You probably know someone affected. This may even have happened to you. You go down the cubicle farm at your office, hoping to chat with your nerdy/geek friend who is usually your go-to person for the latest news on the Marvel Movies and you find them curled up in a fetal position muttering, “Sad puppies, sad, sad, bad, BAD puppies!”
What the hell is going on?
Is there an invasion of depressed canines happening somewhere?
Uh, thing is? Kind of.
So, there’s this group of… hmm, polite word, polite word… okay, we’ll call them “conservative” writers and fans of science fiction, many of whom were directly involved in #GamerGate. They will tell you that their agenda is a return of the rip-roaring fun of Golden Age science fiction, when men were men and women were wrapped tightly in their bulging, muscular arms. On the surface this doesn’t sound particularly horrifying (I mean, who doesn’t have a few of those guilty pleasures?) until you dig into the organizers/leader of this movement, a man who goes by the pseudonym Vox Day. Vox Day is actually Theodore Beale, who has gone on record to say that he’s against women’s rights—all of them, including the right to vote. These folks call themselves the Rabid Puppies. They are apparently the more extreme version of another puppy-related annoyance, the Sad Puppies.
What Mr. Beale and his Puppy cohorts have done to make your fan friend into a quivering heap is that they organized a voting bloc to nominate themselves and their cronies for various categories for the Hugo Award.
Many people outside of science fiction have heard of the Hugo Award. It’s one of our two big ones. It often is the sort of award you might see on the cover of a book, because getting it is considered a Very Big Deal.
What a lot of non-fan folks don’t know is that the Hugo has always been decided and awarded by a very specific group of people: members of WorldCon, a traveling science fiction and fantasy convention. Anyone who is going to the con gets to nominate (and subsequently vote). But, since the con is sometimes in places like Tokyo, there’s also a significantly cheaper, non-attending membership available for those who aren’t making the trip, but who would still like to nominate and vote for one of the biggest, most prestigious awards our field has to offer.
Many categories are decided by a small margin of votes because, when you think about it, what are the odds that a bunch of random fans have all read and liked the same short story. Book, maybe, movie, for sure—but short story, novella (what even is a novella?)… yeah, not so much.
You can probably already guess what happened at this point, right? Yep, The Sad Puppies handed out a slate, pre-written list of the people they wanted to appear on the nominations. They told all their GamerGate buddies that they could stick to those awful folks they call SJWs (Social Justice Warriors, the political correctness police/Feminazis, etc.) by plunking down a mere $50 supporting membership and all voting for the same things.
Well, they did it.
They took our award nominations—almost entirely. Weirdly, they left the graphic novel category untouched, which means, that among the nominees this year is fantastic comic book with a Muslim, immigrant, female superhero as the title character: Ms. Marvel. But, beyond that, they sullied nearly ever other category with people who may have literally been published by Neo-Nazis.
Your fan friend may not recover.
Especially since the Sad/Rabid Puppies’ WorldCon membership will give them a chance to do this again next year, since the voting rights extend another year (provided they bought them this year.) I’ve been reminding people that the fight ain’t over until it’s over. You can still buy supporting memberships for this year’s WorldCon which gives YOU the power to cast the “No Award” vote to the categories that were hijacked. If you decide to join this battle, please note that you have to use the drop-down menu to select supporting. (I bought mine Saturday night.)
What’s made a lot of people angry about this, beyond the craziness of racist anti-feminists, is that, like me, they don’t really pay attention to the Hugo Awards until after the nominations are announced (which happened last Saturday, April 4 at 2:00 CST, I know, because I was literally refreshing my screen at work every two seconds.)
Many of us casual fans like to make our reading lists based on what WorldCon attendees/members suggested. It’s like getting a recommendation from a friend who is more widely read in the field than you are. The books aren’t always The Best, but you get a sense of what most people who like the same stuff you do are reading this year, what they thought were their favorites, and you often get a fairly broad sampling of “what’s trending.”
Now I’m stuck with a reading list that was concocted by some self-serving jerks, some of whom are racist. Lots and lots of whom think that my writing as a queer woman is simply NO FUN because I’m queer and female (nothing at all to do with the actual fun-quotient of my work.)
Excuse me while I join your friend here under the desk.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock