The Hugo ballots over the last couple of years have been tinted with controversy, as a right-wing faction calling themselves the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies (here’s a good explanation from last year) have been leading movements for slate voting to get works on the ballot they claim are more in a ‘fun’ or commercially popular spirit. They think that the awards have been going to works that are more serious and message laden, and that rousing space operas and pulp stories are being ignored (Huh?).
The way some go on, describing some golden heyday of when Science Fiction was about fun and had no sociological message to it has me wondering what exactly they’ve been reading. The classics are full of social commentary and dire warnings of what may happen if we let our inquisitiveness get ahead of our humanity. Gee, just robots, spacemen, and no messages there, right?
This year, their slate initially completely swept the Short Story category, but due to one author refusing the nomination, one non-Puppy selection made it to the ballot.
The nominees in the Short Story category for the 2016 Hugo awards are:
- “Asymmetrical Warfare” by S. R. Algernon (Nature, Mar 2015)
- “Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld, January 2015)
- “If You Were an Award, My Love” by Juan Tabo and S. Harris (voxday.blogspot.com, Jun 2015)
- “Seven Kill Tiger” by Charles Shao (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House)
- Space Raptor Butt Invasion by Chuck Tingle (Amazon Digital Services)
For those of you raising an eyebrow at the last on that list (I know, right?), it’s a nomination from the Rabid Puppies, and it was intended (I’m sure) to show a disdain for the Hugos in general, and make some sort of point about material they thought was less than worthy (another Rabid pick, If You Were an Award, My Love is specifically poking at 2014 nominee, If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love). It’s a gambit that backfired on them a bit, as writer/persona Chuck Tingle (link probably NSFW) has been trolling them ever since.
Tingle is the persona adopted by an unknown writer, and writes tongue in cheek bizarre erotica with titles that usually contain the word ‘Butt’. He’s been rapidly gaining notoriety and popularity. If you want to hear the nominated story, I highly recommend watching this (very NSFW language) video from Mark Oshiro of Mark Reads. He’s hilarious.
I’ve read all of the selections, and the one non-Puppy pick is my own choice for the award. The Puppy picks range from a bit dry for my tastes (“Asymmetrical Warfare”), to the absurd (“Space Raptor Butt Invasion”). “Cat Pictures Please“, conversely, is a delightful little short story of a sentient search engine who has a liking for cat pictures.
JL Jamieson is a strange book nerd who writes technical documents by day, and book news, reviews, and other assorted opinions for you by night. She is working on her own fiction, and spends time making jewelry to sell at local conventions, as well as stalking the social media accounts of all your favorite writers.