The Hugo Awards Controversy

I’ve been obsessed with this issue for some time now, so here’s my two cents (and no, I won’t pay anybody two cents to read this).  I’m taking the Puppy arguments from several sites and their comment sections.  They are probably not held by all the Sad and Rabid Puppy followers, but they are representative.

Cent One: The Sad and Rabid Puppy slates don’t work, and will eventually turn around and bite the people who created them.  By showing the effectiveness of recruiting voters, you make this into a contest of numbers, not quality.  And, considering demographics and mortality rates, I think the 21st century is going to beat the 20th in that fight.

Cent Two: Their reasoning isn’t going to win the Puppies a new generation of converts and so boost their numbers.  For example, one of the Puppy arguments I’ve run across is that Hugo-winners are preachy, the so-called SJWs (sidebar: I’m ashamed to say it took me forever to figure out who they were mad at, Single Jewish Women?  Slow Jesuit Wardens?).  But have the Puppies read Heinlein or Niven and Pournelle?  Their old-timey sic-fi adventures are infomercials for their politics, and not very subtle ones either.  By the time I was 18, I was yelling, “Shut up and tell the story!” at my last Heinlein books.  A second irritating point is the puppies claim the current Hugoists are too literary . . .for a literary award.  Yikes!

As a writer with no awards and never a hope for a Hugo, I can say this with the utmost objectivity: stop messing with the system just because the results offend you.  Create your own awards.  Or better yet, vote as an individual and leave slates for the world of politics.  I’m afraid I won’t change a single Puppy’s mind with this blog, because for them, the Hugo Awards are political.  It follows then that writing itself is political, and, by extension, all art.  If art is political, it must serve the politics of its maker.  Come to think of it, that’s what Chairman Mao said.  Maybe he was a secret Puppy.

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3 Responses to The Hugo Awards Controversy

  1. RAH says:

    I saw your post on File 770 and thought I would respond. I think your first cent is possible and your second has a lot of truth. Heinlein did incorporate a lot of message.

    However I find it difficult that you did not know the SJW term and that applies to those those who use social media to try hound people out of job. Comet guy as an example. Brendon Eich is another. Tim Hunt is the latest victim.

    It is the the use to that gets rid of people who say the political incorrect word or phrase. .

    In SFWA circles Barry Malzburg and Mike Resnick were victims because they reminisced about the figure of a woman editor they knew. Harmless stuff yet unacceptable and they were forced out on the column.
    Those that are affected are not conservative usually.

    As to the award this focus on slates ( recomeended nomination list ) is silly. Vote your choice in the final vote and next year put up your own choices.
    The fact that RP managed to stack the nominations with 200 votes is sad. If that few care then it is easy to get a few to change things. Just like SJW does when they force a change. Vocal minorities attempting to swamp an issue .

    As to the system As a writer and member is their right to suggest rule changes or use the current system to put forth your own choice. If voters agree then that is fair also.

    I also find the Hugos are losing relevance since they fail to coincide with popular sales. It is surprising that David Weber’s, Honor Harrington books never were nominated. Many fans are reading those books. Only because Larry actively asked for support like many other authors have done that his book was chosen a couple of time to be nominated.

    So the point that recent award winners are not known or liked by the reading public is a problem. In the past authors often won that were well known and liked and read by fans. I am not speaking fans that attend cons, but the readers.

    I though Flint’s suggestion of SAGA is a good one since so many works that readers buy are series.

    • admin says:

      Thank you, Rah, for your thoughts. I’m afraid I really had no idea what SJW meant, but remember that jargon usually exists to separate the insiders from the outsiders. If you’re not part of the group, communication goeth slowly. As for your contention that sales should be a deciding factor (because the Hugos are losing relevance by not taking it into account), sorry, I don’t agree. It should be a factor that makes a piece of writing worth considering, but not necessarily nominating. Doc Savage pulp novels were very popular back in the day, but if they ever won a literary award, well, they shouldn’t have. Perhaps in fifty years there will be Honor Harrington cons or maybe only scholars will read them and write dusty papers on the forgotten classics of the Kardashian Age. Who knows?
      Aside: I was on a panel with David Weber at a con, and he seemed like a good guy, not seriously depressed about Hugo rejection. I’m sure checking his sales data on Amazon and counting the money helps 🙂

  2. Greg says:

    This is not the first time I’ve seen Brandon Eich or Tim Hunt come up, and I have to remind folks that they have *nothing to do with the Hugos.* Or Worldcon. I didn’t call for either of them to be fired, and AFAIK, nobody from any Worldcon played a role in their firing. This is a huge part of the problem this year; lots of people were angry about *other issues,* and decided that those *other issues* were enough to slate the Hugos “out of spite” (as Larry Correia said last year).

    I’ll also note that it’s been easy to game the Hugos for 60 years; anyone *could* have done it, but Worldcon voters, up until this year, made a very deliberate *choice* not to. To equate rabid puppies choosing to violate an honor system that everyone else chose to uphold with people not caring is disingenuous.

    Sometimes the Hugos do line up with popular sales; Red Shirts was a New York Times bestseller. Sometimes they don’t; this higher sales *has to* equal higher quality is nonsense (which is a better movie from 1982: the low-grossing at the time Blade Runner, or the high-grossing Porky’s?). I would not at all mind seeing David Drake get a Hugo nomination, but part of that would depend on him writing one of the best five novels of the year.

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