How to vote in the 2008 Hugos

So would you believe I had no idea how you actually nominate, vote, or otherwise participate in the Hugos? Hmmm.

Here’s the membership link for the 2008 Worldcon. Basically, anyone going to Worldcon can nominate and vote. For $40, you can be a supporting member, don’t have to actually *go* to Worldcon, and can then nominate and vote. Great. There’s the info, go sign up if you can.

Over on Ellen Kushner’s blog, there was a claim by an anonymous commenter that one of the short story nominees got on the ballot with only 16 nominations. I had no idea things were on that scale. That opened my eyes somewhat and I think we should make an effort to participate. Frankly, before now, I figured there was no point in participating and the system, whatever it was, was messed up (based on there almost never being any women in the first place). I have a hard time believing in the whole thing, it seems so skewed. But, let’s give it *another chance*… and I’d like to note I’m not alone in having *grown up believing it is pointless* - check out Adrienne Martini’s excellent outline of the issue, and here’s a brief sample:

I didn’t participate in the process. If I had an extra $50 floating around, which is unusual, I’d spend it on books rather than use it to buy my way into an organization whose most vocal constituents — the ones who actually vote — have made it pretty clear that as a group they don’t give a damn about my voice.

If you’re a feministsf sort of person and can’t afford 40 bucks, send us email and maybe we can find you a membership sponsor. I know for some of our participants here, it’s a big decision just to buy a used book. Much less spend 40 bucks in order to influence the canon. A lot of people can’t even imagine that and to them 40 bucks is pocket change. So let’s fix that part.

By the way, I wrote the joking post below about the Hugos and my conversation with Lori before I read Kushner and Ryman’s thoughts and those threads. (Since people have been asking.)

Have we really gone beyond tokenizing in SF? I like to think so, and yet many of the most respected canons we are building don’t reflect that.

Let’s get to work, people.

Why don’t some of you “men who didn’t notice” spend a year reading nothing but books by women and see where that leads you and what you discover about sf and about your own (pre)judgement systems.

Last 5 posts by lizzard

30 Responses to “How to vote in the 2008 Hugos”

  1. Ide Cyan Says:

    So that’s US $40 to buy a Worldcon membership to vote.

    Before that, you have to read material published within the year.

    That means hardcovers (appr. US $30 each), some trade or mass-market paperback originals (US $8 to $14 each minimum, on average), and that’s only for novels. You’re looking at about US $85’s worth (before taxes) of expenses for five books, if you’re lucky and three of them are mass-market paperback originals.

    Then there are novellas, short stories, etc. Some of them appear in original anthologies and collections — see the above prices for books. Magazines? A yearly subscription to Analog is $32.97, and that’s within the USA. $42.97 for international subscriptions — and that’s still in US dollars. F&SF Magzine: $32.97. A four-issue subscription to Fantasy Magazine? $19.95. A yearly subscription to OnSpec goes for CDN $24.00, and Solaris (in Québec) is CDN $30 a year.

    Add in a few online markets you can read for free, like Strange Horizons — but you have to have internet access for those, natch. Buying one-off issues at newsstands? Slightly less expensive than buying mass-market paperbacks.

    Media categories? Say $8 for first-run movies, or slightly less if you go to discount theatres or wait for video, and these days video releases are fast enough that they might allow you to get some idea of a year’s production before the year’s over. And genre television? That’s often on cable, which means more fees, or illegal downloads, bringing you back to (high-speed) internet access.

    New books take longer to get to the remaindered section of bookstores, in my experience. Second-hand stores leave you dependent on other people’s purchases, and on their willingness to part with them.

    Libraries take time to process new books, and if you’re in another country? Good luck getting new US publications there. Trading books with friends is another means, but unless you live in geographical proximity with them, you’re going to have to account for things like postal fees and risk losing books in the mail.

    In short, it takes a lot of money — not to mention reading time — to be able to remotely keep up with enough new SF to get to know only as many works as end up on the final ballot of the Hugo Awards.

    Sponsoring people to vote is a good idea, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg, and economic disparity between men and women — like that pesky domestic labour issue — handicaps women long before you get to the voting stage.

  2. Liz Henry Says:

    There is all that, but I can afford it, care, have information at my fingertips 24/7, and still didn’t go and look how to nominate until just now. Habits of ingrained belief of the pointlessness of trying to get involved or have a say in things.

  3. Yonmei Says:

    What Ide Cyan said.

    I’ve been a Worldcon member twice: I knew how the nomination process worked and knew I was entitled to do it: and I’ve never nominated or voted in the Hugo awards, because I simply don’t read newly-published books.

    I don’t mean I don’t read many - I mean I just don’t read them.

    When I buy books new, I buy paperbacks. I don’t do that often, either. The last new book I bought in hardback was Butler’s Fledgling, and that only because she had died and I badly wanted to read her last book and didn’t know when it would come out in paperback. I get books out of the library, but that isn’t free unless the books are actually on the shelves (even reserving a book so that they’ll let you know when it cmes back in costs 50p, which isn’t much by itself but would add up if I were trying to do it for whole categories - “All New F&SF” for example). Even just the books by women. And I buy books second-hand, a lot. Even that, these days, is something I think about carefully before I do it.

    I certainly don’t buy SF magazines, so I can’t ever vote for new short stories.

    And while I would love to be able to nominate/vote for my favourite fan writers, being realistic, that’s just not going to happen unless we get a mass take-over of the Hugo system by slash fans. Who would most likely not see the point, as slash fandom has its own awards and most slash writers would not want that much attention paid to their fanfic.

    Being able to participate in the Hugos takes money I just don’t have. Not just 40 bucks for a Worldcon membership.

  4. the angry black woman Says:

    While I agree that Yonmei and Ide are right about the cost and/or energy of aquiring and reading all of the new books in a year can take many women out of the equation for this, there’s no reason we need to adhere to traditional ways of aquiring and reading new books. We’re a community, after all, and we can totally use that to our advantage.

    When I was researching free and cheap ways to get ‘new’ books to read, I came upon a site called PaperbackSwap. the idea is that you list the books you have and are willing to part with on the website and people who want that book ask you for it. If you’re the one sending, you pay the media mail rate for mailing the book ($1.59 or somesuch). If you’re requesting, you don’t have to pay. But the idea is that everyone eventually sends a book, too, so it all evens out. They also have a system of credits (put up 9 books for swapping, get 3 credits toward asking for books, etc) so no one can take advantage by only requesting books and never sending any.

    I believe we could adapt this model for our own nefarious purposes. If the only barrier to reading new works and participating in the award nomination process is money and access, the community can help out. We can create our own version of PaperbackSwap for new books that would be of interest to Feminist SF readers.

    This will lead to discussions of what books should enter the system/be considered/etc. But I feel this could be easily worked out. Whatever book any member of the community feels fits, they give a mini-review saying so when they put the book up for swap. There needn’t be rigid adherance to any one person’s view. If you don’t like the book, say so. If someone still wants to read it, they will. Eventually a consensus will form.

    Some folks have the ability to buy a few new books each year. We could even get people in the group who have access to ARCs, review copies, freebies, or books from friends. And there will be other people in the group who would be happy to pay shipping costs if some people can’t - especially if we follow the media mail model within the US. International participants might get their books in groups of 3 or 4 to minimize the cost.

    If we’re serious about wanting to participate more in this nomination process to highlight more deserving books by and about women, and if we’re willing to utilize the resources of this community, it can be done. Without too much hard labor on any one person’s part, even. We might even consider asking the folks at PaperbackSwap if we can piggyback on their system - be a subgroup or somesuch.

    What does everyone think?

  5. Madeline F Says:

    I think that’s a great idea, Angry Black Woman. I live in a good area for local handoffs of books (lots of feminist geek readers) and it’d be good to have some more formal way of reminding people to circulate stuff.

  6. Yonmei Says:

    The thing is, though:

    I like to read. I am a reading addict. (To quote a friend:

    12-step programme for book addicts
    1. I admitted that I was powerless in the face of my addiction.

    2. I failed to see a problem with that.

    3.-12. Don’t bother me, I’m reading.

    Yes, it’s like that.)

    It’s not a big deal for me to get to read a book the instant it comes out: I actually prefer to wait, to find out via reviews/word-of-mouth whether I’m likely to enjoy a book. (Good clean copies of books that won the Booker Prize start showing up in charity shops about three years after it won, pretty much reliably, as lots of people who bought it because it was a Booker Prizewinner do a clear-out and realize they haven’t read this since, well, three years ago.)

    Buying new books in time to be able to nominate them for the Hugo awards pretty much definitely means buying them in hardback. If I have a choice between buying 1 hardback and 2.5+ paperbacks (new paperbacks: £7 or £8: new hardbacks: £16-£18, unless it’s something like Harry Potter: good-condition paperbacks from a second-hand book shop £5, from a charity shop £1-£3) well, look, I’ll go for getting to buy more books and possessing my soul in patience for two or three years before I get to read them.

    Back 15 years and more ago, public libraries in the UK used routinely to buy a copy of a new novel in hardback - most publishers could rely on selling 3000 copies of a first print-run just to libraries, or so I read. Now more and more libraries buy books in paperback. I don’t know how many publishers go straight to paperback, but quite a lot still do “first hardback, then ‘publisher’s copy’ paperback - which is the most peculiarly pointless halfway stage, all the disadvantages of a hardback and none of the advantages - and finally paperback.

    The economics of my life at the moment are such that, if I want to buy a “new” book, I do better - ie, I get to read more books - if I wait till it’s either available in the library or has found its way to a charity shop/second-hand book shop. And make a cautious visit to the science-fiction bookshop about three or four times a year to buy a strictly limited number of brand-new paperbacks.

    I can’t afford to do more. I wouldn’t risk committing myself to a feminist/sf book group in the UK in case it was my turn to buy the new hardback in a month where that level of extra expenditure was just something I couldn’t do.

    Participation in the Hugos is just not something anyone can do if they’re living on a low income.

    I hate to be defeatist about it: I will look into finding out whether I can get an array of new science-fiction by women from the library, since that’s absolutely the cheapest way I can get hold of new hardbacks. What would be useful there would be a booklist - writer’s name, book’s title, publisher…

  7. the angry black woman Says:

    But Yonmei, do you think the idea I suggested would help any? It would be people who can procure the new books, either by buying them or getting for free in some way, circulating them to people who can’t always do so.

    (BTW - we call ‘publisher’s copy paperback’ ‘trade paperback’ here and, I agree, sometimes they are an annoying sep between hardback and mass market. For me, I like trades because I like the heft of a big book but don’t like the price on hardcovers.)

    It would not be hard to get new books for this purpose. I, for one, am a master at Free-Fu. I recieve so many things for free it’s obscene. In fact, people often give me things for free because hey know that I’ll run around telling people how awesome the free thing is.

    I’m on good terms with several editors and publishers at big house and independant presses. I would have no trouble getting a book or two (or three or four, depending) from Tor, Nightshade, Small Beer, possibly Del Rey. And if I circulated the reason for this group around a bit I might even get more books from Bantam or Random House or who knows where.

    And I’m just one person. There are others in this community who know different authors and editors and agents. Heck, if we all pool our resources it might turn out that the only money any of us has to spend is on postage. And, again, for those of us who can’t always do so, others in the community might be willing to step up. I know I would.

    –Oh, I should also point out that we wouldn’t necessarily have to take turns buying a new book. It would be an issue of: This book is coming out, I think it would be good for the group to read. can someone get it for free? No. Anyone have the ability/willingness to buy it? No? Okay, when someone can get a hold of one, do. There wouldn’t be any stigma attached (I hope) to any one person for not buying as many books as anyone else. The point would be, after all, community effort.

  8. Liz Henry Says:

    ABW, I completely agree with you. There’s paperback swap and there’s other similar services! We should do that! When I think of all the nice glossy hardbacks from the 2005 Tiptree judging, still on my office floor in enormous stacks! I should be swapping them.

    Maybe we could do it more informally on Librarything, and have a tag, like “femsfswap” or “womenhugoswap”. We have a Feminist SF group on LibraryThing, by the way!

    Most of what I”ve read that’s new, I’ve only read because Bill Humphries has bought it and lent it to me because he seems to spend a lot of resources on buying new stuff and always knows what’s cool.

    I am starting to make an effort to buy from smaller presses, consider for example Aqueduct Press which has such a strong feminist sf focus. (So, go buy the Marq’ssan series and also don’t forget Mindscape.)

  9. the angry black woman Says:

    I’ve never poked around Librarything, Liz. If you think it would work for organizing this type of thing, I’m all for it. basically we just need something that shows which books are available for swap and who has them. Preferably a system that also allows for reviews or short blurbs everyone can see.

    It’s good that we’re having this conversation now, because if we can get all the organizing in place by early May, we can inform people about this and ‘recruit’ at WisCon as well as online. I think I can get a hold of some free postcards that we can give out.

  10. Yonmei Says:

    But Yonmei, do you think the idea I suggested would help any?

    Well, I assumed your suggestion was directed at other feministsf bloggers living in North America, not at me: why not ask them?

    It would be people who can procure the new books, either by buying them or getting for free in some way, circulating them to people who can’t always do so.

    I can’t even imagine the logistics of setting something like that up from scratch in the UK: it would be fairly expensive just to post the hardbacks - I’ve posted books to friends and hardbacks are heavy: and I couldn’t start it up because I couldn’t afford to buy the books.

    I’m on good terms with several editors and publishers at big house and independant presses. I would have no trouble getting a book or two (or three or four, depending) from Tor, Nightshade, Small Beer, possibly Del Rey. And if I circulated the reason for this group around a bit I might even get more books from Bantam or Random House or who knows where.

    All of which will doubtless be helpful in setting this up in North America, but not here…

  11. the angry black woman Says:

    Well, I assumed your suggestion was directed at other feministsf bloggers living in North America

    Indeed not. It could work with both North American and UK participants. We’d just have to modify the model a little when sending books back and forth across the pond.

    For instance, if we have just one group and include UK and American folks, then the books UK people want to see will go over in batches of 3 or 4 at a time. It’s cheaper, on our end, to send one medium-size box instead of 4 small boxes. Once you’re done with all of the books, you can send them back. If you can’t afford to, perhaps someone on this side would be willing to pay for the books to come to them.

    If we had two separate but related groups — one for the UK, one for America — there could still be cross-pollination. However, if someone here sends you a box of 3 - 6 books, it would be for circulating within the UK group instead of back and forth. That way the onus still would not be on one person to get it all started, buy all the books, etc. It would still be a community effort.

    I’m hoping that the majority of books will be ARCs or otherwise free copies from the publisher. That would mean trade paperbacks. Hopefully those won’t be as expensive to send. Do you guys have the equivalent of Media Mail there?

    (this is not to mention people I know who have contacts in UK publishing. You’d be able to get books published there, even.)

    I guess what I feel like you’re thinking is that it’s all going to be on YOU or any one person over there. What I’m trying to get you to understand is that it would be about a group of people all working together. No one person would have to shoulder a financial burden. If you can’t afford to post every book, maybe the person you’re posting it to can afford to pay for that.

    If you find that there aren’t enough UK readers interested in doing this, we can still include you in the general group. That is, if you even want to do this. If you don’t, then you don’t.

    I deeply feel that money should not be a deciding factor in this issue. If we have a community made up on people who really care and are passionate, then we can get people books for small amounts of money with shared effort. I mean… isn’t that a very feminist idea? Or am I just on crack?

  12. Yonmei Says:

    tabw, I appreciate the thought and the effort, but I do not see how this could ever work as a transAtlantic project - I wish you well with it as a North America project, if posting really is that cheap there.

    I know of no “Media Mail” option such as you mention for inland mail: in fact, a hardback book is most likely to fall into the “packet” category of mail, which costs the most to send. There is an International Mail “printed papers or small packets” option, which costs just under half what letter mail would cost, but that would still be over £10 per kilo.

    I deeply feel that money should not be a deciding factor in this issue.

    But money is going to be a deciding factor in this: it always is.

    What would work for me as a project would be getting the lists of newly-published F&SF by women early enough for it to be plausible that we could (any feministsf readers in the UK could) present these lists to our local library systems and ask if they intend to buy them. Once they’re in the library system, other people can borrow them, after all, and if enough people ask for them the libraries become more likely to buy them, and it really is the cheapest way I can think of to get new hardback books.

  13. Laura Q Says:

    I don’t know how it is outside the US, but in the US most libraries are happy to get suggestions for books. I’m not sure about *lists*: that might seem daunting to a librarian. But individual works are really useful.

    In fact I make it part of my mission in life to suggest feminist SF titles to my local public libraries. I often ask for small & independent press titles; works that have received critical recognition but haven’t gotten as much recognition as they should; etc.

    It’s helpful to a librarian to include the full title, full author(s), ISBN, and any positive reviews that have been *published*.

  14. Laura Q Says:

    On libraries, book exchanges, and so on:

    Book exchanges:
    There’s no one solution that will solve class differences, but surely we can move ahead on solutions thus far proposed that will ameliorate some money issues. For instance, I hesitate to say whether or not a particular scheme could work outside the US, but postage in the US/Canada is indeed fairly cheap. So large secondary markets for used books/media, as well as book-swap and book-loan programs are made possible by relatively inexpensive package shipping, and Internet catalogs. As ABW suggests, we should take advantage of that, and while it won’t help *everybody*, it might help many people some of the time, and some people a lot.

    LibraryThing (”LT”) links to a lot of book swap sites. I posted a note to the Feminist SF group about setting up a “FSF conspiracy bookswap” group. We can join, catalog your books, and see what works. People who can afford to send things by post can participate, whether they can afford because they have money, they work out a deal with a friend, or the US-end folks pick up the tabs, or they are in a country where it’s cheap to post. I note that LT is free to catalog 200 books, and $10/year or $25/lifetime for unlimited books. People who don’t really want to catalog their own books or who have less than 200 books and don’t have $25 to spare can just set up an account with only a few books and just use LT for the group/bookswap services.

    For Yonmei’s suggestion: We should definitely be making lists of hot new works by women authors. Posted here, LibraryThing group, FSFwiki, and anywhere else folks suggest, these can serve as both fodder for book swaps and suggestion lists for libraries.

    We have a lot of technology tools at our disposal to facilitate information exchange (as well as physical media exchange). We can use (A) Feminist SF group; (B) pick a bookswap system; (C) use the fsfwiki to coordinate; (D) set up a separate wiki, blog, or website for posting and coordination information — we could even make it password-protected so we could share email addresses without adding to our spam-quotient; (E) … other ideas ?

  15. Yonmei Says:

    Laura Q: I don’t know how it is outside the US, but in the US most libraries are happy to get suggestions for books. I’m not sure about *lists*: that might seem daunting to a librarian. But individual works are really useful.

    What I was thinking was (in my sneaky way) that if I had a list, a group project I could get people behind is for everyone to go into their local library in the library region I live in, and ask the librarian if s/he could get this *one* book - only all of us ask for *different* books, and none of us admit to being part of a group. Getting a library book once it’s been bought by the cluster of libraries in this region is just a matter of asking for it (paying 50p if it’s not in that specific library).

    It’s helpful to a librarian to include the full title, full author(s), ISBN, and any positive reviews that have been *published*.

    Absolutely, and if we were aiming to get (for example) all feminist SF recently published read, that kind of information is definitely worth circulating.

  16. the angry black woman Says:

    But money is going to be a deciding factor in this: it always is.

    It would very much surprise me if a whole community of women couldn’t eliminate or minimize the issue of money for something like this. It would just be a matter of committment.

    Perhaps this particular model will not work for you. I hope you have success getting your local library to buy books. If you need help with that project I’m sure there is plenty to be had.

  17. Laura Q Says:

    On lists —

    * 2006 Hugo Awards That Weren’t - I made a page in the FSFwiki for us to list the works by women writers that should have been included in the hugo nominations, but weren’t. then we can annotate with purchasing information (including nation-specific ISBNs) and check with our libraries to see if they’re around.

    * 2007 nominate women writers - I also set up a page for 2007, so we can get ahead of the game. When we find works that we love and think should be recommended, list them here. Again we can annotate with purchasing information for libraries, and include in bookswapping programs.

  18. the angry black woman Says:


    I emailed the guys who run paperbackSwap to see if they were at all interested in collaborating with us on it. I thought of that system first because they already have the software in place to post books, track how many books people have sent/received, etc. However, poking around LibraryThing, I think we could set up a bookswap group there, too, and work things out informally. I plan to use that account just for this project, so hopefulyl won’t go over 200 books right away :)

    The idea of keeping a list on the wiki is a good one. It will not only help inform the bookswapping but it will provide other people with handy information. I guess I’ll start contributing to the wiki now…

  19. Niall Says:

    Here is a list of science fiction novels being published in the UK in 2007. Here are the novels by women:

    Doris Lessing, The Cleft
    Sophia Macdougall, Rome Burning
    Catriona McCloud, Growing Up Again
    Elizabeth Moon, Command Decision
    Justina Robson, Selling Out
    Lionel Shriver, The Post-Birthday World
    Tricia Sullivan, Sound Mind
    Scarlett Thomas, The End of Mr Y
    Liz Williams, Bloodmind

    I didn’t add these to the wiki, because Laura’s comment indicated that page is for recommendations, and I haven’t read any of the above yet. (Though I will, because they should all be submitted for the Clarke Award, for which I am a judge.)

    Note 1: the Thomas is not Hugo-eligible, because it was first published in the US last year. But word is that it’s good. Note 2: not only is this a UK-specific list, it doesn’t include fantasy novels, because I don’t have that information to hand (the Clarke is specifically for science fiction). However, there will be at least as many, and probably many more, fantasy novels that would be eligible for the Hugos. (And if you know of anything missing from this list, please let me know.) Note 3: you may want to avoid the Lessing, but I included it for the sake of completeness. Note 4, for Yonmei: the Sullivan (which I have also heard very good things about) and the Moon were published as mass-market paperback originals.

  20. Laura Q Says:

    Thanks, Niall! Great start. I added these to the wiki, because I wanted it to be a list of works by women eligible for 2007 awards. But I’ll add sections to make things clearer. Feel free to add any more you see, please.

    (Le Guin really didn’t like the Lessing, either. Saved by a Squirt, 2/10, Guardian.)

  21. Niall Says:

    Oh, and: I would encourage everyone here to vote in the Locus poll, which is open to all comers — no membership fee to anything required.

  22. Niall Says:

    Laura: ok. I’ll go and add the US books I can think of now, then.

  23. Laura Q Says:

    Relatedly - This is an issue for women in other fields too. Women in science, for instance, get disproportionately fewer awards, based on other measures (like citation ratings for their work). There’s a project to act as a clearinghouse for women scientists to make sure that people who nominate for various science awards (including grants) have access to information about women scientists. (I’ll try to dig up the URL.)

    The NAS report “Beyond Bias and Barriers” covers the academic promotion & tenure issues, which is related to the same unintentional bias and systemic bias problems. (Intentional bias plays a role, too, undoubtedly. But the report focuses on analyzing the data and recommending solutions to eliminate the unintentional/systemic problems. I think that’s actually quite practical in this instance: Once you eliminate opportunities for unintentional/systemic bias, then intentional bias stands out and is easy to prove.) The prepub PDF is available for $15, and the final will be out soon. But lots of local universities etc. have it (and it’s another recommendation for your local library).

  24. Laura Q Says:

    Did folks read Dear Patriarchy, by Elizabeth Bear?

  25. Madeline F Says:

    I’m commenting to say that it’s good to have lists of what’s eligible for the various awards, and also to close the freeging bold tag!

    Now, off to edit a wiki for the first time ever.

  26. Madeline F Says:

    Closing the bold tag didn’t work. :( I’ll try again.

    Also, as I went to edit, I thought: shouldn’t we set up a clearinghouse for all the Hugo categories, not just the writing-related ones? And it seems like the Nebula stuff should be on a separate page, since it’s got a different (rolling) eligibility schedule. (We can’t vote for Nebulas unless we’re part of SFWA, but it would be good to have something to point SFWA people to.) I guess I should ask this all on a discussion page on the wiki? I’m really new to wikiing, sorry if I get stuff wrong.

  27. Madeline F Says:

    I made up a page for the awards that draw on 2007’s books but are awarded in 2008, and transferred over all the books listed in the “nominate women writers 2007″ page… Will check them for dates later, when it’s not nearly 2 AM.

  28. Ide Cyan Says:

    Good idea, Madeline. Forward thinking!

  29. Liz Henry Says:

    Oh, I had not read Dear Patriarchy, could someone blog that not-in-comments? If not I’ll try to do it as soon as I have a bit more rant and write and time.

  30. Feminist SF - The Blog! » Blog Archive » Bookswapping for a better world Says:

    […] not just the cost of a membership that’s holding some readers back, it’s also the cost of acquiring new books to read. I suggested a way for interested parties to read newly published books without having to spend a […]

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