Many long years ago, I purchased a paperback copy of “Downbelow Station”. On the cover there appeared a note that said “Hugo Award Winning…” I figured that was good, but it didn’t affect whether or not I was going to buy that novel. I was buying everything by C. J. Cherryh.
That award meant nothing to me. And back then, there wasn’t even Wikipedia so I could go look it up. It was just some name that told me there was an award attached to the book. As it was, I read the first 100 pages of the book and put it up in my closet because…well, I thought it was kinda boring. (I’ll finish this story at the bottom.)
Lately we’ve been having a side-discussion in one of my writer groups about the awards and what they mean–or don’t mean. You know, the HugosNebulasCampbellCampbellSturgeonEtc. Awards.
Like most of the people in the group, I strongly suspect that most readers don’t have any clue what the source of each of those awards is.
When I was a panelist at one con on a panel about Awards, I asked the audience if they knew the difference between all the awards. As I recall, no one raised their hand. And this was the audience at a scifi con (and a rather literary one, to boot) who should have some clue.
I’m not going to bore you by going into the differences here. If you want to know, go look at Wikipedia. My point is that awards -do- have their merit. Even if someone doesn’t know where the award came from, who nominated or who voted, or how many of the awards were given out, they still tend to see the ‘award’ as an indicator of value.
Given, there IS a scale there. Today on my FB, a book popped up with a big gold badge that said ‘Indie Book of the Year’ Semi-Finalist. I know that’s not a Newberry Award, even if they have the same gold sticker. I know the difference between the Pulitzer Prize and the Pritzger Prize.
But I suspect the vast majority of readers don’t know the difference between the John W. Campbell Memorial Award and the John W. Campbell Award. I suspect the vast majority doesn’t even know that there -are- two different Campbell Awards at all.
Just something to think about…
(I am, BTW, not slamming on awards. I like awards. I want one. Someday.)
*I did pick up that book again about a month later….and read the rest of it in one sitting, which is impressive since it was a 700-page book. It was that good. I just had to get over the hump. And then? Wow!