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No, I am not saying don't use NO AWARD at all when you vote for this year's Hugo Awards.

NO AWARD has been, and remains, a viable and legitimate option for the Hugo voter. I've been voting on the Hugos since the 1970s, and I use NO AWARD every year, usually in about a third of the categories. However, I have seldom (not NEVER, just seldom) placed it first. I rank the finalists that I think worthy of the rocket above NO AWARD, and the ones I think unworthy below it. That's the way I intend to use the option this year as well, in spite of the slatemaking campaigns that buggered the nomination process to the seven hells and back.

NO AWARD is a scalpel, not a bludgeon. Voting NO AWARD on everything down the line... or even (the lesser option) on everything that appeared on either Puppy slate... well, I don't think it is smart, I don't think it is fair, and I know damned well that a NO AWARD sweep will kill the Hugos.

I think I have made my disagreements with Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen and the rest of the Sad Puppies abundantly clear in the many blog posts that preceded this one, and in my debates with Correia both here and on his MONSTER HUNTER NATION. And I think I have made my disgust with Vox Day and his Rabid Puppies clear as well. No one should be in any doubt as to where I stand on all this.

As much as I am opposed to what the Puppies did, and what they are trying to do, I am also opposed to Guilt by Association. Like it or not, the ballot is the ballot, and it is before it now, for each of us to deal with as he or she thinks best. For my part, that means it is now about the stories, the books, the work itself. Reading, thinking, weighing my choices... voting.

I am not going to tell you who to vote for. I am not even going to tell you who I am going to vote for (with one exception, which I will get to in a later post). But I do intend to share some of my thoughts and opinions here as I go through the process. The Puppies bark and yelp about it all being about the work, but you may notice that they never actually TALK about the work (well, except to attack REDSHIRTS and That Infamous Dinosaur Story [which, it should be noted, did not even win the Hugo]). It is all SJWs and CHORFs and secret cabals over in Puppyland. But over here, I think it's time to discuss the things the Hugo Awards are actually supposed to be about: writing, editing, drawing and painting, fanac...

Let me start with some easy categories.

BEST FAN ARTIST. This is the only category that is one hundred percent Puppy-free. I guess, not really being part of fandom, they don't get any fanzines, so they didn't know any fan artists. Whatever the reason, neither the Sads nor the Rabids threw up any candidates here. Which makes this, to my mind, the clearest refutation of the nuclear option. Do you really want to make these artists collateral damage? There is no possible reason to vote NO AWARD in this category, unless you honestly feel that none of the finalists is worthy of a Hugo. I don't feel that way, so I will be voting for the Fan Artists I like best.

BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST. Ah, now this one is harder. The ballot here consists of Julie Dillon, last year's winner, and four Puppy nominees. I met Julie for the first time just last month at Norwescon, where we were both guests. She seemed like a very nice person, and I already knew she was a very talented artist. Talented enough to win two Hugos in a row? In the past, this particular category has often been dominated by popular artists who put together long, long, LONG winning streaks (Freas, Whelan, Eggleston). Is Julie Dillon going to be the next? Maybe, maybe not. If she were contending against Donato Giancola, John Picacio, Dan Dos Santos, Michael Komarck, Marc Simonetti, John Jude Palencar, and some of the other top artists who have won (and lost) Hugos in years past, I'd rate her chances of repeating about 50/50... I mean, she's good, but so are they. But thanks to the Puppies, none of them are on the ballot this year. Instead Julie Dillon is facing four artists that I've never heard of. Which is sort of curious, because I follow SF and fantasy art very closely. I check out the art shows at every con I go to (and buy art there), I read SPECTRUM religiously as soon as it comes out, I have a gallery of my own at my theatre, and I love illustrated books, comics, calendars, so I'm always looking for new artists. The Sad Puppies went in saying they wanted to put some new names on the ballot... hey, got to hand it to them, they did that here. Anyway, I've checked out the artwork of the four Puppy artists as best I can, via websites, Deviant Art, Google, and similar searches. I urge all of you to do the same. Then come back and tell me what you think. As for me... I will be using NO AWARD in this category, but not for first place. There is an artist here who is more than worthy of a Hugo.

Moving along...

The two DRAMATIC PRESENTATION categories -- Long Form (for movies, mostly) and Short Form (for television episodes, mostly) -- are another case in point where voting a straight NO AWARD ticket would be idiotic. Yes, four of the five nominated movies and three of the five nominated TV episodes appeared on one or the other of the two Puppy slates. But I can assure you, from a couple of decades laboring in the vineyards of Hollywood, that there are very few people at any of the studios and networks who even know what the Hugos are, much less the Sad Puppies. I doubt that any of them ever knew they were on anybody's slate. Some of them don't even know they are nominated. Voting NO AWARD over GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY or INTERSTELLAR because the Puppies liked it too gives Correia, Torgersen, and Vox Day power over your choices that is altogether unwarranted. It's just stupid. Vote for the movies you liked best. Vote for the TV shows you liked best. If there are some you don't think Hugo-worthy, rank them under NO AWARD. Looking at any of the Dramatic Presentations as part of any Puppy slate is hallucinatory.

There are also two categories for EDITOR -- Long Form (for books, mostly) and Short Form (for magazine editors, anthology editors, and the like). Vox Day is nominated in both of them, which is a testament to how successful the Rabid Puppies were in getting out their vote, since he was not on the Sad Puppies slate, and I cannot imagine that a single trufan wrote in his name. If any further proof was required that the Rabids were more interested in "blowing up the heads of the SJWs" than in rewarding good work, well, look no further. The other Long Form finalists are Toni Weisskopf (Baen), Anne Sowards (Ace/ Roc/ Penguin), Sheila Gilbert (DAW), and Jim Minz (Baen). Please note that there are no editors from Tor nominated. Tor editors have dominated Long Form Editor for most of the category's existence, but this year, it would seem, the Puppies chucked them out. (For some reason, the Puppies seem to hate Tor, despite the fact that Tor publishes a number of their favorite writers). Aside from the exclusion of Tor and the inclusion of Vox Day, this is a solid list, however. Yes, all of these nominees appeared on one or the other of the Puppy slates... but we now know that at least two of them were slated without their knowledge or consent (we don't know either way about the other two). All four are long-time industry professionals who have done excellent work. None of them have ever won a Hugo. Some commenters have asked how they can possibly evaluate the work of an editor, since they don't know what they started with. Fair point. We can only judge by the end results. Look at what DAW published last year, at what Baen published, at what Penguin published. Vote for the editor who gave us the most good books. I will be voting in this category as well. "Puppy taint" or no, I am not willing to throw four good people under the bus called NO AWARD.

Short Form Editor is a bit more problematic. The nominees here are all from the Puppy slates too. Edmund Schubert of ORSON SCOTT CARD'S INTERGALACTIC MEDICINE SHOW has withdrawn (see his statement in one of my earlier posts). That leaves anthologist Bryan Thomas Schmidt, anthologist Jennifer Brozek, and Mike Resnick, editor of GALAXY'S EDGE magazine and a seasoned anthologist himself. Resnick has been nominated for many many Hugos in the past, winning some, losing more... but never before as an editor, I think. The other two are first-time nominees. What is curious here is the absence of the "usual suspects," the editors and anthologists who have dominated this category all the way back to when it was "Best Magazine." Sheila Williams of ASIMOV'S is not here, Gordon Van Gelder of F&SF is not here, Trevor Quachri the new editor of ANALOG is not here. No Gardner Dozois, no Ellen Datlow... all swept away by the Puppies. It is, to be sure, nice to see some new contenders from time to time. But you know, they used to say that to be the champ, you need to beat the champ... and this year, the champs were not even allowed in the ring, thanks to the slatemakers. Do they despise ANALOG and ASIMOV'S and F&SF the same way they despise Tor? No idea, you'll need to ask Correia and Torgersen. In any case, these are the nominees we have. Lacking any evidence to the contrary, I put Resnick, Schmidt, and Brozek in the same boat as the four legitimate Long Form editors, and I will be ranking them according to the quality of their editorial work, as best I can judge it from reading their magazines and books. I would urge all of you to do the same.

And that's all the categories I care to tackle right now. It's late, and I'm tired. But I will share more of my musings with you in the days and weeks to come. (I still have a lot of reading to do, needless to say).


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Apr. 29th, 2015 08:51 am (UTC)
Related Works
I will be buying a supporting membership, and voting.

So that I can vote "No Award" ahead of Tedd Robert's awful essay "Why Science is Never Settled" in the Related Works.

If I was still grading essays for sophomore "History and Philosophy of Science" I'd have given it... well, probably a B. But that's about grade inflation and expecting little of sophomores. The idea that this writing is worthy of an award is appalling. "Science isn't about facts" - my arse it isn't!

This is a political puff piece designed to be used as justification by those who want their Science a la carte: "Oh, I'll take aerodynamics, and I'll take geophysics, and I like medicine, but not anything that challenges my world view like evolution or climate science because 'Science is Never Settled' and anyway they make me fat..."

Muddled, illogical, confused thinking about the nature of science may not be what is infuriating the rest of of you about the Hugo nominees.

But it should be!

Edited at 2015-04-29 08:54 am (UTC)
Apr. 29th, 2015 09:01 am (UTC)
I'm one of Sheila Gilbert's writers. She had no idea about the slate, nor about the puppies. She has almost no online presence -- she simply doesn't use the internet. She isn't happy with the situation, though, and has said so to a number of her authors.
I'd urge people to look at her list. It's full of female writers, writers of colour, QUILTBAG writers. The books she's bought and edited are wide-ranging in content and focus and style and political stand-point. She is liberal herself and hugely supportive of diversity in books.
I understand completely where the no award people are coming from and I sympathise. I'm one of the sorts of writers the puppies want to silence myself. I find them scary. There are categories where I am strongly tempted to vote no award across the board myself. At the same time, it's more and more clear that a number of people on both slates were not notified, do not endorse either set of puppies and have been dragged into this unwillingly and unwittingly.
Apr. 30th, 2015 08:30 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry you feel that everyone on the SP side, or even the right, want to silence those with whom we don't agree. Please know that I, at least, and many, many others, have no desire to silence anyone. I'm of the ilk who would rather have the haters shouting from the mountaintops than whispering in dark alleys. I don't want any speech limited, period. As for writers, well, I've stated several times on Mr. Martin's blog that the SFF genre has plenty of room for every voice that wants to be heard. We all have different tastes and different likes and dislikes in what we want to read.

As long as your publisher wants to publish you, keep writing. And if your publisher doesn't want to buy your stuff anymore, there are other places to publish, so keep writing.

I don't want you silenced. Heck, for all I know, you write stuff *I* want to read. If you'd care to throw a title or two out here, I'll be happy to check out your work. I'm a reader, and I love to read. I don't care what a writer's politics are -- just whether or not that writer has anything out there I want to read.
(no subject) - grrm - Apr. 30th, 2015 10:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - la_marquise_de_ - Apr. 30th, 2015 10:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 29th, 2015 09:24 am (UTC)
Hugo Artists
George, you nailed the Best Professional Artist. Pollack and Dillon are pros. But the other three...don't belong. As a pro artist myself, it's almost offensive to see such work nominated. And I am not trying to be mean, but there are thousands of illustrators out there who are better. BTW we met at the 1997 World Con in San Antonio. You stopped by my art booth and were most gracious. We chatted for a bit about your new novel Game of Thrones. You signed my first edition. Look how far you've come! Say hi to Chris Lotts for me. Our mutual acquaintance. Cheers.
Apr. 29th, 2015 09:24 am (UTC)
Vote for the editor who gave us the most good books.

In addition to not knowing much about editing... I don't think I've read enough books published last year to have the slightest clue who published "the most good books" (I probably managed about 50 books, not all SF&F, not all published last year, possibly zero from any of the nominated editors). It doesn't help that I'm in the UK (so I actually get books from entirely different publishers in general - so the book has been through the hands of the UK editor too). I think it's a really hard category to vote in in a sensible way.
Apr. 29th, 2015 09:49 am (UTC)
But how do you propose to evaluate the categories like Long Form editor? Will you (after discarding VD) evaluate their work within the category, or compare their work with the field in general, including those not on this year's list of finalists like TNH, PNH etc.? If the latter, will you put No Award ahead of anyone whose work you deem lesser than that of someone not on the list?
Apr. 29th, 2015 04:52 pm (UTC)
You can choose to do that if you like, certainly. But I am not going to compare any nominee against work not on the list. I have been voting on these awards for many decades, and it happens quite often that the works I like best don't make the ballot... so if I adopted that approach, I'd be voting NO AWARD a lot more than I do.

Several of the novels this year seem quite good, for instance... but none that I have read so far are the equal of STATION ELEVEN, which did not make the ballot. But that will not lead me to vote NO AWARD for Best Novel.
Apr. 29th, 2015 10:09 am (UTC)
I'm especially saddened not to be able to vote for Gordon Van Gelder, who stepped down from editing F&SF with the Jan/Feb issue. 2014 was a fantastic year for the magazine, IMHO, and it doesn't sound like I'll be getting another chance to vote for him. :-/
Kev Wirsing
Apr. 29th, 2015 10:29 am (UTC)
Alan Pollack
Alan was a TSR staff artist with Brom and Diterlizzi and those guys. He's not a little known guy and I'd imagine his body of work (just having been at TSR) is greater than your choice…
Apr. 29th, 2015 05:48 pm (UTC)
Re: Alan Pollack
Thank you for this, I appreciate the information.

I will take another look at his TSR work.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 29th, 2015 04:55 pm (UTC)
I agree that the slates were legal but not ethical.

Whether that makes your position "valid" -- well, valid by your own lights, but I disagree. For the reasons I've spelled out above.

Apr. 29th, 2015 01:14 pm (UTC)
Yes, four of the five nominated movies...appeared on one or the other of the two Puppy slates.

Three of the five nominated movies: neither Captain America: The Winter Soldier nor Edge of Tomorrow was on a slate.

Not that this inaccuracy changes your overarching argument in any way, of course.
Alternate Snowcrash
Apr. 29th, 2015 02:20 pm (UTC)
On Voting NO AWARD to those who got there by a slate
Apologies for the long comment, but while I think OGH makes a good point on saying that a blanket No Award is unhelpful under the circumstances, I would differ in his assessment about the NA-ing slate nominees (with the exception of the Dramatic categories, because as has been said many times elsewhere, candidates there (esp Long form) would've likely gotten there regardless of the slate).

This is only my second ever Hugo voting. I'm still an utter newcomer to this. But what has happened with the Puppies over the last couple of years is just an example of what damage an extremist splinter can do to the greater community.

The Puppies claim many things. They claim that Hugo nominations (and voting?) have been controlled by a cabal that is so far reaching as to silence the voice of the greater community, but at the same time is so secretive that there is no evidence of their existence, while simultaneously being so terrible that they were utterly steamrolled this year.

As only a fraction of fandom are members of Worldcon, and that only a fraction of that nominates for the Hugos, they claim that that makes it unrepresentative. But instead of working to expand membership, they present a slate of Vote-this-way nominees

As to the slates themselves...Here we have 2 very complementary slates, built up by people who have had a long running and cordial relationships, such that they had worked together in previous slates (i.e., Correia pushing Day's atrocious novella last year, mainly because (as he said) Satan didn't have anything published).

Furthermore, the Rabid one is a primarily naked display of self-interest to push Day's own name and publishing house, while the Sad one claims there was an open and democratic nomination process, but given that some of the titles on the slate weren't nominated by *anyone* in the selection thread, it's patently a false claim.

Where am I going with all this? Simply this - there may be some illustrious candidates nominated by these slates, but given the destructive tactics at play, the sheer bad faith justifications provided by the Puppies, and the signs already provided that they intend to continue on this approach, it's my belief that the slate building tactic needs to be slapped down, and slapped down HARD.

Even a stopped clock maybe right twice a day, but that's no reason to not replace the damn batteries.
Apr. 29th, 2015 05:02 pm (UTC)
Re: On Voting NO AWARD to those who got there by a slate
We are talking about people, however. Not clocks.

In a category like Best Editor, Long Form, you are talking about slapping down Sheila Gilbert, Toni Weisskopf, Jim Minz, and Anne Sowards. It will be them sitting in the audience that night, not Correia and Torgersen and Vox Day. By voting them all behind NO AWARD, it sends one of only two messages:
(1) your work is unworthy of a Hugo,
(2) you associated with the wrong people.

I don't think (1) is true in the case of these specific nominees. And (2)... well, that makes the Puppies' case for them, that's Guilt by Associaton, and I hate that. ESPECIALLY since some of these people never intended to associate themselves with this crap at all.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - Alternate Snowcrash - Apr. 30th, 2015 04:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 29th, 2015 03:08 pm (UTC)
The more I think about this, the more I'm coming to the conclusion that in most categories, No Award will do fandom more damage than allowing a Puppy nomination to win. I am going to use it very sparingly. The exception is where the author has been involved in hate speech (and I set quite a high bar for that; not everything that is problematic is also hateful), or where the work is so entwined with views I find obnoxious that I find myself unable to disentangle the two. I can do that pretty well in the fiction categories, but with the non-fiction ones I'm not always sure it's a meaningful distinction.
Apr. 29th, 2015 03:42 pm (UTC)
I have to strongly disagree with your opinion on the Editor categories. Editors are to a great degree stewards of literature, who have a lot of trust placed in them both by writers and readers. Slate nominations are inherently bad for the publishing business, further it's not at all possible to 'just read their work and decide' considering how strongly subjective and wide scoped a decision this particular award is. One strong indication of how good an editor is, would be if they protested against something that's bad for the publishing business. So the problem becomes that accepting a slate nomination is something that someone deserving the award shouldn't do. Voting No Award would not be a discredit to the editors, but indication that there simply can't be an award given this year in these circumstances because the slate nomination has poisoned the process far deeper than in any other category.

I strongly endorse sole-vote of NO-AWARD in the Editor categories this year.
Ryan Whitley
Apr. 29th, 2015 05:08 pm (UTC)
Edmund Schubert
You can still vote for Edmund Schubert, no? He just said that he would refuse the award if won. Would this be equivalent to the NO AWARD option?
Apr. 29th, 2015 05:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Edmund Schubert
We are on unmapped territory here.

Judy Lynn del Rey won the Hugo for Best Editor posthumously. It was refused by her widower, Lester del Rey.

I imagine Schubert or BLACK GATE winning would be a similar case.
(no subject) - kevin_standlee - Apr. 29th, 2015 06:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - Ryan Whitley - Apr. 29th, 2015 07:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - grrm - Apr. 29th, 2015 08:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kevin_standlee - Apr. 29th, 2015 08:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 29th, 2015 06:41 pm (UTC)
Trevor Qualchi published four of the stories the Puppies thought Hugo-worthy this year. But they didn't think he was worth mentioning for Best Editor-Short Form. Although even the Rabid Puppies seemed to think he was almost as in tune with the SF-reading public as Vox Day...
Apr. 29th, 2015 07:03 pm (UTC)
So I'm not "really a part of fandom" because I don't receive any fanzines? Mr. Martin, I adore your work, but truly, your elitism is showing.
Apr. 29th, 2015 07:08 pm (UTC)
"Fandom" has a very specific meaning.

Maybe you love lions, but that does not make you a member of the Lions Club.

Fandom is a community.
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