US President Obama has been open about his interest in science fiction. He had the new Star Wars film screened at the White House before heading off to Hawaii for his Christmas holiday. He is also a very keen reader, and we were delighted to hear that one of the books he took with him for holiday reading was last year’s Hugo Award winner for Best Novel, The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu translator and published by Tor Books.
We hope you enjoyed the book, Mr. President. And do let us know if you have any recommendations for this year’s Hugos.
We are delighted to see that a post about the 2012 Hugo Awards proved to be the most popular “literary mix tape” on the GalleyCat blog this year. GalleyCat is a major publishing industry blog, and we beat out many other prominent awards to get to the #1 spot. We are very grateful to GalleyCat for their support for the Hugo Awards, and are pleased to see them pointing their readers in the direction of some very fine writing and art.
Over at Tor.com, René Walling has posted an in-depth analysis of the ages of Hugo Award nominees and winners over time. The summary: despite a common perception that the average nominees and winners have been getting older, the numbers seem to say that nominees and winners are about the same age when they win today as they were fifty years ago.
Comic creator Phil Foglio will shortly be issuing a compendium edition of volumes #1-#3 of Girl Genius (volume #8 of which won the first ever Best Graphic Novel Hugo Award last year). It is part of a new graphic novel line from specialist SF&F publisher, Tor. Interviewed at Robot 6, Foglio was asked whether winning a Hugo Award helped him get that deal (and various others also mentioned in the article). Here’s what he said:
It did. Being able to slap “Hugo award wining” [sic] on something before you even publish it, that will rate an automatic “well I have to try this” in the science fiction community. A lot of people in the active science fiction community already read our stuff—there’s what we call science fiction fans and science fiction readers, and for every fan there are a hundred readers who never show up at a convention or publicly identify themselves because of the shame, but they are still aware of what the awards mean.
We certainly picked up more readers, we got more people interested in the book who had never heard of it before, but just being nominated did that. Howard Tayler, who does Schlock Mercenary [which was also nominated for a Hugo] got a lot of positive blowback on that as well. He’s up again this year.
Thanks Phil, we are delighted to know that your Hugo is so helpful.
Our thanks to Tom Galloway for pointing us at this interview.
The instant runoff voting system that the Hugo Awards use for their final ballot (often known as an Australian Ballot) has come in for a fair amount of criticism in its time. People complain that it is too complicated and they can’t understand it. However, we have stuck with it, because we believe that it produces better results. A certain other well known set of awards has always used a first past the post (plurality) system, but it was announced recently that from now, at least for Best Picture, on the Oscars will use an instant runoff system very similar to the one we use. Apparently the folks in charge of the Oscars think the change will produce better results (better here meaning fewer people yelling, “how come that won?”).
Tied in with this decision is the move to expand the nominee list for Best Picture to 10 films. Once you know that, the instant runoff system decision becomes obvious. With first past the post voting it is possible to win with a (1/N) + 1 share of the vote, where N is the number of nominees. With 5 nominees it was theoretically possible to win Best Picture with 21% of the vote; with 10 nominees you could win with 11%, so the chances of an upset win are much greater. The instant runoff system, however, will always produce a compromise winner that is least disliked by all voters.
There is just one problem for the Oscars. The members of the Motion Picture Academy are complaining that the new voting system is too complicated and they can’t understand it. Perhaps we could get some experienced Hugo voters to help them cast their votes.
Twitter has been buzzing with talk about the Hugo Awards today. No, don’t worry, you haven’t missed the announcement of nominees, we don’t count that quickly. It is because Jonathan Ross tweeted this:
Why is it I love sci-fi but my wife is the one who wins a HUGO Award !!!!
Mr. Ross is well known for his love of science fiction and comics, and one enterprising twitterer managed to find this photograph. However, that isn’t Mr. Ross’s Hugo, nor does it belong to his wife.
You can find Mrs. Ross, better known as Jane Goldman, in our list of winners from 2008. She was one of the screenwriters for the movie adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. Her Hugo looks like this:
Update: Luke Addiss tells us that he made that photo of Ross with the 2007 Hugo using Photoshop. Very clever of him, and very quick too.