Two authors and a fanzine have withdrawn their work from the Hugo science fiction awards, claiming alleged right-wing activists are skewing the voting process.
The annual awards honour the best science fiction and fantasy works and achievements of the previous year across a number of categories, including books, television, film, and fanworks. They are voted on by anyone who is a member of (i.e. has paid to attend) the 2014, 2015, or 2016 WorldCons.
However, this year authors Marko Kloos, whose novel Lines of Departure was up for best novel, and Annie Bellet, whose Goodnight Stars was nominated for best short story award, have withdrawn after a group of writers, who call themselves the Sad Puppies, have paid for fans to go to Worldcon so have influence over their choices. The fanzine Black Gate has withdrawn for the same reason.
The Sad Puppies group is allegedly politically right-leaning and leader Brad Torgersen said he wanted to change what he called the Hugos’ favouring of works that were “niche, academic, overtly to the left in ideology and flavour”.
Kloos and Bellet were also included on a list put together by writer Theodore Beale, a far-right blogger known as Vox Day, who had put together his own chosen titles in a campaign called Rabid Puppies.
In a statement Kloos said he withdrew his nomination because he does not want to be chosen because of any perceived political leanings. “I had no choice but to withdraw my acceptance of the nomination. I cannot in good conscience accept an award nomination that I feel I may not have earned solely with the quality of the nominated work.”
Bellet said: “I am withdrawing because this has become about something very different than great science fiction. I find my story, and by extension myself, stuck in a game of political dodge ball, where I’m both a conscripted player and also a ball… All joy that might have come from this nomination has been co-opted, ruined, or sapped away. This is not about celebrating good writing anymore, and I don’t want to be a part of what it has become.”
George R R Martin, author of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, said on his blog that he felt “very sorry” for everyone involved and that they “have no good choices” in how to react.
However, he said science fiction fans should still vote on the awards, claiming “as flawed and damaged as this ballot is, there ARE things on it deserving of our field's ultimate accolade”.