DO WE REALLY HAVE TO KEEP FEEDING STUPID AND HIS COUSIN IGNORAMUS?

Wired magazine just ran an article on the recently-concluded Hugo awards, voted on at Sasquan, the world science fiction convention held in Spokane, Washington over the past weekend. There is much in the article that I have no objection to, but it does not begin well.

Here is a passage from early in the article:

“Though voted upon by fans, this year’s Hugo Awards were no mere popularity contest. After the Puppies released their slates in February, recommending finalists in 15 of the Hugos’ 16 categories (plus the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer), the balloting had become a referendum on the future of the genre. Would sci-fi focus, as it has for much of its history, largely on brave white male engineers with ray guns fighting either a) hideous aliens or b) hideous governments who don’t want them to mine asteroids in space? Or would it continue its embrace of a broader sci-fi: stories about non-traditionally gendered explorers and post-singularity, post-ethnic characters who are sometimes not men and often even have feelings?”

As a description of the Sad Puppies and the sort of fiction they prefer, this sentence manages the singular feat of being simultaneously dishonest and laughable:

Would sci-fi focus, as it has for much of its history, largely on brave white male engineers with ray guns fighting either a) hideous aliens or b) hideous governments who don’t want them to mine asteroids in space?

I suppose it’s possible that one of the Sad Puppies or the authors they tend to like has at one time or another written a story whose central protagonist is a white male engineer with a ray gun, but I’ve never seen it. Is it really too much to ask people who take it upon themselves to criticize the Sad Puppies to FUCKING READ what they actually write? Instead of doing what the Puppies themselves are all too often guilty of, which is to ascribe content to a story based on whether they like or dislike the author’s politics.

So, if an author known to be a leftie of some kind should write a novel in which the central characters are two young women—not even that; teenage girls—who are both super-warriors in a desperate struggle against a zombie apocalypse and includes a very moving and positive portrayal of a gay couple to boot, then obviously the SJW author was beating the poor downtrodden audience over the head with his (or more likely, her) CHORF message.

Except… the novel I just depicted is John Ringo’s Under a Graveyard Sky, the first volume in his popular Black Tide Rising series. And if there is any modern author who more-or-less anchors the right wing in science fiction, it’s John Ringo. Ringo was not himself a participant in the Sad Puppy business, but he’s been quite sympathetic toward them.

So, likewise, if an author known to be a leftie of some kind should write a YA novel in which the hero is a teenager from the Cape Coloured population of South Africa, obviously we are being beaten over the head with the dreaded Diversity Syndrome so beloved of SJWs and CHORFs the world over.

Except… the novel I just depicted is Dave Freer’s Cuttlefish, and Freer has been one of the Sad Puppies’ most vociferous supporters. Indeed, they nominated his blog for Best Fan Writer. (It lost to “No Award.”)

So, likewise, if an author known to be a leftie should write a massive, sprawling military SF series whose central protagonist is a mixed-race female and features in addition two women of African descent as major characters—one a ruling monarch and the other an immensely capable military leader—clearly we are in the presence of the detested SJW/CHORF disease that is steadily undermining the genre.

Except… what I just described was David Weber’s immensely popular Honor Harrington series. And while Weber is not himself a participant in the Sad Puppy affair and has to the best of my knowledge expressed no opinion on the subject, he is politically conservative and is highly admired by every Sad Puppy I know.

So, likewise, if an author known to be a leftie of some kind should distort the stalwart military SF sub-genre with a novel whose central character deals as much with religious issues as military ones, we can only grimace in anticipation of a dreary tale devoted more to Message than Manly Mayhem.

Except… the novel in question is Brad Torgersen’s The Chaplain’s War. Yeah, that’s right—the Brad Torgersen.

You want me to go on? Trust me, I can. At great length. Another prominent Sad Puppy is Sarah Hoyt. I defy anyone with a single honest bone in their body—just one; even a pinkie bone—to read her collection of short stories Crawling Between Heaven and Earth and tell the world afterward that her only interests are writing stories that feature white male engineers with ray guns.

Please notice that the stereotypes cut both ways. Just as the depiction of the Sad Puppies by all too many of their opponents combine slander and ignorance, the denunciations leveled by the Sad Puppies against those they revel in calling “SJWs” can most charitably be called hypocritical. Throughout, they protest angrily that their own writings are being grossly caricatured—which is often true—but then they turn right around and level the same caricatures against their opponents.

For example, I would like one of the Sad Puppies to please explain to me why Kameron Hurley’s Hugo-award winning essay “We Have Always Fought” is a grotesque example of SJW political correctness run amok, especially in the unrealistic way it depicts the capabilities of women in combat. And yet those very same Puppies have no problem with at all with John Ringo’s depiction of the two central characters in the Black Tide Rising series, the teenage sisters Sophia and Faith Smith, displaying martial prowess that would have any legendary Amazon gaping in awed disbelief.

Why aren’t they denouncing Ringo for distorting his story in the interests of political correctness? Being blunt about it, Ringo’s depiction of the sisters—especially thirteen-year-old Faith—is more extravagant than anything Hurley says in her essay. I think his character of Faith is quite implausible, actually—and this is coming from a hard-bitten old socialist who gave a female warrior in his first novel Mother of Demons the name Ludmilla in honor of the legendary Soviet sniper in World War II, Ludmilla Pavlichenko. (If you’re not familiar with her, here’s the Wikipedia entry:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyudmila_Pavlichenko

This whole ruckus has been characterized since the very beginning by a truly grotesque distortion of each side of the debate by the other side. Watching it—participating in it—I’ve often felt like Alice in Wonderland. Half the time, my reaction to any given statement is: What the fuck are you talking about?

So. Let me establish some Basic Facts:

Fact One. There is no grandiose, over-arching SJW conspiracy to deny right-thinking conservative authors their just due when it comes to awards. It does not exist. It has never existed. It is nothing but the fevered dreams which afflict some puppies in their sleep.

It is preposterous—there is no other word for it—to claim that there is some sort of systematic bias against conservatives in F&SF in the same year (2015) that the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America bestowed the title of Grand Master on Larry Niven and the liberal literary magazine the New Yorker ran a very laudatory article on the author Gene Wolfe.

Fact Two. There is no reflexive reactionary movement to drag F&SF kicking and screaming back into the Dark Ages when all protagonists had to be white and male (and preferably either engineers or military chaps). The very same people who piss and moan about diversity-for-the-sake-of-it litter their own novels with exactly the same kind of diversity they deplore when their opponents do it.

Yeah, I know they’ll deny it. “The story always comes first!” But the fact is that there is no compelling plot function to Ringo’s inclusion of the gay couple in Under a Graveyard Sky. So why did he put them in the novel? The answer is that, like any good writer—and whatever my (many) political disagreements with John, he’s a damn good writer—he tries to embed his stories into the world he created for them. The world of Black Tide Rising is the modern world, and his novels reflect that—as they should.

And I defy anyone with a single honest bone in their body—just one; even a pinkie bone—to read his depiction of that gay couple and tell the world afterward that he’s a homophobe. Which is not to say, mind you, that John and I would agree on any number of issues that come up around the question of LGBT rights. But that’s a separate matter.

There are real disagreements and divisions lying at the heart of the Recent Unpleasantness. But I wish to hell people would dump the stupid stereotypes so we could get on with a serious discussion and debate.

Fact Three. Yes, there is a problem with the Hugo awards, but that problem can be depicted in purely objective terms without requiring anyone to impute any malign motives to anyone else. In a nutshell, the awards have been slowly drifting away from the opinions and tastes of the mass audience, to the point where there is today almost a complete separation between the two. This stands in sharp contrast to the situation several decades ago, when the two overlapped to a great extent. For any number of reasons, this poses problems for the awards themselves. The Hugos are becoming increasingly self-referential, by which I mean they affect and influence no one except the people who participate directly in the process.

That said, however, as I spent a lot of time in my first essay analyzing—see “Some comments on the Hugos and other SF awards”—the causes of the problem are complex and mostly objective in nature. There is no easy fix to the problem. There is certainly no quick fix. Most of all, there is no one to blame—and trying to find culprits and thwart the rascals does nothing except make the problem worse.

As time passes, this whole wrangle reminds me more and more of my two grandchildren squabbling in the back seat of my car.

She called me a dirty name!
    He did it first!
    She did it worse than I did!
    Did not!
    Did too!

So, I will end this first essay of what I expect will wind up being several post-Hugo essays with the traditional words of grandfatherly wisdom:
CUT IT OUT.

About Eric Flint

Author and Editor
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251 Responses to DO WE REALLY HAVE TO KEEP FEEDING STUPID AND HIS COUSIN IGNORAMUS?

  1. It’s a key aspect of human nature that people try to oversimplify things, especially things they disagree with. Call it a design flaw. Each side cherry-picks things the other said to disagree with, and blows them up—and when the other side accuses them of misrepresenting them, they just double-down and cherry-pick more. Maybe they don’t even realize they’re doing it in some cases. It’s exacerbated by the media looking for sound-bite-sized chunks, and so they latch onto specific select cherries. Then the other side offers some exception that they think disproves the assertion, and the first side thinks it’s a token response that proves the rule instead. Call it a design flaw. If only we humans hadn’t been made so damned imperfect. :P

    Doesn’t help matters that both sides are capable of looking at exactly the same object and seeing two different things. Puppies complain that the Ancillary books are politically-correct twaddle, seeing only the gimmick of the protagonist being from a culture that has no linguistic representation for gender and using only feminine pronouns. Puppy opponents see a rollicking good action-adventure story, of precisely the kind they would think the Puppies claim to be in favor of, with the extra frisson of a little intellectual puzzle on top that makes them think a little harder, and are puzzled by the Puppies’ claims. So many blind men and elephants wandering around and stepping on each others’ toes…

    Though even I may well be guilty of oversimplifying one position, the other, or both in that description.

    • Dex says:

      “Ancillary Justice” wasn’t bad, although “Warbound” was better. “Ancillary Sword” stunk. And I don’t want to live in the same GALAXY as the Radchaai.

      • Jayn says:

        I’m pretty sure you’re not SUPPOSED to want live in the same galaxy as the Radchaai. They’re depicted as an oppressive, tyrannical empire.

  2. David Walters says:

    I’m on the outside of all this. I read lots and lots of sci-fi but have never been to one of these “WorldCons” or whatever. I am active politically and Eric and I share a common political heritage. That said, I agree with him about accuracy and context. The discussion is amateurish and reminds me of some of the sectarian squabbling we saw on the left.

    I agree about how it is not always so easy to categorize writers who are professed “lefty” or “rightly”. Probably one of most conservative…dear I say “pro-racist” writers I’ve ever read has been S.M. Sterling. I mean it’s hard to read his Draka series without getting a hint that he actually admires the ultra-racists slavers that make up the main protagonists in the series. Yet…the wonderfully interesting “Oceans in the Sea of Time” series has a Black, lesbian Coast Guard captain as the main hero.

    I think books should be judged by the content and flow and, above all, creativity of the writer in question.

    David Walters

    • John Cowan says:

      Stirling is amply on record as saying the Draka series is about the worst thing that could possibly happen. Here’s the relevant paragraph from Wikipedia:

      Stirling frequently uses the Draka and other villains as point-of-view characters, leading to complaints that he has some sympathy with them. He is known to be dismayed by this analysis of his work. He describes the Draka series as dystopias based on “suppos[ing that] everything had turned out as badly as possible, these last few centuries”. Stirling responded to these accusations in his novel Conquistador, which contained the quotation (variously attributed to Larry Niven or Robert A. Heinlein) “There is a technical term for someone who confuses the opinions of a character in a book with those of the author. That term is idiot.”

    • wolfwalker says:

      Funny you should pick that example…

      “Yet…the wonderfully interesting “Oceans in the Sea of Time” series has a Black, lesbian Coast Guard captain as the main hero.”

      More than that: Captain Marian Alston is practically a straight flush of bigot-bait: black, lesbian, divorced, and a woman who is an experienced and competent warrior and military commander. She offends both hard-left and hard-right fanatics simply by existing. Yet she is the only character in the entire trilogy who is literally indispensable. You could take away Cofflin, Ian Arnstein, the Lisketters, any of the locals they meet, and still have a story. You could take away William Walker and make it strictly “time-travelers versus native-timers”, as Mr. Flint did in 1632, and still have a story. But Alston is indispensable — without someone who has knowledge of military tactics and strategy to organize and run the Nantucketer army, there is no story. Stirling took this one indispensable character and made her a straight flush of bigot-bait. Why? I never understood that. Any one of those traits, I could understand as a fairly standard (and appropriate) message against prejudice. But all of them in one character? It’s such an unlikely combination of traits that it broke the flow of the story for me. It was the one sour note in an otherwise magnificent piece of wordsmithing.

  3. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Sadly, while “Cut It Out” is excellent advice to all sides, one thought comes to mind.

    “It takes two sides to make peace but only one side to make war”.

    Right now, the Puppy-Kickers seem to be only interested in Sad Puppies’ surrender not in making peace.

    There’s been too much slander from the Puppy-Kickers to make a peace until they acknowledge that slander from their side. [Sad Smile]

    • Simon McNeil says:

      See I keep seeing that sentiment. But that’s a cop-out. The puppies got taken to task for slate stacking. Afterward several people on the “puppy kicker” side of the fence have called for dialogue and mediation, knowing this problem won’t go away otherwise.

      And the response is “but they are slandering us.”

      Meanwhile the saddest of all the puppies keeps calling everybody he doesn’t like morlocks.

      Stop with, “there can be no peace while PNH lives,” and come to the table to actually talk through your grievances. Expect there to be give and take. There are reasonable voices who will engage you.

      • Drak Bibliophile says:

        Another Slander IMO.

        Slates have been going on for years.

        One of the public ones is published by Locus Magazine.

        Oh, it’s just a list of recommendations?

        Sorry, but Sad Puppies publically called their list recommendations.

        “No peace while PNH lives”?

        Where did I say that?

        Sorry sir, Eric says the problem is on both sides not just on the Sad Puppy side.

        As long as people like you refuse to acknowledge the slanders, there can be no peace since we have no trust in your words.

        What are the slanders?

        Things like Nazis, Gay-Haters, Racists, Women-Haters, etc.

        • Eric Flint says:

          For Christ’s sake, DID YOU READ the post of mine you’re commenting on? I spent about half of it describing in detail — which you haven’t done, by the way — the ways in which the Sad Puppies have been slandered.

          If you can’t be bothered to read something you want to comment about, then obviously your comment has nothing to do with the subject at hand. It’s just canned diatribe.

          • Steve Lewis says:

            Eric, I think Drak is responding to Simon McNeil above.

            • Drak Bibliophile says:

              Agree Steve.

              In any case, this Sad Puppy doesn’t think the Puppy Kickers want peace and their comments have shown it.

          • Thomas Monaghan says:

            I want to know if you accepted the Alfie that Martin supposedly gave? And if the Alfie being produced by the so called neutral Martin doesn’t show his true leanings. Of course it wasn’t a left wing conspiracy to control the Hugo’s just a group of people who liked to give Hugo’s to their friends. IE. Tor long Form editors being won 5 out of 8 times by Tor editors with a total of 18 nominations. In 2012 Hugos’ the Long Form Editor final total were a total of 363 ballots. It would be interesting to see how many Tor employees voted for their editors and who paid for it.

            • Thomas Monaghan says:

              GRRM proved my point with his Alfies. His Long Form Editor adjusted without the Puppies.
              Likewise, the Long Form editor award was voted No Award, at 50.9% of the total vote. A revised ballot looks similar to that of last year’s awards, except without Toni Weisskopf, who took second to No Award, and with Patrick Nielsen Hayden and Anne Perry joining the ballot this time around. (Last year’s ballot also included Ginjer Buchanan, who retired last year and wasn’t eligible this year).

              Best Editor, Long Form

              Liz Gorinsky TOR
              Beth Meacham TOR
              Patrick Nielsen Hayden TOR
              Lee Harris
              Anne Perry
              Wow three Tor editors again.

        • Simon McNeil says:

          Ok, that wasn’t me slandering you – that was me making a weak stab at a Star Trek joke. You know: Star Trek IV – “There shall be no peace while James Kirk lives” – all that? Ok, nevermind, not relevant. But this is: Frank Wu’s Olive Branch

          Second comment in the thread:

          “You never did grok us. You never will.

          You think we should not oppose you after you invaded our genre and declared our favorite authors reprehensible. You suppose we might retreat now, after your bigotry and malice has so recently been brought into the light by your block voting No Award lest an award go to the ideologically impure. You hope that we would compromise with the kind of people who celebrate known child rapists but freeze out a Christian for adhering to the wrong faith. You want us to give up all of our power in exchange for a promise that you will start doing what you should have done all along – as if we would believe anything you say after experiencing decades of your lies and libels.

          Do you mistake us for Republicans? Or perhaps Charlie Brown to your Lucy?

          The response to your offer is no. This is our genre. That was our award. We built it, not you. If we cannot stop your desecration by taking it back, we have to burn it down and start over. We can build something new. You have proven, to everyone willing to see, that there is no other choice: wine and sewage cannot be stored in the same bottle. In the process, we will have to expose your ludicrous philosophy as the madness it is, and you for the morlocks you are. We no longer care how much pain that causes you.”

          Then later: “Burn it all down. We’re done with you.

          Jim Butcher was voted below no award. Burn it all down.

          Toni Weisskopf was voted below no award. Burn it all down.

          Irene Gallo called the works bad-to-reprehensible. Burn it all down.

          It was called the Year of the Asterisk. Burn it all down.

          Patrick Hayden yelled and cursed at L. Jagi Lamplighter. Burn it all down.

          The list goes on. They’ve called us racists without knowing us. They’ve called us misogynists without listening to us. They call us trolls when we disagree, and they somehow think banning us makes them stronger. They’ve called us jackasses, and they’ve called us dipshits, and most of us are standing here because we once tried to talk.

          But then we learned.

          They are the racist ones. They are the sexist ones. Anyone with clarity can see this. They attack the white, they condemn the male. They applaud their own sly brand of racism, but a racism that is socially acceptable is still not okay. To hell with them, and burn it down.

          They speak of privilege. The only privilege that has been at play in the community is the #DiversityPrivilege. The privilege of the liberal, of the liars and the hypocrites and the would-be controllers of expression. So burn it all down.

          The faceless rabid don’t make deals. I’m happy to spend good money the rest of my life. Money on fire to burn it all down.”

          And I keep seeing sentiments like this. Look, I didn’t vote “No Award” for all puppy categories, I think what happened in Editor Long Form was a travesty too, there was only one editor on that list who should have been below “No Award” – but if the Puppies won’t negotiate, if they won’t accept that, perhaps, they weren’t entirely the wronged, never the wronging, this isn’t going to get better for anybody.

        • clif says:

          so “Nazis, Gay-Haters, Racists, Women-Haters” are all slanders that must be addressed while “cock-sucking whores, Sodomite haters of Christ, Morlocks, CHORFs, etc etc” are not?

          especially since there is ample evidence that the first list are not slanders at all.

          • clif says:

            here …

            I’ll freely and gladly admit that not ALL puppies are Nazis, Gay-Haters, Racists, Women-Haters.

            however some, judging from their words and actions … appear to be.

            how about that? Sufficient?

  4. Noblehunter says:

    I think some “Puppy-Kickers” would argue that the Puppies’ also need to acknowledge slander from their side. Which I think would be more difficult because some of that slander is integral to the Puppies’ arguments. The bits about voting based on characteristics of the author or for message fiction are pretty insulting. Slander from “Puppy-Kickers” (when it is slander, anyways) is just stupidity and laziness.

    But then it’ll just turn into Eric’s grandchildren squabbling in the backseat.

    • Drak Bibliophile says:

      Yep, I’m a Nazi, Racist, Gay-Hater, Woman-Hater. [Sarcasm]

      Stupidity and Laziness?

      Perhaps, but until it is stopped, there can be no peace.

      • Guess says:

        No, I dont see anything racist, sexist, or homophobic. All I see is a moody asshole who is driving himself to be an outrage monkey.

        Puppies need two things..
        Weed
        The book How to Win friends and Influence People.

      • clif says:

        so stop supporting and arguing for people who are. Simple.

  5. Sean says:

    Oh for pity’s sake Eric, if I or most of the puppy supporters truly cared THAT much about an author’s political philosophy…any number of us would not read your stuff! Hell SCALZI politically speaking makes me wanna hurl…yet I still read his books. Go figure.

    • Bibliotheca Servare says:

      Thank you. Also, @Drak, you rock. Kate Paulk’s latest post at MadGeniusClub says what I’d like to say about this “Nazi” …nonsense…sufficiently well -more than, in fact- for me to feel comfortable simply directing these brilliant, learned individuals to go read it. I feel no need to write a response of my own. It’s nice to have a strong, intelligent, terrifyingly eloquent woman as the head of the “puppies” for a change. Not that the men were anything less than magnificent, of course, but being led by a (by three, in fact) woman/women has such a delightfully discomfiting effect on the average…rational arbiter of equality of outcome, I suppose I’ll call them…that it’s simply exquisite.

      #hellhounds (I like it better than “Sad Puppies” personally. It also captures more effectively the nature of my emotional response to the recent, lovely, Hugo…demonstration. All-in-all, it’s just… *happy sigh* [also, it let’s us claim, with pride, the title of “Psycho Bi*<hes From Hell" LOL…well, I think it's funny… *grumbles*])

      • Bibliotheca Servare says:

        note, I’m not referring to Mr. Flint in this. He is most definitely his own entity, and the titles of “brilliant” and “learned” most certainly (regardless of whether I always agree with him or not) may be applied to him *absent* any trace of mocking sarcasm. The folks I *am* referring to are the ones who delight in labeling us Hellhounds as “Nazis” despite the accuracy of that label being more than a little inverse to the target. That is, I suspect they stare at a mirror whilst uttering it. ;-)

  6. I agree the media has not been particularly good about looking at what is in the novels and stories in question. However I also think every writer needs to learn to lose and not take it personally. Most do but not all.

    It’s a shame so many people had to suffer through this trauma but the only good thing to come from this is a lot more fans are now aware of how the Hugos are selected and how important it is to nominate and vote. No one thinks it’s bad to urge people to join Worldcon and nominate and vote, so long as it’s not done in a way designed to shut out every other option. Next year will be a real test, because it will operate under existing rules, but with heightened awareness on the part of the fans.

  7. Old NFO says:

    Thanks Eric. A bit of sanity is appreciated. Enjoyed meeting you at LC this year.

  8. Eric Jordan says:

    *sighs*

    I am neither Puppy nor Noah, but rather part of that (majority? I hope?) caught in the middle of all this and watching it all with dismay. I read from both sides, and I have *some* sympathy for positions from each end of the spectrum. I just feel it all got out of hand.

    As for “white male engineers with ray-guns”: E.E. “Doc” Smith is, if not the creator, certainly the exemplar of this trope. I still enjoy his stories, but I always have to keep in mind the time period in which he wrote them. This is not a defense of the article’s phrasing, just an explanation of where I think they got it from. Doc Smith was Heinlein’s inspiration, and Heinlein is often cited as inspiration for the more right-leaning authors. The irony in that last…eh, another topic, another day.

    Anyhow, that’s where I think that came from.

    Now I am going to go back to grieving for the middle. I grieve not for the extremes at either end: they brought it on themselves.

    • Doug Irvin says:

      Both Smith and Heinlein wrote strong, independent female characters, tough and capable. And both are now demonised as misogynists. Too often those pushing the ‘sensitive’ issues fail to take into account that, at the time they wrote, their depiction of women was extremely liberal.

      • Naomi says:

        Yes, taking into account the time they lived and wrote in, they were extremely liberal. That’s not something I’ve generally seen questioned. Heinlein was not an *intentional* misogynist; he had simply absorbed many of the nearly-universal attitudes among men of his time.

        To say that his depictions of women — strong though they may be — are more accurate examples of the way a certain kind of man *wishes* women thought, felt and behaved than they are of the way we actually *do* think, feel and behave, is not to demonize Heinlein. It’s just acknowledging one of the limitations of his body of work… and perhaps also requesting that people who would like to understand the female psyche find a different source for their study. I’ve met men who took their opinions about what women are really like from Heinlein, and it wasn’t pretty.

        • Tuomas Vainio says:

          “he had simply absorbed many of the nearly-universal attitudes among men of his time. ”
          You should not forget how those nearly-universal attitudes were shared by women of his time, as well.

          And as modern day example, I could point out how the biggest opponents for women’s right to drive cars in Saudi Arabia are women themselves. And should the right pass, these women demand their own lanes.

          So the question is, why do the women oppose driving? Well, simply because when they are not allowed to drive, their husbands, brothers, or sons simply have to drive them to wherever and whenver the women themselves please. Not to mention that under the rule of Islam, the men would have to provide the women with the cars. Which certainly could place another financial responsibility on the shoulders of most men.

          That side of the news doesn’t really get past the Atlantic, or even the Mediterranean

    • David Lang says:

      unfortunantly, in this year’s vote you were not part of the majority

      the current estimated breakdown of ‘groups’ based on the vote analysis from chaoshorizon

      Core Rabid Puppies: 550-525
      Core Sad Puppies: 500-400
      Sad Puppy leaning Neutrals: 800-400 (capable of voting a Puppy pick #1)
      True Neutrals: 1000-600 (may have voted one or two Puppies; didn’t vote in all categories; No Awarded all picks, Puppy and Non-Alike)
      Primarily No Awarders But Considered a Puppy Pick above No Award: 1000
      Absolute No Awarders: 2500

      • Wendy says:

        Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics.

        How do I fit in there? I attempted to read all of the nominated works (or at the very least the portions provided in the voter packet) and came up with No Award in 4 categories because I felt that most of the nominated works were pretty awful and not really what I consider “Hugo-Worthy”.

        But of course, that can’t possibly have happened because the only reason to possibly vote ‘No Award’ is political. *sigh*

        • David Lang says:

          you would fall into the category of ‘Primarily No Awarders But Considered a Puppy Pick above No Award’

          It’s only people who voted for _nothing_ on any puppy slate that fall into the absolute no awarders.

          by the criteria he’s using, I count as Sad Puppy leaning Neutral

          remember these are estimates. They also take into account if you did no award followed by no preference or if you listed things after no award.

          you say you voted 4 no awards, out of curiosity (and you don’t have to answer), what did you do in the editor categories and why?

          • Cat Eldridge says:

            I think (as just an observer who reads deeply in all sorts of sf/f/h) that there’s really no way for a reader to actually say who’s the best editor of fiction, short form or long form as it, like proofing, is a job that when done right is invisible.

            Short of writers agreeing to let editors do before and after portfolios (fat chance of that), we’d be better off dropping these from the Hugos.

            • Agreed with Cat Eldridge! I have seen much vitriol from the Puppies focused on the Editor (Short Form and Long Form) No Awards as if all the Puppy-Kickers (or I prefer to use the term Happy Kittens instead) deliberately went after the people nominated in these categories. How the heck does your standard SF fan figure out who the Best Editor is?

              In my opinion, the five categories where the No Awards happened were collateral damage caused by the original Puppy Slate. All I needed to know (thanks to Dierdre Moen’s Puppy-free ballot) that the category was basically Puppy-dominated and I happily No Awarded it. That’s why the No Award optionexists! Clearly a near-majority of voters (roughly 2500 at least) agreed with my position.

              • TM says:

                I suspect some of the rancor might be if as is claimed, there’s no way for the average SF fan to adequately judge an editor, then why does such a category exist in a fan voting award? Along those same lines (and I readily admit to not having looked at the statistics for the answer) has this inability to judge editors been a constant problem? Does the “best editor” category get no awarded more often than not? If not, why is it suddenly so difficult this year?

              • David Lang says:

                The reason that puppies ask about the Editor categories is that it emphasizes that the people voting no award did so simply on the basis that “If the puppies like it, it must be stopped, we don’t care what the quality is”

                As Eric pointed out, the puppies are slandered as being against women. So the long form editor category where both of the top vote getters are Women who have been in the field for a long time (and Toni has been part of big-F Fandom for decades, not to mention running Baen books for a decade+). Both of these Women got more votes than any other editor in history, by a very large margin (and this is just first-pass votes)

                GRRM pointed out how qualified all the editor nominees (except for Vox) were.

                But there were 2500 no award followed by no preference votes in this category. Simply because the wrong type of people like them.

                Once you start punishing people because of who likes them rather than the quality of their work, what’s the meaning of the awards again?

                In the other categories, the quality of this piece vs that piece is far more subjective, and while I disagree with the statement that none of the works were good enough, there’s no objective standard that I can point to and say that you didn’t really evaluate the works, you voted because of who liked them.

                but in the Editor categories, all of Fandom says that these top two are hugo worthy and it’s a bad thing that they haven’t won a hugo before now, but then the no-award slate voted against them.

              • “The reason that puppies ask about the Editor categories is that it emphasizes that the people voting no award did so simply on the basis that “If the puppies like it, it must be stopped, we don’t care what the quality is””

                I and many other No Award voters ranked “no award” ahead of all slate nominees, because we’re opposed to slate voting. That’s not the same voting against nominees on a “if puppies liked it” basis.

                If a work is on the ballot fairly – without slate voting – then I voted on the merits, and I don’t give a toss who else likes it.

                For example, my top slot for Best Novel went to Three Body Problem, a book I know that Vox Day and other puppies have praised highly. But that doesn’t matter to me. It’s a good book, imo the best of this year’s nominated novels, so I voted for it.

                Looking at the numbers, it seems obvious that I’m not the only one. Your claim that people like me won’t vote for a nominee if puppies like it, is simply false.

          • clif says:

            I voted 3 no awards … and didn’t vote at all in the editor categories as I didn’t feel knowledgeable enough about those.

            • David Lang says:

              That sounds like a reasonable stance to take. While I’m disappointed at the 3 no awards, it’s clear that you thought about things and didn’t do the blanket no award. This takes you out of the hard-line no-award category.

  9. EliK says:

    I liked sci-fi/fantasy since i was a kid. One thing I’ve always realized is that it’s a genre which is 95% crap and 5 % pure gold. That means, in general, I don’t try to waste my time by reading new authors, I prefer to wait ’til authors I like publish new books. I don’t think I’m “male chauvinist” and a short order of female authors I like would include CJ. Cherryh, Lois McMaster Bujold, Jacqueline Carey, Trudi Canavan, Anne McCaffrey, etc. etc. Having said that, when I walk into a Barnes and Nobles looking for new books, if I see a book written by a female with a female protagonist, I will automatically discard it, as something written by an SJW. Sorry, but you guys/gals poisoned the well. If there’s anything else on the shelves, you are just not worth wasting my time on.

    • Eric Flint says:

      Uh… The first two novels by Lois McMaster Bujold in the Vorkosigan series are written by a female author with a female protagonist. So are many of Elizabeth Moon’s novels. So are many of Anne McCaffrey’s stories. So — I’m really scratching my head, here — are most of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel novels, which are what she’s best known for.

      So I’d say that if anyone around here is approaching things in a predetermined manner — also called “prejudice” and “bias” — you might want to consider the possibility that it’s YOU.

      As for me, the moment someone uses the term SJW I automatically disregard whatever they say afterward. Sorry, but you guys/gals poisoned the well. If you have anything else to say, you are just not worth wasting my time on.

      • Sean says:

        Heck I’ll toss another one out there don’t know whether you’ve heard of or met/talked to her at the cons Eric. Gaie Sebold. I enjoy her Babylon Steel books but like anything else YMMV.
        Heck there was Julie Cochrane playing around in John’s posleen verse several years back for that matter. Not sure whether that one counts but..*shrug*
        Wen Spencer and Tinker. Gods that woman can NOT write in that world fast enough for me. lol. Heck. Wen’s latest stand alone was a female protaganist.

      • Drak Bibliophile says:

        Sorry Eric, but the term Social Justice Warrior is a term that was self-chosen. So why shouldn’t we use it?

        Mind you, I treat any new female author the same way that I treat any new male author.

        IE read the blurb, listen to people I trust who know the author, etc.

        Money is tight for me right now so I’m careful about any new author.

        • snowcrash says:

          “Sorry Eric, but the term Social Justice Warrior is a term that was self-chosen. So why shouldn’t we use it?”

          No it isn’t. It’s used as a derogatory nickname be the Puppies, and before them by various flavours of GamerGaters and Men’s Rights Activists. Even before that it was used in a different derogatory manner by some progressives against the more overreacting elements on their side. It’s never been a self-identified term.

          If you want an actual self-chosen term, please try non-Puppy or anti-slate. Thanks.

          • Patrick Spens says:

            It’s actually older than that. It goes back to the TumblrInAction subreddit/ Something Awful Mockthreads about Tumblr. It originally referred to either people appropriating the language of social justice for absurd causes (trans-ethnics, people who thought they were actually anime characters etc.) Or people who were just over the top verbally abusive about. It has since spread to mean “anyone left of me.” But yeah, it was never really a term of self identification.

            • Books first, food later. says:

              The nineties era United Nations disagrees with you. A paper from that fine organization contains the first recorded use of that term. In a complimentary, self-referential sense. Aside from that, I don’t know if Mr. Flint will read this comment, but I wanted to say: “we have always fought”? That’s a work of (alleged) NONfiction. Black Tide Rising, as you yourself note, is fiction. Sure, that doesn’t make the question any less relevant (and I can’t answer it, if I can, until I’m able to access an actual *keyboard* as opposed to a teeny tiny phone touch keyboard) but I think it’s a point worth noting. Pedantic though it may seem. Otherwise, I rather enjoyed reading this post. I may not agree with you completely, but I can only be grateful for your addressing the dismal journalistic efforts of most of the publications that have commented on this issue. (On either side, though I am, of course, biased)
              God Bless. :-D

              • Patrick Spens says:

                Well as long as we’re being pendants, the U.N. paper in question is from the early 2000’s. And the google trend for “social Justice Warrior” is a literal flat line until 2003. So lets not pretend that paper has anything meaningful to say about were the current usage originates from.

              • Bibliotheca Servare says:

                I was pointing out that it once WAS a term of “self identification”. Valid or invalid as your point may be, it is irrelevant to the point *I* was making. Thank you for your civility in your response.

                PS: You may feel free to be a pendant…I, however, shall persist in being a(n) (apologetic, but insufferable) *pedant* :-p *big grin* Just teasing. Autocorrect can be a real b*t<h, I know. ;-)

              • Books first, food later. says:

                Lol. What I said. On my phone again. Hence the different names. Yes, I am somewhat technologically challenged. :-)

    • C.J. Cherryh is female, too. I’m pretty sure she’s written books with female protagonists.

    • Sean says:

      Elik…you’re screwing the pooch royally if you automatically discard a book just because it’s a female protaganist written by a female. Try looking to see if the story actually interests you before tossing it on the “nope not gonna buy” bin in your brain. hell half the new stuff I buy in recent years is female authored and female protaganists

    • Terranovan says:

      Female author, female protagonist, either, neither, or both, it’s no big deal to me. I actually look for books by authors that I already know and like, and avoid a certain author that I dislike (naming no names here).

  10. James says:

    I came to this whole mess late in the game. At first it was just a tempest in a tea cup. But, the reprehensible reaction of the anti-puppies to the success of SP3 has driven me to support the Sad Puppies. When they publish and repeat the false narrative about racist, misogynist, homophobes trying to prevent diversity despite the complete absence of supporting evidence and in the face of irrefutable evidence to the contrary, they lost any moral authority. They compounded their dishonesty by insisting on conflating SP3 with the Rabid Puppies and GamerGate. Worse, some flat out insisted in their belief in the false narrative as if it were an article of faith, literally asserting their opinion was more accurate than fact. These are the actions of childish bullies, not thoughtful adults. The final straw for me was hearing about people cheering for “no award.” For Heinlein’s sake, the nominees are real people and the supposed champions of tolerance cheered that those people lost! How callous and mean-spirited must one be to do that?

    Frankly, Mr. Flint, I think the Social Justice Bullies just proved you wrong about whether there is an effort to exclude writers and fans with conservative views. It may not be a conspiracy, but it certainly is a movement. Even when presented with a diverse group of artists and works, they mounted a very aggressive campaign to shame the nominees and deny them the award irrespective of the merits of the work or the nominees just to punish those conservative fans who had the temerity to participate in the process.

    • James, that is the party line, and I doubt you will accept me at my word, but I’ll give it a shot.

      First, there isn’t a “them.” Us anti-puppy folks are not in anyway together. We didn’t have any set narrative we followed. I never called the pup as a whole misogynist or homophobic. Someone probably did, but that was an individual, who was not part of a campaign. Just some person.

      Now I have said the pups were sexist and racist (I did not say misogynistic and bigoted)–I still do, and have evidence for it. It is not a false narrative. However, I’m pretty sure that we are speaking past each other. I do not think you, or the pups, define those words the same way I, or some others, do. Considering the violent responses from some pups and statements like “It isn’t sexist because there’s a woman on the slate” or “We can’t be racist because Brad is married to a black woman” I have to assume the pups believe sexist means “dislikes women” or “is purposely trying to harm them.” Your own comment above about diversity makes me think that is indeed what you think we’re saying. It isn’t.

      What we are saying is that the pups negatively impacted women to a greater degree than men. And that isn’t an opinion. That’s numbers. The number of female nominees was greatly reduced compared to the number of male ones, after years of climbing so that they had been nearly equal. Same is true of race, but it is easier to show with gender. As a whole, in general, people are not saying the pups wanted to harm women. We (whatever “we” might be”) are not saying the pups dislike women. We are saying that the end result of the pups activity was that women did poorer than men. And yes, we think that’s a problem. You can deny it is a problem, but there is no denying that it is the case. I can’t find the numbers for the entire slate of noms where it is really obvious, but http://www.jimchines.com/2015/05/hugo-gender-balance/ gives a good look at the literary categories. As I said. Not a false narrative. Not a lie. We are saying woman were effected negatively more than men. And it is true.

      It is hard to claim I’m saying anything dishonest there.

      Was it dishonest to connect Sad Puppies with Rabid Puppies. Well, according to Larry, the ELOE ran the Sad Puppies, and John C. Wright says that group is himself, Larry, Brad, Sarah, and Vox. Vox says the same, but adds Tom Kratman. So, they say Vox was a leader of the Sad Puppies. The two 3rd year slates came about at the same time, with the same “enemy” and same goal. And all of the pups started as a direct result of Vox losing the SFWA election. So, hard to say it is dishonest to connect the two. There are a lot of connections.

      GamerGate, less so, though I have read the tweets of gamergaters saying that they were supporting their “brothers in arms.” So, not so together, but there is a connection, and I have never said the groups were the same.

      I don’t expect you to accept or believe me, but as I said, I’m trying. Look at it from a different perspective. You might disagree with me, but what I’ve been saying isn’t dishonest.

      And as a final, you call the slate diverse. I don’t. I suspect that’s a matter of expectations. I’d assume something closer to a 50/50 split of man and women, and a number of blacks, Asians, etc, that reflect the % in society. But the slate didn’t have that. (Note the Asians that won were all non-slate noms–and humorously, even pups have been saying they should have won… So why weren’t they on the slate?). If you are simply saying diverse means not 100% white men, then yes, it is a diverse slate. But that is not what it means to me. At best I’d call it not very diverse.

      Again, you may disagree with me politically. You may disagree with what I like as literature. But my complaints against the pups have been quite honest.

      • Mike says:

        Mixed signals are everywhere when it comes to Vox Day and the Sad Puppies. I talk to people who claim they are the Sad Puppies and that Vox Day has nothing to do with them. But then they eagerly explain that Sarah Hoyt is now the co-leader of Sad Puppies (and see! she’s a woman!), and Hoyt gleefully talks about the Evil League Of Evil including Vox Day. I get the impression that many rank-and-file Sad Puppies are not keen to be associated with Day, but that the acknowledged future leaders of the Puppies are.

        Then you go back to the time of the nominations, and I didn’t see a single Sad Puppy who denied that “they” had won the nominations. Sure, if you look at the two slates and the few differences, you could say (and some observers did at the time) that the Sad Puppies slate (oh sorry, “non-slate”) lost to the Rabid Puppies slate. But people from the Sad Puppies were happy to claim success at the time. That pretty strongly associated Sad and Rapid together in the minds of many people.

        I do not think the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies are the same. But neither do I think there is no overlap. Clearly there is some.

      • Bibliotheca Servare says:

        “…negatively impacted women to a greater degree than men…”

        Dear GOD you are…I…*inhales* I have nine words for you. You will see them as irrelevant (or, gods forbid, incorrect) but they really define the Hellhound (and Sad Puppy) position, while simultaneously providing (deceptive, because the idea behind “SP1,2,3 etc is that the “equality of opportunity” did NOT exist) ammunition *against the “Sad Puppies” (aka, my chosen label post-Hugo2015, “Hellhounds) those words: Equality of Opportunity Does *Not* Equal Equality of Outcome.
        Nine words. Seven absent the two “of”s. The difference between the Sad Puppies/Hellhounds and their opponents, at least those opposed on ideological grounds other than the sanctity of “Hugo Traditions and Unwritten Rules”, is that we Hellhounds believe that “minorities” (as distinct from minorities as a technical description of a people group comprising less than 50% of the human population in a given geographical, or otherwise-demarcated area/field/etc) may not have entirely equal opportunities, but the way to change that is…well, to work our/their/etc asses off to make up for the difference. Ask Larry “that wife beating, white (filipino) monster” Correia about coming from a place where his access to opportunity was *decidedly* unequal and, despite his “oppressed” “underprivileged” status, eventually becoming a successful, widely beloved, New York Times bestselling author. That’s *one* (male) example. Ask R.K Modena (or visit her damn blog, O king of unbiased, irrefutable “evidence” gathering) about *her* life story. Or Sarah Hoyt. Or Cedar Sanderson. Or Dave Freer. Or, despite him not being a “puppy” ask that monster (I swear his face makes you want to hug him, damn it. it’s not natural! lol) Peter Grant his life story (or visit *HIS* blog, you of the impeccable research credentials) sometime. I could (and in your opinion, probably *should*) go on. For a very, very long time. But I’m not trying to sway you. You are settled into your views and will not be shifted. However, perhaps a bystander will read this, and think “Hmm, I hadn’t heard any of that from the brilliant” *choking sounds* “Mz. Hurley, or messrs Gerrold, Scalzi, or Glyer. The “happy kitten” blogger(s) never mentioned it, except perhaps to decry it as false/irrelevant, either, nor the Nielsen Haydens…” and they will (perhaps again) elect to edify themselves via education. A bibliophile can *hope* at least. Be well.

        • Caitlin says:

          Whatever else you do or don’t do please, please, learn to limit your use of run on sentences, parentheses, and punctuation. Your post is almost literally unreadable for me.

          • Books first, food later. says:

            Troll harder. ;-) If you cannot respond -or grasp- to the substance of a comment (whether due to linguistic oddities or any other cause) then it’s generally best not to respond at all. I’d write more, but, as I said, u am on my phone. I write my comments as I speak. And, as we all (ought to) know, people do not obey the sacred rules of written english whilst they speak. Run-on sentences (and fragments) are the rule, not the exception, in spoken English. (Or any other language, to speak honestly) If my ESL (English as a second language) father can comprehend my writing, or my aunt (for whom English is a third language) can understand me, I’m happy. And that is the case. Apologies if that doesn’t hold true for you, as well. I am confident I’ll survive the disappointment, however. ;-p
            Be well.

  11. Doug Irvin says:

    Eric,
    As a self-identifying puppy supporter I have to say that some of your suppositions are flat wrong. I really don’t care if a character is black, white, green, straight, gay, asexual or what. And I have equal disdain for their genetic identification, be it Vulcan, Mexican or Suomi. I do like a good story
    And Heinlein, Bujold, Weber, Flint, Correia, Ringo and other write good stories. The characters are complex, interesting and I find it easy to identify with their situations.
    But none of the above are ‘preachy’ with their messages. Oh, yes! they have them. But as Heinlein learned after For Us, The Living, preachy messages don’t get read, therefore don’t get disseminated. A lot of the ideas he presented in FUTL were later presented in his more popular fiction – and accepted.
    If the SJW’s/SJB’s want to change the world, I suggest they try making their message more appealing, rather than forcing it on the public like Cod Liver Oil.

    • Tibicina says:

      This may be a problem of perspective. I find Correia somewhat preachy and Heinlein often very preachy. I found most of the works the puppies nominated this year to be somewhat to exceptionally preachy. (I also, personally, found a lot of the writing to be flat and not engaging to me, which may have made the preachy stand out more.) If you agree with the message, you may not see the preachy. I’ll agree with you about Bujold, Flint and Weber, none of them ends up very preachy that I’ve seen. (Well, Bujold occasionally in the sharing knife series, but she largely avoids it.) But none of them were on the ballot.

      One person’s ‘this is just how the world is’ is another person’s ‘preachy’. Likewise, one person’s ‘this is how I want the world to be’ or ‘this is how the world /could/ be’ is another person’s ‘preachy’. We are more inclined, as people, to notice messages which disagree with our world views. But that may mean that you are missing just how ‘preachy’ the books you like really are because to you the preaching is entirely invisible or ‘just common sense’.

      • Mike says:

        Bujold can be VERY strongly “preachy”. But she does it in such a literary manner that it doesn’t always seem like it.

        However, I agree with what she is preaching, so I like it. When Weber preaches (and OMG does he ever preach in his many political asides!), I find it much more annoying because I don’t agree with him nearly as much as I agree with Bujold. (And while he is a great worldbuilder and storyteller, I don’t think he is nearly as a good of a wordsmith as Lois Bujold. Writing WELL can be like a scalpel, sharp enough that you don’t notice the cut.)

      • elhunde says:

        Preachy and obvious strawmen make works unreadable.

        Charles E. Gannon, for instance is going under a trial as I’m finally getting current again on 1632 verse stories. I loathed his story “By The Book’ in the Honorverse because it felt like a political circlejerk.

        • Bibliotheca Servare says:

          I haven’t read that Honorverse story, as far as I can remember. However, I *have* found his “Terran Republic” series to be genuinely engrossing and delightfully entertaining. There are undoubtedly some messages in it, but they are (in my opinion) so deftly woven into the warp and weft of the work (pardon the awkward alliteration…again *groans*) that, aside from the “world government” bit, (and that could, possibly, be argued) they are decidedly subtle. In my opinion, again. I happily recommend them. ;-)

  12. Daveon says:

    Speaking purely for myself, with a couple of ‘no you are going below the line no matter what you did’, I read all the works and found that with 2 exceptions, the quality was just terrible. It didn’t make it hard to vote No Award in several categories.

    But I read a certain Puppy ranting today that we punished Andy Weir and my blood boils. Sadly The Martian was not eligible for the Best Novel due to it’s publication date, but he was eligible for the Campbell, however, he didn’t make the ballot due, in part, to the slates.

    If he is so good, why didn’t SP3 put his name forward? Drake, Ringo, Reynolds, Hamilton and more who write exactly the kind of Science Fiction I’ve been told over and over again should be on the ballot didn’t get a look in either. I then look at what the ballot could have been without the slates and quite simply the slates didn’t do what they said they would. Forget being upset about how the voting turned out, I’m still mad at the quality of the ballot.

    • John says:

      It wasn’t on the list because not enough people recommended it when the request for titles and authors was made. Literally. Brad et al asked everyone to submit eligible entries and the ones with the most recommendations, the most buzz, made it to the list.

      • Tom Galloway says:

        Not true. See this spreadsheet, which ranks how the suggestions did with respect to making it on the SP slate. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1KsUUULAR4McYiosUfFT1lr9IRnJgYabSuX6qgSEs19s/edit#gid=0

      • Devin says:

        And that, right there, is the whole problem with slate voting for nominees.

        (Not to mention that the correlation between the public recommendations to the blog and the selection for the slated works was weak, but that’s a different thing entirely.)

      • Daveon says:

        He did, did he? Can we see his working? Because that isn’t actually remotely clear from what happened.

        But if prominent Puppies are claiming it was all a plot, I call shenanigans when they didn’t slate him and the slates blocked most of the positions.

        Look, the initial claim was a secrit cabal of fandom was blocking access to the ballot. The results of this year show that that just doesn’t happen. The slates blocked worthy works and authors that even other puppies are upset about and that’s just wrong.

        I mostly voted based on what I had read and had no trouble using No Award. I abstained on the editor categories because honestly, I haven’t a clue.

        The one category where I thought good works were listed and I voted accordingly, the puppies got a pick a Hugo. This isn’t hard.

  13. Andrew Trembley says:

    It is a pretty crappy article, isn’t it? Nearly everyone can find fault there. But there’s a lot of material to find fault in.

    Almost every article ignores the existence of conservative fans and pros who find the Puppy tactics reprehensible. Don’t like Puppies? You must be a liberal!

    I know some of them, and they’re not a small group. They’re often the folks with the most vitriol for the Puppies. But you would never know, because while their politics do inform their tastes and styles (everybody’s does), they don’t wear their politics on their sleeves. They’re not culture warriors. They’re not convenient to the narrative.

    • Bibliotheca Servare says:

      Or liberals who support the “Puppies”. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Or so common. (journalistic incompetence/laziness, that is)

  14. Zachary Ricks says:

    Definitely some food for thought here, and an opportunity for some self-reflection regardless of which side of the debate you find yourself on.

    But even prior to the self-reflection, I think that you don’t address point 3 – the drift of the awards from the main SF audience’s tastes – by No Awarding everything that came out of a populist movement, in this case either one of the Puppies.

    Emotions are high right now on all sides, but I’ve seen nothing in the behavior of (don’t want to use SJW or CHORF, they may not be accurate… let’s try) Those Who Objected To The Puppies For Whatever Reason, that leads me to believe that they would be interested in any kind of reconciliation or compromise. They won this round, why should they compromise? And why shouldn’t they celebrate? Why shouldn’t they rub the noses of those pups in it? Isn’t that what you do with dogs?

    Meanwhile, the Pups are increasingly convinced that they will never be accepted or even considered. And thus, it justifies escalation in the minds of the Pups. Bring More Puppies. Nuke the Awards. No Award Everything.

    This is going to be a very interesting year.

    • John Cowan says:

      I don’t think all those No Awards really count as a victory, except of the Pyrrhic variety. One more such victory and the Hugos are indeed lost.

      • One more such victory and then the new anti-slate measures kick in, so there shouldn’t be any need for such a victory again.

        • David Lang says:

          assuming that they pass in Kansas City next year

          EPH only had ~180 people vote for it (and ~60 against)
          4/6 only had 86 people vote for it (and 82 against)

          There’s also a question of if these would actually make a difference.

          Looking at the nominations, it only took 210 nominations to get someone on the ballot for the biggest category (best novel) (263 prior to the two people withdrawing).

          looking at the results https://chaoshorizon.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/2015hugostatistics.pdf which lists vote totals down to as low as 2.6% of the total.

          on the puppy slate, The Chaplain’s War got 196 votes, below that there were only 8 other nominations > 4.8%, ranging from 88 votes to 168 votes. So if you ignore the ones that got on the ballot or were on either the SP or RP slate there were only 1007 other nomination votes TOTAL. Keep in mind that one person can generate up to 5 nomination votes, this could have been as few as 202 people

          And Skin Game got 387 votes Monster Hunter Nemesis got 372

          Now, there were 1827 ballots with a total of 3439 votes or 1.9 votes/ballot.

          The lowest nominated SP candidate was Trial By Fire at 199 nominations
          The lowest nominated RP candidate was The Chaplain’s War at 196 nominations
          If you believe that both sets of voters voted straight slates, this would say there were ~200 of each since neither of these was on the other list

          The combination of the puppy candidates got 1687 votes.

          So the puppies cast just under 50% of the nomination votes. If you assume that there were ~400 puppy votes (and the puppy votes contained nothing not on the final ballot), that means that the remaining ~1400 ballots only contained 1752 votes (plus a few that could have been <4.8% of the total, but other categories list down to 2.6% so probably even fewer missing votes)

          This is only 1.04 votes per ballot, or putting it another way, of these 1400 ballots, as few as 88 voted for more than one candidate.

          Brandon Kemp at Chaos Horizons points out that the odds are good that those 1400 voted for multiple candidates, but those additional candidates all got <5% of the vote so they don't show up in the report.

          But it's all this is pointing out is that it's an incredibly tiny number of people nominating. This was actually a record year for nominations, by a very significant margin. If you look at the nomination counts over time:

          year noms final
          2008 483 895
          2009 —- 1074
          2010 864 1094
          2011 1006 2100
          2012 1101 1922
          2013 1373 1848 (SP1)
          2014 1923 3587 (SP2)
          2015 2122 5950 (SP3/RP1)

          so the noms total had been trending up at a rate of ~150/year prior to SP1

          diff probabl3 effect
          2013 273 ~100
          2014 550 ~400
          2015 199 ~50

          so SP3/RP only added ~50 votes more than the baseline growth of the nomination ballots, but that (and the anger of the puppies over the way they were treated duing SP2 probably caused them to vote a more complete ballot) was enough to go from getting just a couple things on the ballot (I don't think more than one per category), to sweeping the nominations.

          The biggest problem isn't the rules or people cheating, it's that there are so few people participating in the nominations that ANY group of significant size, no matter how uncoordinated they are can easily swamp the normal nominations.

          • Daveon says:

            I think you meant to say that EPH passed with 66% of the people voting, voting for it. The numbers were tighter on 4/6 because, honestly, most of the people left after EPH because they’d been up to 3am the previous night and were tired and hungover. So it’s hardly a surprise the numbers were down.

            If a sufficient group want to vote for things they’ll get stuff on the ballot. The real issue is making sure those that turned up to vote, turn up to nominate in 2016.

            • David Lang says:

              actually, closer to 75% of the ~250 people who voted on EPH voted for it, 25% against

              There are at least 10,000 people who have already paid to be able to nominate in 2016. If there are only ~2000 nomination ballots next year, it’s an indication of a real problem.

              But this year there were at least 8,000 people who had already paid to be able to nominate, at least 75% of them didn’t bother (I say at least because people who paid for woldcon last year had the right to nominate for this year, but not to vote without paying again, so the total number eligible to nominate was probably significantly higher)

          • Bibliotheca Servare says:

            Indeed. Interesting analysis, by the by.

    • Andrew Trembley says:

      Torgersen and Correia got nominations before there were puppy campaigns. And they didn’t win. And they were upset. And Brad was upset that even if he did win the Campbell, he would be presented a silly (and kind of gorgeous) tiara.

      And the funny thing? I’m from a strong Wisconsin populist progressive heritage, and I gave both of them ranks (above “No Award”) on several of the ballots. Including ranks for Brad’s works in 2014 during Sad Puppies 2. I believe I gave at least one of Brad’s works a #1 rank that year. Because SP2 didn’t take over the ballot, and I read for quality, not politics.

      Larry and Brad both got nominations before there were Puppy campaigns. And they both finished above “No Award.” Only Beale was skunked last year during SP2, coming in behind “No Award.” That suggest to me that the “No Award” votes weren’t against politics, they were against tactics.

    • Sean says:

      *shrug* The puppies don’t HAVE to nuke the awards. Just keep nominating stuff we like and watch the puppy haters nuke the Hugos all by themselves in an orgy of stupidity. Which is exactly what the puppy kickers did this year. I’ve seen friends I’ve known for years who leaned towards the puppy kickers. After the performance at the awards ceremony saturday night several of them were like “what the HELL? are you out of your damn minds?” at the folks they’d nominally aligned themselves with…the puppy kickers.

    • Standback says:

      Can I ask you: Are you familiar with the E Plurubus Hugo proposal? What are your thoughts on it?

      The basic concept is to reduce the effect of slates, intentional or unintentional. But not to discard bloc votes, but rather to reduce a given bloc vote’s effect on the Hugo ballot to something proportionate to the bloc’s size. If you have 20% of the vote, it seems fair that you should get ~20% of the ballot.

      I know this is being considered largely as a response to the Puppy campaigns, but I quite like that it isn’t a “kick the Puppies” out solution – it’s a “the Puppies will be represented on the ballot; the non-Puppies will be represented on the ballot solution. (It also has the effect of negating smaller, or even unintentional, voting blocs – so if there’s one core group with really similar tastes and nominations, even if it’s purely organically, they won’t get the whole ballot either.)

      This seems to me like an excellent compromise. It’s hard for me to think of a fairer solution than that. Does that sound reasonable to you?

      • Standback says:

        sorry; should have been–

        it isn’t a “kick the Puppies out” solution.

        –that might’ve sounded a little awkward :P

      • airboy says:

        “Are you familiar with the E Plurubus Hugo proposal?”

        Yes. I also independently came to the same conclusions that chaoshorizon did in his analysis of the Hugo voting.

        EPH is a massively convoluted and confusing counter-proposal. Regardless of its merits – it has the surface appearance of “trufans” trying to game the Hugo nomination process via a rube goldberg system.

        If trufans wish to ensure that a single slate does not close out a nomination category – then adopt the 4 of 6 proposal. That proposal is very simple and accomplishes the exact same thing.

        So my suggestion as an expert in statistics and a “puppy leaner” is to adopt 4 of 6 and kill EPH if slate nominations dominating an entire category is the real issue here.

        • Standback says:

          I object strenuously to preferring surface appearance over actual merits :) I prefer to give credit to fans’ intelligence, and make the data and the arguments to the system’s merits readily available.

          I’ve seen other cases (also a small, fannish/enthusiast contest – Paizo’s RPG Superstar, if you’re familiar with it) where an unusual voting mechanism (Condorcet voting) was introduced. And at the beginning there were a lot of complaints and confusion. But pretty soon everybody got the hang of it, and it made a very difficult task (to wit: finding the best of several thousand contest entries, and I assure you, people were heavily invested in their contest entries) very easy (by distributing it into thousands of “Which is better – A or B?” questions). The benefit was enormous, even though the vast majority of participants had no idea how the math worked, and the theory behind is it non-intuitive for laypersons.

          I feel we’ve got a similar case here. EPH has a lot of merit. It doesn’t solve slates, but it gives us results that are much better and more in line of what we’d “like” from a nomination system, up to and including that bloc voting shouldn’t be discarded, but merely rewarded in proportion to the size of the bloc.

          (I have different gripes with 4/6. I don’t think it’s a good proposal, for several reasons. It reduces ability to nominate; it adds material to read; and all it does is encourage two slates or one slightly longer slate. But perhaps that’s a topic for a seperate post.)

      • David Lang says:

        I looked at the nomination numbers a little bit, and I think that EPH would not have made very much of a difference in the numbers this year.

        If you assume that there were ~200 each of SP and RP and they nominated 5 items on their ballots

        and other people nominated an average of 3 items on each ballot (stats from chaos horizon analysis of a couple of years where the full list of nominations were provided)

        Also assume that only puppies voted for things on the puppy lists.

        note, if puppies voted for fewer things, or non-puppies voted for more things it would strengthen the puppy vote under EPH

        with these assumptions, the EPH scores after the first pass would have been:

        acutal EPH total
        279 93 Ancillary Sword
        263 87.6 the Dark Between the Stars
        256 85.3 The Goblin Emperor
        387 77.4 Skin Game
        372 74.4 Monster Hunter Nemesis
        210 70 The Three Body Problem
        270 54 Lines of Departure
        168 56 Lock In
        160 53.3 City of Stairs
        141 47 The Martian
        126 42 Words of Radiance
        120 40 My real Children
        199 39.3 Trial By Fire
        196 39.2 The Chaplain’s War
        112 38 The mirror Empire
        92 30.7 Langoon
        88 29.3 Annihilation

        So under these assumptions (which are pretty slanted against the puppies, the vote totals show that at they did not all vote for all the items on the slates, and some surely did not vote for 5 items) the list after the first pass would been close enough to the same that if that generated the final Hugo ballot, it would have consisted of the exact same items as it ended up consisting of. The difference being that instead of Marko Klees declining the nomination, he would have just missed the cutoff. In both cases, the Three Body Problem would have missed getting on the ballot if Larry hadn’t declined the nomination.

        Now, we can’t really know what would happen in a full EPH because of the complex thousand round vote reallocation, but keep in mind that puppy votes would get reallocated as well, strengthening their remaining candidates.

        So my view is that EPH is a bad idea. It doesn’t ‘solve the problem’ that it claims to solve, and it takes an already complex nomination/voting process and makes it so horribly complicated that it’s basically impossible to audit and boils down to ‘trust that the computer software was written with no biases or bugs’, and I think that a voting process that people can’t grasp can’t be trusted.

        • Standback says:

          I don’t think you’re calculating those scores correctly :-/

          First of all, I think any straight-slate voter (which are the most problematic, in terms of the system and the problem EPH is trying to solve) would be voting the full slate. So you should be dividing those nomination totals by 5 for the first-pass score.

          But more importantly, the fundamental premise of EPH is that, through the elimination rounds, popular nominated works that aren’t slate-like will have their scores rise (because the other nominations on those ballot get eliminated), while identical, slated nominations will stay low (until two slated nominations get compared to one another, and one of them is eliminated).

          So, The Dark Between the Stars and The Goblin Emperor might have identical EPH scores in the first pass, but by the end of the process they’ll have very different scores (unless a very large portion of the Goblin Emperor nominators also have a lot of other nominees in common, making that, effectively, another slate).

          EPH isn’t without problems. But it addresses two problems that I think are very much worth addressing: One is intentional slates. The other is unintentional slates; natural clusters of similar taste that have accrued within the voting body, which give those particular clusters a lot of say in the total nominations (e.g. the dominance of Doctor Who in “Best Dramatic Short Form”, but also addressing the concerns of the Puppies, that a clique is constantly voting in its own favorites).

          I agree it’s hard to track. It’s easy to validate results if we get annonymized nomination data, but I doubt they’ll be providing that willy-nilly. But the results and the process look fantastic to me, and I think nixing it just because it takes a bit of effort to understand is robbing ourselves of something excellent and very beneficial.

    • Zachary:

      Regarding alternative terms to the insulting “SJW,” I’d suggest calling us “anti-slate,” because that’s what unites most of the puppy critics. Our politics vary, our tastes in fiction varies, but 99 out of 100 puppy critics deplore the use of slates.

      And if you want to refer just to the more hard-core among us – people like me, who voted “no award” on every single puppy nominee, even ones I liked, because I’m just that opposed to the use of slates – I’d suggest calling us the “Noahs.” (I saw that written somewhere earlier today and it gave me a chuckle.)

      As for reconciliation and compromise:

      I will not compromise on using E Pluribus Hugo, or some other viable proposal if EPH fails to work, to mitigate the power of slates. 15% of the voters should not be able to control 100% of the nominations. That’s my core issue, and not negotiable, and I suspect a many other Noahs would agree.

      But in 2017, assuming EPH passes, the puppies will still be able to get their chosen stories Hugo-nominated; they’ll just lose the ability to control the nominations out of proportion to their numbers.

      And at that point, if a puppy-nominated story knocks my socks off I’ll vote for it for a Hugo. Just like I would for any other story.

      So unless preserving the power of slates is a deal-killing issue for you, then Hell yes, I for one would be interested in talking compromise and reconciliation.

      But here’s what I genuinely don’t understand: What is it you want?

      I’m not being sarcastic. I seriously want to know.

      • David Lang says:

        calling people (which may or may not be you) who took the stance “I’m proud to declare I didn’t read anything, but I’m declaring it unworthy of an award and voting ” anything other than a slate is hard to do.

        see my big posts above about why I don’t think that EPH is the solution to the problem.

      • David Lang says:

        > 15% of the voters should not be able to control 100% of the nominations. That’s my core issue, and not negotiable,

        Then you have a non-negotiable demand that is impossible to satisfy without making rather significant assumptions about all the other ballots.

        If you subtract the puppy nominations from the total nominations and assume 400 puppies, the remaining ballots all had just over 1 candidate that made it into the top 11 (after subtracting the puppies from the list). The probabilities that the remaining nominations would be spread that evenly are pretty much nil. This means that a large chunk of the ballots would end up being dropped entirely (pretty close to a 1:1 ratio of additional items on one ballot to an entire other ballot being dropped)

        Unless you assume that there is a lot more commonality to the nominated works than the numbers indicate, you still have a small fraction of the ballots actually determining the remaining list.

        The only reason that 15% can do it now is because of this lack of commonality.

        • David, although of course the nominated works are always going to come from a small minority of ballots (because there are dozens or hundreds of ballots, and only five slots per category), without slates it won’t be the same 15% of the voters deciding nearly all nominations in nearly all categories.

          With the slates, the nominations for nearly every category are controlled by the same small group of voters, who are colluding to prevent other voters from having a say. That’s not the case with non-slate voting, at all.

      • Thomas Monaghan says:

        Anti Slate? At least 1500 people voted as a slate against the Puppie nomination. Ha.

  15. Pingback: Post Hugo Roundup | Simon McNeil

  16. Mark Bernstein says:

    Hi, Eric. First let me emphasize that I’ve read several of your postings on this topic, and I think that, overall, you say a lot of very sensible things, and say them well.

    In this case, though, I’d like to call out two things:

    There are real disagreements and divisions lying at the heart of the Recent Unpleasantness.

    And what, in your obviously informed opinion (no, that wasn’t sarcasm), are the real disagreements and divisions? If we can figure that one out, to the point where people on all sides of the discussion can agree on what they are, then we’re making real progress.

    In a nutshell, the awards have been slowly drifting away from the opinions and tastes of the mass audience, to the point where there is today almost a complete separation between the two.

    This is a form of one of the main Puppy arguments, and I have a problem with it. Conflating sales (does “the mass audience” mean something else?) with quality is, to say the least, questionable. Does Dan Brown deserve a bunch of awards, just because he consistently tops the Best Seller lists? (I thought “The Da Vinci Code” was a decent potboiler, and “Angels and Demons” was flat-out awful. I won’t be reading anything else by him.) Should Stephanie Meyer be one of our most honored?

    And the truth is that authors who appear on Best Seller lists do make it on to the Hugo ballot, some on a regular basis – George R.R. Martin, John Scalzi, Robert Jordan, Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant, Charles Stross, Kim Stanley Robinson, etc., etc. – hell, if it had been eligible, “The Martian” would have been a runaway favorite this year.

    • Tamir Buchshtav says:

      But the Hugos aren’t about an abstract “quality”, are they?
      They’re awards decided by fans, based on what the fans liked to read.
      I’d say that yes, I really do expect to see a correlation between the awards and the best sellers lists. Not 100%, of course, because nobody really believes that best seller lists are free from commercial interests, but some correlation is expected.
      Because people buy what they like to read, and therefore are likely to vote for.

      • Tibicina says:

        This may be part of the logic gap here. There are a lot of SFF books that I buy and enjoy and love to read which I would never, ever nominate for a Hugo. There are books that I call ‘bubblegum fiction’ – They’re fun! I like reading them, especially when I’m tired or when I’m trying to catch my reading in tiny chunks while waiting in line or between meetings or before bed. I even recognize a certain amount of skill in keeping them fresh and entertaining and light. But when I think awards nominations, I think books which changed the way I thought or gave me an entirely new perspective or just did something new and different.

        The joy of ‘casual dining’ establishments is that I can walk in and know what I’m getting. It won’t be mind blowing. It won’t be anything I haven’t tasted before. And sometimes I want that. But I don’t then loudly proclaim that the people behind Zaggat are obviously engaged in a conspiracy to keep the vast majority of people who eat food down by refusing to rate the more common restaurants highly. (Especially given that, like the Hugos, Zaggat ratings are based on collecting reviews from non-paid people who are not professional food critics.)

        I believe more people than you think separate ‘deserves an award’ and ‘fun to read’ unless the /explicit criteria of the award in question/ is ‘fun to read’. And if you want to make those awards, more power to you. Heck, if you want to make those awards for a specific sub-genre, go ahead. ‘Best’ and ‘Most Fun’ are not always the same, even if ‘Most Fun’ can play into ‘Best’.

        • David Lang says:

          That’s why he says there would be a lot of correlation, but not an exact correlation. If a few bestselling books don’t show up in the lists, no problem. But if most bestselling books don’t show up on the lists, and most things that do show up on the lists sell poorly, then we have strong indications of a problem.

        • Bibliotheca Servare says:

          Harry Potter changed how many peoples “ways of thinking” again? Redshirts? Your hatemail will be graded? Wheel of Time? … Yeah. Sooo…what made any of those “award worthy”? Oh…right. Fans decided they thought they were. If Deborah Harkness published a new entry in her “All Souls” universe (it’s a trilogy, but one can hope, no?) in time for the 2016 Hugo’s I’d suggest including it in “SP4″s “slate” 1: because I’ve no doubt I’d consider it worthy (yes, I have a frightening faith in her ability as an authoress. sue me) and 2: it would bring *hundreds* of *thousands* of people (if not *millions*) into the Hugo process. All of them avid fans of hers, and all of them uncaring about whether they were “offending” the organizers and “trufen”. The same with J.D Robb/Nora Roberts, although I tremble to think of the numbers *that* would bring…*shudder of fear/shiver of glee*. You may feel a work is only “award worthy” if it somehow alters your mental processes. *I* (and many of my fellow “puppies”) feel very differently. I feel that a work may be award worthy…if I think it’s *fantastic*. Subjective? Sure, but so is “mind altering” for that matter. If that makes me unworthy…well, I’ll wear my yellow star(or circle) with pride. (yes, that’s a reference and an allusion/implication all in one.)
          Good day.

          • Caitlin says:

            Again, please, learn to make your posts more readable. If it takes even twice as much effort to figure out what you are saying compared to everyone else, many people might not put in the work. I certainly won’t.

            • Books first, food later. says:

              *sigh* See my reply to you above. If it’s too hard for you to read, by all means don’t read it! But responding simply to say you dislike my blithe disregard for many of the “rules” of formal written english serves no useful purpose. Well, I suppose it might make you feel better, and I can understand that, but aside from that it’s meaningless. Be well.

              PS: hope this wasn’t too linguistically convoluted and disordered for you! *cheeky grin* :-p

              • Caitlin says:

                I have to think everyone writes comments, in part, to make themselves feel better, or at least show what their stance is. No comment I have read appears to have any chance at all of changing anyone’s mind. No one’s grammar is perfect, but there is still a chance of at least rising to everyone else’s level. Your comments prove you can do better.

  17. Eric Schultheis says:

    The name calling is keeping people on both sides from understanding what is going on and what they wish to do about it. It is a distraction from solving the problem of welcoming more voters to greater represent the current state of fandom, and preventing bad actors from overwhelming the system. There are solutions to this problem, and work to be done.

    • Sean says:

      *shrug* Ironically that was one of the stated intentions of this year’s Puppy campaign. To increase the fan/voter base. Both sides did it. Sadly the anti puppies did it just to be massively vindictive and Noah Ward and royally screw over good folks…in 5 categories no less.

      • Naomi says:

        I think you mistake the anti-Puppies’ intentions.

      • clif says:

        who are these “good folk” you reference?

        John Wright? Theodore Beale? Lou Antonelli? Michael Williamson?

        not nice people. Sorry.

        I voted No Award not to be vindictive but because the works nominated were crap. Total crap. And you guys know it …

        • airboy says:

          Clif:

          I suggest that you read the statistical analysis at ChaosHorizon. The editor top vote getters were excellent nominees and Resnik has several Hugos.

          There is a hard core, 2,500 votes against anything the puppies nominated regardless of the “quality” of the nominees. Your argument that only “crap” was nominated is not backed up by the voting behavior.

          You might call the 2,500 a lock-step “anti-slate” vote – but it clearly was not a 2,500 vote against “quality.”

          • clif says:

            I didn’t vote in the editor categories …

            and those categories seem to be stretch of a hill to take your stand on …

            the categories I no awarded … WERE crap.

            your position seems to be whining that your voter bloc got outvoted by a different voter bloc. Whatever …

          • Daveon says:

            Got to agree with Cliff. I No Awarded in several categories because there was nothing to Award.

            I abstained from editor because I honestly don’t have a clue.

            I voted #1 for Guardians of the Galaxy because it was my favourite movie of the year (followed by Edge of Tomorrow) and was on the slate because it was quality.

            “One Bright Star to Guide Them” and “Turncoat” were not.

            • Bibliotheca Servare says:

              Riding the Red Horse (regardless of my opinion of its publishers chief editor) was superb and informative. Regardless if I disagreed at times with the (many and impressive) contributors conclusions/opinions, I could not fault it for quality. That you could…well, there’s no accounting for taste. (yours *or* mine. my taste is as subjective as yours, iow, and to state the obvious)
              Be well.

      • Mike says:

        Sean, this kind of ranting does not give you any credibility. Increasing the number of voters and reveling in the power of democracy seemed to be just fine with the Puppies when they dominated the nominations. But when they got pretty definitively crushed in the final voting, then it was nothing but “massive vindictiveness”.

        A movement that calls for increasing the number of voters CAN’T then turn around and whine about how many voters voted against them. It’s just silly.

  18. Gary D says:

    Lets face it RAH was right in his writing timeline these are the Crazy Years . A good story is a good story if it takes your imagination and you can’t put it down . The reward for it is you buy the authors other books. And believe me I’ve bought enough dogs in print to know the difference . Some where Nebula winners .But I just couldn’t get into the plot or the people acted decidedly odd .

  19. Matt Y says:

    I think there was a lot of people poking fun at the whole ‘ray guns’ thing. Maybe that writer was trying to be intentionally use an anachronistic phrase on purpose to add weight to the idea of trying to bring back older SFF.

    I like some of the books written by Puppy authors, I dislike others. Ditto goes with authors who aren’t. I think it’s ridiculous (and vile) enough for the Puppy movement to claim Affirmative Action and insult the voters and prior award winners , then for some reason to expect those same people they insulted to vote for their works the slates, without needed to create or speculate any other ulterior motives. Maybe that’s too difficult or boring for a news blog to distill.

    I think it’s a little difficult to be aligned with the mass SFF audience just because comparatively, that mass is a lot larger and a lot more widespread. Reading everything in a year is difficult to do, and nearly impossible to sift through things like indie published works well. Much less all the genre related TV shows, movies, podcasts, etc. That’s a pretty good problem to have for fans though.

    Supposedly SP4 is going to be along the lines of a recommendation list? I don’t know but I hope so because if the intent really is to try to give exposure to authors who people feel unfairly ignored, giving those authors exposure, helping promote those works, trying to get the word out and encouraging people to read those works, well that’s a helluva better way of positively promoting people than ‘My books good, your books bad because derp’. Sure it involves more work, but just like all of the volunteers who make WorldCon happen, it’s to help build, celebrate and share something they love and that will go a long farther than baseless accusations and threatening to burn it down. Sadly, just like with mainstream news trying to distill a niche in group argument, doing so might be too difficult or boring compared to fighting a culture war.

    • David Lang says:

      how do you define the difference between a recommendation list and a slate?

      Is it filling exactly 5 slots on the ballot (SP3 had from 1-5 listed in each category)

      Is it saying ‘vote exactly this way’ vs ‘read and vote on what you like’? SP was very clear to emphasis reading everything, Larry organized book bombs that sold thousands of copies of each of the candidates prior to the nominations, so if the people weren’t reading the books, they were at least buying them.

      Over on file770 I asked the question and the answer I got back was “it depends on your intent, and anything you do will support Vox Day so if you produce a list, it’s supporting evil”

      personally, I advocate creating a longer list and arranging the website so that every time it’s viewed, it shows up in a different order :-)

      • Matt Y says:

        I wouldn’t say creating a longer list is the only thing that might be needed. Again this is a personal opinion and not meant to be a suggestion of what they do or don’t do, because they’re going to do what they want regardless.

        I’d suggest they start now, with putting up recommendations of works that they feel best represent them and continue that through next year. That might take the form of signal boosting books, interviews with specific authors, reviews, etc. Correia does signal boosting with bookbombs already, but why limit is to his blog, get the rest of the Puppies on board and try to coordinate to get the word out more effectively. It certainly might help with the Indie published authors who might have issues with getting PR anyway.

        As it goes along build a list, reference back to those reviews and links about why people enjoyed those particular works. By the time the nomination phase comes around next year they’d have a whole catalog of works to reference. I mean if these folks can spend hundreds of thousands of words on SJWs and giving people they don’t like attention, you’d think they could spend a similar effort promoting the works they do love and talking about why they love them. That was certainly missing in SP3, even when Kary English tried to ask for people to do so.

        If they feel there is under-representation, at least make the effort to try and help those authors be represented instead of giving people they don’t like more relevance.

      • clif says:

        I think you know very well what the difference is.

        That’s part of the problem … your disingenuousness

        • Bibliotheca Servare says:

          Is that a nice mirror you’re constantly looking at whilst you type? I will give you this: You *are* entertaining. That said, maybe step away from the mirror for a few minutes…what do you say? ;-)

      • Mike says:

        One thing I hope they learned is that they better have more than the maximum number of nominations, not fewer. That way nobody else can come along and fill in the remainder of the slots, hijacking their recommendations.

        • David Lang says:

          Mike, I don’t by that. In the best Novel category Brad did list 5 works. That didn’t stop Vox from piggybacking on it, removing a few and adding his picks. There’s a post on file770 by an anti-puppy that outlines the ways that Vox can leverage the SP list no matter what size it is. He’s trying to say that the SP need to not produce any list because that then enables the ultimate Evil that is Vox Day, but I see it as being the case that no matter what SP4 does, they’re going to be accused of deliberatly helping Vox and running a slate.

      • David, this post by Sad Puppy Ken Burnside does a pretty good job of describing the difference between a recommendation list and a slate.

  20. Craig Engler says:

    Hi Eric,

    First, I think much of what you say is true, especially when it comes to a journalistic publication like Wired doing legitimate (or at least trying to) reporting on an issue. It is incumbent on them to get the facts right and it is incumbent on all of us to be informed.

    I would also say there is more to it than that, though. For instance, I don’t think everyone who’s criticized the Puppies needs to read everything they’ve written to be able to meaningfully comment when Brad writes things like: “Worldcon and fandom alike have tended to use the Hugos as an affirmative action award: giving Hugos because a writer or artist is (insert underrepresented minority or victim group here) or because a given work features (insert underrepresented minority or victim group here) characters.”

    That statement of his — which launched the Sad Puppies 3 campaign — can be addressed on its own merits (or lack of). And it certainly does not make me want to go combing through Brad’s oeuvre to find out whether his other writing contains minority or “victim group” characters. The same holds true for his comments about gay and non-white characters to Wired.

    And if someone comes out and says they agree with Brad and they sympathize with his POV, I’m going to assume their writing doesn’t contain the things that they seem to be complaining about. I don’t think the burden is on me to find the contradictions in their work, especially when you yourself write: “The very same people who piss and moan about diversity-for-the-sake-of-it litter their own novels with exactly the same kind of diversity they deplore when their opponents do it. Yeah, I know they’ll deny it.”

    So when you ask: “Is it really too much to ask people who take it upon themselves to criticize the Sad Puppies to FUCKING READ what they actually write?”

    Well, yes, sometimes it is too much. I don’t feel the need to read a Sad Puppy story to strictly examine their writing in terms of certain issues when they are already loudly (and often, and at length) talking about those issues outside of their fiction.

    • Matt Y says:

      Yeah, I’m not sure saying that if you read their books you’ll notice the double standards they have for their books versus others is a complimentary one. They could put an asterisk in the news story about what stories they claim to want with clarification at the end about how several Puppies have written books with strong messages and diverse characters. Then again some members of that group might equate such praise as slander.

    • Sean says:

      and you miss the point. The point being to read an nominate based on your percieved quality of the work. which is one of Eric’s points. Also one of the puppies. *shrug*

      • Matt Y says:

        Don’t worries, I did read all the nominees and voted accordingly. Though I don’t blame anyone for voting any other way after being told that they had been voting wrong for several years and giving awards not because they actually enjoyed the works but because of Affirmative Action. Not sure why they expected folks to respect their choices when they had no respect for the voters of prior years works.

        Regardless you might want to re-read this article since Mr. Flint is specifically talking about what the article claimed versus what different Puppy authors wrote.

      • Craig Enger says:

        Eric’s point, at least in this article, was not to believe the “truly grotesque distortion of each side of the debate by the other side” in regards to the content of their stories. And I agree with that. My point is, I’m literally believing Brad’s own words, not someone else saying something about Brad and/or his writing.

  21. Eric, I think you are being a bit unfair. Yes, us anti-pups–and I’ll claim that title–have a stereotype of the pups’ works and have not read wildly in modern pupdom (Though in old-tymie pupdom I’m covered; I suspect I’ve read more Heinlein than most pups–being a reader when he was still publishing). I tried to read one of the Monster Hunter books but decided that is no way to spend my life. I hated it. But I did read what they commanded me to read. I read all their Hugo noms. Every one, from miserable to mildly OK. A bit of a stereotype started to rise from those works, but yes, you are right. To really comment on all their works, it would be necessary to read much more–of course it has never been about their works, and I have nothing against conservative writers as a whole.
    So, where did the stereotype come from? I didn’t make it up. Nor, I think did most anti-pups. We got it from the pups. I got it from Brad, who said he wanted stories of adventure like they used to have. And I read those stories of adventure that used to be–and there were rockets, and ray guns, and white guys–and little else. There were certainly no gays. Close enough to zero blacks. Only Western culture…in space. So, even realizing from reading the noms that Brad sometimes is less than accurate in what he likes–that he, for example, likes message fiction a lot more than he admits–at some point I have to believe something from him/them. If Brad says he wants old-time stories, I believed him. And then when he wrote on his blog that he likes stories with “manly-men”–yes, his words–I also believed him.
    Yesterday, on Brad’s blog, a pup said he liked a work because it had no “feminists” and no “fagots” in it. Again, I believed him. When a group of pups make a point of saying (in a blog just for that purpose, along with a podcast) that they like stories with happy endings, where a hero defeats a clearly defined evil, then again, I believed them.
    If the pups don’t like that stereotype, then they shouldn’t repeat it. It isn’t a stereotype of their works so much as a description of what they claim to support. And since this fight has never, ever, been about the pups actual writing, their claim is more important than the reality. It is what they keep pushing in the abstract, even if it isn’t what they actually like.

    • Sean says:

      ” us anti-pups–and I’ll claim that title–have a stereotype of the pups’ works and have not read wildly in modern pupdom (Though in old-tymie pupdom I’m covered; I suspect I’ve read more Heinlein than most pups–being a reader when he was still publishing)”
      That last bit was a tad condescending you realize? You’d also be woefully wrong. A great many of us own, if not all, than most of RAH in multiple formats. And even if we don’t own em all we’ve read em.

      I’d love to see a couple made into feature films. Some would be obvious ones I think. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Stranger in a Strange Land. To the maybe not so obvious one to some I think of JOB. Sigh and then I look at what hollywood and more specifically Verhoven did with Starship and think ‘nope…honestly don’t think it’s possible to trust anyone in Hollywood to not fuck up an RAH conversion to a fare thee well’

      • Perhaps a bit condescending. It comes from being told over and over by pups that I don’t know the great fiction, that don’t understand good SF.

        And I love Stranger. I think it would make a rotten film. The meaning of the book wouldn’t translate well. Didn’t love Moon is a Harsh Mistress. I’m not sure if it would make a good movie or not. Hard to tell.

        • Sean says:

          You might be right about Stranger. hmmm maybe if had been done in the mid to late 60’s early 70’s? Just think of it with a really psychedelic type soundtrack. :P I can…it sets me to giggling
          I suspect Moon probably would make a decent to excellent
          movie if done right. and there in lies the rub. “if done right” hollywood doesn’t exactly have a stellar track record with conversions to film in recent years. Hell I found myself wanting to find a copy of Raise the Titanic the other day. I oddly enjoyed that one as a film.

          • David Lang says:

            They are actually in the process of developing/producing a movie based on Moon

            • Sean says:

              and then we get back to my contention of “doing it right” Hollywood’s track record on that one…not to put too fine a point on it….sucks by and large.

      • Patrick Spens says:

        That last bit was a tad condescending you realize? You’d also be woefully wrong. A great many of us own, if not all, than most of RAH in multiple formats. And even if we don’t own em all we’ve read em.

        I’m sure that’s true, but I’ve seen more than a few comments that sound like “I loved RAH, but nowadays there’s too much promotion of sodomy and feminism.” And as someone who hasn’t read a ton of Heinlein, I just want to say “you know Job was a thing right? Does The Cat Who Walked Through Walls ring any bells? Time Enough For Love? Like it feels like some decent fraction of Puppies read Troopers Moon and maaaaybe Stranger, and then just stopped.

        • David Lang says:

          The claim isn’t that there should be no message, but rather that it needs to be a good, engaging story with good characters first, and if it has a message while doing this, fine.

          But when the message takes center stage, it hurts the quality of the work. Some works are so good that they can survive some of this (Troopers is an example), but most can’t.

        • Sean says:

          like I said.. most of us own all or almost. *shrug* I’m missing just a couple. it’s not a case of not being available it’s a case of available SPACE. Yep Cat is a good one. Friday is a huge favorite

      • Mark Bernstein says:

        I understand your skepticism when it comes to Hollywood, but I urge you to seek out and watch Predestination. It’s a genuinely good movie *and* a reasonably faithful adaptation of Heinlein’s “All You Zombies”. I was a co-sponsor on a motion, passed at the Business Meeting at this year’s Worldcon, to extend its eligibility, so that voters can nominate it for the Hugo in 2016. Which I will most certainly do.

  22. Here’s my take on it.

    SF/F goes though periods in which the Hugo nominees are as literary as possible. I suspect it’s in hopes that the genre gets accepted as “legitimate”. This is usually a self-correcting problem, as people get tired of being bored, and more entertaining reads show up.

    The Hugo awards are in one of those periods now. However, a group of writers for some reason, saw it as being caused by a cabal of so-called “Social Justice Warriors” insisting on political correctness and that the awards were given based on the politics, gender, race, or orientation of the author, excluding supposed “conservative” authors. Furthermore, they claim that one particular publisher is unfairly controlling the Hugos. That’s the “Sad Puppies”.

    The problem is that there’s no evidence that these so-called “SJW” types actually exists. And this year the “Sad Puppies” got hijacked by an avowed racist, sexist, bigoted whackadoodle named Theodore Beale aka “Vox Day”, The slate his “Rabid Puppy” faction put out was the majority of the Hugo slate, and his behaviour did a lot to tarnish and destroy the arguments the Sad Puppies were making. Not to mention the fact that Beale’s own documented racism (along with his friend and author John C Wright’s open bigotry and erbehaviorratic ) did a lot to tar ALL the puppies with the same brush.

    This wasn’t helped that the Hugo nominees this year was one of the weakest slates many had ever seen, with some nominees on both sides that were simply dreadful. (I thought that “The Day The Earth Turned Upside Down” was like reading about paint drying. And I found John C. Wright completely unreadable.) I read the entire slate. And made my votes. There were a couple on the “puppy slate” I voted for, but the vast majority of that slate I found to be of very poor quality. BadFic is BadFic, no matter what the political leanings of authors are.

    Hopefully next year sees a far better and more varied slate. The problem is that I see Beale as being more and more the face of the puppy movement, and he’s going to get more and more brazen to keep the attention on him

    I’m a political moderate. Some of my favourite authors are Lois McMaster Bujold, David Weber, and John Scalzi. I like the occasional John Ringo and L. Neil Smith read as well, along with Jacqueline Carey and Mercedes Lackey. Robert Heinlein and James White are favorites as well. I’m not a puppy supporter because I don’t believe in this “SJW cabal” they seem to believe in, and I find many of their tactics ethically questionable. I’m simply someone who wants to see the Hugo Awards return to “best of the best”.

    As the ribbon on my Sasquan membership badge said “We are ALL Science Fiction.”

    • Bromdorf says:

      “Furthermore, they claim that one particular publisher is unfairly controlling the Hugos.”

      I notice you didn’t address this part of the Sad Puppies argument which to me is their strongest. Looking at the history of the Editor (Long Form) award kind of suggest they might have a point.

      Though, like many here, I don’t buy the “left-wing bias” claimed by the Sad Puppies as the reason for this. I believe good old fashion “nepotism” (where the family are SMOFs instead of flesh and blood) is more than adequate to explain the (obvious, at least to me) domination of “one particular publisher”… and its WorldCon’s award, so I can’t begrudge them the choice of helping out their friends (and fellow SMOFs).

      That said it does seem to be speeding up the genetic drift into “dog show irrelevance” of the Hugos.

      Finally: Thank you Mr. Flint for those well written posts about this entire kerfuffle. Now when someone asks me my opinion on it I can just point them here and go “What he said”.

  23. For what it’s worth, your posts on the subject of this whole controversy have been a consistent beacon of actual thought and intelligent analysis.

  24. Pingback: Enriching Your Puppy Vocabulary 8/26 | File 770

  25. kathodus says:

    Quoting Eric quoting that lamentable article…

    Would sci-fi focus, as it has for much of its history, largely on brave white male engineers with ray guns fighting either a) hideous aliens or b) hideous governments who don’t want them to mine asteroids in space?

    I disagree that this is the general understanding that the non-Puppy Hugo voters had/have of the Sad Puppy stance. The SPs have a list of problems they have with the Hugos as they are. A (I am sure not comprehensive) list of complaints:
    – The works that win aren’t fun, message being valued over story.
    – They award authors/creators based on political stances, race, sexual orientation, gender, and possibly other identity-based traits.
    – White males, conservatives and Christians need not apply.

    But if you look at the Puppy slates, every one of those complaints holds true with their recommendations (not with every one of their recommendations, but each of those complaints is encapsulated in at least one Puppy nomination.

    See “Wisdom of My Internets”, see a lot of John C. Wright’s material, see… I’m out of time to finish, but if you don’t see it, I can follow up later with a one-to-one mapping.

    In the end, it was the use of slates that has the non-Puppies peeved.

  26. This is what I’ve been waiting about three months to read. Thank you.

  27. This foofaraw has made me realize that I used to read, nominate, and vote. I attend World Con regularly, but I gradually quit reading, nominating, and voting. So, if I want to have a publicly held opinion, maybe I ought to resume. Or, if you didn’t vote, why are complaining.

  28. Pingback: We failed to win a single battle, but we won the war! (Hugo Awards edition) | World Of Pancakes

  29. J. R. Tomlin says:

    That sounds great and of course you are right that there are excellent SFF writers of a conservative bent who put all kinds of diverse characters in their novels. But then there is a problem you didn’t address.

    THOSE PEOPLE WEREN’T WHO THE PUPPIES NOMINATED!

    Instead they filled their list with crap like three separate nominations for works by John C. Wright, who is both homophobic and frankly a rotten writer. Perhaps we can call that a triple play and the laughable nomination of Day for a Best Editor award.

    If they had looked for the best of the best from people who share their political outlook, I honestly think they wouldn’t have been shut out. Most of the short story nominations were barely readable, much less Hugo-worthy. In the Best Related Works category why didn’t they nominate something like “Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century, Vol. 2” which I would have voted for and surely would have fit in with their agenda?

    Their choices of nominations were somewhere between baffling and nothing more than pimping Day and his publishing house. As for Torgerson, either he simply has no taste or hasn’t read widely enough to have run into something good enough to put on a slate to he threw on the first things that came to mind.

  30. eric says:

    The self-referentiality of the Hugos could end up being a passing phase.

    The problem itself arises from the fact that the interests of “fandom” are no longer in sync with the interests of the buying audience, which is increasingly either part of a broader, more pop-cultural SF fandom, or not part of any fandom at all.

    If pop-cultural fandom bleeds over into traditional fandom and “corrects” the representation problem, then the Hugos basically fix themselves.

    That having been said, I think this is unlikely. You’d be more likely to see a third award defined in the pop-cultural realm, sponsored by some commercial entity ([koff] Comicon![/koff]).

  31. Rick Moen says:

    Where to start? I know, with Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Remember the gag where the peasant says ‘We’re an autonomous collective’? World Science Fiction Society, the all-volunteer, unincorporated literary organisation that runs the Worldcons and awards the Hugos, is sort of that. So, I cannot speak for WSFS. I’m not even a department or division head, let alone a vice-chair or chair. However, I’m a fairly typical (I think) Worldcon staffer at numerous Worldcons over the past 20 years — and the ‘side’ I’m on is that of WSFS.

    We of WSFS (for whom I do not and cannot speak; it’s something of a koan) are a very relevant party to this fracas, seeing that our event ended up being a recent battleground — but numerous people including Eric talk incessantly about what the supposed anti-Puppy ‘side’ said and did, but then this turns out to have nothing to do with anything WSFS has said or done.

    As Eric put it, let’s establish some basic facts:

    WSFS never said there was a conspiracy to drag SF back to white males in milSF Campbellian trappings. However, people who love SF about white males in milSF Campbellian trappings are welcome at our party, and their preferences are just as good as anyone else’s. Morever, they get the same vote as anyone else, one to a customer.

    WSFS never impugned the motives of anyone in dealing acknowledged voting problems. As to them being increasingly referential, see previous point that anyone who wishes to join the party gets the same vote as anyone else, one to a customer. If you want works with mass-appeal to get awarded that aren’t, nominate and vote them. Other people (especially on the Internet) may give you grief for wanting to do so, but WSFS never has. And, BTW, the two candidate voting changes in the pipeline for possible 2016 ratification are almost ostentatiously ideology-neutral and neutral as to tastes for one sort of work or another.

    So, yes, there are people on the Internet saying stupid and inflammatory things. None of those people voice the view of WSFS.

    And, the pity of it is, nobody is technically entitled to say the above on behalf of WSFS (certainly not me), because only the WSFS membership voices the group’s view, through voting, each member voting for what he or she wants, which tends to be incredibly diverse. So, instead, there’s a fight where one bunch of Internet loudmouths’ views are treated as if WSFS said them in arguing with a different bunch of Internet loudmouths, even though WSFS never did. And WSFS is caught in the middle and gets its annual party stomped on.

    Guess what? We of WSFS love our annual party, and all are welcome on equal terms, but stomp on our party and we will correct that problem using the most expedient available means. Don’t like that? Then, don’t stomp on our party. We stomp right back.

    • airboy says:

      WSFS has been scrupulously following its own rules. WSFS also provides copious information at appropriate times to disclose how the voting went. Good for you.

      But the nominations in recent decades have been very insular and literary. A small clique made the nominations and then the small body voted themselves Hugos. All of this was done following the rules.

      Larry Correia accurately discussed that Hugos were a fan award, that only a small pool of people vote, and that an even smaller pool of voters nominate. All true. He campaigned and got one of his books nominated.

      Then the trouble started. Larry goes to Worldcon and is repeatedly told that he was not welcome and that his type of writing, his politics, etc…. would prevent him from ever obtaining an award. WSFS is not responsible for jerks who are paying members – but the behavior made Larry very mad.

      Larry mobilized a group of people who concurred with his opinions and they started nominating. Sad Puppies urged people to read what they nominated and nominate what they liked. Rabid Puppies told their followers to vote a lockstep slate.

      Sad Puppies does not equal Rabid Puppies. Sad cannot prevent Rabid. Nor Rabid prevent sad. Just as WSFS cannot go back in time and tell a group of trufans not to be a terrible jerk to Larry and start the whole process.

      Sad/Rabid then followed existing Hugo rules and nominated people. They may have not followed unwritten “norms” where quiet politicking, listing “recommendations” and emailing friends to generate 100 – 150 nominations to get on the ballot are OK – but widely read recommendations that are acted upon are “wrong,” but they still followed the rules.

      Unfortunately for WSFS – the awards ceremony this year was rude beyond belief. Cheering, catcalling, etc….. when nominees are in the room? Wow! What a group of jerks. That behavior has probably earned enemies for life.

      WSFS voters should vote for 4/6 rule if they want to restrain a block from voting an entire slate of nominees that close a ballot. If the EPH proposal passes, it will look like the truefans who attend WorldCon in person will vote a convoluted nomination process to exclude others. Regardless of intend, that will be the result of EPH.

      • BW says:

        airboy: “A small clique made the nominations and then the small body voted themselves Hugos. All of this was done following the rules.”

        Or to express that factually, a small number of people who bought memberships to Worldcon made the nominations and a somewhat larger number of people who bought memberships to Worldcon voted. The results of their votes determined the recipients of the Hugo awards. All of this was done following the rules.

        The “clique” rhetoric that sometimes gets brought into these discussions seems to be based more on emotion than fact–or perhaps simply more on the lens through which one views the situation. It is a subjective view, not an objective one. There is no evidence that the people who nominate and vote constitute a clique. There is a certain amount of evidence that they do not (e.g., people who are said to be members of the clique have been nominated and lost, or have not been nominated when they had eligible work). It is not particularly strong evidence, but proving a negative is always problematic. Getting back to facts: It is a fact that a relatively small number of the people who buy Worldcon memberships vote. It is a fact that even fewer nominate. It is a fact that this year, more people voted than ever before. One can call them a clique, but mere use of the word doesn’t make it true. Labeling people with emotion-laden terms and no evidence to support the label isn’t a strong way to support an argument.

      • Daveon says:

        Two things – you don’t get to claim the slates were ok, and No Award isn’t. They’re both following the rules. One was a reaction to a bad action by the other party.

        Secondly – ironically, the real old guard ‘Trufens’ at the business meeting REALLY hated EPH, unlike us young’uns who think it’s the only real fix to a relatively simple exploit in the nomination system.

        This promise I make though – publish a reading list of decent works next year and it’ll get a fair shake, at least from me, and I’m the only person who can speak for me. Put up 5 works of inferior quality in a list for each category and we’ll be back here next year.

        • Bibliotheca Servare says:

          Maybe you should have some respect for the wisdom of you elder “trufen”? I mean…oh forget it. If you want to burn the awards to the ground, I’m not going to (try to) stop you. In fact, I bid you Godspeed in your self-destructive quest. Be well.
          ;-)

  32. Eric,

    Here’s what I think is the real problem. Rabid Puppies.

    Whether or not one is sympathetic to the Sad Puppy narrative in whole or in part, it has largely been focused on the issue of whether or not conservative-leaning authors are getting a fair shake. Taking the position that they are not is at least arguable, while the methods chosen to express that position have been largely inappropriate insofar as traditional, Worldcon-going Fandom is concerned. Since we are playing in Worldcon-going Fandom’s sandbox, this is problematic, but not insoluble.

    However, when it comes to Rabid Puppies, we are dealing with a group and a mindset that has publicly expressed its desire to destroy the entire institution of Fandom (and by extension the writer’s organization, a publisher and specific individuals).

    It also seems to be true that Rabid Puppies possess the financial and social means to implement their goals ad infinitum, as well as the desire to do so.

    We are largely dealing with a personal vendetta, the perpetrators of which are in a position to continue to cause problems for the Hugo Awards and WSFS/Worldcon (not to mention the collaterals). No solutions that may be implemented (such as voting No Award or changing the rules for nominations/voting) will be effective in countering their actions. (As ridiculous as it may be, one RP is already agitating to sue WSFS because the Asterisks given out represented an “unauthorized award”. Ridiculous, but indicative of the kinds of actions that RPs are and will continue to engage in.)

    I suspect that one action taken next year will be an attempt at an RP slate that will consist of works that are popular with the general Fan population and are likely to be on the ballot without slate involvement, presenting the voters with the ugly task of No Awarding truly worthy works or be seen as endorsing the RP slate. Every category will subject the voter to the same agony as many felt while voting for the Best Editor categories this year. (Endorsement by FANDOM will be what the RPs claim and that “victory” will be used to gin up more RP support and more slanted coverage by certain elements of the main stream press, none of which will accrue to fandom or Worldcon’s benefit.)

    I think that the only effective method for minimizing the negatives for next year and in future is for our community to speak out against slates and for potential nominees to expressly state that they do not want to be included on any slates; anyone doing so acts without their permission.

    If an RP slate is produced for next year and the majority of nominees on that slate are on record as not endorsing their inclusion, the voters will be free and clear to vote their consciences. RP slate voters who vote the slate (presumable of worthy works) will effectively be voting the way voting was intended to be used.

    Fandom has traditionally had a strong bias against campaigning. In the past when actions similar to slates have come to light, the voters have treated them exactly the way they were treated this year, by voting them below No Award. Other instances that may or may not have occurred would have received the exact same treatment if they had risen to public knowledge.

    Taking a firm position against campaigning, bloc voting and slates simply reinforces the community’s existing tradition and is beneficial to everyone who might be nominated and/or might vote. The Sad Puppy contingent of Fandom ought to embrace it, especially in light of the vote counts this year. Without slates, their works are on a level playing field. With slates, they are at a 3 or 4 to 1 disadvantage.

    I believe that many of the Sad Puppies can be encouraged to return to the fold; Fandom has a long memory, but it is also very forgiving.

    As for the RPs though, we need to understand that even if WSFS and the Hugo Awards were handed over to them, TOR went out of business and John Scalzi, David Gerrold, Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Rachel Swirksy, and many others were exiled to Siberia and all of their work expunged from existence, this would not be enough. It therefore behooves us to prepare for a long engagement, to anticipate what they may try to do and take whatever actions we can (so long as doing so does not negatively affect the community) to minimize its negativity.

    • airboy says:

      All reasonable – but how do you (or the truefen) define a “slate.”

      If Sad Puppies 4 recommended anything from 1 to 8 items in a category would it be considered a slate?

      Sad Puppies all along said read the nominees and vote what you think is good. And earlier in the process they said “here are people we want to nominate – but read and make your own decision.”

      Is recommending a specific number (whatever that is) the problem? Or is it who is making the recommendations?

      Nobody can speak for all readers – but voting an “anti slate” could also be inferred that any well known author (say Scalzi or Correia) who makes suggestions is a slate and must be no-awarded?

      I say this as someone who voted this year (I read them all) and will nominate what I read and liked in 2015 next year. I’m not going to nominate what I have not read. And I reread so much stuff (or don’t get around to reading it the year it was released) that my total nominations will be small.

  33. James May says:

    Abigail Nussbaum
    Liz Bourke
    Natalie Luhrs
    Anita Sarkeesian
    Mark Oshiro
    Lynn Thomas
    Shaun Duke
    Paul Weimer
    Rachel Acks
    Renay
    Jodie
    Aiden Moher
    Book Smugglers (Anna Grilo & Thea James)
    Neil Clarke
    Beth Meacham
    Patrick Nielsen Hayden
    John Scalzi
    Ken Liu
    Rachel Swirsky
    Seanan McGuire
    Kai Ashante Wilson
    Aliette de Bodard
    Amal El-Mohtar
    Max Gladstone
    Alyssa Wong
    Carmen Machado
    Django Wexler

    That is a list of people who may have been pushed out of nominations by the Sad and Rabid Puppies initiatives. It is self-explanatory, unless you haven’t done your homework. Defying all odds and by the most amazing of coincidences, they all have one single thing in common, and yet which is virtually unknown out in the normal world of human beings. Can you guess what it is? You don’t need a cabal in a church, just the congregation. I can’t knock off merely existing, and nor did I start off some war just by being born, so forget that bit about “cut it out.”

    • clif says:

      They’re all better writers than John C. Wright? Or Lou Antonelli? Or Michael Williamson? Or most certainly VoxDay?

      yep that’s gotta be it.

      • Peter J says:

        That can’t be what he means, clif; he says it’s something “virtually unknown out in the normal world of human beings”.

    • Thomas Monaghan says:

      Well 3 of them are Tor editors so Tor would’ve had 3 out of the 5 Long Form Editor finalists again.

  34. Bob Eggleton says:

    Really well said Eric. You nailed it perfectly and on the money.

    As a former multiple Hugo winner, I saw all this mess and went “Look what they’ve done to my song, ma” as the song goes!!! I have stayed relatively quiet on all of it, skipped the Worldcons since 2011 when I saw things going downhill then.

    Great overview, you always do it well. Thanks.

  35. Joat says:

    It’s my belief that any group of people that has the same superficial opinions and/or interests and which frequents the same social avenues will in time evolve into a group of snobs regarding their subject matter of interest.

    This is in itself not a problem, the problem occurs when two or more groups cross paths and they have similar interests/opinions and they all think their group adheres to the “One True Way”. It may be that the groups actually started out as one that split because of dissenting opinions.

    Anyway, cue drama and monkey poo flinging. That’s my simplified take on the whole debacle of the Hugo’s – monkey poo flinging.

    I don’t care who is right and who is wrong, the only thing I care about is that stories are judged on their merits – not some affirmative action agenda or an authors opinion or political leanings. But, I’m somewhat of an idealist I guess and I know that the real world is less than ideal and judging + voting will always be influenced by personal opinions and/or political agendas.

    I find it a bit mind-boggling that people can invest so much time and energy (and vitriol) into something that will solve itself in the end. If the Hugo awards drift away from what people in general thinks is a “good story” or what is a “good author” it will lose credibility and importance. And there is nothing worse than to use awards to push a political or social agenda which will tarnish the reputation, no matter *who* does the pushing.

    In the end I vote with my wallet, I will buy books that *I* find interesting or get recommended from friends. I really don’t care if a book has a Hugo or not.

    And if someone that reads this thinks I should be labeled an SJW or SP or RP or whatever, you just tried to peg me into either a group you identify with or a group you don’t identify with – which is a typical “us vs them” mental response. It’s hard not to fall back on the old monkey responses hidden deep in the brains recesses, isn’t it . . . at least we aren’t still literally flinging poo at each other, or worse.

  36. Legatus says:

    Some problems:
    Fact One. There is no grandiose, over-arching SJW conspiracy to deny right-thinking conservative authors their just due when it comes to awards. It does not exist. It has never existed. It is nothing but the fevered dreams which afflict some puppies in their sleep.

    So…why did the attendees, or at least many of them, clap when the No Awards were given out, hmm? “No Award” sure sounds like a denial of an award to me.

    Why did many people post that they were voting based specifically on the personal politics of the authors, and not the qualities of the stories themselves? These were the people who clapped above, the ones who specifically called for the No Award vote. They have stated this specifically and repeatedly.

    Why did some of those above also state that they had not, in fact, read the works that they were voting No Award over, and never would? That sure sounds like a conspiracy to me, it cannot be because they voted because they thought the works undeserving.

    Have YOU read the works, do YOU think they are so completely undeserving that No Award is better?

    Look at the awards for best long form editor, the first person nominated got something like 4 times the votes that any other editor in history had gotten, the runner up, something like twice historical, yet the same monolithic bloc of 2500 who voted No Award on most everything else voted them down. Considering the total number of voters, 2500 is “over-arching”. Also, how many of those people who voted even knew one thing about the editor in question, or had ever worked with her (2500 authors, I don’t think so)? So why, exactly, did they vote that way, and why did that same monolithic bloc vote the same way on most everything else? The numbers have been crunched, 2500, over and over.

    The Puppies, and I believe it was the Rabid Puppies even, nominated several people who so disagreed with the politics of said puppies that they declined the nomination. This shows that
    (A) the Puppies were voting based on the quality of the works, not the politics of the author.
    (B) These authors are out of touch with the fan base. If your fans, your readers like you so much that they wish to award you with a fan based award, you should accept that. If not, you are admitting that you do not care about your fans, so, who, exactly, are you writing for, the opinions of your “peers”, who are they, exactly? Perhaps that is why the general readership of SF is declining, if you do not care for your patrons, the ones that pay your bills, than they will not care about you, or support you.
    (C) Perhaps they did not wish to be associated in any way with a slate made by people who’s politics they dislike, as they themselves stated, perhaps because their “peers” would do to them what they have been doing to the Puppies, constant personal attacks, calling for people to one star them on Amazon ratings (even if they had not read the book), calling for people to not buy their books or even read them (known legally as slander or libel, as it effects their pocketbook), two web DDS attacks, at least one bomb threat. That is pretty aggressive peer pressure, by multitudes of people, kinda sounds like at least some people were conspiring, doesn’t it?

    So, “fact one” must be at least partially wrong, and merely a biased opinion, based on the FACT 2500 voting bloc, the FACT clapping when No Award was given out, and the FACT specific stated reasons given for that, including the politics of the author and the ones who stated that they had not and would not read the works they were voting down, and compared to the FACT Puppy slate were we see that in several cases they did indeed vote for authors who’s politics they disagreed with, as seen by the words and actions of those authors. And, of course, the FACT that No Award automatically means “to deny”. There is no…conspiracy to deny in the year when a record five No Awards by a voting bloc of 2500, greater than the total of all votes on most years, are given out??

    So, I presented my provable FACTS, that you can look up, where are yours?

    Fact three. In a nutshell, the awards have been slowly drifting away from the opinions and tastes of the mass audience, to the point where there is today almost a complete separation between the two.
    *So, who’s tastes, exactly, have they been drifting toward? Be specific.
    *This is exactly the stated reason why the Puppies started, “boring message fiction is the leading cause of puppy related sadness”.
    *See above, SF readership has declined, if you drift away from your fans, they will drift away from you. One of the major reasons for the whole puppy movement is to drift it back to the fans. And I once again point out, if it has drifted away from the fans, who, exactly, has it drifted toward?
    *When the puppies got their slate voted in, peeps stated over and over that they were “not true fans”, so, exactly what are “true fans”, who says so, and why are the actual fans voting with their feet and not buying the books?
    *The Puppies stated goal is to save SF from it’s decline, to save YOU, by bringing at least the awards in greater accord with the wishes of the readership. Many people will NOT buy a book now if it has a recent Hugo, and state so.
    * Frankly, YOU don’t want to win a Hugo now, it would hurt sales.

  37. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Not going to say anything about the fan fight right now. I’m just going to comment on the idea of “Best Science Fiction/Fantasy”.

    When talking about the “Best of ” something the question should be asked “what are the standards to judge what is Best”.

    Without standards, all there is are “opinions”.

    When somebody says “This is the best Science Fiction book of the year”, without standards, it’s just an opinion.

    When somebody says “This is the most enjoyable Science Fiction book I read this year”, it’s a fact.

    Now I would be extremely arrogant if I said “I enjoyed this book and anybody who didn’t is stupid/evil”.

    Of course, it would be just as arrogant of me if I said “I didn’t enjoy this book and there must be something wrong with anybody who did”.

    As for the Hugos being for the “Best SF/F of the year”, what are the standards of “Best” and have the standards been written down in the rules?

    I’ll end by saying that the Hugos have always been a fan award so “what is Best” should be what the fans, willing to vote, believe is Best and without standards “what is Best” is a matter of opinion.

    • Matt Y says:

      I agree that it is arrogant to tell someone that something must be wrong with them if they didn’t enjoy the same books you did, especially if someone says ‘Those books you enjoyed and voted for in the last decade you didn’t really like at all, you only voted on them because of the race, gender or sexual preference of the author or characters within the text.’ Can you even imagine how insulting it would be if someone actually did that?

      • Drak Bibliophile says:

        First, I was trying to avoid the Fan Fight and was only commenting on the idea of “What Is The Best”.

        Second, I’m scratching my head in puzzlement as there were plenty of Fans/Authors/etc. talking saying that people should vote on books because of the race, gender or sexual preference of the author or characters within the text?

        Third, we were also told that Sad Puppies rejected books because of the race, gender or sexual preference of the author or characters within the text. IE we only wanted books written by Straight White Males with Straight White Male Heroes.

        Of course, one of my favorite authors is Sarah Hoyt who is Portuguese (now an American citizen) and I enjoyed her book A Few Good Men where two of her main characters are gay.

        • Second, I’m scratching my head in puzzlement as there were plenty of Fans/Authors/etc. talking saying that people should vote on books because of the race, gender or sexual preference of the author or characters within the text?

          I think there were people who said that this is one factor (among many) that they liked about particular books or stories.

          I don’t believe that “plenty of” fans or authors were saying that this was the sole criteria, or that any book or author should be given a Hugo “because of the race, gender or sexual preference of the author or characters within the text,” absent consideration of other factors like how well written the story was.

          Can you prove me wrong with some links to direct sources or quotes?

        • Matt Y says:

          Hey man, I was agreeing with you on how arrogant it is when someone tries to paint your favorite choices as being wrong.

          So first, the Hugo is awarded to what the WorldCon voters vote for what they feel is the best. You’re right about it being a fan award. No fan fight here, just fan agreement. Fangreement if you will.

          Second, really? None that I’ve seen. I’ve seen people recommend and promote authors who they feel might otherwise be ignored. Like you like a book by Hoyt with gay characters, if you said you liked it and I knew a good book with gay characters in it I might say ‘If you like that, check this out!’. But I don’t normally recommend books I hated that I think others will also hate, so I’d be surprised if there were people recommending books they didn’t think were good book.

          Three you’ve really gotta take up with the Puppy leaders man. Because when the public faces of the movement start out by insulting prior winners because of gender, race or sexual preference it seems like they’ve got a problem with that. That’s a PR problem caused by what they’ve said about their motives.

          It would be like if I said that you didn’t actually enjoy Hoyt’s writing, but you only said you liked her books because she’s female, who is from another country, and because she wrote gay characters. You just actually like her books, you’re just lying and trying to forward an agenda.

          Take that, put it over ten years of books and you’ve got what the Sad Puppies 3 announcement said.

          If you can’t understand that, well man, I’m just agreeing with what you posted earlier.

          • Drak Bibliophile says:

            Take it up with the Sad Puppy Leaders?

            Sorry, I quit.

            None of the “Sad Puppy Leaders” said “we’re against books because of the race, gender or sexual preference of the author or characters within the text”.

            That’s A Lie and I’m sick & tired of dealing with the lies and people who believe the lies.

            Good Night.

            • Matt Y says:

              Announcing Sad Puppies 3:

              “Worldcon and fandom alike have tended to use the Hugos as an affirmative action award: giving Hugos because a writer or artist is (insert underrepresented minority or victim group here) or because a given work features (insert underrepresented minority or victim group here) characters.”

              https://bradrtorgersen.wordpress.com/2015/01/07/announcing-sad-puppies-3/

              Please tell me it’s a lie again.

              • Drak Bibliophile says:

                An intelligent person reading Brad’s post would see that he wasn’t calling for “only whites, only straights, only male” authors and characters.

                He was against the use of the Hugo as an affirmative action award.

                I know Brad on-line and he is not a racist, gay-hater or woman-hater.

                For that matter, he considers himself a moderate and had friends who are liberal as well as friends who are conservative.

                His liberal “friends” decided that he was a monster the same as you apparently do.

                It’s people like you that show me that peace is not possible.

              • John Cowan says:

                Peace is always possible, but there is no road to peace. Peace is the road.

            • Matt Y says:

              Actually you mis-represented what I said. I said they insulted prior winners by saying prior award winners and nominees only won for those reasons, which is absolutely true. Not that they said those books shouldn’t exist. However if you’re going to argue against something I didn’t say, well I wish you goodnight as well.

              • Drak Bibliophile says:

                Considering that you have stated things about the so-called Sad Puppy Leadership that is a lie, why should I say anything more to you?

              • Matt Y says:

                Er, I didn’t lie. You took completely fabricated me saying that the Puppies only wanted straight white males to win. I never said such things. If you want to argue about that, you’ll be arguing with yourself.

  38. Mike says:

    Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. … The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully.

  39. Lindsey says:

    There was an opinion voiced by (I believe it was) VD and supporters that the reason the ‘SJW crowd’ was so hot on 3BP was that it was Communist propaganda. This is ridiculous on its face and was a statement made before any of them had read the book–VD later said he liked it, once he had actually bothered reading it, long after the nomination period closed.

    I think the statement in the Wired article is an oversimplification for space–it even states that it is–but to say that Puppy-aligned works tend to be focused on military adventurism and feature Big Damn Heroes who are often white, straight, and male is not false. It is not false to say that those works also often contain conservative messages in their text, explicitly and implicitly. All of that by itself is not a problem. Sci-fi has and always will contain ‘message’ as does all literature, because humans believe things, and even if the narration doesn’t pause to lecture the reader, the author’s assumptions about how the world works still show through.

    The messages of the author are more plain when one disagrees with them. If ‘the world’ is working how it’s ‘supposed to’, then maybe it doesn’t even feel like a message, unless your experience is markedly different and the author’s assumptions hit you in a way that ranges from unbelievable to hurtful. Then when other people tell you that no, your experience is wrong and not welcome, you get kinda angry.

    That last bit is what a lot of SF has done, over time, to women, to people of color, to homosexuals. Even liberal-leaning authors have their blind spots. Even women, people of color, and homosexuals have their peccadilloes about people different from themselves. What’s galling about the so-called ‘Puppy’ movement is that the claim that no conversation on this point is even allowed, that asking for diversity and trying to read outside one’s comfort zone is some kind of conspiracy to promote inferior works–because works that even dare to involve liberal issues are automatically inferior apparently. Ancillary Justice was a story about an android who went on a quest of self-discovery and ended up fighting a tyrannical government. I know Heinlein would never in a million years have written a book on such a topic, but AJ’s only ‘liberal message’ was the experimental language.

    The Puppies continually shift the goalposts about their aims but their claims about ‘message fiction’ have all been incredibly blinkered. Honor Harrington is mixed-race but she literally punches a liberal straw man in the mouth to shut him up and all punishment she receives for assaulting someone is presented as unjustified and later petty vengeance. I can cite this example because I’ve read all of HH, put up with all of Weber’s preaching, because the story was still entertaining enough. I wouldn’t call it deeply engaging–an Honorverse novel is like reading the equivalent of a dumb action movie. Fun for an afternoon but not for successive viewings. That’s just the first example that leaps to mind, and that isn’t part of the current crop of Puppy offerings. It’s a message and it derails the story to show the rightness of the (author) hero’s views.

    Basically, there is a certain amount of reactionary attitude in SF as there is in society. Trying to broaden our horizons is something that a lot of people want. There’s no conspiracy to it (good lord, liberals managing to organize? In secret? Pff) but there is a large block of fans who who want more of not the same. There are also a large block of fans who just do not like milSF and the Puppies are going to have to get over that. Fandom also proved it does not want slate tactics, at least not like those. When you lose an election by over 50% of the vote, you aren’t dealing with some nebulous construction of ‘the left’, you are dealing with the center.

    Last year, the previous SP movement only shoveled one work by Correia/VD’s clique into each category and they lost. They lost because they weren’t good enough, according to the Hugo voters. VD finished below No Award because his work was awful. Only immense hubris would assume that conspiracy and politics controlled the whole process.

    • airboy says:

      I’m glad you read the works and voted your opinion without being swayed to vote all “pro-slate” or “anti-slate.” That was all Sad Puppies (not Rabid) requested.

      A few of the nominees were horrid. Wisdom From My Internet was a poor book. IMHO so was the day the world turned upside down.

      Not buying something from those who vilify you is also reasonable. I won’t be buying marginal books from Tor again. Having multiple editors slander me and similar readers does not make me wish to give them my money. Vox Day – don’t buy his stuff if you hate him. But I’ve avoided reading him outside of the nominations this year.

      I liked Goblin Emperor and have recommended it to many. I never would have read it outside of the Hugos. That was a book worth buying – even from Tor.

  40. Terry Weyna says:

    Okay, so let’s try this.

    What would the Puppies (of whichever flavor) recommend that I read of the thousands of stories and novels published so far this year in order to make recommendations for next year? I have teetering piles of stuff in my TBR list; help me sort through it to read the best stuff published in the first eight months of the year. To give you a flavor of what I’m likely to enjoy, know that I voted for Sheila Gilbert for best editor; “Totaled” for best short story; and No Award for novelette, having thoroughly disliked the piece that won the Hugo. Right now I’m reading and enjoying THE INVASION OF THE TEARLING by Erika Johansen, though I do not consider it to be of Hugo caliber; next on the pile is THE FIFTH SEASON by N.K. Jemisin, which I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. I’ve also got a huge pile of Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger novels waiting for my attention; I’ve read the first two or three, and own all the rest. So I read pretty widely.

    All I ask is that you do not ask me to read anything by John C. Wright or Vox Day. After reading the nominated material for this year’s Hugos, I’ve read all I ever want to read from their pens (whether red or black, i.e., either as editor or author), and then some.

    • stellabystarlight says:

      I do not have a handle on Hugo items but based on your liking the Ledger novels you might enjoy Werewolf Cop by Andrew Klavan (not compelling title but a bit like true detective with werewolves) Christopher Farnsworth author. I am scrambling myself with finding eligible stuff especially short story. I have not usually been a fan of shorter items. How can you tell in an anthology that the stories inside are published in correct time frame. Someone earlier suggested a running list would love that.

  41. I will happily ride in the back of Uncle Eric’s car any time!

    And the 2,500 individuals who voted against people — not for stories, against people — last Saturday, have left me feeling that the “culture” of the WSFS is pretty darned broken. The way you handle someone else doing some of the cake-cutting, when giving out the chocolate cake, is not to hurl the whole cake to the floor and then cheer, “NO CAKE FOR ANYBODY!”

    But, it’s done. And I hung up my sport coat.

    The End Times of SF/F will proceed without my input.

    • Monte says:

      With all due respect Brad, to use your analogy, the way you handle a disagreement in taste is not to insist that everyone at the party eat only the one cake that you and a select number of the party goers insist be made available, when you’re no more the host than anyone else. I agree with you that “NO CAKE FOR ANYBODY” is not ordinarily the preferred response once the cake is selected, and that it certainly does not warrant celebration. But that reaction itself stems from the earlier exclamation “ONLY MY CAKE WILL BE MADE AVAILABLE FOR EATING,” which in April certainly elicited a lot of cyber-cheering of its own by certain advocates of the nominees ultimately presented to WSFS. John C. Wright nominated three times in the same category? Really? Is that kind of nomination representative of the “culture” that you think WSFS should actually be striving for? As Eric notes, the entire system needs fixing, and the issues are complex and not amenable to easy solutions. However, the nomination process this year cannot be held blameless for the problems reflected in the ultimate vote. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    • Matt Y says:

      You concern for people is admirable!

      I wish that concern for people had extended to the prior nominees and award winners of the award when you suggested that they did not earn their spot on merit but because of Affirmative Action. When you didn’t just insult their stories, you insulted all of those people….people. Not to mention the voters, volunteers of WorldCon, etc. The way you handled Sad Puppies was disrespectful to all of those people from the first day. That you piled disrespect on them in the ensuing months and tried to tell them what was best for them just added to it, then you expected people to award your slates for it? That’s precious.

      Fandom voted against the tactics and the constant bullshit. The only one who misused the people were those that treated them like pawns in a political game.

    • Wright was only listed twice on the Sad Puppies 3 slate: once for fiction, once for non-fiction. If people are upset at one person being on the suggestion list multiple times, or even on the final ballot multiple times, where was this outrage when Seannan McGuire appeared on the final ballot five separate times in one year? I fail to see any difference between people who like Seannan doing what they did, and people who like Wright doing what they did. For Sad Puppies 3 explicitly, I point again to the fact he was on the slate only two times, in two different categories.

      Also, for those upset at being given a final ballot they did not like — welcome to how the other half lives. That’s how a large number of fans (note the small f) feel every time the Hugo final ballot contains nothing but books and stories the Fans (large f) have chosen. That outrage you felt at having been served up something wholly against your taste and sensibilities? That’s the same outrage that was channeled by hundreds (thousands?) of fans into the Sad Puppies effort. So, for one season at least, the shoe got to be on the other foot. If you didn’t like it . . . well, a democracy doesn’t always give you what you like. Which was proven a hundred times over again, last Saturday night.

      In any case, everybody always hates the Hugo ballot a little bit — because there are omissions. If you hated this year’s ballot a lot, again, I would say, welcome to how the other half lives.

      As for distasteful tactics, we saw a single overwhelming tactic deployed on Saturday. Really, it had been deployed in the prior weeks and months, but the button finally popped out on the rotten turkey. Handing out the wooden buttholes, and the cheering to NO AWARD, these things may have been cute to the Fandom crowd, but how do you think they looked to the fans beyond the WSFS monoculture? We get a glimpse if we consider the reaction of Michael Rothman’s kids.

      One thing I learned as the spokesmanatee for Sad Puppies 3: always, there is more than one way for a thing to be perceived. To the internal world of Fans, the NO AWARD was a case of righteous Fandom (aided by several hundred activists who’d followed the “Evil White Males” narrative fed to them all summer long) rejected the Bad People and their Evil Badness.

      But to the external world of fans . . . . ?

      Perhaps if the asterisk (cough, CHORFhole, cough) had not been distributed, and perhaps if the NO AWARD announcements had been greeted with solemnity, there would have been a different look to it all. But because of the CHORFhole and because of the cheering, what it seemed like was a huge bunch of gray-haired children (and cranky younger activist types) who all proved to the universe they don’t know how to share.

      You may think that’s an unfair way to look at it. Sure.

      All I can say is? Sauce for the goose.

      I had two basic objectives with Sad Puppies 3: bring relevance to the award (which has been waning of late) and bring fresh people to the award. I succeeded with the latter. It remains to be seen for the former. My gut tells me NO AWARD spectacularly reduced the luster of the rocket, because people who’d been insisting that politics were never involved, and that quality was all any Fan cared about, scuttled their own argument in one fell swoop.

      But don’t just take my word for it.

      • Paula Lieberman says:

        I did not No Award all the same categories in which No Award won. I ran into a number of people who said they wrote No Award in the Best Editor categories, because they feel those categories shouldn’t exist. They said they don’t see what the editors do as regards any actual editing /revision suggestions to stories, and therefore not only do they claim to have no basis for evaluation, they feel that that the Bet Editor awards are inappropriate–their No Award votes for Editor, were for “we think this category shouldn’t be here and shouldn’t have winners.”

        (I don’t agree with them, but that’s the viewpoint that more than a few people seem to have. (I don’t need to know what specifically an editor did as regards got writers to rewrite–or not rewrite…–stories. My metrics for editors are “do I like or not like published versions of the stories the editor shepherded to publication?” And I can compare the same writers’ output across different publishers, which can show differences in how different editors get involved in suggesting story changes to writers. In some cases, where authors put up draft material online as samples, that does show what changes the editing/production process effected, de facto.)

        As for me No Awarding, take a look at past Hugo balloting results, and note there are ALWAY first place No Award votes present for most if not all categories. It’s not something unusual for -me- to vote No Award in one or more categories. What’s unusual is the number of -other- people who did so in 2015.

      • Paula Lieberman says:

        If the Hugo Award results are so distatesful to the Sad Puppies, why don’t they start up Puppycon and give out Fido Awards for the faithful, or at least start up their own awards for the type of stuff they think deserves recognition and promotion as their choices of best of the year? The Hugoes did;t exist before 1953, the Nebula Awards didn’t exist once a upon a time, the Locus Awards didn;t always exist, etc. Somebody or somebodies had to have the ideas and initiative and go to the effort to invent and adminster the awards. But, they did. There are also awards given out by e.g. Good Reads-so why aren;t the Sad Puppies remedying the situation of “what we like isn;t getting enough recognition and acclaim!” by, again, going to the effort and bother of implement their OWN awards?? (No, I am not volunteering. I don’t have giant grievances agains the Hugoes or the Worldcon, and I’m a Worldcon volunteer. I’m not one of the disgruntled sorts out of whom come new entities to meet needs the initiators feel should be met, which are not being met.)

        Meanwhile, what is so unconvincing about the concept that people who are ticked off about the results of slate voting, just might individually all make similar decisions to respond by voting No Award? There was no grand conspiracy involved, no slate, it was “we are not happy with the results, and we’re not endorsing them.” Quite a number of people I know felt compelled to read all the fiction category finalist, and were thoroughly underwhelmed by most of them. Regarding Editor, it seems to have been combination of protest voting (on an individual basis) against the slates, and those who regard the Best Editor categories as bogus (and the people who feel that way, mostly seem to have not been around in the days of Best Magazine, which was the predecessor of the Best Professional Editor categories. That seems to make a qualitative difference in perspective).

        The anti-slate voters were making statement, somewhat diluted by the fact that the results don;t include information about individual voting patterns–that is, how many of the No Award catetory winnes, were voted on by voters voting all those categories No Award, and how many were less of an -apparent- case of bloc voting.

        Reasons for voting No Award, don’t show, only the result–it can be that the person objects to the existence of the category, or thinks that something not on the ballot, deserved the award more than anything that got on the final ballot, etc. There is no finesse or nuancing involved in the results, the result is quantitative, even if the intention is a qualitative one. The outcome of the Hugos therefore is a “flattened” result–multidimensional feelings, reduced to a single dimensional outcome. 2500 people voting No Award, could have 2500 different reasons for voting No Award. Someone looking at the results asserting particulat attitudes on the part of the voters… is -speculating-, and the speculation could be based in beliefs which are far different than the reasons that people actually voted the way they voted….

  42. Mary G says:

    Thanks for this post, Eric. I also feel like many of those on both sides are acting like children and need a nap and a timeout.

    Here’s my personal criteria: any post that contains “racist,” “sexist,” “misogynist,” “cheating,” “SJW,” “CHORF,” “ELOE,” or any other names that have been flung around will be ignored. Everybody needs to chill out and start acting like adults. Forgive those who offended you in the past and start listening to each other. You might learn something.

  43. Mike Spehar says:

    I was and am somewhat in sympathy with the sad pups. (I don’t know much about the rabid pups, except they are supposed to be led by Satan’s helldog or something.) My sympathy for the pups comes from two sources: After 44 years of working for the military, I’m not inclined to trust any Powers That Be, in whatever field. The other source for my sympathy is probably what Eric describes as the growing rift between the Hugos and the fandom at large. The Hugos ceased to influence my have-to-read list long ago. So, I was inclined to support the sad pups.

    Having said that, I think it’s time for the pups to acknowledge that they were soundly trounced in the Hugo voting. Having brought bloc voting to the fore (sure it existed before, how could it not?), they failed to anticipate the predictable reaction. They then intentionally weakened themselves by saying, “Now, let’s all vote for our favorites.” This essentially ensured that none of the pup choices would beat the counter-bloc voting, including the choices of No Award. The Powers That Be understood how to win and will now claim (rightly or wrongly) to represent true fandom. Whatever that is. Own your defeat, pups, your opposition was just as committed and had a better war plan. Perhaps you were only beaten by heavier artillery, but you were beaten, nonetheless. Neither side could claim “Gott mit uns.”

    All of which leads us to ask, “What now?” Should the pups reorganize, re-arm, and try again? Begin a prolonged guerilla war campaign? Should they formally deepen the schism and create their own awards? Does any of that sound appealing, except to those with nothing but unending enmity and plenty of electrons on their hands?

    And yet, how does one end a war? With whom does one negotiate an acceptable peace? Who will be the first to stop beating up on their opponents and offer an olive branch? Where can the pups go to seek a truce, even if they so desired?

    I suggest that one way to achieve peace is to seek common ground. Eric points out, rightly I think, that the Hugos have become self-referential and suggests that no simple answer to this exists. There were some pre-voting suggestions about changes to the Hugos – what happened to them? Is there anyone on the anti-pup side who thinks some change might, just might, be in order?

    Come on, people, lighten up. Stop claiming to know the motivations of your opponents. Stop insulting them. Exercise charity. Give peace a chance.

    • Mike:

      There’s no one person to negotiate with. The anti-slate Hugo voters are not an organization; we have no leaders, no spokesperson, no means of making a decision as a group. It’s just a few thousand of fans who are committed enough to vote for Hugo awards, and who don’t approve of slate voting.

      I think the main thing the puppies need to do, if they want to convince voters like me to stop no-awarding their nominations, is to stop trying to game the Hugo voting by picking a small bunch of nominees for Puppies to concentrate their votes on. Convince me that you’re not doing that any longer, and I’ll be willing to vote for Puppy nominees. (Also, no more trying to get people fired because, a la Irene Gallo.)

      Or just wait a couple of years, and if EPH works, then Slate voting will cease to be an issue. After that, I’ll no longer care about slate voting. I’m eager to stop being mad at people and to put this stuff behind me, and I’m positive I’m not the only one.

      However, if the only thing that will satisfy the puppies is continued puppy dominance of nearly all the Hugo nominees, even though the large majority of Hugo voters aren’t puppies, then I don’t think reconciliation is possible.

      But if that’s not a sticking point for the puppies, then – speaking only for myself, as a Hugo voter who voted “no award” for every single slate nominee – I believe some sort of compromise would be totally possible.

      But, to repeat what I wrote earlier this thread: What is it the puppies want?

      I’m not being sarcastic. I seriously want to know. What concrete, specific changes are the Puppies asking for?

      • I should clarify that when I said “Convince me that you’re not doing that any longer, and I’ll be willing to vote for Puppy nominees,” that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to consider quality.

        Slate or no slate, I’m not going to rank work that I think is substandard above “no award.”

        But certainly, something like “Totaled” would have been above no award on my ballot, or even “On A Spiritual Plane,” if there hadn’t been the slate voting to consider.

      • Mike Spehar says:

        Barry, I cannot speak for the puppies. I did not vote for the Hugos, nor did I express any opinion about any nominee in any category. I believe the puppy leaders are well enough known, though.

        As far as anti-pup organization goes, I am even more clueless, except to say that I’ve never seen ten people, let alone thousands, do the same thing at once without someone at least suggesting what was required. It was my observation that the pups were soundly thrashed by better execution of a solid plan. If you say there was no plan and no organization, I won’t gainsay you.

        I merely expressed the hope that people would forego the temptation to dance in the endzone or sulk in the locker room and instead shake hands and progress from there.

        Personally, I’d like the novel category split between short novel (40,000 words and up) and long novel (over 80,000 words) and consideration of a series award. A regular “Hugo Classic” award for works that failed to win but subsequently became very popular (say, five years on) might also be considered. But others have expressed the same ideas better than I. I just think those are examples of things that might stir common interest, rather than divisiveness.

        Cheers!

        • Mike:

          The puppy leaders are well known, but they’re not saying what they want in concrete terms, nor do they seem interested in reasonable dialog; Kate, the new official sad puppy leader, just yesterday wrote a post saying that anti-slate fans are just like Nazis. (I’m not exaggerating; that’s what she said). That doesn’t look like someone who is open to civil discussion and reconciliation.

          Of course, lots of people talked about using “no award” before the Hugos were voted on. But other people – including the most prominent voices on the anti-slate side, GRRM and Scalzi – publicly opposed what GRRM calls “the nuclear option.” There was no plan and no organization.

          It’s that not surprising for thousands of people to do the same thing, if they all face the same stimuli and there’s a very constrained menu of choices.

          In this case, there were basically three options, for non-puppy voters: Vote not using “no award” at all, vote using “no award” above work of substandard quality (but without regard for how the work got nominated), or vote using “no award” above all slate-nominated works.

          In that circumstance, it’s not at all unlikely that a lot of voters went with options two and three, and that’s not an outcome that required any coordination.

          (To be sure, the other major response to the puppies – the E Pluribus Hugo proposal – did require a lot of planning. But that’s something that relatively few fans were involved with, compared to the thousands who voted in the Hugos.)

          Although there’d be details to be discussed, I’d be in favor of all of the changes you suggest, plus the addition of a YA novel category. But although I don’t doubt that many puppies would also be in favor of such changes, I don’t believe such changes would satisfy most puppies.

      • Legatus says:

        What is it the puppies want?

        How about, dare I say it, an END to the slate voting that has actually been going on for about a decade? I mean, Harlan Ellison talked about the slate voting even, it’s been going on for so long. And we know it is slate voting, because if this fan based award were actually still a fan based award, we would not have Flint above stating that the nominations and awards “have been slowly drifting away from the opinions and tastes of the mass audience, to the point where there is today almost a complete separation between the two”. Since slate voting has already been going on for a decade, then voting against slate voting by voting “no award” should have been done ten years ago. So, since you are willing to burn down the Hugo’s to stop slate voting, where were you ten years ago?

        And exactly what slate has been dominating the Hugo’s for the last ten years? Who have they stated they are, and what is the stated reasons for voting in a way that has ”been slowly drifting away from the opinions and tastes of the mass audience, to the point where there is today almost a complete separation between the two”?

        Do you even know who’s side you have joined by voting “no award”? That side is the side that has ”been slowly drifting away from the opinions and tastes of the mass audience, to the point where there is today almost a complete separation between the two”. In other words, you have decided that the Hugo’s should no longer be a fan based award. You are against the Hugo’s. You tell yourself that you voted that way to preserve the excellence of the Hugo’s, yet it is supposed to be a fan based award, and it has drifted away completely from that fan base, so what excellence exactly are you trying to preserve? What do you call excellence, for a fan based award, is it in keeping with the actual opinions of that fan base, and if not, are you not trying to ram your opinions and tastes down their throats? Is that not against the very spirit of a fan based award?

        And since it already is slate voting, and by a slate that, as Flint admits above, does not represent the actual fan base, then voting in another slate can’t really hurt anything, can it? I mean, you are already excluding works that the fans actually like, why not bring in new works that they may like? It really can’t get any worse. If you were willing to vote in works that were at odds with the taste of the actual fan base last year, and the year before, and the year before…and the decade before, why vote “no award” suddenly this year? I mean really, what’s the difference?

        And your stated reason for voting “no award” is “because slate voting”, is that not at odds with the reason the Hugo exists? Did you not vote for a reason other than the excellence, or lack thereof, of the works in question? Why do you call it slate voting? Where, from whom, did you learn it was slate voting? What are their stated politics? Why is one slate better than the other slate?

        And if your stated reason is “because slate voting”, did you even consider whether the works were worthy of the award? Did you even read them? Lets test, and see. Lets use the easiest one, Pale Realms of Shade. What was the protagonists (main character, narrator) profession? What was the protagonists uh, defining physical characteristic? Whodunnit? What was the first line of the story (one of the best first lines I have ever read)?

        • Matt Y says:

          The Hugos are a fan award run by WorldCon, those fans who buy supporting memberships can vote. Whether those fans are different from mainstream consumers of SFF is another argument, but that the tastes of the hardcore and the mainstream might be different isn’t indicative of past slating in any way.

          You should show your work. Who made these slates from the past 10 years? How were they determined? How large are these slates? Because you can access PDF information of voting totals on the Hugo Awards website you know. It’s public information! If you do look you might notice that each year that the vote totals for most of the categories were all over the place, with many who would be accused of being part of a slate falling below the number of nominations required to get on the ballot. If there is a secret slate their numbers change every year and aren’t very effective.

          So where’s the data supporting that there’s been a hidden slate going on for ten years?

          As part of that public info Puppy voters appears to have different opinions on Wright. Pale Realms of Shade for example only had half the nominations of Big Boys Don’t Cry, and when it came to voting that story ran dead last as few apparently put it in any place on their ballots.

          Did you ever consider things you consider award worthy others don’t? Several of my favorite books get left out every year because tastes differ. Also the first line is ‘It’s not being dead that I minded, it’s the hours.’ You’re right that is a good first line. It was the wife/widow who drank elf juice to forget. He’s a psychic private investigator. Opening scene is his wife trying to convince him to tell the police his death by seven bullet wounds to the chest wasn’t a suicide. That’s not even going into the climax where he forgives his former partner when he realizes the man has changed because he tipped his hat to an old woman.

          You found it award worthy. I didn’t regardless of slates. Many Puppies failed to even list it on their ballots because they either hadn’t read it or didn’t find it award worthy either. So it goes.

          • Lindsey says:

            I often find myself wondering what, if these are the works the Puppy movement considers award-worthy, they didn’t nominate.

      • Thomas Monaghan says:

        So the lady who said at the Sunday WSFS Business meeting that she was one of the organizers of the No Award group was lying?

        • Daveon says:

          If by organizer you mean she wrote a single blog post?

          Personally speaking I didn’t have much trouble voting no award.

          Are the guy who tried to close the business meeting to stop us voting btw? That was a really dick move.

          • Thomas Monaghan says:

            So using parliamentary procedures is bad? I say bringing in people on Sunday who hadn’t voted or showed up the first 3 days of the Business meetings isn’t something to be proud of. Especially when you change the voting schedule first thing Sunday so they wouldn’t have to stay long.

            • Books first, food later. says:

              Wow, I didn’t know about that. They…damn. That’s pretty distasteful. I just might have to buy an attending membership for next year, if that’s the kind of shenanigans that went on this year. …on second thought, screw it. They can have their diseased, culturally obsolete and utterly irrelevant institution. I’ll nominate next year, watch them burn it down, and walk away. Best of luck to you though. Maybe you and those like you can save the Hugo’s from the trasheap of history it’s/they’re hurtling towards.
              Be well. =)

  44. Erwin says:

    I suspect that too much is being made of ‘slates’. My recollection of SP (my memory sucks though) is that, in the previous year, the recommendations list was relatively small and complaints were made about LC trying to select award winners (concentration of votes on a single nominee). So, the next year, SP upped the number of nominees and also got a fair number more voters… And RP sprang up… And SP seemed a bit taken aback. I would also be amazed, to the point of wagering a quarter, to not find substantial evidence of block voting influencing the nomination process besides SP. [shiny quarter, all you need to do is tell me how to access some suitably anonymous record of the last few years of Hugo nominations] I’d also suspect that SP, at least, was substantially non-slate-like. [The missing element is that, for less popular categories, having 30% of SP+RP vote a slate would probably dominate the category.

    I personally put the the nominations debacle down to mild incompetence mixed with passive-aggression, along with a nominations system where I could probably get a Hugo nomination by getting my immediate family to attend WorldCon and vote for me.

    Given that large slates are the future of the Hugos (even if the puppies disappeared, authors are ingenious)- the e pluribus hugo voting system is probably necessary and seems reasonable. Long-term, I suspect it will result in a broader range of nominated works – simply because a large group of correlated tastes will matter less. This is good for the puppies – because I suspect that more popular works will be nominated. That said, assuming that the puppies were only modestly slate-like, I’d expect that the voting system change will be only modestly effective.

    If people proceed on the notion that there are a fair number of crazies everywhere and simply engage with people who are open to being constructive under the assumption that everyone involved cares deeply about SF&F and is mostly reasonable – it would be possible to make the Hugos more relevant. The Saga award is a good idea. Did it happen? So is the voting change. Beyond that, incorporating a bigger voting public would result in Hugo awards that better reflected my tastes…:)

    And, for the puppies, believing in a conspiracy is just silly. Consider the results of one study…’He found that mental illness occurred more frequently in this group than it did in the general population. Specifically, 60 percent of the composers had psychological problems, as did 73 percent of the visual artists, 74 percent of the playwrights, 77 percent of the novelists and short-story writers, and 87 percent of the poets. But only about 20 percent of scientists, politicians, architects, and business people had even mild mental illness.’

    A GROUP OF WRITERS AND FANS IS NOT CAPABLE OF MAINTAINING A CONSPIRACY. BEING STABLE ENOUGH TO FUNCTION UNASSISTED IS A REAL ACCOMPLISHMENT. WRITING BOOKS IS A BONUS. CONSPIRACY?? YOU’D DO BETTER INTERROGATING MY CAT. SNEAKY BASTARD.

    No offence meant to the writers among you. The whole rather disgraceful Hugo display is more simply attributed to mobbish reactions among a left-leaning group.

    That said, there really are enough left-leaning people warning other people to shun the books of authors with conservative views in a rather exaggerated fashion to make perceptions of threat and conspiracy quite reasonable. I blame the internet. (And really, Card and Wright and Correria were first brought to my attention as people I shouldn’t read.) (Correria I ended up liking, Wright seems uneven to me, and Card just isn’t my thing.)

    • David Lang says:

      It doesn’t take an active conspiracy, it just take falling into groupthink “I’m smart, I hold these views, therefor everyone who is smart will hold the same views, therefor anyone who doesn’t hold the same views must be an idiot”

      you see this happening all the time when communities get too small (not just Fandom, but think of the attitudes from graduates of some very big name schools, or employees of high profile companies)

      It’s exactly those mobbish reactions amoung a left-leaning group that are what is being referred to

    • ahd says:

      My favourite term for this kind of behaviour is prospiracy.

      Prospiracies do not need a core of competent conspirators, because they are held together by shared beliefs and values, and they don’t necessarily have a coherent origin story as a group, because they aren’t a group.

      But to the poor bastards being mobbed by Social Fiction Warriors, the gross result is to a first approximation the same as being mobbed by a large coordinated group, so it’s easy to understand why their victims would want to believe there must be a clique of conspirators in there somewhere.

      The standard countermove to a conspiracy is to locate and neutralise the conspirators. Boom, headshot, beers all around and go home triumphant.

      The standard countermove to a prospiracy is to drown the true believers out with an order of magnitude more participants who do not share their beliefs. Much harder and more tedious work, but more permanent. It’s hard to still believe you’re the True and Righteous and Justified if everywhere around you are successful counterexamples, busily ignoring your creed, after all. And especially if all of these unbelievers get to vote, too. (:

      So, give this a decade, and it’ll equilibrate into something less toxic, with the toxic elements marginalised by a vastly broader base of interested fans, or at least caught at a fatal mental disadvantage and outcompeted commercially. Think of it as evolution in action.

      As someone in the opposite hemisphere from most of the ugliness, I just wish one of my favourite novels hadn’t been collateral damage in this recent North American screaming match. (Here’s hoping Best Saga gets up.)

      So, has anybody else spotted the vulnerability in the new nominating rules?

  45. EliK says:

    Eric
    maybe I didn’t make myself clear in my last post. I don’t care if the author, or protagonist, is male, female or Klingon, as long as the story is well written. I don’t care about the authors political views, as long as the story is well written. I do care about people pushing their political views, at the expense of the story, because then it’s not well written. It’s my belief and been my experience that the people who do that tend more towards the left end of the political spectrum. So, just picking numbers out of the air, if pulling a random book off the shelves of a bookstore will give me a 50% chance of reading a good book and 50% garbage, a book with a female author and a female protagonist has a 5% more likelihood of someone trying to make a political statement at the expense of the story. If you, or anyone else I knew, recommended such a book, I’d read it. (you have noticed that some of my favorite authors are women with female protagonists) But when picking a random book off the shelves I want to maximize my chances of finding something good. And the way I see it, such a book is 5% less likely than any other random book. That’s what I mean by poisoning the well.

    • Eric Flint says:

      Well, my experience has been the exact opposite. I find that conservative authors — including ones I like, and even one I co-author books with — are far more prone to shoving their politics into their novels than authors on the left are. Let’s take, for example, John Ringo’s Black Tide Rising series. For the record, I enjoyed the series as a whole and I wrote a story for the upcoming anthology based in it. But the ending of the series can only be described as right-wing prejudice and stereotypes run amok. The villain is an ultra-liberal Secretary of Education whose bleeding-heart politically-correct silliness threatens disaster. Never mind that, in the real world, Secretaries of Education are really creatures of the corporate establishment, which is as true of Democratic administrations as Republican ones. Obama’s Secretary of Defense, for instance, is Arne Duncan. He is despised by the teachers’ unions, especially those in Chicago where he came from. I’m not guessing about that, by the way. My daughter and son-in-law are both public school teachers in Chicago’s school system. My daughter’s opinion is that Obama’s “Race to the Top” is even worse than George Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” program, when it comes to injecting politics into education on behalf of corporations and the super-rich. It’s not by accident that the so-called “school reform” movement is financed mostly by billionaires, a number of whom are the owners of private charter school systems.

      But what makes Ringo’s portrait absolutely laughable is that in addition to everything else, his idiot liberal Secretary of Defense CAN’T SPELL — ha ha ha — AND HAS TERRIBLE GRAMMAR — oh the righties are still laughing about it.

      And Ringo’s zombie apocalypse series is free of politics compared to some of his other work. His novel THE LAST CENTURION is essentially a right wing diatribe from beginning to end. You would be hard-pressed to find anything equivalent on the left.

      Tom Kratman’s novels are full of right wing politics. And even David Weber, who is usually much more balanced than writers like Ringo and Kratman, has had his hissy-fit moments. The portrait of the liberal Pavel Young in the earlier Harrington novels is a silly right wing caricature. Young has EVERY vice known to man and absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Being fair to Weber, as the series progressed he moved away from stereotypes and his portraits of people of all political stripes have become much more complex and — much as I hate the word, it fits — nuanced.

      Then there’s L. Neil Smith and a host of SF authors who call themselves libertarians, who generally tend toward the right and are usually prone to cramming their politics into their novels. Not to mention that some — not all, to be sure — of Niven and Pournelle’s novels are full of heavy-handed conservative “messaging.”

      But here’s the thing. I don’t get all bent out of shape about this. Most of the authors I just named are either friends of mine or people I’m on friendly terms with. I have no problem, if that’s what they want to do, with them filling some of their work with heavy-handed political messaging and diatribes. What _does_ irritate me is listening to Puppies and their supporters whining and complaining when people on the left do the same thing — even when they do it less often and less heavy-handedly.

      • Eric Flint says:

        Oops. Sorry, Duncan is Obama’s Secretary of Education, not his Secretary of Defense.

      • Richard H says:

        It’s funny…

        I used to enjoy John Ringo’s Posleen novels. (although it may have helped that I read a bunch of them on the CDs Baen used to release…)

        Then he started putting author’s notes in them. I was sufficiently oblivious at the time that it took an author’s note explaining the right-wing diatribes for me to go from “Okay, I’ll roll with that, even if I think it’s kind of odd,” to “Holy cow I’m never reading another book again by this guy who thinks I’m literally cancer.”

        I’m not sure if I’m competent to spot a similar left-wing diatribe, though.

      • Thomas Monaghan says:

        You know Eric I really don’t like you bringing one of your fellow Baen author’s books into this discussion. It shows a lack of tact on your part.

      • Books first, food later. says:

        I thought this was satire. “Less heavy handedly”? Really? Sure, whatever you say. Pardon me if this is too boorish, but reading this simultaneously ticked me off and made me wonder if I was reading it right…I thought I had to be hallucinating. God bless. =)

    • Terranovan says:

      What I’m reading in EliK’s post above looks to me like a textbook example of stereotyping. I’m reading in Mr. Flint’s post about John Ringo’s and Tom Kratman’s books and I have to say, he’s right about the amount of politics in them. I can still enjoy the Posleen War series, even the ones cowritten with Mr. Kratman, despite it. I can read but not enjoy The Last Centurion. It turns me off for what little I’ve started for the Paladin of Shadows series and Mr. Kratman’s solo work.
      This written in light of me being enough of a conservative/Republican/right-winger (call me what you will) to vote Republican and feel hurt when someone compares the anti-abortion lobby to rapists.

  46. I don’t see the problem if the Hugo awards represent what Worldcon members like, rather than representing what fandom as a whole prefers. There are lots of awards – the Nebulas, the Prometheus, the Tiptree – and none of them represent all of fandom. Frankly, it’s not possible for any one award to represent all of anything as huge and diffuse as “fandom.”

    But if the legitimacy of awards is based on popularity – and I know that’s not what Eric is saying – then I have to ask: Have any sf short stories of the last 20 years been as widely read as Swirsky’s “If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love”? “Dinosaur,” which long before it was targeted by the puppies was linked to by mega-popular websites like Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish, has had hundreds of thousands of pageviews.

    • Nobody says:

      And thousands and thousands of people have watched Birdemic, but nobody outside the director thinks it’s a good movie. Just because a bunch of people stopped to watch a trainwreck doesn’t mean is a good thing.

      I’m one of those thousands who read Dinosaur. Because I wanted to see if it was as awful as everyone said it was. It was worse.

      • David Lang says:

        The key isn’t the number of people who read it, but rather the number of people who will re-read it years later.

        Someone on the Baen Bar posted some things Eric posted back in 2007 about the number of authors who routinely have a 4′ length of shelf in the bookstores dedicated to their books. Someone may get that for a few weeks with a highly pushed title that the bookstore got lots of copies of. But if they are going to maintain that sort of presence across many months (let alone years) you have authors that you must take seriously.

  47. Bret Hooper says:

    You all might ought to read Moral Politics, by the cognitive scientist George Lakoff. He has found that a person’s understanding of what s/he reads or listens to is strongly influenced by that person’s frames, and that the frame systems of progressives and conservatives differ significantly, which is, I suspect, why so many of the participants in this discussion tend to impute unworthy motives in those on the other side.

    We would all do well to consider carefully how our expressions of opinion may, contrary to our intention, seem hostile to those of opposite political opinion, and vice versa whether we are reading unintended hostility into their opinions.

    There are lessons for all of us in Suzette Haden Elgin’s How to Disagree Without Being Disagreeable.

    • Books first, food later. says:

      I can’t really disagree in any substantial way with this comment. Talking past each other is unquestionably a common feature of this (and other) squabbles. I’ll take a look at those books. Be well. :-)

  48. Cat Rambo says:

    Thanks for a thoughtful analysis. Empathy and a realization that it’s not two sides but rather a lot of different viewpoints seem crucial to moving us forward. And yes! on the Elgin recommendation just above. I was just trying to find my copy of Peacetalk 101 to what sorts of useful stuff it has in it.

    I enjoyed talking with you at Worldcon and hope to spend more time doing so at future cons.

  49. Caitlin says:

    Eric-thank you for an interesting analysis. I don’t personally have an opinion on the Hugo awards (certainly not an informed one), but I appreciate an attempt to come up with a more objective way of describing the conflict. I like reading discussions sometimes, so I made an attempt to read this one, but the posts are often very long. I’m wondering if you have ever considered a word limit for posts?

  50. David Lang says:

    someone commented that we notice the message more when we don’t agree with it. I think there’s a lot of truth to this.

    If the puppies point at nominated books that they say are too message heavy on the left, and others are able to point at other nominated books and say they are too message heavy on the right, there can be a reasonable balance.

    when one side points at a lot of such books on the nomination lists, and the other side can’t counter, then the nomination lists aren’t balanced.

    This isn’t something that needs to be even in any one year/category, but if it persists over years then it can be an indication of problems.

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