Brian Tibbetts

August 20, 2015

Freeping the Hugos


Publishing & Technology: Freeping the Hugos

Brian Tibbetts is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Wednesday, Brian posts about trends in the publishing industry and developments in technology that impact the industry. You can find him on Twitter @BRIANRTIBBETTS

This week in Publishing & Technology we’ll be discussing the upcoming Hugo Awards, freeping, and literary awards in general. This weekend in the seventy-third annual World Science Fiction Convention comes to Spokane, Washington, bringing with it the annual Hugo Awards ceremony, with all the pomp and circumstance one might expect from an awards ceremony. But this year, the awards are somewhat embroiled in a bit of controversy. It seems that a fringe group of conservative sci-fi writers and fans was able to freep (stack the poll results with a swarm of votes) the nomination process for the Hugos and secure nominations for a group of like-minded writers. For an in-depth article on the controversy, click here.

The first question that comes to mind is, “why?” Why would anyone, much less a whole group of people, devote their time and energy to so seemingly pointless an exercise? Are the conservative minority so offended by the ongoing swell of social consciousness invading their beloved genre? Or have they been angry since say 1956, when Heinlein’s thinly-veiled social commentary Double Star won the Hugo for Best Novel? Or are they just angry because authors who don’t look like them (white men) are getting good work published in the genre that is selling and winning awards?

Regardless of the point of the freeping of the Hugos, I’m led to question the value of the awards in general. Are they truly “prestigious”? Do readers “looking for a good science-fiction or fantasy book…look for the distinctive rocket ship logo of the Hugo Award,” as recent NPR coverage claims? I’ve heard that booksellers may be swayed by a titles status as award-winning, and I’ve witnessed firsthand the power an award can have on the translation rights sales process. But, do readers actually care or pay attention to awards?

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  • Kristen Joy Wilks says:

    With not much time to read, my best friend had a spell where she only read Newberry winners when she was teaching 4th grade.

  • JJ Johnson says:

    As someone who reads Sci Fi and Fantasy on a regular basis- I can honestly say I could care less about the award being on the cover. I’ve been following the entire Sad-Puppies campaign (which is actually in it’s third year). There are folks on both sides fired up about it… I’m not a fan of hijacking an award in order to make a point. Even if I may be in agreement on certain issues. But at the same time I think when creative artist can only find validation in their careers from an award they are doomed to have a short career. I do however think this will end up coming to an end soon and that the Organizers will change the method of voting in order to prevent this from happening again. But even that will lead to a controversy. In the meantime I will continue to browse the shelves for new Sci Fi and Fantasy authors I enjoy.

  • I’ve been following the Hugo drama – from both sides, because it’s more interesting to get a well-rounded view – for months now. I’m really interested to see how it all plays out.

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