August 23, 2015

Worldcon Was This Weekend

I did not go this year because I've been digging my way out of debt, and.....

"WAIT! You promised you'd put the politics under the fold!

What? No. This post is about World Con, so...




I hate what the world is becoming

For a couple of years, there has been a controversy about the Hugo Awards. Specifically there has been an observation by many that the winners of the Awards were becoming quite preachy and political.

There was also some (admitted to) politicking where popular authors would boost whoever authors they liked and since the voting pool was the membership of Worldcon the most prestigious Award in Sci-Fi was becoming a cliquish exercise in fan politics, run by a cadre of upper middle class people increasingly out of touch with the readership.

After pointing this out and being mocked for it, Larry Correia, the author of the popular Monster Hunter series decided to do something, and, he explains it.
Short Version:

I said a chunk of the Hugo voters are biased toward the left, and put the author’s politics far ahead of the quality of the work. Those openly on the right are sabotaged. This was denied.
So I got some right wingers on the ballot.
The biased voters immediately got all outraged and mobilized to do exactly what I said they’d do.
Point made.

For reasons I have been unable to fathom, the movement became known as SAD PUPPIES.

Anyway, heads exploded. 
The means by which Correia got his preferred authors on the ballot was the same method that others, like John Scalzi, had used to put the his favorites on the ballot, they drew up a slate and lobbied for it.

This tedious ideological sparring match went back and forth with much sturm and drang until this years ballot, when Brad R. Torgersen organized another ballot, focusing on the crux of the problem, specifically that most of us don't want politics to be involved in our escapist entertainment...that's why its escapist and not...politics.

Torgersen and a few other authors and fans put together a slate of what they thought was the very best stories of the year and asked fans to choose from them. They also advertised the fact that anyone with a Worldcon membership could vote, and suddenly a LOT of people realized that they could actually be involved in their hobby in a meaningful and relevant way.
Their proposed slate was as follows...

 Best Novel

The Dark Between the Stars â€“ Kevin J. Anderson – TOR (23 FEB 2015 interview)
Trial by Fire â€“ Charles E. Gannon – BAEN (2 MAR 2015 interview)
Skin Game â€“ Jim Butcher – ROC
Monster Hunter Nemesis â€“ Larry Correia – BAEN
Lines of Departure â€“ Marko Kloos – 47 North (Amazon)

Best Novella
"Flow” – Arlan Andrews Sr. – Analog magazine November 2014
One Bright Star to Guide Them â€“ John C. Wright – Castalia House
Big Boys Don’t Cry â€“ Tom Kratman – Castalia House

Best Novelette
"The Journeyman: In the Stone House” – Michael F. Flynn – Analog magazine June 2014
"The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale” – Rajnar Vajra – Analog magazine July/Aug 2014
"Championship B’tok” – Edward M. Lerner – Analog magazine Sept 2014
"Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium” – Gray Rinehart – Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show

Best Short Story
"Goodnight Stars” – Annie Bellet – The Apocalypse Triptych
"Tuesdays With Molakesh the Destroyer” – Megan Grey – Fireside Fiction
"Totaled” – Kary English – Galaxy’s Edge magazine, July 2014
"On A Spiritual Plain” – Lou Antonelli – Sci Phi Journal #2
"A Single Samurai” – Steve Diamond – Baen Big Book of Monsters

Best Related Work
Letters from Gardner â€“ Lou Antonelli – Merry Blacksmith Press
Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth â€“ John C. Wright – Castalia House
Wisdom From My Internet â€“ Michael Z. Williamson
"Why Science is Never Settled” Part 1Part 2 â€“ Tedd Roberts – BAEN

Best Graphic Story
Reduce Reuse Reanimate (Zombie Nation book #2) – Carter Reid – (independent)

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)
"The Lego Movie” – Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
"Guardians of the Galaxy” – James Gunn
"Interstellar” – Christopher Nolan
"The Maze Runner” – Wes Ball

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)
Grimm – ” Once We Were Gods” – NBC
The Flash – "The Flash (pilot)” – The CW
Adventure Time – "The Prince Who Wanted Everything” – Cartoon Network
Regular Show – "Saving Time” – Cartoon Network

Best Editor (Long Form)
Toni Weisskopf – BAEN
Jim Minz – BAEN
Anne Sowards – ACE/ROC
Sheila Gilbert – DAW

Best Editor (Short Form)
Mike Resnick – Galaxy’s Edge magazine
Edmund R. Schubert – Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show
Jennifer Brozek (for Shattered Shields)
Bryan Thomas Schmidt (for Shattered Shields)

Best Professional Artist
Carter Reid
Jon Eno
Alan Pollack
Nick Greenwood

Best Semiprozine
Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show
Abyss & Apex
Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine

Best Fanzine
Tangent SF On-line â€“ Dave Truesdale
Elitist Book Reviews – Steve Diamond
The Revenge of Hump Day – 
Tim Bolgeo

Best Fancast
"The Sci Phi Show” – Jason Rennie
Dungeon Crawlers Radio
Adventures in SF Publishing

Best Fan Writer
Matthew David Surridge (Black Gate)
Jeffro Johnson
Amanda Green
Cedar Sanderson
Dave Freer

The John W. Campbell Award
Jason Cordova
Kary English

Eric S. Raymond  

This was not a terribly idealogical slate and was diverse in other ways as well. However , the press coverage was brutal and dishonest, with the movement pilloried as sexist, racist, homophobic and quite possibly cannibals. 

And then another thing happened...
One of the criticisms leveled at Togersen was that he had not WARNED people they were on the ballot.

You may ask "WHUT?"

...because being nominated for an award in ones professional field is a good thing right?


Because, you see, the incandescent torches of diversity and tolerance decided to burn down anyone who accepted the nomination. By not WARNING these authors the authors were not given an opportunity to denounce and struggle against those ungood people who had nominated them.

This is discussed here, and here and more than anything is why I am deeply sympathetic to the Sad Puppies.

I hate bullies. 
I hate and fear those who will punish someone for liking the wrong thing and I have studied enough history to truly dread those who will persecute individuals who do not denounce, with sufficient alacrity and verve, compliments by disapproved persons.

This is a toxic, wicked dynamic and it poisons all it touches. The notion that there is nowhere to be safe from ideology, that we can't be friends with or respect those who don't agree with us on everything is truly a malignancy.

So...yeah...I was rooting for the Sad Puppies.

Well, WorldCon was this weekend.

The fans voted on who would get the hugo awards. The vote was split, as there were, this year, many worthy nominees....but something happened.

 The members of the World Science Fiction Society rejected the slate of finalists in five categories, giving No Award in Best Novella, Short Story, Related Work, Editor Short Form, and Editor Long Form. This equals the total number of times that WSFS members have presented No Award in the entire history of the Hugo Awards, most recently in 1977.  

The old guard of Worldcon voted to take way the awards rather than see them go to people who they didn't like. 

They pressed the self destruct button. 

There are thoughts on this all over the place but I'll link to two. Brad Torgersen is currently in Iraq, fighting ISIS, but he took a moment today to copy-paste this first hand account of what the spectacle looked like to a friend of his...and his children....which gives some idea of what the spectacle looked like to those outside a certain clique.


...which I think sums up the whole thing in the most positive light possible. 

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 08:45 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
Post contains 1357 words, total size 34 kb.

1 It's amusing that Larry's tongue-in-cheek invocation of this Sarah McLachlan PSA, exhorting his readers to help end puppy-related sadness, got twisted around by people who wouldn't be caught dead reading so much as a paragraph of his blog.

I'm even more amused that the opposition ended up earning the label Puppy Kickers, abbreviated PK, which evokes their similarity to the Player Killers of online gaming, whose only fun is actively preventing others from enjoying the game.


Posted by: J Greely at Mon Aug 24 00:57:34 2015 (ZlYZd)

2 The primary observation, I think, is that many recent winners of the Hugo Award are just plain not very good.

I don't know if there was a novel I would have voted for this year.  I liked Skin Game well enough, but it's just another solid entry in the Dresden Files, not Hugo material.  (Or not Hugo-as-I'd-like-to-think-of-them material.)

Honestly, the last Best Novel I think really earned the title was 2011's Blackout / All Clear, which is / are outstanding (it's one story, but about 1200 pages long, so it was broken into two volumes).  Before that, all the way back to 2004's Paladin of Souls.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Mon Aug 24 01:38:11 2015 (PiXy!)

3 I've been going through some of the recent annual Nebula Award collections (which, tellingly, fall out of print fast and are not available as ebooks), and it's surprising how many of the stories can be converted from SF to F by deleting a few lines. In the 2006 collection (which I bought for an as-yet-unreprinted Vinge story), there was one that was 98% "kid growing up in Fifties US" and 2% "found a dead time traveler". (it lost to a story that was "kid growing up in Fifties US meets housekeeper who speaks in exaggerated Black dialect and teaches her voodoo")

Yeah, the difference between Hugo material and Hugo-as-I'd-like-to-think-of-them material is sad. I've still got Brad Templeton's CD containing the 1993 Hugo and Nebula nominees, and there's just no comparison. There are good years and bad years, but there have been an awful lot of bad years lately, and it isn't a coincidence that this is the year people decided that "nothing is good enough for an award". The in-group liked the bad years just fine.

Sadly, Templeton himself was a reflexive Puppy Kicker, so you can't just buff the rocket (not a euphemism) and call it a day; there may be nothing under the rust but more rust.


Posted by: J Greely at Mon Aug 24 11:35:23 2015 (ZlYZd)

4 Bluntly, it's a daft award anyway.

There's plenty of room for an Oscar-type award, where it's voted on by people who are in the industry and understood to be as such. (Nebula, basically.) There's room for a "fan favorite" where everyone gets to vote (Golden Globes basically?)

There's -room- for "favorite of people who attend a certain annual event" too, really. Cannes might be the proper parallel here. However, there's definitely a difference between "they loved it at Cannes", and "it won an Oscar", and "I thought it was pretty good"; these categories are not necessarily mutually overlapping.

Not necessary mutually exclusive either, of course, there's plenty of good stuff that wins a Hugo. But at the end of the day, it's become a fairly poor predictor of things which I might enjoy reading.

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at Mon Aug 24 13:13:45 2015 (qxzj1)

5 "There's -room- for "favorite of people who attend a certain annual event" too, really."
From what I've been reading, the lefties who have been dominating the Hugos have been insisting that they were not, in fact, this, but actually the Golden Globes equivalent.
Then when the Sad Puppies slate got on the ballot, they started spinning in anticipation of a possible loss and claiming it actually is just the the results of some random con, one of the bigger incoherencies in the "them right-wingers can't be allowed to win" movement.

Posted by: Rick C at Mon Aug 24 13:41:30 2015 (FvJAK)


About 30 years ago I fell in with a group of SMOFs and spent a few years embedded in fan culture, including attending several WorldCons.

You wouldn't believe how seriously they take the Hugo voting. It's like they're saving the world. My group sometimes would debate certain choices to try to decide which one they should vote for.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Mon Aug 24 14:46:42 2015 (+rSRq)

7 The Nebulas are even more clannish than the Hugos, which became obvious to outsiders when it became the Women's Award last year, to the loud cheers of activists deceived into thinking that SF was "anti-woman" until Just Now (and again this year, with a gratuitous swipe at SP3's imaginary "misogyny").


Posted by: J Greely at Mon Aug 24 17:02:52 2015 (ZlYZd)

8 To be fair, though, the Really-Old Guard seems to be against all this crap, even when they are leftist as the dawn is east. It's the Middle-Aged-to-Early-Old Guard that is doing the SJW crap.

I hate to say it, but I'm glad so many of First Fandom had died before they had to see this happen to what they made for us.

Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Mon Aug 24 20:10:10 2015 (ZJVQ5)

9 Makes sense; you've got the parents who created the wealth, the children who followed their example and expanded it, and the grandchildren who grew up spoiled and pissed it all away.


Posted by: J Greely at Mon Aug 24 21:43:23 2015 (ZlYZd)

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