Yet more Hugo Debate 2016 – and a bit about the Clarke 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.

For my own contributions so far, see this post and this post.

Meanwhile, here are some more updates and reactions from around the web. Mike Glyer at File 770 has even more Hugo links, including several from puppy affiliated blogs and sites, which I won’t link to with “Do Not Link” down.

First of all, we have the second withdrawal, namely Black Gate, nominee in the best fanzine category and a good one, too, has withdrawn itself from consideration, because they don’t want the stink of puppy poo to stick to them. I certainly sympathise, though I’m also sad, because next to File 770, Black Gate was the other decent nominee in this category. George R.R. Martin weighs in on the Black Gate withdrawal and orders those nominees who were taken hostage by the rabid puppies not to withdraw.

So far, the good folks of MidAmeriCon have not yet released an updated ballot. I suspect they’re waiting if there are more withdrawals/disqualifications before publishing the updated ballot. After all, the Sasquan organisers last year had to update their ballot almost daily for a week or so.

Furthermore, we have a few general summaries of the whole affair courtesy of Scott Timberg at Slate and Tufayel Ahmed at Newsweek.

The puppies’, both rabid and sad, least favourite critic Damien Walter (they hate him so much that they have even attributed articles written by David Barnett and Adam Roberts to Damien Walter, since apparently reading a byline is beyond the ability of some puppies) weighs in on his blog. His suggestion for dealing with the rabid puppies match mine, namely figure out who they are and ban their arses.

Among other things, Damien Walter points out that it’s rather strange that H.P. Lovecraft was nominated in the best fanwriter category for the 1941 Retro Hugos, when he died in 1937. The nominations are probably for posthumous publications, though given that this is H.P. Lovecraft we’re talking about here, one cannot help but wonder whether certain eldritch forces were involved. Though personally, I suspect that the best fanwriter Retro Hugo nomination for Lovecraft may be the most notable sign of puppy impact on the Retro Hugos. Okay, there are also the many nominations for Robert A. Heinlein, but then Heinlein’s popularity extends way beyond the puppies and he was doing some damn good work in 1941.

Regarding the present day ballot, Damien Walter expresses his surprise that Kim Stanley Robinson’s novel Aurora is missing from the shortlist, but suspects that Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves and Robinson’s Aurora may well have split the vote of those who like their SF heavy on the infodumping. Since I feared I’d have to deal with both Seveneves and Aurora on the shortlist, neither of which is my thing at all, I’m glad that this is one bullet we managed to dodge.

In a follow-up post, Damien Walter also shares his theories regarding the identity of the most mysterious of this year’s Hugo nominees, namely Chuck Tingle, author of Space Raptor Butt Invasion, and comes to the conclusion that whoever Chuck Tingle may be, he is one hell of a savvy marketer.

Marian Crane not just starts off her Hugo post with a great pie-fight gif, she also finds herself amused by the Hugo nomination for Chuck Tingle. She also makes a good point, namely that if Vox Day felt that the obvious troll nomination of Space Raptor Butt Invasion would enrage those he calls “Social Justice Warriors”, CHORFs (nope, that was Brad Torgersen), puppy-kickers or whatever, he may well be in for a huge surprise. Because – hint – only prudes and puppies think “butt” is somehow a bad word and only homophobes are offended by gay erotica, particularly gay parody erotica.

ETA: I’ve seen a couple of people say at File 770 and other places that they don’t want to read Space Raptor Butt Invasion, which is of course their good right. I guess I had underestimated that many Americans in general and SFF folks in particular are weird about sex.

Meanwhile, N.K. Jemisin points out on Twitter (screenshot here) that even though Chuck Tingle seems to be a pretty cool person, his (I’m going by stated gender here, even though Chuck Tingle is clearly a pen name) nomination still keeps deserving nominees off the ballot, many of which may be women, writers of colour, LGBT writers or international writers. And it’s pretty obvious that for Vox Day, gaming the Hugos is as much about keeping people and works he dislikes out than getting his choices in.

Meanwhile, Cuck Tingle himself responds to both the Rabid Puppies and those who criticise his nomination by publishing a sequel to his Hugo nominated story Space Raptor Butt Invasion, a sequel entitled Space Raptor Butt Redemption. If Vox Day pushed Chuck Tingle onto the ballot merely to troll us all, he may be in for a rude awakening, because so far Chuck Tingle us outtrolling Vox. Conceptual Neighbourhood also points out that Vox Day’s attempts to weaponise Chuck Tingle and his work backfired badly.

Though it’s not just Vox Chuck Tingle is trolling, it’s everybody. For example, at File 770 Mike Glyer posts a series of Tweets by Chuck Tingle, which seem to be his answer to requests to withdraw.

Nonetheless, I like Chuck Tingle and his way of dealing with this whole mess. And we’ve certainly had not quite serious Hugo nominees before like John Scalzi’s April Fools story “Shadow War of the Night Dragon”. Though I still feel sorry for whichever legitimate nominee was kept off the ballot by Space Raptor Butt Invasion.

But enough about Chuck Tingle who seems to unduly dominate the Hugo discussion this year (apparently using “butt” in the title of a short story is still newsworthy in the US) and on to other nominee reactions. Spacefaring Extradimensional Happy Kittens has done us all a favour and compiled links to the reactions of nominees who found themselves on the Rabid Puppies slate, often against their will.

The people behind the horror podcast Tales to Terrify were horrified to find themselves on the Rabid Puppies slate. They’re connected to StarShipSofa, a previous winner in the best fancast category, and seem to be yet more of Vox Day’s human shields.

Alastair Reynolds, whose novella Slow Bullets had the highly dubious honour of being on being on both the Sad and the Rabid Puppy list, points out that he wants nothing to do with puppies of either stripe and that his request to be removed from both puppy lists were ignored. Slow Bullets was getting buzz way before either puppy list appeared, so Alastair Reynolds may well be one of those nominees who would have made it without canine help.

Campbell nominee Alyssa Wong who squeaked just onto the Sad Puppies list, very likely due to people who were recommending decidedly unpuppyish works and authors to check the honesty of this year’s Sad Puppy organisers (Good news: They were honest. Bad news: You may well have made some good authors doubt themselves), explains that she’s not withdrawing, since Vox Day’s objective was specifically to keep people like her off the ballot.

ETA: Two more Hugo nominees who were slated/listed by the puppies without their knowledge weigh 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’m pretty sure that Daniel Polansky is another unwitting puppy shield who was dragged into this whole mess against his will.

At KBoards, David VanDyke, whose novelette “What Price Humanity?” was on the Rabid Puppies slate, distances himself from all political genre infighting and states that he only submitted to the There Will Be War anthology (published by Castalia House) because he wanted to work with Jerry Pournelle.

S.R. Algernon, author of the Hugo nominated short story “Asymmetrical Warfare”, which was on the Rabid Puppy slate, weighs in at Goodreads and basically says that they (I couldn’t find out which gender S.R. Algernon is, so I’m going with “they” for now) wants nothing to do with the politics of the whole Hugo debate. They also offers links to other stories they’ve written in a follow-up post to allow people to better evaluate their work.

John Picacio, winner of the best pro artist Hugo in 2013, weighs in on the subject of the 2016 best pro artist ballot and puts in a good word for Larry Elmore. In the comments, someone also gives information on the other nominees in this category and their backgrounds, if – like me – you have no idea who these people even are.

For the statistics geeks, Brandon Kempner of Chaos Horizon and Greg Hullender of Rocket Stack Rank both offer an analysis of the 2016 Hugo nominations and also try to estimate the size of the Rabid Puppy voting bloc. According to those estimates, Vox Day’s Dead Elk (not my term, alas, someone at File 770 came up with that one) number somewhere between 220 and 300. And considering we had almost 4000 nominators in the biggest categories (which coincidentally show the least puppy influence), it’s damn depressing that five to seven percent of nominators with malicious intentions can flood the ballot with their choices.

So what do we do now and where do we go from here? The G. asks these very questions at nerds of a feather. He (I happen to know The G and that he’s male) also states that he won’t back any counterslates, regardless of political background (neither will I, since very few people share my tastes anyway). He also wonders whether to disengage completely and defect to the Locus Awards.

Now I like the Locus Awards, find them valuable and normally participate, unless I forget. The winners picked are also usually good. However, the Locus Awards don’t have fan categories, unlike the Hugos. I also don’t particularly care for the fact that they pre-seed the ballot with their recommended reading list, which often does not reflect my taste. And yes, I know you can write in candidates, but how many write-ins have a chance. 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. So I prefer the open nomination system of the Hugos. Plus, Vox Day has announced that he is planning to manipulate the Locus Awards (and the new Dragon Awards) as well.

At his livejournal, Kevin Standalee proposes a change to the Hugo voting process he calls three-stage voting, which inserts an intermediary semifinals/longlist round between the initial nominations and the final ballot. He also goes a bit deeper into the idea in this follow-up post.

Conceptual Neighbourhood has a post regarding what to do about the Hugos now with a follow-up post here, in which they evaluate various proposals in how to deal with the puppy mess.

At ComicMix, Glenn Hauman weighs in in favour of blanket voting everything on any slate under “No Award”, since Neil Gaiman, Stephen King or Lois McMaster Bujold don’t need a pity Hugo. He’s right that none of these nominees need a pity Hugo, but I still don’t see why I should punish writers and works I like and often nominated myself for something that Vox Day did.

Ben Peek makes a similar point and also advocates for voting everything on any slate under “No Award”. He also urges nominees who were on a slate to withdraw. I find this hugely problematic, especially considering that both Vox Day and the Sad Puppies refused to take people off their respective slates/lists on request and got real pissy about it, too. Never mind that unwilling slate nominees withdrawing may well mean that we lose the few decent nominees on the ballot, since it’s pretty obvious that the people behind trash like “If You Were an Award, My Love”, “SJWs always lie” or “Safe Space as a Rape Room” won’t withdraw.

At Amazing Stories, Steve Davidson also champions blanket no awarding everything that was on a slate except for those slated nominees who stated that they were opposed to slates and wanted to be removed. He also urgens voters to vote their conscience.

At Alas, a Blog!, cartoonist Ampersand proposes a strategy that more closely matches my own, namely no award the bad nominees which would not have made the ballot with canine help and judge everything else on merit.

Joe Follansbee declares the Hugos dead altogether after two years (three if you include Larry Correia’s second Sad Puppy campaign in 2014, which also messed up the ballot, though not as badly as in 2015 and 2016) of puppy shenangigans.

At The Booksmugglers, Thea James and Ana Grilo beg to disagree that the Hugos are dead and urge everybody who cares about the award to participate and vote this year. I just bought my supporting membership for MidAmeriCon II BTW, so what are you waiting for?

Jim C. Hines shares a few Hugo requests, namely that nobody should tell anybody else how to vote (which I completely agree with), that people shouldn’t behave abusively towards the nominees and that there should be no asterisks, because the puppies were apparently really offended by the wooden asterisks handed out before the ceremony and sold for charity last year.

As I said, I agree wholly with not telling anybody how to vote and with not heaping the nominees with abuse. But while I did see some comments that crossed the line on the non-puppy side and some innocents got caught in the crossfire, the vast majority of abuse last year and the one before came from the puppy side, both sad and rabid. Because a lot of the most outspoken puppies (which does not mean the puppy nominees, but the spokespuppies) seem to be incapable of getting even through a single post on the without getting nasty. I’ve been the target of their abuse, as have been many of my friends. Meanwhile, the noisiest puppies also seem to be the most thin-skinned people alive, who take offence at even the mildest of criticisms. For people who always complain about trigger warnings and the like, the prominent puppies are sure easily triggered.

Which brings me to the asterisks. Now I’ve never really understood why the asterisks were so controversial and why some puppies felt so offended by them (apart from the fact that some of them get offended by someone who looks at them the wrong way). I merely see asterisks as a footnote indicator (and there will be an asterisk and a footnote behind the 2015 and 2016 Hugo shortlists), but apparently to Americans, asterisks behind sports results mean that someone cheated, whereas in Europe an asterisk behind a sports result merely means “Check out the footnote”, which could say anything from “This match had to be broken off because of heavy rain/snowfall/the stadion floodlights failing” to “Someone cheated”.

Apparently, some puppies also feel that the wooden asterisks look like arseholes (I believe they call them CHORFholes), which again makes me wonder about their mental age and maturity, because I know no one over the age of 12 who checks out what their own butthole looks like with a mirror. What is more, given the asterisk = arsehole comparison and insistence on the part of some noisy puppies that Space Raptor Butt Invasion is the revenge for the asterisks, some of them do seem to have a bad case of anal fixation.

David Gerrold, last year’s Woldcon GoH and Hugo ceremony toastmaster and the person who commissioned the wooden asterisks, replies to Jim C. Hines that no offense was intended and that given how thin-skinned some puppies are, they would always have found something to take offence at. He also points out that the asterisks raised 2800 USD for a charity that runs an orangutan in Borneo.

Laura Tegan Gjovaag defends David Gerrold and the asterisks by pointing out that it was the puppy organisers put the asterisks behind the 2015 Hugos and that she can’t feel sorry for those who felt offended. I feel inclined to agree with her – never mind that I don’t see just why the puppy leaders are so furious about the asterisks anyway.

While on the subject of puppies, Dara Korra’ti had the misfortune of getting into a Twitter discussion with one of them who calls himself Marc DuQuesne after the villain in E.E. Smith’s Skylark novels (though Marc DuQuesne and “hero” Richard Seaton later team up to commit genocide together) and reports about the experience on her blog. “Blackie DuQuesne” repeats basic puppy talking points, the puppies only reacted to “secret slates”, since absolutely no one could possibly have enjoyed the works that the puppies dislike. It’s all stuff we’ve heard a thousand times before from the puppy camp and it’s still as clueless as it always was.

Dara Korra’ti also points out the new puppy/rightwing jerk in general buzz phrase “virtue signalling”, which basically claims that people who express views that don’t match those of rightwing jerks don’t actually hold those views, they just express them publicly to show that they are good people. Just like absolutely no one could have honestly liked Ancillary Justice or “If you were a dinosaur, my love” or “The Water That Falls On You From Nowhere” or whichever Hugo nominee/winner the puppies hate this week. The phrase “virtue signalling” originates with British journalist James Bartholomew who is actually proud of coining it, which should tell you all you need to know about him.

At Bibliodaze, Ceilidh points out that the puppies’ tactics are deliberately aimed at excluding people they don’t like both from the Hugos and the genre. And this goes for both the sad and rabid puppies, since prominent members of both are on record that they don’t want works that don’t match their very narrow definition of the SFF in the genre. Just take a look at Brad Torgersen’s now infamous “Nutty Nuggets” post (I don’t really have to link to that again, do I? Just google it).

However, Ceilidh also points out that women, LGBT writers and writers of colour have always been part of the genre, from the very beginning on (quite literally, since Mary Shelley and Margaret Cavendish, two of the earliest SFF writers, were women).

On the other hand, Charles Payseur points out at Quick Sip Reviews that puppies and other reactionaries have always been part of the genre as well and that the puppies are but the symptom of a larger problem, namely that there are a lot of people who resent change and idolize a monocultural past that never existed. And now that those people feel under siege, because things are finally getting a little bit better, they strike back.

We are currently seeing a variation on the same phenomenon here in Germany. The conservative CDU under Angela Merkel has finally morphed into a party that takes the the Christian bit in its name (CDU stands for Christian Democratic Union) seriously and welcomes refugees fleeing various civil wars and undemocratic systems in the Middle East and Africa (it’s not just Syria, but also Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia, Mali, etc…) and coincidentally has also finally become a party I can imagine myself voting for and promptly we get a backlash from disgruntled and envy-driven petit bourgeois jerks in the form of the AfD and Pegida who can’t handle the fact that their Germany (which was never a place I identified with in the first place) is changing. And once again, these people were always there, they have merely become a lot bolder instead of keeping their hateful views to themselves. Personally, I also think we’ve been too tolerant towards these hateful people for too long – there is a reason I wrote Christmas Eve at the Purple Owl Café, because the person who was disinvited from an event (though it was a New Year’s Day rather than a Christmas party) for refusing to tolerate the presence of a horrible racist, that was me.

Charles Payseur also links to the crowdfunding campaign of Rosarium Publishing, a company which specialises in SFF by diverse authors. I already linked to the campaign over at the Speculative Fiction Showcase, where that sort of thing usually goes, but since it’s a really worthy project, here is the link again.

At The Hysterical Hamster, Ian Mond shares his thoughts about the Hugo and Clarke Award shortlist and points out that one is much better than the other. We largely agree on the Hugo nominated novels, though I like Jim Butcher better than he does. As for the Clarke Award, Ian Mond doesn’t much care for The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, which I enjoyed a whole lot, but loves Europe at Midnight by Dave Hutchinson, which I don’t care for.

While we’re on the subject of the Arthur C. Clarke Awards, which celebrate their 30th anniversary this year, at The Guardian Clarke Award director Tom Hunter looks back on thirty years of Clarke Awards and wonders what the future holds for the award.

Meanwhile, Nina Allen also compares the Clarke Awards positively to the Hugos and not just because they have the better shortlist, but also because the fact that the Clarke Awards are juried makes gaming and log-rolling attempts like what the puppies did in 2015 and 2016 impossible. She also believes that the fan awards like the Hugos don’t generate as much critical discussion. But then, the Clarke Awards don’t normally generate a whole lot of critical discussion outside the jury either – except that one year when Christopher Priest decided to insult the entire shortlist, including calling Charles Stross a yapping internet puppy before “puppy” was a serious insult in SFF circles, and promptly caused a massive genre uproar.

Nina Allen goes on to discuss the perception that the Clarke Award tends to reward for literary than core genre works (not true) as well as its record with regard to diversity of the nominees. It’s a really great post in general, so just go over there and read it.

ETA 1: The Hugo ballot may be blessedly free of John C. Wright’s work this year, but at his blog Mr. Wright still shares his displeasure with media coverage of the Hugo Awards in his inimitable overblown style (and also finds the time to get the vapours, because The Flash has a) gay supporting characters and b) Joe West behaves like a reasonable adult and does not murder his partner Eddie for having a sexual relationship with his adult daughter Iris). George R.R. Martin takes the time to respond to John C. Wright with a quite delightful take-down.

ETA 2: At Bleeding Cool, Rich Johnston reports about a controversy involving one of this year’s fan artist nominees. In this case, I fear I’m with the artist. It’s a crappy piece of art, for sure, but I don’t think it should be illegal.

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