aka There are few things in this world that can simultaneously delight and dismay in the same manner as a Puppy dinner party.
The lead dog returns in today’s roundup which starts with Brad R. Torgersen, followed by the rest of the team, Brianne Reeves, David Gerrold, Adam-Troy Castro, Kristene Perron, Roger BW, Ace, EJ Shumak, Lisa J. Goldstein, Lis Carey, Barry Deutsch, Sarah A. Hoyt, Vox Day, and Jim C. Hines. (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Jim Henley & Morris Keesan, and ULTRAGOTHA.)
Brad R. Torgersen
“Fisking the broken narrative” – May 17
Someone forwarded me a copy of Kevin J. Maroney’s editorial from the April New York Review of Science Fiction. I don’t normally read Maroney’s column, and I don’t even normally read NYRoSF, but some of Maroney’s commentary screams BROKEN NARRATIVE at such a high decibel level, I thought it might be worth it to examine some of that commentary in close detail….
The only real way I see the Hugos being a “smoking ruin” is if the CHORFs fulfill their stated pledge to bork the 2015 awards by placing “NO AWARD” at the top of every category; thus no awards will be given. This will be an entirely self-inflicted wound (by the so-called devotees and cherishers of the Hugo) because clearly you have to destroy the village, to save the village. I mean, that’s just good common sense. If you love a thing and think it’s awesome, you absolutely must obliterate it — to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. Because this is what open minds and open hearts do. They destroy something they claim to love, so that something they claim to love can be kept pure. Because the “wrong” people must never be allowed to have it the “wrong” way.
If there is any other way to leave the Hugos a “smoking ruin” this year, I haven’t thought of it yet.
This is not to counsel despair. But we need to be aware that the battle against the arrayed forces of assholery will, at times, be unpleasant to watch and wearying to fight. But the fight is genuinely important, and it won’t win itself.
—Kevin J. Maroney speaking for himself
Thanks for the pep talk, Kevin! I agree with you wholeheartedly! The Forces of Assholery have been trick-or-treating at my virtual doorstep for 45 days and counting. They’ve smeared me, smeared my family, smeared my friends, and smeared Sad Puppies 3. Again, clearly the way the Forces of Assholery save the thing they love and cherish, is to be complete pricks to whoever they feel like, whenever they feel like, badger and threaten and cajole and shun and shame, all that good old fashioned 12th century village stuff. Torches and pitch forks! Tie them to the stake! Burn them! Infidels!
Or maybe “your” side needs to just settle down and vote on the ballot like normal?
Brianne Reeves on Bree’s Book Blog
Politicking has always gone on at the awards, to some degree or another. We’re not so naïve as to be unaware of that. Authors and publishing houses have always campaigned for works to be chosen. After all, the Hugos does provide a sales boost.
However, the dominance of a slate that advocates the blind nomination of works based on political ideology is fairly unprecedented.
Because the voting population for the Hugos is fairly small, approximately 2,000 voters for the most popular category and much fewer in less popular categories, it’s easy to skew the results of the nomination process. And, of course, when it’s derailed and by a large, but distinct minority of voters, the rest of the community is going to be upset.
Slates themselves are problematic. They reduce the number of potentially nominated works, undercut the deliberations that go into the nomination process, and potentially flood the awards with non-vetted works (read: works that have not actually been read). This means that the stories we are awarding may be extremely obscure, non-representative of the genre and its advances, or non-representative of the stories readers want to consume.
It should also be noted that slates are distinct from suggested nomination lists. Plenty of people put up lists of works they think work well in categories and suggest their readers, friends, fellow SFF lovers read the list when considering who to nominate. To me, this is a distinctly deliberative act. It allows for people to read and decide on their own without suggesting or advocating blind voting (to me the biggest problem with slates). They are often include far more lists of works than the voter can nominate and act as a substitute longlist for readers. This is especially important for readers who want to sample and become more involved in categories like short fiction which have a much smaller readership.
The creation of a slate for political reasons is objectionable. What I will say here, is that the use of politics in this case is a limiting factor and detracts from the inclusive and representative goals we have for the Hugo. Again, they are within their rights to limit based on this factor, but I think that it suffers from a lack of consideration for new types of stories, and increasingly popular stories in the genre.
We all have limitations in our reading. Time, length, interest are all factors we have to balance. I think it is inkeeping with the spirit of the award, however, to push ourselves to read what we may otherwise ignore or not prioritize. As readers, we should always be pushing ourselves to empathize and expose ourselves to stories that are not familiar to us or that show a part of humanity we may not often see.
David Gerrold on Facebook – May 17
Yes, there has been pushback to the sad-rabid slates — because too much of the rhetoric from sad-rabids justifying the slates has not been about the merits of the nominated works, but about the context of the awards — the existing narrative, created by the sad-rabid supporters themselves, is that the slates are motivated not by merit, but by a political agenda. And the larger body of fandom has been appalled by that. That’s the source of the pushback. Not the mythological SJWs. Nor any other acronym of disrespect.
The Hugos are not awards for political correctness. They are not awards for any political opinion. They are awards for merit. They are a recognition of what the community deems as “best of the year.”
The awards are voted on by a large disorganized body of people — a continually evolving, changing, amorphous body consisting of whoever bought a Worldcon membership that year and felt likle voting. Sometimes you vote for a story, sometimes you vote for an author you like, and sometimes you even vote for a friend, but in general the awards represent a cross-section of the opinions of those involved in the Worldcon.
To ascribe any kind of conspiracy to a circumstance that is rooted in anarchy is to misread the evidence.
But … even more to the point, to expend so much time and energy on this effort has to be seen as an eyebrow raiser. Is this the most important thing you can be doing with your time? Reading some of the discussions, I’ve rolled my eyes so hard so many times, I can describe in great detail what the bottom of my brain looks like.
Real writers don’t worry about awards. Real writers write. (In my never-humble-opinion.) Real writers don’t worry about feuds. Real writers write. (IMNHO.) Real writers cherish their time at the keyboard as so precious that any distraction at all is seen as the enemy.
You’re a decent person. You really are.
Oh, sure, you have some bad habits, some irritating beliefs, some things you do that get on the nerves on people around you. But by all the low bars, you’re a decent person. You don’t molest children. You don’t attack people with broken bottles. You don’t set bombs. You’re good to your family and polite enough to people who are polite to you. In some ways, you’re admirable. Even noble. Your worst enemy, considering the way you live your life, would acknowledge it.
But then we get to the part of you that is objectionable. You’re just a little bigoted, just a little misogynistic, just a little homophobic, just a little xenophobic – any one of those four things, to some level, in some combination.
You are not any of these things to the degree of all-out, full-bore toxicity. They are trace elements, the same things that many of us have. Maybe they are a bit stronger in you than they are in some people who we would consider more enlightened – and maybe you have many compensating virtues.
As a character flaw, this is like a managed medical condition, in that it is possible for you to live with it comfortably, and for you to control it without causing too much offense to others, possibly even without them being visible to others.
But here’s the problem. You then surround yourself with the wrong people.
Kristene Perron on The Coconut Chronicles
“The Evolution of Cinderella” – May 17
There is one aspect of the Sad Puppies I am interested in, however, and that’s the assertion by many of their supporters that the sci-fi of old was better, purer, and more important than its modern day incarnation. Men in space ships, having adventures and solving problems with technology, that is “real” science fiction.
Anyone who waxes poetic about any kind of halcyon age makes me roll my eyes. And, when it comes to stories and storytelling, that kind of “Back in my day…” thinking is absurd. By such standards, Cinderella would forever and always be the story of a commoner marrying into royalty because the original was the “true” version regardless of social changes. In the 1600’s, the original story of Cinderella was subversive. In the 2000’s the original story of Cinderella is irrelevant.
I can and do still read and enjoy the “old time” science fiction stories, sexism and racism be damned, but my world has evolved and I expect stories written today to reflect those changes. If Crocodile Dundee was made today and the crotch grabbing scene was still included, I would boycott the movie and I would encourage everyone else to do likewise. There’s still room for stories of men in spaceships, having adventures and solving problems with technology but, given social changes, how could anyone complain that there is also room for science fiction stories of women and non-binary genders of all colours having adventures in all kinds of places?
Roger BW’s Blog
“Thoughts on the 2015 Hugo Awards” – May 15
But forget about the specific politics of this case. What institutional slate voting gets you, no matter how well-intentioned or how much it is aligned with your own views, is political parties. Nothing can get onto the ballot unless it’s part of a slate, so the people who run the slates become the kingmakers; any author who wants any chance at an award has to get in with one of them. (We’ve already seen popular works getting knocked off this year, and once the full nomination totals are revealed after the awards are made we’ll have a better idea of what missed its one chance at a Hugo.)
For this reason I will be voting “No Award” over any slate-nominated work this year, and I shall probably not bother to read it either. I’m glad to see that some of the slate-nominated authors have had the grace to withdraw once they found out what had been done, and disappointed that so many of the others haven’t.
In the long term, I don’t believe changes to the nomination procedure are worth it: technical solutions to social problems rarely work. Getting more people to nominate seems like a worthwhile effort. Clearly not all that many people are actually reading SF short stories in magazines any more; should Hugos even be awarded for them at all now?
Ace at Ace of Spades
As we talked, I told him about Ace’s interview with Larry Correia concerning the Sad Puppies controversy in that by pursuing this strategy the publishing houses are ignoring huge markets of people willing to buy books and are cutting their own throats. He broke in saying, “I know, I know…But look…you gotta stop thinking. Just stop thinking! Thinking about all this will drive you crazy! Don’t go to bookstores, if they even still have any where you live. Don’t look at other books. You’ll just wonder how in the world this thing even got published,” and then told me some more anecdotes about how the sausage is made…
It was sad. He’s a good guy, and was just as frustrated about it all as I am, but he’s stuck fighting a bunch of Goliaths who only look for certain types of books (that support the current narrative and are framed by the postmodern cultural marxist analysis of race, gender, class) and is left trying to sneak in what stories he can, however he can.
EJ Shumak on Superversive SF
First we will look at the positive response to this novel, comprising about 25% of the group. Bill, after reading all the other nominees, believes that this work will be at the top of his Hugo award list. He likes politically based tomes and enjoyed this iteration of that concept. Though the book was, admittedly, not what he had expected, he had a pleasant experience and was very positive overall.
Another vocal supporter had much good to say about the concept and purpose to the book. In many ways his reasons for liking the book paralleled the reasons others disliked it. He felt it exemplified white privilege imposed upon black (or Goblin) society. He felt we need to consistently look at and focus on our societal problems with racism and sexism. He felt we should examine these problems deeply, while assuming ignorance. While agreeing with another reader that the work was truly a lecture, he asserted that it was “…a lecture we need to have…”
The rest of the group was solidly in full disappointment of the work. Several people actually opined that this kind of lecture and message fiction was the best possible justification for the sad puppies’ slate. Mike loved the story through to the middle and then it overcame him to the point that he observed he could now understand the sad puppy position.
Lisa J. Goldstein on theinferior4
“The Hugo Ballot, Part 10: Novellas” – May 17
[“One Bright Star to Guide Them” by John C. Wright.] …Tommy goes to his old friend Richard but discovers that Richard now serves the Winter King. There’s a battle with the king’s servants, and at the chapter’s end “the smell of the sea filled his nose, and Tommy could neither see nor breathe.” We don’t get to see what happens next, either. Instead, unbelievably, the next chapter starts with Tommy meeting another of his old friends, Sally, and telling her what had happened. It’s as if someone had taken an entire book, cut out all the interesting parts, and published the rest. (Amusingly, in “John C. Wright’s Patented One-Session Lesson in the Mechanics of Fiction,” included with Wright’s stories, he stresses the importance of “showing, not telling” to the narrative.) Gradually, though, the story grinds to a start. It becomes the usual fantasy quest: Tommy has to go various places, do various things, collect various objects….
Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library
“Flow, by Arlan Andrews” – April 17
As the opening section of a novel, this is great. As a complete novella nominated as a complete story, not so much. I don’t think it’s asking too much that a nominated piece actually fit its category in ways beyond arbitrary word count. This doesn’t. It’s not a novella; it’s a novel fragment.
Barry Deutsch on Alas
THREE POPULAR PROPOSALS TO REDUCE THE INFLUENCE OF SLATE VOTING
Many have suggested that all that’s needed to reduce the influence of Slate voting is more voters, that is, for a larger number of people to vote in both rounds of Hugo voting. However, since Slate Voting is a strategy that mathematically allows a collectively organized minority to overcome the preferences of a disorganized majority, I don’t have much confidence in this proposal. (Although it is a nice idea for other reasons.)
Another proposal is the 4/6 proposal, in which individual Hugo voters can only nominate four works per category, and there will be six nominees per category. In this case, rather than a successful slate controlling 100% of nominees in each category, it will only control 66% of nominees in each category. If there are two slates, then the most successful slate will control 66% of nominees, while the next most successful slate will control the remaining 33% of slots. This seems like an insufficient solution, to me.
The proposal I favor is “Least Popular Elimination,” in which voters could still nominate up to five works per category, but the votes are counted in a way that mathematically favors works that appear on the broadest number of voters’ ballots while diluting (but not completely eliminating) the power of slate voting. A detailed explanation of “Least Popular Elimination” voting is available here. While LPE voting is not as intuitive as the other two proposals, I believe it would be more effective
Sarah A. Hoyt on According To Hoyt
“The Privilege Of Not Caring” – May 17
So who am I betraying by not conforming to the baneful Marxist stereotype of who I should be? Oh, right, the SJWs. That’s okay, I’m fine betraying them. Or at least fighting them. Hard to betray what you never belonged to. And, you know, most of them, even those with exotic names and claiming exotic identities (rolls eyes) are pasty-assed white people with real privilege as defined by having money and having attended the best universities and hanging out with all the “right” people and having the “right” (left) opinions. If they knew the meaning of the word privilege, they’d see it all over themselves.
But there are more egregious definitions of privilege. You see “check your privilege” is a tool of would-be elite whites to keep competition and challengers in check, while riding to glory by defining themselves as champions of the downtrodden. (It’s an old game, in place at least since the French revolution, but it’s the only one they have. Remember they lack both empathy and imagination. And since they have more or less overtaken the press, no one on the street realizes how old and tired this “clever” gambit is.)
Vox Day on Vox Popoli
TOTAL: 65.7 women have won 24.7 percent and 19 conservatives have won 7.1 percent of the 266 Hugo Awards given out since 1996. This is despite the fact that conservatives outnumber liberals by a factor of 1.6 in the USA, which means that conservatives are underrepresented by a factor of 11.3, versus women being underrepresented by a factor of 2.
Now, if the SJWs are to be believed, sexism is a serious problem but there is absolutely no evidence of left wing ideological bias. They keep repeating this despite the fact that the anti-right wing bias in science fiction is observably 5.6 times worse than the purported sexism about which they so often complain.
Jim C. Hines
“’Do You Wanna Take The Hugos?’” – May 16
[First of two stanzas]
To the tune of “Do you want to build a snowman?”
Larry? Do you wanna take the Hugos?
Come on let’s change the game.
I’m tired of those liberals
Who steal our rightful fame!
This used to be our genre
But now it’s not.
They make all the puppies cry.
Do you wanna take the Hugos?
(And also puff up both our egos…)