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"Fandom requires you to associate with the kind of people you'd normally cross the street to avoid" - yours truly, after Garrison Keillor

This is particularly true of science fiction fandom, which is the oldest of the subcultures that make up geek culture; as I have grown older, I've become less willing to spend time around people who profess tolerance for other cultures and races but in practice are as tyrannical and intolerant as any Nazi party gauleiter or Soviet commissar. Unfortunately, these people (who Brad Torgerson has helpfully termed CHORFs) have largely come to dominate the Hugo nominations and voting, much as they have come to dominate most of the traditional SF conventions. It's no coincidence that just as these conventions -I'll pick Minicon and Capclave* as representative examples- are static, greying, and slowly dying off, the Worldcon has come to imitate them. And as a result, the Hugo Awards, once arguably a sign of what was best in SF and fantasy, became little better than the Nebulas, a meaningless award handed out by CHORFs to CHORFs and doing pretty much nothing to spur sales.

In contrast, geek culture conventions have enormous memberships. The San Diego Comic Convention, which stopped being about just comics years ago, routinely draws 100k; Otakon in Baltimore is good for 50k, and DragonCon in Atlanta is somewhere between the two. Even my little wooden anime convention, Anime Detour, draws more people than Worldcon. So how is it that Worldcon clings to the belief that the Hugos are still what is best in SF, when only a tiny fraction of geek culture ponies up the $40 to buy a vote? Inertia, and the lack of desire by any other organization to set up a competing award. I digress, though.

Larry Correia originally started Sad Puppies as a test of fandom: was it true that SF fandom, as represented by the Hugo voters at Worldcon, had become insular, alienated from fandom, and dominated by cliques? Over a period of years, he proved to my satisfaction that this was indeed true - the CHORFs were running the show, and anyone who didn't hew to the Social Justice Warrior line wasn't going to get nominated for a Hugo, much less win one. And so it was that Brad Torgerson took over the Sad Puppies effort for Sad Puppies 3, encouraged the purchase of memberships, and inspired all manner of frothing rage amongst the CHORFs. Adding to the fun/excitement/rage, noted outlaw blogger and former SFWA member** Theodore Beale took a page from Sad Puppies and posted a slate of nominees under the Rabid Puppies banner. The influx of new voters enabled both the Sad and Rabid Puppy slates to sweep damn near all the Hugo nominations this year, at whicih point the Flaming Rage Nozzles Of Tolerance completely lost their shit. One of the consequences was a coordinated hit job in the mainstream media, which backfired badly; the other was an ongoing and more or less civil exchange between grrm and Larry Correia.

So what does this have to do with me? I am somewhat of a traditionalist, and would like to see the Hugos returned to their former glory. It's never going to happen as long as the CHORFs run the show, and so the fresh blood that Sad Puppies, Rabid Puppies, and similar efforts by Mary Robinette Kowal is important, as is the return of older, bitter fans like me who for a long time haven't felt too welcome at SF conventions. Maybe we can open up Worldcon to the wider world of geek culture and leave the CHORFs muttering angrily into their bottles of Ensure on the sidelines. Maybe we'll fail and things will continue as they have been in the last few years. But damn it, we have to at least TRY.


*The literary SF convention that replaced Disclave after the latter's unfortunate demise.
**He was expelled by SFWA, apparently in violation of their own bylaws, for quoting N.K. Jemisin to expose her as the racist asshole she is.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
selenite
Apr. 15th, 2015 05:28 pm (UTC)
I've been attending cons about as long as you have. I went to one Worldcon--LoneStarCon two years ago. Which drew me into internet discussions of "Why is Worldcon dying and how can we help it?" My suggestion was to hand the Worldcon mantle to a megacon such as Dragoncon or SDCC. The old guard hated the idea. We're seeing why now.

I suspect the Hugo kerfuffle might be the saving of Worldcon. With enough extra funds they can sponsor stuff to bring in new people.
wombat_socho
Apr. 16th, 2015 04:13 am (UTC)
Who knows? We may ultimately have a Sad Puppies bid to put a Worldcon in Salt Lake City and invite Larry Correia as GoH. >:)

I've been to two Worldcons (Discon II was my first con period, and I went to Constellation in 1983) and am mulling over MidAmericon II, which is on the 40th anniversary of the first MidAmericon - I had a membership, and a promised introduction to GoH Robert Heinlein, but my parents weren't so keen on letting their teenage son bus it cross-country to hang out with several thousand SF fans. Looking back, they were probably right to be wary. In the middle, I've been to a fair number of literary SF, geek culture, and anime conventions, and I have to say I prefer the anime conventions. Less obnoxious politics on the part of the staff and membership, for one thing.

Edited at 2015-04-16 04:17 am (UTC)
selenite
Apr. 16th, 2015 06:35 am (UTC)
I worked an anime con (GMing). My main reaction was "does your mother know you're dressed like that?" That's NOT the reaction I was having at Worldcon.

I could see Salt Lake Comic Con taking Worldcon under its wing. A pure Puppies bid . . . I think it would make the past two weeks' drama pale.
wombat_socho
Apr. 17th, 2015 03:39 am (UTC)
Don't lie - you'd enjoy watching all the heads explode if Salt Lake City won the bid. :)

Anime conventions...they're a not always successful blend of American geek culture with Japanese culture, with a lot of awkwardness, as you've observed. If there's still costuming at Worldcon, I suspect it's much more G-rated.
selenite
Apr. 17th, 2015 05:07 pm (UTC)
Probably . . . but my head explosion buffer is full right now.
meep
Apr. 19th, 2015 03:06 pm (UTC)
I can't really go to cons now, but thanks for letting me know that voting members get e-copies of most of the workers.

That's worth it for me.
wombat_socho
Apr. 19th, 2015 03:11 pm (UTC)
It varies from year to year depending on the whims of the publishers, and sometimes the authors. Michael Flynn made his nominated short story "In The Stone House" available online ,and I am remiss in not posting a link for it. One of the things on the to-do list for today.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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