How The 'Sad Puppies' Internet Campaign Gamed The Hugo Awards

This post by Gavia Baker-Whitelaw originally appeared on The Daily Dot on 4/5/15.

Everyone loves to say that awards ceremonies are rigged, meaningless, or just blatant popularity contests. In the case of the most prestigious honor in the sci-fi/fantasy community, this kind of accusation now feels worryingly true.

Each year, the Hugo Awards are voted on by paid members of Worldcon, the World Science Fiction Convention. Fans nominate their favorite books, movies, and commentators, and the most popular choices make it onto a shortlist of five nominees per category. People then vote for the eventual winners, which are revealed at Worldcon in August.

This year’s nominees were announced on Saturday, and most of them came directly from a Gamergate-affiliated campaign known as Sad Puppies. By bloc-voting for a specific slate of anti-progressive authors, editors, and fans, the Sad Puppies managed to game the selection process in every major category. And yes, they did choose that name for themselves.


Read the full post on The Daily Dot.


Can Science Fiction Writers Predict Technology’s Future?

This post by Peter F. Hamilton originally appeared on New Republic on 10/17/14.

The October 1945 edition of Wireless World magazine carried an article from a young Arthur C. Clarke called “Extra Terrestrial Relays.” It was the concept of using satellites in geostationary orbit, 35,786km high, around the Earth, to beam radio signals from one continent to another. Remember Sputnik didn’t go into orbit until October 1957, and that only reached a height of 577km. So in 1945 the article was received as a grand idea, theoretically possible, but by the standards of post WWII rocketry, severely impractical.

Nonetheless, the first communication satellite to use this orbit (now named the Clarke Orbit) was Syncom 3, launched in August 1964—19 years after Clarke’s article. An article which was detailed enough to receive a patent had he sent it to the patent office instead of the magazine. Today, communication satellites are a multi-billion pound industry. Clarke drew together a number of sciences: orbital mechanics, radio design, rocketry, and extrapolated the combination perfectly. It’s one of the best examples of what people see as a science fiction writer’s job: predict the future.

If only it were that easy.


Read the full post on New Republic.