The Noise of Distant Battle

I have been watching, from something of a distance, the controversy over the Hugo nominations for this year. The nominees are largely, if not wholly, composed of a slate put together by right-wing fans. I’ve read a number of articles and plowed through a certain amount of angry comments, but I think Chuck Wendig, once again, has a very useful perspective on the whole business; Damien Walter, on the other hand, points out that much of the motivation behind the slate of nominees may not, in the end, actually have a lot to do with science fiction or fantasy.

In the process of my reading I came across this, which was reblogged on Goggle+ :

Here’s a pertinent quote–

“The Sad Puppies have struck a blow for creative and intellectual freedom. But their campaign is just one part of a wider movement against the forces of the authoritarian left, whose allies are decreasing by the day. Whether they are called CHORFs, SJWs or Stepford Students, authoritarians, finger-waggers, bullies and panic-mongers are facing a backlash across dozens of fronts as the defiant spirit of GamerGate floods into other fandoms.”

Wow. Come the Jubilee, huh?

Except I’m wondering what it is exactly these guys are celebrating. Many commenters on Chuck’s post and others, as well as the i09 article, point out that what the Sad Puppies campaign has effectively done is destroy the Hugos, all in order to count some dubious Culture War coup. Henceforth, unless something changes, the Hugos will be nothing but a battleground for competing, politically motivated slates of nominees.

Here’s my thought– meh.

For all the sturm und drang, the Hugos, in my opinion, may just not be that relevant. I, personally, have not paid attention to them in years (decades, in fact). They’re a fan award that has no major influence on my reading or book-buying habits. And I suspect this is true nowadays for the vast majority of sci-fi and fantasy fans. There are, doubtless, millions of SFF consumers who’ve never heard of the Hugos. As others have pointed out (see Chuck’s post again), fandom is far larger than the Worldcon and Hugo voters.

A point in support this assertion– when you look at the number of ballots cast this year for each Hugo category, you realize that we’re talking about small numbers (e.g., “BEST NOVELETTE (1031 ballots)”) when you compare them to the total number of Worldcon memberships, and exceedingly tiny when compared to the total number of people worldwide who read science fiction and fantasy on a regular basis. The Sad Puppies complain that the Hugos have lately been nominated by a tiny clique, and, ironically, they’ve just proven it. And it’s just about as valid when they do it as it is when any other tiny group does. In other words, two wrongs don’t make a right.

In the end, the triumphalism of the Sad Puppies seems to me as empty as that of a World War I army celebrating the capture of a few dozen yards of enemy trench line. They’ve paid a high price for not much, and, in the final analysis, it won’t change a whole lot. The diversification of SFF against which they rail is largely a reflection of the diversification of Western society, and no amount of right-wing posturing and coup-counting is going change that.

Thanks be to God.

2 thoughts on “The Noise of Distant Battle”

  1. This whole thing serves to remind me why I tend to avoid clubs, organizations, and awards, along with all of the politics and drama attached to them.

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