There was a big controversy in the science-fiction community last month when it emerged that the 2023 Hugo Awards, decided in October at the world convention in Chengdu, China, had inexplicably disqualified a few prominent entries from the list of nominations.Those quietly dropped included R.F. Kuang’s bestselling Babel and Xiran Jay Zhao’s Iron Widow, prompting suspicion that they might have triggered Beijing’s censorship filters. Even an entry by the legendary Neil Gaiman was disqualified.
A couple of heads have rolled since then, but the mystery remains. It should not surprise us that China’s ‘sensitivities’ had something to do with the cancellations, which came to light because of the transparent process of nominating and awarding the Hugos. Beijing’s reputation for censorship is well-deserved, but the last few months have seen writers and artists being de-platformed in Germany and the United States for expressing support for Palestinians.
It is simultaneously laughable and outrageous for Ranjit Hoskote to be accused of anti-Semitism, as some deluded German organizers have done, because he once signed an open letter supporting the Palestinian cause. Now, there always was politics in literature and art. A decade ago, the Hugos were targeted by groups of authors and fans who felt that the awards had been captured by the progressive left, often going to writers and themes that emphasized racial and sexual diversity.
Calling themselves Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies, they tried to promote their preferred candidates through block voting, before rules were changed to fortify the process against such operations. Progressives won that fight. More broadly, progressives dominate the world of literature.Read more on livemint.com