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.
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).