Guest post by Ken Burnside

As people sort through the ashes of last weekend’s Hugo awards ceremony, I wanted to highlight some very good analysis by Hugo nominee Ken Burnside. Note, there is no framing from me. Ken wrote a very astute, very candid piece. You make up your own mind. — Brad

Ken says:

Last week, I went to WorldCon, by way of Seattle and staying overnight with Karen Junker, and spending some time with Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, and Shannon Chavez. Karen was a great host, and Annie Scarborough didn’t remember me from the last time we met – when I was a hyperactive 13 year old and she was visiting all the junior high schools promoting Bronwyn’s Bane. If you like puckish fantasy, her not-quite-YA books are quite good, and I especially recommend the Harem of Aman-Akbar.

We woke up at 5 AM, and piled into the Dodge Caravan, driving our way to Spokane with several breaks to enjoy the scenery and use the facilities…and drive through the smoke in the Cascades. I wish I’d taken more pictures from the van. We kept the conversation moving along with the drive, and made it to Spokane with no incidents.

They checked into the Doubletree, with a stash of food I could raid, and I checked into the Grand, and scouted the convention floor, and set up my demo table. Later that evening, I met Dave Marusek, who, unlike Annie and myself, still lives in Fairbanks – he and I split the hotel room.

Paula Thomas, a local indie-published author, was very kind and acted as my seeing-eye-human. (Visual clutter is amazingly effective versus me, and I’m legally blind, even if I conceal it well. When she found out I left my laptop charger at home, she tried to find me one I could borrow for the convention. Sadly, ASUS isn’t that common a brand.

On Thursday morning, while exercising, I met Tananarive Due in the workout room, and had a good conversation with her. This was good; I was scheduled to run Squadron Strike for her son Jason, and Dan Moran’s son Connor in the gaming hall (Salon V, Doubletree). This meant she had a face to go with the name, and had a certified block of 2 hours where she and Steven Barnes could be adults rather than parents.

Most of the rest of Thursday morning was spent talking to friends (Russ Ault and Lee at the Instant Attitudes booth, talking to the people at Starbase Indy, selling some of the Reagency shirts for Mike Williamson, meeting Tom Gondofi and finding out that Bruce Graw was in town, but not at the con.)

I spent the rest of Thursday manning the Ad Astra Games table in the fan tables area – I got a sweet location. I wish I’d had an assistant or two to share the load with. I went up to the con suite twice to scrounge meals, and Karen made sure to bring by some of the groceries I had stashed.

I did a lot of “Would you like to blow up a chocolate?” to people who hadn’t seen it before. I also sold a lot of copies of Minimus and handed out flyers.

By Thursday evening, the smoke had started to settle into the Spokane valley, and the sky was a really ominous Mordor-orange. The chest cold I brought with me was not liking the smoke at all. I coordinated with Harlan Haskell to get some table space for Friday’s game.

On Thursday, I did three panels – two related to games (both of which had IP attorneys steal the show…) and one on space opera where I couldn’t do my slide deck because I had no laptop charger. Plus I was coughing gunk. A number of people wanting to talk Puppy issues met me at my panel and we cruised a few themed parties, but were pretty tired.

Friday morning, the entire city of Spokane smelled like someone was starting a smoker-pit; there were advisories to NOT go outside if you could avoid it. After an impromptu breakfast with Kurt Busiek of Astro City fame, including a modest amount of fan-boy squeeing on my part, and a really good discussion of story structure and compactness, I braved it anyway with my demo kit in tow, wishing I’d had a face mask.

I did cancel my 4 PM panel appearance because my voice wasn’t going to cut it.

I had lunch with Dan Moran and Amy Stout-Moran and Connor Moran, along with Blaze Ward, Tracy Erickson, Scott Hysmith, and Janna Silverstein. Nice wide ranging discussion about writing, being a professional, the growing lack of gate keepers in indie publication, and why this is a Good Thing, along with epigenetic influences, bad jokes, and how kids always seem to resemble their grandparents more than their parents.

I set up the game on Friday, and had Kendrick Dickens (going from badge name and the fact that Dennis Dickens says he’s his son; I suspect I have the name wrong), Connor Moran and Jason Due-Barnes playing in an Axanar playtest in 2D. In the end, one Klingon disengaged, another did some light damage to Connor’s ship, and was destroyed by my setting up a good shot for Connor. Jason was a little young for the game (11, and a bit of a bag of squirrels) while Connor is damned near the center of my target demo: Young enough to think shoving minis around the map is REALLY COOL, bright and focused enough to see this as a game like chess that he can master if he focuses on it.

Jason left at 3:45 for a social engagement with his parents, Connor was tempted to try to plead his way out of dinner to play more. 🙂 (The golden age of gaming is about 13-14. You hook ’em then and you have a customer for life.)

As I was packing up, I had people show up to ogle the minis, because the ships I’m using (by Charles Oines) are clear cognates of the classic Trek designs but not the classic Trek designs. Which led to more demos and teaching four more people how to play. I could never /quite/ get out of the room, which was a problem, because the doorways nearest the game room kept opening and letting smoke in from outside.

I eventually escaped the game hall after sending a few demo participants to smuggle food to me, and found the Filking room. I sang The Elements and gave a recital of Janus: Sonnet by John M. Ford, dragged the demo kit to my table, found five notes from people wondering if I was OK, went back to the Grand and went to bed. Coughing kept me up until 3 PM local time, and I woke up at 8:30 when my alarm went off.

On Saturday, I manned my demo table in the convention center until 12:30 PM, handed George R.R. Martin a “Castle Friends” shirt (which he didn’t get the joke of!), and had lunch with Karen Junker and Lou Antonelli. I scouted out the theater for the Hugo ceremonies, hung out with Jenn Brozek and her husband for a bit, and then took a shower to cough brown gunk out of my lungs, and a nap.

I went to the Hugo reception and nearly missed my Hugo Nominee Photo Shoot because I didn’t hear the category name when it was called up; fortunately, John C. Wright said they were looking for me. I mingled with a few editors from Tor for a bit, talked to fellow nominees, and enjoyed the hors d’ouvres.

And then the Hugo ceremony happened. I’ll cover the Hugo ceremony, the immediate aftermath and the parties in a separate post.

On Sunday, I had a fair number of people say that they were really sorry that I was in the collateral damage zone of the Puppy smackdown. I had an even larger number of people come up to me to be deliberately rude, saying that they hoped I felt awful for my part in trying to “rig the vote.” For the most part, I said the following:

“I came into this expecting No Award in my category. I’ve gone out of my way to personally congratulate every person who got a Hugo, and to congratulate every person who came in second to political pique. Beyond that, I figure I gained somewhere between one thousand and four thousand new readers, depending on what percentage of the people who voted No Award read the packet.”

Paula Thomas and Tom Gondolfi helped me tear down my table, and we went to several parties after the close of the exhibit hall and the end of the con. Paula dropped me off at the Amtrak station at 1 AM, where I discovered that my ticket was no longer valid (I’m talking to Amtrak about this now, to get a refund), and I spend 42 hours riding coach back to Milwaukee and having low-key conversations with fans.

So . . . .

How the Hugos Crashed
(aka “The Diary of a Self-Deploying Human
Sandbag In The Culture War”)

By: Ken Burnside

Part I: My Experiences

The Puppy imbroglio is about politics overlaying a literary dispute, and like all political actions, it has no winners. Its major casualties are relationships, and the truth.

I signed up for the Sad Puppy list because I was told it was about getting representation for conservative and libertarian leaning storytellers in the Hugo nomination process. The request came in when a book I was published in was in its initial 90-day release window, and it counted as promoting the title. More exposure means more sales, and I was (and always am) looking for new readers.

Plus, I figured that my chances of getting onto the final ballot were somewhere up there with me being named Pope. I largely forgot about it.

The Sad Puppies recommended reading list became the basis of the Rabid Puppies slate. The first pieces describing how the two were indistinguishable came out in early March. While I was published by Vox Day, I was a Sad Puppy, not a Rabid one. One very important difference between the two: Vox said to vote his slate; Brad said “These are highly recommended, worth reading, and if you agree, worth nominating.”

The announcement of the Sad Puppies slate was a mishmash of “Let’s get a certain type of SF represented” which I agree with, and a large charge of “Let’s turn this into a culture-war front.” I agree with the former. I think the latter is profoundly stupid.

I’m going to divert here to a subtle, but important distinction.

A recommended reading list should not be a slate. The Sad Puppy recommended reading list, while not intended to be a slate, effectively turned into one.

A recommended reading list should, in an ideal world, be lightly curated. We don’t live in an ideal world. Locus Magazine puts out the most prestigious recommended reading list in the field, and while Locus makes their recommendations more in accordance to the Nebula guidelines, their influence on the Hugo nomination process is pretty strong.

A recommended reading list should have, at a minimum, twice to three times the number of entries per category as the final ballot for an award. Fewer than this, and you’re packing the slate with what you want, and charges of ideological nominations will fly. Exactly matching the number of entries on the ballot for each category is the definition of a slate.

Brad Torgersen and John Scalzi both use their blogs to solicit recommendations. Scalzi sometimes gives an affirmation on third party recommendations, Torgersen had his commenters vote to consolidate several recommendations down into one list, and then posted that list publicly as the Sad Puppies 3 list. There is a difference between the two methods, and Brad’s way consolidates nominations in a way that (we later learned) had disproportionate impact.

There’s no grand conspiracy here; it’s simply someone expressing a preference.

A slate is a radically different kettle of cats. It’s not “these are worthy of your consideration.,” it’s “Vote for these to piss off group ” Because of how the Hugo nomination process currently works, it’s easy for a slate that gets fewer than 10% of the nominations to write the ballot for a category. The Hugo nomination process is vulnerable to favor-trading and log-rolling. It was possible for books with as few as 60 nominations to make the final ballot four years ago.

In terms of philosophy, Torgersen was hoping to get a handful of nominations on the final ballot, and maybe, just maybe, get Toni Weisskopf a Hugo Award. His goals were modest. Vox Day? Vox Day has wanted to get No Awards dished out in the Hugos since early 2014.

Keep this distinction in mind for what follows.

From March through Easter weekend, when the ballot got announced, things were quiet. I got told that I was an actual finalist, in Best Related Work. I was told to not reveal my nominee status.

Three days before the ballot was released, the editor of Amazing Stories started the campaign for No Award on all the categories that were nominated by Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies. This was the first “high profile” source treating them as interchangeable. This was the first hint that the slates had worked…and was clearly a leak by someone breaking the “please don’t reveal this information” instructions.

The day the ballot was released, I stated (and continued to state through the end of voting).

“Read the works. Vote your conscience. In that order.”

It was abundantly clear that slate voting had a disproportionate effect. Keep in mind that the only person demanding people vote straight slate was Vox Day.

In the four month span between the ballot being made public and the end of voting on July 31st, I got threats of assault if I showed up at WorldCon (none materialized), I got called a racist, homophobic sexist neo-Nazi, and I watched lies and fabrications show up in national media. The Puppies are all racist white men (which is why the nominated slate had seven women in it). I mostly played duck-and-cover; Brad Torgersen was on scapegoat duty.

Those threats of physical assault made up my mind about going to WorldCon. Until then, I figured that going to a convention where I’d lose a Hugo and wouldn’t be able to sell games was…not financially sensible.

I stayed out of discussions on the Hugo Awards after the assault threats. People largely assumed that I was a lock-stepped mouthpiece for Vox Day anyway. If you weren’t the focus of this attention, it was easy to say “Oh, it wasn’t that bad…” It was that bad. It was relentless, with a hit piece coming out roughly once a week from late April to the week before WorldCon.

In late May, I saw Brad apologize for some of his rhetoric about “victim quotas.” It wasn’t much of an apology, but the counter-reaction was as bad. He learned that backtracking from any Puppy statement was worse than keeping his mouth shut. Through June, several outright libelous pieces about Brad were published, corrected, taken down…and repeated in a different venue.

I have had early readers on this tell me I’m being too kind to Torgersen, that he deserved what he had coming.

Prior to the assault threats, I would wade into the discussions trying to be reasonable and calm and correct only errors of fact, and got ripped. I stopped for the sake of my own sanity, and was reminded of the quote that no amount of factual information will convince a person whose self image is threatened by those facts.

Throughout this, the things that made me a Puppy in the first place was buried in a malodorous pile of feces. They were buried by partisans on both sides, not just the Anti-Puppies. In Kary English’s blog, I paraphrased Anita Sarkeesian: “In the game of Hugo Awards, the Puppy nominees aren’t the opposition. They’re the ball.”

Eventually, tired of being browbeaten and told what an awful human being I was, I just retreated to “Read the works. Vote your conscience. In that order.”

I made it to WorldCon (see convention report, above), largely ignored the political infighting by running game demos and stepping out of conversations on Puppy versus Anti-Puppy positions; even the people who presumed I was on “their” side aggravated me..

When people wished me luck, I said that I expected to lose to No Award. I’d been saying that since June.

I went to WorldCon to spend time with authors I rarely get to meet, hang out with friends, demo games, and lose a Hugo in person. Keep in mind, most of my writing is in games, not in SF; I’m unlikely to have another nominated work given my other commitments.

While I was clearly the best fit for the category in Best Related Work (and I wished I could’ve taken another editing pass; the piece was a bit of a rush job for a deadine.) I was certain that “The Hot Equations,” in particular, would have no chance no matter it’s merits. It was nominated by Vox Day, and published by Vox Day.

Kiss. Of. Doom.

Then the Hugo Awards happened.

Part II: The Hugo Awards, the Afterparties and the Aftermath.

On Saturday, I went to the Hugo Award reception. I could tell who “knew me” as a friend and who “knew me” as a Puppy. The former tended to chit-chat. The latter would move to get a fresh drink or a new snack when I walked closer. I’ve been at more awkward receptions in my life, but not many of them.

At the reception, we were handed our Extra Large Hugo Asterisks as nominees. For those not in the literary know, Kurt Vonnegut used the asterisk as an illustration of the anus. So yes, all the nominees got a nice reminder that the awards committee thought they were assholes. Gerrold name-dropped Vonnegut’s name at the reception. Either that, or all the winners were going to be reminded, Roger Maris-like, that they didn’t meet the same standards as prior Hugo winners.

Combined with shunning, my “OK, this is going to be a disaster…” sense was past tingling, into throbbing and really should just be called mordant curiosity. Only after I was seen talking to Tananarive Due did anyone outside the small representation of “Puppies” at the convention consent to talk to me, mostly in the shadows of the reception, where nobody else could see.

I went to the INB Theater, sat in the front row and waited. The long discussion of the Official Hugo Asshole Disks led things off. The Sasquan chair reminded people that “No Award” was an option. David and Tananarive did a lovely job, and covered for a few gaffes from script pages not turning, and tried to keep it fun. I’ve been a master of ceremonies; I’m not going to rag on them for it.

Best Related Works came up. It went to No Award; I expected that. I didn’t expect the loud and raucous cheering, which, frankly, pissed me off.

Then Best Short Story came up. It also went to No Award. The cheering was even louder.

Then Best Editor, Short Form went to No Award and the cheering was deafening. There were several people who said “Fuck this…that’s not right…” when that happened, down in the nominee area. David heard it; he quickly looked over the orchestra pit to see what was going on.

Then Best Editor, Long Form went to No Award, and the cheering made the floor tremble. Several people (myself included) started booing. David said “booing is not appropriate” and I came about a half-second away from standing up and jumping on the stage to grab the mic. Bryan Thomas Schmidt DID get up and curse loudly. Toni Weisskopf apparently never went to the ceremony at all; per Bryan the two of them commiserated for a few hours after the ceremony.

Best Novelette went to an actual winner, best Novella got No Awarded (but with less cheering), and Best Novel got a Hugo. I made a point of personally congratulating all of the Hugo winners when I found them on Sunday.

Words cannot describe how furious I was at the outcome at the time. I sat in the theater after the lights came up. I had a brief conversation with political pundit (and fabricator of the Hugo Asshole Disks) Jim Wright. He agreed with why I was angry: Cheering for No Award (and cheering loudly) was beyond the bounds of acceptable behavior.

For a ceremony that promised to be about inclusion and “we’re all fandom,” having the master of ceremonies feed off the cheering for No Award? That’s very easy to take as hypocrisy of the first order. I’ve also been told, multiple times that SF readers are NOT FANDOM…and that’s part of the problem.

Seeing “No Award” blow out candidates who were clearly meritorious, like Mike Resnick and Toni Weisskopf? With cheers that rattled the rafters and made the floor rumble?

I felt so very included in Fandom then. Really.

I expected “No Award” to take my category (clearly the weakest one) and Novella. I was cold-cocked by Short Story, and both Editor categories.

I grabbed a copy of the vote tally sheet while being confronted by people who were jubilant about the outcomes. I was glad I took the time to sit in a quiet place and calm down before doing so.

I eventually calmed down and went to the two after-parties, the one at Auntie’s bookstore, and then got into the cab going to George R.R. Martin’s Hugo Losers party. At both locations, I made it a point to shake hands with the people who won, to say kind things to them. The conversations I got into in both tended to revolve around What Happens Next (see Part V: Implications.)

I saw George R.R. Martin declare that all Puppies were Rabid at his party, and hoped that his alternate awards wouldn’t be needed in the future. The celebration was one of fandom holding off the barbarians. You know, people like me. I had some fun at the party anyway, talked to people when I could, and got home around 3 AM.

On the ride home, I shared a limo with David Gerrold, and got to hear his account of the Hugo Ceremony. He said he’d been expecting a lot of booing, but when he heard the cheering for the first No Award result, he knew everything was going to “be all right.” He also talked about how, now that the ceremony was over, he could finally lay down the mask of politesse and let people know how he really felt.

I pointed out that I was one of those people who got shellacked by the No Awarding, and that I felt that the cheering was incredibly rude and disrespectful. David, to his credit, listened to me and said that he wanted me to continue writing in the field, and that I should treat the cheering as cheering for the process, not a personal attack.

The car ride ended, I talked to more writers and pros in the lobby of the Grand. No punches were thrown, no people were upset – there was still some jubilation about the smackdown.

On Sunday, I put up with periodic heckling by fans who came to “rub it in.” I replied with variations on this:

“I came into this expecting No Award in my category. I’ve gone out of my way to personally congratulate every person who got a Hugo, and to congratulate every person who came in second to political pique. Beyond that, I figure I gained somewhere between one thousand and four thousand new readers, depending on what percentage of the people who voted No Award read the packet.”

Part III: The Fundamental Literary Divide

In case it’s not clear, my personal position is anti-slate, and strongly in favor of recommended reading lists. I’m not running the Sad Puppies 4 campaign, but I’m hoping their recommended reading list sifting starts soon. I want them to avoid overlooking things like the Three Body Problem. I want that recommended reading list to either put out one or two recommendations per category, or actually be a recommended reading list, and have so many recommendations that it’s ineffective as a slate. I’d guess that 10-15 works per category would suffice, but I don’t know.

There should also be a clear statement of intent – “These are the works we like.” I’d be delighted if there were a de-escalation of the culture-war rhetoric. Make this a positive about the works being recommended, and cut back on the name calling, the talks about political collusion, the cries of character assassination, the attempts at counter-character assassination.

Make this about the works, please. Avoid slate voting and nominations. I’d much rather have one or two very good works in the category make the final ballot than see what happened in 2015.

I will state for the record that every recommended reading list is a filtered list. It reflects the biases of whomever compiled it, whether that’s Sad Puppies, the Baen Barflies, Goodreads rankings, or Locus Magazine.

I am working out the back-end logistics to make a web-accessible database of publication listings from publishers, large and small, to make it easier to find all the works published in a given year. If I can get any traction on this, I’ll make an announcement.

I think, below the political dispute, there is a set of unexamined literary assumptions. Over the last fifteen-ish years, while the makeup of organized fandom hasn’t changed (organized fans have always been homogeneously liberal), the makeup of awards has skewed towards “literary” SF. Literary SF aims more of the story at exploring the human condition, and how people’s lives and ideals have changed. In any story, there’s only a finite amount of word-count, and divvying it up between characterization, plot, exploration of the setting (and establishing the setting’s ground rules) and The Big Idea is part of a writer’s craft.

Literary fiction relies on conveying a change in emotional state and character understanding. It puts a premium on better writing, because of this. Literary fiction, left to its own devices, turns into tone poems about competitive navel gazing; this isn’t mockery of the form–anything in writing taken to an extreme runs into problems.

There’s a sub-genre of SF that I call “The Heroic Engineer Story.” It’s not always about an engineer, and another term for it is “competence porn.” Analog still publishes a lot of it. It’s very much about “put character into a puzzle box, have Act I be about how they realize how screwed they are, have Act II be about making things worse, while getting the key needed to escape the puzzle box at the end of Act III.” While it’s from the pulps, and borrows something from the pulp formula, it’s not really 1950s style pulp writing. In Heroic Engineer Stories, most character details of the protagonist are secondary to “How Does She Solve The Problem?” In Literary SF, the character development is MUCH more important.

A lot of people read Heroic Engineer Stories and project “straight white dude” onto the protagonist, unless the author specifically states they aren’t such. One of the appeals of the Heroic Engineer Story is that it focuses on the universally human fascination of solving problems, along with life-or-death stakes.

For the SF readers who are the target of the Heroic Engineer Story, there’s an intellectual thrill akin to reading a murder mystery in seeing how the problem is solved, and a comforting escapism from emotional nuance. For the readers of the Heroic Engineer Story (and its related subgenres, the Exploration of the Mysterious Yet Logical Thing Story and the Defense Against The Inhuman Aliens By Mighty Pluck And Human Courage Story), the Competent Protagonist who puts aside emotions to Solve The Problem is an aspirational character.

And yes, more of those aspirational characters should be women. David Weber carved one hell of a market niche by doing exactly that.

It is damned difficult to do a literary SF version of The Heroic Engineer Story. There are two I can think of, and both are movies: “Her” and the problematic “Ex Machina,” In both cases, the “human element” is “man falls in love with feminine machine and is creeped out because even Simulated Women Are Mysteeeerious Creatures.” I’d like to see less use of the “Woman As Mysteeeerious Creature” trope, but that’s secondary to saying that writing a Literary Heroic Engineer Story is a difficult juggling act.

For people who write and read literary SF, that Competent Protagonist is as staid and cliched as Horatio Alger. They don’t have any internal conflicts, or any hard decisions to make about emotional issues. All the interesting stuff is external, and the only motives in conflict are in a strictly Manicheist vein. A lot of very good recent SF–notably a good chunk of Charlie Stross’ output–pokes deliberate fun at the Heroic Engineer Story and its subtropes.

Heroic Engineer Stories drive a lot of sales. Nearly every SF author I know who doesn’t need a day job writes an action-adventure series, where the Heroic Engineer/Officer/Competent Protagonist Solves The Problem. They sell, and they sell to a male demographic, often current or recently retired military, and that demographic skews conservative.

You can make an argument that Ringworld or Rendezvous with Rama wouldn’t make the Hugo ballot if published today. One of the reasons why they wouldn’t make the ballot is that the standards for prose smithing have risen since the early 1970s; the general quality of _writing_ in the field has improved noticeably in forty years.

The Heroic Engineer Story has all but vanished from the Hugo awards; this year’s Three Body Problem will be seen as a reversal of that trend. They still show up in the Nebulas. Chuck Gannon’s Caine Riordan series has a protagonist who’s clearly “Chuck Gannon in better shape, and the universe cheats on his behalf.” Both volumes have made the Nebula shortlists. The entire series is pretty pulpy in its premise and protagonist. It’s published by Baen…and large swathes of Baen’s catalog is conspicuous in its absence from the Locus Recommended Reading List.

For what it’s worth, I have a three-fold explanation for why that imbalance exists:

1) WorldCon Fandom (the small sliver of SF fandom that goes to WorldCon) is liberal and fairly insular.
2) Literary SF, as expressed above, is generally better written. All else being equal, truly excellent writing will be the tie breaker.
3) The Baen Invisibility Factor in the existing recommended reading list channels.

There’s no need for a grand conspiracy; I doubt that organized Fandom could keep a secret conspiracy secret for two weeks. The idea that they could do so for fifteen years? I read SF, I’ve got a good imagination, but…no.

Addressing this imbalance is why I became a “Puppy.”

What happened instead? The Hugos became a front in the culture war. Brad Torgersen’s posts at the very beginning about “victim class check box fiction” destroyed any rapport with people who weren’t already in his camp. Other comments made by Torgersen kept the same divisive tone. Vox Day’s posts on the subject started at inflammatory and went up from there. His business model is built off of it.

Both were using the tactic of “say something outrageous, wait for the ‘other side’ to get pissed off, and turn to the choir to say ‘see, I told you they’d over-react.” When trying to build a roster of voters nominating literary works, this sure as hell doesn’t convince people that your side has any merit.

Conducting literary criticism via the rhetoric of culture war is profoundly stupid if you want your complaints listened to. The counter-reaction to the Puppies was justifiable, predictable, and seems to have fed into a considerable media campaign, one that Torgersen had to threaten libel lawsuits to tone down.

The actual Puppy “grievance” is that the WorldCon fandom has gotten insular, and needs more nominators and voters. It also needs to reflect things outside the narrow purview of the current WorldCon membership.

I lay most of the initial blame on the Puppies, but the reaction (and cyclical counter-reactions) leave plenty of blame to go around. There’s been enough decrying of fault and blame on this matter. No side of this, Sad Puppies, Anti-Puppies or especially Rabid Puppies , comes out without char marks.

Part IV: The Anti-Slate Measures.

There are two anti-slate measures that were ratified at Sasquan. Because the World Science Fiction Society has a two-year rules change cycle, they won’t impact any Hugo nominations prior to 2017.

The two proposals are EPH (formerly Single Divisible Vote) and 4/6.

In EPH, each nominee gets one ballot per category, and that vote gets divided among the number of entries in that category. Nominate a single work, and you get 1.0 nominations. Nominate five works, and you get 0.2 nominations. This is the one that I think holds the best chance of deterring slates, since someone stuffing a category needs to know they have about 5x as many nomination ballots as anyone else.

The problem is that I don’t think it will work. A look at the nomination statistics shows that Vox Day has somewhere around 3-4x as many nomination ballots as anyone else. Another element of the equation is that the people who regard the culture war (“causing the SJWs to screech” is their form of entertainment) are generally affluent enough that spending $40 or $50 is “OK, I miss a night out at the movies.”) EPH/SDV is the only proposal that mitigates slates enough to keep the “old collegial feel,” It raises the barriers to slates, but doesn’t eliminate them.

In 4/6, each category gets expanded by one entry for nominations, and no nominator can nominate more than four entries per category. There was an alternate proposal, called 5/10 which did the same thing.

The way 4/6 fails is that it’s still vulnerable to slates. It wouldn’t have stopped what happened this year at all. The only change is that the Rabid Puppy slate would’ve had fewer overlaps with the Sad Puppy slate. Instead of one slate dominating the nominations, it just takes collusion between slate organizers (whether deliberate or coincidental) to lock out a category.

The two proposals ombined means that you need two colluding slates, each of which has 3x-4x the number of unaffiliated voters. Slates are still more effective than unaffiliated voters, but this should require that close to a third of all nominating ballots are voting for two coordinated slates to block out a category.

Note that I don’t think blocking out a category is necessary to achieve the Rabid Puppy goals. See Part V below.

Part V: Political Consequences

Quite honestly? I don’t see a good way out of this.

In an ideal world, two categories would’ve gone to No Award: Best Related and Novella. They were easily the two most egregious cases of Rabid Puppy Nomination Stuffing, and the two weakest categories in terms of top-to-bottom quality of the work – and I say this as person who got the second-most votes in the Best Related Works category after political pique.

This would’ve been (I’d hope) an adequate rebuke of the slate-packing. Having actual Puppy candidates _win_ in the other three No Award categories–and the top vote getters were truly worthy winners– would’ve let the anti-Puppy crowd say to the Puppies, “See, you’re welcome here too.”

What actually happened?

Five categories got No Awarded. To me, the least justified case was Best Editor, Long Form. Toni Weisskopf got more votes for Best Editor than the previous five winners combined. It didn’t matter; No Award got almost twice as many as she did.

With the way the Instant Runoff Ballot works, it would’ve been trivial to ensure that Vox Day didn’t win the category, without nuking it. That didn’t happen. Instead, we got the argument that “No-one named on a Puppy List shall prosper.”

And I think that’s dreadfully wrong. I think, more than anything that could’ve happened, that just wrote “Larry Was Right All Along” In ten foot tall letters. Because the threat of possibly giving an award to someone Vox Day recommended was more important than the quality of the work.

Politics over quality. This is doubly true of what happened to Kary English. Mike Resnick was also worthy.

The people who voted “No Award” without reading the works may have thought they were punishing the leaders of the Puppies. They were punishing the self-deploying human sandbags instead. Protesting the unwritten social conventions by breaking the written admonition against “Don’t vote in categories you haven’t read” is, arguably, hypocrisy.

For a person nominated for an award like the Hugo, especially people like Kary and myself, with short publication lists in the field, the real prize isn’t the trophy. Getting one of those early always makes you wonder what you’ll have to do to prove you got better at your craft. The real prize is getting your work out in front of more readers, readers who tend to be influential in other parts of Fandom.

However, the real disaster is coming.

It has now been established that voting No Award without reading the works is acceptable behavior. It’s also been established that it’s perfectly OK for members to distribute large numbers of Supporting Memberships to other members to “get out the vote.” Both of those were done by the anti-Puppy side.

What makes you think they won’t be done by the Puppy side next year?

As horrible as the cheering for No Award in the Editor Categories was for the people who were nominees, two of those No Awards pretty much give Vox Day his best ever recruiting pitch: “After seeing what they did to Toni, why bother reading the categories, when voting for what you like is going to get a No Award anyway if it shows up on a Puppy Recommendation List? Just join me in burning the whole thing down by Voting No Award in every category.” Yes, you can argue that the cheering was for the process…but that’s not going to be persuasive to people who feel aggrieved and shut out.

Until now, a point of commonality between the Sad Puppies and the Neutral Fans is that voting for something (or against something) you haven’t read is an abrogation of the trust implicit in getting a voting packet.

The “winner” of this year’s Hugo ceremony was Vox Day. His goal has been to crash the Hugos, and has been for 17 months. He wanted to create a “lose/lose” situation for WorldCon: Either give him a nominee victory, or, do what he really wants and show how easy it is to manipulate the voters into voting No Award. He got both outcomes. Chaos Horizon points out that the block of 400 voters putting Three Body Problem over the top probably came from Vox Day. (See Annotations, below.)

There were roughly 1050 “Puppy” voters – about 550 Rabids and 500 Sads. 1000 Rabids and 100 Sads The Rabids are recruiting, because the anti-Puppies just gave them a nice, appealing message:

“We will return the insult done to Toni Weisskopf ten-fold.”

Here’s how they’ll do it:

1) They’ll get at least two TRULY objectionable works in every single category, along with 1-2 works that might be tolerable to fandom at large.
2) They’ll tell all their voters to vote No Award in every category. This, plus whatever votes go to No Award because, say, Vox Day has a piece in a category from a slate, should be enough to ensure that No Award happens in nearly every category. It will be harder for them to screw over Dramatic Works and the professional artist categories.

I wouldn’t bet against their success. I sure as hell wasn’t expecting five No Awards this time around.

If WorldCon wants sane Hugo Awards, there needs to be a dialog begun about the _literary_ dispute, separate from the culture war dispute. Consider this piece an opening statement

Toni Weisskopf may be able to deflate the ball of anger and bile the cheering at the Hugo ceremonies created, and she may love fandom enough as a thing (or dislike Vox enough as a thing) to do so.

To the side gloating over “victory” over what was done to Toni and Mike? There’s a reason why Vox Day is thanking you in public. Profusely. It’s not every day that your opponents/enemies hand you a banner AND a martyr to rally the cause around, then act like gleeful bullies to reinforce the message.

To the side referring to David Gerrold as a “faggot,” to Wesley Chu as a simpering man-whore? Yeah, I know, you can’t be persuaded at this point. You’re crowing over being handled a book of matches and a 55-gallon drum of gasoline. May the flame of your self-immolation be a beacon of enlightenment providing a cautionary fable for future generations.

To others, watching the cavorting with pyrotechnics or the cheering? Remember the words of Steven Barnes: “The first rule of human interaction is to assume every person you meet is a fully capable human being rather than a caricature. Human beings are driven by unacknowledged fears filtered through aggression and insecurity. Identify the fear and resolve it, and you resolve the conflict. React to the insecurity and aggression, and you escalate it.”

Part VI: What Happens To Me?

Me? I’m planning on writing. More games than fiction. Games pay better for me, by a fair margin. But there will be some work from me coming in the latter third of the year.

Besides, depending on how you interpret the mix of No Award and First Place votes in my category, I picked up 4,000 readers who want to see what else I can do.

Annotations:

Here are the voting statistics.

And an analysis of who the assorted voters were.

This article by Nathaniel Givens at Difficult Run was also quite instructive

The winners of the categories that got No Awarded are the ones who placed first in the “Run for Second Position” after “No Award.” They are:

Novella: Flow (Arlan Andrews Sr.)
Short Story: Totaled (Kary English)
Best Related Work: The Hot Equations (Ken Burnside)
Best Editor, Long Form: Toni Weisskopf
Best Editor, Short Form: Mike Resnick

192 Comments

Filed under BRAD R. TORGERSEN, POLIT(ICK!)S, SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY

192 responses to “Guest post by Ken Burnside

  1. Thanks for that write up Ken – very interesting, even if I disagree with parts of it.

    Personally, it was both Sad & Rabids that got me off my backside again to participate as there was actually stuff that I found worth reading, (prior to that I hadnt participated since the late 80’s). rather than stuff like Ancilliary whatever (bored me rigid) and “If I was a dinosaur” from previous year – both of which I think work against the claim of “literary fiction” being predominant. If that was the case neither of these “works” would ever have seen the reflected light off a Hugo rocket.

    I think the “culture war” aspect was already present, with the opposition already claiming victory on a deserted battlefield. The asterisks were simply a manifestation of that, and tbh if I’d been the recipient of one of those, David Gerrold would have found it the representation shoved in the actual location, sideways – live on stage. It was rude, disrespectful,antagonistic and totally unnecessary – and it was done gleefully.

    Topping off, GRRMs actions in hosting an awards for works he deems “should” have won were classless – and have ensured that he’s lost this reader on those actions alone, let alone that his words and actions have been vastly contradictory.

    Personally, I read the works and voted accordingly. Really enjoyed your entry. Not sure whether I’m going to bother or not next year yet, really not sure whether the Hugos are worth saving at this stage.

    • Yep. I’ve been reading GRRM since I was a teenager (the first paperback of his I bought, new, had a big-assed spider on the cover, which will tell you how long ago that was), but no more.

      Not that it’ll make any difference to him, since he’s no doubt sleeping in Scrooge McDuck’s money bin by now, but enough is enough.

  2. hobanwashburne

    Brad:
    As I also mentioned on your other site:

    “A fairly balanced article was posted at Real Clear Politics.

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2015/08/30/mutiny_at_the_hugo_awards_127934.html

    That site gets a very large viewer audience. Very good for getting the word out.”

  3. David Lang

    Ken, Toni was at the pre-show reception and walked out when they announced the asterisks. She went to another party until 4am

  4. David Lang

    I disagree with the effectiveness of the 4/6 and EPH proposals

    to beat 4/6 you don’t need multiple slates, just one slate of 6 items that you display to each viewer in a random order (doable server side or in javascript). yes you need more voters, but there were more than enough puppy voters this year to win (if you assume the way the anti-puppies do that the puppies voted the slates blindly, even if the fact of the vote information)

    EPH is more complex, so a different post

  5. Nice piece, Ken. I can see parts of it being unpopular on both sides. We need more pieces like this, that at least attempt to analyze without being overwhelmed by partisanship. You’ve got a new fan. Carry on.

    • I wanted to add my voice — thank you for the writeup, and the commentary.

      And I’m sorry to hear about parts of Sasquan that went south — though I think we have a new phrasing: “The failure mode of clever is asterisk”. 😦

  6. David Lang

    The current system is too easy to game because there are too few people voting for too many different works, any directed voting is enough to break things ‘gaming the system’

    and by ‘directed voting’, I include Scalzi’s recommendation list that his many fans pick up and greatly influences what they vote for.

    As for the results this year:

    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.

    It’s also important to note that if you look at the total nominations for works that got 5% or more of the vote, the puppies combined for almost half. If you assume that every ballot had one entry on it over the 5% mark, then (other than the puppies) somewhere between 88 and ~350 non-puppy nominees had 2 or more works on them that got over the 5% mark.

    This means that you can do all the reallocation of partial votes between works and you will still end up with a lot of ballots having no effect on the final nominees.

    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.

    • Supposedly anonymize raw ballot data will be released at some point. It would be instructive to see it fed through EPH and see if it delivers what it promised.

      • jaed

        Also interesting to see just how many people voted for each of the “slates” in their entirety without deviation.

    • Hey David,

      You posted these numbers on Eric Flint’s post a few days ago, but I think you’re misunderstanding how EPH works. Particularly, the first pass scores don’t mean much on their own. Quoting myself from the response on Eric’s page: 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).

      —-

      I agree with you that the fundamental problem is that nomination is so diffuse – as you say, too few people voting for too many different works. What I really like about EPH is that I think it handles that really elegantly. For example, what it means for a group who are big Scalzi fans and who use his recommendations for a lot of their picks is, that group might be big enough to get a nomination in each category – but not more than that; their similar voting will reduce their overall influence. And that seems reasonable to me – that stream of fandom gets that spot on the ballot, the other stream gets their spot, etcetera, etcetera.
      And the most influence goes to people voting for pieces that are popular across many groups, not limited to a single bloc. Sounds good to me 🙂

      • davidelang

        nobody responded there, so I cut-n-paste to other places the discussion is going on 🙂

        The thing is that right now, we have no idea what the other items on the ballots look like.

        But with the fact that if you assume that only puppies voted for puppy works, that means that there were ~400 puppy ballots and ~1400 non-puppy ballots, but there were 5%, so somewhere between 1000-1300 of those ballots didn’t have two or more of the final nominees on them. Since that’s pretty hard to believe, it would mean that there were probably a large number of ballots that didn’t contain ANY of the >5% titles. As such, those ballots will still be ignored under EPH because the votes get down to 1 and that one still doesn’t win a nomination, so it disappears.

        I strongly suspect (based on how many high profile people have been talking) that many of the top nominees are on many different ballots. As a result, their votes will be diluted just as much as the puppy nominees.

        Others who have spent a lot of time analysing the nominations and votes over the years have commented that as the vote count climbs, the nominations have been getting more concentrated.

        • davidelang

          by the way, it doesn’t take active collusion to generate uneven samples here. I understand that Tor buys ~100 memberships for it’s employees, and other publishers probably do the same. Since these people live and work together, it is expected that they are going to be exposed to the same works, and have similar opinions on them (especially anything any of them think is ‘best of the year). So those ballots are going to be far less diverse than the same number of ballots by random fans around the world.

          This is NOT saying that Tor is doing anything wrong by buying these memberships. It’s just another indication that the voting/nomination pool has gotten too small. It need to be enlarged so that a hundred people aren’t a big deal.

    • Alpheus

      The problem with both EPH and 4/6 is that both are starting with the wrong assumption: that what happened this year was because of slate voting.

      If it’s the result of a “get out the vote” campaign, then changing the system of counting isn’t going to change what happened one whit!

  7. “The Hot Equations” was damned good, Ken, and I’ve re-read sections of it several times since. This potential reader is now an actual one due to your inclusion in Sad Puppies, not because of anything political, but because you put together something worth reading.

    It wasn’t close, for me. “Why Science is Never Settled” was also good, but I liked T.H.E. better. I look forward to what Speaker writes for us next, too. *grin*

    The culture war aspect has been going on for a long time, I think. Longer than I’ve been paying attention for sure. Is it any less so, for being quiet? For a lot of us, from the mid eighties on for another ten or fifteen years was a dry spell in SF for the reader. What counts as an enjoyable read varies, of course, from what I hear, SF sales declined quite a bit. YMMV.

    For me, it doesn’t matter whose shoulder I’m looking over in the story. Male, female, AI, monster, alien, god… A good story makes these things, not irrelevant, but seamless. What matters is, what’s going to happen next? That’s what keeps the pages turning until the last one, and then goes looking for the next in the series.

    So I don’t stand with more aspirational characters should be women, any more than I think more aspirational characters should be X, Y, Z, or men. The quality of the work matters, not the mythical plumbing in the character’s pants. The fact that Honor is female matters less than thickness of hull, or skin, or skulls for that matter in the story. To put it another way, if the story is *about* being female it can still be a good story… But if we’re hit over the head with it every five pages, it tends to lose something. This may not be a disagreement, but I *do* want to clarify that I think quality should always come first.

    That sort of statement though, that there should be more SF about ‘X’, can be polarizing. I want to read more zombies in space stories is one thing, that’s just my taste. But saying “should” worries me. It sounds like an “eat your vegetables” kind of thing, that’s good for us whether we want it or not. That’s not why I read SF. I read it for, well, Heroic Engineers, science hard and soft, alien worlds, exploding spaceships, AIs, travel between the stars… maybe even zombies in space, too. Authors are competing for reader’s beer and pizza fund, not for their college textbook fund. At least I hope not. *chuckle* Make the customer happy, and they’ll come back for more. Or, like Baen, “the first taste’s free…”

    The “should” I like to see is “SF should be for everyone. Full stop.” That means I may not *like* Creative Pronouns myself, but hey, if that’s your fave, more power to ya. That means if want gender hopping, non-binary fiction, cool. If you love to explore the human condition, hey, I like some stories like that myself. Just don’t be telling me that I’m wrong, immoral, and down and out evil to be enjoying pure fluff popcorn books with guns and monsters… or exploding spaceships.

    That is indeed what they’ve been telling us for some time now. That if we don’t like stuff we “should” like, we’re bad people. We’re not, the vast majority of us. Neither are the folks on the other side bad people if we just disagree on taste. I tend to reserve a judgment of really bad for things that deserve it. Cheering for someone else losing is bad behavior, no matter who does it. Voting “No Award” over things you didn’t yourself read, or voting for or against something you didn’t read is pretty stupid behavior- what’s the award worth if everyone does that? If we, all of us, can hold firm that distinction between opinions and what our morals are- what we think *should be* for all of us, I think we’ll be okay.

    There will always be trolls. Trolls don’t have a side, they’re trolls. They use one side or another for their own delight in destruction, not because they really believe in it. I think those inclined that way are delighted to see so many folk acting foolishly.

    Sad Puppies had some good stuff on their reading list this year- though I agree with Mad Mike, he had better stuff than “Wisdom from my Internet.” I’m looking forward to next year’s. I’m too poor to buy *everything* I want to, so winnowing it down with recommendations from folks with similar tastes helps. I’d be fine with a dozen per category, if there’s that much good stuff coming out. *grin*

    Ken, I’m sorry to hear Sasquan turned out the way it did. But I look forward to seeing what you and all the other folks whose work I got introduced to this past year do in the future. All of y’all did good. Keep at it, and good luck.

  8. Luke

    Bah. If I wanted angsty navel gazing, I’d have most of the bookstore to choose from.

    He’s very much mistaken to believe that Brad started the culture war aspects of the dispute. Those have been in play for many years.

    • I never said that Brad started the culture war artillery barrage. Merely that using it wasn’t the right tool for a literary dispute.

      Also, at some point, the right response is to stop searching for who threw the first rock, silence the artillery, and talk.

      • Also, at some point, the right response is to stop searching for who threw the first rock, silence the artillery, and talk.

        I am behind you on this one completely.

      • I agree Ken, well put. Loved the original post BTW.
        Here is my theory on why some of us on the more conservative/libertarian side are probably a bit oversensitive to the argument about who started it. It seems to many of us that we get accused of starting fights when we finally stop giving in. We are continuously slandered, and any attempt to correct the lies is taken as proof of our perfidy. We often feel that we have been getting slapped around for ages and when we finally shout “STOP!” We get some version of “How could you yell at me, you monster?!” In my estimation, the SJW side has long been in power in a number of places, and it has only now become a culture war because others are fighting back. You can’t have a war with only one side, that’s an occupation instead. Sorry, I’m getting off into the weeds.

        I think your framing of the issue as a literary dispute offers one of the few paths through it. The culture war will continue, but there may be a chance to save the Hugos via reconciling differing perspectives on the literary merits of the works.

      • The Other Sean

        Isn’t artillery usually silenced through counterbattery fire?

  9. Luke

    I should also note that Toni tried to pour oil on the water a year or so ago. Scalzi, Hines, and a few others deliberately twisted her words and led an internet lynch mob against her in response.

    I very much doubt she’s willing to put herself through that again. Especially given the insults she suffered at the Hugos.

  10. Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
    Just a thought. The biggest complaint by the puppy kickers were that the puppies somehow removed “choice” from the Hugo nominations. Yet isn’t that what they’ve been doing for decades now. I can’t remember a year when ANY Baen stuff except for Bujold was on a Hugo ballot or even on a Locus list. Of course the readers were making a choice and more and more it wasn’t to buy SF. That’s a choice where we all lose.

  11. Ravenshrike

    All EPH does is ensure multiple slates. In the current environment that means 1 of each to rabid/sad/kickers with the remaining two going to the ones who game the system the most ruthlessly. Which means either a split between kickers/rabid or both to rabid.

    To be perfectly honest the Hugos need to be on a 3-4 year delay with the noms for the next year announced at the current Hugos.

    • aacid14

      I think the same issue exists with Hugo’s as Academy awards. Academy gets gamed by releasing late while many fans may not have read late released stories but have read early. I would love to have a six month delay so that it lets readers have a bit more say than any lists

    • “In the current environment that means 1 of each to rabid/sad/kickers with the remaining two going to the ones who game the system the most ruthlessly. ”

      That is precisely why the Torlocks are behind it. As long as they wind up with one book they can point to and say “Hugo-nominated! Hugo-nominated!” they’ll be happy.

  12. A good analysis, but thinking it’s possible to hide from the culture wars is a bit naive. And a suggestion: When people try to ignore you, you walk up to them and loudly greet them as though they’re your long lost friend. My wife and I have used that to good effect, It’s also fun.

    Because of what happened in Spokane, I’m one of those who think we should No Award vote all categories until No Award is not an option or the Hugos are no more. Either one works. Unless there’s a genuine apology from the Puppy Kickers, that’s not likely to change

  13. Angus Trim

    Ken, nice thoughtful try at a balanced view of this. Brad, thanks for posting this here.

    Though frankly, I’m already really tired of the post-Hugo angst. It’s time to move on, time to write the best stuff one can write, time to read stuff that interests one, and time to reflect on it. Then get ready for SP4.

    I have to disagree about the culture war stuff. It’s been going on for years, SFF has suffered for it. It doesn’t take much checking back to see how honest people had to bury their beliefs in order to get anywhere, just a few years ago. Sarah Hoyt and Brad are two amongst many that can tell you the horror stories. Even Vox Day was created by it when he was hounded out of the SFWA and accused of things he didn’t do. Well, there are some people it’s not a good idea to bully, and Vox is one.

    I do agree on one thing, fighting on the internet won’t solve anything. After some reflection, I’m not sure the Hugos are worth saving, but there are those that do believe it. SP4 here we come.

    I don’t think SP4 or even SP5 will solve things one way or the other {same with RP2 and maybe RP3}. What will solve this kerfuffle will be the market. If message fic is the future, it’ll dominate SFF in sales. If classic SFF is going to continue its comeback, then it’ll be the market that dictates that.

    My useless $.02

    • Luke

      Actually Vox Day was long before that. Charles Stross gave him a “you’ll never worn in this town again” speech after he’d written something negative about Mrs. Nielsen-Hayden in one of his syndicated columns.
      He holds this as directly responsible for some major setbacks he’s faced.

      From personal experience, it does wonders to clarify the stakes when someone threatens to destroy you.
      Don’t expect him to show mercy.

      • TRX

        And, amusingly, Stross agreed with Day and advocated No Awarding everything. So they’re both “winners” in that game…

  14. Christopher M. Chupik

    I think the Hugos had become part of the culture wars when they became the private fiefdom of a handful of writers, editors and fans — all leftist — who used it as a reward for their fellow travelers.

    • Craig

      Part of the question I guess… is it that the vote manipulators are rewarding people on the basis of ideology, or for being part of the clique (which is somewhat self-selected based on professing the ideology)?

      • I’d say it’s both. Winning a Hugo in 2015 is 50/50 knowing people, and having the right viewpoints expressed in the right way. I think you can win a Hugo with just one of these things, but it’s a far tougher hill to climb. If you have neither of them, your chances are terrible of even being nominated, much less winning. This is why very, very successful writers (like Kevin J. Anderson or Jim Butcher) never, ever show up on a Hugo ballot. But Charles Stross — a fraction as successful as the prior two authors — winds up on the Hugo ballot on a routine basis. Ditto for Cat Valente and many others. You have to be a “club” person who flatters the club. Build yourself a nice cult of personality. Attach yourself to the important people — as Scalzi has done from Day 1. And so forth.

        • dgarsys

          It’s “knowing people” – but the people and their fellow travellers are the kind of ignoramuses who think “Chicom” – if it is a slur at all – must be a) newly made up, and b) a RACIAL one. And that our first goal in writing a story should be to ensure we eradicate default binary gender. But thermodynamics and it’s impact on space flight is boring shit.

  15. Ken:
    If the Sad Puppies move to a true recommendation list, with 8+ suggestions per category, that would be a big step towards healing the rift. More than that minimum would be better still, because the more recommendations of good SF/F, the better.

    • That’s a good idea on general principles, but don’t expect it to change anything. The Furies will still be libertarian-fascist white-supremacist misogynists trying to keep women, gays, etc., out of the genre and all the similar lies. And eight won’t be enough: some will demand ten, or fifteen, or fifty (yes, I’ve seen that).

      • “A recommended reading list should have, at a minimum, twice to three times the number of entries per category as the final ballot for an award. Fewer than this, and you’re packing the slate with what you want, and charges of ideological nominations will fly.”

        I agree with Ken on this. And in practice, it’s probably easier to come up with some number over 15 than pare it down to 8, at least for the novels. Don’t you think the Puppies can do as well as Scalzi’s comments section?

        • I agreed, y’know. I might quibble on the exact number, but quibbling’s all it’d be.

          My only point was that no matter what the number, no matter which divers authors’ works we choose, no matter whose name is on the tag-line—the lies told will be the same. Anyone claiming if we only did it this way or that we’d be free of the libel is just fooling himself.

    • jic

      That’s based on the assumption that the ‘slates’ were the *cause* of the anger the puppies faced, and not simply an *excuse* for it. But yes, a bigger recommendation list would be a good thing in itself.

    • And if we’re lucky, that will dilute the Puppy nominating vote enough that only one or two can get on the ballot, and then they can have a No Award campaign like they did with SP2 where they get to kick the puppies AND have Hugos. Win-win, just not for the puppies.

      This is what we call “Concern Trolling”. Where someone pretends to care about your cause and gives you “helpful” advice that would guarantee you fail.

      • In 2014, the only Puppy nominee that ranked below No Award was VD, who earned it fair and square on the merits of his work. So it appears that there’s a categorical difference between how most fans respond to a slate getting one or two on a ballot and 2015 slates monopolizing whole categories of nominations for a small but organized minority.

        • dgarsys

          “Earned it fair and square”

          Actually, Opera Vitae Aeterna was a damned good piece, about and full of friendship, love, sublime beauty, and learning to understand and befriend the “other”.

          Something often missing in much of the stunted and nihilistic “literature” that seems the rage these days in “smart” circles.

          The title itself is a clever multi-lingual pun on several levels, and the story benefits from having one-paragraph level of knowledge of St Thomas Aquinas and the Summa Theologica, without having to know much about the broader world of Selenoth.

          And that bit of hair-splitting STILL doesn’t change the outrage, smears, and lies that surfaced directed at the puppies and Larry.

          • Actually, Opera Vitae Aeterna was a damned good piece, about and full of friendship, love, sublime beauty, and learning to understand and befriend the “other”.

            And here’s part of the Hugo problem in a nutshell, and why I really dislike slates.

            Because the field is too big for *any* group to justly dominate. (go EPH!) I’ll take you at your word that you found OVA to be a good piece; I found it overblown, poorly written, and emotionally flat.

            And we have people asserting that works that I found marvelous were voted for as “affirmative action” because no one could really like them.

            Clearly, if we’re both being honest, our tastes no longer have much, if any, overlap; we have hit a sort of SFnal singularity.

            Which makes me wonder about the long-term future of *any* broad awards in the genre, but makes me feel even more strongly that slating tactics should be defeated — because they artificially reduce even further the diversity available to the award.

            • jaed

              I found it overblown, poorly written, and emotionally flat

              That’s not really an excuse for No Awarding it, you know. If it had come in fifth, I would have shrugged and said well, tastes differ, de gustibus. )If I had voted last year it would have been middle of the pack; I enjoyed it but was not blown away.) But it wasn’t voted fifth, as least appealing of the field of nominees: it was voted No Award, as an illegitimate choice to even be considered. You can’t tell me that was based on quality rather than personalities.

              As for “diversity” – well, people’s tastes have always differed, and there are a few old Hugo nominees and even winners that I thought were the veriest dreck, and several more that I thought were “meh” compared to others of their year. That’s not the end of the world. However, voting No Award in preference to anything that doesn’t happen to be to your taste is the end of the award, and square that when “not to your taste” starts including “the wrong people liked this”.

              I thought the Best Novel pool this year had a fair amount of diversity: an alt-medieval fantasy, a near-present-day hard-science tale, a future space saga, a Roman-Empire-In-Space with psychological elements, and an urban fantasy. But half that diversity was No Awarded because Wrongfans proposed it for consideration. That way lies doom.

              • That’s not really an excuse for No Awarding it, you know.

                If “poorly written” isn’t a reason for voting No Award on a literary award, I don’t know what is.

                To quote: “You should vote for No Award as your first choice if you believe that none of the nominees are worthy of the Award”

                You can’t tell me that was based on quality rather than personalities.

                Sure I can. I use a simple test: If I saw this work in, say, Asimov’s, or Strange Horizons, would I find myself going “What were the editors *thinking* when they bought this?

                I will admit that, for example, having cardboard characters and gratuitous political jabs didn’t help my opinion of, say, “Big Boys Don’t Cry…” — but I don’t think a barely-acceptably written piece of Laumer “critique” was Hugo-worthy; there was nothing in it that made it particularly original or good.

                Can I say I completely removed all considerations of personality and message from reading it? No. Can I say that all of them would have been covered in heavy red ink from any writing group I’ve been in, for *writing* issues, not politics issues? Yes.

                Which, to me, makes them not Hugo-worthy.

                ” However, voting No Award in preference to anything that doesn’t happen to be to your taste is the end of the award”

                Here’s the difference — and it’s an important one. “Not to my taste” to me does not mean “bad”. I don’t read Tolkien much; I find his writing style not to my taste any more. Would I No Award him for a work that met his usual standard? Not on your life. I don’t enjoy reading his books, but I recognize his quality.

                Or, to take another, living author — I agree with John Kessel that “Ender’s Game” is morally corrupt. It’s also brilliantly written, even if I find its baseline assumptions reprehensible. Would I “No Award” it? No.

                I was having a discussion in another thread with a Sad Puppy who said they couldn’t understand how I could say “I liked book X more, but book Y was a better book.” — and that’s what’s going on here. I *like* reading Bob Asprin’s “Phule’s Company” more when I’m reading just for fun than “The Lord of the Rings” — but there’s no question in my mind which is the better book.

                an alt-medieval fantasy, a near-present-day hard-science tale, a future space saga, a Roman-Empire-In-Space with psychological elements, and an urban fantasy. But half that diversity was No Awarded because Wrongfans proposed it for consideration. That way lies doom.

                Actually, because it was on a slate that drove other works off the ballot. Indeed, had there not been withdrawals from the slate, the eventual winner would not have made the ballot.

                I don’t know why it is that people (though I was not among their number) can say over and over again “We voted against slates” — indeed, many of them can agonize in public about it — but there is an automatic presumption that they are lying, and that they voted not against *what* was written, or *how* it got on the ballot, but *who* put it on the ballot.

                The book that won was voted on, and voted favorably on, by everyone — let that be a model for what we’re aiming for.

                • dgarsys

                  I will admit that, for example, having cardboard characters and gratuitous political jabs didn’t help my opinion of, say, “Big Boys Don’t Cry…” — but I don’t think a barely-acceptably written piece of Laumer “critique” was Hugo-worthy; there was nothing in it that made it particularly original or good.

                  We’d have to disagree again.

                  I, and a number of other people I know, especially veterans, found it spoke to us.

                  First – it wasn’t a rehash of the Laumer formula, but instead a refutation of it. Instead of following in the footsteps of the benign supertank, it examined how one would end UP with something like such.

                  Second – It examined the nature of human organizations. What kind of person fights? What bpnds do they have that others do not share? Does replacing people, and putting them at risk, with de facto drones (much like happened to the infantry crews) REALLY improve efficiency? What is the human cost of that efficiency as those giving the orders are increasingly distant from the orders they give?

                  How do you “raise” a human-compatible AI? How do you give it honor, tenacity? How do you get it to fight FOR you?

                  And what happens when you betray those you have shaped and led?

                  It asks a lot of the important questions that have been asked since the days of Troy, and Xenophon’s march. And it asks a few new ones that we are only now, via drone warfare, beginning to see become possible.

                  • First – it wasn’t a rehash of the Laumer formula, but instead a refutation of it. Instead of following in the footsteps of the benign supertank, it examined how one would end UP with something like such.

                    Hence, the word “critique”.

                    Also, I found (for example) the issue of non-human AI fighting vehicles (and the questions of their loyalty) handled much more interestingly in works as diverse as Banks’ Culture novels and _Schlock Mercenary_.

                    How do you “raise” a human-compatible AI? How do you give it honor, tenacity? How do you get it to fight FOR you?

                    These are interesting questions; I feel they were *terribly* handled in BBDC. When, as a reader, you’re looking at the trainers going “WTF are you morons doing?”, it’s a bad sign. There were so many idiot balls being handed out that people hardly had enough hands to hold them.

                    BBDC might have been something very good — but I don’t vote for Hugos for “might have been”s.

                    • dgarsys

                      So tastes differ – but I’d argue that what you are seeing as stupidity on the part of the author is him being faithful t the type of environs he wrote about.

                      Again – I found it moving, on-point, and compelling. Yes, I’m a veteran. So were many of the people who enjoyed it and found it moving, etc.

                      And no – it’s not that we don’t see the parts where you were going “WTF are you morons doing” – it’s that we’ve seen that in real life, or something like it.

                      And I like Schlock a lot, but despite being a great story and characters, it and Ian Banks are… “mildly military”

                    • Not sure if this will work for replying — I think we’ve gotten deep enough in this thread that it’s stopped displaying “reply” sings.

                      but I’d argue that what you are seeing as stupidity on the part of the author is him being faithful t the type of environs he wrote about.

                      A couple of things. I have nothing against satire — witness “Memoirs Found in a Bathtub” and “the Trial” sitting on my shelves, along with many others — but what Kratman did didn’t have any of the trappings of satire; we were supposed to buy those characters at face value.

                      And the humans, by and large, were simply grotesque caricatures. Now, he may have known people he’d lampoon as being like that in the service — but that doesn’t make them believable. I mean, it’s one of those things you learn in Creative Writing 101 — “But it happened!” isn’t a defense if people don’t believe you when you write it down — and Kratman’s universe was filled with so many stupid/evil people that it was utterly implausible.

                      “Yes, I’m a veteran. So were many of the people who enjoyed it and found it moving, etc.”

                      And several of the veterans I showed it to were even more vociferous than I was that it was terrible. Veterans, like mileage, may vary.

                      “And I like Schlock a lot, but despite being a great story and characters, it and Ian Banks are… “mildly military””

                      BUt they explored the same questions. Maybe not at the same level of “This is what day-to-day life is like in the military (extrapolated from right now)”, but they did explore those questions, which is my point.

                      If, in order to appreciate a work, you need to have been a) in the military, b) have a certain set of experiences while there, and c) grant the author a large amount of leeway, that work, to me, isn’t Hugo-worthy.

                      I could write a marvelous scathing investigation of questions of deep importance to systems administrators, full of things that would cause them to nod their heads knowingly or break out laughing or break down crying — but if other sysadmins, and people who had only been semi-related to that field are going “Yeah, but this makes no sense — people don’t act that way!” etc., it’s not a Hugo winner.

                    • dgarsys

                      Obviously, our opinions and tastes differ.

                      By definition, if I nominated it, I find it so.

                      Quite a few people found it so (and please, please, given the variance in the voting numbers, don’t say “but slate”) – and voted for it. Both to nominate it, and to finalize it.

                      What I find interesting here though is the meta-argument. The word choices made in your arguments. You don’t find something realistic, so that settles it. I point out that people with experience in the related fields of knowledge find it spot on, and instead of considering that some of us have HAD experiences that make us say “yeah, that could happen”, you counter “well MY veterans boggled even more, it’s not realistic.”

                      Why can you not believe that some of us have seen enough of those kind of people – directly and in person, that we do not go “that could never happen”?

                      Hell – look at the differences between Hammers Slammers and the forever war, differences that Drake at least chalks up to the kind of units he and Haldeman respectively ended up in during Vietnam. I know such gulfs existed. The competent, and the incompetent.

                      And the stupidity that Drake documents in his stories, while allowing for moments of hope, grace, beauty, and salvation, still often enough makes for a very ugly scene.

                    • davidelang

                      what you don’t want to believe is that to many of the Veterans, those people weren’t ‘grotesque caricatures’, they were believable (in some cases slight exaggerations, in other cases less than what they faced in reality)

                      Nobody is saying that you have to like it or believe it. All that you are being asked to do is believe that there are others who did.

                      You have gotten a couple very clear and detailed posts as to why some people think it’s really good.

                    • @dgarsys Quite a few people found it so (and please, please, given the variance in the voting numbers, don’t say “but slate”) – and voted for it. Both to nominate it, and to finalize it.

                      Approximately 338 people found it worth nominating. Given the numbers we can attribute to the slate, it *might* have made it onto the ballot unslated.

                      I point out that people with experience in the related fields of knowledge find it spot on, and instead of considering that some of us have HAD experiences that make us say “yeah, that could happen”, you counter “well MY veterans boggled even more, it’s not realistic.”

                      You’re free to vote for it. I fail to see why I am supposed to subsume my judgment because a group of people I have no particular reason to trust are telling me “Oh, it’s really good!”

                      As I said — if, in order to appreciate the story, you have to have been a specific sort of veteran, with a specific sort of outlook, then it’s not a well-written enough story. I’ve read plenty of stories written about worlds I have far less experience or knowledge of where the author was able to convey believeability, rather than a set of strawmen that happen, coincidentally, to line up with the author’s pet peeves.

                      You’re free to like BBDC; but don’t try and tell me that “Oh, we have superior knowledge, and can tell you it’s a good story and realistic and you shouldn’t object.”

                      @davidelang

                      As I said above, why should a few people who said “Oh, I liked it, it was realistic!” outweigh both my own skepticism and the people who I’ve spoken to who found it no such thing?

                      You’re both telling me that if I just accept people with specialized knowledge agree that it’s realistic, I’d like it — or at least understand it better.

                      If you need that knowledge to make the story work — if the author can’t convey what’s going on with their craft, then the writer has *failed* — and failures shouldn’t win Hugos.

                    • dgarsys

                      I have to wonder if you’re actually reading what I’m writing, or reading things into it that are not said.

                      You’re free to vote for it. I fail to see why I am supposed to subsume my judgment because a group of people I have no particular reason to trust are telling me “Oh, it’s really good!”

                      I never asked you to subsume your judgement on the tone, or whether or not you think it’s hugo worthy. I’m not asking you to believe “It’s really good”

                      I AM asking you to believe that it’s possible that other intelligent people with a broad range of reading experiences (SF is less than a third of a very large bookshelf over here) can actually come to a different conclusion, as a matter of taste.

                      I AM asking you to believe that perhaps, when an Infantry officer writes of certain kinds of actions being taken, that even if it doesn’t fit with YOUR view of “how people behave” that maybe it IS an alien world from yours, and that there are real-world examples of people actually behaving that way.

                      As I said — if, in order to appreciate the story, you have to have been a specific sort of veteran, with a specific sort of outlook, then it’s not a well-written enough story.

                      You don’t have to be. There’s little in that story that anyone who’s studied the Great Leap Forward, WWI, WWII, the Russian Revolution, the Trojan War, the Civil War, or any other large swath of violent history replete with piles of skulls and bloodbaths, idiots and geniuses,, cowards and men of honor, would not have stumbled across.

                      I’ve read plenty of stories written about worlds I have far less experience or knowledge of where the author was able to convey believeability, rather than a set of strawmen that happen, coincidentally, to line up with the author’s pet peeves.

                      That is your taste and your opinion. We’d have to agree to disagree. I can certainly see why to some it would come across that way and do not invalidate YOUR impressions, interpretation, and experience

                      You’re free to like BBDC; but don’t try and tell me that “Oh, we have superior knowledge, and can tell you it’s a good story and realistic and you shouldn’t object.

                      A) We have relevant knowledge – but nice way to twist the argument.

                      B) A matter of taste, but I’d ask you to agree that I and other intelligent reasonable people can find it a good and enjoyable story even if you don’t

                      c) Never claimed that.

                      Oh, yeah, and please do not put words into my mouth.

                      You’re pretty slick, but the way you’ve twisted and misrepresented what I’ve said by almost-close-enough paraphrasing is simply sad, and you’re showing yourself to be a lot less clever than you think you are.

                    • I AM asking you to believe that it’s possible that other intelligent people with a broad range of reading experiences (SF is less than a third of a very large bookshelf over here) can actually come to a different conclusion, as a matter of taste.

                      Sorry I didn’t stick enough “YMMV” in the beginning for you. YMMV.

                      And as for the studying of history — what you appear to be missing is that yes, there are examples of evil or wicked or dim people throughout history. However, the concentration of them in this story didn’t work for me, especially since it was massively one-sided. If your presentation is full of One Side Were All Terrible, And It Matches My Political Opinions Exactly, I’m rapidly going to get, at the very least, bored with your storytelling; and likely utterly unimpressed.

                      A) We have relevant knowledge – but nice way to twist the argument.
                      Here’s the thing; I have relevant knowledge as well — and it didn’t jibe at all well with that.

                      B) A matter of taste, but I’d ask you to agree that I and other intelligent reasonable people can find it a good and enjoyable story even if you don’t

                      Go right ahead. You’re allowed to.

                      Good enough for you now?

                      This began when I was being told that being poorly written was not a good excuse for “No Awarding” something. If you expect me to grant you that you can find it enjoyable, I expect you to grant me that I can find it sufficiently poorly done as to merit “No Award”. If not, then we’re right back where we started.

                • jaed

                  I don’t know why it is that people (though I was not among their number) can say over and over again “We voted against slates” — indeed, many of them can agonize in public about it — but there is an automatic presumption that they are lying, and that they voted not against *what* was written, or *how* it got on the ballot, but *who* put it on the ballot.

                  That does work both ways. I don’t know why it is that people can say over and over again “We didn’t vote a ‘slate’, we voted for what we liked”, but there is an automatic presumption that they are lying.

                  As for voting based on who put it on the ballot… I was reading File 770’s posts on this subject for quite a while – both the comments and the links – and it was very, very clear that this was all about who liked the works. “I don’t even have to read it – it’s puppy shit!” was a sentiment frequently repeated and widely applauded. If it weren’t about who liked the works, there would be no reason to denounce Puppies supporters as unterfans, Wrongfans, or not fans at all.

                  As for “slates!!!!”, people have put up lists before and I have never heard anything negative about them, except a bit of eyerolling about Scalzi promoting his own works. Now, suddenly, a list is “slates!!!!”… because people outside the social circle started noticeably affecting the nominations.

                  • is that people can say over and over again “We didn’t vote a ‘slate’, we voted for what we liked”, but there is an automatic presumption that they are lying.

                    Well, there is evidence like the Rabid Puppies who complained that Zombie Nation wasn’t in their Hugo Packet — while it was a free webcomic. Which suggests they didn’t read it, but rather voted because, as they were told to, they voted the slate they were handed.

                    I’m sure some Sad Puppies did not; I’m sure some Rabid Puppies did, pure and simple.

                    ” If it weren’t about who liked the works, there would be no reason to denounce Puppies supporters as unterfans, Wrongfans, or not fans at all.”

                    I actually never remember seeing Puppies described as either of the first two — the latter I only saw when referring to people whose attitude was “we’d rather burn the whole thing down than let the evil SJWs win!”.

                    And there’s also the fact that some people had experience before with the authors, and didn’t want to have to read any more of it than they had to.

                    “Now, suddenly, a list is “slates!!!!”… because people outside the social circle started noticeably affecting the nominations.”

                    Well, let’s see; SP1 started explicitly as “Get me a Hugo!” from LC. SP2 included people designed to infuriate a group of people LC didn’t like. So, I suspect there’s a bit more than that to it.

                    But let us listen to Ken, and try to avoid arguing about who killed who — sorry, ObPython — about who started it; and figure out how we can end it in some more useful way.

                  • David Lang

                    The thing is, we also believe all those people who boasted about how they would never read a puppy work, or would start reading and when they got to the title page that showed the authors name, would stop reading.

                    And the voting numbers show multiple distinct groups, some people voted no award across the board (~2500), others only mostly (~1000), people like you that say they didn’t like anything may be in the ~1000 group. Those aren’t the ones we’re angry at.

                    We;re angry at the ones who didn’t give things a chance, and boasted about it, and who cheered that Editors who are near Legendary were deemed so bad that it was better to not give out the award to anyone rather than let them win it.

                    If you voted no award over all the fiction and the editors, then you are part of that hard-core 2500

                    if you didn’t vote on the editors or voted for a single puppy nominee anywhere on the ballot (including _after_ no award), didn’t think that giving out ‘what should have won’ awards was a good idea, didn’t think the “official hugo asterisk” was a clever thing to give out, or didn’t cheer at people being snubbed, then you aren’t the ones the anger is directed at.

                    • We;re angry at the ones who didn’t give things a chance, and boasted about it, and who cheered that Editors who are near Legendary were deemed so bad that it was better to not give out the award to anyone rather than let them win it.

                      And many anti-Puppies and non-Puppies are angry that a very few people essentially owned the ballot this year by playing (to their lights) unfairly. Who remember the gloating when the ballot came out, and were told that they now had to play by the rules and pick something.

                      Everyone is angry at *someone*. What we have to decide is whether that means we’re angry enough at *everyone* else involved to keep this up.

                      Do you wish to continue this forever? Because at this rate, that’s what this looks like — there will always be a next grievance.

                      then you aren’t the ones the anger is directed at.

                      Well, I didn’t vote for a single Puppy writing nominee above “No Award”, and I voted “No Award” in the editor because I think they’re a bad idea — as the rules specify I should. I would have “No Awarded” PNH or Gardner, because I think the way it’s done is poor.

                      BUt here’s the thing; in directing your anger, you’re not just hitting the people you’re angry at; and you’re lining up with people whose anger is far less directed than yours apparently is.

                      And as long as your anger places you side-by-side with the people who believe that everything wrong with the Hugos can be blamed on one person, or who think that it’s better to burn it all down than risk an “SJW’ nominee, then it really doesn’t matter that much to me that I, specifically, am not a target. Which is why I called, earlier, for those who can be reasonable on every side to put down our weapons and try and work together.

                    • David Lang

                      who did I hit?

                      I voted to nominate works that I liked and had read, I read everything else in the packet and voted.

                      What should i have done differently, not voted for works I liked? why not?

                    • who did I hit?

                      That depends on where your anger takes you now.

                      So far, it may not have been anyone; it may only have been those people who didn’t get on the Hugo ballot because a slate pushed them off. If things go on, it may be more people.

                    • “And the voting numbers show multiple distinct groups, some people voted no award across the board (~2500),”

                      A hypothetical group that mostly goes AWOL for the dramatic presentations.

                • “I don’t know why it is that people (though I was not among their number) can say over and over again “We voted against slates” — indeed, many of them can agonize in public about it — but there is an automatic presumption that they are lying, and that they voted not against *what* was written, or *how* it got on the ballot, but *who* put it on the ballot.”

                  There’s two reasons for that. One is that enough people have been caught or openly admitted to lying that the presumption in not unfounded. And not merely in Hugo voting, this and my next point are broadly applicable to our society in general. The second reason is that to an unprecedented degree we are self-segregating. We all socialize far more than did our parents within a self-selected circle of similarly inclined people. When you don’t know many/any people who think differently, they become a caricature with few or no humanizing features. “Those puppies are a bunch of racist, misogynist nazis” or “The CHORFs hate Christianity and white heterosexuals, and want to destroy America.”

    • Alex

      Better idea: The puppy kickers start shunning their radicals. It’s made clear that anyone who behaves as they – including Gerrold – did at WorldCon will be asked to leave, then escorted out if necessary. Issue a public apology on behalf of WorldCon to the nominees who were insulted by Gerrold and company. Offer refunds (or an additional year’s membership, since refunds would likely end WC) to those who were insulted by the officially sanctioned bad behavior toward the Puppies. Make it clear that WorldCon is really as inclusive and open to real diversity as its denizens like to believe.

      Make your rules apply to yourselves first. That will be a big step toward healing the rift. Until then, only Vox is going to win.

      • Make sure to hold your breath while you’re waiting for them to apply their rules to their own actions. Just because they have never, ever done so in the past, is no indicator of future behavior.

        The only way this will even happen is if others (we, that is) force it to happen. And the only lesson that teaches is pain. If it doesn’t hurt, there is no incentive to alter the behavior. Their arguments are emotional, and as such, do not respond to logic. ‘Feelz’ are immune to facts.

        And they can’t shun their radicals. They are their radicals. The radicals are their leaders, their members, their followers, and their supporters. They are nothing but radicals. They are so radical, it’s as if something added an electron to half the atoms in the room. Would normal, decent people vote for Noah Ward over things they hadn’t bothered to read? Would normal, decent people mount concerted campaigns to get authors to shun their own award nominations, just because of who might have voted for them? Would normal, decent people demand that you obtain an author’s consent before recommending someone else read their work? Would decent people cheer and stamp their feet for Noah Ward? Would a normal, decent organization organize, fund, produce, and distribute assterisks, with the obvious approval of the organization, at an organization event?

        This fight started decades ago. We’ve finally deemed it worthy to show up to one of the battles. They created the rift, in the hopes they could shove us down the memory hole. The only reason to bridge the rift is to move siege equipment and recruit new members from the unwitting masses whom they have bamboozled through years of thought control.

        —-
        Why yes, I am an anti-communist. I despise them and their ‘useful idiots’ (of which SJWs are an obvious example) with every fiber of my being. How could you tell?

  16. “”It’s also been established that it’s perfectly OK for members to distribute large numbers of Supporting Memberships to other members to “get out the vote.” Both of those were done by the anti-Puppy side.””

    I’ve heard this as conjecture, but is it verified? DID someone on the anti-puppy side purchase multiple memberships for others?

    • Reality Observer

      Yes. There are multiple links from other people.

      Sorry, Pat, but you’ll have to chase those down yourself – I’m desperately trying to get something done for you to pick apart someday, and the production has been very uneven lately. So I’m taking a little less time on the blogs (not a complete retreat, though).

    • Holly

      Mary Robinette Kowal, the lady who doesn’t know what a Chinese Communist is, offered ‘scholarships’, I believe.

      • Alex

        She was the public one.

        There’s good reason to believe there was at least one large-scale private one as well. Not enough to swing any votes by itself, though.

    • Iridium

      http://maryrobinettekowal.com/journal/talk-with-me-about-being-a-fan-of-science-fiction-and-fantasy/

      Key Paragraph:

      And to my readers — If you can afford it, I encourage you to buy a membership to WorldCon and become part of fandom. If you cannot afford it… I will buy a supporting membership to WorldCon for ten people, chosen at random, who cannot afford it. I am in no way constraining how that member nominates or votes. All I ask is that you read the nominations and join the conversation.

    • snowcrash

      As others have said, that seems to refer to Mary Robinette Kowal’s offer to randomly sponsor 10 (grew to around 70 as other people pitched in) people to support Worldcon. Explicit in the offer is the following:

      I will buy a supporting membership to WorldCon for ten people, chosen at random, who cannot afford it. I am in no way constraining how that member nominates or votes. All I ask is that you read the nominations and join the conversation.

      In the same post, she’s also confirmed that she will decline any nomination for next year (as those members will be able to nominate for Hugo 2016).

      This is pretty similar to what Con or Bust has been doing for many years, BtW.

      • Nathan

        Has Con or Bust’s recognized charity status with the IRS been settled yet?

        • snowcrash

          From their website, dated yesterday:

          As the CBS says in its statement, it will be applying for retroactive reinstatement soon and expects to be reinstated with no difficulty. Retroactive reinstatement means, effectively, that an organization will be considered to have been a tax-exempt organization all along, with no break in its status.

          What does this mean for Con or Bust donors? If you’ve donated money to Con or Bust since August 2013, and you would like to be updated on the Carl Brandon Society’s reinstatement application, you can email con.or.bust@gmail.com with “tax status” in the Subject

        • snowcrash

          Had another, more complete, reply, but it’s stuck in moderation, but as per Kate’s update, they’re applying for a retroactive reinstatement, and you can email them for updates.

    • Nathan

      Arthur Chu’s Twitter post in 2014, tying membership to a No Award vote, is the most naked example of it.

  17. Confutus

    The roots of the conflict lie in the fact that the literary establishment in general and organized fandom in particular are so homogenously liberal. They have become so, and are kept so, because their attitudes toward those who are religious or politically conservative are not liberal at all. They treat those with sneering disdain, ridicule and mock them, and drive them away, and then congratulate each other on their victories and superiority of their beliefs. It has been that way for decades at least. But now, they feel sufficiently bold to tell the whole world in public what they used to tell each other in private. What they do not realize is that the book-buying public is far more diverse, religiously and politically, than they are. By treating the Puppies as a hostile takeover attempt, they are accelerating the process of alienating many of their own fans. It is no accident at all that this has become entangled with the “culture wars”. It could scarcely be otherwise.

    Ordinary readers want heroes who are heroic, or competent, or successful. They want the engineer to be competent. They want the lovers to unite. They want the criminal to get caught. They want the revolutionaries against the corrupt system to establish a better order.

    They want Tarzan to defeat the savage beasts and more savage men of the African jungle and the so-called civilized world and live happily ever after with Jane. They want John Carter to rescue Dejah Thoris. They cheer when she rescues herself. They want Dard Nordis and the Free Scientists to get off earth in spite of the oppressive Pax. They want Thorby to defeat slavery, and the Rolling Stones to make it to the new frontier. They want Ged to defeat the gebbet. They want Miles Vorkosigan to beat whoever is trying to destroy him this book. They want Thomas Covenant to do more than just survive: they want him to prevail over Lord Foul. They want Herris Serrano and Esmay Suiza to defeat the Bloodhorde and the Benignity and the decadent rejuvenants. They want Honor Harringon to defeat the Peeps. They want the Lost Fleet to make it home in spite of everything the treacherous Corporate Worlds can do. They want MHI to defeat the monsters.

    The exact details, the spaceships, monsters, aliens, cutthroat politics, or whatever are decorations on the cake. The cake is that the good guys, or good girls, however those are defined, win, and not too easily. The harder they have to struggle, the sweeter and more satisfying the victory.

    When authors cease to believe in good versus evil, their work degenerates into tastelessness. When their ideas of what is good and what is evil begin diverge significantly from the book-buying public, the book buying public will quit buying books and go to comics, or manga, or movies, or television instead.

    • Birthday Girl

      ” … When authors cease to believe in good versus evil… ”

      This is exactly why I stopped buying books and became a power user at the public library. “They” try to paint it as being more realistic or more nuanced – now, there is a word that has some serious freight attached these days, doesn’t it – but that’s only a way of telling me that I’m too stupid to know what’s best for me.

      With the rise of indie publishing, I can both buy and borrow, depending on my confidence in the author/editor/publisher. Hail Indie!

      • dgarsys

        Why is it that “nuanced” always seems to mean “never outgrew the middle-school realization that life can suck”, just with bigger words? Little or no beauty? Grace?

    • The roots of the conflict lie in the fact that the literary establishment in general and organized fandom in particular are so homogenously liberal. They have become so, and are kept so, because their attitudes toward those who are religious or politically conservative are not liberal at all. They treat those with sneering disdain, ridicule and mock them, and drive them away

      It’s the good old “I don’t have to tolerate the intolerant!” attitude of people who already think they have all the right answers — the rest of us are just too dumb and evil to have figured it out yet. Scratch too many 21st century liberals, and you will find people who not only have limited exposure to alternative points of view, they are openly hostile to the idea that there can be alternative points of view.

      • aacid14

        And the definition of tolerance is believing or acting as if you believe the same as them. You can disagree in mind but may never act on disagreement

    • I disagree. I have a strong idea good and evil, yet can be as tasteless as they come. When someone no longer believes in good or evil, they conclude that both are equally the same. To get to that point, though, one either has to have never met genuine good or evil, and take the self-pronouncements of the evil that they have done no wrong at face value.

      • Confutus

        Well, one can be believe in good and evil, or right and wrong, and be tasteless, and there are people who seem to prefer tales that express a worldview of cynical amorality. But it’s hard to maintain the readers’ interest if they don’t know who to cheer and who to boo. When they are booing your protagonists, you have a problem.

    • B. Durbin

      There is definitely an assumption that you’re liberal. Because of my last name, I couldn’t name a son after my father, because then I’d be naming him after a congressman. When I said this to somebody at Worldcon, he replied, “But he’s a good Congressman,” which assumes that a) I agree with that statement, and b) I’m a member of that guy’s political party. (No to both, as it happens.) I did say that it didn’t matter if the guy were good, because it’s like having the last name of Stewart and naming your kid Patrick. But still.

      On that note, according to my badge ribbon collection, I am a Social Justice NPC. (See “assumptions,” above.)

  18. Bill S

    Thanks Ken for your reflections. I voted Hot Equations first because it best reflected, in my mind, the intent of the category. I voted 3BP first because of its anti-Red Guard (anti-SJW) message.
    Much is being said about how the SP4 recommendations will be compiled and I’m sure Kate is listening to all clear-headed suggestions.
    What we need is transparency from Scalzi and the SJW klan.

    • The odds of getting that are somewhat slim. (I will not rate them as entirely impossible, but it takes a lot to get me to rate things as either certain or impossible.)

    • What we need is transparency from Scalzi and the SJW klan.

      There’s a problem here; will you believe it if they *are* transparent?

      I ask because if you go by the statement that recent Hugo winners were “affirmative action” winners, and people actually, say, really *liked* Ancillary Justice, then waiting for them to be “transparent” and agree with you will have you waiting a long time.

    • The Other Sean

      “What we need is transparency from Scalzi and the SJW klan.”

      Surely everybody can see right through them already.

  19. Pingback: Social Engineer-ing « Unqualified Offerings

  20. jaed

    First of all, thanks for your honest and thorough reflections. I’m sorry that Sasquan was an unpleasant experience; I’d hoped people would be more polite, or at least less hostile, in person than they are on the Internet. I thought The Hot Equations was award-deserving as a related work; it’s not easy to explain highly technical material in such an understandable way, and besides that I loved the title. ;-).

    That being said, and with great respect for the fact that you’re clearly looking for ways to heal the breach here and go back to something like normalcy… I think your suggestions are not realistic because for the most part, they’ve already been tried. The responses have been uniformly hostile. I think we can say that these tactics won’t work. I offer some examples:

    I want that recommended reading list to either put out one or two recommendations per category
    The way that Sad Puppies 2 offered one or two recommendations per category, and was met with a storm of abuse exceeded only by this year’s storm of abuse? The problem is not the number. The problem is that what Larry Correia calls Wrongfans – people who aren’t dialed into the social scene around Worldcon – are expressing an opinion in large enough numbers to affect the nominations, even if it’s only one or two in a few categories. That’s the offense.

    There should also be a clear statement of intent – “These are the works we like.”
    Something like this…? “The SAD PUPPIES list is a recommendation. Not an absolute. Gathered here is the best list (we think!) of entirely deserving works, writers, and editors.” That clear statement of intent was made, and it didn’t put a dent in the abuse.

    I’d much rather have one or two very good works in the category make the final ballot than see what happened in 2015.
    In 2014, one or two Sad Puppies-recommended works made the ballot in a few categories and they were met with rage-spasms. This year, the Sad Puppies list included five novels of which three (not five) were nominated, three novellas (not five), four novelettes (not five), four short stories (not five)… well, I could go on. The point being that it pretty much doesn’t matter how many works Sad Puppies proposes. Any that make the ballot can be expected to have their authors be the target of abuse and slander, and any who don’t withdraw their nominations under this storm will be No Awarded. And that isn’t speculation on my part. You’ve mentioned the abuse you received, and other nominees – both those who stayed and those who withdrew – have told similar stories.

    The No Award contingent was not content to blow up five categories, either. They ranked ALL nominees who had been on either Puppies list below No Award. Some of them boasted openly about not even reading the works. I don’t see any reason to think they won’t follow the same tactic next year: if a given category has any number of nominees who appeared on the SP 4 list, they’ll No Award those nominees no matter what the list looked like or how many entries it had.

    I read the works. I voted honestly according to what I thought of the works, without reference to who nominated them or who hated them or who signal-boosted them. And then I saw what happened on award night – not just the No Awards but the cheering and hollering.

    “Be conciliatory” was tried this year. “Vote honestly” was tried this year. And we all had our faces spat in for it. To follow that tactic again, I at least need some reason more compelling than “Maybe it will work this year.”

    • nerdgal

      I completely agree with jaed.

      Also, if “literary” was the goal, they should have loved John C. Wright. As far as sheer literary skill, I’ve rarely seen his equal. Instead they voted Noah Ward above all his works.

      It’s also kinda funny that Ken objects to the “checkboxes” categorization … and then proceeds to say that there “should be” more women. Now me, I’ve never cared.

      ~ nerdgal
      woman, engineer, SF fan

      • Also, if “literary” was the goal, they should have loved John C. Wright. As far as sheer literary skill, I’ve rarely seen his equal.

        That’s because “having literary pretensions” and “being literary” are not the same thing.

        I was one of the people who followed “read, and no award what you think is unworthy”, and none of Wright’s works made it even past my “Would I be disappointed to see this in Asimov’s” filter.

        I recommend to you “The Man Who Painted the Dragon Griaule”, for example, by Lucius Shepard, as an example of literary SF/F. (Or “The Iron Dragon’s Daughter” by Michael Swanwick, but that’s a novel.)

        I will give JCW credit for ambition — but ambition only gets you so far.

        • Michael Brazier

          _The Iron Dragon’s Daughter_? I read that one some years ago – structurally clever, but nihilistic in its central thesis; a fairyland that manages to be more base and squalid than the world outside my front door. If an attitude of cynical despair is required for being truly literary, I’m glad Wright is just pretending; only the pretense is worth anything.

          • If an attitude of cynical despair is required for being truly literary, I’m glad Wright is just pretending; only the pretense is worth anything.

            It’s not at all required; but the quality of structure, the sentence-by-sentence level of the writing, the character construction — these factors, are, IMHO*, vastly superior to Wright’s work; Wright aims for the markers of “literary” but all too often hits “pompous” instead. It’s not his message I think moves him away from “literary” — heck; I love G.K. Chesterton, for example — but his application of the toolset. Essentially, if you’re looking for literary quality, independent of message, he’s not where most people who don’t *start* with an acceptable message are going to start.

            (Indeed, he admits, e.g., his significant inferiority as a writer to Ted Chiang (to name one), but claims his superiority is based on his better worldview.)

            *all literary judgments are IMHO, since, as always, YMMV. There are people who think Thomas Kincaid is one of the great artists of the 20th century. There are people who think the same of Jeff Koons, of Banksy, and of Anselm Kiefer. Tastes vary.

        • nerdgal

          sschwartzoak –
          You forgot to say “IMHO” in your first comment on Wright — surely an oversight.

          And your comment reminds me of nothing so much as a Russell conjugation along the lines of: “We are literary; you are pretentious; he is a pompous ass.”

          Btw, I love GKC, too, so there’s hope for us both. 🙂

          • Ah, the Russell conjugation! I do love it so. 😉

            And yes; it’s very true. Until the day the Universal Objective Analyzer is built, probably by Trurl (Klapaucius not finding that sort of thing his style), we shall have to keep it all at a subjective level.

            (And if you haven’t read it, I refer The Cyberiad to your attention, as funny SF of a very dry sort.)

      • In general, if women make up half the population, I’d like to see them make up more than ~5% of the protagonists in Heroic Engineer Stories, particularly since the gender of the protagonist is tertiary to the story being told.

        It might encourage more women to read those types of fictions if they see themselves reflected in them.

        • I HATE this. “we must write more minorities so they’ll read more” “we must write more women, so they’ll read more.” It’s particularly galling in a genre in which people read about aliens with pleasure. I’m not yelling at you precisely. To the extent that American women were told they should read “more women” and bought it, though, it’s a loss for civilization. And in terms of “we have to write more minorities” (which I’m aware you didn’t say) it’s INCREDIBLY patronizing. Like tempting toddlers to read with books where the character has their name.

          • Sarah, I’ll point out that David Weber carved a decent niche for himself by writing competence porn about a female protagonist. Not just the Honor Harrington series, but the Path of the Fury series, and even his Safehold series. When he started, he was doing trope inversion. Since then, it’s become a trope of its own…and it’s due for another inversion or two.

            I’d like to see a bit more of that, preferably written by people who have different perspectives. I think there’s room for more female protagonists in Heroic Engineer Stories/competence porn, and in more than a few cases, the story doesn’t really change much by making the protagonist female rather than male.

            • Look, I don’t have a problem with writing it if you want to. And some characters just “are”. But “you have to do this to attract female/minority/etc readers?” Ah, no. I’m a female, I’m Latina. I’m human enough to empathize with people in the far future, I don’t need them to have the same equipment I have, thank you. Again, not yelling at you as such, I just HATE this type of thinking about writers and readers. If that’s what you want to write, great. And some people will write it and if it’s well written I’ll enjoy reading it. (And I write it, arguably.) But not a “we must have inclusive characters to attract.” Ah, no.

              • I’m human enough to empathize with people in the far future, I don’t need them to have the same equipment I have, thank you.

                I don’t think people “have” to include characters of different types — but I think it *does* make for a lower entry barrier to the genre for some people. And I think that’s an advantage for the genre as a whole.

                The problem comes in when some people *within* the genre start feeling like those CODT are “tokens” or “not representative” — but they’re already inside the genre, and they already have a large amount of work that *does* represent them. But by dismissing (or feeling threatened by) work that has CODT, all they’re doing is, well, keeping the genre smaller than it needs to be. Which is an odd inversion when it is (sometimes) those same people, or people they support, saying they want to broaden the field.

                • William Underhill

                  The problem I see is that very often in the structure of a story, the sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity and/or skin colour of the protagonist is really irrelevant. Case in point: Janeway, from ST: Voyager. (Caveat: it’s been a while since I saw any episodes). For the vast majority of the episodes as I remember them, though, the fact that she’s a woman is completely irrelevant to the plot. What’s significant is that she’s the CO.

                  This, then, leads to the reaction “She’s just a token! She’s not significantly female! She’s just a projection of a guy!” What offends in this case is that her sex isn’t relevant to the story, and in some senses it’s a fair cop. It doesn’t make her femaleness special. The problem I see is that if one insists that a character’s sex, or orientation, or skin colour must be significant for that character to be accepted as valid, it rather limits the stories that can be told about that character, and unless very carefully handled, runs a high risk of placing message ahead of story. I don’t say this is bad, necessarily, but it’s not what I want when I’m dropping my own blunt on books. I want a story, first and foremost.

  21. Jeet Heer

    Jim Henley’s blog post responding to this is worth reading: http://highclearing.com/index.php/archives/2015/08/30/18838
    To speak to Henley does seem to me that this post, and many of the responses, are motivated by a kind of white cis male identity politics. I myself enjoy good old fashioned Astounding engineering tales as much as the next person but it’s worth pondering the fact that of all the different ways of doing science fiction — the grand tradition that extends from Mary Shelley to H.G. Wells, to Stapledon to Sturgeon to Vonnegut to Le Guin to Gene Wolfe — the heroic engineer tale is only a relatively minor sub-genre. To regard it as the dominant mode of science fiction — whatever its sales might be — is to really ignore the history of the genre, its immense achievements, and its potential.

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      Just so you all know, here’s what Jeet Heer said on Twitter the other day:

      Jeet Heer ‏@HeerJeet · Aug 28
      Memo to Larry Correia: if you are the junior partner to a monomaniacal nihilistic racist, you aren’t Churchill. You are Mussolini

      • Jeet Heer

        I stand by that tweet! Correia had the nerve to compare himself with Churchill, so I think my response was appropriate. or would you dispute that Beale — who refers to blacks as savages, to himself as the Dark Lord, and who revels in the “chaos” he has created — is a “monomaniacal nihilistic racist”? And if you ally yourself with a figure like Beale — as the Sad Puppies have done — you should be prepared that others will judge you accordingly.

        • You know who you remind me of? Those communists who demand that people confess their sins by self-criticism and accusing others. The left is so intolerant. You’re like Victorian prudes except with a different set of rules.

          • Jeet Heer

            Setting up a slate and getting people to vote along party lines is a political act. In politics you are judged by who you ally yourself with. When David Duke said he supported Donald Trump, Trump wisely said he didn’t want Duke’s support. The Sad Puppies have been less astute in realizing how politics works.

            • dgarsys

              Jeet, why do you hate the women and minorities of puppydom so much?

              You should listen and believe…..

          • Christopher M. Chupik

            Correction: an ever-changing set of arbitrary rules.

        • Nathan

          Does anyone else hear a dogwhistle?

    • jaed

      a kind of white cis male identity politics
      Including those who are neither white nor male, I suppose?

      good old fashioned Astounding engineering tales
      Let’s go to the record, shall we?

      Sad Puppies suggestions that were nominated:
      The Dark Between the Stars – there are competent engineers, along with everything but the kitchen sink. One half point.
      Skin Game – not a competent engineer story.
      “Flow” – not a competent engineer story.
      
”One Bright Star to Guide Them” – not [wheeze, choke] a competent engineer story.
      
”Big Boys Don’t Cry” – not unless a tank can be an engineer.
      “The Journeyman: In the Stone House” – no competent engineers here.
      “The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale” – this is more like “competent spacer”, but let’s give it a full point.
      
“Championship B’tok”
 – no.
      “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium”
 – no.
      “Goodnight Stars” – hardly.
      
“Totaled” – the protagonist is a scientist, but hardly triumphs over all problems. Half a point.
      
“On A Spiritual Plain” – doesn’t look like it to me.
      “A Single Samurai” – er, no.

      Two points, three stories that can possibly be shoehorned into “old-fashioned competent engineer tale”, out of thirteen. The point does not seem consistent with the evidence. Do you have a responsive answer?

      • Jeet Heer

        The phrase “Heroic Engineer Stories” wasn’t coined by me but by Ken Burnside in the post above, to describe a type of fiction that he thinks is not being honored anymore, which explains his initial sympathy for the Sad Puppies movement. If you have a problem with the term, you should take it up with Mr. Burnside. The white cis male identity politics of the genre is implicit in it because historically it has been about white cis males and that is still the default mode of the genre, unless writers make an effort to make a break (which is actually difficult to to for reasons that I think Burnside does a good job of explaining).

        • jaed

          I was replying to your comment, not Ken’s post. You, not Ken, stated that “good old fashioned Astounding engineering tales” are not “the dominant mode of science fiction” – which is true, and which is a straw man in this context. Are you willing to defend that straw man?

  22. srzasa

    Well said, Ken. Much of what you stated here summarizes why I didn’t go to Sasquan. I had a hunch it would turn out as such. Thanks for taking the time to analyze the situation.

  23. Iridium

    Mr. Burnside,

    This is the best post I have seen from either side of this kerfuffle. It quite neatly lays out the specific behaviors that you felt were inappropriate and their impact. It humanizes the other side and presents the arguments that they make in-person, without the distortion of Internet bravado. I finally understand how literary SF fans look at and evaluate literature (although I am still not quite clear on ‘quality of writing’ which I assume is something other than grammar and word choice). I love the fact that you want both sides to come to grips with the literary stylistic divide before tackling the political divide (if ever). Your statement that, in politics, ‘relationships and the truth are the casualties’ ought to be in the header of every social media website.

    In summary, this post highlights and explains the rift, while containing virtually every technique I have ever been taught (and, perhaps more) in how to deescalate interpersonal conflict. It is my deepest hope, that this, and perhaps something equivalent from the other side, can get us closer to ‘agreeing to disagree’ in a Worldcon that includes both sides of fandom.

    Thank you for writing this.

  24. snowcrash

    Hi Ken, Cat Valence recalls GRRMs Alfie party somewhat differently:

    He absolutely did not say “all Puppies are Rabid” or anything of the kind. And he did not “more or less” praise fandom for holding off barbarians. You can tell by the “more or less” that this part is complete bullshit.

    George Martin has advocated against No Award since day one of this mess. He was sad and hurt and astonished by the vitriol like we all have been, but he in no way presented the No Award result as a victory, (why would he, since he didn’t want No Award to take the night) nor the Alfies as the “real award” in any way. Rather, he emphasized that this was all his opinion and his party and his decision, his “grand and futile gesture.” His exact words were: “And yes, there are committee awards, but I am the committee.”

    In reply to your comment over at his latest post, GRRM also doesn’t appear to recall saying that. I understand that you were hurt by what happened, and I’m not saying this to discount your feelings – they are as valid and true as anyone’s. But I fear you may be letting what happened cloud your perception of things that did happen.

    You also say that …Torgersen had his commenters vote to consolidate several recommendations down into one list, and then posted that list publicly as the Sad Puppies 3 list. . I think even Brad will agree that this was not an accurate summation as to what happened, as the comments on his site do not actually tally with the final slate.

    Regardless, I wish you the best, and I hope that Kate, Sarah, & Amanda (have we already suggested The Kindly Ones as a nic for them – Gaiman fanboy here) take your feedback on board for SP4.

    • Your spreadsheet does not include his e-mail and direct messages, so it is not nearly as authoritative as you think it is.

      • snowcrash

        Yes, it was more in reference to what Ken said – there was no voting by the commenters of Brad’s site to curate the recommendation that Brad got. The only ones who know the full numbers and what works were recommended were Brad, and I presume whoever helped him finalise the slate.

  25. Huitzil

    Yeah, you appear to be bending really, really, really far backwards to claim both sides are just as guilty. They aren’t. Sad Puppies did all of the reasonable things you say you wish they could have done; they were repaid for this by being lied about, threatened, and abused. It’s absurd to say that they are at fault for starting this, when to “start this” they said they thought that the Hugos were controlled by an insular ideological clique, and said clique proved they were one hundred percent correct in this perception.

    The Sad Puppies did not make the Hugos a site in the culture war. The culture warriors did. You can tell, because they were the ones lying, abusing, threatening, and doing everything in their power to harm the people who weren’t part of their culture. “Presenting a target for culture warriors to attack” is not a morally blameworthy act. If it was, then we would all have the obligation to never, ever disagree with a culture warrior about anything for any reason. Once the Hugo clique had made this a site in the culture war, and had deployed batteries of culture-artillery to reduce culture-settlements of culture-civilians to dust, Vox Day swooped in and started acting like a turd. But he was only able to do this because of the constant, predictable misbehavior of the culture warriors. He would not have been able to cause the damage he did, if the culture warriors had not been so consistently awful in the ways everyone predicted. Meanwhile, the culture warriors would still be lying, bullying, and threatening anyone who had the gall to not be part of themselves regardless of Vox Day’s actions; because this is what they did before, when Vox wasn’t involved.

    Not everything in life is like an episode of South Park. The existence of two opposing sides does not mean both are wrong and the truth is somewhere in the middle. Sometimes, one side actually is wrong. When one of those sides is relentlessly dishonest and abusive, it is usually that side that is wrong.

    • Replace ‘t__d’ with ‘Ju-87 armed with incendiary bombs’ and the metaphor works a little better. My opinion, for what it’s worth.

    • When one of those sides is relentlessly dishonest and abusive, it is usually that side that is wrong.

      And what about when partisans or loose cannons on *both* sides are relentlessly dishonest and abusive, as has been the case here? We can argue about percentages one way or the other, but the larger point remains the same.

      • Since I call other people out on it, I should call myself on it.

        cannons on *both* sides

        Given that there are at least 5 “sides” — if you consider a side a rough group of people with a roughly similar opinion on a major topic in this dispute — my comment is inaccurate. Partisans and loose cannons on many/all sides.

      • huitzil

        When the “larger point” is that both sides are just as guilty of wrongdoing, and you say that the larger point stands regardless of how much wrongdoing each side did, the “larger point” is garbage.

        There were people who considered themselves Sad Puppies who had no control over their emotions and no sense of scale and who did abusive shit. These efforts were not lauded or supported by Sad Puppies as a group. When Vox Day came in to shit on everything, Sad Puppies made it clear they did not like him or what he was doing.

        The lauded, supported, coordinated efforts of the Hugo defender clique were to tell lies and abuse people. “My opponents are threatening white men who hate diversity, we have to hurt them!” is not just evidence of culture war, it IS culture war. That is what culture war is! That lie is the M-16 of the culture war!

        The Hugo clique did not act reasonably save for a few unhinged partisans; the Hugo clique, as a group, in their group effort that they all supported, told lies in order to abuse people. They celebrated their lie. They made EVERYTHING about the exaltation of their lie. They could not talk about their actions without telling their lie. Everything they did was about that lie. Every time they spoke, they justified their actions by telling that lie. The culture warriors, and nobody but the culture warriors, made the Hugo awards into an official celebration of the Culture Warrior Lie. You cannot act as though the two sides are equal because “Well, EXCEPT for the blatant, malicious, abusive lie that was the basis of every single action they took and position they held, they acted the same as their opponents”. Because that is insane.

        Vox Day is a white man who hates diversity. You know what? He’s also not threatening unless people bend over backwards to allow themselves to be threatened by him. He is powerless to do damage without the help of the culture warriors who claim to oppose him. The “My opponents are threatening white men who hate diversity! We have to hurt them and prevent people from hearing words they say, or they will hurt the precious women and minorities!” narrative is always wrong. One hundred percent of the time. It is never not a lie. Whenever that lie is told, there is culture war going on, and it is the fault of the culture warriors.

        • davidelang

          Actually, as I understand it Vox qualifies as “Native American”

        • When the “larger point” is that both sides are just as guilty of wrongdoing,

          It isn’t. The larger point is that there are people who screwed up on most (if not all) sides of this, and people who tried to act in good faith in all of this. Painting any one side solely with a single brush does no one any good in the long run.

          These efforts were not lauded or supported by Sad Puppies as a group.

          It’s hard to tell that from the outside of the Sad Puppies. A lot of people considered things that, say, Brad did “abusive”, with no sign of trouble. A lot more people feel the same way about, say, John C. Wright.

          ““My opponents are threatening white men who hate diversity, we have to hurt them!” is not just evidence of culture war, it IS culture war. That is what culture war is! That lie is the M-16 of the culture war!”

          And “The evil SJWs want to destroy science fiction and make sure that only their approved works ever get any awards, we have to kick them out!” is the AK-47 of the culture war.

          We can go on and on forever like this — my point is that we shouldn’t.

          And go ask the Rabid Puppies — they’re self-declared Culture Warriors; like some of the Sad Puppies’ very own non-fiction nominees.

          As I said — stuff came from all sides; that you choose to declare that one set of sides had a few bad apples, and declare that everyone you’re opposed to had the same viewpoint (which, for example, I do not hold, though I suspect you’d lump me in with them) just goes to show that it’s a matter of perspective.

          Until you let go of the “We’re innocent except for the people we disavow, but all of you are terrible liars!” narrative, you’re not part of the solution, no matter what that solution ends up like. You’re a culture warrior, and the war ongoing is, partially, your own fault.

          • huitzil

            Except the part where they weren’t trying to kick the SJWs out.

            They tried to nominate works they thought deserved recognition. That is it. That is what happened. That was the explicit goal. That was the end result, for two years.

            The response? That same lie. “You don’t care about science fiction! You are threatening white men who are trying to take away diversity!”

            When the Puppies accused the Hugo clique of being SJWs, it A; did not come with concerted smear campaigns, and B: was borne out by the facts. Because they were. They were SJWs. They were insular and cliqueish and awarded things for being part of the same identity bloc. Their behavior has proven the Puppies correct.

            So, the Sad Puppies said “Our opponents are an ideological clique who are trying to ensure that recognition only goes to things that flatter their ideology and play their identity games.” The behavior of their opponents was exactly what this accusation predicted. To address their opponents, the Sad Puppies recommended things based on what they thought was good, going out of their way for ideological diversity. The focus of their efforts was constructive.

            The SJWs said “Our opponents are threatening white men who hate diversity and are trying to harm minorities and women, don’t listen to them.” This is something that has been a lie every single time it has ever been said, ever, ever, literally without exception, and it will forever be a lie every singe time it is said in the future, ever, literally without exception. The behavior of their opponents did not match what this accusation predicted; they ignored this incongruity and lied about it, if they were even able to perceive it. To address their opponents, the SJWs ceaselessly repeated their lie, in order to cause harm, in every possible avenue they could lie in order to cause harm. They did not argue that their stories were good; they argued, constantly and consistently, that their opponents were bad and and threatening and should be punished. Their efforts were destructive.

            The Sad Puppies said “Someone is doing something wrong. Let’s do something productive to counteract this.”

            The SJWs said “Someone is doing something wrong. Let’s punish them, forever, and never ever ever ever stop punishing them.”

            The Sad Puppies wanted a chance for their view to be heard.

            The SJWs wanted the assurance that no view other than their own would ever be heard.

            You cannot draw equivalency. Every time you try, you just have to ignore most of the facts so you can make the conclusion you want to make. Saying both sides are equally bad does not make you more intelligent. It means you want to be Kyle.

            And if I see you murder someone, and I say “What the hell, you just murdered a guy!”, and you turn around and accuse me of murder, we are not on morally equivalent footing.

            • Here we go again: They were SJWs. They were insular and cliqueish and awarded things for being part of the same identity bloc.

              And your evidence for this is? Nothing other than “We didn’t like it!” and “It wasn’t our stuff!”

              I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt that you *believe* this; that it’s not a lie — a benefit you (and many of the Puppies) seem singularly unwilling to extend to anyone else.

              the Sad Puppies recommended things based on what they thought was good, going out of their way for ideological diversity. The focus of their efforts was constructive.

              Congratulations! You’ve just swept SP1 and SP2 under the rug — while in reality they had a lot to do with how SP3 was perceived. When you start out with “Win me a Hugo!” and then go to “I picked people to piss off the clique!”, are you surprised that people don’t take your “Oh, no, we picked them because we like them and aim for diversity!” without a large grain of salt?

              “The SJWs said “Our opponents are threatening white men who hate diversity and are trying to harm minorities and women, don’t listen to them.”

              Congratulations — you’ve mastered the art of putting words in other people’s mouths, and then calling them liars. {slow clap}

              As I said, and will repeat: Until you drop the “We’re just fine and noble, you all are evil liars!” narrative, you’re part of the problem. A majority of the Hugo voters this year decided that your tactics were dishonorable, and needed rebuking; you can continue trying to argue your pure injured innocence, or figure out how to work *with* the rest of fandom.

              Your choice.

              • David Lang

                The behaviour of the SJW group was bad enough that GRRM made a post about how the puppies were all wrong, and then a couple of days later posted how the actions of (big F) Fandom was proving the puppies right.

                go read all the hue and cry right after the nominations where people were publicly discussing what rule changes they could make to ensure that the puppies would never again get anything on the ballot.

                How about hounding people (including LGBT folks) to refuse their nominations because the wrong sort of people like them.

                How about authors outright telling fans that if they have the wrong beliefs, the authors don’t want the fans to buy their books.

                How many of the people who laughed and cheered at death coming on stage at the hugos, looking for some puppies were the same ones who campaigned to ban someone was going to be the Guest of Honor on the basis that he _might_ make a fat joke and offend some people.

                how about authors who go off on anti republican rants during panels, fully confident that because Fans are smart, everyone in the room must be in complete agreement with them.

                There is lots of proof over the last couple of years, but especially this year, that there is a clique of people who absolutely won’t accept that anyone with dissenting views.

                Is this all of Fandom, no it’s not. But it’s a much larger chunk than anyone outside this clique believed before this year (and they are only the exception because they thought everyone was on their side)

                • David, we could go on and on and on around this — many of the events you list look a lot different from outside Puppydom.

                  But it won’t do any good. You won’t believe when people who withdrew said “No one made me do it” — you’ve already demonstrated that. And that’s just one example.

                  But I’m not going to argue it with you. If what you want to do is encourage more people to read, and nominate what they love, great. If what you want to do is produce a slate to get more people you want on the ballot by co-ordinated voting, expect the same treatment you got this year. If what you want is to “No Award” out of some sense of eye-for-an-eye treatment, then know you’re betraying the field, and the award, you claim to care for.

                  It’s up to you what you want to do — but as long as you see only your grievances, all you’re going to do is pile up more and more of them, as the world fails to conform with your sense of what ought to be fair and right. Not because the world wants to punish you, but because you’re out of joint with it.

                  It’s up to you.

                  • David Lang

                    other than not voting in the future (which I’ve already paid to do), what exactly can I do that will not be perceived as attacking someone?

                    The way I see it, anything I do will be twiseted and considered an attack.

                    Like your dig at “pushing people off of the ballot”, how could I vote and not have my vote push my choices past someone else’s choices? Or if my choices are somehow invalid, please explain exactly how they are invalid? (which will be quite a trick since you don’t know what my votes were)

                    • David, stop trying to be a martyr. If you vote according to the read-it-liked it principle, as I said, you’re fine. I believe you’d feel the same about others.

                      Other than that, look at what you find offensive in others, and avoid it — to paraphrase Hillel.

                      The way I see it, anything I do will be twiseted and considered an attack.

                      Congratulations — now you know how it feels to be on one of the other sides, where (for example) we’ve been told voting “No Award” was, for example, an illegitimate choice.

                      If you are feeling attacked because someone said you voted just for politics, remember that BT made exactly the same attack. Don’t argue “Oh, but he was justified, and I know the people attacking me weren’t!” — just realize that it’s a mirror.

                      Like your dig at “pushing people off of the ballot”,

                      If people lose because they’re less popular with the voters, that’s one thing. If they lose because someone said “Hey, let’s stick the (SJWs/Puppies/Dr. Who Fans/Whatever) in the eye and vote according to a slate to do just that!”, then they were pushed off the ballot. See the difference?

                      Its’ going to take time for everyone to build up trust after the events of the last few years — but constantly rubbing at it isn’t going to help matters.

                      Read, nominate what you felt was best of what you read, and vote for what you think is best. That’s all any of us should be doing. Beyond that, if you venture into self-promotion, slating, or opining about the other sides’ morals, well, people will (clearly) view that as an attack, and you had best be ready for the response. And that goes for any “you”.

                    • This is actually a reply to sschwarzoak, not David – the nesting limit has been met.

                      Congratulations — now you know how it feels to be on one of the other sides, where (for example) we’ve been told voting “No Award” was, for example, an illegitimate choice.

                      The fact that people voting No Award without reading the works is a direct violation of written rules in the voting instructions, and is a response to a LEGAL nomination tactic does tend to blow holes in that martyr’s shirt you’re waving.

                      The IRV ballot is a scalpel. It was left in the toolbox and the toolbox was used as a bludgeon.

                      The packet specifically states to vote on the merits of the work. Not the method they got on the ballot, the merits of the work. It specifically explains that voting No Award is a statement that none of the works below that ranking merits a Hugo.

                      Simply making Vox 6 of 5 again would’ve sufficed in the Editor categories.

                      The tool for combatting slates is the business meetings.

                      So, yes, it was a wrong choice, and one that, strategically, shoved more people into the Rabid Puppy camp.

                    • “Simply making Vox 6 of 5 again would’ve sufficed in the Editor categories.”

                      True in retrospect, but it was impossible know that at the time votes were cast.

                  • Replying to Ken, for the reasons he mentioned in replying to me 😉

                    First off — I was told voting “No Award” *after* reading the works was an illegitimate tactic. That I could abstain, or rank the Puppy candidates from what I thought was least to most odious, but voting “No Award” itself was invalid. That comparison was the one I was trying to give David, when he said that anything he did would be construed as an attack.

                    However:

                    The fact that people voting No Award without reading the works is a direct violation of written rules in the voting instructions, and is a response to a LEGAL nomination tactic does tend to blow holes in that martyr’s shirt you’re waving.

                    Heh. I would not put slate/bloc voting in all caps, were I you. The official document (the WSFS constitution) does not, in fact, require nominators to have read the works — but nor does it require voters to have done so.

                    So any reference to “the rules” goes to the Hugo FAQ, where the same rules apply for voting and nominating. And since we know that some of the nominators didn’t read what they were nominating *for*, the initial violation, if you take either as violations, came there.

                    (If we really wanted to descend into hairsplittiania, I’d say the FAQ says no voting *for* a *work* you haven’t read/seen; nothing about voting for No Award.)

                    But this is all beside the point, as you brought up — all sides are waving shirts of varying degrees of bloodiness, and it’s not as if we can make some ranked list of them all.

                    The IRV ballot is a scalpel. It was left in the toolbox and the toolbox was used as a bludgeon.

                    And, when you need to set a bone, a scalpel isn’t enough.

                    Simply making Vox 6 of 5 again would’ve sufficed in the Editor categories.

                    Well, a fair number of people voted “No Award” on the Editor categories because they think they should be abolished — as per standard. As it was, I wouldn’t have voted for Toni Weisskopf above “No Award”, since I had nothing to base any judgment of her skills on from what was in the packet.

                    The tool for combatting slates is the business meetings.

                    That’s one tool for them. Another is the one that was used.

                    So, yes, it was a wrong choice, and one that, strategically, shoved more people into the Rabid Puppy camp.

                    Perhaps so — but it also delivered a clear message regarding the larger part of Worldcon’s fandom’s view about slating. And given the way the Sad Puppies have been providing cover for the Rabids again and again, the difference does not appear to be as large as some Sads would like us to believe.

                    • The inability to read and follow written instructions is not sign of moral superiority.

                      How To Vote

                      The Hugo Awards use an instant runoff ballot. To vote, mark your choices in each category in order of preference: “1” for first place, “2” for second place, and so on. You are not required to rank all the nominees in any category, and we recommend that you not vote in any category where you are not familiar with the majority of the nominees. If you decide not to vote in a given category, leave it blank.

                      Note that “No Award” is not an abstention; it means that none of the nominees should be given the award in question.

                      So, you’re only supposed to vote in categories where you’re familiar with the majority of the nominees, and you’re only supposed to vote “No Award” if you feel that none of the nominees should get the award in question.

                      This is the plain text of the Hugo Award Voting Instructions.

                      The plain text that, charitably wasn’t read, or less than charitably, was ignored to make a political point.

                      If you read the works and voted No Award, I have no problems with you.

                      If you voted No Award without reading the works, you violated the written rules to exercise political pique. It may be clothed in rhetoric about delivering a message about the evils of slate voting. It was political pique; they’d rather vote “No Award” than consider the merits of the work over the politics of how they got on the ballot.

                      “If Vox Day recommends it, vote No Award in that category.”

                      The people voting “No Award” may think they’re punishing Torgersen or Day. The people they’re punishing are the writers themselves.

                      They may feel that they’re delivering a great denunciation of cheating. They’re sending a great and resounding confirmation that Correia was right: The politics of the person recommending the work trump any consideration of its quality.

                      Can you understand, given the quoted text above from the Voting Instructions packet, how other people do not see this as you do? That this isn’t just facile “He did it first!” arguing a’la a kindergarten recess, but someone forced to decide that the voters are incompetent at reading written instructions, or blatant hypocrites? And there’s a growing body of evidence for the latter?

                      Like I said – my horse in this race is already glue. I’m choosing to believe that I got about 4000 new readers out of this debacle.

                      But I do want you to see that this isn’t just “tit for tat” – there’s a lot of very good reasoning for the outrage at the bloc vote for “No Award.”

                      The Puppies didn’t violate the written rules; the No Award bloc clearly did.

                    • Ken, please: stop trying to argue “Oh, we were fair, but you weren’t, so we get to be angry!”

                      The same reasoning that permits slate voting to be “legitimate” — namely, that there is no rule specifically blocking it — allows block no awarding to be legitimate. Your own quote:

                      and we recommend that you not vote in any category where you are not familiar with the majority of the nominees.

                      Is a recommendation.

                      If the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies viewed recommendations as rules, there wouldn’t have been any slates to be responded to.

                      Don’t get me wrong: I think bloc-no-awarding was a bad tactic. But to view it as some sort of unacceptable massive *escalation* is disingenuous, at best.

                      “The people voting “No Award” may think they’re punishing Torgersen or Day. The people they’re punishing are the writers themselves”

                      And some of them most definitely deserved it — like John C. Wright, who got his well-deserved comeuppance for his utter arrogance.

                      They may feel that they’re delivering a great denunciation of cheating. They’re sending a great and resounding confirmation that Correia was right: The politics of the person recommending the work trump any consideration of its quality.

                      No; the *methods* of the person of the work. I don’t know how many times I have had to repeat this but I suppose I will keep having to. Unless part of being a Puppy is the belief that slates are good and should be used to keep control of the ballot, in which case, yes, that specific “political” belief is the problem.
                      That this isn’t just facile “He did it first!” arguing a’la a kindergarten recess, but someone forced to decide that the voters are incompetent at reading written instructions, or blatant hypocrites? And there’s a growing body of evidence for the latter?

                      I can see why people see it that way. I submit that those people haven’t looked far enough back, but are going “This most recent offense is *qualitatively different* from all the others, and so all the others don’t matter.”

                      Which is nonsense.

                      The Puppies didn’t violate the written rules; the No Award bloc clearly did.

                      As long as you keep trying to say “We’re innocent! You did it!” yes, you’ll raise up anger; anger on your side for being mistreated, and anger from the other side at being misrepresented.

                      Is that what you want?

                      I have not seen a *single* person who *liked* No Award. They may have viewed it as needed, they may have enjoyed schadenfreude at how well it worked — but *no one* wanted it to be this way. They felt backed into a corner. If I admit that I can see why the bloc no-awarding caused ire, can you admit that you can see why people might have felt pushed into it?

                    • huitzil

                      You’re just reaching for every false equivalency you can find. Puppies did a thing, Kickers did a thing, therefore they are equivalent! Even though “voting for things you liked from a recommendation list of ‘here are things you might like'” is nowhere near “voting that an award should be thrown into the ocean rather than given to something you did not read”, it’s not the same ballpark, it’s not even the same sport.

                      Also, if nobody liked ‘No Award’, why was it openly cheered and celebrated at the actual award ceremony? Why are you acting like that didn’t happen?

                    • For the same reason he’s ignoring all the evidence of log rolling and slate voting from previous years by the anti-puppies in the conversation with myself, thereby calling several noted professionals liars.

                    • Even though “voting for things you liked from a recommendation list of ‘here are things you might like’” is nowhere near “voting that an award should be thrown into the ocean rather than given to something you did not read”, it’s not the same ballpark, it’s not even the same sport.

                      As someone above pointed out, we’re somewhat at the Russellian conjugation point here.

                      Because if we phrased it as: “Voting for things because someone told you to because it would piss off a group of people you don’t like” vs. “voting that an award not be given to people who cheated to get onto the ballot”, suddenly, hey! Look! Completely different impression.

                      (And we can go down that path again if you really want, but I suspect it would just be a giant waste of both our time.)

                      Also, if nobody liked ‘No Award’, why was it openly cheered and celebrated at the actual award ceremony? Why are you acting like that didn’t happen?

                      Because every single person there, puppy or not, would rather have been cheering on a winner that they felt had gotten onto the ballot honestly and fairly.

                      Cheering your opponent’s defeat does not mean you like being at war; it does not mean you *like* the weapons. It means you used them.

                      voting from previous years by the anti-puppies

                      Given that the vast majority of such evidence (what little of it I’ve seen) was before there was even the notion of “puppies”, I find this amusing, to say the least.

                      And to make it clear: Had I been aware of any slate nominating in the past, I would have considered it foul play *then*, too.

  26. Finn

    I think you (and several commenters) are misunderstanding EPH; in order to sweep the ballot, you would need to have 4x as many votes for your slate as all other votes COMBINED, i.e. over 80% of voters would need to vote your slate. Furthermore, a slate with fewer works would not become more powerful, and an anti-Puppy voter who used all her nominations would not disadvantage any of the works she voted for by doing so.

    Remember that each round, the least popular work is eliminated, and then the “split” of each vote is re-calculated with that work eliminated.

    If anyone doesn’t believe that this substantially reduces the ability of slates to sweep nominations, then I recommend coding a simulation of it yourself. The algorithm is quite simple.

    • TRX

      As I understand the EPH rules so far, the vote-splitting system would make it difficult to run a “slate.”

      On the flip side, it looks like it would make overrunning any specific category much easier than a straight vote count by conserving your vote for only one entry.

      The trick would be to determine how many vile faceless minions would be needed to overpower a category. If the runoffs are public, that could be done in real time via text message.

      “Ah, Captain. It would have been *glorious*!” – Kor

      • Finn

        If there’s a faction who vote according to the dictates of a leader, then, under EPH, running only a single work will NOT make them any more likely to get on the ballot in that category than running a full slate of five works would.

        • Question… How will it tell? From rumor? From numbers alone? Let me clue you, when people figure out that their vote counts for less if they split it many more people will simply ONLY vote for one nominee, then the statistical ability to see what is a concerted effort will get lost in the ‘noise’ or are you going to assume that anyone who votes for the same thing is automatically a slate, and therefore anything popular will never get on the ballot.

          • dreampodd

            It is a mathematical property of the Single Divisible Vote system.

            Everyone gets a full vote weight which is split evenly between their nominations. The totals are tallied and the least popular item is removed and all of the weight assigned to the removed item is then redistributed evenly on each ballot to those items on it the remain in contention. New scores are tallied, the least popular item is removed, and weight is redistributed over and over until you have winnowed the field down to the desired number of candidates (currently 5, under the 4/6 rule it would be 6).

            The effect is that, so long as at least one of your items remains in contention, that there is no difference between nominating a single item and nominating the maximum permitted number – and in fact there is no reason, other than the difficulty of cleaning the data before processing, to limit the number of nominations.

            • Actually there’s a HUGE difference. One of fundamental kind. If I’m nominating 5 works it is because I think 5 works are worthy. If we are allowed to nominate multiple works, why should one nomination be weighted more strongly than any other nomination? Each pass will still favor those who nominate fewer rather than more works. Why? Because to get past each goal post you have to have a larger concentration of points. The just one nom crowd won’t get rolled in to anything But they WILL have the full point. When things get eliminated, Yes, they will strengthen each individual ballot, but those ballots are likely to be diverse rather than focused, which means the probability of a work getting eliminated because it was on a multi-nominee ballot are much higher than on a single nominee ticket.

              Your question also didn’t answer how they will determine whether a slate is a slate or an actual trend without human oversight, and then with human analysis and oversight, who determines who is neutral enough to run the numbers without letting their own prejudices get in the way? Will books be then assigned a ‘random designator’ so the analysis is done blind?

              Side note: Sorry for the delay, I have no internet at home so couldn’t respond over the weekend.

    • Nathan

      The concern many have with EPH is not that of the sweep, but that it will essentially permanently lock nominations to specific factions, locking out the fans just as certain as 1200 Puppies or 3000 No Awards might. No EPH supporter has yet to address Point B: Permanent Votes because they’re worried about Point A: “slates”.

      • Here’s the thing; IIRC, EPH was designed such that if 15-20% of the people agree a work should be on the ballot, it’ll get on the ballot. Given 5 slots on the ballot, that seems a reasonable assumption. If fandom divides itself into 5 parts, then that’s what we’ll see. Of course, combining EPH with 4/6 makes for an even more diverse potential environment.

        And, given the vehemence of the anti-slate response at WorldCon this year, I don’t think we need to worry about a lot of those people rushing out to form factions to vote together.

        • jic

          “And, given the vehemence of the anti-slate response at WorldCon this year, I don’t think we need to worry about a lot of those people rushing out to form factions to vote together.”

          What was the No Award campaign, but people rushing out to form a faction to vote together?

          • Point. 🙂

            However, I submit there is a difference, and a fairly fundamental psychological one, between “We object to behavior X, but in order to defeat it, we need to engage in it once.” and “We object to behavior X, but we are in a new world where it is now the norm, and must do it ourselves.”

            (It’s also worth noting that it was a “faction” with no leaders, and only one principle.)

            I think we’re more likely to see the people who voted “No Award for Slates” not forming slates than doing so.

            (Speaking as a member of the “read it, judge, and no award as appropriate” group, which had even less cohesion. :))

            • jic

              You’re assuming that the majority of people who voted No Award did so primarily because they were offended by the slates. I don’t believe that was actually the case, I think it was mainly motivated by antipathy towards the puppies, and the slate issue was just a convenient excuse.

              • I think it was mainly motivated by antipathy towards the puppies, and the slate issue was just a convenient excuse.

                That’s something we’ll have to learn over time, I suppose. IMHO, the Puppies made it harder to tell the difference by nominating works that were relatively easy to “No Award”, since they did not meet my own voting standards.

                However, to hearken back to the original point; it would require 3-4 independent groups to develop, each with 10-15% of the electorate, in order to form the kind of slate gridlock that’s feared. If (at a generous guess) half the new voters nominate, and (splitting it down the middle) half the new voters who nominate join some slate or another, that’s…~1200 voters, which means at *most* 3 slates of 400 voters. So that’s realistically not a terribly likely scenario.

                • Oddly, I firmly disagree with you. Nothing I read was worth No Awarding, not even Ancillary Sword which was the work I liked by far the least. I ran out of time before getting to every work, so there were several categories I did not vote in, but nothing I read was so dreadful that I thought that No Award was appropriate. And if I ever manage to scrape together time, I’ll explain at length why. It seems to me the works were less to your taste, and you couldn’t get past that.

                  Example: On Wright, he successfully writes in the style he intends. It is not as natural as it is for Chesterton or Lewis in some of his works. (His short story was an example of this, some of his other works flow in the same style very naturally and draws the audience in appropriately, I’m still piecing together what specific techniques are different) And he had some issues with the subtle shifts needed to tell a story in that style to a modern audience (which may be related to the previous parenthetical), but he writes in the style he intends successfully. More so than The Goblin Emperor which had a very jarring issue with register. It was written in ‘old style English’ without any of the other storytelling conventions so it winds up sounding ‘all forsoothy’ (and I wish I could remember where I heard that term so I could attribute properly) rather than simply drawing the reader into an older feeling world. It did not successfully achieve the style it was aiming for.

                  • Example: On Wright, he successfully writes in the style he intends.

                    And here’s our first point of difference; to me, he doesn’t. And when you put on a difficult style, and fail, your failure becomes all the more apparent.

                    I do not have the Hugo packet in general available to me on this computer, and his website appears to be down, or I’d point to examples.

                    That, combined with heavy-handedness in preaching (the worst example of which, fortunately, the Hugo packet was spared when his Christmas story was removed), made for a work that, had I seen it in an SFnal magazine I respected, would have had me wonder what on earth they were thinking — which is my personal No Award standard.

                    More so than The Goblin Emperor which had a very jarring issue with register. It was written in ‘old style English’ without any of the other storytelling conventions so it winds up sounding ‘all forsoothy’ (and I wish I could remember where I heard that term so I could attribute properly) rather than simply drawing the reader into an older feeling world. It did not successfully achieve the style it was aiming for.

                    And, our second. To me, the names felt alien — they were meant to. The language was somewhat old-fashioned — but the *tone* was consistent, not with the naming-scheme (which it doesn’t need to be) but with itself.

                    Looking at the very first paragraphs, we see a very modern, clean tone. The characters *speak* slightly different, but the language of the narrator is consistent, as is the language of the characters.

                    However, I’ll say this — this drastic split of opinion is one of the reasons I so loathed the slating efforts — because they are designed to ensure that only a narrow (indeed, in one case, one person’s) view of what ought to be on the ballot is there.

                    • And there in you are completely disingenuous. A modern storytelling style with an archaic language is as jarringly wrong as a Just So Story, in the Indian tradition during the narration, with the protagonist walking in going ‘Yo! Dudes! What’s up?’

                      You keep presenting evidence you don’t actually understand the styles you’re failing to analyse. Which forces me to question what basis you are actually using to evaluate the works you voted on.

                      On a technical level, Wright succeeded far more, even in his WORST piece, than the Goblin Emperor did. The Goblin Emperor’s error is an absolutely fundamental error that ANY apprentice storyteller (and I have been doing verbal storytelling both in and out of period styles for 16 years now) should know better than to make. There was no effort that I could discern to blend the more modern approach with the archaic language. At least Wright’s characters spoke in a manner that was consistent with the style of the prose surrounding them.

                      Do you wish to move the goal posts again?

                    • And on slates: The only reason I can think you’re so hung up about slates is you have a bit of a guilty concience. We voted for what we thought was good. Your analysis seems sufficiently flawed that I”m starting to wonder if it’s rationalizing not analysis.

                    • A modern storytelling style with an archaic language is as jarringly wrong as a Just So Story, in the Indian tradition during the narration, with the protagonist walking in going ‘Yo! Dudes! What’s up?’

                      Pardon me my lack of clarity — by “modern” I meant “not deliberately archaic”. As in “not artificially elevated language”. TGE’s narration is not in a style you’d call — what was it? Forsoothy? — but the characters speak in an elevated tone suitable to *them* — when it suits. And when it does not, it is in character, and noted as a break.

                      (and I have been doing verbal storytelling both in and out of period styles for 16 years now)

                      Here’s a quick clue; verbal storytelling and narrative fiction do *not* have the same standards for voice consistency. If you’re applying one to the other (as it appears you are), you’re going to get idiosyncratic judging, to put it mildly. (And as a writer of fiction-on-paper for 20+ years, I am not going to be overawed by your credentials. :))

                      Go look at, for example, the beginning of “The Once And Future King”, and tell me if it is “Arthurian”. It is slightly elevated, slightly sing-songy (though also decades old), but it is not “Arthurian”.

                      Comparing that to the opening of, say, “Parliament of Beasts and Birds”, where, unless you already knew what Wright was talking about, his use of tenses makes the inhabited/not-inhabited state of the city not entirely clear — while a single word would have made it much, much clearer — and you will see my point. Wright aims for elevated and can’t pull it off well.

                      Similarly, looking at “One Bright Star”, just at the beginning, in an effort to maintain a pseudo-English-elevated tone, we get such charming neologisms as “in-of-doors”, the reminder that an old church is 900 years old, and that the charming Irish dockworkers will tell you tales of selkies in their pub.

                      TGE gives us basic narration, speech appropriate to the character, and (to top it all off) a solid story beneath it. Hence, why I voted for one to win a Hugo and the other collection to get a No Award; I don’t think a Hugo winner should be covered in red editor’s ink, and certainly all the Wright I’ve read could benefit from a good editor’s pass (indeed, I would have No Awarded Day’s editor noms purely on the basis of his alleged work with Wright.)

                      As to your other point:
                      And on slates: The only reason I can think you’re so hung up about slates is you have a bit of a guilty concience.

                      Your lack of imagination is not my problem. But try thinking that perhaps, I and many of the other people are being *honest* — and complaining that slate-voting is against the spirit of the Hugos, and, in our opinion, resulted in one person, more or less, deciding what was on the bulk of the Hugo ballot, and we find his taste terrible and his self-interest obvious.

                      No guilt at all.

                    • On credentials: I’m not impressed by yours, either so we’re even. Frankly, I’d expect a 20 year vet of the field to be a better analyst. I presume you mean 20 years as a published author.

                      Is basic consistency in register actually so hard? TGE does not give narration appropriate to the characters. It tries to hide the narrator but the very modern style of narration rather than being invisible to the story, the narrator is prominent, but not prominent in a way that is part of the story (as say the narrator in the Narnia Chronicals is) but prominent in a jarring way. Actually the Narnia Chronicals are a very simple example of consistency of register, as is the Lord of the Rings (but I do not ask anyone to try and be a second Tolkien! I am not so cruel.). I have other issues with the story, but it was this one that most jarred me with the book and was one of the things that bumped it close to the bottom for me. (It wasn’t last, because it wasn’t the worst).

                      Yes, voice matters in the written work. It’s part of the immersion. No TH White does not sound like Mallory (Which is what most people think of when they think Arthur). Nor does he sound like a translation of the original legends in the style of the ancient welsh poets. But his characters speak as if they belong with his opening. There is a connection between the presentation of the dialogue and the presentation of the narration. There is no such connection in TGE. It is as if someone had taken Mallory’s dialogue and then surrounded it with JK Rowling’s prose from Harry Potter. Neither is poorly done on their own, but the two do not match, neither do they favorably contrast to one another to highlight points or enrich the world.

                      Wright has his flaws (and for the record I wound up ranking Wright and The Goblin Emperor at the same level in the one category I ranked him. I didn’t get through the Novellas before the deadline so I did not rank them at all. They have different problems but are actually about equally ‘matched’ in quality in my eyes.) While he succeeded in writing in his intended style. He did not make that style transparent to the audience. I had an advantage over many readers. Storytelling styles, especially in the verbal tradition, which is what Wright was invoking, are a research hobby of mine. I’m still trying to figure out the Russian style and figure out how to translate it into English. I have several projects I want to use it in. This experience means I had little trouble seeing what Wright was attempting to achieve, and what he successfully achieved. I had a few issues with his characterization that I won’t go into here. This reply is long enough as it is (and has a fair ways to go).

                      You have quite thoroughly proven my point. The fact we can sit here and argue this with points for and against the work indicates YES both works are worth nominating because we can go back and forth citing what was done well and what was done poorly. If Wright is unworthy of nomination because he hits your literary buttons wrong, then you must concede that The Goblin Emperor is of exactly equal worth because it hits MY literary buttons wrong. That’s how this works. Yet, you seem to be arguing that one is worthy but the other is not. Why? Because it appeared on what you deem to be a slate? What does that have to do with the quality of the work? You accuse us of not being willing to concede that you honestly evaluate the quality of the works you claim to like. Yet, you do not seem willing to concede that we have legitimate reasons, those same honest evaluations, for liking the works WE claim to like.

                      On your honesty: This is what you appear to be arguing: “Slates are bad! Besides your nominees sucked anyway.” While you are more polite than many who have brought this argument, It is one we have heard repeatedly in very similar phrasings to what you’re using and invariably deeper research into the individual in question . Which is why I say you are disingenuous. And why I do not think you are at any perceived slating. If you had been, you would have been up in arms over the past 20-ish years. You do not. So either you are utterly unaware of the back ally dealings which even, as I mentioned in my first post, a large swath of professionals in the field (Stephen King, Jerry Pournelle, David Freer, George RR Martin to name the ones I have personally seen accounts from) have admitted openly have been going on, or you are afraid to have your career threatened by those who control the award, or your objection is to who is doing the nominating not to anything procedural. With your 20 years out there have you said ANYTHING? Were you afraid of saying anything? (As people have been, Sarah Hoyt has accounts on her blog of her own experiences here.) Did you simply not care? Did you not know? With that many years in the field if you did not know, how could you not know?

                      From the evidence I have seen, the Sad Puppies have been far more upfront, above board, and less slate like than anything that has gone on in the past 20 or so years. For an accounting of the evidence, search ‘nostradumbass’ on this site. If you have connections in the field, by all means do some quiet digging. If you are honest, as I hope you are, enter it acknowledging that there is a possibility that you are wrong. I do not ask that you accord this possibility a high probability. Look up the records Dave Freer mentions. We’re not going to persuade you. Go, see for yourself.

                    • (omitted — more back-and-forth about literary questions, because we appear to have reached the point of “our axioms/goals are different” and that’s all there is to it.)

                      You have quite thoroughly proven my point. The fact we can sit here and argue this with points for and against the work indicates YES both works are worth nominating because we can go back and forth citing what was done well and what was done poorly.

                      No, it doesn’t; it indicates that we both feel our respectively-championed works were worth nominating. Which I have never disputed. If you like it, and feel it was well-done, it’s worth nominating to you. If I consider it a piece of thinly-plotted pastiche of far better work done by other people, it’s worth No Awarding to me.

                      If Wright is unworthy of nomination because he hits your literary buttons wrong, then you must concede that The Goblin Emperor is of exactly equal worth because it hits MY literary buttons wrong.

                      Not at all; I can concede (and do) that they have equal value in each other’s eyes, but that’s all I can do.

                      Why? Because it appeared on what you deem to be a slate? What does that have to do with the quality of the work?

                      This is why I keep emphasizing the issue of slates; if Vox Day had never put out his call for people to nominate “exactly as I list them”, and JCW had managed to get on the ballot (an unlikely event, given his past history and subsequent rejection), he would have been a legitimate nominee. I still reserve the right to “No Award” work that doesn’t live up to a Hugo standard.

                      This is what you appear to be arguing: “Slates are bad! Besides your nominees sucked anyway.”

                      1) Slates are bad. However, I was not among the people who decided to “No Award” solely on the basis of slate appearance — a tactic which many people here disclaim.
                      2) And I felt that many of the slate nominees *were* subpar for the Hugos, and deserved their no-award.

                      So, I voted No Award not because they were slated, but because I didn’t think they were good enough, yes.

                      You appear to be arguing that “If someone thinks they were good enough, then they were good enough and shouldn’t be No Awarded”. That’s when the question of how they *got* there becomes even more important.

                      And why I do not think you are at any perceived slating. If you had been, you would have been up in arms over the past 20-ish years.

                      Show me, please, the calls for slating in the past 20 years. Show me the people going “We think these are the right people to vote for because *those people* have stolen the Hugos from us. Show me the “if you respect me, you’ll vote exactly this”.

                      I object to slates. Period.
                      I object to slates that, in my opinion and judgment*, lower the quality of the work presented to the ballot drastically even more, yes.

                      If you are honest, as I hope you are, enter it acknowledging that there is a possibility that you are wrong. I do not ask that you accord this possibility a high probability. Look up the records Dave Freer mentions. We’re not going to persuade you. Go, see for yourself.

                      I’ve done this work, before I waded into this whole mess. And no, I’ve not seen anything *close* to what the Puppies (especially Rabid, but given the history of the Sad, they get little credit) did this year, save for cases (like the Hubbard novel voted below no-award) that were similarly treated.

                      What I’ve also seen is other groups that felt underrepresented have gone off and created awards of their own, and made those into great successes.

                      *which is the yardstick I’m supposed to use when nominating and voting.

                    • @sschwartzoak, are you actually looking at what you’re saying? You want US to consider that other people might find a work worthy and look for the qualities there of as well as what we look for yet you refuse to reciprocate in the case of Wright (Or you don’t want to admit you don’t know enough about the style to actually tell if he achieved it or not, I’m not sure which). If we can’t discuss the literary merits of the work then you really are just basing all this on politics, which again, proves my point. The literary discussion is the part that should be keeping this whole thing going, but it’s the part you want to close out. Once he was on the ballot he was a legitimate nominee. You, yourself, have admitted to putting politics above quality of writing, yet you claim to be ‘honest’ in your no award votes. I’m not seeing the evidence and your side does not have the credibility for a presumption of honesty.

                      You didn’t look up David Freer’s post did you? You said you read GRRM’s back and forth with Larry Correia. In which he says slates have ALWAYS been part of the hugo process. Have you talked to Dr. Jerry Pournelle? If you can’t see the slates in the old process, then ‘slate’ to you means ‘people I don’t like voting for things they like. Yet again. you are disingenuous or willfully ignorant.

                    • @sschwartzoak, are you actually looking at what you’re saying? You want US to consider that other people might find a work worthy and look for the qualities there of as well as what we look for yet you refuse to reciprocate in the case of Wright

                      OK: Which part of this didn’t you understand: “Which I have never disputed. If you like it, and feel it was well-done, it’s worth nominating to you. If I consider it a piece of thinly-plotted pastiche of far better work done by other people, it’s worth No Awarding to me.”

                      I am perfectly willing to consider that you feel “One Bright Star” was well-done and worth nominating.

                      (Or you don’t want to admit you don’t know enough about the style to actually tell if he achieved it or not, I’m not sure which). If we can’t discuss the literary merits of the work then you really are just basing all this on politics, which again, proves my point. The literary discussion is the part that should be keeping this whole thing going, but it’s the part you want to close out.

                      We can discuss it; you and I appeared to be coming from such radically different literary perspectives, and taste perspectives, that we’d gotten down to “Yes it is!” “No it isn’t!”, which didn’t seem worth pursuing.

                      For example: I do not feel that, provided it does not step over into complete bathos, having characters in a book speak in, at times, an elevated tone (when they are required by the plot to do so) and, at other times, in much less of one (e.g. Maia’s discussions with his nieces & nephew), while maintaining a style that does not feature either an especial attempt to be elevated, nor anachronisms, is a bad thing. I do feel that writing *poorly* in an elevated style is a bad thing, and I feel that Wright does so.

                      If you want to keep going with that, you can; but as we lack l”objective” literary standards, it’ll be rather difficult.

                      Once he was on the ballot he was a legitimate nominee.

                      You keep stating this as if it’s objective fact, which it isn’t — it’s part of the argument at hand. If he got on via slating — via people nominating work they hadn’t read — he got on through illegitimate means.

                      You, yourself, have admitted to putting politics above quality of writing,

                      IF that’s because I consider slating dishonest, then I’ll point out that seeing it as legitimate is no less a “political” stance.

                      yet you claim to be ‘honest’ in your no award votes. I’m not seeing the evidence and your side does not have the credibility for a presumption of honesty.

                      And yet you expect anyone who isn’t a Puppy (since there are many non-Puppies of different viewpoitns) to accept that of course, you did what you did out of the purest of motives (since you were striking back against slates that only those who already agree with you can see) and you all read all the works and chose the ones you thought were best and that just *happens* to produce a very similar effect to slate voting.

                      No “side” as far as I can tell has much credibility across the Puppy-divide.

                      You didn’t look up David Freer’s post did you? You said you read GRRM’s back and forth with Larry Correia. In which he says slates have ALWAYS been part of the hugo process. Have you talked to Dr. Jerry Pournelle? If you can’t see the slates in the old process, then ‘slate’ to you means ‘people I don’t like voting for things they like. Yet again. you are disingenuous or willfully ignorant.

                      You don’t seem to get that people can read your evidence and find it wanting. Which is what I have done.

                      As I said at the beginning: You’re free to like John C. Wright. You’re free to nominate him. And I’m free to, as I’m supposed to do, use my judgment of the quality of the work and decide whether to vote him above or below “No Award”. And I voted his work where I thought it deserved to be — below “No Award”.

              • If they voted No Award after reading the works and voting their conscience, I have no problem with it.

                If they voted No Award either because of anger over slates and “cheating” or out of “Hates the Puppies,” then they violated the written rules on the voting guideline, and in EITHER case, voted politics over quality of the work.

                Which, IMO, proves Larry’s contention.

                I don’t care about picking over the bones of the cause of the conflict.

                I care about going forward.

                • dgarsys

                  Well, some will argue they voted for quality because politics is a form of quality (and anyone thinking communism is the most oppressive form of government should be drugged and tossed into the ocean from a plane)

                  And I’m not so sure this is a literary war rather than a literary battlefield.

                  Many now claim they read the works, but many at first voewd not to even look at them and simply vote no award.

    • davidelang

      you only need 4x as many votes as everyone else combined if there is commonality between ‘everyone else combined’. If there isn’t a lot of commonality, then those other ballots consolidate down to one work and then vanish.

    • It is entirely possible that I misunderstood EPH; even if it’s as ‘weak’ as I think it is, it’s a step in the right direction. It looks very much like having 4x to 5x as many votes as any non-slated nominees would carry an entry.

      Even if it’s “weak”, if combined with 4/6, it does require two “colluding” slates to have roughly 40-45% of the nominations between them to lock out a category.

      Combine this with more nominees, and the problem probably solves itself in 2017.

  27. Sorry Sasquan ended up so unpleasant. I had a blast until the hate-fest at the awards ceremony. I also need to order another T-shirt from you. The-admiral-my-father covets my planet-busting one. I hope Quizzer and I weren’t among the campaigners to end puppy-related sadness that got on your nerves: we had fun meeting you.

    • B. Durbin

      Yes. I had a great time at the convention, but the aftermath of the Hugos (which I did not attend, though I caught the first part at Guinan’s) really put a sour note on the whole thing. I went to the Time Traveler’s Ball afterward and one lady kept trying to get me to talk about the Hugos. “I don’t watch award ceremonies; I think they’re boring.” (This is true.) “This one wasn’t.” “I caught the first part and was still bored.” (This followed by repeated attempts to engage me on the subject, because she definitely wanted to gloat.)

      And I kept passing by conversations where people were using language like “putting the Puppies down.” It wasn’t pleasant, especially since I was there for a party, dammit, not in-group affirmation. It made me glad I wasn’t going to be going to the Closing Ceremony, since I was going to be spending the afternoon with local friends.

      Incidentally, I should note that there were a lot of people at the convention who acted with grace and tact, as well as a whole slew of first-timers who were not in on any sneering behavior. I particularly want to mention artists and costumers as two groups who seemed largely out of the hate-fest, and most of the filkers seemed to be of the opinion that things like the Hugos were less interesting than having a room to play in.

    • I had fun meeting you folks too. It was mostly the people who wanted to see the big booms from the cultural warfare artillery that irritated me and made me leave.

      I pretty much enjoyed the convention up until the Hugo ceremony. I enjoyed some aspects of both after-parties I attended.

      I’d be interested in going to MidAmeriCon II if it’s NOT going to be “Death Throws of the Rocketship: The Burnening.”

      Contact me through my website on the needs for a tee shirt, and we’ll work something out.

      • Thanks for writing this whole piece. I found it fascinating. Very long, but I read every word. There were plenty of moments in this to make every side wince. Not one of our finer hours as a species.

        Of all the people involved, GRRM’s actions and words have annoyed me the most, because he is using his grand stature to complete squash anyone who disagrees with his take on this. Hosting a Hugo Loser party, fine. Giving out awards to “those who should have won”? Way past the line of good taste.

        • I’m not going to knock George for that. If you accept one of his positions as axiomatic (“everything on a slate shoved something worthier off the ballot”) it’s the right thing to do.

          I don’t have to agree with his position to respect his integrity in holding to it. The Rabid Puppy Slate was a horrible event in the Hugos; on that, George and I agree.

          Tempers flared. Mine was flaring. This piece got edited until the flamethrowers got toned down on both sides…

      • B. Durbin

        ‘I’d be interested in going to MidAmeriCon II if it’s NOT going to be “Death Throws of the Rocketship: The Burnening.”’

        Or you can skip the ceremony entirely and spend it in the game room with a bunch of other people who don’t care. If I’d not had the baby to worry about, I would have been filking.

  28. Thanks Ken, for your take on the Hugos. It really does help to hear a personal account, and I can see you’re trying very hard to be fair and even-handed, which I appreciate.

    I do think, however, that you slip in accepting the arguments of the anti-puppies about “slate voting” as the Evil That Must Be Destroyed. The fact that we’re carefully parsing the exact number of recommendations that must be on a recommendation list in order to avoid being a “slate” really makes it feel silly to me. It’s not a slate if you have only 2 or 3 recommendations per category, it’s not a slate if you have 8 to 10 recommendations, but it *is* a slate if you have 4 or 5 recommendations? Sorry. I call bullshit on that. Coming up with recommendations is hard. I’m not going to fault somebody for not being able to list more.

    Also, from the really similar reaction to the 2014 Sad Puppies and the exact same (if somewhat quieter) outrage, and the no-awarding of the couple of Puppy nominations… I have a hard time believing that the Slate Outrage is anything but a convenient talking point.

    In addition, whether or not something is an Evil Slate seems to depend on how successful it is, which also makes me not believe in the complaint. If somebody comes up with a recommendation list and only a couple of things get nominated, it’s not a slate. If there’s a recommendation list and a bunch of them gets nominated, it *is* a slate. This makes it clear that the problem is not the recommendation list, but the success of it. Which means that it’s really all about the wrong people having successful nominations.

    • I can see your position; I don’t agree with it, but I agree with its consistency.

      I can take it as a received postulate that the outrage over the last two years is a good prima facie case for “Larry was right.”

      What’s the next step?

      • davidelang

        I see three paths

        1. give up and abandon the Hugos to the clique and let it become worthless

        2. an ongoing fight that destroys the hugos as the same people do the same thing again and again, getting angrier every year

        3. get enough people involved so that the original clique, Rabid Puppies, and Sad Puppies are all small enough that none of them dominate.

        I don’t see #1 happening.

        I think the nominations next year is going to tell us which of 2 or 3 is going to happen. If a large percentage of the new voters nominate (even if they use suggestion lists), then I think we have a real path forward. If they don’t, I think the Hugos are going to die.

        Even if next year is dueling slates, getting more people involved will be a step forward, and “slate discipline” is going to be very poor over time. Next year there is enough anger over things from this year that I think it’s going to be the high point of adhering to slate.

        • jaed

          It’s worth noting that 3 (expand the nominating pool enough that no group can dominate) is a victory condition for Sad Puppies.

          • I’d say that it is a victory condition for fandom to get more people involved.

            I can’t see it as a victory condition for the Sad Puppies except in as much as they will be convinced they’ve defeated the giant having charged at a sufficient number of windmills.

            • Alpheus

              I have seen enough blog posts and comments from Sad Puppy supporters to confirm that yes, #3 is a victory condition for the Sad Puppies, hands down.

              If you think about it, this is the logical conclusion one would make from the axioms that “a small clique controls and chooses the Hugos, and this is bad”, and “the anyone who pays for membership can nominate and vote for the Hugos”: announce loud and clear, to everyone who loves SF&F, that you, too, can nominate and vote for the Hugos, and vote for things you like! and then get everyone out to vote.

              Even with the current rules, this will destroy the control that the current clique has, if what the Sad Puppies say is true. Even if it isn’t, is it really a bad thing to get more people involved?

  29. WomanWhoWeaves

    I was a first time Hugo voter this year. I paid for my own membership.
    There were categories in which I did not vote. In no category in which I voted was No Award my first choice. Mostly, if I was unable to finish the work it went below No Award, the exception was 3BP, because I think I could finish it another time, but I did not put it first. If a list of 10-20 Stories, Novelettes and Novellas were put out next year by a “conservative/libertarian” group, I would try to read them all. I do not promise to buy and read that many novels. Some of the “Puppy” stuff did not appeal to me. Some of it was bad.

    I can enjoy competence porn regardless of the gender, sexuality, and cultural/ethnic/racial identity of the protagonist. The reason Lois McMaster Bujold is the master she is, is because she writes characters as well competence. Falling Free is straight-white-male engineer competence porn. Her next book is going to be…something else.

  30. WomanWhoWeaves

    I was a first time Hugo voter. I paid for my own membership. I did not vote in every category (Sorry Ken, I ran out of time). With one exception, in every category in which I voted I attempted to read every entry. With one exception if I didn’t finish it, it went below No Award. In no category in which I voted was No Award ranked first. I will be nominating for Worldcon74. Give me a list of things you think are good, and in the novella, novelette and short story categories, I will read them. I am not promising to read a 10-20 novels.
    Some of the puppy choices were excellent. ‘Totaled’ and ‘Ashes to Alluvium’ stood out. Some didn’t interest me. Some was awful.
    One of the reasons Lois McMaster Bujold is who she is, is that she writes confidence porn with interesting characters: Straight-male-engineer; gay-male-ob/gyn; widowed middle aged straight woman with a history of mental illness, teenage biracial female metalworker. All of these characters end up saving the world. Even that-idiot-Ivan managed it in the last book!

    • B. Durbin

      Took me a minute to figure out that last referenced character. I’m sure a lot of folk don’t even know that book exists (I found it used.)

  31. WomanWhoWeaves

    cc

  32. WomanWhoWeaves

    I have attempted to post twice, sorry if this is a repeat.

    I was a first time Hugo voter. I paid for my own membership. I did not vote in every category (Sorry Ken, I ran out of time). With one exception, in every category in which I voted I attempted to read every entry. With one exception if I didn’t finish it, it went below No Award. In no category in which I voted was No Award ranked first. I will be nominating for Worldcon74. Give me a list of things you think are good, and in the novella, novelette and short story categories, I will read them. I am not promising to read a 10-20 novels.
    Some of the puppy choices were excellent. ‘Totaled’ and ‘Ashes to Alluvium’ stood out. Some didn’t interest me. Some was awful.

    One of the reasons Lois McMaster Bujold is who she is, is that she writes confidence porn with interesting characters: Straight-male-engineer; gay-male-ob/gyn; widowed middle aged straight woman with a history of mental illness, teenage biracial female metalworker. All of these characters end up saving the world. Even that-idiot-Ivan managed it in the last book!

  33. “Three days before the ballot was released, the editor of Amazing Stories started the campaign for No Award on all the categories that were nominated by Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies. This was the first “high profile” source treating them as interchangeable. This was the first hint that the slates had worked…and was clearly a leak by someone breaking the “please don’t reveal this information” instructions.”

    One day before I wrote that post, a nominee who appears on a puppy slate announced that he’d been nominated. I state as much in the opening of the article that Ken references – http://amazingstoriesmag.com/2015/04/ill-casting-final-hugo-vote/

    • jaed

      That was one nominee in one category. Where did you get the information about other nominees in other categories, which you reference in the article?

      It seems to me that this is a reasonable question. Obviously you had some idea that there was more than one Related Work nominee that had been on the Sad Puppies list – Kratman being nominated would not have been enough to provoke that article.

  34. jaed – from having 42 years of experience with rhe Hugo Awards and the SF community; from reading multiple blogs and FB posts and articles and tapping into the zeitgeist.
    I also predicted the final outcome with 82% accuracy.
    It’s pretty easy when you know the community.