Monday, August 24, 2015

No Wins Hugo

This post puts a final nail in the SNARL-Hugo series of posts.  I must admit to being completely put off by the quality of this year's short fiction nominees.  I am afraid we will see this problem again if there is not a revamping of the nomination process. 

This last weekend the Hugo award winners were announced, and the big winner was:


  1.       "No" won handily in five categories (Novella, Short Story, Best Related Work, Editor Short Form, Editor Long Form). 
  2.        "No" came in second in four categories ( Novelette, Professional Artist, Fanzine, Fan Writer), and picked up a prestigious second place John Campbell award for best new writer.
  3.        "No" came in third in two categories (Novel, Fancast)
  4.        "No" came in fourth in one category (Semiprozine)
  5.        "No" came in fifth, beating only one nominee, in only one category (Best Graphic Story)

"No" only failed to place in a couple categories.  Interestingly "No" was shut out in both the dramatic presentations categories; the only categories it had ever won in the past. 

"No" was my personal favorite in the short fiction categories.  I had almost hoped that Kary English's story "Totaled" would have won, but if it had I would have been left thinking that it might have lost to worthy competitors.  I don't think "No" would have beat Kary if there were any other reasonable short stories to judge hers against.  Interestingly the winner of the Novelette category was the only nominated short fiction I have not read.  I will probably not read it as I am just sick of whatever this stuff is that they call short fiction in 2015. 

The thing is that the rabid-sad puppies filled the nominations with work -especially in the short fiction- that was awful.  I should have kept track of the descriptors used to explain how bad people thought the Rabid-Sad puppies work was.  It would have been nice to know if "%!!?# **%$!! That **&p;%;#$!! Was &;*(^)!;$%?" beat out "Can I have my hour back?", or if something more vanilla like "Please get me a plastic spoon so I can scrape the residue left by reading that crap out of my brain!" could chalk up a win. 

The slate-filling is something that is done in reduction down-select voting processes.  In Utah this is the reason behind maintaining a costly caucus-primary system.  Since only two candidates make it from the closed caucus to the public primary it is possible to slate dummy candidates to force out candidates that might win in the primary if the public was given a chance to vote for them.  Since I have been in Utah the slating in caucus has been used to elect Senator Mike Lee, and allowed John Huntsman to be elected governor when the incumbent had something like an 85% approval rating.    It almost worked against Senator Orin Hatch in the last election cycle; hatch went on to win the public primary by a nearly two-to-one margin. The idea to slate out popular candidates in order to control an election is a Utah idea.  Interestingly the two main "sads" in the rabid-sad puppy group are Utahians.  They took what they thought was a winning political strategy from the rooms of the Utah GOP caucus, and applied it to a literary award.

"Our execution wasn't flawless. I made two mistakes, one which was fortuitous as it permitted Three Body Problem to make the shortlist and win, and one which was stupid as it cost us a 6th category in novelette. Our discipline could also have been better, although I don't see that it would have made any difference at all with regards to either the nominations or the awards. But I trust the moderate approach is now sufficiently discredited in everyone's eyes."  -- Vox Day on Vox Popoli 23 August 2015

"From Communists to Muslims to SJWs, various philosophies and religions have been more than happy to attempt to coopt Jesus Christ, because they believe he is dead. What they cannot countenance are the servants of the Living God"  -- Vox Day on Vox Popoli 24 August 2015

In any sacrificial slating there are dummy candidates.  Tim Bridgewater was the dummy GOP candidate for Mike Lee.  Nolan Karras was the dummy GOP candidate for John Huntsman.  In the case of this year's Hugo awards it looked like most of the dummy candidates were just one guy: John C. Wright.  JCW was nominated into so many slots that I would be surprised if it were not some sort of a record.    And all of the work used to nominate him was craptacular.  It was some of the worst written fiction of any length I have ever read in any genre.  The fact that so many of what I hope are JCW's worst works received Hugo nominations does permanent damage to the genre of science fiction.  Already collections that include these turds of stories are being offered for sale with the announcement that they contain "Hugo Nominated" works.  There will be nobody around to say "This story may have been nominated, but it lost to No Award it was so bad".

Reading the Hugo-nominated works of John C. Wright is not just a waste of time it is a waste of interest.  The Hugo process may have finally figured out how to nominate dramatic presentations, but it has failed the written word.  There is a steady stream of ways to be influenced over what TV show to watch; there may be one less way to get reasonable recommendations about what written work is worth reading.  The Hugos does not provide an important voice in the selection of TV shows, but it was (is?) one of only a few for short science fiction works.

"I should mention that during the last few months of the Sad Puppies kerfluffle, I once upon a time accurately described him, Mr. Moshe Feder, and Mrs Irene Gallo of Tor Books as ‘Christ Haters.’ The support of abortion, sodomy, and euthanasia rather unambiguously put a soul into the position of open rebellion against Christian teachings. In addition, any man who bears false witness against his neighbor, delights in poison-tongued gossip, and destroys writing careers of anyone who does not support his politics not only disobeys Christ, but violates the ordinary decency of ordinary men of good will of any faith."  -- John C. Wright on his blog 23 August 2015

There are several conservative commentators who decry the strong showing of "No" at the 2015 Hugos as a petulant attack on the civility and social order.  Most people just don't care, which is actually worse.   Science fiction has actively imagined the downfall of civilization fairly often, but unless people trust the Hugo process to identify the best of science fiction the Hugos awards are literally worthless; there is in fact no other significant purpose for the Hugos.       

"The social justice tendency, here as elsewhere, is driven by anxious white middle-class bloggers and authors who turn their noses up at the tastes of the proletariat. They'd rather celebrate books about coming to terms with the disabled transgender experience than a good story about aliens and ray guns."  -- Milo Yiannopoulos on Breitbart 23 August 2015

If the rabid-sad puppies are successful in pushing the Hugo awards down the path of triviality again next year I will probably join the vast majority of people who don't care about them already. 

The strong "No" showing may be the first step back from the brink for the Hugos.  However, the rabid-sad puppies vow to do the same thing to the Hugos next year.  Vox Day is even holding a special secret workshop for 2016 Hugo strategizing this Thursday (27 August 2015).

The only way to counter that threat is to get enough votes for good works.  But how do you find the really good works out of the seemingly endless morass of science fiction and fantasy?  Well... you could get people to recommend good works to other people who might together nominate them. If you read something worthwhile you need to tell other people about it, and explain why you liked it.  Put your opinion on the line like I did this year.  Help make reading the Hugo nominated works a pleasure in 2016.

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