Tracks on The Puppy Trail 4/13

What are Hugos for? These awards must have some value says Jim Van Pelt, and he proceeds to define it. Andrew M. offers an answer of his own.

There are peacemakers, and others more interested in the question Frank Capra once posed – why we fight. And if it burns, it burns.

Jim Van Pelt on A Place For Strangers and Beggars

“What Are The Hugos Good For?”

For me, the Hugo is the equivalent of Teacher of the Year. The Teacher of the Year award is part popularity, politics and service. It comes with no money or promotion, but it does pick one teacher to highlight. There were many other teachers that year who also worked hard and were deserving. Hopefully they will get their chance in another year, and it’s entirely possible that they will finish their career without the award. They weren’t teaching to win it in the first place. The good work is really the best reward. The Teacher of the Year recognition is just a bit of special icing.

For readers, the Hugo award can serve as a guide to reading, but not an infallible one.


Andrew M. in a comment on “Discussing Specific Changes to the Hugo Nomination Election: Another guest Post By Bruce Schneier” at Making Light – April 13

When the purpose is to reward diversity and independence, then when people vote in lockstep it doesn’t matter whether their intentions are evil. We should punish them the same.

I think there is a serious issue here which it would help to be clear about. There seem to be two views at work in this debate. On one, the Hugos have worked pretty well up to now, and the new practice of slate voting has disrupted this; the aim is to restore the Hugos to something like their historic way of working. On the other, the aim is to improve on the Hugos as they have been; there is a feeling that they are not sufficiently diverse, and a modification of the system would make them more so.

Are the Hugos diverse? Well, I think there is more than one kind of diversity, and one kind may be the enemy of another. Clearly, Hugo nominees are not all the same kind of work – they can be incredibly different. But they don’t reflect the full range of the field. There seem to be two factors which tend to make a work a Hugo nominee; one, which I mentioned in an earlier thread, is that they have, or at least might be imagined to have, cross-group appeal, rather than being in the core of a specific subgenre. The other, which someone else mentioned, is that they have a kind of uniqueness, rather than just being typical of their author. I think that these are good qualities for nominees to have; they help to pick out the most distinctive and significant work of the year; they mean that the final ballot does not consist of five works each of which is loved by 20% of the voters and hated by the other 80% [this is a rhetorical exaggeration], and that the winner, though not everyone’s favourite, is not just the ‘least hated’ but has fairly wide support.

I think some people are assuming that if a lot of people vote for the same five works (not as part of an organised slate), this will be because they are all similar works – as dh says, five space operas or five feminist works. But I think it’s quite likely that a fair number of people may vote for the same five works because they want to reward diversity and independence – because those works, diverse in nature, are the ones that stand out as significant. None of us knows what three works were knocked off the Novel ballot by the puppies, but I think we could name six or eight works and say with some confidence that the three missing works were among them; and a lot of ballots will have made their picks from among those works. I’m afraid that if the voting system positively rewards difference, we will end up with a duller set of nominees – the epic fantasy nominee, the urban fantasy nominee, the MilSF nominee and so on.

One other thing to bear in mind – I think this harmonises with some things that Brad Templeton has been saying – is the effect of the award as a recommendation. The voters are not the only beneficiaries of the process; we are sending a message to the wider world, about the most significant things in SFF. From the voters’ point of view, it may be fair that clumped preferences should have less weight, so as to give some representation to more people. But if we are sending a message to the wider world, I think we should be telling them about the works which have the most support, not leaving things out because those who like them like a lot of the same other things.


Seth Ellis in a comment on “Not to invoke The Manchurian Candidate” at More Words, Deeper Hole – April 13

I think there’s a feeling that if the Hugo were to contract—rolling back supporting memberships, for instance—it would be a tacit admission not only that the Hugo doesn’t currently represent the breadth of fandom, but that it’s no longer structurally capable of doing so. SFF is just too big now.

I’m not at all sure that’s an escapable conclusion, though. It does seem to me that if WorldCon wants to be more inclusive, it needs to attract a broader range of people to WorldCon, not to the Hugo. At this moment the award itself is the big thing driving membership, it seems. If the Hugo’s the thing, the obvious solution there would be to throw the nomination process, at least, open to the public, and make it a genuinely popular award. Right now the Hugo’s trying to have it both ways, club award and popular representation, and IMO this year is only one example, particularly egregious, of how it can’t really even pretend to do that any more.


Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Mailvox: refuting the rhetorical” – April 13

But it is entirely obvious that we’re not dealing with dialectical minds capable of logic, we’re dealing with rhetorical minds that are swayed solely by emotion. Such minds can be changed, but not by facts and reason. The more successful we are, and the more staunchly we stand, the more of them that will come over to our side for a whole host of “reasons” that will neither make sense to us nor withstand logical scrutiny.



Mary Robinette Kowal responding to Samuel Roberts in a comment on her blog post “Talk with me about being a fan of science fiction and fantasy” – April 11

Thank you for dropping by Mr. Roberts.

May I ask for the courtesy of seeing your article before it goes live? Sometimes quotes are misleading out of context, and I just want to be sure I’m being clear.

[Samuel Roberts] First, do you feel that it’s appropriate to give large gifts to potential voters in the Hugo elections?

I think it would be a conflict of interest if I had anything in the running. My current plan is to decline nominations next year, to avoid conflict of interest since these memberships will allow people to nominate next year as well. When it was just ten memberships, I felt like it wasn’t big enough to sway anyone, but forty-five absolutely could form a block and I think it would be unethical of me to take advantage of that.

Do you feel that voters who have been given such large gifts can be trusted to vote independently?

Absolutely. Science-fiction and fantasy readers are smart, and if you’ve spent any time with them, getting a consensus is like herding cats.

Second, you’ve written that the funding for a large portion of these free memberships are coming from the nominees themselves. Do you feel it’s appropriate for a nominee to give these memberships away like that, when they have a vested financial interest in the outcome of the elections?

That’s why they are donating anonymously, so that they don’t inadvertently influence the outcome.

There’s a reason you prominently describe yourself on your front page as a Hugo winner: it sends a message to potential readers that they should buy your books. Even if you aren’t telling your readers how to vote specifically, given the state of the slate this year (With Sad Puppies-promoted books comprising large numbers of the nominated works), and the demographics of your site (Which are not, to say the least, Sad-Puppies friendly), it must be obvious to the authors purchasing these memberships that many of the votes are going to go to them. Even if you’re not outright telling the people whose voting rights you purchased how to vote, do you agree that these authors are likely to experience a net gain of votes via the memberships they’re buying?

No, I don’t agree. Since there’s at least one SadPuppy among the donors, I feel fairly confident that they are aware that this is attempting to be impartial. I’m also avoiding stating any preferences about any of the nominees.

This $400; was it coming from you, or your publisher?

It is coming from me.

Do you feel it would be appropriate for them to offer to purchase Hugo voting rights for members of their site?

I don’t think it would be appropriate for Vox Day, since he is a nominee and his publishing house has several nominees as well. Larry has already said that he will decline future nominations that avoids conflict of interest. I think that if he makes a similar offer, and doesn’t make suggestions about who to vote for, that it would be a generous offer.



Dave Freer on Mad Genius Club

“Nostradumbass and Madame Bugblatterfatski” – April 13

Here is the first fact, easily verified. On the 11th of April 2014 Larry Correia got his notification of being shortlisted from the Hugo Administrators (very honest people, see quote 2) for LonCon 2014, a WorldCon held in the UK. On the same day the UK left-wing newspaper “The Guardian” – more famous for its typos than the quality of its journalism, but still a large newspaper, a reporter called Damian Walters launched a furious tirade at an American author he had never mentioned before….

The chance that this happened purely by accident – about the same as a fully armed nuclear missile turning into a Sperm whale a few seconds before impact….

Who ELSE had motive? You could make a viable argument that the editors and backers and loyalists of the other nominees had motive. Some probably have opportunity. But still you hit HOW DID THEY KNOW?

Gentlefolk, there are only two possible answers that don’t take Nostradamus or spirit communications from the future dead Hugo Awardees by Madame Blavatsky. The simplest is that quote 2 is incorrect and someone on the Hugo Administration leaked, possibly to someone with both motive and opportunity (A reporter with a major UK publication, willing to run the hit piece. Perhaps many Americans enjoy this situation, and it’s only the rest of us who don’t. Do tell me if this is the case.). Think about it: for someone to engage in this, not only destroys the credibility of the Hugo Administrators, but also reveals someone willing to try to deprive someone of a chance at the award by underhand means and the abuse of power. That’s going to take a very powerful public purge to clean.

Fortunately for the Hugo Administrators, there IS a second possibility, that leaves their hands clean. It’s a long shot, but there is some supporting circumstantial evidence.


Joe Sherry on Adventures in Reading

“If I Ran a Sad Puppies Campaign” – April 13

2. There would be a Mission Statement posted prominently either at the beginning or the end of any SP article I write, because I want it to be clear what MY campaign is all about.  The Mission Statement would include some of the following ideas, though it would be written in a much cleaner and concise manner

  • Sad Puppies 5 (hypothetically) is about building a wide ranging recommendation list of works that both individually and collectively we feel are shining examples of the best of science fiction and fantasy.  Many of these works have often been ignored when by the voters of the Hugo Awards and we feel these works should be considered.
  • Sad Puppies 5 is about bringing in the voices of fans who have not previously participated in the Hugo Awards and it is our hope that they will become a supporting or attending member of Worldcon and will nominate and vote for those works they feel are the best of the year.
  • We do not wish to dictate to anyone what to nominate and reject any attempts to do so.
  • This is not a slate.
  • This is not a campaign.
  • SP5 is a conversation.


sciphi on Superversive SF

“Nuke the Hugo’s?” [sic] – April 13

I have been following with some amusement the whole meltdown from certain segments of the science fiction world in response to the Sad Puppies sweep of the Hugos. As someone who snagged a nomination in no small part due to the publicity that this whole thing has generated and seeing an author I published snag one as well (for a really amazing and deserving story) I have pretty clearly taken a side. I agree with what Larry and Brad are trying to do and think it is a good thing. I’ve been following #GamerGate too and the recent freakout about “GamerGate being involved with SadPuppies” strikes me as extremely amusing. Who is really surprised to discover that geeks who play video games would also be geeks who enjoy science fiction and that many of them are sick and tired of being talked down to by the SJW crowd? You can tell the #GamerGate crowd isn’t heavily involved or the Sasquan organizers would be wondering what to do with all the money they received in voting memberships and the number of votes cast for the Hugo ballot would be an order of magnitude larger than it is.


George R.R. Martin on Not A Blog

A Reply to Larry Correia – April 13

I am just about blogged out on the whole Puppygate thing, having devoted half a dozen posts and thousands of words to it over the past few days. However, Larry Correia responded to some of those posts on his own blog, MONSTER HUNTER NATION, as several dozen of his followers immediately emailed me to point out, and I promised to reply in turn. So here it is….

To make it clear who is speaking, I will set off Correia’s statements with brackets and try to italicize them… though for some reason the italics on LJ have not been working well of late. We’ll see if they work here…..

[[CORREIA: I know I was. So I went out on the internet and started searching my name, trying to find out what the buzz was for the Campbell nominees. I started calling friends who belonged to various writer forums and organizations that I didn’t belong to, asking about what people thought of my books in there. You know what I found? WorldCon voters angry that a right-wing Republican (actually I’m a libertarian) who owned a gun store (gasp) was nominated for the prestigious Campbell. This is terrible. Did you know he did lobbying for gun rights! It’s right there on his hateful blog of hatey hate hate! He’s awful. He’s a bad person. He’s a Mormon! What! Another damned Mormon! Oh no, there are two Mormons up for the Campbell? I bet Larry Correia hates women and gays. He’s probably a racist too. Did you know he’s part of the evil military industrial complex? What a jerk. Meanwhile, I’m like, but did they like my books? No. Hardly any of them had actually read my books yet. Many were proud to brag about how they wouldn’t read my books, because badthink, and you shouldn’t have to read books that you know are going to make you angry. A handful of people claimed to have my read my books, but they assured the others that they were safe to put me last, because as expected for a shit person, my words were shit, and so they were good people to treat me like shit.]]

I don’t condone treating anyone like shit. And I have never been a Mormon or a conservative or a gun-shop owner, so I don’t know what that is like. But I do wonder… you say you were called a liar, that people were angry with you for being who you were, that they said not to read your books… well, no need to paraphrase, you just said it all. But WHO called you a liar? How many people said this stuff, where, in what context? One person, ten people, a hundred?

I don’t doubt you got some criticism, that people took shots (no pun intended) at you… but fandom is large, even worldcon fandom. There are always assholes. No doubt they were there in 1973 as well, in that first Campbell race. I mean, have there ever been two contenders as opposite as Pournelle and Effinger? That was a classic Old Wave/ New Wave showdown, with us other nominees just caught in the crossfire. However, the internet did not exist to magnify it all, and most of the sniping went on in room parties, with no permanent record of the drunken debates. I am not sure that what you suffered was any worse than what they did, way back when.

Also, all these things that people said about you… are those direct quotes, or are you paraphrasing? Because it seems to me that the Sad Puppies love to paraphrase, taking any challenge or criticism and tweaking it around to make it more offensive and insulting. Take this “Wrongfan” moniker I now see popping up on Puppy sites. Neither I nor any of the other SMOFs or trufans or worldconners that I know have ever called you or your friends “wrongfans.” You guys made that up and applied it to yourself. I wish that would stop. People are saying enough hurtful shit in this debate already without making up new insults and suggesting that the other side was throwing them at you.

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57 thoughts on “Tracks on The Puppy Trail 4/13

  1. I do believe it’s the opposition that is sorely mistaken on intent and effect.

    So, there was no intent to get more books that are ‘good stories’ and not ‘message fiction’ onto the ballot?

    The ballot isn’t now quite badly distorted by the effect of a heavy push on a small number of candidates? Or do you believe that John C Wright did, in fact, write 3 of the 5 best novellas in 2014? Or that Marko Kloos wrote one of the best SF novels of 2014?

    I don’t think there has been any attempt either here or elsewhere to hide intent, and the effect is pretty easy to see.

    What is less clear to me is why you don’t have the guts to at least own what you did like some Puppies have.

  2. You keep accusing the SP slate of actively encouraging bloc-voting. Don’t backtrack that to the stated intent now… it just makes you look silly.

    As for whether Mr. Wright wrote 2*/5 of the best SFF novellas of the year, I do not know. From what I have read of his work and the published competition, I would not be at all surprised if he has done so.

    But here’s the thing: if you want to debate over whether or not the works are of the highest quality, I don’t think anyone is going to have a problem with that. But if you instead choose to insult the SP supporters and tell us how we all really did nominate in lockstep and will vote in lockstep (even those of us who didn’t nominate), we’re going to take that insult and turn it right back around and tell you that you’re being ridiculous.

    If you’re going to tell us that the published, dictionary definition of “slate” isn’t good enough and that we really mean something else, then we’re going to point and laugh. What did you really expect?

  3. A slate was published, a disproportionate number of people on the slate end up on the ballot compared to what you would expect. Therefore a number of people, probably, if the maths are correct, 20% of the nominating total voted pretty much along slate lines, which would have a disproportionate effect given the 5% rule and a fairly open (i.e. no secret cabals) field.

    And yes, the dictionary definition isn’t good enough and typically, its the last retreat of people without a point to make or the guts to stand up for something.

    You ran a great slate campaign to force items on the ballot, the Rabid Puppies ran a slightly better one. Own it will you. Stop pretending otherwise.

    You broke it, now you get to own it too. Stop shifting, stand proud little Puppy! I get you’re pissed at us not taking you seriously, but that says more about you than us.

  4. Oh and now I have started reading them, then yeah, happy to debate on quality – but an example of a book that shouldn’t have been on the ballot yesterday that I forced my way through last night just withdrew.

    Kudos to Mr Kloos for that, but sadly that work shouldn’t have made the final nomination, certainly not over Three Body Problem.

  5. The math doesn’t suggest that at all. I’ve seen commentary from both sides, and the highest possible “along slate lines” estimate is like… 8%. Along with that you have dozens of people saying “nope, didn’t vote the slate.” I don’t see why it’s so hard to accept the obvious reality.

    Furthermore, since apparently this didn’t get through the first six times: I didn’t nominate. I didn’t have the time to read anywhere near enough works to form an opinion. Even if I had, it’s quite likely that half of the slate wouldn’t even have made it onto my reading list because it’s outside my area of interest. Thus, when people say they didn’t vote the slate, it comes as no surprise to me.

    Additionally, nothing is “broken.” Campaigning, open or otherwise, has been going on for decades. Slates have always existed. This had been acknowledged by both sides. The difference is that SP did it bigger and better and in everyone’s face. Next year we’ll see more people doing it, and that’s probably the best direction it can go.

    Finally, there were mistakes made this year. The slate should have been larger. More checking into eligibility requirements should have happened. That’s OK. Mistakes can be fixed.

  6. To all of you people nitpicking the term “slate

    Look, the “outrage” over being called a slate, the insistence that there have been slates in the past that are exactly equivalent to the SP/RP tactics this year – it’s so much false equivalence. Or, as I decided to call it today: Vegan baloney. They’re doing their best to make one thing seem like something else, in an effort to pull the old “both sides do it!” Tu Quoque, but we know they’re not the same.

  7. I’ve lived in Chicago all of my life. And for all of that life I’ve lived in neighborhoods that were run by the Chicago Democratic Machine. I know slate voting when I see it. And what the pups did was use slate voting to get the results they wanted. Somewhere Brad or Larry even said that they had fewer “suggestions” than other lists so that the pups would have a greater impact. That, my friends, is slate voting. But let me give you an example of Chicago slate voting. There is a political entity in Chicago called The Chicago Water Reclamation Board. Every four years there are three vacancies. On the primary ballot there are something like 8 or 9 candidates and you pick three. The Democratic ward bosses tell their patronage workers that these are the three candidates they want to win. The patronage workers vote that way and the precinct captains (a precinct is a smaller section of a ward) tell voters that these are the guys the organization want to win. And usually those three candidates win. Think of the Hugo nominations as one huge open primary where every creator is a candidate. I would guess that few of the puppy nominees, especially in the fiction categories, would have won if it wasn’t for the two slates. 200 people voting lock-step or even partially lock-step gave an unfair advantage to the slated puppy nominations.

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