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Next Year's Hugos

The Hugo Awards for 2015 have been announced, the rockets handed out, the post-mortems written and published. You can read analyses all over the internet. My own thoughts on the results can be found below, so I won't recap them here. The Great Puppy War is over.

Or is it?

That's the question. Where do we go from here?

I know where I'd like to go: back to normalcy, as old Warren G. Harding once said.

No one who truly cares about science fiction, fantasy, or fandom could possibly want a Second Puppy War. The past half year has been deeply unpleasant for writers and readers on both sides. Next year's worldcon is in Kansas City, and it would be great if the Hugo ceremony next August could once again be a celebration of excellence, rewarding all the writers, editors, artists, and fans who had done outstanding work in 2015.

Can that possibly happen? Can we remember that "we are all science fiction," as some of the ribbons I saw at Sasquan proclaimed? Can we have a reconciliation?

I think there's a chance. But a chance is not a certainty. It depends. Mostly, I think, it depends on the Sad Puppies.

We already know that VD Beale and the Rabid Puppies are going to try to do it again. They want to destroy the award, and they will no doubt do their damndest, and there will be a rabid slate. Nothing can be done about that... except to ignore the troll. Fandom -- liberal and conservative, Sad Puppy and Truefan, have all been paying too much attention to Beale. Our links and denunciations have driven his page views higher and higher. And too many people empowered VD and his slate... either by voting for the work he slated (often unread) or by voting AGAINST the work he slated. We should not be giving these toxic clowns the power to sway our votes either way. Beale will do a slate, no doubt. Just ignore it. Nominate and vote as if the Rabid Puppies did not exist. That's certainly what I intend to do.

Which brings me to the Sad Puppies. Brad Torgersen has retired from the fray, he tells us. There will be a Sad Puppies 4 campaign, but it will be run by Kate Paulk. It is my understanding that she does not intend to generate a slate, but rather a recommended reading list, similar in scope and intent to the LOCUS Recommended Reading List, or that of NESFA, or LASFS. I think that's good. Unlike the Torgersen list, which was carefully "curated," Paulk has said that her list will focus on the works that receive the most suggestions from those participating, that it could include "even David Gerrold" if a lot of people suggest him. I think that's VERY good. Could it also include "even" N.K. Jemisin and Rachel Swirsky and Ken Liu and Mary Robinette Kowal? Even better. Not that I think it will... the Puppies may not be all conservative, but certainly more of them tend right than left, and their literary tastes undoubtedly run to more traditional forms and styles too. But if Paulk is honestly willing to consider all the suggestions she gets, without litmus tests, I applaud that. It should enable her to produce a recommended reading list that is far more varied, and far more interesting, than the SP3 slate.

Slating was one of this year's big problems. It was SLATING that produced the avalanche of "No Award" voting in this year's Hugo balloting, the widespread perception in fandom that the slated nominees were illegitimate. If there is no slating (save for the Rabid slate, which I fear is inescapable), I think fandom as a whole will be far more open to the suggestions of the Sad Puppies.

Let's make it about the work. Let's argue about the BOOKS. And yes, of course, it will be an argument. I may not like the stories you like. You may not like the stories I like. We can all live with that, I think. I survived the Old Wave/ New Wave debate. Hell, I enjoyed parts of it... because it was about literature, about prose style, characterization, storytelling. Some of the stuff that Jo Walton explores in her Alfie-winning Best Related Work, WHAT MAKES THIS BOOK SO GREAT? That's the sort of debate we should be having.

The elimination of slates will be a huge step toward the end of hostilities.

But there's a second step that's also necessary. One I have touched on many times before. We have to put an end to the name-calling. To the stupid epithets.

I have seen some hopeful signs on that front in some of the Hugo round-ups I've read. Puppies and Puppy sympathizers using terms like Fan (with a capital), or trufan, or anti-Puppy, all of which I am fine with. I am not fine with CHORF, ASP, Puppy-kicker, Morlock, SJW, Social Justice Bully, and some of the other stupid, offensive labels that some Pups (please note, I said SOME) have repeatedly used for describe their opponents since this whole thing began. I am REALLY not fine with the loonies on the Puppy side who find even those insults too mild, and prefer to call us Marxists, Maoists, feminazis, Nazis, Christ-hating Sodomites, and the like. There have been some truly insane analogies coming from the kennels too -- comparisons to World War II, to the Nazi death camps, to ethnic cleansing. Guy, come on, cool down. WE ARE ARGUING ABOUT A LITERARY AWARD THAT BEGAN AS AN OLDSMOBILE HOOD ORNAMENT. Even getting voted below No Award is NOT the same as being put on a train to Auschwitz, and when you type shit like that, well...

The Pups have often complained that they don't get no respect... which has never actually been true, as the pre-Puppy awards nominations of Correia and Torgersen have proved... but never mind, the point here is that to get respect, you need to give respect.

And before any of the Puppies jump on here to say, "you did or first," or "you did it worse," well... I think you're wrong, but we've argued it before, and there is no point in arguing it again. A lot of things were said during the past few months. Do we want to keep rehashing them endlessly, or do we want to move on?

I am very proud of what I did with the Alfies; the reactions of the winners, and the way the awards have been received by fandom, pleases me no end. Sometimes it is better to give than to receive, and I got as much joy from giving out the Alfies than I have from receiving any of my Hugo awards, Nebulas, or World Fantasy Awards.

But I don't want to have to give them again.

I voted No Award in several Hugo categories this year, because the finalists were unworthy of the rocket, but I was not pleased to do so.

I would rather not have to do that again either. Next year, I hope, the Hugo ballot will present me with so many excellent choices that No Award will be ranked last in every category.

If there are fans of good will on the other side who share these hopes, be they liberal or conservative, left wing or right wing, great... I am holding out my hand. Let's talk about books. We may disagree... probably WILL disagree... but that's not the end of the world, or even the Hugos. That's just fandom. If you have ever been to a con, you'll know that the best panels are the ones with a little lively disagreement.

((And for those of you who would prefer to continue to call names and throw stones and talk about cabals and conspiracies and death trains... sorry, not going to engage. Hatespeech is not lively disagreement. I am too old, too smart, and too rich to waste my time with assholes.))


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Clay James
Sep. 1st, 2015 02:52 am (UTC)
Mad cows and sad pupppies...
George, I'm afraid I didn't actually follow this whole mad puppy thing until the awards were actually over but I definitely agree with you about needed greater civility in our discourse. I like me some military schlock, read more of it than I probably should and would have agreed with the puppies had they not organized the venom spewing ice spiders to ruin the whole thing. If sci fi with a conservative bent is written well enough to award it a prize, good on it. If liberal space opera is good enough to wain an award, good on it. It should all be about the writing, much more than it should be about subject matter. If your hero(ine) is a transgender Chinese space pirate, and your plot involves a gay love affair with your hero(ine's) space tank gunner, I don't care. I just want a great yarn and prose that makes me want to turn the pages. David Drake had a famously psychotic homosexual in his Hammer's Slammers. I thought he was one of the most memorable and coolest characters Drake created. If we encourage writers and voters to keep their eyes on the bouncing ball, I'm sure all will end with a bang.

Edited at 2015-09-01 02:56 am (UTC)
Sep. 1st, 2015 10:11 am (UTC)
Re: Mad cows and sad pupppies...
Hey, why insult the venom-spewing ice spiders? What'd they do to get lumped in with the Pups? I'm pretty sure they'd have them for lunch, anyway. *smart-ass*

As for the Pups going on... and on... and on... about how milSF "doesn't win Hugos or get nominated", um. Where the hell have these people been every time Lois McMaster Bujold gets nominated for or wins a Hugo for her Vorkosigan books? Those are milSF all over! Anne Leckie's Ancillary Justice counts as milSF to my reading; non-traditional milSF, but still...

Apparently I'm bored so I'm looking at Hugo nominations and awards going back a bit, with a cursory look at books I'm not familiar with. 2014 - even if you exclude Leckie, there's Charles Stross's Neptune's Brood. 2013 went to Scalzi for Redshirts; space opera parody. 2012 - Leviathan wakes by James S.A. Corey, space opera nominee. 2011 - Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold, milSF/space opera nominee. 2010 - no milSF that I can easily find. 2009 - Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi and Saturn's Children by Charles Stross.

So for the past six years there has only been one year that didn't have milSF or space opera on the ballot, and that was one hell of a year that resulted in a tie for the award. There was SF but not specifically milSF/space opera, and it happened to be a very good and competitive year for other types of SFF. Unless you're going to say that these nominees and winners don't count for XYZ reason (... which is probably what the Pups will say), there's been consistent representation of fun milSF/space opera. Their premise is flawed from the foundation up.
Re: Mad cows and sad pupppies... - anna_en_route - Sep. 1st, 2015 07:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
John Nelson
Sep. 1st, 2015 03:00 am (UTC)
Too old, too smart, top rich!!!
Amen to that!!! Good post. When I read this, I heard it in Tom Waits voice
(Deleted comment)
Re: Too old, too smart, top rich!!! - John Nelson - Sep. 1st, 2015 07:18 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Too old, too smart, top rich!!! - f4f3 - Sep. 1st, 2015 09:20 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 1st, 2015 03:17 am (UTC)
alternative songs
Oddly enough the song that was going on in my head before I got sick of arguing about the Hugos with the puppies and supporters was the following -

(also there is an ex-friend who has a semi-annual tradition of getting in contact with me in order to tell me that he thinks I'm a horrible asshole even though I have not talked to him for years)

But I guess I like this song in relation to recent drama (Hugo awards and personal) because there's a certain point where I have to ask what is the point of so much hostility? Does anyone think that they will prove anything? And is being nasty just an end in itself.
Devdeep Roy Choudhury
Sep. 1st, 2015 03:17 am (UTC)
Posthumous Hugo
Hi Mr. Martin,
Can Hugos be given posthumously. Can I nominate Terry Pratchett next year for entire Discworld or at least for Shepherd's Crown(hopefully it will be great)?
Sep. 1st, 2015 05:11 am (UTC)
Re: Posthumous Hugo
Yes, it makes no difference if the author is alive or dead, so long as the book is published during the year of eligility.

You can't nominate Terry for the entire Discworld saga, but his posthumous novel would certainly be eligible.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - kevin_standlee - Sep. 1st, 2015 07:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Posthumous Hugo - hugh57 - Sep. 1st, 2015 02:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Re: Posthumous Hugo - Carlos Gomez - Sep. 1st, 2015 03:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Posthumous Hugo - voodooqueen126 - Sep. 1st, 2015 11:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kevin_standlee - Sep. 2nd, 2015 07:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
James Worrad
Sep. 1st, 2015 03:24 am (UTC)
I'd love to see the Alfies carry on in some way, and for happier reasons. An unofficial, handed-out-at-the-bar set of awards would compliment fandom well, especially named after 50's cool cat Bester, who famously handed his literary estate to his bar keep. I say keep the awards and hand em out for fun, zany reasons.
Sep. 1st, 2015 05:12 am (UTC)
Re: Alfies
Yes, the legend is that Alfie left his entire estate to his bartender. That's only partly true, however.

And Byron Preiss bought the rights from that bartender, I understand. No idea what happened to them when Byron died.

I wonder where that corroded 1953 Hugo is now...
Re: Alfies - wrenn - Sep. 1st, 2015 06:00 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Alfies - delkytlar - Sep. 1st, 2015 02:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Alfies - Gregg Skomsky - Sep. 1st, 2015 03:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Alfies - grrm - Sep. 1st, 2015 04:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Alfies - madhaus - Sep. 1st, 2015 09:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Alfies - grrm - Sep. 1st, 2015 10:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
RE: Re: Alfies - Gregg Skomsky - Sep. 2nd, 2015 03:30 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Re: Alfies - grrm - Sep. 2nd, 2015 06:22 am (UTC) - Expand
Olov Livendahl
Sep. 1st, 2015 03:45 am (UTC)
Problem solved?
If Paulk indeed intends to make a recommended reading list similar to that of Locus' I consider the problem of SP solved. The real problem was always the slate and slate voting and if they use a recommended reading list to get 2-3 works on the ballot I don't care at all. No, wait, I do care - if more people nominate and vote I think it's great!

Then there's the RP problem, but without the support of SP that problem, too, can be solved if enough people nominate as individuals. So please nominate your favourite works, people!
Sep. 1st, 2015 03:53 am (UTC)
Color me actually excited
A list of interesting books to broaden my reading-horizons which won't take advantage of a loophole and wreck the awards I care about? Fantastic! It's like they took all the criticism against them seriously and restructured based on that. Which is kind of weird, given how vitriolically they reacted against said criticism throughout the entire fiasco, but whatever, I'll take it!

I'm even willing to do deal with the silly must-use-acronyms-to-place-all-opposition-into-nuanceless-reductive-categories rhetoric, if the object of the discussions are about actual specific works and their relative merit, rather than discussions about repeatedly disproven conspiracies. (Oh, because recognize how great Anne Leckie is, I only care about Social Justice in a novel? I'm a Waugh scholar. Let me show you what an *actually* brilliant conservative novel looks like. And then let me show you the brilliant liberal writers that Waugh and other conservative writers loved, because even the reactionariest of the reactionaries used to be able to enjoy a book regardless of its political leanings).
Sep. 1st, 2015 04:18 am (UTC)
I remember being called an asshole by you for pointing out that the Sad Puppies' noms were as legitimate as anyone else's. A LOT of people associated with the SP have been personally insulted by the Haydens and his crowd. I don't see any apologies forthcoming, and I don't expect one from you. And that was after I defended you repeatedly to the Puppies.

I still think you're a great writer, but I'm not so sure that you're all that decent a man.
Sep. 1st, 2015 05:17 am (UTC)
This is the kind of nasty stuff that will make reconciliation impossible.

Sweeping statemnts like "a lot of people... have been personally insulted by the Haydens and his crowd" without any specifics or citations makes your assertions suspect from the first. And you can't even get the names of the people you're attacking right. They are the Nielsen-Haydens, not the Haydens.

(no subject) - kevin_standlee - Sep. 1st, 2015 03:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - marlowe1 - Sep. 1st, 2015 05:40 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - grrm - Sep. 1st, 2015 05:51 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - grrm - Sep. 1st, 2015 05:53 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - saare_snowqueen - Sep. 2nd, 2015 09:36 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - Bob Jenson - Sep. 2nd, 2015 04:46 am (UTC) - Expand
Sad Puppies vs Rabid Puppies - Frank Probst - Sep. 1st, 2015 12:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - Daniel De Simone - Sep. 1st, 2015 02:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 1st, 2015 04:26 am (UTC)

What I'd like to see? The Sad Puppies do a long recommended reading list, just like Locus and Nesfa. It tends "conservative", sure, since that's their run in tastes, and that's fine. Everybody picks from their preferred list(s) the works they like best. And some of the slots are taken up by Puppy choices, and some are not. And since they're the collective choices of a lot of individuals, they're all among the best, and we have good choices from a wide variety of SF on our ballot, as things had always been.

And if enough of us nominate, it will drown out anything that Beale tries to do. Please, Sad Puppies, do not allow yourself to be seduced by him. You mostly say you separate yourself from him: I hope that's true. I'd like to see a ballot of which it can be said that it doesn't matter whether anything on it was a Rabid slate choice or not.
Sep. 1st, 2015 05:18 am (UTC)
Kate Paulk - Frank Probst - Sep. 1st, 2015 12:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Kate Paulk - saare_snowqueen - Sep. 2nd, 2015 09:39 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - Aimee Morgan - Sep. 1st, 2015 02:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - grrm - Sep. 1st, 2015 04:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - querldox - Sep. 1st, 2015 06:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 1st, 2015 04:28 am (UTC)
Oh, and the "war" is hardly over. What makes you think that the Sad Puppies will give up trying to get the writers they like nominated and awarded? What makes you think that the Rabid Puppies will give up trying to get theirs? Seriously, why should they? What's the downside of continuing to fight?

Your side imagines that they won something this round. They didn't. Before the "wars" erupted, your side got your guys awarded. Now every major text category save Best Novel got No Awarded, and the guy who won for Three Body Problem was one who the Puppies liked (but didn't nominate because they liked other writers more).

Yes, the Puppies' favorites didn't win any awards anyway, but they weren't winning before either. Both sides lose is better than only one's own side loses.

As for the Rabid Puppies -- are you still sure it was such a good idea for the SFWA to violate its own rules to expel Beale in the first place? Because that's what ticked Beale off. He's not losing anything by playing the game -- yes, he's spending some money, but he's getting yummy publicity for his publishing house, his novels, and his writers.

Same thing's happening with the Sad Puppies, save their interest's not as concentrated as Beale's. For instance, Sarah Hoyt is getting a lot of free publicity for her books, because the controversy draws people to her and then they learn what she writes.

Hey look! It's helping the career of a Latina woman! Isn't that supposed to be a good thing?

Sep. 1st, 2015 05:20 am (UTC)
Did you read my post? I don't think so.

Why should people end the war? Because it is bad for SF, bad for fandom, bad for worldcon, bad for the Hugos. As I said.

You are arguing it is publicity for VD and Sarah Hoyt. Maybe so. If that's the motive, it is cynical and despicable.
(no subject) - jordan179 - Sep. 1st, 2015 05:33 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - kevin_standlee - Sep. 1st, 2015 04:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hand2hand - Sep. 1st, 2015 08:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jere7my - Sep. 1st, 2015 05:25 am (UTC) - Expand
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Sep. 1st, 2015 04:30 am (UTC)
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Sep. 1st, 2015 04:31 am (UTC)
Hey George,

Would you consider visiting Australia for the release of Son of Kong? You have many fans here :-)
Sep. 1st, 2015 05:21 am (UTC)
Re: Australia!
I've visited Down Under half a dozen times. I'm sure I will get back, but I don't know when.
Re: Australia! - skunkboy - Sep. 1st, 2015 05:59 am (UTC) - Expand
Lou Berger
Sep. 1st, 2015 04:35 am (UTC)
Well said!
Excellent post!

I agree with eliminating slates and I ALSO despise the names designed to minimize and reduce.

Also, thanks for the shout out on my ribbons!

I enjoyed seeing you at Bubonicon.

Nima Kohandani
Sep. 1st, 2015 04:35 am (UTC)
Persian Copyright

If we want get the right to Persian translation of GOT series, What should we do?

Best Regards
Nima Kohandani
Sep. 1st, 2015 05:21 am (UTC)
Re: Persian Copyright
Contact Chris Lotts in Brooklyn, my foreign rights agent.
Re: Persian Copyright - voodooqueen126 - Sep. 2nd, 2015 12:00 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Persian Copyright - saare_snowqueen - Sep. 2nd, 2015 09:46 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Persian Copyright - voodooqueen126 - Sep. 3rd, 2015 03:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Persian Copyright - saare_snowqueen - Sep. 4th, 2015 09:32 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 1st, 2015 04:51 am (UTC)
What I most wish for this year is explanations from people whose priorities are very different from mine, over in (loosely speaking) the Puppysphere. I want to know why a work moves them, and how; I want to know what they see as weak spots in works they love, and the strong points of works that overall didn't impress them. I want, really, the kind of conversation that I've always taken as definitive of sf fandom - not formal polished criticism (though I like that too), but the exchange of thoughts and feelings about work we love, work we like, work we dislike, and work we don't understand. (Probably we don't really need a whole lot more exchanges about work we hate. Sometimes it's best to move on.)

The Puppies leaders refused pretty much every invitation and request to do that this year. A literal handful of Puppies followers made the attempt at File 770, but had very little to actually say. It was on the level of "I liked the plot twist" and "It made me feel sad in a good way." Those are as good starting points as any, but then they stopped there as if they'd said everything worth saying, leaving the rest of us hanging. Conversely, it was usually excrutiatingly clear in very short order that they hadn't read the overwhelming majority of works not on their slates, and assayed criticism based on incorrect information and selective quoting of Amazon reviews. The typical Puppy clearly knew much less about anything off their slates than a lot of us learned from our own reading about the works on their slates.

The conversation's all around us, fellow fans of sf and fantasy. Join in! When it works, we all come away having learned something about what others are thinking, and maybe even having discovered some unexpected pleasures. Good stuff.
Sep. 1st, 2015 05:59 am (UTC)
Once upon a time, in a office far far away, there was someone that always wanted to talk about this wonderful television show she had just seen. Usually, it was a made-for-tv movie. And I would ask her what she liked about it, and she would recite the plot. If there was a famous actor, she would mention how much she liked favorite actor. But for me, none of that was helpful or persuasive. The bare bones of a plot are not what I care about. For me, plot is largely the bones, the thing that holds the stuff I care about together, give it structure. And I care a great deal about character, but considerably less about the actor giving life to that character. And so, there was nothing, really, we could talk about. She loved these things but was utterly unable to articulate why in a way that made sense to me.

I think the best of the puppies are probably similar. When I ask about characterization, prose style, structure, pacing, and so on, what they've got is a plot synopsis. And they think that I'm being rude and snobby by not caring about the plot synopsis. They react a lot like I'm asking them to do homework. When I love something, I tend to analyze it, try to see the mechanics of how it connected for me. For many people, thinking about those things actually destroys their enjoyment. It's like analyzing a joke.

So, I think that for some significant number of people who identify with the puppy slate, this conversation is both impossible and unpleasant.
(no subject) - bruceb - Sep. 1st, 2015 02:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oh for the love of... - joshmst - Sep. 1st, 2015 09:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Oh for the love of... - grrm - Sep. 1st, 2015 10:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Oh for the love of... - lydy - Sep. 1st, 2015 11:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Oh for the love of... - joshmst - Sep. 2nd, 2015 06:42 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Oh for the love of... - bruceb - Sep. 2nd, 2015 05:32 am (UTC) - Expand
Well said, Lydy! - madhaus - Sep. 1st, 2015 10:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Well said, Lydy! - lydy - Sep. 1st, 2015 11:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Well said, Lydy! - joshmst - Sep. 2nd, 2015 01:35 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - elialshadowpine - Sep. 1st, 2015 10:19 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lydy - Sep. 1st, 2015 11:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
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