Later on this evening we will have the task of – celebrating the winners, commiserating with the losers (and also-rans) and offering our punditry, analysis, commentary and deep emotions related to the outcome of the 2016 Hugo Awards.
Regarding the current awards, the real questions won’t be settled until tomorrow when the business meeting votes on EPH, 3SV and a bunch of other things. The biggest question is – will Finland have to suffer through another year of puppy bullshit, or will it have a newly-minted tool in its hands?
After reading the analysis that applies EPH to a couple of prior award years, and after reading the commentary, all I can say is “I hope so”.
Not because I wish Finn-Fans and their convention any ill will, but because I am now convinced that EPH is NOT the answer, and never will be, no matter how many plusses get added over the years.
I don’t think it’s going to pass the ratification vote (unless someone runs around and packs the final meeting with pro-EPH members), and I’ll tell you two reasons why:
1. It does not do enough to discourage or stop the appeal of rigging the nominations for those so inclined. In the end, all that EPH can do is insure than one or two legitimate nominees are on the final ballot (nominees not arriving through shenanigans); because everyone who wants to vote for legitimate nominees will be paying close attention, this means that each category will devolve into one of two results:
A. The option of voting for a single legitimate nominee
B. The option of choosing between two legitimate nominees
The first result essentially hands the awards to the puppies: by getting to select all but one nominee, they can choose/highly influence what the one legitimate option will be.
I for one do not want to be voting on whatever the puppies choose to “allow” me to vote for
The second result turns Hugo voters into robots: place either legit option in the first slot, the other in the second slot and NO Award in the third slot. In every category. Failure to do so, in that order, runs the risk of letting a slated nominee through to the win.
You can’t tell me this won’t happen as, other than ignoring the whole thing (which hands victory to slates), those are the only available winning strategies for fans who want to vote their conscience.
2. The two people whose experience with the system(s) in question are experts at two different things and enjoy two different relationships to the awards. Jamison Quinn comes to the awards from an interest in voting systems. David McCarthy has been a Hugo Awards Administrator a number of times.
When the voting expert shows me that the test outcomes are not quite the results folks were hoping for, and the Awards Administration expert tells me that he doesn’t like the lack of transparency and thinks implementation places an undue burden on the administrators, I think it’s pretty clear that there are two strikes against it. In these circumstances, only two strikes are needed for an out.
EPH effectively destroys the intent of the Hugo Awards by handing, through a seemingly complex and opaque process, all the options to those who want to try and destroy the prestige of the awards – all because they aren’t good enough to win one through the fair and open process that has been in effect since 1955.
Bottom line: with EPH in place, those who game the awards will be REWARDED with the knowledge that their efforts will get three to four nominees into each category and, further, that by selectively creating their slate, they can also determine what non-slated works the majority will be voting for.*
I admire and applaud the work that has gone into EPH and I know full well that the intent of its creators was to offer a positive solution, but based on the analysis provided so far, EPH seems to make things worse.
With EPH in place, your options in voting will be – vote for puppy picks OR, vote for puppy picks.
I know a lot of people want to be able to say that we’ve put the puppy unpleasantness behind us, that we’ve got a tool to use, but EPH is not it. Voting for EPH is like one drowning non-swimmer grabbing a-hold of another drowning non-swimmer – it will only offer comfort and safety for a very brief period of time.
Please DO NOT ratify EPH this year.
Please DO vote for 3SV this year – it is the only solution put forth so far that remains open, transparent and allows the fans to retain their individuality when voting.
But that’s just an aside.
I thought I’d share my favorite winners from, years gone past – or at least from the days when the awards weren’t tainted by assholes (fiction and dramatic categories only):
Allamagoosa by Eric Frank Russell
The Star by Arthur C. Clarke
The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) [Universal] Directed by Jack Arnold
Starship Troopers (alt: Starship Soldier) by Robert A. Heinlein
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
The Twilight Zone (TV series) by Rod Serling
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
The Dragon Masters by Jack Vance
Dr. Strangelove (1964) [Hawk Films/Columbia] Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Dune by Frank Herbert
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein
Neutron Star by Larry Niven
Star Trek – The Menagerie (1966) [Desilu] Directed by Marc Daniels; Written by Gene Roddenberry
Star Trek – The City on the Edge of Forever (1967) [Desilu] Directed by Joseph Pevney; Written by Harlan Ellison
Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) [Paramount] Directed by Stanley Kubrick; Screenplay by Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
TV Coverage of Apollo XI
Ringworld by Larry Niven
Ill Met in Lankhmar by Fritz Leiber
Slow Sculpture by Theodore Sturgeon
To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip José Farmer
A Clockwork Orange (1971) [Hawk Films/Polaris/Warner Brothers] Directed by Stanley Kubrick; Screenplay by Stanley Kubrick; based on the novel by Anthony Burgess
The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov
The Word for World is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin
Sleeper (1973) [Rollins-Joffe/MGM/UA] Directed by Woody Allen; Written by Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman
Young Frankenstein (1974) [20th Century Fox] Directed by Mel Brooks; Screenplay by Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks; Screen Story by Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks; based on the characters in the novel Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
The Borderland of Sol by Larry Niven
A Boy and His Dog (1975) [LQ/JAF] Directed by L. Q. Jones; Screenplay by L. Q. Jones and Wayne Cruseturner; Story by Harlan Ellison
Concluding with the 1976 awards, handed out at the first MidAmeriCon, I think, is appropriate. Please note, these are only my faves from among the winners, not the nominees, not other works from those years, just my favorites from among those works that won the award.
(*In any given year, and particularly for the high-profile Best Novel Award, it is usually possible to identify one to three works that have achieved high recognition, are winning other awards, have created a lot of buzz and will, therefore, likely be ‘legitimate’ Hugo nominees. Slate voting can target one of these works to insure it is at the top or the bottom of the list by submitting nominations for that work or by submitting nominations for the other works. By way of example: Novel A is receiving attention and has been written by an author who has been targeted by bloc voters, they can almost insure it will not be on the final ballot by voting for the other highly placed, popular novels, in addition to submitting votes for the proposed slate(s).)