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Jason Sanford
Science fiction author
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Gary: I never said I was worried about having no nominees. I said I was worried about the perception that, when we only have 3 nominees, that those 3 were the only stories worth nominating. I'm aware that there will always have 3. And as I stated before, we could use another determination than 5% to keep the shortlist from being too long. For example, there rules state there will always be 3 nominees. Why not 5? There's a lot of arbitrary aspects to this rule, and arbitrary things are rarely the most fair of things. If you don't see a problem with having only 3 nominees, then why not limit the final ballot to the story which receives the most votes? Then we wouldn't have to mess with all that nasty voting because we'd already have a winner. Seems to me that's the logical outcome of your line of reasoning. (Said with a smiley face--I know you're not really suggesting this. :-) The nominating process is supposed to create a list of strong stories for people to vote on. As someone told me, a larger shortlist allows more deserving stories to be considered by the voters. The larger the shortlist the more merit-driven the final voting will be. As we both know, very few Hugo Award preliminary voters read all of the short stories published each year. But a larger number do try to read all of the short-listed stories before voting. The 5% rule may have worked back in the old days, but in today's new world of fragmented publishing it is limiting what Hugo voters can consider.
Toggle Commented Apr 18, 2013 on End the Hugo Award 5 percent rule at Jason Sanford
Gary: Apologies. I saw your comment but before I could respond I got slammed with work and then, curse my bad memory, forgot to post my thoughts. My theory on restrictive rules like this is they must 1) Serve a useful purpose and 2) Not do any significant harm. In my opinion the rule now fails on both accounts. I've yet to hear a valid purpose for the rule, even though I've been asking people for the reason why it was first created. No one can officially say why the rule was created (although there is plenty of speculation, as stated above in the comment thread). As for the damage caused by the rule, twice in recent years it has constricted the number of finalists in this Hugo category. From a public relations point of view, this is like saying there weren't enough stories worthy of making the ballot in those years. The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction had a similar problem last year, when no award was given in that category. This was due to quirks in their rules and among the judges/board, but the end result was that not picking a winner implied that no novel published that year was worthy of winning. That is not what the Pulitzer board intended to say, but say it they did. I don't want the Hugo to begin having this same problem. I also worry that in the coming years, as you have an ever increasing number of stories striving for nominations from an increasing pool of anthologies/magazines/ebooks/emags and so on, we will find it harder than ever for any one story to meet the 5% mark. Back when you only had four pro SF/F magazines, it was easier for a significant number of stories to reach the 5% mark. Now, when there are nearly 30 pro markets for SF/F short fiction, it is very difficult for enough Hugo voters to read any particular story and raise it over the 5% mark.
Toggle Commented Apr 18, 2013 on End the Hugo Award 5 percent rule at Jason Sanford
I'm sure a new rule could be devised which would keep us from having 25 nominees. And if it's true the rule was created b/c the people who ran the Hugo Awards back then felt a story that couldn't receive 5% of the members voting didn't deserve to be on the ballot, then it definitely needs to be changed. That reasoning for the 5% rule reflects an old view of publishing which is not relevant to today's genre and world.
Toggle Commented Apr 3, 2013 on End the Hugo Award 5 percent rule at Jason Sanford
I thought I was pretty clear that Romney was merely stating that this was his favorite novel, not the best novel ever. And while Battlefield Earth is far better than Hubbard's 1.2 million word 10-novel series Mission Earth or anything Newt ever wrote, I can't agree that it's anywhere near being good.
Thanks for the extremely insightful look at what the Peace Corps decision to pull out of these countries--or to no longer send new Volunteers--means. As you said, it's not the Peace Corps or the Volunteers who will be harmed by this. It's the people the PCVs helped.
You are absolutely correct--Kaye no doubt loves Weird Tales. I'm sure he'll do everything in his power to make the magazine succeed. But just as in life, where love for someone doesn't always mean that you know what's best for that person, so it is with magazines.
Toggle Commented Aug 23, 2011 on Weird Tales and Editorial Vision at Jason Sanford
Robert: It's all good. No worries.
When deserving novels and stories are nominated and/or win the major awards, I always go out of my way to praise them. For example, see my comments about this year's Nebula finalists at To me, the truly dick thing to do would be to only kiss ass with my criticism and say every story that wins every award is a masterpiece of fiction.
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Mar 15, 2010