The Hugo Awards are this weekend! But time-travel Hugos are much more fun! So let’s go Back to the Hugos: 1995!
The member vote for Best Novel:
Oh, Hugo voters… AYFKM? I thought we had finally reached an understanding after last decade.
MY pretend, retro ballot for Best Novel:
(Interesting note: Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower made the shortlist but was deemed inelegible.)
Wrong, Hugo voters. You got it ALL wrong.
Allow me to explain:
Brittle Innings is a rich, full-bodied tale about humanity and its monsters in the pre-Civil Rights era South, and involves brilliant literary interplay. It’s gorgeous. Towing Jehovah is an intelligent, biting, religious satire that offends everybody, even the intended audience. Beggars and Choosers is brimful of imaginative near-future technology with (often over-involved) philosophical ponderings, and its problematic nature makes analysis even more worthwhile. Bujold’s Mirror Dance is the “Give your sociopathic clone son a starship” edition of the “Save-yo-fetuses” series, which always puts my deeply internalized pro-choice sensibilities on edge, not to mention the elevation of uberwealthy characters undermines difficult moral quandaries by making them easy, fun to read, and not really a big deal. And Mother of Storms is a kitchen sink filler-thriller about superficial character cliches surviving a global weather disaster.
If the Spaz Clumpies are correct about post-1985 SF, 1995 should be an ideal indicator of a liberal and literary hijacking of the Hugo Awards. (Although we already know that, one, you cannot hijack your own plane, and two, conservative, non-literary books have always appeared on Hugo shortlists, and three, conservative, non-literary books have always appeared on Hugo shortlists.) But let us take a look anyway…
Bujold, Barnes, and Kress. A very clear non-literary tang runs through the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners, with conservative elements embedded in all three novels. (Yes, even the Bujold, where, for every two liberal steps forward– feminism, bisexuality, physical ability– we take conservative steps back– homosexual rapists, militarism, pro-life messages, women abandoning liberal principles for love.)
Now what was it those Mad Yuppies were saying about post-’85 Hugo shortlists?
But then again, a woman did win the 1995 Hugo. Which is definitely, probably, most likely indicative of an Affirmative Action vote on the part of the very fannish, very loyal, very divisive, very opinionated Hugo voters. Because Hugo voters are definitely going to give up their cliquish loyalty to (insert name of geeky, charismatic author) for the sake of white woman empowerment. And it’s obvious that Bujold’s win has nothing to do with the huge, insane popularity of the Vorkosigan saga among SF readers of all stripes.
I WISH the Hugos employed a system of Affirmative Action. Maybe then I wouldn’t be so bored reading so many crap books. Also, white woman voting isn’t very Affirmative Actiony. You would think that if Hugo voters were really practicing– I believe the Vapid Lumpies call it– victim-of-the-week, checklist voting, they would, you know, nominate people who aren’t white AmeriBrit English speakers 99% of the time.
There’s an entire world outside of the American commercial publishing machine, Hugo voters. And some of it has got to be better than Mother of Storms.