Hugo Award Nominations Spark Row over Diversity in Sci-Fi

Telegraph, April 6, 2015

The Hugo Awards have been at the centre of a furore after two campaigns successfully prevented female authors and authors of colour from being proportionally nominated. Some people are comparing the controversy to GamerGate, which in 2014 saw coordinated misogynist attacks aimed at people who spoke out about sexism in the gaming industry.

In 2014 the Hugo Awards celebrated the increasing diversity of sci-fi and fantasy writers, with younger writers, women and people of colour all picking up awards. At the time, pop culture website io9 commented that the awards heralded “a sea change”.

The nominations for this year’s awards were announced on Saturday and showed that two campaign groups, the Gamergate-affiliated Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies, have succeeded in getting a list of predominately male, white writers nominated.

The Hugo Awards are voted for by members of World Science Fiction Convention, who pay $40 (£26) for membership, which allows them to vote for nominations in 2016, too. For the third year running, Sad Puppies encouraged their followers to vote for their selection of nominees, making the greatest impact yet.

On February 1, Sad Puppies released their selection, urging readers: “If you agree with our slate below–and we suspect you might–this is YOUR chance to make sure YOUR voice is heard.”

Sad Puppies has been spearheaded by Brad R Torgersen and Larry Correia, two members of the sci-fi and fantasy community who have critised the “rarefied and insular” group of fans they believe were responsible for women and non-white authors winning Hugo Awards last year. Debut author Kameron Hurley was among the women picking up Hugos in the 2014 ceremony.

Torgersen accused the Hugos of being “an affirmative action award: giving Hugos because a writer or artist is (insert underrepresented minority or victim group here) or because a given work features (insert underrepresented minority or victim group here) characters.”

Theodore Beale, who goes under the pen-name of Vox Day and runs Rabid Puppies, has received Hugo Award nominations in two different Editing categories, following his own inclusion on the Rabid Puppies’ suggested slate. Beale is also lead editor of Castalia House, which has received nine Hugo Award nominations this year.

Members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America have called for Beale’s exclusion from the group after he has written against women’s suffrage and posted racist views towards black writer NK Jemisin.

Io9 has commented, “it’s a weird turn of events that, the year after Hurley’s double win, we see list of nominees that includes someone published by Patriarchy Press.” Patriarchy Press is a “joke” e-publisher created by Hugo-nominated author Michael Z Williamson.

However, voting members and authors have pointed out that there are some nominations on the list that were not championed by the Puppies, such as Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Sword and Listen, which was nominated in the Dramatic Presentation category despite an absence on either Puppies’ slate. Annie Bellet, whose short story Goodnight Stars has features a non-white female protagonist, has been nominated.

Authors nominated on the Puppies’ slates have been turning down the nominations. Dave Creek, author of novella The Jenregar and the Light,posted on Facebook: “being linked to Larry Correia makes me uncomfortable, and I wouldn’t want to be in the same room with Theodore Beale.”

David Sturridge, who turned down a nomination for Best Fan Writer’s Award, wrote a lengthy explanation as to why he disagreed with Torgersen’s views.

So many members have been saying they will select “No Vote” on all categories that awards organiser Kevin Standlee has written a blog post about the technicalities and impact of voting “No Vote”. A “No Vote” works similar to a boycott, in that if a successful “No Vote” is reached, no nominees will be awarded in that category that year.

Author and previous Hugo winner John Scalzi has also encouraged members to use the No Vote, saying that he will leave nominees off his final ballot or use No Award for nominees that don’t “merit being on the ballot”.

K Tempest Bradford, an African-American author and an activist for racial and gender equality within the science fiction community, commented that the Hugo nominations are :”a class issue, a race issue, a gender issue. In other words, it’s intersectional.”

As the nominations were announced, original Best Novel nominee Correia posted a statement explaining that he had declined the nomination to avoid being “a distraction from the overall mission.”

He added: “This is just one little battle in an ongoing culture war between artistic free expression and puritanical bullies who think they represent *real* fandom. In the long term I want writers to be free to write whatever they want without fear of social justice witch hunts, I want creators to not have to worry about silencing themselves to appease the perpetually outraged.”

Sci-fi author Philip Sandifer has also been championing the No Vote, saying that the awards have been “successfully hijacked by neofascists”.

The Hugo Awards winners will be announced on August 22 in a ceremony in Washington.


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  • Theodore Beale, who goes under the pen-name of Vox Day and runs Rabid Puppies, has received Hugo Award nominations in two different Editing categories, following his own inclusion on the Rabid Puppies’ suggested slate. Beale is also lead editor of Castalia House, which has received nine Hugo Award nominations this year.

    And he also has a great blog which should be part of your daily reads.

    • Urban Teacher

      Thanks for letting us know about his blog, which is: voxday dot blogspot dot com

    • connorhus

      The Male Gamer-gate push back was quite fun to follow. I am convinced that the young White Male Millennials are not as beaten down as some claim they are just taking their protests into different areas.

      • evilsandmich

        Larry Correia has a pretty good write-up on his site where he notes that Sad Puppies actually predates GG, but the actions of the SJW are the same. Even if someone is a ardent groupthinking leftist, they’ll be pigeon holed as a Nazi if they say that they think Larry Correia/Adam Baldwin is pretty OK. The problem (‘problem’) is that this all-or-nothing approach is making the SJWs increasingly isolated since Not very many people, even on the left, care to be as much of a puritan as they are.

      • Nonhumans

        I agree. The libtards tried their damnedest to stygmatise gamers as ignorant, intolerant, etc. with no success at all. All of gamerdom flew the middle-finger flag in the face of the malicious libtards, and made it very well known that Cultural Marxism is unwelcome, without effect, and has no place in the hardcore gaming world and never will.
        As a casual gamer myself (PC Master-Race), I was amused at the libtards attempts at their usual childish games. I was utterly certain that the libtards had no chance of accomplishing anything in that realm, and was correct.
        The casual insults thrown around during intense online gaming sessions pale the pettiness and weight of the tactics that the libtards have grown to be hated by elsewhere. Above that, though, my experiences with the online gaming community, especially after gamergate, is that of deploration and disdain for the cultural Marxists and the mainstream media.
        Who can blame them? Gamergate was the gaming communitys’ nullification of the libtards/msms usual tactics and deceptions in enforcing their narrative & agenda.

  • TruthBeTold

    K Tempest Bradford, an African-American author and an activist for racial and gender equality within the science fiction community, commented that the Hugo nominations are ”a class issue, a race issue, a gender issue. In other words, it’s intersectional.”

  • TruthBeTold

    K Tempest Bradford, an African-American author and an activist for racial and gender equality within the science fiction community, commented that the Hugo nominations are ”a class issue, a race issue, a gender issue. In other words, it’s intersectional.”

    I had to look that one up:

    Intersectionality (or intersectionalism) is the study of intersections between forms or systems of oppression, domination or discrimination

    Mr. Bradford is an AA activist for racial and gender equality. In other words, he recognizes that blacks and women aren’t very good SiFi writers.

    • Unperson

      I really wish everybody who uses the term Intersectionality would go stand in the middle of a busy intersection.

    • Alden

      Check out cultural competency
      People get PHDs in it. Intersection ality sounds like a venn graph

      Spell check red lines intersection ality

    • MikeofAges

      All of these thing are derived from and fall under the rubric of one single doctrine. Popular Frontism. Know that enemy. Attack that enemy. Then people will start to find new ways of dealing with their issues.

      My take as regards the sci-fi genre is that it was one of the first cultural places where diversity in its contemporary form appeared, though in sci-fi it was not really political. In the sci-fi of the immediate Postwar it became the fashion to consciously include characters who were ostentatiously Slavic, usually Polish. These character however were otherwise like the generally Nordic and Anglo-Celtic male characters who peopled these stories otherwise. Cultural differences, as opposed to phyletic differences, would come to the fore only later.

      Who knows who I am anyway, but right now I am finishing a potboiler novel about California Republican politics and the other California, inland rural California, right now. Although I consider it a potboiler, it is a good psychological story and a good specimen of literary naturalism. After that comes a sci-fi novel which will deal with race and cultural in a new way, a way I think many people will experience as wrenching. It will break new literary ground and maybe break cultural ground generally outside of the sci-fi genre. But certainly it will break literary ground, and give science fiction writers a new way of dealing with the issue of peoples and cultures outside of the framework of this ostentatious ensemble-cast diversity we now live with both in art and life.

  • Fed Up

    Who gives a rip what these idiots knocking the awards think? I read sci-fi for pleasure. NOT, emphatically not — to be lectured about political correctness! Usually I leave thru a book before buying. If it seems to build Blacks and other minorities up as “saviors of the Human race” — I don’t waste my money on it.

    • connorhus

      Honestly I have been doing the same and looking for the typical young White Heroine clue too these days. It seems finding the new Lara Croft saga promoting Young Women and minorities is what the publishers are looking for these days.

      • Publishers are an entity unto themselves, but what abut readers who pay their own money for the books?

        • LHathaway

          Don’t tell me publishing is as sad as cable on TV or reading the newspaper?. We pay them $60 a month, and they use that money to lie to more effectively lie to us.

      • Alden

        I read a lot of fiction mostly spy thriller and detectives
        Over the last 30 years the genres are just like TV just pro minority anti White male garbage

  • guest

    “Fans want awards for good writing, not “diversity.”

    An award for diversity alone is a meaningless award given to those whose only accomplishment was that they weren’t White.

    The more people have diversity enforced on them in everything, the more people get sick and tired of it. Diversity keeps failing because nobody wants it.

    • Anna Tree

      Instead of pushing diversity in every award on earth, let there be one diversity award if they have to be, and all the rest of awards be judged by merit, like it should be.
      Let’s do the same for universities, hospital, commercial flight etc: Div’Air can hire only diversity pilots and all the other companies can hire pilots by the normal standards.

  • Gunter Mabuse

    The best sci-fi story that I ever read was Ray Bradbury’s “Way up in the Middle of the Air.” I guess it technically wasn’t a short story–it was a chapter in “The Martian Chronicles.” Anyone who remembers the story will remember that all of the “democrats” got angry about the “republicans” oppressing them, and pitched their money together, built rockets, left Earth, and flew to Mars. A great ending. On a side note, I don’t remember a single Heinlein novel with a black protagonist. Nor one from Asimov. Will their Hugo awards be pulled because of the lack of the diversity in their novels?

    • sidpits

      Robert Heinlein said Rod,the protagonist in “Tunnel In The Sky” was black.Also,Podkayne in “Podkayne of Mars” reflects on her grandfather being Maori.”The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress” has an incident wherein Manuel O’Kelly Davis is arrested for miscegenation.There’s three that immediately come to mind.

      • voiceofstl

        Don’t forget the woman in “I will fear no evil”. I know that RAH said these charcters were non white but reading the books you would never know.

    • Michael Whalen

      Check out “Farnham’s Freehold”, by RAH

      • LHathaway

        I was going to say just that. And ‘Rico’ from Starship Troopers is from the Philippines.

    • Anglokraut

      I don’t remember the democrats leaving, but I do remember a chapter on the Negroes leaving the American south for Mars. I don’t know if they made it, though.

      • John Smith

        Property values there went down if they did.

        • BlueSonicStreak

          The Martians fled for the pricier neighbourhoods on Jupiter. It’s an arm and a leg for the atmosphere, but much roomier.

      • Gunter Mabuse

        Sorry, I’m from Mississippi. “Democrats” is a dog whistle, lol.

    • TruthBeTold

      I had to look that up:

      Back on Earth, in June of 2003, a group of white men are sitting on the porch of a hardware store. News has come that all the Negroes in the American South have banded together to emigrate to Mars. They have built their own rockets. The white men are shocked. The Negroes walk by in a stream of humanity on their way to the rocket. One of the men on the porch, Mr. Teece, tries to stop one of them, Belter, who owes him $50, but a crowd gathers and pays off the debt. Then, Teece’s employee at the store, Silly, rides up to leave, but Teece tries to make him stay because of his work contract. The other men, however, force Teece to let him go. Teece thinks of how all his nights of lynching are over, and he grabs his rifle and goes in a car to chase after the exodus. On the way, he notices bundles of their possessions left behind, and he has a wreck trying to run over the piles.

      Negros building their own space craft. A White man angry that he won’t be able to lynch blacks anymore. The White man wrecking his car in anger and frustration.

      Bradbury pulled out all the stops on that one.

      I believe Bradbury went further. In the end the people on Mars watch as the earth is destroyed by White men who launch an all out nuclear holocaust.

      • Alden

        Bradbury is greatly admired by the literati in Los Angeles
        That book must be why

      • Gunter Mabuse

        I read that story a long time ago. I forgot about old Teece. Still, the premise was pretty cool…

  • All awards today are politically motivated. That great peacemaker Obama has the Nobel Peace Prize. I’m sure the black and female sci-fi writers are as deserving of their awards as Obama is of his.

    Resist. Ignore critics and awards. You decide what is good and what is boiler plate garbage.

    • Rhialto

      Perhaps your president received the Nobel for keeping Bomber McKane & Gov. Pallin from the presidency. And the Nobellers believed that he prevented many wars and casualties from occurring.

      • bilderbuster

        Juan McAmnesty was only a ringer as was Mittens.

  • KevinPhillipsBong

    To me it seemed it was about 1995 (arbitrary to some degree but true in my experience). That was the year in which diversity in fiction became virtually compulsory. Before then there was much PC in newly published fiction but it seemed you might still find stories that were not anti-PC but at least a-PC. Of course that was also just a couple of years after my socio-political awakening, so my above assertion may just be a reflection of my changing views.

    • LHathaway

      I read a children’s story recent from a conservative author. The whole story was about how it’s OK to be gay and that it does not matter at all who your biological parents are. Your real parents are the one’s who raise you. I’m guessing that if men were awarded custody of children in 95% of contested cases. . the idea that it doesn’t matter at all who your biological parents. . is an idea that might meet with some resistance.

      • Tim

        I enraged a teacher at night school who thought the same way. He asked, “What`s the difference ?!?” And I told how my elderly dad had rolled his wheelchair off at the store and I was searching for him when a stranger walked up and said, “I just saw him at the Pepto-Bismal…” It pays to be a younger looking version of your real parents…

        • BlueSonicStreak

          This is completely true. I look almost exactly like my father AND I tended to run off a lot as a very wee one, which paid out in people matching us up when I was “lost” respective to my parents. (I’ve always had a good memory for landmarks, so never actually didn’t know where I was. My parents knowing where I was, different story.)

          But it’s also true that someone who loves and actually cares for you will do more for you than a dispenser of seed who abandons you.

  • Johann Wald

    Science fiction as a reader’s genre has really deteriorated over the years. I was a big fan when I was younger. By age 12, I’d read almost all of Edgar Rice Burroughs novels (re-released by Ace Books with cover art by Roy Krinkle), somewhere in the vicinity of 60 novels as well as H.G. Wells, Verne and a lot of Heinlein. I’m still a big reader and never watch TV but of the typically 1-2 books a week I complete, maybe .5% at most is what might be considered as science fiction. The library website reflects this trend too. They used to list Sci fi as a separate category under “new arrivals” but stopped doing that about 6 months ago. Scifi now is mostly just a cover now for poorly disguised political correctness promotion along with race mixing and miscegenation. The nice thing about getting all my books from the library is whenever I get even a whiff of any of that, I close the book then and there and just take it back.

    • It’s different, that’s certain. Heinlein is still one of my favorites, as are Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. One of Niven’s repeat characters was Louis Wu, a half-Chinese, the stepson of another usual character, Beowulf Schaeffer. That’s the only “diversity” I recall offhand.

      • Johann Wald

        I’ve read the whole “Ringworld” series more than a couple of times over the years. Niven and Pournelle are two of my all time favorites. Their “Mote” series is beyond exceptionable and what I look for in “real” science fiction. David Weber was one I left out of my original list. He has done some good work but I draw the line at any of his “Honor Harrington” books. Women “super warriors” are part of the PC infiltration (feminist propaganda) that has ruined a great class of fiction to my way of thinking. On the other hand, his “Empire of Man” series is excellent. I find myself just reading these books over and over and staying away from the newer stuff altogether. A break of 2 or 3 years is just long enough to make them enjoyable again.

    • Alden

      I read a lot if fiction and have noticed that almost everything published since about 1990 is just a standard template with PC filled in the blanks

      2 of the worst are Robert Parker and Michael Connolly Race traitor Grisham’s first book featured a 10 year old black girl raped by 2 White men He was a total unknown. Had it been a black in black or White on White crime I doubt if it would have been published.

  • David Drake doesn’t do that. My favorite character of his was Nonnus, in “Lord of the Isles”. He had been a seal-hunter and a mercenary, and he did what nobody else would do. A rather tragic figure.

    • Johann Wald

      Bernard Cornwell, Raymond Feist, L.E. Modestitt. Jr., Terry Goodkind, Rober Jordan, Peter F. Hamilton, Dave Duncan, Brandon Sanderson, Steve Lawhead, Conn Iggulden, Simon Scarrow, and Sam Barone are all authors I can recommend personally and very few of these books have any people of color nor the related garbage associated with weaseling one of them into an otherwise decent story.

      • Tarczan

        I am curious if you ever ran across any sci-fi that discussed a dystopian future where the low IQ’s predominate? It seems like such a natural topic. I’ve never encountered any, but I’m not a sci-fi reader.

        • Johann Wald

          Nothing I’ve read comes to mind but I’ve always wondered what the IQs were of the talking apes in the “Planet of the Apes” series that started decades ago with Charlton Heston starring.

  • TruthBeTold

    Most SciFi seems to portray multicultural dystopias of some form.

    Since conflict is drama and homogenous societies have more stability it’s almost an unconscious action by authors to envision multicultural societies in the future as hell on earth.

    I bet most of them don’t even realize the depth and truth about what they’re writing.

  • Alden

    I gather this gobbledygook means they give game awards on merit rather than affirmative action
    White men: you can run but you can’t hide the affirmative action commissars will hunt you down wherever you go and whatever you

  • vladdy1

    I have collections of the best sci-fi going back for years and have noticed that not just the characters, but the style has changed. Instead of the “everyman” meeting unusual circumstances (supernatural, time travel, dimensions, etc.), now many of the stories read more like fables….not sci-fi…anyone else noticed stylistic changes?

  • David Ashton

    Sci-fi can be the last refuge of subtext “racism”.

  • BlueSonicStreak

    Some people are comparing the controversy to GamerGate, which in 2014 saw coordinated misogynist attacks aimed at people who spoke out about sexism in the gaming industry.

    A bit off-topic, but that’s a slippery way to describe it.

    Many of the attacks on women during GamerGate were disgusting and vile (rape and death threats?) but let’s not pretend that people like Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian were doing anything of consequence to begin with. Receiving over-the-top praise for a mental illness simulator, and making stupid videos about how it’s “sexist” that Mario always rescues Princess Peach does not a bold crusader make.

    Hell, white men generally have better critiques of “sexism” in the gaming industry that these wretches. Google “The Creepy Cull of Female Protagonists.” Jim Sterling is far-left, but he still makes a better point about the industry’s approach to female characters (pointing out the publisher’s failure to even put a genuinely well-written and interesting female character on the box art for fear that men won’t buy the game) than anything I’ve seen from Sarkeesian.