I went back and forth as to whether I was going to say anything about this week’s Hugo drama, and finally decided that it would be weird to stay utterly silent. So. Here’s my post, in which I say absolutely as little about the Hugos as I possibly can.
First off, let me say that I’ve never had any respect for the award. The voting population is an extremely small, extremely self-selecting group of insiders. Yes, anyone can buy a supporting membership, but even then you end up with a very small group of ballots. Last year, the total number of votes cast for the award’s largest category was 3137. That’s actually high for the Hugos. The vote counts for the previous two years were around 1600. And the community of people committed to voting on these things is fairly insular. That’s been true since I first started paying attention to the publishing industry.
Three thousand people who happened to have the money to vote, and not only the money but also the time necessary to commit to reading the nominated works, that simply isn’t a valid voting pool. The results of such a poll aren’t something we, or anyone else interested in the genre, should really care about. Yes, it still has cache among the insiders. Yes, it can get you a better contract, and it might help generate a few sales. But we can’t honestly say that the award goes to the best book, and it certainly doesn’t go to the best selling. It’s a popularity contest that you pay for the right to participate in. And if what we value when we read and write is what will draw the attention of the Hugo voters, then it’s no wonder the industry is in trouble.
That’s the sum of my position. Stop caring about the Hugo.