On Monday, I received an e-mail from “Hugo Awards 2017” that said, “I’m very glad to be able to tell you that nominations for the 2017 Hugo Awards are now open! As a member of MAC2, you are eligible to nominate in the 17 Hugo ballot categories covering the best of the genre in the last year, and for the John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer.” And, so continues a five-year tradition of melodrama and degradation almost unparalleled in the annals of genre literature buffoonery. Yes, the pageantry and butt-hurt that is the puppy-era Hugo Awards is back again. Huzzah!
And I think we have reached a new stage in this evolution. Everyone realizes that rapprochement is impossible and now it’s just a matter of how much infamy can be heaped on your opponents. From the point of view of the puppies’ side (sides?), winning Hugos isn’t seriously considered as an objective. The folks at Tor have shown that their allies in the media can crank out a blitz of news pieces tarring the puppy side as deplorables and this will inspire enough people into battling the reprobates with no-award votes and assuring that some of the Tor books will win. And the puppies (mostly the rabid variety) will be able to slate a number of bizarre nominations (Space Raptor Butt Invaders!) to make the Hugos appear ridiculous and simultaneously put a monkey wrench in Tor’s system of rewarding lower level authors with unsuccessful Hugo nominations.
So, there is a sort of a stand-off. It’s like one of those Three Stooges routines where Moe, Larry and Curly are locked down into some kind of circle-slap-fest. They’re each almost exhausted but there’s no way to exit the contest. Now I say this in full realization that I’m Curly and, of course, I want to beat Moe so, let the eye poking proceed.
Actually, there’s kind of a comforting feel to the procedure. It must have been like this in the middle stages of the trench warfare during WWI. You had progressed past the belief that a charge would result in anything but mass casualties so you settled down to lobbing shells and poison gas canisters. You knew your script and hating the Hun was easy and kinda fun (except for the dysentery and shrapnel).
This year I’ll follow the venomous fun and nominate the stories I’ve enjoyed. But I can’t care very much if the cabal gets a few awful stories awarded. On the other hand I’m looking forward to the Dragons. Last year was surprising. Without the negativity I felt almost disoriented. An award ceremony without pomposity. It seemed like some guilty pleasure.
Anyway, I have to confess that after the vote in November it’s a little difficult to get upset about the Hugos. What I’m hoping for this year is a Trump themed campaign. Maybe a YouTube video entitled “Make the Hugos Great Again.” Possibly Milo Yiannopoulis could write a novella entitled “If You Were a Deplorable My Love.”
So there it is. The Hugos have become a kind of tradition where the event is almost completely antithetical to the intent. Sort of like watching Dick Clark’s Rocking New Years’ Eve after there’s no Dick Clark or Rock and Roll and you really can’t remember why you want to stay up on New Year’s Eve and watch Mariah Carey lip-synch her songs in a spandex sausage casing. So, the Hugos aren’t actually about picking the best sf&f stories anymore but instead a cautionary tale about what happens when the patients take over the asylum.
But in the words of George Constanza, “You wanna get nuts? Let’s get nuts!”