Voting is haaaaard

Voting is Haaaaard

The original voice cast of Captain Scarlet fell out badly.
The original voice cast of Captain Scarlet fell out badly.

It’s not just the Left and Centre-Left and even Right-Left-Right-Left of British politics that are currently going super-nova as they appear to swallow themselves in a own singularity of their own making… I’ll stop that right there. Voting is hard when new things happen to it. Here’s the proof.

A simple thing like voting has also lead to ritualistic blood letting, recrimination tug-of-love between the old and the new in another fantastic arena.

Yes indeed, we need to look down the nose of mirth only at politics and politicians getting the “one person/one vote” wrong. The world(s?) of Science Fiction has recently tripped over its own referendum in an extraordinarily sad, yet slapstick manner.

In case you’ve not been keeping up with things within the Sci-Fi side of world(s?) events, first things first: Sci-Fi lovers1 hate to be thought of a ‘genre fiction lovers’ which is equatable with ‘not serious lovers’ or ‘bad lovers’.

A Hugo Award - Rockety good.
A Hugo Award – Rockety good.

However, like many other humans, Sci-Fi fans like to rank stuff in order of its aceness. This must be because competition – even in made-up stuff, ideas, fantasies and speculative fiction – must be good.

If you can add to the innate goodness of organising fantastic ideas into well organised league tables with the award of shiny things (that look like space rockets) so much the better.

So it is then that every year since 1955 has seen the presentation of the Hugo Awards for really the most Sciencey of Science Fiction writing in book form using paper.

Some excellent authors have won it too.2 But recently the simple process of voting for the best Sci-Fi literature has run into huge problems for Hugo, all of which have been chronicled in deep, deep, granular (think Dune level sandiness) detail on a site called File 7703.

Basically, recently a distinctly egalitarian sting has punctured the hides and caught the attention of a significant number of unreconstructed, conservative Sci-Fi fans who don’t like to see “Politics” messing with their serious, not genre, fiction.

Sure, some politics is fine. Politics like: “But was it us who were the aliens all along?!” or “Damn them insects, shoot ’em to death! Or does that make us the monsters?” or “That robot policeman might turn against us!” – well that’s great.

But “Politics” has also tried to sully the sacred shiny, ranking thing of H’u’Go.

“Politics” that has shed its air-quotes and come out into the open. Politics but about by new style readers and writers with their new ideas. Ideas like tryin’ to open up Hugo nominations to all sorts of people. That’s crazy talk.

People like women and not white people and homsexualists and people from the planet Lesbia wherever the hell that is? In the Hugos?

Well that’s just bringing politics into an area that’s alway been apolitical.

That sort of shift from what is right and good to that which is bad and new… nope, that’s bad politics.

The short version is laid out nicely in Wired: Warning if you have a weak stomach for infantilising tweeness, look away now.

Early this year, that shift sparked a backlash: a campaign, organized by three white, male authors, that resulted in a final Hugo ballot dominated by mostly white, mostly male nominees. While the leaders of this two-pronged movement—one faction calls itself the Sad Puppies and the other the Rabid Puppies—broke no rules, many sci-fi writers and fans felt they had played dirty, taking advantage of a loophole in an arcane voting process that enables a relatively few number of voters to dominate.

Motivated by Puppygate, meanwhile, a record 11,300-plus people bought memberships to the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane, Washington, where the Hugo winners were announced Saturday night.5

You see! Change the voting methodology, even by opening up an arcane loophole and – as Labour has discovered to its consternation/joy and renewal/destruction – it’s warp speed 22 into the heart of the Suns of Bo’lsver IIX and the Caves of Chaos (e.g. Socialism with a beardy face).

Fortunately for the Centre-Right of the Oldde Skolly Sci-Fi hardcore they have magic voting tactics at their disposal. Again from Wired:

“(A self-described libertarian blogger named Theodore Beale. He calls himself Vox Day {loosely: the Voice of God}) explained that his plan was a “Xanatos gambit.” “That’s where you set it up so that no matter what your enemy does, he loses and you win.”6

And let’s face it, that is a plan of such gargantuan self-delusion that it sits on a par with Liz Kendall still thinking she has a look in on the Labour leadership.

Voting is Hard.
Voting is Hard.

References

1I’ve been reading Sci-Fi since I found a collection of it for 10p at the village jumble sale in 1974. Some Sci-Fi is indeed, “ace”.
2Hugo Award winners.
3File 770.
4Science Fiction, good science fiction like Ray Bradbury, Larry Niven, Clifford Simak, J.G. Ballard, Joanna Russ, Elizabeth A. Lynn has always been political. Yes, my wet, SJW bias is showing.
5Wired Who Won Science Fiction’s Hugo Awards, and Why It Matters
6Wired Who Won Science Fiction’s Hugo Awards, and Why It Matters


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