Hyperpat\’s HyperDay

SF, science, and daily living

Scalzi and the Nebulas

Posted by hyperpat on March 19, 2007

John Scalzi announced his candidacy for the post of president of the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) last Thursday. While most of the commentary over on his Whatever site has been very positive, there has also been a strong thread indicating that he must be out of his mind to willingly take on a job like this. But his stated platform clearly lays out things that need to be addressed by that organization, things that have relevance beyond the internal workings of it, that might affect every sf fan.

Most prominent of these is his stated goal of bringing the Nebula awards back to the prominence that they used to have, when they rivaled the Hugo Awards in terms of importance and in recognizing the best in the field. As it sits now, the Nebulas trail the Hugos in terms of timeliness, often being awarded for books up to a full year later than the Hugos. Especially for paperback issues, when a book does receive a Hugo, it will immediately get notice of that award splashed on the cover, and it definitely helps drive sales and notice. Due to the time lag, though, a similar notice about a Nebula award frequently doesn’t make it, as the edition is already printed. For those books that don’t receive the Hugo but did manage to get the Nebula, by the time the award is made, often the book is no longer ‘fresh’, and publishers may not be willing to bring out a new edition of such material that would highlight its award status. And this is a shame.

Science fiction is still looked upon in too many circles as ‘entertainment only’ fiction, not worthy of serious consideration. As the Nebulas are awarded by vote of other sf writers, frequently the books that get the award are the more literate variety of offerings in the field, and often showcase just exactly how good works in the field can be. It would seem as if, under current policies, sf is voluntarily given up a great opportunity to promote itself as far more than ‘genre’ fiction.

Whether Scalzi is successful in his bid for the presidency or not, I hope that his airing of this issue will cause a true rejuvenation of the Nebula status, and perhaps a little better reputation for the field can be had in circles that currently unjustly denigrate it.

2 Responses to “Scalzi and the Nebulas”

  1. Peter said

    Bit of a non sequitur for this particular topic – but I was wondering what you thought about some of the content offered on the Sci Fi channel? Specifically, have you been watching the re-incarnation of Battlestar Galactica? It has become one of my guilty pleasures – although I found this last season (3.5) to be very annoying.
    Some of those Cylons are not too hard to look at – which always helps! 😉

  2. hyperpat said

    Battlestar Galactica is one of my very few must watch programs. It has some great scripts, at least reasonable and sometimes great acting by almost all of the major characters, good special effects that are usually neither overdone (even if scientifically inaccurate in some details) nor made the prime focus of the show. Season three has been a little bit of a disappointment, as I’ve felt the plot direction has gotten a little too far removed from the original concept, but at the same time the content has been highly relevant to today’s political and moral morass. One of the episodes is up for this year’s Dramatic Short Form Hugo, the “Downloaded” one, and probably deserves to win, as the other contenders are Dr. Who episodes (which, for all its cult following, has always struck me as a little silly) and one of Stargate SG-1 (see, it can be related to the awards thingee!).

    Having said all this, a lot of the rest of the Sci-Fi channels output has not impressed me – their made-for-TV movies have just about all been busts, and SG-1 has gone so far downhill it’s now unwatchable. Still, in terms of SF available on the boob tube, it far outclasses previous attempts to put such material on the air.

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