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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 07:11 pm (UTC)
We all need to get past it....while one side calls the other neo-nazi's, bigots (or in your case, toxic clowbs) if they support the wrong books? Yeah thats a welcoming and fun community.

I don't buy into this idea that fandom shouldn't have fighting. More people are speaking up now and letting their opinion known. I'm sure some people would prefer we be quiet, but why should we?
Sep. 1st, 2015 09:04 pm (UTC)
No one has to be quiet.

Civility is not silence.

You can say, "I disagree," without being abusive.
(no subject) - Ken Marable - Sep. 2nd, 2015 01:45 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 1st, 2015 07:38 pm (UTC)
By any chance, was there a video of the Alfies?
Sep. 1st, 2015 08:55 pm (UTC)
Hear hear! Let there be peace!
Sep. 1st, 2015 09:47 pm (UTC)
All this talk of awards reminds me. Don't you still owe us a picture of the Stabby Award you got from Reddit?
Sep. 1st, 2015 10:35 pm (UTC)
I do, yes. Thanks for the reminder.
Sep. 2nd, 2015 12:20 am (UTC)
Try to think positive: Other countries don't even have places where people can chose a side and argue about SF and fantasy... My country for example has only one convention connected to those genres which is worthy of mentioning, and from what I've seen on the internet even that pales in comparison to most (if not all) the famous events happening in the US.

It's all a matter of perspective. I grew up in a small town in Greece, and from early on I showed an interest in comic books. During the early nineties, when I was still a child, my only source of Marvel material was a kiosk which sold a magazine with Spider-Man stories which were so poorly translated that some sentences didn't even make sense... Things have changed now to the better, but the fact remains that back in those days every time I read a superhero story, no matter how non-sensical it was, it felt like I had found treasure. That lack of material, which was essentially a lack of stimuli to satisfy my hungry mind, has taught me to be grateful. Even now, with an abundance of comic books and literature, I feel lucky and joyful whenever I read a story that's above average in quality. The truly great ones, yours included, literally give me another reason to be happy to be alive.

I have read your posts about the Puppies, and I too find their claims to be exaggerated, even though my point of view in this matter is by default a more distanced one, due to my geographical location. Nevertheless, there is a point to my message: Your country is huge, there is a great number of people in it associated with SF and Fantasy, and there are many social events where people can express their opinions and share their sentiments. The mere size of fandom in the US makes the emergence of groups like the Puppies inevitable, and they won't be the last. More groups are bound to appear, with ideas that might be or sound delusional, controversial, or just plain wrong. They may even slightly affect the community, but there's no chance that they'll alter the perception of the majority of readers, who just enjoy a good story and don't care about stereotypical archetypes... That's something that the stories themselves will do, and always in a positive way. SF and Fantasy are safe, in all their forms. And you, and all of the rest of the readers should feel thankful for what you've got: The stories are there, and no one can take them from you, no matter how hard they yell and protest.

Thanks, and sorry about the length of this message. :)

Sep. 2nd, 2015 10:14 am (UTC)
Since as discussed, travelling to a WorldCon in America is usually prohibitively expensive for a European Fan such as yourself, I hope you have started your WorldCon 75 in Helsinki Finland savings plan. The goal is to make this the most inclusive WorldCon - EVER! Hope you can come and share it with us.
Sep. 2nd, 2015 12:28 am (UTC)
A "recommended reading" list is how they should have gone about it, IMO. Even if I weren't using it for Hugo nominations, it would also be useful for those of us who like milSF/space opera but have difficulty keeping up with what's new and what's also in the range of the type we like. For example, I love the Vorkosigan series, and the Sassinak books, and a bunch of older milSF/space opera with lead women characters that I can't remember the names of and probably aren't in print anymore.

If I go looking for recommendations, I usually get the same names over and over again, with David Weber usually at the top of the list. My Mom loves his Honorverse but the writing style is just too dry for me. Or, they're recommendation lists of "classic" space opera dating often from the 40s to the 90s. There's sometimes some good stuff, but again, it's often the same names repeatedly.

So any Pups listening: Please! Make the list a thing! Look, I'll put it out right here. I'm a queer pagan poly disabled feminist goth weirdo, and I still love good milSF and space opera. As an example, I mentioned loving Sassinak above, and I would absolutely have nominated that (for various reasons, not possible at the time, but the sentiment remains). If I find something on your list that blows me away or is just absolutely fun (I put Scott Lynch's Gentlemen Bastards into this category; they're brilliant, but most of all, they're fun), then yes, I'll nominate. Some of my favorite authors have political beliefs very different for mine, and as long as they don't get in the way of the story (I think most of us can agree that a book that is a barely disguised political treatise is fun to nobody), I don't care. By all means, give me more awesome books to read!

TLDR: Recommended reading list = GOOD. Slates = BAD.
Elijah Bak
Sep. 2nd, 2015 03:11 am (UTC)
2016 Hugos
I just want a chance to vote for James S.A. Corey.
Sep. 2nd, 2015 03:15 am (UTC)
You are dreaming
So Fans are going to make peace with the pups?

Except Fans were never at war with the pups. The pups are fighting a culture war and it was brought to the Hugos because Larry Correia is a Tea Puppy (who blogs about politics more than SF) and he got his feelings hurt because he didn't win. So he blew the dog whistle, did some VD kissing up and whistled for gamergaters. And the pack just keeps on running.

So now one of the pack masters is Kate Paulk. I read her blog today. She says:

"...The thing is, is it Nazi, or is it Communist? There are elements of both. Take this quote from Hitler:

“It is thus necessary that the individual should finally come to realize that his own ego is of no importance in comparison with the existence of the nation, that the position of the individual is conditioned solely by the interests of the nation as a whole.”

and replace “nation” with “Fandom”.

They certainly took note of Goebbels on propaganda techniques:

“The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.”

And I’m sure this observation of Hitler’s would not be at all strange to them:

“We are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are determined to destroy this system under all conditions....”

These are supposed to be the more rational Sad Pups correct? You see the same stuff on Correia's website. There isn't a dog biscuit bit of difference and they all post on each others web sites.

If Kate the Impala is trying to pacify you, she has an angle. It won't be a good one.

Edited at 2015-09-02 03:18 am (UTC)
Sep. 2nd, 2015 06:17 am (UTC)
Re: You are dreaming
Yes, well...

Again, dragging Hitler into these discussions is... well, what can one possibly say? The mind boggles.

We are talking about a literary award.
Re: You are dreaming - Scott Schaffer - Sep. 2nd, 2015 06:47 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: You are dreaming - rjcollins - Sep. 2nd, 2015 09:17 am (UTC) - Expand
Bob Jenson
Sep. 2nd, 2015 05:15 am (UTC)
I think this will be my last post anywhere about the puppies. All I can do is preach to the choir, I guess, and not offer any new insights. There is a certain type of person that just wants to hate no matter what, has no interest in common ground, and has no interest in right or wrong but just winning - whatever that is to them. In all honesty, I feel sorry for people like that.
What has irked me the most was the assumption that the slate nominated work wasn't even read, that no award was automatically voted above it all. Well, I bloody well read it all - and everyone I talked to about it at Sasquan claimed they did too. My impression is the puppies thought if we read their slate material we would see the light and bemoan all the lost years not spent reading these guys?
Still, I enjoyed my first WorldCon and voting for the Hugos. I enjoyed the process, there WAS some enjoyable material to read for sure and I look forward to next year's ballot (and being able to nominates!). It made me a much more active fan, and I learned a lot this year. Surely that's not a bad thing?
Sep. 2nd, 2015 10:17 am (UTC)
Thanks for that Bob.

I too read everything in the awards packet BEFORE making my decisions. I think many if not most Fans did the same.
Hate is over-rated - linnymay - Sep. 2nd, 2015 03:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
Loyd Jenkins
Sep. 2nd, 2015 06:55 am (UTC)
How come you only ask Puppies to talk nice? It is like boos for No Award being wrong, but cheers okay.
Sep. 2nd, 2015 06:05 pm (UTC)
Re: Apologies
It wasn't "boos for no award," it was boos, period.

If booing had been allowed, many of the Puppy nominees would have been loudly booed when announced. I saw it happen in 1987, when the L. Ron Hubbard novel was announced.

David was doing the Puppies a kindness.

It is really disingenuous to try to turn that around and use it as a criticism. Like me, he has been a voice of moderation in all this, urging EVERYONE to talk nice.
Sep. 2nd, 2015 04:16 pm (UTC)
I had to share this
Hello Mr. Martin,
I heard something about a week and a half ago, and I was waiting for another blog about GOT, ASOIAF, or the Son of Kong, before linking this here, but I couldn't wait any more haha. So I apologize now for this kind of being off topic, but this was eating me alive waiting. I am such a huge fan of your work, and ASOIAF is my absolute favorite series of all time, and I love looking at fan-made tributes to the series. This is a fan-made song by a very talented woman on YouTube names Karline, she has made a few fan songs for GOT, and I believe she said you listened to her version of The Dornishman's Wife. Anyway, this song is called Snow, and it's a truly wonderful song. I know you get tons and tons of comments on these, but I really hope you see this one and get the chance to listen to it, I have linked the video below.

Sep. 3rd, 2015 02:07 am (UTC)
Very sad time
There was a time when I had no idea what a writer’s political preference was nor did I want to. Back in the 90’s when everyone was trying to figure out how best to use the internet you could actually communicate with authors through their personal email address. This would eventually morph into blogs and knowing way more about our favorite authors then we need to. It’s hard to believe there was a time when you only knew your favorite author through his or her writing. Sure, you had your celebrity writers like Stephen King but for the most part all we had to go off of was the blurb on the back of the book jacket and a black and white photo. Now most of the writers want to be a celebrity and we know if you are a liberal or conservative amongst other things. We no longer look for the best story, we look at the person writing it and dissect what he or she believes in. Sci-fi and fantasy never had a barrier with the readers and it was something we could get behind because no matter what someone believed, they actually had some fascinating stories to tell us. They provoked us to think. Octavia E. Butler once called it “potentially the freest genre in existence.” No longer...Or if you do take that approach you won’t get read if it doesn’t fit someone’s political viewpoint. The Hugo awards have become a sham, a farce. It’s about “who” is writing the story and their politics, not about how good the story is. The cheering during the “no award” vote is disgusting and those that did should be ashamed of themselves. This all started because some guy a few years ago said, “Hey, this award seemed slanted.” Honestly, I don’t know if that’s true. I wasn’t going to go back the last 5 years and look into that deeply. However, someone had a concern and it has turned into a firestorm. Now whatever question there was about it being a right vs. left thing has been fully answered. The award is forever ruined and that’s sad. Both “sides” in this disgrace are claiming victory and in the process turned the award into a political award. Like Humpty Dumpty, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t put it back together again. Hugo award winner peaked peoples interest in the past, most will no longer even pay attention to what book won the award. Don’t worry, the award will still be around and writers that win it will still be able to declare themselves masters of the universe and receive the ego boost they desperately want but the clear loser in this sad tale is the everyday book reader.
John Smith
Sep. 3rd, 2015 10:31 am (UTC)
"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."

As long as you are voting No Award, you are not voting for peace. You are voting that some people don't deserve to be writers.

Shameful from someone who makes his living from the same occupation.
Sep. 3rd, 2015 05:36 pm (UTC)
Re: "Peace"
That's nonsense.

No Award means "none of these works is worthy of a Hugo."

Hundreds of stories are published each year in each of the Hugo categories (well, okay, maybe less than that in novella, but the general point still stands). Probably no more than a dozen are Hugo-calibre. And that's in a good year.

If the ballot does not have any of those Hugo-calibre works among the finalists, then No Award is the appropriate vote.

The shame would be giving a Hugo to a work unworthy of the rocket, because it was the best of a bad lot.
Re: "Peace" - John Smith - Sep. 4th, 2015 03:45 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: "Peace" - grrm - Sep. 4th, 2015 04:56 am (UTC) - Expand
Bert Difig
Sep. 3rd, 2015 07:03 pm (UTC)
"Let's make it about the work. Let's argue about the BOOKS. "

So NOT about the authors, and their politics?
So you're ditching your side to join the puppies; who wanted THIS all along?
That's not the puppies backing down, did you completely miss that?

Why would you be proud of the voters who openly stated they voted "no award" as told without ever reading ANY of the books proposed?

If you want it about the books; why are you supporting voters who decided it was NOT about the books?

I'm not sure if you've been on the wrong side this whole time and clueless about what was happening; or if you think you're playing a clever game where you pretend this WAS your side, somehow; while ignoring what actually happened?

Which makes you look less foolish? I can't even decide that.
Sep. 3rd, 2015 11:06 pm (UTC)
Re: Hunh?
The Puppies said they wanted it to be about the work, yes... and then, for all the months that followed, they totally ignored the work they had nomination to attack, attack, attack the authors they disliked (for their politics) and anyone who dared criticize them.

The people actually reviewing and discussing the work were almost all those opposed to the slates.

The vast majority of those who voted No Award read the works, and found them wanting. Like me.

You have been drinking a lot of Puppy Kool-Aid, Bert. It was the Puppies who brought authors and politics into this.

Edited at 2015-09-03 11:06 pm (UTC)
Frank Probst
Sep. 4th, 2015 02:54 am (UTC)
Looks like Sad Puppies 4 has already kicked off. Link at File 770. Sifting through the comments, I'd say a significant number (less that half, but definitely more than 10%) are about what works to nominate. The end goal appears to be to generate a list of about 10 works in each category rather than a "slate". I think it's way too soon to guess how next year's noms will play out, but their roll-out has been mostly encouraging.
Sep. 4th, 2015 05:02 am (UTC)
Re: SP4
Yes, I think the commenters actually talking about books on the SP4 slate are a very encouraging sign.

On the other hand, there are also people talking about bringing guns to MidAmericon. Not ray guns or blasters, but real actual guns. In case Patrick Nielsen Hayden speaks to them rudely...

This is the problem with generalizing about the Sad Puppies. Some of them are indeed fans and readers, who just want the books and writers they like to be honored. But others -- a small minority, I would hope, though it is hard to tell from the comments -- seem to hate fandom and everything it stands for.

I want to have a beer and talk books with the Puppies who want to talk books with me.

Edited at 2015-09-04 06:13 am (UTC)
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