Dear Puppy Nominees: Grow Up

Dear Puppy Nominees: Grow Up

Starship Sofa Hugo-smallAs I predicted in my last post, there’s been no shortage of discussion regarding the Hugo Award ceremony Saturday night. From the non-Puppy contingent there’s been plenty of smug satisfaction and schadenfreude, and from from the Puppies there’s been the expected complaining about intolerance from the evil left, and dark threats about next year.

Sadly, I haven’t seen a lot of calls to come together now that the fireworks are (largely) over. Perhaps the most insightful comment I read (and I read a lot) came from author James Enge, who wrote:

Let me say this about the puppies — rabid, sad, or otherwise: they were right to act, to participate in something that mattered to them. Fandom was caught napping on the nominations, but not on the final voting. We should rise to the puppies’ challenge (and example) and participate in the nominations for next year’s ‪Hugos‬.

If you take the time to read though the various posts and comments from both sides (and I admit I stayed up very late Saturday night and Sunday morning, doing exactly that), you’ll find pretty much what you expect. Both sides talking past each other. A lot of hurt feelings, and a sense (probably accurate) that the other side isn’t listening. No wonder both sides are talking exclusively to their own small audience — they’re the only ones listening.

Only the most hardened Puppy kickers refuse to acknowledge that the Puppies have a point about the fiction they love being shoved aside for major awards. And for the most part, the puppies have (grudgingly) admitted that they could have fielded a better slate. I suppose that’s understanding, of a sort. So there’s that. Most of the grumpy talk in the past 48 hours hasn’t really bothered me.

With one exception. There’s one class of complaints that drives me absolutely batty, because it seems to me to arise from willful ignorance, an overabundance of pride, or raw, simple stupidity. And that’s the anguished cry from some Puppy nominees who didn’t win, and who put the blame squarely on the entire industry.

When I learned that Black Gate was nominated for our very first Hugo Award on April 5, I was beyond thrilled. It was the highest honor our little band of volunteers had ever received. And twenty minutes later, when we realized that our nomination had come at the whim of Vox Day as a result of being included in his Rabid Puppies slate, it immediately sapped the joy out of it.

At that point, we had a decision to make. We could either accept the nomination, celebrate it, and gladly throw our lot in with Rabid Puppies. Our we could make the very hard choice to decline, forgo the considerable glory that comes with a Hugo nomination, and sit this one out.

Unfortunately, the outcome of all this was painfully obvious, even back in April. Here’s what I said on April 7th, two days after our nomination was announced:

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.

So in the end, it wasn’t really that tough a call. Yes, it was hard to walk away from the glory of a Hugo nomination, but the consequences at the end just weren’t worth it.

I waited until I could hear from every member of the staff who wanted to give input, and on April 19th, we formally withdrew from Hugo consideration (too late to get removed from the final ballot, as it turned out, but the committee was gracious enough to include a note on the ballot explaining that we had withdrawn.)

We weren’t the only ones in this boat. Every nominee on the Puppy ballots faced the same choice. Black Gate blogger Matthew David Surridge was also nominated for a Hugo Award, as a direct result of being included in the Rabid Puppy ballot. He declined immediately (and his thoughts on the subject, published in “A Detailed Explanation,” became the most-read article in our history). Marko Kloos and Annie Bellet both withdrew from the ballot.

As I said, it wasn’t an easy decision. It would have been wonderful to bask in the glory of a Hugo nomination for the past four months, even knowing how it was almost certain to turn out. The vast majority of Puppy nominees chose not to turn down their nominations, and I certainly don’t blame them. A Hugo nod is not an easy thing to walk away from — I know.

The intervening four months were a roller coaster for SF fans. I expected the “No Award” strategy to actively coalesce, perhaps even become organized. Didn’t happen. Instead many voices — including Rich Horton, George R.R. Martin, and countless others — argued for considering the ballot on its merits. By July the Hugos seemed a little less predictable, and it seemed possible a few might manage an upset and take home an award. (So much so that when the results were announced on Saturday it seemed possible that the bulk of the electorate had given the puppies a fair shake, as I wrote early Sunday morning.)

Nope. As it turns out, the results were dead easy to predict after all. Events unfolded exactly as I predicted on April 7th, with a near-complete repudiation of the Puppy ballot, and a record number of “No Award” winners (five).

So no real surprises, then. Until I heard reports of Puppy nominees walking out of the Hugo ceremony, and posting on Facebook about how disgusted they were with the entire industry, after being passed over for “No Award.”

I don’t mean to be unkind but, come on. This is idiotic. Every nominee made their choice back in April — to accept the glory of a Hugo nomination, walk arm-in-arm with the Puppies, and risk the wrath of the Hugo electorate coming down squarely on their shoulders, or to forgo the glory of a Hugo nomination because the price was too high.

Black Gate made its choice, and we paid a price for it. So did every other nominee. Anyone who pretends they couldn’t see that cost — to their career and to their reputation — is either a liar, an idiot, or so blinded by pride that they willfully ignored what was obvious to everyone else.

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Jay Maynard

If I was a Hugo nominee who’d been passed over for NO AWARD, to the accompaniment of raucous cheering, I’d have walked out too.

Jay Maynard

As I posted in a comment to my own posting earlier, that came across to me, at least, like the Palestinians dancing in the street on 9/11. No, the Hugos are not anything approaching that level of tragedy, but the same sense of joy in another’s destruction is evident.

GRRM said that applauding NO AWARD would be classless. I agree. I wish he still did.

Thomas Parker

I cannot tell you how much I look forward to forgetting this bloodbath and getting back to talking about great SF and fantasy.

Jay Maynard

Let me offer another observation: For those who say they want to heal the breach: your job got one hell of a lot harder after that raucous cheering.

“Wherever possible, leave room for your enemy to become your friend.” There’s very little room left short of outright capitulation.


“Dear Puppy Nominees: Grow Up”

OK John, now you are just being insulting to be insulting.

Why not say to those that cheered and jeered,
Those that metaphorically spit in faces to, those nominated grow up?

The ones who went directly on twitter to gloat, to keep tabs on “fans vs puppies” or “we defeated those fascists”

Why dont you call out THOSE folks?


” Their intentions were entirely honorable, and I salute the success of their endeavor. ”


Their intention was entirely childish.

Their intention was to be a bully.

Support for that behavior mean that you are joining their ranks, that you are being childish and a bully.

Dont be childish, dont be a bully. Be an adult. Be dignified.

Dont make jokes about asterisks.

Dont be a Patrick Neilsen Hayden and swear in the face of someone that approaches you in a civil manner.

Dont be Charlie Stross and his gloating score keeping.

Dont be Paul Cornell and his childish tweeting about defeating fascism.

Be a Pat Rothfuss and say that people on both sides should be more civil.

Rich Horton

John, I still disagree about the applause. It was a provocation. It was gloating. It was responding to bad actions with less bad but still bad action.

I think No Award was the appropriate result in most of the categories (I’d except Editor Long Form and probably Editor Short Form) … but the No Award result should have been received with a sigh of relief at most … as I’ve said, I don’t understand celebration at the fact that we got to the point of not giving awards in some categories. It was perhaps necessary — probably necessary — but it was not a happy moment.

Jay Maynard

John, I believe you when you say that your cheering does not come from hatred.

But can you say that’s true for anyone else? Everyone else? A majority? A loud minority?

More importantly, how are we to tell the difference?

I’m trying to think of a way out. No, not of the Rabids’ end; the only way to get there, probably, is to take Vox Day out back and shoot him. (Which I am not advocating, to be perfectly clear.) But there has to be a way for the two sides to come together.

GRRM tried, and I think he made headway…but even he is now defending the cheering, if tepidly.

Mark my words: that did more to alienate conservatives not he fence than anything else could have. It will take drastic measures to overcome it, if it can be overcome at all.




You dont see the hatred…

You call it like you see it…

Are you blind? If some puppies are/were your friends, and these last couple of posts is how you treat them, I would hate to see how you treat people you really dislike.

Strike that…

With your snark. Your petty insults. Your gloating. Your dismissal of any argument with which you disagree, your taking things out of context in order to find the most value to attack others.

You are making it increasingly difficult to maintain a civil tone.

I thought it was fairly clear that I was referring the the cheering as being childish as being bullying.

Which I think you knew, yet you decided to take it in a different direction in order to be snarky and attack. Much like you did repeatedly in previous posts when we were discussing the history of slates.

I have almost come to the conclusion that you are either not as smart as I have given you credit for over the years, or that you are being intentionally infuriating in order to amuse yourself.

Either way, I am disappointed in the tone you have decided to pursue lately.

Maybe you are the one that should reflect on what has been going on lately. Maybe you should look beyond your blinders to see what others see…

Maybe you should open your eyes.

Jay Maynard

Believe me, TW, John’s rhetoric pales beside that which you’ll find on Scalzi’s blog, or Davod Gerrold’s Facebook, to cite just two examples. Never mind the io9 liveblog page.

John interpreted your comments as applying to him because he said he shared in the sentiment, if not the actions, of those who did cheer. That’s a reasonable thing to conclude.

I’m not going to presume to tell John what he’s feeling, but by the same token, I’m going to insist that nobody tell me how I perceive the cheering – like the folks over on Gerrold’s page have.

I haven’t given up hope, but I have a lot less of it than I did before I read the io9 coverage. There has to be some common ground on which we can agree. I’m not sure where that is, and I’m despairing more and more that there is any will to find it on either side.

If all hope is lost, though, that cheering will be marked as the final blow that killed it.


A little background first: I am a longtime reader and fan of science fiction and, to a somewhat lesser degree, fantasy. I collect SF first editions, and I am a book dealer at local conventions. I think I have a very good grasp of the history of the genre, but recognize that as the field expands it becomes increasingly more difficult to stay current with new authors and works, as well as the many new media outlets. For example, I wasn’t aware of Black Gate prior to getting involved in this year’s Hugo voting, and this is my first post here.

I’ll also say that prior to this year, I never participated in the Hugo Award voting process.

Like many other fans this year, the actions of the Sad and Rabid Puppies motivated me to pay the Worldcon supporting member fee so that I could add my voice to the awards. The initial motivation was purely in reaction to what I saw as a cynical, selfish gaming of the system. As one commenter elsewhere said (I wish I could remember where and give proper credit), the Hugo nomination process was always flawed, but no one up until now was narcissistic enough to take advantage of it.

BUT, having duly registered and received my voter packet, I then proceeded to read/view all of the submitted works.

Leave ALL of the kerfluffle aside – who did what, what was/wasn’t allowed under the bylaws, who’s oppressing whom – it doesn’t matter. All you have to do is look at the nominations. More specifically, look at the short story nominations. From a genre history perspective, short stories are what Speculative fiction is all about – so if you’re going to get anything right, it should be the short story nominations. So again, simply accept these short stories on their own terms, and that they represent the best of what the Puppies think of as Speculative Fiction:

“On A Spiritual Plain”, Lou Antonelli (Sci Phi Journal #2, 11-2014)

“The Parliament of Beasts and Birds”, John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House)

“A Single Samurai”, Steven Diamond (The Baen Big Book of Monsters, Baen Books)

“Totaled”, Kary English (Galaxy’s Edge Magazine, 07-2014)

“Turncoat”, Steve Rzasa (Riding the Red Horse, Castalia House)

Pretty sad, in my opinion.

The two best of them I would call solid, average work. But don’t think about them too hard, or they begin to unravel. And that’s the problem – a Hugo-caliber short story should force you to think more about it. The story should get under your skin and make you itch, and the only way to scratch it is to think it through. Harlan Ellison and “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream”. Octavia Butler and “Speech Sounds”. Ursula K. Le Guin and “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”.

As to the others nominations for the 2015 Hugo for Short Story – the only word I can come up with is “Embarrassing”. Take John C Wright’s “The Parliament of Beasts and Birds”. He attempts a lyrical, mythic poetic tone that maybe works for some, and maybe sounds like nails on the chalkboard to others. But to me the entire effect is ruined by a huge clunker of a line that comes when the Cat is describing her journey into the city of Man. She comes upon a walled garden where “…I was forced to wet myself — a humiliation my kind never loves — to cross the running stream which ran in an endless circle about the round pagoda, and by this I achieved the island.”

“I was forced to wet myself….” Really? I nearly wet myself when I read this.

This is what the Puppies thinks represents Hugo-quality short story writing?

No Award was the clear winner here.

But at the same time I think we must recognize that the Sad Puppies (leave the Rabids out here) have some legitimate points. And we should appreciate that one consequence – unintended or not – of their actions is this year’s record number of registered voters for the Hugos. Many of them first time voters, like me.


From the coverage of this year’s Hugo nominations, and reading about you declining the nomination. Well done, by the way.

Wild Ape

@TW—brother, why do you persist to try and reason with civility those who are uncivil? It is pretty clear that John is not debating. He is telling you how his clique operates. It is very simple. Let me speak with the Truefans words:

1. Our taste in fictions sucks. He says: We are:
“INCAPABLE of recommending fiction of any kind of quality, and certainly quality that rises to the level of Hugo worthiness.”

It would be best for the Truefans of Fandom that when you feel inclined to submit a work for nomination to simply put a shot gun into your mouth and blow your brains out (provided we have any brains to begin with) and put yourself and fandom out of their misery when you pull the trigger. You (me) (all of the Puppies) suck. I’d say that is pretty clearly stated with finality.

2. You are immoral and stupid:
“But when your only defense is to convince yourself that the electorate spurned you because they found what you did to be against the very spirit of the Hugos and your ballot to be wholly illegitimate, then you’re hiding sub-standard taste behind moral bankruptcy”

Again, this is not a debating point, this is a conclusion and statement.

“The Puppies have stayed in their echo chamber for long months, and to be honest, I don’t expect even this stinging repudiation of their selections to penetrate it.”

You (and I and the rest of the Puppies) are just to stupid to even grasp that we are stupid. Sadly, you can’t fix stupid. Stupid is, well, a fixed status. They are much more brighter and knowledgeable and they were just being nice and kind by at least giving the choices you made a No Award so that at least we could all see our nominations in the lime light for a while.

3. The Asterisk was an act of kindness. Yeah, I know it looked like the south end of a north bound dog but….you do see the humor in that don’t you? It was a noble and genteel act to make the pain of losing not be…..humiliating. The nominees were after all, illegitimate.

4. The good authors, even though, they weren’t really any good of any sort of quality worthy of a Hugo, opted to decline the nomination. That was roundly applauded. You see TW, there are rules that must be adhered to. You would not understand them of course because you are…..stupid (I, of course am too stupid too, my enlightenment of how stupid I am stems from my persecution complex with flickering moments of sanity. I’m just like you…..stupid.)

5. Leave the whole Hugo thing to those who know better. Need I explain that to you? Do you realize what your meddling has cost REAL people with real talent? John Scalzi was not nominated again. It was his turn to win and you ruined that TW. Anita Sarkasian did not get her due either thanks to you and your stupid friends and their Gamersgate cohorts. Patrick Nielsen-Hayden did not get his rightful award again either. This simply must stop. How will Philip Sandifer get twice as many awards for Dr. Who as Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, Star Trek, and all COMBINED? How will Glyer get his 46th? Now all these kind people who have finally cleared the way for real SF/F have to deal with your inferiority. Please!

6. We appreciate your contributions TW (and me). Now, we don’t want you to give up hope that even a half brained idiot like you can’t help SERVE Truefans of Fandom. Please continue to vote for the Hugo. We made record sales this year and we even allowed a greater price increase so that you can at least contribute more to real fiction and vote on legitimate choices. Better yet, just contribute and let us do the thinking. And we did enjoy the record setting loot that we got from all of you. It was delightfully fun to

7. The Puppy nominees deserve every bit of scorn and derision. Hey, we were being nice. They even had a chance to back down like good people to save themselves embarassment. They should be shamed publically for their mutiny. Especially those that walked out! Toni Weisskopf should have stood there while “the wrath of Hugo electorate” beat her into submission. She had it coming.

8. Next year we won’t be so nice. Let the Asterisk, the shaming, the No Award, and the ruined careers of those who chose to burn with you as you led this mutiny serve as a kind message. We won’t be so nice next time.

TW, my brother. Don’t waste your time. The Lords of Truefans have spoken and found you unworthy. So what. I think I would rather spend time with people who respect me and don’t look at me as a cockroach crawling on their Hugo and invading their private club.


What Thomas Parker said, above.


Wild Ape – The Sad Puppies stacked the nominations, and had their pick (of the litter, if you will) of what works to put on the ballot. It’s not my fault these works … sucked.

Returning to John C Wright’s short story “The Parliament of Beasts and Birds”: “I was forced to wet myself — a humiliation my kind never loves — to cross the running stream which ran in an endless circle about the round pagoda, and by this I achieved the island.” There is so much wrong with just this one sentence, you have to wonder who edited it. And speaking of Wright – three nominations for Best Novella – honestly? How can anyone take that seriously?

Did some people vote a straight anti-puppy list? Probably, and that’s unfortunate. They did the voting process a disservice by not reading the nominations and voting accordingly – like I did. Would the results have come out different? I really don’t think so, with a few exceptions like Toni Weisskopf, and maybe the Best Related category.


There’s a few factors at work here I fear.

I’ll comment on the political aspect on the item for that as it’s only an oblique part of this.

One of the reasons there was cheering on Saturday night, in the bar at least, where I was watching, was the huge relief that when looking at the vast numbers of people who’d voted (yes, yes, it’s relative…) the bulk of them were people who dearly love the WFSF and Worldcon and what it stands for.

The WSFS is a club, it’s a weird and varied club, and it has all the weird and varied trapping of old clubs that have grown up over decades and have managed to maintain a degree of continuity with the past. It isn’t for everybody. That’s a fact. It also isn’t necessarily as welcoming as a lot of people think it is. I’ve been going to Worldcons for a decade or so and have a ball every time but like with anything like this, it’s hard to ‘break in’ to something that’s been going for decades if you don’t have a social network to drop into. I can certainly fault myself, and fandom for that.

However, something else happened here. As has been discussed in many other places and threads Worldcon fandom reacted badly to the slates – I happen to think if it had just been the Sad Puppies, things wouldn’t have turned out as they did – it was the Rabid Puppy slate and the domination of certain categories of works that (and yes, I read them) were just complete rubbish. A lot of people who otherwise haven’t bothered with Worldcons for years came back and voted with their feet and their money. I decided to go to the Con itself to make sure I could take part in the business meeting. That’s a fairly large commitment but I felt it was worth it even if Spokane was an odd place to go. I’ll almost certainly go to KC next year to make damn sure we ratify what we decided.

However, the slates looked at all those sign ups and saw people flocking to their cause – this feels to me like genuine shock that a) their side was actually relatively small – given all the talk of standing up for ‘real’ fans and b) those that voted would, by a significant margin prefer to not award bad behaviour.

At least that is my take on it, and nothing has changed since April, in many respects I am in 100% agreement with everything my namesake is saying.


Sorry, I thought the profile caught that – Daveon (Dave O’Neill)…

Jay Maynard

“The WSFS IS a club, and a pretty cliquish one. And when outsiders (of any stripe) come in and try and dictate how things would be, they react exactly how you might think they would.”

Except that we’d been told for years that the Hugos belonged to all of fandom. As Larry Correia put it when things got started this year, if it hadn’t been held out as an award of all of fandom, there wouldn’t have been all this brouhaha in the first place.

Or is the WSFS all of fandom?

Eugene R.

Dear Mr. O’Neil,

For myself, I see no real reason to applaud the Hugo results with their various “No Award” badges of dishonor. I am pretty sure that Dr. Asimov would not have been pleased with this mess. I have felt this way since April, too. If I feel relief now, I feel it less demonstratively.

As for the issue of “healing the breach”, there is some good news from Sasquan – the “E Pluribus Hugo” (EPH) proposal passed on its first reading by the Worldcon Business committee. The EPH proposal is a change to the nominating process that will allow each nominating ballot to carry as many nominees as permitted per category, but it will only count as a single (1) vote. So, a ballot with 1 Best Novel nominee counts as 1 vote for that book, while a ballot with 5 Best Novels counts as 1/5th for each of them. In each round, the lowest vote getter is eliminated and the ballots that contained it are re-calculated, so our 5-nominee ballot would be 4 nominees at 1/4th vote each after its least popular nominee were dropped. For the technical among us, this scheme is known as Single Divisible Vote – Least Popular Elimination (SDV-LPE).

It does not preclude bloc voting entirely, but it does restrict a bloc to voting for only 1 nominee per category, which thus allows a book popular enough to attract a bloc to earn a nomination without shutting out an entire category.

Full disclosure: I know a few of the people who worked on the E Pluribus Hugo proposal and spoke with them a month or so before Sasquan.


One thing that would help moving forward is if more people would take the effort to distinguish between Sad and Rabid puppies. I don’t think any Sad puppies were looking for a best novella by John C Wright category. VD has done a lot of damage to everyone who cares, and will continue to do so for as long as he is responded to. He is not the Evil Overlord, rather a troll that is being fed by the buffet table.

Jay Maynard

Eugene, I put on my parliamentarian hat and read over the EPH proposal. I see no particular problem with it, myself…except that I have extreme doubts that, should a slate of the maximum number of nominees all get on the ballot, the voters would agree with the drafters that “it deserved to be elected”.

For that matter, I have no troupe with the 4/6 proposal, either.

Are the results of the business meeting available online anywhere?

Wild Ape

@Kesrith—sounds to me like you did your duty. If they didn’t measure up then they didn’t measure up. Nomination process should be partisan. Vote and campaign for what you like. Why not? I think in the finals you need to read the list and determine what is the best nomination. You know how Hugos have been in the past. But this year if the puppies were not here this is what it would look like:

And if you think there wasn’t a conspiracy in the past to dominate the Hugos read this:

Look at the timeline and the results of the Hugo. Then look at PHN’s column pouting about why he never gets a Hugo. Check out the timeline.

It is pretty obvious to me. The whole thing ended like a Scooby-Doo ending. I can almost hear PHN say, “And it would have worked too if it weren’t for those meddling Puppies!”

“It’s not my fault these works … sucked.”

Nope, that is your opinion and your right. It is also mine to say they are worthy and to vote for them. I’m glad that you gave them your honest best.

@markringey and Thomas Parker—me too. The gloat fest has to go on until it wears itself out. That is just the way of things. But if you want a good read for a short story/novella try “The Fortuitous Meeting” It takes place in the 1600s in Brazil. The writer did a lot of historical research and he also used Brazilian monsters from legend. It was talked about here on Black Gate. The digital price is .99 cents but the writer told me that it might be free in a couple of months. If you are up for a good sword and sorcery tale, that is the one. The writer is Christopher Kastenschmidt

Additionally I found the Battlecruiser Alamo series to be very good. It is a kind of Star Trek crew with a little more disfuntionality between crew members that makes it entertaining space opera. The writer is Richard Tongue.

Well, the good news for you all is that I’m outta here. I’ll be back if and when I get back. Till then all the best to y’all—specially you TW.


There are two things here. I’m not Dr Asimov and under no obligation to him nor anybody else over how I show relief at a result I wanted to occur – that said, apart from the Editor Hugos I honestly believe the correct award was awarded.

Secondly, I strongly recommend finding a copy of PITFCS ( – we are rather deluding ourselves if we think what we do at the speed of the internet is anything but a vastly speeded up version of what Asimov, Heinlein, Pohl and others were doing in the Letters Columns of the fanzine.

We’re forgetting the time that Dr Asimov had, it seems, no issue with Fred Pohl being barred from the first worldcon for his politics…

Plus Ca Change.


I voted for both EPH and 4/6 – I actually think combined they’re effectively ‘Belt and Braces’ protection from many things, including domination of popular TV shows.

I do think we might need to do something to allow for alternative Hugo recognition, but I’ll have to think more on that and take some soundings before I dare bring it up to a Business Meeting.

Sarah Avery

I’ve been trying to come up with a way to describe the thing that vexes me, personally, about efforts to talk about the Hugo controversy with people who lean to the right. It’s a little bit like this archetypal conversation that I think most married people will have had with their spouses at least once. For my part, I’ve been on both sides of this dialogue, an embarrassing number of times in my 21 years of marriage.

Spouse J: Your relative has a habit that really bothers me.

Spouse T: I am not my relative.

Spouse J: I know. I’m glad you’re not. I’m just trying to figure out a reasonable way to respond when your relative’s habit that bothers me is on display.

Spouse T: Will you stop lumping me with my relative?! I don’t have that awful habit, and I resent your implying that I do!

Spouse J: But I didn’t say anything like that. You’re a person I can talk to about your relative and the problem habit precisely because you don’t do what your relative does.

Spouse T: Everybody thinks just because my relative does that awful thing, I do it, too. I would have thought you knew me better.

Spouse J: I do know you better. Why are you lumping me with the people who see you that way? And I don’t think it’s everybody else who sees you that way, in any case.

Spouse T: Yeah, well, you’ve got some bad habits, yourself.

There are a lot of ways to see this kind of interaction, depending on where you find it. Like most painful things, it would be funny if it were happening to cartoon characters. Unfortunately, it’s happening to us, in a community we all value but doubt we can hold together.

From where I sit, Vox Day is the problematic relative with the ugly habit that most people agree is beyond the pale. His own statements fit dictionary definitions of fascism, racism, and sexism. His recent demand for the skulls of authors and bloggers he dislikes is as perfect an illustration of eliminationist rhetoric as you could want to find. As I’ve explained elsewhere, I think it’s inaccurate to describe Vox Day as a Nazi, neo or otherwise, because that’s specifically a party affiliation, and as far as I know, he’s not affiliated with that party. Fascism is the ideology I think is intended by that labeling anyway. When you disagree with someone, it’s worth making sure you know what it is you disagree about.

Vox Day so extreme, and in my view so repugnant, I wouldn’t assume any individual agreed with him unless that individual said so.

Some points raised by the Sad Puppies seem to me to have merit. Some points don’t. Since the Sad Puppies here have argued persuasively that there are major differences between their issues and those of the Rabid Puppies, Vox Day’s worldview, which is offensive to me on many levels, doesn’t really come into the way I think about the Sad Puppies…except that the Sad Puppies keep bringing it up.

If Spouse J wishes Spouse T’s cousin would stop getting so drunk at family gatherings that s/he passes out in the only bathroom at the ancestral homestead, and then the thirty other people at the reunion can’t get in without picking the lock — and Spouse T wishes s/he would knock it off, too — how is Spouse J’s annoyance at the cousin a judgement on Spouse T?

If someone who doesn’t side with either of the Puppy factions finds Vox Day’s speech and conduct appalling, how is that a judgment on Sad Puppies who are, at least some of the time, making real efforts at good faith discussion?

Spouse T is making a very human mistake, one that is at least in part driven by pain at feeling misjudged. But whether you put your variation of that initial dialog in a Monty Python cartoon or a Tennessee Williams tragedy, you know that sooner or later Spouse J’s patience with being blamed for a view s/he doesn’t have is going to snap.

There are plenty of other dimensions to the Hugo controversy, but that’s plenty for one blog comment.



A few years back regular Worldcon members got into a fairly nasty (but less nasty than this) fight with a lot of book bloggers and other younger fans who asked the same question. While technically speaking the Hugo belongs to Fandom, it isn’t, in my opinion quite that clear.

The reason that people want to fight over the Hugo Awards is that they actually mean something – just like the Oscars, even though ‘normal’ people don’t get to vote for them, they have a higher ‘social’ rank. They have that because for 60 years, generations of dedicated fans have worked damn hard to make sure they mean something.

That said, nominations and voting for Hugo Awards is open to any member of the World Science Fiction Society and they take it upon themselves to represent Fandom.

As was said over and over to the book bloggers and others who complained that it was all a bunch of elitist rich old white men (not necessarily an unfair charge at a certain level – it’s a bloody expensive hobby) – you don’t like how it works and don’t want to join and change it – set up your own awards, the internet is right here. The thing is, they didn’t, a lot of them joined up and we got a lot more diversity in the nominations… sadly, I think the fact they took Worldcon fandom at it’s word and joined up to change things from the inside is what got us in this mess.

What you do not get to do is decide that the Hugos aren’t working for you, then throw a tantrum demanding that it works the way you think is fair. One of things that has saved the Hugo Awards over the decades is the fact they’re designed to be very hard to muck around with on a whim.

Rich Horton

I will comment more at some length about EPH and 4/6. It is true that they are compatible — both can be enacted at the same time, and both work to some extent to reduce (not eliminate) the power of slates.

I made a proposal (here at Black Gate) for a variant of 4/6 that could be called 5/10. I still think that’s better (I could sign up for 5/8 as well), for a couple of reasons. One, well articulated to me by an EPH supporter who sat next to me at the Business Meeting, is that 4/6 weakens EPH (just a bit), while 5/10 (or 5/8) leaves EPH just as strong as it would be with no other change to the rules.

But my biggest reason for preferring 5/10 (or 5/8 or even 4/6) is that these changes address another problem with the current situation, entirely unrelated to slates: there are too many stories for anyone to fully comprehend the field, so more finalists, and an acknowledgement that no one’s list can be the complete list, are good things.

One problem I have with EPH — and if I’m wrong, as I might be, I’ll be glad to hear an explanation — is that is seems unfair to give the casual reader who read one story he really liked and figured he’d nominate it a vote worth 5 times the votes of a dedicated reader who read 2500 stories and chose 5 outstanding ones. (And, by the way, when it comes to movies, I’m that casual reader.)


I nearly called for a division on 5/8 I think it was close but didn’t much feel like being *that* person in that meeting on Sunday when so many of us were sleep deprived and hungover.

From a purely statistical perspective, I think Kilo made some good points about how weak ‘bullet’ voting actually is.

Eugene R.

Dear Mr. Maynard,

I cannot find any official minutes of the Business Meetings on-line, only a lot of live blogging threads.

And it is important to recognize that if a bloc is nominating a work that is also nominated by enough other attendees to form a majority, then it is a work that deserves nomination. So, bloc voting will assist in nominating works, but it will not shut out works that have wide support but are not bloc-voted, because bloc voters do not get 5 votes for Best Novel, only 1 (split 5 ways initially, perhaps).

Dear Ms. Avery,

My issue with the conflation of the Puppies is similar to yours, but with the added complication that the “related” spouse is also profiting from the bad cousin’s behavior, so protests of “But I am NOT my cousin!” ring a bit hollow.

Thomas Parker

In my family, cousins only get 1/5 of a vote anyway.

Eugene R.

Dear Mr. Horton,

Let us suppose that your scenario exists, with 1 casual “fan” for 1 story and 1 “reader” of 2500 who nominates 5. Under EPH, we have 6 stories with 1, 1/5, 1/5, 1/5, 1/5, 1/5 votes. #6 is eliminated and the re-calculation is 1, 1/4, 1/4, 1/4, 1/4, at which point we have our 5 nominees. So, the dedicated “reader” puts 4 stories on the ballot, while the casual “fan” gets 1 listed.


“you and I are pretty far apart, and it may be that we will never effectively communicate. But I appreciate the fact that you try.”

Thanks, I wish that I felt like the “try” part was mutual.

“John’s rhetoric pales beside that which you’ll find on Scalzi’s blog”

I agree, once upon a time, I tried to converse on Whatever…but I quickly learned that Scalzi would just hammer away any disagreeing comment that he couldnt counter with a snarky passive aggressive insult.

“TW, my brother. Don’t waste your time. The Lords of Truefans have spoken and found you unworthy. “

Glad I dont put much value on what other people think of me…especially the self-righteous elitists among the trufen. Plus I like a good argument every so often.

“WSFS is very much a club, one that tries hard to be inclusive of all of fandom”

Sorry, with that I will have to vociferously disagree. They try be exclusionary much more than inclusionary. They want to be a small club of friends that decides the fate of thousands…a politburo of what is acceptable fandom.

“The reason that people want to fight over the Hugo Awards is that they actually mean something”

Nah, the fight is so vicious because the reward is so insignificant. In the grand scheme of things, outside the world of the trufen, Hugos have about as much meaning as my choosing to have a sip of Ardbeg instead of Laphroaig before I typed this line.

“they take it upon themselves to represent Fandom”

And who died and made them King?

“The thing is, they didn’t, a lot of them joined up and we got a lot more diversity in the nominations”

For varying definitions of diversity…

BTW John, you should read these:

Worldcon fandom is winning…I guess.


So much talk about fans applauding and cheering for No Award. Well.

Lets remember that the slates were a No Award against all those worthy nominees they pushed out by gaming the system. Was there no cheering when the nominees were announced? As Sarah Hoyt, gleefully quoted by puppy nominee Wright, wrote:

“I suggest we kick them while they’re down and make them fight for the awards and prestige they crave. Also, that we point at them and make duck noises.”

Thats how the world is. Some people are bad losers. Some bad winners. But yes, I smiled and was very happy when No Award was announced. I can’t sa if I would have applauded if I was there. I think I would have for the first one, the relief would have been that great.

I’m human. When overcome with emotion, I will react. Not always in ways others would have liked.


I agree with Hampus. Id like also point out that many were simply happy the rabid puppys didnt win.
Like I said before: The rabid puppies hurt the sad puppies cause. A lot.The sad puppies distance themselves from the rabid puppies, but they dont acknowledge this damage but resolve to finger pointing.

Rich Horton

Dave … I also wanted to call for a division on 5/8, and also didn’t want to be “that guy”, especially as I had been up until 4 the previous night as well.

You ran the trivia contest, right? Thanks very much for that — it was great fun. And it was great to meet you.

Jay Maynard

All right, so what *was* adopted, then? I take it front he comments that 5/8 was proposed and came close to being adopted (otherwise, there would be no point in calling for a division).

Jeremy Szal

I definitely agree on the applause for the “No Awards”. It wasn’t a moment to be cherished – it was indeed gloating and I felt very uncomfortable watching it. Even more so when it came to the Editors section. Resnick, Gilbert, and Sowards are editors who deserve their weight in gold, and to see so many people slam a “No Award” higher than them was very disappointing, and the clapping afterwards didn’t do much to ease the atmosphere.

But it’s done now, and we can only strive to do better. We’re only human after all.

Also, quite unrelated, but I have to ask: why do you keep using StarShipSofa’s Hugo as an example? Not that we mind at all, but I mean, Tony can’t be that good looking!

Thanks for the read,


I will be as clear as I can be.

I believe that cheats are not entitled to win an award – even an award that they would have obtained through their own efforts without cheating.

Slate nominations are cheating. Morally and ethically, they are exactly like taking steroids in baseball in the 1990s. They cross an ethical and moral boundary, but not a boundary of a formal rule. Correctly, WSFS has acted to bring in a formal rule on the subject through EPH, just as MLB did by bringing in some testing and penalties for the use of PEDs.

The downfall of those who cheated was something I celebrated in exactly the same way I celebrate each year when Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are denied their places in the Hall of Fame.

So yes, I was (albeit at home watching over the internet) cheering when No Award won those categories. Because it was a defeat for cheating.

That Toni Weisskopf deserves an award for Best Editor Long Form is something of which I am in no doubt, and the day she appears on a Hugo ballot without cheating to get there, I will vote for her with my first preference, and will continue to do so until she has won one.*

But the honorable course was to do as Black Gate did and to decline the nomination. To have accepted that nomination is a stain on her honour. Not a sufficient one to prevent her winning the award in future, but a sufficient one to deny her the award this year.

* I regard the Editor and Artist awards as essentially lifetime awards and will not vote for anyone to win one more than once, or at the very least not until it’s been long enough that I’ve forgotten they won before.

Rich Horton

4/6 was adopted. Numerous other options were proposed (1/5 (a TERRIBLE idea), 5/10, 6/9, 5/8). 5/8 came close, yes. None of the others were even close.

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