Well, I had intended to be done with the whole Puppies brouhaha until next year, but as it turned out I had one more thing I wanted to address. Any blatant failures I blame on insomnia; any unintentional literary genius is, of course, all me.
This one goes out to George R R Martin, though I rather doubt he’ll ever read it, because he, more than anyone else, is the inspiration for this post.
Fandom didn’t win.
Fandom didn’t lose either.
Fandom, for the most part, probably didn’t even know that this whole thing was going on.
I’m going to introduce a phrase here that’s probably familiar to anyone involved in tabletop gaming, and less so to the people who have social lives that don’t revolve around painful levels of nerdity.
“The Local Meta”.
You see, for while we might be playing the same game as the folks over in Wichita, we’re not playing it with the same people. So what we define as “the state of the game” isn’t quite identical.
It’s the local meta.
What’s dominant in one local meta might be scarce as hen’s teeth in another, though the internet has whittled away somewhat at the individual character that previously defined such things. Still, that unique combination of players, and the things they play with, means that larger events often see a clash of local metas vying for dominance.
But here’s the thing: They’re all part of fandom. No matter how much they might seem like “the state of the game” to someone who’s caught up in a particular group, it’s just… the local meta. The small part of fandom defined by the people who make it up.
And I think that’s what George R R Martin, and a lot of the people who share his viewpoint on the Hugos, have forgotten.
You can’t call the outcome of the 2015 Hugos “a victory for Fandom”.
The Sad Puppies are part of “Fandom”.
Hell, even the Rabid Puppies are part of fandom. Well… probably. I do suspect that, of anyone on the Puppies side of things, the RPs are the most likely to be operating on a purely ideological level with little to no interest in SF. But at least some of them are likely legitimate fans of the genre.
What they were not, by and large, was part of Worldcon’s little slice of fandom. Not part of Worldcon’s local meta. This may have changed. The thousand or so Puppies of various stripes may decide to stick it out, even expand on their numbers for next year.
Who knows, they might even decide to go to the actual convention.
And if they do; if, as Larry Correia has put it a few times, his side intends to keep showing up, then Worldcon is going to have to come to grips with a shift in its meta. A change in its character. There will be new players in the mix, who are going to shake things up, maybe not as much as they did this year, but I think we can safely assume that the Hugo is going to be fairly political for a few years yet.
Unfortunately, while in wargaming one meta is usually proven to be, and more importantly accepted as, superior, here I fear we will have no easy resolution, no cool, impartial analysis. The sides here will not accept accept defeat gracefully and concede the field, nor will they win graciously and extend a hand to their opponents.
This will be a bar fight, a brawl. A grand melee where the only thing that matters is mustering more bodies to throw into the breach, and where ideological dissension will undoubtedly be punishable by exile.
A fight to the last fan standing. Well, the last fan standing from a relatively minor faction, surrounded by masses of people who just want to read a good book and don’t particularly care about the author’s politics.