Hugo Nominations, Sad Puppies, and Vox Day

If you don’t know what’s going on with the Hugos, go here. Or here. Or here.

The organizers and supporters of the Sad Puppies slate are complaining that they’re being unfairly conflated with the Rapid Puppies slate created by Vox Day. I’m going to leave it as an exercise for the reader to investigate the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies and see why this conflation is decidedly fair. For this discussion, I’m stipulating the fairness.

Why, therefore, should the Sad Puppies be punished by their association with VD? Isn’t free speech a right that should be respected? Shouldn’t we evaluate works promoted by VD based on their content and quality? No matter how much we revile VD’s opinions and statements, shouldn’t all the other authors be given the benefit of the doubt?

Yes. No. No.

Some detail.

  • Isn’t free speech a right that should be respected? Yes it is, however freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences. You can say whatever you like, but others do not have to approve. That disapproval may be so severe that whatever you are associated with will be tainted. This is just a fact of human nature and is a feature not a bug of a free society.
  • Shouldn’t we evaluate works promoted by VD based on their content and quality? No. Vox Day has demonstrated thoroughly through his many writings that he has an agenda that is so far outside the mainstream that his opinions are not worth considering.
  • No matter how much we revile VD’s opinions and statements, shouldn’t all the other authors be given the benefit of the doubt? No. See above.

VD is a living, breathing example of a failure of Godwin’s Law. He can be compared to Hitler in the sense that he has extreme and unyielding prejudices that cannot be tolerated. He tries to frame his prejudices in the context of “logic” and “science” but the fact is that he’s just plain wrong. His wrongness is so wrong that it’s difficult to find an appropriate superlative.

The Sad Puppies organizers have stated that they do not approve of his messages and opinions, even going so far as to declare them extreme, however they have not explicitly repudiated him. This needs to happen. Again, VD’s opinions and statements are so far outside the mainstream of acceptable that they defy description by this poor author. If the Sad Puppy organizers had a close associate who strongly and repeatedly advocated for the return of chattel slavery for the lesser races, would they still maintain his “right to say what he likes?” I doubt it. Yet this is precisely the same type of opinion that VD issues daily. The comparison is apt. If you don’t believe me, go to his site and read for a while. I do not recommend this if you like your blood pressure low.

The Sad Puppy organizers have no legs to stand on with their complaint of a broad brush. If they want to disassociate themselves from VD, they need to do so, publicly and clearly. Without a statement to that effect, we will not believe them.

With respect to the Sad Puppy slate of candidates, I feel sorry for some of them. A small set of them have obviously been caught up in a mess that they were not aware of and had no desire to be a part of. Speaking for my own self, I respect Marko Kloos’ withdrawal from the Best Novel category, particularly because his type of fiction never gets a Hugo nod without this sort of boost. I’m actually more inclined to read his work due to this action, while previous to his withdrawal I had earmarked him as a never-read-again author.

The other candidates on the Sad Puppy slate should realize that there are those of us who will read their works, for purposes of this Hugo process, but may never do so again, precisely because of this Hugo process. Many authors during this mess have stated they don’t care if you never read them at all/again, but it’s something that every author should be aware of.

Outside of the mess surrounding the slate nomination itself, to be associated with the Sad Puppies and Vox Day is to be on the wrong side of a social question that will stain an author by association. Forget this year’s Hugo; this will affect them for years to come.

This mess has brought a particular division in Fandom into sharp relief. These divisions exist and will continue to exist, but don’t be on the side of Vox Day. You might as well have a tattoo on yourself that says “white-supremacist, anti-woman, racist asshole.”

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Photos from Dunwoody/Sandy Springs

I was out taking some pictures for a project. Got these, too.

King and Moon

Pinecone

Dunwoody Grafitti

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Not Looking Forward to Game of Thrones Season Six

A Song of Ice and Fire

Last night we put our money where our mouth was and paid to join HBO Now/Go/Whatever in order to watch Game of Thrones season five. Thanks, HBO, for listening! But that’s not what this is about.

I am not at all looking forward to 2016 and the next season of Game of Thrones. Why? Because I’ve been with the books since the beginning and I feel this groundswell of viewers who say to us book readers, “You’ve been giving us inadvertent/advertent spoilers since season one! Now it’s our turn.”

It’s my understanding that this season (five) will have some spoilers/scenes from Winds of Winter, book six of the Song of Ice and Fire. I’m not too worried about that because if there are some, they’ll be early in the book, by the nature of the TV show. I am distinctly worried about Season 6 because it will be throwing down left and right on stuff that will only be in book 7. And I definitely won’t be watching Season 7 (or anything after season 6).

G.R.R. Martin has told HBO how his series will end, but there won’t be enough “canon” literature from Song of Ice and Fire for them to go off, therefore they’re going to be making shit up left and right. This is good for us readers in the sense that what we see won’t be spoilers, but bad because no matter how much they get “wrong”1 they’ll still know how the major story arcs end up and that’s just unacceptable to those of us2 who have been with the series since the beginning. I want the developments and wrap-ups to come at me in the method that G.R.R. Martin has crafted, not the way the TV series will present it.

This means that I’ll be actively avoiding Twitter and Facebook during the TV series times and informing relatives and close friends that it will be unacceptable to tell me how things happen, who dies, or who the last Night’s Watch standing is. Hopefully most people will respect that, but there’s always some asshole who thinks they’re being funny.

Don’t be that guy.

  1. Different, rather. []
  2. I’m generalizing, but I think most dedicated readers will agree with me. []
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Welcome to Nightvale!

Nightvale
Last weekend we attended the Atlanta live performance of Welcome to Nightvale. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a deliciously weird podcast program set in the fictional town/city of Nightvale, which is set in the desert of America (somewhere). The best way I’ve found to describe Nightvale is it’s the place where all the conspiracy theories are true; even the contradictory ones. There’s a Secret Police, a World Government, “vague-yet-menacing government agency”, and many other things.

I recommend it. If you listen to the first episode and think, “Ummm…a bit weird for me,” try the second one before you punt.

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Hugos and Pinecone

Pinecone

The pinecone has nothing to do with the Hugos, I just think it’s a good picture that I snapped this morning while taking some project photos1.

Yesterday, George R. R. Martin chimed in on the current Hugo/Sad Puppy kerfuffle. His argument can be interpreted in several ways, one of which is a bad bad bad argument from authority, but the other is a call to preserve the spirit of the Hugo award. Go read it, and his other posts (all in line at his livejournal) if you feel like diving deeper into this mess.

  1. For amusement, you might want to check out a tweet I made about these photos. []
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Clarke Award vs. Sad Puppies

13:25 UPDATE at bottom

I find it interesting that of the five novels on the Sad Puppy Slate, exactly zero were submitted for review for the Clarke Awards.

This could mean a few different things:

  1. No one bothered to submit them
  2. No one submitted them because, wow, they weren’t going to win
  3. They’ve not been published yet in Britain

Item one seems odd because wouldn’t you take the time to submit something for an award on the off chance you’d win? You never know1.

Item three is outside my expertise. It appears that all of these books are available on amazon.co.uk, but I don’t know if that means they’ve “been published in Britain” which is the prerequisite for the award.

Item two is the interesting one. If they’ve been published in Britain, why would the publisher not submit them for review? Seems like if you thought you had a good novel, you’d do that. Perhaps they don’t think they have a good novel? Maybe?

I’m talking out of my butt here, but it does make one wonder.

1325 Update: The Clarke Awards responded to my tweet about this.

So there you go. I retract any aspersions. At least aspersions related to this specific item.

  1. It’s just a dollar and a dream. []
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2015 Clarke Award Shortlist

With all the hullabaloo over the Hugos, it’s easy to miss the fact that they are not the only award for Science Fiction.

The Arthur C. Clarke Award is the most prestigious award for science fiction in Britain.
The annual award is presented for the best science fiction novel of the year, and selected from a shortlist of novels whose UK first edition was published in the previous calendar year.
The Award was originally established by a generous grant from Sir Arthur C. Clarke with the aim of promoting science fiction, and is currently administered by the Serendip Foundation.

They just announced their shortlist candidates for 2015 and I’m looking forward to reading them. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, by Claire North, is on the list and that would have been a strong contender in my mind for the Hugo this year. Alas, Claire got screwed.

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More on the Hugo Noms

I summarized the Hugo nomination slate earlier, being both sad, yet optimistic that this hijacking can’t last.

Because I’m ignoring the standby advice of “DON’T READ THE COMMENTS” I was casting about for what other people thought about the current slate of Hugo nominees. I found Breitbart:

As with GamerGate, the political biases of a small elite has led to the exclusion of those who think differently — even if they’re in the majority.

If you’re citing GamerGate in a positive light, I don’t think I need to read more, however…

Brad R. Torgersen, who managed this year’s Sad Puppies campaign, spoke to Breitbart London about its success: “I am glad to be overturning the applecart. Numerous authors, editors, and markets have been routinely snubbed or ignored over the years because they were not popular inside WSFS or because their politics have made them radioactive.”

Torgersen cites a host of authors who have suffered de facto exclusion from the sci-fi community: David Drake, David Weber, L.E Modesitt Jr, Kevn J. Anderson, Eric Flint, and of course Orson Scott Card — the creator of the world-famous Ender’s Game, which was recently adapted into a successful movie. Despite his phenomenal success, Scott Card has been ostracized by sci-fi’s inner circle thanks to his opposition to gay marriage.

Well. There’s always differences in taste and whether a particular person thinks an author is worthy of a nomination. Here’s my own particular take on this list of authors he’s citing:

  • David Drake: Wonderful military and space adventure scifi. You should read him. Probably due a nomination for his Hammers Slammers, but that was a long time ago. His most recent stuff is good, but I’ve never put it up as the best of year work.
  • David Weber: Honor Harrington will live forever. His Honorverse is great, right up until book 8. The rest of his work is good, but worthy of a Hugo? C’mon, people. Read with some critcality. If your method of nominating is “best enjoyment of a novel this year” I’d still not go with Weber and his endless staff meeting infodumps. I will read all of his books, but unless he changes up, they’ll never be “best novel.”
  • L.E. Modesitt Jr.: Haven’t read his stuff since early Recluse and The Forever Hero. I could see one of the Recluse books being nominated. I’m curious about how they fared in the nomination process1.
  • Kevin Anderson: Discussed him in the previous post. I’ve never read him, but I will now.
  • Eric Flint: Great world building and politics; terrible and stereotypical characterizations. I’ve never read anything by him that I would nominate as Best Novel.
  • Orson Scott Card: Our illustrious journalist seems to be forgetting Card’s two Hugos (Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead, both worthy!) and his three other nominations. Could it possibly be that the rest of his work is not good enough to merit a nomination? I think so, and I’ve read it. Card’s work since Ender’s game has not been as good, straight up.

The article goes on to crow about how this is the downfall of Tor Books domination of the industry. I’m wondering if the author remembers that Tor Books publishes David Weber, also? If Tor is dominating the Hugos, why isn’t Weber getting nominations? Huh. Oh, Wait. Kevin Anderson is a Tor author, too. How weird. It’s like the publisher has little to do with the Hugo nomination process. I know, crazy.

Another method of polarizing discussion is by quoting Vox Day:

Vox Day, Lead Editor of Castalia House, commented on the nominations:

Vox Day is another of my perfect bellwethers. If he says it, I think oppositely. That’s because I don’t think there are subhumans amongst us, among other reasons. Don’t know who he is? I recommend Google, because I will not link to his site2. Vox Day has some similarities to Hitler: entirely polarizing and there’s no point bringing him into a discussion. He’s a very specific Godwin corollary.

Done ranting about Breitbart, now. At least I know not to read those articles anymore. Thoughtful commentary I can do. Obviously slanted politi-speak I’m not gonna.

  1. But not curious enough to go look up the statistics, dear reader. []
  2. Actually, I don’t recommend Google. You’ll either get really upset with him, thus shortening your lifespan due to high blood pressure, or you’ll agree with him, and we won’t be friends anymore. []
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Sometimes the Hugos just Make Me Tired

Every year, I get very excited when the Hugo award nominations roll around. What will people think are the best novels1 this year!? Will I have read them? What additional books do I get to consume!??!?!?

And every year, books get nominated which are book number three or four in a series. I’m super excited to find that there is something new for me to read that other people love, and then I get depressed because I have to read two or three books before I can read the nominated work. No matter how good a series or author is, if you slam three of their books in a row, you’re going to be a little sick of it by the time you get to the book you’re supposed to be evaluating.

This year, four of the five nominated novels are sequels. Ancillary Sword, by Ann Leckie, is a sequel that I’ve already read the first book to, so I’m off the hook there, but The Dark Between the Stars (Kevin Anderson), is the first book in a trilogy that’s set on to of a SEVEN-book older series. And Skin Game by Jim Butcher is book number fifteen in the Dresden Files (thank god, I’ve read it already). Lines of Departure by Marko Kloos is a pedestrian book two in its series. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison is the only standalone book in the nomination slate.

In my mind, you can’t read the book without reading it’s predecessors. You just can’t. Without that background knowledge you’re not going to truly grok the world. Some authors are good at bringing in people in the middle of a series, but others are not, and it’s dangerous to assume that they’ll all be able to do that well. By that assumption, you would have to read twenty-two books to be properly up to speed on this year’s voting.

That’s just not going to happen.

As it is, I’ll probably read the Kevin Anderson book cold, but I’ll read the first book in the Marko Kloos series and I’m already up to date on the Dresden Files novels (Fun books! Not worthy of the Hugo, is my opinion.).

  1. I mostly read novels. I don’t do short stories and rarely novellas, etc. []
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2015 Hugo Award Nomination Weirdness (And Why It Doesn’t Matter)

The Hugo Award Nominations were announced on Saturday. If you’re not aware, the Hugos are the de jure Best-in-Industry science fiction and fantasy awards. I say “de jure” because, as we shall see, they are not actually an industry award. They are fan-nominated, fan-voted, yet they’ve achieved a level of notoriety and recognition that makes them the preeminent awards for the genre.

This year, the nominations got “hijacked”. I’m quotating that word for a reason; more on that in a minute. The way the Hugos work is that a person becomes a member of the year’s World Science Fiction Convention by paying their membership fee, and then they are entitled to nominate works for various categories including best novel, best short story, etc. See Wikipedia for a full list of Hugo categories. Once the nomination period is over, the administrators crunch the numbers and the top five in each category are presented on a shortlist for voting by the same members1. This is where we’re at now.

For additional background, there is currently a brouhaha in the science fiction and fantasy community that can be boiled down like this2:

  1. I want people of different backgrounds to have opportunities to be successful, defining successful as published, paid, and awarded. These people include all authors and creators including white men, black women, bisexual transvestites, tri-sexual gosling-jugglers, liberals and conservatives, nice people and asshats, and all others who might be able to craft an engaging and excellent novel/story/movie, etc., because why would we want to deprive ourselves, the fans, and the world, of great stories!
  2. YOU’RE A STUPID MISANDRIC POOPY-HEAD WHO DOESN’T UNDERSTAND HOW I, A WHITE MAN IN MIDDLE AMERICA, AM BEING HELD DOWN BY SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIORS WHO CONTROL THE PUBLICATION APPARATUS.

This trend has manifested itself the last few years in the the “sad puppy” slate of Hugo candidates for whom the creators of the slate have begged their followers to vote for en masse, and without consideration of the individual works in question. For my own view, this is against everything the Hugos stand for because you are supposed to nominate and vote for excellent work that you feel represents the best of the genre. Bloc voting does not accomplish that task. For the view of the Hugos, this is perfectly within the rules.

The “sad puppy” slate of candidates made a surprisingly good showing on the ballot. Surprising in that it just so happens that works and people listed on the SP slate appear quite frequently on the nomination list. I feel it’s safe to assume that a number of people did harken to the call to join the convention and vote the bloc3 . John C. Wright in particular was either the year’s most awesome writer, and so recognized by a lot of people, or voted on blindly by a bunch of sheeple. The SPs did much better this year than last, probably due to the unfortunate conflation of Gamer Gate and the perception of reverse discrimination in the science fiction/fantasy industry.

But! It doesn’t really matter. I mean, it does matter, but only because some wonderful works produced in 2014 are not on the ballot and therefore won’t get their opportunity to win the Hugo4 The reason I quotated “hijacked” above is because while the ballot has indeed been hijacked by a bunch of people who could fit the definition of “cabal”, this is within the rules of the Hugo awards, and I take solace that there are still good works on the list that I’m certain that will win out in the Hugo preferential voting system. And even if by some horrible event the SP slate manages to win some Hugos, this is an effort that cannot be maintained year over year. Gamer Gate won’t have the impetus next year it did this, and I think everything will be okay.

The Hugos have been around a while and have weathered similar storms before. I’ll read the nominated works and vote according to their quality. Except for Vox Day. Fuck that guy.

(Those of you who are members of this year’s World Con, or may wish to become so to vote the Hugos, please become familiar with how NO AWARD works. It may be important to you.)

Update: i09 says it much better, and much less snarky, with other background information you might like to read.

  1. There is a period in which the administrators contact potential nominees to ensure they want to accept the nomination. Some don’t, and pass it to the next nominee in line. []
  2. Others may disagree with my framing []
  3. We’ll have more than a feeling once the Hugo Awards are announced in August. The World Con always publishes the statistics behind the nominations and the voting so that everyone may see how the sausage was made. []
  4. For example, I feel that The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August was the best novel published last year. It is not on the ballot. []
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