A second look at the 2015 Hugo Awards

Since setting out my initial thoughts on this years’ Hugo Awards this morning, I’ve had the opportunity to read many other responses, reactions and opinions.  With very few exceptions, they’ve been profoundly troubling to me – on both sides of the fence.

Let me state bluntly my point of departure for this discussion.  Most of my readers know I’m a man of faith and a retired pastor.  It therefore probably won’t shock you to learn that my foundation is the Golden Rule.  In the Christian faith this is found in Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31, and can be paraphrased in the time-honored expression “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.  In the context of this debate, if I look for courtesy and reasoned discourse in others, I need to conduct myself accordingly – otherwise my expectations are invalid.  I know many on both sides of this debate will scoff at that and call it wishful thinking (or something less polite).  That’s their privilege.  I’ll adhere to the standards by which I try to live (not always successfully, I fear).

My overwhelming emotion in this whole mess is sadness.  I’m watching people tear apart one of the great institutions of science fiction, purely because they can’t bring themselves to agree that every fan of the genre has a place within its tent.  It’s not one side doing it – it’s both.  The SJW’s, who consider themselves ‘true’ Fandom, insist that SF/F is their genre and they alone get to decide who and what belongs to it.  Those of a more conservative and/or orthodox bent disagree, and say that political correctness should not be the standard against which works of imagination and literature should be judged – but they can be very disparaging of the other side in how they go about that.  (Perhaps that’s not surprising.  Mutual tolerance and respect have been largely conspicuous by their absence in this field for many years.)

Last night the SJW’s triumphed – for now – and deliberately shut out the ‘other side’, not on the basis of literary merit, but because they regarded it as ‘Wrongthink’ and unworthy of a hearing.  My friend Larry Correia summed it up very well.

“I said the Hugos were dominated by cliques that cared more about an author’s identity and politics than the quality of their work,” Sad Puppies founder Larry Correia told Breitbart. “Tonight they proved me right.”

Brad Torgerson pointed out:

Toni Weisskopf pulled over 1,200 first-place ballots. That’s amazing. Consider that Lou Anders got 207 first-place ballots in 2011. So, Toni Weisskopf rocked the professional long-form category. Unfortunately, the Trufans and their politically-aligned allies decided that destroying the village was necessary to save the village. It was more important for the Trufans that people lose, and get nothing, than that the “wrong” people win. If that’s worth gloating over — you who gloat — look into yourselves and see the black, shriveled, grinchy hearts that beat.

That’s sickening – and he’s absolutely right, IMHO.  The invitation from the MC to cheer, but not boo, the ‘No Award’ results says it all.  The bias evident in the entire presentation was beyond caricature.  The perspective of these self-described ‘true Fans’ is perhaps best summed up by this comment from a reader at File770.com.

… the Puppy campaigns are just another tendril of a shoggoth we’ve seen many times over. It surfaced in GamerGate and the SFWA Bulletin flap, it rampages across Fox News, and its glazed eyes peer back at us from the MRA, PUA, KKK, and Tea Party movements. It howls with the screech of every toddler ever forced to share his toys and speaks with the soft words of every sexual predator who has slipped something into a drink, of every employer who has seen an employee’s skirt as reason enough to deny them a promotion, and of every abuser who’s shed crocodile tears while promising never, ever to do it again… right before picking up another couple of six-packs. Their arguments are flimsy because they only exist as recognition signals and cheap disguises. The reality lies underneath, in their privileged sense of entitlement: This belongs to me, and you can’t have it because you’re not one of us.

I, for one, am very glad to see fandom standing fast upon this bridge, facing the Balrog with those immortal words that nobody here needs me to repeat.

On the other hand, it’s both a Biblical phrase and a readily observable truism that “those who sow the wind will reap the whirlwind”.  The Puppy campaigns now know beyond any doubt that the other side will ignore the rules and expressed expectations of their own awards, disregard the actual individuals and/or works nominated for awards, and vote against them solely on the basis of ideology rather than merit.  The SJW’s need not be surprised if the same tactic is now employed against them to an ever-increasing extent . . . and it will be, in future Hugo campaigns.  There’s no doubt about that at all.  As Vox Day pointed out:

No doubt George Martin, John Scalzi, David Gerrold, The Guardian, and the rest of the SJWs will try to portray this as a resounding defeat for us, but keep this in mind: the side that resorts to a scorched earth strategy is the one that is losing and in retreat. All they have accomplished is to convert many Sad Puppies into Rabid Puppies.

They have talked about sending us a message, and we have heard it. I don’t know about you, but the message I heard was “bring more Puppies.”

I’ll give the penultimate word to my friend Sarah Hoyt.

I have my disagreements with Beale [Vox Day], as in most of the things we think are diametrical opposites and I often disagree with everything he writes, including ‘the’ and ‘a’.

Until today I viewed him as a mirror of the SJW posturing.  I retract that and I give him full measure of applause.  Yes, his views are still repulsive and he still makes my skin crawl as often as the Marxists do, but you know what?  At least he has a brain and uses it.  Those of you celebrating might want to take a deep breath and wonder — for just a minute — if you did anything more than what Theodore Beale wanted.  Because from where I’m sitting, the man that set out to destroy the field and prove that everyone calling themselves its leadership were mannerless and brainless children not only won last night, he won walking away. He won without DOING anything.  He won by convincing yourselves to hit yourselves repeatedly with the obvious hammers of partisanship, lack of care for quality and INTEREST in the health of the field.  And before you died, you gloated you had won.  The mind boggles.

Well done, Vox Day.  My laughter is tinged with tears because I don’t know if the field I loved will ever recover from stupidity displayed in such an open manner. I think today I prove the Valentine Michael Smith adage that sometimes you laugh because it hurts too much to cry.

. . .

So while I am not upset at the results (except insofar as it proves a large number of my field is running the Marxist malware to such an extent that it will vote a slate to avoid an imaginary slate) I am upset at the display of infantility or senility or perhaps roboticity in my field yesterday (Though who would program robots that way?)  No one watching that live stream — and there was a lot of it captured and it will be replayed — can imagine that those who proclaim themselves the “intellectuals” of our field have an IQ above room temperature.  And certainly no one can imagine they have an emotional maturity above that of a toddler displaying to one and all the magnificence of the turd just deposited in the middle of the floor.

I would not have been so blunt in expressing my opinion . . . but I can’t disagree with her.

I believe that writing to entertain my readers is more important than trying to indoctrinate them with my ideology.  I’ll try to remain true to that in my books, and in my interactions with others.  However, that’s going to be more and more difficult for all of us in the science fiction and fantasy field.  We’re going to be inundated with shouts and screams from both sides:  “You’re either with us, or against us!“, and all that sort of partisan pressure.  The challenge for all thinking persons, whatever their ideology or way of life, is going to be to keep their sanity and objectivity in the midst of the chaos.



  1. I've posted this over at Sarah's blog in response to her article, and I'll post it here as well: Remember the funeral for Senator Paul Wellstone, and how the SJWs turned it into an orgy of hate?

    Well, last night they just threw a Wellstone Funeral for the Hugo Awards.

    Stick a fork in the Hugos; they're done.

    –Wes S.

  2. O.o

    That file 770 comment is 'special' after the number of different ways we got accused of being "not real fans" and the internal self-contradictions it contains. Never mind the view of their opponents.

  3. Sad to see gifted writers like John Scalzi and George Martin come down so firmly on the wrong side.

    I will still read their books, but my opinion of their character has changed.

  4. While I appreciate your point of view and your sentiment here, I think the thing you are missing is that Vox initiated Rabid Puppies this year after well over a decade of online attacks from Scalzi, the Nielsen-Haydens, and Jemisin among others – and then the very specific provocation of being called out last year for trying to game the awards, when he in fact had nothing at all to do with Sad Puppies 2. Rabid Puppies 2015 was really just a proof-of-concept. This is what it looks like when he actually does exert himself (minimally) to affect the outcome.

    I suspect that rather than the "turn the other cheek" yardstick, he's using the "throw the moneylenders out of the temple" rubric as a guide. Ten years of turning the other cheek has served to demonstrate only that the progressive left, along with religion, has left all standards of decency, morality, and gentlemanly behavior behind them, not to mention the capability of logical thought and discussion concerning any of their pet social topics. If they are going to be fought, somebody is going to have to get dirty, because playing by rules when your opponents do not leads only to defeat; and this defeat is the downfall of Western civilization. So it seems that maybe that the game theory inversion of the Golden Rule is appropriate here: Start off nice. After that, do unto others how they've done unto you, until they learn what it means to be civilized.

  5. I agree your hope for civilized debate falls into the category of wishful thinking, Peter. But that in no way makes the need for you to follow the golden rule any less. If anything it makes it more important. I think particularly of Romans: 'do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.'

  6. Anonymous @comment #3: Please read more. While Scalzi's early work was somewhat catchy in an "inoffensive pop music" kind of way, his sole prose style of High Modern Snark is mind-numbingly banal after the third or fourth book. Mentioning him in the same sentence with Martin like that puts me in mind of a Facebook meme that went around some time ago, that went like this:

    "Someday, when I'm awfully low, when the world is cold,
    I will feel a glow just thinking of you,
    and the way you look tonight"
    –Frank Sinatra

    "Ooh, baby baby, ooh, ooh baby baby."
    –Justin Bieber

  7. Leaving this Anon for a change.

    I watched the awards last night.
    This year, I will vote -exactly- like Vox Day tells me to. I'm not even going to bother to read anything (just like the SJW's did not). The gloves are off, it is time to teach them a lesson about manners. Destroying the Hugo sounds like a good place to start to me.

  8. This could be understood as a rant. I would not know, as English is about my third language.

    Yes, people are dying all over the world. Are you aware of some of the ultimate reasons?

    For instance, Jimmy Carter allowing the Shah regime to fall. Because that regime displeased the SJWs of the day.

    For instance, Ted Kennedy leading the Nay vote to renew the financing of the Republic of South Vietnam. South Vietnam displeased the SJWs of the day.

    For instance, decolonization of Africa. And you could guess why Africa was decolonized.

    For instance, there is the flood of refugees driven to Europe by the results of the Arab Spring. Arab Spring that did please very much the SJWs of our day.

    For instance, persecuting, slavering, mass rape, mass killing, etc. of not Muslim Iraquis. I think the nearest reason is the bad planned drawdown of Western forces in Iraq. Drawdown that pleased very much the SJWs of our time.

    I could be wrong, but it seems to me that many people in the world will be happier were the SJWs not gotten their way.

    Are some literary prices small fry? Sure, but not in the battlefield of ideas. And, ultimately, ideas move the world.

  9. If everyone followed the Golden Rule, the world would be a much better place.

    As noted above, the puppies (both sad and rabid) were responding, and the rabids even showed quite a bit of forbearance this year in supporting the sads' efforts. Unfortunately, it didn't work out as hoped, which was both expected and predicted. But at least we gave it a try.

    Ghandi tactics work against the British, but not Cossacks.
    So one must ask – do SJWs more closely resemble British, or Cossacks?

    In WWI, did the Germans stop using mustard gas because the British and French maintained the higher moral ground in refusing to do the same? No, the Germans stopped because the British and French said essentially, "Ok, if that's how you want things…" and started using the same weapons and tactics back against the Germans, but even more effectively.

    Essentially, tit for tat, with simple forgiveness – treat others as you wish to be treated… until they have shown by their actions how they wish to be treated in return, and then act accordingly. When they reform and start acting civilized, forgive and respond in kind. But if they start acting uncivilized again, escalated tit for tat.

    A failure to respond in kind, especially when the other side has shown repeatedly that they will not learn from the better example, is not the higher moral ground. It simply means one is displaying weakness and will continue to lose nobly.

  10. Thanks for your enlightening and insightful articles regarding the recent
    Hugo awards debacles. At this time, my mind is drawn to the wisdom
    contained in one of my favorite poems: If, by Rudyard Kipling.

    May we be more wise and honorable than our attackers, and no less bold and
    courageous than those brave young Americans (and Briton) who took down the
    gunman on the train from Amsterdam to Paris last Friday.

  11. Posting to clarify Toni walking out


    To clarify, I did not walk out of the ceremony, but of the reception before it in honor of the nominees, at which they were presented, gratis, an
    asterisk wooden coaster. At that point I didn't feel I could continue to be part of the proceedings. I did not walk out in anger, but in sadness,
    went to my party and had a perfectly pleasant evening conversing with old friends and new until 4am.


  12. Yeah, Martin has a more highly developed work ethic and devotion to his craft than Scalzi, that's for sure.

  13. I would also note that Tor chief editor Nielsen-Hayden yelled at Mr. Wright's wife (an author under contract with Tor) and walked off when she tried to make peace between Puppies and Puppy-kickers. Luckily for TNH, Mr. Wright wasn't around and did not witness the exchange.

  14. I wish the SJWs would make up their minds: are they brave rebels fighting the entrenched racist/sexist/chauvinist establishment in SF, or are they brave defenders of fannish tradition fighting the invading Puppies. I get confused sometimes. It's almost like they're making shit up or something.

  15. The sad puppies proved their point, and it is time to walk away from the Hugos. It has reached the point where the only way to win is not to play.
    There's an effort to mobilize SP-IV, the embiggening – my take is it would be more productive and more fun to invest the energy in potemkin village misinformation or a Trojan horse. Act like we're mobilizing hordes and then not show up. Making fun of the SJWs is more effective than just doing more on their terms. Karma is a bitch.

  16. It's hard to decide if it's worth the effort to push SP-IV, move to a different award (and wait for O'Sullivan's law to start rearing its ugly head), or shrug and move on about my life. It's not like the Hugos really do anything for sales at this point. And meanwhile, there's still books to read, paths to walk, flowers to smell, and – above all – work to be done.

    But I'm hoping that the one thing we (and I count myself among the puppy-supporters) don't lose along the way is our sense of humor. SF should create a sense of wonder, and I'd like there to be some fun in it. Rollicking adventure, thrilling escapes, evil villains and heroes I feel good in rooting for. It would be a shame if, in the pursuit of that goal – recognition of that SF that inspires people and picks them up – we became humorless scolds, intent on getting our own back, or in, or whatever.

  17. I've not been to a Dragon Con. But from what I've seen it seems a much larger and more inclusive than Worldcon. DO they have Awards? I would rather not send money to and SJW con again.

  18. given that everyone who paid to vote this year has the right to nominate next year, it seems silly to not use it.

  19. Sigh. I'm torn. I think I'm still riding the enormous amount of *ed off that this debacle has given off.

    My first reaction was to join the hordes of Vox, but that's not me. Part of me wants to get in there and start swinging. But since I never believed in a fair fight, only one you win then I still end up with the hordes.

    I support what SP-IV wants to do, but part of me just wants to walk away. It's just not fun.

    Perhaps I just need to take all of this and lay it at the feet of the Lord of Battles(Sabaoth).

  20. "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you."

    Were I to become so prideful as to spit in the faces of accomplished members of my field to their faces, heaping defamation and abuse on their heads, and lying to others to egg them on to the same behavior, I would hope that someone would tell the truth with enough sharpness and clarity to bring me to my senses.

    Sometimes, humbling other people IS the greatest kindness you can render, even if it takes rough means.

    Fodder for thought.

  21. You can not make peace with an opponent whose sole goal is the utter destruction of your people and replacement by theirs. Just as there can be no compromise between wholesome food and poison, there can be no compromise with the barbarians masquerading as, as LTC(R) Kratman puts it, 'The International Society of the Ever so Caring and Sensitive.'

  22. I believe that the best summary comes from Matthew M. Foster: "The Hugo Results—Don’t Be A Dick". The notion that there is a cabal of "social justice warriors" conspiring to keep works off the Hugo ballot is incorrect. The notion that there was an organized movement to no-award the bad nominees is incorrect. I take myself as an example. Although I've been to Worldcons, I had never before voted for Hugos, and didn't really pay attention until the nominees were announced. (I don't generally read short fiction, so I don't have a basis for picking many nominees.) Once word started getting around about what had happened, I made sure to join Sasquan as a supporting member so that I could vote against the slate nominees. No one had to contact me, or coordinate with me to do this. My revulsion at the nominees and the campaign behind them was more than enough.

    If you don't believe the "right kind" of fiction is being nominated, there are non-dickish ways of going about fixing things. One is to find a particularly good work of the right kind and spread awareness of it. Another is to have a separate award just for fiction of that kind. For example, the Prometheus award is given out for best libertarian-themed novel, with the ceremony taking place at Worldcon. You could work with the LFS to extend that award to other categories. A third way is to encourage like-minded people who enjoy the genre to vote.

    But if you insist on having repulsive spokesmen self-deal and create slates and nominate five works by a single noted and proud homophobe, when the nominated works are simply bad, when their nominee for best editor has written a screed that could be their manifesto, it takes a particularly myopic point of view to be surprised that people will rise up and say "not on our watch."

  23. @Hyman, you may not have been part of the organized no-award group, but to deny that there was such organization (including no-award.net) is, at best, sticking your head in the sand.

    > If you don't believe the "right kind" of fiction is being nominated, there are non-dickish ways of going about fixing things. One is to find a particularly good work of the right kind and spread awareness of it.

    how do you do this in a way that doesn't allow your opponents to claim you are demanding a slate vote?

    By the way, why is Brad so repulsive

  24. Hyman, for years prior the the Puppies, the left leaning portion of the SF fandom kept saying "If you don't like what is being nominated/winning, nominate stuff yourself and get others to do so as well." They just didn't think it would actually happen.

    Doing EXACTLY what you were asked to do isn't really a dickish thing to do.

  25. Hyman – you are what is known as a "useful idiot." Someone that does the dirty work of another without even knowing it, and often with the best of intentions and a clear conscience. The CHORFs have been behaving as dicks for years. You didn't vote against them all that time. Why? Because you didn't know of it. All Vox did was do the same in nominations, only better and out in the open.

    I was a nominee, I was at Sasquan. Front row, square before the podium. I was at the pre-award reception and post "award" loser's party. We were insulted, to our faces. The crowd laugh and jeered the exclusion of us "wrong" people being shut out. It was petty and infantile. Emotional. I was unfailingly polite, but saw people's body language alter visibly and instantly when I said I was a puppy nominee (if they knew anything about it at all).

    All a truce or being polite will do is give them time to regroup, harass you, and marshal forces. Time to test the media-waters with different narratives. No, compromise and playing it straight has been tried. And it got a lot of good people no-awarded.

    Me? I fully expected to lose, being with Castalia House. But I feel bad for the other nominees – all that I met seemed like very nice people – that were so unfairly shut out in your effort to hurl hate and spite at Vox, a man that had done you no harm.

  26. The HUGOs have been irrelevant to me since the 1980s.

    First, the different editors wanted the bedroom door opened. Then they had the Gay and Lesbian doors opened too. I read Science Fiction as a young man to escape the hormones and internal conflicts of puberty. Science Fiction used to be hopeful and optimistic. I learned history by looking up the actual events used as the basis for the plot of some truly great works of fiction.

    There are many books that I have not finished;not because the protagonist was lgptxyzzmnop but because the book was poorly written, poorly edited, the characters were unlikeable and the story was simply not presented well. One book series started well and then twisted into loathsome child rape and prostitution.

    It was a pleasant surprise to find Bujold,Correia and some other authors even being published and available in B&N. I have been disappointed by HUGO winners for 35 years. It is unlikely I will read any winner (on purpose) from experiences in the past.

  27. "The SJW's, who consider themselves 'true' Fandom, insist that SF/F is their genre and they alone get to decide who and what belongs to it. Those of a more conservative and/or orthodox bent disagree, and say that political correctness should not be the standard against which works of imagination and literature should be judged – but they can be very disparaging of the other side in how they go about that. "

    You are straining to make a moral equivalence between those who say work should be judged on merit, without regard to the identity politics of the writer, fairly, versus those who say work should be judged on identity politics without regard to merit, unfairly.

    The difference is that something like the Prometheus Award is a partisan award that advertises itself as promoting a particular political viewpoint through fiction; whereas the Hugo advertises itself for being on the basis of merit.

    Therefore, no matter how you slice, or what time of 'plague on both their houses' rigmarole you'd like to play here, one is lying, and one side is not.

    Did you hear a peep from me, or from any Puppy, objecting to the inclusion of leftwing leaning books on the shortlist of the Dragons? No? Think about why not.

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