Influence The Future Of Science Fiction For A Mere $50! (Or For Nothing!)

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 8.442% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

I’m going to tell you how to get cheap e-books, influence the future of science fiction for the better, and read some of the best science fiction writing of the calendar year.  It will only cost you fifty bucks – and might be free, with a little effort.  Listen, for I am about to reveal one of the most hidden bargains in all of science fiction.
Interested?  Read on.
ChiCon!Okay.  So every year, science fiction (well, and fantasy) has the Hugo Awards – one of the biggest awards it’s possible to get as a sci-fi/fantasy writer.  And every year, once the nominations come out, there are the usual accusations that the nominations are representative of a graying, largely-white fan base, and the phenomenal work of new authors are getting shoved aside in favor of old workhorses.
But here’s the thing: for $50, anybody can nominate works for, and vote for, the Hugo awards.  All you need is a supporting membership for ChiCon 2012.  So you can help boost your favorite fiction types, new or old, classic or cutting-edge.  And a Hugo award really boosts an author’s career, keeping them writing the kind of thing that you enjoy.
Admittedly, that $50 seems like a lot – except as a voter, once the finalists are announced, you get a voters’ packet containing every nominated book, short story, and graphic novel.*  It’s all electronic, of course, and if your favorite authors are very lucky all of of the books you nominated will already be in it… but that leaves you with several very quality novels, graphic and otherwise, for a bargain price.
So what you get for $50 is the ability to potentially boost your favorite authors’ careers, and then a basket full of randomly good books at cheaper price than what you can get them for on Amazon.
It’s really terribly worth it.  If you’ve ever complained that they just don’t seem to promote your kind of science fiction, then if you can rally your friends and perhaps cause a sea change.  It’s like doing community service, except you get free books.
And hey!  If you want to spend an extra $140 to actually attend WorldCon, which is in Chicago this year, then you can meet many of your favorite authors in person and tell them that you voted for them!  But it’s not necessary at all.  The $50 gets you the say.
In fact, I believe voting for the Hugo is so important that I’m going to hold a contest – I will donate two $50 memberships to two people chosen at random.
What do you have to do in order to get these memberships?  I want you to recommend two short stories to me that were written in 2011.  Now, you can wuss out if you want to and choose two stories of mine if you’re too lazy to go to the effort… but since I need to do some reading to figure out what I want to nominate for the Hugos, it’d be nice if you pointed me at something good.  (Preferably with a link, if it’s available online.  And yes, if you’re an author, you can choose one of your works, but be a mensch and recommend someone else.)
Keep in mind that these stories must be written in 2011.  I don’t care how great it was, I’m looking for stories that I can nominate for a Hugo.  If you make me waste my time reading some un-nominable thing because you’re too lazy to check a date, then you’ve stolen reading time from a deserving author who might have actually gotten the nod.  I will be wroth.  Do not do this.
Also, this contest is quick – since you have to purchase your membership before the end of January to nominate, you must submit your story suggestions before midnight on Monday, January 23rd.  Do so via a comment here, preferably with an email address or a Twitter-handle or some way of getting in touch should you win.
And if you think this is a good idea – please.  Publicize this entry, link to it, Tweet it, do what you can…. Or write your own entry on how easy this process is.  I think the Hugo is one of those untold bargains that doesn’t get enough PR, and I was surprised to find how trivial the voting process is.  It’s like if you could vote for the Oscars (and get all of the screening copies once the nominations were finalized!) for less than the price of a copy of Skyrim.
Anyway, I’d suggest you look at the membership options, and if you can do it, then do.  And if not… start suggesting.
* – Most likely.  The voter packet is not contractually guaranteed, and they may decide not to do it this year, but the publishers have every reason to want to woo you – so I can’t believe they’d suddenly stop.  They might, since organizations can be astonishingly silly, but I think it’ll happen again, so much so that I’m risking my own money to promote it.

4 Comments

  1. TheFerrett
    Jan 16, 2012

    Incidentally, I thought of making the contest into some judged writing contest – “Tell me why this was your favorite story” – but that felt uncomfortably like I was buying a voting bloc of people who thought like I do. So: random.

  2. JFargo
    Jan 16, 2012

    I’m going to be an absolute schlub here and I’m sorry but the truth is that in this year you are the only short story author I have read. So, “iTime” and “As Above, So Below.”
    If I come across anything else I’ll definitely let you know but truth it’s I just don’t find most short stories satisfying enough. Or at least that’s how I feel right up until I pick them up and love them. It’s irrational.

  3. Nayad Monroe
    Jan 16, 2012

    I don’t need to win a supporting membership since I get to vote already, but I’m going to overachieve and recommend my THREEfavorite stories that came out in Clarkesworld in 2011:
    1. “The Architect of Heaven” – Jason K. Chapman
    2. “The Book of Phoenix (Excerpted from The Great Book)” – Nnedi Okorafor
    3. “Pack” – Robert Reed

  4. sophia_sol
    Jan 20, 2012

    …Yeah, okay. I don’t read a huge quantity of sff short stories, but I can dust off links to the ones I have. Here’s two lesser-known stories that I think are particularly good.
    1. Queen of Atlantis, by Sarah Rees Brennan
    2. Love in the Absence of Mosquitos, by Mari Ness

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