Monday, April 6, 2015

No One "Owns" SF: This Year's Hugo Nominees

I don't typical make any sort of "political" posts on my blog.  Not because I don't have political opinions; of course I do.  But I find that, usually, when an issue comes up that pushes my buttons, someone else has already said what I would say, and says it better than I would.  So there's rarely a need for me to through my two cents in as well.
And that is probably the case with this year's Hugo nominations.  Short version for those of you not in the know: In previous years a group of conservative-minded SF Writers, feeling their voices were being marginalized in the Hugos, organized a united slate called "Sad Puppies".  Last year they succeeded in getting a few things on the ballot. Good for them there; though in the final tally they did poorly, they got some work that might otherwise have been ignored some notice.  Frankly, I think that's how any sort of voted-by-membership award should go.  This year, though, instead of "a few things on the ballot", they and their more destructive-minded counterpart "Rabid Puppies", utterly dominated the nominations.  There are only a handful of nominations across the board that are not part of their slate.
This is all allowed by the rules of how it works, mind you.  They didn't cheat.  They may have Min/Maxed and Rules Lawyered their way to a result that only a Chaotic Neutral would call a "victory", but nonetheless, their campaign "worked".
Needless to say, other people in the field are quite upset, and understandably so.  The Hugo Awards just got jacked-- and perhaps this demonstrated just how jackable they are.  Really all it takes is a combination of a rallyable following and money.  Hell, maybe just money.  I'm not sure what preventative measures there are to keep one person who is willing to spend, say, $10,000 from buying 250 memberships and stuffing the ballot box all on your own.*  
And here I thought it was tacky to give myself a five-star on Goodreads.
But there's a somewhat disturbing sense of "we're the real SF, not you" coming from both sides of the aisles.  Which I find disappointing.  True, there are people-- again, on both sides of this thing-- who have said things I personally find extremely odious.  I don't like them as people.  Some of them may not like me.**  But they have as much right to their opinion of what is or is not good SF.***  "We" do not own SF over "you", whoever you or we happen to be.  None of us are Fake Geek Girls.
All that said, I have every intention of reading the nominees and voting fairly, though I am prepared to engage in liberal***** use of "No Award" where I find it justified.  And despite finding the nominations.... odd and troubling, to say the least, there are some bright spots.
  • Sheila Gilbert received her third consecutive nomination for Best Editor, Long Form.  As she is my editor, and made the choice to publish Thorn of Dentonhill and A Murder of Mages, I strongly endorse her nomination.
  • Wesley Chu received the Campbell nod for the second time-- the only one of this year's Campbell nominees not on the SP/RP slate.  Wes is a great guy and a great writer, so this is excellent.
  • This year's Dramatic Presentation, Short Form nominee list is the first in ten years not to be overwhelmed by Doctor Who episodes.  Don't get me wrong, I love Doctor Who, but in 8 of the 10 last years, it took three out of five slots, and those other two in merely took two.    For only one Doctor Who episode to be nominated-- combined with the nomination of the Flash pilot-- is a bit of fresh air in this particular category. 

*- Are there any?  I don't know. 
**- More likely they are utterly unaware of my existence.
***- Though I find it fascinating that a key argument the SP Advocates make is that the award had gotten too frou-frou literary instead of "fun"-- an argument made the same year Redshirts, about as non-frou-frou fun**** as a book can be, won the Best Novel award.
****- Full disclosure: I loved it and voted for it for best novel.
*****- Pun intended.

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