Whenever I attend the World Science Fiction Convention or Nebula Weekend, I go to the Hugo or Nebula award ceremonies. Not only do I invariably have friends and mentors who’ve been nominated, but I always vote and tend to feel passionately about the merits of particular works. No, I won’t tell you, my dear readers, which works from years past or present that I feel were overlooked for the win, or not even nominated. You can certainly find such opinions on many other blogs, and if you’re reading this, you probably have your own ideas. But what I can talk about is the emotion in the room when winners are announced. There is nothing in the world like hearing the cheers for a writer or editor who has poured heart and soul into a work, and had major doubts and been stymied along the way, who is then so richly rewarded.
Someone asked me this year which is the “bigger” award – the Hugo or the Nebula, and I found it a hard question to answer. The two awards are given out by different groups. The Hugo is voted on by supporting and attending members of the World Science Fiction Convention. They tend to be readers, writers, editors, agents, gamers, costumers, and others with connections to the field. The Nebulas are voted on by active members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and they are professional writers. So it largely comes down to the difference between recognition by ones fans who read one’s work and recognition by one’s peers who are also writers. Since I write about imaginary stuff, I got to wondering what would happen if a writer were to rub a magic lamp and the genie gave the writer their choice between winning a Hugo and a Nebula award for a particular work of fiction. If the writer could only pick one or the other, which would he or she chose? Well, I suppose if he or she already had one of those awards but not the other, the choice might well be the one the writer does not have. But what if he or she has neither or both?
When United Airlines canceled my flight late Monday afternoon because they couldn’t fix a flat tire, thus stranding me in San Antonio, I was not happy. I was tired, sleep deprived and just wanted to get home to my husband. Instead, I thought I’d be eating a forgettable dinner by myself in a Hilton near the airport, and then go up to my room early. I entered the uninspired hotel dining room, SF paperback in hand. Sitting at the next table were a couple of other convention-goers who’d also been stranded. A few minutes later more came in – fans, filkers and a writer. We had a fine time talking about the Worldcon we’d just attended, conventions past and future, projects we were working on, and all manner of things. Before I knew it, over two hours had passed pleasantly. In short, I can’t think of another group of strangers I’d rather be stranded with than science fiction and fantasy aficionados.