Thursday, May 12, 2016

Random Thought - Why Not the Hugo Longlist?

As far as I can tell, no one tracks the longlist of Hugo nominees. Every year, following the Hugo award ceremony, the Hugo administrator releases the voting data for that year's Hugo Awards, as directed by the constitution of the World Science Fiction Society. This "stats sheet" lists both the voting totals for the vote to select the winner in each category, as the nomination data for the top fifteen works to receive nominations for the award in each category. One can go and find several of these lists online, as they have been placed there by most of the recent Hugo administrators, but there isn't a single place that one can go to and find all of the longlist nominees.

The rather obvious question that comes to mind is: Why not? Why is this source of data mostly ignored? Other awards have long lists, and they are tracked. Locus magazine, for example, has a long list for their annual Locus Award, and they keep track of all of the nominees who appear on that list. Locus, however, does not do the same for the Hugo Award long list. I suppose it might be because the longlist isn't really an "official" part of the Hugo process, but that doesn't usually stop anyone from keeping track of something. Maybe it is because the information only comes out after the Hugo award winners are announced so there is less interest in the books, stories, movies, television episodes, and individuals who appear down the list. Maybe no one really cares about this information.

I should actually say, maybe no one else really cares about this information, but I care about it. One of the reasons I write this blog is to track the winners and nominees for a selection of genre fiction awards, with the objective of reading and reviewing as many of them as practicable. But the objective of the exercise is not to read and review award winning books - rather it is to use a broad selection of award winning and nominated works as a method for understanding the shifting landscape of the world of genre fiction. The ultimate goal is to understand at least some of the history of genre fiction. Following the awards is a means to that end, not the end itself.

With that in mind, it becomes clear that the Hugo longlist is another piece of the puzzle that will aid in understanding the whole. Knowing that John Scalzi's Redshirts won the 2013 Hugo for Best Novel is an interesting piece of the puzzle. Knowing that the other finalists in the category were Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312, Mira Grant's Blackout, Lois McMaster Bujold' Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, and Saladin Ahmed's Throne of the Crescent Moon is another. Knowing N.K. Jemisin's The Killing Moon, Mary Robinette Kowal's Glamour in Glass, and James S.A. Corey's Caliban's War were among the ten novels to just miss becoming Hugo finalists is still another piece of the puzzle. Adding in the longlist data makes the whole more cohesive. When trying to understand history, context is one of the most critically important elements, and looking at what nominees just missed becoming finalists provides additional context.

The longlist also provides context in other ways as well: The only way to see if someone declined a position on the finalist list is to look at the longlist data, as unlike those who withdraw nominations, declined works and individuals are never listed on the list of finalists. Given the politicization of the Hugos that has occurred since 2013 with the bloc-voting by the Puppies, the longlist has gained even more importance as an indicator of the non-Puppy tastes in fiction - a fact that explains the popularity of works such as the recently published Long List Anthology edited by David Steffen. This is mostly just a roundabout way of saying that, to the extent possible, I think that keeping track of the Hugo longlist is something that would be worthwhile, so I'm going to start doing just that. Starting on this Sunday, to the extent that the information is available, I will be adding the Hugo longlist information to the records that I track.

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