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In Which I Declare Myself Champion of the World

August 11, 2009

So my Hugo predictions turned out 2 for 3 but my preferences were only 1 for 4 (I could add that I voted for WALL-E for long-form drama). So I guess all the other voters are clueless.

Or possibly not.

In the past few weeks it seemed like there was a fair amount of chatter about the nominees for best novel. Some said they weren’t worthy. Others said it’s a fan vote, and who’s more worthy to choose than the ones buying the books? And so on. Maybe that happens every year and I haven’t been paying attention until now, but it did seem to find its way onto some prominent blogs.

To me, the discussion went overboard in trying to put a value on the awards. If the five finalists don’t represent the absolute pinnacle of writing for the year, well, it’s not that big of a deal. Really, there’s no such thing. Statistically speaking, whenever there’s a field of 4 or more candidates, even the winner is only going to get a plurality of the vote. The majority of people will have voted for something other than the winner (The Graveyard Book got just over 25% of the first place votes).

This is not to diminish the winners. Being the last one standing from a long list of nominees would be pretty cool. I wouldn’t turn it down. I’m sure it helps sell more books, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But it doesn’t automatically confer historical significance. No award does. This isn’t the Olympics where the gold medal winner is indisputably the best in the world. Sometimes that’s not even true at the Olympics. And at least subconsciously, people are aware of this. So when my favorite book doesn’t win an award, I don’t suddenly decide that my favorite was junk, and the award winner is brilliant. I can accept that the other book met the criteria for that award and still be a fan of the books I like.

Do Hugo-winning books stand the test of time? Only time will tell. And time will also tend to find those books and authors that were worthy, but didn’t happen to win. I don’t want to pick on any books, but looking at Oscar history, would Kramer vs. Kramer still win over Apocalypse Now? Shakespeare in Love over Saving Private Ryan? Annie Hall over Star Wars? What a travesty!

So based on that, I’ve consulted a blue-ribbon panel of experts, surveyed all eligible voters, and determined that the Champion of the World award goes to…me! I want to thank all the little people that paved the way for this great achievement, and if you don’t like it, you can invent your own damn award.

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