For those who don’t know, they are something like the Oscars for Science Fiction works. Like the Academy Awards the voting pool is limited, and also who most people think it is. Anyone who is a member of the WorldCon (this year in London) or the subsequent year’s Convention (next year in Spokane), and the previous year’s convention (which was in San Antonio, Texas) is eligible to nominate. Anyone who is a member of the convention at which the awards will be announced (in this case LonCon) is eligible to vote.
This year it seems an author made a pretty specific pitch to be nominated (Somewhere Puppies are Smiling) Among the slate he endorsed was one Theodore Beale, who goes by the hubristic nom-de-net of vox day. He made news, recently, for getting kicked out of SFWA. He’s a shit. Racist, misogynist, white supremacist and all other manner of unlikable things.
He’s also a crap writer.
So, In my opinion, on the merits (i.e. his crap writing) he doesn’t deserve a Hugo. On his other merits he ought to be shunned.
Thankfully the Hugo’s have a means for the voters to do that (and so I am commending it). One, they need to vote (in any given year a lot of the eligible member of a convention don’t vote: many because they don’t feel competent to choose; for having not read the eligible works. I often refrain from voting in categories I can’t really evaluate).
Two, they need to understand how Hugo Voting Works. It’s an instant run-off; and I am pretty sure most people don’t understand how to best use it.
The idea is simple. You have X candidates and get to rank them 1-X. If your first choice loses, those votes are removed and the second choice from those ballots are added to the tallies of the remaining candidates, until there is a winner.
Where one has to be careful is remembering that one need not vote all the way down the ticket (and if you have a strong preference for one, or two, candidates you need to stop there). If a ballot has no subsequent choices, no new votes will be added to the tally of any other candidate. This can make, or break, who wins. If you only have two strong choices, only vote for two candidates.
But, where the Hugos run-off voting differs is that there is another option. No Award. It’s an option to declare that, should your preferred choice(s) be eliminated you don’t think anyone else who was nominated deserves the award. It’s a way to say a nominated work was (in your opinion) undeserving of consideration (it’s happened, at least once. that the community put No Award ahead of a nominated work, in 1987, L. Ron Hubbard came in 6th in a field of five)
So if, as I don’t, you think the quality of Beale’s work is worthy of a Hugo fine, you should vote for it. If you think his work isn’t worth a Hugo, don’t vote for him. If you think his work isn’t worthy, and his social behaviors, are unacceptable in civilised society then, even if you have no opinion on the other novelletes, you should cast a vote for No Award.
Because, as lots of people have said, it’s a great ballot this year. It’s not the first year a dipshit asshole has been nominated. It’s not even the first year a dipshit asshole I think is a blight on the face of humanity has been nominated. We, as a community have the option to show that we discourage that sort of dipshit assholism.
The voting isn’t a closed book. You can take part. I’m going to quote Cat Valente here,
“A final note: you do not have to go to Worldcon to nominate and vote for the Hugos. You can buy a supporting membership for $40* and get that perk. I realize $40 is a lot to express an opinion, but every year we hear complaints about the ballot and every year I hope that my generation will vote a little more, because the Hugos are kind of a bellwether for the field, and I want new crackly risktaking goodness in there, too. Since I have no control over the price of the supporting membership all I can say is—give it a thought, if you have the scratch.”
*in the original it was $50. LonCon is charging 40 for a supporting membership. In addition to the Hugo balloting (and really, what other prestigious award do you know of, for which you; as a fan, can vote? I know that, for those years in which I voted, I helped shape what was seen as the best in the field; for the year. I made my opinion known; in a very visible way, about authors to watch), you also have the chance to decide where the convention will be two years from now; which means you could try to vote for someplace close to home; or someplace you’d like to visit. It’s a win/win/win proposition (because every con needs money to run). For that $40, you will get a whole lot of stuff to read, and look at, because the Hugo ballot comes with a lot of files to make it easier to cast an informed decision when you vote.