The Smoking Crater that is the Hugos

Aug 24, 2015 | The Publishing Industry


As I was kicked awake by my daughter yesterday morning around 6am, I had the delightful experience of getting the results of the Hugos live from the other side of the Atlantic. After the various Puppies-related shenanigans going on, I expect a lot of people were waiting anxiously to find out what the verdict would be. I wrote a little bit before about the Hugos and the Puppies. I will amend some of my thoughts as follows:

Larry Correia started this nonsense. George R.R. Martin showed that there was no historical political bias in the Hugo Awards, so all the bleating about groupthink and message-fiction getting the nod over better books/stories is wrong. It looks very much like Correia got butthurt that he lost a Hugo to someone else, and rather than do like the rest of us and suck it up, he’s decided that there’s some vast political conspiracy going on. Grab your tinfoil hats, people…

I cannot for the life of me figure out why the hell him and Brad Torgersen care so much about the Hugos, either way. They’re a popularity contest decided by a bunch of convention-goers, for Odin’s sake. There’s no cash award. A Hugo is a pat on the head from people who probably lean left and liberal, and Correia et al. are actually getting their knickers in a twist over how, when faced with a line-up of books/authors of equal quality, such people are more likely to pick a book/author that leans left and liberal. It’s like getting annoyed because English tea sells better than American coffee in England.

But I digress.

Regardless of why they started it initially, Correia’s point was that anyone and their dog (HAH) could rig the Hugo nominations. And also this:

I said that if authors with “unapproved” politics were to get nominations, the quality of the work would be irrelevant, and the insider cliques would do everything in their power to sabotage that person. Again, I was called a liar, so I set out to prove my point.

For the record, I think (like GRRM) that the Hugos were politically neutral. Still, Correia went out and set up the first Sad Puppies slate to get more of the ‘right kind’ of work into the Hugos, and rig the nominations in the process. He succeeded beyond the dreams of mortal men, and the Hugos nominations in most categories this year were dominated by the Sad Puppies.

And then the rest of fandom who care far too much about the Hugos collectively lost their shit and started throwing shade everywhere.

I’m not going to get into whether anyone involved in this is an evil mastermind out to destroy sci-fi and fantasy as we know it, for the same reason that I don’t get into debates about whether the Pope is really a velociraptor in disguise. (I will say, however, that my opinion of the Rabid Puppies remains unchanged and Vox Day can fuck right off.) But Correia was right. The Hugos could be rigged by a concussed duckling with an internet connection, and the reaction of his opponents was to double-down and prove, beyond a doubt, that quality meant nothing if they didn’t like how the works got onto the ballot. The slates dominated by the Puppies got sabotaged by ‘No Award’ because a lot of Hugo voters decided that the Puppies were mean-spirited dicks who needed to be punished, not because they thought everything on the ballots was unworthy of an award.

Both sides are now calling this a win. The non-Puppies are happy that the Puppies were denied all their sweet, tasty silver rockets, and the Puppies are pleased that they proved that politics can trump quality. I’m going to call it what it actually is: a fiasco that too many idiots are taking seriously, and in which everyone loses.

The Hugos are defunct no matter what happens; all their pretensions of fairly representing the whole of SFF are dead and buried in the compost heap of history. (I never really had any illusions about this, sitting as I do in self-published exile. I’ll sprout wings and fly to Jupiter before anything I write earns a Hugo, and I have never once heard of any self-published work winning one.) The tinfoil-hat-wearing Puppies are now reviled, whether deserved or not, across much of fandom. Next year, the Hugos are going to turn into a cyclone of asshattery the like of which will put this year’s awards to shame, and the Puppies are going to be blamed to hell and back for it. Good job, guys, hope that particular hill was worth dying on.

Once again, this is why I like to sit out here with the rest of the indie crowd. By and large, we don’t have to deal with this level of stupid. The only awards that count are the monthly sales figures.

(It was still awesome that Julie Dillon got Best Professional Artist. Regardless of what I think of the Hugos in general, her art is simply sublime.)

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have the second book of a trilogy to write. I can’t be having with all this silliness.