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Fanageddon

The membership numbers for Sasquan continue to climb higher and higher. In the past, worldcons in major metropolitan areas like LA, Chicago, Boston, and London have boasted the largest membership numbers, while those in smaller and more out-of-the way locales have been smaller. Spokane is about as small and out-of-the-way as worldcon sites are like to get, and therefore might reasonably have been expected to be one of the smaller worldcons in the past decade.

But this is no ordinary year. Thanks to Puppygate and the Hugo War, Sasquan's membership numbers are way higher than anyone could have expected. The little con in Spokane even has an outside chance of eclipsing the record membership totals set last year by London.

FILE 770 has the numbers: http://file770.com/?p=22097

What's even more unusual -- though perfectly understandable in context -- is that this huge upswell is for SUPPORTING memberships, not attending. In other words, these are people who want to vote on the Hugo Awards, but have no actual interest in attending the worldcon.

But who are they? Are these new members Sad Puppy fans, signing up to vote the Torgersen/ Correia slate to victory? Are these the Rabids, the lockstep legions of Vox Day? Or is this fandom, gathering to defend the integrity of the Hugos? Pronouncements abound, but no one really knows, and no one is likely to know until the envelopes are opened. This will be the most dramatic Hugo night in worldcon history. But not in a good way.

Myself, I think it's All of the Above. Fans on both sides -- or all three sides, if you want to draw a line between the Sad Puppies and the Rabids -- are laying down their money to cast their vote. I also think the votes may be way closer than some of the people on "my side" think. I am sensing way too much complacency from fandom. The Puppies dominated the nominations by mustering 200-300 votes for their slate, out of 2000; the fans seem to be counting on the "other" 1800, the voters who scattered their own nominating ballots, to outvote the Pups. And yes, 1800 beats 200 every time... but that does NOT account for all these new members.

However this goes down, we will see more Hugo ballots cast than ever before. If any of this matters to you -- yes, YOU, reading this right now -- you can and should cast one of them. It will cost you $40, and you have until July 1 to sign up. Go to:

https://sasquan.swoc.us/sasquan/reg.php

Looking at those membership numbers, especially the number of Supporting Members as opposed to Attending, makes me wonder -- are any of the Puppies actually planning on coming to Sasquan? If their slate should prevail and win a bunch of rockets, who is going to be there to accept them? We know Brad Torgersen cannot attend, since he is being deployed. I believe that Larry Correia had also stated that he won't be going. So... who will?

Comments

( 104 comments )
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0defenestrator0
Apr. 25th, 2015 11:02 pm (UTC)
The Sad Puppy drama has had me thinking a lot about the complacency of the SFF fandom lately. And your post about not being indifferent hit the nail on the head. Honestly, a big part of this slate happening is our fault. (Disclaimer: I don't mean this as a put-down, since I too am one of the ones at fault.)

We claim to be passionate about the genre, claim that awards like the Hugo are important and prestigious and mean a lot. Yet we won't put our money or our time where our mouth is, simply trusting that whoever usually votes for the Hugos will get the job done. (Some of us don't even care enough to debate the choices when all is said and done!)

I admit, when I first read that the Rabid Puppies managed to take slates with only 200 to 300 votes, it shocked me. That is a MINISCULE amount in terms of the overall SFF fandom. I know that all over the world, there are easily millions of fans. And I would like to think that a majority of them are moderate, who simply want to see the best works get recognition. Who don't care about slates or SJWs or going nuclear.

So I want to see a fourth party in this drama, if that's even the right term. A fourth party to reclaim the Hugos. This party will have one goal, to get a critical mass of SFF fans everywhere to give enough of a damn to sign up and vote for the books THEY love. Who gives a damn if the Puppies or other slates manage to round up thousands? If enough people sign up, even with an unfocused vote everyone else becomes the minority.

Of course, I know that people will always have external biases, that I'm far too optimistic in thinking that enough people would be uninfluenced by reviews they read. But I would like to have enough faith in the fandom at large to think that they care enough about the state of SFF to bring back the original spirit of the Hugos (okay, so it won't quite be WorldCon's but the fandom at large, yet in this now interconnected world isn't that a good thing?)

And, well, if there still aren't enough people who give a damn, then I have to ask: Does the SFF community deserve the Hugos? I don't mean the authors, because I know how much blood, sweat, and life in general disappears into the black hole of a novel. But do we, the fans, deserve a prestigious award that gives us a voice into who walks out with the prize?

I wonder.
demetriasii
Apr. 27th, 2015 05:59 am (UTC)
And part of the reason the rabid and sad puppies were formed was because we found out that only 500 people voted in total in 2009. It was barely any better in 2010 with about 1,000 people voting. Since then only about 2,000 people have been voting. That is a microscopic portion of the 6-8 million people who read and buy science fiction in America alone. With sad puppies 2 we barely raised the total to 3,000.
ra_sun1
Apr. 25th, 2015 11:55 pm (UTC)
Brad Torgersen and LarryCorreia are not up for awards ..
Since Larry Correia declined his nomination and Brad Torgersen took himself out in his initial call for recommendations, the "who will accept the awards" is a misnomer.

Also given that you have endorsed the Goblin Emperor, it will most likely win the top prize :-) Have you had a chance to read the Three Body Problem? It is not on either slate and is pretty cool.

All the other novels are a part of a series. Usually I read the prequels to get a better view of the universe and the characters. Is is worth jumping into any of these years mid series nominees without reading the preceding novels (or preceding series in the case of The Dark between the stars?)
grrm
Apr. 26th, 2015 12:38 am (UTC)
Re: Brad Torgersen and LarryCorreia are not up for awards ..
I haven't "endorsed" ThE GOBLIN EMPEROR, I simply said I liked it and thought it would make a worthy Hugo winner. Until I read the others, I don't know which novel will get my vote.

I am reading THREE BODY PROBLEM right now.

And while Torgeson and Correia are not up, there are still Puppy finalists in every category but Fan Artist. I would think that a few of them, at least, might turn up at worldcon, but from looking at the present list of attending pros, that does not seem to be the case.

Edited at 2015-04-26 12:40 am (UTC)
bogie33
Apr. 26th, 2015 02:11 am (UTC)
Writers are suppose to pave the way for future writers
I'm an aspiring fantasy writer working on my first novel. To win a Hugo would be a dream come true. I believe a Hugo is an honor for a writer, not a protest banner. I get why fans would be upset about how they perceive the market changing and start a protest campaign to hijack the Hugo, but writers? WRITERS!!!!

I can't think of anything more disgraceful than a writer using the Hugos to screw over other writers. They know how hard we work. They know how little money those of us who haven't made it yet get by on, constantly debating, "Do I buy George's next book or do I pay the rent on time?" Of course, we choose the book because...we're writers, eager to see what the writers we admire are going to teach us next. Writers, REAL WRITERS, know this and work hard to protect and pave the way for future writers.

What these writers don’t understand (or maybe they do) is that they are telling new writers, “Unless you write exactly what we want, we will make your life a sorrowful, living hell. We will gather up our forces and we will make sure your voice is never heard.”

This will be my first Worldcon. YEAH!!!!! I signed up the day after the nominating deadline because I didn't understand all the rules yet. At first, this Puppygate was a huge blow. What a way for an aspiring writer to begin their dream...knowing that there are powerful writers out there so full of spite and hate that they would purposely deny other hard working writers a seat at the table. SHAME ON THEM!!!!

Right now, my voice is very small. But I intend to fight back by being the absolute, very best writer I can be. If that means I write stories contrary to what these Puppygate writers like, TOO BAD!! I don't write for them. I intend to fight back by voting. Voting in the nomination process next year and voting in the finals this year. I will read everything and I will vote for what I feel is worthy. My standards are high, very high, and I have already found some NO VOTES.

Thank you George (and fans) for all the time you have put into this debate. It is encouraging to know that you are speaking up against these sad little puppies and looking out for the integrity, love and passion of the SFF world and future SFF writers.
peerchen
Apr. 26th, 2015 10:44 am (UTC)
Re: Writers are suppose to pave the way for future writers
This. A 100x This!

The reasoning is -AFAIK - that certain writers didnt have the chance to win and so they are creating the slates, so that all writers have a chance to win. Or at least different writers (will Scalzi have a chance on the Sad Puppys slate? :).
But that reasoning is flawed - and I dont mean the different perspections on "hidden lists" and "blacklists" or whatever.

There are always corner cases and there are always "better" and "weaker" years. In one year a good writer wouldnt make the slate, because the competetion is so strong, while in another year he might have, because the other nominees where weaker.
Some books are published just before or just after the cut-off-date for the nominations. The former wont be nominated, because not enough people have read them. The latter wont be nominated, because the majority will think they are not eligible anymore.

My three favorite SF(ish) books last year have not been nominated for various reasons: Bone Clocks (not SF per se, but contains a big part that plays in the future and plays partly during an apocalyptic scenario) wasnt nomianted, because (I suspect) it was simply not on the radar of most SF-fans.
Jeff Vandermmers Annhiliation has a similar problem - Is it SF or Mystery?
Peter Weirs The Martian was self-published at first and so simply too unknown to have been nominated back then and its not eligible anymore. A shame, because its classic, Hard-SF at its best and would have made a great Hugo-winner. But its a posterboy for the simple fact that nominations are never 100% fair. Creating slates will not change that, they at best change the odds slightly and at worst offer a whole new level of unfairness.

Writers should know that!
Frank Probst
Apr. 26th, 2015 04:12 am (UTC)
SP3 vs RP
I think it's important to differentiate the Sad Puppies 3 folks from the Rabid Puppies folks. Torgersen and Correia genuinely seem to want to support writers that they think have gone unnoticed or unappreciated. I don't approve of how they've been doing it, and I think it's ridiculous that they think they're being excluded from the "cool kids" club, and yes, they will occasionally lob a grenade just for spite (e.g., Vox Day's nom last year), but they seem sincere in terms of their support for the writers that they've picked. And Correia is still doing "book bombs" (which is when he tries to get a lot of people to buy a book from amazon on the same day to push it up into the bestseller list) for people.

The Rabid Puppies (whose slate is the SP3 slate plus a bunch of other works) seem to be pretty clear that their goal is just to blow shit up. Vox Day appears to be calling the shots there, and he's pretty much sidelined Torgersen and Correia. I think Torgersen and Correia are done meddling with the Hugos this year. I have no idea what Vox Day is going to do next. My guess is that he'll post a list of "suggested" votes in response to the "puppy-free" ballots that people have been talking about.

I think the worst-case scenario is that Vox Day picks all of the Hugo winners for this year. That would be a tragedy for the awards. I think if it happens, he'll do it again next year, too, so we'll have two years where he blows up the awards ceremony. But I don't think it'll continue on year after year. Once you've proven that you can blow something up, I think it's going to get harder and harder to get your fans to put up $40 a year just to keep ruining the same awards ceremony.

If the awards DON'T get ruined this year, than I think that Kate Paulk and the Sad Puppies 4 folks have some hard decisions to make. Vox Day will just take their slate and tweak it again next year, and Kate et al will again be bombarded with bad press for it. I think a lot of people will ask to not be included on the slate, and we'll likely see even more withdrawals than this year. Eventually, I think the Sad Puppies are going to realize that there's nothing they can do that can't be hijacked by Vox Day.
grrm
Apr. 26th, 2015 06:37 pm (UTC)
Re: SP3 vs RP
You make some good points.

I agree that we need to differentiate between the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies.
Re: SP3 vs RP - riley37 - Apr. 27th, 2015 03:25 am (UTC) - Expand
bruceb
Apr. 26th, 2015 06:17 am (UTC)
Well, I'm one of those new supporting members. I've been reading sf/f/h since my pre-teen years, started reading the prosiness and fanzines in my teens, and have been around fandom various ways all the rest of my life, with my 50th birthday coming up later this year. I've read nominees and taken part in the chatter and debate about the awards most years, but never quite got the motivation to sign up before this. But this year? I didn't want to let vandal Puppies have it all their own way, so this time I'm reading and discussing with an eye toward voting as well, and I'll be looking forward to more reading, discussing, and nominating for next year.

At least a dozen folks in my immediate circle of friends and acquaintances are in the same position: part of fandom socially, not previously Worldcon supporters, doing it this year to give something back to the tradition we appreciate. I've done my part to spread the word further in forums that have a lot of sf/f fans without the forums being about them as such, and I see a bunch of people I don't know talking the same way I am here. There are a lot of us out there wishing we'd been alert enough to take part in the nominations, to make slate pushing harder. I wish I could go to the business meeting, too, but, well, I haven't gotten any healthier since the days back when you asked for thoughts about things young Bran might dream of after his fall.

(I also found myself wondering just how boggled and tickled you were about the White House Correspondents' Dinner.)


Edited at 2015-04-26 06:28 am (UTC)
annecorvusshaw
Apr. 26th, 2015 08:00 am (UTC)
Hugo Awards
I think the problem with the Hugo Awards is that the process is broken and needs to be fixed. The Hugos aren't fan-based anymore. The premise of the awards, to be fan-based, is no longer viable because the method of determining nomination and award has become open to abuse. The awards have been hijacked by those who don't care to award the honor based on literary merit but who want to push an outdated, hateful agenda. The sensible thing to do is to give the awards peer-reviewed and professional oversight such as the Philip K. Dick Awards. Take the Hugo Awards voting out of fandom so this abuse does not occur again. Another problem is that this is "pay to play" award, instead of a merit-based award. Any special interest can spend enough cash to fake ballots when buying memberships or encourage their ideologically rabid members to pump the ballot. Furthermore, it cuts out those in fandom who can't afford $40, making the Hugo Awards undemocratic and unrepresentative. The situation is no different from Citizens United and our broken political system where money, not merit is important in politics. My suggestion is to stop being anxious about the awards, fix them so there is accountability through peer review process, or withdraw support from the awards.
grrm
Apr. 26th, 2015 06:35 pm (UTC)
Re: Hugo Awards
This is fandom's award. I would oppose any attempt to take them away from worldcon and go to a jury.

We have juried awards. The World Fantasy Awards, for starts. That sort of approach has its own problems.

There is no Platonic ideal here.
Re: Hugo Awards - annecorvusshaw - Apr. 27th, 2015 09:31 am (UTC) - Expand
demetriasii
Apr. 26th, 2015 05:44 pm (UTC)
attending
Rapid puppies. The more your side insults us the more of us buy supporting memberships and than upgrade them to attending.
gnuzzz
Apr. 26th, 2015 06:30 pm (UTC)
I think the Sad Puppies have broken the Hugo Awards, and I am not sure they can ever be repaired.

I think that a small change in the rules of formation of the Hugo's shortlist may protect against manipulating them in the future. All it need to do - that the length of the shortlist will be longer than the length of the list in billyuteney the nomination. Say, 8 and 4 positions, respectively. In this case, a groups like Sad Puppies will still be able to push their candidates in the shortlist - but occupy _full_ shortlist will be much harder
idungeoncrawl.wordpress.com
Apr. 27th, 2015 03:07 am (UTC)
What about the other sides?
How about the SP fans signing up to vote sincerely for the authors and works they think are deserving? What about the "fandom" fans that are signing up just to block-vote against the authors on the SP slate, regardless of merit? It would be a mistake to imagine that all the folks on "your" side or "the other" side have the best or worst intentions respectively.
grrm
Apr. 27th, 2015 07:01 am (UTC)
Re: What about the other sides?
When you talking about hundreds, maybe thousands, of individuals, any generalizations become tricky.

Some people will indeed be voting No Award.

How many will be doing that "regardless of merit," however, is a much more difficult question.

Many more, I suspect, will be voting against the slates because they feel that the nominees have insufficient merit.

That is not at all the same thing.

There is a widespread feeling in fandom that many of the Puppy nominees were put on there "regardless of merit."

Your mileage may vary.
gregmce
Apr. 27th, 2015 05:55 pm (UTC)
I haven't been to a WorldCon since Bucconeer in Baltimore (1998!), but I'm one of the people who bought a supporting membership this year. For me it was having two reasons: both for the Hugos and also to vote on 2017 site selection, since one of the options is my home of Washington DC. I don't think either one on their own would have pushed me into buying the membership, but the two together... well, if there was ever a year for the Puppy pile, at least this was it.
thupple
Apr. 27th, 2015 08:17 pm (UTC)
Standing up to be counted
It's dreadful that the forces of darkness are attempting to wreck something as fine and sweet as that glorious rocket. The ugliness abounding on the intarwebs around the topic is also unpleasant.

So it is perhaps odd to say that I find myself positively affected by all this.

I have learned more about WorldCon, the Hugo, and Fandom in the past few weeks than I ever had a hint of before. In spite of loving speculative fiction in all its forms since I learned how to read (somewhere in the fog of preschool age), I haven't participated in any con or fan society in the past because of a sense of alienation from the whole process. Maybe that's just because of my own shyness or low sense of self-worth. Doesn't really matter. What matters is that I now feel engaged, empowered and excited to read and vote, and nominate next year. I'm extra excited to be able to attend WorldCon in 2016.

Take heart, George, and thanks for all you do.
angledge
Apr. 27th, 2015 10:21 pm (UTC)
You convinced me. Supporting membership just purchased.
birdsedge
Apr. 28th, 2015 03:54 am (UTC)
I bought a supporting membership this year just to vote (and NOT for the puppies). My excellent editor has been caught up in the slate (her third nomination and thoroughly deserved for all that) as have a few other decent people, but this year's Hugos will be forever tainted, I'm afraid. I shall be using NO AWARD tactically.

I shall also be voting for Helsinki in 2017.

I'd be interested to know what Sasquan intends to do with the unexpected financial bounty from all of us who have bought Supporting Memberships this year.
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