This was the first Worldcon I attended. For those who have no idea what Worldcon is, it’s a science fiction and fantasy convention that roughly 50% professional conference for writers, artists, and creators, and 50% fan celebration of speculative fiction and geek culture.
One key part of Worldcon is the Hugo awards, which are fan-selected awards for novels, short stories, dramatic presentations, magazines, podcasts, and numerous fan roles. They have long been speculative fiction’s highest honor.
Since I’d never been to Worldcon before, I knew very little of the history behind the awards, or really grokked the significance of them. They were mostly a tool that I used as a reader to help me find good books to read.
Actually being in attendance at the awards was a really amazing, emotional experience. As I’ve gotten to meet people in the spec fiction community over the last two years, I knew many of those who received awards. It was just amazing to see these people get recognized for their contributions. Not only is the award itself an aspiration dream for most of those in the community, it’s obviously very validating for their creative contributions.
There was a huge amount of controversy surrounding the Hugos this year that stemmed from a small percentage of Hugo voters who wanted to push conservative values and conspired to manipulate the nomination process in some categories. Fortunately, the voting process includes an option to choose “no award”, and the voters overwhelming selected no award for those categories where the nomination had been compromised. This was satisfying, but the manipulation still hurt many folks: authors whose eligible work didn’t make the final cut because it was pushed out by the rigged nominations, authors who withdrew to protest the manipulations, and the community at large, who had to suffer with months of stress and conflict because of the actions of a few.
George RR Martin threw a party after the Hugo Awards, and gave out awards of his own creation to those people he thought had been unfairly treated by the whole fiasco. One friend said that meant even more to her than winning the Hugo would have.
All in all, it was an amazing and beautiful experience, including learning about history of Worldcon and the passion and love of the community that surrounds it, seeing the recognition of people and their contributions, and getting to watch friends achieve their dreams. I’m grateful to have gotten this close up viewpoint.