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10 Hugo Thoughts

The 2015 Hugo nominees were announced yesterday. As much of the internet has noted, the vast majority of the nominees come from the Sad and/or Rabid Puppies slates. Most reactions seem to fall into either anger/grief or gloating/triumph, with very little in between. Personally, I’m happy about a few of the nominees, intrigued by a couple, and rolling my eyes at others.

Some thoughts before I get back to writing…

1. The puppies broke the rules! Well, no. Putting forth an organized slate, recruiting GamerGaters and others who buy into the “War Against the SJWs, for FREEDOM!” nonsense is perfectly legal. Tacky and at times dishonest? Sure. But not against the rules.

2. The puppies are only doing what the Other Side did first! Some folks blame John Scalzi for starting this, but try as I might, I can’t find anything about his Bacon Kittens campaign to take the Hugos back from…I don’t even know. I’ve seen references to SJW conspiracies and secret meetings in smoke-filled rooms, again with no evidence whatsoever. Some people try to point to voting numbers as “proof” of organized campaigns, which…just no. (Kevin Standlee dismantles this one in the follow-up comment.) As far as I can tell, there’s a widespread assumption that the “other side” was somehow organizing secret campaigns and block-voting, and that assumption is being used to justify the puppies organizing a campaign and block-voting.

3. They’re destroying the genre! Whatever “they” you’re thinking of, I don’t buy it. The genre is so much bigger than the Hugos, Worldcon, GamerGate, and the rest. The majority of SF/F fans have only the vaguest awareness of what the Hugo is, let alone the in-fighting and politics and such. Don’t worry, the genre will be just fine.

4. They’re destroying the Hugos! There were claims that the Hugos could be gamed and manipulated, and I think the puppies have effectively proven that’s true, at least for the short list. Does this mean the Hugos are broken? Not necessarily. Does it mean the rules should be changed to make it more difficult to game the system? I don’t really have an opinion on that yet, though I’m sure there will be plenty of discussion in the near future…

5. People should read the works and judge based on quality/People should rank all puppy-related works below No Award. My thinking is that people should read and vote however they want to. If you prefer to read everything, go for it. But I’m not going to tell someone they should force themselves to read the work of someone who publicly denounces a prominent black author as an “ignorant half-savage,” or an author who refers to bisexuality as “sexual aberration.” And if organizing a slate is within the rules, so is choosing to put every item on that slate below No Award on the final ballot.

6. They’re just trying to expand the ballot and make it more inclusive/representative/diverse. I can see a little of that, if I squint. The puppies pushed to get a successful self-published author onto the ballot, for example. They talked about getting tie-in works nominated, but didn’t actually include any on their slate. They did give tie-in author Kevin J. Anderson his first Hugo nom for one of his original books. But if your campaign ends up putting the same author on the ballot in six different spots, then no, you weren’t looking very broadly for nominees. And far more of the comments and rhetoric seemed to be about sticking it to SJWs…

7. The people who asked to be removed from the puppy ballots did so out of fear of SJW attacks. That certainly plays well into the wag-the-dog-style “War Against the SJWs” rhetoric. If you’re interested in people’s actual reasons, Matthew David Surridge has a long and thoughtful post about why he declined to be on the slate. Dave Creek’s reasons for declining are on File770.

8. What about that one story about the dinosaur? Holy crap, some people are so fixated on the fact that Rachel Swirsky’s If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love got on the Hugo ballot last year. (It did not win.) That one story keeps getting pointed out as proof of everything that’s wrong with the Hugos/liberals/the genre/feminism/society/the universe. The amusing part is when the folks saying they want to tear down the mythical gatekeepers are simultaneously losing their shit because they don’t think a story counts as real SF/F.

9. Conservatives are evil! Liberals are evil! SJWs are narrowminded bigots! Right-wingers are narrowminded bigots! Look, all groups have their share of assholes. I do think the Sad Puppy clique has a disproportionate number of assholes, but sweeping generalizations are just…annoying. Can we not, please?

10. If you don’t vote, you can’t complain. Bullshit. Nobody should be required to cough up a minimum of $40 in order to have an opinion.

And that’s already more time than I wanted to spend on this today. I’m gonna go back to work on Revisionary now. Enjoy what’s left of your weekend, folks!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.



( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 5th, 2015 10:13 pm (UTC)
I'm already weary of the exhortations from Puppies and Puppy-adjacent people that I must read all the things or else not vote, and it's been 27 hours.

Yo. I do not owe someone who considers me subhuman one minute of my time. (I'm bisexual/biromantic demisexual.) I've read his screeds, and if his fiction is as poorly written, I don't need to read it to know it's terrible, pretentious, excruciatingly dull prose.

I fully intend to give No Award a good workout when I can submit my ballot.
Apr. 6th, 2015 02:58 am (UTC)
You might enjoy this fine piece of snark I found elseNet:

Frankly, the "you must read these books before voting against them" thing seems *DEEPLY* creepy to me, like a sleazy bloke in a bar trying it on with a woman who's not interested. "Well, how do you *know* you're not interested until you sleep with me? You might like me!" No, I won't.

Because yes, that is exactly what it sounds like.
Apr. 6th, 2015 03:12 am (UTC)
Yep. I am not in a voting position re: the Hugos, but:

1) In my experience, bigoted worldviews tend to come through in art, so...I'd rather not, thanks.
2) I do not want to give either money or exposure to anyone whose agenda involves denying my friends civil rights and denying me control of my own body.
Apr. 6th, 2015 12:12 pm (UTC)
Wow, that is incredibly apt.

Not to mention, we *have* read some of what they've written - the bigoted, exclusionary, vile stuff they've been pumping out by the truckload in the, ahem, "nonfiction" category. It's certainly possible to see enough of that and think "I don't care if your fiction work is Shakespeare crossed with Asimov*, it won't outweigh this."

*a spiritual ancestor of the "let me sexually harass you for a while, you might like it" crowd, I realize.
Apr. 6th, 2015 12:32 pm (UTC)
Ugh, yes. It's the exact same thing.
Apr. 5th, 2015 10:40 pm (UTC)
Jim, it's my understanding that ranking something below "No Award" still gives it a ranking, so if you're going to, say, vote against Vox Day (and I certainly will be doing that), it would make more sense to put your one-two or one name and then No Award, and leave everyone else off altogether. Is that how it works?
Apr. 5th, 2015 11:43 pm (UTC)
I'm not 100% clear on this. I remembered a post about it last year, and found:


But I would also check the comments starting at:

Apr. 6th, 2015 12:36 am (UTC)
Here is an explanation that doesn't include theweaselking's biases.
Apr. 6th, 2015 12:38 am (UTC)
Thank you.
Apr. 6th, 2015 12:46 am (UTC)
You're quite welcome. (It was about five posts above yours on my f'list this afternoon, so the timing was perfect.)
Apr. 5th, 2015 11:02 pm (UTC)
I read several of the Sad Puppies' choices last year, and they all fell low on my Hugo Ballot. it's not providing incentive to give them a chance, disapproval of both their opinions* and their methods aside.

If, last year, I had found some gems on the list, I'd be more inclined to pick out the authors who aren't openly bigoted and try them. (Or maybe not; I still don't care for agreeing on a slate to monopolize the award.) But when it's pretty clear that I and the Sad Puppies don't share the same tastes in books at all**.

* Fandom is a big tent, but even the biggest tent has no room for the guest who insults half the other people and throws a fit when others get angry or try to ignore them.

** I've even given up on Jim Butcher, mostly because he took the series in a direction I was less interested in. Which is his call, just as it is mine to decide that I'm happy with the series ending at Changes.
Apr. 5th, 2015 11:45 pm (UTC)
Good gods, what a mess.
Apr. 6th, 2015 12:56 am (UTC)
But where do we go to get kitties on the ballot? ;)
Apr. 6th, 2015 01:17 am (UTC)
You must start your own Sad Kitties slate, and organise all your kitty followers to vote for that. Good luck with that, btw. ;p
Apr. 6th, 2015 04:09 am (UTC)
Can't the kitties be happy? #HappyKitties
Apr. 6th, 2015 01:30 am (UTC)
If the old saw is that you don't want to see sausage being made, I suppose I ought to be thrilled to see all the Hugo and/or con politics that goes on behind closed doors. And really, when you consider all of the thousands of SF/F fans around the world that you've only got 1827 people voting at most, you're talking about a subset of a subset of a subset.

That said, I noticed that I had absolutely no idea who most of these people were in the novella, novelette, and short story categories. There were a lot of Analog entries, however, which makes me wonder if there have been any changes at the magazine since Stanley Schmidt retired.

Also, I'd be fine with Rat Queens or Saga winning their category, but my heart is with Ms. Marvel. G. Willow Wilson has done an awesome job with Kamala Khan.
Apr. 6th, 2015 03:04 am (UTC)
FTR, the Sad Puppies slate contained no nominations for Best Fan Artist, and only one for Best Graphic Story (Reduce, Reuse, Reanimate). I couldn't force myself to look at the Rabid Puppies slate.

My issue with the Puppies is not, and has never been, that they want more diversity in Hugo representation (which is their claim). It's that they want less (as shown by their actions).
Apr. 6th, 2015 03:14 am (UTC)

Stripped of the political agenda, a "let's highlight these 'pulpier' works" platform seems pretty cool: I enjoy a good action scene, I would like some epic fantasy that's not Grimdark, and so forth.

But...well, it's the "ethics in game journalism" bullshit again. If that's your actual concern, guys, you're doing a piss-poor job of showing it.
Apr. 7th, 2015 05:47 am (UTC)
File770 put together a list that breaks down of the nominees who was on what (or no) slates: http://file770.com/?p=21708 -- most of the Rabid Puppies that weren't also on Sad Puppies were published by the press of he who wrote the slate.

I think it is worth noting that at least three people/entities from those slates had no clue at all that the slates even existed (Black Gate and Andromeda Spaceways In-flight Magazine, both of which are non-US-based zines (and both excellent), and a writer from Black Gate who declined the fan writer nomination and wrote an essay as to why) and I suspect they were not the only ones caught unawares, particularly in the down-ballot categories.

Edited at 2015-04-07 05:48 am (UTC)
Apr. 6th, 2015 04:25 am (UTC)
Wow, as someone who's an SF/F fan but not very much into awards, this drama is sort of mindboggling to wade through. I'm still not seeing the point of it, hmm. No matter what 'side' you pick, running a slate doesn't exactly seem productive to the cause...it's going to be shutting down worthy people on either 'side', who didn't manage to make it to the slate :|

I'm glad to see such fantastic contenders in the graphic novel section though: most of those I've read and found them to have fantastic art, pacing and plot. Good thing no one bothered to slate that category.
Apr. 6th, 2015 06:09 am (UTC)
i'm in shock
Apr. 6th, 2015 02:06 pm (UTC)
Some authors/editors have spewed enough vitriol for me to avoid them at all costs. Puppies are too evolved for this crowd, more like sad pond scum.
Apr. 6th, 2015 04:29 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the name is unfortunate in some regards: I like puppies, and actual sad puppies make me want to go "aww," hug them, and give them biscuits. That is...not what I want to do with the SPs.
Apr. 7th, 2015 04:14 am (UTC)

I can't afford the price this year *shrugs* I also know people on both sides of rhe issue and haven't read uo on it. I do know at least one person on the slate who I feel really deserves an award though.

Apr. 7th, 2015 07:49 pm (UTC)
I'm concerned that some nominees may get slurred by association. Both the rabid puppies and the sad puppies included Sheila Gilbert, presumably because DAW publishes space opera, but Sheila, as you know, is in no way politically or personally in tune with these people. The list she edits is diverse in terms both of authors and content, and she is personally supportive of diversity. She's also not active at all online and very probably does not know the full context of this.
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )


Jim C. Hines


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