Sad Puppies

     More highlights from my fabulous vacation trip to the Pacific Northwest.
     Friday, Aug. 21:
     I wanted a nice, restful few days at the World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane. A time to get away from the world’s legal and political strife.
     But nooooo …
     Eastern Washington seems to be burning down. The city has been redubbed Smokane, and a bizarre form of politics seems to have corrupted the Hugo Awards voting.
     A whole bunch of people are upset.
     I’m not going to attempt a full explanation. Google Sasquan and Sad Puppies if you’re interested in the details.
     Suffice it to say that a few obsessive writers/publishers who believe that science fiction should be limited to tales of heroic males blowing up planets or dragons or something have gamed the award nominating system to combat the pernicious effect of women, minorities and/or interesting plots on the minds of innocent sci-fi readers.
     It’s being compared to Gamergate. (You can look that up too.)
     As a result of this, “No Award” is among the favorites in several of the 16 award categories.
     I have no idea why anyone would think this is important enough to bother about, but political arguing and sensitivity seem inescapable.
     You’re either too sensitive or too politically correct, or more likely, both.
     What’s even more depressing is that I find out that the free book I won at a game show session is written by the guy who coined the term “sad puppies.”
     There are two guys with guns on the cover, an emblem with a sword, and a blurb on the back that includes the phrase, “It is run with an iron fist by a brutal warlord …”
     I’m not going to read it. It might have a bad effect on my impressionable mind.
     Saturday, Aug. 22:
     I am the only person in a very large hotel’s fitness room.
     I feel thin!
     (NOTE TO SELF: I’m not thin. I’ve got to stop saying that. I need to get back to Southern California.)
     Later, I have an ice cream cone.
     The convention may be making me feel thin, but it’s also making me feel stupid. A Science and Technology of Discworld panel consists of a geologist, a biologist, a paleontologist, a computer engineer and a couple of programmers.
     Discworld is one of my favorite things but I may not have been qualified to read the books.
     The highlight of the day – and a lesson for democracy – is the Hugo Award ceremony in the evening in front of a packed performing arts center audience.
     “No Award” wins five times.
     In the 60-year history of the Hugo Awards, “No Award” has won only five times before. The Sad Puppies have been thoroughly routed.
     This has been my dream for American democracy for a long time. I long for the day when I can vote for “None of the Above” in government elections. If all the alternatives are bad, why should we be stuck with any of them?
     Once again, science fiction shows us the way to a better future.
     Sunday, Aug. 23:
     Quote of the day: “Plucky teens make great rulers.”
     Yes, I’m taking that completely out of context, but it makes me think. Maybe we’ve got this age-restriction thing for high government office backwards.
     Instead of requiring a president to be at least 35, we should require him or her to be at most, say, 25.
     Look at our crop of presidential contenders. Are you going to seriously say that experience is a good thing?
     Consider how idealistic you were when you were young and how cynical you are if you’re old. (If you’re not cynical, you’re not paying attention.)
     Consider how much less you (or at least most of you) needed corrupting money and material possessions when you were young.
     We want our food fresh and wholesome. Why shouldn’t our politicians be the same?
     With kids running things, we old people and can relax and let them show us how to work things.
     Yet again, science fiction shows us the way to a better future.

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