Yesterday, the Spanish online newspaper Crónica Global published an opinion piece about, of all the things, the Sad-Rabid Puppies Saga. It is an – interesting article, to say the least. It’s what you’d expect, really, but I was shocked by its vitriol. Although I guess that’s inevitable because, being something written for an audience that has probably never heard about the SP-RPs, one can get away with being ramblingly vicious or not bothering to source your claims. Lack of opposition, I guess.
As far as I know, this is the first piece about this controversy that has appeared in Spain, and it reads a bit like someone just picked random stuff from the English and American blogosphere and translated them. Of course, it’s also amusingly irrelevant given that the Puppies have not been a force in the Hugos for a while. And, surprisingly enough, it fails to mention Vox Day and just focuses on poor Larry Correia. In fact, the piece starts by talking about the Puppies origins’ in 2013, and I can imagine a reader who knows nothing about this thinking “Why the hell I’m reading this, what is this all about, and why this even exists?” Obviously, then it jumps to Trump and even Charlottesville, because… why not.
For those who may be asking themselves if Cronica Global is some sort of Leftist “rag,” not really as far as I know. It’s an online newspaper founded on 2013, whose goal was to counteract what they perceived as the hegemonic dominance of the nationalist (Catalanist) narrative in Catalonia, Spain. About other social or cultural issues, I think they are essentially centrist with perhaps a certain tendency towards liberal posturing. In any event, I guess they are just glad to have a writer who sometimes writes pieces about pop culture, although I’m not sure how many people reads that sort of stuff here.
Anyway, since I thought some of you may find it interesting, here’s my translation:
The Lessons from the Sad (Rabid) Puppies
Laura Fernández explains the haters’ attempts to capture the WorldCon Hugo Awards.
Two weeks ago the famous Worldcon was held in Helsinki. Besides many other things, WorldCon hosts the ceremony award for the Hugo Awards, something like the science fiction & fantasy Oscars. Awarded works include novels like A Man in the Castle, by Philip K. Dick (1963), The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin (1970), Neuromancer, by William Gibson (1985), and both The City and the City, by China Miévile, and The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi, which won in 2010. Books that became instant classics because the (global) community of fantasy wished so, in a period when respect was paramount and when the haters couldn’t get organized to make a fuss or boycott even the most sacred (and long-running) award given to the artists of a genre that has usually felt discriminated but has also always looked the other way every time it has been accused of discrimination. Because this is what happened in the year 2013 when a group of haters got together to bring back the genre to its essence1, to stop the awards from ending up in the hands of those who use them to think about racism, ecology, or sexism – to end up on the shelves of someone who writes the usual stories about white, tough guys killing aliens2 instead.
The leader of this unique ‘tea party‘ was an awful writer named Larry Correia. The campaign he set in motion had the goal of nominating one of his novels, something he achieved. The novel was horrible, but his followers didn’t care. What his followers, which were labeled Sad Puppies –and, a year later, because this thing didn’t end there, Rabid Puppies– wanted was a ridiculous and angry call for attention3, to boast, as I said, of hater extremism, to ruin –like your average rabid harasser– that which could never be theirs. ¿And what happened? They accomplished their goal, but it was all for naught. Yes, they sneaked in their novels among the finalists, but there was no way any of those was going to win an award because the people, the great (even if silent) majority quickly realized what it was all about. And, as the winner of this year award (The Obelisk Gate, 2018) the Afro-American N.K. Jemisin, who also won the last year’s award –an historic event– said, this sort of tea party “was finally neutralized.”
THE TRUMP’S EFFECT
To Jemisin, the great winner of this year’s awards –where women won 15 of 17 Hugos (a milestone)– the fantasy genre can teach the real world some things. “With the Hugos,” she said, “the Puppies managed to sneak in their nominees, and they were awful [books]. But it didn’t take long to realize it wasn’t just that the novels were bad but also conservative, racists, and rightist. People reacted in time.” In fact, her last year’s victory –The Fifth Season– was understood as a victory against this whining group of frustrated white men.
To Jemisin, what is happening at a global scale, with Donald Trump and his acolyte at the forefront, is similar to what is happening in, as she says, the “microcosmos, the hatchery, the laboratory” that is the fantasy world/genre. “I hope it [Trumpism] will follow the same route as the Puppies: they [the people] will see what they [the Trumpkins?] defend, and they will react in time.”
For Charlottesville and everything else, we all hope so, Nora.
Note: I have been unable to find the source of those Jemisin quotes, even the one about the microcosmos and the laboratory, even though it uses a very specific language.
1 A more literal translation would be “to give back the genre/science fiction what was ¿its?” but there is no absolute possessive pronoun in English for “it”.
2 “Marcianitos,” literally, “little Martians.” In Spanish, that word is usually used condescendingly or mockingly, to refer to the idea or concept of “aliens” or about those “silly aliens” in movies, entertainment, crackpot theories, etc. It’s not about literal Martians.
3 “Golpe sobre la mesa,” literally, “banging on the table.”