Since science fiction’s golden age in the 1950s, the Hugo Awards have honored the best of science fiction and fantasy writing in the form of novels, short stories, films and even fan media. The awards are voted on not by an exclusive panel but by the attendees of the World Science Fiction Convention (aka Worldcon). It’s considered by many to be the most prestigious SFF genre fiction award.
  Well, at least it used to be.

  This year, a self-identified conservative group calling themselves “Sad Puppies,” likely encouraged by all the noise made last year by GamerGate (and likewise organized primarily on the forum site Reddit), has decided to take advantage of the democratic nature of Hugo voting to push a slate of books and authors of their own choosing. They’ve decided that the award winners over the last decade or so have been too literary, too minority and gay and female, and they just aren’t going to take it anymore. Instead they’re encouraging people who have never even heard of Worldcon but who have very strong opinions about who should be allowed to write SFF to spend money on convention membership to nominate a slate of candidates that goes so far as to include a work published by, this writer kids you not, “Patriarchy Press.” And they’ve succeeded in getting most of their slate through the nominating process, leaving the actual fans of Worldcon with little choice but to seriously consider the “No Award” option.

  Larry Correia, one of the writers organizing the campaign, went so far as to decline a place he earned on the Best Novel ballot thanks to Sad Puppies, perhaps because even he understood the absurdity of a book called “Monster Hunter: Nemesis” being nominated for a literary award.

  Meanwhile, author George R.R. Martin, who has won some Hugos of his own and wrote a novel you may have heard of called “A Game of Thrones,” has been holding forth on his blog about how this group of crybabies has pretty much destroyed the prestige of the award. It’s not a big surprise that GRRM, despite being white and male himself, would have liberal leanings, not to mention strong roots in the long history of the fan community. It’s more of a surprise that he hosts his blog on LiveJournal. He’s written some of the best rebuttals of the Sad Puppies’ claims so far, and it’s worth seeking out his blog for a rundown of just how many conservative, Christian, straight, white males have been on the ballot in any given year, not to mention how many have won the award from among a diverse list of nominees.

  But those SFF fans who aren’t attending Worldcon and don’t have $40 to throw at an attendance fee for a convention they aren’t even going to (it’s in Spokane, WA this year) can’t do much but sit and watch while another group of angry conservatives get mad at imagined attacks on their still firmly entrenched privilege, damaging the reputation of something that’s only just becoming socially accepted. GamerGate succeeded only in destroying any possibility of respect for video games in academia and drying up grant money to preserve old games for the future. What damage will these Sad Puppies do?

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