The Canadian science fiction and fantasy awards (The Auroras) ballot was announced yesterday and I’m pleased to say that I was nominated in the ‘Best Related Work’ category for editing Strange Bedfellows — an anthology of political science fiction. I’m particularly proud of this work which was crowd-funded and attracted some top science fiction writers from around the world.
What really impressed me about the ballot was its overall quality. If you look at the novel category, you find some of the top names, not just in Canadian SF&F but the top names in the field, including a couple of former Nebula and Hugo nominated and winning writers. The category of YA novel is equally impressive. Both lists feature award winning and best selling novelists (not to mention award-winning, bestselling novelists).
One friend said, ruefully — it’s as good as this year’s Hugo ballot. And he’s not wrong. The Aurora ballot is not always as amazing as it is this year but generally, especially in the novel categories, it represents the best of the year published by Canadian writers. It’s not always perfect and some writers have been neglected — though usually because people aren’t aware that those writers (published mostly in the USA) are even Canadians.
Unlike the Hugos over the past two years, there were no slates involved — though that wasn’t always the case. Some years ago there were examples of block voting that, one year, saw every nominee — including the nominees for the French version of the awards (now dealt with separately from the English awards) coming from the City of Toronto. Now Toronto is a nice place but it’s hardly the only place where good SFF is made. It actually turned out to be good for the awards as it lead to greater participation by other parts of the country in the process. A few simple rule changes (you’ll have to ask the admins what they were) and that problem seems to have gone away. In any case the slate was geographically based rather than political — ‘we’ll vote for all the people we know’ seems to have been the primary motive. Maybe the Hugo Awards folks can learn something from their example.
And of course there is often some gentle campaigning — along the lines of: here are the things I have eligible and, perhaps, here’s a sample of my work if you would be so kind… In fact, those who cross the line and get a little aggressive are mildly rebuked (and often don’t get on the ballot anyway).
To the best of my knowledge, there has never been a situation where people felt they had to vote No Award as a first choice. By the way, we’d like to keep it that way — which will probably be the case, since only Canadians are eligible to nominate and vote. Canadians can be plenty passionate about our politics and our science fiction — but we’re just too damn polite to ever become Rabid Puppies.
And that’s ten minutes.