Hugo Controversy

The Hugo Award is undergoing an… unusual amount of controversy this year. Apart from the Wheel of Time shenanigans, which would be the center of attention, normally (people are upset about a giant fantasy series getting the nomination, blah blah blah, my fandom is better than yours, blah blah, whatever), but there is another, much bigger issue: Vox Day got nominated for Best Novelette. The Wikipedia article is pretty nice about it, but Theodore Beale/ Vox Day is a truly horrible person. He genuinely thinks that minorities and women are genetically inferior, he uses racial epithets constantly, is homophobic, is the only person ever kicked out of the SFWA, he’s anti-semitic, he’s a fundamentalist Christian (not just a biblical literalist, he’s the really hateful kind of fundamentalist), he’s a men’s rights activist, he considers feminism and women’s suffrage a disease, claims there is no such thing as marital rape… it goes on. I’m not linking to his blog or any of his posts, but I’ve read a few, and they are fucking horrifying.

The SF/Fantasy fandom world is up in arms right now.

So, how did he get on the list of Hugo finalists?

Author Larry Correia got him on the list by advocating for him, that’s how.

I haven’t read anything of Larry Correia’s work, so I can’t say whether I think his book deserved a nomination. It definitely had enough fans to, though, which is what the Hugo is to no small extent about. However, I can pretty confidently say that Vox Day does NOT have enough fans to get him onto the list on his own, so I feel safe enough to claim that Correia got him on with his Sad Puppy campaign. The big question is, why would Correia nominate him?

Though I haven’t read any of Correia’s work before, I have heard a few things about him. I think it would be a fair assessment to say that he is very conservative, and I don’t think he’d be upset in the slightest when someone called him a gun nut. (Honestly, with me growing up in Kansas, his love of guns seems pretty tame compared to some of the people I’ve met. Fucking Kansas, man.) He is definitely pretty combative when it comes to arguing online, which, to be fair, is pretty common. BUT, and here’s the big kicker: Everything I’ve heard generally agrees he’s a pretty decent person. He seems to get along with everyone well enough in person, even authors that are as far down the political spectrum to the left as he is to the right. I’ve never heard of him being racist or sexist, (it could have happened, but I’m pretty sure if it had, it would have been brought up over and over again in the current controversy). Hell, the dude’s even participating in a pretty awesome charity drive for author Robison Wells, who is dealing with crippling debt caused by mental illness. (Which I definitely recommend supporting. Being a SF/Fantasy author is NOT a way to become rich, at all, so we need to help out our authors whenever we can!)

So why the hell is he promoting Vox Day? Beale/Day is one of the most hateful, terrible people I know of. (Obviously excepting a huge list of dictators, serial killers, rapists, and other monsters. When you have to put that exception on a list, though, THAT REALLY SAYS SOMETHING.) Correia obviously doesn’t seem like a bad person, just an inflammatory, argumentative, controversy seeking one. (I definitely can be inflammatory too, so I’m going to kind of drop a rock behind me and nudge it away with my foot). I’m genuinely confused about why the hell he backed Day, and why he’s risking letting himself get tarred with the racist by association brush. I dunno.

I can’t say I’m a fan of the idea of his Sad Puppy Hugo campaign even minus Vox Day (Though there are some awesome, cool authors on there too), it seems kinda… I want to say undignified, but that would just be pretentious, hypocritical, and annoying of me, since I’m definitely not a very dignified person. Let’s just say I don’t really feel it is in the spirit of the Hugo Awards, even if it is in the letter. I’m going to try my best to give Warbound a fair shake in my Hugo Nominee Readthrough this year, and who knows, maybe it will turn out to be repellent, racist, sexist, and made of dead kittens, so I can just find the nearest bandwagon. Maybe he is a terrible person. The SF/Fantasy fandom as a whole is usually very polite and discreet, and it usually takes a lot for them to start badmouthing people, and maybe he just slipped under their radar. I doubt both of those things, to be honest, but Larry Correia supporting Vox Day… well, it’s leaving an incredibly bad taste in my mouth, and that’s not what I wanted going into the Hugos this year.

I would have been so much happier just to argue about the Wheel of Time thing.

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5 comments

  1. When I say there are awesome authors on the list, I’m referring to Dan Wells and Howard Taylor. Huge fan of their podcast Writing Excuses they do with Brandon Sanderson and Mary Robinette Kowal. Definitely check it out if you get a chance.

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    1. I agree with you about WoT — it should not be on the ballot as a single entity, not in “best novel.” I would’ve been fine with it getting a special award of its own. (And the widow of Robert Jordan deserves an award or two also; she edited the whole thing and kept it alive after her husband died, bringing in Brandon Sanderson to complete it. I think _she_ should get several awards.)

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      1. I strongly believe that a Hugo series award should be created: Similar to the Best All Time Series won by the Foundation novels, but a yearly award that any series completed that year that HAS NOT been nominated for any individual book before is eligible for. But, because I do feel that the series has had such a huge influence on SF/F, I actually am rooting for it this year.

        As for Harriet McDougal: She absolutely deserves tons more recognition. Amazing person.

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        1. Thank you, Mountainwashere. Yes, I really like Harriet McDougal and her efforts to keep her husband’s work alive, even though I was drawing a blank on her name. I’m a widow trying to carry on my own husband’s work — mine wasn’t well known, but because I’m still trying to keep his writing alive as well as my own, I at least have a frame of reference for what she’s doing.

          It’s not easy to keep your husband’s dreams alive. It really isn’t. I respect her thoroughly for doing so.

          And yes, you’re absolutely right about her, _and_ about the idea of a Hugo series award. I’m all for that. WoT surely deserves an award for _exactly that_.

          But to think that Ann Leckie’s superlative work is going to get crowded out because of WoT — and it’s going to, because a beloved dead author is almost always going to win over a living one, no matter how good the works are being described (both are great in different ways, granted) — that bothers me.

          Last year, “Ancillary Justice” was by far the best novel. Surely the best military SF novel, though it wasn’t marketed as such . . . just an outstanding book in every way, something that was groundbreaking and relevant and probably even timeless in an odd way, something that very few writers can do (I, myself, cannot do that).

          Ann Leckie wins this award if WoT isn’t in that category. And it’s sad that she’s not likely to get it.

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  2. Ann Leckie’s debut was absolutely fantastic. I haven’t read Parasite yet, or Warbound, but I definitely feel that Ancillary Justice is the strongest single contender (pending reading aforementioned titles). The ideal scenario for me would be (as of now) Ancillary Justice tying with WoT. Plus, I’m a Charles Stross fanboy, so I really feel guilty for not rooting for Neptune’s Brood.

    I can’t even imagine trying to do what you or Harriet MacDougal do- I can barely handle my own work, and I’m not even trying to get published yet. It’s, well… pretty awesome.

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