Wednesday 15 April 2015

On the present Hugo mess and why I still want one.

The current unpleasant thing happening in the SF world - there's always something - is the hijacking of the Hugo award nominations slate by a group of vested interests with leanings to the extreme right. Neo-fascists isn't too strong a term. They're racist, homophobic and intolerant of anyone who doesn't subscribe to their ultra-conservative religious beliefs. I won't even begin to unpack the grisly complexities behind this, the Sad Puppies versus the Rabid Puppies, but if you're coming to this completely cold, here is as good a summary as any:

It's a vile, offensive stunt, cynically motivated, and one that does real damage to the reputation of the Hugo award. At the moment, within the constitution of the World Science Fiction Convention, there is only so much that can be done to limit the harm. Those who know the system better than me are trying to work out which is the best strategy for limiting the impact of the Puppy slate - whether it's best to attempt an honest ranking of the nominated pieces in each category, or simply vote "no award" in each slot. Unfortunately, the Puppies have more or less guaranteed to pull this stunt year after year unless their nominated stories pick up the awards. Presently it's not at all clear what can be done, while preserving the spirit of the Hugos.

I'll be honest - I've had a decidely mixed relationship with the award. As a young SF reader, I was drawn to books that had won the field's two big awards - the Hugo and the Nebula. They seemed like badges of merit that could be trusted. Of course I had no idea how these awards actually functioned. That only came later, once I'd entered the field as a writer and begun to understand something of the wider SF community and its mechanisms.

I always thought it would be great to win a Hugo or a Nebula. Technically, I've been a professional SF writer for twenty five years, although I'm not sure whether Interzone, where I made my first sale in 1989, would have been considered a qualifying market. Nonetheless, I got paid and soon began to try placing my stories and novels with other markets. There were times when I couldn't sell anything, and it still took a decade before I got a book deal, but at no point did I feel like the field was actively conspiring to prevent me getting ahead in my career. I just figured that I wasn't quite hitting the right marks. It never bothered me that I wasn't on the radar of the Hugo or Nebula awards. That, I hoped, would come later, if it came at all.

I did eventually get a Hugo nomination. That was in 2011, at the Reno Worldcon. It was for my story Troika, which I'd written three years earlier. I was stoked - absolutely over the moon.
As it would be my first Hugo ceremony as a contender, I made a real effort to smarten up. The evening was exciting. I remember waiting in the holding area before the ceremony proper, looking at the changing light over Reno as the sun went down. The sky was an intense lemon yellow, something I've only ever seen in the desert. I didn't really rate my chances of winning, but at the same time, I couldn't honestly dismiss them either. I was a bag of nerves as the novella category finally rolled around.

I didn't win. No biggie. I'd made it onto the ballot - that was all that mattered. Afterwards, I went to one of the parties running in one of the big hotel suites. The atmosphere was jolly and I enjoyed winding down from the tension of the ceremony. I hung out with the Locus crew. It was a relief that the whole thing was over, and my mind was turning to the long journey I had facing me the day after, and the early start that was necessitated.

I missed the 2012 Worldcon for some reason or other. In 2013 I made it to San Antonio. My wife was with me in town, and since she didn't have a membership, and rather than leave her on her own for the evening, I thought the best thing would be to skip the Hugos and go to see a film. As it was I fell soundly asleep in the cinema, so I'd probably have nodded off during the ceremony as well.

In 2014 I was again at the Worldcon, but I'd been involved in a starship seminar all afternoon (as you do) and once more couldn't make it to the ceremony. I went to the pub instead, catching up on the news as it filtered through via social media and the live television feed running in the pub.

I hadn't gained another nomination since Troika, and far from heralding a long and glorious imperial phase of hitting the Hugo ballots with ominous regularity, I'd actually done progressively worse in each successive year. My stories were not only failing to make the nominations, they were sliding ever further below the cutoff! I'd be lying if I said this didn't dampen my enthusiasm for the Hugos just a wee smidge. The truth is, lots of writers get one nomination in their careers. Be grateful for that, I suppose. Plenty of writers better than me have never had a nomination at all.

Enthusiasm dented, though, I didn't bother voting after 2011. I didn't feel sufficiently well informed about the state of the field to do so. My reading was falling ever further behind the curve, and besides - I felt that if I had horses in the race, or at least potential horses, it wasn't really my job to vote. I wouldn't vote for myself, but equally I didn't want to vote myself off the ballot by unwittingly nudging another piece ahead of my own.

That said, it never occurred to me that there might be some kind of institutional conspiracy going on to keep the likes of me off the ballot. And even if I had suspected that - well, screw it. Life's too short. Move on and worry about something else.

 SF is about tolerance, inclusiveness - the accepting of other viewpoints, up to a certain point. Or at least, it used to be. Most of us involved in the field, I think, still want it to be like that. Friendships are more important than ideologies. Art is more important than doctrine. The Puppies can't see that, though. A handful of middling talents haven't yet managed to get their works on the slate through orthodox means, so they've elected to game the system.

The odd thing is - or perhaps it isn't odd at all - is that the ongoing trouble with the Puppies only makes me feel more warmly disposed to the Hugos. I certainly should have voted. It would have taken a lot more of us to outweigh the block voting effect of the slate ballot, but that's no argument not to have tried. As I've mentioned earlier, I've been striving to read a lot more short fiction this year, and I already feel a lot better informed about the state of the field in 2015 than in recent years. And yes, while the Hugo award has been damaged - it's hard to see a way around that, irrespective of what happens later in the summer - I would still like to win one eventually. I hope the award can weather this storm, and continue on as it should be - a prized part of SF's collective heritage.


  1. Thanks for sharing this, Alistair. Gods know I've nominated your work in the past, and assuming you keep up your high level quality of your output, will certainly again.

  2. Don't agree with what the Puppies are doing (or what they are accused of doing) (I suspect that as is always the case with social media, we're being pointed at extreme stuff on both sides)

    Sort of agree that the Hugos have become the sort of lefty echo chamber that one expects to encounter at a university student paper. Something like 25% of people are committed lefties. Probably another 25% of people are committed conservatives. 50% of the rest of people are in the middle. Any award that sets up camp for the 25% on the edge alienates the 75% that aren't sympathetic to that point of view. You're definitely more a 50% author - you rarely speak about your politics and I know conservative and progressive readers that buy everything you write. There needs to be a lot more "politically moderate" SF like the stuff you write than the polemical stuff that's winning the awards.

    What I suspect will be the most damaging thing about SF's gradual move from the center to the left is that conservatives who would grow up with a love of science and who would be introduced to it through science fiction will reflexively reject science fiction (and science) in future because they will see it as left wing agitprop.

    It's amazing that a genre that tries to define itself as open to new ideas ends up mired in political groupthink.

    1. I don't think it's a given that the political leanings of SFF consumers (or producers) are evenly distributed, which most of the people analyzing this are assuming. I would actually expect the field to lean *away* from conservatism; after all, as you said, it's concerned with exploring new ideas instead of simply preserving the old. Star Trek is regularly hyped as the quintessential "good old SF" series, but it's blatantly liberal, and that's just the easiest example. Even "Saint Heinlein" wrote capable, independent women while exploring sexually and culturally progressive themes - both "Stranger in a Strange Land" and "I Will Fear No Evil" spring to mind.

      If that's true - if SFF does lean left - then why wouldn't one expect that to be reflected in its awards? Further, why shouldn't it be?

      There is a wide gulf between "these awards trend liberal" and "there is a liberal conspiracy directing these awards" - yet the Puppies assume the second is the only explanation of the first. Their blogs and supporters readily paint all who disagree as The SJW Enemy, as if this must be an Us and Them "with us or against us" brawl. The tragic thing is that in doing so, they make it true. A lot of the people coming out of the woodwork to oppose what the Puppies have done are the very "silent majority" that they claim to represent, saying "no, you DON'T speak for me."

      But then, that's the nature of echo chambers. If you only associate with people who share your views, it becomes easy to assume that your views are those of the majority. That's dangerous if you're striving for intellectual integrity, and I think that's precisely where the Puppies failed.

    2. One assumes that if SFF is/should be representative of / cater to the population as a whole as it is, one should probably assume that the politics of the audience broadly follow the politics of society.

      The argument that applies to diversity doesn't stop at race/gender/sexuality/belief - we all live in societies that have diversity of political opinion. Just as it isn't acceptable to exclude people for reasons of race/gender/sexuality/belief, it isn't acceptable (or particularly wise) to exclude those who have differing political opinion.

      People do tend to want to insulate themselves from ideas that they disagree with. Doesn't mean it is particularly healthy to do so (especially because groups that share a common set of values tend to become more extreme about those values (Group Polarization))

  3. Hi Narkor - I'm afraid the Puppies are perfectly capable of damning themselves in their own words - we don't have to speculate about their values and objectives. But I agree that there are always moderate voices that get squeezed out of these firestorms.

    I'm a committed leftie, though. My father in law was a Communist who took a bullet from fascists. I read the Guardian, support all manner of "leftish" causes. I welcome the opening up of SF to voices that have hitherto been marginalised, excluded or silenced. I don't agree that my writing is apolitical, either! I think my values are there in my fiction. All writing is political, whether we like it or not. The omission of politics from writing is itself a political act.

    On the other hand, I'm also a Baen author! Most of us don't fit neatly into boxes. And I can think of any number of writers on the left of the political spectrum who have never or only rarely received awards nominations - Iain M Banks, Ken Macleod, Paul McAuley, Justina Robson, Tricia Sullivan ...many others. The field is nowhere near as skewed to the left as the Puppies would have it.

  4. Thank you for writing a wonderful piece. Slightly off topic, but as an inspiring and unpublished writer, feeling rather despondent after a recent rejection for a story, it was nice to read you went a long time where you didn't get published. I assume it is very natural to feel like that, and I am sure you and any number of published writers, felt it, but you kept working on your craft. So again, thank you for reminding me that this is a long term learning curve.

    Back on topic! SF for me, is a wonderfully diverse genre, where writers can tap into an almost infinite number possibilities and ideas. Upon your own recommendation in this very blog and on Twitter, I am reading "Station Eleven", a book that has immersed me into a world born out of the completeness of the end of civilization as we know it, into one that although brutal, is also full of hope for a new beginning.

    Then there is another recent read of mine, "The Left Hand of Darkness", a book that, dare I say it, due to its overuse by a lot of readers and writers, has almost changed my thinking of the world as a whole. One particular moment in that story stands out. When the envoy Genly Ai is rescued from a concentration camp by Estraven, showing in that moment, compassion for someone different.

  5. Am saddened by all this. Respect the awards for giving me an idea of potential good reads. But all this campaigning can only hurt the spirit of the awards: to recognize the best in the field.

    The awards themselves are often frustrating. When "House of Suns" wasn't even nominated, that was ridiculous. When Connie Willis won twice in a row for "Blackout / All Clear," that was baffling. It was merely a very long, repetitive retread of the excellent "To Say Nothing of the Dog," which had the bonus of being hilarious. (Of course, a screwball comedy about WW2 is implausible.) And pardon me, but anything with vampires or zombies has reached that ubiquitous state of ignore-ability.

    Regardless, I think you get the point. How does ANY campaigning let the works speak for themselves??? It's supposed to be a fan award, not a political one.

    Waiting for my copy of "Poseidon's Wake." Reading some Mike Resnick in the meanwhile.

    Thanks, Steve

  6. SF evolves with society, although sometimes it is a little ahead and sometimes it is a little behind. Right now, it feels as if SF is part of the vanguard of social change and so this puppy thing is an understandable resistance to that change, by people who are evidently a little set in their ways.

    I fell in love with SF reading Clarke and Asimov, and consequently I hunt for stories with echoes of that era. But that's just my preference. What the puppy folks are doing reminds me of all the "religious freedom" laws being introduced by conservatives in the United States. These people need to stop trying to impose their worldviews upon others.

  7. Congratulations on piling in on the Salon / EW / etc. libel. It's disappointing to see several authors relying on completely discredited stories to form opinions. I can abide people who disagree with me, but not people who are too lazy to actually learn basic facts. Your first paragraph is just as much libel as anything I've ever seen. You should be ashamed of yourself.

    Then again, you should be ashamed of writing books so bleak I actually was voting for the Wolves to win. I wish I could say I won't read the works of someone so libelous, when I already stopped reading about 1/3 of the way through Redemption Ark.

    1. Do the words class with a capital K have any meaning for you?

    2. Did you read Century Rain, Pushing Ice, House of Suns? They're not bleak. Heck, Blue Remembered Earth is the most optimistic book I've read in more than a decade (topping even Existence by David Brin)

      And I've seen AR posts on Twitter, he's done his research. And we both know now that it was the RP ballot that is the one that dominated the nominations. And his words fully apply to VD and JCW.

  8. Thanks for writing this, Alastair. Already shared it on Facebook.

  9. I remember the day I got an email from you welcoming me to the club of the published writer. That was back in 2007 when I sold Tearing Down Tuesday to Interzone. I cherish that email and that moment.

    I won't argue with you, Al.

    But I have been sitting on the fence for the most part, not actively participating.

    This post helped me make a decision and I thank you for the gift of clarity in the matter.

    Steven Francis Murphy
    On the Outer Marches

  10. Mark: I'm surprised you made it a third of the way through. Go you.

    Steven: I'm not sure what to make of that, but I wish you well.

    1. Hey, I loved the big ideas. Enjoyed Pushing Ice, Revelation Space, about 3/4 of Chasm City, and even a good chunk of Galactic North. Just got too bleak for me.

      And way to go ignoring the libel. Stay strong ignoring basic facts.

  11. "SF is about tolerance, inclusiveness - the accepting of other viewpoints, up to a certain point."

    Like the Sad Puppies effort? Which is not the Rapid Puppies effort. Conflating the two just shows how lazy some people are.

    Annie Bellett withdrew herself from consideration. Read why, and then tell me that's the Sad Puppies fault.

  12. I'm well aware that the Sad Puppies are desperately trying to put as much clear blue water as possible between themselves and the Rabid Puppies. That won't make it happen, though.

  13. AI,

    Like I said: Lazy.

  14. There’s really no need for “sides”, political agendas or labels in any of this, and no place for it in a discussion about the best books published in a given year. Let's instead talk of good plotting, strong character, beautiful writing, sense of place, thrilling storytelling, memorable endings. I’m for that. But sides and labels? Nope.

  15. You've had your say, Andrew.

  16. Re: Libel accusation. You always get the apologists coming out of the woodwork on any topic.
    I think you hit the mark spot on Al. People who can't get a nod because their work is not of a high enough standard, hijacking what was once a prestigious award and ruining it for everyone else. It's shameful.
    I hope you win one eventually, in my opinion, it's already overdue!

  17. Just had a quick count in my scify bookshelves. (I must have real books). Anyway I count 14 of your books and the only one I haven't enjoyed was Pushing Ice. So thank you for all the great reading. Yourself, Gibson and Meiville are my favourites.

    However, to topic, I think you are very brave to comment on this and I'm glad you have. I hate read vox and no matter what the sacs are claiming now there was not a pubic hair of space between them in ideology only differing in strategy. The difference that is no difference.

    I don't know that the Hugo's can be redeemed. I think its encouraging that authors of your ability can flourish without one. However I suspect all who lay down with the rabies will be tainted for some time.

    1. "the only one I haven't enjoyed was Pushing Ice"

      Actually _Pushing Ice_ was one of my favourites (apart from the dog alien cameo).

      So perhaps no accounting for taste?

  18. Hi,

    I read and thoroughly enjoyed most of the revelation space books(Absolution Gap had a weak ending), loved House of Suns and look forward to reading of your work in the future.

    Topic begins here:

    Vox(Rabidpuppyman) is, undeniably, a racist. Correia and Torgersen are not. There has been a massive campaign to label the Sad Puppies movement as homophobic, mysoginist and racist without a shred of evidence, in fact, with much evidence to the contrary. Yet people seem willing to uncritically accept this distorted narrative without so much as a casual fact check.

    The guys are open about their intentions. Their words can be found on the internet for all to see. It should be easy to find evidence of racism if it exists. Condemning authors on the puppy slate simply for being nominated is a heinous injustice against not simply these persons but all of science fiction. Cynically voting No award because a bunch of sf-fans got together and voted in some authors they thought deserving of recognition is something no one with a love of the genre would consider.

    I hope your work will receive the recognition it deserves in the near future, but regardless, i remain a fan.


  19. I appreciate the tone of your response, R.

    The problem is that, as you say, the words of the Sad Puppies can indeed be found on the internet for all to see. But that's despite a frantic attempt by the same Sad Puppies to alter those same words.

    I do have sympathy with some of the authors who've ended up on the Hugo ballot as a result of being on one or other of the puppy slates. But they should have asked themselves: what were the odds that their stories got on those nomination slots out of merit, rather than block voting? The right thing to do, if there was even a whiff of block voting, would have been to decline the nomination ahead of the announcement. But as I said, I do have sympathy and I hope those authors who have withdrawn their works will go on to receive legitimate nominations in the future. I have even more sympathy with those authors like Ann Leckie who earned their nominations independently of the puppy slates.

    Again, thanks for the tone of your response.

  20. Hi Al. Long time, no see.

    Very nice piece. Yes, following the damn Puppygate is like seeing a particularly grisly train wreck: Horrible to look at, but you just can't help yourself. Meaning it's strangely entertaining and really depressing at the same time.

    And to add insult to injury, Castalia House, the mini-publisher so prominently featured on the Rabid Puppies slate, is actually Finland-based. I wasn't even aware of the fact prior to these puppy shenanigans.
    Interestingly, Markku Koponen, Castalia House's Finnish proprietor sent a short message to Finnish fandom mailing list saying, "As must be clear to most, Castalia House is ideologically opposed to the majority of practically all fannish groups in this country." I must have missed the memo that states every fangroup in Finland must have a certain "ideology" for their members to follow...

    But whoever those Castalia folks over here are, they certainly have managed stay pretty invisible. No presence in our cons, no communication of any sort, no nothing.
    But that is just fine as I want absolutely NOTHING to do with Vox Day and his ilk. And neither does anyone else over here; of that I'm fairly certain.

    Come to Finland again some day, Al. I'll buy you a beer.


  21. Thank you for this. You've been one of the authors I've pointed to on the Puppy blogs who damn well deserves more recognition but hasn't been making a fuss about not getting it. Thanks again.

  22. What the sad puppies don't realize is that in the golden age of science fiction, the majority of fans were left-leaning. Some were even card-carrying members of the Communist Party. Writers were highly political, and openly so. Most of the time the left and right got along, but at some point in the late 30s there was a huge split-- at least in American fandom... so this kind of thing is not new. My maternal grandfather was an active British fan then (in fact, one of the editors of the magazine that published Arthur C. Clark's first short story) and was friends with people in both factions. When he came to America, he left fandom because of the factionalism, as did my dad, who left fandom after his fourth term as president of LASFS because he, a centrist, couldn't stand the politics anymore. That was in 1950. Yes, 65 years ago. Now my husband, also a centrist who is very active in fandom, is talking about quitting. His life has been hell since the nominations were counted. Sad Puppies may get on their high horse and claim they're "taking back the genre" but that is a false claim. What they have done is legally cheated, and in the process, ruined the lives of a lot of nice people who volunteer a great deal of their time to make the community work.
    The Sad Puppies don't know history. They are repeating it with a vengeance. And we few who do know history have to stand by and watch.

  23. Always interesting to hear the views of 'fan politics' (for want of a better term) from authors you read, and your perceptions are certainly understandable.

    There are problems, to my mind, problems with the Hugos. I too had grown up being unaware as to how they worked but did recognise them as a badge of SF merit. However over the years (goddamit 'decades') I (and some other fan friends) found myself perceptually a little distanced from them. It was in part for this reason that Tony and I undertook Essential SF which necessitated checking all the Hugo, Locus, and major popular-vote award-winning works to, in effect, process the genre through a quasi fan-popularity algorithm. To cut a long story short, the bottom line is that these days I can usually bank on at least one or more Hugo-short-listed novels being what I consider (with my personal bias taste) as downright excellent. The next thing, is to look at the Hugo long-list. As for Hugo 'Best Novel' wins, well that is too variable; hence those Worldcon panel items such as 'Did we really vote for that?'

    Jonathan Ross conducted (in an unquantified way) an interesting experiment a few years ago when he was still presenting the BBC's Film programme.

    He showed two 30-second montages of film clips and asked the audience to choose which of the two montages was the one they recognised the films from which the clips came. Personally it was a no brainer: I recognised around two thirds or more clips from one group and less than a quarter from the other. And what was Wossy doing? Well, he explained that one group were clips of films that had won 'Best Film' Oscars while the other was of Best Film Oscar nominees' (not winners). The point was that regarding audience recognition the Oscar nominees had tended to better stand the test of time than the winners.

    My feeling is the same for the Hugo 'Best Novel'.

    Conversely, the Hugo short story categories are simply a bit of fun and no more than that. The number of new SF novels published by the Anglophone major and middling imprints are a few hundred; the number of short stories in major and middling imprints, magazines, and major online magazines must be thousands. Yet the number of people nominating short stories this year itself was a little over a thousand. Even assuming we all have a vaguely similar idea of 'SF achievement' (and we probably don't) and even assuming that all nominators read as much as a few hundred short stories a year, sampling theory alone would suggest a lack of likely statistical significance in being able to elucidate works that merit the moniker of 'SF achievement'. Indeed most years (this year being an exception), the short list seems to always feature stories from the likes of Asimov, SF&F and Analog, yet none from some less-recognised but still notable story venues. For example: I read Nature's 'Futures' stories each week (and they are free on-line with the best 4 of 51 published each year re-posted on the SF2 Concatenation) and some of these are invariably cracking, yet I have never seen a Nature's 'Future' short-listed for a Hugo (though I accept that I may perhaps have missed one over the years: I do not keep that close an eye on the Hugos).

    In short, Alastair, don't worry (not that you are) about not winning a Hugo.

    Just keep writing books. There are other measures of SF value: for instance, sales tell their own story.

    Regarding the Sad Puppies. Our SF2 Concatenation view is here if anyone is interested. (Though there is already a surfeit of comment elsewhere online, probably even more than enough for the most avid Hugo WSFS wonk.)

  24. I've never paid much attention to the Hugo and Nebula awards. I find that the winners are usually not the stories that I personally prefer. I imagine as a writer, one might be more interested in these awards.

    There is one award that I do pay some attention to, and that is the Prometheus Award. Most of the stories that win this award have been quite interesting (and entertaining to me).

    Vox Day (Theodore Beale) is a real piece of work and I'll leave it at that.

  25. Alistair, I do not know if one of your books deserves to be nominated in a given year. What I do know is that after I read my first Reynolds book, I went out and bought a whole bunch of them. I then started telling my friends, "You have to try this!". Not because you write a good read, but because your work is excellent. Your work belongs on the same shelf with the other greats. Maybe you will have to wait for a lifetime achievement award, as you are definitely a Hugo quality writer. Hopefully not. Then again, I didn't discover you until a few years ago, and I just found Peter F Hamilton a few months ago. I have been reading SF since the 70's. How did I miss your work for so long? What needs to happen is to make sure that readers know that your work exists, and that it is worthy of their attention. Terribly tough with so many books being published. It is great that so many get their work out there, but I do miss decades past when you couldn't fail to be aware of the great works. They were right there on the shelf in the book store, and not disguised by a couple hundred vampire and werewolf stories ;)

    Folks need to get over their political stress. The system does not work with people that agree. We NEED liberals and conservatives. My view is that we need 60% elected liberals and 40% elected conservatives, but the reverse should work. Neither works if it is about the other side being a bunch of stupid idiots. They are both necessary philosophies that require balance from the opposing force. The world did not advance through history by conservative action. Liberalism fails without a basis of core conservative economic values.

    The internet has allowed unwarranted focus to be applied to virtually everything. Less damage to the Hugos, and more focus on promoting great science fiction authors, would be appreciated.

    By David Grenfell

  26. Hi Alastair, you are together with Vernor Vinge my favourite Sci-Fi writer and I own all your novels and most collected stories, but this is just a really bad and uninformed about the Hugo situation. Pure guilt by association and name calling.

    Are you seriously saying about Correira and Torgersen "Neo-fascists isn't too strong a term. They're racist, homophobic and intolerant of anyone who doesn't subscribe to their ultra-conservative religious beliefs."? I really hope I'm missunderstanding you.

    Best Regards

  27. Hi Calle. I've been following the Sad Puppy business for as long as anyone in the field, so I'm well aware of the participants and the associated complexities. Here are the demonstrable facts. The Rapid Puppy slate was more successful than the Sad Puppy slate in getting candidates onto the nominations list. Correia and Torgersen are now eager to draw a clear and unambiguous line between their own bungled attempts to influence the ballet and the more effective efforts of Beale (Vox Day), as if the two slates were never ideologically connected. Beale is a documented racist, expelled from the SFWA for exactly that reason, and his publishing house hosts the homophobic John C Wright. Unfortunately for Correia and Torgersen, the links between themselves and Beale are all too easily proven, despite concerted efforts being taken to draw a line, alter blog entries and so on. Whether or not Correia and Torgersen are as bad as VD and JCW is largely besides the point; my sense is that they are foolish ego-maniacs with a towering sense of entitlement, and who are now determined to dig in as deeply as possible. Look at this link to a post from Torgersen, now (typically) deleted:

    Whatever the reality, they were certainly naive enough to pal up with VD before the brand became too toxic. So my remarks stand: the Hugo ballot has been largely dominated by VD's slate, rather than the SP one, but the idea that Correia and Torgersen didn't play their willing part in the whole sorry mess is laughable.

    I'm sorry if this isn't what you were hoping to hear, but I think my position was clear enough in the original post. Thank you, nonetheless, for the courtesy of your response.

    1. Hi Alastair, and thanks for taking the time to reply. Some comments.
      1. I don't see the significance in Vox Day's RP being more successful that B&C's SP. Both puppy slates have the goal change the works nominated for the Hugos, but you can't smear Vox Day's racism and other despicable views on B&C because of that. I want to change society, a nazi wants to change society, doesn't mean I am a nazi.

      2. Read the deleted post and not Torgersens finest moment, sounds pretty full of himself and agressive. Get the impression he wasn't sober to be honest. Still, I see nothing that justifies the name calling in the beginning of the post.

      I found out about the whole thing from GRRMs blog and been following the exchanges between him and them, and both seems like pretty reasonable people from their blogs. I don't know if B&C have any ground for their claim that Hugos have become an echo chamber where only left of center people are accepted, and I know neither of them so cannot speak for their views. But sentiments like the one in your blog post make me suspect that they have.

      Anyways, thanks again for replying and looking forward to Poseidon's Wake!

      Best Regards,

  28. Hi Calle. You're taking a very reasonable and constructive tone here - I wish I had half your patience.

    My point about the RP slate being the more successful one wasn't very well expressed, but I meant to argue that since it is the RP slate that has managed to skew the most nominations, and since Beale is behind the RP slate, and since Beale is as you say despicable in his views, it is entirely right to suggest that the ballot had been hijacked by an ultra-right neofascist movement. Note that I am talking about the instigators of the slate, not the nominated texts, of which I couldn't care less. But Torgersen and Correia have their part to play in all this. Perhaps they aren't as entirely repellent in their views and objectives as Beale - it would be some achievement to match Beale's vileness on a range of topics - but Beale *was* involved in the drawing up of the SP slate, as Naomi Kritzer has documented here:

    If Torgersen and Correia don't want to be associated with the views of Beale, they'd have been wise not to sign up to the same little club.

    Ultimately though, posting links to different blogs and analyses isn't likely to change the opinions of anyone on either side of this, and although it sounds defeatist, I think we're all going to get now is a steady deepening of the lines of division.

    But this whole thing about Hugos being a left-of-centre echo chamber ... I'm not really buying that. Most SF readers and professionals that I've ever met - and I've met a lot, over twenty five years of involvement - really couldn't give a cuss about the politics and religious beliefs of other writers provided they're not on the lunatic extreme of *either* the left or the right. I'm a left-leaning atheist who has close friends who are deeply religious, and while we've accepted that we'll never see eye to eye on certain things, it doesn't get in the way of a friendship. Similarly, I've written a number of introductions for the Republican, Catholic Gene Wolfe - and I'm doing another right now. Why? Because Wolfe is simply one of the greatest writers our field has ever produced. I've also stated my enthusiasm for the openly Christian multiple Hugo winner Connie Willis - another writer we're very lucky to have. As for Mormons - well, one of my favorite contemporary rock acts is the openly Mormon Low. Oh, and the Killers are good as well - isn't he a Mormon? And while I'm at it, detesting the personal beliefs and attitudes of HP Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe and others is no drawback to my being a great admirer of their work.

    I think it's a canard, this whole left-wing conspiracy thing. It never existed, and it certainly never skewed the Hugos.

    1. Hi Alastair,
      Thanks for the link to the Naomi Kritzer post, it seems I was wrong and Torgersen and Correia are much closer involved with Vox Day than I thought. However I don't agree that T&C deserves to be called "racist, homophobic and intolerant", it is still guilt by association, even if the association was stronger than I initially thought. I consider myself a libertarian, but have good friends who are supporting Sweden Democrats (anti-immigration party) and others who call themselves communists. You can always find some common ground even with people whose worldview you don't share at all, and I would be very lonely otherwise, libertarians in Sweden are rare. :)

      I cannot comment on Worldcon being an left-of-centre echo chamber and take your word for that it isn't. But the thing with echo chambers are that you don't realise you are in one.

      This might be off-topic but when Ender's Game went to the cinemas in Sweden there was a strong movement to boycott it because of Orson Scott Card being outspoken against gay marriage. So basically having an opinion that almost everyone shared 25 years ago is now worthy of boycott. I find the tolerant center/left often being very intolerant of opinions not within a very narrow width of acceptable views. I'm very happy the left has won the culture war and homosexuality is now widely accepted and the world is a better freer place because of it, but I wish it could be a more graceful winner. Procecuting businesses that do not want to cater to gay weddings will not win over anyone for marriage equality, but will create a backlash.

      I have a friend who is married to a Thai woman, and they meet a lot of prejudice and despise, not from right-wing nuts against mixed racial relationships, but from center/left people who thinks she is a mail order bride, probably he is probably abusing her etc.

      All in all my point is I think it's easy to miss bad behaviour in your own group while pointing the finger and demonize people in the other one. Or something, I've gotten very off-topic. Thanks again for your replies.

      Best Regards,

    2. Hi Al,

      The last paragraph you wrote relating to Gene Wolfe etc., is one of the sanest I have read on this whole debacle (and I've read a lot!). Thank you.

  29. "... a group of vested interests with leanings to the extreme right. Neo-fascists isn't too strong a term. They're racist, homophobic and intolerant of anyone who doesn't subscribe to their ultra-conservative religious beliefs."

    No matter how many times you repeat this lie, it won't be true. You are dealing with a split on the left, of rationalist libertarians vs moralist authoritarians.

    I for one have no issue with people of any ethnicity, sexuality, gender... as long as they don't expect to receive special treatment for them. That includes endless headlines about how oppressed women are, when they're the most privileged, most well off group around.

  30. "endless headlines about how oppressed women are, when they're the most privileged, most well off group around."

    - glad you cleared that up for us, Steve.

  31. Alistair,

    you've probably already seen this, but on the off-chance you haven't, it provides a cogent take on the whole sorry mess.

    I've disliked Beale since first encountering him on various atheist forums (where he was typically arguing the creationist standpoint), but this full-on racist, homophobic misogynistic stance has acted to make him even more loathsome. Which is an achievement in of itself.

    Looking forward to the new books enormously


  32. Wow, another pathetic hit piece. Your lot love getting outraged over lost elections, don't you?

    Getting the word out that the hugos are awarded on the whims of a few lifestylers was the best part of this business. A lot of people assumed there was some kind of proper panel of judges.


    I am very late to this party but as of 2016 Vox Day Lord of Right wing Evil has nominated
    Alaystair Reynolds’ Slow Bullets.

    So either Vox thinks Mr. Reynolds work help perpetuate his homophobic fascist agenda or maybe something else is going on here?

    Just saying.


    BTW loved Galactic North BTW.