[WorldCon] A brief look at the proposed new constitutional amendments 1

Shame on me for not looking at these earlier. But I will be prepared as we move forward.

From the agenda here.

D.1 What Our Marks Really Are: This is basically a maintenance thing for mark protection that allows faster response times by the MPC for what notices it includes in its publications. Considering right now there’s an inflexible two-year constitutional amendment process in place, seems like a smart move. (I don’t recall there ever being meeting controversy about mark protection for as long as I’ve attended. It’s an important but unexciting thing.)

D.2 The Reasonable Amendment: This is an amendment for Nominee Diversity, which is the amendment we ratified that says you can’t have more than two works in the same category that are from the same dramatic presentation series or written by the same author. All this amendment does is change “WorldCon Committee shall make best efforts to notify those…” to “WorldCon Committee shall make reasonable efforts to notify those…” which seems, well, reasonable to me.

D.3 Make Room! Make Room! This amends section 3.2.8; currently that section allows the Committee to relocate a story to a more appropriate Hugo Category if it’s within 5,000 words or 20% of the new category limits. The amendment would get rid of the 5,000 words, so the requirement will just be within 20% of the category limit. The reason for this is the marketing/perception of novels and novellas versus their actual word count, which most nominators are not going to know and means that novels are getting nominated as novellas on occasion and vice versa. This effectively changes the “wiggle room” between novella and novel to be 8,000 words instead of 5,000, which seems fine to me.

D.4 Name That Award: This is for the naming of the YA Award, assuming that it passes. Considering I’d like the YA Award to have some name (and for it to pass) I’m in favor. We’ll see what the offered names end up being. There’ll be runoff voting on them.

D.5 got postponed indefinitely so I’m not going to bother looking at it.

D.6 The Division of the Hugo Award Best Novel Category: Basically they want to split the Best Novel Hugo into Best Fantasy Novel and Best Science Fiction Novel, since there are a lot of other awards that have things split up by genre. I’m… not really in favor of this as such. First, it introduces a serious inconsistency into the awards, if you’re going to split novel up but not any of the other lengths. The unique aspect of the Hugos until now has been that all the spec fic gets to ride together, and the divisions are based almost entirely on length rather than segregation by subgenre. There is a definitional issue here as well; the discussion basically wants to use publishing-derived categorization, but that seems like something of a nightmare for administration purposes because nominating fans are likely to go by what they perceive its category to be, not necessarily what the publisher says. There’s plenty out there that straddles the line… depending on how you define it. This sounds like serious fan-wank waiting to happen. I’m also not really in favor of anything that’s going to make life easier on the “my genre is better than your genre” crowd, but YMMV.

On the other hand, I’m generally in favor of anything that means there will be more rockets, because I don’t think a few more awards is going to dilute the impact of winning a Hugo. But god save me from anyone who would use the dual existence of the novel category to try to kill novelette YET AGAIN under the banner of “there are too many Hugos.” Or more accurately, god save them from me.

D.7 Reorganization of the Best Related Work Category: So this is basically another “This is how the Locus Award does it” case, which wants to split “Best Related Work” into “Best Non-Fiction Book” and “Best Art Book.” I think there’s an issue here to begin with by calling out the categories as “Books.” While the written definitions are a little looser, particularly for Non-Fiction, it gives the impression that only books are welcome in the categories. But consider this year we had a series of blog posts from Tor.com nominated, and previously entire seasons of Writing Excuses. I wouldn’t be surprised in the future if we get some trans-media stuff, more things like post series, who knows what else. I’d rather not see those fringe-y, related works that really don’t fit neatly in the other categories get left out because we’ve felt the need to more rigidly define them. I consider the nebulous nature of “Related Work” to be a feature, not a bug in this sense. Also questioning seriously if “Best Art Book” is really going to have enough nominations in it yearly to make it a viable and vibrant category.

D.8 Best Dramatic Presentation Reorganization: basically wants to rearrange the two current dramatic presentation categories so we’ll have Dramatic Presentation Long Form, Dramatic Presentation Episodic Form, Dramatic Presentation Short Form, and Dramatic Presentation Series. (So yes, we’d be having four categories instead of the current two.) I actually kind of like the idea of splitting up Episodic Form and Short Form, in the sense that episodes have really drowned out anything else short and speculative from the category for quite some time. This could make room for some really interesting stuff… or it could just create a category that’s not going to get a lot of traffic. Only time would tell on that one. But I’m really questioning Best Episodic Form versus Best Series… which is basically cutting between stand-alone episodes of anthology series versus long-arc series. Are there enough anthology shows versus long-arc shows to fill out two categories? Don’t know, don’t watch that much television. I don’t object to this as much as some of the other proposed reorganizations of categories, though again I’m wondering how this’ll sit with the “we give too many Hugos out” crowd.

One comment on “[WorldCon] A brief look at the proposed new constitutional amendments

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