All The Colors of Kibble 4/8

This new roundup about Sad Puppies and Hugos features an artist/novelist who is happy to stay out of it; a lead dog who disbelieves fans will vote No Award; a prestigious bestselling author as familiar with the field’s customs as anyone; a few other opinions; and an idea passed on from an anonymous rules wonk.

James Artimus Owen on Facebook – April 8

A question I’ve gotten from about twelve thousand people: “Hey James, what’s your position on the whole Science Fiction Awards controversy going on?”

My response: “I LOVE Science Fiction Awards! I get one twice a year. It’s called the ‘Royalty Check Award’ and I’m always SO THRILLED to get it! My winning it is not based on political positions, Secret Literary Illuminati, Depressed Basset Hounds, covert bribery, overt campaigning, or who I had dinner with at a convention in Kansas City that one time where we ate the thing. It’s based ENTIRELY on how readers liked my books, and is not based on competing with anyone else’s books. I really like all those other awards, and would love to get one because they’re heavy and I have two stacks of paper on my desk but only one ceramic Buddha to hold them down. I am happy for my friends who are nominated for and win those awards. But for most writers, and especially the new ones, I hope you realize that no effort you put into making your book good enough for the Royalty Check Awards is ever wasted – and if those are the only awards my books ever get I will do as I always do: happily deposit it in the bank and then go have pie. It’s what Shakespeare and Steinbeck would have done.”

Brad R. Torgersen

“Sad Puppies 3: The Judgment of Solomon” – April 8

But I don’t think this will be the case. Oh, no question, “No Award” is going to be featured prominently in any category where Sad Puppies 3 (with the counter-slate Rabid Puppies) occupies all five of the available slots. I won’t be surprised to see “No Award” take third, or perhaps even second, place. But I doubt very much that “No Award” will claim first place in any category. Because there simply aren’t enough fans — even WSFS stalwarts — who are willing to turf an entire category out of spite. There are too many worthy works in all of the categories. Including works not on the SP3 or RP slates. And SF/F fans are like cats: notoriously averse to being herded. Plus, as a few pros have demonstrated, there is plenty or principled logic to support reading and voting for a work or a person on a slate despite disliking the slate itself. Why punish a good writer or editor or artist, simply for being on a list? It’s not like all the people participating in the nomination period dutifully went down the rows, reliably checking all the items without a second glance. Not for SP3, and not for any other suggested lists either — and there were many such lists, though perhaps not quite so extensive as ours.

 

George R.R. Martin in Not A Blog

“Me and the Hugos” – April 8

The prestige of the Hugo does not derive from the number of people voting on it. If numbers were all that counted, worldcon should hand the awards over to Dragoncon and be done with it. (Though I am not sure that Dragoncon would care. Years ago, the LOCUS awards used to be presented at Dragoncon. I attended one of those ceremonies, the last time I went to Dragoncon. Charles Brown handed out the awards in a cavernous hotel ballroom that was ninety per cent empty. The same ballroom was filled up standing room only for the following event, a Betty Page Look-Alike Contest. Which tells you what Dragoncon attendees were interested in. Which tells you what Dragoncon attendees were interested in… and hey, I like Betty Page too. A few years later, LOCUS moved its awards to Westercon, where they always draw a big crowd.

The prestige of the Hugo derives from its history. The worth of any award is determined in large part by the people who have won it. Would I love to win the Hugo for Best Novel some day? You’re damned right I would. But not because I need another rocket to gather dust on my mantle, as handsome as the Hugo trophies are. I want one because Robert A. Heinlein won four, because Roger Zelazny and Alfred Bester and Ursula K. Le Guin and Fritz Leiber and Walter M. Miller Jr and Isaac Asimov and Frederik Pohl and so many other giants have won the same award. That’s a club that any science fiction and fantasy writer should be thrilled to join.

Only… here’s the caveat… I wouldn’t want to join the club because I was part of someone’s slate, or because my readers were better organized or more vocal than the fans of other authors. It is not easy to win a Hugo, and it is especially hard to win the Big One — Hugo voters a tough crowd, one might say — but if that honor ever does come to one of my books, I hope it is because the voters did actually, honestly believe I wrote the best novel of the year, a work worthy to stand on the shelf beside LORD OF LIGHT and THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS and STAND ON ZANZIBAR and THE FOREVER WAR and GATEWAY and SPIN and…

 

George R.R. Martin on Not A Blog

Tone – April 8

I am against punching and kicking. Up, down, or sideways. No punching here, please.

I applaud the Tone Argument. The Tone Argument is valid. Yay for the Tone Argument.

We can disagree with each other without attacking each other. And no, I am not going to listen to you if you’re screaming at me and calling me offensive names. You shouldn’t either, no matter who you are. None of us should have to put up with that shit.

It really pisses me off, reading some of the threads and comments on both sides of Puppygate, that every time someone calls for a more reasoned discourse and an end to all the name-calling, we hear a chorus of, “they started it” and “no, THEY started it” and “they called me X so I will call them Y” and “don’t you dare silence me, I will say anything I like, I’m the one who speaks truth to power.” I don’t care who started it. I just want it to stop.

 

Ryan Britt on Electric Literature

“How Bigots Invaded the Hugo Awards” – April 8

If you’ve heard the rumblings about the Hugo nominations, perhaps you just shrugged your shoulders and said “what’s a Hugo again?” Even if you know that the Hugo Award is one of the two most coveted science fiction and fantasy literary prizes (the other being the Nebula), you still might assume the controversy is a nerdy Alien Vs. Predator situation in which picking a side feels like rooting for an arbitrary monster. But that’s not the case here. What has happened is simple: an angry mob has exploited a loophole in how nominations occur in order to crash a party that they seemingly detest anyway. The gaming of the Hugo Awards Ballot wasn’t executed for frivolous reasons: it was organized by racist, homophobic people who want science fiction to be going backwards instead of looking toward the future.

Was the airlock left open for certain creatures to enter the starship of the Hugo Awards? Yes. On both the Hugo website and the site for the current World Con (SasquanCon) you’ll notice that to become a voting member requires about $40 dollars. Even the Hugo Awards site itself says specifically “voting is easy.” If you have the 40 bucks and you don’t care about not attending the ceremony itself, you can vote. In the past, this hasn’t really resulted in what most would consider overt gaming-of-the-system, but the ability is clearly there.

 

Kameron Hurley

“Thoughts on That Controversial Awards Announcement” – April 5

So do please read the fabulous Tiptree winners and excellent longlist. The Tiptree longlist always makes a fabulous suggested reading list, and this year is no different. I would certainly like to see more talk online about this list than I’m seeing; there are tons of great book discussions ahead – don’t feel limited by the selections offered for bigger awards. Go forth and read! I’m in the middle of reading Monica Byrne’s THE GIRL IN THE ROAD right now, and it’s fab.

Let’s celebrate an award worth talking about.

 

Jason Sanford

“A modest Hugo Award proposal” –  April 8

I received the following proposal from a long-time genre fan who wishes to stay anonymous….

Where smaller categories get bogged down and overwhelmed by manipulation — short fiction, related work, etc. — is that there are many dozens of “very good” stories and (since long blog posts are related works now, though another topic would be creating a “short related work” category for that so that book-length related works can have their say, but boy is that a digression) related works, and (with the rise of so many anthologies and small press e-zines that do good work) so many short form editors, etc. That a hundred people like stories ABCDE, and another hundred like AFGHI, and another… so when an aggressive slate pushes VWXYZ everything (except perhaps the “A” that is a majority choice from the get-go) is pushed off. The long tail of good stories is its own defeat.

But! We can solve this with better democracy, in a way that (I hope) even the Sad Puppies would like. The approach is to allow *more* instead of *fewer* nominations per voter, ranked, and counted by a special Condorcet method which preserves proportional representation.

Proportional representation means basically that if 60% of ballots are A-B-C-D-E and 40% of ballots are F-G-H-I-J that the 5 nominees are A-B-C-F-G. This is what I actually favor: minority representation is important no matter which “side” one might be on. It makes for an environment where if 600 people really dig literary spectrum stories, and 400 people really dig pulp adventure, that each can put forth some nominees, instead of the 600 always having their sway. (Or the 400 turning rabid and ramming a wedged slate down everyone else’s throat.)

Further, by allowing 10 short fiction nominations, for example, we can avoid the problem of so many people (who like the same 20 stories) splitting their own voice and picking non-intersecting groups of 5 stories, only to be overwhelmed by a dedicated group that won’t split its vote.

105 thoughts on “All The Colors of Kibble 4/8

  1. I’ve been wondering this morning whether the way forward is for the Hugos to actively encourage slates. Let any group of five people with Worldcon attending memberships announce their slate on thehugoawards.org while nominations are open, but limit them to three picks per category. Let any other member who wants to sign on as a supporter publicly do so.

    If there were 5-10 popular slates representing different parts of SF/F fandom, their impact is spread out and no slate is likely to take the entire ballot. Voters who wanted to influence the process without adopting one slate could pick from the best of several.

    We could end up with a ballot that contains some picks from slates, some works with crossover appeal to multiple slates and others that got there from individual support. This wouldn’t require any rules changes, though I think it would help to also expand the nominees per category from 5 to 10.

  2. Brad: I think I can predict pretty confidently that NA will take the novella category, at least. Most readers exposed to Wright’s prose will bounce off it immediately, and Kratman the like. The Andrews would have been readable if it weren’t a chapter from a longer, serialized work with no beginning or end, not a complete story.

    In fact, none of your selections from ANALOG were complete stories, all were chapters, though the Flynn was the most readable and some readers might overlook the fact in its case. Indeed, even if your intention was to pack the ballot with ANALOG stories, there were better examples from which you could have chosen.

    From what I’ve read in the short fiction categories, which isn’t everything on the ballot, I’d say NA has a good chance to win both on the merits of the stories as well as the politics of the situation.

  3. that is preposterous lois. based on sales alone that is a heck of a lot of readers “bouncing” off the stories. Again and again and again.

  4. Xdpaul – It’s funny how three are these people constantly repeating that is and it would be perfectly just to vote no award because .

    And yet none of them can ever explain *why* these works, which are regularly read by far more people than 90% of the previous 10 years’ nominees, are so bad. Is almost like they’re just making it up as they go along.

  5. ***Bah, forgot that I can’t use >< to convey points. Feel free to delete the prior post.

    Xdpaul – It’s funny how there are these people constantly repeating that (work x) by (author x) is (terrible/ineffable/unreadable) and it would be perfectly just to vote no award because (awful/bad think/external characteristic/politics).

    And yet none of them can ever explain *why* these works, which are regularly read by far more people than 90% of the previous 10 years’ nominees, are so bad. It's almost like they’re just making it up as they go along.

  6. “They ran the best organized, most focused, and most effective awards campaign in the history of our genre, and showed everyone else how it’s done.”
    George R.R. Martin

  7. My reviews of the ANALOG stories are on record. As for Wright, I haven’t read these particular pieces, but I have read his stuff and found the prose very much overwrought. This is of course a matter of individual taste. But the fact that a number of others have thought otherwise, as sales figures suggest, doesn’t mean that the majority of readers, who hadn’t encountered this author before, won’t also find them quite awful.

    But note: this is my own view of the matter, my own prediction of the outcome. I am not dictating what others should do with their own ballots. Come the awards ceremony, we shall see.

  8. “I think the Sad Puppies have broken the Hugo Awards, and I am not sure they can ever be repaired.”
    — George R.R. Martin

  9. I doubt foodies would agree that the finest cuisine comes from McDonalds, despite the fact that they sell billions and billions of burgers. Same goes for the 90% of crap SF&F that gets pubbed and sold and read each year. That why the Argument From Sales sucks in terms of judging genuine quality. Not that I don’t sometimes eat a Mickey D’s burger or comfort read me some SF&F, but Hugo awards aren’t intended to recognize the skiffy equivalent of Kraft Mac & Cheese dinners. They’re intended to recognize works that are distinctive, not derivative, in the genre, and frankly we’re lucky if 10% of what’s written rises above the level of mediocrity.

    So the SP’s need to base their claim for Hugo recognition on something other than sales, such as, “what’s amazing and wonderful about this story” and “what new and interesting thing has someone done with science fiction lately”. Not “my story outsold yours, neener, neener, neener”.

  10. David W. – False equivalence. Textbook example, even. McDonald’s does not have the same price point as acme-5-star-eatery. Try again.

    Lois Tilton – So is it “overwrought” or is it “awful?” Mildly esoteric, I’ll grant you, but all three of those words mean different things.

    And want it just a couple years ago that the SP slate was criticized for having excessively pedestrian prose? Just can’t win with the prejudicial.

  11. SP base their hugo recognition on the fact that they…have gotten Hugo recognition. Remember last year when there was all the crowing about just desserts? Who is going to eat it this year?

  12. Evidently analogies are lost on some, but let’s consider this. I sometimes eat at a little Mexican restaurant that’s family-run, and they have amazingly tasty burritos for $7. Then there’s Chipotle’s burritos, which are, well, filling and about the same price. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to eat really good food, and that’s the real false equivalence.

    Anyway, I hear that Hemingway’s prose wasn’t all that flowery either, but damn if it isn’t powerful stuff. Not that more ornate prose can’t be fun to read of course, as anyone who has ever read Jack Vance knows:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/19/magazine/19Vance-t.html

  13. David W. – And yet, given that it’s all the same price, it appears that the average SP pick sells far better than the average competition. So maybe the issue is that you’re still eating fast food… or perhaps the issue is that you prefer Mexican food while I have a taste for Chinese (actually, I like both, but that’s a proper analogy).

    The McDonald’s comparison is ludicrous, as stated above. Making a completely different comparison does not mean your original analogy didn’t suck.

    As far as Hemingway goes, that’s a phenomenal example of differences is taste. I despise Hemingway’s most famous works. They’re tedious and excessive. “Old Man and the Sea” is about three times as long as it needed to be. His short stories are largely vague and obtuse, implying what should be made explicit and making explicit that which should be implied.

    And yet I understand that a great many people like his work for some reason that I can’t comprehend. That’s fine, and I don’t have a problem with it. Which is all I ask in return… Fair consideration of the works, not disparaging false comparisons.

  14. Rcade, if they are really irreparably broken I guess there is only one thing to do. Mour the loss and move on. Yet Martin provides a different conclusion: adapt, adopt the tactics and organize.

  15. They not only sell better S1AL they also rate better in reader reviews oh and also win more nominations. There are lots of empirical metrics and quality measures by which the candidates prove themselves worthy of the awards.

  16. Lois, obviously tastes differ: Wright is one of my favorites. It is worth noting that he’s appeared in at least one of Dozois’ yearly anthologies (and, of course, been nominated for a Nebula), so there are at least some mainstream SF figures who don’t find his style so offputting.
    *
    Incidentally, Mike, thanks for these round-ups. I’d have seen GRRM’s comments elsewhere but wouldn’t have noticed (say) Will Shetterly’s.

  17. S1 – Both overwrought and awful thereby.

    Look, I’m not a partisan in this. I don’t have a dog in the fight. I reviewed these works long before the SP/RP slates were formulated, my opinion is on record and accessible. If, on seeing these slates, my reaction was WTF!, it’s not a matter of taking sides, it’s a matter of noting that several selections were pieces that I had already judged to be flawed.

    But it does make me wonder just how much care Torgersen put into making up his list.

  18. S1AL, it does take a little concentration to really get into Hemingway’s stories, but it’s worth it, IMO.

  19. ‘Just can’t win with the prejudicial.’

    Because when you criticise one entry on the slate you criticise them all? Because you can’t use more than one negative term about a work or it suggests some sort of inconsistency? Critics: always exposing their prejudices when they go criticising things.

  20. ‘They not only sell better S1AL they also rate better in reader reviews oh and also win more nominations.’

    Goodness. I hope they don’t game the reader reviews the way they game the award nominations.

    ‘There are lots of empirical metrics and quality measures by which the candidates prove themselves worthy of the awards.’

    It’s almost a pity there’s any literary component at all!

  21. Technically, criticizing the one entry of John C. Wright is criticizing half a dozen entries! 😉

    There is a reason why he is considered widely by readers, reviewers and yes, even awards bodies, to be among the greatest science fiction currently active. For more than a decade, the Hugos most obvious and egregious oversights is their failure to nominate both Black Gate Magazine and John C. Wright at all when both are – at the respective peaks of their power, clearly among the very best, and arguably the very best. The one decent argument you can make against the notion that Tor gamed the awards is that they never figured out a way to get their very best author even nominated…

    Big Boys Don’t Cry (Kratman), by the way, is one of the more heartwrenching stories on the ballot (that I have read). It isn’t a matter of taste: if you aren’t moved by it, you may want to examine the batteries of your soul, because they might be dead.

  22. It’s almost a pity there’s any literary component at all!

    No its not. That’s a false equivalence. Hugo votes are an empirical measure of literary components. As are star reviews. As are sales.

    Anyone can say (as I have above): Hey this is a great book on literary merits – moving, strong plot, well-crafted action. There’s nothing stopping any of that. But a Hugo Award does not magically imbue the winner with literary merit…but it also does not invalidate the merit either.

    If you think Big Boys Don’t Cry has no literary merit, prove it. The burden is on you, when all other mass measurements and indicators points towards the conclusion (regardless of my supplemental literary review of it) that a work is of fine and meritorious quality, it is going to take far, far more than a tossed off epithet of an unread book to drag it back down to earth.

  23. Craig – they obviously do.

    I can only base my opinion on my own appraisal of the stories and authors I have read. And what that suggests to me is that No Award is a likely outcome of other people reading them, especially in the novella category.

  24. So the SP’s need to base their claim for Hugo recognition on something other than sales, such as, “what’s amazing and wonderful about this story” and “what new and interesting thing has someone done with science fiction lately”. Not “my story outsold yours, neener, neener, neener”.

    No problem. I can objectively prove their superiority. Average Amazon ratings out of 5.

    4.64 Sad Puppy Best Novel recommendations
    4.60 Rabid Puppy Best Novel recommendations
    4.46 2015 Hugo shortlist 4.46
    3.90 2010-2013 Hugo shortlists

    In short fiction, Amazon ratings and number of reviews

    4.6 (63) One Bright Star to Guide Them (2015 finalist)
    4.3 (121) Big Boys Don’t Cry (2015 finalist)
    4.4 (48) Lady Astronaut of Mars (2014 winner)
    4.3 (152) Equoid (2014 winner)

    The Sad Puppy nominees are objectively superior as rated by Amazon. They are, in fact, superior across the board in comparison with recent years. We are raising the bar, not lowering it.

  25. This is the kind of nonsense I walked away from quite some time ago. I wouldn’t be typing these words had I not read something so patently absurd and over the top that if I didn’t say something somewhere, my head would explode.

    I got an e-mail sometime after I got offline last night and it contained a blog post from a principal in this ankle-biting contest, wherein he compared this to the US CIVIL WAR! Good Lord, you’ve got to be kidding me! Consider this for a second-if 3,000,000 people even know what the Hugos are, that’s less than ONE PERCENT of the population of the US. This isn’t even remotely as significant, I suspect that most people who “just read the stuff” even remotely CARE about this. To even facetiously refer to this as The Science Fiction Civil War simply shows me that someone needs to take a step back, take a deep breath and ask yourself if you even remember what the point of life is.

    I have never looked at the Hugo ballot and thought, “Hey, that’s a great ballot!”, because I’d usually want to change half of it to something else. You know what I do? I yawn and go about the business of living. People on both sides of this need to take a step back, take a breath and get some perspective. The SP/RP people, if your stuff or the stuff you like doesn’t make the ballot, big deal! It’s not a “liberal” conspiracy or a snub, or a slap at you or a shot fired in the “culture wars”. It means that enough people who bothered to nominate happened to agree on particular work that they managed to make the ballot.

    Adults shouldn’t behave like this! No one here is Robert E. Lee or Ulysses S. Grant! I’ve read stories by the principals in the SP/RP camp. Jerry Pournelle and David Drake, among others, did what you’re doing far better than any of you are doing it now. Get over yourselves. RAH said it best-you’re competing for someone’s beer money.

    One of the links here nailed it-the royalty check or advance check you get for your writing, art, whatever, is the only “award” that you should care about. Everything else is gravy.

    I’ve read the Analog stories on the ballot and two of them I probably would have nominated, had I wanted to nominate. There are two or three stories I’ve sought out because of this and a few names new to me. This has apparently had an adverse effect on at least one nominee because tall children from both camps carried this over to the writer’s blog, even after repeated requests they stop. Just willy-nilly voting “No Award” without reading the works and judging them on their own merits is an immature way of retaliating and injures people whose sole “crime” was leaving themselves on a slate. There are good works there. Go through your packets, read the material there and decide based on the work and THEN apply “No Award”.

    Nobody wins here, no matter what happens. I take that back-there’s one way for there to be winners here. Anyone who decides to grow up because of this wins. I don’t see anyone doing that at the moment.

    Thank you to Mr. Glyer for trying to present a balanced look at the various viewpoints.

  26. VD – “objectively superior as rated by Amazon” is self-contradictory, just as “objectively factual as stated in Wikipedia”.

    Amazon ratings are the product of self selection bias, they have no -objective- bearing on literary quality or excellence.

    My reviews are the product of my own subjective judgment, which also has no -objective- bearing on literary quality or excellence.

    What we have here is a difference of opinion, and that is what it is.

    What is objective fact is the self-serving nature of your slate, including as it does works published by your own imprint and also yourself as editor. Brad Torgersen’s slate is another matter. I can’t speak to the process of selection, but I can have the opinion that he did a poor job selecting worthy candidates.

    Unfortunately, in the likely event that No Award takes one or more of these fiction categories, we won’t be able to determine whether this was because readers made their choice on the basis of the works’ quality, or on the basis of political bias.

  27. Amazon ratings are the product of self selection bias, they have no -objective- bearing on literary quality or excellence.

    Then neither do the Hugo Awards.

  28. Back a few months ago, in another File 770 post, Wright came up for discussion and someone posted an effusive recommendation for his AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND, a homage to William Hope Hodgson’s THE NIGHT LAND.

    Since I considered Hodgson’s book to be “spectacularly awful” and was unable to finish it when I tried about forty years ago, I’d been curious to see if Wright somehow managed to take Hodgson’s turgid prose and glacial plotting and turn it into something more appealing, and I’d even downloaded a free copy of the Wright book prior to that F770 post. I hadn’t gotten to it at that time, but said I’d give it a try.

    I gave it that try, about a month ago. By the time I had gotten to page 15, I had already fallen asleep twice, and gave it up as not worth further effort.

    Wright’s version was just as turgid and glacial as Hodgson’s. So I guess… congratulations?… are in order, because Wright did a spot-on imitation of a truly dreadful book. It takes some skill to manage that.

    Please tell me THE GOLDEN AGE is better. That’s been on my TBR list for a while, too.

  29. Amazon ratings are the product of self selection bias, they have no -objective- bearing on literary quality or excellence.

    That’s a remarkably stupid statement. They are certainly objective when taken in the collective. I did not rate any of those books. And only a fool, or someone dumb enough to say something very stupid in defense of an indefensible position to which they are foolishly determined to cling, would say Amazon ratings have no bearing at all on literary quality or excellence.

    You have nothing except your own opinion to which you can appeal, Lois. An uninformed opinion too, because you haven’t even read most of the works under discussion.

    What we have here is a difference of opinion, and that is what it is.

    No, it’s the difference between YOUR opinion and the collective average opinions of hundreds of other people. You say the works you haven’t read are bad. Hundreds of other people who have read them say they are very good.

    The fact that you are trying to argue this point is sufficient to render your opinion irrelevant in itself.

    Unfortunately, in the likely event that No Award takes one or more of these fiction categories, we won’t be able to determine whether this was because readers made their choice on the basis of the works’ quality, or on the basis of political bias.

    If No Award takes a fiction category, you will likely never see another award given in that category again. The sword cuts both ways, Lois. We are prepared for all eventualities.

  30. ” Do you still have a copy of that Civil War blog post? He took it offline.”

    Yeap. Completely removed, less than an hour after posting. (Even less, I think.)

    A person operating in good faith would take that as the other person having reconsidered their words, and retracting them, and allow the other to rephrase.

    Perhaps it’s time to let some of the bad faith settle out?

  31. “What is objective fact is the self-serving nature of your slate, including as it does works published by your own imprint and also yourself as editor.”

    It’s amusing to see people complain about so many Castalia House works being nominated. What’s the matter, you think John Scalzi merits 3 more nominations than Arthur C. Clarke instead of only 2?

    Is it really that painful to see someone pry one Tor clique’s claws off the Hugos? If you think I care about winning awards, you are very sadly mistaken.

    And the self-serving nature of Rabid Puppies is not objective fact at all. You have no idea what my intentions are or if Castalia will take home a single award.

  32. No, it’s the difference between YOUR opinion and the collective average opinions of hundreds of other people.

    Lois, what we have here is the difference between YOUR opinion and the collective average opinions of 63-121 of other people

  33. @ keranich : “Perhaps it’s time to let some of the bad faith settle out?”

    See here! We will have none of that! Weaknesses are to be seized, advantages to be won, the better to proclaim ownership of the middle ground and moral superiority! Qapla’!

  34. VD – “You have nothing except your own opinion to which you can appeal, Lois. An uninformed opinion too, because you haven’t even read most of the works under discussion.”

    As I have said several times, I am indeed expressing only my own opinion. But it’s an informed opinion, concerning only the works and authors that I have read and reviewed. And to be perfectly clear, it’s not that all of the works in question are actively bad, but some are not complete and independent, which, in my own opinion, makes them unsuitable for a short fiction award.

    As for your motivations in stacking your ballot with your own publications, I have no opinion. But I do believe that the fact of doing so is self-serving and tacky. “Self-serving” doesn’t necessarily mean, “attempting to get a Hugo award.” There could be any number of other motives for doing so.

    I have no overall opinion on Tor, Tor’s Hugo awards, John Scalzi, or any such matters. You have a tendency to shove people onto your enemy’s list whenever they offer some objection to your statements. As I said before, this dogfight isn’t mine, only my own opinions are. Please don’t impute views to me that I haven’t expressed.

  35. I don’t think there’s any such thing as an objective standard for “literary quality or excellence.” You can’t measure a subjective quality objectively. You might as well ask for the weight of beauty or the length of deliciousness.

  36. I actually agree with Lois that having pieces of larger works nominated is problematic — and it affected my own nominations, e.g. I think “Flow” stands well enough alone but “Championship B’Tok” does not.

    But I wouldn’t care to guess how the average Hugo voter will take it. SKIN GAME is the most interesting question here: it’s very high quality but probably doesn’t stand alone. (I think — my sister’s planning to read it in isolation to cast an informed vote, and it will be interesting how it works for her.)

  37. rcade-Yes, I still have the e-mail I got from WordPress with the “Science Fiction Civil War” blog post, though I get the impression that it poofed for technical issues rather than it being deleted.

    Statistically speaking, any comparison of ratings on individual works with an eye to determining literary “merit” or “quality” is meaningless, particularly when the ratings are close to one another. You have a self-selected pool of individuals giving ratings for their own reasons and the numbers are insignificant. Fantasia was a commercial failure when it was released. I daresay it’s likely that, were audiences to have “rated” it from 1 to 5 stars when it was released, it would have fared poorly. I rate items at Amazon, but very rarely rate items I dislike, because Amazon makes recommendations based on my ratings and I would prefer it make as broad a list of recommendations as possible and one based on my purchases. Thus, marking a story poorly doesn’t do me a damn bit of good.

    The same applies to any award. An example I like to give is that the Marx Brothers, of all the films they made, can count just one Academy Award nomination for any of them-a nomination for Dance Direction of the “All God’s Children” in A Day At the Races. Obviously, given that they never got any other nominations, they’re work is of “dubious quality” and today they languish in an “obscurity” they richly deserve. (innocent look).

    As for “one Tor clique’s claws” and the Hugo, as I’ve pointed out elsewhere, given Tor’s size and importance in the field, if they’re actively trying to control the Hugo nominating process, they’re bumbling the job rather badly. Given that the cost to Tor of buying a sufficient number of supporting memberships for all of the assistants/associate editors, et al., coupled with the Tor editors, et al. who have attending memberships, could be covered from petty cash and written off on their taxes as a business expense (all quite legally) if the SP/RP campaign could achieve the “success” they have with an optional slate of “recommendations”, then Tor should quite easily be able to get five nominees in each of the fiction categories every year, along with packing the two editor categories with five Tor editors. Heck, the Tor.com website makes short fiction available to read for FREE and they’ve yet to pack one category even remotely as thoroughly as SP/RP did for all three of the short fiction categories. Something tells me that their death grip on the awards process is far from complete. It’s almost as though they aren’t even trying.

    I actually like what I’ve read of John C. Wright, though I haven’t read any of the current one-third of this year’s Hugo short fiction ballot represented by his works. Nobody, not even Mark Twain or RAH, should comprise three-fifths of a category.

    Finally, yes, when you edit/publish an imprint, no matter what your intentions are, it is, by definition, “self serving” when you float a “slate” which puts forward nominees (five “recommendations” at most per category, which is interesting) and so large a proportion of your choices just happen to be works in which you hold a vested interest. Just as it’s “self serving” when a studio touts its own films for the Academy Awards. That holds for anyone.

  38. Interesting. Vox’s measure of superiority compels us to conclude that Twilight (average Amazon rating 4.1) is objectively superior to Ringworld (average Amazon rating 3.8)

    I reject this metric.

  39. “If No Award takes a fiction category, you will likely never see another award given in that category again. The sword cuts both ways, Lois. We are prepared for all eventualities.”

    Gosh, actual threats. “Vote For Our Slate Or We’ll Shoot This Dog.”

    Who knew the puppies were actually all about NATIONAL LAMPOON?

    Though making threats is perfectly consistent of Mr. Beale.

  40. ‘No its not. That’s a false equivalence’

    My point was that there might not be any equivalence at all. That is to say, between these empirical metrics and measures of quality, and actual literary merit. The Hugos aren’t infallible in this regard either, by a long stretch.

    I have to say, that while I haven’t yet read it fully, the fragments and excerpts of the Kratman I’ve read so far rather belie your encomiums. Setting that aside until I do read it, what I’d be curious to see is a defence of ‘Wisdom From My Internet’ as nomination-worthy. It seems… special.

  41. ‘Hundreds of other people who have read them say they are very good.’

    And yet to get ’em nominated it took three years’ of gaming the system, only with a final two-pronged approach, by accident or design, proving effective.

    ‘If No Award takes a fiction category, you will likely never see another award given in that category again.’

    Luckily there’s two non-gamed nominees, so there’s no chance of you having to carry out your vague and creepy threat.

  42. ‘Technically, criticizing the one entry of John C. Wright is criticizing half a dozen entries! ;-)’

    Diversity!

  43. “Gosh, actual threats. “Vote For Our Slate Or We’ll Shoot This Dog.””

    Actual threats? By no means. Just consider it more of the very clever and witty talk about Mr. Noah Ward.

    We’re all just making friendly predictions. Who knows what the future will bring?

  44. It has been many years since the Hugo nominations list could be used as a decent guide for reading material. 2000 was a good year but I go back to 1989 until there are solid nominations and winners consistently. I see about 2 good books per year for Best Novel post 1989.

  45. Lois Tilton – So you read some other works of an author and decided that this means that the rest of his works will strike you in the exact same manner and that most readers will feel the same way? That seems like quite a stretch.

    As for the slate, if you actually read the threads about it, you would know that a large portion of it was decided by Brad’s readers making recommendations.

    David W. – Oh, I’ve read a number of things by him (though haven’t gotten to “A Farewell to Arms”), and the only one I even moderately enjoyed was “The Short Happy Life…” I just don’t like his work. And that’s fine.

    Nigel – When the accusations cover the full range of possibilities, including conflicting ones, it starts to appear as though the works will be subjected to any and all possible criticism (accurate or not) that can be leveled for any reason… including the sociopolitical views of the authors. It’s the Tom Bombadil effect, and at that point I have to conclude that the people making these accusations have very questionable reasons for doing so.

    Kevin Standlee – Oh, please. Both of those things can be measured to at least a general range, objectively, using scientific methods. This has been known for at least a decade. Heck, Dan Brown built half a plot out of the objective aesthetics of the golden ratio.

  46. “Luckily there’s two non-gamed nominees, so there’s no chance of you having to carry out your vague and creepy threat.”

    Are you certain the secret master plan isn’t to ensure Mr. Noah Award wins everything this year… and you idiots are so dumb that you’re going to do most of the work?

    “And yet to get ‘em nominated it took three years’ of gaming the system, only with a final two-pronged approach, by accident or design, proving effective.”

    And here I thought this year’s shortlist would suffice to falsify last year’s false accusations about “gaming the system”.

  47. Words mean things-so do phrases and turns of speech:

    “Gaming the system”
    Definition
    gaming the system

    Gaming the system is manipulation or exploitation of the rules designed to govern a given system in an attempt to gain an advantage over other users.

    The SP/RP campaign used the rules in place for nominations to attempt to grab as large a share of the final ballot as it could for a specific list of works and individuals. Their method for doing so was by circulating a list with a small number of “suggestions” which were put before people they viewed as sympathetic to their goal. By putting no more than five “suggestions” out as endorsed by the SP/RP organizers, they created a circumstance where it was easier for someone not really interested in putting all that much effort into nominating (i.e., someone interested in poking others with a sharp stick) to simply list the works put forward by the people urging them to nominate in the first place. Given the relatively small numbers typically needed to get nominated in a large number of categories, if you get 150-200 people nominating and just 30% of them nominate your list in toto, your chances of success are quite good, particularly if most of the other nominators are picking from a more diffuse pool of nominees (i.e., with no equivalent list of “recommendations” equally narrow in scope).

    You gamed the system. The continued refusal to admit you did so speaks to your credibility.

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