Thursday, June 3, 2010

A unique place in the Hugo Awards

I hadn't realized, until I read Honour for WA writer, an article by Ian Nichols in the June 2 issue of the West Australian, that Helen Merrick is the first Australian woman to be nominated for the Hugo [though see below: because she's not!]:
[The Secret Feminist Cabal] is a fascinating book which gives a glimpse into the equally fascinating world of science-fiction fans. More importantly, it speaks for that very same feminist cabal that has, over the past 40 years, been part of revolutionising the genre.

Merrick occupies a unique place in the Hugo Awards: she is the only Australian woman ever nominated for one. Very few Australians have been nominated for a Hugo, and only three of those have won. This book gives Helen Merrick more than a fighting chance to be the fourth.
Actually, I'm surprised. (Though maybe I shouldn't be?) [ETA: and it's not true! As Helen points out in her comment, Justine Larbalestier's Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction was nominated in the same category, and Margo Lanagan.]

But there was also this in the piece:
"Although I did win a twentieth of one [i.e., a Hugo] for my chapter in The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction," she says. "It was a medal on a little blue ribbon but my daughter cut it up with a pair of scissors."
In case you don't own a copy of the book, or haven't checked it out from your library, Aqueduct has made two chapters of it available for download from its website, here.

Speaking of The Secret Feminist Cabal, let me apologize now to anyone who was misled by my suggestion that the panel "The Interrelationship Between Feminist SF and Feminist Science" would have anything to do with Ch. 7 of The Secret Feminist Cabal, and then attended the panel under that mistaken impression. When I encouraged people interested in Helen's work on feminist sf and feminist science studies, I was going on the assumption that the description for the panel that Nancy Jane Moore proposed would have something to do with the panel itself. But WisCon Programming did not see fit to allow the panel's proposer to participate in the actual panel, and apparently the original idea behind the panel got dropped, even though the description was retained. I did not attend the panel myself, but someone who did told me that the panelists all admitted they hadn't read Helen's book, which explains why the panel had nothing to do with the panel description. Worse my informant seemed to think that the panelists were only interested in feminist sf written twenty or more years ago-- and certainly not in any way interested in anything that Helen talks about in Ch.7 of her book. Maybe next time...

On another note-- I arrived home last night after a grueling day of Delta Airlines Travel Hell. (Yeah, it wasn't enough that they stranded me in Madison and refused to pay for my additional overnight stay. [Bless the Concourse, though, for extending the WisCon rate!] One of my planes yesterday had "maintenance issues." And given what I've been hearing about management practices at Delta, it's an easy guess why. Be advised, unless you absolutely have to, avoid Delta like the plague. They'll gouge you every chance they get (though they're still not charging for using the restroom: but watch this space!), charge you extra for services they'll then screw up, and then tell you tough shit when they do. If they have a motto, it's probably "The customer is never right" or "never, ever apologize for anything," or "get hold of the customer's charge card as often as possible.")

Perhaps it's because I'm so worn out from Travel Hell, but I'm sort of appalled at the state of my two email inboxes-- and fighting the urge, this morning, to run away from home to escape it. If I owe you an email, please be patient. I'm just a little overwhelmed at the moment. Once I get myself organized and a list of what to do in what order made up, I'm sure I'll be fine.


Nancy Jane Moore said...

I plan to propose a discussion of the intersection of science, SF and feminism as discussed in The Secret Feminist Cabal and in the work of Donna Haraway for next WisCon as well, and I'll push to moderate the panel. I'm really interested in the subject, and having the panel as a goal means I'll have to do the reading I need to do to make it constructive. So we'll try again.

Very sorry to hear you got stuck in Madison. I wish I'd known, so we could have had dinner. Though in truth, I was so exhausted it was all I could do to move from the Concourse to the youth hostel, where I've spent the rest of the week. I would not have been scintillating company, I fear.

Helen Merrick said...

Before anyone gets annoyed with me - I'm certainly not the first Australian woman to be nominated!! (This detail didn't come from me) Justine Larbalestier was nominated for her Battle between the sexes in SF (in the same category) and also Margo Lanagan has been nominated for at least one short story. There could be more - I only did a quick flick through the last 10 years or so of the Hugo lists. Does anyone know of any analysis of the Hugo awards along these lines? I don't think an Australian woman has won before, but I can't be sure.

And lovely to hear You'll try for the panel again next year Nancy - maybe that should be the year I actually try and get to wiscon again :-) Maybe with luck my book on Haraway will be out by then...

Nancy Jane Moore said...

Helen, I really look forward to your book on Haraway. And it would be great if you could come to WisCon. I will put in the effort to make sure we get the right panel on the science/sf/feminist ideas -- there are ways! I also think there should be a separate one discussing the feminist fan history that makes use of such folks as Debbie Notkin and Jeanne Gommoll as well as drawing on your book. (There are better people than me to run such a panel.) Had I not had a reading scheduled opposite the panel this year, I would have pushed my way on to it and hijacked it back to the original topic. But since I had stressed myself enough about WisCon by doing a solo presentation, it's probably just as well.

All the awards run together in my mind. I recall both Margo and Justine winning some awards -- Margo a World Fantasy award, I think, and Justine the Andre Norton -- but I'm vaguer on the Hugos.