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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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Sep. 1st, 2015 05:40 am (UTC)

I'm going to politely disagree with you. Not that I back the Sad Puppies either. I think both sides are wrong, and that both sides don't the true issue. The Hugo Awards have become irrelevant.

A combination of factors are responsible for that. I wrote a shot essay for Zauberspiegel explaining the problem. Please read it, and let me know what you think (and I strongly suggest everyone else read it, and comment on it too).



Wayne Borean
Sep. 1st, 2015 05:49 am (UTC)
I think you're wrong.

You're making the same mistake that many of the Puppies did -- assuming that more voters would make the award more relevant.

If it were only the number of voters that mattered, the People's Choice Award would be more important than the Oscars. It's not. The Academy voters are fewer in number, but they bring more expertise to the decision. Same's true of worldcon fans. These are people who live and breathe SF and fantasy, for whom "fandom is a way of life," not casual readers.

I have no objection to someone starting a People's Choice award for SF. Hell, I might even win it, since I have the sort of mass following that tends to dominate such awards. But it would not be as meaningful to me as winning a Hugo.
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People's Choice - Frank Probst - Sep. 1st, 2015 12:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
Goodreads Choice Awards - Frank Probst - Sep. 1st, 2015 12:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Sep. 1st, 2015 06:23 am (UTC)
Well it sounds like a reasonable peace proposal. Let's hope it works.
Fain R
Sep. 1st, 2015 06:33 am (UTC)
Future Voting Systems
George, do you know what, if any, changes to Hugo voting are under consideration for future years?
Sep. 1st, 2015 05:11 pm (UTC)
Re: Future Voting Systems
EPH and 4/6 both passed at Sasquan, but need to be ratified next year in KC before they take effect.

If we do not have a second Puppy War, if things return to normalcy, I think there's a good chance they will be voted down.

If the Puppies do slam the nomination process with slates again, however, both of them will undoubtedly pass.
(no subject) - kevin_standlee - Sep. 1st, 2015 07:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
Red Zen
Sep. 1st, 2015 07:02 am (UTC)
what can be done?
I'm not a follower of the whole thing. I'm a recent arrival to the Hugo process, I couldn't be arsed to care until I saw how badly the awards ended up this year.

I just want to say that surely, anything is preferable to another scorched-earth year of "no awards" in 2016.

I think there were an extraordinary lot of B-tier candidates being set forth this year. But in the past (let's be honest) lots of B-tier stuff has been set forth, and won. It never got anybody mad. Not every year has some genius work in every category. We're nerds. We like schlock. B-tier stuff wins. That's fine.

If next year no anti-puppies organize, and if next year some B-tier stuff wins in some categories, that will probably calm things down, the puppies are obviously fueled by victimhood. Not the end of the world. But please, let's not have another year of "no award". That scorched-earth stuff is just ugly, and a million times worse than a B-tier winner.

Edited at 2015-09-01 09:37 am (UTC)
Sep. 1st, 2015 05:16 pm (UTC)
Re: what can be done?
A lot of this is in the eye of the beholder.

Yes, a lot of what you call "B-tier stuff" has won Hugos in the past. And yes, I agree, a B-tier winner is probably preferable to No Award. But what about C-tier stuff? D-tier? What about Fs? There were some nominees on the ballot this year that were just reprehensible.

That, coupled with anger over the slate, produced the No Awards.

((There was A-level fiction published last year, however. Look at the Alfie winners, for instance. The Rothfuss novella that won the Alfie stands head and shoulders above the Hugo finalists. But it was kept off the ballot by slating. Put it on, against four of the slated nominees, and Rothfuss wins in a walk... in my not so humble opinion, anyway)).
Re: what can be done? - Red Zen - Sep. 1st, 2015 06:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: what can be done? - Red Zen - Sep. 1st, 2015 06:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: what can be done? - lauowolf - Sep. 1st, 2015 08:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: what can be done? - lauowolf - Sep. 1st, 2015 10:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 1st, 2015 07:46 am (UTC)
Another Good Post
I wholeheartedly agree that bloc voting is bad. I have no problem with a group wanting more of what they like on the ballots -- I think that is generally what most voters prefer :) The nasty rhetoric from all sides and the strict voting of a slate (be it Sad, Rabid or No Award) is the problem.

On the subject of 2016 noms, have any of you read Jess Nevin's Victorian Hugo series on io9? http://io9.com/tag/victorian-hugos It's a series of posts on what the late 1800s Hugos would have been -- very interesting and thorough. he's the author of the excellent companions to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series. I think it's an excellent contender for Best Related Work
Sep. 1st, 2015 06:44 pm (UTC)
Re: Another Good Post
Jess is also the author of The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana. Out of physical print and expensive in dead tree, but available for Kindle at least. He's definitely an expert on the topic.
Thanks! - travelingjt - Sep. 3rd, 2015 07:29 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 1st, 2015 08:20 am (UTC)
I hope this post swings it...
We went to a lot of trouble to get to Loncon last year: Persuaded elderly parents to house sit the kids for a very long weekend/abandoned the kids during the first day of the new school term; my wife took time out from her job when there were projects underway; we blew money we didn't have...

Nothing unique. But that's my point.

Like a lot of attendees we weren't in the nomadic tribe of fans who are always there, for whom the the convention community is like an evolving utopian city that assembles itself Brigadoon-like several times a year.

It was for us a one-off, a peak experience, a treat we looked forward to for a year and still reminisce about more than a year later.

I'm so glad slategate didn't break THIS year.

I'm not saying don't have a debate, or don't repel borders. But it would be really nice if this could be settled so the City of Fandom can restore itself to the status of glimmering Miklagard for those of us who can only make our pilgrimage once or twice in a lifetime.
Sep. 3rd, 2015 12:47 am (UTC)
Re: I hope this post swings it...
Beautifully said! Sasquan was my first Worldcon (after more than twenty years of NW convention-going). I hope you make it back. I hope I do. I hope the storms will have blown over by then.
Sep. 1st, 2015 09:04 am (UTC)
The hero's journey
Dear Mr. Martin,
I have heard people study part of your work in regards to Joseph Campbell's Monomyth theory and was curious to know if you had yourself read The Hero with a Thousand Faces and what you thought of it.
Thank you very much.
Sep. 1st, 2015 05:18 pm (UTC)
Re: The hero's journey
The Campbell that influenced me was John W., not Joseph.
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Sep. 1st, 2015 09:48 am (UTC)
VD and his ilk can only get so many people to shell out the $40 year after year only for their nominees to be placed below No Award. Mark my words, the Rabids will run out of steam without their nominees and votes being bolstered by overlap from the Sad Puppies.
Sep. 1st, 2015 10:35 am (UTC)
What I would love to see is for this whole utterly American Right vs Left Culture War thing to be gone. For some reason the Puppies decided to parachute a version of American politics Right/Left schism into an arena where it is utterly redundant.

For a start, many of us aren't American, so the divides of American Conservatives vs 'Liberals' is irrelevant anyway.

Plus that little problem that in American politics the Left/Right divide is just a divide between the Right and the Even-Further-Right. It's arguing about Coke vs Pepsi at best.

I mean, the tactic of incredibly polarised world viewpoints being parachuted into arenas where it has no relevance has clearly been successful, because it gets lots of people feeling very het-up and emotional and involved. But... it's sci-fi books. Why is the Right's largely imaginary Culture War even remotely relevant to attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion? Why can't people simply not read books that promote ideas that they personally do not approve of? I don't feel attacked because the Bible sells tons of copies. So why do other people feel attacked if, Scalzi say, sells copies?

So yeah, that's my hopes. Less name calling, for sure. And less of the political divides. We're all fans, it shouldn't matter what our personal politics are.
Sep. 1st, 2015 08:33 pm (UTC)
Agreed. With all the American centric raging that went on as an international fan of SF I was incredibly and utterly fed up with it all. The rest of the world doesn't operate the same way.

After this entire debacle I think that World-Con ought to be renamed America-Con. I'll accept the Hugo's as a true international award when America has a single entry or none at all like many other countries. Before the Chinese novel that won is hoisted up - if there are like 60 'western' publications and 10 'others' and one of the 'others' wins that really doesn't do much for me.

To me it feels that the rabid puppies or the sad ones or whoever they all are relegating themselves to irrelevancy in the future with their hate-mongering. Creating an unwelcome atmosphere for writers who're already put down at every turn in this field is not going to do them any good in the future when they come up against the SF being produced in the rest of the world.

Sorry for hijacking your comment - this has been stewing for months but you just sort of set me off.

Edited at 2015-09-01 08:42 pm (UTC)
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Sep. 1st, 2015 10:49 am (UTC)
I was a missionary in Ethiopia and draw the banner Strak on cross, in the figure of St. George.https://twitter.com/5juankar/status/636438828815941632/photo/1
Sep. 1st, 2015 12:23 pm (UTC)
Well Done
Mr Martin,

What a well-written, well reasoned position! I hope it is widely read and influential. Personally, I find this whole business just sad. However, I will say, your closing sentences "Hatespeech is not lively disagreement. I am too old, too smart, and too rich to waste my time with assholes" made me laugh out loud at work!

Thanks for the expected laugh!

Good Luck,
Sep. 1st, 2015 12:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you for being a voice of reason in this whirlwind of awfulness. I look forward to MidAmericanCon 2.
Sep. 1st, 2015 01:26 pm (UTC)
An idea I saw bandied around was curating a Very Long List from several sff-based blogosphere Best Of The Year lists, Locus/Tor/etc Best Of lists, etc, and using that Very Long List as a basis for Hugo nominations. I'd be curious to know whether you'd see that as a terrible idea or potentially positive.
Sep. 1st, 2015 05:20 pm (UTC)
I don't think we should be adding another step to the process.

The Hugo rules are fine as is, for the most part. They have worked for decades. And can work again, if people will play fair.
(no subject) - kevin_standlee - Sep. 1st, 2015 07:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
Ken Marable
Sep. 1st, 2015 01:58 pm (UTC)
2016 Hugo Recommendation Season
Right along the lines of what you are saying here, I am trying to encourage the community to take part in a “Hugo Recommendation Season” from November to February. Basically to both create as much conversation as possible about the works themselves, and to give each category its fair spotlight, I’m hoping to have a Focus Week on each category. During each week, fans would post their recommendations (on their blogs, Facebook, whatever) saying what works they love, and most importantly, why. (There are a lot of recommendation *lists*, I want more – I want to know *why* it is recommended.)

It is still in the nascent stages but more details are at https://hugorecommend.wordpress.com/.

I am hoping to get as many fans as possible to participate including Sad Puppies, non-Puppies, new members, and long-time fans like you. In fact, my ideal would be to have some of the old guard introduce each category, possibly explaining why it came into existence, things to consider, etc. (e.g. suggestions on how fans can look for a Best Editor; just what is and why do we have a semiprozine; venerable past winners; surprising past winners, etc.). Sure it’s all a Google search away, but it would be nice to have a single, short reference to accompany the recommendations.

However, I would be pleased if fans just participated in each Focus Week and talked about works and people they think are award worthy in each category.
Sep. 2nd, 2015 12:11 am (UTC)
Re: 2016 Hugo Recommendation Season
this seems like a good idea. I hope everything is available on kindle so that I can read it as I finish each book.
Sep. 1st, 2015 02:04 pm (UTC)
i have a controversial Hugo opinion are you ready here it comes
"Listen" wasn't very good i'm glad Orphan Black won instead
Frank Probst
Sep. 2nd, 2015 01:36 am (UTC)
Orphan Black
The particular episode that was nominated (the season 2 finale) was just phenomenal. I'm very glad it won, but I would advise people who haven't watched the show to start at the beginning. It's not a series that can be started halfway through.
(no subject) - Alternate Snowcrash - Sep. 2nd, 2015 03:43 am (UTC) - Expand
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