I’ve been following with vague amusement the latest doing of the world of sf/fantasy, or at least its loud and public arms. Rather inevitably that involves John Scalzi, his deep hurt that he’s being teased about his dresses and his Hugo award for ‘Redshirts’, a rather mediocre joke about a TV serial, not precisely the caliber of Lord of Light or Dune. It goes with the turf (well, the lawn) that seems, especially when you’re known for taunting the (safely*) tauntable. Push even the safely tauntable’s buttons for long enough and sooner or later someone may respond. The outrage about how successful he was and how big his lawn was because he worked hard was really funny. If it was down to hard work, a lot of near starving authors would be billionaires. If it was down to talent, so would a lot authors who never ever got a publishing deal. What the man does well is self-promote, and choose the path of least resistance (the easy setting – which may be how he is. It’s still the easiest choice), which is to sing the publishing establishment’s tune. Loudly and often. That is the route to success in traditional publishing, outside of Baen who still buy all over the show, and from complete unknowns who do not sing their tune. (Baen have authors from across the political and religious spectrum. Good on them, support them, buy their books.) Otherwise, if you want traditional publishing push and you have the misfortune to be a white male, I suggest you establish a loud internet presence and embrace feminism, and squall loudly about the lack of diversity and how bad white males are. It worked for Lord Haw-Haw , and Vidkun Quisling with the establishments they wanted into. It could work for you.
And then we had John Ringo actually daring to taunt back, which as it lacked the safe part, was rather good. The defense by the queen bee of Tor that the Hugos are the most fair of the SF/Fantasy awards was interesting. It’s probably true, in the sense that the one legged centipede would still win the Miss Lovely Legs competition in the land of the earthworms. Actually, all it is, is a popularity contest – which thus comes down to either your book is widely read and loved, and/or you network and self-publicise well, or your publisher/friends do so for you. As the point of any literary award is to TELL readers what a great read is, using it for books where the publicity is already great is fairly pointless. If the award was actually fair it would be split more or less on demographic English reading lines (which would mean the left wing would win… about ?a quarter of the time, centrists of various shades half and the right at least as often as the left.) publishers would be represented more-or-less by sales share. I doubt if this holds true, having looked at the list.
Of course those of us who have no real talent for self-promotion, but may be great writers (the two do not have to go together), are really the ones the awards should target. But that’s not happening, and probably won’t. We really do need a better, alternative system. I don’t see exactly how it can work. Do you?
*As in permitted by the PC rules (break these and your publisher and the left wing self-elected enforcers of various ‘fail’ will prosecute you without due process, appeal or mercy), and also those whom the probabilities show are extremely unlikely to respond at all, even less likely to do so violently, who are powerless to affect your publishers and who will out of a sense of fairness you never display to them, still try to judge your books on merit. And where you can claim victim points if they do much as mock you. Because you’re so bwave. Those who mock the Taliban, or tease the high gods of PC are brave. The rest play the game on the easy setting.)