2018 Worldcon Site Selection Voting Opens

MidAmeriCon II has unveiled its Site Selection Voting page for the 2018 Worldcon and 2017 NASFiC. However, all you can do today is download a ballot and mail it in with a check. MACII’s token purchase system for buying Advance Supporting Memberships by credit card comes online June 1.

On the page is the documentation each bid was required to submit about its facilities and committee when it filed to appear on the ballot.

Rival groups are bidding to host the 2018 Worldcon in New Orleans and San Jose. Click to download the 2018 Worldcon Mail-In Ballot.

Bidders for San Juan, PR and Valley Forge, PA are vying to host the 2017 North American Science Fiction Convention. (NASFiC is held when the Worldcon for the year is outside North America). Here’s the link for the 2017 NASFiC Mail-in Ballot.

The deadline for receipt of mail-in ballots is Saturday, August 6. Site selection votes also can be cast at MidAmeriCon II until 6 p.m. CDT on Friday, August 19, 2016.

In order to vote in Site Selection, you must be an Attending or Supporting Member in MidAmeriCon II and pay the Advanced Supporting Membership fee for each election. This process also makes you a Supporting Member of the winning bid’s convention. Ballots and information about voting and paying the Advanced Supporting Membership fee will be distributed in a future progress report and will be available online.

MACII explained in a statement why electronic voting is unavailable, although it is an option under the rules:

While the WSFS Constitution now allows electronic Site Selection balloting, it also requires that the current Worldcon Committee and all bidding committees agree that electronic balloting will be allowed. The MidAmeriCon committee believes that there are several technical issues associated with electronic balloting which have not yet been solved, and therefore MidAmeriCon II is opting out of electronic Site Selection voting in 2016. The Site Selection Administrator and staff will, per the Constitution, be accepting only paper ballots either completed on site, mailed, or hand delivered, and will not accept ballots via any electronic means.

Castalia Blog Posts Excluded from Hugo Packet

Daniel Enness announced he has been informed by MidAmeriCon II that “Safe Space as Rape Room,” his Hugo-nominated series of posts on the Castalia House Blog, will not be part of the Hugo Voter Packet:

Worldcon Members who are looking forward to the forthcoming Hugo Voter Packet – which traditionally contains as many of the works nominated for a Hugo Award as possible so that all voters can review the nominees in a unified set of documents – will notice a special warning from MidAmeriCon II in this year’s edition of the Packet:

As the World Science Fiction Convention, MidAmeriCon II has members from 35 countries. Safe Space as Rape Room quotes extensively from a written work containing explicit descriptions of children engaged in sexual activities. This material may be illegal in some home countries of  members. MidAmeriCon II does not wish to put any member at risk of inadvertently violating the law in their country of residence by downloading it in the packet without intent. As such, under legal advice, we are not  hosting or distributing this material directly. However, Safe Space as Rape Room is freely available on the Internet and can be found by anyone at….

The series of posts is nominated in the Best Related Works category.

MidAmeriCon II Membership Offer

Over Memorial Day Weekend Only, the 2016 Worldcon will be offering a special Weekend (Fri-Sun) Pass* for $150 (*Weekend passes do not include Hugo Award or Site Selection Voting rights.)

Or for just $50 more you can purchase a Full Attending Membership (Wed-Sun) which gives you two more days of programming and events, ability to attend the Retro Hugo Swing Dance plus voting rights for the Hugo Awards and the option to vote in Site Selection.

This offer will be available online (and in person at ConQuesT and Balticon) Friday, May 27 through Monday, May 30.

They’d Rather Free Ride: Hugos and Game Theory (Proposal Discussion Thread 4)

By Jameson Quinn

1. Intro and disclaimers

This is a summary of the discussion thread on the post by Kevin Standlee discussing three proposals for expanding the Hugo nominations process in order to help avoid problems like the current list of Hugo finalists.

In summarizing a thread that’s over 500 comments long, and that refers extensively to two other threads with hundreds of comments, I am of course going to simplify matters. In particular, I’m going to overemphasize the points of agreement, without listing every qualification, caveat, quibble, or outright objection that was brought up. Obviously you can read the thread yourself, but if you don’t, please imagine it to have all the disagreement and misunderstandings (as well as off-topic filk, execrable puns, cute references, hastily-constructed codes, etc.) that you’d expect.

2. Initial options: A+2, DN, and 3SV

Of the three initial proposals by Kevin, one of them (nicknamed “+2” or “A+2”) relied on giving new discretionary powers to Hugo administrators. In the discussion thread this idea encountered significant opposition, so it will not be discussed further here.
The other two proposals would both create a new intermediate round of voting, in which the initial votes have been used to create a “longlist” of 15 works which is publicized and voted on in some fashion in order to get the list of 5 finalists. In the Double Nomination with Approval Voting (“DN”) proposal, nominators would vote for (“approve”) the longlist items they liked the best; and in the 3-Stage Voting (“3SV”) proposal, a majority of nominators would be able to disqualify some of the 15 works, without affecting the ordering of the remaining works from the nominations phase.

3. Consensus: 3SV (+1?)

Many of the participants in the discussion began with a preference for DN; they felt better about voting for the longlist works they liked than about voting to reject the ones they felt were illegitimate. However, as the thread progressed, and the strengths and weaknesses of the two proposals were analyzed in more depth, the consensus shifted, and by the end of the thread proposals based primarily on 3SV were the clear winners. Many supported a proposal nicknamed 3SV+1, described below, which integrated some aspects of DN onto the base of 3SV.

4. Why 3SV and not DN?

Why did people’s preferences shift from DN to 3SV? Several reasons:

A. Under DN, voters would have just weeks to assimilate and vote on a list of 255 longlisted items. Many of the most careful nominators would barely vote for any; while the most prolific voters would probably be going mostly by kneejerk reactions. This is true for 3SV, too, but it is less of an issue as explained below.

B. DN conflates two questions: “Do I like this work and feel it may deserve a Hugo?” with “Do I feel that this work’s presence on the longlist or in the list of finalists would be a legitimate result of honest fan preference?” In 3SV, those questions are separate, and votes to disqualify a work are based on the second question alone — one which does not require fully reading/reviewing every longlist work.

C. Unlike DN, 3SV would deal decisively with the issue of “troll finalists”: that is, works promoted by slates explicitly in order that their shocking and/or offensive nature might cast discredit on the awards.

D. 3SV would be similar in spirit to the “no award” option, except that works thus eliminated would not take up space on the list of finalists, and awkward moments at the awards themselves would be minimized.

E. DN would open up new kinds of attacks on the list of finalists, such as actually increasing slate voter’s capacity to act as “kingmakers” and/or perform “area defense” against certain kinds of works. All they’d have to do was to have enough voting power to reverse the gap between two works which both have significant organic (non-slate) support. But under 3SV, actually eliminating a work would not be possible without a relatively high “quorum”* of voters, and we hope that community pressure would lead to a low background level of organic rejection votes, so a minority of slate voters would be unable to use rejection as a weapon.

So, tell me more about how 3SV would work

The details are still up for discussion, but the basic idea is as follows:

3-Stage Voting (3SV) adds a new round of voting to the Hugo Award process, called “semi-finals,” between the existing nominating ballot and the existing final ballot. In 3SV, the “longlist” of top 15 nominees (as selected by the same process as the finalists will be selected; that is, EPH or EPH+ if those have passed) are listed in a way that doesn’t show how many nominations they received. Eligibility for this voting is being debated (see below), but the original proposal is that it would be restricted to members (supporting and attending) of the current Worldcon (not the previous and following Worldcons). Eligible voters presented with this list, with a question on each of the fifteen semi-finalists in each category: “Is this work worthy of being on the Final Hugo Award Ballot?” with the choices being YES, NO, and ABSTAIN.

If a work gets more than a “quorum” of no votes, it is not eligible to become a finalist. There are several proposals for how to calculate the quorum. The formula may involve such things as the number of eligible voters, the number of “YES” and/or “ABSTAIN” votes, the turnout in round 1 or in previous years, etc. The idea is that the quorum should be high enough so that a minority of slate voters will be unable to reach it, but low enough that a clear majority of fans can pass it, even given reasonable turnout assumptions.

During the “semi-final” voting period, admins would also be checking the eligibility of the works on the longlist, and accepting withdrawals from the author (or other responsible party; henceforth, we’ll just say “author”) of those works. The admins would make a good-faith attempt to contact authors, but note that since the longlist is public, the admins may assume that non-responsive authors have heard of their presence on the longlist, and thus that any authors who do not explicitly withdraw their works would accept becoming finalists.

The finalists will be the top 5 works from the longlist that have not been declared ineligible by vote, found ineligible by the admins, or withdrawn by the authors. EPH or EPH+ would not be re-run after ineligible works or withdrawals.

After the Hugos are awarded, admins would publish the usual statistics (that is, for EPH, the votes and points-when-eliminated for each of the members of the longlist). They would also publish the reason for ineligiblity (voted out, ineligible, or withdrawn) for any work that otherwise would have been a finalist. They would also publish the anonymized set of vote totals for each longlist item in each category, where “anonymized” means that they would not indicate which title was associated with which vote total.

What’s this “3SV+1” you mentioned earlier?

The “+1” means that, in addition to 3SV, all voters who were eligible for round 1 may add a single nomination per category, for something from the longlist they did not already nominate, to their existing ballot, during the same “semi-final” voting period. These combined ballots would then be counted by the usual process (that is, the current system, EPH, or EPH+) to find the finalists.

How would all of this interact with EPH, EPH+, 4/6, and/or 5/6?

The short version is that without EPH a realistically-sized, well managed slate could hope to entirely take over the longlist in many categories; with EPH, it could take about 2/3 (around 10 slots); and with EPH+, it could take over about half (6-8 slots), or possibly a bit more with cleverer strategies (but not as much as EPH, even then). 4/6 or 5/6 don’t change that story by much, though they help a bit in keeping organic slots among the finalists in spite of “kingmaker” slates. And +1 helps push slates towards around 1-2 finalist slots; hurting them in the common case that they had been going to get more, but actually helping them if they had miscalculated and were heading for less than that.

Here’s a graph of how many slots slate nominators could have gotten in 2014, as a function of number of slate nominators, if they’d split 3 ways and had the same level of coordination as they did in 2015. Note that 2016 had many more nominators than 2014 so it would have taken more slate nominators to get the same effect.

pseudographSL5%20and%2015

 

Here’s a similar graph, but assuming the slate nominators are better coordinated:

pseudographSLp5%20and%2015

 

Here’s yet another graph, but assuming the slate voters split only 2 ways. In theory, this is better for them if there are fewer of them, but worse if there are more, because they max out at 10 slots. However, as you can see from the graph, it’s really not that much better even for small numbers; the random “bootstrap sampling” effects almost overwhelm any advantage:

pseudographSLx5%20and%2015

 

Have you thought of any downsides? What about…

Yes, kinda. We have people (both honest supporters and honest opponents) thinking of attacks. And there’s always room for more on this “red team”. So far, here are the criticisms we’ve come up with. First, for “3SV” (we’ll talk about “+1” below):

Couldn’t slate voters take over the shortlist? As you can see in the graphs “take over 6-10 slots of the longlist” is the only one that we think is a concern if (as we expect) EPH or EPH+ is in place.

Wouldn’t this just increase negativity? There are several safeguards against this becoming merely an excuse for people to campaign against works they happen not to like. First and most important is social pressure; it should be clear from the outset that this is a just safeguard against outright bad faith, not a chance to express differences in taste, and I believe that any Worldcon members who promote disqualifying a work just because they don’t like it will not get much support. Second, there’s eligibility. Various rules, discussed below in “open issues”, have been proposed to prevent a campaign to bring in Worldcon outsiders after the longlist is public. Third, there’s the quorum; if participation in the second-round voting is low, it will not be enough to pass the threshold to eliminate any work. Fourth, there’s the relatively short period of the semifinals, also discussed below. And fifth, there’s the fact that elimination votes for a specific work would never be publicized; only anonymized distributions of votes for each category. (In some cases, of course, the identity of which work got a certain vote total would be easy to guess, but that would still be just a guess.)

Wouldn’t this fundamentally change the nature of the Hugos? They have already been changed by the slate. Many of the people in the discussion felt that this change, though it would not go back to exactly as before, would still be a change in the right direction.

Would this be more work for the administrators? In some ways, yes, of course. However, in at least one important way, it would actually simplify their lives. Since the longlist would be public, it would be much easier for them to contact authors. On a related note, authors could not leak their status as finalists, because until the list of finalists came out, they would know no more than the public at large.

Would this allow some unanticipated downside? Obviously, we can never rule that out 100%. However, we do think we’ve been pretty thorough at exploring all the angles. Again, you can read the thread and decide for yourself.

And, downsides for the +1 addition:

Would this be tough to administrate? Not if EPH or EPH+ were in place, since any program capable of doing either of these would already be able to associate multiple nominations with the same nominator and make sure that invalid votes, such as a single nominator nominating a given work multiple times, were not counted. It has been suggested that a proposal to institute +1 should say that this change will sunset (require re-approval) if EPH or EPH+ ever does.

What are the open questions/issues?

Eligibility: who should be eligible to vote on the semifinal round, and who should be able to add +1? The former question is more fraught. Several people said that they would want eligibility to be restricted enough that outsiders can’t come in and get memberships after the longlist is published. Others said that it is important to let the community respond and that if membership spikes on seeing the longlist that could be a healthy thing. One compromise proposal (suggested by yours truly) was that in order to be eligible, you would need to be a current member (attending or supporting) of this year’s Worldcon, AND also have been eligible to nominate (whether or not you actually did so). So if you were a member of the prior or following year’s worldcon, you could sign up after seeing the longlist; but not if you weren’t.
Quorum size/formula: There’s been various discussion of this issue.

+1 as attached or separate: The overall consensus seems to be that, if we propose +1, it should be in a separate proposal from 3SV, even though they share certain aspects (such as the concept of a semi-final round). However, there are varying opinions on whether +1 is a good idea, either in general or as a proposal for this year in particular.

Whether to try EPH+ this year: I’ll talk about this more in comments.

The admin discretion 14-18 longlist thing: I was thinking that, if the time between closing round 1 nominations and announcing the longlist is short, admins might have a hard time cleaning the data perfectly. In that case, it helps them be more certain of the list they publish if the next work below the list was not a near-tie with the lowest work on the list. To allow them to avoid such near-ties, especially in cases where they aren’t 100% sure they’ve cleaned the data perfectly, I suggested allowing them discretion to decide how long the longlist for each category would be, between 14 and 18 works.

http://file770.com/?p=29020&cpage=14#comment-436327: Define “nominating membership” in a way that legally allows for the possibility of a code of conduct that could lead to one year’s worldcon revoking voting privileges from a member of the prior year’s; in other words, closes the loophole whereby prior-year members are immune from any consequences for their actions.

Moderated Shortlist for Member Consideration: http://file770.com/?p=29020&cpage=16#comment-436437 This is an alternative to 3SV, where an administrative committee would tentatively suggest eliminating or adding certain works, and that suggestion would have to be ratified by an up-or-down vote of the members of the current Worldcon.

Where do we go from here?

A group led by Colin Harris that includes Kevin Standlee is writing up a proposal are writing up a proposal and are surely watching these threads. When that proposal is ready, we could write up +1 as an amendment or as a standalone proposal. Decide about EPH+ and deal with that. Anything else?

Analyzing EPH

By Bruce Schneier: Jameson Quinn and I analyzed the E Pluribus Hugo (EPH) voting system, proposed as a replacement for the current Approval Voting system for the Hugo nominations ballot. (This is an academic paper; the Hugo administrators will be publishing their own analysis, more targeted to the WSFS Business Meeting, in the coming weeks.) We analyzed EPH with both actual and simulated voting data, and this is what we found.

If EPH had been used last year in the 2015 Hugo nominations process, then…

The number of slate nominees would have been reduced by 1 in 6 categories, and by 2  in 2 categories, leaving no category without at least one non-slate nominee.

That doesn’t seem like very much. A reasonable question to ask is why doesn’t it reduce the number more. The answer is simply that the slate was powerful last year.

The data demonstrates the power of the Puppies. The category Best Novelette provides a good example. This category had 1044 voters, distributed over 149 different works with 3 or more votes. Of these voters, around 300 (29%) voted for more Puppy-slate works than non-Puppy ones, and about half of those (14%) voted for only Puppy-slate works. These numbers are also roughly typical. The other 71% of the ballots included under 3% with votes for any Puppy work (this is relatively low, but not anomalously so, compared to other categories).

Despite being a majority, the non-Puppy voters spread their votes more thinly; only 24% of them voted for any of the top 5 non-Puppy works. This meant that 4 of the 5 nominees would have been from the Puppy slate under SDV-LPE or SDV.

(SDV-LPE stands for “Single Divisible Vote – Least Popular Elimination,” the academic name for this voting system. SDV is “Single Divisible Vote,” a long-standing and well-understood voting system.)

To further explore this, we took the actual 2014 Hugo nominations data from Loncon 3 and created a fake slate, then analyzed how it affected the outcome at different percentages of the vote totals:

In Figure 1, we assume perfectly correlated bloc voters. They vote in lockstep (with minimal exceptions to prevent ties), and their five nominations are completely disjoint from the other nominations. As you can see, both SDV-LPE and SDV reduce the power of the bloc voters considerably. Under AV, the voting bloc reliably nominates 3 candidates when they make up 10.5% of the voters, 4 candidates when they make up 12.5%, and 5 when they make up 19%. Under SDV-LPE, they need to be 26% of voters to reliably nominate 3 candidates, 36.5% to reliably nominate 4, and 54% to reliably nominate 5….

Figure 2 simulates a more realistic voting bloc. We sample the actual behavior of the bloc voters in the 2015 Hugo nominations election, and add them to the actual 2014 nominations data. For the purposes of this simulation, we define bloc voters as people who voted for more Puppy candidates than non-Puppy candidates. In this case, the actual bloc voters did not vote in lockstep: some voted for a few members of the slate, and some combined slate nominations with non-slate nominations. For the purposes of the simulation, when they voted for the nth most popular non-Puppy candidate in 2015, we imputed that into a vote for the nth most popular non-Puppy candidate in 2014. In this case, SDV-LPE and SDV reduce the power of those voting blocs even further. Under AV, the voting bloc reliably nominates 3 candidates with 14% of the voters, 4 candidates with 17% of the voters, and 5 with 39%. Under SDV-LPE, they need to make up 27.5% to nominate 3 candidates, 38% to nominate 4, and 69.5% to nominate 5….

The upshot of all this is that EPH cannot save the Hugos from slate voting. It reduces the power of slates by about one candidate. To reduce the power of slates further, it needs to be augmented with increased voting by non-slate voters.

There is one further change in the voting system that we could make, and we discuss it in the paper. This is a modification of EPH, but would — for the slate percentages we’ve been seeing — reduce their power by about one additional candidate. So if a slate would get 5 candidates under the current system and 4 under SDV-LPE (aka EPH), it would get 3 under what we’ve called SDV-LPE-SL. Yes, we know it’s another change that would require another vote and another year to ratify. Yes, we know we should have proposed this last year. But we had to work with the actual data before optimizing that particular parameter.

Basically, we use a system of weighing divisible votes named after the French mathematician André Sainte-Laguë, who introduced it in France in 1910. In EPH, your single vote is divided among the surviving nominees. So if you have two nominees who have not yet been eliminated, each gets half of your vote. If three of your nominees have not yet been eliminated, each gets 1/3 of your vote. And so on. The Sainte-Laguë system has larger divisors. If you have two nominees who have not yet been eliminated, each gets 1/3 of your vote. If three of your nominees have not yet been eliminated, each gets 1/5 of your vote. Each of four get 1/7; each of five get 1/9. This may sound arbitrary, but there’s well over a hundred years of voting theory supporting these weights and the results are still proportional.

Implementing SDV-LPE-SL using the actual 2015 Hugo data:

SDV-LPE-SL comes even closer to giving slate voters a proportional share, with 7 fewer slate nominees overall, and only 1 category without a choice between at least 2 non-slate nominees.

For the perfectly correlated voting bloc simulation:

Under SDV-LPE, they need to be 26% of voters to reliably nominate 3 candidates, 36.5% to reliably nominate 4, and 54% to reliably nominate 5. Under SDV-LPE-SL, they need to be 35% for 3, 49% for 4, and 66% for 5.

And for the more realistic voting bloc simulation:

Under SDV-LPE-SL, they need 36% for 3, 49% for 4, and over 70% for 5.

That’s a big difference.

Here’s our paper. It’s academic, so it refers to the voting system by its academic name. It spends a lot of time discussing the motivation behind the new voting system, and puts it in context with other voting systems. Then it describes and analyzes both SDV-LPE and SDV-LPE-SL.

2016 Hugo Award Voting Begins

Members of MidAmeriCon II can now cast their votes for the 2016 Hugo Awards and 1941 Retro Hugo Awards. Online voting and mail-in ballots are each available. The deadline to vote is Midnight PST, July 31, 2016.

The administrators also announced that the Hugo Voters Packet for 2015 works will be available Monday, May 23, with the Retro packet to follow soon after. These downloads are supplied free of charge by nominees to allow voters to make an informed choice.

MidAmeriCon II Posts Weapons Policy

The 2016 Worldcon, MidAmeriCon II, today posted its weapons policy on the convention website.

Convention weapons policies commonly are of most interest to cosplayers, however, the news stories about open carry and comments on a few sf blogs have combined to raise questions whether real weapons could be worn by members within the convention spaces. The answer is: no.

Weapons Policy

  1. No real or dangerous weapon, or any item that can be mistaken for one, may be carried at any time in the Kansas City Convention Center or within other hotel areas under the control of MidAmeriCon II. A “dangerous weapon” is defined as “any weapon that is readily capable of lethal use.”
  2. The Convention Center will have a security station in the main lobby to inspect prop weapons for compliance with the center’s policy. A prop weapon that is realistic in appearance must be inspected and tagged by the Convention Center’s inspection check station in the main lobby. Any prop weapon that is carried in the Convention Center must be submitted for inspection; any person carrying a prop weapon that has not been inspected will be directed to the lobby or asked to remove the prop weapon from the center.
  3. All realistic weapons must be brought to Convention Headquarters (ConHQ) located in the exhibit hall (there will be signs) to be peace-bonded. If you are unsure whether your weapon might be considered realistic, you must present it to ConHQ, which is the final arbiter of which weapons require peace-bonding.
  4. No functional projectile weapons, props, or toys are permitted anywhere in the Convention Center or other MidAmeriCon II convention space, regardless of whether they are peace bonded.
  5. Any prop or realistic weapon purchased in the Dealers’ Room, or any item purchased that could be mistaken for one, must be wrapped and immediately transported out of the Convention Center, and may not be carried in the center unless it is first inspected as specified in items 2 and 3.
  6. If you are competing in the Masquerade and you have concerns about whether a prop or realistic weapon that you intend to use as part of your presentation will be permitted into the Convention Center, you must contact the Masquerade director as early as possible.
  7. Any person who displays or brandishes a prop, real, or realistic weapon, or any item that can be mistaken for one, in a threatening or harmful manner may have their MidAmeriCon II membership revoked without refund, be expelled from the Convention Center, and could be subject to arrest.

MidAmeriCon II believes that if you follow the above rules, you should not have a problem with the Convention Center policy. However, if you are told that your weapon is not allowed, by the Convention Center or MidAmeriCon II staff, you will need to immediately return it to your hotel room or car.

Any item which is prohibited by governing law is prohibited under this policy.

[Thanks to Jared Dashoff for the story.]

Classics of Science Fiction

By John Hertz: We’ll discuss two Classics of SF at MidAmeriCon II, one discussion each. You’ll be welcome to join in.

I’m still with “A classic is an artwork that survives its time. After the currents which might hold it high have changed, it remains, and is seen to be worthwhile in itself.”  If you have a better definition, bring it.

Each of these stories is well known, each in a different way. Each may be more interesting now than when first published.  Have you read them?  Have you re-read them?

Robert A. Heinlein
Between Planets (1951)

The author, from Missouri the show-me State, was masterly at showing us, not telling us. This, one of his “juveniles”, Fantasy & Science Fiction called more mature than some “adult” SF.  When and how does Don Harvey come of age?  Why does the author show him washing dishes for a living — or who and what the dragon “Sir Isaac” really is?  Extra credit: could Isobel Costello be the hero?

Between Planets51449BS4PBL__SL500_

Robert L. Stevenson
“The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” (1886)

Strange? Stevenson said it was strange.  Far outside our field people talk of Jekyll and Hyde.  The Victorian era, and timeless questions of human nature, together weave this tale.  What if a medical researcher like Jekyll could do what he did?  Who or what is Hyde?  The best guide I know is Vladimir Nabokov in his wonderful Lectures on Literature.

DRJKLLNMRH1977

Kritzer, Lady Business Added to Hugo Ballot

MidAmeriCon II has backfilled the vacancies on the 2016 Hugo Awards ballot created by the withdrawal of Thomas A. Mays and Black Gate.

The official announcement on Facebook reads:

Thomas A. Mays has withdrawn his short story “The Commuter”. It will be replaced on the ballot by the story “Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld, January 2015).

John O’Neill has withdrawn the fanzine Black Gate. It will be replaced on the ballot by Lady Business, edited by Clare, Ira, Jodie, KJ, Renay, and Susan.

Naomi Kritzer’s “Cat Pictures Please” also a 2016 Nebula nominee, can be read at Clarkesworld. Her blog is Will Tell Stories for Food.

Click here to read Lady Business.

Thomas A. Mays Withdraws His Hugo-Nominated Story

After learning during the official announcement that all the nominees in his category came from the Rabid Puppies slate, Thomas A. Mays says he has decided to withdraw his Hugo-nominated short story “The Commuter” from the ballot.

He explained on his blog:

I’ve known for some time that “The Commuter” had made the short list, having been emailed about it by Professor Adams, “The Voice of the Hugos,” on April 10th.  I provided copies of my story for the Hugo Voter’s Packet and accepted the nomination in the forlorn hope I would find my story among a mixed and diverse selection of other stories, stories which came out of fandom as a whole (a whole which includes Puppies . . . ) rather than from any single group’s agenda or manipulation of process.  I knew that it was unlikely, given that my little-known story was only up for the award due to its inclusion on Vox Day’s Rabid Puppies slate, but I had hope.

To be clear, Vox Day and I have worked together before, but I did not request or engineer my appearance on his slate.  I’m very proud of my story “Within This Horizon”, that I contributed to the first Riding the Red Horse anthology, which allowed me to be in the same volume as friends and acquaintances Chris Kennedy, Christopher Nuttall, Ken Burnside, and one of my literary heroes, Jerry Pournelle.  I have been interviewed for Castalia House.  However, Vox and I disagree on many political and social points and I am neither a Rabid Puppy nor a member of his Dread Ilk.  My stories have no real ideological bent right or left.  And while I cannot dispute the experiences of others which brought the Sad and Rabid Puppy movements into existence, I did not approve of the straight-slate bloc voting that so damaged fandom last year.  I was very encouraged when Sad Puppies 4 answered the criticisms that had been levied against SP3.

… I did not ask to be part of any list, but I hoped at the very least that it might bring other eyes to “The Commuter”, readers that might appreciate it for what it was and perhaps honor me with an uncontroversial nomination (or at least a few Kindle purchases).  But, now that all hopes for a clean nomination are dashed, it is my turn to speak:

Rather than eat a shit sandwich, I choose to get up from the table.  

Thank you to all the people who actually read my story, enjoyed it, and nominated it for the Hugo.  I will forever be in your debt.