January 16th, 2021

Kevin 1994

Should There Be Any Limits?

I am waiting to see what happens with DisCon III, which is in the midst of the "Winter Crisis" that hits many Worldcon committees around this point in their timeline. (It was because of ConJosé's Winter Crisis that I ended up as co-chair in 2002, for example.) However, I'd like to ask those people who read my journal this question:

What is the maximum number of Hugo Award trophies that the "winners" of a category should receive from the convention?

There was once a time when there was one trophy per category, period. If you were co-authors, you had to work it out amongst yourselves. Then conventions started giving every co-author a trophy. In 1993, we gave Paramount two trophies for "The Inner Light" and allowed them to purchase a third trophy (we had one spare) for about what it cost us to make it (around $300). But what do you do for a work that declares that it has ten or twenty co-authors/co-editors/co-creators?

In addition, I want to know where people think there should be a limit, or if there should be any limits at all. More than one person has pointed out to me that in a dramatic presentation, there are certainly a lot of people who could claim to have a stake in the work. Who should get trophies and award credit? Director, every person with the word "producer" in their title, and every person who had something to do with the script or the underlying story if applicable? Should we stop there? If so, where do we stop. And then what do you do with things like An Archive of Our Own, where there are a large number of people who insist that every single contributor is a co-author.

Here's another case that seems way too likely to me: a crowdfunded project offers to list anyone who contributes as a particular level as a "co-author" or "co-producer" or "co-editor." This work makes the ballot and wins. Are all of those contributors entitled to award credit and/or a trophy? Again, where do you draw the line?

Anyone who claims that I'm trying to discriminate against any particular person or group by asking this question is wrong. I am asking you where you think the practical limit should be for demand on a resource that is not infinite, even though from the outside it may appear to be so. "Get a bigger room" is not necessarily the wrong answer for complaints about pre-ceremony receptions or post-ceremony parties, but assuming that Worldcons have unlimited resources is wrong, too. Pretend that you're running the convention and tell me what you would do.

Worldcon trophies used to be a significant proportion of the total Worldcon budget. Nowadays they are almost a rounding error, but they are a finite resource. The bases are all custom-made, so you can't just go to your local trophy shop and buy some extra blocks of wood. (It would be much easier if that's what you had to do.) The rockets themselves have to be ordered from the one foundry with the one and only one mold, but this is less tricky than bases, especially as it's not unusual for Worldcons to club together for larger orders and to share rockets with each other. So the issue is less about absolute fabrication cost than about the logistics of production. Trophies have to be ordered well in advance of when you know who won, and if you ordered the absolute maximum you might need, you could easily end up with more leftover trophies than the ones you actually gave out. Is this what we want?