Interesting facts about the Hugo Awards that you probably didn’t know (or much care about):
Stephen King has never won a Hugo for fiction.
J.K. Rowling has not won a Hugo for fiction since 2001, and only two of the Harry Potter books were nominated for Best Novel.
George R.R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” novels are still awaiting a Hugo.
If you could name three better-selling SF/fantasy authors…well, you can’t. These people have literally hundreds of millions of fans. If the Hugos were a popularity contest, these folks would need to build extra wings on their houses to hold them all. So why do they have only one Best Novel Hugo between them? Probably because Hugos are voted on by members of the Worldcon, and 99.999% of those millions of fans aren’t Worldcon members.
About now, you’re asking yourself: Is there a point to all this?
And I use the word “sadly” advisedly, because for the third consecutive year, there has been published a slate of proposed Hugo nominees dubbed the “Sad Puppies” slate (hereinafter “SP”). SP started as an effort by self-proclaimed conservative authors to combat what they perceived to be a liberal bias in Hugo voting. (I am short-cutting a lot of background here. If you want, google “Sad Puppies.” I haven’t the space to supply a representative sample of links.) This year, the political thrust seems less apparent, a welcome development. Works should be nominated on their own merits, regardless of their authors’ personal choices. And presenting your recommendations for nominations, whether individually or as a group, no problem! Go for it! However, the slate still presents for me an occasion for head-shaking puzzlement.
You see, the Sad Puppies represent themselves as promoting “entirely deserving works, writers, and editors — all of whom would not otherwise find themselves on the Hugo ballot without some extra oomph received from beyond the rarefied, insular halls of 21st century Worldcon ‘fandom.'” They say, to those Worldcon members who are evidently disenfranchised, “this is YOUR chance to make sure YOUR voice is heard.”
Yeah, well, if you’re a member of the Worldcon, then your voice is already as loud as anyone’s. You have the same right to nominate and vote as anyone else.
The problem seems to be that there just aren’t as many of them voting for Hugos as the SP would like. Or else they aren’t voting the way the Sad Puppies want them to. They can’t understand why popular books don’t get awards. Well, ask Mr. King, or Mr. Martin, or Ms. Rowling. The best candidate isn’t always elected President, the best movie doesn’t always win the Oscar, and the best novel doesn’t always win the Hugo. You take your electorates as you find them.
The SP slate, though, isn’t satisfied with that. Members are on record soliciting people to buy Worldcon supporting memberships just so they can vote SP. Now I realize $40 isn’t a lot of money these days to some of us, but a lot of us have a better use for $40 than supporting a political agenda in what amounts to a small, private club. Put your money where your mouth is, SP; set your books out on the net for free and I’ll bet you’ll get a lot more fans, some of whom might even vote for the Hugos.
But hitting up your supporters to shell out $40 to help you win a trophy because otherwise they wouldn’t vote for you on their own? That’s sad, puppies.