Wednesday, August 26, 2015

2015 Hugo Award

Interested parties can read my previous article on politicizing the 2015 Hugo Award here.

The winners of the 2015 Hugo Award were announced recently, but the most noteworthy thing about it from a news perspective is who didn't get an award.  Five categories were issued "No Award," which means nobody won for Best Novella, Best Short Story, Best Related Work, Best Editor Short Form, and Best Editor Long Form.

Those paying attention to the controversy surrounding this year's Hugo will note the polarization of media coverage.  Leftists claim that the Puppies' efforts to stack the ballots is an attempt by white men to eliminate diversity in science fiction.  Conservatives say that their intent is to reclaim the award to represent quality of story over politics.  The Puppies are fighting to keep from being discriminated against for political views that have nothing to do with the fiction they write.  The lack of overlap between leftist and conservative claims is noteworthy.

It's ludicrous to have to point this out, but the Puppies' slate of 2015 ballots included not just white men, but women and people of color. Unfortunately, identity politics has poisoned our common culture to the extent that we have to count things like this to debunk a claim of "lack of diversity".  Note also that when 2015 Puppies leader Brad Torgersen's family photo was posted online, a journalist covering the Hugos called Mrs. Torgersen, who happens to be black, a "shield"; that is, implying that Brad Torgersen married her because she was black, and hence would shield him from accusations of racism.  Disgusting, yes.  And par for the course.  Now that we get to paint everyone with an extremist brush by claiming that Vox Day speaks for all Puppies, it's reasonable to say that Arthur Chu speaks for everyone on the anti-Puppy side.  It's an ugly game, but as long as it goes, I'll play by the rules.

Next year's Hugo Award promises similar controversy, though the Puppies' leader will be Kate Paulk.  I am reasonably certain that Kate Paulk is a woman (and will likely be called a shield of some kind, also).

Considering the slate of Puppy authors, the claim that the Puppies are sexist racists out to reclaim science fiction for old white men has been proven false.  Why, then, does it still get traction?  Either its adherents haven't bothered to educate themselves on the facts, or they have educated themselves and decided that the facts need to be sacrificed on the altar of politics (a frequent occurrence).  It's not as though the books on the Puppies' slate promulgated conservative political views: it's that some of the Puppy authors happened to be conservatives.

This needs to be emphasized, because it goes to the heart of the problem: the Hugos no longer represent the quality of science fiction, but the perceived quality of certain science fiction authors.  The Hugo Award is now a political litmus test, and if you're a conservative (or liked by conservatives or associated with a conservative) you don't rate.

How can you game a system that has already been gamed?  How can you cheat if the rules are already stacked against you?

Leftists are claiming victory now because they've kept the conservative Puppy riff-raff out through No Awarding their slate.  This means, for example, that the extremely talented editor Toni Weisskopf didn't receive a deserved award because angry influential leftists don't like her, not because her work was shoddy.  It wasn't.  It isn't.  It never is.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that I met Ms. Weisskopf a couple of times when I worked on video projects with her late husband, the great Hank Reinhardt.)

Conservatives are claiming victory because they've proven that the Hugos are driven by politics over quality.  The No Awards prove it.  The disgusting celebration of so many No Awards this year slams the point home.

What's next?

Now that we know beyond any shadow of doubt that the Hugo Award is a political litmus test, it must no longer be seen as a measure of quality.  It's a marketing tool for protected authors.  It's a dot whack on a cover that will help the right people sell books.  It's a leftist victory stamp.  It should be ignored.

I admire the Puppies' efforts to fight on, to push back against the inevitable politicization of the Hugo Award in 2016, but they have to remember O'Sullivan's First Law: "All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing."  O'Sullivan has yet to be proven wrong on this point.  Journalism, entertainment media, education: the left owns these things and they will not let them go without a big, bloody fight.

Good luck.

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