10 September 2015


Those who have followed this year's round of Revenge of Grandsons of the Yapping Curs know that I don't have an awful lot of respect for the yapping curs... or for the trufen. (Whether you care is another issue entirely.) I think it time to change the debate a little bit. Let's not talk about animals, but about pie.

Part of the problem with awards and "shortlists"/final ballots/nomination lists is that they are always restricted to a purportedly "manageable" number — the same amount of pie on the potential voter's plate, even if the total size of the pie is rapidly increasing. This tends toward monotony in both the pie on the plate and the winning bite, so to speak; if you want a horrific example, consider the US Congress, which has been fixed at 435 members in the House of Representatives for over a century — when the US population was less than 30% of what it is today. The corresponding limit of "five or six novels" on the final ballot was established as much by tradition from the early 1960s as anything else, when fewer than 50 eligible works were published each year (including magazine serials)... but the eligibility field now approaches 1000, and that's just from US and UK publishers!

So, where is this longwinded introduction going? Consideration of diversity — all kinds of diversity. Not just the purported "good old-fashioned storytelling" that the yapping curs purportedly champion, nor just gender/sexual orientation, nor race/ethnicity, nor literary merit ([insert deity here] forbid that a literary work being proclaimed "best" of the year be judged on literary grounds instead of the rocket ship/swordwielder on the cover!).

... I don’t really care if you put a female avatar into Assassins Creed. You can put as many women as you like into Fifa, or make the entire cast of Gears of War tough action chicks – I still won’t play those games. I don’t care about climbing a tower to reveal more of the kill-map, I don’t care about shooting people, I don’t care about winning the World Cup. You can’t put a pink bow on a tank and assume different audiences are going flock to it because you gave them some token aesthetic validation. Adding representational diversity to those kinds of games is important, but how often do we consider diversity of genre; diversity of experience?

Anon., "Video Games Have a Diversity Problem That Runs Deeper Than Race or Gender," The Guardian (10 Sep 2015) (typography Americanized, boldface emphasis supplied). n.b. The implications for "diversity" in a heavily American-centric award system of citing to a non-American publication are entirely intentional.

And perhaps that's the yapping curs' problem: They are demanding that what is granted awards — "earned" gives the process too much credit for integrity and meaningful consideration — must reflect only their own experiences. Their almost-uniformly middle-to-upper-middle-class, English-as-a-first-language, Caucasian-or-passing-for-Caucasian, Western-Abrahamic (that is, christian or jewish), white-collar-day-life experiences. As I've noted previously, it's rare for the most militaristic speculative fiction authors to have commissioned, let alone command, experience. That command-experience deficit includes, to my knowledge at this time, all of the publicly outed yapping curs... whereas I've got multiple medals earned as a real Social Justice Warrior and the better part of a decade of command experience behind them. (Note to certain yapping curs: "Platoon leader," "tank commander," and "aircraft commander" are not command positions, no matter how you warp your kewl rhetoric... and get it past editors/proofreaders who either don't know or don't give a damn.)

Sucks to be an unappreciated minority, doesn't it? Have another slice of pie... Schadenfreude Pie, specifically (although the source is Not Yapping Cur Approved).