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Hugo Withdrawal

I see that the fanzine BLACK GATE has withdrawn from the Hugo race, after being slated by the Rabid Puppies and nominated (perhaps) as a result of that.

You can read their reasons here:

This is the second year that BLACK GATE has refused a nomination, so one certainly has to admire them for their consistency. And no one can deny that this is a very difficult decision for those, like BLACK GATE, that were put on the ballot by the Rabids without their consent (it is an easy decision for the Rabids themselves and their allies, of course, most of whom are squealing as happily as pigs in shit).

Since I'm on record as urging the "hostages" to stand their ground, I can't applaud this decision. But I will not criticize it either. They had a tough call and they made it, consistent with their own politics and principles.

I will quibble, however, about one of their assertions: that even if BLACK GATE had elected to remain on the ballot, they had no chance of winning. I am not going to go so far as to say they were the favorite... but I think they would have had a shot. All five of this year's nominees were on the Rabid Slate, yes. But two of the five -- BLACK GATE and FILE 770 -- are clearly hostages, slated without their consent. Despite the success of No Award in last year's voting, I think the presence of so many hostages this year changes the equation. My hope is that fewer fans will resort to the Nuclear Option. If so, I think FILE 770 will win here... but BLACK GATE would have given Glyer's zine its strongest competition. Oh, and yes, No Award will be contending too. TANGENT might have a very slim outside chance.

BLACK GATE's withdrawal changes all that, of course. The big question is, what takes its place? Whatever it is, I'd say that it instantly becomes a major contender here, just as THREE BODY PROBLEM became a contender last year after Marko Kloos pulled out of novel. My guess is that the rocket goes to either FILE 770 or the new nominee...

(One also wonders what will take place of the "The Commuter," the Thomas Mays nominee in Short Story. Mays has also withdrawn).

Sixth place has never been so crucial.


May. 1st, 2016 10:50 pm (UTC)
What do we do?
But what can we do as individuals?
May. 1st, 2016 11:25 pm (UTC)
Re: What do we do?
Read. Nominate. Vote. Urge others to do the same.

Also, always, as hard as it is, I think we need to try and take the high road in these online debates. We should not descend to the level of the Rabids, or even the worst of the Sads. No matter how tempting, returning vitriol for vitriol gets us nowhere.

We should talk about the books and stories, first and last.
Re: What do we do? - peerchen - May. 2nd, 2016 06:24 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 1st, 2016 11:11 pm (UTC)
Speaking as one of last year's winners, I was similarly disappointed and for the same reasons, although also similarly I respect the logic. This year I was happy to recognise Black Gate as a nominee on its own merits and I think a lot of other people did too (how many, we don't know until August ... but I think Black Gate was one of several nominees that came to the attention of the traditional voting population through the 2015 events, and is now in their minds quite legitimately).

My approach to the final ballot this year is very simple; I will not reject anyone purely for being on the slate but will take all nominees that I believe are deserving and consider them on merit. Those who I believe are ONLY on the ballot due to slate voting and are not deserving of the honour, will continue to go below No Award on principle.
May. 1st, 2016 11:31 pm (UTC)
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May. 1st, 2016 11:54 pm (UTC)
Makes sense
I understand both sides of the debate but people are sometimes known by the company they keep. They want to protect their brand. It is a sad decision but a rational one.
May. 2nd, 2016 01:00 am (UTC)
And I was just going to post this news in your other Hugo thread.

The real problem is that the nominees that I'd be happy to see withdraw (like, for example, anything associated with STD) will stay on the ballot.

I don't see that Related Work can be saved this year.
May. 2nd, 2016 01:48 am (UTC)
A chance to see where the rabbid hole goes...
I suppose we'll now get to see whether the Pupz have prepared booby traps in sixth (which is assuming they have way too much control)

I agree that the only way to approach this mess is to vote on nominee merits. I actually tried hard to avoid the No Vote option last year, but the standards I apply will be lifting this year.

Looking ahead, I think it has to be concluded that the system is being effectively 'gamed' by a dominant slate, and a method needs to be developed for reducing the power of slate votes in the nomination phase (which I take to be ones with an identical voting pattern... maybe 5 of 6? One thought to join the doubtless many already expressed: reduce the voting power of any identified slate whose number exceeds a certain percentage of the total.)
NB: I'm not talking about the voting phase which, as far I can tell, seems OK.
May. 2nd, 2016 04:08 am (UTC)
There were two such proposals given first passage last year that are up for ratification this year. Changes to the Hugo Award rules must pass at two consecutive Worldcons' WSFS Business Meetings, to prevent changes of a highly emotional or local nature from overwhelming the process. So if either or both of them pass, we'll see next year if they have any effect.

The World Science Fiction Society is run by its own members, not by a President or a Board of Directors. Changes are slow, because it takes time to get a bunch of people to agree to any changes. There is no Strong Man who Gives Orders. That's very dissatisfying to people who want Direct Action Now. And unfortunately, since our rules have generally assumed that all members act in good faith, they are subject to being exploited by people who do act in bad faith.
(no subject) - arfisk - May. 3rd, 2016 12:39 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 2nd, 2016 02:31 am (UTC)
Watch tonight's episode of GoT!!! It just made my entire week better so I'm sure it'll have to cheer you up.
May. 2nd, 2016 02:39 am (UTC)
Coudn't win?
> I will quibble, however, about one of their assertions: that even if BLACK GATE
> had elected to remain on the ballot, they had no chance of winning.


You could be right. I think the folks who are paying close attention might've given Black Gate a fair shot... though I believe that the Rabid Puppy brand is so powerfully toxic that it'd take a TON of good will to overcome it.

Frankly, I doubt we have anything like that kind of good will. File 770 might. We'll see.

Was it tempting to stay in and find out? Of course! But the cost of that was keeping the sixth place nominee off the ballot. Once I realized that, it seemed pretty clear what the right thing to do was.

Anyway, thanks for the kind words.

John O'Neill
Black Gate
May. 2nd, 2016 02:47 am (UTC)
Re: Coudn't win?
You're welcome.

Good luck to you with the fanzine. I hope that one of these years you get the chance to compete for a rocket against four other worthy nominees in a fair contest. Y'know, the way it used to be...
Re: Coudn't win? - the_corbie - May. 2nd, 2016 08:20 am (UTC) - Expand
Frank Probst
May. 2nd, 2016 02:47 am (UTC)
Black Gate, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King
I was fairly certain that they were going to stay in this year and am disappointed to see them decline, but I agree with your analysis. And now either File770 or the newcomer will probably win. My money's on the newcomer.

Short Story will probably go to whoever replaces Thomas Mays.

Short Form Dramatic Presentation will probably go to Jessica Jones over Dr Who, and the rest of the noms (all RP picks) will probably come in way behind.

I still think there may be more withdrawals. Neil Gaiman tweeted that he wished he'd have known he was on the RP list when he accepted the nomination. I suspect he's considering withdrawing, but that nom went to two people, so they're probably talking it through.

And that leaves The Big Dog: Stephen King. He may not have been aware of the puppy shenanigans before, but he's bound to learn about them soon. He may not get involved in all of this, but if he does, it's a game changer, and I would LOVE to see Stephen King versus Theodore Beale.
May. 2nd, 2016 02:52 am (UTC)
Re: Black Gate, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King
King's "Obits" just won the Edgar Award. It's a strong story, and a worthy contender. But I can't imagine Steve getting involved in this stuff. Which may work against him. The Rabids won't actually vote for him, any more than they will for Gaiman or Stephenson, and there will be some Nuclear Option voters who will rank "Obits" below No Award because Guilt By Association.

(no subject) - theweaselking - May. 2nd, 2016 03:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - grrm - May. 2nd, 2016 10:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - theweaselking - May. 2nd, 2016 11:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - theweaselking - May. 2nd, 2016 03:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - grrm - May. 2nd, 2016 09:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - theweaselking - May. 2nd, 2016 10:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
Glenn Hauman
May. 2nd, 2016 06:46 am (UTC)
Honorable concessions and withdrawal from the field
George, I have to disagree with your urging hostages to stand their ground. While I've written about it in some depth at ComicMix (http://www.comicmix.com/2016/04/28/glenn-hauman-neil-gaiman-does-not-need-a-pity-hugo-award/), it occurs to me that with you, I can make my argument using extremely familiar metaphors-- to wit, "Game Of Thrones" and football.

Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the 1940 college football game between Cornell and Dartmouth. Cornell came into the game with 18 straight victories over two years, while Dartmouth was 3-4 that season.. Dartmouth led 3-0 with less than a minute to play. A referee made a mistake on the field and ended up giving Cornell a fifth down instead of turning it over to Dartmouth. Cornell scored a touchdown on the fifth down and won, 7-3. The mistake wasn't discovered until after the game was in the books and officials viewed the films.

The president of Cornell sent an offer to Dartmouth offering to forfeit the game, if they would accept it. Dartmouth did. Because that was the honorable thing to do. To claim a tainted victory would be unsportsmanlike.

(Note that fifty years later, a similar last-minute fifth down happened between the Colorado Buffaloes and the Missouri Tigers, which has cast doubt on Colorado's claim to Division I-A's 1990 national championship ever since.)

As for the second metaphor: "Game Of Thrones" was Emmy nominated for Best Dramatic Series in 2012, but lost to "Homeland". Would you think it fair that GOT won if a slate had put GOT on and kept "Homeland" and "Breaking Bad" off the final ballot? After all, "Game Of Thrones" was good enough to get nominated anyway, so it's no big deal if it would have won against a weakened field, right?
May. 2nd, 2016 10:31 pm (UTC)
Re: Honorable concessions and withdrawal from the field
I think it is insulting and borderline offensive to talk about Neil Gaiman and Lois McMaster Bujold and Neal Stephenson winning "pity Hugos." I do understand the point you're making, but you don't need to couch it in such terms.

As to the issue... no, the situation this year is far from ideal. As I said at last year's Hugo Losers Party, the scenarios the Pups have created make losers of everyone, even the winners. I know many of the hostages, and I know none of them wanted to be slated, and all, I am sure, would rather be competing against legitimate nominees, the best the year had to offer.

That's not possible, however. We have a bad situation here, and we need to make the best of it. Your solution, having Neil and Neal and Lois and the rest withdraw, makes the bad situation much much worse, from where I sit. It hands VD a total victory.

My own priorities? I think that in all cases the Hugo should go to a work worthy of the Hugo. Something very good at minimum, and preferably great. Something that will not make fans of the future do a double-take when they see it on the list of winners. Neil Gaiman and Sandman? Great stuff. Certainly worthy.

(And you keep talking about how Neil does not 'need' a Hugo, and ignoring his partner on this, the artist. Neil may have a shelf of Hugo awards, but the artist doesn't. This would be his first, and may be the only shot he'll ever have at one. Also, if you going to argue that someone who has won Hugos in the past does not need any more, you should be consistent and extend the principle to all the other perennial winners. Mike Glyer does not 'need' another Hugo either. Connie Willis does not need any more. Dave Langford probably did not need that tenth Hugo of his, and certainly not the fifteenth. Etc Etc Sometimes a writer or artist does indeed decide to retire or decline a nomination -- Neil himself has done that, just a few years back -- but most are always glad to add one more to the mantle. I can't blame them. That's only human.)

As for your second metaphor... hoo hah, you really know nothing about the Emmy Awards, do you? It's ALL 'slates' and campaigning. has been for decades. HBO promotes and campaigns for its shows, sends out screeners, takes out ads. Starz does the same for its slates, ditto Showtime, CBS, Fox, NBC, ABC, A&E, the History Channel, everybody. All campaigns, all the time. You don't promote, you don't compete, you don't get nominated. In the end, though, the campaigns cancel each other out and the best stuff rises to the top anyway... usually.

May. 3rd, 2016 05:30 am (UTC)
re: hugos
I thought that the worst category was the Related Works section. The stories there are horrible, especially when there was a great book by Ms. Day You are never Weird on the Internet that should be there.
May. 3rd, 2016 07:49 pm (UTC)
Re: hugos
The Felicia Day book certainly deserved a slot, I agree. I also thought the WHEEL OF TIME concordance would have been a very worthy nominee, and a fine way to honor both Robert Jordan and Harriet McDougal. A shame they got puppied out.


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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