@MaryRobinette W/o time to participate but w/ close exposure: I feel recent talk shows many SFF fans don't know it's "easy" to participate.
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A week or so ago, I tweeted the following:
I would love to see all Science Fiction/Fantasy (SFF) fans know its relatively easy to participate. Read on for an introduction.
Disclosures: This blog entry has no direct bearing on the current Hugo Awards controversy. I'm not qualified nor have done enough research to provide an educated opinion or record on the matter.
What facts I've used in this entry come from what I've found online from official-looking Websites of Worldcon, the Hugo Awards and Worldcon: Sasquan. I did not fact check beyond this points of access intentionally since these sites are official and, for purposes of this entry, demonstrate the importance for ease of entry.
UPDATE: Uncanny Magazine has a published a summary history of the Hugos with Mike Glyer's "It's the Big One". If you want some history, go there.
I currently do not nor have I ever had any membership or affiliation with Worldcon or the Hugo Awards. Frankly, I can't dedicate the time that I would want to feel that I would meet the level of "citizenship" for full value from participating.
I'm setting the bar pretty low for dedication to this "citizenship": Regularly reading science fiction/fantasy and nominating/voting on who gets to receive a Hugo.
Over the last three or so years, I haven't read much. I recall reading the first two books of Graham Storr's Timesplash series probably back in December.
Before that I read John Scalzi's Redshirts and the Terry Pratchett/Neil Gaiman team up novel, Good Omens, a couple years ago while on a Carribean vacation. I haven't been the best SFF consumer since getting what could be called an adult career.
The neat thing, though, as I understand it: By no special virtue other than ponying up a financial consideration (presently $40 to become a supporting member), anyone can become a supporting member of Worldcon for a period of time. The most apparent benefits of a supporting membership include, but not all inconclusively: Helping deciding who gets awarded the Hugos.
I didn't fully understand the ease with which someone could nominate and vote. Even Michi and other friends talking about this ease over the years didn't penetrate my thick idea/brain barrier. It took reading up on the latest kerfuffle to grok it.
The Hugo Awards have an ubiquitous presence in area of SFF, too. Publishers, studios, receivers won't hesitate to put this status on their products. SFF essays in periodicals will name drop the Hugo when discussing cultural relevance and nominees/winners. I'm sure literary non-fans have heard of the Hugo. The Hugo has a presence in the cultural consciousness.
Such presence doesn't translate into communicating how to participate. Instead it creates a certain mystical, esoteric air that only the Select know how to participate. Not a unique situation, since many awards and organizations fall into such a state. The non-participants just watch, taking it for faith that if they should have anything to do with something, they would know about it.
This phenomenon has become pretty common in all human societies and groups. What makes the phenomenon so tragic most of the time: it usually happens subconsciously on the part of humans without meaning to. It often comes out of the best intentions.
The phenomenon had become such a sticking point in the '70s Feminist Movement, Jo Freeman wrote "The Tyranny of Structurelessness".
Go ahead, click on the link and read the essay/speech. It's not too long and has use for understanding human nature. Even if you don't sympathize with feminism, it still provides useful insight into human and social nature.
Frankly, it saddens me to see this phenomenon with Worldcon/The Hugo Awards. I feel frustrated that I feel compelled to amplify the low base of entry into the ranks of "official" SFF fandom, which includes professional authors and other media presences of all levels, and participate in deciding who gets a Hugo. Professional status and relationship to the media shouldn't become basis of fandom.
I want it to become common knowledge. I could almost feel happy if it reached a level of peer pressure to become a supporting member. I'm all for independence of thought, liberty and freedom. Nonetheless, I would love to see the knowledge of how to join Worldcon become so common that people ask non-member SFF fans "Why aren't you member? You're a fan, right?"
For reasons already listed, I don't plan on becoming a member in any capacity. I can still help spread the word that participating can be pretty darned easy. All it takes is $40 and a bunch of time. Let those with the capacity of citizenship do it.
So, SFF fans with the time and energy to dedicate, become at least a supporting member of Worldcon, so you can can participate in nominating and awarding The Hugo Awards. As of the time this entry has been written, you can do so at https://sasquan.swoc.us/sasquan/reg.php.
After the current Worldcon, you'll likely have to search around the Internet for the next Worldcon then find their registration page.
OK, maybe it's not the easiest thing in the world. It takes some investigatory research skills to find the right knowledge and Webpage. That definitely plays a part in how the Tyranny of Structurelessness works against the ease of entry.
We live in the Age of the Internet, people. Investigatory research skills are everyday now (stop depending on just Wikipedia!).
Hopefully my amplifying this information can help fans join up. I encourage others to do the same: amplify the ease of contributing to nominating and awarding the Hugo. Start today and keep doing it.
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LINKS OF NOTE:
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@MaryRobinette W/o time to participate but w/ close exposure: I feel recent talk shows many SFF fans don't know it's "easy" to participate.— Jesse Lex (@screwjaw) April 11, 2015