Did you hear the mournful baying of the Sad Puppies this morning? Yes, the pack is back in 2015, this time under the direction of Brad Torgersen. And his arguments for renewing this bloc voting campaign are one dogwhistle after another.
For those of you who don’t know what SAD PUPPIES is, it’s a (somewhat tongue in cheek) running effort to get stories, books, and people onto the Hugo ballot, who are entirely deserving, but who don’t usually get on the ballot. Largely because of the nomination and voting tendencies of World Science Fiction Convention, with its “fandom” community. In the last decade we’ve seen Hugo voting skew more and more toward literary (as opposed to entertainment) works. Some of these literary pieces barely have any science fictional or fantastic content in them. Likewise, we’ve seen the Hugo voting skew ideological, as Worldcon and fandom alike have tended to use the Hugos as an affirmative action award: giving Hugos because a writer or artist is (insert underrepresented minority or victim group here) or because a given work features (insert underrepresented minority or victim group here) characters.
Likewise, the Hugos tend to be a raw popularity contest, for all definitions of “popular” that include “Trending with Worldcon.” Which may or may not have anything whatsoever to do with actual sales success on the open market. And that was Correia’s original point: if the Hugos really are the preeminent award in SF/F how come the Hugos so often ignore works and people who are, in fact, successful ambassadors of the genre to the consumer world at large? What the heck is going on here?
So, SAD PUPPIES has tended to push back. Against the Worldcon fandom zeitgeist.
Usually you can’t see these kinds of contortions outside of a circus.
- The Hugos are a popularity contest – but not the right kind of popularity.
- The Hugos don’t necessarily correlate with sales success – but neither did last year’s Sad Puppies slate, once you got past Larry Correia.
- The Hugos “skew ideological” – Did you know they were trying to cure that problem when Vox Day got a Sad Puppies endorsement last year? (I thought it was only on House they try to cure patients by giving them another disease…)
- The Hugos often ignore “successful ambassadors of the genre to the consumer world at large” – That dogwhistle is at a frequency almost too high for me to hear, but I believe he has a particular New York Times bestselling author in mind.
Anyway, if you felt something pushing against your “Worldcon fandom zeitgeist” today — that’s because the dogs are off the leash!