Brad Torgersen the flaming liberal (no really he has a flamethrower) of Sad Puppies has some extremely sage advice on the wisdom of voting No Award in the upcoming Hugo awards and what it will reveal about who really loves Science Fiction and who is just having a hissy fit because they can’t have their own way. He cribs from the example of the ancient Israelite king Solomon.
Now that the internet is cooling down from its 15-minute rage nozzle episode (over the Sad Puppies 3 slate) I’d like to talk about something I see being floated a lot, among friends and critics alike: that the presence of the Sad Puppies 3 slate so thoroughly roils the voting waters, men and women of good conscience must vote “No Award” on their ballots. For those not in the know, the Hugo awards — Science Fiction & Fantasy literature’s self-labeled “most prestigious award” — the “No Award” option allows voters to pick a thumbs-down selection, in the event that none of the other works or people in a given category measure up to that voter’s expectations. In other words, if you have five flavors of ice cream to pick from, and you like none of them, you vote “No Award” for that category, and NO AWARD then becomes your primary selection
Historically, this almost never happens. At least in the literary categories, like Best Novel. Never has NO AWARD swept an entire fiction selection out of the running for a Hugo trophy. But there’s a lot of talk that this is precisely what’s going to happen by August 2015. Several editors, many significant and long-time fans, and even many relatively young fans, writers, and podcasters are all buzzing about how the “solution” to Sad Puppies, is to nuke the Hugos from NO AWARD orbit — because it’s the only way to be sure.
I find this to be peculiar and contradictory talk, for a field which has also been buzzing hotly about how it loves Science Fiction and it loves Fantasy, and what a shame it’s going to be to have to destroy the award in order to preserve and protect it from falling into the hands of the “wrong” voters or the “wrong” lists.
Have none of these individuals ever heard of the Judgment of Solomon?
If not, here’s a refresher from Sunday School: King Solomon had two mothers come before him, challenging each other for custody of a single baby. Unable to determine which mother had right of guardianship, Solomon said the the baby would be cut in half, so that one half would go to each mother. One of the women said, “Fine, kill the baby, so that neither of us shall have it,” while the actual mother of the child said, “No, she can have my son, just please don’t kill him!” Thus Solomon knew immediately who the real mother was. Because the actual mother’s love prevented her from seeing harm come to the child, even if it meant giving the child up.
The way you prove to the world you love a thing, is not to cut it in half — so that nobody gets anything.
The way you prove to the world that you love a thing, is to see the thing preserved. Maybe it winds up in the hands of somebody you don’t think deserves it, or because you don’t like how the thing got there in the first place. But declaring, “Cut it in half,” reveals a jealous possessiveness that belies any love that may be felt.