I’m in a quandary this morning. My head is already back into the final edits I’ve been doing for the last week plus on a novel that is very different from anything I’ve ever done before. I’ve been alternating between loving the work (on very rare occasions) and hating it enough that I want to delete all versions of it and burn the print versions. So, trying to sit down and write a blog post is a challenge this morning. Trying to find a topic to write about that isn’t Hugo related is near to impossible.
So, I did what I usually do. I started checking my usual list of blogs and Facebook and other forms of social media. Instead of finding blog fodder, I got pulled into a long thread where there was an actual discussion about the merits of one of last year’s nominees and why some of those supporting the SP/RP efforts dislike it so much. It was a good thread even if it didn’t have enough to feed a full blog post. So I moved on.
I shook my head when I came across a comment from one of the more vocal anti-puppy authors with yet another screed about how the Puppies have broken the Hugos. Nothing new there. Puppies didn’t break the rules but they have no ethics. Bad puppies, piddling on the Hugo floor. If we don’t learn to be better behaved, they might just smack our noses with a rolled up paper. Since this particular author isn’t going to consider a differing opinion, there was no sense in posting to his wall. The only thing it would have gotten me was banned. Oh, wait, that might not be a bad thing.
However, one comment from another of those who have been rather vocal about how bad the Puppies are made a comment to the effect that if there had been more “quality” titles from the left side, she might actually have supported the Puppies. Wait, what? If we had advocated more of the “right sort” of literature, she would have supported us? No qualms about the “slate” aspect if Puppies had chosen the right kind of work to push. So, I guess it would have been ethical to have a slate if we had been promoting the right books and authors.
I could go on but Dave did a much better job of poking holes in the arguments of the other side than I ever could. Besides, with my brain in edit mode, I simply don’t have the desire to get into a full-fledged take down of some of the more asinine comments and posts I’ve seen of late. The logic of so many of them fails on almost every level, from assigning SP3 as some sort of partner or even tool of GamerGate to fear that if SP3 is successful we might — gasp — get a writer like Diana Gabaldon winning a Hugo and we mustn’t have that because she writes icky romances.
Give me a freaking break. (Yes, I said something different but I’m censoring myself this morning.)
I think it was this last one that sent me screaming into the night. The fear that someone who writes fantasy with a distinct romance bent might be nominated, much less win was so over the top. It was as if those making the complaint truly believes science fiction and fantasy are still pure genres. Obviously they haven’t read much lately. If they had, they would see that there is genre crossing all around. Yes, you can, with a lot of searching, find a pure hard science fiction novel, but they are few and far between. Fantasy has, for years, had some aspect of mystery or romance or the like in it. The mixing of genres, when done well, is a good thing.
I’ll repeat that, mixing of genres when done well is a good thing.
It helps by bringing in readers who might never have picked up a science fiction or fantasy book. That brings more money to the writers and publishers. It will bring in even more new readers as word of mouth spreads. Where is the harm in all that?
The very fact that some of those who are anti-Puppy are afraid that icky romance writers might invade their ivory towers of Awardland simply proves what so many of us have been saying. Those folks have gotten too comfortable with their hold on the awards and refuse to admit, even to themselves, that there might be award-worthy books outside their comfort zone. It is especially apparent when you look at the Hugos and realize that they really are nothing but a popularity contest. I guess, when you think about it, those who have gotten figuratively fat and happy with their lock on the Hugos should be afraid of popular works invading their little fiefdom.
Think about it. Nora Roberts, writing under her name or her pen name of J. D. Robb, puts out at least two to four books a year that could qualify as science fiction or fantasy. Her fan base is enormous. It wouldn’t take much to mobilize her fans to pay the money for a supporting membership and to then nominate her for a Hugo. It would almost be worth seeing the mass hysteria that would break out should both she and Gabaldon be nominated in a single year. It would also be fun to see what sort of attack plan the anti-Puppies would launch against them. If they think we are bad mannered, uncivilized cretins because we dare stand up for what we believe, wait until they face the wrath of the romance readers.
Pardon me while I pause for a bit and consider that image. Yes, that is a smile on my face. This image may become one of my happy places.
The whole point of this is simple: those who are fighting so hard to maintain the status quo need to get over themselves and admit that there are more folks out there who care deeply for science fiction and fantasy than just them. If they want to limit the Hugos to only those who are Fans as opposed to fans, then they need to take steps to rewrite the rules to keep the riff-raff out. Of course, doing so will be an admission that they didn’t like the way the rules have been written and that they have had to take steps to maintain their own control over the award.
Here is the question those who are complaining the loudest about the Puppies must ask themselves — and it is a question many of them don’t want to answer in public. Are the Hugo Awards supposed to be chosen by a very small group of self-appointed Fans or are they supposed to be chosen by fans-at-large? In other words, are the awards supposed to mean something to the fans who actually go out and buy our books and movies or only to a few who want to keep them within the popular kids’ club?
For me, I think anyone and everyone who wants to vote for what they think is the best book or short story or whatever should be able to and not fear a backlash the likes of what we are seeing this year. Perhaps it is time for the adults to step forward and tell the children to quit throwing tantrums.