Just when I think I’ve definitely not got any more links to add to the Puppy Kefuffle Timeline, I find a blog post I had never read before that falls right at the start of the first Sad Puppy campaign. I was looking because of a comment elsewhere made me want to see what Puppy-aligned people had been saying about the Hugo Awards *prior* to Sad Puppies 3. People who have followed the kerfuffle are nodoubt familiar with the position Puppies hold now but what were they saying prior, before all the shouting started?
The answer, on the whole, is not a lot or at least not where it is visible.
However, this post by Sarah Hoyt at her blog stands out:
Before people think Human Wave is cool and try to imitate it, we must make them know it exists. Besides, a lot of them walked away from the fifth “and then everyone died” supposed space-opera and aren’t reading anymore. We need to let them know we’re here.
Only right now, no one does. We’re out in the hall and making bad jokes, but they can just ignore us. We must get in, so we can throw rubbery rolls at the self-adoring speakers.
Yesterday I had a brain storm and I thought: Awards. (I also made a typo, the rest of you — infants — have been having WAY too much fun with.)
Before you pelt me with rubber rolls – even two years ago, I’d have been the first to say “oh, not awards, they’re SOOOOOOO stuffy.”
But the thing is in indie publishing, and in all publishing as it moves to Amazon and other electronic venues, being able to put on the cover a little seal that says “winner of the blah blah award” (we’re not calling it a blah blah award. No, you can’t talk me into it.) does give you a huge leg up. Most of the readers who are rediscovering SF (or anything else) because they can finally find stuff they want to read, see the Hugo and it doesn’t say to them “Award given by small group of people who attend Worldcon.” They see “Award” which means someone other than the author’s cat read this masterpiece and approved of – or at least finished—it. That means they’re twice as likely to buy it.
It is like looking at the branching point of an alternate timeline – a nicer one really. I don’t want people to see this as me mocking Hoyt for not getting her award started – it isn’t a trivial task and Hoyt herself pointed out the complexities. What is relevant here is that ‘movements’ of people often require something that helps coordinate them motivationally and not just organisationally i.e. a reason to make an effort to do something. In this case Hoyt’s ‘Human Wave’ movements was in a chicken-egg/catch-22: an award was an idea to get that kind of motivational coordination BUT to get an award off the ground you already need that kind of motivational coordination.
What is noticeable is that the difference between current Puppy rhetoric about awards (that they don’t matter and everybody ignores them and please vote in the Dragon Awards) and Sarah Hoyt’s viewpoint at the time.
In our timeline, Larry Correia had already begun his attempt to get himself nominated for a Hugo (in what would become retrospectively called Sad Puppies 1). Larry offered a simpler task (freep an existing award) to his larger fanbase.