Saturday, January 31, 2015

Sad Puppies, working as designed

This criticism of award-eligibility posts by what appears to be a garden variety pinkshirt proves that the International Lord of Hate effectively made his point last year with Sad Puppies 2, and also underlines the importance of The Ensaddening:
It’s that time of year again when the blogosphere is suddenly full of awards eligibility posts. Some people consider them useful and some people think they’re a bad thing. I used to believe there was something a little bit off about them, and I put that down to being, well, British. Blowing your own trumpet and all that. Bad form, you know. But my opinion on them has hardened of late. Having seen what a mockery the Hugo Awards were last year – which is not to say they haven’t been for many, many years – but in 2014 I was more than just an observer on the sidelines…

In 2014, I joined the Worldcon, which allowed me nominate works for the award. I took my vote seriously. I read novels I believed might be award-worthy, so I could put together a reasonably well-informed ballot. But the way everything worked out only brought home to me quite how corrupt is the culture surrounding the Hugos. And part of that culture is the awards eligibility post.

So why are they bad?

For one thing, awards are not about authors – they’re about what readers think of individual works. When an author enters a conversation about their book, they skew the conversation. We’ve all seen it happen. It usually result in authors bullying fans. When an author does the same with awards, they skew the awards.

It’s not a level playing-field. If Author A lists the eligible works they had published in 2014 and a couple of thousand people see that list, and Author B does the same but hundreds of thousands of people see their list… and if 0.01% of those people then nominate a work, guess who’s more likely to appear on the shortlist? Popular vote awards are by definition a popularity contest, so to make it acceptable for those with the loudest voices to shout across the room just makes a mockery of the whole thing.

Awards are fan spaces. Authors should not invade fan spaces. This is not to say that authors are not fans themselves. And there’s no reason why they shouldn’t behave as fans in fan spaces. But an awards eligibility post is an author-thing not a fan-thing. (This leaves posts where authors recommend others’ works in something of a grey area. Big Name Authors have Big Loud Voices, and their endorsement can still skew an award.)
The amusing thing is that most of these would-be critics of Larry Correia know perfectly well who is the individual most to blame for the current state of the Hugo Awards, but they are hesitant to point fingers and call him out for the fraud that he is. And that individual is none other than our old friend McRapey, who was the first to breach the dividing line between author and fan when he openly campaigned for the Best Fan Writer award, and managed to get himself nominated for it in 2007 before winning it in 2008. He justified his actions at the time by claiming that "authors are fans too". I've repeatedly shown that McRapey is a charlatan and a liar, but he does have a gift for ruthless self-marketing; his SFWA presidency was part and parcel of the same self-inflating campaign.

Since then, other authors have attempted to follow Scalzi's path to status among the publishing gatekeepers, including Jim C. Hines, the 2012 winner, and Kameron Hurley, the 2014 winner. Hurley even puts a price tag on her Fan Writer Hugo.
If you want to know what magical thing happened between MIRROR EMPIRE and THE STARS ARE LEGION to finally get me to what most folks in the industry used to consider a solid mid-lister advance, it’s one word:


So when people tell me that Hugos don’t matter, awards don’t matter, and promotion don’t matter, you can imagine the $13,000 face I make.
(That's the point that Brad Torgersen missed in his calculations of Hugo value. They are worthless for selling books to readers, but they are very helpful for getting advances from status-seeking pinkshirt publishers.) But there is more than that. As Kaedrin points out, even if we ignore Scalzi's two Dadaesque nominations for Redshirts and "Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue", it appears that his 2006 nomination for Old Man's War may be sketchy. Unless the rules have changed, how can anyone argue that The Martian is not eligible given that Old Man's War was also self-published more than a year prior to its 2006 nomination?
The Martian suffers from eligibility issues - it was self published in 2012, then snapped up by a publisher and put into fancy editions and audio books in 2014 (where it has sold extremely well). General consensus seems to be that it will not be eligible, but I think there are a few things going for it. One is that self-published works that get bought up by a real publisher and come out a year or two later have made it onto the ballot before (an example that comes to mind is Scalzi's Old Man's War, which was self-published in 2003 or 2004, after which it was promptly bought up by Tor and republished in 2005, garnering a Hugo nomination in 2006).
The Hugo Awards are corrupt. But Sad Puppies isn't what corrupted them. Quite to the contrary, Sad Puppies is a necessary part of the process of cleaning them up and restoring them to something that actually recognizes excellence in genuine science fiction and fantasy. 

The left-wing rot runs considerably deeper than most realize; consider this letter from John Norman to Locus, written concerning a WorldCon more than a decade ago:
For those in the science-fiction community who are interested in freedom of speech, a free and open marketplace of ideas, in debate, dialogue, reason, and such, the recent convention is a considerable embarrassment. It seems a shame that the Millennium World Science Fiction Convention will be remembered for its suppression of dissent, an absence of authentic dialogue, its exclusionistic criteria for participation, and its parochial PC mentality. The past cannot be undone, though, I suppose, it is easy enough to lie about it.

I received a note, dated June 21, 2001, in response to a letter of inquiry, dated June 7, 2001, my letter pertaining to the possible refusal of certain members of the programming committee to countenance an intellectually open convention. My first letter was dated April 7, 2001, and the program-participant list was several times added to, and updated, after that time. The following is my response to the note.

Thank you for your note of June 21, 2001. Your note reads, in part, as follows: Thank you for your interest in being a Program participant at the Millennium Philcon. However, we are unable to accept your offer for this Worldcon. However, we expect to be able to have a mass autographing session at the Worldcon. Any writer in attendance will be welcome to come in and sign.

It will be noted, in connection with the first paragraph above, that it was not made clear why the "acceptors and rejecters" were "unable" to accept my offer of participation. I thought they were in charge of programming. Without being sanguine to edit another's discourse, I think, perhaps, they might have said something like "we refuse to let you participate" or, perhaps, "because of political pressures, from certain authors and/or fans, we feel it might our jeopardize our position in a personality network, to have an open convention."

I was sorry to be unpleasant, but how else could one possibly have construed such a lame and implausible remark.

With respect to the second paragraph, their offer was empty, and insulting. For example, as my name did not appear on the list of program participants none of my fans would know that I would be there, and, accordingly, would not bring any books to sign. It is hard for me to suppose that this detail escaped the notice of the "acceptors and rejecters."

The grounds for my exclusion were clearly not logistic or professional. For example, I wrote to the committee months before the convention, arid their membership list had been updated, with new additions, several times since that time. That rules out the rationalization of not enough chairs in the hotel, or such.

Similarly, the grounds for my exclusion could not plausibly be professional. Had I not sold enough millions of books? For example, I have had several million books published in the genre of science fiction, have a worldwide fandom, am available in several languages, and have had two movies made which were putatively based on my work. I think there are very few, if any, authors, much as we love them all, who had objectively made more of a contribution to the genre in the past fifty years.
We have a long way to go. But we have stronger spirits, longer legs, and bigger guns. And, more importantly, unlike our predecessors, we see the enemy for exactly what they are. John Norman was right. "Science fiction's future deserves more than to be a literary backwater despised by serious critics, and held in contempt by the average intellectual; it deserves more than to be a vehicle for an endless potlatch of prizes."

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Blogger Cataline Sergius January 31, 2015 11:42 AM  

Some year we need to show up en masse at World Con.

The screams alone would be worth it.

Anonymous Stingray January 31, 2015 11:49 AM  

But Sad Puppies isn't what corrupted them.

No, and as you said, they know it. However, by writing posts such as you quoted, that contain a truth, the pink shirt readers of these posts can use them as a salve to calm that quiet cognitive dissonance that is making them uncomfortable. Since some person whom they hold in authority implies it is the Sad Puppies fault in all of this, they can and will believe him and sleep better at night, comfy in their perceived superiority.

Anonymous pseudotsuga January 31, 2015 12:38 PM  

For the first time ever, I put my money where the pain is--I am now a supporting member of Worldcon, and I get to vote on what is Hugo worthy or not. The whining of those Poor Sad Puppies got on my nerves at last, and I'm going to do my part to make sure that the SJWs whine even louder....oh, wait-- My bad! Wrong puppies!
At any rate, I will do my part to make sure that the Hugo awards actually represent strong writing instead of social posturing. (Dinosaur revenge fantasies are award winning stories?! *spit*)

Anonymous Roundtine January 31, 2015 12:54 PM  

How long does it take to get contacted? I signed up yesterday, but haven't received any email aside from the confirmed transaction. I tried the PIN lookup and it didn't work, maybe they were overloaded with sign-ups yesterday?

Blogger Vox January 31, 2015 12:56 PM  

I tried the PIN lookup and it didn't work, maybe they were overloaded with sign-ups yesterday?

Could be. Try emailing them and asking. I imagine they're fairly busy today.

Blogger James Dixon January 31, 2015 12:57 PM  

I apologize Vox, but there are higher priorities at the moment, so I'll have to sit out this year. :(

Blogger Vox January 31, 2015 1:19 PM  

No worries. Join in the fun next year.

Anonymous Genteel Wabbit January 31, 2015 1:25 PM  

Registered. Looking forward to some good reading in the Hugo packet.

Anonymous Nathan January 31, 2015 1:35 PM  

I am curious to see if Hurley earns out her advance. Otherwise, her statements seem to be the standard confusion of critical success with commercial success. My guess is no, as she really seems to illustrate the classic "men with boobs" approach to writing women, despite parroting Women's Studies pablum into a Hugo.

Blogger Brad Andrews January 31, 2015 1:42 PM  

When must something be written to qualify? I have no idea if it would be good enough, but this almost makes me want to finally write at least a good short story. Would something this year be eligible next year?

Anonymous Noah B. January 31, 2015 1:50 PM  

It's good to get them on record as saying that the Hugo Awards have turned into a meaningless popularity contest, because if Sad Pupplies should fail, the very same people who are now condemning the award will suddenly claim it is some sort of highly meaningful vindication.

Blogger ajw308 January 31, 2015 1:59 PM  

From the Sasquan webmaster when I questioned their non-responsive application process:
Your PayPal receipt IS your convention receipt being it’s processed through our system. You will receive your member # and Pin for Hugo nominations in about a week. We process the memberships
offline and in batches, the next one being closed out on Feb 1, 2015.

Blogger MidKnight January 31, 2015 2:17 PM  

Signed up Friday. Got the receipt back, but nothing else so far.

Any recommendations for a slate? Nemesis was most excellent.

Blogger Vox January 31, 2015 2:21 PM  

Any recommendations for a slate? Nemesis was most excellent.

Coming very soon. Hold your fire.

Blogger Shibes Meadow January 31, 2015 3:56 PM  

$13,000? That's a "solid, mid-lister advance"? SF publishing must be small potatoes; I got a $6K advance for my very first book (non-fiction, still in print ten years later). I would consider $50K to be an advance worth crowing about, but $13K is just pathetic. I spent more than that redoing our kitchen this past year, and we're at the lowest end of the upper middle class.

Still, I guess when you live with your folks and have no children, $13K is a lot of money.

New post at the Shibes blog, BTW. Leave a comment if you feel the urge.

Anonymous hygate January 31, 2015 4:50 PM  

Paid my $40 bucks last year, will be voting again this year.

Blogger Corvinus January 31, 2015 5:07 PM  

While on the topic of skewering SJWs:

SJW complains about anti-SJWs using SJW tactics:

Blogger Corvinus January 31, 2015 5:07 PM  


Blogger Jack Aubrey January 31, 2015 5:49 PM  

I want John Norman to write "Social Justice Warriors of Gor." I'd nominate it for the Hugo in a heartbeat!

Blogger Northern Hamlet January 31, 2015 5:55 PM  

Can I just say I fucking hate the names of Scalzi's books? Like come on, put some damn thought into it. Tacky is one word that comes to mind.

I can't be the only one.

OpenID thetroll January 31, 2015 6:05 PM  

> Any recommendations for a slate?

OpenID malcolmthecynic January 31, 2015 6:28 PM  

When I asked about the PIN this is what I was told:

Unfortunately, there's a manual step between registration and the Hugo system and we won't have your information until the end of the week. As soon as we have it, you'll get an email with all your Hugo information.

There will still be plenty of time to nominate items for the Hugos--nominations don't close until March 10th.

Anonymous beerme January 31, 2015 8:54 PM  

How long does it take to get contacted? I signed up yesterday, but haven't received any email aside from the confirmed transaction. I tried the PIN lookup and it didn't work, maybe they were overloaded with sign-ups yesterday?
It took five days in my case. The e-mail also was spammed by google so check your spam folder if you use gmail.

Blogger automatthew January 31, 2015 10:10 PM  

"Some year we need to show up en masse at World Con."

Too bad the 2013 conference was in Texas, meaning we probably won't get another soon. Can you imagine the hysteria at an SF con if a band of Texas Ilk showed up, led by Stg58/Animal Mother, all open carrying?

Anonymous Shut up rabbit February 01, 2015 3:18 AM  

Can I just say I fucking hate the names of Scalzi's books?
Agent/ editor probably throws out a suggested title to start a 'brainstorm' session. He then immediately capitulates, rolls over and accepts whatever was proffered.

Anonymous malcolm February 01, 2015 1:23 PM  

Last year people complained that there were too many Hugo posts. I want to say I can't get enough, the more the better.

Please keep them coming, it is so much fun to watch the SJWs implode.

Blogger Eric February 01, 2015 2:34 PM  

So when people tell me that Hugos don’t matter, awards don’t matter, and promotion don’t matter, you can imagine the $13,000 face I make.

$13k? I know it's not nothing, but it's not a lot of money either. Won't even pay the rent for the time she likely spent writing the book. Not where I live, anyway.

Anonymous Serviced Apartments Guy March 04, 2015 9:44 AM  

Interesting post, I'll be coming back to see if the left wing rot continues!

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