This year’s big Hugo controversy

A couple months ago, someone on a mailing list asked for a summary of this year's Hugo controversy. (There are a couple of controversies around this year's Hugos, but this is the biggest.) I went looking for a quick summary to point to, but all the ones I could find started with a quick summary and then went on into detailed discussions of, and arguments about, what should be done; also about the merits of individual works on the ballots.

So I put together a quick summary without commentary. I considered posting it publicly at the time, but was a little uncomfortable about doing so; but Mary Anne recently indirectly suggested that there are probably still plenty of people who have no idea what's going on, so—with some trepidation—I'm posting it now.

But before I start, I would like to request that commenters on this post take it easy. I'm a little fragile today, and would like to avoid hosting an insults-and-arguments thread. This post is meant to lay out information and links, not to debate the issues.

Here's what happened, as I understand it (I may have some things wrong):

Conservative author Larry Correia posted his annual plea for his fans to nominate his work (and other conservative and libertarian work) for a Hugo, both because he likes such work and because it would annoy liberal sf fans. Later, he wrote a post in which he proposed a specific set of works and people to nominate. One of those works was a story by Vox Day (the pseudonym of Theodore Beale), a right-wing radical who's been the center of some major controversy in the sf community lately.

This year, unlike in previous years, Correia's campaign took off. A bunch of people (I speculate that it was on the order of a couple hundred) bought supporting WorldCon memberships and nominated works and people from his proposed slate. There were enough such nominations that seven out of his twelve proposed nominees made it onto the Hugo ballot. At which point all of liberal fandom rose up in outrage. Here's a post linking to a sampling of the many many posts reacting to the ballot.

Some people have said that unless Correia actually stuffed the ballot by buying fake memberships (which seems unlikely for various reasons), this year is basically no different from other years; people bought memberships and nominated the work they liked, and the most-nominated works got on the ballot, and we should consider everything on the ballot on its merits just like we normally would. Many other people (see many of the links in the abovelinked link roundup) have said that Correia et al's actions were outrageously beyond the pale, and that the whole thing is an intentional affront to women, people of color, queer people, and liberals, an attempt to get us to waste our time, and that we should therefore downvote all those works without wasting our time reading them.

Correia, meanwhile, has claimed victory, on the grounds that the liberals are up in arms, which is what he wanted/expected to happen.

As I've noted in other recent posts, the number of valid Hugo ballots submitted this year is very high, half again as many as the previous record. It's unclear as yet who the 1,500 or so new voters are, but I know that some of them are people who bought memberships in order to vote for some or all of Correia's recommendations, some are people who bought memberships in order to vote against Correia's recommendations, and some are people who bought memberships for Wheel of Time-related reasons. About ten hours from now, we'll have a much clearer idea of how many people there are in each of those categories.

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