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A Proposal: An Award for SF Storytelling

Thursday, September 10th, 2015 | Posted by Jay Maynard

The Book AwardsOne thing that’s been a constant in the back-and-forth over the Hugos has been the refrain from the folks who think there’s nothing wrong with them as they stand: “Why don’t you create an award for stuff you like?” Comments on this very blog have raised that point, and at least one commenter meant it in all seriousness.

This grates on me a bit. In one sense, to create a new award sounds like an admission of defeat, of an inability to make an award that’s supposed to represent all of fandom really do that. In another sense, though, it’s a way to ensure that at least one set of awards for SF/F represent what it is truly about: the story above all else.

I’ve developed a proposal for just that: a series of awards to celebrate and commemorate the SF/F storyteller’s art. It’s modeled after the Hugos, with two major changes: a panel of judges evaluates the nominees to ensure that they are indeed good SF/F stories, and can reject a limited number of them; and the pool of eligible voters is based on a web of trust starting with the signers of the proposal. All voting and nominating is done automatically, on the Web.

I’ve tried and failed to come up with a unique name for the awards. My first choice was the Heinleins, after the greatest storyteller in SF, but that was taken. Next, I thought I’d use the name of one of Heinlein’s characters who was a great storyteller, Noisy Rhysling, but that was taken as well. Rather than thrash around the question, I decided to punt and let others suggest names.

The actual proposal-cum-manifesto is after the jump.

The (insert name here) Awards

We the undersigned believe that those who recognize achievement in science fiction and fantasy (SF/F) have lost sight of the core question to be answered when evaluating a work in the genre: “Does it tell a good story?”

Therefore, we propose a new series of awards, to be named The (insert name here) Awards for Storytelling in Science Fiction and Fantasy, or the (insert name here) Awards for short.

The (insert name here) Awards will be granted as determined by SF/F fandom as a whole through a nomination, qualification, and election process managed initially by a committee of volunteers from across fandom. A Foundation shall be established and obtain recognition from the US Internal Revenue Service as a nonprofit corporation under the provisions of section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and the Foundation’s Board of Directors shall assume management of the Awards once it has done so.

The criterion for selection is simple: Does the work in question tell a good SF/F story? This is the focus of the (insert name here) Awards, and voters are encouraged to consider works exclusively on that basis. The Judging Committee will use the quality of SF/F storytelling as their sole criterion. Other awards exist to honor works for other qualities.

The Mechanics

John DeNardo's 2015 books-smallAll works of SF/F that meet the definition of the category and were first published in the preceding calendar year are eligible. For the purposes of this provision, “first published” means first made available for public consumption, with or without charge, through any medium including bookstores, broadcast media, Internet sites, or any other means of distribution. Self-published works that sell less than 1000 copies and are subsequently published by a commercial publisher are eligible for consideration as though they had not previously been published. The Foundation’s Board of Directors may grant and publicize exceptions to these criteria in extraordinary circumstances.

The following categories are defined:

Best Novel – Written SF/F stories of 50,000 words or more in length.
Best Novella – Written SF/F stories between 5,000 and 50,000 words in length.
Best Short Story – Written SF/F stories 5,000 words in length or shorter.
Best Young Adult Story – Written SF/F stories of any length intended to be accessible to and enjoyed by SF/F fans under 18 years of age.
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form – Any SF/F story intended to be performed for an audience of over 90 minutes in length.
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form – Any SF/F story intended to be performed for an audience in 90 minutes or less.
Best Graphic Story – Works of graphic art, with or without accompanying text, that tell an SF/F story.
Best Related Work – Any nonfiction or fiction work that is not itself a work of SF/F storytelling, but serves to advance the SF/F storyteller’s art.

To minimize voter confusion, the nominating and voting processes are intended to track as closely as possible those defined by the World Science Fiction Society for the Hugo Awards, as modified by the proposals adopted at the Business Meeting at Sasquan in 2015.

Works are nominated by ballots collected from eligible voters. Each voter may submit one ballot with up to four nominees in each category. A total of six nominees will be chosen by a process formally known as Single Divisible Vote and informally as the E Pluribus Hugo proposal. Briefly, each ballot counts as one vote in each category, divided equally among all of the nominations for that category still in consideration. At each stage, the point totals are summed, the two candidates with the lowest point totals are taken, and the one with the fewest number of first-place choices is eliminated. Ballots voting for the eliminated candidate are reevaluated as though that candidate had never been nominated, and the tally begins again. This process is repeated until six candidates remain, at which time those six become the nominees.

The nominees are then considered by the Judging Committee. The judges shall evaluate each work solely by its storytelling. The judges may disqualify any work they find to have an emphasis on other than telling a good SF/F story. They may disqualify no more than three nominees in any category. The disqualified nominees will be replaced by reprocessing the nominating ballots from the beginning as though those nominees had never been submitted; the judges may not disqualify the replacement nominees. This power is expected to be used very sparingly, as the awards are intended to reflect the choices of fandom at large.

Once the nominees are selected and judged, they will be voted on by the Single Transferable Vote method (also known as the Australian Ballot). Unlike the Hugo Awards, there is no provision for No Award. The winners will be given their awards at a public ceremony.

After the ceremony, all ballots, both nominating and voting, shall be made readily available in a form that permits automated processing to check and analyze the results. Any personally identifying information shall first be removed.

Eligible Voters

Open books-smallTo become an eligible voter for the (insert name here) Awards, a person must be vouched for by one or more existing eligible voters. This is defined as having a trust level of 1 or greater. When first registering to vote, a person’s trust level is 0. An existing eligible voter whose trust level is 3 or greater may raise or lower the trust level of up to three other people by 1 each, and this number rises by 1 with each additional trust level until a maximum of a trust level of 10 is reached. The undersigned, as well as prior recipients of a (insert name here) Award and current and past members of the Foundation Board of Directors and Judging Committee, may raise or lower the trust level of any person by 1. A voter may not raise the trust level of anyone who raised his own, nor of anyone in the chain of trust leading back to those holding unlimited trusting privileges.

[Added 2015-09-13 09:40 CDT:] This trust metric is intended solely to ensure that those voting for the Awards are who they say they are, and that each person only casts one vote. Any person is welcome to nominate and vote, regardless of any political beliefs they may hold. [/addition]

All registration and trust level processing shall be done automatically by the (insert name here) Award website. All records of trust levels being raised or lowered shall be retained for a period to be determined by the Foundation Board of Directors; this period is intended to be limited only by practical methods of data storage.

The Judging Committee

The Judging Committee shall consist of no more than five members. They shall be chosen by the Foundation Board of Directors, and selected for their knowledge of the fields of science fiction and fantasy and their commitment to uphold the ideals of the (insert name here) Awards. They may serve as long as they and the Foundation Board of Directors wish.

The Foundation Board of Directors

The Foundation shall have a Board of Directors of at least the minimum number required by the laws of the state of incorporation for a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation. Any officers as may be required by law shall be chosen by the Board annually from within its membership. The initial Directors shall be elected by the undersigned. After the Foundation has been in existence for three years, Directors shall be elected, one third of the Board’s membership every year, to serve three-year terms by those eligible to vote for the (insert name here) Awards.

The Rationale

The rationale for the (insert name here) Awards is simple. Over time, the Hugo voters have considered other factors than the most fundamental when evaluating a work. They have chosen works based on their political emphasis, or the race or nationality of the author, or other criteria aside from that which defines SF/F. Attempts to turn the Hugo Awards back to the foundations of SF/F have been met with derision and outright hatred. Despite their previous claims to the contrary, the Hugo Awards voters and others now say that the Hugos represent the World Science Fiction Society’s choices, not those of fandom at large.

The (insert name here) Awards are intended to redress this situation, and give all of fandom a means of influencing an award that represents them. Those arguing that the Hugo Awards rightly belong to the membership of the WSFS have said that those who believe that there should be awards truly representing all of fandom should start their own awards program. We the undersigned choose to take up this challenge. (to be rewritten)

Jay Maynard rose to Internet fame in 2004 for daring to show how he made a skin-tight Masquerade costume inspired by the movie TRON, but he’s been an SF fan for much longer than that. He works as a software developer, and lives in Fairmont, Minnesota with a roommate and upwards of 70 computers (they’ve both lost count).


  1. Have to digest things a bit more, but one quick comment. I like the reduction in short fiction categories, but I believe the borderline between Short Story and Novella is better set at 10,000 words. (Heartily agree with the extension of the upper limit on novella to 50,000.)

    Comment by Rich Horton - September 10, 2015 4:25 pm

  2. How about the Cliffords, after Clifford Simak. I’ve always thought that his opening to City is one of the all-time great beginnings to any book, SF or not, and is itself a tribute to the magic of storytelling:

    These are the stories that the Dogs tell when the fires burn high and the wind is from the north. Then each family circle gathers at the hearthstone and the pups sit silently and listen and when the story’s done they ask many questions:

    “What is Man?” they’ll ask.

    Or perhaps: “What is a city?”

    Or: “What is a war?”

    Comment by Thomas Parker - September 10, 2015 6:43 pm

  3. Or is it already taken?

    Comment by Thomas Parker - September 10, 2015 6:43 pm

  4. Reading this I’m reminded of a friend of mine with whom I used to play D&D. Once, when pressed for a name for his latest character he said: “My name is Ereh Enam Tresni the Third, but you may call me Tresni.” We could call the award the Tresni!

    On a serious note, if the award is intended to better represent fandom at large, why beat around the bush? Why not just call it the Fandom Award?

    Comment by NHBradson - September 10, 2015 6:58 pm

  5. There were several things I did not like about the Hugos. I initially got into the voting to promote the writers that I liked. What happened was that the writer’s reputations were tarnished by who voted for them. The voting process also put fans at odds with each other and put people into political camps. It was ridiculous. The worst part was the award ceremony itself with all the “losers” getting hammered. I didn’t feel the love of all of fandom and I didn’t appreciate the poor “winners”.

    I like the way record companies show awards in popularity–ie, gold, platinum, double platinum etc. I think that should be the way to go. Any system can be gamed but if we did it this way all the voting fans would see their candidate rewarded and there would not be losers, only degrees of honors for the winners. This is how I think it should be done:

    1. The cost to vote should be as expensive as a cup of coffee–ie $3-$5 max.
    2. The level of the award, ie bronze, silver, gold, platinum, double platinum etc. should be based on the percentage of votes earned. That way every vote counts. I might have rolled my eyes at “If You Were A Dinosaur My Love” but that hated piece had a lot of fans backing it. They were the same group that hated Howard’s “Hour of the Dragon” probably, but hey, we are all fans and we might disagree about what is good but something that resonates with fandom should not be considered junk. I think close battles should feel like a close contest and those that fly head and shoulders above the rest should show distinction.
    3. I’d like to see sci-fi and fantasy split in awards and I like the break down that Jay presents. I’d add on the award of Best Magazine because these periodicals deserve a place too and they work hard to deliver new writers and good work. They are important to fans.
    4. There needs to be a way to verify voters but I’d rather open the door wide than to make it an elite group of gatekeepers. I think fans who vote have a stake in what they promote. That’s just me.

    I’d also like to see Lin Carter’s idea of the Gandalf brought back. This was for sword an sorcery and I think it is long overdue. I wouldn’t know the first step in how to do that.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 10, 2015 8:20 pm

  6. Also, if you want to know where fandom really is google images of Worldcon 2015 and compare it with Dragoncon 2015. Dragoncon is small as cons go but it has seven times the numbers of Worldcon and 1000 times the energy. Look at the crowds and compare.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 10, 2015 8:43 pm

  7. The one author I loved reading more than any other when I was in my teens was Andre Norton. Name the award after her, and call them “Nortons” for the short term. She’s always been a good storyteller, and she’s written both SF and fantasy. And how many major awards have been named after women?

    Comment by smitty59 - September 10, 2015 9:18 pm

  8. That one’s already taken, smitty59. It’s the SFWA award for young adult fiction.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 10, 2015 9:19 pm

  9. Rich, the boundaries are very much arbitrarily defined, and open to discussion. So is the whole proposal, actually.

    WA: The gold/platinum/… are awarded to records strictly on the basis of how much they sell.
    I envision the cost to vote to be $0. We should not exclude anyone because they are unable to pay. Since the Foundation will be a 501(c)(3) corporation, tax-deductible donations would take care of the expenses, I believe.
    The reason that the Hugos are explicitly SF and fantasy is simple: where do you draw the line? That’s one can of worms I’m not at all sure is worth opening.
    The whole idea behind the web of trust is that it represents a way to verify voters without gatekeepers. Yeah, booting it up is the hard part, but not insurmountable.

    Part of me wants to name it after Terry Pratchett and have the award be a silver asterisk on a nice mahogany base or some such, just to throw the asterisks back in David Gerrold’s face, but not only do I not know how Sir Terry would take it, the name would get people away from thinking about SF as well. I also want this to not be a Puppy thing, and that would detract from that.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 10, 2015 9:43 pm

  10. Call it “No Award”. I think that would be funny, and everything you [i]awards[/i] crazy people deserve.

    Comment by CMR - September 10, 2015 9:54 pm

  11. Thanks, Jay. As soon as I posted that, I had a gut feeling I’d be called out on that one. I did like Tom Parker’s Simak recommendation. After Norton, Simak was a favorite of mine, too.

    Comment by smitty59 - September 10, 2015 10:17 pm

  12. @smitty59—good to see you again smitty. Andre Norton remains one of my favorites too. I like it that she was one of the first women to be “passing” in a male dominated genre at the time.

    @Jay—sigh, yeah, I know it is based on record sales. That wasn’t what I was saying. I’m saying it might be good to get an award level based on percentage of votes. Anyway, I’m glad that someone is thinking about a real fan based award.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 10, 2015 10:33 pm

  13. Good to see you here too, Ape. I’ve actually been keeping up pretty steadily with things here, but I’ve been WAY too busy with getting back into teaching, settling mom’s estate, and loads of other personal stuff, and just haven’t had the energy to make comments. I DID want to tell you I agreed with a comment you made about the internet ‘way back. Your comment up above gave me an idea: Suppose this new award was named after the creator of Conan and Kull and Solomon Kane; then we’d have Hugos and Howards……

    Comment by smitty59 - September 10, 2015 10:43 pm

  14. I would be 100% for a Howard award. I sure have missed you posting. I hope you’ve seen Howard Andrew Jones blog reviewing the REH stories. I haven’t posted there but the posts have been great.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 10, 2015 11:12 pm

  15. Yes I have, and they ARE excellent.

    Comment by smitty59 - September 10, 2015 11:26 pm

  16. I’m missing a category for Best Series. As Eric Flint mentioned, this is how most people read SFF nowadays.

    I’m also very confused by this idea of trust levels. All voters are equal, but some are more equal?

    Comment by Hampus - September 11, 2015 12:57 am

  17. And a category for lifetime achievment or something like that would be nice. Some authors are unlucky in that they put out many very, very good books but each year is narrowly defeated by someone that is just slightly better – that year.

    This gives them something.

    Comment by Hampus - September 11, 2015 1:04 am

  18. Hampus, the only difference between trust levels is that a minimum trust level of 3 is required to add someone else to the web of trust, and the more trusted you are, the more you can say others are trusted. Everyone gets exactly one nominating ballot and exactly one vote per category at voting time.

    I’ve got no problem with either a Best Series or lifetime achievement award, though I do wonder how you define a series and when it becomes eligible for the award.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 11, 2015 3:21 am

  19. George R. R. Martin commented on this proposal over at his LiveJournal. As he asked, I’ll answer his criticisms here…

    It would have been nice if you could have just proposed your new award without feeling the need to take shots at the Hugo, but I suppose that was unavoidable.

    I tried to keep it down to a minimum, but the question “So why do you need another award? Why isn’t the Hugo good enough” needs answering. This is a manifesto, after all.

    The whole “Trust” system of voters needed other voters to vouch for them before they can cast a ballot seems cumbersome to me.

    Some mechanism to both validate voters and give them an entrance into voting without charging them $50 a year is needed. Since the award represents all of fandom, not just the members of one con, the old mechanism wouldn’t work. The gritty details will be handled by the website. All each person does is register, get someone else who’s already been vouched for to vouch for them, and then optionally get vouched for enough they can do the same for others.

    The goal is to get people in and prevent ballot-box stuffing and fraud. Other systems that do the same are certainly welcome for discussion.

    And the “Judging Committee” with the power to throw nominees off the ballot… boy, you’re asking for a firestorm there. The first time your voters nominate a book, and your judges throw it out, your new award is going to have its own Puppygate civil war.

    This goes hand in hand with the elimination of NO AWARD. Some mechanism is needed to keep these awards from being turned into just another set of awards for politically correct message fiction instead of good SF/F stories. I’m quite aware that the use of this power will cause controversy. This hinges on the judges themselves and their commitment to the awards. Selecting judges who will only act when it will be widely seen as necessary is the key here.

    Oh, a name… you seemed to want a Heinlein name, since you proposed the Heinleins and the Rhysling, only to rule them out because both were taken. How about the Jubals, then? Jubal Harshaw of STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND was, you recall, a writer. Might be the perfect model.

    I seem to recall Harshaw as more of a lawyer than a writer, but then I haven’t read Stranger in a few years. What are others’ thoughts?

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 11, 2015 3:32 am

  20. Oh…I need to credit Campbell nominee and open source software guru Eric S. Raymond for the whole web of trust idea.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 11, 2015 3:34 am

  21. Hi Jay!

    Yep, the definition of Best Series is a hard one. There has been a proposal for the Hugos on how to define it, that could be a starting point.

    Something according to the following steps perhaps?

    1) A minimum wordcount in total over several books.
    2) Marketed as a series of several books.
    3) Not eligible again for nomination after winning until the minimum wordcount again has been repeated.

    It is hard for a book in a series to win otherwise, as people usually won’t vote for later parts of a series, unless the first part won. This puts authors that writes mostly for series at a disadvantage.

    Regarding naming… you don’t have to name something after an author. Why not after a work? “The Summer Door” for Heinlein. Or from something in a work? “The Sandworm” from Dune. Or just something sounding SFF-like. “The Moon-award” has both space for SF and supernatural ties to Fantasy.

    Comment by Hampus - September 11, 2015 3:37 am

  22. Another way would be to specifically name the award after the kind of stories you want to reward. Military SF? The Trooper. And so on.

    And just to throw in a total other idea, to separate yourself from The Hugos and Nebulas, but still keep everything interesting? Total different categories:

    * Best YA.
    * Best Military SF.
    * Best Translated Work.
    * Best Fantasy.
    * Best Series.

    Don’t be a copy, take your own space and define it. Think of what you want to reward and how you already by defining categories can reward those that today might be lost out.

    Comment by Hampus - September 11, 2015 3:49 am

  23. Oh…WA and smitty, the name “Howards” is taken, by the World Fantasy Awards.

    At this point, I should bring up Harris’s Lament: “All the good ones are taken!” This originally referred to domain names, but seems apropos here.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 11, 2015 3:49 am

  24. Reading through the comments on GRRM’s posting, one more springs to mind:

    While Libertycon might be a good venue for the presentation, I’m not sure they’d be interested in the long term: they explicitly want to keep the con small and with an atmosphere of being family, and having what I hope will be a major fandom awards presentation there would conflict with that.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 11, 2015 4:04 am

  25. A twist on the trust idea. On a website I’m a member on, we have something called “verification”. To verify someone means that you have said that you have met the person in real life. You can then verify each other.

    An idea here would be that no one can vote if they haven’t been verified by at least three persons as an example. This is if you would want to have some kind of limit of participants to those that are an active part of IRL fandom.

    Comment by Hampus - September 11, 2015 4:36 am

  26. As devil’s advocate: Would the judges also act to throw off religious proselytizing disguised as SF/F, as that is also “message fiction”?

    Comment by stevenpoore - September 11, 2015 5:18 am

  27. Steven: Depends. Does it tell a good SF/F story? If not, out it goes, regardless of the message it pushes.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 11, 2015 7:39 am

  28. How about the Lin Carter? Carter was a big proponent of story and revived several giants that were sneered at as pulp in his time. He would be a Sad Puppy. All the good he did I don’t think ever got any sort of recognition or respect and certainly not an award.

    “It would have been nice if you could have just proposed your new award without feeling the need to take shots at the Hugo, but I suppose that was unavoidable.”

    I think GRRM makes a few good points about the judging committee and the verification process. You’ll have trouble when you negate something. Also, why leave it to a few “experts” on what is good fiction? We can see within there are wide differences even in the Sad/Rabid and Anti-Puppy groups. And stevenpoore makes a good point about what qualifies as message fiction. Hell, most of Heinlein’s books would be message fiction. I don’t think it can be done. It would be like removing theme from a story, what would you have then?

    As for GRRMs remark about the Hugos getting shots, man that really irks me. What shots? If there is an award that deserves criticism it is the Hugo. What a fraud! I’m hoping it will stay on though so I can identify which books to avoid like a warning label. Maybe that will make him happy.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 11, 2015 8:23 am

  29. Hi Jay

    So I’ve been reading the positive trust mechanic.

    I kinda get what you are going for here, even if I don’t agree with it.

    The negative trust mechanic, though. I can foresee all sorts of problems with this. Are there any sorts of grounds or basis or justification needed?

    John C Wright, with a score of 3, decides that me, his friend, should be able to vote in this awards, and gives me a 1 to do so.

    Tom Kratman with a score of 4, sees this. “The heck with that, Paul Weimer is on the Skiffy and Fanty show, they made fun of me” and uses his downvote to knock me back to zero.

    Suddenly, I’m no longer qualified to vote, right?

    The politics of who is and who isn’t qualified to vote suddenly becomes really personal. And starting with a limited base, as you are, I’m curious how you are going to address the social problems this is going to cause.

    Comment by Princejvstin - September 11, 2015 8:36 am

  30. Wild Ape,

    By “he would be a Sad Puppy”, I guess you mean he would have been a Sad Puppy candidate? Because there are several people who haven’t won Hugos and still aren’t Sad Puppies. I see no reason why a dead author should be conscripted to a cause that didn’t even exist when he died.

    Otherwise, I think you have many point regarding message fiction, verification and so on. I think the best starting point is to try to get voters from likeminded. A bit like electing a new people.

    Oh, and yes. Name it so the name will hint att who should get it. The Adventurer? The Pulpist? Add categories so it becomes even more clear, like best tie-in.

    Don’t use “dramatic presentation”, it sounds like a poet reciting purple prose. Use “Best Movie” and “Best TV-Episode” instead.

    Anything to draw the crowd you want for the award.

    Comment by Hampus - September 11, 2015 8:45 am

  31. Jubal Harshaw?! Oh my God. The character was emblematic of everything wrong in the latter Heinlein. If you have to have a Heinlein reference, how about Lorenzo Smythe from Double Star – one of the few RAH characters who actually seems open to the ideas (even the existence) of others.

    Or just cut to the chase and call it the Black Hole.

    Comment by Thomas Parker - September 11, 2015 9:18 am

  32. Princejvstin, remember that each person has a very limited number of votes total, and a downvote counts as one vote used. I expect that downvotes will be very scarce, and used only when a voter is known to be fraudulent.

    Your recourse is to get someone else to upvote you, and the one who downvoted you cannot do so again, so you’re good.

    WA: The difference is simple: does it tell a good SF/F story? The example that I was thinking of in the shower was Ringo and Kratman’s The Tuloriad. There’s a pretty strong message there, to the point that it stuck in my craw as an atheist: If you’re going to have a religious war, bring a religion. What I remember of it is that it’s explicitly Christian, and that grates on me. Kratman swears up and down it’s not. One of these days, I’ll pull it out of the pile it’s in and reread it.

    But even then, a case can be made that the message serves the story, not the other way around. There’s plenty of room for disagreement there, and someone who felt that the story was there to serve the message would be justified in saying that the book would not qualify for this award.

    OTOH, I can’t think of a single Heinlein work where the story serves the message instead of the reverse.

    Thomas, just what do you object to in later Heinlein? I think it shows him as a dirty old man, but that’s about all; his storytelling was as strong as ever up to the end. Then again, if you think this is all about Puppies not being open to the ideas of others, you fundamentally miss the entire point.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 11, 2015 9:51 am

  33. Interesting ideas! I suspect trust, as presented, would either be too easy (e.g. a reddit thread started to hand out extra trust votes) or too difficult (e.g. only readers of Black Gate are able to find someone to confer trust) to get. It’s hard to prevent ballot stuffing through any internet method. And any complicated method is sure to exclude some folks who you want voting. Maybe just requiring votes to be submitted via text message from a unique phone number?

    How are you defining a “good SF/F story”? Should the narrative be able to be easily summarized? Must it be exciting or can it be merely interesting? What about complex narrative devices like parallel, fragmented, reversed, unreliable and/or dreamlike/hallucinogenic narratives? What about magical realism? All excluded?

    Comment by Matt W - September 11, 2015 9:56 am

  34. Jay, I don’t want to divert this thread from your awards proposal, but for this reader, there was a marked degeneration in the later Heinlein, precisely in storytelling. He was always opinionated and could be preachy, but in the books of the 40’s and 50’s – the juveniles, Double Star, the Door Into Summer, The Puppet Masters – the storytelling impetus rarely flagged. I don’t think that’s true of the latter stuff, where hectoring and preaching replaced arguing and persuading, and where nothing really happened for page after endless page. Your mileage may vary, of course (and there were books that were better than others – The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, for example.) We now return you to your regularly scheduled awards debate…(which I think is a good idea, however the mechanics of it could be worked out.)

    Comment by Thomas Parker - September 11, 2015 10:31 am

  35. I’m concerned that the trust level system will keep people from voting, rather than encourage voting. It makes voting into a club where you can only get in if you already know someone who is on the inside.

    How will people like me, who have a deep love of sf and fantasy and want to participate, but rarely post on message boards or news sites, get someone to vouch for me? I recognize user names of prolific posters here, but I doubt anyone knows who I am based on my 2 or 3 posts over the last year. Prior to that, I don’t think I ever posted, even though I’ve been a Black Gate reader for years. I don’t want to have to beg someone to vouch for me. That’s enough for me to skip voting altogether, and ultimately ignore the awards.

    Limiting the voting pool to a select circle of voters does exactly the opposite of what you want-an award voted on by the fans of the kind of sf/fantasy you want to recognize. You say “The (insert name here) Awards will be granted as determined by SF/F fandom as a whole”, yet it’s not fandom as a whole, it’s fandom as long as you know somebody on the inside.

    Aside from that, I’d be happy to see an award that recognizes a different aspect of sf and fantasy. It can only bring good works to the attention of people who might otherwise miss them.

    Comment by rjmiller - September 11, 2015 11:43 am

  36. I suggest you consider naming this the Jim Baen Memorial F&SF (1) Award.

    1: Or alternatively SF&F. Which is F&SF or SF&F is correct?

    Comment by James Davis Nicoll - September 11, 2015 12:45 pm

  37. rjmiller, your concern is quite valid, and indeed was my primary concern as I was discussing the system with Eric. The solution is to make the initial group who can trust people as broad as possible consistent with actually being trustworthy, and to make sure there are plenty of opportunities for people to have opportunities for being trusted. But yes, the problem of booting the trust web is real and needs attention paid to it.

    James, that name is taken, by an award co-sponsored by Baen Books and the National Space Society.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 11, 2015 12:47 pm

  38. Jay, I see a couple possible failure conditions for the web of trust, and wonder if you have thoughts about managing them.

    #1. Someone trusted bestows trust on others willy-nilly – say, everyone reading his blog, or everyone who comes to a reading of his. This brings in some folks in sync with the spirit of things, but others who really aren’t. It’s Usenet on a bad day all over again. At that point, what could people interested in maintaining a desired ambience do about it?

    #2. Someone trust undergoes a religious conversion or other drastic change of worldview is now not merely out of step but actively hostile to the intent of the awards. They go around bestowing trust on other people who share their active hostile. Same question – at that point, what could others do about it?

    It seems to me like you’ve got a well-enough established audience to make this work if the details can hang together, and I’d like it to.

    Comment by Bruce B. - September 11, 2015 12:53 pm

  39. Bruce, both of these issues are limited in their impact by the tight limits on how many others they can trust. When you have only between three and ten trust votes to cast, period, you can’t trust very many willy-nilly, and those can’t gain enough trust to spread the damage without assistance (since you can only vote on one other person once).

    If somehow it got a foothold, though, then the people in question could be downvoted by others.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 11, 2015 12:59 pm

  40. Fair enough! Like I said, I want your proposal to work, and hope to be constructive in commentary.

    Comment by Bruce B. - September 11, 2015 1:13 pm

  41. You have a problem. If everyone with three points hands out their three points to get other people included, then you can just about expand indefinitely. If any significant percentage don’t hand out any points, then you need your bootstrap process (signatories, award winners, directors) to continually verify more and more people.

    You need the web to be self-sustaining, which means that people have to have more points to give out than they get in – and you’ll need to guess how many more by guessing what percentage of the points will actually be given out.

    Comment by po8crg - September 11, 2015 1:19 pm

  42. What’s the initial pool for people giving eligibility?

    I like the idea of calling it the Storyteller Award– I think that’s the best value the puppies support.

    *Not* named after Jubal Harshaw– he was a hack (Heinlein wasn’t) and suicidally depressed.

    Comment by NancyLebovitz - September 11, 2015 1:19 pm

  43. Kudos for taking the plunge to set this up, Jay.

    Name suggestions:
    The La Paz (after Moon is a Harsh Mistress)
    The Kip Russell (Have Space Suit, natch)
    The Lexington (first naval ship Heinlein served on)
    The Rasczak (Starship Troopers lieutenant. Note: difficult to spell, but prob. hasn’t been used yet.)
    The Rico (main character, Starship Troopers)
    The Lazarus (shows up a lot.)

    Second the comment about adjusting the word count up for Short Story to 10K and that the trust system may be cumbersome on the administrators, but best of luck to you!

    Comment by gregm52246 - September 11, 2015 1:19 pm

  44. If, say 100 people are given 3 trust to start with, that creates a pool of 300 trust that can be bestowed on others. 300 trust is, at best, enough to add 300 more trust points to the pool (either by adding 100 new people with 3 trust points to the web or by adding extra trust points to the 100 people already in the web or some combination.) 300 is the maximum number of trust points that can be added given an initial allocation of 300 points, but those points are more likely to be spread among more people. Worst case would be if each of the initial group of 100 each gave a point to 3 different people, in which case you’d now have 400 people in the web, but no additional trust points to confer. Since the pool of available points can, at best, only give rise to an additional number of points equal to the pool itself and would likely produce less, you have a situation with diminishing returns, and I think you’d be lucky to end up with a pool of more than 1000 people (10x the original number) ultimately. (I’m tempted to program a simulation for fun.)

    It’s true that the unlimited trusting ability of Foundation Board and Judging Committee members and prior award winners would help this tendency, it wouldn’t completely eliminate it (particularly since they can give negative trust), and it would give them perhaps inordinate influence on the process.

    Comment by Matt W - September 11, 2015 1:37 pm

  45. I like SF in the tradition of John Campbell and Hugo Gernsback, so I’d like to call SF awards the Hugo and the Campbell.

    Comment by bruce99999999 - September 11, 2015 1:54 pm

  46. I’m excited about this award proposal, and I would love to see it work. Let a thousand flowers bloom.

    Two of Hampus’s suggestions seem to me especially worth considering. His proposal to have two awards in each category — one for science fiction and one for fantasy — would address a complaint I’d been hearing about the Hugos steadily, starting many years before the current controversy. Many people who’ve been following the genres for decades feel that fantasy has been taking over awards, slots in publishers’ line-ups, and bookstore space that used to belong to SF. I don’t think writers or fans want there to be a zero-sum game conflict between the two genres when most of us appreciate both. Is there another award that’s designed to give both SF and F equal honor? If not, that could be another unique draw for fans.

    Hampus’s word-count based criteria for figuring out when a series is eligible, and when it can become eligible again if it continues in excellence, seemed like a fair and easy to apply rubric.

    I rather like the Cliffords, in part because in addition to honoring Simak, it evokes that children’s book fantasy character, Clifford the Big Red Dog. For some time I’ve thought that it would be easier for people not already in sympathy with the Sad Puppies to hear what the Puppies have to say if it were clear that there really was some way to make them Happy Puppies that didn’t involve total submission. The Puppies are, of course, a large group of individuals with variations of opinion, so some might be impossible to please under any circumstances, while others really want to see a practical solution work. It might be too inflammatory to make your award evoke a big red dog — one who’s trademarked, no less — but I’m kind of enjoying the idea right now.

    Best of luck!

    Comment by Sarah Avery - September 11, 2015 2:09 pm

  47. Matt W is correct. I believe that our comments both basically say the same thing.

    Comment by po8crg - September 11, 2015 2:39 pm

  48. The series awards seem reasonable, and an idea that’s probably worth doing. How about a minimum of three novels, with a total word count of at least 500K? That would space things out for all but stuff like the 1632 series (which is up to the million-word-a-year mark, easily, and climbing…makes it damned hard to keep up with!). Like the short story/novella boundary, those numbers are very much open for discussion.

    Having different categories from the Hugos is a good thing in one respect, that of novelty; in another, though, it doesn’t do the fundamental job of recognizing works that the Hugos overlook for reasons other than quality. That said, I’m open to another set of categories that would recognize a wide range of stories.

    I’m not as sure about having separate awards for SF and fantasy, because of the problem of where the boundary gets defined. Some things are obvious – Pern is fantasy, Ringworld is SF (even if it is unstable) – but, for example, where would you put technology-of-magic stories like Rick Cook’s Wizardry series? That’s the only real objection I have, and that’s why I thought the Hugos were inclusive of both.

    The web-of-trust bootup issue is a good one. Matt’s correct about the limited pool of trust available from only those with fixed trust amounts to hand out. That’s why there are folks with unlimited trusting abilities. I envision booths at cons and the like where anyone can walk up, show some form of ID, and register, manned by folks with unlimited privileges. The same can be done for bookstores, other gatherings… and a mechanism for folks who can’t get to something like that in person can be worked out. This is not a new problem.

    And to answer one objection: This is not intended to be a gatekeeper of anything but verifying that someone signing up is a real person who has not signed up before. I have named nobody as having unlimited trusting privileges yet, and will not do so until much later in he process – and I explicitly invite anti-Puppies as well as Puppies and those who support neither side to participate, so everyone who’s a real person and wishes to can become trusted.

    The Judging Committee is there to ensure that the nominations are not stuffed by folks wishing to crowd out the works that tell good stories with politically correct message fiction. I expect they will err on the side of letting things through, and only disqualify a work if it’s obvious that the message is all there is.

    (Aside: I hate discussing stuff like this on Twitter. It’s impossible to keep an orderly thread of conversation, and I think in a lot more than 140 characters at a time.)

    Folks, this is nothing more than an initial proposal for discussion. Anything that achieves the goals of allowing anyone who wishes to to vote for zero cost (or nearly so, certainly much less than the $50 Hugo entrance fee) for works selected purely for their storytelling quality regardless of any other criterion and have the recognition represent all of fandom, Puppy and non-Puppy alike, will work for what I envision.

    I fear the Hugos have already been permanently destroyed for this purpose, between the hated Vox Day and the No Puppy slate voting and raucous cheering and Vonnegut Memorial Asterisks. They cannot be salvaged without the kind of overture the anti-Puppies seem to be incapable of making.

    And no, I am not a Puppy officially myself. I’ve met some of the leaders (the one who sticks out most in my mind is Sarah Hoyt), and some of the vocal writer supporters (though the only one I can claim as more than having met once or twice is Mad Mike Williamson, who I’m happy to consider a good friend – he tuned up my errant AR-15, for one thing). This proposal has not been authorized, or edited, or even commented on as far as I know by any Puppy leader, past or present. This is my own work, with, as noted above, the help of Eric Raymond.

    This proposal is not a Puppy proposal. I hope it can go beyond they Puppy wars entirely. What’s wrong with recognizing a good story?

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 11, 2015 3:26 pm

  49. Regarding separate awards for SF/F, since you’ve already got a judging committee “elected for their knowledge of the fields of science fiction and fantasy,” why not have them decide which category a book goes in, in the cases where it’s not obvious?

    I very much doubt that there will be many books per year that are both ambiguous (in terms of which genre they belong to), AND get enough nominations to be able to make it past the nomination stage. So the workload of deciding which novel goes in which category shouldn’t be too much.

    In the Hugos, if someone nominates for a story in the wrong category (for instance, nominating a short story in the novelette category), their vote is moved to the correct category. You could so something similar with twinned fantasy and SF awards, so that if someone nominates a novel in the “fantasy” category that the judges decide is “science fiction,” that person’s vote wouldn’t be wasted.

    I’m what you’d call an anti-puppy (I call myself anti-slate), but I wish you the best of luck with these awards. There are a LOT of writers working hard at their craft; nothing wrong with creating another award to recognize them.

    Comment by barrydeutsch - September 11, 2015 3:39 pm

  50. Few things:

    1) Worldcon is not Dragoncon, it’s not trying to be Dragoncon. The size difference is a feature not a bug, at least as far as I’m concerned. Imagine, though, if you will, the Worldcon in 1986 had decided they liked the host city and people who’d had fun decided that they’d like to do the same every year… Go, on I’ll let you imagine that and then go and Google Worldcon 44 and Dragoncon #1….

    2) The trust thing sounds as bad as the TAFF/GUFF/DUFF rules…

    3) Good luck. The more the merrier

    But I think it misses the reason why the Hugo Awards have prestige and why this mess existed. They have prestige because they’ve been around a long time and mostly have worked and people haven’t screwed around with them.

    Comment by daveon - September 11, 2015 3:51 pm

  51. Asimov’s first Foundation novel had a little under 80,000 words, and on average each Foundation book had about 150,000 words.

    Unless you want to exclude epics like Foundation, I think it makes more sense to focus on number of novels rather than word count.

    My suggestion is to require at least three novels in a series to qualify as “best epic,” and to use the same word count requirement that the “best novel” category uses to determine what qualifies as a novel.

    Comment by barrydeutsch - September 11, 2015 3:55 pm

  52. I don’t have a dog in the Hugos fight. I’ll confess to being made quite enthusiastic at one point over the noises I’d heard concerning a return to story-telling and space princesses, but my enthusiasm diminished in the face of the vile rhetoric and divisiveness I encountered amongst proponents.

    It’s a shame, because I do really feel that the kinds of things I like to read (and write!) have a hard time getting published and awarded, though to me it seems more a matter of taste or intended audience than political leaning. I applaud the effort to do something constructive rather than destructive! Then again, I have to say that I’d never in a million years submit to a system where I have to depend on insiders to raise my trust level, or where a small group of people has such unchecked authority (however much they’re expected to not use it). Call me proud if you like, but I live in a small town in Texas where I have to deal with that every day as it is!

    The real reason I’m posting, though, is that, being a math professor and master logician, I’m intrigued by the trust network. I wonder if you’re basing it on something currently in operation? I’m no expert, but I suspect that it has the potential to get extremely complex. Because of your restrictions on level-raising, you’re keeping track, not just of trust levels, but of trust chains. The network of trust chains is what’s called an acyclic directed graph, with some additional structure (the trust level associated to each vertex) and, of course, a tendency to evolve over time. Seems rife with opportunities for unintended consequences. (Although, as a software developer, maybe you know more about all that than I do.)

    Comment by Raphael - September 11, 2015 4:14 pm

  53. The higher the barrier to voting, the more voters will decide not to bother. (This is the problem with charging $50 to vote). But the lower the barrier to entry, the more tempting it will be for people to stuff the ballots (which is the problem with not charging $50).

    My suggestion for determining an eligible voter, is that you allow anyone to vote if they email a clear photo or scan of some form of ID, broadly defined (drivers license, military ID, student ID, birth certificate, passport, utility bill, Hugo award inscribed with their name, whatever).

    This is in addition to, not instead of, giving people voting rights if they show ID at a table at a convention.

    This isn’t perfect – some people may not have ANY form of ID, while others could use fake IDs and stuff ballots.

    But no system is perfect. This would allow the large majority of interested people to vote, while requiring at least a little time and effort (to create multiple fake IDs) for anyone wishing to stuff the ballot.

    Comment by barrydeutsch - September 11, 2015 4:34 pm

  54. Too many awards are all named. It’s a nice idea, but you’d have to dig deep into the scifi luminary bench.

    What about a different approach altogether?

    Astounding, the Award for Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Storytelling.

    It’s taken from the periodical, Astounding Science Fiction, which gave Heinlein and Asimov their platforms.

    If you want to get cutesy then the statues can be called the Astoundies. Which would be silly, but not any sillier than other award statue names.

    Comment by Genghistwelve - September 11, 2015 5:07 pm

  55. Genghistwelve, that works for me – but does someone still own the trademark? If so, I doubt they’d want to have these awards use it unless they were willing to sponsor it.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 11, 2015 5:34 pm

  56. I note with amusement that over 300 people shave commented over at File 770…compared to 50 or so here. Then again, the comments here have been substantive and constructive, unlike the ones over there. Thanks, folks.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 11, 2015 5:34 pm

  57. They cannot be salvaged without the kind of overture the anti-Puppies seem to be incapable of making.

    As one of the people who worked on the E Pluribus Hugo proposal, one of my goals was to encourage diversity of opinion on the ballot, and I think we succeeded. While EPH was started as an effort to prevent a well-organized minority from completely shutting out others from the ballot, the system also prevents the majority from denying a sufficiently large minority a place on the ballot.

    I will admit it’s all theory and simulations, at the moment – we haven’t gotten the anonymized ballot data from this year to see how things would have actually gone. But in a world without slates – where everyone feels free to read the things they like and nominate their favorites (of the things they actually read!) – our intuition is that EPH will result in a sort of “proportional representation” on the ballot.

    For example, suppose 60% of the voting fans were primarily fans of stories about aliens, and the other 40% were primarily fans of stories about robots; alien fans’ ballots tend to be made up of four to five alien stories (with maybe the occasional robot story showing up from fans that read a bit more broadly), and ditto for the robot fans. (This is a simplistic example, but bear with me.) Assume also that neither group of fans is organizing around a slate of nominees. Under the existing nomination system, the final ballot will generally be dominated by alien stories, with the occasional robot story slipping through when it had broad cross-fan appeal or when it was a consensus favorite among the robot fans. Under EPH, you’d typically see 3 alien stories and 2 robot stories on the ballot.

    I think we’ll be able to reduce not only the impact of slate voting but also the perceived necessity of it, by including as many people’s voices on the final ballot as we can. I don’t know if that’s the kind of “overture” you meant, but there are definitely people who are working hard to try to repair the rifts that have been widening in fandom lately.

    (As a side note: your description of EPH is almost correct, but when we look at the two nominees with the fewest point totals, we drop the one that appears on the fewest number of nominating ballots – there is no notion of “first place” on the unranked nominating ballots.)

    Comment by chrisbattey - September 11, 2015 5:42 pm

  58. Laura Resnick asks over on File 770:

    Is this anything more than one guy spitballing an idea? Just asking out of curiosity, since I’ve no idea how the matter stands. There is an enormous difference, after all, between one guy writing a blog post that says “hey, what if we had awards and structured them like this?” and someone actually establishing an award, setting up a nonprofit corp to administer it, getting volunteers to organize the online nominating and voting and vote-counting procedures, getting the award designed, getting funds for the designer and the materials for the awards (if there’s going to be a trophy?) and more funds to host awards event (if there’s going to be an awards event?), and volunteers to judge, and volunteers to set up and monitor the voter eligibility system, and so on.

    That depends on how much support I get. Should it be accepted as a Good Thing that people are willing to get behind – and that includes sufficient signatories willing to help boot up the web of trust (and yes, that’s a technical term in computing, and an explanation of that fact will be a good thing to add) and serve on the Judging Committee – I’m fully prepared to do what I am able to make it a reality. I hold no illusions as to the amount of work involved. It’s not going to spring to life fully formed, to be sure. There’s a fair amount of programming that will need to be done, the legalities of setting up a nonprofit corporation (which I am experienced in doing; among other things, I am a former Professional Registered Parliamentarian), and as Laura points out the awards themselves and the ceremony. All of that will take money and time, most of it volunteer.

    I also don’t want to splinter the available resources, both mindshare and volunteer time and effort and money. So far, I haven’t seen any serious proposals for other awards, but that says little; such a proposal can easily have escaped my notice, and others may be working on one that may work better. I certainly don’t claim this one’s perfect.

    I can’t do it alone. I’m not going to try. What I can and will do is spearhead the effort, if there’s enough backing to do so and if I’m not going to step on anyone’s toes (beyond the folks who do things like cheer the NO AWARD results and hand out Vonnegut Memorial Asterisks).

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 11, 2015 5:49 pm

  59. chrisbattey: Correction noted. Thank you.

    As for the kind of overture I’m talking about, what I’d like to see is an acknowledgment that the raucous cheering at the NO AWARDs was entirely inappropriate, that the Vonnegut Memorial Asterisks were crude and a deliberate slam instead of a harmless joke (remember what Vonnegut said the asterisk resembled, and note that Gerrold specifically name-checked Vonnegut when he was handing them out), and that there’s room for folks who don’t want to read boring message fiction in SF – and that that desire does not stem from racism, sexism, homophobia, or any other motive than a desire to read something enjoyable.

    Sadly, that last one in particular seems to be a bridge too far.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 11, 2015 5:53 pm

  60. Raphael: Funny you should mention acyclic directed graphs. That’s exactly the model I had in mind. More importantly, I’m pretty sure it’s the model Eric had ih mind, and that matters because he’s been developing and using a piece of software that works heavily with them in another context. (Distributed source control repository conversion and modification, for those who might be interested. It’s called reposurgeon.)

    Eric’s done a lot of work on processing those efficiently and quickly, and that work would apply here.

    The web of trust is a standard cryptographic mechanism, and while I have nothing specific in mind, it’s an increasingly common thing.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 11, 2015 6:53 pm

  61. Well, I can’t speak for the community any more than anyone else can, but I was pretty uncomfortable with the asterisks myself. I thought the cheering at the No Awards was a bit much – and this is speaking as someone who took the protest-vote option myself because I considered the slate nominators to not be acting in good faith – but I could at least understand it, because many people saw the slates as an attack on the awards and the No Award decisions as the best response to that attack. (And yes, some of those people cheering were those who saw the No Awards as a glorious victory over the enemy in the culture wars, just like there were people who thought the same of the Puppy slates’ dominance on the nominating ballot. I’m certainly not going to argue that there aren’t bad actors on both sides of this particular argument.)

    Your last statement, though, reads to me as “please validate my opinion that the things you like are crap”, and that’s going to be a pretty tough sell. I totally agree there’s room for you and others with your tastes in fandom. I share many of them – we originally met on the Schlock Mercenary boards (where I went by “DarthParadox”). (I still remember your Xinchub costume from the last time I went to Penguicon!) I’ve read a lot of fantastic military SF, and I’ve enjoyed some of the Puppy nominees – including the Grimnoire series which I read in its entirety last year when Warbound was nominated, and Skin Game which I’d read before the nominations were announced. One of my favorite authors has been published by Baen for the last thirty years.

    But you’re defining yourself (and the people you want these awards to serve) not in terms of what you like, but what you don’t like – and not even clearly, at that. I don’t know how you’re defining “message fiction”; I have yet to see a definition of it that doesn’t boil down to personal taste, stated in the negative (e.g. “I do not share the politics of this author” or “this story is an allegory for a real-world problem I do not care about” or “this story explicitly focuses on the struggles of people I do not identify with”).

    Personally, I think the most boring piece of “message fiction” I’ve read lately was Vox Day’s “Opera Vita Aeterna” – but Kij Johnson’s “Ponies” is pretty close to the top of that list too. Both of them were at the bottom of my Hugo ballots in their respective years. But a movement complaining about “boring message fiction” putting “Opera Vita Aeterna” on the Hugo ballot belies its apparent motivations.

    I guess I’m saying that if you’re interested in repairing these cultural rifts, identifying your group as “people who think the stuff the rest of the fandom likes is boring” isn’t a great way to go about it – and self-identifying as such and then expecting said rest of fandom to be happy to have you around is unrealistic.

    Comment by Chris Battey - September 11, 2015 7:31 pm

  62. Can I ask for some clarification on what will get a work disqualified? In the original post, you said,

    “The judges may disqualify any work they find to have an emphasis on other than telling a good SF/F story.”

    But in the comments you talk about letting stories that clearly have a message they’re pushing through:

    “But even then, a case can be made that the message serves the story, not the other way around. There’s plenty of room for disagreement there”

    That’s not the same thing. First you say the only emphasis can be on good storytelling, then you say that an emphasis on a specific message is okay as long as the emphasis on storytelling is stronger.

    There is plenty of room for disagreement, yes, and you’re bound to get plenty of disagreement if you make the rules that subjective. How do you guard against judges rejecting strong stories that also contain a message they don’t like but letting through messages they like that have a story attached to them as an afterthought? If your answer is, “Well, we’ll just make sure to choose judges who will never, ever do that,” that’s not going to work in the real world.

    Comment by PeterM - September 11, 2015 7:47 pm

  63. PeterM: Good point. That should be “a primary emphasis on other than good storytelling”.

    As for letting through some messages and not others, that can be dealt with by selecting judges from across the spectrum and requiring unanimity or near unanimity.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 11, 2015 7:53 pm

  64. To the folks objecting to my invocation of the name of Terry Pratchett: I said “part of me wants to”. That’s a way of saying “as much as I’d like to do this, I’m not going to”. I explained why not in that same paragraph. So find something else to hit m over the head with.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 11, 2015 8:53 pm

  65. Chris Battey: Ok, I’m so curious I made an account just to ask. I must know.

    What is the message that overwhelms the story in Johnson’s Ponies?

    I’m not trying to start a fight, I genuinely want to hear your opinion. I just can’t figure out what you’re referring to. I’m not a huge fan of that story, but I can’t figure out why it goes in the Bad Message Fic box.

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 11, 2015 9:29 pm

  66. Welcome, Cat! I hope you’ll stick around. It’s a lot easier to converse when you’re not doing it 140 characters at a time.

    To answer your question from Twitter: Besides Dinosaur, there’s also The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere and Ancillary Justice. The former is a standard coming-out story with a bit of fantasy bolted on the side, and the latter, while it may be military space opera, wouldn’t have had the acclaim it did if it hadn’t been for the gimmickry used to drive home the SJW-approved message about gender.

    I’ll also note that Leckie’s selection as GoH for the con I consider my home con, Penguicon, just adds to my unease about that con’s lurch to the left this year.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 11, 2015 10:13 pm

  67. Chris, all I’m asking is that you respect my opinion as being a valid one to hold, whether or not you disagree with it. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

    Edit: And after having read Ponies, I agree: bleh. Cat, the message I see there is “forcing people to conform sucks”. Without the message, what’s left?

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 11, 2015 10:19 pm

  68. As I’m tired of saying, gimmick aside. I nominated Ancilliary Justice and I voted it #1. It was head and shoulders the best SF novel I read that year and I won pretty damn near every other award too.

    It did not win because of gimmicks. It won because it’s that good.

    That’s really a part of the problem here you just don’t seem to get that people liked something you didn’t.

    Comment by daveon - September 11, 2015 10:53 pm

  69. daveon, I have no trouble with people liking something I don’t. My roommate loves carrots; I think they’re concentrated, solidified orange yuk.

    The real test here is: Did people who weren’t fans of message fiction like it? And no, just because it won a pile of awards does not answer that question in the affirmative.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 11, 2015 10:56 pm

  70. Jay– I presume, then, that you also think Stars In My Pocket Like Grains of Sand is an execrable book that deserves no acclaim, as it uses the same pronoun technique as Ancillary Justice?

    I can almost see the point that Heinlein and the contemporary authors pushed by the Puppies centralize their SF element more than literary SFF. I really can. (Though I’m not sure it follows that literary SFF is essentially less-than for centralizing feeling. Space has feelings, too, you know? So what if Chu’s story was more emotion than plot? It was SFF. Bolted on is still attached.)

    However, the messages in that centralized speculative element fiction are so loud and blatant and absolutely essential to the work that I am continually baffled by the insistence that somehow The Redshirts That Fall on Dinosaurs from Nowhere and Ancillary Justice are especially egregious and require a response on the level of consuming all of fandom in a fiery abyss bizarre. Do you also reject LeGuin? Tiptree? Atwood? Ishiguro? Crowley? Delany? It’s fine to say you do, I’m just trying to get a feel for the boundaries, here. It’s hard to escape the suspicion that “messages” are only bad when you disagree with them, and fine when you agree.

    Because it’s simply not right to say a good story has no message. Story and message are not separable, hostile camps demanding loyalty only to one or the other. A good story has themes. A good story is about something. A good story is not only about things that happen one after the other, but about why they happen, and how, and to whom, and how all those things interconnect. And all that can happen WITH ray guns and explosions and buxom princesses. It happens literally all the time. One does not kick the other out of bed for eating crackers.

    The author always, ALWAYS, communicates their own culture and experience through their fiction. There is no writing without that cultural electricity animating it. It’s not good or bad. It just is. We cannot help it, we are human. To say that Ancillary Justice is message fiction and undeserving but Time Enough for Love is not is to say that some of those communicated experiences are good and should be promulgated and some are worthless and should be cast aside. And I don’t think there’s anything in the world that should be cast aside and never written about.

    However, no one, not even the terrible, no good, very bad SJWs, has ever said that the best stories are ones where the “message” overrides the good story. Everyone wants a good story. Everyone wants to sink into a novel and get totally wrapped up in the tale. There is no need to split into camps on this topic because there is literally no argument. Everyone wants the same thing.

    The difference lies in the fact that for some people, a story that communicates an experience that they are unfamiliar with, whether a gendered one, or racial, or sexual, or even literary, jars them out of the story and makes it harder to get wrapped up in it. I can even use my powers of empathy to understand that, because it jars me out of a story when I come across a message about how shitty and/or unnecessary women are, because I am a woman and I like to not feel like I am shitty and unnecessary. But unfortunately, for some people, me just writing a story that draws on my life experience IS political, because my experience isn’t theirs, and the central presence of women in a story is, for them, a political act.

    But none of that means those stories that have themes outside the status quo are inherently bad and undeserving. Nor are stories that have themes that adhere to the status quo inherently bad or undeserving. You may not like /those particular stories/, but…what if you just didn’t like them because you didn’t like that particular story, and not because of the /kind of story/ you think it might be? Hell, the books I want to win almost never take Best Novel. You can just not like Ancillary Justice or The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere. you can not like them because you think they’re not good. It doesn’t have to be a Balrog Battle where you thrust down your staff and blow them off the bridge because they’re evil and you’re not. It doesn’t have to be about right and left. That’s a message you’re bringing in. Leckie wrote the book she wanted to write. So did Chu and Swirsky. There’s no morality in that. There’s just art and expression. And you have every right to say it stinks. People don’t agree about books. Ever. My favorite novel gets regularly shit on by people left and right. It’s not a conspiracy, it’s the great long and lively conversation of literature, in which there are no right answers, and no quantifiable solutions, no victory and no defeat, just the conversation, happening before we’re born and after we die.

    But to draw lines in the sand and say that people who like stories you don’t are enemies, that Leckie as a /person/ shouldn’t be GOH at a convention because it means Something Enormous and Sinister…that’s not a long and lively conversation. That is the death of conversation. Come now, surely you don’t support a political litmus test for Penguicon GOHs. Surely you did not object when Neil Gaiman, Cory Doctorow, Terry Pratchett, and Spider Robinson were GOHs. Surely that was not a sign of Troubling Times Ahead. Should only conservatives be allowed to set foot in the Penguicon hotel? That feels like a very strange path for fandom to take.

    This has gotten far too long. The point is, this doesn’t have to be the way it is. Or at least the way it has become. There is no need for the invective I’ve seen. There is no need to call it a war. We can all just like different stories and books. And sometimes one kind of thing gets a lot of awards for a few years, and sometimes another. If you truly want to see books without political messages, if you even think that’s possible, then perhaps it would be better to stop making everything in SFF about politics, even the choice of a GOH at a midwestern convention.

    What if we just all read things, and talked about them, and sometimes we liked them and sometimes we didn’t and most of the time we didn’t agree at all, and then we all went and read more things, and repeated the dance all over again?

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 11, 2015 11:07 pm

  71. I guess it IS better when you have more than 140 characters. Good grief. Most all of that has been said before by others wiser than I. What was I thinking.

    Re: Ponies. Look, I actually don’t particularly care for that story. There’s loads of Johnson’s stuff I like better. But “forcing people to conform sucks” isn’t a pernicious message, it’s a theme. A theme shared a huge number of works, including many by Heinlein, and, for a wild example, V for Vendetta. And what you have left when you take the theme away is the same thing you have left at the end of V for Vendetta: intriguing worldbuilding, an interesting voice, two characters to either bond with or be repulsed by, a feeling of dread and the contrast between that dread and, in Vendetta’s case, the narrative drive of hope, and in Ponies’ case, the happy sparkly world that is sold to girls as My Little Pony et al.

    It’s hardly a Jack Chick tract, you know?

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 11, 2015 11:14 pm

  72. The Hugos and the Nebulas had to start somewhere, so this yet-unnamed award might make an impact. But the pyramid-scheme of co-opting “reliable” voters looks bad, as does the Supreme Court or Electoral College you’ve got there to suppress incorrect, um, “storytelling”. Keeping people out will not make this award popular.

    If you want a name for it, I’d suggest the Smith, or the Smithy. There are a lot of great old-school sf/f writers named Smith (E.E. “Doc”, George O., Cordwainer, etc), and it is the original surname of Lazarus Long, if you want a Heinlein connection. There are great designs possible, too: a guy with a hammer, or just a hammer, etc.

    Comment by James Enge - September 11, 2015 11:55 pm

  73. Cat: It felt like a thinly veiled lecture about how damaging your own identity in order to fit in wasn’t worth it. I didn’t think there was much story there in the first place (though the fact that it was so short had something to do with that) – just a philosophical stake in the ground, wrapped in a heavy-handed metaphor. (Mutilating ponies! There’s no question about the message the author meant to send, there.) I lived that kind of identity crisis in high school and I still found the story boring.

    But I’m also still of the opinion that classifying the story as “boring message fiction” is a personal taste judgment, not something to build an award and a community around. Clearly the story spoke to a lot of people in a way it didn’t speak to me, and I don’t think the Hugo Awards are broken for having awarded one to “Ponies”.

    Which is an excellent segue into the other stories Jay mentions. I can understand the criticisms of “Dinosaur” – it’s not hard to imagine someone bouncing off of it the same way I did “Ponies”. I thought the emotional story arc of “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” was beautifully written; the fantasy wasn’t bolted onto the side, it was integral to the story, because the fact that the universe would no longer let the characters get away with lying to each other – or to themselves – was the driving force behind most of the interactions. But again, personal tastes differ, and not everyone will feel emotional resonance with seeing someone struggle with their own sexuality and the lack of acceptance from their family.

    And Ancillary Justice… a spaceship that is also an entire squadron of soldiers gets pulled into a cold-war conflict between two fracturing sides of the thousand-bodied, supposedly-single-minded ruler of the galaxy, is forced by said ruler to betray her crew, and then, reduced to a single body that manages to escape, goes on a mission of revenge against said ruler. How is that not a hell of a story to tell? You might have found the language/gender issues gimmicky, where I found them thought-provoking – but the story itself was still fascinating even without the gender construction stuff. And saying the story wouldn’t have had the acclaim it did without the “SJW” message – once again, it sounds like you’re not arguing about the story on its merits, but instead saying that it pleased a portion of fandom you don’t like and therefore you have to fight against it.

    Also, the repeated refrain of “they only liked it because it had a message they agreed with” implies that this supposed gatekeeping group of SJWs that you’ve placed yourself in opposition to doesn’t actually have any taste – that their interest in SFF is entirely driven by whether they’re being pandered to or not. You ask for your opinions to be considered valid, but then you’re telling us that our own opinions are due to satisfying some checklist and have nothing to do with the quality of the work. Maybe consider extending others the same courtesy you’re asking for?

    It’s okay to dislike some of the stories that win Hugos. You’re welcome to your own opinions about those works. But it doesn’t mean the awards are broken, and it doesn’t mean that the people that liked the works that you don’t are somehow deficient in their opinions, or are judging the works on invalid criteria.

    Comment by Chris Battey - September 11, 2015 11:55 pm

  74. Chris–thank you so much for replying! My issues with the story are entirely different and probably super personal. I just didn’t buy the characters and their responses to their circumstances, and so bounced off of that. But Kij has never written less than a great sentence, I get why others like it.

    PS: it didn’t win the Hugo, just nominated. Tied for the Nebula.

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 12, 2015 12:01 am

  75. And in starting to write the above, pausing to feed the preschooler dinner and put him to bed, and then posting, Cat and daveon have already covered the ground I was aiming for pretty well. So sorry for being a bit repetitive, and let me TL;DR myself here:

    * It’s okay to not like things that other people like.
    * It’s okay to like things other people don’t like.
    * It’s okay to not like things that have won awards.
    * It’s NOT okay to imply that other people only like the things they like out of political motivation or some kind of checkbox-filling, rather than because we actually found those things to be worth our time, attention, and the space they take up inside our head.

    So stop saying “people only liked X because message fiction” whenever you see someone liking something you didn’t. There’s no common ground to be had there, and it’s insulting.

    Comment by Chris Battey - September 12, 2015 12:01 am

  76. Cat: Thanks for the correction; I had meant to go fact-check that one but then forgot.

    I do like well-made sentences! (Even if my own tend towards parenthentical running-on.) Anything else recent of Kij’s you’d recommend?

    Comment by Chris Battey - September 12, 2015 12:05 am

  77. Chris: My favorite of hers is Fudoki, which is not at all recent. But really, really worth your time if you haven’t read it.

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 12, 2015 12:09 am

  78. I’ll check it out, thanks!

    Comment by Chris Battey - September 12, 2015 1:07 am

  79. You know I’m still trying to work out what the ‘message’ in Ancillary Justice was apart from don’t piss off bio-enhanced soldiers hosting an AI pissed over the destruction of their ship can’t be what’s annoying you?

    You mentioned you liked Moon is a Harsh Mistress? The message in that is hammered into you with a piece of 2 by 4… Or do messages only count if you see them?

    In short, your argument about ‘message fiction’ is found wanting.

    Question: was there a story in John C Wrights Hugo nominated works? Because I missed it, they appeared to be all message.

    Comment by daveon - September 12, 2015 1:56 am

  80. I like Chris Batteys definition of what message fiction is. It is fiction that grates against us when reading it. And that will be different for different people.

    For Jay, it is message fiction if a text describes the struggle of a person in the gay community. For me as an organizer in the world of alternative sexualities, that is just a part of my ordinary world. I didn’t notice any specific message in Ancilliary Justice because again, this is just the part of the world I’m in.

    So what grates against us depends on our world views, how things are discussed by the people around us. What I see as message fiction is not what Jay sees. And if he has a jury he will be satisfied with, it will most likely remove fiction that he sees as having grating messages, but leave fiction that grates with me. I see his award as an award for politically correct SFF where a formally elected group of people are allowed to say what is correct or not. He will not.

    Such is life. And this has been said so many times before.

    Basically, the idea of this award is an award for SFF that conservative white males can identify with without anything grating against them. Fine. But it is kind of hard to define this in text without starting a big hullabaloo. Thus the gatekeepers to weed out politically incorrect works. And the trust system to keep out wrongfans voting for wrongworks.


    I think an easier way is to have people register with ids on cons to prove they exist. And to start this registration on cons where people with the same idea of an award hang out.

    For those who wants to verify people *not* on a con, the following system:

    * A user can only start to verify others if the user itself has been verified by five others or have been verified at a con.

    * Let there be a grace period of two months from when a user is verified until the user is allowed to verify others.

    * A user can only verify one max 5 persons a year.

    This would keep cons where likeminded people hang out as a basis of the voters, but allow others in. However, not at a rate they could just take over the award puppy style.

    It would avoid problems where small cliques of voters would try to push someone they don’t like out from voting rights and even wars among group of users trying to raise or lower a persons trust rating after a conflict between them.

    Comment by Hampus - September 12, 2015 2:59 am

  81. For me, a trust/verification system of any kind must be designed to avoid conflict and possibility to start wars. If a function exists (like downvoting) it will be used. Count on it. There’s a good discussion about it here:

    Comment by Hampus - September 12, 2015 3:13 am

  82. This proposal begins with such a fundamentally wrong presumption that it is difficult to treat it seriously and easy to question the motives of the proposer.

    Despite all of the millions of words that have been spilled over 2015’s awards, the proposer still writes:

    “an inability to make an award that’s supposed to represent all of fandom…”

    It has been stated over and over and over and over again that the Hugo Awards are not “representative of all of fandom”. They never have been, they never will be.

    Failing to understand this or, worse, deliberately ignoring this fact in order to push a political agenda, renders this proposal nothing more than yet another P.T. Barnum style attack on the Hugo Awards.

    Further, several of those commenting continue to preach another awards canard, that the awards are “about promoting works”.

    This may be true for other awards (especially when they come wrapped in words like “People’s Choice” or “Popular”) but it is not true for the Hugo Awards.

    The Hugo Awards are the way that members of the World Science Fiction Society register their appreciation for the work and activity that has gone on in the field during the preceding year. Getting a boost BECAUSE of nomination and/or winning comes after the fact and is a secondary bonus, not the primary purpose. There is no commercial intent associated with handing out the awards. This is WHY the award is not “people’s choice” and why it has evolved the wayit has over the years.

    Further, both of these – call them what you will mistakes/political/ploys/misunderstandings – along with someone holding up the commercialized Dragoncon as some kind of comparator to Worldcon (obviously not knowing the origins of Dragoncon) and other comments too numerous to mention highlight one of the primary causes of “puppy dissatisfaction”: you all either don’t know Fandom, capital F, don’t like Fandom for some reason or think of Fandom not as a society, but as a marketing tool that can be manipulated for your benefit.
    Go ahead and manipulated small-f fandom as much as you want. You’ll be competing with the likes of NBC/Universal, Disney/Marvel and the like. But know that trying to do the same with Fandom is going to continue to result in the same kind of responses that the puppy campaigns received this year, and that this is because you do not understand Fandom, not because Fandom is against you.
    Had you understood Fandom, you would have known that there were/are ways to go about achieving your goals that would not have resulted in Fandom rejecting them.

    Comment by crotchetyoldfan - September 12, 2015 7:35 am

  83. Good grief. See what I get for going to bed at night? There’s a lot here to be answered, and I’m probably not going to be able to do it all justice, but I’ll try anyway. In no particular order:

    I’m sorry I brought up Penguicon; it’s not all that germane to the subject of an award for SF/F storytelling. I’ll answer Cat’s criticisms of my stance by simply saying that no, of course I don’t think that only conservatives should set foot in the Westin Southfield. That would be as boring as a con populated only by leftists. The problem is that I see very little balance there. Conservative viewpoints were not represented this year, and so far don’t seem to be for 2016 either, although I will grant it’s still very early on in that process, and there’s still plenty of time. I’ve been promised a discussion with some of the folks behind Penguicon, and am reserving final judgment until that conversation happens.

    I like Hampus’s suggested web of trust system. It may well be more workable than the original proposal. I fully agree that whatever is used must be able to scale to all of fandom if the award is to met its stated objective. Yes, that explicitly includes folks like Cat and Hampus and daveon and even John Scalzi and David Gerrold.

    The same goes for Gerrold’s complaint about the web of trust being a caste system. It’s not, and not intended to be, but if there’s another way to get to the desired goal without being as easy to misunderstand as this apparently is, I’m game.

    But no, it’s not an award for stuff conservative white guys like. It’s an award where stuff conservative white guys like has an equal chance. Right now, all the evidence points to the Hugos as no longer being such an award. Hampus sees these awards as “an award for politically correct SFF where a formally elected group of people are allowed to say what is correct or not”. He’s right in that I do not; indeed, that’s exactly how I see the Hugos, the difference being that the folks who say what’s allowed are unelected.

    Chris: “You ask for your opinions to be considered valid, but then you’re telling us that our own opinions are due to satisfying some checklist and have nothing to do with the quality of the work. Maybe consider extending others the same courtesy you’re asking for?” When people quit saying that I’m only interested in reading stuff from straight white men, then you’ll have an argument. As it stands, even folks in this discussion imply exactly that. (See Hampus’s comment about “the trust system to keep out wrongfans voting for wrong works” as one example.)

    Eric Raymond has a good take on all of this. He argues that it’s not really about politics, but a problem he calls “literary status envy”: the idea that classic SF/F is not worthy because it’s not literary enough and doesn’t care about feelings and other such things.

    James Enge: Funny you should mention E. E. “Doc” Smith. I just reread a few bits of the Lensman series a couple of nights ago. Grand, sweeping story, but …erf. Smith’s writing leaves a lot to be desired. Then again, I’m told that that was the good stuff in its day and there was lots that was far worse. If so, I’m glad that the state of SF/F writing has improved so much since then.

    As for your suggestion for the award itself: I can’t help thinking of a genuine ACME anvil…

    Chris: In your list of “it’s OK” and “it’s not OK”, how about adding “it’s not OK to say that other people only like the things they like because they only want to read fiction written by straight white men”? I’ve heard that far too often, and it’s simply false. Or are the folks who say that saying that David Gerrold and Elizabeth Moon, to pick two examples out of my library, are straight white men?

    Cat: “The difference lies in the fact that for some people, a story that communicates an experience that they are unfamiliar with, whether a gendered one, or racial, or sexual, or even literary, jars them out of the story and makes it harder to get wrapped up in it.” I’ve got no problem with stories written from viewpoints other than my own. There are plenty of books on my shelves written from the viewpoint of a woman, and The Man Who Folded Himself is a good enjoyable story. (Even if it was written by David Gerrold.) It’s when the story is used to push the one particular viewpoint that I have an issue with it. See, for example, the protagonist in Lock In, whose gender is left unspecified throughout the entire book. Scalzi’s been praised for doing so, but to me, it leaves me unable to form a mental image of the character, and I have a much harder time reading a work if I can’t picture the characters involved. This is not the only reason I won’t buy it (Fuzzy Nation was the last Scalzi I intend to ever spend money on), but it’s a very large hump for me to get over.

    That’s a prime example of a literary gimmick there to push an SJW-approved message. I wonder how the folks who do the casting for the TV series based on the book will cast the lead character?

    If I’m not alone in my belief that this kind of thing isn’t what SF/F should be celebrated for – and whatever else people might think, I think it’s plainly obvious I’m not – then there’s a hole in fandom these awards will fill. That’s what I’m after.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 12, 2015 8:16 am

  84. Is it a message now to not mention the gender of a character?? If that is a message and all books with things that can seen as”messages” will be removed by a special jury for the politically correct, then I would say that this idea is doomed from the start.

    This will be an award for a very small and sensitive part of Fandom.

    Comment by Hampus - September 12, 2015 9:31 am

  85. Leaving out the gender of the protagonist is fully as gimmicky as writing a novel in English without using the letter e. It might be interesting as an intellectual exercise, but it leaves the work incomplete.

    When it’s done by a vocal leftist, it can’t be taken as other than a political statement.

    Note that this is different from having an agendered character. That I have no problem with – but it’s the character themselves (I don’t know what the pronoun-of-the-week is for agender) saying it, not the author refusing to say. See the difference?

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 12, 2015 9:47 am

  86. “See, for example, the protagonist in Lock In, whose gender is left unspecified throughout the entire book. Scalzi’s been praised for doing so, but to me, it leaves me unable to form a mental image of the character, and I have a much harder time reading a work if I can’t picture the characters involved.”

    That doesn’t make any sense. If the character’s gender is unspecified, you’re quite able–even encouraged, according to Scalzi–to figure out what Chris looks like and what gender the character is on your own. For instance, you can make Chris a manly-man or a femme woman, or you can even make Chris into an Artoo Detoo type or a gold-plated Terminator. Each choice is equally valid. I thought it was a rather interesting experiment, as it tended to reveal more about the reader, and what the reader wants/expects from his/her fiction, than the writer.

    In any case, that’s not the only thing about the book. To me, the worldbuilding is interesting, the story is well-paced, and there’s also intriguing themes (not messages) about the disabled and how we treat them. But I find it–odd, I guess–that you’re so hung up on this one thing when there’s so much more to Lock In, just as there’s so much more to Ancillary Justice.

    Comment by redheadedfemme - September 12, 2015 9:53 am

  87. @Jay:

    “To answer your question from Twitter: Besides Dinosaur, there’s also The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere and Ancillary Justice. The former is a standard coming-out story with a bit of fantasy bolted on the side, and the latter, while it may be military space opera, wouldn’t have had the acclaim it did if it hadn’t been for the gimmickry used to drive home the SJW-approved message about gender.”

    Is the story overwhelmed by the message in Ursula K. Le Guin’s “Winter’s King” because it uses the exact same “gimmick” as Leckie’s book – using the default gender as “she” for most of the characters, even though it may be inaccurate to the physical sex of the characters? Why or why not?

    I’d expect someone who’d read the story thoughtfully to be able to answer that question in a way that explains what’s good or faulty about the STORY – not just the gimmick. Something like: “I liked the clever use of NAFAL time dilation as a plot point along with the poignant theme of parenthood” or, “I thought the story was kind of cliche because of X trope, which has been used before in…”

    But much of the criticism I’ve read about Leckie’s books being “message fiction” seems to be criticism of that ONE “gimmick” as making the story unworthy – without ever explaining why anything IN THE STORY is unworthy. They never say anything like: Plotline X where the protagonist does Y is cliche, or the climax of the tale is unbelievable because Z. Most of what I’ve read is “The protagonist calls everyone SHE! Message fiction! Awful!” Which gives the impression that those critics read only until they understood that the protagonists uses the word “she” as the default for everybody, and then they stopped reading and stumbled backwards with their eyes burning and uttering cries of horror…and concluded that the book was unworthy without finishing it. Which is not what a conscientious critic should be doing.

    Now, I may be wrong to conclude that you’ve done that, Mr. Maynard (and if you’ve written a more detailed critique of Leckie’s book somewhere, point me to it and I shall read with interest). But your description of the book does seem to give the impression you haven’t read the whole thing.

    You think that there is an “SJW-approved message about gender,” that overwhelms the story in the book. But what do you think that message about gender IS? Do you think the book’s “SJW approved message” is that No Gender = Good? If you’d read it with any attention you’d have noticed that the society in the book that draws no distinctions of gender is unjustly oppressing other societies, many of which DO distinguish between genders in language and lifestyle. The book is more about empire, rebelling against it, as well as identity of the person rebelling.

    If you didn’t read the book well enough to get the “message” right, then IMO as a critic you’ve forfeited the right to say that the message overwhelms the story. By all means dislike the book and don’t read it if it’s not your thing, but don’t say “The message overwhelms the story” if you haven’t read the story and can explain in detail HOW the story is faulty. That’s the kind of thing that critic in the Guardian pulled, who confidently stated that Terry Pratchett wrote garbage without having read it, because Literary Canon.

    Comment by Jayn - September 12, 2015 10:14 am

  88. Yes, I can make Chris into anything I want. The problem is that my vision may not be compatible with the author’s intent, and may lead me places he didn’t want me to go.

    I have no doubt there’s much more to Lock In and Ancillary Justice than the issues I bring up. They both sound like there’s lots of good story there. The problem is that I hit the gimmicks and bounce off. What’s more important: the story, or the gimmicks? To Leckie and Scalzi, it would seem the latter.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 12, 2015 10:16 am

  89. Jayn: “Do you think the book’s “SJW approved message” is that No Gender = Good?”

    No, I think the SJW-approved message is that gender is more important than anything else. It could have come straight out of an Ivy League Gender Studies department. This is not a feature.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 12, 2015 10:18 am

  90. he Hugo voters have considered other factors than the most fundamental when evaluating a work. They have chosen works based on their political emphasis, or the race or nationality of the author, or other criteria aside from that which defines SF/F.

    This is begging the question. I’d like to see some solid proof first that this is actually the case; absent that this entire proposal is built on loose sand.

    Comment by mvdwege - September 12, 2015 10:22 am

  91. Jay, John Scalzi specifically stated when discussing Lock In on his blog that his readers are welcome to make Chris anything they want. So I think that objection is a red herring. To me, the story is set up so it doesn’t MATTER what gender the reader sees the character as. Picture Chris as a straight white dude from the get-go, if that’s what you’re into, and you’re off to the races. The story and its themes are unaffected. It’s rather sad, to me, that you’re deliberately missing out on what you might find to be a good story just because of this one ultimately inconsequential thing.

    As far as Ancillary Justice goes, just picture the story as being about all women except when stated otherwise, as in the case of Seivarden (and at least one other character I remember is mentioned as having a beard) and go with it. The story works just as well, since the “shes” are not what the novel is about. You can overcome the supposed “gimmicks” just by being willing to give the story a chance.

    Comment by redheadedfemme - September 12, 2015 10:34 am

  92. mvdwege, there have been probably millions of words written addressing that question. At this point, there will never be agreement on that. This proposal is an attempt to provide something that both sides of that issue can agree on: recognizing good SF/F stories, not literary gimmicks or heavy-handed preaching on either side. If everyone agrees that the story is the thing, as Cat argued above, why can’t we agree on this?

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 12, 2015 10:34 am

  93. Jay, there has been an enormous amount of innuendo aimed at fans, but so far no proof. Unless you do better, I see no reason to agree with this.

    It saddens me to see a Bastard using bad logic like that.

    Comment by mvdwege - September 12, 2015 10:40 am

  94. redheadedfemme: “John Scalzi specifically stated when discussing Lock In on his blog that his readers are welcome to make Chris anything they want.”

    So he’s too lazy to paint a complete portrait? This is not a recommendation.

    But a character who’s obviously male being referred to as “she”? *boing* There I go, bouncing off again.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 12, 2015 10:46 am

  95. Gosh, Jay, isn’t it…fun to experiment while writing? Can’t it just be interesting to write someone without gender, because it’s SF and we’re supposed to push boundaries and try new things and also because it’s boring to write the same thing over and over again? Lock In isn’t the first to do that trick, either. Without glancing at a bookshelf I can think of Written on the Body and Tiptree winner Set This House In Order. Why should every book have to be the same? I wondered about the casting thing, too. But that didn’t lead me to reject the book outright. It’ll be interesting to see how they handle it. Maybe a trans actor? Maybe multiple actors?

    The thing is, tricks in writing are /fun/. Writers like them because they keep them from getting bored. They present challenges and stretch the skills of a writer. And sometimes writers use them just because they like them. “Trick” doesn’t always mean “trying to trick the reader.” Sometimes it means “a sweet back flip.”

    I agree with Jayn that it doesn’t really seem like you’ve read the books–it sounds like you heard about the back flip and decided you don’t like books with back flips in them, and that was enough. I could be wrong on that. But it doesn’t scan at all for you to say it’s absurd for people to think you’re looking for fiction by straight white conservative men while at the same time actually stating the purpose of this award is to give straight white conservative men a “chance.” You are looking for that kind of fiction, if you’re making an award to give it a chance. And that’s fine, but why pretend it’s not that way? Why not just be bold and straightforward? If it’s such a good thing, why obfuscate?

    And…you know…they have a lot of chances. Most of the chances. Even Correia and Torgersen got nominated. Torgersen got nominated many times. That’s a chance. They get published, often bestsellingly. That’s a chance. They dominate anthologies. That’s a chance. Conservative white men win things all. the. time. And since there’s only ever 1-2 GOHs per year, it’s not fair to say conservative voices aren’t being given a shake on account of Leckie being in the building next year. Conservative voices are loud and proud on every panel I’ve ever been on, and for the average con goer, panels speak much louder than GOHs.

    I don’t know, Jay, I feel like your message that straight white conservative men are not being given a fair shake is overwhelming the story of your award. Couldn’t you just give out a good award without mucking about in identity politics? 😉

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 12, 2015 10:46 am

  96. Here’s where you lose me.

    You say that you want to represent all fans. The fact that you have a “web of trust” which requires people to receive in-group approval does not completely invalidate this, as you could distribute the web wide enough initially that most people could get in. But even while it doesn’t invalidate your stated goal, it does remain at odds with it. It creates what we might call “drag” in the opposite direction.

    Now, I do understand why you might think that drag is a good thing. After all, you have to protect the process by which “real fans” vote on “good stories” from people who would be voting on other criteria to push an agenda.

    And right here is where your stated intentions fall apart. Because in order to be a “trusted fan”, people have to agree with you that some tastes aren’t good tastes, that they’re not the right tastes.

    Jay, just look at how one becomes a foundational member of the “web of trust” in your scheme: they sign off on a statement saying in essence that they agree that the Hugos have been giving awards to the wrong stories for the wrong reason for years.

    Your award is only for “all of fandom” when we accept that people who disagree with this narrative aren’t really fans.

    And that’s baked in, at the foundational level.

    Saying, “We can all agree to reward good stories for being good stories, right?” is a leading question. Sure we can! But your proposal presupposes we all share a common definition of what makes for a good story, or at the very least, we reject certain definitions as being strictly forbidden and characterize the people who hold them as being “untrustworthy” or “not part of fandom”.

    Comment by alexandraerin - September 12, 2015 10:51 am

  97. Jay: you can bounce off. Totally. Confession? I also bounced off of Ancillary Justice, though not because of the pronouns. The pronouns are just a back flip, and, as has been pointed out, one that has a long tradition in SF because it’s an easy way to communicate “alien.” Seriously, they’re not humans. Why couldn’t an alien have a different conception of gender? They really probably should, shouldn’t they? Can’t complain about the forehead aliens in Star Trek and then reject a book because its aliens are truly different. Must all aliens hew to human ideas in psychology and anatomy? That doesn’t sound like the most interesting way to write a book to me, but what do I know?

    My question is: why can’t you just bounce off a book? Why does it have to involve a wide-ranging conspiracy worthy of all this sturm and drang?

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 12, 2015 10:52 am

  98. Sure, I agree. It’s not okay to say someone only likes a thing they like because the author is a straight white man. The same goes for any other demographic descriptor of the author.

    And trying to say “all I want is to recognize good stories” while simultaneously railing against “SJWs” and “political correctness” makes your entire proposal sound disingenuous.

    Comment by Chris Battey - September 12, 2015 10:56 am

  99. […] fallout from the Hugo mess, and this person proposes more gatekeeping, requiring membership in a “web of trust” in order to vote for a new award. I’m not impressed with the idea — it seems to imply more a web of distrust, where someone […]

    Pingback by Forget character — how large are this fictional person’s boobs? - Atheist Boutique - September 12, 2015 11:00 am

  100. “Look, we’ll probably never agree about whether or not the Hugo Awards are a corrupt sham or Anne Leckie writes good books.

    But if everyone agrees that storytelling is what matters, can’t we all just sign a loyalty oath affirming that I’m right about all that other stuff?”

    …gee, where do I sign?

    Comment by alexandraerin - September 12, 2015 11:00 am

  101. “The problem is that my vision may not be compatible with the author’s intent, and may lead me places he didn’t want me to go.”
    Leaving aside my qualms, as someone who doesn’t see themselves as part of Fandom despite being a fan, about ‘trust levels’ (does it not make for a very insular awards if everyone must be vouched for X number of times by approved gate-keepers? I for one would fail miserably if I wished to nominate or vote in these theoretical awards, I am a newb at participating in things but a lover of SF/F) to say that your vision may not match the author’s intent because of agendered or omitted gender identfiers sort of misses the point that that appears to be what Scalzi’s intent was in this instance.
    Also if you have always been able to glean an author’s intent simply from the use of gendered pronouns my hat is off to you. I might think I know what an author’s intent was but without them stating somewhere what their intention is I am just as likely to miss their point due to my own lived experiences colouring my interpretation of their writing. This also applies to your views on message fiction, as others have stated, what I think and you think is messaged fiction differs greatly, in the same way our views on what makes a great piece of storytelling may differ seeing as how art is judged subjectively no matter how objective an award may aim to be.
    THIS is what makes fiction so great, interpretation moves beyond what the author’s intent was, because it is ART. It is made for consumption. It is made to be more than what you as a creator might have envisaged. Messages are determined by the reader, very few authors go out of their way to insert messages, they work with themes that can be interpreted as messages. And if we’re honest half the time creators aren’t truly aware of their themes until after at least the first draft. Intentional theme and message insertion makes for awfully painful and clunky writing in my experience.
    If you want to set up another award have at it but your rationale as stated: “Despite their previous claims to the contrary, the Hugo Awards voters and others now say that the Hugos represent the World Science Fiction Society’s choices, not those of fandom at large. The (insert name here) Awards are intended to redress this situation, and give all of fandom a means of influencing an award that represents them.” Cannot succeed because you cannot represent all of ‘fandom at large’. No one can make that claim and have it be true because fandom is a vast and mysterious beast consisting of a wide variety of peoples of many races, religions, genders, etc. who read different things and value different stories. Be honest, the (insert name here) Awards will represent your fandom and its subsets not all of fandom. And that’s fine, it’s what awards do, even if it is not what they are ideally for.
    Thanks for listening to my rambles, and if you got to the end, congrats :-)

    Comment by patchwork_cat - September 12, 2015 11:03 am

  102. Cat: “The thing is, tricks in writing are /fun/. Writers like them because they keep them from getting bored. They present challenges and stretch the skills of a writer. And sometimes writers use them just because they like them. “Trick” doesn’t always mean “trying to trick the reader.” Sometimes it means “a sweet back flip.””

    That’s great, but at some point, the writer has to make a choice: keep flipping, and distract the audience from the rest of the show, or settle down and let what he’s really trying to tell shine through?

    “But it doesn’t scan at all for you to say it’s absurd for people to think you’re looking for fiction by straight white conservative men while at the same time actually stating the purpose of this award is to give straight white conservative men a “chance.””

    You left out a crucial word: “only”, as in “it’s absurd for people to think you’re only looking for fiction…” Make more sense now?

    “Conservative voices are loud and proud on every panel I’ve ever been on” …even the ones on gender in SF?

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 12, 2015 11:07 am

  103. Jay: Let me ask flat out: Have you read Ancillary Justice and Lock In?

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 12, 2015 11:15 am

  104. For many readers, however, literary skill is part of the enjoyment of a story. A writer’s ability to do things other than tell a straightforward story in plain, unadorned prose can make reading the story more fun.

    Take Roger Zelazny’s work, for example. Many of his stories and novels would be much less enjoyable to read without the backflips. Or Alfred Bester. “Fondly Fahrenheit” would not be that memorable of a story without the literary games he plays with point-of-view and so forth.

    Comment by Chris M. - September 12, 2015 11:16 am

  105. Jay, it sounds like you have the definite idea that wowing the audience is not a long and storied part of the art of storytelling.

    How much of it should be “wow” versus how much of it should be “these are the things that happened, isn’t that interesting?” is clearly a matter of taste and opinion, and one that doesn’t just vary from person to person but from story to story.

    But the idea that an award can or should police this preference, even loosely is very strange… and the idea that an award that is about celebrating the storyteller and the art of storytelling would do so stranger still.

    Here’s the thing: all the pro-Puppy articles I’ve read talk about wanting to read things that are fun and exciting, right?

    So why are we talking about an award that would prescribe a precise manner in which this is fun is allowed to be had?

    Heck, if you asked me which general side of the Puppy debate would be more likely to propose an award system with rules designed to weed out people using “cheap tricks” to wow the audience, I would have guessed it would have been some insufferable snob (and yes, there are such people) on the anti side, not the Puppies, with their claims to populism and disdain for anything that smacks of pretension.

    TL;DR – We can all agree that SF/F stories in general should be exciting. But it does not follow from this that we must define what kinds of excitement are genuine/permissible.

    Comment by alexandraerin - September 12, 2015 11:18 am

  106. […] Guy wants the “Insert Here” award for SF&F Storytelling. As opposed to… literally every other award in SF&F, which somehow manage to not be about […]

    Pingback by The “Insert Here” Awards, and Trying to Keep SF/F Perpetually 12 Years Old | Everything I do is SO fucking amazing that sparks are going to shoot out of your eyes. - September 12, 2015 11:21 am

  107. No. As I mentioned, I decided after reading Fuzzy Nation and getting chased off his left-wing blog a few times that I wasn’t going to give Scalzi another dime. As for Leckie’s work, it hadn’t made my reading list before I found out about the gimmick, and my limited reading time has other demands on it (like catching up on the five 1632 books waiting on my shelf).

    On that subject, I do have things to do away from the computer today (specifically, a car that needs a cooling system flush and a new thermostat), so for folks commenting here for the first time, your comments might not get moderated as quickly as I’ve tried to do to this point. Rest assured that you will be approved as soon as i get the opportunity; the moderation is applied to all posts with links and all folks who post here for the first time, by the site settings. I do not moderate out posts on this discussion that are not obvious commercial spam.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 12, 2015 11:24 am

  108. Chris M: Exactly!

    If you ask me to name an SF/F author worthy of an award for “storytelling”, Cat Valente is actually one of the first names that would pop into my head.

    Because her books aren’t just “here are things that happened, in the order they happened”. That’s not a story. That’s not storytelling. That’s plotting.

    If you took a plot summary and gave it to ten writers and told them to follow it exactly, you would get ten different–potentially very different–stories, and if we were to judge which one was best, we would not be looking at which one tells the best story but which one tells the story best. And it would be down to which literary devices work for us, which conceits appeal to us, which voices we find engaging, which tricks we find exciting, which emotional beats we feel deep inside ourselves…

    Nobody would have read A Series of Unfortunate Events if it were just a series of unfortunate events. It’s the way in which they were related that made them entertaining.

    These things, these things are storytelling. And Jay, whether or not you think you care about them, you do. You just have your set of beats that you respond to, your set of tricks that are so familiar to you they appear straightforward and natural.

    It’s okay to think your personal tastes are better than everyone else’s. I mean, I’d say it’s a jerk move, but I think it’s one everybody pulls to some extent.

    But the idea that people should be prepared to sign away their personal tastes for what makes for good storytelling and sign off on yours in order to be recognized as part of “all of fandom” and have their tastes endorsed as having merit?


    Comment by alexandraerin - September 12, 2015 11:31 am

  109. Jay: then how can you /possibly/ say that the “message” ie the backflip overwhelms the rest of the story? You haven’t read it! You have no idea whether or not it does! You are operating on received information and not your own judgment. You cannot have one single opinion on those books because /you have not read them/.

    And yes, even on gender panels, there is almost always one person with quite conservative views. Often enough, it’s even a woman.

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 12, 2015 11:42 am

  110. @Jay (not reading Ancillary Justice and Lock In)

    It’s exactly as fair for you to criticize the gimmicks (as you see them) in Ancillary Justice and Lock In, books unread, as it would be for me to, book unread, criticize Monster Hunter Nation for being too much gunporn.

    In other words, its not, really.

    I thank you for your response way way way up above regarding the Web of Trust. I disagree strongly with you, though–your system as proposed is rife for a lot of drama. And all for what? To vote on this award? If I have to prove to enough people in a web of trust not to downvote me so I keep a positive score–I’ve got other things to write, to photograph, to do. I’ll just leave you to it.I suspect a lot of other people would do the same–and your award, intended for fandom to participate in, will just be a small, self selecting set of fandom.

    Comment by Princejvstin - September 12, 2015 11:49 am

  111. I wish you would look at Ancillary Justice, Jay. It is cool, a gripping story of the shattered remnant of a once-vast AI out to destroy the ruler of an evil empire the remnant once loyally served. The Raadchai are basically Romans In Space, with all the wonder and horror that suggests, and Breq’s calm narrative voice makes the presentation of the evil that much starker, the way an emotionally cool detective’s narration can highlight a story’s crime and vice.

    And something I haven’t seen anyone else bring up: absolutely nothing in the first two books, at least, weighs against a reader deciding that the Raadchai handling with gender is one more sign of how far they and their ruler have cut themselves off from the world. It’s not that everyone in Leckie’s future treats gender a particular way – it’s a thing the Raadchai do, and they are bad guys.

    Reading Leckie gave me the same kind of thrill at enlarged horizons that Niven and Pournelle did with A Mote In God’s Eye, that Simmons did with the Hyperion Cantos, and that Banks did with Use of Weapons – she showed me something dazzling and new, yet fully anchored in a tradition I love. Breq’s quest to take down an evil empress is a familiar seed, from which Leckie cultivated something startling and vigorous.

    Comment by Bruce B. - September 12, 2015 12:01 pm

  112. I can totally understand bouncing off a book because the writer chose to write it in a way that is unappealing to you. There are lots of books that I have not finished because I just found certain choices the writer made to be too annoying to get past. Other books I have forced myself to slog through because I found enough of worth in them to overcome the things that I did not like. The “Chronicles of Thomas Covenant,” for example.

    However, I don’t think it is at all fair to assume that one person’s particular set of preferences are the definition of good storytelling, and that writers who do not meet these preferences are therefore using gimmicks to push political messages, or care more about politics than stories, or so on. It is also not fair to accuse the people who do enjoy these stories and nominated or voted for them for awards of doing so for any reason other than that they esteemed these works very highly.

    I really don’t think any of the hundreds of people who nominated Ancillary Justice for the Hugos, or who then voted for it to win, did so because they thought it was an okay but unexceptional book that toed the right political line on gender. I think they voted for it because they thought it was a really great book.

    Comment by Chris M. - September 12, 2015 12:07 pm

  113. How about “The Tea Bag”. It describes this sub-catagory of SF/F fans and properly frames the works you want to see nominated. Or… “The Dragon’s Tea Bag”.

    Comment by SJW75201 - September 12, 2015 12:23 pm

  114. “Leaving out the gender of the protagonist is fully as gimmicky as writing a novel in English without using the letter e.”

    How do you feel about love songs that just use I/me and you as pronouns, and don’t specify gender? Is that a gimmick?

    Comment by nm - September 12, 2015 12:25 pm

  115. […] appear that those who failed to game the system of the Hugos don’t read their own PR. Over at Black Gate there is a proposal for a new (name as yet to be determined) award. At first blush I say, […]

    Pingback by What Rubbish | Better than salt money - September 12, 2015 12:34 pm

  116. So I read a lot of stuff because it’s fun and a light read and I enjoy. But seriously Jay, that’s not the only reason to read things. I also read to be challenged and get that sensawunder feeling I had as a kid and I do not get that from more of the same derivative crap that makes me feel good.

    I eat the occasional fast food burger too but I much prefer a nice little bistro with an eclectic and ever changing menu.

    I want to be challenged. I want my assumptions questioned. I want to read stuff unlike anything I’ve read before. And I want all that because otherwise I’ll get jaded and old.

    Ancilliary Justice was a good book. I’ve not read Lock In because Scalzi is a fast food burger author. He writes stuff that sells in boat loads and makes him money. He’s damn good at it and I might take one of his in my reading pile when I go to Mexico for a week of drinking and lying by the pool. But we should not consistently award stuff like that.

    Justice won everything because of the world building.

    You know I couldn’t tell you anything about Ann Leckie’s politics. I don’t care but I know for a fact I want to know what is lurking on the otherside of the black jump gate that’s she’s going to
    Reveal in the last book.

    Comment by daveon - September 12, 2015 1:25 pm

  117. So Scalzi’s take on Fuzzy Nation was left wing? And the original wasn’t?

    I can’t help but feel we read different books.

    Comment by daveon - September 12, 2015 1:28 pm

  118. Jay,

    I you want to show examples of where gimmicks or message blocks out good story telling, please do that regarding books you have actually read.

    Oh, btw, I don’t read Scalzi myself. I read his first Old Mans War, but it wasn’t my style at all. I *did* read the Ancilliary-books and found them quite ok. No message blocking out the story telling and what you call a “gimmick” was well integrated into the story.

    Comment by Hampus - September 12, 2015 1:32 pm

  119. “Yes, I can make Chris into anything I want. The problem is that my vision may not be compatible with the author’s intent, and may lead me places he didn’t want me to go.”

    Does it bother you that Heinlein did much the same thing with a few of his characters? Such as not revealing that Johnny Rico was Filipino until near the end, or never declaring in the book that Rod Walker from Tunnel In The Sky was black?

    Comment by PeterM - September 12, 2015 1:42 pm

  120. Lets take Heinlein as en example. What Heinlein writes is more or less message fiction. Not even interwoven into the story, he also assigns one of his characters the role of teacher that continuously holds lectures to the other characters.

    So we have Stranger in A Strange Land. It won a Hugo 1962. A Hugo for message fiction. But as you said, the story was great and I didn’t feel that the message was in the way of the story.

    Then we have Farnhams Freehold, written only two years later. I found it horrible, could hardly finnish it. It grated against me. The message was in the way of the story.

    But you know, they were very alike. No one more of a message story than the other. It just that I hated one message and thought the other was kind of cool.


    And here is the thing: I think many other people thought as me. Stranger won a Hugo. Farnhams did not. But in your proposed system, NO ONE of these would have won. Both would have been removed from the ballot because of containing messages.

    So thats why I’m against your rule. And prefer to let people decide.

    Comment by Hampus - September 12, 2015 2:00 pm

  121. You’re trying to name an award for story telling, suitable for friends of the Sad Puppies?
    How the “Old Yeller” awards?

    Comment by billstewart - September 12, 2015 2:00 pm

  122. If merely questioning our conception of gender makes ANCILLARY JUSTICE ‘message fiction’, Jay, then what do you think of Heinlein’s ALL YOU ZOMBIES?

    Personally I would argue the only political message in ANCILLARY JUSTICE is ‘fascism is bad’, which I think we can probably all agree with.

    Comment by Connor Goldsmith - September 12, 2015 2:04 pm

  123. […] (10) Cat Valente in a comment on Jay Maynard’s award proposal at Black Gate […]

    Pingback by Pixel Scroll 9/11 ETA: The Scrollers Support Me in Email | File 770 - September 12, 2015 2:06 pm

  124. Look, I don’t know why I’m trying to help you guys, but it should obviously be the Sirius Awards. Stars, puppies, and Serious Stories.

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 12, 2015 2:07 pm

  125. Jay: re: not having read “Lock In” and “Ancillary Justice”

    So you couldn’t have checked out Lock In from the library, instead of giving John Scalzi any of your money? Come on.

    The admission that you haven’t read either one of those books, frankly, makes me lose all respect for you. Do you know why? Because I read all the stuff on the Hugo ballot, even stuff I ended up not liking AT ALL. (In the case of John C Wright, I literally had to force myself to read it. I did it anyway.) I wanted to be able to say, honestly, if asked, that I did indeed read it. And I definitely had better things to do, just as you say you do.

    And now you’re complaining about these two books being full of “message fiction”? I’m sorry, but if you haven’t read them, you don’t know what you’re talking about, and you lose all credibility with me and I would venture many other people.

    Comment by redheadedfemme - September 12, 2015 3:06 pm

  126. My local library doesn’t seem to have Lock In.

    And I am going by the very things that the works are lauded to the skies for having. Ancillary Justice, in particular: everything you read about it starts out – and many never say anything but – how the society depicted is post-gendered and how Leckie shows that by using feminine pronouns everywhere. What conclusion am I to draw?

    So should I believe what everyone’s lauding the works for, or not?

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 12, 2015 3:11 pm

  127. Cat, that name actually isn’t in use, to my considerable surprise. I’m not sure I want to invoke the Puppy campaigns in the name – after all, this is about an award that more than just Puppies can agree on – it’s certainly an evocative one on its own merits.

    (And if it’s about a Puppy-specific award, then why should I listen to all the complaining that’s gone on here int eh past day or so?)

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 12, 2015 3:13 pm

  128. Jay, the complaining is because you are representing it as being an award that all fandom can agree on, but you’re making co-signing Puppy beliefs and tastes a precondition for participation.

    You’ve got rhetoric (“EVERYONE WELCOME! ALL OF FANDOM! ROOM FOR EVERYONE!”) that doesn’t match your actions (trust system, overlords, a loyalty oath that affirms that existing awards are handed out for the wrong reasons).

    You can solve that problem by changing your rhetoric to match your actions, or your actions to match your rhetoric.

    I don’t honestly think anyone much cares which. If you just drop the illusion that you’re creating an award for all fans of great storytelling and embrace the idea that you’re catering to particular fans of particular types of storytelling, I’m sure most your critics will be just as happy as if you were to make the illusion into reality.

    Make an award for the kinds of stories you like, or make an award for all fans of storytelling.

    But whichever you do, do it with all due honesty to both yourself and the fandom at large.

    Comment by alexandraerin - September 12, 2015 3:19 pm

  129. If it’s about more than the Puppy campaigns, then possibly not running down all the Puppy talking points and asking people to sign onto a statement agreeing with the Puppies in order to kickstart an in-group vote qualification system is probably a party foul.

    Evocative on the merits, though, that’s me.

    Also, the AI angle is what I’ve seen a lot of reviews talking about. Sure, the pronoun thing gets brought up, because it hasn’t been done in awhile, and adds to the whole New Wave feel of the book. I was profoundly reminded of Delany, Banks, and Dick while reading it. And if /you’d/ read it you’d know that the pronoun use isn’t throughout the book. People other than the Raadchai don’t use it. Because they are not part of that culture. It seems redundant to argue for the alienness of aliens…

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 12, 2015 3:24 pm

  130. @Jay

    You should believe the evidence of your own eyes, garnered by reading.

    Honestly, if you read Ancillary Justice and hate it, that’s fine with me. I read John C Wright’s stuff and hated that. But I think it’s a tad hypocritical of you to parrot what other people say about Leckie and Scalzi without seeing for yourself whether it’s true or not.

    Comment by redheadedfemme - September 12, 2015 3:27 pm

  131. Why not just call the awards “The Maynards”?

    Comment by firstgentrekkie - September 12, 2015 3:33 pm

  132. “What conclusion am I to draw?”

    Maybe you should wait to draw a conclusion on whether or not an award-winning work deserved its award until you’ve actually read it.

    Comment by Chris Battey - September 12, 2015 3:35 pm

  133. I got curious, and looked up reviews of Ancillary Justice. This is all from the first page of results.

    NPR: “A space opera that skillfully handles both choruses and arias, Ancillary Justice is an absorbing thousand-year history, a poignant personal journey, and a welcome addition to the genre.”

    IO9: “First-time novelist Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice is a tale of war crimes whose astropolitical scope is stunning. It’s a military thriller, a mystery, and a very complicated love story about sentient starships and hive minds in an alien civilization that looks a lot like something out of Earth’s history.”

    Strang Horizons: “The protagonist and first-person narrator used to be a spaceship called Justice of Toren, a military vessel in service to a culture called the Radch. The Radchaai are an aggressively expansive superpower who run a nearly dystopian hierarchical state based on the total obedience and total surveillance of their own population. Everything outside their borders is, to them, innately uncivilized, and must be brought under control and turned into a part of their own culture in order to be seen as truly human, let alone truly civilized. In one thread of the book, we meet Justice of Toren in the middle of an annexation. It has recently helped conquer and subjugate the planet Shis’urna for the Radch, and is now part of the efforts to make Shis’urna’s people culturally and socially Radchaai. The ship, an artificial intelligence, has as parts of itself not only the ship’s computer banks but also many human bodies. These bodies, the ship’s ancillaries, are selected from prisoners taken on conquered planets, their original minds wiped, and the ship’s mind neurosurgically inserted. Justice of Toren’s One Esk ancillary platoon becomes entangled, along with the platoon’s human lieutenant, in the pre-existing racial politics of Shis’urna, which are complicated by political maneuverings among the Radchaai.

    “In the book’s other thread, some twenty years later, Justice of Toren’s mind has been reduced to existing in one ancillary. Separated from the rest of herself and from everyone human she ever knew, she literally stumbles over the barely breathing body of a different human lieutenant who served in her one thousand years ago, and who has been missing since an ill-fated military action at that time. She is engaged in a vital quest and in something of a hurry, but it seems unlikely to her that the appearance of the lieutenant is a coincidence, as Radchaai do not believe that coincidence really exists. She spends most of the rest of the novel trying to figure out what is going on, and in taking care of the lieutenant while concealing the nature of her quest. Her objectives, of course, have to do with the reasons she is not a ship anymore and what happened during the conquest of Shis’urna.” “Ancillary Justice does many things extremely well. Told in the first person, it’s a narrative in two parts: the present, which comprises a thriller plot (among other things) in which Breq, the last surviving ancillary soldier from the now-destroyed vessel Justice of Toren seeks to acquire a weapon with which Breq can kill the Lord of the Radch; and the past, where we learn what happened to set Breq on the path towards a quixotic and at first glance unattainable revenge. Leckie’s prose is clear and muscular, with a strong forward impetus, like the best of thriller writing. It grabs you and urges you onwards. And her interleaved narrative is both clever and well-executed: clever, because alternating past and present heightens the novel’s tension, ratcheting up the what happens next? factor, and well-executed because most of the breaks and pauses seem entirely natural, rather than forced.

    “It’s a good thriller, even if some events come together in ways that appear too easily coincidental: Leckie writes a rousing climax and sticks the dismount.”

    Locus: “Another side of the novel’s ambition is the way it is deeply engaged with the tropes and issues of the science fiction of the last forty years or so. As I read, I made a mental list of writers I was reminded of: Susan Matthews (for the rigid, expansionist interstellar regime and the variegated human subtypes), Ursula K. Le Guin (gender-identity ambiguities and the frozen landscape of the opening chapters), C.J. Cherryh (estranged and/or estranging characters and exotic social frameworks), plus hints of Iain M. Banks and Neal Asher (AI-run starships and habitats, cyborgish characters, tough-minded use of violence). Which is not to reduce what Leckie has built here, but to offer some map coordinates that might help locate the work in its genre space.

    “And that genre space is quite engaging: a revenge-quest intertwined with a set of figure-my-culture puzzles wrapped around a reluctant-buddies adventure-travelogue, climaxing in a series of revelations and action-movie physical confrontations. The complexity and strangeness of the world that generates all this requires a degree of patience at the beginning – there is a large dose of guess-my-world in the book’s DNA, and some of the questions one puzzles over are necessarily left unanswered for some time. But patience is rewarded. This is not entry-level SF, and its payoff is correspondingly greater because of that.”

    I could go on at some length. But Jay, really, I feel bed telling someone who’s a fan of Heinlein, Piper, Asimov, and the like, to check your facts. When emotions run high, don’t let them rule. Review the data. Yes, every review I’ve quoted from talks about the language of gender in Ancillary Justice. Pretty much every review of The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress and the Book of the New Sun talks about language in them, too, and should. But that’s not all they talk about, as you can see.

    Review the data.

    Comment by Bruce B. - September 12, 2015 3:50 pm

  134. Re: Jay not bothering to read novels before condemning them, and their fans.

    You know why “If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love” has received so much Puppy hate?

    Not because it’s the Worst Story Ever. Not because it’s Message Fic. Not because it won a Hugo (it didn’t). It’s not because it’s Not SFF (many SFF works have mundane-world frames).

    So many puppies have criticized “Dinosaur” because it’s really, really short. So short that even the laziest reader in the world can be bothered read skim it.

    Comment by barrydeutsch - September 12, 2015 4:05 pm

  135. Barry I’ve read Dinosaur. It’s not SF/F. There’s nothing SF or fantasy about it. It’s just one woman trying to cope with her loss.

    And yes, it’s message fiction: “Gay-bashing is bad.” That happens to be a message I agree with. Still doesn’t make it SF/F. No matter what the Nebula jury says.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 12, 2015 4:09 pm

  136. Well, I’d argue Gravity isn’t SFF. It’s fiction that takes place in orbit, but there’s nothing speculative or outside the real world in it at all. We can go to space now. Space alone no longer makes a work SFF.

    But guess who disagrees with me? Mostly everyone! Including Hugo voters who nominated it. And that’s cool because whether or not it’s SFF has literally no effect on me whatsoever.

    It can be fun to debate these things, rather than dreadful. A real conversation over coffee about whether Dinosaur is SFF sounds like a fantastic afternoon to me.

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 12, 2015 4:17 pm

  137. “whether or not it’s SFF has literally no effect on me whatsoever.”

    In general, that’s true. However, being SF/F is a threshold requirement for the Hugos, and a work that doesn’t meet that requirement isn’t one that should be awarded, no matter how good it is. The Hunt for Red October, for all that it’s a fantastic story well told, isn’t Hugo material for this reason.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 12, 2015 4:19 pm

  138. More good sf where you’d be doing readers a disservice not to talk a bunch about the language and how it connects with identity, and yet where there’s lots more to the story than that:

    * “Flowers For Algernon”
    * A Clockwork Orange
    * “Uncleftish Beholding”
    * “A Martian Odyssey”
    * Ringworld

    And a non-sf example:

    * Marathon Man

    Comment by Bruce B. - September 12, 2015 4:19 pm

  139. Jay, would you say The Princess Bride is a fantasy movie? the whole thing is a story that Columbo is telling to Wonder Years, so none of the speculative elements are “real”. Nothing actually happens except a grandfather reads a story.

    Let’s say we agree that TPB is not a fantasy movie, then, on that basis.

    What about The Princess Bride as a book? It employs a similar framing device, where rather than being told “this is what happened in a fantasy land”, the reader is simply told, “There is a book of fiction that says these things happened in a place.” The “fiction” in TPB isn’t that these fantastical events happened, but merely that there’s a story book that says they did.

    Do we then have to conclude that it’s not a fantasy story, either?

    How about every story that has a framing device and every fantastic element within happens inside the frame?

    If the captain of the arctic expedition in Frankenstein had not actually encountered the creature and we had no evidence that our storyteller was anything but a delirious fanatic, could we call Frankenstein a genre story? Or would it simply be literary drama?

    Questions like these are why I will fight anyone who says that …Dinosaur… is not a fantasy story. It’s not SF, the text is quite clear about that, but it is fantasy. It’s a piece of text that tells us a fantasy story.

    No, none of the fantastical things “really happen”… but that doesn’t make it not a fantasy story, it just makes it a work of fiction. If we’re proceeding under the assumption that there is some sort of literary multiverse theory at work where a work of fantasy is any work in which the fantastical elements are real within the world of the story… well, then there’s a world where the story the woman at the bedside is telling is true, too.

    If you read …Dinosaur…, you have read a fantasy story. It was framed within a device, but then, so is every story… even if the device is “Person narrates everything that happens to them.” or “Omniscient third party relates everything.”

    Someone is alwyas telling the story, in some manner.

    So that only question that matters is: is the story they’re telling a fantasy one?

    Comment by alexandraerin - September 12, 2015 4:29 pm

  140. Barry I’ve read Dinosaur. It’s not SF/F. There’s nothing SF or fantasy about it.

    Of course there is. The story features a singing dinosaur performing on Broadway – how is that not SFF?

    Of course, by asking that, I’m being a little tongue in cheek, because I’m fairly certain you’d answer something along the lines of “within the secondary world created by the story, the fantastic element wasn’t real.”

    (Perhaps that’s not what you’d say – but it’s certainly what some others have said. Anyway, I trust that if I’m totally off-base you’ll correct me.)

    The problem with that critique is that many widely acknowledged SFF stories include a mundane-world framing device.

    For example, Tiptree’s “The Girl Who Was Plugged In,” which won a best novella Hugo. In that story, someone is talking to a stock broker in the present, telling the stock broker a story. All the science fiction elements are contained in that story-within-a-story.

    Some other works in which “within the secondary world created by the story, the fantastic element wasn’t real”: The Princess Bride (all the fantastic elements were in a story read to a sick child by a relative), the film The Wizard of Oz (the fantastic elements were all a dream), and Alice in Wonderland (another dream story),

    There are other examples – Rosemary’s Baby (the entire thing is revealed to be just a dream in book 2), Gaiman’s Mirrormask movie, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee In King Author’s Court, Robert E. Howard’s The Tower of the Elephant (a borderline case; Conan realizes at the end that the fantastic things that happened to him might have been a delusion); The Arabian Nights; Shelley’s Frankenstein, in which the SF elements are not merely a story in a story, but a story in a story in a story.

    The SFF elements in “Dinosaur” (and the other works I mentioned) aren’t “real” within the story, but they are essential to the experience of reading the story, and they cannot be removed without making the story into something substantively different. That’s what makes “Dinosaur” SFF.

    Comment by barrydeutsch - September 12, 2015 4:41 pm

  141. …also, correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure the plot for The Hunt for Red October revolved around the ramifications of an experimental (and not yet extant in the real world) propulsion system.

    The plot both centered around the use of this device, and its implications on the futrue of the cold war-era world in which it was set.

    We call it a “techno-thriller” because it’s politics and spies more than “sense of wonder”, but if it had been nominated for an SF award when it came out, I think you’d have a hard time arguing that it doesn’t actually meet the bar on any basis other than “it doesn’t feel like SF”.

    All of which goes to show how little percentage there is in splitting hairs over what is “really” SF/F and what isn’t. Everybody will have their own definitions, and parts of them will go down to gut feeling/emotional resonance.

    Trying to build “safeguards” into an award against the “wrong” things being labeled SF/F is begging for trouble. Why not just accept that everyone’s definition has enough validity to at least have their vote counted? If most people agree with you that The Hunt for Red October or …Dinosaur… aren’t SF/F stories, then the results will reflect that.

    What is gained by trying to answer those questions in advance?

    Comment by alexandraerin - September 12, 2015 4:43 pm

  142. I think I’m wrapping up for the time being. A lot of this feels, unhappily, like talking to someone in the grip of intense clinical depression, with that horrible symptom where it makes you feel intensely rational and insightful, when you’re actually stuck in a mental rut, missing lots of the obvious, and in general thinking much worse than you usually do. So much Puppy-related advocacy and exposition reminds me of those times when I’ve been the one in the grip of it, and having to rely entirely on memory and calculated acts of will to override the completely real-feeling and tremendously intense conviction of being especially clear-headed and aware. The prevailing Puppy sentiment of being the rational adults in the face of childish emotion-driven mobs is, from where I sit, precisely, 180 degrees wrong, and I expect/fear that the unexamined emotions running amok through all Puppy plans will doom this venture along with others.

    But I’d like it to succeed, because I think there’s room for it. I just don’t have any more to add right now in the face of resolute insistence on memory filtered through injured recollection as opposed to a fresh look at objective facts.

    Comment by Bruce B. - September 12, 2015 4:53 pm

  143. Another story with that framing device is The Lego Movie, which somehow made it onto the Puppy slate despite the Puppy hatred of Dinosaur and their insistence that said framing device made it not sf/f.

    Comment by Meredith - September 12, 2015 5:21 pm

  144. It amazes me how quickly it gets away from any conversation that Dinosaur did not win a Hugo. So the system worked, from your perspective. The story didn’t win. What is the problem?

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 12, 2015 5:38 pm

  145. The voting qualification system sucks dead bunnies through a straw; if you want to say “this is a way to have special awards for me and my friends”, trust levels are *the* way to go. Paying $50 for a supporting membership is less than optimal (though what could be more capitalist than a poll tax?) but you don’t need the approval of the SMOF cabal to write a check.

    Comment by Orc - September 12, 2015 5:47 pm

  146. Your suggested Web Of Trust system is fundamentally equivalent to “A Cabal, And Trusted Friends Of The Cabal”. If that’s what you want, have fun, but don’t expect it to represent Fandom At Large because it’s designed to be the opposite, whether that’s your intention or not. (By contrast, Phil Zimmermann’s Web Of Trust in PGP, which is where the name comes from, was intended to let you trust that the person you were sending a message to was the person you *thought* you were sending it to, not some impostor pretending to be them.)

    As far as message fiction goes, I suppose Kratman’s “Big Boys Don’t Cry” could be read as a brilliant parody of message fiction, or as a part of the ongoing conversation that is science fiction, but to me it struck me as badly-written heavy-handed message fiction.

    By contrast, while I haven’t read more of Ancillary Justice than the excerpt in the Hugo Reader Packet, my reaction to the use of gender in language was mainly as a marker for “Alien aliens in this book are really alien”, and it was the “author seems to think that the ship enslaving people to become ancillaries isn’t any more problem than the Galactic Empire conquering planets” aspect I bounced off of (apparently if I’d read more of it, she does examine that issue, unlike so many MilSF authors who think that being “us” rather than “them” is justification for anything that “we” do in a Space War.)

    Comment by billstewart - September 12, 2015 6:32 pm

  147. (Looks like I can’t go back and fix typos; oh, wellll.)

    So I’d ended up voting for Ancillary Justice below Correia’s Warbound, which was lightweight comic books but lots of fun, and after voting was over I read the whole series, unlike Ancillary which I still have to go back and get. Unlike Beale, Torgersen, and Kratman, Correia’s got actual writing skills, but was running against better writers that year.

    Comment by billstewart - September 12, 2015 6:37 pm

  148. Bill, how is the web of trust described here different from PGP’s? That’s what it was modeled on. The idea is that it make it possible to verify that the voter is a real person and the vote is actually coming from them.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 12, 2015 7:12 pm

  149. Cat, there have been lots of comments about how “if <hated Puppy favorite> got nominated for a Hugo, the system’s broken!” The same thing goes for Dinosaur.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 12, 2015 7:13 pm

  150. Alexandra, I was under the impression that Red October‘s tunnel drive was in fact something that had been tried and rejected. “What we thought we were getting was a silent drive. What we really got was a new principle of hydrodynamics.”

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 12, 2015 7:16 pm

  151. […] cannot honestly and fairly make the claim that the only reason a convention would invite (for numerous years) a Hugo-winning, Nebula-winning, […]

    Pingback by Message Awards | Jer Lance - September 12, 2015 7:57 pm

  152. I’m mulling revisions to the proposal. I agree the Rationale needs to be rewritten to something that anti-Puppies can sign onto as well; I’m leaning toward mentioning the controversy, noting that the signatories do not agree on the causes or effects, and that we do all agree that an award for SF/F storytelling is worth doing anyway. (If you can’t sing onto this, then why are you trying to make the award work? I’m genuinely curious.)

    The web of trust needs some tuning, though I’m still convinced that it’s the most workable way to both verify that voters are real people, one to a ballot, and remove cost as a barrier to entry.

    The categories can be redone; I find it amusing that the folks over at File 770 are bashing me for drawing the boundary between SF and fantasy when my original proposal was to combine the two precisely so that the boundary need not be drawn! But all of that is negotiable.

    What’s not negotiable is celebrating the story in SF/F. That’s the entire point of these awards, and if it goes out the window, there’s no point to the rest of it.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 12, 2015 8:16 pm

  153. But, Jay…the Puppies broke the system to get their choices on the ballot. That’s not even under argument. It’s just a fact. Admitted, owned, done, and dusted. It’s not even remotely a comparable situation. Puppies ran a slate. Dinosaur wasn’t part of any slate because there were no slates before the Puppies–and I’m going to say right now that I will not discuss the canard that a grand conspiracy was at play. It wasn’t. If it was, the Puppy slate wouldn’t have mattered.

    So yeah, people say the system’s broken when X Puppy thing gets nominated–because the Puppies broke it. On purpose. It was an honor system. And now a new system has to be worked out. No one broke an existing system to get a nomination for that poor, beleaguered story that has to bear all the weight of argument because, I think Barry’s right, it’s short enough that no one can think of an excuse not to read it.

    So people liked Dinosaur, but not enough people to win it the award. That’s how it’s supposed to work. I’ve lost more Hugos than all the Puppy leaders put together, and never once have I attributed it to anything but the fact that I should have written something just a little better.

    The idea that a ballot should be five of the same kind of story is stultifying to me. Dinosaur is pretty unique, you have to give it that. Unique often gets a place on ballots. It doesn’t mean anything’s broken, it means the Hugos represent a broad spectrum of tastes. The same electorate that nominated dinosaur also nominated Torgersen’s The Chaplain’s Legacy. That’s what a spectrum looks like. Banishing literary fiction from SFF? That looks a cabbie throwing a punch because he imagines his ride thinks they’re better than him. Let the spectrum speak, for crying out loud.

    I do not understand the drive to limit people’s choices because you don’t like the ones they make.

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 12, 2015 8:17 pm

  154. Jay,

    No, you’re playing a shell game here. Cat addressed your concerns about ‘Dinosaur’; you don’t get to handwave that away by referring to ‘lots of comments’ without at least posting an example or two.

    Really Jay, it is plain to see you are not arguing from facts. Stop digging yourself deeper. Start by reading the works you criticise, address the points raised directly instead of handwaving, then at least I might start taking you seriously again.

    Comment by mvdwege - September 12, 2015 8:22 pm

  155. Cat: “the Puppies broke the system to get their choices on the ballot”

    This year. What about last year? The same thing was said about Correia’s story being nominated, and there were no slates.

    And people this year said “If they’d suggested 10 instead of 5, it wouldn’t have been a slate and everything would be fine!” But SP4 is going to have a list of 10, and they’re already being accused of pushing a slate and trying to crowd everyone else out. Someone, in all seriousness, suggested that they list 15 instead, and that would be all right. Does anyone really believe that?

    It’s just moving the goalposts.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 12, 2015 8:22 pm

  156. Jay–what do you mean there was no slate last year? This is Sad Puppies 3.

    You are moving the goalposts by addressing nothing of what I said and changing the subject to SP4, which no one is discussing. I’m tempted to answer your question, because there’s a pretty blindingly obvious answer, but it’s way off topic, so I’ll resist. Put the posts back on the field where everyone else is playing.

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 12, 2015 8:26 pm

  157. By “no slate last year” I was referring to SP2. Only one work was nominated, and it was blown out of the water.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 12, 2015 8:27 pm

  158. Jay–I suppose you can get to one if you forget Vox Day’s nomination that year.

    But that is also beside the point. You talked about all the comments (without evidence), and have wandered off into the thicket of a debate about the puppies that has already been had ad nauseum.I’ve said so many things here you haven’t addressed. You just keep bringing up new subjects. I know I’m a clever girl, but you can’t just want to hear my opinion on /everything/.

    My point about Dinosaur is that it lost so it should be no sweat off anyone’s nose. Instead it’s the focus of an incredible amount of rage. I don’t really understand it. How did you feel about the rest of the short story ballot that year? Selkie Stories Are for Losers? Ink Readers? Did you read The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere?

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 12, 2015 8:34 pm

  159. Re: Lock In

    Anyone who thinks that the main theme or message in Lock In has anything to do with gender hasn’t paid the slightest bit of attention. If you want to accuse Scalzi of including a SJW message to appease the politically correct, talk about disability instead. Its far more central and vital to the plot.

    Re: the Awards

    I think mentioning the controversy at all would be a really bad idea. Ignore it, drop anything that sounds too grudgey, don’t make anyone sign up to anything explicitly anti-Hugo’s, and focus on the positives. You want to highlight story, right? Talk about that! Talk about the sensawunda and excitement! But don’t put in anything negative for goodness sake. You’re trying to get people fired up and excited from all of fandom, don’t make people sign up to be part of a fannish argument that most of them probably haven’t even heard of, give them a reason to think its a super idea instead.

    Comment by Meredith - September 12, 2015 8:35 pm

  160. I’m going to reply to Jer Lance’s post on his blog here, since I can’t log into there to post a comment.

    1) The difference is that Heinlein’s work is message in service of story, not the other way around. The story is paramount. (And, for the record, I dislike Farnham’s Freehold; it’s one of the few Heinleins that’s not in my library.)

    2) I’m persuaded by comments above that Leckie’s work is at least worth a look. I’m still not going to give John Scalzi one red cent, though.

    3) “overlords in the form of a board of directors”? Jer, my friend, you should realize better than the vast majority of folks here that a board of directors isn’t an overlord of anything! I find it hilarious that you raise this objection and put a disclaimer at the bottom that you’re not speaking as a member of the board of directors. As for the web of trust…IIRC, there’s been a PGP key signing party at every single Penguicon. This is no different. And if the Judging Committee decides based on politics, they’re doing it wrong.
    (And I’m still very much interested in having the conversation you and a few others, and I agreed to have after the Penguicon board meeting.)

    5) I’m not going to comment on Leckie’s invitation further here, since I have already said I regretted bringing it up. We can talk about that when we talk, if you like.

    7) Yeah, Wright’s story sucked. I’ll agree that the Puppy slate could have been stronger. However, I don’t think it would have made one damned bit of difference. It would have still been buried under Deirdre Moen’s No Puppies slate.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 12, 2015 8:41 pm

  161. Oooh, what if the awards were ACTUALLY for story? Like…aspects of story?

    Best Ending
    Best Twist
    Best Worldbuilding
    Best Villain
    Best Action Scene
    Best Romantic Scene
    Best Death Scene
    Best Dramatic Speech
    Best Protagonist
    Best Climax
    Best Battle Sequence

    I could actually get CRAZY excited about awards like that. And they probably would sell books like crazy. Without spoilers, knowing a book won an award for Best Ending would make me pick it up in a heartbeat! Plus, you would know damn well people had read the books. There would be so much discussion!

    There I go, getting excited about a doomed idea.

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 12, 2015 8:41 pm

  162. @Cat Valente

    Gosh, that would honestly be really cool.

    Comment by Meredith - September 12, 2015 8:49 pm

  163. Meredith: Right? Man, if I had the money to start an award I think I would do it. I get excited just thinking about what this would do to my To Read Pile.

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 12, 2015 8:53 pm

  164. Sad Puppies 2 had 8 things nominated, by the way, including one that got disqualified.

    Comment by Meredith - September 12, 2015 8:58 pm

  165. Hm. Interesting, Cat. I could get behind that as well, especially since boring message fiction would have little of such worthy of commendation. (And it neatly avoids the SF/F boundary, to boot.)

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 12, 2015 8:58 pm

  166. […] Jay Maynard comes up with a plan over at Black Gate on how such an award might be run. Apparently it involves a secret cabal to decide on a ballot that only people they like would then be allowed to vote on. Whatever floats one’s boat, I guess. […]

    Pingback by Weekend Links: September 12, 2015 | SF Bluestocking - September 12, 2015 8:59 pm

  167. Way to get a jab in there, Jay.

    Now that I think about it, you do not have permission to use my award idea.

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 12, 2015 9:00 pm

  168. *sigh*

    Your idea is genuinely new and novel, and worthy of consideration. If a piece doesn’t have interesting endings or worldbuilding or action scenes or twists, or any of the things you list, it’s going to be pretty boring, isn’t it? Take, for example, Pratchett and Baxter’s The Long Earth. What a snoozefest. I can’t think of anything it has that would be worthy of nomination in any of the categories you mention.

    I genuinely like it, and if I offended you by pointing out that the kinds of things that Puppies dislike aren’t likely to have it, then I apologize, because that was not my intent.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 12, 2015 9:06 pm

  169. I appreciate the reasoned response (especially considering, in true ranty form, I wasn’t being especially “conversational”, which is the main reason I didn’t just post it here)…my thoughts:

    1) I feel like this is a distinction without a difference. Because you don’t enjoy a story, your *opinion* is that it was all message without story. I think the frustrating part for me is that it’s CLEARLY opinion-based, but treated by you and many others as fact. Add to that the frustrating assertion that I couldn’t enjoy the story without it being for political reasons…because you didn’t like it? Because the message interfered *for you*?

    2) Fair, and a matter of preference. I find myself disinclined to add money to OSC’s wallet so that he can in turn use it to finance things I disagree with. I’d never argue with you on that point…I consider “voting with one’s wallet” to be the greatest power we have.

    3) As a member of various boards of directors, there is no question that we they are, indeed, overlords. At the best of times, one hopes that they are benevolent and cater to the will of their constituency, but that isn’t always (or even often) true. But let’s not get it twisted: this is a board of directors SPECIFICALLY governing a award granting body. Directly. It is, in the most literal sense I can imagine, a closed cabal. I’m not even saying it’s wrong to have one…but I am pointing out that the irony is a bit syrupy thick for my tastes. (And I, too, would like to continue that conversation…as would the board. Would you mind terrible emailing me at jer@ the convention to which we refer? I’d love to schedule something.)

    5) I did not see that, but I do appreciate the position. Thank you.

    7) No doubt. While I could not, in good faith, vote along those lines (I, personally, voted works under ‘No Award’ that I thought were entirely not Hugo-worthy, which left only 2 categories without award entirely on my ballot), I entirely understand the desire to use one’s vote to express their violent distaste for the SP/RP behavior. I don’t doubt that most or all of those categories would have been buried even without such terribly written works (in many cases); but I try not to judge too harshly how vigorously someone defends themselves when attacked–if I bloody your nose while you’re trying to brain me, I don’t feel that I owe you an apology, you know?

    Comment by jer_ - September 12, 2015 9:07 pm

  170. @Cat
    I adore the idea for awards for elements of a story…now how do we make this happen!

    Comment by jer_ - September 12, 2015 9:10 pm

  171. Jer, the board in this proposal is there because a 501(c)(3) foundation is required by law to have one. That does not mean at all it would interfere in the actual awards. Take your own experience. The board of which you are a member takes great pains not to interfere with the running of the con, right? Why should this one be any different?

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 12, 2015 9:13 pm

  172. Jer– Well, you need a couple of administrators to gin up a website and run the thing, access to a large community online to hash out the rules and categories and how to make it fair, for example, for both long and short fiction, and to design a nominating/awarding process, money for award trophies because it’s no fun without a statue, a con willing to host an award ceremony, and publicity. And, you know, a name, which Jay knows all too well is a toughie.

    Starting a new award ain’t easy.

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 12, 2015 9:18 pm

  173. For that matter, Cat, going about it the way you suggest also greatly lessens the need for a Judging Committee. I’d take a list like that, and add awards for Best Story, Best YA Story, and Best Series, and call it good, doing away with the medium-specific stuff altogether.

    The more I think about that, the better I like it – because I think it really can be something that both sides can agree on, even if they don’t agree on the stories that deserve the accolades.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 12, 2015 9:31 pm

  174. I am seriously considering trying to figure out a way to do it.

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 12, 2015 9:35 pm

  175. Hrmm…I think I’d be willing to invest (time, capital, what have you) in an award along these lines. Consider me a willing conspirator!

    Comment by jer_ - September 12, 2015 9:44 pm

  176. Jer: do you still have my contact info?

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 12, 2015 9:46 pm

  177. I think so, I literally just sent an email to someone that is *hopefully* you!

    Comment by jer_ - September 12, 2015 9:50 pm

  178. @Cat—I’ve stayed out of the fray because I want to reduce my flame throwing sessions. I like that idea about story awards though. THAT is something that all of fandom could contribute to. It is a great idea.

    @jer—I agree with you about message stories. Cat sounds like she and I are miles apart about “good fiction”. If you look at “Flowers for Algernon”, which was message fiction, I don’t see how “The Water That Falls On You From Nowhere” can even compare with it. Still, people voted it as the best of 2014. I don’t like the No Award idea. I think that it would be better if there were degrees of awards depending on percentages of votes won. That way everyone who was nominated wins but the real cream rises to higher levels. Sure, some people felt like they were punched in the nose, but the Sad Puppies felt they had been punched too. I’m glad that you can recognize that there are differences in choices people make. I may not like “Water from Nowhere” but I wouldn’t want it to be ruined or non awarded just because it didn’t appeal to me. All voters are partisans to some degree.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 12, 2015 9:57 pm

  179. WA: I agree about Cat’s suggestion, but it seems I’ve managed to take myself out of any hope of joining in…and, for the record, I will honor her wishes.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 12, 2015 10:06 pm

  180. Jay: I appreciate that respect. And if I somehow manage to get it off the ground, you are more than welcome to campaign and vote and take part in the discussion/design process.

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 12, 2015 10:13 pm

  181. Jay wrote:

    if I offended you by pointing out that the kinds of things that Puppies dislike aren’t likely to have it, then I apologize, because that was not my intent.

    As the example of John Wright shows, many puppies (although perhaps not you) DO like “things that Puppies [claim to] dislike,” as long as they come from a conservative writer.

    Also, “Ancillary Justice” has nearly all the elements on Cat’s alternative awards list (including an incredible, and original, villain). And most puppies loathed that book. Although maybe they haven’t actually read it.

    Regarding “Dinosaur”:

    And yes, it’s message fiction: “Gay-bashing is bad.” That happens to be a message I agree with.

    The “it’s about gay-bashing” interpretation belongs exclusively to conservatives who contempt-read it looking for a political hook to hang their hate on, rather than reading the story without injecting politics into it.

    In the entire story, there are literally two words which refer to sexual orientation, and one (“sissy”) is borderline. I could strike both words out and almost no one would notice. So how can they be “the message”?

    You’re right about one thing: politics do get in the way of “Dinosaur’s” story.

    But the problem isn’t Rachel Swirsky’s politics.

    The problem is that there are readers, like you, who can’t put partisan politics aside and just read a story – or at least, they can’t do that if they’ve heard that the story is “politically correct” or “SJW message fiction” or whatever other trite political phrases you prefer.

    I don’t think that someone who cannot competently understand a 2000 word story if it comes from a left-wing author, is a credible person to run an award representing all of fandom.

    I hope your awards succeed. But – especially since you’re including a judging committee who are there, in your words, to weed out “politically correct message fiction,” which as we’ve seen in this thread means “any left wing fiction at all” – I doubt anyone will see your awards as anything but the special awards for Puppies.

    Comment by barrydeutsch - September 12, 2015 10:34 pm

  182. I’m afraid I’m with GRRM on this one.

    As long as you bookend the award between your paranoid persecution complex vis-à-vis the Hugo awards it is going to be doomed to fail (like the puppy slates have failed for the last three years), and I would make it easy for nominees to opt out of it altogether, because that is what they will do if signing onto the award means supporting your views.

    Other people have already pointed out how the “no social justice” policy bars some of the best science fiction from the last century from the award (starting all the way back with “War of the Worlds”). That’s going to be an issue for you.

    There is a surprising amount of back and forth on the name for this contest, what with all the good author and character names being taken, but there is an entire universe of ineffectual deluded characters who don’t realize that they are on the wrong side that you could draw from that reflect both the spirit and the letter of the award. You could call it:

    “The Bill Ferny”
    “The Delores Umbrage”
    “The Admiral Ozzel”

    Comment by Mary Nevlan - September 12, 2015 11:28 pm

  183. Jay says, re: the main character’s gender not being specified in Lock In: “That’s a prime example of a literary gimmick there to push an SJW-approved message.”

    OR, it’s an exploration of something that’s already a reality in the world we live in — we don’t know the gender of a great many of the people we communicate with every day.

    There are at least 15 (I stopped counting) people participating in this very comments thread whose usernames give no indication whether they are male or female. All we have to go on are their words.

    Now, I’ll admit that I haven’t read Lock In yet. It’s working its way up my TBR list, but time is limited. But my understanding is that the main character is someone who only interacts with others in virtual reality. The people they interact with don’t know their gender unless they choose to make it known. (And it’s not farfetched that they wouldn’t — there are plenty of reasons why people do this in our world, ranging from just not really caring to trying to make oneself less vulnerable to harrassment and worse.) And it’s kind of interesting to think about that, and about how it changes things when that’s a common feature of how people interact in day-to-day life.

    It seems really unfair that you’ve chosen to assume that it must be some kind of “SJW-approved message” without even considering whether there might be reasons for it — reasons that serve the story.

    Comment by TooManyJens - September 12, 2015 11:44 pm

  184. It also occurs to me to wonder what the “SJW-approved message” of choosing not to specify Chris’ gender could be. You’ve already said that the official SJW position on gender is that gender is more important than anything else, which isn’t exactly compatible with never mentioning it at all.

    Comment by TooManyJens - September 13, 2015 12:41 am

  185. I just wanted to comment about how heartening this comment thread is after reading Scalzi’s so-depressing bomb-throwing post/comment thread this morning. Thanks to everyone for modelling what a reasonable conversation among folks who fundamentally disagree about many things but want to accomplish a joint project can look like. My faith in humanity is restored. (And squee, Ms. Valente, if you’ll permit me a bit of fanboyism, Palimpsest is one of my all time favorite novels, and I’ve been reading my daughter the Fairyland books at bedtime for several months. Thanks much both for your writing and for your contributions to this thread.)

    Comment by Matt W - September 13, 2015 1:54 am

  186. Hi, Jay – Differences between this and the PGP Web of Trust? It has a lot to do with what the Web Of Trust trusts you to do. In the case of PGP, it’s always been about trusting people to be who they say they are – maybe that’s their True Name from their driver’s license, or maybe it’s the alias they use at Cypherpunks meetings (I’ve signed a few of those) – but that lets you consistently know that you’re talking to the ESR or Black Unicorn you talked to last time, and if they’re really a CIA spy, well, they’ve got my signature saying they’re the CIA spy you talked to last time. And if they’re really one of 50 different aliases for Tim May, you’ve got some assurance that at least it’s the same sock puppet you talked to last time. And part of the critique of Web Of Trust has been that especially with multi-level signature chains, it’s much less clear what you’re signature means. Maybe Phil Zimmermann signed Alice’s key, so you know that’s really Alice, and Alice signed Bob’s, so you know Alice thinks that’s really Bob, but Bob’s really an idiot, so the fact that he signed Charlie’s key doesn’t tell you that’s really Charlie, but if you don’t know Bob personally, you can’t be that sure.

    Your Web of Trust looks like it’s designed for much different goals. “Trust” is the obvious first question, and in this context, it looks like it means “You Trust this person to have a similar opinion about what’s a good story”, i.e. they’re part of the same cabal as the Board. And restricting the numbers of keys you can sign may cut down on the Sock Puppet problem (e.g. somebody giving many friends memberships or inviting the #MongolHordes mailing list to vote), but by contrast, the PGP WoT encourages well-connected people to sign lots of keys, increasing the number of paths from somebody you know to somebody you just met, while your WoT tight restrictions on how many people you can Trust strongly encourages only using your limited set of signatures for people who are *really* solid members of the Cabal.

    Comment by billstewart - September 13, 2015 2:09 am

  187. Some Things Jay Can Take As Heartening:

    Jay wants to found an award that will actually be a people’s choice award for all of SF/F fandom, since the Hugo doesn’t do that. Several people on this thread whose political leanings and reading taste differ wildly from his would like to see that part of the goal succeed, even though they have misgivings about the initially proposed ways of getting there and disagree about how the community reached the moment it’s currently in. (See above, I support the idea of a new award, while disagreeing with Jay about too many other things to enumerate here.)

    Jay hopes to find a way to make voting open to all live humans who care enough to vote, one vote per human, for free or very low cost, while still making sure there’s no ballot box stuffing. Although most commenters on that point think Jay’s initially proposed method has problems, everybody seems to agree that this part of the goal is worth working on.

    (Since Jay has acknowledged the problem with his initial trust web proposal, basically agreeing with many of the concerns behind the criticisms, and he does not appear to have been wedded to the mechanism he first proposed, and now seems to prefer something entirely different, I’m hoping people can stop hitting him over the head for the web of trust idea. Argue with the guy for points he’s still advocating, not ones he hoped people would improve on, and dropped as soon as improvements came along.)

    Jay’s proposed methods for counting nominations and votes (the EPH and Australian Ballot stuff) to figure out which works win the award — as separate from figuring who votes — seem to be totally uncontroversial. I haven’t seen anyone object to EPH or Australian Ballot methods in this thread, and I think if people disagreed about that part of the proposal, there would have been a lot of talk about it by now.

    There’s a discussion about the role the Board of Directors would play that now includes a person (or more than one?) who has firsthand experience serving on such Boards. If he (or she? I don’t know Jer, so I’m guessing here) stays in the conversation a while, that might help those of us who don’t really grok how boards work tell which ideas are particular to the proposed organization and which ideas it would be stuck with by virtue of the non-profit org regulations.

    Comment by Sarah Avery - September 13, 2015 3:08 am

  188. Some Things That Can Be Heartening To People With Left-Leaning Politics And/Or Who Thought The Hugos Were Already Working Pretty Well Before:

    Somebody who was unhappy enough with the Hugos to align with the Sad Puppies is trying to do something generally constructive that doesn’t involve changing or gaming the Hugos themselves. Having been challenged to create something new by the Hugos’ defenders, somebody is actually trying to figure out what that would look like, rather than just dismissing the challenge as political smoke. Although his first proposal had a lot of problems, and a lot of us (myself included) disagree with him about what makes for good storytelling, he hasn’t given up on hoping to make the voting body for the award inclusive across the political spectrum. He could easily have taken his ball and his catcher’s mitt and gone home. He’s still here. Occasionally his views and proposals shift as a result of a dialog he cares about. If everybody in the Sad Puppies faction were willing to do as much, the SF/F world would have had a very different summer.

    (On the gap between the rhetoric of inclusiveness about voters and the rhetoric of narrowing about SF/F literature, alexandraerin said, “If you just drop the illusion that you’re creating an award for all fans of great storytelling and embrace the idea that you’re catering to particular fans of particular types of storytelling, I’m sure most your critics will be just as happy as if you were to make the illusion into reality.” I’m, in some senses, a critic of Jay’s plan, because I think there’s no sure way to make an unbiased call about whether a message serves a story or a story serves a message, I do prefer one outcome over another. I do hope Jay finds a way to make the mechanics rise to the rhetoric of inclusiveness.)

    Comment by Sarah Avery - September 13, 2015 3:25 am

  189. Just read Scalzi’s rant. Typical. He completely misses the point of the web of trust. I’m not asking him to establish that he’s an SF author and fan. All I’m asking him to do is establish that the guy who’s voting is, in fact, John Scalzi. Period, the end.

    But of course I can’t comment to that effect on his blog..

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 13, 2015 3:53 am

  190. Jay:

    “This year. What about last year? The same thing was said about Correia’s story being nominated, and there were no slates.”

    You know of course that Correia himself called it a slate? Also, he acknowledged that the slate was created for trolling purposes. To make peoples head explode. That is why he nominated Beale.

    To create a slate whose purpose is to troll an award, not to nominate the best work, is to beg for low votes or No Award.

    Comment by Hampus - September 13, 2015 3:56 am

  191. Matt: “My faith in humanity is restored.”

    Mine’s not. As I’ve said before, I appreciate that the folks here have, for the most part, been quite reasonable and courteous and non-inflammatory. Compare with the folks over at File 770 (to mention one site where I’ve read the comments).

    But just as I thought we were moving toward a proposal that we could all agree on – which is still my fondest hope – it blows up in my face. All because I pointed out it could be something everyone could agree on and still remain true to what they believe. What I got back was “Oh, Puppies like it? Go away, this is for adults.”

    I’ve dealt with Internet hate before, and this proposal has gotten a lot of it. What’s disheartening is that it’s arisen in a context where I’m trying hard to bring people together. I’ve already said that this proposal was just that, a proposal open for discussion. I’ve said more than once that my views are changing about parts of it. I haven’t put up a rewrite because I’m not sure that posting a new version in the comments here is all that good an idea.

    And that doesn’t include the people elsewhere, like Scalzi, who seem determined to deliberately misunderstand the intention and design of the proposal.

    But that I could handle. What is really disheartening me is Cat’s sudden about-face. She came here to engage me in good faith, and stuck around when others would have left, having made their point, dusting their hands and feeling smugly satisfied. But now…after she has an idea that everyone truly can support, she gets mad and goes away with her idea after I pointed out that it is an idea that everyone can support.

    Sarah, you’re about the only one who’s done more than toss off a “I hope he succeeds, even though his proposal sucks”. But if I’m going to get kicked in the face when I embrace something that really does earn the support of all parties, why should I keep trying?

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 13, 2015 4:13 am

  192. Ok, the three main issues are:

    * Web of trust (or replacement)
    * Categories
    * Board of Directors

    Now, Jay, you say that “The difference is that Heinlein’s work is message in service of story, not the other way around. The story is paramount”.

    I do not agree. I often feel that Heinleins messages interfers with the story, breaks the pace, forces me to listen to a lesson. It is badle interwoven with the story. It is just that the story is so good that it is acceptable.

    But who decides that? Well, I would say that *I* decide that in my own reading. This is not an objective parameter. We might have different opinions.

    And in a 100 voters, I would say that it is the *voters* that together decide that. I would trust them to throw out Farnham and accept Stranger.

    But to have a special jury for the politically correct that has to approve of all nominated works? No, I will not trust them. Unless they are as large as the voting groups. And just releasing a motivation for why a work was removed would be to beg for trouble.

    You know, they actually had this problem at the Hugos? Administrators thinking they knew better than the voters. Well, they got those rights taken away quite quickly.

    Comment by Hampus - September 13, 2015 4:14 am

  193. Jay,

    A problem is that you use quite inflammatory language. SJW:s and so on. And people are like to answer in kind. Thats why we are stuck in this he-did, she-said.

    Anyhow, I hope you succeed. And I know there are others who hang around File 770 that hopes the same. That I personally think the Hugos are fine does not mean that I don’t want other awards to succeed.

    Comment by Hampus - September 13, 2015 4:19 am

  194. Hi Jay,

    First of all, I would like to say that a new award is a really good idea and I like the concept that someone mooted of awarding specific story-telling features. (One good category might be best character dynamic – I’m thinking things like good traditional Hero/Villain combinations, more morally ambivalent oppositions, friendships, hero/comedy sidekick even).

    I do have specific questions and also some problems with this proposal.

    One particular chain of thought that has lead up to this situation (and that you seemingly have perpetuated), goes like this:
    Ancillary Justice does not contain good story-telling.
    Ancillary Justice got the Hugo.
    Therefore the Hugo does not award good story-telling.

    But it turns out that not only have you not read the book and so have little rationale for the first proposition, but you have been convinced here that it /might/ be reading and therefore it seems the Hugo /might/ actually award good story-telling.

    So, can you agree that this part of the anti-Hugo case is very flimsy?

    On the web of trust: The problem you want to solve needs to be talked about – ballot-stuffing and sock puppets are easy on the Internet and really bad for democratic processes. As many people have stated there are good reasons to think that the initial political skew in the population would end up being repeated after each generation, leading to the opposite of what you want – an electorate that is highly political rather than after good story-telling. I have a couple of specific sociological models that you could run on a computer to show this, I’m happy to talk this over with you here but might be too dry and involved for most people here.But as people have noted what people are doing in the PGP idea (confirming identity by confirming ownership of a key pair) is different to what people would end up doing here (confirming a politically skewed idea of true “fanness” by confirming identity). I’m not even sure how committed you are to the web of trust by now.

    The executive board veto: Would you accept some kind of popular veto override? I’m thinking any story vetoed still goes on the ballot after all non-vetoes noms (but marked as vetoed to by the board). If it receives x% of the first round vote, the veto is overridden and it is included in all further rounds of counting. I have no idea of what the value of x% should be, that would have to be modelled and debated. I just happen to think that a veto without some method of override is undemocratic.

    Lastly, (sorry this is so long): Would you be willing to write into the rules of the awards, that people should not be excluded (from voting, from the executive, from receiving awards, from any part of this) on the grounds of gender identity, sexuality, race or politics? Would you also include in writing that people should be made to feel safe in participating?


    Comment by BlueJam - September 13, 2015 4:31 am

  195. All this whinging about awards makes it pretty clear that the “puppies” want awards.
    Since dog treats don’t seem to be doing the trick, I say, lets create an SF award for puppies, one designed specifically for them, that only they can win.
    A Commissariat of loyal and true puppies will be established (appointed, not voted on), based on demonstrated puppyism.
    They will then choose how many puppies will get to vote and will select a number of puppies to vote.
    Following the selection of voters, they’ll designate one nominee per category (for however many categories are deemed necessary to make puppies happy and content for the year); voting will take place and the awards will be handed out in conjunction with the [as yet unnamed] Cat Valente Awards, but will ALWAYS be referenced as the
    NOT A [as yet unnamed] Cat Valente Awards – the Most Excellent Puppy Award for Most Excellent Puppies for Excellence.
    The award itself is a complicated, partially electronic design, consisting of a base on which are mounted a stack of asterisks lain horizontally; a rocket-like device mounted horizontally on a hinged arm connected to the base in such a manner that when rotated the rocket will slide into the stack of asterisks.
    Mounted on the opposite end of the stack of asterisks from the rocket are a series of LED lights arranged in a star pattern.
    On the front of the base is an acrylic plaque that has the winner’s name etched into it. The plaque is backlit.
    Circuitry is arranged such that when the rocket is rotated into the astericks, the star is extinguished and the plaque becomes lit. Simultaneously, pre-canned applause plays through a speaker cleverly hidden inside the stack of asterisks.

    Comment by crotchetyoldfan - September 13, 2015 6:21 am

  196. Jay,
    You keep making inflammatory statements–issuing thinly veiled jibes–then claiming that everyone is being mean when they react. It’s transparent and makes trying to have this conversation frustrating. It’s the reason that I initially assumed that your proposal was in bad faith, and it’s the reason that I continue to waver on that belief…

    “especially since boring message fiction would have little of such worthy of commendation”
    “The Judging Committee will use the quality of SF/F storytelling as their sole criterion. Other awards exist to honor works for other qualities.”
    “Attempts to turn the Hugo Awards back to the foundations of SF/F have been met with derision and outright hatred.”
    “and even John Scalzi and David Gerrold.”
    “So he’s too lazy to paint a complete portrait? This is not a recommendation.”

    I could go on and on. You are not the innocent, wide-eyed doe wandering into the forest and getting bludgeoned, here. You are actively stirring the pot and pretending that you’re not the chef. If the conversation is to continue in good faith, please stop.

    Comment by jer_ - September 13, 2015 7:22 am

  197. jer_, I for one think tht Jay is an innocent, wide-eyed doe wandering through the forest, and that is exactly the problem.

    Have you ever met an earnest young Christian missionary who tries his darnedest to convert you, but he’s got some funny ideas? For one thing, even though you’re both adult human beings in the 21st century English-speaking world, he thinks you’ve never heard the belief that Christ is God, and that only by coming to Christ can you avoid the pits of hell… but he also, at the same time, take it for granted that you revere the Bible as received truth and believe in and fear the pits of hell.

    In short, the young missionary takes it for granted that the things he believes to be true are things that you and everyone else *knows* to be true, and people who do not behave in accordance with his beliefs, why… they’ve just never been given the proper chance!

    Then the missionary meets someone who clarifies that they don’t fear hell, don’t care about the bible, or worst of all they claim they don’t need to be converted because they are already Christian, already have their own understanding with Jesus yet they continue to disagree with the missionary’s particular church.

    When encountering a person whose fundamental disagreement with the missionary’s faith is an unassailable fact, the missionary concludes: this person knows better, and is just lying.

    The Sad Puppies, like certain schools of evangelical Christianity, take certain things on faith:
    That there are such people as “SJWs” running around trying to control everyone else.
    That the SJWs have co-opted several major awards and managed to wrest control over them.
    That the SJWs use their power to promote stories that weren’t really good and that they didn’t really enjoy in order to push an agenda.

    The Puppies share the kernels of these beliefs with several other sects, but within the realm of the Hugopocalypse in particular, the Puppies have other bits of dogma that spring from them, like the idea that Moen ran a successful No-Puppies Slate.

    Notice that when Jay is challenged on these things, he seems to slide off and just keep going in the direction he was going. Notice how he doesn’t understand how comments about keeping out the kind of stories that SJWs like would offend anyone, or be equated with tailoring the awards towards one set of tastes.

    The really telling part in all this is what he thinks of as a “reference to the controversy”: laying out the Puppy position as if everyone agrees that it’s true, but some people chose to fight against it for some reason.

    Jay, I’ve said this to many of the saddest puppies and many of the gamest gamers, but if you want to reach a meeting of minds with someone, you must first acknowledge that other people have minds. If you want to argue with someone or even reach a position that you can all agree on, you have to take a moment to understand what they even believe.

    You can talk about your “intentions” in creating a closed system all you want, you can talk about the “intention” for the panel of judges, but as long as you have these massive blind spots, the end result is going to be a system that favors people who share your beliefs over people who don’t.

    Finally, Jay, let me point something out:

    You rage at the heavens against John Scalzi “misunderstanding” the purpose of your web of trust.

    Jay, I just read your proposal over again to make sure my memory was clear on this: you state no purpose for the web of trust.

    The only statement of purpose in the proposal—and thus, the only place people can look to find out what purposes informed the creation of the system—is the section entitled “The Rationale”, which says nothing about fraud or ballot stuffing but says quite a bit about how some (unspecified) people have been giving out all the best awards to the wrong books for the wrong reason.

    What, Jay, is a reasonable person to conclude when given this information?

    Of course, you know exactly what you meant in outlining the web of trust, which is why—like my allegorical missionary—you assumed that its meaning and purpose was too clear for anyone to be confused. But this was obviously not the case.

    The real test is, can you step outside yourself long enough to see that?

    Comment by alexandraerin - September 13, 2015 8:19 am

  198. “All I’m asking him to do is establish that the guy who’s voting is, in fact, John Scalzi.”

    Is there in fact someone out there who is pretending to be John Scalzi?

    Comment by firstgentrekkie - September 13, 2015 9:10 am

  199. “Is there in fact someone out there who is pretending to be John Scalzi?”

    In general, no. There’s only one John Scalzi, and that’s enough for one universe. It wouldn’t surprise me, however, if some Puppy-leaning voter saw a hole in the registration system and decided to register as John Scalzi and then cast votes as him as a big joke, or as a second (or third, or Nth) vote. The web of trust stops that.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 13, 2015 9:13 am

  200. Jer, the second and third statements you cite are part of the Rationale, and I’ve already said that will be rewritten. Considering what Scalzi and Gerrold have said about me in public, I think my invocations of their names is not out of line. The first was a statement of why Puppies could get behind Cat’s proposal. I continue to be saddened at how it was taken.

    And as for stirring the pot: Go read File 770’s comments (now nearing 500), or the ones on Scalzi’s page, or even a few (mercifully few) here like crotchetyoldfan’s. My level of invective has been held way, way down compared to what I’ve been getting. I’m trying hard to keep my cool, but under the kind of onslaught I’ve been getting, anyone would fray around the edges.

    But why is it that I’m always the bad guy?

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 13, 2015 9:19 am

  201. @billstewart—-thank you for expressing in words that I could not about the trust factor. I completely agree and I hope Jay listens to why this WILL NOT WORK for ALL of fandom. It will just create a right wing Hugo to the exclusion of the other side of fandom. I swear you speak like a philosopher I once knew.

    @Mary Nevlan–I just realized that you name almost rhymes with deadpan which is funny because you come across as sooooo cute when you are trolling and butting in to an adult conversation. Here we are having a rational discussion without heat or anger and we get a visit from Maryland.

    “As long as you bookend the award between your paranoid persecution complex vis-à-vis the Hugo awards it is going to be doomed to fail”

    Thank you for that single nugget right there. You’ve just touched on the Hugo talking point from the Truefans. Care to guess how many times and places I’ve heard “persecution complex”? Yeah, you guys need to change talking points now and then because that one is old and stale like your arguments. Get a better psychologist and political hack and not that third stringer you’ve got. From all your Star Wars references my guess is you got it from Jar Jar Binks.

    @crotchetyoldfan—-BWAHAHAHA! This Sad Puppy likes your idea. If Worldcon did that I would vote every year just to get someone I liked the Award. Make it a side like the Campbell. I think that way they could promote the single piece they like and then let the public compare. You have great a great sense of dark humor like the curmudgeons I had on my block. Bravo!

    @jer—I’m listening to you jer, you are making good sense. Considering that we are possibly on different teams I do think that you making good points without any barbs or mean spirited jabs so far. Jay can’t see his bias and he doesn’t hear the narrative coming from his side. You strike me as someone who can see past all that—at least so far.

    @alexandraerin—I’d say that SJWs have in fact infected the Hugo population. Now, I will also agree that not everyone who sympathizes with them is an SJW. The trouble is, just like gamersgate, is that the Puppies were treated wrongly by the “professional journalists” and the journalists did not investigate facts but took sides. This swelled up and stirred up the political anger and brought out the worst in both camps. That is how I see it. It is hard to be rational and open minded when you are in the middle of a flame war, know what I mean.

    I can’t stand Moen but I do think that she plays hardball with people that she doesn’t like. She made an effective campaign for the Anti-Puppy slate and it worked. I don’t think that everyone who voted No Award was part of the “cabal”, but a good many of them were. You could see how the votes split later. The Puppies, mainly the Rabid Puppies, truly pissed off a lot of fandom with their list/slate/recommendations/whatever you want to call it.

    Sad Puppies 4 is going to be a list of 10 or so works that are recommended as good reads. This was done because there were many complaints of slate voting and at least the leader of the Sad Puppies is trying to make it more about story than politics. For many from the Anti-Puppy camp this has been acceptable, and for half of the anti-puppies nothing will be acceptable.

    I can’t speak for Jay but I myself want some sort of verification system. The details of the Hugo voting has not come out. It is being suppressed. Some say this is to protect the ballot and ensure the vote is secret and some say that the vote was rigged. For me, I think there was some vote buying. I think that it would be easy to get an accountant, database expert, and such to verify and deliver the facts. That they can’t is just a bunch of baloney. Worldcon is starting to look like its name sake in my view—-World–CON. If the Hugo is tarnished and I put the blame on where it belongs–Worldcon. I don’t TRUST them and neither does Jay I bet.

    @Sarah—Jay’s goal is a noble and good one. It looks like most of the people here are interested in contributing good points and like the idea of the award. This has been the most civil conversation I’ve seen. I’ve done my best not to troll and flame. I’m for a new award that delivers what the Hugo has can not. I just don’t want to replace one political leaning system that alienates fans with another one that does the same thing.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 13, 2015 10:05 am

  202. @Jay:

    If you don’t want to be seen as “the bad guy,” why don’t you try responding honestly to Alexandra Erin’s spot-on criticism above?

    “The only statement of purpose in the proposal—and thus, the only place people can look to find out what purposes informed the creation of the system—is the section entitled “The Rationale”, which says nothing about fraud or ballot stuffing but says quite a bit about how some (unspecified) people have been giving out all the best awards to the wrong books for the wrong reason.

    What, Jay, is a reasonable person to conclude when given this information?”

    People keep asking you this, and you keep either ignoring it or changing the subject.

    Why is that?

    Comment by redheadedfemme - September 13, 2015 10:06 am

  203. Jay,

    I think the basic reason why this proposal has gotten so much push back is the rationale you give, and even if you are going to rewrite it, this version is still what people have to go by right now. I think if you want to start a new set of awards that try to focus on good storytelling, that is fine, but why not just present it in those terms, rather than as a response to the Hugos?

    When your rationale is as you present it, it is not surprising to me that a lot of people are not going to respond well. Not only is the idea that the Hugos are now being awarded based on the race or gender or political leanings of the author, rather than the quality of the work, something that a lot of people disagree with, but it is also rather personally insulting to people who have been voting on these awards in recent years.

    I also think the inclusion of the role of the Judging Committee, which is empowered to dismiss nominees based on a very subjective standard, is rubbing a lot of people the wrong way. The whole proposal is based around the idea of “telling a good SF story,” which may seem like a simple and straightforward standard, but is actually not something that a lot of people are going to agree on when you try to define it more specifically.

    I’m certainly in favor of there being more awards, just because awards are fun. Writers like to get awards and they give readers the opportunity to talk about books and stories and find out about new things to read. If you are going to give this a try, you have my encouragement. I just think it would be better to start from a rationale like “Great SF stories are cool! Let’s give them an award!” rather than “The Hugos suck! Here’s a real alternative!”

    Comment by Chris M. - September 13, 2015 10:07 am

  204. Jay, do you think that perhaps people see you as “the bad guy” because you decided that a book was “boring message fic”, undeserving of awards, and which did not have a good story beyond a “gimmick”, all without having read one word of the book? Reading the work really should be the minimum standard of any kind of criticism.

    Now, when told your assumptions about that book were wrong, you decide you might have to re-evaluate the book. However, you won’t admit that means the central premise of the Puppies – that “boring message fic” has taken over the Hugos – is now invalid.

    Do you think that maybe that’s a part of why people might think you’re the bad guy here?

    Comment by BlueJam - September 13, 2015 10:08 am

  205. Just a note: While people were suggesting the rationale was the problem with the tone of the discussion, I was adopting Abi’s suggestion from over at File 770 and marking it with strikeout tags to show it was going to be rewritten without sending the former language down the memory hole.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 13, 2015 10:14 am

  206. So, in the absence of evidence that there has been voter fraud, you are proposing a system to prevent voter fraud and limit voting to people in your circle. Why does this sound so familiar?

    Comment by firstgentrekkie - September 13, 2015 10:34 am

  207. Here is the thing, Jay. You want to start a new award for all of Fandom. The random commenters at File 770 do not.

    If *you* want to rally people from all camps, you can’t behave badly against some of them with the excuse that “somewhere on the internet there are other people who are behaving badly”.

    If you can’t stop with insulting others or passing inflammatory comments, then your idea is dead. It might still be a good award for people among puppydom, but for all? Nope.

    Comment by Hampus - September 13, 2015 10:35 am

  208. And here is the thing. What is seen as truth among puppydom is seen as pure insults among others. That is what makes debating so hard. I think if we want to have a common goal, we have to leave history behind. At least when debating the goal.

    Comment by Hampus - September 13, 2015 10:39 am

  209. firstgentrekkie, the proposal takes steps to avoid ballot box stuffing and fraud because the current mechanism to do so – requiring voters spend $50 to buy a con membership – is not in accordance with the goals of the award. That’s all there is to it.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 13, 2015 10:39 am

  210. I have now added a paragraph explaining the purpose of the web of trust system.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 13, 2015 10:43 am

  211. I seem to recall that several individuals and organizations were offering “scholarships” for voting memberships at this year’s WorldCon. Isn’t that kind of the same thing, but with money? I wouldn’t give $40 or $50 to someone I didn’t know unless they were within a “trusted circle” of friends and acquaintances of some kind. The act of putting out the offer in a given forum would have limited the takers to a particular circle. Furthermore, I doubt that anyone would take that offer unless they had a real interest in the results. I think preventing ballot box stuffing, especially if no ballot box stuffing is proven or even alleged, is a smoke screen.

    Comment by firstgentrekkie - September 13, 2015 10:54 am

  212. Ballot box stuffing is a hell of a lot harder and more expensive at $50 a vote than it is at $0. This is why Internet votes for giving out serious things are generally avoided. It’s a very well-known effect on the net.

    How would you stop ballot box stuffing if there is no cost to register to vote and anyone can sign up? Or would you simply accept it?

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 13, 2015 10:57 am

  213. Jay – sorry if you didn’t see the humor in my post. I’ll note that one other self-proclaimed puppy did, but then one of the things we’re talking about here is the fact that not all tastes are the same.

    Here’s the BIG problem I have with your proposal and pretty much everything else puppyish that’s come down the pike for the past three years:

    You do not get Fandom (Big F, Worldcon-going, fanzine-writing, tied-to-the-history-of-fandom Fandom).

    If you guys & gals did “get Fandom”, you would not continuously be using “proposals” like this one to make political points, because you would know that real-world politics that you all are continually trying to drag into fandom DO NOT BELONG.

    Oh yes, feuds in the past. Go take a look. The last time Fandom engaged in a feud over real-world politics was the Viet Nam war. No one liked it. We all put that sorry event behind us as quickly as possible.

    Watch the WSFS Business Meeting videos from this year. THAT is how fans do politics.

    When Fans find themselves with a minority viewpoint that is not being accepted by the majority, they either continue to do their own thing because they can (I’ve yet to hear any fan say “you are not having fun in the right way” – except for the puppies) – or – they do the fannish thing, get their fellow travelers together and go and DO whatever it is they want to do that no one else does.
    And here’s the cool thing about that: IF that minority interest really ought to be a majority interest, the good, hard work put in by the few eventually comes to the fore and gets integrated into the mainstream of Fandom. If not, it remains a minority interest that will have life and sustenance and existence so long as the minority continue to put effort into it.
    What Fans do not do is try to tear down someone else’s fun in order to have their own.
    We had enough of that in the Mundane world – it’s half the reason we’re in Fandom to begin with.
    Go to a convention. The panel subjects are not done up in mono. They’re all over the spectrum because we have found ways to accommodate widely varying interests under a single umbrella – by giving people space and opportunity to SHARE what they are interested in with the rest of us.
    I’ve done panels with packed rooms and panels with a handful of interested parties. Not once did I ever think of shutting down someone else’s panel so mine could have more butts in seats.
    From the get-go, your proposal encompasses a non-Fannish attitude of US vs THEM.
    And here is the proof of that: If you were doing what you are doing from a Fannish perspective, you’d have gathered together your fellow-travelers and started implementing what you’ve proposed. You’d have found a con to present the awards at, set up a web page, sent out some press releases and hoped for the best. If it succeeded, Fandom would have a whole new award to gush over every year. If not, you’d all have moved on to some other fannish pursuit eventually.
    Instead, you are using the proposal to continue to highlight and exacerbate the divide. You are taking your discussion to places you already know it will not be well-received and continue to play the “who me?” game when people who you know are disinclined to appreciate what you are offering take issue with it.
    When those objecting strenuously to the puppy slating of the 2015 Hugo Awards said “Go Do Your Own Award”, they didn’t mean “Get Us To Do It With You”.
    What they meant was – go do your thing. Good luck. If it achieves some level of success, it will find its way into fandom.
    So – go do your own thing. And good luck with it.

    Comment by crotchetyoldfan - September 13, 2015 10:57 am

  214. Show me the allegations of ballot box stuffing, proven or otherwise.

    Comment by firstgentrekkie - September 13, 2015 10:58 am

  215. Now that the stated purpose for the trust metric is… well… stated, I have to wonder about the value of knowing that voters are “who they say they are”.

    I mean, is there a reason that either the system or the voters should know or care that John Scalzi is John Scalzi and not John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt III?

    Don’t get me wrong, as a trans woman who has been excluded from spaces because of “real identity” requirements, I’d take a system of “vouched for by peers” over one like “prove your legal identity” any day of the week… but by the same token, I’m dubious of any system that claims a right to know I am who I say I am without making it clear why it needs this information.

    The only legitimate reason I can think why a voting system would need to verify that each person is who they say they are is if that system is only meant to be accessed by a limited population (like, all the voters in a district). If the pool of voters is “anyone! everyone! come one, come all!” then it doesn’t matter if I can prove I’m Alexandra Erin or not because it doesn’t matter if I am Alexandra Erin or not. All that it matters is that I am a person, any person.

    On the other hand, in terms of making sure things are limited to one vote per person, the trust system falls apart completely. It could only work if you abandoned your goal of tying this award to a particular community and/or particular convention. Otherwise… well, let’s say that I comment under one name at File 770, and another name at Torgersen’s blog, and another name at Vox Day’s blog, and another name here, and then I have three or four blogs under different names.

    In each community, the people there would know me to be a real person who goes by whatever name they know me by.

    So if you spread your initial “web of trust” around all those communities, then I have people to vouch for me under all my myriad names, do I not? And none of them have any reason to doubt who I say I am.

    “But none of them will have met you in person,” you might say.

    Yes! And this is where, as I said, the scheme falls apart if you don’t mean to tie it to a particular community or convention.

    If you intend to limit “trust” to people who have met each other in person, then it’s guaranteed to be cliquish in application no matter how many “opposing” cliques you recruit… because 90% of fandom doesn’t belong to any of those cliques. Most of fandom doesn’t get to conventions, doesn’t meet authors and luminaries and trusted peers of the realm.

    And if you don’t intend to limit trust to those situations–or have no means of enforcing that limitation–then the trust system provides no guarantee of one vote per person and no protection against ballot stuffing. It is, in effect, the world’s most convoluted honor system.

    Think I’m wrong?

    You keep saying that it’ll work as well as this PGP thing.

    Let me ask you this: exactly what feature of the PGP system prevents a person from having multiple identities trusted by different people?

    To make a long story short (TOO LATE!), you have no mechanism to prevent multiple votes but you’re obfuscating that fact by putting a mechanism in place to solve another problem (people not being who they say are).

    Comment by alexandraerin - September 13, 2015 11:10 am

  216. Jay: I’m sorry for missing things, having been asleep.

    Here’s the thing. I did nothing wrong. I got excited and thought of a positive and constructive idea. Your response was half positive…and have a shiv in the ribs to the stories you don’t like.

    You seem to not understand that when you insult the Hugo nominees and winners of the last several years, you are insulting me and my work. I have been nominated seven times since 2010.

    I am under no obligation to give someone who holds me in such low regard the fruits of my mind and labor. I have every right, having had an idea, to choose to pursue it on my own rather than give it gratis to people who disdain me and my work.

    I have said already that you are more than welcome to help with the discussion process (a design discussion has already begun at File 770: That isn’t shutting you out. But you keep saying that I’ve run off the minute “we” came to a point of agreement that everyone could support.

    No. “We” did not. I came up with a separate idea. It is now in the brainstorming stage. You can participate in that! The only reason to get upset at the events is if you only want an award that you can be in charge of, and that is administered under the auspices of the Puppies either in fact or in spirit. I do not choose to donate my time and energy and intellect to the Puppies.

    Otherwise, if everyone can support it, if it’s such a good idea, then come help out and let’s make it happen!

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 13, 2015 11:24 am

  217. In fairness to Jay, I don’t think he’s alleging that ballot stuffing has happened. He’s acknowledging the truth that without some obstacle to voting—be it a pricey con membership or a peer system—there’s nothing that stops the one person who is willing to buck the honor from voting a few hundred times.

    It’s all very well and good to say, “Well, obvious duplicate votes can be discarded.”, but somoene’s got to decide what’s obvious, and they have a lot of power.

    For heaven’s sakes, if we’re all savvy enough to recognize the potential for abuse in the system Jay describes, we should recognize the even greater (albeit more equal opportunity?) potential for abuse in a completely open one.

    Comment by alexandraerin - September 13, 2015 11:25 am

  218. firstgentrekkie: Well, let’s see:

    This year’s Major League Baseball All-Star balloting was apparently stuffed by fans of the Kansas City Royals.
    This is not a new phenomenon there; one Boston Red Sox fan admitted to doing it in 1999.
    A completely meaningless poll got stuffed at the site of The Herald of Everett, Washington.
    A poll at EV World got stuffed by bots from Russia.

    And this was just int he first few pages of Googling. (There were an incredible number of hits complaining about the Royals.) Need I go on?

    Of course there’s been essentially no ballot box stuffing at the Hugos. At $50 a vote, it’s just not worth it. But take away that barrier, and the results are plain to anyone who’s been around the net for any length of time. In case you haven’t noticed, these aren’t the Hugos, and the mechanism that works for that award won’t work here.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 13, 2015 11:28 am

  219. I mean for an SFF writing award. I don’t believe we’re that kind of community.

    Comment by firstgentrekkie - September 13, 2015 11:30 am

  220. Cat, have I said anything about you or your work specifically? I truly hold no opinion of it, having never had cause to think about it or solicit others’ opinions or anything else. But an indictment of the Hugos as a whole is not an indictment of every single solitary one that’s been awarded.

    Yes, you have the absolute right to do with your idea what you will. But from where I sit, it feels like you’re taking the buzz I generated by proposing a new award and stealing it for your own idea without having put the thought and effort into it I have put into this one.

    So go do your own thing. But don’t expect me to thank you for stealing from me, or to help you drive the getaway car.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 13, 2015 11:39 am

  221. firstgentrekkie, show me an SFF writing award that’s open to Internet voting from any and all who wish to at a cost of $0.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 13, 2015 11:41 am

  222. Jay: I’m stealing from you? Really? That’s where you want to take this?

    Wow. I’ve spent so much time trying to engage you on constructive terms, to not insult or belittle, but to dialogue. But I guess that was pointless. I’m just a nasty thief. What has it got in its pocketses?

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 13, 2015 11:44 am

  223. Jay and Alexandra are absolutely right that a completely open system on the Internet can be easily gained, so you need to have some hurdle. Free popular ballots of the “name this thing” type are almost always overrun by organised campaigns, sometimes trolls, sometimes in earnest.

    But there are two problems with the proposed web of trust. Neither arise from its intent (which is noble) but from unintended side effects.

    One: if the initial group of trusted persons is politically skewed, then it will likely remain so as the group of trusted members grows. Left-wing people are more likely to consort with and be able to vouch for other left-wing people and the same applies to right-wing people. We can not trust that the initial group of people trusted would inevitably lead to a web that accurately represents fandom.

    Two (this is Alexandra’s point): If the requirements for stating “I trust this person” are too loose (for instance you belong to the same forum) then creating extra “trusted” sockpuppets is simple. If the requirements are too stringent ( knowing people in real life), then you end up with a cabal.

    At this stage of debate, I think a voter fee or piggy-backing another ID system (photo ID or credit card, maybe? Government regulation could be important here) is a better option.

    Remember: all PGP guarantees is that some person owns a particular key pair.

    Comment by BlueJam - September 13, 2015 11:47 am

  224. I’ve been trying to keep this on constructive terms. I’ve been trying not to insult or belittle. But people say I’m wrong for pointing out how those of us on the Puppy side feel, even as they point out their own feelings.

    I’ve been willing to move past that and do something that everyone can get behind. I took your suggestion as a welcome hand across the water, but when I explained why it could be something everyone could agree on, you did a 180.

    It felt, quite literally, like a punch in the gut. A betrayal.

    No, it wasn’t pointless at all, up until you decided you didn’t need me after all. Now? I’m not so sure, though I’m willing to keep trying, heaven only knows why.

    But I’m getting damned tired of offering olive branches only to get beaten about the head and shoulders with them.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 13, 2015 11:50 am

  225. Nothing about this is an olive branch. And you explaining why everyone could get behind it was insulting and belittling, as are many, many of the things you’re said here. I do not choose to work with people who insult and belittle. Again, I do not owe you my ideas. Had you been able to resist the temptation to be horrible to what you perceive as “the other side” I would have seen it as a hand across the water. You could not.

    It cannot be a betrayal because we are not in any kind of relationship, we have no compact or contract, and I am not employed by you nor under any obligation to you. This is a message board. Ideas happen. And the “buzz” you think you’ve generated is almost all negative, people wanting nothing to do with an award of the kind you’ve described. I don’t want any part of that buzz. I took the idea to my Twitter feed–not to another aggregate site or Black Gate itself, because I have a large and active audience of my own. No borrowed buzz required.

    I’m sorry you feel the way you do. However, there’s something very entitled in feeling you own everything that comes up in the comments to a guest post on a site you do not run.

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 13, 2015 11:56 am

  226. Own? No, I don’t claim to own it. If I did, I’d have used it, with or without your approval. But be honest: if it weren’t for the buzz, would you have gone down the road that led you to that point?

    And whether you agree that I have a right to feel betrayed does not change the fact that that’s how I feel. For someone who thinks empathy is a Good Thing, you’re showing a remarkable lack of it.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 13, 2015 11:59 am

  227. There’s one more aspect to this. I said earlier that I can’t do this by myself. I still can’t. There’s a lot more work that needs to happen, and I can’t do it alone.

    It’s been suggested that a true fan would have gone ahead and done it. crotchetyoldfan said “If you were doing what you are doing from a Fannish perspective, you’d have gathered together your fellow-travelers and started implementing what you’ve proposed. You’d have found a con to present the awards at, set up a web page, sent out some press releases and hoped for the best.” What he’s missing is that this is the beginning of that process: seeing if there are any fellow-travelers to gather together and get it done. In the age of the Internet, throwing out a proposal for the world to look over and comment on and join in is the first step, not the last.

    But right now, I’m feeling very much alone…

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 13, 2015 12:07 pm

  228. I say that I’m sorry you feel that way. It’s nothing to do with empathy to point out that it has no basis in reality. But I am sorry that you do. Are you sorry about anything you’ve said in this thread?

    Again, it isn’t buzz. You should know the difference. Nor is it a betrayal to react to a terrible idea by coming up with a better one, and decline to let the guy who came up with the terrible idea use the better one. This is how Fandom works. People do things in reaction to other people. I don’t want to be involved in anything to do with your cabal of judges and trust levels, and if I can manage an award, I want it to be fun and positive and taking shots at no one. No one, Jay. And I have no reason to believe you can stop, even for a minute, taking shots.

    However, if somehow it does happen, I will absolutely acknowledge you and the fact that your (awful) idea was the inspiration for mine in some fashion.

    Finally, if you do not own a thing, it cannot be stolen. If you don’t want to open up that line of thought, stop using such inflammatory language.

    I will not engage further on this topic while you call me a thief for using my own good mind in your presence.

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 13, 2015 12:07 pm

  229. Yes, I’m sorry I said what I did about message fiction in reply to your idea. Had I known it would have been taken that way, and not as I had intended, I would never have said it. But you must have missed where I apologized for it. Regardless, I apologize again, without reservation.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 13, 2015 12:13 pm

  230. I am sorry you feel alone. No one should feel like that.

    Although I do have my aforementioned problems with your specific proposal I do like your idea of another award for SF stories. Awards help to make fandom fun!

    Comment by BlueJam - September 13, 2015 12:34 pm

  231. I think if you want more people to help out, it might work better to open up discussion of how the award should be designed, rather than present it as a fait accompli that people can agree with or not, and only asking for help choosing a name. I think you probably meant to frame it more like that, but by presenting all these rules and ideas in such detail, it doesn’t really seem like you want or need help, except in publicity and logistics, and that doesn’t tend to inspire people to put on their fan activist socks and get out there.

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 13, 2015 12:36 pm

  232. This is probably a stupid question… but why not use a low fee as a barrier to ballot-stuffing?

    For example, if it costs $5 to vote, the large majority of interested people could come up with $5. $5 is not much of a barrier. But voting 100 times would cost $500, and that is a pretty significant barrier.

    I’m not saying it’s a perfect system, but I don’t think there is a perfect system.

    Thanks for the new language on the “web of trust” idea. That improves your proposal a lot. I also think that crossing off the rationale was a good move.

    I think that you should consider also crossing off everything having to do with the Judging Committee. You don’t need a Judging Committee; just trust the voters to vote for stuff they love. That’s all the vetting required.

    But if you don’t agree, then here’s some other suggestions.

    The judges may disqualify any work they find to have an emphasis on other than telling a good SF/F story.

    I think this wording is too vague, because it could be interpreted as saying that the judges can ban a work that has good storytelling, as long as in addition to the good storytelling the work is also found “to have an emphasis on” something “other.”

    Why not say instead something like:

    The judges may disqualify any work they find to completely lack any emphasis on good storytelling.

    Regarding “They may disqualify no more than three nominees in any category,” to avoid the appearance of bias, the rules should explicitly forbid the judges from knowing what the next three works in line are when they make the decision to reject nominations.

    Finally, I’d suggest adding a line after the sentence “They shall be chosen by the Foundation Board of Directors, and selected for their knowledge of the fields of science fiction and fantasy and their commitment to uphold the ideals of the (insert name here) Awards.” That sentence could say something like “The Board of Directors shall make every effort to appoint people representing ideologically and aesthetically diverse viewpoints to the Judging committee.”

    Comment by barrydeutsch - September 13, 2015 12:38 pm

  233. Right now, I’m too depressed about this to think. I’m going to go outside and see about accomplishing something people can’t take away.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 13, 2015 12:39 pm

  234. Jay, I’m really and genuinely sorry that all this has hit you hard and you feel the way you do. No qualifiers. I know what it feels like.

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 13, 2015 12:45 pm

  235. “No, I think the SJW-approved message is that gender is more important than anything else. It could have come straight out of an Ivy League Gender Studies department. This is not a feature.”

    Well, the gender “gimmick” in Leckie’s work takes up little space in the space-opera plot and its worldbuilding and its themes of rebellion against Imperial oppression, yet you use it as a justification for not even trying to read the book.

    From where I’m sitting, it looks like you’re the one to whom gender is more important than anything else, because you use the way this book treats gender as a reason to reject it without reading it, even though the gender thing is a relatively minor element in a book with many qualities. You refuse to consider those other qualities because the gender thing trumps everything else, to you.

    Now your proposal says:

    “The Judging Committee will use the quality of SF/F storytelling as their sole criterion.”

    …but in your own words, you have not actually read Leckie’s work and yet you feel confident in saying that the message overwhelms the story, even though you have no idea what the story IS, or whether it is well or badly told. Is this a sample of the way you envision your Judging Committee of Quality Storytelling operating? That they will reject works UNREAD because they assume that X quality they’ve heard about secondhand makes a story irretrievably bad, and that they will make this judgement without reading the actual story?

    If so, I have to say such judging doesn’t fill me with confidence about the capacity of your award for actually rewarding good storytelling. IMO, you have to actually read a story to judge it properly.

    Comment by Jayn - September 13, 2015 1:07 pm

  236. Jay when Cat made her suggestion you responded with:
    Hm. Interesting, Cat. I could get behind that as well, especially since boring message fiction would have little of such worthy of commendation. (And it neatly avoids the SF/F boundary, to boot.)
    Comment by Jay Maynard – September 12, 2015 8:58 pm

    For most non-puppies that is a pretty big insult. For Cat whose been nominated and been an active nominator and voter in the Hugo’s that was a personal insult. And it certainly wasn’t a very good way to indicate a willingness to work with the idea in a positive manner.

    A proper response to her idea would have been to leave the insults at home and simply enthused over how much you liked the idea.

    This seems to be a running thread throughout the comments. Anytime you see some merit in what someone says you find a way to include a jab. This in turn leads to more hostile responses by people who really are trying to help you create an award even though you are feeling attacked.

    Comment by TashaTurner - September 13, 2015 1:14 pm

  237. @Jay—I know you feel still feel the sting of the Hugos as I do. Here is the thing that I hope is a BIG BRIGHT LIGHT: Cat, barry, and BlueJam seem to be on the opposing side but they are TALKING and for the most part being civil. That didn’t happen last time did it?

    Jay: “Yes, I’m sorry I said what I did about message fiction in reply to your idea.”

    Good deal, now it looks like that is being accepted and not used as an excuse to beat you down.

    BlueJam: “I am sorry you feel alone. No one should feel like that. Although I do have my aforementioned problems with your specific proposal I do like your idea of another award for SF stories. Awards help to make fandom fun!”

    Again, this is the spirit that I wish we all had going into the Hugos. This is the voice that should be heard all around. Had I heard this from folks on the otherside I would have been tempered in my outbursts.

    Cat: “Jay, I’m really and genuinely sorry that all this has hit you hard and you feel the way you do. No qualifiers. I know what it feels like.”

    Alright! Look, I think Jay has a good idea about the award. I think the parts that we disagree on are about the execution of the idea and not Jay himself or the Sad Puppies per se. It is good to have you here Cat bringing out the positive and the rational points. We on the Sad Puppy side felt very little of that. What we got was a lot of hate. Now, I’m hoping to move on from that and I know Jay will too. People have no idea what it is like to be under assault like that.

    Jay, I think the flaws in your plan stem from the law of the free market. I agree that there is corruption, even if unproven, in the Hugos. So what. It is a moot point. Focus instead on how real elections have destroyed corruption and that is the key. In small elections it is easy to fix a vote but in huge elections it becomes a problem. The more we have voting the less the little cliques and their weaselly politics can tamper the vote. What the board needs to do is to ensure that multiple votes aren’t bought and that is easier to do than verifying each and every voter. Free market forces will determine the rest. Who cares about their vote or their message fiction. Get a bunch of fans voting and that will all wash out and become a truer look at what fandom wants.

    Jay, your idea is a good one that people like, your method just needs a little tweaking.

    @Cat—Counter ideas come from debate. If you look at scientific theories or any theory there is always a counter and when there is discussion often better results come about. When “the discussion is settled” and the other side is shut out that is when bad things happen. Keep it coming!

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 13, 2015 1:15 pm

  238. Jay, I’m going to make a suggestion that I hope you can take in a friendly spirit.

    You’re getting a lot of feedback from people who would like to support several aspects of your proposal that your inflammatory language pushes them away, reduces the wider community’s likelihood of supporting the award, and may undermine your goal for the award.

    Rather than try to figure out why you keep using inflammatory language at people you’re trying to make peace overtures with by psychologizing (Could it be a persecution complex?), speculating about your personal character (Is Jay disingenuous, or too much the ingenu?), or generalizing from what’s frustrating about this conversation to what’s frustrating about the Hugo controversy generally (Isn’t that just like a Sad Puppy?), I’m going to try tackling this as a writing process problem.

    It’s not just a writing process problem, of course, whatever else it may be. But that’s a kind of problem I’m good at fixing, and I wish I could help you fix this. You say a lot of things that piss me off, but it’s clear you’re not doing it for fun, and I think your distress at the responses you get is genuine.

    Can you find a trusted beta reader in your social circle who’s really skilled at reading tone and predicting audience response? Preferably two or three such people? They wouldn’t need to be left-leaning in their own thinking, just able to imagine with momentary sympathy how a left-leaning person would take your words. Show your beta reader(s) something you’re considering posting but haven’t yet, so it’s not already freighted with feedback you’ve already received, and ask your beta reader(s) to show you exactly where your phrasing is likely to be problematic for readers who don’t already agree with you.

    If you don’t have beta readers like that, just budget an extra minute or two before clicking the Submit Comment button to look specifically for that kind of phrasing. Pretend you’re Hampus, who has put a lot of thought into the nuts and bolts side of your proposal but doesn’t share your initial rationale. Or if you’d rather get into the head of a more conflict-averse leftie, pretend you’re me.

    It’s hard to internalize an audience you don’t trust, or experience as actively hostile. It’s especially hard at a time when you’re already stinging from others’ feedback and your own regrets. But I think a visible effort on your side to do so would change the kind of response you get, at least here on BG.

    And to put more gently what others have said in anger, I fear that if you don’t find a way to do so, the good faith you’re trying to act in will be undetectable even to people who are trying hard to see it.

    Comment by Sarah Avery - September 13, 2015 1:25 pm

  239. Jay, this is one of those “things to look at” ideas, inspired by Dave Weinstein’s bringing up the ENnies. In the tabletop roleplaying game world, there’s an odd but interesting award, the Diana Jones Award. It’s given to one recipient each year for “excellence in gaming”. That’s the only criterion. It’s gone to people, games, charity auctions, websites, books about gaming, and Youtube series. It started off as a thing a few of my friends thought of doing, trading on their collective reputation capital. (Since they’re among the most talented people in the field, this is a formidable sum in its little world.) They can invite others, who may but don’t have to publicly identify themselves, and winners are automatically included thereafter.

    It occurs to me that this is perhaps an ideal format for your purpose. The flexibility is handy: some years there will be gluts of excellence, however defined, in some areas of sf/f and just not that much top-notch in others. You could keep some form of your combo public-and-jury setup, with the flexibility to nominate excellence wherever people may find it. You could perhaps begin with a small number of awards, like three, and grow as developments warrant.

    I don’t know that any of this is a good idea when it comes to your concerns. But beginnings are a good time to question legacies. :)

    Comment by Bruce B. - September 13, 2015 1:56 pm

  240. @Jayn—-I like some of Leckie’s work but the Ancillary series has failed to please. I has nothing to do with her abilities as a writer. Leckie is a strong writer or she would never have made it this far. It was just dull. When you compare it to Anne MacCaffery’s “The Ship Who Sang” or Cherryh’s books on intelligent ships it fell below the mark in my view. For the Hugo she would have to rise to at least that level and when compared to “Three Body Problem”, “The Goblin Emperor” and “Skin Game” she was not the heavy weight.

    To say that Jay did not read the book is yet another worn out talking point. I think you are trolling and not really here for serious discussion. It is easy to wear poor Jay down as he is trying to build something and not destroy something. Jay doesn’t like Leckie’s message. It ain’t a crime. Move along.

    @Tasha—“For most non-puppies that is a pretty big insult.”

    Tasha, I hope you didn’t gloss over his apology. Message fiction is a hit and miss thing can we agree? Give him a break. Look, it is offensive to us (the Sad Puppies) when we were mauled by people who said, like John O’Niell that “the Puppies are INCAPABLE of providing fiction worthy of a Hugo”. That is pretty insulting too. I’m asking you to look past that. Cat seems to be accepting the apology.

    Please remember Tasha, that others are watching too. I SEE that you and others from the other side are now playing nice and trying to promote ideas in a rational way for the most part. I’m one of those Sad Puppies and it is heartening to see this. I just wish we could have done this before the whole blow up. I appreciate that many are not happy with some of Jay’s ideas but they are trying to work for what might be better. Jay will cool off and I hope he reads what you said on that last line.

    @barry—I agree with your $5 argument. If you want to encourage voting then lower the price. $40-$50 bucks to vote for a Hugo is ridiculous. Then to slap fans in the face with astericks and booing the losers was just plain sickening. I also agree with the idea of the board holding up to a code of ethics that promote fandom and fiction. I’d like to see a wide representation and not a board of Tor editors and political sycophants. They should be homogeneous.

    @firstgentrekkie—-“I mean for an SFF writing award. I don’t believe we’re that kind of community.”

    Okay, don’t take this as trolling because I love your name handle. I think you have too much of the original Star Trek mindset and not enough Star Trek Enterprise to appreciate why we are indeed “that kind” of community. I don’t care if it is a PTA meeting, you will find partisanship and chicanery. Election rigging exists everywhere, sports, political elections, Nielsen ratings, so it is rational to think that it exists in the Hugos especially now that they renegged on the promise to release the data.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 13, 2015 1:57 pm

  241. […] been following the conversation at Black Gate, about the proposal for “The Awards to be Named Later” I’ve also been following […]

    Pingback by More thoughts on awards, and community | Better than salt money - September 13, 2015 2:06 pm

  242. Cool off? Yes. Cheer up? Much more in doubt. Right now, I really do feel like the cool kids have swooped in and taken away my accomplishment.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 13, 2015 2:15 pm

  243. :::::hiding flamethrower::::smiling innocently::::
    @Sarah—Poor Jay is on the cusp of getting a lot of good out of this idea. It is like you brought a lot of like minded friends here. I’m seeing some good peeps here with positive input and constructive thought. It seems the idea of a new award is very popular.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 13, 2015 2:15 pm

  244. Wild Ape–

    I do think there were people trying to be nice before, it’s just that there was SO MUCH commentary that it was impossible to have a quiet conversation, and a lot of invective going around. I still don’t believe in “sides” but even less do I believe in monoliths. People are people, they are individuals, one might choose inflammatory rhetoric, another might not, but no one single voice sums up the whole of any part of this now very long debate.

    I am also really heartened that apologies have been proffered and accepted by multiple people here. It’s not nothing.

    I think the issue a lot of us had is not that Jay rejected Ancillary Justice without reading it–dude, I do that with books, everyone does. You aggregate what you hear about it and think “that’s not for me” unless something else comes onto your radar to make you give it a second look–and Jay has said he’s going to give it a second look! That’s great! Some of my favorite books I brushed off because of something I’d heard and only came back to once someone sold me on it.

    The problem comes when you haven’t read something, but engage in discourse that really, really makes it sound like you did. It is totally fine for Jay to not like the pronoun thing. Taking away all the politics–it can be confusing, and some people don’t like to have to wrap their heads around a literary technique while also wrapping their head around worldbuilding, etc. It’s not overly fine for him to say that the “message” (which many have pointed out is not what he thinks it is) overwhelms the story when he hasn’t read it and can’t make that judgment except on hearsay.

    The Puppies made it very clear it was important for everyone to read the Hugo ballot this year before making pronouncements. Some did, some didn’t. But if it’s not fair for others to judge a work without reading it, it’s not fair for anyone to.

    I think the minimum would be just to preface by saying: I haven’t read/finished this book. Otherwise, you can’t say you bounced off it, you didn’t come near it because it looked like maybe it was made of bouncy stuff.

    $50 for the Hugo voting is rough…but that’s somewhat ameliorated nowadays by the voting packet, which is worth at least that much in free books.

    Have they renegged on the promise, or has it just not happened yet?

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 13, 2015 2:16 pm

  245. Supporting membership at Worldcon isn’t just about the Hugos, anyway. It’s also about the convention booklet – more like a magazine, really, with essays and stories and neat stuff about the fannish scene that includes Worldcon. (This is, I think, something that’s never really registered with a lot of Puppies, how much that is the heart of the $40 spent for many of us.)

    Stand-alone awards are, of course, only about themselves, as is right and proper.

    Comment by Bruce B. - September 13, 2015 2:26 pm

  246. @Wild Ape, I have read this entire comment thread, and I see two problems. One problem, really. In discussing who or what the awards should be named for — author or fictional character, or other — there doesn’t seem to be any agreement as to who or what clearly and consistently represents Maynard’s criteria, except the subjective “I know it when I see it.” I doubt that the founders of the Tiptree Award had such doubts. I think if it takes a PhD in English Lit to clearly express the parameters of the awards, and if the folks who are otherwise inclined to support the effort, can’t even agree whether Heinlein, for example, would qualify, then maybe there’s no “there” there. Maybe the only real criteria is that “this award is not the Hugo.” When record numbers of fans went to the trouble to buy a supporting membership this year, whether on their own dime or on a “grant,” how is it that anyone can still presume that they were all voting with some kind of hive mind, but that a much smaller group of “trusted voters” would never do such a thing, and would clearly represent the real preferences of the True Fans?

    I’ve been reading SFF for a long time, but I haven’t read all of it and never will, and I would never presume to tell anyone else what “real” SFF is. But that’s what every discussion for the last 6 months seems to devolve to. That’s nothing new. That conversation started a few generations ago, and it’s never really stopped. When it does stop, that’s when we’ll know SFF is dead.

    Comment by firstgentrekkie - September 13, 2015 2:29 pm

  247. Jay,
    I hope that a break from this allows you to recognize that I am not trying to attack you here; I think I’ve been fairly even handed (save for my obviously over-the-top post that served to even bring me to this conversation); with that in mind, please take this in the spirit in which I intend–constructive feedback.

    I’m not discussing this on File 770; I’m not debating this on Scalzi’s page. I’m discussing this with you, the architect, here where you presented your idea. Other people treating you poorly elsewhere sucks; but I can’t fix that, I can only have the conversation we’re having now.

    That conversation is a discussion of both your idea AS WORDED as well as your defenses and statements that have followed in this place about it. When your idea comes pre-packaged with begged questions and hurtful jabs, of course it dilutes your message and makes any reader question your intentions. If I started a conversation with “listen, since Jay is clearly a first-rate idiot, this idea is meant to make it easy for even him to fathom,” it wouldn’t much matter what the contents of my idea were, right? Would it matter if you were mean to me elsewhere? No, I poisoned the well of your attention right off the bat. So when you lead with the clear implication that people that disagree with you are corrupt, fringe, other, or less-than…you’re stomping on your own message.

    As the bearer of a message, it’s your responsibility to convey your message clearly. It’s my responsibility as the listener to attempt to understand you clearly without injecting any more of my own shit into the communication than is necessary. This isn’t your calm, clear message devolving into heated rhetoric; your ideas arrived tightly coupled with sarcasm, insinuation, and criticism of the non-constructive variety–you brought that to the party right inside your message. You stuffed your leading salvo with landmines and barbs; then when questioned about it, you doubled down on several.

    I said I’m not here to attack you, and I mean it. I know you’re not a bad guy, I’m begging you to stop playing the part of one.

    What I would like to see (and obviously, it’s a request that you’re always welcome to tell me to shove up my ample ass), is for you to take a second shot at this with a calmer, clearer mind and posit your idea free from cynicism, snide remarks, and Hugo-hate asides. Perhaps address some of the countless ideas from this sizable thread in version 2.0. I am profoundly confident that if you dialed down the rhetoric, the response would have a much different tone.

    I think everyone would prefer that, honestly.

    Comment by jer_ - September 13, 2015 2:30 pm

  248. I agree that a second draft would be an excellent idea. Maybe even close up comments here and take a day or few to do it.

    Comment by Bruce B. - September 13, 2015 2:35 pm

  249. Except that Justice wasn’t rated against The Three Body problem or Goblin Emperor. It was rated against Neptunes Brood which is was superior too. Mercy was ranked against those books and came third. So the system worked.

    Should Mercy have been there? Yes. I thought so when I nominated it. It didn’t get my first place vote.

    This is at the core of what’s been annoying me about the way you, Jay and others argue. You’re playing rhetorical Find the Lady where the lady is palmed every time.

    Comment by daveon - September 13, 2015 2:36 pm

  250. “I am profoundly confident that if you dialed down the rhetoric, the response would have a much different tone.”

    I wish I could be confident of that.

    I haven’t been this depressed since I drove home from Penguicon 2004 by myself.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 13, 2015 2:50 pm

  251. In fairness, Jay, you haven’t given it an attempt yet.

    Comment by jer_ - September 13, 2015 2:51 pm

  252. Jay, from the point of view of an RPGer, it looks like you started playing Pathfinder at one table, a D&Der stopped in and played a session and had fun, then left to play D&D at a different table.

    If you’re bummed because you’re not having fun here, then get up and see if you’d have fun at the other table.

    Cat gave you the link. If those are the awards you want to get behind creating, then go join in humbly and help create them.

    Comment by sfHeath - September 13, 2015 3:07 pm

  253. Jay, In the spirit if putting my time and energy where my mouth is — that’s one of the things I most respect about your effort — I offer to beta read a new update post, if you decide to make one. If at any point you want to take me up on that, John O’Neill can give you my email address.

    Comment by Sarah Avery - September 13, 2015 3:10 pm

  254. @firstgen—-yep, I’d have to agree on most of that. There will always be a difference of opinion when it comes to “real” SFF is. It is the “no true Scotsman” argument.

    One thing I will say, getting a supporting membership on a grant(?) or however you get it. No one is forcing them to vote No Award. They did it on their own accord—just like the Rabid Puppies had a choice to vote in lock step with Vox Day. It shows just how partisan the whole genre has become. How do you undo that? Do you want to undo that?

    @Bruce—I don’t buy the argument that $40 argument. I think it is to keep the voting pool small. I’ve put together military balls that were twice the size and worked on high school proms and graduation ceremonies that took up an entire stadium. We even flew in guest speakers to these events so I have my doubts. How is it that Worldcon has a ceremony with 6K attendees and a membership of 11.5K? At minimum that is $250K-500K. The Navy-Marine Corps ball that I worked on was $50K and served 10,000 people or more with full dinner and rented out a huge hotel. They flew in 20 guests. I’ve seen high school graduations of the same size that get thrown for $12K. I know that the SanAntonioCon throws a bigger crowd and does it for $35K. Worldcon doesn’t pass the smell test. I’d say it is more proof of their mismanagement.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 13, 2015 3:13 pm

  255. Wild Ape: you’re at liberty to think whatever you think, of course. I’m telling you what the fee means, and has meant for a long time, to those of us in that part of the fandom forest.

    Comment by Bruce B. - September 13, 2015 3:16 pm

  256. OK, I did mean it about wishing Jay well, and part of that is not wanting to add stress. So this really is it for me for this thread. I do look forward to seeing what comes next, though.

    Comment by Bruce B. - September 13, 2015 3:18 pm

  257. WA: As someone who has thrown a wide range of different types of events, to include conventions, you’re comparing apples to hand grenades to Mazda Miatas there.

    Also, no conspiracy theory needed: WorldCons report their finances pretty regularly.

    Comment by jer_ - September 13, 2015 3:23 pm

  258. Jay, you’re not the only one worn out by this. BG was never a depressing place to visit, but for too much of the past six months, that’s just what it has been for me. John is the Lord of the Manor and the site is his to run as he sees fit, but I think it might be wise to not only close comments on this piece, but to shut down the whole damn Hugo/Puppy subject altogether for a while, because almost every discussion begins as a picnic and ends as a knife fight – and that’s true even though Black Gate is, I think, an unusually amicable online community! (I can’t even imagine what it’s like elsewhere, and I don’t want to know.) But I for one am exhausted and demoralized from seeing a daily demonstration of the Three Laws of Internet Discussion Thermodynamics –

    One: All topics worth discussing will irresistibly attract the worst – most undisciplined, intemperate, intolerant, provocative – participants, as well as the best ones.

    Two: In internet discussions, over time the tone will be set and the direction will be determined by the worst participants.

    Three: The longer a discussion continues, the greater the probability that the best participants will become indistinguishable from the the worst.

    Comment by Thomas Parker - September 13, 2015 3:40 pm

  259. @daveon—-whatever dude, I meant Ancillary Sword and you know it. I read Ancillary Justice back when it came out and I found it lacking too. You’d rather quibble and do your trolling. I haven’t read Ancillary Mercy and I doubt that I will even if you slate it into the next nomination.

    “This is at the core of what’s been annoying me about the way you, Jay and others argue. You’re playing rhetorical Find the Lady where the lady is palmed every time.”

    What do you know, another talking point, what a surprise. Maybe you’ll find a typo or something so trivial that you can avoid looking irrelevant. People asked for criticism of Ancillary and Leckie and I gave it. Why don’t you enlighten us all and tell us why Ancillary Sword is the be all end all of fiction and why it is better than what Cherryh or MacCaffery wrote which was RECOGNIZED and shown to be better. By all means take an asprin, get over your annoyance, and spell it out instead of grousing about palming Ladies or whatever.

    Meanwhile, the adults will continue to discuss how to build a better process. It looks to me that Cat, Jay, and others are coming up with constructive ideas and toning things down. sfHeath, jer, and others seem to be here to listen and contribute and not rehash the division in fandom. That is the topic, and I should not have been suckered into responding to something off topic.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 13, 2015 3:40 pm

  260. Dear Mr Maynard,

    thank you for starting this conversation, and for your effort in establishing a new award. I especially like that it is for storyteling. I myself think that you do not need to explain yourself to anyone,for the rules that you set for this award. After all, as you mentioned, it is said that if anyone is not satisfied with some award, they can vcreate their own. As it has been shown, someone on this thread already is making her own award.

    To me the storyteling is based in the literature aspect of the work – style empleyed for naration, the construction and organization of the both plot and writing style, charascterization, description and so on.

    Since this is targeted for SF, also I think, the storyteling needs to adress the SF element that work employs. In the SF prose , this novum, if you will, this new element must be driving force behind the plot of the work. It must feel integral to the plot, and not to feel like tacked on windowdressing.

    ( There is a whole subgenre of fantastic fiction when the element of fantastic is not primary, but tacked on – it is magic realism. The one thing that struck me while I read all the often mentioned short stories, especially THE RAIN, and SELKIE STORIES, and also here not mentioned PAPER MENAGERIE and WAKELA SPRINGS, is this tacking on, that fantastic element is just added as an afterthought. It is a hallmark of a fiction that – to me at least – is afraid to be labeled as SF/Fantasy/Horror but wants to be more mainstream. Hence, they are technically stories of fantastic, but lousy genre stories. DINOSAUR, alas, for all the handwringin is in no way, shape or form a fantastical story. )

    ( Also, when I read mentioned stories, I though exluse that story DOS SAKET or what itis called, becasue I do not know is it translated or not, which prose failings could be attriuted to bad translation, my feeling is that I have been reading something produced at some highschool literary section. Cyclical repetition of elements of plot, prose flourishes which have no sense ( misguided attempts at comprison swhich do not make sense in particular is a repeating flaw ), one dimensional characters. As for plot, I remember after reading THE RAIN – I liked it better when it was less rainy ANg Lee movie. )

    So, stop apologizing, changing rules, trying to please everybody. It will not work. Do your thing man. If someone does not like it, they make their own award.

    In my country, three major literary awards are given by the commitees. Most recognized one is by the journalist. There is nomination process, where journalists from major newspapers print their selections from best novel to story ets – this is non genre award by the way, after all eligible nominated works are screened for eligibility, a panel of judges screen it doen to top five. Than all the journalist gather and vote for the best of those five. It ahs been going on for some 40 years and no one has ever batted an eye.

    Best to you, Opus.

    Comment by Opus - September 13, 2015 3:54 pm

  261. @jer—You mean to tell me that they only collected 45K? That report was a rabbit hole that showed nothing but a final accounting. I’d say you are comparing apples to hand grenades. I might be totally off but I have been part to putting on things like that and we got a better deal for $20 than I ever did with my $40 with the Hugo. And yeah, it isn’t an equal comparison but I’d bet that it is pretty close. I don’t think Worldcon is up to anything criminal if that is what you think I was implying. How many people got grants? I’m even more curious now. I’m no accountant but 5K supporting fans times $40 is a hell of a lot more than $45,000 on that report. See what I mean? They are a non profit so I’m sure that they have it all accounted for but 23K sounds a lot closer to the mark for what an event that size should cost, not $200K-$500K. There isn’t enough information on that report and I don’t want to dig through 100 reports to find what I want. If you can find what the cost for the convention was or how much funds they got from all the supporting memberships that would be cool.

    Don’t do that on my account jer. Let’s stick to the important things. I know a couple of guys who set up a non profit organization. It was a ton of work they said but doable. Personally, I’d rather give Cat or Jay or someone money to get a good lawyer to write it up and spare them the headaches. Maybe we could come up with a counter rational or board idea. I certainly like Cat’s idea on rewarding stories.

    I’m thinking that the board should be five people. Two maybe from the industry and three who are super fans like the one who has an obituary here on BG. We need people who are more partisan about the genre than people who are partisan about their politics. What do you think?

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 13, 2015 4:05 pm

  262. So you… Uhh… Sorta only read the first page, huh? Awkward. You should scroll down a bit. It seems to average about a million bucks a year, give or take…or like a half million per half page you read.

    Also, if you didn’t appreciate the benefits you got for $40 (I got more than $40 in reading material alone), you should totally vote with your feet.

    Comment by jer_ - September 13, 2015 4:11 pm

  263. @Wild Ape As apologies have been accepted I will say no more.

    Yes I’ve read the puppy issues for 3 years now. I’m not going to comment on them as it’s counterproductive to moving a discussion about a new award forward.

    @Jay I’m sorry your depression has hit a low. As a fellow sufferer my best advice is get away from all this and do something that brings you joy or contentment. I’ve found that helps me.

    Comment by TashaTurner - September 13, 2015 4:22 pm

  264. I was thinking about this “unproven corruption” thing and how it could be countered in the new award. One way would be transparency. Not showing all raw data, but perhaps when nominations are released, showing who voted for each of the nominees.

    But that would also be a breeding ground for conflict. Making people discuss the voters instead of the nominees and winners.

    Comment by Hampus - September 13, 2015 4:26 pm

  265. @jer–also I wanted to know the voting information, not so much how big the bar tab was for the event–lol. I’m sorry if I sounded mean spirited about the Hugo. I feel a lot like Jay and I’m still getting over the butthurt. I feel that 70% of fandom would like to exterminate my existence sometimes. I mean, this is just an award for fiction for crying out loud and we are all fans. So, fan to fan, I’m contributing to the Sad Puppy list but there isn’t malice or vengence in my heart. I’m just rooting for the writers and stories I like and I don’t wish to ruin your fun. I appreciate that you and others are trying to advance fandom. I’m really trying not to jab and troll. daveon who runs a blog whose last two topics were dancing on Wright and Torgersen is just trolling the Sad Puppies. Sometimes I aim at him and you get offended. I regret that you feel you get some of the artillery splash.

    @Thomas—-Hey, this is important. And it is returning to being positive. From time to time I have to take a time out from the heat in BG but it is important that neutral ground exists if fandom is going to be less hostile. This is the first promising post I’ve seen. Instead of the usual bickering I’m seeing constructive talk. Everybody is tuning in because it is still a hot topic. I wish you didn’t feel uncomfortable. I know John gets stressed out but BG has been different than all the other places that are highly partisan. The voice of reason and calm will not come from the blogs of Vox Day, Correia, Scalzi, Sandifer and the like. It looks ugly now but it will get better.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 13, 2015 4:27 pm

  266. Well, if you can’t trust a Wild Ape, then who can you trust?

    Comment by Thomas Parker - September 13, 2015 4:29 pm

  267. @jer–yep, I didn’t scroll down, lol I’ll check it out later. Thank you for the info. I appreciate it.

    :::::wiping egg off of face::::::

    @Tasha—thank you! I appreciate your candor. She is right Jay, fire up the Counter Strike and have some fun.

    @Hampus—Yep, showing the raw data so long as you screened names and personal info. It can’t be that hard.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 13, 2015 4:42 pm

  268. If you don’t want people to quibble then be clear, and don’t bring irrievelent stuff into the discussion – I will concur that I could have been clearer and slap on the wrist to me for angry posting on my phone.

    However, I actually disagree with your thesis, I can’t read Cherryh, and actually think both the Ancillary books, to date, have been better than anything I’ve read of hers. As for writing intelligent starships, if you’d said Asher or Banks do it better I’d have had to agree – but British authors typically don’t get Hugo nods. I’ve even used something from Down Below Station in my talk on science errors in science fiction because of something that she did. As for McCaffery, honestly, I have never liked her stuff – I know lots of people who do, but it really has never worked for me. I forced myself through some of the Dragon books and Crystal Singer at the insistence of an ex and honestly, I think Leckie is better.

    Anyway, you’re palming those cards again. You stated Mercy wasn’t as good as TBP or TGE – I agree, that’s why I voted it 3rd in my ranking as did a lot of other people because, and let’s say this altogether kids “It Didn’t Win”. It did win last year and that’s because it was better than Neptune’s Brood and the other books on the list. I nominated 5 works last year, 2 of which I liked/thought were better, but they didn’t make the final ballot.

    Next – Worldcons publish accounts, you can go look at the numbers and see where they’re wrong. Having been involved in the organization of and paying for tech events, they’re actually remarkably good value. But sure, a one night event in a hall – that’s absolutely the same thing. Sure….

    Finally – you’re not discussing a better process. You’re discussing a different award – I think that’s a wonderful idea, off you go. But the adults will stick around, thank you, and call you and Jay for the rampant double standards you’re showing.

    Comment by daveon - September 13, 2015 4:58 pm

  269. Separate point of order – and I too want the data shared – the data being asked for is the nomination data and NOT the voting data.

    The voting data itself was made public after the awards.

    I’m assuming there are a non-trivial number of ballots where it’s obvious people voted for themselves and themselves alone and that will be obvious if they just published the data.

    But Wild Ape, feel free to keep hurling unfounded accusations and then claim that the rhetoric here is nicer than other places.

    Comment by daveon - September 13, 2015 5:03 pm

  270. Tasha: well, I’ve finally gotten under the hood of the car and started in on what should have been a simple job…but I twisted a bolt off, and am hoping it won’t cost me having to replace the water pump as well as the thermostat.

    Fortunately, this is my second car, one I drive for fun, and so it can afford to sit in the garage for a few days. It sat there for five months last year while I slowly dealt with a rusted suspension component, after all. (When the spring pokes out of the bottom of the trailing arm to which the wheel and rear axle are attached, it’s not good.)

    So now it’s soaking in PB Blaster, and I hope it loosens enough I can get a pair of Vice-Grips on it and back it out.

    But with that job at a standstill…back to the computer…*sigh*

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 13, 2015 5:12 pm

  271. Let me state right out: in my opinion the Hugos are not broken. Anyone proposing an alternative based on the premise that they are will have to convince me with proof. They are the ones proposing a change, they have to provide the rationale, that’s how it works.

    I’m sorry being challenged on this point is hard for Jay to deal with, but that, in the end, is his problem.

    I am willing to be swayed by rational arguments. Until now I have seen nothing but handwaving, attempts at false equivalence and goalpost-moving. I’m very sorry if that is not an inducement for me to stay nice.

    I respect folks like Cat who are willing to engage in dialogue, but I’m afraid if the other side is arguing on a shaky basis, even if they do so in good faith, it is not going to lead to a constructive end.

    And finally, I take jabs that I dont really like works like ‘Ancillary Justice’, but only value them as political pamphlets as an insult. I see a lot of people, Jay included, treat criticism grounded on observable facts a lot worse; why then should I be quiet when I feel insulted?

    Comment by mvdwege - September 13, 2015 5:18 pm

  272. @Wild Ape, you do understand that Worldcon hires a convention centre for five days? It’s not just a one-evening event to hand out Hugo Awards.

    For instance, LonCon3 (last year’s) raised and spent just under a million pounds in total. Membership income was £627,998.67 in total (attending and supporting memberships). The fee for hire of the convention centre (and other facilities, but mostly ExCeL) was £356,621.35 That was for about 50,000 square metres of space.

    Comment by po8crg - September 13, 2015 5:34 pm

  273. Scalzi has a few ideas on how to design a nomination process:

    I kind of like the one with a two stage nomination process.

    Comment by Hampus - September 13, 2015 5:44 pm

  274. Wild Ape:

    It is very hard to anonymize data. If you want to release raw data, it should be clear from the beginning that it will be released.

    And again, it will take focus from the awards. If you go through any type of raw data, I’m quite sure you will start to see cluters of interest that other people will start to discuss.

    I think there are kind of two opposite goals:

    a) Be as transparent as possible.
    b) Minimize the potential for conflict and nitpicking.

    Comment by Hampus - September 13, 2015 6:18 pm

  275. Hampus: At the risk of showing my ignorance, what I’d intended was that the raw ballots, both nominating and voting, would be released with only the actual votes themselves on them, all other information stripped off. Not even the internal ID of the voter would be included, even though that would not be usable for any purpose without the eligible voter database (which itself would be treated the same as credit card data under current merchant best practices as set down by the card issuers).

    What am I missing?

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 13, 2015 6:37 pm

  276. @Jay—that sucks about your ride. It looks to me like a consensus is building here. I’m wondering if you like the idea of showing the vote minus the private info. That should suffice for your trust in the vote. I think Hampus has the right idea there. Cat’s award spread looks like a better fit for the purpose of story. I hope you take up Sarah’s help for removing the inflammatory stuff (heh heh heh, she can’t edit my posts). If John wants to give you my email or if Cat, jer, and Sarah want mine that would be cool with me.

    @jer—thanks, I got to scan it briefly while watching the football game. It looks like the put on a lavish party so….that is fine. What I did see was something interesting in a donation to the science fiction outreach project. Now, if you think about it that was a terrific idea but they only gave $5k to it and then gave $25K to the NUI foundation.

    Think about your first sci fi book and where did it come from. For me it was a history teacher that had a book collection like John O’Niell’s basement. He let me pick one or two books to borrow and thus my fandom was formed reading Rendesvous with Rama, Heinlein, Asimov and the others. I eventually found a Conan book too. My wife made me give up my books that couldn’t be on a Kindle which ended up being a book give away to the local kids. I think this is a worthy cause and I know that we could do better than $5K. If you want SFF fans then you need to make them or find them.

    @daveon—“But Wild Ape, feel free to keep hurling unfounded accusations and then claim that the rhetoric here is nicer than other places.”

    Have you been to your own blog lately or is it ghost written? Your hypocrisy is comically stunning.

    “As for writing intelligent starships, if you’d said Asher or Banks do it better I’d have had to agree – but British authors typically don’t get Hugo nods.”

    Two things: First, you and I are different people. Even though your criticism is very thin and lame I’ll take you at your statement that you didn’t like Cherryh or MacCaffery. It is hard sci-fi and that can be tedious for some people who might not grasp the physics and science. Cherryh is sophisticated, and unwinds mysteries, and has great characterization so she is very cerebral. Leckie might be sophisticated in her world building and her gender characterization but she is a good writer too although the Ancillary series did not impress me. She has done better. That doesn’t make you or I wrong it just means a difference of opinion. I’m still waiting to hear specifics on why she is so much better, forged new territory or whatever. Still waiting. I think, based on your comments that you’ve come here really to bash Puppies and I’ve yet to hear a peep about what Jay is proposing. That is why I think you are here to troll and perhaps your blog is a little lonely now that the Hugo scuffle is over.

    Second, there are many British writers who are and have been Hugo worthy. I voted for James Lovegrove’s “Big Ben and the End of the Pier Show”. I doubt you’d like it. It was a tribute to the Tommy infantryman and it had big kaiju monsters in it.

    “But the adults will stick around, thank you, and call you and Jay for the rampant double standards you’re showing”

    I’m wondering if it is just me, but when I read what you say I hear this angry Daffy Duck voice. If you note, I have a completely different tone that I use with people that have come here to discuss the award rationally. Dial down the whining and the Puppy kicker venom and I’ll do the same.

    @Jay—your board of directors, I recommend staggering the terms so that once the initial core is established the board cannot be changed 100% in three years. It might be good that way to keep the spirit of the award that way and not disrupt the whole award every three years. I think it would go far to build trust and faith.

    mvdwege—-“And finally, I take jabs that I dont really like works like ‘Ancillary Justice’, but only value them as political pamphlets as an insult.”

    Okay, can you see it as a strongly worded opinion that you disagree with? Honestly, I’ve said some criticism of Ancillary Justice that might be considered harsh. I like Leckie as a writer. If I have said something that sparked anger just remember that it is only one ape’s opinion. The difficulty we are having with Jay is his definition of message fiction. Most of us don’t mind message fiction. Flowers for Algernon for instance is a good example of message fiction and yet it widely viewed as the standard for a Hugo award. Politics is a part of SFF and I think Jay is coming around to seeing that. I can’t speak for him myself. His complaint as I understand it is that most of the winners and nominations in the past with the Hugos has been strongly one sided message fiction. He would like to see more story over message. That is why Cat’s idea about rewarding story is so smart. Allow Jay time to sort things out. I appreciate your duress and I’m glad to see that your post voiced your concern about being insulted. Remember, there are other eyes that see what you write. I for one see that you are attempting to contribute and that is a good thing.

    Whether or not the Hugos are broken are really a side issue. It isn’t just Jay’s problem. Why are there so many who are not satisfied with the Hugo? I’m not seeing it just here but in many places. Some see it as steaming along perfectly but many see it as a club trophy.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 13, 2015 7:09 pm

  277. Jay –

    You didn’t ask me, but I’ll venture an answer anyway. If Lucy posts on their website or on Twitter “I voted for BOB in category 1,” and then when the ballots are released only one ballot has a vote for BOB, then anyone who puts in the effort to search can see not only that Lucy voted for BOB, but also everything else on Lucy’s ballot.

    That’s an overly simple example, but the point is, even voter ballots with the names scrubbed off can sometimes be linked to the voter. That’s just a known fact.

    All of which is fine, IMO, so long as right from the start, when people nominate or vote, they are told that the ballots will be released with the names scrubbed off, so the voting data won’t remain absolutely secret. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being that open, as long as everyone knows the deal before they vote.

    Comment by barrydeutsch - September 13, 2015 7:14 pm

  278. @po8crg—yep, I’ve moved on from that. It looks like they threw a big party is all–no harm no foul. I suppose what my anger stems from was the ceremony that I saw. It looked to me to be very abusive to the nominees. Where I come from you don’t act rudely as a guest and if you are a host it is very unmanly and vile to mistreat your guests. From what I’ve heard from one of the nominees is that there were some bad players and the atmosphere was a bit hostile. Is that any way to treat a guest? That is where I’m coming from.

    @Hampus—I don’t buy that argument that it is hard to anonymize data. I’ve seen it done properly many times. Put out how individual ballots were cast–no names or id info. How can they do this with grades at every college and high school but they can’t seem to do it with the Hugos? I don’t think you can eliminate conflict and nitpicking. I think that is just how humans act in groups. I do think you can find who votes in slates and if someone is buying multiple memberships though.

    As for Scalzi’s idea I’m afraid that I am so bias against him that I’d have to hear the same thing from a different source. Thank you though my friend. I’m trying to stay positive and eliminate as much flame throwing as I can. Pass it off as one of your ideas here. I’d listen to a suggestion you make.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 13, 2015 7:22 pm

  279. @barry—you make a good point. The odds are pretty slim that Bob would only get one vote though.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 13, 2015 7:25 pm

  280. WA: Cat’s category list is unavailable. The cool kids took it away from the nerds. Should I decide that this is worth pursuing any farther and the heartache it will surely bring, I’ll definitely take Sarah up on her offer.

    As for anonymization: That’s why the rules say the votes, stripped of personally identifying data, will be made public in a form that can be easily processed.

    daveon and mvdwege: I’ve already removed the rationale you object to. There needs to be something there that explains why we’re going to all this trouble, though. I can’t celebrate the things that make good stories good any more. So now what? Is there a rationale that you’d accept? Or should I simply give up and let the cool kids have it all, and go away as so many would like me to do?

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 13, 2015 7:36 pm

  281. @Jay Maynard

    I sympathise with how it must feel to have someone take your concept (storytelling awards), refine it and then do it themselves, but I hope you can move past it to join in with forming the awards with Cat Valente. She’s invited you and I think it would be good if the original pusher behind the idea was involved, and I also think it would be good for you to have that positive to focus on.

    I also think it would be worth remembering that whichever table someone sits at, if they’re commenting on Black Gate or File770 they’re probably one of the “nerds”. Lets not try and make cool kids/nerds divisions.

    Comment by Meredith - September 13, 2015 7:49 pm

  282. Meredith, how much cooler can you get in fandom than being a multiple Hugo-nominated/winning author?

    I’m not going to go beg the cool kids to accept me. I’m going to assume she meant it sincerely when she invited me to chime in, but I still feel that would merely be helping the cool kids to take my work away from me.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 13, 2015 7:53 pm

  283. […] or just a groupthink dynamic – of “Social Justice Warriors.” When they regard (not to say read) Leckie’s novels, they don’t see rip-roaring space opera with an interesting bit […]

    Pingback by How to Stop Worrying and Start Loving the Ancillary Novels (if You’re Not a Liberal) « Unqualified Offerings - September 13, 2015 7:54 pm

  284. @Jay Maynard

    I’m not sure how anyone can take your work away if you go with it.

    Comment by Meredith - September 13, 2015 8:11 pm

  285. Because it’s not my work any more. It’s Cat Valente’s awards, now. She’s been quite vocal in saying so.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 13, 2015 8:14 pm

  286. “It is hard sci-fi and that can be tedious for some people who might not grasp the physics and science.”

    Oh ok, it’s because I is tooo stupidz for the science. Ok. Weirdly I didn’t have a problem with the physics in Timelike Infinity or any of Baxter’s other early ones, and I think Reynolds is writing some of the finest VERY hard SF around at the moment. But I did have problems with the harmonics of FTL ‘crystals’ and docking spaceships on the rotating edge of space stations where that’s how they generate artificial ‘gravity’. Are those the ‘hard’ SF ideas you’re thinking of? Because, then you are right, we are different people.

    As for specifics on Leckie: I think she did an excellent job of the nature of distributed intelligence and how that might be experienced – especially in the flashback sequences. I also thought she handled the way the editing of different elements of an overall personality had been handled so it wasn’t clear to the entire collective that it had happened. Nicely done, and that sequence was nicely written.

    I haven’t read much Lovegrove since Days, but then I prefer BIG space opera so Banks, Hamilton, Asher, Reynolds and so forth are much more my cup of tea. But my point, which you ignored, wasn’t that there aren’t plenty of Hugo Worthy British writers (there are) but that they are frequently over looked because the Hugo nomination process skews North American – which is a shame, and, weirdly, an area I agree with the general thrust of some puppy arguments over. I also like Ian MacDonald’s stuff and still feel that he was robbed in 2005, but a lot of people don’t agree with me there which is fine.

    All of this is a long way of saying, we all like different things and what I keep coming back to is that you, Jay and a few others are really struggling with the concept that you might not represent majority opinions over the stuff you like and feel like there’s a conspiracy to stop the stuff you like getting awards. There isn’t. You say up there ‘why are so many unhappy with the Hugos’ – that’s meaningless really. There are people unhappy with the Hugo Awards – that’s about as shocking as people disliking Brussel Sprouts.

    But, please PLEASE create your own awards for stuff. Please. Off you go.

    As for my ‘blog’ being lonely? Which ‘blog’ are you referring to? Because I genuinely haven’t a clue what you’re talking about.

    Comment by daveon - September 13, 2015 8:20 pm

  287. Jay, you probably won’t believe me when I say that I say this with a tremendous amount of genuine respect and even affection for you as a human being, but I’d like to offer you a bit of perspective here:

    We’re all nerds.

    We—all of us—at our best, at our most accomplished, deal with the feeling that we are the geek who somehow got invited to the cool party, and we’re afraid that at any moment someone will notice us and kick us out… or worse, that the whole thing was an elaborate prank that we were too socially inept to notice.

    And I think this is part of the problem here. We don’t see you as a loser. We don’t see you as someone beneath us. I know you’re probably thinking that’s easy for me to say, as I’m quite sure you’ve got no idea who I even am. But I know Cat well enough to know that it’s true for her, and I would gamble it’s true of everyone else here.

    I mean, sure, John Scalzi may invoke his top dog alpha nerd status in a tongue-in-cheek way, but only to refute the idea that there even is such a thing as nerd social status.

    Maybe you feel like the cool kids are picking on you, and you have no power to do anything in return, but we, Jay… we are your peers. We’re your fellow nerds. We’re part of fandom right alongside you.

    And that’s why it hurts us when you blithely insult us, when you casually deride our tastes, when you assert that no one who cares about storytelling could possibly enjoy the stories we enjoy.

    Because you’re not the loser in the corner. You’re one of us.

    And when we someone like Cat offers you criticism, or tells you that your jabs hurt, she is not seeing you as some cringing peon who dared to breathe her air. She is talking to you as a fellow fan, one who has expressed fellowship with all fans.

    Jay, you’re posting on Blackgate and people are commenting on your post. I’ll tell you, I didn’t know you were “Tron Guy” of internet fame when I started commenting on your proposal. I didn’t know who you were. I didn’t care. I still don’t. You’re no less an ~*official*~ than anyone else, and no one else is more ~*real*~ than you are.

    Not Cat Valente. Not Larry Correia. Not John Scalzi. No one.

    Jay, the ideals you talk about… when divorced from the divisive rhetoric/narrative that says true fandom must be protected from infiltrators who want to take awards away and give them to their friends for spurious reasons… those ideals resonate with people and excite them. That’s why people have continued to engage with you.

    You’re in awe of Cat Valente because she won some awards? I’m not downplaying her achievements, but you’re peeking behind the curtain here. Those awards all started as Some Nerd Somewhere Had An Idea.

    Heck, hr books all started—and Cat, you know I say this with love—but her books all started with Some Nerd Somewhere Had An Idea.

    (This comment also started with Some Nerd Somewhere Had An Idea. Because we are all nerds.)

    The thing is, when you’re the nerd with the idea… you’re all too aware that you’re just a nerd and it’s just an idea. It never occurs to you that every other nerd with an idea out there feels exactly the same way. All those storytellers you want to celebrate. .. they are all nerds with ideas, and if they don’t at least occasionally feel like they’re an absolute phony, the unpopular kid at the cool party hoping not to be noticed, then well… Dunning-Kruger suggests they might not be as good at their craft as they think.

    Jay, if you want to tear down divisions within fandom, start with this one.

    Because the thing is, I think this has a lot to do with the Puppy perspective: someone feels like they don’t belong and assumes there must be an external reason. Someone feels like everybody else in a room or on a message board or at a con is perfectly at ease with each other and everyone else knows each other while they themselves are the awkward outsider whose presence is resented.

    But we all feel that way.

    Not all the time, but we all feel it.

    It’s something that we share. It’s not just part of the shared experience of nerdery, it’s part of the human condition. But it’s maybe most true for nerds.

    So let’s support each other, even if we don’t agree about everything else, let’s support each other in this. No one here is your better. No one here aspires to be your better. We are fandom. We are nerds. We are all, in our own way, storytellers.

    You want to put together a proposal to unite fandom? Start by seeing us all as fans. That is what the meat of the criticism against you has been from the beginning. You could forget most of the specific complaints that have been directed at you and just hold fast to the idea of all fans, all nerds, all geeks… no divisions, no preconceptions, no dogma and that would solve almost everything.

    You’re in the cafeteria of nerdery, Jay. They’re all the cool kid tables because they’re all the nerd tables.

    I mean, you know Vin Diesel plays D&D? Most people wouldn’t even think of him as a nerd, bodybuilding action hero that he is. But he is.

    Gail Simone blogged about comics before she ever wrote them.

    John Scalzi sure as heck watched Star Trek before he ever wrote Redshirts.

    And Jay Maynard? He was a guy in a homemade Tron costume before he posted an SF/F awards proposal to Blackgate.

    Welcome to the table. You’ve got as much right to a seat as anyone.

    Comment by alexandraerin - September 13, 2015 8:24 pm

  288. Jay: Outside of the trust thing, where my objection was it’s as dodgy a concept as the ‘do you know a real fan’ thing in the TAFF/DUFF/GUFF stuff, I have zero issues with your concept or idea. I’m also not entirely convinced by Cat’s, to be honest.

    I mean this with all due honesty too: go for it, don’t be discouraged by Cat’s ideas, join with her or do your own thing, the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

    The only thing is, as I don’t much think the Hugo’s are broken, and that this is going to be a HUGE pile o’work, all I can do is say Good LUCK, and hope it goes well.

    Comment by daveon - September 13, 2015 8:24 pm

  289. @Jay Maynard

    It’s either your work, which you have a right to decide has been taken OR to go with it and work on it and make a big beautiful award that both Puppies and non-Puppies can be proud of, or it isn’t your work and couldn’t have been taken from you because it isn’t your work.

    Look, whether you work on Valente’s refinement or make your own, either way you could make a big beautiful award to be proud of. But don’t let hurt feelings (that are totally valid! I think most people would feel hurt) get in the way of what could be a really great, cross-fandom, bring all minds together collaboration. I think you being involved could make it that cross-fandom collaboration.

    If you decide not to be involved, make it a decision based on what’s best for you and best for what you want from an award, not based on feeling hurt. Hurt could be a very temporary thing versus looking back in ten years and holy shit you made an award and people like it, you know?

    Comment by Meredith - September 13, 2015 8:42 pm

  290. @Jay—I can’t answer if it is worthy of your time or not. If anything your post has brought a great deal of attention. There seems to be a lot more outreach this time around. That is HUGE. I think most people are tired of the bickering and long to have mellow Puppies instead of angry packs barking at their heels. I must have missed why Cat’s category list is unavailable. Did she copyright it or something? I’d pursue asking her. I’m not following what is said on other blogs but her model sounds good.

    You have to look at it this way too. There are many people who are looking for another award. I think it isn’t just the Sad Puppies that are disappointed with the Hugos, I think it is more widespread. I think what most people want is for the Hugos to be mellow and just vote for good works and you and I might be coming off as insurgents. I think the spirit of Sad Puppies 4 looks more chill, more talk about stories, and not so much trading fire for fire. It is hard for me to be open to what they say but I try to filter through what they say to sort out the contributors from the trolls. If my hammering the trolls isn’t useful let me know and I’ll stop. You might want to fire up one blog at a time though brother.

    As for the “cool kids” and the “nerds”, you might want to take a look and comparison of Dragoncon and Worldcon in image. Over there Correia was a big hit and took a room that is normally for celebrities. Dragoncon throws a good party for everybody. That is just one con. I’d say that the bulk of fandom is there and there is room for everybody. A new award would fit right in and prosper I think.

    Honestly, you need to check the link on daveon and see him for who he really is. Check out how popular his site is and then ask yourself how he ever finds the time to come here. What he says will make more sense about who you are talking to when you ask if you should just go away. You might as well ask Scalzi that.

    Try for your rational the goal of promoting story that captures the sense of awe and wonder. I’m not a writer but maybe a god of storytelling might be a good award. It needs a name though. If it sucks, we’ll tell ya. It is better than the Blank Award. Listen to the song by Tenacious D Tribute song, hell call it the Tribute Award for the best in storytelling.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 13, 2015 8:56 pm

  291. I think the best rationale for wanting to start a new award is “Hey! There have been some great SF books and stories published this year! Let’s celebrate our favorites by giving them an award!” I don’t think a new award necessarily has to have anything beyond that in order to exist.

    Awards are fun. People like to win awards. They like to argue about who should or shouldn’t win an award. Having another one to talk about would be a good thing.

    I think, though, that starting a new award on the grounds that some other award is broken isn’t necessarily the best foot to put forward. I also think there is plenty of room in fandom for you to start an award celebrating great SF stories and for Cat to start one celebrating great story elements.

    Comment by Chris M. - September 13, 2015 8:59 pm

  292. Jay, Wild Ape,

    Regarding anonymization of data. I nominate four things in total, A, B, C and D. I write about A, B and C on my blog. NOT about D, because it is kind of embarassing. When raw data is released, it turns out only one person nominated pattern A, B and C. From that it is possible to deduct that I also nominated D, even if I never wrote anything about it.

    See Netflix as an example.

    Anonymization of data is hard. Anyone who says anything else has never worked with it himself in a social context during the internet age.

    Comment by Hampus - September 13, 2015 8:59 pm

  293. Wild Ape,

    Scalzis idea was basically that you nominate in two passes.

    1) The first round you can only nominate one work.
    2) The second round you get a long list of say top 12 works that have been nominated – without ranking. You can nominate any three works here with the exception that you can’t vote for a work you nominated in round 1.
    3) Voting as usual.

    I think it could be refined (do not like that you can’t vote in round 2 for what you nominated in round 1), but the idea of two passes should make it harder to game the system.

    Comment by Hampus - September 13, 2015 9:07 pm

  294. Wild Ape: That… that is a phenomenal idea.

    Jay, what do you think about the Calliopes?

    Calliope is the muse of eloquence and epic poetry, which basically translates to storytelling. Calliope was the muse who sang to Homer of Achilles and his rage, and wily Odysseus. She also featured heavily in the comic book Sandman, which was broadly speaking a story about stories, and the telling of stories, written by a master storyteller.

    Because Calliope is a mythological figure, you don’t have to worry about alienating or leaving one out by picking a real person with a lot of contentious baggage.

    Comment by alexandraerin - September 13, 2015 9:13 pm

  295. My god, Jay. The cool kids took “it” away from the nerds?

    I am a nerd. I am also one person. Not “kids.” One person who didn’t want her idea to be used to exclude people. Which you over and over show that you really, really want to do.

    Now you’re excluding me. From all of nerd-dom? What gives you the right?

    You were referring to my categories when you said the “cool kids” took “it” away. That is a lie. Because I came up with the categories all by myself. So they /are not yours/ and cannot be taken away. The arrogance it takes to claim something you never even imagined belongs to you and then act as though you’ve been wronged by it being stolen is breathtaking.

    I could not possibly, in good conscience, work hard to make these things happen with you and under your auspices when you insult me, over and over. Who in god’s name would? I do not owe my ideas to someone who doesn’t respect me. And it’s very, very clear now that you don’t respect me and you certainly don’t respect a huge number of people I work with. You cannot keep insulting people and expect them to leap to your cause.

    Because that? That is what the cool kids do to the nerds, Jay. They make fun of them and insult them and then demand that they help them with their homework.

    I don’t like saying shit like that. But I have been so patient while you called me names and I have had enough. What you are doing is not ok. Stop calling me a thief. Stop painting yourself as the aggrieved party because something you didn’t think of was “taken away” when I invited you to work on it with me and /it was never yours/.

    I know you’re hurt and I know you’re lashing out, but stop making me your target. Stop trying to change what happened. Stop trying to exclude people.

    My idea is NOTHING like your idea. The categories aren’t the same, the voting system isn’t the same, they have nothing in common besides being an award. I do not agree with how you want to run an award and do not want to be part of any award that works that way. We are incompatible in our goals. I want to celebrate everything. You want to exclude. In fact, I can be certain that you would deliberately exclude works I value from consideration. You have said so. Over and over. So how could I donate my idea to an award that would be used to club work I value and indeed work I might create over the head? It’s absurd! But you seem to think that because I thought of it while discussing how incredibly exclusionary, nearly fascistic, and insulting your setup was that your idea for an award has been taken from you.


    Keep going with your award! There is nothing stopping you. Nothing has been taken away. Nothing has happened. I haven’t even done a damn thing but talk to people on my own time about the logistics of a totally different kind of award–and the likelihood of anything actually moving forward is always slim. Why are you taking your ball and going home just because another kid wants to play four square instead of basketball? Absolutely nothing has changed. You still have TONS of suggestions on how to improve your award, and support to do it. It is pretty much totally irrelevant to you that some other person had a different notion. It changes nothing. You haven’t lost anything, you have the same resources and ideas as you did before I came along.

    The way you are acting toward me is totally unacceptable. It is wrong. You are shitting on my integrity and character and I won’t allow that.

    And I am a nerd. That is not yours to give or take away. From anyone. You do not get to police this community.

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 13, 2015 9:15 pm

  296. …okay, there is already at least one award called “Calliope”, but it’s not for literature. Maybe a full name like Calliope Award for Storytelling (CAST) to disambiguate? Calliope Trophy, Calliope Prize, or Calliope Medal might also serve a similar purpose… sorry, I’m just super excited about this idea.

    Comment by alexandraerin - September 13, 2015 9:20 pm

  297. Alexandra, that’s the best idea I’ve heard all day.

    Cat, I’m tired and still depressed and can’t think straight. I’ll answer you tomorrow. I’m going to go crawl into bed and try – and probably fail – to sleep.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 13, 2015 9:29 pm

  298. I’m also very interested to know why you think A. “they’re Cat Valente’s awards now” when I specifically I said I would just go work on the idea elsewhere to differentiate it from yours and B. I asked you to work on it with me.

    These are your awards! You have goals and convictions you should pursue! If I ever manage anything out of the goofy fun prize it’ll be awards that belong to the team that worked on them, which can include you!

    The only conclusion I can come to is that you need to be in control of the whole shebang, and going somewhere other than your post to work as part of a team rather than as the general giving orders doesn’t appeal to you.

    And given that you want to rival the Hugos and I want to make a silly MTV Awards style thing, I don’t see how they have anything to do with one another. You want the legitimacy of a Hugo-like award. I just want to make something fun.

    I asked you to work with me. You have done nothing but insult me and call me a thief and refuse. I genuinely do not get it.

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 13, 2015 9:31 pm

  299. @daveon—“Oh ok, it’s because I is tooo stupidz for the science.”

    Tedious does not mean that you are too stupid to grasp it unless you are hyper sensitive which you appear and ASSUME that I was calling you stupid. Hey, I read the Martian and the engineering was above me but Andy Weir made the story great and broke it down so my little ape brain could understand. I though Cherryh did too but hey. When I read hard sci-fi I usually need something light as a next read. That is what I meant by tedious.

    As for your specifics on Leckie—thank you. We just disagree on one particular work of Leckie. That Leckie is a good writer seems to be one thing that we do agree on.

    As for the British writers not getting Hugos and the award being America centric well….China did good this year. What’s up with you guys over the pond? (yes I know you are in America now). You need to do what the Sad Puppies are doing—grow numbers. Londoncon was an ideal event but there are more watching American football over there than attending Worldcon. Look, I like that Asterix the Gaul made it here, and Perry Rhodan, and all that. (yes I know, French and German) but you guys could be popular here. We loved the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Give us their equivalent in SFF. We miss George Orwell and Huxley.

    “I keep coming back to is that you, Jay and a few others are really struggling with the concept that you might not represent majority opinions over the stuff you like and feel like there’s a conspiracy to stop the stuff you like getting awards.”

    Ah yes, the concerned trolling ploy. Well, let us worry about that. Thank you for the heads up.

    “As for my ‘blog’ being lonely? Which ‘blog’ are you referring to? Because I genuinely haven’t a clue what you’re talking about.” I just clicked on your link that you have there. Maybe you should ask John to take it off. This guy—daveon sure talks like you, sure acts like you, and he sure shares your politics too with all three of his supporting audience.

    @Jay—Look, I’m thinking of teaming up with Cat. Look at it this way, she doesn’t have the baggage we have as Sad Puppies. Who cares if it is one person or fifty as long as the goal is made? Besides get a bunch of energized people together and they bring a creative synergy.

    I’d recommend getting rid of the anger at the Hugo. Sad Puppies and the like will gravitate for it and those who don’t like the Sad Puppies who might not have had their picks in the Hugos might gravitate towards it too. It would be a win-win.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 13, 2015 9:31 pm

  300. Sleep well, Jay. I hope the morning leaves you feeling less down.

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 13, 2015 9:31 pm

  301. @Cat—I like the idea of awarding story. Have you thought of a name? I was looking up story teller gods or figures from history like Homer, Anasi, Coyote, Huehuecoyatl, Calliope. That might fit the theme. What do you think?

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 13, 2015 10:00 pm

  302. Anasi was suggested, and I really like it, even though I’m scared of spiders. I like that and Calliope a lot.

    Comment by Cat Valente - September 13, 2015 10:01 pm

  303. Subject: Jay’s car – When my Chevy van reached 50,000 miles, just slightly past warranty, the starter fell off, choosing the entertaining method of having the hardened bolt break off inside the engine block. I took it to my neighborhood mechanic, who was usually pretty good at obscure things, but the only cure was really to drill the thing out, slowly, burning out drill bits, quickly. So he’d only work on mine when there wasn’t some other car that needed less annoying work done; took him a couple of weeks :-)

    Good luck!

    Comment by billstewart - September 13, 2015 10:05 pm

  304. @alexandrierin—Calliope, I was texting when I saw your post. Yeah, I like it. You hit it! Calliope. Wait a sec though…..

    “Wild Ape: That… that is a phenomenal idea”
    These moments are very rare but precious. I’ll have to put this in my Tome of Internet Awesomeness. Thanks alex, if my ego starts to swell just blast me with a firehose.

    Still, you brought up Calliope and that is one probably one of the best storytellers to pick. I think it would resonate with our European fandom too. I think it would look great in the rational as well to talk about tales of great deeds and wonder. I mean—we need to get someone who can channel Homer for the rational.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 13, 2015 10:15 pm

  305. Well, if Anasi looks like Charlotte from Charlottes web it won’t be too scary. If it looks like the one from Lord of the Rings…..

    I think if we had a spider the audience might be itchy with imaginary bugs. I’d put in a shameless plug for the Sad Puppies and recommend Coyote but….it would be a shameless plug.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 13, 2015 10:20 pm

  306. @billstewart—-man that would suck. There should be a Chicken Soup for the Car Just Past Warranty Soul book.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 13, 2015 10:31 pm

  307. […] I would like to talk about this, a proposal for an award for SF storytelling, created by a guy named Jay Maynard, whom you probably (do not) know as “Tron Guy.” I do not […]

    Pingback by Some Notes On Awards Proposals | Threat Quality Press - September 13, 2015 11:42 pm

  308. @Wild Ape:

    People calling ‘Ancillary Justice’ a political pamphlet that only won because of political box-checking, which is what Jay’s rationale alludes to, is not something we can split the difference on and say we just have different tastes.

    It is saying I did not enjoy a book because I thought it was good. It is not disagreeing with my taste, it is calling me a liar about my own tastes.

    I’m sorry, but I am not going to compromise with those who outright insult me. And if you Puppies want to take the same tack, fine. In terms of the Hugo, you’ve already been shown up as a small minority, so I don’t care.

    And you’re free to set up your own award; just as I am free to criticise the rationale for it for being made up out of innuendo.

    Comment by mvdwege - September 14, 2015 1:05 am

  309. Jay, I’m glad you heard my offer in the spirit I intended.

    Wild Ape and alexandraerin, Calliope is specifically the muse of epic poetry. An award that went under that name would be missing an opportunity if it didn’t have some form of award for epics.

    Where Anansi is venerated, it’s customary for human creators to leave a flaw uncorrected in every work, so as not to offend Anansi as the only one who can create perfection. That could be a really useful reminder to everybody that great works need not be, and maybe cannot be, perfect.

    Comment by Sarah Avery - September 14, 2015 2:18 am

  310. mvdwege, did you miss that the rationale has been struck and will be replaced?

    Sarah: Epics in what sense?

    Bill: I’ve owned two new GM products, and both were plagued with weird problems…nothing as serious as that, though. This one’s a rustbucket of a 1983 Mercedes, though. (Es könnte eine deutsche Rostlaube sein, aber es ist meine deutsche Rostlaube!) 237K miles or so, and I’m just hoping it doesn’t need a new head gasket.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 14, 2015 7:17 am

  311. @mvdwege—Let me get this straight. You are insulted because you think Jay thinks that you didn’t enjoy a book because it was good? And here I thought you were a delicate flower. And you don’t want to compromise with people who don’t believe you when you say something is good? Still you’ve managed to stand up for your right to criticize rationals and faced the fierce Dragon of Innuendo! I have no idea where you find such courage.

    @Sarah—I could go either way. We could add an epic for Calliope and chances are there is a flaw somewhere if we go with Anansi. Alex and Cat seemed to spark with Calliope. I like the idea of a team of fandom building an award. I’m looking forward to what others say and contribute.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 14, 2015 8:10 am

  312. @Wild Ape: “liar” is generally regarded as a pretty strong insult

    Comment by po8crg - September 14, 2015 9:05 am

  313. @Jay,

    Yes, I saw that; does that lessen the original impact? No, it doesn’t. It means that your apology is accepted, but when other folks like Wild Ape do not apologise for the same insult, I am not going to cut them slack because of you.

    @Wild Ape

    Yeah, see, this is what I mean. When 15% of the nominators feed us works by a bunch of homophobes and racists, we have to tiptoe around their feelings; but when I get irritated at insults to my tastes, I’m suddenly the wilting flower? I’m done with you. You can sod off.

    Comment by mvdwege - September 14, 2015 10:07 am

  314. Jay – said before and repeated now:
    The Locus Poll is an annual, online award vote that costs $0.00. So there is your example.

    Bruce B. Thanks for mentioning those other things, but as a Worldcon supporter since 1977, I can tell you that for many people such as myself, supporting memberships in Worldcon are all about (wait for it) –

    Supporting Worldcon.

    Getting the progress reports, getting the souvenir book, getting to nominate and vote are secondary to my desire to help the committee hold a good convention – whether I can be there or not.

    Comment by crotchetyoldfan - September 14, 2015 10:42 am

  315. mvdwege: You’re good at demanding apologies, but are you good at delivering them when they’re called for? Like, say, the raucous cheering and the Vonnegut Memorial Asterisks? Did you cheer at the NO AWARDs?

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 14, 2015 10:48 am

  316. Are we literally at the point where we’re trolling (fishing term, not internet term) for actions that aren’t currently in evidence to be upset by? To demand apologies for? Can we focus on the actual conversation that’s currently happening as the source for butthurt?

    Comment by jer_ - September 14, 2015 11:39 am

  317. Can people please refrain from bringing up outside disputes where irrelevant? Like, say, Puppy ballots or asterisks (to choose one from each corner)?

    @Jay Maynard

    Of all people, the responsibility for keeping things on track lies with you. Firther derailments ought to be beneath you.

    Comment by Meredith - September 14, 2015 11:49 am

  318. @Jay Maynard:

    This is going to go to moderation because it’s my first comment here, and if you want to leave it there or delete it, that’s totally your call. I just wanted to talk to you about depression, because it looks to me (and a bunch of other people with experience in it) like Churchill’s Black Dog has its big old paws on your shoulders and is licking your face.

    I don’t know what lore your usual section of fandom has about depression, but there’s a ton of knowledge over in the groups I hang out with. We’d love to help, because no matter where our disagreements lie, they don’t extend to being OK with watching someone struggle with this.

    So can I make a few suggestions?

    1. Be aware that your brain is lying to you. Don’t trust it. When you see hostility, ask yourself whether it’s the depression filtering what you read. Ask someone else (there are people in this conversation volunteering to help!). Or ask the person who said the thing to you if they meant to come across so hostilely.

    I’ve found, even when someone does mean to be a jerk, that I get a lot of social credit for calmly asking if that was their intent. And when they don’t, they’ll often slow down and explain what they really meant. It’s kind of a win-win.

    2. Give yourself a freaking break. Don’t feel you have to answer every comment, read every post. Pick some venues where you’re willing to have the conversation, choose a time when you’re willing to have it, and communicate that. Here is a good site, and maybe next weekend would be a good time to resume the discussion if you need to take some time out. Or wherever and whenever. But the internet does not get to dictate your schedule or the places you choose to go.

    Also, giving yourself a freaking break means not doing difficult and risky things offscreen either, because you’re carrying your brain weasels with you. Maybe leave the car to another day and go do something soothing and achievable. Reread a book you love, play a game you enjoy, watch a movie that makes you happy.

    3. Stop lashing out. Your misery does not entitle you to make other people miserable. Everyone else you’re dealing with is also vulnerable, also carrying their own history of struggle and discouragement. I know it’s tough, I know you feel like the world is against you, but that’s depression lying to you. On the other hand, if you give it free rein, you can very easily turn more people off.

    4. See point 2. Nobody, not even me, does a very good job of it at times like this, but please try.

    5. Consider whether you’re the best person to carry this thing further. Do you have the emotional resources, the energy, the patience, to do the kind of social and organizational work this will require? It’s going to need a statesman, someone with the ability to build bridges across communities, to listen and compromise. I don’t know what you’re like when you’re not overwhelmed and discouraged, so I don’t know if you can do this or not. You’re the best judge of that (though maybe not right now when you’re struggling.)

    6. Yeah, I’m pointing you back to 2 again.

    (My credentials? I have severe, chronic, wretched Seasonal Affective Disorder and I live north of 52° latitude. I spend six months of the year wrestling with depression, learning a little more each time, coping a little better. If I can tell you anything that will help you to cope, I will.)

    Comment by evilrooster - September 14, 2015 2:19 pm

  319. […] fallout from the Hugo mess, and this person proposes more gatekeeping, requiring membership in a “web of trust” in order to vote for a new award. I’m not impressed with the idea — it seems to imply more a web of distrust, where someone in […]

    Pingback by Forget character — how large are this fictional person’s boobs? - September 14, 2015 2:32 pm

  320. Huh. Comment didn’t go to moderation like I expected. OK.

    Comment by evilrooster - September 14, 2015 2:44 pm

  321. It did. I approved it when I saw it, as I do all non-spam comments on this thread.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 14, 2015 2:45 pm

  322. That’s OK. Wasn’t doubting you, just surprised because it seemed to appear immediately.

    Comment by evilrooster - September 14, 2015 2:47 pm

  323. @crotchetyoldfan—That is a lot of experience working for these conventions. Respectfully, in your experience what have you seen work in a board of directors for an award and what doesn’t work? What are the skill sets that are needed that you have seen as needed?

    @jer—thanks for the Worldcon info.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 14, 2015 4:59 pm

  324. Good Lord. So I finally managed to read through this entire string….

    I never post on these boards, but having just suffered through all that I will.

    Most things have been said, but what the hell.


    My constructive criticism here of your proposal is that its stated goals do not match the stated reason you are exploring creating a new award in the first place.

    You have stated (and I am paraphrasing) that it is your (and others) belief that there are SFF works that have not received the recognition they deserve from the existing world of awards organizations. As far as it goes, I think that is a perfectly legitimate opinion to have. I doubt you are the first person to feel that way, and I doubt you will be the last. But you want the proposed award to recognize the best SFF storytelling (generally), as decided by SFF fans (generally). That is a very broad mandate. And while there is nothing wrong with that in itself, why do you think “SF fans” in an open general merit popular vote would select works any different than they have been in all the existing award contests?

    The evidence suggests that you and the Puppies are in the distinct minority when it comes to what you think the truly deserving works are for general merit selections like “Best Novel.”.

    So creating an award system to recognize a series of general merit categories for “best storytelling” that is truly open to general fandom would likely result in more of the same sorts of works being nominated and winning. This is why some of your proposed systems (the trust web, the review board) appear to be an attempt to essentially stack the deck in favor in the kind of works you think should be receiving awards. But that is entirely inconsistent with the claim that the awards should represent the actual preferences of fans generally.

    A far more productive, and credible, goal would be bringing greater attention to the works you think are worthy of recognition – which is really the whole point of awards anyway. I happen to think a new award/award system is a great way of doing that. But it should be designed to meet that goal.

    The best way to do that is to identify the works you (and others) feel have been overlooked by the existing world of awards for whatever reasons and determine what their common characteristics are. What are they? I have to admit that this is something I’ve struggled to understand in trying to follow the whole Puppy thing. I get that Puppies are against “message fic” but I am less clear about what you and they are for.

    A brief perusal of the history of recent Hugo nominations does seem to show a paucity of the space opera sub-genre. Personally I think that’s unfortunate. I like and enjoy “literary” SF, but sometimes I want a good space opera. And it would be nice to recognize the outstanding examples of that sub-genre of SF. Maybe it’s more classic sword & board fantasy. Again, I very much enjoyed Goblin Emperor, but sometimes I’m not in the mood for a supernatural political thriller. It would be nice to shine some attention on well done classic sword & sorcery work.

    Give some examples of books or other works you think have been overlooked. Try to find what they have in common, and design the award around that. And try to avoid negative criteria. Better to select works based on what they are rather than what they aren’t.

    As to the rest, I actually do think there needs to be a way to verify identity to avoid ballot stuffing, particularly if you are doing it on the internet. Particular methods all have their pros and cons, but there should be some system.

    Comment by HalonEpidemic - September 14, 2015 5:47 pm

  325. I think aiming the awards at recognizing works similar to the classics of yesteryear is a pretty good idea. You can call it the Old School or, you know, something less lame. I’d be very interested in seeing what got nominated for that sort of award.

    Keep in mind though that you’ll still have plenty of room for disagreements and outright arguments. Just for starters, good luck coming up with a definition of “Classic Science Fiction,” “Space Opera,” “Sword and Sorcery” or “Epic Fantasy” that the majority of fans will agree with. But that’d be half the fun, really. For you. I wouldn’t touch that mess with a thirty nine and a half foot pole.

    Then you’ve got to think about what to do if a work that doesn’t fit the definition makes the short list. To use a hopefully non-controversial example, what do you do if “Lord of the Rings” gets on the ballot for “Best Sword and Sorcery” instead of or in addition to “Best Epic Fantasy?” Hell if I know, but a whole lot of people are going to be annoyed, no matter what you do.

    Honestly, I’m starting to think anyone who wants to create a new award is a masochist. You might be best off changing your name and fleeing to Liechtenstein. Brush up on your German.

    Comment by PeterM - September 14, 2015 9:16 pm

  326. GAH!!!!

    I take a long weekend, and this place explodes!

    Comment by TW - September 14, 2015 11:27 pm

  327. HalonEpidemic and Peter, you might be onto something about tightening the aesthetic focus of the award. The aesthetic the Sad Puppies advocate and would like to bring attention to is not my personal cup of tea, but I did recently have the strange and wonderful experience of winning the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award. Back in 1971, some fans, scholars, and fan/scholars founded an award for works “in the spirit of the Inklings,” the writing group Tolkien and Lewis belonged to. The Mythopoeic Society doesn’t try to represent all of fandom, but their award is pretty well regarded anyway.

    Nobody complains that the Mythopoeic Awards keep favoring mythopoeic fiction or fiction in some aspect of the Tolkien/Lewis lineage, because they’re totally open about that being their goal. Nobody complains that the voting body for the Mythopoeic Award seems to skew a little more toward Christianity than the SF/F community generally, since that’s one of the things that Tolkien, Lewis, and their circle said was one of their central sources of creative inspiration. It’s all in the open, and if it’s not your cup of tea, that’s cool.

    The problem Jay was trying to solve in the initial wording of the opening proposal may, as you point out, be two problems: (1) creating an award that really is the people’s choice award that the Hugo was long mistaken for but was actually not trying to be, and (2) creating an award that brings attention to new works in the spirit of a specific, identifiable subgenre. It may be that a single award might be unable to accomplish both.

    Alternatively, as the Hugo ceremony includes the Campbell and Norton awards, Jay’s proposed general fans’ choice award ceremony could include an award or awards for the kind of literature he feels a desire to recognize. So, hypothetically, the Calliope for the general award, and the Clifford (or whoever) for SF that focuses on adventure and problem-solving in the pulp tradition (or however Jay might wish to define it).

    Such a division would assure that works in the lineage the Sad Puppies prize would have a shot, because that would be the stated purpose of the Clifford. Those works would, of course, also be eligible for the more general fandom award, just as works by Campbell and Norton nominees might also be on a Hugo ballot. The potential for overlap might go some way to allay concerns I’ve heard about a “separate but equal” award. It might even be an increased likelihood of overlap, because of the self-selecting effect on attracting voters of an award ballot that includes the Clifford (or whatever).

    Comment by Sarah Avery - September 15, 2015 2:31 am

  328. I like a description for the award from one of the comments at File 770:

    “That includes fiction with an emphasis on high-adventure imaginative storytelling, and a relative lack of emphasis on abstract ideas, socio-political themes, or literary qualities.”

    It should be adjusted, but as a working description it fits ok.

    Comment by Hampus - September 15, 2015 5:26 am

  329. @Wild Ape:
    A “board of directors” for an award” – what works best?

    Bwuh? Ummm, don’t you really think that depends on the nature of the award and how who/what is giving it out is comprised?

    I mean, isn’t it pretty obvious that the BOARD for the “I want my friends to win prestigious science fiction awards” awards would be markedly different than the “board” for the “egalitarian, open to all who want to participate, non-partisan, non-political, representative of the majority who are experienced and really care” awards are going to be very, very different?

    What kind of question is that?

    Comment by crotchetyoldfan - September 15, 2015 5:32 am

  330. @crotchetyoldfan—“What kind of question is that?” I meant it to be a straight forward, non aggressive question on your experience of what works and what does not work on the boards that you’ve seen and what skill sets are needed. You seemed approachable and helpful so I thought I’d ask.

    For instance, I met a buddy of mine at IHOP yesterday, he is a yearbook teacher and makes about $43-45K a year. He puts together a yearbook and a school newspaper that are award winning. There are people who are hounding him to quit his teaching job to come work for them for better pay. He is loved by the students though and the students get scholarships and go on to jobs in the real world. He could tell me what essential elements go into a staff needed for that kind of work.

    But…hey, I read between the lines. I’ll stay off your lawn. I mean this sincerely, have a nice day.

    @Hampus—-yep, that is the kind of wording that we’d want. That doesn’t sound insulting to me but straight forward to focusing on entertaining stories and neutral. And, I’m not trying to stir the pot here and start an angry shouting match but this seems acceptable to this Sad Puppy—what about the other side of the fence? Would that wording that Hampus bring in the right spirit?

    @Sarah—I’m also thinking that we or Jay might want to look at an award that goes to people overlooked by the Hugos because what is available that is out there is so big and vast that no one is able to cover it all. It might be good to look back five years instead of the last year. Make it as a supplement to the Hugos for the fiction and such that didn’t jell in time or in popularity during that phase of one year that the Hugo focuses on. Put an emphasis on story telling and I think you have more of a sympathetic feel to it because it would go to the overlooked.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 15, 2015 8:03 am

  331. Well, unlike Sunday night. I managed to get more than three hours of sleep last night. I’ll be posting a couple of replies, one addressing a few comments that need it, one outlining changes I’d like to see.

    I do note that there’s been a lot of attention paid by the anti-Puppy side to all of this, and almost zero from the Puppies. This disappoints me. I’m not at all sure what to do about it, though.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 15, 2015 8:15 am

  332. Wild Ape: The sheer number of nominees available for five years would make the spread of nominated so large I’d have a hard time seeing anyone getting more than 10-20 votes. 😛

    Comment by Hampus - September 15, 2015 9:42 am

  333. @Wild Ape
    Fair enough. Howeer, my expertise does not extend towards running awards; I hosted an awards banquet (for the Hugos in 1977). I was not a member of the Hugo Administration team.
    If one were to put together a “board” for over-site of an award such as Jay has been discussing, I think it would be best comprised of editors and academics in the field who have decades of experience with the material and a demonstrated track record of “playing fair”. You’d also want a short-term membership, a rotating one and one in which the terms are staggered.
    However, an over site board is, in my opinion, contradictory to the aims of a “popular choice” award, so my real recommendation would be – don’t have one.
    As others have pointed out, (GRRM in particular), “popular choice” is virtually synonymous with sales, so all one really needs to do is find a good, vetted source for sales information and then base the winners on dollar amounts.
    You’d not be awarding the “best” in terms of ground breaking ideas, or literary quality or any number of other factors, but you WOULD be awarding works that managed to appeal to the lowest common denominator (which for me = works that have the most marketing dollars behind them). (If we were back in 1966, Lost In Space would win over Star Trek to give a media SF example. )

    @Jay Maynard:
    I strongly suspect that the lat of participation by puppies is because your goal of an award is not their goal.
    One strain of puppies has explicitly stated that their goal is to destroy the Hugo Awards. The only way another award could do that would be to achieve such a level of popularity and import that it eclipses the Hugos. This is of course possible, but would not happen within the time frame desired by said puppy(ies).
    The other strain of puppies are interested in getting the recognition and acceptance that the Hugo Awards would confer upon their work (because, at least in their minds, this is a struggle over sales and market influence and nothing else) and, again, a different award, no matter how effective or important it was, would not BE the Hugo Award.
    (There are, I’m sure, plenty of Hugo winners who covet a Nebula. Another Hugo award will not assuage that desire.)
    The problem you seem to be experiencing with your award proposal is that there is no way to offer a “popular award” and at the same time somehow restrict its selections to some ill-defined subset of the genre. A board winnowing selections will be perceived for what it is – a disenfranchisement of those who nominated works not selected.
    Perhaps the best way to go about what you are trying to accomplish is to: define the parameters of what you find acceptable for nomination (space opera with no political messaging, for example), find a group of fellow travelers who share your tastes and general agreement with the definition and then just vote among yourselves. Produce a selection of “Bests of 20xx” as selected by the League for Purity in Space Opera or some such name. There’s nothing wrong with fans who share the same likes to getting together to express their appreciation.

    Comment by crotchetyoldfan - September 15, 2015 9:45 am

  334. Cat: Whatever else, I do respect you. Quite a lot. You are, after all, a multiple award-wining author. I have an idea of just how difficult that is; I’m about 12K words into what feels like a 50K-word story, and have been for the last two years – and even once it’s finished, it’s probably unpublishably mediocre at best. I wrote it solely to get it out of my head. I can’t imagine what it takes to sit down and write, day after day, whether you feel creative or not. So yes, I have nothing but respect for you.

    And in the wider world, you are unquestionably a nerd, as are we all.

    But I’m not talking about the wider world. The wider world can go hang. I’m talking specifically about fandom. Fandom has its nerds and its cool kids, too. The cool kids get invited to Worldcon parties and get nominated for Hugos (except this year, obviously). The cool kids get GoH invitations to cons. The cool kids have people squeeing over them whenever fans gather.

    You’re a cool kid within fandom. And that’s great! Because being a cool kid in fandom is about merit. You have to earn your way there, and you’ve done it.

    That still doesn’t change how I felt Saturday night. And please, don’t mansplain to me why I’m wrong for feeling as I did. (Or whatever word applies to mansplaining when a woman does it.) I may well be wrong, but that still didn’t get me to sleep Sunday night.

    Alexandra, in any gathering of people, there will be the in crowd and the not-in crowd. That’s just how people are. We’re all the not-in crowd in society at large, precisely because we’re fans.

    I’m posting on Black Gate because John O’Neill has been astonishingly patient with me and with letting his site be used as my platform in the middle of the stuff it’s really here to be about, and because I don’t have access to another platform that’s more suited to the subject with anything approaching a wide readership. (Social media following? Me? Hahahahaha. I can’t even get nerddom right that way.)

    In the end, though, you’re right: this all started because someone felt he didn’t belong. Go read Larry Correia’s account of his first Worldcon. And he found that there are lots of folks who feel the same way for the same reasons. There wouldn’t be Puppies if that wasn’t the case. Hell, my first pure SF con made me feel like I didn’t belong so badly that I didn’t go to another for 11 years, and it was with profound skepticism and no small amount of trepidation that I went to one this year (especially since the con I did feel I belonged at felt like it was moving in the same direction this year). That con happened to be Libertycon. What I’m hearing about that is that it’s different from all the other cons, and so I’m still not sure how welcome I’d be elsewhere.

    I want to reformulate this proposal so that it isn’t seen as excluding people. That was never my intent. What I want to do is honor the kind of works that made SF great and that seem to me to be overlooked in favor of stuff that pushes the right political buttons. I agree that a positive definition is needed. The whole idea behind the Judging Committee is to make sure that stuff meets the definition, period. (And the Judging Committee is separate from the Board of Directors for a reason: the Board is there to run the Foundation’s affairs, the Judging Committee is there solely to make sure what’s voted on qualifies.) But the problem right now is that people feel excluded, whether or not that’s intended by those perceived as doing the excluding. I want something inclusive.

    And if it takes off and gains recognition, maybe I’ll get to be a cool kid. For once.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 15, 2015 10:20 am

  335. @Jay Maynard

    I don’t intend to sound harsh or negative, honestly. But, again, your description of things comes across to me as so clueless regarding fandom that I despair of ever finding common ground with you.

    The “cool kids” that you describe have one thing in common, bar none (at least within fandom as I know it):

    Every single one of them has DONE SOMETHING that earned them the attention, interest, support, trust &etc., from their fellow fans.

    They are not special; the people who invite them to the parties or ask them to be GoH don’t do those things because of special qualities; they’re friends deserving of a little extra recognition at that particular moment.

    We’re all on a level playing field when it comes to fandom that consists of perhaps three types of people: those just learning what its all about for whom appreciation is expressed and hopes abound; the people who are involved and the people who happen to be doing extra stuff – for their friends – at this particular convention.
    The only barriers I have ever run into in terms of inclusion within fandom are those requiring specific experience or talent (no, you can’t hang out during masquerade rehearsal because you are not working on the masquerade), size related (there’s no more room in the room) or professionally associated (the meeting is for SFWA members only).
    Anyone who attends a convention who thinks that something they have done entitles them to special recognition, or deference or special treatment is thinking about the con in the wrong way. Oh, you have several books on the market that are well received? Look around, half the people hanging in the lobby can say the exact same thing. Oh, you really know your academics? Look around. Oh, you worked really hard on some other convention? Look around. You sold some rights for a TV show? look around. You’ve been in fandom umpteen decades? look around. You write a popular blog? look around.

    The idea at a traditional con is – everyone walks through the door as equals. Some attendees have interesting stories or experiences to relate (and not all during panels). That’s why, with rare exception, everyone attending pays the same entry fee. The only markers for people being set apart are those ribbons attached to name badges – and every single one of them is WORKING on the con, in some fashion or other, to make it a fun experience for all of their attending friends, both the friends they know and the ones they don’t.
    The only other barriers I’ve encountered are self-imposed ones – like believing that one is entitled to special treatment/deference for “some reason”, or believing that whatever suppositions they have about the people likely to be there are reality, and deciding ahead of time that one will not be accepted.
    That’s my experience.

    Comment by crotchetyoldfan - September 15, 2015 11:15 am

  336. crotchetyoldfan: “The “cool kids” that you describe have one thing in common, bar none (at least within fandom as I know it):
    Every single one of them has DONE SOMETHING that earned them the attention, interest, support, trust &etc., from their fellow fans.”

    Exactly what I meant when I said it was based on merit. But remember Correia went to that first Worldcon as a Hugo nominee. Doesn’t that count?

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 15, 2015 11:19 am

  337. Jay – based on his OWN WRITINGS on the subject:

    1. he was expecting to not be well-received because of his political views
    2. he was one of – 50+ nominees and no, being a nominee does not “make someone special” – it makes them a nominee. They get to wear a lapel pin denoting their status (usually a ribbon too) and usually have encounters that consists of “congratulations”, but “cool kid/special”? No.
    Being a Hugo nominee doesn’t even make one a “fan” necessarily. All it means is that WE – collectively, thought one example of your work the previous year stood out, for some/multiple reasons, from the pack.
    Now in Larry’s case this is not entirely accurate, as Larry fished for a nomination. No one should be surprised if they get funny looks all weekend long after they’ve just publicly taken a shit in the public well.
    I think the kind of “cool-kidness” you are talking about is something that you can not take for yourself – its something that others confer upon you – usually after long experience with you. And I think there the number one rule is something I learned at Bell Labs: one “awe shit” wipes out ten “attaboys!”.
    The people who I have seen receive the most respect, deference, attention at conventions are those who have continuously given of themselves for years. Take the winner of the Big Heart Award this year – Ben Yalow. Ben has never won a Hugo award, let alone been nominated for one, yet he gets a smile and a wave and other recognition no matter where he goes within fandom. After YEARS of selflessly devoting himself to fandom and being a “mensch” – a real person – the entire time.
    Sure, he is well known for his expositions at business meetings and for being frustatingly logical (and right) about a lot of things, but these traits are viewed with affection and respect because of all of the hard work he had done over the years.
    Imagine being a new, say, Campbell nominee, going to a Worldcon and discovering that people are paying more attention to some nit-picky, bespectacled white-haired you never heard of before than they are to you. Would seem a bit out of place – because what you don’t understand that the center of attention is NOT the Hugo Awards; it’s not the masquerade; it’s not the panels or the dealers room or the book signings – it’s the being together.
    If you go to a con expecting it to “do” something FOR you – anything from sales at your dealer’s table to winning an award or receiving the egoboost you so desperately crave because of your “specialness” you are bound to be disappointed.
    Have you ever heard of a relaxacon? That’s probably the purest form of the community’s expression of this thing I”m trying to get at here. The last one I went to was in 1978 (there seem to be very few these days) but: there was no schedule of events. there were special guests (they brought presents for everyone else instead of getting anything). There was only one rule: the only thing you can’t talk about this weekend is science fiction. I spent hours in the lobby blowing bubbles, meeting old friends, meeting new friends and just hanging with my friends – from all over the country. It was an extremely successful event – everyone went home happy.
    (I have such fond memories that if I ever do a con again, it will be just that, a relaxacon).
    I get this feeling that you think that you’re supposed to get “something” out of attending a convention, and that’s not the primary goal. Primary goal 1 is – go and be with friends. Primary goal 2 is – give of yourself and help your friends have a good time.

    Comment by crotchetyoldfan - September 15, 2015 12:58 pm

  338. […] back on track. This post is about some of the post Hugos fallout, and while the award proposoal by Jay Maynard leaves a sour taste in my mouth, this idea from Cat Valente seems slightly better. Not that I want […]

    Pingback by Uncle Josh Plans for the End of the Year | Uncle Josh Talks Too Much - September 15, 2015 1:35 pm

  339. Hampus, I think that description from File 770 is a good starting point, too, for its neutrality of tone. Jay or Ape would be better suited to say whether it does the job in terms of the storytelling feel they’re looking for, since I’m personally fine with the way the Hugos have gone in recent years (2015 not included).

    Here’s the original again, so nobody has to go look for it:
    “That includes fiction with an emphasis on high-adventure imaginative storytelling, and a relative lack of emphasis on abstract ideas, socio-political themes, or literary qualities.”

    I’m not sure about the lack of emphasis on abstract ideas — that might be too broad — because I’ve heard hard-SF fans longing for more science in their SF, and some scientific ideas could reasonably be called abstract.

    It might also be good to put the list of desired characteristics front and center, in the elevator-pitch version of the award, while moving the list of de-emphasized characteristics into a more detailed set of guidelines for the award. The Mythopoeic Award has its one-sentence description of what it recognizes, and doesn’t call attention to the kinds of works it’s not intended to recognize.

    Comment by Sarah Avery - September 15, 2015 1:38 pm

  340. […] Jay Maynard’s proposal for an Award for SF/F Storytelling, at Black Gate […]

    Pingback by Cool Kids - September 15, 2015 1:41 pm

  341. “But the problem right now is that people feel excluded, whether or not that’s intended by those perceived as doing the excluding. I want something inclusive.”

    Jay, I appreciate that is what you want to do. But the proposal you are making by definition does not do that. It has a special review panel whose entire job is to *exclude* things that they don’t approve of. That is pretty much the opposite of inclusive.

    Comment by Dave Weinstein - September 15, 2015 1:42 pm

  342. Sarah, that description is pretty close to what I’m thinking too, though I’m not sure “high adventure” is a necessary condition. Eric Raymond’s essay on the norms of SF has most of it, though I need to cook it down to shorter than essay length…and find some way to include fantasy, because, as has been voluminously used to hit me over the head (and which I’ve believed from the start!), the line between the two is blurry at best.

    My thinking is to have the Judging Committee explicitly be chosen for true diversity of the kind that actually matters in SF/F: diversity of ideas. Nothing else matters. They would be insulated as far as possible from the actual pressures of the voters or anything else, and encouraged to do their job as conscientiously as they know how.

    And no, I would not consider myself qualified to serve on that committee. I’m nowhere nearly widely enough read to have that kind of an opinion, nor would it be respected if I tried (and if nothing else is obvious from this discussion, that much should be!).

    By the way, Hampus, the Judging Committee cannot know who the next 3 choices are, because they cannot be determined until the ballots are reprocessed with all of the disqualified entries removed. So your suggestion is not only a good one, but cannot be any other way.

    Alexandra, I’m going to provisionally adopt your suggestion and name them the Calliope Troph{y,ies}, unless there is serious objection. Thank you.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 15, 2015 2:19 pm

  343. And, to answer Dave Weinstein’s comment above:

    What I’m trying to avoid with the Judging Committee is having the awards flooded with nominations that are popular but don’t fit the stated criteria.

    The example I’m thinking of most starkly isn’t from SF/F, but popular music. A site ran a contest to select the best driving music tune out there. They wanted people to nominate the kind of song that has you going 105 in a 60 MPH zone as you’re driving along without realizing it. The canonical example is Golden Earring’s Radar Love.

    You know what won? Alanis Morrissette’s Ironic. Why? It was the most popular song at the time, period, and people who didn’t know, or care, voted for it.

    That kind of result would turn these awards into just another popularity contest, instead of celebrating what was intended to be celebrated. It would take away what makes them different from other awards. That difference is at the heart of what this is about, and it’s worth protecting.

    Now, you’re certainly justified in saying “but SF/F fans aren’t like that! They’d honor the design of the awards!” You may very well be right, too. In that case, the Judging Committee has nothing to do. But if they don’t…there’s a backstop.

    Does that make my intentions clearer? If anyone has a better suggestion to address that problem, please, by all means, say something.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 15, 2015 2:37 pm

  344. The rules as proposed have the following statement:

    “The nominees are then considered by the Judging Committee. The judges shall evaluate each work solely by its storytelling. The judges may disqualify any work they find to have an emphasis on other than telling a good SF/F story.”

    That is a very different question from “is this a work of Science Fiction or Fantasy”.

    I want to take a look at three Hugo winning Novels. Starship Troopers (1960), The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1967), and Ancillary Sword (2014). Of the three, Starship Troopers stops several times to deliver *nothing* but socio-political message. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (which, I should note is probably my favorite Heinlein novel, and one of my favorites of all time) is far better about not stopping for info-dumps, but still is very much full of socio-political messages. Ancillary Sword features a culture that does not use gendered pronouns in language, and the author defaulted to she/her for the representation of that in English. Which of these gets excoriated as an example of “message fiction being chosen over quality”?

    By the standard “That includes fiction with an emphasis on high-adventure imaginative storytelling, and a relative lack of emphasis on abstract ideas, socio-political themes, or literary qualities.” referenced above, both of the Heinlein novels would have been disqualified.

    Comment by Dave Weinstein - September 15, 2015 2:49 pm

  345. Jay, a thought struck me while looking at the recent exchanges. It seems like what you’re after – at least one of the things – is a sense of “Wow!”, the moment or sequence that builds to a moment of pure fascinated delight. (I note in passing that a bunch of folks enthusing over works like Leckie’s are doing so because of such moments, but set that aside for now.)

    I would if these awards would be well honored by a trophy that includes a working light bulb, and a name like the Eurekas or the Good Ideas.

    Comment by Bruce B. - September 15, 2015 3:22 pm

  346. If what you want is to verify 1 person, 1 vote, why not just require a photo id and email be submitted for the application for user id? Sure, it can be gamed, but it’s hard to game, and that prevents people from blacklisting people from voting for spite, which is the main issue I would see with this whole “web of trust” idea.

    Comment by Flaime - September 15, 2015 3:56 pm

  347. Jay, if I remember correcty, Correia wrote a blog post saying that he had a fantastic time at Worlcon. Just changing it four *years* later.

    Either he lied at the first post or at the second. Myself, I’ll ignore it all together.

    Myself, I’m not into larger cons that much, unless I have friends there. Which is one of the reasons I’m quite active at File 770. To get to know people before I go to Kansas. And why I’ll visit Worldcon instead of something larger like Dragoncon.

    But usually, what with things like that is that I volunteer. That helps me get to know people and make me feel I fit in.

    Libertycon seems like a small con on purpose which is another way to make it easier for newcomers.

    Comment by Hampus - September 15, 2015 4:28 pm

  348. Hampus, I have no trouble believing that Correia’s first post was written to preserve a chance of good will in the fannish community, and rewritten later to reflect his true experiences after he realized he would never have any good will in fandom.

    I’ve never been to Dragon Con, though I would like to one of these days. I’ve never been to a Worldcon, and after what happened this year, am not going out of my way to – and note that Kansas City is an 8-hour drive for me, easily done in a day.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 15, 2015 4:34 pm

  349. Jay,

    …and I have no problem believing that Correias update was written to conform to the image of the mistreated martyr he wanted to display. 😉

    But as I don’t know which of them is the lie, I’ll just ignore it.

    Comment by Hampus - September 15, 2015 4:59 pm

  350. @Sarah and Jampus—that description that Hampus brought was perfect from my perspective. I like that it promotes good story telling and it highlights what I think is the spirit behind both the Sad Puppies and what I see as the spirit behind the rest of fandom. It is uniting and not divisive. I’m starting to feel jazzed about this idea. One thing that SFF fandom is about is the new worlds with all the awe and wonder they bring.

    One thing I’d like to suggest to the group gathered here is a possible icon of the award. For me, the rocket ship of the Hugo is perfect for science fiction because it symbolizes the aim towards the future which is at the heart of science fiction. With all respect to the Hugo this is not an ideal icon for fantasy.

    I suggest that the icon for the Calliope (or whatever we choose) be a monoreme ship or something like that. It carries the same adventurous spirit of the rocket ship. The ship looks to the future where it carried mankind’s explorers and colonists and all that long before the rocketship. Also, it harkens to the high adventures of Kon-Tiki, Jason and the Argonauts, and hundreds of fantastic voyages of lore. This is a good icon for fantasy too and I think it fits with Calliope. I think it captures the best of both genres. Whatcha think?

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 15, 2015 6:24 pm

  351. @crotchetyoldfan—thank you. I think the mechanics you describe can’t be fitted until we sort out what the award is to do. That was also a salient comment about Lost in Space versus Star Trek. Popular is important but sometimes things like Star Trek and such take a while to cultivate what makes it truly good. I’d like to see a mix of both. I think the more fans we have voting the better.

    @Dave Weinstein—I concur with what you said about message fiction. I think it is risky as an author because the message will resonate with those in agreement and hack off the people it doesn’t. I love Heinlein, Tepper, and Ringo but they are certainly preachy.

    @Faime—that might work.

    @Hampus—I don’t see Correia’s experience as being contradictory. He expected not to win and he expected bad reactions. He wasn’t assaulted by all of fandom, just a few over partisan people. He even stood up for Tor when a lot of the Sad Puppies were ready to lynch mob Tor (hyperbole). I probably relate to Correia more because he comes from the military industry and so he talks like people I know and within my comfort zone. I’m sure my Drill Sergeant would shock people even though he was a venerated leader to us. I think that is what people don’t like about Correia—he speaks like a military man and looks like a kaiju.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 15, 2015 6:43 pm

  352. Look, there is no realistic way to *force* one person one vote in an online vote.

    There just isn’t. “Web of Trust” does not solve that problem. Sending in a picture of an ID does not solve that problem (seriously, was no one ever a teenager?). Even financial barriers (for example, the requirement to be a paid member of an organization) doesn’t stop that problem (although it arguably does the most to limit it).

    Comment by Dave Weinstein - September 15, 2015 7:18 pm

  353. (I wish this forum had an edit feature so I could fix grammar errors)

    Comment by Dave Weinstein - September 15, 2015 7:21 pm

  354. @Dave Weinstein—you and me both brother. I wish it had an editing feature too. I spell slightly better than the village idiot.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 15, 2015 8:53 pm

  355. @crotchetyoldfan and Hampus—one thing you and GRRM mentioned about popularity is that you could measure it by sales. If you look at the latest article from AAP sales for the big five are down but they are soaring at Amazon. Like it or not the playing field has changed since epublication opened the gates to self publishing. I think it takes a little longer for a self published writer to gain his platform. One of the things that made me think about the Campbell award was where were all the self published writers?

    Andy Weir is a good example of someone who could not get published and finally tried the route of self publishing his first book: The Martian. How this book did not get picked up amazes me. It was a page turner and one of the best books I read all year. How many other Andy Weirs are out there who didn’t make it past the gatekeepers? I’d like to see an award that can tap into that potential. I would like to see something come up that brings out the new writers out there.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 15, 2015 9:13 pm

  356. @Wild Ape

    You wrote:

    “One of the things that made me think about the Campbell award was where were all the self published writers?
    Andy Weir is a good example of someone who could not get published and finally tried the route of self publishing his first book: The Martian. How this book did not get picked up amazes me. It was a page turner and one of the best books I read all year. How many other Andy Weirs are out there who didn’t make it past the gatekeepers?”

    There are not gatekeepers in the Hugos. The way things get nominated for the Hugos (traditionally) is that people read things, and get excited about them, and tell their friends, or write articles (fanzines once upon a time, blogs today), and then members nominate their favorites. In fact, people are doing that right now, setting up reading lists, putting in works they like as they find them so that other people might try them, all exactly what is supposed to happen — people read things and nominate what they thought were the best. The problem is that if something doesn’t catch that wave of attention when it is eligible, it can’t win. The solution is to tell people when you find really great stuff that they should read.

    The other problem is that traditionally, a lot of Hugo voters decided not to nominate, but rather to read all of the nominations and then vote on the awards proper, because they did not feel they had “read enough” of that year’s fiction to qualify. The solution for this is for people to recognize that they should simply nominate the best works that they thought were worthy of awarding in a given year, and trust that if everyone does that, and trusts to their own tastes, that the wisdom of the crowd will produce a good set of nominees, and then we can all read things and vote on the winners.

    Comment by Dave Weinstein - September 15, 2015 9:36 pm

  357. @Dave—hmm, that is what I wrote, but not what I meant. Publishers are gatekeepers and if the Hugo has gatekeepers then it is, like you say, the voters who nominate. The problem is, as you say, if the work doesn’t catch fire then it doesn’t get nominated. I agree that the solution is to broadcast loudly when you find a good works. I’m saying that the window for the self published is smaller and the pool of what is out there is large.

    The second point you made was about people like me. I sat on the sidelines and complained for years and this year I took the plunge and campaigned for the stuff I liked. I also read the other nominations that I did not vote to nominate. The result was that I did switch some of my votes in the end. I gave everyone an honest effort and vote I thought and not a straight Puppy ticket.

    What I am failing to express is that I’m not satisfied with all the good things that get missed and I read a lot of the self published and I like what they create, like Andy Weir. I suppose the reality is, like you say, to get the word out faster and to read a lot more and bring others in to vote.

    I still would like to see an award that focuses on storytelling more than what is out there for SFF already. Chances are it will get to the writers that I promote.

    I like your phrase “wisdom of the crowd” because it is inclusive of all of fandom.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 15, 2015 9:57 pm

  358. Wild Ape:

    If you are only going to go by popularity, check sales figures. Yes, Amazon changes from day to day, but these are the popular authors.

    Why say “gatekeepers” if you mean publishers? You only confuse people. The Martian was picked up and was appreciated by the Hugo voters. Alas, not by the puppies whose slate pushed the author out from the nominees for the Campbell award.

    Comment by Hampus - September 16, 2015 1:10 am

  359. @Wild Ape:

    Ah, sorry, I misunderstood. Sure, publishers are gatekeepers, but I don’t see a way around that. I mean, we’re not going to mandate that publishers be forced to print anything anyone submits. They make their best business judgments, and sometimes that means mistakes. I’m sure that any publisher who passed on The Martian regrets it.

    Comment by Dave Weinstein - September 16, 2015 1:37 am

  360. Weir never tried to get a publisher for The Martian before publishing it at his website. He did this because some *other* of his books had been refused.

    So not sure if we can blame any publishers or “gatekeepers” in this case.

    Comment by Hampus - September 16, 2015 5:58 am

  361. Hampus: Directly? No. Indirectly? Hell yes. The Big Five have a business model that’s based on gatekeeping. Is it any wonder that, in an age where self-publishing is not only feasible but simple and profitable, authors give up on the traditional route?

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 16, 2015 7:08 am

  362. I wasn’t trying to stir up another argument. I must have written things when I was tired. I’m saying that the Hugo’s window for submitted work is one year and that might be too narrow. I voiced earlier that we should expand that window to five years and Hampus commented that it might be too long. That is what I was trying to bring up. I feel that the Andy Weirs of the world end up getting overlooked because it takes longer to gain a platform when you are self published. After you are established it is much easier.

    Looking at the Kindle list I see that one of my favorite authors BV Larson is way up there on the list. Larson is a self published writer and is very popular. I don’t think you are correct Hampus about Andy Weir but I know for a FACT that Larson tried to get published and was shot down by several publishers. I’m not blaming publishers for this because they have business models and such and a limited amount of what they can publish, I’m saying that it is a repeating tale that should make us think about how to cast a good sized net for the award. Two years maybe?

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 16, 2015 7:47 am

  363. Weir was who I had in mind when I included the bit about self-published works being picked up by a commercial publisher.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 16, 2015 8:05 am

  364. Wild Ape,

    I know what I said is true. Because I actually checked the facts about The Martian and how he never tried to get it published with any of the larger publishing houses before doing it himself.

    I will leave this thread now. Discussing a new contest is interesting. What rules to make it most succesful. Categories that might be missing in other contests. Who has been left out. And so on.

    Conspiracy theories on how publishing houses are really gatekeepers I can live without.

    Comment by Hampus - September 16, 2015 8:58 am

  365. Both traditional publishing and self-publishing work for the people who like them. Having both options is great, because some people are better suited to utilising one or the other.

    Calling publishers “gatekeepers” is just plain weird. They’re not there to just hand out contracts to anyone who asks. They’re businesses. Thir job is to try and pick the works that will succeed. Sometimes they fail, and things sink without a trace, or they don’t pick up something good (Harry Potter got rejected before it got picked, so did The Beatles – Beatrice Potter self-published, and so did Scalzi at first), but that’s just because they’re not infallible.

    Comment by Meredith - September 16, 2015 9:32 am

  366. I have version 2 done and out for some beta reading. I’ve tried to incorporate all of the feedback I could while still keeping things concentrated on storytelling. We’ll see what happens.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 16, 2015 11:43 am

  367. Gees Louise Hampus! I’m not trying to stir up controversy. I’m actually listening to the good suggestions you make. I’m asking if one year is enough of a window. That’s all. I too am interested in focusing on a new award. For me this is a noble and worthy use of time too. I hope you aren’t gone for good. I know I come across as a troll at times but I think I’ve flattened my tone and I’ve tried to reach out. I thought we were gaining a rapport.

    Look at what the article said, “He’d been rebuffed by literary agents in the past, so he decided to put the novel on his website free of charge rather than to try to get it published.” and then later “He published the novel as a serial on the site in September 2012. It rose to the top of Amazon’s list of best-selling science-fiction titles. He sold 35,000 copies in three months. Agents and publishers and movie studios started circling.” Look, this illustrates exactly what I’m saying–no controversy–we live in a new age since the Kindle and ePubs arrived. That isn’t a controversy, that is a fact. Writers are finding NEW avenues as well as still using the traditional ones to sell their books. Now, how much longer does it take? How can someone like Weir who seems to have escaped a Hugo nomination? That isn’t a crack on the Hugo nor a crack on the publishing industry. I think it shows how the Hugo ruling on what constitutes a legit novel isn’t in phase with the market in its new internet state. I’m making an argument for a broader window. Look at your own evidence that you presented. The Martian was published in 2011 and then gained notoriety by 2014. That is all I’m saying buddy.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 16, 2015 6:55 pm

  368. @Meredith—-okay, is the term gatekeeper too political or inflammatory a word? At some point a ruling has to be made on what is the length of time that a story is open to an award. People who publish are gatekeepers in my book. They are, as you say, businesses who work their models and they have limited capital and are forced to make choices. What term would you call that, that isn’t inflammatory or insulting? I did not think the term gatekeeper carried any baggage.

    What window of time do you see as a good time frame. I suggested five years, Hampus countered, quite logically that that would make the pool to big. I think the window of one year is to small. How about two years? What do you think?

    Also, you’ve asked for everyone to tone it down. I’ve really tried. If you look at the fiery posts I’ve put out earlier I’ve toned myself down and I’ve ignored people that have come in and cast flames. I’m trying to create a tone that does not repel people as you requested.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 16, 2015 7:03 pm

  369. If you make the eligibility period two years, then you should also make it so that once a work receives enough nominations to qualify for the final ballot, it would be ineligible the next year even if it otherwise would qualify.

    (That is to say, no work could ever be on the final ballot two years in a row)

    Comment by Dave Weinstein - September 16, 2015 9:10 pm

  370. Good point. The v2 proposal includes a 2-year period, and I’d meant to include it, but found I didn’t…until now. Thanks.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 16, 2015 9:32 pm

  371. Wild Ape,

    My reaction was mostly to Jay. I can accept that people go off topic sometimes. I think the person who wants to champion an award has to be much more careful of his speek.

    Gatekeeping is about keeping things OUT. Publishing is about packeting and marketing things so MORE people can access them. They are total opposites.

    There are extreme amounts of publishers in SF.

    No one can be a gatekeeper, to *hinder* a work from being published. And they would all be stupid to do so about works they could earn a profit on.

    So enough with this idiotic talk about “gatekeepers”.

    Comment by Hampus - September 16, 2015 10:19 pm

  372. Wild Ape,


    I have checked up on the meaning of “gatekeeping” in media studies and now understand where you are coming from.

    I apoligize, for me gatekeeping is a word from a political framework regarding the agenda of those that wants to keep selected items from being seen.

    So for me it is still an inflammatary word, even if I now understand that it will not be in other contexts.

    In case of The Martian, no gatekeeping seems to have been involved anyhow, as no publishers got the chance to look at the work before it was self published.

    Comment by Hampus - September 17, 2015 12:30 am

  373. @Hampus, okay, now I know where you are coming from too. Now what do you think about two years? Dave brought up a good point that I agree, if you had two years then you’d have to make sure that it isn’t on the ballot two years in a row. I like his idea too.

    @Jay—I hope I’m helping the dialogue.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 17, 2015 8:03 am

  374. I think it’s fair to say that (like any European socialist) I disagree with Jay on essentially every subject under the sun, including the rationale behind this award and the idea that one can have bounced off a book one hasn’t read and then be an authority on its flaws.

    However, I do – sincerely – admire one thing. Unlike every other Puppy, Jay is doing the right thing, as has been suggested all along; that if the Puppies [1] don’t like the Hugos they can set up their own award for the things they (allegedly [2]) like instead of trying to fuck up the Hugos. As far as I can see this is the first serious attempt at doing so.

    Hence, I wish him every success in this project, even if it doesn’t make Theodore Beale sod off and stop bothering us.

    [1] I know Jay says he’s not a Puppy and this isn’t a Puppy award, but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck and thinks that Dinosaur story was the worst travesty ever…

    [2] Allegedly, since for a group fed up with “boring message fic” they sure like to put ham-handed Catholic allegory on the ballot.

    Comment by bloodnok - September 17, 2015 11:20 am

  375. bloodnok, I am a Sad Puppy sympathizer. I don’t give a fuzzy rat’s ass what Vox Day has to say about the Hugos, and sincerely wish people would quit hitting me over the head with him.

    But, as many folks seem intent on ignoring no matter how many time I say it, I’m trying very hard to do something that Puppies and Puppy opponents can agree on. I’m just waiting on the beta readers’ suggestions before putting version 2 out there, and that’s intended to remove any hint of the Hugo controversy from the proposal. I may be a Puppy, but this is not a Puppy award. If it was, it would be very different.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 17, 2015 11:29 am

  376. BTW, bloodnok… “even if it doesn’t make Theodore Beale sod off and stop bothering us.”

    For all that people have been beating me up about being exclusionary, it’s stuff like this that makes Puppies think we’re not welcome in fandom…

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 17, 2015 11:58 am

  377. Wild Ape, I think it is kind of a good idea in that some works that otherwise might be missed will be turned up, with the disadvantage that you might be one year late on all awards.

    I can take it any which way. But I really like the idea with two nomination rounds.

    Comment by Hampus - September 17, 2015 12:01 pm

  378. I don’t. The problem with any complex balloting system is that it’s difficult for a voter to understand how his vote will affect the result. Scalzi’s proposal has the problem that it’s very difficult for a voter to know how to vote to maximize the chances of his choice getting on the final ballot. Does he vote for his favorite the first time, and hope others vote for it the second, or the other way around?

    At least the virtue of the EPH method is that the voter can vote for his 4 favorites and know that he’s doing the best he can to help them actually get nominated.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 17, 2015 12:11 pm

  379. @Jay:

    I wouldn’t worry about not being welcome, unless you decide to advocate the sorts of things that Beale does:

    Comment by Dave Weinstein - September 17, 2015 12:14 pm

  380. Dave, the problem is that many fans lump all Puppies together and hit us all over the head with Vox Day, whether we agree with him or not.

    And Rataional Wiki is, at best, under dispute as a reliable source.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 17, 2015 12:15 pm

  381. Jay, that is the part of Scalzis suggestion I don’t like. I would say first round two suggestions, second round of top 15 three nominees, allowed to vote for same in both rounds.

    Comment by Hampus - September 17, 2015 12:19 pm

  382. And still use EPH of course.

    Comment by Hampus - September 17, 2015 12:23 pm

  383. I agree that your proposed mechanics are fair and Puppy-neutral and I did not intend to give the impression I did not. I do think the intended nature of the awards is likely to appeal to people who think the Puppy position is valid – and I don’t necessarily think that “story” is necessarily the obvious criterion for greatness. (For example, I would say that H.P. Lovecraft’s ideas have succeeded in spite of his writing…)

    “it’s stuff like this that makes Puppies think we’re not welcome in fandom…”

    Does it? Really?

    I mean, perhaps Beale is not like every Puppy in many respects. I think it is likely his views are repugnant to many Puppies.

    But specifically, no, the slate organisers should not be welcome; the nominations process is obviously not robust against slates. Doubly so if they, like Beale, try and get people from a well known “ethics in internet misogyny” movement to nominate the slate whether or not they have any interest in SFF.

    FTAOD, not a political position. If someone organises a slate of Charlie Stross, Eric Flint, Ken MacLeod, China Mieville, and Stephen Brust, they can sod off, too, and doubly so if they try and get the Fourth International to nominate it just to stick it to the counter-revolutionaries.

    I’m not aiming to “hit you over the head” with Beale; I know perfectly well from USENET that you don’t and wouldn’t endorse much of what he says. All I’m saying is that, from a position of pure self-interest, I will be pleased if your proposal makes the slate organisers and slate nominators give it a rest.

    Comment by bloodnok - September 17, 2015 12:26 pm

  384. Jay:

    As far as I know, Beale has not disputed making any of those statements.

    Comment by Dave Weinstein - September 17, 2015 12:30 pm

  385. And, Dave, I wouldn’t take any article that starts out with something like “Theodore Beale, known by his pseudonym Vox Day,[2] is a science fiction author, game designer,[3] musician,[4] pseudo-libertarian, anti-vaxxer,[5] racist,[6] Christian apologist, pickup artist, stalker[7], and all-round fucking idiot.” as authoritative on any subject at all. Vox Day may well have made those statements, but if RationalWiki said the sky was blue, I’d go outside and look for myself to see if it hadn’t turned pink with purple polka dots.

    Hampus, without the restriction on voting in the second round, I fail to see the point of a multi-round nomination process at all.

    bloodnok, good story does not necessarily imply good writing. One would hope that they go together, but E. E. “Doc” Smith’s stories are good even though his writing…erf. (And modern writers should know better, but some drift into the same habits. I really wish David Weber would end a battle scene with something other than the survivors holding their broken, air-bleeding wrecks together by their broken fingernails.)

    But if you look at the history of the Puppies, what constitutes a slate seems to be “whatever the Puppies are doing this year”. Those goalposts have moved so much that there are ruts in the end zone. Meanwhile, SP4 is already being accused of slate tactics despite their expansion to a list of 10, while others who produce lists get a free pass…

    FWIW, I think the EPH proposal will do all the job that needs doing to prevent slates from taking things over. That’s why I adopted it. Further rhetoric about slates is not going to be productive or useful, and I wish people would drop it already.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 17, 2015 12:58 pm

  386. I disagree with you about slates but since we already know we disagree about essentially everything there seems little point in going further.

    To be honest, I gave up on Weber at _At All Costs_, partly because Honor was now so Space Jesus he was compelled to retcon fresh honours into the universe so she could receive them, but also because the climatic battle wasn’t like that – she turns up and presses the “blow up ships” button and bang, they’re obliterated by overwhelmingly superior firepower, like the mopup at the end of a game of Master Of Orion, which isn’t much fun even when I get to press the button myself.

    Put another way, when at the start of Windrider’s Oath we learn there’s a special sort of telepathic horse and a special sort of rider (paging Mercedes Lackey), and we already know the protagonist is a Horse Stealer (nee Eater), deadly enemies of the Rohirrim^W horse guys, the experienced modern-Weber reader knows already there is no possibility that the protagonist will _not_ become the first ever Horse Stealer to be one of the telepathic horse rider elite.

    Comment by bloodnok - September 17, 2015 1:44 pm

  387. bloodnok: In Weber’s defense about that last bit…if the protagonist doesn’t. where’s the story?

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 17, 2015 2:57 pm

  388. @Jay—his handle should say it all. Bloodnok was a Peter Sellers clown that was a bumbling idiot and this guy is playing the part just to stir up things. He isn’t here to help or cheer your efforts; he is here to be a troll.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 17, 2015 7:05 pm

  389. No, WA, I’m not going to assume that. He hasn’t done anything resembling trolling, as far as I can see. His arguments aren’t any different from any other anti-Puppies.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 17, 2015 7:20 pm

  390. Jay,

    Reason for two rounds is as follows:

    1) If a person can only nominate two candidates (in first round) but top 15 is on ballot, slating is more or less impossible there.

    2) EPH is good, but in a field with no sure favourites, they can still dominate if the spread is really large. Final spread is much smaller if you first narrod down to 15 and then let people aggregate votes on that.

    3) There can be several ideas for voting systems. One is who has the most supporters. But if there are 50 votes and one gets 11, four 10 and one 9, that is not that much of a lead. Hugo has the idea that it is instead the least unpopular that should win. I think two rounds might help with that.

    Comment by Hampus - September 17, 2015 7:41 pm

  391. @Hampus—I could go either way on the one or two rounds. I think I need to chew on it a bit.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 17, 2015 9:37 pm

  392. Read the EPH analysis. Slating is pretty much impossible under that proposal, as well, unless a large majority of voters vote in perfect lockstep – and if you have that big a majority, the EPH proposal comes right out and says that their wishes should be honored. Should that actually come to pass, I doubt the anti-Puppy folks would, but I also think it’s unlikely enough that the question simply won’t arise.

    Limiting voters to nominating one or two works is too much, I think. People think more works are worthy of awards than that, and I think you’d see a lot of stuff with very few votes each.

    I also think running multiple rounds of votes would impose costs not he one resource that can’t be purchased: voters’ attention spans. How many folks are going to stick around for all three votes? Not as many as would vote twice.

    If the goal is to stop slates, Scalzi’s proposal is too much of an overreaction, even if you let people vote for their first round choice int he second round.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 18, 2015 7:46 am

  393. Jay Maynard,

    I haven’t only read the EPH analysis. I have an implementation and test cases. Slating is impossible to dominate to such a large degree as before in the novel category, but they can still do it in the smaller categories. Say like short story where much fewer people nominate.

    But I agree on the problem with attention span.

    Comment by Hampus - September 18, 2015 11:10 am

  394. Jay, I sincerely wish you the best of luck with your desire, goals, and plans for a new SF/F award, name TBD. I hope it works out — and in a way that scratches your itch.

    That said, I have a few questions. (It’s possible that you have already answered one or more of them, either on your original proposal or the comments at BlackGate, or in comments over at John Scalzi’s Whatever blog or in comments at, and my glazed-over eyes and brain cells missed it. If so, I apologize for asking you to repeat yourself — I’d be happy with link(s) to the deets.)

    Basically, I’m looking for some positive examples/info, rather than “what this award isn’t about.”

    ONE: can you give some examples of authors/creators, specific works, bodies of work, etc. that you would like to honor, or would have liked to honor?

    E.g. say, anything from the past five or so years. (And you might decide to be time-expansive rather than year-bound, when you are ready to start accumulating nominations.)

    TWO: Can you clarify or expand on your criterion, “awards to celebrate and commemorate the SF/F storyteller’s art… Does the work in question tell a good SF/F story?”

    I believe you want minimal “message,” if any. What do you feel “makes a story good”? A fabulously new idea, or treatment of an old one? Crackling dialogue? Heart-pounding action? Plot twists we didn’t see coming? Sense-of-wonder descriptions? Memorable characters? John Campbell-worth aliens? Big explosions (without or without sound)?

    Killer prose style, pacing, timing, word usage, and phrasology?

    I.e., what makes it “good”? What makes it “SF/F”? And what makes it “a good SF/F story”?

    Can you, per my first question, offer any examples?

    THREE: Who’s a fan?

    You said “Awards will be granted as determined by SF/F fandom as a whole.”

    Who do — and don’t — you consider an SF/F fan? Anybody who’s ever seen at least one Star Wars, Harry Potter, Star Trek, Tolkiein, or Hunger Games movie, or read at least one such book? Do comic books, and comic-based movies, count? What about anything with a vampire, zombie, werewolf, ghost, witch, etc.? Read a fanzine (paper or online)? Posted an fannish article or comment? Maintains “Han shot first”?

    By “as a whole” do you mean “all of us”? Or lots of “anyone who considers themself a fan”? Or simply, “anybody who wants to participate in nominating/voting”? Is there some minimum number of people you’d want participating?

    Thanks for listening. Again, best of luck!

    Comment by Daniel Dern - September 18, 2015 11:22 am

  395. If the nomination eligibility was longer than a year, there would need to be a rule against anything being nominated twice. With that rule in place I don’t think there’d be much issues with it being two years or five. You could even make the eligibility different for self-pub vs trad pub if you wanted.

    @Wild Ape

    I think my objection to the term “gate keeper” has been covered. I suspect it would have been at least a little less inflammatory if it wasn’t one of the words that’s been tossed around over the last few months.

    Comment by Meredith - September 18, 2015 11:47 am

  396. And – if you don’t agree with Vox Day, perhaps don’t take any insults or criticisms of him to be criticisms of you?

    Comment by Meredith - September 18, 2015 11:48 am

  397. Meredith, when people talk about Puppies and excoriate Vox Day, those of us who are Sad Puppies are tarred with that same brush.

    This is the same thing that happened to me during the #YesAllWomen business: I kept saying “but not all men are like that!” and getting the response “Then we’re not talking about you!”. It’s called “mansplaining” when a man says that someone shouldn’t be offended when broad generalizations are thrown around that don’t apply to a person, but it’s perfectly fine for the reverse to happen…

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 18, 2015 12:58 pm

  398. Daniel: To take your questions in reverse order:

    3) Anyone who says they’re a fan is a fan. No exclusion here, no matter what the rest of the net would have you believe. If they’re interested in signing up and voting, and only once, they’re welcome.

    Personally, I believe the excluding is happening on the other side of the cultural divide, but the answer is to be truly inclusive of all, regardless of anything – including ideology.

    2) Want to tell me a good story? Don’t preach at me. That’s the big one. And yes, I find both Dinosaur and Ponies both preachy. All of the things you mention make a story good. Not all need be present, and to some extent, they can’t be, for they conflict with each other.

    But in essence, you’re asking me to conduct a course in SF/F writing. If I could do that, I’d finish that story I’ve got on the back burner and more besides.

    1) I haven’t posted at File 770. The last thing I needed this last week was to engage with more people howling for my blood. With that said, though…go read Eric Raymond’s essay on the deep norms of SF. Obviously, a lot of that doesn’t apply to fantasy, but the degree to which it doesn’t varies widely, and I refuse to try to separate the two on that basis.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 18, 2015 2:33 pm

  399. Jay, thanks.

    (But) can you offer any examples of SF/F that you love, as great storytelling? I’m happy to, ahem, pony up my own thoughts, in return. Not even restricting to past few years.

    Comment by Daniel Dern - September 18, 2015 2:44 pm

  400. My library is much too big to summarize here. (Even though it pales in comparison to many, possibly most, fans’ libraries.) Let’s put it this way…the current authors I buy religiously are Eric Flint, John Ringo, Mike Williamson, David Weber, and Howard Tayler. Terry Pratchett was on that list until the end. Sarah Hoyt is likely to get added. Robert Heinlein would be at the top if he was still around. Larry Niven was for a long time; not sure why he’s not there now.

    John Scalzi was until Fuzzy Nation got too preachy about how eeeeevil corporations are…but his The God Engines is an excellent bit of storytelling. Even so, he’s not getting another penny of my money. By comparison with Eric Flint, though, he’s a conservative…and yet Flint’s works don’t bother me at all. Why? He doesn’t preach, and his politics are difficult to discern form his stories.

    Anne McCaffrey, Jody Lynn Nye, and Elizabeth Moon’s Planet Pirates series is a good story. The omnibus volume I have is well-thumbed and beginning to fall apart. Indeed, I find McCaffrey a good storyteller (to the point I considered naming these awards for her, but decided I wasn’t going to do that without her family’s blessing, and there seemed to be no good way to get it), though the Talent series got repetitive toward the end.

    But a good story need not be full of action to be good. The canonical example is the Foundation series, which has been described as a story where nothing happens onscreen…and yet it’s on everyone’s short list of the greatest SF.

    Like I said, I’m not going to try to dissect it. I don’t believe in doing that, and I most especially don’t believe in the modern literature academy’s tendency to read things into a work the author never put there. Tolkien’s comment about there being nothing in the Ring trilogy that isn’t on the pages themselves is dead on accurate, even if I find the trilogy itself a crashing bore. (As far as I’m concerned, Bored of the Rings says everything that needs saying about the trilogy, and does it in 150 pages.)

    That’s about as good an answer as I can give you.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 18, 2015 3:20 pm

  401. OK, thanks. That’s helpful as data points.

    In return, as promised: Here’s some off-the-top-of-my-head stuff-I’ve-read-lately-and-recommend, plus a few oldies but still (IMHO) goodies:

    Recent stuff:

    Andy Weir’s THE MARTIAN

    James A. Corey’s THE EXPANSE series. Particularly the 1st, LEVIATHAN WAKES, and 5th, NEMESIS GAMES.

    John Scalzi’s “The Life of the Mind” (which is the first quarter of his new novel, THE END OF ALL THINGS)

    Michael Swanwick’s new Surplus and Darger novel, CHASING THE PHOENIX

    Brian Clevinger (writer) and Scott Wegener (artist)’s ATOMIC ROBO comic book series. Also, offhand: SQUIRREL GIRL. Matt Fraction’s HAWKEYE.

    Robert Sheckley’s collection THE MASK OF MANANA, which NESFA was giving away at Sasquan. Yeah, these aren’t new. But they’re sparkling gems – witty, zingy, engaging, enthralling. String the AAA Ace Interplanetary Decontamination Service stories together and I bet they’d quality as a novel.

    Peter Watts’ BLINDSIGHT and ECHOPRAXIA novels. Neuroscience on steroids!

    and going further back, Niven & Pournelle’s THE MOTE IN GOD’S EYE and THE GRIPPING HAND; Patricia McKillips’ RIDDLE OF STARS trilogy; John Crowley’s ENGINE SUMMER; Algis Budrys’ MICHAELMAS, Steven King’s FIRESTARTER… I’ll stop there.

    Comment by Daniel Dern - September 18, 2015 3:26 pm

  402. Jay, did you like the original Little Fuzzy? If so, how does Fuzzy Nation portray corporations worse than Piper did in Little Fuzzy? The original Victor Grego came up with the idea of committing genocide on a population he had to at least strongly suspect was sapient, just to protect his company’s bottom line. And Grego got to be the good guy in the sequels! At least Scalzi never tried to redeem his scumbag rich guy.

    If you haven’t read Little Fuzzy, I highly recommend it, despite what I said upthere. Great story, and one of the few sci fi stories I can think of where a courtroom battle is not only a big part of the story, but is also extremely interesting. The other example I can think of is the novel-length version of Monument by Lloyd Biggle, but the shorter novella is much better.

    I also heartily second Daniel’s rec for The Martian. Fantastic story. I loved The End Of All Things, too, and would be interested to hear what you think of “The Life Of The Mind,” which was my favorite part of the book. You can always get it out of the library. That’s what I do, with authors I don’t want to support. Also with many authors I do want to support, because books cost money.

    Comment by PeterM - September 18, 2015 4:48 pm

  403. Yes, Peter, I did like the original Little Fuzzy. The difference between that and Scalzi’s book is that the original had the corporation as the bad guy, as was needed; Scalzi turned that up to 11 and then twisted the knob off because it wouldn’t go any farther.

    That Scalzi never tried to redeem the rich guy is exactly my problem. He made him a cardboard cut-out of an eeeeevil rich guy. That turned it from story to polemic.

    I might pick up “The Life of the Mind”, but there’s other stuff much higher on my reading priority list.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 18, 2015 4:59 pm

  404. So Piper had a character who was willing to commit genocide for purely financial motives, but who gave up the idea when he realized things had progressed far enough that it was impossible to achieve his goal of killing literally every member of a sapient race and profiting off the sale of their skins and furs. After that, Piper and all of his characters thought Grego was redeemed enough that he should be allowed to adopt a member of the race he once plotted to destroy. Hell, in the third book (well, one of the third books…) Grego even got to experience True Love.

    And you think that’s better than an evil piece of shit who remains an evil piece of shit? I don’t agree, despite the fact that I enjoyed the original Fuzzy books much more than Fuzzy Nation. I even liked Victor Grego. You just have to kind of skip over the whole “Hey, what if we try genocide…?” scene in the first book. It’s easy enough to do, since the whole thing is only a few pages long. I really got the feeling Piper hadn’t thought that idea through.

    Comment by PeterM - September 18, 2015 6:02 pm

  405. @Daniel—I’d go with that list. What would you think the parameters should be?

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 18, 2015 6:26 pm

  406. @Meredith—fair enough, I hear you. Please remember that there are inflammatory words and names in the kerfunkle for both sides. A good one is Scalzi but I’m not going to ask the interesting dialogue to stop because he is an inflammatory figure. Daniel, Peter, and Jay seem to be having a good discussion and probably no one but me is gritting their teeth when he is mentioned.

    Meredith, I also like your idea that something can’t be nominated twice and not to worry about the time limit. I think that is an outstanding idea. Personally, I would rather all works get equal footing and not differentiate between traditional and self pub as there are some writers that do both. This industry is changing and some good works go viral and some have a slow boil. Perhaps setting a limit on the number of times it can be nominated might be the way to go.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 18, 2015 6:45 pm

  407. @Wildd Ape:

    “What would you think the parameters should be?”

    No spittin’, cussin, or “ad fanimen”s (“ad fanem”?)(sic)(I trademarks this!).

    I don’t have a pony in this race. I just wanted some samples, to give me a sense of things (as opposed to [just] what it isn’t…]

    For now, I’m happy to observe… and when the opportunity to nominate, and then vote, comes along, if I’ve read enuf to have considered opinions, I’ll do so.

    Comment by Daniel Dern - September 18, 2015 6:50 pm

  408. Peter, are you saying that a character can’t grow and learn? That’s a peculiar attitude for an anti-Puppy, considering that that’s the kind of thing they say Puppies don’t like.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 18, 2015 6:55 pm

  409. @Daniel—“no ad fanimens”—that was genius! I’m not the one to try to figure out what should be considered. I know my tastes are pulpy. I’ve never read Corey’s NEMESIS GAMES, it looked good. Is CHASING THE PHEONIX a good man and his dog book? The FIRESTARTER, MOTE IN GOD’S EYE, RIDDLE OF THE STARS were all classic stuff I think. I think we have similar tastes there.

    I like Larry Niven aliens. BV Larson, Ian Douglas, Richard Tongue all have the kind of aliens that I think are interesting and cool. None of these guys have a chance in hell of getting a Hugo though.

    For graphic art I used to be better informed. I’ve slowed down a bit. I used to like Spiderman back when he was funny like Deadpool is now for instance. I’m glad you mentioned Hawkeye, I think the new series was good but I’ve only picked up a couple of issues. Robobot looked good, I’ll have to give it a try.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 19, 2015 8:58 am

  410. The only graphic stories I follow are Schlock Mercenary and Girl Genius. As mentioned above, I buy anything and everything Howard Tayler writes. Nice crunchy hard SF that delivers the funny every day.

    And The Mote in God’s Eye was a really good story. Doubt it’d win a Hugo these days, though.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 19, 2015 9:30 am

  411. Jay, I think you may find continued and entrenched opposition, or at least deliberate disinterest, until you learn to stop including jabs at “the other side” with every comment.

    These are what I’m talking about:
    “And The Mote in God’s Eye was a really good story. Doubt it’d win a Hugo these days, though.”

    “No exclusion here, no matter what the rest of the net would have you believe.”

    “Personally, I believe the excluding is happening on the other side of the cultural divide,”

    “The last thing I needed this last week was to engage with more people howling for my blood.”

    “and if you have that big a majority, the EPH proposal comes right out and says that their wishes should be honored. Should that actually come to pass, I doubt the anti-Puppy folks would,”

    I’m not talking about about whether it’s accurate, I’m just talking about appeal. I’m not even claiming the “other side” doesn’t keep bring it up. But you are trying to create something for all of fandom. Despite it’s genesis in the recent Hugo business, it has to shed that history or it simply will never appeal to a large portion of the population you want to reach.

    I don’t think you are being deliberately inflammatory. I do think you are doing it unknowingly. I don’t really have a solution, maybe think of this in a corporate setting? You are a representative of these awards and trying to get folks to buy in, you have to represent what they mean, not how you feel about them.

    I don’t know if this has been helpful, but I think the idea of storytelling awards is an excellent one.

    Comment by tim clarke - September 19, 2015 12:48 pm

  412. Mote In God’s Eye was really good. Think it would still have a good chance at the Hugos. Have missed the others.

    Comment by Hampus - September 19, 2015 3:24 pm

  413. Tim, after the last week…

    This makes the second time I’ve been at the eye of an Internet hurricane, with far more people bashing me than backing me.

    It gets damned old.

    I’m really hoping that v2 passes the beta reading. I haven’t heard back. I’ll make whatever changes are needed in it.

    Then I’ll let it speak for itself.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 19, 2015 3:42 pm

  414. And the car’s still not fixed. I need to remove a few more things before I can swap the water pump, and then start getting it back together.

    But if nothing else, it’s an accomplishment I can feel good about. Unless I manage to break a bolt off or strip out one of the holes in the aluminum block…

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 19, 2015 3:44 pm

  415. Jay, of course characters can grow and learn. Not all of them will, though, the same way that not all people in real life will. My biggest problem with Grego’s rehabilitation is that it wasn’t really treated as growing and learning at all. It was like his genocidal musings were no big deal and once he dropped the idea as impractical nothing more needed to be said. As if “Well, yes, he was willing to completely wipe out a sapient race if it protected his economic interests, but he didn’t actually do so because it was impractical!” is somehow all that needs to be said before we move on to a more pleasant topic.

    I’m willing to drop the topic if you are. I didn’t even realize this was a pet peeve of mine, actually. And I’m not claiming Scalzi’s version of the character was a masterpiece of literature, just that I see the important differences between the two versions as intelligence and competence rather than morality.

    Okay, that said, to get back to the topic at hand I like the idea of loosening the time limit for nominations, though I’m not sure where I’d draw the line. I understand the thinking behind saying a work can only be nominated once, but I don’t like it. I’d agree that a single work should only be able to win once, but if a nominee doesn’t win why shouldn’t it be eligible the following year? What if a majority of fans think it’s better than all the newer works that became eligible since the twice-nominated work lost?

    Comment by PeterM - September 19, 2015 5:07 pm

  416. […] STILL going on the Hugo Awards:  Jay Maynard proposed a “new award” on BlackGate that left a bit to be desired.  Cat Valente had a few things to say about his characterizations.  […]

    Pingback by Amazing Stories | AMAZING NEWS: 9/20/15 - Amazing Stories - September 20, 2015 11:04 am

  417. Jay,

    You said, “This makes the second time I’ve been at the eye of an Internet hurricane, with far more people bashing me than backing me.”

    As a long-enough Usenet veteran, I’ve seen flamefests that make what’s here look like a gentle breeze.

    Seriously, as one or more people have previously said, I don’t see (the majority of) the comments here as “bashing.” Reasonable debate, discussion, suggestions, requests for clarification, yeah. But little bashing.

    OTGH (On The Gripping Hand), as Tim Clarke noted, “I think you may find continued and entrenched opposition, or at least deliberate disinterest, until you learn to stop including jabs at “the other side” with every comment.”

    There is no “other side” here — unless you create one. Or define one that you say exists. Ten fans, twelve opinions, etc.

    I urge you to follow the sage advice of Harlan Ellison’s spiritual advisor, Professor James Cricket, “Accentuate the positive. Eliminate the negative.”

    You, and your awards proposal, etc., don’t need to be “against” anything or anyone.

    Just like, say, if I wanted to, hmmm, create a set of awards for, mmmmmm,
    – best one-liner comeback by a character
    – best use of backformation
    – use of the most parts of speech within 1,000 words
    – best use of a Firesign Theater reference
    – best multilingual pun, best sequential pun dialog
    – best use of gas chromatography as a plot device
    – best story written all in limerick form

    … I wouldn’t need to deprecate other works (e.g. “Hey, it ain’t EYE OF ARGON” or authors, or people who don’t like this stuff.

    Seriously: People are, more than not, taking the time to offer you feedback to help your proposal work, and be the best it can be. Some perhaps more politicly or politely than others. Sometimes free advice is worth more than you pay for it.

    Comment by Daniel Dern - September 20, 2015 2:46 pm

  418. Daniel, I”m not referring to here. The folks here have been almost unanimously polite and discussed the merits of the question.

    The bashing has occurred elsewhere. Some I expected, like the stuff over on Scalzi’s blog. Others, not so much.

    I hope everyone who’s been criticizing the proposal as showing bias will be pleased with V2. That was my intent in redrafting it.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 20, 2015 3:38 pm

  419. I just read Sarah Hoyt’s reposting of the Human Wave Manifesto. The principles she lays out are ones that will lead to what I consider a good story.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 20, 2015 4:28 pm

  420. After Hoyt called the organizers of Worldcon “socialist cocksucking whores” I will consider any idea from her pariah.

    Otherwise the list is not really impressive:

    2. Why is this? I can’t really understand the point. Are we only supposed to love feelgood-books?

    3. Why the limit against powerful feeling ashamed? This is like hating Spiderman. “With great powers comes great responsibility”. It is because of his shame for not doing anything while being powerful he becomes such a great character.

    6. Again, why only feelgood-books? All the corners rounded. It is like the line from Gremlins 2: “Don’t miss Casablanca, now in full color with a happier ending”.

    Comment by Hampus - September 21, 2015 1:57 am

  421. The reason for why the whole of this “no message” thing won’t work for me is this:

    My favourite SF is not space opera. Not aliens, not military SF. My favourite SF is near future.

    And in near future you always have to extrapolate at least partly from the world as it is today. You will have to define the conflicts in someway based on the real world.

    That means that there will *always* be some person who doesn’t like the extrapolation and then will talk about “message”. When it is just that they don’t like the story line.

    One of my favourite books was Little Brother. Fantastic story, great characters, technology based on reality but adjusted. As a tech nerd it was great. But for a person who can find no problems with Homeland Security of today, it would seem like 100% message fiction.

    So basically, my problem is with an award that would not allow me to nominate books like Little Brother. Or where there would be a gatekeeper that disallowed books like that.


    And again regarding Hoyts manifesto, it would rule out Lovecraft. Almost anything by Lovecraft. Here is another difference. I’m as much a reader of Horror as of SF. I like SF books with horror elements. They don’t have to have a happy ending or be feel good.

    Thats not essential to the *story*.

    Comment by Hampus - September 21, 2015 2:14 am

  422. @PeterM

    The scenario of a work having a small group of dedicated fans who nominate it year in year out because they love it even though it can’t win because it doesn’t have majority support – that would be bad. Give it a twice maximum if you must, but once would be better.

    @Jay Maynard

    Last I checked Vox Day was a Rabid Puppy, not a Sad Puppy. Demanding no-one criticise a guy who has said frankly abhorrent things because you’re in a group that – according to that group – isn’t associated with him, because somehow that will hurt the group that again isn’t supposed to be associated with him, isn’t going to do anything except make people wonder if you or the group in question isn’t being entirely truthful about not being associated or not agreeing with said abhorrent things.

    I also agree that regardless of what anyone else is doing, you, the person who is trying to start a cross-fandom award, needs to quit playing us and them bullshit. Because you, in doing the cross-fandom thing, have taken on the responsibility of being someone that everyone can trust. No-one who has criticised you has taken that on. Just you. You need to be the better person or this isn’t going to work, full-stop, you will never have an inclusive all of fandom award if you keep making snide remarks about some “other side” every other comment. You are trying to make something where there are no sides, so act like it.

    Comment by Meredith - September 21, 2015 3:11 am

  423. Meredith, the problem with people criticizing me over Vox Day is that that conflates the two groups. Criticize m for what I do or say, fine. Criticize me for something Vox Day said, no.

    Put another way, using Vox Day to invalidate something I’m saying is wrong.

    Hampus, don’t forget that Hoyt has direct, personal experience with living in a socialist society. She’s got a right to say bad things about socialists and socialism, and a better understanding of what it is than Americans as a whole.

    If you want to read stuff that makes all humans out as being a blight on the landscape that the world would be better off without, go right ahead. Just don’t expect me to favor it or think it’s deserving of awards.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 21, 2015 7:09 am

  424. Hampus, as for your other objections to the Human Wave Manifesto:

    There’s a difference between having individual characters feeling ashamed for something they personally have done or not done and having characters feeling ashamed for being part of a group they did not choose and cannot change. Nobody should feel ashamed of being gay. Nobody should feel ashamed of being a straight white male, either. Nobody should feel ashamed of being powerless. Nobody should feel ashamed of being powerful, either. It’s what you do with it that matters.

    The point of having an overall positive feeling to the story is that, otherwise, why bother reading the book in the first place? Why should anyone spend money and more valuable time reading something that makes them feel like crap afterwards? And no, I don’t read “important” books. I read for recreation, period.

    As for Little Brother I see plenty of problems with Homeland Security as it is now. As far as I’m concerned, the TSA should be abolished and replaced with removing the prohibition on citizens carrying firearms on aircraft. (And discussions about guns are Right Out and will be ruthlessly moderated away. Fair warning.) That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t think it was about the message, not the story. Even messages I agree with can be too much.

    And horror need not end with the world being eaten by an Elder God. (Or however Lovecraft’s work ends.) Regardless, it’s not my speed. The God Engines was about as much horror as I care for, and it was short, only about 130 pages, IIRC. If you like it, great. There’s an award just for that.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 21, 2015 7:27 am

  425. Jay,

    “Hampus, don’t forget that Hoyt has direct, personal experience with living in a socialist society.”

    What has that to do with ANYTHING. She didn’t talk about a socialist country. She accused the persons working for free at Worldcon for being “socialist cock sucking whores”.

    Do you find that language acceptable towards people who take their own spare time and do everything they can for people to have a good convention?

    This is horrible. How can you berate people for what they say about you when you accept so much, much worse language?

    Comment by Hampus - September 21, 2015 8:20 am

  426. “The point of having an overall positive feeling to the story is that, otherwise, why bother reading the book in the first place?”

    I can see that I will never have the same opinions about books as you. I’m not into feelgood. I find it bland and boring quite a lot of time.

    Bladerunner with an additional ending to make everyone feel better? No thanks. Prefer the directors cut. The horrible editing of the brilliant movie Brazil so it would be more fun and happy? No thanks. 1984 is good just because it does not try to make you feel better. And so on.

    At least we got a name for the award: The Feelgood SF Award. The name by itself will set who will vote for it and what they will vote for.

    Comment by Hampus - September 21, 2015 8:28 am

  427. Tell you what, Hampus. Do you find the censorship of innocent ribbons and pamphlets at Worldcon – the subject that prompted Hoyt’s outburst – acceptable?

    Do you find the concerted, orchestrated media campaign to call Brad Torgerson a white supremacist – remember, he has a black wife and several interracial kids! – acceptable?

    People give back the rhetoric they get. We’ve been getting nothing but hatred from the other side for years. Is it any wonder it gets flung back?

    I’m not going to tell her what she can call someone she finds to be a socialist. Whether or not she was correct in that judgment is another question; I would not have jumped to that conclusion.

    But get that log out of your own eye before you complain about the speck in mine.

    Maybe I’m wrong in hoping to move past all that. I want to leave it all in the past. But if people keep bringing it up, what am I to do? Unilaterally disarm?

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 21, 2015 9:32 am

  428. When it comes to stories, neither Hoyt not I demand happy endings. She said that, explicitly. What we do demand is that we’re not left feeling totally hopeless. See the difference? A hero that goes down swinging in a losing cause is not a happy ending, but it’s not a hopeless one, either.

    But if a book doesn’t leave me feeling good, then I’ve wasted my valuable time reading it. I can feel crappy without spending hours and dollars on the privilege. Like, say, proposing an award for all of fandom, not just the folks who go to Worldcons.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 21, 2015 9:37 am

  429. “This makes the second time I’ve been at the eye of an Internet hurricane, with far more people bashing me than backing me.”


    As a disinterested observer who has not voted for the Hugos and doesn’t care about the books you labeled “message fiction”: You started this. You opened up the conversation by taking open swings at people and casting them as an opposing side.

    Understand that it’s entirely reasonable that people became upset and reacted badly towards you because of your swings. It’s also entirely reasonable that people concluded that your swings defined the reason for this entire endeavor, since you didn’t initially provide any other reasons.

    Continuing to swing at people, or to complain about how they’ve mistreated you after you swung at them, is really just making things worse. If you honestly didn’t want this to blow up, then at the very least you need to accept that there are legitimate complaints against what you started.

    And for goodness sake, if you really want to start an inclusive award for sci-fi fans, *stop deliberately bashing specific authors*!

    Comment by Nobody - September 21, 2015 10:01 am

  430. Wow is this thread spinning out of control:

    Jay, you say you want an award which is open to “all fandom.” Implicit in this entire proposal is the idea that none of the existing awards are open to “all fandom.” Alternatively, it implies that most of the people voting for the existing awards are not “True Fans,” or that they are not being honest in voting for the works they liked the best.

    I get that you feel the works you like tend not to be recognized by the existing awards. And that is totally valid – see my post above! But what I don’t see from you or anyone else in the “Sad Puppy” crowd, is any acknowledgement of the possibility that the reason the stuff you like doesn’t get recognized as often as you’d like is that you are actually in the minority. Not necessarily in the minority in liking the work – but in the minority in thinking that novel X was the best novel of year Y.

    So if you really did create a new award that really was open to “all fandom” I think you would be disappointed with the results unless you restrict the works being voted upon.

    For the award to have any credibility, the way in which you restrict the works has to be transparent, and preferably designed not to tick people off.

    So here’s a thought. Call the award “The Others Award”, and limit it to works published the previous year that were not nominated for any of the other major awards (Hugo, Nebula, etc.). That would increase the chance that works you feel are being overlooked would be nominated, and the criteria is clear and unambiguous. It is also a criteria that I think people could really get behind as it does nothing to belittle or diminish existing awards or fans.

    Comment by HalonEpidemic - September 21, 2015 10:51 am

  431. @Jay Maynard

    But the person who you objected to wasn’t criticising you for what Vox Day said. They were critising Vox Day for what Vox Day said, and then you decided they were criticising you. So read what I said again: If you keep deciding that criticising someone that isn’t you is also criticising you, why shouldn’t people think that you actually agree with him?

    Re: socialism

    You realise you’re leaving out the “cocksucking whores” bit, yeah? Like, she didn’t just call them socialist, she called them socialist cocksucking whores. You also realise that a lot of fandom lives in places with significant socialist elements, yeah? Including Hampus, who isn’t American, and me, who also isn’t? And might not be too thrilled about it being used as an (inaccurate) insult?

    For heaven’s sake, this shit isn’t complicated. You, personally, have taken on the role of trying to make peace across all of fandom. You, personally, have also chosen to throw insults at what you consider “the other side” of fandom, while forgiving any and all behaviour and actions of people on “your side”, and getting upset with anyone who doesn’t like it. Do you not see that this is counterproductive to making a cross-fandom award? Do you not see how you’re reinforcing “sides”?

    Comment by Meredith - September 21, 2015 11:28 am

  432. HalonEpidemic: “Jay, you say you want an award which is open to “all fandom.” Implicit in this entire proposal is the idea that none of the existing awards are open to “all fandom.””

    I’m just going off of what people are saying about the Hugos: that they’re not an award for all fandom, just for Worldcon members. Indeed, the previous statements that the Hugos were for all of fandom are exactly how we wound up here, because Larry Correia and Brad Torgerson took them at their word, only to be told “Worldcon members only! No Hugo for you!”.

    So which is it? Are the Puppies right and the Hugos are for all fandom, or are the Hugos for Worldcon members only and these are needed? You can’t have it both ways.

    Meredith, people are criticizing Puppies – undifferentiated – for what Vox Day says. That’s what I’m objecting to.

    And I refuse to mansplain to Sarah Hoyt what she should think about socialists, especially not after reading what her childhood was like under them. If you have a problem with what she said, take it up with her.

    I don’t forgive Vox Day. I thought I’d made that abundantly clear by now. And the folks who are arguing against me are forgiving any wand all behavior by those who have come out in opposition to the Puppies.

    That sword must cut both ways, and be acknowledged as doing so, or we will never be able to get past the words and find agreement.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 21, 2015 11:42 am

  433. Jay each individual has to take responsibility for the words they use. You have a habit of derailing and not answering the question asked. Instead you point to all this “stuff” going on elsewhere.

    If you want to stop feeling attacked here on your own blog then focus on the exact words someone is using and respond to those words & only those words NOT issues “out there”. My husband and I found out a number of our fights were because we were having different conversations in our heads from the ones actually happening between us. This changed when we literally started documenting our conversations and discussing the “documented conversation”. What a difference it makes when we actually have a one conversation with each other instead of having 3 totally different conversations (1 with each other & the 2 going on in each of our heads).

    Believe it or not when someone asks your opinion on something or for you to define a term they are asking YOU. Stop assuming it’s a set up. Treat it in good faith and you might be surprised where the conversation goes.

    Comment by TashaTurner - September 21, 2015 1:00 pm

  434. Jay,

    1) “I’m just going off of what people are saying about the Hugos: that they’re not an award for all fandom, just for Worldcon members”

    People saying it doesn’t mean that’s the case. I can’t say whether the Hugos are awards “for” Worldcon members… but (to the best of my knowledge) by definition, supporting and attending WorldCon members are t’s who nominates and votes

    2) You said, ” We’ve been getting nothing but hatred from the other side for years.”

    Who is “We” and who is “the other side”? And if you feel these exist, how do you plan to create awards “for all fans”?

    Comment by Daniel Dern - September 21, 2015 1:08 pm

  435. @Jay Maynard

    The ones criticising you aren’t trying to do something for everyone in fandom. YOU ARE. The responsibilities are inherently different. As I’ve already pointed out, repeatedly, and you keep ignoring as if you, representative of all-fandom award, is the same as Joe P Random Commenter. You’re not. You have to be better, because otherwise all your efforts aren’t going to get anywhere. I mean, if you want to sabotage yourself because its more important to you to cling to hurt feelings than actually do the thing, go ahead, but I got the impression that this award was actually important to you.

    You’re still ignoring the “cocksucking whores” part of that comment. It isn’t irrelevant. Socialist was one word out of three.

    What has forgiveness got to do with anything I said?

    Wild Ape is doing a better job than you of putting aside interfandom conflicts and he has absolutely no responsibility to do so at all. You. Do.

    Comment by Meredith - September 21, 2015 1:20 pm

  436. Jay,

    Of course it is not acceptable to call Torgersen a white supremacist. See? I could say that it isn’t acceptable. You could not say the same about Hoyts comments. And that is why you can never handle an award like this.

    This is a deal breaker for me. You had a choice. You could have said that it was unacceptable to use words like “cock sucking whores” about people who work on their free time.

    You couldn’t. You can never be neutral. Good luck with your puppy award. I’m leaving and will not care if it fails or succeeds.

    Comment by Hampus - September 21, 2015 2:29 pm

  437. Meredith, I still refuse to mansplain to Sarah Hoyt what she should call socialists. Would I have said it? No. I might have called out thievery for what it was, though. How many folks here would call out the thievery and censorship committed by the Sasquan concom? Not with “socialist cocksucking whores”, but with some form of denunciation?

    Daniel, I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t. Either the Hugos are awards for all of fandom, or they’re not. Read HalonEpidemic’s comment again. If the Hugos are for all of fandom, I’m insulting fans. If not, then I’m insulting the Hugos.

    And yet, I don’t think there’s anyone here who will disagree that there is a significant chunk of fandom that feels excluded. There’s lots of discussion about whether they should, but not that that they do.

    I could easily have made an award that was aimed squarely at Puppies. I choose to reach for a higher target, though. I had thought that all of fandom would agree that an award designed to celebrate good stories would be a desirable thing.

    I may be wrong, but I’m going to give it one last try before I give up.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 21, 2015 2:40 pm

  438. @Jay Maynard

    Has anyone asked you to talk to Hoyt? No? Then stop using it to evade, as you have multiple times now.

    I’m fascinated that A. You seem to think that the people holding Worldcon are socialist, which is a claim without evidence, and B. That you think someone criticising Vox Day is a terrible, terrible insult to you and all Puppies everywhere but Hoyt calling people “socialist cocksucking whores” is eh, you wouldn’t do it, but whatever.

    Personally I think Worldcon had both the right AND the responsibility to reduce the likelihood of bad interactions kicking off at the con itself, and the materials in question would have been likely to cause that. Similar to the responsibility you have but keep dodging to be non-partisan.

    You didn’t respond to either my points about your responsibility to be non-partisan, nor to me pointing out that your words on Vox Day had nothing to do with my comment.

    So I guess the answer to my thoughts was this: Yes, you do care more about your own hurt feelings and excusing your “side” more than you care about starting the award, and I’ve been wasting my time trying to get you to understand that your words are crippling your own attempts.

    Comment by Meredith - September 21, 2015 2:57 pm

  439. I do not think the people who put on Sasquan are socialists. I would not call them “socialist cocksucking whores” myself. I disagree with Hoyt’s characterization. I will defend to the death her right to say it.

    People criticizing all Puppies because Vox Day are wrong. People criticizing Rabid Puppues because Vox Day have a point, one I largely share.

    If Sasquan was stealing those materials in order to reduce the likelihood of bad interactions, they should have shut down the Vonnegut Memorial Asterisks for the same reason. They had as much duty to be non-partisan as you claim I do, and for the same reasons, and yet they blatantly took sides. Nobody’s slamming them for it.

    You’re asking me to be a saint, Meredith. I’m not. I’m human. I’ve been hurt, and I can’t just brush it off like it never happened. My proposal was intended to be non-partisan, and the second version was carefully worded to be completely so – as agreed by those who have read it. I need to write an explanation to go along with it, and it will be carefully written to be nonpartisan and tested the same way before it sees the light of day.

    But as for my words crippling my attempts: that was doomed before I ever posted the first draft. I’m a Puppy, and therefore unclean.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 21, 2015 3:05 pm

  440. “I’m just going off of what people are saying about the Hugos: that they’re not an award for all fandom, just for Worldcon members.”

    It is certainly correct that the Hugos represent the voting of Worldcon members. But other than paying the fee, I am not aware of any other bar to membership. And at $50, I think you pretty effectively weed out casual interlopers and ballot stuffing. To the extent this results in a selection bias among the voter group, I think the bias runs towards dedicated and/or wealthy fans – as opposed to fans with a particular political bent.

    It can certainly be argued that $50 is too high a price. But any award system you put in place is going to have to have some barrier to entry to weed out ballot stuffing and sock puppets. So how would your award be any different from the Hugos? It would simply be the award given by the members of your awards organization.

    For the award to be credible, it must have transparent rules and requirements that are, as much as possible, objective in nature. It’s prestige will then be determined by how long it has been in operation and how large the voter participation is. I mean, I can get together with a couple of buddies in my basement and award our favorite author a a “best novel” award – but then who cares? If, on the other hand, you can get a few hundred or thousand people to participate, then you’ve got an award that really means something.

    So, I’m still curious about people’s reactions to “The Others Award” idea.

    Comment by HalonEpidemic - September 21, 2015 3:07 pm

  441. “I’m human. I’m defending those who hurt others by calling them cocksucking whores and am feeling like a victim when people just don’t brush it off like it never happened.”

    There. Fixed it for you.

    Comment by Hampus - September 21, 2015 3:12 pm

  442. Please don’t put words in my mouth, Hampus.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 21, 2015 3:20 pm

  443. Jay, you just said:

    “But as for my words crippling my attempts: that was doomed before I ever posted the first draft. I’m a Puppy, and therefore unclean.”

    Well, if you call yourself a Puppy, I believe that’s taking a side which includes a fair # of statements including “there’s another side” and perhaps sundry beliefs wrt to said ‘other side.’

    None of that stops you from putting together “The INSERT-NAME-HERE Awards For Great SF/F Storytelling.”

    It does, arguably, conflict with your statement “for all fans.” Or, if you want to consider “the other side” not fans by your definition, that’s at odds with your earlier statements about who this is for.

    Let me suggest that rather try to be nonpartisan, you try to be a-partisan. Focus on the awards and what you want them to be about. Don’t worry about other awards, or about discussions that aren’t directly about what you are trying to do. Don’t accentuate, repeat, recap, or rephrase the negatives.

    It’s possible, of course, that when you have your awards plan sorted out to your satisfaction, some people will decide not to participate, for whatever reason(s). That’s their (our) perogative.

    But again, “as for my words crippling my attempts: that was doomed…I’m a Puppy”

    I’d respond that the question out here would be, “Do you plan to include any of the mindset, methods, ad faninems ™ that some (many?) Puppies said/did, in implementing the INSERTNAMEHERE awards?”

    (Ignoring whether you identify with any particular denomination of Puppy, also.)

    Comment by Daniel Dern - September 21, 2015 3:21 pm

  444. “If Sasquan was stealing those materials in order to reduce the likelihood of bad interactions, they should have shut down the Vonnegut Memorial Asterisks for the same reason. They had as much duty to be non-partisan as you claim I do, and for the same reasons, and yet they blatantly took sides. Nobody’s slamming them for it.”

    That’s funny. I could have sworn the last day or so on File770 was people discussing why they did or did not think the asterisks were a good idea – including the host and a Sasquan Hugo administrator who thought they were definitely a bad idea. Perhaps you just haven’t been looking very hard? Or perhaps you only notice the things that hurt your feelings?

    As for unclean… You got a great deal of generosity and reaching out from people who had been hurt by the Puppies – Cat Valente, for example, who tried very hard to work with you despite her nominations having been directly called into question and insulted by the Puppies. Your inability to quit making snide remarks hurt you more than being a Puppy did.

    I’m not asking you to be a saint. I am asking you to be professional. Here’s what I do when I’m upset about something but don’t want to or can’t express that fully: I type out my angry and upset remarks. And then I delete them. And then I repeat that process until I end up with something that works for my purpose. I don’t think you’re even trying to moderate your responses at the moment, because I have a Puppy example who has been (to more or less success): Wild Ape. Your posts don’t sound like conciliatory, meet in the middle, we might disagree on [thing] but lets move past it to do the award. Your posts sound like “I can’t put [thing] behind me at all, and I want to keep making mean and snide remarks about everyone else, but if they say anything about it or get hurt then THEY’RE the mean ones and that justifies me making even more mean and snide remarks, so there”.

    Comment by Meredith - September 21, 2015 3:21 pm

  445. Meredith, I’m not a regular File770 reader. I wasn’t aware that discussion was happening over there. I’ll have to check it out.

    But I’ll make you a promise. If people will quit hitting me over the head, I’ll do my darned-level best to stop replying in kind. Deal?

    I’m putting a lot of effort into doing exactly that with the v2 proposal and rationale.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 21, 2015 3:57 pm

  446. @Jay Maynard

    Pixel Scroll 9/20. Mike Glyer comments on his dislike of the asterisks within the post itself and then there’s considerable back and forth within the comments right up to now.

    Comment by Meredith - September 21, 2015 4:00 pm

  447. Jay,

    I first met you online in the Monastery, where the tone of criticism was and is a lot harsher than what I’ve seen aimed at you here.

    And yet you persist, after lashing out numerous times, and taking up a defense of Sarah Hoyt’s intemperate insults, in painting yourself as the aggrieved party.

    Stop acting like a luser.

    Comment by mvdwege - September 21, 2015 4:08 pm

  448. @mvdwege

    To be fair, the tone over at File770 (or Scalzi’s blog) has been much harsher. Still nothing like calling someone a cocksucking whore, but the proposal – or Jay – is not the most well-liked thing over there.

    Comment by Meredith - September 21, 2015 4:27 pm

  449. Thank you for pointing me at that, Meredith. I just read the File770 discussion in between taking calls at work.

    I’m pleased to hear that I’m not the only one who thought the asterisks were in bad taste, and especially that that includes at least one of the Hugo organizers. I’m also pleased to hear that there are those who don’t accept Gerrold’s excuse that he was doing it for charity. (Ook.)

    But I’m disappointed that nobody’s pointing out Gerrold’s name-checking of Kurt Vonnegut in conjunction with his famous mention of what looks like an asterisk.

    Thank you.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 21, 2015 4:45 pm

  450. mvdwege, this isn’t the Monastery or the Other Place. Different standards are expected to apply here as opposed to there. Thankfully, the level of discussion here is indeed nothing like would have taken place there.

    But consider this: Why do you think I left both places?

    (For the uninitiated, the Monastery refers to the Usenet newsgroup alt.sysadmin.recovery, a place for…uninhibited discussions about users from the viewpoint of administrators. As with most newsgroups, it had lots of stuff that wasn’t quite on-topic.)

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 21, 2015 4:47 pm

  451. @Jay Maynard

    Did Gerrold name-check Vonnegut? Are you quite certain? Can you provide the exact quote for that? Gerrold says he didn’t on his facebook page and I can’t find any mention of it in any of the live-blogs. It wasn’t part of Jim Wright’s speech either (even the full version that he didn’t have time to do on stage). The first I remember seeing it was a Puppy mentioning Vonnegut’s asterisk thing rather than anyone commenting on the ceremony itself.

    Comment by Meredith - September 21, 2015 6:25 pm

  452. @Jay Maynard

    Okay, I tracked down the video, which by the way involved a lot of time and swearing with frustration because for some reason my googlefu was really not working, and there isn’t a mention of Vonnegut during the presentation. The video is here:
    The presentation is during Part 2, and can be found at 1:40 and is about five minutes long.

    I understand Gerrold mentioned the fundraiser at other points during Worldcon, but since I don’t have video of that, no-one’s claimed it happened at another point, and he says that he never mentioned Vonnegut in association with the Asterisk (although he does say that he wishes he’d remembered to mention that Terry Pratchett was the master of footnotes, making an asterisk appropriate for a Prachett-related fundraiser), I’m not convinced a smoking gun can be found there.

    There are legitimate reasons to criticise the asterisk presentation, but I think the Vonnegut thing was invented by someone else – Puppy or otherwise. (I want to say Kate Paulk mention it first, but I’m not certain. Someone Mad Genius Club associated.)

    Comment by Meredith - September 21, 2015 6:44 pm

  453. I’ll take your word for it, Meredith. I had believed one of the other accounts, but in the absence of confirmation, I’ll take your refutation as binding.

    That makes Gerrold somewhat less of a jerk, but does not absolve him entirely; as has been pointed out elsewhere, it doesn’t take much thought to see that that would be received poorly and as something other than a conciliatory gesture.

    And I still can’t write the Orangutan Foundation a $2800 check, so I’ll just have to call Gerrold a jerk whether he will let me or not.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 21, 2015 6:49 pm

  454. “I understand Gerrold mentioned the fundraiser at other points during Worldcon, but since I don’t have video of that, no-one’s claimed it happened at another point…”

    I heard him say it. At least one or more times at the dealers-room table/booth where he was selling (and signing). Possibly as part of the GoH interview done by Vince Docherty. Possibly in direct conversation with me. Definitely at least once — that I know of, and it seemed to be one of his key chat points, so I’m betting, “Often!”

    Comment by Daniel Dern - September 21, 2015 6:55 pm

  455. @Jay Maynard

    My general feeling on it was that they were trying to reframe the asterisk many people had already mentally attached to the year’s awards as something positive, so however it was received, I’m disinclined to think anyone was trying to be a jerk. The success, however, has definitely been mixed and that’s a shame. Intent isn’t magic.

    You can check my work once you’re not at work, I don’t mind, I won’t be offended. It’s why I put in the link and the timestamp.

    Comment by Meredith - September 21, 2015 6:56 pm

  456. @Daniel Dern

    You saw him mention the fundraiser itself, or Vonnegut in association with the fundraiser? Because I meant the first had happened and I had no proof for the latter within those mentions. :)

    Comment by Meredith - September 21, 2015 6:58 pm

  457. Meredith, what I’m planning to do is look around and see where the Vonnegut stuff came from and chase it down from that angle. I have no reason to doubt you. Thank you for going to the source.

    But I won’t be doing that for a while. The water pump still needs to come off the car, and I was down for a lot of the weekend with a stuffy nose and being tired from not sleeping.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 21, 2015 6:58 pm

  458. @Jay Maynard

    I think it comes from Burnside’s post:

    No quote, no context, no video, which I find frustrating because just saying Gerrold mentioned Vonnegut at some point during the reception – in relation to the asterisks? Telling a merry tale of hijinks that Vonnegut got up to with another author? In a list of fine science fiction authors past and present? It could be anything.

    Comment by Meredith - September 21, 2015 7:08 pm

  459. I have no memory about Vonnegut citations, but given the energy density of Sasquan (and my peripetaticness), that doesn’t mean he did (or didn’t) mention it in my hearing range.

    Comment by Daniel Dern - September 21, 2015 7:08 pm

  460. /me rather resolutely closes the File770 browser window before he’s tempted to say things he shouldn’t.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 21, 2015 7:45 pm

  461. @Jay Maynard

    I feel like I should reward that somehow. Cookie? *clicker*?

    Comment by Meredith - September 21, 2015 8:21 pm

  462. My Google-fu is failing me. I can’t turn up where I saw someone say that Gerrold name-checked Vonnegut. Lots of folks – Puppies and anti-Puppies alike – drew the inference anyway, but as far as I can tell, not because Gerrold said anything at the ceremony.

    Fair enough. But he’s still a jerk for making jokes that should have been seen as reinforcing the polarization. As Mike Glyer put it, “it’s impossible to see why it was a hard choice to cut this gag….”

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 21, 2015 9:21 pm

  463. There’s a transcript of that segment here:

    Comment by Meredith - September 21, 2015 10:38 pm

  464. So Gerrold is a jerk for making jokes that should have been seen as reinforcing the polarization. Hoyt is not a jerk for calling people “socialist cocksucking whores” when they try to lessen the polarization?


    Comment by Hampus - September 22, 2015 1:18 am

  465. Hampus, the difference is tha Gerrold increased the polarization as part of the official ceremonies. The ribbons and pamphlets that were stolen were not official, and were stolen by con officials or with their knowledge and approval. That act of theft itself increased polarization, not decreased it.

    And that’s enough on that subject. It’s getting tiresome. Move on, please.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 22, 2015 1:36 am

  466. Yes, it is tiresome when people call you out for accepting slander from one side, and wanting to defend the slander and defamation to the death, while thinking it is bad from the other.

    Poor you. Oh, and no, there were no ribbons stolen. They were all given back. And the pamphlets consisted of sexual harassment. You defend that too? Think sexual harassment has a place at conventions?

    Comment by Hampus - September 22, 2015 2:10 am

  467. I’m not going to rise to your bait, Hampus.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 22, 2015 2:12 am

  468. @Jay

    “Daniel, I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t. Either the Hugos are awards for all of fandom, or they’re not. Read HalonEpidemic’s comment again. If the Hugos are for all of fandom, I’m insulting fans. If not, then I’m insulting the Hugos.”

    Not quite sure what you’re citing me for here, but in case it needs clarification, I stated above that the Hugos are voted on by members of Worldcon (as opposed to fandom in general), but that Worldcon itself is open to whoever wants/can pony up the money. So are they “for” all of fandom? I’d say yes. Do they actually represent the consensus opinion of all of “fandom.” That’s tough to say, because there is no way to know how representative a sampling Worldcon membership is of general “fandom.” This is particularly true given that I don’t think there is a generally agreed upon definition of “fandom” here. So you are all fighting over an unknowable.

    “And yet, I don’t think there’s anyone here who will disagree that there is a significant chunk of fandom that feels excluded.”

    You can quibble about “significant”, but I wouldn’t be shocked if you were correct. Holders of consistently minority opinions usually feel excluded. My point above was that your proposal doesn’t seem to address the fundamental issue you have stated that you want to address – that certain categories of work, though worthy of recognition, never seem to get it from the existing awards. Which is a totally valid criticism.

    Comment by HalonEpidemic - September 22, 2015 9:48 am

  469. @Jay,

    “I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t. Either the Hugos are awards for all of fandom, or they’re not [… ]If the Hugos are for all of fandom, I’m insulting fans. If not, then I’m insulting the Hugos.”

    On the Gripping Hand: If you don’t set your awards up in opposition to the Hugos, you aren’t damned (or saved).

    I still don’t understand what you mean (or think you mean) by “awards for all of fandom.” For example, suppose Laurel K Hamilton’s fans decide to get in on the action. Boom, big numbers. Heck, I’m sure that if John Ringo say, “Hey, if you feel my new book is good enough for a Hugo, nominate it, and if it makes it into the final round, and you haven’t found something you feel is even better, I’d be tickled pink if you vote for mine.”

    “And yet, I don’t think there’s anyone here who will disagree that there is a significant chunk of fandom that feels excluded.”

    I bet there’s a lot of people here who are more interested (or at least curious) about your proposed award to honor stories, approaches (good storytelling, but a “not of message” (sorry, couldn’t resist the Old Testament pun here), and the people who write ’em.

    I suspect you’re in the process of losing the eyeballs of people who don’t want more name-calling and other negativity. We can get all of that we want in other forums and their comment streams.


    “that certain categories of work, though worthy of recognition, never seem to get it from the existing awards. Which is a totally valid criticism.”

    Yes, modulo the statistical difference between “category” and “individual works which may fit into a category.”

    Say, if this hasn’t already been done — there’s so many awards out there I only know about a fraction of them — maybe it’s time that [some of us] start up our own awards to recognize [good] stories that have strong message content. Perhaps we can call them the “Messies” :-) (And people who disapprove can refer to the process as the “Messy Antics” :-)

    As for “a consensus of all ‘fandom'”? I doubt you could get that for even a simpler question, like “Did Han shoot first?” or “Star Trek first season vs ST:TNG.” You might get consensus for “Worst Batman movie,” or at least “Worst Batman movie costume.”

    Out of curiousity, for your INSERTNAMEHERE awards, how many people would you feel would be the minimum # participating for the I/N/H’s to represent “all of fandom.” And assuming you don’t mean “all of them,” how would you determine that they statistically represent all of fandom?

    You’re free to say, “participants are those who, for purposes of this award, care about “good SF/F storytelling.” Although if many participants also participate in awards where you feel they’re rewarding other considerations, like, say, good use of word-doubling, or, societal introspection, would you cross their votes out?

    Bat Durston, out.

    Comment by Daniel Dern - September 22, 2015 10:29 am

  470. “If you don’t set your awards up in opposition to the Hugos, you aren’t damned (or saved).”

    That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. If your only rationale boils down to “this award will be better than that other award, and will honor books that are better than the books that other award honors”, well, that’s pretty much the opposite of how you start a “non-partisan” or “inclusive” process, and people are going to take it as an insult.

    Here’s hoping version2.0 can find something unique that can actually be inclusive, and dropping the negativity.

    Comment by Nobody - September 22, 2015 11:49 am

  471. You know, Hampus usually only gets really het up about Vox Day’s admiration for a mass murderer that nearly killed his friend. I just want to point that out, because if Hampus is getting pissed off, you’re doing something pretty wrong.

    Comment by Meredith - September 22, 2015 12:32 pm

  472. Meredith, I can’t think of an answer for Hampus that doesn’t take me right down the road you talked me out of following.

    Comment by Jay Maynard - September 22, 2015 12:35 pm

  473. @Jay Maynard

    No, that’s fair. I just wanted to point out where that road lead to.

    Comment by Meredith - September 22, 2015 1:02 pm

  474. @Wild Ape:

    If I were here to troll I would have continued to argue with Jay over slates. That would be an excellent way to troll because neither of us, in many years on Usenet, ever convinced the other one of anything whatsoever, so the discussion could be spun out forever.

    I simply happen to like to use variations on “Major Denis Bloodnok” when I want to be pseudonymous.

    @Jay Maynard:
    The protagonist could get grudging acceptance from the horse people; there’s a story in that. It’s remarkable that Major Taylor got to compete in and win a world track cycling championship in 1899 in spite of being black.

    If he was a late-Weber character he’d also have become President of the USA and probably Grand Wizard of the KKK by popular acclaim.

    I appreciate this is a bit off the point, so feel free to tell me to stop rambling.

    Comment by bloodnok - September 22, 2015 1:36 pm

  475. So I’m going to try something more positive today. Yours to do with as you will. I’ve taken bits and pieces from comments here, other places you’ve pointed to, and other conversations I’ve been involved in elsewhere.

    Happy SFF Storytelling Awards (put your name here)

    These awards are for stories which are frequently overlooked by other SFF Awards as the stories are just fun entertainment and do not touch on serious social and/or political issues.

    Given out for best
    1. MilSF
    2. Fantasy
    3. YA
    4. Urban Fantasy
    5. Paranormal Romance
    6. Shared Universe
    7. Media Tie-in
    8. Best series

    Criteria for books/stories:

    1. Books should be fun, comedic, entertaining (all subjective “I’ll know it when I see it stuff)
    2. Books should have an upbeat belief in the human spirit
    3. Books should be full of rich non-stereotyped characters
    4. Books should be light on social and political messages (subjective as we tend not to see messages we are in agreement with)
    5. Character growth is good
    6. Happy endings or happy for now endings are preferred. If it is a dystopia story it should include hope. If the character dies in the end they should die fighting for something they believe in.
    7. Books should have beginnings, middles, and ends. 
    8. Science/magic should make sense in the books universe

    Nominating & voting:
    5/8 – I like 2 round nominating but it’s more work for administrators
    Small fee or free (no clue how you fund this)

    3D printed items?
    Internet wall?
    Piece of paper?

    Questions & problems:
    1. Funding
    2. Administering
    3. Name
    4. Getting people on board & excited
    5. Must stay positive and drop past baggage to move forward
    6. Do you want a convention involved in giving awards or wait a few years/never
    7. Software & website
    8. Logo
    9. Do you need to incorporate to protect mark
    10. Who is taking on
    11. Do you want awards for just books? Additional for shorter written work? Comics/graphic novels? Games? Anthologies and magazines rather than individual stories? Filking? Podcast? Blogs, fanzines, tv, movies, stuff I forgot? Word counts?
    12. How many years for eligibility? Different for Trad published than self-published as self-published takes more time to get “legs” Or separate awards with different eligibility for trad/self-published so they aren’t competing & it’s less confusing to voters?

    Ways to fund:
    1. Kickstarter/crowdfunding but make sure you have lots of support first & someone experienced in running Kickstarters running the campaign
    2. Small group of early investors
    3. Out of your pocket
    4. Other I’ve not thought of

    I’m sure there are lots of things I’ve not thought of. But I tried to pull together bits and pieces from all over, remove my bias, make it positive and enthusiastic, and include all the details I could think of which it takes at a big level to put something like this together.

    Comment by TashaTurner - September 22, 2015 3:28 pm

  476. @Tasha Turner

    I really like your framing of the criteria. All positivity, nothing that insults books that don’t fit into it, just talks about the aims and focus of the award. Good stuff.

    I think the Best [Category] list might need tweaking, but that isn’t unexpected. There definitely needs to be another sci-fi category (Space Opera? Near Future?), and maybe the Fantasy one ought to be renamed High Fantasy (to contrast with Urban Fantasy)? Paranomal Romance, YA, Media Tie-in all look good, so does Series and Shared Universe, but I’m not sure those two need to be separate.

    No opinion on the nomination and voting systems since there are so many flying around right now that I think they’d all need to be individually written up with pros/cons/interactions with other systems.

    I sort of wonder whether starting with books the first year and then expanding to other media or fanac once you’ve ironed out the problems might be better. Start manageable and don’t burn out your volunteers/leaders in Year 1.

    Funding needs a plan in place but the details of the award probably need to come first. Can’t fund something when you can’t define it.

    Comment by Meredith - September 22, 2015 5:30 pm

  477. […] Black Gate consistently publishes quality content, and I read something there almost every day. However, Black Gate also published Jay Maynard’s ill-advised and much-mocked proposal for an SF Storytelling award. […]

    Pingback by Hugo Recommendations: Best Semiprozine and Best Fanzine | SF Bluestocking - March 28, 2016 12:03 pm

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