No winners?

Well, the self-imposed moratorium on Hugo related posts has come to an end. I had to take a step back and breathe deeply. I needed a break from the attacks against people I respect. I needed a break from the arguments over who science fiction and fantasy belong to. Most of all, I needed a break from the internet voices telling me that I am not a real fan because I don’t go to enough cons — or at least not to the right cons.

As I’ve written in the past, I’ve been a fan of science fiction and fantasy most of my life. I stood in line to see the first showings of each of the original Star Wars films, so I know Han shot first. I saw the feds in one of the main scenes in ET carry guns and not walkie-talkies. I had the pleasure of meeting and spending a little time with Anne McCaffrey, discussing the original Pern books and being enchanted by a woman who could send my imagination on such flights of fancy.

I have read thousands of science fiction and fantasy books over the course of my life. Some good, some mediocre and some bad. Some of the books I loved when I was younger no longer hold the same cachet for me as they once did. But that’s okay. The books didn’t change, I did. I grew up and my tastes have changed. But that doesn’t mean the books weren’t good and didn’t influence me when I was younger.

Yet, according to some, I am not a true fan and don’t deserve to nominate, much less vote, on what books and other media are worthy of winning a Hugo.

Of course, those are the same people who claim those of us who support Sad Puppies 3 don’t want honest review of our work. Funny, I don’t know any author who doesn’t want an honest review. We will stand up to sock puppet and revenge reviews but the honest ones, we want. We need them. They help us improve our craft and connect with our readership. But that’s another post for another time.

I can’t speak for anyone else but here’s my take on the process. I don’t want to break the Hugos and I don’t believe SP3 did. What I want is to see the Hugos have the same impact on readers they had when I was younger. There was a time when readers saw “Hugo Nominatee” or “Hugo Winner” on a cover and bought the book because they knew it would take them on an adventure they would love. Now, that’s not really the case. Too many readers, at least until this year, weren’t even aware of the Hugos. Others had learned to leave Hugo winning books and stories on the shelves because they had been burned one time too many by stories that did not call to them, stories they felt were more message than story.

There is nothing wrong with having a message in your story so long as the reader doesn’t feel he is being beaten over the head with it. That has been the biggest objection I’ve had to many of the nominees over the last few years. I couldn’t get lost in the story because the author’s message kept getting in the way.

Anyway, back to the point. A decision has to be made by those in charge of the Hugos. If they want it to be a true “literary” award, then say that’s what you are doing. Limit who can nominate to academics and those directly associated with the publishing industry, much like they do with the Oscars and Tonys. Of course, that would mean some of those who have been closely involved with the actual putting on of the various WorldCons would no longer be able to vote but that is the cost of making this sort of change.

However, if the Hugo is truly supposed to represent the best in science fiction and fantasy, then promote it to all who are interested in the genre. Make an actual effort to let the reading and watching and gaming public know they can nominate works they think are the best. Lower the price for the ability to nominate and vote so it is more affordable to all. There are other changes that would have to be made, sucvh as changing the time frame to allow the Hugo committee longer to vet the nominees, making sure they are eligible.

There is one thing I do know about the Hugos this year — well, two actually. The first is that my respect for Brad Torgersen has grown with each day. He has handled himself much better than I ever would have were our places reversed. Here is a man who loves the genre and who wants to help grow its readership. Yet he has been attacked, labeled some of the most hateful things any person could be. And why? Because he dared rock the boat to let the reading public know they have a voice in who gets nominated for a Hugo.

Did Brad make recommendations he felt were worthy of a Hugo? Of course he did. He was very public about it. But at no point did he say anyone should vote the way he said. These were recommendations. Were there some folks who followed nominee by nominee what he listed? Possibly. For myself? No. I did not nominate everything Brad recommended. Nor did anyone else I’ve spoken with. I nominated works I thought were the best for the year, works I had read or seen.

The real issue in all of this is what the Hugos are supposed to recognize and who gets to decide. That is a decisive enough issue. However, those who have come out against Sad Puppies have muddied the waters, and easily so, by the appearance of Vox Day and his Rabid Puppies. Vox is a lightning rod in the genre. Just mention his name and some people will call an exorcist. Others will run for the hills. The best way to describe the impact he has on the sf/f community is to picture someone walking into a room and everyone suddenly falling silent. Heads turn in his direction, blood drains from everyone’s faces and mothers pull their children behind them while the fathers step forward to protect their loved ones. Or maybe the image of Donald Sutherland at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers is even better. Mouth open, blank stare and pointing. Yes, Vox has that sort of impact on people.

And that is the problem. They are making Vox the issue and are, in all too many instances, refusing to even consider a nominee he might have liked or recommended. That is, as I have said before, a disservice to all those authors and artists who have done good work, worthy work.

Look, here’s the truth of the matter. Vox is but one man. Yes, he might say things that make us uncomfortable. He might believe things that seem further out than left field. But, as writers and artists, we have no control over who reads/sees or likes our work. If you don’t like Vox and can’t bring yourself to read his work, that’s fine. But don’t condemn others who have no relationship to him except for the fact he nominated them. (Full disclosure here, I was one both SP3 and Rabid Puppies. I didn’t realize I was on Rabid Puppies until well after the nominees were announced.)

So here’s the thing. I don’t give a flying rat’s ass about who nominated a work any more than I care about that author’s politics or anything else about their personal life or belief system. At least not as long as it doesn’t beat me about the head in place of the story in their nominated work. I don’t care what publisher put the work out (and that despite the vicious attacks made against Brad and others by a former Tor editor and other current Tor employees). I will read/watch the nominated works and then vote for what I think is the best and most deserving of winning an award that used to have meaning to the reading public and, hopefully, will again.

And, along that line, I just finished Lou Antonelli’s Hugo nominated “On a Spiritual Plain”. I highly recommend everyone check it out. It’s not the sort of story I usually like but it grabbed me and held me through to the end. It made me think even as it took me on that flight of imagination I expect from good SF/F. It is definitely one I will consider when I mark my final ballot and I will post a review either later today or in the morning. Well done, Lou!

Now, go read a nominated work and decide if it is worthy based on the work itself, not on who nominated it. Otherwise, there will be no real winners, no matter what the final results say.

About the author

Writer, proud military mom and possessed by two crazy cats and one put-upon dog. Writes under the names of Amanda S. Green, Sam Schall and Ellie Ferguson.


  1. I think they’re playing into Vox’s hands when they do this. I think he took into account the possibility of what is happening now.

    Staying out of this emotionally is more difficult than I thought it would be.

    1. I’m pretty sure you’re right. The problem is, we are playing into it as well and losing sight of the real goal of SP3. We have spent the last week plus either defending ourselves or Vox or both instead of actually addressing the fact that all we want are good, readable SF/F and that we feel everyone who loves the genre should have a say in it. Or maybe that’s just me.

      1. I have actually had a pretty easy time staying on message. I have been involved in a lot of discussion on some private writing boards, and I always lead by noting that the SJWs are shouting VOX DAY! VOX DAY! VOX DAY! and that seems to be the extent of their argument. Then I get down to what I think is the real brass tacks: people paid their money and voted. Vox’s vote is as good as anyone else’s and so it Larry’s or mine. If the people who are screaming so loud about what happened don’t like the way things went, all they have to do is to go out and round up another 5000 like-minded individuals, get them to buy a membership and vote. Problem solved. I daresay that no one in Sad Puppies would say a thing if the voting numbers were in the 10s of thousands and the SJW beloved works of Hugos of yore turned out to be the winners. At that point, it would have been settled at the ballot box.

        If you don’t like it, get people to vote. If you are unhappy, get people to vote. If you hate bloc voting, get people to vote. If the nominations aren’t the ones you want, get people to vote. It is really not hard.

        1. Exactly, David. I’ve done my best to stay on message but it is difficult at times when people who don’t know everything that’s going on keep asking about Vox and why we aligned ourselves with him. So, yes, the message gets delayed a bit while we explain about Vox and all the rest of it. Usually, by the end of it, those I’ve talked with see what we are trying to do and recognize that Vox is a non-issue that others are using to obscure the real problem.

          1. I think the twist and direction of this is changing. We now have some of the SJBs lobbying bombs from their websites, which is easy to dismiss and ignore. After all, you get more satisfaction from a pillow fight than an interwebsite flame war.

            Then there is the driveby one shot trolls. Easy to dismiss.

            Then the concern trolls. Call them on their BS and move on.

            I think holding our ground now is really all we have to do. Let them vent themselves into a froth.

  2. I find it amusing that the people who argue that slate voting “broke” the Hugos think that they can just propose a rule change and keep the puppies out. Especially considering how the rules process works. If we wanted to stop it, we can. If we don’t, it’s because we choose not to.

    And that doesn’t even take Vox into account. Vox is a wildcard they’re just not prepared for.

    1. And don’t forget how they have no problem telling everyone to block vote No Award. But that’s not a slate. Oh no. There’s a big difference, an important difference — in their minds at least — between Brad making suggestions and folks agreeing to one degree or another and them saying to No Award everything.

  3. If you look at the nominations that got on the ballot this is the Rabid Puppies slate versus the non slate candidates. All Sad Puppies nominees on ballot were also Rabid Puppies nominees but Rabid Puppies got nominees on the ballot without Sad Puppies help. Sad Puppies is just a sideshow for Vox Day’s war against the SFWA and the science fiction establishment.
    I will make my decisions individually and not based if they were on the Rabid Puppies slate as technically the rules were apparently followed. I asked, it is not possible to determine if multiple memberships were purchased to stuff the ballot, something that is within Vox Day’s resources.
    The science fiction field has gotten so large that any determined effort can get a work on the ballot. Until this year it was not realized that a determined effort could also lock up the ballot and exclude candidates.

    1. I’m not so sure about that. Anyone who looked at the numbers over the years should have been able to see it. Whether you like what happened or not (and I am using the generic you here), you have to like the fact that the controversy has gotten more people to buy memberships to both nominate and vote on the Hugos. That helps WorldCon and it helps the genre. Frankly, I think everyone would be better served if they would step back, stop screaming at one another and stop trying to figure out ways to prevent “slates”. Instead, they ought to watch what happens next year and the year after. See if the voters from this year continue supporting the Hugos/WorldCon in subsequent years or if things go back to the way they were. If we’re lucky, we will see the continued growth of the number of voters.

    2. I “looked at the nominations that got on the ballot”, and you are asserting the direct reverse of the truth.
      THE CHAPLAIN’S WAR, and COHERENCE lost, as did the “Supernatural” episode and Daniel Enness. Al the RP items that got nominated were also on Sad Puppies 3.
      Since I have trouble believing someone could be that deficient in reading ability and still type, I must conclude that you are deliberately telling a ludicrous lie about something that can be easily checked, and hoping people are gullible enough not to.

      1. Not exactly. There were RP nominees not on the SP list which were nominated. For example, the SP slate had three Novella nominees on it, not five. There were two RP Novella nominees which made it without SP support. Two nominees in the Short Story category, Turncoat and The Parliament of Beasts and Birds, were nominated off the RP slate without being on the Sad Puppies 3 slate. So your statement that “Al the RP items that got nominated were also on Sad Puppies 3” is incorrect. Since you could easily have made a simple mistake, I won’t follow your example and call your statement a deliberate troll and lie, as you said about the post by Easter Lemming. You get the benefit of the doubt here.

  4. Found you because of the link at File 770. As to reducing the cost of memberships to Worldcon, that’s difficult, if not impossible, due to financial realities. Each con must break even or try to do so, because they are individual entities. They have to meet costs and it’s a near thing under the best of circumstances. I’d welcome a lower cost, but it’s unlikely because the Worldcon probably calculates a margin to cover unforeseen expenses.

    The Hugos don’t “belong” to anyone. The nominees and results reflect the tastes of the people who bothered to take the time and expend the effort to take part. The numbers of participants necessary to get a nomination are sometimes incredibly low. In the two previous years, the 5% rule led to three short story nominees one year and four the next-and 5% wasn’t that great a number to meet. If you aren’t seeing what you think should be nominated getting on the ballot but haven’t been taking part, that can’t really be assigned to the ones nominating. That’s up to you.

    I’d have preferred SP put forward no recommendations or a bushelful per category.. Just say, “If you don’t like the Hugo ballots you keep seeing each year, join and nominate what you liked best”. No list or a big one. The way this turned out, it looks like a deliberate attempt to push specific works and people, even if that wasn’t the intent.

    I haven’t liked the ballots for a long time now. Even when I was nominating and voting, I didn’t like the ballots much. But that’s life. People have been complaining about cliques at the Worldcon since the Futurians feud at the first one and complaining about the Hugos since the New Wave/Old Wave in the 1960s. Tom Disch wrote an acid-penned column about what he called “The Labor Day Group”-and Orson Scott Card was one of the clique members he went after, along with GRRM and others. Disch wrote that column in 1981, disguising it as an F &SF “book review”. The more things change, the more they stay the same. All best to you and all those writers and genre elbowing for time at the keyboard.

  5. wlinden – Since I mainly follow the literary nominations this is what I was referring to: originally all the SP nominations on the ballot were also on the RP ballot but RP got 6 more nominees on the ballot as well and SP got 0 additional. There were only 2 non-Puppy literary nominees originally on the ballot which is why the huge uproar.
    In addition, looking at the whole ballot RP outnumbers SP on how many got on.
    Should I call you a troll and liar as you called me or just assume you can’t count or something?
    Most have moved beyond this now and are reading the nominees. Now I am often wondering if Puppies simply have very poor taste in reading or were not concerned with that at all. I think of the Hugos as mainly a literary award with some additional fan and popular categories which is why I am concerned about the quality of the Puppy nominations.

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