A Brief Thought On The Hugos

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 16.884% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

The blog-o-sphere is, predictably, disgruntled with the Hugos.  This year’s award was for a tale that was pretty hackneyed, how did this piece of crap get on here, what about this great work that was ignored, and aren’t these the same old winners we always see?
And there’s always some truth to that.  I do feel that the graying audience of the Hugos tends to disproportionately reward older, established authors.  But that said…
…every awards season has this griping.  Every one.  I’ve been following the Oscars for a decade, and every year it’s the exact same bitching.  And that’s good.
See, when you’re discussing awards that cover a whole genre, it’d be a scandal if there wasn’t widespread complaining over who got nominated for what award.  Tastes differ.  Shit,  in deep Terry Pratchett fandom, all of whom agree that Pterry is nigh unto a God, there are serious debates over which of his books are “the good ones.”  And that’s a relatively homogenous field.  Hell, I’m a huge China Mieville fan, and I regularly get into arguments with people about whether Un Lun Dun is any good.  (I don’t believe it is.)
If there wasn’t widespread calamity over the scant five nominations we can give to each category, that would mean that all of fandom had quietly agreed that these were the best five tales this year.  Which would mean we had been taken over by brain slugs.  The fact that there’s debate doesn’t indicate that the Hugos are broken, it indicates that there’s a huge number of disparate works trying to accomplish different things, each with their own unique merits, and somehow we all have to boil these down to five choices that will probably please, in their entirety, almost no one.  (And note that the Oscars expanding to ten choices hasn’t notably dampened the annual gripefest.)
There are legitimate complaints about the Hugos’ choices, some of which may indicate that the process should be changed to create a greater variety of choices.  But there will always be legitimate complaints, no matter what you did.  There’s no way of avoiding it.  It’s a good sign, because it means people are invested in science fiction and are outraged because they love this work and think it should have been more lauded and hate this work and think it doesn’t deserve it.
We bitch because we love.  Always have, always will.  You want to see quiet approval, go to a dead fandom.

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