The annual Hugo Awards were this weekend, celebrating sci-fi and fantasy literature (and some non-literature) that captivated audiences during the ever-stressful year 2021. But as creators gathered to enjoy their peers’ performance and were honored to be nominated, the awards ceremony came under fire for one of the companies sponsoring the show.
In particular, US defense contractor Raytheon Technologies. Founded in 2020 following a merger between the Raytheon Company and United Technologies Corporation, their primary focus is: weapons for the military, and they are one of the largest defense manufacturers in the world. (A much of their income comes from the US government.) The company announced its presence when WorldCon, the sci-fi convention in Washington, DC where the awards take place, announced Raytheon’s Intelligence and Space division as a sponsor to take pictures with at the red carpet event that opened the ceremony.
The reaction has been sharp among the sci-fi authoring community. Most of the comments in the above tweet point to the gloom of war profiteers finding a way to capitalize on a celebration of the typically progressive speculative science fiction genre. Some were quick to point out that it’s just one branch of the company that does the sponsorship, but for many more people, the fact that a company specializing in rockets and drones primarily has a space division is troubling in itself. . It’s easily reminiscent of how Marvel Comics planned to”to form a team‘ with defense contractor Northrop Grumman in an effort ‘to positively focus on aerospace technology and engineering’. What eventually happened was that Marvel canceled the partnership shortly after it was announced, and the comic meant to promote this was as bad as it sounded if you knew who Northrop Grumman was.
At the time of writing, DisCon is yet to speak about partnering with Raytheon for the event. For now, fans are feeling soured that a night that should have been about a genre they loved had to run out against a reality they hate.
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