Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Sunday Salon: The Hugo Awards and Me

The Sunday logo featuring a yellow and orange sunburst I strongly suspect I'm too shy (and/or anxiety-ridden) for SFF conventions. That thing you're supposed to do, where you jump into conversations and thus meet all sorts of fascinating people? I can't do that. It ain't how I'm built. I'm quite happy to talk to people who jump into any conversations I'm already be involved with, but I can't do it my own self.

That said, I do long to be the sort of person who can attend (and enjoy) conventions1, so I often look at con websites and dream big. While most of the membership categories are straightforward, supporting memberships have always puzzled me. I couldn't imagine why someone would want to shell out cash for a convention they wouldn't even attend. Why not save your money for the day when you can go?

Now I get it.

I can't speak to the smaller cons, but a supporting membership to WorldCon gives you the right to nominate and vote for the Hugo Awards--a compelling reason indeed.

Which is why I bought one this year, at Renay's urging.

And it's been a blast.

The nominations process was a challenge2, the ballot announcement was a roller coaster, and the Hugo voter's packet has become damned near an addiction in the two weeks since it dropped. I spent a wonderful few hours organizing everything and transferring it to my e-reader, where I proceeded to ensure each individual work was right near the top of my Kobo library, handily bookmarked for ease of identification. I put a ton of podcasts on my iPod, too, and combed through the artists' portfolios with unalloyed glee.

Basically, I dove in head first and have been loving the water temperature.

I feel like I'm taking an intense class on the best speculative fiction (and related works) of 2013. This course comprises seventeen units on everything from standout novels to artistic accomplishments to audiovisual prowess, and each requires a hefty dose of academically-oriented mental energy. There's a ton of reading, watching, and listening to be done, and a ton of discussion to be had in the coming weeks.

I fully accept that I won't get to everything. I take these matters seriously, so I won't vote for a category unless I was able to experience a sizable chunk of each nominated work. No playing favourites; no prejudging. Just straight-up merit-based evaluation.

As of today, I've finished the work for nine units: novellas, novelettes, short stories, graphic stories, long form editors, professional artists, fanartists, fancasts, and fanwriters. I'm all but finished both dramatic presentation categories (GRAVITY awaits me at the library, and I'm still searching for a way to watch "An Adventure In Space and Time"). I've been plugging away at the related works (who knew they were so involved?) and I'm just about ready to dive back into the novels, having read three of them prior to the packet's appearance3. I hope to start in on a couple of other categories soon, too. I've just gotta gauge how much time I can spend with them, as I'm reluctant to start anything I won't be able to finish by the voting deadline.

My supporting membership to WorldCon has given me a way to feel a little more connected to the whole convention schtick. What's more, it's given me something concrete to talk about with other fans; a conversation we can all share, without any worrisome in-person introductions. I hope to discuss the voting process in a little more depth over the next month and a half, both here on my blog and via Twitter (I'm @xicanti on there, if you want to follow along). And even if I don't manage to engage directly with many people, I know I'll enjoy sharing my thoughts and reading others' in a relatively low-stress online environment.

I anticipate much awesomeness.

  1. I did pluck up my courage and go to Au Contraire, the New Zealand national convention, in August of 2010. The programming was interesting, but I was desperately lonely the whole time. Even though I knew lots of other attendees from Twitter, I couldn't make myself actually go up and talk to them in case they were like, "Who are you again? Oh. I've, uh, promised to meet somebody on the other side of the room, but you have fun this weekend, okay?"

    I also tabled at Keycon, my local convention, in 2013. I wasn't able to catch any of the programming but I think I enjoyed the convention more for it because my salable merchandise gave me an excuse to talk to heaps of fans without barging into any conversations. It made me think I'd like to go back as a participant in 2014... but when the time rolled around, I decided to give it a pass because I couldn't talk any of my everyday friends into going with me. I really, really need a buffer before I can talk to people. I'm like a social vampire; I'm happy to come in, but you've gotta invite me.

  2. I did tons of reading and thinking before I submitted my final choices. Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form was by far the most difficult category for me. I approach television in much the same way I approach books, so I process each individual episode as a chapter in a larger story. This makes it tough to pick episodes to highlight in a category like this. I look forward to the stats the committee will release after the winners are announced so I can see how many of my favourite shows did get a sizable number of nominations for episodes other than the ones I chose.

  3. I nominated both ANCILLARY JUSTICE and PARASITE, since I read and loved them late last year, and I borrowed NEPTUNE'S BROOD from the library as soon as the publisher announced they'd only be including an excerpt in the voter's packet. I've also read the first ten volumes of the Wheel of Time, but that was ten years ago so I'll have to reread them to properly judge them. That starts today.


  1. Wow! I never knew this was how these awards can be judged.
    I'm going to a SPN convention in Vancouver this August, but with my daughter. We will have each other to stand awkwardly in the corner with, gaping at everyone else.

  2. I think I'll have to do this for next year's WorldCon. It sounds like you've been having a blast with it. I've been thinking about conventions lately, but I'm feel just the way you do.