UPDATE: I have a post on the Hugo Awards finalists up here.
The 2015 Hugo Awards were already big. Spurred largely by the Puppy ballots, Sasquan set a record with 2,122 nominating ballots. MidAmericon II has announced that the 2016 Hugo Awards shattered that record with over 4,000 nominating ballots.
Finalists for the 2016 Hugo Awards, 2016 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (the Hugo That Isn’t A Hugo), and the 1941 Retro Hugo Awards will be announced on Tuesday, April 26. I’m sure the Internet will treat that announcement with the solemnity it deserves. Specifically, to buttress the solemnity, I’m sure, MidAmericon II will release the nominees by category starting at noon central time on their Facebook page and Twitter feed.
Voting is slated to begin in mid-May 2016.
My thoughts? Over 4,000 nominating ballots is a very good thing.
It’s one thing to get a couple thousand people to show up and nominate a slate.* It’s another thing to get a couple thousand people to show up and nominate from a long list. It’s one thing to get a couple thousand people to show up and vote for “Noah Ward” instead of reading the nominated works. It’s another thing to get a couple thousand people to show up and nominate works instead of just voting against something they never read. It wasn’t clear that either group would show back up this year. It looks like they both did. Again, that’s very much a good thing. An award like the Hugos can’t work without a large and diverse nominating and voting body.
I won’t end my post without throwing in the usual lawyerly caveats. Categories got swamped last year in large part because far fewer people nominate for a lot of the categories than for Best Novel. If the extra 2,000 nominating ballots are largely empty outside of Best Novel then the other categories won’t be improved. It’s extra nominations in the minor categories that are really needed (but then again, if you can’t get anyone to nominate, even now, then maybe you need a few less categories). Maybe the Sad Puppy vote will be so diffuse this year that it gets swamped by the Rabid Puppies. Or maybe David Gerrold’s immature little show at the awards ceremony last year has pushed Sad Puppies into the Rabid camp in quantity. Maybe whoever gets nominated is doomed to be No Awarded by the other side. Or maybe it’s too little, too late, and the Hugo Awards will continue to lose relevancy in favor of other awards such as the newly announced Dragon Awards.
Only time will tell. In the interim, I will be here talking about the nominees.
*The amount of decay among nominees showed that considerable individual thought was put into nominations last year, a fact usually lost in the need to push a narrative. The big story wasn’t the slate, it was that the Puppies voted in such numbers they simply drowned out the desiccated husk of the existing electorate.