Now y’all I unnerstan I aint exactly the most edumacted of men. Hell I dropped clear outta school back in my junior year for to enter the workforce. Hell the only thing I got going fer me in the whole inter-lectual department is the fact that I like to read me a whole heap, mostly science fiction. And on account of the fact that I aint been too impressed with whats been coming out of that whole wirl-con what votes on the Hugo rewards the last few years or so I became a supporter of Mr Brad Torgersen’s Sad puppy 3 cam-pain. I figured if’n even a an ig-nint hill-william like myself could see that there was something wrong with them thar Hugo’s then the problem must be just as plain as day. However there appears to be a whole mess of people who seem to find the idea of fans like myself staking a claim at the Hugo’s to be downright oh-fenn-sive.

One such indyvidual goes by the name of Philip Sandifer. And not only is Mr Sandifer powerful annoyed at us yokels not staying down on the farm, (or trailer park as the case may be) he also happens to be a jen-U-wine professor of that there litrature. Now I did try and read Professor Sandifer’s overly long post about why I aint the write type of fan to be voting in them thar Hugo’s rewards, but wouldn’t you just know it? Afore I could even get halfway through that there know-vella I started to notice that a lot of what he was saying just dint make no damned cents.  And given that I reckon I could always use more traffic at this here blog, I decidered to take a page outta Mr. Correia’s book and do me a good old fashioned fisking. As Mr Correia always says, My words will be in bold, his’ins’ll be in eye-talics.

Right. It’s probably about time to collect all the issues and discussion of the 2015 Hugo Awards into one big post that is, at least in terms of what I have to say, a definitive take on it. A long read, to be sure, but one that will hopefully manage to cover everything important and give a clear sense of the issues and their implications.

One note that is probably worth making before we begin – I am writing this with the assumption of a basically sympathetic audience who have heard bits of the disturbing story, but who aren’t clear on the whole picture. It’s meant to be persuasive to people who are, broadly speaking, left-leaning (or at least not far-right) fans of intelligent and literary science fiction, and who are not generally of the opinion that there was ever anything badly wrong with the Hugo Awards. This is not to say “someone who agrees absolutely with the Hugo Awards,” as such a person presumably does not exist, awards being like that, but it is to say “someone who thinks the Hugo Awards have gone to generally reasonable selections over the past five years.”

Correspondingly, it is not expected to be in the least bit persuasive to people who think Theodore Beale to be an intelligent and respectable figure worth taking seriously. It is not an attempt to argue with them. For reasons that will I think become clear as the post goes on, I do not think arguing with them is a particularly worthwhile pursuit. In any case, off we go, first with a primer on what we’re actually talking about here.

You is preachin to the choir, gotcha! Pease continue Mister professor sir.

For decades, the Hugo Awards have been one of the leading awards in science fiction. This year, the Hugo nomination process was effectively taken over by two related groups who employed a controversial set of tactics that were legal but had not previously been employed in the over sixty year history of the Hugo Awards due to generally being considered unsporting and in poor taste.

I surely do hate to disagree with such a learned and wise man sir, but Mr George R.R. Martin hisself has gone on record as saying that this aint the first time this sort of thing has happened. Now I may just be a dumb old redneck, but it seems to me that if your aiming to “tell the truth and shame the devil” as my old pappy used to say, you might want to start by being accurate. 

Hugo nominations are a fairly simple affair. You join the World Science Fiction Convention (this year called Sasquan, and held in Spokane) for the year, either as a fully attending member or as a non-attending “supporting member” (this year costing $40). This entitles you to submit a nominating ballot for the Hugos, in which you can nominate up to five works in each category. The five eligible works in each category with the most nominations become the nominees, at which point voting happens.

Yup, that’s exactly how this old redneck got hisself in a position to be voting come July.

Because the overwhelming majority of Hugo nominators simply pick their personal favorite five (or fewer) works in each category, this system is easily gameable with a small amount of organization, which is what happened in 2015, when Brad Torgersen and Theodore Beale (also known under his pen name, Vox Day) each released full slates of nominees and called on people to submit their exact proposed slates.

Now sir, there you go agin telling tales. While its true that Vox Day did say something of that sort to his “dred elk” Mr Torgersen said the exact opposite of that on multiple occasions. In fact in the very first announcement of the Sad Puppies 3 slate Mr Torgersen said this “And here it is! After much combobulating, the official SAD PUPPIES 3 slate is assembled! As noted earlier in the year, the SAD PUPPIES 3 list is a recommendation. Not an absolute.” I realize I aint no Professor, and I aint had much training in reading whats not there, nor do I have the ability to “look into men’s minds” that you claim to further down in this here entry; but it seems to me that the words “recommendation” and “not an absolute” mean exactly the opposite of what you claim above. 

Relatively unreported – and indeed misreported in most coverage of this, is the fact that the Sad Puppies largely failed.

Well sir, I reckon that depends on how you define success or failure. I don’t beleive, based on his writings on the subject that it was ever Mr Torgersens intention to get all, or even a majority of the SP3 nominations onto the ballot. Although that may well have been Vox Day’s intention with his Rabid Puppies sllate. As Mr Torgersen said from the very beginning “So that hopefully deserving works and artists — who tend to be snubbed at awards season — get a chance on the final ballot.” Which they did. Every SP3 endorsed work got a chance, and a damn site larger one than they would have had without the Sad Puppies. In addition, since one of the the points of Sad Puppies was always stated to be to get more recognition to deserving authors, and considering the wild success of Mr Correia’s “book bombs” I’d say that SP3 succeeded on that front too. Finally, since one of Mr Torgersens stated desires was to increase the number of voters overall, and Sasquan is well on its way to having more voters than any wirl-con in historee, it surely does look to me like SP3 succeeded in all its goals. Hell the argument can, and has been made that SP3 was too successful.

Let’s start here with the Sad Puppies, although they are in practice the less important of the two slates. They are, however, the older; this is the third iteration of the Sad Puppies movement, which focused in previous years on getting a single work nominated into each category before this year expanding to full slates that would allow it complete control of major categories.

Now there you go agin Mr Professor sir. If I was the type of man to attribute motivations to people beyond what they actually write,  or If’n I were the type to believe that I had the ability to “see into men’s minds” I might accuse you of being intentionally dishonest. Fortunately my granpappy taught me to judge a man on what he says and writes, and not what I thought he said or wrote. At no time did Mr Torgesen, Mr Correia, or anyone else associated with SP3 state that it was their intent to “control major categories”. In fact the reaction both men had to the success of the puppy slate would seem to indicate that it was neither intended nor expected. 

There are several things worth noting here. First and most obvious is the spectacle of a grown man complaining about how he just can’t judge a book by its cover anymore.

Now Mr Professor sir, I will admit that was pretty slick rgueing. I too was told growing up that i should “never judge a book by its cover” by my own sainted momma. However, (and I caint speak for your upbringing) my own momma used that as a meta-fore to teach me not to judge people by their appearances. In point of fact, and I realize I speak as a decidedly non-professional writer, my unnerstanding is that the whole reason big publishing companies use artwork on the covers is specifically in order to make it easier for people to find what kind of book they is looking for. I mean it wouldn’t make much sense to put a picture of “Thomas the tank” engine on a reprint of “Dune” now would it?

Second, and hardly something that Torgersen has tried to hide, is the basic political aspect to this complaint. Observe the list of things that Torgersen does not want in his science fiction: racial prejudice and exploitation, sexism and the oppression of women, gay and transgender issues, the evils of capitalism and the despotism of the wealthy

Now sir, I can’t speak for Brad anymore than I can speak for you, not knowing what he was thinking when he wrote that. However given the vast body of work Mr Torgersen and Mr Correia have posted on Sad Puppies going back to the beginning, my unnerstandin has always been that what those authors object to (and I agree with this here sentymint) is when talking about those issues is done in such a heavy handed way that it overshadows the actual story being told. In other words neither author seems to mind tales about any of them there pressing issues, so long as you wrap it up in an entertaining tale, instead of lecturin us. I never liked me no lectures, in fact thats one of the reasons I dropped outta skool. 

I explain all of this simply to suggest that Brad Torgersen, whatever his merits may be in any other arena in which he may be judged, is an absolutely terrible critic of science fiction.

Well I do agree with you here Mr professor sir. In my experience those who are good at doing stuff usually aint so good at critisizin, and vice versy. 

It will not surprise anybody, and this too is a point we will return to in some detail, that he has terrible taste in science fiction as well.

Well now sir that’s where I do disagree.  I always figured that taste was subjective and that as such there weren’t no such thing as having bad taste. Some folks like vanilla iced cream, some like chocolate, and some like pisstacheo. (that’d be me sir). Now I realize that there are entire channels on the TeeVee devoted to the idea that some people have “better taste” than others when it comes to clothes, decoratin, and damn near everything else; but I always reckoned that was just a bit snobbish.

But as we’ve seen, it’s not really Torgersen who is most important here; it’s Theodore Beale. Although we ought not treat these as unrelated matters. The Rabid Puppies were the slate that actually dominated the Hugos nominations, but the Sad Puppies give every appearance of having been actively constructed to allow them to. In five of the six categories swept by Rabid Puppies, the Sad Puppies slate consisted of fewer than five nominations, with Beale’s slate simply taking the Sad Puppies and adding some of his own selections, in virtually every case things published by his own small press, Castalia House, or, in the two Best Editor categories, simply for himself outright. In other words, the Sad Puppies slate left exactly enough gaps for Beale to, in most major categories, fill them out.

Sir I must admit I find this comment confusing. Earier you claim that SP3 was designed to “take control of major categories” by having  five suggested nominees. (same number as the available slots) but here you claim that by having less than five nominees SP3 left “exactly enough gaps for Beale to fill in” Now agin, I aint the sharpest tool in the shed, but it seems to me that any number of recommendations that was less than five would also leave Mr Beale with enough gaps to fill. I mean if SP3 had only recommended two slots, then Mr Beale could have “filled it” by recommending three, and had SP3 recommended only one nominee (as Sad Puppies 2 did last year) then Mr Beale could have “filled it in” by recommending four. So if recommending five nominees was wrong, and recommended any less than five gave Mr Beale room to fill it in, it surely seems like nothing the puppies could have done would have been acceptable. But agin Mr professor sir, I can’t look into your mind” so I caint be sure, but that sure does seem to be what your saying.

The easiest mistake to make when trying to understand fascists is to think that they are best described in terms of a philosophy – as though fascism is a set of tenets and beliefs.

Well sir I’m not sure how exactly that is a mistake. Fascism is in fact a political philosophy and a rather old one at that. My understanding is that it has antecedents dating all the way back to the city-state of Sparta, and the name itself comes from the faces, which is a bundle of sticks. If I was being flippant, I could say that fascism boils down to the idea of “strength through unity and conformity” although it is far more complicated than that. However it does seem to be objectively true that fascism is in fact a political philosophy.  

On top of that, fascists have a remarkably well-developed vocabulary of jargon and a propensity for verbose arguments that puts me to shame.

Well now sir I think you are being entirely too modest.

What this means is that if you attempt to get into some sort of practical, content-based argument with a fascist, you will suddenly find yourself staring down a thirty item bulleted list with frequent citations to barely relevant and inaccurately described historical events, which, should you fail to address even one sub-point, you will be declared to have lost the debate by the fascist and the mob of a dozen people on Twitter who suddenly popped up the moment you started arguing with him.

Now agin sir, I can not pretend to know your mind, but it does seem to me that this is exactly the type of argument one would make if one wanted to change the definition of a fairly well defined political philosophy while at the same time dissqwalifyeing any attempt to disagree based on facts, historical or otherwise. 

No, the useful way to understand fascism, at least for the purposes of Beale, is as an aesthetic

This’n really confused me. I had always believed that the word aesthetic referred to appearances. So I had to consult the dictionary and see if there was a more obscure meaning I was not aware of. 

adjective
1.
relating to the philosophy of aesthetics; concerned with notions such as the beautiful and the ugly.
2.
relating to the science of aesthetics; concerned with the study of the mind and emotions in relation to the sense of beauty.
3.
having a sense of the beautiful; characterized by a love of beauty.
4.
relating to, involving, or concerned with pure emotion and sensation as opposed to pure intellectuality.
noun
5.
the philosophical theory or set of principles governing the idea of beauty at a given time and place:
the clean lines, bare surfaces, and sense of space that bespeak the machine-age aesthetic; the Cubist aesthetic.
6.
Archaic. the study of the nature of sensation.

And from what I can see sir, it appears that that is in fact what that word means. Perhaps you are using a different dictionary than I am. But agin I have no insight into your mind sir, that is merely what it appears from your argument.

It can basically be reduced to a particular sort of story. The fascist narrative comes, in effect, in two parts. The first involves a nostalgic belief in a past golden age – a historical moment in which things were good. In the fascist narrative, this golden age was ended because of an act of disingenuous betrayal – what’s called the “stab in the back myth.” (The most famous form, and the one that gave the myth its name, being the idea that German Jews had betrayed the German army, leading to the nation’s defeat in World War I.) Since then, the present and sorry state of affairs has been maintained by the backstabbers, generally through conspiratorial means. 
The second part is a vision of what should happen, which centers on a heroic figure who speaks the truth of the conspiracy and leads a populist restoration of the old order. The usual root of this figure is (a bad misreading of) Nietzsche’s idea of the ubermensch – a figure of such strength that morality does not really apply to him. He’s at once a fiercely individualistic figure – a man unencumbered by the degenerate culture in which he lives – and a collectivist figure who is to be followed passionately and absolutely. A great leader, as it were. (This is, counterintuitively, something of a libertarian figure. Ayn Rand’s heroes – the great and worthy men who deserve their freedom – are archetypal fascist heroes, because they rise up over the pettiness of their society and become great leaders.) It is not, to be clear, that all cults of personality are fascist, any more than all conspiracy theories are. Rather, it is the combination – the stab-in-the-back conspiracy theory coupled with the great leader that all men must follow – that defines the fascist aesthetic.

I got me a couple problems with what you done writ here. For one thing it appears that what you are actually referring to is a “narrative” and in fact you use the self same term in that first sentence. But you keep calling it an aesthetic which seems needlessly confusing. That’s not to say there isn’t such a thing as a fascist aesthetic, in fact Mr George Lucas did a pretty damn good job of capturing said aesthetic in the costume design for the Imperial Troops in that Space Wars movie. But what you seem to be referring to is not an “aesthetic” so much as a “narrative.” Hmm Maybe I just aint edumacted enough to unnerstan that words don’t always mean what they mean and can sometimes mean what theys don’t mean.  

The second problem I got, is that if you use a narrative that broad and general, it can be used to describe damn near anything or anyone . Take for example the Election of Mr Obama to President of these here United States. Now If’n one was so inclined he could easily fit Mr Obama’s election win into that self same narrative. You see there was once a golden age when the enlightened liberals had control, (the Clinton years) until that golden age was betrayed by those evil conservatives stabbing America in the back, (the impeachment trial, the Florida election reults etc) until a heroic figure (Mr Obama hisself) stood up to lead America back to its former glory. Hell, if’n one was so inclined you could apply the zact same narrative to the Hugo’s themselves. There was a golden age, (pre-puppies) which ended when the good and just members of wirl-con were stabbed in the back (by them thar evil puppies) and now all y’all good and just people is anxiously waiting for a heroic figure to lead y’all to victory. You see the problem here Mr professor sir? by creating such a broad and generalized narrative it becomes very easy to fit damn near any circumstances into that there narrative. 

Let’s turn next, then, to some of the nominees for short story, if only because this will require us to slog through fewer words of fascist prose than any other category, and, perhaps more importantly, because all five works are available for free online. Here they are, if you want to read yourself.
“Turncoat” by Steve Rzasa
“Totaled” by Kary English
“The Parliament of Beasts and Birds” by John C. Wright
“On a Spiritual Plain” by Lou Antonelli
“Goodnight Stars” by Annie Bellet

Oh goody. Stories! I love me some good stories. That’s why i started reading Sci-fi in the first place! Now to be fair, I’ve only read two of those five. I have not yet read “Goodnight Stars” nor have I read “Totaled” or “on a spiritual plan” but I do thank ya kindly for the links to the ones I haven’t read yet. 

Let’s start with “Turncoat,”

Oh goody. I liked that one.

The story is facile at best. The basic plot and themes are recycled from Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot, which was a similar series of philosophical explorations of machine intelligence dressed up in plots, although Asimov favored detective plots as opposed to paragraph-long lists of sci-fi weapons and descriptions of space combat. Posthumanity are just the all-conquering cyborgs in the mould of Doctor Who’s Cybermen and Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Borg, with “Integration” un-subtly standing in for “assimilation” or “upgrading.” The themes are similarly old hat – several paragraphs are spent discussing how the human ships “ took more risks than we did, even though their fragility is orders of magnitude greater than ours. They utilized tactics that did not appear to have a rational thought behind them, and yet, when the consequences are taken into consideration, their approach worked nearly as well as our eminently logical battle plan,” which reads like the bad rip-off of Kirk/Spock arguments that it is.

Well now sir I reckon that most of this goes back to taste, which i am assured there aint no accountin for. However you do make some objective claims here, and its those I’d like to address. To begin with you state that the basic plot and themes are recycled from “I robot” and that is, at best, only half true. The plot itself bears no resemblance to the plot of “I robot” which you seem to point out yourself later in the exact same sentence. Furthermore while the “themes” can be argued to be similar, depending on how reductive you wish to be pretty much all themes can be said to be recycled. In fact I seem to remember a rather famous literaturish sort creating an entire career on the idea of “the hero with a thousand faces”. Hell, Mr Asimov hisself wasn’t even the first person to explore the idea of artificial or machine intelligence. I’d bet good money that the ancient Greeks explored that exact same “theme” a time or two. The myth of Pygmaelion comes to mind. At the very least it would seem to go back to middle ages since a Golem aint much more than a robot made out of clay when you get right down to it. As to the conflict between emotion and logic, while I always enjoyed Capt’n Kirk and Mr Spock’s arguments that particular line of thought goes back even further than ancient Greece. If’n I’m not mistaken that theme appeared at least as early as “The epic of Gilgamesh” But then agin, I’ve heard far better writers than me quote that old saw about there being “no new ideas under the sun”. In my experience, anytime someone thinks they’ve seen something “wholly original” its usually because they don’t get out much. But agin, I caint look into your mind good sir. 

Similar, though not identical themes appear in Kary English’s “Totaled” – a story about a scientist who had worked on transhumanist technology about cybernetics, and who gets into a car crash, which results in her being “totaled,” which is to say, being deemed to require medical care in excess of her value as a human being. And so, having been totaled, she is sent to her old lab, which is tasked with using her decaying brain in the technology she invented to finish what she’d been working on.

Now sir, you may have noticed that I am only addressing the parts of this story that relate to the story itself as opposed to your interpretations of the political meanings behind it. This is mainly because I’ve noticed that people can read all sorts of political meanings into stories that the author never intended and that the political interpretations of stories tend to be as individual as readers.  That being said I had not yet read “Totaled” but if that synopsis of yours is accurate, I’m fixing to do so at my earliest convenience.

As for the story’s quality, while I’ll admit that the section’s header of “very lousy” is in this case exaggeration, I’m hard-pressed to seriously call the story Hugo-worthy. Its main drama comes from the narrator’s gradual mental disintegration as her brain reaches the six month limit of the technique being used to preserve it and succumbs to perfusion decay. This is conveyed in gradual changes to the narration style – for instance, in one of the first real indications of the impending decay, the narrator notes that “motor functions fail always first, then speech. I guess I’m luck lucky not to have, not to have any of those.” It’s moving, effective, and the same trick that Daniel Keyes won a Hugo with in 1960 for his story “Flowers for Algernon.”

Once agin you seem to be conflating “quality” with “originality” (for whatever quanteefihcayshun of originality you might like to prefer). While I agree that originality can lead to quality, quality need not be original, nor does originality necessarily mean good. As an example my Momma makes a mean biscuits with sausage gravy. Truth be told it aint very original, in fact the recipes done been passed down from Momma to daughter for quite a few generations with little or no change, but it damn sure is good. On the other hand my ex-wife once tried to “improve” upon the recipe by adding some “exotic and original” ingredients, and even she didn’t like it (my ex-wife I mean, my momma never tried it) 

Now I’m not going to go “review by review” as I haven’t read some of the other entries and your reviews of them basically seem to boil down to “I prefer chocolate to vanilla” and there aint nothing wrong with that. in reference to Charlie Jane Anders’s “As Good as New,” you said 

I recommend you go read it, just because it’s worth, after all of that, reminding yourself what good science fiction can feel like. Then when you get back, we’ll discuss one more story.

I will do so. But not right now. 

Right, so, instead of discussing the nominees that might have been – a discussion that really ought to wait until after Sasquan when the top fifteen nominees for each category and the vote totals are released and we can see what Theodore Beale kept off the ballot – let’s talk about one of the 2014 nominees, Rachel Swirsky’s “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love,” simply because it is the story most often cited by Beale’s supporters when they talk about the awful and sorry state of the Hugo Awards. 
This is, of course, ridiculous, as it’s by miles a better story than anything Beale nominated. For one thing, it’s actually well-written. There’s a poetic lilt to the language, which is soothingly iambic, like a story for a young child, which makes the emotional punch of it all the more acute. You can demonstrate this easily enough – here’s a passage from Swirsky’s story. Read it out loud, and pay attention to the way the language naturally falls into a rhythm:

Well sir, here we have a bit of an issue. I too read that that story and to be honest, I didn’t think much of it. But that’s not my problem. My problem is that this is one of those parts of your post where I begin to suspect that you are being intellectually dishonest. You see in each of the stories you found “fairly awful” the only really objective objections you had was that they weren’t “original enough”. You even went so far as to criticize “totaled” because it used a “trick” first used in the 60’s. The problem is that the structure of this particular story is lifted wholesale from an children’s book called “If you gave a mouse a cookie” In other words the reason the “language is soothingly iambic, like a story for a young child” is precisely because the structure was modeled after an actual children’s story. No agin, I caint read your mind, but Im sure that a man as enlightened and well edumacted as yourself can see how that might strike some as a touch hypocritical, and that failing to mention it might seem a wee bit dishonest. 

If they built you a mate, I’d stand as the best woman at your wedding. I’d watch awkwardly in green chiffon that made me look sallow, as I listened to your vows. I’d be jealous, of course, and also sad, because I want to marry you. Still, I’d know that it was for the best that you marry another creature like yourself, one that shares your body and bone and genetic template. I’d stare at the two of you standing together by the altar and I’d love you even more than I do now. My soul would feel light because I’d know that you and I had made something new in the world and at the same time revived something very old. I would be borrowed, too, because I’d be borrowing your happiness. All I’d need would be something blue.

Then try a bit of Steve Rzasa’s “Turncoat”:

My eight torpedoes are engulfed by the swarm of counter-fire missiles. The Yellowjackets explode in bursts of tightly focused x-rays, highlighted in my scans as hundreds of slender purple lines. My torpedoes buck and weave as they take evasive maneuvers. Their secondary warheads, compact ovoid shapes nestled inside their tubular bodies, shatter and expel molybdenum shrapnel at hypervelocities. Tens of thousands of glittering metal shards spray out in silver clouds against the void of space.

I expect the difference is intuitively clear.

No sir, at least not to this under-educated shit kicker. In point of fact I find the second example to be more aesthetically pleasing, more narrativley pleasing, and to be a far better example of efficient story telling to boot. But agin, I reckon that might be down to taste. 

One of these two types of science fiction is capable of literary genius, is full of emotion and pathos, is surprising, is clever, and feels fresh. The other is warmed over retreads of decades old ideas that quietly but insidiously advance fascist ideologies.

You know sir, there’s a lot of old saws I grew up with that might be applicable here. “two wrong don’t make a right”, “an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind”etc. I’m sure you heard a few yourself. Just food for thought.

I do not think that it is unreasonable to suggest that, given this choice, it is worth using one’s vote in the 2015 Hugo Awards to declare that the latter category is unworthy of any literary recognition or award. This is certainly the position I took publicly the day after the nominations were announced. It’s also a position that George R.R. Martin responded to by asking “are you fucking crazy?” So, actually, maybe the whole reasonableness thing is worth spelling out.  

I’d appreciate that Mr professor sir. You see I just can’t see the logic of protesting slate voting by voting a slate. Neither apparently can Mr Martin. Nor can I see the sense of prejudging the quality of a work based on your opinion of the author. I’ve been told Hemingway wasn’t the nicest person in the world, but he sure did write purty

There are still, every year, people who vote No Award in the two Best Dramatic Presentation categories (which has, in practice, essentially been a popularity contest between Doctor Whoand Game of Thrones fandoms for the past few years, with Game of Thrones winning), just to protest the category’s existence.

See now, here’s where you really lose me. You’ve said multiple times that there weren’t never no slates or controlling clique’s till the Puppies came along pidding on y’alls nice carpet. But if that’s the case, then how exactly did the category of best dramatic presentation become “a popularity contest between Doctor Who and Game of Thrones fandoms for the past few years”?

Perhaps more to the point, there’s a complex but existent system for voting to spite all of the nominees and not give a Hugo in a category for a given year in the first place. Which has been used only sporadically in the past, but due to the fact that the Hugos use a ranked ballot, does mean that Hugo voters have specifically given a rebuke to nominated works in the past, including the Theodore Beale last year, and, more historically, L. Ron Hubbard, who, when Scientology supporters bulk-nominated him for a Hugo in 1987, ultimately came in below No Award in the voting.

There is, in other words, ample precedent within the Hugo Awards for using them as a platform to make a statement.

And I agree with you 100% sir. In fact if you or anyone else wishes to vote the “No Awards” slate I heartily recommend you do so. I only hope you would be as ethical as the Sad Puppies were, and actually read the nominated works first. 

Now Mr Professor sir this ends my attempted fisking of your article. I will not address your issues with Mr Beale for several reason. 

1) I reckon a man who spends as much time as he does pissing people off is more than capable of speaking for hisself.

2) It aint my place to speak for anyone but myself. 

3) Unlike you sir, I do not have the ability to “look into another man’s mind”, in point of fact the only professor I know of who can is Professor Charles Xavier and to the best of my knowledge he aint real.

4) Because this aint about Teddy Beale, it weren’t never about Teddy Beale, and unless folks like you try to make it so, it aint never gonna be about Teddy Beale. Its about the Hugo rewards, and about the quality of the works being nominated and being rewarded. I, like many of the Sad Puppies, believe that folks like yourself have consistently voted for low quality works that have changed the Hugo’s from a seal of quality to a mark of boredom. You are free to disagree sir, personally I don’t give a damn what a literature professor who needs a Patreon in order to make a living writing thinks. 

Finally I will just say sir that while I don’t know for sure that you are, as you claim to be, a English Professor; I am more than willing to believe it. You truly do have a talent for using as many words as possible to say very little. I will also say sir, that while we do not seem to share the same taste in stories I do not begrudge your freedom to enjoy whatever you enjoy; though I do wish you would recognize my right to do the same without being quite so damned condescending. Finally I would point to the objective decline in the sales of traditionally published science fiction over the last several years as evidence (though by no means proof) that perhaps there was something wrong with the Hugo’s before the puppies where ever whelped.  But then agin, I’m just a poor dumb redneck so what do I know?

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