The Genie Is Out Of The Bottle

Throughout the Hugo fracas something has stood out proud and loud as my son would say. There are a number of authors, and not just those who were supported by Sad Puppies 3 and Rabid Puppies but others as well, who are basically standing up and speaking out against the vitriol that is coming from some corners of traditional publishing. They have cast off the yolk of fear (all yellow and runny and who wants to have that all over you?) they had worn for so long and are supporting one simple belief: the Hugos should go to the best book (or novella or novelette or short story) and not just to the most politically or socially correct one. They remind us of the fact that the story has to be good before the reader will 1) buy the book and 2) actually read it. If we don’t pull the reader in with our plot and characters, it doesn’t matter how important the message is. It won’t be read because the book won’t be read.

They are standing up and speaking out against the calls for No Award to be voted ahead of anyone the self-appointed guardians of SF/F-dom view to be from the wrong side of the tracks. They are telling those who would listen to read the nominees first and then vote based on what is the best. If, and only if, after reading the nominees you don’t feel something is worthy of the Hugo, then vote No Award.

Bravo to those brave authors for recognizing one very real truth: if they vote No Award ahead of any nominee supported by SP3 or RP, they will be the ones to break the Hugo, possibly beyond all hope of repair.

But there is something else they need to understand. They have stirred a hornet’s nest the last few years between what has happened with SFWA and with the way they have responded to this year’s Hugo nominees. That nest consists of more than just authors who don’t belong with the “in-crowd:. It consists of fans, many of them lifelong fans of science fiction and fantasy in all its forms. Some are old but many more are young, something fandom desperately needs. How many years have we been lamenting the graying of fandom?

They look at things like how Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg were treated regarding the SFWA Bulletin. They wonder why, instead of trying to deal with the issue in-house, SFWA decided to take the nuclear approach of firing the editor, as well as canceling not only the column Resnick and Malzberg had written for year but ceasing publication of the Bulletin for months and months. It made SFWA look like that meek little milquetoast who is so afraid of conflict they bend to the will of the first person to raise her voice.

Then they started looking at other things about SFWA and wondered how an organization supposedly looking out for authors could continue to operate as it did. How can an author’s organization be open and even critical of the industry when needed if its members also included agents and editors and publishers? More importantly for so many of us, how come it had continued to side-step the issue of indie publishing? Finally, in 2015, five years (give or take a few months) after Amazon first opened its indie publishing platform and years after RWA made it possible for indies to join as “pros”, SFWA made it possible for indies to join.

Now, going hand-in-hand with the questions about SFWA and how it seems to have become nothing more than an echo chamber for certain authors who don’t want “old white guys” in the field any longer and who seem to think we need to have a tickler list of politically correct/socially correct characters and issues in all of our work, whether the plot requires it or not, we have the Hugo controversy.

Once more we are hearing the “old white guy” argument. But it has variables. There is the “straight, white Mormon guy” accusation, one that brings a smile to my lips because while I may be white (with a very healthy dose of Cherokee), Mormon and a guy I am not. And yes, there were those out there saying the entire SP3 recommended list of nominees was nothing but white males. There are others, you can follow the links in Dave’s wonderful piece yesterday to see just a few. If I do it, I will only get angry again and you really don’t want to make me angry.

So, now we have a bunch of anti-puppy folks running around doing their best to make sure they 1) get as many of the “wrong sort” of nominees kicked off the ballot and 2) find a way to prevent puppy lovers everywhere from ever encroaching on their award in the future.

Yes, their award. Funny how those who claim to be all in favor of inclusivity are the ones fighting to keep people not only off the ballot but from voting. We have been told we aren’t the right sort of fans to vote for the Hugos because we don’t go to WorldCon each and every year. We have been told that it isn’t our award because we aren’t real fans because we haven’t done all the “right” sort of activities. We’ve been told that we aren’t real fans just because we read and love science fiction and fantasy. So, to keep the riff-raff out, they have told us to go start our own award. They’ve talked about trying to amend the Hugo rules to limit voting for the Hugo to only those people who buy an attending membership (which is highly ironic after one of the most vocal critics of SP3 said that we were being mean and all when it was suggested that if they didn’t like what happened, they should buy a supporting membership and vote. We were treated to a lecture about how folks can’t afford the $40 – $50 for a supporting membership. Now this same side wants to make it even more difficult for folks to be able to afford to vote.)

Now word has come out that two nominees have been disqualified and removed from the ballot. One is John C. Wright’s novelette, “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus.” Apparently, it was published in whole on Wright’s website in 2013. That appears to count as publication now — and I will admit that this doesn’t surprise me. It has been an issue writers have had to deal with since the start of the internet. Traditional publishers almost always want first publication rights. There have been times that posting even a snippet of a work has been deemed as “publication”. The fact that this particular story first appeared online in 2013, outside of the timeframe for this year’s Hugos, appears to be enough to knock it out. So, this is fair warning to all authors out there — if you want to go for the Hugo, make sure you don’t “publish” anything online.

What I don’t know is what is considered “publication”. A quick search of the Hugo site didn’t come up with an definitive definition. It might be there and I missed it. As I said, it was a very quick search.

The other DQ comes in the artist category. Jon Eno did not have anything eligible and has also been removed from the ballot.

So, here’s the bottom line. No matter what others say, those of us who have been associated with SP3 want something very simple where the Hugos are concerned: we want them to given to the best book. That means we want story to be as important, if not more so, than the message. We want them to go to books people want to read. We want to get away from this elitist attitude that only the right sort of people ought to be able to vote on them.

In other words, if you are truly in favor of inclusivity, why are you trying to keep out a large number of people who are loyal, true fans of the genre? Do you really think they will forget the slams you have aimed at them and authors they like? Believe me, they have long memories and the genie of knowing they can have a say in the Hugo is out of the bottle. You can try to put it back in but it will backfire on you.

95 Comments

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95 responses to “The Genie Is Out Of The Bottle

  1. Christopher M. Chupik

    Old white guys? Like George R R Martin, you mean? 😉

    • Now why ever would you think that?

      • Isn’t Scalzi rather pale also?

        • Lhasadog

          You will find that it is your “priviledged old white guys” that they will take issue with, regardless of actual age, color, ethnic identity, sex, or planet of origin.

          Their white guys are all perfectly ok as they understand that they come from special privilege or some such nonsense. The Gamergaters started looking into this dis congruity and quickly came to the realization that the bulk of those leading the SJW Oppresion Olympics are rich white trust fund babies. Make of that what you will.

        • tocoons

          Scalzi has been quoted to me expressing the opinion that white males have life on the lowest difficulty setting. Rather than persuading me, it makes me wonder just how much he really knows about difficulty settings.

          • Well, as Mary Catelli points out, a fair portion of Europe didn’t use to count as “white” in the US. Irish, Italians, Slavs, Jews, sometimes even French people — were just not white enough to be white! (Pretty much white = Protestant speaking a Germanic language.) Although honestly, you weren’t that much better off if you were German or Scandinavian, because they were all wrong also.

            So technically, Scalzi’s ancestors were probably all considered not-white, even though now the community race/racist standards would consider him white.

            • The French one might be a mish-mash of English to-do coming over via media and how an awful lot of “French” guys were that because great granddad was a fur trapper who married into the locals. I wouldn’t be surprised if we kept getting the ornery folks from French Canada, too. 😀

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                What is now denounced as a racial hatred of the French for their drunkenness, immorality, and lack of civilized ways was actually a dislike for the illegal and immoral occupation of Trans-Alpine Gaul by the Francs.

                Seriously, the French fur traders had a tendency to side with certain Indian tribes in wars with settlers affiliated with the English colonies. A history of bloodletting always builds a lasting friendship between peoples.

  2. Nathan

    One of my non-Puppy headaches in all this has been nomination criteria. The Martian and Wright’s piece weren’t eligible, but Scalzi’s Old Man’s War, in the past , was, for similar reasons. The Intergalactic Medicine Show declined a nomination because it was for the wrong category. Why does Writing Excuses’ podcast count as Related Work when Sci Phi Show is a fancast? Ms. Kowal had a work removed from eligibility a year or so ago in the short forms because it was an audiobook and not a written work.

    I’m not claiming conspiracy. But what seems like it will go unnoticed in the baying is that someone really needs to take a look at the nomination criteria for clarity.

    • I agree with you. There may be a very detailed explanation of what is and is not eligible, just as there might be a detailed definition of what “published” is. But it isn’t easily or quickly found by the average person. Hence, issues like with MRK’s work and with John’s story this year.

      • Draven

        Or, there may be a vague description of what is eligible and how much of a work must be revised before it counts and a different publication, just enough wiggle room for them to include one thing and exclude another.

    • Tully

      It’s not nominations criteria, it’s flat-out eligibility for the award. And that’s been muddy because we’re in a changing technological landscape. The ground is shifting faster than the rules can keep pace.

      I do not know how the eligibility of Scalzi’s book was assessed in 2006. It may have been extensively revised, or it may not have been considered a significant appearance at the time, or it may just have slipped by. I do know that the clause in the “plain English” set of criteria that made it explicit that e-pub was eligible was not inserted until 2009, three years later.

      The Martian was e-pubbed by Weir in 2011 and sold over 35,000 downloads before Crown Publishers picked it up in 2013. Clearly not eligible. Sad, as I wanted to nominate it but knew it was not eligible.

      The rules do not say “published” because, believe it or not, the legal definition of that word is still unsettled. So the rules use “appeared” instead. John Wright’s work was removed from the ballot because the date it originally appeared on the internet (12/23/2013) escaped the notice of the vetters. It was pointed out to them after the ballot was released, and they verified that, so it’s not eligible and was removed.

      The vetters are few and for obvious reasons work quietly, but they are human and do miss stuff. And when something does get missed, the Giant Doublecheck Army of Fandom finds it. The Hugo admins reviewed and publicly owned up to their oversight. If only the critics out there (or any fraction thereof) would or could be so willing to own up to their own errors in public.

  3. No, because GRRM is made an honorary gay black woman by benefit of Rightthink ™ and Goodspeech (R).

  4. I can sum up the problem in on line.
    >They’ll damn well read what’s good for them.<
    Change read to eat/ drive/ buy/ etc. Same mentality.
    People are too stupid to make their own choices so our vastly superior friends will fix our bad choices for us. And you don't even appreciate their hard work.

  5. Typospotter

    “yolk” of fear? From the eggs of the Great Horrible Chicken of Terror?

    (i think you mean “yoke of fear”).

  6. tocoons

    Nitpicky, but throwing of a yolk of fear brings up some very odd and distracting mental images. Typically, it’s a yoke.

  7. Anachronda

    “yolk of fear”

    Not sure whether typo or horrible, horrible pun. In either case, it would be a good name for a band.

  8. Mark in Mayenne

    Yoke

    • Nope, I meant it as yolk — see the note I added and my earlier comments. I have an odd sense of humor and I admit it, but I liked the image it brought to me in the pre-coffee hours when I wrote it. Shrug.

  9. Murgy

    Sadly, it appears that joke was scrambled. Not eggsactly what you wanted. Better to just white it out. I’m shell shocked. Color me gone. 🙂

  10. tocoons

    What I’ve been reading in the comments by some of those on the SJW side of the fluffle is what I call the affirmative action theory of literary merit: That is, because women, blacks, gays, the poor, etc. have been so marginalized and disrespected by society, that their work and their views deserve special merit and extra points.

    No. If your situation in life has given you unique and valuable insight into the human condition, then let it show in what you create. If you do not have the talent or the will or the craft to turn your life experience into powerful and moving words, no one can give it to you. If you do have those, nothing can stop you.

    • Well said and that is exactly how I feel. Having fulfilled some artificial tickler list won’t make a story good if the basic bones aren’t there.

  11. bkc1066

    Very good piece. Thanks and keep it punny, more yolks!

  12. Reality Observer

    Hmmm. Reading the rules (specifically, Article 3).

    I think the Wright piece elimination is arguable. Unless they want to read something there that differentiates between sharing a new story with a dozen friends by emailing it (clearly not “publishing”) and sharing with a few hundred friends (or however many visitors his web site gets). In any case – every dictionary definition of “publication” (for a work, not something like, say, the latest unemployment report) that I have seen includes the words “for *sale*.” The rules are very careful to distinguish between categories by whether they are (theoretically, at least) works done for profit or not.

    I don’t know what went on with the Kowal work. Was it nominated as a short story or novella? If so, then it would reasonably have been in the wrong category (same reason as IMS). An audio book really does have to be viewed as a “dramatic presentation.” (Short or long form, as appropriate, by running time.)

    Anywhoo – I think the next battleground will inevitably be the business meeting. First, to keep the process open, not slam the door in the faces of 99% of the actual fan base. Second, to get these darned rules modernized and cleaned up for the modern environment in which we move (either as authors and/or as “fans”).

    • It would seem that audiobooks should have their own category, while radio plays, movies, and TV shows are dramatic presentations.

      • Nathan

        If a category can reasonably be argued to include audiobooks, movies, and video games, it might be time to divide the category. Right now, Dramatic Presentation covers all three.

    • Each year, it seems the rules may change. We have to keep in mind what happened in the previous two business meetings. Oh well, this is water under the bridge now but a call that we need to pay more attention not only to the rules as written but to the upcoming as well as the proposed changes.

  13. piotr1600

    I don’t care much about what an author’s personal views are WRT politics, religion and all the rest of my mother’s “Don’t discuss in polite company” list. That’s generally their chosen burden, and if it makes them happy, well then cool, more power to them.
    All I ask is that an author write a good, gripping story, with characters I care about, and I’m happy to fling money at them repeatedly: they provide entertainment value, and I will happily support that.

    I do enjoy good (that is funny/witty *to me*) snark & humor in both writing and interactions, be they on-line or in person. So I have a whole host of authors I follow on Faceplant who amuse me with their antics and commentary.
    Some, do occasionally cross the line, but only ever in response to other deliberate provocations – they (pardon the expression) “don’t start shit, but they’re happy to finish it.”

    OTOH, I see no reason whatsoever to buy/read books or support anyone whose personal *behavior* is consistently well & truly ugly, or morally reprehensible to me personally (i.e. support for kiddie diddlers a la Delaney), or people who, without knowing me at all, *in any way*, point their fingers and declare me – old, white & male – in no uncertain terms, to be the enemy.
    Nor am I interested in supporting those whose exclusionary vision is that I am no real fan and that I don’t belong or deserve a voice because I don’t go to the right cons.
    (Cue Thurston Howell mumbling sotto voice to Mrs. Howell something about “Well lovey, he is a Yale man after all.”)

    This past week and a bit I have seen some very classy responses in both the pro- and anti- SP camps. That’s all to the good, and I both have and will continue to support those authors.
    I have also seen some simply disgusting behaviors in both camps, but BY FAR most of the truly nasty crap has come from the anti-SP side.

    What do we do to make things better? Well, I don’t have any workable solutions to this seriously complicated facet of our (US) cultural divide – other than to continue to keep buying stories from those who do entertain me and who don’t behave in ways that I find counter to my interests and goals.

    • Well said. We are at the point where tempers and more are running high. It is time to step back and take a deep breath. I have been trying to do that but there are times when I just have t respond. I try to do it in a calm and well thought out way but I know I don’t always succeed.

      As for an author’s politics, etc., like you, I really don’t care. It is the story that matters. But there are some authors I have met who have been such asses or who have done such heinous things in their lives that I simply can’t look beyond it. Such things usually come down to abusing a child or a similar crime. That is on my “oh hell no” list.

  14. Apparently the SJW’s are going after the nominees in Amazon Reviews now too.

    • I have seen references to calls for that sort of action and, if they do, it too will backfire on them. Still, I will admit that I’ve been checking my reviews on a regular basis.

    • Uncle Lar

      Anyone is entitled to their own opinion about the quality of a work offered to the public. But if a pattern of consistently bad reviews especially if based on slanderous remarks about the author rather than their work can be demonstrated, I think a credible case could be made for cyber bullying. At a minimum I suspect Amazon would consider it a misuse of their system and a violation of their terms of use.

      • I agree. I may not like negative reviews but if they are based on the work and not on my stance on any particular issue, I won’t bat an eye (well, I will but I will do it in private). But if I think I can see a pattern, I am going to look into it and, with proof, will take it to Amazon.

        • Uncle Lar

          As I recall Sarah has at least a couple of lawyer friends. Couldn’t hurt to get their take on this.

      • You see it all the time. Just take a look at say, Rush Limbaugh’s Youth fiction books. Not a lot of Verified Purchases among the frothing at the mouth 1-stars.

  15. Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
    The Problem the CHORF’s have is that over the last few years they made some of us realize that we care about SF and it’s future.

  16. Evevlyn

    Organise your own award instead of wasting energy on trying to fix that which is broken by design.

    Even if you get a space in the HUGO, you will never be welcome, but always under fire.

    There are enough of you with popular blogs, you can start right now and use the current attention to promote it.

    And going by the amount of people who feel excluded by the ‘diversity club’ it will be a success.

    At least you’ll get to talk about books you enjoy instead of people you don’t like.

    And the people like me will get a list of fun books to read instead of having to wade through so much rubbish before we find something readable!

    • Why should we organize our own award when the Hugos are supposed to recognize the “best” in the field? We aren’t the ones telling anyone not to read something. In fact, we are the ones encouraging everyone to read what is on the ballot — this year and in years forward.

      Tell me this, when did the Hugo become “your” award? And why should any of us accept your premise that the Hugo process is broken by design?

      I think what bothers me the most is that you seem to be dismissing out of hand any book that doesn’t fit into your self-named “diversity club” as not being fun. If it is a fun book, I want to read it. I don’t give a flip about the politics of the author or anything else — as long as that author isn’t trying to beat me over the head with a message that takes precedence over plot and character development.

    • “Even if you get a space in the HUGO, you will never be welcome, but always under fire.”

              Hah!

              As GRRM let slip, the present situation began in the 1980s, with smofs deliberately restricting reversing the tendency of Worldcons to grow.

              In a few years, we will be the majority.

  17. There seems to be a backlash as well, over in the comics industry. SJWs are over-reaching.

    http://www.bleedingcool.com/2015/04/12/rob-liefeld-responds-to-robbi-roriguez-over-frank-cho-and-j-scott-campbell/
    (more links to follow)

  18. I think you somewhat misrepresent the ongoing discussion about changing the nomination vote system. Very few (if any) have been in favor of limiting the voting to only attending Worldcon members. I’ve seen that possibility brought up once or twice, but in the lengthy Making Light discussion, for example, it was shot down pretty fast. I guess we both agree that it would be unfair and elitist.

    The way I see it, the suggestions that do have some support are 1) limiting the number of nominations one voter can make to four and making the shortlist six items long and 2) going for a voting system that plays down the effect of slates and tactical voting (which means that a small unified voting bloc could get a few works on the ballot, but completely sweeping categories would be harder for them). Neither one of these solutions feel undemocratic or unfair to me.

    • How did I misrepresent it? I said it was one of the options being cast around by those who want to make sure the Hugos are never again “tainted” by the likes of SP3 again.

      I appreciate the non-confrontational tone of your response. I think we have both realized we are going to agree to disagree about the Hugo process this year. Brad never said anyone had to vote as he suggested. In fact, he said that the nominees he listed were those he recommended and would like people to consider, nothing more. I can’t say what Vox told his followers because, to be honest, I don’t follow his blog on a regular basis. What I would like everyone to understand is that those who support SP3 are not mindless drones who didn’t carefully consider Brad’s recommendations before making our own nominations. I for one, and a number of others I know of, actually read the works we nominated ahead of time. We also did not do a “block vote” as we’ve been accused of.

      • When I read your post, limiting the voting rights came across as the main suggestion the other side was considering. It’s true you didn’t say that it was the only solution being discussed or the most likely thing to happen.

        When the exact numbers come out after the vote, we will know how big the SP and RP voting blocs actually were. I’m not claiming that everybody voted the same way exactly and I’m sure a number of people treated Brad’s slate only as a recommendation list (and I have no problem with that). The insanely strong concentration of nominating votes for a small handful of works, though, makes makes one suspect that there was an element of tactical voting in place. Maybe there was a bunch of Rabid Puppy supporters doing it, who knows (their slate was most successful, after all).

        As is, the nominations phase of Hugo vote is very vulnerable to that sort of thing, and 150 voters are all it takes to wipe everything else out from most categories. You can make the case that those 150 voters have the right to vote whatever they like, of course, but I’m sure the other 850 people are not going to be happy about being shut out of the process completely. I think that a voting system that lets 15% of the voters (or 20% or 25%) decide 70% of the shortlist among themselves leaves something to be desired, and I’m in favor of changing it.

        What about you and the other Sad Puppy crowd here? Do you think that it’s ok to adjust the voting system to balance out some of the power of possible voting blocs (it wouldn’t take effect sooner than 2017)?

        Lastly, I’d like to point out that talking about SP3 slate being only “Brad’s rec list” isn’t completely accurate, to my mind. I understand that it was a group effort of sorts, and there were many people making suggestions and a smaller group (Larry Correia and others we’re involved, I think) deciding what gets on the slate.

        I do appreciate the fact that we can disagree without getting confrontational.

        • sanfordbegley

          First off, slate is somewhat inaccurate as slate implies the order to lockstep vote for these items. In the second place the people looking at making changes to the way the voting has been handled have been fairly blunt about it being designed to keep the peasant rabble out of the manor.
          I don’t believe the majority of SP followers wanted to swamp the ballots. A. They were voting to be heard , not drown others out. B. the jubilation heard had a lot to do with shock and awe at being wildly more successful than ever anticipated.
          To imply that the discussion to change the voting is simply to keep any group from dominating the awards process is at least somewhat disingenuous since that is obviously not what the previously in power group wants. I must say that a non-gameable voting process would be welcomed with open arms by the SP side because that was a majority of the push behind SP, too much gaming already going on. I do not believe there are non-gameable systems anywhere.

          • You’re probably right about all voting systems being gameable to some extent. How difficult or easy it should be is another matter.

            To imply that the discussion to change the voting is simply to keep any group from dominating the awards process is at least somewhat disingenuous since that is obviously not what the previously in power group wants.

            Well, depends on how you define the “previously in power group”. I’m fairly sure that nodody has dominated the Hugo ballot to this extent ever before, even though there have probably been different small-time cliques in play for quite some time. Bloggers managed to take over the fanzine category last year with some sort of agreed-upon strategy, for example. Taking over 70% of the ballot is something else, in my opinion, and shows that the system has its flaws.

            • Every system has its flaws. As for the rest of it, as I said, we have to agree to disagree. If you wonder who I’m referring to as the “previously in power group”, perhaps I should have stated the group that thinks it was in control. After all, if you go back to Making Light, you will find posts where we are being told that the Hugos belong to them and that we aren’t real fans. Sort of makes my point. Now, I have work to do. I’ll check back in later. But I think at this point to simply say we have our own opinions and, while we may not agree with one another, we should respect them.

            • sanfordbegley

              At least you are willing to admit that there has been some gaming, and being good at what you do is a very American attitude. Funny, the gaming would not have been so wildly successful had the TRUEFEN WHO HAVE TO PROTECT THE WORLD AGAINST MEN AND HETEROSEXUALS been at least a little reasonable. The dinosaur story was the final slap in the face I think.

        • Fair enough. As for your question about changing the rules, I have problems any time someone starts screaming to change rules after only one cycle of events happening that they don’t like. Perhaps it is because too many people have accused us of lying and cheating. No, I’m not saying you have. However, the fact that any rule changes effectively takes two years, helps alleviate some of that concern.

          The change I would like to see made is to do away with the Australian rules on the final ballot. If this is truly a popularity contest — and that is what it is and always will be as long as anyone can buy a membership and vote — then let the majority vote rule.

          As for your allegation that the SP3 list wasn’t just Brad’s, sorry, but you are wrong. He may have talked with others to see what they thought were good potential nominees but no one told him what to do. He prepped the recommended list to include those people and works he felt best deserved to win a Hugo. I’ll also note that if you look at the SP3 recommendations, a number of the categories did not have five names/titles listed. In fact, of the 16 categories, 10 of them did not have 5 recommendations. One had only one recommendation and five had three and four recommendations respectively.

          So, I guess we will continue to agree to disagree and go on.

          • However, the fact that any rule changes effectively takes two years, helps alleviate some of that concern.

            WSFS being a quite conservative organization, it’s also possible that the proposed rule changes are not going to pass. We’ll see.

            The change I would like to see made is to do away with the Australian rules on the final ballot.

            If you’re an attending Worldcon member, I think you can suggest that. The reason I like Australian voting is that you don’t have to think strategically to maximize the impact of your vote. I mean that if this was a straight vote (without the transferable part), it would be worthwhile to only vote for works that have a real chance of winning (and not for some more obscure stuff that you love).

            As for your allegation that the SP3 list wasn’t just Brad’s, sorry, but you are wrong.

            Are you sure that is the case? I just read somebody’s blog that was quoting Larry Correia who wrote (when introducing the slate): “Now that the registrations for memberships to nominate for the Hugo are closed, here is what the Evil League of Evil authors came up with in discussion. Here is the list, and I’ll talk about the philosophy/strategy below.” I don’t claim to have any inside information on how they did what they did, but this blog post and others like it have left me under the impression that this is a group effort.

            So, I guess we will continue to agree to disagree and go on.

            Let’s do that. Good luck!

          • Alpheus

            “I have problems any time someone starts screaming to change rules after only one cycle of events happening that they don’t like.”

            It should be kept in mind that such efforts can backfire, too, in unexpected ways. The best example of this is in my memory is the way that Massachusetts fills vacant Senator seats. Democrats knew that Ted Kennedy was going to pass away soon, and they didn’t like the idea of a Republican Governor (Mitt Romney) appointing a replacement…so they decided to change it to a popular vote instead. By the time Kennedy passed away, though, they had a Democrat governor, and a Republican (Scott Brown) managed to get himself elected to the position.

            Regardless, I also find it distasteful when people want to change the rules because the rules permitted a result they didn’t like (unless it’s clear that the rules are broken); I particularly don’t like it when someone wants to change the rules one year, because it allowed for something they didn’t like…and then, in another year, are crossing their fingers for a result they liked, that would be the result of the very quirks they were complaining about last time! (The example of this is Bush vs Gore — Gore won the popular vote, and later Bush vs Kerry — Kerry hoped to get Ohio and hence the Presidency, even though he had already lost the popular vote.)

            One change I would like to see is that perhaps nominations should be opened up to works published in the last ten years, as opposed to just one or two: this would allow a given work to build up momentum in recognition, if it starts out obscure; and it would give deserving works more than just one or two chances to win the award.

            (It has always bothered me, for example, that sometimes the Oscar represents the best of excellent movies or performances or whatever one year, and another year, the Oscar represents the least bad of mediocre movies or performances or whatever another year, when even the least of the previous year nomination would have trounced the best of that year!)

        • I got involved because I’ve noticed the decline of quality SF for years. As a long-time Analog and Asimov’s subscriber, each year I’ve been going “Eh.” and resubscribing, hoping that eventually I’d see the fun stuff back.

          I finally gave up on Asimov’s when they published a story about a troop of Girl Scouts that went feral, and ended with a father killing his daughter. This was set in the mid-60s, if I recall correctly, and the only SF/Fantasy element was… Girl Scouts going feral. As a long-time reader of SF and Fantasy, that was when I realized Asimov’s was gone. There was no ‘fun’ in the stories any more – no discovery, no hope for a future that was anything other than humans being a blight on the universe in myriad ways, with the protagonists being damn near destroyed no matter what the outcome of the story.

          So I sent a letter to the editor and even got a reply. Needless to say, it was I who was somewhat misunderstanding the thrust of the issue, and they’re only publishing the stories they get in. I replied that as the editor they can set a tone for what they want submitted, and if they’re getting stuff like the Girl Scout story and deeming it ‘Good SF/Fantasy’ then it may be more an editorial problem than a submission problem.

          Oddly, I didn’t get anything back from that… 😉

          I still subscribe to Analog. Their signal to noise ratio is high enough at present, though I no longer wait eagerly for each issue. With the advent of Amazon and their Kindle Direct program, it’s a lot easier to find SF where the protagonists are allowed to ‘win’ without destroying themselves.

          And frankly, what I see a lot of in the pushback from the anti-SP crowd are authors (like David Gerrold, GRRM, Connie Willis and the like, the old-time giants of the field) who see their ‘fame’ being threatened. They’ve dined on the Con circuit as GOH and the like for years. There’s nothing wrong with that – but they see the top spot, the Hugo Awards as THEIRS, dammit, and they’re not about to share. Those comped rooms and travel won’t happen if they’re not Con-committee favorites – and their fans support them in this. That the state of SF is deteriorating isn’t THEIR concern – they’ve got their awards, their fame, and fans love them. Life is good, they don’t want to see it upset.

          But it’s time to bring in fresh material, fresh people, fresh ideas. And ‘fresh’ isn’t a product of ‘diversity checklists’ – it’s about ideas and writing.

          So I bought a membership this year, and will read the materials sent – and vote according to what I think is ‘best’. And somehow, if I were to delete the author’s name, gender, race, political stance and preferred sex partners, I’d still be able to tell whether a story is any good or not. And if it’s not ‘good’, I won’t consider voting for it.

          The SP movement’s gotten a lot of people involved who are aware of SF deteriorating, but didn’t know how they could change it. I’m glad to be able to speak up and make my voice hear.

        • The insanely strong concentration of nominating votes for a small handful of works, though, makes makes one suspect that there was an element of tactical voting in place. Maybe there was a bunch of Rabid Puppy supporters doing it, who knows (their slate was most successful, after all).

                  I really doubt this.  Go to Chaos Horizons, and look at his data mining of the awards.  In 2014, Sad Puppies 2 produced a range of votes for the ‘slate’ from 183 for Warbound to 33 for “Failsafe.”  No lockstep voting there.  Since the two Puppy ‘slates’ swept the short fiction, related work categories, and editor categories, you can get a good idea of how many Puppy voters there were.  There were huge variances in the number of votes cast for nominees in those categories.  The numbers run from a low of 145 to a high of 368.  Best related work is especially interesting, as that was the only category where Sad Puppies 3 and Rabid Puppies had identical slates.  The variation in nominating votes was 206 to 273.  I’d say it’s fairly obvious that lots of people voting for items on the Puppy lists made up their minds individually.

                  Now let’s look at some other years nominations.  Courtesy of Satan Incarnate, Vox Day, some figures (strikethrough indicates a declined nomination):

          http://voxday.blogspot.com/2015/04/how-do-they-know.html
          http://voxday.blogspot.com/2015/04/their-cunning-plan.html
          http://voxday.blogspot.com/2015/04/on-bloc-voting.html

          2007
          88 Best Editor David G. Hartwell (Tor)
          80 Best Editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden (Tor)
          The next three Best Editor nominees received between 43 and 28 votes.

          2008.
          70 Best Editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden (Tor)
          67 Best Editor David G. Hartwell (Tor)
          43 Best Fan Writer John Scalzi
          41 Best Novel The Last Colony John Scalzi
          40 Best Novel Halting State Charles Stross
          The next three Best Editor nominees received between 18 to 51 votes.

          2009
          87 Best Editor David G. Hartwell (Tor)
          76 Best Editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden (Tor)
          76 Best Novel Saturn’s Children Charles Stross
          54 Best Novel Zoe’s Tale John Scalzi
          The other three Best Editor nominees received 92, 34, and 34 votes.

          2010
          79 Best Novella “The God Engines” John Scalzi
          56 Best Novella “Palimpsest” Charles Stross
          52 Best Short Story “Overtime” Charles Stross
          54 Best Editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden (Tor)
          47 Best Editor David G. Hartwell (Tor)
          The other three Best Editor nominees received 99, 61, and 42 votes.

          2011
          44 Best Editor David G. Hartwell (Tor)
          31 Best Editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden (Tor)

          The other three Best Editor nominees received 96, 54, and 23 votes

          2012
          48 Best Novel Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi
          44 Best Editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden

          2014
          120 Best Novel Neptune’s Brood Charles Stross
          127 Best Novella “Equoid” Charles Stross
          118 Best Novelette “Lady Astronaut of Mars” Mary Kowal

          I’m going to assume everyone here understands the concept of statistical variance. Here are the variances compared for the SP2 nominees, the top vote getter in the eight major categories in 2014, and the suspicious Tor darlings from 2008 to 2013. Can you spot the bloc votes?

          Variance: 1.6 (Tor 2008)
          Variance: 98.6 (Tor 2009)
          Variance: 119.1 (Tor 2010)
          Variance: 4.7 (Tor 2012)
          Variance: 14.9 (Tor 2013)
          Variance: 1493.8 (SP 2013)
          Variance: 3773.9 (SP 2014)

          I do not believe that there was ever a deliberate conspiracy to fill all the slots in every category with a dedicated “slate” of works. There clearly have been campaigns to get individual works on the ballot, some of them going beyond the technically legal.
          – Kevin Standlee, April 2, 2015

          You might be surprised how long small block voting has been going on in Hugo nominations. In fact, I was having a conversation with a former Hugo administrator about it last night. The thing is, it’s usually only in a category or two, and usually either not enough to add a single nominated work, or just enough to add a single nominated work.
          – Deidre Saoirse Moen, April 5, 2015

                  You really think it’s coincidence that the same pairs of names keep showing up with almost the same number of nominations?  If so, I suggest you think some more.

                  The only difference between the last two years and other years is that Larry did what he did out in the open, and he asked for suggestions for all categories, instead of just pimping his own works the way Scalzi and others have done.  But I think it’s obvious that slate voting has been going on for a long time.

                  And check out what both Dave Freer (https://madgeniusclub.com/2015/04/13/nostradumbass-and-madame-bugblatterfatski/) and Will Shetterly (http://shetterly.blogspot.com/2015/04/four-essential-points-about-hugos-and.html) say about log rolling by authors, and bloc voting.  And while I can’t find the reference offhand, someone posted recently that Tor buys around 160 attending memberships for Worldcon for its authors and employees.  A legitimate marketing maneuver, but it would probably influence the ballot, don’t you think?

                  As Mr. Heinlein once said, everything needs to be turned upside down occasionally, it let’s in light and air.  And now that we Puppy Gladeners have done the turning, we can see some very interesting stuff.

  19. And they don’t want us ‘wrongfans’ voting either… we haven’t ‘paid our dues’, whatever the hell that means… I’ve been reading SF for over 50 years… sigh

  20. Over at Making Light they’re trying to figure out ways to use Math and such to prevent future slate voting without making it look obvious that they’re trying to build a system that favors one side over the other.

    I decided to play in that arena a little too, and thus I propose my fix for the Hugo Voting System:
    https://drmauser.wordpress.com/2015/04/16/so-you-want-to-fix-the-hugos/

    • You are evil and we love it. 😉

      Seriously, it amazes me how they do all this plotting and planning in public and don’t think people will figure it out. At least we are learning who are real friends are and who think they can — or should be able to — control us.

      • Draven

        if they attempt the obvious- anything from a public ‘slate’ will be disqualified- I will personally go make sites that have ‘slates’ made up of all their favorite little ideologically correct scribblings

      • I went and started reading but didn’t get too far into it, the math was making my head hurt a bit (And my Dad had a Masters in Math and was one of the earliest computer scientists at MITRE. I did not entirely inherit.) But their criteria in selection methods seems mostly about trying to eliminate “Slates” rather than be fair to the voters. And they sure as hell looked labor intensive and harder to cross-check.