Puppygate: The GamerGate of Scifi
Last night at the 2015 Hugo Awards (One of the world’s most prestigious scifi/fantasy awards) an unprecedented 5 categories were given a “No Award” in place of any of the nominees receiving an award. Since 1953 there have only been five instances of a category receiving a “No Award”. This year’s awards have doubled that number and in one single year!. Voters at the 2015 Hugo’s overwhelmingly decided that in five categories they’d rather have no one win then vote for any of the nominees.
Now if you haven’t been keeping up on all the Hugo drama you’re probably wondering “Why did this happen?” and “Why the hell does this even matter?”.
In all truths it doesn’t really matter. Sometimes awards are given to people who you personally think don’t deserve it, while your favorite gets snubbed. However what happened at this year’s Hugo was different than just the usual snubbing. Believe me I am a Fannibal, I know the true depths of snubbing. *sobs*
The Hugo voting system has always been open to any supporting level member. This comes down to if you pay $40 you can suggest any work released in 2014 as a possible nominee for the Hugo awards. Sadly, this year a voting block known as the Sad Puppies 3 and the Rabid Puppies joined forces to sweep the vote in some of the award’s largest categories. In the novel, novella, novelette and short story categories only 2 out of the 20 nominees were not pushed by the Puppies voting block. 71% of all votes submitted this year belonged to these two groups. Now even I can appreciate that there were two groups so dedicated to scifi/fantasy that they would form groups to ensure that their choices were nominated. However these blocks are NOT driven by their love of scifi, these are groups driven by their specific agenda.
Sad Puppies 3 and Rabid Puppies can be called hate groups. I am not a SJW but I’m not going to try and make this sound pretty, that is what they are. These groups actively support extremely bigoted authors such as Theodore Veale. Anytime you support an author who publicly says that women should not be allowed to vote and refers to African Americans are half-savages things are not going to look good for you. No matter how talented the author is there is only so much that people are able to overlook. *I’m looking at you Orson Scott Card… I really wish Ender’s Game wasn’t so good.* To try and disguise these views, Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies have taken to stating that this voting block was created to take scifi back its roots. SP3 and Rabid Puppies also believe that with all of the diversity in writing straight white men are getting the shaft at the Hugos nowadays. *Insert eye roll* Please take a look at the Hugo nominations in the last 50 years and tell me exactly when you felt excluded. They also believe that scifi/fantasy needs to be less about social issues and more about pure entertainment. Now to a certain point I can agree with that, not every book needs to be about racial or gender issues. Books can be fun right!? However, trying to keep books from being nominated specifically because they are about that type of subject matter is deplorable. Scifi and Fantasy have authors from all walks of political viewpoints ranging from straight up feminists to marxists to traditionalists and capitalists. You can have conservative views, no one is saying you can’t, but forcing them onto other World Con attendees is just awful. I don’t want to look at my ballot and see the names of people who denigrate me and others like me as my ONLY options. Just as I wouldn’t want a ballot full of choices that are only from social issues candidates.
To me science fiction and fantasy conventions have always been about having fun and being free to be who you are. Science fiction has helped people look to the future and see it as a brighter and more accepting place. But this resurgence in intolerance among the scifi community is scary. It MAKES me feel ill. I felt sick thinking that someone like Theodore Veale was nominated for the same awards that authors like H.G. Wells and Margaret Atwood had been. I know that even in the small world of scifi and fantasy I am a minority. But at cons like these I can talk to 60 year old writers for huge science magazines and feel as if we are on the same ground. If we all love the same things why is it so hard to accept each other? As George RR Martin put it, “We’re SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY FANS, we love to read about aliens and vampires and elves, are we really going to freak out about Asians and Native Americans?”.
Now I don’t think authors should win awards just because they’re a minority or LGBT. What matters most to me is the quality of their work and what these two groups did prohibited the work of anyone not in their desired circle to be recognized. The SP3 and Rabid Puppies won this year’s Hugos even if their nominees didn’t get selected. The awards became politically driven and that’s JUST what they wanted. If you go on twitter and just search for #HugoAwards you can see the inner turmoil that is happening in this community and it is just terrible.The saddest thing of all is that the groups didn’t break any rules by doing this, they paid and voted fair and square. The Puppies (Which, by the way, is just the creepiest name for a hate group ever) got the controversy they wanted and ensured that the books they nominated wouldn’t get any recognition. Just like with #GamerGate the product in question doesn’t even matter anymore, all that matters is the movement behind it. I played Depression Quest and trust me, it is not worth the hullabaloo that it started. With situations like these there are no winners, justice was served but at the cost of the authors that were pushed by the Puppies that don’t necessarily agree with their views. Authors dropped their nominations that the two groups got them just to avoid being associated with them. People who love their craft were shunned just to ensure that some hate groups didn’t get what they wanted. They attempted to game the Hugo’s and the Hugo’s bit back. However, the Hugo Awards have been seriously damaged and I hope next year isn’t a repeat.
For more information about the Hugo’s and references here are some links: