Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off #5: Five More Fall

Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off #5

Five More Fall

John Gwynne Interview – A Time of Blood

John Gwynne Interview

A Time of Blood

The Black Hawks by David Wragg – Spoiler Free Review

The Black Hawks

Spoiler Free New Release Review


The pros and cons of the voting processes behind major SFF awards: Part 2


Hugos: Nominees are chosen by anyone who is either a supporting or attending member of the current annual Worldcon, and the Worldcon in the years before and after i.e. 2014, 2015, 2016. Instant run-off voting system. Top five nominations per category are the final choices. Winners chosen by ballot of members of current Worldcon only.

N.B. Worldcon moves location every year. Last year it was in London, hence Loncon. This year, Spokane – called Sasquan. IDK if this is because of sasquatches in the area, but I choose to believe that the administrators of Worldcon have a sasquatch mascot.

This year, there is reportedly a massive upsurge in people buying supporting memberships of Sasquan, so basically people want to vote in the awards but have no interest in going to the con. Normally, the number of people who vote in the awards is small, so it’s reasonable to say that the upsurge is a result of the resentful manchildren making this year’s awards political. SADFACE. SAD SASQUATCH SADFACE.


Nebulas: Nominated by members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Works published in the USA in English. Final ballot only voted on by active members.


Arthur C. Clarke: Best SF published in the UK during the previous year. Just one category. Panel made up of judges from British Science Fiction Association, Science Fiction Foundation and the Science Fiction London Film Festival.


Kitschies: Apart from the Black Tentacle for special achievement, each category is judged specifically by panels made up of experts with experience in that field e.g. the Tentacles for best novel and best debut are judged by writers, while the Tentacle for illustration is judged by illustrators and artists. Specifically goes for ‘progressive, intelligent and entertaining.’


Locus: Five ranked nominations per category, each place awarded points according to rank e.g. first place gets eight points, second gets seven points. Poll of Locus magazine readers only. Leader in each category wins. Recommended reading list by the magazine has some influence.


World Fantasy Awards: Panel of judges which changes every year. Nominees largely chosen by the judges (five or six per category), two entries per category chosen by members of the past two conventions.

So here we have a few different takes on how or who decides what gets awarded respect/trophies/kudos/chocolate spaceships:

Panel of judges with expertise or long experience of reading SFF. World Fantasy Awards, Kitschies, Arthur C. Clarke.

Pro: judges usually have experience writing or editing SFF, and therefore have a HUGE wealth of reading experience to draw their opinions from.

Con: Personal tastes are still subjective, so you need a good balance of people. Who chooses the panels? Does the panel change every year? How are the shortlists chosen, if that isn’t disclosed already?

Voting by members of small organisation with various expertise in SFF. Nebulas.

Pro: again, people with lot of expertise in writing, editing etc. SFF, therefore incredible amount of SFF knowledge.

Con: people can be influenced by friends or campaigning. What works are missing out because of this?

Voting by attendees of cons or readers of magazine. Basically public voting with different systems of how that happens. Locus, Hugos.

Pros: much wider (though still small) range of readership, so some smaller, overlooked works could potentially be nominated. Wider range of works competing i.e. could have more ‘literary’ SFF competing against more ‘popular’ SFF.

Cons: Sometimes seen as a popularity contest. Public voters don’t often have time to read as widely as panel judges. And, as we have seen, because the number of public voters is still small-ish, any determined campaign can hijack the process. It depends on everyone behaving like rational, mature adults.

So there you have it. Major SFF awards and their voting processes. There are pros and cons for all of them, and honestly, voting processes are as much determined by what kind of awards you want them to be. The Hugos will probably be debating rule changes after this and next year’s awards, and those changes, depending on how deeply they go, will impact on how they’re seen in the SFF community.


One Comment

  1. Avatar Bruce Baugh says:

    I’m part of that surge of supporting members. Like a lot of my friends, I’ve been reading f/sf/h since childhood, have often participated in various branches of fandom (mostly the online ones, given chronic health problems), and gone to a fair number of cons over the years, but never participated in Hugo nominating or voting until this years. It’s true that I – like a bunch of others I know who joined up for the first time this year – am responding to the politicization pushed by the Puppies crowd…but I’m hoping in my voting to be part of a de-politicizing response. Or perhaps an anti-that-politicizing response, at least: in any event, a renewed emphasis on the individual appraisal of works and people, and a rejection of the mass slate action.

    Is my crowd representative? Dunno, obviously, not being psychic or a time traveler. But we are certainly not alone, and I have hopes.

    By the way, a tip of the hat to the estimable Mike Glyer of for linking to this. I really like your appraisal of the ups and downs of various voting methods, and have filed it away to refer to when I talk about the subject with friends. 🙂

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