Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Hugo Nomination Breakdown

There is nothing like a little confusion to make life interesting. This year's Hugo Nominations certainly fit that description. I've been trying to see what sort of voting patterns there might be and I give up. I see plenty of evidence that many of these nominees, at least in some categories like Best Novel, got there because of more nominations than the Puppy Slates can account for. Originally the nominations in that category included three from the Puppy Slates, but one withdrew and the next on in line was not on those Slates. So, because I cannot see a clear pattern in every category, I put together this list with the sources of the nominations in different colors. Since I keep calling them Organic, I went with Green. For nominee appearing on both Puppy Slates, I picked orange. Red for Rabid and then Blue for Sad. Two nominees asked to be withdrawn from consideration too late to be removed. They are in italics.

If, like me, you see a nominee that you consider worthy, perhaps the source of the nomination doesn't matter. To others it matters very much. For instance, an episode of Game of Thrones was nominated. It was on the Rabid Puppy Slate. The show is excellent and I would say Hugo worthy, but I will have to refresh my mind on that episode before I vote. But voting is a personal matter. I will vote my conscience and everyone else can vote theirs. Perhaps our slate of nominees is not ideal, but I think most of the categories have the potential for an honest and timeless winner, regardless of how they were nominated.

Without further ado, here is the list:

Organic Nominations
Originated by Sad Puppies and supported by Rabid Puppies
Sad Puppies only
Rabid Puppies only
Titles withdrawn after the list was finalized

Best Novel (1827 nominating ballots, 587 entries, range 212-387)

Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
The Dark Between the Stars, Kevin J. Anderson (Tor Books)
The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette) (Tor Books)
Skin Game, Jim Butcher (Orbit UK/Roc Books)
The Three Body Problem, Cixin Liu, Ken Liu translator (Tor Books)

Best Novella (1083 nominating ballots, 201 entries, range 145-338)

Big Boys Don’t Cry, Tom Kratman (Castalia House)
“Flow”, Arlan Andrews, Sr. (Analog, 11-2014)
One Bright Star to Guide Them, John C. Wright (Castalia House)
“Pale Realms of Shade”, John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House)
“The Plural of Helen of Troy”, John C. Wright (City Beyond Time: Tales of the Fall of Metachronopolis, Castalia House)

Best Novelette (1031 nominating ballots, 314 entries, (72-267)

“Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium”, Gray Rinehart (Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, 05-2014)
“Championship B’tok”, Edward M. Lerner (Analog, 09-2014)
“The Day the World Turned Upside Down”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Lia Belt translator (Lightspeed, 04-2014)
“The Journeyman: In the Stone House”, Michael F. Flynn (Analog, 06-2014)
“The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale”, Rajnar Vajra (Analog, 07/08-2014)

Best Short Story (1174 nominating ballots, 728 entries, range 132-226)

“On A Spiritual Plain”, Lou Antonelli (Sci Phi Journal #2, 11-2014)
“The Parliament of Beasts and Birds”, John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House)
“A Single Samurai”, Steven Diamond (The Baen Big Book of Monsters, Baen Books)
“Totaled”, Kary English (Galaxy’s Edge Magazine, 07-2014)
“Turncoat”, Steve Rzasa (Riding the Red Horse, Castalia House)

Best Related Work (1150 nominating ballots, 346 entries, range 206-273)

“The Hot Equations: Thermodynamics and Military SF”, Ken Burnside (Riding the Red Horse, Castalia House)
Letters from Gardner, Lou Antonelli (The Merry Blacksmith Press)
Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth, John C. Wright (Castalia House)
“Why Science is Never Settled”, Tedd Roberts (Baen.com)
Wisdom from My Internet, Michael Z. Williamson (Patriarchy Press)

Best Graphic Story (785 nominating ballots, 325 entries, range 60-201)

Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal, written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Adrian Alphona and Jake Wyatt, (Marvel Comics)
Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery, written by Kurtis J. Weibe, art by Roc Upchurch (Image Comics)
Saga Volume 3, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics))
Sex Criminals Volume 1: One Weird Trick, written by Matt Fraction, art by Chip Zdarsky (Image Comics)
The Zombie Nation Book #2: Reduce Reuse Reanimate, Carter Reid (The Zombie Nation)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form (1285 nominating ballots, 189 entries, range 204-769)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier, screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, concept and story by Ed Brubaker, directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo (Marvel Entertainment, Perception, Sony Pictures Imageworks)
Edge of Tomorrow, screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, and John-Henry Butterworth, directed by Doug Liman (Village Roadshow, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, 3 Arts Entertainment; Viz Productions)
Guardians of the Galaxy, written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman, directed by James Gunn (Marvel Studios, Moving Picture Company)
Interstellar, screenplay by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan, directed by Christopher Nolan (Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures, Lynda Obst Productions, Syncopy)
The Lego Movie, written by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, story by Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman, Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller (Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, LEGO System A/S, Vertigo Entertainment, Lin Pictures, Warner Bros. Animation (as Warner Animation Group))

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form (938 nominating ballots, 470 entries, range 71-170)

Doctor Who: “Listen”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Douglas Mackinnon (BBC Television)
The Flash: “Pilot”, teleplay by Andrew Kreisberg & Geoff Johns, story by Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg & Geoff Johns, directed by David Nutter (The CW) (Berlanti Productions, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Television)
Game of Thrones: “The Mountain and the Viper”, written by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss, directed by Alex Graves ((HBO Entertainment in association with Bighead, Littlehead; Television 360; Startling Television and Generator Productions)
Grimm: “Once We Were Gods”, written by Alan DiFiore, directed by Steven DePaul (NBC) (GK Productions, Hazy Mills Productions, Universal TV)
Orphan Black: “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried”, ” written by Graham Manson, directed by John Fawcett (Temple Street Productions, Space/BBC America)

Best Editor, Short Form (870 nominating ballots, 187 entries, range 162-279)

Jennifer Brozek
Vox Day
Mike Resnick
Edmund R. Schubert
Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Best Editor, Long Form (712 nominating ballots, 124 entries, range 166-368)

Vox Day
Sheila Gilbert
Jim Minz
Anne Sowards
Toni Weisskopf

Best Professional Artist (753 nominating ballots, 300 entries, range 118-188)

Julie Dillon
Kirk DouPonce
Nick Greenwood
Alan Pollack
Carter Reid

Best Semiprozine (660 nominating ballots, 100 entries, range 94-229)

Abyss & Apex, Wendy Delmater editor and publisher
Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine, Andromeda Spaceways Publishing Association Incorporated, 2014 editors David Kernot and Sue Bursztynski
Beneath Ceaseless Skies, edited by Scott H. Andrews
Lightspeed Magazine, edited by John Joseph Adams, Stefan Rudnicki, Rich Horton, Wendy N. Wagner, and Christie Yant
Strange Horizons, Niall Harrison, editor-in-chief

Best Fanzine (576 nominating ballots, 162 entries, range 68-208)

Black Gate, edited by John O’Neill
Elitist Book Reviews, edited by Steven Diamond
Journey Planet, edited by James Bacon, Christopher J Garcia, Colin Harris, Alissa McKersie, and Helen J. Montgomery
The Revenge of Hump Day, edited by Tim Bolgeo
Tangent SF Online, edited by Dave Truesdale

Best Fancast (668 nominating ballots, 162 entries, range 69-179)

Adventures in SciFi Publishing, Brent Bower (Executive Producer), Kristi Charish, Timothy C. Ward & Moses Siregar III (Co-Hosts, Interviewers and Producers)
Dungeon Crawlers Radio, Daniel Swenson (Producer/Host), Travis Alexander & Scott Tomlin (Hosts), Dale Newton (Host/Tech), Damien Swenson (Audio/Video Tech)
Galactic Suburbia Podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Presenters) and Andrew Finch (Producer)
The Sci Phi Show, Jason Rennie
Tea and Jeopardy, Emma Newman and Peter Newman

Best Fan Writer (777 nominating ballots, 265 entries, range 129-201)

Dave Freer
Amanda S. Green
Jeffro Johnson
Laura J. Mixon
Cedar Sanderson

Best Fan Artist (296 nominating ballots, 198 entries, range 23-48)

Ninni Aalto
Brad W. Foster
Elizabeth Leggett
Spring Schoenhuth
Steve Stiles

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (851 nominating ballots, 220 entries, range 106-229)

Wesley Chu
Jason Cordova
Kary English
Rolf Nelson
Eric S. Raymond

Monday, April 27, 2015

An Open Letter to Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen

It has come to my attention in all the fracas that there are a lot of harsh words being spread around, mostly coming from the extreme sides. In an effort to get to the bottom of what is going on, I've been reading... a lot... and have noticed some things that lead me to write this open letter in the hopes that it can aid in understanding and help calm the furor. I have narrowed down the root causes of most of the tension to three major points. These are not the only issues, but I think everything else stems from them making these the root causes of the controversy.

First off, I'd like to address your contention that a group of "SJW"s have been controlling the Hugo nominations (and therefore who wins) for years. I have seen lots of statistics on this. I tend to be skeptical of claims like this because they can often turn out to be false, but I have looked at it carefully an honestly. I have so far seen nothing to convince me of this. The sheer volume of works nominated in most of the categories make this highly unlikely. With over 2000 nominations received, if there was a special "SJW" slate, Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies would never have gotten their slates through the nomination process. Instead, what I see is a very diverse set of nominations with certain ones being more popular. A popularity that is reflected in ratings and awards that have nothing to do with the Hugo nomination or award process.

Some have pointed to online forums where some have discussed nominations before hand, but I have never seen a slate of five top candidates to nominate, only discussions that include many more works than that. Some post their top picks, some an unsorted list of contenders. There doesn't seem to be any coordinated effort to settle on a final list of nominees. I did not see any discussion over the diversity variables of the work or the writer. So while there is indeed discussion in various places around the internet, there is a lack of any hard and fast proof of your contention that there are a group of "SJW"s controlling the Hugo Awards. The evidence just isn't there.

Your case also ignores just how long this sort of work has been leading the Hugo Awards. I have read widely in science fiction and dabbled in fantasy and there has long been a trend toward more literary works and more diversity. This is not something that has been forced on the Hugo Awards. If you look carefully, you will find that the previous generations wrote great stories that also had a message. Heinlein wrote both Starship Troopers and Stranger in a Strange Land showing the diversity of his range and beliefs. Stranger in a Strange Land was big with those on the left. Anne McCaffrey's Pern series started out with some very pertinent political messages carried with the great story. Her's were the first stories where I encountered openly gay characters in. She was the first woman to win a Hugo 47 years ago.

Rather than some secret cabal of "SJW"s, I think the now largely deceased earlier generations are to blame because the most popular books of the day did contain a message. So did many of the TV Series. Star Trek (both the original series and The Next Generation garnered two Hugos each) in particular. Many authors considered themselves moralists, making comments on the good and bad of humanity. I really don't see much difference in what is written today, in terms of the message that is carried by a lot of fiction and what was written 10, 20, 40, 60, or 100 years ago. Even the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs carry a message of sorts. I would agree that when the message overpowers the story and gets preachy that it gets annoying, but few stories lack a message because authors always put themselves into their work. Science fiction, more than most genres. In science fiction, the author must make predictions of the future - predictions on how humanity will turn out, either for good or bad. Even portraying the status quo is a prediction.

And I won't deny that there are groups who do have an agenda. But the evidence for them influencing the Hugos just isn't there. In fact the success this year of the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies slates is about the best proof that there is no "SJW" cabal in charge. The Hugo nominations come from the fans. Yes, they are the fans who participate in Worldcon, but every award has to come from some sort of organization, and the Hugos are the most open of all of them. When you look up the general popularity of a lot of the Hugo Award winners, you find that they often have a wide popularity. Red Shirts, Ancillary Justice, Game of Thrones, Doctor Who. These are easy to check in the best novel and best dramatic presentations categories. Red Shirts, for all the flack it got from some corners for winning, has been green lit for a TV Series. The Hugo wins for these directly reflect a wider popularity.

That brings me to the first of two points of why your success this year has caused such an uproar.

First, you put out a slate of nomination candidates. Not just a list of suggestions, but five nominees in some of the key categories. Your Sad Puppy slate was picked up, modified slightly, and shared as the Rabid Puppy slate which carried that to nearly every category. Because you listed five nominees, and between the two slates there were enough nominations to out vote the normal voters, you pushed out the more organic favorites of the year. When they publish the list of the top 15 nominees in each category later in the year, we will get to see just who got bumped off the list.

That you had works you wanted to see nominated really isn't the issue. You did this two times before with no uproar. That this year the two Puppy slates took over the entire nominee list in several categories is. It comes down to a slate and getting people, not to express their own opinions, but to follow yours to the letter that has people mad. I won't even get into the makeup of your list which has led to the nominations taking a step backward in terms of diversity. I'll just point out that it makes many even angrier. But it is the slate idea that you ran with that is the real issue. I personally would like to see the rules changed to prevent that in the future, but I won't be at the Worldcon so I can't take part in the rules meeting.

The second thing that has caused the uproar are your ties to Vox Day and his Rabid Puppy slate. I should note that it is actually this Rabid Puppy slate that swept the nominations. Where the slates differ, it is the Rabid Puppy slate that got the nomination. But the backlash is seems to be more directed at the Sad Puppy campaign as the originator and public face of the Puppy slates.

Vox Day had caused quite a stir previously in the SFWA. He has become persona non grata there and the opinions he has expressed in many areas, such as race, gender, his fellow writers, etc. has not won him any friends and those ill feelings toward him have increased the ire against you. Your cause is now forever tainted because he has ridden your coattails and you let him, even encouraged him. Rather than shun him as the pariah he is, you defend him. Instead of standing up along with the overwhelming majority of the SF community against what he stands for, you have embraced him as an ally. The enemy of my enemy is my friend... well, not in this case. He is a poison and both of you and Sad Puppies are forever tainted by your acceptance of what he has done.

In addition to his well know bigotry and his bad attitude concerning the SFWA, he has threatened to destroy the Hugo Awards. Frankly, this should have really caused you to distance yourselves from him. If the goal is to get works you enjoy nominated for an award because you feel they are being overlooked, you need the Hugos. Destroying them does not do you, or anyone else, any good. It does benefit Vox Day, giving him a much needed victory after the beating he took running for SFWA president. But if you want to see any awards ever, you need the Hugos intact. If the Hugos die we are left with the Nebula Awards. They are given out by the SFWA. Do you think you stand any chance of gaming the system there? No. That is not an award by fans like the Hugos.

There are more than one group who feel the Hugos are better off dead than be controlled by the other side. The problem is that Vox Day's view is a minority. The majority would rather see them die than see him control the awards. So if the Hugos die, it will be on the terms of the fans who attend Worldcon, not you or Vox Day. They have been the widely acknowledged crown jewel of awards for science fiction and fantasy. If they die that title automatically goes to the Nebula Awards. There has been a great many dual winners over the years. That duality in acknowledgment is another point against some secret cabal of "SJW"s gaming the Hugos, because there is no way for the same group to also game the Nebulas.

So, with a contention that there is a group of "SJW"s at work knocked down, with your slate voting concept seen as the great evil, and with your alliance with Vox Day pulling your otherwise noble goals into the gutter, I would hope you would reconsider your stand on the issues. The slate idea must go. It is really the root cause of ill will against you two. Had you succeeded in getting two nominees in each category, that would have been a success. As it stands now, the seeming success in getting so many nominees on the ballot and dominating so many categories is actually your downfall. And your association with Vox Day is pulling you down the final distance.

I read Brad's very nice post about racism and bigotry really being a type of tribalism. It made great sense. But to then be allied with Vox Day puts a lie to all the logic and thought of that idea. As long as you are allied with him and support him you tacitly support his horrible level of bigotry and no one can take what you say your own beliefs are seriously. In many minds, his bigotry applies to you two as well. There are some people it is just not worth being allied with, even if they share a similar cause. Being allied with Vox Day has very likely destroyed any chance either of you have of ever getting a Hugo or whatever might take its place. It is not your cause, which is just, but the combination of a nomination slate and being allied with Vox Day that is leading you down a dark path.

I, for one, am quite willing to forgive and forget if you forgo the slate concept and break ties with Vox Day. You do not have to give up your cause or give up trying to get works you feel worthy nominated. That is the whole point of the Hugo Awards being fan sourced. Anyone can conceivably win if they get noticed. But going for a slate and getting Vox Day and his cronies to carry their version of that slate to victory is not the kind of notice you want. You want people to see these works and agree to their greatness. Instead, these works may now tainted and their creators marked. But there is still a chance to save your cause.

In many ways, I agree with you. But I have long seen a trend to have a message in stories. The great writers I enjoy can't help but put there message in there. It is part of who they are. But that has rarely gotten in the way of a great story. It is that goal of a great story that any award given by science fiction and fantasy fans should put first. A lot of times all you need to do is put something great in front of them for them to see it. This time, the way you did it has overshadowed what you were trying to do. that is a shame. But what you are fighting against is not some secret cabal of "SJW"s, it is the participating fans at Worldcon. I'm sure there are a few in there who could rightly be categorized as "SJW"s, but it is the body who votes for who receives the award and not only do the winners of the Hugos tend to be popular at Worldcon, but they are popular with the internet at large. Some may doubt the quality of the winners, but when you take a look it is impossible to deny their popularity.

While the Hugo Awards may not work the way you want them to, they have worked for the fan community since they started. It is rare that such a fan selected award marks the best of the field and I think the Hugos are unique and worth preserving. I think the best way to do that is to move on from this year, make the best of the nomination slate, and start fresh next year. I must confess that I am trying to organize a campaign against slate voting that I have dubbed the Soft Kitty Campaign, but its sole purpose to get people involved, no matter who they are voting for. I want to get the word out that for $40 anyone can participate. I won't be supporting any slate or even any leading contenders for 2016. I want to return to the organic nomination and voting process that made the Hugo Awards great. I can't see a shred of evidence, but if you are right about a group of "SJW"s, it will negate them as well as whatever Vox Day might try. I don't want to see the Hugos die or fall under any one person or group's control. It should be the will of the fans and majority wins.

I hope, rather than take immediate offense at anything I have said, that you will stop to consider it carefully. I am not doing this for anyone but you. I see the justice in your cause and I think there is still a chance to save it. Make Vox Day and Rabid Puppies the fall guy and take your cause and fight again next year. If you stand for the principles that you claim to, this should not be hard. Vox Day stands for a tiny minority and does not care if he destroys something good. I think the two of you do care and I hope you get the chance to prove it. It may be too late as far as some are concerned as it is Sad Puppies that is taking the blame, but not everyone will hold a grudge.

From my perspective, it is really what you do next that matters most. Best of luck to both of you.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Taking Sides - Rescuing the Hugos

There are some times when you can't sit by the sidelines. I find that now is one of those times.

There has evidently been a movement afoot for a couple of years to change the lineup of titles that get nominated for the Hugo Awards. The creator of this movement has called it Sad Puppies. This year, it was actually successful, probably because it was joined by a nearly identical movement called Rabid Puppies.

How the Hugo Awards are supposed to work is that those who have paid membership to the World-Con (either attending members of non-attending associate members) can nominate and then vote for the winners. From the breakdown of nominations, it appears that most nominees receive under 100 nominations, so this isn't something that has high participation. For honest nominations, you need to read the works in question. The top five (six in case there is a tie for fifth place) titles in each category go on the ballot. That is how it is supposed to work.

Well, the two puppies movements each listed a slate of desired nominees. In several of the categories, the puppies movement nominees swept the nominations. The big question is if the people doing the nominating even read what they were nominating. If they didn't then quite a number of titles have dishonestly been nominated based on even fewer readings than normal. From the numbers, it looks like it was about 50 people who jumped on board and nominated the full puppies slate. Its also possible that there were more who only nominated some of the slate. Either way, it was a concerted effort to derail the normal process.

I've seen several of the supporters of the puppies moments claim that the nominations have been dominated by Social Justice Warriors (SJW) as if that were a derivative term. The science fiction I grew up on and love has always pushed for equality and justice so if following that example makes one a SJW, so be it, I am one. I was raised in a Christian household and the focus was always about being fair and just and living by Jesus's example. I grew up reading science fiction where the color of your skin, gender, and sexual preference made no difference. The TV shows and movies I enjoy have always been blind to race. Star Trek went out of its way to be more integrated than was normal. MASH taught me the horror of war and the duty of doing your part and treating the enemy as people. So if all this is bad, then the acknowledged greats of science fiction, television, and the movies have been wrong for many years. Sorry, but I don't buy that.

Instead what I have seen is the growing insanity of the right wing movement in this country. I was a Republican at one time, but the party has moved from where it was in the 80's and what it professed to stand for to adopt an insane mix of religious right causes along side some very un-Christian fiscal conservative causes and all that wrapped up in and anti-science and anti-education bundle that moves further to the right each year.

Meanwhile, I remain much where I was in the 80's, when talk of national health care was not a liberal socialist cause, but a concern for all. Where everyone was in favor of helping up the poor in this country and everyone was in favor of education and the space program. Today, it is like we have politicians from the 19th century trying to pull us backwards and I feel that is what the puppies movements are trying to do to science fiction. They champion the Edgar Rice Burroughs male dominated tropes (fine for 1915, but not fine  for 2015) and ignore how broad and vast science fiction has become. They bemoan the straying from the likes of Dune and Foundation while ignoring the rich tapestry of what we have now. They blame a secret cabal of SJW's when in fact the makeup of the genre has changed and they have failed to change along with it. Are they write that some deserving titles have not gotten nominated? Perhaps, but the solution to that is a campaign for a title or two and not a total takeover of the the award nomination slate.

The puppies movements are a sign of the poison of our time. Normally the wackos are spread equally between the right and the left, but today I see a disproportionate number on the right along with a disproportionate lack of education, belief in conspiracy theories, and belief in dogma over facts. The puppies movements are no different and if they keep this up, there are those of us who will fight back. Mark my words, this hijacking of the Hugo Awards will not go down without a fight and I will be right there in the thick of things.