If the infrequency of my blog and facebook posts, tweets, memes, pictures of cats doing silly things, etc, was insufficient evidence, I really don't get this social media/internet fandom thing. Mostly it just seems like a lot of folk bloviating on Facebook, and I prefer to do my bloviating in person, like at a party or a bar when you can pin a guy down and really annoy him. The whole Hugo controversy has been, historically, never a source of any particular concern for me. Occasionally I would brush up against it in the form of a facebook message or a blog post, would retreat rapidly as if touching a hot even and think to myself, 'thank God I'll never need to involve myself in that business.'
It is a good thing, a healthy thing, to be reminded every so often of how easy it is for life to make you a liar.
Some background: I wrote a book called The Builders, about a team of woodland animals called together for one final act of nefarious violence, sort of a Peckinpah Redwall. I like to think that it is funny, mean, and well-written. It is, indisputably, utterly apolitical. It sat on my hard drive for a while, and then the kind folk at Tor.com bought it for the new novella list they were putting together. People seemed to sort of like it, and it sold pretty well for a novella, and fans sent me cool art in the shape of the characters, and I cashed a check and felt generally good about myself. Maybe six weeks ago my editor at Tor contacted me to let me know I was part of the Rabid Puppy Hugo slate for best novella. (If you don't know who the Rabid Puppies are, I'm not going to get into it here. Google 'Hugo controversy', or better yet, go outside and take a long walk, or read a book, or hug a child. Your child, I mean. Or an appropriate child at least, not just anyone's child. Where were we?) My reactions were something like: “Who? Them? Why? Aren't they boycotting Tor? Do I know what the world 'boycott' means?” My team at Tor suggested it was best to just ignore the thing, and in deference to their greater expertise on the matter I decided to do just that, which played well to the broad apathy which is my defining characteristic. In retrospect I probably wish I had asked to be taken off said list, though apparently Alistair Reynolds did just that and had no luck. The matter seemed irrelevant when, midway through April, I had yet to be contacted from anyone at the Hugo's. It seemed my dreams of putting a silver phallus on my desk would have to be pushed back another year.
You can imagine my surprise when my twitter feed blew up Tuesday with the announcement that the Builders had been nominated in the best novella category.
That brings us to the present. It's been, frankly, a frustrating week. An essentially private person, I resent intensely having been dragged into a controversy which I had no role in creating and little interest in generally. My initial reaction was to withdraw from the contest immediately—I wrote a really nasty post to this effect, condemning all involved parties, raining rhetorical fire down from the sky, etc. 'A pox on both your houses! You won't have Dan Polansky to kick around anymore!' So on and so forth. But upon consideration, and in consultation with some of my fellow nominees, I've decided to stay in, which seems to be the least-worst option. I'm reasonably convinced it minimizes the harm which the organizers of the slate intended to do to the award itself. If you read the Builders, and you thought it was deserving of a Hugo, by all means, vote for it. If you preferred the work of one of the other fine nominees, vote for that. If you want to no-decision the lot of us, that's entirely understandable as well. As far as I'm concerned, that's the end of a matter which has already cost me more in terms of time and energy than I would have preferred to offer to anything that isn't my work, family, or friends.
But before I sign off, a quick word to those who are upset about the whole thing; don't let it get to you too much. Every moment you spend being angry, every furious blog post, every back and forth with a moron over twitter, is a small victory you have offered to your opponents. It is to you to decide if you are offended, angered, insulted. A righteous soul needs not concern themselves with the doings of fools.
As to the rest of you, the Oxford English Dictionary defines boycott as: to refuse to buy, use, or participate in (something) as a way of protesting : to stop using the goods or services of (a company, country, etc.) until changes are made.
Just, you know, as a head's up.