The Hugo Awards nominations were released this week, featuring some of the best and brightest works in science fiction and fantasy — most of which are relatively well known. Then there's one nominee for Best Novelette, a short story hardly anyone had even heard of... until now. It's called Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T-Rex, by Stix Hiscock.
Photo Courtesy Stix Hiscock
So, who is Stix Hiscock? Is he some Chuck Tingle copycat riding on the coattails of sci-fi porn parody? Some right-wing heterosexual man's answer to Tingle's gay erotica, making science fiction great again (with boobs)? Or, better yet, is he Chuck Tingle himself? Turns out, none of the above.
Stix Hiscock is a woman.
In an interview with us, the author revealed that Hiscock is just one of the pen names she uses to write science fiction erotica (she wouldn't tell us her real name, so I'll keep calling her Hiscock). While Hiscock's books are self-published, they are part of the Ruby City Books family, which is why Alien Stripper is included in several of Ruby City's anthologies. Other books within the publisher's catalogue include Lustful Creatures (an alien fantasy), Angelica the Dragon Slayer, and Hiscock's debut, Half-Man Half-Horse, All Love. Hiscock has only published the two novelettes so far, both in 2016; she's working on a third one about two women at an alien bachelor party.
"Alien Stripper was written as a lark," Hiscock said. "I actually think it's quite good, and published it not expecting anything to come of it. I just wanted to add shock and a little comedy to people's day. Plus, making the cover was incredibly rewarding."
Alien Stripper Boned from Behind By The T-Rex is a fun little romp in the sheets, but it isn't exactly what we'd call "high literary art". It's about a stripper who has green skin, antennae, and three boobs that shoot laser beams from the nipples. She meets a sexy dinosaur while working at the strip club, they go back to her spaceship, and they screw for several pages. It's a harmless, silly read that fits well in the sub-genre of sci-fi porn parody. That said, it isn't a well-known novelette, even in the sci-fi erotica community. It only has a handful of ratings on Goodreads and three reviews on Amazon — two of which were directly related to the Hugo nomination.
To understand how we got to the point where Alien Stripper Boned from Behind By The T-Rex would be nominated for one of the top literary genre awards in the US, you have to travel a few years back — specifically 2013, the year the Sad Puppies emerged. The Sad Puppies were a group of sci-fi/fantasy fans who created slates of recommended nominees for various Hugo Awards. Their belief was the Hugos had gotten too political, meaning left-leaning, and they wanted more conservative writers represented. (It wasn't a coincidence that this group followed Gamergate's debut in 2012, as both shared some followers and ideals.)
However, things didn't escalate until 2015, when Castalia House owner Theodore Beale, AKA Vox Day, emerged with his own group, Rabid Puppies. Instead of providing a general slate of recommendations, Beale simply gave his followers a list and told them to vote it en masse. No surprise, it largely consisted of books and authors from his publishing company, including a Best Editor nomination for himself. Sad Puppies wasn't very successful on its own, but once the Rabid Puppies joined in a few years ago, they dominated the 2015 Hugo nominations with almost 60 nominations, and even more the year after.
However, in both years, they failed to secure almost any wins. Voters largely rejected the Puppies' slate, picking diverse writers and artists, and handing out "No Awards" in categories that were completely taken over by a slate. The World Science Fiction Society changed the rules soon after to remove the possibility of mass group slates, and those new rules went into effect this year. This has left the Sad Puppies largely obsolete, with their past couple of slates barely making a dent, but Beale is still seeking vengeance against the Hugos for not letting him win anything. Last year, Beale decided to "punk" the Hugos by getting his followers to nominate a story by Chuck Tingle, a well-known sci-fi porn parody writer. According to writer Larry Correia, who's credited with starting Sad Puppies, it was Beale's retaliation for rejecting the Puppies' slate.
"In the process [of voting for 'No Award'] they insulted disgruntled fans, and proved that they were a bunch of cliquish elitists just like I'd said they were to begin with. That's how you end up with Space Raptor Butt Invasion. Have fun with that," Correia wrote.
Unfortunately for Beale, Hugo fans largely laughed off Tingle's nomination, sharing in their mutual love (or bemusement) of the pure insanity of his work. Plus, Tingle himself used his nomination to openly mock Beale and the Rabid/Sad Puppies, mocking them on Twitter and buying up domain names like TheRabidPuppies.com for further taunts online. He even sent game developer Zoe Quinn to the awards ceremony in his place (though he didn't end up winning). Beale's plan to humiliate the Hugos ended up humiliating himself. But Beale isn't very good at learning his lesson, so he's done it again... this time with a relatively unknown writer who, amazingly, isn't a Tingle copycat. Hiscock said she didn't even know about Tingle back when she was writing Alien Stripper, and maintains Stix Hiscock is not a response to or parody of the well-known gay erotica writer.
"Dinosaurs, sex, outer space — these are important to me. It's actually been something of a shock to find out that someone else might share my interest, or that this Chuck Tingle might have beat me to the punch," Hiscock said.
Hiscock also said she didn't know anything about Beale, and seemed to be unaware (before the interview) that he was responsible for Alien Stripper getting on the ballot. She was a little hurt that he would use her novelette as a way to mock the Hugos, especially since it doesn't seem like he's even read it. (It's possible Beale picked it specifically because of the Rabid Puppies' hatred of the award-winning novelette If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love.) "I guess I'll cry a little, laugh a little. But I'll be OK. Jokes are pretty hilarious sometimes," Hiscock said.
Still, Hiscock said it's an honour to be nominated, even though she probably won't be able to attend the ceremonies in Helsinki because of the expense. And even though Beale might've gotten Alien Stripper on the ballot due to sheer pettiness, the bank error is definitely in Hiscock's favour. Book sales of Alien Stripper Boned From Behind by The T-Rex are through the roof.