Bored yet? Sorry. Or you've probably heard me complain about this elsewhere.
It struck me that the Hugo ballot-stuffers have come up with an interesting false dichotomy as part of their conspiracy theory. SF/F is essentially to be divided into two kinds of book. One is Art, beloved of "social justice warriors", with improving themes about disabled black lesbians. The other is rip-roaring action, published by Baen, with explosions and guns described in fetishistic detail.
Obviously (the argument goes) no-one likes the first kind of book, and everyone likes the second kind of book, so if the second kind of book can't win a Hugo, that's indicative of a massive conspiracy to ruin SF by promoting improving works in the first category.
Unsurprisingly, this is guff; it's quite possible to mistrust Art (which is why I went straight No Award in Short Story) and want books where exciting things happen, without existing on a diet of Ringoesque teenage power fantasies. Ancillary Justice has plenty of exciting things happen! (They could even happen to disabled black lesbians, why not?)
However, this dichotomy is quite effective if one doesn't question it. Here we are, in our ivory tower, admiring the Art and giving each other Hugos, while the hoi polloi are out there in vastly greater numbers enjoying their entertainment to which we are entirely irrelevant. But, as Dr Goldacre would say, I think you'll find it's more complicated than that.
This struck me because Dave Freer (of the "NO AUTHOR" rant, which as previously discussed is grade-A bollocks) is also weighing in on the current spat over videogames and their often hideous misogyny, which is arguably a similar quarrel between "real gamers" who don't want the likes of Sarkeesian to ruin everything with a little critical analysis and, well, the rest of us who are no longer 14 and are unlikely to play a videogame just because it has breasts in it.
This is interesting partly because as a rule the sad puppies steer well clear of overt bigotry, Corriera's idiotic decision to nominate Beale aside, and I'm willing to believe that's because most of them aren't bigots. Conversely, the videogames spat is entirely, overtly, about anti-feminist ideas. But, also because the same dichotomy is emerging there; if a videogame isn't Call of Duty or Gears of War or something else with explosions and a complete lack of self-awareness, it's Depression Quest and dull as dishwater.