Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Voting Options 

140* ballots received. I tabulated the first 80 last Friday to see if any categories have obvious front-runners. A couple do.

One more voting observation. Many (I'm tempted to say most, but haven't actually tabulated numbers) ballots from recognizable professionals 1) tend to be among the majority of ballots, described in the previous post, which register votes for only a couple items, and 2) usually vote for works by themselves, or works they have some professional association with.

Or for works by friends or associates... which is where I was headed with the "Clades" title last time. There are subcommunities within the larger SF/F/H community--starting with the SF, the F, and the H communities, of course, but including much more specific groups of writers and readers who share interest in a particular type of fiction and a counterpart disinterest in any other kind. Some of these subgroups are well-known, and even nickname themselves...

This is one reason there are so many SF/F/H awards, with such specific criteria distinguishing them. The awards that attempt to encompass the entire field--the Hugos, Nebulas, the Locus Poll--inevitably reflect compromises in their results, though perhaps not as seriously as in awards that limit voters to one choice per category. Example, heard this morning on the car radio: Robert Christgau explaining Coldplay's record of the year Grammy win. It was the only non-rap record among the finalists, so all the voters who hate rap voting for that. Speaking of the Grammys, my impression is that the music industry, and music fans, are even more balkanized than readers and literary types; most people have very specific musical tastes defined as much by the many styles they don't like, as by the few they do. The Grammys aren't so much one award with 100 categories, as a collection of awards for several dozen styles of music all grouped together under a single name. Now there's an idea for a way to overhaul the messy SF awards scene...

Or here's an idea. Perhaps we could simplify the Locus Poll. We could invite one group of voters to submit ballots--say, voters whose last names begin with A, or voters from a particular state. Tabulate their votes, and then eliminate any candidates with less than some significant percentage of the total. They would bow to inevitability and resign. After a few rounds of this, the winners will have been virtually determined, and the remaining voters can save themselves the trouble of actually voting. (If they do vote, they would merely be affirming the preselected winner, as in elections in some third-world nations.) Think of all the time and energy this would save.

*correction, 6p.m.; earlier I wrote "100 or so"
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Mark R. Kelly

The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Mark R. Kelly, and do not reflect the editorial position of Locus Magazine.
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