dave_wallace (dave_wallace) wrote,

Rip Van Hugo

If there were any significant merit to the central premise of the various "puppy" incarnations - that SF awards have recently been taken over by a cabal of so-called "social justice warriors," to the detriment of the works honored and the overall field - you might expect that the best-positioned person to notice it would be someone who had just suddenly returned to reading current works in the field after a 20+ year absence.  Someone, that is, much like me.

As I noted in my previous post, I basically stopped reading most new SF and paying attention to the Hugos after the birth of my son Kern in 1992.  I didn't stop reading SF altogether - rather I was mostly seeking out and re-reading the stories and authors of my youth to share with my son as he got older.  As soon as he was old enough, I introduced him to Tolkein, and to Asimov's Foundation trilogy.  Later, he returned the favor by sharing some of his enthusiasms with me.  I did catch a few contemporary novels - we read the Harry Potter series together as a family as they were published, and I did read A Song of Ice and Fire some time after A Dance With Dragons came out.  But for the most part, my reading in this period was originally published pre-1993.

So what does the state of SF look like to someone emerging from a long hibernation?  It's surprisingly familiar, actually.  I enjoyed all three of the non-puppy nominated novels this year.  Overall, it seems like there is more urban fantasy themed stuff out there, and a bit more diversity among the authors.  But I see a definite connection between the works I was reading and enjoying back in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, and the non-puppy stuff that got nominated this year.

Conversely, I wonder what the Puppies were reading that leads them to think that a concern with social justice themes is a recent innovation in SF.  Did they ever read The Forever WarThe Left Hand of Darkness?  Heck, did they ever read Stranger in a Strange Land?  Hugo-winners all, that bunch.  Have they read anything by Alice Sheldon/James Tiptree Jr.?  Ursula Le Guin?  Joanna Russ?

If there's an earlier age that the Puppies are hearkening back to, where white male concerns went largely unchallenged and a rocket ship on the cover meant you could count on a simple space adventure, it would be the 50s and earlier, a time when several of their leading figures weren't even born.  And even so, I suspect that is something of an oversimplification.
Tags: hugo_awards

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