by Doctor Science
Are you a fan of science fiction and fantasy novels, short stories, art, movies, TV shows, or meta? Have you heard of the Hugo Awards in the past as a good thing, and heard rumors of shenanigans this year? Do you have US$40 you could spend for the right to vote, and incidentally getting some good e-books out of it? You could be a Hugo voter!
How to become a Hugo voter
The Hugos are voted on by members of the World Science Fiction Society, which has a convention in a different city every year. This year's Worldcon is Sasquan and is taking place in Spokane, Washington, from August 19th to 23rd, 2015. You can vote for the Hugos if you're going to attend the con, but you can also buy a supporting membership which allows you to vote this year, and to nominate for next year's awards.
This year's voting closes July 31. You'll get an e-packet of material to help you decide which of the nominees to vote for. This year, the packet includes complete e-copies of: all the nominated short fiction; the complete text of the novels The Goblin Emperor, The Three-Body Problem, and The Dark Between the Stars; complete copies of Sex Criminals, Saga Vol. 3, and Rat Queens; and a watermarked but complete copy of Ms Marvel Vol.1. For the movies ("Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form"), TV episodes ("Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form") and podcasts, you're on your own, though links are provided.
Time is short, and I know the volume of material to consider looks daunting. You don't have to vote in every category! Just pick ones that interest you and give it your best, most honest shot.
I'm particularly encouraging my friends in transformative works and Tumblr fandom to consider voting because you-all are younger than the average Hugo voter (Worldcon members tend to be aging baby boomers, like me), which is good for the future of the award and the fandom, and because many of you have a lot of insights and opinions about visual and audio media: comics, fancasts, TV shows, art.
The voting system
The Hugo Awards use Instant Runoff Voting. There are no more than five nominees in each category, and you rank them in order from first down. This system rewards candidates with broad appeal to all the Hugo voters.
No Award: If you feel, in a given category, that you like Alpha best, Bravo next, and Charlie after that, but you don't think either Delta or Echo deserves a Hugo, your ballot should read:
4. No Award
If you personally would rather see No Award win, but wouldn't be upset if Delta won, then put Delta after No Award:
4. No Award
If you think it would be a travesty for either Delta or Echo to win, leave them both off.
Should you go to Worldcon?
Last year's Worldcon was in London, the one before that was in San Antonio, Texas, next year's is in Kansas City. Because Worldcon moves around, because it's put together by volunteers, and because it has few or no actors attending, it never gets terribly large compared to Dragoncon, much less ComicCon. Currently, Sasquan has about 4000 attending members and 5000 supporting members, from five continents ... plus one in Earth orbit.
Compared to other cons you might have attended, Worldcon runs light on high-gloss movie, TV, and game presentations, but heavy on cosplay and music. Cosplay isn't just in the halls, there's also the Masquerade, a judged costume and stage show that always includes some staggeringly beautiful and complex presentations -- last year's Best in Show Winner, "Aratalindale", for instance, depicted the Valar from Tolkien's Simarillion. Worldcon music includes performances, filking, and many types of dancing. There's an Art show and Artist's Alley, of course. Alas, the deadline for the Writer's Workshop has passed, but there are lots of other opportunities to talk about writing and fanworks.
I'll make another post about this year's Hugo nominees, some historical background, and some possible guidelines about what to look for, but I want to keep it separate from this one. Reblog, tell your friends, think about getting more of us into the structures of SFF fandom. I believe we're the future of the future, and I encourage you to take up that shiny shiny mantle.