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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

hippoiathanatoi
Apr. 10th, 2015 08:09 am (UTC)
Two points, George:

The fact that the Puppies will declare "No Award" a victory should not influence anyone's vote. You can't let the awards, and the way the awards work, and even specific ballot options (whether it's a particular author's book or No Award) be controlled by any particular group of people.


And in "Blogging for Rockets", you wrote the following:

"Just as happened with the "let me tell you about my eligible works," the rest of the field is going to need to field slates of their own in self-defense.

I don't look forward to that. It cheapens the Hugos."

There. Full stop. If it cheapens the Hugo, you actually should support proposals to minimize the power of slates without unduly impacting the intended spirit of the awards. Individual campaigns are one thing, have been around from the start more or less as you've noted, but competing slates are going to be a race to the bottom, the devolution of the Hugos into a collection of political parties rather than a collection of fans.

A move against slates is not a move against the works the Puppies believe need to be better represented. It merely means they need to become part of the Worldcon process: attending and sitting on panels, hawking books in the dealer's room, attending business meetings, throwing parties, and in the process let fellow fans start to understand why the works they love are works that they too can love.





asombreroman
Apr. 10th, 2015 01:16 pm (UTC)
Mr or Ms,

They have.

Please read attended; sitting on panels is a different thing entirely. Here, straight from the horse's mouth, which, I'm sure, is a process that was repeated by many people within the slate:

http://monsterhunternation.com/2015/04/09/a-response-to-george-r-r-martin-from-the-author-who-started-sad-puppies/#comments

And an amazing lady who supports the Sad Puppy efforts on her experiences in conferences and other meetings within the hobby:

http://accordingtohoyt.com/2015/03/31/the-scarlet-letters/

What happened with the Sad Puppies is the inclusion of more people supporting the conference itself, if not outright attending. How is this bad?


ihatenamessono
Apr. 10th, 2015 04:29 pm (UTC)
>You can't let the awards, and the way the awards work, and even specific ballot options (whether it's a particular author's book or No Award) be controlled by any particular group of people

if you decide to vote no award simply because of how the author got there you are in fact letting the sad puppies thing influence the way you vote be controlled.
the only sensible option is to read the works on the ballot and rate them the way you feel is merited by the quality of the work.
any other option means you allowed someone else to control your decision making process.
hippoiathanatoi
Apr. 10th, 2015 05:07 pm (UTC)
I agree and have said so. Anyone who participates in a campaign calling for "No Award" as the main choice is simply taking part in a counter-slate.

But voting No Award because you don't feel the nominees merit it is imminently reasonable.
ihatenamessono
Apr. 10th, 2015 05:35 pm (UTC)
sure if you feel that way after having read their actual work and decided it wasn't good enough.
judge the book not the author and not the way the book got on the ballot.
ignore everything outside of the book and what's contained within, it's that simple.

Edited at 2015-04-10 06:00 pm (UTC)
unsunghero007
Apr. 10th, 2015 06:28 pm (UTC)
lose lose
Vote No Award and the puppies control you. Vote for the works Puppies put on the ballot, the puppies control you. It's lose lose. The puppies are shoving their choices down everybody's throats. In that regard, they are no better than the people they claim to be fighting against.
ihatenamessono
Apr. 10th, 2015 09:26 pm (UTC)
Re: lose lose
think of it like this, if you read these books maybe you'll find one you really like, then maybe you'll find an author you really like, which leads to even more books you really like.
don't look at it as a lose lose, think of it as a way of discovering new things.
i mean yeah admittedly every book may be shit in which case "no award" and move on but you shouldn't be so negative, try to make the best of it.

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