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Hugo Thoughts: The Editors

Hugo Award LogoHugo voting has officially begun. It sounds like the Hugo voters’ packet won’t be available until later this month, so I’ll probably hold off on sharing my thoughts on most categories, but I thought I could at least jump in and look at the editors on the ballot.

For those looking for a completely puppy-free ballot, there are zero candidates in these two categories who weren’t on the Sad Puppy and/or Rabid Puppy slates. The (SR) after a person’s name means the individual was on both slates. The (R) by Vox Day’s name indicates that he only appeared on his own slate.

Best Editor, Long Form

  • Sheila Gilbert (SR): Disclaimer – Sheila is my editor, and has been for almost a decade. Sheila is one of two senior editors and co-owner of DAW. She was on the Sad Puppy slate this year, but has also made the Hugo ballot twice before without bloc voting or ballot-stuffing shenanigans. I think she could have earned this nomination without canine assistance, just as she’s done in the past. Beyond that, I think she’s a good editor and a good human being. I count myself lucky to be able to continue working with her.
  • Toni Weisskopf (SR): Weisskopf took over at Baen Books after the death of Jim Baen. This is her third year on the ballot. Sad Puppies have pushed her nomination all three years. While I disagree with her on some things (the same could be said about anyone), she’s done some excellent work at Baen.
  • Jim Minz (SR): Minz is the second Baen editor on the ballot this year. (Trivia: He originally worked for Tor.) He’s edited folks like Larry Correia, John Ringo, Hal Duncan, Eric Flint, Terry Goodkind, Nancy Kress, Mercedes Lackey, Elizabeth Moon, Frederik Pohl,and many more. This is Minz’ first time on the ballot, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable for him to be there.
  • Anne Sowards (SR): Sowards is an editor at Ace, and her authors include Jim Butcher, Kat Richardson, Kelly McCullough, and others. She’s never made the Hugo ballot before, but like Minz, she’s certainly earned some cred as an editor.
  • Vox Day (R): No.

Best Editor, Short Form

  • Edmund R. Schubert (SR): “My name is Edmund R. Schubert, and I am announcing my withdrawal from the Hugo category of Best Editor (Short Form). My withdrawal comes with complications, but if you’ll bear with me, I’ll do my best to explain…” His full post is very much worth reading, if you haven’t seen it yet.
  • Jennifer Brozek (SR): Disclaimer – I had a story in Brozek’s anthology Human for a Day. Brozek is a hard-working editor and author, and has been making a name for herself in several areas. She edited four anthologies that came out in 2014: Bless Your Mechanical Heart, Beast Within 4: Gears & Growls, Chicks Dig Gaming (non-fiction), and Shattered Shields (with Bryan Thomas Schmidt). This is her first Hugo nomination, and in many ways, I think that’s a shame, because I think she’s been reaching the point where she could have gotten there without the puppies.
  • Mike Resnick (SR): Resnick has won at least five Hugos, but he’s never won for his work as an editor, though he’s been nominated in that category twice before. He’s the editor of Galaxy’s Edge Magazine, and has edited a number of anthologies over the years, though I’m not seeing any from 2014. (It’s possible I’m just not finding them.) Reading the 2014 issues of Galaxy’s Edge would probably be the best way to get a sense of Resnick’s editorial tastes and skill.
  • Bryan Thomas Schmidt (SR): Disclaimer – I’m one of the folks Schmidt denounced as “rotten meat looking for a place to stink” last year. Schmidt has been moving up in the editorial world, including co-editing a couple of anthologies for Baen. That said, I don’t believe there’s any chance he’d have made the ballot at this point in his career without the Rabid and Sad Puppies. I also question his editorial professionalism, based on things like the submission guidelines he posted last year for World Encounters. Among other things, stating “no assholes allowed” and that he won’t bother with anyone who has “slandered [his] name” or “resents [him] for not sharing your views” seems inappropriate to me, particularly when I’ve watched Schmidt’s overreactions to disagreement and seen the kinds of things he characterizes as slander.
  • Vox Day (R): No.

I’ll be voting No Award over at least some of the candidates here. Others, in my opinion, have earned some recognition through their work in the field. It annoys me that I can’t support any of them without in some way also supporting or validating the slate-voting mechanism that got them there. It’s a problem I expect to have in most of the categories.

Basically, is my desire to vote for a handful of these candidates stronger than my desire to vote against the bloc voting and other destructive crap?

DemiCon

DemiCon in Des Moines was a lot of fun. Amy and I flew down on Thursday so we’d be there for a booksigning at B&N, where Lyndsey kindly gave me a Smudge necklace made from a d20, and Chris showed up to drop trou and display his Jig the goblin tattoo. Oh, and I signed some books, too.

Friday afternoon was our trip to the zoo, and then it was convention time! As author guest of honor, I got to hang out a bit on stage with artist GoH, cosplayer, and all-around lovely person Megan Lara; fan GoH, chocolate priestess, and kind-hearted, bubble-blowing queen Michelle Clark; and Toastmaster, actor, and occasional Scottish Texan person Tadao Tomomatsu.

Tadao

Tadao x 2

DemiCon has the feel of a smaller con, but not too small. It was friendly, relaxed, and everything I saw seemed to be running smoothly. Major props to the concom and the rest of the volunteers for that!

I did a handful of panels, all of which were either solo or me and one other person. Sunday morning, that meant spending an hour geeking out about The Flash. The one complaint we had about the show was the way the two female characters had so little agency and story of their own. Happily, someone from the show must have been at that panel, because last night’s episode started to address that problem. Behold the power of convention panels!

Also, Rachel Bussan made me the awesome Smudge hat I’m wearing in this picture with Megan!!!

Megan and Jim

Megan Lara, Jim Hines, and Smudge hat!

Other highlights include getting author Adam Whitlatch to lick his own book, meeting author (and Invisible 2) contributor Lauren Jankowski, lots of fun cosplay, and just getting to see and meet so many cool fans, readers, friends, and fellow geeks.

The full album of DemiCon pics is up at Flickr, if you want to see the rest. Here are a few more of my favorites from the weekend:

Klingon in sunglasses

Hipster X-man

Cosplay Medic

My thanks again to the convention for inviting me and my wife, to Amanda for liaisoning us all over the place, and to everyone who worked so hard to put together such a fun weekend.

Zoo Pics

DemiCon was much fun! We got back last night, and I’m still recovering and catching up. So here are a few pictures from our pre-convention trip to Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines. (Big thanks to Amanda for schlepping us back and forth from the hotel!)

The full album is over on my Flickr page.

Next up is processing the convention pics and getting them uploaded…

Red Pands

Sea Lion

Macaques

Feeding a parakeet

DemiCon

Tomorrow I leave for DemiCon in Des Moines, Iowa. I’m author guest of honor, along with artist GoH Megan Lara, Fan GoH Michelle Clark, and wizard GoH Harry Dresden. (I’m not sure whether that last will be showing up in person… I kind of hope not, given the kind of trouble that tends to follow him around.)

The convention doesn’t officially start until Friday, but tomorrow I’ve got a pre-convention signing at Barnes & Noble. That’s from 6-8 p.m. at 4550 University Avenue in West Des Moines.

My con schedule looks more-or-less like this:

Friday

  • 7-9: Opening Ceremonies (Main Stage)

Saturday

  • 10-11: Writing Media Tie-Ins (Nebraska Room)
  • 11-12: GoH & Pro Signings (Main Stage)
  • 4-5: GoH Discussions (Main Stage)
  • 5-6: Diversity and Inclusiveness (Kansas Room)
  • 8-9: Designing a Magic System (Nebraska Room)

Sunday

  • 10-11: The Flash (Kansas Room)
  • 12-1: Reading (Missouri Room)

You can check the DemiCon site for the full programming grid.

This should be fun! It looks like I may even get a little downtime to relax and wander about during the day on Friday, which is a nice bonus.

Any suggestions on what I should read on Sunday? My current default is the fairy tale princess biker gang story coming out in the next Chicks anthology, but if there’s something else people would prefer to hear, I’m open to ideas.

Choosing “Sides”

“I am not doing it because I was pressured by anyone either way or on any ‘side.'” -[Author]

“[Author] is everything any good leftist could ever want in a Hugo nominee, and they got hounded off the ballot by the LEFT.” -Brad Torgersen

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I’m conflicted about starting this post with those particular quotes. A handful of people have withdrawn their names from the Hugo ballot, and have asked to be left out of the anger and arguments, which I can certainly understand. I removed the name of the author in question because I don’t want them getting dragged into my rant here. But at the same time, this pair of quotes is one of the best illustrations of something I’ve been frustrated with for years.

I am so damn tired of the insistence on shoving everyone and everything into an artificial “Us vs. Them” framework. The Puppies thing is just the latest example. The only clearly defined “side” in this mess is the puppies themselves, and even that’s a slippery argument. Is Theodore Beale of the Rabid Puppies on the same side as Brad Torgersen and Larry Correia? Correia suggests they are: “Look at it like this. I’m Churchill. Brad is FDR. We wound up on the same side as Stalin.” But what about the commenters? Can people support some of what the puppies said they wanted — say, greater awareness of tie-in work in Hugo nominations — without having to swear allegiance to all things rabid?

What about the people on the respective puppy ballots? Is Sheila Gilbert of DAW on the puppies’ “side”? (Given that she has basically zero online presence, and that I’ve chatted with her about this, I can state for a fact that she was not contacted about being on any slate, nor did she know anything about it.) What about the creators of The Flash? Mike Resnick was on the slate, but has spoken out against the kind of bloc voting the puppies represented. (I’m unable to find the link where I read his comments on this, however.) Does choosing not to remove yourself from the slate or ballot mean you’re in lockstep agreement with Beale, Torgersen, and Correia?

I keep coming across commentary and arguments that assume you have to be either pro-puppy or anti-puppy. In broader discussions, you’re either us or you’re the enemy. Left or Right. Puppy or CHORF. Lately, I’m seeing more accusations of blacklists and gatekeepers and people’s careers being hurt because of their politics or beliefs or whatever, because some publishers are for Us and some are for Them, and you can’t succeed in this business without swearing allegiance to the Evil Gun Nuts of Baen or the Evil Tree-hugging Lib’ruls of Tor.

To be honest, that last bit is funny as hell. Baen publishes folks like Eric Flint and Lois McMaster Bujold. Jim Baen wanted to buy my very first book, and Baen continues to buy my shorter work for some of their anthologies. Then there’s Tor, which publishes Rabid Puppy darling John C. Wright, as well as Hugo award-winning author Orson Scott Card.

The “Us vs. Them” framework does nobody any favors. It’s simplistic, childish thinking. Pointing out that a particular author is a homophobic bigot based on things he’s said? Fair enough. Accusing anyone who likes said author’s work of being a homophobic bigot? Sorry, no. Torgersen and Correia have gotten a lot of ugliness hurled their way in all this — some of it has been truthful, and right on par with what they’ve been hurling, but some has been absolutely over-the-line and unacceptable.

I’ve talked to conservative friends who’ve described various microaggressions and flat-out attacks toward them and/or their religious beliefs. I’ve been attacked for beliefs I don’t have, simply because someone assumed I was on the other side. More recently, when I criticized the Sad Puppy slate on Twitter, I had someone accuse me of being a child molester. I spoke out against GamerGate and got a doxxing threat in my email within the hour. Then there’s the editor on the Sad Puppy ballot who publicly blacklisted and badmouthed me and a few other authors for not being on his “side”…

And I don’t get a fraction of the abuse, harassment, threats, and worse that people in more marginalized groups do, simply for daring to exist and speak out. Simply because people decided they were “Them,” and therefore fair targets for abuse and hate.

I know some of the Sad Puppies desperately want there to be some kind of Social Justice Warrior Conspiracy that’s been manipulating the Hugos and persecuting them for years, because that creates a simple narrative with them as the feisty rebels striking a blow against the Evil Empire. But there’s been zero evidence for it. Correia himself said he’d audited the Hugos a few years back and found no sign of anything suspect.

Are there systemic problems that permeate the genre, and our cultures in general? Of course. Malinda Lo has done a tremendous amount of work and analysis of diversity in fiction and the overall lack thereof. That doesn’t mean everyone has to be drafted into one of two like-minded armies of Pro-Diversity and Anti-Diversity warriors.

Some of the problems are linguistic. Hugo-nominated author Eric James Stone said recently, “In my opinion, accusing someone of racism is one of the severest charges one can make against someone’s moral character.” I disagree. I’ve absorbed the racism, sexism, and homophobia of my culture for almost as long as I’ve existed. I blogged about that a bit back in 2010. It took me years to recognize my own problematic attitudes, and to start actively working to change them. If I say I believe someone is being racist, I don’t see it as the severest charge against their character; I see it as recognizing we’re all imperfect beings who should be working to do better. (I recommend reading Stone’s entire post. I don’t agree with everything he says, but he has some good and valid points.)

MCA Hogarth talks about fear of being attacked for being one of Them, of deprecation and insults and criticism that generalize from “This individual is a nasty, bigoted human being” to “Christians and Republicans are the Enemy.” Once again, I don’t agree with everything she says — I’m particularly skeptical that anyone has the power to destroy a career with one Tweet — but I also think the fears she talks about are real and valid and worth thinking about. In many contexts in the U.S., to be Christian or Republican is to be the majority. To have power. But contexts vary, and this isn’t always the case in SF/F and fandom.

Part of my anger at Torgersen and Correia is because I feel like they deliberately encouraged this Us vs. Them mentality in order to win support and votes. They invented an evil cabal of “Them,” then rallied people to join their side against this fictitious enemy. Which only increases the abuse and the hatred. And please note: I’m angry at them as individuals, not because they’re conservative, or because of their views on gun control, or because they might have a different religious belief than I do. I’m angry because whatever problems were out there, these two individuals actively made them worse, and they hurt a great many people in the process. Themselves included.

Fandom is not two distinct sides. It’s a bunch of people who like things in a really big genre, a genre that has guns and spaceships and dinosaurs and dragons and magic and manly men and genderfluid protagonists and grittiness and erotica and humor and hard-core feminism and sexism and racism and hope and stereotypes and anger and messages and politics and fluff and were-jaguars and superheroes and so much more.

Criticism is not war. Choosing not to read or support things you don’t like isn’t censorship. Liking something problematic doesn’t make you a bad person.

We’re not perfect. And we’re going to keep arguing and fighting amongst ourselves. It’s part of being human. It’s part of being a fan. We’re really freaking passionate about the things we love. (If you diss Season Four of Legend of Korra, then hell yeah I’m gonna argue with you!)

But I swear, the next time I see someone arguing not against what someone said or did, but against their own imagined cardboard caricature of “Them,” I swear by Asimov’s Mighty Muttonchops I’m gonna feed that person to a goblin.

As always, I’ll be moderating comments if necessary — not based on what imaginary “side” you’re on, but based on whether or not you’re acting like an asshole in my space.

ETA: I’ve made several minor edits for clarity since this post went live.

Saturday Author Event in Grand Ledge

This coming Saturday, I’ll be part of Michigan Authors on the Grand from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Main Branch of the Grand Ledge Area District Library. It looks like there will be at least sixteen of us hanging out to chat and network and sign books and so on.

Michigan Authors on the Grand

I’ve never done this one before, so I don’t know exactly what to expect. There could be giant mutant badgers battling bionic warrior squirrels from the twenty-eighth dimension! And also raffles! Definitely one of those…

It’s Alive!

My web host, SFF.net, has been down for close to a week while they wait for Verizon to fix … I don’t even know anymore. SFF.net has been posting updates over on Twitter, and it sounds like things still aren’t completely fixed yet, but they’ve hotwired some servers or duct taped some fiber optics together to get most of their services working.

So, some stuff to catch up on…

Transformers: Age of Extinction: I said I’d livetweet this movie if y’all raised at least $500 for RAINN and other rape crisis centers. So far, people have contributed closer to $600, so I sat down and subjected myself to almost three hours of Michael Bay’s vision on Saturday. The results are all collected on Storify. Note to self: next time, ask for more money…

Book Stuff: I’ve signed and returned contracts for a Spanish edition of all four Magic ex Libris books, to be published in Latin America. Which is pretty darn cool!

Invisible 2: Page proofs will be going out to contributors soon. I’ve also seen a draft of the cover art, and I’m quite happy with it. So far, so good!

Hugo Awards: I started up a #HugoProposal tag on Twitter the other day, trying to create a bit of humor in the midst of this mess. Here’s one of my favorites:

Three Hugos for Mil-SF and their space marines;
Seven for the grimdark-lords in their halls of blood;
Nine for mortal fans doomed to blog;
One for Neil Gaiman on his dark throne
In the Land of Worldcon where the Shadows lie.

There’s more, including a bunch of book reviews I need to do, but I’m gonna go ahead and click “Publish” to make sure this goes up before Verizon breaks anything else.