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The Hugos and the Puppies, again

By / April 27, 2016 / no comments

Well, it seems that the invidious influence of the Sad and Rabid Puppies was rather more extensive than I thought. This analysis at File 770 shows that, in the Best Novel category, for instance, only The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin did not feature in either of the Puppies lists. Indeed, if you do not want to vote for anything tainted by the Puppies the choice is very restricted, as this post at Amazing Stories suggests.

But things are not quite as stark as that may suggest. The Puppies have clearly changed tactic this year. Many of the works on their slates were things that stood a good chance of being nominated anyway (for instance, it is no surprise that Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie is on the list, since both her previous novels were shortlisted; it is surprising that she was included on the Sad Puppies list since in previous years she was held up as an example of what they were supposedly voting against). When Alastair Reynolds found out that his novella Slow Bullets was on both the Sad and Rabid Puppies lists he asked for it to be removed. They refused, the novella made the shortlist; but it has been so widely praised that it is likely it would have made the list anyway. And when the editors of Strange Horizons found out they had been included on the Rabid Puppies slate, they immediately scheduled a month-long celebration of Our Queer Planet, to show their absolute disdain for everything that the Puppies stand for.

As former Hugo nominee Abigail Nussbaum has said on her blog, there are some reasonable shortlists regardless of the influence of the Puppies (we will exclude both the Short Story and the Related Work shortlists, since both of those are iredeemably execrable). Certainly, in a number of instances it is possible to vote for a Puppy supported nominee and still refute everything the Puppies stand for.

In previous years, the Puppies have at least been consistent in nominating work that represents white, masculine, homophobic, racist and old fashioned science fiction. Most of it, indeed practically all of it, has not been any good, but that is a common side effect when you restrict yourself to such a narrow range. This year there is nothing consistent about any of their lists. What this reveals is that the Puppies are not pursuing some sort of ideological purity; their sole interest is in gaming the system.

At this year’s worldcon, the measures introduced last year to counter the influence of the Puppies will be debated again and voted on. It is very likely they will pass. If they work as well as they are supposed to, this will be the last year we have to spend so long talking about the nonsense of the Sad and Rabid Puppies.


It seems like the Puppies fall out has begun already: Thomas Mays has withdrawn his story “The Commuter” from the Short Story ballot in protest about it being an all-Puppies list. His long and very good explanation is here.

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