Thoughts on the Hugo Awards

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From David Gerrold’s GoH speech:

But as much as being a Guest of Honor is an acknowledgment to be desired by any author or artist or fan, there’s an even greater honor that we rarely talk about, because most of us take it for granted. It’s one that we all share.
It is the honor of being a part of one of the most remarkable communities on the planet.

See, I didn’t come here to be honored — well, a little bit — I came here to honor you.

Think about the kind of people we are. We aren’t just dreamers, we’re builders. The stories we’ve written have helped design the future that we’ve built and are continuing to build. Whether it’s things as mundane as sliding doors or smartphones or as mind-blowing as a moon-landing, a space station, and robots exploring Mars and Pluto — none of these things happened by accident. They happened because of the very human urge to explore and discover and ask the next question.

So I’m a fan — part of fandom not because it’s a great place to sell books — [holds up book, this is the commercial] — but because it’s a much better place to confer, converse, and otherwise hobnob with my brother (and sister) wizards. I’m here to enjoy hanging out with old friends and new.

And also because as readers, you are the toughest possible audience. You are the goalposts. You are the challenge that every author must meet. You are the applause or the catcalls. Ultimately, you are the ones who define excellence in this genre. You do it by what you buy and who you honor.  (David Gerrold.  Read the whole thing here.  Emphasis added.)

~~~

While I’ve been pretty well spot-on with my suppositions and prognostications regarding the 2015 Hugo Awards, I was gravely mistaken regarding the aftermath:  I thought that for a couple of days following the end of Worldcon (maybe even as much as a week), things would quiet down.  Folks need to recover from the trip, to sit back and assess and just take a rest from the whole thing.

Nope.  If anything, the volume has been turned up to 11 on a 1 to 10 dial.

Unsurprisingly, the pro-puppy rhetoric is now even more lockstep than it was before:  nearly ALL of them are –

proclaiming victory

lauding Vox Day’s manipulation of fandom

belittling the presenters, the attendees, the voters

attacking (vociferously) the argument that voting No Award was not slate voting

threatening further action next year

attacking the Business Meeting, the democratic process of WSFS, Worldcon’s efforts at diversity, David Gerrold and Astericks.

Yes indeed.  The Puppies are so apoplectic that they have resorted to attacking marks of punctuation.

~~~

I find the most appropriate expression for the whole Puppy mess is “Don’t shit where you eat.”  If some mommy dogs had done their jobs a couple of decades ago, the need to separate areas of consumption from areas of waste production might not have to be explained to (some supposed) adults.  So let’s hope that the biological tenet that “no organism can survive in an environment composed of its own waste” is true.  If so, there’ll be a natural end to this whole mess.

~~~

One has to admit that Puppygate 2015 has certainly brought greater attention – and presumably sales – from a certain set of readers, to a certain set of authors and one particular publishing concern.  That this is the “winning” goal for the puppy’s would seem to be an easy assumption to make, but this is actually nothing but a collateral benefit.  The real goal – or at least the one that we all should be most concerned about is “burning down the house”.

Ted Beale was butt-hurt by his removal from SFWA.  In his own mind, it’s probably the first “loss” he ever experienced in his entire life.  We are now witness to, and unwilling participants in, the revenge.

The purpose of that revenge is to utterly destroy everyone and everything that is even remotely associated with SFWA and the science fiction field.  It has extended specifically to John Scalzi, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, TOR books, David Gerrold, WSFS, Worldcon and Fandom in general.

Of course it has morphed beyond Beale; some authors saw this as a good opportunity to gain publicity and market for themselves and now find themselves in a situation where they have done irreparable harm to their careers.  Unfortunately, the consequences of backing down or backing out of the fray are likely to be doing even more harm to themselves within the communities they’ve built around this.  If they back out, they’ll have no audience.  Caught between a rock and a hard place, they’ll continue to double down, as hanging on to what they already have will be seen as the lesser of two evils.

~~~

Next year?  Several possibilities come to mind.

The most potentially problematic would be a very strong slate for all of the works that seem most likely to win on their own merits.  In other words, the slate will mirror popular fannish choice.

So what do good fans, fans who reject slate voting and campaigning for awards do?  Do we vote No Award for all works that appear on slates, regardless of whether or not they are deserving (as happened this year in a VERY clear rejection of campaigning)?

I’d say yes, but in the face of a ballot that is comprised entirely of Hugo worthy works, I do not think that would be effective (just as it was not effective for the Best Dramatic Presentation: Long Form – in which a slated work, Guardians of the Galaxy, won).

Voters felt that they had an excuse to vote for a slated work in BDP:LF because, as the argument goes, the studios have little to no involvement with fandom and, therefore, no skin in the puppy game.  The problem is that making an exception, as fandom did here, weakens the argument that the vote for No Award was a vote against slates.  (But Guardians really deserved it!  Yes it did.  So probably did Toni Weiskopf, as did all of those forced off the ballot by the slates.  No exceptions were made in the other categories.  That films have less of a connection to fandom should not have influenced the vote.)

Be that as it may, the results for BDP:LF are indicative of the way voting would go next year if the slates and final ballot are virtually identical.  Fans will be tired of not giving out deserving awards (even though there were very few deserving works this past year) and they will find easy excuses, largely justifiable ones, to vote for something other than No Award.

In order to counter that, the only really effective strategy is to rob whatever slates are produced of their validity.  And this can only be done by the nominees themselves.

If nominees and potential nominees take a strong personal stand against their inclusion on a slate ballot, they will provide fandom with the “excuse” it needs to justify voting for a work that appears on a slate.

I strongly urge anyone who might even be remotely considered for an award next year to make a public statement regarding their rejection of slates.  It might go something like this:

“I reject the use of voting slates, bloc voting and campaigning for any award I may be considered for now or in the future.  Organized campaigning for awards devalues the award, the participation of those voting and the entire process.  Any award I might win that results from campaigning would also be devalued.

I will not participate in voting slates, bloc voting or campaigning on behalf of others or myself.

I do not give anyone permission to include my works on a voting slate, either because they genuinely believe it should win, or because they are attempting to game a voting system.

Further, should I become aware that I or one of my works has been included on a slate, a voting bloc or in a campaign, I will request that it be removed and will make my request public in the belief that potential voters will respect my intent and will vote accordingly.”

Doing something like this (my wording is not mandatory but I do believe it covers the salient points) publicly should pull the teeth from most of the shenanigans. For those who have accused fandom of being a clique that decides who the Hugo winners will be, the above ought to effectively answer their concerns;  it doesn’t specify what kind of campaigning it refers to (not that I believe there is an SJW cabal).  For those worried that they’ll be stuck on a slate without their knowledge, the above will absolutely insure that such action will be immediately brought to their attention (no need to hunt the internet;  your fans will do it for you) and, of course, the voters will be able to vote for nominees who have made this or a similar statement, regardless of what the troublemakers may do.

Oh sure.  Some of the works on their slates will undoubtedly win and the puppies will attempt to crow about it, but as we’ve seen from various bits of analysis from this year, they represent at most 20% of the voters (probably closer to 10%), their influence will have been diminished and 2017 will most likely bring about a new era in voting rules.

In other words, the rest of us will be able to (finally) ignore the bleating.

But here’s the real kicker of this strategy:  in many cases this will reverse the effect of bloc voting.  The puppies will slavishly vote their slates (the slates of good, deserving works they’ve put out there to game the system) and the rest of fandom will be voting its conscience, with the result that most award categories will see a worthy, deserving and widely popular work win.

Rather than forcing fandom to pick from works on their slates, fandom will be co-opting the puppy votes, forcing them to vote the way it was always intended to be.

Adopting this strategy has one other potential benefit.  If the puppies recognize it for what it is and it causes them to create slates that are not worthy works, we’ll all once again be able to happily reject it by voting No Award.

I feel strongly enough about the effectiveness of this plan that I’m going to create a page on the site with the statement above on it and am asking potential nominees to put their name in a comment to indicate that they are in agreement (or put your own wording in the comments along with your name).  I don’t expect a lot of takers early on, but I do think that will change the closer we get to April of 2016.

~~~

I’m as guilty as the next fan, but I’m gonna try.  Ignore the puppies.  Sad to say, but most of them (if not all) are cynically using this kerfuffle to up their profiles and sales.  (I’m pretty sure there’s no way to distinguish a “puppy dollar” from a “fannish dollar”)  Their audiences are large enough to keep them in toys and relative comfort, and they can continue to play to their base very well without the likes of us throwing gasoline on their fires.  They don’t need us and we certainly don’t need them, at least not as long as they keep acting the way they’ve been.

~~~

It’s pretty obvious to me that many fans on the internet (of whatever persuasion) have not availed themselves of Google or Bing to learn more about fandom (even though there are plenty of fine resources out there for doing so.  Try the SF Encyclopedia, Wikipedia, The Fan History Project, Fanac, Fanlore the Hugo Awards site). This has hurt fandom, if commentary regarding the Hugo awards on various sites is anything to go by (the Hugos should be for all the fans, not just the members of Worldcon hur hur hur).
It is a fannish responsibility to pass along our traditions, mores, social constructs.  If you have a chance to explain to another fan why we don’t do what the puppies have done, take advantage.  You will be doing all of us a service.

~~~

I don’t think there has ever been a time that I’ve been more proud of fandom.  Fandom’s seemingly chaotic, anarchic nature proved to be its greatest strength in defeating the puppy assault on the awards; looking in from the outside (as most of them are), the puppies saw weakness, confusion and widely ranging opinion.  What they did not see, could not see from the outside, was fandom’s embrace of history, tradition and shared values.  (They’ve seen it now though.)

~~~

A short sampling of some of the, ummm?, thoughts, of self-identified rabid puppies:

Burn it all down. We’re done with you.

Jim Butcher was voted below no award. Burn it all down.

Toni Weisskopf was voted below no award. Burn it all down.

Irene Gallo called the works bad-to-reprehensible. Burn it all down.

It was called the Year of the Asterisk. Burn it all down.

Patrick Hayden yelled and cursed at L. Jagi Lamplighter. Burn it all down.

The list goes on. They’ve called us racists without knowing us. They’ve called us misogynists without listening to us. They call us trolls when we disagree, and they somehow think banning us makes them stronger. They’ve called us jackasses, and they’ve called us dipshits, and most of us are standing here because we once tried to talk.

But then we learned.

They are the racist ones. They are the sexist ones. Anyone with clarity can see this. They attack the white, they condemn the male. They applaud their own sly brand of racism, but a racism that is socially acceptable is still not okay. To hell with them, and burn it down.

They speak of privilege. The only privilege that has been at play in the community is the #DiversityPrivilege. The privilege of the liberal, of the liars and the hypocrites and the would-be controllers of expression. So burn it all down.

The faceless rabid don’t make deals. I’m happy to spend good money the rest of my life. Money on fire to burn it all down.

and

As xxxxxxxxx pointed out, next year we should still be able to control the entire set of nominees. (Assuming that either the No Award bloc is exposed as a fraud and prevented from nominating, or GamerGate shows up to explain why SJWs should not bear false witness against GG.)

I guess the right approach for next year depends on what side the con committee is on.

xxxxxxx, do you know whether the Helsinki convention in 2017 will be run by SJWs?

and

now you’ve seen the gist of it.  No need to go hunting for more.

1 COMMENT

  1. […] Laertes on August 25, 2015 at 8:01 am said: “@Brian Z: My rule is that if you’re on a slate, and you tell the slate-makers to fuck off, and do so before nominations close, where I can hear it, and in stern enough terms that I think you mean it, then I won’t hold it against you. That goes for Scalzi, or Weisskopf, or even JCW.” Yes. As soon as the next Puppy slates (or “recommendation lists” from known slate supporters) come out, we first need to make sure that everyone on a slate or slate-equivalent knows about it and understands what is involved (including the media creators; perhaps GRRM could help get the word to them). Those who do not want to be part of a Social Injustice movement should say so, loud and clear, as soon as possible Then, if their work is good enough, they can still be nominated legimitately and have a fair shot at a genuine award. I have never nominated anything for a Hugo before because my reading tends to lag a year or more behind publication dates, but I will make an exception at least for the coming year. If I think that an eligible work is worthy of consideration, then I will certainly nominate it even if I haven’t read/seen much else in the category. Other nominators will take up the slack—we are all in this together. When it comes to the final vote, I will follow the same policy that I did this year and rank No Award above anything on a slate, unless the creator has explicitly withdrawn from the slate. Everything else is judged by merit (and this year I did no-award one thing that I thought was not good enough even though it was unslated). Karl-Johan Norén on August 25, 2015 at 8:02 am said: “Regarding Toni Weisskopf, I consider her one of the key enablers of the Puppy narrative. A large part of the mindset that went into the puppies found a fertile ground and safe haven on Baen’s Bar (granted, this started even before Jim Baen’s death), which Weisskopf is responsible for.” Yes, yes, yes. I consider her to be very much a guilty party, the formerly welcome guest who brought in her untrained pets and let them poop on the carpet while giggling at how cute they are and praising them for their performance. The other thing I dislike about Toni Weisskopf is that she achieved her present position as a direct result of her personal relationship with her late boss. This is no secret; I believe it is even on her Wikipedia page. One the one hand, I think that people’s sex lives are their own business; but on the other hand, I really despise sexual cronyism in professional settings, having run up against it several times in mundane life as well. I cannot imagine any circumstances in which I would vote for her for anything, although of course life is full of surprises. Now those guys are just commenters on Mike’s site, how about Steve Davidson and Amazing Stories: https://amazingstories.com/2015/08/thoughts-hugo-awards/ […]

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