Monday, April 02, 2012

Did We Live and Fight in Vain?

You probably have heard by now that Christopher Priest was unhappy with this year's Clarke Award shortlist, going so far as to say that the panel should be disbanded, the award skip 2012 entirely, and that all the fields of Carthage be sown with salt so that nothing will grow there ever again. (I may slightly overstate his position, but only slightly.)

It was a quite entertaining rant, of the kind we've seen very often over the past few years -- but I still stand by what I originally wrote about it on Tumblr:
Providing the Masterclass version of “this award is illegitimate because I disagree with the nominees.”
And I don't know if any more than that needs to be said.

Oh, certainly, much more has been said -- by lots of people I won't bother to link to here, Scalzi and VanderMeer and Morgan and others -- and will continue to be said, because we are a field that just will not shut up about ourselves.

But Priest's argument is a standard one, and we've all utterly discounted that same argument when it comes in a form less impressive and well-written. The standard reply still holds: you don't get exactly what you want in an award unless you run the award, and, even then, no one else will likely care. Tastes differ, violently. And just because you have a strong opinion doesn't mean that anyone will agree with you or care.

Someone else will "do a Priest" when the Hugo nominees emerge, and when the Nebula winners are announced -- hell, I may well be one of those people; I'm not proud, and I've done it before. We do argue with each other, to promote the works and strains in the field we think are most important and worth celebrating. But we should always remember that building up is not just immensely more difficult than tearing down, but also immensely more necessary and vital.

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