He made the comment after a successful campaign to swamp the nomination process triggered a nasty fight which has now degenerated into an all-out battle over the future of the award. The fallout has been reported widely, by The Atlantic, The Guardian, Slate, and Entertainment Weekly.
The short version is that two online groups posted lists of suggested titles and urged those who agreed with their own decidedly right of center political/cultural leanings to pay the $40 it costs to vote and swamp the nomination process – and they succeeded.
Two authors have responded by withdrawing their nominated works from the awards.
Annie Bellet withdrew her short story “Goodnight Stars,” posting “I am not a ball. I do not want to be a player. This is not what my writing is about.”
In response the World Science Fiction Society, which runs the Hugo Awards said,
“This year is the first time in the history of the Hugo Awards that a finalist has withdrawn a work after announcement of the finalist shortlist. Nominees with sufficient nominating votes to make the shortlist have in the past declined nomination as Finalists; however, this has always happened before the shortlist was announced.”
Black Gate, a fanzine, has withdrawn as well although they did so too late to change the ballot.
Connie Willis also withdrew as a presenter at the award ceremony saying,
“I’ve essentially been told to engage in some light-hearted banter with the nominees, give one of them the award, and by my presence–and my silence–lend cover and credibility to winners who got the award through bullying and extortion. Well, I won’t do it. I can’t do it. If I did, I’d be collaborating with them in their scheme.”
Bottom line for librarians: Many Science Fiction and Fantasy fans may see this year’s round of winners as tainted no matter who wins. Unfortunately, an award librarians have relied on for years to highlight the best in two very popular genres is now suspect and, unless a solution can be found, other awards may be vulnerable to similar hijacking.