I have not read all of the posts about the current Hugo kerfuffle, but I’ve read many. One of the posts I read, the writer said something along the lines of silence on this issues is cowardice. Well, I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to think I’m a coward.
Another article I read said that “any writer that tells you that they do not want a Hugo is lying.” I’m not going to lie. I’d love to win a Hugo. My first priority is finishing something good, but Heinlein was my hero years ago. To be a Hugo winner like him? I don’t have words to describe what that would be like.
Honestly, I don’t know if I’m a strong enough writer to ever win such an honor. But dreams don’t have to be realistic.
This whole fiasco with the Hugos bothers me for another reason. My writing resurgence is due, in part, to the Hugos. As I’ve told many people, going to WorldCon in Reno a few years ago reminded me of this part of my life that I’d neglected. What I have not mentioned often is that I almost didn’t go to Reno. I knew what the Hugos were at the time, but I didn’t know that they were given out at WorldCon. When I found out, that made up my mind. I thought back to all of those paperbacks I’d read with the words “Hugo nominated” or “Hugo award winning” on them, and I knew that I wanted to be there when the next awards were given out. I had no idea that in going to WorldCon, I’d find my people.
So, for a myriad of sentimental reasons, the Hugos are important to me. And that’s why I’m writing this post.
As of this writing, two people have withdrawn from their nominations. Connie Willis won’t be a presenter. People have said that they should hand out asterisks with the awards. George R. R. Martin has been quoted as describing the Hugos as irreparably broken.
Before going on, let me be clear about one thing: I am not on the side of the Sad Puppies or the Rabid Puppies. In an effort to be fair, I’ve read some of their posts and I’ve tried to keep an open mind. And, I’ve found flaws with their most reasonable points.
Torgersen wrote about what he called “unreliable packaging.” His assertion is that you used to be able to pick up a science fiction or fantasy story and know that it was about adventure, and not social commentary. He wrote a long post going into great detail on this, but it doesn’t hold true. Heinlein and Asimov layered meaning beneath their adventures. That’s one of the reasons they were so good.
One of the best articles I’ve read was all about data analysis. One of the things I like the post is that it provides disambiguation between the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies. It also provides some interesting data about male/female ratios of Hugo winners over the years, as well as point out correlations between Good Reads ratings and Hugo winners and nominees.
Let’s be real, though. Cold, data analysis is excellent for keeping conversations grounded, but we are way past that point now. Good writers, innocent in all of this, have been hurt. At least two have withdrawn from consideration for something that I dream about.
And then there’s that asshole that is saying that if he doesn’t win a Hugo, he’ll just keep doing this, year after year. I’m not going to type his name. I don’t think anyone should. If you want someone out of the spotlight, then quit shining it on them.
I want the Hugos to keep going. I have a couple of friends that were nominated this year. I want them to have the night of their life. I want them to win, and enjoy it, and not have to worry about their award being less than it was. I want the tradition to continue.
I don’t have much culture to draw from. There are no traditions that my family holds to with any conviction. WorldCon is the culture I identify with. I like the people that show up. I like the celebration of science fiction and fantasy. And I like the Hugos.
I hope George R. R. Martin is wrong about the Hugos. I don’t want them to be forever broken. How will I ever win one if they’re gone?
To the people that have been nominated this year: I feel for you. Whether you withdraw or stay on, I appreciate how difficult this must be for you, and I hope for the best.
To the people that are raging about the Sad Puppies: What they did with the nominations is cheating in spirit, if not specifically against the rules. That said, please try to keep your vitriol in check. I’ve seen some hyperbole about feeling physically threatened by the Sad Puppies. Don’t get this group mixed with the Rabid Puppies. The Sad Puppies are misguided jerks, but I really don’t think they’re sociopaths.
To the people that are raging about the Rabid Puppies: I hear you. Please try to stay civil, and not drop to the level of their leader. I don’t expect the Rabid Puppies to be adults, so the rest of us must step up and be better people.
To everyone that loves WorldCon: Let’s learn from this. The nomination rules can’t be changed in time for 2016, so we may have another year of this garbage, but that doesn’t mean this has to be the end. Let’s come up with a way to fix the nomination process, so this doesn’t happen again. My suggestion: insert an additional step to the process, at the beginning. This first step would be open to anyone with supporting WorldCon membership, much like it is now. Everyone can submit selections for nomination. Then, ALL submissions would be open for vote, to move on to the next round. Puppies could submit their slates all they want, but they would no longer be guaranteed spots the way they currently are.
I’ve linked to some of the articles I’ve read above. Here are some others:
On The Hugo Awards and Dysfunctional Politics
The Hugo Awards: GamerGate Edition, 2015
Hugo Award Nominations spark Criticism over Diversity in Sci-Fi
The Hugo Awards were Always Political. Now they’re Only Political
George R. R. Martin and others Speak Out Over Hugo Awards Controversy
Two Decline their Hugo Nomination