob was the single dominant feature of my 2014, which is neither healthy nor sustainable. The good news, is that improvement on this front is (hopefully) coming soon.

When it comes to family, 2014 was also difficult. For one thing, we moved (again), into a fixer-upper which (as the name suggests) is in need of some TLC. Another move would have been hectic and distracting enough, but we had to move ourselves and move my (octogenarian) parents at the exact same time. And now, we find ourselves supporting my parents financially, logistically, and emotionally as they begin to be Really Old. Then there were a number of deaths in the family, followed by serious hospitalizations for some of the surviving family members.

In other words, I’m really glad to be seeing the back of 2014.

For all of the hard bits, I shouldn’t complain: While my professional life is hard, incredibly stressful, and often frustrating, we are objectively in a much better place now than we were a year ago. More secure, more stable, and with better prospects. But all of that added security comes with a cost that can be measured in time and energy.

You’ve no doubt noticed that I haven’t been blogging near as much as I should be. In the past year, I’ve written only one substantive blog post (my retrospective on the works of Gene Wolfe which was published at Aidan Moher’s Hugo-award-winning A Dribble of Ink). All of the work and family issues I’ve been dealing with haven’t really left a lot of time or energy for the thinking or in-depth critical analysis that I love, which is a shame. And it is something that I would like to rectify in 2015.

In a similar fashion, I have largely dropped off of the genre community’s social media circles. Yesterday was the first day when I went onto Twitter in a meaningful fashion in at least two months. Most of my social interaction with the field has actually been the old-fashioned in-person kind: at Readercon, at Worldcon, at the SFWA Mill-and-Swill, or while working as staff at Viable Paradise. It’s funny, but while I tend to be a fairly social person, when the going gets tough I find that being a social person in-person actually becomes easier than maintaining affability in the online world. I find that to be somewhat counter-intuitive, and actually quite surprising. But there it is.

In terms of my fiction writing, this has been a year of fits-and-starts. Because of all of the time and creative energy that my work requires, I spent 2014 writing fiction in bursts. There would be a dry-spell that would last a month, or six weeks. And then I would churn out anywhere from two thousand to six thousand words in one sitting. I find that’s a very frustrating way to write, in that it makes building up a rhythm or maintaining momentum quite difficult. But throughout 2014 that was the only way I could make any kind of forward progress, slow and intermittent as it was.

But that was all 2014, and I am hoping (and resolving, and intending, and planning, and praying) that 2015 will be easier.

Looking Forward to 2015

The biggest challenge in 2014 was the way in which my dayjob ate my life and crushed my soul. The good news here is that we reached an inflection point right around Christmas time in the dayjob, one which will hopefully let me re-gain some modicum of control over my work schedule, work pace, and the hours that I need to put in to do my job well. I might not be able to get to that point starting tomorrow, but the pace I worked in 2014 cannot continue in 2015. It just won’t be physically sustainable. Which means that something will have to give, in one fashion or another.

That couples with a resolution to make more (and more consistent) progress in writing both non-fiction and fiction. In terms of fiction, over the past months I have been decreasing the interval between my fiction writing sessions and increasing the word-count in each one. Slowly, I am attempting to regain the kind of rhythm and momentum that I had a couple of years ago.

At the same time, I’m going to make an effort to blog more. And to help with that, the Professor and I have made a deal. In 2015, I plan to go to three cons: ICFA, Readercon 26, and World Fantasy. But to justify the expense and time away from home (which is on top of my 1 – 2 weeks of work travel per month), I will need to maintain a blogging pace of one post every month. Of course, that’s far off of my previous weekly schedule. But small steps, as I try to wrest control of my life and writing output back to a more natural place.

Of course, fixing dayjob troubles and getting my fiction and non-fiction writing rhythm back won’t change the fact that family will still bring its challenges. That is not something that will change soon, and considering the work that needs to be done to our new house, and my parents’ age and condition, I expect family life will get worse before it (eventually) gets better. But that’s just the way it goes, and that is the one area of my life where I have the least explicit control. Dayjob I can influence and shape: dealing with the vicissitudes of care, health, and loved ones is just something that has to be done.

So that’s how things stand, looking back on the last year and looking forward to the next. I hope I’m able to wrest more of a life away from my job, and that I’m able to regain better momentum in my writing. And I hope that by doing so, 2015 will let me speak with you more here, on Twitter, and at those three cons I mentioned.

End of the Blogging Vacation & Design Changes Coming

So about two months ago, I mentioned that I was going to be taking a bit of a vacation from blogging here. Well, what was originally going to last about a month has turned into two. To be fair, during that long vacation I wrote some of the most discussed entries in the history of this blog, but nevertheless, I have been taking it easy here while dealing with a ton of real-life stuff. In the offline world, we sold our house and moved about 20 minutes closer to New York City, so it’s been a rather busy month.

But now that we’re all settled into our new abode, now that the books are unpacked (still unorganized, but at least they’re not in boxes any longer), I’m going to be back here on my regular weekly schedule. Also, don’t be surprised (or too concerned) if the look of this blog changes a little in the coming days and weeks, since there are bunch of design tweaks I’ve been meaning to get to. If I break something in my design experiments, rest assured I’ll be around to fix it shortly!

Forthcoming design changes notwithstanding, as of this Tuesday (July 30th) I’ll be back to posting an essay every Tuesday as per usual. I hope you’ll join me!

PSA: Fourth Street Fantasy 2013

I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for the past year. Why? Because this weekend is the annual Fourth Street Fantasy convention. I first went last year, and found it to be a weekend full of fascinating genre discussions, in-depth literary conversation, great music, and wonderful fun. I got to see old friends and make new ones, and it was also the first SF/F con at which I got to be on on some panels.

I had such a good time last year, how could I possibly stay away? Here are the details for this year’s 4th Street:

What: Fourth Street Fantasy
When: June 21 – 23, 2013
Where: Minneapolis, MN
(at the Spring Hill Suites Marriott, 5901 Wayzata Blvd, St. Louis Park, MN)
Program: (link)
Web Site:

This year’s 4th Street looks to be as awesome as last year’s (if not more so). This year’s program is full of thought-provoking topics ranging from fantasy of discovery, to syncretism, to the heroine’s journey, and more. You can check out the whole program here. This year, I’ll be on one panel and moderating another.

Here are the salient details from the official program line-up:

Saturday, 9:30am – 10:30am
Intertextuality and Originality
No book exists independent of the literary conversation, no matter how much its author may want it to. Elizabethan faeries are inevitably going to be compared to each other, just like dark lords, destined heroes, and vampire- werewolf-mortal love triangles will. Given that very little authors can do will seem novel to experienced readers, how should they approach topics that many readers have been conditioned to read in a certain light? How can works that aim to deconstruct clichés avoid being read as “just X from Y’s perspective”?
  • Lynne Thomas
  • Chris Gerwel
    (that’s me!)
  • Tappan King
  • Catherine Lundoff
  • Abra Staffin-Wiebe

Saturday, 3:30pm – 4:30pm
Narrative Conventions
…and how their pressures shape narrative into certain forms. Are we narrowing the stories we can tell by leaning on familiar story forms and Aristotelian notions of rising action, drama, conflict, and the like? To what extent are western narrative conventions culturally specific, and how much of our media (and media- influenced fiction) is being made to fit time-blocks and act structures in ways that aren’t necessarily healthy to export into other forms?
  • Chris Gerwel
  • Alec Austin
  • Emma Bull
  • Kit Gordon

If you’ll be anywhere in the vicinity and if you’re looking for some excellent and thought-provoking discussions, I hope you’ll join us! And if you do come, I hope you’ll say hello!

CROSSROADS: Magic Realism and Negotiating the Unreal

Amazing Stories Logo Welcome to Thursday, folks. Somehow, no matter what I do, this day just keeps coming around. Weird, huh? Well, Thursday’s mean that it’s time for another one of our weekly Crossroads posts over at Amazing Stories, and this week we get deeper into speculative fiction’s often-stormy relationship with mainstream literary fiction.

This week’s essay explores some of the structural and thematic differences between (most) magic realist works, and (most) works of fantasy. While the fantastical devices and conceits may often be similar, their purpose and the way they are used structurally tend to be very different. I hope you stop by to take a look and join the conversation!

Crossroads: Negotiating the Unreal in Magic Realism and Fantasy

Viable Paradise 2013: Applications Due in Just Over a Month

Applications Due: June 15, 2013
Workshop Runs: October 13 – October 18th, 2013

A couple of years ago, I attended Viable Paradise, a week-long workshop for science fiction and fantasy writers. Applications for this year’s VP class are due on June 15th, which is a scant five weeks away. If you’re on the fence about applying this year, allow me to present some arguments for why you should.

Intensity of Focus

VP is a residential workshop, which means you spend the whole week with your fellow students and instructors in beautiful Martha’s Vineyard. And while the environment may be picturesque, don’t kid yourself: you’re not going to spend the week taking in the sights. Instead, the week is an intensely focused period of genre exploration. You’ll be talking genre, writing craft, and philosophy of art from morning ’til late into the night.

The experience isn’t nearly as intimidating as that might sound. First, everyone there – the instructors, the staff, and the other students – all love the genre just as much as you do. The instructors are all working professionals in the field, and have years of experience on both sides of the editorial divide. The volunteer staff (who are there for logistical/emotional support and to make sure everyone eats well) are all VP alums, so they’ve gone through the same intense experience (disclaimer: I was one of the volunteer staff last year, and I will be again this year). And your fellow students? They are all there for the same reason you are: because they love the genre, and they want to get better at the craft of writing.

The intensity of the VP experience is a by-product of everyone’s passion for the craft. And that shared passion is one of the most important features of VP. Where else could you talk story structure and world-building techniques into the wee hours of the morning for an entire week?

Differences of Approach

Each of Viable Paradise’s eight instructors have their own methods, their own perspectives, and their own beliefs about what it takes to produce the highest quality fiction. VP is unique in that all eight instructors are there and teaching in parallel, which means that students get to see the different perspectives juxtaposed alongside one another.

For me, this really drove home the lesson that there are many equally-valid ways to achieve a desired effect. By getting to see different approaches at the same time, I was able to synthesize new techniques and writing processes that work for me, for the way my mind works, and for the way my writing process works. If I were only exposed to one or two instructors at a time, I think I would have had a harder time developing this synthesis.

Novels and Short Stories

Over the years, VP has gotten the reputation of being a “novel-focused” workshop, and for me, this was a feature – not a bug. The opportunity to get the start of my novel critiqued, to have my synopsis examined, and to discuss the practical business of the modern novel market with folks who know it far better than I do was incredibly valuable.

However, despite its reputation for focusing on novel-length works, plenty of students apply with short stories. The instructors all work in both novel and short story lengths, and have done so for years. They have the experience in both forms to understand each form’s constraints and strengths. This helps to bring a very holistic perspective to the craft, and their understanding of the novel filters into the short story discussions, while the short story insights bleed into the novel-length discussions.

The result is an experience that – for me, at any rate – improved my work in both the short and novel length works.

Do You Want to Take Your Writing to the Next Level?

The best way to decide if VP is right for you is to ask yourself: do you want to take your writing to the next level? In my class, we had absolute newbies (me among them), agented authors, SFWA-member authors, and a number in between these various phases of a writing career. Regardless of where we were when we arrived, we left the island able to apply new skills and new perspectives to our writing, which in turn helped us to raise the level of our work.

Since we graduated in 2011, many of my classmates have gone on to publish short stories in various professional markets, to close multi-book deals, to self-publish their books, or (in my case) have their non-fiction selected for a best-of collection.

It didn’t matter where we started from or what our individual goals were, we leveled-up thanks to our experiences at VP.

More Information

If you’re looking for more information about VP, I strongly recommend the Viable Paradise web site.

And if you want a more detailed discussion of my experience at VP, and the costs associated with it, here are my Reflections on the Workshop Experience: Viable Paradise.

And since I’m planning on working as staff again this year, I hope to see you there in the fall!

Running a Little Late This Week

Hi Folks – My apologies, even though we’re only two days in, this has already become One of Those Weeks. As a result, I think I’m going to have skip this week’s post with a return to my regular Tuesday schedule next week. Sorry about this, but even this brief missive is up later than I would like, and everything else is just piling up behind it. With any luck, I’ll have some more interesting thoughts for you on Tuesday.

Until then, here’s a very thought-provoking essay I came across the other day: Foz Meadows on A Rule of Thumb for Escapism.

Speculative Fiction 2012: The Best Online Reviews, Essays & Commentary Now Available

So here’s a bit of really cool news: today marks the pub date for Speculative Fiction 2012: The Best Online Reviews, Essays and Commentary, edited by Justin Landon of Staffer’s Book Review and Jared Shurin of Pornokitsch.

This is awesome because it marks the first (to the best of my knowledge) curated collection of online critical discussion about science fiction, fantasy, and horror. As a work of critical scholarship, and as a snapshot of influential voices in the field, it is a significant work featuring over fifty essays by writers from multiple perspectives and backgrounds. The authors included (I’m one of them, so perhaps I’m biased) are an impressive roster of genre creators, analysts, and reviewers:

  • Abigail Nussbaum
  • Adam Roberts
  • Aidan Moher
  • Elizabeth Bear
  • Paul Kincaid
  • Rose Lemberg
  • Ana Grilo and Thea James
  • Kameron Hurley
  • Kate Elliott
  • N.K. Jemisin
  • Chris Garcia
  • Foz Meadows
  • Christopher Priest
  • …and many more!

My own essay on “The Circus as a Fantastic Device” is included as well, in case you haven’t seen that one yet. So far I’m only about a third of the way through my contributor’s copy, and I am duly impressed by the quality of the commentary and analysis this collection contains.

If you want a print copy, they are available from Amazon for $11.99 (£8.99 in the UK) here: Speculative Fiction 2012: The Best Online Reviews, Essays and Commentary

If you want a digital copy, unfortunately Amazon seems to have messed up the eBook files so you’ll have to wait until May 2nd…but that’s only a short week away! (NOTE: It is worth mentioning that buying a copy helps a good cause: proceeds from sales of this collection will go to support Room to Read, an organization dedicated to improving global child literacy and gender equality in education.)

Incidentally, on May 2nd, there will also be a Reddit AMA featuring the editors of SpecFic 2012, along with some of the contributors. I don’t yet have all of the details of that AMA, but as soon as I do, I’ll let you know. Hope to see you there!

‘Tis the Season: What Good are the Hugos?

Saturday’s announcement of the 2013 Hugo Award nominees has done what it always does: On the one hand, nominees and their friends were (justifiably) pleased, happy, and excited to be so honored. On the other hand, certain corners of the community were dejected, dissatisfied, and frustrated by the nominated works individually and the system which nominated them collectively. This is a cycle that we repeat every year and for just about every major award the field confers. It is not a debate limited to the Hugo Awards, nor to the Nebulas, nor to the BSFAs, nor to the Clarke Award. It is part of a perpetual cycle of community introspection and cultural validation.

On the Award Season Cycle

As I wrote last year, the disagreements produced by such awards are healthy for the field and for the community. Though the discussions seem repetitive, by constantly worrying at the bias demonstrated in nominees, by re-examining the processes through which works get nominated, and by criticizing the factions and reasoning for/against a particular title, we are all inching our community forward (or at least two steps forward and one step back).

One can wonder, for example, whether the increased frequency of female nominees on the Hugo slate is a result of previous year’s complaints, or whether it is merely a reflection of changing values/mores amongst Hugo voters. It’s a Zen koan-like question, and one which I think is ultimately unanswerable. Whatever the “truth”, I will cheer the Hugos’ increased inclusiveness regardless, while simultaneously lamenting that that they are not yet inclusive enough. I am confident that in time we will see still more diverse lineups, and maybe even (gasp) nominees who don’t come from a Judeo-Christian/English-oriented background. Every chance I get, I will wish for that and I will speak out for that. But I recognize that such change will take both time, and an exploration of how the Hugo procedures either inhibit or promote such inclusiveness.

The Unanswered Questions in this Year’s Discussion

This year’s paroxysms of disgruntlement, particularly the essays written by Justin Landon at Staffer’s Book Review and Aidan Moher at A Dribble of Ink, make me wonder about a more fundamental, heretofore unstated question: what good are the Hugo Awards? What is their purpose? What role(s) do they serve?

Every person who voices an opinion on the nominees, or the winners, or the awards process itself, has some presumptive answers to these questions. Are my answers the same as Justin’s? Are his the same as Aidan’s? Are ours the same as Kevin Standlee’s? Are Kevin’s the same as Hugo Voter X? Without exploring our unstated assumptions, it will be difficult to understand and contextualize either the complaints about the Hugo Awards, or the defenses of the same. Accusations of demagoguery and privilege are already flying in the comments to Justin’s post, and I suspect they stem from a disconnect in a basic question: what purpose do the Hugo Awards serve?

It is possible for each of us to answer this discussion differently, and yet to find common ground when discussing the Awards. Different individual values underlie any democratic system. Ask two people to prioritize the functions of government. You’ll get widely divergent lists, even among those who profess the same political beliefs. Yet by making those priorities and those values explicit, we can gain a better understanding of the real source of dissatisfaction. And it is that kind of understanding which I think is necessary if the Hugo Awards are ever to improve in any way.

Here are the unstated questions that I think deserve an exploration:

  1. What is the purpose of the Hugo Awards?
  2. Who is the primary audience for the Hugo Awards?
  3. Who are the Hugo Awards valuable to, and why?

Having asked these questions, I’ll take a stab at answering them, too. These are my own answers, and odds are they differ from those of many people. I’d love to hear what you think, though: it’ll help us find common ground on how to improve the Hugos.

What is the purpose of the Hugo Awards?

I believe that the purpose of the Hugo Awards is to celebrate “worthy” works in the field of science fiction and fantasy. The process by which the Hugo Awards get selected is a system designed to assess a given title’s relative “worth” within the field. What constitutes that worth is idiosyncratic and highly subjective.

For example, I might nominate the works which I consider to be the most challenging, the most forward-looking, the most interesting in any given year. That’s because in my personal system of judging “worth,” those are criteria which rank high. Whether I enjoyed a given work or not may be of secondary concern (for example, I consider Lavie Tidhar’s 2011 Osama a “worthy” title, even though I didn’t enjoy it as much as I would have liked to). Yet someone else might nominate the books that they enjoyed the most, irrespective of their progressive values, their innovation, or their challenging themes and techniques. That’s the nature of democracy.

As a result, the Hugo Awards are there to offer us a snapshot as to the creative/aesthetic values of fandom at a particular moment in time. The voting system is meant to take disparate and divergent priorities, and to aggregate a selection of the “worthy” titles. Some years (historically, rather often), the result may be backward-facing, reactionary, and nostalgic. Other years (even more often, I think), the result may be comfortable, safe, and conservative (culturally – not necessarily politically). And still in other years, the result may be innovative, challenging, and refreshing.

What is more, this process will vary across categories of work. While – for example – the Best Novel category may be deemed “safe” one year, another category (Fan Writer, say) may push the envelope in interesting ways. It is a messy, unstable process – like all democracies.

Yet in each case, the underlying purpose of the Hugo Awards remains the same: to select a “worthy” set of titles. I use that word advisedly, and you’ll note that I don’t say select the “best” works in the field. I know that the awards themselves label themselves “Best Novel” and so on. But the Hugo Awards are no more representations of the “best” in the field than the Oscars are a selection of the “best” films produced in a given year. The one adjective that I think can comfortably be applied is to say that they are all “worthy” titles.

And the purpose of the Hugo Award (honestly, even of a Hugo nomination) is to designate a title as worthy.

Who is the primary audience for the Hugo Awards?

This question, I think, is much more difficult for me to answer than the last. One can make an argument that the Hugo is addressed to many audiences: to cognoscenti, to authors, to booksellers, to librarians, to non-readers of the field, etc. And while the Hugo does reach and communicate to each of these audiences, I think its primary audience is rather insular. I think the Hugos speak most loudly to the authors whose works are being celebrated.

This is – I suspect – a fairly controversial viewpoint. I would like an award addressed to broaden the fold, but the Hugos aren’t it. They have never been designed to reach or communicate beyond the borders of a particular subculture (fandom). Their procedures have always been built to select for more creatively conservative works that operate solidly within the genre’s historical conventions. Consider the arguments for a new sub-genre put forth by Gareth L. Powell in The Irish Times.

The Hugo Awards’ primary audience is the authors and editors who produce the works that win them. In this, they are like the Nebula Awards and the Oscars. They are a selection of worthy works, and the communication of their worth to the authors who created them. There is nothing wrong with this. This is not a complaint. It is merely an observation of the practical audience to whom the Hugo Awards seem to matter most.

Outside of the science fiction and fantasy community, the Hugo Awards are sadly irrelevant. Even in neighboring genres (like YA), people fail to differentiate between the Hugo Awards, the Clarke Award, and the Nebula Awards. That doesn’t happen with the Booker Prize. That doesn’t happen with the Newbery. It doesn’t happen with the National Book Award.

It is comfortable for us to lament this as the continuing ghettoization of our genre, but I think that’s overly simplistic. The Hugo Awards are not addressed to new readers of the genre. Nor are they (like the Newbery) targeting actors in the supply chain, such as librarians or booksellers. They are relevant solely to the authors, and to a lesser extent to the vocal minority of fans who wish to support them.

One can make the argument that the Hugo Awards should be targeting new readers, to widen the fold, so to speak. But that would mean changing their primary audience, which would have dramatic consequences for longstanding procedures.

Who are the Hugo Awards valuable to, and why?

A corollary to the question of audience is the question of addressed value. If the primary audience for the Hugo Awards are the creators themselves, who are they most valuable to? At first blush, it would be easy to say that they are valuable to those authors because it gives them a boost in sales.

But anecdotally, I have heard that Hugo awards offer a minimal sales bump. Is this true? When YA/MG titles win the National Book Award for Young Readers, or the Newbery Medal (or even get nominated), they typically see a significant sales bump. It is that sales bump which motivates their imprints to slap medal seal stickers on their covers or to accelerate their paperback reissue: the added expense is justified by the virtuous cycle of the even bigger sales bump thereafter. Even decades after their win, books like Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time still wear their medals proudly.

I haven’t seen science fiction and fantasy imprints do this with the Hugo, which supports the anecdotes that Hugo Awards don’t offer a significant sales bump. What’s the truth of this? I suspect that the Hugo Awards fail to yield significant sales dividends (which further supports my belief that their primary audience is not the broader public), but I’d love to see hard data if anyone’s got it.

The lack of a sales bump would suggest that the Hugo Awards have little value in the genre publishing supply chain. If they were valuable to booksellers, you’d see more active promotion of the Hugo Awards at the retailer level. And we just don’t see that, outside of a limited number of specialist booksellers. If the Hugo Awards were valuable to librarians, you’d see libraries touting them in the local library. I’ve been to four libraries in the last three weeks, and not one of them had a “Hugo Award Winners” section (they had award-winning sections for other genres, though). Because they are not valuable to booksellers or librarians, they are likely of marginal value to publishers: Nice to have, but only important inasmuch as they secure a “floor” for a title among a core group of readers (the in-group of fandom).

So who then, are the Hugos truly valuable to? I believe they are most valuable to the authors themselves, because they provide some measure of creative validation and spark creative discussion. I also believe they are valuable to the cognoscenti in fandom because it likewise celebrates a genre tradition and gives us an outlet for expressing our tastes and values. Both are culturally important: the former feeds into and shapes future creative endeavors, while the latter helps cement bonds within the subculture.

Note, that these values are irrespective of whether one agrees with or disagrees with a given nominee/award winner. Consciously or not, our attitudes towards recent winners (in essence, the “headliners” of our narrow field) influence or at least shape the fiction we ourselves create. We may emulate their aesthetics or reject them, but they still influence us. Similarly, for every defensive SMOF who bristles at the suggestion that the Hugos are irrelevant or “broken”, their bonds with other SMOFs of similar outlook are strengthened by their shared defensiveness. The same goes for the “complainers” who attack the Hugos and gripe about the system. The genre contains multitudes, and even in their controversy, the Hugo Awards help to tighten the bonds between and among members of the genre community.

Where do we go from here?

So if that’s what/who the Hugo Awards are for, where do we go from here? I think that given the above, the Hugo Awards are doing their job just fine. I would like to see more works nominated from the younger, newer, and particularly vibrant online genre community. I would like to see more works from diverse backgrounds, particularly from outside of the English-speaking world. I would like to see more works by women.

But the current Hugo nominating systems will get us there, eventually. I wish we’d get there faster, but I think that history is on my side.

Do I think that speculative fiction needs a prominent award that will reach across the genre aisle and communicate to the broader literary community outside of our insular little world? Yes. I would love for there to be an award like that. The Hugo Awards simply ain’t it, and if we ask them to be then we really should re-examine the entire system that produces them.


I’m afraid I’ve come down with a rather miserable cold, and I wasn’t feeling quite up to writing something today. With any luck, I’ll have something (and feel better) in a couple of days.

Running a Little Late


I’m afraid I’m running a little late this week. I’ll hopefully have a post up tomorrow (Wednesday).


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