You wouldn’t normally think of puppies as monsters bent on destroying the world, but this week, they did. The organizers of the Hugo Awards, the most prestigious fan-driven award in science fiction, announced the nominees for its 2016 awards. The SadPuppies and the RabidPuppies, the reactionaries angry at the awards for challenging their literary worldview, successfully gamed the nominations with their choices.
One of the choices, championed by the RabidPuppies, is a piece of absurdist dinosaur erotica titled Space Raptor Butt Invasion, authored by the pseudonymous Dr. Chuck Tingle.
Another title, reflecting the mini-dogs’ hatred of anti-racists, environmentalists, socialists, and all left-leaning people they label “Social Justice Warriors,” nominated a work titled, “SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police.” The foreword was written by ultra-conservative Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, who said, “feminism is cancer.”
The xPuppies have a chip on their shoulder the size of the Death Star. They believe the Hugo Awards, a decades old institution which has honored the likes of Asimov, Bradbury, and Heinlein, tends to reward leftist points of view at the expense of “good,” certainly old-fashioned, shoot-em-up space opera where the usually white guy blows away the bad guy. Nuance, thoughtfulness, and a recognition of the facts of American life are for sissies, in their world.
They see themselves as reformers while ignoring pleas by credible authors to remove their books from the xPuppies’ nomination lists and flinging names at opponents like schoolyard bullies.
All this wouldn’t matter, except for the fact that science fiction readers worldwide depend on the Hugo Awards as a mark of quality. While some of the xPup-inees are worthy, such as Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves, and sci-fi master Jerry Pournelle for his editing, the nomination ballot-stuffing by the xPuppies has permanently damaged the Hugos’ credibility. How can any discerning reader look at the phrase “Hugo Award-nominated” or “Hugo Award-winning,” not think of Butt Invasion, and not drop the potential purchase like a hot potato?
Likewise, how can any publisher associate itself with these kinds of brand-threatening shenanigans? They’re risk-averse enough as it is. Why take the chance with printing the Hugo rocket ship logo on its project without thinking of two years’ worth of Hugo train wrecks?
A second year of “No Award” winners will put the final nails into the Hugos’ coffin because it would demonstrate readers’ lack of faith in the award.
Hope is not completely lost, however. WorldCon, which manages the Hugos, has a chance to fix the problem with proposed nominations rules changes, though they won’t take effect until 2017, assuming they’re approved. If not, they might as well kill the awards program altogether. No one will believe in it anymore.