George R. R. Martin: The Hugo Awards Are Broken, And I Don’t Know If They Can Be Fixed

George R. R. Martin has mentioned the controversy over the Hugo Awards a few times, but so far, he’s avoided delving into the details and expressing an opinion — or, in Martin’s words, taking a “side.” That’s about to change. In a series of blog posts, Martin says he’ll address each individual issue in separate posts — so there’s a lot of opinion and stance to come.

However, he started out on Wednesday evening, explaining why he feels the need to talk about the controversy. On George R. R. Martin’s Not A Blog, he opened by saying he wished he could avoid addressing the issue at all.

“A wiser man would probably just keep quiet, and let this storm pass him by.”

But no… that’s the path of cowardice. Much as I do not relish what is to come, I have been a part of science fiction fandom most of my life, and the Hugo Awards and worldcon are very important to me, and I cannot and will not stand by and keep silent while they are under attack.

So I am going to say a few things.”

The controversy is big and complex, and it starts with GamerGate. According to Entertainment Weekly, two factions, known as the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies, have endorsed certain sci-fi and fantasy works, and their respective followings have voted for less-than-literary reasons.

The result is that the Hugo Awards this year are apt to reflect ideological divides, rather than literary excellence, and this isn’t pleasing to any author who wants to be awarded, or skipped, on the merits of his work, rather than his politics, his presumed politics, or the politics of some outspoken fans.

George R. R. Martin has previously hinted at his unhappiness with this, but in his Wednesday evening blog post, he addressed it directly, saying the following:

“Call it block voting. Call it ballot stuffing. Call it gaming the system. There’s truth to all of those characterizations.

You can’t call it cheating, though. It was all within the rules.

But many things can be legal, and still bad… and this is one of those, from where I sit.

I think the Sad Puppies have broken the Hugo Awards, and I am not sure they can ever be repaired.”

Aside from promising to further elaborate his feelings in blog posts to follow, George R. R. Martin warned that some fans won’t be happy with what else he has to say, and that he expects to get a spate of emails from people who say they’ll never read his books again. This first post was one of the few in which Martin left the commenting option turned off.

He followed with a second post that explained the basics of the controversy. Martin calls the Hugo Awards the most prestigious in the field. He explained that there are many other awards, and that the faction known as the Sad Puppies should have, in Martin’s opinion, started their own award, if they wanted an award to specifically go to a conservative writer. Instead, he feels they’ve tried to hijack the Hugo into their own award.

Martin closed his second post by inviting comments and promising that any off-topic or insulting remarks would be deleted, and by saying that he wouldn’t want a Hugo, or any award, if he felt he was getting it for any reason other than the merit of the writing.

“Elsewise, hell, what’s the point? I can go down to the trophy shop and buy myself all the bowling trophies I want, if the point is just the hardware.”

George R. R. Martin further left his followers with assurance that there will be more to come from him on the subject of the Hugo Awards, over the next several days.

[Photo by: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]