Before I get into this, I want to first make it clear that John O’Neill goaded me into writing today. When I mentioned that I found myself siding with Larry Correia, and God forbid Vox Day, on the hot topic of the week [Hugo vs Puppies, which we recently summarized here], John baited me with this gem:
And I’m fascinated to hear that you take the Puppies side in this…. hard as I try, I’m not able to warp my head into their liberals-have-stolen-the-Hugos-year-after-year-with-their-lies-and-secrets way of thinking. I’ve been trying to find someone to do a Puppy-friendly take to counter my posts… you interested?
I told him, and I quote:
LOL, I’ve no real depth to anything I would write, just a gut feeling, and in the end I’d probably alienate the bulk of any fellow BG bloggers I’ve come to know over the years. Now obviously that doesn’t mean anything to me as my fans are gamers who don’t give a rat’s ass about the Hugo, but still, it could get very ugly, very fast.
And it’s true, I write Art of the Genre, not Words of the Genre, so I’ve really no dog in this fight, but as someone who is on the outside, and enjoys breaking down numbers, my opinion did provide some puppy love. So I started thinking a bit more on my view.
Now first and foremost, I’m a liberal, I voted for Obama, I live in Southern California, I think private ownership of guns in this day and age is ridiculous, I find the ‘red states’ to be populated mostly by backward-thinking, bible-thumping lunatics that I can’t relate to in any way. I group the politics of Larry Correia and Vox Day firmly in the ‘insane’ category and what is truly horrible about humankind. But that said, I refer directly to the famous saying that ‘a broken clock is right twice a day.’
In my mind, the Hugo is not only broken, but a farce. It resides directly beside the almighty Wizard in the proverbial Oz, and unfortunately for a mass of liberal elitists [yes, Virginia, there is such a thing], the puppies pulled back that curtain to expose the doddering old man.
Why do I think this?
Because, like Correia, I’ve been to Worldcon [Reno 2011], and aside from that, I’ve studied the numbers. So, I’ll then break my thoughts [not arguments, because that would mean I intended on trying to change folks minds, which in this case I see as impossible] into two parts. Part One will deal with Worldcon’s image, and Part Two will be about the numbers.
Easy? Good, then let’s begin.
Oh! And I almost forgot, as I don’t really care about this subject one way or the other, and am doing this as a favor to John O’Neill’s need to see how many hits Black Gate can get this month, I WILL NOT be reading any comments posted to it, so if you are directing anything toward me, know that it is being shot into a void like space garbage from a Star Destroyer.
Who led me to believe this? Well, the industry I’d assume, although I can’t point a finger directly at anyone. And if the Hugo is the Oscar, then the Nebula is the Golden Globe, as it comes out before the Hugo and allows the winning author the inside track to a Hugo.
Now perhaps Worldcon had nothing to do with that and the image is just humanity’s desire to have a comfortable order to the world where things are safe and make sense, like having all McDonald’s hamburgers taste the same from Maine to SoCal. We like to force things into relatable categories, and if one famous industry has a top award, than ALL industries must therefore have an equal counterpart, right? Well, not really.
So, fairly or unfairly, with forethought or without, the Hugo has become something it rightly isn’t, the Oscar of fantasy. But truth be told, it has no place being that, as there is no over-arching ‘Academy’ of writers, editors, and publishers working industry-wide in a huge guild trying to recognize the cream of the crop from our genre.
Instead, a single entity — and a very small one at that, Worldcon — has this award that they select the winners of. Who exactly is ‘they’? I don’t know, just like the bulk of you don’t know, but according to The Wizard’s First Rule:
People are stupid; given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. Because people are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want to believe it’s true, or because they are afraid it might be true. People’s heads are full of knowledge, facts, and beliefs, and most of it is false, yet they think it all true. People are stupid; they can only rarely tell the difference between a lie and the truth, and yet they are confident they can, and so are all the easier to fool.
*Aside [If there really were a true Hugo, Terry Goodkind should have won it for the above line alone. However, in 1994 he didn’t even get nominated. Why? He doesn’t play by the rules, isn’t warm and fuzzy, and didn’t have a backlist of favors and fans to get his voting numbers up. However, in my mind there has never, ever, been a more profound paragraph written in fantasy that directly interacts with the real world on a daily basis. It is pure genius.]
Therefore, we believe there is some higher genre power of incredible and unbiased literary masters who each year spend countless hours debating until a Hugo winner is born. That, I’m afraid, is not the case. Like Correia attests, the Hugo is little more than a ‘cool kids’ clique inside the ‘high school’ that is Worldcon.
I’ve been there, I’ve seen it and watched all the ridiculous back-slapping and ego-stroking that would make a frat party pale in comparison. If this isn’t a high-brow, high money, and high self-worth ‘your parents are out of town’ kegger, then I don’t know what is.
And these folks, for all you people still reading, are the ones that will award the lofty Hugo. If you are popular enough, if you can find your way into the in-crowd, smile when you should smile, drink when you should drink, bow when you should bow, then you just might have what it takes to take home that spaceship (or whatever it is).
I know exactly why Correia was so taken aback by what he witnessed, and because of who he was, the fat kid that had different ideas, how could he not be exiled, ridiculed, and might I even say bullied, by those in this club. That, to me, is the most amazing thing about all this.
These forward-thinking, highly-educated, liberal writers seem unable to see that they are the Johnny Lawrence in this version of The Karate Kid. Because right-wingers like Correia aren’t what you are ‘supposed’ to be as a fantasy writer, they are branded with a scarlet letter and run out of town on a rail.
It ceases to be about the writing, and instead becomes solely about the writer, and THAT is where the Hugo Awards fail. It is a shell game, and the internet is buying it. It is politics! Go out on the street and ask anyone if they want free healthcare and they will say ‘yes.’ But Republicans don’t ask that question, instead spinning it to ‘Do you want the Democrats to tell you what healthcare you can have?’
Worldcon and George R.R. Martin, and most everyone else is doing the same. The real question is ‘Are the Hugo’s a sham?’ but they are instead asking ‘Isn’t it horrible how the crazy, gun toting, Mormon, right-wingers are attacking the Hugo?’
It is a bait and switch, people, and that is what pisses me off. Really, why should we give a crap about WHO Sad Puppies are, when we should be applauding them for finally trying to show the Hugo for what it is, or in this case isn’t?
It turns my stomach to see so many truly good writers championing the banner of Worldcon against the Mongol hordes of the Puppies when Worldcon and the Hugo winners ARE THE 1%! They don’t need your help! They are going to be just fine, and guess what, there WILL be Hugos handed out next year for all of Martin’s blather about them being ‘broken’.
But I promise you this, they are laughing all the way to the bank that the liberal class writers beneath them are going for the throats of the right-wing writers. It is the great shell game, and yes, once again the Wizard’s First Rule! For the sake of all that is, wake the hell up and see that this isn’t about Correia, or Vox Day, or Puppies, but about the illusion that the Hugo is honorable and worthy of support at all. While you tear down Correia, Worldcon is parking its boat inside its boat and laughing at you.
And why do I attest that the Hugo isn’t worthy? Well, let me get to Part Two.
Can you tell me who has won the most Hugo Awards for Best Novel? Since you are so vested in defending of the honor of the award I’m sure you MUST know, right? In all honesty, I doubt it, but given a few shots and you might get it. That lofty honor goes to… drum roll, please.
Robert A. Heinlein.
Mr. Heinlein won the award 5 times on eleven nominations. By contrast the most Academy Awards for Best Actor [the best comparison I can use, considering movies can’t be nominated year after year] goes to Daniel Day Lewis with 3 wins. Two other actors, Spencer Tracy and Tom Hanks have won the award twice. Otherwise no actor has won the award multiple times.
Hugo Awards for Best Novel, however, come in much bigger bunches, especially if you are popular with that small group of ‘they.’
Lois McMaster Bujold has received 4 Hugos for Best Novel, and Isaac Asimov, Connie Willis, and Vernor Vinge, have each won 3 times. An astounding 9 other authors have won it twice.
And don’t get me started on Hugo Awards for Professional Artists! As good as Michael Whelan is, how, HOW, can he have won 13 Hugos!? Or how about Frank Kelly Freas with 11?!
Doesn’t this disturb you at all? Do you have any idea how many incredible fantasy and science fiction artists are out there and yet these two, TWO, artists have somehow captured two and a half decades of awards!
It is a FIX, a joke, a travesty to what awards are truly supposed to be about. ‘They’ aren’t looking at the whole picture, but instead playing a game of pork barrel politics that makes a mockery of what is supposed to be the pinnacle of fantasy and science fiction achievement.
Hell, Phil and Kaja Foglio saw it in 2012 and no one dragged them through the mud to be tarred and feathered. Their Girl Genius books won the Graphic Story Hugo in 2009, 2010, and 2011 before they refused the 2012 nomination in order to show that the category was a ‘viable award’ with quality competitors besides themselves. See, Billy Idol gets it!
Phil and his wife Kaja tried to tell everyone the problem in 2012, assuming you read between the lines. For the Hugos to truly be a viable award, there needed to be some change, some true variety, some real weight put on judging, nominating, and validation of the craft.
But you see, people LIKE Phil and Kaja, hell, I adore them, so everyone just let this one slide as them being selfless and honorable to the Hugo. The bottom line, however, was that they were trying to affect change on the Hugo, even if passively, while Sad Puppies decided to go another route as the outsider looking in. The Puppies saw the same problem, but the only way they could do anything about it was to take the offensive and force a ballot inclusion.
Were they wrong? I can’t say, but did folks who would never have sniffed a Hugo ballot, but were justly deserved, get nominated? Yes they did, including Black Gate!
*Aside II: Did you realize that John O’Neill has been running Black Gate for over a dozen years, has posted thousands of articles on science fiction and fantasy for free, by hundreds of incredibly talented writers [also working for free] with over a million page views a month and no one from Worldcon even looked his way until Sad Puppies?
Now some folks accepted the nomination, some didn’t, but the bottom line is that we saw action taken, and the ‘cool kids’ did NOT like it, not one bit. But thankfully they had downtrodden authors like Matthew David Surridge to fight for them against the very people who tried to get them on the ballot. You know, because that is what Worldcon needs, more empowerment to govern the industry they really have no right to lord over in the first place.
So there you have it, my take on The Art of the Sad Puppies, and alas, I went over my word total by 63 words [2000 is my high end], but that is what authors do right, challenge the pre-conceived norms of society, both in fantasy and reality? Well, not if you want a Hugo I guess…
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