Well, that was a disappointment.
John C. Wright’s “Heinlein, Hugos and Hogwash” begins —
Robert Heinlein could not win a Hugo Award today.
If you are a fan of science fiction, you know how shocking that statement is.
With a hook like that I naturally expected him to deliver some kind of cogent argument. Instead, his Heinlein reference was a bait-and-switch. Readers expecting to learn something about the contemporary reception of Robert Heinlein find themselves subjected to a belligerent rant about the critics of Larry Correia, Orson Scott Card, Elizabeth Moon, Theodore Beale and the SFWA Bulletin. Heinlein is just some talismanic figure whose name, once invoked, never appears again after the opening paragraphs of the article.
I am taken to task for daring to say Heinlein would not win the Hugo these days.
I regard the observation as unexceptional; a sufficient number of Leftists denounce Heinlein as a fascist and sexist, and who (by their own admission) do not vote on the merits of the author’s work but on his ideological purity, to defeat a nomination.
All the blogosphere’s disapproving comments about the people Wright defends in his article show nothing about contemporary Hugo voters’ willingness to honor Robert Heinlein. How do we know it shows nothing? Because Heinlein has been voted three Hugo awards in this century!
In 2001, when Worldcon members awarded Retro Hugos to works published in 1950, the winners included Heinlein’s Farmer in the Sky for Best Novel and “The Man Who Sold The Moon” for Best Novella. Then, for good measure, Destination Moon won the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo, made from a screenplay co-written by Heinlein based on his novel Rocketship Galileo.
Heinlein’s track record of winning Hugos does not mean there has ever been at any time a monolithic and approving view of Robert Heinlein. Let no one be deluded by this other ridiculous claim in Wright’s article — “But in his [Heinlein’s] day, few science fiction readers were offended by his or anyone’s ideas.” The period when Heinlein won his original four Hugos (1956-1967) was by no means some kind of golden age where nobody ever questioned his political views or criticized his work. Don’t kid yourself! He’s always been controversial within fandom. If you want to know what those days were really like, start by reading Alexei Panshin’s article about Heinlein’s attempt to stop publication of his literary biography Heinlein in Dimension.