For the last three years, I’ve sat on the sidelines watching the Hugo mess. But, no more. I’m choosing sides and joining Sad Puppies 4.
Why? Because of this recent comment by George R. R. Martin:
I’d like to address this.
“You’re making the same mistake that many of the Puppies did – assuming more voters would make the award more relevant.”
You’re wrong, Mr. Martin. When the majority of SFF fans have no clue what a Hugo is and/or could care less, then it is the very definition of irrelevant. In the case of the Hugo Awards, increasing the number of voters does make them more relevant. You see, the Hugos are nothing more than a popularity contest among the paying members (See rules). People who are motivated enough to buy memberships and support their favorite books, movies, editors and so forth put a value on the award that wouldn’t be there otherwise.
If it were only the number of voters that mattered, the People’s Choice Award would be more important than the Oscars. Its not. The Academy voters are fewer in number, but they bring more expertise to the decision. Same’s true of worldcon fans. These are people who live and breathe SF and fantasy, for whom “fandom” is a way of life,” not casual readers.
The Hugos are far closer to the People’s Choice Awards than the Oscars. The only bar to voting for the Hugo Awards is cash. Anyone, including people who could care less about SFF, can pony up the $50 or so for a supporting membership and vote. And “fandom” is no more qualified to vote for the best SFF books than those of us who are life-long readers of the genre who have never attended a con. (Psst…not everyone has loads of cash to blow on attending cons.) For some of us, a free library card has been our only access to the genre we love. Whether you like it or not, poor people are fans too, Mr. Martin.
I have no objection to someone starting a people’s choice award for SF. Hell, I might even win it, since I have the sort of mass following that tends to dominate such awards. But it would not be as meaningful to me as winning a Hugo.
There is no need to start a people’s choice award for SFF, one already exists. You may have heard of it, it’s called the Hugo Awards. And, I believe you might have won one of those once. After reading Game of Thrones, I can say it was definitely worthy of Hugo. (Trust me, that’s not a good thing.)
I do want to thank you, Mr. Martin. Without your rich elitist bullshit, I might have continued to sit on the sidelines again this year. Instead, I will be forking over the cash for a membership, because those of us who can’t afford to blow money on cons are just as much true fans as those who can. So you can go stuff it in your asterisk.