On the Brits and the Hugo Award

Charles Stross, whose Iron Sunrise is one of five nominees for the Hugo Award for best novel, has a lengthy blog post on why all the nominees are British. It is well worth reading in its entirety but here’s some excerpts:

American SF is going through a gloom-laden period induced by external social conditions[.]


[T]he shape of American SF, as with British SF, is determined by the cultural zeitgeist, by the society’s own vision of its future. And I propose that the American future is currently uncertain, unpleasant, polarized, regimented, and pessimistic.


So: what’s almost totally absent is convincing near-future SF about a future America that is anything other than a dystopic rubbish dump. Bleakness is the new optimism. Writers living in the USA today just don’t seem enthusiastic about the near future in the way that they did as recently as the 1980’s, where at least the cyberpunk future of cliche was a vaguely habitable pastiche of the globalized present. They are, in fact, exhibiting the same canary-in-a-sociological-coalmine mallaise as British SF writers of the 1960’s and 1970’s. When the future looks grim, how on earth can you write optimistically about it?

(Emphasis in original).

I’m a fuzzy-headed warm-hearted liberal, and I think fuzzy-headed warm-hearted liberalism is an ideological stance that needs defending—if necessary, with a hob-nailed boot-kick to the bollocks of budding totalitarianism.

Charles Stross
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