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.