But I do see the puppies' point. Write a creative, innovative, well-written book? Get an award, unless your political tone or personal politics are right-wing.
And yet Brandon Sanderson, current leader of the Sad Puppies, actually won a Hugo just two years ago!
Write a good yarn with spaceships and ray guns and wizards and shit? No award.
Funny, seems to me like the last several winners (at least for Best Novel) have all been good yarns with spaceships and ray guns and wizards and shit. (Where "and shit" is defined as other classic SF elements like time travel.)
* 2014's Ancillary Justice was a classic space opera full of spaceships and rayguns. I actually approached this one with caution, because I'd heard people say it was all about gender politics, and I don't like being lectured to, even by people I agree with. I'm not a fan of preachy SF, even when it's preaching for my side. To my surprise, the only thing even resembling "gender politics" was an artificial creature pretending to be human who had a hard time figuring out when to use "he"vs. "she", because artificial creatures don't have sexes. It reminded me more of my own troubles trying to remember whether a table is male or female in Spanish than anything to do with politics.I was very pleasantly surprised by this one!
* 2013's Redshirts was a lighthearted comedy parodying Star Trek. Yes, John Scalzi is the Puppies nominee for Most Evil Writer Evar!!1!, but this was a fun, easy read, without a whiff of politics. (And it won the same year that Sanderson won, so I think it's pretty hard to say that the voters were choosing authors based on their personal politics.)
* 2012's Among Others was a pastoral fantasy set in 1970s Britain. It did have a message, but not exactly a political one. The protagonist was a young girl who discovers she has some magic powers and can see elves and stuff. And she's a huge nerd who reads science fiction every spare minute, and goes on and on and on about her favorite authors, like Heinlein and Asimov and other greats of the era (some of whom are not well remembered today). So, the message was:old SF is good! I actually found it a little too preachy on the topic, and I suspect that the message did help it win the award. Still...not exactly what the Puppies seem to be talking about though. In fact, I suspect they'd thoroughly agree with the message, if they were willing to read something written by a gu-u-ur-ul.
* 2011's Blackout/All Clear was a story about time-travelers studying WWII London, who get stuck. Connie Willis is a great writer, and, while this was a bit dark, it was still a page turner. The only message I saw was "Nazis are bad"; something I think few people would disagree with. (If you do disagree, please don't tell me. I want to retain some faint faith in humanity.)
I have to go all the way back to 2010 to find something that even had a strong political element. There were two winners that year. The Windup Girl was a post-disaster technothriller, full of fancy biotech, and insofar as it had a message, it seemed to be pro-science / anti-politics. The right probably hated that the disaster was climate change, but the left probably hated its positive portrayals of GMOs. (And the Slashdot crowd should love its anti-patent message.) As for The City &The City, well, yes, China Mieville is an extreme uberleftie, but the main message I saw in this book was:life under a Soviet-style dictatorship sucks. Which is not exactly something I'd expect the Puppies to disagree with.
Write complete dreck but make the main character a genderqueer half-Mexican half-African American differently-abled merperson? Award!
Huh. I must have missed that one. Was it one of the short stories? I'm willing to bet it's not Sanderson's 2013 Hugo-winning Novella, though.
Alastair Reynolds has only been nominated once and has never won.
Yeah, tastes differ. I'm not a big fan of Reynolds' work myself. It was decent, but didn't make me want to go back for more. There's plenty of authors I love who haven't gotten nominated, though, so I'm vaguely sympathetic. The difference is that I assume that this is a matter of differing tastes, rather than some grand political conspiracy. Especially since I'd have to imagine a conspiracy that hates both the left and the right, to explain all the authors on my list!