USA Today Weighs In On Hugos

Even USA Today has an opinion about Larry Correia and the Hugo Awards.

A guest op-ed by Glenn Harlan Reynolds, University of Tennessee law professor and Instapundit blogger, appearing under the misleading headline “Politics Don’t Belong In Science Fiction”, takes fandom to task for its response to Larry Correia’s Hugo nomination.

The Hugo Awards are presented at the World Science Fiction Society’s convention (“Worldcon”) and nominees and awardees are chosen by attendees and supporters. The Hugo is one of the oldest and most prestigious awards in science fiction, but in recent years critics have accused the award process — and much of science fiction fandom itself — of becoming politicized.

That’s certainly been the experience of Larry Correia, who was nominated for a Hugo this year. Correia, the author of numerous highly successful science fiction books like Monster Hunter International and Hard Magic, is getting a lot of flak because he’s a right-leaning libertarian. Makes you wonder if Robert Heinlein could get a Hugo Award today. (Answer: Probably not.)

Clearly, Reynolds is not saying his politics don’t belong in science fiction.

25 thoughts on “USA Today Weighs In On Hugos

  1. No, clearly Reynolds is saying that science fiction used to be inclusive of a wide array of politics, from the Futurians to the Libertarians (opposites on the political spectrum)…including his own, whatever that means. It isn’t any longer. Yes, a variety of views can get published, but the community itself has shattered itself. The neoFuturians don’t even feel safe in the same room as the Libertarians anymore, and, when it comes to fandom, there’s only one room.

    It is now the Chicago way: their guy pulls a knife, you pull a gun. They put one of yours in the hospital, you put one of theirs in the morgue. The people who really get clobbered are the ones in the middle who try to keep them all together. I know for a fact it used to be different. I wish it was (as contentious and “lively” as it was) like it used to be. But now that even Tor has declared that you and I are either with them or against them, it is pretty clear that this rift isn’t getting healed anytime soon.

  2. “The awards we give out are are a giant signal saying “This is what we love, this is what we value, this is what we think is important.”

    Why the hell am I supposed to lie about what those things are?

    Why have I not been flaming hairless people who refer to the bizarre text-only voting protocol they’re trying to push on me as “honest”? It’s obvious they’re suggesting that doing anything else is dishonest.

    The way they want me to vote is not honest. It’s not how I think. Nor is it how I’ve ever voted. Nor is it how most of fandom has thought, or how it’s voted, year after year, for many decades.”

    This prescription for voting, in fact, isn’t how I have evaluated the awards for years. Tor has drawn a line in the sand: this is a fan – this is not a fan. Don’t vote the content up for awards, vote your political passions. Don’t read the nominees, vote for the nominees that best send a signal.

    I’ve never voted for an award on that basis. This strong prescription is one I refuse to take on the grounds of literary integrity. I’d prefer to read what I want, award what I want on the basis of story, but it has become increasingly unclear with the politicking for awards, and the even more egregious anti-politicking for “no award” that there’s no pretense of collegiality anymore. When it comes to the awards and attention – the unifying if often unmet ideal of finding quality literature has been thrown out in favor of open cliques.

  3. Not, then. That’s Teresa Nielsen Hayden, who works for Tor but is stating her personal feelings on her own website Making Light rather than speaking ex cathedra from the Tor pulpit as implied. Her post begins “Here’s the deal for me” and not “Here’s the deal for Tor”.

    Other readers may wish to study her full post (linked from the first comment above) and its context at Making Light before accepting that “Tor has declared that you and I are either with them or against them” is a fair paraphrase.

  4. Also, reread the text you quoted:

    “Why have I not been flaming hairless people who refer to the bizarre text-only voting protocol they’re trying to push on me as “honest”? It’s obvious they’re suggesting that doing anything else is dishonest.”

    It’s not that she’s telling other people how to vote. She’s insisting that she will not vote the way that other people are trying to tell her to.

    Do feel free to vote any way you like! No one can possibly check, anyway.

  5. Not, then.

    Wrong. specifically. I’m just not going to make it that easy for you to automatically disqualify what I say. The posts are readily available. I don’t want to junk up the thread with a bunch of links that you are only going to scan for tenuous disqualifications.

    My paraphrase is of Tor’s statements in totality, and the above quote is in no way the extent of Tor’s statements on the matter. It is one example of many. The full post only further illuminates the extent of the division. A prominent editor, commenting publicly on literary matters should never be mistaken for private thoughts. The SFWA has made this clear in their statements and non-statements, as well.

    You’ve got to be blind or willfully obtuse (or have skin in the game) not to see the sad reality: there’s a proud and divisive “us” vs. “them” thing going on. But as a reader and a multi-year subscriber to and a less-than-casual fan, it is so obvious that the factions of sf have siloed, that those silos openly campaign, and any pretention to awarding quality, even if its authors come from the wrong silo, is doomed.

    Making Light is a subset of Tor, and it speaks for Tor all the time, and does so openly. I’ll happily shut up about this if Mike asks me to, and I don’t ever want to annoy anyone (except frauds and liars, of course, as all decent folk do, but that isn’t the issue on this thread.)

    However, two things are dying quickly in this environment: collegiality and contented naivete, and the one publisher and one writer’s organization who could do something professional about it…are hastening their attacks on both.

  6. Making Light is a subset of Tor, and it speaks for Tor all the time, and does so openly.

    As a front-page poster and moderator on Making Light, I think I’m probably in a good position to say: nope.

    I am not, and have never been, part of Tor in any way, shape, manner, or form. I do not work for them; I have never received money from them; they have no influence over me or anything that I do. Furthermore, I have never received any guidance from those members of the site who do work for Tor about what I should write about, or refrain from writing about, to conform to any party line. If there’s a Tor agenda, no one’s cc’d me on it.

    All of the front-pagers on Making Light talk about things that interest them, which does include a certain amount of industry inside-baseball. But I, for instance, also blog a lot about life in the Netherlands. And yet we are not a province.

  7. That Making Light is not a province of the Netherlands? I suspect that Teresa and I are in accord on the matter, yes. I’ll even throw in Patrick, Avram and Jim!

  8. Great. As Speaker for the Tor, you made a call for fans to enthuse about works that you refuse to read. Did you enjoy their responses? Did you find their enthusiasm and explanation of their passion for certain authors that you assume must be terrible storytellers to be as convincing as you promised it would be?

  9. Wow, you really can’t read text, can you? I quote your comment in order to refute it and you think I agreed with it? I think that gives everyone reading this conversation an excellent basis for evaluating your judgment and assessing your other assertions.

    If that’s your reading-comprehension level, I don’t see any point continuing this conversation. You can find out what I thought of the things people wrote by reading the comment thread on Making Light. Which is still not a subset of Tor.

  10. As soon as you can use your inside-baseball connections at Tor to cite a single editor at Tor who openly believes that Hugo nominees should be read and voted on according to literary quality, (or even defend’s Tor author John Scalzi’s same argument as valid) I may take your volunteer work with the company’s employees more seriously. But my point is made, with your help: Tor has clearly and openly chosen taste and affiliation (and financial interest) over and excluding literary merit, as its battleground.

    I lament that, especially since Tor had every opportunity in the world to avoid declaring a war on taste at all.

  11. “You’ve got to be blind or willfully obtuse (or have skin in the game) not to see the sad reality: there’s a proud and divisive “us” vs. “them” thing going on.”

    First half of this sentence, I’d like you to meet the second half of this sentence.

  12. is too a province of the Netherlands, and we’ll be sending our Navy out to burn the dockyards of anyone incautious enough to suggest otherwise.

  13. I’m waiting for the chance to read Larry Correia’s nominated work. He put out a list of “worth nominating” authors, and several names on that list did get nominated. Unfortunately, he published that list as part of an uncomfortably political blog-post, making allegations worthy of conspiracy theories.

    Mr Reynolds seems unaware of the way in which Mr Correia has politicised the awards process. I am not without sympathy for Mr Reynolds’ regret at the way in which SF seems to be falling into the same political ugliness as the rest of the world. He concludes his article: “I completely agree. And if those words sound curiously old-fashioned today, that is a poor reflection on what has happened our society over the past several decades.” Unfortunately, his account of the Correia affair glosses over the uglier realities of his poster-child.

    There are other nominees, one on the Correia List and one not, who are not unworthy of calumny. I am still neutral on Mr Correia, but some of his advocates suggest an unfortunate choice of friends on his part. I am not sure of Mr Reynolds’ true motives, but is it strange that he has missed so much by accident.

  14. One might also say that politics doesn’t belong in the news business, either … but that doesn’t stop USA Today from having an unmistakable right-wing bias.

  15. If I am understanding xdpaul’s reasoning correctly. everything I write on my personal blog is also the official policy of the sporting-equipment manufacturer I work for.

  16. Bruce: You could reasonably extrapolate xdpaul’s argument to that effect. Of course, had he chosen to phrase it a bit differently he could have said, perhaps, that Patrick Nielsen Hayden is a senior editor at Tor who often blogs about the sf field, so it’s likely that whenever a topic comes up at the office that he’s written about online Patrick gives the same opinion both places.

    But there’s more to the story than that. Patrick has also written that he’s worked professionally with authors from across the political spectrum, and enjoys reading some of the work produced by that same wide range of creators. So inferring somethihg about Patrick’s business conduct on the basis of his personal political opinions, much less an ideology one has projected onto him, isn’t going to yield an accurate result.

  17. I am a right-wing libertarian who has written for every conservative and libertarian magazine you can think of and some that you can’t. I’ve also done consulting work for most of the major right-wing think tanks. But on this issue, the Nielsen Haydens are right and Larry Correia is wrong.

    MAKING LIGHT is a hard left wing blog that delights in denouncing the views of people on the right. It has contributors, some of whom work for Tor as employees and consultants. It in no way reflects the views of Tor, and the last I heard the Nielsen Haydens have just as much right to express their opinions as Correia does.

    I wish that Hugo voters would vote for what they believe to be the best stories, not those supported by any claque. It would also be pleasant if voters might support stories and authors who challenge their views of the world. I admire the works of Terry Bisson, for example, even though Bisson is as far removed from me politically as it is possible to be. It would also be nice if the fan awards went to fans who write for fun instead of the professional duty of self-promotion and that the best fanzine was actually a fanzine.

    Finally, I BITTERLY resent the idea that I HAVE to support Correia and “Vox Day” because my political views are closer to them than to their enemies. For the record–I don’t.

  18. Hi, Martin. One nitpick– I wouldn’t call Making Light a hard left site. It’s possible for a libertarian to be treated with courtesy there. Take a look at the part albatross plays in the discussions.

  19. I think it’s very unfortunate that Mr. Correia and his associates have decided to politicize the Hugo award process this year. We should be voting on the basis of the quality of works, not the political leanings of authors; presenting a slate of authors for their conformity to right-wing politics is a problem for the community.

    I do not care about the political leanings of people who happen to work at one publisher or another. Fandom is not “one room”; certainly every blog has a different dynamic. Conventions, the ones I attend and work on, have open doors; we want everybody to participate. This isn’t obvious to everybody, but it’s a strong ethic among those who’ve been doing it for a while, which means we occasionally have to remind newcomers on our committees to play nice and not disrespect others. Certainly I’ve worked on conventions that have had guests of different political views, and I’ve been happy to have all of them participate, because of their history of contributions to the genre of science fiction.

    The fact that Mr. Correia is on the Hugo ballot is clear evidence that the Hugos are not filtered for political correctness; the process is open to everybody. I’m pretty sure Dave McCarty isn’t a fan of The Hunger Games, and yet the recent Hunger Games movie is still on the ballot. There’s at least one other controversy where a set of fans may have pushed a work onto the ballot, and that is also a controversy; it’s not political, but it is a problem for some of us. The ethic in the community is that works should be judged on the merits of the particular work, not on other things the author does or talks about.

    Time permitting, I’m going to read the nominated works. If, after reading, I see something that looks like it has been nominated for political rather than literary reasons, I will vote No Award above that entry. If I were an author, I’d be embarrassed to have that happen; making it clear that one’s appearance on the ballot was purely a matter of politics would not be good for one’s long-term reputation, IMO. But I’m hoping we all learn from what happens this year so that we can avoid problems in the future. The value of the the Hugo awards, compared to other awards, is that the awards are open and also that there is a core community of voters who consistently make an effort to look at what’s written in the books and stories nominated, not just pushing whatever short-term enthusiasm that happens to come along.

  20. Mr. Correia’s point is that there is a heavy bias amongst the Hugos. A bias that actually inhibits all but what the elite support. He just asked his fan base to go to the Hugo site, sign up and pay membership, and vote for works they deem worthy of recognition.
    He distinctly pointed out that they did not HAVE to vote for his book(s).
    What happened is the elite who ran the Hugos panicked and started to malign Mr. Correia for actually boosting membership and getting fans involved.

  21. @Alex von Thorn
    One very important note: If you put a nominee you don’t like in *any* position on the ballot, including below No Award, then in the runoff that could eventually be counted as a vote for that entry. This was just noted in Loncon’s PR3, although I suspect most voters won’t have read it:

    “Nevertheless, if your top choices are eliminated
    early, your lower preferences could be the tie-
    breaker between the remaining nominees, so
    choose all your preferences carefully! No matter
    how much you dislike a nominee, if you rank it,
    the vote will be counted if all of your previous
    choices are eliminated.”

    Page 22 in the PR:

  22. @Alex von Thorn – Larry Correia didn’t politicize the awards. He said “watch what happens when someone on the political right is nominated.” And boy, did we see. The Internet exploded with blogs lamenting the nomination of a racist, woman hating, queer baiting, gun loving writer for the precious Hugo. “Don’t vote for him or anyone on his list”, we were told, lest civilization as we know it perish in flames. Blotters ignored the fact that the “evil white man” isn’t (evil or white – he’s Latino), he writes some of the most bad ass female characters I’ve ever read, he supports writers regardless of race, religion, color, creed, or politics as long as they write good stories. In fact, Larry is a better man than the many people who have attacked him for no reason.

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