I don’t love dogs. I like them alright, but I don’t love them. My experience with them has been a mixed bag. Aside from one or two I’ve know, I’ve found a majority of them to be on the slow side. Dumb dogs really irritate me. And I despise the overly vociferous ones… be they large and growly or small and yappy. But, puppies are OK. I mean, who doesn’t like puppies, right? They do silly stuff, but they don’t know any better yet. They are great… right up to the point they start chewing stuff up and pooping right where you have to walk… that’s when they become dogs and a choice to like or dislike them must be made.
I’m much more of a cat person. There’s lots of reasons why, but I won’t go into that because that’s not what I’m writing this blog for right now. Suffice it to say, cats share my personality and sensibilities. I do my own thing, and for the most part, I prefer to be left alone.
What this blog is really about is an issue that has been ongoing for several years now. I’ve never talked about it mainly because it is polarized to such an extent, that to even hint at an inclination to one point of view or the other could get you instantly ostracized by the opposite side. This will probably happen to me at some point anyway, so I’m not going to sweat it anymore. So what is this topical bush I’m beating around, you ask?
It’s the Hugo/Puppygate debacle. If you are a Science Fiction & Fantasy reader, but are not familiar with this… good. Stay ignorant. Don’t worry about it. Enjoy your books. But I caution you, if you ever look into the real world lives of your favorite authors, you may be sucked into the maelstrom. And once in, you will have an awful time extricating your mind from it.
That brings me to the explanation of ‘why now‘. Why blog of this kerfuffle if it is so ill-advised to become involved? Well, I have winced at the on-goings for a while, and have become a very Sad Kitty in my own right because of it. You see, I sort of like the writings from authors on both sides of the argument. I have strong leanings and empathy toward the points made by the Puppy side however, and as such, find myself loath to support the works of the Puppy Kicker side. That’s why I warn readers to remain ignorant. It is bliss, and you will enjoy your SF&F more that way. Alas, I am not ignorant, and have no recourse to ‘unknow‘ things.
The sad runs deep, and the doom of Things I Like seems to hover over the literary portion of fandom. The Rockets of the Hugo Award have been tarnished, if not down-right sabotaged, to the point where they are no longer Fan Worthy. Two sides of a social argument will never agree to coexist peacefully again. I do believe that the side of fiscal profitability will prevail, but the damage done by the failing side as it rails against its own self-imposed darkness will no doubt cause a backlash onto the side of the light. If you have ever read Jordan’s Wheel of Time, compare it to the Dark One’s counter-stroke against Sadin. Put plainly, some great science fiction will fail to be made because of boycotts that keep authors from making a living at it… not because of the writing, but because of the politics of the writer. That is sad.
It’s doubly sad to me because I hope to soon join the ranks of sci-fi authors by publishing my first novel. There is a divide, and it seems you must choose one side or the other. Being a cat-minded individual, that’s like holding the door open and expecting me to choose to go in or stay out! The horror of such decisions!
And I must admit my own guilt of bias against some of those authors who have been actively kicking sad puppies. I have also frowned at and declined to investigate the works written by some of the more growly and yappy puppies on the opposite side of the fight… because, again, I don’t like loud dogs. Sure, we need them to stand guard, but when they bark at shadows, or just have a howl-off with the other dogs around them, it becomes annoying to me. It isn’t always necessary to bark at every squirrel. Sometimes I just want to sit and read a good book in peace and quiet.
But… and this is the reason I write this today… there is a glimmer of hope. I think that glimmer may reveal itself fully tomorrow, when the new Dragon Awakes… The first annual Dragon Awards will be presented on Sept. 4th, 2016 @DragonCon. This award has been established on an open platform for both nominations and voting. It does not require memberships, only interest in participating. It is truly Fan Worthy. The only question is, can it avoid the taint… the backlash of the existing conflict… and be a non-gamed award?
I sure hope so.
Anyway, before anyone reading this assigns a label to me, I will present you with the one I chose for myself.
I am a Wandering Puppy. I am searching for the things I like. You can try to fence me in, but I will dig out and keep looking. If you kick me, I will not stay to receive more… I’ll run away. If there are too many growly and yappy dogs around me, I’ll run away. I’ll keep Wandering until I find the home that’s mine. Don’t bother trying to find me and make me come home so little spoiled Suzie can pull my ears. I’ll just run away again. Your Lost Puppy signs are a wast of time, for “Not all those who Wander are Lost”.
As I thought of this analogy, I was obviously reminded of the poem from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. After re-reading that, I was struck with a comparison to the whole debacle that I think fits the poem quite well… you decide. (comparisons are mine, and probably silly)
All that is gold does not glitter,
(Tarnished Hugo Awards no longer impress anyone)
Not all those who wander are lost;
(Wandering Puppies of Fandom like me keep looking for good Sci-Fi)
The old that is strong does not wither,
(Real Sci-Fi isn’t squashed by propaganda)
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
(Good Stories from all points of view will survive)
From the ashes a fire shall be woken
(WorldCon fades but PuppyGate ignited a fire in Fandom)
A light from the shadows shall spring;
(DragonCon created the Dragon Award)
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
(The Dragon Award replaces the Hugo)
The crownless again shall be king.
(Science Fiction Fandom retakes the throne)
– J.R.R. Tolkien
Good luck to all the nominees tomorrow, but honestly… I really hope the Fans Win.