April 12th, 2015


Links I found interesting for 12-04-2015


On why George R.R. Martin is wrong: No Awarding the slate

When I saw the domination of this year's Hugo finalists by a slate of works nominated by a misogynist racist and his colluders, my immediate reaction was that I should vote "No Award" ahead of every one of their nominations, no questions asked or quarter given. (I was not alone.)

There has been some debate about this in the last week. Notably, George R.R. Martin, John Scalzi and Mary Robinette Kowal all advocate assessing the Hugo finalists on merit, ie giving the slate nominations an equal chance. On the other hand, Phil Sandifer and Adam Roberts advocate voting No Award in every category, on the grounds that all of this year's Hugos are irretrievably tainted. I certainly don't agree with the latter position; there are no slate nominees in the Best Fan Artist category, and I can certainly choose between the five finalists there with a clear conscience

I was beginning to lean a bit towards making some allowance for those who were unwittingly included on the slate, but do not share its creator's racist and misogynist agenda, such as Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Annie Bellet and Edmund Schubert. Why should they be penalised because of my feelings about the decisions made by others?

But I'm back at my original position. The fact is that most of the slate nominees are on the ballot, not because people enjoyed and appreciated their work and decided to reward them with a Hugo nomination, but because the slate told its supporters to vote that way and they did so, sight unseen. All of the slate nominations are therefore unacceptable, a point made well by Matt Foster, whose wife Eugie, might well have had a chance at a nomination if the slate had not intervened. She will never have another chance to win a Hugo, because she died last September. She, and many other potential finalists, have lost out through the actions of the slate supporters, and by considering the slate nominees at all we compound the damage to them and to us. (Matt's posts in general are a thoughtful and sad response to the situation.)

I agree that some slate nominees are less undeserving than others. Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine does great work, and it's a shame that they have been previously overlooked. I hope that will be put right in future years. But the fact is that at least 94 people nominated ASIM this year, whereas in 2013 and 2014 it did not even get into double figures. Along with one of its former editors, whose post on Facebook crystallised these thoughts for me, I simply do not believe that another 84-plus voters suddenly started browsing the ASIM website in the last twelve months, and then reached the point of enthusiasm where they nominated it in good faith alongside John C. Wright's fiction and Vox Day's editorial skills. In fact, I bet that 90% of those who nominated it have never even looked at it, but simply accepted the instructions of the slate.

The list of Hugo finalists has been rigged, and rigged to fit the agenda of a misogynist racist who clearly states that he wants to destroy the Hugos and whose slate designed for that purpose got 61 of its 67 candidates onto the list. (Three of those 61 declined nomination, and one of them has explained why at length.) These nominations were made out of spite, not out of love for the genre, let alone for the Hugos. I feel sorry for those unwittingly caught in the scheme, but there is only one way for me to cast my vote, and that is to rank "No Award" above all the slate candidates. Deirdre Saorse Moen has helpfully listed the remaining finalists.

Two more thoughts. First, I see (second-hand) reports of abusive messages and threats being sent directly to the slate organisers. This is wrong, stupid, dangerous, and a waste of energy. The way to win this is to engage the uncommitted and confused middle ground, not to yell at those who already disagree with you and are entrenched in their positions, let alone to threaten them. It's a very lazy option, sending someone a rude message and then relaxing in the righteous and erroneous glow of having achieved something thereby. Two wrongs don't make a right. Having said that, I note the complaints by the henchmen of the chief slate organiser that they are being unfairly described as racists, when one is married to an African-American and the other is Hispanic. Well, there are words for people in either of those situations who collude with racists on political projects; and one of the politest of those words is "fool". If you choose to ally with a notorious bigot, I am not obliged to research your family circumstances before passing comment.

Second, while I'm unexcited about most of the changes to procedure that have been recommended (though Mike Scott has a good thought), because they will take a couple of years to implement, there is other action that can be taken immediately. Mary Robinette Kowal proposes to donate supporting (ie Hugo-voting) memberships of Sasquan to anyone who asks, unconditionally. As noted above, I think Kowal is wrong on how we individual voters should approach the ballot, but she is dead right that the best future path is a more open and inclusive voting process, and kudos to her for proposing a practical way of making that happen.

2015 Hugos: Initial observations | Voting No Award above the slates | How the slate was(n't) crowdsourced | Where the new voters are
Best Novel | Short fiction | Best Related Work | Best Graphic Story | Pro and Fan Artist | Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form), Best Fan Writer, John W. Campbell Award