Apparently, a group who have decided to call themselves the 'Sad Puppies' openly gamed the system to suit their agenda, which is to say, to get as many books/stories/nominees by right-winged authors (or books that don't have "liberal" messages or something? I don't even know) onto the ballots. They whipped their right winged fan base into a frenzy with talk of SJW (Social Justice Warrior... as if fighting for Social Justice is a bad thing... What is this world?) agendas and conspiracies and cabals, and got them to vote a 'Sad Puppy' slate for the awards. What they did was completely within the rules, but considered extremely poor form by pretty much everyone outside their group.
Now, I have done a fair amount of research on these folk in preparation for today's post, and I'm still confused as to who they are or why they exist at all. As far as I can tell, they are a bunch of right-wingers who seem very upset that they are passed over for awards and have attributed it to some imagined liberal agenda/conspiracy against them, rather than, say, a reflection of the quality of their work (unlikely, they wouldn't have been published if their work was shit... although... You guys know what I'm talking about, right?), or perhaps of the changing readership (far, FAR more likely).
One of the founders of this apparently Gamergate-esque movement, Larry Correia, accused the Hugo Awards of being a popularity contest and so his pulp action books were being passed over because they "weren't heavy-handed message fic."
He is right, of course. The Hugo Awards are a popularity contest. They are fan-voted, after all. You too can vote for your favourite book by becoming a member of Worldcon. You'll have to pay forty odd dollars for the privilege, but you're a fan, right? Totally. Worth. It.
Here's the thing, though. It's the most popular book that wins. It doesn't have to be the best written, or the deepest, or the most thought-provoking. It just has to be the most popular. It's not the personality so much as it is the book.
Now, apparently, the egos involved here are so large that there is no way the Sad Puppies can possibly believe that perhaps their works just aren't as well-written as they think they are (not all that likely. It is rare indeed for a SFF book to be picked up by a publisher if it's utter crap. There are trad. pubbed books that are utter crap, though) or that the readership has changed (far, FAR more likely) and craves deeper stories, more diverse voices, and more sophisticated narratives than typically found in pulp stories (which tend to be overwhelmingly white men doing "manly" things to save the day. Scenes and names change, basic plot rarely does).
No. Instead, these folks seem to believe that there is some sort of liberal conspiracy led by some sort of cabal of shadowy liberals trying to squeeze them out by... you guessed it... gaming the Hugos for years. But secretly! Because they're shadowy. Or something.
I don't even know.
They use this exact excuse to do what they did with the Hugos, claiming that the awards have been gamed for years in favour of more "liberal" writers and narratives. So they were going to do the same thing to stick it to that shadowy (as far as I can tell, non-existent) SJW cabal.
Basically, they're throwing a giant, very public temper tantrum like toddlers denied a lollipop instead of behaving like grown-ass adults, all because they're not getting the attention/accolades/I don't even know they think they deserve.
You know what? That sounds like a bad case of NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) to me.
Apparently, however, they are worse than just this latest stunt. I have read articles about the Sad Puppies that put them in a very poor light indeed. They're not just upset about their lack of Hugos, apparently. They're upset that there are women, and people of colour, and LGBTQ folk, and non-Christians sullying "their" science fiction with a flood of new voices, new perspectives, and new stories. Apparently, they're upset because that means fewer eyes on their stories about white men doing "manly" things to save the day. Instead there are black women kicking butt all over the place, and gay men being gay (oh, the humanity! Won't someone please think of the children?!) and no Christian values! *Gasp* *Faint*
I, for one, am glad that there are more voices writing science fiction. They will attract new readers; new readers that might just discover other speculative fiction writers because they were first drawn in by that new, refreshing, voice that the Sad Puppies are so set against. It means more readers for all writers. This can only be a good thing - for the Sad Puppies too, if they could see past their own noses.
Having just finished this post, I realise that I'm opening myself up to attack (if the behaviour of other groups similar to this one is any indication) by these Sad Puppies and their hordes. Not that I could see them being bothered with such a non-event like me. They have bigger fish to fry. Like John Scalzi, for example.
I know hoping for introspection in people deluded by NPD is a bit much, but before you all descend on me like a flock of rabid sheep screeching, "It's about ethics is science fiction award-giving, Sonia!" perhaps give some thought to the notion that people are calling you little shits because you are behaving like little shits.
No? Oh well.
Let the flame war commence.