Wednesday, April 15, 2015

More on the Hugos

I've been thinking about the Hugos since my previous post on the subject, considering what I would do as a voter or as an organizer. There's some pretty radical ideas out there on how to prevent this type of slate nominating in the future. I think most of them are not good.

The Hugos are not broken. The spirit of fandom is what's broken here.

No matter what action is taken by the voters of the Hugos or the organizers of Worldcon, the self-proclaimed "puppies" have already won. They shook up fandom in a big way, they've made their voices heard. They have just about everyone who cares about science fiction talking and writing about them. They can happily claim victory no matter what happens next, and it's obvious that they will proclaim victory regardless of the eventual outcome of the Hugo voting. That cannot be stopped by anyone. The "puppies" succeeded. Accept it and move on.

The most pressing issue for voters of Worldcon is how to vote on the current nominees. I've come to the conclusion, based on reading a lot on the subject and thinking about how the ballots work, that the proper thing for Worldcon Hugo voters to do is to ignore the fact that the nominations came from a slate and treat this like any other Hugo ballot. Basically, if it deserves a Hugo, rank it as such. If it does not deserve a Hugo, rank it below "No Award" (or leave it off the ballot with "No Award" at the bottom of the ballot). Just because a reactionary group nominated something does not mean it is not deserving of the award, although it may be difficult for people to vote for anything nominated by the "puppies".

Just because a group gamed the nominations doesn't mean it's acceptable to game the voting.

The next step is to figure out how to counter the "puppies" in the future. I think the rules of the Hugos are fine, and should not be changed. If it takes counter-slates to fight off the "puppies", then that's what it will take. I suspect that it won't. I think if more people decide to participate in the nomination process, the "puppies" will fade into the background. I think fandom can overcome this simply by acting honest and being the best it can be. I may be an optimist. But changing the rules will truly mean that the "puppies" won. Let 'em spend a lot of money trying to game the ballot again. If there is actually enough interest, if enough fans actually care, then the slates will not be able to take over the Hugos in the future, now that the problem has been exposed.

This is a tough one, and I leave it up to the people who will actually vote to figure out what they are going to do. I don't think the Hugos are truly broken, though. This is a wake up call, it will be interesting to see whether it works... or whether Worldcon and the Hugos will fall, fail and become eventually irrelevant to even fans of science fiction.

Some further reading: George R. R. Martin responds to puppy leader Larry Correia. Honestly, from the quoted bits of Correia, it sounds like he's an incredibly thin-skinned whiner who probably thinks the entire world is out to get him. He really doesn't come across well. If what he alleges is true, that's one thing... but without specific quotes and evidence, it sure seems like the treatment he is claiming he's received is angry hyperbole from a guy who hasn't gotten his way. I know. I used to be exactly like that (and probably still am, to some extent). I wonder if he'll look back at his actions 20 years from now in utter shame? I'm very embarrassed by my own persecution complex. He seems to have a very healthy persecution complex of his own, made worse by his reactions to small insults that have resulted in people truly hating him.

Also, there is the rabid portion of the "puppies"... with leader Vox Day. I absolutely cannot emphasize enough that anyone who agrees with this guy is persona non grata as far as I'm concerned. VD has said outright that women should not be educated, and said that the Taliban shooting Malala for wanting an education was the right thing to do. He blames what he sees as the downfall of society on feminism. From his words, it appears that he believes women should be domestic slaves for men, nothing more. He's a sick, sick person. That he has any supporters at all is a terrible thing for society. I can totally understand how some people will not be able to vote for anything nominated by his group. So, if someone chooses to put "No Award" in any category that is entirely made up of "rabid puppies" choices, I cannot fault them.

But I still think the wisest choice is simply to proceed as if the slate were normal and vote on the nominees by their quality. Put "No Award" on the ballot after all the choices that deserve a Hugo, then leave any choices that don't deserve a Hugo off the ballot entirely.

Now, there's actually quite some time before Hugo ballots are due, and I cannot promise that new information won't change my mind in that time. David Gerrold has been posting regularly about this, including a ton of good links to various discussions. I've also followed George R. R. Martin's words on the subject, and found plenty of links on my own through Google or other FB posts. The Daily Beast has a good summary of the whole thing. This post links the puppies groups. There's a lot to think about, and a lot of personalities involved.

A late update, two nominees have been replaced on the Hugo ballot because they were determined to be ineligible. It appears one of the replacements, the artist, is a slate-nominee from the rabid group. The novelette doesn't appear on either slate, which now makes that a category with a single non-puppy nom.

One, possibly tongue-in-cheek, proposal is to create a new and special Hugo award, one without the rocket and instead with a turd or some other appropriate symbol. The award would be given to the fan who caused the most uproar and anger in fandom due to their actions and not their creative works. It would only be given once, and the nominees would be the leadership of the puppy groups alone. They clearly want something, the notion goes. Why not give them something? It would have to have a creatively nasty name, as well. "Least welcome at Worldcon" probably wouldn't do it. Other folks have suggested handing out asterisks in addition to rockets this year.

For the record, I would love to be able to attend Sasquan - 2015 Worldcon this year, since it is so close to my neck of the woods. But I can't afford either the membership or the time off work. Should someone wish to purchase me a supporting membership to vote, I wouldn't turn it down... but I'd be hard-pressed to get through all the material in time to vote... so I regretfully don't recommend it. I do think I may want to become a member in the future so I can be part of the nominating process, and maybe help offset the slate voting a little. We'll see.