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Pissing in the pool

I grew up reading the Hugo award winners anthologies, those collections of the best works of the year. It wasn’t until much later that I learned how the Hugos work, and even later that I made the miraculous discovery that I could participate in that process by nominating works I cared about, and voting from among the finalists.

The Hugos are a popularity contest: the hugely diverse set of people who are interested enough in SFF and the Hugos to pay $40 for the privilege of nominating and voting get to select the things that delighted them the most over the past year. You don’t have to attend WorldCon to participate, but you do have to invest a non-trivial sum of money. Still, that’s the only requirement for participation. Most years, good things bubble up from the collective brain-pool, and works that deserve to be on the list are on the list. Not all of them, since only five nominees make the final ballot, but enough to make choosing among them both challenging and fun.

ChiCon in 2012 was the first opportunity I’d had to dress up and attend the Hugo Award ceremony in person, and to cheer for books I loved and friends who had done excellent things in the previous year. I loved it. I’m gong to Sasquan this year, and was looking forward to the same thrill.

But this year, someone pissed in the brain-pool. A group calling themselves the Sad Puppies has been trying to game the system for a couple years, and this year they and their more extreme Rabid Puppy buddies managed it incredibly successfully, getting entire categories filled with nothing but their nominees. I find the members of both groups to be odious human beings. Not only did they put together a full slate, there is evidence that they recruited people explicitly to vote for that slate as a whole.

The delight is utterly missing.

Although I find the members of these groups problematic, and many of the works they nominated unpalatably bad, the existence of the slate itself is the bigger problem. I have no doubt whatsoever that if Neil Gaiman wanted to take over the Hugo Awards, he could do so by proposing a full slate and asking his fans to nominate them. I’d probably like every single work on the slate, but I’d still be unhappy because the whole point of the Hugos is to poll the collective brain-pool, not the brains of one or a few people who’ve put together a slate.

This is especially difficult because there were a few works on the slate nominees that deserve it, and one or two friends as well, and quite a few people who didn’t even know they were on this slate. I’m still going to vote No Award above all the slate members, because that’s not how the system should work. Someone peed in the pool, and everyone got dirty. I’ll keep an eye on those inadvertently contaminated in hopes that some day I can nominate/vote for them in good faith, but not this year. Those nominees I’ll read. There is no way I’ll read anything by Wright: life is too short. Once the nomination numbers are announced after the Hugo ceremony, I’ll keep an even closer eye on the people who got pushed out of the pool entirely but would otherwise have been on the ballot.

This year, I’m going to dress up and go to the bar instead of attend the ceremony.

I pretty much agree with what Elizabeth Bear says on the subject, though she says it with more experience and more authority.

Kevin Standlee, long-time WorldCon and Hugo volunteer, discusses the intricacies of voting No Award.

Edit: I left out an important bit. You can still register to vote for the Hugo Awards until probably late July. It costs $40, which I realize is non-trivial, but a supporting membership purchased this year also gets you nominating (but not voting) rights for next year.


There’s a new record for number of nominations of a single person in one year, and for a writer who’s not all that good. There were also several canid slate entries that weren’t actually valid nominations, which is I suspect why some regular people made it onto the ballot. Charlie Stross has some interesting information on Castalia House.

Hugo Ballot

Sad Puppies (SP): http://www.donotlink.com/efae
Rabid Puppies (RP): http://www.donotlink.com/dgbq

Edit, 15 April: Via File 770, two updates to the ballot.

Information variously from Tor.com and the official Hugo site.

BEST NOVEL (1827 ballots)

Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette) (Tor Books)

SRP Lines of Departure by Marko Kloos (47North)
SRP Skin Game: A Novel of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (Roc Books)
SRP The Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J. Anderson (Tor Books)

Slate nominees not on the ballot:

SRP: Monster Hunter Nemesis by Larry Correia, Baen Books (Turned down the nomination.)
RP: The Chaplain’s War by Brad Torgersen (Baen Books)
SP: Trial by Fire – Charles E. Gannon (Baen Books)


BEST NOVELLA (1083 ballots)

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


BEST NOVELETTE (1031 ballots)

SRP “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium” by Gray Rinehart (Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, May 2014)
SRP “Championship B’tok” by Edward M Lerner (Analog, Sept 2014)
SRP “The Journeyman: In the Stone House” by Michael F. Flynn (Analog, June 2014)
SRP “The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale” by Rajnar Vajra (Analog, Jul/Aug 2014)
RP “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” by John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House) Ruled ineligible because originally published online in 2013.

“The Day The World Turned Upside Down” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Lightspeed Magazine, April 2014) (Not on the original ballot.)


SHORT STORY (1174 ballots)

SRP “Goodnight Stars” by Annie Bellet (The End is Now (Apocalypse Triptych Book 2), Broad Reach Publishing)
SRP “On A Spiritual Plain” by Lou Antonelli (Sci Phi Journal #2, Nov 2014)
SRP “Totaled” by Kary English (Galaxy’s Edge magazine, July 2014)
RP “The Parliament of Beasts and Birds” by John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House)
RP “Turncoat” by Steve Rzasa (Riding the Red Horse, Castalia House)

Slate nominees not on the ballot:
SP: “Tuesdays With Molakesh the Destroyer” – Megan Grey – Fireside Fiction (Not eligible: published in 2015)
SP: “A Single Samurai” – Steve Diamond – Baen Big Book of Monsters


BEST RELATED WORK (1150 ballots)

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


BEST GRAPHIC STORY (785 ballots)

(only one slate member)

Ms. Marvel Vol 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, Vol. 1: One Weird Trick written by Matt Fraction, art by Chip Zdarsky (Image Comics)

SRP Zombie Nation Book #2: Reduce Reuse Reanimate by Carter Reid (The Zombie Nation)


DRAMATIC PRESENTATION (LONG FORM) (1285 ballots)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Edge of Tomorrow

SRP Guardians of the Galaxy
SRP Interstellar
SRP The Lego Movie

Slate nominees not on the ballot:
SRP: The Maze Runner, Wes Ball
RP: Coherence, James Ward Byrkit (Not eligible; 2013 release)

DRAMATIC PRESENTATION (SHORT FORM) (938 ballots)

Orphan Black: “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried”
Doctor Who: “Listen”

SRP The Flash: “Pilot”
SRP Grimm: “Once We Were Gods”
RP Game of Thrones: “The Mountain and the Viper”

Slate nominees not on the ballot:
RP: Supernatural: “Dog Dean Afternoon” (Not eligible; 2013 release)
SP: Adventure Time – “The Prince Who Wanted Everything” – Cartoon Network
SP: Regular Show – “Saving Time” – Cartoon Network

BEST EDITOR (SHORT FORM) (870 ballots)

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

BEST EDITOR (LONG FORM) (712 ballots)

SRP Sheila Gilbert
SRP Jim Minz
SRP Anne Sowards
SRP Toni Weisskopf
RP Vox Day

BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST (753 ballots)

Julie Dillon

SRP Jon Eno Ruled ineligible because no art published in 2014.
SRP Nick Greenwood
SRP Alan Pollack
SRP Carter Reid
RP: Kirk DouPonce (Not on original ballot.)

BEST SEMIPROZINE (660 ballots)

Lightspeed Magazine
Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Strange Horizons

SP Abyss & Apex
SP Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine

Slate nominees not on the ballot:
SP Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show (Not eligible; wrong category)

BEST FANZINE (576 ballots)

Journey Planet

SRP Elitist Book Reviews
SRP The Revenge of Hump Day
SRP Tangent SF Online
RP Black Gate

BEST FANCAST (668 ballots)

Galactic Suburbia Podcast Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Presenters) and Andrew Finch (Producer)
Tea and Jeopardy Emma Newman & Peter Newman

SRP Adventures in SF Publishing Brent Bower (Executive Producer), Kristi Charish, Timothy C. Ward & Moses Siregar III (Co-Hosts, Interviewers and Producers)
SRP Dungeon Crawlers Radio Daniel Swenson (Producer/Host), Travis Alexander & Scott Tomlin (Hosts), Dale Newton (Host/Tech), Damien Swenson (Audio/Video Tech)
SRP The Sci Phi Show Jason Rennie

BEST FAN WRITER (777 ballots)

Laura J. Mixon

SRP Amanda S. Green
SRP Jeffro Johnson
SRP Cedar Sanderson
SP Dave Freer

Others
SP: Matthew David Surridge

BEST FAN ARTIST (296 ballots)

(No canids in this category.)

Ninni Aalto
Brad Foster
Elizabeth Leggett
Spring Schoenhuth
Steve Stiles

CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER (851 ballots)

Wesley Chu

SRP Jason Cordova
SRP Kary English
SRP Eric. S. Raymond
RP Rolf Nelson