Archive for August, 2015


2015 Hugo Awards

August 15, 2015

Since I started participating in the Hugo awards, this is the first time it hasn’t been fun. I’m not always enthusiastic about every single nominee, but usually there are several that I’m looking forward to, plus one or two more that surprise me. This year, even the few nominees that earned their way on the ballot didn’t feel particularly outstanding to me. Maybe it was an indifferent year for science fiction and fantasy in general, although I read a few things that I think would have been worthy nominees. Unfortunately, thanks to the actions of various Puppies, the majority of the ballot was swamped with junk instead.

I’m not going to recap who the Puppies are or speculate about what the Puppies were trying to accomplish, whether their arguments have any merit or what the best response is to them. Those topics have been discussed to death on numerous other blogs and I don’t have anything to add. Most of that discussion has been about the Hugo Awards as an institution, though. I want to give the perspective of an individual voter and WorldCon member.

The first year I had an opportunity to attend WorldCon, the Hugo Awards ceremony was probably the thing I was most looking forward to. It felt like a chance to be part of history. As it turned out, the ceremony was a bit of a letdown, not many of the winners were in attendance. WorldCon overall was still a lot of fun, though, and it inspired me to continue participating, usually as a supporting member but I’ve attended once since then and I would like to go to more in the future.

I have to assume that there are a lot of fans this year for whom it is their first WorldCon, or even their first convention of any kind. I think those are the people are the ones who are being hurt the most by this Puppy manipulation of the awards. No matter how good the rest of the convention is, I think it will be hard to ignore the fact that the Hugo ceremony is not going to be what it should be. It will be hard to make a celebration of No Awards, and even for the few good stories that got nominated it will feel like they’re winning by default rather than being measured against strong competition. The WorldCon organizers didn’t ask for all of this to happen at their convention, and who knows when they’ll get another opportunity. Even for the several thousand who joined just to vote on the Hugos, while their participation is welcome, it would be better for everyone if they were doing it because they were interested and wanted to contribute, rather than feeling like this was a job and they had to pick a side.

Everyone says the Hugos will survive, and I tend to agree. I think the Puppy voters will get tired of throwing away their money in the name of making whatever statement they’re trying to make. They will also have a harder time maintaining the charade that their campaign is about anything other than self-promotion, because after this year there will be fewer neutral parties willing to appear on any slate. The nomination rules will probably be changed to make slates less effective, although I’m afraid that will make the whole process more confusing and could scare some potential nominators away. In the long run this will mostly be forgotten, but in the short term it probably means that at least two WorldCons are going to have their Hugos basically invalidated, and I don’t like that they have to make that sacrifice. In my opinion the harassment policy should be invoked against the Puppy organizers and they should be banned from the convention and disqualified from the awards on that basis. I get that the Hugo organizers won’t do this, they would argue that the integrity of the awards depends on strict adherence to the bylaws, not arbitrary decisions by administrators. I could make some counter arguments but I don’t want to go down that road right now. I will just say that when a group has a stated goal of disrupting the awards, it wouldn’t bother me at all if they were barred from participating.

I don’t think there’s any point in making predictions this year. With so many more voters than usual, anything is possible. The Puppies don’t seem to be expecting to win, but whether that means that non-Puppies win or it’s all no awards, who knows? Maybe there was a big influx of Chinese voters who wanted to support Cixin Liu and don’t know anything about Puppies. I’m not really invested in the results this year, I don’t have any favorites that I’m rooting for. I considered skipping this blog post too. But then I realized that’s what the Puppies would want. They want people, at least people who aren’t them, to lose interest. Well, voting this year was less fun and more of a chore, but I did it. Blogging about it wasn’t as much fun either, but blogging about the Hugos seems to be what I do, even if nobody ever sees it. If nothing else, it’s an affirmation that I’m still a part of the process. If I have to put up with a couple of down years before it becomes fun again, I can do that. So I’ll see you back here, same time next year.