YA Hugo category – it could become a thing

Controversies abound during the WorldCon & Hugo Awards season. This year there have been a few, including a proposal for a YA (Young Adult) Hugo at the business meeting.

Aiglettalksmeta posted her reaction to what happened at the WorldCon business meeting. In a nutshell, she went into the business meeting arguing for a YA Hugo category to welcome younger fans into the fold by representing ‘their’ SF that includes some VERY well-written and popular works overlooked by existing Hugo categories.

Aiglet picked up this cause after others ran out of time or energy to continue.

Her goal: to get a committee to investigate the issues around a YA category.

The outcome: a committee has been established to investigate the issues around a YA category.

Side effect: some people are outraged because they felt Aiglet was ‘shut down’ during the business meeting. Aiglet does not feel that she was shut down. She didn’t understand the rules and appreciated them being explained to her. She also achieved her goal.

The debate now needs to focus on the issues around the YA Hugo category proposal.

Let’s focus on the White Male Privilege issue when a woman actually feels that she’s been silenced, when a panel features only men after turning down women, when… When it’s appropriate.

Peta Freestone has raised some issues around the YA Hugo category.

My thoughts on a YA Hugo category

Once upon a time, YA wasn’t a category. Readers tended to go from ‘children’s books’ to ‘adults books’. This changed, with YA becoming a huge – and growing – portion of the fiction market. I read some YA, most of which is well-written, even excellent, AND popular, but it is passed over in the Hugos. For example, Veronica Roth’s Divergent and Julianna Baggott’s Pure, both of which are being made into movies.

Recently I attended the launch of the Penguin Teen Australia website where a couple of hundred people (mostly young adult women) got VERY excited about a number of books and movies, not all of the books published by Penguin. (Penguin understand their audience so they squeed about books beyond the ones they’re proud to have published.)

I don’t think I’ve seen ANY of the people at that launch attend any of the science fiction conventions although some probably attend Armageddon and Supanova (expos). A couple of the attendees are students in the Professional Writing and Editing program with me.

I don’t think ANY of the people in the Professional Writing and Editing program, many of whom are young adults, attend the science fiction conventions. I anticipate these students will become published authors or they’ll work in other areas of the publishing industry. I’ve tried encouraging people, even suggesting that they volunteer for panels to build networks in the community, all to no avail. Imagine if there was a YA category making these people feel welcome.

Times have changed. The Hugos reflect this in some ways such as having categories for fan writing like for zines & blogs plus a category for podcasts. If the science fiction community wants young authors and readers to engage with the community then they need to roll out the welcome mat.

Including a YA category can help overcome a perception that attendees and contributors need to be in their late twenties or thirties to be welcome.