“A starship, not a nuclear missile”

This'll be me soon.
This’ll be me soon.

I’m heading out to the airport soon, but I thought I’d mention some of the updates to the Hugo Awards controversy that have happened in the last few days. You can refer to my last post for a more in depth run down of the events, but in short:

Connie Willis was invited to present the Hugos this year, but declined. She wrote up her reasons in a blog post titled “Why I Won’t Be a Presenter at the Hugo Awards This Year“, but they boil down to the fact that the Sad Puppies et al. have threatened to continue to spam the Hugos with their own nominees if they don’t win this year, and Connie refuses to host the awards and pretend everything is fine and dandy.

In my own particular case, I feel I’ve also been ordered to go along with them and act as if this were an ordinary Hugo Awards ceremony. I’ve essentially been told to engage in some light-hearted banter with the nominees, give one of them the award, and by my presence–and my silence–lend cover and credibility to winners who got the award through bullying and extortion.

Meanwhile, one of the nominees from the Sad Puppies slate, John C. Wright (who shows up an unprecedented six times on the ballot, three of which are under “best novella”) had one of his stories disqualified because it had been previously published on his website in 2013 and was not eligible for a 2014 award. Additionally, Jon Eno, nominated for Best Professional Artist, had no eligible works in 2014 and was also taken off the ballot. Apparently the Sad Puppies have seen John C. Wright’s removal as further proof of the liberal conspiracy that has taken over the Hugos, since in 2006, John Scalzi was nominated for his work, Old Man’s War, despite having been serialized on his own blog in the year previous. Why was Scalzi considered eligible then, and Wright disqualified for the same thing now? Scalzi points out that nearly a decade has passed since then, and ideas about self-publication have changed in the meantime.

In 2002 there was no Kindle, no Nook, no tablet or smart phone; there was no significant and simple commerce channel for independent publication; and there was not, apparently, a widespread understanding that self-publishing, in whatever form, constituted formal publication for the purposes of the Hugo Awards. 2013 is not 2002; 2015, when Mr. Wright’s story was nominated, is not 2006, when OMW was nominated.

Indeed, it was only two months ago that SFWA decided to allow self-published authors to become members of their organization. Self-published authors have done a lot of advocacy to be considered professional authors in the last few years, and as a result of that, self-publication is now counted as publication for the purposes of award eligibility. Times change.

Finally, George R. R. Martin has been writing extensively about the controversy, holding a long conversation with Sad Puppy coordinator Larry Correia. Not surprisingly, GRRM has been quite verbose on the topic. I’ll link you to his most recent post. You can find the rest on his blog if you’re so inclined.

If I could clap my hands and make everybody play nice, I would, but I do not have that superpower. But it is interesting that you talk about “scaring the hell out of authors” on your side. Fear is a big part of this. People on the other side of the fence are scared as well, and when people are afraid, they lash out. Both sides here feel they are being attacked, and the war of words just seems to keep escalating, and all that can come of that is mutually assured destruction.

I like to think the Hugo represents a starship, not a nuclear missile.

Well said, George. And now I’m off to Ireland.


Hugo Nominations 2015, now with more scandal!

hugo 1 Hugo nominations were announced yesterday, and in much the same vein as last year, there’s been a bit of an uproar over the results. This year there was an organized effort by GamerGaters to troll the nominations and nominate people just to anger so-called “social justice warriors” (people who try to promote gender equality and sexual and racial diversity in fiction). In particular you’ll note that Theodore “Vox Day” Beale is nominated twice, for Best Editor, Short Form and Best Editor, Long Form. I’ve talked about Vox Day before. Once is enough. However, he’s not the only one on the list who was nominated as a result of this organized effort. To read more about the “Sad Puppy” slate, read these two posts by Steve Davidson. In short:

At its base, Sad Puppies is about a few authors who have twigged to the fact that controversy, outrage and building an army of sycophants is good for their bottom line – especially if they can gin up a Judas goat for everyone to love to hate.  The fact that the prize at the end of all of this bullshit might be a Hugo Award for one or more of them – along with bragging rights over how successfully they’ve managed to corrupt fix the system – is the plum in the pudding.

In case you haven’t been in the internet in a couple years and haven’t heard of it, GamerGate is a movement of violently racist and misogynist video gamers who actively work to drive women and racial minorities out of both playing and developing video games, in the bizarre theory that video games are only for white men. They attempt to achieve this goal by sending rape and death threats to people, hacking their accounts and posting home addresses and bank information publicly, threatening mass shootings at places where video game players might be talking about diversity in video games, etc. One thing you might notice from my description is that they have nothing whatsoever to do with literary awards.

hugo 2Patrick Nielsen Hayden has a post with screenshots of GamerGaters talking about trying to rig the voting. John Scalzi talks about how to vote for those nominees you feel deserve an award, and how to note your displeasure with those who don’t. io9 has a nice overview about the drama.

hugo 3I am not a WorldCon member and therefore cannot vote in the Hugos. I’m beginning to think I should pony up the cash for the privilege, however. The Hugos need more people who are willing to nominate and vote for fiction on its own merit. (Incidentally, I see Ann Leckie is once again up for Best Novel, this time for Ancillary Sword. I just bought that one and can’t wait to read it.)

I feel a little bad for the authors who only got on the ballot because of this campaign. Not all of them had a say in their own nominations. It must suck to wonder whether you were nominated because you were actually talented, or only as a joke to piss people off. If I were them, I’d distance myself from the Sad Puppies and GamerGaters, to cut the stench of politics off my nomination.