Why on earth — or the rest of the solar system — is a book called "Space Raptor Butt Invasion" by Chuck Tingle up for a Hugo award?
Thank the puppies.
They sound cute, but for the second year in a row, politically motivated groups calling themselves the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies have more or less successfully gamed the Hugo Award nominations, some of the most prestigious prizes in science fiction and fantasy. The Chuck Tingle book is one of their recommendations.
What's their motivation? The puppies oppose diversity initiatives and support lists that are dominated by white men. Their targets, which they call SJW for "social justice warriors," are women, people of color, LGBT writers, editors and artists and the people who support them, including L.A. Times Critic at Large John Scalzi.
Rabid Puppies leader Vox Day, a self-described libertarian, has criticized best-selling science fiction writer N.K. Jemisin, who is black, as an "ignorant half-savage," writing, "Unlike the white males she excoriates, there is no evidence to be found anywhere on the planet that a society of NK Jemisins is capable of building an advanced civilization, or even successfully maintaining one without significant external support from those white males."
George R.R. Martin has criticized both the puppies' agenda and their aesthetic. “When the Hugo ballot came out last year, it was not just a right-wing ballot, it was a bad ballot,” he told the Guardian prior to Tuesday's finalist announcement.
The Rabid Puppies, the more extreme of the two groups, this year created a slate of potential nominees that they urged Hugo voters to nominate. Out of 81 recommendations on that slate, 64 ended up shortlisted.
Day, who calls himself "Supreme Dark Lord, Evil Legion of Evil," wasted no time in gloating. A news release sent by Day reads in part: "'I'm not even remotely surprised to learn that the Rabid Puppies did so well,' said Vox Day, as he mopped his brow with the flayed skin of an SJW after an arduous night of celebrating his fourth and fifth nominations."
Pseudonymous erotica author Tingle, who is also responsible for titles such as "Taken by the Gay Unicorn Biker," responded quickly to the Hugo news with a new e-book, "Slammed in the Butt by My Hugo Award Nomination."
It seems clear that Day expected Tingle's nomination to outrage his critics, but it doesn't appear to have worked —Tingle is a popular figure among a wide range of readers, not just Puppy-affiliated ones:
But some of the other nominees fit in comfortably with Day's far-right politics. Jerry Pournelle, a respected novelist known for his conservative politics, gained a nomination for best editor, short form.
And Day's unambiguously titled "SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police" was nominated for best related work. The book features a foreword by Milo Yiannopoulos, the endlessly controversial British journalist known for his ultra-conservative politics.
The Puppies' elation might prove to be short-lived. Last year, voters opted to give "no award" in several categories dominated by Puppy-endorsed nominees — the sole exception being the universally popular film "Guardians of the Galaxy."
In a blog post, author Larry Correia, a former Sad Puppies leader, sounded bitter about last year's results, writing, "In the process [of voting for "No Award"] they insulted disgruntled fans, and proved that they were a bunch of cliquish elitists just like I’d said they were to begin with. That’s how you end up with Space Raptor Butt Invasion. Have fun with that."
On Twitter, Puppy supporters were undeterred by reminders of last year's awards:
The controversy, of course, is likely to continue through the summer — the winners of the Hugo Awards will be announced on Aug. 20 at MidAmericaCon II in Kansas City, Mo.