The Hugos Not Actually Being Destroyed, Part the Many

(Warning: Hugo neepery follows. Avoid if you’re bored of it.)

It’s been a week or so since I’ve posted about the Hugos here, so that’s good. But there’s a persistent shibboleth I see bruited about, which is that the events of this year have in some way destroyed the Hugos (most recently here, in an otherwise cogent set of observations). I’ve addressed this before, but it’s worth addressing again. Here it is:

1. No, the Puppies running their silly slates have not destroyed the Hugo Awards. What they have done is draw attention to the fact that the nomination system of the Hugos has a flaw.

2. The flaw: That an organized group pushing a slate of nominees can, if the group is sufficiently large, dominate the final ballot with their choices.

3. The flaw was not addressed before because, protestations to the contrary, no one had run a comprehensive slate before. No one had run a comprehensive slate before because, bluntly, before this year, no one wanted to be that asshole. This year three people stepped up to be that asshole and got some party pals to go along.

4. The flaw is fixable by addressing the nomination process so that a) slating is made more difficult, while b) the fundamental popular character of the Hugos (i.e., anyone can vote and nominate) is retained. There are a number of ways to do this (the simplest would be to allow folks to nominate three works/people in each category and have six finalist slots on the ballot; there are more complicated ways as well), but the point is that there are options.

5. The nature of the Worldcon beast is that these changes will take a couple years; in the meantime, everyone who nominates (and votes on the final ballot) deals with the fact there are a few people out there who want to crap on the process because they’re whiny stompy children and/or complete assholes. It’s annoying but it’s dealable, so we deal with it until fixes can be made. We’re grownups; grownups sometimes have to deal with whiny stompy children being assholes.

Mind you, the Puppies would be pleased for you to think of them as deep thinking masterminds who are always one step ahead. But, you know, it doesn’t take a mastermind to exploit an aspect of a nomination system that everyone knows is there but no one else exploited because they are grown adults with enough social skills to know better. It just takes someone willing to be an asshole. Masterminds may be assholes (I’ve not met enough masterminds to say), but being an asshole is not sufficient to be a mastermind — and I have met enough assholes to feel confident about that. No one among the Puppies is a mastermind. They are merely assholes.

(This is why the people who have decided to vote “No Award” ahead of anything or anyone on a slate should not feel in the least bit bad about doing it: It’s perfectly fine and well within the rules to vote against people who wish to confirm to the public that they are assholes, and are using the Hugos as the instrument of that confirmation. You don’t give a toddler a candy bar for throwing a tantrum. There are also reasons not to do a blanket “No Award” vote, but let’s not pretend that the “No Award” option isn’t valid. It is. It’s a way of saying “nice try, but no, and also, you’re an asshole.”)

And yes, it’s a shame that now we have to factor rank assholery into the Hugo nomination process, but there it is, and the sooner it’s dealt with the better. Then the Hugos can get back to what they’ve been good at: A popularly-voted genre award that, for all its flaws, does a relatively decent job (particularly in conjunction with the other genre awards) of taking the temperature of the field in each particular year.

So, in sum: Hugos not destroyed; flaws in process revealed; flaws are fixable; some people are just assholes.

And that’s it.

194 Comments on “The Hugos Not Actually Being Destroyed, Part the Many”

  1. Per usual with Hugo-related posts, the Mallet is out; play nicely with each other, please.

    Also, please note that nowhere in the above discussion of slates and assholes is the intimation that being conservative and/or enjoying a particular type of science fiction/fantasy and/or wanting to see representation for either of those two categories on the final ballot is somehow the problem here; it’s not. The problem and locus for assholery is slating. And while the Puppy slate is to my mind evidence of people being assholes, if someone else of a different political/social stance decided to try their hand at slating next year, I’d be very likely to judge them assholes, too. With popular awards, people should vote their own choices, not slates dictated by others.

    (This will be the cue for some of the more obstinately dense to allege that I have run slates before right here on my site, by noting what among my work is eligible and/or by opening up recommendation posts, and making my own recommendations in the threads. Dudes, just, no. Try not to clutter up my site with such bad logic. It annoys me and wastes other people’s time.)

  2. I think the best “solution” is some fashion of having more finalist nominees on the final slate than a single ballot can nominate. I’ve no idea what the best combination is, but that would seem to be the easiest and most effective way to reduce the power of a slate.

  3. I agree that they’re not outright destroyed.

    It’s still a source of sorrow to think that the works this year that genuinely DID deserve a place on the ballot were shut out. Also that something similar may happen again next year.

    So this raises another question in my head. Do you think that this knowledge will cause any writers and/or publishers to hold works back a year or two, until the process of changing the nominating rules has ground through and produced a (hopefully) better method? I honestly don’t know how valuable the Hugo Award is perceived to be in the eyes of writers and publishers in the genre. Might a truly superb work be intentionally delayed until the playing field is a bit more level? I’m guessing probably not, but I don’t know the field well enough to be sure.

    Oh, and by the way – thanks for the reminder. I’ve been meaning to go and get myself a supporting membership to Sasquan but keep forgetting. Perhaps I’ll do that this afternoon.

  4. zhor2395: The whole Hugo thing will technically still be going on until at least Worldcon. Most of the initial outrage at the slates has been expressed.

    Most of the discussion I’ve seen (at least, in places where I hang out on the net) has been either centered around discussions of the quality of the work on the slates (usually in the form of “I’ve now read N of the slate works, and one or two are not bad, but the others…how’d they even get published?”), and some high-neepery of developing proposal(s) to blunt slates in the future.

    I expect that the next phase of the Hugo thing will be when the various proposals for fixing the problem start coming out after being honed, and the Puppies start crowing that these anti-democratic attempts are signs that the SMOFs can’t deal with them and they are winning.

    I expect things to get louder as Worldcon approaches, and the post-Worldcon discussion will be immense. And then this will repeat to some degree next year.

  5. Colonel Snuggledorf:

    “Do you think that this knowledge will cause any writers and/or publishers to hold works back a year or two, until the process of changing the nominating rules has ground through and produced a (hopefully) better method?”

    Probably not, because:

    1. The Hugos are just one set of awards in the genre, and there are others of equal or close to equal stature (the Nebulas, Clarke and Locus awards spring directly to mind) which were not infected by slate stupidity this year and whose final lists are worth celebrating.

    This is also why it doesn’t pay to get too freaked out by the Hugos possibly having aberrant final ballots due to slating. If the Hugos get too “slate-y” their value will go down a bit and the value of other awards in the genre will rise. The relative value of awards in the genre been different before than it is now; it can be different again.

    2. Awards are nice and can add some cachet to a writer’s rep (when they’re not being exploited for flaws in the nominating process, that is) and might even garner some attention where attention might not otherwise be garnered, but at the end of the day the vast majority of things published are not going to be nominated for anything and it would be foolish for publishers/authors to try to triangulate publishing dates on the basis of an award they may or may not actually be in consideration for. Certainly I’ve never published anything on that basis.


    I would certainly agree that I would find it unsurprising that the Puppies would complain about the mechanism they’re exploiting being spackled up, and will try to spin that as proof of something that will aggrandize them. However, as the Puppies are likely incapable of doing anything but declaring victory, no matter what happens, who cares? The issue is address the exploitable aspect of the nomination process. Culling exploits doesn’t have to diminish the democratic nature of the award; it just mitigates slating as a tactic. It’s pretty clear most people don’t support slating as a tactic, so.

  6. I’m not very good at predictions, so I’ll skip that and just observe that a number of self-styled Sad Puppies supporters who had no previous connection with the Hugos or active fandom are now in contact with both and are continuing to dialog with those who disagree with their premise. Some of these will stick around and fandom will be richer for it. Some assholes will also stick around, too. It’s not a perfect world.

  7. Agree with ‘in sum’, and I do hope the Hugos are fixed because they provide a valuable other angle on a year’s best works. I may well go for maximum ‘no award’, ie, excluding all the slate nominations which I recognise does also exclude at least a couple of relatively innocent people, but I deeply object to the slate and want to show this.

    And a slate is completely different from X writer saying ‘here, these are my Hugo-eligible works’. Because it’s then up to others to nominate, there’s no organised effort.

  8. Mike Glyer:

    I think it’s certainly possible that a number of those who supported the Puppy slates on the basis of “let’s make a case for the work we like” will stick around. I suspect the ones who supported the Puppy slates on the basis of “Let’s stick it to the SJWs” are less likely to. This is not a equation that would bother me much.

  9. This may seem picky, but I don’t see this as a shibboleth, which is (drawing from the biblical reference): a word or phrase used by a group to recognize non-members. The Gileadites could pronounce the word and Ephraimites could not.

    I don’t see “The Hugos are destroyed” as being used that way. Some use the phrase in a victorious or threatening way, some use it prefixed with “Those bastards” and for some, there is just this pervasive sorrow akin to a loss of innocence: that we can never go back to the time when we observed the rules as adults and didn’t have to lock down every single, tiny aspect of the process against assholes.

    In short, I think the usage crosses groups and is not a shibboleth.

    To the main point, I really hope you are right that it that the Hugos aren’t destroyed and as one of the players in the game, will do everything in my power to make sure that the dystopic future doesn’t come to pass. But while I promise Effort, I cannot predict Success.

  10. I just feel bad for people who got nominated who weren’t part of the Puppy Cabal. Some have withdrawn their works, others haven’t, but it must feel crappy. “OMG I got nominated!” “OMG it was because of assholes putting me on their slate :( “

  11. Glenn Glazer:

    “while I promise Effort, I cannot predict Success.”

    I suspect that enough people will decide this is indeed worth the effort that it will ultimately be a success. Bluntly, I don’t think most people want the Hugos to be held hostage by a pack of assholes.


    Yes, it did suck.

  12. If nothing else, it’s certainly increased Worldcon membership; Sasquan now has over 8000 members.

    I don’t think the Hugos are destroyed but it has taken a hit because a known flaw in the nomination system was exploited very successfully. But the Hugo Awards is resistant to being totally gamed because the final vote uses a different system & ‘No Award’ exists as a safeguard. I guess that’s why many Puppies are now focussing on discouraging members from using No Award.

    Any rule changes to minimise the impact of slates will take two years to implement (because that’s how the WSFS constitution works – to prevent knee-jerk changes) so we’ll have at least another year where the nominations can be gamed by slates. But I think that the Worldcon community is resilient & we will get over this. If the publicity from this brouhaha/kerfuffle/fiasco ultimately increases the profile of Worldcon & the Hugos, and brings in more fans who are not assholes, well that’s a silver lining I can hope for as an outcome.

  13. I think the mastermind/asshole question is a surprisingly complicated one. People who actually attempt to *be* masterminds, in the traditional sense, are usually pretty arrogant and arrogance and assholery are strongly correlated. On the other hand, that’s kind of a self-selected sample.

    I have met a lot of people *qualified* to be masterminds. In my experience the asshole ratio is about the same as in the general population, although mastermind-level assholes are more irritating than ordinary assholes for a couple of different reasons, so the the ratio *seems* higher.

    As far as the Hugo thing, I have sworn it off, because while I sympathize with and share some of the concerns of the Puppies, a small number of them are just relentless in acting in ways which are downright embarrassing, and a larger number seem to either not care or actively encourage it. I honestly believe that ideas are not responsible for the people who believe in them, but there comes a point when you have to re-evaluate ideas when they are overwhelmingly held by people you don’t want to associate with.

    I honestly believe, by the way, that this isn’t desire to fit in with the “right” people. Pat and Terry aren’t going to be inviting me to their Memorial Day barbecue just because I disavow the Puppies. I ain’t never getting a Hugo, and there are lots of things I actively disagree with Mr. Scalzi and many other members of the Gamma Rabbit Cabal about. I’m not shy about it. But by God, I am so *tired* of this petty incivility. On *both* sides, but especially the side I was initially kinda sorta interested to see make some progress. So to Heck with them.

  14. The less voted on categories, like the three short fiction categories, related work, editor, etc., are the most vulnerable to slate-holes. It would be helpful to see more promotion/awareness of quality works (and people) on sites like Whatever throughout the year. Once one gets to award season, giant end of the year “recommended reading” lists sometimes have fifty or more works presented in each category, and not all of them are available to read without spending a bunch of money buying back issues of periodicals and anthologies. Whatever is heavily novel-centric, as is most of the blogosphere. How about lending some more space to latest issue of Analog or Clarkesworld, or a Big Idea type slot for a novella on or in Asimov’s, non fiction books, anthologies, etc., so people aren’t packing all their reading/book-buying of non-novel works to the few months of award season? (And also making people aware of the editors responsible for these works.)

  15. THANK YOU.

    I was getting SO annoyed with the Chicken Littles and their sky-is-falling panic.

    I’ve got a No Award option and I’m not afraid to use it.

  16. I’m a big fan of byzantine, nigh-unexplainable solutions. That’s why I’m a big supporter of Instant Runoff Voting, for instance.

    One possibility would be to weigh nominations based on their similarity to other nominations, based on a curve that only begins to penalize ballots beyond a certain amount of overlap. Giving the number of categories, the number of slots, and the sheer quantity of potential works two nominating ballots being nearly identical is likely proof enough of collusion. A careful analysis might show otherwise, of course, as I’m just speculating.

    A workable response might be to only slate for one or two categories, and offer a random ballot generator for the remainder, but at least the damage would be constrained. Combined with a 3/6 system for nominating/final ballot slots and you could eliminate almost all the upside to slate voting. You could probably still get one or two works onto the ballot, but the requisite publicity of a slate would make it pointless, as a majority of voters would be inclined against those works.

  17. On the bright side, I’m voting for the Hugos for the first time and I discovered Mike Glyer’s, which has been a great place to follow the Hugo fiasco.

  18. I think the suggestions for 3 & 6 or 4 & 6 rules for nomination may be a good idea, but it might cause a potential voter to stick with more popular options. It’s still possible to fill the ballot with such a rule in place, though it does take more effort.

    Such a rule wouldn’t have affected Sad Puppies 2, which had one or two entries in several categories. A fair number of people still had kittens and/or cows.

    Such a rule also doesn’t have much effect on retail campaigning for particular authors. The Puppies were a bit grand with their visions of secret slates but I don’t find it unbelievable that plenty of other works have exploited the flaw to nominate works on the basis of personal relationships rather than appreciation for the work, particularly down ballot. There have been several shorter works in recent years that made me wonder who had nominated it and in some cases wonder how it came to be published in the first place.

    I think the best solution to the problem is to interest more people in the process. How many people were eligible to nominate this year between the 2014, 2015, and 2016 Worldcons? It’s easily more than 10 thousand. It is my hope, now that everyone is paying attention, that next year we will see many more nominating ballots. The last I checked, Sasquan now has as many supporting members as attending members.

  19. csswasey:

    “You could probably still get one or two works onto the ballot, but the requisite publicity of a slate would make it pointless, as a majority of voters would be inclined against those works.”

    Which is the other thing that I’ve noted before — I suspect the tactic of slating will be less successful next year (particularly of any Puppy brand) because this year’s disgust with them will mean that most people will not want to be associated with them, and those that will are pretty much advertising that there is no other way they could actually get anywhere near the ballot.

    Indeed, next year pretty much the only reason slates will exist will be as strategic instruments to deny other people a position on the ballot (which this year I suspect was an afterthought).

    But, you know. Assholes are gonna asshole.


    I do suspect there will a much larger number of people nominating next year, and that will also make a difference in the final ballot.

  20. Garry C writes:

    Whatever is heavily novel-centric, as is most of the blogosphere.

    The problem is that this is representative of the world. Eric Flint recently pointed out that 2% of the SF market is for short fiction.

  21. The “no masterminds” part is so true. Sooner or later, most of us realize how much society depends on goid-faith assumptions that no one can actually hold us to abiding, but only some of us will mistake the ability to fart in an elevator for a superpower.

  22. I’m no-awarding the puppy infested categories, basically because the quality isn’t there but also I’m not legitimizing a choice between 5 different flavors of puppy chow. It’s not “the Hugo for the best puppy crap on the ballot” it’s the Hugo for top-level SF, and the stories really aren’t.

    IRV does seem to be pretty resilient to slates in the final result.

    The “funny” thing is that VD is running around crowing that he will vote for Three Body Problem, but if it hadn’t been for his slate activities, it would have been on in the first place. So he directly caused a work he now feels should win from being on the ballot in the first place. Despite this being a glaring example of why slates are wrong, he’s demonstrating his usual total lack of self-awareness.

  23. If you are a slow reader, perhaps due to being incapable of reading more than a paragraph before bedtime, the library is your friend in this matter. You may even be able to “borrow” some of the magazines depending on what electronic subscriptions you local library network is signed up for. Anyone have any suggestions for brushing up on the comics/graphic novels though?

  24. The silver lining for me has been the discovery of File770, and getting a chance to read Annie Bellet’s story, “Goodnight Stars,” earlier than I would have (because it got my attention when she withdrew it). This has given me more time to recommend it to many people.

  25. I’m not going to automatically vote a work below no award if I think the author didn’t know about being slated. I’m not going to punish them for someone else’s actions. However, several of them have ranked below no award on the merits.

  26. Not the Reddit Chris S:

    “he’s demonstrating his usual total lack of self-awareness.”

    He’s totally self-aware. He’s oblivious beyond that very constrained frontier, however.

  27. I worry that if there’s a nominate 3 for a 6 person ballot, it would be easy to game by making a 6 entry slate with the instruction “if your were born in a odd year nominate 1, 2, and 3, if you were born in an even year nominate 4, 5, and 6.”

  28. Anna:

    I suspect there may be additional (i.e., unrelated to the 3/6 motion) motions to offer disincentives for obvious slating.

  29. Is it too late for the Sasquan committee to announce a ‘Definitely not a Hugo Award’ Award?

    Rules could be
    1) Anybody eligible to vote for the Hugos could also vote for a DNAHA.
    2) You can vote for any number of entries, then “No Award”, then up to six Antivotes.
    3) Instant run-off voting, with antivotes subtracted from votes.

    But the Sasquan committee can make any rules they want–they don’t have to worry about existing bylaws that pertain to Hugos. After all, it is their award, it is Definitely Not A Hugo Award.

  30. anna @ 4:51: The thing is, that would cut the impact of the slate voters in half. Say there were 100 people voting a slate; if all 100 vote for six stories, then all six stories have 100 votes each. If there are only–oh, 400 voters nominating anything, and the other three hundred voters split their preferences among 10 or 12 stories, then the six slate stories will likely get on the ballot. But if the slate vote is split, then the six slate stories only get 50 votes apiece, and the 300 other voters may have more of an impact.

    I think. Mind you, my math isn’t good, and I’m not sure I think that this is a good idea, but it has the advantage of being fairly simple–and if the goal is to minimize the impact of slates (rather than do away with the impact of slates entirely, which seems to be much more complex and probably not possible), it would seem to work.

  31. VD doesn’t feel that TBP *should* win. He thinks it *will* win, and that’s why he’s talking it up publicly. That way he can claim ULTIMATE WIKTORY if it does win, and show us all what masterful Xanatos Gambit he set up. Never mind that TBP was only kept off the ballot by the presence of Lines of Departure, which was his slate pick in the first place. But I suspect he’ll handwave that away somehow if TBP ends up taking the rocket.

  32. before this year, no one wanted to be that asshole.

    Oh John. So, so well put.

    I for one have never at all felt guilty about using No Award. I’ve used it long before the Incontinent Canines ever thought of slating. Once in a great while, there’s something on the ballot that just makes you wonder “wtF is this even doing on the ballot?!” There was something in 2012 or 2013 that I No Awarded, but I don’t recall what. And I think a couple things in the 90’s. Maybe 1 or 2 in the 80’s.

    My point being, No Award is there for a reason, and it’s actually won in a few categories over the decades. Sometimes nothing’s worthy, be it for quality reasons or for asshole reasons, or (as I suspect this year) both.

    Teddy’s extra-pissy this year because the story he forced onto the ballot last year finished behind No Award. There wasn’t as much publicity as this year, so people who knew nothing about him mostly found it wanting on its lack of merit. And that really made him stamp his widdle feet and cry. (I first typed “cray” there, thanks Dr. Freud!)

  33. I would like to discuss the possible fixes to the Hugo nominating flaws a little bit more. This discussion has started on this thread already. Here are my 2 cents.

    I am not certain the the “nominate 3 for 6 slots” fix – the one John mentioned in his post presents a sufficiently high barrier for the Puppies to overcome. A Sad Puppy Slate of 3 and a Rabid Puppy slate of another 3 and mobilization of Gamergate assholes (or whoever are the flavors of the next year’s conservative assholery). Yes, they will need more people to take over all six slots on the final ballot, but I am not certain that this, by itself is sufficient to make such a rule change work.

    Instant Runoff aka Single Transferrable Vote is not really applicable for the nomination process, which, as far as I understand (please correct me) works as “top K most frequently mentioned works”.

    So, to be completely honest, I am not as optimistic about “technocratic” fixes to the Hugo nomination process as John is.

    Whether Hugo is ruined forever or not will largely depend on whether next year (and the year after) in all categories the truly outstanding works have been nominated. If it does not happen, then the value of Hugos will become to naturally deteriorate

  34. David Palmer:

    I think there are probably good and cogent reasons for Sasquan not to want to dilute the value of the Hugo Award, even in an outlier year such as this one.

    Marko Kloos:

    Indeed, I’ve noted before that there is absolutely no scenario in which he would not declare victory and that he planned it all along, and he’s as transparently pathetic in this inclination as he is in many things. It’s not really worth considering what he says about it.

  35. Mike @ 3:44pm “Eric Flint recently pointed out that 2% of the SF market is for short fiction.”

    This could be related to the rates that most SF markets pay for short fiction.

  36. ‘No Award’ to me means: “It’s great that you have a lot of friends in WorldCon, but sorry, what you’ve written isn’t very good.”

    I also like the idea of nominating 2 or 3 and voting on the top 5 or 6. Very simple (for me) to understand. Otherwise, I can’t think, or haven’t read, of a good way to limit slates without making things look bad.

  37. Thanks, John. Well said. Count me as another voter more than willing to use the No Award option.

  38. Dave – Yes, the problem with the more complicated plans is that they are, in fact, more complicated. Whatever the fix for the problem is, it can’t be something that makes things seemingly worse. If the math isn’t transparent it leaves an award whose selection can’t be easily understood. I think it is really important not to let the actions of some assholes leave everyone with an unworkable or unbearably klutzy system.
    I do understand how freeing it can be to have – wow – five spaces to fill in one’s nominations, but it does seem to me to possibly explain why an occasional really lackluster thing gets on the ballots at times. Three, or even two, slots require nominations to reflect more of a commitment to one’s choices.
    I’m also realizing that this all means that I will have to do a fair amount of research concerning other categories in future years. Best fanzines, editors, and the like aren’t things I have been considering in past, but those are vulnerable categories, even with improved nominating rules, just because most of the attention goes to the bigger ones. Ultimately the best fix will be more involvement, more knowledge.

  39. I remember some years back that there was some whining about the regulations defining a cherry pie suitable for purchase by the US military. Apparently, the document ran for a good number of pages, all to describe a dessert pastry that just about anyone could recognize. Needless to say, the minimal cherry count was an artifact of some contractor leaving out the cherries. The measurement technique for counting the cherries was specified after some contractor managed to use cherry pieces to get around the original cherry count clause. Basically, the whole document was scar tissue, clauses and provisos added in response to contractors trying to pass off inferior, obviously non-cherry pies, as proper cherry pies.

    It’s a pity, but there is always someone who can profit in some way or another by gaming the system. The Hugo nomination scheme has a certain charm. If it wasn’t these Sick Puppies, it might have been some mega-publishing outfit or a religious cult or a foreign government that decided it wanted to exploit the holes in the system to get their candidate(s) a Hugo. Think of the situation as a sign of respect. When a Hugo really didn’t matter that much, back when fan recommendations, Hugo or no Hugo, made the big difference, the Hugo process could be naively designed. The idea was just to reflect what fans felt was worthy. It has gone beyond that now. Let’s hope the Hugo rules don’t start resembling the rules defining a US military specified cherry pie. If nothing else, as much as I like a good piece of cherry pie, it no substitute for good piece of science fiction.

  40. Doug

    The price which magazine editors can pay for short fiction depends, in turn, on how much they can sell the magazines for.

    It’s late on this side of the pond, so please forgive me for not checking whether it was Eric Flint or GGR Martin who pointed out that defining a novel as 40,000 words or more bears no resemblance to the length of currently published novels; updating the Hugos to reflect modern markets seems a sensible idea.


    Now and in years to come there is and will be recognition of those who behaved honourably in this debacle.

    On a more prosaic note, my personal response is to buy the stories of those who have behaved honourably, or if it’s not possible to buy them then read them and give my honest opinion thereon.

    I appreciate that VD can’t wrap his head around the idea that it is perfectly possible for a socialist feminist, even an English one, to enjoy well written Mil SF, but then he can’t wrap his head around a lot of things; he didn’t anticipate that some people would behave honourably because the concept is entirely alien to him.

    In the meantime you have at least one new reader; I look forward to seeing where you take us….

  41. Glenn Glazer:

    I’ve always enjoyed Fred Clark’s explanation of shibboleth:

    “Say ‘shibboleth.'”
    “Die, Ephraimite!”
    “Oh, sit!”

  42. @kaleberg: A religious cult DID once try to get their candidate a Hugo. It didn’t work. We laughed a lot at them, and the door-stopper book, and the bad bad movie made from it (or one of said author’s other terrible books — they all blur together).

  43. The major problem I see with just letting people nominat only three works and having six finalists on the ballot is: we are already dealing with two slates.

    Yes, this year the Sad and Rabid Puppies obviously coordinated. But they could just as easily diverge. The Sads *and* Rabids both have shown that they can get a work on the ballot without the other slate (except in the categories that get the very most votes, like Best Novel.) If we put in a 3/6 rule, the Sads dodge left, the Rabids dodge right, and they still pwn most categories.

    I have seen another proposal that was roughly “nominate up to five, but once you get a candiate on the ballot your remaining nominations count for 1/2, if you get 2 on the ballot, 1/4th and so on.” Basically it insures that the maximum number of nominators get at least one thing they like on the ballot.

    That’s the one I favor.

  44. Stevie @ 6:58: Now and in years to come there is and will be recognition of those who behaved honourably in this debacle.

    Absolutely. The day Kloos and Bellet withdrew their works, I went to Amazon to look them up. I told myself I wouldn’t buy anything “just because,” only if the books sounded interesting . . . but they did, and I bought one of each and will likely keep an eye open for more.

  45. First up: “bored of” is a very annoying neologism, which appears to mainly be playing into the assumption there are no other prepositions than “of”. “Bored by” or “bored with” is much more accurate (and you’re bored by an action, bored with a thing, and bored at by politicians and grammar pedants).

    I agree with you that the Puppies (of all varieties, infection levels and breeds) will attempt to use their standard “heads I win, tails you lose” logic to frame any potential rule change as a success for them (in rather the same manner, a men’s rights activist candidate in the UK elections, who attained a total of 132 votes in his electorate is framing his rather categoric loss as being a “success” of the “we got people talking” type). But, as I’ve said before, the puppies would use this logic to make sense of anything up to and including a direct meteor strike on the Convention hotel – the meteor strike would, of course, have been organised ahead of time by the SMOFs to try and prevent the puppies from succeeding in their quest[1].

    Email Animal: sorry, but when I see the words “ruined forever”, I can’t help but remember what my partner has told me of the Transformers fandom, which has, if I remember rightly, been “ruined forever” on approximately an annual basis since around 1984. Surprisingly enough, it’s still going strong. Now, whether this is a trait which is unique to fans of transforming robots, or whether it extends to general fandom is, I suspect, up to the fandom in question. I tend to the optimistic side of things.

    [1] In actuality it was the result of a rather-too-good Sephiroth cosplayer not winning the masquerade!

  46. @marko kloos – yes, VD declaring wictory is a foregone conclusion.

    I seem to remember one of his acolytes saying he was playing three dimensional chess. He’s really just playing Calvinball.

  47. @megpie71
    [aside from the fact that I could not care less about the Transformers franchise (-: ]

    Every year I use Hugos and Nebulas as suggestions for which books to go out to buy and read. If I like what I read, I go further into the past and try to read other books by the Hugo/Nebula-nominated authors. I do not necessarily like everything from the nominations list that I get my hands on, but for the past 5-6 years (and also going into the past), the system has worked pretty well, and without it I would’ve never discovered some of the great authors (Chabon, Bachigalupi and probably Mieville are easy examples of that).

    This year, if I were not otherwise aware of the goings, I’d be preparing myself for the work by Vox Day and John C. Wright.

    If stuff like this happens next year and the year after, list of Hugo nominations will stop being a reliable set of recommendations for what to read. I do not know about the reactions of others, but for me, Hugos will be ruined. If not forever, then at least for the foreseeable future – until something else happens that restores my ability to rely on the list to read good sci-fi and fantasy.

    As it stands today, rather than relying on this year’s crop of Hugo nominees, I am trying to parse out the consensus on which books were slighted for the Hugos…. )-:

  48. I have so far in life reached three levels of wisdom about assholes.

    I reached the first level of knowledge when I realized that some humans were assholes.

    I reached the second level of knowledge when I realized that I was under no obligation to spend time with assholes.

    I reached the third level of knowledge when I realized that there was a subset of assholes who managed to get themselves into positions of power — politics, large corporations, etc — such that the rest of us have to spend a great deal of time and effort trying to dodge the direct or indirect results of their assholishness.

    I have yet to reach the fourth level of knowledge, mostly because I’m too damn distracted. (See previous paragraph.) I don’t *think* the fourth level of knowledge involves carefully-targetted assassinations, but I’m not sure yet.

  49. Bearpaw, also, in the immortal words of Walter Jon Williams, “Assholes always advertise.”

  50. BW, I’m not sure I agree with that. I’ve known at least a couple of stealth assholes.

    Addendum to my above:

    — Asshole behavior does not necessarily mean that a person *is* an asshole. It takes a certain sustained consistency of assholishness. (Realizing this was a relief to me, because it meant that *I* wasn’t an asshole, despite occasional asshole behavior.)

    — I admit to the theoretical possibility that everyone, even an asshole, has a good side. But I am not personally obligated to go looking for it.

  51. @Cat Faber Can you point to a site that discusses the ways your proposal can be gamed and how it will diminish my ballot as a non-slate voting member? Also, I would need to see different scenarios for different voting situations. Thanks.

  52. I began reading science-fiction voraciously in c. 1940, and discovered Fandom in 1958. People of my generation were generally taught by their mothers not to use words such as “asshole” (Their grandfathers who were factory-workers, on the other hand….) Nonetheless, when I saw the Puppies writing stuff like “Scalzi is doing horrible self-promotion” all I could do was blink three times and mutter “These people are assholes” Some Pros, over the years, have done that in the Hugo context (and more, I hink, in re the Nebulas), But there has always been a Wall, and you (IMHO) came splat up against that and yet didn’t in the least go Over The Top. I Noticed that… and noticed that the Puppies _did_ outrage the Fannish Traditions. But then, what would one expect from people who apparently are not aware that the Hugos are a Popularity Contest, not a Merit Award. And the Puppies are (IMHO) not especially popular among traditional fans because they’re too arrogantly aggressive & domineering.

  53. I prefer my shibboleths boiled rather than bruited…Oh wait, that’s shallots.

    But seriously, good points.

  54. I wonder if any political scientists or election theorists are busy ginning up papers about the whole kerfuffle. The way the Hugo’s were gamed is a known and easily exploitable flaw for that sort of election, and it really was only a ‘Nobody wanted to be that guy’ thing that kept it going without any collapse so long.

    So seeing it in practice — seeing a single small block knock over the apple cart, is a bit rare. Plus seeing how the Hugo’s adapt is another interesting data point. Maybe the Puppies will become immortal, forever a footnote on failure modes in certain forms of elections.

    As a fix, I personally favor RAV. Let the voters nominate and vote how they always have. The change is in the tally, and it’s an objective change — one that would help diversify the ballot and easily prevent slates (including accidental ones, if some large grouping in the nominator’s pool happened to have very, very, very similar tastes).

    Sure, it’s gameable too (any election system is vulnerable to strategic voting) but absent heavy polling, it’s not effectively so.

    If the Sad Puppies are truly sad, and not sour, RAV should delight them. A work that was highly popular with a minority grouping is MUCH more likely to pop out under RAV.

    Then again, it does reweight votes and that’s a bit of a stretch for more Americans.

  55. Thank you once again, John, for the next installment in the ongoing Hugo saga and its associated neepery (love that term). Since I added you to my RSS feed and allowed your Twitter messages through to my phone as texts, I have been following this situation closely, through your special filter, and I have been enjoying the melodrama immensely. You have inspired me to not only become a supporting member of Sasquan and vote, but also to cast my reading net more widely and read more of the works listed in Locus and on the Nebula ballot. Though I did just take valuable reading time to REREAD _Red Shirts_. I think I liked it even more the second time around. I think I have gleaned from the various comments what the puppy slate is so as to avoid those works in my votes, but I was wondering if the puppy slate was posted somewhere that would make this work easier. I know, I know, I should vote my conscience rather than simply voting to thwart puppies, and to some extent I will (loved the _Ms. Marvel_ comic), but I am basically buying voting rights to thwart this slate nonsense and so I was wondering if you know where I can find said slate. Thank you for your frequent blog posts and Twitter activities that enrich my life. Bravo!

  56. So, the Hugos aren’t destroyed, but the other night I was filling out part of my ballot and putting in “no award” for all the puppy -filled categories, and I got say seeing so many categories wiped out made me feel a little sick to my stomach.

    The 3/6 idea seems like a good start, by cutting the power of slates in half. But I’d like to see them cut by one-quarter somehow. I just don’t know how that would work. nominate 2 with 8 slots per category results in what might be too many works to read. Nominate 1 out of 4 means you only nominate 1 work and that would just suck.

    reducing the number of nominees to 3 also means its more likely that non-slate voters will randomly choose the same 3 works, which means you can’t really use a “if it looks like a slate ballot, choose the first work, then put the ballot aside” type solutions.

    I think the whole mess emphasizes for me something about the rules I didn’t appreciate before: the rules assumed good faith, and as long as voters voted in good faith, the current rules were really good in having the best works percolate to the top. being able to nominate 5 works for a final ballot of 5 choices is a great way to cast a wide net.

    But to cast that wide net, voters have to vote in good faith, and the pups did NOT vote in good faith, they really were the assholes. And unfortunately, it means that the rules can’t assume good faith anymore, and more importantly it means we can’t have a 5/5 system anymore, which also means the net got a little smaller. if you can only nominate 3, you have a smaller net to work with. It doesn’t “break” the Hugos, but I think it will change their character a bit, and that’s a bit sad, and I blame the pups for htat.

  57. I’ve been trying to read up on all sides of this, and the weirdest thing to see is how the actual facts are in dispute. That makes the whole thing harder to discuss in any reasonable way. The puppies claim the Hugos have been controlled by an undemocratic, not-so-secret cabal which has been gaming the vote all along. The non-puppies try to show this is not true; that you can’t define “people who vote for Hugos” as a cabal of any kind, given the rules for how to participate.

    It kind of reminds me of the climate change debate, honestly. Except that’s all about money and this seems to be more about how the Puppies feel they have been dissed by the con-going fandom.

    I really don’t think, at this point, that the actual facts of the situation will ever be agreed upon by the factions. Ever. (I mean, I know what I think is true, but there’s no convincing the Puppies.)

  58. Dana:

    “I really don’t think, at this point, that the actual facts of the situation will ever be agreed upon by the factions. Ever.”

    One primary difference is that the Puppies cannot actually prove the “shadowy cabal” they allege does, in fact, exist, whereas there is a surplus of evidence about what the Puppies have done and said. The simplest explanation for this is that the Puppies concocted a shadow cabal to justify their own bad actions; the more complex explanation is that the Puppies are genuinely terrible at caballing and might take lessons from the people so successful at it they’ve never been caught.

    (Mind you, in the latter formulation, the prime argument against the shadow cabal is the fact that the Puppies, blundering amateurs that they are, managed to succeed in getting their nominees onto the ballot at all — surely the SJW cabal, who had dictated the results of the Hugos for years, could have nipped this piddling affront in the bud! But didn’t, which calls into the question the existence of the cabal at all.)

    People have been discussing these events reasonably, but the thing is, the underlying reasons for the Puppies to make their slate aren’t reasonable; they’ve been consistently knocked down by evidence. As with many unreasonable people, that doesn’t dissuade many of the Puppies, it just makes them dig in harder. In this regard, they are very much like anti-vaxxers or climate change deniers. After a certain point, reasonable people there’s no reasoning with them and work to minimize the damage they can do.

  59. @Dana

    It is indeed very much like climate change, right down to one group (denialists/Puppies) insisting that the other group (climate scientists/nonPuppy voters) is engaging in large scale collusion that is somehow leaving no trace.

    @Chris Tower

    File 770 has a nice roundup of what is slate and what is real on the Hugo Ballot. The “Nominees Not Appearing On Either List” section is at the bottom of that post.

    I don’t want to put too many links in here and wind up in the spam folder, but google “Puppy-Free Hugos” for Deirdre Saoirse Moen’s page if all you want is a simple, easy to follow list. It should pop right up.

  60. In the Green Room at Marcon last weelend there was a fair amount of Hugo discussion
    Hard to tell about the con in general, as I was working my butt off as a panelist.

    General opinions included a lot of :-( making, & a general distaste for the situation, but also an increase in interest in the process, and determination to get supporting membership and vote. Even the uninterested people seemed pleased when I told them I had received one of the “Hugo scholarships” on the condition that I actually try to read all the nominated works. Also, a general distaste for people who can’t tell the difference between”bad book” and “book that was not to my taste”.

    Marko, You may also count me as one of the people inspired to go look up your work Based on that wonderful essay you wrote. The first book was not entirely to my taste, But I Remain interested, and look forward to my turn at the second with my local library.

  61. @John and @Cat Faber


    I only wish the so-called SJW Cabal was as powerful as the Puppies seem to think it is. The world would be a very different place.

  62. I’m going to be really interested in seeing what the next batch of puppies will be like. My feeling is that Brad and Larry have damaged their reputations by organizing and participating in a slate. I seem to recall both of them (at least BT) admitting as much. If at least some of the slate works fall below “no award”, which seems rather rare in normal years, then what will the effect of that be? Is it better or worse for an aspiring author to garner a Hugo slate nom and be laughed below no award, than not to get nommed at all? Because if the general consensus is that getting on a puppy slate will damage your career, why would anyone?

  63. Thanks Cat Faber!
    And to add so this is not a useless post. Not only did John’s frequent content on this issue inspire me to action, the possibility of a Helsinki Worldcon intrigued my wife enough to agree to plan a vacation and attend a SF con with me, which is actually a very big deal as my wife is not as big a fan as I am. Though she really liked _Lock In_.

  64. I agree with John that slates seem likely to be less successful next year, for the reasons he mentioned: most people will decline to be on a slate next year (and most will probably also publicly dissociate themselves from a slate that lists them their permission), and more regular voters will participate in nominations next year, having seen what happens when the ballot is left up to a special-interest group campaigning for a slate.

    There are some additional factors that I think will contribute to making slating less effective next year.

    Unless Correia intends to campaign as actively again as he did this year (and I’d say his blog gives the impression he’d like to step back, though I could certainly be wrong about that), I think they’ll have less impact in 2016. If he’s not as visible as he was this year, then they’ll still have their supporters, though possibly not as many, but they probably won’t get new recruits to the “cause,” and they certainly won’t get as much attention.

    Also, I think it’s an open question what the Rabids will do in 2016. It could be an even more focused effort to game the ballot… or it could be walking away, doing absolutely nothing. VD is prone to making threats that amount to nothing, in much the way that he’s prone to making claims that have no basis in reality, so his stated intentions for the future cannot be taken seriously. And no one knows how long his attention span is (well, apart from his obsession with Scalzi, which has epic endurance) or how long the attention span of his followers is. It seems entirely possible that something else—oh, look, a squirrel!—will replace the Hugos in his field of vision before the 2016 nominations period rolls around.

    (Btw, John, I’ve figured out why all the Puppies are so obsessed with you. YOU SHOULD NEVER HAVE TAPED BACON TO YOUR CAT, MAN! It all began there, and you have no one to blame but yourself.)

  65. @Dana

    While, if we *had* to have a cabal, I’d rather have an SJW one, I’m just as happy to do without cabals entirely, if that is an option. I liked the Hugos better when it was just people reading what honestly appealed to them and nominating their favorites.

    If we *do* have to have a nonPuppy cabal, I think the Puppies would get crushed. But crushing Puppies is not my ideal–I’d rather have everybody get a voice, but leave slates out of it.

    @Chris Tower

    You’re quite welcome; do be aware that Helsinki in 2017 is a bid, not a certainty. IOW it’s still being voted on; if you like the idea you can vote for $40 which gives you (I believe) a supporting membership in whichever bid wins for 2017 (which might, for example, be Washington DC.) If I understand right, that supporting membership can be upgraded to attending by paying the difference.

    Note that this will only be my second year supporting and I’ve never attended, but Google is your friend if you want to know how to go about voting on site selection.

  66. Personally, I’m hoping for one of the more technocratic solutions. Sure, it might take a little while to explain how Reweighted Approval Voting or Single Transferable Voting works, but just as Instant Runoff Voting has clear advantages over First Past the Post, I think that these more sophisticated voting systems similarly yield better results. In ten years, we’d be wondering why we stuck with such a primitive nomination system for so long… assuming we can make that initial leap.

    I’m not as much a fan of the 3/6 sort of systems. The fewer nominees you get to list, the more important it will be for authors to campaign for one of those precious slots, and I think that was already heading in a problematic direction, these last few years.

    Honestly, I think the serious problem this year’s Hugos revealed is how many categories there are that most fans really don’t care about. I have to think that the genesis of the slate was VD looking at last year’s nominating totals, and seeing categories in which garnering nomination numbers in the 30s or 40s (for a convention with a final membership total in the 10k neighborhood) was enough to get on the ballot, and thinking that just getting one nominee in each category wasn’t trying hard enough.

    Personally, I think that if the Hugos don’t want to end up becoming just another meaningless Internet popularity poll, ruthless paring down of categories is probably necessary. The current rules allow for a Worldcon to, in its exclusive discretion, cancel any category in which insufficient nominations or votes indicates a lack of interest. (I don’t know if that clause has ever been used.) I think that putting in some concrete limit, such as “Cancel any category in which fewer than X% of those eligible to nominate (not X% of those who nominate, X% of those who could nominate) bother to do so”, would make the Hugos far more difficult to game, though at the cost of eliminating a lot of categories that most people don’t seem to care about, but the few who care, really really care.

  67. And after all these years, I still don’t even know what “semiprozine” means. Maybe a lot of people don’t! Couldn’t that be changed to something like “Best SF/F FictionMag”?

  68. Learning alot about the worldcon business meeting. When this all dies down in a few years im going to get some fellow wheel of time fans together to push through some changes. Change the hugo award to the robert jordan award. Change the spaceship to the Aes Sedai symbol with 2 wheels and a serpant eating its own tail.

    Then ill push through things that the convention really needs. Required morning exercises. Only allow healthy food choices at thecon ention. Patting people down for junk food. Twinkies will be seized.

    Suppsedly virtually no one goes to these meetings…. Then we will see twitter go crazy with how I am a bigot against the horizontally challenged.

    Sad puppies has jumped the shark. I’m calling on authors like john to inject drama to entertain the masses. Screamhysterically about how the wprld is faling. We have plenty of these lame and boring posts about how everything will be ok.

  69. Angua:

    “My feeling is that Brad and Larry have damaged their reputations by organizing and participating in a slate. I seem to recall both of them (at least BT) admitting as much.”

    I don’t suspect Correia has substantially damaged himself, at least in terms of sales. He’s already established as a best seller and not a whole lot of people who read him for entertainment are likely to stop reading him over this. Some might; but they are likely to be counterbalanced by those who might pick him up because of it. In the end I suspect it will be a wash.

    Torgersen might have more of a problem; the sales of his first novel don’t appear to be particularly great (although not terrible for a first novel), and Baen may have a challenge selling him to core fandom after this. Which is not an insurmountable task, to be sure; it just means Baen makes more of an effort with already-committed Baen fans and looks for audiences outside of core fandom. It’s solvable; the question is whether from a business point of view it’ll be worth the effort.

    In either case in the short term neither of them is likely to stop publishing. I seem to remember Correia noting somewhere that he has a multi-book contract with Baen; good for him. Nick Mamatas has noted elsewhere that even if Torgersen’s next book craters Baen can keep him busy co-writing with more established authors, and there are other publishers who would be fine with publishing him. And in both cases they’re perfectly good writers. Writing talent isn’t the issue.

    So, no, they should be just fine, in terms of work and sales.

    Both of them probably have damaged their reputations in SF/F fandom, because Correia’s come across as a whiny bully and Torgersen apparently hasn’t found a bridge he’s unwilling to burn, whether or not he happens to be standing on it at the time. This is, of course, their own karma. It’s entirely possible over time people will forget (or just not care anymore), but in my experience and anecdotal knowledge, fandom has a long memory.

    Again, whether this matters in terms of a career is an open question. SF/F fandom (meaning the core group of people who attend small SF/F conventions and Worldcon, and who typically vote on the Hugos) is not is only a percentage of the overall market. It’s perfectly possible to have a career in SF/F and not address it at all. But it is worth nothing that many of the people who are pros in SF/F publishing have come up in, feel a part of and have a great regard for, SF/F fandom. And they are quite aware of Corriea and Torgersen’s antics.

    So: We’ll see. Personally, I wish them nothing but professional success. I think they’ve chosen an interesting way to go about achieving that.

  70. Laura

    As long as John continues to write, and live a happy life, then VD will remain obsessed with Scalzi, SF/F in general, and awards in particular, because he has managed to convince himself that Scalzi has usurped the place which is rightfully his.

    Having seen some of his stuff on File770 it’s obvious that, insofar as it can be described as thinking, he thinks in cliches like ‘usurped the place which is rightfully his’, which is why his writing is so dreadful.

    His supporters seem to be the archetypal low achievers who want to believe that they would be top of the pile were it not for the machinations of evil conspirators doing them down. There is always a market for that sort of fantasy, and VD is good at selling it, though he may have to alter it here and there to assassinate a few squirrels who are obviously after his nuts, and, by implication, their nuts.

    So no, I don’t think it’s going to go away; I do think that VD and his chums are beyond reasoning and it’s a waste of time and energy to attempt it. On the other hand, retooling the Hugos to bring them more in line with the contemporary markets seems a sensible thing to do in its own right, and that’s a valuable and productive thing to do with time and energy…

  71. Anyone who is interested in the mechanics of possible changes to the nominating system should go to Making Light and read Bruce Schneier’s guest posts and the comments thereon.

    My personal preference is the proposal that after selecting a nominee any ballot containing that nominee has it’s voting power cut in half and votes are retallied and the next nominee is selected and repeat. Slates rapidly lose their power after one or two choices.

  72. @Cat

    I was unclear — I’m not advocating for cabals in the Hugos process. I’m for individuals voting for works they read and loved.

    What I meant was, an SJW Cabal that was powerful in the world at large would be a Good Thing. But I didn’t say what I meant. Sorry!

  73. @ Stevie: “On the other hand, retooling the Hugos to bring them more in line with the contemporary markets seems a sensible thing to do in its own right,”

    I thought Eric Flint made some very sensible arguments on his blog recently in favor of substantially retooling Hugo categories for fiction.

  74. martin: after selecting a nominee any ballot containing that nominee has it’s voting power cut in half

    This sounds interesting. I wonder what would happen if you looked at previous years’ first-round ballots and ran it through this algorithm if it would significantly change the outcome. Ideally, it wouldn’t change much when there is NOT a slate running. I don’t even know, is all the voting information from previous years publicly available somewhere? You’d need to know the individual ballots to try out the algorithms.

    The way I see it, before this year, no one wanted to be that asshole. But now VD has proven he is willing to take on being that asshole for the rest of his life, so the process needs to do something to keep him and his assholes friends from filling the nominations for an entire category ever again.

  75. John, with reference to Brad and Larry’s careers, how much is attendance at conventions worth to a science fiction author in both absolute terms (honorariums and such) and in secondary terms, such as publicity or reputation? I ask this because I suspect that Brad and Larry are both pretty toxic these days, and I suspect it will be awhile before one of them is again asked to join a panel or act as Guest of Honor. Does this affect their earning potential?

  76. @Angua & Scalzi: In re damage to one’s career, it depends on what one means by damage, I think. Sales of books currently on the shelves will probably not be affected, nor overall future sales, assuming both can keep getting published.

    Getting published in the near future? Probably not a problem. As Scalzi notes, Correia has a contract, but that contract probably doesn’t obligate Baen to publish any particular novel, and may just be “rights of first refusal.” The longer term is more subject to the knock-on effects of whether people want to work with someone who has demonstrated contempt, disdain, and poor manners towards others. Editors, publicists, copywriters, etc., quite often get into the industry because they love the medium and tend to gravitate towards a genre. They might also happen to be gay, or have a gay relative, or be deeply involved in fandom, and/or have a distaste for someone who demonstrates a lack of professionalism.

    This means that an editor might choose not to opt another novel from someone; or a senior copyeditor might find she’s too busy to work on a certain novel and leave it to an intern with; or the publicity department can’t spare the budge or manpower for a full push; or a successful contracted designer turns down a job because she’s got enough work already and doesn’t have any incentive to make time for a particular novelist; a reviewer can often choose which of the many, many books she receives from publishers she will read and then opt to review.

    Many of these people won’t know each other and wouldn’t constitute some sort of cabal or blacklist. In the publishing industry, just as writers are independent contractors, so are many of the backstage players. I know I’ve turned down jobs because previous experience with the author was torture, or because the particular type of work didn’t generate enough interest for me to feel that I could give it my best effort. Publishers and editors have respected this, and we learn from working together which types of books I could effectively buff and polish, or review well, or whatever, and which were better assigned elsewhere. And some authors fall off the radar entirely, because eventually no one wants to work with them. It has happened, just as it does in other fields. No one wants to spend days and weeks fighting with an abusive jerk over every precious word that can’t possibly be cut. For example…

    In my experience, eventually assholes end up crapping in their own beds and then wonder why nobody wants to sleep with them.

  77. @Dana, “I’ve been trying to read up on all sides of this, and the weirdest thing to see is how the actual facts are in dispute.

    I’m not sure what facts are up for dispute, to be honest. My reading of the situation so far has been that a couple of groups, the Rabid and Sad Puppies, voted a slate on a ballot. The only thing I’ve heard that is up for debate is the conflict between their stated intentions and their observed comments. The ‘fact’ of a SJW cabal is, as yet, an unproven assertion that so far has not been backed up by anything resembling actual details. Several well known authors have actually gone to some lengths to detail the actual numbers that disprove the notion that ‘the wrong people’ have been secretly guiding the Hugo away from the One True Way of Science Fiction.

    Unlike the Gamergaters, which try to hide under a blanket of ‘well, they don’t represent us’, the Puppies have signed on as groups with noted leaders and organizers. Some of those leaders and organizers have some pretty noxious views on many topics, which call into question the nobility of their cause and honesty of their motivations.

    What facts do you perceive as being hard to ascertain the truth of?

  78. Alex R:

    I’m not sure I agree with the assumption that either of them will find conventions closed to them. I know Correia has plans to attend Dragon*Con this year, for example, and he’s been a frequent guest at GenCon and other conventions. Regardless of immediate controversy he has fans and will be a draw. Brad I don’t suspect is at a Guest of Honor level just yet (though he might be, since some conventions — ArmadillioCon being one off the top of my head — like to book newer writers as GoHs) but there’s nothing keeping him from attending a convention as a regular guest and asking to be on panels, and being programmed in his fields of expertise. I’ve seen Correia interact with his fans live; he’s courteous and engaging with them, and why wouldn’t he be. I don’t have any reason to believe he would act in any manner other than professionally at a convention; likewise Torgersen.

    So, no, I don’t think conventions are closed off to them.

  79. Some criticism of the 3/6 approach and its variants is that people don’t want to lose the opportunity to vote for more candidates that they think are worthy. On the other hand, there are categories where most of the thousands of voters can’t think of even one nominee. Maybe some hybrid “50% rule” could work, where the number of slots in the first round is determined by how many voters participated in a category the previous year, and the final ballot is twice that many…so maybe some years there are 8 novel candidates but only 4 semiprozines on the final ballot.

    I think, though, that every option is going to have some fundamental flaw, and we’re just going to have to decide which flaw we want to live with (I feel the same way about rewarding performance in an “ordinary” work environment).

  80. @wizardru

    I personally don’t think the facts are in dispute.

    But the Puppies faction and Everyone Else do have very different versions of what has been going on with the Hugos. I agree that the Puppies’ claims that the Hugos in recent years have become “affirmative action” awards and are no longer based on quality, and that a shadowy cabal has controlled them, have been rebutted.

    But the Puppies still believe what they believe. They dispute the truth of the rebuttals.

    In some debates we see in society, the facts of what is happening are not in dispute; there’s only a dispute over what is best, or moral — what should be done about the situation. Here, the actual facts are in dispute and I don’t think the Puppies and the non-Puppies will ever come to some agreement on what the facts are at all.

  81. @John: “I’ve seen Correia interact with his fans live; he’s courteous and engaging with them, and why wouldn’t he be. I don’t have any reason to believe he would act in any manner other than professionally at a convention; likewise Torgersen.”

    I used to be one of Correia’s fans. Met him at a local con, before the Puppies thing was even dreamt of, and we got on fine. I probably still have my galley PDF of the first Grimnoir novel on my hard drive somewhere, Then I dared to disagree with him on his blog, and the claws came out. To put it mildly, I am no longer a fan.

    In my experience, he’s one of the kind of people I see all too frequently: nice to those they perceive as Their Tribe, vicious to everyone else. In my part of the country, I am frequently assumed to be of one tribe when I actually am not. It’s a weird feeling.

  82. @Greg: As I understand it, architects of the fractional-vote plan tried using it to rerun some past Hugo nomination elections from the pre-Puppy era where they had full ballot information available, and the results were almost exactly the same: on average, out of the 5 works in a category that had been nominated under the current system, 4.5 would have been nominated under the fractional-vote system.

  83. Rev. Bob:

    “Then I dared to disagree with him on his blog, and the claws came out. To put it mildly, I am no longer a fan.”

    Without disputing or discounting this at all, I would be willing to bet there are some folks who would allege similar experiences here, I suspect Torgersen among them.

    The last exchange I had with Correia online he called me a pussy a little bit after I noted to him there was some misogyny going on over at his site (which, if memory served, he denied). I found this suitably ironic enough to decide I was done chatting with him on the Internet. In real life, we were perfectly polite with each other. It can be done.

  84. Ah, I see. You mean that for the Puppies, the facts are in dispute. Well, yes, I suppose they would be for them. But while I’m sure there are plenty of people in the puppies faction who dispute the validity of that information, they haven’t offered up any actual counter-arguments or details to refute the version that they aren’t particularly happy with.

    To me, the thing that strikes me as most disingenuous is the nomination of the same author three times in the same category. That’s just peeing in the pool, afaic. I have no experience of that author, but I find myself dubious that he could write three stories all worthy of the Hugo in the space of one year so richly deserving recognition that they trump so many other authors and many a Grand Master.

    I understand if the Puppies do not accept the criticism of their actions. But denial of facts, whether it be concerned with the moon landing, the reality of the holocaust, the source and nature of the AIDS virus or the existence of a hidden society of SF fans who are intent on pushing a secret social agenda does not actually make that a valid debate.

  85. “And after all these years, I still don’t even know what ‘semiprozine’ means.”

    Fanzine: A publication that does not pay contributors in anything other than copies and does not generally charge money for issues.

    Prozine: A publication that provides at least 25% of income for one person.

    Semiprozine: A publication that’s not a prozine and either pays contributors something more than free copies or generally charges money for issues.

  86. As Greg suggests, there’s nothing wrong with the nominate-3-and-vote-for-6 scheme, as long as you’re willing to concede half the ballot to whoever’s pushing a slate that year.

  87. @John: “…I was done chatting with him on the Internet. In real life, we were perfectly polite with each other. It can be done.”

    I should have completed the story; there was a second meatspace meeting. Very briefly: I asked him about the online encounter, and his response (that he had responded to a strawman rather than my actual statements “to save time” because that was supposedly where I was going anyway) is what made me cease to be a fan. I lost considerable respect for him then, and Sad Puppies has only served to confirm my assessment that he does not debate in good faith.

    Yes, it’s personal, and I don’t expect it to impact anyone else’s opinions – but I’m a person, and it affected mine.

  88. @Stevie:”On the other hand, retooling the Hugos to bring them more in line with the contemporary markets seems a sensible thing to do in its own right”

    I think there will always be a disparity partly because changes to WSFS happen gradually, but also because the people who nominate & vote for the Hugos are not the same as contemporary markets (if by that you mean more popular works). I think that the tastes of the Hugo votership overlaps but is not identical to the rest of SFF readership. It’s a feature not a bug, and to try to turn one into the other is, IMO, a mistake.

    If by contemporary markets, you mean ideas such as including e.g. a YA category or splitting the novel category into different lengths, or having a category for completed series, then those are interesting ideas worth discussing too. There have been some discussion especially about including YA as a Hugo category in previous years & I suspect it will be an ongoing topic.

    Re: the discussions about rule changes on Making Light
    Original discussion:
    Part Two:

  89. The threads about voting systems on Making Light are good stuff (I’ve been reading them as they’ve gone along) but are up to more than 1000 messages. So, for those who are daunted by that length:

    The system that seems to have a consensus there is called “Single Divisible Vote with the Least Popular Eliminated” (or SDV-LPE; there’s been some discussion of other possible names). It looks to me like it’ll do a good job of keeping slate nominees from dominating categories, they way they did this year. Note: any slates, including hypothetical ones by hypothetical SJW’s. A slate will likely get one or perhaps two things nominated; but there’s a good argument to be made that a movement which manages to mobilize 15% of the nominators probably deserves to have one of its choices reach the shortlist.

    There’s a good explanation of the system in clear, non-technical language in this post.

    One poster implemented the system and tested his code on the nominating ballots for 1984, and found that it gave results very close to what was actually nominated that year. (Which is what we want: when there isn’t a bloc, the current “first past the post” system is fine and we don’t want something that’ll stray far from it.) His results are here.

    There are some details still to be worked out (how do you break ties? what do you do when a nominee declines their nomination?) but I fully expect a version of this to be presented at this year’s Business Meeting, and I hope it passes.

  90. @Soonlee

    I meant the latter; Eric Flint has written about this at length, and, whilst he is away on vacation/scoping places to fictionally destroy, I’m hoping he will pick up the threads when he returns. GRR Martin has also given quite a bit of thought to this aspect.

    If the rules need to be changed to deal with idiots like VD then it seems to me that we should turn it into an opportunity to make positive changes to take the Hugos into the 21st century. After all, there are a lot of SF/F awards -see John’s latest post- which VD can’t game; I have no doubt that he is grinding his dentures over that unpalatable fact. I adhere strongly to the view that living well is the best form of revenge; I’m looking forward to it…

  91. I like Flint’s idea of awards for Best Completed Series or Best Series–but run into problems when I wonder how people will have the time to read all the entries.

    I read everything I could manage last year in the time between when the Hugo Packet came out and when the voting closed–it was, at an estimate, 14 books of stuff–and I had to skip the Wheel of Time (sorry WoT fans, but I assumed you knew WoT had this problem when you nominated it.) If I had tried to read the WoT I couldn’t have read anything *else*.

    Can you imagine if *five* series were nominated for best series, and–let’s give a lowball estimate here–that came to 25 books?

    You’d have to change when the nominations came out, at the very least. (Moving them off Easter Weekend might be a bonus, actually.) Also I bet it would be harder to get publishers to agree to put whole series(es?) in a Hugo Packet. I don’t want to hurt any feelings here, but the 40$ for a Supporting membership is already a chunk out of my book budget; buying 25 books (with a pretty good chance of five of them being hardbacks, since they’ll be mostly less than a year old *and* from a popular series) would blow its head off. How would I read anything to nominate for next year?

    (I love my library. It’s a small rural library. Yes ILL is a thing. No, it doesn’t work reliably here for some reason.)

    Love the idea. Can’t picture a workable way to carry it out.

  92. @Stevie:

    OK, got you. Like that famous quote about not wanting to see how laws & sausages are made: rule changes to WSFS take a lot of time & effort.

    It’s a feature not a bug that any rule change to minimise the effect of slates or bloc-voting won’t be implemented until 2017 and this is true for *any* rule change.

    So right now, I expect most of the focus is coming up with a rule change that minimises the effect of bloc-voting. The proposed rule change has to:

    1. Be clearly written enough that there’s no ambiguity in how it gets enforced, and is an obvious enough improvement that,

    2. It gathers enough support to get passed at this year’s business meeting so that,

    3. When it comes up for ratification at next year’s business meeting after enough time has passed for further consideration, it is still a good enough rule change to pass ratification,

    4. And to be implemented from the year after that onwards.

    The WSFS has been accused of being a dinosaur & slow, but there are good reasons why the process of changing rules takes place over years – to avoid knee-jerk responses & to prevent one year’s membership from making changes unpopular to future years’ memberships. Change does happen but at a sedate pace.

    So if you want to make changes to “take the Hugos into the 21st century”, you or someone like-minded will have to come up with a proposed rule(s) that can win enough support over two years of business meetings. It’s doable but not quickly.

    This is a Hugo neepery thread right?

  93. @Stevie:

    This is SF. Shouldn’t we be aiming for the 25th century, not merely the 21st? :)

    @Cat Faber:

    I would hope that any serious contender for Best Series would be prominent enough that interested voters would have at least checked it out at some time over its run. I mean, the Dresden Files have been going for how many years now? I find it implausible that many voters would see it and have no idea what it is.

    As far as how to represent a series in the voter packet, I’d suggest up to three volumes: first book and one or two author-selected later books-or-excerpts. (In the case of excerpts, I’d allow multiple excerpts from the same volume to count as “one” so spoilers could be excised.) Thus, for a 20-book series, you could have establishment, a major change point, and a crisis point that show not only the scope of the saga, but the evolution of the writing.

  94. Rev. Bob: Got a feeling publishers wouldn’t be too thrilled about the idea of including multiple books in the Hugo Voters Packet. Tor offering everyone the whole Wheel of Time last year notwithstanding, that’s a big chunk of an author’s backlist–and for an ongoing series in particular (like the Dresden Files), it could represent a serious piece of change.

  95. @Mary Frances:

    I didn’t suggest including the whole series. I suggested including up to three volumes of a series. Plus, consider how common it’s become to discount Book One as a promo for the latest volume. Adding, say, books 6 and 14 from a twenty-volume set to the packet is a much different proposition than throwing the whole series in there – not least because it can drive interest in books 2-5 and 7-13.

  96. @redheadedfemme: It just came to me. They’re not housebroken, and they’re pissing all over our nice stuff, and spreading fecal matter. Feel free to use it anywhere, everywhere, without attribution. Incontinent Canines.

    @scalzi: Correia’s come across as a whiny bully and Torgersen apparently hasn’t found a bridge he’s unwilling to burn is a succinct and perfect way of putting it. @RevBob’s example is a good one. And whoo BOY does fandom have a long institutional memory. I know stories that happened at Worldcons 15 years before I was born. With everything online and backed up and searchable, the memories are even more likely to stick around.

    John was always perfectly polite and non-insulting when Brad was commenting here. Heck, he still is! He didn’t let anybody pick on Brad*. Brad wasn’t driven out of Whatever, he left because nobody was slavishly agreeing with his opinions and kept bringing up those inconvenient things called “facts”. So he flounced off. But of course we all really seekritly agreed with him, but couldn’t speak because of the terrible shadowy SJW Cabal. Natch.

    @David Goldfarb: thanks for the summary! Sounds promising.

    *Which is annoying, because I’ve got one very very mild observation of an actual fact to make, but John would probably feel honor-bound to Mallet it, and then we’d both be sad. So I won’t.

  97. Rev. Bob: Oh, I know you didn’t say the whole series–that’s why I said “multiple volumes.” I still say it’s a lot for many publishers to commit to, especially for series that don’t hit the 15-20 volume range. Maybe ask for something like “percentage of total,” instead? However it’s done, it’s also quite possible that many publishers won’t have a problem with including multiple volumes in the voter packet, and certainly what the publishers might or might not decide is not a reason for refusing to discuss the idea of a series Hugo at all. I’m sorry if I implied that; I certainly didn’t mean to. After all, as lovely and convenient as the voter packet is, and much as I would miss it should it go away, the Hugos got along just fine for years without it, and a new Hugo category would probably do just fine with not being included, anyway.

    When it comes to a new award category, I’ve honestly got more problems with how one would define a “series” for the purpose of Hugo nominations, even “completed series”–I suspect that would be a major sticking point. I also think it’s worth discussing, even if nothing ever comes of it; series are extremely important in sff these days, and individual series novels are often overlooked (as people have pointed out, here and elsewhere). So talking about what a series is, what a really good one does well, and how a Hugo category for series might be defined is definitely worth doing, in my opinion.

  98. Hi Cat, I highly recommend Overdrive eBooks (if your library has access to a regional network with them). If I remember the stats correctly, Science Fiction and Fantasy are one of the most loaned categories. Based on my own experience that seems right, since I’ve been signed up for books where I’m 15th on a waitlist of 27 or something. It’s like a surprise when I’ve eventually gotten an email telling me I can download my ePub/Kindle version of my book.

  99. In terms of super long form nomination, how about starting with a “best trilogy” award since that seems to be a really popular way of splitting things up

  100. Speaking as an ex-editor who used to do P&Ls (although in a different area than trade) I wouldn’t have worried about number of volumes in the packet so much as lost sales versus gained sales. In a Hugo context with a popular series, I’d be wanting to estimate whether most of the readers are lost sales (are they already likely to have the books, or at the opposite end, are they unlikely to buy in the first place) versus how many new readers might go out and buy the whole series based on the sample volumes. If anything I’d expect publishers to be more enthusiastic about providing a few volumes of a long series than a single standalone work.

  101. @Mary Frances:

    It just looked, with that “big chunk of backlist” point, like you were reading my suggestion as “do what Tor did with WoT” – which I agree is and should be a rare thing. Giving away three to spark interest and potentially sell over a dozen more, though… I’m with James on that, but I readily admit I don’t have the formal P&L experience.

    @Tenar Darell:

    Another non-obvious way to get ebooks – legitimately and at no cash cost – is through Viggle’s reward store. Without getting too far into the weeds, Viggle is a “get points by watching TV” app, about 3000 points equals a buck, and you can get up to 12000 points/day. (The easy-but-tedious way to do that is to go to their partner site, Wetpaint, find a short 50-points-for-30-seconds video, and reload it a couple of hundred times for 10K points in under two hours.) It takes conscious work to max out daily, but anybody who watches TV can accumulate a few hundred points or so per day with minimal effort. Just watch for what shows are giving bonus points, maybe play a little trivia, and there you go.

    Anyway, they opened up an ebook section in their reward store earlier this year, and HarperCollins (thus, Orbit and the Discworld books) is participating. I keep hoping the rest of the Big Five will follow suit, but some smaller presses already have. The average new mass-market book runs me around 30K points after the surcharge for tax, so I can get two or three books a week for no money.

    I’m not involved with the company or anything; I just like spreading the word. I frequently bash away at Wetpaint videos on my netbook for free points while I’m reading on my Kobo. (“Oh, the screen stopped moving.” *click* “There we go.”)


    Maybe I’m not reading the right stuff, but I’m not seeing too many trilogies on the market lately. I see a lot more long series, where six is shortish and stopping around 9 or 13 books in is fashionable. (Kim Harrison, C.E. Murphy, Rachel Caine…) I do happen to be reading three trilogies that come to mind at the moment – Imperial Radch, Parasitology, Dorothy Must Die – but I’m embroiled in far more “long haul” sagas.

    I’m not saying Best Trilogy is necessarily bad, just that I’m not sure how much competition it’ll get in a given year. I could definitely get behind using “serialized work” as a way to pull stuff like the WoT stunt into a Best Concluded Series category, and I think Best Trilogy would work fine as a facet of that. There should be some way to recognize meritorious ongoing series, though, and I’m not sure how that would work. I think there’d have to be some mechanism to prevent shutouts, though – maybe a Best Continuing Series finalist would be ineligible in the category for the next X years?

  102. I wonder if winning a Best Completed Series Hugo award might encourage authors to write oooooone mooooooore book in their recently crowned series…

  103. Nick:

    “George R R Martin, Winner of the 2019, 2023, 2028, 2033, and postumously the 2038 ‘Best Completed Series’ Hugos for ‘Game of Thrones’…”

  104. Sorry, Rev. Bob–I shouldn’t have mentioned WoT in that context. Not sure why I did: I knew it wasn’t relevant and you hadn’t mentioned it at all.

    To respond to some of the other (slightly tongue-in-cheek) comments about series Hugo awards: how would nominators know that a series was complete? Because the author said “no more”? That’s–tricky, based on historical precedents. Because the series reached the climax that we started towards in the early books? That would seem to disqualify series with more than one narrative arc. And–naming no names–how many authors have started a series with the announcement “this is going to be five books” and finished with. Um. Well, maybe six. Or twelve . . .

    And yet if the Hugo is just for Best Series, rather than Completed Series, how can readers evaluated the ending? Or compare a continuing series to one with a unified narrative arc? Hm. Just thought of something–wouldn’t a parallel be something like the difference between television shows and movies? But the Hugo that television shows are eligible for this days is usually the Dramatic Performance Short Form, for single episodes. Can an entire season–or seasons–of a tv show be nominated for Long Form? (I’m thinking of something like Marvel’s Agent Carter.)

  105. @ Tenar Darell

    Oh, I lurves me some library e-books. But my library is a part of R.E.A.D.S. Which has some SFF books, but not all that many. Ancillary Sword, yes, Ancillary Justice and Goblin Emperor, no. Lock In, yes, Karen Memory no. Among Others and My Real Children, yes, The Just City, no.

    For nomination reading it’s not all that helpful because I think their acquisition of e-books runs a bit behind publication.

    But I do love them and read them fairly regularly.

    @ Rev. Bob

    I appreciate the suggestion but I don’t have a TV. Movies in general are hard cognitive work for me because I’m terrible with faces and so many movies depend on you being able to recognize the characters at sight after seeing them for a couple of minutes. (I’m not actually face *blind* but it takes me longer to learn a face than it does other people.) So anyway, I don’t watch TV much, and when I do its some series I can stream off Amazon so I can learn people’s faces over time.

  106. @Mary Frances: I think the whole previous season of GoT was nominated last year, but I don’t remember whether it was Long or Short Form. I think maybe we should try nominating Agent Carter next year and see! It sure was swell.

    The Short Form category is a bit looser, having encompassed everything from Doctor Who and GoT episodes to a Hugo acceptance speech (meta!) and the music video to “F* Me, Ray Bradbury” (also meta!). And that’s just in the past 3 years.

    I’m not sure how well Long Form would serve the TV show rewarding: would something be more or less likely to win over a movie? More hours for development vs. bigger stuff?

  107. Dear folks,

    Some of you are wondering down a fruitless path on this election business because of a clause John miswrote ––“The flaw is fixable…”

    No. It is not fixable. It is ameliorable. It is rigorously, mathematically provable that is not fixable. No voting system can be designed that guarantees success. If that’s what you’re looking for, give it up. End of story.

    What you can do is make the system more robust against this type of gaming or monkeywrenching. The plausible and reasonably understandable modifications to the voting system that have been discussed over on Making Light can raise the threshold for mischief by a factor of three (give or take). It is extremely difficult to push beyond that. To put it another way, if the SP’s were to manage to triple their numbers next year, then no plausible system you can design would prevent them from overwhelming the nominations. Your only option would be to get more non-SP voters to dilute the influence.

    Every single proposed system can be gamed. Easily, in fact. There are different ways of doing it for different voting systems, but you can’t escape the fact that it can be done. Equally importantly, in consequence, you can’t come up with a system that prevents the SP from getting *any* candidates on the slate. The best you can do is reduce the influence. With reasonable modifications to the voting system, you can limit their penetration. Instead of being able to completely overwhelm a category, the same number of SP might garner something like two out of six slots on the ballot. You’d still have four non-slate candidates and it would be pretty much certain that the slate candidates would never win.

    If this utterly chafes you because you think it’s a huge and enduring deal to just be on the ballot (I don’t), you better get used to it until the SP movement dies out, Or they get bored with gaming/monkeywrenching the system. Which could be as soon as next year… or maybe never (my guess is sooner rather than later, but it’s just a guess). Whatever the timeframe, that will be the reality until their numbers/efforts decline significantly.

    Some more harsh reality: If you are firmly opposed to block/slate voting then it is no longer legitimate nor viable to “judge each work on its merits” or give a pass to nominees who didn’t ask to be on the slate. That’s irrelevant to the power politics that are in play–– the slate is the slate. If a slated nominee wins, that is a win for the slate. Doesn’t matter if the nominee wanted to be there or not, doesn’t matter if the work deserved it or not. You are supporting the slate. The effect of slate wins will be to bolster the SP efforts. They will have proven that they can control the Hugos. RSHD’s threats to burn the Hugos to the ground if Slate candidates don’t win this year is blowhard rhetoric; a total loss this year will make it harder to recruit new SP’s. Wins will make it easier.

    That’s realpolitik. It’s all fine and dandy if you want to take the moral position that innocent victims shouldn’t be penalized and works should just be judged as works, so long as you don’t actually care about the presence or absence of a slate and one minority bloc completely dominating several categories. Some of you don’t. That’s your prerogative. But if you do care, you cannot reconcile that caring with treating the works as individuals, sans slate. It will not fly.

    pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery
    — Digital Restorations

  108. @ Alex R: “with reference to Brad and Larry’s careers, how much is attendance at conventions worth to a science fiction author in both absolute terms (honorariums and such) and in secondary terms, such as publicity or reputation?”

    My own experience is that sf/f cons offer expenses comped to speakers, not honorariums. (An honorarium is more typically paid by conferences that ask the writer to prepare formal writing workshops and speeches. I’ve been paid an honorarium by various general or romance writing conferences, where the focus was on teaching aspiring writers rather than on entertaining fandom, but never by an sf/f con.) What expenses an sf/f comps depends. Most regular program participants only get the con m’ship fee comped; some special guests get a free hotel room, too; the GoH typically gets all expenses covered (meals, transport, hotel, etc.).

    Unless you’re GoH, attending a con typically costs you more than staying home would—usually much more. For most writers, cons are a business expense, not a source of revenue. And, of course, unless you have remarkable discipline (I do not), you lose work time by being at a con.

    In terms of what con attendance is worth? Opinions vary quite a bit. My opinion is “not much,” and so I’m not a big con-goer. (Usually 1-2 per year; sometimes as “many” as 4. Almost never more than that.) I know writers who never go to cons, writers who seem to live on the con circuit, writers who think they’re a waste of time, and writers who think they’re essential. There is no universal answer (but there are many emphatic individual answers) about the value of con attendance.

    Anyhow, like John, I don’t think Puppying will prevent the Puppies from attending or being on programming at any cons. I also don’t think Puppying will prevent anyone who sells well or who is an attendee-magnet from being a con guest or a GoH. I gather there are also cons where the pro-Puppy crowd is dominant or very numerous, and Puppy ringleaders would presumably be very popular at those. Really big cons, like DragonCon or GenCon or ComiCon have room for everyone, and someone with good sales figures is always likely to be a popular guest at those.

    Quarrels in the sf/f community are not the same thing as the book market, and it’s mostly in the book market that careers thrive or fail, not in online fandom or in con-gong fandom or among one’s writing peers.

    I do think the Puppies have ensured there are cons where they will never be GoHs (not unless much time passes and their own rhetoric changes, anyhow), but those seem like the sort of cons and crowds about which the Puppies have expressed so much contempt, anyhow, they presumably don’t expect to be honored special guests there and don’t care. I think the Puppies’ actions this year have also ensured they’ll never win a Hugo—and they may already realize that, too (and it’ll just “prove their point” about the Evil SJW Cabal, etc., so it’s a victory condition for them… albeit a very ironic one, given that this all started way back with them wanting Hugo Awards).

  109. I don’t see “The Hugos are destroyed” as being used that way. Some use the phrase in a victorious or threatening way, some use it prefixed with “Those bastards” and for some, there is just this pervasive sorrow akin to a loss of innocence: that we can never go back to the time when we observed the rules as adults and didn’t have to lock down every single, tiny aspect of the process against assholes.


    Email before spammers. Remember that?

    Mind you, the Puppies would be pleased for you to think of them as deep thinking masterminds who are always one step ahead. But, you know, it doesn’t take a mastermind to exploit an aspect of a nomination system that everyone knows is there but no one else exploited because they are grown adults with enough social skills to know better. It just takes someone willing to be an asshole. Masterminds may be assholes (I’ve not met enough masterminds to say), but being an asshole is not sufficient to be a mastermind — and I have met enough assholes to feel confident about that. No one among the Puppies is a mastermind. They are merely assholes.

    Hmmm. Pondering on constructing a mastermind/puppy/asshole Venn.

  110. developing proposal(s) to blunt slates in the future.

    Slates, as the name suggests, are blunt. That’s the problem.

    What we need is a way to smash them.

  111. Does anyone know if the statistics of eventual winners’ original position in the nominations has been done?

    I wonder how many came from 5th position? I’m assuming the lower ranks would be more affected by using changed selection methods.

    This may be a new source of procrastination, as if I needed another one.

  112. I can’t give you a link from where I am now, but if you go to the “Hugo Awards by Year” page and click on a specific year, at the bottom (beneath the list of all winners) there will be a link to the “full breakdown of voting and nominations” .pdf. Click on that and it will take you to a page that sets out the rounds of voting that figured the winner for each category; at the bottom, you’ll get a list of all nominating ballots and totals. (Obviously, that information isn’t available for 2015 yet–it’s released after the Awards ceremony.) If you cross check the nominations list against the first page, the results list, you should get the information you want.

    So, for example, in 2014, Leckie’s Ancilliary Justice won the Hugo for Best Novel; it had received 368 nominations to place it on the ballot (23.1 % of the nominating ballots submitted). Grant’s Parasite finished . . . third in the voting, I think, and originally had 98 nominations (or 6.1 % of the nominating ballots submitted). That year, in other words, the most-nominated novel did eventually win the Hugo (I think); sometimes, due to the IRV method used for calculating winners (which I’m not going to try to explain; Kevin Standlee has a good explanation somewhere on the Hugo site, but I’d just mess it up), that isn’t the case.

  113. Er–I should also add, Sometimes that isn’t the case because more people vote than nominated, too . . .

  114. To paraphrase kaleberg. Any system can be gamed, only jerks do so.
    And I have a favorite example of a dumb rule that has to be there. When an Emergency vehicle, Police Car, or Fire truck with their sirens going, meet a USPS truck; the USPS truck has the right of way. They put this in because some jerks were using Emergency Vehicles to block time sensitive mail back around the Civil War. It’s not going to be changed because there are still jerks in this world.

  115. Thanks Mary. If it’s not duplication of effort I might have a go at it. It’s not a lot of data; a good job since pdfs make the baby data analyst cry.

    I think the proposed nominating methods need to be run with data from the years when, say, the fourth ranked nominee eventually won rather than when everyone’s choice cruised through at the top all the way.

  116. So….. everyone gets 1 point per category for nominating stuff?

    nominate 1 thing, its gets 1 point. Nominate 5 things, each gets 1/5th point?

    I only ask because it seems completely counterintuitive to me as a way to stop slates from becoming the one ring.

    It also seems to discourage people from nominating many works because the more you nominate, the less power your vote has. I assume people have run sims on this, but it just feels like brushing my teeth with the other hand: weird.

  117. Greg, think of it this way: say you have a slate being backed by 100 voters. Under the old system, if they have 5 works in each category (trying to lock up each category for the slate), every work they voted for gets 100 votes each. Under the proposed new system, every one of those works gets 20 votes each.

    So for the slate voters to get their original clout, they all have to vote for one choice, and one choice only (per category). That means (if 100 votes was enough to do so) they can take one slot per category, but not all five. To accomplish that, they would have to recruit 5 times as many voters.

    So it can’t prevent (as that is impossible) a slate from dominating, but it makes it much harder, as the number of slate voters has to go up by a lot to duplicate this year’s result.

  118. I know the Hugos aren’t destroyed. Bad enough that the Puppies intended to destroy them. I hold them as culpable as if they’d succeeded.


    I think the Puppies’ actions this year have also ensured they’ll never win a Hugo

    I don’t think that’s really much of a change. Teddy never would have produced a Hugo-quality work in his life, and he’s a sucky editor, too. I’ve never read anything by Torgersen or Correia (and now I never will), but from what I hear they’re just not at that level either.

    But you are correct in one respect: I, and I suspect many others, will vote these three men’s work below No Award whenever it appears on the ballot, without reading it or “giving it a chance.”

    I want them to be examples of what happens when you try this sort of thing. I want people 20 years from now to say to that generation’s whiny stompy bullies “oh, no, don’t try that. Remember what happened to the Puppies in the 20-teens!”

    No system is proof against being gamed. But we can (and IMO should) punish the hell out of the people who game it.

  119. PhilRM: yeah, I guess. It’s just feels weird.

    Xopher: I suspect many others, will vote these three men’s work below No Award

    I don’t know if there’s a more accurate but still concise way to say this, but I didn’t vote for them at all. I voted non-slate works, then no award. The end. Slate works don’t even get a number on my ballot. I read somewhere that it’s mathematically different than voting non-slate works, no award, slate works.

    Still waiting for the packet to read the non-slate stuff. But it was depressing filling out so many categories with just “no award”.

  120. Dear Alex,

    Having been on several concoms and a GOH a few times, I have some modest experience with this.

    Attendance at a convention is worth very little in objective terms. Almost no conventions give a genuine honorarium; only some give the GoH a per diem above and beyond paying all their expenses. In one case, the per diem was sufficiently large that if I chose to pocket it I could’ve called it a money-making weekend. Of course I didn’t; I spent it. Most of the time, it’s just pocket change to make your life a little easier.

    So, no particular objective rewards.

    Being a GOH, in and of itself, doesn’t improve your overall reputation; it’s more the other way around. Typically, people with good reputations get invited to be GOH’s; conversely, if you’ve demonstrated that you are an entertaining GOH, that does improve your reputation… for being invited to be GOH at other cons. That’s about the extent of it.

    Here’s the thing. Concoms pick GOH’s for their entertainment value. They serve two functions–– to provide the attendees with a more enjoyable convention and to draw in more of the kind of attendees the convention wishes to attract. Yes, we are being honored by being selected to be a GOH, but it is rare for convention to choose someone strictly because they think they should be honored. It has happened. Sometimes it works out well. Other times it turns out that particular person, as honor-worthy as they may be, isn’t actually a good GOH and the word gets spread around and they’re not likely to get many invites in the future.

    Here’s the thing, though. You can be quite the jerk and still get plenty of invites, if they don’t rub fans the wrong way, in the wrong way. Harlan Ellison has been a problem child since Day One. He may have finally worn out his welcome after the Connie Willis incident, but I’m not sure of that. Up to then, he certainly hadn’t. Because even though he can be a jerk and often is, he manages to be an entertaining GOH kind of jerk enough that many conventions are willing to take a chance on him. And many are not, but he doesn’t lack for invitations.

    It’s extremely rare for anyone to get cut out of the circuit in a noticeable way. That happened to Orson Scott Card about 25 years ago, and it wasn’t because he was an unpleasant GOH. He’s a very entertaining GOH. As the saying goes, “he gives great con.” But then he went and wrote an editorial piece in which he advocated putting well known fans like me, and Tom Digby, and Dave Nee in jail, simply for who we were, to make an example of us to others. Understand, being a homophobe was in itself not considered grounds for not having him as a GOH. It was him explicitly advocating throwing people in jail for being “different.” Fandom is the prototypical geek/nerd culture; all the kids who were ostracized for not being like the norm. You can see how that stance would be a major hot button and make him unwelcome in a lot of venues because, well, people wouldn’t have fun.

    It’s not a free speech issue, it’s not a politics issue, it’s a “do you provide a good entertainment experience” issue.

    [side note: this is not a referendum on OSC and his politics. It is a history lesson. If anyone has a problem with it, refute this account with factual historical information or build yourself a time machine and change it]

    Whether Hugo-trashing is that kind of hot button remains to be seen. Personally, I doubt it. OTOH, a concom *will* take into account whether they think the presence of a particular GOH will cause screaming matches and unpleasant food fights. Yes, you can be too fannishly-controversy will to make a good GOH, but the bar is rather high.

    pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery
    — Digital Restorations

  121. Greg, the only difference that makes is IF the legitimate nominees are eliminated (which Ghu forbid), and IF you have a preference (as in “this one’s trash, but that one’s a crime against humanity”) among the Puppy noms, your preferences will be considered if you number them.

    For most of them, I don’t care. But I will put a number next to Skin Game, albeit one after No Award, because I read it and liked it before this Puppy nonsense even surfaced.

  122. The Hugos and WorldCon will be fine and the puppies will not be punished or banned or have problems at conventions unless they decide to attack people there. Book editors are used to working with assholes, and all the retribution the puppies claimed was being practiced on them didn’t exist and won’t exist further. The convention runners had a hard enough time dealing with the existence of harassment at conventions and the need to have a policy and enforce it. You think they care that these guys tried to game the Hugos?

    Nor will their Hugo nominations have an asterix beside their names in the long term. They will simply be Hugo nominees to the majority who even know that the Hugo exists. To a degree, they got what they wanted. But they also created the exact opposite of what they said they wanted, some of the time, in the SFF field.

    In another site, talking about the puppies, a bunch of folk claimed that they didn’t care if the protagonist was gay or black or male or whatever, it was all equal to them. At the same time, one guy pointed out that one year, three out of four nominees of a short fiction category were about gay people and wasn’t that strange (suspicious). And I pointed out that if we all really didn’t care and felt protagonists of all kinds were equal, then having three gay nominees would be no different or stranger than having four straight protagonist stories. All women writers nominated for an award would be no different than all men writers nominated for it.

    But instead, society sees the work of SWM’s as the baseline normal and routinely meritorius and/or fun as superior, while marginalized groups are the inferior suspicious outsiders whose work is only rarely genuinely meritorious and/or fun. When there are tons of SWM’s getting awards and nominations, we see it as normal. When slightly more marginalized folk get nominations and awards, that obviously has to be rigged and artificial. The disproportionate presence of SWM’s in the Hugos is excused as somehow natural and logical (because we are biased that SWM’s work is naturally and logically superior most of the time.)

    These beliefs are not limited to the puppies — they are the society we grew up with as a whole. Beliefs we follow and support, often unthinkingly because it’s what we’re used to, even as it is used to create repressive laws and practices. Changing SIB takes a lot of protest and talking, in the face of derision and threats. The social change achieved becomes the new normal, but most of the SIB bias remains. That’s why Torgersen can be married to a black woman — which he could only legally do because of SJW’s “agendas” and activities in the fifties and sixties — while still trying to push as normal that being gay is somehow an insult.

    That systemic institutionalized bigotry (SIB) and the biases that they create causes things in publishing like the white-washing of covers, reviewers favoring works by men and the skewed view of the field of the Hugo nominations. People have been complaining about this for years and trying to get overlooked authors noticed for award consideration. And it’s that calling out of SIB bias in the whole industry that the puppies decided to frame as a cabal, because they believe that with rare exceptions marginalized groups can’t succeed on their own and that claims of bias are fake.

    By teaming up with a white supremacist, setting attack dogs on authors, and frantically coming up with grand conspiracies to excuse their expressed biases and attacks, the puppies forced a lot of other people to confront the very real SIB in the Hugos and other awards, the ones that they usually try to excuse, and in themselves. And what this means is that people and publishing folk are talking about a lot of writers, artists and media they might have otherwise overlooked.

    It’s not a fast change. Look at the nominees for the Campbell Memorial Award, for instance, including OGH — it’s disproportionately white males on the list. But it is a growing awareness that creates change, and that makes people far more likely now to believe marginalized authors and fans who talk about experiences with bias and discrimination in the industry. It makes them slightly less likely to view marginalized authors as those who can only rarely produce interesting work and more likely to check them out.

    By throwing their temper tantrum, the puppies exposed not a flaw in the Hugo nomination system, but real prejudice in the industry that we have to decide whether to support or not, and a clearer view of how wide and interesting the field can actually be. There was a social justice warrior cabal in the end — and it was the puppies. By saying that marginalized authors and characters should be ignored, attacked and are threatening, the puppies encouraged people to try out marginalization, just as they would SWM material. And in turn, again, that’s going to widen the market for everybody, including SWM authors.

  123. Piggy backing on Eric Flints thoughts on how the field has grown so large, I wonder if any of the following is worthwhile.

    – Establishing a category for series that is separate from standalone stories. As an example, I would see our esteemed host’s OMW as qualifying as a standalone as it is a complete story arc. OTOH, an example of a first book that is clearly part of a series that would be appropriate for inclusion at the conclusion of the series would be Peter V. Brett’s “The Warded Man”. [which is a fantastic series, BTW]

    – Establishing a category for self published/independent authors. As observed elsewhere, the top sellers at Amazon in SFF include a high percentage of independent authors. Yet because (in part) they do not enjoy the benefits of the media/promotion services of larger publishers, they seem not to be well represented in the awards. [Hugh Howey’s “Wool” being an excellent example…although it is also a series. Erg]

    – Mr. Flint observed that the length definitions established decades ago do not reflect what authors are currently producing. Perhaps those need to be tweaked?


    morph alert – Same “Dann” different wrapper

  124. @Kat

    Your post made me think of Charlie Stross’ Rule 34. Charlie specifically stated that it was his exasperation with the straight default and the occasional token non-straight that made him decide to make all protagonists non-straight.

    And every time I see someone rant that orientation/race/gender should not matter, but the story should, I ask myself “Then why are you ranting apropos characters that are not the default?” Because as sure as rain is wet, nobody in the mainstream ever makes a big deal out of SWM characters, even if their orientation is completely incidental to the story.

    As for me, if orientation makes no difference to the plot, I would just as soon like to see a non-default protagonist than a default one. When Charlie posted his thoughts on why he made Rule 34 like he did I went to myself: “Huh. I’d noticed that, but I liked it and shrugged.” I’m still not quite sure how to classify my reaction, but at least it wasn’t ranting “That was an unnecessary political choice”; I think that ought to count for something.

  125. @Mart

    Two examples from my reading in the last 6 months.

    Book A includes a gay male character. It adds nothing to the plot and sticks out like a sore thumb, IMHO.

    Book B includes several gay characters. Their sexuality informs their relationships with the other characters.

    I didn’t enjoy Book A for other reasons. The above is just a nit to be picked.

    I thoroughly enjoyed Book B for other reasons, but the depth of the gay characters is also a reason for the reason why it was so enjoyable. [add in other descriptors like “outstanding”, “award worthy”, etc.]

    What I find interesting is that Book A’s treatment is the sort of checkbox writing that I just don’t enjoy and criticize as checkbox characterization. It seems (to me) that the author included a gay character just to say that the book included a gay character. Sexuality didn’t inform any of the character’s actions nor did it inform their relationships with other characters that might inform those characters’ actions.

    IMHO, it was the most dismissive treatment of including non-hetero sexual characters possible. “Here’s a gay character. He’s gay. That’s all you’ll get to know about him.” Classic checkbox inclusion.

    OTOH, Book B presented a more fully developed world view. That work more is just as broad in scope in world development as Book A, but the quality of that world development is obviously a step above.

    Book A was written by a woman of unknown (to me) sexuality. Book B was written by a SWM. I don’t know the political preferences of either and I still don’t want to know.

    Just tell a good story.


  126. KatG:
    There was a social justice warrior cabal in the end — and it was the puppies.



    You’re right. They’re warring for a particular kind of society. The very definition of the words.

    BTW, a few years ago (Reno 2011), 4 of the 5 nominees for Best Novel were women. Nobody ranted about how there was an Evil Cabal making it that way. Anyone who noticed just thought, “Hey, there’s an amusing statistical variation. Huh.”

  127. @dann665

    I see value even when gay characters add nothing to the plot (it’s just incidentally who they are), because they add to a portrayal of a world where gay people exist.

    Put another way, do Straight White Male characters who add nothing to the plot also stick out like sore thumbs to you?

  128. I am 3 days late and I doubt you will see it, but I just have to say to Alexandra Erin that:

    “The “no masterminds” part is so true. Sooner or later, most of us realize how much society depends on good-faith assumptions that no one can actually hold us to abiding, but only some of us will mistake the ability to fart in an elevator for a superpower.”

    is an absolutely beautiful statement of the situation, and so many others. I will have to remember the line “only some of us will mistake the ability to fart in an elevator for a superpower” as it is so applicable to so many people in the world.

    Thank you!!

  129. Soon Lee and Dann: I think the problem being introduced is that the default assumption is still SWM. If I don’t need to know anything about a minor character’s orientation, do I feel offended if the author points it out? Personally, no. But some people react to “extraneous detail” as “part of creating a realistically complete, even if minor, character in a believable world” and some people react to it as “unnecessary information (whatever the minor detail is–could be a hatred of broccoli); takes me out of the plot.” And more people fall somewhere in between, I suppose. (And, of course, there are readers who genuinely don’t WANT to read about characters who don’t suit their default-world-view . . . but I’m not talking about them.)

    For me, personally, it seems to depend on how well written the minor character is. If he/she feels like a real person, a complete character, then I won’t necessarily assume I know his/her sexual orientation–and whether or not the writer happens to mention it (straight or gay) is incidental to my enjoyment of the narrative. I admit, it is still awfully easy to be tripped up by my own automatic assumptions–but I’ve come to the conclusion that that’s my problem, not due to poor writing. (Or not necessarily due to poor writing, at least.) If that makes sense?

  130. xopher: Thanks. I was wondering what to do about a novelette on the Puppy slates that was actually a fun read, if not Hugo-worthy. I’ll be listing it after No Award and leaving the un-fun reads off my ballot entirely.

  131. @ The various literary publisher / agents either in the thread or lurking – a counter-point to the idea or notion that SWM are there due to societal prejudice rather than talent:

    Just had a weekend of light reading, where I was able to catch up with new things (selection of 2015 new works) and old books I’d missed (e.g. World War Z, which was pleasantly tight, if slight in nature); in honor of our host, I even re-tried Redshirts, and still found the central conceit lacking and the entire thing maddeningly faux-ironic / hipster to my tastes. (Perhaps I hate L.A. too much).

    However, I did find The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis (2015, Orbit UK, unsure of an American print – here’s to hoping people are smart enough to launch it for the 2016 Hugos), which is a perfect fit for the Hugos. It even has (without even a fanfare) a gender neutral background society that it quietly slips under the radar while you’re worrying about the questions of free will.

    Why the mention?

    Because it hands down beats most of the Hugo SWM authors, and if we’re not being silly about all of this, at some point a little bit of elitism has to enter the debate.
    i.e. good writing should matter.

    @Any puppies still around – might want to take a read and realize that supporting a notion is all fine and good, but supporting better books is a precursor to sitting the ‘big dog‘ table.

    Busy old fool, unruly sun,
    Why dost thou thus,
    Through windows, and through curtains call on us?
    Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run?
    Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
    Late school boys and sour prentices,
    Go tell court huntsmen that the king will ride,
    Call country ants to harvest offices,
    Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
    Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.


  132. I think some of what is going on with the puppies is: Privileged distress…. As the culture evolves, people who benefitted from the old ways invariably see themselves as victims of change. The world used to fit them like a glove, but it no longer does. Increasingly, they find themselves in unfamiliar situations that feel unfair or even unsafe. Their concerns used to take center stage, but now they must compete with the formerly invisible concerns of others.

    Above taken from

    I really like the term privilege distressed. I think it captures what’s behind movements like the MRA, GGers, and the puppies. I’ve found it a useful phrase to use in conversations with my husband when I notice he’s gotten defensive during a conversation “are you feeling privilege distress?”. It helps him take a moment to stop and think instead of reacting emotionally.

  133. Dann, have you read some of Seanan McGuire’s Mira Grant novellas (“Countdown” specifically, but “Rolling in the Deep” does this as well) or even OGH’s short story, “Election”?

    Those stories come to mind as stories that have same-sex couples which could easily be opposite-sex couples. The relationships are defined more by interpersonal interactions (what are these two people like as a romantic couple) than the fact that both parties are male. (I do think that Seanan’s choice in “Countdown” adds some interesting worldbuilding elements, which I could ramble on about, but “Rolling in the Deep” feels more like ‘yes, if I put enough of a modern Earth cast together, some will be gay and people talk about their romantic partners sometimes’. It worked for me because those are a true statement.)

  134. @dann

    Thank you for proving the point. Charlie specifically made all his protagonists non-straight regardless of the relevance to the plot (and even in the most extreme case, it was only slightly relevant) because he was tired of the straight default and the erasure of non-straight people qua people, instead of mere plot devices.

    Given your description, Rule 34 could have easily been your ‘book A’.

    I happen to agree with Charlie. I found it a neat bit of world-building that acknowledged that non-straight people have a reason to exist as people, and not just to further the plot.

  135. Mart: Rule 34 does have some straight characters, but the protagonist is gay. The book is very prescient about some near future stuff (more wildly optimistic about others.) It’s also, as you know, a crackling police procedural mystery thriller. If the protagonist cop had been straight, the story would have been only slightly different.

    Which is of course, as you noted Mart, the point. Dann is still operating on the SIB bias that straight characters are normal, superior, unexceptional, insiders, the default. When a gay character has a major role, instead, that gay character is the Outsider, alien, unusual, unequal. The gay character’s existence and sexual orientation have to be justified to be in the book. There has to be a plot reason to include a gay character and the sexual orientation has to be essential to how the character operates in the story with other characters or the character “sticks out” like a sore thumb. Because gay characters stick out as outsiders instead of just being a human being and a normal part of society like a straight person.

    Straight characters are under no such requirements. Straight characters simply exist in stories, their sexual orientation does not have to be tied into and justified by the plot, nor does there have to be a discussion of their orientation to inform their relationships with other characters. Straight characters never stick out in their inclusion like a sore thumb because they are supposedly the “normal” thumb. They’re supposed to be there and we’re supposed to be automatically interested in them. Whereas gay people aren’t supposed to be there and we aren’t supposed to be automatically interested in them. Instead, authors are expected to come up with justifications for including them and imposing these strange aliens on readers.

    You can have straight characters any time you want. But gay characters have to be there because the story requires it and it serves the story. Straight characters are just people. Gay people are plot devices, weird accessories that are the exception, the other. That’s the bias that creates marginalization.

    Because that checkbox characterization? There aren’t any checkboxes on that list for straight, white males. Women make up more than 50% of the population and 70% of the fiction reading market in the English language. And yet there’s a checkbox for them on that list. They “stick out” and female characters have to satisfy hurdles that male characters don’t.

    Charlie, a straight white man writing about a gay woman, is also going to get more attention and media coverage for that than a gay woman writing about a gay woman. Ben Aaronovich gets more attention and media coverage for being a white guy writing about a black man, than a black author writing about a black man is usually going to get. And it’s great that these guys are doing what they are doing even so, but the SIB biases are layered and create real problems in the industry. SWM authors are considered automatically more interesting and superior. SWM characters are too.

    What SJWs are trying to do is get people to see their social biases — that they feel a gay character “sticks out” — and get past them to encounter a wider range of fiction and authors. Thirty years ago, most SFF novels with gay protagonists wouldn’t even show up in the SFF section. They’d show up in a ghettoed “gay fiction” section of the bookstores. Having a gay fiction section in the first place so that gay authors had a publishing opportunity, and then not having authors restricted to it because a gay author or character is no different nor less normal than a straight one — that’s been because of the efforts of SJWs these last decades, with their “militant” critiques and demands for equality in the industry and in life. So then Dann actually can now hear about and easily access stories with gay characters. Eventually, Dann may read novels with gay characters, even protagonists, and not see it as requiring a set of justifications that straight characters don’t have to fill. But first, we have to get people noticing them there at all, past the bias hurdles in the industry that cause people to miss them.

    Lurkertype: Yes, there’s that aspect of cabalism. But what I meant was that the Sad Puppies’ attempts and arguments actually helped the SJWs’ goals, rather than hurt them. That their efforts did the exact opposite of what the puppies said they wanted, not by actually causing a SJW cabal running slates, but by reflecting a virulent version of SIB biases and making people thus confront their own and get more interested in marginalized works, not less.

    Which is actually good for the puppies’ sales prospects because again it improves and grows the overall market and brings in more readers. The puppies’ primary goals were essentially to limit the market and shoot themselves in the foot. But by showing how limiting that thinking is, and getting media coverage of it, they’ve helped open up the market a little and chip away at the biases.

    Which they weren’t technically against. Their argument is sometimes, when pressed, that they’re not against the marginalized but those militant social justice types who dare to criticize attitudes they embrace and they swear are trying to wipe them out, rather than just the prejudicial views they hold. The SJWs are just doing it wrong, and so must be destroyed. Or something. It gives them a back door when the social change they feel is so threatening becomes more accepted.

  136. Kat: trying to avoid giving spoilers: but I don’t think there is a single protagonist and if I had to pick one, I am not sure that person could be gay (or straight.)

  137. There has to be a plot reason to include a gay character and the sexual orientation has to be essential to how the character operates in the story with other characters or the character “sticks out” like a sore thumb.


    Whereas I understand where all of this identity politics is coming from (and the importance of it, yikes you fuckers are so fucked up, and by this I mean your species in general, although it’s probably also to do with localized puritan tendencies), and also understand the threads of ‘trope subversion‘ where suddenly it’s supposed to be genre breaking when the beefy barbarian and coughing mage get the man-hots for each other while suffering under the yoke of societal expectations of their world, this is a fairly crass reading of SF/F.

    Three points:

    1) If a narrative structure doesn’t mention the sexuality of a protagonist, then it lies within the imagination of the reader to determine it. This goes even for cases where it is mentioned, and then the readers get all confused. e.g. that whole casting issue with Rue, Thresh, Cinna in The Hunger Games

    Lesson: the problem often isn’t in the writing, it’s in the audience

    2) Some readers (and by this, I mean myself), are mature enough to understand that sexuality is more than body parts, sweat and swarthy barbarians. Ahem. Sorry, got lost there a little. If you are unable, as a reader, to frame protagonists within an imaginary culture and then analyze their behavior within said culture then you’re not actually reading, you should be looking for pornography. e.g. McCaffery had gay/lesbian dragon riders (way back in the ’60s, and yes, they got the shitty dragons, but hey, at least they got dragons unlike most of the planet), Iain M Banks had gender bending as a default Culture Genetic Trait, Heinlein had troopers who didn’t think of each other in sexual terms.

    Lesson: If you can’t ditch your cultural baggage when you’re partaking in another human’s imagination, then you need to learn a little empathy.

    3) This reading is almost entirely American-centric. I could probably make a decent essay out of “characters in novels you never spotted were actually not-straight” and then go work for Buzzfodder. Example: Adam Roberts, New Model Army: yep, main character is gay, it’s quite clear, and it’s about war. There are many others. Some are more nuanced than others, but it’s rarely the central premise to the books. That’s because the writers can write non-straight characters without hitting you over the head with the klaxon. (Which is where at least some Sad Puppies are coming from. And no, I’m not a puppy already).

    Lesson: edumacate your peeples and this won’t be an issue.


    Anyhow. You’ve no idea how confused I was when I found out that Elric of Melniboné wasn’t gay or bisexual. Major WTF moment of my teens.



  138. Angharad: I was under the impression from his blog that he had a wife and so was straight. However, I could be entirely wrong about that, and having a wife doesn’t mean that you aren’t bi-sexual or elsewhere on the spectrum, so if I misconstrued, my apologies. The main point regarding attention issues, though, still stands.

    Private Iron: The protagonist in Rule 34 is Inspector Kavanaugh, who is a lesbian. It’s a police procedural thriller. In those, the protagonist is the police detective on the case, dealing with the mystery, but such thrillers will also often take the point of view of other characters who are the villains or otherwise involved in the case.

    I have not read Halting State yet, which is loosely the prequel to Rule 34, set earlier in the timeline, so I don’t know what he did there.

  139. @Kat – yes, he’s married. Anything else is really no-one’s business but his/her and their families.

    I do think you need to start seriously putting some distance between author and written word here.

    Since the hint didn’t take, I’ll make it clear: you’re conflating the two, and it’s not pretty, and it doesn’t help anyone. If anything, it damages the causes for which we fight.

  140. Kat: we’ll have to agree to disagree there. For one thing, I don’t think it is clear that Rule 34 is a police procedural full stop and thus you can simply apply a genre formula to interpret it. For starters, you might ask yourself what’s the deal with the second person. You might also wonder if a book like this requires a protagonist in the classic sense. It is quite likely that if there is a main protagonist, that person is barely even mentioned in the book. I encourage everyone to read it though and judge for themselves. It is Stross’ best after Glasshouse.

  141. Cthulhu:

    Since the past declaration didn’t take, I’ll make it clear one last time. You called me a cunt, and we don’t talk any more. I have no interest in anything you say, and I will not be reading your posts. This is the last response you will be getting from me. So you can stop @Kat-ing at me or you can continue being an asshole. I really don’t care.

    Private Iron:

    Yes, the novel is written in second person but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a protagonist. (For another very good second person novel, see Stewart O’Nan’s historical A Prayer for the Dying.) And Rule 34 is a police procedural in which the police stumble over a complex criminal operation with murders which they are trying to solve. That’s the definition of a police procedural thriller. Again, it’s not unusual in a police procedural thriller to also use the point of view of criminals and other characters, and a police procedural doesn’t have to adhere to a strict form other than involving police trying to solve a case. The center of the novel is Kavanaugh stumbling into the case and attempting to solve what ends up being a very personal case for her. The broader conspiracy behind the case remains shadowy, but the story is not about those people but the effects of some of their operations and what that says about society.

    But we can disagree about it. I agree it’s a very good book. And Stross has a great eye for how things might play out in the near future. And the characters are in terms of orientation and gender all along the spectrum.

    Of course, it is therefore the sort of book that the puppies believe got its accolades via their imaginary SJW cabal the last few-to-fifteen years, rather than merit of people liking it and thinking it’s good and a fun read. Stross is very liberal and therefore to them apparently evil. Oddly enough, Stross got called an Internet puppy by author Christopher Priest when Rule 34 was nominated for the Clarke Award, and Stross was so pleased that he had t-shirts made up with it. It’s really unfair they took on the word puppies. We all like puppies. :)

  142. @Kat

    Charlie has himself pointed out that only the main antagonist is straight. All other viewpoint characters are non-straight, from out-of-the-closet lesbian to closeted bisexuals.

    And he is very vocal about people assuming he’s straight. He is bisexual. The fact that he is married to a woman does not change his orientation.

  143. You called me a cunt, and we don’t talk any more

    Given that the only times I use this word are in a horrible self-parodying affectation towards the whole sociological / etymological horror-show attached to the word (and the re-appropriation in certain Australian / UK cultures of men using it exclusively towards other men in various forms from the friendly to the deadly insult), this surprises me. (I also, in working memory, have only typed it twice in the last year – and not here, and certainly not to an identity that is deliberately connected to the real world. My memory isn’t perfect though).

    If I did, I’m indeed an asshole – but there was no malice attached, nor do I consider you in that way. I will, of course, stop the attempts at communication; I had no idea this was going on.

  144. @Kat,

    Aside from my minor quibbles, I do agree with your earlier lenghty post. I like seeing non-straight characters where the orientation is not a gimmick, not a plot device, but just what they are.

    I’m rather straight myself, but I have plenty of non-straight folks in my immediate circle. They’re just people like me, people I like and love. I like to see their equivalents in fiction, not as mere plot devices, but as real people. Their existence shouldn’t need justification.

  145. David, that did not get the Mallet? Now that’s tolerance, for better or worse.

    Kat, that’s awful and you should not have to deal with that crap. If it is any comfort, I suspect Cthulhu does creepier things in other places. (Now that’s a sentence that’s been waiting a long time to be written.)

    I have reading Stross’ blog for almost a decade and it was only recently I saw him mention his orientation in a small comment to one of his posts. I did a reality check on Google and could not find anything mentioning this in the past. So I think he’s been pretty low key. Certainly not the public’s business, but I think you can be forgiven for not being aware.



    Charlie calls them all “main protagonists.” I have two different readings of the book: one with a Scheherazade of sorts whose telling a story with Kavanaugh or all 3 as protagonists and one where Charlie is telling the story of The Protagonist and the 3 are just some of the pawns of the protagonist. Kat’s reading is perfectly valid as well; I only object to her saying it is the only correct reading. To put it in context, I think Charlie is playing with how genre conventions are read, just like Wolfe did in The New Sun. Some very astute critics bit hard on the cliche bait and wrote Shadow of the Torturer off as a grisly version of the Assistant Pig Keeper story, but part of its Gene-ness is that New Sun can in fact be read as an Assistant Pig Keeper story.

  146. Kat: You called me a cunt

    Cthulu: If I did, I’m indeed an asshole

    Wil Wheaton: don’t be a dick

    Just covering all the bases….

    As for making a character gay being a “distraction” or not. Meh. Rowling could have brought up that Dumbledore was gay in one of the books and it wouldn’t have bothered me. It had no impact on the plot but then physical descriptions of a character almost never makes a difference in the plot. A lot of information is introduced in fiction that is NOT some form of Chekov’s Gun, and you never see it again and it has no effect on the plot. But it develops the character in your mind so you develop this (hopefully) multi-dimensional person in your head and they’re the actor running around doing the things that you’re reading about.

    I do find it interesting that the moment a book introduces a new character, I’ve already imagined someone in their spot. This image could be based on nothing at all, or a word or two in the text, maybe something they say, the way they say it, how they stand, and blam, I have an actor on my mind’s stage. And then sometime later, the book might spend several paragraphs talking about the person’s face, hair, body type, and so on, and I find it quite hard to change the actor in my mind to fit.

    But I’m not resisting out of bigotry or something. It’s more like I’ve already imagined Jonny Lee Miller as the investigator because you mentioned an english accent. So the half dozen paragraphs about his nose being a certain way and his eyes being a certain color are speed bumps for my reading. If the shape of his nose matters and I got it wrong, thats on me. But it never matters, and yet, I’ll read books where there are crazy details about the character’s sloping brow and jesus help me I don’t care and it doesn’t matter and I’ve already got a tenuous hold on Jonny Lee Miller as the investigator so cut it out.

    Orientation isn’t a problem though. I just need something to hold onto to keep the name-face-character connection in my head. He’s gay? Sure. Fine. whatever. But if there are some obvious markers of physical presence, I think its the writer’s duty to get the important ones in there up front. race, gender, height, build. Just enough so I can recall an actor from memory to play the part in my mind.

  147. Mart:

    Charlie has himself pointed out that only the main antagonist is straight. All other viewpoint characters are non-straight, from out-of-the-closet lesbian to closeted bisexuals.

    Characters and viewpoint characters are not exactly the same thing. I said some of the characters in the novel are straight and some of them are straight, including one of the viewpoint characters. A lot of the other characters, including the character who some regard as the protagonist (but others like Private Iron do not,) are not straight. Which is peachy.

    And he is very vocal about people assuming he’s straight. He is bisexual. The fact that he is married to a woman does not change his orientation.

    As I said, I apparently misrepresented because I don’t read his blog regularly but did know he was married to a woman. As I also said, that was a faulty assumption — I’m as likely to have unthinking bias in my speech as anyone else. Which is why I apologized for doing it. I have very close relatives who are bi-sexual, and I am perfectly well aware that the orientation doesn’t change, no matter who they chose to be with in their life. I appreciate that you and angharad corrected me on his orientation and called me on the assumption that I made. I will try to not do that kind of thing in the future, because of this conversation.

    The point I was making in reference to my faulty and stupid assumption about Stross, however, does exist in the industry. It is terrific when people on the up axis write about those on down ones, but they also tend to get more support and attention for doing so than authors on the down axis. That’s something that people are also trying to shift in the industry. Which is why you calling me out on my assumption about Stross is again a good thing.

    I like seeing non-straight characters where the orientation is not a gimmick, not a plot device, but just what they are.

    The difficulty is that a lot of people coming to the fiction first assume that having a protagonist or main characters as gay or bi-sexual, etc., is a gimmick or statement, and that the author has to prove in the story to that particular reader that the inclusion is not a gimmick, but instead an interest and/or facet. And that is partly because we acknowledge in our society that gay people are marginalized, and that inclusion in a story reduces and sometimes reveals marginalization, and that many people are trying to reduce that marginalization in the real world.

    So the notion that a gay protagonist is a “gimmick” reflects the unease people have because they know that gay people and those on the spectrum are marginalized, their stories seldom explored or acknowledged, and the story with them in it shows that it doesn’t have to be that way.

    We seldom get to hear “I’m okay with a straight protagonist if the character is well written.” Or a male protagonist or a white protagonist. When we stop hearing that line about gay, women, non-whites, etc. in the Western, English language market, we’ll know we’re getting somewhere. (It will also help if fans stop assuming authors married to a member of the opposite gender are automatically straight without thinking about it for a second. :) )

  148. Greg

    I think it did have an impact on the plot; Dumbledore would have behaved differently had he not been in love, or infatuated.

    Equally, the author is not required to do an info dump on the characters; readers are not required to work things out for themselves but on the whole I prefer reading stuff which does make me work a little, or a lot, depending on my mood.

    One of the reasons I enjoy reading CJ Cherryh’s work so much is that it is so multilayered; I’d like to see Eric Flint’s suggestion of Hugos for series implemented because the ‘Foreigner’ series really does deserve a Hugo. I would argue that standalone novels will become rarer because the market preferences have changed, which makes it even more important to take the opportunity for the awards to reflect that.

    I appear to be in danger of writing about John’s original post so I’d better stop…

  149. Kat: The gay character’s existence and sexual orientation have to be justified to be in the book. There has to be a plot reason to include a gay character and the sexual orientation has to be essential to how the character operates in the story with other characters or the character “sticks out” like a sore thumb. Because gay characters stick out as outsiders

    That’s a pretty broad brush you have there. Not sure who you’re trying to paint with it.

    Stevie: I think it did have an impact on the plot; Dumbledore would have behaved differently had he not been in love, or infatuated.

    Maybe he behaved differently in the books. (I tried reading them, couldn’t do it.) I’ve only seen the movies and from there, Dumbledore’s orientation doesn’t seem to have any impact at all. He occurs as an asexual being.

    I don’t know what Minerva McGonagall’s orientation is, but its never come up that I noticed (in the movies at least). It wouldn’t matter what her orientation is because it never shows up in the story (movies at least).

    I was just noting that for me, physical cues are usually things that I make up the moment a new character hits the page, and they quickly get fleshed out with details as I watch them behave and speak. And in that situation, when the writer later tells me details about the person’s shape and setting of their eyes, it annoys when it conflicts with my already-imagined character. I’ll use actors to stand in for characters so I can keep the names/faces straight in my mind. It’s a crutch I use.

    But telling me they’re gay/straight/whatever usually doesn’t affect me the same way because its doesn’t affect the name/face connection. Character personality/background/whatever for whatever reason, gets held in a different bin in my mind.

    I don’t see gay characters as “affirmative action”. Gay? Duly noted and moving on. But spend more than two words on the shape of a person’s nose, and gorram it, you’ve pissed me off. I already imagined what it looks like and unless it really matters, you’re making it hard for me to hold onto this character’s face/name.

  150. Clearly not

    And the quotation, to honor my sins:

    I’m not sure Americans can handle the term “Sanctimonious Cunt”

    Yes, and they cannot, for the reasons noted above (and I’m well aware of the cultural differences in the word’s usage). I was sure I hadn’t directly called someone of caliber this word, and I’m happy to note I didn’t:

    It’s self-referential self-parody (and has much to do with the UK political scene ~ Google it, you’ll find that most of the direct references are to UK politicians and dramas such as “Skins“). If you missed the hyperbole of the preceding comment, it ended with a hypothetical discussion where China Miéville described Kat Goodwin as Dolores Umbridge. Anyone who would believe that C.M. would either agree with the contents of the rant or stoop to using tired pop-culture references needs to go stand in the corner with the puppies.

    I was sure that this little foray into surreal ridiculousness wouldn’t be taken seriously: it was more a meta-joke about the stance taken and the (unfortunate) fact that during the exchange neither side had mentioned that most important part of literature: how it made us feel.

    Ironically, it turns out that American’s really cannot handle the term: I apologize, but it was never actually directed towards anyone, it was at the Cthulhu persona.

    Cunt, slut, whore, bitch, etc. are made-up gendered slurs meant to intimidate, humiliate and control by claiming a woman is simply her genitalia and ability to be used for sex, that her genitalia is shameful, and by threatening that she’ll be hurt if she steps out of “her place.” It gives the speaker a buzz at saying that another person is not a human being. Which says a lot more about you than it does about me.

    Yes, which was entirely the point. I’m very much aware of that.

    Do better from here on out, starting with being more polite to other commenters.

    And yes, I’d hoped I had. *shrug*


  151. Kat, that’s awful and you should not have to deal with that crap. If it is any comfort, I suspect Cthulhu does creepier things in other places. (Now that’s a sentence that’s been waiting a long time to be written.

    It depends if you read everything literally or if you’re playing on many meta-levels at once. I’ll freely admit to being an ass(hole) when the translation fails, but the malicious intent is never there: chalk it down to a meta-level translation error – I assumed that I wasn’t being taken literally (at face value) when that was indeed the case.

    Then again, I’m fairly immune to insults, since I really have played in much more vicious pools than this. Have faith in your host – a single word and I vanish, forever. (No, really, it’s called respect and he has a large bag of salt).


  152. Cthulhu:

    You don’t need to disappear, but I’d be fine with you cutting that particular word out of your vocabulary here.

  153. You don’t need to disappear, but I’d be fine with you cutting that particular word out of your vocabulary here.

    It’s already happened. Three times in a year, it’s not a word I use frequently.

    @ peanut gallery – there’s a reason this man is where he is. Quality Street levels of goodness. (And we’re only here to make sure you don’t take the red devil pastiche seriously).

    If I could take back the offense, I would, but then again, it had a point.

  154. Cthulhu: If I could take back the offense, I would, but then again, it had a point.
    The point being….what exactly? To defend a famous book from a relatively common analysis?

  155. The point being….what exactly? To defend a famous book from a relatively common analysis?

    Sigh. Let’s split this down:

    It’s an incorrect analysis, both temporally, socially and factually if we’re discussing the works of Anne McCaffery. Yes, I understand the points made, but it’s a childish reading – much like reading Homer, Virgil or Dante and pretending they’re modern voices.


    The offense mentioned was the actual emotional hurt / anger / distress caused to another human being. It wasn’t the intent, but I fully understand (and will pay the price) for how it played out.

    Dead writers don’t get hurt: living people do.


  156. Guys, this conversation doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere fruitful.

    Everyone has to have a couple of minutes of hate now and again.

    Let it run, see where it goes: beautiful things emerge sometimes from drama:

  157. Beau Travail, French for “good work” is a 1999 French movie directed by Claire Denis that is loosely based on Herman Melville‘s 1888 novella Billy Budd. The movie is set in Djibouti, where the protagonists are soldiers in the French Foreign Legion. Parts of the soundtrack of the movie are from Benjamin Britten’s opera based on the novella.

    Oh boy, you’re not even children in this game. Welcome to the new world.

    Smarter, Faster, Harder

    Rawwr. Don’t fuck with our kind, bastards.

  158. Please do not engage on my behalf with people who seek to justify attacks at me personally, anyone. It’s not worth your time. There are people whose posts I have chosen no longer to read and not to respond to further on this forum, like Greg for the last several years and Cthulhu. That they choose to keep trying to engage with me when I’ve told them I’m not engaging with them is their problem.

    There are other people who I choose to sometimes read and respond to, if I think there’s a point to it, and otherwise ignore. And there are other people who I choose to chat with here, whose views don’t necessarily always align with mine. We all make those decisions, with Scalzi deciding what he allows on his blog at all.

    Which is also why the Hugos are not and cannot be destroyed by something like the Sad Puppies attacking other authors and editors personally and seeking to justify it. Because in the end, most people are going to ignore the puppies, despite the fact that they brought in other factions who could threaten their targets’ lives. Fandom is not a war of factions or tribes, real discrimination in the industry is an issue that will continue to be confronted by many, and people will decide whether to sign on for voting at the Hugos and Campbells and actually voting the awards on their own.

    The Hugos are more likely to die from disinterest, but as the Sad Puppies have pointed out, they have spurred interest — from the very people they say are trying to destroy them.

  159. Wow. Drama.

    Anyways, Hugos not destroyed, but banged up for this year and maybe next year too. Been pondering the “1 point per category for nominating”. It’s not perfect, but it means someone like VD would have to whip up 5 times as many people as he did this year if he wanted to control all 5 slots in a category. I think that should be enough to keep him from dominating entire categories ever again. If he gets 1 slot (or 2) out of 5, fine, I can just ignore it and at least there are a bunch of good, non-puppy slate works to choose from for the category. He can get stuff nominated, but unlikely to win and unlikely to control the whole category, so, maybe not perfect, but does a damn-fine job of neutering puppies.

    Xopher: IF the legitimate nominees are eliminated … your preferences will be considered if you number them.

    Hm. I thought a vote for a work below no award still helped that work possibly win. And that NOT voting any work below no award, and NOT voting for puppy works made it harder for them to win anything at all. I still don’t quite get the math that fiddles with the numbers until it finds a winner. Maybe I never will. I think just on principle, I can’t vote for any puppy slated work, not even below no award. Maybe it doesn’t make a difference when they count the votes, but I think it just comes down to me not wanting my vote to help any puppy slate works win.

  160. Greg: Voting for nominee below “No Award” ONLY helps it win against OTHER nominees that you listed below “No Award or that you left off the ballot (anything you left off the ballot is automatically tied for last place on your ballot). It cannot help it win against anything that you ranked above “No Award”. Hope that helps.

    So if there’s “a”, a nominee that you think doesn’t deserve a Hugo, and there’s “b”, a nominee that you think didn’t even deserve to be published in the first place, ranking “a” below No Award and ranking “b” below it (or leaving “b” off entirely) means that if it comes down to a final head-to-head showdown between “a” and “b”, with all the things (if any) you ranked above “No Award” already eliminated, you’ve helped “shouldn’t win a Hugo” defeat “shouldn’t have even been published”. Note that the “No Award” test will be made regardless, and so whichever of “a” or “b” it comes down to, if it comes down to them, will still have to win over “No Award”. Which is why one should ALWAYS put “No Award” on one’s slate below the last nominee in a category which you think is good enough (if only barely) to win a Hugo.

    If that’s above the first name in any particular category, so be it. Me, I figure that I’d rather have not-Hugo-worthy-but-competent (or even not-Hugo-worthy-but BARELY-competent) win over “what-was-the-publisher-thinking”, if one of them HAS to win because not enough people put “No Award” on their ballot to win the No Award Showdown which is the final step of Hugo counting.

    To recap: in a category that is a mix of Hugo-worthy and Hugo-unworthy (in your opinion), it’s best to vote:
    1) I want this to win! It’s great!
    2) Ok, I won’t complain too much if this one wins
    3) The writing is good enough for a Hugo, even if it really wasn’t entirely to my taste
    4) NO AWARD
    5) The nouns and verbs are mostly in the right order…..
    6) How did this even get published??

    or for a category where you think everything is Hugo-unworthy:

    1) NO AWARD
    2) Ok as a magazine filler story, I guess, but not Hugo quality.
    3) No.
    4) Really, No.
    5) Make it stop!
    6) What is this I don’t even ARRRGGGGH

    In the second case, while you’re helping No Award to win the Showdown (you hope), which would mean there’s no winner in that category, if the No Award Showdown fails and there MUST be a winner, at least you’re trying your best to keep the works you consider unreadable from winning.

    That probably wasn’t as clear as I’d have liked it to be; it’s 4am here and I’m just going to bed now…..

  161. Cally, thank you. I was wrestling last night with whether to rank a certain item below No Award or not rank it at all. I ended up (provisionally, since there are months to go) ranking it below No Award in hopes that I understood the process to be as you described it. Except that I left B, C, and D off entirely.

  162. Cally. Thanks. either i read a misinformed website or more likely, i misunderstood what they were saying.

    well, Im certainly not putting myself through the pain of reading the stuff. I’ve seen some snippets where one paragraph was enough to cause temporary blindness. hm. I guess i will have to rank them so VD is at the bottom. Any works his publishing company did is second to bottom, then larry (hm, he withdrew), then brad, the john wright because seriously? Five nominations? and up from there i guess. If nothing else, randomize the rest just so that vd is absolutely farthest down on the ballot.

    Maybe a quick skim when the reader packet is available. And then i’ll go back and update my ballot. Ugh. I had filled out all the pup categories with no award so i wouldnt have to deal with them or think about them anymore. This sucks. The puppies suck. grrrr.

  163. Just remember that everything left off your ballot ends up tied for last place on your ballot, so if there are two or three or four works that you find equally objectionable, leaving them off your ballot means they are equally ranked on your ballot below anything else you’ve actually listed (including No Award if you’ve listed that). So if you really have no opinion between “Really, No”, “Make it Stop” and “What is this I don’t even ARRGGGHH” other than that they should never, ever get within a mile of a Hugo, leaving them all off your ballot (which you’ve not forgotten to put No Award on) means Hell No to all of them equally, and that if it somehow, Ghu forbid, comes down to a choice between the three of them, with No Award out of the running, you have no opinion on which gets the shiny rocketship. So if do have an opinion between works you consider unworthy, by all means list them in order so the least-awful wins, if it comes to that. If you don’t have an opinion between them, leave them off.

    And in a category that includes things you KNOW you don’t want to win and will be voting No Award in front of, and also some stuff you haven’t read/experienced that you think might be Hugo worthy? All I can say is try your best to read/experience a large enough sample of those potentially-worthy works to get enough of an opinion on where you put it on your ballot. Because if you leave it off, you’re also voting it below No Award.

  164. Please do not engage on my behalf with people who seek to justify attacks at me personally, anyone

    Being honest, if you’re not able to parse silliness / hyperbole with a large dose of theory behind it (the China Miéville 2013 talk is very apropos, then again did anyone watch it?) and are still clutching the pearls of being offended after an apology, well.


    You were being matronizingly literal, I sought to have some fun, you’ve retreated into a crab shell and casting out distressed songs.

    Hint: some of us are a little more feminist / anarchist / socialist than thou, and identity politics are childish in the extreme.

    Sorry John.

  165. [Deleted because Cthulhu, drop the thing with Kat, please. Also, in general do a better job being polite to people here – JS]

  166. Equinox is their name for me.

    Nemesis is who I was/am/will be.

    XXXX is the name stripped from me in the triangle

    So, DAVID: any more simplistic links you want to do, or could you pretend to be a human being and be creative?

  167. So, DAVID: any more simplistic links you want to do, or could you pretend to be a human being and be creative?

    No, I was fine with the one simplistic link, thanks!

  168. No, I was fine with the one simplistic link, thanks!

    2. The failure mode of clever is “asshole.”

    Uff, let’s pretend I didn’t know that before I admitted to being an asshole (x2) and let everyone sink back into not trying anything new.

    However, thank you @ Host for deleting that post. Probably broke a few rules (not house ones, outside ones) posting that kind of detail.

    I’ll go lurk once more.