The Hugo Award is huge. That is, if you’re into that sort of thing.
There are a few inherent problems with any type of system to classify one thing ‘better’ than another. The first is it is only an opinion. Unless it’s surgery. Then you might take the ‘one is better than the other’ (hospital/surgeon/procedure/et. al.) a bit more seriously. The second is the method by which the final tally is drawn. If the competition comes down to a popularity contest, over the quality of the writing, then how seriously can you take the result?
Well, as it turns out, pretty damn serious.
As a writer in today’s market, the onus lays on the author to promote their work. One must have a ‘platform’ to get any recognition from the Big Four (that is, the four major publishing houses being, Simon & Schuster (a subsidiary of CBS Corporation), HarperCollins (a subsidiary of NewsCorp), Penguin Random House (a subsidiary of Bertelsmann and Pearson), and Hachette Livre (an original French publisher that, among other things, purchased Time-Warner’s book publishing division).
If a writer can become so popular as to have one hundred thousand (100,000) fans following them, ready to purchase the next thing that comes off of that writer’s fingers (ahem, JK Rowling) within 24 hours, then you're platform will get the Big Four's attention, along with a big, fat advance check (yeah, they still do that).
But, if you don’t… Well, good luck to you then
That luck comes in the form of self-publishing. Amazon, GoodReads (recently purchased by Amazon), Smash Words, etc. to the rescue. It is through these organizations that a writer can expand their fan base (a/k/a platform) to one day aspire to the numbers the Big Four are looking for.
If the writing happens to be good enough to earn an award or two along the way, and you can hang the book’s title on ‘____ Award Winner’, then you’re on your way. The more awards, the more exposure to a greater audience, the bigger the platform.
As an aside, almost ALL of the awards are a product of fees paid by the authors in order for their work to be entered in that contest. Yeah, a starving artist has to pay to get their work read? Say it ain’t so.
Which brings us to this year's Hugo’s and the embarrassment that is Puppy-Gate.
Make no mistake, the Hugo Award is a popularity contest no different from television's The People's Choice Awards, (As a writer, I'm supposed to eschew any and all things TV. Meh. Call me a rebel.) That award at least is shameless in it's celebration of all the popular (usually beautiful) winners.
While I would LOVE to be a part of the Hugo society, I can’t afford it. Admittedly, I’m not willing to make the sacrifices those who have won previously and those who aspire to win, are making. One must LIVE for that goal. All things must be put aside for the prize. Family, friends, outside work, hell, being outside. All are put on the sacrificial alter of building a platform. Authors like Marko Kloos and Annie Bellet, who withdrew their names from the contest after all of the hardships and sacrifices they have made, should be celebrated for standing firm against the whoreish Puppy-gaters. Hopefully, they are garnering the sales, even if they don't get the trophy.
George RR Martin is quoted as saying “The reward for popularity is popularity! It’s truckloads of money! Do you need the trophy, too?”
Couldn't have said it better myself. I guess that's why he's George RR Martin.
In a popularity contest, it can come down to who has the greater chops. And I’ve read few with greater chops than Theodore Beale.
He is the embodiment of PT Barnum’s quote, “I don’t care what you say about me, just spell my name right.” He has received more attention by being the leader of the Rabid Puppies and spouting his arrogant, misogynistic, bigoted, unintelligent opinions, than his writing ever garnered. Anyone remember Andrew Dice Clay? It’s a good bet they'd be best buds.
And you can take this to the bank – if he should put his Vox Day (Voice of God. Really?) blog on hold to write a book about PuppyGate, you can bet your sweet hard covers that the Big Four will line up to get him to sign their contracts, with checks in hand.