Jim C. Hines does one of the most thorough histories of the Sad Puppies I’ve seen. It’s also one of the most damning, since Hines gives very little editorial and instead relies on collecting quotes from Puppies like Correia and Torgersen.
The sad part for me, in reading this, is realising that I… kinda agree with Correia. At least when he says things like:
The ugly truth is that the most prestigious award in sci-fi/fantasy is basically just a popularity contest, where the people who are popular with a tiny little group of WorldCon voters get nominated and thousands of other works are ignored.
Which is an opinion I don’t think I’ve been shy about expressing: that’s what the point of this post was, for example.
Where I do differ is politics, obviously–I’m not at all convinced WorldCon has been subverted by some kind of international SJW conspiracy,1 or that would even be a problem if it were–and also in… organisation? I guess is probably the best way of putting it. Because yeah, I’d like to see more of fandom get directly involved with the Hugos, as opposed to treating them as some rarified Other, looked at and admired, but never touched.2 But what that means for which people and works win what categories… meh. You do you, kids. I live in a country where it’s compulsory to vote in government elections, so to me, just turning up and getting your name ticked off the roll is the achievement.
Because if the Hugos are a popularity award for SFF fandom, then, yanno. Maybe that’s who should be voting in them. And I’m pretty sure SFF fandom is more than about 2,000 people, no matter which works are getting rocketed.
That being said, I finished Three-Body Problem on the weekend, and… wow. What a book. And what a polar opposite in so, so many ways to Goblin Emperor, at that.
Speaking of which, here’s a segue into Hines again:
More central to the Sad Puppies, when I see Brad railing against “affirmative action” fiction, I see a man who seems utterly incapable of understanding sometimes people write “non-default” characters not because they’re checking off boxes on a quota, but because those are the stories they want to tell, and the characters they want to write about. Dismissing all of those amazing, wonderful, and award-winning stories as nothing but affirmative-action cases? Yeah, that sounds pretty bigoted to me.
Indeed. I mean, you wanna talk affirmative action? Then, okay. Let’s talk affirmative action. And by that, I mean in the sense N.K. Jemisin points out, which we usually call “the boy’s club”. Because this? That right there is the definition of “affirmative action”; the definition of politically driven quota-ticking. There is no universe in which Wisdom From my Internet could get onto the Hugo ballot legitimately. I know it’s gauche to trash-talk other authors but c’mon. It’s not even SFF! Sure, you can have an argument about the SFF-ness of, say, “If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love“, but at least it’s an argument. Wisdom From my Internet isn’t even that.
Although, let’s be real, I maybe kinda would like to live in a universe where “wordvomit from my racist uncle” was so outré as to be considered specfic.
We can only dream, I guess.
- Actually, the Puppies’ argument is even worse, since it seems to be saying that WorldCon fandom is “niche” and “academic” and adverse to “visceral, gut-level, swashbuckling fun”. To which I would say… bro. Bro, srsly bro. Srsly. I guess Torgersen just has a different definition of “visceral, gut-level, swashbuckling fun” than me, and since his probably doesn’t include things like “doesn’t treat people as subhuman because of their race, gender, sexuality, or physical or mental ability” then, yeah. Yeah I think this is a pretty fair thing to say. Sorry not sorry I don’t find bigoted stuff to be “swashbuckling fun”, I guess. ^
- Which, incidentally, is the main response on Tumblr to the fandom-in-the-Hugos post. Even people who regularly vote in the Hugos admit to not making the connection that they can actually, yanno. Nominate the works and artists they actually like, as opposed to the ones they think they’re supposed to like for the purpose of the award. ^