The less said about capital-P Puppies (whether Sad, Rabid, or otherwise), the better.
If our beloved Hugo awards, once reliable standards of quality sf content, have been subverted by malcontents, then we have little choice — we must abandon them to the malcontents. When someone shits the sandbox, you do not cover up the shit with more sand and say, “well, maybe the shit won’t stink next year.” It will. I promise.
Which leaves us with precious few options. But I believe that we can harness the power of emerging technologies, of the Internet, and of collective action to reclaim the awards space and create something new, something better, something immune from being turned into a political tug-of-war.
I call them the reSPECt Awards, honoring speculative fiction in all its forms. While this idea is newly gestated, I think it the proper course of action. We will make our awards better, stronger… well, you get the picture.
To that end, here are my rough and rudimentary proposals:
Only works published between January 1 and December 31 of a given year in their principle country of origin may be considered. All works must be within the “speculative fiction” genre as determined by the Awards Committee. Reprints or reissues are not eligible, even if the new edition contains material not contained within the first edition. A Member may not nominate his or her own work or that of his or her domestic partner or spouse.
TO ENSURE THE INTEGRITY OF THE BALLOT
To become a member of the reSPECt Awards Nominating Polity, a person must purchase a Supporting Membership (tentatively set at $20.00 US). Doing so will allow said person to register their real name and an e-mail address, and assign them a unique identifying number.
All Members shall be entitled to submit, via write in, three candidates in every category through a form provided to them.
Any award candidate receiving a nomination from at least 10% of the Members will be entitled to be on the Short List Ballot.
All candidates on the Short List Ballot will then be examined by the Awards Committee. Any candidate whose presence on the Short List appears to be the result of vote manipulation or other subterfuge shall be struck from the Short List upon the agreement of 2/3s of the Committee members.
THE AWARDS COMMITTEE
In tri-annual elections, all Members shall have the right to nominate and vote upon committee members. To be eligible as a candidate, a person must possess at least one of the following qualifications:
- Be a professionally published content creator (writer, director, musician, game designer, etc.);
- Be a professional (i.e., paid a salary) member of the speculative fiction press;
- Be a college or university professor/lecturer in a media-related field;
- Be a researcher working on speculative fiction media; or
- Be a contributor to a fan-created work (blog, podcast, etc.) with at least three published articles/podcasts/videos/etc. within the year under consideration.
Elected committee members (of which there shall be 7) shall sit for three-year terms, and be removable only with the unanimous consent of all six other members. The duties of the committee are to oversee and administer the nomination and voting process.
- Achievement in Long Fiction Writing (e.g., novel)
- Achievement in Short Fiction Writing (e.g., short story)
- Achievement in Very Short Fiction Writing (e.g., flash)
- Achievement in Comics Writing
- Achievement in Comics Art
- Achievement in a Tabletop, Card, Board, or Pen and Paper Game
- Achievement in a Video Game
- Achievement in Film
- Achievement in Short Film
- Achievement in a Serial, Television Series, or Miniseries
- Achievement in Musical Composition
- Technical Achievement (e.g., makeup, special effects)
- Achievement in Digital Art (e.g., webcomics, online media)
- Achievement in Animation
- Achievement in a Fan-Created Work (blog, podcast, etc.)
- Achievement in a Derivative Work (authorized fan-fiction)
In a given year, the committee may also create, and seek nominations for, special awards, such as lifetime achievement awards or awards given for particular categories.
THE VOTING PROCESS
Once the candidates have been nominated, voted upon, and vetted by the Committee, the Committee shall submit the awards for a public vote from all members. Any given Member is to choose one, and only one, as their candidate of choice for each category. The candidate with the most votes shall be declared the winner in that category.
Any races deemed close by unanimous consent of the Committee shall be subject to an automatic recount.
A work is to be judged with the following criteria. Members are encouraged to use an honor system when submitting nominations as to whether the work fits these criteria. Via unanimous decision of the committee, a work found to manifestly lack merit in one or more of these areas may be removed from consideration.
- Quality of Work — each work must represent a high-quality effort by the content creator, reflecting a high degree of polish and a mastery of the given art or medium in which it appears.
- Originality — all works must display the creator’s unique voice, demonstrate clarity in their presentation of new ideas, and represent the spirit of speculative fiction.
- Genre Awareness — all works must be within the broad ambit of the “speculative fiction” genre. That is, they must contain some element of the fantastical, the futuristic, the horrific, the otherworldy, or the speculative.
I believe that with this very rough framework in mind, we can create a set of awards free of gamesmanship, of petty political ploys, and demonstrate to the world not only the quality and appreciation of speculative fiction as a genre, but its worth and its right to sit among the finest cultural products of our times, not relegated to obscurity and back rooms where it can toil away outside the light of common day.