Brief summary for those not in the know: the Hugo Awards are considered very prestigious awards for SF literature. They are awarded by SF Fandom at large – anyone can vote. There’s a group of conservative authors (led by Larry Correia) who feel that the awards are too liberal and intellectual nowadays, and are leaving out the SF base of fun, action-y novels (a lot like the written-word equivalent of Marvel movies). They’re pushing their fans to register for the Hugos in large numbers and nominate and vote for more conservative and/or old-school works.
I don’t know how many people still bother watching The Grammys or The Oscars. No one I know has bothered with that for well over a decade, because it’s self-congratulatory crap, and you already know which movie is going to win – and it’s never actually a good movie. Crap like Forrest Gump is called Oscar Bait for a reason. Same reason you never see a ground-breaking work winning the Grammys.
I was worried the Hugos could fall into the same rut. Then along comes Larry and shakes the whole thing up. :D
Here’s the thing about the Sad Puppies Saga – both sides are very sympathetic.
Side Sad Puppies: Larry points out that most of the authors he’s pushing are incredibly successful and wildly popular. It very much gives the feeling of a large populist base being ignored by a snobby elite. It makes you want to root for them to win. He’s charismatic, his fiction is fun to read, and all around he just seems like a super fun guy to hang around with. It makes you want to see him win. And he’s involving you directly, reaching out to us personally, so we will be involved in this win as well. Just good normal folk vs the out-of-touch intelligencia. Hell yeah I’m on board! Let’s do this!
Side Happy Hippogryphs: Have you seen most of the shit that Hollywood spews out? Remember Transformers? Despite being awful, they make hundreds of millions of dollars, and they keep getting made! You know when I knew I wouldn’t see the new TMNT? When I heard that they put April O’Neal on a trampoline. They put motherfucking bad-ass April O’Neal on a goddamn motherfucking TRAMPOLINE! Fuck EVERYONE involved with that movie. (yeah, sore spot for me. Venting is over now.) Anyway, a lot of the stuff being pushed by Sad Puppies isn’t much better. A lot of it is fun, and popular, but… it isn’t something you’ll remember ten years from now as a game changer. Unlike, say Pulp Fiction. Which, you’ll note, did NOT win Best Picture. Happy Hippogryphs are here to prevent the equivalent tragedy from taking place in SF. They aren’t always on the ball – Perdido Street Station didn’t win its year (though Mieville did get one later as a mea culpa). But at least we don’t give out awards to our Transformers. Yes, Jim Butcher is great! He’s popular for a damn good reason, and should be rightly proud of his work. But it’s not really revolutionary, ya know? So the Sad Puppies barging in, demanding awards for their rewrites of old-school action novels that were cutting edge back in Heinlein’s day, is like watching Michael Bay demanding that Kubrick and Scorsese acknowledge how great he is.
(all this is acknowledging that awful stuff does get nominated, but it is fortunately winnowed out in the awarding process)
It’s easy to identify with either side, and you want them both to win. This makes for the BEST sort of conflict. Different types of good against each other. Good vs Good is soooo much better than boring ol’ Good vs Evil conflicts. And the battlefield for this isn’t some dumb slug-it-out match, it involves politics, manipulation of rules, riling up the emotions of the base… in short: social manipulation. Those are the most fun sorts of conflicts to watch! Good v Good in social manipulation struggles? It’s like I’m INSIDE my favorite books, except I don’t have to worry about the world ending if the wrong side wins. :) Everything about The Sad Puppies Wars makes me excited to see what will happen next. The speculation even seems to be spreading beyond the typical SF bounds, which means that even the wider non-SF world is finding our awards interesting! This is fun, and I’m glad it’s happening while I was around to see it and take part.