I’ve been quiet about the Hugos up until now. It isn’t that I am any less convinced in the right of the fans to nominate works they feel are worthy of winning that award — a fan award — than before. In fact, if anything, I am more convinced of it than ever. No, I’ve stayed quiet because life has been busy and I’ve been head down writing most of the year. However, now that the nominees — sorry, finalists — have been announced, I feel I need to make a couple of comments.
First, I want to applaud Kate Paulk for doing exactly what she said she would do with Sad Puppies 4. She continued what Brad Torgersen started, making SP4 totally transparent. She set up a website where anyone — and I do mean anyone — could recommend titles they felt worthy of Hugo consideration. Those recommendations were visible to anyone who wanted to look. When the time came for Hugo nominations, she collated all the recommendations and listed the top 10 in each category (I believe there were a few categories where there weren’t enough recommendations to make 10 but I could be wrong). She posted those as well as linked to where every recommendation could be seen in table format. There was no attempt to filter the list because of who wrote it or what their political bent might be or by what the “message” of the work might be.
During the course of the year, Kate came under some attack — all false — and she continued doing what she said she would do. She ran SP4 in such an open and honest way that the attacks were laughable. So, again, kudos to Kate for her hard work. She proved the accusations that the Sad Puppy movement was about nothing more than making sure misogynistic white males of a conservative bent were nominated.
Second, I wish I could say I was surprised by how quickly the condemnations from the “Real Fans” began after the Hugo finalists were announced. But I’m not. The laments on Twitter and Facebook started even before the finalists were announced. Within an hour of the list being made public, one author said she didn’t have the strength to go through the next however many months of Hugo fighting so she needed to go workout. Scalzi had a piece published claiming that the Puppies couldn’t take credit for Neil Gaiman’s success (and I am still trying to figure that one out. Where in the hell did anyone associated with either the Sad Puppies or the Rabids claim that?). Steve Davidson had his hit piece ready to go and, from what I gather, is already posturing for a Noah Ward slate — of course, he doesn’t call it a slate. It seems when he recommends voting a certain way, that’s not a slate.
One of the comments I saw on Facebook came from someone who really has a hard-on for the Puppies. He feels that we stole the award from authors last year and are doing so again this year. According to him, the nominees this year have made the Hugo an award that is no longer an honor. Hmm. An award that is supposed to be a fan award, that saw more nominations than ever before, is no longer an honor to win because what? Because the wrong fans are the ones voting?
Sour grapes anyone?
I said it last year and I will say it again, there is a group of Fans who have decided they basically own the Hugo. They are the only ones with the right to say who votes and who wins. What has happened the last few years have proven it. They blame the Puppies for ripping apart fandom but that isn’t true. What has happened is that the fans of science fiction have been reminded that they do have a voice and the Fans don’t like it. At least not a group of those Fans (note I am not talking about the every day fans, the ones like you and me who pay to read the books, to go to the movies and who have supported the genre in our own way for years and years. The difference is that we don’t necessarily go to the “right” cons, etc.)
Third, and worse in many ways, are the attacks I’ve seen this morning on Facebook focusing on Moira Greyland. Her article, The Story of Moira Greyland, is a finalist this year in the Best Related Work category. This morning, yet again from a science fiction author, I saw a comment about how, after reading the post, the author felt sick. Now, I will give her the benefit of the doubt and hope she meant she felt sick after reading about everything Ms. Greyland suffered. However, in the comments to her FB post, there was no doubt that some of her “friends” felt Ms. Greyland was the offending party. She was wrong for airing the genre’s dirty laundry in public. She was wrong for being damaged by what happened to her. Most of all, she was wrong is letting the wrong people — Puppies, you know — support her. Lost was the message that she had been a victim. Hell, she is still a victim because there are those in Fandom who would rather not discuss what happened and would blame her for making it public.
And yet the Puppies are evil and tearing Fandom apart.
Then there is the tale of Tom Mays. His short story made the finals for this year’s Hugo. He accepted the nomination when he was notified by the Hugo Committee. In his post, he notes he did so with some trepidation because of the possibility of Vox and company filling the nominations this year. He had hoped there would not be “manipulation of the process” or “agenda” by one group shown when the final nominees were announced. Since it is now clear Vox and company managed to “manipulate” the process, he is withdrawing his short story from consideration. I won’t condemn Mr. Mays for his decision. It is obvious from his post that he put a lot of thought in before making it. My concern is that this is just the first of who knows how many titles that were nominated by fans — by people who truly believed the title deserves a Hugo — that will be withdrawn. How are those fans going to respond when an author they like suddenly says their vote isn’t as worthy as someone else’s?
Here’s the thing. Those in the Hugo contretemps who self-identify as Fans have made it very clear that they don’t want pesky outsiders involved in the process. They have taken steps to have the rules amended to make it more difficult for anyone to be nominated. they have accused Sad Puppies and Rabid alike of manipulating the system. And yet they see nothing wrong with manipulating the system last year to No Award so many of the categories. They lament the fact that “deserving” authors didn’t make it onto the ballot but they have no problem whatsoever preventing authors and artists the fans feel deserve a fan award.
So what did they tell us to do. They told us to leave the Hugo alone and go start our own award. Then, when DragonCon announced the Dragon Awards, they laughed and pointed their fingers. They said the award wouldn’t last. After all, it was being given out by a “small” regional con. Pardon me while I laugh hysterically. This sort of comment coming from those who support an award that for years was lucky to get a couple of hundred votes cast just shows how out of touch with the public and with the fans they are.
The Dragon Awards are exactly what a fan award should be. You don’t have to pay for the privilege to nominate or vote. All you have to do is register online. You can embrace your inner geekdom and fandom and not worry about someone condemning you because you might not be of the same political or social ilk as the next guy. It is a celebration of the genre, something the Hugo used to be.
So here’s the thing. Let the Fans have the Hugo. Vox has already pretty much burned it down anyway. Let the Fans have the award they can be “proud” of. Let the Hugo fade into obscurity. Wait, it pretty much already has where the every day fan is concerned. Fandom is aging. Fandom (with a small f) is growing. We see it with the ever increasing size of the various Comic-Con conventions. We see it with the increasing size of DragonCon. Those cons will help save fandom. I’m not sure Fandom can be, not as long as it continues to insulate itself from the rest of us.
So here’s my recommendation. If you are going to vote for the Hugos, do so based solely on one criterion. Do you believe the work deserves to win the Hugo, a fan award that once meant everything in the genre and not just to some fans and authors but to fandom in general? If you do, then vote for it. Do not vote for something — or against it — because of who nominated it. Vote on the work. Does it entertain? Is it well-written? If it has a message, did you enjoy that, learn from it or did it beat you over the head until you wanted to throw it against the wall?
In other words, unlike the other side, I’m advocating that you judge the work itself and nothing else. For me, I’m registering for the Dragon Awards and casting my vote there. Then I’ll stand back and watch Vox bring the Hugos to their knees because Fandom was foolish enough to think they could push him into a corner and he would back down.