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Karl-Johan

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Thoughts on the Hugos and the Puppies [Apr. 23rd, 2015|01:39 pm]
Karl-Johan
This will be a mishmash of various thoughts on the Hugos and the involvement of the Sad and Rabid Puppies (Mike Glyer has done a wonderful job to document everything over on File 770). I'm not really writing to argue for a specific action, more to make clear how I think myself here.

First, by an effective slate campaign, the Hugo shortlist has become dominated by the selections of a few people, more specifically Theodore Beale, Brad Torgersen, and Larry Correia. I don't really care about the why here, but I strongly resent that only three people - who appear to be close friends - have acted as the gatekeepers instead of a thousand. By this they have hurt the integrity of the Hugo award itself.

Second, by doing this they haven't broken any written rules about the Hugos, but they have broken an unwritten rule: that every person who nominates or votes should have read the work themselves and judged it worthy of the award. Some people take this very seriously, including me. We take it so seriously that we don't think of ourselves as well-read and well-oriented enough in the field to nominate. I know Kevin Standlee and others have argued for making it easier to vote, not harder, but the tendency is very much there. The slates very much act as a betrayal against this.

Third, any institutional reaction to this will be a long time coming, and I won't be able to influence that myself (since I won't be at the WSFS business meeting). (I've seen some comments about that being unfair. It is. But the alternative is far worse - WSFS is a meatspace organisation organising a meatspace event, and opening the doors to proxy voting can cause all sorts of havoc given prior experiences. The choice is between "unfair" and "grossly unfair".)

Fourth, even if the Puppies and others, like Eric Flint, have a point in that there is a growing disconnect between the popular sf fields and the Hugo electorate, this has always been a weak barrier. While it's true that the Worldcon electorate has chosen from a rather narrow list within the published sf field (witness eg the long list of nominations for Bujold - and I like Bujold), there has been a clear route for aspiring authors to get onto that list: go to Worldcon, and make friends there.

Sure, not every author is able or willing to go to Worldcon. Not fair. But not every worthy author gets published either. Not fair either.

Fifth, to me the Hugos aren't like the Oscars, who are primarily about commercial achievements in the field. I want to give the Hugos to the works that stretches and expands the field of science fiction and fantasy the most: picking up new questions, giving new tools to other authors, and so on. Sometimes, that means going over some old field again, if only to look at it with new eyes (like John Scalzi did in Redshirts). In short, the Hugos should be the science fictional vanguard of science fiction. They should be good reads, but they should stretch your mind, too.

Given my third point, the goal to me here must be to protect the integrity of the Hugo awards. Having one or two works in the shortlist that are there from a campaign isn't good, but doesn't really hurt the integrity of the award. Having three or more does hurt it. Either it makes it impossible to choose a worthy winner, or it defaults the winner.

So what am I going to do? I'm going to put every slate candidate below No Award. I know that it is unfair to Kary English, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, and others who were placed on the slates without their own volition or without any real knowledge. But this situation is already grossly unfair to everyone but Theodore Beale, Brad Torgersen, or Larry Correia. What I need to do is help protect the integrity of the Hugos for the coming years.

I will still give those a fair chance read when I get the packet. If nothing else, I might nomimate them next year.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: seawasp
2015-04-23 05:40 pm (UTC)
The whole thing is very painful for me as I'm a Baen author, which means that most of my presumed peers are involved or at least cheerleading, and I have to try to mostly stay out of it, as I don't really agree with anything they've done, and certainly not with their conspiracy theory. And in NO way do I ever want to be associated with Vox Day.
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[User Picture]From: kjn
2015-04-23 06:50 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I can understand the position that you, or Eric Flint, David Drake, or PC Hodgell are stuck in. But I believe you're the one that's hit the hardest - you have exactly the type of old-fashioned adventure that the sad puppies say they want, AND you tie back into the genre's roots and update them for a modern audience.
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[User Picture]From: seawasp
2015-04-23 07:32 pm (UTC)
And my attitudes are 90% SJW. :(
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[User Picture]From: madfilkentist
2015-04-23 06:57 pm (UTC)
I've been watching only sporadically, since I haven't been a Worldcon member in years, but I'm bothered by some ugly things I've seen, including blatantly false claims about the Puppy slate. One thing I don't know is just how the three people you mentioned promoted the slate; whether they urged people (either explicitly or implicitly) to vote without reading, or whether people just joined the rush and decided to vote blindly for the slate.

I've wound up hoping Tomorrow's Songs Today doesn't get nominated for BRW next year, since I'd just get crushed in the middle of the inevitable battle.
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[User Picture]From: kjn
2015-04-23 07:09 pm (UTC)
On the contrary, I just noted down Tomorrow's Songs Today as a BRW, or perhaps as a fan writer Hugo. It's exactly the type of work that should be celebrated at Worldcon!

Torgersen was careful to couch his words, including things like that the slate was a recommendation, but the goal was certainly to get his fans to vote "his" recommendation, and maybe add in a work or two of their own.

As for Beale, the less said the better.

Note that this is apart from any discussion about the political slant of the slate, their ideological underpinnings, of misconceptions of the genre and the Worldcons.
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[User Picture]From: seawasp
2015-04-23 07:35 pm (UTC)
Vox Day/Beale explicitly told his followers to vote the straight slate. Torgerson was much more "these are my recs, but vote for whatever works for you".

It's also clear that it was Vox' Rabid group that really won the day; the Sad Puppies hardly made a dent.
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[User Picture]From: kjn
2015-04-23 07:41 pm (UTC)
I believe that last line is speculation. I imagine if Beale hadn't opened up the RP slate, then a lot (not all) of those using that slate would have gone over to the SP slate. But we don't know.
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[User Picture]From: seawasp
2015-04-23 07:58 pm (UTC)
I'm talking about what happened, not might have. There's an analysis (I've got a bookmark on it at home, but I'm at work) which shows just how completely the Rabids dominated.
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[User Picture]From: madfilkentist
2015-04-23 10:54 pm (UTC)
Perhaps you're thinking of this article? (URL munged because LJ thinks almost all URLs are spam; remove all spaces and change bullets to periods)

http : // difficultrun•nathanielgivens•com/2015/04/14/sad-puppy-data-analysis/
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[User Picture]From: seawasp
2015-04-24 05:53 pm (UTC)
Yes, I think that's it.
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[User Picture]From: sue_bursztynski
2015-04-28 11:53 am (UTC)
Karl-Johan, as the ASIMite who edited the most recent issue of ASIM I am perfectly happy for you just to read the thing. Really. Read, enjoy. Vote as you please. :-)
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[User Picture]From: kjn
2015-04-28 02:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Yes, I will put you below No Award this year (for the reasons outlined above), but I will certainly take a good hard look at ASIM this year, when I get the package, and ask myself if I should include it on my own Hugo nomination ballot next year. Right now your mature reaction puts you in the pole position there.

Hopefully, I hope next year will be a year that every finalist can be proud to show that they are Hugo finalists.
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[User Picture]From: sue_bursztynski
2015-05-02 08:29 am (UTC)
And yours is also a mature attitude, against the "I'm not wasting my time reading anything on that list, it's bound to be dreadful!" I have seen elsewhere. I doubt we would win anyway, but perhaps a few new subscriptions...? ;-)
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