Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Hugos and Relevance

Some of the folks on on File 770 are scoffing at this pieceby Claire Ryan as to whether the Hugos are even relevant.

So for the vast crowd of indies out there, publishing their work on Amazon and building their readership, the Hugos are irrelevant, as if they’re awards given out for a completely different industry. They exist but… they are meaningless. They are outside of our concern.

The “completely different industry” part rang a resonant bell, however. I think I agree with that. When I think about the Hugos, I’m doing it as a fan. Not as a writer.

As a writer, I’m a low-level vicious street urchin scowling at debutantes passing by in their carriages, hoping to live long enough to be a pot-bellied thug with a gold watch chain some day. I’m more about fun than acclaim, and awards are probably not in my future.

As a fan, I’m middle-aged and surrounded by fluffy cats, teacups, marabou slippers and scandalous anecdotes, having watched decades of bright young authors head in a variety of trajectories, and having read mountains of this stuff, so much I can’t possibly remember it all, and I appreciate the awards because they give me a good snapshot of the state of the art.

I think the Hugos – and corporate publishing in general – do reflect a completely different industry, and one that’s in transition from a hierarchial New York thing to a flat electronic thing. I keep reading articles about Barnes and Noble headed for decline, and if that happens maybe physical books will turn into vanity purchases, like fancy shoes, only sold in big fancy cities. Only drop dead gorgeous Ivy League grads will be able to write them, because there will be an entire industry of book-promo-videosmiths and cover-art-gestalt-technicians and launch-event-specialists appending from them and depending on them, and corporations won’t want to waste all that promotional muscle on any writers that aren't going to hold up their end of the talk show appearances.  

In fact, it’s already starting, with prenovelists nominated for best-debut awards by their publicists years in advance of their launches. Yep, that seems like a very different industry. 

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