Wednesday, August 26, 2015

French View of the Sad Puppies

Les « Sad Puppies » n’auront pas les Hugo Awards, prix littéraires de science-fiction

Part of the fun of reading a foreign language is getting a very different perspective on issues. As a science-fiction fan, I've been curious what the Europeans would make of this year's "Sad Puppy" affair. Sure enough, I found an article about it in Le Monde, the French "newspaper of record."

For anyone who's completely unfamiliar with the story, Wired magazine has a lengthy account of the Sad Puppies affair.

So what did Le Monde have to say about all this? Here's my attempt at a translation. As always, I'd appreciate any corrections.

The Sad Puppies Won't Get Hugo Awards, Science-Fiction Literary Prizes

The "Sad Puppies" movement, a politically conservative group of science-fiction fans, has lost their bet.

During the Hugo Awards, one of the most prestigious science-fiction literary prizes, the candidates supported by the group were left empty-handed, with no prizes. The prize for best novel, the most prestigious, was awarded to the Chinese author Liu Cixin for "The Three Body Problem." 

The Sad Puppies presented themselves as defenders of a conservative type of science fiction and of the general public. For three years, they accused left-wing writers and readers of practicing selection by political correctness, which, de facto, excluded conservative authors. At the very heart of the Sad Puppies, a second group, the "Rabid Puppies," sometimes given to overtly misogynist and racist speech, formed this year under the leadership of a handful of ultraconservative writers.

No Prizes in Five Categories

The Sad Puppies were accused of attempting a veritable hijack of the Hugo Awards ceremony, whose nominees and prize-winners are chosen by the vote of the public. During the nomination step, they had managed to place a very great number of their candidates in the different prize categories--in five categories only authors supported by the Sad Puppies were in competition.

Nevertheless, this stunt seems to have provoked a storm of opposition to the movement--participation in the final vote, which is subject to purchase of a ticket to one of the greatest science-fiction conventions in the world, greatly increased for the 2015 gathering. About 6,000 people participated in the final vote (almost a 60% increase over what was reported in 2014), and the result ended in a debacle for the Sad Puppies. None of the candidates featured on their list of "recommended votes" received a prize--in the five categories where only candidates supported by the group were in the running, the voters preferred to award no prize.


Le Monde generally gets a better quality of comment that most web sites, and since there's only one so far, I'll translate it too.

Azimov, 8/26/2015--17h53

Obscurantism reveals itself in all climates. I understand these individuals perfectly; they are totally correct to distrust ideas that depart from the traditional frame of Earthlings. Have no doubt, these writings amount to the promotion of reconciliation with aliens and of transcendence without religious basis (if you doubt that, see the Hyperion Saga). Worse, there are even brilliant writers like Lois MacMaster Bujold (Vorkosigan saga) capable of very subtly defending feminist theories! Oh, bring on Farenheit 451!

Final Thoughts

Well, the comment was hilarious. 

I had half-expected the article to make a connection between the Puppies and the various far-right groups that are vexing Europe, but it never did. Perhaps it's only people in the US who think they see that connection.

I didn't find anything in Italian, but I did find a Spanish article about the Hugo Awards in El País, the big Spanish newspaper, but it focuses on the marvel that an American award went to a Chinese writer. It devotes only two-and-a-half paragraphs to Puppygate, much of it material translated from English-language sources.