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So, why doesn’t “traditional SF” win awards? This seems to be true regardless of whether we’re talking about books, short stories or film. For example, the film Iron Man might get Academy Award nominations for sound editing and visual effects, but never for Best Picture. In the same way, Star Wars tie-in novels may have respectable sales figures, but never come anywhere near the ballot for the Hugo Award.

On the other hand, message-driven, more literary works are the standard, not only for nominations, but for actual wins at both awards. This is because they have something different or important to say. It’s about entertainment versus making a statement. It doesn’t make any difference what your statement is, it just needs to be there in order for something to be considered significant above the dross of entertainment that generally fills the airwaves, and the content of spec fiction novels.

The Sad/Rabid Puppies will complain about this, of course, as they seem to be coming from a viewpoint that SF should be only about entertainment and never about message. However, I’ve just spent a lot of space in talking about how science fiction is failing as a genre just because of this outlook. The actual science content of entertainment grade SF is low, meaning that it really undermines SF as a genre about the same way that tear-jerker sentimentality as a selling point does.

Don’t get me wrong. I love space opera. It’s just that I know it’s entertainment, and not really science fiction.

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