Albie Awards 2015: Introduction

Once more into the breach, my friends.

So those of you who started reading my blog because of my coverage of this year’s Hugo Awards are probably wondering why I didn’t make a follow-up post when the winners were announced. After all, I got really invested in this whole event, and why wouldn’t I stick around to see how it ends and comment on the situation as it updates? Well, I aim to please, so I’m going to comment on the results, assuming that the results here list everything in order of votes and aren’t just singling out the winners.

  • The best novel won Best Novel. The Three Body Problem hasn’t gotten any worse in my mind since I first read and reviewed it, and The Goblin Emperor, which is in second place, has gotten better. Nothing else to say here other than to congratulate the voters on recognizing history in the making.
  • Ms. Marvel taking Best Graphic Story isn’t surprising, though I’m rethinking which story I would have wanted to win. Maybe I was hyping Saga‘s third volume too much because I adore everything else I’ve read from Brian K. Vaughan, and maybe this would have been Sex Criminals‘ best chance to win, since I haven’t been feeling as enthusiastic about that series since the first volume. Speaking of which, why did Rat Queens do better than Sex Criminals? That first volume was a plotless, slapdash affair that had the punk rock aesthetic of enthusiasm and attitude in the place of depth and complexity. You know, the single biggest problem of the punk rock genre? I truly don’t understand, unless subsequent volumes are hugely improved and voters remembered that part instead of the first one.
  • Not surprised with the Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) results, though I am disappointed. Not that Guardians of the Galaxy is a bad movie. Maybe it’s a touch overrated, but I’m fine with it getting praised. No, I’m disappointed because The Lego Movie came in last, if the results link on the official site is to be believed. Maybe the losers are in alphabetical order, but that’s not true of any other category. In light of that, I have to assume that there are more superficial idiots who go “durr hurr hurr toy commercial” without actually watching the fucking movie than I thought or hoped existed. Seriously, there were a couple of brain trusts on Something Awful who thought that The Lego Movie‘s inclusion on the ballot was the worst thing to come out of the Sad Puppies controversy. I can’t decide which angle to yell at them from, so let’s just move on.
  • All I can surmise from Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) is that for the first time in a decade, the award has gone to a TV show other than Doctor Who or Game of Thrones (Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog isn’t a TV show, obviously.). I don’t know if this is because Orphan Black has blown up in popularity or if those other shows have lost their luster in 2014, but I am at least glad that we’re embracing variety here. When I looked over the list for past winners in categories with either ongoing series that last years or the editor categories, the list of things that had long winning streaks was much higher than I expected. Remember, Phil and Kaja Foglio had to tell Worldcon to stop nominating Girl Genius for Best Graphic Story because nobody else was getting a chance! I guess this is a problem with the Hugo voting process that only bothers me, and might not need solving. I still wish it was more like the AV Club’s year-end TV show rankings, where every year has a different show getting to first place even though consistently good shows always make the list.
  • Both of the Best Editor categories are essentially meaningless to me, being about people whose contributions to their fields aren’t obvious and aren’t meant to be. I’m going to need about five years of research before I start to keep track of these behind-the-scenes personalities without going through a timesink of research. I wish I had time to read the anthologies in the voter packet, but I guess there’s always next year. Don’t expect me to actually cover the categories in the future, though.
  • Best Professional Artist saw other voters agreeing with me that this was the easiest choice in the world. Yay for Julie Dillon!
  • No comment on anything else, honestly. I wish I read the included zines and I really wish I hadn’t read the fan writings.

I wish that was all I could say about the awards this year. Let me put it this way. There’s this famous show I watched this year, and I won’t say what it is, but the season ended with only one person happy about how things turned out for them, and that was the most evil person on the show, bar none. Replace that person with Vox Day and I’m pretty sure that this is how the awards went this year. The only person who “won” this year’s awards, aside from the actual winners, is the asshole who wants them all burned down because he’s enamored of thinking of himself as a cartoon supervillain.

Sick of This Shit
Thanks, Worldcon. Thanks, Correiabama.

With all of the bile and hyperbole flying back and forth between the Sad and Rabid Puppies and the establishment, almost nobody came out of this debate with any dignity intact, and I don’t think I’m one of them. Make no mistake, people who think the Puppies are full of crap, having No Award take five categories was not a victory for the status quo. It isn’t going to make this controversy go away. George R.R. Martin was absolutely right when he said that doing that would only enrage the Puppies, make them wail and gnash their teeth, and say “See?! I told you! I told you they hate us and want to silence us!” I have acquaintances who insist that Worldcon is trying to nuke the awards to keep their favorite authors and their favorite type of science fiction from ever winning an award again, and one of them called the voters “goosesteppers”. [Edit: He said lockstep, not goosestep, and chewed me out for trying to invoke Godwin’s Law. I screwed up and I’m sorry.]

I can’t decide what makes me more upset, that comment or how the opening ceremonies for the Hugos went. I tried to see the whole ceremony on stream, and only saw the panel discussing the Sad Puppies and that one skit. Well, I say “discussing,” but at no point did they actually bring up what the Sad Puppies say are the reasons that they’re doing what they’re doing. If you forgot, it’s fighting against what they see as a group of ivory tower insiders who are out of touch with popular genre fiction, against ideological and political bias, and for pulp fiction to stand a chance against highbrow literary stuff. Instead of talking about any of that, all I remember is the panelists acting confused about what’s happening and settling on the strawman option of “these authors haven’t won legitimately and are trying to force a win for themselves.” I understand that this isn’t the main event but jeez, guys. Then there was a skit where a giant puppet of the grim reaper threatened the hosts, who said that they wouldn’t let him take the Hugos like he took Leonard Nimoy and Terry Pratchett.

Yes, they seriously invoked the names of the two most prominent deaths of this year in this politically-charged skit. I appreciate the idea of not wanting these awards to die, and without context you might not know what the implication is, but coming right after that panel it made me impatient of shenanigans and just felt like rubbing salt everywhere. Something tells me that Nimoy and Pratchett might not have approved.

Speaking of things that have never been brought up, there’s something I’ve been told by my conservative acquaintances that I feel like I should mention. The “goosestepper lockstep” guy I mentioned above was angry that news coverage of the Sad Puppies apparently called Sarah Hoyt, one of their most ignored supporters, a man. What I suspect actually happened is that when they keep mentioning three men who are leading this “attack on the Hugos” (probably their words), they’re talking about Larry Correia (who stepped back from leading the charge this year), Brad Torgerson (the actual leader of Sad Puppies), and Vox Day (because few people on the left are bothering to separate the Sad and Rabid Puppies, due to how closely aligned the actual results of their campaigns are).

I’m not sure how much Hoyt contributed to the whole movement, but I’m sure it was a substantial amount. As hard as it may be to accept, sometimes a woman and/or a member of other traditionally marginalized demographics just will not make feminism or other progressive causes their first priority, and even be against the rhetoric promoting further changes than what has been currently accepted by their society at large. Since there’s really no mistaking that Sad Puppies is a conservative movement, having a woman be associated with it in any sort of prominent role complicates the narrative, so of course the gun-jumping news outlets would ignore that complication.

That might not have gotten on my nerves so much (and wouldn’t at all had this acquaintance not complained about it in my presence) if Hoyt’s blog posts on her position weren’t so much more compelling than Torgerson’s. Whereas Torgerson talked about good old days (that didn’t actually exist) where the Hugo awards supported pulp and whiz-bang fun to the exclusion of all else and essentially made a strawman of himself for Matthew David Surridge to knock out of the park, Hoyt discusses the nerve-wracking stress, whispers and ostracizing from her community she experienced from the science fiction community because she wasn’t as liberal as they would have liked her to be. I can empathize; I was also a conservative in my late high school years, and was scared that I would be similarly mistreated when I came to college, though that was partially general social anxiety that still plagues me. Unless she was doing some heinous Orson Scott Card stuff that she had no shame about the public discovering, I can’t see how she deserves that treatment, and if that is happening some sort of solution is necessary, though probably not the one she chose.

Anyway. To add to the discussion of the results, a whole bunch of categories got No Awarded. I’m pleased that Best Novella had this happen, frankly, because I would not have been comfortable with any of the nominees winning. I don’t care about the Editor stuff, as I mentioned before, or Best Related WorkBest Short Story made me mildly sad, since the ones I didn’t boycott were alright, if nothing spectacular. The results of Best Novella, wherein the dippy, myopic, simplistic Dutch love story won pretty much by default, are anger-inducing, and unlike my anger at the controversy itself, I’m not the least bit uncomfortable expressing that emotion. It honestly makes me wish there were six No Awards this year instead of five, if we really can’t forgive Gray Rinehart or Michael F. Flynn of guilt by association.

That’s about all I have to say about the results and the ceremony. But that’s not really why I’m writing this post, as you can guess by the post title. See, even though George R.R. Martin participated in that farce of a panel I complained about earlier, I still think he’s one of the few people who handled this situation well. He spent this convention making his own award, the Albie Awards (named after the guy from Babylon 5 the first winner of Best Novel in the early ’50s), to give to people who he thought were unfairly ignored by the mostly-Puppy ballot of this year. It’s hard not to feel sorry for the could-have-beens, though I feel sorry for most of the actual nominees as well. So in the spirit of this new award, and to further examine if the Sad Puppies actually made the ballots worse than they would have been otherwise, I’m going to review everything that would have made the ballot but didn’t, including Sad Puppy (but not Rabid Puppy) works that didn’t make it in.

Well, not everything. Honestly, I burned myself out trying to review every category I could, without taking into consideration which ones I’d actually be good at. I want to limit myself to the categories that actually involve works of fiction, so that excludes Fan Writer, Fancast, Related Works, the Artists, the Editors, and the Zines. The John W. Campbell Award lists authors, not works, and I don’t think it’s worth pursuing as a result. Movies were unaffected by the Puppies or the No Awarders, and the only change in the comics was that Zombie Nation beat out… another volume of Saga. As much as I like Saga, maybe only giving it one chance at the award like everyone else wasn’t such a bad idea.

So, that leaves Novels, Novellas, Novelettes and Short Stories, pretty much in the same order I did them for the Hugos. I’d like to finish this all off by the end of the year, as quickly as I did the actual Hugo nominees, and since I’m going to try and balance other things I want to do with the fact that I’m limiting what I’m doing for this feature, only time will tell if I actually succeed with this goal. Stay tuned for me talking about the stories this site is supposed to be about, everyone.

2 thoughts on “Albie Awards 2015: Introduction”

  1. The order of finish on the Hugo Awards web site is the order in which they placed, not alphabetical. The Lego Movie did indeed place fifth in BDP Long form. There’s a link to the detailed order of finish and how the votes were cast on the Hugo web site.

    1. Thanks for pointing out this process to me, and for confirming that it doesn’t matter how much better The Lego Movie’s pieces fit together more than Interstellar’s, when voters will just focus on what movie looks more mature, important and meaningful at first glance.

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