So What’s Happening With The Hugos

So the Hugo nominees have been announced…
I didn’t actually manage to get my own nominations in this year, sadly — I couldn’t get the website to work properly, but it wouldn’t have mattered because everything I nominated was small press stuff that only I would have nominated.
The “Sad Puppies” did, however, manage to get their nominations in, and got nearly a clean sweep of the nominations. Many of the nominations that weren’t from their slate were from “Vox Day”s overlapping slate, including “Day” himself, a man who has advocated throwing acid into the face of women and claims that black people are not homo sapiens.
This has caused a lot of controversy among SF fans, and I’m going to briefly explain why.
There are a group of science fiction writers, loosely centred around the right-wing author Larry Correia, who believe that real science fiction and fantasy is what they write, and that everything else is tainted by the evil social justice warriors. I’ve written a little about this group last year, and I’ll be dealing with their thought processes more in another post I plan to write, but for now just accept this group exists. They are mostly Mormon, almost exclusively white right-wing males, and regarded by most SF fans as hacks, though some of them are relatively popular hacks.
Two years ago, Correia launched what he called the “Sad Puppies” campaign, to get himself and his friends nominated for Hugo awards. As with many right-wing “we’re the silent majority not like you liberal elitist” campaigns, the argument seemed to be simultaneously “we will do this and prove we are better by winning the award” and “we will do this and prove things are biased against us by losing even though we’re clearly better”.
The latter happened — Correia and his friends lost, in a big way.
Last year, Correia repeated the campaign, this time including “Vox Day” to stir up some extra controversy, so if he and his friends lost it was clearly because people were politically biased against them. While my politics are as far from Correia’s as possible, I can say as a Hugo voter last year who read all the nominated works that the reason the Sad Puppies lost is because the work they nominated ranged from the barely competent to the utterly shit. Just on a basic writing level, most of the people nominated couldn’t actually put together sentences that were worth reading, and their ideas of plots were mostly old hat in the 1930s. Given that there were books and stories by good writers on the list, it was inevitable that anyone comparing them would go for the books with plots and ideas and well-written sentences.
This year, they’ve tried another tack. Brad Torgerson, the least obviously ideologically-motivated of the Sad Puppies (in that he merely sneers about queer and trans people while feigning politeness, rather than advocating their murder as “Day” does) put together the list, and has acted as a smiling “gosh gee all we want is some good old-fashioned storytelling” frontman, but in the background they’ve been recruiting people from Gamergate.
Now, in theory I have no problem with that — well, actually, that’s a lie, I have a HUGE fucking problem with Gamergate, given that one of their two biggest targets is the partner of one of my friends, and if you send death and rape threats to my friends’ partners, I am going to have problems with you. But ignoring things like that, the problem is what this does to the Hugos.
You see, anyone with a membership to Worldcon can nominate for the Hugos, and then the five things in each category that get the most nominations go on the ballot. Last year, when the “Sad Puppies” were keeping within SF fandom, this was fine. They got a couple of things in each category on the ballot, and people could vote for them or not as they chose. Mostly they chose not.
This time, the Sad Puppies have swamped the nominations with people who aren’t SF fans, who don’t read SF, but who want to “humble SJW” and “fight the SJW infection” (SJW — right-wing arseholes’ abbreviation for “Social Justice Warrior”, their term for anyone who cares about anyone other than straight white cis men). And this causes a problem, because they nominated as a bloc.
While people nominating based on their own actual taste will all be nominating different things — some might nominate Charles Stross, or Ann Leckie, or John Scalzi, or even some of the Sad Puppy slate like maybe Kevin Anderson, whoever they think wrote the best book — the “Sad Puppies” were all nominating the same five things in each category. And as such they’ve swamped the ballot paper.
In some categories, one or two non-Sad-Puppy nominations made it — Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Sword, for example, was so hugely popular that no-one could keep it off, and the same goes for Doctor Who and Game of Thrones in the drama categories — but the Sad Puppies and their friends make up all or nearly all of the nominations.
This is strictly within the rules, but it’s the worst kind of entryism in that it denies the majority a voice.
The majority of SF fans have proved, for several years running, that they simply don’t like the work of the Sad Puppy faction. They think the only way they can get an award, then, is to stop there being a non-Sad-Puppy option on the ballot. They’re probably right about that.
Except for one thing. There’s a No Award option on the ballot. If everyone uses that option — either because they genuinely think that nothing the Sad Puppies have nominated deserves an award on its own merits, or because they want to protest against entryism, or both — then no award will be given.
Personally, I’d rather see no award be given than to reward entryism, especially entryism using a group (Gamergate) that in my mind are only not considered a terrorist group because they’re white men who target less-privileged women.
I urge EVERYONE who can afford a supporting membership to worldcon this year to buy one, read the entries, and give your honest opinion in the vote. I will, of course, be reading everything before I vote on anything, but given the subliterate, cretinous, shit that these people spew out and call stories, I don’t think there’ll be many things getting a preference below “No Award” this year.

Edit April 7 I’ve added a roundup of links to discussions of this by people who aren’t cis white men. I’m quite uncomfortable with the amount of traffic this blog post has received, because these people’s targets are women, LGBT+ people, and PoCs, and as a straight cis white man my opinion shouldn’t drown out theirs. If you’re at all interested in this issue, please also read those posts.

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36 Responses to So What’s Happening With The Hugos

  1. Pingback: Vox Day: Christians need to follow the lead of #GamerGate and the Spanish Inquisition to defeat seculars, Satan | we hunted the mammoth

  2. P says:

    are only not considered a terrorist group because they’re white men who target less-privileged women

    I think that’s more because it’s quite easy to tell the difference between ‘an organised group of murderers with the level of ideological commitment, tactical nous, and resources needed to launch lethal attacks against civilians of the authorities’, which is what a terrorist group like the IRA or the RAF is, and ‘Gamergate’ which is ‘a bunch of pathetic losers trying to distract themselves from the fact their lives are meaningless and they spend all their time playing video games by impotently hurling abuse over the internet in a cause which anyone sane can see is trivial but they somehow manage to delude themselves into thinking somehow matters’.

    I mean they’re hardly the IRA. Hell, they’re hardly the LVF, and to call the LVF terrorists would be a fucking joke.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      I disagree, person with a made-up email address and single-letter name.
      One of Gamergate’s favoured tactics is “SWATting”, which involves making false reports of serious crime, so that teams of armed police break into the houses of its enemies.
      Given the likelihood of one of their victims getting shot in such a raid, those are at the very least *potentially* lethal attacks, and should be treated as attempted murder.

      • P says:

        That’s hardly ‘terrorism’ though, is it? Poentially lethal it msy be, but it’s a whole different order of threat to an organised, resourced bombing campaign, surely you must agree?

        I mean, what definition for ‘terrorist group’ are you using thag includes the IRA, the RAF, and ‘Gamer-gate’ but doesn’t include the Krays or, well, just any spree killers?

        • Andrew Hickey says:

          People who commit and threaten violent acts in attempts to cause terror, in service of a political ideology. Which they are doing.
          (Also, it’s you who introduced both the IRA and the RAF to this discussion, not me).

          • P says:

            You wrote ‘terrorist group’, and the IRA and RAF are pretty much the prototypical example of ‘terrorist groups’. If you say ‘X is a terrorist group’ then you are saying that in some sense X is in the same class as the IRA, a honest-to-god no-buts-about-it terrorist group, are you not?

            If a terrorist group is anyone who commits or threatens violent acts in serbice of a political ideology, does that mean any looney who writes to the PM in green crayon a letter saying, ‘repeal the bedroom tax or I’ll kill your children’ is a ‘terrorist’?

            As far as I can see according to your definition they would be, but to my mind that devalues the idea of a ‘terrorist group’ to the point where it’s basically meaningless, or at least synonymous with ‘crackpot’. Certainly no one who has actually experienced a terrorist campaign, or lost friends to terrorist bombs (or, topically, had their mother ‘disappeared’ by Gerry Adams), is likely to agree with you that anyone who threatens violence, however crazy and impotent they are, deserves to be put in the same category as groups that have actually really killed thousands.

            So are you happy to devalue ‘terrorist’ to that extent, or is there some refinement to your definition of ‘terrorist’ that would rule out just any loony with a green crayon and a grudge?

            • Andrew Hickey says:

              Bored now, Mr Kitson. Your new fake email and IP address are going in the blocklist with your old ones.

        • C.S.Strowbridge says:

          “That’s hardly ‘terrorism’ though, is it?”

          Terrorism is the use of violence, OR THE THREAT OF VIOLENCE, to get a political goal. GamerGaters clearly fall under the category with their rape threats, SWATing, etc.

    • MatGB says:

      The LVF has been designated as a terrorist organization by the governments of the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and the United States

      Using threats of violence or intimidation for political purposes is the very definition of terrorism (feel free to look it up).

      Gamergate has been actively, deliberately, causing fear for life and limb on its targets. They have caused terror. Their targets are politically inspired. That’s terrorism. doesn’t matter how big they are, or how competent they are, or how successful they are, it matters what they try to do.

      • P says:

        They may have been designated a terrorist group, but they are actually just a disorganised bunch of thugs, as anyone who actually knows about the situation rather that reading Wikipedia would realise.

        • James Brough says:

          Having been related by marriage to several ex – members of the IRA and having held a job for 10 years which on occasion involved interviewing terrorists, I’m quite happy to see many terrorists described as disorganised thugs.

        • MatGB says:

          as anyone who actually knows about the situation rather that reading Wikipedia would realise.

          Well, you know, several years studying international terrorism as part of my degree is a little bit beyond reading Wikipedia, which is why I do realise it.

          But, y’know, why assume someone is discussing in good faith when you can just attack them based on the presumption they know as little as you?

          • Andrew Hickey says:

            Just so you know, I’ve blocked the person you’re replying to from replying (his IP and fake email address will automatically get a comment sent to the trash without me seeing it). I believe it’s someone who’s commented previously, and been blocked previously, doing so from a new IP. If it is, he’s a known troll who has attempted to derail threads on the blogs of several people you know, some very well, and who tries to appear like he’s debating sensibly but in fact is just trying to get a rise (a troll in the old “do not feed” sense, not the new “sending death threats” one).
            If not, he certainly seems similar to him, so no great loss.

            • MatGB says:

              Yeah, I saw comments out of order (and have been discussing it with James while he definitely doesn’t pet the dogs because you know he never does that) so missed that replying was pointless.

              The idea that you pick the most extreme (and successful) group and assert they’re the benchmark by which you measure all others is pig headed idiocy of the highest order, you don’t even need to be competent to be a terrorist (and I’ve got many issues with the UK law definition which includes some animal rights and similar activities that I don’t think should count).

              Ah well. (but, y’know, spent three years on a politics degree with a specialty in international relations and transnational crime, did the terrorism modules in year two, that would the the year that ended summer 2001… Oh, and I actually came here via a link from our mutual friend who grew up there FFS)

  3. Richard Gadsden says:

    Part of the problem is using multi-member plurality for nominations. So the diverse selections of SF fans who aren’t Sad Puppies lose out to a concentrated block vote. Switching to STV, which would allow those votes to transfer and would stop the Sad Puppies from having five votes each, would pretty much guarantee one or two Sad Puppies on the nominations each year, but would also ensure that there would be a couple of something else.

    • MatGB says:

      And another, bigger, part is that very few of those eligible to nominate actually do so, the number of nominations per category is always tiny compared to the number of votes cast.

      Getting as many as possible of those eligible to nominate works as well as vote in the final ballot is an obvious solution, no idea ho easy that would be.

      • naath says:

        I will be voting, but didn’t nominate. For the simple reason that I read only a handful of works written last year and didn’t feel like I could honestly say they were “better than everything else” (even just subjectively, to me). It’s much harder to read a lot of eligible works if you aren’t in the US (because the publishing industry inserts mysterious delays, or even just doesn’t bring things over, and yes, I *could* import myself by the shipping costs get huge); I think I’d be more likely to nominate if more eligible works came to my attention throughout the year (rather than all-at-once when people suggest nominations) and I could actually get copies.

        • MatGB says:

          I’m coming to the conclusion that, from now on, if you read something and think it’s good, nominate regardless. Nominations should be “the best thing I encountered that’s eligible this year” not “I think this is the best of everything this year”. If enough other people liked the work it gets shortlisted, if not it’s not a problem.

          Because it’s certainly the case that a subsection of eligible nominators aren’t fairly trying to nominate from the best of a wide field, I suspect a chunk haven’t even read what they’ve encountered. If you like it, it’s a valid nomination, because the field is so big no one can read enough/all of it to be sure.

          Personal example, if I could have nominated, it would have been, for best novel, Leckie’s most recent and Aaronovitch’s most recent in the Peter Grant series, because that’s all I’ve read that was eligible (that I’m aare of/can remember) and I liked both. The former’s on the ballot, the latter I know got some nominations.

    • misssbgmail says:

      You are SUCH a lib dem. And so’s my wife.
      *blows kisses at you both*

      • Andrew Hickey says:

        I did think, as soon as I saw Richard’s name, “he’ll be saying STV is the solution”. Either that or HS2, but I think voting systems are more likely to solve this particular problem ;)

        • Andrew Hickey says:

          (I *do* hope that didn’t come across wrong. Richard’s enthusiasm for those things is one of the reasons I like him so much, and he’s entirely right that STV *would* solve the problem)

  4. I have bought a membership for the first time in my life, because damn it, I will not see bigots take over my genre. (You know me from Lib Dem circles, as Liz W. I’m using my other, now-legal name here to avoid confusion with the well-known SF author who shares my previous name.)

  5. Pingback: stupid puppies | englebright

  6. Lindsey says:

    I am another first-time voter and I hate that it’s to spite the spiters. I haven’t voted previously because I generally hadn’t read enough of the slates, though the voter’s packets help with that, but perhaps I will exercise that franchise more often in the future. I also hope they revise the nomination process in some fashion (perhaps as suggested above) that is not more restrictive and thus less representative all over again.

    Really though I’m just sad, the Hugos were imperfect but kind of a fun thing. Why do people gotta ruin stuff?

  7. I have no plans to read any of this schlock after reading Vox Day’s hilariously boring, uneventful short story last year. Scalzi’s post on this is right: it’s totally within the rules to organize a giant bloc of voters to vote based purely on politics, as the Sad Puppies did. It’s also within the rules to vote against them without reading a single one.

  8. Pingback: 06apr2015 | Aditya B.'s Blog About Things

  9. I didn’t know this was going on and it really bewilders and depresses me that a group of people would do something unfair in order to protest unfairness.There seem to be more vocal groups who will go to great lengths to get what they want, regardless of reason. Anyway, I don’t understand people whose goals seem to include “I get mine, you never get yours.”

  10. Mike Taylor says:

    Well, Andrew, I strongly agree with almost everything you wrote here, to the point where I’d almost rather the board was swept by “No award” than that the non-Puupy entries win, since that would send a clearer “we’re not playing your game” message.

    That said, even though it’s been done to death in this thread already, I do feel I have to weigh in on this: “a group (Gamergate) that in my mind are only not considered a terrorist group because they’re white men who target less-privileged women.”

    Here’s why I find myself forced to agree with “P” on this specific issue: because terrorism-creep is such an issue in the formulation of legislation of recent governments. We are forever being faced with detention-without-trial bills and similar for terrorist. Every time there is, rightly, a civil-rights-based opposition to such things, the government tells us “it will only be used on terrorists”. The next thing we know, it’s being used against all sorts of people, because the definition of “terrorist” gets broadened and smudged till it meets the need of the people in question.

    I don’t want to do anything to contribute to that dilution of what “terrorist” means. You can legitimately have a very low opinion of Gamegate people without wasting a word that has a specific, powerful meaning that is already being eroded far too quickly.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      I don’t think it’s a dilution of the word terrorist to use it on people who threaten and commit acts of violence in pursuit of political aims. The Ku Klux Klan, for example, are a terrorist organisation, and Gamergate seems very close to them in terms of behaviour. Sending threats of death and rape, and sending armed people to break into someone’s house, amply meets that definition to me.
      There is a problem with mission creep on “anti-terrorist” legislation, but the solution to that is not to have specific “anti-terrorist” legislation at all, because it’s usually not needed — blowing up a building, or kneecapping someone, are criminal acts whatever the political motivation.

      • Iain Coleman says:

        There’s also “threatening to shoot up a university lecture theatre unless a speech is cancelled” (the speech was cancelled). That is unambiguously and straightforwardly an act of terrorism.

    • gavinburrows says:

      Mike, the actual argument of P (or whatever his real name was) was that you couldn’t be a terrorist if you’re disorganised. Which is of course absurd. It’s not like driving, you don’t have to pass a terrorism proficiency test before you’re allowed to get started. And if I try to rob a bank and badly fail, I don’t get to cite ineptitude in my defence.
      Generally, you are of course right to be concerned about terrorism creep, and for the reasons you give. But it seems to me that while the number of people who get caught in ostensibly anti-terrorist legislation does grow ever-broader (and is effectively now all of us), the people labelled as terrorists are normally quite precisely targeted, even when this is in defiance of all common sense. While there’s been times when the police have mass-arrested entire anti-fascist demonstrations, I don’t think I’ve once seen anyone official describe the fascist Britain First (a group who have aggressively occupied mosques) as using terrorist methods. Wrenching the term back to deal with the actual culprits would seem to me the way to go.

      I can only think of one thing to add to the overall point. Jack Graham hits the nail on the head when he says in the podcast we’re dealing with people who psychologically got stuck in middle school. And Phil Sandifer’s right to add that while they may have been picked on a bit during morning break that doesn’t exactly equate to patriarchy or institutional racism. I guess what’s interesting to me is that my background overlaps with theirs to a fair degree. For a while in my teens I was the antisocial nerd with my head permanently buried in a book, who made no effort with anyone else and thought it was the world’s job to come to an understanding of me.

      But precisely what I don’t think is “however extremely they’re reacting, I suppose I get where they’re coming from”. Instead, it just makes me more contemptuous of them. Instead I think, “guys, since I was fourteen, I did a bit of growing up. Maybe you could try some of that.”

      (Followed by a string of expletives. I can’t avoid thinking them but I’ll refrain from typing them out. Most people are probably supplying their own anyway.)

      • Andrew Hickey says:

        P, I have ample reason to believe, is Steven Kitson, who comments as SK on various other blogs you read like Andrew Rilstone’s (and maybe on yours on occasion, I don’t remember for sure). He’s a prime example of sealioning, and of trolling in the old sense of just trying to wind people up, rather than the more recent sense. I tolerated him for a while here, because his MO is to get very, very close to the line but never actually cross it, but he went far further and (to my mind) more than crossed the line on several other people’s blogs, including my wife’s LiveJournal, so I blocked his old IP address and all his comments were marked as spam unread. I wasn’t *certain* this new person was him, but after four or five comments I’m now sure enough.

        Of course this has the babymen who are trying to comment here (but not getting allowed through) screaming about censorship and me not wanting to hear dissenting voices. No, I just don’t want to hear Steven Kitson’s voice. I’ve had more than enough of it.

        (Totally separately, I *am* also silencing dissenting voices here. I don’t believe there’s a “debate” about whether it was OK for the Taliban to shoot Milala, or whether we should throw acid in women’s faces, or whether black people are homo sapiens, or whether homosexuality is a birth defect, and I refuse to give a platform to those who will defend or associate with those who advocate those positions.)

        • gavinburrows says:

          “I don’t believe there’s a “debate” about whether it was OK for the Taliban to shoot Milala”
          Absolutely. Someone doesn’t get to say girls shouldn’t be allowed to go to school, then claim everyone should get the right to express themselves.

      • Andrew Hickey says:

        (And yes, to answer your actual points, I agree. I was bullied heavily as a child too. I was fat, ugly, had Asperger’s, and spent my time reading comics and SF, of COURSE I was bullied. But even when I was fourteen I didn’t think the way they do, and I certainly don’t now I’m in my mid thirties)

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