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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).


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Apr. 10th, 2015 05:26 am (UTC)
You ought to work a band of rowdy knights or outlaws named The Sad Puppies into Son of Kong. Perhaps smallfolk can start calling Gregor Clegane's former armsmen the Sad Puppies.
Apr. 10th, 2015 05:26 am (UTC)
Well said.
Apr. 10th, 2015 05:36 am (UTC)
The Second Coming
I first learned that Yeats quote back in High School back in '89. It seems as appropriate now as ever. :(
Apr. 10th, 2015 05:38 am (UTC)
The proposals I've seen have been about blocking the ability to capture all nominees in a category via slates, not about the Puppies in particular.

To be very clear: yes, I'm against the Puppies; between white supremacists like Vox Day and rabid homophobes who think I shouldn't exist like John C. Wright, I'd be lying to pretend otherwise.

But with regard to rules changes, I am only willing to consider changes that work against slates in general, and not one that targets these jerks specifically. And so far, that's what I've seen. But I have not been researching them comprehensively; it's far too early for that.

Otherwise without rules changes, it's slates vs. slates as far as the eye can see. Parties form because they work. A slate of 10% got all nominations in most literary categories. That will not go unanswered - either by rules changes to reduce the power of slates, or by opposition parties. And that's just all there is to that.

I know which poison I'd prefer.

Edited at 2015-04-10 05:44 am (UTC)
Apr. 10th, 2015 10:18 am (UTC)
Word. The nomination process needs to be made more democratic, not to keep the Puppies out, but to get better proportional representation on the ballots. It's the same basic principal as the reason we rank works on the ballot instead of just ticking our first choice. A more proportional nomination process should improve the quality of the final ballot even in the absence of this sort of obvious bloc voting. Yay democracy!
(no subject) - mneme - Apr. 10th, 2015 07:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
don't quite agree - jamesonquinn - Apr. 10th, 2015 11:30 am (UTC) - Expand
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Re: don't quite agree - hereville - Apr. 10th, 2015 08:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Hi. - asombreroman - Apr. 10th, 2015 12:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
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I'm vaguely surprised that got unscreened - solarbird - Apr. 10th, 2015 08:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
This Distinction Doesn't Fly - jimhenley - Apr. 10th, 2015 07:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: This Distinction Doesn't Fly - ihatenamessono - Apr. 10th, 2015 08:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: This Distinction Doesn't Fly - thewrittenpath - Apr. 10th, 2015 08:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: This Distinction Doesn't Fly - jimhenley - Apr. 10th, 2015 08:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: This Distinction Doesn't Fly - grrm - Apr. 10th, 2015 09:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: This Distinction Doesn't Fly - ihatenamessono - Apr. 10th, 2015 10:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Re: This Distinction Doesn't Fly - ihatenamessono - Apr. 11th, 2015 10:21 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: This Distinction Doesn't Fly - grrm - Apr. 11th, 2015 06:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: This Distinction Doesn't Fly - renepavan - Apr. 11th, 2015 07:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: This Distinction Doesn't Fly - ihatenamessono - Apr. 11th, 2015 09:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Why is this a thing - Katryna Wade - Apr. 17th, 2015 12:27 am (UTC) - Expand
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Re: Belief - asombreroman - Apr. 11th, 2015 01:54 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Belief - grrm - Apr. 11th, 2015 04:51 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Belief - solarbird - Apr. 11th, 2015 06:04 am (UTC) - Expand
Seen from the outside... - questron - Apr. 10th, 2015 08:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 10th, 2015 05:43 am (UTC)
(That's Yeats, not me. Just to be clear).

Huh, I thought it was Pat "Hobbit" Hobbins. I'll have to go dig around in the attic for my old LPs to double-check the liner notes.
Apr. 10th, 2015 01:35 pm (UTC)
Re: Yeats?
Oh, please. Hobbins is only revered so much because of his early death. Every trufan knows Peter Faxon wrote those lines.
(no subject) - emp_sheeptopia - Apr. 11th, 2015 04:27 am (UTC) - Expand
Jesse Wilson
Apr. 10th, 2015 06:00 am (UTC)
keep on keepin on
Let me start off by saying I knew literally nothing about this argument until you began posting about it. I do however follow politics rather closely and I can say from my experience that there are groups of people that will go out of their way to see some form of persecution in everything. Arguing with them in my opinion results in nothing being accomplished. That being said the only way i see to go forward is to stop arguing with them altogether. Just concentrate on doing what you can do to make sure that the books and shows and movies that you love are represented. If that means beating them at there own game then so be it but if you start trying to exclude them because they accuse you of being exclusionary then you only prove their point. We cant control what the other side does in this argument or any other, and we cant pretend to live in a world where they don't exist. Fortunately we can visit that world from time to time.
Apr. 10th, 2015 06:04 am (UTC)
The sliver of optimism I see is that maybe there will be a lot of people like me who, having seen all this brouhaha will think, "hey, yeah, that thing. That thing is cool. I should join it and become involved." (So far, I have twice lived in cities that have hosted worldcon and have somehow totally missed that it was happening until it was way too late. It's probably time to fix that, huh?)
Apr. 10th, 2015 06:37 am (UTC)
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Apr. 10th, 2015 06:38 am (UTC)
I have worried over the whole "No Award" issue for several days now. I agree completely with GRRM. The only sensible thing we can do is to simply review the nominees and vote as if Puppy slates never happened.

This won't be easy to do. I wish there was some way to redact the names involved and wipe my memory of the block slates. I am not sure that I can even come close to objectivity when it comes to some of the nominations, especially some of the more egregious on the Rabid Puppy slate. I suspect that no matter how hard I try to be objective I will still be susceptible to bias when it comes to Castalia House.

Another item which causes me concern is one of the more recent responses from Vox Day in a thread at File770 in which he states, "If No Award takes a fiction category, you will likely never see another award given in that category again. The sword cuts both ways, Lois. We are prepared for all eventualities." ( http://file770.com/?p=21780&cpage=1&hc_location=ufi#comment-250236 )

This is disturbing and makes it even more difficult to be objective when considering the nominees. I will try.

On the issue of future changes to the nomination process, I also agree. If bullies are trying to change our system, then changing the system is the last thing we should do. Unfortunately, the matter seems to be picking up a full head of steam, especially with Bruce Schneier's thread on voting systems over at Teresa Nielsen Hayden's Making Light ( http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/016199.html ). I hope that GRRM's post above will be a moderating influence on everyone.

I began this week in a state of extreme anger at what happened. Thanks to GRRM's very level-headed, considered posts here, I have managed to calm down. We should not become as reactionary as those we oppose. Hopefully, by the time of Sasquan, cooler heads will prevail - on both sides.
Apr. 10th, 2015 07:56 pm (UTC)
Vox Day is basically saying "Nice Awards you've got there. You do realize that nobody who fails to kiss up to *me* will ever have a chance at one again, right?"

Is this really what we want? If not, perhaps we'd better make sure that people don't profit from getting a place on a slate.
Apr. 10th, 2015 06:45 am (UTC)
How to assess Best Editor categories?
The strategy outlined here for ranking/use of 'No Award' seems most fair. In some ways I wish I could 'unknow' who was on the slate, and what various stances certain authors had, because it's really going to influence my reading, there's no way it can't. Last year (my first vote - I discovered WorldCon through LonCon3) I voted without having any idea who most of these people were, and definitely no idea that there was a Puppy movement.

One exception I'll make in the 'trying to divorce the politics' is for Vox Day, because, after only a little reading about what he stands for, the idea of him getting a Hugo makes me feel sick to the stomach. However, I really have no idea how to assess the Best Editor categories. (I didn't vote in that category last year, because I just didn't know where to start).

George/anyone else reading this - how do I go about making a fair appraisal in the Best Editor categories? What criteria should I be using to assess the nominees? Is there any guidance anywhere about this?
Apr. 10th, 2015 04:50 pm (UTC)
Re: How to assess Best Editor categories?
The whole concept of "Best Editor" is flawed, because you never know what they started with -- what stories they saw, what they bought, what they rejected, how much editing they did.

Absent that information, we can only judge by the end result, the final product. To compare Toni Weisskopf to Sheila Gilbert, for instance, look at the books published by Baen last year (edited by Toni) compared to the books published by DAW (edited by Sheila).

It's not perfect, but unless you know the "inside stuff," that's all we have.
(no subject) - kevin_standlee - Apr. 10th, 2015 07:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: How to assess Best Editor categories? - mb_s - Apr. 10th, 2015 08:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 10th, 2015 06:53 am (UTC)
+1 for Hobbins.

I do intend to vote No Award above everything that was on either slate. This has unfortunate consequences, and I feel bad about those, but that's where my personal moral balance lies.

I'm not doing this to punish the nominees who were unaware. I do not believe in blanket guilt by association, and it's very clear at this point that there were some people who weren't guilty. I'm doing it to make it clear that including some percentage of unassociated works on a slate doesn't change anything.

I am 100% sure that neither Sad or Rabid Puppies will distinguish between a nominee who wholeheartedly agrees with them and a nominee who didn't know what was happening, should any of their candidates win. I don't want to see the victory celebration; it'll be touted as a success story, used as propaganda, and the slate will be more likely to succeed the next time.

I also believe that even the non-Puppy candidates are, to some degree, affected. In Best Novel, without the Puppies, we'd have had three other nominations. In 2012, the eventual winner for Best Related Work was 4th on the nomination list -- so it's entirely possible that the Puppies have already squeezed out a work that would have won a Hugo under normal circumstances.

This won't keep me from voting for non-Puppy candidates, but it's another piece of truth that makes me think that the Hugos are already broken for this year. The non-consenting Puppy candidates were already punished by the slate compilers. I'm just acknowledging something that already happened, with no animosity.

Is my choice a good choice? Nope. I agree that I don't have any good choices.
(Deleted comment)
Anthony DeMarco
Apr. 10th, 2015 06:54 am (UTC)
Thanks George
I've learned more about the genre reading these posts than in all my combined years of being a fan. So thanks for that. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Sci Fi and Fantasy are way more popular now than they have ever been so I'm sure that 90% of the people who read/comment here feel the same way about the history lessons you've been giving.

I am not a Worldcon member but now I am kind of inspired to be one. Now that you've called the banners expect 100,000 screaming Northmen by your side.

As for these Puppies, I know you said some are reasonable and we have to hope that those people find a voice over the lunatics. I understand why you had to be so thorough and say all the things you did, but you know you can't reason with madmen. It doesn't mean the good fight isn't worth fighting. Anyone who actually read those posts and understood them should come around but you know there will be plenty who despite being confronted with undeniable facts continue to manufacture reasons that justify their prejudice.

It's sad that you had to do this but unfortunately it was necessary, and thanks again.

PS If you're ever back home (yep, I'm from the same weird little peninsula) and some bearded guy in a Stark tee shirt comes up to you don't call the cops, it's just me.

PPS Hail to the Redskins.
Apr. 10th, 2015 07:03 am (UTC)
Yeah, George, I have to agree with Solarbird. Because there's a lot of sf/fantasy out there, and because of people having different tastes, if lockstep bloc voting for slates that take up most of the ballot aren't stopped, we may as well entertain the proposal to make 2016 the last Hugos.

The Sad Puppies actions this year prove this; remember, before issuing the slate, they solicited recommendations (and if they'd just stopped there....). For Best Novel, they got more than 30 recs...none of which were recommended by more than 5 people. Similarly, it takes just 10% or so of the number of people nominating to get something on the ballot; 15% is (currently) pretty much a sure thing. But if the SPs hadn't issued a slate, their supporters' nominations would've been as scattered as those of the non-Puppy nominators.

Also, I'll give the SPs a small benefit of the doubt. But it's clear, based on his statements, that VD and the Rabids (*not* the name of my next rock band) basically want to destroy the Hugos. He's declared he's running a "Thanatos Gambit" where he feels he wins if the Hugos are destroyed or if No Award wins, or if his slate wins. And if none of that happens, he claims he's just going to try harder next time. At this point, ignoring the SPs, we're still up against someone who is fanatical about either remaking the Hugos in his image or destroying them, and unfortunately has the resources to keep trying. Putting up defenses against this is not a bad thing.
Apr. 11th, 2015 04:36 am (UTC)

I am SO putting a band named VD and the Rabid Puppies in a book. They'll be a screaming death metal band, all neon spiked hair, and questionable morals.

Maybe I should leave the Puppies part off...

(no subject) - davidgoldfarb - Apr. 12th, 2015 08:09 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 10th, 2015 07:07 am (UTC)
Oh, and in your paragraph #5, I think you meant "eliminate the supporting memberships", not "eliminate the attending memberships"...'cause it's kinda hard to have a Worldcon if no one can attend. : -)

And the "poor guy" who might have to hand VD a Hugo is either co-host of the ceremony (and Writer GOH) David Gerrold or Tananarive Due. Leading David to comment that all the Hugo winners this year will have their Hugo handed to them by either a gay man or a black woman. He's also pointed out that "Noah Ward" is one of his officially registered pseudonyms in Hollywood, and (jokingly I hope) plans to take home any Hugos that his namesake wins.
Apr. 10th, 2015 04:52 pm (UTC)
Ooops. Yes, need to correct that.
Apr. 10th, 2015 07:28 am (UTC)
I will say, however, as someone who has never been privy to the Hugo voting community [or these Machiavellian power plays inside of it], I am now, and that's only because of you and this blog, George. So, for what it's worth, hopefully your Livejournal posts have turned a slew of new people on to this neoconservative madhouse.
Apr. 11th, 2015 04:39 am (UTC)

I, for one, am now thinking of getting a membership.  Probably too late to vote this year (?? haven't looked that up), but next year...

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