Unless you’ve been living under a rock, and a rather large one at that, you’re aware of a growing trend toward political polarization in the US.  For that matter, much of the world.  Political identities have long been ascribed to geographic regions: California is liberal, its neighbor Arizona is conservative, etc etc etc.  But until recent years that’s never been so apparent, or effective.

And it’s creeping into every aspect of our lives.

Right now I want to address one in particular: the realm of Science Fiction.

Science Fiction has always been one of the red-headed stepchildren of literature.  Despite the fact that many of its works can be held up against the best of any mainstream genre, the field has always been regarded as the domain of geeky dreamers.  Those driven to write in its spirit have been well-rewarded for it by rabid fandom and more tangible rewards.  Like Nebulas.  And Hugos.

The latter are a community-based award, nominated by fans at large and voted upon by Worldcon attendees.  It’s a democratic and therefore imperfect process, but for the most part rises out of political muck and recognizes those whom a majority of fans believe have truly earned a Hugo.

Until this year.

For 2015 we get a controversy generated by angry writers feeling slighted, who believe that the Hugos have come to be determined by “social justice warriors” who strictly favor left-wing works that lean too literary.

Yes, you read that last part correctly.

I’m not going to dig into the details here.  I present you the eloquent Susan Grigsby for that.  If you’re a SF fan at all, or just curious, I highly recommend you make time for her sadly informative piece.

Then there’s the esteemed Connie Willis, who’s won a record 11 Hugos and 7 Nebulas for her fine efforts.  Connie is highly regarded and sought after as one of the best event speakers in Science Fiction.  Yet this year she has declined an invitation from David Gerrold to present.  She says she can’t do so in good conscience, and after having read her reasons, I have to agree with her decision.  Again, please read.

Regardless of the topic, whether we’re talking elected representatives or venerated authors, it’s distressing to me to see control assumed by a shrill, hateful minority.  It’s a shame to see process wrecked by factions unwilling to let it play out.  Petty groups so determined to win at all costs that they will behave unethically and in scorched-earth fashion.

Because rest assured, this political travesty won’t be allowed for next year’s Worldcon.  Organizers will close ranks, retool the rules, figure a way out of this mess going forward.  Which means more polarization.  Which is a compound shame, because the very people clamoring for greater inclusion will find themselves further marginalized, disenfranchised due to ill-chosen tactics.  And if history is any guide, they won’t get it.

 

update: more worth reading

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