Tag Archives: hugo awards

Hugo Awards 2016: Geez, not this shit again

Welp, it happened again: The Rabid Puppies, the folks who want to destroy the Hugo Awards, nearly swept the nominations again this year. Not that anyone expected their defeat last year to discourage them. They seem to revel in the whole “If we can’t have what we want, at least we can ruin it for everyone else” thing, so of course they’re back for another go.

At least they avoided being completely tedious and changed their tactics a little this year. Instead of attacking the politicization of the Hugo Awards by nominate tepid right-wing polemics, they mixed things up and nominated some worthy works as well. I’m sure this is some devious mind game or clever stratagem, but it’s not really worth the effort to untangle it.

The Puppies are upset that their preferred flavor of sci-fi seldom wins Hugos. The reason they don’t win is obvious: In a popularity contest, the most popular work is going to win and the stuff the Puppies like is not the most popular. If 60% of the voters prefer one type of book, while 40% prefer another, will the less popular type win 40% of the awards? No, it will win none of the awards because  60% > 40% every time. Obvious, right? That sucks for the fans of the less popular style, but that’s the tyranny of math.

Last year, they gamed the nomination process to sweep the several categories, and the Hugo voters gamed the awards process to ensure that every Rabid Puppy nominee finished below “No Award.” This strikes me as just and the only possible way to preserve the integrity of the awards. The downside is that giving out “No Award” year after year isn’t a lot of fun.

I’ve read suggestions that this year’s troll-fest was a direct response to the Hugo voters’ failure to reward the Puppies to force the voters to give them trophies even if the voters didn’t actually believe they were deserved. No, really, that’s the argument (although it was phrased slightly differently.) The desire, then, is to receive an award, regardless of merit. The sort of thing that Puppy authors might call “affirmative action.”

Fortunately, I have a solution which I think every reasonable person will agree is wise and just: If what the Puppies really want is recognition, then simply reward every Puppy candidate with a “participant” award. You know, the kind they give to grade school children when you don’t want anyone to feel bad. This way, the Chuck Tingles and John C. Wrights of the world can have their recognition without having to try to abuse the nomination process. Then, simply discard any nominations which match the slate proposed by the Rabid Puppies. Problem solved…for a little while at least…maybe.




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A Sad Puppy-Related Thought Experiment

NOTE: I have retracted this post. If you’re interested in the reasons, please click this link. I’m leaving the retracted post visible for the time being because, aside from the intellectual honesty issue, it’s pointless to try to make things “disappear” on the internet.

Let’s say I tell you that I am a Christian.

I tell you that I am  a Christian, but I don’t believe in God. I don’t believe in Jesus. I don’t believe a single word of the Bible. But, I nonetheless insist I am a Christian, and I will call you a liar if you say otherwise.

How would you react to that? Personally, I’d say I was full of shit. If I don’t believe anything that Christians believe, then how can I say I’m a Christian?

This is, however, exactly how Sad Puppy-favorite author and homophobe John C. Wright responds to claims that he is homophobic.

I am not unrepentantly homophobic. I am nothing of the kind. It is a lie.

I follow the Catholic teaching on same sex attraction and how one deals with it. In public, I have heaped scorn on those who use a children’s cartoon, one I loved, to insinuate their pro-perversion propaganda in a cowardly and craven way.

I have no hate, no fear, nothing but respect for homosexuals.

You and people like you who use the false cloak of compassion for homosexual to lure them into ruining their lives, you are the ones for whom I have no respect. You are the ones who hate them; you are the one who urge them down ever darker paths.

See? He’s not a homophobe! He just believes everything that homophobes believe including that people who aren’t homophobes have homosexuals. Just because he espouses homophobic beliefs doesn’t make him a homophobe.

This will probably shock you, but Wright’s bio on Wikipedia describes him as a “former lawyer.”

The Rabid Puppies are fairly easily dismissed because I don’t get the sense that there’s anything there beyond the trolling. They’re just another branch of GamerGate; a group of folks who get off on harassing people and “winning” arguments without any apparent attachment to or belief in the arguments they’re making.

The Sad Puppies are trickier, though. I get the sense that there is a strong sense that these folks truly believe in their positions. I personally don’t buy into the premise that there is a liberal cabal at the head of Sci-Fi today, forcing stories of political correctness down the throats of unwilling readers. I don’t buy it. I don’t see any evidence of it. I think the method of selecting a slate of writers for their political beliefs and getting the entire slate nominated is, at best, childish. But…even though I don’t buy all of it, I can at least respect the viewpoint.

Or, at least, I could, until this ridiculous boycott of Tor kicked off yesterday. If you’re not familiar with the story, I’ll give you a brief version. A Tor employee made some over-the-top comments about the Puppies on her Facebook. The head of the Rabid Puppies took a screen shot of it and made a huge deal of springing it on the world at a time which was determined would embarrass Tor*. The head of Tor threw the employee under the bus and made a big deal of it. This just emboldened the Puppies, who then used the opportunity to make a series of very-unrealistic demands on Tor with the threat of a boycott if those demands weren’t met.

Tor ignored the demands. The boycott began.

I hate to bag on Free Republic-favorite Wright*, but his post regarding the boycott is a masterpiece of both self-martyrdom and incredible hubris:

Since I am Tor author and hitherto have been very proud of my association with that fine and famous imprint, I am fascinated (if mildly aghast) that the Tor management has allowed the situation to degenerate to this point.

Of course, Wright is bright enough to know that “Tor management” isn’t the instigator here. He’s just playing silly buggers with this entire post and he’s announcing it in the first sentence.

Because of a financial conflict of interest on my part, it would be untoward of me to express fulsome support and applause for the boycott, and tell the boycotters their position is the principled and correct stand.

“Principled and correct stand.” Yes, thank you very much for telling people what to believe. Seriously, though, am I right about the lawyer thing? “I can’t tell you to boycott my employer *wink wink*…”

Nor will I point out, because it is obvious, that if you buy my books from Tor, then some part of your precious book-buying dollars goes into the wages of several people at Tor (but by no means all, or even most) who hate both you and me with a sick and soul-destroying hatred, a hatred like a disease that withers the heart and rots the brain.

Wow. “…a sick and soul-destroying hatred, a hatred like a disease that withers the heart and rots the brain.” Poetic, but of course, utter nonsense. Dude, no one even cares that much about you, or at least, we didn’t, until you started throwing your tantrum and gaming awards and supporting-while-not-supporting a boycott. Oh, and spilling your homophobic nonsense. That got you a lot of attention, if not a lot of sympathy. But “soul-destroying hatred?” Nope. Don’t care that much.

Nor will I point out, because it should also be obvious, that any Christian gentleman would be willing to forgo a worldly reward of your generous book-buying dollars if he may have your spiritual reward of your loyalty instead. If the gentle reader feels compassion for me in my hour of need, or fears the boycott will harm my finances, I have a tip jar on this page.

Even with the florid prose, it’s pretty transparent what Wright is after here. This could be shortened to: I love Jesus, give me your money.

So I cannot express support for this boycott.

“I am covering my ass.”

The people with whom I work, my editor and cover art director, have a perfect right to expect me not to undermine their position, untenable as it may be. If the management wants to set the company policy as one of indifference to our patrons and clients on whom our livelihood depends, or contempt, or enmity, or loathing, that business decision is in their bailiwick.

Understand, Wright’s complaint here is that Tor did not give in to demands from the Rabid Puppies, demands which were never going to be met, and he is re-casting this as contempt, enmity, and loathing.

John C. Wright is a very clever man. He can be incredibly dishonest while at the same time never technically “lying.”

He’s also a real turd. I was starting to have a little sympathy for some of the Puppies’ positions, but so long as they’re trying to push this piece of work down our throats at the Hugo Awards? No thanks. As long as guys like this one are the poster boys for the movement, I’ll do what I can to support Tor.

By the way, I’m really looking forward to finally reading Scalzi’s Redshirts. Bought it yesterday, in fact…

* This, I think, tends to support my belief that this isn’t about any principle other than “winning”…except, maybe, “trolling.”

**  That’s a lie. Wright’s a real jerk, and the fact that the Freepers like him doesn’t exactly mitigate in his favor.

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Nothing at all about the Sad and Rabid Puppies

I have spent a very, very long time among American political conservatives. I would wager that I have spent more time in their midst than the vast majority of people reading this post. I have both friends and family who are near the right-most limits of the political spectrum. I’m not of them, but I do feel as though I know them reasonably well.

One of their most-common characteristics is a love of the American founding fathers that approaches reverence. Almost all of the strong conservatives I’ve met believe that the founders were divinely-inspired in their penning of the U.S Constitution. They believe that these men were of greater character than today’s political class and that their work should be considered so close to perfect as to warrant painstakingly literal interpretation. Did I say “approaches reverence?” I was obviously under-selling it.

Here’s the bit that I find so baffling: The American founding fathers were the radical liberals of their day.* They were about as anti-establishment as you could get. By the standards of their day, they made bold strides in distributing political power out of the hands of the legacy establishment and into that of the (again, this is relative) the “common man.” There’s a reason why democracies based on this model are referred to as “liberal democracies.”

That being the case, I imagine these founders would be appalled at the reverence they’ve been afforded. It seems to go against everything in the character of these 18th century progressives.  I’m not historian, let alone a time-traveling mind reader, but I suspect the founders would have wanted those who followed them to embrace their spirit of trying to improve on their groundwork Instead, those who claim to love the founders so much set their words in amber and place them on an altar.

That’s it in a nutshell. The conservatives love the people who broke the mold so much that they turned the founders into a new mold. If you see any parallel between the political conservatives and, say, the movements within science fiction devoted to ensuring that works which embrace the values of the revolutionaries of the genre, that’s on you.

* Just out of curiosity, who are the heroes of American liberalism? The conservatives seem to have co-opted many of the obvious candidates. The founders, who broke away from monarchy and laid the groundwork for representative democracy? Lincoln, who, among other things, ended slavery? Theodore Roosevelt, the trust-buster? There are good answers to this question, but you do have to dig a little deeper, don’t you?

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