Solitair vs. The Hugos: Introduction

I interrupt my regularly scheduled reviewcaps to bring news of the awards season!

The Hugo awards have been a time-honored tradition for three-quarters of a century now, an institution that’s existed since the mid-’50’s to honor the very best that science fiction and fantasy literature can offer. It’s not nearly as well-known as the Oscars, since genre books aren’t nearly as high-profile or glamorous as Hollywood movies, but this is the best equivalent we have. And unlike the Oscars, where voting is restricted to members of “the Academy,” anyone who pays for a membership to Worldcon for the year can cast a ballot, even if they can’t afford to get a full membership and attend in person.

The only reason I know all of this now, unfortunately, is that the awards have made news because of the Sad Puppies campaign. If you don’t know, this campaign was started by author Larry Correia and renewed by Brad Torgerson because they are convinced that the Worldcon intelligentsia are skewed too much in favor of high-falutin’ literary books and sermons about diversity and political correctness. Their solution was to make a slate of their own nominations to counteract that perceived bias, and invite their supporters to all nominate the exact same ballot down to the letter.  Infamous asshole Vox Day, who has written arguments about how society has gotten worse since women got the right to vote, made his own Rabid Puppies slate to join in and make Correia et al look bad by association. But this year, the campaign worked; the majority of the ballots are from the Sad and Rabid Puppies slates.

[Edit: I have been informed by pro-Sad-Puppy sources that Torgerson did not specifically ask supporters to slate vote, and that only VD did so. Some of them assert that there was no slate voting, that the will of the silent majority made itself known, and the people using strongarm tactics were anti-Puppy media mobilizing folks to No Award everything Torgerson recommended. I choose to believe only the former claim.]

I’ve seen Correia and company get a lot of bad press for this latest battle in the American culture war, but after a few arguments online I’m going to cool my jets. At least Sad Puppies is not as disgusting as this other movement from last year I won’t dignify with a name. Correia has been acerbic in arguing his case, but he hasn’t crossed any lines of decency unless you see the slate voting as an immoral-in-spirit rigging of democracy via statistical loophole. He was even harassed and slandered online, which I can’t approve of no matter the cause. I flipped my lid about the epidemic of that same thing springing from that-which-must-not-be-named, and I’m not going to go back on that because it’s happening to someone I disagree with.

Correia has my condolences, but I do still disagree with him on this matter. Matthew David Surridge, in declining his Puppy-backed nomination, wrote the most clear-headed and sensible summary of this whole affair I’ve seen on the internet by a wide margin, and my position mostly reflects his. In short, I see no evidence that there is a conspiracy to culturally control the Hugos, at least not one that is in any way recent, and I like stuff with literary aspirations just as much as modest pulp fare, if not more. I thought that high-brow art was what awards were for, since bestseller lists aren’t going to give the weird and interesting ones the recognition they deserve. As far as the preachy sermonizing goes, I and everyone else who saw James Cameron’s Avatar know that pain, but I don’t know what the Puppies’ threshold is for that. Are they objecting more strongly to badly-written garbage, or the presence of progressive stances in fiction?

The people who are involved with the Hugos and upset that this campaign “hijacked” the awards are at odds with what they should do about it. Several people advocate using the No Award option, where you rank in your preference list that you would rather no award be given at all than it be given to the undeserving, on everything that was on a Puppy slate. George R.R. Martin wrote on his not-a-blog that this was madness, and only served to prove the point that Worldcon is exclusionary, even though he hates what the campaign has done and says that the nominations are the worst he’s seen in a long time. The point has been brought up that some nominated people didn’t ask to be supported by Sad Puppies, and not all of them withdrew as a result, segueing into whether any awards they win will be “deserved” or “tainted”.

Since this is my first ever Hugo voting, I will be compromising and only exclude some entries from consideration. John C. Wright, whose work is published by Vox Day’s Castalia House, has gotten a record-breaking six nominations, which I find to be suspicious. This man also called the showrunners of The Legend of Korra cowards for implying a homosexual relationship between main characters, and not in the sense that they should have made it explicit in the show. I don’t want any part in Wright receiving any sort of award. Thankfully all of his work was included in a single file in the packet I downloaded, making it all the easier to toss that file in the recycling bin. Vox Day left a similarly atrocious first impression, so I’ll probably be excluding the other Castalia House entries from consideration as well. Say what you will about Larry Correia; the man explicitly denied himself the opportunity to put himself on the ballot, because that would be a conflict of interest.

Without further ado, here is the ballot for the 2015 Hugo Awards. The entries in bold are the ones which weren’t on the Sad or Rabid Puppy slates, for those of you who agree with the No Award people. Entries with an asterisk were not included in the packet in their entirety; I’ll try to get them some other way. Entries that are struck through are ones I’m not putting in my running for aforementioned reasons.

BEST NOVEL

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

Ancillary Sword is the sequel to Ancillary Justice, which I’ll read as well since it won’t take too long. Conversely, Skin Game is the 15th Dresden Files novel, and if you think I’m going to blitz through them all in two months just to get the proper context for the review, then I’ve got a rocketship to sell you.

BEST NOVELLA

  • Big Boys Don’t Cry by Tom Kratman (Castalia House)
  • Flow by Arlan Andrews Sr. (Analog, Nov 2014)
  • One Bright Star to Guide Them by John C. Wright (Castalia House)
  • Pale Realms of Shade by John C. Wright (Castalia House)
  • The Plural of Helen of Troy by John C. Wright (Castalia House)

I’d like to thank John C. Wright and Vox Day for saving me time that I could use reading all those novels.

BEST NOVELETTE

  • Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium by Gary Rinehart (Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, May 2014)
  • Championship B’tok by Edward M. Lerner (Analog, Sep 2014)
  • The Day the World Turned Upside Down by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, translated by Lia Belt (Lightspeed, Sep 2014)
  • The Journeyman: In the Stone House by Michael F. Flynn (Analog, Jun 2014)
  • The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale by Rajnar Vajra (Analog, Jul/Aug 2014)

For those of you who are wondering, novelettes are 7,500 to 17,500 words long; not quite short stories and not quite novellas. It’s an odd distinction to make, but I’m not complaining.

BEST SHORT STORY

  • On a Spritual Plain by Lou Antonelli (Sci Phi Journal #2, Nov 2014)
  • The Parliament of Beasts and Birds by John C. Wright (Castalia House)
  • A Single Samurai* by Steven Diamond (The Baen Big Book of Monsters, Baen Books)
  • Totaled by Karen English (Galaxy’s Edge Magazine, Jul 2014)
  • Turncoat* by Steven Rzasa (Castalia House isn’t getting my money)

Lou Antonelli has compared the No Award people to Nazis, so he doesn’t get my attention or money either.

BEST RELATED WORK

  • The Hot Equations: Thermodynamics and Military SF* by Ken Burnside (Castalia House)
  • Letters from Gardner* by Lou Antonelli (The Merry Blacksmith Press)
  • Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth by John C. Wright (Castalia House)
  • Why Science is Never Settled by Tedd Roberts (Baen.com)
  • Wisdom from My Internet by Michael Z. Williamson (Patriarchy Press[?!])

BEST GRAPHIC STORY

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

This is going to be fun. I’ve loved Brian K. Vaughan for years, and I expect Saga to win in a landslide, but most of the competition is pretty damn intriguing too.

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, LONG FORM

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Interstellar
  • The Lego Movie

None of this is in the packet, obviously, but I’ve already seen three of these and with the help of Netflix I can easily see the other two. Expect The Lego Movie to top my ballot.

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, SHORT FORM

  • Doctor Who: “Listen”
  • The Flash: “Pilot”
  • Game of Thrones: “The Mountain and the Viper”
  • Grimm: “Once We Were Gods”
  • Orphan Black: “By Means Which Have Never Been Tried”

This is the category I’m least likely to vote on. I’ve watched only one of these shows up to the requisite episode (Game of Thrones), and I don’t like watching things out of order. I won’t be able to watch “Listen” in time for that reason, and Orphan Black is the only other show I’ve heard decent buzz about. Maybe I’ll watch more if I have time, but no promises.

BEST EDITOR, SHORT FORM

  • Jennifer Brozek
  • Vox Day*
  • Mike Resnick
  • Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Edmund R. Schubert withdrew after the ballot came out.

BEST EDITOR, LONG FORM

  • Vox Day*
  • Sheila Gilbert
  • Jim Minz*
  • Anne Sowards
  • Toni Weisskopf*

BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST

  • Julie Dillon
  • Kirk DouPonce
  • Nick Greenwood
  • Alan Pollack
  • Carter Reid*

BEST SEMIPROZINE

  • Abyss & Apex
  • Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies
  • Lightspeed Magazine
  • Strange Horizons

BEST FANZINE

  • Elitist Book Reviews*
  • Journey Planet
  • The Revenge of Hump Day
  • Tangent SF Online

Black Gate also withdrew, but I’ll be checking up on them whenever I can. They’re great, and ironically I found out about them thanks to them writing on the Sad Puppy controversy.

BEST FANCAST

  • Adventures in SciFi Publishing
  • Dungeon Crawlers Radio
  • Galactic Suburbia Podcast
  • The Sci Phi Show
  • Tea and Jeopardy

I’m a recent podcast listener, but I’ve only been listening to the Super Best Friendcast as of late, so it’ll be interesting to find one relevant to my number one interest.

BEST FAN WRITER

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

BEST FAN ARTIST

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

The slate overlooked this entire category, so here’s the politics-free corner of the awards.

THE JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER

  • Wesley Chu (2nd year)
  • Jason Cordova
  • Kary English (2nd year)
  • Rolf Nelson
  • Eric S. Raymond

Let’s get started.

4 thoughts on “Solitair vs. The Hugos: Introduction”

  1. I actually read Skin Game without reading any
    of the other Jim Butcher books and found that it was
    quite enjoyable (surprisingly so, since my understanding
    is that it was on the Rabid Puppies AND Sad Puppies
    slates) even without reading the first 14 Harry
    Dresden books. It’s not exactly my cup of tea but
    I would still rank it above NO AWARD and the truly
    execrable The Dark Between The Stars which
    I am leaving off my ballot entirely.

    Pretty sure #1 on my ballot is The Three-Body Problem.

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