So the Hugo nominees have been announced…
I didn’t actually manage to get my own nominations in this year, sadly — I couldn’t get the website to work properly, but it wouldn’t have mattered because everything I nominated was small press stuff that only I would have nominated.
The “Sad Puppies” did, however, manage to get their nominations in, and got nearly a clean sweep of the nominations. Many of the nominations that weren’t from their slate were from “Vox Day”s overlapping slate, including “Day” himself, a man who has advocated throwing acid into the face of women and claims that black people are not homo sapiens.
This has caused a lot of controversy among SF fans, and I’m going to briefly explain why.
There are a group of science fiction writers, loosely centred around the right-wing author Larry Correia, who believe that real science fiction and fantasy is what they write, and that everything else is tainted by the evil social justice warriors. I’ve written a little about this group last year, and I’ll be dealing with their thought processes more in another post I plan to write, but for now just accept this group exists. They are mostly Mormon, almost exclusively white right-wing males, and regarded by most SF fans as hacks, though some of them are relatively popular hacks.
Two years ago, Correia launched what he called the “Sad Puppies” campaign, to get himself and his friends nominated for Hugo awards. As with many right-wing “we’re the silent majority not like you liberal elitist” campaigns, the argument seemed to be simultaneously “we will do this and prove we are better by winning the award” and “we will do this and prove things are biased against us by losing even though we’re clearly better”.
The latter happened — Correia and his friends lost, in a big way.
Last year, Correia repeated the campaign, this time including “Vox Day” to stir up some extra controversy, so if he and his friends lost it was clearly because people were politically biased against them. While my politics are as far from Correia’s as possible, I can say as a Hugo voter last year who read all the nominated works that the reason the Sad Puppies lost is because the work they nominated ranged from the barely competent to the utterly shit. Just on a basic writing level, most of the people nominated couldn’t actually put together sentences that were worth reading, and their ideas of plots were mostly old hat in the 1930s. Given that there were books and stories by good writers on the list, it was inevitable that anyone comparing them would go for the books with plots and ideas and well-written sentences.
This year, they’ve tried another tack. Brad Torgerson, the least obviously ideologically-motivated of the Sad Puppies (in that he merely sneers about queer and trans people while feigning politeness, rather than advocating their murder as “Day” does) put together the list, and has acted as a smiling “gosh gee all we want is some good old-fashioned storytelling” frontman, but in the background they’ve been recruiting people from Gamergate.
Now, in theory I have no problem with that — well, actually, that’s a lie, I have a HUGE fucking problem with Gamergate, given that one of their two biggest targets is the partner of one of my friends, and if you send death and rape threats to my friends’ partners, I am going to have problems with you. But ignoring things like that, the problem is what this does to the Hugos.
You see, anyone with a membership to Worldcon can nominate for the Hugos, and then the five things in each category that get the most nominations go on the ballot. Last year, when the “Sad Puppies” were keeping within SF fandom, this was fine. They got a couple of things in each category on the ballot, and people could vote for them or not as they chose. Mostly they chose not.
This time, the Sad Puppies have swamped the nominations with people who aren’t SF fans, who don’t read SF, but who want to “humble SJW” and “fight the SJW infection” (SJW — right-wing arseholes’ abbreviation for “Social Justice Warrior”, their term for anyone who cares about anyone other than straight white cis men). And this causes a problem, because they nominated as a bloc.
While people nominating based on their own actual taste will all be nominating different things — some might nominate Charles Stross, or Ann Leckie, or John Scalzi, or even some of the Sad Puppy slate like maybe Kevin Anderson, whoever they think wrote the best book — the “Sad Puppies” were all nominating the same five things in each category. And as such they’ve swamped the ballot paper.
In some categories, one or two non-Sad-Puppy nominations made it — Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Sword, for example, was so hugely popular that no-one could keep it off, and the same goes for Doctor Who and Game of Thrones in the drama categories — but the Sad Puppies and their friends make up all or nearly all of the nominations.
This is strictly within the rules, but it’s the worst kind of entryism in that it denies the majority a voice.
The majority of SF fans have proved, for several years running, that they simply don’t like the work of the Sad Puppy faction. They think the only way they can get an award, then, is to stop there being a non-Sad-Puppy option on the ballot. They’re probably right about that.
Except for one thing. There’s a No Award option on the ballot. If everyone uses that option — either because they genuinely think that nothing the Sad Puppies have nominated deserves an award on its own merits, or because they want to protest against entryism, or both — then no award will be given.
Personally, I’d rather see no award be given than to reward entryism, especially entryism using a group (Gamergate) that in my mind are only not considered a terrorist group because they’re white men who target less-privileged women.
I urge EVERYONE who can afford a supporting membership to worldcon this year to buy one, read the entries, and give your honest opinion in the vote. I will, of course, be reading everything before I vote on anything, but given the subliterate, cretinous, shit that these people spew out and call stories, I don’t think there’ll be many things getting a preference below “No Award” this year.
Edit April 7 I’ve added a roundup of links to discussions of this by people who aren’t cis white men. I’m quite uncomfortable with the amount of traffic this blog post has received, because these people’s targets are women, LGBT+ people, and PoCs, and as a straight cis white man my opinion shouldn’t drown out theirs. If you’re at all interested in this issue, please also read those posts.