Saturday, March 31, 2018

Hugo statistic

So this year's Hugo finalists have been released, and since in past years I've been keeping track of the percentage of women writers in the fiction categories, I might as well continue. Counting Best Series as a fiction category in addition to the traditional ones, I find that of the 30 works (all single-author), 22 are by women, 7 by men, and 1 by an author identifying as non-binary.

That's 73% women, slightly exceeding even last year's all-time high of 71%.

Concerning the announcement, though, I would just like to opine, as a member of the Jewish persuasion, that the convention had absolutely nothing to apologize for because it held the announcement during Passover. Pesach isn't Yom Kippur, you know: it does not require fasting or introspective prayer in the synagogue, but is rather the opposite: it's a festive holiday whose primary form of worship is a formal celebratory meal at home called the seder. (To which non-Jews are often invited: after that D.C. councilman made that silly remark about the Rothschilds, the response of the Jewish community to was to invite him to seders, where he can learn about the Jewish people.)

I am not myself observant, but I've noted a lot about observant practice, and I have never heard anything suggesting that Jews are in any way forbidden from engaging in secular activities during the eight days of Pesach. If you're going to forbid that, why don't you add in the Counting of the Omer while you're at it,* and pretty soon there won't be any permitted time to do anything at all.

If one wishes to spare observant Jewish sensitivities, one should be far more concerned that it's Shabbat, the Sabbath, about which the restrictions for everyday secular activities can be pretty severe for the observant. Yet the halakhic laws of Shabbat don't prevent plenty of observant Jews from attending science fiction conventions on that day of the week, and we should be all the less worried about Passover.

If it doesn't bother us that the Hugo finalists are now traditionally announced, because it's a slow news day, on Holy Saturday, which is smack up against what I understand to be both of the two holiest days of the Christian calendar, we shouldn't flake out over the Jewish calendar either.

*I may get slammed for this comparison, but the Omer is sort of the Jewish equivalent of Lent, in the sense that it's a long-lasting low-grade dampener on festivity.

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