The Hugo Awards: The Sheep Go Baa
I have been reading science fiction for over three decades. I will read just about anything inside the genre if it comes with a recommendation from someone and sounds like I might enjoy the book. As a child science fiction was one of my main paths of escape. In a lot of ways who I turned out to be as a man was directly influenced by the writings of Asimov, Heinlein, Herbert, Bradbury, (and for the twisted part of me) Ellison. I absorbed stories. I mulled them over. I smiled. I laughed. I cried. “Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman” by Harlan Ellison is burned into the very fiber of my being. One of many stories I read that changed my thinking about the world around me.
I am a fan. Science Fiction is extremely important to me. It is why I am saddened by the huge blow-up over this year’s Hugo nominations. If you don’t know what I am talking about just do a Google search. It’s all there. The issue is that a group of people put together a slate and asked their readers and fans to vote for that slate to get them a Hugo nomination. It worked.
I want to be clear right off the bat that many of the writers that were put forward are fine writers. Writers I have actively read for years. I am not knocking them or even saying that they don’t deserve the nomination. What I am knocking is the gaming of the system. I don’t believe that slate voting is in anyway the right thing to do. I have no problem with people putting out recommended reading lists. Hell, I do it all the time. I have no problems with fans passionate about an author going out and registering to vote for that author because their new book was incredible.
The problem I have is the active encouragement to not participate in the process of being a fan. Of being a reader. If you haven’t read the stories you voted for you are not a participant. You are a sheep blindly going wherever the shepherd pointed you. It’s a book. A piece of art. Letters jumbled into thoughts. It is meant to be read. The Hugo’s are a popularity contest. I am okay with that but this wasn’t about popularity. This was about putting names on a ballot without concern for what you, the voter, truly thought about the story. It’s wrong and I believe it is unethical. Science Fiction will survive this. Great books will continue to come out. Many of them will be by the authors on this year’s Sad Puppy slate. I will read them. I might even vote for a few of them for a Hugo. It will be because I think they are awesome. For the record, I think Cibola Burn by James S.A. Corey was the best book I read last year.