Four Nominees’ Statements About Staying on the Ballot

Since Thomas A. Mays decided to withdraw his Hugo-nominated short story as his way of dealing with its having been on the Rabid Puppies slate, some Hugo and Campbell nominees in the same position have made statements to explain why they are not withdrawing. Alyssa Wong and Alastair Reynolds posted theirs today, and Brandon Sanderson yesterday. Also included is a quote from Lois McMaster Bujold — made prior to Mays’ withdrawal — addressing her story’s presence on the slate.


Alyssa Wong says she is staying, in “Toe the Line:” On Being a 2016 John W. Campbell Award Finalist.

There is no way in hell I’m withdrawing. The fact is, in spite of the Rabid Puppies attempts to lock people like me out of the finalists list through slate voting, some truly deserving folks and their works who weren’t on their slate slipped onto the list anyway….

And that’s the crux of it. If you are on this list despite the Rabid Puppies’ slate voting, it means you absolutely, absolutely deserve it. It means that enough SFF fans appreciated your work and contributed their individual voices to overwhelm a slate being pushed by an organized mob of malicious people determined to “leave a big smoking hole where the Hugo Awards were.” And to withdraw is to let them win.


The author posted “Slow Bullets on the Hugo Ballot” at Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon.

…I’d had high hopes for Slow Bullets, after all. I considered it a strong story, and it had picked up enough positive reviews and recommendations throughout the year that it didn’t seem beyond the bounds of possibility that it might make the ballot. That’s not to say I was confident, but that just that the omens were about as good for that story as they had been for any of my recent pieces.

The adminstrators, quite reasonably, wanted a clearer, less ambiguous commitment from me. After a friendly and productive transatlantic phone call, I came around to the view that I’d not only accept the nomination, but take whatever came after it.

As several commentators have noted, the eventual ballots are quite strongly biassed in favour of Rabid Puppy choices. The unpalatable conclusion to be drawn from this is that my story, good as its chances were, probably wouldn’t have made the cut were it not for the RP block vote. However, I didn’t ask for those votes and in fact I expressly requested that my story not be slated. Kate Paulk (of the Sads) and Vox Day (of the Rabids) both declined my requests.

Since the announcement of the ballots, there’s been quite a lot of discussion about the rights and wrongs of the finalists withdrawing their stories. Quite honestly, I’m very sympathetic to both sides of the debate. If I knew then what I know now, I’d probably have declined the initial nomination. But I didn’t, and beyond that I made a commitment to the administrators not to withdraw at a later stage. On that basis alone, therefore, I’m keeping “Slow Bullets” on the ballot. I can’t say I’m exactly over-joyed about this decision, though – from my point of view it just feels like the least worst choice of a very bad hand. Compare and contrast to the situation when my only other nomination happened, for “Troika”, and my mood couldn’t be more different.

Let’s hope things are better next year….


Brandon Sanderson, author of a slated Hugo finalist, the novella Perfect State, says he is staying on the ballot and urges other nominees to do the same. This excerpt is just part of his lengthy post, which also describes what he tried to achieve behind-the-scenes during last year’s puppy travails. Oddly, while he mentions the Sad Puppies he never names the Rabid Puppies, obviously the “list” under discussion here —

If I’d known I was on this list, I would have asked to be taken off of it. This year, their list seems to include some people (I can’t know if I’m one) who are mainstream. People liked in the community, or likely to get a nomination anyway. They’ve done this, I presume, in order to see whether these people too would get “No Award.”

I can’t know how much the nomination of my novella was helped by this group, and even contemplating the idea is distasteful to me. This puts me in the position of having to decide whether or not to withdraw my nomination. It wouldn’t be heartbreaking for me to do so. I’ve won a Hugo in this category before, during the pre-Puppy years. I think my story is strong, but I will write other, stronger stories in the future. I’d be fine sitting it out this year.

I think that would be bad for fandom, and the award. Though I agree with those who withdrew nominations last year, I think we’re entering into a dangerous area. If we withdraw anytime someone like this person puts us on a slate, that gives them an enormous amount of power over us and the award. In addition, if we vote something under No Award anytime someone we don’t like advocates for it, then that’s the same as letting that person win the award whenever they want. Either way, we’re just being pushed around by a troll.

I’d like to think that we’ve learned from last year, and I have decided not to withdraw my nomination. I realize I’m setting myself up for being part of a potential blanket “No Award” voting slate this year. I will accept that, if it happens. But I don’t think letting a troll dictate my actions is going to work out better for me. And I certainly don’t want to insult the fans who nominated my work in good faith.

Therefore, I will stand by what I’ve always said: Nominate and vote for me only if you think the story itself deserves the recognition. Don’t vote for (or against) any person or their ideas. Vote for or against the story. Even when the nomination rules change next year (assuming the proposal gets enough votes again this year), we’re still likely to have a candidate in every category that was nominated in by certain elements.

In many cases, I feel it’s going to be impossible to separate which nominees are the result of trolls throwing rocks at us and which are the result of passionate fans who simply have different views from the mainstream. We’re going to have to do better than counter-voting, a point which many voices in the community, including Scalzi and GRRM, made last year.

I request that my fellow nominees consider not withdrawing. And I request that voters continue to look at the individual stories, artists, and editors, and judge based on the nominee themselves—rather than judging based on who is advocating for them.


On the day the nominees were announced, Lois McMaster Bujold also posted a brief statement — “Penric’s Demon” is a Hugo nominee – about the slate:

…(As a point of information, “Penric’s Demon” was conscripted onto the “Rabid Puppies” slate without my notification or permission, and my request that it be removed was refused.)

Ta, L.

[Thanks to Mark-kitteh and Greg Hullender for the links.]

64 thoughts on “Four Nominees’ Statements About Staying on the Ballot

  1. I’m fascinated by this part of Alastair Reynolds’ statement:

    If I knew then what I know now, I’d probably have declined the initial nomination. But I didn’t, and beyond that I made a commitment to the administrators not to withdraw at a later stage. On that basis alone, therefore, I’m keeping “Slow Bullets” on the ballot.

    It makes me wonder if the Puppies might actually have been more successful than we realize, and one or more authors withdrew before the ‘final’ ballot was published.

  2. As one who nominated Slow Bullets, I am glad that I have a chance to give it an award.
    The Rabids can twist for all I care.

  3. You missed one:

    That is a scoundrel tactic and probably part of Ted Cobbler’s devilman plan. Ted Cobbler is notorious devil and has been seen using dark magic to control puppies around the neighborhood. I do not support the devilman agenda but i think that Space Raptor Butt Invasion proves that LOVE IS REAL and no scoundrels can stop that. Especially not some dumb dogs.

  4. Alyssa Wong is a non-puppy and therefore FULLY deserves to be on the ballot. There shouldn’t be any question about non-puppies staying on the ballot–nor, for that matter, those like Bujold and Reynolds who were conscripted against their will by a weird, obsessive stalker.

  5. Weirdly enough, the Chuck Tingler nomination has made me pretty happy. Not really sure why VD nominated it (though I suspect out of spite and contempt) but Tingler is a great persona and who doesn’t like dinosaur erotica?

    It’s not really Hugo-material, of course, but neither is John C. Wright.


  6. Reynolds, Wong, and Bujold all turned up on several people’s “here’s what I’m thinking of nominating” lists around the Internet this year. Even if in some cases they’re not what I would consider “the best of the year”, they still deserve those nomination spots.

    (Seveneves has been mentioned a lot too, but I swear I’ve seen as many people suggest Updraft as Seveneves. I can’t wait to see what the non-puppy nominations would have been.)

  7. I made a commitment to the administrators not to withdraw at a later stage.

    This is big news I wasn’t aware of.

    Alistair Reynolds’ post states that Hugo administrators sought to secure commitments from the nominees not to withdraw their names after the ballot came out.

    I think that’s unfair of the administrators to ask, given the circumstances, because a prospective nominee could not know how degraded the ballot would be by the rabids’ bloc voting. Being one of two rabid-selected nominees in a category is a more palatable situation than one of five.

    But it’s something to keep in mind as nominees wrestle with the decision of whether to drop out: If they do, they are breaking their word to the Hugo administrators.

  8. So… some commentators don’t understand the difference between a slate and a recommendation list (which even George R.R. Martin himself puts out)? That sounds disingenuous. At best.

  9. I don’t fault anyone staying on the ballot who wasn’t specifically an ideological choice by the Puppies. I also don’t fault anyone who backs out or continues to to use No Award in the case of any slated work. The Puppy gambit was to try and ‘expose hypocrisy’ with their selections, and frankly, their ‘gotchas’ are about as worthless as the rest of their opinions.

  10. rcade: Alistair Reynolds’ post states that Hugo administrators sought to secure commitments from the nominees not to withdraw their names after the ballot came out.

    I believe you are placing an incorrect interpretation on what he said. It looks to me like he was fishing for information about the impact of the slates on the final ballot before he made his decision, and the administrators wouldn’t take a conditional acceptance, they wanted a yes or no.

    When Reynolds said he gave a commitment he didn’t say they asked for one. I take his meaning to be that commitment is essentially one he made TO HIMSELF, when he took what was, for him, a leap of faith in accepting his nomination.

    Certainly I wasn’t asked for any commitment of the kind you have in mind.

  11. bookworm1398: Blackgate also has put a post stating they are not withdrawing.

    Where is that statement? I’ve been scanning their site looking for them to commit one way or the other.

  12. Ahh. I didn’t think of that interpretation. Never mind.

    Apologies if you answered this already, but what was your deliberative process like when you got the call about being on the ballot?

  13. “Where is that statement? I’ve been scanning their site looking for them to commit one way or the other.”

    They have written in comment sections on some sites.I think at GRRM. There was something there about not withdrawing, but can’t remember if it was definite.

  14. I nominated Slow Bullets. I did so based on quality, not because I was following a list. (Hugo voter since Discon 2.) My hope is Mr. Reynolds will consider the legitimate WSFS members’ nominations, and recover his cheery mood. Dude, you’re getting a Hugo Nom! To harness!

  15. The finalists do as they will, just as the voters will do as they will. I expect the statements by various finalists will be taken on board by those voting.

  16. @Mike: Certainly I wasn’t asked for any commitment of the kind you have in mind.

    “I made a commitment to the administrators not to withdraw” sounds like, during the course of their conversation, he was asked for something different from you, Mike, and it was probably because his initial response looked conditional to them. If, as an administrator, you suspect at the outset that a nominee’s conditions for withdrawing have been met but can’t tell them, a “yes” looks exactly like a conditional that you know will be exercised, unless you can get them to commit to not withdrawing.

  17. Mike, here is the comment concerning Blackgate on GRRM blog:
    Black Gate

    I’m glad you posted this.

    Black Gate, where I blog, got a nomination hopefully from our many, many readers, but were also on the VD slate.

    We cover a lot of adventure, including Pulp and Neo Pulp, but we are a diverse lot without the kind of political agenda VD likes. We turned down a tainted nomination last year and ran articles repudiating them.

    So I’m hoping we fall under the “shield” category this year…

    Rereading it, Hampus Eckerman is correct, its not definitive. I’m sorry, I jumped the gun there.

  18. I think at worst SP4 only looked like a slate because of past precedent and given the results and the overall context, I think it is best not regarded as being a slate (regardless of past history intent etc etc).

  19. The action that I took in withdrawing was never meant to have any effect on anyone else, or to imply that those on a slate should withdraw. That puts too much power into the Rabid Puppies paws. In my case, given the current state of my growth as a writer, and given the (very) limited market penetration “The Commuter” had, any nominations I received would likely have been sourced from people seeing VD’s slate. I accepted, as I said, out of the slim possibility that I might only be one story in a wide and varied selection, with no obvious bloc voting. Perhaps, in that case, people would give my work a chance and judge it on its own merits, and let how it first came to light be damned. RP and SP identifying fans’ votes are just as valid as any other fans’ choices, agree with their politics or not, but only if they act in good faith and aren’t actively trying to game the system. However it was immediately clear that my work was there ONLY because of bloc voting and I was keeping another non-slated author from their fair shot, so I had to withdraw. Other, more accomplished writers, appearing on other lists and with bigger names, larger followings, and greater penetration (NOT a Chuck Tingle pun) have every right to remain and be judged for their actual work. They should hold their heads high and not let the effect of RP slating bother them in the least. I’m no Reynolds or Bujold or Wong or Sanderson. Our situations are completely different. And perhaps, as many comments have suggested, I should have demanded no one vote for me, or declined before the finalists were revealed, but damn it, I have a right to hope people might actually like my work enough to win legitimately. Doing otherwise in my case again gives toxic/bad agents too much power over me. So, I stand by what I did and when I did it, and I stand by what these authors are doing. Cynics, please, evaluate all the works on their merit and don’t judge too harshly someone or something just because one person with an agenda latched upon it. Thank you.

  20. rcade: Apologies if you answered this already, but what was your deliberative process like when you got the call about being on the ballot?

    I went through my thought process much earlier, on the day File 770 was announced as an entry on the Rabid Puppy slate. (You may recall, Vox spread out the announcement by doing each category separately.) If for some reason I wasn’t going to accept a Hugo nomination, best I tell people that before they cast their ballots. I decided I was going to see it through.

    I have been soldiering on here at File 770 since the first Sad Puppies slate through today, trying to do anything I can to preserve the Hugos as an award democratically selected by Worldcon members. Most of my attempts had zero impact, but the roundups suddenly took off, and in the process a whole community has formed here.

    Thinking about this complicated decision, I sounded in my head as ambivalent as Lincoln did about slavery versus preserving the Union — could I do more by dropping off the ballot, or staying? Would either choice frustrate the puppy program? (Were hundreds of minions and Dread Ilk really going to write down the name of a blog so often criticized in their comments? Well, for purposes of a decision I had to assume they might.)

    And I admit I’m not unbiased. There’s a bit of pride involved — very few paper faneds ever transitioned to have a comparable impact online. Langford did. Not many others. However, that would remain true regardless, it doesn’t depend on the acknowledgment of a Hugo nomination.

    Here’s a quote from an email I wrote to someone that day:

    There’s going to be a complex reaction to File 770 being on RP. There will be suspicion, and there also will be some amount of ennui in the nature of “geeze, that guy’s been nominated too many times already”. But I’m not going to recuse File 770. If Journey Planet gets nominated again and people vote for it, I’m fine with that, and for that matter I like Black Gate quite a bit, but I don’t feel I’m tainting the ballot if I get nominated….

    My deliberative process was messy, emotional, and (somewhat like Reynolds and Mays) based on best-guesses about the field. Ultimately I remembered what someone once yelled at a friend of mine from the audience at a Corflu — “Stand up and take your egoboo like a man!” That phrase likely needs some unpacking, but part of it implies that it’s also wrong to let these thoughts about worthiness and such prevent your friends from showing the affection they intend.

  21. Despite a lot of hot air from the Puppy camp about evil people bloc-voting “No Award”, I suspect most of us are perfectly well aware that – as with last year – a certain number of innocent victims have been thrown under the slate’s bus. And, as with last year, it is my intention to read and judge and vote accordingly.

    If you believe the slate’s presence is enough to taint this year’s awards irretrievably – and that’s not an indefensible position to hold – then it makes sense to no-award everywhere they’ve put their grubby little paws. But if you don’t – which I don’t – then all you have to do is read the stuff that’s on offer, and decide if it’s genuinely Hugo Award quality. I suspect that reading some of the slate’s offerings will be somewhat of a chore (as it was last year), but I’m confident in my own ability to tell a genuine winner from a Puppy-picked piece of dreck, and I’m confident everyone else will be able to do the same.

    Having public statements from the innocent victims… well, I suppose it helps, a bit. But I wasn’t seriously thinking that Alastair Reynolds or Brandon Sanderson or OGH were Puppies anyway. I’m not daft. Well, not that daft.

  22. @MTroyd

    What are you talking about, may I ask? Mike doesn’t dis-emvowel comments here.

  23. @Thomas A. Mays, I have my doubts about the fannishness of VD’s clown car occupants (and none at all about Sad Puppies), but otherwise your reasoning is solid. I hope this isn’t the last time you’re a Hugo finalist.

  24. I would hope Mike didn’t consider withdrawing for a moment. First, plenty of people, nonpuppy and some puppies too, have been saying since before last year’s Hugos were given out that Mike and/or File 770 deserved a nomination for 2015 for the invaluable aggregation of Hugo related news for weeks and weeks. I am sure plenty of regulars here, vocal or lurker, had Mike and/or the site on their ballots. I think any RP nom for this site is most likely a poison pill attempt on a likely nomination anyway like the Gaiman, Stephenson, etc. But there is a slim chance that it may even be genuine. Mike shared excerpts from posts all over the spectrum and gave a sense of the extent of thinking and talking about all the Hugo stuff far and wide. For people who didn’t want to give one side or the other pageviews, it was very useful. I’m 100% sure the nominations (or at least one of them) would have happened regardless of the slates.

  25. Bonnie McDaniel, I think Sean has this site confused with Making Light, which does disemvowel trolls.

    If Mike Glyer has disemvowelled anyone here, it’s happened so rarely that I can’t think of a single instance.

    (Should I mention that understanding which site one is posting to requires a certain baseline level of reading comprehension, or is that unnecessarily snarky…?)

  26. Two things:

    1) @Thomas A. Mays: I bought your store the other day because you withdrew your nomination. That speaks to your personal integrity and – even if I end up not liking the story – I want to support that kind of integrity. And that should not be construed to say that folks who aren’t withdrawing lack integrity. I read your post, and your comment here, and I like your reasoning. It’s up to each nominee to examine themselves and decide whether or not they should withdraw.

    2) I agree that File770 shouldn’t withdraw, because there is one good sign that it would probably have been on the ballot regardless – Mike Glyer is nominated (separately from File 770) for Best Fan Writer, and he wasn’t on the Rabid slate in that category.

  27. Mike, everyone I know who bought memberships to vote last year because of this fiasco had decided by late summer that you were going to be on their Hugo ballot.

    You EARNED this nomination.

  28. Just wanted to say that, like others, I’m impressed by Thomas Mays’ response–both here and on his blog. The decision obviously isn’t an easy one and I’m not sure what the best response would have been; it’s kind of uncharted territory. I’m fine with whatever the non-Castalia House authors decide so long as they don’t support VD.

    One thing I very much dislike is how VD by using shields without their permission has brought people into a rather bitter fight. Obviously for people like Gaiman or King that doesn’t matter much, but for much less prominent and successful authors (i.e., nearly everyone else), that seems tremendously unfair.

  29. There’s a bit of pride involved — very few paper faneds ever transitioned to have a comparable impact online. Langford did. Not many others.

    The comparison to David Langford is high praise, and entirely deserved. File 770 is an institution of fandom. I’m not sure how I got along without it.

  30. @Thomas Mays: greater penetration (NOT a Chuck Tingle pun)

    ALWAYS a Chuck Tingle pun.

    You’ve got a level head about all this, and an admirably objective sense of perspective, which is tough when it’s something as personal as your work on the line or a situation where feelings run high. Your reasoning seems even-handed and kind, and in a messy situation, that’s the best one can ask for.

    I don’t know if this will be the easiest award season for you, being somewhat in the spotlight, but it’d be a pleasure to see you drop by again. (We’re pretty good on books and food, if you get tired of Hugos.)

  31. I must confess I have a theory on how Chuck Tingle ended up nominated. A story really. The others involved may come clean at their discretion, but I served as the face in this story so my involvement is already a matter of the record.

    On the last day of Sasquan we were sitting around, discussing the issue of Hugos and slates. We had joked about doing our own slate next year, revolving around Chuck Tingle. Time passed, as it does. A group of us looked at the slate the RP were putting together. We looked at the numbers from last year. Based on that data we were convinced that the Puppies would dominate the ballot this year, and sweep at least a couple of categories. But we had an ace in hole. A way to allow nominators to express their displeasure, protest slates and mock the open homophobia of VD’s elk. That way was an all Chuck Tingle Slate. We named it ‘The Tingler’. And by slate, I mean we limited ourselves to one entry per category but called it a slate as part of the elaborate joke.

    We passed it around Facebook and had a good laugh. The nomination period opened. We started a second push for ‘The Tingler’, with a third planned for near the end of the nomination period. This time we decided that we needed an iconic graphic to go with our slate. So we created a campaign ad, with a little help from a poster for the Vincent Price classic “The Tingler”. We passed it around Facebook again, offering it as a means of protesting RP slate dominance in that prankish way that fandom does. One of our number then passed our campaign ad along to the man, the mystery, the original buckaroo … that’s right Chuck Tingle himself. He reposted it on Twitter (Proof:

    We had a good laugh and we patted ourselves on the back. If nothing else we had guaranteed Chuck Tingle would appear on the long list. If we played our cards right maybe squeak onto the ballot in one of the categories. If he won, well then that was just the voters getting in on the joke. We considered many other possibilities, and agreed amongst ourselves that if we got enough ballots to appear in the final data we would chalk it up as a win. The one thing we had not counted on is what VD did next. Within a few days he announced he was adding a “Space Raptor Butt Invasion” to his slate.

    Was that a reaction to our campaign? Who knows. At this point it was clear that we couldn’t do more to mock Vox Day then what he just done to himself. We declared that it was our plan all along and that the RP had fallen for our ingenius Xanatos Gambit. Now, we live in a world where Dr. Chuck Tingle will forever be able to call himself a “Hugo Finalist”.

  32. “SMOFs, you’ve got to let me know
    Should I stay or should I go?
    If you say that I’m on the slate
    I’m in for a huge debate
    So you got to let me know
    Should I stay or should I go?

    I’ve got these Hugo blues
    And VD thinks he’s got us on our knees
    Is my placing fine or is it crap?
    Am I honored or just a sap?
    Well come on and let me know
    Should I stay or should I go?”

  33. After reading N.K. Jemisin tweets today I’m looking at the Chuck Tingle not withdrawing a bit differently than I was earlier. I’m not laughing anymore. She makes some really good points about how he’s keeping a fan nominee off the slate. So yes funny he is but integrity might be to step down now that he’s had his fun. OGH said in another thread he’d be putting the link up in the next pixel I believe.

  34. Cassy B: True, disemvowelling is not a technique I have ever used.

    Not entirely true. It is just that–in the rare case you’ve used it–you paired it with disemconsananting.

  35. Mike,

    I’m mostly a quiet lurker but a lurker who has been a steady reader and really enjoyed this community. I think the work you have done here has been exemplary and utterly deserving of both nomination and win. Congratulations and thank you.

  36. @Darren Garrison:

    Don’t forget the disempunctuationing and the disemwhitespacing.

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