Saturday, April 11, 2015


A friend of mine, who has been a successful politician and generally has a better grasp of political issues than I (Aaron) do but who is not an SF/F insider, asked me why I'm opposed to the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies, when they've gotten favorable coverage from conservative sites like Breitbart and The Federalist (which I would usually trust over the mainstream news media), which have characterized the Hugos as another battleground in the right vs. left culture war.

I think the reason the conservative press has been so wrong about this is these are people used to analyzing political issues, and the Hugo Awards are NOT a political contest, at least they weren't until this year. I offered this analogy:

For a lot of science fiction and fantasy fans, the Hugo Awards are a highlight of the year, like March Madness to a big college basketball fan. Imagine some right-wingers were upset because they believed the NCAA selection committee had disfavored conservative evangelical schools in the past. And they managed to get a group of their people on the selection committee. So all the fans eagerly awaiting the bracket announcement are shocked and outraged to see that the tournament doesn't include Kentucky or Duke or Wisconsin or 23 of the AP Top 25 teams. They've all been left out in favor of Bob Jones U., Liberty U., etc.

There would be a giant controversy, and the people who caused it would claim that it's all part of the liberal vs. conservative culture war. But it is not. It's a war between college basketball fans and the fucking assholes who wrecked March Madness.


Fantastic Reviews said...

I'm Amy, the webmaster and other reviewer here at Fantastic Reviews. I tend to disagree with Aaron on politics, but I agree with Aaron about the terrible gaming of this year's Hugo Award nominations.

The block voting of the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies supporters overwhelmed all other voters in the short fiction categories. Everybody else's story nominees didn't stand a chance. The Puppies chosen story nominees not only overwhelmed the choices of liberals and the so-called SJWs, but also the choices of other conservatives. The Puppies organizers, several people, became ballot dictators. That sucks.

Rob said...

As a person who identifies as conservative too, I'm very dismayed by this.

I've seen a noticeable bias toward the left in the selection of Hugo winners. In that bias there's always going to be a choice of message along with story. But I never felt my personal assessment equated to objective truth, and in every choice (except for one which I won't get into) it was clear that story was first and message was not. Also, the SF crowd as I see it tends to lean to the left, and it's not humanly possible to ask someone to be so objective as to throw out every semblance of bias.

These three authors have a demonstrated influence (though they may not have known it at the beginning) and it would have been possible to sponsor some other set of awards that would a) try hard to be objective, b) be blatantly political yet show them liberals that we can write a rollicking good story too.

I think there's room for a and b and even more. In fact I've often thought the SF literary world has gotten extensive enough that it could easily afford a few more 'best' stories every year. It only takes a couple weeks to read the awarded pieces, and the amount of published work in the SF/F field has grown hugely since then.

TCHall said...

As a member of SP 1&2 I can assure you that herding cats would be easier than getting the Sad Puppies crowd to do anything in unison.

The "Slate" is, and always has been a list of works to READ and CONSIDER.

OTOH, the phrase "I don't have to read it to know it's terrible" isn't something you're going to find a SP saying...

Give us a tiny break, we're FANS... most of us for more than 20 years (50+ for me)

We deserve to express our opinion about Science Fiction, Fantasy, and related works just as much as anyone else interested in supporting the Hugos...

Fantastic Reviews said...


Thanks for commenting.

I respect that you're a fan. As I've said from the outset, I do not agree with any genre insider who says the Sad Puppies are not "real" fans.

That said, it's silly to deny that this was a slate. Brad and Vox Day both published a list of what to nominate. Of the 52 items on both lists, 48 got nominated. As far as I can tell, the Sad Puppies did not nominate anything that wasn't on either of the two variations of the slate. That is what bloc voting looks like.

You will also never hear me saying I don't have to read something to say it's terrible. So far I've avoided saying anything about the quality of this year's SP/RP slate, because I haven't yet read most of it.

But I read last year's entire ballot. Some of the SP nominees were decent. And I believe that Vox Day story was the worst piece of fiction ever to find its way onto the ballot, the Plan 9 from Outer Space of Hugo nominees.

Either a lot of Sad Puppies weren't reading what they nominated last year, or they are not at all serious about their claims to want to bring high-quality works to the voters' attention.