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. @RDF: Nice! And with apologies to Madonna here’s one I was jotting down before I saw yours:

    You’ve got fans, that’s what all the geeks say
    Pixels Scrolls, and blog posts so-o fine
    All your books are custom-made in London
    I’ve got something that you really lack.

    Gonna dress you up in my slate
    All over, all over
    Gonne dress you up in my slate
    All over your fandom. . . . (ellipsis here in honor of @Meredith 😉 )

  2. Well, I’m happy to hear that Alyssa Wong won’t be withdrawing her nomination, despite shenanigans. She was my favourite author of the couple-dozen I got around to reading for the Campbell. I’m only disappointed that I can’t vote for “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” in the short story category, too.

    Oh well, there’s always next year, and “A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers” (so far.)

  3. Shamus Young (RP pick but not even remotely in VD’s wheelhouse) hasn’t said anything apart form a couple of very terse no comments on twitter such as

    FYI: I scrupulously avoid talking politics / culture war. I hate outrage, anger, controversy, and sanctimony. *Never* demand I pick a side.

    Without addressing the Hugo topic, he has posted about why he doesn’t discuss politics etc. His point 5 is “I find the topic intensely, personally stressful.” This is pretty consistent with how he’s acted for years – he avoids controversy like the plague.

  4. His point 5 is “I find the topic intensely, personally stressful.” This is pretty consistent with how he’s acted for years – he avoids controversy like the plague.

    Which makes Beale pulling him in to an incredibly controversial situation just an extra helping of dickishness. One thing that has been consistent with both strains of Pups is their seeming willingness to behave like complete dicks towards the people whose work they claim to love.

  5. Pingback: Open Thread and Link Farm, Ride Art Like An Elephant Edition | Alas, a Blog

  6. @Mark and Aaron: That’s also why I won’t judge anyone who wasn’t or doesn’t align themselves with VD but was on the slate. They’ve been put into an awful position and I think there is a very real worry that they would be harassed if they turned down the nomination or even disagreed with VD.

  7. They’ve been put into an awful position and I think there is a very real worry that they would be harassed if they turned down the nomination or even disagreed with VD.

    Which is another reason for voters to put them below No Award— really, if they feel they can’t turn down the nomination for fear of retaliation, you’re doing them a favor.

  8. Glenn Hauman on April 30, 2016 at 1:03 am said:

    Which is another reason for voters to put them below No Award— really, if they feel they can’t turn down the nomination for fear of retaliation, you’re doing them a favor.

    Good point. And it isn’t like the end of the world to get No Award.

  9. Camestros Felapton: And it isn’t like the end of the world to get No Award.

    I kind of disagree. I think it’s incredibly humiliating for people who appear (or whose works appear) below No Award. Which is why what VD is doing to unsuspecting human shields is so cruel.

    And I think that most of them don’t realize, until after they end up below No Award, just how humiliating it is. (Or perhaps they just refuse to believe that it could possibly happen to them.)

    But the alternative to that is Hugo voters giving works/ nominees a “pity vote”. I won’t do that. If I don’t think a work measures up, I won’t be putting it above No Award — and I suspect that most other Hugo voters aren’t willing to do that, either.

  10. @Glenn Hauman: “Which is another reason for voters to put them below No Award— really, if they feel they can’t turn down the nomination for fear of retaliation, you’re doing them a favor.”

    No, just no. I call bullshit here. It’s doing no one any favors to be a robot and allow Beale to program you. I usually respect and frequently agree with your posts here, but this current kick you’re on to try to burn down the Awards – to dance to Beale’s tune – is way, way off base.

    I agree with @Camestros Felapton that No Award isn’t the end of the world for someone like Gaiman. I also agree with @JJ, with the proviso that I’m thinking of some other people (ones less famous and less obviously likely to get on the ballot anyway), that for some it’s just cruel to No Award unsuspecting human shields.

    Oh, I’ll be using No Award in most categories (all? not sure yet), and leaving most things below that off the ballot (I almost never believe in voting something below No Award; IMHO it’s a mistake). But blanket No Awarding most of the whole ballot*, as you suggest? Including things/people that I, myself, nominated, and things that I was looking forward to before Beale even posted his slate, never mind long, long before the finalists were announced? No way, dude.

    * Most things are from the slate, IIRC. A handful of those are from my own nomination ballot.

    /ballot-stalk (crossing fingers it works)

  11. Kendall: I list things below No Award for one simple reason: my vote order only matters there if my choices above No award (if any) are already knocked out, and if No Award is already not going to win. If there’s an OK-but-not-Hugo-Worthy work, a Bad work, and a Toxic work, I’d far rather that if one of them is going to win it be the OK one or even the Bad one rather than the Toxic one.

    If you have no opinion about which of the works you don’t consider worthy of an award are better or worse, then not bothering to rank them makes sense; if you DO have an opinion, and if one of them is going to win anyway in spite of your No Award, then ranking them is a good thing to do.

  12. @Cally: Sure, I know that. As I said, I almost never believe in ranking below. Usually if I feel it’s not worthy, or (last year; this year’s different) if I’m voting nearly all anti-slate, I just want them all out.

    But last year, for example, I voted mostly anti-slate, but put 4 slated people/items below No Award on my ballot (and a couple above it). I also voted one non-slate item below No Award, since while I didn’t feel it was award-worthy, I “preferred” (so to speak) it over the slate item(s) that I didn’t rank. I believe both of those are the kind of thing you refer to.

    But I must have a very, very high bar for “rank below No Award” compared to most. This probably makes this a weird obsession/pet peeve of mine – irrational, no doubt! I just feel like sometimes, folks over-rank things that, when I hear them talk, it sounds like it’d make more sense not to rank them. But it’s not my business (blush) so I shouldn’t care, I know. 😉

  13. I fear disemvowelling would lead to dire consonant questions.

    The dire consonant, like the dire wolf, was not significantly taller than the consonant we know today; it was, however, larger-boned and more muscular, suggesting that it may have scavenged the bony remains of dead letters.

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