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Black Gate Declines Hugo Nomination

Sunday, May 1st, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

2011 Hugo Award-smallEarly last week, Black Gate was nominated for a Hugo Award in the category of Best Fanzine. On Friday, we contacted the Awards Committee at MidAmeriCon II, the World Science Fiction Convention, to inform them that we have declined the nomination.

Why did we decline? While we won’t know the exact number of nominating ballots until the stats are released (after the Hugos are awarded), it’s clear that Black Gate largely benefited from Vox Day’s Rabid Puppy Hugo slate. As we reported Wednesday, roughly 80% of this year’s Hugo ballot was dictated by that slate — it swept six categories, including Short Story, Graphic Story, and Fanzine. Our choice to withdraw was informed by many of the same factors that led us to make the same decision last year.

It also seems fairly obvious that we cannot win. Of the 61 nominees the Puppy ballots placed on the Hugo ballot last year, only one, Guardians of the Galaxy, received an award. The Rabid Puppy brand, which BG is now unwillingly associated with, is so toxic that it’s virtually impossible to overcome that association without the equivalent of a $100 million advertising campaign. Those nominees who stubbornly argued otherwise last year, and attended the Hugo ceremony with high hopes, learned that the hard way, unceremoniously losing out to No Award in a painful rout across virtually every category. (Incidentally, I also voted No Award for most of the ballot.)

Several folks I admire, including George R.R. Martin and John Scalzi, are urging nominees not to withdraw, and for excellent reasons. However, the reason that’s paramount to me, my desire to step aside in favor of a worthy publication not on the slate, outweighs those considerations. A great many publications I deeply respect were completely swept aside by the Rabid Puppy ballot, including John DeNardo’s SF Signal, Rich Horton’s Strange at Ecbatan, Coming Attractions, and even last year’s winner — Journey Planet. By giving up our very slim chance at winning, we can give another deserving publication a shot. That seems like a fair exchange to me.

Good luck to all the nominees — I mean that. As usual, we’ll be covering the Awards, and the events leading up to them, here on the blog.


  1. I’m really sorry to read this, John. I accept your reason, but I believe Black Gate is worthy of a Hugo Award, and the Rabids be damned.

    Comment by R.K. Robinson - May 1, 2016 8:33 pm

  2. You’ve made the right call. I would have stumbled on this one. Now that I see how you lay it all out, I’m persuaded that there would have been no chance of winning to counter the ethical misgivings we all had.

    I confess, I became enamored of the idea that the Hugo electorate might read “Why Do We Do This To Ourselves? I Can Explain!” in the packet. But for that essay to be in any way associated with the Rabid Puppies would have been beyond regrettable.

    So what now? Exactly the same plan we’d have followed if there had never been a nomination, or for that matter if we’d won: we write the best posts we can.


    Comment by Sarah Avery - May 1, 2016 10:53 pm

  3. Congrats John on taking the high road. I look forward to Black Gate receiving a nomination that we all can feel wholeheartedly good about.

    Comment by jeffreycrogers - May 1, 2016 11:04 pm

  4. Hopefully Vox Day will develop some new hobby soon that doesn’t involve science fiction. Black Gate truly deserves a Hugo and its a shame the puppies put you in this position. Still, you have continued to show your integrity.

    Comment by Amy Bisson - May 1, 2016 11:07 pm

  5. […] No comment. Black Gate has declined nomination. They did the same last year, as did the Black Gate writer Matthew David Surridge whose monumental Sad Puppies takedown is still worth reading. “Several folks I admire, including George R.R. Martin and John Scalzi, are urging nominees not to withdraw, and for excellent reasons. However, the reason that’s paramount to me, my desire to step aside in favor of a worthy publication not on the slate, outweighs those considerations.” Link […]

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  6. […] […]

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  7. I’m sorry that you were put in this untenable position again, I respect your decision again, and I look forward to the day when I can vote for Black Gate after an untainted nomination process.

    Comment by Joe H. - May 2, 2016 8:27 am

  8. I think had you not been on VDs slate you’d have been honestly on the shortlist. One of these years I expect to see you on the ballot honestly as I know many of us read you now. What an awful position to keep being put in.

    Comment by TashaTurner - May 2, 2016 11:13 am

  9. I agree. I understand its difficult for you and I hope you will be getting your Hugo in a normal year anytime soon.
    VD is shooting innocent bystanders in a war he is the only one fighting.

    Comment by peer - May 2, 2016 1:38 pm

  10. I just put this here and hope someone finds it – Its brilliant!

    and I know Im late, but I still hope to feed this #myponysHugo

    Comment by peer - May 6, 2016 3:38 pm

  11. […] […]

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  12. […] where Niall plucked me out of obscurity back in 2013, got boosted onto the 2016 Hugo Ballot because Black Gate dropped out after a group of abusers and harassers slated them. And so, after six years of lurking around in […]

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  13. […] After the 2016 finalists were announced, one of the original five Fanzine finalists, Black Gate, withdrew from consideration. The Hugo administrators contacted us to let us know that we were next in the voting tally, and […]

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