Wading Into Dangerous Waters: The Hugos


Wading Into Dangerous Waters

This year’s Hugos.

The Hugos are awards given to outstanding Science Fiction and Fantasy writing. For those who don’t know, if you pay to be a member of WorldCon for a year, you get to vote on what should win a Hugo award for that year.

DISCLAIMER: I have never voted. I was a member back in 2001, but that’s just because my home town of Philly (which I hadn’t been to in over a decade) was hosting ‘The Millennium Philcon’, because fandom cannot resist a bad pun. I also have read none of the writing up for votes this year.

Typically, unless you are part of these circles, this seems to happen magically.

Over the past few years, there has been a push for more inclusive titles. Books and novels and poems written by people who aren’t white, cis*, males. Because diversity is a good thing, reading things by people with different experiences and backgrounds makes for new stories.

The group known as “The Sad Puppies” objected that people were putting diversity over quality. That these works were getting votes because they were different, not because they were good. They put forth a voting slate (which is very uncommon for the Hugos) of what they felt to be good writing. Some of the writers on their slate are not affiliated with The Sad Puppies.

Other people, such as Jim Hines, argued that The Sad Puppies only like a narrow subset of the genre, and that just because the more diverse novels didn’t fill that niche doesn’t mean that they aren’t good writing. He also suggested the that ‘Puppies’ are ‘sad’ because they’re not getting Hugos and it’s a lot of sour grapes.

Having read a little of Jim Hines, but none of the other authors in question, I’m not prepared to speak to anyone’s quality of work. But, the Hugos will be awarded tomorrow.

It’ll be interesting to see how things shake out.

* cis – When your genitalia matches your gender identity


  1. I think it is much too politicized, and has ruined the fun of reading science fiction. I no longer pay attention to who wins a hugo, or nebula. I pay attention to what I like to read, and skirt the issue entirely. This is my first comment on the subject on social media. But I think some of the writers are sexist holdovers from the 60s, even if they were born in the 80s or later.


    1. I worry about things being politicized, but am hopeful that now that more people know how the process works, more people will participate.

      I agree that sexist holdovers are definitely out there. They’re loud and proud. But hopefully those who aren’t are willing to join the fight and bring new and exciting worlds to us.


  2. I’m super nervous about the whole thing. Not only the “will the Puppies get away with it?” question, but also the “what happens in the future?” question. In order to thwart the efforts of the Sour Grapes, excuse me, Puppies, will everyone in the future have to choose candidates from slates? If so, people who have large audiences will have the best chances of determining who even gets nominated.

    As for this year, I don’t see a good outcome no matter what. There were categories that were 100% dominated by horrible Puppy nominees, in which the best outcome is “No Award”, which is sad. There were other categories, such as the movie award, in which the choices were relatively inoffensive but awarding anything still means handing a win to the Puppies and their tactics, which is also sad.

    So – Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.


    1. I’m nervous about how this will change the Hugos. But also a bit hopeful? Now that more people know about the Hugos and how they work, perhaps more people will participate? There’s a not-so-wrong stereotype of Worldcon goers as grey and greying. Revitalizing it and getting EVERYONE involved in the community is good for fresh blood and diversity.

      I am worried about politics clogging up the process, though.


  3. I had not heard of the puppies until this writing. From my limited experience, I have not as a group found the writers of SF and the winners of the Hugo and Nebula awards to be representative of white male establishment. From the top of my head I would name Octavia Butler, Samuel Delaney, Ursula Le Guin.


    1. Oh definitely, there’s been diversity and some really amazing writers.

      Brad Torgenson seems to be the front man of the Sad Puppies and here’s his first post re: their slate. https://bradrtorgersen.wordpress.com/2015/01/07/announcing-sad-puppies-3/

      Basically saying they want to vote for fun stuff, not literary stuff. Plus, stating that affirmative action is getting stuff on the ballot, rather than people trying to branch out and read stuff from people with different backgrounds.

      And his loudest opponent, Jim Hines’s take on the Sad Puppies ballot.


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