I highly recommend the following blog post from master SF author and editor Eric Flint (he’s bought two of my five pro-stories, so you KNOW he’s a sharp fella), who takes a COMPLETELY different approach to this pro and anti Sad/Rabid Puppy debacle. Essentially, it’s not politics separating the Hugo voting crowd from what is really selling, it’s a vast, vast field which no one can know the entirety of, so a self-selected crowd focuses on works that challenge them, works which by their novelty are not what popular authors are selling in droves. In addition, the categories are completely wrong for today’s markets and what is actually being produced. (He tells it much better and explains it all at length HERE.)
Mr. Flint’s updated categories would be as such: Short Novel (40K-80K words or what used to be a novel when the Hugos started), Stand-Alone Full-Length Novel (80-120K words, or what publishers are actually seeking and buying), Mega-Novel or Trilogy (works like LOTR told as one story, but broken up into volumes, think ASOIAF/GOT), Ongoing Series (uses the same characters, but with a new central conflict each book, like the Dresden Files, Honor Harrington, Monster Hunter Int’l, Old Man’s War, etc).
Now, me, I’d add/continue Short Fiction categories as well, but update them to the modern era: Flash Fiction (1K words and under), Short Story (1K-20K), and Novella (20K-40K), with those definitions to be defined by committee.
To be clear, Eric Flint is not advocating these awards. Those are just categories which would be more representative of the field than the awards currently recognize. His main thrust is that the awards are too constrictive as a whole. Rather than being handed out annually, they should be given out on a periodic basis to authors based upon a body of work. That would be more valuable in terms of recognition and as a selling point.
When (okay, if) I’m made High Potentate of All Sci-Fi-Fant-Fandom and decree the Erics to be awarded, I’d probably take a mix of the old and new:
Best Flash Fiction of the Year
Best Short Story of the Year
Best Novella of the Year
Best Short Novel of the Year
Best Stand-Alone Novel of the Year
Best Mega-Novel (can include multiple years)
Best Series (can include multiple years)
Best New Writer (based upon at least 5 works over 3 years)
I imagine Mr. Flint would be horrified at being attached to such a thing, but I’d be generally excited about it. And just to prevent tribalism or bloc voting by a clique, open the ballot to ALL fans, attach it to a mega-con like DragonCon, and use proportional voting or Single Transferable Vote, etc.
Hmmmm, awards that honor the best work and the best author, without bias or insularity, and reflective of the current market. Eric Flint is not a genius. He’s a SUPER-GENIUS.