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On the Darkling Plain

The longer the Puppygate Wars drag on, the more pessimistic I grow about the future of the Hugo Awards. I started out by saying that the Sad Puppies (and their Rabid cousins) had broken them, and every day and every post and blog and story I read underlines the truth of that.

My friend Janice Gelb, long time worldcon volunteer and SMOF, has suggested that the only thing we can do at this point is abolish the Hugo Awards altogether. When I first heard that notion, I dismissed it out of hand. Some good will, some civility, a mutual exchange of ideas, and surely we could find a way to salvage the situation.

I am no longer convinced of that. The Sad Puppies are digging in and doubling down, and so is worldcon fandom. Meanwhile, off in the cesspools, the Rabid Puppies grow ever more rabid. Nuclear options are being seriously considered, and Vox Day has apparently threatened that if NO AWARD wins in any category, he will see to it that no award is ever given in that category again.

My first inclination was to dismiss that threat as so much toxic wind. But I am not so sure. According to FILE 770 http://file770.com/?p=21877 there have been 1352 new Supporting Memberships purchased this month, an unprecedented number. Very few of these purchases, I fear, were motivated by a sincere desire to support WorldCon. No, all these new supporting members are plonking down their money for a vote on the Hugos.

Ah, but which side do they represent? Are these members of traditional fandom, signing up to take back their awards? Are these Sad Puppy supporters, anxious to vote their slate to victory? Are these all NO AWARDers? Or maybe these are the Vox Day fans. Beale seems to have much more control over his followers than Correia and Torgensen do over theirs... the ballot actually has more Rabid Puppies than Sad ones. Could it be that Vox Day has successfully roused the GamerGate bogeyman that he was been threatening us with? No one knows. Unless...

I think it is All of the Above.

Meanwhile, two of this year's nominees have withdrawn their stories from contention: Marko Kloos in Best Novel, and Annie Bellett in Best Short Story. I understand their desire to be out of this mess. Both nominations were, pretty clearly, due to their inclusion on the Sad Puppy slate, but neither writer was actually an active participant in the slate-making. And both were first time nominees. I remember how much joy my first Hugo nomination brought me in 1974, and I regret that these two young writers (I do not know either one, I am not familiar with their work, and I have no idea of their political, religious, or literary convictions) will think back on their own nominations with regret and rancor, rather than fondly. One's first Hugo nomination, like one's first sexual experience, should be a memory to treasure, not a trauma.

The flood of supporting memberships will continue, I think. I believe one can still join (and vote) up to July 1. Those 1300 new supporting members will become 1500... maybe 2000... maybe 3000. Very few of whom will bother to turn up at the con. Great news for SasQuan's bottom line. Not so great for fandom. For worldcon. For SF. More Sad Puppies may withdraw, (I doubt very much that any of the Rabid Puppies will), like Kloos and Bellett. More presenters may withdraw, like Connie Willis. The business meeting will be loud and long and rancorous, as all these new rules proposals are debated and voted on. And the Hugo Awards themselves...

I do not see a happy outcome here.

Maybe all the new voters are Vox Day acolytes, and the Rabid Puppies will sweep the board.

Maybe the NO AWARDers will carry the day, and the night will end with no Hugos given out at all. And then Vox Day will double down next year and try to make good on his threat to make sure no more Hugos are ever given.

Maybe NO AWARD will win in the All-Puppy categories (Related Work and the three Short Fiction categories), while the other rockets go to the non-Puppy nominees in split categories. I actually thought this was the most likely outcome, until I read about the flood of new members.

Maybe some awards will go to Puppies, and some to non-Puppies. A split verdict. I don't see this as likely at all, actually... I think those new voters are going to trend one way or another, heavily... but I supposed it could happen. And afterward, wow, what fun getting all the winners together for the traditional "class photograph."

Any way the dice fall, I foresee lots of booing and hissing as the names are called out, lots of unhappy presenters, angry winners and angrier losers.

Only one thing for certain: no matter what happens, Vox Day will declare that he's won.

And as for me... I don't know right now. On odd numbered days, I lean toward opting out of SasQuan entirely. Stay home, work on the book, I don't need this grief. On even numbered days, I am determined to go... and to go BIG. Take the Hugo Losers Party back. I started it, after all. And this year, so far as the Hugos are concerned, we are all going to be losers.

It is all very depressing.

Fandom is supposed to be fun.


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Apr. 16th, 2015 02:01 am (UTC)
I'll still be at Sasquan. If you go, can I be an honorary Hugo Loser?
Apr. 16th, 2015 02:09 am (UTC)
I don't think "honorary" enters into it. Being nominated for a Hugo and then withdrawing... yes, that qualifies. (And not just any Hugo. The Big One. Hardest of all to win).

If we're both at SasQuan, look me up, I'll give you a ribbon.
(no subject) - ondairos - Apr. 16th, 2015 02:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - gonzo21 - Apr. 16th, 2015 10:31 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 16th, 2015 02:02 am (UTC)
I bought a supporting membership for the first time this year, I had no idea that buying a supporting membership would allow one to nominate/vote for the Hugo's even if one didn't attend the convention.*

The reason I bought my supporting membership was a direct response to Puppygate, an author I follow and admire managed to get on the best novel ballot (without being on a slate). When I heard about the brouhaha I went to a lot of sites and read a lot of comments, pro puppy, anti puppy and everything in between (including your excellent posts George) I read about boycotting and No Awards across the board voting, I read about how to fix the awards and how to make it so slate voting wouldn't have impact in future. I read about calling for these awards to be canceled to be done over next year I understand (most) of it.

But I don't think that condemning the innocent with the guilty is just or fair and I've always been against throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

I bought a membership, so I could support the Hugo's (and worldcon though I'll never attend one) It seems to me the only way to respond ethically is to take part. If I don't want to support the vocal minority then I have to use my voice and vote.

I'm going to read the works and I'm going to vote for the ones I think are the most worthy of an award and not vote for ones that aren't (and if the puppies managed to pick someone worthy I'm going to vote for them, just because a small group of the people doing the nominating behaved badly doesn't mean it's OK for me to do the same thing back at em.

I don't want to be like the puppies.

* and if I'd known that you get a reading packet with the supporting membership I'd have started buying them a long time ago... more stories to read..nomnomnom.
Apr. 16th, 2015 02:11 am (UTC)
That is my approach as well.

Read the works. Vote for those you think deserve a Hugo. Those you deem unworthy, rank below No Award.

And please not, when I say "unworthy," that does NOT mean "worst shit I ever read" or "despicable" or any such thing... all it means is, "no, this one is not of Hugo calibre."
(no subject) - bobkmando - Apr. 16th, 2015 02:32 am (UTC) - Expand
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The Man Who Fell to Earth - stankrom - Apr. 17th, 2015 08:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 16th, 2015 02:10 am (UTC)
Hi George
I love reading your blog on livejournal, especially when you talk about the craft of writing and what writing does for you (other than pay the bills!)

I hope you return to that format soon.

I care not what puppygate is, nor do I want to know. I am really not interested and I see that you have made way too many blog posts about it.

Anyway, have a great evening.

Apr. 16th, 2015 02:11 am (UTC)
I don't really know that much about Worldcon or the Hugos, but I'm compelled by all your posts on this matter, and I'm really sorry that you and other writers have to watch your beloved tradition go through this quandary.

You have inspired me to (with some luck) be a sci-fi writer one day (I'm currently hoping and trying hard). I just hope that, in the event I finish a piece, there's a good, fun-loving audience out there for it. Perhaps it will be judged at the Hugos, no reason to give up all hope just yet.
Jason Kenney
Apr. 16th, 2015 02:17 am (UTC)
o.0: Why not just allow the voters to write-in their own nominations for the award?

Furthermore, it seems to me anyone deliberately trying to derail the Hugos should be banned from WorldCon, and from nomination for the Hugos.

Secondly, the Sad Puppies should just have their own award. That way their fans will know what books to pick up.
Apr. 16th, 2015 02:31 am (UTC)
Write-ins are not permitted under the rules, alas.
(no subject) - kevin_standlee - Apr. 16th, 2015 05:10 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 16th, 2015 02:19 am (UTC)
Are these members of traditional fandom.
The first NYC pride parade I marched in I realized I didn't fit in at a lot of groups. I didn't like a lot of the "we want to be victims" groups politics,I marched with the LBGT Gamers and Sci Fi fans as there are no Pink Pistols in NYC. Now Gaymerx is purging anyone who learned from minecraft that its not just a brick. There are several gay sci fi fans at GayPatriot. I have enjoyed SciFi since I was a child, what other requirements would you put for voting?

I have been excommunicated from the Temple of the Bacon Eating GRINDR Rabbi for the heresy of noticing the demographics of those who commit crimes against gays, so what litmus test should worldcon have for badthink?
Apr. 16th, 2015 02:53 am (UTC)
As a conservative this entire episode upsets me.
I enjoy Sci Fi/fantasy and I don't like when politics are needlessly injected into the genre like Larry has. For the record I like Larry's books, but he's wrong about everything he's doing.

1st: If a person is passionate about liberal things it shouldn't be surprising that it is reflected in their work. It's the same with Larry's books. He's passionate about guns, and that's reflected in his book. Some people might say that he's writing right-wing propaganda, just as he's saying others are writing left wing propaganda.

2nd: Labels like left/right/liberal/conservative/democrat/republican have become shortcuts to thinking, and I see it on both sides all the time. I know some will read this and say that I'm not a conservative/libertarian because I didn't check off every box on the list, but I read both arguments on both sides, and know that the purpose of sad/rabid puppies isn't their stated purpose because all their nominees are toxic, and won't be seen as legitimate whether they win or not. That's why some withdrew their nominations.

Their real reasons are self promotion. I read/listened to several interviews that Larry's done for political blogs. He portray's himself as the underdog taking on this big liberal institution. That I believe is the source of all the new memberships. So if anyone has injected politics into the Hugos it's the SP/RP. Everyone else was nominating their favorite books.

3rd: If Larry is being sincere and he just wanted to bring attention to other worthy books then there was definitely a better way to go about it. He's become toxic, the authors he associates with automatically become toxic as well. Five years from now if Marco Kloos is nominated for a Hugo people will be asking themselves if it was because of his work or because it was organized behind his back. Sad if you think about it.

I just know that when a story of a scandal or some other problem breaks that a lot of people will skim a story to find out the ideology of the person involved before forming an opinion. "Oh, this person is a member of this party, so I must defend/crucify him now." I know this is the case because I see people contradicting themselves all the time. That is what we're seeing at the Hugo's right now...
Apr. 16th, 2015 03:01 am (UTC)
Mr. Martin, I sincerely hope your odd-numbered day feelings turn out to be unfounded and that your even-numbered day optimism and that of David Gerrold proves true.

On my bad days I grow pessimistic about the Hugos as well. But I am only a voter. It saddens me to learn that the atmosphere has become so toxic that writers I deeply respect have become despondent. I have only ever been a supporting member, unable to actually attend a Worldcon. If the poison of the Puppies wins the day and they manage to bring down the Hugos, then it would be a great loss to the SF community. We can only hope that common sense and reason prevail.

Edited at 2015-04-16 03:01 am (UTC)
Adam Wing
Apr. 16th, 2015 04:00 am (UTC)
I'm sorry that this part of your world, something in which you've invested such care, and from which you've taken such joy, is threatening to collapse on itself. For your sake and the sake of other dedicated SFF fans everywhere I hope it can return to what it was (if not in form, then in spirit).

I love the tone that you have maintained throughout these posts and want to thank you for managing to stay civil, and better still, insisting civility in others. I know how difficult this can be when a matter hits so close to home. The internet is saturated with poison.

While I enjoy science fiction and fantasy, I know very little about the Hugos or WorldCon (mostly just from what I've read on this blog over the years). But to these uninitiated eyes, one option might be to name the award of ANY winner nominated off a slate (regardless of who made the slate or why), a Slate Hugo (or something to that effect). It would be a permanent asterisk beside the award. It's a small thing but maybe it would go a little way toward discouraging nomination gaming.

Anyway, thanks again for the posts and the call for civility.

[edited for clarity]

Edited at 2015-04-16 04:03 am (UTC)
Apr. 16th, 2015 04:03 am (UTC)
Raise the price to $180
Having been a Science Fiction fan for almost 4 decades, I deplore the disgusting state of the field that it has become over the last 20 years.

I'd stopped going to the bookstore on a weekly basis, because it seemed all the publishers were churning out nothing but Romance novels in space and bodice ripper fantasy novels with poor plots and revolting characterization.

Then a light appeared in the East. A new day is dawning. A chance to turn back the tide of vomit that has overwhelmed the field of science fiction and fantasy.

My pockets are deep enough to afford $180 to vote in some quality writing. How much is it worth to the Social Justice Whores? Will it cut too deeply into their cat food budget?

You can talk all you want about "protecting OUR science fiction subgenre", but the truth is that you are the interlopers, you are the recent and poorly talented additions. You're squatters. And the eviction process started 3 years ago.

I don't think you really understand what turning the volume up to 23 looks like, yet. And your hatred of Truth when it is uncomfortable means that you never will, even after you experience it.
Apr. 16th, 2015 05:59 am (UTC)
Re: Raise the price to $180
If you stopped going to the bookstore, you don't know what sort of books are being published.

The "tide of vomit?" Classy.

"Social Justice Whores?" Abusive.

Go away. We want reasoned discourse here.
Re: Raise the price to $180 - mmaresca - Apr. 16th, 2015 08:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Raise the price to $180 - jcclimber - Apr. 17th, 2015 12:40 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
Re: Raise the price to $180 - puck108 - Apr. 17th, 2015 12:45 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 16th, 2015 04:18 am (UTC)
I do hope you come to Sasquan - it's my first ever Worldcon (and likely only, if it never comes back to the Pacific Northwest), and it's unexpectedly turned out to be an especially dramatic year! I'm kind of curious to see how people will behave "in person" as opposed to "in the comments"...
Apr. 16th, 2015 04:36 am (UTC)
My $.02
Mister Martin, I have been a very long time fan of your work...though I came at it from what appears to be a nonstandard angle. For a very long time, I just knew you as an editor big enough to have gotten his name on some books, as when Wild Cards first hit the shelves, I was deep into a phase where I was mostly devouring stuff by Asimov. A few years later, however, I stumbled on a copy of 'Tuf Voyaging' in the local used bookstore (even at 16, they already knew me by name). It looked interesting, so I snagged it. After loving the read, I did what any self-respecting fan does after discovering an author they like...and I started looking for other stuff you'd done. As it was sometime around 1991 or 92, I worked my way through the Wild Cards books. At this point, I should point out that, imho, Thomas Tudbury is your greatest creation...as I like him beyond any other character I've read that you've written (even managing to edge out Tyrion).

Like you, I grew up looking for that Hugo imprint on books when trying to find something new and good to read (Nebula wasn't bad, but Hugo was the one to grab), so I remember when it meant something...but when this whole kerfluffle started, I actually stopped and had to think REALLY hard about when the last time I read something that had even 'Hugo Nominee' on it. To be frank, I couldn't remember ANYTHING.

I believe that the people who supported Sad Puppies were, by and large, people like me. People who remembered back to the days when Hugo was something we looked for, but who hadn't seen the imprint in a very long time. People who had been told for YEARS that the Hugos were about the BEST stories in SFF, as chosen by FANS. People who thought, 'Well, I've been a fan since shortly after I learned to read...I'll nominate some of the stuff *I* like'.

And when they did, the people on the other side LOST THEIR MINDS. Instant frothing-at-the-mouth slander of the people nominated...that they're all white conservative men (they're not), that the SP organizers are racists and misogynists. Heck, one person actually unironically accused Mr Corriea of 'badthink'. Insults directed at the fans who voted stuff they liked onto the ballot Denial that these people are not, in fact, fans. Looking for ways to throw their votes out because they put stuff THEY liked on the ballot...and then threatening to DESTROY THE AWARDS rather than let fans who like apparently WRONG stuff have a voice.

All of which just serves to piss off these people even more and cause them to entrench more firmly, create more bad blood...and generally ratchet up the tension level.

A good chunk of the problem seems to be that the anti-Puppies group seems to be unable to recognize that the Sad Puppies are NOT the Rabid Puppies.

You yourself are apparently NOT immune to this, Mr Martin...as in one of your posts earlier, you accused Mr Corriea of getting John C Wright nominated SIX times. In point of fact, the SP proposed slate only had him suggested for TWO nominations. Heck, the RABID Puppies slate only had him nominated FIVE times. You accused Mr Corriea of supporting Vox Day...but the SP slate didn't even include him. That was the Rabid Puppies.

The constant misrepresentations to blame the SP for things they didn't do is ANOTHER thing that's got them busy digging in for the siege.

It was the anti-puppy contingent that started throwing around slander about the Puppy nominees and Puppies themselves.

It was the ANTI-PUPPY contingent that threatened to BURN the awards rather than let anyone else have them. (Something you yourself noted, Mr Martin.)

Stripping it all away, I think...the question that has to...that HAS TO be answered is this one:

Does the Hugo Award represent ALL of Fandom...or JUST the tastes of the attendees of one small convention with an admittedly storied history?

It can be one or the other.

If it's an award for just a single, shrinking convention...then the Hugos are pretty much doomed to fade into obscurity as larger conventions eclipse Worldcon as has been happening for years now.

But if it's an award for ALL of fandom, then it HAS to represent ALL of fandom. You can't exclude some fans and not others. We're ALL fans, Mr Martin. Even if we don't all like the same stuff.
Apr. 16th, 2015 06:02 am (UTC)
Re: My $.02
Thanks for your thoughts... but I think we've covered all these points already, and I don't see that repeating myself will convince you. Obviously, we disagree.

I want the Hugo Awards to remain the Oscars of SF & fantasy.

Let DragonCon start the People's Choice awards for "all of fandom."
Academy - bibliophilip - Apr. 16th, 2015 01:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: My $.02 - ra_sun1 - Apr. 16th, 2015 08:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: My $.02 - hereville - Apr. 16th, 2015 01:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: My $.02 - jrmsever - Apr. 17th, 2015 05:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 16th, 2015 04:39 am (UTC)
I'm taking it as an opportunity to practice Radical Acceptance:

1. Accept that my feelings around the issue are normal and acceptable considering the circumstances.
2. Accept that I am not responsible for, nor can I control, other people's feelings. They are responsible for their own feelings.
3. Accept that there are things about the situation I cannot change or control.

Once I've done those steps, I can move on to other steps:

4. Focus on what I do have power to change. I do have a choice - I could become a supporting member if I choose. Or not. But that's something I have control over.
5. Change how I look at the situation. (Think: Silver Lining) A lot of people never knew they could participate in the vote. Others just never really paid attention to the Hugo's before. In the long run, there will be people who's attention is focused on the awards now who will get bored. But there are others who will become life-long participants in the process.

I think there will be real pain in the short term, but there is potential for much joy in the long run.
James Rutledge Roesch
Apr. 16th, 2015 04:50 am (UTC)
So, the Sad Pups played by the rules and showed up to vote, and that's gaming the system and stuffing ballots? If the Sad Pups really are a highly organized minority, then let the silent majority show up next year and reclaim the awards for "true fandom" or whatever. If not, and the Sad Pups are the majority, then they deserve to control the nominations.
Apr. 16th, 2015 01:44 pm (UTC)
The Sad Puppies showing up to nominate would not have been a problem--as long as they honestly nominated the stuff they liked best, the way the rest of the Hugo nominating pool does. Some particularly popular items might get 10% or even 15% of their vote, the way it works for everyone else, and the most popular items would get the same chance to win out on their own that everyone else's favorites do.

When the Sad Puppies agreed to settle on second best to get more power over the process, and voted a slate of acceptable works instead of their wide-flung favorites, that is where they went wrong, and what upset the wide majority of the Hugo voters and the potential Hugo voters who are now signing up.

"No Award" is also playing by the rules, and furthermore it's the traditional way to say a nominee does not belong on the ballot. "This doesn't belong on the ballot because it got an unfair boost from a slate" is another thing it is well fitted to express.
(no subject) - davidlang - Apr. 16th, 2015 06:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - grrm - Apr. 16th, 2015 06:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 16th, 2015 05:23 am (UTC)
Procedural question
Leaving the politics aside for a moment (or at least trying to), now that we have four (five? I've lost track) nominees - including one for the Big Rocket - announcing they no longer want to be considered, what happens to the final ballot? Things are pretty clear when somebody refuses nomination in the first place, or when a nominee is held to be ineligible after the final ballot is announced, but in this case? Does the next-highest nominee move onto the final ballot, does the refused nominee just drop off and leave a shorter ballot, or do we just hope the voters recognize and accept the stated desires of the nominees and not vote for them?

The WSFS rules don't appear, from my reading, to cover the situation where somebody initially accepts a nomination and then withdraws, so discussion of the subject might liven up what's otherwise likely to be a short and boring Business Meeting at this year's Worldcon. (Yes, that last bit was sarcasm. Serious question, though.)
Apr. 16th, 2015 05:37 am (UTC)
Re: Procedural question
I don't know the answer. The Hugo administrators have some tough rulings to make.
(no subject) - kevin_standlee - Apr. 16th, 2015 01:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kevin_standlee - Apr. 17th, 2015 02:30 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pardoz - Apr. 18th, 2015 08:44 am (UTC) - Expand
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