Of Hugos, Puppies and WorldCon 2016 – and a bit about the Clarke Award

Yeah, we’re still talking about the 2016 Hugos and MidAmeriCon II, the 2016 Kansas City WorldCon. Hell, I even had an (alcohol-free) Hugo cocktail (no relation to the award) today. Previous posts on the 2016 Hugos are here, here and here, for those following along.

First of all, let’s start of with the third major science fiction award (after the Nebula and the Hugo), Britain’s Arthur C. Clarke Award, which in 2016 was awarded to Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. This wasn’t my personal favourite, but nonetheless a very good choice.

At Strange Horizons, Abigail Nussbaum reviews all the 2016 Clarke Award nominees in a two part post. I don’t necessarily agree with her verdict – but then, I rarely agree with Abigail Nussbaum’s reviews, even though I always enjoy reading them – but she makes some interesting points.

Next, let’s have some updates on the various (yes, there were several) harrassment and expulsion incidents:

I’ve already talked about the problematic short fiction panel, which was hijacked by moderator Dave Truesdale who instead of moderating read out a prepared statement about how political correctness and special snowflakes were ruining SFF, until he was shut down. Truesdale was later banned for violating the Code of Conduct.

Now it turns out that an audience member at the panel, a self-declared rabid puppy with the username Darth Troutman, was also expelled for disrupting the panel, yelling at panelist Neil Clarke and terrifying an audience member.

Greg Hullender of Rocket Stack Rank, the short fiction resource that might well have made the best fanzine ballot, if not for canine interference, was also at the panel in question and talks about it, as well as about his general experiences at MidAmeriCon II.

ETA: Puppy-affiliated indie author Robert Kroese declares that Dave Truesdale was completely innocent and that his expulsion was the work of those nasty politically correct social justice warriors out to ruin WorldCon and science fiction. Or something.

Mary Robinette Kowal was also suspended for violating the Code of Conduct by serving whisky at a panel. Doesn’t strike me as that much of an issue, but Americans are weird about alcohol and convention centres don’t like beverages brought in from outside. And it’s a good thing that the con is consequent about enforcing its rules, regardless who the affected party is. Mary Robinette Kowal agress BTW and generally handles the whole thing in a much more adult way than some other people one might name.

Campbell Award nominee Alyssa Wong and Hugo nominee Brooke Bolander were both the targets of a harrassment incident that was a continuation of another harrassment incident at WisCon. Alyssa Wong explained what happened on Twitter. There is no Storify, but if you click on the embedded tweet below, you should be able to follow the whole thread.

Bull Spec has more on the issue, since it turns out the harrassers were two of their columnists/reviewers, now suspended.

Vasha offers her own version of a puppy-free Hugo ballot in response to Stephanie Zvan’s, to which I linked in the last post. She comes to the conclusion that Toni Weisskopf would have made it onto the ballot without canine help and Jerry Pournelle would have made the longlist, but that no other overt puppy candidates would have made it.

At The Digital Reader, Nate Hoffelder wonders whether one can truly speak of a puppy defeat, when several of the winners were either on the sad puppy recommendation list or the rabid puppy slate, even though all puppy list/slate winners were generally popular and not unlikely choices with the possible exception of Abigail Larson. Nate Hoffelder also wonders whether the sad puppy recommendation list might serve the function of a kingmaker going forward.

ETA: At the New York Times, Alexandra Alter interviews N.K. Jemisin about The Fifth Season, her Hugo win and the sad puppies.

Hugo winner Nnedi Okorafor was also interviewed for the Salon article to which I linked yesterday. Unfortunately, she was on the road and didn’t reply to the e-mail in time, so she posts the answers on her blog instead.

Here is a quote:

One day this group of irate individuals will realize no one is coming to erase them, and that all stories are richer and more enjoyable when there are more of them (more stories, I mean).

Alas, that day is not yet here and so the puppies are still busily having meltdowns and declaring that the Hugos are irrelevant and the Dragon Awards are the totally superior saviours of the field. They seem to believe it, too. Still, if it makes them happy and keeps them from starting any further slating campaigns…

In the last round-up, I already linked to Brad Torgersen’s epic meltdown, complete with the declaration that he never wanted a Hugo or a Nebula or a Locus Award or the Campbell Award anyway.

Now Camestros Felapton responds to Torgersen’s post and points out some of the inconsistencies in his argument.

Talking of inconsistency, a blogger calling themselves The Political Hat tackles the 2016 WorldCon and Hugo Awards from a puppy perspective and offers a rather incoherent post in which they complain once more about Moira Greyland getting no awarded and then go on to complain about the various changes to the voting system proposed at the WSFS business meeting. The Political Hat also claims they have never heard of The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (Uhm, if you vote for the Hugos, you’re supposed to read the nominees, but at the very least you should look at the shortlist), complains about a panel on “Science fiction as protest literature” and how they were triggered by Donald Trump jokes.

On the other hand, a rank and file sad puppy blogging at Be Swift, Be Precise had a generally good time at MidAmeriCon (and also shares detailed panel notes in a several posts) and found that most people were friendly to him. He does seem to believe that many of what he calls Social Justice Warriors are beginning to adopt what he considers puppy positions, which he views as a win for the puppies. Personally, I suspect that the positions were never all that different in the first place – for example, I agree with several points of the Human Wave Manifesto – but that the blatant slating, the strident rhetoric and the utter inability to recognise that other people might have other tastes put a lot of people off.

ETA: Talking of the Human Wave, in his Hugo reaction post, sad puppy supporter Jeff Duntemann links to a multi-part essay on the Human Wave movement and also declares WorldCon, the Hugos and trad-published science fiction dead, whereas indie SFF writers will rescue the genre for Nutty Nuggets. Now I’d never heard of Jeff Duntemann before – I only found his blog because I did a search for the Human Wave manifesto and his multi-post series on the subject came up. However, a bit of googling revealed that Duntemann is an SF writer who was even nominated for a Hugo back in 1981.

Meanwhile, Larry Correia has finally found Damien Walter’s Guardian article savaging his writing and has the predictable meltdown. Ironically, neither Larry Correia nor Dave Freer realise that by pointing out how many books they have sold, they’re actually confirming Walter’s point that for the puppies, sales figures are the only metric that matters. Never mind that they apparently haven’t heard of the “Never respond to reviews, no matter how wrong-headed they might be” dictum either. Like his fellow puppies, Correia is also still hung up that Damien Walter got a writing grant from the British arts council once. Honestly, what is their problem with that? It’s not as if any of the puppies would be eligible for that grant anyway, by virtue of not being British.

Sarah Hoyt, one third of the trio that organised the Sad Puppies 4 campaign, has also found Damien Walter’s article (though she got off lighter than some of her fellow puppies), takes some issues with it and then launches into a lengthy literature versus genre post.

Over at the Mad Genius Club, Amanda Green, the second third of the trio that organised the Sad Puppies 4 campaign, attempts to answer the question what makes a good book. Three quarters of the post sound like the usual “write to market” advice, plus the whole “indie books are better than trad book, cause the writers are so much more passionate about their work, whereas traditionally published bestsellers are just following a formula (Uhm, has she read some of those ‘written to market’ indie books?)” stuff that anybody who occasionally patronises indie publishing blogs has heard a thousand times before. Unlike most of her fellow puppies, Green even realises that taste is subjective and that there is no one correct definition of what makes a good book, though she insists that a good book should be entertaining and not preachy (Uhm, has she read some of last year’s puppy nominees?). Nonetheless, Amanda Green can’t help including a jab against puppy bete noir Damien Walter and against Hugo adminsitrators and voters whom she accuses of attempting to force their tastes onto the masses. Sorry, but she got it the wrong way around, since the only ones trying to force their tastes onto others were the puppies.

Kate Paulk, the third of the Sad Puppies 4 organisers, also weighs in and shares her experiences at WorldCon. She has a few things to say about the business meeting (there were hardly any Social Justice Warriors there, at least not whatever image of Social Justice Warriors she has built up in her mind), declares that the sad puppies are far from defeated and announces that there will be a Sad Puppies 5, but that it will be a recommended reading list and focus less on the Hugos and more on the Dragon Awards. In that case, more power to them. If the Sad Puppy campaign had focussed more on recommended reading lists from the beginning (and let’s not forget that this year’s sad puppy campaign was a recommended reading list and didn’t have a whole lot of impact on the Hugo nominations) and toned down the strident rhetoric, I don’t think anybody would have objected. I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to stick with the Sad Puppy name, since that brand has been tainted for the foreseeable future. Still, this is a big step in the right direction.

I hope that’s it for the 2016 Hugo and WorldCon discussion. There’ll probably be a response to those puppies who accused Hugo voters that we only voted for women and writers of colour as affirmative action and then I hope we’re done with this topic until next year.

Comments are still closed, because awards discussions have the tendency to bring out the trolls.

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