Disclaimer: this is a deeply personal post for me, and it may be my last at Project Mayhem for some time, as I take a hiatus to reevaluate what my goals for and role in publishing will be for the foreseeable future. Heavy news, for my five fans, I know, but I am nothing if not honest.
From the jump, let's make a few things clear: I LOVE books. I love STORY, and I enjoy it in many formats, be they books, video games, roleplaying games, film, television, or whatever, but I ESPECIALLY LOVE BOOKS. I have ever since my father, may he rest in peace, read The Lord of Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien aloud to me and my sisters when we were but knee high to a hobbit.
Books convey story to reader in a way that no other medium for storytelling can. A novel, at its best, is essentially, at least to my mind, the absolute cosmic joining of two disparate consciousnesses into a singular experience. Not every writer can write every book, and every reader experiences each book in a way that is absolutely unique to their lives and scope of memory.
This is the beauty of the printed word, especially when applied to fiction in the form commonly known as a novel, but certainly eqaully importantly when it comes to short stories, novellas, vignettes, flash fiction, and ... what's that other category? There's something between a novella and a novel, right? Or between a short shorty and a novella?
I ask because I don't remember, but also because form and function and how they are awarded is rather heavily covered in the news at the moment.
In case you live under a rock, the Hugo Awards, SF/F's most historic and prestigious award (compare to the Printz, the Newberry, and the Caldecott when it comes to Kidlit) have recently been under siege. What happens next is critically important, not only to publishing, but especially to the fandom that awaits its whims.
Why am I writing about this on a MG blog?
That's a great question. Kidlit has historically been ... excluded from the Hugo awards, which I don't necessarily take huge exception to, personally, because those awards and WorldCon have a particular history which in general is not exclusionary, but I still do wonder what all of this means ... for all of us ... fans and authors, and aspiring writers ... and I have to say I have personally experienced the awkward and embarrassing feeling of being treated like an outsider at WorldCon, and I don't know if it was intentional, and I tend to think it wasn't, but at the same time, who knows?
At the risk of getting too deep into the vernacular, I don't personally care for the puppy's tactics, be they Sad or Rabid, but I do at times find myself wondering whether fandom, or the Hugos, or WorldCon, are as accepting as I would like them to be.
We have certainly seen SF/F become more accepting of women and people of color and LGBTQIA stories of late, and that is a good thing if you ask me, but I do wonder whether it will ever be a little more inclusive when it comes to Children's Literature. Paolo Bacigalupi, for example, won a Hugo for his adult novel The Windup Girl in 2010, but he also writes award winning fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade readers, none of which has a category to even be considered on the Hugo ballots.
Do we need to change that? I don't know. I'm new enough to serious SF/F fandom and WorldCon that I don't know that it's my place to say, but I will say this: after the puppy slates this year, both Sad and Rabid, more fans voted on the Hugo awards than ever have before, and that, I think, is good for all of us.
. . .
If you'd like to learn more about what happened at the Hugos, here are some articles, but note that this whole situation is highly political, and I am providing these links to allow access to both sides of the argument, not necessarily because I agree with everything they say.
The 2015 Awards
The Mary Sue reacts
Breitbart has a differing perspective
NPR is generally neutral, as usual
And io9.com makes an interesting point