Some thoughts on the Hugos

So for the second year running, the Hugo Awards nominations have been dominated by a slate created by a right-wing demagogue. And thus, for the second year running, numerous works across the literary and political spectrum have been ignored in favor of…what, exactly, I’m not sure, but it’s messy and strange.

I generally have no issue with anyone who wants to broaden the reach of the Hugos. Nominations are made by the folks who have purchased WorldCon memberships, and for $50, you can go ahead and nominate without attending (as I did this year). Historically, it’s been a small pool of voters, and a somewhat homogenous pool at that.

Getting more people involved in SF/F’s preeminent award is, generally speaking, a good thing. There’s a lot of great stuff published each year, and most of it doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. And yes, that goes for ray-guns-and-rockets sci-fi as well as more literary endeavors. It should really be about the love of the story, and allowing folks from all walks of life to get involved, no matter their politics or background. It’s one of the reasons I support Con or Bust, for example.

But this particular silliness isn’t about letting newcomers express their love of stories. It’s about getting a bunch of people to lock-step their nominations in order to crowd out others — and then, apparently, laugh and crow about it. In common parlance, it’s a dick move.

Over the past few years, it’s been less  about the works, and more about sticking it to the other guy — taking advantage of a poor nominating structure to crowd out works by people (or types of people) this particular demagogue doesn’t like. Rallying several hundred people together to pay $50 bucks to stick it to others, in my opinion, lacks faith, hope or charity, as well as prudence, justice, temperance or courage. There is no virtue in it; it exists to cause hurt — and that result has been expressly lauded by those involved.

(There are some former slaters who have come together to create a broader list of recommendations, based on fan input, and I would applaud them for doing so — it’s more akin to an actual ideal than anything else I’ve seen. Good on them for working to separate themselves from this mess.)

Some writers whose works were nominated this year, via this slate, didn’t ask to be included. They’re kind of caught in the middle of it, and many of them would’ve been contenders without the artificial boost. I don’t think they should be unduly punished because someone decided to hijack their works to make an allegedly political point or to, again, make hay about sticking it to someone else.

So as a Hugo voter, I’m going to do my due diligence and read the works involved. There are authors whom I know and/or respect who were slated, and I won’t fault them for that. There are more obvious nominees whose presence on the nominations list is supposed to be a giant middle finger to…again, whomever, man. I’ll read ’em, but I’m highly disinclined to reward bad-faith behavior. Sadly, there will be some categories likely to receive a No Award again this year — I take no joy in that.

Finally, I’ll say this: If your motivation for nominating is to somehow wreak havoc, make political statements or enjoy someone’s salty tears…man, it is way past time to look in the mirror and think about your life. We were taught in kindergarten that having fun at others’ expense isn’t cool. I would expect better of adults.

(Note that I’m closing this post to comments. If you agree with me, super. If you don’t, that’s your right. If you absolutely feel the need to reply either way, it’s a big Internet out there, and there’s plenty of space elsewhere for what I will assume to be your thoughtful, reasoned response. I’ve neither the time nor inclination to moderate it all.)

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