My Hugo Reading Rules (and a good proposal)

Now that I’m back from tour, I’m downloading the Hugo Voters Packet and embarking upon a read of its contents.

. . . some of them, anyway. I’ve laid down a set of rules to guide me in deciding where to spend my time and energy. In the interests of full disclosure, I’m listing them here — but please do not take this as anything other than my rules for the process. Nobody is obligated to copy my example. In fact, the only universal rule for Hugo-Packet Reading I would support is one that says, read it any damn way you want. I spent a while this weekend reassuring somebody who had been told repeatedly that she absolutely had to read everything in the packet, no matter what, which simply is. not. true. As you will see from my own rules:

  1. I will at least look at everything that was not on a slate. (Time permitting.)
  2. I will not look at anything published by Castalia House. I am not obligated to give Theodore Beale and his cronies any real estate in my brain.
  3. Ditto the piece from Patriarchy Press. The name, coupled with everything I’ve heard about the work in question, tells me enough to make that decision right now.
  4. Other slate-based nominees may get a look from me, depending on how much time I have to spare.
  5. If any nominated work, from a slate or not, doesn’t hook me, then I’m not obligated to finish it. If I have to use the leverage of “but it was nominated for a Hugo!” to motivate myself to read the whole thing, then clearly I don’t like it enough to rank it very highly anyway.

Since I’ve said it in a few places, I should add: my own way of handling the problem of slate-based nominees who might have gotten there under their own steam is to keep an eye on them for next year. My supporting membership gives me the right to nominate for 2016; if I like a slate candidate’s work here, I’ll give them high consideration for a nomination next time around. It’s the best balance I can personally find between not rewarding slate tactics, and not punishing those who didn’t sign on for this train wreck.

And where countering slate tactics is concerned: there is quite a good proposal here for altering the Hugo nomination process in a way that will counteract that problem, without too much in the way of negative consequences. Scroll down for the plain-language version and the FAQ — that’s the post where they’re trying to work out the official language — but the short form is, it’s a way to make nominations work kind of like voting does right now. Nominate as many works as you like; as the lowest-ranking candidates are eliminated, their support gets reallocated to other works on the nominator’s ballot. It minimizes the power of bloc voting, without punishing works or individuals who also have strong support outside of the bloc, and it does all of this without disenfranchising anybody — which is the major flaw of many proposals, e.g. the ones that say you should have to buy a full attending membership to nominate or vote. I haven’t followed the entire technical discussion of voting systems that led to them choosing this one, because that discussion is enormous and full of math I can’t follow . . . but it looks good to me. I hope it can get enough support to pass.

Now if you’ll pardon me, I have some stuff to read.

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