Virtue Signaler-in-Chief John Scalzi has urped some treacle onto the pages of the L.A. Times, which can only mean one thing: Hugo Award season is upon us again! As you may know, the Hugo Awards were once the most prestigious award in science fiction. Lately, however, they’ve become something of a dumpster fire thanks to the efforts of certain cliquish, holier-than-thou, obnoxious, reactionary fanatics (also known as CHORFs) who first tried to turn the Hugos into a showcase for boring, politically correct message fiction, and then, when that didn’t work out, burned down the awards by slate-voting “no award” in almost every category last year in order to punish efforts at slate voting by two groups of disgruntled scifi fans. These two groups are known as the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies, respectively.
If the World Science Fiction Society were run by reflective, self-aware individuals, it might have learned something from this mess. Unfortunately, it’s run by people like David Gerrold and John Scalzi. Scalzi, in characteristic milquetoast fashion, lays out an argument in the L.A. Times that… uh… actually, I’m not sure his essay has a point. (I mean other than the point of everything John Scalzi does, which is to promote John Scalzi.)
The main thing I got out of it was that Scalzi’s Social Justice Warrior pals were full of shit when they said things like this last year:
(“Gamergate” is a catchall term for Social Justice Warriors to refer to any group of people they dislike. In this case, she’s talking about the Sad/Rabid Puppies.)
Scalzi says in his essay:
Works the Puppy slates included that made the Hugo finalist list include the novel “Seveneves,” written by Neal Stephenson, a past Hugo best novel winner and multiple nominee; the graphic novel “The Sandman: Overture,” by Neil Gaiman, also a multiple Hugo winner; the novella “Penric’s Demon,” by Lois McMaster Bujold, who has won four best novel Hugos; and the film “The Martian,” a best picture Oscar nominee (and controversial best comedy Golden Globe winner). The Puppies will no doubt be happy to take credit for the appearance of these works and others on the finalist list. But, as with “Guardians of the Galaxy” last year, their endorsement probably doesn’t count for much in the grand scheme of things.
So evidently the Puppies are both ruining the Hugos and having no discernible effect on them. Got it. Scalzi, being intellectually vapid and desperate for approval, wants to have it both ways, as usual. He sides with the Social Justice Warriors screaming that the Puppies “hijacked” the awards and then claims that the Puppies picked a bunch of stuff that was going to win anyway. Whatever.
Note also Scalzi’s obsession with the Puppies in this essay, as opposed to–oh, I don’t know–whether the Hugo Awards are serving the interests of scifi fans. Scalzi spends so much time reassuring himself that those awful Puppies can’t hurt his precious Hugo Awards that he never stops to reflect on the Hugos themselves. Only in the very last sentence of this essay does Scalzi do any reflection on the the integrity of the awards or concern that the best works are being nominated and selected:
Then the Hugo finalist lists will entirely and again reflect what they are meant to: not marching orders, but the works and their creators that science fiction and fantasy fans themselves have enjoyed most in the last year.
And this sentence is merely a restatement of his tired thesis (Puppies = bad), which is nowhere supported by anything else in his essay. His focus in the essay is not the integrity of the awards, but making sure the wrong people don’t get any credit for how the awards go down. It’s this sort of reactionary, narcissistic thinking that led people like Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen to start Sad Puppies in the first place. Scalzi, stranded in the pit of his own navel, fails to see the irony.
His claim that “the Puppies are running in front of an existing parade and claiming to lead it” is similarly baffling. The Sad Puppies did lead a parade, John. It wasn’t your self-righteous blabbering on Twitter that brought record numbers of voters to the Hugos last year; it was the Puppies’ campaigns. But rather than capitalize on that movement, Scalzi and his CHORF pals coordinated to send a big “fuck you” to the voters. And now he wants to pretend that everything is going according to plan. As the infamous Vox Day has said, “Social Justice Warriors always project,” and Scalzi is projecting big time. He saw the excitement spurred by the Puppies last year, but he’s still pretending to lead the parade, unaware that the parade is made up of disgusted fans and disgruntled authors running away from the Hugos. Already an alternative award has been launched, centered around Dragon*Con, which dwarfs WorldCon in terms of fan participation. But Scalzi is too busy kicking Puppies to notice.
A real leader could have would have listened to the Puppies’ complaints and addressed the issues with the Hugos before any of this happened–or, at the very least, urged voters to vote based only on merit, leaving the slate voting issue for another day, rather than punish deserving authors and artists because the wrong people happened to like them. But there don’t seem to be any leaders associated with WorldCon.
Larry Correia once brilliantly remarked, in his attempt to explain the relationship between Sad Puppies (started by Correia and Brad Torgersen) and Rabid Puppies (a copycat movement started by Vox Day):
Look at it like this. I’m Churchill. Brad [Torgerson] is FDR. We wound up on the same side as Stalin.
This analogy isn’t flattering to Vox Day. For all his faults, though, Stalin was instrumental in defeating the Nazis (who, in this analogy, are the CHORFs). I don’t think Scalzi is a Nazi or even a full-on CHORF. He’s not dedicated enough for that. He’s just a guy who wants to appear reasonable and be liked by everybody. He wants to declare that everything is fine and hope the problem goes away. John Scalzi is science fiction’s Neville Chamberlain.