Once upon a time, for a short while, I was an enthusiastic Old School SF fan. I attended Worldcons, read through everything nominated for the Hugo awards, (at least those things I could get my hands on) and voted happily. I eventually gafiated lo these three decades gone now, and I know well that the Hugos are as likely to be popularity contests as they are to be signifiers of quality.(Often popularity and quality overlap, which is not quite totally germane to this.) Still, the Hugos have a place in my memory and in my heart, because they are part of what introduced me to a) some pretty decent writing and b) fandom - which is, possibly, even more important.
That's why I was disheartened to learn that a group of people who believe that fandom has been improperly taken over by folks who aren't, by and large, white, cis-gendered, straight males (and a few good-looking white-cis-gendered straight females) and who have apparently dedicated themselves to fighting the good fight against such people, have succeeded in loading the 2015 Hugo Awards ballot with nominations for books, stories, television episodes, fanzines, movies, etc., etc. that they believe are more worthy. They invited folks with whom they are sympatico, including many in the G*merg*te community to join them in block voting for those worthy offerings. They thus succeeded in filling up many, if not all, the slots in most, if not every, Hugo category.
It makes me sad and angry for several reasons. Not least of which is, of course, that I have slid into that spectrum of fandom that these folks, the self-named "Sad Puppies," call Social Justice Warriors, or SJWs. Perhaps I always had that bent, but it's gotten more pronounced over the last nine years or so - hey, just about the same time period that I've been in online LJ/DW, Who/fanfic fandom! Hmmm.... But I digress. Yes, I like to think of myself as a progressive, so I imagine I'm immediately classed by these folks as "the enemy." Their loss, not mine, but as you can imagine, I'm not happy to see what they've done.
There are other reasons I'm unhappy with this. As much as I know the Hugos have always been political in some ways, have always been popularity contests in some ways ... I still respected them, and thought that other fans respected them, too.
This move doesn't signal either respect for the field of science fiction (which is, as we know, what I point to when I say "science fiction") or for fandom. And that makes me angry.
Yet another reason: there are, perhaps, some books, stories, movies, etc., on the "Sad Puppies" slate that would be worthy of peoples' time and votes - but because they have been placed on the slate, a lot of people who want to protest the Breitbart-like reactionary mouth-frothing and self-pity-sodden moves of the "Sad Puppies" will vote No Award rather than vote for them. And that's understandable, given that apparently most of those whose work is on the SP slate have allowed their names to stay on that slate, which doesn't, in my opinion, speak well for them. Still, their works should have stood or fallen on their own, not because of an admittedly fully understandable reaction against the SP.
So why should I care? After all, I haven't gone to a Worldcon since 1986 or so, and I fell out of the habit of reading a lot of SF or fantasy as well. (Why? Because Fanfic ... ahem ....) It's probably true that few people outside the world of science fiction fandom pay attention to the Hugos, although they are better known to the general public now than they might have been 30 years ago, when I was still voting for them. And this could easily be dismissed as a tempest in a teapot. But it angers me that people whose philosophies are, by their very nature, exclusionary and reeking of fear and hatred of change and the new, are doing this to something I care about.
Especially when these people have the unmitigated gall, or apparent cultural tone-deafness, to say they are doing it in the name of inclusion and returning the Hugos to diversity and anti-authoritarian forward thinking. No, really, that's what they're saying. Because John W. Campbell-White-Guys-Finish-First SF is under attack from everywhere - everywhere, I tell you ... sweet, weeping jesus. Haven't these guys ever read The Futurians, or The Way The Future Was? Even some of the stalwarts of White Guys Finish First SF were the kind of people from whom the Sad Puppies would recoil in horror.
Anyhow, here are links to a few current news pieces and opinion pieces about the fun and games (not all of which are in lockstep with each other.)
Here are thoughts by people I trust and respect about said fun and games.
Here's a link to the official Hugo ballot, and a link to what would be the "No Sad Puppies" ballot.
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