Less than a week ago, I got to see the 2015 Hugo nominations announcement break over the attendees of Eastercon like a fart in a quiet elevator. Apparently, a group of right-wing genre-fiction fans and authors calling itself the Sad Puppies managed to convince enough people to buy Worldcon membership to vote in candidates for the Hugos calculated to piss off the left-wing genre-fiction fans and authors. Since then, everyone has been talking about how their tribe is fighting against the other tribe, casting about for stones to hurl at the other side.
I don’t want to cast stones, living in the glass house of the internet as I do, but maybe there are some more important things we should be talking about? Like, five of them?
1. The New York Times Bestseller’s List
As of the 11th of April, fiction lists (hardcover, paperback, and e-book) are exactly tied between male and female authors. Although I don’t know the authors’ politics, there doesn’t seem to be any gender war going on in the place that actually matters: the books most people are willing to spend money on. The only genre fiction currently in the best-sellers’ list is the Martian by Andy Weir, which is the best scifi book I’ve read in years and should be taught in schools. This only goes to show that the Hugos are a sop for the people who don’t win the REAL literary prize: having your work bought, read, and enjoyed by millions of people.
2. 47 North
The only Hugo category anyone cares about, Best Novel, includes Lines of Departure, published by 47 North, Amazon’s genre imprint. You couldn’t say hello to someone at Eastercon without hearing how Amazon is (at best) emulsifying the publishing industry (a good summary of what seemed to be the general consensus can be found here ). What does it mean that Amazon’s pet e-press has enough of a following to get a nomination for Best Novel?
3. The Value of the Award
Winning a Hugo used to mean a big jump in sales for a book, but recently that correlation has been weakening (http://whatever.scalzi.com/2015/04/04/a-note-about-the-hugo-nominations-this-year/). Recent shenanigans aren’t going to make anyone more likely to take the award seriously. The Sad Puppies aren’t striking a blow for their political faction, they’re striking a blow against the Hugos.
4. The Taint of Crazy
Some of the authors on the Angry Puppies’ got roped into it unawares, which cannot be good for their careers, as they are now grouped with authors who say things like:
“I have no hatred in my heart for any man’s politics, policies, or faith, any more than I have hatred for termites; but once they start undermining my house where I live, it is time to exterminate them.”
And what about the guy who wrote that? (no, I won’t link to him or mention his name here, but you can find him by googling that awful termite quote). How is anyone going to read HIS books anymore? They might be the greatest works of literature since Shakespeare, but they were written by a guy who advocates exterminating people. That’s a serious case of crazy-taint.
5. Literally Anything Else
The sun is shining through my window, making me uncomfortably warm. Someone broke the window into the basement, which we’ll have to replace now, I guess, which means another week of dealing with my wife’s mom’s cousin, the contractor, whose sister just said something catty about my wife’s mom. Meanwhile, my two-year-old daughter has decided its easier to learn tumbling than to watch where she’s going when she’s running. All of these things are more important than the Broken Hugos.