Monday, 2 May 2016

An Alternative to Puppydom

So it's 2016 and the Sad and / or Rabid Puppies have done it again.  And for anyone who doesn't know what that means, a) you're fortunate and b) here's a link to an article in The Guardian that explains things, more or less.  Short version: right wing idiots try and reform the Hugo awards in the same way nasty children try and reform other kids' sandcastles.

How do you persuade adult bullies to stop being bullies?  Probably you can't; probably it's much too late for that.  Either way, most likely we'll end up with a bunch of no votes like last year, and the whole miserable shambles will continue until either the Hugo awards are a thing of the past or the bullies finally realise just how little they're achieving and start misapplying their energies elsewhere.  What I find most frustrating is that, hidden amidst all the rhetoric and bigotry, there was the core of a good point at the beginning of all this: while it had as little to do with Social Justice Warriors as it did with Bigfoot or rogue Atlanteans, the Hugos had dug themselves into something of a niche.  A little thoughtful discussion and considered reform might not have been such a bad thing.  So the fact that we've had two years of precisely the opposite of that represents the worst of both possible worlds.

Ah well.  At least this might be the year when gay dinosaur porn finally gets the kudos it deserves.

Anyway, here's my suggestion, for whatever it's worth: let's forget about the whole stupid mess.  Let's pay the Puppies precisely the amount of attention they deserve - that would be none whatsoever - and let's all devote the time and mental energy we save thereby to something positive.  Like, say, the 2016 Clarke Award shortlist, which is a pretty damn great overview of the industry, and includes my friend Adrian Tchaikovsky and his novel Children of Time, which by all accounts is stunning.  (The only reason I'm yet to read it is that I've been too busy reading all five billion pages of The Shadows of the Apt!)

Or ... here's a thought.  If we really wanted to show the Puppies up for the churlish sack of nutters they are, maybe we could promote some genuinely worthy cause?  Like, oh say, Rosarium Publishing's Indiegogo campaign.  Right now it's doing pretty well, with more than half of its funding raised.  But there's also a good chance that it might not make its target, so the time for anyone who's been sitting on the wall to start paying attention is right now.  Especially since big name author chap Rick (Percy Jackson) Riordan has pledged to match all commitments made between now and the end of the campaign up to a total of $10'000.

Here's the thing: the genre publishing industry talks an awful lot about diversity and representation, but too much of the time that's nothing but talk.  And sometimes it feels that people would rather be outraged by those getting it wrong than praise those striving to get it right.  Rosarium is home to creators from all over the world, and the only thing that unites them (I guess I should say, us) is that they're (we're) talented storytellers with cool ideas to share.  For me, this is precisely what a small press (and hey, the big five too, but maybe that's a wish too far right now) should be doing: putting out cool, exciting books by creators regardless of their race, colour, gender or creed.  And surely it's precisely what we as an industry should be supporting, instead of getting our collective underwear in a twist over how a bunch of bigots have derailed some award.

So, if you're interested in independent books and comics, or in promoting diversity within the publishing industry, or in reading stuff that's good, please go take a look here and see if anything grabs your fancy.  And if nothing does, or you're just short of money, perhaps think about spreading the word.  There are only three days left, and this is kind of a big deal for a whole lot of people.

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