There are many reasons why I might be “angered” by previous Hugo winners. And none of them are anything to do with ‘the increasingly multicultural makeup’ of the awards:
As George R. R. Martin points out in the Wired article:
Just three online magazines and three print magazines contribute 50% of finalists for best short story, novelette and novella. With the online magazines – arguably less due to quality than the ease of sharing free stories.
Literary writers with MFAs and degrees in English have dominated the Hugo ballot (for short fiction) in recent years. These prize-winning ‘sci-fi & fantasy’ writers often – in my opinion:
- Write mediocre literary fiction, thereby reinforcing every negative stereotype literary writers have about genre;
- Don’t deal with the future in any serious way, due to a lack of ability or inclination;
- Fail to grapple with ethical or cultural issues. Hugo winner The Water That Falls on you From Nowhere trivialises the difficult, sometimes harrowing, decision to come out as gay to traditional parents. [Spoiler] It turns out the protagonist Matt’s parents already know he and his partner Gus are a couple. They’re cool with it… [/spoiler]
- Privilege sentimentality over difficult ideas. The only ‘idea’ in Hugo Award-nominated If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love is ‘I wish my lover was more badass‘ (with a throwaway mention of ‘transphobia is bad’).
Yep… “Activists” are “angry” about these issues. The Hugo Awards – with their 60-year history – deserve better than to dismiss their concerns as the privilege of ‘white men’.
UPDATE: Factual correction made on 02/11/2015 to Asimov and Clarke’s Hugo-winning record. Asimov’s Wikipedia entry has two ‘award’ sections – we saw the first, not the second. Thank you to Aaron at File770 for the correction.