Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Hugo Season Is Upon Us

     Whazza Hugo?  It's a prize.*

     ...And, as has become the custom, there's an ongoing whinefest from all sides over the fact that if you want to vote for who gets a Hugo, all you have to do is become a supporter of the the next WorldCon SF convention, which is around $40 to $50.  That's it; they send you some junk (books and such, IIRC) and a ballot, you pick your faves.  Done.

     --But, you see, some Hugo voters (some of them probably from Day One) are not voting on which stories they like but nominating and voting to make some kind of point or further some goal.  This is outraging other Hugo voters, who are doing much the same but on the opposite vector.

     Mind you, there is no telepathy involved, no lie detectors or truth drug; no one knows what any given Hugo voter has in mind but themselves.  Even what any voter publicly claims as a motive may, in fact, be a lie.

     Other than the WorldCon poll tax, this is the way voting for politicians and suchlike works, too.  You never get to know what's inside other people's heads when the dirty rotten so-and-sos vote and you sure as hell don't get to police it.  When it comes to voting, the outcome is determined by the people who show up.

     When you try to get folks to show up and vote your way, that's not "gaming the system," it's how the system works.  Doesn't make any difference what your way is, either; you can be a commie or a far-right royalist conservative or a libbytarian or a syndicalist or a Wobbly or whatever.† You can be great company or a nasty choad but you still only get one vote and so do all your pals.  If you want your views to prevail, you need to be asking people who have the same darned weird ideas as you to show up and vote.  The future belongs to the people who tick the boxes on the ballots and not to any group of self-appointed curators, no matter who they are or what they hold dear.

     The whining is unaesthetic, but look at it this way: as long as they're all struggling to be the heap big boss opinion-molders of Science Fiction (as if!), they're kept well away from anything that actually matters, like raising the property tax or voting to water down the milk.  They're all practically public benefactors that way.
* It's some kinda Science Fiction prize for stories of various lengths plus artwork and related folderol.   I noticed awhile back it was not a surefire guarantee I was going to like a book and just ignored it.  The award itself consists of a streamlined rocket ship on a wood base with a nice plaque, plus your publisher gets to mention "Hugo-winning" every time your name comes up.  (I gave myself something similar: I bought an unpainted solid metal V-2 model.  I keep it with my SF books.  It looks kewl.)

† I can just about go down that list and name a writer for each one, most of them widely popular even among people who would find their politics repugnant.  If you're liking stories on the basis of the writer's ideological compatibility with yourself, that's your lookout -- but you're going to miss a lot of fun.


Bob said...

Because the number of members had grown rather moribund over the last 20 years or so, the Hugos have become something of a private club, and the awards themselves a pretty trinket for the members to award each other. Since that membership has tended left/liberal/progressive, the award winners have tended to be of the same persuasion - - go figure.

It should be pointed out, however, that Sad Puppies is a recent phenomenon - - only a couple of years old - - so the complaints of Hugos shutting out women, people-of-color and otherly-gendered people can be laid at the feet of the SJW membership and *not* the Puppies, who have been non-participants and shut out themselves.

Roberta X said...

Does SJW issue membership cards?

I wonder what Ursula K. LeGuin, Kate Wilhelm, Vonda McIntyre and C. J. Cherryh thought about getting shut out? What arch-conservatives like William Gibson and Kim Stanley Robinson felt about being locked out in the cold by Hugo voters?

The whole thing is pretty silly.

Roberta X said...

I'm not saying self-described "SJWs" don't exist -- but just as creeps like Vox Day are not wholly representative of one side, you can't characterize the other side by their farthest-out (and often most outspoken) personalities.

Personally, I'm not real fond of such rumbles in my old familiar ghetto, but Left-Right squabbles have been a part of WorldCons since the very first one.

Bob said...

Of the women and conservatives you name, only Robinson has won in recent years. All the rest won before the 1990's.

That a certain segment of women have complained of being shut out is documented, as is their happiness when they finally won in 2014. Likewise their fear that Sad Puppies exists only to prevent them winning again is documented.

As for the voting membership of WorldCon, I stand by my statement that the majority of members *tend* left/liberal/progressive and *tend* to vote accordingly. As the Sad Puppies increase in number, this will probably change.

Ian Argent said...

This whole kerfuffle demonstrates one of my newly invented favorite aphorisms. Politics happens, and you can't opt out for long.

Ian Argent said...

This whole kerfuffle demonstrates one of my newly invented favorite aphorisms. Politics happens, and you can't opt out for long.

Ken said...

What Ian Argent said, more or less. The most annoying (as opposed to toxic or lethal, both of which are also offered in job lots) thing about politics is that while you may not be interested in politics, politics is interested in you.

Monty James said...

Social Justice Warriors don't need to issue membership cards, do they? "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them", I should think.

If it would help the discussion, a link to the Larry Correia open letter.

Roberta X, remotely said...

Larry usually argues on the assumption that the Hugo's mean something. Perhaps they still do if you're on the selling side of the SF book business, but as a reader (and even if I became a best-selling writer, I'd never recover all I have spent on books and magazines), they don't mean a damn thing to me.

Rick T said...

I've been reading SF since the 60's, buying since the 70's and had over 1,000 paperbacks at one time. Until the 90's the Hugos meant something to me but lately I just look at the winners and go What the Heck?? Larry C's comments on Sad Puppies just crystallized why the Hugos became a non-indicator of quality, and why I just quit buying SF in the late 90s...

Larry and Co. shining a bright light on the process is a good thing.

Roberta, I'm not kidding when I say I'd nominate I Work on a Starship for a Hugo or a Campell award once you fleshed out the current story. You have created a unique universe and characters I'd like to learn more about.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

I find myself materially in agreement with the comments of Rick T.

Get on that horse! I'd join WorldCon just to nominate you. And I haven't been to or joined a con since the early 1980's.

LabRat said...

A pox on both their houses.

Roberta X said...

I will get back to IWOTS. It's kind of difficult -- a lot of the rough models characters in the current "Lupine" arc have either passed away or melted down.

It's unlikely to ever be the kind of writing that wins awards, or even attracts a publisher.

Tam said...

I long for the days when SF didn't fawn over preachy political morality plays. Remember when it rewarded content-free adventure yarns like Starship Troopers?

Kristophr said...

Don't conflate Vox Day with Larry.

Vox has his own ( well named ) Rabid Puppies slate.

Most of the kerfuffle is from some far left folks who are upset that Larry and Co are pimping work that is not far screaming left. The SP 3 slate is rather inclusive, and had a majority of women writers for some categories. Larry simply wanted to see some non-preachy stuff nominated.

The SJW crowd has hiveminded the Hugos for years, and are butthurt that someone else is doing it.

Yes, when something is voted on, it always gets political, by definition.

Tam: Agreed. You can generally hear the soapbox getting dragged out at the start of any Heinlein novel ...

Kristophr said...

"Does SJW issue membership cards?"

Are you a special precious snowflake who demands that gun-owning libertarian people like Larry be booted out of a convention because their mere presence "triggers" you, makes the entire convention feel like an un-safe place?

If not, then I don't think you get a card.

Anonymous said...

"Larry usually argues on the assumption that the Hugo's mean something. Perhaps they still do, but as a reader, they don't mean a damn thing to me." -Roberta X (edited)

What Larry, Brad and the rest of the Sad Puppies are doing is TRYING to make the Hugos MEAN SOMETHING AGAIN! They are picking what they think are good stories and promoting them. Rather than message stories that are written by the SJW In-Crowd. They want people to be able to pick up a collection of Hugo Award nominated and Hugo Winning stories and actually read the stories. Because the stories are interesting and entertaining, not some politically correct drivel. Just like they were in the 1970's and 1980's when Hugo Award meant something.

Anonymous said...

By the way, this is not a simple left-right squabble. Sad Puppies picked good stories, written by men AND WOMEN across the political spectrum.

Google Annie Bellet. “Goodnight Stars” was nominated by the "misogynist, racist" Sad Puppies. I guess they didn't know she was bi-sexual socialist? Or was it they didn't care?

Brad Torgerson, who lead Sad Puppies 3 is so racist, that he married an African American woman and had a child with her.

Roberta X said...

Anon: It's never simple -- but there's a clear tilt to the principals either side of the line.

I'm irked that Marko's Hugo nomination is gonna probably have a star next to it thanks to this spat. He deserves better.

Also, I'm gettin' old and it just plain pisses me off to have a bunch of kids who weren't even *born* when I started reading this stuff dinking around with it. Sit down, shut up, and read Campbell's The Moon Is Hell, already.

Roberta X said...

Kristophr: in re Larry and V-x D-y, I remember the last go-round. I like Larry's books but if you lie down with a flea, you may end up with the dogs. "Literary merit"? Don't try to fool an old lady with a room full of books. They picked him specifically to poke at their foes back then.

I'm well aware that there are three slates this year and I would suggest those wondering where it goes from here might want to read Michael Flynn's first novel, In The Country Of The Blind.

Larry's like Kim Stanley Robinson (or Flynn) for me: I enjoy his work and ignore his crazier real-world notions. V-x is even easier: I ignore him altogether.

Roberta X said...

Anon 4:41 a.m. wrote: "What Larry, Brad and the rest of the Sad Puppies are doing is TRYING to make the Hugos MEAN SOMETHING AGAIN!"

So are the SJW's. Looky here, SF has been for years dominated by pre-adolescent males. Us wimmens have been a steadily-increasing part of the readership (and writerhood) from the outset but all the Hugos ever have meant was that some subset of a group composed in large part of boys transitioning from beardless to zit-faced thought a given book or story was a good read. Period.

The cost of attending/joining WorldCon in both time and money has skewed the voters older and less regularly-employed, which mostly means college-aged. Y'know one thing that sells well to that crowd? Message fiction.

SF has always been rife with it; Ralph 124C41+ was written by the brother (IIRC) of the socialist/nationalist who came up the the Pledge of Allegiance and it's got an axe to grind. Before that, Jules Verne put a lot of messaging in his work. Brave New World, 1984 and Atlas Shrugged, all message.

You (if you are a typical SF reader) don't mind fiction with a message, you just want it to be a message you approve of. Seems to be a lot of that going around.

(Also: anyone who doesn't know what "Ralph 124C41+" is will probably find themselves not taken too seriously by me. SF is trash but it's got a history. Learn it.)

Ian Argent said...

Intellectually, I suppose I agree with the stated goals of the Puppies, and idealogically their opponents drive me round the bend. (I don't want to call them SJWs, because that muddies the waters for a lot of reasons; among other things it drags in the wretched morass of sound and fury that is GamerGate).

Practically, though, I gotta go with Lab Rat. N wrongs (and this is way past two) don't make a right. And there's a lot of folks in the chorus on both sides down in the mud wronging rights for their chosen side. Larry is (mostly) keeping civil from what I've seen, and John Scalzi is as well. (There was an exchange on twitter where neither came off well, IMO, but that's Twitter as much as anything else). There are voices of reason on both sides beyond the two "heads of camps." (My own biases cause me to note where the Reasoned Discourse (TM) is turning up quicker, but hey, it's their soapbox and my bias).

But I can't help but notice that Larry has been trumpeting to the world that he's winning what has been described as the most important award in any writing, the one whose certificate starts with "Pay to the order of:" and now he wants to change the way the Hugos work. Maybe they needed changing, but I'm unsure if this is the time to do it, or the person who should do it. A Hugo award has neither been necessary nor sufficient for financial success or name recognition in the field of SF/F for a long time now. And Worldcon is a bit player in the wide world of fandom now. I sometimes wonder if they couldn't have just let it be.

Bob said...

Interesting that Starship Troopers got mentioned - - it's the one that Scribner's refused to publish, causing Heinlein to offer it to another publisher. The tale of Heinlein's battles with his Mrs. Grundy-like editor at Scribner's, Alice Dalgliesh, over gun content in Red Planet and mild sexual themes in the other juveniles he wrote for Scribner's is a fascinating tale and a good illustration of the power that editors used to have.

Ian Argent said...

Incidentally, I don't have an ideological litmus test for content providers; if they can entertain me, I will pay to be entertained. Clumsy message fic from any point in the spectrum annoys me; the last writer to so annoy me was Tom Kratman, as it happens. Well-done message fic (RAH, Misty Lackey, to pick two semi-random examples from days of yore; or Mike Williamson more recently) I will cheerfully read and pay good cash money to do so.

Ian Argent said...

@Bob - one of the reasons I don't know if this was the time is that the powers of the NYC Publishing Houses to gatekeep has been decisively broken. It's not just Baen willing to publish whatever - their output is tiny compared to Tor's (5-6 a month vs over a hundred per Larry C commenting on the professionalism of Tom Doherty - who Larry says reads everything Tor publishes).

Kristophr said...

Vox has written some stuff I liked, and the work that was nominated was pretty good. However, he was put on SP 1 to generate rage, for sure.

Vox is unhappy over some of Brad's picks for SP 3, being the racist he is ( hell, he's probably also upset over Brad's wife ), so fuck him and the horse he rode in on.

Roberta X said...

V-x is one of the very few people whose work I won't bother to look at -- I don't care if he's the greatest stylist the field has ever seen (I'm told he isn't), he's just too bloody racist, sexist and ill-mannered for me. --And consider, I read some of John Norman's sword-and-whatever series (and found it hilarious -- I guess you're not supposed to take it that way. Oh well).

Again,this business of getting out the vote is how voting *works.* It's not a clever hack or an attack or anything of the sort, despite what any of the parties to it tell you, and it's not "reclaiming" anything except who gets a neat-looking dust collector and another Gold Star Employee Of The Month sticker on the dust-jackets of their books.

It is is if baseball players were squabbling over who wins the MVP award as though it determined who wins the World Series.

It's those "Pay to the order of..." prizes that count.

Monty James said...

If I ever pay $50 to vote in this thing, somebody call the SWAT team because it means I've got a gun to my head. Still, it is fun to see the Hive stub its' toe on their Long March through the culture.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

Where are people getting the idea that a Worldcon supporting membership is $50? It's $40. I paid it yesterday.

kahr40 said...

I vote for the SF I like by buying it and that's the only vote that really means anything.

Kristophr said...

I paid my $40.

Hell, you get a crap-ton of free e-book reading material with the supporting membership. Win.

I intend to read the non-slate stuff as well, to be fair. Some of it might even be good.

Double win.

Kristophr said...

RobertaX: Unless you are a young teenage male, or a heavy SMBD person, Norman's stuff is hilarious.

And I'm sure he appreciates the money.