To Vote Or Not To Vote: That Is The Question

And I don’t have an answer, not yet. I always wait to buy my membership until I see the nominees, and this year, the question is do I really want to spend $40.00 just to step in a pile of dog shit?

However, as I contemplate that decision, I want to talk about voting “No Award” for the Hugos and how to do it. Last year, I talked about it extensively, and I also linked to a Live Journal post that taught me how to do it, and if you want to know how to vote “No Award” properly and make sure your voice count, then I recommend reading it.

That being said, if you’d like a quick and dirty example of how to vote “No Award,” then let me give you one. I’ll use the Best Novel category, and for the purpose of this example, I will use the assumption that you’re absolutely refusing to give any votes to the books that were on the slated ballots that campaigned their way onto the official one. I should note if you’re really determined to keep any and all dog shit off the ballot, then Deirdre Saoirse Moen has a great post explaining how.

Clear as mud? Here’s an example:

Long story short: once you vote “No Award” in a category, stop and move to the next category.

There are two novels that made the official ballot that weren’t on any particular voting-bloc slate. The novels? The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison and Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie. For the purpose of this example, you only want to vote for those two books, and none of the rest, which were promoted on the voting-bloc slates (yes! there were TWO slates that closely matched!).

A reminder, here are the Best Novel nominees:

  • Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • The Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J. Anderson (Tor Books)
  • The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette) (Tor Books)
  • Lines of Departure by Marko Kloos (47North)
  • Skin Game: A Novel of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (Roc Books)

The Hugo Voting system allows you to rank each nominee, but it also includes “No Award” as an option. I should note the voting/ranking system is a complex beast, and this post explains it in a very funny way, and this is the official explanation from the Hugo site itself.

Okay, so let’s say I’m ready to vote. I’m going to give you two examples, as to not show favoritism between Addison or Leckie.

If I want The Goblin Emperor to win, but feel Leckie is a worthy candidate, but don’t want any of the voting-bloc nominees to have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning, this is what my ranking will look like:

First place: The Goblin Emperor
Second place: Ancillary Sword
Third place: No Award

That’s it! Sure, you’ll notice that you can still name a fourth, fifth, and sixth place, but to do so will officially give the titles you don’t want winning a snowball’s chance in hell, because again, the rules are weird.

Here’s another example: if I want Ancillary Sword to win but feel that Addison is a worthy candidate, but don’t want any of the voting-bloc nominees to have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning, this is what my ranking will look like:

First place: Ancillary Sword
Second place: The Goblin Emperor
Third place: No Award

And that’s it.

Remember: once you vote “No Award” in a category, stop and move to the next category.

As always, if you’re planning to vote, some will insist that one should give each and every nominee in each and every category you’re voting in fair, equal, and objective consideration based on artistic merit. Then, when you vote, rank everything accordingly, utilizing “No Award” properly if need be. However, that advice in and of itself is problematic, and it’s not a be-all and catch-all of advice.

Because on the other hand, at the most basic level, I should also point out that time is precious and one may not want to read works that made it on the ballot because they were part of a campaign-fueled voting bloc or for other valid reasons. Hence, if you want to vote “No Award” instead of ranking these works, as many are suggesting, that is your right as well.

It’s also your right to save time and money, and not vote at all.

As I said, I don’t know what I’m going to do yet. I haven’t yet purchased the supporting membership. I’m reading and learning and trying to process what this year’s ballot means for me as a fan, and I’m trying to figure out what I want the Hugos, as a whole, to mean for me in the future. I don’t believe in any sort of “real” fandom. I think there’s fandom, pure and simple, and there are very many different camps. Oftentimes those camps can overlap, and sometimes camps can be divided. But the Hugos were never meant to represent any specific camp, but the rather the voting voice of the people who actually were able to 1) nominate and/or 2) vote for the nominees for that particular World Con. I love that in recent years, you don’t actually have to attend the convention in order to nominate and vote. It’s definitely allowed for new and exciting voices in the genre, both from fans and authors. Of course, that’s a double-edged sword, as this year’s official slate of nominees reveals.

But how you make your voice heard — blogging, voting, nominating, criticizing — is up to you.

4 thoughts on “To Vote Or Not To Vote: That Is The Question

  1. I plan to read what I can. I am still debating about whether to put all or just some of the nominees below No Award. I understand the argument that slate voting is destructive to the whole Hugo process, and therefore everyone on that slate should go below “No Award” to discourage further slate voting. On the other hand, I am not sure that the people in the Best Novel category in particular agreed to have their name on the slate, and I might end up putting some of that slate above No Award if warranted. I need to think about it.

    I’m almost done with my first John C Wright novella. 😦


    1. I’m sure either. Last year, I felt the quality of the work spoke for itself, and there was maybe just one of those stories that I felt deserved to be ranked above no award. I won’t know this year until I read, if I read, if I buy a supporting membership. But I will say that once No Award is ranked, nothing should go below it, period. If you feel something should have a chance of winning, rank it above no award. IMHO, once the No Award card is used, I think that should be it. Last year, I was surprised when the system let me keep ranking stuff below it (which I didn’t, but I could).

      I take it the Wright novella isn’t working for you?


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