Friday, August 28, 2015

Science Fiction Fans Are Fighting About Politics. It’s Not the End of the Universe - Hit & Run :

Science Fiction Fans Are Fighting About Politics. It’s Not the End of the Universe - Hit & Run :

What were the Puppies after? That depends on who you ask. Detractors say the groups were both reactionary movements, driven by conservative white males angry about recent Hugo awards going to stories by and about a more diverse group of individuals. Last year’s Best Novel winner, for example, was Ann Leckie’s book Ancillary Justice, a space opera revenge story set in a colonialist society that does not distinguish between genders and uses only female pronouns; the winning short story was about a Chinese man who reveals to his family that he’s gay. Puppy opponents argue that these sorts of stories are praiseworthy, necessary, and valuable if science fiction is to expand its audience beyond the educated white male cohort that has traditionally dominated science fiction readership.

The two groups of Puppies see themselves differently. The Sad Puppies tend to argue that their aim is not really political at all—that instead they generally prefer stories without intensely political messages, and want to see the Hugos award fiction that emphasizes science and adventure and reader enjoyment, rather than a more literary emphasis on social and political themes. In an interview with Wired, Correia said that the group’s name comes from the joke that “at the leading cause of puppy-related sadness was boring message-fic winning awards.” He and Torgerson have argued that too much focus on diversity becomes a goal unto itself, and can distract from the true quality of a work.


The Rabid Puppies take a more aggressive approach, one that is openly hostile to the idea of diversity, and which is often laden with sexist, misogynist, and homophobic over- and undertones. As Wired’s story makes clear, Vox Day’s approach is intentionally designed to be outrageous; he says that he that wants to offend people, to stir up trouble, to cause chaos and destruction. He also admits that some of his followers are not really science fiction fans, but people who agree with his political agenda and want to help him wreck the awards system. “I wanted to leave a big smoking hole where the Hugo Awards were,” he told Wired before the awards were announced.

Given Vox Day’s obnoxious character and stated intent, it is not surprising that many viewed the Puppies as a threat to the Hugos and even to the wider world of science fiction and fandom. And while the aims of the two groups differ, they were, in the minds of most opponents, essentially the same.

That’s unfair in some ways, but not entirely unreasonable either. While Torgersen and Correia did attempt to separate themselves from the Rabid Puppies movement, they also at times seemed to suggest that they were fighting a common battle. And there was definitely overlap between supporters of the two Puppies groups; outside of the group’s leaders, it could be hard to distinguish between the two. Most any of the Sad Puppies could have been Rabid, and some acted as though they were.

And so the response from their opponents was to reject the Puppies—both of them—entirely, via the unprecedented number of No Awards. Since Saturday night, Puppies supporters have argued that the No Awards themselves constitute a threat to sci-fi, a radical and destructive action that essentially declares it’s preferable to have no awards at all than to let the Puppies have their way.

But it seems to me that the response from the Hugo voters was not really different in kind than what the Puppies did themselves. The Puppies have stressed, in the face of arguments that they cheated or took advantage of a loophole, that their block voting tactic was allowed by the rules. It was—but it was also a violation of Hugo norms. The same can be said about the No Award votes. Viewing the Puppies as a threat, the Hugo voters responded in kind.

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