The controversy over this year's Hugo Awards nominations continues to get messier. Two authors who were nominated for awards after being included on the Sad Puppies voting slate (and the copycat slate, Rabid Puppies) have decided to withdraw from the Hugo ballot.
For those of you coming to this late, Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies are part of an organized backlash that aims to combat what they see as "affirmative action" in Hugo voting, which has led to a marked increase in diversity among nominees and winners in recent years. They also argue that the awards are skewed towards more literary works, at the expense of old-fashioned science fiction adventure. A number of the nominations on the final ballot are for works published by Castalia House, a tiny publisher in Finland run by Rabid Puppies organizer Theodore "Vox Day" Beale, who is also nominated as an editor.
Marko Kloos, who was nominated for his novel Lines of Departure, writes:
It has come to my attention that “Lines of Departure” was one of the nomination suggestions in Vox Day’s “Rabid Puppies” campaign. Therefore—and regardless of who else has recommended the novel for award consideration—the presence of “Lines of Departure” on the shortlist is almost certainly due to my inclusion on the “Rabid Puppies” slate. For that reason, I had no choice but to withdraw my acceptance of the nomination. I cannot in good conscience accept an award nomination that I feel I may not have earned solely with the quality of the nominated work.
Meanwhile, Annie Bellet, who was nominated for the short story "Goodnight, Stars," says:
I am withdrawing because this has become about something very different than great science fiction. I find my story, and by extension myself, stuck in a game of political dodge ball, where I’m both a conscripted player and also a ball. (Wrap your head around that analogy, if you can, ha!) All joy that might have come from this nomination has been co-opted, ruined, or sapped away. This is not about celebrating good writing anymore, and I don’t want to be a part of what it has become.
I am not a ball. I do not want to be a player. This is not what my writing is about. This is not why I write. I believe in a compassionate, diverse, and inclusive world. I try to write my own take on human experiences and relationships, and present my fiction as entertainingly and honestly as I can.
Corrections: An earlier version of this piece said the authors "declined" their nominations, whereas they actually withdrew, which is a bit different. Also, Castalia House is in Finland, but is not a Finnish publisher.