By all accounts, this year’s Sad Puppy slate is set to sweep the Hugo Nominations, with the exception of Best Novel. We’ll find out tomorrow for sure, but it seems pretty likely. (Before we get started I should note, though it’s likely obvious, that my political leanings tie in closer to the opponents of the Sad Puppy slate. I will, however, try to minimize my jingoism here, and attempt to acknowledge and point out my biases wherever possible. This is editorial content, however, not journalistic, so keep that in mind.)
How exactly did they sweep the slates? Well, it’s a little weird, thanks to the way that Hugo Nominations and Hugo voting work, but put simply, no single work tends to get many nominations, since there are so many of them, and depending on the category, it can only take a few dozen nominations to lock something in. The Sad Puppy slate is the best organized Hugo voting bloc in existence. Actually, to be honest, they are the only formal voting bloc/ political party/ whatever you want to call it in existence, despite allegations of a monolithic SJW* voting bloc. You can find detailed explanations for how the voting system works readily enough, I’m not going to go into it in too great detail.
Cixin Liu’s The Three Body Problem, translated by Ken Liu, and published by Tor, is the first Chinese science fiction novel translated into English. It is wildly popular in China, and with good reason.
The Three Body Problem bears strong resemblance to American Golden Age science fiction, especially Arthur C. Clarke, but it is a refinement of it in a completely different direction than those taken by English speaking authors. It isn’t just because it’s the product of a wholly different culture and history (though that helps), it’s that it possesses a profound sense of cynicism and pessimism regarding the universe that is wholly alien to the mentality of Golden Age science fiction, and yet somehow makes the book refreshing and new, and massively magnifies the importance of hope and optimism.
No real surprises for me, except for the “Best Graphic Story” award. Don’t get me wrong, “Time” was fantastic, but I was really expecting Saga to take it. Hard SF in the vein of “Time” is pretty rare, though, and Randal Munroe deserves it for all the amazing work he put into it. (I know I never did the last two reviews for Ancillary Justice and Neptune’s Brood, but they were definitely the strongest single novels up for the awards. Definitely read them both.) Even though part of the reason Ancillary Justice did so well was its gimmick- it was a damn good gimmick, and not one that’s really ever been used much before. Plus, anyone who’s going to rag on gimmicks in SF/Fantasy should maybe be reading something else- find me a gimmickless novel in the genres and I’ll probably fall asleep reading it. Neptune’s Brood has the honor of having the most unique economic system I’ve encountered in hard SF, and is a great book on top of it.
Larry Correia’s Sad Puppy slate largely tanked, which whether you think is a good or bad thing, isn’t unexpected. (No comment from Correia or most of the Sad Puppy authors yet, we’ll leave out what Vox Day said, you can go check it out yourself if you’re interested in some homophobia, sexism, poor sportsmanship, and hate against horror fiction. I really think the whole thing would have gone much, much better if he hadn’t been included. Even Correia’s rather intense confrontational online behavior isn’t that big a deal in comparison, angry people are everywhere on the internet.) Dan Wells, despite being, in my opinion, the best of the Sad Puppy Authors on the ballot (Read his John Cleaver books if you haven’t yet, they’re fantastic. YA supernatural serial killer novels, really awesome), didn’t really stand a chance, there’s always going to be a strong stigma against tie-in fiction. I don’t think he was involved in the Sad Puppy slate beyond being nominated by it, though. (The Butcher of Khardov is part of the Warmachine universe.)