You might think the world of literature and especially science fiction and fantasy, would be safe from the delusions of the alt-right. An area of writing dominated by white male authors for years, there’s no way they could possibly try to say that diversity is ruining SFF. Right?
In 2013, Larry Correia, an author of monster-hunting books, launched Sad Puppies – a group of male authors who felt that conservative and libertarian authors – like themselves – were being overlooked at the Hugo Awards.
Mr. Correia’s main goal was to game the Hugo Awards by getting his fans to sign up to be members and vote exclusively for his novel, Monster Hunter Legion. Correia believed that the Hugo Awards and the SFF community in general were ignoring his work and the work of like-minded writers – stories that are “unabashed pulp action that isn’t heavy handed message fic”. But hey, a 4.3/5 star rating out of 11 thousand reviews on Goodreads isn’t bad at all. It’s like, suspiciously good.
The Hugo Awards
Since 1953, the Hugo Awards have been the most prestigious award for science fiction and fantasy authors. The voting season begins in January – March, with members able to nominate and vote for their favourite SFF books written or translated in the past year.
The Hugo Awards make no distinction between traditionally published or self-published works. As long as the work was published in some way the year before, it’s eligible.
Hugo Award categories include Best Novel (40k+ words), Best Novella (17.5k+ words), Novelette (7500+ words), Short Story (under 7500 words) with a total of five nominees per each category. Members can also vote for “No Award” if they find all the nominees unworthy.
In 2016 and the three following years, the best novel award was won by N. K. Jemisen, a black woman. It’s worth pointing out that of the past winners of this award, only 12 of the 66 total winners for Best Novel were women (although a few of them won several times, bringing the totalwin count of women for the Best Novel Award up to 19 wins out of 66 total awards.
The first woman to win the award, the unbelievable Ursula K. Le Guin, didn’t win until 1970. She was later joined Connie Willis, C. J. Cherryh and J. K. Rowling.
Is It Alt-Right or Just A Bad Marketing Ploy?
Why did Larry Correia and his alt-right brethren feel so threatened? Literary SFF will usually win out over action-packed pulp novels. It’s just the nature of the genres. Literary tales, the ones that Larry referred to as “message-fic” are more likely to strike a chord that lingers with us longer than a nail-biting action scene. It doesn’t meant that the pulp novel isn’t good, though. That Goodreads rating, if based on genuine reviews, should be the perfect salve for a Hugo-induced wound.
Ultimately, Larry’s tactics didn’t work. He was 17 nominations short of placing in 2013, and the 2014 and 2015 attempts failed also. And in 2017, the Hugo Awards nomination system was changed to reduce the effects of bloc voting.