So, the Hugo awards season is upon us. What are the Hugos and why do you care about them?
(Probably because George RR Martin does, a lot: http://grrm.livejournal.com/tag/hugo awards)
The Hugo awards are a speculative fiction award given at the annual Worldcon:http://www.thehugoawards.org/
These awards are decided by an involved balloting process which is conceived to be by the fans, for the fans. A fact not necessarily widely known is that the awards process is open to anyone willing to shell out for a Supporting membership to the current Worldcon (in 2016, this is MidAmericon II in KC: http://midamericon2.org/
) and fill out the ballot. Ballots go out twice-- in January, for nominees; in April, the nominees are narrowed down to the 5 or so* candidates which received the most votes in each category, and these are ranked in order by balloters and winners are determined by an exacting mathematical process. (No Award is considered an eligible contender in every category.)
A related award which is pertinent to the discussion is the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, often casually called the "Not A Hugo." Because it isn't.http://www.thehugoawards.org/campbell-history/
This award is for authors new to pro publishing; authors are eligible for this award for their first 2 years of professional experience. Voting for this award occurs alongside the Hugos and the award, presented by Dell Magazines, is also awarded at Worldcon each year.
In recent years, the nomination ballots process for these awards has been indisputably gamed** by a very loosely organized bloc vote which is purported to represent what these individuals feel is an under-represented minority: (mostly) white, (mostly) male authors writing "ripping good yarns free of politics" etc etc. These individuals are bent on 'taking back' something they genuinely believe has been taken from or denied to them: a shiny, incredibly phallic trophy time-honored as an emblem of, I dunno, manly man dude writing. The most notable of these blocs is referred to, by its own voting bloc, as Sad Puppies.
2013-2014: some stuff happened before and during Sad Puppies 2: Sad Harder which is really hard to ignore in context.
A gentleman named Theodore Beale, who calls himself the voice of G*d ("Vox Day") and writes about elves finding Jesus with inaccurate Latin grammar, ran for the presidency of SFWA. Astute observers discovered that his blog is A Thing***. After several smaller incidents, in 2013, SFWA members call for him to be removed from the org after writing that another human being is a "half-savage" because apparently when you think the voice of G*d is a normal thing to call yourself you start thinking other equally unquantifiable, unprovable things. In fairness, his expulsion from SFWA wasn't, in fact, for believing his own rhetoric, but for using SFWA resources to broadcast it widely to the public under the SFWA banner, which is pretty gross. (http://www.locusmag.com/News/2013/08/beale-expelled-from-sfwa/)
Sad Puppies 2 (2014) happened right on the heels of the SFWA kerfuffle and, depending on your interpretation of sources was either confusing and sad, or wildly successful. Around one nominee from each category on the Sad Puppy slate landed on the finalist ballot; all but one of these finished last in their categories, and one even landed below No Award.http://www.thehugoawards.org/hugo-history/2014-hugo-awards/
2015! Lots of things happened.http://www.thehugoawards.org/hugo-history/2015-hugo-awards/
Sad Puppies 3 was joined by a new slate, the self-dubbed Rabid Puppies. These are considered by their originators to be separate efforts which are in the same spirit of taking "back" the Hugo. There's a lot of overlap between the two groups, and the names are similar, which necessarily causes confusion. The easiest way to disambiguate: Sad Puppies 3 is claimed by Brad Torgersen, Larry Correia, and a handful of others; Rabid Puppies is the effort of Mr. Beale.
The results of this combined effort have been surprising to all sides. A statistically significant segment of the ballot was dominated by SP and RP picks, with some categories unrepresented by the wider public at all. One nominee, Mr. John C. Wright, constituted 3/5 of the Best Novella category, for example. Only the Best Fan Artist category carried no Puppy picks.
There's been a lot of heated talk on both sides, and it's hard not to get a little mad. A number of nominated authors withdrew their works in order to disassociate themselves from the bloc-balloting groups, regardless of their own politics.
Whether it's morally right or against the spirit of the awards, the awards process has been gamed by a bloc-voting effort which is completely fair according to the given rules of the host organization based on the existing circumstances. There are lots of calls for change, but the road forward is going to be a long one. E Pluribus Hugo looks like the likely candidate to get 'er done at the business meeting, but it won't be ratified until MidAmericon II, meaning either another year of fuckery and No Awards and heartache, and Alfies, or...
Sad Puppies 4 exists; Rabid Puppies 2 exists. Will they have an effect on the ballot at the end of April? It's tough to say; there is considerably less buzz, and considerably more social media fatigue. At the moment it's anyone's shortlist.
ANNND we're off to the races! Another banner year of Rabid picks domineering the ballots; will they finally get their way and ruin SFF forever?! Or will this just accelerate the likelihood of ratifying E Pluribus Hugo at the business meeting at MidAmericon II? My guess is more No Awards, more infighting, and the perceived moral victory regardless of outcome for Mr. Beale. Mostly because he's crafted a Wile E. Coyote Acme trap for us all! (No, not really, but you can't tell him that.)
This is a thread curated with moderator permission specifically for discussion of the Hugos, with special attention to the issues surrounding the 2015 awards. Which are now the issues surrounding the 2016 awards.
It is not a thread about:
the politics of any specific authors in a general or unrelated way;
GRRM being distracted from finishing Winds of Winter instead of dealing with this shit;
rabies, which is a bad disease to get, especially if you are a puppy
Information on membership to Sasquan: https://sasquan.swoc.us/sasquan/reg.php@Shadowhope
has a tremendous list of related links here: http://forums.penny-arcade.com/discussion/comment/32351997/#Comment_32351997
, which I am hoping they'll repost here as well, it's very thorough. I am trying not to editorialize too hard in the OP but I am sure some of my biases inevitably creep through. Sorry.
*sometimes 4, sometimes 6, sometimes 7; depends on ties and min/max percentages
**even the individuals in question freely admit that this has happened, so this is a fact, not a speculation; their reasoning behind it varies widely between the axes of "ripping good yarns free of politics" and "BURN IT ALL DOWN"
***this is not a thread about how [adverb adjective] Mr. Beale's blog is.