Episode 132: On context, books, and awards

Back to the Waldorf Room where, in troubled times, the Coode Street podcast team meet to discuss publishing artifacts as framing devices, Bruce Sterling’s new book, awards eligibility and possibly other stuff. We even shamelessly mention that this podcast is eligible for Hugo Award nomination (you have been warned). As always, we hope you enjoy the digression. Order Bruce Sterling's new novel!

8 thoughts on “Episode 132: On context, books, and awards”

  1. Hello Gary & Jonathan, you have cast the Summon Cheryl spell, so here I am.

    With regard to the eligibility of Empty Space and Blue Remembered Earth, you are correct in thinking that an eligibility extension is generally applied for works first published outside of the US on first US publication. However, this is renewable annually at the WSFS Business Meeting. For it to apply in 2014, it will have to be approved at the meeting in San Antonio.

    Having said that, Gary is quite right that this splits the vote. Experience suggests that British fans will vote for books in the year that seems natural to them, and then ignore them the following year. I’m pretty sure that The Quantum Thief, which missed the ballot by just 1 vote last year, would have made it if more of the 48 people who nominated it in 2011 had done so again in 2012. I’m hoping that lots of US voters will have read Empty Space already, and I note that it is available on NetGalley.

    As to semiprozines, the main expert on this is Neil Clarke, but I think your question can be answered by reference to the description of “professional work” in the page on category descriptions from the Hugo Awards website: http://www.thehugoawards.org/hugo-categories/.

  2. The definition of what is a “professional publication” is listed within the Best Professional Artist Hugo, and that definition applies to every reference to “professional publication” on the ballot. I had to have this pointed out to me by one of this year’s Hugo Administration Subcommittee before I noticed it myself.

  3. Regarding eligibility extensions, note that there are two types.

    1. Blanket extensions, which apply to anything published outside the USA (and by the way, Canada is not part of the USA, so Canadian publication gets extended just like UK or Australian — I’ve had people ask me about this). If passed by the Business Meeting, everything published outside the USA gets an additional year of eligibility when published in the USA.

    2. Specific works extensions. In the case, the Business Meeting has to pass an extension applying to that specific work, on the grounds of limited distribution. For example, if a book was published in the USA on December 31, someone could make a case that it had too little 2012 distribution and if the Business Meeting agreed, that work would get an additional year of eligibility. This requires someone to bring the specific exemption up before the Business Meeting.

    To my recollection, no specific work given a special one-year limited-distribution extension has ever made the ballot.

  4. Hi Kevin: Thank you for the clarification. I would suggest politely to the administrators that that distinction may be unclear to nominators using the paper ballot provided. I imagine it could be a problem when nominations come in. Best, Jonathan

  5. One of the administrators, speaking personally and not officially, pointed out that “professional” is defined on the ballot in Best Professional Artist, and the intention was that this definition be considered to apply to any category that references “professional.” Doing otherwise requires repeating a general rule in every category. This is a new issue and I think it possible that future Administrators will have to work a little more carefully to try and warn people about the general rules that aren’t part of any specific category’s definition. (There are actually quite a few of these general rules: they’re listed in section 3.2 of the WSFS Constitution and include things like the work-relocation rule, the serial publication rule, and so forth.) This is why committees are required to distribute a copy of Article III of the WSFS Constitution with the ballot, which LSC3 has done because both are in the same PR and both are available from their web site; however, it’s likely that a lot of people won’t make the connection.

    During your podcast, I assume you went to the link from TheHugoAwards.org that led you to a badly out-of-date version of the Constitution. When it was pointed out to me how badly outdated that link was, I pointed the link from TheHugoAwards.org to the 2012-13 version hosted on the current Worldcon’s web site.

  6. Great conversation about the physicality of books and how it affects, or doesn’t, one’s reading experience. And I agree with what you said Jonathan that there will be companies like Subterranean that continues to make beautiful books for those who want to spend the money to own them. However, you overlook the fact that to many readers the cheaper (by comparison) paperback book can also be very beautiful. Let me use Edge of Infinity as a book that I very much enjoyed reading. There is something very special about holding a paperback book when reading short stories. All those tangible qualities you both discussed are present with the cheap MMPB as it is with the expensive collectible book. And those are the things I am afraid will go away as ebooks continue to dominate sales. I don’t want books as physical objects to go away in all their current iterations.

    Love the mention of Richard Powers. Big fan of his work.

    Had never considered how authors’ work might have looked in the pulps from a respectability perspective but that is fascinating to think about and makes me think differently about the classic works that I like that started out in the pulp format.

    I’m confused (not surprising)…I have a hard cover copy of Blue Remembered Earth that I bought mid-year last year off the shelf in my local Kansas City area Barnes and Noble so I don’t understand the discussion of it not being released here until recently.

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