…please bear in mind that it is a privilege, not a right.
There is nothing about the Hugo voter package in the WSFS constitution. It depends entirely on the goodwill of creators to produce the works, and also the goodwill of volunteers to assemble it. It’s probably the most laborious of any of the tasks involved with Hugo administration, and definitely one of the most thankless. (I hope that I have thanked those who have done it for me.)
I’ve had my share of Hugo-related tensions over the years, but among the most annoying are the entitled complaints of people who expect the Hugo voter packet to be designed for them and their specifications. To be very clear, I’m not talking about accessibility here – people with visual difficulties deserve consideration from publishers and Hugo administrators alike – but about those who demand the free reading material but then can’t be bothered to install the free software. (And then there are those who “forget” to download it in time and still want to get hold of it after the deadline has passed, and get all miffed when we have the audacity to honour the terms of our agreement with publishers, and say no.)
Inevitably some creators will provide their material poorly formatted, or in a form that some people don’t like, and readers will blame Worldcon for it. Inevitably the packet will be released later than had been hoped, because nobody in their right mind does the packet more than once, and it always takes longer than first expected. Inevitably other things go wrong. (My top complaint about creators – those who expect us to download sample copies of their work from NetGalley. Hardly anyone will bother to try, and those few who do try usually find that it doesn’t work.) The fact it that we are lucky to get the Hugo packet at all, and it frustrates me when I see commentary that doesn’t take that into account. My best wishes to those dealing with this year’s challenges.
While we are waiting for this year’s packet, I urge you to start buying (or borrowing) Hugo finalist books, rather than wait until you can get them for free. Creators deserve your money. One possible approach, if you want to be efficient about this, is to work through them from cheapest to most expensive. If you want to be super efficient, you could work through them in order of value measured by the number of pages per dollar, pound or euro. How to calculate that, you ask? Well, as it happens I’ve crunched those numbers for Best Novel, Best Novella, Best Graphic Story, Best Related Work (for four of the six finalists, the other two being an online essay and a Chinese website) and the Lodestar Award, and I can share it with you here. (Prices are from Amazon.com on Kindle, but links go to Amazon.co.uk hard copy, for Reasons.)
² Buffalito World Outreach Project consists of thirty translations of a single story. Taking that into account, the number of pages of original content per dollar would put it at the other end of this table.
NB that the above list totals 7,500 pages, not counting the Buffalito World Outreach Project, nor the other two Best Related Work finalists, nor anything from the other categories. That’s why I am getting reading now…