Apr 082015

The Hugo Awards have, rather unusually, gotten themselves into the news recently. I’ve not paid much attention to the issue, but what *seems* to have happened is a leftward lurch in the nominations and awards over the last few years, with conservative-leaning authors being excluded; and so this year there have been efforts by right-leaning groups to game the system. I dunno. I don’t think I’ve ever paid ten seconds attention to the Hugo awards… or indeed *any* awards. The reason is simple: I ain’t winnin’… I ain’t carin’.

But the Hugo are all over the blogosphere these days, so what the hell, I paid ten seconds worth of attention. Now, it should come as little surprise that my idea of Good Science Fiction is the likes of Heinlein, Murray Leinster, Poul Anderson, Brin, Benford, Allen Steele, Niven & Pournelle, Piper, L. Neil Smith. Entertaining yarns with good dialogue, characters, plot and at least a passing knowledge of basic science. I’m nearly done with “Leviathan Wakes,” and it certainly has my seal of approval. All of these can, and often do, cover social issues of their day, as well as the issues raised by the science and tech suggested. What the current crop of Hugo fighting seems to be about is that recent nominations have apparently leaned hard in the direction of “social justice issue that the author uses as a club.” Basically, Ayn Rand in reverse.

Well, one title that was nominated for a Hugo in 2014 and won a Nebula in 2013, and has been mentioned by several commenters regarding *why* the new “reactionary” force popped up to take over the Hugos,  is the short piece “If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love” by Rachel Swirsky. You can read the whole thing HERE; it’s not very long.

I had but one reaction to reading this apparently really popular award-winning science fiction story:

thats sad

Not my cup of tea. And that’s fine, lots of people like lots of stuff that I don’t. But not only is this “story” a Social Justice Bludgeon of the most blatant kind… I have trouble seeing it as a *story,* much less a *science* *fiction* story.

“Dinosaur” lost in 2014 to “The Water That Falls On You From Nowhere” by John Chu.  Here’s the synopsis via Wiki:

Some weeks prior to the beginning of the story, an unexplained phenomenon begins worldwide: whenever a person lies, water falls on that person from nowhere. Consequently, Matt decides that the time is right to not only come out to his traditional Chinese family, but to introduce them to his partner.

You can read it HERE. I defy you to point out how it’s *science* *fiction.* The basic premise is that if you tell a lie, water magically appears and rains on you, even indoors; the more untrue the lie, the greater the downpour to the point where it can drown you if you try to breathe. This is *magic,* not SF. But even so… if such a thing were to occur, the better story to tell would not revolve around a couple random nobodies and their romantical issues… it’s how the California drought was resolved *overnight.* How politicians can’t give a speech on TV anymore. How society more or less collapses in panic over the sudden appearance of undeniable supernatural miracles. How jihadis realize that they don’t need to sneak bombs and blades onboard jetliners when they can simply tell a lie or two and add a few dozen metric tons per person to the mass of the craft and cause it to crash. The tens of thousands who freeze to death in the winter because they were standing too close to someone else and got soaked. How the ISS *exploded* when the additional volume of water caused the pressure to spike within the hab modules. How NASA comes to make use of that, and how the Moon and Mars are made into warm and livable terraformed worlds. How nuclear powered spacecraft can ply the spacelanes with ease, requiring no great propellant tanks, just a few crewmen willing to tell the occasional whopper. But no.

I guess I can kinda see how people who take sci-fi awards seriously could get kinda jumpy about these things.

 Posted by at 7:00 pm
  • James

    I am one of those people who often never have heard of the people that win the hugo’s but who read dozens if not hundreds of books a year.

    Reading the things people from the old school of its ours and no one else’s its both sad and hilarious to see the reactions.

    The funny part is the guy they all hated and said was using this for his own benefit took his name out of the running. He has never cared. Just that people that are judged of the wrong belief were being denied when they shouldn’t.

    The really great thing is that people of the more leftist group are still getting in its just this time its people who the old group didn’t allow.

    Basically freedom of choice.

  • Adam

    That whole story about water falling on you from nowhere sounds ridiculous beyond belief. It starts with the premise of water raining on you whenever you lie and then some guy decides to come out that he’s gay? That sounds about as nonsensical as some teen drama story about high school related issues occurring while the planet is being subjected to a gamma ray burst!

    • Keith Hearn

      Like, Omygawd! This is going to give me sooooo many freckles. I’ll just die!

  • Rick

    gotta love a story where there’s some sort of morality and everything is shoehorned around it. A story with an idea, that evolves or makes sense, is more entertaining than one where the author has a fixed “message” and everything else is slapped on to try to justify it.

    If I want that sort of thing there’s plenty of bargain bin creationist stories or the whole bible/koran thing.

  • Garrai

    Well, scifi was always considered a ghetto in literature, nothing a respectable writer would bother with. Can you blame a few fancy lads if they decide to move in to the neighborhood, plant some flowers, change the curtains? This of course attracts the oh-so-deep socials, lacking the vocabulary to understand old-school writers, they naturally prefer the emo-themed crap that passes as science fiction these days.

    • James

      It was considered a Ghetto by the kind of pseudo-intellectual snobs and thought police that have dominated the Hugo awards for the last few years and have been tying to have the same control over videogames, movies, music and television so they can eliminate so-called “problematic” themes and thoughts…

      As for respectable writers:

      H.P.Lovecraft (who those same scumbags are now trying to attack for holding racist views – views of a guy who lived in 1920’s America)
      Isaac Asimov
      Arthur C. Clarke
      Jule Verne
      H.G. Wells
      Stephen King

      There are plenty of very respectable and talented authors in Sci-Fi, their poloitical views should not be relevant on the merits of their work unless they try and shoe-horn it in (like what the last few years Hugo awards winners did)

  • Madoc

    Scott & all,

    You’re missing the point.

    A couple years back Larry Correia – he, of “Monster Hunter” fame – got sick and tired of how the Hugos were being controlled by a vehement, elitist, and ideologically motivated clique. If they’d been honest about their being a vehement, elitist, and ideologically motivated clique then that would’ve been one thing. But, they weren’t. When Larry pointed this out he got attacked for lying – among other things.

    The next year someone started the “Sad Puppies” campaign to shed more light on the hypocrisy of those controlling the Hugos. And the “Social Justice Warrior” types went batshit insane over it. They frothed and spewed and demonstrated just how hateful and ideologically motivated they are.

    This year, there was a more coordinated and effective effort to get more folks voting for a different slate of science fiction stories than in previous years. These stories were authored by a much wider range of writers than the previous Hugo slates. Many of them however, shared a common trait – they were NOT the sort of people the oh-so-politically correct elitest and ideologically motivated Hugo controlling crowd would even suffer being in the same room with – let alone gracing with so much as a Hugo nomination.

    Well, the “Sad Puppies” effort succeeded this year beyond their wildest imaginations with many of the Hugo categories being completely filled by works suggested by the Sad Puppies. For this, the Social Justice Warrior types have gone ballistic. They’ve been spewing and sputtering non-stop since the nominations were announced.

    First they declared that the Sad Puppies writers were all just a bunch of racist, conservative (repeating themselves in that just to be sure) and white authors. Then it was learned that there were quite a few women in the Sad Puppies list, a couple of gays, several people of color, several liberals, and so on and so on. So the SJW’s cries of racism and conservatism fell through.

    Then they declared that this whole effort was orchestrated by Larry Correia just so he could get himself a Hugo. But that fell through when it was pointed out that Larry has long declared that he has no interest in gaining that award and announced that he’d refuse the nomination to start with.

    Then they declared that this was a paid effort on behalf of Larry and Brad Torgensen – and others. But that fell through as equally absurd.

    Now no few of the “true fans” are declaring that simply because the Sad Puppies got so many of their suggestions nominated that they would vote “No Award” in each category just to deny them any victory. This, to keep the “Hugos pure of right wing influence.”

    The most amusing thing about all of this is that Larry started this by declaring the Hugos as controlled by a clique of hateful, close minded ideologically motivated bigots.

    And the folks who had previously controlled the Hugos have now gone out of their way to demonstrate just how cliquish they are, just how hateful they are, just how close minded they are, just how ideologically motivated they are, and just how bigoted they are. They have not failed to fail. And thus demonstrated the points raised by Larry, Brad and the Sad Puppies more effectively then they could have themselves.

    It’s an ugly spectacle watching the smug insiders get their comeuppance but, as they’ve behaved in so vile and sordid a fashion for so long, it’s a well deserved comeuppance.

    • Scottlowther

      I honestly have very little idea about the history of all this. But George R. R. Martin – whose politics I am utterly unaware of – seems to think that a leftist bent for the nomination process seems overblown:

      I’ve not read the vast bulk of Hugo nominees and winners. The two I linked two unimpressed the hell out of me, but I’ve no idea about the rest.

      • Unpaid Gawker Intern

        “But George R. R. Martin – whose politics I am utterly unaware of ”

        George R. R. Martin, whose books I love, is the same guy who attributed the gap between the SoIaF books by the fact that he was so dispirited when Bush was re-elected that it resulted in a years-long writing block for him

        This should tell you all you need to know about his personal politics.

        Please read Larry’s reply to Martin’s arguments to understand why he’s underplaying the situation.


        • Peter Houlihan

          Or at least read part of Larry’s reply because it’s longer than some hugo award winners :p

          • William Hatfield

            I would be laughing really, really hard at this – if it wasn’t so true.

      • Peter Houlihan

        Thanks for linking to the dinosaur story, I think that sums up the issue for me.

    • Lord Darque

      The brilliant part about all this is that those in control of the Hugos have no choice but to make rules that keep anybody from being able to game the awards.


      Imagine having to make the Rules that will take away your own power? Wouldn’t that be just something? No wonder they are screaming so loud and are so ready to nuke everything.

      Rules changes have to be confirmed at two WorldCon business meetings. So it will be awhile before that can play out unless calmer heads prevail. Like that could happen.

  • fierytrainwreck

    After reading that short story, I understand why Sad Puppies exists. That was beyond. ham-fisted, beyond transparent, and beyond painful.

  • Herp McDerp

    We brought this on ourselves. The Hugo is now awarded for science fiction and fantasy, including pretentious crap in the “magical realism” genre.

    Recently I was discussing “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” with a college-age friend. She just loves it because of the feels. I pointed out that she probably gets those feels because it confirms her prejudices — if the viewpoint character had been fantasizing about her fiance transforming into a T. rex because he had been mugged by a bunch of Bloods or Crips instead of being beaten by pool-cue-wielding rednecks, would she still have loved it? (Have there been any acts of unprovoked violence by pool-cue-wielding rednecks in the past decade or two?) I am now officially a hateful, evil racisssst.

    “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” could have been turned into a science fiction story fairly easily by replacing the magical water (etc.) with the aftermath of a genetically engineered virus that swept through the population, with the result that people’s faces now turn bright purple whenever they knowingly tell a lie. It still wouldn’t have been good science fiction, because the story doesn’t really reflect the vast changes in society that would result from ubiquitous lie detection, but it wouldn’t have been absurdly and pointlessly magical. Heck, you could tell the same story without any sort of lie detection other than people calling bullshit on the liars, and it would have been perfectly at home in any mainstream campus literary magazine. (They just loves them some sexually transgressive angst.) But was it Hugo-quality fantasy? Feh …

  • Rick

    I would like to steal the term “Social Justice Bludgeon”.

    • Scottlowther

      Go ahead. I’m just saddened that “gormless chickenshittery” never caught on.