The 2015 Hugo Awards and Puppy-Related Sadness

So everyone’s talking about the Hugos.

Ok, not everyone.  To most of the world, the Hugos have pretty much no meaning or significance whatsoever.  But in the SciFi/Fantasy community, the Hugos are kind of a big deal.

Well…I have to amend that. To a portion of the SciFi/Fantasy community, they are.  But speaking as a guy who grew up on Star Trek and Star Wars, who’s read fantasy (and to a lesser extent SciFi) forever, who went to many a (Star Trek) convention before he grew up and entered the Navy, with deployments and the like, and who has maintained a love of scifi/fantasy things throughout his life, I have to say that, while I had heard that a thing called the Hugo Awards existed, before I got into this writing gig I really didn’t know what they were, and nor did I really care.

See, I’m not a fan with a capital F.  As I said, the only conventions I’ve ever been to were Star Trek conventions, and the last of those I attended was in…94?  95?  Something like that.  Shortly after I started this writing gig in 2011, I was on a writing blog and someone mentioned that this guy Neil Gaiman said something about something, and everyone was like, “OOOOO!”  My reaction?  “Who the fuck is Neil Gaiman?”  I’ve been reading and loving the stuff forever, but I’d never heard of him.  Or Niven.  Or Pournelle.  Or Bujold.  Or a lot of the names that are Godlike within community of SF/F capital F fans.  Because, though I loved it, SF/F wasn’t my entire life.  I read other things.  Did other things.  Didn’t really know conventions existed and probably wouldn’t have gone if I’d known because I was busy with other stuff.

But if you’d asked me, I still would have told you I was a fan of scifi and fantasy.  By God, Robert Jordan was my favorite writer ever.  And right behind him were Tolkien, R A Salvatore, Timothy Zahn, David Eddings, Terry Brooks, Arthur C Clark, and Carl Sagan.  And Michael Crichton.  And Tom Clancy (not scifi but I loved his stuff).  And others.

So last year, when I came across Larry Correia‘s Sad Puppies 2 campaign, I was like, hell yeah.  Because in the previous couple years I’d started to learn the lay of the land in the more formal SF/F community, and frankly some of the people in there annoyed the hell out of me.  I hate busy-bodies, and sanctimonious douchebags.  That’s why I’m not a leftist.  Well, that and I have studied history, economics, ethics, morality, and philosophy and nowhere in there can I find any coherent possibility of a society founded upon leftist ideals becoming anything other than a totalitarian hellhole.  But I could be wrong.

Anyway, given my natural predilection against holier-than-thou types, and a general enjoyment of poking things in the eyes of people who are poke-able (it’s the submariner in me.  First thing you learn on a submarine is “show no weakness”.  If something bothers you and people on the boat know it, they will do that thing incessantly, just to spin you up.  It’s one of the (few) ways we entertain ourselves while underway.), I watched Larry’s campaign last year with glee.  I even bought a Worldcon supporting membership and cast some votes on the final ballot, after reading the nominees and sorting what I liked and didn’t like.

As an aside, I learned for the first time that people could do this in…2012 I think.  When I was 36 going on 37.  The first movie I ever saw in the theater was Star Wars, as a toddler.  And as I mentioned before, I grew up on this scifi stuff.  But I’d never heard of how the Hugos worked until 35 years later.  And they wonder why Worldcon and Hugo participation is so low – clearly the folks running the show haven’t made a very big effort to put the word out and explain it to the rank and file scifi people out there, or invite them in.  I’m living proof of it.

Getting back to it, I cast some votes for the final ballot last year, so I had the opportunity to nominate this year.

I didn’t, though.

Why not?  Because the only novels I’ve read that were published in 2014 were The Chaplain’s War and Skin Game, and I don’t read that much short fiction.  (I have this thing where I tend not to read books when they first come out.  There are so many older, awesome books that I learn about as I go about my business that I’m always reading things from previous years, unless a book pops up that I REALLY want – like a Wheel of Time or Harry Potter book before the respective series finished.  Or more recently, like a Dresden book)  So I could have voted for the Sad Puppies 3 slate and basically nothing else (since I had read the short fiction Brad Torgersen recommend on the slate).  But I didn’t feel right about that, because I hadn’t looked at anything else that came out last year.  And while I love what SP is doing and really REALLY enjoy poking asshats in the eye, I didn’t want to nominate anyone without having a better idea of what the actual field was, because that would be dishonest – how could I really know those were my favorites for the year if I hadn’t read anything else?

Not sure if that makes any sense.

I intend to vote for this year’s final ballot, though.  Like last year, I’ll read everything on the ballot and make my own determination about it.  At this point, I suspect Skin Game’s getting my novel vote because that was a KICK ASS book.  On the flip side, I couldn’t bring myself to finish Ancillary Justice because it was so obtuse and…annoying.  I’ll give Sword a fair swing, though.  The others….  I’ve heard good things about the goblin book, and Kloos’ work has been proclaimed as awesome for a while though I haven’t read it yet.  But still…Butcher.  He’s freaking great.

Well, we’ll see.

Anyway, not sure where I was going with this except to say I fully endorse and support what the Sad Puppies folks have been doing, even though I didn’t vote for any nominees this year.  Because, as I said, I despise busybodies and holier-than-thou types who seek to rule others’ thoughts and actions.  And because I thought this was supposed to be the biggest award in Scifi, given by all scifi fans, not just by a tiny, insular clique.

My bad.