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The Puppy Wars Resume

I've had most of the day to consider the new Hugo ballot and what it means, and to read some of the online commentary. The ballot, as I said in my first post, is very much a mixed bag. Some categories are much improved from what we were offered last year. Some are worse. Some much worse.

Those of us who hoped this year's massive turnout might give us something more palatable than last year were mistaken; the 2016 ballot and the 2015 ballot are pretty much a wash. The two editor's categories are much stronger than they were last year. Novel has some very fine and worthy choices (though my own favorite novels from last year are missing). Some talented young writers are up for the Campbell. On the other hand, Best Pro Artist is a joke, Short Story is if anything weaker than last year, and Best Related Work is a toxic swamp.

It's too late tonight to go through the list category by category, though. We have months to do that, so I will leave you all to do it for yourselves. We will have a Hugo packet eventually, which will make the process easier.

It is important, for those of you who may not have been following the awards controversey closely, to note that three important things happened since last year:

(1) MidAmericon II reported a record number of nominating ballots, more than 4000, almost double the previous record. In addition to MAC members, those who were members of Sasquan and the forthcoming Helsinki worldcon were also eligible to nominate,

(2) Sad Puppies 4, this year headed by Kate Paulk, changed its approach and produced a recommended reading list, with anywhere from one to ten suggestions in each category, rather than slating four or five. The process was open and democratic, which Sad Puppies 3 often claimed to be but never was. Paulk also avoided the ugly excesses of the previous campaign, and never stooped to the sort of invective that her predecessor, Brad Torgersen, had been so fond of, with all his talk of CHORFs and Puppy-kickers. For all this she should be commended,

(3) in contrast, the far right Rabid Puppies did a slate, as before. However, VD played it cute this year, peppering his lists with poison pills by including some major, popular works by well-known authors, works everyone knew to be contenders regardless of any Puppy support, along with the usual spate of mediocrity and a few choice picks that appear to be purely "fuck you" choices.

So how did all these factors intersect?

The record turnout seemed to have no impact. Fandom nominated in huge numbers, but it would appear that they did not nominate the same things. They scattered their nominations among dozens, perhaps hundreds, of possible choices. We won't know the full story till we see the complete list of nomination totals on Hugo night... but I suspect (unless MAC cuts the list short) that we'll see many more titles than we're used to.

The same thing happened to the Sad Puppies. By shifting from Torgersen's slate to Paulk's list of recommendations, they suffered the same fate as many other recommended reading lists, be it the LOCUS list or the Nebulas or my own recommendations. They had almost no impact on the ballot. The Sads did get works on the ballot when their choices overlapped with the Rabids, to be sure, but very few works that were "sad only" made the list. SP4 was a non-factor. (And before someone else points this out, let me be the first to admit that the Sads had more impact than I did. As near as I can tell, I batted .000 on my own recommendations, which just goes to show that all this talk of about my immense power is somewhat exaggerated. No wonder I never get invited to the meetings of the Secret Cabal).

The big winners were the Rabid Puppies, whose choices completely dominated the list. The Rabids had nominees in every category, I believe, and in a few categories they had ALL the nominees. Mike Glyer has a nice breakdown on FILE 770: http://file770.com/?p=28616 It seems obvious that while traditional fans and the Sad Puppies have minds of their own, the Rabids just vote the way they are told to vote.

We should remember that this was just the nominating round. The final vote is still ahead. How will that turn out? Well, that's up to you guys. Helinski pre-supporters and Sasquan members could nominate, but they cannot vote, so the ultimate winners will be decided by the members of MidAmericon II. So join. Read. Vote. You can sign up here: http://midamericon2.org/

One last point. The Rabids used a new tactic this year. They nominated legitimate, quality works in addition to the dross. Works by writers like Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Neal Stephenson, Alastair Reynolds (Reynolds went public well before the nominations asking NOT to be slated, but they slated him anyway), Andy Weir, and several others. Some of these writers are apolitical (like Weir), while others are known to oppose everything that VD stands for (Gaiman, Stephenson, King). One has to think they were deliberately targeted.

In some of the online comments I've seen, these writers are being called "shields." I've even read some people calling for them to withdraw, simply because they were on VD's list.

Withdrawing is the LAST thing they should do.

I urge them all to stand their ground. They wrote good books, stories, graphic novels, they did NOT take part in any slate. In some cases they were largely unaware of all this. In other cases they explicitly denounced the slates ahead of time (Reynolds, again). Punishing them... demanding they turn down this honor... simply because VD listed them is insane.

Marko Kloos and Annie Bellet did the right thing by withdrawing last year. Their was an ethical and courageous act; I applauded them then and I applaud them now. But this is a different year and a different situation. Given the well-known political views of some of these writers, it seems plain to me that VD and the Rabids picked them deliberately, in hopes they would withdraw, or would be voted under No Award. They would probably have put Scalzi (VD's best bro) on the ballot too, but he outsmarted them and withdrew before they could.

I am rather hoping that several of them win. Based on quality alone, some deserve to. Sure, VD will claim that as a victory, but as last year proves, he claims everything as a victory. We'll know the truth. The only real victory for him would be having any of these fine writers pull out. Let's not play his game.

Anyway... I am sure we'll all have much more to say about this in the months to come. Fasten your seat belts, friends. It is going to be a bumpy ride.

(Oh... and yes, for those who were asking. This does mean we will need a second set of Alfies).

Comments

( 168 comments )
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RA_Whipple
Apr. 27th, 2016 08:13 am (UTC)
Hugo for Vanity Press?
George,

There are those of us a long way from civilization, let's say, that would like our work considered for awards. An award would certainly increase exposure to an English work created by a Canadian in a non-English culture. (I can only sell so many here and online without any support whatsoever.) I am not referring to these self-published group hug awards but the long-standing industry awards, like Hugo, Nebula, et cetera.

How does one go about getting considered? Or does anyone care if a bear shits in the woods? Pardon my French.
kevin_standlee
Apr. 28th, 2016 08:11 pm (UTC)
The Hugo Awards are presented by the members of the World Science Fiction Convention. The members nominate works for the various categories. The works with the most nominations make the final ballot and are voted upon by the members to pick the winners. There is no jury, no Board of Directors, no Secret Cabal selecting the finalists. You also don't submit your work to a committee for consideration. You just have to get enough members of Worldcon interested enough in your work to nominate it. See this article at The Hugo Awards web site for a longer version of how it works.
Re: Hugo for Vanity Press? - eeanm - Apr. 28th, 2016 09:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
Caner Ataseven
Apr. 27th, 2016 08:20 am (UTC)
Was there a post about your favourite novels last year? I read Station Eleven by your recommendation, and I absolutely loved it. Would love to see your best list for 2015.
the_corbie
Apr. 27th, 2016 08:30 am (UTC)
Hear, hear.

VD's nonsense is unfortunate but to do anything other than evaluate the nominees we have on their own merits is just buying into his stupid game of bluff and double-bluff. Second-guessing and tactical voting won't see him off - we know that now.

If a nominee is worthy of winning a Hugo, vote for it. If it isn't, don't. It's the only answer.
yagathai
Apr. 27th, 2016 05:45 pm (UTC)
In general I'm for evaluating each work on its merits, but I categorically refuse to consider anything pubbed by Castalia for a Hugo. VD is a white supremacist and a violent (or at least violence-advocating) misogynist. He's pro-apartheid and anti-women's suffrage. Anything published by his house is tainted by association.

Edited at 2016-04-27 05:49 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - the_corbie - Apr. 27th, 2016 05:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Agree - Frank Probst - Apr. 27th, 2016 11:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
Red Zen
Apr. 27th, 2016 08:31 am (UTC)
Waste of time
A decade from now, investing so much time and emotion on this puppy war will not be a point of pride.

A century from now, you'll be fondly remembered for many things, but not for your part in this inane squabble.

Edited at 2016-04-27 08:39 am (UTC)
grrm
Apr. 27th, 2016 05:59 pm (UTC)
RE: Waste of time
A century from now I won't care.
Re: Waste of time - Serxhio Gjata - Apr. 29th, 2016 01:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Waste of time - Robert S. - Apr. 29th, 2016 09:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
Nick Eden
Apr. 27th, 2016 08:42 am (UTC)
Sad also.
Fwiw, The Alfies were on my Related Work nomination, but I'm sad that they're needed again.
markhh
Apr. 27th, 2016 09:03 am (UTC)
Join. Read. Vote.
I believe your analysis of how to go forward is spot-on. While I will applaud anyone who takes a principled decision to withdraw (as Thomas A. Mays just has) pressuring people to do so isn't acceptable.

I second you on "Join. Read. Vote."
zornhau
Apr. 27th, 2016 09:24 am (UTC)
Black Gate
I'm glad you posted this.

Black Gate, where I blog, got a nomination hopefully from our many, many readers, but were also on the VD slate.

We cover a lot of adventure, including Pulp and Neo Pulp, but we are a diverse lot without the kind of political agenda VD likes. We turned down a tainted nomination last year and ran articles repudiating them.

So I'm hoping we fall under the "shield" category this year...
the_corbie
Apr. 27th, 2016 08:50 pm (UTC)
Re: Black Gate
I'm no Puppy, but I nominated Black Gate, and I'll be voting for it as well. If it helps. :)
Re: Black Gate - zornhau - Apr. 27th, 2016 09:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Apr. 27th, 2016 09:28 am (UTC)
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Jeremy Szal
Apr. 27th, 2016 10:03 am (UTC)
Torn in two
Once again, you speak the truth. Seeing some of these categories, with amazing content on there, is a relief. Others, it’s like being crushed with a concrete block.

But I’m torn. As I’m sure you’ve seen, Tales to Terrify, StarShipSofa's sister horror podcast, made the ballot. At first, we all couldn't be happier at District of Wonders, especially the folks over at TTT. Hugo Award for one, a Hugo nom for another. For two out of three DoW podcasts. That's got to be a record.

But it’s on this year.

And it could very well taint us. Because Vox Day threw it up on his website - a fact that disgusts me. The same with Pierce Brown, Daniel Polansky, Alastair Reynolds, Nnedi Okorafo. All of them amazing writers. All of whom would have gotten on the ballot regardless of the Puppies.

All of them - and us - under threat of the Noah Ward. Because that's what VD wants. To rub it in our faces. Scalzi has the right of it when he says they're just trying to take credit for ruining the Hugos. There’s no way in hell they had more power than Gaiman, King, Stevenson, etc. They’re trying to discredit their names.
Let’s not let them do that. Don’t give them more credit than they’re worth.

Ultimately, we're happy that Tales to Terrify got a Hugo nomination. But I'm also worried that the whole Noah Ward and ballot association would drag us down. I don't know how many of you know this, but TTT founding host and editor Larry Santoro died just under two years ago from cancer. He gave TTT everything he had and the whole community adored him. He was absolutely dedicated not only to diversity, but showcasing newer writers alongside bigger ones. He was a powerhouse – we all loved him and it crushed us all when he passed. The fact that Tales to Terrify got this nomination now and was supposedly bloc voted on not only threatens to undo everything he and the team worked on, but soil his reputation as well.

Not getting the award? Not a big deal.

Having Larry’s legacy and the years he spent working on the podcast dragged through the mud? Quite a big deal.

It’s a mixed bag result. Knowing that people thought we were worthy is amazing and awesome. But knowing that all that Larry’s work could be wiped out like this is troubling. I can’t even imagine what his widow is thinking right now.

But from where I stand, pulling out is the last thing we, and others, should do. We’re going to be judged and evaluated either way. But we’re not going to let Day win. He doesn’t deserve that. He doesn’t get to destroy these special moments and destroy reputations.



Edited at 2016-04-27 04:57 pm (UTC)
marcaramini
Apr. 28th, 2016 03:06 am (UTC)
RE: Torn in two
Larry's work could never be tainted. He is gone, and no arbitrary thing like this can take away what he has accomplished and left behind.

The whole weight people are putting on public perception seems to assume that objective quality is just a matter of fickle and relativistic events, but nothing could be further from the truth. These things will pass, and what is left is the love larry left behind. They don't know it yet, but it is the same with us, too.
Re: Torn in two - grrm - Apr. 28th, 2016 05:24 am (UTC) - Expand
themis1
Apr. 27th, 2016 10:06 am (UTC)
Sad. Can't help wondering what the breakdown of the nationality of the nominators would tell us. I am wondering if the people who support the RP slate are the same ones who think Trump would make a great president.
kjn
Apr. 27th, 2016 10:08 am (UTC)
To me, the really principled and best thing a finalist could have done, but as far as I know none did, was to quietly decline being a Hugo finalist when the Hugo administrators came calling. That would give the Hugo administrators a real opportunity to put in another, non-tainted, candidate. But it would also mean that you miss out on the publicity, your victory would be similar to the one in Sturgeon's "Thunder and Roses", unsung, anonymous, and only for people other than yourself.

Note: I'm only talking about the RP-slated works here. The SP's had no discernable effect at all this year, and also ran in a different way, as you note.
grrm
Apr. 27th, 2016 06:05 pm (UTC)
Why do you assume that the next work up would be "non tainted?" Could be something much worse. We don't know who finished sixth in any of these categories.
(no subject) - kjn - Apr. 27th, 2016 08:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
I think he means... - Frank Probst - Apr. 28th, 2016 01:33 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - arfisk - Apr. 29th, 2016 03:00 am (UTC) - Expand
Joshua Bowers
Apr. 27th, 2016 10:32 am (UTC)
It's my least favorite season again: Puppy Season.
The drama surrounding the Hugos is just annoying. It does make me want to read more, so I can have a better informed opinion on the matter.
jeffreyab
Apr. 27th, 2016 11:52 am (UTC)
Agreed, especially since Alastair Reynold's "Slow Bullets" was the first work I nominated and I was unaware that he had asked to be de-slated.
arien 2
Apr. 27th, 2016 12:22 pm (UTC)
Why change the Hugos?
Like or not Rabids are here to stay, unless they choose to go (as naïve as that might sound).
We have seen Sad Puppies and their reading list have gone the way any other reading list can go and in fact gotten very little nominations of their own.
The obvious problem is the Rabids’ slate and the fact that as long as they have a solid group of people backing them it will probably be impossible to outnumber them in the nomination process no matter what alterations are made, except for maybe EPH. However, I don’t trust a system that is so hard to understand and I feel like it might somehow deter what should be a democratic process (though logically I might understand that it doesn’t).
I actually believe that there is no need to modify the nomination rules at all just because of some people that only want promoting and who nominate (as we have seen with Neiman or King) hoping to get other authors to retire the nominations that they justly deserve, to destroy our freedom of choice and to eventually make the Hugos less worthy.
We should not modify the existing rules of the nomination process. Nonetheless, we could take measures so that slates don’t reduce our choices in the final ballot by adding a Protocol in case of Slates.
For each category in the final ballot, we could have our five most voted non-slated nominations AND all the slated nominations that ranked higher than the fifth non-slated one.
That would make a longer list of candidates in the final ballot, but all those that would have been selected where not for the Rabids’ slate would also be part of it.
Then it would be a matter of finally making a GOOD USE of No Award and filter all those works that don’t deserve a Hugo and then order our preferences of those that do.
It’s true that by doing so we would recognize the Rabids (or any slate) existence, but at the same time we would deprive them of their power. If they nominate some unworthy stuff, never mind, we still have our picks and theirs go under No Award. If they nominate something good that much more people would approve of and would probably have contended anyway, okay some less known non-slated author or artist got a boost and some publicity from being nominated. If they create more than one slate, then their votes will be divided and they will weed themselves out of the final ballot.
The only disadvantage I can see is that they do will get some promotion, but they are getting that anyway and also enjoying the current confrontation. Hopefully, with this protocol they would eventually see that their endeavor is fruitless and then they can continue making slates or get bored and let the Hugos be what they were a few years ago.
kevin_standlee
Apr. 27th, 2016 09:47 pm (UTC)
How do you decide what is on a "slate" and what is not? Who is your Strong Man who picks who is considered worthy? After all, what you call a "slate" is what someone else calls a "recommendation list" and vice versa.
How I would do it - arien 2 - Apr. 28th, 2016 07:21 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ryancampbell - Apr. 29th, 2016 05:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Stephenspower
Apr. 27th, 2016 01:55 pm (UTC)
Tom Mays
Tom Mays has already declined his nomination:

https://improbableauthor.com/2016/04/26/regarding-my-2016-hugo-award-nomination/

zanzjan
Apr. 27th, 2016 01:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks once again for the considered and incisive words of wisdom. A good sanity-check as always. (-:
kate_schaefer
Apr. 27th, 2016 02:08 pm (UTC)
Rabid Puppies: inflating the market value of vintage hood ornaments.
sturgeonslawyer
Apr. 27th, 2016 02:58 pm (UTC)
It's also worth noting that Marc Aramini's book on Gene Wolfe is a serious and excellent work of scholarship in spite of coming from Castalia Press/slating, and should be given serious consideration.
Vera de Ferran
Apr. 27th, 2016 03:06 pm (UTC)
Hi George, I know the Hugo is a seriuous thing for you. I really understand your anger and I've never been really involved with the Hugo besides reading about it, but... don't you think you end up giving much attention/importance to VD? Isn't he just enjoying all that in his sad pathetic way? I've been questioning myself a lot about the attention we give to things we hate. And some of these things, just grow bigger when we do that.
grrm
Apr. 28th, 2016 01:38 am (UTC)
No doubt you are correct. As a general rule, I try not to feed trolls. When the troll seizes the Hugo ballot and pisses all over it, however, I find it harder to ignore.
Alternate Snowcrash
Apr. 27th, 2016 03:08 pm (UTC)
Sigh. Couple of things. Firstly, Thomas Mays has withdrawn "The Commuter" from the Short Story ballot, so there should be at one non Rabid entry in that category.

http://file770.com/?p=28662

Secondly, this ballot is going to be the single best argument for ratifying EPH. I realise that OGH has been doubtful of it, but given the trainwreck, I think it should be clear that (a) There are trolls who will never stop trying to destroy something; (b) there is a glaring weakness in the current nomination system that enables these trolls to have an undue influence.

Incidents like these require extraordinary mitigation steps. I'm not sure if EPH will be enough, but I do think it's necessary.

Finally, I'm looking at the exchange rates and waiting for a more favourable time to buy my MAC2 supporting membership, and so I haven't decided on my voting methodology this year. Last year I at the least tried to read everything. My current feelings are that nothing from Castalia's press, site, or writers will get a look in from me. I'll see how i feel once the packet is out.

Second finally, thanks for the Alfies. Again, I wish that they weren't necessary.
(Deleted comment)
Frank Probst
Apr. 27th, 2016 03:24 pm (UTC)
Beale's list
I didn't even realize that Beale's list overlapped so much with the nominees, because I didn't bother looking at Beale's list when the noms came out, and most of the categories seemed to have reasonable nominees in them. I'm still against changing the rules, but it now won't bother me quite as much if 4/6 or EPH passes. I still think that letting Beale have ANY influence over how you vote is a mistake. Yes, he's meddled with the noms two years in a row now, but I don't think that people will keep buying supporting memberships just to wreck the awards. And to everybody else, please don't pass out "asterisks" this year, and please don't applaud when No Award wins. If you're a nominee, hearing that No Award just beat your work is heartbreaking enough as it is. There's no need to pile on with raucous applause.
kevin_standlee
Apr. 27th, 2016 03:29 pm (UTC)
The Long List ("we also heard from") issued after the Hugo Awards ceremony is the top 15, by rule. The results will say how many individual works/people were nominated overall, though.

Alas, one of the things I'm seeing now is people saying that we need a Strong Administrator who will just throw out "slate" ballots based on his individual judgement. While that is how some awards programs work (and they then do not tell you that they did so, nor are they required to do so), the Hugo Awards administrative process, the rules for which are written by the members of the Worldcon, not some Secret Select Cabal, is designed to require a great deal of openness (despite what its critics would claim), and Administrators aren't supposed to use much or any subjective judgement. I try to warn people that you really don't want an Administrator to be able to throw out a ballot using the criteria "I personally didn't like this choice," or "I ascribe specific motives to this individual, and therefore won't count it."

We'll hear a lot about No Award in the months to come. The way I've approached it in the past (not just last year) and continue to approach it is this:

If you don't think a finalist deserved to be on the ballot at all, don't rank it, and vote No Award somewhere on your ballot.

This is the most straightforward way of "downvoting" a finalist. Rank anything you want to win above No Award. When you get to the point where you don't think any of the remaining finalists deserve to be on the ballot, rank No Award and stop ranking candidates. But remember that "did not deserve to be on the ballot" and "I didn't personally like it" are two different things. In fact, they're not even mutually exclusive. You can personally like something but think that it did not deserve to have a place on the Hugo Award shortlist.
Red Zen
Apr. 27th, 2016 03:48 pm (UTC)
So, more of the same. This year, and all years.

Every year of the Hugos from now on is to be another cycle of identity-politics, draining the souls of everybody involved, with partisans on all sides writing strategizing blog posts about how the other side is to blame.

What a waste.

Edited at 2016-04-27 03:51 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - snowspinner - Apr. 27th, 2016 07:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
Alfie List - EneaszWrites - Apr. 27th, 2016 04:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Alfie List - rcade - Apr. 27th, 2016 07:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kevin_standlee - Apr. 27th, 2016 09:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ianrgillespie - Apr. 27th, 2016 07:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kevin_standlee - Apr. 27th, 2016 09:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
Frank Probst
Apr. 27th, 2016 03:29 pm (UTC)
Thomas Mays (Short Story)
Looks like we have our first withdrawal.
yagathai
Apr. 27th, 2016 08:37 pm (UTC)
Re: Thomas Mays (Short Story)
Yes. He tried to have his cake and eat it too, by accepting knowing full well he was a slate candidate, then very publicly withdrawing immediately afterwards. He's trying to be a martyr and a hero at the same time.

His previous blog posts are full of mealy-mouthed rhetoric in the vein of "I'm not on the Puppies side, but you have to admit they make some good points"... . Guy's trying to play both sides, and it's really distasteful to watch.

Edited at 2016-04-27 08:38 pm (UTC)
Re: Thomas Mays (Short Story) - Frank Probst - Apr. 28th, 2016 01:44 am (UTC) - Expand
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