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Once More, Into the Kennels

Brad Torgersen has added a post to his blog: "Sad Puppies: We Are Not Rabid Puppies."

Larry Correia has also spoken up on MONSTER HUNTER NATION: "I Am Not Vox Day."

I commend them both for making the distinction so loudly and clearly. And I accept what they say. The Sad Puppies are not Rabid Puppies. Larry Correia is not Vox Day. I regret anything I might have done or said that blurred the line, or created a false impression that all Puppies were the same. (Admittedly, having 'Puppies' in the name of both slates does foster confusion). I am glad you set that straight.

But now... sorry, sorry... I have a few more thoughts that have occured to me about Puppygate. Questions, really.

I think we are all pretty clear on where the Rabid Puppy slate came from: Vox Day made it up. He listed a lot of books and movies and editors and writers he liked, told his followers to vote for them, and they did. Pretty cut and dried. And that's the last I will say about the Rabids.

I am a little more unclear on the process that created the Sad Puppy slate. Brad, if I recall correctly (and do correct me if I am wrong), you said that you solicited nominations and suggestions from the readers of your blog. Presumably Mr. Correia did the same on MONSTER HUNTER NATION. Maybe other blogs were involved. Sarah Hoyt? I don't know. In any case, you asked for suggestions, and you received a lot of them. And from those, you produced the Sad Puppy slate.

My question, though... how did you go about the winnowing? Presumably more than five books/ stories/ editors were suggested for each category. Yet you did not throw them all onto a long Recommended Reading list, as happens, say, with LOCUS or NESFA. Presumably some of your fans and readers did not see their own favorites reflected on the final list. So how was the slate selected? Were the books and stories you listed those that got the most votes? In other words, was your process a sort of "primary election," to select candidates for the general? Alternatively, did you pick and choose, putting on some suggestions, discarding others? Did you do that by yourself? Was it you and Larry Correia? You and Larry and some other people of like minds?

In your last blog post, your wrote:

"The objectives of Sad Puppies 3 have been simple and consistent:

● Use the democratic selection system of the Hugo awards.
● No “quiet” logrolling. Make it transparent.
● Boost authors, editors, and works — regardless of political persuasion.
● Bring recognition to people who’ve been long overlooked.
● Get some good promotion for new folks coming up in the field.
● Have fun!
"

I will take you at your word that these were the aims of the Sad Puppies, as opposed to those of the Rabid Puppies, which seem to be more simply, "Destroy the Hugos, outrage the liberals, and plunge all fandom into war."

I'll give you the fourth and fifth on your list. You did bring recognition to people who had long been overlooked (whether it was a good sort of recognition is another question, but you certainly got their names out there), and you did generate lots of promotion for some newer folks, most notably the Campbell nominees, and, well, the two young writers who have withdrawn.

I would quibble about your third stated aim. Yes, you did include some women and some minority writers and some writers with different political views on your Sad Puppy slate, but... oh, hell, look, I will grant you that one too, for the sake of argument. My interest is elsewhere.

And for aim number six -- have fun -- boy, howdy. Are we having fun yet? I'm not. Are you?

Moving on, though, I would like to focus on the first and second aims.

Number one, you wanted to use the democratic selection method of the Hugo Awards. And we're all in favor of democracy, of course. Except... was your own selection procedure democractic? The stories and novels on your slate, were those the ones that were selected most often, the ones that got the most nominations? If you tell me they were, fine... then you had a primary. But if you tell me that you (or you and Mr. Correia, or you and he and some other Sad Puppies) made judgment calls of your own from amongst the books and stories put forward by your readers... why, that would not be democratic at all. That would be, well, a clique operating behind closed doors. Maybe even a one-man clique, if it was just you.

So tell me, if you would: how did you get from lots of suggestions down to four or five per category? What were your criteria, and who made the final choices??

Which brings me to your second stated aim. "No quiet logrolling. Make it transparent."

The Hugo Awards have been transparent for decades. Not always, admittedly -- final vote totals and nominations were not generally released in the 60s and 70s, and there were always rumors of funny stuff going on behind closed doors. I credit Charles Brown and LOCUS with breaking that down, by making a point of demanding the hard numbers year after year, until the concoms finally began to do so. This year, as for many years now, after all the rockets have been handed out, as the fans begin to leave the auditorium in Spokane, they will be handed sheets with a complete voting breakdown of every category. Sometimes the complete list of nominating totals are included as well; if not, those turn up slightly later. Nominations not just for the books and stories that made the ballot, but for all those that did not. Everyone will be able to see how much they won by, how much they lost by. Hard numbers. Transparency.

(I find these endlessly fascinating myself. Every year, I find myself poring over the numbers at the Hugo Losers party, when I really should be drinking and flirting. What can I say? I can't help myself).

I am sure I would be equally intrigued by your own "primary" numbers. You favor transparency. Would you be willing to show us your own "primary" results? How many people made suggestions? How many books were nominated? How many votes did each of them get? Were any passed over for the slate, and if so, why? Hard numbers, same as the Hugos. Just so, you know, fandom -- and your own Puppies -- can know for certain that no "quiet log-rolling" went on.

One last question. You say you want inclusion. You say you want democracy. And you have already announced Sad Puppies 4, aimed at the 2016 Hugo Awards at Big Mac II. I understand that Kate Paulk of MAD GENIUS CLUB will be running things next year. I presume the mechanism will be the same -- a call for suggestions, which will then somehow be winnowed down to a slate. (If that's wrong, do correct me, I want to have the facts).

So maybe my last question is for Kate Paulk rather than you or Mr. Correia. I don't know. But it's a simple question. When you open up Sad Puppies 4 for nominations...

Can I nominate?

I read a lot of books and stories. I have editors and fan writers and artists I think are shamefully overlooked, same as you. I am a fan too. Can I nominate my own favorites, and be assured that they will be given equal weight to Larry Correia's nominations, and Brad's, and John C. Wright's, and all the other Puppies?

We want democracy. We want transparency. We don't want log-rolling. General elections need to be honest, but primary elections should be honest too. And you guys do NOT believe in any sort of political litmus tests, I know, you've said as much a hundred times... so I know you will welcome my own suggestions for Sad Puppies 4, right? Oh, and PNH and TNH, and N.K. Jemisin, and Connie Willis, and David Gerrold, and John Scalzi, and all my friends in the Brotherhood Without Banners... we all love science fiction, we all love puppies...

Can we play too?

Comments

Kate Paulk
Apr. 18th, 2015 05:06 pm (UTC)
Yes, you can, and yes, your nominations will get the exact same consideration as anyone else's nominations.

I'm planning to open for suggestions for the final list after this year's winners are announced, in the form of open threads on as many blogs as will host me.

If you're willing to host a guest post at that time and allow me to take suggestions for Hugo-worthy works in any of the categories, I'd be honored to do so.

Kate
grrm
Apr. 18th, 2015 06:45 pm (UTC)
I make my own recommendations for Hugo awards annually right here on my Not A Blog, and will continue to do so.

Admittedly, some years I nominate a lot of stuff, and some years only one or two things. Depends on how much I have read that year, how much time I have, and other factors. But my fans always jump in with nominations and suggestions of their own.

I am pleased to hear that Sad Puppies 4 will be open to suggestions from everyone, and that all nominations will have equal weight.

Thank you for your prompt and polite response, Kate.
darkzack
Apr. 18th, 2015 09:20 pm (UTC)
Joshua Young had the most nominations in the short story category for the Sad Puppy slate according to the spreadsheet posted above. He did not get onto the slate despite having five times the nominations of two short stories that did.

Doesn't this suggest that Sad Puppy nominations have essentially zero consideration for getting on to the Sad Puppy slate? As such an assurance that "your nominations will get the exact same consideration as anyone else's nominations" must surely be of pretty limited worth?
vondimpleheimer
Apr. 18th, 2015 06:54 pm (UTC)
When you say "same consideration" does that mean that the nominations with the most votes will get on the SP4 slate?
davidlang
Apr. 18th, 2015 09:43 pm (UTC)
asking for suggestions is not a vote, it's gathering info.

However Kate ends up deciding which suggestions to put on the final 'slate' (if it's called that), it's probably going to have far more to do with Kate's opinion of the suggested works (and the opinions of other people she trusts) than the number of times that someone suggests the work.

In other words, it's not a 'primary' vote.
grrm
Apr. 18th, 2015 09:51 pm (UTC)
Brad has stated that democracy and transparency are the first and second aims of the Sad Puppies.

"Kate decides which suggestions get on the slate" would hardly be democratic. It might be transparent, if she does it all openly... but the people whose suggestions don't make it will be cross.

"Kate and the people she trusts pick the slate" comes down to one of those secret cliques that the Puppies oppose.
calif_troweller
Apr. 18th, 2015 07:09 pm (UTC)
On "primaries"
With all due respect, if this is the case, why have a slate at all? The original nomination Hugo process is exactly what you describe. Eligible members are able to nominate eligible works, all noms get the same level of consideration, the works with the most noms end up on the ballot. This is a sincere question.

With a slate, your best case scenario is that you're adding an extra layer of voting and perhaps artificially winnowing down the playing field before any official noms have been cast. But even if this process could be guaranteed to be truly democratic and neutral, you're ensuring that people who don't technically have a right to vote for the Hugos are essentially able to vote by proxy by controlling the nominees (that is unless you're planning on having people prove their WorldCon membership).

Worst case scenario, you're proposing an elite gatekeeper system where the only way to get a Hugo nom is to end up on the slate of an influential blogger. If this sort of thing happens, it could backfire on SP spectacularly (there are a lot of very powerful "SWJs" out there as SP terms them) and all of fandom will honestly all be worse off for it.

I understand and sympathize with the feeling of not being heard. That said, if you feel like works of a certain persuasion are being overlooked, wouldn't it be so much better to use your voice to rally your readers (who are of said persuasion) to get involved and participate organically, free of specific suggestion?
grrm
Apr. 18th, 2015 07:29 pm (UTC)
Re: On "primaries"
Of course, my own position favors "no slates at all."

Which is what we had.

Until the Puppies.

What I cannot abide is a situation where a small organized minority with a slate get to impose their choices on a larger disorganized majority, which is what we have this year.

The Hugo were not broken. They did not need to be fixed.

NOW, however, they may well be broken.
calif_troweller
Apr. 18th, 2015 07:35 pm (UTC)
Re: On "primaries"
Sorry, that comment was directed at Ms. Paulk.

I agree with you, Mr. Martin - I am in favor of no slates at all. I can understand the confusion given I used the term "primaries" which you discussed. I'm honestly trying to ascertain what the thinking is from Ms. Paulk's perspective, since she states that everyone's noms will be taken into consideration. If that's the case, why not just revert back to the old system with a newly invigorated fanbase?
Kate Paulk
Apr. 18th, 2015 09:11 pm (UTC)
Re: On "primaries"
I beg to differ on the brokenness of the Hugos.

An open voting award with a little over 2000 nominating ballots cast (the exact numbers are on the Hugo site) is not a healthy award. There should be tens, even hundreds of thousands of people voting: there are more than that many fans out there.

Given how many people I personally know weren't aware that all it took to have a say in the Hugos was a $40 supporting membership and taking the time to read and vote, the Hugos have lost their cachet as an award for the SF & F community at large, and had certainly ceased to be awarded *by* the SF & F community at large.

I want to see so many people voting that it's almost impossible for any one faction to control the awards. If that means there are years when the "wrong" works get awards, so be it.
kieran sterling
Apr. 18th, 2015 09:33 pm (UTC)
Re: On "primaries"
But then isn't the solution to promote registration and voting in nominations without a specified list of what to nominate?
grrm
Apr. 18th, 2015 09:34 pm (UTC)
Re: On "primaries"
There have always been years when wrong works get awards... which ones, precisely, depend on how one defines 'wrong.'

No one ever claimed the Hugos were infallible.

Hell, the second novel Hugo ever given went to THEY'D RATHER BE RIGHT, a book that has gone unread and unremembered for half a century... except when people want to point out how fallible awards voters every are.

The overall record of the Hugo voters, however, is exemplary, and stacks up favorably against the Nebulas, Campbell Memorial, World Fantasy Awards, or any comparable contest.
Kelly Jennings
Apr. 19th, 2015 12:02 am (UTC)
Re: On "primaries"
Sincere question: If this is truly all you want, why not simply encourage people to vote for the Hugos in the traditional way?

Make the information available on your various forums and blogs, show them how to get a membership and so forth, and leave it at that?

If all you *actually* want is to increase the access & number of SF fans who vote in the Hugos, there are far less divisive ways to go about it.

Re: On "primaries" - calif_troweller - Apr. 19th, 2015 12:58 am (UTC) - Expand
kevin_standlee
Apr. 19th, 2015 05:28 am (UTC)
Kate, you say that "There should be tens, even hundreds of thousands of people voting: there are more than that many fans out there" and that this means that the Hugo Awards are Broken, yes? Even though the >2000 turnout is larger than any Hugo Award ever before in the history of the Award? It sounds like that you are defining "fan" as "any human being who has consumed any form of SF/F popular culture entertainment of any sort in any medium anywhere in the world." Is that a fair restatement of your position?

The Hugo Awards are not and never have been such an award. They are an Award from the members of the World Science Fiction society, voted upon by WSFS's members. WSFS is a private organization (technically, an unincorporated literary society) that has every right to set its own membership standards, absolutely and without reservation. It is not "every SF/F consumer in the world," and it never will be. At the moment, the entry barrier appears to be simultaneously Unrealistically Expensive (as some claim that $40 is an impossibly large amount of money and voting should be Free Free Free Free Always Free) and Absurdly Low (how dare they let people vote who haven't attended twenty Worldcons in person and passed a Fannish Purity Test), which is a neat trick.

You (or anyone else) is of course welcome to set you your Every Fan In The World Award and figure out how to run it, promote it, and so forth. Nobody is stopping you or anyone else from creating the Real Fan Awards with whatever rules you want. I think it highly unlikely that WSFS will make a huge change in its membership requirements, either to make them Free Free Free or cost tens of thousands of dollars and a written test. There's a good chance that people who think there should be an Award Chosen by Every SF/F Pop Culture Entertainment Consumer In The World are going to have to go make it happen, rather than take over someone else's work.

George himself has pointed out that the Hugos belong to WSFS; they created it, they own it ("Hugo Award'" is a registered service mark of WSFS), and they make the rules for it. You can dislike those rules. You can work to change them by showing up at the Business Meeting and trying to change them by persuading others to vote for your preferred changes. But it's not the All Consumers of SF In The World Award, so I think it's disingenuous to try and frame it with the "hundreds of thousands" language you did.
(no subject) - davidlang - Apr. 19th, 2015 09:06 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - grrm - Apr. 19th, 2015 06:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kevin_standlee - Apr. 19th, 2015 11:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
trooper6
Apr. 18th, 2015 07:33 pm (UTC)
Greetings Ms. Paulk! I ask this questions as a person who is not versed in all of the Hugo politics. But, if the Sad Puppy process you are doing next year is the exact same process as the regular Hugo process...and if no one is barred from making Hugo suggestions...what is the need for having a separate Sad Puppy process?
Frank Probst
Apr. 18th, 2015 08:34 pm (UTC)
Boy, are you going to have a thankless job
Ms Paulk:

I wish you the best of luck with your recommendations, but I think you're setting yourself up for a job that's a lot more trouble than it's worth. Brad Torgensen's and Larry Correia's experiment with Sad Puppies 3 is essentially over. It's clear to me that their expected result was that some of the works they suggested would make it onto the Hugo ballot, and maybe one or more of those would take home rockets. The actual result was that Vox Day came along and published the Rabid Puppy slate, and his slate did so well that it managed to sweep many of the categories.

Vox Day appears to have every intention doing the same thing next year, so no matter how pure your motives are in drawing up the SP4 slate, you have to know in advance that Day is going to take your slate and turn it into the Rabid Puppies slate. I'm on the record several times saying "Ignore Vox Day" in pretty much all that you do, and I'm not going to reverse myself here and suggest that you abandon SP4, but what are you hoping to achieve at this point? I mean that as a sincere question. Two of the SP3 nominees went so far as to decline their nominations. I would expect that to happen again next year. Brad Torgensen and Larry Correia are being pilloried (somewhat unfairly, in my opinion) in the media. How do you expect next year to be any different?

Sincerely yours,
Frank Probst
kieran sterling
Apr. 18th, 2015 09:06 pm (UTC)
Hi Kate, is there an idea to at least rename the SPs to distance yourself from this year's issues and indicate a solid break with other puppies?

Right now it seems to be a pity-based ("sad" is a bit of a downer) campaign to produce a slate to effect an award process, instead of promoting general excitement in a wider range of authors for consideration. What about not naming a slate at all but just produce an actively updated recommended reading list? You could call it "for your consideration" or "speculative/alternative futures" or something positive like that.

Assuming the open nomination process you seem to be suggesting is used, I would repeat an earlier question: What would be the difference if instead of sending their nominees to you, they simply sent in their nominations as normal?
Alvaro Garces
Apr. 18th, 2015 09:31 pm (UTC)
Well, even if it's renamed, nothing prevents VD from renaming too. I think Frank Probst has the right idea. Ignore VD.
kieran sterling
Apr. 19th, 2015 08:18 am (UTC)
Hi Alvaro, a name change could separate her campaign from the events this year, and indicate a change in methods/interests. As I said it could also be more appealing. The name SP is a downer.

VD might change names as well, but that doesn't affect changing one's own name to separate one's future campaign from his the previous year. Besides you could make a name that would be hard to spin so easily.

Of course dropping the slate is a more important suggestion, than just the name change.
rachel_swirsky
Apr. 20th, 2015 12:57 am (UTC)
Kieran -- I think the puppy name wasn't intended as "we are sad" but "we want to make the liberals sad," along with the sort of "let's make their heads explode" stuff. If that's incorrect, I'd be gratified to be corrected (and very pleased as well).
Alternate Snowcrash
Apr. 19th, 2015 12:31 am (UTC)
Kate, could you clarify what you mean by Hugo-worthy? Does it just have to be any eligible work (ie as per publication date) or are there any other criteria?
If there are, could you let us know what they are?
davidlang
Apr. 19th, 2015 09:09 am (UTC)
well, the overriding issue for all the SP suggestions has been "is it a great read", so that's an additional criteria :-)

as has been the case throughout the SP series, the politics of the author don't matter.
grrm
Apr. 19th, 2015 06:49 pm (UTC)
Everyone who makes a Hugo recommendation or nomination believes that their suggestion is a great read.
sethg_prime
Apr. 19th, 2015 03:27 am (UTC)
I have one question regarding SP4: will your list of recommendations have more recommendations for each category than there are Hugo nomination slots? The Locus Recommended Reading List, for example, has twenty-eight novels, so even fans who slavishly trust the judgment of Locus’s editors, if they want to submit Hugo nominations, have to choose their five favorites from among those twenty-eight.

If SP4 takes a similar approach, then it will be a “recommended reading list” rather than a “slate of candidates”. Such a list wouldn’t be gaming the system by anyone’s measurement, and a greater variety of recommended-reading lists can only improve the field, Hugos or no. In the words of a certain famous Communist, let a hundred flowers bloom.
rachel_swirsky
Apr. 20th, 2015 12:51 am (UTC)
May I, also?

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