The Hugo Awards

There's an interesting conversation on age and SF fandom going on over at Tor.com. The focal point of this conversation is the observation by Nicholas Whyte that Elizabeth Bear is only the second writer born in the 1970s to have won a Hugo.

This has, in turn, caused me to reflect a little on the funny cross-media space I work in. I'm certainly not eligible for a Hugo; I've not written and published a novel, novella, or short story. (This is not to say that I think I deserve one, mind you. I'm pretty sure I don't!) For the same reason, I'm not eligible to join the SFWA. But I think you'd be very hard-pressed to say that I'm not a science fiction writer, nor that my work isn't science fiction.

Some of you may remember that Perplex City was short-listed for a BAFTA -- and yes, the F and T stand for 'film' and 'television,' which is a bemusing development. I wrote a quarter of a million words for Perplex City, words that took the form of pixels lit up on a screen, but they told a story. Those words created an alternate sci-fi world, and yet this work was eligible for a film award, and not a science fiction award.

So what does it mean? Well, I think it means that a lot of the infrastructure of SF fandom is going to have to change, and they'll have to be hard, fast changes, or somebody else is going to come and eat their lunch while the teachers aren't looking. SXSW, I'm looking at you. Some are talking about instituting Hugos for categories like podcasts or video games, but frankly that doesn't go far enough. I want awards for innovation in cross-media storytelling, awards for best collaborative work of fiction, awards for best novel use of an emerging technology to tell a story.

This doesn't spell the end of SF/F as a genre, though. I think it means that traditional SF and its loyal fandom have moved into an era where many of the ideas, dreams and nightmares alike, of SF/F have come true. A lot of the phenomenal, innovative work has moved to SF places, webzines and video games and podcasts. Literature and community alike live in the internet. And SF/F is everywhere, now. Movies like The Dark Knight are hardly even recognized as genre film because they're so dazzlingly successful.

It's funny, isn't it? You wouldn't think the SF/F community would be resistant to the future. They were the ones expecting it all along.


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