The Hugo Awards: GamerGate Edition, 2015

In case you hadn’t heard, the Hugo Award nomination slate was co-opted by a slate of so-called Sad Puppies, a group of authors and fans who claim to want to bring the award back to its populist center and away from its literary leanings by drawing attention to popular authors who do not usually get award-attention. You might argue that the group’s true aim is revealed in its usage of such acronyms as SJW, CHORF, and SMOF.

(You will find the slate here.)

I will turn you toward the posts of some smart people.

Sarah Chorn writes in her post, “Hugo Awards 2015: A Lamentation:”

“I think the saddest thing is that, now, the Hugos really aren’t about art anymore. They are about agendas. Regardless of whether or not you believe that the awards were broken before, they absolutely are now, and everyone on this year’s shortlist will undoubtedly feel that keenly.”

And Elizabeth Bear writes in her post about the anarchy and resilience of fandom:

“…SF Fandom is a functioning, self-sustaining, multi-generational anarchy.  …This is not the first time All Fandom Has Been Plunged Into War. It will not be the last. But it’s also not going to break fandom.”

And me old hearty, Editor Lee Harris, says in his post:

“But the system is broken. It’s always been open to abuse, of course. But this year the abusers came out in force and coordinated their abuse.”

I have thoughts.

These thoughts are in no meaningful order.

But I give them out anyway because this is a blog and that’s what I do. I overturn my dung-wagon of opinions upon your head and you can choose to be disgusted or roll around in the sweet ordure.

* * *

It is important, first and foremost, to realize that awards are like the tallest building in a city.

It is said that you can tell a lot about a town or a city by what it places as its tallest building — a church steeple, a bank building, an embassy, a mega brothel where its citadel is shaped not unlike a saucy dong. This is probably true, to a point. A city of finance will have a bank building at its center. An old town in Europe might have a cathedral peering above all other structures. Eventually Las Vegas will just have a giant robotic cowboy stripper vomiting fake money and pornography pamphlets onto all who stand beneath its regurgitation.

But it’s also not a perfect representation. It suggests a glimpse at the dominant culture, but also misses so much about what really goes on and who really lives there.

Awards are like this, in a sense.

You can tell something about a segment of pop culture — maybe even quite a lot — by the nominees and winners of an award slate presented in that segment. Some like to pretend that the Oscars are utterly irrelevant, but that’s patently not true. It’s also not true that they’re a shiningly complete illustration of things, either. They demonstrate film culture, though they do so imperfectly. You could, looking back through time, make a not terrible judgment about the movies of the year by the Oscar slate, but it would also be staring through a narrow arrow-slit. You would get a sense of it, but you’d also miss a great deal — the fringe independents, the big moneymaker films, and certainly films from more diverse corners.

You can tell a lot by that part of the animal, but it’s still not the whole animal.

The Hugos are like this, in a sense. They’re the trunk of the elephant — a notable, memorable, perhaps most-talked-about part of the beast, but certainly not the entirety of the creature, either.

This year, the elephant’s trunk has been rooting around in its own shit.

And it’s just covered with the stuff.

The Sad Puppies slate (and “Rabid Puppies” slate, which is the shittier, angrier version) taking over isn’t precisely against the rules. It’s legit. You can suggest that they gamed it, but to do so you summarily have to recognize that this means they still played by the rules of that game. It’s like min-maxing in D&D — you found ways to maximize your character traits for the utmost benefit to your character sheet. Though, most RPGers know that min-maxing players are often the assholes of the table, and that’s pretty much true here, too.

See, while it’s not against the rules, it’s still super-crappy. It’s crappy because it’s not about which books are the best or which books have challenged us or not even which books have sold well but rather, it’s about which books are conservative enough, which books would most rile up the “social justice warriors,” which books run counter to the diversity that has been blooming in the field of SFF recently — and whose flowers popped brightly during last year’s Hugos. (And yes, you could argue that’s a part of a whole other “agenda,” but there, not an organized one, not one driven by any slate or rah-rah movement but rather, I’d suggest, simply as a demonstration of the way SFF is moving — toward a more inclusive, wider array of voices.)

It’s slathered in extra crap-sauce because, of course, this has the explicit fingerprints of GamerGate pressed into its clay — those charm-school rejects whose claim that it was all about “ethics in game journalism” has become a hilarious refrain, a joke meme with sinister permutations (because of course it was really about harassing women and being generally fucking awful). And here, just as the Sad Puppies claim it’s about one thing, it’s really about another.

What does all of this say about SFF and the state of SFF fandom?

About SFF, it says both quite a lot and nothing at all.

Science fiction and fantasy will continue on, unaffected by this strange shadow that has been seen on its X-Ray — fandom will see the shadow and panic for a while, as it should, though time and effort will either excise the cancer or reveal it to be benign tumor rather than the malevolent, malignant one we believe it to be. The Hugos of any year neither make nor break SFF in whole, nor will it subvert, co-opt, or diminish fandom in any meaningful way.

But the Hugos are still the Hugos, and like other awards they are neither utterly demonstrative or entirely irrelevant. They say something, after all, and as the saying that I just made up goes, that something ain’t nothin‘. And I suspect what the 2015 Hugos will say when we look back is that this is, like GamerGate, a perfect picture of dinosaurs losing their collective dinosaur shit and waving their tiny ineffective arms at the coming meteors (and subsequent mammal survival party). We are undergoing a social sea change right now — as we see marginalized people gain power and voice, we also see pushback by those who feel they are losing their power. This, I suspect — I hope! — is just that. (And in fact it serves as a pretty clear, if irritating, response to the Hugo Awards last year.) If I may quote author Alyssa Wong here:

“Those crying out against diversity in SFF are howling into the void, and ultimately, they will be soundlessly swallowed up and forgotten.”

(Some might say that it is silly to call them ineffective because clearly, given this slate, they’re very effective. I’d argue that being effective would mean actually winning the awards and actually changing trends in SFF and fandom for the future. Perhaps I’m too optimistic, but I don’t see that happening anymore than an overturned tractor trailer spilling pigshit won’t change the highway or the traffic pattern for more than a given day. A short-term effect is not a long-term change.)

Though, looking back, as io9 noted, this may also be the year the Hugos became explicitly political. A two-party system of agenda-driven slates bumping heads against one another.

What can you do?

Well, I dunno.

The easy answer is, “Buy a supporting membership and get voting,” but sometimes this is formed as criticism and it’s worth noting that plenty of folks (fans, authors, whoever) may not be comfortable to (or able to) spend forty bucks just to vote on a science-fiction award. Forty bucks is cheap to a lot of people. And expensive to a lot of others. There’s an argument to be made, too, that if SFF is to represent marginalized or under-served voices, then we may also want to recognize that those voices are often in possession of less filthy lucre than more privileged segments. And further, this argument somewhat explicitly turns the Hugo Awards into a capitalist pissing match rather than a popular vote — have your voice be heard and your vote counted is lovely to say as long as you don’t add to it, but it’ll cost you forty bucks, so write a fucking check.

Certainly this year’s slate is not purely a mouthful of snake venom — there are good people there and good books. Some of those people were on the Sad Puppies slat, though I’m sure those folks have found their celebration dampened a bit. Will there be a hollow pit in their stomach, a question forever asking, did I win because my book is good or did I win because of the concerted efforts of a gathered flock of noisy shit-birds? That would be a grave shame. And again, something that must be laid at the feet of these so-called Sad Puppies: they’re not fans, they’re activists. And they’re pissing all over this thing, and that urine smell is going to be very hard to get out.

Whatever happens, SFF and SFF fandom will continue on. It will be undamaged, though the dust from this will not settle quickly and will gather in all the grooves and low places for a time.

My best suggestion to you is:

Keep on keeping on. Buy great books. Advocate for great authors and for readers. Review them. Champion them. Not because of some agenda, not because of some political slate, and certainly not to take something away from anybody, but rather because you love books and the books that speak to your heart are books you should talk about. Loudly and frequently and with lots of wild gesticulations and yawps of great feeling.

The Hugos are not SFF. You are SFF. All of us! All of us.

This year, the tallest building in the city square is a crooked, broken, ugly thing.

But don’t worry — we’re tearing that one down and building something much cooler.

And on it we will tag a sign in colorful graffiti:

Keep calm and don’t worry about the dinosaurs.


  • [I note here that comments are moderated, and I moderate with a swift and unkind hand. The rule “don’t be an asshole” is in play, and yes, I get to decide who’s an asshole. This is not a cheerocracy. I am the cheertator around here.]

  • “which books are conservative enough, which books would most rile up the “social justice warriors.””

    Are these books “conservative” in philosophy (define terms; use illustrations!)? Or is it that the writers on the SP slate use social conservative talking points on their blogs, etc.?

    There’s a huge difference. I’m actually very interested in reading conservative fiction.

      • Yeah I wondered, from all the military sf. Looks like lots of familiar to me. Torgerson likes to use the old phrase “dangerous fiction,” in relation to this slate, and I was very open to reading some.

          • That’s actually something I felt a bit of sad about. If they wanted to put out a list of deserving fiction that they felt didn’t get the attention it deserved, that would have been really cool! I like hearing about books I haven’t run into and I’d be very interested in reading some SF about society and science seen from a conservative point of view. (Assuming it was well-written, etc.)

            But that’s not what this has been about. It’s all just a poke in the eye, an attempt to piss people off in order to claim some sort of victory. Leaves a terrible taste in my mouth.

            That said, I did buy a supporting membership for the first time, because I am privileged enough to have the cash for that, and I’m spending some time (which I am also privileged to have) reading up on what voting strategies might be useful. It seems like stepping up is needed, wherever and however we can.

      • I could swear I saw a SP post where the author was gleefully rubbing his hands together over the diversity of political leanings chosen for the slate: “Oh, the SJWs will go NUTS trying to attack THIS (guy/book/hamster)!” The slate was very much a calculated entity, not an organic one, resulting in an illusion of diversity.

        The curators are very much right-wing. Some of the people on their slate are, too…but not all of them, by explicit design.

    • Off-topic: I recently read two different series’ of zombie apocalypse novels. One leaned hard right, the other hard left. Both were truly excellent series’, in my opinion, even though they were nothing alike (except for zombies and zombie-related issues).

      If I was voting for a zombie novel related award, I would have a seriously hard time deciding which to vote for. I voted for the Hugos for the first time 2 years ago, forgot to last year, but this whole thing has definitely ruined all future giving-a-shit about voting for awards for me.

  • April 6, 2015 at 12:01 PM // Reply

    Forty buck is a LOT of money for me. For just ten more, I bought a whole year of membership in a very decent SF writing workshop, so I can get help writing my delightfully SJW novels and short stories. It’s a complex problem, but that was my personal optimal solution: write the books I want to read and try and do a good job of it. Keep calm, carry on, and contribute to the aggregate of stories and themes these people are railing against. If writing socially conscious stories is a political act now… that doesn’t change anything for me. I was doing that before and I’ll carry one doing that. Just as I suspect the majority of SF/F writers will do.

  • Lovely post. I wish I could attach a photo of a little sign in my office from me to you…simply stated, “Keep Calm There’s A Paradigm Shift.”

  • This just kills me. Can you imagine being one of the (non-neo fascist) authors sad puppies nominated? What would you think of your demographic then? And what about those deserving of nominations/awards? It turns a snub into an outright elbow slam. And for what? What’s the end game here? More of the same? Driving away diverse voices? Driving away new readers? WHY CAN’T WE HAVE NICE THINGS?

  • If the only qualification to vote is a $40 fee then that should tell you all you need to know about the award. Btw… I’m going to pay the fee and nominatee my favorite dino-erotica book next year.

  • Popping popcorn to watch the show. Is there a way to subscribe to the comments without adding my -$0.02-worth and ticking the little box? Sorry to be such a n00b.

  • I honestly don’t think I can get behind all the vilification of the Sad Puppies approach to the Hugos this year. It’s certainly possible that I’m missing something.

    What I see is this: They think differently than is socially popular, especially in the SFF mega-circle. We may even extend that description (“different”) to “backward” or “dickheaded”. Certainly not the way the enlightened readers of Terribleminds think. And I think we can agree that their use of pejorative (SJW and those other acronyms that…I don’t even know what they mean) is reductionist and avoidance of conversation (just as calling them asshats, douchenozzles, or conservabutts — I made that one up, but you can have it and call it your own if you want — is reductionist and avoidance of conversation.

    I downplayed some of that, because it’s only part of the discussion. Yes: exclusionist. Yes: White-Guys! Probably: not so friendly to social change. I downplayed that stuff because it’s opinion, and everybody’s entitled to their own, regardless of whether the rest of us like it.

    The other thing I see is that they approached the Hugo vote as if the outcome were important to them. They looked, decided that cultural measuring stick was important to them, and made effort to change its momentum. They rocked the vote.

    We all love it when the right people rock the vote. We invariably think something unjust and underhanded when the wrong people show up and rock the vote. “I just can’t believe they organized to change things in favor of their personal philosophies!” we cry. “Those sons of bitches rocked the vote, and we just can’t have that in a fair and loving society!”

    Maybe we should think the Hugos are not a vote to rock. Maybe we should think the social change we hope for will be organic and just rather than forced and tumultuous. I don’t think that’s ever been anyone’s actual experience with the process, but maybe we should go ahead and think that THIS ONE TIME it will go that way.

    Or maybe we should continually realize that, no matter our opinion or position, there is a continual force leveled against it–often directed by otherwise reasonable people–and that we should steel up our resolve against that rather than railing at an outcome we dislike.

    • Amendment: “railing at an outcome we dislike” is a terrible choice of words. We should always rail at outcomes we dislike.

      “Railing at an an approach our opposition successfully used” is what I meant to say.

    • Man, I’ve got a bunch of typos in there. Sorry, everybody. I can do better. I will do better!

      Insert parenthetical closes and missing words where you think they should go. We can make a game out of it. Build some community.

    • April 6, 2015 at 12:46 PM // Reply

      “They think differently than is socially popular, especially in the SFF mega-circle. We may even extend that description (“different”) to “backward” or “dickheaded”

      This is true. But here it’s helpful to keep in mind that one of the people from an overlapping slate, Vox Day, is “a man who has advocated throwing acid into the face of women and claims that black people are not homo sapiens.”

      There’s different political leanings, conflicting interests and visions, and then there’s…. you know, that. I’m all for fair consideration of conflicting viewpoints, I’m not going to drop a good book in disgust when I find out the writer may vote differently than me, but only up to a point. I’m familiar with Vox Day. If it’s his support that makes your campaign successful, there’s an argument to be made that you’re no longer representing a controversial but legitimate side to a gentleman’s disagreement.

      • Do we abandon an entire side of an argument because someone reprehensible happens to agree with it? I’m sure if we stretch a bit we can come up with scads of examples of how that’s not necessarily a good idea.

        • April 6, 2015 at 1:02 PM // Reply

          I’m sure we can. I’m not saying anyone should base their opinion SOLELY on this bit of information. In fact I’d argue against it. But it’s a factor. I personally feel it’s good information for anyone to have when considering this debate, just so that it’s clear that this isn’t entirely a high-minded discussion about conflicting view points, which is how it’s being presented in a lot of places. It probably is, for a large part, but it never hurts to take into account ALL the facts. This is one of the facts and I haven’t seen it highlighted much in the wider discussion. Anyone can do with this information as they please, but I do feel it’s important that the information is out there.

        • I guess that’s why I’ve been asking around if any works of the SP slate adhere to actual conservative philosophy. Are we talking about shallow stories with Republicans and guns in them? Or are we talking about Haldeman/Card conservatism? If it’s the former, the SPs are doubly pointless and boring. Seeking an award for the sake of making a stink for books that don’t actually espouse the best, challenging ideas from their worldview?

          ~very sad trombone~

          • What’s an “actual conservative philosophy” here in the second decade of the 21st century? What are its views? What would it expect in its fiction? I really have no idea anymore since popular conservatism seems to be reactionary, white, Christian, populism for the most part these days.

        • It depends on the argument they’re asking us to have. The high minded claim of the Sad Puppies slate is that it’s intended to bring good old fashioned SFF that SJWs don’t approve of to the fore. The presence of Vox Day in both editing fields, and the nomination of John C. Wright six times in four categories (not to mention advancing a title literally published by Patriarchy Press) suggests the real intent is not to elevate ignored works, but to rub SJW noses in as much noxious shit as possible. We don’t abandon an argument because of one reprehensible voice, but we should look at who was invited to the conversation, and suspect the intentions of the party drawing that reprehensible voice into the room.

        • It might help you to know that the Sad Puppies (yes, the Sad Puppies, not the later “Rabid Puppies”) were FOUNDED to put Vox Day on the Hugo Ballot in 2014.

          Vox Day doesn’t “happen to agree with it.” It was created to promote him, among other people

        • Considering that Vox Day was nominated as Best Editor for this year’s Hugo, Yeah. Look, I understand “Well one person in their midst being horrible doesn’t color the whole group”, but when the group nominates David Duke, I think that shows their intentions.

      • You might be right. I read a little bit of Vox Day’s blog an hour or so ago. It doesn’t really seem that he’s in this for fiction’s sake, but more for some bigger, political agenda.

        But again, does disagreeing with his methods or ideologies negate the validity of his doing it? I mean, if we go, “Dude, I totally hate that guy and I have all these reasons starting with ‘He really sucks as a person in general,’ and ranging out to ‘I’ve read in vetted sources that he shoots stray dogs,'” we need to bear in mind that he hates us back just as much, and for reasons that he feels are just as valid as our reasons for hating him.

        And my point in all of this, rambling though that point may be, isn’t that what Sad Puppies’ agenda is good or honorable (although I’m sure they think that it is). It is that the hate in either direction isn’t argument, and it’s not convincing. The namecalling that I see isn’t convincing. That, for the most part, our methods of dealing with these people who are exclusionary is exclusionary itself, and accomplishes nothing except the ultra-crystallization of dogma on both sides of a conversation that we cut short because it’s easier to call someone a douchebag or a CHORF (whatever the fuck a CHORF is).

        Maybe that’s part of a broader social question, though. I might have cast the net too wide. Drawing it back in to the subject of the Hugos: they organized, as people who want to win and feel underrepresented (regardless of who might disagree with that notion) are encouraged to do by society. If we want that organization to not succeed, then our option is to counter-organize.

        And then to hope the chads punch out correctly and that the Hugo voting doesn’t take place in Florida.

        • April 6, 2015 at 4:21 PM // Reply

          “It is that the hate in either direction isn’t argument, and it’s not convincing. The namecalling that I see isn’t convincing.”

          I haven’t seen any hate or namecalling in this post or in this comment section. I’m sure you’re seeing it elsewhere, but in that case you have to take it up with the people who are saying it elsewhere.

          It’s also a logical fallacy to assume that if there’s two or mores sides to an issue, then it must follow that all sides are equally extremist. Sometimes it’s not a matter of all sides being extremists and all of them benefiting from moving closer to the middle. Sometimes it’s a matter of one group just being plain dead wrong.

          One fairly mainstream opinion is that we shouldn’t competitively eat live kittens. If a group were to claim that eating kittens is good for society and invoke high-minded concepts like purity of cuisine or unfair treatment of minority protesters against mainstream opinion, then surprise, they’re still people who want to competitively eat kittens. That doesn’t mean that the mainstream opinion is suddenly “the other extreme” and that both groups should meet in the middle.

          It’s entirely possible and very likely that for some people, this is about rebelling against SFF establishment or ethics in SFFism. But just because they SAY that’s their goal doesn’t make it true. And just because they oppose something doesn’t mean they automatically deserve the benefit of the doubt.

          I’ve seen the people Vox Day can rally. I have a folder in my inbox marked “threats” and one of its filters is the term SJW, which hasn’t failed me yet. I’m mentioning this because after a long time of giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, I’ve become fairly convinced that anyone who earnestly uses the term SWJ isn’t going to grant me the same courtesy. And that some people just plain lie about their intent.

          • April 6, 2015 at 4:45 PM //

            “I haven’t seen any hate or namecalling in this post or in this comment section.”

            You are absolutely correct here. I was referring to this conversation as it is taking place on other forums (forums which Chuck Wendig did not threaten with his ban-hammer for name-calling), because it’s a wider conversation and I think it needs to be recognized as such.

            Please note: I am going to contend with you for the remainder of this post, but I do respect your opinion.

            Your next point is the one that I take issue with, and the one that, I believe, poisons most disagreements and erases any chance of meaningful dialogue.

            “Sometimes it’s not a matter of all sides being extremists and all of them benefiting from moving closer to the middle. Sometimes it’s a matter of one group just being plain dead wrong.”

            The thing is this: it’s not for you to decide who is plain, dead wrong. For you, sure, you can make that decision. Someone / some idea is wrong for you. But we can’t make that decision over-arching. It doesn’t cover everyone else by default just because we think it is the best. And bear in mind, people on the other side of this thing are aiming that exact same manner of thinking at you (you actually probably know this better than I do, so please don’t think I’m condescending to your experience).

            We don’t get to say, “Shut up, you, and stop having opinions we don’t agree with.”

            And this, too: “It’s entirely possible and very likely that for some people, this is about rebelling against SFF establishment or ethics in SFFism. But just because they SAY that’s their goal doesn’t make it true.”

            And, come on: just because you imply that it ISN’T their goal doesn’t make that true, either.

            Now, those are the arguments against assumptions, reductionism, exclusionism, etc.

            On the other hand, do I think the actions of Sad Puppies (or Rabid, or whatever they’re actually calling themselves) were done with pure hearts? Nah. They were motivated by self-interest.

            Like just about everybody else in publishing.

    • “We all love it when the right people rock the vote. We invariably think something unjust and underhanded when the wrong people show up and rock the vote.”

      What you appear to mean by “rock the vote” differs from my understanding of the phrase.

      To me, rocking the vote is increasing the pool of voters. It may be partisan, it may not, but it amounts to grabbing people in the population (in this case, fans) who normally do not vote and getting them to participate. That’s cool. I like that. I want to see more of it.

      However, when you’re dragging people in off the street who may not even be part of the population (such as GamerGate), handing them a ballot that’s already filled out, and getting them to drop it in the box “to stick it to THE MAN” – that’s a different story. That’s not rocking anything. That’s packing the hall, shouting other people down, and pissing in the punch bowl to prove there’s something wrong with the punch. Well, yeah, of course there is; you just pissed in it!

      The more insidious problem with slate vs. nonslate nominating is perhaps best illustrated with an analogy. Today is Election Day. The polls open, and instead of two major candidates and a few minor ones, there are six people on the ballot: Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, and Al Gore. Who wins?

      If you said Al, give yourself a cigar. It’s not because he’s particularly better or worse than the other candidates. Instead, all the liberals picked him while the conservatives split across the other five choices. An equally-divided demographic met a lopsided ballot, and that was the predictable result. The voting wasn’t rigged, but it didn’t have to be.

      With ideal Hugo nominating under the current rules, everyone who nominates would take some time to reflect on the field – that huge mountain of eligible material – and choose what they liked from it. Given the number of nominators and the spread of options, this naturally results in a wide, shallow puddle that can be dominated by a small number of agreeing votes, whether accidental or coordinated. (And no, I don’t see “coordinated” as a good thing.) What SP/RP did is mobilize a (relatively) sizable group around a pebble, resulting in a deep, narrow well. The total amount of water may be greater, but there’s much less diversity of opinion.

      In short, SP/RP has openly created a cabal of Right-Thinking People to combat an alleged cabal of Wrong-Thinking People. They have demonstrated that the Hugos can be broken by breaking them. Most tellingly, instead of challenging Worldcon to change the rules to defang cabals, they’re already working on SP4. They don’t want to fix the award, but to steal it. I would rather see it fixed.

      I wonder if perhaps a two-stage nomination process would help – one to bring in a wide variety, and then another to winnow that long list down to the shortlist. Perhaps even a five-stage process – quarterly nominations to establish the long list, then a year’s-end winnowing to pare it down to the final nominees. Either way, I think it’s clear that slates – even well-intended, and regardless of content – serve to narrow the nominations instead of broadening them, and that goes directly against the SP/RP stated goals.

      I’ll close by observing that the trumpeted diversity of the content of the SP and RP slates is a red herring. Whether you’re handing someone a list of five works that all share a political view or five works from across the spectrum, you’re still giving them a curated checklist that ignores the thousands of other options in the field. That’s not diversity.

      • Thank you for this post. Your argument makes a great deal of sense, and my understanding of the issue is much improved. I now agree with Clementine by proxy.

      • Your observations are well thought out and elegantly presented. They make me wonder if SP/RP realizes that they are destroying the value and credibility of the kingdom they seek to overrun and rule

        • In all fairness, I cannot take credit for the “six-person election” illustration. Rachel Maddow used it a little while back on her MSNBC show (with the parties flipped: five liberals and Huckabee). I don’t recall exactly what she was using it to discuss, but I swiped it here because it fits this situation so well.

      • Yes, BUT — huge BUT —

        With the Hugo, you can vote “NO AWARD” meaning “None of the Above.”

        If all of the people opposed to the SP/RP slate simply voted “NO AWARD” it would send a clear message that people are incredibly annoyed at their shenanigans.

        Of course, then the SP/RP contingent will scream “prejudice, discrimination, intolerance,they’re picking on me & see they’re afraid of us” and all that other nonsense that gets spouted when people actually call this particular political perspective on their own Bull …

        But it would be satisfying to see a slate of “No Award,” “No Award,” “No Award.”

        And it would be an amusing way to politely point out that “Hey, two can play that game, boys.”

        That said, I would love to see Jim Butcher win a Hugo because Jim Butcher is a great guy and writes awesome books.

  • Well said. Thanks, Chuck.

    I don’t know that there is any rational response in the short run to a slate driven campaign. A slate driven campaign is always going to win out in Hugo nominations over non slate driven ones, as the Hugos are currently composed.

    The fact that the Sad Puppies have *already* started planning next year’s campaign is a pretty telling sign.

  • Puts on ranty pants…

    I’m authoring my own post on this as well, since this was the first year I was a part of the Hugo Nominations. I admit, in such, that when my membership to Sasquan was official, I posted publicly that if there were things folks wanted me to considered, that I hadn’t read — especially if it was things that supported a diverse culture in SF — to bring it to my attention. It did not mean that I would nominate based on someone’s diversity. I just wanted to give those things a fairer shot, because well, not everything can be bought at fucking Walmart or Walgreens. You have to look sometimes for the diamonds in the sea of glass. Does my final ballot reflect a more diverse representation of the SF world? I think so. Did I vote simply because it was diverse or because I am some sort of SJW captain? Nope. I voted for things I loved. That I thought deserved an award. Is there a voice in my head telling me I am one of the reasons Sad Puppy did what they did? There is. Another voice says no one even knows who the fuck I am, so that’s being a real narcissistic jerk. But, I didn’t realize I was part of a trend that people wanted to stop. Too bad. I’m still going to seek out SF from around the world, not just from middle america. There’s good shit out there and I feel, more importantly, that Sad Puppy just made The Wall that market has to climb that much higher and there’s not enough people who are willing to member up or conference up to make a difference. (BtW, anyone calling the membership a poll tax has to understand as Bear said, the WorldCon community is an anarchy…it’s not a tax if there’s no government).

    Takes off ranty pants and goes back to writing.

  • I’m flat out voting No Award for everything on the Rabid Puppy slate. Including some generally nice people are who are trying really hard to special plead that they actually really deserve it because they wrote a good story that deserves a Hugo and therefore it’s okay.

    They made their choice. Other people chose differently. I like to think that I would have chosen differently. Because at the end of the day, all we’re voting on now is the “Stuff Vox Day Wanted To Win A Hugo” category, and I don’t intend to play that game. (I don’t plan to vote on any slates, period–if you slate, you break it, as far as I’m concerned. But this one is particularly vile.)

    What I hate the most is that fandom has such a long memory, and some of these nominees are going to spend decades being thought of as Puppy People because they didn’t take a stand on it that actually mattered. And many of them don’t want to throw acid in people’s faces and are appalled by Gamergate, but they shook the devil’s hand and some people will never forget that.

    Hell, I may never forget that. And it won’t help anything, but I don’t know that I’m a good enough person to forgive it, either.

    • I’m with you on this one. And the people claiming they didn’t know what they “signed up for” when they agreed to be on the ballot – do 5 minutes of research before agreeing to be endorsed. I can’t respect someone who is claiming ignorance – nor can I believe such claims. Your up for a Hugo then you you are part of the book world and surely you have friends if not the Internet that mentioned something over the last couple of years.

      • Just FYI, keep in mind that a handful of the people whose works got nominated didn’t even know they were on the slate until after they were informed of their nominations or the nominations were announced. Apparently, the slate was supposed to ask all people that they listed if they wanted to be on the slate, but they seem to have fallen down on that task.

        • I have only sympathy for those poor souls–this was a crappy thing to do to them. “Here’s a cake! HA! Cake is full of weasels!” The poor Australian fanzine primary among them. And there’s a fair amount of people who found out and refused flatly when they learned what was going on, or demanded to be removed, and they have all my respect.

          There are other cases, and they are…less easy to watch go by.

          • That was something I was actually wondering about, whether or not people who were slated and didn’t know it would back out voluntarily.

          • And there are people on the ballot who were nowhere near either slates. Laura Mixon was my favorite nomination. My zine Journey Planet is up there again. Of course, two great novels. Julie DIllon. All the Fan Artists. I think they’re all worthy of consideration!

          • Sorry, Katie, threading reply limit here…

            Some people did back out when slated without their knowledge. Dave Creek was very upset, for example. An author at Black Gate refused the actual nomination from the committee on the grounds that the slate got him there.

            Others have doubled down. So, mixed bag.

        • If I were nominated and found out I was on the slate I’d do what the author at Black Gate did and refuse the nomination. I would not want to be associated with the SP/RP. If you didn’t find out you were on the slate until you were nominated than get off the ballot so you can remain untainted.

          I understand it’s a hard choice to make as the Hugos are a big deal. But I’d think being associated with a group whose goal last year was to make people cry not to put up the best books and who associate with people (if they aren’t such people themselves) who believe women shouldn’t have the right to vote, queer people should be in jail or killed, people of color aren’t human, and terrorist (GamerGate – threaten rape/murder as well as swatting & doxxing) would be something to stand up and say no to. If not then you will be tainted for life in the eyes of many of those of us that don’t have the luxury to ignore the issues of the people who helped get you the Hugo.

          So yes I feel some sympathy for the decision they have to go through but it’s not nearly as much pain as women/PoC/LGBTI go through regularly just from being on the net if they encounter many of the SP/RPs. We are threatened and called names. I had “lovely” interactions with Torgenson & Dan Wells around this time last year when they stopped by blogs I was commenting on and much they had to say was never seen due to moderation. What I saw and personally experienced was bad enough.

    • I’d definitely second giving this a read. Especially since he approaches it as “Are the Puppies factually correct in their claims about SF?” not “What do I feel about the politics here?” I think most people are approaching this issue from a political standpoint (reasonably, since this slate is ridiculous) so it’s nice to see someone approaching it differently.

    • April 6, 2015 at 2:40 PM // Reply

      Thanks for the link, it was an interesting read. Although by no means and easy one. DAT FONT.

    • I would like to suggest that this essay be considered for Best Rel[‘sated Work for 2015 when nominations come around. It’s a well-organized point by point rebuttal and a very interesting read – and it also has added to the discussion at hand.

      • Unfortunately, that might violate the author’s wishes, at least as I read them:

        “Firstly, I want to say that while I appreciate anyone finding value in my work, I would like to ask that people refrain from voting for me as ‘Best Fan Writer’ in future Hugos. More broadly, I would like to ask that people assembling future Hugo slates not include my name in any category.”

        It’s at least a gray area, I think.

  • I think Sarah’s post this morning disheartened me more than anything else. I know publishers and authors love to stamp HUGO AWARD WINNING on the cover of novels and stories, but in a lot of ways, I always saw the Hugos as being for the fans. Maybe that’s wrong. Either way, I feel like all of this infighting has hurt the fans a lot more than the authors, and that is what distresses me.

    Instead of something fun that celebrates the genre, we have adults (on both sides of the issue) name-calling one another like children. I think a lot more than the award has been tarnished by this business, and quite frankly, all of it just makes me sad, especially for the fans like Sarah who give us so much in return.

  • Why can’t we all just write books, sell books, and/or support the books we want to support?

    Do the Hugos and all of these politics that surround them, have “that” much influence? So much influence as to dictate trends in SF reading, purchasing, writing, etc…?

    I mean, I get it, they are an award, seemingly the “top of the heap” for SF awards … but that doesn’t mean they are the center of the all-knowing, all-seeing SF Universe.

    Unless of course, everybody works really hard to put them there.

    Thank you for the wisdom, Chuck.

    • I feel somewhat like you do, Joseph. I think one of the best rewards we can give new authors is buying their books, but only as a start. Once we read them, we should review their books on our blogs, post comments about their work on Twitter and other social media outlets, and urge our libraries to carry their writing. Urge others to give their work a read. In other words, start a word of mouth campaign, and get it to snowball with the help of other readers. Word of mouth has always been one of the most powerful advertising methods available, and the truth of that has grown by orders of magnitude since the advent of social media. If you feel their work is good enough to win a Hugo or Nebula, others will too, and word of mouth will spread like wildfire, and their careers will rise accordingly.
      I realize that this opinion is probably simplistic and naive, but I truly believe it is an accurate one. The opinion of readers holds far more value than a nomination by a group like those who run the Hugos. Even if the voting on those nominations is done by fans

      • Actually not simplistic or naive at all.

        The reader IS what matters in this, I could care less if the author has won a Hugo or any other award. I “look to the book” they wrote.

        I don’t blog the books I’ve read (very often, or as often as I should), but I do hand the books I’ve read to someone else, or get them “back into the system” so other readers can buy them. Sometimes, I donate them to a library.

        But all that said, I do talk about any good book for quite sometime (I’m what you might call a “book geek”). I love doing that.

        These awards (and their political baggage) just cloud the issue, this is about reading and sci-fi, not about stuffy, self-congratulatory political award scenes.

  • “Eventually Las Vegas will just have a giant robotic cowboy stripper vomiting fake money and pornography pamphlets onto all who stand beneath its regurgitation.”

    Please let this be true.

  • The Sad Puppy and Rabid Puppy slates locked up the nominations, thus locking out two books they would really have liked: the Heinlein bio _Heinlein: In Dialogue With His Century, Volume 2_ which would have gone will in Best Related Works, and the old-school hard SF novel _The Three Body Problem_, which would have been good for the Best Novel Ballot.

    Both of them were good books, both of them were well thought of in the SFF community, both of them had a real chance at the ballot–and I saw the organizers of both the slates admit in public that they would have included both of them if they had known.

    Since they didn’t, they locked them off the ballot by accident.

    Slates don’t just hurt those people you have decided are the “other side.” They hurt every single non-slate work, including those the slate makers themselves would have loved if they had just refrained from locking everyone else out of nominating.

    This is why slates are so destructive to the nominating process that I will vote NO AWARD over everything that got to the ballot via a slate, no matter how good it is.

  • On a related note, isn’t the New York Times Best-Seller list also gamed like this? Many of the institutions on which marketing departments rely, and on which authors hope to rank, are largely constructs that your average reader has little to dow with. Indie publishing, which has become a shit show in many areas, sought to offset this, or certain proponents did, but that too collapsed into a homogenised regularity. It seems to me the nature of these lists and awards is to be gameable.

  • You say that the Hugos are just tall buildings, that they may be built in the neighborhood but they aren’t the entire neighborhood. When I first started reading SF/F, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and you could go to the library and check out short story anthologies, those awards were my sign posts. It must have started with the Newbery Award winners when I was in grade school. I later moved onto tracking the Hugos, the Nebulas, and the World Fantasy Award winners, among others. I learned that awards were a way I could look across a vast ocean of content and somehow manage to navigate to the other side. These so called high points may not be the neighborhood, but they *are* landmarks. And right now, I’m hoping someone in record keeping is familiar with baseball history, and knows to put an asterisk in the margin next to this year’s stats.

  • First, for those who don’t know and fear researching it:
    CHORF: Cliquish Holier-than-thou Obnoxious Reactionary Fanatic
    SMOF: Secret Master of Fandom

    I have my own analogies for how this feels. Yesterday, someone told everyone at the playground that they ought to play nice. Last night, someone who didn’t like being told to play nice moved a clowder of feral cats in to the playground over by the sandbox. Being cats, they spent the night filling the sandbox with endless piles of excrement. So today, I go to check out the playground, and it’s filled with misanthropic violent furballs of hate. Even once the cats are safely relocated, which will take a while, there will be hidden piles of shit buried in that sandbox for a very long time.

    For the record, I don’t blame the cats. They’ve never been taught to not claw children’s eyes out and they’re probably afraid of playgrounds.

    • Thank you very much for both of those!


      Honestly, I like both of them very much, and I plan to try to incorporate them into my daily vernacular. CHORF is so incredibly versatile. And SMOF. Well, honestly, that one you can just spray all over the place. Memorize some lines from Star Wars? SMOF. Know which color pill Neo swallowed? SMOF! KNOW WHO SAURON’S DADDY WAS? YOU ARE A SMOF!

      Seriously, outside of the current context both of these would have been brilliant at every nerd-party I attended in my youth.

      I (ahem) of course no longer attend nerd-parties. My kids tell me my former nerd-party friends are not nerdy about the right things. My kids are CHORF-SMOFs.

      • Glad to help! CHORF is, as far as I know, meant to be an insult to the same basic group that SJW covers. If someone says something racist, for example, a CHORF would be someone who is offended and tells their friends. The cliquish aspect of it is probably meant to evoke feelings of high school exclusions and thus imply that the CHORF isn’t a “real” nerd/SF fan/whatever. In actual use, it gets applied to anyone who disagrees with the person using the term (the reactionary part seems to get all the emphasis). SMOF is often used in a joking self-referential way by convention organizers to refer to themselves/each other. I’ve only recently seen it used as an accusation of shadowy conspirators.

        I rather like SMOF for the sheer absurdity of the idea. CHORF just sounds like something Pinky (of “Pinky and the Brain”) would say. Poit! Narf! Chorf!

  • April 6, 2015 at 4:46 PM // Reply

    Back in late January, The Master wrote on the subject of whether awards should or should not be considered validation. This latest blog instalment sees him in full stride with an opinion piece that has all the slow-release energy of a blast furnace. Chuck writes magnificently and with great passion – two of the more hefty understatements of our times.

  • What if I want to be a SJW? Because SJWs are badass?

    CHORF and SMOF, on the other hand, sound like things that happen during sexual intercourse that are not supposed to happen. Like, “I was about to climax and I totally CHORFED instead.”

    Or, “I was getting into all that action and I SMOFed myself right there in front of him.”


    I thought only KKK rednecks who called Obama the n-word during interrupted football games used terms like SJW as a means to mock people who give more than one shit about civil rights. I guess I was wrong.

    • I think perhaps you miss the spirit in which SJW is used. SJW’s, at least the way I use the term, couldn’t care less about anyone’s rights, other than their own. They are, primarily, attention-seekers. People who truly care about and fight for civil rights are, typically, not SJWs. It does sound like a cool title, though, doesn’t it? Yeah, I’m a Social Justice Warrior.

      • If the term doesn’t mean what it sounds like, why do you use it?

        At this point, when I see someone call somebody an SJW, my opinion of the speaker goes down in exactly the same way it would if I heard them use a racial slur. It doesn’t make me think less of the “SJW” – it makes me think less of the person using the term as an insult.

        • That’s a good question. I think I should try to make my insults and criticisms more case-specific in the future. Acronyms like this often paint with too broad a brush. That said, I think comparing the use of something like SJW to the use of n***, or any other harmful racial slur, is a bit harsh

          • Curious. I find the sealioning that frequently accompanies the labeling of someone as an “SJW” to be more than “a bit harsh.” Similarly, I find the idea that the (to be kind) fact-challenged EW article HAD to have been planted by the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy outright ludicrous, but there it is:

            “I suspect some of the insider SF/F people who dislike Sad Puppies 3 decided that the best way to “win” the insider baseball argument, was to stage a broader media flare-up for the sake of fatally discrediting the “poster people” of Sad Puppies 3. Namely, myself, and Larry Correia.” —

            Which, in just a few paragraphs, becomes:

            “What disturbs me more is that the field of SF/F is stooping this low. That some of my colleagues — and no, contrary to my impression of the field 20 years ago, not everyone likes or gets along with each other — have decided to make the nerd argument over the Hugos into a decidedly personal grudge match. Where the objective is to not just win the argument, but to destroy the arguer. Professionally. In the marketplace. On the big stage of public opinion.”

            Neat trick, going from suspicion to certainty in four paragraphs.

            But then, he also doesn’t see how anyone could POSSIBLY draw a connection between the Puppies and GamerGate, either. Never mind that they use the same “PC SJWs are oppressing conservatives” rhetoric, or that Vox Day is openly allied with GG, or – wait a second, what’s this? In a comment, Brad answers a GamerGate question thus:

            “I know that Vox Day works in the gaming industry and that many *Rabid* Puppies supporters are potentially GamerGaters too.” — (comments, look for the light blue box)

            Hmmmm. I wonder what the original Sad Puppy has to say:

            “I’ve never gotten into GamerGate here on the blog, but basically Anita Sarkeesian is a professional victim, Social Justice Warrior, who thinks you are enjoying yourself wrong, and if you disagree you are a racist, homophobic, misogynist.

            “If you are a regular blog reader who followed Sad Puppies at all, same thing, same crusaders, same song, different industry.” —

            There’s a reason I don’t believe the stated Puppy goals. It’s because I’ve read their actual posts.

    • That was an interesting read, thank you for linking it.

      It seemed to start out as a standard ‘let me explain what I was thinking when I started this’ post until about halfway, where it slides headfirst into a rant about “Social Justice bullies” and “Social Justice idiots” (caps in original in both) and then crashes in to a ‘we nominated one bisexual socialist so that proves we’re not the bad guys’ tree. Admittedly, that last one is from the early comments, but all of the elements of it were in the post proper.

      “I think everything is broken and we need to just make something new.”
      I’ve been having that feeling quite often.

      • From the link: “However, ultimately that didn’t matter because the liberals we got noms for were just as attacked and vilified as the rest of us.”

        That might just be because when one is being shot at, one tends not to care overmuch about the exact composition of the projectiles. The key problems are the gun and the shooter.

        • Alternately, one could argue that they grabbed some human shields and then pointed out that the shrapnel from the return hit the hostages too. As far as I know none of their token nominees were told in advance about the slate, presumably to keep them from pulling out. You (in the generic sense) don’t ask someone to occupy that position, you just grab them and hold them out in front of you so you can hide.

        • Also, it seems to me that nobody is pointing any fingers at the nominees themselves (outside of a select few). The only anger I’ve seen is directed squarely at the slate itself and its creators, not the authors they nominated (again, outside of a few).

          • April 7, 2015 at 3:29 PM //

            Question: By “a select few” are you referring to those who are planning to and/or encouraging others to vote “no award” even though there are authors/works on the ballot they like or are you referring to a few of the nominated authors? Just wondering.

          • Sorry, that was unclear. I’m referring to a few of the nominated authors. Namely Vox Day and John Wright, who are rightfully being criticized high and low.

            I don’t really think that encouraging others to vote “No Award” is a criticism of the nominated authors, but a criticism of the idea of the slate itself.

    • April 7, 2015 at 4:06 AM // Reply

      I used to enjoy Correia’s work. Good mindless fun, and I loved his redneck elfs. But since he started this I haven’t been able to read his stuff. Just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    • It’s Gamergate all over again. And what I mean is, it takes a lot of mental gymnastics to defend the point that, “We’re just doing it because great books didn’t get on the slate.” Never mind the lazy slate itself (redundancy, ahoy). Never mind the persistent references to SJWs and such. Never *mind* the fact that some of those on the slate and many of those pushing the slate are not merely the “wrong” type of people but rather, actively hateful and Gamergate-associated.

      If it stopped at “we just wanted to see these books there,” great. But it never stops there.

      • Vox day and rapid puppies is a monster. But sad puppies is a whole different thing. Some of the things on the other side are pretty bad as well. Taking things way out of context.

        Vox Day and the Gamergate hurt the sad puppies argument from the inside, which sucks because they are not the same thing. SAD Puppies has some stuff there that worth doing.Rapid Puppies is not helping.

        • That’s just the same “no true Scotsman” argument that GamerGate makes whenever one of their short-bus-riders does something verifiably awful. “Oh, they’re not REALLY part of this.”

          If Vox Day was not the same thing, why did the Sad Puppy slate include so many entries from Castalia House, which is the publishing house that Day owns?

          For a group that now is scrambling to distance themselves, they sure seemed OK with legitimizing him on the slate…

          • Or better yet, if Vox Day is objectionable to the Sad Puppies, why was he included in the first (and second, I believe) ballots? This is not a decades-old movement. This is a three-year-old campaign with the same people in charge from start to finish, and I doubt they’ve come around on Day’s atrociousness completely. They just realized that it looks bad to include him.

    • I don’t think your links are helping your point as much as you think they are. No LC is not VD but he doesn’t come of as overly level headed or thoughtful in the posts.

      SFF fandom goes through cycles. When society goes through them we mirror them. We also fall into the nostalgia trap just like any other group. I’m sure the Hugos will survive this years crazies as it has past scandals and abnormalities.

      • Unfortunately, you don’t know Mr. Correia’s experiences with his detractors. Could he be nicer? I know that I certainly couldn’t deal with the barbs slung at him on a daily basis. I don’t know if you’re aware of the recent Entertainment Weekly/Guardian/Telegraph/etc. attacks; being lied about and attacked on blogs (in incredibly vile manners) is one thing, but in national- and international-level major media is something entirely different.

        • “Unfortunately, you don’t know Mr. Correia’s experiences with his detractors.”

          I do, from personal experience.

          We met at a con a few years ago. Got along great. He sent me a galley PDF of the first Grimnoir book because he wanted my opinion on a couple of things. Then I had the temerity to disagree with him on his blog, advocating a mild gun control measure. (Specifically: if your gun’s not in your possession, the law should require that you put it in a safe or pull the firing pin, so a thief can’t waltz in, pick it up, and go on a killing spree.)

          His reaction was somewhat rabid, to the point that I confronted him about it the next time I saw him. He replied that he hadn’t bothered to respond to what I’d said, but where he assumed I was headed. I believe his reasoning was that it saved time to address my “real” argument rather than the words I’d written. It was inconceivable that I actually said what I meant, rather than my message being the first step towards advocating Total Gun Confiscation.

          I pretty much gave up on regarding him as a rational person at that point, and from what I’ve seen since then, I wasn’t wrong.

          So, spare me the “poor abused Larry” song. He is deliberately abrasive. Correia cultivates the abuse he gets, in exactly the same way he claims “professional victims” like Anita Sarkeesian (his example, not mine) do. I have less than no sympathy for him; while I don’t approve of abuse, I cannot deny that I feel a certain twinge of vindication when I see that yet another person has had it with his behavior.

        • Women, disabled people, PoC, *isms deal with abuse offline and online daily. I’ve ben targeted a few times. I know what it feels like. I didn’t see and still don’t see a need to be abusive back.

          I speak out as a feminist. So far I’ve not had rape and murder threats. But I’ve taken a fair amount of abuse. Heck before I started speaking out on the topic I had to come up with a plan in case I was targeted IRL by doxxing or worse (I’ve lived through worse). Do you think LC has had to plan out how to make police reports, protect his spouse from harm, think about temporary lodging, taping phone calls, over these barbs slung at him? I’m guessing no. But women do when they speak out. I had to when I made the decision to be more vocal.

          I don’t think I’ve seen/heard anyone has threatened to rape or murder LC. So far as I know no one has doxxed or swatted him. I don’t believe he has lived through being raped.

          His past association with Vox Day has harmed him and will continue to harm him. His verbal attacks on SJWs (people who think all human beings should have equal rights and be treated equally) will also continue to harm him outside of his little group.

          So I’m afraid I’m unable to find a lot of sympathy for poor Larry. There were lots of ways he could have gone about promoting conservative books/white male/military SciFi/male fantasy books which wouldn’t have garnered so much derision. He didn’t choose to do that instead he chose to do “sad puppies, make them cry”. His choice.

          • Nobody is “part” of GamerGate.

            But he’s a supporter of it.

   (“I’m loving #Gamergate”).

            He’s supported #Gamergate propaganda —

            He’s called Brianna Wu, who is genuinely a cool human being, an “opportunistic vulture.”

            In the Breitbart article, Day directly draws the connection between GamerGate and the Hugo Puppies slate — and despite the story going around the LC is distancing himself from VD, he tweets at him often enough to diminish that narrative:

            Whatever side of the political spectrum you choose, Gamergate was a toxic fungal bloom of horrible people pretending it was about one thing (“ethics!”) when really it was about the aggressive, callous pushback against women inside game culture. It has become a marginalized, ineffective player — a fringe group with 15 minutes of fame, and associating themselves with it only makes the Sad Puppies look a hundred times worse. And it utterly betrays any of that pretend happy horseshit about, “We just want to get some good books and authors nominated.”

            — c.

          • Chuck:

            Let’s also note that the Breitbarticle you’re talking about was co-authored by one of THE big names in GamerGate – Milo.

            Nope, no GG connection or political angle there. Nothing to see, just move along…

          • Travis, having a black wife does not excuse Brad T from the words I’ve seen him post on the net. Hurtful words. Aimed at women and PoC. Yes I’ve read Torgenson’s blog post & comments elsewhere prior to this year. I’ve had online conversation with him. I’ve been attacked for asking why he wasn’t happy when stated sad puppy 2 goals were met “stuff on ballot & make them unhappy/mad/cry” (paraphrasing). Again this year he states he would be ok (paraphrasing) if it upsets SJWs but then he is all offended when the way he goes about things causes backlash. He needs to learn to stand by his word or not say things he doesn’t mean IMHO.

            Most men in the US are unconsciously sexist and have to work hard not to be if that is a goal for them. Yet tons of feminists are married to men who are somewhat sexist (unconscious bias). The same thing about racism. All having a black wife proves is Brad T is married.

            If you want to challenge yourself try taking the tests at it can be eye opening. It was for me a feminist at how much unconscious bias I have when it comes to gender roles.

            I’m not saying Brad is a bad or evil person. I’m simply saying the way he ran the SP3 including language used didn’t differ much from SP2. It didn’t put enough focus on quality books. It continued to focus on “evil SJWs” ensuring backlash which had to be expected. It’s impossible to hide behind a black wife to be excused from everything one did to lead to said backlash.

          • April 9, 2015 at 1:45 PM //

            Interesting note: I went to Brad Thorgersen’s blog and read a ton of the comments beneath it. I’ll say this: everybody here is being much nicer to Travis for having a different opinion than the people who frequent Camp Thorgersen. Those are some hateful sonsabitches. To people who post *moderate* disagreement. No dialogue there at all. It made me ashamed that I ever spoke in favor of less vitriol here.

          • April 9, 2015 at 4:54 PM //

            “Do you think LC has had to plan out how to make police reports, protect his spouse from harm, think about temporary lodging, taping phone calls, over these barbs slung at him? I’m guessing no.”

            Actually, he used to teach women just that, back when he used to teach women how to shoot, in addition to self and home defense. Many of those women he taught for free because they had been victims of rape or other crimes. He is a great believer that women should not be victims and should be taught everything they need to know to protect themselves, and is quite the proud papa when it comes to posting pics on his fb page of his eldest daughter at the range.

          • “Actually, [Correia] used to teach women just that, back when he used to teach women how to shoot, in addition to self and home defense.”

            And that is in no way the same thing as understanding what it feels like to live in fear. It’s like when he says he’s Hispanic, not white, and thus he can’t possibly have “white privilege,” whatever that mythical beast may mean this week. [To be clear: I’m speaking from my understanding of his views, not my own, in that sentence. Keep reading.]

            News flash: I’ve met the man, and he’s almost as pale as I am. His *heritage* is Latino, but he’s not even close to brown enough to get pulled over for no reason, followed by store security, or any of the other hassles that darker-skinned people get on a daily basis. In other words, when it comes to skin color and privilege/disadvantage, he’s squarely on the “privileged” side of that slash.

            But then, like I’ve said before, he is deliberately abrasive. Correia uses his Hispanic heritage just as VD uses his recently-discovered* Native American heritage: as a Take That to anyone who disagrees with their views.

            * See for the story. Summary: VD had no idea he had Native American blood until August 2014. Ever since then, he has missed no opportunity to adopt that identity whenever useful.

          • April 9, 2015 at 6:55 PM //

            “Most men in the US are unconsciously sexist and have to work hard not to be if that is a goal for them. Yet tons of feminists are married to men who are somewhat sexist (unconscious bias). The same thing about racism. All having a black wife proves is Brad T is married.”

            Thank you. I now know all I need to know about you. You, however, are not the arbiter of others’ thoughts. These are baseless allegations — you have no proof other than your own prejudice.

            Mr. Wendig, thank you for letting me hang out here for a few days. I hope I’m still welcome when I come back after all the Hugo hoopla is over.

  • Min-Maxing ain’t all that bad. My Hugo Award build is high Intelligence and Wisdom with Charisma as my dump stat. Feats that focus on exploration and communication are a must. Unfortunately, these Sad Puppies only seem to be optimized for fighting Lawful/Good and Neutral/Good humanoid types, which is a very limited range in my opinion. I mean, sure, a party of level 1 Sad Puppies might be able to handle a level 3 Shining Knight encounter with 2D3 Social Justice Warriors thrown in for good measure, but the roleplaying possibilities just disappear after that. Where’s the fun in SFF if it’s going to be a one trick pony like that? Give me court intrigue and mad kings! Give me crafty viziers and tough princesses. Give me legendary Star Metal blades and ray-gun crossbows! Give me spaceships crewed by space pirates hoisting the solar sails off the starboard bow! I guess what I’m trying to say is Sad Puppies make me sad and no amount of roleplaying can save them. “I hit it with my axe!” Yes, Sad Puppy. Yes you do.

  • I find this thing wholly frustrating.

    On one level, there’s one of the authors who is clearly Right Wing, cheering for this GamerGate “wah where is all the straight male books”, whose writing I LIKE. Those politics aren’t present in his books and I enjoyed them before I found out how he acts. Now what? Do I stop reading/supporting him or do I do it with a held nose?

    Then there are the authors who I respect, who I know are apolitical, who have lots of female fans, who are also part of Sad Puppies. I am almost certain they got involved because “a well written story with no message is better than a bad story with a good message”*. But these folks are the equivalent of the naive GG activist who genuinely believe it’s about ethics in gaming journalism. And they’re not going to be convinced otherwise. What do I do about this? Do I go crash their fan forum or do I shut my mouth, do I hope they win or do I just ignore it all?

    Why does everything have to be political?

    *A point that is fair. And like the cry of “ethics in gamer journalism”, it’s something I could agree with if it was actually about that and was remotely fair and respectful.

    • Obviously since this is SFF, that would mean the Sad Puppies couldn’t beat the high AC of the gazebo’s Spiked Nega-armor and the gazebo fired back with a neutron pulse ray, obliterating everything in that direction for up to a light-year (further at higher levels). What they should have done was try diplomacy or some kind of negotiation skill. Thanks to the gazebo’s very rudimentary cogitator banks, it would have been a much easier check to make.

      • (That was intended as a reply to your post. I have apparently failed my wordpress skill check.) From the looks of it, none of the Sad Puppies have put any points in Diplomacy. Poor foresight, I guess. But negotiation usually fails with gazebos, doesn’t it? Those cogitator banks aren’t up to the nuance required. Granted, a better plan is not attacking it at all, but the results of gazebo interaction are essentially binary.

        If attacking, though, I always thought you were supposed to shoot it with the ray-gun crossbow, then grab a high-yield flamethrower or some sort of napalm since axes are far too low-tech. It would undoubtedly have been made of some sort of nanotube-esque carbon lattice and thus not be readily flammable in this case, but it’s still the proper opening sequence and they have firmly established that they want to be traditionalists.

        The neutron pulse ray is one I’ll have to disagree with. These were clearly modeled after the ancient gazebos of lore*, and those never carried weapons. I expect it would either crush someone in its gears or teleport them to the core of a sun.

        * The traditional result of attacking the gazebo is that it eats you.

        • Yes, the most ancient and venerated of the Elder Gazebos were picky about how they disposed of their enemies, weren’t they? You’re right of course, they would scoff at the use of something as clumsy and random as a neutron pulse ray. They would prefer elegant methods of destruction from a more civilized age, like the aforementioned teleportation module, or the ever faithful maw of holding. Hell, now I want to run a game of anything that has a nano-mechazebo in it. So much good stuff here!

          • April 6, 2015 at 7:17 PM //

            I sort of want a nano-mechazebo now, and will probably have to take every excuse I can to sneak one in to any relevant creative endeavor. I have many reasons, not the least of which is that “nanomechazebo” gets more fun to say every single time you say (or even think) it.

  • Uh, I’m actually quite worried about the dinosaurs. Do they just roam free? What happened to the paddock? Where is Chris Pratt, Raptor Wrangler?

    • Unfortunately Chris Pratt was only qualified to wrangle raptors. As a result he failed to wrangle a t-rex and he crashed his motor bike while trying to escape. Now no one is able to control the raptors which are now roaming free and eating everyone.

  • I think Lee Harris summed it up when he said: “But the system is broken. It’s always been open to abuse, of course. But this year the abusers came out in force and coordinated their abuse.

    Well Lee, welcome to a world dominated by social media, where any mob can take over the agenda/conversation. It is the world in which we live.

    So I guess we should just #boycotthugos and leave it at that.

  • Blimey… looking at that slate, John C. Wright had better bring a blimmin’ big carrier bag with him to the awards ceremony…

    Speaking for myself, I can’t honestly say I’ve ever picked up a SFF book and thought “Ooh, I must read that” just because it won or was nominated for a Hugo award. I mean, it might’ve made me pick it off a shelf (virtual or otherwise) but I’d still read the back blurb and maybe the first page or two before I decided if I wanted to read the rest or not. I think that’s true for lots of people, so I don’t think this Sad Puppies tactic will achieve much long-term – if anything at all. At least, I really hope not.

    There was a massive backlash of sexist, racist and anti-feminist behaviour in the ‘seventies (just take a look at a lot of the stand-up ‘comics’ and sit-so-called-‘coms’ of that time for evidence) because that was round about the time women and minority groups began getting more rights and freedom to work, to make choices – to just have a bit more of a LIFE, frankly. Which meant all the greedy kiddies got scared that more nice things for other people were nice things they could’ve snarfed for themselves instead and that’s not fair why should the people who didn’t have them before start having them too..? This, GamerGate and all the other, entitled screeching is just the same thing, coming around again. As you said, Chuck, a bunch of dinosaurs waving their tiny arms.

  • [Disclaimer — I support those who wish to fight puppy-related sadness by improving the voting choices for the Hugo Award. That said, I’ve only attended one Worldcon (long time ago) and have no interest in getting a membership or voting myself. I’m just too old to waste my time on foolishness and would rather spend my time reading SFF I enjoy.]
    Mr. Wendig,
    Thank you for saying that you support those who want to read good books and that you want to encourage good writers to write good books that readers want to read — me too. I’ve been reading SFF for nearly fifty years (my parents had an extensive library, encouraged us to read, and we enjoyed) and hope to continue until my eyes permanently cross, and then I’ll switch to audio books.
    If you are unclear as to what the puppy reference is all about: puppies are the happiest of creatures, but a couple of years ago Mr. Correia decided that the Hugo Award winners of the recent past were so boring and preachy that they were enough to make even puppies sad; hence, the Sad Puppy movement was all about making puppies happy again by putting books on the Hugo nomination list that [he and like-minded others felt] are worth reading.
    I don’t care about the politics of the authors I read. All I care about is whether they write good books I want to read. I have two of your books (Blackbirds and Mockingbird) on my to-read list (when they’re available at BN) and look forward to reading them; I found you via Kevin Hearne (now *there* is a Hugo-worthy author!) two months ago when I was looking for more authors to read, and he highly recommended your work at his website.

  • Hmm…as it turns out, this is another case of social media mob action.

    I just read Scott Torgerson’s blog:

    You can disagree with his politics (conservative) or the method (legal ballot box stuffing), but I cannot abide a fabricated story such as the one that ran in Entertainment Weekly. This is especially rich coming off the Columbia School of Journalism rebuke of Rolling Stone for their completely (and in my mind criminal) debacle of lies about a supposed rape on the UVA campus. It’s just another example of a lie being touted as journalism, with a bunch of lemmings looking for blood pouring gas on the social media bonfire.

    The whole thing is disgusting.

    • The author behind the made-up hit job for Entertainment Weekly — Isabella Biedenharn — has deleted her Twitter account and EW has issued a retraction for the considerable inaccuracies (read: she made shit up) in her story about the Hugo Awards.

      • Unfortunately, the story went viral across the internet via twitter, etc. Three major media sites published at about the same time — EW, The Guardian, and The Telegraph — along with six other minor, but notable, sites. Even with an immediate retraction, the damage has been done. It doesn’t matter that the truth is out there; the lies will long outlast the truth, and he and many others will forever be branded racists and misogynists.
        Blogs are one thing, major media outlets are another — this was deliberate, and disgusting.

        • And people who wanted to see a great anti-gay, racist conspiracy jumped on the band wagon. Thankfully, nobody tweeted Torgerson’s home address suggesting they all go there and burn his house down.

          These Nazi tactics based on propaganda need to stop. NOW.

    • That’s the interesting / really sad thing about these late days of the information age. When somebody does or says something we don’t agree with, we view it as practically a responsibility to attempt to completely ruin them on professional, personal, psychological, and metaphysical levels. I think that is the reaction mostly because it’s just so easy now.

      “You hold an opinion I do not hold? To the Endless Dark with you!” *sends incendiary email to click-bait news source*

      It was only a few days ago that Chuck Wendig fell victim to this same social inclination.

      The whole thing shows a diminishment of perspective and misunderstanding of proportion.

      It won’t be long and we’ll be doing that over whose cute-cat video is best.

  • Kinda makes you wish for the days when the controversy was about how undignified it was to remind people which works of yours were Huge-eligible, eh?

    I read Correia’s post, and the thing that stood out to me was that he really seemed to believe that there was a secret cabal of liberals who had already stolen the Hugos, so their tactics were simply fighting fire with fire to steal the award back. I only wish the liberals were as powerful as some of the conservative factions seem to think we are.

    Also, if their goal was to get high-quality, overlooked works on the ballot? They did not succeed. Though I don’t think that was actually the goal at all, as other commenters have said. Correia may have claimed it was the goal, but to me it’s pretty obvious that it was not.

    • It takes only a few people making a concerted effort behind the scenes to get specific pieces nominated; most year, fewer than one hundred votes are needed, IIRC — difficult, but doable.
      I’d like to see next year’s SP slate have ten to twenty suggested nominees in each category. That would make it a bit harder to be accused of “stealing the Hugos.” As I said above, I’m only interested in this because I’m always looking for good authors to read (loved the fav-fic-list in another post here, btw). Unfortunately, this year’s SP slate was heavy in hard SF, which isn’t high on my list of reading; I vastly prefer fantasy.
      I’ve read that Kate Paulk will be running SP4, in case anyone is interested.

      • 20+ nominations would be a good idea. Then they might not miss some really good and well written works which fit with their political leanings – or at least ones that aren’t written by us SJWs types. If they were to do that and cut back on the hyperbole and outrage at “diverse literature” it would make a big difference in how the whole thing is perceived.

        Frankly I’d have no problem seeing the kind of authors they want on the ballot if they weren’t being so obnoxious about the way they were going about it and the books were actually readable (my husband reads stuff I consider awful from a sexist/racist standpoint but it’s readable/well written if I turn that part of my brain off). People keep pointing me at links to show that this year the attitude was different but I’m seeing much of the same language as last year.

        If the campaign includes “let’s stick it to them” it’s going to be reviled. It also needs new branding. The Conservatives reading list? It needs to be totally focused on quality works. A list of “I’m eligble for these works (or these are my favorite books from 2015) – what books did you like this year – would be way better. Three weeks before nominating time is over a reminder and a list of all the recommended works which are felt to be QUALITY works posted.

        Suggestions from an evil SJW who doesn’t give a f*ck if the book winning is right/left/middle but hates slates & make them cry campaigns & thinks the book should be quality writing – all books are political some are your politics & some are mine but even Dick & Jane books are political (white, middle class, suburban, elitism).

  • Just to recap what I posted on a Facebook discussion of this issue. Dean Koontz when he was in charge of HWA pleaded with the organization not to create annual awards. He was ignored, and HWA had its own travails in years past with hinky, politicized awards. The point Koontz made – much more eloquently than I can – is that awards don’t matter, the work is all that matters.

    Rest assured that despite all the energy, strife, anger, verbal mud slinging, online yelling, etc., about this year’s Hugo ballots, 99.9999999% of readers who pick up short story collection or novel in a bookstore or library, don’t have any awareness about all that arguing. And, 99.99999999% of those readers don’t buy or read a book or story because it won an award.

    The only argument that could be made is that some bookstores and some libraries might make purchasing decisions based on Hugo winners or nominees.

    That’s not to say that these argument’s shouldn’t happen. For the record, I would love that fantasy, science fiction, mysteries, thrillers, and all genres reflect the diverse world that we live in – diversity in characters, beliefs, race, gender identity, sexuality, plots, etc.

    But at the end of the day all the politicking and arguing is wasted effort. That energy would be much, much, much better directed in writing another short story, revising a short story, writing a new novel, etc., etc.

    • I’m doing lots of reading and working on getting back into the habit of actually reviewing and not just starring books. Hard when I’ll and have post-concussion syndrome from being hit by a truck a few years ago. Luckily I’m also getting better at making notes while reading even if it does pull me out of the reading experience – or reading a 2nd time to take notes.

  • Thanks for the analysis! I’m a longtime SF reader who is just starting to learn about the backstage stuff. I’m really not fond of the creep of “choose your side” politics trying to enter any arena where it’s been mostly held at bay. There are always going to be difference of opinions in the creative arts — that’s what makes it “fun,” — but usually pure activist politics stays out. Or when it does it threatens to damage everyone’s integrity. You make a good point about the winning writers not knowing if they win because of politics or because of quality, and the fans will have the same thoughts.

  • April 8, 2015 at 4:51 PM // Reply

    I’m a relative sci-fi/fantasy newbie, and I mostly read leftish sci-fi blogs, and I haven’t seen very many people pooh-pooh or heaping scorn upon white male conservative-leaning writers in general. People write articles championing writers who aren’t the white cismale hetero norm, but I don’t see a lot of bashing of writers who are white cismale and hetero. The exception are those writers whose internet presence is so loud, obnoxious, and/or offensive that it becomes distracting.

    People weren’t trying to silence the Larry Correias of the world, from what I could see, they were just excited that there were so many people with a different perspective, and a perspective that hadn’t really been seen before. This is what the SPs are having to contend with. They are a hamburger joint, and a cuban place, a sushi place, and a vegan restaurant have all opened up on their street. There’s more variety now, and which means more competition, and people getting excited about what is new. That doesn’t mean that people don’t want hamburgers anymore, but they might not be the preferred food of some people.

    And how the hell is a writer who is either a woman, or of color, or lbbtq less preferable than an outspoken racist whose views went out of vogue in in the first half of the 20th century? Why would you pick Vox Day over NK Jemisin? “Whoah, your protagonist is a black woman who can fight, and there are slight romantic elements in this epic fantasy story, so I’ma hafta go with the virulent racist over here. At least his stories don’t have any kissing!”

    Like the gamergaters, the SPs are on the wrong side of this argument. Do they think they are george wallace or martin luther king Jr.? Cuz they sure as hell ain’t MLK on this one.

  • I would like the nominations be limited to one or two by voting member to discourage slates. I would also like more than 5 on the final ballot but not more than 10 as who has time to read them all, something it is barely possible to do with five or six.
    I made a reply to Brad Torgersen’s post where I explain how he was played and the Sad Puppies intention of making the Hugo’s more inclusive by getting conservative works on the ballot were subverted by the Rabid Puppies slate. Vox Day designed and succeeded in some categories of excluding any people or works not nominated by their two very small cliques, creating less diversity and showing the conservative version of political correctness.

    • As I said upthread: That’s just the same “no true Scotsman” argument that GamerGate makes whenever one of their short-bus-riders does something verifiably awful. “Oh, they’re not REALLY part of this.”

      If Vox Day was not the same thing, why did the Sad Puppy slate include so many entries from Castalia House, which is the publishing house that Day owns?

      For a group that now is scrambling to distance themselves, they sure seemed OK with legitimizing him on the slate…

      • They seem to blend into each other but the Voice of God is at the extreme with more money. Who else would set up a Finnish publishing house to make sure that outspoken voices on the conservative side are eligible and if he can do that it seems obvious he could buy more supporting memberships. knowing just a hundred or show could get someone on the ballot in most categories.
        I would like the con to determine the maximum number of membership that were sold to the same paypal or credit card accounts.

        • Honestly I doubt VD paid for people’s supporting membership. I believe enough conservative SFF/others who follow VD/LC/Torgenson believe in the SP and what they are doing to pay their own way and vote the slates. I don’t think we need to over-conspiracy this.

  • What is the value of a Hugo? I have worked as a bookseller for 25 years, ranging from independents, to college stores, and the big box store format. When a bookseller knows *nothing* about SFF, they often turn to award lists or the “Hugo Award Winner” emblazoned on a book. The dialogue with the customer–in this case, typically someone who doesn’t really know the field and is just *looking for a good book*–consists of “This won a Hugo, so it is *obviously* good.” If a customer has read SFF and has specific likes and dislikes, this conversation is less likely to happen. If the bookseller has read SFF, this conversation is less likely to happen. However, this conversation happens. Frequently. This is the value of a Hugo to the world at large–a world, that even now, has no idea what has happened with the Hugo nominations this year. All they want is a good book. All the bookseller want is to sell them one.

  • Look on the bright side – WorldCon is being held in the United States. Even if VD does win an award, he’s unlikely to attend.

    I suggest that someone invite an agent of the IRS to come and sit in the front row at the ceremony. Should VD actually win something, God help us, the award can go into the care and keeping of that agent, and all VD has to do to collect it is walk into an IRS office within a US jurisdiction and identify himself…

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