This started out as a reply to a comment, and became long enough I decided to make it a post. If you’d like to skip to the chase, the bottom two paragraphs are the important bits, and my point is “It’s time to end the requirement that a Hugo can only be given to a work published for the first time in the previous calendar year.”
On my review of Three Body Problem, Beerwulf wrote:
>As far as the Puppies are concerned there is no “everything else that goes into making a good SF story”, what you consider to be the “everything else”, they (and I) consider to be just optional extras. One of the motivations for the SPs is that SF has become too literary, too concerned with the optional extras and not concerned enough with what’s important, what makes SF, SF.
I’ve commented before about “Pure SF”: science fiction with everything that isn’t science fiction removed. Even if I agree with everything in your review (which I don’t – I might comment later about that), then this would stand as a great example of “Pure SF”.
I can see that, and it makes a lot of sense. And I agree that what makes SF SF is the important part. I generally dislike EarthFic (Literary Fiction) and consider it a wasteland. All that “everything else” heaped upon itself is just empty fluff without the base. If you’re going to bake a cake, you need actual flour. But I also think that just flour isn’t enough for me. Hardtack will fill you up, but it’s not a joy to eat. I want all those other things too. I guess that’s where the “difference in taste” thing comes in. For some people that extra stuff probably detracts rather than adds.
I will say I enjoyed The Martian. It had enough of the Other Stuff to make me happy, even if it wasn’t quite as well executed as it could be. It was certainly better than Three Body, IMHO.
I’m not sure this really explains the Puppies that well though. They nominated Skin Game, and if we’re talking about the “Pure SF” Stuff, it has none at all. It’s an urban fantasy. They also nominated Parliament of Beasts and Birds, which is religious horror and again has no “Pure SF” in it.
If a contingent of readers did want to bring more “Pure SF” back into the Hugos, nominating the most right-wing or the best-selling SF is not the way to do it. Their best bet would be to alter the Hugos to adapt to the modern world. A LOT of great titles are being passed over due to adherence to archaic rules from the times of print publishing.
Aside from Three Body, what are the two best-regarded recent “Pure SF” books you can think of? For me it’s Wool and The Martian. Both are insanely successful and fairly well written. Neither was eligible for a Hugo because they were first published serially online. (As more and more great works are!) By the time they made it into print (or had a large enough audience that they could potentially be nominated) they had passed the year that they were eligible. This is ridiculous. Most people do their reading online nowadays, and most stuff that’s published online spreads through word-of-mouth. That takes a fair handful of months, no matter how good it is. Putting something online shouldn’t make you ineligible for a Hugo. It’s absolutely ridiculous that neither Hugh Howey or Andy Weir were even eligible for a nomination!
It’s time to end the requirement that a Hugo can only be given to a work published for the first time in the previous calendar year. My own preferred solution would be to extend it to anything published in the three calendar years preceding the convention. This allows for word of mouth to spread. Alternately, it can be changed to making eligible anything released for the first time in a new publication format in the previous year (print as opposed to electronic, or full ebook as opposed to a collection of posts), with previous nominees obviously ineligible. An inability to change this, IMHO, is much more likely to kill the Hugos than any silly Puppy movement.