Perils of Division and Conflation

The Dragon Award winners have been announced – and congratulations to all of them – which has led to some unseemly behavior in the comments of Dave’s latest post. I’m not call anyone out by name, because that’s not what this post is about. It’s about the all too human behavior that’s behind the actions.

We all tend to focus on the things that divide us from those who disagree with us. We also all tend to group everyone who doesn’t agree with us into a bucket labeled “the enemy” or more often simply, “them”. Last year, I deliberately crafted Sad Puppies 4 to try to bridge that divide. I chose to enter what might be considered (if you use enough irony) the heart of the enemy stronghold and attend last year’s WorldCon.

I made those choices because I was as close to certain as it’s possible to be without having the evidence laid out in front of you that most of the people who would be there would be just… people. Science fiction and fantasy fans celebrating our genre. I did not go there looking for enemies, which is just as well because I would have been dreadfully disappointed if I had. I didn’t find any enemies. I did find several new friends, not all of them from the lachrymose canine side of the fence.

Now, as I said, it’s human to band together into groups and assume that everyone in those other groups follows everything the loudest or most obnoxious members of said groups happen to say. The problem with fandom is it simply doesn’t work that way. We fans are horribly vulnerable to a power-hungry maniac because for most of us our inclination is to say something like “eh, so long as the books are good who cares?”. Fortunately we’re probably also frustrating as all heck to said power-hungry maniac for much the same reason. Power-chasers can’t get far without dedicated minions, after all.

The thing is, the Hugos and WorldCons are a very loose alliance of multiple different groups. The Hugo administrators I met last year were all the kind of people I can respect, and many of them objected to the proposals aimed at keeping “unwanted” works out of the ballots. Once those proposals are voted in by the membership at large, the administrators of the current Hugo become obliged to uphold them as best they can. This is rule of law and democracy. It doesn’t mean the administrators are in any way corrupt.

Nor, when people who have devoted much of their lives to the awards (and taken little if anything in recognition or compensation) choose not to speak about their misgivings, does it mean that they are doing anything more than avoiding damaging an already tarnished reputation further. At this point, airing the dirty laundry in public isn’t going to help anyone, and it could be seriously detrimental.

It’s easy to conflate the Hugo administrators – who collate the votes, hold the meetings, and follow the rules – with the WorldCon administrators (who, yes, run the WorldCon – including the Hugo ceremony) – but it does both groups an injustice. The Hugo award ceremony is pretty much entirely the work of the subcommittee in charge of it and the appointed toastmaster. It’s got nothing to do with the Hugo administrators (who I suspect don’t want it because they’re generally too busy dealing with other matters as well as their everyday lives which have to be factored in there somewhere).

For that matter, how often have folk on this blog bitched about being conflated with some of the more… ahem… outspoken (or in some cases, unhinged. Not that we’re without sin in that regard – we are the Mad Genius Club, after all) of Vox Day’s supporters? It doesn’t help.

And when it comes down to it, most folk who read and comment here or go to DragonCon or follow the Dragon Awards have much more in common with most of the fans who go to the WorldCons and follow the Hugo awards than we do that’s different. With relatively few exceptions we’re more interested in finding science fiction and fantasy that speaks to us and leaves us enthralled than we are in playing politics or arguing over (to borrow from Pratchett) the third sub-clause in the twenty-fifth subsection of point five of our respective reader manifestos.

So can we please stop and check whether we’re conflating things that aren’t the same or widening small differences before we hit Send. Because we all know that once we’ve hit that button it’s out there for all eternity to embarrass the living heck out of us.

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113 responses to “Perils of Division and Conflation

  1. Kate said: “With relatively few exceptions we’re more interested in finding science fiction and fantasy that speaks to us and leaves us enthralled than we are in playing politics or arguing over (to borrow from Pratchett) the third sub-clause in the twenty-fifth subsection of point five of our respective reader manifestos.”

    I agree with that. I friggin’ hate going to the bookstore and finding nothing to read. That was the reason I joined the Sad Puppy Alignment in the first place. If one can be said to have “joined” something like that, which has no real membership.

    I was feeling a bit militant about it when Sad Puppies 4 was announced, but upon reflection I decided that your approach was reasonable, and supported it. You gave Them (the un-named, looming Them) every single thing They said They wanted. Truly, an olive branch in the full sense of the classic reference.

    So, naturally, They set the olive branch on fire and threw it in your face, all over the Internet. Because who we are dealing with is -exactly- the dorks who are “arguing over the third sub-clause in the twenty-fifth subsection.” They really are more interested in politics than good stories. To them, a “good story” is one that forwards their politics.

    They don’t want to play nice. They aren’t going to. My father used to say when we were kids, “It takes two to tango,” a popular turn of phrase at the time. As I get older, my rejoinder is: “Maybe, but it only takes one guy to start swinging.”

    That’s why I supported Sarah Hoyt’s Sad Puppies 5 decision to not participate with them this year. I’m not paying $40 US to an organization whose rank-and-file members are screaming “FIGHT ME!!!” at me personally on the interwebz. I don’t want to fight with some fat guy in a mobility scooter.

    With the Dragons, the situation is even more ridiculous. Presently we have a last minute effort by avowed Leftists to inject their politics into the proceedings, while all along we’ve had manifesto after manifesto from avowed Conservatives (and whatever Vox Day thinks he is) trying to inject -their- politics.

    From the nominations and the awards, I think generally they were all roundly ignored by the voters. That’s a really good sign. It means people still care about the Science Fiction part more than the politics part, despite the rules lawyers, nit pickers and blowhards.

    That’s what I’ve been wanting all this time. Screw the politics. Tell me a story.

    Going forward, the issue I see is visibility for self-published authors. There is a huge volume of work out there that is completely invisible to the general run of publishing industry awards. Somewhere in that immense slush pile is an author whose characters will make me weep with joy and scream “YES!!!” when they win the battle, or get the girl, or whatever.

    I want to find that guy or girl. We should collectively do something about that.

    • Re. visibility. Once again we discover the problem of trying to get the individualists to organize. And I’m as guilty as everyone else about not promoting books that I enjoy.

      • The visibility problem was solved by Larry with Sad Puppies. EVERYBODY can see us right now, and despite the fact that we’re not doing anything, they simply won’t shut up about us. That’s why Vox Day keeps going after the Hugos, it keeps him visible. Otherwise he’d sink back into the swamp.

        Peter Grant’s post this morning quantifies it. “Today, as I write these words, Amazon.com reports that there are 5,533,182 publications available in the Kindle Store. The number is increasing by 50,000 to 100,000 per month – I’ve checked it over the course of this year.”

        Unfortunately, most of it is crap. Sturgeon’s Law. 90% of everything is crap.

        A job we, the herd of cats, can be effective at is sorting. Sad Puppies is an alignment of -taste- more than anything else, in my estimation. As a writer, trying to emulate Correia Senpai, the best thing I can get (besides money!) is positive feedback. Readers saying “this is what worked for me in this book” is solid gold. If they didn’t like it because that’s not their thing, that doesn’t help me write better. It just means it isn’t their thing. But that is still valuable for other readers. Identification of shared taste and a willingness to cooperate with other people is a powerful thing, and we already have that here.

        So, if Sad Puppies Inc. started an effort to dig out the gold in that massive slush pile, I think we could all do really well for ourselves and for the SF/F genre as a whole. Sarah Hoyt said as much, if I understand her posts on the subject. There could be a reviewer form, a leader board and a NoPrize Award at the end of the year.

        Sarah of course is busy trying to stay healthy and afloat. If we need to wait for Sad Puppies 6, I can live with that. Or, the Mad Geniuses could host a weekly suggestion thread. I also have The Phantom Soapbox, with its very impressive traffic of Chinese and Russian bots. I could be convinced to host a weekly suggestion thread, until such time as a proper Official Thing could be put up.

        Just a suggestion, I hasten to add, recalling the last time somebody decided to be “helpful.” Not trying to stick my oar in. Just sayin’.

        However, this is a need I see unmet in the market at the moment, making it an opportunity. See a need, fill a need…something something… Profit! ~:D

        • Kate Paulk

          I do like the idea of a regular suggestion thread. Now to come out of semi-hibernation and propose it to the rest of the Mad Genius Club

          • You mean… actual interaction with virtual people? Or is that virtual interaction with actual people?

            Sounds dangerous, either way. People are strange. Books are awesome. Might be worth the risk. Maybe.

          • Yay, constructive achievement unlocked!

          • Uncle Lar

            You know some of us have been tap dancing around that concept since at least Sad Puppies One, some device/mechanism/process whereby readers had the ability to sort through the chaff and find their very own nuggets of gold. Amazon and Kindle ran over the gatekeepers and smashed those suckers flat, but in the process they opened the floodgates and IMHO skewed the numbers of Sturgeon’s Law to the point where it’s now 99% of what’s out there is crap. Readers driven away from SF&F by the horrid junk in the Hugo lists are sticking with old favorites or depending on word of mouth recommendations from friends because the sheer volume of e-books available overwhelms them.

    • “It takes two to tango,”

      Aye, but it really only takes one to say “You are not going to change my mind, and I am not going to change yours, so how about we drop it.”

      If they drop the matter we can find something else to talk about. If they keep trying to argue, or force me to take a position, I will walk away. (or in the case of two internet conversations, ignored the rest of the thread.)

      • snelson134

        And that is the whole point of “You will be made to care. You won’t be allowed to walk away peacefully; you will be bullied legally and otherwise until you confess your love for Big Brother.

        • snelson134, reading that sentence really put my Scottish blood up. All I could see was red there for a minute. Holy crap, you’re going to give me a blown valve. ~:D

          • snelson134

            Then you might want to take bp meds before reading this:
            http://thefederalist.com/2017/09/06/transgender-crusade-made-rethink-support-gay-marriage/

            “These individuals even send tweets to my husband and employers, perhaps in hope that they will use their power over me to get my opinion in check with The Approved Position.

            One Twitter follower who “favorited” a tweet of mine about my view on transgenderism even received an email from a stranger demanding to know if her decision to “favorite” my tweet meant she agreed with me. ”

            But we’re going to be able to live in a civil society with SJWs, oh, absolutely.

            • Dude. What did I ever do to you? My heirs and assigns are going to come after you if I stroke out from reading that thing. ~:D

              That kinda thing is why I remain The Phantom out here on the Intertubez. They can slag The Phantom all day long, but nobody ever calls my Mom to tell on me.

              Probably a good thing. She’s Scottish.

        • Mike Houst

          Wouldn’t be prudent.
          I don’t like bullies, and I’m a homicidal maniac when it comes to Big Brother and his minions (and I’m not talking about the cute yellow kind.)

      • I’m having one of those today over at Lela Buis’s blog. A Viler is going Full Retard and I’m setting her to “F*** OFF!”. The b***h will probably have an aneurysm from being ignored.

    • Luke

      I have a simple outlook.
      When someone declares that they’re my enemy and want to destroy that which I hold dear, I believe them.

  2. Actually a lot of people complimented the SP4 effort for not being a slate and for having done what it said it would do. Look at the comments on File770 regarding the final SP4 list.

    http://file770.com/?p=28038&cpage=1#comments

    For example, lurkertype said:

    So they actually have some decent stuff in there, and it’s NOT A SLATE! It’s ACTUALLY based on stuff people enjoyed! There are even some bona fide SJW’s in there. Congrats to Kate for not screwing it up like her male predecessors! She handled it just as she said she would, in an open process.*

    (I really am honestly complimenting her on this. Well done.)

    Jim Henley:

    Say what you will about the tenets of Sad Puppes 4; at least it’s not an ethos.

    Which is to say, yes, kudos to Paulk for sticking to her commitments. And I cosign what Camestros said, among others.

    Xfilter said:

    Kudos to Ms. Paulk for fixing most of what I perceived as the major flaws with the puppies (of either ilk) last year: the opaque selection process and the obvious slating.

    Much of the praise was qualified, e.g. John Seavey, who said:

    I agree with everyone who says that it’s really, genuinely, legitimately great that they’re not acting in bad faith, and yes, real kudos to Paulk for reforming an ugly and nepotistic process. But doesn’t this pretty much retroactively invalidate all the Puppy arguments?

    From what I see, even those people giving qualified praise are only quibbling with the impact of the work; almost everyone acknowledged the honesty of it.

    In my article “Slate Voting Analysis Using EPH Data: 2014-2016,” (On Rocket Stack Rank, September 22, 2016) I wrote:

    For 2016, the Sad Puppies claimed they were producing a recommendation list, not a slate, and they offered more than 5 choices in most categories. To allow for that, we adjusted the definition of slate voter to include anyone who voted solely from their recommendation list. Even with that change, the algorithm detected almost no one use used their list as a slate. Since that was their stated goal, congratulations are in order.

    (Italics added)

    So it’s really not true that no one acknowledged that SP4 fixed everything that people had complained about.

    • vavu2009

      I never understood the whole slates are evil thing. It’s really none of your business why someone voted the way they did and the idea that you think you have an algorithm that can read a voter’s mind is quite silly.

      • “I never understood the whole slates are evil thing.”

        No one else does either. It was an excuse to get their hate on for the “racists” attacking their award. This week we see a slate getting praised, of course, all the anti-slaters love the Red Panda Faction for stickin’ it to them Pups.

      • The problem was really a flaw in the rule for making nominations. Under the old rules, a very small minority (200 to 400 people) could sweep all the nominations in most categories simply by voting in lockstep. In 2015 and 2016, something close to this actually happened. Obviously a few percent of the voters shouldn’t be able to determine 90% of the nominees.

        What got people upset was the claim that most of the slate voters hadn’t even read the works they were nominating, and that this was purely a political stunt. Whether that was true or not, lots of people believed it, and so they viewed “the slates” as “those nasty people who came in here and sabotaged our awards.” As a result, in the final vote, they put anything that owed its nomination to a slate under No Award. It didn’t help that the entire 2015 slate and almost all of the 2016 slate were poor-quality works (excluding things that would have been nominated anyway).

        Under the new rules (EPH), it’s actually easier for a slate to get a single item into a category, but it’s almost impossible for a tiny minority to sweep entire categories anymore.Anecdotally, I’ve heard lots of people saying things like “I don’t usually see any of my nominees on the Hugo ballot this year, so I was pleasantly surprised.” That suggests the system is actually working as intended.

        • vavu2009

          I think the real problem is the small voter pool you are starting with. In any case it doesn’t matter, because the Hugo no longer matters.

          • Why would you say that? The Hugo is still the best-known, best-respected award in SFF. The events of the last three years haven’t changed that much. Look at the conversations in places like Reddit’s /r/fantasy, /r/SciFi, and /r/printSF. Most readers of SFF are aware there was a problem but that it was fixed. They don’t generally know much else about it.

            Most casual readers are also familiar with the Nebula Awards. Beyond that, they couldn’t name any other awards. This isn’t likely to change any time soon.

            • vavu2009

              It’s already changing. The Dragons got twice as many votes, and the winners all have large fan followings. None of the Hugo winners won a Dragon. This in just the second year of Dragon’s existence. But I’m sure voting for stuff no one actually reads will keep Hugo relevant.

            • sam57l0

              I have not bought a Hugo awarded novel in the last 40 years, to the best of my recollection. I hadn’t heard about the hoorah about it until 2 years ago. I’m not planning to change any time soon.

          • Kate Paulk

            A small voter pool is a big problem. It makes it too easy for a small faction to collaborate and game the system.

          • It will be interesting to see what happens with the Dragons next year. It was certainly encouraging that none of Vox Day’s nominees did particularly well this year. If it is to gain public stature, though, DragonCon (and others) will have to promote it. Most people at DragonCon still didn’t know anything about it this year.

        • Kate Paulk

          One of the things that worries me about EPH is that if it ever becomes necessary to recount, it will be a complete nightmare for the Hugo committee.

          I test software for a living, and I am familiar with tracing calculations manually to verify outputs. I know this isn’t a simple process, and for something like the Hugos it would be horribly time-consuming because the algorithm isn’t simple.

          More than that, it’s the kind of algorithm that has the potential to punish groups of works that have overlapping nomination populations. That’s dangerous.

          Unfortunately, I don’t see an answer. People are going to be people, and there is no system that can’t be gamed. The main question is whether those who wish to game the system are willing to keep paying to do it.

          • vavu2009

            The answer is to open up the voter pool to a size that makes gaming the system impractical.

            • Kate Paulk

              Which is what I was hoping for – but I don’t control anyone else and I’m not about to haul people off to pay their money and make their vote.

            • The math for that doesn’t work out. To completely overwhelm a slate of 200, you’d have needed about 30,000 voters. For a slate of 400, you’d need 120,000. (It goes up quadratically.) Of course, that’s for a worst case where everything on the slate is dinosaur porn and so you need enough organic voters to push the slate off the ballot entirely.

              But the short answer is that it’s a problem that could not be fixed merely by increasing participation.

              Note that nominations doubled in response to the slates of 2015, but the number of slate voters also doubled (to about 400). The only reason Vox Day didn’t “burn down” the awards in 2016 was because he was foolish in his choice of nominees. If he’d gone for dinosaur porn in every category (or the equivalent), the Hugo ceremony would have only had 3 or 4 awards to present in Kansas City.

        • Ben Yalow

          With EPH, we saw the anomalies that some of us had predicted — bullet voting puts things on (although in only one slot) that would otherwise not have appeared. It looked like Vox had assembled a block of about 70-85 nominators, although that’s only my estimate based on the number of nominations he got in Editor-Long. And that had a few effects, due to EPH. I’ll try to summarize all the cases where someone appeared on the final ballot and others, who appeared on more nominating ballots, didn’t make the final ballot.

          In Short Story, John C. Wright’s “An Unimagineable Light” was on 87 ballots, and made the ballot, while Sam J. Miller’s “Things With Beards” was on 88 ballots, and did not make the ballot.

          In Best Editor – Long, Vox was on 83 ballots, and made the ballot, while Patrick Nielsen Hayden was on 118 ballots, and did not make the ballot.

          In Professional Artist, John PIcacio (53) was on the ballot, while Tommy Arnold (57) wasn’t.

          In Fancast, Ditch Diggers (76) was on the ballot, while Verity! (81) wasn’t.

          In Fanwriter, Jeffro Johnson (80) was on the ballot, while Camestros Felapton (81) wasn’t.

          In Fan Artist, Steve Stiles, with 33, broke what would otherwise have been a three way tie with Ariela Houseman and Galen Dara, so he was the only one on the ballot.

          • Those aren’t really anomalies, of course. If EPH worked exactly the same as the old system, there would have been no point to it. To be useful, it has to produce a different result sometimes. Further, the cases you’re citing are all statistical ties.

            Vox Day only had about 35 people still with him by the final ballot. There’s at least some chance he won’t make further efforts against the Hugos. If he still had a chance at sweeping the nominations, though, things would be very different.

            • vavu2009

              Statistical ties don’t happen in actual vote counting. Someone gets more votes than someone else and that person wins, except with EPH.

          • Kate Paulk

            I honestly would not like to be in the position of the poor sods who had to run a manual recalculation if someone decided that this was clearly an injustice and insisted on a transparent collation.

            I’ve done manual verification of US and Italian tax calculations, and this algorithm scares me.

            • Ben Yalow

              I believe that, for the first test of EPH, there were two independent implementations, and they were tested until they gave the same results.

              It’s still not good enough — EPH has enough edge cases that you probably can’t put together a test set of data good enough to make sure there are no cases that get handled wrong — but it’s a start.

              And, thanks to the defeat of EPH+ this year, we don’t need a reimplementation. Yes — I realize that, in theory, the only difference between EPH and EPH+ is that the “point” assigned to the ballot is evenly divided among all the entries in EPH, whereas EPH+ has:

              ” … each nomination ballot shall give a point or fraction thereof to each remaining nominee on that ballot, according to the number of such remaining nominees, using the following pattern (known in voting theory as “Sainte-Laguë divisors”): 1 point for 1 remaining nominee, 1/3 of a point each for 2 remaining nominees, 1/5 of a point each for 3 remaining nominees, 1/7 of a point each for 4 remaining nominees, and 1/9 of a point each for 5 remaining nominees (extending this pattern as needed if a ballot legally has more remaining nominees).”

              I’d really hate to have to revalidate the new code to implement that change. But, since EPH+ failed ratification, the old EPH code is still good (until the next time someone changes the nominations rules).

              • snelson134

                “It’s still not good enough — EPH has enough edge cases that you probably can’t put together a test set of data good enough to make sure there are no cases that get handled wrong — but it’s a start.”

                Oh, you could; I do software testing as my day job. However, you would need one of the automated script testing tools to create a script that would change the variable values for each iteration and it would probably take a day or so to run. I doubt the Hugo folks did it; the skills to set something up like that aren’t common and the software isn’t cheap, and I’m pretty sure that they didn’t pay to have it done.

                • Draven

                  and someone else with the same set of skills and software can run a lot of simulations to figure out exactly how to circumvent EPH, or use it to lock up the hugos completely.

                  • vavu2009

                    As they were warned about in the beginning. They believe they have managed to stop Vox, but that may be wishful thinking. Vox wasn’t much interested in Hugo this year, so I doubt he tried very hard. Time will tell.

    • Speaking of the Internet never forgetting anything:

      Greg Hullender: “The diversity issue only matters if you consider the Dragon to be a real award. If you think of it as a fake award meant to boost the sales of books by white supremacists, then it’s easy to see why decent people (of any color) wouldn’t want to be associated with it.”

      https://lelaebuis.wordpress.com/2017/08/11/update-on-the-dragon-awards-drama-2017/#comments First comment in the thread.

      Questions, Greg? Comments?

      Also, you managed to scrape up 5 people who acknowledged the truth of what Kate did. How many at Vile have been very happy to label all Puppies and the authors they campaign for as racist/bigot/homophobes, Nazis, and so forth? Yourself included above, for reference purposes of course.

      Leading to perfectly innocent people such as Alison Littlewood dropping out of the Dragons because she can’t afford to be called a White Supremacist sympathizer.

      This is what I mean by “it only takes one guy to start swinging.” You’re that guy, Mr. Hullender. It is not a good look, I must say.

    • Kate Paulk

      Oh, people acknowledged what I was trying to do and what I was doing. Unfortunately, that got drowned by the loudest, most obnoxious voices, the same way a good portion of the Sad Puppies voices got drowned out by the loudest and most obnoxious of the Rabid Puppies crowd.

      It’s one of those things: the one who shouts loudest tends to be the one who’s remembered.

      I do appreciate you posting here to prove my point: most of the people on both sides of this divide just want to read and reward the authors who delight them. It’s the noisy extreme ends of the spectrum doing their best to poison the well.

      • vavu2009

        Even when they were (rightfully) praising you, they were doing it as a way to attack the puppies. They used your good work as an excuse for the way they treated puppies up to that point.

        • Kate Paulk

          Some were. Others have begun tentative friendships because they have seen that not everyone on the puppy side of the divide is a clone of Mr Rabid.

          That was part of what I wanted: to show that a fan is a fan and that there’s nothing wrong with encouraging other fans to support works you love (or with agreeing to disagree about works you don’t love).

          • vavu2009

            That part does sound encouraging. I am still sceptical, as the bad blood between the groups is mighty thick. In any case, I’ll just sit back and enjoy all the great reading material available and let others play guardian of good taste.

      • Hey, I even wrote a five-star review praising “What Price Humanity?” which was a pure Rabid Puppy pick (and published by Castalia House) for 2016. I thought it was an excellent story–regardless of how it got nominated. I got some heat for that, but I still think it was the right thing to do.

        One big disconnect I see a lot is between awarding works and awarding authors. The Hugos are supposed to strictly be about works (in terms of fiction, anyway), but maybe it would make sense for someone to organize awards specifically targeting authors–given that a lot of people seem to want to do that. Maybe one that was strictly limited to authors who’ve never been traditionally published. Worth thinking about, anyway.

        • vavu2009

          Why would you want to award just the author? The work is either good or it isn’t. The author shouldn’t matter.

          • I don’t, personally, but I thought that was the big issue for the Sad Puppies. That there were authors who never got awards. All the discussion has always been about the authors–never about the works. Several of us have tried to engage people in discussions about the works, but we always end up talking to ourselves.

            Anyway, all I’m saying is that an award that targets authors instead of specific works doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I don’t want the Hugos to do it, but I wouldn’t mind seeing someone else do it.

            • vavu2009

              If that is what you thought, you were wrong. The puppies were asking a question. How can a fan award ignore the works of authors who obviously have huge fan bases. It’s the works that were being ignored, which means so were the fans.

              • Well, maybe. But notice that you just cited authors, not works, yourself. Who cares how big the fan base of an author is? I review stories for Rocket Stack Rank so I read and review about 800 short stories a year, and I know that big-name authors sometimes produce awful things. (That’s not the way to bet, of course.) 🙂

                As far as the works go, I’ve never heard you guys talk about them (not even the ones you nominated). It’s always about the authors, all the time. And, like I said, maybe that’s okay, but you need a new award to recognize authors, not works.

                • vavu2009

                  Since the Hugo is supposed to be a fan based award, one would think the size of the fan base for a particular work would be important. If a particular work like Monster Hunters International or one of the various Dresden File books sells incredibly well, yet gets ignored by the Hugos, one can ask just how representative the Hugos are of people who actually buy and read SF books.

              • Series didn’t tend to get rewarded by the Hugos because the award for best novel isn’t likely to go to the 12th novel in an ongoing series. People who follow that series may love it, but very few people will read the other 11 just so they can try to appreciate the latest one. Eric Flint has written about this at length.

                Likewise, media tie-in stories may sell quite well, but no one (not even the people who read them) expects them to win awards.

                Once you’ve excluded those two, Hugo winners actually do tend to be novels that sell pretty well. Compare the Amazon sales ranks of Hugo winners vs. some of the other books you’re thinking of. The sales rank can fluctuate, so you might need to look on a few different days to be sure you’re not seeing a blip.

                • vavu2009

                  My guess is a whole lot of people did read the other books in the series, that’s why the publisher kept publishing them.

                • Ben Yalow

                  Of course, you need to go back to 2013 before a non-series novel actually wins. Every novel winner since then has been a part of a series.
                  2014-Ancillary Justice
                  2015-Three Body Problem
                  2016-Fifth Season
                  2017-The Obelisk Gate

                  • vavu2009

                    What year did Dune win?

                    • Ben Yalow

                      1966. It tied with Zelazny’s This Immortal (also published as “… And Call Me Conrad” when it was serialized) — and, in a weaker year, the Zelazny would have been a sole winner. But getting a tie with Dune is also a major accomplishment.

            • Kate Paulk

              Ah. I believe there’s a bit of a misconception here. It’s more a perception that authors whose works are worthy tend to have those works overlooked because of their political viewpoints.

              The extremely loud and rancorous outrage which washed over 2015 particularly and 2014 to a lesser extent with the “no award” campaigns (is anyone seriously claiming that the editors who have helped publish multiple award winning authors all deserved to be no awarded in 2015 because they all happened to appear on one specific list?) did push focus towards the authors rather than the works, but at the core the loudest outrage seemed to be that the works people objected to had been written and/or nominated by “undesirable” sorts.

              • In the “Best Editor (Long Form)” category, I always vote “No Award” and nothing else because I think the whole category shouldn’t exist. There’s simply no way for a fan to know what work different book editors actually did during the year.

                The trouble with 2015 was that (at least in the short-fiction categories) the quality of the works was so poor that it was impossible to tell whether the voters were prejudiced against the authors or not; they could justify No Award on quality alone. Just talking with people at Sasquan, the thing people seemed most upset about wasn’t the slates and it wasn’t the politics–it was getting a packet full of mediocre-to-really-bad stories.

                By 2016, sadly, people were ready to vote No Award without reading the slate nominees. That was a mistake, in my opinion, because two of them were good enough to merit serious consideration. (I’ll point out again that in 2016 the Sad Puppies didn’t have a slate; you had a proper recommendation list, and several of those stories were what I’d call award-worthy. “Tuesday’s With Molekesh the Destroyer” was an exceptionally fine example.)

        • Kate Paulk

          There have been some excellent works supported by both sides of the fence – because an excellent work is an excellent work.

          I’m absolutely opposed to anyone taking flak for agreeing that something is brilliant just because someone you despise supports it What I think of people who take that approach isn’t fit to print. So thank you, for doing what everyone should be doing and evaluating the works on their merits.

          I think there’s room for lifetime achievement type awards, for authors who’ve built up an extraordinary body of work but the individual works have been somewhat less recognized. I don’t know that the Hugos are the best venue for that, though.

          The hardest part for authors who haven’t been traditionally published isn’t so much in having a separate award for them. It’s simply that non-trad publishing tends to have a longer build time, so that by the time something is recognized as extraordinary, it can be way past the award eligibility period – not that trad published work doesn’t suffer from this as well, it just doesn’t suffer as much.

          • This was what I meant when I suggested an award for authors who’ve never been traditionally published. A bit like the Campbell Award, but without the two-year eligibility period. And I agree the Hugos is the wrong venue for it.

  3. vavu2009

    My guess is this thread isn’t going the way Kate wanted it to. I think too much blood was spilled in the puppy wars for there to be any reconciliation. The attitudes are still there, as is the lack of respect.

    • At least there are no statues involved.

      • vavu2009

        You mean besides the small ones featuring a 1950’s era spaceship. Even if they were big enough to tear down, no one cares enough to bother.

    • Ah, you’re right. I’ll behave. No more Mean Phantom today.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Sure there’s a possibility for reconciliation.

      They ain’t dragging their white supremacist crap here as much, and the puppy wars have shown me more good reading material than the Hugo’s ever have.

      My interests aren’t being personally offended so much, and if Toni is not seeking revenge (and if she is, I’m not smart enough to tell), who am I to try to get revenge on her behalf?

  4. Luke

    I have an idea about what to do with them… Something directly tied to those wooden coins.

    Sadly, some of the Vile 666 crew would enjoy it.

  5. SIGH. We, self included, tend to fixate on a few bad moments. As seen on the threads today. Yes, some people said things they may or may not regret. Yes, nasty stuff was written and said, and axes were ground. *glances down at my Crazy Ragnar’s Seagoing Concern tee-shirt*

    1. We all like sci-fi and fantasy and want to see more of it. We might not agree on details, but we like the genres and want to see more books/comics/films/TV shows/games.
    2. We enjoy our books et al and want to encourage other people to read/watch/play them.
    3. There’s room on the shelves for a whole lot of ideas and sub-sub genres and we don’t have to rub our preferences in other people’s faces.

    I realize that beyond that, things start getting potentially messy when people put ideology first and everything else a distant second. I have very little patience for anyone, IRL or on the ‘Net or in fiction who marches up and starts off by saying, “Hi. I’m a [cause/preference/lifestyle choice] and my name is [name].” This person has a hobbyhorse that they are not going to dismount, and everything has to be related to that. Yawn.

  6. *Louder Sigh* And WP just ate my comment again. *stomps off to see what the problem is*

  7. Draven

    And i have to say that the long-term Hugo admins should have actually said something. It wouldn’t have been airing dirty laundry or doing harm to an already tarnished reputation, it would have been them saying “Enough, you have taken this too far, we have no desire to see either side take over the Hugo awards”

    but no.

    • Kate Paulk

      Given the extraordinary level of vitriol flying, I can quite understand why someone less pig-headed stubborn than me would have decided that speaking up engendered an unacceptable risk and choose to work behind the scenes to keep the awards running.

      Also, as I understand it, the 2015 Hugo admins did not know what was being planned for the ceremony that year until it happened.

      • Draven

        Ok, did they say anything about it afterward??

      • vavu2009

        I don’t think anyone can blame the Hugo admins for something David Gerrold decided to do. I do blame the Worldcon participants for going along with it. They needed adults willing to say “this is just plain stupid”. Instead, they all laughed at the same stupid joke.

      • I’ve never been able to understand what the complaint was about the asterisks. According to David Gerrold, they were a response to Puppies who said that even in categories where an award went to a non-Puppy, the result would be tainted because of the lack of organic competition. That those wins would always have an asterisk next to them.

        So to make light of that, he presented each winner with an asterisk and declared 2015 “the year of the asterisk.”

        Now I read Vonnegut too, so I knew that one could associate the asterisk with an asshole, but I didn’t think too much of it. After all, he handed them out to the winners, so if anyone were to be insulted, it should have been one of them.

        Further supporting his explanation is the fact that, throughout the ceremony, he kept trying to keep things lighthearted, as much as he could. For example, at one point he said something like, we’re going to do something else (I forget what) and then get back to announcing the rest of the winners. Then he held the ballots up to his face and whispered “Please, please let there be winners.”

        That got a big laugh.

        If you really want to see a rapprochement, a good first step might be encouraging people to give each other the benefit of the doubt. That includes letting people back down gracefully.

        • Christopher M. Chupik

          It was a deliberate insult. Even some on the anti-Puppy side admit they were a mistake now (though nobody seemed to have realized this beforehand).

          • I realize that’s an article of faith on your side, but you really should entertain the possibility that you’re wrong. David’s explanation makes far more sense; why give something to the winners with the vague idea of insulting the losers?

            The only reason anyone admits it was a mistake is that it did end up pissing so many people off. (And, to be honest, it was a dumb idea even on its own terms.) I don’t think anyone involved has ever said that it was done with the intent of hurting anyone, though.

            • TRX

              Funny, Gerrold’s public comments before that happened were downright rabid anti-Puppy ravings.

              He can’t have it both ways.

        • vavu2009

          That might have flown were it not for the no awards that went with it. Sometimes an asshole is really an asshole, and sometimes people get the insult even when try to backtrack afterward.

          • All of the No Awards were justified in 2015 because of the low quality of the nominated works (and I read them all and would be happy to discuss any of them), but the cheering and applauding was definitely meant to be hurtful. No question about that.

            Some of the No Awards in 2016 were not justified. Not based solely on the content of the works nominated, anyway. There was no cheering or applauding of the No Awards in 2016 though.

            The asterisks, though (I’m convinced) were innocent. Dumb, but innocent.

        • a good first step might be encouraging people to give each other the benefit of the doubt. That includes letting people back down gracefully.

          I like the implication that it should be the pro-Puppy side to do that, in your whole paragraph, because clearly you think your side has done no wrongs, and shouldn’t be the one to act nice. I shouldn’t have to point out all the examples you’ve been showing that attitude here, but the fact that you keep dismissing the asterisks as a deliberate insult is probably the biggest one.

          Last I checked, in society it shouldn’t be the injured party to say “Sorry” and extend motions of wanting to make amends.

          • Ah, but we don’t agree on who the injured party is. From our perspective, you guys came in and ruined our awards for two years in a row out of pure meanness. Any reconciliation cannot depend on getting the people on either side to completely change their narrative. There’s going to have to be some agreement to disagree.

            And I did say that us cheering No Award was mean-spirited. I’ve offered a few other concessions too, if you read what I’ve been posting.

            • Okay, so you don’t think it was insulting. Gotcha. And we deserved all the shit hurled our way, because ‘we came in out of pure meaness.’ Along with the whole ‘we’re all white supremacist males’ narrative that was liberally spewed about the Sad Puppies on the media and everywhere, conflating us -still- with every single Rabid Puppy.

              Sad Puppies were different, but it seems you haven’t seen that either. That’s the ‘complete change of narrative’ that you seem to have a problem with. Cheering the No Awards = mean is a ‘concession’ on your part, but the rest of it… well. Aren’t willing to concede more to ‘the bad people’ like this so-called ‘white supremacist male.’

              For the record, I’m very much Sad Puppy (also, not white, female, since that seems to be important to your folks for some reason), who joined in on the third with the sole intent of nominating, and voting for the works I felt were worth it. There was no meaness there, only excitement that perhaps we’d be enough people to get Jim Butcher nominated / an award and the reaction of asterisks and no awards was a spit in the face of the people who took ‘well, if you want to nominate/vote, pay the fee and do it’ at face value.

              That was Sad Puppies. But apparently, not so much ‘to your side’s perspective’ – the only one apparently important from your comments. We were all just shitty mean people. And we as a group should be the ones to roll over and give you reconcilliatory gestures, but somehow ‘should treat you’ as individuals and not see ‘group behavior’.

              The complaints you have are to be directed towards the Rabids, but the Sad Puppies are more accessible, more likely to let you talk and have your piece. So we get the ‘from your perspective, you’re the bad guys’ and pooh-poohing and dismissing, with a dollop of ‘hey I gave that cheering was mean but the thing we cheered, totes justified.‘ attitude.

              You just sound nice and polite and self-effacing. You’ll just have to … be a bit more forgiving… of the fact that someone else already showed that you’re full of shit.

              • snelson134

                What Mr Hullender seems to forget is that we’ve seen his side’s attitude that those who don’t agree with them are “evil mean icky people who should be punished until they love Big Brother” for a LONG time, 2000 election on at least. We’ve been insulted and lied about and lied to enough that we don’t trust any of them any more.

            • “From our perspective, you guys came in and ruined our awards for two years in a row out of pure meanness.”

              1. Thanks for finally admitting that you and yours see the Hugo as the Worldcon Fandom award, rather than the Science Fiction/Fantasy Fandom as a whole award. Took you long enough.

              2. It’s pretty obvious that you’re still conflating the Sads and the Rabids. So, forgive us if we’re pretty sure that the olive branch you’re holding out is covered in poison ivy oil.

              3. It’s also obvious, given your denigration of the Dragon Awards, that you’re much more desperate to maintain Worldcon’s position as the arbiter of taste in fandom than you are in anything else. Sorry, but you failed to bring in new blood, and now you’ll pay for it.

            • Greg Hullender said: “I’ve offered a few other concessions too, if you read what I’ve been posting.”

              [I will be good, I will be good, I will be good…]

              Ahem. Greg, a question. When are you going to start acknowledging Sad Puppies as a group distinct from the Rabid bunch?

              Oh, and another question, when are y’all going to stop pretending Saray Hoyt, Kate Paulk, Dave Freer et all and Larry Correia are a bunch of racists?

              Ceasing to speak an untruth is not a concession.

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                They are racist, where racist is defined as ‘does not kowtow to bizarre racial theory x’, which is a definition in common usage. That specific definition carries no moral weight, or carries a positive moral weight. Where the accusers are wrong is in using the criteria of that definition and trying to attach the negative moral weight of an entirely different definition of racist. I have seen no convincing evidence that any of the accused meet the criteria for a definition with negative moral weight.

          • vavu2009

            Forget it Shadow. You are talking to another self-appointed Guardian of Good Taste. Nothing they do is wrong, because they are saving “their” award.

            • I don’t give a flying rat turd about ‘their’ award. Not since the Asterisks. They can have it, and sneer superciliously at the Dragons, as Greg’s been shown to do. It’s clearly obvious their ilk didn’t take kindly to the ‘well make your own award’ – when it was actually done. Nope, they have to downplay it, question its’ validity, dismiss it – as they’ve dismissed everything about all of us as ‘not real, not valid, not good enough’ as ‘fans/readers/people.’

              No, I take exception to the idea that we – who were slandered in mass media and repeatedly called evil, racist bigots – are the ones supposed to bend over backward and apologise. I take exception to the soft, silibant words of the abuser, all too recognisable these days – “you see, it’s all your fault, because you weren’t obedient little yes men. Yes, I ‘overreacted’ and that was ‘mean’ but the whole thing was still ‘your fault’ and you ‘made me do it.’ Now if you juuuuust bend over and lick my shoe, it’ll be okay. Really. Until the next time… and you dont’ want there to be a next time right? Be a good little puppy.” – all of that cloaked in the falsely sweetened words and demeanor of ‘someone trying to bridge a gap.’

              Speaking of the Internet never forgetting anything:

              Greg Hullender: “The diversity issue only matters if you consider the Dragon to be a real award. If you think of it as a fake award meant to boost the sales of books by white supremacists, then it’s easy to see why decent people (of any color) wouldn’t want to be associated with it.”

              https://lelaebuis.wordpress.com/2017/08/11/update-on-the-dragon-awards-drama-2017/#comments First comment in the thread.

              “Boost the sales of people of color” – he left out ‘only if they have the right politics.

              I know he’s here in bad faith. I’m emphasizing how he is, as an individual, acting in bad faith, and being a two-faced liar.

      • Ben Yalow

        The Hugo administrators count the votes, order plaques for attaching to the base (since they know the winners, and nobody else does) and then hand envelopes with the winners’ names to the people running the ceremony.

        The people running the ceremony generally don’t know the winners, and the administrators don’t know what the people on the stage will be saying.

  8. adventuresfantastic

    Not only BOOM, but KA-BOOM!

  9. With respect to actually discussing works, I did a moderately extended review of The Fifth Season in Tightbeam. I think I posted it here.