10 Hugo Thoughts

The 2015 Hugo nominees were announced yesterday. As much of the internet has noted, the vast majority of the nominees come from the Sad and/or Rabid Puppies slates. Most reactions seem to fall into either anger/grief or gloating/triumph, with very little in between. Personally, I’m happy about a few of the nominees, intrigued by a couple, and rolling my eyes at others.

Some thoughts before I get back to writing…

1. The puppies broke the rules! Well, no. Putting forth an organized slate, recruiting GamerGaters and others who buy into the “War Against the SJWs, for FREEDOM!” nonsense is perfectly legal. Tacky and at times dishonest? Sure. But not against the rules.

2. The puppies are only doing what the Other Side did first! Some folks blame John Scalzi for starting this, but try as I might, I can’t find anything about his Bacon Kittens campaign to take the Hugos back from…I don’t even know. I’ve seen references to SJW conspiracies and secret meetings in smoke-filled rooms, again with no evidence whatsoever. Some people try to point to voting numbers as “proof” of organized campaigns, which…just no. (Kevin Standlee dismantles this one in the follow-up comment.) As far as I can tell, there’s a widespread assumption that the “other side” was somehow organizing secret campaigns and block-voting, and that assumption is being used to justify the puppies organizing a campaign and block-voting.

3. They’re destroying the genre! Whatever “they” you’re thinking of, I don’t buy it. The genre is so much bigger than the Hugos, Worldcon, GamerGate, and the rest. The majority of SF/F fans have only the vaguest awareness of what the Hugo is, let alone the in-fighting and politics and such. Don’t worry, the genre will be just fine.

4. They’re destroying the Hugos! There were claims that the Hugos could be gamed and manipulated, and I think the puppies have effectively proven that’s true, at least for the short list. Does this mean the Hugos are broken? Not necessarily. Does it mean the rules should be changed to make it more difficult to game the system? I don’t really have an opinion on that yet, though I’m sure there will be plenty of discussion in the near future…

5. People should read the works and judge based on quality/People should rank all puppy-related works below No Award. My thinking is that people should read and vote however they want to. If you prefer to read everything, go for it. But I’m not going to tell someone they should force themselves to read the work of someone who publicly denounces a prominent black author as an “ignorant half-savage,” or an author who refers to bisexuality as “sexual aberration.” And if organizing a slate is within the rules, so is choosing to put every item on that slate below No Award on the final ballot.

6. They’re just trying to expand the ballot and make it more inclusive/representative/diverse. I can see a little of that, if I squint. The puppies pushed to get a successful self-published author onto the ballot, for example. They talked about getting tie-in works nominated, but didn’t actually include any on their slate. They did give tie-in author Kevin J. Anderson his first Hugo nom for one of his original books. But if your campaign ends up putting the same author on the ballot in six different spots, then no, you weren’t looking very broadly for nominees. And far more of the comments and rhetoric seemed to be about sticking it to SJWs…

7. The people who asked to be removed from the puppy ballots did so out of fear of SJW attacks. That certainly plays well into the wag-the-dog-style “War Against the SJWs” rhetoric. If you’re interested in people’s actual reasons, Matthew David Surridge has a long and thoughtful post about why he declined to be on the slate. Dave Creek’s reasons for declining are on File770.

8. What about that one story about the dinosaur? Holy crap, some people are so fixated on the fact that Rachel Swirsky’s If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love got on the Hugo ballot last year. (It did not win.) That one story keeps getting pointed out as proof of everything that’s wrong with the Hugos/liberals/the genre/feminism/society/the universe. The amusing part is when the folks saying they want to tear down the mythical gatekeepers are simultaneously losing their shit because they don’t think a story counts as real SF/F.

9. Conservatives are evil! Liberals are evil! SJWs are narrowminded bigots! Right-wingers are narrowminded bigots! Look, all groups have their share of assholes. I do think the Sad Puppy clique has a disproportionate number of assholes, but sweeping generalizations are just…annoying. Can we not, please?

10. If you don’t vote, you can’t complain. Bullshit. Nobody should be required to cough up a minimum of $40 in order to have an opinion.

And that’s already more time than I wanted to spend on this today. I’m gonna go back to work on Revisionary now. Enjoy what’s left of your weekend, folks!