‘It’s an honor just to be nominated’. I don’t think I really understood that before March, 2008. I’d been up for my share of awards back home in Australia, and had been delighted and honored every time, but the email I received on a Monday afternoon early that month completely threw me.
The email advised that I had been nominated by the members of the World Science Fiction Society in the Best Editor, Short Form category, and asked if I would like to accept the nomination? I was floored. Speechless for a minute or two, which will say everything to those who know me. I turned to Marianne, who was working in the kitchen and said quietly, “I’m going to Denver”. She knew instantly what I meant and was delighted.
I think we had a small celebration – I know we should have. I quickly advised the Hugo people that I was thrilled to accept the nomination – I was afraid that if I waited they might change their minds – and advised them that I’d be attending the convention as a result.
I was asked not to tell anyone about the nomination until the ballot came out, so I had to sit on the information for a couple weeks. It was excruciating. There are all kinds of wonderful people who help me all the time, and I wanted to share the news. Let them know about this wonderful thing that had happened. When the ballot was announced I immediately emailed my fellow nominees my congratulations, and received a small flood of congratulations in return.
Something that’s not apparent if you’re not caught up in the awards is that you get to be a nominee for a long time – nearly five months. And during that time you begin to realise something really important. A group of intelligent and informed people have looked at your work and deemed it worthy of a Hugo Award, considered that it properly sits alongside the work of the other people nominated in your category. When I looked at the work done by Gordon Van Gelder, Stan Schmidt, Ellen Datlow, and Sheila Williams, I felt flattered to be counted in their number and more than a little humble about it.
I never thought I’d win the Hugo Award. There are all sorts of practical reasons, but I really didn’t think it would happen, but I anticipated some kind of disappointment. When I got on the plane in August, headed from Perth to Oakland for my traditional stopover at Locus HQ I was braced for it. I spent a few tranquil days in Oakland (truthfully the best part of any trip to the US), then we went on the Denver.
The convention went by in a bit of a blur, to be honest, but at every stage the organisers made me feel a bit special and important. I got my Hugo nominees badge (not pin!), my certificate, there was the brief rehearsal and the special pre-Hugo event, then the ceremony itself. As my category approached I was braced for it, but ready to be disappointed. When they called out Gordon’s name I felt good about it. I was surprised that there wasn’t a trace of disappointment (in truth, I would have been shocked had they called my name out). Instead I felt what I had been feeling all along: honored, flattered, grateful, and more than a little bit pleased.
In amongst the champagne and conversation at the traditional Hugo losers party I realised that it had been true for me: for five months it had been a thrill and an honor just to be nominated. I was surprised then, and am surprised now, at just how true this was and remains to be. Even now I get a warm glow thinking about it.
And that brings me to this year. The nominations close at the end of this week. If you are eligible to nominate, please, please do so. It makes an incredible difference to everyone involved, and your voice should be heard. I’d also add a brief comment about changing categories for the Hugos. The members of the World Science Fiction Society should make whatever decisions they feel proper about the categories for the Hugos, but I’d ask them to remember this. The awards are important, and being nominated is an enormous honor. Disenfranchising anyone is a decision that should be made cautiously and compassionately.