Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Hugo Awards and Sad Puppies: Has Political Correctness Invaded Science Fiction?

Hugo Awards and Sad Puppies: Has Political Correctness Invaded Science Fiction?

There is controversy surrounding this year’s Hugo Awards, the prestigious science fiction prize which will be handed out this Saturday and whose previous winners have included Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick and Robert Heinlein. This year’s ballot has many names on it that liberals and the media have denounced as racist and reactionary white men.

The group in question counter that they are not reactionary, racist, or even white, and that the reporting on the entire episode has been atrocious.

The group of writers, calling themselves the “Sad Puppies” – a satire on liberalism’s penchant for appealing to emotion over logic – successfully got themselves on the Hugo ballot, and then nominated, by appealing to the fans who vote for the award. The Sad Puppies unofficial leader is Brad Torgerson, author of “The Chaplain’s War” and other works and a U.S. Army Reserve Warrant Officer. Torgerson, who has been nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula, another prestigious sci-fi prize, told one interviewer, “It became plainly obvious, especially after 2010, that a lot of the classic works of the old days - there's no way they could possibly make it in the current climate because the current climate was all about affirmative action.”

“Message was eating story,” John C. Wright, who got on the ballot via the Puppies’ campaign and is nominated for five Hugos this year, told CNS News. “It’s about that and not political correctness. It’s not that there are certain themes explored in science fiction, it’s that the authors of many of works are being rewarded for advancing an agenda while the craftsmanship of the work is lacking. The question should not be about politics, the question should simply be, are your stories good or bad? People were getting prizes and the craftsmanship just wasn't there.”

Wright notes that the media coverage of the Sad Puppies controversy has been riddled with errors. One of the most egregious cases appeared in Entertainment Weekly, which had to issue a lengthy correction:

CORRECTION: After misinterpreting reports in other news publications, EW published an unfair and inaccurate depiction of the Sad Puppies voting slate, which does, in fact, include many women and writers of color. As Sad Puppies’ Brad Torgerson explained to EW, the slate includes both women and non-caucasian writers, including Rajnar Vajra, Larry Correia, Annie Bellet, Kary English, Toni Weisskopf, Ann Sowards, Megan Gray, Sheila Gilbert, Jennifer Brozek, Cedar Sanderson, and Amanda Green.

Despite the corrections, argues Wright, the media continues to report that the Sad Puppies is an attack on women and minorities.

The Hugo is given out Saturday in a ceremony at the INB Performing Arts Center in Spokane, Washington.

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