The Corruption of the Hugo Awards Nominations Process

In short: a bunch of rightwing SF/F writers and fans colluded to stack the Hugo Award nominations with their own candidates, effectively excluding better works — and they invited Gamergaters to join them in their quest.

[Note: lots of late edits]

    Who are some of these people and associated entities?

  • Theodore Beale, a.k.a. Vox Day, a.k.a. RSHD.
    Jim Hines describes the egregious behaviour that ultimately got Beale tossed out of SFWA.
  • John C. Wright
    Evan Brehm fisks Wright’s post on Feminism and Jim C Hines does the same for Wright’s rant at the creators of Legend of Korra, in which he (Wright) likens them to termites that must be exterminated. Here’s commentary from Rachael Acks on Wright’s Hugo whine. The Obsidian Wings blog exposes John C Wright as a wannabe gay-basher.
  • Brad Torgerson. I’ll leave it to the reader to rate his performance in the Making Light posts linked below. As for the others the others on the list, Google is your friend.
  • Larry Correia
  • Sarah Hoyt
  • Kate Paulk
  • Lou Antonelli. Harasses his enemies at work (Aaron Pound, Carrie Cuinn) and reports them to police (David Gerrold). It doesn’t take much to qualify for this status.
  • Amanda S. Green
  • Michael Z. Williamson
  • Castalia House. A Finnish conservative publishing house owned by Theodore Beale.
  • Gamergaters. More from Gawker.

Some posts on the subject of the Hugo noms.

Distant thunder, and the smell of ozone
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
Making Light

You know what? I find myself missing Jim Baen. His aesthetics were not my aesthetics, but he had a real understanding of fandom and the greater SF community. I like to think he’d have seen the danger in associating with a semi-anonymous bunch of irresponsible, resentment-driven malfeasants who have no stake in the well-being of the SF world. Larry Correia and the other sad puppies might have listened to him.

The hardcore Gamergate contingent favors tactics like verbal abuse and intimidation (including death threats), doxing, identity spoofing, and a wide range of dirty tricks. Some of them find it amusing to call down SWAT teams on their targets. This is not just your everyday People Behaving Badly on the Internet.

When you invite thugs into your argument, you’re not using them as shock troops; they’re using you as cover. And you’re pretty much guaranteeing that at some point in the future, you’ll wind up feebly protesting that you had no idea they’d do that. And maybe you didn’t; but you did know they were thugs.

Finally, to summarize how I feel about the rights and wrongs of all this:

* I’m unaware of the SP campaign doing anything that violates the rules.

* That said, lots of behavior that is reprehensible, all the way from “dubious” to “scummy” to “downright evil,” violates no rules, regulations, or statutes.

* To my mind, a coordinated effort to push a slate of candidates for an award like the Hugos doesn’t even rise to “scummy”; I would call it “dubious” at worst.

* But: Deliberately reaching out to outside groups that traffic in threats, intimidation, doxxing, and “SWATting”, and urging them to buy Worldcon memberships and nominate in the Hugos — in effect, inviting them into our community — rises all the way to “downright evil.” We know this happened; we don’t know the full extent of it.

Both more and less than political
Abi Sutherland
Making Light

When I sit alone with my Hugo nomination page and try to wrestle through the eligibility lists, thinking about the things I’ve enjoyed over the past year, I’m faced with the fact that my relationship with literature and media is both more and less than political. As a single person reacting to what the field has produced I must listen, as well as speak in the way that someone voting en bloc need not. And doing this thing alone, I can’t dictate what “should” win. I cannot change the Hugos. But I can be changed by them. The relationship is not political, not pragmatic, but mystical.

And that’s really the point of SF&F, at least as I love it: exploring worlds that weren’t in my head before I started reading. Encountering ideas I didn’t imagine, or expect, before opening the covers or watching the opening scene. Allowing myself to be changed by what I experienced. Discovering what I wanted by finding it. These are experiences and ways of learning that, in other contexts, are described as mystical. The term fits.

My Hugo nominations and votes are reactions to that broadening-out of my mental universe. As such, they’re intimately, intensely personal. And that’s part of the visceral reaction that some fans are having to the Sad Puppies’ slate: it looks like the institutionalization of a private, particular process in the service of an external goal. It comes across as a coarsening and a standardizing of something that should be fine-grained, unpredictable, and unique to each person participating. It seems like denial of variety and spontaneity, like choreographed sex.

And it ruins the nature of the Hugos as the strange, unpredictable product of all of these solitary musings. It removes the mystery, the quirkiness, the weirdness and the wonderfulness. Then it’s just an election, with partisans and campaigning and slogans and crap. Surely we have enough of those already.

The 2015 Hugo finalists
Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Making Light

The ballot is here. It’s not pretty. Other folks will have detailed comments and analysis, including lists of which finalists come from the “Sad Puppy” slate.

Here and elsewhere, we’ve seen a bunch of people try to make the “Sad Puppy” campaign seem reasonable and unexceptionable. That’s one face of their initiative.

Here’s the other face […]

The 2015 Hugo Awards: Thoughts on the Nominees
Abigail Nussbaum

If you’ve been hanging out on (certain parts of) twitter in the last two weeks, you probably had a sense of what was coming in this year’s Hugo nominations.  The rumor storm has been brewing furiously, and yet even those dark hints were not quite enough to prepare us for just how dismal this year’s nominees would be.  The organized right-wing voting campaign that last year gave us Vox Day, Hugo nominee, has largely swept this year’s nominees, completely sweeping six out of seventeen categories, and dominating a further seven, including best novel and the Campbell award.  There’s already been a lot of talk on this issue–this thread at Making Light, begun when the whispers of this year’s results began to be deafening, is more than a thousand comments long, and Mike Glyer at File 770 has been furiously collecting responses from the campaign’s instigators and supporters.

2015 Hugo Nominees Announced
Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory

The 2015 Hugo Nominees have been announced. Notably, authors from Brad R. Torgensen’s “Sad Puppies” slate have successfully secured all of the nominations for both the Novella and Novellette categories, a result which is bound to cause significant discussion.

The Biggest Little SF Publisher you never heard of pulls on the jackboots
Charles Stross

By now, everybody who cares knows that the nominations for the 2015 Hugo Awards reflect the preferences of a bloc-voting slate with an agenda—and their culture wars allies. But, interestingly, a new Hugo-related record has been set: for a Finnish publisher few people have ever heard of is responsible for no fewer than nine nominated works.

Castalia House was (per wikipedia) founded by Theodore Beale (aka Vox Day) in early 2014 in Kouvola, Finland. As their website explains:

Castalia House is a Finland-based publisher that has a great appreciation for the golden age of science fiction and fantasy literature. The books that we publish honor the traditions and intellectual authenticity exemplified by writers such as J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Robert E. Howard, G.K. Chesterton, and Hermann Hesse. We are consciously providing an alternative to readers who increasingly feel alienated from the nihilistic, dogmatic science fiction and fantasy being published today. We seek nothing less than a Campbellian revolution in genre literature.

Total culture wars, very gamergate, much fail, wow. But the screaming question I feel the need to ask, is: why Finland? Could there be a connection between the white supremacist Perussuomalaiset (Finns Party), the overtly racist Sweden Democrats, the Dark Enlightenment/neoreactionary movement, and Vox Day’s peculiarly toxic sect of Christian Dominionist theology?

The Hugo Awards Were Always Political. But Now They’re Only Political.
Charlie Jane Anders

The new slate of Hugo Awards nominees were just announced, and you can read the list at the link. Suffice to say, the nominees in pretty much every category (other than Best Novel) come pretty much exclusively from a fan campaign called Sad Puppies, organized by Brad R. Torgersen and Larry Correia. Last year, Correia organized a campaign which successfully placed one item in each category on the Hugo slate — so this year, they decided to go further. As John Scalzi has pointed out, this was not against the spirit or the letter of the Hugo Awards rules.

Desperately stuffing the ballots
P Z Myers

The slate of Hugo Award nominees has been announced, and it contains a sorry collection of right-wing has-beens who put together a set of Vox-Day-approved candidates and then went cruising through #gamergate, gathering assholes who would vote for them simply to poke Social Justice Warriors in the eye, rather than on the basis of the quality of the writing. They called it the “Sad Puppy slate”. I’ll just point out that there was no comparable effort to assemble a bloc of ideologically liberal authors and then ask people to vote for them sight unseen — which I would have also said was ethically questionable and rather undermines the purpose of a writing award.

The Day Fandom Ended
Philip Sandifer

The Hugo Award Nominations have just been successfully hijacked by neofascists.

I want to pause, before I make any comments on the implications of that statement, and make it unambiguously clear that this is what happened. There were, this year, two organized and overlapping slates of proposed nominees – the Sad Puppies, promoted by Brad Torgersen, and the Rabid Puppies, promoted by Theodore Beale, who writes under the pen name Vox Day. Of these slates, the latter was the more successful and influential, with 87% of its proposed nominees ultimately getting nominated, forming 68% of the total Hugo nominations. Every single work nominated in the categories of Best Novella, Novelette, Short Story, Related Work, and Editor (both long and short form) came from those two slates, including two nominations for Theodore Beale himself, one in each editor category.
The question of how this happened is simple enough – the Hugo nomination process is fairly easy to game if you’ve got a bit of organization and followers willing to splash out a bit of cash. It only took about 250 people to stuff the ballot box to this effect – about 12.5% of the overall people who sent in nominations, though closer to 25% in some of the smaller categories.

More significant is the question of what this means.

To be frank, it means that traditional sci-fi/fantasy fandom does not have any legitimacy right now. Period. A community that can be this effectively controlled by someone who thinks black people are subhuman and who has called for acid attacks on feminists is not one whose awards have any sort of cultural validity. That sort of thing doesn’t happen to functional communities. And the fact that it has just happened to the oldest and most venerable award in the sci-fi/fantasy community makes it unambiguously clear that traditional sci-fi/fantasy fandom is not fit for purpose.

How Sci-Fi’s Hugo Awards Got Their Own Full-Blown Gamergate
Katy Waldman

What on Earthsea is happening with the 2015 Hugo Awards? On Saturday, nominations for the prestigious science fiction and fantasy prizes were announced. As usual, the finalists were determined by ballot; any member of the 2014, 2015, or 2016 WorldCons (that is, any fan who shelled out the requisite $40 to sign up for one of those conventions) could vote. And yet the names and works that rose to the top provoked a tsunami of controversy. That’s because a group of rightwing activists managed to game the selection process, proposing a fixed slate of nominees and feverishly promoting it. Since small margins are sufficient to secure Hugo nods, what emerged was what many are calling a strange, ideologically driven, and unrepresentative sample
of fiction.

All About Where You Place The Frame: On The Sad Puppies’ Hugo Victory
Ferrett Steinmetz
The Watchtower of Destruction: The Ferrett’s Journal

So let’s say you really like playing chess, so you start a chess club. Every week, you get together with your buddies to move those black and white pieces across the chessboard. Because you want to encourage the best chess players to thrive, you offer a valuable prize to the person who wins the most games.

Eventually, someone figures out that chess players don’t play as well when they’re distracted. These people decide to engage in psychological warfare – playing purposely slow to annoy their opponent, insulting them between moves, wearing T-shirts containing photoshopped pictures of their opponent’s mothers in pornographic positions, blaring them with foghorns when they’re deepest in concentration.

“It’s not in the rules you’ve created!” these people say, and in fact it isn’t. You have not, in fact, created a rule stopping them from sending forged emails to their strongest opponents to tell them the tournament is cancelled today. What happens is that soon, your chess club is filled with people who achieve victory with all sorts of creative techniques, and your club stinks of donkey dung because the latest distract-an-opponent craze is to wear a ghillie suit smeared with mule shit.

“We’re winning,” they say, when people complain, and this is true. “You just don’t like losing.”

Yet what they’re winning at largely has nothing to do with chess. Psychological warfare is as old as, well, warfare. Yes, perhaps you can snag a victory by taunting your teenaged opponent until they break down in tears and resign the game, but it’s difficult to argue that this win is the result of your skills at the game of chess. You could win any game under these rules with these tactics.

Worse, what happens is that your chess club now attracts the sort of people who don’t really give a crap about chess, but in fact just like watching people suffer. Your club becomes filled with people who actually dislike chess, but they do very much like the idea of making those snooty chess players pay for showing up.

Week by week, this chess club becomes less and less about chess, and more and more about inflicting psychological torture. [. . .]

The people who actually like chess drift away, not wanting to endure so much agony for a win that contains a very small amount of playing the game they love.

The chess club, if it survives, can barely be said to be called a chess club. Perhaps an endurance club with chessboards, yes, but not a chess club.

The reason I say this is because Brad Torgerson said an astonishingly stupid thing the other day on his Sad Puppy victory at the Hugos:

Best SP3 quote yet: “I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. I am endlessly amused by people who claim to love democracy until somebody they don’t like turns out to be better at it than they are.”

A Detailed Explanation
Matthew David Surridge
Black Gate

This is going to come out at some point, so I might as well say it here and now: I declined a Hugo nomination for this year’s Best Fan Writer award. I think it’s only fair to the people who voted for me to say why. Be warned, this is going to take a while. (And long-time readers of mine around these parts know that coming from me, that really means something.)

Black Gate Nominated for a Hugo Award in a Terrible Ballot
John ONeill
Black Gate

The nominees for the 2014 Hugo Awards have been announced by Sasquan, the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention, and let’s be blunt: it’s a terrible ballot.

Here’s a brief recap: over the last few years a number of writers (primarily conservative Americans) have become increasingly convinced that the growing number of women and non-white authors winning Hugo Awards is somehow evidence that the awards have been ‘hijacked’ by a minority group of voters and social justice warriors (SJWs). Their concerns are succinctly summarized at the right-wing new site

To make a point about how the awards are influenced by what they perceive as a small group of liberal elites, a handful of authors created a slate of nominees heavily dominated by conservative writers, and asked their followers to support those slates in their entirety. The primary slates were Brad Torgersen’s Sad Puppies 3 and Vox Day’s Rabid Puppies list.

Under cover of this semi-political movement, which added roughly 200 additional nominating ballots to last year’s total (and nearly 800 to the 2013 total), at least one of the organizers heavily seeded his slate with his own works. Vox Day’s Rapid Puppies ballot included no less than ten nominees for his Castalia House publishing company, and listed himself for both Best Editor (Short Form) and Best Editor (Long Form).

The results? As tabulated by Mike Glyer over at File 770, a total of 61 final ballot nominees from Sad Puppies 3 and Rabid Puppies made the final list of nominees. Only 24 nominees did not come from either list.

In short, the Hugo ballot this year was essentially dictated by two individuals who asked their followers to vote for their suggested candidates, regardless of what they actually thought was deserving.

Hugo nominations: Fan, incoming, 3, 2, 1 …
Simon Petrie

The 2015 Hugo award nominations have been announced, and Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine is shortlisted among those in the ‘Best Semiprozine’ category. A Hugo nomination is, of course, marvellous recognition for the achievements of a little Australian-based magazine, which has played its part in starting the careers of a great many local and overseas specfic authors, and which has given many members of the Andromeda Spaceways team, myself included, a great deal of useful experience in the tasks associated with publishing. As a member of the ASIM team, I ought to feel considerable pride in the nomination; and yet I cannot, not as I should. For it appears we did not get there under our own steam, but as one of the recommendations listed on the ‘Sad Puppies 3′ slate.

Lest this be seen as mere coincidence, I don’t see how it can be. ASIM‘s never been Hugo-shortlisted before, not even in the wake of the 2010 Worldcon in Melbourne. And 51 of the 60 ‘serving suggestions’ on the Sad Puppies 3 slate have found their way onto the Hugo ballot. All of Sad Puppies’ recommendations for Novella, Novelette, Related Work, Graphic Story, Long Form Editor, Short Form Editor, Professional Artist, Fanzine, Fancast, and John W Campbell Award got through to the ballot; there was no category in which some Sad Puppies rec did not get through. There is, of course, other stuff on the ballot as well; but it’s damned hard to see this as anything other than a disappointing exercise in tribalism, and as something, therefore, which immeasurably cheapens the ballot for anyone who finds themselves on it through such means.

Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Puppies of War
Brian K Lowe

So the nominations are in and, as predicted, the Puppies (Sad and Rabid) have left their mark on the carpet. Equally predictably, anti-Puppies are already rushing about looking for a clean towel and a spray bottle to clean up the mess. So did the Puppies win?

Well…not yet. Although the majority of nominees are Puppy-endorsed, there are those who aren’t. Those nominees (let’s call them Soft Kitties) might win, preserving their side’s honor for another year. (Although I should point out that, in most cases, being one side’s choice does not mean that you support that side–or any side. As in any war, some volunteered and some were drafted. Unfortunately, there are casualties from both classes.) And Hugo ballots have the “No Award” option, which will see unprecedented use this year. Whether No Award will rank first in any category remains to be seen, but it would, again, be seen as a blow against Puppies.

A Note About the Hugo Nominations This Year
John Scalzi

If, in the fullness of careful consideration, I come to believe certain nominees in a category do not merit being on the ballot at all, then I will do two things:

One, I will leave those nominees off my final ballot. If they’re not on my ballot, they can’t be ranked.

Two, after ranking the nominees I do believe deserve to be on the ballot, I will use the “No Award” option to signal that I would prefer that no Hugo be awarded, rather than to give it to any of the remaining nominees. Like so:


1. Deserving nominee #1
2. Deserving nominee #2

And thus undeserving nominees number 3, 4 and 5 receive no benefit from being on the ballot, and my preference for no award to be given to those people/works I deem unworthy of the award in that category is registered.

Sucky Hugos
Out of the Crooked Timber

So apparently the Hugos suck this year, thanks to an organized voting campaign. See Patrick Nielsen Hayden on the voting campaign, which seems to be in part a product of internal disputes within the field (various right wing people upset that f/sf isn’t ‘their’ field any more, and belongs to teh_women/teh_gay/teh_PoC) and in part overspill from Gamergate. I don’t know many of the slate of nominees put up by the campaign, with the minor exception of Marko Kloos (whose self-published book I read and thought was unexceptionable military SF with the usual odd politics), and the unlovely John C. Wright (whose work and political opinions remind me of Gene Wolfe if Gene Wolfe had been subjected to an involuntary lobotomy). I did read and like Katherine Addison’s (Sarah Monette’s) The Goblin Emperor (although I liked her Melusine books even more) but apart from that I don’t have much advice to prospective Hugo voters on what they should vote for. What I do have is opinions on other work that didn’t get nominated but that seemed to me to be worth reading, and I hope that CT readers have too. One of the important functions of awards is to point readers towards good work that they otherwise might have missed. Since the Hugo Awards won’t be doing much of that this year, other people should do what they can.

The Puppy-Free Hugo Award Voter’s Guide
Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Follow, or don’t, your choice. If you are voting the strict ix-nay uppy-pay slate, here’s the options in each category [. . .]

About Voting No Award
Kevin Standlee

No Award is a real option with real consequences. If No Award wins the election, no Hugo Award is presented in that category. It’s not the pretend “None of these Candidates” option that some US states like Nevada have, where the second-place finisher wins.

No Award is not theoretical. The last time it won was the 1977 Hugo Awards, where there was no Hugo Award presented for Best Dramatic Presentation.

How should I mark my ballot if I don’t like any of the candidates at all? Well, if you dislike them all equally, just put a 1 by No Award and leave the rest of your ballot in that category blank.

I like some of the candidates, but not all of them and don’t want any of the others to win. How should I vote? Rank the candidates that you do want to win in preference order, then No Award. If you dislike all of the remaining candidates equally, leave them all off your ballot.

If only the sci-fi writers who hijacked the Hugo awards had the wit to imagine a world beyond the Good Old Days
Helen Lewis

The Guardian

If you were going to build a world, there are a million ways you could make it strange and captivating. Throw in some elves, a mermaid, a few robot monks; dream up a land where dinosaurs still exist or the Nazis won the second world war.

But for some science fiction and fantasy fans, none of these riches of the imagination are enough: the alternate universe they most crave is the Good Old Days. SFF is in the grip of its own culture war, with a group of authors suggesting that the recent success of female and non-white writers is proof that political correctness has spread its tentacles so far that it is now ruining stories that include actual tentacles. Like many culture wars, the specific details – orcs! busty maidens! angry bloggers with baroque facial hair! – make it seem faintly absurd, but the underlying arguments are vital. We shape our culture and it shapes us, and the struggle for an artistic voice is part of the struggle to be seen as fully human.

Guided by the Beauty of Their Weapons: An Analysis of Theodore Beale and his Supporters
Philip Sandifer

Right. It’s probably about time to collect all the issues and discussion of the 2015 Hugo Awards into one big post that is, at least in terms of what I have to say, a definitive take on it. A long read, to be sure, but one that will hopefully manage to cover everything important and give a clear sense of the issues and their implications.

One note that is probably worth making before we begin – I am writing this with the assumption of a basically sympathetic audience who have heard bits of the disturbing story, but who aren’t clear on the whole picture. It’s meant to be persuasive to people who are, broadly speaking, left-leaning (or at least not far-right) fans of intelligent and literary science fiction, and who are not generally of the opinion that there was ever anything badly wrong with the Hugo Awards. This is not to say “someone who agrees absolutely with the Hugo Awards,” as such a person presumably does not exist, awards being like that, but it is to say “someone who thinks the Hugo Awards have gone to generally reasonable selections over the past five years.”

The All-Purpose Hugo Post
Hugo Awards liveblogging with the File770 commentariat.

Memories of Tonight’s Hugo Ceremony
File770’s Mike Glyer on the Hugo 2015 ceremony.

Who Won Science Fiction’s Hugo Awards, and Why It Matters
Amy Wallace

Since 1953, to be nominated for a Hugo Award, among the highest honors in science fiction and fantasy writing, has been a dream come true for authors who love time travel, extraterrestrials and tales of the imagined future. Past winners of the rocket-shaped trophy—nominated and voted on by fans—include people like Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Harlan Ellison, Philip K. Dick, and Robert A. Heinlein. In other words: the Gods of the genre.

But in recent years, as sci-fi has expanded to include storytellers who are women, gays and lesbians, and people of color, the Hugos have changed, too. At the presentation each August, the Gods with the rockets in their hands have been joined by Goddesses and those of other ethnicities and genders and sexual orientations, many of whom want to tell stories about more than just spaceships.

Early this year, that shift sparked a backlash: a campaign, organized by three white, male authors, that resulted in a final Hugo ballot dominated by mostly white, mostly male nominees. While the leaders of this two-pronged movement—one faction calls itself the Sad Puppies and the other the Rabid Puppies—broke no rules, many sci-fi writers and fans felt they had played dirty, taking advantage of a loophole in an arcane voting process that enables a relatively few number of voters to dominate. Motivated by Puppygate, meanwhile, a record 11,300-plus people bought memberships to the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane, Washington, where the Hugo winners were announced Saturday night.

I Went to the Hugo Awards in Spokane This Weekend. Here’s What I Saw.
Tegan Moore
The Stranger

The INB Performing Arts Center in Spokane was more Doctor Who shirts than evening gowns on Saturday night, but most people had at least put on their nice pants. This is as fancy as speculative fiction gets. We filed to our seats. I got out my phone, and my illustrious writer companion and I leaned in for a selfie.

“Why are you smiling?” said my illustrious companion. “We aren’t having fun.”

This was true. We were there for blood. We were there for the 2015 Hugo Awards.

Speculative fiction has not escaped the culture wars without trauma. The Great Hugo Debacle is the latest manifestation.

The Hugo Awards, “for excellence in the field of science fiction and fantasy,” are nominated and voted on by fandom, where fandom equals the folks who either attend the annual world science fiction and fantasy convention or pay for a voting membership. Anyone with $40 and the internet can add their voice. This year, a movement comprising mostly white dudes flooded the ballot with a slate comprising mostly white dudes. They called themselves the Sad Puppies, which one assumes they regret.

Being a Jerk About the Hugos: Not as Effective a Strategy as You Might Think
John Scalzi

As most of you know, at last Saturday’s Hugo Awards ceremony, the voters, of which there were a record number, chose not to offer awards in five categories rather than to give the award to nominees who got on the ballot because of the Sad/Rabid Puppy slating campaign. In the categories in which awards were given, in nearly all cases the Puppy nominees in the category finished below “No Award.” The only category where a Puppy nominee prevailed was in Best Dramatic Presentation, in which one of their choices was Guardians of the Galaxy. There’s not a lot of credit they can take for that one.

Why did the Puppies fare so poorly? There has already been much speculation and analysis on the matter, and there will continue to be for some time. But in my estimation (and leaving out issues of literary quality of the nominations, which is super-subjective), the reason for their massive and historic failure is simple:

They acted like jerks, and performed a series of jerk maneuvers.

Diversity wins as the Sad Puppies lose at the Hugo awards
Damien Walter
The Guardian

Thank you Sad Puppies, you’ve done more for diversity in sci-fi than an army of social justice warriors.

For those arriving new to Hugogeddon 2015 I will briefly reprise the state of play. The Hugos are a fan-decided award for sci-fi books. In Spokane, Washington, at the weekend, the Chinese science fiction author Liu Cixin won the big prize for best novel, but “no award” was declared in five other categories. The awards bring an end to months of controversy, in which George RR Martin himself waded in several times to urge fans to defeat the Sad Puppies.

The Puppies have riven the SF community this year by organising a reactionary vote in protest against the increasing number of women and writers and colour who have been winning the awards. This group of conservative authors and fans were able to make a sizeable impact because the awards are decided by a relatively small number of fans.
‘No award’ sweeps the Hugo Awards following controversy
Read more

As I write it is clear that the Puppies’ disproportional effect on the Hugo shortlists was not reflected in the award winners. In fact, the fan vote was triumphant in nearly all categories, except a handful where the Sad Puppy bloc vote forced work of such poor quality onto the ballot that fans were left no choice but to nominate “no award” instead. It was the worst result possible for the Sad Puppy voters, and a personal humiliation for their leaders.

The Hugo Results—Don’t Be A Dick
Matthew M. Foster

I dwell on how the pups cheated, on their racism, on the politics they brought in, on their anti-intellectual attitude, and on the low quality of the works they championed. I think about what this means, how it negates honors. I separate their offenses into parts and look at where those came from, how they developed, and what their attacks really mean.

Fandom said, “Dude, you are way over-thinking this. Those guys are dicks!” And…well…I think Fandom pretty much nailed it.

So, if it was a puppy, Fandom rejected it. They celebrated everyone who got on the ballot fairly (even those in categories where they ended up with zero competition) but didn’t get near any pup nominee. They threw the party-asshole out the door and went back to dancing. This works out better than my way of doing things. I might be more consistent, but there is nowhere to go with mine, and not much fun. Fandom booted the pups, put on blinders to ignore the wreckage, and had fun.

No doubt there were plenty who read all the nominations and considered all equally. I read them all, and without a shred of philosophy or politics, would have placed “No Award” in every place it was given based purely on the poor storytelling and minimal craftsmanship. No one can honestly claim those were award-worthy works. But looking over all the results (Orphan Black winning is telling), it’s clear the “Those guys are dicks!” vote ruled.

I should have seen that coming. It’s happened before. Years back Scientologists tried to get L. Ron Hubbard a Hugo, and like the pups, they dicked their way to a nomination for him. He lost. A lot. He wasn’t rejected for his politics, but for being a dick. Fandom saw it as a dick move, and reacted. They voted “Those guys are dicks!” and Hubbard ended up at the bottom. And that was just one nomination they were dicking in. In that case, Fandom was allowed to hiss, and it did. So when a new group came prancing in, yelling about politics this and victimization that, and then tried to play the system, Fandom again saw that some people were again acting like dicks, and they said it, with votes.

Final update: The 2015 Hugo Awards, 22 August 2015

Designed by Matthew Dockrey Photo by Kevin Standlee

2015 Hugo Award
Designed by Matthew Dockrey
Photo by Kevin Standlee

The not-so-final-after-all-updates:

What We Talk About When We Talk About Lying Crazypants Liars Who Lie
Scott Lynch

Wright names no names because there are no names to be named. There is no work to be shown. There is no evidence to be offered.

Look, John C. Wright is, in all modesty, a tediously pious moralizer, one of the most tediously pious moralizers shitting indigestible paragraphs today. Wright has rarely met a sentence to which he didn’t want to add twenty-three words and just a soupcon of plausibly-deniable Blood Libel. The most striking feature of John C. Wright’s religiosity is that it is indistinguishable from a professional troll’s deliberate attempt to discredit John C. Wright’s religiosity. Even an atheist can spot the thinness of Wright’s “Christian” ethos, smeared atop the fluff like the molecule-thin film of petrochemical butter on movie popcorn. Wright confuses concrete-dry levelness of tone with actual decency and civility, just as he confuses the Christianity of Christ with a viciously masturbatory conviction that God is his bigger, meaner cellmate who is going to pound every other inmate in the ass SO HARD in the showers, they won’t even believe it.

But that’s not really terribly important. Wright makes these points clear over and over again on his own time, and the fact that he’s a bigoted goofball is hardly a state secret. What is important is that nothing he’s tried to push about the Hugo Awards or about Patrick Nielsen Hayden has any scintilla of truth to it, and anyone who tries to tell you differently in the coming months is either a liar or a water carrier for a depressingly stupid conspiracy theory spun by liars.


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: