You know I'm still processing my thoughts on all of this, but I have been helped greatly by reading some of George RR Martin's thoughts. And also looking at some of the general stuff going around. Rather than do a link salad, because there are LOTS of links I wanted to dump my thoughts.
First off: I like puppies. I have puppies and love them to bits. I'm not much of a cat person though, so horses for courses and all that.
The Puppies state quite publically that the 'wrong' kind of stuff was being nominated. I have read a belief that this is due to 'whispering campaigns' against Conservative writers or a secret cabal pulling strings behind the scenes.
If there is one, or for that matter a 'whispering' campaign, I have not noticed - I've only been going to Worldcons for about a decade, frankly, I couldn't afford it before then. But in that decade there have been very few occasions where the book I voted for has won. Usually some of my nominations are on the slate though, but if we take the 'Puppies' at their words I like the same stuff as they do - spaceships, FTL, Ais and adventure. I have read Peter F Hamilton's Reality Dysfunction twice. Looking at that decade of Hugo Awards there isn't much of a pattern I see. There's big Space Opera, edgy technothrillers, urban and traditional fantasies - it's pretty diverse actually. There are some really fucking clunkers in there. There's also some stuff that upset me badly at the time, River of Gods was robbed is all I am going to say.
So, when I read the charge 'the Awards are all for the wrong stuff' or 'recently the awards have been for touchy feely stuff' or variations on that theme, and I look at the actual shortlists and winners and no obvious patterns emerge, and, in fact, they appear to be largely representative of the stuff I read or was aware of, or was well known of then that charge fails.
Good Writers are Being Overlooked!!!!
Yes, yes they are. Iain Banks never won a Best Novel Hugo. He was a screaming liberal, but wrote stuff the puppies claim to love, so what gives? How about Peter F Hamilton? No liberal he, I think, writes BIG FUCKING SPACE OPERAS. Neal Asher? Amazing stuff. Jon Courtney Grimwood? Al Reynolds? How about Alaistair Fucking Reynolds? A man who got a $1.5 MILLION dollar advance for his next 10 Novels… No Hugo for him, and no love from the puppies…
So I looked at the slate again and looked at some of the people. We have an Urban Fantasy from a best seller author who sells buckets of books. Good for him, but is the Hugo really an award for selling buckets? I mean, yes, it has been, but not always. Ask George RR Martin or Terry Pratchett, a man so overlooked by Worldcon Fandom he was only a Guest of Honour….
So the Puppies claim, in some respects to speak for me, but one of their slate novels is described as 'Akin to Old Man's War!' - now, for me that isn't much of an accolade - I mean I read it, it was alright, it wasn't anything new or special, probably didn't deserve the nomination, but we'll come onto that later. But it's not a bit of praise on Amazon that is going to make me click 'Buy Now'.
They Did It First!!!!
There is a charge that the 'other side' whomever that is, did the slate thing first. Well, sorta, and you might have a point. I certainly know quite a few of the people they would claim to detest who have serious problems with John Scalzi and Charlie Stross for their self promotion activities. But, hey, I run a small business, if you have a marketing channel you bloody well use it.
The thing is, there is a world of difference between 'hey, I wrote this vote for me! And here is a list of other things you might like' and 'Here is a list of works in each category that you should nominate.' - if you can’t process that difference then stop reading, you're a fucking idiot and I don't have to be nice to you.
The Elephant, or should I say, Puppy in the room. John Scalzi. Obviously one of the ring leaders in this cluster fuck is Theodore Beale, sorry I won't grant him his ridiculous nom. He and many others have a real hard on hate for John Scalzi, which is kinda weird. Because, frankly, John Scalzi writes EXACTLY the kind of stuff they claim gets overlooked. And I wonder if we're actually seeing something else more along the lines of 'one of our own turned'…
Scalzi was recommended by noted extreme liberal Glenn Reynolds for Old Man's War, a fairly run of the mill MilSF novel which was no great shakes, in my opinion, filled an afternoon but not much more. It seems to have come as a shock to some 'fellow travelers' in that space that by their standards Scalzi is a flaming liberal. Then again, these are people who have basically accused me of being left wing too, which amuses me all the way to the depths of my capitalist little heart.
Where are the greats?!?!?
I've seen this a lot. Usually, in the form of 'I used to read Heinlein, Asimov, Bradbury, Silverberg, everything today is all touchy feely crap' - uh huh… like Banks, Asher, Hamilton, Leckie and many many more… If all you can counter with is Hoyt, Correia, Torgensson and Kloos then you need to get out an READ SOME MORE GODAMN BOOKS.
Here's what I believe. This started because Larry Correia was nominated for a Campbell, went to a Worldcon and didn't get treated with the respect he deserved and he thought people mocked him for his politics and his religion. Well, probably… sorry, probably guilty as charged. He then didn't get a Hugo nomination and assumed its because people didn't like him. Well, sorry Larry, I don’t much care about your politics, I don't agree with Vernor Vinge much either but I fucking LOVE his books. I fucking hate yours. Don't do anything for me. Sorry. It's honestly not personal. Write me a big picture Space Opera and I'll give you a chance.
This has ZERO to do with a culture war, this has everything to do with butt hurt from not getting the respect you think you're due from your peers. Well sorry mate, that gets earned.
What you don't do is vandalize the prom because you didn't get a date, and that's what's being done here.
So what to do?
Honestly, I don't know. I probably will protest vote any category where the slate dominates. Not to say I won't read the works and see if they deserve to be there - I have read a Kevin Anderson and not hated it, didn't think it was all that good mind you. I have read some John C Wright, and politics aside it stank like the crap my dog did at the vet earlier because he was nervous about being there. As for the editor category, if you can't write for toffee, as a certain Mr Beale proved to me last year, I'm damn sure you can't edit.