You’re probably familiar with the Hugo awards if you’re a science-fiction or fantasy writer/reader. Big award, said to celebrated the best that sci-fi and fantasy has to offer? Well, for a while now it hasn’t. Celebrated the best, I mean. And I know that science fiction and fantasy can be pretty nebulous on what’s “the best,” especially among dedicated fans who can have entertaining debates over whether Star Trek or Star Wars is more technically feasible. But the Hugo award was starting to see entirely too much control from one small insular group of “fans.” Well, a bunch of authors got tired of it and decided to do something about it to broaden the Hugo audience back to what it once was, and the sad puppies campaign was formed.
Long story short, it’s kicked off the closest thing I’ve seen in the time I’ve been following the publishing industry to a form of war. And I’m not going to cover it all here. I’ve covered it on my other blog before, and you can catch up on the battle pretty readily yourself with a few quick Google searches, though be wary of what you read: the insular group is pretty nasty.
Of course, groups that are being nasty also often tend to shoot themselves in the foot. And the latest open volley has, as of this morning, seen its arguments countered, point for point. So, what do I think of all this?
I think it’s pretty obvious based off of who I linked that I side with the SP campaign. I remember years ago, when I was still in high-school, I used to buy a yearly collection of “best of” science fiction and fantasy stories. And I really looked forward to it … right up until I didn’t. Year by year, my interest waned. Not because I stopped reading or enjoying science-fiction or fantasy, but because a lot of the stories included in the “best of” collection simply stopped being stories that I wanted to read. They started to become soapboxes. Character and plot dropped away to secondary importance (if appearing at all) in lieu of social commentary. So I stopped reading.
Now, do I take issue with them being called “best of” stories? Well, yes, because they’d sort of stopped being stories. Now, I’ll be honest, I don’t have any issue with someone else liking them and reading them. You want to read thinly-veiled soapboxing, be my guest. I’m just not interested.
But the thing is, the current, inclusive group that’s raging against the Hugo awards isn’t taking that stance. Instead, they’re saying that, and I quote, “The Hugos don’t belong to the set of all people who read the genre …” Or they’re going even further afield with this winner: “I’ve wanted a Hugo since I was in middle school, but I dreamed of being given one by SF community, not Larry Correia.”
Hang on a minute. I read Larry Correia. He writes fun fantasy novels. I’ve also met him. He’s very much a geek (you should see his fantasy/sci-fi mini collection). But he’s “not” a science-fiction/fantasy fan? Because this group says so?
That’s where I draw the line. Someone wants soapboxing in their fantasy? Okay, fine. They want to rave on about how people shouldn’t read books written by white men (the link to the original article is linked inside that link if you really do want to read it)? Fine, they can do that. It might be racist and sexist as anything, and I may personally disagree, but they can say it. After all, they can say what they like. Doesn’t mean I buy it, but hey, to each their own.
But you want to say that people who disagree with you aren’t really science-fiction or fantasy fans simply because they don’t agree with you? That’s the “no true Scotsman” argument right there. And that’s why I’m all for the SP campaign, because it took something that had been thoroughly distorted by a group of people with a “with us or against us” mentality and shined a nice, bright light on them. And you know what, this group of “true” fans can say what they want. But when they start insisting that unless you subscribe to their beliefs and their dogma that you aren’t a “real” science-fiction/fantasy fan, they’re just showing how off-base they truly are.
I grew up reading The Lord of the Rings. Angelmass. Star Wars. Terry Prachett. Terry Brooks. R.A. Salvatore. More books than I could ever count unless I’d started at day one. I enjoy reading fantasy. I enjoy reading science fiction. And now, I enjoy writing them.
But to be told that I’m “not a real science-fiction/fantasy fan” because I don’t hold the same social views? I think if anything, that alone tells me that the SP campaign is on the right track with its boost to the Hugo awards. Because if the people who’ve been ruling the roost there for the last few years are saying stuff like this, then the Hugos were on the edge of being pretty irrelevant … at least to anyone deemed “not a real fan.”
Which seems to be just about everyone.