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Well, the Hugos… are not

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So they went and announced this year’s Hugo shortlists last Saturday evening, and it was all looking quite good for a bit… and then it turned into a total bag of shite. My dissatisfaction with the Hugos over the past few years has hardly been much of a secret, and I was mentally preparing myself to be disappointed yet again. But for one brief moment there, as the fan categories shortlists appeared, I was actually hopeful. And then…

Three things happened.

hugo_sm

First, a bunch of right-wing scumbags campaigned to get some of their right-wing scumbag friends onto various of the shortlists. And they mostly succeeded – of the twelve people on their “ideal ballot”, seven made it onto the shortlists. What they did was perfectly well within the rules, and similar campaigns have taken place in the past – although none have been as successful as this one. Let’s be clear about this, however – this wasn’t because they wanted to see their friends on the shortlists, this was a direct attack on a part of genre fandom. And yes, it’s an attack on the part that exhibits the qualities genre fandom should exhibit – inclusivity instead of misogyny and homophobia, diversity instead of racism and marginalisation, progressiveness instead of regressiveness… you know, the qualities associated with civilised human beings.

Secondly, some bright spark discovered that the entire Wheel of Time was eligible for Best Novel as a single work. And enough people voted for it so it’s made the shortlist. That’s fourteen fat epic fantasy novels which vary in quality from mediocre to rubbish. There’s no denying they’re a notable genre achievement, but a Hugo Award for Best Novel is not the way to recognise that. The series’ presence on the shortlist only makes the award even more of a laughing stock than it already was.

And finally, despite some small victories which reflect the genre and fandom which interest me, the same old names appear, demonstrating little or no progression in the tastes of the bulk of the Hugo electorate. But then, I suppose, it has little to do with taste – and zero to do with “best”. Fandom is now partisan to an extent it never has been before, and becoming increasingly so each year. People nominate their favourite authors, irrespective of whether the work in question is award-worthy – because if you think Neptune’s Brood and Parasite are the best sf novels of last year, you need to read a hell of a lot more widely. There’s a reason they haven’t appeared on any other award shortlist.

The reason all this has taken place – or rather, the reason the shortlists are like this, is because so few people vote in the awards that blocs don’t have to be especially large to have an impact. The only way to prevent this from occurring again is to open the voting to a wider pool. But that won’t happen because the Hugo Award is heavily invested in protecting a model of fandom which hasn’t existed for decades and it has the bureaucracy in place to ensure change is either extremely difficult or impossible.

Given this, I think there are five possible responses:

1. Pretend it’s just a “blip” and treat this year’s awards just the same as other years. It isn’t the same, of course, and it would be either foolish or mendacious to suggest it is. Taking this option would require total blindness to the situation.

2. Vote “no award” in preference to anything by the right-wing scum. This at least would have the benefit of showing the right-wingers exactly what they’re worth. Likewise for the Wheel of Time. Nonetheless, it would still require treating the shortlists seriously – and I think the fiction categories are beyond that.

3. Vote “no award” in preference to everything on the shortlists. Doing this would certainly send a message – the 2013 Hugos were so shit, no awards were given at all. But while that may be true of the fiction categories, it isn’t for some of the others – and it’s unfair that they should also suffer.

4. Vote for the right-wing scum, in the hope they win and destroy what little credibility the Hugos have remaining. Again, like 3., this punishes everybody and not just those who deserve it.

5. Don’t vote, don’t attend the award ceremony; having nothing to do with the Hugos ever again.

According to the Loncon 3 website, 6786 people have purchased attending or supporting memberships for the convention. There will likely be a couple of thousand walk-ins too. Only 1923 people voted in the Hugo awards. The figures look even worse by category – 1595 for novel, 847 for novella, 728 for novelette and 865 for short story. So for best novel, I make that 23.5% of the membership. Over three-quarters of Worldcon members couldn’t give a shit about the Hugo Award for Best Novel. That number has just increased by one. Apologies to the people I know and like on the various ballots – I know it’s unfair on them – but I’ve had it with the Hugos. I will not be voting. Nor will I attend the ceremony. And if I’d been on any of the fiction shortlists, I would have pulled my story.

It goes without saying that my one vote will have zero impact on the final results, whether I choose to exercise it or not. I choose not to. I will do the same next year, even though I am eligible.

Finally, one last request: the Hugo needs to remove the word “world” from its constitution. It is not a world sf award, it is an American one. It should at least have the decency to acknowledge that.

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47 thoughts on “Well, the Hugos… are not

  1. I don’t agree with your position, but I admire your intellectual consistency in your expressed position ( as per our twitter discussion).

    • Perhaps being a USian, you’re closer to, and have more invested in, the Hugos? I’ve always felt more strongly about the BSFA Awards, tho I recognise its voting pool is smaller and so more open to abuse.

      • I think that may be a factor (being a USian). The Hugos are very much a USA pool. This year (with a British Worldcon yet) seems to certify that

        • Indeed. And is one reason why I am so angry.

          • The Doctor Who slate in media and Gaiman’s denial of a nomination indicate it is an English speaking award.

            • Well, yes. It is voted on by a mostly English-language-speaking electorate and it is for English-language genre literature. It never claimed to be otherwise. But we also speak English in the UK, and despite hosting the Worldcon there are very few UK writers in the fiction categories.

  2. My plan so far is to go with option 2 but using the No Award option even more strictly, so for instance also putting it ahead of the Stross and Grant (not that there’s anything deeply wrong with these books but they’re not amongst the cream of the crop of the year). I think there’s a very worthy list of winners which can be distilled from the nominees (though in some categories just barely).

    Looking at those fiction shortlists though, it feels like a slap in the face to me for all the effort I did to read widely and deeply last year to nominate in my first world con. And even worse for the authors who wrote some brilliant stuff last year.

  3. Yeah, I’ve been ignoring this for too long. Maybe you’re right. If even a fraction of the people dissatisfied started to invest, we could make a difference. These are not big numbers.

  4. So you’re saying SF should be inclusive, except for people you don’t like? Sounds real inclusive to me.

    • W00! Anonymous comment! Brave of you.

      • That’s right, deflect and disqualify. Don’t engage with the human on the other end of the keyboard because I chose a name you wrongly interpreted to be anonymous. That’s my regular online handle, btw. And no, it’s not my real name. “Inclusive” people like you have cost me jobs in the past because I don’t skew liberal.

        • You expect me to take you seriously when you play the “tolerate my intolerance” card? And use an anonymous email address? You have an argument to make, then make it. If you just leave bingo card responses, I will mock you.

          • Oh no, I’ve never been mocked before. Whatever will I do?

            I made my point, but I guess it didn’t sink in, so I’ll elaborate. You can’t call a particular policy inclusive if there are people you’re actively excluding. Which means you either don’t know the meaning of the word inclusive or you’re using it dishonestly. Orwell’s doublespeak in action.

            • I’m confused now – are we playing intolerance bingo or inclusivity trumps? Because your argument won’t wash, you know: “no gays, blacks or lefties allowed here, BUT I DEMAND THE RIGHT TO BE LET INTO YOUR SPACES EVEN THOUGH I WON’T LET YOU INTO MINE.”

              • I never claimed to be inclusive. You did. Nor did I demand the right to be let into your spaces. And I’m not playing any kind of bingo. I’m pointing out a very basic logical flaw in your reasoning; You can’t call SF inclusive while actively excluding people.

                • You’re effectively complaining that I “borrowed” a teaspoon of sugar when you rob banks. It’s not a valid argument.

                  Which is all irrelevant, as nowhere in my post do I suggest excluding anybody. “No award” is not an act of exclusion – besides which, I also say I won’t be using it myself as I will not be voting.

              • Where did he say no gays, blacks or lefties allowed here? What he is talking about is your disparaging of right wingers in general. You can’t broadly insult and deny an entire group of people based on ideology and call your self inclusive and accepting of others.

                • I can if their ideology incorporates racism, misogyny and homophobia. And if you think it doesn’t, you really need to open your eyes.

        • The Dot and the Line is one of my favorite animated shorts, ever!

          With that out of the way, I am not sure being fair and balanced to a sexist, racist, and homophobic author is a sign of inclusion. I’ve agonized on how to read VD’s work or if I can, fairly.

          I am coming to the conclusion that I can’t, and even if I did, and disliked his work, your fellow travelers would simply dismiss it as reading in bad faith. There is no way for me to prove that I read in good faith if it turns out that I hate or think his work is unworthy. So what’s the point?

          Reading is an opportunity cost. I don’t see the upside to reading VD’s story. (I didn’t care for Correia’s first novel in this series, so I won’t read this one).

          Oh, and you misspelled Librul.

          • Haha, you misspelled .

            You make it sound like the only reason you read fiction is to argue about it online. Isn’t the point of reading fiction to enjoy the story? Or in the case of the hugos, to decide for yourself what’s worth voting for? If you don’t enjoy it, that’s fine. Don’t vote for it. But please at least read it before voting. Almost all of the hate I’m seeing for VD’s nomination has to do with his political opinions. I’ve yet to see anybody argue that the story itself isn’t worthy of hugo consideration.

            • To be fair, a number of people have said they plan to read the story and judge it accordingly. Some have already said they don’t think it very good.

              But the story is only on the shortlist because of a political gesture – so I chose to respond in kind.

          • > I am coming to the conclusion that I can’t, and even if I did, and disliked his work, your fellow travelers would simply dismiss it as reading in bad faith.

            And that’s where your side displays more projection than a 20-screen cinema. You read it and tell us you disliked it because it hangs a thin plot around even thinner paraphrased Aquinas, we’ll take that as a totally good faith and defensible opinion; and if you’re left cold by the Christian model of hope displayed by the elf, fair enough, many people do not find that path to salvation appealing or resonant.

            But Larry Correia does, and therefore he recommended the story. And anyone with the education to recognize Aquinas and the spirituality to seek salvation likewise finds it appealing. Those people have a voice too, and therefore the story is on this year’s ballot.

            And anyone who refuses to accept that are the ones who are dealing in bad faith. And the ones that cannot recognize that at all … well, their words speak for them too.

        • Unless you’ve changed your name to __ by deed poll, your handle is just a blank. So you should understand if you’re not a recognizable online brand in all quarters.

          Including people who exclude whole vast swathes of humanity based on sexuality, gender, race, and religion (or lack of) – such as Vox Day does – is not increasing inclusivity. It is helping to make genre, less inclusive.

          Because I can reassure you that right-wing blowhards of a male, Christian, Anglo-American, and white persuasion are not exactly underrepresented in science fiction. Not historically, not presently, and unfortunately, not anytime in the near future. One need only look at Baen Books’ list of new titles for confirmation of this sad fact.

          As an aside, if some wobbly-after–the-event attempt to reassess the balance has taken bread from your mouth? Well, I suspect it wasn’t your bread, really, it was someone else’s bread taken out of their mouths, long before you came around to whine about it.

          But back your question: SF should be inclusive, and encouraged to more inclusive than it presently is; which is a very good reason to block attempts by a cadre of reactionary authors and fans to skew awards such as the Hugo towards themselves. And thus, limit diversity, or even if they fail, poison the well.

          However, let’s ask you in return: how *does* supporting Vox Day on the Hugo ballet increase inclusivity in science fiction exactly? Have we read Robert A. Heinlein and Orson Scott Card in vain? There are still plenty of white, male, Anglo-American authors on the list, and many, many more waiting in the wings. His is not a silenced or even endangered voice, nor from what I can tell, does his fiction bring something new and different to the table.

  5. Hi Ian, or Mr. Sales if you prefer for I do not wish to be rude.

    Thank you for opening your comments to those with whom you disagree. I also apologize if I make any errors since English is not my mother tongue.

    I suppose I am a follower of “right-wing scumbags”, for I supported WorldCon in part at the urgings of Mr. Larry Correia. Yet I have been a nearly lifelong fan of SF.

    “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” was the first English-language novel that I now recall. Terribly battered and torn, I read it eagerly under the covers as a little girl, and was so sad to discover the final page was missing! (I have since read it so you need not fill me in!)

    Then, amongst others, Anne McCaffrey, with her tales of dragons soaring through the skies! A woman, writing this, and yet it was linked to Mr. Heinlein’s novel in some strange way. And so I proceeded. Old and perhaps silly works, to be sure, but these were what were available in my country.

    Mr Tolkien! Mr Lewis! Of course I now know, books left over from missionaries. And then my first Asian SF writer, Ngai Hong. Yes, ok you can laugh and dismiss my tastes, but this was the first person much like me. And what he wrote stirred my soul, though I admit it was not always of great literary majesty. How could it be? He was surely writing ahead of a death sentence, at least in his mind.

    And so many more. I did not care for the colour of the skin which I know is important now, or the politics, which is very important. These were of no import to me. And I admit remain so, though I suppose I have a leaning to occidental-style SF written in the style of the modern age, especially if a woman writes it.

    I tell you this not for you to laugh, though you may, and it is your privilege. I tell it to you so that you can see a tiny piece of another fan.

    A lover of SF. Of all that it may be, and all that it shows about us as human beings with our great potential and terrible failings.

    When I saw the Hugo nominations I was happy. I am very sad that you were not, and I wish you had not dismissed all of them in the fashion you did. I saw a number of new novels and stories that I would devour. I agree with you on the Wheel of Time nomination. I do not see how it can be fairly voted on. And, with young children, and other demands on my time, I do not see how I can give it fair time.

    I also somewhat agree with you on Mr. Stross; I am not yet sure I agree with you on Ms. Grant, for I have yet to read Parasite, and I admit I shall wait for the packet to do so. Money is restricted after all.

    I am puzzled, though, and I would respectfully ask you to explain: you seem angry about the fact that there are new “right wing” authors, and yet that :

    ” the same old names appear, demonstrating little or no progression in the tastes of the bulk of the Hugo electorate”

    Surely there has been a radical change, for you complain about just that, yet parallel that with “the same old names”.

    I am confused.

    Mr. Correia’s series is good, and I enjoyed Warbound. I liked his rational breakdown of the universe particularly. Do I think it the greatest literary work? No, he deliberately strives for a style that appeals greatly to me, but perhaps not to most.

    I am excited by Ancillary Justice. It is a thoughtful and intelligent work that beats Mr. Correia on several levels. I lean towards it in my voting. Until I read people who wish to make this a battle.

    Personally I thought that Sarah Hoyt’s work (also suggested by Mr. Correia) A Few Good Men, which incidentally featured a gay protagonist, was the best I had read this year. (Ancillary might well be better, I am still thinking). I’m sorry she wasn’t nominated, but please understand that your suggestion that Mr. Correia is a homophobe seems strange given his support for Ms. Hoyt and her work.

    I am delighted voters are exposed to both Ms. Leckie and Mr. Correia. You seem… enraged? Dismissive?

    And when you write something like this:

    it’s an attack on the part that exhibits the qualities genre fandom should exhibit – inclusivity instead of misogyny and homophobia, diversity instead of racism and marginalisation, progressiveness instead of regressiveness… you know, the qualities associated with civilised human beings.

    What? You dismiss me as uncivilised? I… I have trouble speaking about this remarkable cruelty and dismissiveness.

    There is little more I can say. Thank you for letting me speak.

    • Hi Jane, I can’t speak for Ian, but I think the primary “problem” most are having with this year’s slate of nominations is the inclusion of Vox Day (in the Novelette category). I’m not very familiar with him or his work, but it seems that all the talk of racism/sexism/homophobia is primarily focused on him (and from what I’ve seen, this is a fair accusation – he seems like an ass). Correia is getting some of that blowback because he recommended the Vox Day story.

      With the exception of Vox Day, I don’t see why anyone else need be so vilified on this slate. The inclusion of “the same old names” is an old and oft-repeated (and probably valid) complaint about the Hugos, but seems to sometimes get lumped together with the Vox hate. It’s more due to the populist nature of the award than any sort of political wrangling or malice (though gain, Vox’s inclusion was almost certainly due to malice).

      On the other hand, this year has a lot of new stuff too, and many of the “Same old names” were surprisingly left off. For the first time in a long time, I’m seeing no Gaiman or Scalzi, both of whom had eligible works. Others too.

      I don’t really get why all the folks on Correia’s list have to suffer because of Vox’s inclusion. It’s not like people like Dan Wells or Brad Torgersen haven’t been nominated for Hugos/Nebulas/Campbells before (though not often enough to warrant the “same old names” complaint either – they’ve all come up in the last few years). Not having read any of them, I can’t say anything about their quality, but I’m interested in reading them.

      As for the Wheel of Time, I kinda agree, but even if it was just the last book nominated, the effect is still nominally the same. I haven’t read any of them, and jumping in on the 14th book seems unwise, so I’d want to start at #1 (which is what I’m doing) It’s still super annoying, and I thought it was a joke when someone brought it up earlier this year, but here we are.

      • Well, yes and no… I’ve heard rumours that Gaiman was shortlisted but declined – but that’s hardly relevant. The Hugo electorate looks to a relatively small pool for its shortlists, and despite the “ideal ballot” posted by Correria (and by means of which Correria, Torgerson, Wells and Weisskopf have profited), there are some overly familiar names in the fiction categories. I had hoped that having the Worldcon in the UK might see more open shortlists, but that hasn’t happened.

        • You keep saying ideal ballot like it is a real term or has any many. You mean the oh this is what I am nominating and why post on his blog, right? How is that any different then any other author promoting the works he likes or authors he is friends with?

          • I put the term in quotation marks because that is how it was presented on Correia’s blog. He suggested a variety of works his sycophants could nominate. It was a politically-motivated act. He didn’t claim the works he suggested where superior to everything else that had been published.

      • Hi Mark! Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

        I agree that the flashpoint (if that is the term?) seems to surround Mr. Day, and yet it does seem to spread. Mr. Sales spoke of “right-wing scumbags”, and I (perhaps incorrectly) thought he even was referring to those of us drawn in by Mr. Correia. And I certainly reasonably thought he was referring to Larry Correia, Dan Wells, and others as well, for he made no effort to distinguish.

        I think Mr. Correia was well within his rights to suggest Mr. Day’s story; though he likely wished to provoke in doing so. He certainly succeeded.

        I have read the novelette in question. It is reasonable; I detected no homophobia, bigotry or hatred. I half expected to be told I should not vote; there was no such message. I thought there were weaknesses: a tendency to cliche epic fantasy language; and debatably a somewhat weak storyline. It was well-done, overall, and I enjoyed the characters.

        However, it was not the best SF novelette of the year, though I shall certainly rank it above No Award, unlike, I gather, many.

        On those you haven’t read, I think Dan Wells is a very good talent. If you like that kind of thing, his “I am Not a Serial Killer” series is well done. For some reason I read it around the same time as Mr. Mark Haddon’s superb (non SF) literary “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time” Both resonated off one another for me in describing the growth of a boy who was slightly separate from and outside the world.

        That said I believe his nominated work is a tie-in, and I admit to being dubious of those in general as far as Hugos or any literary awards go. Mind you, Mr. Peter David complains vociferously about this, and with some reason.

        On leaving off Mr. Scalzi and Mr. Gaiman, I think the former hinted he did not wish to be nominated, though perhaps I misremember. On the latter, I am a fan, but was it perhaps The Sandman that qualified him for last year? I admit while I love his work, an eInk reader lets me nurse and not worry about batteries; a tablet does not. If it was a graphical novel, I perhaps missed it for precisely that reason. Shame on me I suppose, though evidently many fans felt likewise.

        Mind you, best graphic story? Surely it has to be “Time”. No? Ah, we all differ, and that’s something to rejoice about.

        • Ocean at the End of the Lane was the work I heard was nominated and Gaiman declined on.

        • Thanks for the reply Jane! And thanks for commenting at all, as it’s nice to put a human face on some of the people that nominated these works (I suspect you are not what a lot of people would expect). You seem to really know your stuff!

          I’d certainly like to believe that the commentary around this year’s slate would not be as vitriolic if Vox wasn’t on the list that Correia posted. There are always (fair) complaints about the populist aspects of the award, but the inclusion of Vox is clearly moving the commentary into more controversial territory. It’s a shame that other authors are getting caught in the crossfire.

          Totally agreed on best graphic story! Both on “Time” and the fact that we should rejoice in our differences:)

    • Hi. Thanks for the comment. While I agree with your views on Ancillary Justice, I’m afraid I’m not a fan of Sarah Hoyt’s work. And while both Ann Leckie and Larry Correia have never appeared on Hugo shortlists before, the same can’t be said of other names in the fiction categories. For the novel category, I myself nominated Ann Leckie, Kate Atkinson, M John Harrison, James Smythe and Ruth Ozeki. I think they’re all better novels than those on the actual shortlist.

      As for your other point… If you are homophobic, racist and misogynist, then yes, I’d consider those uncivilised characteristics. You can hardly claim to be civilised if you consider gay people, women or people of colour not human.

      • Hi Ian,

        We are certainly at perfect liberty to disagree on the merits of Sarah Hoyt. Perhaps she speaks more to me as an outsider learning about America. I don’t know. I am glad we agree on Ancillary Justice. It’s a great work and I am delighted it is on the ballot.

        You nominated A Tale for the Time Being? Nice! It was a good work, and likely worthy. I did not and I was very torn and actually typed it in to my ballot then deleted it before submitting; please understand there is a complex role of Japanese colonialism in parts of Asia. I was, as I say, torn. That is no doubt a failing in me.

        James Smythe? We must disagree. I found his physics implausible and even irritating (assuming you refer to The Explorer). The Guardian’s review was harsh, but I found myself nodding along with it. It WAS a bit of a Star Trek episode.

        On the rest of what you write. Hmm. I have gay family members, and I am a woman of colour in your terms (I’m Asian and live here, not in the West, and my skin is relatively dark) I certainly don’t consider gays or women or people of colour not human. I hope you feel likewise.

        As for Mr. Day, I think he’s a trolling polemicist. Do I think he hates me, my family, or thinks us less than human? No, or I’d not read him. He is a strange alien whose thoughts help me form a box around the world we live in. So are you.

        I hope that does not offend you, for I am sure I am the same to you.

        If it’s any consolation, I do not think Mr. Day’s work the best of the year.

        I do not write to persuade you that my views have more merit than yours; it is the errand of a fool. Your views and mine have equal merit: we are both fans. I write simply to say we too are human. If you prick us, do we not bleed?

        Please do reconsider your language about those of us drawn in by Mr. Correia. We too are long time fans, and I wish nothing more than the best works winning. Casually dismissing those of us with different life experiences does seem needlessly cruel.

        In any event, you have made me feel a bit of shame for not nominating Ruth Ozeki. In asking you to think beyond hurts and offensiveness, I realize I have likely failed to do the same. That is a good thing, for me at least. Thank you.

        • Thanks for your reply. I think perhaps with Hoyt you’re getting only one view of the US, when there are several worth considering. On Ozeki – if it didn’t work for you, then it didn’t work for you. The Smythe I was referring to was The Machine, which I thought very good. But I do agree with you that his physics owes more to movie science fiction than actual physics (but he does that deliberately, and I do like his prose).

          I think you may be giving VD the benefit of the doubt where no doubt exists. He called Nora Jemisin, a woman of colour, a savage and less than human, and his beliefs are really quite offensive. Correia is clearly not as bad, though I disagree fundamentally with his politics. I believe it is the duty of society to succour the weak and vulnerable; right-wingers believe the opposite.

          While we may disagree on various points, you’ve been courteous and made an effort to engage,. That’s all you can ask for in debate… but it is so infrequently given.

          • Think with Hoyt you’re getting the same view of the US as you’d find on any given episode of Hannity. It can be easy to forget, especially when looking in from outside, that this a minority viewpoint in the US. A vocal minority, but a minority nonetheless. (So is progressivism, FTR. most Americans aren’t very committed one way or the other, politically speaking.)

            • Yes and no. If I am not mistaken, Mr. Hannity (of Fox News and some radio show?) seems to me to be a spokesman for the US Republican Party. I admit I do not get these channels, but I have seen him on Youtube.

              He is quite attractive, well spoken, and superficually persuasive, but appears to speak with a startlingly narrow point of view, and does not offer any particular ideological coherency or understanding of the world outside the US.

              Ms. Hoyt speaks with startling, even aggressive ideological coherency, with a great understanding of what some outside the US have experienced growing up.

              Overall, as a fellow mother of sons, it is perhaps some of the nuances in what she speaks of that I am most drawn to.

              Rest assured, I do not take her views as gospel in defining America.

              • He’s not a spokesperson for anything but himself. The Republican Party is more diverse than the viewpoints aired on FOX, though that diversity has been declining for three decades now. However, where I grew up (New England), Republicans are business-oriented and want low public spending, but are for the most part socially liberal (or at least moderate on social issues).

                And it’s also important to remember that only 25% of Americans even identify with the Republican Party. There are more Democrats (31%) and way more who identify as independents (42%). (http://www.gallup.com/poll/166763/record-high-americans-identify-independents.aspx).

                People like Hannity and Hoyt express the political views of a subset of a subset–a distinct minority. A vocal minority, to be sure, but a minority nonetheless.

          • Hi Ian.

            Absolutely Sarah Hoyt represents a minority view of the US — in every meaning of the term. She does, however, represent a different one from that of (say) CNN which is the alternative I sometimes am stuck with seeing, which assumes foreknowledge and seems to have been born yesterday in knowledge of areas outside the US and general credulity.

            John Scalzi also represents the US — perhaps quite a bit more accurately than Ms. Hoyt, as does Mary Robinette Kowal, and so on. Fear not; I do not define the US based on one person, or even on multiple SF writers!

            Ms. Hoyt grew up under a repressive right wing regime which flawlessly shifted to a left-wing repressive regime; having experienced much the same in terms of repression (I’d characterize forced abortions as pretty repressive), her views have at least some emotional saliency for me.

            Ah, The Machine, I must read it then. I did not. At least we agree on his physics, and yes, I think I agree on his prose.

            “I think you may be giving VD the benefit of the doubt where no doubt exists. He called Nora Jemisin, a woman of colour, a savage and less than human, and his beliefs are really quite offensive.”
            His professed beliefs are indeed startlingly offensive. Having looked, I note he called Ms. Jemisin a “half savage” and, to my mind, even worse, a “black female fantasist”. Could you cite where he called her less than human? All I saw was a reference to us not all being equally homo sapiens sapiens according to modern genetics. Ironically, that means he (and you, assuming you are predominantly white, and I as an Asian) — we — are not as fully h.s.s. as someone of primarily black African descent, due to the presence of Neanderthal DNA in non-African populations. A trivial truth, though I suppose a provocative one for any who believe in racial supremacy.

            In any event, certainly offensive.

            I come not to defend a highly offensive polemicist, but merely to note that it does seem unjust to paint all in this with the same brush as “right-wing scumbags”, whatever your rightful anger concerning Mr. Day.

            • Um, not sure which “left-wing repressive regime” you’re referring to. Obama is certainly not left-wing. The US has always been right of centre, even back in the days of FDR.

              I’m not going to trawl through VD’s offensive screeds to find where he insulted Jemisin. The stuff that he spouts, here in the UK we call it hate speech and it is illegal. Also, that thing about not being entirely homo sapiens…. that’s just scientific bigotry, and that was discredited a century ago.

              • Sorry to comment so late. About VD, I personally find his politics very distasteful. However, it seems to me that he has a twisted sense of humor and is laughing at you (I’m using you as plural here, not just you personally). You are under the impression that he said Jemisin is not entirely homo sapiens because she is black, when he was actually saying the opposite (and I guess knowing perfectly how his comment would be interpreted).

                What he said is “Jemisin has it wrong; it is not that I, and others, do not view her as human, (although genetic science presently suggests that we are not equally homo sapiens sapiens)”.

                The scientific research he was referring to is this:
                http://digitaljournal.com/article/291798
                Apparently the genome of Africans is 100% homo sapiens sapiens, while Asian and European populations have up to 4% DNA in common with the homo neanderthalensis, so in that sense we are not equally homo sapiens sapiens.

                • By the way, I’m not saying that VD is not a racist, for I fully believe he is. I just wanted to comment on that particular point.

                • If you find his politics so distasteful, why are you attempting to excuse them? No one has ever said that someone must be 100% homo sapiens to be human, to say otherwise is scientific bigotry – and that’s racism, pure and simple. No, VD wasn’t having a joke on us, he was being a racist shit.

                • Eh… did I come across as trying to excuse him? I must have been very clumsy. I was just pointing out that the particular sentence that most people are quoting is not actually saying what people believe. In particular it’s not saying that people of color are not human. The rest of VD’s post, however, is filled with hate speech.

                  >No one has ever said that someone must be 100% homo sapiens to be
                  >human, to say otherwise is scientific bigotry – and that’s racism, pure and simple.

                  Sure, I agree. However, since I do not think VD was defending that Caucasian people are subhuman, it must be his sick idea of a joke (sick because what kind of person finds it funny to get people to believe you are calling someone subhuman).

                  I just think that since we are criticizing him, we might as well understand what we are criticizing. It’s not like his post is not filled with racist nonsense, anyway.

                  But I guess you are right, why do I bother?

                  Sorry for the interruption, and please go on.

                • I still don’t understand why we should care. He’s a racist. Whether or not one remark he made wasn’t as racist as other remarks he has made is neither here nor there. It’s like arguing over whether a serial killer murdered his victims with a machingun or a semi-automatic rifle…

  6. Ian – I share a lot of your criticisms about this year’s list and the Hugos in general. The fiction shortlists, in my opinion, leave a lot to be desired. It’s not *just* the interjection of tiresome Amercan right-wing blabbering into what should ostensibly be a process to determine exemplary SF/F, though that is the biggest problem. It’s also the mediocrity, particularly in the Best Novel shortlist, but in all honesty the short fiction shortlists disappointed me as well. At least one story isn’t even really SF/F (though it was published in an SF/F market). As for Best Novel, the one I’d likely vote for–Ancillary Justice–isn’t even a great novel. It’s a good novel, and a daring novel, and I do think it deserves to be on the shortlist (more than the others do as well). But I just don’t think it’s great literature either, and that’s a statement on the inherent mediocrity of this particular set of awards.

    However, all that said, I will not follow your lead and I will vote. I’ll vote for Ancillary Justice and I’ll vote for writers like Benjanun Sriduangkaew. And I’ll definitely vote for fanzines like A Dribble of Ink and Pornokitsch and fan writers like Liz and Foz. Plus other deserving folks.

    …it’ll just come with a lot of “no awards” in the relevant spaces too.

  7. Pingback: 2014 Hugo Nominations – the reactions | Far Beyond Reality

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