The Elephant in the Room: On the Hugo Awards

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Much has been written about the current unpleasantness in the Science Fiction and Fantasy fan community. The TL;DR version is that two groups of right wing blowhards ballot stuffed the Hugo Awards. The first group uses dogwhistle language—they are against “Affirmative Action Fiction” (works that feature trans or gay or ethnic minorities characters, and believe that women should be a hero’s reward). The other group is not subtle about about their contempt. They include a White Supremacist editor and an author known more for his unhinged homophobic rants is nominated six times(!) The message they are sending is quite clear.

Other people have written about this issue—including George R.R. Martin and John Scalzi and Mary Robinette Kowal. I agree and support their efforts and suggestions.

But here’s the thing for me. and frankly, the elephant in the room.

I don’t feel safe. I’ve been called the n-word and the f-word in public more times than I can count. And where I live is perhaps the bluest of blue cities—Washington DC. I have no desire to pay my hard earned money for the pleasure of being insulted by a bunch of people who despise my very existence.  Elimination rhetoric is only a hairsbreadth away from violence. I’ve seen it way too many times. I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way. I’ve got to wonder about how many gay people, or fans of color will actually show up to Worldcon, and frankly, any other con as long as these toxic people are going to attend.

16 Replies to “The Elephant in the Room: On the Hugo Awards”

  1. Craig, I cannot speak for every member of Worldcon fandom and the greater fannish population (I will be the first, although I’m not because GRRM has said it, that there are assholes in ever group) but, please, don’t write us all off for the few assholes. SF is the prime genre for debating culture and history and what the future can or may hold and we need a varied set of voices to have a true debate on that. Please come to a Capclave (DC’s local con) or Balticon (Baltimore’s local one). They cost less of your hard earned money, and, since I have been going to them since I was, well 0, I can all but guarantee that they are not full of those assholes.


    1. I have been to Capclave, and intend to go again. I know that all people, hell most right wingers aren’t extremists. But I understand why some folks wouldn’t feel safe. Thanks for your comment!


      1. Craig, awesome! Maybe I’ll see you there! (I should note I am also a DC local). Also, if people don’t feel safe at Worldcon, if you can afford it, I suggest Supporting memberships and having your voice heard.


  2. Craig,

    I would never ask people to go places where others make them feel unsafe. It’s certainly not my place to ask you to do so.

    That said, I do believe that the best response to the SP3/RP incident is a Worldcon full of people who strongly and visibly oppose their views, and I wonder what could be done to make the space feel safe for you.

    The Code of Conduct ( attempts to ensure that all people are treated with respect, and to ensure that everyone feels safe. Do you believe it’s worded strongly enough? Do you believe the Sasquan organization is committed to complying with it? Do you believe that compliance with this policy is sufficient for safety?

    The SP3/RP crowd is perhaps two hundred ballots, many of whom are people who aren’t going to be attending Worldcon in person. There will be thousands of people at Worldcon, and it seems to me that nearly everyone outside of the small clique is strongly against not only the methods but the reprehensible views expressed by them.

    Although I’m not on the con staff, nor am I (yet) signed up to be a volunteer, it’s important to me personally that the bullies not win, and I’m invested in a diverse and vocal presence at the con. Please let me know if I can help in any way.


  3. You’re right, it’s not going to feel safe. That sucks. As I live out here on the left coast, it’ll be my first and possibly only Worldcon, and I’m already mentally gearing up to deal with sexist and racist shitheads and I’m pissed about it. I don’t think anybody would expect you to put up with the likes of Voxxx. I’d hate to see people not come due to this… I’d rather see a flood of people coming to drown out the puppies…but I can’t blame anybody for taking a break this year.


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