Monday, April 21, 2014

Lo! In the Distance, Hear the Yip-Yap of Happy Puppies! (And Also Much Wailing & Gnashing of Teeth)

The nominations for the Hugo Awards have been announced, and personally, I couldn't be more pleased with the results -- even if I now find myself faced with the terrifying task of reading all fourteen novels in the Wheel of Time series before, I presume, the middle or end of July.

Others, however, are not pleased -- because some outspoken perpetrators of badthink have made the list. Google "Larry Correia Hugo Awards" for a sampling of some of the vitriol. Since Saturday night, allegations of cheating have been running rampant in the science fiction blogosphere. Some have accused Larry - and Vox Day - of "stuffing the ballot box" by buying World Con memberships for friends and relatives and then voting in their stead, while others have simply declared that these authors' supporters, lemming-like, blindly voted for their proposed slates out of a base desire to troll the awards and not out of any genuine appreciation for the works in question.

Well, it's time to burst their bubble.

I was inspired to pay into World Con and participate in the nominations process in large part due to Larry Correia's blog posts, so you can count me as a member of the "Correia Bloc." At no point did I feel pressured to support any work Larry promoted. There was a considerable amount of overlap between my slate and Larry's, but that's because we have similar tastes in science fiction and fantasy -- and not because I was licking Larry's boots. I didn't vote for anything or anyone I had not read - Vox Day didn't make it onto my slate, and neither did Dan Wells - and quite frankly, I resent the implication I am both dumb enough to be led by others and dishonest enough to vote for anyone based on their politics alone. Granted, I did have an agenda -- but that was to support stories that brought back the genre's old sense of adventure. While I'm certainly enjoying all the myriad ways leftist fen are showing their true illiberal colors, GHH screaming is merely a bonus and never was my primary objective. My primary objective was and is to support works I've enjoyed.

It is truly the height of arrogance to assume - as many have - that Larry could only have gotten onto the ballot via underhanded means. Larry has made it onto the New York Times best-seller list, is currently ranked #77 in his category on Amazon (which, considering the size of the field, is amazing), has had his books translated into other languages, and has won other awards for his work. Indeed, Larry has made enough money now that he's been able to retire to Yard Moose Mountain to write full time. In short, Larry has a butt-load of fans. They just haven't showed up before now -- because until this year, World Con was fading into obscurity and taking the Hugo Awards with it.

Let's face it: In a good year, World Con will attract maybe 4000-5000 attendees, and of those, only a fraction actually send in a ballot for the Hugos. And the people who select the shortlist? That's an even more rarefied group. For the 2014 awards, almost 2000 people submitted nominations -- a figure that smashed all previous records. In the meantime, tens of thousands of people routinely attend Dragon Con - the con I have worked for the past seven years and one that is frequently held on the same weekend as World Con - and over time, its crowds have been steadily growing. In 2004, Dragon Con was held in two downtown Atlanta hotels; ten years later, that number has ballooned to five. Yes -- there are many reasons for this discrepancy, including the decline of reading in general and the overwhelming success of genre media. But Dragon Con's hoards are what I call a potential audience. They clearly like things that are fantastic and geeky; unfortunately, no one in the literary science fiction community - save folks like Larry Correia - has evinced any interest in drawing these people in.

Cedar Sanderson has made this point already, but I will make it as well: If Larry's "Sad Puppies" posts did anything, they gave the Hugos a shot in the arm by bringing in a ton of new blood. Poll the Correia Bloc; I suspect you'll find a lot of Hugo neophytes. And this is a good thing. It's exciting and empowering for those of us who've been disappointed with recent winners, and it will probably invigorate interest in what, up until now, has been a dying brand.

But, of course, as far as the GHH's are concerned, we're just politicizing the awards. Uh, okay. Projecting much? So far, I haven't seen Larry or Vox Day telling their readers to rank "No Award" above authors whose politics they find repellent. That's something the Special Snowflake squad has been doing ever since the shortlist was announced. We are going to read all the works on the list and judge them on their merits (even if, in the case of the Wheel of Time, it may kill us); they have openly announced their refusal to do so on many platforms, stating that if people like Brad Torgersen, Dan Wells, and Toni Weisskopf were on Larry's slate, they obviously don't deserve their nods. Have they read "The Chaplain's Legacy," Brad's nominated novella? Likely not; otherwise, they'd know it deals in part with the importance of inter-cultural dialogue. Isn't that something the left is supposed to champion?

In sum: I'm not at all sorry that we crashed your tiny and irrelevant little popularity contest, and I invite you to buck up and fight the good fight like men -- even if, like me, you are a woman.


  1. Great post Stephanie. I'm one of those pesky, right wing Baine Barflies myself, so obviously the Snowflakes would automatically dismiss any comments from me, but I can live with that. I got to meet Larry last year at Liberty Con, and I liked him a lot. I also chat with Brad Torgersen regularly on Facebook. Good people both, and also Toni Weiskopf is good people. Hope, if nothing else, we raise some liberal blood pressure. Good luck with getting through the entire Wheel of Time series.

  2. As I have realized that my desire to contribute to good science fiction with good stories of my own is not, at present, matched with enough literary bonafides, I was already inspired to make some effort to read more from the human wave authors of Baen and the indy ranks. But after this ridiculous skirmish, I am even more intrigued. I think there is an opportunity here for fans of good and fantastic stories to reclaim the genre. I'd like to be a part of that.

    1. We just need to get you a new Kindle!

    2. Indeed. If I ever have enough money.