The Post I Hoped I Wouldn’t Write.
George R.R. Martin argued on his Not a Blog before the awards that if the Puppy nominees did not win, then they would have lost (you can tell he’s a sports fan). And they did lose. The problem is everyone else who loves books lost too.
The Hugo Award winners have been posted.
The list at the link isn’t exactly accurate, forgetting a few categories. There were also Best Novella, Best Short Story, Best Related Work, Best Editor (short form), and Best Editor (long form) categories. No award, however, was given in those categories, because people voted for No Award over any nominee in those categories. Not only did they vote for No Award, but they did it in huge numbers. (Detailed voting breakdown here.) No Award got almost 3,500 votes on the first pass in the Novella category. Even in the Best Editor (long form) category it got almost 2,500 votes on the first pass. It’s pretty clear what happened: a very large number of people—as much as three-quarters of the voters—did not bother to read all of the nominees and instead simply voted No Award over any Puppy nominee. I believe as many No Awards were given in one night as in the entire history of the WorldCon—combined.
It’s a hell of a slap in the face to everyone who took time to read the nominees and take the process seriously. It’s a slap in the face to creators and fans to see people cheering for no award being given—and the host chiding people for booing that fact.
Nor can this simply be ascribed to a lack of quality from the Puppy nominees. It has been salutary to read posts discussing the nominees from other blogs, because it is a good reminder that tastes vary wildly and that three fans gathered to discuss a book will have four opinions. And reading the posts showed that. I liked Journeyman and Pale Realms of Shade; not a lot of other people did. A lot of people inexplicably liked One Bright Star to Guide Them; I did not. Almost any result from honest reading and voting was conceivable. The one exception, though, is just what we got.
The detailed nomination statistics were also released (here, again, below the voting results). It reveals a pretty unimpressive set of but-for nominees. My Real Children, in particular, is the sort of anti-subversive tripe that the Puppies gripe about. It does put to bed, or should, the jab against the Puppies that they pushed a book on Heinlein off the ballot. The book still wouldn’t have made the ballot. The one crying shame is that John Picacio didn’t make the ballot for Best Professional Artist.
So where do we go from here? The Hugo Awards will continue its long slide into irrelevancy, but that has been a long time coming. It was not a proud moment last night when one sole person raised their hand as a fan of less than five years, and much of the crowd numbered their years of fandom in the decades (the hosts seemed surprised, as if Puppies were not already fans). WorldCon is dying its own death, and it will be a shame to see such a wonderfully book-focused con wither on the vine. Both of those aren’t anything new. The real wound is the cruel, bigoted streak among the community, including among SF authors, that was exposed. And as long as people feel emboldened to act on their prejudices and be open about it, the fight will continue.
What will I do? I don’t know. I really enjoy the opportunity to talk about the best works over the past year, and the opportunity to expose myself to new work. But I can’t really justify it if the other voters won’t engage with the material. I’m not sure where else I would go, though. I could talk about the Prometheus Award, or the Gemmell Award, but those are niche awards. And it’s not like we can expect a return to the status quo next year, or even that the status quo was any better.
I will leave on one final note. David Gerrold, before tacking an asterisk on the awards and chiding fans for expecting awards to be given, made a very good point. “Science fiction people are the research and development department of the human race.” How dangerous it is, then, that diversity of thought is being quashed. No wonder speculative fiction is struggling. And if a group of people are so scared of what may come of diversity of thought, then it suggests that they are not the ones for progress, they are on the wrong side of history.