Tag Archives: Hayden

Through the Looking Glass

The comments here (and on the preceding two threads on the subject) make for some interesting reading: Making Light: The 2015 Hugo finalists. It’s like peering into a madhouse where self-reflection and self-awareness don’t exist. I wonder if these folks recognize that they are using the same arguments to defend their own positions that their ideological opposites use to explain and defend theirs (look for the comment recycling the conservative/libertarian critique of affirmative action, for one obvious example). It could be parody. I don’t think it is.

My take on the matter is increasingly that the Sad Puppies campaign is the wrong approach to the perceived problem – having made a point with the first Sad Puppies effort, the right approach would have been (and still is, now) to establish a new award and let the market sort out over time which one better reflects quality. If leftists have indeed corrupted the Hugos to the point that an award or a nomination informs potential readers that the work is preachy crap selected for political conformity rather than its value as SF/F, better to start fresh and build up a new alternative with no such baggage than to battle said leftists to salvage it.

You can’t un-rot a spoiled apple. Sometimes things that once had value no longer do, however much we sentimentally wish otherwise.

ETA: Larry Correia, alleged to have launched the whole thing in order to win a Hugo for himself…um…declined his nomination.

Breitbart London has a backgrounder on the Hugo Awards foofooraw.

ETA2: I should have included a listing of the awards at the beginning: 2014 Hugo Nominations. Congratulations and good luck to all the nominees. I look forward to reading what I’ve missed this past year in the review packets.

ETA3: Sarah Hoyt discusses the Hugos and touches on the brouhaha: An Update

Commenter Francis W. Porretto makes a similar point to what I wrote above (more succinctly than I did):

This is the most important line in the piece. No award can have stature in and of itself. It borrows stature from those to whom it’s awarded — and if their merit is little, so will be that of the award. All else is self-deception.

I read “those to whom it’s awarded” as the works rather than the authors in the case of Hugo Awards. It can apply to both, but I don’t see the stature of the authors themselves as being a specific issue in the Sad Puppies campaign – it’s that award-winning material has been of declining quality for two decades or longer, the prestige of the award declining along with the merit of that to which it has been given.

I say two decades, but I suspect in my case it’s been longer than that. I don’t even remember when I started regarding any award mentions on book covers as warning signs rather than badges of quality, but I’d guess as early as the late 1980s. If a book has received one or more big-name awards or nominations for same, I regard it with the same suspicion with which I learned (the hard way) to regard books recommended by Oprah, and for much the same reasons.

Contrast this with the Prometheus Awards, which are up-front about their philosophical bent and so offer a more reliable, honest indicator of the content’s quality with regard to that bent.