Today’s Twitter Rant, 9/12/15
Posted on September 12, 2015 Posted by John Scalzi 209 Comments
How fucked-up is your image of SF/F fandom when you have to posit that it should include "even" me and David Gerrold? pic.twitter.com/RUfDUyR4yt
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) September 12, 2015
(Even more specifically, how fucked-up is your idea of an SF/F award, when you have to make that same formulation for us to vote on it.)
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) September 12, 2015
I don't need a fucking "Web of Trust" to be a science fiction and fantasy fan. I don't need a fucking gatekeeper. I'm a fan because I am.
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) September 12, 2015
I don't need a single goddamn person to VOUCH for my love of science fiction and fantasy or to prove I belong in its fandom. Fuck that shit.
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) September 12, 2015
If you're going to seriously try to say I need anyone else to establish my fan cred in SF/F, I'm going to seriously laugh in your face.
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) September 12, 2015
If you say that ANYONE ELSE needs to have their fan cred established by anyone else before they can be a fan, I will also laugh at you.
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) September 12, 2015
And — reminder — if you want to play the "SF/F cred" game with me, unless you're Silverberg or Willis, I HAVE YOU FUCKING BEAT. So don't.
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) September 12, 2015
Rather, accept that the "SFF cred" game is bullshit and that anyone who wants to be a fan, is.
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) September 12, 2015
So, anyway. Good morning, Twitter. Hope you're awake now.
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) September 12, 2015
For all of you who need context on that last rant from me: https://t.co/g4dtIc78un both the entry and its comments.
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) September 12, 2015
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I should note that I don’t oppose this fellow and his pals creating an award. They should knock themselves out. I do think this is particular formulation for it will lend itself to… drama.
Also, procedural note: This comment thread should not be used to rehash the Hugo Awards from this year. As I’ve noted before, I’m done with that topic. Mentions of the Hugos should be general and in the context of discussion of this proposed award.
(Also, for clarity’s sake, there are a couple of other people who have more SFF cred than me, beyond Silverberg/Willis. Twitter has only so many characters. But let’s face it, if you’re going to play the “SFF Cred” card, I’m pretty solidly in that category’s 1%. But it’s a stupid card in a stupid game, and neither should be played at all.)
So, it’s basically the Hugos, but it’s “our” Hugos, so it’s more credible. And of course, the criteron of telling a “good” SF/F story is so original, I don’t know why no one else has thought of it before.
The whole trust thing, though, is just asking for Drama. I posted a comment trying to point this out to Jay; he didn’t seem to think it was an issue.
However, given that we’re all human beings, of course it is. And that doesn’t even touch the problematic goals of the award, or the rube goldberg contraption to make sure the right books are nominated.
My first thought of Maynard’s award was, “OK, so he wants establish the ‘Hugos (If Every Proposal for the 2015 WSFS Business Meeting that Jay Maynard Liked Got Ratified) Awards’. Bully for him.”
My second was, “So, is he planning to define SFF the way Stewart defined porn?”
My third was, “So, his award, intended to represent all SFF fandom, everywhere, has a jury. Wut?”
My third was, “Oh, wait, no, it’s not a jury. It’s a gatekeeping committee. My mistake. Wait, wut?”
My fourth was, “Oh, no, wait, by ‘all fandom’, he means ‘ people who know the right people.’ Wait, wut?”
My fifth was, “Well, at least voters don’t have to pay for the privilege. Of course, besides establishing a non-profit, how does he plan to pay for his award?”
Clearly, Jay Maynard, Tron-Guy himself, put a lot of geeky, fannish thought into his award proposal. And yet, I still don’t think he’s thought his cunning plan all the way through.
What I find fascinating is that the proposal boils down to the following:
1. You have to know the secret handshake to be able to vote
2. People who are more important in the special club can vote you out
3. Even then, there are a handful of super-special people in the special club who get to veto nominations
This is an astoundingly self-parodying “clique controls the award” award system.
I’m happy that they’re finally thinking about making their own awards, but I wish they’d be more upfront about who they want their democracy to be. Perhaps I missed it, but in the original post, I didn’t see anything pertaining how to avoid abusing this trust system, other than the limited number of trust points and chain factor. It doesn’t sound all that hard for someone to use one of their points to “un-trust” someone for… well, anything. Notably for having a differing opinion of what makes “good” sff. Sure, they have a limited number of points, but that’s not going to stop certain people from teaming up to hound a member they don’t like.
I genuinely hope that they can make this work — but perhaps along the way they might see that shutting out the voices they don’t want to hear is exactly what they accused others of doing in the first place.
I didn’t realize Jay had also built a Sark suit.
When I first read the proposal I did wonder if it was parody (because it reads *funny* as parody). Then I realized that was not the case. It’s not parody, it’s just bizarre.
I especially enjoyed the worried commenter who wondered how the voting pool could be purified (my word, not theirs) if someone with an appropriate Trust Level handed out Trusts willy-nilly (and willy-nilly might be the commenter’s phrase) — or someone had a change of heart and suddenly wasn’t voting “the right way” anymore. How will you wrest voting rights away from them? Because, you know, awards are for *all* the fans.
Where there whole thought chain* falls down. Are they going to deny GRRM as being a fan? Or Gaiman? Or Steven Gould? Even if they try to deny that you are a fan, can they really deny them? And if they include say Gould, they Gould could validate you and they’re back where they started. And they eventually end up with an award that is basically the Hugos with a f’ed up voting process.
*Yes I know, there is no actual thought involved.
It seems that with their points and levels, they’re trying to turn this into the most boring RPG ever.
“This is an astoundingly self-parodying “clique controls the award” award system”
Yup. Also, at what point for an award system touting itself to be for fandom do you make the differentiation between “fan” and “invested professional”?
Because I am a fan and under the WSFC system I can have a say without having to actually know anyone in the industry, I just need to have read in the genre (and paid my fee) and care enough to have nominate/vote.
Their system….not so much. I need to be ‘vouched’ for. I would fail. These awards are not for me, I must not be a true fan *sniffs*
I think Jay is trying so hard to find a solution to the problem that he perceives that he’s stopped filtering the ideas on any basis except ‘it’s physically possible’. He’ll calm down eventually, I suspect.
Honestly, as someone who loves sci-fi, all this cabal stuff and who is entitled just reads like sulky, petulant children, I like what I like and to hell with the rest of the world! And that applies to everything I like. I don’t have guilty pleasures because I’m not guilty about anything that pleases me, be it books, music or whatever.
Trust levels are a useful mechanism for adjusting dice rolls in certain RPG systems. Trying to import game mechanics into the real world, well, there’s a certain type of person who thinks that human interactions can be rigidly controlled with mathematical formulae, and the results are always tragicomic.
Re. awards in general: “I say it’s spinach and I say to hell with it.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_say_it's_spinach#Rose_and_White.27s_cartoon) The only meaningful award for a writer is being read by a diverse audience.
In terms of “cred”? Frankly, I’m proud to belong to any community that includes Scalzi and Gerrold.
LOL Trey. The 90 seconds of melee that takes a night and a half to resolve.
Not that that’s ever happened to me, but I’ve, you know, heard about it.
Its telling how much effort it would take just to pick a name for the thing. The ‘web of trust’ was definitely the deal-killer, though it got me wondering: just how does an awarding process come into existence? There was a time when Nobel, SAG, Tony’s, Oscars, Hugos, did not exist. How does one go about creating such a thing today so fans can recognize and evangelize favorites? My little tiny pocket of civilization uses word of mouth almost exclusively to recognize stories, like its own little ‘web of trust.’
How does one go about creating such a thing today so fans can recognize and evangelize favorites?
You simply create it. Credibility is established over time, although it can be seeded based on the people creating the award.
BillB: I’ve had evenings where it took all night to do 90 seconds of the exciting stuff, too.
…. we’re still talking about gaming, right? Or was I slipping off into a different kind of encounter?
<sarcasm> Can’t have authentic folk music if you use an electric guitar, people! That Zimmerman kid is going to ruin things for everyone (especially those of us at the Newport festival, and if we let any colored folk attend it — any who can afford it — things will get really bad in a hurry). </sarcasm>
Last time I checked, six of the eight biggest-selling folk multisong recordings (can’t even say “albums” anymore!) included substantial electrical-instrument work, all of the performers use electrical instruments on the road. So it’s coming: The ruination of Real Folk Music. Which now has greater influence on music as a whole than at any time since those wax cylinders became disks.
I read through the proposal, and it seriously reads like Bender’s version of Hugos: instead of boldly going its own way to promote what it seeks to do (for example, they could pick a category like “Most Satisfying Villain Death/Defeat”/”Best Popcorn Read”/”Best Action Scene of the Year” to bolster the focus on storytelling — they could have a new “Best use of storytelling tropes” category each year, with a different theme) — but they just lazily copy Hugo setup. It’s totally daft.
It also doesn’t help that JM had this burning need to whizz on Hugos in his proposal and then try to distance the whole thing from the Puppy mess; it is so obvious that those grapes are very very sour.
However, all in all, go for creating your own award, guys; there’s a lot of room in this world for acknowledgement! Just show some creativity and sense of fun while doing it. GRRM clearly had fun with his Alfies, and that’s the spirit you should emulate, since you’re trying to be everything in opposition to stodgy literature awards, right?
This may be a de gustibus problem, but I tend toward Heinlein’s way of thinking; the most significant reward for a writer is found in the form of piles of cash.
In any case, the proposed award does not strike me as significant nor as interesting. It is basically a clique of folks getting together to promote what they think is important and if you don’t agree with them, you don’t get to vote. As a self-perpetuating ego boo, it might work. As a serious award, not so much.
LOL, I needed that laugh. I guess assholes don’t know when to quit.
I see they’re still tossing around ideas for a name. Why not just call it the Maynards and be done with it?
How does one go about creating such a thing today so fans can recognize and evangelize favorites?
Loyalty Pledges !!
Actually, your best option is to review what they did when they created Conservapedia.
Strong values that make that site completely invaluable.
My first guess is that you can only be Credible if you ban the use of screen names.
Otherwise, we have to assume that they all belong to Vox Day.
Well that is a clusterfuck looking for a place to gather for sure. My brain was braining until it read that. Now it refuses to do anything meaningful.
I love that GRRM chimed in. http://grrm.livejournal.com/441565.html
Nice overview of the awards and a short comment on the proposed new award.
I have always loved the contrast between the Hugos and the Nebulas. People’s Choice vs Writer’s’ Choice. They always create a large enough list of things to read.
I signed in to Blackgate and tried to be helpful. I think this is a great idea for niche marketing to a sub-category of SF/F Fans. I suggest that call the award “The Tea Bag” or “The Dragon’s Tea Bag”. Something like that really signals the type fans be pursued and the type work being highlighted. It sounds like snark, but my impression that those of the tea bag take a lot of pride in their sub-culture.
The contrast is that the Hugos are not a politically motivated award so those of the tea bag and can still participate in that if they are real SF/F fans – most are not. On the other hands most real SF/F fans would have probably little interest the Dragon’s Tea Bag because they are looking for good SF/F stories however they define good stories.
Mr Maynard hasn’t read Lock In, but feels the unspecified gender of the lead character would ruin it for him.
That is, the gender of a person who is completely paralyzed and has to interact with the world through a mechanical body.
Wut? I can’t think of a set up where gender is less important….
Jaws: can’t even say “albums” anymore!
Really? Weally? That’s odd. Maybe we can’t, but lots of people, including me, still do say “albums.” And you do realize, I hope, that the term “album” was originally applied to sound recordings in the days of 78s, when you bought a literal album of several discs if you wanted to listen to a piece that lasted more than the two or three minutes the technology could handle. “Album” continued to be used after the rise of the long-playing record, aka “lp,” when a single 12-inch-disc in its cardboard sleeve would be called an album even though in fact it was not. So there’s no reason why a compact disc, or the same batch of files on a server or flash drive can’t also be called an album, and as far as I can tell, many people still do. (Just as people continue to use “film” to refer to visual media recorded and played / projected on electronic media that have never been put on celluloid.)
So, how odd that after mocking those who denied that real Folk Music could use electric instruments, you exhibit the same culture-cop purism about “album.” Unless that was deliberate?
Well I, for one, heartily approve of this. In fact, I’ve done something similar. When I realized, several years ago, that the Oscars had become corrupt beyond all hope of salvaging, I didn’t whine about it. I didn’t try to rig the vote. I made my own awards, The Robyns.
And each year since, every single Robyn has gone to the actor who was truly the most deserving: Beau Bridges.
Wow, first thought was that guy really twisted YOUR tail. Second was Churchill, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried from time to time.” Sounds like they want to try something else. Bless their hearts.
Lots of anger in those tweets for them essentially doing what everyone has asked them to: to wit, “Why don’t you just make your own awards?” Sure they’re doing it with some bitterness and snark, but lets just be honest and admit that bitterness and snark admit no exclusive allegiance to either side of this argument. Your tweets, John, sound butt-hurt, which is weird for a guy with a multi-million dollar contract and several best-sellers under his belt, who likes to call people out for grievance politics. I mean, fuck, just let them hash out their thing; stop sticking your nose in; they’re being constructive. Jay is making an honest effort to create an award that does what the Puppies have been saying they want, and he’s been engaging with people pretty openly on Black Gate. I generally agree with your politics, arguments, and tone, but in this case drink your morning Coke Zero and try not being an asshole.
but in this case drink your morning Coke Zero and try not being an asshole.
Wow, somebody appointed you sheriff and we all missed it? Think on the difference between “trying to stop people from doing something” (which JS is NOT doing) and “commenting on how people are doing something” (which JS IS doing). So you’re arguing that people should not only allow the SPs to make their own award but shouldn’t comment on the process at all?
I wish them success. Why not? And I thought of a name they might not dislike, offered without snark: The Yes Awards.
“I mean, fuck, just let them hash out their thing.”
Aaaaaah, so you’re saying that this is, in fact, not something that “even John Scalzi” is allowed to participate in? I mean, Matt W, even Mr. Maynard has suggested I and Mr. Gerrold could play a role, but now you’re telling me not to worry my pretty little rich head about it, despite the assertion by Mr. Maynard that even I might be able to share my thoughts?
Likewise, am I to understand that after a certain level of success, I’m not allowed to offer my opinion on any attempt to gatekeep the genre in which I work and play? “Oh, he’s rich and successful! He doesn’t get to have thoughts on this.” Because certainly an attempt to position me, as rich and successful as I am, and rich and successful as I am because of science fiction (and the fans therein) as somehow on the periphery of what science fiction and fantasy is has no implication whatsoever on who else is to be pushed to the periphery of fandom by this bullshit. None at all.
Likewise, I’ll be happy to see the papers that declare you’ve been made the boss of me. Present them, please.
Someone’s being an asshole here, Matt W, that’s certain enough. It’s not the one of us currently enjoying a Coke Zero. Go ahead and fuck off. Thanks.
Keep hoping this kind of nonsense is an extinction burst. But then more of it keeps coming.
I suppose this particular iteration does have the virtue of being aimed squarely at a small in group.
Hey, if someone thinks that a new set of awards should be set up with a different set of deciding criteria, go for it. The proposed criteria do suggest that the proponents seem to be worrying more about a speck in Our Gracious Host’s eye than a two-by-four jammed in their own, but that’s a different issue entirely.
Will those criteria work out okay, or will they cause their own pile of problems? Well, to quote a best-selling (and multiple Hugo Award-winning) series from Baen Books:
“Let’s see what happens.”
Whhhhyyyyy do my comments double post?? This is like the third time this has happened! And whyyyy can I not edit?
Between history-will-be-erased-and-denied-furiously thing that’s happening today and this, I’m running out of popcorn.
(Love Skiriki’s comment, btw)
Yeah, the idea that anyone could possibly question John Scalzi’s credentials as a fan really takes the cake.
I think they should call their award The Gilligans”
Duncan: It was (a) deliberate and (b) secondarily an attempt to acknowledge the place of the EP and the released-separately-as-songs-all-at-once-on-the-‘net changes in Things. For some value of Things. (Snide aside: Only printed text and recorded music base their pricing and distribution memes on the reproduction cost of the container and not the content.)
I was trying to channel the persona of the, umm, crankier “traditionalists” in the immediate aftermath of Newport. I’m not quite that old… but I’m old enough to remember (and have participated in) the outrage of punk and its effect on music and performance and the entertainment industry. And, somehow, the image of Mr Maynard and his cronies screaming that we should all get off his lawn seems especially satisfying in contrast to a recent photograph of Our Gracious Host.
Well wow, this thing still lets me comment. True enough and very fair. Calling someone a rich asshole in his own house does indeed deserve some degree of thrashing. I guess I’m waiting for my morning coffee to set in too. (I too am a fan of Coke Zero, but am trying to give up diet soda having recently read an article that suggests it’s linked to diabetes, which proves that I’m fickle and entirely too likely to believe what I read on the internet.) So let me apologize for being an asshole and thank you for engaging with me.
My issue was that I felt like Jay’s proposal was an honest effort. I read BG pretty regularly and had made a few comments over there yesterday concerning details of the proposal. The back-and-forth on BG with regular commenters on both sides for the past few weeks after the Hugos finished has been fairly constructive and relatively friendly even though there are disagreements. George Martin even commented, in a constructive way, on Jay’s proposal yesterday. Cat Valente has been in the comments over there engaging constructively. Then this morning, a Twitter rant from you (and Twitter is perhaps the worst communication method ever invented by humans) that has, instead of your usual cheerfully snarky tone, a really angry and aggrieved tone. It’s both over-the-top and uncharacteristic. My worry is, that because of the size of your internet presence and your relative notoriety (i.e. fame), that you suck the oxygen out of the room, and constructive efforts by others get overshadowed. Clearly I have no business telling you what to say, think, write, whatever (pun intended), particularly on your own blog. And I’m just a little guy of no consequence. I just wish that sometimes I could see around you to talk to those other little guys on the opposite side of the room.
Maybe it is a parody and we’ve been trolled? (Thus I desperately cling to the hope people aren’t THAT stoopid.)
The problem, as I see it, is that their claim for the award doesn’t hold up. “The (insert name here) Awards will be granted as determined by SF/F fandom as a whole” except that it won’t. I read the whole thing looking for how they plan to make sure that all of fandom is eligible to vote, and the answer was that they don’t. Instead, it involves a system of gatekeepers to determine the nominees and a limited voting pool to determine the winners. So until they make clear that they are in no way attempting to claim that the award will be “determined by SF/F fandom as a whole,” it’s impossible to take them seriously. They can say whatever they want and set up whatever award they want, but if they want to be taken seriously, they have to do a better job of offering something in which the intent and the execution aren’t so far apart. It’s a noble goal, but restricting voting to some bizarre system of levels of trust. Even if trust is somehow required–and they haven’t explained why it is or how that is consistent with the “fandom as a whole” thing–what is the point of levels? Are some animals going to be more equal than others?
I read some of the comments yesterday, haven’t had time to go back and read them all, but nobody explained the different levels of trust or how that equates to “all of fandom” in the ones I saw.
I am not a “fan” but I do tend to read a lot. So I guess I’m an outsider, but this kinda feels like high school. Maybe it matters to fans.
John,, wouldn’t it suit your purposes better to just ignore them? (i’m not even sure who the them is in this case) (rhetorical question)
Apology accepted, and thank you.
“I felt like Jay’s proposal was an honest effort.”
I don’t recall saying it wasn’t, and as I noted at the top of the comment thread that I fully encourage him and others to try to implement a new award. That said, I do think Mr. Maynard has some ground assumptions and positions that are worth calling out and criticizing, and I think it’s useful for someone — and someone like me — to call out gatekeeping for what it is. I don’t think doing so sucks the oxygen out of the room, but I do think it’s entirely possible it focuses the conversation in places it might otherwise not have gone. “Honest” does not mean “Non-criticizable.”
That said, Mr. Maynard is free to listen to me (or indeed anyone else) or not, and respond however he chooses. I can’t stop him, nor would I even if I could.
I will say that if Mr. Maynard wants to see this change, he should probably do more than propose it; he should probably also attempt to implement it, which means doing the work of starting the organization and implementing the award. Otherwise this like so many other proposals will simply disappear into the ether. Ideas are never is issue; implementation is.
Per jay Maynard’s article, direct quotes:
“In another sense, though, it’s a way to ensure that at least one set of awards for SF/F represent what it is truly about: the story above all else.”
Implying that the Hugo voters currently don’t award ‘the story above all else’.
“It’s modeled after the Hugos, with two major changes: a panel of judges evaluates the nominees to ensure that they are indeed good SF/F stories, and can reject a limited number of them; and the pool of eligible voters is based on a web of trust starting with the signers of the proposal.”
One of the two major changes mentioned is ‘ensuring they are indeed good SF/F stories.’ implying (maybe accidentally, but good faith is not otherwise being demonstrated) that recent winners did NOT have good stories.
And then there’s that entire first paragraph under ‘The Rationale’, which assumes many MANY facts not in evidence such as voters using some vague political compass instead of just not liking the same things in the same number as Maynard or Hoyt or Kratman or etcetera. Somehow when those people don’t like a story it’s because it’s objectively bad message fic, but when other fans have different ideas it’s because they’re some political shadowy cabal subverting the foundations of science fiction.
It’s insulting. And worst of all, it’s horribly insulting to people who have won a Hugo, like Ursula Vernon and John Scalzi who have practiced over their art and cried over characters and AUTHORED, dammit, and are now being called essentially hacks who were only awarded because the fan-kickers crying about the matter can’t possibly understand how anyone could put up with a gender-neutral protagonist or whatnot.
Take what you are proudest in life of, what other people praise you for and what you enjoy, and now try to imagine being told that this award (using the same categories and set-up, natch) shouldn’t include you because all the people who told you that you were good, all your work, is actually just some political chicanery. That you should actually be excluded from the ‘true [whatever]’ because you’re popular for the wrong reasons. It might help you understand where our host is coming from.
Erf. I spoke over our host. My apologies.
And I’m just a little guy of no consequence. I just wish that sometimes I could see around you to talk to those other little guys on the opposite side of the room
There’s a certain irony that you had to come to JS’s web site to complain about him sucking the oxygen out of the room. The “room” you entered was his, and so now you’re complaining because *in his space* you feel like he shouldn’t say things and he is. That’s a lot of presumption. If he was over at Black Gate, that might be different, but here? Or on his twitter account?
“I’m coming into your house and telling you what you can and can’t say there” isn’t really an award-winning argument (well, I suppose it depends on the award).
Really, now that I’ve thought it myself (I already did when I read it first time at the Black Gate, considered the wisdom of registering an account and posting my eurocents’ worth of ideas, then got distracted), my main beefs with the current proposal are:
1) It doesn’t seem much fun. If it aims to acknowledge fun, good literature, maybe it should seem like more fun. With a sense of humor, speed, excitement, all that heady feeling of giddy glee. I wasn’t getting any from the suggestion.
2) It still smells of puppies and needs a bath or two to wash it away.
3) But the whole gatekeeping thing stinks even more. Precisely how I am supposed to prove that I got 34+ years of SF/F fandom under my belt to vote? I’m nobody. Like, just one fan in a big sea. Pretty much no-one outside of my country knows about me, and inside my country I’m big enough to make ittibitti noise in one city’s sci-fi club as “helpful organizer”. I got gender-disadvantage — I would get grilled whether I’ve read the Holy Writ of Heinlein or whatever (actually have, as a kid too), and I’m sick and tired of that.
If I have to compare this situation to something, it is like someone has set up two amusement parks: one of them has an admission ticket price, but that’s all you need to do in order to participate — I mean, I don’t even need to file a survey (vote) if I just want to go there to look at things. I can suggest people to look at fun things I’ve found on my way there (nominate) or just kick back and see what they proposed.
The other one has all kinds of weird, brooding gatekeepers who make you hop through the loops, and you must be THIS TALL (or THIS MUCH FAN) to play and they can dock your ticket because whatever, maybe you’re too colorful or too woman or the moon is in wrong quadrant of the sky.
And all that makes me feel like “well if I go there NOW, would anyone even consider my ideas at all”, because I am 100% sincere that yes, they totally should try their own award thing, awards are cool.
I can’t be the only person who thinks they’ll make it through like 3 days of the logistical nightmare of setting up and managing this web of trust thing before it al collapses, right?
Tangentially, I’m pretty sure both Mr. Silverberg and Ms. Willis have way too much sense, and better things to do, to get into a fandom cred competition. Would that mean OGH wins by default? :)
(Also, hi Skiriki!)
On the one hand, Tron Guy’s explicitly stated goal here is to create an award that recognizes all of Fandom.
On the other hand, Tron Guy’s explicitly stated means for achieving this goal includes mechanisms whose explicitly stated purpose is to make sure that wrongfans don’t fuck up TG’s All-Fandom award by nominating wrongstories (i.e., the “web of trust” thing keeps wrongfans from nominating), and that wrongstories don’t have a chance to pollute the precious
bodily fluidsAll-Fandom Awards ballot (i.e., the gatekeepers with the power to disqualify any work for Not Being Story Enough).
Sounds like cognitive dissonance to me…
Ironically, I think one could make a case for trust points and vouching and a review panel for an award that WAS explicitly political. But it makes no sense for an award that, it is claimed, is only for works completely and entirely devoid of politics…
What I see missing from all these discussions is the idea of balance. Yes, I want story-telling – and plot too! I also want characterization. And some good world worldbuilding if you don’t mind. Leaving aside the “world-building” I want some setting as well. And I’d like some good prose with that, maybe even bordering on the poetic once in awhile… and if the interior dialogue of the characters was believable and everyone’s motivations weren’t trite, evil, selfish or idiotic…
Could I get a side of believable dialogue with that? And I’d like some cultural diversity, because frankly, I’ve been white and American and human all my life, and I’m beginning to get bored with it… It comes with metaphor and similes and some symbolism, right, because I’m dedicating money and shelf-space to your book and I’d appreciate some intellectual stimulation and reread value!
Does Jay even know what he means when he says “storytelling above all” or is the phrase just Puppy-code for “no damn SJWs?”
I think all y’all are missing the point of web-of-trust. It doesn’t work at all, and everybody knows that. I mean, I may trust you, but let me tell ya, some of your friends are real assholes. Trust is not transitive in any meaningful sense, which is why all attempts at a web-of-trust of any consequence have collapsed fairly quickly.
But Jay is not an idiot. So why would he suggest a thing that everybody knows isn’t going to work? It’s pretty simple. Buying a Hugo outright would cost something like a quarter of a million dollars worth of votes. But buying this new improved not-Hugo outright? It’s going to cost- …a shellscript. Because you know you can trust me, right? And I TOTALLY trust those 5000 sockpuppet accounts I just created…
Are some animals going to be more equal than others?
Ding ding ding.
The RPGers around here will also probably recognize that one of the functions of ‘trust level’ points in games that have them is to allow characters to backstab as well as help.
Not a Shadowrun player, eh?
FWIW I had the impression that Maynard was saying “even Scalzi” in the sense of “my fellow Puppies, this is the news that will surprise you the most” rather than in the sense of “Scalzi is the one I have the most doubts about.”
I think they should go ahead and set up their award. I think it will be a valuable lesson in how hard it is to do well. If it does end up drawing attention to books I will enjoy, great. If it ends up drawing attention to books that won’t be my thing, that’s still a valuable sorting mechanism.
And the fact that it will be “everything that was supposedly wrong with the Hugos but it’s okay because the Puppies are in charge this time” is um, very amusing. But really no skin off my nose.
Puppies can vouch for me as a real fan or not; I don’t actually care, because they can’t close any doors I care about.
This is the only funny thing to come out of the entire Puppy saga. I am deeply enjoying it, especially the bizzaro attempts at gate-keeping.
I am hoping that the proposal gets even more complicated. Like, after you get through the three vouching people obstacles, to actually nominate, you must pass a quiz of your political ideology for each nomination you want to make. Think gay people are equal human beings instead of deranged sinners? Out you go. Think an alternate Ghostbusters reboot with a woman cast is an abomination? You’re in!
“Was Star Trek a fun space adventure show only or was it also a call to social justice?”
“Also a call to social justice.”
“But I’m David Gerrold. I helped create the show!.”
“The demon has descended upon us! Unclean, unclean!”
Every time you think this stuff can’t get sillier, it does! I think at this point it goes way past parody into the realms of alien probing conspiracies.
These people would not know a story if it came up and bit them on the ass. They are all canned rhetoric. But it’s a lot more fun to watch some of them trying to do this than what they were doing before.
alsohuey, I think someone actually noted that limited trust points limits that problem… but that also creates a limited pool of voters capped by the administrators. (Though I might just have read the first draft.) One of the nice things about the Hugos is that it can scale to as many members as want to put the money down.
(I remember the invite codes used in the early days of Livejournal and other sites; those were explicitly a method to control how the site scaled, and that works pretty well. But it meant either putting down money to buy an account (and get around the invite code system) or cultivating friends on Livejournal before actually joining LJ. And once you got your livejournal, there were no take backs. I could have given an invite code to Vox Day and that was the end of anyone’s control over what he did with it or the journal (beyond basic terms of service stuff).)
Some of that was cultural: people in many of the fannish communities would pool extra invite codes for others based solely on ‘hey, you are interested in our community? cool, let’s find a code for you!’. In other words, there was an incentive to cast a broad net, rather than this kind of web of trust stuff. (On that vein, the system really clashes with All of Fandom. Fandom is huge: the different ends don’t interact and diffusion might not carry this over all of the interested fandom, which is contrary to stated aims. Someone can learn about Hugos and voting and register just by an author’s blog or a friend, in contrast.)
@ Kat Goodwin: ” ‘But I’m David Gerrold. I helped create the show!.’ ”
And what makes that even funnier is that “The Trouble With Tribbles” is one of the episodes with the least amount of social commentary in it. It’s a straight comedy about con men and stuffy bureaucrats, with nary a social or political allegory in sight.
Aside from its implications about Hugo voters, this statement makes a really strong statement about what SF/F is and what it’s not. Me, I don’t think that SF/F is or should be about the story above all else. That’s a cramped view of the genre, and it kind of rules out SF/F ever being considered “real” literature (for those who care about that issue); different works have different strengths.
Ironically, people who like SF/F often speak out against various kinds of pigeonholing, and this award seems to be doing just that with a definition of the field.
@Rafe B: I’ve had evenings where it took all night to do 90 seconds of the exciting stuff, too.
…. we’re still talking about gaming, right?
Well played, sir.
@James Reynolds: Never played Shadowrun. Quickest tabletop melee system I ever used was Dragon Age, which precluded endless rules-lawyer minmaxing. I regretfully admit, though, that I’ve given up on gaming in favor of writing.
With respect to the actual topic of this post, I offer the following musical point of departure:
Theyre not really a fandom anyway…
Just a clarification. As far as I can tell, the web of trust thing is not an attempt to create a walled-off fandom, but simply to verify that voters exist and are one person. It’s to prevent ballot stuffing and fraud. Whether this is necessary or would work are debatable (for the record I think it’s not a terrible goal, but there are far simpler ways to achieve it), but that’s the stated ambition of the WoT. I think it got included in the proposal because Mr. Maynard was initially kicking around the idea with a guy who has some familiarity with internet security and cryptography schemes, which also use a web of trust. (For instance, the SSL certificate your browser verifies when you connect to a banking website uses a web of trust concept.) It’s clearly not workable as written at all (as I and other commenters on BG pointed out several times yesterday), but it’s also not (or at least they say it’s not) intended as a gatekeeping mechanism. In fact, the comment that Mr. Scalzi initially took such exception to was directly addressing this; Jay was saying that a proper implementation of the system would include everyone, all of fandom, even Scalzi and Gerrold (whom folks familiar with Jay’s politics might infer that he was trying to exclude.)
Perhaps this is a slightly confused appeal to SF tradition: instead of “Fans are Slans” we have “Only Slans can be Fans.” But, anyhow, “Join us on a Thrilling Trip to the Golden Days of Yesteryear!”
BRACING, John! More of an eye-opener than espresso shots.
I couldn’t figure out (reading about it yesterday) if it was more of a clusterfuck or more of a circlejerk. Circlefuck. Clusterjerk… well, it is a cluster of jerks.
Not sure how they went from “gatekeepers are bad, we need MOAR democracy!” to “there’s a Star Chamber that gets to invalidate any votes they don’t like from our previously-vetted electorate”.
The lazy ripping off of the Hugo categories is also terrible. Why not come up with new categories, have a real fresh start? Best YA is a good idea. Why not “best milSF”, “best high fantasy”, “best time-travel”, etc. I’d be interested in those myself.
I seriously doubt they’ll actually follow through and create, administer, judge, and give out this award. It is a HELL of a lot of hard work and absolutely no rhetoric — the opposite of what Puppydum (tm Stevie) has thus far shown us. Just hearing about the Hugo administration process gives me hives. They’re planning to do all that, PLUS implement the web of trust, PLUS have the panel of judges go through all the nominees and throw out the undeserving ones?
@Skiriki’s amusement park metaphor is good.
I know exactly what Chris Shane looks like, since John was very careful to describe the various threeps Chris inhabited (the college-color one, the new one for the first day of the FBI job with a different color scheme, the rental/borrowed ones). Now, judging from the description of Dad Shane, I’d say Chris’ meat body would be classified as African-American, but since Mom Shane was from an old Southern aristocratic family, Meat Chris would have lighter skin (and no sun exposure would also make that happen).
Whatever they wind up calling it, I’ll be thinking of it as the Butthurt Awards.
Am I the only person snickering over the ‘gatekeeper to keep it honest’ idea when not all that long ago gate-keepers were the evil plaguing poor writers trying to get their work published?
Everybody actually knows what a web of trust is in terms of non-ideological verification codes. And that’s not what Maynard proposed nor had any intention of proposing. He’s proposing gatekeepers who have to vouch for you to enter the clubhouse, which is deliberate. It’s an advocacy sponsorship system similar to what is used in a fraternity. Having three people vouch for you as a real person neither confirms that you are a real person nor that you are not ballot stuffing. There are other tech security verification systems to establish if you are a bot or not, and none of them include people’s subjective judgement. The web of trust in this case is a blatant keep people out we don’t like device.
They do not care about storytelling. They have never cared about storytelling. They don’t care about a political message overwhelming a story because they’ve never once complained about a conservative or conservative libertarian political message overwhelming a story, not a one of them. And that’s because it’s the nature of the perceived message, not the amount there may or may not be present, that bugs them. That’s why they constantly talk about liberal authors, liberal SJW messages, sexual orientation and gender of characters, Marxist thought police, etc. They’ve all made it very clear what they are doing, which is why they should just call it a conservative SFF award proposal. And why not? They can have one if they want to.
But that means they have to give up their self-appointed position as leaders of all “popular” fandom. Can’t have that now, can we. So it’s an award that judges good storytelling (subjective) without too much message (subjective,) i.e. an ideologically pure award that pretends to virtuous working class down home basicness. It’s an award you can see yourself having a beer with, don’t you know. As long as you have the right friends to get you into the country club.
As for Maynard’s comment, no, he was not clarifying that he was not against Scalzi joining the party of the award. He was clarifying that even though Scalzi does not have the correct politics to be a real fan/SF author and is the number one target of Teddy Beale — the guy they let shape everything while disavowing him — Maynard would generously let Scalzi in to the “award of all fandom,” as provisionally a poorly behaved fan. As if Maynard had the right to decide who is in all fandom or not.
And that’s the whole point of the silliness. Maynard is proposing an award run by self-appointed leaders of fandom, none of whom are going to be liberal of course, who will decide who is trustworthy (i.e. who is a cheating liberal and who is not,) to join their club and then if the wrong folk still get in on the nominations, the judge committee can knock a lot of them out the gate.
Please remember the claims that were made — that a small cabal of rabid liberals rigs award votes with false votes for the winners. And Scalzi was called a leader of this cabal and therefore is a lying crook. That was the accusation.
So now Maynard is saying that even Scalzi, the lying crook who rigs votes, gets to participate in their award that they are trying to make very sure isn’t vote rigged? Because Maynard has given himself the power to keep people out or let them in to the “award of all fandom” and he’s being magnanimous in his lordship over fandom. If the award is on the up and up, then Maynard’s feelings about Scalzi don’t matter and he doesn’t have to reassure anyone that he won’t impede Scalzi’s participation, because Maynard is not ruler of fandom to decree yes or no either way. It’s a puffed up piece of self-importance.
And it’s the kind of discrimination and bigotry that women and non-white authors and fans constantly face — in the industry, at conventions, and on the off chance that they win any awards, in all the geek fields. That they don’t have the right to be there, to publish, to be genuine fans, unless the self-appointed gatekeepers say that it is okay for them to participate. That they didn’t really earn any of their accomplishments, and should never criticize anything, etc. They are talked about as people who are allowed to participate instead of decided to participate themselves. “Even they” can be fans if the real fans say it’s okay. It’s a bigoted crock from the “fake geek girls” to the “SJW cabals” and always has been. So I don’t suppose it’s surprising that it’s a key point of Maynard’s award proposal.
I don’t care how they set up the award, if they do it. But it’s not going to be a storytelling award. It’s an ideological award that is becoming positively Animal Farm-ish in its set-up. And at this point, it’s starting to sound very paranoid, with the circles of trust and elaborate judge panel rules, to keep out those evil liberal vote riggers. It’s silly. As are your continual attempts to declare Scalzi unreasonable for getting pissed at a clear potshot, not so much at him and David Gerrold, but at “those kind of fans” who that crowd wants to demote.
Just call it the Conservative SFF awards, like the libertarian award that already exists, pick a known conservative author with permission from his estate, if needed, for the name, or something generic like the White Star Award, and be straightforward about it. But that would be entirely too tolerant of other forms of fandom, I suppose.
So…basically, this guy and his buddies (and their friends, and their friends, and so on, and so on) want to give out awards based on nebulous criteria known only to themselves. Or am I missing something?
Matt W, at SEPTEMBER 12, 2015 AT 5:11 PM, says:
Well, that’s what Tron Guy says, yes. If TG believes that the web-of-trust thing, if implemented, actually will play out as nothing more than that, he’s… not thinking very clearly. The thing is, we all do believe in good stories—but we don’t all agree on what makes a good story, good. TG has a particular concept of What Makes A Story Good; I’m not sure how coherent his concept-of-good-stories is, mind you, but it’s clear that he does, at the very least, have such a concept. And what TG either misses, or else deliberately rejects, is that his favorite concept-of-good-stories is not the only such concept. If your own particular concept-of-good-stories differs from TG’s concept-of-good-stories, TG thinks you don’t have any concept-of-good-stories.
In TG’s proposal, the whole web-of-trust thing is based on, and entirely dependant on, the Board of Directors for this award’s Foundation. The proposal says that the BoD can tweak the trust levels of anybody at any time; the BoD chooses the members of the Judging Committee, who also have the power to tweak anybody’s trust levels.
Of that large subset of Fandom who dispute the Pups’ received wisdom that ‘Ancillary Justice is SJW messagefic because PRONOUNS’, how many do you think are likely to even be considered as candidates for this award’s Board of Directors?
How many members of the Judging Committee are likely to dispute said received wisdom?
What is the likelihood that a person who accepts said received wisdom, will choose to raise the trust level of any person who rejects said received wisdom?
End result: The web-of-trust thing will end up making this proposal a walled garden, within whose boundaries no wrongfen need apply.
which precluded endless rules-lawyer minmaxing
@Bill Blondeau, you didn’t really MEAN to throw down a gauntlet there, did you?
@Matt W, if the ‘web of trust’ were a verification system, then it would be either/or: somebody trusted says you’re not a bot or a SFF-hating ballot stuff, and that is that. You don’t need “trust levels” for this. What ‘trust levels’ are very good for is allowing people to reward their friends or punish their enemies.
This doesn’t even need to be related to the Puppies, by the way. Long before the current tantrumfest, we had self-appointed SMOFs and people who complained about those kids and their shitty New Wave/cyberpunk/etc that wasn’t real SFF, and of course people who were petty and rude and abused their authority, just like non-fans everywhere. I don’t think much of an awards system that allows somebody to mess with the ‘trust levels’ of people who refused to sleep with them, or who broke up with them, or who disagreed with them in a public forum about the correctness of a One True Pairing in Downbelow Station fanfic. But this one does.
Wow. When I heard of this system (or one very like it) it was presented as a joke. I was absolutely convinced that’s all it was.
And it is, of course. Just not intended as such by TG. He should call the award the ConservaHugo; that would make its purpose transparent to everyone, and connect it with ConservaPedia, which is at its general level of sense.
I was bemused to see, in the comments, someone saying, “Dragoncon is small as cons go.”
I could only think how there’s this universe of small and what I would call midsize fannish gatherings that are not even part of that person’s experience– not on their radar, as the saying goes, and at least in my mind, they far outnumber the comicons and other cons bigger than Dragoncon. But it makes me wonder, if you took all the cons, and graphed them as to size, what the distribution would look like.
Sounds like a question for Randall Monroe, come to think of it…
On “concept of good stories” (to extend on Cubist above).
I bounced off China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station pretty hard. It did nothing for me, and I gave up on it well before the end. Elseweb, someone was discussing books and commented that they loved Perdido Street Station.
My reaction was “That’s great! Glad you found a story that worked for you”.
What strikes me about Jay Maynard’s proposal is that it’s the opposite of geekery. It’s a kind of gate-keeping, or at least setting up an environment where one of us (me, or my colleague on the Web) would be declaratively wrong about liking a book. I don’t like that.
Most years, I like looking at Hugo nominations. I’m less interested in what won (although if it is a story I’ve read, I feel proper chuffed) but in looking at the five good books/stories/shows/zines, I can usually find something I like, and may not have tried. It does me no good if all five stories are variations of the same “man with gun rescues beautiful woman from evil aliens!” — you know, story-driven SFF.
And as a final note: someone suggested calling these awards the “Larry’s” after the acclaimed winner in 2016, 2017, 2018…
I am reading the comments at Blackgate. I don’t know who BruceB is but that guy argues well. All in all, the comment back and forth is rather entertaining – much different than discussions at Correia’s site.
@mythago you didn’t really MEAN to throw down a gauntlet there, did you?
To my enduring shame, no. You have justly reproved me. I spoke unthinkingly – nay, unfeelingly! I know that there are many consenting adults who enjoy these practices, in the privacy of their own gaming groups. My casual dismissal of rules-lawyering and minmaxing – treating them as invalid, inauthentic lifestyle choices – was an utterance of unconsidered privilege.
I am a bad, bad SJW.
This look like an award controlled by an actual cabal. I guess they like cabals when they control them.
I hope they implement it because I’m sure it will provide an unlimited amount of amusement for onlookers. Its going to look really awesome when the rejection committee tosses a book out of the short list and the #6 author just happens to be a buddy of some/all of the committee. Given the Puppy nepotism in the Hugos, that seems likely. I wonder how many books not written by conservative white males will get tossed. Probably toss out a few Tor books to make room for more Baen books. It doesn’t sound like they will care for the next Bujold book though.
I got over the whole rules-lawyering thing after observing a campaign where players kept notebooks of precedents. As a GM, I adopted an anti-precedent rule: “Cute tricks only work once.” That helped, but I also needed “we’ve been playing this way for a while, but I don’t like it, so I’m changing it.”
This works a lot better in a campaign that isn’t about who can smash the hardest or blow things up the best (in the rules-lawyerly campaign mentioned above, it became a matter of who got their Dispell Magic off first). My best adventures were ones the players could not solve with force alone (though force was always part of what they did, since otherwise the player with the BDF would have been unhappy).
I can’t believe no one has suggested the obvious name for the awards of the Association of Storytelling in Science fiction and FANtasy: ASSFANs.
Well, Alisha, I’m an ass fan, and definitely one of the people they want to exclude, in part BECAUSE I’m an ass fan. So maybe not.
I’ll attempt to use a relatively fandom-friendly reference to explain what I think is going on here:
The proposal at BlackGate is Cordelia and the Cordettes attempting to run Sunnyvale High. Including the overemphasis on shoes and fashion.
Oh, wait a minute: Buffy is SJW-friendly. And Cordelia and the Cordettes are the mean girls — most of all, they’re girls. Can’t have that.
Moving my tongue slightly away from my cheek, the various neocanid-analog proposals (and does it ever hurt me to say that, as I’m a dog person not a cat person) seem to be little more than “We’re going to replace your clique with our clique, because our clique is righteous and pretty, and your clique wears the wrong shoes and dates the wrong kind of boys. Then we can vote for a really good theme for the Homecoming Dance.” I don’t see an improvement in there anywhere…
Does Maynard think that Terry Pratchett is still alive? That’s very odd phrasing.
No, it should be the Association of Science-fiction Storytelling, not the Hugos, Or the slightly-LESs well-known Nebulas.
Or, ASSHOLES, for short.
Besides, there’s nothing wrong with a little muscular man-ass. Or man-abs. Or sweat-lathered man-pecs. Why do you think that Dwayne Johnson sword-and-sandal movies sell so well?
And at the risk of sounding like a piggish reptile-brain-thinking male, I have to admit that I personally, as a het guy, notice women’s buttocks more (how does Black Widow fit into those pants?), though I’m perfectly happy to settle for Dwayne Johnson kicking some generic bad guy’s teeth in while shirtless and in a loincloth.
Because, dude. The Rock kicks ass, and he’s a damn good stage-fighter.
Anyway, if there’s to be an alternative to the Hugos, I’d rather it not have a bunch of fucking gatekeepers telling people who is and isn’t a nerd, because I, a liberal who thinks that a nerd or geek is anyone who identifies as such, would probably be deemed “non-geek” (which, translated from Puppy doublespeak, means “not a right-wing shitheel”), despite my literally tens of thousands of hours spent in SFF fandom obsession (Star Trek, Star Wars, Mass Effect, Halo, Brandon Sanderson, Our Lord Scalzi, Firefly, Doctor Who before Moffat ruined it with his crap writing and sexism, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, and my favorite anime ever, Princess Jellyfish, among others).
Actually, hold that thought.
Puppies, I triple dog dare you to call me not a nerd, to decry me as a fake and a poser, to proclaim yourselves the gatekeepers of nerddom and to cast me out as a lesser being.
I triple-dog dare you, you Puppy cowards. Come on! Call me an un-nerdy…I dunno, mainstream person? What’s the opposite of a nerd? Because I’ve never been anything else.
They didn’t go with a quiz. Now there’s some sort of loyalty oath you have to sign, plus the levels of trust vouching. Is this weird or what?
Oh, and our old friend Maynard has apparently not read most of the stuff he’s condemning as not the right sort of story to win his proposed award. Apparently, it’s not even a conservative SFF award. It’s a whatever Maynard has bothered to read and thinks is good and sufficiently conservative award.
I don’t think this proposal is going to be taken up by the Puppies. While it is appropriately Byzantine, it’s entirely too haphazard, and Maynard keeps pretending to reject them while parroting their talking points. I think they will stick with the women’s slate that they’re pretending isn’t a slate, while the Rabids will just go with taunting and threatening people.
It would be better if they could have an award, though. Maybe somebody else will come up with an actual conservative SFF award for them to play with.
Good point. I didn’t mean my addressing in such a pigeonholing fashion myself and don’t have such absolutist tastes, but was more reacting to the implication that apparently those icky SJWs are incapable of appreciating good stories, or evaluating authors’ works according to such a central conceit.
Okay, from what I’ve gleaned from the conversation here, it sounds a bit like this guy is attempting to come up with the anti-Hugos or something – a set of awards which are designed to deal with all the problems he can perceive with the Hugo system, and to be effectively un-gameable by anyone he doesn’t agree with. Which, yeah, sure, have fun, knock yourself out mate. Far be it from me to upset his little intellectual exercise. But an intellectual exercise is all it is at present.
When it actually starts being a Real Thing, then I might start paying some attention to it. Until then, though, it’s just an idea in the minds of the dreamers, no more real than the constant threats of “Going Galt” on the part of the glibertarians, or the dreams of establishing a men-only island on the part of various MRA types. Life has a lot more interesting and crucial things to be paying attention to than one bloke’s dream of creating the ultimate “fandom” award which is going to turn out to be the XYZ Award for Things Wot My Mates Like.
Turning off comments for the night. They’ll be back up in the morning!
Update: Comments back on. I also see over at Black Gate that Mr. Maynard is complaining that I’ve somehow misinterpreted him. Ha ha hah ha! No, that’s not it.
On the one hand, Maynard is hoping to create an award that truly represents all of fandom, not just the putative clique that has been controlling the Hugos.
On the other hand, he understands that if voting on this award is open to anyone who sticks up his or her hand and says “yo, I’m a fan”, then it is vulnerable to manipulation by an ideologically narrow crowd of people scheming to vote their own agenda in large-enough numbers to overwhelm the fans who are submitting their opinions in good faith.
Good heavens, why would anyone think that kind of scheme might happen? I mean, what precedent would they be thinking of? blink blink
Anyway, good luck squaring that circle, dude.
Yes, you have, at least in what you tweeted. The web of trust is only there to demonstrate that the guy casting John Scalzi’s vote is indeed John Scalzi. Period. It’s to prevent sock puppets and ballot box stuffing. Anyone who’s used Phil Zimmerman’s PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) encryption program has participated in just this same kind of web of trust.
Now, how about arguing against something that I actually said? Not that I expect to get a fair hearing out of you or anyone else around here; I never have before…
“Yes, you have, at least in what you tweeted.”
Nope, not at all, Jay! But I certainly grant that you either can’t or won’t understand the implications of the process you’ve constructed. Which is a different thing entirely. I do notice that many, many people over at Black Gate have pointed out some of the problems with your plan. You do seem to be doing a fine job of ignoring or minimizing them. I’m not going to bother to replicate the same discussion here; this is one place where redundancy isn’t needed.
“Not that I expect to get a fair hearing out of you or anyone else around here; I never have before…”
Oh, Jay. Poor Jay. Would you like another nail for your cross? I don’t know if you’ve totally secured yourself on it, yet.
I’ll note that your definition of “fair hearing” has been, and seems to be now, “Everyone nodding their heads at your sage, impeccably thought-through wisdom, with no other commentary other than polite applause,” since whenever anyone does point out flaws in your argument, your primary reaction is an affronted flounce. In which case, no, you won’t get a “fair hearing” here. You’re apparently not getting a “fair hearing” over at Black Gate, either, it seems, since your comments there have lately taken on a querulous “why is everybody making me the bad guy” tone.
Consider the possibility, Jay, that if everywhere you go people are not giving you a “fair hearing,” perhaps your definition of “fair hearing” is the problem.
Consider also the idea that you are not in charge of this discussion, or indeed any other outside your own site, if you have one; no one, and certainly not I, am obliged to discuss your award scheme only on your terms. If you don’t like it, well, I suppose you can perform another affronted flounce.
That said, as I noted before, I certainly encourage you to try out your award scheme and see where it gets you; go ahead and prove me wrong! You are going to contribute the time, money and effort to make it happen, yes? Or are you just the “idea guy,” leaving it to others to implement?
Jay, you explicitly explained your rationale for the system as:
That is the only statement of purpose you provided, and thus the only one to which people can give a hearing, fair or otherwise. That is “something [you] actually said”. You didn’t say anything about ballot stuffing. You didn’t say anything about verifying identity.
Perhaps you feel your proposal is more transparent than it actually is because you are burdened by the knowledge of What You Really Meant, but those of us who live outside your head can only contend with What You Really Said. I suggest you go back over and read through what you wrote, forgetting to the best of your ability what you know about the proposal and reading only what is there on the screen and everything that is there on the screen.
You might have a better idea why so many people are reacting to your modest proposal the way that we are.
@Jay Maynard – I’ve read your proposal several times, and went back and reread it after your comment here. I can’t find anywhere, before this comment (and the similar one at BG), where you suggest that the web of trust is designed to prevent voter fraud. Nothing in the preamble suggests voter fraud is an issue, nor does anything in the “The Rational” section. The web of trust is one of the two major differences between your proposed award and the Hugo, it seems fair to me to assume that the major changes you suggest are intended to address the problems you identify. If voter fraud is a major problem, why not address it in the proposal? If not, why include this complicated mechanic to address a non-problem?
Isn’t it more reasonable to assume that the change in mechanics is attended to address what you identify as the problem: “Over time, the Hugo voters have considered other factors than the most fundamental when evaluating a work. They have chosen works based on their political emphasis, or the race or nationality of the author, or other criteria aside from that which defines SF/F. Attempts to turn the Hugo Awards back to the foundations of SF/F have been met with derision and outright hatred. Despite their previous claims to the contrary, the Hugo Awards voters and others now say that the Hugos represent the World Science Fiction Society’s choices, not those of fandom at large.”? That is that people are voting on the awards for what you believe are the wrong reasons and that this mechanic is a way to keep people who vote on awards for the wrong reasons from being able to vote on this award? Something I would shorten to: this mechanic is designed to act as a gatekeeper. (Just as the mechanic of the judges being able to throw out nominated works for being too message heavy is.)
I actually reloaded the page before posting and saw that Scalzi and Alexandra Erin had both posted in that time, so have deleted my redundant comment. Instead I will just say: Alexandra, I was delighted to see you posting at File770 (where I have read the posts and comments from roughly 4 May to 12 Jul of this year, four to six weeks after they were posted, in a vain attempt to catch up to “today”) and the links to your blog, because a few months ago I read the entire Shapely Prose archive and enjoyed your posts there and the mentions of your fine parodic efforts. Since I was five to eight years late to that particular party, I wasn’t expecting to actually get to read any of your work. So, um, yay Puppies for catalyzing that, I suppose.
Wow, one side of this fracas (my side!) is so sure that they’re right. High fives all around. Explaining the other side’s intentions to them. Shout downs, insults, no attempts at empathy or understanding or anything remotely constructive. Mr. Maynard holds out an olive branch (“even Scalzi and Gerrold” was clearly meant as “I want my system to include everyone, even Scalzi and Gerrold who are the SFF personalities I like least.”) and the branch gets slapped down, then stomped on.
I’m a lefty progressive. I want more variety, more literary qualities in the SF&F I read. I tend to prefer left-leaning narratives. I thought the Puppies slate this year was an unfortunate misappropriation of the rules. I’m satisfied with the No Awards result (though I really, honestly don’t care much about the Hugos at all.) I think Vox Day is pretty execrable. I visit this blog daily; I like the stacks of ARCs, the Big Ideas, the long-form ruminations by our host, the back-and-forth in the comments. But this is just depressing; my liberal values are, at root, about compassion, and if that’s not where I’m locating my motives, I’ve lost my way. I think I’m out, at least for a good while. So long and thanks for all the fish.
A friend pointed out that a tweet likening this to the Calvin & Hobbes “”No Grlz” club could be misinterpreted. (Not a 140 character person) It is the (Insert Name Here) awards that I find amusing. I mean, bless their hearts and I hope they have fun with it but with every mention I picture Calvin and Hobbes in the tree house.
I myself am very unhappy with Hugo awards going to works that are not to my taste so I am going to start my own, highly coveted, “Not Adept” (Apocalyptic, Dystopian Earth, Present Tense) Awards. Voting will be very democratic, open to everyone who signs the oath never to read ADEPT works…and provides a year’s book receipts verifying reading habits…with complete credit card numbers… Ya’ know- just to build trust.
Once again I find myself wondering if this person has ever actually read any Science Fiction? The genre has always been used to hold a distorted mirror up to society and discuss the issues of the day. The past “greats” all used it as a platform to express their political and social ideals. Yet here we have another writer claiming that to factor this into the judging of a work is moving away from the core of the genre. I can’t be the only one bothered by this.
“the branch gets slapped down, then stomped on.”
You and I have very different opinions as to what the branch in question was being used for.
You’ve also apparently, and without question, accepted a “sides” framing to the issue here, which is not especially smart. As I’ve noted elsewhere, saying that there are “sides” to this sort of nonsense is like saying West Virginia is a “side” in the United States. It’s not; it’s a state, out of many. Likewise, Mr. Maynard’s proposal isn’t about on “side” or another. Whether he wishes to acknowledge it or not, he’s carrying water for a small segment of people in science fiction aggrieved that other people don’t like what they like as much as they do. And that’s fine, but it doesn’t constitute a “side.”
This should make things easier for you, Matt, since it means I’m not on your “side.” I’m me, speaking only for me, and I say: I don’t need him, or you, or anyone else, to tell me where I stand in science fiction and fantasy, and I don’t need a branch offered either in peace or as a weapon. I’m not “even” here. I’m just here. And no one can tell me whether I belong or not.
To be clear: I’m not about to try to tell anyone they’re wrongfan having wrongfun. You need not establish your geek or SF fan cred with me or anyone else. Hell, when you put your politics on the shelf and write stories, you do pretty well.
But Matt’s right: I held out an olive branch and got beaten about the head and shoulders with it. Not that I expect you’ll accept, but I would be pleased f you would serve as one of the folks who can trust an unlimited number of people; I’m certain you are indeed John Scalzi and nobody else. I’ll make the same offer to David Gerrold, even though I still think he’s a jerk. (And I’ll continue to say that even though, unlike rich Hollywood types, I can’t just dash off a check for $2800 as he demands.)
I don’t demand that people agree with everything, or indeed anything, I say. I do, however demand that people acknowledge my opinion is something I have a right to hold, whether or not they agree with it, and that it doesn’t automatically make me a nasty eeeeevil hateful person. I don’t even get that around here.
Matt W.: I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m not explaining Jay’s intentions to him. I’m pointing out that when he took the initial opportunity to lay out his intentions in a blog post, he said a bunch of things and a lot of people—fools that we are, apparently!—took him at his word that he meant them.
You seem to be against the idea that people should try to guess at what another person meant by something instead of listening to them. I agree! I’m not a mindreader. I’m not a diviner or oracle or soothsayer. I don’t know what’s in other people’s hearts and minds.
So it’s not reasonable for anyone to suggest I should just know that Jay Maynard’s intention in creating the system he outlined was to prevent voter fraud when he himself stated another rationale for the whole kit and/or its associated kaboodle.
If he wants to say now, “Oops, I misspoke. I got so hung up on this other stuff that isn’t even relevant to the system that I forgot to explain myself,” I’d certainly be willing to give him a fair hearing! But the fact that he doesn’t seem to recognize that this is what happened suggests that he is either being disingenuous or he simply honestly fails to recognize what he has done.
I don’t have to speak to Secret Intentions he may or may not harbor to say that a person who writes what he wrote as his rationale and then insists that he’s being misconstrued when people take it at face value is not the sort of person I would trust to set up and run a system with so much inherent potential for bias.
Whatever his intentions are, good or bad, he cannot correct for a skew that he is not aware of, can he?
So, after multiple diatribes claiming that members of Worldcon have committed numerous crimes over many years, I am not, strangely enough, inclined to cut those accusers any slack.
In the admittedly improbable event of those accusers either producing evidence to substantiate those claims, or apologising for their lies, I would treat it on its merits. In the meantime, however, I have no intention of agreeing to allow puppidum to carry on lying without noting the fact that puppidum, yet again, is lying.
What bewilders me is the way in which puppidum manages to convince itself that it’s unfair to point out that someone is lying…
“Not that I expect you’ll accept, but I would be pleased if you would serve as one of the folks who can trust an unlimited number of people”
Hooray! I would be more equal than others!
Jay, you’re simply not listening. This “olive branch” is something you have no authority to offer. It’s not for you to decide that “even” I or David Gerrold or [enter name here] is sufficiently fannish enough to play your in your particular Reindeer Game; the fact that your particular proposed Reindeer Game requires anyone to declare someone else sufficiently “fan enough” to participate is philosophically noxious. No one has the right to declare themselves an arbiter of someone else’s fandom. I certainly don’t.
Your “Web of Trust” is very simply a system of control and of exclusion. How nice of you to offer me unlimited access to this system of control and exclusion! My first act would be to “trust” every single person in the world, thereby rendering your Web of Trust utterly pointless for its purpose, which is, again, control and exclusion. It might be simpler in that case just to chuck it.
Jay, the fact you want credit for graciously allowing that I and other people you might not like for whatever reason are part of fandom and therefore able to participate in your game of excluding others is arrogant; I’m not inclined to grant it. The fact that you don’t appear to comprehend that your game is explicitly designed to exclude people who others decide are not “fan enough,” not to mention stories that aren’t “SF enough,” suggests rather strongly that you might not actually be competent to offer it. You simply don’t appear to understand what you’re asking for, and you don’t appear to understand why other people don’t want it.
You want to extend a true olive branch to me? Create an award scheme that doesn’t so obviously attempt to exclude people and literature that you don’t like and understand. Go on, impress me.
“I do, however demand that people acknowledge my opinion is something I have a right to hold”
You absolutely have a right to your petty, shitty, awful, exclusionary, inherently bigoted and ultimately perfectly terrible opinion, Jay.
And once again you miss the point, John. I’m not saying how fannish you are. You’re absolutely right. That’s not in my power to grant or withhold.
The purpose is not control or exclusion. It’s verification that the person in question is a real person. Period. If you can’t or won’t understand that, there’s not much else I can say.
Jay, let me give you a tip: when you say the things that were in your rationale, that’s accusing people of wrongfun. Anything that boils down to “you care about things I don’t think should matter, you are blatantly stirring hate up against me, and you’re lying to the world about how and why you make your choices” is a wrongfun accusation. Likewise, engaging in substantial criticism of a work about which you don’t actually know anything is also an accusation of wrongfun, as well as what a bunch of Christians and others who share the ethical priority will call ‘bearing false witness”. Hope this helps.
Forgot Your Name: I’m Bruce B. over there. Thanks for kind words. :)
“The purpose is not control or exclusion.”
It sure is! Again, the fact you can’t see it suggests you’re not competent to offer this particular proposal. Try again. Maybe something simpler.
John, please quit telling me what I’m thinking.
I’m telling you what you’re not thinking, Jay. The difference is subtle! But it’s there. Try to see it.
The Web of Trust, as described, seems to be trying to solve a slightly different problem than the one apparently faced here: vouching that someone is person eligible for voting. A web in which person A vouches for B and B for C and then C for D, E, F, Q, X and Z has the problem that the weakest point allows a bad actor to insert nodes that should not be trusted.
The levels makes that more difficult; only people who have built up trust can change trust levels, making it harder for a bad actor to break in. Yet this is not impossible, and that’s why this system has administrators to fix any problems. Yet my question is, why is verification of voters being distributed to others in the voting pool in the first place? Is it to reduce the burden on the administrators? I applaud the intention, especially if they are volunteers, but it seems to me that the awards should be administered well, or not at all. Wouldn’t it be better to run voter verification centrally, as the other main function of the system, voting, has to be collected centrally? It seems to me this system is not a good fit for described problem.
(And that’s why people think it might have other effects, intended or otherwise, rather than just being a cool uncentralised system of verifying identity)
Mr Maynard the things you are saying do not make sense. If the purpose of the trust mechanism is to verify that someone is a real person and not a bot or a sock puppet then there is no need for an elaborate system by which a person can earn or lose “trust points” based on their verifiability as a real person. Whether I’m a person is a binary. I am either a unique individual or not a unique individual. I’m not an individual on a sliding scale of 1-10.
If the purpose of the web of trust is solely to determine that Person X is in fact (a) a person and (b) the X that they purport to be, then the mechanism provided has some flaws. On the one hand, it allows an arbitrary other person to declare “no they are not”, without having to justify it. But the thing is, if in fact, they are not that person, then the person who vouched for them and *every person they vouched for, and so on* should be pulled automatically, because clearly, they lied. Similarly, artificially limiting the number of people who a person can vouch for (unless they are more equal than others) doesn’t help with proving identity, it just helps keep the community arbitrarily close in makeup to the seed community.
Secondly, if you want a partially-juried award, you might want to look at the Ennies, which have gone from not being a thing to being a really major thing by combining a jury to select nominees, and public voting for both the jury and the finalists. Oh, and they don’t have you prove your identity, either (and yes, someone who wanted to could write a program to block vote — for some reason it doesn’t seem to have happened).
Thirdly, general rule of thumb. If lots of people are “misinterpreting” what you said, or “missing the point”, consider that the problem may be in the way the thought was expressed, and not in the listeners/readers.
There was a comment back a day or so mentioning that SSL uses “web of trust”. Um, nope! SSL uses explicitly-trusted gatekeepers – CAs (Certificate Authorities). The particular set of CAs trusted by any particular browser defaults to whatever the vendor of that browser chooses. Users can change their own trusted CAs as they see fit, but that will have no effect on any other users’ trusted CAs (totally unlike a web of trust)
What you are actually describing is a system for admitting new gatekeepers by requiring them to earn (and keep) the approval of existing gatekeepers.
Jay, I’ve got to get to work, but I’ll address a couple issues here really quickly. The first is that you’re being critiqued for WHAT YOU’VE WRITTEN not WHAT YOU’RE THINKING. If you feel that you’re being misunderstood, maybe it’s time for a revised draft. (My_Awards_Scheme_2.0) The simple fact of the matter is that no plan survives contact with anyone, friend or enemy – someone will always find reasons, some valid and some not, to criticize. So stop whining, deal with the criticisms, and give us the revised plan. While making sure that it reflects what you really mean.
Second, I think you need to say something more/better than “Good storytelling,” First, because the phrase “Good Storytelling” smells badly of Puppyish code for “no damned SJWs” and second because… see my post above about what I want in a story. You might also look at the debate we had at ESRs blog and find my attempt at a manifesto, which is one of the last 10-20 posts in that argument. You’re addressing a bunch of professional writers and very, very well-educated readers; if you don’t know the difference between world-building and setting, you’d better learn it fast if you want your proposal to fly.
Lastly, It seems like you’ve decided that it’s awfully important to include fans from both sides of the canine divide and that’s a really good first step, and I’m very glad and happy that you’ve made that decision. (And I don’t think you’ve gotten nearly enough credit for your attempt to cross the divide.) But now you need to actually learn what the “enemy” is concerned about and address those issues if you want your reward to be respected by all sides of fandom.
I was a librarian for years and I’ve never heard a patron (or a librarian) tell someone they need to read a sf book because it has the correct PC message. They will say great characters, fun book, really makes you think, awesome plot, big surprises, couldn’t put it down, can’t wait for the next one, flawed but you need to read it anyway because there is a lot of good stuff in there. The idea that this book or that book is popular, or passed around by word of mouth, because of the pc message is the idea of someone who has never served the book reading public.
“Real fans” of SF is also bizarre. There are readers who prefer fantasies, hard SF, paranormal, only books written by men, or by women, yes, nearly everyone within the genre has preferences. Some readers are more catholic about their reading choices, some are not.
For libraries reviews mean more than awards. We will mention “won the Nebula” but the public would rather hear that is an interesting read or something about the book. I think the awards are more for writers than readers. If writers want a new award and want it focused on a sub-genre, fine. Don’t pretend it is for all readers. It isn’t. No book is.
I just wish that writers would stop eating their own. More books for all the many tastes in reading, please. You got readers? That’s an award right there.
Andy — about SSL’s web of trust or lack thereof: this is getting off-topic, but I would agree that the ssl protocol uses a web of trust, however small. Your browser trusts the CAs. The CAs can sign certificates asserting someone’s identity, or some other property. Sometimes those people or certificates can then sign other certificates, and so on. I would call that a web of trust. It’s a different kind of web of trust than, say, PGP, but still a web of trust. X trusts Y trusts Z. Okay, maybe it’s not a web, maybe it’s a Tree of Trust. For the purposes of those commenting here, it’s probably close enough.
So, this club, it is going to be called “The Ancient Society of No Homers”, right? Okay, I guess, have fun in the clubhouse guys.
My specialty from my first career (the one I abandoned to do something less confrontational like suing banks and loan sharks and car dealers and multimedia conglomerates) involved finding, and often exploiting, loopholes in gatekeepers and verification networks. I laugh in the general direction of anyone who claims that PGP is any kind of workable or reliable paradigm of a “Web of Trust” (the laughter isn’t classified, but the reasons for the laughter are — still, over two decades later).
All it would take to utterly blow up the system implied/proposed by Mr Maynard is one vindictive ex-spouse or ex-significant-other who had any one of (a) continuing access to accounts, (b) sufficient knowledge of personal details (such as mother’s maiden name, etc.) to fool an automated gatekeeper, or (c) a good enough lawyer to get any or all of the above. <sarcasm> But fandom is such a serious endeavour that nobody would ever dream of, let alone engage in, that kind of conduct… GamerGate to the contrary. </sarcasm>
Notice that I didn’t even have to invoke active ill intent by a gatekeeper… such as, hypothetically, V.D. becoming one, directly or via sock-puppetry or such…
Security systems are no more secure than the people involved in them. To say the least, the various “proposals” that one might reasonably infer from Mr Maynard’s earnest-but-more-than-vaguely-condescending piece at BlackGate reflect more than a few, umm, insecurities…
I don’t think that Jay has given any thought to any of the practicalities of how such an award could be administered; calling it a ‘Web of Trust’ may sound cool but it’s nonsense.
I’m English, and from this side of the Pond it looks like part and parcel of US politics in which Republicans have convinced themselves that any voter who doesn’t vote for them either doesn’t exist or is somewhere close to treason; we are back to the US culture wars which Puppidum imported into Worldcon, and then got upset when they discovered that the members of Worldcon, who vote for the Hugos, don’t accept that Worldcon really means UScon.
I appreciate that it is hard for Puppidum to wrap its head around the fact that Worldcon is Worldcon, but as a method of demonstrating that Puppidum has no understanding whatsoever of fandom it works very well indeed. It’s also an excellent demonstration of the fact that Puppidum isn’t into actually getting off their sofas to do something; cons are very hard work, and the reason that Worldcon has prestige is because people have been getting off their sofas and working their asses off to achieve it for many decades.
I do understand that Puppidum doesn’t like people pointing out that they are trying to freeload on the coat tails of the people who really do the work, but expecting people not to point out blindingly obvious facts is carrying optimism too far. The reality is that Puppidum has been libelling all the people who have contributed, if not blood, then lots of sweat and some tears to getting Worldcons together for decades, and is now apparently bewildered and confused by the fact that those volunteers react as anyone would react to being abused and lied about.
And then someone comes along and suggests an award with the paraphernalia associated with a police state to ensure that the right people vote for the right books, and is now bewildered and confused by people being angry about proposals to ensure that only the right people are allowed to vote on books which have been deemed to be the right sort of books by the right unidentified people.
It reads like something created by Monty Python, and rejected for being too implausible…
(Darn, hit “post” prematurely.)
Then, too, there’s a side issue. How do the Alice Sheldons and Paul Linebargers of the world earn “trust” in this proposed web… without creating a loophole so large that it fundamentally destroys the purpose of the proposed web? It’s one thing for a Nobel-Prize-winning economist to be a fanboy; it’s another for those in other professions, lines of work, and personal circumstances. Consider, just as a hypothetical, an ardent fan whose day job exposes him to something that sends him into Witness Protection — and that’s just a particularly easy and obvious instance.
In all fairness to Jay, he’s apparently stricken the rationale for the ‘Web of Trust’ and rethinking it. Given that the ‘web of trust’ proposal is what generated all the heat and light here, I’m happy to give him the space to rethink it.
While a casual glance at the ‘web of trust’ combined with the jabs at the Hugos made the end result patiently obvious from the outside (the web, along with the jury, would function to keep the ‘wrong sorts’ of works out, no matter how many trusted people nominated them — and the people nominating those works should feel nervous about their continued participation), I suspect it wasn’t as obvious from the inside.
Among other things, if you’re down there trying to put an idea together you (1) know what you want and (2) generally aren’t thinking ‘worst case scenario’ at that stage.
On the other hand, the jab at Scalzi and Gerrod was poisoning the well, and then acting like an innocent lamb unfairly maligned when called on it is…..come on, Jay. I’m totally willing to give you the benefit of the doubt on the system you’re putting together — it’s a work in progress, and it’s gonna have it’s twists and turns and wrong directions — but gratuitous insults? Please.
And on the gripping hand — as I’ve been following the comments (I really am 100% behind you putting together your own award if you feel there’s a need for it! Too many people sit idly by, rather than standing up and doing) — I have noted you badmouthing books you’ve never read. Not just Scalzi, either.
What’s up with that? It’s one thing to bounce off a book and figure it’s not for you. It’s another entirely to declare the faults of a book you’ve never even cracked open!
I figure you’re gonna be one of the jury, right? Your awards, so makes sense you’re gonna be one of the folks with the ability to decide a book should get bounced. So hearing you declaim a book as ‘message fic’ (like Ancillary Justice) without having so much as leafed through a copy — that doesn’t inspire confidence in your jury system.
I don’t vote on books I haven’t read. I don’t badmouth or praise books I haven’t read. I certainly don’t go running around and claiming a book I didn’t read didn’t deserve an award.
It made me really skeptical about your goals, Jay. Because one of the books you’re claiming is the impetuous for making this award is a book you think is awful, but haven’t read. How did you come to that conclusion? And going forward, why should we trust your judgement on books? You’ve openly judged works unread.
Reading Mr Maynard’s proposal was an exercise in deja vu, specifically the part of Das Kapital in which Mr Marx tries to create money that isn’t money, a worker’s scrip that functions exactly like money only different because REASONS.
Mr Maynard’s “Not A Hugo” award is exactly the same sort of exercise. I predict he will have about as much joy with that as Mr Marx did with his scrip idea. (Don’t tell the Puppies, though, because they would have to excoriate Mr Maynard as one of the communists lurking under the bed.)
With $20, a blog, and access to a mailing service, Mr Maynard can create any award he wants, with any criteria that pleases him. Go to the local WalMart, buy a bunch of rubber duckies or whatever, run a contest, and mail out the awards to the lucky Ducky winners, perhaps with a nice letter/certificate explaining what they’ve won and why. Tada! You’ve got your award.
There is absolutely no gatekeeper, no law, no part of state or federal code that prevents Mr Maynard and/or his peeps from showering their favorite authors or stories with their own tailored honors. I wish them well with it, and if they garner a reputation for finding and awarding interesting work, that would be awesome for everyone.
I support them trying; I think this is far more constructive than what they’ve been doing; if it actually turns out to be a useful award pointing out goods, that would be awesome, but I do think that it’s kind of hilarious how much their jury functions like the Guardian Council in Iran.
Just to clarify things. Web of Trust is a term of art in computer science, and has nothing to do with (as several people have pointed out) how much you trust someone. It simply has to do with identity verification/electronic signatures.
(And no, the secure (world wide) web—ironically—does not use a web of trust; it uses a central signing authority. The whole point of the web of trust is that you don’t need a central signing authority.)
People seem to be getting this confused with the trust levels part of the proposal. I’ve only read the proposal summary at file770, but these two elements seem to be completely unrelated. The names are confusing, but the concepts are separate. Two completely different notions of “trust”. The trust levels are the part* that makes this whole thing ridiculous. The web-of-trust is…a decent idea, but with some technical limitations that make it problematic. Like, people have to learn how to use the right software, and have to know how to keep their private keys private.
I’ve worked with groups that use a web of trust. In particular, the Debian project, which makes the largest independent, not-associated-with-any-company flavor of Linux. For a group of techies, a web of trust works quite well. But it requires specialized software that your average fan may find intimidating. For example, you can’t use Gmail or other webmail providers (at least not without a great deal of difficulty), because the mail system has to be able to see your private key, and you do not want Google or anyone else to have access to your private key. (And Gmail wouldn’t know what to do with your private key even if it could see it.) And that’s just the most obvious problem.
But really, the only problem with the web-of-trust part of the proposal is technical limitations/difficulty-of-use. The trust levels are completely separate and unrelated. Bitch about the trust levels all you want—I will too. But don’t complain about the web-of-trust part until you learn enough to know what you’re complaining about. Or leave the complaining about that to the experts, like me. :)
* Or, at least, one of the parts.
Look there’s nothing inherently wrong with tightly controlling either which works are considered or how they are chosen for an award. Nor is there anything inherently wrong with an award that is a widely accessible popular contest. There are lots of perfectly respectable juried awards with limited criteria and nominating procedures. There are lots of perfectly respectable awards voted on by some subset of the general public.
The problem here is that this proposal appears to be trying to do both things at the same time. Or more confusingly, claiming to be the latter while showing every evidence of being organized as the former.
So, in Mr. Maynard’s view, criticism is censorship; being told “your opinion is silly/dumb/contradictory” is exactly the same as being told “you are not allowed hold that opinion”, and would-be critics have a moral obligation to Mr. Maynard to assure him that they cherish his ‘right’ to hold opinions. However, while it is wrong for others to dictate to Mr. Maynard what opinions are correct, he, and he alone, is permitted to dictate what opinions other people ‘have a right to hold’; specifically, the belief that Mr. Maynard is a nasty, evil or hateful person is not one of those opinions, and nobody has a right to infer or believe any such thing for any reason.
Hm. I guess I can see why somebody who thinks he has the right to tell others what they are permitted to think and say might get mixed up and believe that other people are doing the same to him.
When I read the proposal on Black Gate, I thought it was a parody. Then I got on File 770 and Twitter and saw people talking about it as if it had been for real. So I asked on Twitter and was told, yes, it was for real, a sincere proposal, not an amusing satire of an imaginary Puppy award proposal.
It was the juror panel that can disqualify any nominees Just Because and the “voter eligibilily” procedure, including the “levels of trust,” that made me think it was a parody. I thought those were so funny, it didn’t occur to me that the person writing those was serious about them.
Oh, well. This has been happening to me a lot throughout this Puppy mess. I read something, think it’s a parody of Puppying–and then find out, no, it’s sincere Puppyspeak, intended to be taken seriously.
I must learn to stop seeing irony where it does not exist and is not intended.
You know, I reread the whole proposal and all the comments over there, and I say….give him a bit of time to regroup.
I don’t think he really realized how badly he shot himself in the foot. Not the proposal, not even the trust stuff, but just…I think the insulting, insinuating elements went totally unnoticed. He poisoned the well from the get-go, insulting quite a few people (directly and indirectly) — including myself, whom Jay doesn’t know from Adam! (He as much told me that I can’t judge quality books, that sci-fi books I liked are awful, message-only garbage, and that I lack taste or discrimination).
He didn’t mean to. He’d probably be appalled if, spouting that off in a bar, I pointed out what he’d done — and undoubtedly be apologetic.
I say lay off the man and let him breathe and think a bit. Nobody really reacts or thinks well if they’re feeling dog piled, rightly or wrongly. You got into a defensive crouch and double down, because you’re feeling hammered and can’t get a moment to think. Let him work on Version 2.0, hopefully without the barbs, and see where it goes.
If nothing else, the man is trying to build something and that should be encouraged.
As noted, I’d be delighted for him to propose something better than his original proposal. I’m certainly not planning to chase him around about it.
A Web-of-Trust also does NOT solve the problem of people voting more than once. I can have more than one vouched for PGP key, for example…
Enh, it’s a rainy Sunday. I’m going long:
1) Ancillary Justice is a great, crackling story with action and great science questions and political space opera. It’s wonderfully written with a style reminiscent of Le Guin and Clarke. The lack of gender identity in the language of the ruling empire is a small part of the world-building and the least remarkable thing about the novel (and something that has been done frequently in SF in the past.)
2) Mr. Maynard has not read Ancillary Justice.
3) Mr. Maynard declares Ancillary Justice a badly told story based purely on his political views. Because he so judges stories, even when he has not read them, he assumes that’s what everybody else does and that stories with liberal authors or themes must be bad storytelling, at least in the current day. And thus, when they are liberal fans whom he assumes does this with Ancillary Justice and others — because he knows what they are thinking but we don’t know what he is thinking, you see — they are wrongfans who’ve perverted the Hugo Awards.
4) I’ve been a fan since I was a little girl. And all my life, I’ve been told that I am not a real fan because I’m female. Once you get past the ignorant teenagers of adolescence, that message has come from people with Mr. Maynard’s expressed political views. And when you call them on it, they claim you don’t have the right to do so and have magical banning powers and are destroying SFF. All of that crap Mr. Maynard put in his award proposal. Half of his award proposal is a critique of “wrongfans” and “wrongauthors” and what they’ve done to the Hugos.
5) There are numerous software programs to provide verification that people are actually people, not bots. Every time we have to do one of those verification boxes, etc. You don’t need people to vouch for the same. You don’t need “levels of trust” once you’ve verified that the person is not a bot. The web of trust is a thought police system to make sure only politically conservative fans get in. It is not about fandom. (And no award represents all of fandom anyway.)
6) If some of the “liberal” people slip by, then you have the thought police set of jurors to throw the “liberal” choices out. Because if there are any liberal political views, like people are equal, it is bad storytelling by a wrong author, instead of conservative political views which is good storytelling by a right author. The entire proposal is for a political award, not a writing award.
So freaking call it what it is. A set of awards for conservative SFF. There’s nothing wrong with having such an award that awards what you like that pushes your political views. You can have your web of trust, loyalty oath and set of thought police judges to keep it intellectually pure and away you go. It’s your insistence that it’s an award for “all fandom” — that you’ll be representing me — that is the crap that’s getting you flack, Maynard, and no “compassion” for its prejudice.
I do not have to put my politics on a shelf to be a real fan, just as you don’t put your politics on a shelf, Mr. Maynard. I do not judge the books I read purely on their politics, as you insist I and others do, and even if I did, it wouldn’t make me a wrong fan. You, as you’ve expressed it, do judge books solely on politics, which is why you won’t read Ancillary Justice. Because, once again, there’s been no commentary about how a particular book isn’t a good story because it’s too much of a conservative screed. And because you have stated bluntly that because of your politics, you won’t read books that seem to you to have liberal politics.
You can hold all the opinions you want. But so can we, including the opinion that your opinion is crappy and exclusionary. “You have to be nice to me” is not a demand that is ever going to be met, because it’s not a right you have. “You have to not say my views are exclusionary and harmful” is not a demand that is ever going to be met, because it’s not a right you have.
And a right that you really, really don’t have is to declare that you’re building an award that will represent all of fandom, while calling my fandom bad and poor, and outlining a process that will throw anybody or their choices that don’t match your political views out the door, and then insist that people don’t get angry with you about it. (Although I think humor is outrunning anger at this point.)
You came up with a crappy, politically biased, exclusionary award idea. It’s fine if it’s an award meant for conservative SFF. If it’s for anything wider, it’s a crock. That doesn’t make you a wrong fan or a poor fan or an excluded fan. It does mean that when you slag on people as an award idea, they are going to speak back to you. If you’re going to call books you haven’t read badly written or poor stories, no one is going to take you seriously.
You are being faced with an awkward choice, Maynard. You’ve given Cat Valente a neat idea for an award that she may try to actually get going. You can join in and help with that award, but Cat is a liberal woman author and fan, and thus, a wrong person to a lot of folk with your political views, so they won’t participate. Or you can come up with an idea for a conservative award that they may like. And we salute that idea, but stop claiming that it includes us when it doesn’t.
A third choice is that you actually try to get going an online voted award that is open to all fandom and stop trying to control its ideology. But you know, that means you have to give up on the whole SJW conspiracy angle. You might do that some day, but I doubt it.
As for Matt W., if you want to ignore the whole history and current situation of discrimination and blocking of women, non-whites, gays, etc. in SFF fandom by self-appointed gate-keepers of “real” fandom — which is the attitude that pissed Scalzi off — you of course are free to do that. You wouldn’t be the first.
@Dagobert – EVERYBODY on the Right loves cabals when they control them! They only complain about the cabals they aren’t in charge of….
When I was growing up a Good Methodist Boy, we had a few words for that – “Pharisee” and “Hypocrite”, Who Even Jesus Couldn’t Forgive.
Just saw a tweet from Hal Duncan https://twitter.com/Hal_Duncan (you know, one of those arty wrong authors,) that made me laugh:
I meant more generally, not you in specific. You got name-dropped, which is a whole separate issue. I can sympathize a bit with him at this point. He puts in some work for an idea, and he gets a mix of various types of criticism. Quite a bit constructive — although honestly it doesn’t always feel that way when people are tearing apart your idea to put it back together in a better shape, and some that’s not so much criticism of his idea as his tone, the implication in his piece, and such.
And the latter is, IMHO, pretty justified. Like I said, though he’s never met me and likely never will, he flat-out insulted my tastes and my judgement. In passing, as if it were a fact like ‘water is wet’. “Oh, and Morat20 wouldn’t know a good book if it bit him on the butt, he just votes for message fic. He saw Lock In and Ancillary Justice were all crazy with gender, so he was a good little minion and claimed they were awesome!” (Seriously, I didn’t even NOTICE the lack of gender in Lock In. Bravo, sir. When someone pointed it out I stopped and had a good long think about it).
I just think there comes a point when, at the center of the storm, nothing anyone says is useful anymore until it calms down. I mean comments directed to Jay, not conversations about the whole kerfluffle and whatnot. I honestly hope he takes a bit and comes back with Version 2.0, hopefully without poisoning the well first.
I suspect he’s having a hard time teasing out useful criticisms and angry, insulted criticisms (and people who are offering both) at this point. Like I said, I feel for him a bit. I don’t think he intended to insult anyone, which doesn’t change the fact that he did.
Surprised not to see a link here to the (excellent) “You don’t get to decide whether someone else is a geek” post from a year or two ago – – it’s essentially the same topic produced by the same pattern of thinking. Will we ever get past this type of issue? Not likely in this age of the world, human nature being what it is. But that doesn’t mean we should ever stop trying.
There’s been a big conversation about the trust verification process, but I suspect the real explosions would happen when the ‘judges’ excluded a particularly popular work for some reason. Kevin Standlee has written about this in the Hugo context, and the problems that were caused when the administrators attempted to play the role discussed by Maynard.
@mintwitch, the system of scrip you are discussing is specifically an idea developed by Proudhon that Marx is critiquing, not supporting. It’s not his idea. Indeed, the two were not on speaking terms after Marx’s systemic demolition of that and other ideas developed by Proudhon in the Poverty of Philosophy, and later works.
@Morat20: the dude put a proposal on a controversial, divisive issue out for public comment. He is getting public comment. He is also seeking out others’ public comment, as evinced by the fact that he came over here looking for it and then engaged further (and didn’t just engaged, but came in swinging). So sure, feel for the guy in that we’re all people and nobody likes being told their ideas are bad even when (and perhaps especially when) they are bad. I don’t see telling everybody to STFU about the topic in any form has any point, though.
In fact it’s linked to in the entry, at the bottom.
Yeah, I get that. I think at the moment he’s drowning in them. I think it’s well past the point of usefulness to him (whether he seeks them out or they are given to him) until he has a sit and a think and puts out Version 2.0.
I’m not telling anyone to STFU. People will do what they’ll do. I’m just registering me personal belief that he’s had enough stuff thrown at the idea that it’s unlikely anything new is gonna stick until he has a chance to put out Version 2.0. In short, I think we’re at the point of beating a dead horse.
And that I, for one, hope Version 2.0 is lacking the barbs. Named or otherwise.
It’s not about whether Maynard gets it or not. It’s not about Maynard at all or his award. It’s about the discrimination in fandom and the industry that Maynard is mouthing support for with his conspiracy theory crap. It will be refuted, publicly, every time it’s pedaled.
The Judges exclusion might come up the first year and cause half the people involved to declare the whole thing a farce (and worse) and give up on it, following which, if it survives, the award could then spend two or three years proving what exactly it’s doing, who it appeals to and what value it has. That could work out in the end; I don’t think it’s likely but it is possible it might make itself into a successful hybrid popular-with-jury-veto award.
Or it might go two or three years without the Judges feeling the need to get involved, people get interested and excited, and THEN they disqualify something at which point I predict enormous tantrums everywhere.”Hey, it’s allowed by the rules” they’ll say. “You never did it before,” the disgruntled voters will reply. Someone will feel an uncanny sense of deja vu, but not quite be able to say why…
Mr. Maynard, you really don’t get it. Let me clue you in on some recent history that you are, charitably speaking, unaware of.
2013: The year of Sad Puppies I, aka “Larry Correia Needs a Hugo!”. Now, fandom-at-large loves discussing SF works, loves to compare them, loves to analyze them. But… when someone actively campaigns to get themself an award? Fandom-at-large thinks that is, well, kind of tacky. Fandom-at-large kinda frowns upon that sort of thing, thinks less of people who do that sort of thing. But that’s okay, everybody shows their ass from time to time, so whatever, Larry. End result: Sad Puppies is off to an awkward start with a side order of ‘mild, self-inflicted social stigma’
2014: The year of Sad Puppies II, aka “Larry Correia’s Big ‘Fuck You!’ To Fandom”. Good old Larry, flush from his 2013 lack-of-success, engineers a Hugo nomination for Vox fucking Day. And why-oh-why could Larry have wanted to infest the Hugos with VD? Well, here is Larry’s explicitly stated rationale, in so many words, for tryna infest the Hugos with VD (see [ monsterhunternation.com/2015/04/14/george-r-r-martin-responds ] for the full context):
And, of course, good old Larry didn’t just nominate VD. Good old Larry created a slate of candidates, of which VD was ‘merely’ the most notorious member. It’s not entirely clear why good old Larry thought it would be a good idea to actively shit on fandom-at-large, but nevertheless, he did actively shit on fandom-at-large. End result: Sad Puppies graduates from ‘low-grade, one-shot jerkitude’ to ‘major assholery’.
2015: The year of Sad Puppies III, aka “Larry and Brad’s Excellent Achievement in Ratfuckery”. This time around, good old Larry brought in a number of people to help him run the show. This newly-minted clique, who called themselves the Evil League of Evil, included various luminaries including Brad Torgersen and Theodore ‘Vox Day’ Beale. And boy howdy, did the ELE ever run the show!
Demonization of the Enemy (‘CHORFs’, ‘Puppy-kickers’, etc etc)? It’s in there. Vague and unsettling conspiracy theories for which no actual, you know, evidence, is ever provided (‘the SJWs have taken over!!!’, etc)? It’s in there. Bullshit appeals to a Golden Age that never was (‘SF never usedta have any of this social justice crap in it!’, ‘We should be able to judge books by their covers, just like we did in the Good Old Days!’, etc)? It’s in there. Insanely hyperbolic claims of persecution (‘they want to load us into boxcars and ship us off to Siberia!’, etc)? It’s in there. Trying to fuck with the Enemy’s actual livelihood (the TOR boycott, etc)? It’s in there. And on and on, and on, and on, and fucking on. It. Is. In. There. Basically, Sad Puppies III was the Ragu Spaghetti Sauce of toxic, hate-mongering political campaigns. End result: After months and months of intense, industrial-scale effort, Sad Puppies succeeds in making itself absolutely radioactive, with an LD-50 measured in micrograms, as far as anybody outside the Sad Puppies echo chamber is concerned.
End of history lesson.
If you’d proposed this new award thingie back in 2012 or earlier, Mr. Maynard? You’d have gotten some responses, sure. And fen being the notoriously quirky, independent beasts they are, a certain percentage of those responses would have been hostile for whatever reason. But it very probably would not have turned into even a minor internet firestorm.
If you’d proposed this back in 2013? Pretty much the same outcome. At that time, good old Larry’s private quest for a Hugo was just another fannish faux pas, and nobody would have either cared overmuch, or associated this proposal with Sad Puppies. So maybe—maybe—a little more response/pushback than you would’ve gotten in 2012, but still, nothing all that big.
If you’d proposed this back in 2014? Well, good old Larry was busily levelling up from ‘low-grade jerk’ to ‘major asshole’, and a large part of that process involved him dragging mundane political shibboleths into SF fandom. So this proposal, with its Sad Puppy talking points baked in right from the start, would have been noticed and roundly criticized, but not likely on anywhere near the same level of intensity it’s receiving now
Of course, you didn’t propose this thingie back in 2012. You’re proposing it now. Which means you’re proposing it after Sad Puppies III’s intensive, months-long campaign of lying about the whole non-Pup segment of fandom, insulting the whole non-Pup segment of fandom, and generally teaching the whole non-Pup segment of fandom to associate Puppy talking points with Being A Total, Complete Asshole.
So. Here comes Tron Guy with a shiny new proposal for a shiny new set of awards—yay! Except… um… this proposal is thickly festooned with Puppy talking points… not so ‘yay’. Sure, Tron Guy says it’s all shiny and friendly and inclusive to all of fandom; the problem is, fandom-at-large remembers how good old Brad said that he was all “open” and “democratic” about the SP3 slate, never mind that that slate ignored a number of nominees that were quite prominent in the open-and-democratic part of the process and also never mind that that slate included a number of nominees which never were mentioned in the open-and-democratic part of the process. Fandom-at-large also remembers that one of the major Pup talking points is that SJWs are responsible for ensuring that over the past however-many years, Hugos have been awarded to SJW-ish crap rather than enjoyable SF. And fandom-at-large recalls that when asked for evidence, in the form of names of actual SJW-crap Hugo winners, the Pups always cite the same count-’em-on-the-fingers-of-one-hand few titles including at least one title which was not a Hugo winner, rather than the extensive list of Hugo-winning SJW-crap with at least one entry for every year which one might expect the Pups to cite if this talking point actually did have any validity to it.
In fact, fandom-at-large recalls quite a few times when statements from self-identified Pups have proven to be unsubstantiated-to-outright-false—and easily proven to be so.
So… you say that people don’t seem inclined to trust your explicitly-stated assertions of goodwill, Mr. Maynard? How unfortunate. No one could blame you for being annoyed about that. What you could be blamed for is if you decided that this lack of trust is rooted in the non-Pup segment of fandom, as opposed to being rooted in the documented behavior of those Pups who have industriously, energetically taught fandom, by their example, to distrust what Pups say.
Holy cow, Cubist, that was great.
I’m starting new awards just so I can give Cubist one.
I’m voting in DAVID’s awards just to make sure Cubist gets two.
Yes, Tron Guy’s awards are open to all of fandom, as long as they’re fellow travelers with the Puppies, and the nominated stories only contain gender-conforming heterosexual characters.
Also, I want a Cubist vs. Wending Epic Rap Battle.
Yes, I will join in the chorus of amens to Cubist. Very well said…sir? Madam? I don’t know, you evil SJWs have got me all confused! Picking a nick without an obvious gender is all part of your plot to make me nominate Bernie Sanders for next year’s Hugo, isn’t it? :D
The way that I read JM’s post is that they have to exclude SF fan voters because if they don’t they are going going to end up with similar lists as the Hugos, the Nebulas, the Locus Awards and maybe the Good Reads awards. Many books made the short lists (maybe because they were good!) for multiple awards. I noticed that Lock In and Ancillary Sword were/would have been (if not for Puppies) finalists in most of those awards. Presumably, the judging panel would remove both of them from list for being SJW fiction, which would essentially invalidates the votes for everyone who voted for them. I don’t see how any reasonable person could read this proposal and not see that its intended to exclude SF fans one way or another.
JM, if you want an award for books that conservatives like, just call it an award for the best Conservative science fiction. Don’t try to claim your award is from all of SF fandom while trying to exclude a significant portion of it.
Brav@, Cubist! An excellent summary.
[Elvis Presley impression] “Thonk y’ verra much.”
Something I didn’t put into That Great Big Comment, because, well, just Great Big Comment: As noted above, the Pup movement’s… hmm… more hyperbolic members have disgorged months and months of “Nazis!” and “CHORFs!” and ever-shifting Pravda Of The Centisecond and blah blah blah. And this means that any Pup who genuinely is interested in making peace with fandom-at-large… is just plain fucked.
Thanks to all the past and continuing bullshit, fandom-at-large has zero goodwill for the Pups.
Fandom-at-large will grant the Pups zero benefit-of-the-doubt.
The Pups have zero social capital to invest in anything associated with fandom-at-large.
This is not a pleasant state of affairs, and I do have some sympathy for any Pup who has been bitten by it. Of course, that sympathy is tempered by the fact that the Pups’ ostracism from fandom-at-large is solely and entirely of the self-inflicted kind…
Note: I’ll be turning off comments in this thread again before I head off to sleep. Probably in the next half hour or so.
I have to ask: are sock puppets and ballot box stuffing an actual problem that exists? Is this a recurring issue with, for example, the Hugos? (I would have thought the $40US membership fee was a sufficient and adequate deterrent, but possibly not). Because otherwise, these efforts really do bear a strong resemblance to scattering breadcrumbs on the train tracks to deter attacks by giant invisible human-eating badgers (or giant invisible humans eating badgers – either will do), in that it’s an overly-complicated and baroque solution to a problem people aren’t having. It is therefore somewhat disingenuous, to say the very least, to expect people to be cringingly grateful for it.
Megpie71: No, they’re not, within sf fandom. The Puppies’ slate efforts are unprecedented. Vote stuffing is a thing for random Internet polls in general, though very basic filtering takes care of most of that. In essence, the Puppies are projecting the enthusiastic norm-violating engaged in by them and their kindred intellectual groups like GamerGate and Breitbart News onto the rest of us.
Comments off for the night. See you in the morning, folks!
Update: Comments back on.
I don’t harbor any specific ill-will toward “The Puppies” (not that there aren’t a few individuals who made sufficient asses of themselves to have a life-times worth: some of them well before this mess). I’m going to take what they say at face value. In the main that does them no favors, as what they say is at odds with lived experience.
So I’m willing to accept the idea this was meant in good will. I’m even wiling to accept the idea it was just poor phrasing. The hard part comes when the defense of the poor phrasing comes with worse phrasing.
As to the idea that the Web of Trust is independent of the Trust Points… rubbish. If all it is for is verifying the real personness of those who want to take part, than all it takes is one person known to be real to “earn” vouching privileges. The privilege of “unvouching” means there will come to be a litmus test. It may not be what Maynard wants. Even if it is what he wants (which he denies, again I will, absent evidence to the contrary, take him at his word), it may not be the litmus test he desires. But people being people, that tool will be used.
So the Trust Points are inherently divisive. That they became the flash point they did, in the time frame they did, is pretty strong evidence for what happens if they are implemented.
Me, I wish him all the luck in the world. Getting an Award off the ground is hard work. It requires love, dedication and an acceptance that it’s likely to sink, pretty much unnoticed (as evidenced by just how many awards there are in SF alone). I don’t think (honestly) an Anti-Hugo, meant to “address the deficiencies in the way the Hugos have been selected” is going to get much of anywhere. The popular awards which “work” are those which celebrate the love of something.
I don’t doubt the Puppies love a good story, but I also think Hugo voters love a good story. The two groups just have a different idea of what makes stories worth awards. So long as the Puppies are saying the Hugos are being given to stories for reasons independent of the storytelling… well the world will judge that claim.
People who joke about confiscating peoples “geek cards” aren’t helping anyone and are just putting on airs for the sake of appearing superior. If you think someone is woefully ignorant about something you should make an effort to enlighten them. After all, what better excuse would you have to wax poetic about your favourite geek topic?
“They have chosen works based on their political emphasis, or the race or nationality of the author, or other criteria aside from that which defines SF/F.”
I don’t know about anyone else, but I have never nominated works as suggested above. I have nominated works that I enjoyed, that spoke to me, that gave me the ‘sensawunda’ that I came to the field for. However, my nominations this year were wiped out by Sad and Rabid Puppies nominating works under the criteria above. That the politics were conservative, and the race Caucasian, makes them no less wrong than that which you are accusing me and other fans of.
It’s the same sort of idiocy that leads to the Reptiles proposing yet another shutdown, because Obama.
Repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome is one of the signifiers of insanity….
Call it the “Gernsback” award. Because, really, the (Insert Name Here) Award a just a Hugo by any other name.
As for the gate keeping, web of trust, trustees, voters, validity, etc… SSDD. And now I’m off to create a set of “fandom fight” bingo cards.
Personally, I think that the Conservative Hugos would be a great idea. Now if there were a way to make a statue of a bunch of grapes appear sour.
I found their proposal painful to read. Gatekeepers indeed…..
But I can’t recall this much opprobrium being levied in opposition to other recent attempts at gate-keeping. i.e. proposals that writers never write anything that smacks of binary sexuality1 or that readers eschew SWM authors.
1 One of the two current series that I enthusiastically support includes a significant amount of decidedly non-S, non-W, and non-M.
I’ve been chewing on the statement that this new award would be inclusive of “all of fandom.” As defined–how? How many sf/f books/magazines you’ve bought and read in a year? How many sf/f movies you’ve seen? (and the number of times for each.) How much genre teevee you watch? How many genre sf/f games you play? How many sf cons you attend in a year and which ones? (more points for ComicCon, fewer for Readercon, no doubt) From the get-go,those on the Puppy side of the “discussion” have seemingly been unable to grasp that sf/f fans are a diverse group, with different interests in things genre and different tastes. It is impossible to have an award that would be inclusive of “all of fandom.” If someone seriously wants to establish a new award, with different criteria (altho Mr. Maynard’s suggestion seems needlessly complicated) go forth and do so. Many years ago, an organization of mostly women mystery writers who felt the Edgars skewed toward hard-boiled fiction written by men did just that. The award the convention they founded gives–the Agatha–is now one of the major prizes in the field. So such a thing can be done. But the new sf/f award (I say call it the Lester) won’t reflect the views of “all of fandom” any more than the Hugos or Nebulas or either of the Campbell awards or the World Fantasy award does.
John, I am surprised that you have allowed a novel’s worth of back and forth over an issue that is a bore at best. Awards are great; stories are better. Finding people who wish to argue with you is not a challenge. I read through the original post (not sure why) and your thread. I enjoy your work. I intend to continue to do so, regardless of awards, until such time as I no longer enjoy them. But this whole topic seemed to be a waste of everyone’s time since, in the end, it hardly affects your role as the author of many great stories, and doesn’t detract from the status your work has earned you.
Dan I don’t recall any proposals that writers should never write anything that smacks of binary sexuality or that readers eschew straight white male authors. So I didn’t levy any opprobrium at such things because they did not appear in my circles to be opprobried at.
Ooh maybe the award could be Opprobries!
Apologies for the misspelling Dann. Auto correct
on SEPTEMBER 13, 2015 AT 10:01 PM, megpie71 says:
Historically, the Hugo Awards have been largely free of fraud, and of fraud-like campaigns. See my earlier comment about “fandom-at-large frowns on this sort of shit” for why. The shared culture of fandom-at-large provides social penalties for bad actors who try to game the Hugos, and for the most part, those social penalties have sufficed to keep people from tryna mess with the Hugos.
Which is not to say that people haven’t tried to game the Hugos, mind you. The most prominent historical example is probably the 1987 attempt to force a Hugo for L. Ron Hubbard’s novel Black Genesis. Yes, Hubbard—the dude what founded the so-called “Church” of Scientology. I don’t recall, offhand, whether this campaign was an ‘official’ CoS operation, nor do I care enough to research the question. Anyway: Official CoS op or not, a shitload of Scientologists did indeed nominate Hubbard’s novel in virtual lockstep with each other. And Black Genesis ended up in 6th place, behind No Award.
The upshot is, fandom’s social enforcement mechanisms have sufficed, thus far, to keep the Hugos largely free of unethical nominating/voting behavior. Alas, fandom’s social enforcement mechanisms depend on respect for the culture of fandom. And it is not at all clear how much respect people like Theodore Beale (to pick a non-random example) have for said culture.
Why are you all talking about a subject that bores me? Don’t you know that I am the fount of all wisdom about authors, their careers and awards? That is why I’m lecturing to the owner of his blog about what he should spend his time writing about and others talking about. Heed my words, puny humans! Stop talking about what doesn’t interest me with no concern about whether I approve of participation in such subject matter!
Thus missing the entire point of JS’ Twitter rant.
@bunwat – no worries on the spelling. Not my first time at that rodeo.
Both of the concepts I mentioned were discussed in these environs. I wouldn’t have brought it up here otherwise. At least one had a dedicated post on Whatever.
Most of the names I recognize in the comments were either passively accepting or enthusiastically endorsing both ideas.
IMHO, the sci-fi “cred” proposition is lousy, FWIW.
I think it generally is a good thing that the field is as large as it is. That means that more people can find something satisfying to read within it.
The flip side is that no one can ever read everything, or even have enough coverage to be able to be familiar with every SFF author. That means that there is a lot of good stuff out there that you/I/we will never see. That includes a lot of bad stuff as well, I suppose.
If you are referring to K Tempest Bradshaw’s reading challenge I think you are mistaken in your characterization of it. To the extent that it didn’t get criticized as an attempt at gatekeeping I think that’s because very few people saw it as an attempt at gatekeeping. From my point of view it certainly wasn’t.
If you are referring to something else I don’t know what it is.
Cubist, I’m a great admirer of yours. But this:
made me scratch my head.
I think it’s absolutely clear how much respect Beale has for fannish culture. It’s the same amount of respect he has for anything else: absolutely none.
@bunwat – that would be one of the two propositions that I am referencing.
I’m not sure how a challenge to not read authors who are “X” is not gate-keeping designed to exclude authors who are “X”.
IMO, there is a world of different between saying “here read this, it’s a great story” to promote a non-SWM author to a new reader and saying “don’t read that because the author is (fill in the blank)”.
In this case, had I followed her noxious advice, I would have missed out on two of the best books that I have read in years as they were written by a SWM. At least, as far as I know from his website and Facebook page.
Because, Dann, it was a challenge to temporarily read non-SWMs in order to see what their writing is like, and to make people more aware of which writers are non-SWMs. It was an idea. It did not come with “you’re not a fan if you don’t do this.” It didn’t come with anything. It was just a suggestion.
If you don’t see the difference between that and gatekeeping, it’s because you refuse to.
Dann’s just doing the Bradford is an angry black woman hating on white men racial stereotype dance. What we discussed in that thread was how Bradford’s challenge that she set for herself and suggested others consider trying was not an exclusion but an inclusion of writers who usually get excluded, and a challenge to people’s way of thinking that only white men write SFF.
Because the SFF field is 90% white and most of the media attention, reviews and marketing go to men authors because of institutionalized discrimination. Consequently, a lot of people read only white guys because they don’t know that non-white authors particularly exist in SFF. Suggesting that people try non-white authors instead of white ones for a few months doesn’t exclude a damn thing anymore than what most people usually do, which is read all white men SFF authors for months.
The difference is that the industry supports reading nothing but white men — excluding non-white authors beyond publishing the occasional “niche” author. Challenging that way of thinking with a suggested reading experiment creates a wider, more inclusive field, with more fans aware of what’s out there, and does utterly nothing to the livelihood of white authors, who control 90% of the field, or to male authors who control 50-90% of the field, depending on the sub-field (women being kept deliberately out of hard SF for example.) It does not exclude them as fans either.
It becomes a positive for white male authors, as we also discussed, because it expands the field. The challenge attracts readers who avoid SFF because they think it’s all white male authors writing about ray guns and barbarian warriors, by presenting them the opportunity to check out the non-white authors of SFF being talked about in the challenge. This in turn gets them reading more SFF — including sometimes then trying white male authors.
But Dann’s not about to admit that the field is not a level playing field and excludes and limits non-white authors and in many ways still excludes women authors due to routine discrimination. Nor is Dann going to accept that the field is symbiotic in terms of the audience, and it’s not a dog eat dog fight between authors for a limited pool of readers, so reading only non-white authors for a bit is not an attack on the white ones and doesn’t shove them out of a field they dominate artificially. And of course, there’s always the implied slam — that non-white authors are inferior and if you read only them for a few months, you’ll miss the superior white authors — forever no less.
Because if you raise the issues of discrimination in the field and try to raise awareness of additional choices to SWM fiction, it will instantly try to be negated as an attack, as a hysterical fantasy, as extremism. Along with a lot of complaining about “tone.”
Nobody cares what Maynard’s tastes are. It doesn’t make him not a fan if he likes conservative SF. It was his hypocrisy about labeling it an award proposal to include all fans when it clearly was only going to let in approved conservative fans, and when he talked about who he’d allow in as part of fandom to the “open” award process, which sparked Scalzi’s rant. His award proposal is not his personal reading experiments, but something that was supposedly going to be part of the whole field and clearly could not be with Spanish Inquisitor judges and buddy sponsors. He’s changing some of it, I believe, which he probably wouldn’t have done if he hadn’t been called on the hypocritical statements.
But he doesn’t have to do so if he doesn’t want to. He can keep it an exclusionary, specialized, conservative SFF award. We already have the Prometheus for libertarianism, the Lambda for gay issues, etc. What’s one more specialty one? But Maynard’s insistence that it’s not a conservative SFF award while slamming liberal writers and proposing a system that’s clearly exclusionary of liberal authors and fans, is what got him the flack.
Well that, and Maynard verbally slammed a group of authors and artists in his proposal. He claims their wins at the Hugos aren’t legitimate, which included Valente, and that their writing is lousy and only got any recognition for liberal political purposes. He called them and their voting fans thieving, lying, scheming, and unethical destroyers of the Hugo — and wrong fans for liking what he decides is message fiction. And then got upset when they didn’t like that very much. If he just wanted to say that he didn’t think they were good writers, okay. But he accused people of things, and then claimed they were being mean to him because they didn’t agree with him that they are thieving, lying, scheming and unethical. The remarkable thing is that a bunch of people did still try to help him with it at BlackGate.
It probably would have been better if they hadn’t. Let them go and make conservative awards. It’s far better than their ranting over how we’re all destroying SFF, mostly by existing in fandom.
It is surprising how my mere existence can destroy things. Who knew I was so powerful?
All in all, this has been a rewarding conversation. I particularly liked @KatGoodwin’s 2015-09-13 3:39PM comment as a solid response to Mr. Maynard’s (probably only semi-voluntary) trollery.
For sheer entertainment, I have to give the nod to our host’s superb phrase “Aggrieved Flounce”. (So Appropriateness. Very Precision. Much Jack Vance.) And then, an unexpected bonus: @MattW demonstrated that very move for us.
@dann: It was Tempest’s suggestion. It was basically like recommending a restaurant: Hey, I really liked this, maybe you will too. She didn’t say “And everyone who dines at other restaurants is EATING WRONG!” Big difference. OGH here is a SWM and thus reading non-SWM would directly cut into his income, but last I looked, he’s still Twitter pals with Tempest.
@Cubist: yep, it was an official CoS mission. The Pups evidently didn’t learn from that dust-up that Hugo voters don’t like mass slate efforts. Showing that they really don’t represent “all fans”, because if they did, they’d have known that. It was kind of a famous thing in Hugo history. Left wing, right wing, middle-of-the-road, gay, straight, white, black: all of Worldcon was united behind “HELL NO, HUBBARDITES.”
@GinjerB: (Who knows the biz far better than any of us) speaks truth. You can start your own award, without telling people they’ve been doing it wrong. The Agatha creators didn’t start out by saying “You Edgar voters never really vote for what you like, it’s all political!!!” they just did their own thing and now it’s a respected award.
“All of fandom”? People who read books and people who watch movies and people who write fanfic and people who make costumes and people who filk and people who draw manga and people who play video games and people who build robots and… Presumably you get extra points for going to LibertarianGunCon, and lose points for WisCon, and where exactly does the Mytheopeic Society fit in, and CostumeCon, and Concordance, and all the steampunk cons and furry cons? Do Eastercon and Westercon cancel each other out? MidSouthCon vs. Noreascon? Who gets the higher ranking, Star Trek cons or Doctor Who cons? Do we go by piles of money achieved, in which case the most points go to Star Wars and Twilight? Do we go by amount of attention paid, in which case it’s whatever Donald Trump likes?
A fan is a fan, I say, and nobody’s better or worse. No animals are more equal than others (Well, except cats, but the internet knows that).
If you really want to get back to the Good Old Days, then just have Dave Kyle hand ’em out.
Oh, Dann, will you never tire of your little attempts at gotcha moments?
You see, while K. Tempest Bradford may suggest that readers choose only non-SWM authors for a year, she has no power to force anyone to do so. She has no control of what get stocked on the shelves of booksellers. She cannot manipulate the results on Amazon pages. And she certainly can’t break into your house and swap out the book on your nightstand.
Jay Maynard, on the other hand, wants for his awards a system that gives people the power to specifically and personally exclude anyone they choose to from participating in his awards in any way. That have been an unintended side effect of what Jay intended, but it’s one that people picked up on pretty quick. And it might not be that big a deal, if he was committed to starting some kind of anti-Hugos. But he also wants to take a page out of Brad’s bullshit playbook, and claim he’s starting an award for, literally, everyone.
That’s super, Dann. If I find someone who discovered two “best book they’d read in years” by non-SWM authors as a result of taking up the challenge, will you an Tempest be even? Will you call it a draw and move on? I think we’d all like that.
dann665: I’m not sure how a challenge to not read authors who are “X” is not gate-keeping designed to exclude authors who are “X”.
Because it’s not. If I challenge someone to do/not do something, they are free to take it up, or not. If I day, “only people who do x may take part in y”, that’s gatekeeping.
Tempest Bradford’s thing is wildly off topic for this particular thread, so let’s go ahead and wrap up discussion of it, please.
on SEPTEMBER 14, 2015 AT 8:21 PM, Xopher Halftongue says:
You may be right (and in fact, that’s the way I’d bet if forced to). But I have no privileged access to the inner workings of the RSHD’s mind (thank Roscoe and Ghu!); I can only draw inferences from what the man says and writes. And that particular man says and writes a lot of stuff, guided largely (if not entirely?) by his assessment of whatever he thinks will help him achieve his current goal-of-the-moment, as best I can tell. What he genuinely does think of fandom… is as much a mystery as what he genuinely does think about anything else.
I, for one, am content to let this mystery remain unsolved.
Sigh….seriously John? Me wrap something up? Briefly?
More seriously, I disagree that the KT Bradford thing is off topic. The “cred” proposal is clearly a form of gate-keeping. IMO, all gate-keeping is a bad idea. Including Ms. Bradford’s.
I’ll make you a deal. You identify someone that read two fantastic books as a result of Ms. Bradford’s proposal and I’ll read those books. I’ll even put them at the top of my reading list ahead of everything else.
Sorry folks, but our esteemed host has spoken.
It’s just amazing how bigots cling to their bigotry and yet try to claim that they are anything other than bigots. Just embrace it… squeeze it… love it… squeeze all of your little bigotry juice into strainer and bottle that shit. But please don’t pretend that you don’t enjoy your bigotry with relish.
Dann: “Sorry folks, but our esteemed host has spoken.”
You know its pretty hypocritical to continue the discussion with some other people including Scalzi himself and than use the same words you ignored as an excuse not to address other peoples points. ether stop talking about it or don’t, but don’t try to have it both ways.
Well of course it was off topic about Bradford. That’s what Dann does (note the poke that non-SWM authors can hardly ever write “good” books and so Bradford’s suggestion is a horrible idea. Not to mention the silly claim that if you read no white authors for six months, you couldn’t “find” the white authors’ books later on.
Why did I bite at Dann’s usual gambit? Because it’s the same thing that the Sad Puppies prate, and it’s Maynard’s views — authors who write about discriminated people, especially as heroes or interesting subjects, are a threat. Fans who like them can only like them for their views on discrimination, and are a threat. Authors and fans who bring up discrimination in the industry and encourage people to look more widely for good books written not necessarily by SWMs are a threat.
They are trying to destroy SFF, they are trying to shove the good stuff out of the market, they rigged the Hugos, they will come for your children, etc. Slave riots. Apocalypses. The claim that there’s only limited room — which is false — and if non-white authors get slightly more published in the SFF market, say up to a whole 15%, that doesn’t mean growth, but that white authors were shoved out the airlock — which is false. It’s the same argument that was used in the 1950’s and 1960’s to keep women out of the SFF field altogether — a field that was much smaller back then, if popular, but has grown because in part of women’s participation in it. It’s the same argument used to pretend that women being a large part of fandom is somehow “recent” in the last ten, fifteen years, and that their being there in visible numbers and sometimes costumes is somehow a threat to comics, books, conventions in general.
Non-white authors aren’t being kept largely out of the market to make room for white authors. They are being kept out due to bigotry that believes what they have is of only marginal interest to readers, because “normal” “mainstream” readers are white and only want white fiction from white people. Which is false. Including more of them makes the field grow — which is why the field has grown as they are more included. And the same for keeping women out of hard SF. Why the fuck do you think SFF has grown from mega-size to super mega-size with a younger generation that is more multi-racial and overall more liberal? Can you imagine how big it will get with thirty percent non-white authors? Can you imagine if the entire landscape of fiction wasn’t mainly white people how many more readers we’d have? And there will still be plenty of books by white people, including conservatives, in that market. Fandom is big and it expands.
But if you have a certain mind-set, that’s threatening. Discrimination is needed to “protect” those on the up axes, in that belief, and it’s also very important for some to insist that systemic discrimination doesn’t happen, that the issues aren’t valid and that bringing them up is a viscous attack. Every SFF book with a gay protagonist is therefore not an addition but a threat. Talking about it is a threat. Giving it an award because you like the story, ooh boy. Liberal views about equality may proliferate and that will destroy society.
Maynard feels threatened because people everyone pretended are invisible are a little less invisible in the market because they speak up more. He thinks he and his crowd owned the Hugos and liberals who don’t like his favorite kinds of stories stole it and are lying schemers. That they will shove him out. That Cat Valente — an author getting told that she didn’t write real SFF and was less marketable as a woman in the industry, an author who was several years ago nearly broke but whose fan base loved her writing enough that she managed to get book contracts and build a bigger audience — is a horrible writer propped up by a cabal. And then when she pointed this out after trying to help him, he tried the “I didn’t mean you when I said all recent Hugo award winners and nominees.” And then he called her a “cool kid” which seems to be the go-to move these days, as if we’re in a John Hughes movie without Hughes’ actual politics, and a thief because she wouldn’t hand over an idea she had when she was talking to him.
Maynard is a perfectly ordinary guy who likes to pretend there is no politics in SFF writing. (And who likes to call people liars and whine when they don’t like that.) In order for him to not feel threatened in fandom, the liberals have to go away and/or never criticize anything ever, never bring up discrimination ever. So he tried to concoct an award with lots of gates to keep the liberals either out or controlled.
Which again, is fine. We may criticize it or not, but no one can actually stop him doing it (and most people don’t care.) It’s the claims that he represents true storytelling fandom and that he will magnanimously allow untrue fans to participate despite their politics that got him the blowback. Because that is the same crap used to keep a lot of folks out of fandom and the industry. That’s the crap that keeps SFF 90% white authors. And it’s the same crap the Puppies used throughout their political crusade to accuse people of unethical crimes. So when somebody spills that crap, people are going to speak up. I don’t think anyone knew Maynard might have clinical depression and that sucks, but people have also backed off of him now that it’s come up and given him advice to help him as well. But they are still going to point out that they are part of fandom, and that people calling them liars do not represent all fandom.
And it’s the same crap that Dann tried to use about Bradford. It’s the same spiel. They’re threatening us — declare them invalid for that and shut them up. Or get a rise out of them and declare amused victory. So I gave Dann a present, you’re welcome. Maynard, I mostly found his award proposal very funny because it was exactly what the Sad Puppies had accused folk of. A lot of folk thought it was a parody at first. I think there was actually a lot of sympathy for him, because it’s sad to see someone so pointlessly feel threatened. And Maynard is very much a fan — he built a Tron suit. That’s cool. He’s a fan because he says he is — and so is everybody else.
Oops, I meant the entire English language fiction landscape. Didn’t mean to be centric. The global market, of course, has lots of non-white stuff in it, including SFF, that we pretend isn’t there.
Cubist @ SEPTEMBER 15, 2015 AT 6:41 AM said* –
What he [Beale] genuinely does think of fandom… is as much a mystery as what he genuinely does think about anything else. I, for one, am content to let this mystery remain unsolved.
Cubist, for that I’m voting for you as Winner of this entire comments section. I’ll bet that 90% of the negativity in the whole Puppy Thing** could have been avoided if people would just stop assuming that they have the ability to look into other people’s hearts and read their minds. (The other ten percent I fear was unavoidable because sometimes the assuming the worst about someone else’s motives is, coincidentally, correct.)
* Off topic – Can someone tell me how to get the real formatting for quotes to work?
** Some day soon there will be a single term everyone will use, but for now I’m really resisting “Puppygate” because the Pups in question are already too puffed up with false importance.
I got this one, cause I asked the same question.
At the beginning of the text you want to quote, you use the arrow brackets: and put the word blockquote right between them with no spaces. At the end of the quote, you do the arrow brackets and the word blockquote again, but you put a backslash / before the word blockquote, to show it’s the end of the quote. And it will format it for you usually, though I have found that if you’re trying to do it with several quotes, sometimes it doesn’t do it for some reason.
Apparently, doing two arrow brackets alone gets you a nothing. So it’s these arrow brackets: <
I see that these words from the original proposal have been crossed out against future rewording: “Over time, the Hugo voters have considered other factors than the most fundamental when evaluating a work. They have chosen works based on their political emphasis, or the race or nationality of the author, or other criteria aside from that which defines SF/F.” That was a huge dogwhistle when I first read it, being so similar to what Puppies and others have said. “We just want good stories” is another. (Dogwhistle, Puppies, that’s just coincidence I’m sure…)
Completely agree that the concept, and execution should it come to pass, should be more about what the awards love and want to do, rather than what they dislike or don’t want to do.
How to do ‘proper’ quotes? It’s not difficult, but also not all that intuitive. If you type this—
<blockquote>This is a blockquote. Aren’t you excited.</blockquote>
—into the input box, it’ll come out looking like this:
Yeah, that’s what he originally said in a different wording. Same message. The voters of the Hugos (and other awards as well) were liars. They lied about why they liked stuff I don’t like. They did not judge works that I, self-appointed king judge of all geeks, find to be acceptable choices from fans if they want to be true fans. I know this to be true because I can read their minds. And because there can be no other explanation for non-white authors, especially foreign ones, getting slightly more nominations for a world SFF award in the last five years, and gay people being portrayed in a more positive light in some stories and people finding those stories interesting. So interesting that the novels chosen are bestsellers. It’s a scheming plot to destroy stories about white (American) men, since they cannot exist under these circumstances, which is the criteria that defines SF/F.
Wait, why are you getting angry that I called you scheming liars who don’t know what real SF/F is? Why are you leaving me to talk about your own award ideas? Why am I the bad guy just because I don’t think you should be allowed to vote for SFF awards without intense supervision and I called that author an illegitimate hack?
Seriously, they did pages and pages of notes to him pointing out that he was calling people liars who weren’t the right kind of fans for his fan award. And what he got out of that was to repeat the exact thing he said before. I think I will return to Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson (the horror, the horror.)
I have no doubt that you have had the opportunity to engage with people who have precisely those motivations. I have no doubt that they present some phrases that are similar to what I use.
Their motivations are not my motivations.
But Dann, you’re not listening to anything anyone here says, either to refute or acknowledge it. Your attitude really smacks of “LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU.” Why should we think you’re different from others who behave the same way?
@ Xopher – Ya’know….That really encapsulates a lot of things.
That is not a uni-directional complaint.
And the world has gotten markedly worse in that regard over the last 25+ years.
I’ve changed my mind about any number of things over the years. I was wrong. I learned a few things and adjusted.
I’ve changed a few minds about any number of things over the years. I was right. Others learned and adjusted.
That is less likely these days. The world is not better for it.
Kat, Jay has said he will replace that rationale. AFAIK, he hasn’t yet done so. But as Beth said, “these words from the original proposal have been crossed out against future rewording.” The quote following that was intended to show the words that have been crossed out, not the new rationale, which doesn’t appear to exist at this time.
I think more than the wording needs to be changed, though. I’m thinking specifically of attitude if Jay Maynard believes that canard about Hugo voters (and if he doesn’t, why would he use it as the rationale in the first place?). As if he or anyone knows what Hugo voters took into consideration when evaluating a work. I can tell him what *I* took into consideration–which, by the way, was not political emphasis or the race or nationality of the author, or the gender of the author or character, or any of the other ginned-up alleged factors that he and the Puppies keep throwing around. I can’t tell him what any other Hugo voter took into consideration, and even though I’ve read plenty of comments and posts by people who explained what their own decision processes looked like, I could no more make a pronouncement about what “the Hugo voters have considered” than Jay can. No evidence has been produced to support any of those wild generalizations. It was an arrogant and inflammatory thing for him to say and a terrible beginning if he wanted to promote the idea of an award in which “all of fandom” could participate in good faith. It may be that he can come up with a rationale that doesn’t bounce off the Hugos at all and is actually useful, but the unfortunate amount of arguing and accusations and butthurt in that thread at Black Gate have rather poisoned the well, IMO–though I came to have a lot of respect for one Puppy poster there, who gives me hope. For now, it might be best to let Jay’s proposal lie fallow for a few months, to be revisited when it can be approached as a proposal for a new and different award and not an anti-Hugo. And it might best be spearheaded by whoever is willing and able to see it through, since Jay made it clear that he can’t do that himself but was hoping for others to take up the idea and implement it.
That is less likely these days
If only people would pay attention when I called them “liars!”
dann665:…..You do realize that the quote only reflects badly on Xopher if you completely ignore the context of the rest of the quote right?
Really? So it’s nothing but a way to express his own political stance, and as an award proposal can be taken as seriously as somebody who approaches an author saying: “I’ll be the idea person and you write the book.” There are people who have called Maynard disingenuous and this makes me inclined to agree: it now feels like a ploy (and a perhaps successful one, considering all the commentary that’s been generated around it) to give himself a central place in the SFF culture wars discussion, that wouldn’t be possible if he’d just outright stated his stance on a blog, for example.
Dann, if your motivations are different, you might want to better express them by not using the exact same rhetoric and tactics as they do and usually taking up the same positions on these issues that they do. Including indicating that Scalzi and most of the people here are hypocrites motivated only by political agenda. Which was very much what Maynard was also doing.
BW — sorry to have misinterpreted the information that was being presented. It’s quite nice that he might then be taking that out, although he really doesn’t have to. However, I doubt his opinion expressed in it has changed much from the latter things he said. This apparently has been a complaint he’s been making for months. But we’ll see. People really were trying to help him; maybe some of it sunk in.
But a new award doesn’t have to not be an anti-Hugo award. There’s no problem with making a specialized anti-(supposedly too liberal)Hugo award that is for fans with specific political demands. There’s no problem with having a conservative SF award. There’s no problem with Maynard trying to set up an award for specific types of SFF that he likes and having a judging committee that will be staffed with people who agree with his views and tastes. It’s the claim that such an award represents all fandom while the Hugo doesn’t that got people riled. Along with the claim that the award would be open to all participants, and then the description of a series of safeguards to keep undesirable voters and their votes out. That’s not an open fan award; it’s a club. And it’s fine to have a club and have that club give out a specific award. But you’re going to get called on it when you claim that’s not what you are doing.
But the entire award proposal wasn’t Scalzi’s initial complaint. The complaint was that in an award that Maynard was claiming would be an open award for all fandom, he would allow Scalzi (and Gerrold) to participate in that all fandom despite Scalzi having the wrong politics (being a wrong fan.)
Now, even if Scalzi wasn’t an author, no one can keep him out of fandom — he’s a white guy. He may run into some gate-keeping, but there’s not a lot of leverage to it. But people who aren’t white guys? Quite a lot of effort gets expended trying to keep them out of various parts of fandom and declaring them disqualified as fans. And it gets more desperate when they won’t go away and seem to be doing well as authors or to be listened to by others as fans (the cool kids narrative.) So that pushed one of JS’ buttons, which we saw earlier when the games journalist wrote about how “fake geek girls” needed to be booted from conventions.
Even though JS is a successful white straight guy author and fan whom Maynard can no more proclaim true fan or not than a fly can, Maynard’s simple attempt at framing it that way — which I don’t think Maynard really thought about, which is typical — pissed him off. We’ll let even him in is an attitude in fandom that’s going to be challenged whenever it comes up, whoever is targeted by it, because it’s one of the big problems we have — the erroneous idea that there are people who can let others into fandom and that other people have to be let in or kept out.
I don’t think, as rosewoodpip wonders, that Maynard wants to be high up in the culture conflict and lead anything. He seems to want to separate himself from the Puppies. But he clearly doesn’t like criticism, and he genuinely seems to believe that liberal SFF fans are schemingly rewarding political grandstanding rather than because they actually like stuff (a main Puppy claim.) He seems to genuinely believe stuff he likes will be ignored or shoved out from certain kinds of SFF doing well, from what he says, (and that his own tastes have nothing to do with politics, which isn’t true.) Which is why I think a bunch of people tried to talk some sense into him, or at least point out that he was accusing people of stuff.
The only thing that is likely going to work is to A) refute gate-keeping/myths about both SFF’s past and fandom’s current make-up; B) help get authors and fans who’ve been blocked from fandom in the door more and able to equally participate; and C) wait for that to become normal and no longer seen as threatening or intrusive by people like Maynard. (Of course, the Puppies claim that agenda is so that we can do a communist-fascist-Muslim-atheist takedown of SFF and society.)
Anyway, I thought the award proposal was funny, as it encapsulated a bunch of Puppy paranoia concerns rather blithely. But this just seems to be more and more a wandering mess.
Since 1990? Gosh, I wonder if anything has happened that might cause culture and politics to seem more partisan and divisive now than in 1990.
Of course, if you think culture and politics wasn’t partisan and divisive in the ’90s, you must be a Millenial. That is to say, you weren’t there. To us Gen-Xers (and older) if this shit isn’t old news, we must have our historical blinders on.
Zeb: That would be why he quoted me out of context. Dann believes in “winning,” not engaging in reasonable discussion. I’m not sure why he thinks hostile quoting is a winning strategy, but I’ve never understood people who think of discussion threads as a thing they can “win,” anyway.
I should have known better than to engage with him, but I don’t like to throw up my hands completely. It’s painful to do so, because the thumbs get stuck in my throat.
@Xopher, I had to read your last sentence twice to get it. Heh.
@Doc Rocketscience, why I hear tell politics was polarized in the 60’s!
Let’s move on from personal comment, please.
Part of what makes “good sci-fi” for me is that it does new things, works with new ideas, encourages the reader to expand his or her mind, look at things in a way that he or she wouldn’t have thought of before. If the “gatekeepers” are people intent, maybe even desperate, to preserve the “Old Ways”, then innovation suffers.
I keep coming back to the backlash by the would-be gatekeepers against Ancillary Justice. That book is damn near everything that the gatekeepers claim “good sci-fi” should be; but it also does some things that I can’t remember having been done before, such as the POV character being a surviving fragment of a dead AI that speaks in a language that doesn’t have gendered pronouns (translated into English). The claims that it was inferior stuff that only got promoted by a cabal trying to enforce a point of view tend to ignore that not only did the book win the Hugo, it damn near ran the table – picked up just about every award it was eligible for. (I can only draw two conclusions from that: either the “conspiracy” that elevated that book was mind-bogglingly vast, or the book was actually the Real Deal.)
And … if delivering a message to contemporary society is a disqualifier from being “good sci-fi”, then that eliminates a terrifying amount of genuine science fiction, not least of which would be The Forever War. If Ancillary Justice is “message fiction” and therefore undeserving, then what the hell does that mean for The Forever War – which delivered a powerful anti-war message, would probably be nothing without that anti-war message, but is still one of the most powerful science fiction stores of all time?
New is a relative, subjective concept. SF sometimes brings in some new science from newer scientific research and speculation. But most of SF isn’t “new.” It’s the intersection of speculative ideas that are kicking around, sometimes for decades, with stories, characters and world-building to explore them that makes SF. Such as, what would it be like if there were actual space pirates? Here’s a version. What would it be like if you could copy yourself and store that self like a paper in a file? Here’s a version. And so on. It’s backed up by science, and it looks at how culture can be affected by science and technology and the different circumstances they can bring. (Which is why all SF touches on politics because culture is political and politics is cultural.)
Leckie didn’t do anything new, though she might have been throwing in some of the latest psychological research on identity in there. The stuff with the pronouns has been done before — there have been human languages that don’t use gender and certainly human cultures where concepts of what a gender means are quite different. So SF authors have done the pronoun thing before, especially with aliens. They’ve also done the A.I. in multiple consciousnesses and taking over human brains before, although she did it in a really neat way. They’ve certainly done the look at the consequences of imperial conquering and individual actions stuff before — that’s the meat of a lot of SF. Leckie borrowed a lot of Roman Empire history, which isn’t unusual in SF either.
But she wrote a really interesting story psychologically, with a revenge plot and big sweeping action, with characters and a world build that were detailed and layered. She tackled free will versus compulsion and duty. She tackled the meaning of identity and how we make connections and loyalties to people even when we really don’t want to. And she built an empire looking at its own ethics and facing war with a mysterious alien race. All very cool. All very traditional SF. All very well written and not high falutin’. It’s not going to be a book that everybody likes, but it certainly was a book that a lot of knowledgeable folk were talking about, and a lead title for its publisher out of the gate.
But to Maynard, the book is a threat. He hasn’t read it, but he knows it’s a threat. Because it doesn’t have the right politics and it’s not a past book like Forever War, whose politics can be waved away because it’s old and it’s military SF, so there. And yes, Maynard has stated he believes it only won all those awards and got noms because of liberal political gimmicks — the conspiracy is seen as that vast. The eggheads/cool kids/nobles have control of the notable parts of fandom, and the hard working peasants, who know the good popular stuff, are being phased out. Because that’s how they see the whole culture. If the people who are being discriminated against get more equality (and do better in the field thereby,) they will be harmed, because the people speaking up about inequality clearly hate them and have decided that they are evil, and are trying to get the goodies without earning them.
I am trying very hard to still want to go see Matt Damon in The Martian right now. (Why should Andy Weir be punished?) And for that matter, to not be disappointed in the cluelessness of Steve Armell. I don’t hate them at all. They both are nice white guys who have done good things with their celebrity and provided me with entertainment. They are also expressing views exactly like Maynard’s — I like everybody, so I and everything in the culture around me is fine, so stop complaining about the culture because that means you’re being mean to me and not looking at the right things in a way that makes me feel comfortable and un-pressured. The convention runners — the Secret Masters of Fandom whose volunteer work is now supposedly running the liberal cabal? — had the same argument when faced with demand for harassment policies at conventions, and many still do today. They understand inequality and think it’s awful; it’s just, you know, it has nothing to do with them.
It’s this inability to divest the individual from systemic discrimination and the unquestioned cultural attitudes that hold it in place — even if you’re a liberal — that is the reason that, among other things, 90% of the SFF field still consists of white authors. Because it’s all due to merit, you see, that 90%. White people (who aren’t even an actual ethnic group much less anything biological,) are just way more meritorious, on average, so really, it’s perfectly normal. Because that’s the default. And oh my, don’t question the default. Don’t even call it a default. Because that’s apparently threatening. The damage of the systemic default, legally, socially and economically, is ignored or shrugged off. And you’re supposed to be polite to people by not bringing it up, or at least, not in any way that has any connection to their cultural area.
If people refuse to do that, you call them hysterical and extreme and rude. If history doesn’t accommodate this idea, you change the history. You retreat to acknowledging that inequality does exist, but insist it’s got nothing to do with you. You declare any change or even discussion of change as either persecution, or if you’re more sympathetic, misplaced priorities. I’ve done it. Everybody does it. We just don’t always want to look at it, even though that prolongs suffering and a teenager gets arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school.
So when a book might, in passing of telling a story that lots of people like — or even a small group of people like; it actually doesn’t matter — touch on those problems, or do anything that seems too “different,” then support for that book is either misplaced priorities (because clearly that’s more important to you than story,) or outright persecution (a cabal has taken over the Hugo Awards,) etc. You’re not a real fan. And you’re trying to claim they aren’t a real fan. And repeat.
Gate-keeping is not a logical thing. It’s a seize ownership and declare authority thing. From claiming that pumpkin spice M&M’s are a sign of the apocalypse (fairly harmless,) to that black students in college are only there because of their skin color (which is utterly false in actual education facts and deeply racist,) it’s largely a self-defense mechanism. And it can have world-wide devastating consequences, as we know.
Maynard’s award proposal isn’t going to make or break anything. Most people don’t hate him. But his attitudes about fandom are going to be challenged. We’re going to disagree. Because the stakes are a lot higher than just him. I do think people need to be careful, if he’s got depression. I wasn’t careful when he came over here, because I didn’t know at the time. I wish him well with beating that disease. But it would be nice if he’d stop calling me a liar. So lots to think about, all the way around.
Points taken. Come to think of it, Ann Leckie talked about where she drew her inspirations from in her Big Idea post, didn’t she? In any event, your post makes me more knowledgeable about sci-fi than I was yesterday, at (hopefully) no cost to you, so there’s a sort of absolute gain there.
But that’s one of the issues, isn’t it? A lot of times, the people protesting against more entrants into a society (loosely defined) seem to take a zero-sum-game view of it all, like there’s some limited resource involved, and new people can’t be brought in without taking away from the people who are already inside.
Pardon me for going silly, but I’m now imagining a New York style pizza. Your basic pizza gets cut into eight slices. What’s going on is akin to a group decision to double the diameter of the pizza, cut sixteen slices instead of eight, invite eight more people to the table to chow down, and some jackass complains that his slice’s angle is narrower and the new people at the table are taking pizza away from him (ignorant of the fact that his 1/16 slice of the bigger pie has twice as much actual pizza as the 1/8 slice of the smaller pie, although it may be more difficult to fold).
With you on the Martian thing, though I seem to recall something Our Host said about how if he’d become a towering success straight out of college, it would likely have turned him into a raging nozzlehead. Or something like that. People often have pretty substantial blind spots, that often only get overcome by age and experience; I look back at myself twenty years ago and want to slap my past self upside the head for some of the dumb things he believed…
That is a succinct, well done description of a certain socioeconomicpolitical mindset that crosses many cultures, yes. It is the panic attack of the slow march of equal participation. You can write my posts for me, you’ll be shorter. Also, love the pizza metaphor.
Matt Damon doesn’t in general have that view. But when it got very specific, that was the defensive, panicked reaction, so much so that he couldn’t just let Effie Brown give her opinion — the one he’s paying her for — and move on. So I don’t think he’s a douchnozzle — that’s the point, it’s not jerks alone who keep people blocked from equality — but it was very disappointing to hear a guy who has done a lot of good — and who knows perfectly well that he and Ben would not have the careers they have and gotten funding for Good Will Hunting if they’d been black actors — mansplain, whitesplain and use the dog whistle of merit. And then issue a non-apology apology. He gets points for letting it air on the show instead of cutting it and hiding it. But a lot of people are just deeply disappointed — if Damon thinks this, how is any of the bigotry in Hollywood going to change. And of course, they picked a white guy to direct what sounds like an incredibly tricky multi-racial romantic comedy.
But that’s it. I don’t think Damon was thinking, I’ll slam Effie Brown and all non-white Hollywood, what there is of it. Nor do I think Maynard was thinking, I’ll call these people liars and fictional worlds that are positive towards equality automatically awful. But he still did it. So it gets very complicated.
What I hear/see/read are some….emphasis on “some”….new entrants that display precisely the same mentality. They don’t see the pie as growing. They see the pie has staying the same size.
I see the same limited pie mentality else where as well.
Me? I see the pie growing not just in size but in variety. We aren’t stuck with just pepperoni, cheese, ham, and mushrooms anymore. Not only is the pie bigger, but parts of it are Hawaiian, parts are BBQ chicken, parts are breakfast pizza (eggs, cheese, bacon….yum!).