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How I learned to stop worrying and love the concept of punitive slating....

Hi ho, Elizabeth Bear here, coming to you with a special report from deep in the wilds of eastern central North America, just underneath the left end of that wobbly looking blue bit that looks kind of like a kersplotchy asterisk. And I'm here at Charlie's Diary today to talk about slate voting for the Hugos, and what some potential developments of its tactical use mean to the individual artist.

By slate voting, in this case, I mean the practice of some person, generally an internet pundit or personality of some sort with an interest in the outcome of the Hugos, presenting an organized "slate" of nominees consisting of exactly as many nominees as there are nomination slots on the ballot. This, if the organizer can manage to procure a fairly small minority of voters, can have the effect of driving all disorganized (that is to say, non-slated) works off the ballot, because those non-slated candidates are being simply chosen by people who liked their work best out of the available options and weirdly enough, different people tend to like different things.

Slate or bloc voting is not technically forbidden under the rules. But I think it's damned poor sportsfanship, and the Hugo outcome indicates that an overwhelming majority of my fellow fans, of nearly all political stripes, agree.

This is what happened with the Hugos this year. The Hugos have a built-in nuclear option fail safe, the "No Award," option, by which the voters (self-selected members of the World Science Fiction Society, who pay a membership fee that includes voting privileges) can deal with either works they deem unworthy of the nomination, perceived cheating, or both. It was deployed heavily this year to counteract the slates. As a result of the slates a number of works were never given a chance at consideration—including a very good story by the late Eugie Foster that may have been her last chance at a Hugo nomination—and as a result of the "No Award" option, a number of Hugos simply were not handed out.

While there are some rules changes in the works to make it all more difficult to pull off in the future, they will take an additional year to ratify because that's the way the World Science Fiction Society constitution works, so the 2016 Hugos have the same vulnerabilities as the 2015 ones did.

I'm not particularly concerned at this juncture by the Rabid Puppies' threat to "No Award" every category in the Hugos, because in my opinion they just can't marshal the votes. (It takes a lot more individual ballots to force a "no award" than it does to get something on the ballot in the first place.)

And I'm not particularly concerned by a repeat performance of an all-slate ballot, because I suspect that it'll be hard for the people who failed to push a slate winner through in 2015 to muster a lot of interest from the people they recruited this year to drop an additional $40 to vote next year. (I could be wrong. I often underestimate the human capacity for spite. But I wouldn't do it, in their shoes, over something I have no particular emotional investment in.)

Also, with a little luck, most of the record ~6000 Hugo voters (or even better, most of the record ~11,000 Worldcon members!) this year will turn out and nominate and vote, which would be an absolute game-changer for the awards, their legitimacy, and their relevance. It could be a renaissance for the Hugos, in point of fact, and the deliciousness of that emerging out of attempts to co-opt or destroy the awards is indescribable.

There's my preference right there: If you love science fiction and fantasy and you have the money for a supporting membership, or if you already signed on in 2015, please please please if you read something you like, nominate it. You don't have to nominate in all categories. You don't have to read everything published. The nomination process is specifically designed to create a consensus out of the partial knowledge of many people, and the more people who participate, even with partial knowledge, the better it works.

And once you've nominated something, tell your friends you liked it. I have absolutely no problem with Hugo rec lists, Hugo "Here's my ballot" posts, or even Hugo "Here's what I have eligible this year" posts. Those are not slates, and they don't concern me in the slightest, because they do not act to spoil and thwart the process in the way that slates do.

There are two things I am concerned about. One is other concerned groups in fandom mustering and voting their own slates, in direct competition with the Sad and Rabid Puppy slates. (Assuming there is going to be a Rabid Puppy slate next year, rather than just an attempt to block vote No Award on every category, as threatened. Based on the existing evidence, the Rabid Puppies and internal consistency are not exactly chocolate and peanut butter.)

I think this is a terrible idea, for exactly the same reasons I think the Sad Puppy and Rabid Puppy slates are a terrible idea, and I cannot support it.

The other is the concept of punitive slating. I have talked with a lot of the Sad Puppy voters, and I really believe that many of them were acting in good faith and voting for work they really liked. I don't believe they'd go in for this.

The Rabid Puppies, though, are self-declared reavers out to wreck the Hugos for everybody. I think their organizer Vox Day has made himself a laughingstock, personally—he's been pitching ill-thought-out tantrums in SFF since before 2004, and all he ever brings is noise. But he and his partisans seem to be too ego-invested to admit they're making fools of themselves, so they'll never quit.

So it's totally possible that the Rabid Puppy organizers and voters, in the spirit of burning it all down, would nominate a slate consisting of the sort of vocal anti-slate partisans who could conceivably swing legitimate Hugo nominations on fan support, having a track record of the same.

I'm talking about people such as our good host Charlie Stross, John Scalzi, George R.R. Martin, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and myself. Or just, you know, people they hate—the categories overlap. The goal here would be to then attempt to either force us to withdraw or refuse nominations to prove our lack of hypocrisy, or for fandom to again No Award the whole process. This is the Human Shield option, which—in a slightly different application—is what led to the inclusion on the Rabid Puppy slate of uninvolved parties such as Marko Kloos, Annie Bellet, Black Gate, Jim Minz, and so on in 2015.

This possibility concerns me a bit more, but honestly, I think it's pretty easy to manage. First of all, I'm going to state up front that I will never willingly participate in a slate. If I learn that I have been included on a slate, I will ask to be removed, and I will bring as much force to bear on that issue as I legally can.

Additionally, I'm going to rely on the discretion of readers and fans of goodwill, who I think are pretty smart people. If you see my name on a slate, please assume that it's being done by ruiners to punish me, and that whoever put it there has ignored my requests to remove it. I have nothing but contempt for that kind of behavior, and I'm frankly not going to do anything to please them at all.

My colleagues, of course, are free to deal with the situation as they see fit, up to and including refusing nominations. As for me, well—while I reserve the right to turn down an award nomination at my discretion, I'm not about to be forced into it by the action of trolls and reavers. I expect my readers to be able to make up their own minds about my work, and decide for themselves if it's worthy of an award or not, and vote accordingly in a fair and sportsfanlike fashion.

I expect Charlie's fans—that would be you guys, reading this on his website—can manage to do the same.

170 Comments

1:

Charlie here:

I am in the same boat as Elizabeth and, for the record, if I find myself on a slate I plan to withdraw my nomination.

Because I've already got three Hugos and while I'd like more, I'd prefer to win them fair and square. Slate nominations in the Hugo awards are dishonest, period.

2:

I can foresee how a spoiler-slate still doesn't produce enough nominations to actually make a difference: if there are 20 slate-votes and the difference between nomination and not-nomination is more than 20 votes, does it matter?

But they can be putting people on their slate just to provoke the no-thanks response.

All the evidence is that the Puppies wouldn't know good writing if it bit them on the ass. This coming year I can't see any choice but walking, and then backing the rules-change for 2017.

I still have a tiny amount of sympathy for the Sad Puppies, but if they carry on that will vanish.

3:

Pre-announcing what you would do gives them the option of screwing with things. Since they have to announce their slate in plenty of time, you have no need to do anything until you know what they are doing. Or to use one of this blog's strange attractors, you can easily be inside their OODA loop.

4:

Do the Hugo rules prohibit publication of the nomination totals at the time the nominations are announced?

If not, then publishing the numbers will show whether any "spoiler slate" had any effect on the actual nominations, and will save potential spoiler victims from having to withdraw if they had enough votes to make the ballot anyway.

5:

"Vox Day has made himself a laughingstock"

Yes, and unfortunately Donald Trump has recently given fresh hope to all the laughingstocks of the world. I'm pretty sure VD will come up with something unpleasant that he'll try to shove down everyone's throats next year.

Thanks for the post, good to know where things stand.

6:

How soon until we can get/pay 2016 memberships?

7:

I think I'm relatively safe.

There has been much howling among confused puppies to the effect "I paid $40 for my vote and WE GOT THIS??!??!!!ELEVENTY!!!" -- they didn't seem to understand that "no award" was always an option on the Hugo ballot, or that gaming the nominations was no guarantee of success at the ballot box.

This year's crop of $40 griefers are, I think, much less likely to stump up the cash to be disappointed two years running. The puppies may have a hard core of supporters who're willing to put $40 in the slot machine repeatedly, and they may find some new recruits with money to burn, but I suspect a lot of their first-time supporters will be thinking "once burned, twice shy".

But in any event, my 2015 novel is pretty unlikely to get on the ballot (book 6 of an ongoing series, also goes out of its way to seriously annoy a specific subset of male readers), and my two short story sales of the year are to relatively obscure outlets (a small press Canadian-only anthology and the MIT Technology Journal). So I'm not really expecting to be nominated in 2016 anyway.

8:

The nomination totals are published after the awards are granted, to prevent them inducing bias among the voters.

But there's no need to publish them early. A slate can't gain traction unless it's published widely enough to gather hundreds of supporters. So there'll be plenty of warning.

9:

If you were an attending/supporting member of Sasquan you can nominate in 2016.

if you want a supporting/attending membership of 2016's worldcon you can get one right now.

10:

Just curious as to mechanism, but does "the slate" have to be public knowledge? Does its existence even have to be known at all?

11:

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14:

If none of the puppies can see the slate, they can't vote for it. So it has to be published somewhere, in front of an audience of hundreds -- at least: because not everyone will jump through the registration hoops and pay $40 for their ticket to nominate.

Even if there's a super-secret mailing list somewhere, the slate's going to leak. if nothing else, someone will decide to grief the griefers by manufacturing a sock-puppet ID so they can sign up.

But most of this stuff is happening out in public, in comments on the blogs of folks like Sarah Hoyt.

15:

In which case, my leaky super secret mailing list would hold The Slate and multiple other fake slates would be "leaked" as well.
In fact, I always wondered why Hollywood never flooded the torrents with bad and incomplete copies to hide the real thing from casual downloaders. Similar idea.

16:

I'm going to be lazy and repost something I already posted on file770, because this is too on the nose not to (and honestly, I haven't enough time to totally rewrite it, when all I want to say is the same thing anyway). I'm going to preface it by saying I bought my 2016 midamericaon supporting membership last week and I'm keeping a reading diary for my nominations, and I hope everyone else is doing the same...

http://file770.com/?p=24620&cpage=3#comment-331069

Essentially, the weak point in any Hugo slate strategy is nominees’ willingness to be on slates without protest. If they feel a strong incentive to disavow slate backing, then slate organisers will have a shortage of credible candidates.

Alternatively, ratify EPH and fix the bug in the nominations system that is being exploited. After that, the slates can’t dominate anymore. They’re still toxic — and counter-slates are just slates too so they’re part of the precipitate — but at least their effect is limited to the size of their voting pool, and if 20% of the voters can control only 20% of the result, then it comes down to whether there are more fans on one side than the other.

This whole idea of punishing authors who either accept a slate nomination or worse yet, letting slate compilers punish authors by slating them and thereby trying to force authors into withdrawing good work from nomination (which is a way of gaming the system even after EPH is passed, by the way)… well that whole idea needs to die.

And to just expand on that for a minute:

it’s my impression from seeing conversations on the VD and MGC blogs that this tactic is indeed under consideration–putting people on their slates who they know don’t want to be there and refusing to take them off when asked. Both VD and Sarah Hoyt have also stated they will not seek anyone’s permission to slate them.

The only “purpose” I can see slating and nominating people who don’t want to be on their slates that is that it pursues VD’s passion for pointless disruption. If the Sads go that way, it’ll win them a reputation for not caring about anything but pointless disruption, too.

If Beale is really as motivated as people think by seeking revenge for being kicked out of the SFWA then it’s not just pointless disruption, it’s an attempt to destroy the Hugo awards in the long term purely as an act of personal revenge – not against the SFWA but the specific people in it that he doesn’t like and who laud the Hugo as the acme of the awards in their professional field — and it’s quite probable that it would succeed.

Consider: SP1-3 and all the rest introduce and push slates to the fore and it gets horribly obvious that unchecked, slates will prompt counterslates, and then we’ve lost the individual anarchism that was the Hugo process. This doesn’t end the Hugos, but it does create the Fan-v-Fan slates and that will, inevitably in the long run because People, turn into not Puppies-v-non-Puppies, but fifty factions versus each other, and then slates become the norm, the accepted tradition and then people start thinking of slates as sports teams and they come to cherish them and they become permanent.

Here’s the thing though – the value of the Hugos is not in the awards or the accolades, fun as they are. The value isn’t the idea of the thing either. The value is that several thousand people who have more spare time and eyes collectively than some causal SF fan like me come together through the nomination process to shortlist the best books of the year. The process condenses thousands of choices down to the top five. It’s like a metre-wide telescope mirror gathering light to a sensor five millimetres across.

We – casual SF fans – who have fulltime jobs and young familes and mortgages and bills, read the Hugo nomination lists as a suggested reading list and buy those books. We just don’t have time to read every new book that comes out. I get 20 minutes on the train to read five days a week, if I’m lucky, and whatever few minutes I get where the king goes alone on the weekends (apologies if that’s TMI but I’m trying to explain how truly limited the time available is). Hell, even reading here is a luxury that I really shouldn’t be affording myself.

So if you go down the path of competing slates, the Hugos now gather the choices of a dozen or two people. That’s a reduction in value of two or three orders of magnitude depending on how many slates you get.

But that’s a bit long-term. There’s also nasty stuff in the medium term.

Even if EPH comes in and the slates can’t take over the nominations completely, if Beale can get enough people in general to regard slates negatively enough that they vote on the basis of slate rather than merit, then he will have a far more readily gamed system from which to extract another form of veto over the Hugos process and will have reduced their value even further.

You can’t win in such a situation by engaging in the “which slate should win” argument or worrying about why anyone would be voting for a particular work or where their nomination came from. You can’t because the status quo is the target and, obvious and understood and fixable bugs aside, changing it is the goal. And I don’t mean that in the sense of “oh, trolls do this just for the reaction” because we all know that. I mean that the obvious and natural reactions are something being purposefully sought for a specific reason.

Waaaay too TL;DR: If you want to Hugos to survive in the long term, you cannot accept any stigma being attached to being on a slate. EPH has to be ratified to patch the exploit in the nominations process and then we all have to completely ignore the slates.

Because the alternative is that Beale actually does win.

Meanwhile, like I said, I plan to help by reading a lot, nominating what I think is best, voting on merit in 2016, and maybe help the EPH folks with some code because hey, apparently some people who do IT are also SF geeks, which is like, totes new to me, y'know?

17:

The slate idea is how political parties came into existence and which now dominate all of "democratic" politics. The Hugos might go that route.

18:

Ugh, the formatting on that came out all wrong, sorry :(

19:

Point of record: How I chose what to vote for in the Hugos:

I applied two rules.

Firstly: if a work appeared on a slate, do not vote for it at all. My lowest-ranked vote in each category then went to "no award". If all items in a category were slate items, I voted "no award" in first place.

Secondly: vote for non-slate items on order of merit above "no award", except that in categories with a slate/non-slate mix where I was not qualified to vote (not my media of choice -- e.g. film/TV) I would randomize the non-slate items and put them above "no award" (to add "noise" at the expense of the slates).

Important point: there is nothing in this about authors -- it's all about the works appearing on a slate. If an author whose work appeared on a slate in 2015 gets a different work on the ballot in 2016 without benefit of being on a slate, then by definition they're there honestly and I won't hold 2015 against them.

In short, I applied the tit-for-tat strategy from the iterated Prisoner's Dilemma to the question of slate nominations.

20:
The slate idea is how political parties came into existence and which now dominate all of "democratic" politics. The Hugos might go that route.

And then it would lose all of its value to casual SF readers as it drops from thousands of pairs of eyes reviewing and picking books to a dozen or so.

21:

Mark: the Hugos are a beauty contest, not an election.

(Think about what we're voting on here.)

22:

Charlie: What do you do if a good work is put on (say) Vox Day's slate for 2016 against the author's express wishes, but that author doesn't actually formally withdraw their work from submission with WSFS?

23:
Mark: the Hugos are a beauty contest, not an election.
Er, the comments say you were replying to Dirk there, not me, but just in case you were:

A beauty contest that has a thousand people picking entrants is better than one where two or three people pick entrants.

Can I go brush my teeth now? Arguing that there's such a thing as a good beauty contest is... unpleasant.

Also, in the election analogy, the same principle holds; it's like comparing swiss-style direct democracy with UK/IRL-style representative democracy. You can get more granularity from thousands of people able to put forward their own policies for a vote than you get from two or three parties putting forward theirs. And the more granularity, the better the odds of a good fit of policy to problem.

24:

I'm not saying "should" go that way. However, the analogy with the political party system exists, and how to return politics to single issues judged on their merits (or people, in a representative democracy) is a very similar problem.

25:

Well, it is a beauty contest, but it also has the reputation of helping authors get better contracts, if not necessarily better sales.

The annoying part is when relatively well-off people like VD mess with the system, they're also (in)directly messing with the paychecks of authors.

That's the frustrating fallout from this whole thing. You want the authors you like to do well enough to keep writing, and slating just makes it that much harder, at least IMHO.

26:

Hint: when you are nominated for a Hugo, the committee tell you in confidence a week beforehand and give you the opportunity to silently decline the nomination.

If the author said they didn't want to be on the slate but don't withdraw from nomination at that point then they're trying to have their cake and eat it, aren't they? They're implicitly accepting the slate nomination, just holding it at arm's reach. So I'd vote "no award".

27:

Can I go brush my teeth now? Arguing that there's such a thing as a good beauty contest is... unpleasant.

What I mean by a "beauty contest" is that (a) it doesn't matter how pretty you are right now, you can be trumped by someone else who is supermodel-beautiful at just the right time -- there's no iteration, it's not a measure of your merit as a person, it's just about the work in question right this instant -- and (b) there is no cross-correlation between works shortlisted in different (or even the same) categories: it's all about the individual work.

It's not democracy. It's a one-off vote that "work 3 in category D is prettier than work 1 in category D". And that's all. You shouldn't be voting for (or against) the author(s) of works 3 and 1.

28:

Every member of Sasquan or MidamericaCon can nominate, and there are a lot of Sasquan members.

Anybody who voted in the 2014 site selection is already a MidAmericaCon member and can votein the Hugos next year. The current membership list can be downloaded from http://midamericon2.org/

It's interesting to see who isn't on it...

I'm not a big fan of punitive no-awarding, and go along with grrm's take, vote your taste, with the specific exception of Ted Beale, the worst man in the world.

29:

Thanks!

2016 MidAmeriCon to-do list:

1) Purchase supporter membership ... done!
2) Find/read lots and lots of new SF/F ... oh joy! Start early to stay ahead of any nominations mayhem, and to pass along any recommendations.
3) Watch for nominations dates/rules ...
4) Make sure to nominate (for a change)
5) Read/view all nominated SF/F
6) Vote!

30:

It'll be interesting to see what all this attention does to the Hugo Awards outside of the slates and "No Award" voting.
I've followed the Hugo nominations (the Best Novel and John W. Campbell Awards at least) since the 80s as a guide on which books(/authors) to look out for. Not being the convention going sort, this is the first time I've looked to get involved though. I imagine a lot of other recent supporting memberships will be the same.

31:

I haven't seem much talk of it, but I wonder if we might see a proliferation of slates. After all, anyone with a blog and a decent audience can simply post a slate of works they think should be nominated and suggest their readers nominate them too.

So what happens if instead of 2 Puppy slates we have 8 or 9 from all over the ideological spectrum? (Such as specifically anti-Puppy slates)

32:

Ted Beale, the worst man in the world

I take it you've missed the odious John C. Wright? (Who just knows the Pope would be on his side if only the Pope wasn't a lousy liberal reformist heretic.)

To his credit, JCW didn't organize the Rabid Puppy slate. But he's sure popular with them.

33:
It's not democracy. It's a one-off vote that "work 3 in category D is prettier than work 1 in category D". And that's all. You shouldn't be voting for (or against) the author(s) of works 3 and 1.

Cool, but that's not what we're talking about the Hugos becoming.
What we're looking down the barrel of, is "work 3 in category D is prettier than work 1 in category D, but work 3 was on person X's slate so we're not voting for that".
That's the worry.

And the author being allowed to pull their work from nomination is good, but it doesn't stop the problem of letting slate-compilers game the system by adding in works they don't want to win to the slate, hoping that the stigma of being slate-nominated is sufficient peer pressure to have the author withdraw their work.


(Also, I'm not suggesting that we vote on authors, I'm not sure where that's coming from; the award's Best Novel, not Best Novel Writer, I had that as an axiom)

34:

If Beale were the worst man in the world we would be a lot better off than we are now.

35:

> They're implicitly accepting the slate nomination, just holding it at arm's reach. So I'd vote "no award".

Have to disagree with this; it is basically handing VD control of your vote. Which if widely followed would mean he could just list the five most obvious choices in each category, and throw the whole thing into chaos. Or just pick all competitors to the thing he actually wants to win...

A better rule, IMHO, is the Guardians of the Galaxy principle. Vote for it if you like it; feel no obligation to find out if you like it if it is only nominated due to being on a slate.

36:

I've seen a lot of suggestions on the web that counter-slates should/could/will inevitably happen.

When the possibility was floated at the Eastercon 2015 meeting on the Hugos it seemed pretty clear to me that the feeling in the room was strongly against any sort of counter-slate. I don't believe they're going to be a thing.

I don't see any reason not to vote for someone who has clearly been slated against their will. To No Award them is to give the Rabids a pocketful of vetoes.

The E Pluribus Hugo proposal passed at Sasquan by a substantial margin so seems likely to be passed in 2016 as well. If so, we should only have to deal with this mess for one more year.

37:

Even if there's a super-secret mailing list somewhere, the slate's going to leak....

It seems to me that even if there could be a leak proof list, the existence of a slate would be obvious to the organizers counting the nominations. When you are getting hundreds of identical ballots, or nearly so, it'd be safe to say someone's putting out a slate. Would the organizers make that public, or discount those ballots? And if they made it to the final ballot, the presence of unlikely, or obscure writers might be a clue to the voters.


I'd be willing to pay the $40 for the right to nominate and vote, but I don't read nearly enough--particularly new works--to have a useful opinion. The only books I read last year that were published during the year were "The Rhesus Chart" and "The Peripheral". I'd only be able to vote based on reputation, or for writers whose work I've liked in the past. So not much point for me to do it.

38:

Have to disagree with this; it is basically handing VD control of your vote. Which if widely followed would mean he could just list the five most obvious choices in each category, and throw the whole thing into chaos. Or just pick all competitors to the thing he actually wants to win...

Did you even read Bear's essay up top? Because that's exactly the issue she's addressing.

Never mind: it's a 2016-only problem. By 2017 EPH should be in the rules and we'll have to worry about wholly new zero-day attacks on the Hugos.

39:

> Because that's exactly the issue she's addressing.

Yes, which is why I am basically saying her solution is the preferred one. If you disagree, and think it is wrong, you may need to explain your reasoning a bit better...

40:

Did you even read the first comment under the original essay up top? The one by me, saying what I'd do?

41:

"And I'm not particularly concerned by a repeat performance of an all-slate ballot, because I suspect that it'll be hard for the people who failed to push a slate winner through in 2015 to muster a lot of interest from the people they recruited this year to drop an additional $40 to vote next year. “

More importantly, they’ll have a harder time getting nominees to accept the poisoned chalice next time around.

42:

Charlie and I differ slightly on our response strategies. This year, I went with a blanket no-award vote for slated works, and I made that public.

In the future, I'm going to tune that response, because of the "Human Shield" option a lot of us see developing. If a work is slated, and the creator makes a convincing case that the slating was against their will, I'm going to judge it as I would any non-slated work.

Only willing participation in bloc voting, in other words, is going to earn automatic dismissal.

Charlie, as he's said above, is going to continue with the targeted nuclear option (the full nuclear would be to invalidate the whole slate through No Award and wait for the Retro-Hugos to fix it.), and additionally he's going to withdraw if nominated after being placed on a slate. (Of course, there's a *very* effective protest vote option for Hugo nominators in the case of a favorite author being slated against their will. Assuming that the slated work is not the best thing that author had out the previous year, just vote to nominate the best thing instead. No moral gray area there, at all.)

I'm announcing this strategy in part as a deterrent, honestly. Because it's a flexible strategy, it becomes more difficult to game than if I state a zero-tolerance for slating.

I'm adjusting my strategy, in other words, to account for changing positions of play and levels of information. The outcome of maximum utility for me is the death of slate voting and a return to the nomination by plurality of voices that has been the foundation of the Hugos for over fifty years.

43:

Hey James--

Actually, voters like you are *exactly* the people the current Hugo nomination system is designed to accommodate. I would have *loved* to see the Gibson book on this year's ballot. It was excellent work, perhaps his best to date. (I haven't read your book yet, Charlie. *ducks head in shame*)

I nominated it.

You don't have to read widely to be an effective nominator. You just have to have found one or two things you really, really liked. There are categories I don't touch, every year--I have no idea who the Best Fan Artist is. But I usually have a strong opinion about Best Novel.

The Hugo nomination process works not because one individual reads widely, but because *fandom* reads widely.

44:

The best strategy for fandom, as I see it, is to bicker unendingly about the right strategy until the Sad and Rabid Puppies actually announce their slates. And then bicker ceaselessly about voting strategies until the votes close. The worst thing would be to commit en masse to any strategy in full view of the Puppies before they commit themselves. They aren't the brightest strategists in the world — Beale's enormously inflated opinion of his intellect notwithstanding — but even they can read public blogs well enough to plan one move ahead. Best to keep them confused.

Alternatively, let the "leaders" of our community — Charlie, Elizabeth, George, Patrick&Teresa, etc — voice their strategies early, the Puppies commit to opposing whatever they see as the consensus there, and then we rank and file fans go our own way in response to that. Which is probably what's going to happen anyway.

When we see what the Pups have come up with, that's the proper time to settle on our response.

45:

> If the author said they didn't want to be on the slate but don't withdraw from nomination at that point then they're trying to have their cake and eat it, aren't they? They're implicitly accepting the slate nomination, just holding it at arm's reach. So I'd vote "no award".

Ah.

Suppose the pups slate books by successful new writers *that would be nominated anyway*?

I don't think it's fair to ask a new writer to decline a nomination that they probably got legitimately just because some asshat decided to slate it. Better to judge the book on its merits.

I think it's also handing a lot of career-spoiling power out to the pups.

46:

Suppose the pups slate books by successful new writers *that would be nominated anyway*?

Look into Annie Bellet and Marko Kloos. Also GRRM's Alfie awards, and who he gave them to.

(They gained a lot of goodwill and attention among the Hugo voters by declining the puppy nominations; I expect to see them shortlisted in future slate-free years.)

47:

There's one novel, published a couple of days ago, which I shall nominate. The author had a long and very successful career, and there's a story of him refusing a Hugo nomination because he was so commercially successful he didn't need it.

But this year, unless I come across five better novels, that novel is going on my list. It will be my minimum standard.

I'll be completely gobsmacked if any Puppy nominee can write better.

I've other thoughts on nomination, but no fan can go far wrong if he nominates the best works he has seen. And it's not impossible that it turns out the be something the Puppies will like.

It'll probably involve flying pigs, but look at what Hayao Miyazaki did with that idea.

48:

It's nice what GRRM did, and that Bellet and Kloos got some publicity for their decisions.

However, you can't put Alfie Award on a book jacket.

Sometimes people's lives and careers intersect to create fleeting windows of opportunity. "It'll be fixed the year after next" is small consolation if THIS was your year and now you need to go back to your day job.

49:

M Harold Page,

This is exactly why I've adopted a shift in policy, and why I'm making my strategy public. Tit-for-tat (which is what Charlie is doing) and modified or generous tit-for-tat (which is what I'm doing, except it's a little more complicated than that because there are innocent bystanders suffering collateral damage--both by being pushed off the ballot, or placed on the ballot via a slate and having to either suffer the humiliation of a No Award or the personal anguish of making the decision to decline the nomination or withdraw from the ballot.).

Both tactics actually work better if the other guy knows your strategy.

It's like having fair parents, who will always respond to a given behavior with praise or punishment. You know exactly what you're going to get if you behave in certain ways.

This year, the World Science Fiction Society membership were taken by surprise. This year, the larger body of Hugo voters adopted a reactive strategy, and fought to a draw in five categories--the No Award sweep--by deploying a hard tit-for-tat strategy.

Next year, the WSFS community knows they're coming, and can have a set of responses ready if needed. Looking forward to next year, I'd like to see proactive measures taken to reduce or ameliorate the impact of slate nominations on the ballot. I expect that in the aftermath of this year, very few potential nominees who are not politically motivated will see much advantage to joining a slate. I expect that given the nominating power of the ~6000 current Hugo voters, the influence of the Rabid Puppies will be much diminished.So none of this may have much utility at all, honestly.

But in case it does, it's good to have a plan.

This year, when the WSFS woke up to the slate problem, it was already a zero sum game: either the RPs won Hugos through unethical means, or they didn't. Next year doesn't have to be a zero sum game, and by walking back zero tolerance policies to account for the presence of innocent "human shields," I think we open up new areas for discourse and middle paths.

I'd very much like to see early-career potential nominees such as Annie Bellet (who just might have made the ballot even without the influence of the slate), Max Gladstone (who was pushed off the ballot by the slate), Alyssa Wong, (ditto), and Eugie Foster (ditto) to have an opportunity at a Hugo nomination.

People such as those are more vulnerable as human shields than Charlie, John, or myself. If they're doing good work and repudiate slating practices, I'm certainly not going to blame them if somebody puts them on a slate against their will.

The Hugo nominating process is not meant to be a zero sum game, and I'm not going to play it as if it is one.

Charlie's strategy is also a solid one, and one I considered adopting--but I think the case-by-case decision is a little less vulnerable to RP manipulation.

50:

I'll consider amending my policy according to specific circumstances, on a case-by-case basis.

But in broad outline, that's it.

However, I have a gut feel for just how hard it must be to be put in a position where the ethical thing to do is to turn down a Hugo nom. And I'm certainly not going to hold grudges over this ...

... Except against the slate organizers, who ought to know better, and VD in particular, who is basically a vengeful griefer.

51:

Thanks, I'll definitely give it some thought, especially if I'm able to stick with my intended reading for the next few months. Namely "Karen Memory" (finally!) and de Bodard's latest, and trying to pay more attention to shorter work (probably by listening to podcasts rather than reading, whatever works). But I'm a slow reader, and there are categories I don't particularly follow, like movies and comics.

52:

There's one novel, published a couple of days ago, which I shall nominate...

Now I'm wondering how many posthumous Hugos have been awarded. Off to ask Rav Google.

53:

I'd propose a more restrictive use of No Award; think of it as a tactical nuke rather than a strategic one. It's based on the principle that the harm done by slates is not that it gets underserving work on the ballot, but it keeps everything else off.

Only use an automatic No Award if a slate takes three or more (i.e. more than half) of the slots in a category. Otherwise judge all works on merit.

Of course if a slate gets one or two nominations but doesn't sweep the category, it means either the emotional infant pet carnivores are not voting in lockstep, or some of the works have wider support.

Though it's still acceptable to No Award someone because they're a terrible human being who has damaged to community regardless of the quality of their work. And that goes for Benjanun Sriduangkaew as well as Theodore Beale.

54:
However, you can't put Alfie Award on a book jacket

Sure you can. It won't mean much to most people, but then again, odds are "Hugo Award Winner" doesn't mean a whole lot, they just see "Award Winner" and think it must mean something.

The Hugo means something to people because of time, tradition, and the fact that the ~2000 attendies of WorldCon are pretty opinionated, and when they like something, they tend to tell other people about it.

55:
given the nominating power of the ~6000 current Hugo voters

I've said this elsewhere, but: one of the few good things that can come from this whole mess is spurring more eligible people to nominate.

One (but only one) of the reasons the slates were so strongly trounced this year was because the puppies had realized they could game the system to silence the vox populi: very few people nominate, and the ones who do tend to be the ones with the strongest feelings about the works or culture. The puppies' slates, however, took advantage of the normally small number of nominators to drown them out. The much larger voting populace, on learning of this, reacted with completely predictable anger.

The absolute easiest way to prevent that is for all eligible people to nominate. (There were at least 8,000 members at sasquan? And the puppies were less than 10% of that?) If everyone who is eligible nominates, it's going to be a lot harder for a slate to take hold.

So, big lesson here: if you're eligible, nominate.

56:

Well, Google wasn't help much. Apparently a few have been given posthumously (Leigh Brackett for "The Empire Strikes Back" screenplay, for one), but didn't find a specific list.

57:

I'd very much like to see early-career potential nominees such as Annie Bellet (who just might have made the ballot even without the influence of the slate), Max Gladstone (who was pushed off the ballot by the slate), Alyssa Wong, (ditto), and Eugie Foster (ditto) to have an opportunity at a Hugo nomination
But one of those will never have the chance again...

58:

A large variety of (counter-)strategies would actually be useful. The Sad Puppies, being a loose grouping with low voter discipline (or, more politely, a group who contain a large variety of opinions), are unlikely to be able to construct a viable slate aimed at various declared (counter-)strategies.

Our friend Vox Day, being a transcendental genius who plays five dimensional chess [citation needed], will defeat any plan mere mortals can come up with, so we might as well do whatever we think best. A scattered set of interlocking proposed tactics will at least make his giant brain do some work to create his inevitable victory.

59:

Yeah, I know. That makes me very, very sad.

60:

In another part of the forest, Gamergate has surfaced in the mainstream print media & is making waves.
Also Vox Day has made himself a laughingstock ...
Really? See also the comments on the Trumpie, elsewhere in here.
Theodore Beale is dangerous, as is the Trump - there are far too many religious believers out there, swallowing all of this sort of shit ( & considerably worse, such as Da'esh )
They are emphatically not funny, & need to be taken seriously, though the best way to deal with them ( unless & until they take up direct action )is admittedly mockery & disbelief.

61:
A large variety of (counter-)strategies would actually be useful. The Sad Puppies, being a loose grouping with low voter discipline (or, more politely, a group who contain a large variety of opinions), are unlikely to be able to construct a viable slate aimed at various declared (counter-)strategies.

Alternative getting through to them (or at least some of them) that actually playing fair is the best strategy. Based on this year's results they've probably got the raw numbers to get some of their preferred kind of SF on the ballot without resorting to gaming the system.

62:

Minor correction: MACII costs $50 for a supporting membership. And I know some SF readers sign up just to get the Hugo packet.

63:

Once again: there is no guarantee that Hugo eligible works will be distributed in the Voter's Packet. It's a freebie, originally introduced by John Scalzi, and entirely voluntary on the part of the publishers/creators. Note that it's not paid-for!

64:

Tim Hall @ 4:

Do the Hugo rules prohibit publication of the nomination totals at the time the nominations are announced?

They do not, and certainly that would be extremely useful. However (and you knew the 'however' was coming, didn't you?), Hugo Adminstrators and WSFS officials generally have extreme reluctance to do something unprecedented if doing so appears to even arguably convey advantage to one side of a fannish dispute. There is a long tradition of Caesar's wife levels of strenuous neutrality.

I see the estimable Mark Dennehy @ 16 has already cross-referenced the related discussion at File770, and in a sense all of this 'concept of punitive slating' harks back to a subthread I launched (April 7th) on my wife Deirdre's soon-to-be-famous blog item 'Puppy-Free Hugo Award Voter’s Guide', the day after Dysprosium closed and we'd had the very first convention panel there (two nights before, IIRC) to discuss the just-announced nomination slate. Attempting to boil it down, the idea was: We have a one-year unpatched vulnerability with canned exploits in the wild, before the MidAmeriConII Business Meeting can amend the nominations procedure and end the problem. Worst case, we'd see a re-run of 2015. However, knowledge of 2015 makes a difference, just as knowing your plane being hijacked no longer just means you're necessarily just getting a free visit to Havana makes a difference.

My suggestion was not to pressure slate-endorse authors and editors to withdraw, but rather to politely ensure that they are aware of the slate endorsement and have a chance to (believably) repudiate said endorsement and (believably) ask deletion from it. Slates that can include credible nominees only by disregarding their removal demands have little strength for a number of reasons (i.e., having no programme other than a devotion to confuse people and a covering patter about Xanatos masterdom isn't exactly a ringing cry for action).

Somehow, this kept being repeated by people since April as 'the Moens' (and FYI, my wife Deirdre's surname is actually 'Saoirse Moen'; as she remarked to the similarly named PNH, it's a surname with a non-breaking space in it) as, paraphrasing, 'the Moens spearheaded a campaign to blindly No Award all slate-endorsed nominees'. E.g., GRRM has said this several times.

Nobody said blindly; I actually was suggesting a possible good use of better information and communication in 2016 to -- politely, please -- deter nominees from willingly cooperating with slating, making sure they are timely informed of the slates and tactfully reminded of the probable consequence of failing to (believably) disavow the endorsement and request removal. Unlike the case in 2015, in 2016 it'll be easy to make the case that an unrepudiated slate endorsement is the kiss of death, and it'll be far more difficult to carry along innocent authors like Kary English and Jim Butcher to crushing final-voting defeats, let alone unrelated bystanders like Elizabeth Bear and Charles Stross.

I'm not sure this sort of intelligently nuanced deterrence voting is the best approach for 2016. It was just a tactic I was leaning towards on the day after Dysprosium, and fortunately there is plenty of time to consider the matter.

FWIW, on my own eventual final ballot, I could not bring myself to put all Puppy-endorsed nominees below No Award, but it also turned out that the result of reading substantively all nominated works and then voting on perceived merit differed from doing so only in some details.

Rick Moen
rick@linuxmafia.com

65:

Actually the first Hugo "voter's packet" was released back in 1993, a CD-ROM produced by Brad Templeton. The CD included that year's Nebula nominees too along with artwork, fan writing etc. I used to have a copy, loaned it to someone and never saw it again...

66:

Since the nomination process is so important but often neglected (I'm certainly guilty of hardly nominating in the past), and in hopes of a space to hear fans talk about what they love, I'm trying to get a "Hugo Recommendation Season" going. Still figuring out details, but probably starting in October, having a week dedicated to each category encouraging people to post blogs, Facebook, whatevers about what works they loved in each category.

Just starting to spread the word and get the details together here: https://hugorecommend.wordpress.com/ But if nothing else, *I* want to hear people tell me why certain stories/editors/artists/zines/etc. are great and deserve nominations.

67:
they've probably got the raw numbers to get some of their preferred kind of SF on the ballot without resorting to gaming the system

That's where the gaming part comes from: there was active effort on the part of both puppy groups to convince and cajole people to sign up to nominate who never had any intention of doing so previously (e.g., GG). This meant that a fair number of the nominations were (to use a metaphor) drive-by nominations, by people who had not previously been, and had no intentions of being in the future, part of the "society."

68:

As a Sad Puppy sympathizer (I can't call myself a supporter because I could not afford to shell out 40USD to buy a Hugo Supporting Membership), let me ask this:

What is the difference between "Hugo rec lists" (which are okay) and a slate? I followed some of Sad Puppies blogs and that was how I remember the Sad Puppies "slate" being presented—as a list of recommendations. Does a "Hugo rec list" become a slate when there is a group of people behind it versus one person? Or does it become a slate when there are more than a certain number of nominees in a category?

In other words, what are the unofficial rules that the Sad Puppies could follow and participate in the process in a way that would be seen as legitimate by most voters?

69:

Hey, J. Carl--

To me, it becomes a slate at the moment when the organizer or organizers start urging their friends and contacts to vote for it as a bloc.

Also, when the organizers start recruiting people from outside the usual self-selected voter community to stuff the ballot box. I am against this behavior by any group of fans, of any background.

I'd personally *like* to see a representative balance of authorial backgrounds and political leanings on the Hugo ballot. I certainly read my share of books that are not by people who share my politics, and some of them are quite good.

(And there are people who I consider natural political allies whose work I'm kind of meh on, for whatever reason.)

I grew up reading Heinlein, after all. And my first trilogy has been described as being in his tradition. I have plenty of other favorites (Zelazny, for example) whose politics I have no idea about.

Fun, adventury, well-written, thoughtful fiction should always have a place at the table, as far as I'm concerned. But it's unsportsfanlike, as I said elsewhere, for one group to monopolize the conversation by crowding everybody else out.

When there's no attempt to do that, I welcome everybody to a fair race.

70:

Gamergate was not brought into the 2015 Hugos. That's a constantly repeated bit of fan folklore that is at odds with reality. I was there. I am a supporter of Gamergate and followed Sad Puppies closely. The effort to reach out to people who had not voted previously was directed at SF/Fantasy readers who had not previously voted in the Hugos or who had done so in the past and stopped.

This gets back to the core disagreement of whether the Hugos are an award given out by a small Worldcon Community or any and all of SF/Fantasy fandom who care to vote.

I do believe that some significant subset of Gamergate will likely be involved with the 2016 Hugos, however, for reasons that I outlined in a previous post.

71:

J Carl Henderson:

I don't know about others, but *I* would love to see from Sad Puppy supporters is not *A* list, but many, and most importantly WHY. It's not up to me, of course, but I think it would be great if all of the Puppy supporters all talked about what they liked and why they liked it rather than a single list of 5 recommendations per category curated by one or a few people. It would be great to have lots of opinions from all sorts of people including why they recommend them.

72:

Elizabeth Bear wrote: "Also, when the organizers start recruiting people from outside the usual self-selected voter community to stuff the ballot box. I am against this behavior by any group of fans, of any background."

That answers my question nicely.

Then I would urge the "usual self-selected voter community" to be up-front about it. Make it clear what voters are wanted by changing the Hugo rules to require physical attendance at at least one Worldcon every five years or so to purchase a supporting membership.

Describe and promote the Hugos as Worldcon's awards, not awards that "are run by and voted on by fans." And please don't solicit votes saying "voting for the awards is open to all members of the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS), and to become a member all you have to do is buy a membership in that year’s Worldcon. It is not necessary to actually attend the convention."

http://www.thehugoawards.org/hugo-faq/#What%20are%20the%20Hugo%20Awards?

The rules should reflect the reality of the Hugo process, and who is actually welcome to vote.

73:

I think that is what you will end up getting if Gamergate gets involved in 2016 because Gamergate doesn't follow directions very well! (and I have pointed that out on Sad Puppy blogs.)

74:

Ah, you misunderstand. The people who care enough to join the WSFS is exactly the group of self-selecting voters I was talking about.

Nobody creditable has ever claimed that the Hugos are given out by any organization other than the Worldcon. The WSFS membership that entitles voting and nomination is much more than paying $40 or $50 to vote; it's paying in to support a community and an organization.

I would oppose the changes you mention, because there are any number of people who do not come to Worldcons but who care enough about the process to get involved and join the WSFS. It's a community organization.

What I do not care to see is a number of people who do not care for the health of the Worldcon, the WSFS, or the Hugos, but who essentially sign up to be drive-by voters in order to push an agenda. Which is what we saw this year.

I think it's extraordinarily positive that the larger fannish community--people who *do* care about the Worldcon and the Hugo Awards as communities--saw this happening and joined up in ways they might normally find a little too inconvenient to defend a process that matters to them.

75:

Your statements do not match my recollection of reality. But I'm not going to get into an argument about it, so I suggest you do the same.

That aside: any statement that is anywhere close to the lines of "it's actually about ethics in journalism" will not be tolerated. Anyone who wants to be pro-GG, or pro-Puppies, there are other places to do it that are not here. (You want to talk about why you felt that a directed slate vote was conscionable, that's one thing. But you do that by talking about your thoughts on the matter; trying to justify any other group's existence by your feelings is a completely different matter.)

76:

Ken, yeah. You can never have too many recommendation lists. Only too few.

77:

I took a generous view when voting this year. 'No award' was top in some categories, and not in others. I tried to read, or at least skim, all works nominated, and didn't cast a vote for the Campbell's because I ran out of time to read the stories. What I do next year will depend on how it all rolls out. If any categories are 'gamed' by a RP/SP slate, or by a hypothetical opposing 'happy kitties' slate then I will reluctantly use no award again.

Regarding Elizabeth Bear's comment about some future retro Hugo for 2015, the WSFS constitution, as currently written, does not allow this.

Right now there are 11,000+ people entitled to nominate works. By the cut-off date of Jan 2016 that could be a higher if there are significant new supporting members for the 2016/2017 Worldcons. I think the thing to for now, as said by others, is to encourage the greatest number of people to note their reading over the next six months and participate in the nominations.

78:

However, you can't put Alfie Award on a book jacket.

Use more glue! It will work.

79:

Let me make sure I understand: commenters on this blog who is pro-Gamergate or pro-Sad Puppies is not allowed to discuss the beliefs or aims of those groups, nor are they allowed to respond to attacks against those groups.

Sean Eric Fagan wrote: "You want to talk about why you felt that a directed slate vote was conscionable, that's one thing. But you do that by talking about your thoughts on the matter; trying to justify any other group's existence by your feelings is a completely different matter."

It is impossible to do one without the other. To explain why, would contravene my understanding of the rules you have laid down as moderator.

I think it is a bad idea to effectively disallow comments disagreeing the positions taken in the post being discussed. However, it is Charlie Stross' blog, and as you have been appointed as a moderator there, it is your right to do so. I think you are making a mistake, but I will cease participating in any discussion of Gamergate or Sad Puppies here.

80:

"If you agree with our slate below — and we suspect you might — this is YOUR chance to make sure YOUR voice is heard.”

If the "slate below" exactly and entirely fills 3 out of the first five categories, including best novel, and almost fills the rest, it’s a slate, and to hell with it. Calling it a slate sort of gives the game away.

81:

Charlie,

I recognise that you are unlikely to have a nom worthy work in contention next year. The point is that by authors saying what they will do, and the WSFS also pre-announcing how they will behave, leaves the rabid puppies in the position of information superiority. You don't know what they will do, till they do it.

I'd also say, you are aiming at the target they put up this year, there's nothing to say they will use the same tactics again. Indeed, you should expect them to do something totally different. Maybe they would DDOS the nomination site? Or maybe SWAT the ceremony? Hell, maybe there is a way they can use the US elections to throw a spanner in the works.

When your target is just to disrupt/remove legitimacy for the awards - you have a multitude of attack vectors you could employ, many last minute.

And given that aim, I'd say they won this year.

Oh, and to Elizabeth, tit-for-tat only really works when both parties have the same ends and can win via cooperation. Rabid puppies don't have the same target, indeed part of their target is for you to lose. As a general rule of thumb; don't telegraph your moves. Or, as is usual in such contexts, the Sun Tzu quote is:

“O divine art of subtlety and secrecy! Through you we learn to be invisible, through you inaudible, and hence we can hold the enemy's fate in our hands.”
82:

Or maybe SWAT the ceremony?

Wasn't that essentially attempted? I don't remember the name, but some Sad/Rabid supporting writer apparently called the Spokane police to warn about that 'dangerous radical' David Gerrold.

83:

Good post, Bear. But a nitpicky question: you wrote:

"...drop an additional $40 to vote next year..."

But don't the people who paid $40 this year get to nominate next year for free? (http://www.thehugoawards.org/hugo-faq/#Who can nominate and vote?)

They would have to pay an additional $40 to *vote* next year, but I think they can nominate without paying anything more, and the nominating is what might lead to an all-slate ballot.

84:

...One other note while I'm here: You wrote:

'It takes a lot more individual ballots to force a "no award" than it does to get something on the ballot in the first place.'

That's true, but the No Award test (http://www.kith.org/journals/jed/2014/08/15/14938.html) does make it a little easier to stop a win than it might otherwise be. Despite my fears last year, that test has still never come into play; but if the Puppies were to focus specifically on it, it's possible that they could force a No Award win.

85:

You are sealioning. Bugger off until you stop being wilfully ignorant to waste everyone's time.

86:

JC - I know you've left the building, but for anyone else considering that requiring semi-regular attendance at Worldcons before a member can nominate or vote etc. I'd like to reply from my own experience.

I live in the UK. I have made it to two US cons in my entire life (my only trips to the US). Only one of those was a Worldcon. I have, however, bought a supporting membership simply to vote (but not lately).

For a US fan to attend a Worldcon once every five years would be inconvenient and a bit expensive (ruling out at least one section of the annoying people that Pup... no I can't say puppies, puppies are cute and like me, SPs and RPs are not as cute as puppies) but for Non-US fans? Worldcon tours, but even when it comes to the UK it tends to be a bit pricey to attend and even then because the location is decided by vote there's no certainty it will be close enough to the majority of international SFF fans for them to go enough to qualify under your proposed rules.

In my own case, I have chronic illness problems, and both times I went to the US I was ill when I got on the plane home, and had a full blown chest infection by the time I got off the other end. As I've said to friends - I probably won't be going again unless I've transformed into a writer, with panels and readings and stuff, rather than as a fan.

Not everyone who wants to feel part of the process can attend let alone attend regularly. While the problem is magnified if you live on another continent, I'm fairly certain there are US citizens who would also suffer for your rule change and so oppose it rabidly.

There is an easy and peaceful answer, though...

"This gets back to the core disagreement of whether the Hugos are an award given out by a small Worldcon Community or any and all of SF/Fantasy fandom who care to vote."

Here's the thing, if you disagree with the fact that the Hugos are what they have always been - awards given out by the small core of fans who attend and support Worldcon - go start an award that can be voted on by "any and all of SF/Fantasy fandom who care to vote" (although don't the Locus awards do that?) Instead of wasting all that money buying supporting memberships to game or destroy an established award use it to promote your own. Have a kickstarter. If you create your own award you can, as with the Nortons, the Dicks, the Triptree etc, make your own rules about voting and what qualifies. Have your own categories and your own traditions and trophies (and be prepared to smile bravely when whoever cares to vote ends up voting for the same things that win Hugos or for a paranormal romance)

If a cross-head screwdriver isn't fit for purpose you don't spend time and money buying a file and scraping away the offending metal so as to make a flat-head - you go buy another screwdriver.

Why piss in the Hugos paddling pool when you can have a pool entirely of... writers whose fans are not the kind of people who normally give money to Worldcons?

87:

Aaaand -- ooops. I probably shouldn't have hit the send button again when nothing appeared to happen the first time. Apologies. (Can the mod delete the repeat? please? pretty please with lemon sugar sprinkles?)

88:

Carl - a slate become illegitimate when it attempts to convince people to nominate or vote for works they have not themselves read. This makes VD's slate obviously illegitimate as he explicitly urges people to vote for the list exactly as presented. In the sad puppies case, Brad did include some wording to the effect that you should read the works in question and vote for them if you liked them. However, Let's consider the average voter: usually a voter has not read that many eligible, award-worthy works in a year (there's backlog, and other media, and real life). The average voter might nominate a work or two in each category, perhaps more in the case of novels. In some category, such as fanzines, editors, and such, many voters don't know and don't care. So, to help Brad and the cause of good-old-fashioned SF, you might think to yourself: what's the harm in taking some names form the SP list and adding them to yours? The result is the same. you nominate works that you personally have no opinion on.
there are other lists out there, but most of them don't make an effort to convince you to vote for them for any reason other than their intrinsic value, so there's never an incentive for a fan to nominate them without having read them first.

89:

Make it clear what voters are wanted by changing the Hugo rules to require physical attendance at at least one Worldcon every five years or so to purchase a supporting membership.

I have attended two Worldcons in 25 years.

When I walked into Loncon3 somebody recognised me some ten years after we last met.

You idea of the community is totally alien to my experience. You seem stuck in a pre-internet, pre-fanzine era. Which strikes me as bizarre for somebody with your experience of Second Life.

(And I checked some of the things you wrote about that. I know people you mentioned. You've been reasonable in this thread, but it looks increasingly like deliberate maskirovka. I have a context for what you said, all those years ago, and you seem like a potty-mouthed Potemkin village. And some of those people that annoyed you have annoyed me in Second Life.)

90:

I think you miss the point.
I'm not sure you are "sealioning", but, even if you are not, it's irrelevant.
Did you follow the link I put up about gamergate from the "Grauniad"?
if not, please do so.
It is readily apparent that both GG & the sad/rabid puppies are male-supremacist misogynists who would not not (or should not) be welcome in civilised society.
One you absorb that message, which happens to be true, you might understand why supporting their reactionary & (let's face it)"abrahamic" view of women is not a legitimate viewpoint in these discussions?
I hope that helped.

91:
but it also turned out that the result of reading substantively all nominated works and then voting on perceived merit differed from doing so only in some details.

This. Exactly this.

I'm possibly a bit odd — but I can't recall a single Hugo vote when I didn't use no award somewhere (not that I've voted every year). I use my vote in a way closer to "works I think deserves a Hugo" than ""best work on nomination lists".

After doing that it turns out I didn't really have to debate what to do with the puppy slate beyond a few edge cases.

92:

Charlie, Elizabeth,

FYI: I'm guessing that someone somewhere forwarded or linked you to this http://amazingstoriesmag.com/no-campaigns-no-slates/#comment-9944

as the language is pretty close

I've added Elizabeth and Charlie to the comments.

Anyone wishing to make this statement only needs to add themselves to the comments as well.

It's great to see this getting around! Thanks!

93:

On a different tack - is there a plausible legal way to get removed from a slate, or else extract damages for loss of earnings from a slate maker?

94:

Gamergate and the Puppies do include some deeply unpleasant reactionary individuals (for example, John C. Wright), but I'm very wary of assigning attributes of toxic individuals to entire groups, and guilt-by-association never ends well.

If you're going to start applying purity tests on who's a legitimate part of fandom, exactly where do you draw the line? And does the same apply to Benjanun Sriduangkaew and her supporters?

What happens if next year the Puppies "play by the rules" and still get one or two of their favourites on each ballot? And at least some of those nominations aren't unreadable drivel?

How much of the extreme reaction to the Puppies is down to their use of slates, and how much is down to the fact they represent the wrong political "tribe"?

95:

>> also goes out of its way to seriously annoy a specific subset of male readers)

I just discovered something about myself, my response to reading that was approximately "Oh cool, hope I'm in it". Then I took a breathe and decided I probably have to be an ass to be a member and I try not to be, so now I'm disappointed that I don't get to be picked on. I apparently have a masochistic streak.

Regarding slate votes I believe they're unhealthy but it might be worth trying a "I will act against the interest of people using slates to ruin the voting" as a public statement. This allows you to retain a flexibility of action that "I will vote against anyone on a slate" rejects to the benefit of the slate creating groups in the example suggested in the main article.

96:

So, the strategy to annoy you next year, will be that there will be a "No Award" slate. Then you will have to modify your rules to ignore that.

97:

My initial reaction is that adding lawyers is a really bad idea.

How would you prove loss of earnings? Claim that being nominated for a prestigious award is actually bad for you? Good luck explaining that to a judge/jury who haven't been following in detail.

And turn it around … all those people who publically announced that they'd be voting No Award in categories dominated by Puppy slates. That could be argued as causing loss of earnings too.

As pointed out by others, all the slates have complied with the rules set down.

98:

I'm thinking - if everybody is declaring that being on a slate will result in them NOT voting for you, and somebody then puts you on a slate, then they are deliberately attacking your earnings.

Or if the slate has a political slant, then they are slandering you perhaps?

99:

rhialto, you can't nominate "No Award". You can only vote for it.


Under the current rules, a slate wields disproportionate influence over the nomination process, but not over voting.

The threads over at Making Light in which they came up with the E Pluribus Hugo proposal would probably be very informative for you, since it starts with a careful consideration of the problem before working out solutions.

100:

I doubt this has any legs. If Charlie said "I don't want to be reviewed by the Daily Mail," and then they give him 5 stars on a best of year list he's not in a position to sue them, even if they put it right next to an article on immigration diametrically opposite to his own views.

101:

What if the Daily Mail listed a book as one of the "Top 10 Conservative SF Books with an Anti-Immigration Slant" though?

102:

Hmm. "Singularity Sky is a conservative book as it alerts us to the dangers of unchecked progress brought in from the outside. In the end the chastened leadership of both the Empire and the New Republic attempt to save the best of the past, incorporating what they consider the improvements of the new. In each case they learn the problems of an unchecked flow of foreign ideas."

Now I wouldn't defend this reading (or at least no longer than was funny or the end of the pint, whichever came first) but readers bring to the book what they bring. A few years back there was a list of favourite conservative films that emphasised somewhat different aspects than are commonly associated with them. Some of them were just going contrarian*, but I'm sure that some people on that list saw things in those films that spoke to their honestly held beliefs.

Also, what, we get the jury to read Charlie's book and ask if they think it's anti-immigration? That's sure to end well.

* I think I commented that if I were mistakenly asked to get involved I would have gone out of my way to prove that The Matrix or Sunshine, or if I felt like a challenge, Battleship Potemkin were conservative films.

103:

On a different tack - is there a plausible legal way to ... extract damages for loss of earnings from a slate maker?

I doubt it. If you were a corporation claiming damages from a (non-superpower) government you could do it under the latest trade treaties, but as an individual the burden of proof is higher :-(

OTOH, doesn't Beale live in Italy? Given that Italy has prosecuted scientists for failing to predict an earthquake, you might be able to put something together under Italian law.

It sounds like Ms. Bear is on the right track. Encourage recommended reading lists (with reviews/reasons), repudiate slates, and (as an author) publicize if you end up on a slate and aren't removed after asking.

104:

Also, what, we get the jury to read Charlie's book and ask if they think it's anti-immigration? That's sure to end well.

The Laundry series are clearly anti-immigration. After all, the protagonists spend all their time tracking and deporting/killing migrants (from other dimensions). :-)

(Tongue firmly in cheek, obviously.)

105:

Okay, folks ... I'd like to start my 2016 Hugo reading asap ... the BigRiver order won't arrive for at least another week ... and I need something to read today. There's a largish brick-and-mortar book store nearby, and they've increased the SF/F section in the past year.


So, what SF/F first published in 2015 was worth reading?

106:

Theodore Beale is dangerous, as is the Trump - there are far too many religious believers out there, swallowing all of this sort of shit ( & considerably worse, such as Da'esh )

No. Trump may be a cause for concern because he has money, a base, a large media presence, and is animating ugly forces on a wide scale. This could churn out something dangerous in a generation or 2, akin to how Pat Buchanan in the 70s generated Trump today.


Beale is just a fucking clown.

107:

Actually, Steve, I hadn't seen that before--but Charlie and I have been discussing this both online and off since very early after the nominations broke, and have made similar statements in the past--here's mine, from April 5th:

"There's a new custom circulating in my tribe, and I think it's a good one, so I will be adopting it.


I have not in the past and I will not in the future participate in any popular award voting slate, public or private. I will not vote for any story or person or institution that is nominated for a popular award after agreeing to be on such a slate.

I believe that slate-voting is unethical and perverts the purpose of the awards--and disadvantages almost everyone, quite frankly--and I am personally invested in making sure my fandom does not decay into a series of cage matches.

That is the ethical decision I am making for myself."

I'm glad to see the pledge, as it were, getting traction everywhere.

108:

The first rule for jousting with fuckwits is the meta-rule: all rules can be rewritten as necessary to avoid rules-lawyering gambits.

109:

And turn it around … all those people who publically announced that they'd be voting No Award in categories dominated by Puppy slates. That could be argued as causing loss of earnings too.

Except that the only damn award to make a blind bit of difference to earnings is the Hugo for best novel -- none of the others are worth a warm bucket of spit. And the best novel Hugo is where the slates are least efficient, because a lot of people nominate in that category. Also, proving loss of earnings? First you'd have to stump up sales figures for public scrutiny, then do a before/after comparison controlling for other influences. It ain't gonna fly. Have fun paying your lawyer's fees, though.

110:

The Laundry series are clearly anti-immigration. After all, the protagonists spend all their time tracking and deporting/killing migrants (from other dimensions). :-)

You haven't read books 7 and 8 yet ;-)

(Hint: book 8 opens with Bob being grilled by J*r*my P*xm*n on Newsnight on the sensitive topic of asylum seekers ...)

111:

Gamergate and the Puppies do include some deeply unpleasant reactionary individuals (for example, John C. Wright), but I'm very wary of assigning attributes of toxic individuals to entire groups, and guilt-by-association never ends well.

I think this is one of those cases where the case for behavior in the general and behavior in the specific break down.

In general, I agree with your point here, of not painting with a broad brush simply because of a general affiliation. Groups are big tent, particularly in the social media age, and one can be part of one wing while not caring for the others.

In the specific though, the criminal mischief and psychotic behavior of gamergate and the puppies has been widely reported. This isn't just "thoughts and ideas", this is concrete attempts on the lives of innocent people because they had the temerity to disagree over a piece of consumer media. At this point when it is clear that the group is motivated by trying to cause at a minimum the end of the career of people and the actual target is deaths, then people willingly affiliating themselves with that is absolutely cause for assigning guilt for associating with it. If not conspiracy to commit charges if they ever succeed in their aims.

112:

So, what SF/F first published in 2015 was worth reading?

Here's a little list of stuff I've read this year and picked out for consideration:

"Karen Memory" by Elizabeth Bear. (Because it's steampunk done right.)

"Sorcerer to the Crown" by Zen Cho. (Sort of like "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell" only shorter and much, much funnier.)

"A Succession of Bad Days" by Graydon Saunders. (Because he's reinventing and totally subverting magic school/high fantasy and doing really weird things to it by asking questions like: "what would the ecosystem look like after 0.25MYa of wizards and dark lords inventing magiccally enhanced species to do their bidding? And how would ordinary folks survive in it?" -- While also taking a pickaxe handle to the usual hagiographic treatment of bloody-handed conquerors.)

...

On the graphic novel front: "The Wicked + The Divine" deserves a strong look-in. It's keeping my attention focussed where Saga seems to have drifted off ...

113:

xcept that the only damn award to make a blind bit of difference to earnings is the Hugo for best novel -- none of the others are worth a warm bucket of spit.

Is even that the case? Eric Flint stated otherwise in some of his essays on this, that any Hugo award appears to have a negligible if any impact on sales figures or future contracts. I assumed he was making the argument from data, though he didn't substantiate it in the post (since it was off topic)

114:

I'm interested in the answer to this question too. I've read very little 2015 SF yet this year (I have a pile started now, though!). (I was on an award jury that lasted until Spring, and I got seriously burned out on SF and turned to mysteries for solace. Trying to catch up now.)

Max Gladstone has a new book out--LAST FIRST SNOW--and his stuff is great. It's mid-series, which makes it tricky for a Hugo nom, though. Aliette de Bodard has a book coming out that I'm super excited about--HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS--but of course I haven't read it yet.

I did finish Zen Cho's SORCERER TO THE CROWN, which is a very good first novel. Another very good first novel coming out is Fran Wilde's UPDRAFT, which is out on Tuesday. Sadly, I think neither of them is eligible for the Campbell due to short fiction sales, and neither is *quite* a Hugo contender. However, I'd be happy to see both books on the Locus Best First Novel list, if we can widen the award remit for a moment.

UPDRAFT is science fiction dressed as fantasy; SORCERER is fantasy dressed as screwball comedy.

Ken Liu's GRACE OF KINGS is very good, but like much epic fantasy, and it takes a while to get going.

I'm in the middle of Seth Dickinson's first book, THE TRAITOR BARU CORMORANT. It's a political fantasy, very good so far, and I know it's going to end in tears because I got spoiled.

I'm also reading Yoon Ha Lee's NINEFOX GAMBIT, which I think doesn't come out until 2016. It's good: a little of Yoon's trademark space opera opacity, some very clever military science fiction hacks. First novel, and again Yoon's not to the best of my knowledge Campbell eligible because of short fiction. But, see above, Locus Awards. :)

And I'm reading Fonda Lee's ZEROBOXER, which is an SF YA that's pretty delightful. Also a first novel. Fonda, I think, *is* eligible for the Campbell. I'm likely to nominate her, along with Dickinson.

I guess I feel naked if I'm not reading a book for every finger....

115:

So, what SF/F first published in 2015 was worth reading?

So filtering what I've read this year for SF/F, good and published this year:
Books two and three of The Great Way trilogy by Harry Connolly.
Something Coming Through, Paul McAuley
Touch, Claire North
The Annihilation Score, Charles Stross
The Mechanical: Book One of the Alchemy Wars, Ian Tregillis


As has been pointed out in another thread so much is published these days that it can take me years to catch up.
Indeed waiting until after books have been noticed is one way of filtering - this year I also read The Goblin Emperor,
The Three-Body Problem and The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August from previous years.

116:

Argh! That should have been "but like much epic fantasy it takes a while to get going."

It's actually a bit different from most other epic fantasy.

118:

My source is anecdata -- from a recently-retired editor-in-chief at Ace. Novels with "Hugo award winner" stamped on the cover tend to stay in print longer and receive bigger reprint runs than other novels by the same authors.

However, with the long tail and the move to ebooks, this is of dwindling significance.

119:

Gamergate was not brought into the 2015 Hugos. That's a constantly repeated bit of fan folklore that is at odds with reality. I was there. I am a supporter of Gamergate and followed Sad Puppies closely. The effort to reach out to people who had not voted previously was directed at SF/Fantasy readers who had not previously voted in the Hugos or who had done so in the past and stopped.

I know JC has left, but I've been correcting this inaccuracy with facts for a while because I like it when people have the evidence at hand. So!

Larry Correia reaching out to Milo Yiannopolous asking for Gamergate help: https://twitter.com/monsterhunter45/statuses/559761358124642305 and https://twitter.com/monsterhunter45/statuses/559761848040292352

Milo writing about the Hugos in February: https://twitter.com/nero/status/563420873332637696

Was Gamergate interested or relevant? Nope. But the Puppies definitely wanted Gamergate help.

120:

However, you can't put Alfie Award on a book jacket.

Apparently you can! Ursula Vernon just revealed a cover for her upcoming Seventh Bride re-release, from Amazon. In the post she notes that they specifically asked to include her Alfie award in her bio.

121:

I bounced off of Jason Hough's first book and avoided the subsequent trilogy volumes, but I quite like his new Zero World, which is an espionage thriller in solar space before it gets nicely weird. Several times it looked like it would fall into a trope, only to subvert it smoothly.

Similarly, Harry Connolly's Great Way trilogy adroitly sidesteps tropes to both sides. It really is "epic fantasy with no boring parts". Good storytelling.

Patrick Lee should be commended to this group: he writes books that look like thrillers until the second or third chapter, when he introduces a solid SFnal element and explores ramifications of it thoroughly. They feel a little like Walter Jon Williams's Days of Atonement, but faster. His current book is Signal, which does a nice new spin on oracles.

I want to give Max Gladstone a Hugo for the Craft Sequence as a whole, rather than for the individual books. The same for Sharon Lee and Steve Miller's Liaden Universe series: the whole is impressive in a way that some of the individual parts are not.

S.L. Huang's Russell's Attic series is exciting and interesting but not quite what I think of as Hugo-worthy: I wonder why. Read them anyway.

122:

At this present moment in time, an Alfie Award means "George R.R. Martin thinks you are cool".

Of course a publisher wants to mention that; Murder Santa has a lot of fans. Official recognition of coolness might not induce said fans to buy something else, but it's hard to imagine a PR person who wouldn't want to try it and see.

123:

I bounced off of Jason Hough's first book and avoided the subsequent trilogy volumes, but I quite like his new Zero World

I hated, hated, hated it. World-building is basically ass -- high-tech/solar space setting and contemporary economics/mores/fashions/attitudes on Earth? Pull the other one. (I bailed about 30 pages into the MS due to general disgust. This is why I shouldn't be allowed to/asked to blurb SF novels these days ...)

124:

At this present moment in time, an Alfie Award means "George R.R. Martin thinks you are cool".

I was just going to say that "Winner of George R.R. Martin's Alfie Award!" on the cover would probably be good for sales, among some readers.

125:

Similarly, Harry Connolly's Great Way trilogy adroitly sidesteps tropes to both sides. It really is "epic fantasy with no boring parts". Good storytelling.

What are the "boring parts"?

Just wondering, because when I reread Poul Anderson I find it's his lyrical descriptions of places that I like, and I found S.M. Stirling's blow-by-blow descriptions of battles boring.

So what's boring for you might be just what I like.

(If I was into computer gaming I'd be the target audience for Wander, which is apparently all about exploring a world without having to fight. On the Wii my favourite game was Endless Ocean, where virtually all you did was swam around exploring.)

126:

Gamergate and the Puppies do include some deeply unpleasant reactionary individuals (for example, John C. Wright), but I'm very wary of assigning attributes of toxic individuals to entire groups, and guilt-by-association never ends well.

That's the thing about voluntary association; lie down with dogs, rise with fleas.

People who present their association are not selecting some theoretical statistical abstraction; they're selecting the public spokespeople, who are not such as could be countenanced in polite company.

If you're going to start applying purity tests on who's a legitimate part of fandom, exactly where do you draw the line? And does the same apply to Benjanun Sriduangkaew and her supporters?

Well, of course.

Do you really mean to say that, for example, a cascade of rape and death threats fits into your notion of polite society? I should not like to accept a notion that fandom need not exist inside the bounds of polite society.

What happens if next year the Puppies "play by the rules" and still get one or two of their favourites on each ballot? And at least some of those nominations aren't unreadable drivel?

That's fine; it's a beauty contest. If 20% of worldcon membership fandom really likes something, it ought to get on the ballot.

How much of the extreme reaction to the Puppies is down to their use of slates, and how much is down to the fact they represent the wrong political "tribe"?

I would think none, in terms of tribe. Hugo Fandom as a whole is conservative-to-reactionary, old, and fairly cranky. It has accepted individuals with sharply reactionary views for years.

You do understand that a slate, translated, means "I want this and I shall have it, and never mind what anybody else wants or thinks"? This is not a productive political stance, especially when applied to the old, cranky, and conservative-to-reactionary.

127:

I got seriously burned out on SF and turned to mysteries for solace

I don't know if you've already discovered them, but if not, you might want to know that Nicola Griffith has a crime-fic side-track: if you haven't read it already, you might enjoy The Blue Place and sequels ...

128:
Do you really mean to say that, for example, a cascade of rape and death threats fits into your notion of polite society? I should not like to accept a notion that fandom need not exist inside the bounds of polite society.

No, I am not saying such a thing, and to imply that I condone the actions of RH is misrepresenting my words.

I was making the point that guilt-by-association cuts both ways. There are still a lot of acolytes and apologists for Requires Hate in fandom.

Slating the way they did it was a dick move and deserved a backlash, and I've never suggested it wasn't. But namecalling and personal smears only serve to fan the flames.

129:

Slating the way they did it was a dick move and deserved a backlash, and I've never suggested it wasn't. But namecalling and personal smears only serve to fan the flames.

I'm not seeing much name calling going on here. I have the distinct impression Charlie and the Mods -- it's too late to ask people to not imagine the band, isn't it? -- take a dim view of the practice.

In general, I think it's very easy to get into trouble by being unclear about scope of responsibility. "You're responsible for everything you do" is a good and accurate general rule, so, for instance, someone defending Requires Hate or associating themselves with GamerGate acquires the social weight of that choice, the which they themselves freely made. (Much as someone who dismisses harassment claims while running a con acquires the (as yet insufficient) social weight of that choice.)

Because fandom works by voluntary association, that's where responsibility stops, at the observation of what people or causes you voluntarily associate yourself with. No-one is wandering around with the power of the rods and the axe to police or maintain fandom. Which in turn means no one is responsible for the state of fandom as a whole; chastising the present company for behaviour they're not advocating or engaging in seems to me oddly futile, as well as unhelpful.

130:

Going back to the main topic, I have to agree with Elizabeth Bear in that only the way to save the Hugos is far wider participation in the nomination rounds, especially in the short fiction categories. Only that will dilute both slates and the hypothetical insider cabals who may or nay not exist.

The problem with short fiction is finding good work to nominate. What's a good source of recommendations? Where do you find the good stuff, especially by new authors? Most of the short fiction I've read has been from single-author collections compiled too long after publication for anything to be eligable.

131:
Charlie and the Mods -- it's too late to ask people to not imagine the band, isn't it?

Yes. Does it have Adolph Hitler on vibes (looking very relaxed), and Quentin Hogg on piggy-grunts?

OK. My take on the Sad Puppies (and possibly Gamergate as well) is that while there are many unpleasant individuals in their ranks they also contain a lot of non-bigots with honest intentions who are letting themselves being played by bad actors, most notably by Vox Day. Day is indeed a male-supremacist misogynist (as you said) and many other unpleasant things too. But that's not necessarily true of all of the Puppies.

It's in the interests of fandom as a whole to turn as many of these people into part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Othering them works against that.

Does that nake sense? Or am I just being hopelessly naive?

Anyway, I've seen too long on this topic today. Got a a serious backlog of album reviews to finish.

132:

What's a good source of recommendations? Where do you find the good stuff, especially by new authors?

Well, this is a good collection:
http://zencho.org/cyberpunk-malaysia/

I've been getting most of my new authors by reading Martin Wisse's blog:
http://cloggie.org/wissewords2/

He's not spot-on for my tastes, but his reviews are detailed enough that I can usually tell whether it's worth buying something or not.

133:

Charlie and the Mods

Any violins? If so I'm outta here! :-)

135:

Only if it's that violin.

136:

Why take fiddling chances?

137:

About the Sads and Gamer Gate: they also contain a lot of non-bigots with honest intentions

I think this is assuming facts not in evidence.

I think it is more accurate to suppose that the voluntary association with (at best) really bad insecurity management is deliberate, conscious, and meaningful, and that there is nearly no way for such a person to be a net contributor to a fannish community because they're going to expect deference they in no wise warrant from at least the female half of the population and quite possibly everyone not in their tightly constructed delusive hierarchy.

If someone manages to fish themselves out of the cognitive trap, grow up, and become someone polite society can hope to countenance, that's great; such a person, having departed the company of the misogynistic pus-fuckers and having made sufficient recompense for any objectionable prior acts, can be welcome as an individual into the general goodwill and anarchy of fandom.

But while they're in there? It's not at all obvious to me that anything like fandom has any responsibility for them, nor derives benefit from them. The historical tendency of fandom to welcome everybody has culpably horrible failure modes (Breen, Bradley, etc.) and I think the standards of good will and responsible conduct can be somewhat greater than the historical norm without doing anything at all bad to fandom's history of providing a welcoming social environment to the socially peculiar.

138:

"Hugo Fandom as a whole is conservative-to-reactionary, old, and fairly cranky." -- You're kidding, right?

139:

Back from the bookstore with all but the last four which are on order. Was specifically looking/targeting 2015 titles that would qualify for next year's Hugos, but ended up also picking up a few 2014 works. Apart from Elizabeth Bear, these are also new-to-me authors. A couple of the titles were in general fiction (Signal to Noise and The Angel of Losses).

Beth Cato - The Clockwork Crown (Harper Voyager, 2015)
Carrie Patel - Cities and Thrones (Angry Robot, 2015)
Carrie Patel - The Buried Life (Angry Robot, 2015)
Elizabeth Bear - Karen Memory (Tor 2015)
Karina Sumner-Smith - Radiant (Talos, 2014)
Silvia Moreno-Garcia - Signal to Noise (Simon & Schuster 2015)
Stephanie Feldman - The Angel of Losses (Ecco Haper Collins, 2014)
Zen Cho - Sorcerer to the Crown (ACE Penguin Random House 2015)
Fran Wilde - Updraft (Tor, 2015) - In-store Sept 1 2015
Alyc Helms - The Dragon of Heaven (Angry Robot, 2015) - on-order
Monica Byrne - The Girl in the Road (Crown, 2014) - on-order
Nicola Yoon - Everything, Everything (Delacorte, 2015) - on-order
Susan Murray - The Waterborne Blade (Angry Robot 2015) - on-order

Carrie Patel has 2 titles in the same series both published in 2015 ... great for a reader, but what does this do for a chance at an nomination/award?


Not listed above but also purchased were a handful of old faves (authors).

140:

Slates of any kind are divisive. Count me as another signatory against slates of any stripe in future years.
The puppies chose to use my liberal feminist editor, Sheila Gilbert of DAW books, as one of their shields. They clearly know nothing about her list, which includes books by queer writers, writers of colour, feminists, conservatives and, yes, full-blown socialists who preach (that latter would be me). I'm proud to be one of Sheila's writers and I am furious with the puppies who have tried to damage her name by association.

141:

"Hugo Fandom as a whole is conservative-to-reactionary, old, and fairly cranky." -- You're kidding, right?

Nope.

Keep in mind that I'm not a US citizen, and that most Hugo voters are. This is going to bias me somewhat.

But even internal to the US, voting Hugo fandom is (at least pre-2015; it's not clear what the membership surge has done) statistically white, older than the population average, and it's _SF_ fandom. SF is a reactionary genre with a long history of extolling authoritarian political systems and vigilante justice.

142:

OK. My take on the Sad Puppies (and possibly Gamergate as well) is that while there are many unpleasant individuals in their ranks they also contain a lot of non-bigots with honest intentions who are letting themselves being played by bad actors, most notably by Vox Day. Day is indeed a male-supremacist misogynist (as you said) and many other unpleasant things too. But that's not necessarily true of all of the Puppies.


This (the underlined) is factually incorrect.

The puppies and gamergate aren't like a political party or community organization, where it is a loose association of people with a variety of interests. These groups exist for the very specific goal of the targeting and harassment of women, with gamergate actually trying to get them killed.

And I feel the need to point out, yet again, that the reason these people need to die in the view of the puppies and gators, is because they have a different opinion on mass entertainment media than the members of those groups. That's it. That is the horrible transgression. Not even disagreeing about it, but just noting different points about it. Where "it" is a piece of consumer entertainment media.

This isn't really something you can split hairs about. These are not good people. In fact, choosing to join up in this is basically declaring "I'm a psychotic asshole". You may was well say that the White Citizen's Council wasn't racist. And sure, you can say that - you have the occasional American politician trying to pass that. But it is flat out factually wrong.

143:

and my underline doesn't work. awesomesauce

144:

"Hugo Fandom as a whole is conservative-to-reactionary, old, and fairly cranky." -- You're kidding, right?

one of the things that came out of all this was some demographic studies of who attends cons in general and who attends worldcon in particular.

It trends older and whiter and more american - the latter being more conservative relative to the rest of the world.

so that's pretty accurate

145:

You didn't give Zero World enough time (and of course, that's the author's fault: if you can't grab them on the first page, you may not catch them again) to get into the interesting parts, which start in chapter 5. If you feel like trusting me on this, the capsule summary of the first four chapters is "Protagonist kills everyone he meets on orders from his shadowy boss; then he gets sent on an unexpected second mission to clean up the one who got away." Start on chapter 5; I think you might be better pleased.

146:

If I ever write a book I want the blurb to read "I bailed about 30 pages in due to general disgust." -- Charles Stross

As for crime fiction by an author who has also done SF, read Per Wahloo.

On the OP, I think the Hugo vote shows Hugo voters are largely Lawful Good and won't stand for any slate voting shenannigans. In criticism of awards in general, even if they are largely Lawful Good I'll still value the opinion of one person, making an intelligent case, over the average of 6000 people.

147:
"Hugo Fandom as a whole is conservative-to-reactionary, old, and fairly cranky." -- You're kidding, right?
one of the things that came out of all this was some demographic studies of who attends cons in general and who attends worldcon in particular. It trends older and whiter and more american - the latter being more conservative relative to the rest of the world.

So leaving aside the difficult tasks of controlling for location and other statistical fun things in that study, there's the not-so-minor point that the two highlighted groups are not the same. One is a smaller, more time-rich and disposable-income-rich and often more geographically local subset of the other...

148:

The puppies chose to use my liberal feminist editor, Sheila Gilbert of DAW books, as one of their shields.

The "shields" tactic for slates is, according to original poster Elizabeth Bear, a concern for next year. You think the Puppies sent Brad Torgesen back in time to write nominations for the 2015 Hugos?

They clearly know nothing about her list, which includes books by queer writers, writers of colour, feminists, conservatives and, yes, full-blown socialists who preach (that latter would be me).

A quick Google showed that Sheila Gilbert was nominated by the Sad Puppy slate for a best editor award. (And 3 of the 4 slate nominations for that category are women.) Your argument seems to be that since the Sad Puppies are homophobes, racists, and misogynists, the idea that they knew all about her list and actually liked her work can't possibly be true. Instead it must be some kind of evil cunning plan.

This line of reasoning couldn't be bettered by Vox Day himself.

149:

As requested by the moderators, I have refrained from commenting on Gamergate or Sad Puppies.

[ Rest of comment removed by moderator. This is not a democracy, nor required to be "fair." Laying bare to the lies that are GG and puppydom is on-topic here. Once again, if anyone -- including JCH here -- wants to discuss their personal feelings, that is one thing. ]

150:

only one side of a controversial topic

What's controversial about misogynistic views being beyond the pale of any decent person's social countenance?

151:

Um, err ....
IF you are devout/sincere religious believer & especially if you are (most sorts of) christian or muslim:
"Women are inferior" - after all it says so, right out in public in your particular "holy book".
So, from their p.o.v. misogyny is actually CORRECT, & it is the "right thing to do" - because "god" has told you so.

This causes all sorts of contortions, of course, once one enters any sort of rational debate, but then:
rationality != religion.
Like I said, um, err ....

152:

I think the fact there has been seven cons since 1990 that were outside the US and Canada might explain some of the visitors skewing American.

Have they released a demographic breakdown of Loncon 3 yet? That seemed pretty broadly distributed.

153:

On the OP, I think the Hugo vote shows Hugo voters are largely Lawful Good and won't stand for any slate voting shenannigans.

As it happens the chair of the WSFS business meeting said pretty much exactly that to me at Sasquan, including describing himself as Lawful Good. I can't disagree with how you (or he) described the situation. *grin*

154:

I'm not sure what the politics of fans really are, compared to the country they come from. Saying there's a lot of Americans doesn't mean you can assume they're typical Americans, and a simple left-right scale just isn't going to work.

But the number of non-North-American worldcons is significant. I can see how, in the old days, fandom was dominated by a population immersed in the politics and culture of the USA, and that would change the cultural ocean they were swimming in. And now terrorism has replaced the Cold War (which might be reviving), and the habitual racism of society in the USA seems to be suddenly very apparent.

I can't say that I am proud of our politicians, and I was serious gobsmacked when they got re-elected in May.

I find myself wondering if the Puppies are reacting to changes in Fandom, or to changes in the USA.

155:

Ok, I said this on Scalzi's blog, and I'm going to say it here. If the Puppies put an author they clearly hate (say, Scalzi or OGH) on their slate, the appropriate thing to do is not blindly vote against that author. That's playing the game by their rules. If you want to punish them for their inappropriate and dickish gaming of the system, do what they don't want! Whatever that might be. Which might include accepting the nomination and voting for the work!

I mean, think about it. If you all swear that you're going to vote No Award above everything on their slate, and all the authors swear to withdraw, then they can simply fill their slate entirely with stuff they hate! And all those (possibly) good works lose their chance at a Hugo. It's just crazy enough that I can see the Rabid Puppies trying it.

Slating is bad, yes, but it's only one form of gaming the system. We need to make it clear to these people that gaming the system is bad! Don't just focus on the technique they used last year.

So, don't make a decision about what you're going to do now. Wait and see what they do. And if they try to game the system, we'll get together and decide what's the best way to punish them this time.

And yes, if you do whatever it is that they clearly don't want to do, they will yell and shout that you're cheating, and they will claim it proves that they won. But they were going to do that in anyway! :)

156:

Just to be really, really clear about this: if you promise to withdraw if your name appears on a slate, they can knock you off the ballot without a single vote! That's really too much power to hand these idiots.

157:

It certainly looks like an extension of US politics (and their culture war) to me.
Regardless of what sort of rhetoric they choose to describe themselves, I can't see it being a coincidence that the central figures, both the puppies and their targets, align with American political polarisation.
The same goes for their overwhelming obsession with identity politics.
Of course they won't cop to it, but then similar denial extends back to the "Southern Strategy" and earlier to the role of slavery (aka "States Rights") in their Civil War.

158:

I heartily endorse this comment, and I am so stealing "pus fuckers".

That's all.

159:

Slating is bad, yes, but it's only one form of gaming the system. We need to make it clear to these people that gaming the system is bad! Don't just focus on the technique they used last year.

This makes a lot of sense. It aligns with the tradition of common and case law, in that the spirit of the law should be as important as the letter. But that presupposes disinterested judges to interpret the spirit, and that leads to problems around selection of judges. If a democratic process makes a judge out of "everyone" for some suitable value thereof, does self-selection lead to the same problem?

160:

A system so perfect nobody has to be good

161:

Assuming we keep the raw votes, it should be very practical, statistically, to deduct the effects of slates from things like the Hugo nominations. Just look for clusters of too-similar votes.

162:

15:
Derek, Hollywood has indeed tried posting fakes to torrent sites, but the tactic didn't work because of the comments system. Fakes are quickly spotted and labeled as such, and rapidly disappear. Even if comments haven't appeared, as long as you know the air date and time it's very easy to spot fakes, because they're usually posted *before* a genuine would be.

wg

163:

This, and even along with telltale comments or down-votes there's the question of torrent hosting. Fakes have only the period to between downloading and the user noticing that they're crap to spawn later copies, while real movies or other content are frequently kept available for re-sharing for days, weeks, or even months. It's hardly perfect but it does mean that real content has an advantage over incomplete files, glitchy video, or mislabeled porn.

164:

IIRC there were more people from the USA than "Natives" @ Loncon3.
But I may be mis-remenbering that .....

165:

It doesn't seem to have been discussed here, but i'm thinking one further tactic would be to publicly declare that inclusion on a 'consolation' prize list (the alfie's for example) of any human shield casualties will result in me buying or equivalently consuming something of that person's output. It won't make up for not getting on the nomination, but it's better than nothing and it might make the slater's think twice if enough people sign up to it.

166:

There's some information here.

167:

You can always check out the Big Idea entries in John Scalzi's blog: http://whatever.scalzi.com/ (I don't think OGH will mind my promoting that particular blog).

168:

It's worth remembering that there are more SF readers in the US than in the UK, so despite having a great draw from proximal fans LonCon also got quite a few Americans - just not as many as a North American Worldcon gets.

169:

Dear All,
there is at least one positive outcome from all this nonsense with rabid and sad puppies. As a humble reader of science fiction that does not suck (C), I am now motivated to at least buy a support membership. Maybe even attend the worldcon in 2017.
I am sure I am not the only one like this. In this way Brad Torgersen did a huge public service and a lot of good may come out of this in the future.

Specials

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This page contains a single entry by Elizabeth Bear published on August 28, 2015 6:20 PM.

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