So Much Kerfuffle Over Awards

I am not a huge fan of awards for writing. On the one hand, it’s always great to have your work noticed and I do like to recommend amazing books and stories because it’s another way of telling the world they should read these particular ones.

But on the other, writing isn’t a competition in the way that, say, a foot race is. In a race, the fastest person wins.

And while it’s certainly possible to have bitter disputes over racing — the mistreatment of Caster Semenya comes to mind — the competition is quite a bit less complicated than determining whether one book is better than another.

Still, I recommend books I think are worthy for the Nebula Awards each year and I vote when I have read enough of the nominees to have an opinion. And certainly I’d be pleased to be nominated — hell, I’m pleased when someone recommends my work or mentions it in the year-end review.

So I have been paying attention to what happened with the Hugo Awards in 2023, where people and works were disqualified for reasons that remain unclear. If you haven’t been keeping up with this, The Guardian has a very good article on it here.

I note that Babel by R.F. Kwang won other awards last year and is viewed by many as one of the best books that came out. I have read it and thought it was very good. I haven’t read Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher, which won the novel Hugo, but I have read other books by her and would not be at all surprised to find that it was also excellent.

The fact that Babel was “disqualified” for reasons that remain unclear is unfair to both authors. The same can be said about the other categories.

Since the convention was held in China, there is a lot of speculation that certain works and people were disqualified at the behest of the Chinese government or out of fear that the government would be displeased.

If that is true, it is an argument that the possibility of government interference should be considered in selecting WorldCon sites.

However, if it isn’t true, if the disqualifications happened because of errors of some kind, it is important to clear this up so that it will not be held against Chinese fans in the future.

There is a large science fiction fandom in China and any organization called the World Science Fiction Society needs to include those people.

It’s clearly important to get answers, but unfortunately the people who have the answers are waving around the word “disqualified” as if it means something. If there was a rule that disqualified Babel, it’s not one anybody on the outside knows about.  Continue reading “So Much Kerfuffle Over Awards”