Tag: hugo awards

Some Thoughts on Puppygate

A lot has been written on the recent controversy around the famous Hugo awards. (Here’s a good summary, in case you’ve missed it: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/04/13/1376743/-Freeping-the-Hugo-Awards)

I mean, a LOT. Here’s George R. R. Martin having an on going conversation about it with Larry Correira, the originator of the Sad Puppies group: http://grrm.livejournal.com/420090.html

Some emcees and nominees have even refused to come. Here’s Connie Willis (recipient of ELEVEN Hugos) explaining why she won’t be presenting: http://azsf.net/cwblog/?p=116

And here’s John Scalzi’s take on it: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2015/04/04/a-note-about-the-hugo-nominations-this-year/

These are just some extracts of what’s been said–feel free to browse some more. The basic idea advanced by these puppygaters (who seem to come for the most part from the tragi-comic gamergate) is that SF/F/H has become invaded by writers from minority groups who fail to write “real” SF but are still celebrated solely because they are “diversity”.

Now a lot of people have pointed out that:

1. the Hugos represent a very specified sub-section of hardcore fandom (since you must pay $40 to even vote), whose decisions will certainly do little upon the mainstream fandom (the people who buy and read SF sporadically).

2. while it is true that the field is becoming more inclusive (in the past, as you may know, SF like most genres, has been majoritively white, male, and straight), it is still majoritively white, male and straight. Just look at any TV or cinematic adaptation. Even mainstream books written by women (like Harry Potter or Hunger Games or Divergent or Twilight etc. etc.) are still white and straight.

3. in academia (and I am mentioning it here because that’s where I am working and writing from), SF has been celebrated as an important literary field for decades, but the struggle was real. One of the reasons SF has become big in academia is precisely the potential radicality of SF narratives, their ability to transcend the status quo, to imagine other universes in which the same old oppressions didn’t exist. God knows traditional SF has always been problematic; for a start, SF has always been consistent with imperialism and the colonial project (See John Reider’s book Post-colonialism and the Emergence of Science Fiction).

It is needless to repeat here that the idea that white straight men are being booed off any genre, any publishing opportunity, anything, is ridiculous. What baffles me is the either/or logical fallacy (you can either write traditional SF with straight white guys saving the world, or you’re just not a real fan/writer). Underlying it is the idea that SF is a static field, that the meaning of science fiction is somehow written in stone, never to be redefined.

But hard science fiction (“traditional” SF) has been in decline for decades. I am a science fiction scholar, and I don’t even like hard SF. In fact, I don’t like most stories about white straight men doing heroic things and getting the girl. I don’t like it not because the story is itself bad or I hate all men, but because I’ve read this story over and over again; I watch this story on TV; I see it in ads; I read it in realistic fiction; I pay movie tickets to watch it. I’m tired of it. Science fiction is my favorite genre precisely because it offers universes that can go beyond that story.

I want to read stuff that sound like me–a white, cisgender queer woman who was raised in a working-class background, and other stuff that don’t sound like me at all. I am excited to read the new anthology Octavia’s Brood which proclaims proudly that some of its contributors are not even writers. I loved Ann Leckie’s Ancillary series so much I can’t stop talking about it. I am currently devouring Nalo Hopkinson’s entire oeuvre. There are so many new, challenging, mind-blowing pieces out there–so many it’s hard to keep track–so why go back to the same old, same old?