Hugo Ballot: My final take before voting closes
There are several categories I haven’t posted reviews for, yet: Best Editor (Long Form); Best Editor (Short form); Best Professional Artist; Best Fan Artist; Best Semiprozine; Best Fanzine; Best Fancast; and the biggie, Best Novel. I had been planning all along not to post reviews of the two artist categories for various reasons1. I’ve gone through the remainder of the ballot—with the deadline looming—and as I think of all the sturm und drang that has occurred around this, I find that I’m just too tired and disappointed at the entire affair to write any more reviews.
I was taught in my university journalism classes2 that the point of a review is to help someone decide whether or not to go to the trouble and expense of attending the movie or play, buying the book, et cetera. It’s not enough just to explain why you liked or didn’t like it, but you need to explain why in such a way that a reader can decide whether or not they agree with you. But the cumulative effect of disappointment has just been too much.
After reading all of the works which were pushed onto the ballot by the Sad/Rabid Puppies, I’ve come to the conclusion that (with two exceptions), none of them deserve to be there. Worse than that, some of the specific stories, books, columns, and blog posts aren’t worthy of shining the shoes of entries that do deserve to be on the ballot. That’s how utterly atrocious and lacking in quality most of the Puppy slate is.
I’m left feeling that it would have been a better use of my time to just “No Award” all the Puppy entries without reading them. Because, other than those two exceptions, that is exactly what I’m doing.
That isn’t to say that the affair of the Puppies was an utterly bad thing. There is, I believe, a serious silver lining underneath all of this piddle. I mentioned before that, although I had known that anyone who buys a supporting membership to WorldCon is allowed to vote on that year’s Hugo Awards, I’d never done it. I first learned about the Hugos when I found a copy of one of the Hugo Winners anthologies edited (back then) by Isaac Asimov when I was about middle school aged. His anecdotal description of the awards and the ceremony had created a fantasy version of the process in my head. Attending a WorldCon and attending the banquet as a professional writer myself (and maybe even as a nominee!) had become subconscious prerequisites to voting in the Hugos, in this fantasy. So while I knew I could just buy a membership and vote, I never had.
Learning about the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies and the way they’d gamed the system and why3 gave me the motivation to buy the membership. I became so exciting about finally voting in the Hugos myself that I started tracking down as many of the short fiction nominees as I could rather than wait for the official Hugo package.
And I’m not the only one.
I have friends who didn’t learn until this controversy came to light that all one needed to do to be a Hugo voter was buy a supporting membership. And they bought memberships. As I’ve posted my Hugo reviews, and written a couple blog posts about the situation that were in turn linked on other fannish blogs, I’ve (virtually) met dozens more long time fans and writers like myself (most of them queer and/or women who are definitely not fans of the Puppies’ agenda) who bought memberships because of this controversy and are now first time voters.Thousands more supporting memberships have been purchased for this year’s WorldCon than have been in years past. Most of those purchases since the ballot was announced and everyone in the world (seriously, mainstream media picked up the story) was informed of who the Sad/Rabid Puppies are and what they’d done. There is some worry among the traditional WorldCon crowd that a lot of those extra memberships are more Puppy supporters. I don’t know for certain how many of those extra members are like me, but I suspect we are a significant fraction. Possibly even a majority.
And from my discussions with these friends, old and new, I know that my husband and are not the only ones who have also already purchased supporting memberships to next year’s convention, and pre-supporting memberships to the 2017 convention (so we could vote in the site selection process, too!).
So the Puppies succeeded in piddling all over this year’s Hugo Ballot. Like Men’s Rights Advocates and GamerGaters and other angry (mostly) white (mostly) men who claim they are being oppressed any time that people who don’t look like them manage to achieve more than marginal representation, I am certain they are going to continue to foment trouble. But their shenanigans have brought a whole bunch of feminist fans and queer fans and fans of color who had never previously participated into the process. While each of those groups may make up a minority of the total fandom populations, I believe that collectively we outnumber the Puppies.
Science fiction will survive. Sci fi is the fiction of the future. Even its dystopian sub-genres are ultimately about hope for a better tomorrow. I’m not letting anyone take that away from me.
My previous Hugo Ballot reviews:
1. I’ve written art show reviews back in my college journalism days (and let me tell you, I got much worse death threats over art reviews than ever I did over pro-choice editorials), so I know it’s possible to write art reviews, but I wasn’t sure I could do an art review justice.
2. Ages and ages ago.
3. It amuses me no end how loudly they protest that they aren’t racist, sexist, or homophobic… often while using racist and sexist dog whistles. They never resort to coded language or dog whistles on the homophobia, they just come right out and say why they think homos are inferior and immoral and a threat to society, but insist that doesn’t mean they hate us!