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Awards, Awards, and More Awards

So, I've heard rumors that some of our Sad Puppy friends, unhappy about the way the Hugo voting turned out, are talking about starting their own awards. Perhaps in conjunction with Dragoncon, the gigantic Atlanta media con, or perhaps at Libertycon, a smaller regional con held annually in Chattanooga.

For what it's worth -- probably not much, since very few of the Pups seem to care what any non-Pups think -- I think this is a terrific idea. (Which is why I suggested it back in May, when the Puppy Wars began).

Look, everybody likes to get an award. An attaboy, a tip of the hat, some recognition for their effort. Scientists like to win Nobel Prizes, journalists like to win Pulitzers, and the guys who work at Pep Boys like to win Employee of the Month. If you go back to the first Puppy posts, way back when, and scrape off all the stuff about SJWs and cliques and cabals, the bottom line complaint, the thing that triggered all the rage, is very simple and very human: "hey, no one is giving US any awards." The Pups and the writers and stories they liked were simply not being honored by the Hugos.

The thing is -- and given the hundreds and thousands of words that have been written about Puppygate, it is easy to lose sight of this -- the Hugo may be the oldest and most prestigious award in our genre, but it is NOT the only one, and has not been since, hmmm, the mid 60s, at least. That was when Damon Knight founded SFWA, and launched the Nebulas.

In an odd funhouse mirror sort of way, Damon Knight had the same issue with the Hugo Awards that the Puppies did. He thought they were going to the wrong stories. But Damon was coming from the other side; he wanted to make SF (not fantasy so much, he was never a fantasy fan, once said he's never read a book with a map in it) more literary. To this end he founded Milford, founded Clarion, taught Clarion for half a century, edited ORBIT (by far the most literary of the original anthologies)... and began the Nebulas. Damon felt that the Hugos, the fan award, too often went to popular works, whereas the Nebula would recognize more ambitious, experimental, and "writerly" books and stories. (It has not always worked that way, but never mind).

The Nebula was the first important rival to the Hugo, but it is by no means the only one. These days, we have more awards than I can count... and many of them started with the express purpose of recognizing a genre, subgenre, group of writers, or point of view not sufficiently honored by the Hugos, according to their founders.

Charles Brown started the LOCUS Award, and always insisted that it was more significant than the Hugo, since it had a larger voter base (originally just LOCUS subscribers, later expanded to include anyone who wants to send in a ballot). For a time Charlie presented the LOCUS Awards at Dragoncon, in fact... but no one at Dragoncon seemed to give two shits (the turnout was always much bigger for the Bettie Page Lookalike Contest), so he finally moved the presentation to Westercon.

Lin Carter felt that epic fantasy and sword & sorcery were being ignored by the Hugo voters, and founded the Gandalf Award. His original intent was to create an entire parallel set of awards, duplicating all the Hugo categoriesfor fantasy instead of SF. He was talked into scaling that down into one Life Achievement Gandalf, but that was given at worldcon for a number of years, until his death.

SF and fantasy and horror aficionados in the film and television industry, feeling that SF and fantasy was too often ignored by the Oscars and Emmys, started the Saturn Awards, which continue to this day.

Wiscon, the feminist-oriented convention in Madison, Wisconsin, created the Tiptree Awards to recognize outstanding works of SF and fantasy that examine issues of gender.

The World Fantasy Con has the World Fantasy Awards, sometimes called the "Howards" or "Howies" for their iconic trophy, a wonderfully grotesque bust of H.P. Lovecraft by Gahan Wilson. Both fantasy and horror (not not SF) are eligible for that one.

That did not prevent the Horror Writers Association from starting their own award a few years later, partly because some of them felt that the Howard did not go to horror often enough. Their Bram Stoker Award is not, as one might think, a bust of Bram Stoker, but rather a delightful gothic ceramic statue of a haunted house.

A small Kansas convention started the Balrog Awards, for reasons that remain unclear. Among writers, it was also known as "the coveted Balrog." The trophy was quite imposing, especially from the rear. (I won one once, in its last year, but the trophy was smashed in an auto accident before it could be mailed and never replaced, and the organizer went to Oman).

Some of the Puppies have complained the media tie-in books never win Hugos. That's true, they don't (and shouldn't, in my opinion). Some of the writers of media tie-ins felt the same way, however, and instead of bitching, they created their own awards, the Scribes. Those are still going as well. Here, see: http://iamtw.org/the-scribe-awards/scribe-award-nominees/

The Scribes are presented at San Diego Comicon. So are the Inkpots, comicon's own awards, which they've been giving for decades. Also the Eisners, THE premiere award for comics and graphic novels. (I have never been sure why the hell the Hugos needed a Graphic Story category, when the Eisners already existed).

The Hugos are not the only award presented at worldcon either. Libertarian fans, wanted to recognize libertarian fiction, present the Prometheus Award at worldcon annually. (And hey, I gave my Alfies at worldcon too, though I hope they don't need to become a tradition). There are also the Hogus and Black Holes, though admittedly those are more satire than honor.

Bubonicon, our own local con in New Mexico, used to give the Green Slime Awards, a brainchild of Horrible Old Roy Tackett, for the worst SF of the year. That stopped when Roy passed.

British fans, not content with the awards that Americans were handing out, have their own British Fantasy Awards, and also the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke Award.

The Australians, Canadians, Czechs, Spanish, and Japanese all have their own SF awards as well. And there are doubtless many more I am not aware of. The artists, wanting to honor more of their own than were being recognized by the Best Professional Artist Hugo, founded ASFA and began presenting Chesleys annually at worldcon.

Additionally we have the John W. Campbell Memorial Award (not to be confused with the John W. Campbell Award), the Pilgrim, the Sturgeon, the Heinlein...

Also, hey, we have Reddit, and their VERY cool new Stabby Award, an engraved dagger:

No doubt I have left some out. The point being, there are a LOT of awards.

But there is always room for more. A great many of the awards discussed above were started precisely because the people behind them felt someone was being overlooked by the Hugos and/ or other existing awards, and wanted to give an "attaboy" to work they cherished.

There is no reason the Sad Puppies should not do the same. Give them at Dragoncon, give them at Libertycon... or, hell, give them at worldcon, if you want. Most worldcons will give you a hall for the presentation, I'm sure, just as they do for the Prometheus Awards and the Seiuns. Or you can rent your own venue off-site, as I did with the Alfies. Have a party. No booing, just cheers. Give handsome trophies to those you think deserve it. Spread joy.

That's what awards are supposed to be about, after all. Giving some joy back to the writers and editors and artists who have given you so much joy with their work. Celebration.

Since RAH is already taken by the Heinlein Foundation for its own award, maybe you should call them the Jims, to honor Jim Baen, an editor and publisher that I know many of you admire. If you launch a Kickstarter to have a bust of him sculpted for the trophy, I'll be glad to contribute. (It may surprise you to know that while Jim Baen and I were very far apart politically, we shared many a meal together, and he published a half dozen of my books. Liberals and conservatives CAN get along, and usually did, in fandom of yore).

Go for it, and maybe those puppies that you're so concerned about will finally have a reason to smile.



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Sep. 6th, 2015 12:12 am (UTC)
Fine, we're gonna make our own award! With blackjack...and hookers... In fact, forget the award.
Sep. 6th, 2015 02:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you for saying this, because I was so going to.

Despite not having gone to cons in a long time (relatively-poor introvert with air travel issues) I would so fucking attend the Really Just Blackjack and Hookers award ceremonies, whenever they took place.
Sep. 6th, 2015 12:17 am (UTC)
A truly wonderful idea. I applaud this, it's constructive, warm, embracing, wonderful. I hope they do it.

... and if they will forgive a cheap gag.

If Vox Dei commissions some lovely statues, I'm sure we all look forward to the ceremony when the VD awards are giving out.
Sep. 6th, 2015 12:37 am (UTC)
It's a diverse and growing SFF family we live in, George. Awards should follow suit - evolving and shifting to match changes in SFF while honoring the core of speculative fiction adventure.

The reddit Fantasy r/Fantasy Stabby is a fun way of honoring the authors / creators who do well with fans who gather in large, diverse online communities. Some are classic authors - others new to the published world. It's a new way of looking at SFF fandom. Yet inclusive of the past and future.

Funny, but new views and old can be honored by a new Stabby award. One that does not have to destroy or diminish a historic award to exist. There is room for all.
Sep. 6th, 2015 12:37 am (UTC)
Quick question: if you won one of their awards, would you accept it? Go to the ceremony?
Sep. 6th, 2015 12:48 am (UTC)
This seems pretty unlikely, since I appear to be have been placed pretty high on their enemies list of late.

Were it to happen, though... depends. Dragoncon, for instance, often conflicts with worldcon, so it is unlikely I will ever be on hand for any award given there. Worldcon is special to me.

FWIW, I have missed a lot of awards ceremonies of late, even ones where I won an award. I was not present at the World Fantasy Award where DANGEROUS WOMEN won the Howard, not at the one where I was given the Lifetime Achievement Award. Reddit mailed be my Stabby; not even sure they have a ceremony. I was on at Westercon in July when ROGUES won the Locus Award. This is not a comment on these awards or ceremonies, but simply on my schedule... given the pressures I am under, I have to skip many events I would sooner attend.
Stabby - elquesogrande1 - Sep. 7th, 2015 01:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - Eduardo Osorio Cabrera - Sep. 8th, 2015 05:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - grrm - Sep. 8th, 2015 07:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 6th, 2015 12:43 am (UTC)
Yes - be creative and establish the SP blessed awards
If the Sad Puppies want to control the nomination and award process, it makes enormous sense to create one's own award. No one would have been critical and many would across the political spectrum would have supported the endeavor. So much bitterness could have been avoided. I think there is an alt-fan history story someone should be writing along those lines.
Sep. 6th, 2015 12:49 am (UTC)
Re: Yes - be creative and establish the SP blessed awards
Alt-history aside, this is still something worth doing. It would still draw widespread fannish support, I believe, and might be at least one small step toward peace.
Sep. 6th, 2015 12:46 am (UTC)
As(s) for "the coveted Balrog's" rear view, see above.
Sep. 6th, 2015 01:31 am (UTC)
"(I have never been sure why the hell the Hugos needed a Graphic Story category, when the Eisners already existed)."

Presumably because the Eisner awards have a juried shortlist, while the Hugos allow for nomination by all of the voters.
Sep. 9th, 2015 04:18 pm (UTC)
Additionally, only voters within the comics industry can vote for the Eisners, as opposed to, for example, all members of SDCC (where the awards ceremony is held). To my knowledge, the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story category may be the only fan organized major award for graphic novels.
Ivan Shishmanov
Sep. 6th, 2015 01:33 am (UTC)
Mr george
George i watched all your interviews out there even very old radio interviews your site your journal and i have to say you are pretty funny a lot of funny stuff in asoiaf have you ever think to write comedie stories :)
Sep. 6th, 2015 04:36 am (UTC)
Re: Mr george
Killing characters is easy. Comedy is hard.
Sep. 6th, 2015 01:52 am (UTC)
I'm new here, who exactly are the puppies? (sorry for my ignorance)
Sep. 6th, 2015 04:37 am (UTC)
Re: puppies...?
(Slaps forehead).

Sorry, I am not going to tackle that one. Scroll down and go back to April and start reading my Puppygate posts there. Then, if your eyes have not glazed over, do the same thing at FILE 770.
Sep. 6th, 2015 02:06 am (UTC)
I have no problem with more awards, and I for one would welcome the Puppies founding their own award & leaving the Hugos alone.

After all, they have already said that the Hugos are irrelevant, clicque-y, have been given to the wrong works these last ten (or longer?, accounts vary) years, and they don't want them anyway.

So why not do something positive with all that energy and construct their own awards, which will undoubtedly be relevant, 100% open, democratic & transparent, and will only ever awarded to deserving works. The prestige "The Puppies" (merely a suggested name) will garner will surely show those Hugo voters how wrong they have been all these years.
Sep. 6th, 2015 02:12 am (UTC)
A quibble ...
... guys who work at Pep Boys like to win Employee of the Month ...

I don't know what Pep Boys is, or who works there, but I think that — outside of NASA, maybe — there are few people indeed who take Employee of the Month awards seriously.

Although, come to think of it, I've never won one, so maybe that's sour grapes getting the better of me.
Sep. 6th, 2015 02:22 am (UTC)
Not that any of my friends on either side of the divide care what I think, but if there was a Kickstarter to fund a glorious new trophy design, something truly memorable, I might very well contribute in order to help launch it.

And in all seriousness, my suggestion for the name would be the Hero Awards.

Dr. Phil
John Nelson
Sep. 6th, 2015 03:00 am (UTC)
Let's come up with blog posts awards
George, for a man who has been working in the web industry for over 20 years (that's me. Hi), I can tell you know I can't stomach many blog posts because 99% of them go "bla bla bla". However yours have much depth, and are fun to read. This is an obvious sign than you're one of the better writers in the world. But it's also an obvious sign you have a mind full of a multitude of interests. I think we need to create a blog post award for something to the nature of "blog post that has something interesting to say" or "blog posts that get read to the very bottom"...this very blog post got nominated for both entries
Sep. 6th, 2015 03:16 am (UTC)
Gemmell Legend Award
A very nice listing of many awards. One of my favorites that you didn't list is the David Gemmell Legend Award, which comes with its own battle axe.

Sep. 6th, 2015 04:40 am (UTC)
Re: Gemmell Legend Award
Wow. Never saw that one. Cool. Is the axe engraved?

With the Gemmell axe and the Reddit dagger, a writer should be prepared to take on any critics... er, orcs...
Re: Gemmell Legend Award - aulus_poliutos - Sep. 6th, 2015 11:47 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Gemmell Legend Award - gryphia - Sep. 6th, 2015 12:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Gemmell Legend Award - elquesogrande1 - Sep. 6th, 2015 01:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Gemmell Legend Award - Mark Lawrence - Sep. 7th, 2015 07:38 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 6th, 2015 04:52 am (UTC)

Hm, other names, if they don't want to go with Jim for some reason.

What I read of some of the Puppies makes me think maybe calling it the Chesterson - after G.K., of course - might be good. (I'm pretty sure John C. Wright would approve, if that matters...) I've been kind of surprised there wasn't a Chesterson already, so... opportunity knocks?

On the opposite end of the gravitas spectrum, how about calling them the Rovers? Statue could be akin to a Mars rover. You've got exploration, science, adventure, all right there. (Maybe it's being driven by a puppy. Or maybe a puppy in a spacesuit. XD ) But, you know, be light and friendly about it instead of horrible and demonising. Awards are supposed to be congratulatory and fun, not spiteful and awful.

Oh wait, maybe... when they aren't talking horrible politics, they're talking about adventure and fun, right? And, let's say what it is, a good helping of nostalgia.

So atop the Rover trophy is a child, right? A kid, let's say 12. With a dog, the iconic shaggy pet dog. And they're posed together in that happy jumping around together kind of pose, the dog jumping off hind legs, looking up at the toy the kid is holding up so high, that the kid is, in their imagination, flying, that toy which is, of course, a spaceship off deep into the furthest reaches of space and adventure - maybe it's a rocket, maybe another kind of ship, it could be something like the SpaceShipOne craft, it doesn't matter as long as it's recognisably a spaceship, and off to adventure.

It's got all the pieces, right? It's not "literary," in that sense they're so fond to disown; it's aspirational; it's talking about imagination; it carries with it science; it's got a puppy reference if they want it; it's fun, if you do it right. If you make the ship look a bit like SpaceShipOne it's even referencing a private space effort, which is thematically concordant with their politics.

It's not exactly modern design - it is in fact the opposite of modern design - but somehow I don't think that will hurt anything either.

Seriously, if any puppies are reading this and you want to develop any of these into real awards - go to.
Sep. 6th, 2015 07:46 pm (UTC)
Solarbird's imagining of an award object

Hi Solarbird:

While I can easily imagine/visualize the award statue you describe, one would need a real wizard of a craftsperson to put it together. Bravo/Brava for the imagery.

Leslie Librarian
(no subject) - Teemu Leisti - Sep. 7th, 2015 07:42 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - Richelle Gatchell - Sep. 9th, 2015 11:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
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