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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

Comments

( 37 comments — Leave a comment )
sbisson
Apr. 12th, 2015 01:19 pm (UTC)
I've worked out how I am doing things.

I am going to vote on what I think of as qualified merit: but I will leave off items that are not worthy of a Hugo, and I will rank No Award above slate titles. That way I think the ASIMs of the world get recognition, but the tainted nature of their nomination is recognised at the same time. Kind of like the (*) in the Baseball Hall Of Fame...
martin_wisse
Apr. 12th, 2015 02:27 pm (UTC)
I don't believe anybody has sent death threats to the Puppies; they've lied about everything else, so I don't trust them to not lie about this.

Meanwhile, personally I am starting to lean towards No Awarding everything and sorting it out in the retro Hugos because of the Puppy taint. How can I vote for best novel when only two out of five candidates are there on merit?
nwhyte
Apr. 12th, 2015 03:01 pm (UTC)
How can I vote for best novel when only two out of five candidates are there on merit?

That is indeed a fair point.

I'm sorry, by the way, that we did not get to talk at Eastercon. We were obviously in the same room at the same time at least once - thanks for tweeting my soundbite on Sunday night! - but I failed to identify you and introduce myself.
(no subject) - drplokta - Apr. 12th, 2015 03:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - catsittingstill - Apr. 12th, 2015 03:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nwhyte - Apr. 12th, 2015 05:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sbisson - Apr. 12th, 2015 03:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
la_marquise_de_
Apr. 12th, 2015 03:01 pm (UTC)
My editor at DAW, Sheila Gilbert, is another one who the puppies listed without her knowledge or consent. They seem to have picked her name up from previous Hugo shortlists -- she was a nominee for Best Editor (Long Form) in 2013 and 2014, too. She's liberal, feminist and supportive of writers of all backgrounds, genders, sexualities, beliefs and political views.
She's not happy.
druidsass
Apr. 12th, 2015 04:21 pm (UTC)
Can you link me to somewhere she's said that? I'm planning to treat slate candidates who have publicly distanced themselves from the Puppy project the same as the non-slate nominees, but to rank No Award above all the remaining slate nominees.
(no subject) - la_marquise_de_ - Apr. 12th, 2015 04:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - druidsass - Apr. 12th, 2015 05:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ethelmay - Apr. 13th, 2015 12:06 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - druidsass - Apr. 13th, 2015 11:55 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ethelmay - Apr. 13th, 2015 03:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
minnesattva
Apr. 12th, 2015 03:25 pm (UTC)
I admire all the effort I'm seeing people put into sorting out their voting strategies for this year's Hugos, when it seems like if previous Sad Puppies offerings are anything to go by, the two tactics of voting-on-merit and deliberately-No-Awarding the slate. Because it seems when people try to fairly judge the Sad Puppies' work, it's lacking on merit as much as it is on morality.
nwhyte
Apr. 12th, 2015 03:53 pm (UTC)
secritcrush has been heroically reading the nominees and writing them up!
(no subject) - newandrewhickey - Apr. 12th, 2015 10:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
livejournal
Apr. 12th, 2015 04:29 pm (UTC)
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nwhyte
Apr. 12th, 2015 05:52 pm (UTC)
That is also slightly sad news!
hairyears
Apr. 12th, 2015 06:21 pm (UTC)
The worst offence may well turn out to be bring in Gamergaters.

So far, the worst they've done is vote for a slate of nominations: it's not the worst thing they can do.

This isn't about ethics in games journalism; and neither was 'Gamergate'; it was and is about a hate campaign, and people who pursue it with passionate malice. They're here, and they were invited.
nancylebov
Apr. 12th, 2015 07:04 pm (UTC)
For what it's worth, the Gamergaters seem to have been invited in, but haven't shown up in any significant way-- possibly a few votes.
(no subject) - nwhyte - Apr. 12th, 2015 07:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nancylebov - Apr. 12th, 2015 08:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - daveon - Apr. 12th, 2015 10:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mecurtin - Apr. 13th, 2015 10:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nwhyte - Apr. 14th, 2015 03:41 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mecurtin - Apr. 14th, 2015 04:42 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nwhyte - Apr. 14th, 2015 07:56 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nwhyte - Apr. 12th, 2015 07:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
naomikritzer
Apr. 12th, 2015 09:26 pm (UTC)
I spent way too much time yesterday reading blog posts from Larry Correia, John C. Wright, Sarah Hoyt, and Brad Torgersen, because their claim that "oh gosh, why do people hold us responsible for Vox Day when he had nothing to do with the Sad Puppy slate?" seemed so utterly disingenuous.

Correia, Wright, Hoyt, and Day all identify themselves as members of the "Evil League of Evil," ELoE, and refer to that group as having spent a lot of time discussing the nominees. Brad Torgersen says "we" when talking about the picks, not "I." So their handwringing over the conflation of the Sad and Rabid Puppy slates, and their similar handwringing over being tarred with Vox Day's reputation, just seems like unmitigated bullshit to me. They are close associates. Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas. Lie down with vitriolic, bile-spewing misogynistic racists, and yeah, people will assume -- legitimately -- that you're okay with being associated with vitriolic, bile-spewing, misogynistic racism. VD is in a league of his own, notorious for such charming stances as defending the murder attempt against Malala Yousafzai; he's got the sort of opinions that most people do not invite into their living room, virtual or otherwise.
nwhyte
Apr. 13th, 2015 05:24 am (UTC)
They are caught in a bind of their own making. The fact is that Beale's slate was more successful than Torgerson's, and Torgerson's benefited from some spillover Beale votes. So now Torgerson and Correia are trying to claim credit for Beale's success while simultaneously realising that they should have distanced themselves some time back. Also their unedifying and unsuccessful attempts to call off their supporters' attacks on Tor are grimly amusing. You reap what you sow.
(no subject) - daveon - Apr. 13th, 2015 05:54 am (UTC) - Expand
cogitationitis
Apr. 12th, 2015 11:18 pm (UTC)
It does seem that, by their own admissions, at least some of the SP followers did read the material. It's unclear if they read anything else, though. I think the long list of what missed the ballot will be most instructive; perhaps someone will do a not-a-Hugo for them.
daveon
Apr. 13th, 2015 05:55 am (UTC)
You know I have yet to have a straight answer on that... It seems peculiar to have a slate of things you read and only nominate things on that slate?
(Anonymous)
Apr. 13th, 2015 01:30 pm (UTC)
I think, even more important than the whether a Vox Day project can be tolerated, is the colder question of what incentives we want to create for future years.

I'm taking it as read that slates are bad and a future of one or more influential slates in the Hugos is best avoided.

There are two reasons someone might support a slate: malevolence toward the institution, or genuine desire to get a slated work a prize. People invested in the former are irrelevant - they will do what they will do until they get bored of spending money to troll. They're just a storm to be weathered. People invested in the latter, though, may be discouraged by a strong negative community reaction to slates in general that makes slated works unable to win. And whether or not they will be, they will certainly be encouraged if it works. All the pleading that slates are unfair in the world will have absolutely no effect next to the blunt physical reality that slates win Hugos.

In that case, there will certainly be a Happy Kittens slate next year or the year after, if not several competing slates. It's the only logical reaction and the only way to get non-puppy nominees onto the ballot. And so the future of the Hugos will be one of competing political parties, with nominations decided by gladhanding or bribing slaterunners rather than popularity in the community.

The argument about whether to No Award the slate has mostly circled around matters of abstract principle but it's not an abstract matter about what would be fair this year. It's a very concrete matter of what the 2016, 17 and 18+ awards will look like. A vote for a puppy award - no matter the principles you have in mind while doing so - is a vote for slates.
nwhyte
Apr. 13th, 2015 02:13 pm (UTC)
I largely agree with that. The fact is that the Torgerson/Correia talking point, that these slates have always existed, is completely untrue; but now it risks becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

On a related point, I've had a couple of people come back to me on Twitter saying that if we vote No Award we are letting Beale win. Personally I think that if we vote for the candidates he supported, we are helping him win, which is why I don't propose to do so.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Apr. 13th, 2015 02:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 37 comments — Leave a comment )

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