On June 27 in Seattle will be held both the Locus Awards fete and the induction of this year's honorees into the SF Hall of Fame. I mention these things now because I learned yesterday that I'm involved in both, albeit tangentially. My novella "The Erdmann Nexus" is nominated for a Locus Award, which set me to thinking about the nature of awards in general.
"The Erdmann Nexus" made this ballot and the Hugo ballot, but not the Nebula ballot. In its category, novella, there are three other overlaps with the Hugos but also two entirely different works. The Nebula-winning novel, Ursula LeGuin's Powers, is not on the Locus Awards ballot. Is the Locus readership that much different from either the Nebula readership or the Hugo readership?
I suspect the answer is yes. Each year the Locus poll asks the ages of its readers, and the average age has risen steadily. So what are we honoring when we pass out awards? Clearly, the answer is the favorite authors of some subset of SF readers -- and in some cases, that subset is not only small but shrinking. This is why I've come, over the years (well, all right, decades) to feel that awards don't matter nearly as much as I once thought they did.
The Hall of Fame inductees, on the other hand, are chosen by a revolving jury. I have served on this jury, although not this year. Four inductees are chosen from SF writing, media, and publishing, and two must actually be alive. This year one of the living is Connie Willis, and Charles Brown and I will interview her on a panel. I'm considering what questions to ask Connie. I have a few in mind, but here's an open question for blog readers: What do you think I should ask her? All suggestions seriously considered -- if not necessarily accepted!