This year the Intertubes were a blaze with issues about tolerance -- or the lack of it -- in all types of media and it may not be a surprise that the Hugos are in the middle of it this year when a group decided to make a statement by gaming the Hugo Awards to prove that the Hugo nomination system could be gamed.. I'd say that was proven when Doctor Who won the Short Dramatic Feature for like three years in a row. All good stuff, but that was a bit much.
You can vote in the Hugos for two years if you like, by getting an associate membership to World Con, which is $40. In a time that's the same price as one-day pass to a local con where you can talk to people about the cool stuff you saw this year, that seems steep. And to be in person is bit steeper than PAX, a show with 70,000 guests is $95. A World Con can be between $150-$200 depending on how long you wait to get tickets. (You can get some discounts with early bird specials, attending last year, etc.)
So people voting on the Hugos can claim they are serious about their fandom in a time when the paperback novel that sparked genre explosion over half a century ago is dying. to ebooks. Serious enough that fans stump for their favorites more out of love than of merit. Some even claim that reached a tipping point the early 70s, when Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama beat out Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow. "There," they say. "Is when the Hugos became more about the popular vote than literary one."
That particular argument to the side, every major award has that bent to it. It's the irony of such enterprises to showcase the best, but not necessarily the best of that particular year or even the best of us. It's like a warped mirror that gets close some times, but you should still be turning around to check your ass to see if it's really that wide.
My advice, if you're a voting member, is to not sit on your Laurels, or Hardys, this year and make an effort to check out each nominee. Don't vote as a fan or as a political activist. Just vote as a reader and don't worry about what someone will say about that vote. Because the pranksters will claim a win no matter what you do, they rigged ballot for that very purpose in mind.
If you vote true, the truth will bear out in the end.
There's been talk lately that World Con's gotten a bit small and bit grey in it's own sampling of fandom. Who knows, maybe this ruckus has a silver lining and the attention will get new blood in. Of course you know what means, the new blood always wants to make its mark and show the status quo how it's done.
I'm sure that'll be a whole new bit of drama if that happens. At least the rest of us can watch on the sidelines. Care for some popcorn?