Saturday, April 7, 2018

SF Awards That Do Matter, SF Awards That Don't Matter, and Why

First off, let me begin by stating what this post is not: This post is in no way meant to denigrate females, minorities, LBGT+ individuals or any damn other person who thinks they have an excuse to whine. I mean that. I want to see the fields of Science Fiction and Fantasy expand. I want to see people of all races, colors, creeds and all of that other crap come together over a really awesome hobby and have more fun than they know how to handle. Seriously. I review books, movies and comics. If you produce any of the above and would like to see your work reviewed here then please see the top right corner of the page and submit your work for review.

Oh, what's that? Right. You're reading this on your phone and can't see what I'm talking about because blogger shrinks things to make it all fit on your phone. Gotcha. That happens to me too.  It's annoying as all get out. Well, here's what it says:

All submissions must be in .epub, .mobi or .pdf format. Only novella length or better works will be reviewed. All entries must be in the science fiction or fantasy genres. All submissions should be formatted in exactly the way they will be (or have been) released. Any exceptions to any of these rules will be deleted without reading. Please send any and all materials to

That's simple. It's easy. And I won't delete your work without reading it if you follow those guidelines. Nor will I ask you what your race/orientation/age/whatever else you think matters. I'm looking for good stories. That's all. If your story is good, you will get a good review. If it is bad, you will get a bad review. It's that simple. That's the way it should be. If you want equality, well, that's what it looks like. Same rights, same rules, same standards.

Unfortunately, it seems that neither the Hugos nor the Nebulas get this. Both seem to think that their awards should be limited to members of a small slice of the population. Both would have you believe that they're trying to be more inclusive, but they're lying. You don't become inclusive by excluding large segements of the population. That's not how it works. If you want to make an award "inclusive" then by all means allow PoCs and women and whoever compete. That's the way it's supposed to work. But handing someone an award simply because they're a female PoC (I'm looking at you Nebulas) is not "inclusion" it's EXclusion. Seriously. No, it's not a response to historical injustices. It is an injustice. Really.

Look, I know that the Nebula Award was limited to white writers for a long time. I'm aware that no woman won a Nebula the first three years they were given out. (The first female winners were Anne McCaffrey in 1968 for her novella "Dragonrider" and Kate Wilhelm for her short story "The Planner") And yes, I fully acknowledge that was sick, twisted and wrong. Yes, I'll use the word racist (and this was a racist practice) although that word is so overused that it no longer has meaning. In this case, it's actually true. Here's the thing Nebulas: You're acting the same way.

Yes, you read that right. There is no difference between excluding minorities and excluding white people. None whatsoever. I mean, you can make whatever excuses you want, but that's what it boils down to. The worst part about limiting the field (and that's what you've done) isn't even that you're leaving out talented people, although that's bad enough. No, the truth is even worse.

You're wronging your winners. When you deliberately excluded anyone who was not a female PoC in 2015 what you were in fact stating is that they couldn't write well enough to win an award if they had to compete with other demographics. Seriously. I'll be honest in stating that I don't know what percentage of SF/F authors are Female PoCs but I'm guessing it's pretty small. How many deserving authors who were not Female PoCs got screwed out of their chance to win an award because of their race and/or gender? I'm guessing it happened. What that means is that we have no  way of knowing if those women actually deserved their award or not. Seriously. They didn't win that award for writing the best story in their category that year. They won their Nebulas for having dark skin and a vagina. Maybe their stories would have been good enough to win in a year with the full field competing, but maybe not.We'll never know. Oh, and when you've limited the field that far, it's not really a victory for "diversity" either. There's no "diversity" in a group of all PoC women. That's one demographic, not many.

Once you've destroyed an entire year's worth of your own awards you no longer matter. Sorry Nebulas, but you're irrelevant now. It's sad too, because when I first started shoveling snow for cash (no, my parents didn't pay me for that, but my dad let me borrow the snow shovel and go around the neighborhood) and later started making money with my first job in June of 1991 (I was fourteen) I used to look for books with a Nebula logo on them because it meant that I was getting a good book. Now publishers don't even bother putting a logo on the cover because the logo doesn't boost sales. Why? Because winning a Nebula no longer means that you've written a good book.

Okay, sidebar: Yes, there is a long history of women in SF/F. No, there was no need for a work entitled Women Destroy Science Fiction because women have been in the field for decades. For those that missed it, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was the first ever Science Fiction novel published in English and probably first ever period. Happy anniversary, ladies. Women have been making contributions in the field of Science Fiction since 1818 at the latest. That's two hundred years of inclusion. Anyone telling you otherwise is lying. Anyone publishing a collection claiming that they're "destroying" SF is either lying or an idiot. I'm guessing idiot since most of the people who push that kind of drek don't bother to learn the history. They just assume. But honestly, that's a different subject for a different blog. For further reference, see Kristine Katheryn Rusch's Women of Future's Past: Classic Stories.

Now, the Hugos. The Hugos lied to us for decades. They told us that they were the peoples awards. The were "voted on by the fans." Ummm...No. They're the awards of a cabal of self-interested individuals who give each other awards for having the correct political opinions. When Larry Correia started the Sad Puppies movement he remarked on this. He talked about the political bias of the voters because of the way he was treated at the Hugo Award Banquet as a nominee for the John W. Campbell Award. (For those who may not be aware, the Campbell Award is for Best New Author and is given out at the Hugo Awards Banquet.) He wanted to expose the awards for what they were. He succeeded.

Once "the Peoples' Awards" found out the wrong people were voting, they lost their minds. Larry Correia urged people to nominate his novel, Monster Hunter Legion. His goal was to make the establishment freak out because an author who did not push the correct political agenda had been nominated. It didn't attract much attention. The next year, however, it got ugly.

Correia put his own book, Warbound up for nomination, along with some other books that he had enjoyed.  The Hugo voters lost their minds. Controversy flared. How dare this upstart author who had owned a gun store and supported the incorrect political causes encourage the great unwashed to vote in their awards? This guy was a *spit* conservative. He didn't belong here.

Then it got worse. The next year, the Puppies put together a strong campaign and dominated. Once again, the voters and officials lost went crazy. They decided to trash their own awards. The Pups had put forth more votes in the nominations than had ever been cast in one year in the history of the award. There were record numbers of memberships purchased. (A membership in WorldCon is required to vote. There is a cheaper membership offered for those who wish to vote but will not be attending the convention itself.) The members of the convention voted for no award to be given in most categories rather than allow someone who was nominated by people with the wrong politics to win.

And there you have it. Another award that practices inclusion by exclusion.  Not only was the Hugo not the award of the people as they claimed to be they decided that they'd rather lock people out because they didn't conform to an archetype.Not only that, they risked destroying their own awards ( If the No Award result is elected in two straight years in a single category, the category is scrapped. They didn't know what would happen the following year. If the Pups had dominated the nominations again they could have ended up with no Best Novel award.) in order to keep people they didn't like off of the ballot.

 Oh, and after decades of claiming to be the award of the fans, they exposed themselves as liars. The Hugo Award is an award given by the elites in the field to the people they like on a personal level. If you eat at the right table at the banquet and support the right causes you can win the award. It's not a Science Fiction award. It's a circle of people awarding their own for loyalty. It is not given for producing a good story and therefore has no relevance to the general public. Seriously, these awards are beneath notice and I'd like to thank Larry Correia, Brad Torgersen and Kate Paulk for their work in pointing that out.

It sucks. An award that was once prestigious has turned into a shadow of its former self. I used to search for Hugo Award winners on those same trips to the bookstore when I was looking for Nebula winners. Now I'd be more likely to leave a book on the shelf if I knew it were a Hugo winner than I would be to buy it. It's not an SF/F award anymore. It's a political award.

The only award that  matters in a modern sense is the Dragon Award. Why? Because it is truly an award given by the people. Don't get me wrong. A black transwoman lesbian in a wheelchair could very well win the award, but so could a straight white male, or a gay Arabic male, or a genderfluid Asian person, or well.... you get the idea. The catch is that they would have to write a good story, invent a good game, be in a good movie, etc. to win the award. You're not going to get the votes just because of your demographic

There is no requirement to vote except an email address and you can get one of those for free. I would know. I have multiple email addresses and I don't pay for any of them. Most public libraries have computers you can use for free as well. That's if you don't have/want to use a smart phone to vote/nominate. (I personally don't like to use my phone. I've got fat fingers and the fields are too small and close together.Then again, I have a desktop computer.) Having said that, if you're the person nominating and you want to see your favorite genderqueer Native American then by all means nominate them! If you want to see them on the list of finalists though, you'd better get some friends to nominate along with you. If they're fans though, it shouldn't be hard to do. It won't cost them anything either and they should be happy to support the person/project they're a fan of.

This is an award that hasn't been spoiled by politics. It doesn't go to the same small clique of content producers every year. It goes to whoever the fans want it to go to. This really is the Peoples' Award.  Anyone can win it if they can attract a big enough following. Anyone can get their favorite content producer nominated if they can organize a movement to do so. Seriously. Don't believe me? The nomination form is here. Go nominate some good stuff. If you want to nominate in every category, do so. If you don't want to nominate books and nothing else do that. You don't have to nominate in every category. I personally haven't played any new SF/F board games so I can promise you I won't be voting on that, but I will be voting in some other categories. I may share my slate, I may not. I'll nominate what I like. You nominate what you like. That's how it works.

Nominations are open until July 20, 2018. Not long after that, finalists will be named and the award will be given out at DragonCon which, according to the World's Most Awesome Girlfriend (TM), takes place at the end of August on the first weekend of college football season. I uhh... don't have the date handy, it's five thirty in the morning and I want to get this written and go to bed. I'm sure the dates are easy to google, but I'm just not feeling up to it.

So, just to quickly recap, if you freeze people out of your award for political or racial reasons (even if those people are white) you suck, you're irrelevant and you're not worth acknowledging. This includes both the Hugos and Nebulas, specifically. An award that accepts all (and all includes minorities, women and liberals but it also includes men, whites and conservatives) is worth voting for and getting excited about. Now go forth and vote! Err...Nominate now, vote later. Let's enjoy this thing together with everyone.

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