20 May 2012

"It's Full of Stars"

Congratulations to the recipients of SFWA's Nebula (and related) Awards for best speculative fiction published in 2011, announced last night at a banquet in DC. Congratulations also to Grandmaster (Grandmistress?) Connie Willis; Solstice Award recipients Octavia Butler and John Clute; and Service to SFWA Award recipient Bud Webster. Yet more congratulations still to my colleague Victoria Strauss for earning the Independent Book Blogger Award (not a SFWA award, but legitimate nonetheless) for the publishing-watchdog Writer Beware blog.

This leads to two points on awards, both of which are probably much to theoretical for anyone relaxing on a Sunday afternoon and encountering this post. (n.b. I know bloody well that it's a workday for freelancers, but bear with me anyway.)

  1. There's a specific reason I said "recipients" and not "winners": The nomination and voting process is so grievously flawed (even if much less so than for the Hugos) that it's not fair to the other nominated works — and even to nonfinalist works — to say "winner"... and thereby imply that all of the works except that one votegetter are "losers". One cannot even be certain that all of the voters have read even the finalists (or any finalists), let alone widely enough among other works to trust their judgment. Again, this is a far worse problem with the Hugos — with the annual geographic skewing of the ballot by where the convention is being held that year — than with the Nebulas; it's nonetheless enough of a problem to underpin my reticence.
  2. It's too damned soon. Nominations essentially closed in February, which for many eligible voters is too soon after the close of the eligibility period — especially for works published late in the year, and most especially for works published by small presses. Even for this final ballot, which was somewhat later, it's too soon after the end of the eligibility period for people to really reflect upon works and compare them (unless they're combat-trained literary scholars, and probably even then).

None of which should, or is intended to, take away from the justifiable warm fuzzies of the recipients. Or the other finalists. More so for the Nebulas (which are voted upon by an author's peer-authors) than for the Hugos (which are voted upon by anyone who comes up with the membership fee for a given year), "It's an Honor To Be Nominated."