And even more Hugo links – and the Locus Awards

The 2016 Hugo debate is still going on, which isn’t surprising, since last year it lasted all the way until the winners were announced in August, whereupon it morphed into a debate of the winning works. What is more, we’re having a debate about the Locus Awards as well.

For my own contributions so far, see this post, this post and this post. For even more Hugo links, including links to Puppy spaces, also check out File 770.

For starters, the 2016 Hugo Ballot has been updated with the replacements for the two dropped out finalists, the short story “The Commuter” by Thomas A. Mays and the fanzine Black Gate. The new Hugo finalists are “Cat Pictures, Please” by Naomi Kritzer in the short story category and Lady Business in the fanzine category. Both are excellent choices IMO and were also on my own nomination ballot (so was Black Gate which dropped out BTW).

The ladies of Lady Business react to their Hugo nomination and also offer links to several 2015 posts of note, while Naomi Kritzer has placed two of her short story collections on sale to celebrate.

George R.R. Martin briefly weighs in on the new finalists (since he isn’t familiar with either of them) and also wonders what this will mean for the Alfies this year, because George R.R. Martin apparently believed that the short story and fanzine categories, which were entirely rabid puppy dominated until the withdrawals, might be No Awarded and might require Alfies.

Personally, I’m pretty sure that best fanzine would not have gone to “No Award”, since pretty much everybody respects File 770 and the great work Mike Glyer is doing there. And pre-withdrawal, Black Gate was also a reasonable choice with a wider appeal that might well have beaten “No Award”, even though they have the misfortune that Vox Day really likes them.

Talking of Black Gate, Rich Horton goes a bit deeper into the decision of Black Gate editor John O’Neill to withdraw and also wonders what to do now and how to vote. Personally, I like Black Gate a lot and hope that they will get a Hugo nomination free of puppy taint on day.

Short story, on the other hand, might well have fallen to “No Award”, because the only semi-reasonable nominee on the ballot is “Asymmetrical Warfare” by S.R. Algernon, which is an okay story, though it did not get a lot of buzz outside puppy circles. And being a pretty good story didn’t help “Totaled” by Kary English last year to overcome the puppy taint. “Cat Pictures, Please”, on the other hand, got a lot of buzz and is a lovely story, so it’s good to have a real contender in the short story category.

Of course, there is also the big dark horse (or unicorn) in the short story category, Chuck Tingle’s Space Raptor Butt Invasion. Now when the Hugo shortlist was announced two weeks ago, Space Raptor Butt Invasion looked like the least likely winners in the short story category (except maybe for the execrable “If you were an award, my love” that is), simply because it was not just a clear troll nomination, but is also a work of erotica, where the SFnal content is largely incidental, i.e. it belongs to a completely different genre.

But in the two weeks since the Hugo finalists were announced, Chuck Tingle has impressed a lot of people with his hilarious way of dealing with the situation into which he found himself thrust (no pun intended). In the past two weeks, Chuck Tingle has also been relentlessly trolling Voxman, as he calls him, and his Devilmen, culminating in the announcement that Tingle had asked “true Buckaroo” and Gamergate bête noire Zoe Quinn to accept the Hugo Award on his behalf, should he win it. And just in case there were any doubts where Tingle’s sympathies lie, his latest release is also a take on the absurd transphobic bathroom law in North Carolina on his own inimitable way. I guess the “Voxman” shot himself in the foot (or pounded himself in the butt) by getting Chuck Tingle nominated.

So far, Chuck Tingle has brought some much needed amusement to this year’s depressing Hugo season, repeat of the past two equally depressing Hugo seasons, and I’d really like to see him, whoever he may be, honoured for that in some way, though not necessarily with a best short story Hugo, since it’s still the Hugo Award for the best short story (and I doubt that Space Raptor Butt Invasion is better than “Cat Pictures, Please” or even “Asymmetrical Warfare”) and not the most amusing author. Though Chuck Tingle would make an excellent recepient for an Alfie Award IMO.

Talking about jokes and parodies, Rachel Swirsky, whose 2013 short story “If you were a dinosaur, my love” still has the various puppies so infuriated three years later that they keep citing it as the proof that the Hugos are broken (even though it didn’t win), has announced that she will write a parody of her story entitled “If you were a butt, my butt” and will donate the proceeds to charity.

But enough about Chuck Tingle, let’s hear something about the other 2016 Hugo nominees. I already posted this in an ETA to my previous post, but I’ll repost it here for those who missed it. Cause two more Hugo nominees who were slated/listed by the puppies without their knowledge have weighed in.

Brooke Bolander whose novelette “And You Shall Know Her By the Trail of Dead” was on the sad puppy recommendation list explains in a strongly worded post why she will not withdraw and also points out that the sad puppies were pretty much irrelevant this year, pwnd by the rabids. I enjoyed “And You Shall Know Her By the Trail of Dead” a whole lot and nominated it as well, which is why I’m glad Brooke Bolander is staying in.

Daniel Polansky whose novella The Builders has the misfortune on landing on both the sad and rabid slates explains that he initially planned to withdraw, but decided not to and that he really wants nothing to do with the whole thing. I haven’t read the novella yet, but I’m pretty sure that Daniel Polansky is another unwitting puppy shield who was dragged into this whole mess against his will.

Shamus Young, Hugo finalist in the best fan writer category, who was also on the rabid puppies slate, declares himself unpolitical in this post on the site of the podcast Diecast. Shamus Young is one of those Hugo nominees where I have no idea how to evaluate their work, since he mostly seems to write and podcast about videogames, which just isn’t my thing. Though at least according to this Hugo reaction post at the Kaedrin Weblog,  Shamus Young seems to be a generally popular writer in the videogame world and may therefore well have been another of Vox Day’s human shields.

At io9, Andrew Liptak profiles another 2016 Hugo nominee, Matthew Callahan, who was nominated in the best fan artist category for his photos of Stormtroopers at war. Matthew Callahan is another Hugo nominee who had the misfortune of finding himself on the rabid puppy slate (and on the sad puppies list as well, I think). It’s pretty obvious why the puppies would enjoy his work – military subjects are very much their thing. Nonetheless, he does interesting work and is certainly a nominee I can see myself voting for, unlike that other rabid puppy fan artist nominee who caused a minor uproar over a badly drawn and naked Ms. Marvel.

Let’s go on to some general reaction posts. At Conceptual Neighbourhood, Katster points out that they understand how some of the Sad Puppy leaders like Larry Correia or Brad Torgersen are feeling, because being snubbed or ignored for awards does hurt. Though one has to remember that both Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen got Hugo/Campbell nominations under their own steam prior to engaging in any puppy shenangigans. Okay, so they didn’t win (and at least Larry Correia’s work really isn’t the sort of thing that Hugo voters normally go for, though the story Brad Torgersen was initially nominated for was much closer to the sort of short fiction that appeals to Hugo voters than some of his latter work), but then a lot of worthy writers don’t win and aren’t even nominated for awards in the first place.

At Geek Out, a site for LGBT geeks, Hey Mr. Tullyman offers a summary of the Hugo controversy and points out that hatred, particularly hatred of queers, is hurting the Hugos. He doesn’t seem to be entirely sure how the Hugos actually work, e.g. they’re are no judges, only Worldcon member who vote, but his heart is certainly in the right place.

Of course, the genre community is also still debating how to prevent a repeat performance of the puppy mess of the last three years into infinity or at least until Vox Day gets bored.

At his livejournal, Kevin Standalee has another interesting proposal which he calls Plus 2, which would give the Hugo Awards committee the ability to add up to two nominees to the ballot in any category, which would allow non-slate nominees to get even into categories which were completely swept by the slates.

Finnish fan Sami Sundell also weighs in on the Hugo controversy at his English language blog Asian laita. He also comes out very strongly against the approach to blanket “No Award” anything that was on any slate, whether sad or rabid puppies, regardless of individual merit that is being pushed by Matthew Foster and Steve Davidson among others. I’m inclined to agree with him and indeed I’ll follow the approach that has served me well the past three years, namely if I enjoy a given work and/or see merit in it, I’ll rank it above “No Award” in order of how much I like it. If I don’t like a given work or believe it is miscategorised, it goes under “No Award”. And yes, I’ve always used “No Award” in at least one category in the three years I’ve voted for the Hugos, because there’s always at least one nominee that I really really don’t like.

Of course, given the quality of the puppy nominees last year and the year before, there usually wasn’t much of a difference between “No Awarding” them because of the slates and “No Awarding” them because of lack of merit. Last year, for example, there were only three puppy nominees in the fiction categories that I liked enough to place them over “No Award”.

At Kirkus Reviews, Andrew Liptak reminds us that while the various puppies may have taken the problem to a new level, gaming the Hugo nominations actually isn’t anything new and that the Church of Scientology already tried it in 1987 and managed to get Black Genesis, a posthumous novel by their founder L. Ron Hubbard, onto the Hugo ballot with predictable results, namely that novel ended up under “No Award”.

At nerds of a feather, Joe Sherry reminds everybody that the Hugos aren’t the only SFF awards and that there is a whole world of genre awards out there that are blessedly free of canine interference.

One of those awards is of course the Locus Award, which announced its 2016 shortlist last week. It’s a very good shortlist in general and the overlap with the Hugos is notable, particularly in categories where the rabid puppies didn’t mess everything up with troll nominations. Coincidentally, the overlap between the Hugo, Nebula and Locus Awards should also be useful in identifying which nominees on the rabid puppy slate are human shields. And yes, I know that Vox Day tried to flood the Locus Awards as well with his Dead Elk, but it doesn’t seem to have worked beyond the obvious human shields.

Okay, so the science fiction novel category at the Locus Awards is a bit sad with Ancillary Mercy the only nominee I actually care for, but then Neal Stephenson, Kim Stanley Robinson, Paolo Bacigalupi and Gene Wolfe have plenty of fans, I just don’t happen to be one of them. The fantasy and first novel categories, on the other hand, look excellent as do the short fiction categories, the anthology and collection categories (which have no Hugo equivalent) and the various editing, magazine and art categories.

However, the YA category at the Locus Awards does look a bit strange, since it features five novels by male authors (two of them by the same author, Joe Abercrombie) – in a field that is eighty percent female. I’m not the only one to notice this either – there was quite a bit of discussion on Twitter about the lack of women in the YA category.

And indeed, Damien Walter asks at the Guardian if the Locus Awards have been hit with myopic sexism in the YA category.

Meanwhile, Joe Sherry points out at Adventures in Reading that Locus Award nominees in the YA category are all writers well regarded for their adult SFF. And since the Locus audience is probably more knowledgable about adult SFF than about YA, they are more likely to vote for authors whose adult SFF they enjoyed than for pure YA authors they may not be familiar with.

The actual nominees in the YA category seem to confirm this, since Joe Abercrombie’s adult fantasy is highly popular, Daryl Gregory and Daniel José Older are also well regarded for their adult work and Terry Pratchett is not just hugely popular, but also sadly dead, which means that this is the last chance to recognise his work.

Coincidentally, I have noticed a similar tendency in the Andre Norton Award, i.e. the YA category of the Nebula Awards, which at least in previous years often tended to honour authors better known for their adult SFF (who often were men) than YA authors, though this seems to have improved somewhat of late. It simply seems to be a case that a large number of SFF fans, particularly those invested enough in the genre to nominate for genre awards, are not really all that knowledgable about YA SFF. I don’t even exclude myself there. Though I don’t remember what precisely I nominated for the Locus Awards this year and – unlike the Hugos – I have no record of what I nominated either. Though I do remember that I nominated Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older (which made it) and Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (which didn’t) in the YA category.

The mini-controversy surrounding the all male shortlist for YA category of the Locus Awards also highlights a general issue I have with the Locus Awards, namely that the nominations are pre-seeded with choices from the Locus recommended reading list (the 2015 edition is here), which means that the pre-selected choices on the recommended reading list exert undue influence on the nominations. Plus, as Natalie Luhrs points out in her analysis of the Locus Recommended Reading list, the list is biased in favour of male writers and white writers. Of course, write-ins are possible and I have always had write-ins whenever I nominated for the Locus Awards, since my personal tastes don’t align all that well with those of the Locus reviewers. But I’m not aware that any write-in nominee ever made the shortlist, at least not one of mine.

Finally, could we maybe find a different name for Locus the magazine and the Locus Awards, since “locus” is a euphemism for toilet in my part of Germany, so saying the name out loud is always somewhat embarrassing, especially when talking with people not as plugged into the SFF scene? At any rate, I’ve had a couple of conversation along the lines of “The toilet magazine? It’s really called that?” or “Why are they called toilet awards?”

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