The longer the Puppygate Wars drag on, the more pessimistic I grow about the future of the Hugo Awards. I started out by saying that the Sad Puppies (and their Rabid cousins) had broken them, and every day and every post and blog and story I read underlines the truth of that.
My friend Janice Gelb, long time worldcon volunteer and SMOF, has suggested that the only thing we can do at this point is abolish the Hugo Awards altogether. When I first heard that notion, I dismissed it out of hand. Some good will, some civility, a mutual exchange of ideas, and surely we could find a way to salvage the situation.
I am no longer convinced of that. The Sad Puppies are digging in and doubling down, and so is worldcon fandom. Meanwhile, off in the cesspools, the Rabid Puppies grow ever more rabid. Nuclear options are being seriously considered, and Vox Day has apparently threatened that if NO AWARD wins in any category, he will see to it that no award is ever given in that category again.
My first inclination was to dismiss that threat as so much toxic wind. But I am not so sure. According to FILE 770 http://file770.com/?p=21877 there have been 1352 new Supporting Memberships purchased this month, an unprecedented number. Very few of these purchases, I fear, were motivated by a sincere desire to support WorldCon. No, all these new supporting members are plonking down their money for a vote on the Hugos.
Ah, but which side do they represent? Are these members of traditional fandom, signing up to take back their awards? Are these Sad Puppy supporters, anxious to vote their slate to victory? Are these all NO AWARDers? Or maybe these are the Vox Day fans. Beale seems to have much more control over his followers than Correia and Torgensen do over theirs… the ballot actually has more Rabid Puppies than Sad ones. Could it be that Vox Day has successfully roused the GamerGate bogeyman that he was been threatening us with? No one knows. Unless…
I think it is All of the Above.
Meanwhile, two of this year’s nominees have withdrawn their stories from contention: Marko Kloos in Best Novel, and Annie Bellett in Best Short Story. I understand their desire to be out of this mess. Both nominations were, pretty clearly, due to their inclusion on the Sad Puppy slate, but neither writer was actually an active participant in the slate-making. And both were first time nominees. I remember how much joy my first Hugo nomination brought me in 1974, and I regret that these two young writers (I do not know either one, I am not familiar with their work, and I have no idea of their political, religious, or literary convictions) will think back on their own nominations with regret and rancor, rather than fondly. One’s first Hugo nomination, like one’s first sexual experience, should be a memory to treasure, not a trauma.
The flood of supporting memberships will continue, I think. I believe one can still join (and vote) up to July 1. Those 1300 new supporting members will become 1500… maybe 2000… maybe 3000. Very few of whom will bother to turn up at the con. Great news for SasQuan’s bottom line. Not so great for fandom. For worldcon. For SF. More Sad Puppies may withdraw, (I doubt very much that any of the Rabid Puppies will), like Kloos and Bellett. More presenters may withdraw, like Connie Willis. The business meeting will be loud and long and rancorous, as all these new rules proposals are debated and voted on. And the Hugo Awards themselves…
I do not see a happy outcome here.
Maybe all the new voters are Vox Day acolytes, and the Rabid Puppies will sweep the board.
Maybe the NO AWARDers will carry the day, and the night will end with no Hugos given out at all. And then Vox Day will double down next year and try to make good on his threat to make sure no more Hugos are ever given.
Maybe NO AWARD will win in the All-Puppy categories (Related Work and the three Short Fiction categories), while the other rockets go to the non-Puppy nominees in split categories. I actually thought this was the most likely outcome, until I read about the flood of new members.
Maybe some awards will go to Puppies, and some to non-Puppies. A split verdict. I don’t see this as likely at all, actually… I think those new voters are going to trend one way or another, heavily… but I supposed it could happen. And afterward, wow, what fun getting all the winners together for the traditional “class photograph.”
Any way the dice fall, I foresee lots of booing and hissing as the names are called out, lots of unhappy presenters, angry winners and angrier losers.
Only one thing for certain: no matter what happens, Vox Day will declare that he’s won.
And as for me… I don’t know right now. On odd numbered days, I lean toward opting out of SasQuan entirely. Stay home, work on the book, I don’t need this grief. On even numbered days, I am determined to go… and to go BIG. Take the Hugo Losers Party back. I started it, after all. And this year, so far as the Hugos are concerned, we are all going to be losers.
It is all very depressing.
Fandom is supposed to be fun.