I’m a little late to the party this year, but I wanted to post a few words about awards season. If you want to nominate for the Hugo Awards you either need to have had a membership to last year’s Worldcon in San Antonio, or you need to be registered for this year’s Worldcon in London by this Friday, the 31st of January. (Note that you don’t have to nominate by then, you simply have to have your membership by then to be able to nominate.) A membership to next year’s Worldcon in Spokane will also let you nominate this year.
I’ve spoken before about the benefits of a supporting membership to Worldcon. This is the membership you buy if you’re not actually planning to attend, but still want to vote. It costs £25/$40 (until the end of February, when the rates go up), and along with that you get the voter packet, which historically has contained electronic copies of every nominated fiction work (but whether all works are included each year is up to the authors and publishers). So it’s a fantastic deal, and you also get to be part of a grand tradition in science fiction and fantasy. (Note: Only supporting or attending members of this year’s Worldcon in London will be able to receive the voter packet and vote on the final ballot.)
Shadows for Silence
This year, I have a few works that are eligible. The first I’d draw your attention to is “Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell,” my story in the anthology Dangerous Women, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. I think this is my strongest short fiction piece of the year, and it is eligible in the novella category.
As I did last year with The Emperor’s Soul, I will send an electronic copy of “Shadows for Silence” to anyone who is eligible to vote or nominate for either the Hugos or the Nebula Awards. So if you had a membership for last year’s Worldcon, or if you’re planning to attend this year, please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org requesting an ebook of “Shadows for Silence” and saying which Worldcon you’re a member of (or saying you’re an active SFWA member), and we’ll respond with a copy of the story.
Other Eligible Works
Writing Excuses Season Eight is also eligible in the Best Related Work category. We won last year, which was thrilling. Thank you all for your nominations and votes! (I believe we won by three votes.)
“Lift,” which you can read for free here, is eligible in the novelette category. Though it is part of Words of Radiance, it also stands on its own, and is worth consideration.
I also have other shorts eligible in various categories, but I think the ones listed above are the stronger works.
The Wheel of Time
The final item I want to talk about is a little more tricky. Others have been posting about this online, and I thought I should mention it. One feature of the Hugo Awards is a rule that exists to make certain a longer work which is serialized has a chance at an award if the serialized version was overlooked. In short, if no smaller piece of a large work has ever been nominated, the larger work is eligible once completed.
That means the Wheel of Time, as a whole, is eligible for a Hugo Award in the novel category.
This is both awesome and a little frightening. I’m certain I don’t have to make the case to you why I think that Robert Jordan’s masterpiece deserves award recognition. It was the driving force in fantasy for over two decades, deeply influencing an entire generation of authors. Beyond that, I believe it has great literary merit. Robert Jordan did incredible things with worldbuilding and character viewpoint. He was one of the most skilled writers of this genre who has ever lived.
I’m quite close to this topic, however—probably too close to speak without deep bias. I try to avoid campaigning too much for my work to gain award attention, instead limiting myself to posts that explain what of mine is eligible, then letting the pieces speak for themselves. The Wheel of Time puts me in a strange position, then, because I’d want to talk all day about how awesome Robert Jordan is—yet at the same time, I’ve now been involved in the series on a fundamental level. So…yeah. Conflict of interest.
So, I’ll stop here, by posting Guy Gavriel Kay’s toastmaster address at the World Fantasy Awards the year Robert Jordan died. He made some wonderful points.
Some Words of Caution
Now, above, I said this eligibility is something both awesome and frightening. Let’s get into the frightening part. I’ve posted about my love and respect for the Hugo Awards. This award has a great deal of history and integrity attached to it. It is a Fan-voted award—but I use that capital letter intentionally. It’s not voted on by fans of a specific work, but Fans of the genre. People who want to see science fiction and fantasy progress, succeed, and improve.
I have little doubt that the Wheel of Time community could “buy” this award for their series. In so doing, they would make the award meaningless. The Hugo Award works because such a large portion of the voting audience takes it so seriously. This award really is what we make of it. It belongs to us.
And so, I give a charge to the Wheel of Time fans who might be reading this and considering the Hugo Awards for the first time. We want you to be involved. We love new blood, and new enthusiasm. However, agreeing to nominate and vote for the Hugos is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. If you decide to join in—and I sincerely hope you will—please nominate liberally. But when it comes time to vote, please vote only in categories where you have read the majority (preferably all) of the nominees. And please vote only for the piece you work is the best work. Don’t vote by author; vote by work.
This doesn’t mean you have use anyone else’s criteria for determining the “best” work. Follow your heart. For some of you, that will mean voting for the work that is the most fun. For some, it will mean choosing the one with the most literary merit. Personally, I try to find the work that walks a line between the two, having a solid and engaging narrative but also advancing the genre or doing something impressive with it. (Redshirts, last year’s novel winner, is a good example of a work that does this for me.)
Pick your own criteria, but read before you vote. The last thing I want to hear about is a ballot box filled with people who listed “The Wheel of Time” or some of my solo works, but nothing else.
That said, if you are eligible to nominate and you weren’t considering The Wheel of Time, do be aware that that it is eligible. It is certainly deserving. I can’t think of a series in our genre since Tolkien that has inspired so much devotion, passion, imitators, and discussion—all without ever receiving a single Hugo nomination. This is our last chance to fix that.
I’m personally very curious to see what happens if it does get a nomination.