The Hugos

If you’re focused at all on the Hugo Awards, by now you know that the Sad and Rabid Puppy slate was soundly defeated by an avalanche of “No Award” votes, and that the fallout is beginning to spin in multiple directions. This is, alas, almost certainly not over.

For those interested in the two spins, here is the Wired article, that paints one story, and the Brietbart article that paints the opposite.

Looking back on it all, my own take is pretty much this:

  1. The Rabids pulled of a feat worthy of a high school Sophomore by legally, but idiotically, stealing the nomination vote. Most people, in moments of clarity, would call this “pulling a dick move.” To them, this was equivalent to stealing your rival’s mascot the night before the big game.
  2. The Sads have been horrifically tone deaf to every element of the situation (though I believe them a little when they say their primary goal is to return the field to its laser-gun roots).
  3. The Sads’ tone deafness allowed the Rabids to use them as their mouthpiece.
  4. The Rabids are anarchists at heart, and consider anything that increases entropy around a case to be a “win” (as such they are, of course, declaring victory today).
  5. Being human beings, the Sads have now defended their stupendously flawed logic by doubling down on their position so many times that it’s impossible for them to acknowledge they were wrong—even if they ever figure out they were.
  6. The magnitude of the numbers pretty much show how out of touch they are.

I have no idea what will happen going forward. I suspect this is not one that will blow over, though. Larry C., Brad T., and their gang have pretty much burned whatever bridges there are to burn, so if there are long term ramifications to them, we’ll clearly be able to find out. My guess is that their fan base will grow due to the Trump effect if nothing else.

In the meantime, I see the voting results as a firm response from the SF world as a whole, a world that despite commentary to the opposite, is a broad thing. Yes, the historical core is getting older, but Fandom is not “old.” And the historical core leans heavily toward white and male, but Fandom is not “white and male.” Fandom is changing. It’s hard to quantify, but it’s getting to be a bigger and different thing than it ever was. I was smugly proud of the folks in Spokane this week. I liked that they stood as a whole and made a statement that was a firm rebuke to the Rabids (and by association, the Sads). It was the community standing up and saying: “Go away, Dudes. This is not how we play the game in my house.”

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Posted in Awards, Science Fiction.


  1. I am reluctant to comment on the Sad Puppies situation because I am still somewhat clueless as to precisely what happened. I read an article that said that the Sad Puppies were trying to prove a point, and believe they did. Their perspective seems to be that the Hugo vote was already biased and politically influenced, but that bias and influence was relatively hidden. They seem to be claiming that they just did what the entrenched establishment has been doing for a while, only they did it in the open so that everyone could see how easily it could be done.

    Hugo controversies have taken place in the past. I remember there being a bit of a brouhaha when Arthur C. Clarke’s “Rendezvous with Rama” won over Heinlein’s “Time Enough for Love.” There were many arguments on both sides of the table as to why an epic adventure tale was passed over for what some characterized as a documentary style journey of exploration, explained in boring, excruciating detail. Included in the explanation was how “Time Enough for Love” was not “really” a science fiction novel.

    Regardless of controversy, I still have to wonder from a very objective perspective whether there is a “right” or “wrong” in this situation. It seems that a bit of name-calling is in progress, and accusations of bias all around, and I am a bit puzzled by it all.

  2. Regardless of what one thinks of the Puppy’s arguments (and if you’re interested, I would go read George RR Martin’s many blog posts just as a reasonable viewpoint), the one thing that I think speaks volumes about their mindset is their extremely aggressive choice of coordinated block voting, wherein several hundred people just agreed to nominate the exact same slate. I think the general public as a whole sees this as counter to “fair” practices when it comes to voting on something artistic, where opinions vary.

    Essentially, it says that this multiple hundred person group all agree that these five works are without variation the best the field has to offer, which is a ludicrous thing to imagine multiple hundred people doing. So, the fact is that one guy (a very, very hard-right guy who goes by the pseudonym Vox Day, and who just happens to publish several of the writers on the slate) just directed a bunch of people to vote his slate, and they did.

    The future may prove me wrong, but I think the final vote basically says, “hold the freaking presses, we’re not going to allow this kind of crap to win.”

  3. I agree that having X number of people pre-ordain a set group of winners in a block vote is problematic. It seems unlikely that hundreds of voters would all choose the same group of winners. It also seems unfair that someone would attempt to pre-ordain winners. I have seen people take out advertisements in the past trying to gain Hugo votes, but that is different than the Sad Puppies approach.

    If these people really want to ordain who is going to win, perhaps they should start their own awards. They could be the Sad Poopies awards…

  4. Yes. I should also state that a vast majority of the Puppy’s characterization of the awards’ recent past and logic is quantifiably incorrect, and generally can be laid quite easily next to the kind of stuff I see from today’s Men’s Rights groups. So (to me) for them to call the Kettle “political” is quite a thing coming from such a pot.

  5. Starting to gain a better picture here. Bits and pieces are starting to come together. So, is this a “white guys are always finishing last” thing? Sorry, but the days when the Hugos were dominated by white guys is long gone just because the author pool is much more diverse. I doubt seriously if most fans vote for Hugos based on whether the authors are any particular race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, etc.

  6. Another way of looking at it…if the Puppy slate had won the day, their argument would be that the “average” SF fan is on their side of the fence. But they lost in a landslide. (Favorite quote from somewhere else: there is a difference between a slate and a landslide).

  7. This year’s slate is noted by Puppy followers as being “diverse” but if you go do the actual study you find it is by far, far, far the least diverse group of nominees in years. Of the twenty some literary selections, for example, there were a total of three women on the slate. Over the past several years the numbers have been roughly even, with some allotment for random variance.

    Can you say “spin?”

    I knew you could.

    The data suggests gender of the author played no part in the nominees until this year, when suddenly being male could be said (by the numbers) to have made a big difference.

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