Hugos

Hugo Voting Ends July 31

As you know, Bob, voting for the Hugo Awards closes at the end of the month.

I’m still working my way through the nominated material from the voters packet and online. Some thoughts on various categories…

Best Fanzine: I’ve been saying for about a year now that I think Mike Glyer’s File 770 earned this one, both for the ongoing coverage of last year’s Hugo mess — with links to a range of opinions — and for the sheer amount of fandom-related information the man manages to curate and present every day.

Best Professional Editor (Long Form): My own editor, Sheila Gilbert, is once again up for this one. I’m obviously biased here. Sheila has been wonderful to work with for the past ten years, and she’s made every one of my own books better.

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form): I struggled a bit with this one, but ultimately decided to go with The Martian for my number one spot. I love the pro-science, pro-intelligence, and generally optimistic and hopeful tone of the story. Plus, you know, poop potatoes and lines like “I’m gonna have to science the shit out of this.” Mad Max: Fury Road was a close second.

Best Related Work: I haven’t finished reading the nominees yet, but so far I’ve yet to read one that isn’t crap.

Best Short Story: Naomi Kritzer’s “Cat Pictures, Please” is my favorite so far, but I’m not done reading this category yet either. “If You Were An Award, My Love,” goes below No Award, but is interesting if only because it shows how obsessed the Rabid Puppies have been with pissing all over anything they don’t understand or personally approve of, to the point of including a threat against the author at the end. I love Chuck Tingle’s persona and his ongoing counter-trolling of Vox Day and the Rabid puppies, but “Space Raptor Butt Invasion” is also going below No Award. (Though it will be ranked above “If You Were An Award, My Love.”)

Best Fan Artist: This may be another No Award category. Thus far, I’ve got Kukuruyo at the very bottom, thanks in part to his penchant for drawing naked/sexual cartoons of underage SF/F girls.

Best Novella: Right now, Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti is at the top of my list. (It’s also the only work that wasn’t on the Rabid Puppy slate. Coincidence?)

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For those of you reading and voting, any particular stand-outs you’d like to recommend from this year’s nominees?

A Few Hugo Requests

As we go through this strange sensation of Déjà Hugo, I had a few requests to put out there.

1. Don’t tell me, or anyone else, how to vote.

If you want to talk about deciding how you’re going to vote, great. If you want to put forth an argument for No Award or for avoiding the No Award option or for how to treat blatantly rabid nominees vs. trolling nominees vs. human shields or whatever else, fine. But I’m already starting to see people doing the, “If you vote this way (or don’t vote this way), you’re an asshole” thing.

Let me put it this way. The rabid puppies were able to make this year’s mess by lining up and following their voting orders (a tactic which hopefully won’t work very well in the future). Do you really want to follow that guy’s strategy of trying to tell people how to vote?

Some people will probably choose to No Award the whole slate. Others will try to evaluate every work on its own merit. Me, I’ll try to read and evaluate them all, though I’ll probably be more skeptical of most of the rabid works.

I’m not complaining about discussion/debate on how to respond to the rabid puppies this year. I just don’t appreciate people trying to dicktate how I should vote.

2. No asterisks, please.

I did make a crack about asterisks and the Hugo last year after the trophy was released. And I think a lot of people had a mental asterisk over the whole thing, because let’s be honest, last year was anything but normal for the Hugo awards. So yeah, I definitely get it.

But at last year’s Hugo award ceremony, they handed out wooden asterisk plaques, and later sold additional wooden asterisks.

I don’t believe this was done with malicious intent (though I obviously can’t read anyone’s minds). Maybe it was an attempt at humor, and/or to acknowledge the elephant in the room. I appreciate that the sale of the asterisks raised several thousand dollars for a good cause.

Whatever the intentions, it resulted in a lot of people feeling hurt and attacked. I know from experience how nerve-wracking a Hugo ceremony can be in a normal year. Last year, and this year, tensions and anxieties and fears are exponentially higher. And for many of the people in attendance, the asterisks felt like a big old slap in the face.

Like I said, I don’t think that was the intention. (Others will disagree, and have gleefully pointed to the asterisks as “proof” that “the other side” is evil and nasty.) In this case, I don’t think intention matters so much as the impact it had, including hurting some good, talented people.

3. Don’t be an abusive doucheweasel.

For example, here’s a conversation from last year where Moshe Feder had to delete someone’s comment calling for the Sad Puppies to kill themselves. WTF, people?

Screenshot - Puppies Should Kill Themselves

Or here’s someone suggesting the Sad and Rabid Puppies be rounded up and dropped into Daesh territory.

Puppies-Daesh

Then there’s the vitriol directed at the nominees themselves. Particularly at the women on the ballot. (I’m sure we’re all shocked to hear that women tended to get the most and the nastiest of the attacks.)

As one nominee noted last year, “We have been called assholes, bitches, mongrels, yapping curs, talentless hacks and so many more things that I can’t even name them all. I have seen at least one suggestion that all of us should be euthanized.” Another talked about the “helpful” emails they received, saying things like, “If you don’t reject the nomination, you will be forever linked with those people. Always hated.”

And whatever choice the nominees made about withdrawing or staying on the ballot, there were people who would attack them for it, calling them gutless, comparing them to Nazi sympathizers, and worse.

Gutless

SS

I’m not trying to say anyone can’t or shouldn’t be angry, or trying to stop anyone from expressing that anger. But there’s a difference between expressing anger and harassing people. There’s a difference between criticizing people who are actively trying to “burn the Hugos down,” and attacking everyone and anyone who might in any way be connected with — or being used by — those people.

I’m also not interested in debating whether one “side” was worse than the other. I’m simply pointing out that this shit happened. These are some of the public comments. Some of the emails/messages sent directly to folks were far worse.

Finally, I know there are people who delight in being abusive doucheweasels, and nothing I write here is going to change that. I guess I’m just asking the rest of us, myself included, to be careful, and to remember Wheaton’s Law.

Thanks for listening.

Hugos and Such

As I said on Twitter, congratulations to the Hugo nominees — particularly those who earned their spot on the ballot. And thank you to certain individuals for making sure the anti-slate legislation gets passed this year.

The Sad Puppies this year opted for a recommendations list as opposed to a formal slate. The Rabid Puppies, to nobody’s shock, continued their efforts to slate-shit all over the ballot. I’d been guessing and hoping that the puppy influence would be lessened this year. I figured the Rabids would get some nominees through slate-voting, but that we’d also see more viable candidates on the final ballot.

File 770 has posted an analysis of the puppy effectiveness, and the impact varies a lot from one category to the next.

Comparing this year’s results to last, it looks like once again the Rabid Puppy slate had the greatest impact. I was mistaken in guessing their influence would be diminished this year. They appear to have gotten roughly the same number of candidates onto the final ballot, if not slightly moreso. Though this year’s ballot is completely free of John Wright’s work, which surprises me a little.

It’s also clear that Beale and the Rabid Pups were trying to play a slightly different game this year. In addition to the nominees that were Beale’s own ego-stroking (Vox Day for Best Editor, work from his publisher’s blog for Best Related Work, etc.), and blatant “crap-on-the-Hugo” nominees, there were also a handful of nominees presumably chosen to make poor SJW brains explode, like File 770 for Best Fanzine. Or nominees that would almost certainly have made the ballot without the slate, like Andy Weir for the Campbell.

I assume this is designed to make people say, “Oh, woe is me, I can’t vote for anything on a slate, and therefore must vote against File 770 and Andy Weir even though I might consider them deserving,” after which the Rabid puppies will proclaim victory. Or else people will vote for File 770 and Weir, and they’ll win, and the Rabid puppies will proclaim victory.

My, what a brilliant stratagem that absolutely no one could have foreseen. What ever shall we do? Alas, how we are trapped by the cleverness of their clever trap.

Wile E. Coyote, Genius

A lot of the stuff on the ballot is, just like last year, utter crap. I suspect most people are fully capable of reading for themselves and deciding what’s worthy of winning, what deserved a place on the ballot, and what should come below No Award. Just like last year.

All in all, my sense is that the Rabid Puppies had pretty much the same level of influence as last year, and the Sad Puppies had a minimal impact. Like last year, my biggest disappointment is for the worthy individuals and works that got knocked off the ballot by a relatively small group’s coordinated poo-flinging.

The results, along with lists of non-rabid nominees and my notes comparing this year to last, are below. As before, I’d encourage people to read and to vote. And if you’ll be at Worldcon, please try to get to the business meeting.

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Best Novel has three nominees that weren’t on the Rabid slate. (All three were on the “raw” Sad Puppy recommendation list, and two were on the final, “official” Sad Puppy list.) This is similar to last year’s final Best Novel ballot, which also had three puppy-free nominees.

  • Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie
  • The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Best Novella had one Rabid-free nominee. Given that Binti is also a Nebula finalist, I think it’s safe to say this one very much earned its spot. All four others were from the Rabid slate and the Sad list both. This is similar to last year’s final ballot.

  • Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Best Novelette is pretty much a repeat of Novella, with one Rabid-free nominee that was on the Sad list. All four other nominees were on the Rabid slate. Once again, pretty close to last year’s ballot results.

  • “And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander

Best Short Story was swept by the Rabid slate, just like last year.

Best Related Work was another Rabid sweep. Once again, effectively the same as last year.

Best Graphic Story is yet another Rabid sweep. The Rabid puppies were actually more effective in this category this year.

Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form had three Rabid-free finalists. All three were on the Sad list, but come on. Is there any way these weren’t going to make the ballot in a normal year? This is roughly the same as last year’s results.

  • Ex Machina
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form had two Rabid-free nominees. Again pretty much equivalent to last year.

  • Doctor Who: “Heaven Sent”
  • Jessica Jones: “AKA Smile”

Best Editor – Short Form only had one nominee from the Rabid slate, and that nominee made the ballot. This is much cleaner than last year, when it was another slate-dominated category.

  • John Joseph Adams
  • Neil Clarke
  • Ellen Datlow
  • Sheila Williams

Best Editor – Long Form sees two Rabid slate nominees, once again an improvement over last year’s slate-sweep.

  • Sheila E. Gilbert
  • Liz Gorinsky
  • Jim Minz

Best Professional Artist was swept by the Rabid slate this year. Last year saw only a single slate-free nominee in the category.

Best Semiprozine has a single nominee that wasn’t on the Rabid slate, a step down from last year, when we had three slate-free nominees.

  • Uncanny Magazine

Best Fanzine is another Rabid sweep, similar to last year when we had only one slate-free nominee.

Best Fancast: swept by Rabid slate. (Last year saw two slate-free nominees.)

Best Fan Writer sees one non-Rabid nominee. Last year saw only a single non-slate nominee.

  • Mike Glyer

Best Fan Artist has a single non-Rabid nominee, compared to last year, when the Rabid Puppies forgot or neglected to include this category on their slate.

  • Steve Stiles

Campbell Award for Best New Writer (Not a Hugo) sees one non-Rabid nominee, just like last year’s one non-slate nominee.

  • Alyssa Wong

Hugo Deadline Countdown

Hugo nominations close on March 31. To nominate, you have to be an attending or supporting member of Sasquan (Worldcon 73), MidAmeriCon II (Worldcon 74), or Worldcon 75.

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I’d like to ask people to consider Sheila Gilbert of DAW Books in the Best Editor – Long Form category. Sheila has made the ballot for several years now. Sheila is my editor, and has been at DAW for more than 30 years. Edward Willett did a short column about her and her experience last year, if you’d like to know a little more about her.

Of my own eligible works, the only one I’m going to mention is Invisible 2, which is eligible in the Best Related Work category. You can read most of the essays online.

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My intention this year is to mostly ignore the recommendation lists and “Totally-not-a-slate-wink-wink” nonsense. If shenanigans have a significant effect on the final ballot, I’ll figure out how I want to deal with that at the time.

My recommendation, for what it’s worth, is to nominate works and people you believe are deserving. Anyone who wants to stew in their own hate, well, that’s their choice. The rest of us can concentrate on celebrating the work we love.

Puppies, Redux

Last year, I did a roundup on the history of the Sad Puppies Hugo campaigns, focusing on what the leadership of the different puppy campaigns had actually said and done, as opposed to what was being said about them. What began with Larry Correia campaigning for a Hugo in year one turned into a full blown slate, with more explicitly political goals. Sad Puppies III last year also got tangled up with Theodore Beale’s Rabid Puppy campaign to promote himself and his publishing house, which resulted in the two puppy campaigns sweeping much of the ballot, and then losing to No Award as Hugo voters expressed their distaste for a) slates and b) the puppy-nominated material.

Sad Puppies 4:

Sad Puppies IV launched under the leadership of Kate Paulk, Sarah Hoyt, and Amanda Green, all of whom have officially recused themselves from the awards this year. Having read some of their commentary in the past, I was worried this meant we were in for another year of all-out war and nastiness. I’m happy to say that so far, I seem to have been wrong.

From the About page:

SP4 is all about MOAR! More voters. More votes. More people. We want to make the Hugos bigger and more representative of fandom as a whole, to bring people in rather than give them an asterisk that looks kind of wrong (especially beside the rocket) to try to drive the “interlopers” out.

So far, I’m more or less on board. I like the idea of getting more people involved in fandom and Worldcon and the awards. I worry that they’re starting out by dragging last year’s grudges into this year, and the belief that the asterisks were about trying to drive people out.

That paragraph continues:

SF is a big tent: we don’t want to kick out anyone, even writers of bad message fiction that makes puppies sad.

I guess it wouldn’t be a puppies campaign without a jab at “message fiction.” But overall, when you compare it to Brad Torgersen’s announcement post and comments from last year, the SP4 announcement is positively friendly and welcoming.

The Process:

SP4 has open threads to collect nomination recommendations, which will be tallied up and posted with the top ten or so works recommended in each category. They explicitly say “The List will not be a slate.” Which is good.

What’s less good is the follow-up.

If you want to see your favorite author receive a nomination and an award, your best bet will be to cast your nomination ballot for one of popular works on The List – provided you’ve read it and agree that it’s worth an award.

If they’d stopped at putting together recommendation lists, I’d be on board. Instead, they’re giving advice on how people should strategically cast their votes, and that advice is not to simply vote for your favorite works.

On the other hand, Paulk, Hoyt, and Green are keeping the threads and the process open. Whereas Torgersen last year dismissed Ann Leckie’s awards as “affirmative action,” Leckie’s name shows up with several nominations in the SP4 threads. I expect the SP4 recommendation list to still reflect the same sort of political and ideological leanings as in previous years, but that feels more like an effect of who’s still following and invested in the puppies, as opposed to deliberately mocking and attacking those with different political leanings like we’ve seen in previous years.

Other Players:

Theodore Beale’s Rabid Puppies campaign piggybacked on the work of the Sad Puppies last year. He’ll be releasing his Rabid Puppies slate soon.

“The Rabid Puppy List of Recommendations That Is Most Certainly Not a Slate, Much Less a Direct Order From the Supreme Dark Lord of the Evil Legion of Evil will be posted in February.” (Source)

This means the rabid slate will be out before the Sad Puppy recommendation list (which will be out in early March). This could mean less overlap between the groups. I’ll be interested to see if this dilutes Beale’s influence this year.

SP4 leader Sarah Hoyt has an fascinating perspective on the relationship between the Sad and Rabid campaigns:

“They also don’t realize that Sad Puppies was the only thing PROTECTING them from Vox. I don’t know if we still are enough to protect them…” (Source)

Um … okay, sure. Thus far, Beale has taken his Rabid Puppies campaign to Goodreads to try to attack his Enemies with one-star reviews, a strategy carried out so cleverly that he immediately got himself and his group booted from Goodreads. He also ran a five-part series about SF/F and child molestation, in part as an excuse to bad-mouth his hate-crush John Scalzi again. I imagine he’ll be pushing this for Best Related Work.

Wile E. Coyote, Genius

Meanwhile, Beale’s darling Hugo nominee John C. Wright continues his reasonable and level-headed discussion of the conflicts.

“[T]he Thought Police of SocJus. Morlocks laugh their barbaric, harsh, ungainly laughter at facts. Appeals to justice and fairness they greet with dull, slow stares of open-mouthed incomprehension … They will never cease to abuse, demean, and insult us, and desecrate everything we love, and to slander and libel us with mouth-frothingly stupid and freakishly counterproductive lies … So, you had your chance with the Sad Puppies, Oh hypocrites, sons of vipers, Social-justice propagandists, socialists, christophobes, Morlocks and morons.” (Source)

Brad Torgersen has doubled down on his insults against “the other side” and his unsupported claims of vote manipulation, but I’m not sure how many people are paying attention now that he’s stepped out of the leadership spotlight.

“All is fair in love and war, and for the block-bombers and CHORFholers, this was absolutely a war. Before, it was a cold war — when they could treat the not-quite-good-enough-fans like shit, and nobody said or did much about it. Sad Puppies became an exercise in second-class citizenry demanding full participation and recognition, which caused the block-bombers — and the CHORFs, with their crybully accomplices — to launch not just a wide media slander campaign, but a deliberate destruction of the Hugos proper; in direct violation of their own stated principles.” (Source)

What feels encouraging to me is that Sad Puppies 4 seems to be less about this kind of frothing and ranting, and is focusing on collecting nominations instead of amplifying rants like Wright’s and Torgersen’s. I questioned whether it was even worth including them here, but decided to do so mostly for the contrast between them and Sad Puppies 4.

Predictions:

I don’t know for certain what’s going to happen this year. My personal opinion, for whatever it’s worth, is that there’s been so much hatred and nastiness surrounding Sad Puppies that it’s all but impossible to run a “clean” recommendations list under that brand. That said, SP4 seems to be genuinely trying for openness and to escape last year’s nastiness. Props to the organizers for that, and I hope it continues.

Given everything that went down in 2015, I don’t expect the Sad and Rapid Puppy groups to have as much influence on the final ballot. I imagine they’ll get some nominees from their lists onto the ballot, but it won’t be the same kind of shutout we saw in 2015.

As for Beale specifically, I suspect he’ll continue to do whatever he believes will best promote himself and his work, and help him wallow in his grudges against Tor, SFWA, John Scalzi, etc. I also fully expect him to direct his minions to vote No Award for any and all of the final nominees he doesn’t like. I don’t expect this to work, but I expect him to try.

My Suggestions:

If you can, and if you want to, pick up a supporting or full membership to Worldcon, and then nominate stuff you think is awesome. (You must have that membership by today in order to nominate, by the way.)

Don’t be that guy who uncritically accepts the lies and fear-mongering to the point where you feel you have to carry a gun at Worldcon to protect yourself from SJWs.

If you want to recommend works for the SP4 lists, go for it. If you want to avoid them, that’s fine too. I would recommend avoiding the comments on the blog posts. Those can get pretty nasty and political, but it’s not being facilitated and encouraged by the SP4 leadership the way we saw last year, which is nice.

Basically, nominate what you love, and try not to let this year’s process cause as many ulcers as it did last year.

ETA:

Several people have asked whether it’s possible to escape the negativity and political baggage of previous Sad Puppy campaigns, and I think that’s a fair question. If the goal is truly just to broaden participation in the Hugo process in an inclusive and politically neutral way, why attach yourself to the Sad Puppy name at all?

I don’t have an answer. I suspect partly the desire to “broaden” Hugo participation comes from the perception of it being dominated by “the other side’s” stories and politics. Doing this as Sad Puppies 4 instead of an independent effort means a lot of the core SP supporters from previous years will be on board, which isn’t exactly a politically moderate crowd.

Alternately, it could be an effort at reclamation, to take Sad Puppies 4 and use it as a way to prove “not all puppies” are as over-the-top with their nastiness and hatred as Torgersen was last year.

I don’t know. Like I said, I’m happy to see the changes in how SP4 is going about everything this year. That’s not the same as saying I trust them. At this point, I mostly have a wait and see attitude. And I hope whatever happens, it won’t be as unpleasant as last year.

INVISIBLE and the Hugo

InvisibleI went to bed before the Hugo Award results were announced, and woke up this morning to emails about INVISIBLE. The Hugo voting statistics were released last night, and it turns out that INVISIBLE would almost certainly have been on the ballot for Best Related Work if not for the Sad and Rabid Puppy slate voting campaigns.

Thank you to everyone who nominated us. And thank you to all of the contributors for sharing their stories and helping to create a wonderful, powerful, and potentially award-worthy collection. Shiny rocket trophies are nice, but far more valuable is the fact that we created something important, something that had a real impact and made a difference to people.

To Alex Dally MacFarlane, Mark Oshiro, Katharine Kit Kerr, Susan Jane Bigelow, Charlotte Ashley, Ada Hoffman, Kathryn Ryan, Gabriel Feycat Cuellar, Nalini Haynes, Joie Broin, Morgan Dambergs, Derek Handley, Ithiliana, Michi Trota, Nonny Blackthorne, and cover artist Mark Ferrari: Every one of you should be damn proud of yourselves, and I’d like to ask one last thing of you all.

Do something nice for yourselves today. Treat yourself to ice cream or go see a movie or just stay home and kiss a loved one. Whatever you like, so long as it’s a way to celebrate and reward yourself for your part in helping to create something good.

10 Hugo Predictions

Hugo voting closed a week or so back, and in another two weeks, the winners will be announced at Sasquan. After said announcements, social media will explode with commentary, congratulations, criticism, and chest-thumping. I figured I’d get my post-Hugo blogging done before the Hugos are actually announced, and thus beat the crowd. (Feel free to check back later and see how close I was with my predictions, or mock me for being completely off-base.)

Hugo Award Logo1. Congrats to David Gerrold and Tananarive Due for a wonderful job hosting the Hugo award ceremony!

Some of the puppies were complaining that the hosts would use their platform to take shots at the Sad and Rabid Puppies and their works. I’m glad (and utterly unsurprised) to see those fears were nothing but paranoia, and perhaps wishful thinking on the part of those trying a little too hard to portray themselves as victims. Gerrold and Due both care a great deal about the Hugos, the genre, and the community, and that showed. Thank you both for your professionalism on stage after a very challenging lead-up.

2. At least three puppy nominees won Hugo awards.

Congratulations to the winners, including those who were on the puppy slates. While most of the puppy nominees failed to take home a rocket, I imagine there will be at least three. I’m predicting one will go to my own editor, Sheila Gilbert, who’s made the ballot on her own in previous years, and is (in my biased opinion) utterly deserving of the award. I’m not as sure who the second will be, but I’m guessing Kary English in the short story category. One of the movies on the puppy ballots will also win. Finally, I think there’s a good shot of either Resnick or Brozek taking home a short-form editor Hugo.

3. At least one category went to No Award.

No Award didn’t sweep the ballot like some people hoped/feared. It did take the Novella category, though. I think it will probably take Best Related Work as well.

4. A number of puppies came in below No Award in the voting.

Once the Hugo Awards have been announced, the next step is to pore over the voting numbers. Vox Day and John C. Wright had the most dramatic losses, but they weren’t alone in scoring behind No Award. Michael Williamson’s related work also took a drubbing from No Award. (On a related note, I believe John C. Wright is now the first person ever to be nominated for six Hugo awards, as well as the first person to lose or be disqualified in all six.)

Some people will point to this as evidence that Hugo voters don’t like slate-voting, and/or proof of the low quality of much of the puppy-nommed work. Others will point to it as proof that the SJW cabal still runs the Hugos, and worked to keep the Wrong People out.

5. The non-puppy nominees did quite well.

Congrats in particular to Cixin Liu and Ken Liu in the Best Novel category for The Three-Body Problem, which narrowly beat out Ancillary Sword and The Goblin Emperor.

6. Various puppies immediately ran to the internet to declare victory.

This was an easy prediction, since a number of folks have been declaring victory for weeks or months now. Because losing the Hugos proves their point that the game is rigged against them! Winning the Hugos proves their point that people really want to read their kind of stories. No Award is what they wanted all along, because it’s actually about destroying the Hugo awards.

In addition to these old and surprisingly mobile goal posts, there will also be crowing about who was kept off the final ballot by the puppy slates, because it’s actually about rocket-blocking those evil SJWs.

7. Wesley Chu took home the Campbell Award.

It’s not technically a Hugo award, but it’s presented at the ceremony, and I think Wes is going to be rocking that tiara.

8. The Puppies will return for at least one more year, but they won’t have the same impact.

Given the amount of attention it brought him, I have little doubt that Theodore Beale will launch Rabid Puppies 2016 and try to repeat this year’s performance. The Sad Puppies have chosen their spokesperson for 2016 as well, but after the backlash they received this year, I expect the sad side to start to quietly move on. So we’ll have at least another year of puppy slates, and they’ll probably get some nominees on the ballot again, but it won’t be a repeat of 2015.

9. Someone will try to run a counterslate in 2016. It will fail.

Slates and counterslates are, in my opinion, a really bad idea. That won’t stop someone, somewhere from trying to run an anti-puppy slate. But it will be condemned pretty broadly, and won’t get any real traction.

10. Fandom and the Hugos survived.

This year did not break the Hugos. It did not destroy fandom or the genre. It did expose a lot of anger and emotion, and led to tens of thousands of hours of lost productivity for people trying to read every last update and/or respond to every comment. Because no matter what “side” you’re on, at least we can all agree that 20th Century Fox really needs to stop trying to make Fantastic Four movies.

Bonus Prediction: If I’m right about some or most of these, some dumbass will point to it as proof I’m part of the SJW cabal rigging the results ahead of time.

Hugo Voting Closes Tomorrow

Voting for the Hugo Awards closes tomorrow, July 31, at 11:59 p.m. PDT.

I’d hoped to post additional reviews on the different categories, but I seem to have done the time warp again, and suddenly it’s the end of July. D’oh!

So instead, have a scattering of related thoughts and links.

My overall impression? The Hugos have not been destroyed. There are some cranky people who want to piss all over things, but what else is new? Despite the shenanigans I think there are some very strong works on the ballot this year. Far fewer than usual, but enough that I remain excited to find out who takes home some rocket trophies. I also expect No Award to make a strong showing this year.

I encourage folks to vote, and to nominate next year, and beyond that, we’ll see what happens.

Hugo Thoughts: Graphic Story

Of the five nominees, the collection from The Zombie Nation was recommended by both the Sad and Rabid (SR) puppies. The rest of the category is puppy-free.

  • Ms. Marvel: The first page includes Kamala Khan smelling bacon and saying, “Delicious, delicious infidel meat” and someone responding, “Chow or chow not. There is no smell.” I was officially intrigued. A few pages later, we discover Kamala writes Avengers fanfic. She’s also struggling with her own identity, torn between cultures and dealing with ignorance and prejudice. She dreams about being powerful and blonde and beautiful like Ms. Marvel…and then she gets her wish. Sort of. And discovers it’s not what she imagined. This is a superhero origin story that plays off of our expectations, because Kamala has grown up in a world of superheroes. She’s an Avengers fangirl. She has to unlearn what she has learned, in order to become, in her words, “a shape-changing mask-wearing sixteen-year-old super ‘moozlim’ from Jersey City.” There’s a lot of humor, and some good depth and complexity to Kamala and her family and friends. There’s also a supervillain, of course, but that’s secondary to the story of Kamala coming of age and learning to navigate and incorporate the different parts of her identity.
  • Rat Queens: Smart-ass D&D-style all-female adventuring team with good artwork, humor, attitude, profanity, and a great cast of secondary characters to go with it. Including an orc cleric who gets bluebirds in his beard when he casts healing spells. I bought this volume last year, and I’ve got the next one on my wish list. The Rat Queens are well-written, complex characters who are utterly unapologetic about who and what they are. They’re also fiercely loyal to one another. I liked this even more when I reread it to refresh my memory for the Hugos. With both Rat Queens and Ms. Marvel, I’m sure there will be people complaining that they’re politically correct, feminist, Message Stories. Are they feminist? Sure. They’re also fun as hell. Beyond that, I’ll let Hannah respond to the haters.
    Hannah, from Rat Queens
  • Saga: I’m afraid this one didn’t work for me. Part of the problem is that this is Volume 3, and I was coming into the middle of a pretty complex and ongoing story about an ongoing, interplanetary war. The blending of science fiction and fantasy elements was fascinating, and there’s a lot of good worldbuilding, as well as some great details. I love Lying Cat, a sphynx/lynx-like creature who can sense lies, to great effect. I don’t think it’s bad, and it’s possible I’d be much more invested if I started from the beginning, but as it is, I’m afraid the story just didn’t draw me in. I’ll probably rank it above No Award, but it won’t be one of my top choices.
  • Sex Criminals: So imagine when you orgasmed, time basically just stopped for a while, and the world went all glowy and psychedelic. This isn’t something you’ll want to read at work. (Well, depending on where you work, I guess.) But it’s an interesting premise and a good story. It also addresses and challenges the rather prudish attitudes folks tend to have toward sex, starting with young Suzie’s efforts to understand what’s happening to her, and all the ways those efforts get shut down. Generally amusing and entertaining, though I didn’t feel like I just had to pick up the next volume. A middle-of-the-ballot pick for me.
  • The Zombie Nation (SR): This one wasn’t included in the Hugo Voters Packet, but the nominated work is a collection from an ongoing webcomic, available here. I clicked through some of the recent comics, then went back and read through some from the beginning. I didn’t find the gags particularly funny. The actual art isn’t bad, but I don’t see this one earning a place above No Award for me.

Hugo Thoughts: Short Stories

Next on the Hugo ballot, I thought I’d look at the short fiction nominees. Four of the five stories are available online, and the fifth is included in the just-released Hugo Voters Packet.

There are no nominees who weren’t part of the puppy slates/bloc voting. As before, I’ve noted where each nominee was part of the Sad Puppies (S), Rabid Puppies (R), or both slates (SR).

  • On A Spiritual Plain” by Lou Antonelli (SR): The strong magnetic field of the planet Ymilas preserves human and Ymilan souls. The infodumping of the first three scenes felt like it needed some serious rewriting. The dialogue was also rather stiff. Our protagonist takes the first human colonist’s ghost on a pilgrimage to help him move on in the afterlife. There’s reference to the polar magnetic field looking like the eye of God, a temple built like Stonehenge “with the dimensional ratio of 1: 4: 9–the Golden Mean.” Heavy-handed (and in that last quote, factually incorrect), but a nice sense of closure at the end as our protagonist settles into his new role of guiding human souls on their final journey. Also, Antonelli introduces the idea of a Faraday Segway, which is a potentially fun idea.
  • The Parliament of Beasts and Birds” by John C. Wright (R): A tale of talking animals, Christian myth, and the end of Man, all presented in a rather stilted formal style. (The Lion greets his fellow animals with a “Twilight of Man, forsooth?”) There’s nothing in the way of action, and the plot is basically the animals trying to figure out what happened to Man’s last city, and what they should do and become now. There are a few nice lines, but it feels like Wright was trying way too hard on this, and ended up with a pale imitation of C. S. Lewis.
  • “A Single Samurai” by Steven Diamond (S): A samurai has to find a way to kill a kaiju the size of a mountain. I liked the core idea here, the lone warrior who’s less than a mite on a giant, slowly scaling the monster’s body and searching for a way to stop said monster from destroying his homeland. But it didn’t have the depth I look for in an award-worthy story. Nor did I get a real sense of the character or world. Our samurai could have been any samurai, with special swords, references to honor and duty and hara-kiri, and a contraction-averse voice to denote formality.
  • Totaled” by Kary English (SR): This was one of the most original ideas/stories on the ballot, about a researcher named Maggie, whose brain is preserved following the death of her body. We follow her “awakening” and realization that she’s in her own lab, and her efforts to communicate her awareness to her partner Randy, and to help complete their work on the bionet. Maggie’s brain is slowly giving out, and we get a kind of Flowers for Algernon decline over the course of the story. It’s better than most of what’s on the ballot this year, but I’ll have to read it again to decide whether I think it’s Hugo-worthy.
  • Turncoat” by Steve Rzasa (R): The first two sentences give a good sense of what you’re in for with this one.I am a knight riding to war. My suit of armor is a single Mark III frigate, a body of polysteel three hundred meters long with a skin of ceramic armor plating one point six meters thick.” I ended up skimming much of this story about posthuman warships moving to wipe out humanity, and Taren X 45 Delta’s choice to turn against his(?) kind to protect the humans: “Our superiority is certain. However, we are the side killing those who have surrendered and laid down their arms. Are we zealots purified by the righteousness of our cause? Or are we ungrateful children, jealous to the point of patricide?” The ending picked up a bit, but the whole thing feels overwritten, and there’s not much new here. The Message is blunt and unoriginal.

No Award will be scoring pretty high in this category. That doesn’t mean I think all of the stories are bad. (Though I don’t think they’re all good, either.) But it’s one thing for a story to be competent or interesting or fun. It’s another thing for that story to be award-worthy, for me to consider it one of the best things published in the past year. Four of these stories don’t clear that bar for me, and the fifth I’ll have to think about a little more.

Jim C. Hines