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I’ve been discussing Jonathan McCalmont cynical piece here on the decline of science fiction. Interestingly, he almost predicts the flame war about this year’s Hugos, noting that any attempt to debate the quality of published science fiction results in action by the field’s “gatekeepers” to “shut things down.” Unlike the Sad/Rabid Puppies, McCalmont doesn’t call any names, but leaves it up to each faction to make up its own list of who these gatekeepers might be. In the case of the 2015 Hugos, this might well be the fans who voted No Award in several categories. Whatever, he’s right there’s been no real debate over the Puppies’ complaints.

I’ve already discussed how their particular complaints don’t hold water, but still, when you look at their nominating committee’s efforts to find high quality, “traditional” (presumably hard) science fiction to put up for awards, they didn’t really find any—at least according to my reviews. Most of what I read in the package this year was just okay work, not the kind of brilliant stories you’d want to win the award. Plus, the science content was thin, missing or, in some cases, even erroneous. Nobody really tried to grapple with scientific advance or how this might affect the human condition.

McCalmont blames this on complacency, a focus on awards and getting the next “Best of” anthology out there. It’s more likely about marketing, of course, and making money. However, the lack of hard science fiction out there means the intellectual heart of the field is missing.

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