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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 02:23 pm (UTC)
I understand Paulk is planning to order the works on her "recommendation list" in order of popularity and encourage the Puppies to vote for the more popular works.

It doesn't matter if she puts fifty works per category on the "recommendation list"; if the Puppies know they should nominate the first five, it's a slate of five, and the rest are there for camouflage.

Furthermore, since a slate boosts nominating power ten-fold (as demonstrated in the suggestions post on Brad's blog, where the most popular "nominees" got less than ten percent of the "nominations") to keep a "recommendation list" done by the Puppies (who, lets face it, are going to use only one recommendation list, unlike the rest of us) would need to have fifty items per category to refrain from unfairly affecting the nominations.

Of course, unfairly affecting the nominations is exactly what they want to do, otherwise why have a "recommendation list" at all? They're just trying to figure out how big of an unfair effect they can have before getting called on it.
Sep. 1st, 2015 07:43 pm (UTC)
While I am concerned about the listing by popularity, and winnowing the list down to the "top 10" I'm not that worried about it.

My own club compiles lists every January, and every person who agrees with a recommendation puts their initials behind it. A title that is listed but nobody is willing to stand behind is obviously in there for the wrong reasons. And some titles are obviously popular with club members. But in my club we don't nominate things just because other people like them (although we may seek out those titles for review before nominating if our ballots aren't already full).

I am more concerned about Paulk's explicit suggestion that the readers of her "top 10" lists should consider voting for works on the list rather than works they like because the listed works are more likely to make it on to the ballot.

That's not a very veiled slate plan there.
Jon Watkins
Sep. 1st, 2015 02:27 pm (UTC)
Peace in our time? Here's a suggestion...
As a casual SF/Fantasy fan living in Japan, I've been casually following the Hugo fracas and have some casual observations and unsolicited suggestions that I'm sure everyone on both sides will likely poo-poo and not bother considering. But I'm bored, so here you go:

Both sides need to make concessions.

Those on THE LEFT should concede that in their community, for many years, ideological and political considerations have often overrode considerations over basic storytelling and craft. Themes that strike them as profoundly inspirational strike others as overtly didactic and preachy. Whatever--differences of opinion, right?

The problem is that, when challenged over perceived political biases, many in the left responded to the criticism not with introspection and honest consideration, but rather with callous dismissal and name-calling ("you're only criticizing because you're sexist, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, etc."). This has had an alienating and chilling effect on those not in the left, and this effect was heightened by the fact that so many influential and powerful people in the SF/Fantasy community are loud & proud leftists.

Decades of this created conditions in which led to the rise of some very pissed-off puppies, sad, rabid or otherwise--concede this!--and, moving forward, efforts should be made to be more open-minded and tolerant of those of other ideological persuasions.

Those on THE RIGHT should concede that, aside from cheap publicity, the past year has been utterly unproductive. The indignation has been noted, sure, but due to the radioactive effects of their tactics, precisely zero minds have been changed. "We're going to teach you a lesson by destroying what we both love! Then you'll learn to respect us and our precious feelings." Grow up.

Even worse than the lack of any coordinated persuasive effort is the fact that the puppy movements (both of them) largely seem to have become everything they were railing against--an ideological purity police force concerned with turning SF/Fantasy into political propaganda. Should puppy leadership (which seems nakedly obsessed with politics) magically seize control of the Hugos, then aspiring writers seeking recognition will be inclined to cleanse their works of any elements perceived to be liberal in nature.

Aside from a simple flip of the political orientation of the existing hegemony, how would the puppies alter the current Hugo context? That's what they should talk more about, instead of all this pathetic lamentation. The puppies should concede that their movement has been largely built on incoherent and unintelligent rage, and should apologize for doing what puppies often do on the living room rug.

Now kiss and make up, everyone.
Sep. 1st, 2015 07:39 pm (UTC)
Generalizing that mundane political views map directly onto how one treats the Hugo Awards is IMO a significant error. A number of very honored (and honorable) people in the SF/F community who decried the "puppy" campaign are themselves politically conservative.

For that matter, a number of people whom I know to be "liberal" on the American mundane political scale are actually quite "conservative" (in its older sense of "skeptical of change") when it comes to Worldcon and its institutions. This is why I caution those who decry those who voted against the E Pluribus Hugo proposal at the Business Meeting as being "tools of the puppies" or similarly inflammatory things.
Sep. 1st, 2015 02:30 pm (UTC)

I smell t-shirts! Where can I get one? :)
Sep. 1st, 2015 02:51 pm (UTC)
I have to disagree with you on this. I mean I think a call for peace is necessary, but at this point I feel like a lot of neutrals feel like the hugos have devolved into a clown show. Both factions have burned the house down to make sure the other side didn't win. So who ended up the winner? Vox Day of all people.

Cards on the table, I view myself as a neutral who leans puppy. Mostly because I've seen more dehumanization coming from the anti-puppy side (for lack of a better description) than from the puppies. That being said, maybe the Hugo's can repair its reputation, but at the moment, I don't see the award as anything of particular note anymore.

Either way, it doesn't matter to me, I'll still read You, and Correia, and Laird Barron, and Michael Z. Williamson, and Steve Erikson, and whatever other author strikes my fancy regardless politics.
Sep. 1st, 2015 03:17 pm (UTC)
Book Discussions
I've sort of decided that I'd ease my way into fandom. I've joined Worldcon for 2016. I want to nominate and vote.

So, I'm trying to focus on reading stuff that has been published this year. That's hard for me. Seems by the time I find a title, it's a year or more old, well-vetted and reasonably priced.

I know I'll find and read the new stuff by my old favs, I feel like that's rather limiting.

Does anyone know of a good site that compiles and/or categorizes new releases for the genre?

Edited at 2015-09-01 03:17 pm (UTC)
Sep. 1st, 2015 05:23 pm (UTC)
Re: Book Discussions
LOCUS magazine is the best source.

They have an online version, though being a dinosaur, I subscribe to the print.
Re: Book Discussions - linnymay - Sep. 2nd, 2015 03:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Book Discussions - angledge - Sep. 1st, 2015 10:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 1st, 2015 03:24 pm (UTC)
Well Said, Mr. Martin! I came to the whole controversy late in the day, but most of the SASQUAN organizers are or have been good friends from Northwest Fandom...as was a well-regarded pro editor whom Vox Day took it upon himself to slander. I'm firmly in the camp of SJWs (wear the button proudly....no kidding, there IS one and I own one of them), but profoundly hopeful that the politically-motivated 'slates' will be a thing of the past. The quality of the work should always be the final consideration, even if the themes are too 'challenging' for some people to take on board. The very best S-F and Fantasy in any medium has always had that quality about it.
Sep. 1st, 2015 04:11 pm (UTC)
I think a distinction needs to be made. I don't think fans felt the nominees were illegitimate--not as writers, artists, editors, or people. What they felt was illegitimate was the nominations themselves. (Well, with the likely exception of the person that tried to engineer Hugos for himself and works he published. But he gave us multiple reasons to not want to honor him as part of our community.)
Sep. 1st, 2015 04:12 pm (UTC)
Yes, let's all keep reading. Thanks for leading the way. :)
Sep. 1st, 2015 04:22 pm (UTC)
Is it a slate or not?
While Paulk has written that SP4 will be a recommendation list, it's still unclear whether it'll be a slate for all intents and purposes.

First off, she's said that the final bit will be a list of 10 of the most popular items accumulated in the suggestion phase. The other problem with the slate was that people nominated it in lockstep, without bothering to either read the works or read other works to compare them to. If lockstep voting continues, this just ups the needed Puppy percentage of nominations to 20-30% from 10-15%; it'd still take 3 to 5 non-Pups to counter every slatish nominator.

Second, she's also written she'll rank the lists by popularity, and suggested people might want to nominate the popular things to have a better chance of getting them on the ballot. OK, that's pretty transparent code for "To get Pup noms on the ballot, nominate the top five on the list in each category"...in other words, a slate. I'll be much less wary about their intentions if the final list is randomized, say by alphabetical order of either the creator or title.
Sep. 1st, 2015 05:24 pm (UTC)
Re: Is it a slate or not?
Sep. 1st, 2015 04:28 pm (UTC)
It'll be a good year for those looking to argue about which book is best as there's a lot of good stuff out already and much still to come out. You've got prior Hugo nominated authors, like Gaiman, James SA Corey, Scalzi, Jo Walton(x2), Ken Liu, Stephenson, Bacigalupi, Cixin Liu, Jemisin, Novick, Kim Stanley Robinson and Stross with stuff already out. I haven't read all they have out but what I have I've enjoyed immensely. Then there's Claire North with a new book, Ian Tregillis's The Mechanical which I loved, upcoming new series by Butcher, more from Sanderson, Weber, Seanan McGruire, Atwood, Leckie, Wong, Wolfe, Modesitt, even John Sanford and Johnathan Kellerman have a SciFi books coming out with their names plastered on them.

2015 is a huge year, trying to argue which one of these books is the best should be enough of a rumble on its own. So far I'm torn between The Mechanical and Uprooted, which are both great books that are clever and are just strong thematically. Still waiting on Seveneyes from the library.
Phil Sandifer
Sep. 1st, 2015 05:07 pm (UTC)
I think you're missing an obvious problem: we can ignore Vox, but he still has a bloc of 540 eligible nominators who are going to do as he says. That's the bar every nominee in every category needs to clear. Anything that cannot muster 541 nominations simply won't be on the ballot next year. And ignoring Vox isn't going to change that, even if he is an asshole.

I agree, slates are damaging. I don't think an anti-Puppy slate is a good idea, or, for that matter, one that will work given that, as you point out, a lot of the anti-Puppy vote was primarily an anti-slating vote.

But I think we do need to organize and resist if we want the awards to not be dominated by a fascist clown.
Frank Probst
Sep. 2nd, 2015 01:50 am (UTC)
Ignore Vox Day
I keep saying this. Just ignore him. He probably isn't going to go away, but I can't see 540 people paying for continuing memberships year after year after year. I expect a stunt next year, probably a slate of what he thinks will be "the SJWs favorites" to try to taint the nominations process. Ignore it. Attention is his oxygen. Don't give him any. He isn't interested in the awards, and he isn't interested in open and honest debate. Don't read his blog. Don't follow his tweets. Don't worry about what he's doing. He's worth an eyeroll at best. Just ignore him.
Re: Ignore Vox Day - grrm - Sep. 2nd, 2015 06:18 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Ignore Vox Day - Phil Sandifer - Sep. 3rd, 2015 02:03 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Ignore Vox Day - grrm - Sep. 3rd, 2015 05:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Ignore Vox Day - Phil Sandifer - Sep. 4th, 2015 02:58 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 1st, 2015 05:23 pm (UTC)
Marko Kloos
I am considering nominating Marko Kloos' new novel, Angles of Attack, just because of all the stuff this year. I haven't read it and won't read it this year, but figure if it's nominated it will be judged on its merits, something Kloos didn't have this year. Is that going too far in reaction?
Sep. 1st, 2015 05:26 pm (UTC)
Re: Marko Kloos
Actually, I've read the new Kloos. It is a very entertaining novel, better in all respects than the one that he pulled from the ballot.
Re: Marko Kloos - ken_3k - Sep. 2nd, 2015 08:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Marko Kloos - grrm - Sep. 2nd, 2015 08:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Marko Kloos - Frank Probst - Sep. 2nd, 2015 01:52 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Marko Kloos - a_cubed - Sep. 2nd, 2015 02:29 am (UTC) - Expand
Ian McMurtrie
Sep. 1st, 2015 05:29 pm (UTC)
"We have to put an end to the name-calling. To the stupid epithets."

Agreed, but I notice you only point out epithets and name-calling from the Puppy side.

Has Arthur Chu apologized for calling Torgerson a racist whose wife and child were just "shields"?

The anti-Puppy side was so free with "neo-Nazi", "misogynist", "racist" and the like that Entertainment Weekly nearly got into a legal jam just repeating the libel and slander -- to the point of having to back-track their headline not once, but several times.

Allow me to emphasise that, do: The Anti-Puppy side was so free with "epithets" and "name-calling" that a fairly major journal almost got into legal trouble just repeating them.

If you truly want reconciliation, you might start with advising some heart-felt -- not the pro-forma, "I'm sorry you got your feelings hurt" apologies, but honest "I'm sorry I called you a racist, homo-phobic, misogynist neo-Nazi; please forgive me" apology.

Until then, I don't see any reconciliation being possible.

Edited at 2015-09-01 05:58 pm (UTC)
Sep. 1st, 2015 06:40 pm (UTC)
This again?

How many times must we rehash this?

Yes, nasty stuff was said on both sides. I have seen apologies from Irene Gallo and Tom Doherty. I have seen none from any Puppy.

Also... and here's the real problem... some of the stuff said about the Puppies erred only in painting with too broad a brush. There ARE neo-Nazis and racists among the Puppies. There are misogynists and sexist pigs. There are raging homophobes and gay bashers. Not all of them, no... but so far the other Pups have shown precious little inclination to distance themselves from the toxic trolls in their midst... indeed, even the moderates often seem to embrace the bigots and nominate them for awards.

Generalizations about groups will always get you in trouble, because groups are made up of individuals and individuals differ. The minute you say, "This group is X," someone will say, "Hey, I'm not X, I'm Y."

So let us face it. The Pups are never going to apologize to fandom, and fandom is never going to apologize to the Pups. We need to get beyond that, forget the past, and find a commong ground in the thing we all love -- SF and fantasy.

(no subject) - Ian McMurtrie - Sep. 1st, 2015 07:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - grrm - Sep. 1st, 2015 09:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apologise for what? - aguido - Sep. 4th, 2015 10:15 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Apologise for what? - grrm - Sep. 4th, 2015 06:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 1st, 2015 06:22 pm (UTC)

Every work is a derivative work. Based on what you've said it could be argued that if A. E. van Vogt had won for Null A, the award should really have gone to Alfred Korzybski. Or any award for 'Hard' Science Fiction should go to the real world. For that matter I sold a short story 'derived' from a short story that Janet Morris also sold into the same anthology. Janet didn't mind.

How do you define Original? The Seven Basic Plots mean nothing is original, except your particular interpretation.

So no, Gene Roddenberry shouldn't get the Hugo for a Star Trek novel written by Dean Wesley Smith. Besides, Gene didn't design all of Star Trek. There were lots of other people involved. Lots. But then, you write for TV, so you'd know this - I'm not sure everyone else here does.

All of which has nothing to do with issue. The Hugo Awards aren't relevant because too few people are involved, and that's because we aren't getting the message out to all the people who'd love what we have to offer, if they knew it existed.

And there's millions and millions of them. We need to reach those people.
Sep. 1st, 2015 06:28 pm (UTC)
We don't, actually.

As I told the reporter for WIRED, the most popular books get a different sort of award : money. Truckloads and truckloads of money. Do they need the trophy too?

I would rather see the trophy go to the guy who sells 5000 copies but does something innovative, to the young writer whose career needs a boost.

Would I like to win more Hugos? Sure. But I don't NEED one, they make no difference to my career. Back in 1975, when "A Song for Lya" won, it was very different. That award put me on the map.

STAR WARS and STAR TREK do fine without our rockets.

And neither one is remotely close to being "the best."
(no subject) - wayne_borean - Sep. 1st, 2015 07:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - grrm - Sep. 1st, 2015 09:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wayne_borean - Sep. 2nd, 2015 06:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
J K Rowling - Frank Probst - Sep. 2nd, 2015 02:01 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 1st, 2015 06:31 pm (UTC)
>We should not be giving these toxic clowns the power to sway our votes either way.

>We have to put an end to the name-calling.

Sep. 1st, 2015 09:19 pm (UTC)
You need to make a sharp distinction between the Sad Puppies and the Rabids.

I think many of the Sad Puppies are decent and reasonable people, however wrong I think they were with their slates, and however much we disagree on books. I think some common ground can be found.

The leader of the Rabid Puppies has already loudly proclaimed that no peace can be made with him. That his intent is to destroy the avoid. His followers presumably agree. They are toxic clowns.
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