The April 4 announcement of this year’s Hugo Awards shortlist, which are voted on by members of the annual World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), was met with bewildered and outraged responses on Twitter and on various sf websites. At issue, as Charlie Jane Anders noted in her post for the io9 blog, is the politicization of what should have been a selection process based on literary merit.
Beyond the Best Novel category, which included Nebula nominees Ann Leckie (Ancillary Sword) and Katherine Addison (The Goblin Emperor), most of the final choices in the other categories (Best Novella, Best Novelette, Best Short Stories, Best Related Work) came from two fan block-voting campaigns, one called Sad Puppies organized by sf authors Brad R. Torgersen and Larry Correia. and the Rabid Puppies slate headed by fantasy writer. Vox Day (real name Theodore Beale),.
The Urban Dictionary defines the term “Sad Puppies” as a male pushover type who bows down to females,” a not-surprising choice of a name for politically conservative (and shall we say misguidedly misogynistic) sf writers upset by last year’s Hugo winners, a mostly younger group of women and people of color. In organizing their campaign, Torgersen and Correia criticized the current “fandom” as elitist and out of touch with pop culture. “This is just one little battle in an ongoing culture war between artistic free expression and puritanical bullies who think they represent ‘real’ fandom,” writes Correia on his Monster Hunter Nation website.
While Sad Puppies may have been within the nominating rules of the Hugos, many fans plan to vote “No Award” in every category except “Best Novel. Some authors on the Puppies’ slates are turning down their nominations, but there is no word yet whether Jim Butcher (Skin Game), Kevin J. Anderson (The Dark Between the Stars), and Markos Kloos (Lines of Departure) will follow suit.
The winners will be announced August 22 at the 2015 WorldCon in Spokane, WA, so stay tuned for more drama.
After I posted this story, I decided to check with Megan McArdle, LJ‘s sf/fantasy columnist, to get the librarian perspective on this controversy:
“I think the reality is that no one really looks at anything but the best novel category. Librarians buy based on the winner of that category and maybe the short list but aren’t really aware of anything beyond that. and the short list this year proves that category is fairly game-proof. I think it is a really sad stunt by a vocal segment of the fandom who resent the attention and critical acclaim that new authors are getting who happen to be women and persons of color. The thing that scares me about the whole thing is that it threatens to undo all the work that librarians and reviewers like me are trying to do to show the diversity of the sf/fantasy genres— how you can find every kind of story here, and fans of every age, gender, race and background. It seems that the SP/RP fans don’t want that diversity of story or fanbase. We’ve crashed their clubhouse where the sign clearly says ‘”NO GIRLS ALLOWED.” But really, that’s their problem. We’re here to stay”