Hurricane Hugos

I'm going to warn you up front that this story has a certain "inside baseball" aspect, and if you're not interested in science fiction, science fiction publishing, and the ongoing culture wars, this is probably not going to interest you.

Still here? Good.

The "Hugos" are widely called the most prestigious awards in the world of science fiction and fantasy publishing. They are awarded every year by a vote of the membership of the World Science Fiction Convention, which SF fans have called "Worldcon" since time immemorial.

Starting three years ago, Larry Correia, successful science fiction writer, decided to test his suspicion that the Hugo Awards of the World Science Fiction Society were increasingly being awarded through the action of a small group, and increasingly reflect the tastes of that small group rather than a more general population of science fiction readers.

There were many ideas what the reason could be: a desire by the active voters to reward more "literary" work. An ideological bias toward "liberal" writers and themes — which seemed to be more plausible after attacks on more "conservative" writers like Correia, attacks on the movie Ender's Game because the author of the original novel, Orson Scott Card, is opposed to same-sex marriage, and the expulsion of Vox Day from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, arguably in violation of their own bylaws, for having offensive views on race and sexual roles.

(Just for full disclosure: Scott Card has been a personal friend for something like 30 years, and along with Ray Bradbury was the first to suggest maybe I actually could do this writing thing. Sarah Hoyt, who is also involved in Sad Puppies, is a close friend and as most PJ Media readers know, my partner in the Book Plug Friday column. Larry Correia is a Facebook friend who I've never met personally. And I think Vox Day is an obnoxious and unlikeable dolt, as I've said in these pages in the past.)

Correia's experimental method was to publish a list of suggested nominees for the Hugo Awards that he thought wouldn't otherwise get serious consideration. He repeated the exercise a year ago, and then this year Brad Torgersen continued with a new list of suggested nominees.

Only, this year, a lot of those suggested nominees were actually nominated. At which point all hell broke loose.

It would take a lot more room than I want to give it to give all the examples, but what was most notable was a sudden outbreak of stories in more mainstream media that probably were best exemplified by the headline in Entertainment Weekly:

Hugo Award nominations fall victim to misogynistic, racist voting campaign

This headline resulted — shortly after an email from Brad Torgersen that strongly suggested legal action might be forthcoming — in a corrected headline of "Correction: Hugo Awards voting campaign sparks controversy" and one of the most epic corrections in the body of an article in recent magazine history:

CORRECTION: After misinterpreting reports in other news publications, EW published an unfair and inaccurate depiction of the Sad Puppies voting slate, which does, in fact, include many women and writers of color. As Sad Puppies’ Brad Torgerson explained to EW, the slate includes both women and non-caucasian writers, including Rajnar Vajra, Larry Correia, Annie Bellet, Kary English, Toni Weisskopf, Ann Sowards, Megan Gray, Sheila Gilbert, Jennifer Brozek, Cedar Sanderson, and Amanda Green.

This story has been updated to more accurately reflect this. EW regrets the error.

Very very similar articles came out in many different places, all of them nearly simultaneously.

It would seem someone hit a nerve. The question is: whose? Who benefits from this sudden outbreak of extremely similar apparent libels?