Well, it’s been a full week now since the announcement of this year’s Hugo Awards finalists, and we’ve all had some time to process the fact that allegedly human trash fire Vox Day and his Rabid Puppies slate fucked the whole process up and ruined a lot of fun for a lot of people for the second year in a row. The Rabid Puppy slate placed 64 of its 81 candidates on the ballot, at least one in every single Hugo category, sweeping six categories entirely, and securing all but one slot in an additional four categories. In terms of how this measures up to last year’s fiasco, it’s a sort of good news, bad news situation.
The bad news, of course, is that this is still a thing that is happening, at all and that the Rabid slate was, if anything, more successful than last year’s in spite of nearly double the number of nominating voters participating in the process. The good news is that these results indicate several of things:
- As suggested by last year’s No Award votes, the vast majority of the influx of new voters are anti-Puppy.
- BUT, when it comes to nominations, those new voters are honest ones who continued the Hugo tradition of nominating things that they actually like and want to see win, and there is no evidence of competing slates or any other attempts to “fight fire with fire.”
- While the new voters’ lack of slate or bloc voting makes for a very fractured pool of potential nominees, allowing the Puppy slate a low bar for success, there’s no evidence that the Puppy bloc saw any significant increase in numbers.
- While the Puppy slate did succeed in getting a lot of nominations, the slate this year was not (quite) as irredeemably bad and transparently Vox Day/Castalia-serving as it was last year. In order to make some kind of statement about something or other, it includes quite a bit of work that looks to be worth at least attempting to consider.
- It appears that the Sad Puppies (yes, they’re still around, kind of) had no measurable effect on anything at all with their recommended reading lists. I think we can safely ignore them forever now and deal with the actual menace that is Vox Day.
Followup bad news to this good news, though, is that with such a mixed bag of nominees–everything from obviously trolling picks like Chuck Tingle’s “Space Raptor Butt Invasion” to the apparently unironic Rabid nominations for Best Related Work to several picks that almost certainly would have made the ballot regardless like Daniel Polansky’s The Builders, Neal Stephenson’s popular Seveneves, and Hollywood blockbuster The Martian–there’s not clear answer on how to respond to the slate. Sure, there are some obvious categories for a No Award and several nominees that are clearly out of place in other categories, but things are definitely not as cut and dried as they were last year, when it was very reasonable to deny the legitimacy of all slate picks. This is something that I will address more fully at a later date, however. I will likely blog my way through the voter packet when it arrives in a couple of weeks and talk some more then about how terribly wrong and mistaken I was in my own predictions for this year’s awards, which were based on my clearly very incorrect theory that the Rabid Puppies would have lost a significant amount of interest in the Hugos after last year.
I didn’t write a hot take of my own last week, though I did read plenty that were various degrees of useful, informative, and insightful. The best early-ish posts on the matter that I came across:
- The Guardian actually had a post up before the announcements even started, with quotes from George R.R. Martin, Alastair Reynolds, and Vox Day.
- John Scalzi’s post came up shortly after at the Los Angeles Times, where he pointed out the general ridiculousness of the Puppy movement fairly succinctly, although I don’t really see the point of continuing to conflate the Sads, who have had no real impact on voting, with the Rabids, who have.
- Alexandra Erin is, as always, a voice of reason.
- Renay and Ana at Fangirl Happy Hour share their sad/angry reactions.
- George R.R. Martin continues to be thoughtful, though a little too moderate (in my opinion) in his reactions. Still, I have to admit that when I’ve attained his level of age and wisdom I might have the perspective to be less outraged, myself.
- Much like GRRM, Eric Flint has a lot of experience and perspective to share with some of us younger, more hot-headed fans. I don’t entirely agree with him, either, but his thoughts are definitely worth a read.
- Jim C. Hines breaks down the non-Puppy options if you want to go that route in your voting.
- Chuck Wendig gets to some of the roots of our current problems.
- At nerds of a feather, flock together, Joe Sherry and The G have somewhat different takes on the situation.
- Cora Buhlert has several posts on the Hugos, and another different take on things.
- Abigail Nussbaum is on much the same page as I am re: the complexity of this year’s awards and what to do about a slate that purposefully included some otherwise very viable nominees. If nothing else, I hope we can all agree that there are no easy answers this year.
- Glenn Hauman makes an important point–namely, that it’s not an injustice to deny people ill-gotten gains, even if the people being denied didn’t ask for the ill-gotten gains in the first place.
The Puppies themselves had typically asinine responses:
- Vox Day posts about “Making the Hugos Great Again” in which he spends a couple of thousand words wallowing in schadenfreude and mocking John Scalzi because Vox really, really hates John Scalzi. It gets weird.
- The Sad Puppies apparently have no official opinion, judging by the lack of updates on their site.
- However, Kate Paulk has some mouth noises to make about how all the finalists “earned” their nominations, but also that as long as everyone follows the rules–the letter of, obv, not the spirit of, because respecting social contracts is for liberal wimps or something–people can pervert the process as much as they can get away with. A+ principles, Kate Paulk.
- Brad Torgersen is predictably incoherent and rambling. Something, something CHORFs. Something something Brad Torgersen’s persecution complex. Something something Dragon Awards.
- Larry Correia says we should have negotiated with him when we had the chance and so we are getting what we deserve. Okay, but I’m still not sure what Larry Correia ever wanted except to win a Campbell because he’s a sad little pissbaby who never learned to be a gracious loser or appreciate the honor of even being nominated for a major award. Also, I guess he wants everyone else to have the same low brow, trashy “literary” tastes as he has, but just saying that sounds unreasonable and stupid because you can’t just dictate to everyone else what they ought to like.
- Puppy darling John C. Wright has a ton of bloviating opinions if you care to try and decipher his writing style, which I would describe as mid-19th century douchebag eats an SAT vocab study guide. He accuses GRRM of not even reading the nominees, which GRRM responded to the other day.
Several of the slated writers and publications have had responses as well:
- Tom Mays, who wrote the slated short story “The Commuter” declined his nomination as soon as it came to light that it was likely as a result of the slate. If you’d like to read it anyway, it’s just $.99 at Amazon (free if you have Kindle Unlimited), though it sadly looks as though it’s not available for the Nook or Kobo.
- Brandon Sanderson might have been the second author to respond. He’s staying on the ballot for his novella.
- Alastair Reynolds is also accepting his nomination for his novella, Slow Bullets, but with much less wishy-washy and self-serving rhetoric than Sanderson gave to justify his decision.
- The folks at Tales to Terrify have a lot of mixed feelings about their nomination, and the Puppies ought to be ashamed of making people feel that way. They won’t be, because they’re awful people and don’t care, but they ought.
- Black Gate has once again declined their nomination.
- Daniel Polansky has decided to accept his nomination for The Builders, which I’m glad for as that was one of the novellas on my own ballot and I’d be sad to see him miss out on the chance at an award that I think he deserves just because of Puppy shenanigans.
In more big picture stuff:
- Chaos Horizon has already started analyzing the Puppy impact on the Hugos this year, though we won’t have the whole picture until more data is available in August.
- Kevin Standlee has an interesting proposal for a way to break slate voting. It basically amounts to moving the “No Award” portion of voting to a middle stage instead of it being the main event at Worldcon. I’m not sure it’s a perfect idea, but I think it’s worth a read.
- First, though, there’s already a plan in place–E Pluribus Hugo–that just has to be ratified this year. After the Puppy garbage happening again, I fully expect that to be in effect for 2017, and I doubt there will be any other measures proposed until we see if this one works.
I’m not sure how much I’ll be writing about the Hugos after this. I certainly intended to blog my way through the voter packet when that comes out, but at this point I’m going to just wait and see what that entails. Some of the Puppy picks I have already read. The Best Related Work shortlist, for example, I have read parts of and think it would be an absolute punishment (probably the Puppy intention) to read much more of. So, we’ll see. I may have thoughts on it, I may not.
While I didn’t want to clutter up this last week’s Weekend Links with Hugos stuff, probably further links of interest will show up there unless there’s another sudden, large influx of stuff that I want to share.
As far as my own reaction to another year of Puppy garbage–I was angry as hell last week, but after a few days to think about it I just feel sad and drained by the whole thing. It’s exhausting and disappointing and not much fun in spite of the occasional mock-able Puppy post on the topic. I’d much rather be talking about books I loved last year and discovering the work that other people loved enough to nominate than responding to the petty, childish antics of a bunch of people whose only goal seems to be to shit all over the things that other people love.