For the last ten years, the Hugo Awards didn’t have much in common with what they used to be. They weren’t fan awards. They were the Nebula Awards with a different name.
So last night everyone made it official.
And by everyone, I mean the dwindling number of people who care. A lot of voters flooded into the Hugos to support political factions, not Science Fiction.
This isn’t passion over the field. It’s inside baseball and culture wars.
But what field is there to be passionate about? Is anyone supposed to seriously debate the merits of John Scalzi and Kevin J. Anderson?
This is a field whose dominant authors are writing upgraded fanfic. What is left of its fandom is a fossil of angry shriveled old women and doughy middle aged men who threw a tantrum last night. Tor defeated Sad Puppies. A bunch of aging hacks got cheered for defending their cozy clubhouse. And everyone lost.
Fantasy is doing well, but Science Fiction is mostly dead. The social justice warriors get some of the blame. But it’s not that simple. The genre just lost its energy. A lot of writers decided they had more room to play in fantasy.
No Award should have been the Hugo each year because there isn’t much worth reading in Science Fiction. You can blame that on the readers who screen out everything that someone who isn’t a thirty-something woman who would rather be reading urban fantasy might want to read. You can blame publishing houses who don’t employ anyone who gets Science Fiction. You can blame writers who find fantasy more profitable and more fun.
But the existence of steampunk as a thing says it all. Science Fiction isn’t dead, but it’s not far from it.
Fandom is a shrunken fossil whose only youthful energy comes from settling political scores. That says it all too.
How many millenials do you see at conventions when they aren’t there for the media stuff? What’s the average age of a hardcover SF purchaser? Softcover purchaser? Magazine subscriber?
Both sides of fandom will get their way. The Hugo Awards will be renamed after Octavia Butler and the rest will set up their own awards. Probably named after Heinlein. There will be an annual pissing contest with fewer attendees. No one will actually read or buy the books everyone is fighting about.
Ten years from now the Octavia Awards will be held in the back room of a Holiday Inn in between sets by a terrible cover band. The attendees will all be on scooters except for a few younger PhDs in social justice there to document the history of resistance against the patriarchy in Science Fiction.