July 21, 2015
George R.R. Martin urges fans to vote for Hugo Awards
by Nick Davies
The prestigious Hugo Awards have been mired in controversy this year, as two right-wing groups have threatened to derail the proceedings by advocating for books that would “correct” what they see as the science-fiction awards’ tendency to award left-leaning writers. The involvement of these groups, the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies, has led to several nominees withdrawing their work for consideration and to dissatisfaction within the sci-fi community with the current state of the awards.
Now, Alison Flood reports for The Guardian that George R.R. Martin is hoping to rally fans to vote for the Hugo Awards and reclaim them from the political controversy in which they find themselves. Speaking out via his LiveJournal, he encourages “every true fan” to sign up to cast their votes for their favorite works of sci-fi. Voting for the Hugos isn’t a flawlessly democratic system: in order to get a vote, you have to pay to register for a membership in Worldcon, the global convention that hosts the awards (this year’s, held in Spokane, is being called Sasquan). Still, Martin hopes that readers will at least purchase a supporting membership, which costs $40, and grants voting rights for the awards as well as copies of the publications put out by the convention.
Flood writes that the mood surrounding this years Hugos has been toxic enough to make award-winning writer Connie Willis withdraw from presenting an award at the ceremony this August. Willis says, “I’ve essentially been told to engage in some light-hearted banter with the nominees, give one of them the award, and by my presence — and my silence — lend cover and credibility to winners who got the award through bullying and extortion. Well, I won’t do it. I can’t do it. If I did, I’d be collaborating with them in their scheme.”
Martin has also registered his disappointment with how the awards are shaping up, describing the current nominees as “the weakest Hugo ballot in recent memory, thanks to the Puppy slates” earlier this year. But that’s not stopping him from participating, and he’s rallying sci-fi enthusiasts to the cause as well, writing passionately, “EVERYONE is welcome, despite what you have heard. (Just don’t be an asshole. Assholes get welcomed too, but the welcome wears out more quickly)… All I know for sure is that every vote will count.”
He points out that Worldcon membership has gone up recently, and that while there’s no way to know if that’s from real fans or “the Neo-Nazis and right-wing reactionaries we have been warned of,” the only way to that the Hugo Awards will work the way they’re intended is if as many sci-fi fans as possible vote for their favorites, concluding, “Let this be fandom’s finest hour. Vote.”
Nick Davies is a publicist at Melville House.