Welp, it happened again: The Rabid Puppies, the folks who want to destroy the Hugo Awards, nearly swept the nominations again this year. Not that anyone expected their defeat last year to discourage them. They seem to revel in the whole “If we can’t have what we want, at least we can ruin it for everyone else” thing, so of course they’re back for another go.
At least they avoided being completely tedious and changed their tactics a little this year. Instead of attacking the politicization of the Hugo Awards by nominate tepid right-wing polemics, they mixed things up and nominated some worthy works as well. I’m sure this is some devious mind game or clever stratagem, but it’s not really worth the effort to untangle it.
The Puppies are upset that their preferred flavor of sci-fi seldom wins Hugos. The reason they don’t win is obvious: In a popularity contest, the most popular work is going to win and the stuff the Puppies like is not the most popular. If 60% of the voters prefer one type of book, while 40% prefer another, will the less popular type win 40% of the awards? No, it will win none of the awards because 60% > 40% every time. Obvious, right? That sucks for the fans of the less popular style, but that’s the tyranny of math.
Last year, they gamed the nomination process to sweep the several categories, and the Hugo voters gamed the awards process to ensure that every Rabid Puppy nominee finished below “No Award.” This strikes me as just and the only possible way to preserve the integrity of the awards. The downside is that giving out “No Award” year after year isn’t a lot of fun.
I’ve read suggestions that this year’s troll-fest was a direct response to the Hugo voters’ failure to reward the Puppies to force the voters to give them trophies even if the voters didn’t actually believe they were deserved. No, really, that’s the argument (although it was phrased slightly differently.) The desire, then, is to receive an award, regardless of merit. The sort of thing that Puppy authors might call “affirmative action.”
Fortunately, I have a solution which I think every reasonable person will agree is wise and just: If what the Puppies really want is recognition, then simply reward every Puppy candidate with a “participant” award. You know, the kind they give to grade school children when you don’t want anyone to feel bad. This way, the Chuck Tingles and John C. Wrights of the world can have their recognition without having to try to abuse the nomination process. Then, simply discard any nominations which match the slate proposed by the Rabid Puppies. Problem solved…for a little while at least…maybe.