Rabid Hugos

Okay. Hugos were announced and it was actually Vox Day’s Rabid Puppies slate that ended on top. I was pessimistic from the start, but this was even worse than I expected, even though I expected it to be bad. It seems like the slightly more moderate Sad Puppies were left with the task of helping Day’s minions secure the spots on the shortlist.

There’s a lot of angry meltdown going on in different quarters of the web, and also interesting discussion on how we can rebuild what was wrecked and go forward. Some rule changes are proposed to counter bloc voting, and hopefully they can do something about it, but that takes a couple of years to happen. More immediately, there’s likely going to be a backlash of voting for No Award instead of the Puppy nominees.

Naturally, Brad Torgersen, Larry Correia and friends are trying to capitalize on the tense atmosphere by spreading out snippets that are meant to show how the old guard of fandom supposedly hates every newcomer and wants to keep them out. Kudos to them for the well-fabricated narrative, but I think one should really take look at why people are upset:

  • Woman-hating, diversity-hating Vox Day came out winner in this year’s Hugo nomination. He has mostly decided who we can give the awards for best works and achievements of 2014 in the field of science fiction and fantasy. In the novella, novelette and short story categories, for example, all the nominees are his picks, which sucks.
  • There’s some proof of Gamergaters being recruited to vote for their slates, in order to piss of liberals, feminists, people of color, people preferring social justice to social injustice and what have you. Not nice.
  • Slate-voting with a large enough voting bloc was proved to be a winning strategy, and it’s bound to happen again. Sad Puppy spokesperson for 2016 has already been decided. That means science fiction fandom is going to be a culture war battleground for some years. That sucks, too.
  • This year’s Hugo awards will be a joke. A lot of fine works will have no chance of being awarded, while the actual winners will not be remembered for their works but for this mess. Doubleplusbad.
  • Some of the puppy-nominated individuals and magazines are starting to wake up. Not all of them apparently knew about the whole thing, even though Torgersen has stated the opposite. On the other hand, others seem to have completely bought what social injustice warriors were selling.

I have had some interesting dialogue with people on the other side of the Puppy barrier, but mostly it’s been… well, not very interesting. In the blog of Hugo-nominated Amanda Green (fan writer category), somebody was countering my bafflement over Michael Z. Williamson’s right-wing and unrelated-to-SFF joke collection’s being on the SP ballot by saying that I should shut up because MZW has been in the army. It’s fascinating, I know.

Conversations are important, however. I don’t think that nearly enough of us opinionated but ultimately friendly SF fans have told the Puppy nominees and the people who banded together to force the complete slate on the shortlist why we think this line of action was the shittiest idea in science fiction of the 21st century. I’m sure that a portion of the 250 Puppy voters hasn’t thought things through and has only listened to what Brad Torgersen has cared to tell them. Call me an optimist.

What happens next, then?

I suggest every living person who cares the slightest bit about the future of science fiction and fantasy culture (and has some money on him/her) buys a supporting membership of Sasquan right now. You’ll get a voter packet so that you can take a look at what is nominated, and then you can decide how you want to vote. That decision will be an important one, and it will determine what is the fandom’s reaction to slate-voting tactics and Tea Party joke collections.

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As far as the voting is concerned, I’m not yet sure what I will do myself. Others have already said they are going to put everything on any slate below no award. That’s a a possibility. Another one is giving serious consideration only to works and authors who were on the slate but have renounced Puppy tactics. Yet another is reading everything and giving everything a fair chance, while making it clear to authors and other fans via other means that the way this played out was disgusting. I haven’t made up my mind yet.

My plan is to read as many of the nominees as I can stomach and blog about the experience in this space. Having read the Sad Puppy offerings of last year, I don’t have my hopes very high. On the other hand, everything is possible.

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