Well… maybe not so obligatory. I’m going to skip over the summary and the bits that are probably obvious (e.g., that No Award will likely overwhelm my ballot) to address a few points along with my personal response. Going to go ahead and warn up-front that this is only my second year of organized fandom and my first year voting in the Hugos, which flavors my reaction; I’m probably not as upset as many. And I haven’t kept up with all the various posts and counter-posts, because that is boring. But I am ass-chapped enough for a post with headings.
This post assumes that you are familiar with the arguments of Brad Torgersen — who I had not heard of before the Melancholy Canine debacle, but who has convinced me very thoroughly that I ought not read any of his books; reasoning follows. Reasoning, that is, besides the whiny entitlement of manbabies throwing a shitfit at not seeing themselves and their own views reflected in the narrative every single time. The rest of us had to get over that as children.
Science Fiction = Political
The notion that science fiction, of all motherfucking genres, has ever been “apolitical” is an absurdity. It’s farce. It’s so inane that it’s not even worth dignifying the argument by addressing it except for arguments tangential to it, and in response to it, that are also bad. Politics is in science fiction’s foundation. Every near future, every dystopia, critiques the politics of the present; every far future, every space opera, creates a new political system.
And if you have so little imagination as to conceive of politics as a binary, I don’t trust you as a science fiction author. If you have so little familiarity with literature to conceive of it as a binary, I don’t trust you as a science fiction author. And if you’re so myopic that you see the politics of the United States as encompassing not only our world but the ones you invent, I sure as fuck-all don’t trust you as a science fiction author.
Because, y’know, your work sounds hella boring.
I actually don’t give a fuck about your personal politics, authors! Unless it’s actually violent (e.g. giving money to organizations founded on denying civil rights to gay people). Disagreeing with me about the role of government in people’s lives sounds like the start of an excellent conversation over coffee, not something that gets you on an imaginary Enemies List.
And yet the notion I’ve seen espoused by some folks in SF/F (mostly the liberal white dude contingent) that it’s “just politics” is false, too. Politics affects lives. One of the lies here, of which there are many (for instance, the notion that the dominant hegemonic viewpoint is “not political”), is that people can be fitted into neat political dichotomies; this is an artificial construct created by, and serving the interests of, the powerful. If you can pooh-pooh with “just politics,” you are likely served by the current system.
It’s Not Like There Aren’t Valid Critiques of SF/F’s “Left”
Here is mine. The TL;DR of it is that, in short fiction at least, fiction with characters from historically marginalized populations is far more likely to be celebrated if it involves our sad plights. The Forlorn Furballs are not entirely wrong about the prevalence of the “message story,” though I strongly suspect their version of “message story” doesn’t correspond closely with actual message stories (as opposed to “fiction that challenges my assumptions/doesn’t center my viewpoint”).
And yet whatever forces propel stories like this to greater popular attention than other stories — ones that may include marginalized characters, but don’t center on the drama around being marginalized — they are chaotic and disorganized forces. There is no conspiracy. Believe me, as someone who is constantly looking for stories with marginalized characters that don’t include the drama around being marginalized as a primary point of the conflict, it’s a continual frustration that I’m swimming upstream because they are so relatively unlikely to come onto my radar.
My own award consideration post only had a tiny handful of stories — maybe 20% — that had a remote chance of being nominated without SP interference. But they were all stories that I believed in, and I am happy to have shared them. I’m pleased that a few people read them and discussed them because of me, and no stupid stunt can take that away from me. I’m not alone in this, and that’s the material difference between the Heavyhearted Hounds and the rest of us.
Where I’m Going From Here
Well, I’m not giving up on the Hugo Awards, and I hope if anything this invites more, rather than less, participation in fandom. I am, however, spreading my focus around, and getting off my ass to finally join the Mythopoeic Society, which grants my favorite award; if I understand correctly the selection process is juried, but members of the society can nominate up to five works. (The Mythopoeic Awards have had gender parity in nominations roughly since their inception decades ago, and roughly 70% of its winners are authored by women. This society is also a descendant of sorts from the writing group of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, so once again: suck it, SP.)
Basically, the SP don’t even anger me, or sadden me, or frighten me. Rather, they give me contact embarrassment. The phrase we use in my meatspace social circles is douche chills. Like, anybody who thinks it all went wrong with friendly dragons — seriously? Why stop there? ALL SF/F SHOULD STILL BE WRITTEN AS EPIC POEMS. Novels were a nefarious plot by ebil SJW’s, y’all. Fuck Thomas Malory forever.
And, yanno? These shitwits can perhaps claim one award, but they cannot claim our future.