Thoughts On the Hugo Awards, 2014

In no particular order (and for reference, the winners are here):

1. I am super-delighted that the Hugo Best Novel Award went to Ancillary Justice. One, because it’s fantastic, but two, because I feel entirely unwarranted pride in Ann Leckie’s career, because I gave her her first professional sale, and was delighted to give Ancillary Justice a blurb for when it came out. I had nothing to do with the book’s success, other than receive the pleasure of letting people know I thought it was great. I’m still super proud of its clean sweep of the major SF/F awards, and of Ann. This is just great.

2. I’m also giggling that Charlie Stross name-checked me and Lou Anders when he won for Equoid; I remember that fateful night in Denver in 2008, when the messy seeds of that story were planted with two words, the two words being “unicorn bukkake.” And now, Charlie’s got a Hugo out of it. That’s just about perfect.

3. Also: Mary Robinette Kowal! Who is one of my favorite people on the planet. Some of you may know that her Hugo-wining novelette was disqualified last year, despite having enough nominations to make the slate, because its first appearance was in audio form. It then appeared in word form, and here we are. I’m thrilled that it got a chance to be considered in another year, although frankly it should have never been disqualified at all. I do believe a proposed rule change would have audio-first stories considered in fiction categories along with print-first stories. I think that’s wise.

4. And generally I am delighted with the slate of winners in other categories as well. I think there was a fair amount of concern that the large increase of Hugo voters this year was going to be evidence of (for lack of a better phrase for them) “single issue” voters — specifically those voting only for Wheel of Time or participating because of the “sad puppy” slate of conservative writers. But the voting tallies suggest that if there were “single issue” voters, they were swamped out by people who did their homework and then voted from there. To which I say: Well done, Loncon 3 voters! You done good.

5. You’ve seen me snark about it, I’m sure, but now that the voting is over, what did I really think of the “sad puppy” slate of nominees championed by Larry Correia and others? What I thought at the beginning, which was: The folks pushing the slate played within the rules, so game on, and the game is to convince people that the work deserves the Hugo. It does not appear the voters were convinced. As a multiple Hugo loser myself, I can say: That’s the breaks, and better luck another year.

With that said, Correia was foolish to put his own personal capital as a successful and best selling novelist into championing Vox Day and his novelette, because Vox Day is a real bigoted shithole of a human being, and his novelette was, to put it charitably, not good (less charitably: It was like Gene Wolfe strained through a thick and rancid cheesecloth of stupid). Doing that changed the argument from something perfectly legitimate, if debatable — that conservative writers are often ignored for or discounted on award ballots because their personal politics generally conflict with those of the award voters — into a different argument entirely, i.e., fuck you, we got an undeserving bigoted shithole on the Hugo ballot, how you like them apples.

Which is a shame. It’s fine for Correia to beclown himself with Day, if such is his joy, and he deserves to reap the fruits of such an association. I suspect, however, there are others whom he championed for his “sad puppy” slate who were less thrilled to find themselves looped in with Day by involuntary association. Likewise, Correia is a good writer and his works are fun to read and easy to enjoy; others he championed are likewise fine writers, and their works deserving of award consideration. He didn’t do his work, or the work of these other writers, any favors by muddling his message with Day’s nonsense.

Now, I understand Correia will be happy to tell you that his Hugo loss doesn’t matter to him, which is fine. I do wonder if he considered how other people that were seen as part of his slate feel the same way, or whether he’d do them or their careers any damage by associating them with a bigoted shithole, or that if he really wanted to make the argument that a particular set of writers are ignored by award voters, that he went about making the argument in just about the worst way possible. Bad strategy, bad tactics, bad result.

6. About the entire Wheel of Time series being nominated, again, fully within the rules, so game on, and I would have been honestly happy for Brandon Sanderson if he’d picked up the Hugo with Robert Jordan. I think people underestimate the skill and talent required to do what Brandon did over the course of three books, which was to satisfy the long-term fans of the series, bring the series to a well-developed end with all the story arcs closed up and and emotions earned, and to keep his own ego as a writer in check as he did it. Think that’s easy? I sure as hell don’t — and as a writer, I couldn’t have done it. If Wheel of Time had won, Brandon would have earned every millimeter of that rocket, and I would have been cheering for him.

Likewise, I was never particularly worried about Wheel of Time voters being “single issue” voters — that is, voting only for Wheel of Time and then blowing off the rest of the ballot. Anecdotally, I know a fair sampling of Wheel of Time readers, and none of them only read Wheel of Time. Having the series on the ballot may have brought in new voters, but it seems like they took their voting seriously. So there you have it.

7. In sum: A very good year for the Hugos; indeed, a vintage year. Congratulations to the winners; congratulations to the nominees; congratulations to the voters. See you next year in Spokane.

189 Comments on “Thoughts On the Hugo Awards, 2014”

  1. I strongly disagree with you one point:

    “Gene Wolfe strained through a thick and rancid cheesecloth of stupid” would still be incredible, because Gene Wolfe is that good.

  2. The Vox Day story struck me as entirely harmless. It wasn’t a bad story, it wasn’t especially good either. Harmless. Dull.
    Wish is not to suggest that Mr Day is a nice person.

  3. Nickpheas:

    It initially struck me as entirely inert — meriting neither real praise nor criticism — but the more time I spent reading it the more I realized what it was trying and actively failing to do, and that tipped it into “actually bad” territory for me. Obviously, of course, your mileage may vary.

  4. I’d note that Vox Day’s was the only one that ended up BELOW “No Award”. This demonstrates that everybody recognized that the rest of the “Sad Puppy” slate was at least, y’know, actually publishable words on a page. Not Hugo-worthy, which is why they didn’t vote for them, but not EMBARRASSING.

    Vox Day’s work was the only genuinely embarrassingly bad thing on that slate. I’m absolutely certain that, if he wasn’t part of that thing, the rest of the works would have done better. They’re certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, and they’re certainly not even in the same LEAGUE as the ones that actually WON, but there were probably some years in the Sixties and Seventies where they could have made a decent showing. They were generally competent.

  5. Ian Osmond:

    Other than the Day story, there was nothing on the literature ballots I found entirely objectionable in terms of quality. Which is to say that in other years there were works on the ballot that I found less worthy than what was on the ballot this year. Indeed, depending on how one felt about “Shadow War of the Night Dragons,” which was nominated for short story two years ago, it’s entirely possible that something I wrote was less worthy than anything on this year’s ballot, save Day’s piece.

  6. In retrospect I’m glad I didn’t know who all was on the “sad puppy” slate. I enjoyed a number of them and I’m not sure I would have if I knew they were associated (without the authors’ permissions I’m assuming) with *that* author.

  7. I remember thinking, months and months ago, on reading Ancillary Justice, “This book is going to win the Hugo.” I am so glad to be proved right. Takes nothing away from the other nominees, but oh my that is one superb book.

  8. I would certainly not rule out any suggestion that there was a subtext that I’d missed.
    I think the last place was deserved, but novelette was a fairly strong category.

  9. I was particularly stoked that Randall Munroe’s “Time” from xkcd was recognized. I got caught up in the excitement as it unfolded and am still stunned that stick figures can be so compelling. I blogged last year that I hoped it would get nominated. My next prediction is that Black Hat will somehow make an appearance to commemorate this achievement.

    Dr. Phil

  10. I believe that the clarification on the audiobooks issue – basically that a narrated audiobook is a book (or novella or novellette or whatever) by any other name, and is a different thing altogether from a full-cast recording which belongs in Dramatic Presentation – made it out of committee and would be up for voting at the business meeting next year.

  11. I kinda wonder how some of the other nominees on the Sad Puppies slate feel about the whole thing- Dan Wells and Howard Taylor (who Correia nominated despite not being eligible this year) come to mind in particular, but I doubt we’ll hear much on it from them, since from what I can tell, they’re both extremely drama averse.

  12. mountainwashere:

    Yes. Now that the voting’s done, I’m inclined to just let it be part of the past in any event.

    And to be absolutely clear in case I wasn’t before, I think anyone who automatically discounts an author’s work because they were perceived as part of the slate is doing themselves (and the authors) a disservice. Not everyone on the slate was there entirely by choice, and again, aside from Day’s work, to my mind there was nothing on the slate that wasn’t a perfectly reasonable selection for the ballot, writing-wise.

  13. Yeah, Randall Munroe’s Time was probably the most surprising win to me. I thought it was great, but I really had no idea how the general mass of Hugo voters would react to something so unusual. Of course, his xkcd strip is extremely popular, but Time was a thing in a class very much its own.

    Overall, I’m quite pleased with the results from this years slate. Congrats to all the winners.

  14. My only complaint is that I can’t find an image of Mary Robinette Kowel receiving her Hugo.

    I loved the story, but I also create historically accurate garments (or at least those where I can use substitutes for things like whalebone) so I would really like to see her costume.

    Provided it doesn’t reduce the frothing at the mouth brigade to downright hysteria, that is.

    On second thoughts, let them froth; life’s too short to waste time on them. Back to the image search!

  15. For the record, i was one of the “wheel of time voters,” having never considered voting for the Hugos until I learned I could get a discount set of WOT ebooks. But, as you suggested, i took the voting pretty seriously, i read 90% of the packet and voted in almost every category, even a few of the retro ones, and I only voted things below “no award” if they were unreadable. I would have liked to see WOT win, but not at the expense of being unfair to some other great writers.

  16. @Stevie: If you don’t mind video, you can see the recording of the ceremony at this link: (Mary’s acceptance happens at around the hour-and-45-minute mark).

    Also, pardon me if I squee a little bit at XKCD: Time winning. I loved watching that comic frame change hour-by-hour. A well-deserved win for a refreshingly new type of presentation.

  17. I’d argue that the Torgenson’s are worse – obviously a matter of taste. But theta something so retrograde about them that I found Day’s turgid prose and dull setting to be less offensive.

  18. CRash

    Thank you! The site is running very slowly so I will try again in the morning…

  19. “I think people underestimate the skill and talent required to do what Brandon did over the course of three books…”

    Sanderson has stated, on his Writing Excuses podcast that he went through 19 editing passes on one of those books. (I don’t think he was exaggerating.) I feel faint at estimating how much work that was, after the novel was drafted, even if he is a fast-moving editing machine. It makes the project sound almost Sisyphean.

  20. I *really* wanted the Wheel of Time to win. Until I read Ancillary Justice. I’m glad it won.

    If it had been just Sanderson’s contributions, I’d have preferred that to Leckie’s work. But there was enough mediocracy in the middle of the WOT that I have to prefer Ancillary Justice.

    And I have to say, though I think Sanderson is the best author currently writing (with apologies to our host!), I am very much looking forward to more novels by Leckie.

  21. Interesting that Gaiman declined his nomination for “Ocean at the End of the Lane”, according to the final voting results. Now I’m wondering if it had something to do with the Ross debacle–he mentioned he was more ambivalent about the Hubos in the wake of that–or if it’s part of some general policy of his to decline them, as I’ve heard a few other people say.

    Thrilled with XKCD’s win. That was the one I was really pulling for, and it’s awesome that it took first prize. Randall Munroe is a sublime artist, stick figures or no.

  22. I said to the bookseller, “I want to read this book (Ancillary Justice) while on vacation. Will you get stickers to put on existing stock after it wins the Hugo?”

  23. I am a WoT voter and I voted for most of the down list. Some I didn’t because I couldn’t figure out how to vote or didn’t care. Long Form Editor. Seriously. Not enough there for me to vote for this category. Short Form, had sample stories to see if I liked them. They really need to have authors that worked with the long form editors explain what these editors did for them. I couldn’t figure it out.

    Didn’t vote for the TV or Movie awards. There was no chance those wouldn’t get enough votes. I don’t watch alot of movies or SciFi shows.

    They should not have a requirement for % of voters to give an award. If your not interested in a category don’t vote for it. Your better off with less votes in a category if the people who vote like the category.

    I do have one question for the forum… what the hell is the difference between Semi-prozine and Fanzine? The definition was identical on the damn ballot. To me it was ‘one had Elitist Book reviews’ and one did not. When I went to the sites all were good quality.

    This was the first time I have ever read an ebook. Read on my ipad. Not a huge fan. Ipad is kind of bulky and I like the feel of a book better.That being said, I signed up for subscriptoins for Analog and Aasimovs. I may sign up for Clarkesworld short stories on my ipad. Really getting into short stories.

    I think next year we should do a ‘sad puppy’ and nominate a story by Zach Adams. He writes short stories for anyone who donates to him and his brother for Dwarf Fortress. Its a rather active site… the game is free. by the new version just came out.
    The motto is ‘losing is fun’. if you want to get an idea of what I mean by this google ‘boatmurdered’.

    One final note. Disappointed that WoT didn’t win. I think John’s blog post on this is flawed. I know Brandon is your friend, but if it had one it would be because of Robert Jordan. Its his series. Brandon would still be a mid list author if it wasn’t for taking over this series. Alot of SFWA members never would have been published without that series. George RR Martin talked about that on his blog when RJ died.

  24. I never read Day’s novelette, in part because I am turned off by the bad Latin. Why is every word in the title in the nominative case? Methinks “vita aerterna” should be in the genitive instead? I mean, it’s been almost twenty years since my last Latin class but this title didn’t even try so far as I can tell? Titles are a really important part of marketing and this one failed because bad translation.

    I am happy with the winner in this category — “Lady Astronaut of Mars” was a lovely story. I’m more partial to de Bodard’s “The Waiting Stars” which was originally published in what I consider the most brilliant anthology in SF/F. But between those two, it’s a tough choice.

  25. VilcMania:

    Neil’s declined novel nominations before — for example, in 2006, when he took Anansi Boys out of contention, opening up a slot on the ballot for… Old Man’s War. So I suspect he intended to remove himself from the ballot independent of the Ross fracas.

  26. After one of our conversations at DetCon1 I was convinced that I should, as you suggested, give all the Hugo candidates a chance. The game is the important piece, if you don’t play it will break. I have to say that “Opera Vita Aeterna” was the worst piece of trash I’ve ever had the displeasure of wasting $0.99 on, but worse than that waste is knowing that I’ll never get that time back.

    The good news is the realization that if you use your fiction as a platform to convey a narrow-minded political objective, you’ll likely come across to your audience as obtuse and ill-informed.

  27. I checked out a certain person’s website and it appears he copied, expensively, off your paper.

    And I’m embarrassed that I don’t know quite what “pinkshirts” means in context.

  28. I’m turning off the comments for the night, because I don’t imagine this thread won’t sprout trolls overnight. The comments will be back on in the morning, possibly a little later than usual, as I have to take my daughter to her first day of school, and then my mother-in-law to a doctor’s appointment. Be patient! They’ll be back on eventually!

    Update: Comments back on.

  29. Judging by what little I know of the writer’s mindset, Neil removing himself from contention is a combination of the two contradictory ideas:
    1) I’m already such a megastar and I’m obviously going to win if I get nommed, so I’ll be nice to the little people and take my name off the ballot.
    2) But what if I don’t win? I mean, people I’m close to tell me it’s a good book, but they’re just sparing my feelings. I know the real score. Oh my god I can’t believe I let a book this shoddy get out and if people actually read it they’ll probably discover I’ve been a fraud THE WHOLE TIME. I have no business being a writer, look at these other books up for consideration? They’re so much better than me! I better not even compete, that way I can’t lose!

    But perhaps Neil is better than that. :)

  30. I wasn’t surprised by Day finishing below “No Award”. I was a bit surprised by Correia almost finishing below “No Award”.

    Lie down with dogs …

  31. Re the poor neglected conservative writers. In my not at all humble opinion we should consider more than literary esthetics when judging a story’s worth. If one finds the politics or social dynamics or whatever if a given piece if work to be dangerous or damaging or downright revolting it would be irresponsible to laud the excellence of the writing. In the end, of course, it’s individual taste and de gustibus. Of course, I’m a well-known bleeding-heart liberal.

  32. Well. I’m very glad _Ancillary Justice_ won.

    I’m sure we’ll be hearing from the Sad Puppies again–the Saddest Puppy has been asking for a Hugo every year since he was asking for a Hugo and a Campbell in the same post (since when it comes to what the Saddest Puppy thinks the Saddest Puppy deserves, the Saddest Puppy does not think small.) The pattern suggests that despite the Saddest Puppy advocating that we weigh authors’ worth by their wallets and bragging about his earnings, he has a deep insecurity that no amount of money–or adulation–or Hugos for that matter, despite what he thinks now–is going to fill.

    If that was the best of the best of conservative SF, it did about as well as could be expected. There is a reason I don’t pick up milSF unless a lot of my friends are squeeing about it (or it’s by a handful of writers who I know make it more about the people than the guns.) It’s purely a personal taste issue, to like stories about people better than stories about guns–like liking rocky road ice cream better than vanilla–but apparently while you can sell a lot of vanilla ice cream, it didn’t win the best ice cream contest.

    In the meantime, to make the Sad Puppies’ life more interesting, those of us who bought supporting memberships to this Worldcon can nominate for next year’s Hugos. And we really should. I would recommend we each nominate five works in each category. Enough honest voices can swamp out further attempts to put dreck on the ballot for political reasons.

    Of course we wouldn’t nominate to make the Saddest Puppy’s head explode. But if a work was really good *but* its nomination would make Saddest Puppy’s head explode, that drawback probably wouldn’t keep me, at least, from nominating it.

    I hope it’s not premature to say that I, for example, really enjoyed Alex Dally MacFarlane’s series of columns on gender in science fiction and moving beyond the gender binary. Will it make it into my top five? Can’t say yet; I’m still reading. But if it does, it will be on my list for the “Best Related Work” category. Likewise Ursula Vernon’s “Toad Words” is currently among my faves in the short story category–she won’t make any heads explode as far as I know, but making heads explode isn’t my point.

  33. I have very mixed feelings about Dr Who. But it wasn’t an award for best 50-year-old TV series. And I can see why all the winners won, which has not always been the case.

  34. I read both Day and Correia. The Day was IMV poorly written and not even a very good plot to start with. So I was one of those who placed it below ‘no award’ as in my view on writing quality alone it should not have been on the ballot. (I was aware of the background but tried to set that aside.) Correia can write entertainingly and well, and I was happy to vote for him.

    I shall have to re-read AJ because at the moment I just don’t get why it’s considered to be so good. I preferred Neptune’s Brood.

  35. Reblogged this on Brainfluff and commented:
    I’ve been following some of the LonCon doings on Twitter, wishing I was there… But in the wake of the 2014 Huge Awards ceremony I thought I’d do the next best thing and reblog John Scalzi’s thoughts on the whole thing. Congratulations to everyone who won!

  36. “With that said, Correia was foolish to put his own personal capital as a successful and best selling novelist into championing Vox Day and his novelette, because Vox Day is a real bigoted shithole of a human being, and his novelette was, to put it charitably, not good.”

    This is the part that baffles me about the recent martyring of Vox Day. Of all hills, they chose this one to die on?

    All it does is 1. draw attention to an actual bigoted shithead in SFF and 2. demonstrate that a body of authors and fans don’t seem to find much objectionable in his appalling behaviour. In attempting to deliver some kind of zinger or master troll to their opponents all they’ve managed is to prove them right.

    It’s absolutely right that it’s done a lot of damage to the professional reputation of bystanders. I’ve already had to correct three people in the last few days that no, Baen does not publish Vox Day.

  37. I only voted in one category (DP, Long Form), as it was the one category I felt sufficiently knowledgeable in. I voted for Gravity (it’s not SF in my opinion but it’s brilliant and miles better than anything else on that shortlist, and I say that as a big Frozen fan) and it won, so I can only say ‘hooray!’.

    Her should have been on the shortlist though.

  38. @Mary Kay:
    Well, but this stance is not that new, as is opposition to it, just to mention the French ”l’art pour l’art”, or Gottftied Benn’s “the opposite of art is well meant”.

    My personal stance is that quite often, literary value and societal/historical issues can’t be disentangled that easily; let’s take Kratman’s “Watch on the Rhine” as an extreme example, using the Waffen-SS as heroes makes not that small parts of me scream in agony, not so much as a “Linker”, but as the son of a Catholic conservative who spend his time in the Wehrmacht.

    And then, using Nazis as a counterexample to modern ills like environmentalism is a serious case of “did not do their research”. Let’s just start that Göring was also “Master of the German Forests”.

    Of course, the Waffen-SS was under Himmler, but Heinrich is hardly known for being less into brown esotericism.

    That being said, I feel kind of sorry for the WoT fans, but, err, “so it goes”…

  39. In the end it’s a mixed bag. On the one hand, the sad puppies got what they deserved, on the other hand the “let’s keep the Hugos white” movement prevailed.

  40. So:

    Of course we wouldn’t nominate to make the Saddest Puppy’s head explode. But if a work was really good *but* its nomination would make Saddest Puppy’s head explode, that drawback probably wouldn’t keep me, at least, from nominating it.

    We shouldn’t be political with our nominations, unless it will hurt someone, in which case, we should be political with our nominations, because he also did what is clearly acceptable practice?

    It sounds confusing to me. There is a history that predates the 2014 of slate voting and campaigning for votes. JS seems to be comfortable with it, it’s not against the rules. So why exactly the outrage that someone you don’t like did the same thing? The system worked fine.

    You can’t take away “Hugo nominated” from a person once nominated. Is that the bottom line problem?

  41. I’m generally happy with the Hugos and the Retro Hugos this year. I enjoyed the insights of John Scalzi’s analysis. Yet I worry: will there be an Anthology of stories in the sub-sub-genre of “Gene Wolfe strained through a thick and rancid cheesecloth of stupid”?

  42. In addition to what Cat Faber said about this year’s Worldcon members nominating for next year’s Hugos, it’s clear that one of the reasons the Sad Puppies slate did as well as it did this year was due to how members of the 2013 Worldcon nominated works. So while it’s certainly good for this year’s Worldcon membership to remember to nominate worthy works, it’s even more important to make sure that process continues and isn’t subverted again. So consider getting a voting membership in the 2015 Worldcon and then nominate works for the 2016 Hugos as well.

  43. concerning Vox Day. I have no idea if he is a racist or not. I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon. His books don’t look like my thing. So I don’t want to read them to find out. Irregardless of his political views(I really like Larry Correia’s books and I am now a Brad Torgerson fan after reading his nominated works).

    I’m not sure why John hated Vox Day’s story. Are you sure its just because you don’t like the guy? It didn’t make me want to read more of his work. The vibe I got is he is religious and he was trying to tie that into fantasy. Its ok in a shorter work since your not committing alot of time with it. My take on shorter stories is that its good for authors to do alot of different things. You don’t have to keep people interested as long. I am guessing that you are reading racism into the monster coming to the sanctuary. Strikes me as a stretch. I wouldn’t say I liked it, but it wasn’t trash.

  44. Misspelling note, “Equiod”.

    I wouldn’t note it if it wasn’t a title. Please feel free to delete this comment…

  45. Guess:

    “I am guessing that you are reading racism into the monster coming to the sanctuary. Strikes me as a stretch.”

    Your reading of my reading is different than my reading of my reading.

    I just thought the story was terrible. I don’t have any positive feelings for Vox Day, no, but I doubt that is the problem. I don’t have any particularly positive feelings for Larry Correia at the moment, either, and I think his fiction is perfectly fine. I don’t have much of a problem separating my thoughts about a person from my thoughts about the work.


    Yeah, not really at all. It’s fine to call a bigoted shithole a bigoted shithole.



  46. I’m not a Wheel of Time fan by any means – tried the first book, didn’t like it, never tried again – but I have utmost respect for what Brandon Sanderson did. Truly impressive.

    And I’m a couple chapters into Ancillary Justice now, and all I can say is WOW.

  47. Personally, I’m very happy with the results. Mary Robinette Kowal and Ann Leckie, in particular, deserved their wins. I voted for The Wheel of Time over Ancillary Justice, but it was close run in my head. Both totally deserving wins.

    As far as the “sad puppy” fall-out goes, I believe that the Dan Wells story was part of that, and I really enjoyed that one. Vox Day’s story, on the other hand, fell very, very flat for me. I thought he was trying to write poetic prose (like Martin, Rothfuss or Gaiman do so well) and fell short.

    In the end, those that deserved to win did, and those that didn’t ended up on the bottom of the pile. The Hugo voters did their job and they did it admirably.

  48. I was pretty aggressive about voting “No Award” this year. Sure, if a work was a total stinker, I put it below “No Award.” But I also put a bunch of works which were professionally competent but fundamentally “meh” below the line as well. I was very much looking for works which made me sit up and go, “Wow, that’s good.”

    Using this standard, the Sad Puppy slate did not do very well. I mean, I actually like good military SF and religious fantasy, but a bunch of the Sad Puppy nominees just weren’t very good, when you get right down to it. I mean, just compare them to the retro-Hugo novels:

    – E. E. Smith’s Galactic Patrol is classic space-opera: square-jawed heroes, clear-cut right and wrong, and horribly overblown prose straight out of the pulps. But despite its faults, it’s an undeniably lively work, and I’ll remember it decades after I’ve forgotten any of the Sad Puppy military SF.

    – C.S. Lewis’s Out of the Silent Planet is a blatantly and explicitly Christian novel. For crying out loud, the characters talk to actual angels. But it’s full of wonderful and varied alien species, and there’s a lot of fun “anthropology” as Ransom explores Mars. And plus, Weston’s speech to the various Martian species, and Ransom’s attempt at translation is a brilliant bit of anti-colonialism.

    Compared to these two classics, the Sad Puppy stuff mostly ranged from outright garbage to competent-but-unmemorable commercial fiction. Which is rather weird, when you get right down to it, because there’s much better stuff in Baen’s catalog. Even their typical collection of Bolo stories (about adorably noble sentient tanks who always die tragically) contains plenty of writing that would make more sense on a Hugo ballot than some of this year’s Sad Puppy slate.

    The other weak part of the ballot, in my opinion, was the Graphic Story section. “Time” and Saga were great and wonderfully original, but I put a lot of the other stuff under “No Award.” I mean, I like Girl Genius, but it didn’t make much forward progress this year, and The Meathouse Man was pretty cliché. If this is the best the English-speaking world has to offer this year, maybe it’s time to check out what’s happening in other languages. The Japanese and the French, for example, both produce some fine graphical SF stories.

    But aside from these gripes, this year’s Hugo slate was actually downright awesome. I wanted to declare a 4-way tie for the Short Story ballot: Every single one of these works passed my “Wow, that’s good” test, and I could happily have put any of them in the first-place slot. There was amazing stuff all up and down the ballot. This was a good year for the Hugos.

  49. I’m not sure what Blackadder is getting at with his comment about the “let’s keep the Hugos white” movement prevailing. Given that John Chu won the short story award, and Sofia Samatar won the Campbell, it seems like the Hugos did all right in terms of diversity.

  50. I think anyone who automatically discounts an author’s work because they were perceived as part of the slate is doing themselves (and the authors) a disservice

    For sure. Howard Taylor’s Schlock Mercenary is wonderful fun and he comes across as an amazingly nice and evolved guy.

  51. Guess:

    “Brandon would still be a mid list author if it wasn’t for taking over this series.”

    This is the most ridiculous thing posted in the comments so far.

  52. Equiod/Equoid is still misspelled (in point 2). Sorry to nitpick, but as Scott McD said, title.

    Otherwise, yay for Ann Leckie!

  53. Randall Munroe rocks!
    By the way:
    John McTaggart Ellis McTaggart [1866-1925] was a Fellow of Trinity College, Lecturer in Moral Sciences, and a Nonreductionist. He was the author of “Studies in Hegelian Cosmology. The Philosophy of Hegel” [Dissertation, 1898; 1901; Garland, 1984]. This work explored application of a priori conclusions derived from the investigation of pure thought to empirically-known subject matter; human immortality; the absolute; the supreme good and the moral criticism; punishment; sin; and the conception of society as an organism. McTaggart was controversial for claiming that time was unreal: “The Nature of Existence” [Cambridge University Press, 1921]; “The Unreality of Time” [Mind, vol. XVII].

  54. I’ve already had to correct three people in the last few days that no, Baen does not publish Vox Day.

    The only person publishing VD’s novels now is VD. (He’s the head of his current publisher, Castalia House.)

  55. VD is also publishing books by John Wright (and a few others) as part of Castalia House.

    I wonder if the Sad Puppies slate next year will include him for ‘best long form editor.’ It might be interesting to see if you can somehow get negative votes in the Hugos.

  56. I have to say, I have mixed feelings about the best novel, I have no doubt that Ancillary Justice deserved to win, I personally felt guilty over putting it second place after Wheel of time, however, I’m very disappointed in the Fandom’s reaction to the nomination of the wheel of time and conspiring to put it under no award that pushed it toward 4th place, the wheel of time fans played by the rules, and like you said did not push other works under the bus, would it have been to much to ask for similar treatment from the rest of the fandom?
    And I was sitting in a panel about the nomination when someone complained about politics in the awards and in the same breath advocated the placement of both WoT and Warbound by everyone under no award..I’m sorry how is this not politics?
    As for Vox Day, I ignored all knowledge of the author and judged on literary merit so,I gave his story a higher ranking than the “exchange officer” both above no award, because It was not that bad, I have to admit though I have a bias toward fantasy rather than science fiction and Day’s was the only fantasy on that category, it had a good premise but bad narrative and horrible pacing (did not know that was possible with short stories), the exchange officer on the other hand had no story at all, and it could have been great if it had explored the effect of Avatars or automated war when facing real life humans, what a missed opportunity.
    I ended up torn between The lady Astronaut of Mars and the The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling which were both excellent, and I’m very happy with the winner.
    The category that bothered me the most was the short dramatic presentation, The Day of the doctor was for me a clear winner, and to see it go to Game of thrones was a shock, it didn’t help that I’m the only person on the planet who does not like Game of Thrones!

  57. I really wish Pacific Rim had won, as the film got largely snubbed by awards and I think that was pretty unfair. I’m also rather incensed that Gravity won – I liked the film, certainly, but Alfonso Cuaron also has worked in the past with Autism Speaks (he directed the infamous “I Am Autism” film), and supports their work.

    On the other hand, excited that Equoid won. When I saw it was on Tor’s website, I immediately sent the link around to my friends, squeeing about the Lovecraftian Unicorns. It is a fantastic story.

  58. Noor, could it not just have been that, in fact, most of SF/F fandom simply didn’t think it deserved a Hugo award for best novel, and voted accordingly?
    Certainly I voted it below No Award, not as part of any conspiracy, but just because I didn’t think a 14-novel series deserved an award as a single novel, and because I found the first book in the series nearly unreadable. I didn’t see anyone advocating placing it under No Award (not to say that such people don’t exist, just that I didn’t see them), but people advocating things is *also* “playing by the rules”, anyway.

    The fact that a lot of people voted it below No Award means only that — that a lot of people, for whatever reason, would rather see no award be given out than to see The Wheel Of Time get the “best novel” award. That’s not throwing anything or anyone under the bus, it’s just people having a different opinion to yours.

  59. I always wonder how the Saddest Puppy accounts for people like me. I thoroughly enjoyed Correia’s novel and I also thought Water was brilliant. Torgensen was a new one for me but I liked both of his (one of them significantly better than the other).

    I get the impression that (in his mind) I’m not supposed to like the “icky politically correct” stuff if I also like the “approved” stuff.

  60. Andrew Hickey, that’s very valid and I respect your opinion. my problem is I’m doubtful, I wish there was no campaigning against it so I can rest assured knowing that all votes were by people who gave the series a chance and didn’t enjoy it like you did, but when the nomination first came out a lot of people thought it’s cheating and that we hacked the system and thought to ‘punish us’ by down voting the series, and now I don’t know if the votes were deserved or politics at play…of course I could totally be in denial !

  61. Brad Torgerson had two stories nominated. I can’t remember which was which. The one I really liked was the Chaplain one. I liked it because it was an action story and the hero was a chaplain who was completely non-violent. As I get older, I like it when authors avoid the action cliches and make regular people like this interesting. Its one of those ‘my liking this tells me I’m old’. I like Daniel Abraham for the same reason.

    I liked Mary’s story, but thought it would have been better as a novella and thought it was too short. I understand what she was doing. However, she is basically selling me on a loving couple that spent a life time together and they have to make a critical last decision together. For me to get emotionally attached I need a more ‘epic’ feel to their relationship and see all the things in life they went through together. The end was kind of abrupt. I think that is a story you can expand to a shorter novel and do well with it. Not all shorter works make good novels. I think this one would be better as a shorter novel or novella length.

    BTW, does anyone know why ‘Clarkesworld’ is listed as ‘semi-prozine? How is that ‘semi-pro’ and Aasimovs, etc… are professional? They both sell subscriptions for stories? I don’t get some of these categories…

  62. I was not a fan of Gravity; while Pacific Rim was much more “fiction” than “science”. it was also a lot of fun. But I was generally pleased with the winners this year.

    My favorite moment of the night (watching on Ustream) was John Chu’s exuberant acceptance speech. MRK’s dress was a close second. :)

  63. Guess — it’s semi-pro because it doesn’t provide at least 1/4 of anyone’s income. Basically, Neil Clarke isn’t (AFAIK) quitting his day job, while editing Asimov’s is Sheila Williams’s day job.

  64. I have been trying to express to my husband that I am too casual a fan to want to read people who are on the ballot because of a quota rather than new writers who have broken through to the Hugo ballot because of imagination and effort and who I would otherwise not hear about. (I should at least look at the Nebula ballot…) NK Jemisin and Saladin Ahmed are examples of what could be considered affirmative action choices who are also excellent writers. I look forward to finishing both trilogies.
    Since Scalzi said something nice about Correia I may actually buy the book instead of reading it at the library.
    I couldn’t believe that WOT could really win. I spent 6 months rereading the series in preparation for AMOL and it does hang together and form one genuine artistic achievement for RJ and BS. But if you dropped out originally in the middle of Book 8 a) that negative impression is likely to stay with you and b) you may still be a core fan who consistently votes for the Hugos. Again, NK Jemisin and Saladin Ahmed can write one story which is coherent and graceful and may even have more complicated people.
    And my husband agrees that Gravity is not science fiction. His line was that if Gravity is science fiction so is a story about an IPhone 5.

  65. I was pretty aggressive about voting “No Award” this year. Sure, if a work was a total stinker, I put it below “No Award.” But I also put a bunch of works which were professionally competent but fundamentally “meh” below the line as well. I was very much looking for works which made me sit up and go, “Wow, that’s good.”

    Sometimes I think you might be right.

    I’ve nominated works that I liked well enough but didn’t make me sit up and say “wow”.

    OTOH, if I did that, I think would have no awarded everything in Novelette and Short except for The Lady Astronaut of Mars.

  66. I wonder if part of the problem with the sad puppy slate was that it would have trouble appealing to non-USAians?

    I was considering reading Correia’s work long before I’d heard anything about his politics(it seemed like something that could be right smack in the middle of my genre preferences) but a single look at his blog convinced me that his target audience is squarely in the USA gun-fondling demographic, which has suprisingly limited appeal outside the US.

  67. @Sunidesus While I certainly cannot speak on anyone else’s behalf, as someone who is very supportive of the ideas behind the Sad Puppy campaign, if not the execution or tone thereof, I would like to give one possible answer.

    For I to am someone who likes, and dislikes, works from both groups of authors. However, only one group ever gets awards. The issue is not that you cannot like both groups, but that good works from the PC crowd get rewarded and while those from authors that have been labeled “unacceptable” are shunned, and that this happens so regularly, and with such predictability that it is obviously not just quality being rewarded. Not that I think quality is a non-factor, I don’t think bad books are being nominated simply because their authors are good liberals, but it is clearly a matter of quality + politics instead of just quality. I think authors who are seen as being on-side with the SJW crowd get a boost which can push some marginal books beyond where they deserve to be and keep any and all output from the conservative side from being considered at all.

    Which to me is fine, I am after all a conservative and don’t believe in forcing people to be more inclusive than they want to be or trying to enforce some kind of quota or anything. But it is insulting and enraging to be told that the Hugos are all about quality and if the conservative authors and books don’t do well they must just not be up to snuff. Which is why, despite the fact that I think the Sad Puppies campaign was needlessly antagonistic, it is a good and necessary thing that it was waged. It made subtext explicit as people said outright how they would never vote for anything from “those people”, content or quality aside, and made people more aware of the issue. And again, I’m not saying it is a conspiracy or anything, I think liberals and SJW types are just over represented in the voting ranks and then vote their minds which is totally acceptable. But pretending this is not the case is not acceptable.

    Hopefully that gives you at least a little insight into where those on the other side are coming from.

  68. But conservative / libertarian authors do sometimes get on the ballot and occasionally win Hugos – or I am very wrong about the politics of Vinge and Simmons.

  69. Does the word “Unexpected” droop down in a similar fashion on the physical cover of “Ancillary Justice” as it does in the image at the top of the post?

  70. I think one thing people are missing is that to us here in Europe the divide between the extremely right-wing “liberals” and the frankly bat-shit insane “conservatives” over in the US is so tiny as to be invisible. If you’re going to manufacture a row over American political differences you would think it would occur to somebody to save it till worldcon is actually in the US. I presume that the existence of a large european voting membership this year either didn’t occur to the slate’s authors, or they really do believe that the world is American.

  71. Don’t mind me – I’m just here to watch Vox Day’s Reich Wing Dudebros come in…and get Malleted, With Prejudice.

    ::leans against wall, smiles::

    Now it looks like I’ve got some new books to check out, too. Yay!

  72. Well, since my wife Tamora Pierce will be a GoH at MidAmeriCon II in Kansas City 2016, I guess we’ll be voting on the Hugos then…. :)

    I just wanted a chance to say “Tamora Pierce, GOH 2016 WorldCon! Yes!” :D

  73. @timeliebe Yay! I probably won’t be there, but I know a lot of people who will and are totally excited about it.

  74. @MRAL Yeah, first one by my research. She missed the Philip Dick (although short-listed) so not a full sweep, but damn impressive anyway.

  75. Noor:
    “The category that bothered me the most was the short dramatic presentation, The Day of the doctor was for me a clear winner, and to see it go to Game of thrones was a shock, it didn’t help that I’m the only person on the planet who does not like Game of Thrones!”

    Don’t worry, you’re not alone! I barely managed to suffer through the first season of GoT. Haven’t watched any since and am quite happier for it.

    Maybe we should start a support group or something?

  76. I don’t think Ann Leckie was eligible for the Campbell, she’s been publishing short fiction for years (all pro pubs count towards eligibility).

  77. @emk1014,

    “Compared to these two classics, the Sad Puppy stuff mostly ranged from outright garbage to competent-but-unmemorable commercial fiction.”

    If EE Smith and CS Lewis are the standard for the Hugos, I daresay there wasn’t much on the ballot that deserved nomination. Certainly not the dino-porn story. Maybe WoT on the basis of influence alone. Nothing else that comes to mind.

  78. @ demonstrably false: “This is the part that baffles me about the recent martyring of Vox Day. Of all hills, they chose this one to die on?”

    LOL! Single best summary I’ve ever seen of anyone trying to champion him for whatever reason in whichever mini-scandal is under discussion at the time.

  79. Amergina, CRash and TrisheMM

    Thank you so much! Absolutely stunning craftsmanship and superb aesthetics in the design.

    I do fairly well on the not coveting my neighbours’ donkeys front, but I fear that the dress is a bridge too far…

  80. techbeatseattle –

    To my knowledge (since I don’t know the ethnicity of all the authors), no person of colour has ever won the Hugo for best novel, nor best novella. Best Novelette was won by Octavia Butler (1985) and Ted Chiang (2002 and 2008). Best Short Story was won by Samuel Delany (1970), Octavia Butler (1984), Ted Chiang (2009), Ken Liu (2013) and – just this week – John Chu (2014).

  81. @Stevie – I’ve read it. That doesn’t mean that, 15 years later, anything has changed at the pinnacle.

  82. @stevie — and until I read that essay just now…I had no idea Steven Barnes was a POC.

  83. “Dave:

    Yeah, not really at all. It’s fine to call a bigoted shithole a bigoted shithole.”

    And I’m fine with that. Citizen Kane would have been a lot shorter movie if Orson Wells had just called Hearst a “bigoted shithole”.

    My complaint with you and your adversaries pissing all over the internets is just that I think you may have other means of making your arguments. Let me think for a minute here….what could novelists do….is there someway Novelists could ridicule their opponents that isn’t at the level of something I would say…(taps index finger on chin…)… what oh what could a NOVELIST do….

    I got it….WRITE A NOVEL SKEWERING, MOCKING, etc those you hate. Sheese! Thank God the internet didn’t exist when Jonathan Swift was alive otherwise we would get crap like you all are posting. What better way is there to stick it to your foes than to write a multi-award winning book that gets turned into a movie and TV series all with veiled references to the stupidity and bad heritage of your opponents?

    Would I rather an artist piss and moan on their blog or make a movie/song/novel making the same point. Sorry, trick question. Shouldn’t an artist channel their anger instead of spewing it out onto some blog post?

  84. Susan

    I’m glad; if my link was useful to you then that makes up for it not being useful to techbearseattle!

  85. Dave, given that most writers separate their on-line writing time vs. their writing for publication time (heck, even I do that, and my total paid publication list consists of three popular science essays), I’m pretty sure the blog posts aren’t actually costing us any brilliant stories lampooning the situation. I will also note that if such a thing comes to exist (which I would fully support), the lead time is quite a bit longer, and we won’t see it for a year or more.

  86. Dave,
    “Vox Day” is not someone worth the amount of consideration that goes into even the simplest piece of art. Far better for writers to just call him a bigoted shithole and have done with it.
    Hearst was an interesting figure, who led a fascinating life, and had huge influence on American politics for the whole first half of the last century. He was a figure worthy of Welles’ ire.
    “Vox Day”, on the other hand, is an irritant on the level of snagging one’s toenail on the sheets when getting into bed. Even Swift couldn’t have got more than a very short monograph out of that.

  87. I would much rather an artist made the art they wanted to make than see them adding snide real-world references in mediums with much less oppurtunity for people to comment.

    I love social commentary in art but it can make even the most interesting artist look petty and vindictive if they’re referencing people they know and hate socially (even David Simon who I adore, looked kind of petty when he tagged one of his more awful characters with the name of a man he hated)

  88. Technobearseattle

    Given that Chips made a specific set of predictions as to what would change if people of colour became meaningful commercial competitors of white people, ie, at the pinnacle, I really don’t understand why you think is not relevant to your concerns about no change at the pinnacle.

    He answered your question in his essay; perhaps if you read it again you could better understand his views..

  89. Dave:

    Bluntly put, the description “bigoted shithole” is all the expenditure of thought that particular bigoted shithole merits. I’m not planning to waste actual valuable creative cycles on such a banal creature.

  90. @Jeff:

    I’m wracking my brains trying to figure out what the “dino-porn” story is. I didn’t finish everything, but nothing I only started reading seemed to be heading in that particular direction?

  91. I just cannot get over the fact that Ancillary Justice won the Hugo. Make no mistake I enjoyed reading it, but it feels like the second book in an ongoing series. There is a hint of a backstory and an immense and interesting world, but we don’t really get to see much of it before the book ends and we have to wait until the next installment. Its like if George Lucas launched the Star Wars universe with Empire Strikes Back, its a great movie, but you would have no idea what was going on.

  92. Thanks for all the responses. However, I don’t think I ever mentioned Vox Day (to be honest, I don’t know who that is). I think VD was just the weapon of choice in this particular skirmish. I’m talking more about the overarching argument that appears to have been going on for some time now.

    Tapetum, Hi
    I understand that no author is wasting time on a blog when they got a great idea (or need to get something out). I just think it makes them all look small. I partly blame the internet for this. Lead time would be longer for a great story but what would you rather have, pissy sniping or a good story?

    Andrew Hickey, Hi
    I’m not saying that anyone in this spat is a Hearst-level figure. Nor are they Orson Wells but within this little community they are well known. Thus, a well crafted put-down would not only serve them but us also as the audience. Truth-be-told, don’t you wish they would all shut up?

    Annamal, Hi
    If the best an artist can do is name a bad character after their enemy then in some ways I guess they lost to argument. In either case, would you rather have a good story with a little pettiness or what they’re doing now?

    I’ve use to read A LOT of SF many years ago. I don’t remember much of this petty bickering going on and possibly the only “politics” where whether “hard s/f” was better than “fantasy s/f” or if “cyber punk” was a thing. I couldn’t tell you what Heinlein thought of Asimov or Asimov thought of Bradbury because there was no cheap outlet for them to spew their unformed opinions. Dragging real-world politics in just cheapens the whole thing.


    P.S. This is a poor forum for a discussion. Is there a threaded version I’m missing? Thanks all.

  93. @Dave Did you just argue that authors should take their Feuding and Fighting and put it in their books, and then follow up by declaring that you liked SciFi before authors started “Dragging real-world politics in”?

    If seeing what happens on “cheap outlets” where they can “spew their unformed opinions” distresses you, or poisons their work for you, I’d suggest not reading blogs.

  94. mickyfinn, Hi,
    I did say all of that. And you’re right, I should. I do enjoy posts that talk about the inner workings of publishing, and the life of a successful Author. I think my first visit to this blog involved some sort of slap-fight. I stuck around to see if this was a new direction in s/f. However, after visiting a few blogs of writers I’ve read for a LONG time I see it’s just these few combatants who are guess are just trying to burnish their reps with their fans.

    Did I actually use the word “distressed”? “Distressed” gives them more credit than they deserve.

    Dave M

  95. Kit_r_writing, I am pretty sure that “dino-porn” refers to the short story “If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love” by Rachel Swirsky.

    Since the main character isn’t really a dinosaur, and the only “porn” involved is that the story is told from the point of view of his fiancee, this just goes to show how hard some people will scrape the bottom of the barrel to come up with some way to insult something they don’t like; this one is mostly splinters.

  96. Swirsky’s story is about dinosaur sodomy? Well. That should make Michael Swanwick happy …

  97. Jeff: thanks for your cryptic reference, without which I would never have read Rachel Swirsky’s excellent story.

  98. Okay, so…

    The story is about an engaged couple>said couple could be reasonably presumed to have had sex in the back story>the story is pornography.


  99. Dave, it’s not either-or. The kind of energy that goes into writing fiction and the kind that goes into a snarky blog post are different kinds. The time that goes into writing one and the time that goes into writing the other are likewise not interchangeable. Writing fiction (and the kind of nonfiction that takes creative mental effort) requires being in a certain mental space that one cannot inhabit all the time. Furthermore, doing things in other areas of one’s life provides sparks and juices in mysterious ways for the creative efforts. Just as it’s not a choice between writing fiction and eating churros, writing fiction and watching a movie, writing fiction and conversing with one’s family, writing fiction and taking pictures of cats, it is not a choice between writing fiction and playing in a sandbox on the Internet. Mr. Scalzi can do both, and does do both. If there’s one of those things that you don’t enjoy, you’re free not to read it. Personally, for years, I preferred the posts here, both the serious ones and the snarky ones. I’m enjoying his fiction more in the past few years, but I would be sad if that was the only writing from JS that was available to me.

    Chacun a son gout, and some people have a range of things that are to their taste.

  100. @Dave: Dude, c’mon. SFF authors have ALWAYS had feuds and slap-fights and put stuff into essays and books that dealt explicitly with politics. You’ve read “a lot” of SFF and you’ve never noticed that? Never heard of The Word for World is Forest or “The Roads Must Roll”? Totally missed the arguments about whether New Wave SF is really SF (the predecessor to “you kids get your damn cyberpunk off my lawn”)? You were genuinely unaware of editors, authors and fans using the cheap outlets of fanzines, APAs, and op-eds and letters in their favorite magazines? You’re aware, right, that “the Internet” was not invented with the rise of the blog?

    It’s obvious that you are aware, on some level, that simply shouting at people to stop saying things you don’t want to listen to is ineffective and not all that persuasive. What you’re not getting is that wrapping that argument up in “why don’t you all just write roman a clef epics instead” or “in MY day we didn’t have no Internet slap-fights” is just putting lipstick on a pig.

    @Ursula Vernon: There was some brief Internet thing about self-published dino porn sold on Amazon not all that long ago; guessing whoever was whining about “dino porn” didn’t bother to read past the title, and lazily assumed that since “love” and “dinosaur” were there, it must TOTALLY be the same thing.

    @BrowncoatJeff: Nothing wrong with supporting authors you like, but your argument has some logical problems.

    1) It lumps all “conservative” authors together, and confuses dislike of hateful bigots with non-bigots merely because those authors have a common view on, say, the proper role of the US military in global politics.

    2) It assumes, based on not much more than gut feeling, that fans are in fact actively hostile to any works by an author presumed “conservative” and that hostility manifests itself in shunning those authors in awards based on something other than merit. This is, bluntly, the kid screaming “WTF HAX” or kicking over the Monopoly board because clearly the only way he could lose is YOU CHEATED.

    3) Live by the identity politicking, die by the identity politicking. When you push a slate of works based on the (supposed) politics of their authors, you can’t really turn around and whine that they should have won based on something other than those politics.

  101. To piggyback a bit on mythago’s point 2, keep in mind that the Hugos are a popularity contest: fans nominating and voting for works they thought were the best of the year. I suppose it’s possible that a lot of them thought, “I thought those works were the best ones I’ve read this year, but I won’t nominate/vote for them because their authors are conservatives.” But it’s hard to believe that great numbers of people would vote that way. It seems far more likely to me that people nominated/voted for the works that they personally preferred. If the self-styled conservatives aren’t getting the votes, maybe it’s because not as many people are reading their stuff and/or not as many people are enjoying them as much as the other works available. Not so much that they’re “not up to snuff” as “I liked these ones better” or “These are the ones I happened to read.” Popularity contest, remember. Sure, conspiracy theories are more fun, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of evidence for them in this case.

  102. 1: the amendment to the WSFS Constitution to clarify the situation with audio books had its first passage this year. It will be up for ratification next year at the business meeting.

    2: I could find out how many one issue Wheel of Time voters there were, but it would be highly unethical.

  103. Ancillary Justice is definitely the most original and interesting thing I’ve read this year, even if I felt the ending and explanation of the central conflict was rather confused. A well-deserved win; I look forward to Ancillary Sword

  104. I’m glad AJ won- it was my #1 choice. Wheel of Time ranked near the bottom with me, but not due to its multi-book nature. Several attempts over the years to read it made me realize that it wasn’t for me. This doesn’t mean I would have been sad if WoT did win- clearly it speaks to many fans.

    I think my only ‘<No Awarding' was VD. Sorry, but if you're going to be a hateful jerk to me and mine, I'm not going to feel compelled to put you in a position to win awards.

  105. About Mary Robinette Kowal:

    There needs to be a big ol’ anthology of her short fiction, stat!

  106. Regarding why some win and some don’t…. There are also trends/fads in genre and if a group is writing in an out of favor subgenre they’re less likely to grab awards. IF you’re doing old fashioned space navy with empire and Highly Competent Men as the protagonist, well, been there, done that. Hard to stand out… until that stuff comes back in vogue. Same for singularity fiction (Quantum Thief trilogy aside). And cyberpunk. And… One a subgenre is out of favor it’s harder for works in that space to get nominations even if they’re worthy. People start reading X and aren’t reading Y as much… and the Hugo noms come from the readership.

    Keep in mind, too, that here are only 5 slots… that’s not a lot. Take, for example, one of my favorite books of the last few years, Alastair Reynolds “House Of Suns” – To me, it was easily shortlist material, but aside from the Clarke, it wasn’t even nominated for a major award.

  107. I hope I’ve never made the mistake of describing the Hugos as “purely rewarding quality” and meaning “quality” only to refer to what exists on the page. The Hugos are, as others have pointed out, a popularity vote. They aren’t juried. There aren’t rigid selection criteria. A bunch of people nominate what they like, and then a bunch of people vote, and they can vote on whatever criteria they like.

    I like to think I do vote based on quality–but how I define “quality” won’t be how others define “quality.” Part of quality, for me, is, “Doesn’t give me a reason to stop reading, or to defer reading it until later.” I bailed on The Waiting Stars, with a half-hearted “too little time, too much to read, might get back to once I’ve read the rest of the ballot,” when on the second page the narration referred to the word “child” as a pronoun. Very minor grammatical mistake, maybe very shallow of me, but it tripped me up enough to think, “Eh, I’ll get back to it later.” (And I very likely will!) I bailed on Wakulla Springs (with the same thought about maybe getting back to it) when a barely-literate character was supposed to be painfully sounding out the title of a book phonetically, yet at the same time he translated that title into his established dialect without a pause or a stumble. Messed with my suspension of disbelief something awful. And while I loved Stross’s works, I didn’t give any of them my top vote, because his style of humor, while enjoyable, tends to blunt my sense of “wow”, and when it comes to Hugos I vote where my “wow” takes me. (Ancillary Justice gave me ALL the wow.)

    Quality is hugely subjective.

    More importantly, “the Hugos are a popularity contest” is a simplification of a larger emotional factor. I think, for many of us, the Hugos are a way of telling the world, “THIS. This is representative of the pinnacle of our genre. This is what we want to be seen now and for always as the face of Science Fiction and Fantasy at this time. This is what we aspire to.” From that point of view, it’s perfectly reasonable to say, “I’m not voting for anyone who’s proven themselves to be a racist, sexist, homophobic dickhead, no matter how good their work on the page is. They are not where we want SF/F to go. We as a community can do better.”

    On another note: What kind of entitlement complex does it take to presume to tell an author what they can or cannot put in their blog? “If you have something to say, write me a new novel or shut up”? Really?

  108. I was happy to see Ancillary Justice win on its merits, but I’m baffled at accusations of political correctness in its nomination. It’s old-school grand space opera: interstellar empires, ship AIs, a really interesting science-fictiony multiple-consciousness conceit that drives the whole story, action scenes, stuff blowing up, an interesting examination of colonialism and culture — why wouldn’t the sad puppy contingent at least consider it to be in their tradition?

    Oh, the pronouns. That’s the thing: the pronouns are the *least* sci-fi thing in the whole novel. There are many human languages which have no genders on their pronouns, and native speakers from those languages have genuine issues with them. I have Finnish friends who get gender wrong all the time. It’s a classic marker of Chinese ESL speakers that they can have trouble with gendered pronouns. Anyone could come up with that conceit, if they knew enough people from other language communities. That said, in the service of the novel, the work really well to alienate us from the narrator, who is this weird ship’s-AI consciousness fragment being. A little distance is totally appropriate there!

  109. Nicole J. LeBoeuf, Hi
    I don’t remember saying “shut up” but if I did I apologize. As to my posts unless I’ve read the rules wrong I believe as long as I’m respectful JS will allow me to express an opinion. I knew going into this that a criticism of the Author in his own blog would bring criticism in return. As long as you’re respectful to me I don’t have a problem.


  110. Greg Hi,
    I stand corrected.

    mythago Hi,
    It was a long time ago. And yes, I understand that s/f contained social commentary but that’s only a little of what I’m talking about. And I did mention the types of S/F arguments.

    If you took what I said as shouting it probably says more about you than me.

    Annamal Hi,

    “as Asimov revealed in his posthumous 1994 autobiography”

  111. Dave: I got it….WRITE A NOVEL SKEWERING, MOCKING, etc those you hate. Sheese!

    I’ll write a novel about it, that’ll show them… In two or three years….

    Yeah…. no…

    Would I rather an artist piss and moan on their blog

    Calling a spade a spade isn’t “pissing and moaning”. And sometimes the proper response to a racist shitbag is simply to point out that they’re a racist shitbag and move on, and the proper response is NOT to write a 100,000 word novel.

    Dragging real-world politics in just cheapens the whole thing.

    Politics is nothing more than figuring out how we as a people should behave. By telling people how they should express themselves in a novel rather than on a blog, you’re engaging in politics. Pot, Kettle. Black.

    As long as you’re respectful to me I don’t have a problem.

    Rather than “piss and moan” on this blog, maybe you should follow your own advice and “channel” your “anger” and write a novel about how people should write novels as their only media for disagreeing and dissent.

    The level of “do as I say, not as I do” hypocrisy that you’re demonstrating in this thread is actually quite impressive.

  112. Dave: “If you took what I said as shouting it probably says more about you than me.”


    No, it was about you….

  113. Greg Hi,
    I did yell, sorry.

    Again, I’m not talking about VD. He was just the weapon of choice.The comments are here to express opinions (and other things). I think for both JS and his opponents this slap fight makes them look small. Do they care what I think? No. Do you? Apparently you do.
    I was just expressing my opinion. I’m also sure they’re all use to a 2 year lag for their (well thought out) ideas to reach the masses so they probably don’t have “deferment of gratification” issues.

    If you like play-ground level fighting between Authors, then great, you’re in the right place. Me, I like everything else (mostly).


  114. Dave

    I think it’s a bit late to try the ‘rise above it’ manoeuvre; it can be effective if deployed at an earlier stage but now it looks as if you haven’t got anything else, which rather spoils the effect.

    And since I’m English the ‘Have a Nice Day’ strikes me as risible rather than witty; JS has quite a few non-US readers, which possibly explains why he doesn’t perceive US bunfights as Global Clashes of Titans…

  115. Dave: I was just expressing my opinion.

    Sure, but you seem to want authors to restrict the expression of their opinion to be through their novels only, whereas you place no such restriction on yourself. So, sure, you were expressing your opinion, but it was a hypocritical opinion.

    It’s actually an interesting world-rule that people are only allowed to express their opinions through their professional medium. The person who works on Broadway? He would only be allowed to express his opinion through either musical or interpretive dance. That could be interesting, for sure. Musicians can only make political statements in their songs. Bruce Springsteen. U2.

    But then the guy who gets rats out of the sewers? Not sure exactly how he gets to express his opinion. Unless he gets to throw dead rats on things he doesn’t like, I suppose.

    So, yes you were expressing your opinion, but it appears to be an opinion about how everyone but you is supposed to behave. And since I don’t have a dead rat to throw at you, I’ll have to resort to just saying that its a stupid, hypocritical idea.

  116. Lee

    Oddly enough I used the same phrase to someone unhappy that John wouldn’t answer,
    yet again, his questions on the Hachette Amazon dispute, notwithstanding the fact that John had written:

    ‘A Brief List of Standard Answers For the Amazon/Hachette Thing’

    which provided those answers. In fairness the guy did subsequently concede that his posts reeked of entitlement, and that he shouldn’t have made them..

  117. Hi All,
    I made a statement about JS diminishing himself with the petty bickering. I’m not sure why you all need to defend him as he doesn’t care what I think. However, since you feel this need, probably in defense of your own guilty pleasure in enjoying this cat fight, I will take back my original statement. John does not diminish himself with the post. In fact, petty bickering is probably his default state. HA! See what I did there? I insulted him by pretending to agree with you. I shouldn’t have to explain it but…you probably needed me to.

    Now, in the grand scheme of things I’m sure the vast Hugo audience is wondering what all the noise at the children’s table is about. Then they turn back to adult things and forget about it.

    When I get into discussions about this favorite person or that. I always ask the defender to make one(1) substantive criticism of their favorite person. Now I’ll ask you. What about JS don’t you like?


  118. @Dave

    Dude, you really aren’t listening and you’re boring the fuck out of everyone.

    It’s John’s site; he gets to decide what he wants to say. You want him up on a pedestal as a silent memorial to your fantasy image of the man? I’m kinda thinking that’s not going to happen. Not here at least. Up to you what you do in the privacy of your own bedroom.

  119. @dave
    You keep changing the angle of how you try and argue that john is just plain wrong to hold the sad puppy slate up to ridicule. I’m not sure whether you’re a supporter of the Sad Puppy Slate, but I definitely don’t believe you’re arguing from high minded principle and I’m not sure that anyone else does.

  120. I wonder if I could get something on next year’s ballot by loudly proclaiming that none of the winners are an example of my taste so it’s obviously a plot to deprive me of the satisfaction of being right that I so richly deserve. I mean, if I look over the various winners and nominees there are times when I don’t care for any of them. Except for ’93–that year should have been a five-way tie.

    Personally, I think Dave and MrTroy from the other thread are the same person. Their style of argument is what gives it away to me.

  121. Dave:

    It’s not petty bickering. It’s a very serious, career impacting, industry wide critical problem that in this aspect involved the Hugos. Specifically, there are very serious, career impacting, industry wide critical problems of discrimination that occur in SFF (as elsewhere,) with authors having non-white protagonists receiving white people on their covers because booksellers claim the non-white folks on covers won’t sell and having difficulties getting reviews, women authors getting regulated to derogatory covers, niche marketing and being largely shut out of markets like hard SF, and the difficulty of gay authors and others to make gay characters even be seen in SFF, much less accepted as regular characters, etc. All of these and more are critical issues to tackle for the growth, health and inclusion of SFF, to make an industry that not only welcomes others in addition to whites and males, but treats them as equal professionals and fans.

    Authors who raise these issues and speak out about them in order to bring awareness and try to improve things are routinely derided for doing so in order to shut them up, with the objections ranging from everything to them being overly zealous killjoys for fandom to outright claims that they are inferior beings, depending on the objector’s personal views. In this particular case, claims were made that were patently false if you look at the actual history of the Hugo, including recent history. (As others pointed out, the winners of the big best novel Hugo, for instance, have been all white and mostly male, a decent percentage openly conservative of one stripe or another and many others personal views not known and not necessarily liberal.)

    The claims were mainly that liberal-leaning authors who spoke out on these issues were controlling the Hugos and shutting out conservative authors and military SF authors (the two not necessarily being the same thing first off.) This is absurd again if you look at the actual history of the Hugos. But the claims were used as the rationale of a protest that involved pushing a slate of authors declared to be conservative (whether they actual are or not,) and to have written works that would piss off more liberal fans and authors, and this slate included an openly racist and sexist author of great controversy just for that purpose. This attack was understandably taken very personally by many authors as it was attempting to attack their careers and demonize their actions.

    As I’ve said before, I had no problem with the actual slate and campaigning for it, and neither does Scalzi. (Although I now have more of a problem with it on learning that some of the authors on the slate were possibly drafted against their will.) But one of the authors they were protesting was Scalzi, who has spoken on these issues and was also president of SFWA, an organization struggling with these issues. He spoke about the outcome of the Hugos because people asked him to in light of previous conversations about this issue.

    And if you don’t give a shit about the issue, you don’t have to, but a lot of authors don’t have that luxury, because it’s their careers. And a lot of authors care even if it’s not their careers because these discriminations impoverish the industry and they have friends whose careers are impacted. So while on the one hand it was a petty pissing contest, of the sort that traditionally does occur in SFF between authors sometimes, on the other hand, it was a lot more serious.

    We knew going in that since the WorldCon was being held in London this year, with a voting base that would be highly European and British rather than American, that it was very unlikely that the “Sad Puppy” slate would get anywhere past the nomination stage, and that proved to be the case. I’m pretty sure the majority of Hugo voters at the con were in fact completely unaware of the entire controversy.

    That situation also obviously worked against the Wheel of Time series, which while a global bestseller has had a lot more impact on American fandom, as did that it was for the entire series, and possibly also that it was epic fantasy, though epic fantasy can win and has won (as has military SF.) This makes me a bit sad, as it was the series’ last chance for the award and what Jordan did with it was really very remarkable. But I can’t be that verklempt because Ancillary Justice is a fascinatingly done novel (and in some ways a conservative one if it comes to that.) It’s gotten people talking and that’s always a good thing for SFF.

    And the whole point of WorldCon and the Hugos is attempting a world SFF scope (even if it is still very English, western centered.) And this particular issue is very related to that.

  122. Oh, the pronouns. That’s the thing: the pronouns are the *least* sci-fi thing in the whole novel. There are many human languages which have no genders on their pronouns, and native speakers from those languages have genuine issues with them.

    It isn’t so strange that the language used in the book doesn’t have gender. it is a bit more strange that the AI can’t figure out sex.

    Much of the gushing on the internet about Ancillary Justice is all about the pronouns. One enthusiastic blog I read called it a victory for feminism, which struck me as a strange pronouncement. I’ve read plenty of statements about the book’s greatness that revolved around gender and pronouns rather than being exciting space opera. The book becoming an example for the column on non-binary gender probably helped that along.

    It seems to me that the pronouns are largely window dressing. The viewpoint character’s sense of self is much more central to the book. I think it has a lot more in common with Friday than the Left Hand of Darkness in that respect.

    I didn’t really care for it very much. Everyone else saw an exciting space opera, but to me it was a trudge. I found the pacing aggravating. It began to get interesting at the very end, but I was already tired.

  123. Dino…porn…

    Wow. Somebody did NOT read closely, or possibly at all.

    I though Jeff’s use of the word ‘porn’ was meant metaphorically, more along the lines of food porn than in the sense of watching the mating of dinosaurs.

    Even with that interpretation, that appellation doesn’t make a great deal of sense.

  124. John Scalzi looks silly when he posts a blog update about blocking someone on Twitter. The Sad Puppy nomination slate was a significant issue with the 2014 Hugos, determining a substantial proportion of the fiction nominees, and a discussion of the awards that does not address it is an incomplete analysis. Vox Day was by far the most controversial member of that slate, which probably would not have gained much attention otherwise, and a discussion of the Sad Puppy slate that does not address his presence and his impact is, again, an incomplete analysis.

    Scalzi shouldn’t scrub his Hugo discussion of content just to put up a PR facade of harmony where disagreement exists.

  125. demonstrablyfalse:

    “John Scalzi looks silly when he posts a blog update about blocking someone on Twitter.”

    It’s even sillier to say someone looks silly for something he hasn’t even done, as I’ve made no recent blog entries on this particular subject. I occassionally note on my Twitter feed if I mute someone (which is not blocking), and there’s a feed of recent tweets in my sidebar. Maybe that’s the thng confusing you.

    The rest of your post is likewise curious and not apparently related to the entry you’re ostensibly commenting upon, so I guess your screenname here is more correct than it seems.

  126. Guess: Clarkesworld isn’t eligible in Semiprozine anymore. We started making enough money to be pushed up a weight class (but not enough to go full-time, which is why World Fantasy considers us Non-Professional). I tried to let people know about this, but some still nominated us anyway.

  127. Demonstrablyfalse

    Oddly enough, the people who read Whatever regularly do not give a toss as to whether you think John hasn’t dealt with the issue of VD, primarily because those of us who read Whatever regularly know that he has written at some length about it.

    There is absolutely no reason why John should waste his time and energy on what you want; the fact that you haven’t bothered to read what he has written in the past is a fairly good indicator that you wouldn’t bother to read anything now.

    No one is suggesting that those devoted to VD and his ilk are not a rash of boils on the collective rear end of fandom, but we are not required to stare at the rash of boils when there are much more interesting things to do.

    We can, however, point out that Corraia’s slate was even more pernicious than it appeared at first sight since he shanghaied at least one author not only without that author’s permission but also when the author didn’t even have a qualifying book in the Hugo time frame.

    That is a disgraceful thing to do, and I am disgusted that Corraia tainted Howard Tayler by association with VD; I console myself with the reflection that Sergeant Schlock would make short work of VD et al…

  128. Obviously, I should have been clearer. I was responding to Dave,who seemed to think JS was engaging in ‘petty bickering’ – I thought this was a great post talking about things that should be talked about, not petty or bickering at all.

    My bad for not attributing properly, I think.

  129. Stevie:

    A fan can make a list of things they think should be nominated for an award and put it out for other fans to read. They can make their reasons for nominating and promoting known either explicitly or implicitly, or not at all. A fan doesn’t need to ask permission to do that. They also can be wrong; nominate in the wrong category or something that may not be eligible. Obviously this is a mistake, but it happens anyway. You can see dozens of such lists on SF blogs, some of them explicitly suggesting works for political reasons.

    The position of the Hugos/Worldcon/WSFS is that a professional can also be a fan (and a member by paying for a membership like veryone else). So viewed like this Correia, like any other fan, can put a work on his proposed list if he wants. (I think this is part of what Scalzi means by “Game on”)

    That said, knowing that a. he was going to get a lot more notice than a regular fan list; and b. that he had an agenda attached to it, I think it might have been courteous to let people on the slate know he was going to do so in advance and they could have let him know if they weren’t eligible.

  130. Neil W

    The Sad Puppies Slate went a great deal further than simple recommendations of works by various authors/artists etc. Correia specifically tied it to a raft of bizarre claims about the state of the world and the state of fandom, and included therein one writer known both for his stomach turning views and profound ignorance of the world, viz. VD.

    Furthermore, in shanghaiing Howard Tayler into an unwanted association with VD, Corraia damaged Schlock Mercenary’s reputation since people believed, perfectly reasonably, that Corraia had Tayler’s agreement to this. Corraia didn’t:

    ‘I’m not sure why Larry put me on his Sad Puppies slate. It’s certainly not something I asked for, nor is it something I’ve EVER asked for. I like it when fans read and recommend my work, but I don’t campaign for that. I certainly don’t think that Schlock Mercenary not winning a Hugo (five times in a row!) is somehow a sign of Great Injustice somewhere. Because that’s just ridiculous. Not winning means it’s not good enough. That’s okay. I can keep making it better. And other people will keep making other excellent graphic stories, and thank you, Hugo Awards, for encouraging an ever-raising bar.’

    Howard specifically referred to the bizarre stuff which Corraia had dragged in to make it clear that he does not agree with it; you cannot seriously claim that the Sad Puppies Slate was a simple list of recommendations given all that we know about it…

  131. @Mike: “It isn’t so strange that the language used in the book doesn’t have gender. it is a bit more strange that the AI can’t figure out sex”

    I had no trouble with the AI not being able to figure out sex, because there’s no reason it should have been taught to. If it’s from a culture with gender-neutral pronouns, it doesn’t need to know the gender of the people it’s addressing. Upon reflection, I couldn’t think of any other reason the AI for a military ship would need to know the gender of the people on the ship or on the planets where it’s landing.

  132. Mike:

    It isn’t so strange that the language used in the book doesn’t have gender. it is a bit more strange that the AI can’t figure out sex.

    It actually isn’t that easy for anyone to figure out a person’s specific sex in the real world. And the AI is not human and has problems with it for exact reasons that are explained in the book and didn’t seem strange to me at all. The culture in which the AI was born does not distinguish between biological sexes or gender identities and uses one pronoun for all. They don’t have a male culture and a female culture built in and bully taught to people and the various genders are equal in the society, with any sexual orientation being fine, so the physical equipment that a person has is irrelevant and usually hidden by clothing and armor. Other cultures suborned by the empire do still retain such distinctions, which means the AI has to look for clues that it really has little reference for, not needing to make such distinctions in its own culture.

    This creates a world in which the reference points are completely different, making it very akin to The Left Hand of Darkness. Leckie only conveys the sex of a few characters, which leads to the very entertaining cultural dissonance of a male sidekick who is referred to as “she” and a larger cast that you can’t easily say are acting “male” or “female” because you don’t know what they are (and our cultural notions of male and female are completely artificial anyway.)

    Given how women’s identities were linguistically subsumed into male ones throughout history in most cultures: mankind, Mrs. John Smith, etc., this is very interesting and creates a re-imagined future where the cultural rules are completely different and gender “norms” are unimportant. This is both an attribute of space opera, which deals with cultural issues of imaginary peoples and adventure, and an attribute of feminist SF, which deals with bending and re-imagining culture concerning gender issues. Given that Leckie also had to fight to keep that aspect in the book in getting it sold and published, it is indeed a bit of a victory.

    And it has about as much action, revenge issues and spy conspiracy as your average James Bond novel. But it’s primarily a story about identity that works by removing gender from the equation in favor of consciousness and authoritarian issues. It’s fun.

  133. Kat: It actually isn’t that easy for anyone to figure out a person’s specific sex in the real world.

    That’s like saying it’s OK the NSA gobbles up all our metadata because they can’t really figure much out from that information anyway. Paul Revere would disagree with that.

    The amount of side-band information we expel is actually rather large. It’s just that most people don’t tune their antenna to those signals and so couldn’t tell you that the killer had been in the military, was left handed, had red hair, and walked with a limp.

    I would not be surprised if there are already a number of “What kind of cat are you?” joke polls on Facebook that are specifically designed to extract information about the person taking the poll.

    our cultural notions of male and female are completely artificial

    Well, a statistically significant portion of children were born from women, not men. So, there’s that.

  134. My impression was that within the Radsch culture, One Esk could have told you who was (probably) male or female, but the language didn’t easily mark it and One Esk never bothered to go to the effort to work around that to relay what she considered unimportant information.

    Outside the Radsch culture are a lot of other cultures, each with different ways of marking “male” and “female” and One Esk can’t keep track of them all. It’s not like she can run around with a speculum saying “drop your pants please” and people don’t generally have their babies conveniently in the open when you happen to be looking.

  135. Cat

    Indeed so; it’s a dreadful reminder of just how few people will remove their underclothes for the benefit of bystanders wishing to determine their sex, and it just gets worse when they decline to give birth in public for the benefit of onlookers.

    Sheer selfishness on their part!

  136. Stevie & Cat:

    Right, so we generally determine gender and sex from our cultural assumptions of how people in the various groups we acknowledge should look, act, speak, etc. These cultural notions have little to do with biology — they are stuff we make up, forming part of our society and controlling notions of masculinity and femininity, and are changeable as well. They are artificial, but they are the cultural clues we use to try and determine it. (See SNL sketches of Pat character.)

    To use an example, my sister, who only a span of years later would be a straight man magnet, at five years of age refused to wear a one piece bathing suit or the top of a bikini bathing suit, largely because the straps would fall off when she jumped off the diving board. She had a short bowl-pixie haircut that was popular with both boys and girls, but combined with only wearing kid bikini bottoms, she was continually mistaken for a boy and often told not to use the ladies public bathroom. The frequency of this error would vary depending on where we might be traveling on vacation and the area’s particular cultural norms.

    Esk comes from a culture in which there are biological sexes, but culturally and linguistically they aren’t relevant and are not distinguished. Esk is dealing with sub-cultures that do linguistically and culturally distinguish and each in their own way with different cultural norms and clues. It is trying to remember and get it right, trying to assess clues it has little reference for, in order not to draw undue attention to itself and that it is not human. So, in this culture, is it long hair that indicates female or male, what sort of jewelry indicates which sex, etc., are questions that Esk attempts to recall for that culture or figure out, even though it finds this a stressful and bewildering process. And for the people of its own culture, they are all she, and in the case of the dead soldiers, it. There are not masculine cultural norms or feminine ones, just individual personal ones and cultural norms such as the gloves.

    That, combined with the fractured consciousness element of the A.I., became a tricky path to walk, as it goes against our notions of culture and identity, (which again have very little to do with biology.) This is reflexive of a lot of the social issues of our current day and our past, while building a differently imagined future. It’s very classic, very reminiscent of Le Guin and Clarke (or more recently Maureen McHugh and Iain Banks,) and was often done in very fun ways in the book.

    That being said, it was a pretty strong slate this year and a lot of interesting books and works to read.

  137. Kat: Right, so we generally determine gender and sex from our cultural assumptions

    Good lord, no. For a statistically significant portion of interactions, we can immediately tell a person’s sex from their physical appearance: skeletal frame, pelvic bone, shape of the skull/face, breasts, and other physical markers. There’s also vocal tone which is a result of physical structures.

    You can keep harping all you want about how it’s all just a bunch of conspiracy theory cultural assumptions that are bullied into us, but there are pretty simple, straightforward, physical differences between the sexes.

  138. Greg, Kat:

    I suspect we’re beginning to wander far afield from the topic of the entry, are we not?

    (Note this is a rhetorical question, the answer is “yes, we are.”)

  139. edfortune

    I’m not sure why Tea and Jeapardy didn’t make it, although I’m English I hadn’t come across it before so maybe it’s simply a function of not being really well known.

    However, your question had a positive outcome because I tried a sample, enjoyed it, and then bought Emma’s first novel, ‘Between Two Thorns’; an example of how Hugo discussions can generate sales even if someone didn’t win…

  140. Stevie,

    My point is more that fans have, probably since the first awards, offered lists with their own bizarre claims and agendas attached to them*. Correia’s was extensive, likely to get widespread attention and designed to motivate a group previously unlikely to become involved in voting. In essence though he’s not doing anything that big name fans haven’t previously done.

    I do think that he should have explictly and prominently said that this was his own personal slate of works he felt were not getting the recognition he felt they deserved (for whatever reason) and that he was not associated with the author (unless he was). This because he’s a professional and might be assumed to have a relationship with other professionals. But “I’m a weirdo with complex and unlikely theories of how things happen and here are some works I like” is a fan position with a lot of precedent. If Correia wants to put forward another slate next year and include VD and, say, this comment by me on the slate, associating me with VD and whatever thoughts he has about the award process, well that’s his privilege. I would be unhappy but also free to clear up any misunderstandings about my position.

    * For that matter I am fairly sure that our host has come across the phenomenum of fans using his novels to assume support for various positions that had never come to mind.

  141. Neil W

    I appreciate that people like to believe that SF/F authors are part of fandom but if we are being brutally honest it’s a myth. By the time someone has a number of published books under their belt they have ceased to be part of fandom, not least because they have to sell their works across a much wider range of readers if they want to earn a living at it. Terry Pratchett is immensely popular and sells vast numbers of books, and the great majority of his readers have never set foot in a convention and never will.

    This is a very different role; it’s one of the reasons that harassment at cons is a professional issue for writers. I appreciate that it’s convenient for Correia to claim that he’s just doing this because he’s a super fan but it’s nonsense; he’s doing it because he’s getting a buzz out of it and doesn’t care who’s damaged in the process.

    He’s also doing it because he hopes to derive financial benefit from it, perfectly understandably since he makes his living that way, but one would have to be naïve to the point of idiocy not to recognise that he’d like to make more money by selling more books, and he thinks it will help him to do so.

    So no, I don’t think shanghaiing Howard Tayler and Schlock Mercenary can be justified under the general category of fans do crazy things, and whilst I take your point about fans seeing things which aren’t there, Correia isn’t a fan.

    I am a great fan of Schlock Mercenary, having recently come across it at random on the web and devoured the entire thing, which I suppose suggests that I have at least one trait in common with the Sergeant. The last time I did something like that was with Ursula Vernon’s ‘Digger’, which is a very different kind of epic graphic story; I was absolutely thrilled when she got her Hugo, and one day I hope to be equally thrilled for Howard.

    And, for the avoidance of any possible doubt, my politics are considerably to the left of our host’s. If I’d known Howard was on the same slate as VD I might have ignored Chips Delaney’s advice and passed on by, and I would be the poorer for missing something which has now become an indispensable part of my daily routine.

    But I’m still not cutting Correia any slack on his antics…

  142. Dear Guess,

    The reason for the percentage is much the same as the reason for their being a “No Award” box. The Hugo is not an entitlement. It’s more than “no one is entitled to a Hugo;” it’s “everyone is not entitled to a Hugo,” if you get my drift. The intent is to make it (a) hard to game the system and (b) help insure that works which get the honor really do have the support of a substantial fraction of the voters. It’s part of the quality control.

    Many people, like you, (and me!) don’t vote in many categories where we have insufficient interest/knowledge. You don’t want a category where that winds up being a strong effect to be controlled by a very small number of voters. The Hugos are given by the totality of WSFS, and it is desired that they reflect that in some measure.

    In other words, at a certain threshold, “don’t care/know enough to vote” works the same as “no award.” This is not a bad idea.


    Dear Noor,

    I don’t know of any organized campaign, let alone a conspiracy, against WoT. Some few individuals advocating against it is *not* a campaign. It is certainly not a conspiracy. Also, while I don’t know the opinions of more than maybe 100 of the folks voting, not one of them ever said anything like, “Let’s all agree to vote against WoT” or “Be sure to tell all your friends to vote against WoT.”

    Sorry that your worthy favorite lost, but that’s all that happened. More voters disagreed with you than agreed.

    Going meta: I gotta say that after 40+ years in fandom (“core” and otherwise), the idea that you could get that herd of addled ADHD cats to maintain a conspiracy on anything hits me as pretty damned surreal.

    Also, you CAN’T read too deeply into the stats. It’s a process. It’s designed to produce a consensus on what works are award-worthy. It doesn’t matter, truly it doesn’t, if someone chooses to put a particular work below or above “no award.” All that matters is the final tallies. Trying to read meaning and import and intent into the raw votes is seriously flawed. It won’t tell you what you think it does. Or, really, much meaningful at all.


    I gotta say that, overall, the process worked fabulously well. It did what it was supposed to. Despite months of sturm und drang and flame wars, the end result (the actual awards) was, well, unremarkable. It doesn’t look profoundly different from what you’d expect if there’d been no controversies at all.

    Which is what’s supposed to happen. It means the process is robust.

    And, y’know what? That means that all the posturing and wailing and gnashing of teeth was a good thing. It got people to read works. It helped kicked the Supporting Memberships up to astronomical levels, which is a REALLY good thing for a Worldcon. Despite the fears that each and every controversy would prove to be the end of the world as we know it, well… I feel fine!

    pax / Ctein
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery
    — Digital Restorations

  143. I’m not supposed to talk about the novel that won the Best Novel Hugo in the Hugo post, got ya. Can I talk about any of the nominees? :)

    Or I can just talk about Correia, who was not acting as a fan in putting together his slate, but as an author who had an industry grievance in which he claimed authors who had conservative views were being discriminated against in the Hugos, and claimed that he and his fellow right-wing authors were banding together to promote themselves for the Hugos, when in fact, at least one if not more of the authors were not conservative, had not asked nor been asked by Correia to represent them to the Hugo voters as a conservative author, and were being deliberately misrepresented in a ginned up controversy by a fellow professional who should have known better?

    Again, my position on this was originally that it was not only legal but ethical for Correia to do his slate, however upset it made other authors. On hearing that he did it without the consent of all the authors on the slate, however, it’s still legal according to Hugo rules but it was entirely unethical and unprofessional, in my view. Not to mention rude.

    So again, if Correia or some other author tries the conservatives are horribly persecuted, let’s have a slate deal, I strongly suggest that folk pester him about whether he’s gotten those authors’ consent and let all the authors on the proposed slate know what’s going on before the nomination process is finished, so that they can disavow themselves from it and force him to take their names off the slate if they choose to do so. Because that isn’t free speech or fandom, it’s coercion.

  144. @Kat, I can’t speak for John, but it looked like you were getting sucked down a rabbit hole on the argument that we “determine gender and sex from our cultural assumptions”, trying to convince someone who had a vested interest in not being convinced, and who had stopped talking about the novel in question.

  145. “And my husband agrees that Gravity is not science fiction. His line was that if Gravity is science fiction so is a story about an IPhone 5.”

    Nice one. Gravity actually has a Space Shuttle in it – doesn’t that actually make it historical fiction?

  146. I went and checked Correia’s posts. His post of the slate is just that, a list of his Hugo nominations. All the other stuff is on other posts. I’m not happy with that; I agree it was rude and unprofessional to put up his list knowing that it was part of a campaign and agenda that would (if successful) be prominent in the community without stating if those on the list agreed with or had been consulted on the campaign and agenda.

    Thinking about it I suppose what I’m really saying he’s acting like a cranky fan with a bee in his bonnet about the Hugos etc. rather than a professional. So maybe that’s how we ought to treat him? Next time he tells us the Emperor Has No Clothes we should just wave and than get on with watching the naked royalty parade.

  147. Dear 4jkb4ia and ajay,

    Well, if we’re going for pendantry (and why not!, says the English major), it’s alternative universe fiction — operational shuttle, operational Hubble and completed Chinese station — a near-future that cannot exist.

    I am genuinely curious, if John will allow the digression… why don’t the two of you consider it science fiction? Not looking for an argument, I am really interested in your reasons.

    pax / Ctein

  148. Neil W

    I live in a country with a monarchy; I’m trying very hard to delete the hideous prospect of a naked royalty parade from my brain, but it’s not giving up without a struggle…

  149. Neil W.:

    Thinking about it I suppose what I’m really saying he’s acting like a cranky fan with a bee in his bonnet about the Hugos etc. rather than a professional. So maybe that’s how we ought to treat him?

    Or we can treat him like a professional author, which he is, who is acting unprofessionally, which he did, and make sure that other professional authors are aware that he’s thrown them into his political author campaign, mucking with their careers, so that they can withdraw from it if they want. How about that?

    Seriously, the hand-waving needs to stop now. He did what he did and he is who he is. Fiction is a symbiotic market, and authors know what effects boosting the signal of other authors can have. This was a marketing operation about the industry itself, not a fan rant.

    What pisses me off is that I defended Correia on doing the slate, even though I don’t like his politics at all and found his claims about the Hugos factually absurd. But that’s because I thought all the authors agreed to participate (though they might not have know about Beale’s inclusion right off.)

    This reminds me an awful lot of the SFWA petition incident, which a number of authors seemed to have signed unaware that it was an incoherent rant against equal rights for women. Except at least they did so on their own choice, ignorant or no. That’s a difference from being drafted unaware into a right-wing political agenda that mainly benefited Correia, if anybody. On the bright side, some of them at least got Hugo nominations out of it. They can try to deal with the other damage later.

  150. Seriously, the hand-waving needs to stop now.

    Fair enough. What do you suggest doing when Sad Puppies 3 inevitably makes it’s appearance next year?

  151. I have to share something I found hilarious. My husband has been listening to Monster Hunters International on Audible and he just does not like it. He keeps talking about how it’s full of these stupid things that just don’t make sense and were put in there for no reason, mostly things that hit upon masculinity stuff… like the guy is an accountant AND a martial artist AND really tall AND a bunch of other manly stuff etc. and they all seem like they were thrown together without making any consistent sense (he explains it a lot better than I do, but basically he says it’s bad writing with the effort of making some superman everyman). He doesn’t understand why Any subset of traits would be consistent without better writing, and to put them all in there, there needs to be a lot more consistency in the back-stories and so on.

    He couldn’t remember the author, and it turns out it’s Larry Correia(!) So without knowing any of this stuff, my husband (who is visually very manly and not at all insecure about his masculinity) has made the connection that misogyny (or maybe just the author being hyper aware of having a tiny penis rather than actual misogyny) leads to really weak writing.

  152. Neil W

    At the moment I’m less worried about Sad Puppies III than I am about the alternate cover of Spider Woman; if Jim Hines and JS try doing that pose then I see much money being expended trying to restore their bodily function, not to mention a serious reduction in their writing time, which I would deplore.

    It gets frustrating because so often I feel as if it’s one step forward and two steps back; one moment we’re pleased that various comic cons are asking Mary Sue to help to put together something which will make people in general, and women in particular, safer at their cons, and the next we’ve got Marvel ramping up the stakes by turning Spider Woman into an anatomically impossible sexual object.

    That doesn’t help in growing the market for comic books; it’s not what someone interested in growing the market would do. It’s what people who haven’t bothered to look at the readership of comics, and therefore overlooked the fact that a hell of a lot of them are women, do.

    However, thanks to the uproar on the web Marvel has, grudgingly, conceded that it may have been a silly thing to do, though I wouldn’t want their Tom Brevoort as my advocate, given his ability to pour oil on an already raging fire:

    So, it seems likely that the people flogging their Sad Puppy Slates will decide that this too should be a totem and we will hear all about it ad nauseam; not an enchanting prospect but we soldier on…

  153. Stevie:

    I’m gonna call the Spider Woman bit here somewhat off-topic, depsite the last paragraph throw in to tie it to the topic (which does get high marks for effort, however).

    Neil W:

    If Sad Puppies III: The Final Saddination gets on the slate in ways that conform to the rules, then my reaction will be as it was this year: Game on.

  154. Scalzi: Sure. I just think that we should maybe think of it as yet another of the annual self-promoting agenda-lead Hugo stunts or all the traditional “These categories don’t work and here’s how/why you should fix them” posts. Take a glance, raise an eyebrow and then get on with our regualr Hugo-stuff. Or in my case not get on with it as I’m almost certainly not voting*.

    * Which for once didn’t make me part of the problem this year! Thanks Larry.

  155. Neil W.:

    Wouldn’t it be Sad Puppies II? As I’ve said twice now, my proposal would be that if Correia puts up another slate next year, that people contact him, asking him if he got the authors’ permission to use their names, and second, people contact the authors to make sure that they know that Correia put them on his right-wing protest slate so they can decide if they want to be on it or not. I don’t have a problem with the existence of the slate. I have a problem with Correia putting authors on it against their will and knowledge.

    Correia put forth the argument that “PC” authors and fans somehow control the Hugos and shut out right-wing/military SF/Baen Books authors, none of which is true and are three categories that obviously aren’t the same. Nonetheless, he was entitled to try and boost the signal of his own works and the work of others that he felt were being overlooked for the Hugos, even if his intent on bringing Beale into the slate was just to piss people off. That is in fact the point of all book awards in the first place — to boost the signal and get people talking about books, both nominated and not.

    But when he is the one who attempts to control authors’ careers and image by putting them on a slate with an open ideological political agenda without their consent, he is not being honest and delegitimizing his campaign. If he feels these authors are truly victims of organized bias, he’s not exactly helping them by further victimizing them himself. So the community will hopefully hector him into cutting out such an unprofessional practice and let the authors be aware of what he’s trying to do. As a best-selling author, frankly, he also has a further responsibility to understand that his actions can affect the careers of lesser selling authors way more than his own.

    It’s not “game on” if some of the players got drafted and don’t want to be on that particular team. So if there is a Sad Puppies II, I would hope people would strip the secrecy away, so that authors are aware and can make their own career decisions. I also encourage folks to not assume they know authors’ politics or views on issues just because they’ve been paired up with certain authors.

  156. This year was Sad Puppies II, because he also had a Sad Puppies campaign in 2013 and not many people really noticed or cared. Which was probably the appropriate response.

    That ship’s sailed, but if we’re going to pay attention (and it seems we will) AND assuming that he’s unlikely to take our suggestions that he dissociate himself from the people on his list, I think the best thing for bystanders to do is treat him as a regular sideshow of the Hugo carnival. “Oh yeah, that’s Larry, he hates the Hugos so much that he puts up a bunch of people he likes to try and win, whether they want him to or not.” Give him the minimum amount of thought, scan his list for works of interest and then move on.

  157. Ah, I see. Again, the problem is that his sideshow can damage those authors’ careers, not to mention subject any females he names, if ever, to death and rape threats on the Internet. So again, I’d strongly urge any authors put on the list to be contacted to make them aware of it, so that they don’t have to be part of the sideshow.

  158. Neil W

    You would also have to insert a ‘whether or not they actually have a Hugo qualifying work’ in your proposed litany.

    I grant you that by that point it’s already pretty obvious that some of the people involved are several sandwiches short of a picnic, but the sheer idiocy of not even bothering to check whether there’s a Hugo qualifying work transcends even the bizarre shanghaiing of Howard Tayler for the Sad Puppies slate.

    Who, incidentally, wrote a remarkable essay on mental dysfunction, and offered it freely to anyone who might be helped by it; I clicked the link through JS -it’s the first one on the Rollins post- and it helped me…

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