After the panel, I has an idea for something that could be done right now, for 2015.
Why not create and issue a second set of (one-off) awards this year?
Here's how it could work:
- The Organisers of the Hugos and/or Worldcon would have to be willing to offer logistical support
- It should be easy to identify the works and authors that were displaced by the puppies-list. Simply subtract all puppies-listed ones and see what's topping the nominations counts.
- List an equal number of works to the Hugos list for each category that issues the second set of awards.
- Use the same voting procedures and the same electorate as the Hugos.
- This is where Hugo organisers would have to come in: They'd have to distribute both lists in the same packet, alongside an explanation for why there are two sets of awards this year.
- Ideally, there should be a packet for these awards, too.
- Use crowdfunding to fund trophies and any prize money (if applicable) for this year. I'd happily chip in.
- At the next Worldcon, schedule a prize giving ceremony for the second set of awards. (Personally, I'd make it a joint ceremony with the Hugos)
And I'm sure there is some debate to be had whether such awards should cover all categories or only those which were completely rumbled by the puppies lists, but all that is detail that can probably be worked out. (From discussions tonight, it seems that there are some perfectly deserving novels on the Hugo shortlist, but the categories for short fiction and editors have allegedly been harmed a lot by the puppies' efforts this year.)
Here's why I think it would be a phenomenally useful thing to do:
- It would shine a spotlight on works that were a) deserving of attention and b) displaced by the effort of the puppies.
- Lots or people were debating about the long-term future of the Hugos. But any improvement to the Hugos themselves will take time to take effect...
- If fandom manages to react in the same year as people try to attack / game the system, then this demonstrates a resilience and an ability to respond (even before any tweaks to the Hugos system can be discussed and decided) that could, in my opinion, discourage repeat attacks in future
- It would set a precedent. Should the Hugos come under attack again in future, future organisers would not be caught unawares / have this tool in their arsenal.
I'm sure Hugo organisers are looking into tweaks to the Hugo voting mechanisms. I might write a separate blog about voting mechanisms later, if I can come to any conclusions about what would work & be resilient against concerted attempts to game the system.
Personally, I would be tempted to also look at the categories. For example, if one of the arguments made by puppies is that the Hugos are too literary, then perhaps the Best Novel category could be split in two - "Most Entertaining Novel" and "Outstanding Novel of the Year". (I always saw Hugos as awards rewarding outstanding, original and thoughtful work, but I'll be the first to admit that I also love novels that entertain without challenging me)
In the meantime
I'll email this blog post to a few people and see if anyone thinks it's a good idea worth pursuing. What do you think?
(Fair warning: if you think the puppies lists are a great idea, were the right thing to do, and are unproblematic, I won't approve your comment for publication)