It’s award season in the science fiction and fantasy world. The British Science Fiction Awards (BSFAs) were announced last week, the Clarke awards have come out, and the Nebulas will be announced on May 17th, and the Hugo winners will be announced in August, in London.
As far as the Hugos go, they wouldn’t be the Hugos if there weren’t some kind of controversy. There are actually a few, but the nominations for best novel is the controversy I have an opinion about. I think it’s a scandal. Shocking. The World Science Fiction Society should be ashamed.
How can you justify nominating fifteen books, written by several different people, for “best novel?” I’m talking, of course, about Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. The entire series.
Wheel of Time? Seriously? All of it?
Clearly the WSFS rules permit this or at least don’t screen it out. I can understand why you might want to nominate a multiple-volumed work as “best novel.” I really do. But fifteen, starting from 1990? Several of which are not even written by the original author? Why would you do this?
Okay, well, it’s obvious why you would do this. Robert Jordan was sick and dying. Then he did die and they brought in some other guy to finish up the books. He did a great job and the fans were pleased. But Jordan was dead. If you gave the new guy, Sanderson, the award, it looked like you were somehow slighting the creator. Some people must have felt that this would be disrespectful to a series that meant as much to its generation as Lord of the Rings meant to mine.
Still, practically speaking, I don’t get this. The Worldcon members who want to vote will have to read all fifteen books before August, in addition to all the other works that are nominated; in addition to spending time with their families, going to their job, and engaging in some personal hygiene now and then. Are you going to vote for Best Novel without reading one of the candidates? Probably you are one of the readers who has already most or all of the books, but if you’re not, you have a moral dilemma. And how do you judge all 15 books? As one long story?
Of course, while people are doing this, a couple of really exciting novels, most particularly Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, will probably get overlooked because the voters are too exhausted to read it. To be fair, she’s already won awards, but still. C’mon, guys.
All awards are largely popularity-based, and to some extent sentimentally based, so this isn’t really a surprise. It’s just a head-shaker. The good news is, win or lose, WOT will leave us with lots to blog about.