So there certainly is a turmoil in a teapot today over the Hugo nominations. It is clear that an organized campaign was responsible for the majority of the nominations. The perpetrators feel justified because they say the Hugos have in recent years been subject to similar campaigns by people they don’t like — that is, people who aren’t white straight conservative males. Thank goodness I’m not a conservative.
There have always been politics in the Hugos — indeed in any voted award — though the campaigns tended to be more individual rather than by organized groups. I have no Hugos but I do have three Auroras. The first one, I will admit, I campaigned pretty hard for, the other two not so much. The latter ones have wound up meaning a lot more to me. (P.S. this is eligible this year.) So, even if these folks do wind up winning their Hugo, they might find, as Spock said, having is not nearly so good as wanting — it is not logical but it is true.
Does it really matter? I would say not so much other than for those to whom it matters a lot. In recent years, I’ve taken to chatting with regular SF fans. By that I mean people who consume (rather than produce) science fiction and fantasy books or movies, comics books or graphic novels, like to listen to filk or dress in costumes. About half of them have never heard of the Hugos. 70% of similar Canadian fans have never heard of the Auroras that I prize so much. Those figures are hardly scientific but I think they may be fair. Far fewer than one quarter of the people eligible to nominate for the Hugo bother each year, which is why it is so easy to stuff the ballot.
But if SF fans don’t care about the Hugo, why would anyone else? Putting Hugo Award Winner on your book might sell a few more copies but it is not clear that it does (putting President’s Choice on it might do more). I’m pretty sure from my experience as editor of Blood and Water that the Aurora win only generated a few dozen extra sales — that is sales that would not have happened if I didn’t win. Significant for a small press but hardly overwhelming.
I recall back in 2000 when Galaxy Quest won for best movie. The writer who was a fan was there and he was overjoyed; the director (which in movies is far more important) was also there; he was bemused. When they walked off stage, they left the actual award behind.
So people who are outraged that the Sad Puppies as they call themselves (perhaps because of the mongrel mix of ideologies they spout — less a coherent philosophy than a unity based on whom they hate) have dominated the Hugo ballot. Some decent people who hardly ascribe to their views have also been caught up in the mess. There is already an active campaign to ensure No Award takes most of the prizes. Because that is certainly going to make things so much better.
If I were going to vote — which I am not eligible to do — I’d try to pick the best of a bad lot. And only if I thought none were eligible based on — listen to this Sad Puppies — literary merit (which includes being entertaining), then I too might vote No Award.
But that’s ten minutes.