The Hugos have turned into another case of slipshod reporting. The Sad Puppies lost, to follow the popular line of reasoning from news agencies like NPR, The Guardian, and Wired, and Diversity won.

Except even a cursory reading of the Sad Puppies position makes it pretty clear that diversity was never the problem.

More on that in a bit. First, some history.

Months ago, I stumbled across the term “Sad Puppies” on one of the sites I regularly visit. I can’t recall which one, and attempts to dig up the article have proven futile, but my guess would be either io9 or Engadget. The article discussed George R. R. Martin’s attack of the Sad Puppies, filled with attempts at neutral commentary in between the various Martin quotes.

I came away scratching my head. The article was written like a round table discussion between insiders, filled with exclusive catch phrases and references. The Sad Puppies were bad, because. . . well, I wasn’t sure.

Clearly I was missing something. Normally, I’d probably just move on to the next shiny news article, but I grew up in the Sci Fi world, and although I’ve followed the Hugos about as closely as I’ve follow the NBA (i.e. read up on the winner at the end of the season), I was curious about what this meant.

So I did something completely crazy: I went to the Sad Puppies website.

Rather than clear things up, I was more confused. The Sad Puppies lists started with a preface noting things like “SAD PUPPIES 3 list is a recommendation. Not an absolute.” It went on to clarify that it was “the best list (we think!) of entirely deserving works, writers and editors.” The introduction ends with a totally noninflammatory “If you agree with our slate below — and we suspect you might — this is YOUR chance to make sure YOUR voice is heard.”

Holy Cow, Batman, that’s some harsh language there. Step aside, Mussolini, we have a new dictator in town!

Yes, they were recommending people vote for certain books for the Hugo Awards, yet nearly every single line was qualified with a “we liked this, but do what you think is best.”

Then I scrolled down to the list to find a set of works representing a variety of authors of various genders (between 20-25% women), and races (at least as far as I could tell from last name. I didn’t do any sort of genealogical lookup), several of whom I’ve read in the past and enjoyed.

It’s impossible for me to convey my absolute bewilderment with the backlash to the Sad Puppies group. What was wrong with a group of people wanting to vote for the books they like? They’re not strong arming people, they’re not buying up ballots, they’re simply putting out recommendations and encouraging people to vote.

Isn’t that how elections are supposed to work?

Things got plenty messy after that. George R. R. Martin, with his celebrity status, brought the national media spotlight to the campaign, which brought out the crazies like Vox Day and his Rabid Puppies, whose initial goal was to burn the Hugo Awards to the ground before they were talked down by the Sad Puppies founders.

So what were the end results of the award ceremonies? They were burned to the ground by the people who claimed to be protecting the Hugo Awards.

So who won? The crazies. The Rabid Puppies. The very people that the Hugo Defenders claimed they were trying to stop. The Rabid Puppies got almost exactly what they wanted.

You can almost hear Vox Day cackling in his joyous post about the Hugo Awards going for his vote for Best Novel, followed by a whole bunch of “No Awards.”

And how is diversity supposed to have won when the award goes to “No Award” instead of Kary English for Best Short Story, the second place winner. How did diversity win by skipping over Toni Weisskopf for the third year in a row?

From my search of those women, neither of them appear to be inherently political. Neither of them have stated anything inflammatory or derogatory, at least not on any record I can find. So is their work really so piss poor that it’s better to give the award to nobody than to them? Is this really an example of diversity winning?

I am honestly flabbergasted. It really makes no damn sense.

Sad Puppy Is Sad

Sad Puppy Is Sad

Now, I’m going to try to extrapolate a bit here. I’ve gone through both George R. R. Martin and Larry Correia’s take on the situation, and I think both have gotten so caught up in the minutia that the overall point was missed. I also think Larry Correia is a bulldog in his political views, so his style likely repels those who see the world differently. So I’m going to back up a bit and try to put things in place.

The writing world is dominated by liberals. If your liberal, you may not have noticed. If your conservative, like about half of the United States, you’re nodding your head. It’s often the little things that give it away, the little items that slip in that wouldn’t come from a conservative’s pen.

It’s also pretty obvious that Mr. Martin doesn’t see the conservative/liberal breakdown in writing, which leads me to conclude that he’s liberal.

(Update: I checked a little more, and he’s supported at least one democrat publicly, so I’m pretty confident that I got that one right)

Which is fine. It has no bearing at all with the amount of anticipation I have for the next Song of Ice and Fire. And it typically doesn’t affect how much I enjoy other authors, either.

Anyway, it’s hard not to have your worldview creep into your writing, especially relating to issues your passionate about. And if Facebook has taught us anything, it’s that some people are super passionate about politics.

How has that affected the Sci Fi world?

Drastically.

Sci Fi is often a commentary either on the world now or the way the world is heading. Classics such as Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, and 1984 have been latched on to so firmly because people of all political persuasions see warnings about the future in the writing.

But what happens if the hypothetical future reflects something you find idiotic? This is one of the reasons I’ve gotten frustrated with recent Sci Fi. How many of them talk about a future dominated by corporations? Just in the past year I’ve read Leviathan Wakes and Atlas Cloud, both of which include, to some extent, that liberal notion. I turned off the critically acclaimed Continuum as soon as it announced that corporations had taken over the world.

Seriously, corporations are NOT going to control the future. But that’s a topic for another post.

Global Warming is another one that pops up as the foundation for several Sci Fi novels, such as Ready Player One, often in ways that leave conservatives shaking their head.

Conservatives  do the same thing in their books, there’s just fewer popular examples. After this Sad Puppies fight started, I checked out Monster Hunters International. Whoooweee, does Larry Correia have it out on liberals in that story. If I were liberal, there’s no way I’d vote for that book for a Hugo award.

Or, for another popular example, Orson Scott Card’s works certainly have a conservative political bent, especially in his later stories. If you don’t agree with one of his political points, I can see how it would be hard to get past that and actually enjoy the story.

That brings us back around to the purpose of the Sad Puppies. They’re seeing books they like passed over by a traditionally liberal voting base, who are instead selecting books filled with liberal ideals that the conservative Sad Puppies founders find grating. So they’re reaching out to their fans, who are obviously going to be conservative leaning (seriously, there’s no way a hardcore liberal could enjoy sitting through Larry Correia’s work), just asking them to vote.

This leads to the liberal leaning traditional voter group not happy seeing their favored works passed over by the influence of a new, more conservative voting bloc.

That’s really the end all, be all of the story. It’s just another right/left turf war. Everything else is just distraction.

To keep their turf, the traditional crowd is willing to burn the awards to the ground. To keep the traditional crowd from winning, the Rabid Puppies are willing to burn the awards to the ground.

Think this will somehow be magically resolved next year?

So no, diversity didn’t win the Hugo Awards. The people who wanted the prize destroyed won.

George R. R. Martin definitely got it right when he said that the awards were broken. Many would argue that they’ve been broken for a long time. And the way I see it, it’s unlikely that they’ll get fixed any time soon, if ever.