The Puppies Hugo controversy really is the gift that keeps on giving. Even though the nominations closed at the end of July, the arguments continue. While we wait for the awards to be announced at this year’s WorldCon, Sasquan, held August 19 to 23 in Spokane, Washington, there is still plenty to keep bystanders entertained.

The latest controversy seems to involve some sniping between renowned science fiction writer David Gerrold, who will be the presenter for this year’s Hugos, and one of the Sad Puppies’ nominees, Lou Antonelli. Antonelli was not content merely to disagree with Gerrold; he actually sent a letter to the chief of police in Spokane calling him “insane and a public danger.” Antonelli did apologize to Gerrold afterward, though not everyone is willing to accept his apology at face value.

Natalie Luhrs has written a summary of the events that followed. Carrie Cuinn, editor of Lakeside Circus, decided not to carry a piece Antonelli had written, and paid him a kill fee instead. Antonelli posted an edited version of the letter to his Facebook, and Cuinn started receiving rape and death threats. Antonelli apologized again.

After consulting Cuinn, Sasquan determined that Antonelli’s letter to Spokane’s police chief violated its code of conduct, which would usually lead to Antonelli having his membership fee refunded and being barred from attending the convention. However, Gerrold asked that Antonelli be permitted to attend in light of his apology, and Sasquan decided to honor this request.

This is really something in the nature of a pre-game show to the kerfuffle that will invariably follow the announcement of this year’s Hugo winners (or “No Award” votes, as the case might be). No matter who wins, or whether nobody wins, some people won’t be happy, and there will be plenty of ranting and grumbling from both sides. And the Puppies will emerge determined to do even better (or worse) next year—which they might well be able to do, since Worldcon bylaws mean that no change designed to rebalance the procedure can go into effect until two years after it was proposed.

I just keep thinking of the old aphorism about academic politics being so vicious because there is so little at stake. It occurs to me that could very easily describe the politicking over literary awards, too.


  1. I don’t see why the general membership is even involved with the nomination / voting process. That just turns the Hugo’s into a People’s Choice Award. If you want an award to be respectable, it needs to be bestowed by an assembly of experts.

  2. Given that the Hugos have always been nominated and voted on by the membership of Worldcon (with perhaps an exception or two in noms process in the now 60+ years ago early iterations), they’re hardly turning into such; it’s what they’ve always been. And somehow managed to get quite a respectable reputation nonetheless. Personally, I suspect it’s because it hits a nice middle ground between “Five Person’s Choice Fantasy Award” aka the “World Fantasy Award” and open to everyone in the world. You get a fair number of folk such that winners need to have reasonable popularity, but they’re mostly people more interested in and knowledgable about the genre than a random off the street.

  3. Given the nature of the Puppy organization’s rabid core? There is no way I would bring my family into that venue.

    Terrorism rarely arrives as a complete surprise, and there have been far too many precursors/warnings this past year.

    The fact is, “rabid” creatures do dangerous things.

    I won’t bring my family into the Sad and Rabid Puppy orbit. I’ve voted. But I’ll watch the events from the safety of my home.

The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail