Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Of Hugos, Sad Puppies, and Worthy Blog Entries

Over the last few years, I've been happily diverted on a regular basis by the plight of The Hugo Awards. The Hugo awards, for those still in the dark, are self-proclaimed as "science fiction’s most prestigious award" since 1955. And they're awarded by anyone who is interested enough to pay $40 for a membership: "The Hugo Awards are voted on by members of the World Science Fiction Convention (“Worldcon”), which is also responsible for administering them."

Anyone can join. Anyone who joins can vote. Just, well, if you value your right to live a peaceful, unbullied existence, vote RIGHT. Or is that left? Er... vote CORRECTLY.

Enter Larry Correia, a friend of mine and one of the nicest, most accessible and honest people I know. If you manage to refrain from telling him how he should think, calling him nasty names, or claiming that the entertainment he enjoys is unworthy, he's a wonderful guy. Funny, humble (kinda), eager to share his knowledge on how to become a bestselling author. A real decent sort. Husband to an amazing lady and father to several awesome daughters.

Larry, however, doesn't play well with others when those others want him to conform. He has a loud acerbic potty mouth and he uses it to cry foul in hilarious fashion whenever fouls are thrown.

Larry and the Hugos are not friends.

Three years ago, Larry grew tired of the prevalent idea in the Worldcon community that the only Right and True SF/F deserving of awards also conveyed a Message. Or were written by minorities. Yanno, like women, People of Color, non-heterosexuals, and the like. Because white straight men are, naturally, incapable of writing great SF/F. Or something.

Larry - who, it should be noted, is NOT white - decided to do something about it, and Sad Puppies was born. (Check out Larry's own Sad Puppies blog tag for a more complete history. Just get popcorn and a very comfy chair, first.)

Sad Puppies set out in tongue-in-cheek fashion to expose the bias of the majority of the Worldcon voters by asserting that the then-current voting norms were "the leading cause of puppy-related sadness." The movement urged followers to get involved in Worldcon by voting for well-written fiction that was more entertaining than preachy. Larry proposed a list of worthy titles, but never once suggested that his followers should limit themselves to his favorites.

Three years later, the suggested Sad Puppies 3 - The Saddening - slate dominated the nominations. The vocal message-and-minority loving Worldcon members had a complete breakdown. As they've been doing for years, they've attacked Larry personally, calling him a racist and a misogynist. Brad Torgerson - a white, straight male who only coincidentally has been married to a black woman for the last 21 years - has been helping run the movement this year and got painted with the same brush.

Possibly worse, the authors of works on the Sad Puppies slate have been maligned, regardless of the quality of their work (more on that, below).

Last night, Entertainment Weekly stepped in it. Big time. In a truly reprehensible bit of "journalistic" laziness, the writer (who I'm not naming because shaming her for her laziness isn't the point, and she's obviously not actually affiliated with either side beyond her 30 second bit of "research" for her article) presented the following headline:

Hugo Award nominations fall victim to misogynistic, racist voting campaign

Yeah. The article followed suit, claiming that the Sad Puppies only wanted white males to win... utterly ignoring the presence of women, minorities, and homosexual lead characters in the Sad Puppies slate.

Larry, no stranger to controversy or to lies being spread about him, took to Twitter and Facebook and quickly disabused Entertainment Weekly. As of this morning, when I finally noticed this delicious bit of fun, the article bears a new headline (Correction: Hugo Awards voting campaign sparks controversy) and has been greatly altered. The following disclaimer appears at the top:

CORRECTION: After misinterpreting reports in other news publications, EW published an unfair and inaccurate depiction of the Sad Puppies voting slate, which does, in fact, include many women and writers of color. As Sad Puppies’ Brad Torgerson explained to EW, the slate includes both women and non-caucasian writers, including Rajnar Vajra, Larry Correia, Annie Bellet, Kary English, Toni Weisskopf, Ann Sowards, Megan Gray, Sheila Gilbert, Jennifer Brozek, Cedar Sanderson, and Amanda Green.
This story has been updated to more accurately reflect this. EW regrets the error.

Well, of course they regret it. Larry may actually sue one of his libelers this time.

What I thought was interesting was that even the "corrected" article still links to Philip Sandifer's blog post, calling it "worth reading in full" and explains that Philip's blog "addresses what this disaster means for the sci-fi world."

Philip's post is entitled The Day Fandom Ended. He spends exactly ZERO time discussing the merits of the nominated works, only detailing the Bad Politics of Vox Day, who fronts a Sad Puppies spin-off entitled Rabid Puppies. He claims that the Hugos are a completely useless award, since books that dare to be liked and promoted by someone with Bad Views have now been nominated. He ends by calling for voters to vote "No Award Given" in every category dominated by the Sad Puppies slate. 
Because, naturally, it is impossible for someone who thinks bad thoughts to like ANYTHING that is good, ergo, NONE of the books on the slate are worthy of the award.
I don't know Vox Day, and I have no idea if the Bad Politics Philip describes are actually his views. Given the way he's blowing everything else out of proportion, I rather inclined to visit a salt mine while I read Philip's denunciations.
But I can't help but echo Larry's oft repeated position: Even if Vox is a Bad Person... who cares? If the Hugo awards are only supposed to be given to Good People who have Correct Politics and who Never Say Anything Wrong (as defined by the message-and-minority-loving Worldcon folks), why do we even bother reading at all? Why do we talk about quality writing and excellent plot and moving themes? Why list blurbs at all? Why not just have every nominee spell out their pedigree, sexual orientation history, and political views, so we can vote on what's Really Important in the SF/F world?
As apparently awful as Larry's position is, I'm rather solidly behind him (mainly because he's a big guy, and I can hide). Books are good if the content is good. Authors may be bad people, but if they write good books, those books are still good. Content is good if I enjoy reading it, if I learn something from it, AND if it promotes good things.
I don't care what my favorite authors' politics are. Do you?


  1. Yes, I figured the Hugo's were BS since JK Rowling got one. The kinds of people who would pay attention to what is called science fiction today are very different from those in 1955. It is extremely ironic considering the change and significance of computers since then.

    Physics and technology are incapable of caring about social BS. LOL

    1. Actually, I'm happy JK got a Hugo - they're for SFF, not just SF, after all, and there are few fantasy books in recent history that can reach the overall quality and popularity of the Harry Potter series.

  2. Larry's hilarious. I'm also glad he's not afraid to speak up about how he feels about things. And I agree with you Robin that Jo deserved the Hugo.

    1. Right? I could laugh along with Larry all day. And... *checks the time* almost have.

      I'd be more productive if Larry were a tad LESS hilarious.

  3. I love Larry, he has been very nice to me from the beginning and treated me like an equal as an author, when I know we are not. He is a big Teddy bear and I had never hear him say anything rude. He is helpful and a great mentor to many. I have had the privilege to be in some of the writer's conventions he frequents and look forward to seen him every year.

    1. You speak the truth. Larry is very, very cool.

  4. I had no idea what the Sad Puppies were or what they were all about until my friend Jeffro Johnson was on the slate for best fan-writer. It was kind of tough figuring out the whos and the whys for someone who'd been disconnected from the modern SF/F field as I was, but the last two months, seeing the response to and vitriol against the Puppies have made me not just realize how necessary they are but have made me a die-hard partisan. If it had just been Larry, Brad & Vox and a few other writers talking about things, I might have been "well, that's cool, best of luck to all of them"; it's those who cannot stop talking absolute trash, nonsense and slander against them that have opened my eyes.

    Unfortunately, the stress of following the news of the last couple days have dang near made my head explode :/

    1. Yeah, this sort of fun is not for the non-sociopathic. *evil cackle* ;)

      It is strange to witness the sheer level of vitriol leveled against anyone at all associated with the SP movement. The name-calling, the flat-out provably false lies, the attempted career assassination. SP's aren't trying to destroy anyone - they just want everyone to play nice and be who they say they are. Bullies and their toys, huh?