Nerds v. Teabaggers and Puppygate

The Hugo Award, one of science fiction's biggest prixes

The Hugo Award, one of science fiction’s biggest prixes

Science Fiction fandom has always been a strange community. A non-fan wandering into a science fiction convention might wonder who all those very strange people are and why they are dressed like that. Sci-Fi fandom has been the cherished province of self-avowed nerds and geeks. They have their own vocabulary: fen, fafiate, gafiate and, of course, filk music. These geeks – and WC supposes he was or is such a geek – had insulated themselves from the issues, headaches and controversies of the workaday world.

Until now.

Now teabaggery has come to SF fandom.

One of annual awards in science fiction is the Hugo. Hugos are a bit unique in that they are both nominated and selected by fans. Two groups of fans are unhappy with the recent nominations and awards. Stuff other than traditional space opera is getting selected; stories with – gasp! – female and even gay protagonists are winning. So these two groups of unhappy fans, the Sad Puppies (closet misogynists and racists) and Rabid Puppies (overt misogynist and racists) set out to pack the vote. Led by someone named Theodore Beale, aka “Vox Day,” a bad writer and editor, they filled the nominations with their candidates. But the Hugo voters out-foxed the Puppies, because in any category of nominations a voter can always choose, “No Award.” And the voters did, freezing out the Puppies’ candidates across the board, with the single exception of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which won for  best dramatic presentation/long form.

Many fans and authors view the Puppies’ campaigns, especially the more-extreme Rabid Puppies, as a thinly veiled attack on science fiction’s increased diversity in recent years and its increased focus on social and gender issues. Puppy nominee John C. Wright is a long-time professional writer, but he is perhaps better known for his views on LGBT activists and allies, who he has called “disgusting, limp, soulless sacks of filth” and other, less-printable slurs. Beale, in particular, is an outspoken white supremacist and campaigner against women’s education and suffrage, who is on the record as supporting the Taliban’s attempt to assassinate Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousifazi, finding it “scientifically justifiable.”

Racism and teabaggery have invaded SF fandom. One of the last refuges of nerddom has been invaded by the Culture Wars of the 21st Century. A sad day for nerds.1

  1. Not just nerds and geeks, of course. Alaska’s own Jim Wright, he of Stonekettle Station, got caught up in the event.