Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, writer, and possessed by cats

Tag: Sad Puppies 4

And so it continues — Hugo Awards Part Whatever

I’ve been quiet about the Hugos up until now. It isn’t that I am any less convinced in the right of the fans to nominate works they feel are worthy of winning that award — a fan award — than before. In fact, if anything, I am more convinced of it than ever. No, I’ve stayed quiet because life has been busy and I’ve been head down writing most of the year. However, now that the nominees — sorry, finalists — have been announced, I feel I need to make a couple of comments.

First, I want to applaud Kate Paulk for doing exactly what she said she would do with Sad Puppies 4. She continued what Brad Torgersen started, making SP4 totally transparent. She set up a website where anyone — and I do mean anyone — could recommend titles they felt worthy of Hugo consideration. Those recommendations were visible to anyone who wanted to look. When the time came for Hugo nominations, she collated all the recommendations and listed the top 10 in each category (I believe there were a few categories where there weren’t enough recommendations to make 10 but I could be wrong). She posted those as well as linked to where every recommendation could be seen in table format. There was no attempt to filter the list because of who wrote it or what their political bent might be or by what the “message” of the work might be.

During the course of the year, Kate came under some attack — all false — and she continued doing what she said she would do. She ran SP4 in such an open and honest way that the attacks were laughable. So, again, kudos to Kate for her hard work. She proved the accusations that the Sad Puppy movement was about nothing more than making sure misogynistic white males of a conservative bent were nominated.

Second, I wish I could say I was surprised by how quickly the condemnations from the “Real Fans” began after the Hugo finalists were announced. But I’m not. The laments on Twitter and Facebook started even before the finalists were announced. Within an hour of the list being made public, one author said she didn’t have the strength to go through the next however many months of Hugo fighting so she needed to go workout. Scalzi had a piece published claiming that the Puppies couldn’t take credit for Neil Gaiman’s success (and I am still trying to figure that one out. Where in the hell did anyone associated with either the Sad Puppies or the Rabids claim that?). Steve Davidson had his hit piece ready to go and, from what I gather, is already posturing for a Noah Ward slate — of course, he doesn’t call it a slate. It seems when he recommends voting a certain way, that’s not a slate.

One of the comments I saw on Facebook came from someone who really has a hard-on for the Puppies. He feels that we stole the award from authors last year and are doing so again this year. According to him, the nominees this year have made the Hugo an award that is no longer an honor. Hmm. An award that is supposed to be a fan award, that saw more nominations than ever before, is no longer an honor to win because what? Because the wrong fans are the ones voting?

Sour grapes anyone?

I said it last year and I will say it again, there is a group of Fans who have decided they basically own the Hugo. They are the only ones with the right to say who votes and who wins. What has happened the last few years have proven it. They blame the Puppies for ripping apart fandom but that isn’t true. What has happened is that the fans of science fiction have been reminded that they do have a voice and the Fans don’t like it. At least not a group of those Fans (note I am not talking about the every day fans, the ones like you and me who pay to read the books, to go to the movies and who have supported the genre in our own way for years and years. The difference is that we don’t necessarily go to the “right” cons, etc.)

Third, and worse in many ways, are the attacks I’ve seen this morning on Facebook focusing on Moira Greyland. Her article, The Story of Moira Greyland, is a finalist this year in the Best Related Work category. This morning, yet again from a science fiction author, I saw a comment about how, after reading the post, the author felt sick. Now, I will give her the benefit of the doubt and hope she meant she felt sick after reading about everything Ms. Greyland suffered. However, in the comments to her FB post, there was no doubt that some of her “friends” felt Ms. Greyland was the offending party. She was wrong for airing the genre’s dirty laundry in public. She was wrong for being damaged by what happened to her. Most of all, she was wrong is letting the wrong people — Puppies, you know — support her. Lost was the message that she had been a victim. Hell, she is still a victim because there are those in Fandom who would rather not discuss what happened and would blame her for making it public.

And yet the Puppies are evil and tearing Fandom apart.

Then there is the tale of Tom Mays. His short story made the finals for this year’s Hugo. He accepted the nomination when he was notified by the Hugo Committee. In his post, he notes he did so with some trepidation because of the possibility of Vox and company filling the nominations this year. He had hoped there would not be “manipulation of the process” or “agenda” by one group shown when the final nominees were announced. Since it is now clear Vox and company managed to “manipulate” the process, he is withdrawing his short story from consideration. I won’t condemn Mr. Mays for his decision. It is obvious from his post that he put a lot of thought in before making it. My concern is that this is just the first of who knows how many titles that were nominated by fans — by people who truly believed the title deserves a Hugo — that will be withdrawn. How are those fans going to respond when an author they like suddenly says their vote isn’t as worthy as someone else’s?

Here’s the thing. Those in the Hugo contretemps who self-identify as Fans have made it very clear that they don’t want pesky outsiders involved in the process. They have taken steps to have the rules amended to make it more difficult for anyone to be nominated. they have accused Sad Puppies and Rabid alike of manipulating the system. And yet they see nothing wrong with manipulating the system last year to No Award so many of the categories. They lament the fact that “deserving” authors didn’t make it onto the ballot but they have no problem whatsoever preventing authors and artists the fans feel deserve a fan award.

So what did they tell us to do. They told us to leave the Hugo alone and go start our own award. Then, when DragonCon announced the Dragon Awards, they laughed and pointed their fingers. They said the award wouldn’t last. After all, it was being given out by a “small” regional con. Pardon me while I laugh hysterically. This sort of comment coming from those who support an award that for years was lucky to get a couple of hundred votes cast just shows how out of touch with the public and with the fans they are.

The Dragon Awards are exactly what a fan award should be. You don’t have to pay for the privilege to nominate or vote. All you have to do is register online. You can embrace your inner geekdom and fandom and not worry about someone condemning you because you might not be of the same political or social ilk as the next guy. It is a celebration of the genre, something the Hugo used to be.

So here’s the thing. Let the Fans have the Hugo. Vox has already pretty much burned it down anyway. Let the Fans have the award they can be “proud” of. Let the Hugo fade into obscurity. Wait, it pretty much already has where the every day fan is concerned. Fandom is aging. Fandom (with a small f) is growing. We see it with the ever increasing size of the various Comic-Con conventions. We see it with the increasing size of DragonCon. Those cons will help save fandom. I’m not sure Fandom can be, not as long as it continues to insulate itself from the rest of us.

So here’s my recommendation. If you are going to vote for the Hugos, do so based solely on one criterion. Do you believe the work deserves to win the Hugo, a fan award that once meant everything in the genre and not just to some fans and authors but to fandom in general? If you do, then vote for it. Do not vote for something — or against it — because of who nominated it. Vote on the work. Does it entertain? Is it well-written? If it has a message, did you enjoy that, learn from it or did it beat you over the head until you wanted to throw it against the wall?

In other words, unlike the other side, I’m advocating that you judge the work itself and nothing else. For me, I’m registering for the Dragon Awards and casting my vote there. Then I’ll stand back and watch Vox bring the Hugos to their knees because Fandom was foolish enough to think they could push him into a corner and he would back down.

Some thoughts and an update

I’ll be honest. I forgot to blog yesterday. I’m still getting used to blogging on a regular basis. I promise I will get better at it. Still, I did manage to get my blog up at Mad Genius Club yesterday and I am blogging at According to Hoyt today. I enjoy going both blogs because they let me bog about different things. MGC, as most of you know, is focused on writing and publishing. ATH allows me to talk politics, history, whatever. This blog is a combination of those as well as whatever strikes me as needing to be said.

Which brings me to yesterday’s post at MGC. I admitted from the start of it that I had not read the pleadings in the case I referenced. In fact, the point of the post was to applaud the Guardian, a site I rarely find myself in agreement with, for giving the other side of the suit filed by author Sherrilyn Kenyon against fellow author Cassandra Clare. I commented on the possible points in the suit based on what Ms. Clare said.

And you guessed it, some of the usual suspects condemned me for commenting on something I knew nothing about. Worse, these same folks condemned what I’d said not because I might have been wrong but because — gasp — I support the Sad Puppies last year and this. You see, I am one of those wrong thinking folks who believe that if an award is a fan award then it should be open to nominations and votes by all fans, not just those who are self-identified Fans. I believe that a story should be entertaining more than it should have a message.

Now, before they start screaming and pointing, I didn’t say that I think there should be no message in fiction. Far from it. But I think an author, if she knows her craft, can weave that message into the plot and character development in such a way it can still make the reader think without alienating the reader by hitting them over the head with the Message Bat.

I have no problem having characters who don’t look like me, think like me or believe as I do in a book. Hell, I’d get bored fast if all I read were books populated with mini-mes. But I don’t think a book should be judged by how many characters fit a checklist based on sexual preference, race, politics, etc. Again, you can connect with your reader through good writing that entertains.

What so many of those who claim we need to have that laundry list to go by forget is that sometimes less is more. You can hint and drop clues about your character in such a way that a wide variety of your readers will connect with that character. But, if you get too detailed, you restrict the identification. Don’t forget that your readers have an imagination and they will use it as they read your words.

One of the best examples of how a reader — or in this case a viewer — uses imagination is the movie Psycho, particularly the infamous shower scene. Between the music, some inspired camera angles and scene cuts, the viewer is tricked into think she seems more than she does. Not once do you actually see the knife being driven into Janet Leigh’s body. In what would be a bloodfest if made today, the scene is one of the most haunting in movie history. How many folks still hesitate to pull the shower curtain in a motel room because of that movie? Hints and more hints but little actually shown and more than one generation still shiver when seeing that scene.

But let’s get back to the lawsuit. As I noted in the comments on MGC, I’ve now read the original filings and, frankly, I have more concerns about it going forward than ever before. In many ways, it reminds me of the Games Workshop attempt to prevent any science fiction writer from using the term “space marine”. It is going to be interesting to see what happens as this suit moves forward — if it does after Ms. Clare’s attorney files his response and the court holds its first hearing.

For those usual suspects who love to hear themselves condemn everyone else, have fun. Enjoy your little echo chamber. I’ll continue being a fan of science fiction and fantasy and write the sort of sf/f that my readers want. I’ll do my best to weave any message I might have into the plot in such a way I don’t alienate my readers — my customers — so that they quit buying my work.

I will watch you guys turn the once prestigious Hugo into an award that only publishers and a few others even know still exists. That, whether you want to admit it or not, is the tragedy of this situation. Somewhere along the line, Fandom decided it was more important than fandom. It forgot there are a lot more fans than Fans and that, as authors, we need to appeal to a wide audience if we are to survive.

That said, I remember when Hugo nominated works had an entertaining plot as well as a message that didn’t hit you over the head. Unless and until the powers that be decide to official turn the Hugo into something that is no longer for the fans, I will continue to try to educate readers and fans of the genre about how they, too, can nominate and vote on the Hugo.

So, along those lines, if you want to see what some of your fellow fans are reading and think worthy of a Hugo nomination, check out Sad Puppies 4.

For information about the history of the Hugos, check out this great post by Ben Yalow.

Kate Paulk also has posts about the main categories for the Hugo over at Mad Genius Club. Just click on her name/icon at the right of the homepage and her list of posts will come up.

As for the rest of it, eh. I read for entertainment as well as for education. I don’t mind messages but I hate being hit over the head with it. I much prefer a subtle weaver of message over the trumpeter.

Now for the update. The edits on Honor from Ashes are coming along and I will begin snippets soon, probably this weekend.

In the meantime, go find yourselves a book to read and enjoy.

 

2nd Annual Indie Author Labor Day Sale Continues and more

First off, the 2nd Annual Indie Author Labor Day Sale is still going on. If you are looking for some good books to read that won’t cost you much — if anything — check out the list here. This is a curated list. I know the authors and have read almost everything on the list. Whether you are a fan of science fiction, fantasy or romance, there is something on the list for you.

I also want to take a moment to thank everyone who has bought Vengeance from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 1) this weekend. You’ve helped push it back into the top 100 books on several of the science fiction sub-genre lists. I know there are detractors for those lists but, as a reader and as an author, I love having them because it makes it easier for me to find a book if I’m looking for military science fiction or a mystery involving cops and werewolves. (Okay, I have weird reading tastes 😉 )

I also want to remind everyone that even though the Hugos are over for the year, it is never too early to start reading and thinking about books, short stories, movies — well, you get my drift — that you would like to see considered for next year’s Hugo Awards. Yes, this is a reminder that Sad Puppies 4 is already asking you to post your recommendations. Kate Paulk, who is leading SP4 this year, will be creating a web page on the SP4 site where all your recommendations will be compiled. You can see what she plans to do with SP4 this year by going to her Mad Genius Club post from last week.

Now, here’s the thing with SP4. The goal is two-fold. The first is to bring more awareness to the Hugos. Over the last few years, it has become painfully obvious that too many lovers of science fiction had no idea they could have a part in nominating and voting for the Hugos. The second goal is to collect as many recommendations by those who love the genre. These recommendations will be posted for all to see.

If you followed the Hugo last year, you know that saying there was a controversy surrounding SP3 is like saying “I’m a little bit pregnant”. I’m not going to rehash all that. What I will say is that it is funny how already there are those accusing SP4 of trying to put a “slate” together again. Why? Because Kate said she would list the top 10 recommendations in each category and she — gasp — did the math and said that a title was more likely to make it onto the ballot if it came from the top 10 list than if it was from the bottom of the list.

Sorry to tell the detractors this but it is true. It is simple mathematics. A title that is more popular among those nominating is more likely to have enough votes to make it onto the ballot than one that is only recommended by one or two people. That’s reality. It isn’t making a slate.

What really has me shaking my head and smiling a tad ruefully is how Kate is basically doing what the other side said they would consider acceptable — and it was something she had planned on long before their “olive branch” recommendations were made. She is asking for recommendations from everyone. She is compiling a list. She isn’t saying anyone has to vote according to her list. Yet, now that she has made her plan public, it’s a slate. Bad puppy.

So here is my challenge to you. Go out and read. If you find something you think is Hugo worthy and qualifies to be nominated for 2016, go to sadpuppies4.org and find the page for recommendations. Leave your recommendation there and tell us why you think it should be considered for a Hugo. If you can’t find the page there, leave a comment here and I will make sure Kate gets the information.

Now go read and don’t forget to check out the books in the 2nd Annual Indie Author Labor Day Sale.

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