The Hugo Affair Part Two

hugologoSo, a few months back, I wrote about the unfolding Hugo Affair, an attempt by two groups (Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies) to effectively hijack the awards nomination system and ensure that their rather narrow view of SF&F was the only one rewarded and encouraged. [1] That post was also the cause of my first twitter fight as I laid out why it was a bad idea and tried to explain the basics of racism and sexism to a somewhat less than open critic. As it stood leading into WonderCon, it was looking grim for the future integrity of the Hugo Awards. [2] Then, in a rare act of sensibility, things turned out for the better, with the slates of authors proposed by the Puppies groups being soundly defeated on almost every front. The voter turnout this year was apparently 65% higher than the largest previous turnout. [3][4][5]

So, what were the take ways from this? Well, for one, it proved that internet echo-chambers are absolutely not a good measure of public opinion. It’s a sad reality though of our interconnected age though. It is easier to find people who agree with your ideas and opinions now than ever before, and that’s the trap that the Sad and Rabid Puppies camps fell into. They simply reinforced their own opinions until they honestly believed that they were indicative of the opinions of the mainstream. The huge voter turnout and shear number of “no awards” voted in are closer to being a metric for the public’s thoughts on what makes good science fiction and fantasy.

The problem isn’t solved though. The campaign and slates pushed by the Sad anf Rabid Puppies were not entirely ineffective. Where they lost in awards, they succeeded in restricting the choices to their picked preferences. They also potentially succeeded in permanently placing a political slant on the awards. It is unlikely that they will stop pushing their preferred slates in the future. Which means that to counter it, either there has to be continuous high voter turn out with “no award” choices (which would ultimately undermine the purpose of awards), or that other groups will have to push their own slates. The Guardian stated that this year “diversity wins”, but it may be a hollow victory depending on how the future unfolds. [6][7]

As we move forward now, it behoves us more than ever to ensure that we promote the works of diverse authors to the “mainstream” audiences that many publishers are certain don’t want to see anything but more of the same works they already know. The Sad and Rabid Puppies aren’t done, so it’s no time to slack off now because they didn’t succeed this year.[8][9][10]

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