Author Topic: Chengdu worldcon voting fiasco  (Read 1109 times)

Jubal

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Chengdu worldcon voting fiasco
« on: January 23, 2024, 01:13:09 PM »
I don't keep up much with "core SFF" fandom, it's the main genre I read but I feel like there's a big big gap between me and people who keep properly up to date with this stuff and read five times as many books as I do per annum and know a bunch of the authors and so on. Nonetheless, it's been crossing my timeline a lot recently, because apparently the Worldcon held in Chengdu has ended up with some very very dodgy looking voting practices, not least disqualifying some pretty well known books and authors (RF Kuang's Babel for example, which I'd have thought might be a strong best novel contender) for reasons that remain unknown and unexplained.

Some writeups if people are interested can be found at File 770, on the blog of Abigail Nussbaum, and as a public patreon post by Jason Sanford.

It's difficult for these sorts of things, which are on the one hand increasingly committed to trying to make a global idea of their work meaningful, to balance that against the actually very real fact that a lot of governments and places in the world actually don't fully share the values that make creative or democratic processes viable.
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Spritelady

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Re: Chengdu worldcon voting fiasco
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2024, 12:51:43 PM »
How very strange! I can't say that I'd particularly paid attention to Worldcon (or in fact, heard of it!) before now, but that is frustrating for me personally because I liked that book a lot!

Given what was pointed out in that File 770 post about the con being subject to the legal context of the host country, I wonder if it was related to either or both of the LGBT undertones or the portrayal of China in the book?

Jubal

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Re: Chengdu worldcon voting fiasco
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2024, 09:01:11 PM »
There have been a bunch of ensuing resignations etc:
https://file770.com/worldcon-intellectual-property-announces-censure-of-mccarty-chen-shi-and-yalow-mccarty-resigns-eastlake-is-new-chair/

It seems possible that the LGBT undertones made a difference, but also IIRC RF Kuang has been pretty open about the fact her father was at Tianamen Square which I can imagine the Chinese government not being happy about to say the least.
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Pentagathus

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Re: Chengdu worldcon voting fiasco
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2024, 10:30:37 PM »
Yet more evidence that democracy is a foolish fad and the obviously superior form of government is an occasionally benevolent overlord with curly hair and a cool name like Pent

Jubal

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Re: Chengdu worldcon voting fiasco
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2024, 10:36:50 PM »
Yes, you could write to the WorldCon committee and suggest replacing the Hugos with The Pentugo Awards, as decided every year by Pentagathus and nobody else. I'm not sure how well it would go for you, but you could suggest it.
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dubsartur

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Re: Chengdu worldcon voting fiasco
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2024, 06:22:47 AM »
Am I right that they included Chinese-language and English-language works on the same ballots?  I don't see how people could vote for a literary award which includes works in languages which only some voters can read (and a translation is not the same thing as the original, the differences can be quite substantial and what makes a work notable for one audience can make it meh for another).

Many people involved in fandom (not at all the same as fans!) seem convinced that something fishy happened.

Glaurung

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Re: Chengdu worldcon voting fiasco
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2024, 09:23:30 AM »
I don't think the rules for the Hugo Awards have any provision for splitting ballots by language, not least because it's been almost exclusively English-language media up to now. On the other hand, I think there's an expectation that anyone taking the ballot seriously will have read all the nominated works, so I don't know how that was expected to work with a mix of English and Chinese.

Jubal

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Re: Chengdu worldcon voting fiasco
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2024, 04:12:43 PM »
Yes, the multiple languages problem does present some major difficulties. I'm not sure how people expected that to work either.
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dubsartur

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Re: Chengdu worldcon voting fiasco
« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2024, 06:28:04 PM »
I can see an argument for Chinese or German or Korean Hugos for fiction in languages other than English, but not for including both on the same ballot.  That would just become a popularity contest between English-readers and Chinese-readers.

It has been extremely difficult for a long time to read all nominated works in one language (most scrupulous voters pick a few categories and vote for those)

Jubal

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Re: Chengdu worldcon voting fiasco
« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2024, 09:30:21 PM »
Yeah, I think that's fair. Though I wonder if people fear that in a split languages award series the non English languages end up not being the "grand prize" that gets wider attention etc because the English language prize ends up retaining the core prestige. And which languages get to have their own award? Does one set a limit by nominations, or is the whole system for the German Hugos run wholly separately and needs its own committee (which given language barriers is likely)?  So yes, I think I agree with you but separating by language may have headaches too.
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dubsartur

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Re: Chengdu worldcon voting fiasco
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2024, 01:45:54 AM »
Yeah, I think that's fair. Though I wonder if people fear that in a split languages award series the non English languages end up not being the "grand prize" that gets wider attention etc because the English language prize ends up retaining the core prestige. And which languages get to have their own award? Does one set a limit by nominations, or is the whole system for the German Hugos run wholly separately and needs its own committee (which given language barriers is likely)?  So yes, I think I agree with you but separating by language may have headaches too.
I don't think you will ever change that English readers mostly care about things published in English, Twitter fans think Twitter posts are the most important type of posts, or post-neo-goth-metal fans ignore neo-goth-metal.  Its just human nature that people promote things that come from within their communities and hide things from outside them.  Even before English was a global prestige language not many English speakers read Montaigne or Karl Marx or Isaac Newton in the original, most knew these authors through summaries in English.

But you could have a Chinese Hugo which was the most famous award for Chinese-language science fiction but everyone else ignored, like the classic Hugo is the premier award for English-language science fiction which everyone else ignores.

I think anyone who is good at organizing fandom could find a pretty good test for which languages have enough organized fans to support a major literary award.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2024, 01:52:03 AM by dubsartur »

Pentagathus

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Re: Chengdu worldcon voting fiasco
« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2024, 08:27:09 PM »
Yes, you could write to the WorldCon committee and suggest replacing the Hugos with The Pentugo Awards, as decided every year by Pentagathus and nobody else. I'm not sure how well it would go for you, but you could suggest it.
Good news everyone!
They agreed. Feel free to bow and scrape.

dubsartur

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Re: Chengdu worldcon voting fiasco
« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2024, 10:40:08 PM »
Yes, you could write to the WorldCon committee and suggest replacing the Hugos with The Pentugo Awards, as decided every year by Pentagathus and nobody else. I'm not sure how well it would go for you, but you could suggest it.
Good news everyone!
They agreed. Feel free to bow and scrape.
Great Ghu, just remember to save us some historical documents!