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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.

And Marko Kloos, whose Lines of Departure was nominated for Best Novel, writes:

It has come to my attention that Lines of Departure was one of the nomination suggestions in Vox Day’s “Rabid Puppies” campaign. Therefore — and regardless of who else has recommended the novel for award consideration — the presence of Lines of Departure on the shortlist is almost certainly due to my inclusion on the “Rabid Puppies” slate. For that reason, I had no choice but to withdraw my acceptance of the nomination. I cannot in good conscience accept an award nomination that I feel I may not have earned solely with the quality of the nominated work.

I also wish to disassociate myself from the originator of the “Rabid Puppies” campaign. To put it bluntly: if this nomination gives even the appearance that Vox Day or anyone else had a hand in giving it to me because of my perceived political leanings, I don’t want it. I want to be nominated for awards because of the work, not because of the “right” or “wrong” politics.

If you want to get up to speed on the events surrounding the 2015 Hugo nominations, but only have the time it takes to eat a tuna fish sandwich, we’ve compiled a handy summary in our earlier article, Sad Puppies and Super Puppies: The 2015 Hugo Train Wreck.

15 Comments »

  1. Bellet’s words are really heartbreaking. On top of all the online reign-of-terror stuff, to have to let go of that vision of sharing a moment of recognition with her mom… Whether it’s to thank a parent who was supportive of writing or to share a moment of vindication with a skeptical parent who’s finally coming around, I think the dream of sharing a moment like that would resonate with most writers. I haven’t read Bellet’s story, but I do hope someday she gets to have that.

    Maybe next year the Puppies should have an equivalent of the Do Not Call list, a Please Don’t Slate Me registry. I’m happy to have readers on both sides of the current controversy, but I would not wish to be in Bellet’s predicament. That one does not get filed under Good Problem to Have.

    Comment by Sarah Avery - April 16, 2015 12:47 am

  2. Well said, Sarah.

    Comment by John ONeill - April 16, 2015 11:17 am

  3. “Maybe next year the Puppies should have an equivalent of the Do Not Call list …”

    Or maybe the Puppies should stop running these cynical bloc-voting campaigns.

    Comment by rcade - April 16, 2015 3:10 pm

  4. It’s beginning to look like this whole idea was an inspiration on a par with invading Russia. The masterminds responsible for those icy debacles never admitted their error – will the masterminds behind this one also refuse to admit or correct it?

    Comment by Thomas Parker - April 16, 2015 5:55 pm

  5. I see absolutely no evidence of that so far, Thomas. In fact, most of the Puppies I talk to remain convinced the slate has been a resounding success. The plans for Sad Puppies IV continue.

    Comment by John ONeill - April 16, 2015 6:11 pm

  6. @rcade—what is your definition of cynical?

    @Sarah–those words by Annie Bellet made my heart sad too. Who would be booing her though? The Sad Puppies who placed her there? Who is putting pressure on her like that? Correia has been blasted as a wife beater and a racist as has Brad Thorgerson.

    @Thomas Parker–Correia has talked to Vox to tone down the rhetoric and told his fans not to boycott or scorn Tor. Where is the voice of reason from the other side? Who is preventing the wife beating and racist labeling campaigns from the other side?

    When does the criticism of the stories nominated start? Are the writers and stories unworthy because their fans are wrongfans? So far I haven’t heard any substance coming from the opponents of the Sad Puppies.

    Y’all give Vox Day way too much power. He is probably right that the Wizard of Oz elitists will burn their own house down rather than enter the arena of ideas. They’ve just used guilt by association and smear tactics to take down two talented writers. John is right, Sad Puppies are not going to back down to their bullying and they have nothing to lose. The curtain has been drawn and the Puppies ain’t impressed.

    Look at the Sad Puppies logo and then compare it to the Rabid Puppy logo. The difference is night and day in the symbols therein. Sad Puppies aim to build the genre. Their list is genuine and a good list. I plan to look at the other selections before I make my vote. Next year I’m bringing my friends. This may shock some of you but at least half of them are liberals but they are the thinking and debating kind that the Sad Puppies haven’t tapped into—yet. They aren’t happy about the Hugos from the last few years either.

    Comment by Wild Ape - April 16, 2015 7:36 pm

  7. @rcade–also, I am trying to dial down things down between us. Disagreement does not equate to hatred or contempt for you with me. I’m not Vox Day and I don’t speak for Vox Day. I don’t feel the need to defend or amend Vox Day. I’m glad that you are passionate about the Hugos and that you post and I’m trying to triangulate what makes you bitter about the Sad Puppy list is all. I hope you don’t feel pounced on. I’m willing to engage in rational debate and I’m willing to admit error and I feel free to change my position. I hope you are too. I’m just a wrongfan probably having wrongfun is all.

    “If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love” will never be placed on my hallmark of favorite Hugo winners. For many fans it resonated and it won. I’m not calling for repealing the award because thousands of fans felt that it deserved a Hugo. It was certainly a coup for the dinosaur romance crowd that I never knew existed. To me, they are not wrong nor unwelcome. Their winning did not ruin or diminish the writers I like. I just felt obligated to voice and vote for the entrees that I enjoyed. That is where I’m coming from rcade. I didn’t question if the legion of dinosaur romance fans were gay, straight, left or right wing, in fact, I could care less. I’m just trying to swing them towards the kaiju stories more because I would prefer that to another dino love letter. Rachel Swirsky deserves a Hugo because she won the vote for the Hugo. I think the Sad Puppies list is sound and I would like to know why you think they are not is all.

    Comment by Wild Ape - April 16, 2015 9:31 pm

  8. @rcade I wish they’d change strategy, too. It seems unlikely to happen, though.

    Some people who voted that slate seem genuinely surprised that people they didn’t ask first are unhappy to have been nominated. I think some of the slate nominators genuinely thought they were supporting those authors.

    And since there have been some calls for drawing up counter-slates next year, despite all the reasons that’s problematic, many writers are saying they don’t want to be on anyone’s slate. In the unlikely event I’m ever in the running for an award, I would want it to be for the quality of my actual work.

    (Ironically, I always figured I wouldn’t get any awards because I’m a woman. As a member of Broad Universe, I volunteered some years ago as a bean counter a couple of times. Women’s rates of inclusion in the various year’s best anthologies and on the Hugo ballot were clearly much lower than men’s.)

    It’s increasingly difficult for me to think of the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies as a single group, their stated goals are so different.

    Vox Day and his fellow self-proclaimed rabies sufferers are, I think, cynical. I base that assessment on Day’s own stated intent to destroy the Hugos. Playing by the rules of a system so that later one can taunt the system’s supporters while declaring that the system will be destroyed sounds pretty unambiguously cynical to me.

    Larry Correia’s long response to GRRM seemed less cynical to me. Correia’s position in that post was still, in my opinion, unreasonable, but it was possible to imagine that, over years, it might be possible for people who wanted to mend that rift to do so.

    There’s no possibility of mending anything between Worldcon and Vox Day. He’s said as much. Even if it were possible, I wouldn’t regard it as a goal worth expending energy on. How much gloating about leaving the Hugos a “smoking hole” — or gloating about destruction of any sort — does it take before I start wishing a person would just go somewhere else, forever? I don’t know exactly where my line was, but I know he passed it pretty early on in the longest of BG’s Hugo threads.

    Comment by Sarah Avery - April 16, 2015 11:31 pm

  9. @Ape, I haven’t seen liberal response the Puppies say they’re seeing. I’m prepared to believe that there have been some responses like that, because every crowd has at least a few jerks. And wherever there have been threats, libel, or intimidation, those things are wrong, no matter who does them to whom.

    The claim that the response from left-leaning SF/F fans has been overwhelmingly or pervasively libelous, threatening, and hysterical feels off to me. Most of the SF/F readers I know outside of Black Gate have responded to the controversy with a shrug and something along the lines of that’s unfortunate.

    So I went over to Making Light to see for myself the outraged hysteria I kept seeing the Puppies refer to. Now, I very rarely read Making Light, just because the traffic over there is too heavy for me to keep up with. Before my kids were born, I tried that community on, but posts and comments ran so numerous so fast, I couldn’t imagine how any of their regulars managed to have lives, keep jobs, or write books. The relatively relaxed pace at BG is the most my current life allows me to keep up with.

    Anyhow, I wanted to see for myself what the Puppies were talking about. And after sacrificing more time than I usually get to spend on writing in a week, just on reading the Hugo-related comment threads at Making Light, I still hadn’t found it.

    The people over there expressed various forms and degrees of displeasure about the situation, but I only saw one person called a racist or a sexist. Vox Day, who has stated his opinion that African Americans are subhuman, was labelled as a racist. Vox Day, who has asserted that the world would be a better place if women were not permitted to vote, was labelled as a sexist. The thing about slander and libel is, in order for a spoken or written criticism to count legally in one of those categories, it has to be false. If someone can explain to me how the stated positions above don’t count as racist and sexist, respectively, with an explanation that actually holds together, I will (a) retract my assesment, and (b) be very surprised.

    I’m relieved to see (above) that you don’t feel a need to defend Vox Day. If you want to talk about your perspective about him, though, I wouldn’t mind understanding it better.

    You asked about criticism of the works the Puppies slate nominated, and who would be booing if their nominees won. I want to make sure I understand what your impression of the situation is. From this thread, and from other comments by you and other BG regulars advocating for the Puppies’s slate, it sounds like you see the factions of fandom that object to the slate as dismissing the nominated works as works because of who nominated them. If I’ve understood you wrong, please correct me.

    As with the threats and libel that the leaders of the two Puppies factions say they’ve been subjected to, I am prepared to believe that there have been some bad actors. Every crowd has a share of jerks. And wherever stories and books have been criticized solely because of objections to who nominated them and how, that’s unfair. (I think we can agree that both sides have some participants who have done that.)

    But here’s the thing: I don’t see the thing I hear you describing. The posts I’ve seen, both here at BG and at Making Light, that come from positions opposed to the Puppies’ slate have not criticized any of the nominated works, or any of the nominees, just for being nominated the wrong way by the wrong people. Overwhelmingly, what I’ve seen instead is a recognition that it’s unfortunate for deserving works and deserving creators to get tangled up in a controversy about process, especially in the cases of people who were surprised to find themselves on the slate.

    Here’s an example from Connie Willis’s explanation of why she won’t be a presenter at this year’s Hugos. There’s only one Connie Willis, but the sympathy she expresses seems to me to be pretty widespread:

    When I heard about this, I was sick at the thought of what they’d done and at all the damage they’d caused–to the nominees who should have made it on the ballot and didn’t; to those who’d made it on and would now have to decide whether to stay on the ballot or refuse the nomination; of the innocent nominees who got put on Vox Day’s slate without their knowledge and were now unfairly tarred by their association with it; and to the Hugo Awards themselves and their reputation.

    I have seen some pointed comments about the conflict of interest inherent in organizing a voting bloc to put oneself on the ballot in multiple slots in multiple categories. That seems like a pretty valid criticism. (By contrast, I respect Correia’s commitment to decline any Hugo nomination for himself or his own work, in perpetuity. He has said many other things I thought were unreasonable, but this one thing is notably honorable. I wish both Puppies factions had leaders like Correia.)

    Comment by Sarah Avery - April 17, 2015 12:21 am

  10. @Sarah—I’ve got to go to work but I’ll be back with a reply. Thank you for your thought out response and I look forward to presenting my thoughts and we are not too far apart on most of the things you brought up.

    Comment by Wild Ape - April 17, 2015 8:31 am

  11. “I’m glad that you are passionate about the Hugos and that you post and I’m trying to triangulate what makes you bitter about the Sad Puppy list is all.”

    Thanks. What makes me bitter is the strategy of bloc voting, because it made it impossible for nominations I made as an individual in good faith to appear on the ballot. Out of 80 slots on the ballot, my nominations appear 0 times. That’s never happened before. Normally I see around 2-6.

    I have no problem with Correia and his pals recommending works they like, but they put up a slate that had exactly the number of works in each category as the ballot. Vox Day also told people when he announced his slate that he wanted them to vote for it exactly.

    I find that an abuse of the spirit of the awards, because bloc voting enables a minority to hog the entire ballot while the majority gets almost nothing on it. That blows.

    “Where is the voice of reason from the other side?”

    George R. R. Martin and other pros have all called for civility towards Puppies even in disagreement. John Scalzi — probably the author the Puppies criticize the most — urged voters to consider voting for everything on the ballot even if it got there through a slate. There have been plenty of people on the anti-Puppies side who are, like John O’Neill here, avoiding personal attacks and abuse.

    “I think some of the slate nominators genuinely thought they were supporting those authors.”

    The Puppies was touted as an effort to bring more authors into consideration for award honors, but the organizers made many comments during the voting about how supporting the slates would stick it to social justice warriors, CHORFs and SMOFS (there was a lot of name calling). Some authors aren’t going to want to be part of an effort with an antagonistic political goal like that. It’s not what the Hugos are about for most of us.

    What Correia, Torgersen and any Puppies organizer other than Vox Day should be doing in the future is this: Promote works you think are great without using them as a cudgel against people you’re mad at. Stop trying to make SF/F into a culture war. In the long run, the more positive the campaign, the more all Worldcon fans will respect it.

    Comment by rcade - April 17, 2015 5:32 pm

  12. @rcade, I would far rather live in a culture ecosystem than a culture war.

    Comment by Sarah Avery - April 17, 2015 9:15 pm

  13. @rcade and Sarah—-lightning storm last night. My internet has been wonky ever since. I don’t know how far I’ll get with this post but I’ll try to get the highlights. Thank you for your good responses.

    Block voting—It has probably always been there. The Sad Puppies just caught people flat footed is all. What I think is very odd statistic is that only 1,600 people voted last year and only 1,800 this year. Now consider that a good portion of people are in the publishing industry how many fans are there really voting? 200 free ranging Puppies are enough to tip the scales? There are as many people voting now as there were in 1938. Do you really think that number is a good representation of all fandom? Block voting is the way to go. It’s too successful and now with the Puppies with an edge over the established voters slates it is sure that there will be spin offs.

    Credibility of the Hugos—I think the veil has been removed and I don’t think they will ever represent much more than a snapshot of a very small slice of fandom. The biggest Hugo turnout was 8,000. Sorry but there are YouTube videos of Warmachine that have more fan base. $40 for a Hugo vote? Really? Why not make it $5 and see hundreds of thousands or millions of voters? I think the establishment likes it small and I think they like the illusion that the Hugo is big.

    Call for reason–GRRM, Scalzi, and Correia have called for calm. I am not disappointed too much with GRRM as his voice halted a lot of the venom. I think the blog exchanges between GRRM and Correia have done a lot to tame things down. It is a pity that Torgerson and Hayden couldn’t do that but I guess the hate runs deep there. So, yes rcade, there are people calling for calm now, I agree.

    Booing—Sarah–yes you understood what I meant by I’m seeing factions of fandom who will dismiss the works as works and you caught me with a broad brush painting all non Puppies as being this way. Point taken. There will be some who take the time to make an educated choice and there will be some who do not. I just think that there is a silencing effect that is the essence of McCarthyism. It sounds like Anne Bellet is afraid that she will be booed by people she feels are her own crowd and that would hurt. She doesn’t want to be the centerpiece of a political battle. I honestly don’t blame her and feel bad that the culture war has set foot on her doorstep. Kloos feels the same way but doesn’t like Vox Day much.

    Culture War—I think politics has always played a part in the Hugos. The internet has made things more intense and raw. One of the tactics that I’ve seen used on conservatives is this character assassination crap that happened to Correia and Torgerson. There are many who put on a smiling face in public but in private they spew some of the most insidious venom far worse than Vox Day. Look at Lena Dunham from HBO’s “Girls” who talked about being raped by a Repubican named Barry in college. In fact Barry was a serial rapist and a big shot Republican on campus. There was such a guy that met her description and as it turns out her whole story was proven to be pure fabrication and she retracted all her Barry facts—–AFTER the Barry that met her description had his entire character and life shredded. It sure sucks to be a conservative because nobody investigates anything nor do they shame the perpetrators. In every corner of life the leftist culture war has become dirty, in Hollywood, in sports, in the news, in college, in education, and you expect me to believe that it doesn’t happen in the Hugos? If the hitpiece from EW and all those papers didn’t sway you then NOTHING will. With all respect to GRRM, he isn’t under heavy fire, he hasn’t been the victim of a leftist hit squad. Y’all are going to miss Correia when people on the right start playing the same games being played on them. Block voting is very tame. You wait until the IRS is used on you. I’m not calling for any of that—I’m against it being played by any side—but Vox Day would be tame by comparison.

    Vox Day—I disagree with his views on many things but specifically woman’s sufferage and their rights. It has been my own personal experience that the military was improved by increasing their number in the ranks. We actually had better berthing conditions (berthing–not birthing–it is a nautical term). I’ve had women in charge of me and they have been both good and horrible just like their male counterparts. I think the transition was botched though and the men were unfairly burdened for a time. I spent 11 years away from home, females spent no where near that time. Do I think that Vox is right that women and society suffers because women are now working and not raising families? Yes I do. I hope that does not make me a misogynist because I think it is okay for a woman to choose a career or to be a mom or wife or whatever. I’m very proud of my daughter and I told her that her mom made me a wonderful home but that she sacrificed her career and she went through hardships too while I was in the military. Vox claims to be a libertarian and I find it odd that he would want to take away a woman’s vote and career. I would expect him to leave that to be a woman’s choice.

    I think y’all give Vox Day way too much power. I think he likes stirring things up and so he calculates what would bring out the most squealing. Has anyone wondered if he might be a highly functioning Assberger’s or autistic? It might explain why his social filters are off.

    And Sarah, I share your sentiments about preferring to live in a culture ecosystem rather than a culture war. A British Tommie Sergeant Major once told me that soldiers never pick their wars, wars are picked for them. Like it or not we are in the midst of one but who is to say that we can’t make a cultural ecosystem? I’d like to see hundreds of thousands of SF/F fans vote for the Hugos. I’d like to see free speech practiced but there is a time an place for civil speech and certainly character assassination is out of bounds.

    Comment by Wild Ape - April 18, 2015 10:31 am

  14. […] Black Gate is hardly the first to withdraw from Hugo considerations. Marko Kloos and Annie Bellet both withdrew from the ballot last week. I think that doing so first took […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » Black Gate Withdraws From Hugo Consideration - April 19, 2015 1:50 pm

  15. […] should these nominees have done? Several have withdrawn their nominations (Annie Bellet in Short Story, Marko Kloos in Novel, Matthew Surridge in Best Fanwriter, Edmund Schubert in Short […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » The 2015 Hugo Nominations - April 30, 2015 11:32 am


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