Playing by the Rules

Ah, the Hugo Awards and Sad Puppies. Once again this year we have a clash of interests between the Typical WorldCon Voter, a member of a small SJW clique known for nominating works based on the sex, race, and/or orientation of the author as well as how preachy the nominated work is on the issues of sex, race, and/or orientation. (Actual elements of science fiction and fantasy are not required to be present in the work.) And on the other hand, we have Brad Torgerson’s Sad Puppies 3, which is about increasing the diversity and inclusivity of the Hugo Awards. No, really. Stop laughing, that’s what it’s actually aboutHaving more, different, stuff to read. That’s actually science fiction and fantasy, too!

Of course, last year’s Sad Puppies proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that far from being the most prestigious SF/F award, the Hugos are actually the playground of a highly politicized in-group willing to slander anyone who dares to challenge their supremacy. They’re already calling Jim Butcher a fascist simply because SP3’s nomination list includes the latest of the Dresden Files novels. (You know, that really popular urban fantasy series? So popular it got a TV show?)

But of course, Sad Puppies – like GamerGate – is a consumer movement rather than an astroturf campaign, so there are some differences between the members. Vox Day, who is both an editor and a Hugo-nominated writer of SF/F works, has put out his own suggested nomination slate, which overlaps with the “official” SP3 slate but differs in some important respects.

For example, the Rabid Puppies slate plays by the actual, unwritten rules of the Hugo Awards: namely, a work may be dropped from nomination because of the author’s offensive behavior. Additionally, Rabid Puppies uses the principle that an Author Of Color Other Than European Caucasian may guilt-trip people into voting for him Becuz Opreshun, even though I’m fairly sure none of the people who vote for Vox Day actually do so because he’s Native American.

Of course, you can say that this “ideological conformity of the author” standard is against the spirit of the Sad Puppies campaign, and that would be true. But it’s also true that doing so is entirely within the bounds of the Hugo nomination process as it now stands. Which, I think, is entirely the point of that part of Rabid Puppies – the author blacklisted due to ideological nonconformity is in a unique position to illustrate what “the shoe on the other foot” looks like to people who don’t mind ideological purity tests as long as they’re the ones in charge of it. It’s not as if he’s not going to be blacklisted by the Typical WorldCon Voters clique again this year no matter what he does, after all.

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