Hello, Kiddies, this is Uncle Harlan here again to talk to you about the time that never was and never will be.
Once upon a time in the land of Scifi [pronounced "skiffy"] - if you like fantasy, you'll love Scifi - people used to win Hugos and Nebulas through dint of hard labor and the quality of their work. Now, for those of you who don't know what a Hugo and a Nebula are: these are called Hugos, these large rectal suppository looking items. They are the award of the World Science Fiction Convention, the Hugo Award. These beautiful lucite and, um, whatever the hell they are, crystals are called the Nebulas. They are given out by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. What you're looking at here, all of these, these 8 1/2 Hugos and these 3 Nebulas, are mine. I've won these.
Many people over the years have bruited the rumor, in Chinese whispers, that one could buy a Hugo. That it was possible to affect the electorate in such a way that you could, that you could in fact lobby to get an award. In fact, the charge was lobbied against me once, until the fellow that made the charge was shown that he and I had never been up in the same category for the award, so I could not have possibly scr*wed him out of the award as he was suggesting.
But attempts were made over the years. At one time the Scientologists tried to get something for L. Ron Hubbard. Didn't work. One time the Borroughs bibliophiles tried to get one for a posthumously published Edgar Rice Burroughs novel. Didn't work. There have been times when Cyberpunk people have tried to do it. It just doesn't work. Now the electorate is not awful large. The people who vote on the Nebulas are of course members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and the people who vote on the Hugos are the people who registered for last years' World Science Fiction Convention and next years' World Science Fiction Convention.
At this most recent convention, at which the most recent awards were given out something strange, wonderful and horrendous happened. People bought themselves some awards. Yes, folks, it's finally happened. Technology has finally caught up. People actually went on the internet and begged for votes. Now, I'm not going to mention the names. People will say, "oh, Ellison's sour grapes". Yeah, it's sour grapes, I suppose. I got ****** out of one or two awards, I'll tell you that absolutely frankly. But that's not really what I'm caring about. What I'm caring about is that one vastly untalented person won a Hugo, or was it a Nebula? I think it was a Nebula. And another person went out on the Net, and begged for votes, said, "vote for me, vote for me, poor me, vote for me". Well, I guess the time has come for somebody to point this out. It's not really polite to talk about it. But, you know, then you know me. I have no sense of what I should talk about, what I shouldn't. So I figured I would alert the rest of you to this. That, ah, beginning with the awards this year, the Hugos and the Nebulas are maybe not as valuable, maybe not as representative as we might like to think they are.
On the other hand, maybe it's alright to go out and ask for votes. Maybe I'll do it this coming year. I got some real good stories coming up. We shall see. I just thought I'd let you know.
From Sci-Fi Buzz, episode 135
Publishing Rights to 'Harlan Ellison's Watching' copyright 1996 the Killimanjaro Corporation.