The Hugo Awards are named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of Amazing Stories.
Now unlike some competing awards like the Nebula Award which is decided by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Hugos are nominated and decided by fans, specifically attendees at the World Science Fiction Convention (the Hugos are also older).
There are two classes of registration, a regular one which, uhh… gives you the right to vote for Hugos I guess, and an attending registration that gets you onto the Convention floor and allows you to attend some seminars and workshops.
While most of us tend to think of Science Fiction as kind of lefty utopian fantasy worlds that present metaphorically the condition of society and present solutions for challenges humanity might face, there has always been a jingoist, misogynous, racist, authoritarian element that some authors embrace with gusto and glee, some pander to as a way to make a quick buck off inferior work, and others lazily use as a crutch they hardly notice in pursuit of a rattlin’ good yarn with lots of babes and blasters.
Quick- how many Black people in Star Wars? Yes, Lando. And…?
I do think it’s a rattlin’ good yarn and not as obviously horrible as, say, Horseclans or Gor but there you go.
For years the target audience of Science Fiction was pimply-faced adolescent white boys who hated women because they were nerds who were never, ever, going to meet one, particularly since they spent all their time either jerking off or reading Sci-Fi, Comic Books, and playing Dungeons and Dragons in their mother’s basement.
But starting in the 60s Science Fiction started to change and there were more and more thoughtful works about the nature of Science and Humanity and they began to attract a more main stream audience. This made the publishers very happy of course, but it kind of pissed off the fan boys who wanted epic space battles with monsters and aliens. And where the Green Wimmen at?
As time passed the same social impulses that led people to the Right-Wing also started causing virulent divisions in the gaming and Science Fiction communities.
Which brings us to the present and the Sick Puppies. Just as there is a Conservative publishing cartel that games The New York Times Best seller list (Dinesh D’Souza, ‘nuf said), someone thought there were too many non-white and female Hugo Award winners recently and decided to do something about it. They and their like-thinking comrades bought a bunch of registrations to WorldCon and submitted their favorite authors, books, movies, and TV shows and openly organized to nominate them and make sure they won.
It wasn’t much of a secret and after the ballots were cast the steering committee in charge of the Awards simply refused to give them out in the categories they thought were compromised by what most considered ‘cheating’.
If only the sci-fi writers who hijacked the Hugo awards had the wit to imagine a world beyond the Good Old Days
by Helen Lewis, The Guardian
Saturday 18 April 2015 03.00 EDT
(For some science fiction and fantasy fans) the alternate universe they most crave is the Good Old Days. SFF is in the grip of its own culture war, with a group of authors suggesting that the recent success of female and non-white writers is proof that political correctness has spread its tentacles so far that it is now ruining stories that include actual tentacles.
The sticking point is nominations for the Hugos, the genre’s best-known awards, which will be handed out in August. Anyone who pays $40 (£27) to attend the science-fiction convention Worldcon can nominate up to five of their favourite books in each category for a Hugo. The intention was that the awards would be more democratic and open to a greater range of works: nerds know how it is to be excluded from the cool gang. (Even if the cool gang here is literary fiction writers, which is absolutely no one else’s idea of a cool gang. Pass the sambuca, Richard Flanagan!)
The voting system encourages fans to feel they have ownership of the awards and to treat them as a barometer of genuine, grassroots opinion. As 2014 winner Kameron Hurley put it: “They historically rewarded popular work, set in the kinds of old, colonial, dudes-rule-everything universes that my work explicitly challenges.”
But times are changing, and there are complaints that the Hugos are being used “as an affirmative action award: giving Hugos because a writer or artist is (insert under-represented minority or victim group here) or because a work features (insert under-represented minority or victim group here) characters”.
That sentiment comes from US SFF author Brad Torgersen, who is a Mormon, a libertarian and a gun-rights enthusiast, and as such feels that the current trends in SF do not favour the types of books he personally enjoys. In February, he suggested a slate of works readers could vote for to ensure the Hugos had relevance outside “rarefied, insular halls of 21st-century Worldcon ‘fandom'”. The slate is called Sad Puppies, because fellow author Larry Correia once said that not having his books nominated for the “snooty and pretentious” awards “made puppies sad”.
So far, so niche. But because this is the internet, someone always has to pitch in and turn the hostility up to 11. Enter a man called Theodore Beale, also known as Vox Day, with his own slate called Rabid Puppies. Vox Day is even less polite about minorities and “victim groups”: he claims that marital rape is an oxymoron, because “marriage grants consent on an ongoing basis”, and that race is linked to IQ (you can imagine which way). He also opposes women’s suffrage, saying “the women of America would do well to consider whether their much-cherished gains of the right to vote, work, murder and freely fornicate are worth destroying marriage, children, civilised western society and little girls”. He’s so bigoted it’s perversely refreshing. Oh right, he actually said that, you think. Bloody hell.
The result of this perfectly legal manipulation is that, in the words of Game of Thrones author George RR Martin, “The Sad Puppies have broken the Hugo awards, and I am not sure they can ever be repaired.”
It works like this: if you worry that you might be accused of an -ism, get your defence in first by asserting that the accuser is an envoy of an ivory tower elite and you are merely a tribune of the people. As it works for Farage, so it does for Vox Day. Yes, you might have gone to private school, worked as a commodities trader and have been a member of the European parliament since 1999, but you are an outsider! Yes, you might have got nine titles from your own tiny Finland-based publishing house on the Hugos shortlists, but that’s only because you are trying to seize back science fiction from a self-serving clique!
Over and over again, we see the mechanism by which power re-asserts itself when challenged. With a gymnastic leap, those on the defensive become the underdogs, cruelly repressed by the BBC, feminists, people from Islington, some nebulous “elite” or the suggestion that sometimes a female character in a videogame might wear a decently supportive bra.
Diversity wins as the Sad Puppies lose at the Hugo awards
by Damien Walter, The Guardian
Monday 24 August 2015 08.25 EDT
As I write it is clear that the Puppies’ disproportional effect on the Hugo shortlists was not reflected in the award winners. In fact, the fan vote was triumphant in nearly all categories, except a handful where the Sad Puppy bloc vote forced work of such poor quality onto the ballot that fans were left no choice but to nominate “no award” instead. It was the worst result possible for the Sad Puppy voters, and a personal humiliation for their leaders.
Far from infecting sci-fi with with their right-wing rhetoric, the Sad Puppies have only succeeded in inoculating the field against it. Theodore Beale, a Hugo protest leader and prominent anti-vaxxer, has himself acted like a weakened viral infection, catalysing sci-fi’s immune response against the retrograde aesthetics on which he has built his reputation. The other Puppy leaders retreated into relative silence as the determined response of sci-fi fans rolled over them. Meanwhile, their antics have woken up all of sci-fi fandom to the value of diversity.
‘No award’ sweeps the Hugo Awards following controversy
by Michelle Dean, The Guardian
Sunday 23 August 2015 12.20 EDT
The World Science Fiction Society noted in its announcement of winners that the “no awards” were without precedent. Five, they said, was also “the total number of times that WSFS members have presented no award in the entire history of the Hugo Awards, most recently in 1977”.
The unprecedented number of no award votes followed a controversy over a voting bloc, known as the Sad and/or Rabid Puppies, that loaded the ballot earlier this spring.
The Puppies say they are reacting to the transformation of the Hugos into what one called an “affirmative action award“. The Puppies organized themselves to vote as a bloc in the nominating process in order to put more white, male candidates on the ballot. As the voting turnout for the nomination process is typically low, the strategy worked.
Critics of the Puppies in the science fiction community pointed out that their leaders, among them Vox Day and Brad Torgerson, were promoting unrepentantly sexist, racist and homophobic views. Among the Puppies’ slate of nominees was a book put out by the Patriarchy Press. Another of their favored writers, John C Wright, is better known for his rabidly homophobic views than for his work.
- Hugo award nominees withdraw amid ‘Puppygate’ storm, by Alison Flood, The Guardian
- The Puppies are taking science fiction’s Hugo awards back in time, by Adam Roberts, The Guardian
- The Hugo awards will be the losers if politics takes the prize, by Sarah Lotz, The Guardian
- George RR Martin says rightwing lobby has ‘broken’ Hugo awards, by Alison Flood, The Guardian
- George RR Martin urges ‘every true fan’ to rally for Hugo awards vote, by Alison Flood, The Guardian
- The 100 best novels written in English: the full list, by Robert McCrum, The Guardian
- Not to be: Barbican U-turn over Hamlet soliloquy, by Jamie Grierson, The Guardian
- Yvonne Craig, the original 1960s Batgirl, dies aged 78, by Alexandra Spring, The Guardian
- Patrick Stewart: totally over the top – but impossible not to love, by Stuart Heritage, The Guardian
- The Daily Show with Trevor Noah: trailer features ‘same chair, different ass’, The Guardian
- Watch Jon Stewart hit John Cena with a chair at WWE SummerSlam, By Justin Wm. Moyer, Washington Post
- ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ Premiere Recap: Welcome to Hell-Ay, By Noel Murray, Rolling Stone
- John Oliver has received ‘thousands’ of donations for his televangelism ministry, By Abby Ohlheiser, Washington Post
- Tails of the unexpected: the craziest cat quiz ever, by Leo Benedictus, The Guardian
- Sundance 2015 review: Grandma – Lily Tomlin cranks it up to the max as a ranting poet on the road, by Brian Moylan, The Guardian
The Little League World Series starts with a double elimination round (you need 2 losses to wash out). Currently eliminated on the International side of the bracket are White Rock South Surrey of BC and Los Bravos de Pontezuela of the Dominican Republic. Advancing are Tokyo Kitasuna and Cardenales of Venezuela. On the Bubble facing deciding games are Tung Yuan of Taipei, Cronulla of Australia, AVRS of Uganda, and Seguro Social of Mexico.
On the United States side of the bracket Webb City MO and Wilshire-Riverside of OR have been eliminated. Advancing are Red Land PA and Pearland West of TX. Bowling Green Eastern of KY, Cranston Western of RI, Northwood SC, and Sweetwater Valley must win to advance.
As you know it was a Mercedes 1 – 2 at Spa-Francorchamps. Third place (at the time) Vettel was a stop after a blow out on the next to last lap.
In other racing news, British IndyCar driver Justin Wilson in coma after being hit by flying debris. He used to drive for Minardi and Jaguar and his former Formula One associates are shocked and sympathetic (having lost Jules Bianchi to head injuries suffered a year ago in Japan in the last few weeks). At the same time, like many others they wonder why IndyCar is so dangerous. The answer to that is that the Drivers are encouraged to use Turn Left bumper car tactics that are totally unsuited to open wheel racing. Also the Yellow Flag rules mandate bunched rolling re-starts that result in multiple additional accidents.
They do this to promote “close races”. Those are always much more fun to watch as are flaming chunks of twisted metal.
Bullfighting is hardly a sport which is why I enjoy titles like this- Man killed during bull run in Spain pushes death toll to 10 so far for year.
Usain Bolt beats Justin Gatlin to 100m gold in ‘clash of good against evil’. His opponent was twice banned for doping. Oh, and he’s from the U.S.. Yay team.
- How ’bout those Mets? Five games ahead in the NL East.
- Damn Yankees lost C.C. Sabathia, not much of a loss but it’s probably a career ending injury, and the game. Half a game back in the AL East.
The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.
Obligatories, News and Blogs below.