I’m under some fairly serious deadline pressure right now and will be for a couple of months. So I won’t be writing the sort of long essays I did last year on the subject of literary awards in general and the Hugo awards in particular. That said, since the nominations for this year’s Hugo awards have now been published and it’s obvious that the Rabid Puppies have been up to some mischief again, I figure I should say a few words.
Let me start by quoting something that George R.R. Martin said in a recent post he made on his “Not a Blog” blog:
Sad Puppies 4, this year headed by Kate Paulk, changed its approach and produced a recommended reading list, with anywhere from one to ten suggestions in each category, rather than slating four or five. The process was open and democratic, which Sad Puppies 3 often claimed to be but never was. Paulk also avoided the ugly excesses of the previous campaign, and never stooped to the sort of invective that her predecessor, Brad Torgersen, had been so fond of, with all his talk of CHORFs and Puppy-kickers. For all this she should be commended.
I agree with George and I think that’s as much as needs to be said on the subject of the Sad Puppies. Whatever I think of any specific recommendation they made is neither here nor there. The Sad Puppies have as much right to make recommendations as does anyone else. Locus magazine does it routinely and no one objects—nor should they.
The situation with the Rabid Puppies, however, is quite different. It’s obvious that they voted as a disciplined bloc again this year and they have enough supporters to make a difference in at least some of the categories. They also, this year, used the sleazy tactic of including in their slate a number of works by authors who have no connection to them at all and who might very well have gotten nominated anyway. They did the same thing in a number of other categories, such as best editor.
In short, the only difference between the Rabid Puppies this year compared to last year is that they have gotten slimier. This should come as no surprise to anyone, since slime is pretty much Theodore Beale’s stock in trade.
The question which arises—which is what I want to address in this essay—is how people planning to vote for the Hugo awards should handle the issue.
The way it was handled last year by a very large number of voters was to use a club labeled “No Award” and wield that club with no discrimination at all. In any category where the Puppies’ slates predominated, these voters simply smashed the whole category—often at the expense of authors and editors who were quite blameless in the affair and at least some of whom probably did deserve to win the award.
I thought the tactic was stupid last year, but I understood why so many people fell back on it. Most Hugo voters were caught off guard by the surprising effectiveness of the combined slate tactics of the two Puppies factions. By the time they realized that the Hugos had largely been hijacked, it was much too late for anyone to organize an effective response. Willy-nilly, what happened was that people turned “No Award” into their own counterslate.
Well and good. But this is 2016, not 2015, and if anyone has been caught by surprise this time around you must have been asleep. This time, you’ve got no excuse for reacting emotionally without thinking it through.
We all have mottos and axioms that we often use as guidelines to get through life. One of my very favorites since I saw the movie (A Man For All Seasons) when it came out half a century ago, is this line by Sir Thomas More:
Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world… but for Wales?
The line is occasioned by Sir Thomas More’s reaction to being betrayed by someone who was given a bishopric in Wales in exchange for his treachery. The point being made here is that selling your soul to the devil is a dumb thing to do under any circumstances, but for Wales?
What are you, a complete idiot?
Which brings me to the point of this essay:
Theodore Beale and the people who follow him are idiots. They are petty chiselers and pipsqueaks whose notion of “the righteous battle against leftist wickedness and social justice warriors” is to try to hijack a science fiction award.
A science fiction award? Meaning no disrespect to anyone who cares about the Hugos, but the very fact that Beale and his gaggle of co-conspirators think this is a serious way to wage political struggle should tip you off that they’re a bunch of clowns with delusions of grandeur.
So treat them that way. This time around—remember, it’s 2016, not 2015—don’t hyperventilate, don’t work yourself up into a frenzy, don’t overact. Just treat the nominations the same way you would in any other year. Ignore who nominated who because, first, it’s irrelevant; and secondly, if you do you will be falling for a hustle by an idiot like Beale—which makes you an even bigger idiot.
Is anyone who’s planning to vote for the Hugos so ignorant or so stupid that they really think authors like Neal Stephenson, Jim Butcher, Lois McMaster Bujold, Brandon Sanderson, Alastair Reynolds and Stephen King need a slimeball like Theodore Beale’s approval to get nominated for an award? Are they so ignorant or stupid that they think editors like Toni Weisskopf, artists like Larry Elmore and movie directors like Joss Whedon and Ridley Scott are in the same boat?
Grow the fuck up.
Just vote, that’s all. Take each category for what it is and vote for whatever or whoever you think is most entitled to the award this year. Do NOT use “No Award” unless you really think there’s no work or person nominated in a category who deserves it at all.
It’s bad enough under any circumstances to behave like a child having a temper tantrum.
But for Beale?