Hugo Scandal 2015

If I can’t have the toy, then I will destroy the toy

Here at Anarcho-Geek Review, we care about two things: anarchism, that glorious ideal of liberty and diversity; and geekery, the loving embrace of imaginary worlds and lives. Oh, and reviews.

With our professed love of liberty, diversity, and the imagination, we were obviously ecstatic to hear that a group of freedom-leaning rebels were fighting against “the stranglehold of old cliques by encouraging a more politically diverse group of fans to take part in the annual Hugo Awards.”

In fact, these “Sad Puppies,” as they call themselves, are trying to “draw attention to an atmosphere of political intolerance, driven by so-called ‘social justice warriors,’ that is holding the medium back.”

Oh, wait, what the fuck?

Basically, a group of right-wingers have decided to game the Hugo Awards, organizing in a troll-ish fashion to get their candidates on the ballot and to wipe out the evil scourge of ethnic, gender/sexuality, and political diversity that has been slowly growing in the world of science fiction. Insult to injury, they’ve declared themselves to be doing this in the name of diversity and anti-authoritarianism.

On one side, you have conservatives who miss a mythical era when science fiction was apolitical (completely ignoring the fact that “apolitical” inherently means “unquestioning of the political status quo”). On the other side, you have everyone else. On that side’s extreme, you have people who, realizing that everything is political, haven’t yet come to realize that this means that everything is flawed and that all of us will create imperfect work.

Sad Puppies is proof that our language, the language of diversity-as-a-positive-thing, is the dominant discourse. Even the conservatives want in.

Right-wing “libertarians” are kind of hilarious when they stay impotent and far away. After all, who doesn’t secretly love a cute little brat kid who doesn’t quite get it that not everything in the world is about them and goes on to make absurd claims that truth is fiction, up is down, and the accumulation of economic power into a small number of hands can be considered “anti-authoritarian.” Unfortunately, the world seems to be run by such brats, all grown up and still just as spoiled. It’s not so cute anymore.

These sad puppies say they are for “political diversity.” What they mean is they romanticize the era of science fiction when fiction advocating the status quo was given prominence over all other possible viewpoints. They’re sour that they aren’t in charge anymore. It’s wrong to say that they’re trying to wrest control of the Hugos, though: what they’re trying to do is destroy everything nice. If they can’t have it, no one can. (It is for this reason that Sad Puppies founder Larry Correia statement about refusing his Hugo nomination rings false. He claims he is rejecting the nomination because the campaign isn’t about him and he’s afraid his nomination would undermine the cause. In fact, I contend, he is rejecting his nomination because Sad Puppies isn’t about winning Hugo awards — it’s about exerting power.)

The Hugo awards are, alongside the Nebula awards, the most prestigious awards in the English-language science fiction world. They’ve been around since 1953. They’re voted on by the membership of WorldCon. Because you can pay for a membership, the sad puppies are leveraging their economic might to get their way.

Now, I’m not saying straight white cis-male conservative authors shouldn’t be writing fiction. But this sour grapes thing is bullshit. Doing this Sad Puppies thing in the name of “diversity” is laughable, on one hand, and on the other hand, is proof that our language, the language of diversity-as-a-positive-thing, is the dominant discourse. Even the conservatives want in. Doing this thing in the name of “anti-authoritarianism” is insane. Power structures such as white supremacism, patriarchy, and capitalism are every bit as authoritarian as the state. There is no such thing as conservative or right-wing anti-authoritarianism.

It’s also based on a faulty premise, that contemporary awards are skewed to the political left and for more “literary” works by a small clique of “Social Justice Warriors.” This claim has been masterfully torn asunder by George R. R. Martin and Matthew David Surridge for Black Gate Magazine (the latter of whom refused its Hugo nomination when it found out it was on the Sad Puppies voting slate, because the writer disagreed so much with the premise of Sad Puppies [corrected to indicate that it was the author, not the magazine, that turned down a nomination]).

There’s an upside to this. As a reader, it’s convenient when assholes out themselves: it gives us a handy list of writers you can pretty much safely ignore (including Sad Puppies founders Brad R. Torgersen and Larry Correia as well as Rabid Puppies founder Vox Day). And as a member of the science fiction world, I can say: these are the desperate acts of a losing force. The status quo of straight white cis-male domination is ending. We are winning, and they know it. They’re salting the earth in their retreat, but we’re winning.

17 thoughts on “Hugo Scandal 2015”

  1. > and on the other hand, is proof that our language, the language of diversity-as-a-positive-thing, is the dominant discourse.

    I’m seeing this trend all over the place, “our” language/frame used for, well, honestly oppressive ends. I think it’s something to start reconning with.

    It’s the language without the actual politics, with in fact opposed politics. If you talk about “diversity”, “tolerance”, “multi-culturalism”, and even “safe spaces”, without talking about the realities of white supremacy and patriarchy and capitalism — you get concepts that it’s easier to get the mainstream to accept, but in that acceptance not only coopt and neuter them, but (ultimately) even start using them for ‘evil’.

    One battleground I’ve been noticing this on, is in campus Palestine solidarity struggles. Zionist campus organizations have been using the language of “tolerance” and “safety” to basically claim the very existence of Palestine solidarity organizing makes Jewish students “unsafe”. By which they really mean ‘uncomfortable’, and ‘our’ side bears some responsibility for an individualistic (rather then systemic) focus on ‘safety’ which has blurred the lines between ‘comfort’ and ‘safety’ to begin with.

    Of course, it should be obvious that the goals of “sad puppies” aren’t really diversity at all, in fact they have done the opposite and enforced a monoculture in the nominations.

  2. As I mentioned on Correia’s blog, before all this Sad Puppies drama when I saw “Hugo Award Winning” on a book I would think “hmmm, I wonder what they liked about it.” Now when I see “Hugo Award” I think “So what? Big deal.”

    Of course I’m just an avid reader who sometimes reviews with a small, private book group of only a couple hundred. Most of my group is pretty saddened by the drama, too.

    They’ve ruined the Hugo Award and it no longer means anything.

  3. I read your article. I find it to be very one sided. I have read what Larry Correia said about not accepting the nomination. While I do not agree with some of his political views, I do enjoy his books. He has always been honest and forthcoming in his opinions. Sometimes honest to the point of being extremely blunt. So I am not sure what criteria you are using to call him a liar in this article. I am also very sure Cedar Sanderson and Amanda Green, who were also nominated, are not a white males. But, perhaps you are using the same criteria to judge that as you did for Larry. Your paradigm is perhaps different from mine.
    Honestly, as a reader, I have read most of the SP3 nominees. I find them to be good stories, that is my criteria for reading a book. I happen to be in the process of moving. I am trying to get rid of some of my books. Because this idiocy was going on, I looked to see how many of Tor authors, yes I do see where the protest is coming from, I actually have in my library. Not many, and none current. But that is my taste and where I choose to spend my money.
    This whole thing, that the liberals started, have made the whole genre look like spoiled brats. If my side can’t win then I am going to quit and not play anymore. This damages all of us. And it certainly reinforces the perception that Science Fiction is for teens and children.

    1. One-sided? Yes. We are on the side of anarchism here at anarchogeekreview. Liberal, however, isn’t a very effective epithet to levy against us.

  4. I appreciate everything written in this post.

    This said, you need to credit your cartoon, and you need to credit the fact that you have altered your cartoon from its original form.

    Bill Watterson is probably not going to come after you (I’d say your illustration falls into the “fair use” category, although that’s my opinion, not legal research), but in a piece written about integrity–you need to have some when it comes to your use of copyright material.

    1. For better or worse, the unattributed inclusion of an altered Calvin & Hobbes comic is intended in the spirit of an internet meme, a medium that mixes unattributed elements for aesthetic purposes. Honestly, I stole this particular meme from a tumblr of Gamergate memes and changed the panel from “it’s about ethics in videogames journalism” to “it’s about political diversity in sci-fi”because I feel the two positions are comparably asinine.

  5. In your paragraph above, I believe you’re in error. The link you’ve posted is to a BlackGate fan writer who refused the nomination.

    Black Gate itself is on the Ballot, to the best of my knowledge.

  6. I find it interesting how many of these dominant straight white cis-males on the Sad Puppies slate are female and/or tan according to their birth certificates.

    1. A delicious irony to claim to care about trans issues (by referring to people as cis) yet bring up birth certificates as an authority on a person’s identity.

      Still, you’re right in that I should have indicated more clearly that Sad Puppies intentionally picked a somewhat diverse range of authors to drag down into the mire with them largely without permission.

  7. Good post, and very much so.

    Although it’s worth noting that not everyone on the Sad Puppy ballot is even remotely aligned politically with its founders. Indeed, several people on there are pretty much at the opposite end of the extreme.

    Love the header image, by the way!

  8. The 2014 Hugos have been tainted by the Sick Puppy crowd.
    I’d consider it defamation to be included on the Larry Correia/Vox Day “slate”.

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