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Hugo short fiction categories: my votes

I have often whined about the quality or suitability of some of the Hugo finalists in previous years. For instance, I considered that two of last year's short fiction finalists were not very sfnal, and I voted them down accordingly (as did, I note, the voters as a whole - neither won in its category); and the pool of nominators and candidates for all the short fiction categories has sometimes seemed shallow and even dry in places. I don't think anyone believes that the Hugos infallibly catalogue the best of the genre. 

That of course is a very different position from concluding that the entire nominations process is steered by a secret left-wing conspiracy (it isn't, and never was), let alone nominating your own choice of bad stories rather than the ones you fear might otherwise make the ballot. Even less is it a justification for attempting to destroy the awards entirely, just because you and your friends never win.

But I'll admit that I too bear some responsibility. I'm one of those people who in the past has rarely nominated short fiction for the Hugos because I don't actually read that much of it as it comes out. I have looked to the BSFA shortlist and the Hugos themselves to inform my short fiction reading, and then the anthologies that come out later in the year. My personal reading style is to try and get through the mountains of unread books, mostly novels, on the shelves by my bed. Maybe I need to start seeking out short fiction more proactively.

On a happier note, I'm inclined to feel that the high-profile press coverage of the last three weeks, which has been generally pretty hostile to the slates, will have motivated people who previously passively appreciated the Hugos, but did not feel sufficiently invested in the outcome to take part. Now they do and they will. There will be significantly increased participation in both voting this year and nominating next year. That has to be a good thing in itself, and it's a good chance to bring genuinely greater diversity to the voter base. The slate architects deserve no credit whatsoever for this, as their intention was to pull a political stunt rather than actually to improve matters.

To the short fiction categories.

Best Short Story

Four of the five finalists in this category are on the ballot because of an organised campaign by a racist misogynist whose declared aim is to destroy the Hugos, rather than because of their ostensible literary merit, and the fifth is there because of an allied campaign whose organisers have made it clear that they have no problem in colluding with the organiser of the more successful campaign which has dominated the nominations this year. Their position on the ballot is illegitimate and they will not get my vote.

I am not interested in the views of those nominated on either the process or more general political issues; it just seems to me pretty clear that if you don't want a racist misogynist whose declared aim is to destroy the Hugos to succeed, it's better not to vote for those candidates that he has pushed onto the ballot. My vote will therefore have a single preference:

1) No Award

Even if I could put aside the circumstances of the nomination process, I would have difficulty in voting for some of the finalists. The behaviour of at least two of the authors would make me hesitate about giving them a chance to strut onto the stage as winners, regardless of the merits of their fiction.

Best Novelette

Four of the finalists in this category are on the ballot because of an organised campaign by a racist misogynist whose declared aim is to destroy the Hugos, rather than because of their ostensible literary merit. Their position on the ballot is illegitimate and they will not get my vote.

It must be admitted that this is one of the more respectable parts of the slate, though also a category where any pretension to "democratic" or "transparent" crowdsourcing was simply abandoned. I'm particularly sorry to lose the chance to vote on Michael F. Flynn's story. I've generally enjoyed his fiction, and often voted for it. But not this year.

My vote will therefore have two preferences:

1) No Award
2) "The Day the World Turned Upside Down", Thomas Olde Heuvelt

I'm afraid that once again Olde Heuvelt's writing has failed to grab me. The story is close in spirit to Ted Chiang and to last year's winner by John Chu, but I felt it did not have the same finesse of execution. Chance Morrison has given her own typically caustic take on the story; it lost me with gur tbyqsvfu va gur 7 Hc obggyr; fheryl gur pbapragengvba bs pneoba qvbkvqr naq gnegnevp npvq jbhyq xvyy gur cbbe perngher bss?

However, if through some awful chain of circumstances my vote should be decisive in whether the Hugo (or one of the lower places in this category) goes to "The Day the World Turned Upside Down" or to one of the slate nominees, I would prefer that "The Day the World Turned Upside Down" won and the slate nominee lost; I am therefore giving it my second preference.

Best Novella

All five finalists in this category are on the ballot because of an organised campaign by a racist misogynist whose declared aim is to destroy the Hugos, rather than because of their ostensible literary merit. Their position on the ballot is illegitimate and they will not get my vote. My ballot will therefore have a single preference:

1) No Award

Even if I could put aside the circumstances of the nomination process, I would again have difficulty in voting for some of the finalists. Three of the nominated stories are by an author whose online conduct has been so grotesque that I would be disinclined to give him the chance to appear as a winner even if I liked his writing. (I did like some of his early work, but have been less enthusiastic about his more recent output.) One of the other two is by an author who has repeatedly resorted to obscene and vicious abuse of those who disagree with him, and again I don't particularly want to reward that behaviour. This is not about political views; it is about professionalism.

I have not engaged in systematic research on the behaviour and views of all nominated authors, and I'm not interested in finding out more about any of them at this stage, because as I have said this isn't going to sway my vote. In any case I am dubious about demanding loyalty oaths - or disloyalty oaths, for that matter - from writers or indeed anyone. I am just recording what I've noticed in general reading around this year's Hugos, and I suspect I am not alone in making some of those judgements.

Sorry to be grim. But we are in grim circumstances.

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

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
livejournal
Apr. 25th, 2015 05:31 pm (UTC)
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manjushra
Apr. 25th, 2015 05:43 pm (UTC)
Good old Noah Ward. He'll be celebrating!
nwhyte
Apr. 25th, 2015 05:57 pm (UTC)
He's been waiting a long time, but at last his time has come!
daveon
Apr. 25th, 2015 05:53 pm (UTC)
I'm not quite as far along reading myself, I've read the Wright's, or at least as much as I could deal with before his style of prose got to me...

I did try and read the Heuvelt, and I hope that my issue was more with the translation than the writing, as it just didn't work for me either.

Given that, I'll be voting 1. No Award, 2. Heuvelt - but I have read Wright's entries and have no issue not bothering to put them down. The best I can muster is they're not as terrible as Opera was.
nwhyte
Apr. 25th, 2015 05:58 pm (UTC)
Actually it sounds like you're further along with reading the lists than I am! I've only read the Olde Hauvelt, and am not actively planing to read more.
secritcrush
Apr. 26th, 2015 10:42 am (UTC)
I'd rather read about the most powerful wizard-elf in all the land than the manpain associated with being a rapist.
daveon
Apr. 26th, 2015 07:14 pm (UTC)
The pages I read of the Elf Wizard were badly written and shit. The John C Wright stuff wasn't as badly written but yea gods it was boring - I didn't get to any mansplaining as his style was about as engaging as his blog posts and his faux 'British' English was bollocks.
catsittingstill
Apr. 25th, 2015 11:40 pm (UTC)
I'm not going to vote a slate work above no award. I do intend to read them however (and have been working my way through SFSignal's useful page of links for that purpose) because I need to know what deserves to go in the (hard fought, I expect) sixth place slot.

Annie Bellet withdrew: her story would have been my favorite, I think--not that this is great praise this year, but it was far and away the best of the pack. "Totaled" is... it's okay. Kind of a flowers for Algernon kind of thing. "Turncoat" is less okay; ravening space beams do not interest me much and I'm tired of AIs or uploaded intelligences that destroy human kind. "On a Spiritual Plain" is grey goo for me and the errors of basic physics annoy me, and "Parliament" is just inexplicable. Given that the only mention of women is as temple whores (with the next couple of sentences being about venereal disease) and the only other female character is an avatar of disloyalty, I feel that it has richly earned its last place showing and am rather sorry Bellet withdrew, because that means I can only put it in *fifth* place.

Note that I by no means insist others read the works. My intent to do so is driven in part by morbid curiosity, in fact. A slated work did not make it to the ballot fairly and nobody owes it their time.
nwhyte
Apr. 26th, 2015 05:56 am (UTC)
Thanks for the info. I may have a look at "Totaled", though I don;t think that will change my mind. Were you able to look at the Samurai one?
catsittingstill
Apr. 26th, 2015 02:40 pm (UTC)
Oh, oops; thank you for mentioning that; I didn't notice that one in among all the links. It doesn't seem to be available free on the web, and at this point I am not minded to pay money into the hands of slate supporters to get their works (A Single Samurai is on the Sad Puppies Slate.)

If it's in the packet, I'll read it then.

On the bright side, if I can get hold of it, that means the sixth place slot is available after all.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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