Monday, July 20, 2015

Final Proposal of 'Best Series' Hugo Award Posted

by John Popham

Sasquan, hosts of this years World Science Fiction Association convention, has posted this year's proposed amendments to the Worldcon constitution. As anticipated, the proposed amendments include several intended to change the nomination process for the Hugo Awards in order to dilute the influence of 'slate' voting.  However an unrelated addition to this year's business meeting is a proposal to add a new Hugo Award category for Best Series:
"A work of science fiction or fantasy presented as a single series with a unifying plot, characters or setting, appearing in at least three (3) volumes consisting of a total of at least 240,000 words by the close of the previous calendar year,at least one of which was published in the previous calendar year. If such a work has previously been a finalist, it shall be eligible only if at least two (2) additional volumes consisting of a total of at least 240,000 words have been published since its last appearance on the final ballot by the end of the previous calendar year and provided it has not won...before."

Presently a series in its entirety can be nominated for a Hugo Award under the best novel category the year the last book in the series is published. However, some fans of the series format argue that, with series becoming increasingly important in science fiction and fantasy genre publishing, that format deserves its own Hugo Award category.

The last time a Hugo Award specifically dedicated to a series was awarded was in 1966 when when Isaac Asimov's Foundation series won Best All-Time Series,  beating out Edgar Rice Burrough's Barsoom series, E. E. 'Doc' Smith's Lensman series, Robert Heinlein's Future History series and J. R. R. Tolkein's "The Lord of the Rings" for the honor.

The initial draft of the proposal amendment created some controversy as, in order to make room for the new award, it would have eliminated the Best Novellette award. Presently there are three short fiction awards, including Best Short Story (up to 7,500 words), Best Novellete  (up to 17,500 words) and Best Novella (up to 40,000 words). The final draft of the proposed Best Series amendment does not require any other Awards be eliminated in establishing a Best Series award.