Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Puppy 5/6

aka The Puppy Who Barked Hugo At The Hearts Of The Fans

A modest roundup today because Your Host is under the weather. Will catch up in the next post. Meantime here are thoughts from Eric Franklin, Megan Leigh, George R.R. Martin, Alexandra Erin, Soon Lee and less easily identified others.  (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day Paul Weimer and Rev. Bob.)

Eric Franklin on Gamethyme

“Awards and Geekdom” – May 6

It’s caused a huge stir.  To the point where more than a few nominees have withdrawn, either because they don’t want to be associated with the “Puppies” lists or because the winners of this year’s Hugo awards may feel like there will always be an asterisk associated with that award.

And it’s a shame, because there are some really good works on the list. For example, I really liked Ancillary Sword (which is the sequel to Ancillary Justice, which is well worth the read).

To make things worse, the folks involved with this are using the “We didn’t break any rules,” argument. And have co-opted GamerGate language, referring to their opponents as “SJWs.”

As a gamer, I am well aware that “We didn’t break the rules,” is shorthand for, “I know I’m being an asshole.”  Because I hear it at the table all too often.


Nightly Nerd News On Facebook – May 6

So If I vote for someone on at a Puppy slate I am fighting “puritanical bullies” or “the amoral culture of human degradation” while if I vote for someone on the other slate, wait, there isn’t another slate. Those bullies and their amoral culture must have already subsumed and conquered everyone else. No wonder we are getting metaphors from the Puppies of their donning old gray uniforms or suits of armor to ride forth into battle. The most I see on the non-puppy side is “hey, we’re fantasy and science fiction fans, we should read all kinds of things by all kinds of people.”

Larry seems to have confused the “puritanical bullies” side.

I don’t like being dragged into wars, on either side. So I will read and look at all the nominees and compare some to Locus Award nominees and see if the Hugo nominees are really the best from last year and worthy of awarding.

My past preferences have always been I like all kinds of things from all kinds of people.



“The 2015 Hugo Award Kerfluffle makes me glad I’m not a Trufan!” – May 6

Admittedly I’m a fan of Larry Correia, Brad Torgersen, Michael Z. Williamson, Sarah Hoyt, John Ringo, well almost the whole Baen Stable really.  My politics are socially liberal and fiscally conservative, limited government with a hawkish bent (that’s my military upbringing speaking).  Classic Liberal if you will, libertarian versus Libertarian.   I’m a military veteran and I like military SF, it speaks to me.  But that’s beside the point really.  The sad reality is that both sides are more interested in tearing each other down then they are convincing anybody of the righteousness of their cause.


Megan Leigh on Pop-Verse

“The boys’ club: Why literary awards are so problematic” – May 6

To rectify this perceived problem, a bunch of white males have gathered together to herd the fans back into line. The Sad Puppies campaign, led by Brad L. Torgersen and Larry Correia, created their own list of suggested nominees for all categories. They asked those who were eligible to vote to follow their suggestions, which kept the number of female nominees to a scant 8, most of them being either writers of short stories or editors, none in the best novel, novella, or novelette categories. Not only do Torgersen and Correia take issue with the leftist movement in the voting, they disagree with the inclusion of these kinds of publications within their beloved genre at all.


George R.R. Martin on Not A Blog

“STATION ELEVEN Wins Clarke Award” – May 6

I must admit, I am partial to awards that come with cool trophies. I mean, the honor is great and all, but a plaque is a plaque is a plaque and a certificate-suitable-for-framing is a piece of paper, really. SF and fantasy have been uniquely blessed with some nifty awards. The Hugo rocket is, of course, iconic, and still number one for me… at least in the years when the worldcon doesn’t go overboard with the base. (We have had some VERY ugly-ass bases, huge ones that overwhelm the rocket, but also some great ones). Some people prefer the Nebula, and the early Nebulas with the quartz crystals were really striking, but in more recent decades they have been more hit-and-miss. I also love HWA award, the Tim Kirk haunted house, and of course the wonderfully ghastly head of H.P. Lovecraft (by the wonderfully ghastly Gahan Wilson) that is the World Fantasy Award. (I have one of the former, and three of the latter).




Alexandra Erin on Blue Author Is About To Write

“Sad Puppies Review Books: The Little Prince”  – May 6

Reading this book it is obvious that the author was relying more on demographic appeal than quality storytelling, a fact that is only confirmed when you realize that The Little Prince was written by a Frenchman. It is well-known that the French have been Stalinists ever since they were conquered by Hitler. Did you know that Hitler was a leftist? They teach kids in school that Fascism is the opposite of Stalinism but Hitler and Stalin agreed to carve up the world between them and they would have got away with it if it wasn’t for God’s America.

397 thoughts on “Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Puppy 5/6

  1. Sure, Teddy. Your TOTES still a member of the SFWA. The Board voted unanimously to expel you, you don’t have access to the forums or any of the resources, you’re not in the membership directory…

    “That simply proves that I was willing to let all the 2005 bullshit go, thereby demonstrating the falsehood of some of the claims about my motivations. ” No it proves that you were willing to play nice when you wanted to use his platform to sell your books. That you’re still caterwauling about a ten year old incident shows that you haven’t let anything go. I shudder to think at the list you have in lipstick on your mirror.

  2. Darrell –
    Any SF/F novel is eligible to be nominated for a Hugo. Collaborations included. We had the *entire Wheel of Time* nominated last year, with credit to both authors.

    Novels at the end, middle, beginning or anywhere else in a series are eligible (see Lois McMaster Bujold, J. K. Rowling, and George R. R. Martin among many others). Stand-alones, stunt novels, collaborations, new author picking up where an old author left off, you name it. If it is SF/F and appeared for the first time last year, it’s eligible.

  3. Technically speaking, even if it isn’t SF/F, it’s eligible – what is and isn’t SF/F is left up to the wisdom of the voters.

  4. Snowcrash –
    Well, yes, but the *rules* say SF/F. It’s just that the Hugo Committees traditionally leave that definition up to the nominators.

    The rules also say “Works appearing in a series are eligible as individual works, but the series as a whole is not eligible” but, again, last year the Hugo Administrators listened to the will of the nominators in that area, too.

  5. ‘We point to PNH, Stross and Scalzi having more Hugo nominations than Asimov, Heinlein, and Clarke.’

    Only if you count categories that didn’t exist in 1953.

    If you compare best novel nominations, Heinlein is still far ahead. And collaborations aside, neither Clarke nor Asimov wrote nearly as many Hugo-eligible novels as Heinlen. Stross has already written more eligible novels than either Clarke or Asimov.

  6. Ultragotha

    Thanks for the update about collaborations! If I’d known that at the time the list I put together would have looked quite a bit different. The reason I was trying to avoid series, and to especially avoid novels not at the beginning of a series, was because I was never sure how important it was to read the prior novels to enjoy novels later in the series.

    What my attempt at a SP list did show me is that they seemed to be especially big fans of MilSF (expected), urban fantasy, collaborative novels, and long series. As I’ve argued on other blogs I think that there is simply a cultural separation at play here and both sides are, for the most part, offering very uncharitable readings to the other side.

    GRRM wrote that he believes that the SFF field has grown so large that no single individual can any longer keep abreast of the entirety of what is published in any given year. He remembers a time when that wasn’t true. I believe that it is approximately that period of time where the SFF field began to become too large for even a well read fan to keep up with all of it that the separation of the past and the present that the SPs see in the Hugo started.

  7. Max Florschutz on May 7, 2015 at 11:50 am said: “So much of it at this point simply feels like beating a dead horse …”

    Sometimes, the only way you can tell if the horse is actually dead is whether or not it stops producing horse crap.

  8. Darrell on May 8, 2015 at 8:35 am said:

    “GRRM wrote that he believes that the SFF field has grown so large that no single individual can any longer keep abreast of the entirety of what is published in any given year. He remembers a time when that wasn’t true. I believe that it is approximately that period of time where the SFF field began to become too large for even a well read fan to keep up with all of it that the separation of the past and the present that the SPs see in the Hugo started.”

    When was that, though?

    I have seen all sorts of slippery sliding away from putting a finger on a date on when the change the Puppies claim started.

    I’ve seen it called the last ten years. But the proliferation of so many new books per year dates to what, the 1980s or 1990s? Are the Puppies claiming that that’s when the trouble started? Thirty years ago?

    Their story keeps changing as each excuse falls apart.

    I still haven’t yet seen any list of bad stories that won Hugos because of secret liberal voting cabals. Just a lot of arm waving and repeated insistence that it must be true, it can’t not/i> be true.

    The only two Hugo-winning stories I have seen Puppies willing to name as their evidence are so recent they postdate the Puppies’ founding: “Ancillary Justice” from last year and “Redshirts” from the year before that, both of which could be laid to the bruised egos of runners-up.

  9. Pfft. I need to go buy one of those black market italics closing tags.

  10. Peace

    I don’t know when that date is. I am nowhere nearly as well read in SFF as I was when I was a teenager thirty years ago and even then I read more deeply in New Wave SF than I did, for example, in Golden Age SF. I, however, agree with GRRM that it is virtually impossible to be well read in all of the significant SF authors out now even if we could agree on who is significant.

    What I personally believe the major problem with the Hugo is, is how certain names are on the ballot over-and-over. If we were to compare the Hugo to the Man Booker Prize we’d find very different stories. Take the Hugo novel short listed nominees of 2012 and 2013 to eliminate SP influence: Lois McMaster Bujold, 10 nominations and 4 wins; Kim Stanley Robinson, 5 nominations and 1 win; China Mieville, 5 nominations and 1 win; John Scalzi, 4 nominations and 1 win; Jo Walton, 1 nomination and 1 win; GRRM, 4 nominations and 0 wins; Mira Grant, 3 nominations and 0 wins; Saladin Ahmed, 1 nomination and 0 wins; James S.A. Corey 1 nomination and 0 wins.

    Now compare the above list to the Man Booker Prize. Iris Murdoch leads the nomination field with 6 nominations and 1 win. The actual top prize winner is a 4-way split between Hilary Mantel, J.G. Farrell, J.M. Coetzee, and Peter Carey who have 2 each. Again, remember, this is the Man Booker best of all time.

    If we then look at the same two years (2012 and 2013) for the Man Booker that we did for the Hugo we get: Hilary Mantel, 2 nominations and 2 wins; Colm Toibin, Eleanor Catton, 1 nomination and 1 win, 3 nominations and 0 wins; Jim Crace, 2 nominations and 0 wins; Alison Moore, 1 nomination and 0 wins; Deborah Levy, 1 nomination and 0 wins; Jeet Thayil, 1 nomination and 0 wins; Tan Twan Eng, 1 nomination and 0 wins; Will Self, 1 nomination and 0 wins; Jhumpa Lahiri, 1 nomination and 0 wins; NoViolet Bulawayo, 1 nomination and 0 wins; Ruth Ozeki, 1 nomination and 0 wins.

    What does all of that mean? For 2012/2013 there were 9 shortlisted novelists (Mira Grant appeared both years – she actually appeared for 4 consecutive years) who between them had 34 Hugo lifetime nominations compared to the 12 shortlisted Man Booker novelists who between them had 16 lifetime Man Booker nominations. So even though there were 3 more novelists represented for the Man Booker Prize they had 18 fewer nominations.

    When you look at actual lifetime winners. For the Hugo during the period in question there were 8 lifetime Hugo wins for the 9 shortlisted novelists. For the 12 shortlisted authors up for a Man Booker Prize there were 3 lifetime wins. A difference of 5 wins.

    All of this is completely unscientific but I think it does show how someone could legitimately perceive the Hugo award process as highly biased – unless we honestly believe that the talent pool for SFF writers is extremely small. This goes back to what I’ve said on several other blogs. I think the solution, if one is needed, to fixing the Hugo (and to diversity issues in general) is to read more widely. Find an author you’ve never read before and slot them in between the favorites.

  11. Certain names do show up on the Hugos a lot.

    I don’t see how the solution is publishing slates to stuff the ballot with one’s own buddies.

    Getting more voters interested is, to my mind, at least as important as reading more broadly is to spreading the Hugos.

    Narrowing the nominees down to one elite group is not.

  12. VD: Scalzi was never as popular as he claimed to be. When he said he had 2 million monthly pageviews in 2010, he actually had 305,000. His traffic now is about one-quarter the amount of mine.

    Of course, by VD’s definitions, Joffrey was the most popular Game of Thrones character purely by the number of people viewing GIFs and videos like this

  13. Alexvdl: Sure, Teddy. Your TOTES still a member of the SFWA. The Board voted unanimously to expel you, you don’t have access to the forums or any of the resources, you’re not in the membership directory…

    Aristotle. Therefore he wins.

  14. Peace

    Again, I am willing to take the SP at their word that it was not their intent for the SP3 list to be a slate to be mindlessly voted on and which would run roughshod over the Hugo awards. From what I can gather SP1 (which I really can’t seem to find _any_ information on) and SP2 did not produce slates and had very limited impact on the Hugo. I leave it as a matter of opinion as to whether or not there was collusion between the Rabid Puppies, who clearly suggested a slate to be voted on in lockstep, and the Sad Puppies or if the Rabid Puppies are a mask for Sad Puppy plausible deniability. If SP4 prepares a recommendation list in the same manner as SP3 then I’ll concede bad faith. If that makes me a sap, then I’ll accept the title.

    I am of two minds about getting more voters voting. Informed voting for a literary award seems relatively important. I take this as GRRMs point of not wanting the Hugo to become a People’s Choice Award. I suppose in theory it could be quite possible for tie-in novels, as an example, to sweep the field depending upon the voting demographic and might make the Hugo more of a popularity contest than it is now.

    What GRRM appears (at least to me) to do with his voting is to select a hard SF novel, an epic fantasy novel, etc., quietly ticking away at an internal checklist and then ranking those selected sub-genre novels. I don’t think it would be bad to formalize such a structure for the Hugo, essentially having sub-genre winners facing off for the overall fiction win, but it would add a whole host of new issues. The top two being, voters would be now nominating 25 novels instead of 5 and who, if anyone, would be the arbiter of what sub-genre a novel is allowed to appear under.

  15. @Tuomas Vainio:

    “What made people unhappy?”The same thing that has made people unhappy about the apparent success of the Puppy slates. The nominations were filled by works they were not a fans of. The kind of works they had not even heard of before. The kind of works that do not interest them in the slightest.

    Well, that’s one way to look at the non-Puppy reaction. I disagree that it’s the correct way, and it’s certainly not what made me unhappy with this year’s ballot. No, I was upset that one small faction used unethical means to stack the ballot and squelch everybody else’s opinions. They could’ve picked works I adored, that I would’ve loved to see on the ballot, and I would still be upset because using a slate unethically distorts the nominations.

    So what happens when the award does not cater your interest? You either loose your interest or you get unhappy.

    “So what happens when you vote for Santorum in the primary but Romney gets nominated? You either lose interest or get unhappy.”

    Or you realize that the party is more than one guy and stand behind the standard-bearer. Huh. Guess that doesn’t play as well, eh?

    See, most people react by shrugging it off, realizing that it’s a big field and it’s almost certain that at least some stuff you like will get left off of a fairly-compiled nomination list every year. Some people will disagree with almost any opinion you have, and the nominations are an aggregate opinion. Sometimes you will agree with the result, sometimes not. That’s no reason to either stack the deck and force your opinion onto the ballot, or to give up and stop nominating.

    The Puppies acted like jerks and are being excoriated for it. Their cardinal sin was in group-nominating; everything else pales in comparison. If any other group had used the same tactics to force a diametrically opposite slate onto the ballots, we’d be just as pissed.

  16. @Darrell:

    Genres and subgenres are not defined on the Hugo ballot for what seem to be some very good reasons. The things are fluid and subject to the changing whim of fashion.

    If “Sad Puppies 3: The Revenge for Sad Puppies 2: The Revenge For Sad Puppies 1” fails, we may see other attempts to sabotage the Hugos next year. Hopefully this nonsense will wind down soon.

  17. I’d be doubly pissed off if it was for works I adored. If 3BP had made either of the slates I would’ve been angry because I think it deserves to win on merit of the ideas presented in the text, not because an ideological group wanted to put their thumbs on the scale. What kind of a win is that?

  18. I will try to avoid 2013 and earlier awards, both in the interests of time and to avoid beating RedShirts again (though it deserves it). I will focus on last year’s awards, as they are still fresh in everyone’s minds. Here’s some of the work I read which was published in 2013 and which I think is Hugo consideration worthy:

    Matter of Blood by Sarah Pinborough
    London Falling by Paul Cornell
    The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu
    Something More than Night by Ian Tregillis
    River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay
    A Promise of Blood by Brian McClella
    The Thousand Names by Djano Wexler
    Warbound by Larry Corriea

    Actual Hugo Nominees 2014:
    Ancillary Justice
    Neptune’s Brood
    The Wheel of Time
    Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles

    A quick comparison would show that I, for one, have very little connection with or the finalists. I haven’t even read three of them, though I will be correcting that one way or the other with Ancillary Justice soon.

    I mean, the Wheel of Time as a complete series? Really? If that was proper, why not the Great Book of Amber by Roger Zelazny which was published in 1999? That is actually a Hugo worthy series and should have been considered in 2000.

    The cynic in me would think that Harper Voyager doesn’t have the pull that Tor does when it comes to putting together a coalition to get its work on the ballot.

    And as my cynical side looks at the flood of nominations a certain recurring cast of characters got over a 10 year or so period, all of whom have common connections, and begins to think, “Wow. I think I smell a voting bloc.”

    And then, as a reader, I begin to see this same group go after Larry Corriea who brought up the issue, and I couldn’t help but think, “Yeah, for being “innocent” they sure go on the attack awfully fast.” Which was not persuasive in the slightest.

    And then I looked at some amazing authors, like Jim Butcher, Steven Brust, Will Shetterly, Gene Wolfe and others, who have received little or nothing in the way of attention from the Hugos despite writing some amazing stuff, and compare them to Stross and Scalzi, and think, “Really?”

    I then see that China Miéville, probably among the top ten best authors now living, and see that his Hugo nomination status is essentially the equiavalent of Scalzi’s. Jon Walter Williams is an amazing writer, whom Scalzi is not fit to tie his shoes, and he only has a nomination and win, if I recall correctly. So I’m supposed to believe that Scalzi is the peer of Mieville and 3-4x the writer of Williams? Not hardly. And I think, “They’re taking the piss.”

    So can I “prove” that the Hugo nominations have been passed around by some to a select group over the last decade or so? No. Does it look and smell that way to me? Yes.

  19. I editted too quickly. Toward the end of the next to last paragraph, it should be “So I’m supposed to believe that Scalzi is the peer of Mieville and 3-4x the writer as Williams and Wolfe . . .”

  20. ‘So can I “prove” that the Hugo nominations have been passed around by some to a select group over the last decade or so? No. Does it look and smell that way to me? Yes.’

    Easier to assume it’s just a regrettable narrowness of reading combined with fannish popularity. I mean, I suppose the voters ARE a ‘select group,’ albeit a self-selecting group anyone can join. Occam’s razor, and all that. Presumably a bloc of Jordan fans voted for WoT, and if you could show that it had been heavily organised, we could all harrumph in its general direction, but of they did nobody’s shown it yet, and they didn’t get behind it at the final voting, and a complete newcomer won.

  21. @Steve Moss:

    “So can I “prove” that the Hugo nominations have been passed around by some to a select group over the last decade or so? No. Does it look and smell that way to me? Yes.”

    Yet, once again, what I’m hearing is “Scalzi. Scalzi Scalzi Scalzi” — (to be read in John Malkovich’s voice, a la Being John Malkovich) — And I don’t think *anyone* here would dispute that one author being good at self-promotion can get recognition above what people might consider their “quality”.

    And we can all generate our lists of “people who didn’t get the credit they deserve” — for example, I consider Iain Banks to be head and shoulders above WJW — who I enjoy, don’t get me wrong, but he’s not at the same level — or, for that matter, at least a head above Lois McMaster Bujold. One Hugo nomination, not even for a Culture book.

    But how this is an addressable problem by the mechanisms proposed (largely) by most people — most notably the Puppies — is an entirely different question.

    I mean, if you go by Oscar nominations & wins, Tom Hanks is one of the great actors of all time — I certainly don’t find him so, but I am not a member of the Academy, nor do I have to accept that judgment when it is presented to me.

    Fortunately, fiction writing isn’t like professional sports — we don’t crown a champion in head-to-head competition, we don’t need to figure out what’s fair. We need to figure out what we want to read next, and (as a side benefit, when we can) let the authors whose work we appreciate know we do so. Giving them awards is one way to do it. So is writing them letters or blog posts or going up to them at cons and thanking them.

  22. ‘“So I’m supposed to believe that Scalzi is the peer of Mieville and 3-4x the writer as Williams and Wolfe . . .”’

    Well, were any of those up for fan writing awards, which account for some of Scalzi’s nominations?

  23. Steve… I understand your frustration but that’s how the whole nomination thing works. In order to get it on a ballot a lot of people have to agree with you.

    Enough people liked Lives of Tao to nominate Wesley Chu for the Campbell. Not enough people liked LIves of Tao to nominate it for Best Novel.

    But, Jesus, we get that you don’t like Scalzi. You don’t have to keep telling us.

    Listen, I like Terry Goodkind. I’ve liked his works since I was 14, and I’m going to continue to like Goodkind even though some of his books were pure shit, and the recent ones have been middling to ehhh. But other people don’t like Goodkind. Other people have VALID REASONS for not liking Goodkind, and the fact that Goodkind is, IN MY MIND, superior to other authors whose works have been nominated? Oh well. I guess he’ll have to content himself with scads and scads of cash.

    TL:DR Everyone has books/authors they think should have won, and you hate Scalzi. Got it. Please move on.

  24. Moss – ‘If that was proper, why not the Great Book of Amber by Roger Zelazny which was published in 1999? That is actually a Hugo worthy series and should have been considered in 2000.’

    WSFS Constitution:
    3.2.4: Works appearing in a series are eligible as individual works, but the series as a whole is not eligible. However, a work appearing in a number of parts shall be eligible for the year of the final part.

    The final part was published in 1991. As part of the rules for such the Great Book wouldn’t have been eligible unless substantial revisions occurred.

  25. Steve Moss

    I like Ancillary Justice and Neptune’s Brood far more than any of your list. Tastes differ.

    Of your list I have read the Cornell and the Chu and enjoyed them. I don’t think they are Hugo-worthy novels however. I’ve also read the GGK and I don’t think it is as good as some of his other stuff but wouldn’t grumble if it made the list.

    I would note that not much in your list is on the SF side of the fence, and traditionally fantasy has done less well at Hugo time.

  26. A lot of Jordan fans, realizing this was the very last time a WoT book could get on the ballot, and (IMO) misreading the rules for best novel, thought it would be great to nominate the entire series, since none of the individual novels had ever been nominated.

    I have no idea what the thought process was for the Hugo Administrators last year, but it’s certainly in keeping with “the nominators have spoken” which is traditional for Hugo Administrators, provided the work isn’t just flat out not eligible. I disagree with that rule interpretation but, hey, that’s the way it works. My response to the WoT nomination was to kvetch mildly and place it below No Award. A lot of other people didn’t think it deserved a Hugo, for whatever reasons *they* had, and it ended up low in the final voting.

    That’s how it’s supposed to work.

  27. Some other comments about your list

    A Matter of Blood by Sarah Pinborough was published March 2010 in the UK.

    Something More than Night by Ian Tregillis – published Dec 2013 (and no Kindle version) so maybe not many had read it by the time they were doing nominations. I think publication date can have an effect.

    London Falling did have 70 nominations and River of Stars 66 so it isn’t as though works on your list were totally ignored – just that enough people didn’t agree with you.

  28. So can I “prove” that the Hugo nominations have been passed around by some to a select group over the last decade or so? No. Does it look and smell that way to me? Yes

    If you think the same names popping up repeatedly makes you think that from the last decade you should see the this going back to the 60s. There a bunch of common names that pop up, frequently in fact. McCaffery, Martin, Silverberg, Resnick, Anderson, Pohl, Bear, Willis, Le Guin, Zelazny, Zahn, Egan, etc.

    I mean this could be a select group just passing around the awards and passing onto the new group. Or it could be that people vote individually for their favorite works but that some authors overlap more commonly in the community than others on those list. One of those probably.

  29. Steve Moss

    Rightly or wrongly I’ve always viewed, to use GRRM’s analogy, the Nebula as the Oscar and the Hugo as the Peoples Choice Award. So Gene Wolfe not winning a Hugo, or even receiving very many nominations, is not particularly surprising to me. I’ve never met anyone face-to-face who has read a Gene Wolfe story that I did not recommend to them or give to them as a gift. He’s always struck me as a writer’s writer and a stylist and neither of those tend to endear a writer to the general reading public even when they are arguably the greatest living SFF author we have.

    That, I think, is the issue. Wolfe is little read and those that hear of him usually jump onto Shadow of the Torturer, bounce off into the stratosphere, and never pick up one of his novels again. It is the Bob Dylan effect. Over the years I bought Blonde on Blonde several times because it was supposed to be his ‘best’ album and always wound up throwing it away. Then someone finally gave me Time Out of Mind and Blood on the Tracks and he is now my favorite musician.

    Scalzi on the other hand seems quite competent, if perhaps a journeyman novelist, but the three stories by him that I’ve read (Old Man’s War, Redshirts, The God Engines) were easy, unchallenging reads. You aren’t going to bounce off anything that Scalzi writes and if you like how he markets himself and the sorts of stories that he writes then when award time comes around of course you are going to vote for him. You read everything he wrote, like him (maybe even talk to him on his blog), and there are just a lot more of ‘you’ than the folks voting on the much more difficult and reclusive Wolfe.

    The Same goes for Miéville. He is clearly a brilliant writer. He has the imaginative scope and the sheer literary skill to work wonders. He also writes novels that, to my taste, are akin to my face being shoved into a pile of artfully arranged feces. I think that a lot of people find themselves slogging through his stories because they hate the worlds they find themselves in. Bob Dylan could be at work again here. I tried Perdido Street Station, The Scar, and Iron Council and finally decided I’m just not masochist enough to keep trying what he writes. Maybe I jumped into the wrong works with him and have unfairly judged him. I suspect more than a few people have, so when award time comes he just doesn’t put up the number of a Stross — who like Scalzi just isn’t the writer that Miéville or Wolfe are but is also a fairly easy read. [In the interest of fairness, I’ve only read Stross’s Laundry Files stories but I quite like them.]

  30. The Great Book of Amber would not have been eligible, because it was a republishing of works which had previously been eligible for the Hugos.

    However, as a matter of judgement, and speaking as someone who read the Amber novels as they came out and liked them very much, either the Vinge (which won) or the Stephenson (among the nominees) would have been by my judgement above the Zelazny, by a hair, if it had been eligible.

    You can’t just look at authors in general, but at the specific works on a year-by-year basis.

    The individual volumes in the first Amber series were up against (as winners):
    Ringworld, The Gods Themselves, The Forever War, Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, and Dreamsnake. I certainly think that the winners are the better choice in most of the cases (I’m not so sure about the Asimov, which is actually kind of dull).

    The impact of the series as a whole is a different thing: I agree with Eric Flint about the need to recognize series where the whole is greater than the sum of their parts: Zelazny, Brust, Erikson, etc., and its an area where the Hugos don’t shine.

    On Mieville: if you look at nominations and wins of eligible novels, he’s doing better than Scalzi: 9 novels, of which 5 are nominees, versus Scalzi’s 10 novels and 4 nominations.

    Juried awards are actually likely to have a better variety, because the problem of visibility isn’t as critical. Nomination for the Hugos requires a certain level of exposure in the voting base, even if not complete bestseller status. Publishers typically provide candidates, judges have to sit down and read them. That’s part of the nature of the difference between popularity-affected contests (where some version of a power-law distribution tends to apply) and juried awards. But, you know, we have a juried awrd in SF as well: the Clarke, which tends to be more wide-ranging in its selection (to the point of Cheryl Morgan excoriating them yesterday for choosing a novel that’s too mainstream, even if it was GRRM’s favourite SF of the year).

  31. I’ve read “The Lives of Tao”, and “The Deaths of Tao” too. I enjoyed them a lot, but they don’t feel up to Hugo-level for me. They read like solidly written fun sci fi action adventure, James Bond with aliens.

    I’m seriously conflicted about the Campbell Award this year. Wesley Chu is the only nominee gotten onto the ballot by honest means, but I am not sure I would vote this work as the best first novel of the last year or two.

  32. Wait, wait. Larry Correia accuses Worldcon attendees and supporters of participating in a conspiracy for which he has no evidence, various people respond, angry at such accusations, but from Steve’s perspective it’s the people Correia accused who are “on the attack”?

    Nicely rhetoricked.

    And the idea that if Gene Wolfe didn’t get enough nominations (we’ll leave aside how nominations can be treated exactly like integers for gauging talent), the proper response is to vote for a slate put together by people who wouldn’t nominate Wolfe at all is, well, empty of apparent value, but never mind.

    I mean, considering how much praise folks like Neil Gaiman lavish on Wolfe, it doesn’t seem like the problem is the SJWs and literary types don’t like him, but that the general readership finds him difficult, with his cryptic descriptions and unreliable narrators.

    But hey, the Puppies will fix all that right up for sure…

  33. Darrell,

    > I tried Perdido Street Station, The Scar, and Iron Council and finally decided I’m just not masochist enough to keep trying what he writes.

    All three of those are set in the same dystopia. If you’re willing to give him a try again, I highly recommend _Embassytown_ … which (a) in a sense is more sci-fi in that it deals with a human colony on an alien world, and (b) is set in a world which is nothing like Bas-Lag.

  34. – color me as a guy who really liked most of John Scalzi’s stuff … except I haven’t read Redshirts (it’s on my list I swear!)
    – only read one book by Terry Goodkind and absolutely hated it to the point of vowing to never touch another one of his books again …
    – am reading Ancillary Justice … 50 pages in and having a hard time …
    – I like Jim Butcher and Harry Dresden a lot but sometimes get really tired after reading his stories …
    – tried China Mieville once … Kraken … weird and couldn’t finish it. Have Perdido Street Station queued up to read … eventually.
    – Walter Jon Williams?? Yeah I like him a lot … especially the Dread Empire stuff
    – same for Iain Banks … always wondered why he didn’t get more notice …
    – Peter Hamilton, Alistair Reynolds, on and on … science maybe a bit too much

  35. Just as a fanboy moment, it’s pretty damn cool to be talking in the same thread as Kurt MFin’ Busiek.

  36. Yeah I’d second Embassytown. The City and The City is good. I really hated The Kraken though.

  37. Steve Moss: “And then I looked at some amazing authors, like Jim Butcher, Steven Brust, Will Shetterly, Gene Wolfe and others, who have received little or nothing in the way of attention from the Hugos despite writing some amazing stuff, and compare them to Stross and Scalzi, and think, ‘Really?'”

    My favorite author hasn’t gotten any recognition from the Hugos, Nebulas or World Fantasy Awards, that series being The Psalms of Isaak by Ken Scholes – my pseudonym is a Scholes reference. So why hasn’t Scholes won heaps of awards? My guess is that his series has a very twisty overarching plot, which means you have to read all the previous books in order to understand what’s going on – which goes back to Eric Flint’s essay.

    My point is, people’s opinions and tastes differ. Just because there are people who like different stuff than you (I’ve greatly enjoyed everything I’ve ever read by Stross and Scalzi, with the exception of The God Engines), doesn’t mean there’s a conspiracy or a clique.

  38. Robert West

    I think Miéville is a gifted writer so I’ll take you up on your recommendation and put Embassytown on my to-be-read pile. The synopsis certainly sounds intriguing.

  39. Darrell @11:14

    Exactly so. Likewise for Banks: a great writer, but literary and often dark. Exactly not the kind of popular, entertaining easy read that the puppies say they want more of on the ballot.

    I love Wolfe. For a gateway drug I might suggest Pandora By Holly Hollander and thenAn Evil Guest.

  40. @Will McLean

    The big problem with Banks is that he was British and published in the UK first. ISTR it took quite a while for his work to be well received in the US – which is the same story for Terry Pratchett.

  41. Will McLean

    It is always an honor to meet a fellow Wolfe devotee. As you probably already know, yesterday was his birthday. Long live the Wolfe!

    I usually recommend that people start with either The Fifth Head of Cerberus or The Devil in a Forest though an Evil Guest would be a much more contemporary option. My favorite Wolfe ‘novel’ is his Book of the Long Sun, which I view as a single work in much the same way I do the three books of the Lord of the Rings.

    Since there are a number of recommendations that people have offered I’d like to throw out a few other than just the ones above. The Gift by Patrick O’Leary, The Drowning Girl by Caitlín R. Kiernan, and Peter Straub’s Shadowland, which is sadly not on the Kindle.

  42. alexvdl on May 8, 2015 at 11:25 am said:
    “Just as a fanboy moment, it’s pretty damn cool to be talking in the same thread as Kurt MFin’ Busiek.”

    I was trying to act casual, myself. I’m pretty thrilled, though.

  43. Clif,

    * I also couldn’t get into Ancillary Justice.

    * _Kraken_ turns out to be a terrible first introduction to Mieville, because it’s really just a long, complicated in-joke. I gave it to my husband, and he *hated* it.

    _Perdido Street Station_ is a much, much better introduction, although it is also one of the least pleasant dystopias I’ve ever read.

  44. well since we’re tossing out books … does Stephen King not count as science fiction? I know he’s mostly horror … but 11/23/63 was a time-travel story … should’ve made the 2011 shortlist IMO. Several of his books are more science fictiony than some who get nominated.

    What about Andy Weir’s The Martian? I understand it’s not eligible because of some self-publishing rule etc …

  45. Kraken is the only book I’ve read by Mieville. It’s likely to remain that way.

  46. Clif – the issue with _the Martian_ isn’t that it was self-published, it’s that it had already been published before 2014 and so isn’t eligible this year.

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