Friday, April 3, 2015

Sad Puppies III: Conquest of the Planet of the Puppies

Well that seems to be the attitude of WorldCon regulars, anyway.

There has been a great wailing and gnashing of teeth for the past week.  Ever since the Baroness Harkonen herself, Theresa Neilson-Hayden, came to the horrifying conclusion that the most prestigious award in Science Fiction was about to slip from her pudgy claws.

For those of you who don’t know.  The Hugo Award, is the most sought-after award in the field of science fiction and fantasy.  

Or at least it used to be.



Hugo winner from 1966



Now it’s emblematic of dynasty in terminal decline.

Hugo winner from 2011


Here’s the deal.  The Hugo Award was created in 1953.  It stumbled a little getting out of the gate.  For awhile it wasn’t even an annual award.

But around 1960 it found solid footing with the award for best novel going to Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers.

During the 1960s and into the 1970s every novel that won the Hugo became a classic with in the field.  The nominees were usually worth a look as well.

Then in 1977 there was a more serious stumble with Kate Wilhelm’s Where Late the Sweet Bird’s Sang.  A standard fashionable eco-disaster polemic.  Completely forgotten within the field because it was the wrong kind of fashionable eco-disaster.  Over population combined with an Ice Age.  It was dark harbinger of things to come. Also it was dull and completely forgettable.




Behold the Dark World of 2015
At least it killed the mole colony in my yard.




It was a typical product of New Wave Science Fiction.  

After that, liberal politics clearly became part of the judging criteria.  And by judging criteria, I of course mean popularity contest.  

Because that’s all the Hugos really are.  A popularity contest decided by the attendees of WorldCon. And of course it's supporting members.  That’s where Sad Puppies comes in. Send in $40 and you are a supporting member of WorldCon, thus eligible to vote. The old timers who show up in person aren’t at all happy about that.  They and they alone get to decide what is best Science Fiction/Fantasy novel of the year.  Even if they aren't very good at it anymore.

You see Worldcon has become a representative simulacrum of American Progressivism.  In that it has become progressively exclusionary, over the years. It’s the only thing the people who go there have going for them.  It is the only way they can measure their importance in the world.  The right wingers who used to go were made to feel uncomfortable, so they left.  Then the moderates were made to feel unwelcome so they left. Then those who weren’t quite far enough to left were made to feel unwelcome, they were allowed to stay provided they repented their sins.  In public.  Where everyone could see them and everything.

It started out as a fairly broad church, it didn't matter if you were a Communist or a raving radical.  So long as you were intelligent and above all amusing, you were welcome.  It used to be the biggest and most interesting of the science fiction conventions.

WorldCon is now a shadow of itself.

It’s pretty far from the biggest. That is probably Comicon  It’s certainly not the most important that is easily E3.  In fact Worldcon is about 17th down on the list.

But it does still control the Hugo Award.

At least until Saturday.



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