So Long and Thanks for All the Puppies 5/1

aka The Good, the Bad, and the Yapping

Rachel Acks and Abigail Nussbaum begin the May Day roundup, followed by Mark Leeper, John Scalzi, Paul Kincaid, David Langford, Laura Mixon, Kiesa, and a colleague who has chosen a saner course.  (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day Milt Stevens and Laura Resnick.)

Rachel Acks

“The Hugo Nomination Problem or, I Am a Bad Reader”  – May 1

I’m sure this does not reflect on me well as a human being. I also know I used to read a hell of a lot more back before I didn’t have a full time job and a part-time writing gig and a daily commute during which reading tends to give me severe motion sickness. But here it is, the call for help. I seriously need some helpful soul, or maybe some kind of crowd-sourced thing that can tell me what I should be reading as things come out so I’m not floundering under drifts of pages on book mountain when the Hugo nomination period opens. Preferably some recommendation engine where my fellow writers, bless you guys I love you all but damn I know how we are, are not allowed to nominate or push their own books. I don’t want reviews, I don’t even want opinions, I just want a simple list or titles and authors and maybe a helpful link where someone can say hey, I think this book should totally get a Hugo, and then other people who agree can maybe give it a plus one, and that’s it. Let me form my own opinions.

Does something like this already exist and I’ve just never seen it because I’m a failure at google? Is this something a complete computer incompetent like me could set up on her own site pretty easily? I’d do it in a heartbeat if I knew how.

 

 

Abigail Nussbaum on Wrong Questions

“The 2015 Hugo Awards: A Few Thoughts as Voting Opens” – May 1

In addition to No Award-ing the Puppies, there are two other categories where I will be voting No Award for all nominees.  I’ve already written about the Best Fan Writer category, and in addition I will not be voting to give a Hugo in the Best Novelette category, even though it contains a non-Puppy nominee in the form of Thomas Olde Heuvelt’s “The Day the World Turned Upside Down.”  Chance has written eloquently about the many problems with this story, which does not deserve to win a Hugo by default.

Speaking of Chance, she’s thrown herself on the grenade of the Rabid Puppies’ short fiction selections, and is reviewing them one by one with sad and hilarious results.  Her reviews are required reading, first if you like funny and snarky writing, but also if you’re still under the impression that literary merit has anything to do with this campaign.

 

Anna Kashina

“Hugo awards: what can be done to save them?” – May 1

Going forward, I believe that the best way to redeem the situation and restore the prestige of the Hugos (and perhaps the other awards) is to ensure that every nominator and voter actually *reads* the work they are voting for and actually considers it to be better than the other comparable works published the same year, based on valid criteria. Barring that, the awards have no meaning, I think everyone would agree to that.

How to achieve it practically?

For one, every nomination should be publicly listed, with the name of the person nominating and voting for each work openly accessible, along with the checked “yes” next to the questions on whether they personally read the work, and whether they truthfully consider it the best in the genre.

I would go even further, though. I would request for each nomination to contain a short paragraph of what you like about the work and what made it stand out for you and seem like it deserved the award. This information should also be made public from the start and required with each nomination (notably, reasons based on the race, ethnicity, and political and religious views of the author should not be permitted).

I am aware that this would probably drastically reduce the number of people willing to nominate. But I bet that no slate voting would be possible with this kind of a system. Even if a person is willing to outwardly lie on a public form, if the writeups for the slate voters are commonly generated through a campaign, this fact would become immediately transparent.

 

Celia Darrough on Bustle

“How The 2015 Hugo Awards Became A Battlefield (And Not Over Science Fiction)” – May 1

If the science fiction and fantasy literary genre has an Oscars, it’s the Hugo Awards. Since the 1950s, the awards have recognized the works of science fiction and fantasy (SF/F) greats, including Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut, George R. R. Martin, and Michael Chabon. But, if you look at a complete list, you’ll notice one thing about the roster of past winners: A majority of them are white men. And this year fans, the media, and the organizers themselves claim there’s a conspiracy to rig the Hugo Award nominations to keep it that way.

Here’s what’s happening: For close to a decade, the Hugos have made strides toward increased diversity, with deserving women and members of minority groups added to the nomination list. (See: Octavia Butler, Ann Leckie, Saladin Ahmed, Nalo Hopkinson, N.K. Jemisin, and Ted Chiang, all of whom, save Butler, were nominated after 2000.) But the 2015 awards, whose winners will be announced in August, have become a battlefield as longtime supporters of the awards allege that two online groups known as the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies tried to subvert the nomination process, apparently to keep the awards mostly white and male — a statement that the leaders of the Sad Puppies — Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen — and the Rabid Puppies — Vox Day — vehemently deny.

 

Mark Leeper on MT Void

“The Puppy Crisis” – May 1

I think a lot of people have given in to a myth. The myth is what I think is a basic misunderstanding about what the awards are. In the case of the Hugo awards, the myth is that the fans have gotten together to pick God’s anointed best science fiction pieces published over the previous year in each category. Once they pick the stories democratically chosen by mutual consent to be the best they–the fans–have spoken. What they have chosen is God’s Anointed choice. It works like the selection of the new Pope.

Pardon me but that is not what happens when a novel wins a Hugo. The Hugo Award is not about the book; it is about the voters. In this case it is about the attending and supporting members of the upcoming World Science Fiction Convention. We all pretend that this is a reasonable set of people to judge and decide the question. We have pretended that for years. But they cannot make a book be the best novel. They can only decide as a popularity poll what book they most want to see win. Their choice tells you about them. It tells you something about the minds of the people, but voters do not make best novels. Writers make them.

 

John Scalzi on Whatever

“The Myth of SF/F Publishing House Exceptionalism” – May 1

Sanford is correct in his point that as a matter of books from Baen whose individual sales can compete with the sales of individual books from other science fiction publishers on a month-to-month basis, as charted by the Locus list, Baen’s showing is modest (the May Locus lists, incidentally, show no Baen books, whereas Tor shows up five times, Orbit five times, DAW four times, Del Rey three times, Ace and Harper Voyager once each, and non-genre-specific publishers like Bantam and Morrow taking the rest of the slots).

But does that mean Ringo’s larger assertion (sales of SF/F publishing houses are down since the 70s except for Baen) is false? Not necessarily! Here are some reasons Ringo might still be right:

  1. Ringo’s first assertion (SF/F publishing houses sales down since the 70s) is independent of how any individual title by any publishing house stacks up against any other title by any publishing house in the month-to-month or week-to-week horse races known as the best-seller lists. That a book is #1 on the Locus list one month does not mean it sold the same number of books as any previous #1; nor does it speak to the overall sales of any particular publishing house….

Ringo appears wants to make to two arguments: One, that Baen has experienced consistent, across-the-board growth in its sales where other SF/F publishers have not. Two, that this is due to Baen not publishing authors or tales that are “SJW”-y; only “cracking good tales” allowed, the definition of which apparently preclude any Social Justice Warrior-ness (although apparently may include any number of conservative/reactionary tropes)….

The second part of Ringo’s assertion, the implication that Baen’s continuous sales upswing is due to cracking good SJW-free tales, I’m not going to bother to address seriously, because what a “Social Justice Warrior” is at this point is something of a moving target, the most consistent definition of which appears to be “Anyone left of Ted Cruz who certain politically conservative authors want to whack on in order to make whatever dubious, self-serving, fact-free point they wish to make at the moment.”  I believe George RR Martin has recently been relegated to SJW status for being upset with the action of the Puppy slates and the Hugos; this is a curious maneuver if we’re talking “cracking good tales” and sales numbers as a proxy for… well, whatever they’re meant to be a proxy for.

It’s also bunk because while Baen is being used by Ringo as a synecdoche for a certain subgenres of science fiction (and the non-SJW agendas of the authors who produce it and the readers who read it), I have to wonder whether Baen itself wants that responsibility or affiliation. I mean, as just one example, we’re all aware that Baen published Joanna Russ, yes? More than once? Joanna Russ, part of the “new wave” of science fiction that Ringo identifies as a proto-SJW movement? Joanna Russ, who was the very definition of what is labeled a Social Justice Warrior before any conservative or reactionary person even though to spit such an epithet from out between their lips? That Joanna Russ? The only way that Joanna Russ does not fully qualify for retroactive SJW status is if the definition of “SJW” actually includes “cannot be published by Baen Books.” And yet, apparently, she could tell a “cracking good tale,” because that’s what Baen publishes. Strange!

 

Paul Kincaid on Bull Spec

“Paul Kincaid’s From the Other Side, April 2015: awards coverage, big announcements, new books, and more” – May 1

Look, I wasn’t going to talk about this, it’s not really in my remit, but the one thing the Sad Puppies have done is guarantee that the Hugo Awards this year are all about politics and nothing to do with the quality or otherwise of the works nominated. A win this year, in any category, and regardless of whether the winner was on a slate or not, will not have the cachet that a Hugo win once had. They have spoiled the awards even for those they are supposedly trying to promote.

 

David Langford on Ansible #334

“Dysprosium & Puppygate” – May 1

Since I consider slate voting a thoroughly bad thing, I expect to make judicious – though not indiscriminate – use of the No Award option on the final Hugo ballot. Meanwhile, all sympathy to John Lorentz’s hard-pressed Sasquan Hugo committee; to Kevin Standlee and others who’ll be running a perhaps overcrowded and fraught Worldcon business meeting at which anti-slate rules changes will be proposed; and to slate nominees who were unaware either that they’d been included or that this placed them in an exposed position on a new battlefield of the US culture wars.

 

Kiesa on Kiesa’s Mutterings

“Hugo 2015 Best Novelette”  – May 1

Up to this point, I was feeling really good about the novelette category. I could, without any reservations place the three slate stories below no award because I didn’t feel they were good. However, then I came to “The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale”. I felt this was a really good story. It is by far my favorite of the five options. The story pulled me in from the first paragraph. I got bogged down a tad during the journey to the alien world. However, once they landed it picked up again and had a great ending.

So . . . I’m still not sure how I’ll actually vote. I’ll probably vote in the order I’ve listed above. However, any stupidity that appears between now and when I place my vote may change my opinion.

 

 

Laura Mixon

“Yes. But.” – May 1

At the risk of yes-butting people over my report on Requires Hate/ Benjanun Sriduangkaew/ Winterfox, I want to respond to a few points that have been made in recent posts or in their comment threads regarding my Hugo nomination.

Kate Nepveu:   Yes, but (1) my statistics were poorly supported or cited, and (2) the wrong people commented on and/or supported my efforts.

Abigail Nussbaum:  Yes, but (3) perverse pie charts! plus (2) the wrong people commented on and/or supported my efforts.

Shaun Duke:   Yes, but (4) Requires Hate has stopped her abuses, apologized, and deserves forgiveness. [UPDATE: while I was adding links to this post in preparation for uploading it, I saw that Shaun Duke has apologized. I’m leaving my response to point #4 up, because I have heard others raising the same point, and I want my position to be clear.]

Geoff Ryman:   Yes, but (5) racism! The Sad Puppy/ Rabid Puppy attack on the Hugos is a much bigger problem than Requires Hate.