Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hugo's sad puppies.

 Image result for hugo award
(I have made a few edits to this post - the original post was written when I was very tired and fed-up with the world and the whole debate is very messy.) There is a lot of controversy surrounding the Hugo awards this year. For those of you who don’t know, the Hugos are science fiction awards for best novel, best short story, best movie etc. Books and movies are nominated for the Hugo by people who either attend that year’s Worldcon, or who pay a non-attending membership fee. Basically it’s a popular vote, so the books and films nominated are probably not the best that came out that year, just popular with members of Worldcon.

Over recent years a few writers have decided they are upset with what they deem to be leftist science fiction that is winning the Hugos, so they decided to try and influence the awards by getting people to nominate a selection of science fiction that suited their views of what science fiction should be. I personally prefer science fiction that explores themes and ideas, rather than just space adventures and shoot-em up thrillers. I read last year's winner Ancillary Justice, and although it probably fitted into the militaristic sub-genre, it explored many ideas and themes.   

The upset writers include Theodore Beale (who writes under the name of Vox Day), Brad R.Torgersen and Larry Correia. They called their nominations the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies.

The Sad/Rabid Puppies

The Rabid Puppies (Theodore Beale) nominated the following books for the Hugo for best novel: 

Monster Hunter Nemesis, by Larry Correia, Baen Books 
The Chaplain’s War, by Brad Torgersen, Baen Books 
Skin Game, by Jim Butcher, RDC 
Lines of Departure, by Marko Kloos, self published 
The Dark Between the Stars, Kevin J. Anderson, Tor Books.

(Since writing this post Marko Kloos has withdrawn his book, and it has been replaced by The Three Body Problem, Cixin Liu, Ken Liu translator, Tor Books.)

The first two are written by the Rabid Puppies and Sad Puppies conveners. 

I had a look at Larry Correia’s site and his bio shows a picture of guy with a great big gun, and I stopped reading his bio after he had fought a gang, three of whom he injured and the only way they stopped him was with a gun. His books sound like boy’s own adventures – probably with a lot of gun play. Not my type of book.

The Sad Puppies (Brad R Torgersen) nominated the same books except Torgensen didn’t include his own book, instead he listed Trials by Fire, by Charles E. Gannon, Baen books. Interesting that no female authors made their lists. 

Larry Correia endorses Torgersen's list as the torch bearer for the Sad Puppies. 

The Hugo Award

The Hugo nominees for best novel were recently announced. 

Ancillary Sword, by Ann Leckie, Orbit 
The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison, Tor Books 
Skin Game, by John Butcher, RDC 
Lines of Departure, by Marko Kloos, self published 
The Dark Between the Stars, Kevin J. Anderson, Tor Books.

So three of the Sad/Rabid puppies books made the list. I find it amusing that both of the puppies conveners novels did not make the list and were replaced by two female nominees.

According to Larry Correria - "I just want to make a comment about why I’m personally not on the list. I was contacted by the administrators on 3/20/15 and informed that Monster Hunter Nemesis was a finalist for best novel. I emailed them back the same day and turned it down. Whoever was next in line was then moved up to be a finalist in my place. I refused the nomination for one simple reason. The Sad Puppies campaign isn’t about any one person. I felt that ultimately my presence would be a distraction from the overall mission."

The question remains, are the Skin Game, Lines of Departure, The Dark Between the Stars and Monster Hunter Nemesis worthy nominees? The nominees for the Nebula and Arthur C.Clarke awards, two other big awards for science fiction, might hold some clues.

The Nebula Award

The nominees for the Nebula award for the best science fiction or fantasy novel are: 

Ancillary Sword, by Ann Leckie, Orbit 
The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison, Tor Books 
Trials by Fire, by Charles E. Gannon, Baen books 
The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu, Tor 
Coming Home, Jack McDevitt, Ace 
Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer, FSG Originals.

So one of the puppies made the Nebula list, Trials By Fire.

The Arthur C. Clarke Award

The Arthur C. Clarke Awards nominations for best science fiction award were: 

The Girl With All the Gifts, M.R. Carey, Orbit 
The Book of Strange New Things, Michel Faber. Canongate 
Europe In Autumn, Dave Hutchinson, Solaris 
Memory of Water, Emmi Itaranta, HarperVoyager 
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, Claire North, Orbit 
Station Eleven, Emily St John Mandel, Picador.

The Arthur C. Clarke nominees seem to inhabit a different book universe to the other two awards and the puppies.

The Goodreads People’s Choice


The Goodreads People’s Choice for favourite science fiction novel is not an award, just a popular vote on twenty books nominated on the basis of reviews they receive on Amazon. The only sad puppy in the Goodreads list was Lines of Departure, which came in at number 20. 

Lines of Departure also made the Hugos list. So it looks like the other two Sad/Rabib puppy nominees that made the the Hugo list might not be worthy of their positions on the ballad. And the Rabib puppies nominee of Trial of Fire, which did not make the Hugos list, but made the Nebula list, might have been a worthy nominee.

Worth noting is that Ancillary Sword, by Ann Leckie, and The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison have been nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula awards.

Overall, since finding out that the Hugos are based on a popular vote, I don’t place a great deal of value in them. As mentioned above, I did buy Ancillary Justice, but it won all three of the awards and was number 20 on the Goodreads poll in 2013. Ancillary Justice was very good, so I will probably buy the sequel. As for the rest, I have previously mentioned in a post about the Goodreads awards that The Fifteen Lives of Harry August sounds interesting.


Beach Bum said...

I've got to admit on occasion I enjoy a well-written military sci-fi book as long as it doesn't start declaring a political position, which I mean right-wing, proto-fascist crap.

Because of that I rarely consider anything from Baen anymore.

Graham Clements said...

The novel I mentioned I had read in the post, Ancillary Justice, would probably be classified as military sci-fi, but unlike the usual military science fiction of being just a battle of good versus evil Ancillary Justice has much more. For starters the main character is an AI, who used to be linked to thousands of other AI's but has been cut loose. The AI lacks all emotions except a sense of justice which it feels compelled to follow through on. Also the entity that controlled all the AI's has split into many cloned versions who are secretly at war with each other. The added ingredient is that the AI, although in a female body, is sexless and because the sex of humans had never mattered to it, it finds it hard to distinguish between male and female humans and it finds to hard to assume the identity of a female human so it can pursue its mission of justice. That last part is what the Sad Puppies probably have an issue with. And the fact that the author is female. But the novel is full of ideas and has an original central character.

Anthony J. Langford said...

I must confess to being completely ignorant of all of these books. Alas I don't read much sci fi these days. In fact, if it weren't for your recommendations, I wouldn't have read any over the past few years. Actually I don't get much time to read anything at all, something that I'm sure will change when family/work demands are not as big.

As usual though, your posts are very well researched and laid out.

Graham Clements said...

I haven't been reading much either. Something I am trying to remedy - see next post. Of all the books listed and nominated, I will probably, as stated in the post, only read one of them, Ancillary Sword, the sequel to Ancillary Justice. I might end up reading The First 15 Lives Of Harry August, and one that is not mentioned in the post, but topped the Goodreads award by a huge margin, The Martian, by Andy Weir.