Who should we be worried about impressing?

No, this isn’t a Hugo post, not really. Although I will admit that the Hugos, and every other award, played a hand in its creation. Frankly, I first started thinking about it 10 days or so ago when I saw a story about a pro football player who had taken away his children’s participation trophies. I was one of those parents who didn’t go ballistic over what he did because I understood his reasoning. He wanted to make sure his kids understood that it wasn’t enough to just participate. That was important but the truly important thing was putting in the work, trying your best and making the sacrifices necessary. It wasn’t all about winning but about doing your best and understanding that you aren’t always going to win.

So I can see folks already starting to think, “yeah, yeah, another sour grapes Hugo post.” Sorry, but no. I never expected to win the award. I was honored to be nominated. I thank everyone who voted for me. But winning the Hugo wasn’t on my list of things I want to do before I die. Why? Because winning the award has little to do with proving to me and to my peers that I am a success. At least it shouldn’t have much to do with it and certainly not in its current iteration.

This was driving home yesterday when I saw a comment from someone on Facebook. I don’t know what side of the Hugo controversy the commenter falls on. It frankly doesn’t matter. Why? Because he really hits the nail on the head when it comes to who we, as writers, should be worried about.

This gentleman asked a very simple question. I’m going to paraphrase. He wanted to know why all the comments about what the Hugos are and who should be voting for them were addressed to writers and a small clique of aging con goers. What about those people who aren’t writers or who have been going to WorldCon for years? Don’t they matter?

The simple answer, at least to me, is that they matter more than the writers who have been so busy drawing lines in the sand (and, yes, I have been one of those) or the Fans (big “f” as opposed to little “f”) who have been telling everyone else that they don’t belong to Fandom and have no right to voice their choices for the Hugos because they haven’t paid their figurative dues or whatever. The little “f” fans are the ones who still go to the bookstores or who frequent Amazon to buy our books. They are the ones who go to the movies and watch the TV shows. They are the ones we have to keep engaged in the genre or, frankly, the genre will die.

These are also the fans who will sometime tilt their heads to one side and wonder what the carp ‘SpecFic” is. After all, isn’t all fiction speculative? Doesn’t writing fiction mean and author is speculating about how a character or characters will react in a given situation? Call science fiction that — science fiction. They aren’t scared by it, especially not with all the sub-genres that have come out. Don’t insult them by thinking the word “science” will send them running off to the hills. It won’t.

These are the fans who want to be entertained. They don’t care if there is a message in the story — as long as the story entertains and keeps their interest. They don’t keep a scorecard to make sure there is a certain number of whatever type of character. Frankly, you could hit every “required” character set in your work but if you don’t grab the reader’s attention and keep it, they won’t keep reading and they sure as hell won’t buy your next work.

These fans with a little “f” are the backbone of our genre. For the most part they don’t know about the Hugo or, if they do, they avoid like the plague any book or story that has Hugo Winner stamped on the front. Why? Because they don’t like those stories. Does that mean every one of these fans hates those stories? Not at all. but when you look at the declining sales numbers over the years of traditionally published science fiction novels, when you look at how few science fiction magazines still exist, you have to realize there is something wrong. Once you realize that, you have to ask yourself what and when you see the numbers fail to pick up, you have to wonder if traditional publishing is doing something wrong.

The best thing that has happened to the genre has been the rise of indie publishing. That allowed authors like Christopher Nuttall and Mackey Chandler — and even myself — to write the sort of stories we enjoy and to put them out for the reading public to judge. And the readers have judged that they like what many of us are doing. Chris Nuttall makes more than a good living off his writing now. While I don’t know how much Mackey makes — and I don’t want to know — looking at his rankings and seeing so many folks talking about his books on social media and demanding to know when his next one comes out, my guess is that he does as well. I do know what I make and it is far more than I would get for an advance as a “new” author from most publishing houses. So we, and so many others, must be doing something right.

We’ve been told, as recently as Monday, by those who think awards are more important than readers (or at least that seems to be their stance) that we should write better stories. Well, my award is seeing my royalty statement at the end of each month. It is getting the fan letters from those who have read my books. It is waking in the morning to find a PM on Facebook from someone who just discovered my science fiction or fantasy and wanted to let me know how much they liked my work. So you tell me. Who or what should I be more worried about? The readers who pay out their hard earned money to buy my work and who tell their friends and family about it if they liked it or an award that does nothing really to help advance my career or help pay my bills.

To me, the only ones I need to be impressing are the readers. As I said earlier, it is clear from looking at the different genre and sub-genre lists on Amazon and elsewhere that there are more readers out there who want entertaining books than there are those who want books that put message first and story comes somewhere below that. No, I’m not saying there shouldn’t be a message in fiction. Let me repeat that for those who tend to skim until insulted: It is fine to have a message in your fiction as long as you remember that your message won’t be heard if you don’t write a story that entertains and holds the readers’ interest.

So quit whinging and whining over the decline of the field. Quit whinging and whining over the decline of literary numbers. Instead, ask yourself why? Do a bit of market analysis and realize that readers — just like folks who go to the movies — want to be entertained. That is what I strive to do. That is what so many other authors strive to do. So, to all the fans, thank you for your support. To the Fans and authors who want to keep their little cliques, go ahead. Keep doing what you’re doing. I’m not going to try to convince you to do otherwise. For me, I’m going to do my best to remember that it is the fans who really count.


72 thoughts on “Who should we be worried about impressing?

  1. Good point. The best awards come with engravings of founding fathers or of more recent extra-spiffy presidents.

  2. Exactly. And I went down the SP slate last night and bought a couple books from the authors on that list. I figured those people had to be more entertaining. I’ll buy more when the funds come in – if the books are as good as I think they might be.

    For years, I’ve used ‘Award Winner’ as a measure of what books not to buy.

    1. Well, the results were somewhat useful to me (I think). I’ll be taking a serious look at the DAW imprint again, after dropping it many years ago (two words there – “John Norman”).

  3. “These are the fans who want to be entertained. They don’t care if there is a message in the story — as long as the story entertains and keeps their interest.”

    THIS. For years, my approach to entertainment of all types has been very simple: entertain me. When I’m finished with the book/music/tv show/movie, if I feel that my time/$$$ was well spent, then you’ve done your job. If I feel cheated somehow, then I’ll think hard before trying something by that entertainer again; if you’ve done well, then I’ll keep an eye out for your next product and (more than likely) spent more of my time/$$$.

    1. Exactly. I love the occasional book or movie that makes me think but reading has always been my escape and I know many others feel the same way. If you don’t take me on a flight of fancy, I won’t bother with your work. Easy as that.

  4. Just one detail quarrel: I think “speculative fiction” is still useful as an umbrella category for science fiction, fantasy, and alternate history. Or would you have a better umbrella term?

    1. I really don’t have a better term, but…

      I’ve seen “speculative fiction” defined as the “what if?” genre. Waaay too broad. That covers everything from “What if a faster than light drive is discovered next year?” to “What if a proper Victorian maiden is forced into the company of a raffish dockwalloper?”

      Science fiction and fantasy are not the same thing at all. It is a historical accident that we are lumped together – mainly because the vast majority (note, that specifically does not say “all”) of the readers in both genres tend to like the other one as well. The vast majority (again, not “all”) do not intersect particularly with, say, the romance or mystery or horror genres.

      Deliberate intersections do happen, of course, between both science fiction and fantasy and the other genres (mystery science fiction, romance fantasy, etc.) However – you honestly cannot find an intersectional work between science fiction and fantasy; they are based on different premises. (Science fiction – this is possible, or at least not impossible by our current knowledge, so let’s see where it leads us. Fantasy – this is impossible by our current knowledge, so let’s see where it leads us.)

      Alternate history is firmly in the science fiction genre. Although more dependent on the “soft science” of sociology – “What if this event (or events) had been different – how would the society have evolved?”. (Now, something like 163x is also very dependent on the “hard sciences,” or rather “practical engineering” – the non-fiction essays in the anthologies are nearly as fascinating as the stories that use them.)

      1. Danger Danger! Going Off Topic!!!

        Decisions about the differences between Science Fiction and Fantasy have a long history in fandom.

        Part of the fun is that there’s not a dividing line between the two that everybody can agree on.

        There are plenty of books that some people would argue belong in SF and others would argue belong in Fantasy.

        Some Fantasy takes the starting point of “We know Magic is impossible but what happens if Magic is Real and starts working in our world”.

        Chris Nuttall has written a few fantasies that use that idea.

        For that matter, in his _Sufficiently Advanced Technology_, a far future highly advanced civilization discovers a Lost Colony where Magic works.

        Even though, this Magic is believed to involve Science on a higher level than the civilization’s Science, it is still Magic from the reader’s POV. [Smile]

      2. Science fiction and fantasy are not the same thing at all.

        Tolkien’s essay, On Fairy Stories is useful here. There is an encompassing genre: the sort of work in which the construction of the imaginary world is of the same order of importance as that of the characters and the plot.

          1. Completely agreed with On Fairy Stories.

            Was about to quibble that historical romance is the same – but that is a reconstruction of a real world.

            So… “World Construction Fiction?”

            No, I don’t think so :<

            1. IMO any fiction writer “creates a world”.

              It’s just not as noticeable when the writer has based “his world” on the everyday world.

              His characters are fictional, the situations they face are fictional, etc.

              They are not in the “real world” thus their world has been created by the author.

    2. The difficulty I see with “Speculative Fiction” is that over the past five years or so it has come to mean literary fiction with fantasy elements – China Mieville (sp?) being the chief author that comes to mind. It should be a big tent with a wide entryway, but at the moment I’m not feeling up to wrestling it back from the lit crit crowd.

      1. Yep. It’s their attempt to distance themselves from the scruffy commons of sf. Well, let them. Please. All I can say is “Can we help you pack?”

        1. IF they want to be Speculative Fiction instead of science fiction because the former is more respectable (an effort since at least the 60s) why are they trying to maintain a death grip on the premier science fiction award. They need to fish or cut bait.

    3. My issue with it is, it came into being (to the best of my knowledge) around the same time some folks started trying to put message before story. There is nothing wrong with science fiction and fantasy as the two main genre titles. Alt. history is a subgenre under either of those, depending on how the story spins.

  5. My core audience is people who don’t consider themselves science fiction F/fans of any kind, they just want to read a cool story. There are a heck of a lot more of them then self-identified fans of any genre.

  6. Excellent point. A Hugo has been a negative indicator for a long time. Whether or not it can be saved is only of passing interest to a reader. I still do and always did find my authors of choice through guilt by association. ;o)

    On the other hand, I don’t care much for people attacking my friends or for SJWs in general, so I’m down for SP4 regardless.

  7. I agree. I was not mentioned in the Hugos this year, or ever, LOL. But I was awarded twenty thousand Washingtons this month, which was good enough for me. I’m not rich, but I live very well, thanks to independent publishing. And I regularly interact with fans on social media, email, cons, and hear the same thing over and over. They want more space opera, they want more adventure, they want more good stories. They really don’t care all that much for quality of covers or the occasional typo that sneaks in. They want entertainment. Some want some real science in the books (and one fan told me recently that my books only appeal to the hardcore military scifi fan. No problem, because I write the stuff I would want to read). They have given up on all but a few, or in most cases, one of the traditional publishers, and they have turned to indie. And once they find one they like, many of them are very vocal about their new favorite authors.

    1. Doug,
      Until you sat on a panel at Libertycon this year I had never heard of you. There you quite casually and offhandedly threw out some numbers that got both the audience and the rest of the panel member’s attention.
      Like it or not you are the poster boy for indie. You said you beat at the doors of agents and traditional publishers for, what, ten years? Writing and producing finished stories the entire time. Then in the three years since you decided to independently publish you have achieved sales that most published authors can only dream of. $20k a month? Ninety five percent of American writers would be thrilled to make $20k a year.
      You say you write the stuff you would want to read. Obviously that resonates with a significant market of readers willing to pay good money to be entertained by your work. Congratulations on your success. Due I would wager to a smidgeon of luck and a ton of hard work.

    2. And here I am in banking when indie mil sf is where the money is.

      Serious, congratulations on that success. I suspect it is very hard earned based on the tiny bit in Uncle Lar’s comment.

    3. Not every month is like that. In fact, this one will go down with three others in three years for that range of monthly income. But a ten thousand dollar month ain’t bad either. The point is that fans are finding what they like, whether it’s mine or someone else’s, and in a lot of cases it’s not what being put out there by the major publishers. As one of my fans put it earlier this year, good indie stories give a lot of entertainment value for the money.

    1. Thanks. It’s always amazed me the number of writers who seem to forget that we can write all we want but it will be for naught if we don’t write what folks want to read.

  8. Note to Amanda and Sarah and Kate. I understand that y’all are formulating some plans for a bit of fun and games for the coming year. I offer my services as minion, cheerleader, and craftsman as needed. Be honored to sharpen swords, load ammunition, dig anonymous pits out in the middle of nowhere, you know all those incidental tasks you need a minion for. Am even now looking to source a gross of hardwood posts that can be carved into pointy ended stakes for Kate’s use.
    All that said, please, all of you, treat this like a hobby, something you do in your spare time for a little break from the important things in life. And those things would of course be your health, your families, and your work as authors. Do not let a pissing match with a pack of spoiled children detract in any way from what’s important. As a fan and sometime first and beta reader I want you to remember that as satisfying as mayhem and torture and raining fire down upon the bastiches might be, someday they will all fade into the background while your loyal fans you will always have with you.

          1. On sober reflection, ash wood is the perfect choice. Each completed sharpened stake shall be delivered to Kate for her utilization. And each shall be known as yet another ash to risk in service to Sad Puppies 4 The Embitchening. We see your petty asterisk and go you one better you social justice pathetic wannabes.

    1. This………….

      To “win” this culture war within SFF, we need to connect to the larger audience, and to grow the audience. Really, considering how much the country’s population has grown, SF in the literary sense has shrunk. It’s obvious it’s grown in movies and on TV, as well as games. But the reading pool has shrunk.

      On the other hand, there appears to be some {I have no idea how many} voracious readers, that if they like what you’ve done will devour what you’ve done before going on to the next author.

      My sales have been kinda slow then last two days, then yesterday morning “Ranger Ask Not” {Book 1} got a jump on the rankings. Shortly the second book and the third book did too. No sales.

      Later in the day, the pages read jumped. This morning the fourth book had experienced a jump in rankings, and there were more “reads”. My conclusion {though I can’t prove it}, is someone tried the first book from the library, then read the next three within 36 hours. Can’t prove it, but that’s what I think.

      That’s not the first time, it’s actually happened several times.

      These are the folks we want to impress. We want them to read our wares. Whether they vote on the Hugos is immaterial.

      1. That’s what I do, read right through the available catalog. At least, I did before I started hanging out with you guys. Now I have a half dozen started. I need to re-evaluate my KU reading technique. Ten books isn’t enough of a queue.

          1. Oh goody!! I am glad you did that.

            May take a bit. I’m trying to work my way through the entire mad genius catalog in rotation. Problem is more keep popping up.

            I need a review primer desperately, if anyone has a link. I’m falling behind with them. Really really far behind, as I procrastinate by reading more.

              1. Excellent! Thank you.
                Seems like I have been doing it right. At least, I agree with what you said there, both of you. :o) I was thinking of them as recommendations, rather than reviews, so… no negatives. 4 and 5 only.
                I think your closing question is very important. I’m doing it for the authors, but it’s a service to the readers. One I wouldn’t bother to provide without the ulterior motivation. If you don’t supply that service consistently, it’s no help to the authors or the readers.

          2. I think KU might be a tremendous deal for indie writers right now. Granted, I’m new at this, and small sample size and all, but I think that lending could become a bigger revenue stream than selling.

            Just two days over eight weeks into this, four books, unless there’s a major turn around, I’d say I’m going to have more loans than sales, and more revenue from lending too.

            The first week, there were seven sales, no loans. Since then the trend has been 1.2 to 1 loans. I have to admit, on the loans I’m guessing, watching the movement on on the sales rank, then the movement on page reads.

            I intend to stay.

    2. Thanks, Uncle Lar. I know Kate will keep your offer in mind. As for not letting this impact real life and the important things in it, we’ll try.

    3. For those of you who might be contemplating digging large holes – for, uh, septic tanks, yeah that’s it, septic tanks – don’t forget to call 811 first. Wouldn’t do to hit a gas pipeline with your backhoe, I mean shovel.

  9. Ok My attempt to comment got eaten up by my shitty internet. (more fun my Lilly white ..) Anyway, I recently found out my mom is writing a book, Knowing that I’m trying to take this aspiring author thing seriously she asked my advice. (poor woman I just gave her a crap-ton of links, including to this site in general and certain sections specifically) I thought long and hard and came up with the only thing I knew I had learned for sure. “Ma, Just publish it as an indy. It doesn’t matter what you want to write, someone out there wants to read it, its just a matter of finding out how to get it in front of them”

    1. Good to see you’re still alive. Hadn’t heard from you for a while. Was hoping you were cranking away on your own story(ies). Excellent advice to your mom, but you knew that.
      If and when your mom needs some assistance you know how to get in touch with me.

      1. Between my laptop dying and other issues I’ve had lots of excuses. Plus I’m a bit stuck at the moment as to how to move the story forward, Somehow I was damn good at tearing my protagonist down but rebuilding him is proving more problematic. And yeah, I am, well sorta.

        The procrastination is strong in our family But when she is ready you will get an intro and so will she. In the meantime Im just trying to figure out how his worms turns, and how he sees it.

  10. On Sunday, after reading the results of the Hugos and reading about the Travesty that preceded them, I went out and purchased Racers of the Night by Brad Torgersen.

    On Twitter, I saw this, where the Usual Suspects were clucking about Brad:

    “Hugo-Loving Lich ‏@AaronPound · Aug 23
    @eruditeogre @shaunduke @PrinceJvstin He thinks as long as he has Analog and Baen as contracts and the related fans, he’s good.”

    Like the Grinch, they think they can take the things that don’t matter away and wreck our happiness. Like the Grinch, they are wrong.

    1. And another recommendation purchased…thanks Christopher.

      Between Amanda’s mainline comments, doug’s comment above (anyone making that kind of bank on indie is doing something worth at least sampling), following you to Brad’s collection, and the Hun’s selection for September (my first month and which I bought as a physical book to make taking notes easier) I’ve bought five indie books just this morning.

      My last B&N run had two fiction book and both were Moorcock reprints.

      Amazon isn’t just winning on price.

  11. Fine, fine, I get it Amanda…you want to direct by puppy rage by pointing out new (to me) Indie authors in passing so I’ll buy one each of their books spite the CHORFs sample them.

    Mission accomplished as I just purchased Ark Royal and Family Law.

    Are you happy now with all your thinking about pleasing readers not just in your books but in your blogging, well, are you…

    /sarc off

      1. I knew it, you are pushers, you’re all pushers…and now with KU you can just say, “but the first one from that author is free”…I bet all you books are cooked up in some beat-up camper and distributed by a bald English with cancer or something…

        I knew it.

        So, yeah, refer me to a few more next week when I’m done with this baggie 😉

  12. I saw the post on bibliotherapy over at According to Hoyt. I relied heavily on the comfort and examples of good books when I was younger, and SF&F were among my preferences. Like many other commenters, I have noticed the decline of good quality in SF&F in recent years. The Hugo and Nebula awards are just the tip of the iceberg. When I can go to a major bookstore chain. look over the book jacket blurbs, and find NOTHING in the bestsellers that I have the slightest interest in reading, something is rotten. What am I going to have to do to get decent stories; write them myself?

    1. Well, you are commenting at a blog for writers.

      And if you do it then I’ll have stories to read instead of having to write them myself (and trust me as two failed NaNoWriMos have shown, we do not want to have to read my fiction).

    2. That’s a common refrain here and there are at least a few who have gone on to do just that. (I don’t know everyone so I don’t know how common that was as a motivator.) Stick around for the saturday posts, there’s good stuff being promo’d in them.

    3. “Write them myself?”

      For the record, I Am Not A Writer. (People are starting to find that funny for some reason.) I’ve written a book. To my mind, that’s not what makes a writer—writers are those folk who have to write because otherwise the stories will beat on the insides of their skulls and make them unhappy. For me, it was more like, “FINE, nobody’s writing this book and I really want to read it!”

      So yes, you do have to write them yourself, sometimes.

  13. Mentioning RAH immediately marks me as a wrongfan, but he always said his reward was the payment for his work. And he won the Hugo for 4 novels back when it meant something good.

    1. A little quote from RAH speaking to the Brigade of Midshipmen at Annapolis back in 1973. The complete speech was published in Analog magazine under the title Channel Markers.

      “I think of it as competing for beer money; this keeps me steady on course. My purpose is to make what I write entertaining enough to compete with beer. Not to be as great as Shakespeare or as immortal as Homer but simply to write well enough to persuade the cash customer to spend money on one of my paperback reprints when he could spend it on beer.”

  14. Ack! First will y’all please stop throwing around book names for me to add? I have groceries to buy 😉

    Seriously, Amanda great piece, great point of view on the whole mess. I think a lot of readers are like me. They’re so sick of the offerings from most of the houses today are so lackluster and preachy they’re off putting. I have three different friends/acquaintances that continuously ask me for new stuff to read. I keep telling them….Follow the Indie path, grasshopper. I’ve found more exciting new books to read from indie (and Baen, natch) than I’d found in the previous two decades.

    Y’all keep writing and I’ll keep throwing pictures of presidents at you.

    1. Ah, but thanks to readers, I just bought groceries for the week! (If you bought all the Peter Grant books, would that count as us stealing your lunch money? 😛 )

    2. Thanks. Indie has opened up a lot of new “roads” and not just for writers. As a voracious reader — when I have time — I love the fact I can go to Amazon and find any sort of book I want. Looking at my “library”, most of them are now indie books. Why? Because most traditional publishers aren’t putting out the sort of book I want to read right now. Yes, there are still a few traditionally published authors I like but they are few and far between (Baen being the exception. I like more of their authors than not by a large margin.)

  15. In an amusing way, you could say the Hugo’s are ‘just soooo last century’. And in truth they are. The Internet, ebooks, indie publishing has changed the whole scene. Why bother going to a con, when you can directly interact with an author on Fbook? I read books based on Internet friends recommendations, I can directly thank the author for the story. All good as far as Im concerned.
    The Hugo’s are a quaint artifact of a bygone era. Plaudits to those fine conservatives who have strived to keep it so. It’ll be something to show my grand kids one day. . .like button up boots and whalebone corsets.

  16. I was one of those votes, a small “f”, I was disappointed by the no Awards, voting in the Hugo’s was never something I had thought of before, but I am glad I did. But for decades the Hugo’s was a pretty good indicator of new authors and books to read, but for a while now its been Baen,Amazon and blogs as to where i look for books and recomendations.

    Coincidentally I am reading Guardian Glass by Christopher Nutall right now.

    Coincidentally right now i am reading and enjoying Guardian Glass by Christopher Nuttal

  17. Write to impress me! I’ll give you money!
    I’ve watched the Sad Puppies war from the sidelines and I was too cheap (besides being out of work) to buy a $40 membership and vote.
    Since the No Awards bomb went off I went to the SFWA site to plunk down my $40 so I can vote next year and guess what? It appears there is no membership level for folks like me who just, like read SF.
    Is this a rule change to keep new voters out?

  18. Reblogged this on Cyn Bagley's Shadowland and commented:
    This post captures my feelings. Part of my problems with the Hugos is that you weren’t considered a “TruFan” unless you went to cons. It was what brought my attention to the Hugos. So yes, I agree.

    1. It’s not just going to the cons any longer, Cyn. It’s going to the cons and following the Party Line. There are SMOFs that have been cast from the fold for daring to contradict it. (Actually, if I’ve been following it correctly, this is exactly how VD was created.)

  19. The comment that really brought this into perspective for me was found here on Facebook: “My kids were shocked.

    Shocked not by not winning but by having an entire category’s rug being pulled out from under it and then having all the adults (many of which were old enough to be their grandparents) cheering for something my kids looked at as an unfair tragedy.

    I’ll admit to having feared this outcome – yet this was my children’s introduction to Fandom.

    We are driving home and they are of the opinion that they aren’t particularly interested in this “Fandom” thing.

    I find that a great shame – and I blame not the people who established the ballots to vote for (for my kids enjoyed a great deal of what they read on the ballots), but as my kids noted – they blame the ones who made them feel “like the rug was pulled out from under me.”

    I’d offered Fandom my boys – my boys now reject them.”

    I don’t think anyone really thought about how that would look to the folk who were up-and-coming. These kids are teens, the counter to the “graying of fandom,”* and they’ve just gotten what felt like a slap in the face. They didn’t care about the politics. They just wanted to see awards. And the infighting just turned them off, big time.

    I want to note that I went to Worldcon. I had a good time despite the apocalyptic air quality. (My asthmatic husband did not fare so well.) There are a lot of people who go to these that are not invested in the Hugo Awards and a not-insignificant portion who want nothing to do with the mess. (The non-writer portions, such as artists and filkers, were mostly adopting an agnostic stance, and I met one pair of people who were also avoiding the ceremony and who also thought the whole debate was ridiculous.) It’s possible to have a convention experience that is pleasant and disconnected from the awards.

    Unfortunately, it’s sometimes hard. (“Did you see the Hugos?” “I find awards ceremonies boring.” (I really do.) “This one was interesting, though!” “I saw the first part and I was bored.” (And person keeps trying to get me to talk about the Hugos even though I was clearly uninterested.))

    *My husband and I were used as a counter-example to “the graying of fandom.” Since we’er starting to push forty, and actually have gray in the hair (I have since my mid-20s), we’re probably not the best examples for this.

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