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What Now?

For all of you who are sick of Puppygate... I am too, but there's still a few more things that I need to say. Another day, maybe, and I will move on to happier topics.

Yes, I know about Larry Correia's response to my earlier posts and I will reply to him here... but not just now. There's another topic I need to cover first, one that I have been leading up to all along -- what the hell do we do now?

Whether you think what the Sad Puppies did is right or wrong, it's done. The ballot is out. It is what it is. So the ball is in our court now. What to do?

(Here is where I will probably piss off everybody on the anti-slate of this mess. Sorry).

Over at Making Light, and on several other sites, various rules changes are being proposed to prevent this from happening ever again. There are so many different proposals they make my head spin. More nominating slots, less nominating slots, weighted voting, eliminating the supporting memberships, outlawing slates, limiting nominees to a single nomination, juried nominations... on and on and on. The worldcon business meeting is never exactly a funfest, but if the proponents of half these proposals show up at Sasquan, this year's will be a nightmare. And will probably still be going on when MidAmericon II convenes.

I am against all these proposals. If indeed I am at Spokane, and if I can get myself up in time for the business meeting, I will vote against every one of them.

Most of them, frankly, suck. And the mere fact that so many people are discussing them makes me think that the Puppies won. They started this whole thing by saying the Hugo Awards were rigged to exclude them. That is completely untrue, as I believe I demonstrated conclusively in my last post. So what is happening now? The people on MY SIDE, the trufans and SMOFs and good guys, are having an endless circle jerk trying to come up with a foolproof way to RIG THE HUGOS AND EXCLUDE THEM. God DAMN, people. You are proving them right.

I hate what the Puppies did. It was based on false premises, and though it was not illegal, it was mean-spirited and unsportsmanlike. So how about we do NOT prove them right by rigging the rules against Sad Puppies 4? How about we try to be better than that? There is nothing wrong with the Hugo rules. If we want to defeat the Puppies, all we need to do is outvote them. Get in our own nominations. This year, the Puppies emptied the kennels and got out their vote, and we didn't. Fandom danced the usual, "oh, too busy to nominate, I will just vote on the final ballot," and for that complacency, we got blindsided. We lost. They kicked our fannish asses, and now we have the ballot they gave us. If we don't want that to happen again, we need to get out our OWN vote.

But let's not give in to our worst impulses. I do not want to disenfranchise anyone. (Well, okay, maybe a few, rabies is dangerous). The fandom I joined in 1971, the fandom I love, is open and friendly and welcoming, and has room for every shade of political opinion and literary taste. Those are values worth defending, a culture worth fighting for.

Oh, and there's another (lesser, admittedly) reason not to change the Hugo rules. The Nebulas. I have been a SFWA member since 1972, and I swear, the organization spends half its time arguing about the Nebula rules, year after year, decade after decade. I have seen a dozen "reforms" in my tenure, all in the interests of making the voting "more fair," but no matter what rules we adopt, a couple years later the bitching starts and members start demanding we change them again. It's endless. We do NOT want to open that Pandora's Box at worldcon. Change the rules to deal with the Sad Puppies, and a year or two from now we'll be changing again. Aside from adding the occasional category, or splitting one, the Hugo Awards have operated more or less the same way for decades, and that stability is part of their prestige. Let's not mess with that.

Which brings me to another proposed countermeasure: the No Award strategy.

This comes in two flavors. The hardliners propose we vote NO AWARD for everything. Every category, even the ones where the Puppies have no nominees. No Hugo Awards at Sasquan, whatsoever. We'll show them. Rather than letting them move into our house, we will burn it to the ground. "We had to destroy the village in order to save it." It worked so well in Vietnam.
All I've got to say about this idea is, are you fucking crazy?

The other approach is less radical. Vote NO AWARD in all the categories that are All Puppy. In the others, chose between the nominees (there are a few) that did not appear on either the Sad Puppy or Rabid Puppy slate, and place all the rest, the SP/RP candidates, under No Award.

That's less insane than the "No Award For Everything" idea, but only a little bit. Sorry, I will not sign on for this one either. For a whole bunch of reasons. For starts, the Puppies are already proclaiming that "No Award" equals victory for them (though sometimes it seems as though they believe anything that happens constitutes victory for them). Also, near as I can tell from reading the blogs, it appears that some of the Sad Puppy candidates never consented to joining their slate, and that none of the Rabid Puppies were ever asked if they wanted to be included (I am ninety per cent certain that none of the films or TV shows in the two Dramatic Presentations category were ever contacted). There are also a whole bunch of people -- all the editors except Vox Day, for starts -- who may or may not have been contacted. No one has said, no one talking about it, we just don't know.

Also... really, when you come down to it, this whole "were they contacted?" thing is a false issue. Torgensen says he contacted almost everyone, but missed a few. Some of his slate say no, they never heard from him... but does it really matter? I have been trying my damndest to get Alan Lee and John Howe nominated for Best Artist for years, and I never asked if I could. This year I wrote a long post about the brilliance of STATION ELEVEN and why it should be nominated in Best Novel, and I never contacted Emily St. John Mandel to ask if I could. I will not condemn Brad Torgensen for failing to do what I never do myself.

I do not believe in Guilt by Association, and that's what we'd be doing if we vote against every name on the Puppy slates simply because they are on the slate. That was a classic weapon of the McCarthy Era: first you blacklist the communists, then you blacklist the people who defend the communists and the companies that hire them, then you blacklist the people who defend the people on the blacklist, and on and on, in ever widening circles. No. I won't be part of that.

I have looked over the ballot, but I have not read all of it. Will I read all of it? Well, not every word.... but I will at least glance at every nomination. I know, from past experience, that there are some very talented writers on the list. There are also some very bad writers, and at least one whose picture probably appears next to MEDIOCRE in Websters. There are a lot of writers I have never read before, whose work I need to sample. Torgensen has claimed that the Sad Puppies slate is diverse, and a cursory glance at the names suggests he is not wrong.

I intend to consider every story and every finalist in every category, and vote for those that I think worthy of Hugos. I will vote NO AWARD, I promise you, but only where No Award is warranted. (Truth be told, I vote No Award every year in almost every category. Usually not in first, admittedly... but I don't just look at a category and rank them one to five in order of preference, I rank the ones I think rocket-worthy above No Award, and the ones I don't below).

This ballot is the worst I have ever seen, admittedly, and there are stories and writers on it who are not fit to polish a Hugo, much less win one. But there's good stuff as well, and talented writers whose work I have enjoyed, and I am not going to vote against them just because the Sad Puppies like them too.

As I get further into my reading, I will let you know my thoughts on what I've read. But that may be a long process, so be patient.

Honestly, I don't think any of the choices we have now are good ones. All roads seem to lead to perdition, but each of us will need to walk the one we think best. Meanwhile, I urge everyone who is reading this to go to the Sasquan website and join the convention. Attend if you can; if not, join as a Supporting member, just as the Puppies did. It is too late to nominate, but not too late to vote. The Puppies will be getting out their vote, you can be sure. We need to do the same, unless we care to see some poor guy hand Vox Day a rocket.

I wish I was more optimistic about how all this is going to turn out.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

(That's Yeats, not me. Just to be clear).

Comments

( 303 comments )
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llwvyn
Apr. 10th, 2015 01:41 pm (UTC)
Identity
I am very glad that at the very least, these posts will give some people on both sides a place to explain what they feel without immediate personal attacks based on their beliefs.

I have noticed a trend lately, mostly surrounding any debate that involves some kind of core belief. (though I hesitate to call any of the interactions I have followed "debates") It seems to me that the loudest people on both sides tend to be the ones at the edges, with very few people near the middle doing more than watching from the sidelines. I can think of a few reasons for this, and I feel that it has to do with "identity."

A person's beliefs seem to have become less of a way they view certain subjects, and more of a core part of how they view themselves as a person. This isn't usually a problem, but it can lead to some very problematic situations. The most common problem I have seen is that when someone disagrees with a deeply held viewpoint, it is viewed as an attack on that person, instead of a simple disagreement. When a person thinks they have been attacked, they attack right back.

Given how many different viewpoints there are on the internet, it makes sense to me why so many topics quickly devolve into flaming and pure hate.

There are small groups of people who see ANY disagreement with their views as a sign that they need to attack the person who disagrees. These people will claim any lie about that person, especially in ways that could cause harm to the disagreeing person. These people will claim that someone who disagrees is a Racist, Misogynist, wife-beater. They will doxx a person and try to get them fired from their job. People have even had their house raided by SWAT teams because they dared hold a "wrong" opinion.

And this has come from both sides, do not even try to claim otherwise.

I think this is why Sad Puppies got started. A small group of people harassed Larry Correia when he was nominated for the Campbell, all because (he claims) they thought he was somehow evil for holding some of his beliefs. He was hurt by these attacks, and now it seems that he wants to allow these people who attacked him to "show their true faces" as it were. I think of this as trying to fight fire with gasoline.

Sure, exposing what you view as corruption is noble, but burning down the house to get rid of spiders isn't exactly the best way to go about it.

Full disclosure: Larry Correia has been a friend of my family in the past, and was actually my Boy Scout leader for a while. This makes me more biased towards his views, but I did try to remain as neutral as possible.
thomassankara77
Apr. 10th, 2015 01:48 pm (UTC)
Yes, thats right.
nerds_feather
Apr. 10th, 2015 01:52 pm (UTC)
Some characterizations unfair
George,

Two points. First, it's not fair to characterize all the proposed rule changes as "disenfranchising." The one that appears most likely to pass is the "4/6 rule," in which everyone gets to nominate 4 selections in each category, but the eventual shortlist would have 6 nominees on it. The idea here is to limit the impact of slate voting, though if this rule had been in place this year, SP would still have gotten 4/6 nominees in every category. And the rule change I most favor, dropping the price of a supporting membership in order to expand the voting pool, would be the opposite of disenfranchising.

Second, there are other "No Award" strategies besides the one you mention. I decided that I won't penalize people who made the shortlist without asking to be on anyone's sale, but I will not vote for any work directly associated with someone who organized or is an activist for S/RP. I know this doesn't send the strongest message against slate voting, but it's the only one I feel comfortable with at the moment. (More thoughts on my blog: http://www.nerds-feather.com/2015/04/what-ill-consider-for-2015-hugo-awards.html)

Note: while I reject the S/RP rhetoric (for the reasons you outline in your earlier piece), for the record I would oppose ANY slate on principle--regardless of who organized it, for what purpose or how they rationalized it. If The Hugos devolve into a contest between competing slates, and there are no significant rule changes to limit the impact of slate voting, I will probably wash my hands of the Hugos and just stick to voting on the Locus Awards.
Bob Jenson
Apr. 10th, 2015 02:02 pm (UTC)
This will be my first Worldcon, and probably my only Worldcon. I mean, I have to go - it's right here in my hometown! I confess much of this mess is a bit much for me to take in at the moment. Never once did I wonder about the Hugo nomination process in my 53 years of life, and the excitement I felt that *I* would actually get to vote by being an attending member was pretty danged cool. And then, of course, this crap storm. Sigh. This will be the first major convention I've attended in some time. Other than little localized ones, the last one I went to was SDCC in...'96, I believe - years before it turned into the behemoth it is now. Yeah, I know Worldcon ain't what it used to be, but man I was looking forward to this and I hope this mess doesn't hang like a cloud over Sasquan. And I hope it doesn't keep certain people away. I'm not saying it would you, Mr. Martin, but your "If indeed I am at Spokane" caveat bums me out a bit (I know you're extremely busy and would understand you not making it). But I hope the Sad Puppies don't keep other writers away that might show up. Sasquan and Spokane doesn't deserve this - not that any Worldcon does, but man...
kevin_standlee
Apr. 10th, 2015 07:55 pm (UTC)
You know, you don't have to attend Worldcon to nominate and vote (although I presume that there will be attempt to change that this year). You only need a supporting membership.

(Ironically, we're hearing people simultaneously claim that a basic WSFS supporting membership is both too expensive and too cheap, for different reasons.)

When you are at Spokane, look for something called Site Selection. Even if you don't care which of the four groups bidding for the 2017 Worldcon wins because you'll never be able to attend any of them, vote anyway. (You can vote "No Preference," which is the equivalent of an abstention and doesn't affect the results at all.) You'll have to pay $40 to do this, but you'll find yourself with a supporting membership in the 2017 Worldcon. Then go over to the folks selling memberships for something called MidAmericon II, which is the 2016 Worldcon, and buy a supporting membership ($40) from them. That gives you both supporting and final-ballot Hugo rights next year. When you've done all this, you're now a member of WSFS for the next three years. From here onward, vote in every WSFS election, including Site Selection. You'll always be buying your WSFS membership two years in advance and you'll always be able to vote in every election. It sounds complicated, but once you've started, it's quite easy to keep going. I've been doing it since 1984.
(no subject) - Bob Jenson - Apr. 11th, 2015 04:19 am (UTC) - Expand
controuble
Apr. 10th, 2015 02:13 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

I intend to do the same thing I do every year - read as much as I can and vote my for my favorites. I have already read 2 of the novels and picked a third up at the bookstore this week. When I finish those, I will move on to the shorter fiction.

I need to go back over my reading for this year and take notes and make sure I nominate next year. I think I had only read one novel that came out last year before the deadline. It's getting harder and harder to read the new books as authors get moved to hardcover that I can't afford much of and I try to catch up on the backlog piled around the house.
redmorlock
Apr. 10th, 2015 02:15 pm (UTC)
This is all very wise.

For me, at the top of the list of bad solutions to the problem is raising the price of supporting memberships. The Sad Puppies are right that there are elitists in our community, but if the Hugo is to continue to have any meaning at all, it has to represent the taste of the largest sub-group at WorldCon, not the richest.
cogitationitis
Apr. 10th, 2015 06:18 pm (UTC)
Actually, one of the solutions is to widen the pool of nominators. I have such a proposal posted on my LJ. Feeling shut out? Then let's be more inclusive.

However, like GRRM, I think this is temporary and we should do nothing. (Although, as I am not attending Worldcon, I can't do anything but shout from a distance.) And I do feel sorry for all the nominees, slated or not.

I do urge people to rank No Award on their ballot. First, last, in the middle--wherever you think it belongs.
vanyel42
Apr. 10th, 2015 02:20 pm (UTC)
Voting rules
I'm not sure that changing the rules is the answer, either. It doesn't make sense to outlaw slates, because people will just be sneakier about creating slates. And I'm sure that people have always recommended books for the Hugos or made eligibility lists, and I think that's just fine. At what point does a list of cool stuff you've read over the year become a slate? (Although, obviously, the Puppies did set out to create a slate, and possibly to break the Hugos). I don't know if the problem is the rules, although any award nomination system is going to be problematic in some way.

Perhaps things would have been different if more of the community had nominated, and I think in the future, more people will, instead of just voting on the final ballot.

I'm not a Worldcon member this year, so I don't have to make any tricky decisions about the No Award vote. I do think that voting No Award across the board delegitimizes the Hugos. Perhaps voting No Award for some categories will work as a protest, but if the Best Novel goes to No Award, I can't see that being good for the Hugos.

It saddens me that the Puppies have disrupted the Hugos, and it makes me angry, too. I don't think my vote for Best Novel has ever won a Hugo (although often my second choice has taken the title), but I never thought it was because people were trying to exclude me. We all have different tastes, and some ballots have been more to my liking than others. But to create a slate purposefully to destroy the Hugos and kick everyone else off the ballot...that's just mean spirited. It's like they wanted to ruin it for us all. If the Puppies really want to feel more included in fandom, pissing off the majority of fandom is not the way to do it. (But I doubt that the goal was to be included.)

I don't know if the Hugos can be fixed, after this.
Piet Nel
Apr. 10th, 2015 02:29 pm (UTC)
What now?
Two thoughts:

One: the Hugos are extremely vulnerable to this sort of thing because of the woefully low numbers of fans participating in the process. We have to find a way to increase the participation.

Two: Surely there is a fairly simple solution? A jury should be appointed to add up to three finalists to each category. The jury should be specifically mandated to improve the inclusiveness and merit of the ballot. Whatever the limitations of a jury system, the result is sure to be vastly better than what happened this year. At least the chances are 90% better that we'll all have something to vote for. Just to be clear: my proposal means that all the puppies would stay on the ballot - but at least there would be alternatives. And of course, this would alleviate the domination of any other slate that manages to pull the same stunt.
grrm
Apr. 10th, 2015 05:18 pm (UTC)
Re: What now?
I agree with your "One" and oppose your "Two."

lupinlover
Apr. 10th, 2015 02:31 pm (UTC)
Is there a website that summarizes all this? I've been reading your posts but I'm still not sure what's going on.
grrm
Apr. 10th, 2015 05:18 pm (UTC)
Sorry, no. You need to read a dozen websites to get the whole picture.

Maybe the best overview is at FILE 770.
PeterWendtWhere
Apr. 10th, 2015 02:44 pm (UTC)
"The people on MY SIDE, the trufans and SMOFs and good guys, are having an endless circle jerk trying to come up with a foolproof way to RIG THE HUGOS AND EXCLUDE THEM."

So, there is a side; "MY SIDE, the trufans and SMOFs and good guys" which proves there is another side; the not-trufans?

You are correct that SP came out in numbers. The "other side" showed up. You're right that it was not a conspiracy, by any strict definition, that kept the bad-think "other-side" out as your side has no inclusion within your ranks of bad-think. That means the Hugos have been less than fully representative of SF/F, till now.

One piece of objective data has already been done to an extent; Amazon ratings as to the ballot this year versus past years. Care to take a gander? http://voxday.blogspot.com/2015/04/objectively-superior.html

It's done! It's game on! It's your side versus the "other-side". Years ago there was but one side, wasn't there? The all of and the best of SF/F? The puppies represent that. Your side does not. How do we know this? Because the puppies, the "other-side", the "that which was missing", are not welcome.

"God DAMN, people. You are proving them right."

The puppies have taken to the field and aren't leaving. So, what's ya gonna do, all you good-think trufans? You have two choices. Doesn't matter which. Change the rules? That's laughable. The puppies have already won.
(Deleted comment)
kevin_standlee
Apr. 10th, 2015 08:01 pm (UTC)
The Hugo Awards belong to the members of the World Science Fiction Society. The Attending members get to make the rules. The Supporting members get limited participation rights. The Hugo Award is what the members of WSFS, acting collectively, want to honor.

They are not the Award for Anyone Who Has Consumed Pop Culture SF/F Genre Entertainment of Any Sort Anywhere, and they shouldn't try to be.

Anyone who thinks there should be an award given by "anyone who has read SF/F fiction, seen a movie or TV show, or looked at anything that had SF/F content in it anywhere in the World" should consider trying to set up such an award. Nobody stopping you. But trying to remake the Hugo Award in that way is unlikely to get any traction with the Attending members, and all changes to the basic rules need to start with convincing them, not just spending a relatively small amount of money and pounding on a keyboard.
(Deleted comment)
mb_s
Apr. 10th, 2015 02:54 pm (UTC)
On exclusion
You wrote: "are having an endless circle jerk trying to come up with a foolproof way to RIG THE HUGOS AND EXCLUDE THEM"

That... that isn't actually what I'm seeing going on, over at Making Light or elsewhere. They are having an endless circle jerk, yes, but to come up with a way to include everyone without over-including anyone; trying in the most democratic sense to ensure that everyone's nominations can be represented without anyone's being over-represented due to better strategy or campaigning. To ensure that the wishes of the entire electorate, not only part of it, are expressed. To, in effect, give the puppies what they state they want, actually.

More votes simply won't work against coordinated "political party" tactics. 1000 voters spreading their votes in a bell curve over 35 works will rarely (the work has to be as widely acclaimed as Ancillary Sword or The Goblin Emperor, in other words) be able to place a nominee ahead of 200 voters concentrating all their votes on 5. It's math.

I don't want to see the 1000 have *all* the say, either. The 200 are fandom, too. I don't want them excluded.

Right now, the problem is, the 200 are attempting to control all of fandom, in terms of nominations. And this year? This year, they did the job to the tune of disenfranchising nearly everyone else.

Edited at 2015-04-10 02:56 pm (UTC)
grrm
Apr. 10th, 2015 05:21 pm (UTC)
Re: On exclusion
Yes, and I think what the Sad Puppies did was an outrage.

But weighted voting? Some votes count more than others?

This solution is worse than the disease.

One person. One vote.
Re: On exclusion - macd21 - Apr. 10th, 2015 05:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: On exclusion - Alvaro Garces - Apr. 10th, 2015 06:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: On exclusion - jamesonquinn - Apr. 11th, 2015 02:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
mb_s
Apr. 10th, 2015 03:06 pm (UTC)
On Guilt by Association
Since I treaded somewhat close to this in an earlier post, again, I'd like to clarify: it is not the politics or statements of the puppies that are the core objection, when it comes to those who have been associated with them on SP3. Openly stating ones opinions and inviting support, free speech, more power to you.

It is the (apparent) *misrepresentation* of that, in effect fraudulently using people without their knowledge as to how their inclusion in the slate would be marketed. Withholding strategy from the troops you employ may be solid strategy for war, but it's rarely good for the troops when they meet the meat-grinder. And this is hardly war. Lying by omission to authors in order to get them to support you is highly dubious.

Having one public face say "this is about getting good adventure work back on the ballot, this year we mean it, no hatemongering, no politics stuff!" but another, more hidden face of your movement saying "OK, now what we're really trying to do here is save our culture from reverse racism, let's go seek support from hate groups, etc." It smells of using people.
alexbrault
Apr. 10th, 2015 03:08 pm (UTC)
Why should the reasoning matter? When you boil it down, all Sad Puppy ultimately is is people saying "I don't like the usual nominations, but since this is a public forum, here are my suggestions for works I think should be rewarded." Whether they dislike the nominations because there's too much alien or too little alien, because it's too hard or too soft, because there's too much diversity or a left-wing bias doesn't matter. And whatever the reason, whether their assessment of it is correct or completely off does not matter. What matters is that people have put works they like under consideration, and the reasonable thing to do in this situation is look at them and judge them on their own merit
idemandjustice
Apr. 10th, 2015 06:04 pm (UTC)
Respectfully, the reasoning matters. If you have to ignore aspects of something in order for it to be OK, then I think that's a sign that it is not OK. The whole picture needs to be looked at.
ChurchHTucker
Apr. 10th, 2015 03:10 pm (UTC)
Runoff Voting
The other approach is less radical. Vote NO AWARD in all the categories that are All Puppy. In the others, chose between the nominees (there are a few) that did not appear on either the Sad Puppy or Rabid Puppy slate, and place all the rest, the SP/RP candidates, under No Award.

That proposal is actually to leave the SP/RP off the ballot altogether, since if even if they're ranked under No Award they may be counted (due to the Australian Ballot system.)

There's a variation that proposes ranking any SP/RP candidate that one feels was there without their knowledge under No Award, thus signifying that one would prefer no award but would rather the Ignorant Puppy win if one has to.

I mention this because Torgersen has made the same mistake (although I'm suspicious of whether it was in his case) in describing this option, and I don't want people to think they're doing one thing and then doing another.
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