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Next year's Hugos: What I'm going to do

Mike Glyer over at File 770 has a tremendous assembly of reaction to the Hugo Awards, including some truly epic whining from the Sad Puppies (and my own post from Sunday morning). The votes were clearly cast against the slates on principle (apart from BDP) rather than on the quality of the work - there is no other way to read the figures. I'm sure that voters were motivated in this by 1) a general reaction against slates, 2) dislike of the politics of the slatemongers and 3) disgust at the poor quality of some of the slated candidates, in I think roughly that order, and I don't see any point in pretending that the votes against, say, Weisskopf and Gilbert were motivated by a strong feeling that Liz Gorinsky was in fact the best editor of the year rather than by the feeling that Weisskopf and Gilbert were on the ballot through illegitimate tactics. Fans rejected their candidacy not because of the quality of their work, but because of how they had got there (though it should be added that Weisskopf supplied very little evidence in her own support).

That wasn't quite as harsh a reaction as I would have liked, of course. Like Matt Foster, I would have preferred No Award to win in the categories where there was only one non-puppy candidate, and therefore no clear choice between legitimate candidates. This view came closest to prevailing in Best Novelette, where No Award actually got the most first preferences but lost on transfers from slated works. However, fandom as a whole clearly took the view that it is preferable to hand out the rockets to non-slate candidates, to make sure that the message is heard loud and clear, and I certainly do not begrudge or challenge the victories of Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Julie Dillon, Journey Planet, Laura J. Mixon and Wesley Chu, all of whom got my second preference.

Having had 48 hours to let it sink in that a clear majority of voting fans simply rejected the slate, I am basically sad but relieved, and still angry at those who cannot accept that they did a stupid, venal and evil thing which fandom at large refused to tolerate. Mike Glyer's roundup catches the most prominent frothing responses, but there is plenty more out there. But now that it is all over, there is little point in reading the words of people I disagree with for the sake of being outraged.

Instead, I recognise that my own failure to nominate this year was part of the problem, and I am going to make damn sure that between now and the nomination deadline in 2016 I have read much more widely in this year's published SF, including short fiction, graphic stories and related works, and I will aim to nominate five in each category. Brandon Kempner published a watchlist for novels some time ago, and there are a couple of other initiatives here and here covering more categories. I shall also regularly review where I've got to and what I currently feel like nominating. (At present the only SF published in 2015 that I have read is the four Doctor Who spinoff novels, of which the best is City of Death, but I know that they are unlikely to get on the final ballot and will save my nominations for more likely candidates.)

The more people who do this, the more likely that we can cut off any renewed attempt at slate-mongering at the nominations stage. Don't (just) get mad; get even.


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 25th, 2015 11:04 am (UTC)
I agree entirely with your last two paragraphs in particular. I read some terrible writing this year in order to cast some properly informed votes. I am rather looking forward to reading some good writing to make informed nominations next year.
Aug. 25th, 2015 11:50 am (UTC)
How do the additional nominations help dillute the (Puppies') slate's ability to get their stuff on the ballot?
Aug. 25th, 2015 12:24 pm (UTC)
The more nominations are made, the more diluted the contribution to the nominations from any one faction.
Aug. 25th, 2015 02:31 pm (UTC)
Thanks - and see also my reply to newandrewhickey.

Aug. 25th, 2015 12:50 pm (UTC)
There are something like 15000 people with the ability to nominate (plus whoever signs up for next year). There are only 500 Puppies. The Puppies got their choices onto the ballot because there were only a couple of thousand people nominating last time, and the Puppies did so in lockstep.
Given that there are only a relatively small number of SFF books released in a year, one can assume that the most popular of those (say the third volume in Leckie's Ancillary series when it comes out, Stross' most recent Laundry book, the sequel to Three Body Problem, Neal Stephenson's Seveneves, the new Pratchett if it's any good, a few others) will get more than 500 nominations if 15000 people nominate, even with no coordination.
There'll be less consensus about the short fiction nominations, but I can imagine that enough people will vote for any popular authors like Scalzi or Kowal who publish short fiction on the bigger sites, like tor.com, that there'll be a few things that beat the Puppies there, too.
Aug. 25th, 2015 02:30 pm (UTC)

I think the thing I'd missed was that the pool of potential nominators was orders of magnitude greater than the size of the puppies grouping and that, given as you say a relatively small number of well fancied runners, if most of those 15,000 plus people nominate their favourites of those then the ability, in practise, of the puppies to command the slate is limited.

It's a practical effect rather than a mechanistic one

I think I'd been expecting something about the mechanics of the nomition process as is to kick in if more people nominated and couldn't see what that was.

Aug. 25th, 2015 02:39 pm (UTC)
Indeed. However, from 2017 on (if the decision made this year is ratified next year) there *will* be all sorts of interesting mechanistic things at play -- while the final vote will remain AV, the nomination stage will be by Single Divisible Vote (see http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/2485413.html ) which will make it very, very interesting for those of us who love unusual election systems.
Aug. 25th, 2015 02:55 pm (UTC)
As someone who's love of unusal voting systems has recently been ratified by no less a person than Anthony Tuffin I've been reading about E Pluribus Hugo with great interest and thinking about it quite a lot over the last few days.

That should significantly reduce the ability of a slate to gain a disproportionate number of slots on the ballot and if it doesn't in practise then something like 4 and 6 or 5 and 8 in addition should keep the nomination process from being disproportionately gamed.
Aug. 25th, 2015 04:20 pm (UTC)
I'm now 95% certain to go to Kansas just to make sure we ratify. However, EPH and 4/6 aren't actually mutually exclusive and I suspect we will, actually, ratify both - possibly with another attempt to switch 4/6 to 5/8 - I suspect had several of us not been tired and hungover we'd have called for a division on 5/8 but boy were we tired.

However, that's not the only thing up for ratification - we also get to ratify the removal of the 5% which should make the short categories better too.

The only question remains is what stroke is Mr Beale going to pull next year and can we just ignore it? I fully expect him to take a couple of hostages (I'm leaning towards the next Leckie myself) - but I think we've set a clear precedent with 3BP and the Long Form award, that he can do what he likes but if people believe the work would be there anyway, it'll be voted for clearly.
Aug. 26th, 2015 11:54 am (UTC)

I prefer 5 and 8 to 4 and 6.

And I think EPH and X and Y in some form would work well together.
Aug. 25th, 2015 04:05 pm (UTC)
There are only 500 *sad* Puppies and 500 *rabid* Puppies (total of a thousand or so) *NOW*. They are both already working out their strategy to make next year's campaign far larger. I wouldn't go by these numbers. After all, if you went by the prior year's numbers the Puppies were almost meaningless.
Aug. 25th, 2015 04:40 pm (UTC)
You're right that there are a thousand, rather than five hundred, people who voted for things on the Puppy slates. I'm not sure all of them count as Puppies, as some people will have voted on the works' supposed merits, but my number was still off.
However, I don't believe that the Puppies will be able to get a significantly larger number of people involved. Part of the Puppies' success was because right-wing publications like Breitbart gave them significant coverage -- as the US election heats up, that won't happen, as they won't need to fill space for hits.
Another part was that some legitimate-ish authors and publications allowed their names to be used. Now it's been made clear that being involved with either Puppy slate will be about as good for a career as punching every reader in the face, that won't happen. And the Sad Puppies no longer look moderate, now Torgerson is regularly going into frothing rages (I already assume that "Day" has reached his own maximum number of followers).
Most importantly, they look like losers now. You can persuade people to pay $40 to "stick it to the SJWs", but not to have "the SJWs" laugh at them in public.

None of which means that more people nominating *will* stop them doing the same again -- it may well not. But it's the only action we *can* take for 2016, and it has some possibility of success. EPH should fix 2017.
Aug. 25th, 2015 02:41 pm (UTC)
I have started keeping a list of things I have encountered so far this year that seem Hugo-worthy (and -eligible) to me. I will probably share it early in the New Year. I don't know that I will necessarily nominate in the categories I don't normally consume, but I will certainly consider doing so and will probably use other people's rec lists to help point me in the right direction in those cases, so that I don't have to spend too much time wading through the dross in unfamiliar territory.
Aug. 25th, 2015 11:24 pm (UTC)
I will probably share it early in the New Year

Please do, Jennie'll be able to nominate for the first time next year and I'm hoping to be able to, but it's unlikely we'll both see enough stuff to nominate a full slate, but if others recommend stuff to read then there's a better chance, etc.
Aug. 26th, 2015 09:32 am (UTC)
One useful way of finding eligible short (under 1500 words) stories is signing up to http://dailysciencefiction.com/ 's mailing list -- they email you a new short story every day, and while not all of them are good (they're even publishing one by me, soon, so they must set the bar low), I'd be surprised if you couldn't at least find a handful of good ones with little effort. Certainly the best of the "real nominees" this year -- When It Ends, He Catches Her, by Eugie Foster -- came from there.
Aug. 25th, 2015 04:11 pm (UTC)
I really am annoyed by the Puppies. To a great extent because I think their entire campaign is wrongheaded in so many ways, but also because as an SF/F author their actions are ALREADY directly impacting me negatively.

I published three Hugo-eligible novels (and at least one short story) this year (Castaway Planet, Polychrome, and Phoenix in Shadow; note that "eligible" of course does not mean "worthy"). Because of the Puppy campaign, there are readers who have decided to swear off reading Baen books at all (because many of the noisiest Puppies are Baen authors), so two of my books have now lost readers (and the third being self-published means not many people WILL read it).

And because I do not agree with the Puppies at all, I will be forced to rebuff them if they were to choose to include me, which could easily backfire on me. It also means I have to be fairly circumspect in my postings on the subject because I don't LIKE getting into big brouhahas online any more, and any loud public statement of my position will draw their fire.

I am not the only author in this position, either.

Damn Puppies need to get off our lawns.
Aug. 25th, 2015 04:25 pm (UTC)
I, too, was annoyed by the Heuvelt win because I just didn't think it was that good a story.

While a lot of people were saying we must read more and nominate, something I was guilty of not doing either, I still think the flaw in the process is such that if Beale motivates the 550 or so obvious Rabids who are eligible to vote he will have almost no problem stuffing several of the categories under the current rules.

We'll see.

That said, I suspect we will be more relaxed next year - we know how big the Beale problem is, and we now know that when push come to shove the people who give a damn about the Hugos will win every time. As we'll have the nomination process fixed to everybody's satisfaction by 2017 (even RequiresHoyt is behind it) we can get back to the books.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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