There was some uncontroversial good news at this year’s Hugo Awards ceremony: Guardians Of The Galaxy took home the prize for Best Dramatic Presentation in the Long Form category, and Orphan Black’s second-season finale took home the same prize for Short Form.
Of course, that was pretty much it for the agreeable portion of the night. As we previously reported, this year’s nominations process was hijacked by a campaign calling itself Sad Puppies, whose stated mission was to counteract what its members saw as the domination of the Hugos by elitist and insular academics and others who marginalize more mainstream and populist sci-fi. Unfortunately, this coincidentally (or not so coincidentally, depending on how generous you’re inclined to be) happened to focus almost wholly on women and writers of color who produced works dealing with gender, sexuality, and other topics seemingly too rarified for the down-home folks of the Sad Puppies campaign.
Therefore, due to some loopholes in the nominating process, the Sad Puppy campaign (and its more vitriolic, openly reactionary cohort, Rabid Puppies) swept the categories, overwhelmingly dominating the majority of the awards nominations. One of the Sad Puppies’ leaders, author Brad Torgerson, tells Wired the group just wants the Awards to be based on fairness and quality of work. Of course, he then characterizes his opponents as people who vote purely on the idea, “Ooh, we’re going to vote for this author because they’re not white,” which is something no one in the history of the Hugo Awards voting process has ever said. So it’s tough to have as much sympathy for his position as one might otherwise.
And it looks like those who voted this year feel similarly. Of the five categories in which only Puppy-approved works were nominated—Best Novella, Best Short Story, Best Related Work, and Best Editor in both Short and Long Form—voters instead chose “No Award.” Some writers, like Annie Bellet, actually turned down their nominations to distance themselves from the movement. Wired quotes a man who seems to sum up the views of many in attendance nicely: “I like the type of books the Puppies were promoting. I just don’t like the way they did it.”
George R.R. Martin, one of the few people who seems to get respect from all sides of this debate, threw a Hugo Losers Party again, a tradition he began in the ’70s but had allowed others to run until returning to it this year. He handed out special awards to those he felt were deserving, including some who Worldcon’s data shows would have been nominated had it not been for the Sad Puppies campaign. He also gave an award to Bellet, because Martin is a cool guy, and knows good work when he sees it, even if this is just the latest in an endless stream of things he’s doing besides finishing his next book.