Politics belong in science fiction

There was a time when science fiction was a place to try out new ideas, away from the conventional wisdom of “mundane” society. It was a place where speculation replaced groupthink, and writers with different political views, like Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur Clarke, shared readers, magazines, and conventions.

But there was a time when this kind of openness was a big part of intellectual life in the United States. From what’s going on in science fiction right now, that time seems to be over. Now, it seems that a writer’s politics are the most important thing, and authors with the wrong politics are no longer acceptable, at least to a loud crowd that has taken over much of the science fiction fandom world.

The Hugo Awards are given out at the World Science Fiction Society’s convention (“Worldcon”), and those who attend and support the convention choose the nominees and winners. The Hugo is one of science fiction’s oldest and most prestigious awards, but in recent years, critics have said that the award process and much of science fiction fandom have become too political.
This is what Larry Correia, who was nominated for a Hugo this year, has found to be true. Correia, who has written many popular science fiction books like Monster Hunter International and Hard Magic, gets a lot of criticism because he is a libertarian who leans to the right. It makes you wonder if Robert Heinlein could win a Hugo Award today. (The answer is likely not.)

Here’s how Correia describes what’s happened since he was nominated on his blog:

In the last few days, the lies and rumours have been so ridiculous that people my wife hasn’t talked to in years called her to say they were worried about her safety because she was married to such a horrible, awful, hateful, bad person. I wish I was making this up. Don’t just believe me. In the comments of my last Hugo post and on my Facebook page, my readers have been collecting a lot of them. Recently, people have been typing my name into Google. Also, don’t forget to read the comments to the different articles. They’re wonderful…. I’ve been saying for a long time that the awards are biassed against authors because of their personal beliefs. Authors can either support left-leaning causes or keep their mouths shut. If you disagree with someone in public, you will be sabotaged and slandered. Message or identity politics are now much more important than quality or entertainment. I was hurt because I said this. I knew that when a right-winger got in, they would be criticised and voted against, not because of how good their art was, but because of their unacceptable beliefs.

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