Sad Puppies and Super Puppies: The 2015 Hugo Train Wreck
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.
A group of passionate, generally conservative readers have become increasingly concerned that conservative authors and the work they love — especially old-fashioned, adventure-oriented science fiction and fantasy — have been unjustly shunted aside by fiction that advances a left-wing agenda, or is written by authors favored by liberals. These readers don’t see this as evidence of a changing readership… instead they see an active, secret agenda by a minority of liberal-minded professionals and fans to covertly subvert the voting process.
[For our foreign or non-political readers who are already confused, or who don’t quite get the distinction between “right wing” and “left wing” science fiction or follow this peculiarly American ideological division, I understand. As a Canadian, I was mystified for years too. Hang in there, you’re almost through the hard bit.]
This simmering anger came to a boil last year when the Sad Puppies slate, created by Larry Correia, lost out to a very diverse slate of women and people of color, which was seen by some as further evidence that deserving candidates had no chance against the liberal agenda. (I also want to make special notice of the fact that Rachel Swirsky’s “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love,” made the ballot — and boy, the Sad Puppies, as a bloc, really hate that story.)
So a larger initiative was launched this year, spearheaded by Brad Torgerson, ably assisted by Vox Day. Those two created the Sad Puppies 3 and Rabid Puppies slates, which had enormous success, claiming over 71% of the Hugo ballot. As Mike Glyer at File 770 notes, out of the 85 slots on the Hugo ballot, a total of 61 came from Sad Puppies 3 and Rabid Puppies. In particular, every single slot in the short fiction categories came from those blocs — a clean sweep.
Exactly how did they do this?
It wasn’t actually all that hard. Here’s a look at the exact number of nominations for each of the top five candidates for the 2013 Hugos in the most popular category, Best Novel (you can find all the details at LoneStarCon 3 here).
Best Novel (1113 ballots)
193 – Redshirts by John Scalzi (17.34%)
138 – Blackout by Mira Grant (12.40%)
135 – 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (12.13%)
133 – Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold (11.95%)
118 – Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed (10.60%)
So as you can see, all it would take is 200 votes, all for the same slate of candidates, to completely sweep the nominations. That’s exactly what the Puppies did.
Now, a few quick points of note here. Larry Correia is a proud conservative, and the slates he created — Sad Puppies 1 and 2 — were heavily conservative. This year Brad’s slate is more diverse, politically and otherwise. For example Annie Bellet, whose “Goodnight Stars” (from The Apocalypse Triptych) was on the Sad Puppies 3 ballot, is a bisexual socialist (her thoughts on being included are here). The unifying thread seems to be a belief that these works are all shut out of the possibly for a Hugo by a contingent of fandom that Larry calls Social Justice Warriors (SJWs).
Second, the people who vote for the Hugos are not the same people as those who nominate. A lot more vote for the awards than submit nominating ballots. Last year, for example, there were 1,923 nominating ballots, and nearly twice that many total voters for the actual Hugos (3,587). Only members of the 2015 Worldcon can vote on the final ballot.
The consequences of the SP/RP ballot are pretty much what you’d expect. Fans were surprised, and banded together, trying to understand what happened. There’s been no concerted outreach that I could see from the Puppies, and in the absence of a narrative, fans quickly misunderstood their intentions. In many cases, in fact, fans found their intentions irrelevant, simply viewing this as assault on the integrity of the Hugos.
The response has been blistering. I won’t link to most of it, but here’s a representative sample from the last few days:
- The Puppy-Free Hugo Award Voter’s Guide
- How the ‘Sad Puppies’ Internet campaign gamed the Hugo Awards
- A Note About the Hugo Nominations This Year
- The Hugo Awards Were Always Political. But Now They’re Only Political.
As the Puppies have pointed out, there are routinely accusations of bloc voting in the Hugos. But none of those accusations have seriously damaged the long-term public reputation of the awards. However, the SP/RP slate, because of its scale and because it was done in an open manner, has the potential to tar the reputation of the Hugos as an award wholly susceptible to special interests and campaign voting, and damage its reputation on a scale not seen before.
I think it’s been clear to most of us watching the proceedings that Hugo voters will react to the SP/RP slate as an unprecedented, large scale threat to the integrity of the awards, and react decisively to squash it. I see an electorate of principled voters who are poorly educated on what the Puppies are trying to accomplish, who see only a small group of individuals trying to tamper with the awards, and who will react in a perfectly understandable way to negate the outcome of that tampering. They may be vaguely aware that there is a semi-political agenda behind the effort, but they’re not really interested in the motives. They see the Hugos under attack, and react accordingly.
How will they react? The strategy has already become pretty clear in the past few days: with a large-scale campaign to vote “No Award” for every category where the Puppies have locked out other nominees. (A “No Award” vote is just what it sounds like, a vote to give no Hugo in a particular category.)
I see a lot of skepticism about this approach from the Puppies. To their credit, they see merit in the short fiction slate they’ve put forward, and in the long run, they expect merit to win out.
That’s not going to happen. In effect, this is sort of like judo — using the Sad Puppies own tactics against them. The Puppies swept the short fiction ballot because, while the other 1,600 nomination ballots were dividing their vote, 200-300 Puppies voted as a bloc for their candidates.
You can expect the exact same thing to happen in reverse in the actual vote for the award. Suppose the Puppies manage to convince three-quarters of the electorate to vote on the merits of their candidates (a tall order, given the current rancor against them, but they seem to think they can do it, and let’s give them the benefit of the doubt.) Assume there are around 4,000 total voters, 3,000 aligned with the Puppies, and 1,000 eager to vote “No Award.”
The 3,000 voters aligned with the Puppies will split their votes among each of the five candidates. If you have a look at the voting patterns in that LoneStarCon 3 link above (here is is again), you’ll see that the winning novella garnered about 29% of the vote; and the winning novel, about 25%. Say there’s one clear favorite among the Puppies in each category, and that favorite manages to win 30% of the vote. That’s 900 votes.
That’s not enough to overcome the 1,000 vote bloc for “No Award.” A strong, determined minority can out-muscle a much larger electorate if they unite with one voice — as the Sad Puppies have already shown us.
Now, there’s still a way the Puppies could walk away with a full slate of Hugo awards, as should be obvious to anyone who’s followed the above. This is a smart bunch. If, as we approach Worldcon and the Hugo vote, the Puppies smell disaster in the wind (disaster meaning there’s as much as 1/4 of the Hugo electorate they don’t control, threatening to vote “No Award,”) they can opt for another option — the “Super Puppy” slate.
The Super Puppy slate would sacrifice all the candidates except one in every category. All the Puppies, and their supporters, would harness their votes to a single candidate in each category.
In that manner, they could assemble enough votes to possibly overcome a “No Award” lockout. I predict it would be very close, but I think it could be possible.
Note that I don’t think this is a good idea. In fact, I think it’s a terrible idea.
Of course, I thought the entire Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies approach was a terrible idea. But nobody asked me.
A reasonable discussion of your pov. I’m wondering if you had an opinion last year, or the year before, on the SP campaigns for those years? (I expect you noticed last year when so much of fandom seemed to vow to vote No Award rather than read any of the SP nominees…but I could be wrong.) (If you already included a link, my apologies, I read through the essay twice and still missed it.)
Since you’re moving into strategy, you will probably be interested in computer security guru Bruce Schneier’s discussion on Making Light about how a voting system like the Hugos could avoid being gamed:
Thanks for the comment. I did have an opinion, and I previously linked to it… but I don’t blame you for not being able to find it, I couldn’t find it when I went to look for it just now. 🙂
Here’s the link:
And here’s the relevant bit:
> There are additional surprises. Analog magazine, effectively shut out of Hugo nominations for many years, has surged
> back into the limelight with two nominations (both for Brad Torgersen), and the traditionally strong Asimov’s SF
> and F&SF both come away empty-handed. Some folks are laying the credit (or blame) for that on an organized campaign
> of bloc voting by nominee Larry Correia, which successfully placed as many as seven nominees on the ballot… but
> really, every year someone gets accused of bloc voting and it’s tough to blame someone for having enthusiastic fans.
Awesome. Thanks for the fast reply.
It does seem like there wasn’t much attention paid here to the No Award proponents here last year. (Nor, in the posts that pinged back to last year’s post, to LC’s novel.)
As I said at the earlier post, I think that having lots more people interested in “SFF’s most prestigious award” can only be a good thing, and seeing as this year had twice as many ballots as there was only 3 years ago, to me things are going in the right direction.
Far too much of the outcry has taken the tone of ‘how dare they come into our fandom and tell us what they want’ – which would make sense, of course, if there was ‘a’ fandom for anyone to own.
Thanks — that’s a fascinating link! Marking it to come back and read more carefully later.
That Bruce Schneier article was interesting. I just finished his book “Data and Goliath” this week; it’s funny that even he has an opinion on the Hugos. Random!
Two things of note in his article:
1) His top recommendation is to do nothing and let things sort themselves out rather than mess with the rules.
2) His third recommendation (eliminating all ballots that contain the most popular choice, and proceed with the next most popular choice on the remaining ballots) would be an interesting way to get works that have substantial support, but are outside the mainstream on the ballot.
I like it the most because it cancels out the slate effect, which is what I find most objectionable about the take-over this year. I find it odd that the SP/RP proponents are now saying that they are offended at the accusations that they voted a blind slate (e.g., arguing there is more variance in their votes vs. previous categories). Because when Vox posted his ballot at his website, he stated, “I encourage those who value my opinion on matters related to science fiction and fantasy to nominate them precisely as they are.” It would seem that anyone who took his advice would end up with ballots of precisely 0 variance.
“It would seem that anyone who took his advice would end up with ballots of precisely 0 variance.”
It would – if we were a monolithic, one-size-fits-all conservative voting bloc – but we are actually composed of individuals, who think and act differently. Some of us won’t like any given nominee, and won’t vote for them. Some of us will like every nominee on the ballot, and vote for them all. We’re funny like that.
Also, your PR campaign for “No Award” is seeing some pushback as well. If you have time, read the comments under
Which, amazingly enough, is a national magazine. There may be others, I’ve been busy today.
> Two things of note in his article:
> 1) His top recommendation is to do nothing and let things sort themselves out rather than mess with the rules.
> 2) His third recommendation [is] eliminating all ballots that contain the most popular choice, and proceed with the
> next most popular choice on the remaining ballots
I actually like his second choice best:
> the second-best choice is to modify the electorate. The problem isn’t the rules of the vote; the problem is that a voting
> bloc was able to recruit voters from outside the usual community. Trying to fix that problem by changing the voting
> rules is very difficult, and will have all sorts of unintended consequences.
I like it because it puts the emphasis on educating both sides — the Hugo electorate should take the time to find out what the Puppies are all about, and the Puppies should educate us on why their slate is better than, say, THE THREE BODY PROBLEM by Liu Cixin.
“… we are actually composed of individuals, who think and act differently.”
If you were as individual in your thinking as the rest of us Hugo nominators, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. The slate worked because a couple hundred of you voted identically on most of your ballots.
I’m thinking it’s time to stop talking about protecting the Hugo voting from being gamed (which is hard) and start talking about gaming the Sad Puppies. That group is smaller than our group. It would only take 15 people voting in lockstep for nothing but non-gendered dinosaur stories promoting universal healthcare.
First time commenter. Just wanted to point out the math here:
> The 3,000 voters aligned with the Puppies will split their votes among each of the five candidates. If you have a look at the voting patterns in that LoneStarCon 3 link
> above (here is is again), you’ll see that the winning novella garnered about 29% of the vote; and the winning novel, about 25%. Say there’s one clear favorite among the
> Puppies in each category, and that favorite manages to win 30% of the vote. That’s 900 votes.
> That’s not enough to overcome the 1,000 vote bloc for “No Award.” A strong, determined minority can out-muscle a much larger electorate if they unite with one voice — as
> the Sad Puppies have already shown us.
The rules for the final are a little different than the nomination from what I understand. Suppose the nominees are A, B, C, D and N where N is No Award. If you have 3000 Puppy voters, you’d have some combination of ABCD on those ballots. The 1000 Anti-Puppy voters would be voting N. If votes split nearly evenly for first preference, we would expect something like:
The first step would be to eliminate the lowest vote getting work, which is D. But since those who preferred D added a second preference, that goes into the new tally. Assuming the voters for D had some split like 300-240-160 for A/B/C, you now have:
C then gets eliminated. Now C’s votes split between A and B, which, assuming is something like 500-410:
Now N gets eliminated and A wins. The winner (A) passes the no-award test because 3000 people preferred A to verses 1000 people on No Award.
The only way you can get No Award to win is if a strict majority votes No Award as the first option. Who knows how likely this is without knowing who will vote, but suffice it to say that the scenario for No Award most likely requires a strict majority.
“If you were as individual in your thinking as the rest of us Hugo nominators, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. The slate worked because a couple hundred of you voted identically on most of your ballots.”
If there’s a variance between nominees, doesn’t that disprove your contention? OH, I get it, we don’t vary in a way YOU APPROVE OF, so we’re wrong to vote for the authors we like.
“I’m thinking it’s time to stop talking about protecting the Hugo voting from being gamed (which is hard) and start talking about gaming the Sad Puppies. That group is smaller than our group. It would only take 15 people voting in lockstep for nothing but non-gendered dinosaur stories promoting universal healthcare.”
Do your best, worst, whatever; Correia himself said he hoped lots of groups would do the same, and render the tactic useless – but then, the sheer DIVERSITY of having a hundred lists of authors from a hundred groups would defeat the “gatekeepers” by diluting their “control” beyond miniscule, wouldn’t it?
And wasn’t that one of the SP goals to begin with, getting a wider group of fans involved so that small groups of clannish insiders (whose existence John doesn’t believe in) can’t restrict the choices to certain approved authors and their friends?
If you have time, look at those comments beneath that article I linked to – there are numerous commenters saying some variation on “I’m tired of SJW vitimization tactics / tired of being told who I can vote for by insiders / I saw this article and had to buy a supporting membership, to say enough is enough to the bigoted folks who controlled the nominations last year”. I realize it’s only one article, but it’s a start.
“OH, I get it, we don’t vary in a way YOU APPROVE OF, so we’re wrong to vote for the authors we like.”
You don’t get it, apparently.
What you are doing that I dislike is bloc voting. When the rest of us are nominating things we like as individuals in good faith, it makes it easy for you to take all the nominations by voting for exactly the same nominees in lockstep. Your group is a minority of the nominators but you chose all the nominees in many of the categories and chose a large majority of the ballot.
I don’t like Correia’s solution of multiple competing slates any more than I like the stunt his pals pulled this year. I’m going to keep voting as an individual, and I’ll keep voting No Award above any slate-imposed nominee to reject that tactic.
Correia admitted to me on his blog that he has zero evidence that any novel/novella/novelette category of the Hugos has been unfairly manipulated in the past 10 years. The “SJW victimization” story he and Brad Torgersen are peddling is just a myth to motivate people to part with $40 and vote for his bloc.
What’s so sad to me is that the discussion of stats SHOULD have nothing to do with voting for the highest quality writing.
It’s also non made clear that a vote can be
2. Second Favorite
3. No Award
So that nothing but the two favorites could get a count. At least that’s how I understand it.
Yet, really, I want the political bullies to go away and just let people READ what they want, then VOTE for the best of what they read. Ought to be simple.
“When the rest of us are nominating things we like as individuals in good faith, it makes it easy for you to take all the nominations by voting for exactly the same nominees in lockstep.”
If there’s a variance, where’s your lockstep? Already disposed of this objection.
“Your group is a minority of the nominators but you chose all the nominees in many of the categories and chose a large majority of the ballot.”
Just like the other side did last year?
“I don’t like Correia’s solution of multiple competing slates any more than I like the stunt his pals pulled this year. I’m going to keep voting as an individual, and I’ll keep voting No Award above any slate-imposed nominee to reject that tactic.”
You find your approach of limiting participation to be superior? To the point you will vote against authors you would normally approve of just because SP nominated them, when you did not? Who is being closed-minded here?
“Correia admitted to me on his blog that he has zero evidence that any novel/novella/novelette category of the Hugos has been unfairly manipulated in the past 10 years. The “SJW victimization” story he and Brad Torgersen are peddling is just a myth to motivate people to part with $40 and vote for his bloc.”
I think this is inaccurate, and I will go see what was said on his blog. Bye for now.
I have … opinions, but I’ll just say one thing: I think it’ll be very interesting in August when we see a) the final results and b) the full details of the nominating ballots.
OK, I’ll say two things, the second of which is: Please. Provide evidence that “insiders” were telling people “who to vote for” and that “bigots” were “controlling the nominations”.
“You find your approach of limiting participation to be superior?”
I find No Award to be the best bad option, given what the slates have done to the ballot through bloc voting.
It’s ridiculous for you to expect fair play from Hugo voters after engaging in a cynical manipulation of the nomination process to flood the entire ballot.
If you defend bloc voting as something that’s within the rules, you need to accept that voting No Award is also within the rules.
Here’s the answer I got:
“Retro Rockets, on April 8, 2015 at 1:41 am said:
Not quite true. The closest I found to what was said is this.
rcade, on April 7, 2015 at 12:42 am said:
Correia: You have no proof the Hugos were successfully gamed in past years. I will buy a copy of every novel you’ve written if you can prove that even a single novel/novella/novelette category was stuffed with a secret bloc’s nominees in the past 10 years.
correia45, on April 7, 2015 at 1:17 am said:
Luckily for you, they’re not that stupid, but I won’t miss the sales.
Larry has said in the past he has not seen any evidence that the Administrators of the Hugos that count ballots have unfairly manipulated the vote.
But there is evidence of the dreadful block voting that so concerns rcade has been going on behind the scenes for years.”
So, no “admission” and no proof, but a good point: what competent conspiracy would leave records? Perhaps the math does / does not confirm the effect, I didn’t take that much statistics. Nevertheless, he did not admit deceit on his part, nor claim his version is a myth.
It’s apparent that we see the problem differently; without a signed, sealed, witnessed document confessing collusion you cannot credit that a problem exists. I get that; enjoy your convictions. I do not reject bloc voting for No Award, it’s your right to act as a bloc if you choose, we did (sort of, except for that variance problem). Enjoy; I still will read BlackGate stories, but I won’t punish authors for who likes them.
“what competent conspiracy would leave records?”
You don’t understand the SF/F community very well if you think a secret conspiracy by voters to manipulate the Hugo ballot would stay secret. Correia is justifying the hostile takeover of the entire Hugo ballot with an allegation he doesn’t even attempt to prove.
The only sensible thing to do is to not vote at all, until the rules for nomination are changed.
Darn interesting article, John. Thanks for keeping the tuna salad sandwich crowd up to date. I haven’t ever paid attention to the Hugo awards in years.
I’m more conservative than most (I prefer the term “classical liberal” as it can encompass both politics and economics) but I hate to see someone’s writing seen through a political filter.
ever = even, sorry.
[…] http://www.blackgate.com/2015/04/07/sad-puppies-and-super-puppies-the-2015-hugo-train-wreck/?hc_loca… […]
“[If] the Puppies smell disaster in the wind (disaster meaning there’s as much as 1/4 of the Hugo electorate they don’t control, threatening to vote “No Award,”)”
Unfortunately, that’s not disaster. If the No Award strategy is successful in burning the Hugos, it only reinforces and provides yet more evidence for the SP’s point: certain parts of fandom, especially those who’ve long considered the Hugos “theirs” simply cannot and will not countenance any author, editor, or work outside the in-group.
[…] You can read about this brouhaha over at Black Gate. […]
[…] John O’Niell’s post about his mixed feelings about Black Gate getting nominated, plus a followup post, and Matthew David Surridge’s explanation about why he’s stepping down from his […]
All I can say is that this whole cluster makes me wish I still smoked.
@rcade—that is great that you want to join the Sad Puppies! Raise your right paw and repeat after me:
I–rcade–do solemnly swear to hate cats because they are evil. But if a cat were to write a bitchin’ cool story I promise to read and promote it as if it were written by a Sad Puppy favorite. I will read all the books on the slate before chasing any squirrels and vote my conscience even if it contradicts what the Sad Puppies recommend or what my pack instincts demand.
There! You’re in! You might want to prepare yourself to be called a racist, bigoted, homophobe and wear a helmet.
I paid for a supporting membership to last year’s worldcon so that I’d be able to vote for the Hugos. I hadn’t done so for quite a few years, so I was rather put off by the weakness of the bulk of the nominated material. In several categories, I preferred to vote “No Award” rather than to select the lesser of poor choices. I was also particularly distressed to think, prior to my voting, that the nominees represented the best of what had been published in 2013. (At this point, let me state that I do NOT include the nominated Novels in my remarks here; I could not afford to buy them all, so I chose not to read OR vote for them. I refer only to the bulk of the rest of the fiction.) After reading the comments above, I understand why the field of nominees was especially weak. I’ve been teaching a college science fiction class for the last twelve weeks, and I plan on encouraging them to visit this site so that we might discuss the political ramifications. We’ll also be reading, in three weeks, Ann Leckie’s “Ancillary Justice,” a novel I selected for our class based on her Hugo award last year. I’m hoping the experience will be a positive one.
I’m delighted that you voted your conscience professor smitty. It is so cool that you teach science fiction. What comments did you see were linked to the weak choices? What made the choices weak exactly? Why was Black Gate unworthy of an award? I wish I was in your class to hear what you’d have to say.
Professor smitty, I want to do the right thing. I wanted to be a good fan and go the extra mile and I read science fiction anyway so I took the opportunity to vote. Since then my choices have been mocked, harassed, and shunned. I’m told that I’m not the right kind of fan and that I’m embarrassing. There has been a lot of innuendo that I might be too stupid to actually make an intelligent choice. So please, teach me. What makes these choices weak?
And if you could please, Orson Scott Card was excoriated for his views on homosexuality and religion, and therefore was unworthy of a Hugo. But then Saladin Ahmed was given an Hugo even though Islam has much harsher penalties for homosexuality or women in public. Last I checked Mormons aren’t tossing homosexuals off the tops of high story buildings or stoning women to death for adultery. The whole thing is highly confusing. Can you please clarify this? I want to do the right thing and I haven’t voted No Award and it is not to late to undo my ghastly mistake.
Wild Ape, Orson Scott Card has had a Hugo since 1986. He got three more after that. He’s done pretty well from WorldCon, really. He also chose to publish a story by Saladin Ahmed in his InterGalactic Medicine Show magazine, as it happens.
You might like to consider that perhaps your grasp on the history of the Hugos might not be quite as solid as you thought?
You know, I really try very hard to stay out of these discussions because it seems that neither side is going to ever convince the other or come to any sort of understanding – and the fault there rests on both sides.
But, Ape, I’ve seen a few of your comments in the past few days, among those of others, that are condescending and patronizing, while really not providing much substance to the debate, and so, briefly, I’m gonna break my silence.
Surely you don’t require a proffesor (such subtlety, you have) to point out the fault in your Ahmed and Card comparison. Or the fact that Islam is far from the only religion abroad that is used to justify terror and oppression. Or the fact that simply practicing a religion doesn’t mean that one supports and blindly adheres to every tenant that has been teased or conjured from their scripture. Or the differnce between practicing a religion in one’s private life and writing lengthy public essays painting an alternative lifestyle choice that you don’t happen to agree with as a threat to America. Apples and oranges.
And, fact check, Ahmed did not win a Hugo. Card has, though that was before the nefarious take over, I suppose.
I also assume that you (and the rest of the ‘puppues’) will read ALL of the nominees for this years Hugo’s, including the Anne Leckie and the Katherine Addison novels.
And how about this, not to derail the focus of the conversation, but what exactly are these beliefs that you possess that the ‘SJW’s’ want to exterminate? They wouldn’t happen to invole the superiority of a certain type of person over other persons would it?
I’m with John 100% on this-everything he’s had to say has been spot on. I think there are some noble causes and some noble minds involved in the Sad Puppies thing, but the tactics and demeanor of some involved are not doing them any favors.
[…] John O’Neill (Editor of Black Gate): Sad Puppies and Super Puppies: The 2015 Hugo Train Wreck […]
Wild Ape, you assume that Saladin Ahmed is Islamic just because of his name. He was born in Detroit, for heaven’s sake, and as far as I can see hasn’t made any public statement about what religion, if any, he follows. And of course, there are as many different views among Islamics as there are among Christians.
@JA Woods–honestly, only the last two posts were intended to have a barb. But after refection I think I can tone it down a bit and respond, as you have, with civility. I hope I haven’t killed the conversation.
I hold egalitarian values, that means that I believe that the society at large should not favor or give disadvantage to any anyone over another. Equality for all is best for society. SJW is the antithesis of that notion. They feel that some groups have been wronged in the past and excluded and therefore to correct this groups should be advantaged. We both seem to agree that many groups—ie women, minorities, creeds and religions have been harmed and left out in the cold. Our methods are different however and that makes all the difference on how wrongs are righted. I feel that advancement should be through merit first. They do not. Their tactic as stated on their websites is to publically shame those and to tear them down, silence them, and remove them. The end justifies the means. So when people spread lies and use character assassination for the cause it is okay from the SJW perspective because the ends justify the means. I think that is morally wrong and destructive to society. I’d prefer to tolerate someone’s obnoxious view rather than silence them because I know in the long run that is what is best for society as a whole.
The SJW wants to be free of offensive speech and they deem anything that disagrees or questions them as offensive. I don’t feel anyone has the right to be unoffended. That is an impossibility. So to answer your question on what they want to exterminate—freedom, free speech, individual liberty. As for the “superiority of a certain type of person” I’m not sure what you mean. If you are asking if I think that one race or person should be dominant above another race or culture that would conflict with my egalitarian value. I hope that all people are proud of their race, creed, religion, etc. I certainly am of mine but that does not mean that I can’t appreciate others or that I should tear others down to self promote my own.
As for the professor, I can explain it. Card does not get a pass because of his politics while Ahmed does because he is in alignment with the SJW politics. Both are competent writers, committed to their religion, and vocal about their beliefs. I don’t have anything against them personally. I would stand up for either one to be treated fairly.
I also agree that we should get back on topic. I voted for Black Gate for a Hugo. I voiced why I thought it merited an award and all I got back was nothing. Why does Black Gate not deserve an award or who is better?
Oh and yeah, I was wrong about the awards and nominations for the Hugo with regards to Card and Ahmed—so sorry. That was not an attempt at character assassination like that hit piece EW and the Telegraph sent. How ironic that I flamed EW for their lack of fact checking and made a MISTAKE.
As for Ahmed rea, I think he is but I don’t know for certain what religion he is. I agree that just because of his last name and because he writes about Islam and tweets about it doesn’t mean that he is. Either way it makes no difference to me what god he prays to or if he prays to a god at all.
“I see an electorate of principled voters who are poorly educated on what the Puppies are trying to accomplish”
Why do you assume that the mass of people outraged at clear attempts to stuff the ballot box to promote works based solely upon the political views and interpersonal relationships of the author instead of their writing ability are “poorly educated”. Year after year I see you excuse Vox Day’s disgusting behavior, saying he’s just misunderstood. At this point it’s clear that you are the one who doesn’t understand. Vox Day’s entire life has been an attempt to promote himself and his political views through whatever underhanded methods he can find. We sadly expect this in politics, but to see someone to be so underhanded about it in what is supposed to be an award for creative arts makes people angry. For you to say that *they* just don’t understand only proves that you are the one who doesn’t get it.
Wild Ape, I’ve been a long time reader here on BG, I just don’t comment much, and I’ve seen a great many of your posts that I’ve agreed or laughed along with in the past. I didn’t intend to pile on you and I don’t think you’ve derailed the conversation at all. It seems that topics and situations like this can bring out some ugliness or a fatigued sort of snark and sarcasm that might not be the norm.
It seems to me that one of the many problems with this situation and others like it- which seems to be the so called SJWs against more conservative writers and fans- is the typical case of the very vocal minority. Where you have seen these mission statements I don’t know. I believe that you have seen them and don’t mean to imply that you’re being dishonest, but I have visited the website of a great many folks commonly referred to as SJWs and no where ever have I seen it so boldly and plainly stated as that or really anything to suggest that character assassination or silence is their endgame. Unless we’re talking about folks like Requires Hate.
They’re out there, no doubt, but the bulk of writers and fans on the left? I don’t believe there are any near that level, maybe I’m just being naïve. RH,it happens, just released a debut novel under her actual name, obviously, and once the connection was made she came under fire from a group composed of more than a few people that might be referred to as SJWs themselves.
On the other side there is Vox Day. To me, he and RH are two sides of the same filthy coin. Maybe you’ve never visited his site (which it seems to me he is disingenuous to call one of the biggest SFF blogs in the world, as it seems to focus for the most part on political opinion and social commentary)but it is a fount of hate laced posts and comments from his readers. Here on BG he’s well spoken and respectful for the most part, but he has plainly stated, here and elsewhere, that his goal is destruction. What kind of message is that, Ape? Should we judge the puppies on the opinions and antics of one man? And I know that there are those who do, and they’re wrong to do so.
We’re all here because we love the genre and want it flourish, nonsense like this isn’t doing anybody any favors.
@JA Woods—I’m tickled that I made you laugh and I am a bit sad about the barbs I sent towards professor smitty. I’ve been a captive audience to a few professors who couldn’t resist grading me based on if I agreed with their politics or not. I’m career military and so I’m not easily intimidated. He miffed me a bit when he said,”After reading the comments above (me), I can see why the field of nominees was especially weak.” Okay, he doesn’t like me–like that that’s a surprise. Where are the specifics professor. Are you like your students who skip over the reading and read cliff notes or did you actually do your homework? That you are a college professor of science fiction means zilch to me. Talk about polite innuendo. This ape ain’t fallin’ for the polite smiley face with a Hitler moustache routine. If you have something to say professor then say it. The floor is yours–but specifics please. Do you allow your students to not read the book but judge it by its reviews? I don’t think he has specifics but I’m willing to listen to him. At least tigtog verified the actual record and contributed to the conversation. I may be wrong but I think that the professor is used to telling his class how it is and not used to debating and proving his point. I don’t know, I may be wrong.
I cringe when I think of his poor class forced to read Ancillary Justice. He must HATE his class. It may be a Hugo but I couldn’t choke it down past the second chapter. Still, it won a Hugo.
The Hugo award claims to represent all of fandom but it clearly does not. It represents a fraction of them. That is what I learned from this whole adventure. They represent a convention of a few in fandom and some are open minded and some are not. I don’t believe that most of fandom is left of center, I think that they cross a big swath across all sectors but I don’t think that is true of Worldcon. I think it has wide appeal to those left of center and many have made the fans of the right persona non grata. It is an insider award and it may be marketed as a open to all award but that simply isn’t true. I don’t think all of those that participate are abusive, but a lot are. I agree that they are a small minority but they are a powerful minority and they are a vicious lot and they deserve to be exposed for the bigots that they are. That group engaged in character assassination on Larry Correia and Brad Thorgerson—that is a FACT—and it is uncool and wrong.
As for Vox Day—he is a bit harsh for me but he spearheads the Rabid Puppies. I’m not sure why he, Brad, and Correia aren’t speaking together on things. I’m a Sad Puppy and I closely follow Thorgerson and Correia. I don’t know why either party doesn’t refer to the other. I recommend reading the last three posts on Monster Hunter Nation as you will get Correia’s words and more of the philosophy of the Sad Puppies there. You will either like it or shun it. He spells out his opinion and it is different from Vox Day’s. Day from what I read has a scorched Earth approach while Correia has talked about his past mistakes with Sad Puppies 1 and 2. He talks about his future goals with Sad Puppies and spells out what they stand for. I would read his open letter in response to George Martin’s opinion of the Sad Puppies before you decide to go with what Vox Day says. Correia also talks specifics about his selections and is open to a wide range of political, ethnic, and religious viewpoints in science fiction. He simply wants a voice at the table and for the Hugos to live up to what they preach.
For you Ancillary Justice lovers out there—especially the professor’s students. You aren’t wrong in your choice. I am generalizing but sometimes British authors take a bit of time to warm up than what I am used to. I doubt Larry Correia resonates everywhere. I took a sci fi literature class from a screaming liberal professor too. In the long run I reluctantly ended up liking him. He and I could relate to Heinlein and David Weber and he introduced me to Neuromancer. For that I will be greatful even though he forced me to read Harlan Ellison. I survived and so will you. Sci fi is like beer. There are dozens of different beer types and not one has universal appeal but they all undergo the same magical process and hard work much like the writers do to make those bitchin cool stories fun reads. Don’t be conflicted about what you like. And for those who like to mix reading and beer you might want to break out a Rasputin Dark or if you feel a bit sparky a Clown Shoes beer for Ancillary Justice. That way you can at least enjoy your time that you are wasting reading the book. Your head is going to hurt either way.
Wild Ape, I don’t see anything wrong with following your conscience, so long as your conscience is not leading you in morally unsound directions. The “weak choices” I was referring to were both short stories, one of which hardly qualifies as a story; it read more like newlywed pillow talk with minimal SF content. The other concerned a young man visiting home for a Christmas holiday, who brings along his gay lover, expecting some degree of backlash from his old-fashioned, Old World family. I did not object to the homosexual element; as a heterosexual, I can’t identify with the character’s gender preference, but as someone who occasionally broke with family tradition, I understood the character’s dilemma. My objection was to the so-called science fiction element: a sudden shower of rain drenching anyone in the story who lied. It’s never explained, it’s highly implausible, and it’s an extremely weak plot device. The class I’m teaching has recently read Joe Haldeman’s “The Forever War” and Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Left Hand of Darkness,” both of which deal, to one extent or another, with gender issues. Both are nearly 40 years old, so SF has dealt with gender issues for years. We’ve also read most of “The Science Fiction Hall of Fame,” and I cannot imagine either of the two “weak choices” coming anywhere near the quality of the stories in that stellar volume. Call me a traditionalist, but I think anything worthy of a Hugo should compare favorably with the classics, no matter how old those classics are.
It disturbs me greatly that personal political agendas should factor into a story’s eligibility for Hugo status; leave politics to the clueless morons in Washington. The concept behind fan-based voting is that we know good stories when we read them, and we know when a majority of readers selects a particular nominee for the highest award in SF fandom, the story has merit beyond potentially prejudicial political lines. Those stories stand the test of time. I sincerely doubt that those weak choices ever could.
“…before you go with what Vox Day says.”
That’s just it, I’m saying I’m not looking to go with what Vox Day says just as, it seems to me, too many people are willing to take the words of a few SJWs and apply them to the many on the ‘other side’. I agree with Mr. O’Neill that there is no cohesive enemy to be faced here.
I’ve read a portion of Correia’s first book and thought it was very entertaining and its on a long list of TBR. I saw him on a few panels at Gen Con a couple of years ago and he seemed a respectful, intelligent, and very approachable guy. I don’t follow his blog and don’t know much about him aside from this little tiff with the Hugos. Torgensen I know absolutely nothing about, I admit. So, I’m not going to paint those two individuals with the muck that Day and the Rabid Puppies are slinging. In fact, it seems that Brad Torgensen’s list doesn’t follow any overtly political or self-interest motiviation. There are folks from all stripes represented therein. That’s great, it really is. The problem that people really have is outlined above by a few other folks. It’s not the presence of conservative voices on the ballot that is upsetting. It’s the total hijacking of the ballot. It’s the fact that these guys identified an alleged problem, a problem that it would appear the vast majority of individuals of all backgrounds were unaware of, and rather than bring that problem to light with an orchestrated campaign, they choose to exploit it. To use the problem for their own ends. Why not apply the same organized, strategic planning to simply bring the actions of this alleged cabal of liberal fans and writers to light rather than use the same dirty underhanded tactics to basically hand write the nominations for the Hugos? And who is this group that engaged in these character assassinations? What did they do exactly? Was this before or after all this Puppy business?
I actually do think that the scales are tipping in favor of the majority of SFF readers and writers being let of center. It’s always been a progressive genre and the trend continues as the world itself becomes an increasingly inclusive and progressive place. ANd now, the awrds and the environments around them are reflecting that. DOes that excuse everything that goes on? Absolutely not, but there has to be some acceptance of a changing demographic in fandom and in the world.
Look, the Hugos mean absolutely nothing to me, honestly. The winners don’t jump to the top of my readlist or even demand inclusion. I’m like John, I’m a cover man. Gimme some cool art and a half way compelling premise and Ill give it a shot. I’d love to see them handed out to adventure-oriented stories. I have been a vocal champion of BG’s own Howard Andrew Jones pretty much anywhere that there is an audience to whom he is unknown. I’d love to see the guy win a Hugo, he writes hands down the best swords and sorcery novels out there and he is just an exceptionally great dude. No politics no hidden agenda or preachy message, just great action driven, tightly plotted, snappy little stories thatll knock the socks off of any true SnS fan. Or any fan of great, fun story-telling for that matter.
But see, Howard himself told me a long time ago when I was talking to him about my own writing that you’ll never win an award writing this stuff. He doesn’t seem to care and neither do I.
But to a lot of people they certainly do and there has to be some respect for that. I don’t think that respect is there when you have shenanigans like this going on.
Oh man,so many typos.
Wild Ape, I just read your response to JA Woods. To answer some of your comments, everything that I put on my syllabus, I have already read, at least twice (and in some cases, 4-5 times), and I read them AGAIN while my students are reading them. (Right now, we’re reading “Neuromancer.) I couldn’t possibly care less about my students’ politics, and I encourage disagreement, so long as the student can support his or her comments. My oldest daughter decided to take the class this semester, and she constantly challenges me in the classroom; I welcome that, because it forces me to be on top of my game, and it always guarantees very lively class discussions, which everyone participates in. I selected “Ancillary Justice,” however, without having read it, because I wanted my students to have the chance to read the most recent Hugo award-winning novel; I look forward to reading it myself. I grade my students on their ability to express themselves competently in their written work, as well as their attendance, and their participation in class. As I said, I couldn’t care less how they vote, or that their opinions clash with mine. My one fondest hope was that the class would introduce them to some outstanding science fiction, something they might actually get a kick out of reading, enough so that the next book they choose to read might well be SF or fantasy. I’m not a screaming liberal, and I greatly admire Harlan Ellison’s work, but I also told my students at the beginning of the semester that I didn’t expect everyone to read all 13 books on the syllabus, and, as you yourself say, some of the authors I admire are much like beer: an acquired taste. My daughter didn’t like Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”? and when I invited the class over to watch “Blade Runner,” most of them thought the film was dated. Was I disappointed? Yes. Will I flunk any of those kids? Hell no. They gave me honest opinions, offered me substantial support and reasoning for their decision, and we all look forward to the next movie night. I’ll let you know how we all feel about “Ancillary Justice.” Sorry if these comments here seem disjointed; it’s been a long day.
@professor smitty—They get to read Neuromancer AND watch Blade Runner? I take back what I said—you must LOVE your class. That would be a perfect combination of Cyberpunk. That sounds like a great syllabus. I enjoyed “Forever War” and although I didn’t like “Left Hand of Darkness” those would be great bookends for gender identity. I think in fairness to Ann Leckie is that I read Cherryh’s books recently and it was a hard act to follow. I sympathize about your daughter not liking “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” because my son did not like Starship Troopers. Thank you for your time sir.
@JA Woods—you make good points but even George Martin admits to a lot of what Correia is saying.
And the character assassination story has been redacted but Correia has the original posted on his website up here:
It shows that the same story was repeated by The Guardian, Salon, Huffington Post, The Telegraph, io9, and Slash Dot. This was after Sad Puppies 3 list made their big splash.
I want to skip over a bit because I’m half awake and starting to drift off. One thing you said is that you like sword and sorcery and Howard Andrew Jones. We are in lock step there. I doubt Jones will ever see a Hugo but I don’t care. I’ll buy every book he writes because it is a good ride every time.
John is killing me too. He put that Goblin Emperor subliminal message on the post and now I’m going to have to buy another book he recommended and read it–just to be fair. He may not see the cabal of lefties and probably thinks I see black helicopters circling overhead but I don’t care. Keep recommending those good books John and dig up a new sword and sorcery novel while your at it!
[…] Magazine had no idea they were on the slate and isn’t comfortable with the association. The same applies to Black Gate and Matthew David Surridge, a Black Gate columnist, even declined a Best Fanwriter nomination. And […]
@professor smitty–I’m not fully awake–haven’t finished my coffee but I am scratching my head trying to remember that shower you mentioned—I honestly don’t recall any of that. I did not vote for the story on the Sad Puppy list. I didn’t read any of the Rabid Puppy choices–not because I didn’t want to but because I didn’t know about the Rabid Puppies until a few days ago. I disagree if they have a shower like that. That sounds funny to me–I hope it is a cold shower and I hope they actually invent the thing before the presidential debates in 2016. Wouldn’t that be revealing?!
The choice I thought was best on the Sad Puppy list was Tuesdays With Molekesh the Destroyer. It was hilarious and memorable but I thought my pick was better so I voted for it. (Sorry Larry)I do believe that the award should not be based on politics so I want to be true to my values and not vote based on what my side says because then I’m just like what I’m against.
My pick was Big Ben and the End of the Pier Show by James Lovegrove. This is from the Kaiju Rising anthology and it was the lead story. I bought the book because Larry Correia is in it. The story is about a businessmen who owns a bankrupt amusement park where a Kaiju (Godzilla) monster comes storming towards his town. Big Ben is the robot soldier who fights the Kaiju. What I liked about it was all of the pure British essence in it. Big Ben is like a symbol of the British Tommie, underpaid, unappreciated, and totally outclassed but gets the job done. I could not help but think about all the other British writers and heroes over the years. There was Kipling, and Sassoon, Churchill, and every British infantryman that I’ve ever known in that. It also embodied conservative principles. I don’t want to spoil the story but suffice to say that had conservative principles both in tradition and in business ingenuity. Not to mention it had a bitchin cool Kaiju which wouldn’t have a snowballs chance in Hell, let alone a Hugo. I’d match that story up with Heinlein, Asimov, and all–any day.
I think the choice came in too late to make the list and it did not win. My choice on the Sad Puppy slate did not win so I might have to do more reading. Honestly I think the trope of a cold shower blasting you when you lie is funny. What story was that? I may agree with you that it wasn’t sci fi winning quality but I just don’t remember reading that. Was it a Rabid Puppy pick?
For novel I picked Skin Game by Jim Butcher. I don’t think it is his best but I do think it is worthy. Now that John has tipped his hat for Goblin Emperor I feel compelled to read it and balance it against Skin Game. John has made some solid picks for me this year and stuffed my Kindle full. I don’t have a problem with shifting my vote. I certainly am open minded to give it a whirl.
I understand why many, like you professor and John, are upset by the Sad Puppies voting. You feel cheated and the system gamed. Now you are faced with choices that you find questionable and perhaps a bit bullied. After all you read your writer and your pick and that was bulldozed by a bunch of people who voted on a slate for perhaps politics that you don’t agree with. Welcome to the Sad Puppies. That kind of lame BS is what started the whole mess.
John says that there is no such group. He is an editor and one I would call an insider. George Martin says that there are many groups like the Sad Puppies gaming the system. I consider him an insider too. I don’t think John is lying, I think he is probably a bit too open minded and not partisan enough to be in the clique. John has principles and values his integrity. I TRUST him. I pick books that he recommends. Martin admits there is slate voting going on by many others. They just didn’t do it on the scale or in the open like the Sad Puppies. It is just how the sausage is made.
Hugos is Worldcon—it is not the entirety of fandom. They just claim to be.
Hey fellas, the story is called, I believe, The Water that Falls on You from Nowhere, and it was LAST years HUGO winner. I agree it’s not really much of a SciFi yarn, just uses a SciFi plot device that really isn’t even essential to the core of the story.
You’ve got the title correct, J.A., and thanks for the clarification regarding the year — it WAS a 2013 story, and I WAS referring to the slate of entries for the 2014 Hugos.
@JA Woods and Professor smitty—-JA you may have just saved me from another volcano rant because you prevented a misunderstanding. I was nodding my head about the shower trope and meanwhile puzzled by what the hell he could be talking about and what I must have missed. Then I look over some of the stories to reread it and then—–BAM!—it hits me. What if the professor was spoofing me and playing a joke and pulling my leg. Someone says a lie and a shower appears and dowses them? Pinochio and every politician is drenched? I’ve been had! I’ve been mocked! The professor is probably howling with laughter at me and the wheels in my head are spinning. Sometimes when you hold an unpopular opinion it kinda feels like that scene from that John Wayne movie where Rooster Cogburn is up against ten or eleven guys by himself. When in that situation as a Sad Puppy you have to follow the code of the west and fight. So while I spy the forum all line up against me and mocking me I grabbed my flame thrower and mouse and get ready to yell like Rooster Cogburn, “Fill your hand you !@#$&*##!!!” and start laying down flame.
I haven’t read that story but that is the reason why Sad Puppies is sad. Stories like that are awarded a Hugo and supposedly represent the best of the best as agreed to by all of fandom.
I think the professor is spot on when he says that you have to compare it to the giants of the past. I also understand the anger when people who want to vote No Award get hopping mad when they detect someone trying to jam something into the system that doesn’t merit the award.
I agree with others who have said that a story must be able to hold ground against some of the past awardees like in short story for Flowers of Algeron, or No Truce With Kings, or (god help me) Ellison’s I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream and many many more. If they read it and then rate it No Award then I don’t have a problem with that. I think that is how it should be done.
I am impressed with Black Gate. I also respect Matthew for turning it down. I don’t think it has a snowballs chance in hell of getting nominated but I think it is the best pick of its category. It isn’t just John who is very talented. The magazine is surrounded with excellence that goes beyond the par of others in its class. I think Black Gate is representative of fandom and it bring people to fandom.
John challenged Sad Puppies with proof of a left wing conspiracy. I think Larry Correia failed to recognize it but he saw the results of it. The big mystery is how it is done—it isn’t very hard to do that damage and remain anonymous. Read this article:
That is just Twitter–and Correia was accused of being a racist, woman beating guy. Torgerson too.
The other proof you have is the similarities in the talking points among the various news agencies that I listed above,–ie–Entertainment Weekly, the Guardian, The Telegraph, Huffington Post, etc. Check the wording closely.
Then you have the proof from George R.R. Martin himself.
and you have the Sad Puppy response here:
Wild Ape, blame me for not making myself clearer on the stories I referred to. It’s a sad day when an English prof goofs up a communication. (For the record, the other 2013 story I mentioned was “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love.”) I echo your comments on the excellence of Black Gate; it’s got MY Hugo vote. And I’m glad you selected the John Wayne version of Rooster Cogburn; no offense to Jeff Bridges, a fine actor in his own right, but The Duke defined that role and owns it forever. (By the way, the film is “True Grit.”) Ape, sounds like you ‘n me might have to set down to a beer sometime.