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.