No, The Hugo Nominations Were Not Rigged

Just to pull this out and give it its own post for emphasis.

So, apparently Larry Correia and Vox Day offered on their Web sites a slate of suggested nominees for several Hugo categories, and several of their suggested nominees hit the final ballot. This has made a number of people feel things ranging from annoyance to outrage, with the commensurate suggestion that, if such a thing is not illegal, then it’s at least just not done. So let me offer a couple of thoughts.

1. Does what these two fellows have done contravene the actual Hugo nomination rules? If they answer is “no” (and it does in fact appear to be “no”), then fair play. Game on.

2. As to the “it’s just not done” thing: Well, now it has. And as it’s been done, and it’s by all indications entirely legal, wasting time griping that it’s happened, with regards to this year’s voting, seems like frittering to me. Again: Game on.

3. But it’s also not entirely honest to say that it’s not been done before, either. Lots of people suggest or at least remind people of their own works for consideration (I do the latter); lots of people suggest or at least remind people of the works of others for consideration. Just this year I suggested Abagail Nussbaum for Fan Writer; there she is on the ballot. Was my recommendation causative? Maybe, maybe not (I suspect not — she’s built a reputation over a number of years), but the point is I made the recommendation.

The new wrinkle here would be Correia/Day allegedly exhorting a comprehensive slate of nominees for the purpose of annoying people they would like to annoy, rather than with regard to the quality of the works offered. I’m not sure that’s the whole story (From what I can see, I think the list was composed to highlight works these fellows found worthy, and also, as a bonus, they thought they’d annoy some folks in the bargain). But again, even if the least charitable interpretation holds, see point one and point two. You may see this as a cynical, contemptuous of the awards and the people who vote for them, and just a real dick move. But even if it were, eh. Yet again: this is the hand the Hugos are dealt this year. Let’s go ahead and play it.

4. More to the point for me, even if we were to grant that a slate of nominees was engineered to get on the ballot for the purposes of annoying some voters, and to make some obtuse point about politics and the Hugos, why should anyone be obliged to play along by those assertions? To paraphrase a point I made yesterday on Twitter, how terrible it would be if someone elbowed their way onto the Hugo list to make a political point, and all that happened was that their nominated work was judged solely by its artistic merits.

If work was shunted onto the list to make a political point and without regard to its quality, and it is crap, you’re going to know it when you read that work, and you should judge it accordingly. And if a work was shunted onto the list to make a political point and without regard to the quality, and it’s pretty good, you’re going to know that too — and you should judge it accordingly. If you believe that these fellows pushed their way onto the list to make a political point, nothing will annoy them more than for their work to be considered fairly. It undermines their entire point.

It doesn’t mean you give a work an award, if you find it lacking. But you treat it fairly. And yes, it’s entirely possible that in this formulation, anything less than a win will be seen by them as evidence of politics. But again: Why would you accede to such assertions? If their works win, good for them. If they lose, that’s life. Speaking as a six-time Hugo loser, who once lost a Hugo by a single vote, let me just say that when you’re a grown-up, you learn to accept you don’t get everything you want.

5. Please also keep in mind that even if you believe that the list is a cynical exercise, there are people and work on that list who may be well worth consideration, who may or may not have even known they were part of (or would have consented to) being part of a cynical exercise. Consider that you would be doing them (and the Hugos) a disservice to dismiss them out of hand. I’ve seen rumblings of people suggesting they’ll put everyone on the Correia/Day slate below “no award” no matter what, but if you’re doing that, you’re making these fellows’ alleged point for them. Again: Why do that? It’s nearly as easy to read a work (or at least, read as far as can) and decide it’s just not for you. And if it is for you, well. Surprise!

6. On a strictly personal note, at least one of these fellows apparently wishes to assert that the reason they’re introducing politics into the mix here is because I did it before them, i.e., that this is somehow really my fault. Well, no. One, just because this dude doesn’t like me, it doesn’t make me responsible for his actions. That’s the sort of “he made me do it” logic you give up when you’re twelve. Two, I’ve certainly made people aware of my work, and given space on my site to let others do the same; I’m not aware of ever having said “here’s a slate of people you should nominate for this award, including me.” Totally legal and no reason not to, if you think it’s something you want to do. Not something I would want to do, or have done.

But if the suggestion is that I’ve been strategic about getting onto the Hugo ballot at times, well. It would be disingenuous of me to suggest I haven’t. I have, and certainly I know that’s annoyed people before. But, oh well — and no matter what at the end of the day what I was on the ballot for had to face the other nominees in the category. Sometimes that work fared well, and I took home a Hugo. But I also have my share of fifth place finishes, too.

I think maybe this is why I’m less annoyed with the Correia/Day slate than others. If they’re on the ballot due to crafty strategy, well, good for them. A nice trick if you can manage it. But now they have to compete. I look who’s on the ballot with them, and this is what I have to say about that: Good luck, guys. You’re gonna need it.

7. Ultimately, here’s what I think about this year’s slate: It’s got some stuff on it I already know I like. It’s got some stuff on it that I already know I don’t like. And it’s got some stuff on it I haven’t read, so I’ll read it and decide what I think.

In other words; it’s a Hugo slate pretty much any Hugo slate in any year. I plan to treat it exactly like I treat any Hugo slate in any year. You might consider it, too.


260 Comments on “No, The Hugo Nominations Were Not Rigged”

  1. Well, I’d suggest that the greater concern isn’t so much the possibility of campaigning exercising too much influence, than the fact that a man who called N.K. Jemisin an “ignorant savage” has made it onto the shortlist. Time for a bit of soul-searching there, SF world. (Those interested may click my name for my Hugo commentary.)

    But you are right in that there’s nothing in the Hugo rules saying a writer cannot get on his blog and encourage his fan base to nominate him or his friends, and you can’t accuse the award of being “rigged” when such campaigning isn’t expressly disallowed. And once a work that was vigorously campaigned for ends up shortlisted, it’s now available for everyone not in said writer’s base to read. And they will, as you point out, be judging its merits without built-in favoritism.

    The question raised is whether vigorous campaigning devalues the Hugos as any kind of benchmark for actual excellence in the genre. Do the award’s winners and nominees really tell us what the great work in the genre was for any given year? Or do they just tell us who has the most motivated and enthusiastic fan base?

  2. I look at that slate, and I see so many good names on it – Sofia Samatar, Aliette de Bodard, Anne Leckie, Cat Valente, Rachel Swirsky, Foz Meadows, Kameron Hurley, Julie Dillon – that it’s hard to remain annoyed past the initial jolt. It’s a pretty amazing slate on the whole, with so many writers and artists to be excited about. I just wish that could be the story and the takeaway.

  3. It would be nice if all awards were judged blind – leaving the work to stand entirely on the merits. Wouldn’t it be nice if all works could be proposed by the author, the publisher, the fans – then made available in one place to readers and voting members without names (and possibly, without titles) – so that politics and self-promotion weren’t an issue? Tor publishes a list of “Hugo-eligible” works. Why shouldn’t others employ strategy and self-promotion? I don’t think that, alone, constitutes being a jerk – though there will always be those who feel it simply “isn’t done.” Like self-publishing. Lobbying for nomination, if it is done to deliberately annoy, or doing it like a spammer – well, the work would have to be pretty special to survive that approach. But then again, it’s like any other election. If you don’t vote, you don’t get a say.

  4. Thomas M. Wagner:

    That’s the question that the Hugos have contended with for decades; this is a variation on the theme. They’ve done all right over the long run.


    There are indeed wonderful things on the ballot, and wonderful people.

  5. I try to read the entire ballot but I don’t always succeed in the time allotted. I seriously doubt I will read all the WOT books to be caught up on the last one to read it and give it a fair chance. But the contest is a popular vote of people willing to pony up the cash and everyone grumbling about it needs to remember that point. In fact that is the main reason I started buying a supporting membership because I was tired of what I thought were good stories not not making the ballot.

    Find me at a con sometime and I will rail about some great short stories I thought should have gotten some recognition by the field and were ignored because they were not published in magazines.

  6. Holly I know Baen also published a list of Hugo eligible works but I never saw anything from any of the other major houses.

  7. I concur. This is a (rather extreme) version of campaigning, just done in bad faith rather than in a good faith attempt to promote those who might be overlooked. So far as I can tell it’s not “illegal” for any definition of the word.

    There is, of course, no reason why the “VD” candidates should win… nor does a defeat of the entire slate constitute a moral victory for their proponents *unless we make it one*. The simplest way to deny them one is to vote on the merits of the *nominees*, not the *nominators*. (This has the added bonus of not requiring anyone to have any exchanges of any kind with the nominators.)

    Vote for the good, instead of against the bad, and the good will win.

    — Steve

  8. Look, no matter what you say, you can’t convince me this isn’t about the obvious political leanings of Pacific Rim.

  9. I think we’ll be dealing with a bit of irony in the long run here: by doing whatever they did to get on the ballot, they’ve moved the largely behind-the-scenes “politics” to a place where no one concerned with the industry can ignore it.
    That action will, I am pretty sure, motivate a lot of people to make sure that they actually participate this year – and may very well get others to drop the bucks to join Loncon3 so that they can make their voices heard.
    So, as far as “politicizing” the Hugos is concerned, this may very well prove out as having been a very positive thing.

  10. Although I understand the spirit of number four, I disagree with it. If somone engineered their way onto the ballot in order to annoy and make political points (I doubt anyone did, but that’s your given in number four), they have caused harm in doing so. The fact we can simply judge them on their merits at this point allows us to mitigate much of the damage, but not all. Simply appearing on a Hugo ballot is an honor, and one of the things it does is announce that all the those works are good and worthy of note. That person who engineered their way onto the ballot has caused harm to the person who would be on the ballot had they not done that engineering. They don’t receive that honor, nor the spike in popularity and sales that comes with it. Instead that spot goes to someone who (in the hypothetical) gamed the system.

  11. I have been at war all my life with “it’s at least just not done.” For example, for Nebula nominations, I recommended Harlan Ellison’s novel-length screenplay of “I, Robot” as Best Novel. Isaac Asimov recommended it too. People said: “Dr. Asimov, the rules clearly state that you cannot nominate yourself.”
    “He said “I am not recommending MY “I, Robot.” I am recommending Harlan Ellison’s novel-length screenplay of “I, Robot”. Then there was my fight about the rule that one could not nominate one’s spouse, pointing out that it allowed nominating your lover or mistress, and thus undermined “Family Values.” Heh heh heh…

  12. I’m thinking that it is time for me to get in on the Hugo ‘fun.’ My brother has been a stalwart Worldcon voter for some time now and he loves to tell me about all the great books, stories, etc that he gets in his voter packet. So this is the year I join in. Mind you it is not to vote down the folks mentioned in the post, but because I agree with our host that there need to be more voices in total being heard on the ballot (or so I assume he was saying by reminding us that we can still go register).

  13. It could be seen as crass if one had a button that linked to ones own nominee ballot as I have seen in some webcomics. But I’ve never noticed any of that in this blog. To be totally impartial perhaps people would be mollified if you didn’t mention the Hugos at all. But that seems extraordinarily silly as you may as well hand print your novels and only hand them out to people you like because stacking them on the shelves of book sellers is surely you pushing your product on people.
    The only other thought I might offer is to keep a weather eye for any marketers who might be acting a bit “crass” in the mistaken belief they are doing you a favour.

  14. Crystal Shepard:

    That’s life, unfortunately. Someone is always in spot number six; often something in the slots above is there for reasons other than pure literary consideration. I can’t imagine that when “Shadow War of the Night Dragons” was on the best short story ballot, whoever was at number six on the list wasn’t irritated with me (not to mention the year a bit in which Gollum swore at people was on the Dramatic Presentation list — and won).

    We’re not disagreeing that something worthy may have been left off the ballot this year due to something on the slate being there. I am saying something worthy is usually left off the ballot. And also, it’s entirely possible something worthy is on the ballot because of this effort that might have been overlooked — we’ll have to read and find out.


    It does not appear so.

  15. Since I have not read the nominated works, I cannot comment on whether or not they are “deserving” of being nominated. I am just going to role with the works being award worthy, because that is how I role.

    But, as far as the Hugo nominations being rigged? Well…

    When the announcements were made, and the inevitable grumblings began, I was immediately reminded of the Harlan Ellison’s Watching video, from a SciFi Channel video commentary he made in the middle to late 1990s, that was posted on his You Tube channel a few weeks back. “Uncle Harlan” went on a rant about how a “vastly untalented person” (his words, not mine) managed to “buy” an award by using the evil Internets to beg for votes. Below is a link to the video, should you wish to watch it.

    My thoughts on the matter?

    Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.

  16. Thomas: “Time for a bit of soul-searching there, SF world”

    Millions (tens of millions?) of people each year engage in purchasing and participating science-fiction work that qualifies under the Hugo nomination rules. Fewer than 2,000 nominating ballots were received (although a record number), and 1,595 in the best novel category. I believe nominating numbers are released later.

    It doesn’t require rigging or fixing a ballot box. Last year, the number 5 slot on the novel nominations required just 102 votes to beat out the #6 slot (it received 118). Stats: The range was 118 to 193 nominating ballots (with Mr S) at the top for Redshirts last year.

    Doesn’t require a conspiracy: just enough new voters who became members to vote (perhaps to make a political point) or existing ones who actually liked the work and don’t know about the writer or approve of the views in it. (Just to be clear: N.K. Jemisin is one of my very favorite writers, and I am appalled by Correia’s views about her in specific and the notion that one kind of human is worse than another based on genes.)

    This just motivates me to put my money where my mouth is and finally join the group so I can vote! I hope others feel the same. I already read a good portion of the material that gets nominated, and this would mean I’d be sure to read it all!

  17. @missingvolume: “Holly I know Baen also published a list of Hugo eligible works but I never saw anything from any of the other major houses.”

    I wish all the houses would publish a list of all their eligible works. It would make tracking them down during the nomination time much easier.

  18. A fair and reasoned response at a time when fair and reasoned could be so easily trumped by emotional and knee-jerk (not that there is anything wrong with an emotional response – folk will vote according to their own criteria – that’s democracy!)

  19. @glennfleishman: It was Vox Day, not Larry Corriea, who opined so inexcusably upon N.K. Jemison.

  20. Glenn, I never suggested, even slightly, any rigging, fixing, or a conspiracy. I did, however, suggest that it was regrettable that one of the results of heavy campaigning this year was that a genuinely horrible excuse for a human being ended up shortlisted.

    Still, it would be nice, in the end, if that didn’t take away from the many fine and talented people who have also been nominated, and deserve their accolades.

  21. “horrible excuse for a human being ended up shortlisted.”

    But isn’t it the work that’s nominated in this case?

  22. Glenn Fleishman (@GlennF) makes a very cogent point of which I think most fans aren’t aware – that the Hugos are decided by an incredibly small slice of the population which enjoys science fiction. I had no idea until I saw the numbers last year just how small a slice that was.

    The vast majority of fans seem to be like myself – what I call “Small-f fans”. We don’t go to conventions, or do so only very rarely. We might participate in a very limited way with a local fan group, possibly for something specific, or perhaps join an Internet-based community for a particular body of work (Whedonesque comes to mind), but otherwise often don’t have much connection to the larger community. This is beginning to change, as people become aware of authors & creators who engage with their fans outside the cloistered spaces of conventions.

    In any case, this is my first year as a Hugo voter, after over 4 decades as a science fiction & fantasy fan. I’m going to try to read as much of the nominated works as I can before I vote (though like many who haven’t read the “Wheel of Time” series yet, I’ll pass on that for now). But I know what’s my favorite for Novel this year, and it’s going to be a steep climb for another work to topple it from its place.

  23. To add to Glenn Fleishman’s point, to nominate and vote on Hugos, you need to have a Worldcon membership, AFAIK. If you aren’t going to WorldCon, paying for a membership just to vote can be….well, lots of people don’t have that money, or would prefer to use to buy more books. I’m not paying 60 bucks or whatever just to spit in VD’s eye and prove that I am sufficiently horrified by him. I’ve already said plenty about him elsewhere at other times. Other folks have too. I don’t think his mere presence on the ballot is indicative of the state of greater SF communities; rather that he knew how to game the system.

  24. You make good points. I want to underline #5. People we dislike don’t have an anti-Midas touch that turns everything they touch and point at to dross.

  25. If SF was completely removed from conservative/right-wing reactionary [ad hominem goes here], then Larry wouldn’t still be on the best-seller list if Warren Ellis’ assertion was right.\

    We can be *better* than that, however, and Larry and Vox Missspelling’s unworthy (having subjected myself to them, as well as a passel of other dreck I wish I hadn’t) emissions shouldn’t receive either a rocket or a mugshot, because they’re facile crap.

  26. I wasn’t going to vote this year after it went up to $60 last year for a supporting membership, but it appears to be down to $40 (US) this year. Plus I just got my tax refund. So yeah, there’s a good chance. (Hey, maybe next year I’ll be able to go to Spokane! See relatives while I’m out that way. Hmm….)

  27. It is the work that was nominated, even if in his case it was nominated as the result of campaigning his online fan base, and not as the result of the story’s having garnered general presence or acclaim among the SF readership at large. But as has been said, since there’s nothing in the rules that disallows campaigning for votes, and many other people do it, he has a perfect right to be on the ballot. And as with Orson Scott Card, if people are aware of his appalling personal beliefs, and still choose to read his work and judge it on its merits, then at least they are making an informed choice.

  28. Glenn Fleishman (@GlennF): Nominating numbers for each category in general (high and low values) were visible in the video of the nominations announcement at 26:28. I found the video quiet interesting with some nice commentary about the number of past nominations in the categories.

    As far as buying a supporting membership just to vote – there are a lot of us who are buying a supporting membership to get the hugo packet and vote. If it is a good slate of nominees there is a lot of pleasurable reading ahead for not too much money, plus you get to vote.

  29. I find this slightly humorous as I’ve been putting food on my table for several years now thanks to outright advertising done for the Academy Awards slots. Mind you, these are not just posts on a website, but paid advertising in tinseltown’s two major industry rags. I won’t argue that such chest-beating makes for a better (or worse) Hugo, but I would point out that Hugo wins or even noms offer a very definite financial value. As such, I would expect to see the award handled pretty much like any other product in which there is a short supply and large economic value. People rob banks and swindle medicare for a reason.

  30. Apologies! I mixed up what Vox’s actual name was. Thomas wasn’t suggesting you thought it was rigged; but you did think this reflected on SF in general. Given the small number of voters, this particular example doesn’t seem to.

  31. [Deleted because, Ulrika, you went from zero to hyperbolically tiresome even quicker than usual. Go away – JS]

  32. “…the contest is a popular vote of people willing to pony up the cash …”

    The latter criterion is much of the problem. Look, in all of SF about 2000 people nominated these works and people were cheering the increase in participation. When your nominating population is that small, campaigning can have a huge effect especially for the less popular categories.

    Now, it’s not possible to ban campaigning because where the line is drawn doesn’t have a good answer. Even if they outlaw putting up a ballot can they really ban an author from posting “Here’s my work, please vote for it?” posts? Of course not.

    If the Hugos want to strongly mitigate the effect of campaigning the would have to eliminate the cost of voting memberships or perhaps ditch the idea of having to be a member at all. As I understand it, though, the funds from those are important to the cons each year, so I don’t see that happening. Also, that would have its own side effects – newer, less-wellknown authors would have a harder time being nominated since an open process without any filters would be biased toward authors with name recognition and authors who can muster a lot of people vis social media.

    That said, I’m with Crystal that merely being on the ballot helps an author. It’s not just about whether other deserving works were left off, it’s that the Hugos bill themselves as “Best X” awards. It won’t happen, but I really wish the Hugos were like the People’s Choice movie awards where the award was for “Favorite X” which would make it clear to the more casual fans that these are popular vote awards. It doesn’t matter to people who know how the awards are selected but I think most SFF readers probably aren’t informed about all of that. I know I wasn’t until a few years ago when I started reading this blog.

  33. @JS I agree that sometimes (perhaps always, even) there are works not on the list that are better than some on the list. But there is a system (admittedly a flawed one) in place designed with at least some care in order to reduce that unfairness and actually put only the best books on the list. The fact that it can’t be perfect (too many books to read, the “favorite author” phenomenon, etc) doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea to prefer it to function more fairly rather than less. If someone games the system (say, by bribing thousands of voters) they thereby make the system less fair. (Again, working within your hypothetical.)

    Is it a world class moral issue? Heck, even if I found out last years best novel winner had hacked the computers and won completely unfairly, I’d not feel a hundredth the horror I feel at kids starving in the street. If you’re point is that I’m making very fine moral distinctions regarding fairness, I have to agree. :)

  34. I’m unbothered by it all. I see it more as just the glorious last stand of the bigots, all rallying around their flag (which says “no non-SWM allowed”) ready for battle with the evul librealz. The privileged always seem to rally for one of these in the dying days of their privilege. If anything this is good news; now we all know that those ideas are on the way out, and so do the likes of Vox et al otherwise they wouldn’t be so fervent in trying to defend them.

  35. Hugo nominations are a perennial problem for me. Due to financial considerations combined with a horrible SF section in my local library I rarely read books until they’re available in mass market which makes me a year behind. I don’t feel comfortable nominating works I haven’t read, obviously. However, I have generally found it worth the cost of a supporting membership for the voter packet. So, I have no one to blame for this year’s slate than myself. But, I am also not interested enough in most of the nominated works to make the cost of the membership worth it this year. However it would really make me happy if Mira Grant, Cat Valente, Mary Robinette Kowal and most particularly Queers Dig Timelords win. Especially Queers Dig Timelords.

  36. Shorter Scalzi: The Hugos continue doing what they have always done, and what the Nebulas do, but do so blatantly with a pixel trail. In-joke Shorter Scalzi: The Analog Mafia has become The Baenie Bunch.

    There are multiple reasons to buy a supporting membership–nominating and voting, of course, but also voting on where the next few WorldCons will be, and getting all of the Convention materials and general memorabilia without having to travel to and stay at the location.

    The “surprise” of this list is that none of the Short Stories appear in a publication that is only sold. (Apex makes its back issues available online.) It is left as an exercise whether that will remain true when the WorldCon returns to Norteamericano, but, speaking strictly for me, I find that much more interesting than the idea that a misanthrope or a military sf writer with a following can get onto the final ballot.

  37. Here’s a hypothetical question for someone who knows… is it against Hugo rules to pay for the voting memberships of others? Because if not, you could lay out about $10,000 get about 500 or so people to vote you onto the ballot for almost any category and even if you don’t win, get the notoriety (esp if the scheme is revealed!) from being a nominee.

    Someone PLEASE tell me this is against the rules. Please.

  38. Tammy used to catch a lot of shit when she was a SFWA member for being a “Super-Recommender” – which meant, basically, she read a lot of SF and Fantasy besides her own work, and nominated the stuff she liked! Apparently a lot of SFWAns found something…wrong about Tamora Pierce actually bothering to read SF/Fantasy novels not published by herself or by a tight group of friends/cronies….

    That’s one reason she’s no longer in SFWA.

  39. Rickg17:

    If obvious ballot stuffing occurs a Worldcon can put a stop to it, yes (it’s been done before). But the rate of return, value-wise, makes the investment required not worth it, generally speaking.

  40. The only suggestions on the Correia list I’m familiar with / have read are Toni Weisskopf and Schlock Mercenary, and they are both excellent. So I hope voters will, in fact judge the nominees on their merits rather than blindly voting against anyone Correia and VD promoted.

    Except for VD himself. Call me inconsistent, but I think the Athenians had it right with the whole practice of ostracism–sometimes somebody is just too much trouble and you need to get rid of them, principles be damned.

  41. @rickg17: I pay for my wife’s attending membership, I don’t see how you could tell whether she filled in her online ballot or I filled in both of ours (or she did). I think that if someone like a book publisher was caught doing this as part of a book promotion budget things would change, but how would you tell if some multi-millionaire author (and I can think of several authors who probably are that wealthy) were to buy a vanity Hugo?

  42. The thing is, from what I can tell there are only two nominees for Best Novel that I can consider “clean” in that they’re not the result of a campaign run for reasons other than perceived quality or a campaign to cause what I consider a bad interpretation of the rules (Wheel of Time the series, as opposed to Wheel of Time volume whatever). That makes only a minority of the nominees, in my opinion, valid, and thus seriously taints the category. With apologies to those two nominees, I’m seriously considering No Award at the top to indicate my feeling that the category has been so screwed up that it shouldn’t be awarded.

  43. Glenn, I never suggested, even slightly, any rigging, fixing, or a conspiracy. I did, however, suggest that it was regrettable that one of the results of heavy campaigning this year was that a genuinely horrible excuse for a human being ended up shortlisted.

    A couple of points:

    1) I don’t think my utter contempt for Vox Day needs repeating here, but anyone who thinks he’s the first Racist Sexist Homophobic Dipshit who’s made his way onto the Hugo ballot (or pretty much every prize ever) needs to have their reality scanners re-calibrated.

    2) If it was up to me, Donna Tart wouldn’t probably be suffering a hangover from celebrating her shiny new Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Alice Munro would have won the Nobel years ago, and the cast of Battlestar Galactica would have a shit load of Emmys on their collective mantlepiece. It would be nice if everyone just realized my taste is practically perfect in every way, and distribute the award season booty accordingly, but won’t be holding my breath.

    3) Please correct me if I’m wrong, but it is possible to change the Hugo nomination rules to disqualify anyone who actively campaigns for a nod. Right? I’ve no idea how that would work, but it strikes me as a little rich to complain about it now because it turns out a RSHD has fans.

  44. Correia might be a gifted writer, but I fully expect that Seanan’s legions of fans will bury him in the voting.

    Some people vote for what they think is the Best work.
    Some people vote for the work they liked the most (which is not the same as best work),
    Some people vote for their favorite author no matter how bad the work is.

    This is why sometimes absolutely fabulous works win, and other times complete drek wins.

  45. I’ve received guest supporting memberships from friends who know I’m a big reader but since I don’t attend Worldcons didn’t know i could do this sort of thing or it wasn’t a priority for my money. They encouraged me to read as much of the material as possible and to vote as I would. This year my husband bought our supporting memberships unfortunately I didn’t get my act together to do nominations. I will vote on the ballot this year and expect to do better on nominations next year.

    There are authors I won’t read/support for a variety of reasons VD being one OSC another. Who they nominate I’d look at for themselves. This year has been a banner year for authors who got added to my “don’t read due to treatment of women/minorities”. I need to check out the Hugo list and start reading/rereading books/shorts. Good to know some will be “don’t read” so hopefully I can make it through them all in time to vote.

  46. @Mark Horning

    This is why sometimes absolutely fabulous works win, and other times complete drek wins.

    What some call dreck others call fabulous… Your definition of dreck might be brilliant writing to me and vice versa…

  47. “Seanan’s legions of fans will bury him in the voting.”

    Right that’s the bottom line, isn’t it? The Hugo’s are stuck in “popularity” contest.

    Maybe you can’t even have a voting-based award that’s honest anymore. If Author X has more fans that vote than Author Y, it’s just how it is.

    But it begs the question: why not just be done with this and hand out Hugo’s like Gold records and the MPAA.

  48. Right that’s the bottom line, isn’t it? The Hugo’s are stuck in “popularity” contest.

    There was never a time when they weren’t.

  49. “…it is possible to change the Hugo nomination rules to disqualify anyone who actively campaigns for a nod.”

    I don’t see how because I don’t see where you’d draw the line. Is “here’s a list of my work that is eligible” campaigning? Or is it only campaigning if you say that plus “…and I’d appreciate your vote”? What about when people campaign for others saying something like “I loved Novel X and you should all strongly consider it for Best Novel”?

    The Hugos are problematic (to me of course) because they do 3 things that I don’t think fit well together. First, they promote the winners as best in category vs fan favorites and best is an assertion of quality. Second, the winners are nominated by a tiny minority who are those people who can figure out that they need to buy a membership in a convention* and can afford it. Third, that they are a popular vote award by that minority of fans.

    To me, the nominations are more useful as a suggested reading list than anything else. The Campbell award nominees this year are really five excellent authors and while I’ve read two of them (Naam and Chu), there are three new authors whose works I’ve not yet read. If nothing else, a process that exposes new authors to a wider readership is good for that action alone.

    *buying a membership in a convention is not a particularly intuitive idea, either.

    John – thanks for clarifying that point. It’s good to know that if such a thing came to light it could be disallowed. I wonder what would happen if it came to light after winners were announced, i.e. someone gloated about it after their author won? Ah well, here’s to hoping we never find out.

  50. Gold records are based on sales: 500,000 units, to be exact.

    The MPAA (i.e. the Motion Picture Association of America) is a ratings board. They do not, afaik, hand out any awards. If you meant AMPAS (i.e. the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) and the Oscars, that’s an industry award, voted on by members of an industry association. Such awards already exist for SFF writing: the Nebulas in the US and I want to say the Clarkes in the UK, for example.

  51. Don’t you just wonder how John’s reasoned and reasonable reaction is being misinterpreted by the racist, sexist, homophobic dipshit? I can see that entire crew gnawing nervously while they try to figure out what angle John is playing, and how this will all benefit the beta males in the end.

  52. @dpmaine:

    Right that’s the bottom line, isn’t it? The Hugo’s are stuck in “popularity” contest.

    I’m sorry to tell you this, dpmaine, but awards are popularity contests by definition. And for the sake my own sanity, I’ve long since reconciled myself to the simple fact that the world lacks my exquisite taste in all things. And, frankly, it’s more than a little condescending for anyone (myself included) to sneer at qualified Hugo voters because (gasp!) they ended up getting a lot of things on the ballot that aren’t my cup of tea for all kinds of reasons.

    Such awards already exist for SFF writing: the Nebulas in the US and I want to say the Clarkes in the UK, for example.

    Pedant point: You’re probably thinking of the BSFA Awards, which are determined by the membership of the association. The Clarkes are handed out by a jury.

  53. I think that campaigning for a Hugo has long been a very common practice, whether for oneself or for someone else (friends, colleagues, works you really like, people whose career accomplishments you think have been overlooked for too long, etc.). Yes, people/works also get on the ballot or win without campaigning. But campaigning isn’t unusual.

    It seems to me that what’s attracting so much attention in this particular instance is that a couple of (even by the standards of the sf/f community) unusually bellicose people have been successful in their campaigning this year.

    But despite the internet personae those people exercise, what they’ve actually done is say to their friends, colleagues, internet audiences, etc., “I really want a Hugo for this work and encourage you to nominate it. And these are some other people I’m going to nominate and suggest you consider nominating, too.”

    And that’s not unusual. Nor is suggesting to friends, colleagues, or innocent bystanders that they purchase supporting memberships just to vote in the Hugos.

    It’s also certainly not as if no one has ever before felt deep revulsion for the personalities of some of the Hugo nominees.

    What I think is unfortunate, though, is that focus on a couple of bellicose personalities (and not on their nominated works) is so far stealing the spotlight from the rest of the ballot.

  54. I’m more annoyed by the WoT thing in best novel, to be honest – I’ve read Ancillary Justice, which I thought was very thought provoking, and Neptunes Brood, which is also pretty good but didn’t grab me as much. That some bloated fantasy series is going to win is extremely annoying.

    I’ll read VD’s thing, as it will be in the voting package, but considering the series title is word salad, I don’t have my hopes up.

  55. “a military sf writer with a following can get onto the final ballot.” — as with those guys such as George Chesney [“The Battle of Dorking” (1871)], H.G. Wells [“The Land Ironclads.”], Robert A. Heinlein, H. Beam Piper [Uller Uprising (1952) based on the events of the Sepoy Mutiny], Joe Haldeman, Brad Torgeson…

  56. @Laura Resnick:

    What I think is unfortunate, though, is that focus on a couple of bellicose personalities (and not on their nominated works) is so far stealing the spotlight from the rest of the ballot.

    Sadly you’re not wrong, and I guess I’ve fallen for Dipshit Voldemort’s trolling. Again. :) And that would be a shame, because of the stuff I’ve actually read/seen the quality/crap (IMHO and YMMV, of course) ratio is pretty damn solid this year. And even the stuff I’m meh about is more “not my cup of tea, and that’s OK” than “this reeking turd begs – nay DEMANDS – the human race be scoured from the Earth with nuclear fire” awful.

  57. @rickg > No, the funds raised from supporting memberships are not an important consideration, and, barring a handful of finance wonks, nobody in Worldcon fandom would put the integrity of the awards above the small financial benefit to the convention.

    The Hugo Awards, also known as the Science Fiction Achievement Awards, are the best in defined categories, as judged by the membership of the World Science Fiction Society. The “Supporting” membership fee is not about raising money, it is simply to filter a level of interest in the community and convention. There are free-to-vote awards, like the Locus Awards. The Hugo Awards are considered important largely because over the years the participating voters have taken the process seriously, with the effect that the works and individuals recognized are generally of such high quality that future awards are thought to be of similar quality. It is exactly a “reading list”, i.e. we are saying that the works awarded are worth reading if you haven’t heard about them otherwise.

    One could buy memberships to try to manipulate the nominating and voting. But this is a community and society that has been doing this for 70 years, which is to say, it would be hard to do this secretly, and a lot of people would react in the opposite direction if it appeared some group was trying to manipulate the outcome to favor a given work for reasons other than quality; this isn’t our first rodeo. Science fiction fans love thinking about hypothetical what-if scenarios and conrunners and other active convention members do have ongoing discussions about these and other possibilities.

    I suspect that if voters come to the conclusion that Mr. Beale’s nomination was a matter of politics more than an assertion of the quality of the work, that work might end up below “No Award” in the results, and I don’t see how that benefits his reputation as a writer.

    This situation is a minor kerfuffle due to Mr. Beale’s past conflicts with SFWA, so it’s worthy of observation, but it’s not a big deal and other situations like this have happened in the past. The active participation of the membership tends to filter out political or single-fandom groups from winning in the end, which means the winners tend to be of high quality, which is the outcome most people would want.

  58. I find it slightly sad that people keep talking about the author’s nominations and not the books or stories themselves; I’d hate to see the Hugo’s turn into the Oscars where it isn’t the best work that wins but the best entry by a recipient who is perceived as ‘worthy’.

  59. If he ends up below No Award, when he calls himself “Hugo-Nominated Author” we can call him “Voted Below No Award Author.”

  60. $40-60 just to vote on the Hugos may seem a bit steep, but for me the fact that you get the reviewer packet with 7-10* Hugo and Campbell nominated novels, plus all the novellas and shorter works, makes it a great deal.

    As far as the “Seanan’s legions of fans” effect goes, yes, I’m one, and she’s a friend, but I’m not a fan of the zombie genre, and I wouldn’t have read the second and third volumes of that series if Feed hadn’t been stunningly good. And she’s often competing with other authors that I’m also a fan of (which is obviously a part of her cunning plan to achieve world domination.)

    I normally make it a policy not to vote in categories where I haven’t read all the works before the deadline, so I haven’t always voted on the novels (much less the movies or the Favorite-Dr-Who-Episode category, for which I’m still a couple of Doctors behind on my Tivo queue), but the reviewer packet means I at least get to read the short-form works and the art and vote on them.

    (*The number depends a bit on whether you’ve already read some of them (especially the Campbells, which stay eligible for two years), and whether some works get nominated for both awards, or whether some are for authors/subgenres that you really just don’t read.)

  61. Alex – thanks for the information. However I have to comment on this sentence: “The “Supporting” membership fee is not about raising money, it is simply to filter a level of interest in the community and convention.”

    It filters nothing more than by ability and willingness to pay and understanding the rather unintuitive idea of buying a membership in a convention. There might be people who have a high degree of interest in ‘the community’ and in SFF in general, but who cannot afford the fee and others who feel that paying to vote is objectionable in some fashion.

    Let’s not pretend that those who pay are necessarily more serious fans than those who cannot or choose not to pay. After all, every year I see people who freely admit they didn’t read the works in a category or only read one or two of them… but voted anyway. That’s practically the definition of casual interest and the voter who does that can’t even say “of these nominees, X is the best” because they’ve not read the nominees. Yes, I understand that one might read a work and think it’s worthy of the Hugo regardless of how good the others are (I’m kind of like this in regards to Ancillary Justice) but doing this speaks to the seriousness with which that voter approaches the duty of voting.

    Finally, and this is a PR issue mostly, I wonder how many fans understand the process of memberships, voting etc. I didn’t before I read Scalzi’s blog and I’ve been reading Sf for 40 years. Of course, this excuse is of declining importance since a fan who is interested can Google for details and, as long as a given con has the rules clearly posted, will find them.

  62. So, as in other types of elections (because it reads to me as if this is actually an election, the same way the People’s Choice Awards are basically an election,) a minority opinion can prevail if voter turnout is small.

    Otherwise, as a novice to the whole Hugo process, this clearly explains to me why Wheel of Time is on the list at all, so thank you all for that.

    This also makes me think that I will buy a Worldcon membership next year for two reasons; 1) it’s on the west coast; and 2) I’ll be able to vote.

  63. I actually read Mr. Day’s nominated piece (available for free via his website). It’s actually not bad. Interesting premise, competently executed. Not the greatest thing I ever read, but not terrible, either

    This doesn’t mean I’m becoming a fan of the man himself. I have a long history of enjoying works by creators who were terrible people in their personal lives. Warren Zevon was a raging asshole to everyone who cared about him. Jackson Pollock was a wife beating drunk. Ezra Pound was a virulent anti-semite and a fascist traitor. And so on.

  64. I decided to get a supporting membership this year, for the first time in ages, in order to vote. Turns out to be a good idea – I’ll read through each of the nominees, and vote on their merit, as John suggests. Given my previous encounters with the contentious nominees’ works, I expect not to be voting them very highly, but we shall see. The one exception to this general principle may be the ‘ton-a-book’ series. Even if all of them end up in the voting packet, I can’t see having the time to read all of them – even skimming might be too arduous and time-consuming a task…

  65. “The MPAA (i.e. the Motion Picture Association of America) is a ratings board. They do not, afaik, hand out any awards.”

    Right, they don’t hand out awards. They hand out GOLD/PLATINUM/MULTI record status based on verified sales. That’s used to be their biggest single function, certifying gold recordings (and now, lobbying for bad laws).

    If the Hugo simply devolves into each author getting nominations done by rabid readers, and then the authors turning their ready made fans onto the voting process, it simply becomes a form of reader-counting, and if that’s all it’s going to be, than the MPAA model is a better one to follow. Just give the award to the top seller/reader/whatever in each category.

  66. dpmaine, etc:

    You’re thinking of the RIAA, not the MPAA. The MPAA doesn’t give out any sort of awards.

    Bear in mind, incidentally, that the music industry has has its own raft of voted-upon awards, the Grammys (bestowed by NARAS), as do films of course (see: Oscars).

  67. Some people are talking about those with supporting memberships as though they were the majority of those eligible to nominate.

    For Loncon itself, the latest figures as I write are 4469 Adult Attending and 1232 Supporting members. I don’t have figures to hand for the other relevant Worldcons but it seems likely that the majority of those who bought memberships giving nominating rights did so because they actually intend to turn up at the con.

  68. Yes, yes, thank you. The RIAA, not the MPAA. It’s cancer – many varieties, same disease.

    Both the Grammy’s and Oscar’s are much closer to jury awards (with large juries). The academy especially is not something that’s easy to get into. It’s certainly not $40 head charge.

    The better analogy is like the people’s choice awards or American Idol or something like that is more broadly democratic (little d).

  69. After reading all that screaming on Twitter I decided to spend a couple hours reading Opera Vita Aeterna (it’s the last Novelette in ‘The Last Witchking’) and found it to be very good. Strangely enough, it’s a tale of friendship and tolerance between two individuals of different races/religions. The beginning laid the adjectives on a bit thick but VD hit his stride in a few pages and turned out a tale that, in my opinion, would be worthy of a Hugo.

    Some people won’t be able to get past who wrote it. That’s fine… but I hope they decide to divorce the author from the art and read it with an open mind. It’s a fine piece and I am happy I decided to give it a chance.

  70. Phyllis, no Novelette where the author hits his stride a few pages in is worthy of a Hugo. Novelette!!!

    For what it’s worth, Beale does have at least one good short story out there, I think it’s entitled The Deported and is free on his website, but all of his fantasy has been weighed down by his imagined importance.

  71. First time poster here so hopefully I don’t incur the mallet. I have several thoughts:

    Hugo Awards: I have never voted on these nor have I really cared much if a work receives an award or not. Keeping things in perspective these are awards for art, or at least entertainment. As such they are for the most part completely subjective and influenced by popularity. However, there is a decided monetary interest for some parties to see certain works when awards. Do TOR authors and editors want to see TOR books win? No less than Baen authors and editors. So yes there will always be a political dimension to awards.

    As for this year’s slate Corriea and Day did not do a whole lot of promotion on their blogs for the Hugo. Yes, they advocated a certain slate (Mostly Corriea with Day linking to his posts) but those works would not have been nominated if they did not have fans. Mr. Corriea is at least as popular an author as those nominated along with him, and perhaps more so. It should be no surprise then that when a bestselling author says to his readers, “Hey you like my books, why not nominate one for an award and here’s some others you might like so nominate them too,” those work are subsequently nominated. Nothing wrong with that in my view.

    Vox Day: Mr. Day is an interesting case. I had not heard of him before his run for SFWA president and his subsequent ouster from that organization. I confess I now read his blog on a regular basis. Whether you agree with his views or not I think any attempt to ostracize him and marginalize him from the SF community is going to fail. SF/F is a diverse field which should have room for authors of different race, gender, sexual orientation, and political views. So if you try to shut an author up because he says something that you deem offensive, whether it is Mr. Scalzi or Mr. Day, don’t be surprised when blowback occurs.

    If Mr. Day wins the Hugo it could reflect the political diversity within the field, or it could mean there are a significant number of conservative SF fans who are dissatisfied with the sometimes liberal bent of SF (blowback), or it could mean he just wrote a better work than his competitors in the subjective eyes of these voters. Which gets me back to my original point, these awards are mostly meaningless, except as a selling point for publishers.

  72. Well said, Mr. Scalzi.

    The Hugos are literary awards. What matter if the writer is a jerk or a saint if the work is good? Clearly enough people think highly of all the nominees’ work to qualify them, so what exactly is the problem? God forbid someone we don’t like is allowed to compete in a contest with someone we do like. That would be, like, honest, and reflective of a free society. Or something.


  73. Both the Grammy’s and Oscar’s are much closer to jury awards (with large juries).

    Yes, rather like the Nebulas. I feel like I’m repeating myself.

    The better analogy is like the people’s choice awards or American Idol or something like that is more broadly democratic (little d).

    Odd construction here aside (a better analogy than what? And better than whose analogy?), that’s pretty much what everyone has been trying to tell you.

  74. @ barzhac

    Having spent some time reading and responding to Beale’s blog (aka Vox Day), I very much doubt that anything said by John engenders critical thought. Beale is a coward, among other things. This cowardice means he is too scared to admit that anyone outside of his ideological circle has anything important to say. Talking with him is like talking to a frightened child, except that children at least can often be coaxed into confronting their fears by tapping into their innate curiosity for new experiences.

    As a fan of science fiction, it’s sad to me that a person so bereft of the ability to speculate about the positive power of alternate viewpoints is now on the shortlist of one of the biggest awards within speculative fiction.

    That said, maybe his story is good, or even great. Maybe he deserves to win the award. Maybe a little more fame would shine a light on his troglodytic views. Maybe if he won, the fame would expose him to enough different viewpoints that he would realize that the worldview he defends is sad, constrained, and dim. But I doubt it.

  75. @ jmac

    If you think that Vox represents a desirable “political diversity within the field” or that he is an acceptable counterbalance to the “liberal” bent in modern science fiction, I feel bad for you. This is a man who would love for black authors to be ignored, ostracized, and otherwise treated as subhuman. His writing reflects that. The more that people support his writing, especially in a major award, the more that science fiction as a genre demonstrates an appalling lack of vision about the changing nature of our world.

  76. By the way, the nominees for the regular Hugo awards are here and the 1939 Retro Hugo awards are back here.

    I’ll be interested to see how much of the retro material gets into the ballot packets, if any (I assume some of it depends on how effective the US “life plus 999 years” copyright extension process has been in the various countries where the nominated works were published.)

  77. Doc–

    “Yes, rather like the Nebulas. I feel like I’m repeating myself.”

    Yes, my point is that the Hugo’s would be poorly served to turn into the Nebula’s. The value of the Hugo is that it’s not American Idol. If it continues to accelerate into full-fledged popularity contest it will be as prestigious as as People’s Choice award.

    Put it this way, the Hugo’s are more like the Oscar’s and Grammy’s – both awards with large jury like selectors, but they are moving more towards awards that are not historically rigorously selected.

  78. I’ve seen people say above that they consider it counter-intuitive that you have to buy a membership to a convention to vote for the Hugo Awards. I think, but cannot be certain, that some people here think that the Hugo Awards and the World Science Fiction Convention are separate entities, separable from one another, and that the Hugos are just the highest-profile of the various awards usually handed out during Worldcon (or sometimes NASFiC) such as the Golden Ducks, Prometheus, and Chesley Awards. This isn’t the case at all.

    The Hugo Awards are presented by the World Science Fiction Society. The membership of WSFS is, by definition, the members of the World Science Fiction Convention. In effect, WSFS farms out the annual administration of the society to that year’s Worldcon committee instead of having a central organization. (Except for the tiny committee that I chair that manages the service marks like “Worldcon,” “Hugo Award,” etc., but that’s a side issue; the WSFS Mark Protection Committee doesn’t run Worldcon, nor does it administer the Hugo Awards presented at Worldcon by WSFS.) You can’t separate the Hugo Awards from WSFS and the Worldcon. They’re not a graft-on entity.

    Yes, the Worldcon existed before the Hugo Awards, but the Worldcon created the Hugo Awards and their members, the World Science Fiction Society, owns them. The Hugos aren’t separable from the Worldcon any more than the Nebulas are from SFWA.

    Instead of thinking of that $40 as a convention membership, pretend for a moment that it said on the label “Membership Dues: World Science Fiction Society.” To attend Worldcon, you need to be a member of WSFS (that’s the $40) and you also have to pay the “convention supplement” (that’s the difference between $40 and the cost of an attending membership). This makes Worldcon (the annual meeting of the World Science Fiction Society) just like many other societies who limit attendance at their annual meetings to their members, while also charging an additional fee to actually attend that conference.

    Incidentally, the reason basic supporting membership prices went so high was due to a structural issue with the WSFS rules that more or less forced Worldcons to charge $60 if they didn’t want to lose money on every attending membership they sold. (Details upon request; they’re technical and a bit Inside Baseball.) WSFS voted to change the rules to permit Worldcons to lower their prices without beggaring themselves, and the very first Worldcon held after the rules change went into effect (Loncon 3) did in fact lower the basic membership price by one-third.

  79. That’s the sort of “he made me do it” logic you give up when you’re twelve.
    Ideally, yes. There are, however, two main classes of people who don’t: the people who run protection rackets, and bullies/abusers. (Not to mention every parent who’s ever said, “Don’t MAKE me come over there!”, but that’s a much lower-toxicity version.)

    When the Correia thing blew up a while back, I remember commenting on Jim Hines’ LJ that the Hugos are, in point of fact, a popular award, and moreover one which is decided by a relatively small vote total, and that Correia was therefore at liberty to encourage his friends to vote him up. Apparently he’s done so. But it won’t be just his friends voting on the winners.

    Re voting on the merits of the work… some people are happy completely separating the work from the author. Others aren’t. At the end of the day, each of us will have to decide where we, personally, draw that line. (I have my own personal suspicions that the decision may not prove to be that difficult, but that’s another story.)

  80. I took the bullet and read VD’s story for y’all.

    Competent? I guess. I mean, all the words are spelled right. Plot summary: an elf tries to find Jesus. He doesn’t.

    This takes about 90 pages (it seems a lot longer) and 90 years in which nothing much happens, very dully. We get a lengthy description of the elf (spoilers: he looks just like an elf: pointed ears! Blond hair! Tall and slender!) and the medieval monastery he seeks Jesus in, which is a bog-standard medieval monastery. And the wooden doors. And food. And so on.

    The thesis, as far as I can tell, seems to be that God is Real (and so Are DemonS!), but elves can’t be saved because they’re soulless, or something.

    This was self-published, right? I can’t believe an actual editor bought this thing.

  81. Delgar:

    “Plot summary: an elf tries to find Jesus. He doesn’t.”

    Did he check between the couch cushions? You find many things there.

  82. I read Vox’s story, and it’s really pretty much average stuff. Nothing particularly innovative (or controversial), the quality of the writing is mediocre at best (it certainly hasn’t been professionally edited), and the resolution is more or less unsatisfying. It’s not awful or anything, but I’d consider it filler material in an anthology at best. That said, I didn’t feel like washing immediately after reading it, so that’s quite a feat for Mr. Beale.

  83. dpmaine: no, you’re exactly wrong on this. The Hugo award is much closer to American Idol than the Oscars. This is a feature of the award, not a bug. It’s a fan award, voted on by fans, handed out at a fan convention. The Hugos aren’t quite as open as AI or the People’s Choice awards, insofar as voting is not open to absolutely anyone who calls an 800 number, but rather only to paying members of WorldCon. But membership is hardly restricted. WorldCon only asks that a (in the grand scheme of things) nominal fee be paid for voting rights. That’s it.

    The Nebula awards, being the ones given out by the SFWA, is the award in SFF writing closest to the Oscars and Emmys. That one is handed out by a professional organization, one with stringent rules for membership. It’s an industry award.

    What you actually want is for the Hugo’s to become more like the Nebulas. You want the Hugos voter pool to become more strictly controlled, yet still allowed to be quite large, in the belief that doing so will result in awards handed out on “merit”, rather than “popularity”. I put those descriptors in quotes because, if you’re under the impression that entertainment industry awards are anything but a popularity contest, you clearly don’t follow entertainment industry awards closely. Besides, there’s no reason for the Hugos to become more like the Nebulas because there already are Nebula awards. The occupy different niches, and serve different purposes.

    As to your assertion that popular awards are somehow bad, well, that’s a value judgement, isn’t it? But I’m willing to label your value judgement as bordering on elitist bullshit.

  84. @Todd Stull

    Did you read what he wrote on his blog or are you just repeating someone who probably misquoted him as saying? This is what is wrong with the so-called tolerant left, they are tolerant as long as you agree with them one hundred percent. If you dare to hold a contrary opinion than they do their best to discredit you.

    Mr. Day’s writings highlight the differences between races and cultures, those differences exist whether you want to admit it or not. And he does so in a blunt manner, yes, but I don’t think what he writes rises to the level of racism. He has never argued that whites are superior to blacks, only that their cultural outlook may be incompatible at times. You are free to disagree with his views, but to absolutely block him out and say he is disqualified forever from any form of legitimization is a naive and juvenile proposition.

    If he is awarded a Hugo will you boycott the awards? You may feel sorry for me, but at least I won’t let differences over political opinions with some minor entertainers (which are really all that Scalzi and Day are) prevent me from enjoying their work.

  85. @jmac

    “And he does so in a blunt manner, yes, but I don’t think what he writes rises to the level of racism.”

    So when VD calls an African American writer an “ignorant half-savage” that doesn’t rise to the level of racism? Can you please explain that?

  86. @jmac, Since the Hugo awards winners are announced at the Hugo Awards ceremonies, the closest anyone can do to boycott the award to an individual would be to walk out when the winner is announced.

  87. You know, its interesting how most of the comments here basically conflate Vox Day and Larry Correia as being essentially in lock step with each other, something I have found to be far from the case. Sure, Vox mentions a lot of the stuff Larry puts out, and Larry is most definitely a firm believer in free speech and not censoring anyone, but they are hardly the same in political outlook.

    Frankly Vox annoys me to no end, and I firmly believe his views are ultimately wrong-headed. Larry on the other hand generally is quite a nice guy who nonetheless doesn’t hold back in arguments because he’s passionate about what he believes in. Is he rude at times? Probably. Is he racist, sexist, homophobic, or whatever other kind of bigot? Hardly. The fact is part of his charm as an entertainer is arguing with the extreme fringes of both political left and right, though admittedly more so with the left.

    So, yeah, he encouraged his fans to go out there and pay for worldcon so they could nominate his book and, oh hey, here’s some other stuff he thought was great, maybe you should look at that too. Isn’t that the point of setting it up this way? The fact is his fans liked what he wrote enough to do it. I’d argue that for most it wasn’t political in any way – the fans I’ve seen comment on his blog with any regularity are hardly politically unified in any case.

    What really matters in the end, for me, is the simple fact that all of the stuff he’s nominated I believe should have been. Dan Well’s prose is good enough that I read through three of his novels in a 24 hour period, while working a full shift and getting enough sleep. Brad Torgerson’s stories, for me, brought back the sense of wonder and excitement I haven’t seen in short Sci-Fi stuff since I finished reading through Asimov’s robot stories. (Though if you know of any other short-story collections that would fit the bill, I’m all ears.) As for Toni Weisskopf, I defy anyone to give me good reasons she doesn’t deserve a nomination for the amazing work she does at Baen.

    Of course, you’re free to disagree with me – which is why there’s the voting in the first place.

  88. [Deleted for either being appallingly racist, or not understanding why they’re being appallingly racist. Either way, not here – JS]

  89. Re: Marion: “So, as in other types of elections…a minority opinion can prevail if voter turnout is small.”

    Well, for very small values of small, yeah, but the voting method for the final ballot makes it a bit harder for a determined minority to prevail than for such to get a work on the ballot. As you may not be aware, while Hugo nominations are determined by a straight “What are the top five nomination getters in this category (modulo some fine tuning rules)”, the final voting uses the Australian voting system.

    So, A, B, C, D, and E are on the ballot in the Best Whatever Comment category. When you vote, you don’t just vote for your favorite, say, D. No, you rank all five, plus No Award. So your ballot might be 1 D, 2 A, 3 C, 4 E, 5 B, 6 No Award.

    When the votes are counted, first all the 1s are counted up. So let’s say your total, from 100 total votes, looks like A 10 B 15 C 15 D 35 E 10 No Award 5. Assuming no entry hit a majority (51 in this case), the lowest is eliminated. In this case, No Award. So the counters go back to the 5 ballots that ranked it first and now treat the #2 vote on each as the current valid vote for that ballot. Let’s say they all like A next, so the next round’s totals are A 15, B 15, C 15, D 35, E 10. Now E is the lowest, so do the same thing. Continue eliminating an item each round and redistributing those ballots’ votes to their next item until either one item has a majority or you end up in a tie among all remaining items (very rare, but it has happened).

    The effect of this is that something favored strongly by a small number of voters may do OK for a few rounds, but usually gets eliminated. The winner isn’t necessarily the favorite in the first round, but a combination of something some people really liked and other people tended to like more than most other items on the ballot.

  90. By mostly ignoring awards, I handily avoid dealing with all this stu…

    *receives slap to the face*

    Okay, I deserved that. But I do think all this hewing and hawing is precisely what attention whores like Vox crave. Why not just ignore his drivel, vote for the competition and move on? Why feed the troll?

  91. As I mentioned before, when they lose (assuming they do) the whine will be that they did not lose on merit, they lost because of a giant liberal conspiracy designed to keep the right thinking people down while promoting a particular political ideology. That is a win for them in their grievance driven illness. Oh sure, they would LIKE to win but will be much happier losing as it will allow them to angrily shake their fists and bellow about how they are victims.

  92. Jmac:

    If you think what Mr. Beale writes does not rise to the level of racism, you are either ignorant or naive, or possibly both (You might also be being tendentious, or are enough of a racist yourself that his racist views seem normal). But, yes, he’s a racist, flat out and simple.

    However, a long discussion as to why Mr. Beale is a racist is off-topic to this discussion, so let’s table it here. Not only you, but others as well, please.

  93. Regarding this bit:

    “To paraphrase a point I made yesterday on Twitter, how terrible it would be if someone elbowed their way onto the Hugo list to make a political point, and all that happened was that their nominated work was judged solely by its artistic merits.”

    That’s a good point – but it irks me if said nominations elbowed their way onto the Hugo list to make a political point, AND thereby bumped off a “regular” nomination that would otherwise have made it on.

    So yeah, these nominations will be judged on merit in the next round (I haven’t read them, but I understand one nomination isn’t even really a story, it’s some kind of statement) and will most likely not win. But it’s a shame that there might be some other gem out there that WOULD have got onto the nomination list if it weren’t for these, and MIGHT have been good enough to get people’s attention and actually win.

  94. Doc–

    “. The Hugo award is much closer to American Idol than the Oscars. ”

    I think you are talking about process. The Hugo is much closer to the Oscars in value. The Nebula’s are closer to the People’s Choice or American Idol ‘crown’. This is opposite of how it is in other venues – where the more selective the jury pool, the more valuable, prestigious, etc the award.

    Why is this? No clue. The SFWA apparently doesn’t have the cultural pull of the Academy or maybe it’s just too new. Or maybe it’s because they have similar winners in many years. Is it like the BAFTA’s, still a nice award but a second-run to the big show?

    Regardless, it would be bad for the Hugo’s to become like the Nebula’s in terms of prestige.

    That’s not to say that the Nebula Award doesn’t have a commercial effect. It surely does (just like AI and People’s Choice awards).

    It’s not elitist to point out that one award is worth more and more prestigious than another. There is nothing wrong with popular awards.

    It “should be” that the Hugo’s are way, way down the list compared to the Nebulas, based on how they are setup.

  95. With vocal homophobes Larry Correia and Brandon Sanderson both nominated for Best Novel I’m quite disgusted the voting. What a shocking state for the Hugos to be in! I’ve always thought the SF/F community to be somewhat progressive. Clearly, I’m wrong.

  96. Dàibhidh Ualraig Càidh:

    With regard to Mr. Sanderson, I think it’s worth it to let his own words speak on the matter, with the understanding that this piece was written three years ago now, and may or may not reflect his current views. If he still believes in civil unions rather than marriage for same sex couples, then I continue to disagree with him on the subject, and think that his position is morally wrong. Outside the issue of marriage, I can say in my personal experience of Mr. Sanderson, who is a friend, I have never seen him treat anyone with less than respect, nor have ever heard him speak or act negatively with regard to any particular group (including gays and lesbians). Make of that as you will. I can’t speak to Mr. Correia’s positions.

    With that said, this is not the thread to delve deeply into either Mr. Sanderson’s or Mr. Correia’s personal social positions. It’d be a derail from the point at hand (however, this recent post might be useful to consider).

    I will say, however, that if you’re of the opinion that SF/F authors are inherently socially progressive, you’ve been rather misinformed for a while. SF/F writers, like almost any other group of otherwise disparate people, have opinions all over the board.

  97. [Deleted because not on topic. Note, however, it’s a reasonable question and I’m thinking about answering it in a post, if I can manage to address the question with subtlety. Meanwhile, Josh, that second link I provided in the comment above should useful to you — JS]

  98. Damn. I was expecting there to be alot of complaining about Wheel of Time being nominated as a block. I never expected something else to overshadow it. The Guardian ripped the nomination. I read Larry Correia and he was very polite to WoT and Robert Jordan even though its the competition.

    I went to Larry Correia’s site. He does have some issues with John. But its hardly hateful. I think those two could dissagree and still get along. Apparently they have mutual friends (They are both buddies with Brandon Sanderson). I know a number of big time Sci-Fi/Fantasy fans who really like Larry Correia’s books and they read all kinds of things. They like both Scalzi and Correia.

    I don’t know anything about Vox Day. Never heard of him. I’m a voting member at the Hugo’s so Ill read his story.

    What format do you get the stories in? Is it in .pdf or an ereader formart for the hugo voting?

  99. BTW, Brandon Sanderson has Eulogy’s dating back to 2000 or so. There was an old site called The Time Wasters guide that he had with his friends dating from before he got published. It had lots of book reviews. They had hard drive issues and it got lost. Shame. The old forums were funny. Right after Brandon got his first book contract he was posting all exciting and asking if it was possible to run down a hallway and shoot arrows.

    There are also posts he is glad that are gone… In one thread, he was complaining about Robert Jordan and how he lost interest after book 8 or so…. A lot of us got annoyed with the master at that point. That would probably be more embarrassing to him than the blog post that John linked to…

  100. @ jmac

    I very clearly said, in the post just above where I first responded to you, that I have read Beale’s blog. I am quite clear on his feelings. I don’t want to belabor a discussion on his racism, because John asked us not to.

    What I do want to point out is that it is hard for me to take your arguments seriously when it seems like you cannot be bothered to read what I said. Instead, you rely on the old chestnut of painting me as an intolerant leftie. If you go to the effort of responding to participants like myself, might I suggest you actually read what I write, rather than what you wish I had wrote?

    As an intolerant leftie, I fully support any person who uses the Hugo voting rules for their own personal benefit. I trust that science fiction fans are smart enough to figure out how and why a person is nominated for a Hugo. Some people get on the ballot because their science fiction is smart, readable, and pushes forward the genre. Others get on the ballot by organizing their fans, even if their stories are average at best. The thing is, if you get on the ballot and become exposed to the wider consciousness of sci-fi fandom, and your stories aren’t very good, you may regret it. It could be that the free marketplace of ideas and preferences convinces people to work against your continued exposure.

  101. Any damned fool can see a problem. Solutions are usually more elusive. The Hugos are becoming a competition as to who can round-up the largest crowd of ill- informed goons. These goons take part in what might be described as stampede voting. Somebody tells them what to do, and the damned fools do it. What to do?

    I would say we should limit the sale of supporting memberships. Sell supporting memberships for the year after the site selection vote, but don’t sell them in the year before the con. If you are thinking of the Hugos as a long term process, you aren’t as likely to take part in a stampede.

    There is also the situation with the voter packets. If publishers start thinking people are buying supporting memberships for the free books, the supply may dry up. People aren’t likely to buy supporting memberships this year for free books next year.

  102. 2 of the things that Correia recommended have been nominated repeatedly.

    Elitist Book Reviews (my favorite fantasy book review site)
    Schlock Mercenary by Howard Taylor.

    I have found discovered alot of lesser known authors from the Elitist Book review sites. They do reviews of a wide range of books. For the record they picked Redshirts for Hugo last year (though they had a different slate of books for the Hugo than what got nominated). The best part about their reviews is that they may give a book a negative review, but from what they write I think I might like it. For example they did not like Saladin Ahmed’s book, but from the review I thought I might like it and I did. That is the best complement I can give a book review site.

    Schlock Mercenary by Howard Taylor is very good. He is on Writing Excuses too. Howard is turning into the Susan Lucci of the Hugos. For those who don’t know, she was nominated for something like 18 day time Emmy’s before winning. Atleats he gets recognition.

    For some reason the ‘Dragon Page’ gets left off of the Hugos every year. It is a terrific genre site that is packed with material. They have alot of very good author interviews loaded with non-generic questions. For example, there was a fascinating one with David Webber. Apparently Webber has severe arthritis and can’t type so he dictates his books. I work as a program and it made me wonder what would happen if I could’t type? I couldn’t image dictating algorithms.

    Trying to pivot back to more interesting topics such as fun genre things… This site is more fun when we talk about that and get away from the petty political fights. Its not John, its alot of the posters.

    Anyone have any good suggestions of things that were left off? My preference is for lesser known authors since I can find the big name people.

  103. Plot summary: an elf tries to find Jesus. He doesn’t.

    Ugh. I just threw up a little in the back of my mouth.

  104. Milt Stevens:

    Can a couple dozen angry cows rightly be called a stampede?

    It seems to me that the way to keep a small, dedicated faction from unduly influencing the slate of nominees* is to increase the voting pool, not decrease it. As it stands now, that faction doesn’t even have to be all that dedicated to make an impact. I mean, how many of those >1900 nominating ballots do you really think were cast by individuals acting on the behalf of guys like Correia and Beale? Maybe 100? Maybe 200?

    *It’s also important to remember that if they’ve had any influence here, it’s been in getting their works nominated. That alone is not going to win them the statues.

  105. @Milt Stevens: I generally have very little patience with the whole “be more exclusive so the unwashed masses don’t sully the purity” line of argument. It strikes me as unduly elitist – particularly since the people who even follow these controversies, much less act on them, tend to be in the more initiated levels. In the larger world, a Hugo-rigging scheme is pretty arcane and I really doubt too many people who are in a position to know about it and care enough to participate are also as ill-informed about the rest of the ballot as all that.

  106. I mean, how many of those >1900 nominating ballots do you really think were cast by individuals acting on the behalf of guys like Correia and Beale? Maybe 100? Maybe 200?

    As I understand it, Correia first started the Puppy Releated Sadness Campaign for the 2013 Hugos, so let’s look at the 2012 Hugos for Chicon 7.

    I take it that a “stampede” in this case refers to people who don’t normally vote for Hugos who then buy a $40 supporting membership and then nominate every single one of Correia’s suggestions, even in categories where there are relatively few nominations.

    As I understand it, Correia first started the Puppy Related Sadness Campaign for the 2013 Hugos, so let’s look at some 2012 ballot counts for categories that don’t get many ballots but did have recommendations from Correia in 2014.

    Editor Long Form:


    2014 nominations:
    Editor 632

    Fanzine 478

    So the difference is:
    Editor 632 – 358 = 274

    Fanzine 478 – 322 = 156

    Of course other factors are at play. Hugo participation seems to be going up. I’m guessing Chicago will turn out to have more attending members. I’m sure there are many other considerations, but “maybe 100, maybe 200” is within the realm of possibility.

  107. @Tom Galloway. Thank you for the clarification. That does help (and wow, it’s a tiny bit complicated, isn’t it?). I stand by my original observation, that it is not a juried award but a popular award, as several dozen other people have pointed out.

  108. @Milt Stevens:

    There is also the situation with the voter packets. If publishers start thinking people are buying supporting memberships for the free books, the supply may dry up. People aren’t likely to buy supporting memberships this year for free books next year.

    If you want to get into public relations or publishing, don’t give up the day job. Please. If publishers didn’t want to get their nominated titles in front of people who having voting rights for a high profile prize relevant to their interests, they should save a lot of time and anxiety and go out of business now.


    I generally have very little patience with the whole “be more exclusive so the unwashed masses don’t sully the purity” line of argument. It strikes me as unduly elitist

    It’s also a pretty obnoxious bad faith troll. As I’ve said elsewhere on this subject, there’s some stuff on the ballot this year I’m meh about. Always is, and not just when the Hugos roll around by any measure. Doesn’r mean ir only got there because the vulgar hoi polloi are corrupt liars.

  109. Here are some other random Hugo comments that I’ve bundled because John prefers them that way.

    It looks to me like the Hugo voters aren’t doing enough to make recommendations to other people during the nomination season. We keep having ballots that are missing short stories because not enough garnered 5%.

    I consider the WOT nomination to be a pain because there is no way I’m reading 14 volumes of the thing just to vote, so I’ll probably be basing it on one volume.

    How does one pick Editor long form? IS anyone in the world, including the nominees, qualified to vote in this one? How does one pick? It seems to me that short form is really about the publication edited by the nominee, and that’s a more manageable question.

  110. There have been years where I’ve bought a supporting membership in order to get the e-books, and in those years I have always voted. A few years ago, the first time I did this, I had a conversation *in the comment section of this blog* with one of the organizers responsible for that year’s packet about it, in which he convinced me that it was actually OK to do this and that this was consistent with the intent behind the packets.

    That said, I have a serious concern with this year’s packet. I hope the concern turns out to be unfounded, but if it *isn’t* unfounded, I also hope the 2015 business meeting finds a remedy for it.

    The concern is the following scenario:

    * Tor’s decision to offer the entire WoT as part of the voter packet has created a situation where the WoT books, which ordinarily would cost more than $120 to get in ebook form, are available for the cost of a supporting membership.

    * This *should* cause an influx of voters motivated by the desire to get a copy of the WoT in ebook, which is perfectly legitimate.

    * Many of those voters will vote for Best Novel, which is also perfectly legitimate.

    * Many of those voters will *not* vote for down-ballot categories, which is normal voting behavior in many cases and in this case seems particularly likely because it doesn’t follow that someone buying a membership for a cheap copy of WoT will necessarily have any opinions at all about, say, related works.

    * That voting behavior may result in a situation where a number of the down-ballot races fall afoul of Section 3.11.2 of the WSFS Constitution, which says that no award will be given in a particular category if the total number of valid ballots cast in that category is less than 25% of the total number of final award ballots received.

    I can’t gauge the likelihood of this outcome, as I can’t really estimate the number of bargain-WoT voters or the number of them that will vote complete ballots. But I think it’s a real risk, and I hope that if the risk manifests, the 2015 business meeting looks into a remedy. (One obvious remedy is to revise 3.11.2 to point at the number of valid ballots cast for the category getting the second most valid ballots; i’m sure there are others).

  111. Mike: so, yeah, if we give Corriea full credit for the voting increase, 100-200 is possible.


    But we’d have to eliminate all other factors that might lead to an increase in Hugo voting. I find that unlikely. Possible, but unlikely.

    Furthermore, I imagine Mr, Correia would like to claim a few more than 100-200 loyal, regular readers of his blog.

  112. Hmmmm…..when a misogynist/pervert like Vox Day is being seriously taken by anyone in any community whether it be science fiction or not, I think it exposes a disturning disease. Just an observation.

  113. @aphrael: Post your concern on dragonmount forums and email the site owner. Tell him to ask the fan base to read and vote for the rest of the people on the ballot. I plan to read and vote for the rest of the categories. I don’t think any of us intend to screw this up for other people. I am already a fan of Mira Grant so getting her book as part of the packet is a big plus for me.

    Does anyone know what format the Hugo packet comes in? Is it .pdf? Is it an ereader format I can use on my ipad? I actually never read an book in my life. Not sure if .pdf is really a good way to read a book or story. This will be my first time voting for the Hugos.

  114. The Hugo packet tends to show up in multiple formats. It’s the publisher’s call as to how they provide it.

  115. How do they normally send the books out? Id guess it would most be electronic? If its electronic is it usually .pdf?

  116. @boomernumber8:

    Hmmmm…..when a misogynist/pervert like Vox Day is being seriously taken by anyone in any community whether it be science fiction or not, I think it exposes a disturning disease. Just an observation.

    What would that be exactly, because I’m not really inclined to extrapolate a single line on the Hugos ballot this year into some general anathema against “the community”.


    * Many of those voters will *not* vote for down-ballot categories, which is normal voting behavior in many cases and in this case seems particularly likely because it doesn’t follow that someone buying a membership for a cheap copy of WoT will necessarily have any opinions at all about, say, related works.

    Speaking for myself, I have zero interest in copies of the WoT at any price but nor am I going to vote in categories “down ballot” I have no interest in, or where I’ve no familiarity with any of the nominees. With all due and sincere respect, if I purchased a membership this year, I really wouldn’t appreciate the presumption I’m just doing it for the swag or because I’ve got a man-crush on Pox Day and want to teach the Feminazis and their gamma rabbit eunuchs a lesson. Or something.

  117. > With all due and sincere respect, if I purchased a membership this year, I really wouldn’t appreciate the presumption I’m just doing it for the swag or because I’ve got a man-crush on Pox Day and want to teach the Feminazis and their gamma rabbit eunuchs a lesson.


    I am speaking from the experience of someone who *has* chosen to invest the time in voting and the money to buy a supporting membership *entirely based on the availability of free fiction*, saying I think that it is very likely that there will be an unusually large number of people doing that this year, and that the people who are doing it this year may be less good than usual about voting for down-ballot races.

    I don’t think that extends to a presumption about any particular individual’s motives.

  118. Every year when awards season rolls around, I feel a twinge of disappointment when my generally amazing work is overlooked. But on the plus side, I’ve never gotten on a ballot because a bunch of white supremacists thought my writing was a good representation of their beliefs and personal tastes. So this year I’ve got that to comfort me.

    Thanks, racists!

  119. Does anyone know what format the Hugo packet comes in? Is it .pdf? Is it an ereader format I can use on my ipad? I actually never read an book in my life. Not sure if .pdf is really a good way to read a book or story. This will be my first time voting for the Hugos.

    I’m assuming you mean you’ve never read an eBook in your life because otherwise this is a weird place to hang out. However, your iPad should be able to read PDFs, either with Adobe or whatever PDF reader you choose. If the packet comes in .mobi you can use the Kindle app, and I’m assuming the Nook app if it comes in .ePub.

  120. Well, I bit the bullet. Vox Day put his novella up on his website for free, so I grabbed it and read it over lunch. Overall… was not impressed.

    [Spoilers for Vox Day’s story follow]

    The plot is rather bland. Bessarias, an elf from a distant land,shows up at a human monastery and wants to learn about their faith (essentially Christianity). It turns out that Bessarias was a prominent lord and the greatest magic user in his city, but after a missionary showed up and performed miracles that surpassed elvish magic, he was intrigued. After the missionary was arrested and tortured for embarrassing the elvish rulers, Bessarias mercy-killed him, then went to study religion at the monastery. He moves in, has theological and philosophical debates with the Abbot, studies the scriptures by copying them, and more or less converts. But a demon doesn’t want Bessarias to stay at the monastery anymore, so he waits several years until the elf leaves to get supplies, then has an army of monsters kill everyone. Bessarias is enraged and considers using black magic, but decides against it and continues his work. Many years later, some acolytes see a theological treatise he wrote (based on his discussions with the Abbot) as well as a copy of the scriptures with elaborate illustrations, in a theological library.

    The biggest problem, in my opinion, is that the story was trying so hard to be clever that the actual story suffers. The philosophical debates, for instance, are too long, uninteresting, and add nothing to the plot. As an example:

    [Bessarias says]: “But my thought is that, contra the text, the world cannot have had a beginning. That which exists has always existed. It does not exist at certain times and not exist at others. And every incorruptible thing naturally has the capacity to exist always because its existence is not, due to its incorruptible nature, limited to any determinate time. Therefore no incorruptible thing sometimes is, and sometimes is not, whereas everything which has a beginning does not exist prior to its existence. So, either there are no incorruptible things to be found in the world, or no incorruptible thing ever begins to exist.”

    Similarly, the text is overwritten in places, and thus feels like it’s trying to sound more clever than it is:

    “The pallid sun was descending, its ineffective rays no longer sufficient to hold it up in the sky or to penetrate the northern winds that gathered strength with the whispering promise of the incipient dark.”

    The imagery doesn’t work for me (the suns ray are ‘ineffective’? At what? Is the idea that the rays hold up the sun, rather than being produced by it?) It’s also got some unnecessary flowery prose, such as referring to a bare fruit tree as having been ‘denuded’ of its leaves. Sure, it’s technically correct, but very awkward and doesn’t fit the rest of the surrounding narration.

    The characters are also very flat. Bessarias has nothing to his personality besides his desire to learn about his new faith. He shows no regret at leaving his home and people, or shame at having once performed acts which he now regards as sins, or frustration at the Abbot prohibiting him from using magic, or even joy at anything besides learning religion. Abbot Waleran is the Kind Devout guy and does nothing other than support Bessarias and debate him; while we hear he has the sin of ‘curiosity’, this is never explored in any meaningful form–no problems ever crop up because he’s too curious–so it’s more an informed flaw than anything else. The demon is evil because that’s what demons are. The other monks are indistinguishable from each other and are uninteresting. The characters read more as vehicles for scriptural arguments or messages rather than fully-realized characters in their own right.

    For a conversion story, we learn little about why Bessarias is swayed by his new faith or how he, an elf, meshes with it. It could be interesting to see how someone who is inhuman adapts to a human religion, and how the religion is adapted in turn, but we don’t really see that. Is eternal life more or less meaningful for a creature that can live several times as long as humans, for example? How are miracles meaningfully distinct from the magic he can already do? In fact, why does the faith prohibit magic, and how does the elf feel about that? But we don’t get that. The theology details we see are indistinguishable from the ones that can be found in real-world theology, so the plot loses what could have made it more interesting than just a generic conversion tale.

    I don’t mind long descriptive sections in general, but here it did feel like they were taking space away from where it was really needed–fleshing out the characters and making a more interesting plot than “elf goes to monastery and converts.” There’s a lot of random worldbuilding that has nothing to do with anything; two acolytes discuss a list of famous in-universe theologicians at the end, but these are just names that are as meaningless as a grocery list would have been. Bessarias talks at length about the kind of inks he wants to buy when he goes for supplies. One of the moons is named, but we never learn the significance of that. There’s too much text on setting the scene and not enough on having something interesting happen within it.

    I did get through the story; the prose, when it isn’t trying to show how smart it is, is readable. But I don’t plan to read anything else by Beale,

  121. Let’s see, where to start:

    -The level of ad hominem and bad faith on display here, not to mention a total ignorance of the actual stated positions and stances of Correia (I’m less familiar with Vox Day/Beale) is more than a little disappointing here. All it takes is five minutes actually -reading- to educate yourselves. I humbly submit that if you cannot be bothered to take that time actually reading, and preferably another few minutes thinking about the points being made, you should be a bit more moderate before offering summary judgement or (especially) third and fourth hand sneers.

    -For those who can’t be bothered to do that much, I’m going to try and restate the argument behind Correia’s Hugo campaign. Any errors are likely to be mine, since this is off the cuff and from memory. Again, actually reading the relevant blog posts would be helpful.

    I’m still deciding the extent to which I agree with his points, but I think there’s at least -some- truth to pretty much all of them.


    1) The Hugos are not about recognizing quality science fiction and fantasy ideas or literary craft and never have been, they are a popularity contest run by fans.

    2) More specifically, they are a popularity contest run by a very narrow slice of SF/F fans, and recognizing only a very narrow slice of SF/F authors and works.

    3) With a few exceptions for works with huge popularity outside the SF/F community, the proxy for ‘literary merit’ was, is, and continues to be not the quality of the story told, nor the entertainment value provided, nor even the ingenuity or cleverness of the SF/F tropes or world-building on display.

    4) Instead, ‘literary merit’ is judged based on the political/sociological message of the work, or of the author, and the contest is therefore about the voters demonstrating how enlightened and progressive-minded they are. “By voting for this story, I demonstrate what a refined, enlightened, high-minded guy I am. Like me!” not “Hey guys, this story is fucking awesome.”

    5) Therefore, by getting as many SF/F fans from -outside- that small clique as possible to enroll and vote, and by pushing books that are commercially successful (and therefore popular with fans) outside of that same circle, the Hugo awards can be made to be more reflective of SF/F fandom’s tastes as a whole, and not just a small sub-segment of a sub-segment.

    I don’t think it’s quite as much about what Correia calls Message-Fic, but I think that there’s a definite truth to the idea that there is a narrowness to the Hugo awards that has less to do with the storytelling and creativity on display in the works and more to do with more suspect proxies for so-called literary merit.

    I also think there’s a lot of truth to the point he and others are making that a lot of the bitching going on right now basically boils down to “Oh no, the wrong sort of people are voting. We don’t want THOSE people to have a voice!”.

    If the point of the Hugo is to acknowledge those works that the SF/F community as a whole finds to be good, then the broader the voting base, the better.

  122. Brian,

    That’d be a great summary if you didn’t have people saying things like “Voting for this is really going to make those rabbit’s heads explode.”

    Yes, a broad base a good thing, but you’re going to have a hard time increasing that if you go into it thinking “Everyone currently voting is only doing so for progressive backpats, and we’re going to show them some REAL SF/F!”

    If your reasoning was the impetus of the push, then it’d be a lot more tolerated. Instead you seem to have a lot of people who didn’t get that message, and are just interested in pushing an agenda that has nothing to do with literary merit and everything to do with politics.

  123. “Plot summary: an elf tries to find Jesus. He doesn’t.”

    Here’s where I recommend Judith Tarr’s “The Hound and the Falcon” trilogy, which ran this theme *extrenely* well. (And contained an astonishing quality of research without being bogged down by it.)

    An elf, who grew up in a monastery in 12th century England (yes, actual 12th century England), goes out to find his place in the world. One of his central concerns is this question: does he have a soul? What happens when he dies?

  124. Brian

    Really, really, really, popular SF/F writers include Terry Pratchett, whose politics are somewhat to the left of our host’s; if the argument you are putting forward about political bias is correct then it is the popular progressive writers who are being excluded from the Hugos, not the other way around…

  125. Alex, I agree that a lot of the people who signed onto Larry’s idea did so for reasons a lot more petty than the outline above. At the end of the day though, I’d say that that doesn’t really change his original point or motivation. Again, the more people from a broader range of both tastes in SF/F and political outlook, the more diffuse any one clique’s agenda is going to get. Of course it attacts a lot of people with an axe to grind. The internet and fandoms in general breed that sort of thing as the various teapot tempests over the past few years have shown. It still works as a way to broaden the voter base, and if the response is for both “sides” to try and enlist more and more people to get engaged and vote and become active, then I’d call that a win for the SF/F community as a whole.

    That said, with the possible exception of the Beale nom (and even then I’m not sure), I think that merit and not -just- politics was a factor in every one of these dark horse nominations. The discussion took place on other forums and blogs as well, but a lot of the hashing out of suggested votes took place in the comment threads on Correia’s blog, and the worst I saw was:

    “This is a great story, AND it’ll piss those damn libruls off!”


    “Ehh, the story’s shit, but who cares, it’ll piss those damn libruls off!”

    As far as it being more tolerated if people believed it to be in good faith, I cordially disagree, because I think that the assumption of bad faith (especially using cherry-picked examples and then conflating them to larger groups or vaguely associated opinions) tends to be step 1 in internet ideological arguments, whether the ideology is something like politics or just

    “What should a Hugo Award Be and Stand For”.

    I think another aspect of this that’s being overlooked so far is that a lot of it comes down to the old so-called “Literary” vs. “Genre” divide, and the way that divide can be perpetuated even WITHIN Genres.

    I suspect that what Correia sees as unjustified sociopolitical cliquishness and bigoted snobbery is seen by others as an attempt to create that “Literary” distinction. And as someone who is not particularly fond of the entire concept of “Literary fiction” as a mark of inherent worth or quality, I find myself much more in sympathy with him there.

    I think that he and those other authors and fans in his camp are absolutely right to sneer right back at the people who sneeringly dismiss 90% of the output of houses like Baen as “Not REAL SF/F” or being merely “Commercial” work. And I think that it’s umbrage at THAT sort of attitude as much or even MORE than the left/right political divide that fuels the campaign.

    Of course, my perception from his blog is that Correia feels that “this work is merely Commercial, while THIS work has true Literary merit!” is at least 75% short-hand for “this work does not contain the sociopolitically correct shibboleths, while THIS work does!”. I think he’s wrong about the extent to which the literary vs. commercial distinction is political, but he’s far from entirely WRONG about it either.

  126. dpmaine:

    The Hugo is much closer to the Oscars in value. The Nebula’s are closer to the People’s Choice or American Idol ‘crown’.

    That’s completely incorrect. The Nebula remains the most prestigious SFF award and, for science fiction, has the most economic value, although the economic value of all the awards have pretty much sunk with the collapse of the magazine community and the shift away in focus of the SFFH category market on the magazines. The Nebula is not like an Oscars award, nor a People’s Choice. It is a juried prize and it makes it equivalent to other juried literary prizes like the National Book Award. It is considered quite hard to win and therefore prominent. The World Fantasy Award is the most prominent award in fantasy fiction and it is also a juried prize and considered hard to win.

    The Hugos are unquestionably the second best known SFF award and it is prestigious. But it doesn’t beat out a Nebula. It does, however, have some economic value, but not nearly as much as it used to. The Hugos are like the Oscars in process somewhat as it is an association which members join, but it’s not an industry association, like the Oscars or the Grammys. There are no industry association SFF awards, though awards like the Nebula come close.

    For the Hugos, It is a fan association of dedicated fans attending the convention or paying for substitute memberships. As such, it is skewed not towards popularity of fiction but towards money and the arcane. Fans have to be well off and dedicated to doing it and usually going to the convention and may have varied and obscure interests; it isn’t a simple poll of bestsellers, especially as most of the awards are for short fiction and pieces that are published in not very prominent venues. Having online packets to get folks to read everything is relatively recent and there’s no telling how many of the voters actually read everything that is nominated. There are also awards of prominence such as the BSFA awards — a group member award, the Campbell for new writers, the Tiptree, the Lambda awards, the Locus to a lesser degree — a voting poll award that again does involve dedicated fans as they’re the only ones who know the Locus exists, the Aurealis (Canada,) and more recently, the Clarkes — a juried award — and the Gemmells — a voting poll award.

    As fans who have dedicated themselves and their money to voting in the Hugo, voters are in fact concerned with quality, with what they think is the best fiction receiving attention and recognition. Their criteria will vary and be considerably wider than a juried award, but for such an award there is absolutely no point in trying to dream up some system to judge who is more worthy and dedicated to be a voter than others, nor trying to control others’ criteria because you think it isn’t good enough. Members who attend the convention and thus join the association or pay for a voting membership in the association get to decide who will win the award being given by their association and thus, what they consider worthy that year. What wins wins and they are the Hugo Award winners. There are no ifs, buts or maybes. And people have over the years come to respect the members of the association’s judgment on nominees and winners as dedicated fans, which is what has given the Hugo its prominence.

    There is always controversy about nominees and winners of any award, juried or no, including political issues, and so this year is hardly different. I am amused that Baen Books, after whining that they couldn’t get on the list and claiming very silly conspiracy theories are of course on the list. Maybe that’s because they rallied their troops to pay up, or maybe not. But it does show the usual variety that shows up on the Hugo list as the convention changes locales from year to year.

    If you don’t like other awards, start one. Any convention can fund and launch an award, any group or association of fans can fund and launch an award, any magazine or SFFH field publication. And if others find the judgments of the award sound in merit, the award gains more prominence in the field. That’s how we got the Parallax Award, the Kindred Award, the Darrell Awards, the Phillip K. Dick Award, etc. An award is a decision of a group, through the voting of its members or the appointment of a judging panel, of what they find worthy and worth attention. And that’s all it is, nice as they can be to win.

  127. Brian:

    Mind you, it’s also possible that Mr. Correia’s theory is completely full of shit, with regard to the selection bias of the voters, and the voters of past years simply don’t like the stories of the sort he’d prefer to see on the ballot. Bluntly speaking, having been to the Worldcons for the past decade, the idea that the attendees (and thereby the voters) are some sort of monolithic group, agenda wise, is laughable. Now, it may be difficult for him (or others of a similar mind) to conceive that the problem is not a vast liberal agenda but rather instead the nominators/voters have been indifferent to the work they like, but one is really rather more likely than the other. It’s not everyone else’s fault that Mr. Correia, et al can’t see that people do select the stories they think are awesome, by their own criteria, which are not his.

    With that said, the response by Correia, et al to change things up by actually nominating work rather than (just) whining like truculent, spoiled children is the correct one. Be the change you want to see, etc.

  128. Stevie, a few points. First, I was trying to summarize Correia’s argument, not present my own. As I said in the last post I think it has at least as much to do with the “literary” vs. “commercial”. And again, his argument was not that “Only Progressive Writers are EVER nominated”, but that “The Hugos are a popularity contest that has become dominated by a very narrow subset of a subset of SF/F fandom, and the narrow tastes and narrow window of acceptable -types- of stories and storytelling, with the exception of certain breakthrough mega-popular authors and franchises, and even then there tends to be bitching whenever one of them is nominated or wins.”

    Third, I think it would be a mistake to look at your -perceptions- of a single author’s politics, count their hugo noms, and then make a sweeping generalization about the Hugos bias or lack thereof. I know nothing of Pratchett’s personal political views, but from his writing I -suspect- that they don’t map particularly neatly onto a single dimension left-right specrum. This is equally true of Larry Correia for that matter, or just about any other person who isn’t ideologically wedded to a specific political party or philosophical group.

  129. Who the hell “sneeringly dismiss (s) 90% of the output of houses like Baen as “Not REAL SF/F” or being merely “Commercial” work.” ?

    Because the only group I’ve seen as of late going so far as to categorize SF/F into real or not is the group that uses terms like Blue/Pink SF. And if a book is on the shelf (physical or eShelf) with a price tag on it, then it’s commercial work. Sure, you’re always going to find fans arguing about “real SF/F” but that’s been going on since SF/F existed as a genre,

    My personal opinion is if you’re taking the time to classify novels as “real SF/F” or not, then you’re not spending enough time reading.

  130. Thanks for your response John. I don’t think characterizing it as a “monolithic block” or a “vast conspiracy” is really fair to what Larry was claiming. A group of people does not have to be in conspiracy OR an utterly uniform and monolithic block (claims he does not make) in order to be create a consistently narrow and unrepresentative window of “acceptable” choices when it comes to picking favorites year after year (a claim he does make).

    In short, I think that he IS saying that the typical worldcon attendee is largely indifferent to the works that he writes and by extension the works of other authors that he likes and feels should be nominated. He just disagrees as to the ultimate fairness or reasonableness of that indifference. And I’ll say that I agree with you that his campaign of “getting out the attendance/vote” is far superior to just bitching and whining about it on the internet.

    At the end of the day as far as the quality of the works goes, it DOES come down to opinion, and I’m glad that you are arguing for simply reading the works and judging on merit. I may have doubts about the ability of many people to separate their distaste for an author’s real or perceived politics and opinions from the quality of their work, but I still appreciate the sentiment.

    Having read everything on the Novel list but Ancillary Justice (which I’ll probably pick up now since the back cover blurb looks interesting), I can safely say that while I enjoyed everything except for Robert Jordan’s books, I enjoyed the Grimnoir series and Warbound in particular the most of all those listed. Stross would come second, and if it had been one of the Laundry novels he might have edged out Correia, but I just didn’t like his Saturn’s Children series nearly as much. It does bug me a bit that Warbound was nominated and not the series as a whole if that’s what’s apparently kosher now (given the WoT nom), but c’est la vie.

    I do highly recommend reading the first two books if your schedule allows it. It’s not necessary to enjoy the third, but in my opinion you’ll miss out on some of the enjoyment if you jump straight into Warbound.

  131. With that said, the response by Correia, et al to change things up by actually nominating work rather than (just) whining like truculent, spoiled children is the correct one.

    Hear, hear!

    Of course, my perception from his blog is that Correia feels that “this work is merely Commercial, while THIS work has true Literary merit!” is at least 75% short-hand for “this work does not contain the sociopolitically correct shibboleths, while THIS work does!”.

    Hm. Maybe. On the other hand, I think the work that wins DOES tend to be more sophisticated in containing the particular shibboleths.

    For the record, I DO look down on unsubtle inclusion of ideology–a lot of it really is knee jerk and doesn’t bother to update when the real world gores (or seems to gore)) a particular sacred cow. When a work DOES bother to update, it, it seems more sophisticated to me, no matter what the authors’ leanings are (and that, to me, is part of the craft).

    Now, if you want to say that the opposing side’s ideology is more visible to you or me than the same side, you might have an argument—but I think in a lot of cases that people are talking about the craft does overwhelm the politics.

  132. Brian:

    “In short, I think that he IS saying that the typical worldcon attendee is largely indifferent to the works that he writes and by extension the works of other authors that he likes and feels should be nominated. He just disagrees as to the ultimate fairness or reasonableness of that indifference.”

    Oh, sure. But, I don’t know. I’m of the opinion that life’s not fair in a general sense, so. For example, in a more fair universe there would be more UK-based writers on the ballot this year, considering that the Worldcon is in the UK and many of the nominators (on would presume) are from there. But there aren’t. I felt that way in 2007, too, when the Worldcon was Japan; I don’t think there was a single Japanese work or nominee on the ballot. That was just weird.

    Re: The first two books in the series — I do have them in the house (I’m on Baen’s mailing list) so I may search them out. But between that and Tor dropping the entire Wheel of Time series in the reading packet — eeesh. A lot of homework this year.

  133. Mind you, it’s also possible that Mr. Correia’s theory is completely full of shit, with regard to the selection bias of the voters, and the voters of past years simply don’t like the stories of the sort he’d prefer to see on the ballot. Bluntly speaking, having been to the Worldcons for the past decade, the idea that the attendees (and thereby the voters) are some sort of monolithic group, agenda wise, is laughable.

    Correia does tend to use the phrase “typical Hugo voter” in a way that makes me think he significantly overestimates the degree of monolithic agena among the voters. If he doesn’t like the way the typical Hugo voter votes, he should make a habit of being one. Con-attending fandom isn’t a monolitic group, but it does tend to skew significantly left in my experience. I see a nugget of truth in the idea of some nominated works being a demonstration of the voter’s high-minded progressiveness.

    Stevie writes:

    Really, really, really, popular SF/F writers include Terry Pratchett, whose politics are somewhat to the left of our host’s; if the argument you are putting forward about political bias is correct

    Pratchett does what Correia advocates; he puts the story first. So does Eric Flint.

    @Kat Goodwin

    That’s completely incorrect. The Nebula remains the most prestigious SFF award and, for science fiction, has the most economic value,

    I have no numbers for assessing economic value, but I’ve never regarded Nebula as the more prestigious. I don’t go around asking people about this, but at gatherings of SF folks I’ve attended, when books get discussed, one is way more likely to hear that a particular work has won a Hugo and than a Nebula. I’ve had the general impression that writers consider it more prestigious, but not the community as a whole.

  134. Alexvdl, I was extremely happy that that piece got out in front of what i’m concerned about, and I sent Mr. Sanderson a note saying so. :)

  135. @Kat Goodwin:

    When did the Nebula Awards switch from being a voted award (by the members of SFWA) to “a juried prize,” as you say they are? Did I miss the press release?

  136. I think she was referring to the fact that there is a Nebula jury, and either glossed over or missed the fact that it adds only one book to the short list for novels, which are then voted on by the members of SFWA.

  137. Stephen Dunscombe: Re: Judith Tarr (and others): Yes.

    It’s not just that this story isn’t new; it’s that VD brings nothing new to it. He goes on and on (and on) describing chicken dinners and wooden doors and rules of order, but tells us nothing we couldn’t have invented ourselves without doing one bit of research. I could have made this up medieval monastery and its rules playing with Legos at the kitchen table.

    And no real characters. He’s unable to create anyone we’re interested in, because he’s unable to fully imagine a real human being. I don’t know why. Maybe because he’s never actually looked at one?

  138. @ Guess: “I was expecting there to be alot of complaining about Wheel of Time being nominated as a block. I never expected something else to overshadow it.”

    Yeah, that’s what I think is the interesting/surprising/controversial thing on this ballot.

    (The fact that there may be one or more individuals on the ballot who have abrasive or offensive personalities, and/or who campaigned to get on the ballot, and/or whose nomination inspires a you-must-be-joking reaction in some people? None of this strikes me as new or different for a Hugo ballot.)

    The whole idea that individual novels are up against a whole -series- of novels in the same category for the same award… That certainly strikes me as the topic I would have thought would be in the spotlight now. Go figure.

  139. Ah. Is that the one where RSHD was on the jury (and behaved himself as far as anyone knows), and then showed his ass on Electrolite?

  140. Oops, more like I forgot. They’ve got their banquet event where they give them out, don’t they? Okay, so the Nebula is also association voted, like the BSFA award, etc. But yes, the Nebula has been the more prestigious award and for my lifetime certainly considered harder to get than the Hugo. I think both are ones that authors would like to win, though fantasy writers are probably turned a bit more towards getting the World Fantasy Award and the Hugo. Certainly the Nebula bears little resemblance to the People’s Choice Awards. And the Nebula is quite desired as the sticker on the book cover for marketing purposes too.

    For me, I’m perfectly okay with Wheel of Time being nominated if series are allowed as a nomination. It’s a seminal work in the field that has had a profound influence. It has many flaws, but so do most of the major works in SFF history. Some books in it were written better than others, but again, that happens in series. Sanderson came in to pinch hit the last three, but he did make a largely successful effort to use Jordan’s style and characterizations and complete his ideas according to Jordan’s outlines and fragments to bring the story to Jordan’s vision for it. The writing of neither author is poetic and lyrical in the series — it is not a brilliant representation of language. However, as an exploration of the Messiah myth, the cost of sacrifice and the philosophy of reincarnation and historical struggle — thematically and symbolically — it is an ambitious and interesting rumination in a fully realized world.

    And while large epic fantasy stories full of monsters, magic and battles are not absent from the award ballots, there is certainly a wider general prejudice that such stories are automatically less worthy of being there. That was presumably the Guardian’s argument concerning the nomination. And that gets a little tiring. So whether it wins or not, I’m pleased to see it on the ballot, and confident that if it wins, the other authors will be up for other works later on.

    As for the sniping from various parties that the other voters aren’t doing it right or don’t have the right values or are conspiring to shut them out, etc., I’m pretty much over all that. As I believe an author around here once pointed out, nobody made you king of the geeks, or for that matter, king of literature. Fiction is entirely subjective, awards are about subjective opinions, and the fact that other people have entirely different viewpoints than you about fiction is something that you should have gotten over once you turned ten. Vote or do not; or talk about good books that missed the list from the sidelines.

  141. But yes, the Nebula has been the more prestigious award and for my lifetime certainly considered harder to get than the Hugo.

    Define “harder to get”.

    There are more Hugo categories than Nebula categories, but I’m assuming that we are talking about novel, novella, novelette and short story. With the exception of the odd tie, each awards one award every year in these four categories.

  142. Personally, I think that both the Hugo and the Nebula Awards are popularity contests; the Hugo measures popularity among fans (specifically Worldcon members), and the Nebula among SF writers (specifically SFWA members). The main difference is that SFWA is harder to join, in that you have to write some SF, and then actually sell that fiction to qualifying markets.

    As to which is the more “prestigious” award, that’s a value judgment made by the individual. I know of no objective way to determine that. :-/

  143. Xopher:

    No, that was short story, which was previously juried, and now no longer is.

    And, no, there is no indication that Beale did anything less than a competent job in his jury tenure.

  144. Yeah, that seems to be the general impression. What was wrong with choosing him was branding, not that he did anything wrong when actually ON the jury. Reading the Electrolite thread, I marvel at how quickly people get his number (he’s called a “dipshit” pretty quickly), and how much your comments then (2005) resemble your position now. That’s consistency for you.

  145. Thank you for being fair. I’m a fan of John Scalzi books (but not politics) and a fan of Larry Correia books (and more politics than not) but at the end of the day, what matters to me is if the fiction you write entertains and stays with me.

    Honestly, in some respects I could do with knowing less about the politics of my favorite authors, and I wish they played less of a role in How Things Happen. But I’m not naive. It’s as it ever was.

  146. Regarding Vox’s story, it’s also worth noting that the context precludes him from having to write a female character, but boy, does he thoroughly describe the androgynous-but-oh-so-masculine appearance of his elven character. It’s almost as if there’s some subtext at work there, but I’m sure that can’t be the case.

  147. The idea that ballot stuffing was involved for LC to be nominated is laughable. Anyway this is good for the Hugos. More voters equal more money for Worldcon.
    And you really can’t be surprised that this happened after Redshirts won. You rallied your fans last year, LC rallied his this year (though I doubt he has much of a chance against WoT) and perhaps in a year or two Martin or some other bestseller will rally their fans.
    Kudos to TOR for making WoT available to voting members. I’m now getting a supporting membership for sure. And I also think that WoT fans using a technicality to get on the ballot is hilarious.
    sorry if doublepost

    Uncle Byron

  148. You know, I had never heard of Vox Day or Larry Correia before you mentioned them here on this site. There’s a certain irony in that you have inadvertently given them some free press. ;)

  149. @shoeshineman I think it’s dangerous to start talking about Hugo nominations in terms of technicalities, or, as I’ve seen in some places, the spirit of the rules. While all rule-sets probably have what could be called a “spirit,” it’s dangerous to start making rulings based on that, especially in the case of something like the Hugos, where the body making the rulings changes from year to year. Ultimately, either a work is eligible for the award, or it is not. In essence, all rulings need to be based on technicalities; that’s how rules work. Now, that doesn’t mean that it’s going to be a reasonable comparison between the Wheel of Time and the other nominees, but perhaps this raises a broader issue of whether series fiction needs its own award. The question of why the series counts as a serialized work I think speaks for itself after reading the books, but ultimately, it will be up to the voters to determine whether or not the Wheel of TIme represents the best in long-form fiction.

  150. I honestly don’t think either Scalzi or Correia particularly rallied fans and that was what got them noms. Red Shirts was a huge bestseller that got a lot of attention in bookstores and a lot of media attention for its satire of Star Trek and television. Consequently, a lot of people, including convention going fans, read it and thought it was unusual and interesting. And Correia’s series have also been bestsellers, frequently mentioned and have the dark, black humor side of the fandom — always a large block of fandom — to draw on. Both of them have their work easily available in the U.K. and thus in Australia too, though Scalzi’s may be slightly better known. So again Correia certainly has a fan base and is well known, and that does not then necessarily require that he rally folks or that any reminders he did about his work did the trick.

    There are somewhat over 4,000 folk going to the convention who thus also bought in to vote, and a lot of them are Brits. The odds of a rally conspiracy working even for the nominations seem rather slim to me. On the short fiction categories and some of the others, obviously you’d have a better shot at affecting the nomination election, because only a smaller group is going to have read any short fiction. But when it’s thrown open to the wider convention going crowd, rallies aren’t going to do you much good.

  151. @Kat

    Say what you will, but here is Patrick Neilsen Hayden who apparently knows something about publishing, on the Nebula’s:

    “The humor of the situation, in my opinion, is the ongoing degradation of the prestige of the once-coveted Nebula Award. Certainly if I were running a literary award that was widely perceived as being increasingly tarnished by arcane rules, unabashed logrolling, and general ridiculousness, my next move would definitely be to recruit me a yawping borderline anti-Semite and woman-hater for the award’s jury. Just as an exercise in branding, if nothing else.”

    That was 10 years ago. There is no indication that it has improved.

    The Nebula is ruined. Your judgements appear to be out of touch with what a lot of long-time fans think plus people who have a lot of muscle in their opinion. I’ve been a Worldcon voter since I was able to – I think 15 years. The Nebula’s increasingly seem like a waste of time and effort.

  152. Manny–

    Sorry for the immediate repost. It is well known that JS is the worst boycotter in the history of the word. He just can’t help himself, his protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.

  153. @Mathosaur Nah, it’s not dangerous. WoT’s got a great chance to win. And while I think the first four books in that series are great the books up to 8 dropped in quality. I can’t comment about the rest yet since I haven’t read them but even if they are great WoT is still a series not a long form work. The Lord of the Rings is long form fiction.
    I thought it was funny because it reminded me of playing RPGs with rules lawyers. Anyway thanks to Tor I’m going to get a chance to finish it.

  154. The Nebulas are not ruined at all. The list of Nebula nominees in the novel category this year is way better than the Hugo one. This has been the case for a while, though this year is the most drastic one. IMO “The Drowning Girl” and “We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves” are much better than any novel on the Hugo ballot in the last few years, and the way things are going lately with the Hugos with 2-3 spots on the novel ballot per year usually reserved to the authors with most popular blogs, I don’t see this changing soon.

    Anyway, as for the original topic, I refuse to believe that enough people actually read Vox’s story and thought it was worth nominating for its literary merit and that is how it ended on the final ballot. It’s that bad and simply tedious to the extreme. Poorly written and pretty much nothing happen. Not to mention completely lacking in subtlety or character development.

  155. dpmaine, more of your utter nonsense. The Nebulas (note: apostrophes are for possessives) are certainly not “ruined,” though they have less economic impact than they once did; as Scalzi points out above, they’re no longer juried; and they still always go to quality work, as far as I know. If you have a counterexample, share it.

    Dave Crisp, could well be. I had forgotten that Scalzi was the source of the line “But… there’s still more candy inside him!” which has led to the term ‘piñata’ being used for a recalcitrant and amusing troll on Electrolite and Making Light ever since.

  156. Xopher–

    Don’t tell it to me, tell it Patrick Neilsen Hayden and other industry types who think it has been in steep decline. I mean the quotes are right there from 2004. Do you think it’s gotten any better?

    It has nothing to do with if it goes to quality work. The Hugo’s go to quality work. The point is it’s lost it’s shine. Industry types think it’s “tarnished [by .. general ridiculousness”, and other not-fun descriptions.

    I could put the exact same award as the Nebulas [thanks for the grammatical help, I appreciate being grammar bullied by native speakers from time to time] but it would hold no prestige and no value. I could call it the Crapula. It would mean nothing to publishers and fan’s.

    Yourself and Kat Goodwin and others can say things like it is unquestionably this, and unquestionably that, but it sure doesn’t look that way from [a] my point of a view, as a long-time fan and Worldcon voter and [b] the public things that industry types who publish SF put on the internet.

  157. Industry types thought it had been so tarnished in 2004. Ten years ago. These things go up and down.

    You’re subscribing to the “things fall apart” theory of history (closely related to the “fall from a Golden Age” theory). All such theories (even my favorite, the “progress” theory) are nonsense. Things get better and worse and sometimes get better again.

    The quality of publicly visible writing is clearly in decline at the moment. For example, in this quote:

    The point is it’s lost it’s shine.

    …there should be only one apostrophe. (Hint: possessive personal* pronouns do not have apostrophes in English.) Does that mean it will never get better again? No. It might or it might not. It’s impossible to know in advance.

    Similarly, the prestige of awards declines, and improves. Do we know what people will think about the Hugos or Nebulas in ten years? No. Can we judge what they think now just by knowing what they thought ten years ago? No.

    *For my fellow grammar fans: ‘one’ is an IMpersonal pronoun.

  158. dpmaine:

    “Don’t tell it to me, tell it Patrick Neilsen Hayden and other industry types who think it has been in steep decline. I mean the quotes are right there from 2004. Do you think it’s gotten any better?”

    In fact, yes, it has. SFWA engaged in a number of reforms of the Nebula nomination process to streamline it and open it up a bit, and as a result over the last ten years the reputation of the award has climbed considerably from an early century lull. I’m pretty sure Patrick would agree with this assessment, as I’ve spoken to him several times about the Nebulas (and awards in general) since 2005; he is my editor, after all.

    I’ll note much of the process was begun before I had become SFWA president, so I can’t take too much credit for that (although I will take a little, in conjunction with the SFWA board and the Nebula administrators, who have done a fine job).

    As a general note, ten years is a lot of time in publishing, and not everything trends toward entropy in the short run, so it’s not always a great idea to present a quote from close to a decade ago and assert that it is indicative of current trends and situations. It offers a lot of room for error.

    With that said, the Nebulas are not the Hugos, so this line of discussion is a bit off topic. Let’s go ahead and wander back toward the main thrust of the discussion, please.

  159. From what I see here, I think the argument I’ve made a few times when the nominations and recognitions being criticized were for authors on the other side of the political spectrum, particularly Seanan McGuire, remains relevant.

    I think readers and fans, generally, are better informed and more principled about something like the Hugos than the whole “fan-rallying conspiracy” theorists like to think. I know people who might consider politics or promoting a favorite author a bonus if they already liked the work. I know far fewer people who would care enough about a genre award to buy nominating privileges but also would care little enough about it to knowingly put crap on the ballot for the sake of a frankly childish political stunt.

    I liked what John said in response to an earlier comment, that this is probably the best response to not liking the works nominated in previous years – nominating ones you do feel deserve the honor.

  160. @aphrael – For what it is worth, I am strongly considering buying a supporting membership because the WoT eBooks are there and a great value. However, I have also already read many of the novellas, novelettes, and short stories online, and I obviously follow online blogs so have read some of the fan writing, and I have strong opinions about some of the online fanzines, so of course I am going to express my opinion downballot, have no fear.

    Straight-up WoT fans who are not members of the online SFF community are not likely to see that the eBooks are available with a supporting membership, or really care. But there are probably an awful lot of old members of rec.arts.sf.written.robert-jordan who are also longtime readers of a broad swath of SFF and have never tipped over the edge into buying a supporting membership to WorldCon, because why bother? I think I’m just going to sniff, tug my braid at you, then go read _all_ the nominated works and vote my conscience. Which may or may not be WoT, because there are some fine nominated authors up on that list that I am looking forward to reading and evaluating.

    And probably come back next year to do it again.

  161. Thoughts. I tried reading the Vox Day story. As others have pointed out, it’s terribly over-written and as I’m not really a massive fantasy fan, nothing gripped me early on. It wasn’t completely awful, but it wasn’t good either. It’s certainly not as good as the other story I’ve read on the ballot, but it’s possibly good enough that I won’t list it below NO AWARD out of spite for the author.

    Given the above, I seriously doubt I’m going to find time between now and the vote to plough through the Wheel of Time either. Which leaves book III in an urban fantasy, and Parasite to look at. I have read and nominated the others. Correia or McGuire would have to do something f’ing amazing for me to change my top vote at this point.

    Generally, I didn’t think it was a bad slate. An interesting mixture, and controversy never really hurts if it gets people to think about nominating and getting involved in future.

  162. @Kat Goodwin First of all I don’t think there’s anything wrong with writers rallying their fans. Second, while Scalzi was more subtle about it Correia was much more blatant. And yeah they are both very popular but the Hugos and Worldcon are not at least not compared to the Gemmel Awards (according to Ferret they had 70,000 votes) or Comiccon so I think writers do have to get the word out.
    But I agree, I don’t think Correia has much of a chance to win.

  163. Every major award for any form of fiction every year it comes out, there’s a large swath of people — including sometimes publishing people who should know better than to make such commentary as professionals with irons in the fire, like say the head editor of Tor or the head of Baen, and authors who should learn to make the point more diplomatically — saying that the award is ruined or corrupt or worthless, largely because they don’t like the nominees, and if a juried award, the judges. Doesn’t actually have much to do with the general status of the award in its field, nor does it stop the publishers from slapping the name of the award on book covers and ads to sell books of their authors who’ve won it. If an award is actually considered less and less worthless — it gets discontinued.

    The Hugos are better known awards in SFF than the Gemmell, which is newer and is a specialty award. The reason that the Gemmell gets a massive number of votes is that it’s an online voting poll that doesn’t cost to vote (and may possibly allow you to vote more than once; I don’t remember.) That doesn’t necessarily make it considered more prestigious. The Gemmell is growing in prestige and probably will be around a long time, given its specialty focus in a popular specialty. I’m pretty good with that. But number of votes doesn’t equal status. (The World Fantasy Award is a juried award, so size of voting doesn’t enter into it, for instance.)

    The Hugos are based on WorldCon — you pay as a dedicated fan to attend the con, thus becoming a member of the association in good standing, or you pay for a voting membership, thus becoming a supporting member of the association in good standing to vote. The amount of members they thus get depends a great deal on where WorldCon is being held, how organized the folk running the Hugos and the publishers themselves are, and how many fans give a whoop about book conventions.

    ComicCons have got nothing to do with the book industry, though they let the books join the party. They are conventions for the giant comics/games/movie/tv industries all of whom can beat books with their pinky fingers. Books are used for source material for some of all that and SFF authors often work in the other industries, and are generally welcomed as part of the geek fest. But comicons draw thousands and thousands of more people to them, most of whom have no interest in books that are not graphic novels or short fiction magazines whatsoever.

    I didn’t even know that San Diego ComicCon gave out an award — I had to look it up. It’s very nice that they do and I’m sure that prose folk who win it are grateful and put it on their resumes, but I have yet to see a book spouting that the author is an Inkspot winner, or other awards that may come from other comiccons. So valued, sure, but they don’t have a lot of name recognition in the SFFH prose category market. Maybe that will change with market changes.

    The Hugo has some crossover in that it has media categories, which are actually semi-valued by some of the media, especially as SFF authors often end up writing t.v. episodes. But overall, the Hugo, the Nebula, the World Fantasy Award, the BSFA award, and the Clarke, etc. — SFF awards — don’t have a lot of name recognition in the media either. The media has gotten a bit more interested in at least reporting the winners, which may have something to do with the bookies in Vegas or just changes in Internet media.

    The Hugos have a decent roster this year and a decent crowd out in London, so they should be interesting. But nobody is going to read the whole Wheel of Time series in the packet. Either you’ve read the series or part of it and might read the last book too, or you won’t bother. (If you want to make an attempt when voting, read the first two books and the last one.) It may also be worth reminding on this topic that Battlefield Earth got itself on the nominee roster for the Hugos long ago — it didn’t win nor place. I don’t worry about the old, major awards — they roll along just fine, if not always with fan fare or outcomes everyone approves of.

  164. > I think I’m just going to sniff, tug my braid at you, then go read _all_ the nominated works and vote my conscience.

    Fantastic! That’s *exactly* the right response. :)

  165. I disagree with @Kat Goodwin about the Hugo being the “Second Best Known” SFF award (unless you’re counting Oscars that are won by by SFF films, or SFF books that make the New York Times Best Seller List.)

    I’d heard of the Hugos long before I heard of the Nebulas. I won’t disagree about the Nebula being more prestigious; a book award based on the opinions of authors is going to be different than a book award based on the opinions of readers, and I’d interpreted “Nebula is harder to get” to mean “you actually have to write a better book, not just one that more Hugo voters like”. I don’t know about economic value; the Hugo probably gets more book sales for the publisher, but which one gets a better next book contract for the author isn’t something I see as an outsider.

  166. (Note that my comment is a response to Kat’s April 21st comment – I didn’t see that she’d posted another one between the time I started writing mine and the time I finished it. Sorry about any confusion.)

  167. “Nebula is harder to get” to mean “you actually have to write a better book, not just one that more Hugo voters like”.

    I think another way of putting that is that you have to write a book that a bunch of SF writers would like, rather than one that Worldcon-attending SF fans would like.

    I’m pretty sure I had no idea what distinguished a Hugo from a Nebula when I first began seeing books that touted these honors. At a guess, I probably thought the Nebula sounded better because I knew a nebula was a cool thing, and Hugo just sounded a bit 19th century.

  168. I’m not reading it no matter what, Neil. Merely bad or dull writing is one thing; writing, albeit excellent, that will actually damage me psychologically and disturb my sleep and mental wellbeing for years to come is quite another.

  169. A Song of Ice and Fire can’t be nominated for the Hugos as a series because two of the individual titles in the series have been nominated for the Hugos already: A Storm of Swords and A Feast for Crows. Martin also won the Hugo for The Blood of the Dragon, which is basically Danys’ story excerpted from Game of Thrones as a novella. Wheel of Time is only able to be nominated for the whole series because none of the individual books in the series were nominated before. Thems the rules. Martin has won the Hugo multiple times, the Nebula multiple times, and won a Bram Stoker award as well (that’s the big horror one,) as well as being nomineed for nearly everything. There is no need to weep in a corner — Martin was beloved in the field long before he wrote Song of Ice and Fire. And Song of Ice and Fire was a big bestselling much loved series long before the t.v. series (and at this point, I do feel that it’s better than the t.v. series overall.) And an episode of Game of Thrones is up for the Short Form Drama Hugo Award this year.

    There are a lot of terrific works in SFFH that did not get on the Hugo final ballet. But that does happen every year.

  170. @Kat Goodwin Comiccon started small and is now huge while Worldcon remains small which iirc is how they wanted it. Anyway, since its so small it makes sense to campaign especially since our gracious host lost an award by one measly vote.
    As an aside comiccon also gives out the Eisner award which was recently hosted by SF bad boy Jonathan Ross who made fun of his BFF Neil Gaiman.

  171. @Kat Goodwin,

    I was referring to the fact that I think it unlikely that A Song of Ice and Fire will ever be completed.

  172. Alexvdl:

    I was referring to the fact that I think it unlikely that A Song of Ice and Fire will ever be completed.

    Yeah, I realized that later. I was like, wait, alexvdl probably meant whimpering about the series being finished. :) But even if the series is finished, it cannot go up as a whole for the Hugo, as individual titles got nominated in the past, including A Dance with Dragons, which I think got the nom just for having finally been published.

    The reason I didn’t get what you meant the first time is that I have essentially blocked as much as I can whining about Song being finished. It’s not a rational discussion and I’m deeply opposed to the notion of fiction authors as machine tools. So I just thought at first that you meant that he was dissed by the Hugos. My bad.

  173. Hey, it COULD be finished. Martin will never finish it, that seems clear; but Robert Jordan didn’t finish WoT either. So after Martin dies (and may it be many years hence!), we could get, say, Stephanie Meyer to finish it…

    I don’t actually let my cruel streak show that often anymore. It’s refreshing now and then. (And no, I don’t think Brandon Sanderson is as bad a writer as Meyer. They have certain things in common, but they’re not relevant to my joke here. Just get off my back, OK?)

  174. Xopher, that is in fact cruel. ;)

    Also, Teddy seems to have confirmed he’ll be at WorldCon. So that should be fun for all of the parties involved!

  175. Alexvdl, may I just say bwah hah hah. *strokes cat, looks at you amusedly through monocle*

    As for “Teddy,” has a current Hugo nominee ever been ejected from WorldCon?

  176. [Deleted because off topic and also let’s not import comments from elsewhere here, please — JS]

  177. Alexvdl:

    Also, Teddy seems to have confirmed he’ll be at WorldCon. So that should be fun for all of the parties involved!

    And we thought the Jonathan “Dryhump Assault My Female Guests” Ross was the big issue. This one at least doesn’t involve the sexism of the convention organizers.


    [Deleted for responding to deleted comment — JS]

  178. Drat it, that’s not fair. I just took a second to do that one, for once, so I didn’t refresh. Sorry for responding to deletion. Can erase mine too as needed.

  179. Most Dearest Sun,

    I am hoping that soon there will be kittens. I sooooo love kittens.

    I would settle for fluffy bunnies, though.

    pax / Ctein

  180. Matthew Watkins:

    You don’t know that Ocean at the End of the Lane didn’t get nominated; it may have been nominated and Neil Gaiman declined. He’s done it before — he declined a nomination for Anansi Boys, allowing the sixth book to get onto the ballot (that sixth book, incidentally, being Old Man’s War). So it’s possible Correia’s book is on the ballot for that reason, in which case, good on Neil for spreading around the Hugo love and allowing someone who’s never been on the ballot before a shot. It’s also entirely possible that Correia had enough nominations that he wasn’t the sixth nominee but was rather above that, in which case Neil’s act was nice for someone else.

    It’s also entirely possible that Neil’s book just didn’t get enough nominations regardless. Neil isn’t owed a Hugo slot, after all, any more than anyone else is.

  181. That’s true. He might have turned down the nomination. He might have gotten sixth place. We don’t really know.

    In any case, I certainly don’t think Neil is owed a Hugo simply because he’s Neil. I think that Ocean at the End of the Lane was the best genre fiction book of the last year, and that it is one of the best genre fiction books that I’ve ever read.

    Really, I’m just commenting on how the Hugo nominations made me sad this year.

  182. I’m curious about the angst we are hearing that Vox Day got nominated, when he is so obviously racist, etc. Yet, I don’t hear anyone complaining about the John W. Campbell award. I recently found a copy of The Mightiest Machine by John W. Campbell at a local used bookstore. I only knew him by his name on the award, so I was anxious to read this book. Lo and behold, the book was blatantly racist. Campbell indicates that the good-guy aliens actually came from Earth, as did the bad guys as well, Some that did not manage to escape into space after a war with the bad guy devil aliens crashed back onto earth. Only the ones who crashed in Europe remained pure, while those who crashed in Africa and other areas bred with the locals and were clearly inferior. Wow. He also consider genocide an obvious and acceptable solution to a conflict between two races. Never once is the idea of negotiation even considered. I since read more about the guy and his views were pretty awful.

    So, why is his name attached to an award and that’s okay and nobody seems to care, while a bottom feeder like Vox Day is roundly criticized for even being nominated for an award?

  183. Charles

    I think you would find ‘Chips’ Delany’s essay enlightening and well as horrifying.

    Back in 1968 ‘traditional story telling’ was code for ‘stuff written by white men about white men for white men to read’; it still is, but it’s too embarrassing to admit that they have been wailing about it for half a century, so they pretend that it’s new writers and new fans wickedly seeking to destroy a proud tradition.

    After all, Delany wrote some of the most readable SF in existence, so he has to be edited out of the narrative so they can carry on pretending that they aren’t really being racist…

  184. The fact that he’s dead and not currently getting in our faces with ongoing racist rhetoric may be a factor. Also, while it’s not unreasonable to question the appropriateness of this, some make allowances for prevailing attitudes of the time. While Campbell may have been reprehensible, it’s much worse to have those attitudes in 2014.

    The case that hurt my heart was L. Frank Baum, who wrote the wonderful Oz books. He was a horrible, virulent racist, who explicitly advocated the complete extermination of American Indians. If he weren’t dead I would certainly boycott his work, and my enjoyment of them has been tainted forever.

    Also, Campbell did some things for the field that were good, notably encouraging new writers. VD* has done nothing whatsoever that benefits the field or anyone in it with the barely-possible exception of himself.

    *These days we should say STD. I think we should call him that, and say that it stands for Sic Tyro Dixit. This IS 2014, after all. Oh, and his incompetent-troll minions? Someone elseweb suggested calling them Daysies. I approve.

  185. Oh, dear. I should have quoted or refreshed. I meant Campbell is dead, not Delany, and I certainly hope that will continue to be the case* for many years.

    *Delany being not-dead, I mean. I hope Campbell will stay dead permanently, and I expect that hope to be fulfilled.

  186. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the Philip K. Dick Award start out as a way to predict or recommend Hugo wins and noms?

  187. I don’t think so. It was started by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society with the help and funding of Dick’s estate. The award is one award only given to an original paperback title (mass market or trade paper) — no titles that had hardcover pub first. There definitely has ended up being some overlap, since most of the category market field was published in original paperback and a lot still is. However, as hardcover editions have become more and more a strategy in SFF to get reviews, library placement and initial sales/buzz, there has been more separation. However, Leckie, I think, was nominated for it last year.

  188. “So the novice said”? “People called Romanes they go the house”? Help me out here?

  189. Dear Xopher,

    Kittens were not forthcoming. Not even bunnies!

    I am distraught. My life is a tragedy.

    pax / disconsolate Ctein

  190. What I loved about the first Scalzi book I ever read (Old Man’s War) was the dry, somewhat gallows humor. I enjoy Correia’s MHI books for a similar reason…except he’s not dry or subtle. After nearly four decades of reading SF/F, I’ve come to enjoy the unusual, the strange, the thought provoking, and especially the turn of phrase that causes my lips to turn up or a brief chuckle. I’ve read books by everyone on the nomination list for novels, and I fully intend to read as much of the nominated works as I can.

    That said, when I cast my vote it will be because of Larry Correia. It won’t necessarily or even likely be his book or his recommendations. Truth be told I made three nominations on my slate, and only two including Warbound were selected. I would love to have seen a Scalzi novel there too. But the reason I credit Correia is because last year he pushed out word of how to make a nomination. I happen to read his blog, just like I read this one. They both make me laugh, think, and occasionally grit my teeth. After tens of thousands of novels and short stories read, I had no idea! And since WorldCon was in my home town last year, I signed up, sat down, read, and voted. That’s exactly what I propose to do this year.

    I joined WorldCon because I found out I could participate. I told dozens or more friends also, because they love the field too and had no more idea than I did. We talked about it on FB and even talked about favorite books and authors, which our non SF/F-literate friends went out and bought. Readership was increased, revenues were made, and in the end I’m pretty sure the top two/three novels selected were the right ones…maybe in a different order depending on your taste. But they were all well written and worth reading. I nominated two of them (our host and Ms. Bujold).

    At the end of the day, I couldn’t care less that our host (and one of my favorite authors) thinks I’m nuts because I believe in God, Jesus, Creation (and I’m good with evolution too…chill people). I just want him to publish more books that I can buy and he can make money to subsidize writing books that I can buy…

    The Hugos ought to embrace diversity of thought, styles, viewpoints and craft, and reward the ones that stand out. But in the meantime, I figure everybody should just chill and read the damned books.

  191. John may answer you, but I don’t think he thinks religious people are nuts. Not sure where you get that.

  192. @SteveB

    At the end of the day, I couldn’t care less that our host (and one of my favorite authors) thinks I’m nuts because I believe in God, Jesus, Creation (and I’m good with evolution too…chill people).

    How about caring about not putting words in other people’s mouths? Chill on the persecution complex. Just because someone doesn’t share your beliefs doesn’t mean they think your nuts. Do you think all Muslims are nuts? I’ll venture not.

    If you’re obliquely referring to John’s lampooning of that Young Earth Creationism museum in Kentucky, young Earth creationism is factually incompatible with the theory of evolution. So if you’re “cool with evolution” as you aver in your own entreat for us to chill out (again, just presuming we’re not chill), then your belief in Creation is logically not of the Young Earth variety, in which case you’re making a categorical mistake if you assume John’s view that YEC is nuts extends to encompass your nontrivially different beliefs. [all to be read in a totally chillaxed voice of courteous and cordial dissent]

  193. Supposedly Campbell insisted on Heinlein writing 6th Column and Campbell originally intended it to be more racist.

    *Delany being not-dead, I mean. I hope Campbell will stay dead permanently, and I expect that hope to be fulfilled.

    So if it weren’t we could have zombie dianetics, zombie general semantics, and zombie inertialess drives, or do we already have some of those?

  194. ::sigh:: Must ALL my literary heroes have feet of clay? (Just learned about “The Mightiest Machine”. ::puke:: )

    I think Heinlein stuck it to JWC by having a Japanese guy save the day.

  195. For the record, I don’t believe having religious beliefs are a sign one is nuts. I think there are some people doing or thinking stupid and/or terrible things and using religion as an excuse for it. But that’s a different thing entirely.

  196. The Ocean at the End of the Lane got nominated for quite a few awards, including the Nebulas. It absolutely deserves those noms (for my money it was one of the best books of the year), but I think it’s kind of neat that the various SF awards tend to have broadly distinct tastes.

  197. Supposedly Campbell insisted on Heinlein writing 6th Column and Campbell originally intended it to be more racist.

    From Expanded Universe (p.112-113):
    “{Sixth Column] was the only story of mine influenced to any marked degree by John W. Campbell Jr. He had in file an unsold story he had written some years earlier. JWC did not show me his manuscript; instead he told me the story line orally and stated that, if I would write it, he would buy it. … Writing Sixth Column was a job I sweated over. I had to reslant it to remove racist aspects of the original story line. … I do not consider it to be an artistic success.”

    I think Heinlein stuck it to JWC by having a Japanese guy save the day.

    There’s another subtle thing that Heinlein did as well; the Pan-Asians make more disparaging remarks against the Americans than the Americans make against the Pan-Asians.

  198. From commenter lighthill, here:

    Now my ice cream truck is painted like a cheerful Panzer tank,
    With a freezer full of ices and a fylfot on the flank.
    And the music box is set up—hey, it’s not against the law!—
    To play ‘Deutschland Uber Alles’ after ‘Turkey in the Straw.’
    And although I scorn the Untermensch, the deviant, the Jew:
    I tell them so politely, and I serve them ice cream too.
    But so narrow-minded are they (so unethical as well!)
    That they seldom come to sample the fine ice cream that I sell!
    Nor even will they enter into rational debates
    Scheduled daily in my ice cream truck with all my skinhead mates.
    So you see, it’s rankest prejudice—as blatant as it’s shitty—
    That my fine all-natural ice cream has not yet won “Best In City”.

    Quoted with permission.

  199. Heh. Good work, underhill. Thanks, Xopher, for reprinting it here.

    I posted my own brief thoughts about recent matters on my own blog. One of the points I raise is over whether it’s fair to refuse to read the writing of someone you despise. Some people are so loathsome and despicable that other people feel it necessary to declare them anathema. In the ecclesiastical sense, “anathema” includes excommunication, which includes forbidding them the sacraments. I suggest that in the literary world, having your work read by others is the equivalent of the sacraments.

  200. icowrich: I think it was the Locus awards that were begun as a way to recommend things for the Hugos.

  201. As has been noted before, L. Ron Hubbard fans pushed to get one of his books nominated some years ago — and it placed below No Award.

    Seems suitable for the likes of Vox Day, who has never written anything worth reading. All very well to nominate garbage — happens all the time — what matters is that the garbage loses on the final ballot.

  202. That isn’t really what matters to Correia and co. The important thing for them was to get on the ballot. It was a political statement that those who then object to the ballot, or more pointedly, to the political campaign waged about the ballot, are fake geek fans and authors, and that their focus on civil rights and discrimination in SFF issues — which usually effect the authors’ careers — is overwrought, not about real problems, intolerant, viciously attacking, hypocritically uncaring about real SFF over agendas, etc. Or, as Correia likes to call them, Sad Puppies, instead of fake geeks.

    If Day and/or others lose, that just shows, through this political protest ballot slate, how the fake geek sad puppies have taken over and destroyed SFF (and the Hugos are worthless,) seems to be the official stated position. Which is pretty much the usual stated position. And if they win, then the forces of real geekdom have shown the fake geeks they can’t be cowed.

    The fake geek approach is going to go on for awhile throughout various corners of books, games, comics, etc., especially towards women.

  203. Xopher: That my fine all-natural ice cream has not yet won “Best In City”.


  204. [I originally posted this on Pharyngula’s thread about Day’s story — PZ Myers says it “isn’t a shit-pile of misogyny and homophobia. It’s a bland semi-religious anecdote, with an elf” — but that thread has filled up with generalized political noise, and I’d feel better if it had more exposure in a place where there’s more SF-centric discussion. If you find this inappropriate, John, I apologize in advance.)

    “Authors are human, and humans can do things that are unpleasant, hateful, or bordering on the criminal. Should we let this affect our view of their work?” (topic of the ‘Separating Authors From Their Work’ panel at a con I attended a few years back; one of the preconditions to discussion was ‘let’s please not talk about any living authors’)

    So with that in mind, I read through Opera, giving it a fair shot, and… I’m not impressed. The conclusion had a genuine “oh, how sweet and sentimental” moment, but overall it’s flat and unimaginative. An elf becomes interested in human religion? There’s so much you could do with that. But in a world where the existence of multiple nonhuman sapient species is indisputable fact, it’s just not plausible that the theology would be so similar to ours. Considering elves (and, one would assume, goblins) to be wholly soulless? If they use tools and language, then they could be an asset to the Church and there should be some attempt to convert and absorb them. Maybe orphaned goblin children being raised in the monastery because villagers are afraid of them? With the basics of this world’s theology (how would the notion of ‘celestial incorruptibility’ be affected by having two moons? Might the complex orbital mechanics and frequent partial eclipses make it more obvious that they’re moving in three-dimensional space?) being provided to the children as part of elementary instruction, and the elf being present, and asking inconvenient questions which would also provide an interesting look at opposite viewpoints, maybe something about how can you believe in miracles if an elf can do magic?
    If the existence of magic and demons is a fact, then what even is the distinction you’re making between magic and miracle, between angel and demon? Why doesn’t the elf ask this? Why accept this as a god to be worshiped but that as a demon to be feared? Yes, the elf calls “exorcism” a “banishment spell” and calls “prayers” “rites”, and… that’s it? No explanation about why he’s wrong, just a statement that he is?

    And if we added goblin children, then when the goblin raiders attacked the monastery later, there could have been a poignant moment where a monk was killed trying to protect the children from the raiders, and then the raider killed the children, and the elf considered who was worse – the monk who believed that the goblins had no souls but wanted to protect them anyway, or the raider who worshiped the goblin god but killed goblin children. Or maybe even if a goblin child had grown up during the elf’s stay in the monastery, and become a novice monk, and so many more things that could have been done with this basic scenario. And instead we just got… this.

    Why wasn’t there anything about the elf’s own religion, even if only to indicate how human religion was preferable? If the monastery was getting yearly visits from a demon creature that kept telling the elf “come back to the Collegium”, then why was it just goblin raiders who destroyed the monastery? Why wasn’t there a note left in the wreckage that said “YOU SHOULD HAVE COME BACK TO US”?

    It’s even got BAD THEOLOGY. How can an immortal elf who knows his own age (he says he’s “more than three hundred years old”) argue that “either there are no incorruptible things to be found in the world, or no incorruptible thing ever begins to exist”? In case Vox ever reads this and doesn’t understand my point, let me be more clear: a physically immortal being is incorruptible (unless you’ve made some distinction between the two concepts IN WHICH CASE YOU SHOULD HAVE MENTIONED IT), the elf is immortal and incorruptible and exists in the world, and the elf has a definite age which means that the elf has a beginning, which means that the elf is making an argument which is disproved by his own existence. If the priest had said this, the elf could have replied that he was not immortal, the oldest elf ever died at the age of only 1253…

    The best thing about this story is the ideas it inspires in me as to how it could have been done better; it’s barely even interesting, and only for what it could have been. It’s competently written only in that it does not have significant errors of grammar, spelling, or vocabulary. It’s not Hugo material. I am ranking this story ’0′, below ‘no award’, and leaving it off my ballot.

    What’s really interesting is the “other works by this author” section at the end. Apparently, Vox has written an anthology called “Altar of Hate”. I’m not sure which would be worse — if he realized the implications of this title, or if he didn’t.

  205. I’ve also read the piece. I wasn’t amazed, but I was able to get into it and care about what happened to the characters, which to my taste puts it ahead of some of the nominated works in previous years. I haven’t read the rest of the category. I don’t expect it to fare very well on my ranking, but I’ll put it ahead of ‘no award’.

  206. This is another instalment of a war which has been in progress since the 1960s; I have been rereading some of Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion series to compare and contrast with Vox Day’s elf story.

    The New Wave was, and is, loathed by Vox Day and his ilk, but it has stood the test of time in spectacular fashion; I find it hard to believe that anyone who has actually read one or more of Moorcock’s novellas would regard the elf story as a worthy companion on their book shelves.

    VD et al are, of course, disingenuous in their claims that they are merely trying to roll back John’s insect army; John hadn’t even been born when the New Wave started knocking down their sand castles. They have to be disingenuous because their story doesn’t work if you know the facts; presumably they hope that if they keep lying for long enough all the people who know the facts will die of boredom and/or give up reading SF/F altogether…

  207. Stevie writes:

    I find it hard to believe that anyone who has actually read one or more of Moorcock’s novellas would regard the elf story as a worthy companion on their book shelves.

    It has been a very long time since I read Moorcock. I find your mention of Moorcock interesting because while I was reading it I was thinking, this elf isn’t an elf so much as a Melnibonean, though I assume that is coincidental to your point.

    I’m generally a little unclear about what is and isn’t New Wave, since it had been a going concern for a while by the time I starting reading SF, as it was for John, and Day. One doesn’t hear much about it as a distinct thing anymore.

    I’m not really sure what features you have in mind that Moorcock’s work has that you think the Day’s ought to have and does not. I’m not sure what I would think of the Eternal Champion stuff if I was discovering it now for the first time.

  208. Mike: you’d probably notice that it’s fairly schlocky. You’d certainly notice that the second series you read had exactly the same plot as the first (justified by the “it all happens over and over in parallel universes” dodge).

    By the time you got to Gloriana, you’d be so royally sick of the Eternal goddam Champion that even the better writing, more believable characters, and more credible dialogue wouldn’t cut any mustard with you.

    Oh wait, that’s what happened to me when I read it.

    If you meet someone who’s never read Moorcock, tell them a) don’t; watch some paint dry instead. If you can’t get them to do that tell them b) read Gloriana and give the rest a miss.

  209. I don’t think many of the latter-Day members of SF’s putative old guard have a clue about what the New Wave was to SF, because they’re just interested in whining about the left, hence the Correia slate of nominations in all its awfulness, and the sneering that it somehow represents good SF. It doesn’t. Not that clunkers can’t win Hugos or that nomination campaigns don’t happen, but that Correia’s slate is so obviously political in nature and has nothing to do with even a revanchist effort to return Campbellian-era SF to its former glory.

    Anyway, the New Wave, shorter version, was primarily about improving the literary quality of SF, and secondarily about exploring what Tom Disch has called “Inner Space” in terms of its subject matter not being stuck on spaceships and rayguns. Moorcock wasn’t part of the new wave as much as bringing a punk sensibility to SF&F, and honestly, Moorcock’s work hasn’t stood the test of time all that well. But it was definitely popular back in the 1970s.

    As for kicking out certain malcontents from SFWA and the plaintive wail that it’s not “tolerant” to do that, oh, come on. It’s not as if fandom hasn’t ostracized members from its ranks before because they were flaming assholes. As for the agony of having those beloved chicks in chainmail held up for criticism and ridicule, so what? If I was a writer on the make, I’d find a way to have my cheesecake served up in ways that weren’t stupidly sexist and fill my bank up with all the checks I’d get. Ka-ching!

  210. David W

    Re Moorcock

    I hesitate to return the discussion to facts, but it still sells, hence the Tor reissues and their ongoing reads and rereads at the Tor site. Editors don’t do that because they are nostalgic for the New Wave, even if they are; they do it to make money. Which it does.

    Of course, Moorcock wrote a lot, and not all of it is gold, but I’ll rate even my least favourite incarnation of the Eternal Champion, Elric, as 100 times better than VD’s elf; Moorcock has done his magnificent best to put a stake through the heart of Tolkien imitators, though that one is probably beyond the powers of any mortal.

    Any author prepared to provide his heroes with soul eating swords, and there have been quite a few of them, does so in happy recognition of Moorcock’s path finding almost half a century ago; one of the best is Steven Brust, but I doubt that even Brust would end his series in the way that Moorcock polished Elric off.

    I’m prepared to concede that his finest character was probably Stormbringer itself…

  211. It’s nice to know that Moorcock still sells, and he’s a vastly better writer than poseurs like V.D.

  212. Xopher

    I entirely concede your personal right to grade everything you have read, or, indeed, everything you have not read, as you see fit.

    Given Moorcock’s remarkably prolific output, his extensive rewriting, his outreach, his willingness to accept other authors into his universe, and the length of time that he has been writing, it seems likely that you simply haven’t read very much of his work; of course, you have even less familiarity with his non-genre writing since you live elsewhere and therefore have no cultural exposure to British non-genre literature.

    His 1988 novel ‘Mother London’ was short listed for the Whitbread Prize, which is a major literature prize in this country; another of his novels ‘The Condition of Musak’ won the Guardian Prize for fiction, which is also highly regarded.

    He stands alongside the late, lamented Ian Banks as a British writer capable of writing both genre and mainstream fiction. You’ll forgive me, I’m sure, for suggesting that if you were less ignorant of his work you might realise that there is a very large gap between Vox Day and Moorcock…

  213. If you meet someone who’s never read Moorcock, tell them a) don’t; watch some paint dry instead. If you can’t get them to do that tell them b) read Gloriana and give the rest a miss.

    The last time I was asked about this, I think I told them that they were works of their time and that my suspicion was that my memory of reading them as a teen were probably much fonder than actually deserved.

    I’ve only read Elric, Corrum, and one other eternal champion. I do remember the one scene where the three champions met that appeared in all three.

    Perhaps I missed out by not reading other Moorcock.

  214. David W.:

    I don’t think many of the latter-Day members of SF’s putative old guard have a clue about what the New Wave was to SF, because they’re just interested in whining about the left,

    The pre-New Wave Old Guard is mostly gone. The current SF Old Guard ARE some of the New Wave SF writers, like Robert Silverberg, and they are the ones bitching about how we don’t have to deal with any of this overwrought civil rights, sexual harassment, diversity, genre discrimination stuff because they took care of all that back in the 1960’s and 1970’s. They marched and everything. Hung out with Samuel Delaney and Octavia Butler. And they fought for free speech, which they’ve now apparently decided means that no one is allowed to bring up that fifty years later, SFF is still 75% white (even higher in YA/children’s,) and still treats women authors and fans as if they were “recent invaders” even though they make up half of all the authors and average out to about half the fans — and pretty much did in the past too, just not as vocally.

    If you do bring those issues up, if you challenge stuff others say and bug conventions about harassment policies, you are persecuting the far right folk who don’t see this as a problem that is blocking folks’ careers. You aren’t trying to expand the audience for SFF; you are instead censoring, being pretentious, too loud, too hysterical, too feminist, too too. Because you are raising issues that say that they and SFF are maybe not where they thought they were going long ago. Or because they were always conservative (New Wave didn’t mean necessarily liberal.)

    Neither Beale nor Correia are quite of the New Wave generation. They are of a different, later set that includes several age groups — a strong strain of conservatism that arose out of the moral march and right wing media rise of the 1990’s. They range from far right to right, with a fair number of conservative libertarian. And they have a narrative of these issues being a ravening horde destroying SFF fandom (fake geeks.)

    This has produced some weird partnerships. Like a Latino writer putting a white supremicist on his suggested Hugo voting slate, or C.J. Cherryh signing a petition that says her past feminism was evil.

  215. Stevie, it’s interesting that you assume I couldn’t have read British non-genre literature. While I haven’t read Moorcock’s non-genre literature (to the extent there is such a thing; I regard “literary fiction” as a genre privileged not to call itself one), I wonder what logic leads you to that conclusion.

    Of Moorcock’s genre fiction, I have read:

    —the Melnibonean saga,
    —the Erekosë books (not the graphic novel),
    —the Jerry Cornelius books,
    —the Corum books,

    and possibly others. Jherek Carnelian looks familiar too. Oh, and Gloriana.

    That’s enough to get a pretty good feel for his style, such as it is, and skills, such as they are, in genre fiction. Perhaps he does better in mainstream fiction; I have no way of knowing. In genre he’s a tedious hack. Since I never threw any of his books across the room, I must agree that there’s a large gap between him and VD.


    I’ve only read Elric, Corrum, and one other eternal champion. I do remember the one scene where the three champions met that appeared in all three.

    Do you know that that chapter appears word-for-word in three different books? He doesn’t write the same event from three different points of view, or in different styles, or anything, just pastes in the same text. It’s not clever, it’s hackery.

    Perhaps I missed out by not reading other Moorcock.

    Unlikely, if you got bored with the Eternal Champion after three iterations. Unless Stevie is right that his non-genre fiction is quality, which is possible.

    To be fair, Gloriana is not at all bad; I only hated it because it was yet another EC book, and I was bored to death with that plot. And it’s the most recent of his books that I’ve read. So there’s a slope there; maybe he started writing non-genre after that, or took more care with it (there’s a story about him typing on rolls of paper and mailing them off without even looking at them, though this may be apocryphal). Maybe he became a good writer after I stopped reading him (or just before, because as I said Gloriana is not bad).

  216. Xopher: In genre he’s a tedious hack.

    Why in the world would you read all those books by an author whose style you dislike? School assignment or something?

  217. Moorcock wasn’t part of the new wave as much as bringing a punk sensibility to SF&F, and honestly, Moorcock’s work hasn’t stood the test of time all that well.

    Perhaps I rely too much on wikipedia. I thought Moorcock was considered to be a key figure of the New Wave.

    Unlikely, if you got bored with the Eternal Champion after three iterations. Unless Stevie is right that his non-genre fiction is quality, which is possible.

    I never actually decided not to read any more, it’s just that the stuff I was reading didn’t seem to include any more Moorcock.

    Do you know that that chapter appears word-for-word in three different books?

    Nope, I had no idea. I didn’t have access to them at the same time.

    What other writers should we discuss on the grounds that they aren’t Vox Day?

    Mike J.

  218. Greg: I was young. I had a friend who kept telling me how great it all was.

    What other writers should we discuss on the grounds that they aren’t Vox Day?

    Come to think of it, you’re right. That is kinda stupid. Let’s stop.

  219. What other writers should we discuss on the grounds that they aren’t Vox Day?


    But I suggest Brandon Sanderson, because he is awesome. And Our Host, for the same reason. And Mary Robinette Kowal, because she is brilliant.

  220. Xopher

    I was putting forward a possible explanation for your obvious ignorance of Moorcock’s non-genre writing which did not depend on my assuming you to be simply ignorant; in my experience people from different cultures may have common ground in familiarity with genre writing but tend not to be au fait with what is usually simply described as the literature, or the mainstream literature, of other cultures.

    It is somewhat difficult to reconcile your statement that in genre Moorcock is a tedious hack with your statement that ‘Gloriana’ is not a bad book; your outrage at the speed which many writers, including Moorcock, wrote in the 1960s does seem rather precious. It’s very much the sort of Eng Lit school of criticism which demanded that each sentence be agonisingly quarried from the deepest reaches of the artist’s soul, whilst said artist starved in a garret, and if it wasn’t then it couldn’t possibly be art.

    The New Wave was a reaction to that view of literature as a whole, and the genre thing is a sideshow. Tolkien wasn’t regarded as genre; when Moorcock created an albino elf who most certainly wasn’t going to the Havens he wasn’t writing genre literature. He was seeking to overturn beliefs about the nature of art, and he succeeded in that, just as he succeeded in overturning conventions about gender which had hitherto simply not been mentioned in anything outside the sort of pornography which could result in a jail sentence.

    Somehow I can’t see Vox Day managing that…

  221. The discussion of Moorcock made me curious whether the band he collaborated with, Hawkwind, could be found on YouTube. It turns out that it can.

  222. Mike

    Thanks for reminding me; it’s been a while since I last listened to them but they have a place in my heart. Hawkwind did an unofficial gig at the Bath Festival back in 1970, and whilst it wasn’t up to ‘Warrior at the Edge of Time’ standards, it was still pretty good.

    Admittedly, my critical faculties at the time may not have been altogether assisted by substances not conducive to reasoned judgement, but the same rule would apply to all the other bands, so the rankings do lend some support to my view that they were pretty good even then.

    And now I suppose I should strive to get back on topic; I don’t think that the works of Vox Day could inspire an ice cream van jingle, much less a classic, groundbreaking album which is still highly regarded…

  223. I recently finished reading Correia’s GrimNoir Chronicles, and it just occurred to me that this is really a secret Pastafarian tract. The Power is generally described as a blob with invisible threads (noodles) reaching out to the worthy, granting them special powers.You sly dog, Larry!

  224. [Deleted because, among other things, there’s irony in calling someone else “ignorant” and then misspelling the word – JS]

  225. Hmm, this has been a rather enlightening piece. And actually highlighted a few books I might need to dump on my kindle for whenever I ride on the shuttle to work.

    I will admit, I am a fan of Larry’s. I also found Mr. Scalzi in a recommendation by Prof. Reynolds some time ago, and Redshirts has been the best thing I’ve read for science fiction recently, much like the Grimnoir series was for my little obsession with steampunk/dieselpunk stuff (I blame the anime Last Exile for that).

    Is there truth in the Sad Puppies campaign? Maybe, maybe not. Though I like the fact he did what he did best, and not only he put his money where is mouth is, he also went ahead and said “oh by the way guys, here’s some awesome books by other authors” that made me dip too much into the food funds.

    I’m just annoyed at the knee jerk reaction. On both sides. No awards under Larry’s stuff, or you are an idiot libprog because reasons. And don’t explain it to me because reasons.

    People are saying this is going to be the next big fight for SF/F’s soul. I just want to read a good book, regardless on the author’s personal politics. If that was the case I’d had dropped Scalzi like a grenade with the spoon released, Flint, etc etc. No. They write books that entertained me.

    And again, Correia isn’t going “let’s piss them off”, more “these are good books, but if they piss em off it’s a bonus”.

  226. I finally got around to reading “Opera Vita Aeterna.” It really seems incomprehensible to me that anyone who actually read it nominated it. The difference in quality between it and the other nominees that I’ve read in the category is staggering (I still need to read Mary Robinette Kowal’s piece). At the moment Ted Chiang’s piece is my favorite in the category.

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