All Fiction has a Message

So the Hugo Award nominations for this year have been announced, but with a different kind of controversy this time round. Usually it’s about a lack of representation in the awards, or them not reflecting modern sci-fi. This time however it was about the people nominated.

You don’t want to google anything about Vox Day/Theodore Beale. He’s a truly despicable person, and incredibly racist/sexist/homophobic.

All of this has been talked about lots elsewhere by far more eloquent people. The latest post by Natalie Luhrs on Radish Reviews links to a lot of those discussions. Instead I want to talk about ‘message fiction’.

Part of this drive by the right wing/complete twat branch of the SFF community to get their own nominated seems to be to get ‘revenge’ for all the supposed ‘message fiction’ that is pushed by the more liberal part of the community. ‘Message fiction’ seems to stand for anything that reflects modern humanity. You know, diverse and fascinating instead of stuck with a 1950’s view of sexism and racism. Apparently people like Vox Day object to this being part of the community and want it to go away.

Well, I’m sorry to say, but all fiction has a message. It’s all ‘message fiction’.

The nut-job part of the community might say that the more liberal SFF books are pushing agenda because of what they say, but so are the works from people like Vox Day. They’re just giving a different, and very unpleasant message.

Every single book has something to say, from the something simple like fun is good, to an allegory on modern socioeconomic circumstances. Pretending that some books don’t does a disservice to the medium.

And I’ll go further than that, I’ll say some books have good messages and others bad ones. Those that promote sexism, racism and homophobia definitely fall into the later camp, and should have no place on the Hugo ballot. I know the awards don’t work like that, but that doesn’t change what I think about it.

Works that promote a view of humanity as it is today, as a diverse and bizarre and beautiful species, deserve to be championed and applauded (if they’re good books of course) for reflecting who we are.

Those that don’t, and try to drag us backwards should be ignored. I understand the desire to keep politics separated from the art, but you can’t with anything created by humans. Who we are filters through to what we make.

Everything we create as humans has a message in it, and I firmly believe there are good messages and bad ones. I know that is controversial to many, but frankly when the SFF community – and hell the geek community at large – is associated with so much sexism and racism, it’s time to exclude those people who peddle messages of hate and division and who don’t reflect what the community is truly like.

So I say people like Vox Day shouldn’t be allowed on the Hugo ballot. Because having him on there is a damning indictment of our community.