I have some surprising news – at least it was for me. This year the World Science Fiction Society’s 65th annual convention, Worldcon, is being held in Japan. This convention is also known as Nippon2007 and is held the first week of September. I think having the convention in Japan is a great idea – I understand this is the first Worlcon to be held in Asia and I think a World organization certainly should hold its conventions outside in the world.
The surprise is – the Hugo balloting cycle is tied to these conventions. As a result I think we’re going to see some very interesting outcomes.
To those who don’t understand the process, it works like this. If you paid for LACon IV last year or paid for Nippon2007 this year, you can nominate for the Hugos. But only if you pay for Nippon2007 can you actually vote on those nominations. Now you don’t have to pay to be an attendee, there are supporting memberships that let you vote (and get any publications they produce) without having to go.
To me, and to John Scalzi (and a tip of the hat to him for the initial information), this is very interesting. With the event in Japan, will we see only Japanese-language titles being nominated? And assuming some English works make the short list – will they win? I have no doubt that our friends in Japan read science fiction written in English, so I don’t mean to imply they don’t have a big picture view, but aren’t they naturally going to lean towards Japanese works? One only has to look at the guests of honor at Nippon2007 to see that there are authors most us here know nothing about. In addition to David Brin (author) and Michael Whelan (artist) are Yoshitaka Amano (artist), Takumi Shibano (fan guest of honor), and Sakyo Komatsu (author). I thought I lived on a relatively flat earth, but I’ve never heard of those three Japanese gentlemen before (my ignorance knows no bounds to be sure.) I suspect we’ll see the same when it comes to nomination and balloting time too.
All told, I’m surprised but also encouraged by this. Maybe I’ll make an attempt to read some of the Japanese nominations (assuming they have been translated into English) or winners when they are announced. And maybe the winners will get more attention than they might have otherwise and raise all of our collective view of Japanese science fiction.