If you aren’t a fan of SciFi books then you may have never heard of the Hugo Awards before. They are a very prestigious and coveted award amongst SciFi writers and typically the Hugo Award winners list is comprised of excellent books to read. We’re talking Arthur C Clarke, Frank Herbert, Ann Leckie, Isaac Asimov, Ursula K Le Guin, Neil Gaiman, the list goes on and on with excellent writers. And right now the Hugo Awards are under attack.
This year the Hugo Awards have been tainted by a group of very militantly political people who apparently feel that minority writers (women, people of color, LGBTQ people, etc) and stories that feature minorities have won too many Hugos in recent years. So they have banded together, named themselves the Sad Puppies, come up with a way to game the system and get their books and books of authors that they feel share their particular political views to be nominated on all of the categories available.
It is worth pausing for a moment to discuss the Hugo Awards and who gets to vote on them. Basically the members of the WorldCon convention are able to nominate and vote on who should win. You don’t have to actually attend the convention as you can buy voting rights for $40.00 so essentially anyone who is interested in voting on the Hugo Awards can for a nominal fee. Through the years this has lead to a wide variety of works obtaining nominations and (I feel) a very fair representation of what is popular and of interest to SciFi fans being nominated for and winning the awards. Normally I would give greater consideration to a Hugo Award Winner’s work than I would otherwise. A link to the Hugo Awards website describing the history of their voting process is here: http://www.thehugoawards.org/hugo-history/a-short-history-of-the-hugo-awards-process/
Now fast-forward back to the present. This militant political group (the Sad Puppies) has decided to try and game the system by taking their slate of suggested works to their fans and to people of same political bent as they (whether they are SciFi fans or not) and having them buy a voting membership just to push their own political views upon SciFi. The primary leaders of this movement have a few historical feuds with other members of the SciFi writing community. Much has been made about this elsewhere and the only perspective I bring is as an outsider looking in. That perspective doesn’t favor the individuals attempting to hijack the Hugos.
Overall this is a very sad situation. Multiple authors whose works are worthy of consideration and actually were nominated have decided to withdraw their stories from this year’s Hugo’s so as not to be tainted by the controversy and to keep from being associated in any way with these Sad Puppies. I respect that sacrifice by them very much. I also understand any author that chooses to remain on the ballots and attempt to give the voters choices other than the Sad Puppies nominees. It is a difficult situation to be in for an author.
I’ve mostly stayed on the sidelines observing the back and forth between the Sad Puppies and the SciFi community as a whole. However I feel it worthwhile to use my (small) platform to speak out against this and say that while the Sad Puppies may be observing the letter of the Hugo laws they are trashing the spirit of those laws. I am truly saddened by this event and wish that this disgracefully immature behavior by the Sad Puppies was not taking place.
My protest, small though it may be, is to consciously avoid purchasing, reading, reviewing, or supporting any of the works that the leaders of the Sad Puppies have created or will create. They can (and have) flung around their arguments and justifications and after looking over them I find them to be lacking and find their actions reprehensible. As such I intend to not provide them with any financial aide or positive publicity.
In the end as a lifelong SciFi fan, reader, and reviewer my only power I have is my money and my platform. And people who think this is the way to behave will have neither.
My hope is the the Hugos return to what they are truly meant to be and are again the prestigious awards for deserving authors that they have been in the past. My hope is that shameful acts such as those orchestrated by the Sad Puppies fall by the wayside. My hope is that seeing Hugo Winner posted upon a worthy work will again mean something positive about the quality of the work.
For further reading upon this issue here is a link to Susan Grigsby’s blog about it. She does a wonderful job breaking it all down: http://m.dailykos.com/story/2015/04/13/1376743/-Freeping-the-Hugo-Awards