Brow Beat

Right-Wing Activists Fail to Ruin the Hugo Awards; Fiction Categories Swept by Women

Author N.K. Jemisin, whose novel The Fifth Season won the 2016 Hugo Award for Best Novel.

Daniel Visse/Wikimedia Commons

Saturday night’s 2016 Hugo Awards ceremony was once again the site of a proxy battle between a group of activists led by white nationalist and misogynist Theodore Beale and his followers and, well, the rest of the world. The Hugo Awards, which honor excellence in science fiction and fantasy, are awarded annually at the World Science Fiction Convention; in 2015, as Katy Waldman reported for Slate, two groups of right-wing science fiction fans gamed the awards-nominating process. One was known as the Sad Puppies, fans who ostensibly wanted more representation of classic space-opera science fiction (but in practice spent a lot of time complaining about stories that addressed social issues); the other was the Rabid Puppies, led by Beale, whose stated mission was completely unrelated to science fiction but rather “to destroy [Social Justice Warriors] and SJW ideology.”

Beale, who turned 48 on Sunday, is a grown man who refers to himself as “Vox Day” and “Supreme Dark Lord,” wrote in 2005 that he considers “women’s rights to be a disease that should be eradicated” and celebrated his birthday this year by proclaiming the United States a “white nation” on Twitter:

At the 2015 Hugo Awards, voters chose to give “No Award” in categories dominated by the works promoted by Beale and his followers; this year they honored Beale’s least favorite authors. All four of the fiction categories were awarded to women: Best Novel went to N.K. Jemisin for The Fifth Season, Best Novella went to Nnedi Okorafor for Binti, Best Novelette went to Hao Jingfang for “Folding Beijing,” translated by Ken Liu and published in the January–February 2015 issue of Uncanny magazine, and Best Short Story went to Naomi Kritzer for “Cat Pictures Please,” published in the January 2015 issue of Clarkesworld. N.K. Jemisin and Beale have a history: In 2013, Beale called Jemisin, who is black, “an educated, but ignorant half-savage,” leading to his expulsion from the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.

Even in categories where one of Beale’s choices won, the winners went out of their way to reject his views—as io9 reports, Neil Gaiman, who shared the award for Best Graphic Story with J.H. Williams III for The Sandman: Overture, said the following in the written acceptance speech he sent in lieu of attending:

It meant a lot to see Sandman: Overture nominated for a Hugo Award, and was disappointing to see that it had been dragged into the unfortunate mess that the pitiable people who call themselves Puppy had attempted to inflict on Worldcon and its awards. I would have withdrawn it from consideration, but even that seemed like it would have been giving these sad losers too much acknowledgement.

But the biggest public-relations catastrophe for Beale and his crew was the nomination of Chuck Tingle. Tingle—the pseudonymous author of high-concept gay erotica like Pounded in the Butt by My Own Butt, Pounded in the Butt by My Book “Pounded in the Butt by My Own Butt”, and Pounded in the Butt by My Book “Pounded in the Butt by My Book ‘Pounded in the Butt by My Own Butt,’ ”—does not often appear in discussions of great science fiction and fantasy. Beale hoped that a Hugo win for Tingle’s Space Raptor Butt Invasion would delegitimize the awards. He should have known better than to match wits with the man who dreamed up Happy Birthday Frankenstein, Now Pound My Butt, and Pounded by President Bigfoot. Tingle launched a three-pronged countertrolling operation, picking up his pen to write Slammed in the Butt by My Hugo Award Nomination, mercilessly mocking Beale on Twitter, and, in a master stroke, sending game developer Zoë Quinn to attend the ceremony on his behalf. (Surprising no one, Beale has allied himself with Gamergate.)

Space Raptor Butt Invasion didn’t win, but Chuck Tingle got a new book out of the experience, Pounded in the Butt by My Hugo Award Loss. Beale, who got nothing, wrote Sunday that “we have the SF-SJW’s exactly where we want them.” The complete list of winners can be found here.