There is a great post up by Novel Ninja that provides a great overview of what Sad Puppies is all about and where it came from.
What does this have to do with the Hugo Awards?
Unless you’ve managed to avoid the gossip, name-calling, groaning, kvetching, and snarky commentary on blogs and Facebook groups dedicated to science fiction and fantasy, then you know about the controversy about the Awards. If not, here’s a quick primer.
The Hugo Awards (established in 1953 as the Science Fiction Achievement Awards) are a set of awards for excellence in the field of science fiction and fantasy; while it’s historically focused on written literature, its categories also cover movies, television, documentaries, graphic novels, music, fan-targeting magazines, and so on. It’s administered through the World Science Fiction Society, and voted on by paying members of the World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon). WSFS describes a Hugo as “science fiction’s most prestigious award,” a claim echoed by many other reputable sources as well.
It’s also a very inclusive award process. It’s open to anyone, anyone at all, who buys at least a supporting membership for that year’s WorldCon. Considering that many publishers will provide free ebooks of the nominated titles, it’s also a great way to sample what a large population considers to be the best that SF&F has offered in the previous year. Publishers do this on a voluntary basis, recognizing the prestige of a Hugo win, as a courtesy to WorldCon members who may not have already read all the nominated titles.
Yet this claim — that of both its prestige and its openness — is where the controversy begins. The Hugo Awards are the SF&F awards, world wide; and they’re awarded at WorldCon, the SF&F convention, world wide. Last year’s WorldCon, held in London, was the second-largest event in the history of the World Science Fiction Convention, surpassed only by the one held in 1984, and clocking in a massive 7,951 attendees.