Locus Award problems
Locus has always had a snobbishness in choosing certain authors’ books to review and publicize, while totally ignoring others. And that does not necessarily reflect those authors' popularity. In the past decade Robert Sawyer has been nominated for 10 Hugo Awards, winning Best Novel in 2003, while Jack McDevitt has been nominated for 12 Nebula Awards during that period, winning Best Novel in 2007. But if you read only Locus for reviews and overviews of the sf field, you might not realize those two authors even existed since Sawyer is never reviewed, and McDevitt is rarely mentioned.
Locus makes a big deal of their annual Locus Awards, which have a larger voting base than either the Hugos or Nebula Awards. However, in recent years the editors of Locus have taken great strides to make sure those awards represent their own views rather than the uninfluenced views of their readers/voters in a very sneaky manner: the awards are voted online, and each category has a drop-down menu listing all the works recommended by the editors of Locus. While there is also the option of “writing-in” a different name, we all know the likelihood of a write-in winner beating one of the listed nominees is slim, if not nonexistent.
But Locus made the mistake of opening the voting to anybody who visits the Locus Online website, rather than restricting it to readers of the magazine. So this year the number of voters of the Locus Award who were not readers of the magazine apparently skewed some of the results away from the recommended stories pushed in the pages of the magazine. So as to minimize such free-thinking influence on the awards, the editors of Locus decided after the voting was completed to count the votes of Locus subscribers as double the value of non-subscribers.
That decision made a difference in several awards. Connie Willis is a personal friend of the editors of Locus, and obviously one of their favorites, but she would have come in second place for the Locus Award without the doubling to Cory Doctorow, who has a rabid following online. How dare he take an award from an insider? *tsk tsk*
Quite frankly, the Locus Awards do not matter much in the sf field compared to Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, John W. Campbell, Theodore Sturgeon, Philip K. Dick, etc, but pretending the Locus Award is more representative than the others in the broad realm of fandom is contradictory when the award is not-so-subtly influenced by the presenters of the award. Just as claiming to be “the magazine of the science fiction & fantasy field” is a bit of an invalid claim when its coverage deliberately ignores important aspects of the f&sf field.
Fortunately, in this internet age, Locus is no longer the sole newsletter devoted to the genre. Sites such as SF Scope and SF Signal carry daily news items as well as links to other sites, and there are numerous bloggers who discuss f&sf regularly. Some websites, such as SF Site have their own annual awards and, to separate their own opinions from that of their readers, they have two parallel awards, a set of winners from their editors and contributors and another set of winners from their readers. Maybe that is something Locus should consider doing rather than skewing their supposed “democratic” awards.