More 2014 Hugo Reactions

First of all, the winners of the BSFA awards have been announced as well with much less controversy than the Hugo nominations. This slate of winners hews a lot closer to my own choices than the Hugo nominations, e.g. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, Spin by Nina Allan, Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer and the artwork of Joey Hi-Fi were all on my Hugo nomination list.

Meanwhile, we’re still talking about the Hugo nominations. First of all, Stefan Raets has a great round-up of reactions at Far Beyond Reality. Lots of interesting reactions there. Here are a few I want to highlight:

Best fanwriter nominee Abigail Nussbaum and Kameron Hurley, nominated in the fanwriter and best related work categories, share their thoughts on receiving their respective first Hugo nominations in such a problematic year.

For a non-US/UK perspective on this year’s Hugo nominations, check out this post by Dutch librarian Mieneke van der Salm at A Fantastical Librarian.

John Scalzi points out that the Hugos were not rigged and that campaigning for votes for one’s own work and suggesting nominees in other categories is common and has been done by lots of people, including John Scalzi himself.

Steve Davidson of Amazing Stories and a blogger known only as Population: One both point out that the voting pool and the number of nominating ballots was larger than ever this year and that bloc voting couldn’t have made that much of an impact.

ETA: Steve Davidson contacted my via e-mail with the following clarification:

I did want to offer a somewhat correction to your summary of my statement: yes, the voting pool was much bigger this year (yay).

My main point was that bloc voting (or “organizing your fans”) obviously worked this year for Correia, Day, etc. Which means that since there is the 5% minimum vote cut-off, they were able to muster enough votes to be above 5%. In August when all of the voting data is made public, we will have a very good picture of how many votes it took to exceed 5% and, therefore, we will know how much more we must increase the Hugo voting participation pool in order to push that number of voters down below 5%. To be more clear: if there were 100 voters this year and each of the nominees in question received 6 votes (6%), we’d know that the total pool needs to increase to 121 (minimum) to insure that those 6 voters, working together, can’t push anything above the 5% cut-off without help.

Now personally I don’t think that the nominations were rigged, because what Larry Correia and Vox Day on the one hand as well as the Wheel of Time fans (apparently spurred on by a post at on the other did is not actually against the rules. However, that does not mean that what they did wasn’t tasteless or that it didn’t cross a line. Because “Here is what I wrote last year and here is what I liked” posts are one thing. Prepackaged ballots and relentless multi-post campaigning along the lines of “Nominate me and my friends or a puppy will die” is something else entirely. As is “Nominate these right-thinking candidates, whether you have read them or not, to piss off the other political side.”

Correia himself is meanwhile predictably gloating (via Donotlink) and happily accusing the cabal of Communist SFF fans that mainly exists in his imagination of rigging votes and nominations in previous awards processes*. Oh yes, and only Correia and his friends are writing the kind of fun SFF that people actually want to read, while everybody else is just writing boring message fiction. Because obviously, “Guns are good and gun control is bad” is not a message. And because the people who nominated Ancillary Justice or Selkie Stories are for Losers obviously didn’t enjoy them. Add to that his recent attacks on Alex Dally MacFarlane, Jim Hines and Damien Walter** and honestly, could this guy be any more unpleasant? The sad thing is that I might actually have put Correia’s novel (the title of which I have forgotten again) in second place after Ancillary Justice, if it was halfway enjoyable, since neither Parasite nor Neptune’s Brood are my thing and I’m not going to read 14 or however many volumes there are of Wheel of Time. I’m still going to give it a try (ditto for Vox Day as well as the stories by Dan Wells and Brad Torgersen, whom I will view as unwitting victims of this bloc voting campaign unless proven otherwise), but the book will have to be absolutely knock-your-socks-off amazing to overcome the author’s unpleasant online persona.

If you’re up for more rightwing gloating, here is an article from a rightwing site called The American Journal (again via Donotlink)***. Vox Day weighs in as well with a post that’s actually civil by his standards (obviously via Donotlink) and a link to a free epub and mobi version to his nominated novelette, in case you want to see what the fuss is all about.

For more on the observation that there is no apolitical fiction without a message, check out this great post by Saira Ali at Dreamwidth. She makes some excellent points, so head over there and read it.

Finally, the “The Hugos are irrelevant, because they award works that are too popular and not innovative enough” fraction is heard from again as well. Martin of Everything is Nice claims that Vox Day, Larry Correia and Wheel of Time getting nominated is the logical outcome of people mentioning their eligibility for certain awards and that we shouldn’t complain.

Warren Ellis thinks that SFF has always been infested by rightwingers**** and that the Hugos and science fiction or what passes for it in the SFF community is all irrelevant anyway, while Adam Roberts thinks this year’s Hugo nomination slate is the equivalent of Henry Kissinger winning the Nobel Peace Prize*****.

Meanwhile, Jason Sanford offers some constructive criticism on how to improve the Hugo Awards. I’m not sure if this would help, because lowering the costs for a supporting membership might just as well mean even more of Larry Correia’s minions or Wheel of Time fanboys nominating and voting. Getting rid of all eligiblity lists and recommendation posts certainly wouldn’t help, because it won’t stop the Larry Correias of this world and would mean that lots of smaller worthy works are overlooked.

If anything, I regret not posting my personal Hugo nominations list to encourage others to check out those writers and works. The reason I didn’t do so was because I felt kind of uncomfortable about it. Where I come from, you don’t talk about who you vote for, often not even among family members. Voting decisions are something you keep to yourself, which is why the US system with people defining themselves as a registered Democrat or Republican is so baffling to me. However, the Hugos are not parliamentary elections and if you want to see what I nominated, here is a PDF copy of my final ballot.

Disabling comments on this post for obvious reasons.

*Honestly, he keep a count of how many people claim to have participated in his Hugo nomination campaign?! Paranoid much?

**He really, really, really seems to hate the idea that someone somewhere is writing fiction about queer and non-binary gender characters.

***I find it interesting how many people believe that Wheel of Time will win automatically, while totally forgetting that there are plenty of SFF fans like myself who have never read the series, fans who tried the series, but didn’t like it or gave up on it somewhere along the way and fans who are angry that the whole series was nominated for a Hugo rather than just the final book and who won’t vote for it regardless of their feelings about the series itself.

****Apparently, it really is/was that way, though I for one never noticed, because the bookstore where I bought my SFF didn’t carry such books beyond the occasional mild early Heinlein and I also missed some blatantly rightwing subtext e.g. in the original Battlestar Galactica (which has a strong anti-nuclear-disarmament message), because no one I knew was for nuclear weapons. Indeed, I was quite shocked when I ran across my first examples of rightwing SF, because SF was about the future and conservatives were against the future by definition.

*****Shockingly enough, growing up in the highly controlled German media bubble of the 1970s and 1980s (more on that in some other post), I didn’t know that Kissinger’s Nobel Prize win was even remotely controversial until well into my 20s, since our public broadcasters and mainstream newspapers never said anything even remotely critical about any American political figure.

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