Black Gate Withdraws From Hugo Consideration

Sunday, April 19th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

2011 Hugo Award-smallOn April 4th, Black Gate was nominated for a 2015 Hugo Award for Best Fanzine. One of our bloggers, Matthew David Surridge, was also nominated as Best Fan Writer but, as he explained, he declined the nomination before the ballot was announced.

Since the nomination for Black Gate was for the entire site, which produces over 120 articles per month by a team of over 40 volunteers, I did not decline the nomination, although personally I shared many of the Matthew’s concerns. However, over the last two weeks I’ve had the opportunity to hear from many of our bloggers, and by and large they share many of those concerns as well.

Accordingly, on Saturday, April 18th, I informed the administrators at Sasquan that we have withdrawn Black Gate from consideration for the 2015 Hugo Award.

As I explained in my previous  post, Sad Puppies and Super Puppies: The 2015 Hugo Train Wreck, (and in our original announcement), I have serious concerns about the legitimacy of the 2015 Hugo ballot, as it was largely dictated by a single individual, Vox Day, who campaigned for a slate of nominees on his website (the Rabid Puppies slate). To a lesser extent, it was also influenced by Brad Togersen’s Sad Puppies slate. Together, the two slates successfully placed 61 nominees on the ballot. Black Gate was part of the Rabid Puppies ballot, although we were unaware of our inclusion until we were informed of our nomination.

In short, over the last two weeks I have come to agree with those arguing that the use of a slate — and particularly a slate that has 11 nominees from Vox Day’s Castalia House, and nominates him personally for two awards — is a serious threat to the perceived integrity of the Hugo Awards.

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Forbes on What’s Next For The New Dungeons & Dragons

Saturday, April 18th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Sword Coast Legends-smallForbes columnist David M. Ewalt is a not-so-secret Dungeons & Dragons fan. He’s the author of Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and The People Who Play It, and he’s promoted the game in the pages of Forbes over the past two years with an early article on D&D Next, and a fascinating piece on the Books that Inspired the New Dungeons & Dragons. This week he interviewed Nathan Stewart, brand director for Dungeons & Dragons at Wizards of the Coast, to find out what’s next for the Fifth Edition of D&D.

Any plans to tell stories that take place outside of the Forgotten Realms?

If you’re talking about us diving deep and taking a focus like what we’ve done with Tyranny of Dragons, we’re going to stay in the Forgotten Realms for the foreseeable future… But we’re gonna have long cycles, and so when we go all in on Greyhawk or Dragonlance or Spelljammers, that’s going to be awhile… the main focus will be on the Forgotten Realms for a long time.

Is the brand where you wanted it to be at this point?

In my strategy I had wanted a high-caliber video game that really brings back the core of D&D… and I don’t think that in my wildest dreams I imagined that that we’d have a game that really captured the essence of D&D as well as Sword Coast Legends coming out. I think by the end of the year we’ll have this conversation and everyone will agree that we’ve actually delivered that plus some, because we’ve done something that no one’s ever done before, which is really deliver that dungeon master/player tabletop experience in the form of a computer RPG.

See the complete article online at Forbes magazine.

Marko Kloos and Annie Bellet Withdraw From the Hugo Ballot

Thursday, April 16th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Lines of Departure Marko Kloos-smallThe drama over the 2015 Hugo nominations continues.

Earlier today 11-time Hugo Award winner Connie Willis refused to present the Campbell Award at this year’s ceremonies, saying “If I did, I’d be collaborating with [Vox Day and his followers] in their scheme.”

And later today, two authors whose works were included in Vox Day’s Rabid Puppies slate both declined their Hugo nominations. Annie Bellet, whose “Goodnight Stars” was nominated for Best Short Story, wrote:

I don’t want to stand in a battlefield anymore. I don’t want to have to think over every tweet and retweet, every blog post, every word I say. I don’t want to cringe when I open my email. I don’t want to have to ask friends to google me and read things so that I can at least be aware of the stuff people might be saying in my name or against my name. This is not why I write. This is not the kind of community I want to be a part of, nor the kind of award I want to win…

Maybe someday I will get to sit in a pretty dress next to my mother and know that if I lose the rocket, it will be because someone wrote a story that resonated more than mine. To know that I will lose to a person and not a political fight. To sit there and know if I lose, no one will cheer. And if I win, no one will boo. Perhaps someday I can win this award for the right reasons and without all the pain.

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Connie Willis Declines to Be a 2015 Hugo Award Presenter

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Connie Willis with HugoConnie Willis has a long tradition as an MC and presenter at the Hugo Awards. She was asked by Hugo Award MC David Gerrold to present the Campbell Award at this year’s ceremonies, and she publicly declined the invitation on her blog:

You may or may not have heard of the Hugo crisis currently facing the science-fiction community… Basically, what’s happened is that a small group of people led by Vox Day/Theodore Beale and Brad Torgerson took advantage of the fact that only a small percentage of Hugo voters nominate works to hijack the ballot… When I heard about this, I was sick at the thought of what they’d done and at all the damage they’d caused… But I didn’t want to speak out and refuse to be a presenter if there was still a chance to salvage the Hugo Awards ceremony…

But then Vox Day and his followers made it impossible for me to remain silent, keep calm, and carry on. Not content with just using dirty tricks to get on the ballot, they’re now demanding they win, too, or they’ll destroy the Hugos altogether. When a commenter on File 770 suggested people fight back by voting for “No Award,” Vox Day wrote: “If No Award takes a fiction category, you will likely never see another award given in that category again. The sword cuts both ways, Lois. We are prepared for all eventualities.”

I assume that means they intend to use the same bloc-voting technique to block anyone but their nominees from winning in future years. Or, in other words, “If you ever want to see your precious award again, do exactly as I say.” It’s a threat, pure and simple… In my own particular case, I feel I’ve also been ordered to go along with them and act as if this were an ordinary Hugo Awards ceremony. I’ve essentially been told to engage in some light-hearted banter with the nominees, give one of them the award, and by my presence – and my silence – lend cover and credibility to winners who got the award through bullying and extortion.

Well, I won’t do it. I can’t do it. If I did, I’d be collaborating with them in their scheme.

Read our summary of this year’s Hugo mess here, and Connie’s complete statement on the matter here.

2015 Philip K. Dick Award Winners Announced

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife-small Elysium Jennifer Marie Brissett-small

I’ve always liked the Philip K. Dick Award. Unlike the Hugos and the Nebulas, which frequently go to blockbuster hardcovers with big advertising budgets, the Philip K. Dick Award is presented annually for distinguished science fiction published as a paperback original in the United States. It’s named after Philip K. Dick, who published virtually every one of his most important and groundbreaking SF novels as a midlist paperback.

The 2015 Philip K. Dick Award winner is The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison (Sybaritic). Special citation was given to Elysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett (Aqueduct). The awards were announced on Friday, April 3, at Norwescon 38, in SeaTac, Washington.

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2014 James Tiptree, Jr. Award Winners Announced

Saturday, April 11th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Girl in the Road-small My Real Children-small

With all the drama and controversy over this year’s Hugo Awards, we have neglected to inform you of the other major award new this week. Shame on us.

The 2014 James Tiptree, Jr. Awards were given out this week. The Tiptrees, named after one of the finest SF writers of the 20th Century, are awarded annually to works of science fiction or fantasy that explore and expand gender roles. This year the winners are Monica Byrne’s The Girl in the Road (Crown) and Jo Walton’s My Real Children (Tor).

As usual, the jury released a statement about each of the winners; here’s what they said this year.

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Eastercon 66: Fun and Friction in Science Fiction

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015 | Posted by Sean McLachlan


Last weekend I had the good fortune to attend Dysprosium, the 66th Eastercon, in London. It was only my second big convention and I was impressed by the number of people, dealers, panels, and events. Big cons are definitely my thing!

The convention was held at The Park Inn at Heathrow Airport, which is appropriately decorated with images of aviation and space pioneers. The elevators have glowing plastic panels that change colors and made me feel like I was in an Italian science fiction movie from the 1960s. The con was stretched out. Two large common rooms were connected by a long corridor. This meant that there was no main dealers room. Instead, each dealer had their own room and they took advantage of this by hosting their own events. Elsewhen Press gets my vote for friendliest dealer for offering plenty of friendly chatter, UFO-shaped candies, and several readings. Another dealer hosted a fascinating talk on Malaysian folklore. This worked out well for the guests but I heard more than one dealer complain they felt isolated from other dealers.

Like last year’s Worldcon, which I reported on here, diversity and inclusion was a central theme. Several of the panels reflected this, such as one on Fencing for Writers, in which two women demonstrated various ways to slash and skewer your opponent. They gave several anecdotes about female swashbucklers in the Renaissance. One French lesbian fought numerous duels with men over women and even saved her lover from a nunnery by burning the place down! That’s just begging to be made into a novel. The presenters made the telling point that, “Historians have dismissed these women as exceptions, but when you look at the sources, there are an awful lots of exceptions.”

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Sad Puppies and Super Puppies: The 2015 Hugo Train Wreck

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Tony C. Smith and his 2010 Hugo for StarShipSofa

Tony C. Smith and his 2010 Hugo for StarShipSofa

As both Matthew David Surridge and I wrote about earlier this week, there’s been considerable controversy swirling around the just-announced ballot for the 2015 Hugo Awards, the most prestigious fan-based award in science fiction and fantasy. Matthew and I are involved in this controversy because we were both included, without our knowledge or consent, in a slate of bloc votes (the “Sad Puppies 3″ and “Rabid Puppies”) that resulted in us being put on the ballot.

Matthew declined his nomination. Since Black Gate‘s nomination was for the entire site, a fan-based effort that involves over 40 participants, I decided not to decline on behalf of those individuals. But (no surprise) I had plenty to say about it, in my article “Black Gate Nominated for a Hugo Award in a Terrible Ballot.”

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say this topic has riveted the entire industry. The two BG articles I link to above have been read over 32,000 times in less than three days… and Matthew and Black Gate were nominated for fan awards, the part of the ballot that, to be blunt, most people really don’t give a damn about.

There are just shy of 200 comments on those two posts, so the conversation is already getting a little unwieldy (and I find I have to keep repeating myself, because let’s face it, who can be bothered to read 200 comments before asking a simple question?) So I figured it made sense to do a quick re-cap, especially for those readers who surfed over here on their lunch hour, and have roughly the time it takes to eat a tuna fish sandwich to get caught up.

The crux of the matter is this.

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Black Gate Nominated for a Hugo Award in a Terrible Ballot

Sunday, April 5th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Goblin Emperor-smallThe nominees for the 2015 Hugo Awards have been announced by Sasquan, the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention, and let’s be blunt: it’s a terrible ballot.

Here’s a brief recap: over the last few years a number of writers (primarily conservative Americans) have become increasingly convinced that the growing number of women and non-white authors winning Hugo Awards is somehow evidence that the awards have been ‘hijacked’ by a minority group of voters and social justice warriors (SJWs). Their concerns are succinctly summarized at the right-wing new site

To make a point about how the awards are influenced by what they perceive as a small group of liberal elites, a handful of authors created a slate of nominees heavily dominated by conservative writers, and asked their followers to support those slates in their entirety. The primary slates were Brad Torgersen’s Sad Puppies 3 and Vox Day’s Rabid Puppies list.

Under cover of this semi-political movement, which added roughly 200 additional nominating ballots to last year’s total (and nearly 800 to the 2013 total), at least one of the organizers heavily seeded his slate with his own works. Vox Day’s Rapid Puppies ballot included no less than ten nominees for his Castalia House publishing company, and listed himself for both Best Editor (Short Form) and Best Editor (Long Form).

The results? As tabulated by Mike Glyer over at File 770, a total of 61 final ballot nominees from Sad Puppies 3 and Rabid Puppies made the final list of nominees. Only 24 nominees did not come from either list.

In short, the Hugo ballot this year was essentially dictated by two individuals who asked their followers to vote for their suggested candidates, regardless of what they actually thought was deserving.

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George R.R. Martin Offers a New Excerpt from The Winds of Winter

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Martin The Winds of Winter-smallBack in January we reported that The Winds of Winter, the sixth book in George R.R. Martin’s epic Song of Ice and Fire series, will not arrive this year, as some readers had hoped.

But to soothe the pain a little, Martin has been releasing small bits from the novel at his website. This morning he offered up a brand new chapter, featuring the return of a character who’s been absent for a long time. Here’s a small sample.

Alayne loved it here. She felt alive again, for the first since her father… since Lord Eddard Stark had died.

She closed the window, gathered up the fallen papers, and stacked them on the table. One was a list of the competitors. Four-and-sixty knights had been invited to vie for places amongst Lord Robert Arryn’s new Brotherhood of Winged Knights, and four­ and-sixty knights had come to tilt for the right to wear falcon’s wings upon their warhelms and guard their lord.

The competitors came from all over the Vale, from the mountain valleys and the coast, from Gulltown and the Bloody Gate, even the Three Sisters. Though a few were promised, only three were wed; the eight victors would be expected to spend the next three years at Lord Robert’s side, as his own personal guard (Alayne had suggested seven, like the Kingsguard, but Sweetrobin had insisted that he must have more knights than King Tommen), so older men with wives and children had not been invited.

And they came, Alayne thought proudly. They all came.

Read the complete chapter here, and the lengthy summary of everything we know about the novel so far over at

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