Talk with me about being a fan of science fiction and fantasy

2014 Hugo for best noveletteFor my regular readers, I’m about to talk about the controversy around the Hugo awards, and I’d like you to keep reading even if this is something that you normally aren’t involved in. (If you want backstory, here’s a really quick recap at Strange Horizons (just the second paragraph), or for more details here is a summary at 109 and one at The Slate.)

I’m going to start by defining some terms, because I suspect that this blog post will also get some traffic beyond my usual readers. These are not all dictionary definitions, but how I am using them in this post. Since many of the terms have mutable meanings, I thought it would help if you know what I mean.

Definition of Terms (You can tell that I was on the debate team in high school, yes?)

  • Fandom – The community of fans who regularly attend fan run conventions.
  • fans – Anybody who enjoys a particular thing with great passion, be that SFF, anime, or the Cubs.
  • SFF community – fans, fandom, writers, editors, and anyone who is connected with science fiction and fantasy in any media.
  • Sad Puppies – A group of fans, inspired by Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen, who feel that conservative writers are excluded from fandom.
  • diversity – The inclusion of the full range of humanity in fiction.
  • supporting membership to WorldCon – This is $40 and entitles you to vote on the Hugo awards, receive the voter packet, but doesn’t cover attendance.

Watching the debate about the Hugo awards, I’ve noticed that both sides are saying that the wrong fans are making decisions. To this I cry bullshit. I suspect that the majority of fans in the SFF community have experienced some form of shunning or shaming from people outside the community who look down on SFF as juvenile. That climate is changing, but for many of us, that was a reality.

Are we really going to do that to each other now?

The next thing I’ve become aware of — and I want to thank everyone who has already come by to share their experience — is that people who identify as Sad Puppies are frequently coming from outside of fandom, while being firmly part of the SFF community. This means that they haven’t been part of the conversations that fandom has been having within itself.

I think it becomes easy for fandom to think that it represents all of the SFF community because it’s a pretty diverse group. It doesn’t. The reason that this is important to remember is that when we are having conversations about diversity in SFF, we’ve begun using short hand. We’ve got a whole bunch of folks who are taking part in fandom for the first time, and we are not inviting them into the conversation AND we’re being angry because they don’t know all of the back story. I know that when I first joined the conversation about diversity in fiction, that I tripped over a lot of assumptions simply because I’d never been asked to examine them before. I didn’t even know that these assumptions of mine were there. If not for very patient friends, I would probably have run from the anger (justifiable anger) and not become part of fandom.

Again, are we really going to do that?

Now — not everyone has the time and energy to dedicate to educating people. I am fully aware of that. I’m not asking that all of fandom goes on a mission of education. But I am asking that those of you who do have the energy to take some time to invite people to ask you questions.

And finally… Vox Day. I have seen a number of people referring to his post in which he has declared war on the Hugo awards. Specifically, he has said that in 2016 he’ll rally his fans to make sure that No Award wins every category. “We are the reavers and the renegades and the revolutionaries, and we don’t give a quantum of a damn about pieces of plastic or the insider approval they represent.”

Which means that in 2016 no Hugos would be awarded.

To which I say… why is anyone afraid that this will happen?

My dear fandom, people from the larger SFF community, fans of my work, fans of Larry Correia’s work… there are more of us.

So this is my call to action for all of you — Become more inclusive. Invite your friends and family to participate. Buy a supporting membership for someone who can’t afford it. Welcome people who like different work than you do. Ask them to recommend a book. Read it. Recommend something to them. Talk about why you like it.

But please, please let’s stop trying to make fandom a special little enclave. It has always been the place where people could come, regardless of what they were fans of, and be welcome. It’s where we can wear Regency attire next to a Transformers cosplay. This isn’t to say that we should tolerate bad behavior, but liking something different isn’t bad behaviour.

And to my readers — If you can afford it, I encourage you to buy a membership to WorldCon and become part of fandom. If you cannot afford it…  I will buy a supporting membership to WorldCon for ten people, chosen at random, who cannot afford it. I am in no way constraining how that member nominates or votes. All I ask is that you read the nominations and join the conversation.

FURTHER EDITED TO ADD: One More of the nominees (and some other fans) have reached out to me and asked if they can match my pledge. They want to do it anonymously to avoid swaying anyone’s vote. In addition, Ellen Klages has also donated ten memberships* SO that means there are TWENTY THIRTY  FORTY-FIVE FIFTY-FIVE SIXTY-FIVE SEVENTY-FIVE EIGHTY-ONE ONE HUNDRED supporting memberships available. I encourage others to reach out to your own communities as well.

(This form is for requesting a supporting membership. The comment form is allllll the way at the bottom of the page.)

Application closed at midnight central on April 17th.

For everyone else, I’m going to keep this thread open to answer questions and try to facilitate conversation. Anything that I think is rude, goes into the trash. And my definition of rude? Come on… If you need that to be defined, then just walk away from the keyboard. The key is be nice. Don’t be awful. Treat others with respect.

Any questions? (Oo! And recommend your favorite bit of SFF)

Edited to add:

FURTHER EDITED TO ADD: After a lot of thought, my plan is to decline any potential Hugo nominations next year, since it’s been pointed out to me that people who benefit from this will also be eligible to nominate next year. When it was only ten nominations, that didn’t seem like it would sway anything. Seventy-five? It feels unethical to take advantage of any partiality that might create.

13 April 9pm – I want to thank everyone who participated. Unfortunately, I’ve gotten zero writing done the past three days and really need to, so for my own health, I’m going to close comments tonight when I go to bed and leave them closed. Again, thank you.

The application will remain open until midnight Central time on April 17th.

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303 thoughts on “Talk with me about being a fan of science fiction and fantasy”

  1. William Barnett-Lewis

    I have been reading SF for 40+ of my 51 years since discovering “Have Spacesuit, Will Travel”. I am unable to buy a membership right but I will help to see that the best SF of the year continues to get the Hugo’s they deserve. Thank you for what you are doing.

    I was bothered, badly, by the current set of nominees, but there are things I can easily, honestly, vote for (Ancillary Sword! Yes!). I hope it works out that I can find the money to put where my heart and soul are before the voting deadline.

  2. Thank you for all of your hard work for fandom, and for being so generous. (And also for your books, which I love! I discovered you through Writing Excuses.) This will be my first year participating as a supporting member.

    Would you be willing/able to take donations so that you can draw more than 10 names? I absolutely understand if you don’t want to sign up to coordinate something like that, but if you are I would like to also help out by buying someone a membership.

    1. Wow. That’s very generous. Thank you.

      May I suggest that, rather than me coordinating people who come here — which is going to be a self-selecting group — that you reach out to your own circle and make a similar offer there? You can point them here for context, or copy and paste anything that would be useful.

      But for fandom to be representative of the broader sff community, I think we all need to mobilize.

      Does that make sense? Or am I over-thinking?

      1. That does make sense. My thinking was that you are probably going to get a lot more than 10 submissions, but as you say they are self-selecting.

  3. It’s very kind of you to do that!

    Regarding the general post: as someone who is an SFF fan and who plays a lot of video games (or did) I am definitely noticing some disturbing Gamergate parallels in the language used by the more extreme Rabid Puppy types (“SJW” as an insult rather than a compliment jumps immediately to mind), and a particularly extreme degree of the “special little enclave” mentality was definitely present in that debacle Really the only thing I could come up with to do as a single low-influence person in that case was to do exactly as you suggest and to be, on my own, more inclusive to people, so I’ll definitely try it again in this situation.

  4. Nathan Beittenmiller


    This is a great post and a wonderful thing you’re doing. I’d also like to buy a couple of supporting memberships for folks who can’t afford it, but I don’t have a huge following. So instead, I’m going to see if I can find a couple people on Reddit (assuming it’s allowed in the various subreddits) and spread the joy there. That may be a good option for others in the same position as myself.

  5. Wow. That’s super nice of you, Mary, to buy memberships for ten people. I really love your work and the work of several of your colleagues, so I support you all by buying your books. I’m also a SF writer but have stayed away from SFWA and the fandom because I write SF romance. It’s very light on the science fiction and heavier on the politics and romance. Quite frankly, after all I’ve seen in the “conversation” I’m pretty sure my voice would be drowned out in no time. It’s sad for me. When I was budding writer 10-15 years ago, joining SFWA was a dream of mine. Amazing how much can change in that time. I’ll be watching this from the sidelines this year.

  6. I don’t need the membership (I’ll get it all on my own), but huzzah to this. In spite of the fact that I’m a socialist transsexual atheist boogeywoman Social Justice (Wizard? Rogue? Cleric?), I do enjoy some SF from the other side of the aisle. The stuff that’s not advocating that I be exterminated, in any case. I mean, how many of us grew up reading Heinlein? Farnham’s Freehold is not exactly progressive.

    So I’ll be voting this year and nominating next year. I usually trail behind the curve because my reading habits tend toward hard boiled crime stories most weeks, but SFF was my first love and I feel an obligation to help her out. But, y’know, I’m probably the “wrong” kind of fan. I am non-compliant. Heh.

    Also: counting the days until Of Noble Family is in my (electronic) hands. 🙂

    1. Good points! The whole Sad Puppies narrative has puzzled me. To me, science fiction and it’s fandom has always seemed open to a wealth of ideas from across the political spectrum. Your example of Heinlein is apt. Heck, I’m a really liberal white dude who’s read and liked John Ringo.
      I think the puppies’s claims of wanting equal representation for conservative works is really anger at a world that no longer exclusively caters to conservative ideas. I won’t be going to Worldcon, but I think I will be paying the $40 to vote.

      1. I think I have most of Jerry Pournelle’s major work with and without Larry Niven. Even though I think he’s completely wrong about just about everything, I’ve enjoyed some of his books. I loved Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead and have a hard time reconciling them with the man who wrote them. You never can tell.

        I will admit that I won’t spend money on OSC, though. I’m not inclined to hand a knife to a man who wants to slit my throat with it.

  7. Kerry aka Trouble

    Thank you, Mary!

    I can’t afford 10, but I could probably give one or two away. I will look around my fannish community and see if anyone there cannot afford it. After all, through a friend is how I found fandom.

  8. So, I am currently unemployed right now, so we are stretching to pay bills and I am taking on freelance work that is paying barely more than minimum wage to stretch the unemployment compensation out. I guess I would qualify at the moment for “not being able to afford it”, though I have been able to afford it in the past and hope to be able to in the near future.

    However, WorldCon/Hugos are not something that have really been on my radar in the past, and I would need to do a lot of research to determine whether this would be something I would want or even be able to do. Pardon me while I wander off to do some research.

    1. A supporting membership (which I just added to the definitions) means that you would be able to vote for the Hugos, which you can do electronically from the comfort of your own home. It’s $40. You get a voter packet, which includes many of the nominees so that you can read them before voting.

      It doesn’t require you to finish reading all of them. I just read until I stop enjoying the thing.

  9. Paul Weimer (@princejvstin)

    This is a wonderful effort on your part, Mary.

    I’ve been a fan of SFF since my older brother handed me the Martian Chronicles, I, Robot and others. I was soon borrowing books from him (I *lost* his copy of Time Enough for Love, which he was unhappy about). Zelazny, Clarke, Bradbury, Vance soon started feeding my SFF love.

    In the Nineties I started broadening out and discovering Butler, Elliott, Tarr, Bull, Cherryh, Wells, and many others.

    In the 21st Century, I started to make my voice known and talk about what I read with others, virtually. I also started to, as I started reviewing, getting to know authors at the beginning of their writing, and seeing how their work evolves and changes in early stages. Hurley, Schafer, Wexler, McClellan, and many more!

    I’d never really gone to SFF conventions (gaming conventions excepted) until this century –but you know how shy in person I can be, that wouldn’t surprise *you*) But I am trying and still trying to seek out new authors and sampling new things.

    Growing the conversation and growing fandom IS the answer I want to see.

  10. Thank you for this post. I appreciate the definition of terms, but most of all the spirit of wanting to actually discuss and listen, on both sides.

  11. Thank you so much for this Mary. I really appreciate and admire your ability to facilitate meaningful and inclusive conversation over a difficult issue. I also appreciate the clarification of definitions. As a fan of SFF for the past 20+ years (ah Dragonlance, you will forever be my “first”), but as someone who has never had the opportunity to attend a convention, I found these distinctions important and it helped me understand a bit more of what is happening with the Hugos, as overall, I’ve been quite lost regarding this whole fiasco. Perhaps you can clarify one more thing for me though? What is the difference between the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies? As I often see those two terms used together but not necessarily interchangeably.
    And once again, thank you. We need more voices like yours.

    (Also, favorite SFF recommendation has to be CJ Cherryh’s Fortress series. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read it. 🙂 )

  12. I appreciate seeing your calm oasis in the sea of angst and anger.

    I picked up a supporting membership earlier this week so I can vote. I plan to do a lot of reading and comparing, and vote for whatever content I think deserves to win.

    There are some genuine issues to be addressed with the Hugo, but my hope is that increasing the voting pool, as you have so generously offered to help accomplish, will help the Hugo to represent the best from a wide range of options in a field of near-infinite scope.

    Will everyone agree? Of course not. Some will despise what others love. There will be a lot of “that style’s not for me.” Some will vote for people rather than content. The whole concept is based on opinion rather than measurable facts and statistics. But greater participation should mean that the ballots are by definition more inclusive and the results more representative, which I believe should be everyone’s goal.

    I think there’s too much of the fringe groups at both extremes wanting to retaliate, as in the No Award threats and counter-threats you briefly mentioned.

    I have friends on both sides of the issue, and we’ll still be friends when this is past.

  13. Fred Loucks-Schultz

    I began reading SFF fairly early, likely a result of my 4th grade teacher’s habit of reading aloud to the class during lunchtime. I remember “The Magician’s Nephew”, “A Wrinkle in Time”, “The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet”, and pretty soon I was hitting the library for Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Harlan Ellison, and Fritz Leiber.

    I almost joined Fandom in college. My school had a SF club, which ran a local con (VikingCon in Bellingham – if you’ve ever wondered about the city that Niven & Pournelle nuked in “Footfall”, that was us). Unfortunately, the club meetings abound social times were at the same time as another activity, so I never actually joined the club.

    After graduation, I got out of the habit of reading SFF. Eventually, I discovered Steampunk and e-books, which in turn rekindled (heh) my interest in SFF, as I began reading the stuff written by a new generation whose literary touchstones are often completely different from my own. I’ve rediscovered cosplay, conventions, and the joys of interacting with other fans as well as getting to know authors and creators.

  14. I have voted in the Hugo’s before, but it has dropped off my radar in the last couple years. I had no idea any of this was even going on until you brought it to my attention.

    I will certainly vote in the 2016, but is there still time to join and vote in 2015?

    If there is still time for 2015 I will sponsor 2 additional memberships for 2015 as well as 2 for 2016 for local fans who would like to vote but can’t afford it.

    Thank you for talking about this and bringing attention to issues that shouldn’t even exist and allowing those of us who can help solve them.

  15. I have been reading SFF since I found Heinlein in High School in the ’80s. But I was a fan since the Six Million Dollar Man. I have birth defects and my right hand and my right eye are messed up. So Steve was my hero totally. I wished I had bionics so I could fit in.

    Then it was Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey and high adventure. Clifford Simak and robots and big questions. Piers Anthony and pun worlds. Terry Pratchett and humor that made you think. Joan D Vinge and Catspaw and outcast again. Lois Bujold OMG Lois Bujold!

    I don’t go to cons I live in Albuquerque and have very little money. But I want the Hugos to go on. So I just bought a supporting membership to Sasquan and I will be voting.

    1. I was a fan since the Six Million Dollar Man. I have birth defects and my right hand and my right eye are messed up. So Steve was my hero totally. I wished I had bionics so I could fit in.

      Did you watch any of the new Bionic Woman? I am considering catching up on that this summer, but don’t know if it holds up to the original…

  16. Nick from the O.C.

    I wasn’t going to support Sasquan this year because I have so much going on right now. That all changed this week. The only open question is whether or not I will attend. (My wife and I were discussing it this morning.)

    I’m more of a “hard SF” kind of guy, but even so I can see why an organized slate of nominees and voters is anathema to the long term quality of SF, a literature I have adored for nearly 50 years. My wife (who BTW is a big fan of your works) is just about to graduate with a Masters in Social Work, so you can easily guess where she falls on the SJW spectrum.

    In the past few years I have tried to broaden my horizons past Niven and Banks to enjoy the “newer” works. I read Hartwell’s “21st Century Science Fiction” and I was floored by the quality and emotional depth of the stories! I realized I had been missing out on some extraordinarily good SF because I was looking for the same old authors.

    So that’s my opening statement in our dialog.

    In addition, and not to go all fan-boy on you, please let me say that I was in your audience at Renovation, when you performed that wonderful piece of performance art. Highlight of my con experience.

      1. Nick from the O.C.

        It seems to me that I have always enjoyed authors who pushed the envelope, from Ellison’s Dangerous Visions to McHugh’s China Mountain Zhang to Asaro’s Skolian series. Each author was breaking new ground in some aspect or another. While classic “hard” SF might be focused on breaking new ground with respect to scientific extrapolation, it’s obvious to this long-time fan that new ground can be broken in other areas.

        Indeed, perhaps “breaking new ground” is at the heart of what fantasy or SF is (or ought to be). In that sense, those who want to define “good SF” by their viewpoints and terms would be anti-SF. (Not that they would see it that way.)

  17. I’m one of the fans concerned about Vox Day and co, though my greater concern is that these people felt so aggrieved that they had to organize this whole mess. As someone who just wants everyone to get along, inclusive of our differences, it’s very difficult for me to comprehend this sort of thinking. Thank you for speaking out on this topic. Everything you’ve been saying has been a great help for fans like me.

  18. “about pieces of plastic or the insider approval they represent.”

    Actually, they’re a chromed zinc-aluminum alloy these days, but I guess nobody’s ever let him hold one. (The bases are made of various things: mine are respectively granite, wood, glass, and cast bronze.)

    But I digress.

    You know, when I became the godparent to a pair of boys, I never realized how useful toddler-parenting skills would be in the real world. Specifically, that thing where children too young to have social skills or any self-awareness want attention, and try to get it by wheedling, and then by manipulating, and then by tantrums, and then by breaking stuff?

    It’s even more tiring coming from a grown-ass man.

    A grown-ass man who is apparently bad at math, given that the problem with bloc voting to success in the Hugos is that it’s easy to get a work (or a slate of works) nominated, but it’s hard to get it past all the people who weren’t part of the nominating bloc–the problem the Jordan/Sanderson series also ran into last year. Numerical superiority will tell, and a final Hugo ballot splits the vote much, much less than the nomination process.

    Assuming that his friends don’t get really tired with his obsession with somehow having some claim on the Hugos while claiming he doesn’t care.

    It’s like watching an abusive relationship play out: “I HATE YOU BUT NOBODY ELSE CAN HAVE YOU BECAUSE YOU SHOULD BE ONLY MINE!”

    That level of monomania has to get boring after a while.

    If by some miracle he could muster that much support, well. If no Hugos are awarded in 2016, I look forward to the 2016 Retro Hugos in a few years!

  19. Thank you for such a generous offer, Mary, and thank you to everyone else who has followed in your footsteps and offered sponsorships of their own.

    Perhaps would be something to look into for this? Amanda Palmer fans used the site late last year/early this year to match fans who had extra copies of her book _The Art of Asking_ (or were willing to buy extras) with fans who wanted it and couldn’t afford it on their own. It seems like a great way to spread the love here, as well.

  20. I personally have a lot more cynicism about the SP voters, in that it’s not they are ‘new’ to fandom, but they have an interest in fandom. The SP leaders actively hate fandom and I suspect so does the Joe Sad Puppy. However I’d be happy to be proved wrong on this. You are really giving them the benefit of the doubt and I respect that.

    Regardless of the current crop of Sad Puppies I do think we should rethink what the Hugo awards are supposed to be. I think Hugo awards being the award of fandom (eg explicitly excluding the fans who don’t go to and aren’t interested in book-oriented cons) would be fine. The alternative – Hugo award, an internet poll for anyone with 10 minutes and $40 – is evidently not fun.

    We should try to open up fandom itself, for instance I’d like to see a <30 year old discount at WorldCon. Encourage folks to go to their cozy local con, I love mine (FogCon). But non-attending memberships have little role to play in doing that.

    1. Worldcons do have a discount for youth/students on attending memberships. I believe you need to be younger than 25, though it varies each time.

    2. Hi, there.
      I think I can qualify as Joe Sad Puppy, since (a) I’m not a leader thereof, but (b) I’ve picked up a supporting membership specifically to join the fray. I’ve also already picked up an attending membership for MidWestCon next year.
      I don’t know Brad Torgersen personally, but have known Larry Correia for several years. Vox Day has nothing to do with SP, and decided to tag Rabid Puppies onto the argument for, as near as I can tell, grins and giggles.

      I don’t hate “fandom”. As of this spring, I’ve been reading SF/F for fifty years, since I picked up “Red Planet” in first grade. My first exposure to organized fandom was a bunch of us crashing Worldcon, Labor Day weekend before I started college. I started legitimately attending cons about 25 years ago. I’ve volunteered at most of the cons I’ve attended, I’ve attended panels, worked hall tables, cosplayed, done the whole thing. Haven’t been to a Worldcon since 1974, but see above re: this year and next.

      So, I’ve been a fan since before a lot of the WorldCon insiders were born, been attending cons for 25 years, been into everything from reading, to Star Trek (original series, thankyouverymuch — watched it on its first run), been a gamer, cosplayed, and have even been red-shirted by authors. For that matter, I’ve actually survived being a character in a John Ringo book. So, any of y’al, TELL me, I dare you, that I’m not a “trufan” or a member of fandom.

      I just picked up “Ancillary Sword” from the library, since I’ve heard that Leckie’s publisher doesn’t include e-copies in voter packets. I’ll be blogging my opinions of the works on this year’s ballot, as I read them. I will say that I read the sample chapters available on Amazon for “Ancillary Justice”, and wasn’t impressed. We shall see.

      The whole point of Sad Puppies isn’t to get “conservatives” on the ballot. It’s not racism, misogyny, or any of that crap that someone spewed verbatim to half-a-dozen media outlets. Larry’s perception (borne out by the reaction to SP 1 and SP 2, in my opinion) was that there was a lock on the Hugos, in the hands of people who didn’t care about Story. Things were being nominated, not for their quality, but for the demographics of the author — race, sex, identity, and political orientation.

      The object of Sad Puppies is to break the lock. I have a bet with myself, as to what this year will do to WorldCon’s membership. Given that the variable costs of electronic materials packets are about zero, I’m thinking that $30 to $35 of that $40 is free money to the Con.

      If “Ancillary Sword” is the best novel I read between now and June, I’ll vote for it. It’s got a high bar to top, though. Larry C turned down the nomination for “Monster Hunter: Nemesis”. I read “Nemesis” about 4 months before it came out in hardback, and it’s one of my benchmark books for 2014. I’ll read “Sword”, and everything else on the ballot. May the best book win.

      I already know one piece, by a fairly close friend, that I’m not likely to vote for. It’s down-ballot in another category, but I happen to know that the only reason he published it was for laughs. With the exception of a couple of authors whom I know personally, I’m not actually sure what’s on the SP ballot. I haven’t read it. I still consider myself an SP supporter, because the MAJOR principle of Sad Puppyhood is Story Over All.

      1. Thank you so much for coming and sharing your viewpoint. I really think it helps to understand where everyone is coming from.

        If I may share my own? I also favor Story Over All, even though the kind of stories I like are probably different from the ones you like. We probably have some overlap. I can understand why you think that some people, like me, are voting for demographics over the story but that’s not actually what’s happening. I think — and this is just me guessing — is that because we already believe that the story is good, that we talk about the news that seems exceptional. Like… when the ballot was male dominated, no one talked about it because everyone expected it. But when it was female dominated? Holy cow! That’s something new. So that’s what we talked about, not about how good the stories were, because that was taken for granted. OF COURSE the story was good. That’s why we voted for it.

        But I can see how, if all you see is the rejoicing after the fact, which is about the unusual thing, it looks like all we care about is the gender of the winners. I promise, though. That’s not the case. Story Over All. But just because I think it’s good doesn’t mean that you are obligated to like it as well.

        Does that help clarify things at all?

        1. First off, I want to thank you for being a voice, even a shining beacon, of reason in this imbroglio. Actually, I wouldn’t put you in the “voting for demographics” crowd, from what I’ve seen.

          Larry makes the point, in his rather long response to GRRM, that he was a first-hand witness to the prejudice at his first WorldCon. George’s reply was, essentially, “I’m sorry that you felt ostracized / disrespected. I didn’t see that happen, myself.”

          Switching over to the inside of MY head, that sounds suspiciously like telling a woman “I’m sorry that you felt harrassed, can you point me to specific instances, because I didn’t see any?”. But then my brain leaps and jumps between all kinds of warped places.

          The howls of outrage from the TruFen last year, at Sad Puppies 2, pretty much illustrated what Larry was trying to get at.

      2. What you are buying for $40 is not a Hugo vote. It’s a supporting membership in the Worldcon. That includes, among other things, the Worldcon publications. NOT, be it noted, the Hugo packet, but the actual Worldcon publications, including the progress reports and the souvenir book. And if you take the print versions, that’s $35 before we talk about any of the other costs of putting on the Worldcon, which since you don’t care about the con itself, also includes those nifty rrocket, which are not cheap to produce and then ship to the Worldcon site.

        Second, there is no secret clique with a lock on the Hugos, and hard as you find it to believe, people are voting for the *stories* they like. Shockingly, not everyone’s taste aligns with yours.

        Finally, Larry Correia described his experiences at his first Worldcon on his blog shortly after the event, and it doesn’t align with his current claims about it.

  21. I’m still sorting through everything that’s been going on with the Hugos this year, though GRRM’s blog posts have been very helpful in making matters a little more understandable.

    I don’t see how tearing something down proves any sort of point to anyone beyond, “I’m mad that I don’t get what I want so I’m going to ensure that no one gets it either!” It seems a bit silly, a bit childish, and rather defeatist.

    As for recommendations, I first fell in love with Ursula K. LeGuin when my 9th grade English teacher gave us A Wizard of Earthsea to read. He also gave us Ender’s Game that year as well, so there’s a bit of both sides of this supposed rift represented. I have been delighted to become acquainted with GRRM’s short fiction through the Dreamsongs compilations. Sand Kings, With Morning Comes Mistfall, A Song For Lya, and other inhabitants of his Thousand Worlds are haunting and beautiful.

  22. I began with SF at 4 years old, when the original “Star Trek” was on. I didn’t manage to start going to cons till I was 19.

    But I read everything — LOTR at 8, Heinlein/Asimov/etc. at the same age.

    I’ve been in fandom and going to cons since 1981 Worldcon, and this situation is just bwuh? There’s always fannish feuds and people who gafiate and mumble dark oaths. But this?

    We’re at two years with no job and six months with no unemployment insurance here (thank goodness for old investments), so there’s no way we’re going to the con.

    I’m kind of puzzled how the unhappy canines missed my mid-60’s SF intro. Did they not notice Lts. Uhura and Sulu? Those guys who were half black and half white on opposite sides?

    (Disclosure: I even Hugo-voted for one of them there doggies once! Never again, though.)

    Right now I’m digging the latest by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and “Derelict” by L.J. Cohen, which is technically YA but a cracking good space opera where intellect and teamwork save the day — with no annoying love triangles or dystopian governments!

    Mary, as always, you are graciousness itself.

  23. I can’t really afford it, but your post, and the additional material I read, made me decide to stretch a little. I just purchased a membership. I know that others are less able to pay and hope your generous offer allows some of those folk to add their voices to the mix.

    Thanks for doing this.

  24. I purchased a supporting membership a few days ago, after I heard about all of this. At first I planned to vote “No Award” for all of the puppy nominees, but I have since been swayed by reasoned voices (you; Jason Sanford; GRRM) to vote instead on the merits of the nominated works. When the nominating packet arrives, I will treat each submission as you suggest, and read enough to make an informed decision. Thanks for being a calm voice in the midst of the maelstrom.

  25. I will be purchasing a WorldCon supporting membership and I hope to actually attend WorldCon next year. I agree there needs to be more respectful discourse and an inclusive environment developed. Passions and emotions are running high in this entire debate and I appreciate your thoughts above. For me personally, I just enjoy reading amazing stories and books, regardless of awards. Nothing will change that and I will continue to seek out works that think outside the box and challenge the status quo. But that doesn’t mean what I seek out to read is any better than what someone else might enjoy. Thank you for a wonderful post.

  26. Why this would seem a good idea I understand from your explanation. But will it still seem like a good idea when Vox Day or somebody who likes the slate mirrors your offer?

    1. That’s already happened, unfortunately. At least on the ground-roots organizing of fans, and as a group, fandom isn’t working to make people feel welcome. The only reason the system was so easy to game was because there were so few participants. My hope is that other members of fandom will make similar offers to their own circles.

      And as for mirroring my offer… if the offer is to select people at random and not tell them what to vote for? I don’t see anything wrong with that. Offering to pay for people to vote a particular way? That would be a no.

      Besides… in order to force a No Award, according to the constitution, I think he’d have to get a million people to vote.

  27. The current Sad/Rabid puppies controversy has me feeling guilty for all the years in which I had Worldcon memberships and neither nominated nor voted. Generally, I took the view that as someone who had read two of the nominated novels and three of the nominated short nominees, I had disqualified myself, despite that I had friends who voted for what they felt was quality work even if they hadn’t read other things. I actually knew people who read everything on the list (or at least claimed to, but they were the sort of people who were easily believed for that).

    In the last decade, I’ve somewhat drifted away from fandom. Years ago, I joked to people in gay fandom that I was “forgotten but not gone.” Yet the anti-gay attitudes of the puppies brings me back to the Boskone many years ago when a writer thanked me for starting the Gaylaxians, because it made including gay characters easier.

    Melissa Scott once said that when an editor asked her why a certain character was gay, she responded, “he was born that way” (decades before Lady Gaga, I should note).

    There are no Worldcons on the horizon for me. I’ve looked at the nominations, and the whole thing is fairly typical for me: one novel from someone with whose work I am familiar, but which I haven’t read. I’ve stopped following the magazines, so no short fiction. I saw two of the tv shows. Can I even justify calling myself a science fiction fan anymore? This probably disqualifies me.

    Yet, it galls me that there are people—from any side—who want to use anything other than literary excellence as criteria for the awarding of the Hugos (further disclosure: BA in English and Medieval Studies from one of the centers of critical theory). I just wonder what I can do to help the fandom that I remember so fondly.

    1. Of course you are a science-fiction fan. Part of the joy of the awards is in discovery new work, so if you haven’t read something, that’s fine. As for not reading everything before voting… I look at it like this: If I only have time to read three things, then those three were the most compelling things I read that year. I just leave the other ones off my ballot. I don’t vote No Award, I just don’t include them.

      I also get the packet and start reading work, but when it stops being interesting, I stop reading. I won’t vote for something that I don’t find excellent.

      All of which reduces the burden. And it’s okay to skip categories if you aren’t interested in them.

    2. @John Dumas I hope you’ll reconsider your opinion of “the puppies” as being anti-gay and read Sarah Hoyt’s _A Few Good Men_, which was on the 2014 slate.

  28. I bought a membership last year, but didn’t vote because I hadn’t read every volume in the Wheel of Time series and didn’t want to buy some of the works that one publisher excluded from the packet.

    Am I correct that one is expected only to vote in categories where one has read or seen all of the nominated works? (Clearly it would be bad behavior to vote based on what people say about the author.)

    When are the votes for the 2015 Hugos sent in? Does either a 2014 or a 2015 membership bestow voting rights this year?

    1. My belief is that you don’t have to read everything to vote. I read as far as something holds my interest, and then stop. If it doesn’t hold my interest, then I don’t vote for it.

      When are the votes for the 2015 Hugos sent in?

      When you register, you get a pin that allows you to vote. Since they haven’t opened voting yet, I’m not sure when the deadlines are.

      Does either a 2014 or a 2015 membership bestow voting rights this year?

      A 2014 conferred nominating rights. A 2015 will confer voting rights this year, and nominating rights for 2016.

  29. Speaking as someone who’s studied the rules and worked with the ballots, could I ask you to make an explicit declaration that you are in no way constraining how that member nominates or votes?

    Buying someone a membership is not an issue, of course, but the rules on voting are only “Natural Persons” may vote, so no corporations, and “One Person, One Vote.” Buying someone a membership with the agreement that they would vote for/nominate X, or even not vote for/nominate X will violate that, because it transfers part of the vote from them to you.

    So, to ensure those ballots aren’t declared invalid, making a statement that voting rights will be completely held by the person you’re buying the membership for with no constraints or requirements from you would be useful for the Hugo Administrators next time around, should any question be raised by this.

    And, of course, then don’t do that — not that I think you would, but for completeness, I should say that.

    Trying days when we have to play all the formalities and legalities, but there we are.

      1. Excellent! And what you’ve put is perfect.

        They’ll also get to vote in Site Selection as a bonus, and it’s a four-way race this year: Japan, Montreal, Washington DC, and Helsinki.

        It costs money to vote in Site Selection (I think $40, but I’m not certain) but you get an automatic supporting membership in whichever Worldcon emerges from the vote. In effect, voting is “I am becoming a supporting member of the Worldcon two years from now, and I’d like that to be….” It also allows you to convert (with 90 days) to attending at the cheapest possible rate, so, you get a lot for the supporting membership!

        Doing Site Selection this way ensure the next selected Worldcon has some seed money before memberships roll in.

  30. MRK – I am very pleased to read this post by you. I think that greater communication and tolerance all around will be a big part of keeping as much of Fandom as possible inside the tent.

    (I allow that some of the communication might be yelling and angry poetry, and ‘tolerate’ does not mean ‘like’ ‘endorse’ or ’embrace’.)

    I have been a SFF fan since at least middle school when I cut my teeth on Andre Norton. I have been to cons and fangirled at authors and listened to panels and dressed up like elves and like spacemen. Spacewomen. Whatever. I’ve done RPG and written fic. I’ve been part of online fandom on and off since around 2000. I firmly believe that I am part of Fandom.

    However, I don’t consider myself part of the Fandom that describes itself as feminist or intersectional. And that’s okay – that part of Fandom can do its thing, like and celebrate its stuff, and I can like and celebrate the stuff I like with people who share my interests – just as I don’t have to be part of Star Trek or Star Wars parts of Fandom.

    (The primary difference between feminist/inter-sectional parts of fandom and the ST/SW parts of fandom that I have seen is that most ST/SW fans don’t make remarks about my moral character based on whether or not I want to be part of that particular circle on the Fandom Venn diagram with them. Mostly, ST/SW just hollers HEY AWESOME COME READ THIS, whenever someone brushes up against them.)

    I supported SP2, was disappointed in the choices for the Hugos last year (there were some I liked) and (esp since the articles in the mainstream press this week) am passionately in support of SP3.

    I love lots of kinds of Fandom, but perhaps most enjoy apocalyptic sorts – for example, Wolf and Iron, Parable of the Sower, Dies the Fire, Snowpiercer, BSG, The Walking Dead.

    ( I know this is long, sorry, I wanted to be clear and polite and that always seems to take me a lot of words.)

    1. Clear and polite always takes me a ton of words, too.

      Funny thing, I actually consider myself a Social Justice Warrior, or maybe Paladin. Yeah– A Social Justice Paladin. Anyway, the point being that I think one of the ways in which we fail is in understanding that a lot of the disagreements are actually just because people haven’t been involved in the longer conversation. If you are interested in my ideas on diversity and why I think it’s important, I’m happy to share them, but I don’t want to force them on you.

      1. MRK –

        Bujold talked (sorry, wrote, haven’t met her (yet)) about how – on the advice of Jim Baen, IIRC – she went back and cut out a significant chunk of words from the first draft of Shards of Honor. I try to do that with things I do more than one draft of – but as Pascal said, sometimes my messages are long because I do not take the time to make them shorter.

        (Always nice to meet a fellow traveler on that road.)

        one of the ways in which we fail is in understanding that a lot of the disagreements are actually just because people haven’t been involved in the longer conversation.

        As I noted above, I’ve been in this convo on and off since 2000. I think that many people on the SP side are familiar with the perspective of the…the…can I say SJW? And not be rude? No, I shall say SJP! There. (If that is rude, please imagine I have said something polite instead because polite is what I meant.)

        Anyway. Yes, we have heard and have been a part of the convo and still don’t agree with that sub-part of Fandom.

        If you are interested in my ideas on diversity and why I think it’s important, I’m happy to share them, but I don’t want to force them on you.

        I really appreciate your hesitancy to “force” your ideas on me, esp as I understand that endorsing and advocating those ideas are very important to you. (I know many passionate people of faith who struggle with the same impulse to constantly share the Word with everyone, because it is that important and that necessary.)

        If we were to talk about diversity, I would want to start with a common understanding that I *also* think diversity of opinion, pov, and background are important. (But not without some downsides. TANSTAAFL.) So if we talk about this – which I am not adverse to – I think we would be talking first about what sorts of diversity we wanted and then how to get them, combined with what price we would be willing to pay for achieving a set distribution of diversity. My priorities in this may not be yours. I just would not want you to operate under the (mistaken) assumption that I didn’t value diversity at all.

        Twentieth and last – I don’t envy any of the leadership of the various cat herds their inboxes, headaches, and hatemail this week. For what it is worth, you have my sympathy.

        – Be excellent to each other

        1. Hi there! Thanks for your explanation and comments.

          I’ll explain my position as a lead-in to what I consider diversity.

          I feel as if one major issue is the attribution of the most extreme views on all sides of the issue (not both sides, because I think that’s a misnomer) tend to be attributed by people on each side to everyone on all of them.

          I mean, Theo Beale first came after me for no good reason except that I was a woman writing SF in like, 2004–and I have no truck with the man (I’ve also spoken out publicly against Requires Hate’s bullying campaign, for what it’s worth.)–but I don’t think every Sad Puppy thinks I should have acid thrown in my face if I’m too uppity.

          In fact, two people on the SP slate are former students of mine, both of whose work I respect very much.

          Several more are personal friends of mine, people I admire whose work I value. In an ordinary year, I’d be voting for people like Sheila Gilbert and Jim Minz, whose work I greatly admire.

          My problem is that I think *all* slates are a bad idea, an abuse of the system that is for now, technically within the rules, but unethical.

          So now I can’t vote for Jim or Sheila above No Award, because I do not feel that I can ethically support their nominations.

          I totally support the right of any author to be on the ballot on the merits of their work and even their fans’ ability to organize themselves. That is built into the system–I’ve thought some campaigns were in poor taste, but there hasn’t been anything before this (not since the infamous Black Genesis Incident, anyway) that I thought was so unethical I couldn’t vote for a book or artist I liked.

          I didn’t think the Jordan/Sanderson books didn’t deserve to be on the ballot last year, even though I gave up on the Wheel of Time in… 1994?

          I believe Larry Correia when he says that he intended SP 1 & 2 to be a test of the honesty of the Hugo nominating system, and that he was satisfied by it.

          However: I think that the Beales of the world are exploiting the system and some of their colleagues for the reasons detailed elsewhere in the thread–to force the attention that fandom won’t give them willingly, and to spoil everybody else’s fun. (The fun spoiling part is signally non-successful, at least: this is the best Hugo nomination wank party since 1987.) For him, this is an attempt to wreck a toy because he thinks he deserves to own it, whether a majority of fandom agrees or not.

          I also think there’s some disingenuousness going on in promoting the slate. Brad Torgerson last had a Hugo nomination for fiction in 2012, which is pre-Sad Puppies and three years after my own most recent nomination for fiction, and yet I don’t think there’s a conspiracy to keep me off the ballot and haven’t mobilized my friends to hack the system.

          That doesn’t seem to me like disenfranchisement; that seems like recognition.

          So: my attitude, stated last year and repeated this: diversity is when nobody has control of the nominations; it includes anybody who can get there on their own merit; and it includes people whose political opinions I don’t like. However, straight white cis male domination of the ballot and a few token “others” does not reflect the current demographics of fandom the way it did thirty years ago; so there’s that to consider.

          (I note that last year’s slate included Requires Hate *and* Vox Day. That’s so politically diverse it starts to come full circle.)

        2. Ms Bear –

          (Excuse me a moment.)


          (*ahem* Sorry.)

          Theo Beale first came after me for no good reason except that I was a woman writing SF in like, 2004–and I have no truck with the man (I’ve also spoken out publicly against Requires Hate’s bullying campaign, for what it’s worth.)

          I remember a bit of that, and I remember being a bit surprised at the “going after a woman who wrote SF” bit, because dude – Cherryh? Bujold? Willis? Moon? I don’t remember the details of that squabble, frankly. (I imagine the incident is a bit more etched in your memory.)

          But speaking of 2004 – oh, yes, 2004, and the ultra-awesomeness that it was to be conservative in on-line fandom during the US election season. The rabid frothing, the accusations that concentration camps were being set up for Muslims and gays, the sneering, the wild exaggerations, the ranting, the accusations of intended genocide, of disenfranchisement of women (oh, and I as a conservative female was just a ‘token’ and ‘deluded’) – and that was before the Republicans won. Good times, good times.

          Which have only gotten worse, of course.

          And that’s why I think the most important part of what you said was at the very end:

          (I note that last year’s slate included Requires Hate *and* Vox Day. That’s so politically diverse it starts to come full circle.)

          Because the Hugos should be able to do that. We must NOT make it so that the Hugos CANNOT do that.

          I appreciate your reaching out by denouncing RH, and I know that there are some who are calling for dual denunciations of VD and RH.

          I reject this. I absolutely and completely reject any and all calls for purity tests, public renunciations, and all versions of assertion of RightThink, of quasi-Inquisitionesque are you now or have you ever been a nasty person who said nasty things to other people, as a part, of any sort, in the process of assessing the quality of a particular work.

          In terms of eligibility for the Hugos, we should be looking at the work, not the author, nor who recommended it to us. A work is eligible if it is SFF, and we have enough room to argue for days over that alone without applying extraneous litmus tests like gender of the author, the portrayal or absence of a religious system in the work, the skin color of the protagonist or whether or not we liked the person who first drew our attention to the book
          IMO, SP came about because one part of fandom was applying litmus tests to authors and works, rather than judging the works on their own merits – and another part of fandom objected to that (in large part because the litmus tests were applied against them). The call to “No Award” SP works is a continuation of application of litmus tests, and the widespread use of this voting tactic will only increase the perception that extraneous litmus tests are not only acceptable but endorsed.

          I feel we should step back from this tactic, and instead allow the qualities (or lack thereof) in a particular work to speak for themselves.

          I go on at more length on this here – I have attempted to distill this down to the barest bones for MRK’s poor comment section. I thank you for talking with me.

          – Be excellent to each other

        3. Hello again, and thank you for your response! It’s a great pleasure talking to you, too.

          I feel you on the climate of online discourse in general, and especially during election years. The excoriation from the fringes runs both ways: I’ve certainly experienced enough of it myself, and I’m left enough to consider a lot of my friends who consider themselves liberal to be a bit on the conservative end.

          I particularly want to agree wholeheartedly with this: “I reject this. I absolutely and completely reject any and all calls for purity tests, public renunciations, and all versions of assertion of RightThink, of quasi-Inquisitionesque are you now or have you ever been a nasty person who said nasty things to other people, as a part, of any sort, in the process of assessing the quality of a particular work.”

          Absolutely and completely. I also reject litmus tests, political purity arguments, and so forth. Hell, even calls for “niceness.”

          I have been a little offended, not by your comments, but by the idea floating around that everybody who liked, say, ANCILLARY JUSTICE was voting in lockstep because of political reasons. (I mostly liked it; I thought it had a glaring structural flaw and some logic problems. I wrote a review at the time when I read it, which is available here. As I recall, I did not nominate it, but I voted for it in the final ballot as the best of the available options.)

          As both John Scalzi and Charlie Stross are good friends of mine, I’d like to think that if there was a Secrit Cabal to get people Hugo awards, they would have thrown me a bone by now! I also feel like I’m plugged in enough to the social justice community that if there *were* a secret voting list, somebody would have kicked me a copy one of these years.

          Maybe John found out that I put “Shadow War of the Night Dragons” below “No Award” on my ballot that year, because I thought it was a silly stunt and not deserving of a Hugo Award.

          (I think the more likely explanation is that there is no voting bloc. I often hang out in a chat room with a bunch of other writers and critics, most of whom are more left-leaning, but there’s at least one conservative Christian among us, and a few folks who are Not American and don’t fall into convenient American political divides. And boy, there’s ten or twenty people who come in there, and *we* can’t agree on what’s worthy of award nominations.)

          The thing is, what we’ve learned–what we’ve all just seen demonstrated–is that it takes between forty and two hundred people actually, honestly liking a thing to get it on the ballot, generally speaking. I don’t think we have to assume a “litmus test” was applied to that vote, other than the “litmus tests” we all apply when we read.

          I’m unlikely to nominate a work I find racist or misogynistic as “best” anything, because I’m unlikely to enjoy it. I assume you’re equally unlikely to enjoy a book which offends your core human principles.

          I *am* more likely to enjoy a book with awesome women being awesome; with a cast that looks like my friends and family; with queer characters in it who are treated fairly, and so forth. That’s not a litmus test: that’s a thing I genuinely like to read.

          So when somebody crows about a book, “There’s a gay guy in it and he didn’t die!” that might just be a genuine positive reaction, similar to the one I feel where a female character gets to be a hero in her own right rather than a prize for the male protagonist to win.

          And that’s as important a subjective measure of quality for me as “Is it boring?”

          (My gosh, I’m hell on boring books. But my boring is not everybody’s boring, also.)

          So, possibly 20% of fandom actually genuinely liked Ann Leckie’s book.

          As for “No Award–” I’m not calling to “No Award” SP in particular.

          I’m choosing, for myself, to make a commitment never to participate in a slate, never bloc vote to push a slate, and never to vote for an award that was nominated because the creature consented to be on a slate. That’s anybody’s slate, ever, anywhere.

          I just won’t encourage or reward bloc voting, period. Because bloc voting utterly and completely derails *any* pretense that the works on the ballot got there because some individual person liked that single particular work, in isolation. It deprives the individual voter of a meaningful voice, and the individual creator of a meaningful reward for excellence.

          I find the entire concept of slates personally repugnant.

          If that means that because all fandom has decided to devolve into rival political parties and I will never see a work of mine nominated for a Hugo again, well. So be it. I’d be sad, because I’ve always hoped to write something good enough to bring home a Best Novel nom. But I wanted to write something good enough, not to get on a powerful enough slate, if that makes any sense?

          Again, thanks a lot for the engagement and conversation. It’s valuable to me, and I hope to you.

        4. Ms Bear –

          Thank you for sharing your thoughts, esp the review of AJ. (I also voted it first last year, because for me the big ideas and intriguing Empire were barely enough to overcome the plodding story, passive pov character, and the failure to follow up on multiple themes that (to me) so obviously presented themselves for exploration. (One of these: so gender of humans is invisible to the pov character – but it’s not invisible to humans, and so there should have been things which the pov character *missed* which affected the plot. I didn’t see that followed through.) Had it been up against Hard Magic (the first volume in LC’s series) I would given the top spot to Hard Magic, but against Warbound, AJ barely edged it out. As you say, quite well done, and I think deserving of being on the ballot, which I could not say for the whole of the slate that year.

          I think we are both resolved in our stance on No Voting – and I shan’t harass you further about that here. (I continue to hope you change your mind, because You Are Wrong, but I can hope that in the privacy of my own head.)

          What I did want to say was:

          Again, thanks a lot for the engagement and conversation. It’s valuable to me, and I hope to you.

          Until sometime around 2 am today, yes, yes it was, in terms of engagement and bridge building and see, here, people profoundly disagreeing and yet not calling each other names! yah us!.

          And then something said elsewhere about “Hugo nominations are supposed to be a survey, can’t you see that?!?!” combined with your list of “important subjective considerations in judging a story” and It All Makes Sense Now.

          (And I Am Still Right, but I think I see where there is ongoing failure to recognize how it is that your Right/Correct/Best is not my Right/Correct/Best.)

          (The how is the important part.)

          And now I am going away, and writing some, because I think if I can say this properly, as best I can, I can maybe contribute a bit of a tool for looking at the Whole Dang Mess. Maybe.

          So, yes, yes, with a whole heart, yes, it has been quite valuable.

        5. Dear keranih,

          Yes. I understand your–and the (non-radicalized, shall we say?) Puppy–perspective much better now, and while I agree that there’s stuff we’re never going to convince each other of (can we both Be Wrong On The Internets? I suppose it’s inherent in Being On The Internets) I’m feeling a lot better about fandom in general for having talked with you.

          Thanks so much.


  31. I’m heartened by your attitude and involvement here, Mary. Kudos to you for finding a fair way to counter what, to my sentiments, was a self-serving and bigoted move by a small enclave of whiners. Applause!

  32. Thank you for the clarification of the terms. I never realized that in this context fandom referred to congoers. Among fanfiction writers fandom usually refers to the online-community. The same in a way among German fans since we don’t have that many conventions and the congoers are such a small subsection of the whole SFF community. Even less can afford to go to WorldCon, especially when WorldCon is once again taking place in the US. And I guess a huge number also don’t see the point in a supporting membership for an award that means squat to them, even though many read books in English, often also books that don’t get translated into German.

    As a German, I have to admit that a lot of this debate smacks of US politics which often leave me completely baffled. This whole left versus right without any middle ground or even the attempt to find a compromise? Not something I’m really all that familiar or for that matter comfortable with.

    When I first started writing there was this dream of one day winning a Hugo and joining the list that includes some of my favorite writers. In the last few years it’s turned more into: ‘Yeah, whatever. US politics and in-fighting. Who cares?’

    It has caused me to not really want to get involved with the whole English-speaking SFF community. It doesn’t stop me from reading, enjoying, or writing SFF but I do often wonder if I want to get involved in the community, especially when it comes across as so toxic and unwelcoming.

    That’s also one of the main reasons why I’m not interested in joining the conversation. The fact that some of the “insider language” is also one I’m not familiar with in addition to missing huge chunks of the history, probably isn’t helping either.

    In Germany the shunning and dismissal of people who like SFF is still going on strong. I’ve even been sneered at and shunned by SF readers for preferring fantasy, go figure. Only Romance is treated worse and as someone who writes both, I’m getting really sick and tired of it. The most important thing is that people read books and that they take something away from it. Does it really matter what kind of books?

    1. I think a lot of folks haven’t adjusted to the internet yet. For decades the only way possible to participate in fandom was by attending conventions. That culture, and it is one, is still there. But with that comes the assumption that people have been participating in a decades long conversation, and that’s unfortunate as it makes newcomers feel excluded.

      1. The internet is definitely a game changer and making the SFF far more international than many people are aware off or comfortable with.

        But I disagree a bit with cons being the only way to participate. I have the feeling that is really far more a US thing.
        I became involved in the SFF community in the late 80s. I joined among other things the Friends of Darkover, the Marecedes Lackey fanclub, and some Germam groups. Most of the participation was via letterzines and fanzines. Due to that I also ended up with a huge number of penfriends many of which I’m still friends with today.

        1. Oh! Sorry. I didn’t mean to say that cons were the only way to participate now, just to explain why I was drawing a distinction between my definition of fandom and the SFF community.

          Also, I think you are totally right about fandom/cons being primarily a US thing. My bad for being US-centric. Again.

          And yes, fanzines are a very important part of the history.

  33. The first story I remember my mother reading to me was about a spaceship preparing to land on a planet, discovering the planet was alive and planned on eating the ship and its crew. I think I was around 3 or 4. No idea the title or author of the story, and I didn’t really understand it, but I ended up in the backyard, poking at the dirt with a stick and trying to make the ground talk to me.

    SFF is important to me and to see someone blackmailing fans and threatening to boggle up awards because their self-identities aren’t being honored by the voting fans of SFF, well, it gives me a headache. I’m willing to read what they’ve written and vote based on merit, but they make it difficult to overlook their behavior. It can be done, but damn…that story my mother read to me reminds me of the current events.

  34. I feel the need to alert you to the conflict of interest here: while you aren’t a finalist for the 2015 Hugos, you are a potential nominee for the 2016 awards, for which these memberships would have nomination votes. Declaring that people aren’t obligated to vote any particular way doesn’t negate that conflict.

    Unfortunately there’s no way to buy memberships that only apply to the 2015 Hugos.

    (the nominee could also benefit even if anonymous by choosing the community the memberships are advertised to wisely, but that is getting more abstract)

    1. Ah. Darn. I hadn’t thought about that. Right… I’ll check with the administrators, but I think you might be right that I’ll wind up needing to decline nominations next year. I did that when I was on the board of SFWA once because of the VP effect.

      Drat. I would be sad, but this is more important. It’s also easier because I already have a Hugo, but still… rockets! Thanks for pointing it out. (And the nominee seriously doesn’t need to consider this. Because that’s way abstract.)

  35. Thanks for this! I’m a BIG fan of Madeline L’Engle’s A WRINKLE IN TIME and Norton Juster’s THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH from my early days of reading. Much more recently, my favorite fantasies have been the SERAPHINA duology by Rachel Hartman and VESSEL/CONJURED by Sarah Beth Durst, while my favorite science fiction has been the Rachel Peng novels by K.B. Spangler, the Parasite series by Mira Grant, and the Ancillary series by Ann Leckie. A shout out does belong to TALKER 25 by Joshua McCune, which is “perhaps a brilliant combination of both.”

      1. I have heard nothing but good things about his genuine kindness. And while I am more than a little jealous of the opportunity (both the production and the meeting – WOW), it’s *always* a pleasure to hear that the artists I love have kind regard for each other. It makes a fannish heart soar.

  36. Good work that you’re doing, Mary Robinette.

    I don’t care for the motivations of people like Vox Day and Torgersen, but it *would* be nice if the Hugo voters remembered those writers who may not be pushing the outside of the envelope, but who do good work for the purpose of entertaining. I nominate them every year. They don’t make it to the finals, but I keep putting their names up.

  37. MRK, I’m so glad you’ve taken the time to write about this.
    And great idea about the 10 membership giveaway.

    It might help to know that a lot of longtime SFF fans and lovers in continental Europe haven’t got a clue about what’s going on here (i.e. the Hugo Controversy), and even some British are puzzled. Not everybody go to Conventions, for reasons of time, money etc.

    To the ones that have asked me questions, my advice was: forget about it, either you’re involved in fandom, and you already know (and by now you’ve had enough of it, like I do), or you’re not, and it’s fine like that. What I’d warmly suggest you to do instead is to buy a supporting membership and vote for what *you* like and *you* think is worth getting a Hugo. Period.

    My favourite piece of SF: my first reading, when I was a kid. Stranger in a Strange Land, in a censured form and in an awful French translation on top of that. But it was enough to hook me forever.

      1. And what age was that? I didn’t read Stranger until I was in my 30’s My early SFF was Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica (the original Glen Larson stuff) series books, Asimov and The Hobbit / LOTR books. I am always looking for good SFF to start my Sons reading and I have no idea when to introduce them to Heinlein.

        1. I suppose I should clarify, since it could go either way. I am talking about the books above, yes the movies and TV shows as well, but specifically I was talking about books like Splinter of the Minds Eye, Han Solo at Stars End, etc. And the Novelizations of the Battlestar Series, which were eventually expanded on by Richard Hatch..

        2. Right age? Difficult to say.
          I was about twelve when I read it and it literally blew my mind. Until then SF to me had only been Star Trek and Japanese manga/anime (not a big fan of Star Wars at that time)…
          Maybe a bit early to catch everything, but it turned me in a die-hard fan overnight. But if your kids read Asimov and LOTR, they’re ready for Heinlein too.

        3. Mary Robinette Kowal – Thanks! They are 16 now, so I think I will get them a copy of it now and see what happens. I have to admit, I didn’t find Starbuck all that attractive, but Serena on the other hand… 😉

          Stephen P. Bianchini – Thanks to you as well. I think my sons at 12 (they are twins) wouldn’t have made it through Stranger. Asimov they have, especially the robot novels. The Hobbit yes, LOTR not yet. You’re right though they should be ready now. Thanks!

        4. Mary Robinette Kowal – The first few of the series consisted of novelizations of episodes though the later ones were original. They seem well written to me, though I am no expert on such things. As far as holding up, they do hold up better than the show does.
          They would almost have to, don’t get me wrong, I love the tv series, I have the DVD set and I have pre-ordered the blu-ray’s, but it is definitely a product of the 70’s. The books are much less dated than the show is. The Richard Hatch novels have a more modern feel to them, but the most recent one was published in 2005 so, they are much more modern than the original books, which ended in 1987. Since you like the show I would recommend you try them. I re-read them every few years, though I re-watch the series every year.

  38. I’m afraid I find this affair mildly amusing. I’ve been a fan for most of my 50 years, and these sort of reactionary actions just make a fandom look immature. Remember, this is speculative fiction. If it doesn’t make you a little uncomfortable, then the writer probably missed his mark.

    I had been thinking of adding WorldCon to my list of events, but I go to conventions for fun. I get enough politics elsewhere.

    Anyway, thanks for keeping me informed Mary, and let us know if there are constructive ways to resolve this where we can help.

  39. Intuition tells me that if lot of people are responding positively to the message of the Sad Puppies, it’s because they love stories where super-awesome spaceships get into dogfights with totally badass dragons and would like to feel like those are recognized for their merits, not because those people are racist or homophobic. Most of them. I hope.

    Which is a better film: Annie Hall or Star Wars? That’s the question you had to answer if you got to vote in the 1978 Academy Awards despite the sense that it’s kind of non-sensical.

    I can’t imagine I’m the first person to think we should have genre (or in this case sub-genre) categories. Of course this will lead to its own set of arguments as some will be against categories entirely while others will want categories for everything right down to Best Secondary World Steampunk Vampire Romance Told In Multiple POV First Person Present Tense. But just how many sub-genre categories we should have, and what they should be, would be a fascinating intellectual debate for us all, and a heck of a lot more enjoyable to argue over than the current unpleasantness.

    1. The problem with having subgenre categories is that the Hugos have a strong tradition of not creating categories that would allow the same work to be eligible for several of them. That’s why it’s been impossible so far to get them to accept the “Best YA novel” category, because determining whether a novel is YA or not can be a bit subjective, and what to do if people vote for a novel in several different categories?

  40. Protest Manager

    “The next thing I’ve become aware of — and I want to thank everyone who has already come by to share their experience — is that people who identify as Sad Puppies are frequently coming from outside of fandom, while being firmly part of the SFF community.”

    Depends on how you define “fandom”. A good chunk of us attend cons, we just don’t, or no longer, do Worldcon. Often because the political environment at Worldcon has made it not with the time and money.

      1. But Protest Manager has a point: according to your definition, people who do not attend WorldCon but do attend other fan run conventions are part of fandom.

        But anyway, sorry for being pedantic. What I wanted to say is that among so much vitriol and hate speech from all sides, it’s always nice to see people who can still talk in a reasonable and tolerant manner. I particularly appreciated your saying that liking something different isn’t bad behavior. I would also say that, as long as you treat people with respect, having different political ideas is not bad behavior, and no one should be excluded or ostracized for that.

        I’m not a frequent visitor to your blog. I just got here reading about the Hugo controversy. But since I’m here I’ll also take the opportunity to tell you that I enjoyed how you out-rothfussed Pat Rothfuss. It was very cunning of you.

        1. Oh, I’d agree. I don’t think that attending WorldCon is necessary to be a part of fandom. It’s not financially possible for a lot of people. But the fannish community being what it is, there is still a culture that extends among different cons. They each have their own flavours, like different cities, but still part of one big kingdon.

      2. Protest Manager

        Well, not having the Toastmaster get fired because some people are worried he might tell an “inappropriate” joke would be a good place to start.

        Not having a massive “No Award” push, and having people simply vote based on quality of work would be a big positive.

        I’ve heard lots of people rant about how much they hate racism and sexism. How racism and sexism are not welcome at Worldcon Then I read a “Worldcon respected” author who said (s)he was going to attempt to go a year without reading anything written by a “white heterosexual cis male”.

        Do I really need to point out how blatantly racist and sexist that is? If you’re going to exclude people for “creating a welcoming environment”, but let someone like that in, you’ve just created a very unwelcoming environment for a large part of fandom.

        Now, I’m a big boy. I can handle interacting with people who disagree with me, or say things I don’t like, or hold beliefs I think wrong, and think my beliefs are wrong. So I’d be perfectly happy with a free for all.

        But a hostile ideological monoculture that’s hostile to my beliefs? No thanks.

        Oh, IMHO it’s silly of you to refuse to accept a nomination next year. Simply promise to check with the Hugo committee, and ask if you got at least X nominations more than the 6th place individual, where X is the number of memberships you give out. If yes, you accept, if no, you don’t.

        1. I don’t believe that someone wishing to expand what they read is racist or sexist. Several people–authors and otherwise–made similar pledges. I made a modified version myself. Going “hmm, most of what I read is by straight white men, let me delve into some new stuff with new viewpoints” does not mean “I hate straight white men.”

          Also, racism against white people isn’t a thing, etc.

        2. Also, racism against white people isn’t a thing, etc

          I’m going to jump in here to steer this conversation before it keeps going. Why? Because the way that’s phrased, with the “etc” implies that this is stuff everyone should know. For people who have not been part of the racism conversation, this isn’t obvious and is actually counter-intuitive. So even though I completely agree with you, if this conversation is going to happen then we need to be careful — on both sides — about not using internal jargon.

          Before you expand on this, Amber, I want to make sure that Protest Manager is interested in having that part of the conversation.

          Protest Manager? You brought up concerns about racism. Are you certain you want to shift from talking about fiction to talking about racism?

          And I want to be really, really clear to anyone jumping in that I expect a conversation not a debate. This is not about winning, this is about understanding and listening other people’s perspectives.

  41. I had my own little rant about this subject- I think a good chunk of the issue lies in the reality that “fandom” only means those people who go to classic SF/F cons, and there’s no effort to increase awareness of the Hugos outside of “fandom” and actually reach “fans”. The SP people took the outreach and wider audience that Worldcon and “fandom” could have been spreading the word to, and used it for nefarious purposes.

    1. I agree that we need to be doing a better job of outreach.

      May I ask that you be careful with the word “nefarious?” Because I think most of the SP folks are genuinely excited about SFF, and casting them as villains doesn’t help with outreach. There are those, in Rabid Puppies, who have baldly stated that they just want to salt the earth. So, you know, game on.

      1. Good point about the general masses of SP. I think the word does apply to the people who actually started the movement- they seem pretty up front about the damage they think they’re going to cause.

  42. Thank you for writing about this Mary. I get very frustrated that things like this happen but I guess the best thing I can do is go quietly have my say by voting.

  43. I was in the audience when you got that Hugo – and for your fantastic Writing Costume and Clothing panel. Of all the panels that’s the one I can most easily remember useful points from.

    Almost sorry to bring it up – but I felt awkwardly obliged.

  44. You just nudged me into checking out supporting memberships of Sasquan because for obvious reasons I would love to vote this year. I am puzzled to discover that for international supporting memberships it’s $50 rather than $40. I could understand the extra in the days when things had to be sent by post, but in these days of (hello) email and downloading, why does it cost me $10 more than a USian to vote? I’m perfectly happy to receive all my paperwork in pdf format.

    If I was intending to attend it would cost me $40 extra (not to mention transatlantic plane fare). Why the penalty for ‘outsiders’? Isn’t this the WORLD SF convention?

    I’m supporting Helsinki in 2017 and Dublin in 2019. Another good reason for voting.

  45. Thank you so much for this thread and the offer. It is nice to feel like I am included in the general group of SFF fans (I used to be involved in fandom, but a long period of being, ahem, underemployed has changed that). I have read so much about the sad/rabid puppies lately and my attempts to get a better understanding of both sides have been rather frustrating. When I have gotten responses, they have tended to be rather dismissive, insulting and/or condescending (and responses have been very rare to start with).

    It is great to see someone (or a group of someones) trying to bring about some balance and clear air..

    Thank you again.

  46. Michael J. "Orange Mike" Lowrey

    As a historian, I do want to clarify one thing. Historically, SF fandom was centered in the fanzines, constantly refreshed by names culled from the letter columns of the prozines. Conventions were rare and widely scattered, whereas a letter cost less than a dime to mail, and fanzines could easily be printed and mailed for much less than a quarter-dollar. If you lived in a big enough town, this was bolstered and enlarged by local SF clubs, at least one (LASFS) still extant today.

    Starting in the 1960s, and more in the 1970s, conventions became more common, but these sprang from the local fandoms (both club and fanzine), and carried on the same conversation, with many of the same participants still around. This conversation in turn (for those unable or unwilling to attend conventions in the flesh, or just wanting more doses of that fannish pleasure) shifted gradually from paper fanzines to online venues, from Usenet and e-mail lists to LiveJournal (and individual blogs) to Facebook. But all these were carrying on the same conversation, and some of the participants remained the same or were the spiritual heirs of the same conversants. We are all the heirs of Bob Tucker, of Forrest J Ackerman, of Jan Howard Finder, of Rusty Hevelin and Lee Hoffman, of Robert Bloch and Morojo, of John Boardman and Harry Warner, Jr., of Terry Carr and Russ Chauvenet and Vin¢ Clarke and Bob Shaw and Jan Howard Finder and Ross Pavlac and Ken Moore and Dean Grennell, of Samuel Edward Konkin III and Steig Larsson (yes, he was One of Us), of Judith Merril and Sam Moskovitz and Ray Palmer, of Frederik Pohl, of Tom Reamy and Bill Rotsler, of Damon Knight and Julie Schwartz, of Donald A. Wollheim. Some of them became pros; some remained “only” fans. But every time you argue about Hugo selection, or use the term “space opera”, or deprecate the use of the horrible neologism “sci-fi” or otherwise celebrate this wonderful thing we enjoy, you ARE part of that conversation, whether you ever get to a con or not. And you are part of science fiction fandom.

    Some of the puppies are fuggheads of fandom (the fuggheads, we have with us always); but sadly, they have started to bring in allies: mercenaries and meat-puppets who are not now nor have they ever been part of that conversation, and don’t even understand that it ever existed.

    1. Orange Mike –

      (Is there a Tangerine Mike, or a Lemon Mike? Curious minds are v. curious…)

      But every time you [snip] otherwise celebrate this wonderful thing we enjoy, you ARE part of that conversation, whether you ever get to a con or not. And you are part of science fiction fandom.

      While we’re defining things…Where does RPGs such as D&D fall into this?

        1. Greatness! What about FPS games like Mass Effect, Halo and Assassin’s Creed? (My brother is really into those…)

        2. Michael J. "Orange Mike" Lowrey

          The original RPG, D&D, was created by war-game fans who also read fantasy, but were mostly not members of SF fandom. While the fields have always overlapped (I was brought into RPGs by fandom, and like many Wisconsin SF fans wrote or worked for TSR in its heyday), gaming has gone its own way for decades now.

        3. Thank you for your reply Orange Mike!

          gaming has gone its own way for decades now

          That’s an…interesting distinction, and I’m not sure how accurate it is. Especially with tie-in novels of all sorts, things like TWD (which is comics, tv, a FPS game, and novels) and the overlap in fic fandom and cosplay.

          I’d encourage people to rethink the idea that gaming fandom is somehow distinctly separate from SFF fandom. To this fan, that seems…off.

        4. Michael J. "Orange Mike" Lowrey

          Assuming that by TWD you mean The Walking Dead: that was (ISTR) a comic first, then a TV show, then a game was made from it, and there may be novelizations by now that I haven’t noticed because I DON’T LIKE ZOMBIES in fiction or otherwise. But it is a media franchise now, and discussion of it would be more fruitful in the context of discussion of media fandom than gaming fandom.

          As I understand it from game designers, true FPS purists don’t like content with complex backstories and stuff to remember (besides keystroke sequences): they just like to kill stuff in full color, with great sound effects, and don’t see why we fail to understand their distress when things get complicated. Who ever tried to do a novelization of Q-BERT?

        5. Orange Mike –

          Yes, I meant The Walking Dead (TWD), sorry – one does get into these sub-fandoms and then forgets not everyone is, doesn’t one?

          (*My* part of TWD fandom is media, but there are comic fans who exclude the media parts, just as Tolkien fandom includes people who don’t watch any of the Jackson movies.)

          I am not a true FPS purist, and I won’t claim to speak for all of them, but I am told that MMO FPS (mass-multiplayer online) are like SCA melee battles, only with button pushing instead of foam-padded swords. Many of those (Call of Duty, Modern Warfare, etc) seem to be more modern-day, non-sff settings, too.

          I was actually talking far more of things like StarCraft, Half-Life, Halo, Mass Effect, Assassain’s Creed, and Borderlands, (among many others) which have more intricate characters, complex storylines and some blowing things up. And have tie-in novels, and loads of cosplay.

          As for Q*Bert…well, it’s not a very big fandom, true. But at FFnet, Wreck-it Ralph has over 25 hundred stories posted, including a couple short stories strictly about Qbert. The Pacman game, OTOH, has its own section, over 40 stories (in multiple languages) and a novella.

          We are fans, we will get crazy enthusiastic about ANYTHING.

    2. Thanks for mentioning fanzines. That was my step into the fannish community. From fanzines I too moved on the mailing lists and then livejournal. I’m still trying to get comfortable with tumblr.

      Cons were never really on my radar, US cons even less so (too far away and too expensive).

      1. Michael J. "Orange Mike" Lowrey

        Daniela: media-fandom fanzines, although like all the rest of media fandom arose out of traditional fandom, have always occupied a different role in that fandom. The only really universal con specifically for media fans to be themselves across all boundaries of show and method of fanning, is MediaWest in Michigan. It is sort of the WorldCon of media fandom, and I suspect would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a media-oriented fan like yourself. I hope you get to one someday; if you do, say “Hi!” to Cicatrice my wife of some 34 years, who will be there without me.

        1. MediaWest is on my wishlist in case I every win the lottery and feel like braving international flights 🙂 and the hassle of immigration.

          Although, I wasn’t only talking about multi media fandoms and fanzines but also about zines which we in Germany called fanzines that published original short stories by various writers. Some of these zines were simply SFF, some had specific themes (high fantasy, vampires) or where shared worlds.
          I guess they came into being because Germany doesn’t really have that much of a shorty story culture and there simply were (and still are) no short story magazines like the ones you can find in the US (Asimov, Analog, Magazines of SF&F, etc). It was a way to share shorter works and reach an audience, maybe even make friends. These zines also often included a secion that held Letters of Comments on the previous issues.

          I really need to be a bit more aware of the fact that we Germans tend to adopt English words and then change the meaning to serve our purpuses. I always forget that in the heat of the moment even though I earn my living as a translator.

        2. Michael J. "Orange Mike" Lowrey

          Originally in science fiction fandom, “fan fiction” was original SF by fans published in fanzines rather than prozines. It is only since the 1970s that “fan fiction” has come to mean SF based on the works of other people.

          Zines of the sort you describe, containing original SF by fans, have been around as long as other fanzines in the U.S.; but in the U.S., “fan fiction” in that original sense was almost never the primary role of a fanzine, since the argument was that one should be polishing that fiction if it’s any good, and selling it to the pro markets. It should be noted that people like H. P. Lovecraft did have fiction in fanzines, especially early in their careers.

  47. Hello Mrs. Kowal,

    My name is Samuel Roberts, and I’m a writer for gaming and news site I’m writing an article, and I had some questions about your decision to purchase large numbers of Hugo supporting memberships for your fans. As of last count the total number of memberships you’re offering is 45, which at the $40 rate for supporting memberships, comes out to almost two thousand dollars. This is, I’m sure you’ll agree, a significant financial outlay. You’ve stated that this is not “vote buying” because you “are in no way constraining how (the person whose voting rights you purchased) nominates or votes. However, it’s very rare that someone spends that much money out of the goodness of their heart, especially when there are alternative motives.

    First, do you feel that it’s appropriate to give large gifts to potential voters in the Hugo elections? The Hugo reading packet, which all voters receive, is an item of considerable value. As I’m sure you’re aware, these packets often contain all the nominated works, and for best novel often contain the entire series a nominated work belongs to. For example, last year’s packet contained the entire 14 volume Wheel Of Time series, which goes for $116 new on Amazon. Since Jim Butcher’s Skin Game has been nominated this year, there’s a good chance that this year’s packet will contain the entire Dresden Files, which would likely cost even more to purchase. Do you feel that voters who have been given such large gifts can be trusted to vote independently?

    Second, you’ve written that the funding for a large portion of these free memberships are coming from the nominees themselves. Do you feel it’s appropriate for a nominee to give these memberships away like that, when they have a vested financial interest in the outcome of the elections? There’s a reason you prominently describe yourself on your front page as a Hugo winner: it sends a message to potential readers that they should buy your books. Even if you aren’t telling your readers how to vote specifically, given the state of the slate this year (With Sad Puppies-promoted books comprising large numbers of the nominated works), and the demographics of your site (Which are not, to say the least, Sad-Puppies friendly), it must be obvious to the authors purchasing these memberships that many of the votes are going to go to them. Even if you’re not outright telling the people whose voting rights you purchased how to vote, do you agree that these authors are likely to experience a net gain of votes via the memberships they’re buying?

    Even the initial 10 memberships you promised amount to a $400 expenditure. This is a large amount of cash, especially for a lower-midlist author. (Your book coming out later this month, “Of Noble Family”, ranks #168,237 on Amazon, and the one before it “Valour and Vanity”, ranks #78,709) I notice your publisher is Tor, which has for many years had a lock on the Hugo awards. This $400; was it coming from you, or your publisher?

    My last question is one of fairness. It is well known that the original founder of Sad Puppies, Larry Corriea, and the man behind the Rabid Puppies slate, Vox Day, are men of considerable financial means. Do you feel it would be appropriate for them to offer to purchase Hugo voting rights for members of their site?

    Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing your answers. I want to make sure to give my readers a balanced perspective on this issue, and I don’t want to write an article without giving you a chance to respond. I look forward to hearing what you have to say.

    Thank you,
    Samuel Roberts

    1. Thank you for dropping by Mr. Roberts.

      May I ask for the courtesy of seeing your article before it goes live? Sometimes quotes are misleading out of context, and I just want to be sure I’m being clear.

      First, do you feel that it’s appropriate to give large gifts to potential voters in the Hugo elections?

      I think it would be a conflict of interest if I had anything in the running. My current plan is to decline nominations next year, to avoid conflict of interest since these memberships will allow people to nominate next year as well. When it was just ten memberships, I felt like it wasn’t big enough to sway anyone, but forty-five absolutely could form a block and I think it would be unethical of me to take advantage of that.

      Do you feel that voters who have been given such large gifts can be trusted to vote independently?

      Absolutely. Science-fiction and fantasy readers are smart, and if you’ve spent any time with them, getting a consensus is like herding cats.

      Second, you’ve written that the funding for a large portion of these free memberships are coming from the nominees themselves. Do you feel it’s appropriate for a nominee to give these memberships away like that, when they have a vested financial interest in the outcome of the elections?

      That’s why they are donating anonymously, so that they don’t inadvertently influence the outcome.

      There’s a reason you prominently describe yourself on your front page as a Hugo winner: it sends a message to potential readers that they should buy your books. Even if you aren’t telling your readers how to vote specifically, given the state of the slate this year (With Sad Puppies-promoted books comprising large numbers of the nominated works), and the demographics of your site (Which are not, to say the least, Sad-Puppies friendly), it must be obvious to the authors purchasing these memberships that many of the votes are going to go to them. Even if you’re not outright telling the people whose voting rights you purchased how to vote, do you agree that these authors are likely to experience a net gain of votes via the memberships they’re buying?

      No, I don’t agree. Since there’s at least one SadPuppy among the donors, I feel fairly confident that they are aware that this is attempting to be impartial. I’m also avoiding stating any preferences about any of the nominees.

      This $400; was it coming from you, or your publisher?

      It is coming from me.

      Do you feel it would be appropriate for them to offer to purchase Hugo voting rights for members of their site?

      I don’t think it would be appropriate for Vox Day, since he is a nominee and his publishing house has several nominees as well. Larry has already said that he will decline future nominations that avoids conflict of interest. I think that if he makes a similar offer, and doesn’t make suggestions about who to vote for, that it would be a generous offer.

      Thank you for your questions.

  48. Thank you for all you’re doing to be a part of the solution and to help spread the good of fandom and fans around. I’ve been following this situation for most of the last four years and while often you can find blogs on both sides of the issue which are well stated, it’s not often that the comments don’t disintegrate into unnecessary meanness. It’s really nice to see folks talking in a reasoned way, and I love the glimpses of how people got started in being fans and fandom.

    My very first SFF books were in elementary school where I was too awkward and too smart for a girl and never quite fit in. And reading Tolkien and Asimov and even the silly Star Wars tie in novel introduced so many worlds where it was all about fitting in and being accepted and even heroic. I went to my first con at 17 and found folks that were ‘my’ tribe of people. It didn’t matter that we didn’t like all of the same stuff, but there was enough cross over and enough of the same passions that it didn’t matter. Years later I married my own wonderful nerd and we’re raising three nerdlings.

    And I’m really glad you joined the Writing Excuses crew. I think it adds a lot to have the unique perspective of both a woman and a performing artist. 🙂

  49. I just wanted to comment that I think this is wonderful what you and others are doing. It’s important fandom remains vital and diverse, and I applaud your efforts.

  50. I purchased a supporting membership for my niece, no strings attached. I urge everyone to get your younger relatives involved. Just because they don’t read the same novels you do, it doesn’t mean they aren’t Fen.

    What I would like to see is some poetic justice.

    In August after the full list of nominees is published I would like to see an Anthology of all those works that were nominated but were crowded out by the puppy slate. I would PRE-PAY for that anthology and expect the publisher to pay the authors because I think it only correct that we fans get to see what we’ve been denied.

    1. May I? I just want to gently remind folks that the word “fan” applies to all of us. So a lot of fans ARE getting to see the fiction they wanted on the ballot and have felt like they were denied in the past.

      That said… it could be an interesting anthology.

      1. Reasonably Neutral Observer

        That. That right there. That is the kind of response that will either convince the SP (nothing will convince the RP) that fandom is as open as it claims to be after some initial shock, or cause them to reveal their true colors as wreckers.

        I personally think the vast majority of them are *not* wreckers, and being treated like this will greatly mollify them. But if I’m wrong, reacting poorly to this kind of response will provide the proof.

  51. I completely forgot to recommen some of my favorite bits of SFF.

    Of the books I’ve read lately I really enjoyed Anja Bagus – Aetherhertz (German Steampunk, unfortunately only available in German) and Erika Johansen – Queen of the Tearling (I can’t wait for book number 2 to come out).

    Despite the controversy surrounding MZB, Darkover still holds a very special place in my heart. I really loved this mix of fantasy and sf elements.

    The very first story that I actually finished was a Darkover fanfiction. I’d been playing around with ideas before and writing scenes and stuff but never finished anything until then. The friends I made via the German Darkover club were also very supportive and encouraging where my writing attempts were concerned.

    One of the first SF books I read were actually comics, namely the Valerian & Laureline comics by Jean-Claude Mézières und Pierre Christin. I actually found the in the children’s section of our local library. Not that they should have been there considering the content, but that shows you the attitude of Germans towards comics in the early 80s (not that it has changed all that much).

  52. Thank you for this thoughtful conversation; I think we need more of them.

    One thing which really stands out for me about this latest debacle is that people are still being shanghaied willy nilly onto these slates; I had hoped that, after last year’s disgraceful episode with Howard Taylor’s
    ‘Schlock Mercenary’, they would at least fix that bit.

    Obviously I was overly optimistic; I have sadly come to the conclusion that some of the people behind this really don’t care who they hurt; it’s the hurting that they enjoy.

    I love Ursula Vernon’s ‘Digger’, which richly deserved its Hugo, and I love Howard Taylor’s ‘Schlock Mercenary,’ which I would love to see winning the Hugo.

    According to the Puppies I can’t possibly want that to happen, due to stuff, but I do want it to happen.

    The Puppies, sad or rabid, seem to have decided that apartheid is the way forward; card carrying socialist feminists like myself are allocated to the wombat regions, and thus are not allowed to venture into the territory reserved for manly men who enjoy stories about intergalactic mercenary groups, with a sociopathic amorph in a leading role.

    My view is ‘to hell with that’; I decide whether I like something or not, and I refuse to let apartheid creep in to my life and those of others, under the smokescreen so helpfully, and, I believe, intentionally provided by the Puppies

  53. This is mostly going to be a response to the title of your blog, “Talk with me about being a fan of science fiction and fantasy”. I don’t have a very significant point to make here, but believe I have a viewpoint which resonates a little bit with your “Become more inclusive” point, and which I haven’t yet really seen represented in the few outskirts of this discussion I’ve come across (though Daniela’s reply above – – has similarities, and feels very familiar to me). I consider you one of the good folks, so the more negative feelings which might shine through here are mostly going to be addressed to hypothetical long-standing fandom-members which I consider to be somewhat responsible for the current situation. (And I’m using “fandom” throughout my response here as you define it, though, as Daniela, also know it in another way.)

    I’m a science fiction (and fantasy) reader (“fan, in your terminology). Been so ever since I idly picked up my father’s copy of “I, Robot” back when I was 12. Devoured everything in the library during my teenage years (ah, for the time to read a book a day), started earning money, started buying far too many (not nearly enough) books with it. I have a (rather large) wall of overflowing bookcases at home, have a willingness to try out authors I know nothing about, and have been the go-to person for book recommendations for my circle of friends, both online and offline, for close to 20 years now. I’ve been heavily involved and respected in various online SFF-related communities, have been well-acquainted (to not abuse the word “friends”) with several big name authors, and have even attended two cons (one in the USA, one in Australia).

    I’m not part of fandom, and have no desire to be. Fandom feels neither inclusive nor welcoming to me.

    My position on the Hugos is that they’re pretty flawed, but still the most “useful” award to have around, and worth paying attention to. (But I’m also paying attention to the controversies, and discounting Hugo nominations where it’s justified.) They are, however, very much not “my” award. Yes, I could easily afford the supporting membership and let my vote count, and urge all of my friends to do the same, but that would just be going the sad puppy route; instead, what I’d want, is for fandom to organically grow and become something I could identify with, which would become part of the culture of the SFF readers I see all around me, rather than feeling like some insular clique far off in the USA.

    I feel completely opposed to the puppies’ desire to deliberately subvert the process (not to mention to their politics) – but somewhere I can kinda understand where the “well-meaning” voters who support them are coming from. I’ve seen many of these blogposts where fandom-members are self-congratulatory referring to how fandom has always been so welcoming and inclusive, and that this is worth preserving; but that is not at all the impression I’ve been left with here at the fringes. Fandom, to me, has always appeared inward-looking, only interested in itself rather than in the wider world of _all_ SFF readers. I’ve never before put it into words, but trying to now, “smug superiority” is a phrase which comes to mind when describing fandom. (Note, I have no arguments or references; just trying to express the _feeling_ I’ve been left with from my entire online history of reading newsgroup, forum and blog posts from self-identifying fandom-members. Consider this a single signal from the outside. Where I strongly suspect that most of the people I talk about SFF with feel exactly the same.)

    Groups of SFF readers I identify with, when being told the favorite author of someone just starting out in SFF, would respond with recommendations for lesser known authors with some similarities; they would together geek out over their favorite parts of the books. Fandom-members, as I know them, would instead respond with scorn for that author. (That’s almost certainly completely untrue and unfair, and based just on author-bashing which was not precipitated by a new reader mentioning that author – but it shows how negativity lingers and colors perceptions, particularly when no one in a community counteracts it.)

    I just found out that in the history of Worldcon, it’s been organized three times in non-English-speaking countries. Three. 1970 (Germany), 1990 (Netherlands), 2007 (Japan). That’s two more than I had expected, but all the same about as disgraceful as I suspected, particularly for the last 15+ years of the online age where reaching out to the rest of the world of SFF readers should have been superbly doable. And I think this is indeed exactly where things are lacking. Outreach. There is so much good SFF being written, and there are so many people reading it and talking about it. But they’re not generally being invited to the conversation. Maybe it’s just bad expectation management for something calling itself the “*World* Science Fiction Convention”, but some systematic way of reaching out to the bigger world would not have been amiss. And sure, now that there’s controversy and need, new blood is actively being invited in, but I have yet to see any indication that this will last beyond the current flareup.

    I’m not part of fandom, and have no desire to be. Fandom feels neither inclusive nor welcoming to me.
    But I’d love for that to change.

    Good luck for now getting the sad puppy slate voters to integrate in the community, and/or to see the futility of their actions. I’ll be paying attention from the sidelines to see if at any point I can start to identify with any of it.

    (Oh, and always and forever David Zindell’s Requiem for Homo Sapiens, for the sublime poetry of his prose, and for the way he managed to bend my mind out of shape. And Pat Rothfuss for the quiet beauty of The Slow Regard of Silent Things, possibly (startlingly so) even more than for the warm self-deprecating humor which first made me love The Name of the Wind. And Jo Walton for scaring me beyond expectation in Farthing. And KSR for first making me want to go to Antarctica. And, and, and…)

    1. Man… We like all the same books.

      What can we do to make it feel more welcoming? What you describe is totally unacceptable, but I know it happens sometimes.

      I just found out that in the history of Worldcon, it’s been organized three times in non-English-speaking countries

      YES! I’m in COMPLETE agreement that WorldCon needs to go more out into the world.

  54. First off, while I lean toward the Sad Puppies campaign, I would like to re-iterate one thing. NOBODY TELLS ME WHAT I CAN AND CANNOT READ!

    Nobody has the right to tell you either. I realize that M. Kowal has taken the gentle approach here, but I think a harder reminder is needed. Think about the very idea that some people are saying that certain parts of SF&F aren’t worthy, then go back and read the cautionary tale of Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” Then read it again and let that sink in real good. Do we really wish to let our favorite genre of fiction go down that path? Once we start banning the books of our OWN community and ALL SF&F are a community, we are doomed.

    And for those on a pure equality bent, I suggest you dig up a copy of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr’s “Harrison Bergeron” and read it and see where your path truly leads.

    I find it very sad that we have so quickly forgotten the cautionary tales of our own favorite genre, forgotten where these dark, stifling paths lead to.

    We are not all the same and we never will be. Because the moment we are, we have stopped being human and become something less. So please, look back at our roots and remember that the true path forward doesn’t include forcing people into lockstep.


  55. Debbie Bretschneider

    A lot of praise for your post with my friends on Facebook and I agree. My current favorite author is Gail Carriger, Prudence is her newest book. It is a funny Victorian steampunk novel with a hint of romance, not traditional science fiction.

    1. I must admit I really like Gail Carriger. Not only do I have her books for my kindle but I have them on Audible as well. My wife and I listen to them while driving.

      I must say I do miss the themes of some of the earlier SF. Exploration of new worlds and new dangers, or even nearby worlds and dangers. I managed to buy Andy Weir’s “The Martian” when it was $0.99 on Amazon, and I’m glad they are making a movie of it but I’m saddened that Matt Damon is going to play the main character. If you have read the book, I’m sure you can agree he’s not the best fit. (Or don’t agree, that’s fine. I will see it either way:p) I really and truly believe the perfect actor to play that character is the guy from Shaun of the Dead and the new Scotty on the rebooted Star Trek. He would be HILARIOUS.


      If it wasn’t for our 40% paycut due to the price of oil, I’d probably pay the $40 for a membership to vote on the hugo’s, but right now it’s just not possible. I’ve had to cut back on all my entertainment, even books right now. I’ll happily forgo new books if it takes some stress off my wife on the money side right now.

      Hey, how do you know you’re what they /really/ mean by the term ‘avid reader’?

      Because New Book>new game>new movie>tv series>pretty much anything else.

      1. Oh! If you like Gail Carriger AND you like tales of exploration, then I highly recommend Marie Brennan’s A NATURAL HISTORY OF DRAGONS, which is really fantastic. Secondary world fantasy that feels like a travel adventure memoir from the 1800s. AND dragons.

        I LOVE these books.

  56. It shouldn’t matter, but since it does, I state I am a cis-female white woman with a Bachelor’s of Science. I have been reading science fiction and fantasy for pleasure since I was maybe 7 or so. That’s about when I think I picked up the Narnia Chronicles. I read more or less at random from the sad, slim science fiction and fantasy shelf at my local library and read through the young adult scifi series Animorphs brought to me through the Scholastic catalog. When the first couple of books came out for Harry Potter, Harry and I were the same age. So I read and read and read like a freight train but I didn’t read any kind of organized way. And then college hit and my focus shifted more toward videogames, although I read Sandman for the first time then.

    After college and after starting my first job, I rescued my decaying reading habit by using the Kindle app on my phone. The first thing I did when starting a list of things I wanted to read was to go to the Wikipedia page for Hugo Award-winning novels. I didn’t necessarily read every one, but figured that they had to be there for some reason. I have never bought a Hugo membership, but I do often follow up with the list of winners and nominees.

    As to what I like? I like new things. I like reading about people who are different than me, but are also in many ways the same because we are both human. I often find it easier to understand the feel of a historical era or another culture by encountering it through fiction. If I wanted to read books about a white, married, woman American, I’d read more literary fiction (although much of it is quite good!).

    I want entertaining and thought-provoking. I want to explore the implications of technology or magic and see possible societies that are set up differently than my own. I want plot, character, worldbuilding, *and* the novel factor, the new idea, ideally. I want it all. I don’t think that’s unreasonable.

    I wouldn’t mind less grimdark and more gender-egalitarian societies, but that’s a personal taste thing, not a edict.

  57. First, I love new people and new fans, so thank you for making fandom more inclusive. Since it came up in the comments above, I’d like to note that the Hugo Voter Packet is by no means guaranteed. It is a lot of work by volunteers and is only available by virtue of publishers providing the content for which they own the copyright. Purchasing supporting memberships for anyone (yourself or others) has no guarantees value above the $40 it costs.

  58. The way the Hugo’s are decided needs to be changed. Perhaps only people who attend Worldcon should vote?

    One thing for sure rather than try to buy more and more supporting memberships to compete for votes is incentive for the process to remain broken. The controversy is going to make more money for Worldcon in the short term but will ruin the Hugo awards in the long run. If instead people boycotted the Con there would be more reason to try to stop the politics in voting.

    Now a Hugo award on the cover of a book is a slander and not a prestige. I don’t think it is going to help books sales or the authors who receive them anymore.

    The idea that we should all just buy memberships for a convention we are not attending to give fandom some integrity is ridiculous. The people responsible for Worldcon and the Hugo Awards should have fixed this before it got out of control. Rewarding this by buying more memberships is just inspiration for other organizations and is ultimately damaging to fandom.

    1. The way the Hugo’s are decided needs to be changed. Perhaps only people who attend Worldcon should vote?

      The problem is, that a lot of people can’t afford to attend the convention. It winds up limiting the voting pool to only the affluent.

      One thing for sure rather than try to buy more and more supporting memberships to compete for votes is incentive for the process to remain broken.

      I believe that you are mistaken. This is based on years of looking at rules for the Nebulas (which aren’t the same) and spending a lot of time looking at results for other awards and processes. The key to making a system with an Australian ballot to work is a large voting pool. The smaller the pool, the easier it is to game it. The larger, the more robust.

      This is why it’s relatively easy to game it to get on the ballot in short fiction, but really, really hard to game it to win. More people vote than nominate.

  59. I don’t think anyone on the SP side hates fandom. They do hate a subset of fandom, that subset that takes the very public and loud position that if you don’t agree with them then you are an evil thing that doesn’t deserve to exist. Requires Hate is a perfect example of what they are opposed to. The thing they see as significant about RH isn’t the behavior, but rather that the behavior was encouraged as long as it targeted “the right” people, and it was only opposed when it “went over the line” to target “the wrong people”

    Vox and his promises to destroy the hugos if “no award” wins this year is not part of SP, but if “no award” does win across the board, expect that SP will only become more vocal and will force the issue again next year. How many years can the Hugos go “no award” and survive?

    The way to combat the SP is to judge the nominations based on what’s in them, not who wrote them. Mary has the right idea to sit down and start reading all the works (I disagree that it’s ever right to stop at the title/author page, you should at least read the first page or first chapter before judging the quality of a work)

    Show that you can be fair in judging works and that the people who are claiming that because something was nominated by people they dislike, that work is junk are a tiny minority. Then next year, get out the vote and everyone nominate what you think is good.

    am I a SP? I nominated some things that are on the SP slate, some things that aren’t, and didn’t nominate other things that are on the slate.

    Back before Borders went under, every couple of months I would go there and spend a couple hours going through the entire Sci-Fi section looking for new/interesting books to read and end up spenindg $500+ on paperbacks (a very small number of authors are worth spending hardcover money on, but not many).

    But I have never attended a book convention.

  60. Michael Jennings

    Well said Mary.
    So many use the Hugo’s as a list of what’s good in Sci-Fi, and are unaware of what a particular ballot years subtext is. I was one of those until the last few years.
    I can understand where some of the sad puppies sentiment comes from, “we hate change”, and “ugh I bought this entire collection of short stories and every story deals with a view point I disagree with.” However from the Slate article I feel one of their tenants “The book has a spaceship on the cover, but is it really going to be a story about space exploration and pioneering derring-do? Or is the story merely about racial prejudice and exploitation…” ultimately is where I find issue with them. All truly good SCi-Fi & Fantasy has always been issue driven. Sure there are standalone, dungeon romps, and space chases that are fantastic and seem to not have an issue at the core, but go back to the classics, Clark, Asimov, Bradbury, Wells, Tolkien, Lewis, Vern. for that matter back to Gulliver’s Travels by Swift and it is very issue driven. Sometimes it is like an ogre and is buried under layers, but it is there (yes even Star Wars has a message). I like stuff that makes me think, but not everyone does and that’s ok. And what makes me think may not be what someone else will ponder over as well.
    As you said fandom is very very big. I think some of what is happening is we are still adjusting to the geek is now cool phenomenon. What were once very insular fiercely protective communities (often with good reason), have now bumped into each other and where we would have once found common ground from a perceived outside threat, we’re turning on each other as the outside now wants to join us.
    I sincerely hope that there isn’t a year with out the Hugo’s and that as a fan community we can see that every author has a message, and if the story that is crafted around the message is truly outstanding, then it deserves to be recognized even if we disagree.

    1. I recognized none of the supposed Sad Puppy sentiments on that list.

      Science fiction is idea driven… that makes it even more necessary, even vital, to oppose any efforts to limit those ideas to a very short list of what is acceptable.

      Story has to carry the Idea… so “story comes first”… is not a manifesto against ideas in science fiction nor a demand that a Story not have a Message.

  61. my post above was a esponse to Ian’s post about being synical about the SP, but it’s not showing up as a reply to it

  62. > Absolutely. Science-fiction and fantasy readers are smart, and if you’ve spent any time with them, getting a consensus is like herding cats.

    so why do people then assume that the SP voters are going to all vote in lockstep no matter what the quality of the work?

    1. Because Vox Day has said, “to nominate them precisely as they are” and “It’s called Xanatos Gambit, George. Look it up. Anything that happens IS a victory for us. That’s why “the trufans and SMOFs and good guys” are so upset. Deny us Hugos? Whoop-de-damn-do. We were never going to even be nominated anyhow. Change the rules? Make our point AND, as a bonus, make future Awards less legitimate. No Award everything? See: 2016 Hugos. No Award us? See: 2016 Hugos and you. Leave well enough alone and simply vote on the merits? Some of ours win a few richly deserved Hugos.”

      It’s not the Sad Puppies that concern me. It’s the Rabid Ones.

      1. Reasonably Neutral Observer

        This is entirely reasonable.

        I am not a SP, but I do sympathize with many of their points. I referred to their slate and used it, where I was able, to look at works to decide whether to nominate them. I did not vote a SP ticket, but it’s certainly true that I voted for things I would not have known about or thought to vote for had I not seen the SP ticket.

        I am also pretty sympathetic to the notion that fandom needs to be more open if it’s going to survive. If we (I have not attended that many cons but I have attended them and hope to in future) hope for cons largely devoted to written SFF to prosper and not continue to bleed base to DragonCon, etc, there have to be books out there for a diverse range of fans. Otherwise it ends up like the sad gangsters in the social room in “Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai.” I don’t want that, and believe it or not the SP don’t either. Approaches like Ms. Kowal’s will help prevent this: tantrums and scorching earth (on either side) will not.

      2. MKR –

        It is a bit confusing to see VD quoted as a justification for an assumption applied to the SPs.

        Given that multiple voices on the anti-SP side have repeatedly called (including in the comments of this bridge-building post) for “No Awarding” all SP and RP nominees, it might be best to note in your original post that VD’s threat to “No Award” everything is in response to this threat by “trufans”.

        I dislike the ‘tit-for-tat’ juvie games going on, but I think that given the fact that “No Award All SP Slate” is still a wide-spread opinion in “trufanland”, leaving it out of the description of VD’s reaction is an error, and it delegitimizes your efforts to build the rapport which is so badly needed.

        “They did it first” is an…inferior justification, but is generally accepted as a valid one. OTOH, if there were more people advocating judging nominated works on the basis of quality/preference for the work itself, that would go a long way to making VD’s promises look exaggerated and unnecessary.

  63. Lisa Nohealani Morton

    Tor has had a lock on the Hugos? They didn’t win Best Novel last year, and they’ve only won it twice in the last five years (four in the last ten). That’s not much of a lock, if they can’t even manage to win a majority of the time.

    ( did sweep the short fiction awards last year, but that’s the only time they’ve managed that feat; prior to that they’d only had one short fiction win, and if you’re looking for a big winner in short fiction in recent years, Asimov’s is the clearly dominant publication in those categories.)

    1. In agreement, I note for the record that Tor, who is my American publisher, also publishes under various imprints… let’s see. John C. Wright, Benjanun Sriduangkaew, and Orson Scott Card.

      I’m not seeing a particular political bias there.

      I also note that the only Best Novel nominee from Tor last year… lost.

  64. This is a beautiful idea; this SP sympathizer tips his hat to your efforts in growing active fandom.

    I’ve been a reader of SF/F since I could read at all—my first-grade reader had a story narrated by an enhanced-intelligence bobcat who was assisting an human as she explored other planets. (And I’d be grateful if anyone can remember the story or its author.) I was not quite old enough to get that the tech described in the story was fictional.

    A year or two later there was the Martian Xixobrax, whose plans for invasion were derailed when he was sent back home with arms full of candy canes. Then I tried to make sense of Heinlein’s The Star Beast.

    I’d heard my mom’s stories about her small involvement with Star Trek fandom, about her standing with a friend behind some tall fellow to say “Hello, Dr. Asimov!” (As Orthodox Jewish girls they wouldn’t shake hands with an unrelated man; and Asimov had a reputation for hugging and kissing pretty girls.) And I’d grown up with genre books in the house, and finding that I generally preferred them to adventure or mystery or whatever else I came across. So I was certainly a fan. But for me, fandom (or per your narrower definition in this post, involvement with the SF/F community) began with Firefly.

    This was an online community that would mail recorded videocassettes of a show halfway across the country to someone that only caught two of the aired episodes—but also caught the bug. (This is fandom; do I have to say “pun intended”?) This was a community really and truly mourning the death of a fellow fan. (I really hope someone’s saved what Nathan Fillion and Adam Baldwin said about Lux.) This was—these were my sort of people.

    I never did attend a convention: always seemed too pricey to me. But I got a group from school to join me for screenings of Serenity; and when I read that Flanvention II had fallen through, I was completely unsurprised to learn of the Backup Bash organized on the fly by fans and to which cast members showed up—these were my sort of people.

    So maybe WorldCon isn’t quite the WorldCon of Fallen Angels, and maybe my genre reading list is a little ——-heavy and ——-light when yours is the opposite. But we’re all on the side of imagining the future: working toward some futures and away from others (and disagreeing on some points; sure); and with all the folks participating in this generous offer I’m reminded again—despite everything, these are my sort of people.

    I thank you.

    1. That is a really lovely tribute. And so far, it sounds like we like a TON of the same things. Ah… Firefly.

      Oo! Want to know a cool thing I got to do? I wrote an audioplay for Defense Grid 2, and Alan Tudyk was one of the voice actors. I actually got to share a scene with him. Sadly recorded at different times. But my inner fangirl was squeeeeeeing so loudly.

  65. Holland Dougherty

    You are a fantastic, fantastic person. Idk if you remember this, but at the Worldcon in Chicago, we talked at your booth and you convinced me to try the first Glamourist History book, and a lot of it was because of how excited you were about your story and you convinced me to read a genre I had previously not read. You were so awesome with explaining about the universe you’d created and welcoming me into a genre I’d never really explored before, and got me thoroughly hooked. It was my first SFF convention, and I felt super awkward, but you were super nice and excited and made me feel relaxed and welcome.You are an amazing example of how welcoming and awesome the SFF community should be, and I hope to follow in your example at the convention I’m on the concom of (Crossingscon 2016).

    I saw you are going to be at Borderlands Books in San Francisco next month – do you have any allergies to spices/pumpkin or anything? Because I’m a pretty good baker and if it’s ok, I was going to bring tribute ^_^

      1. Holland Dougherty

        On the subject of “works I was surprised not to see on the Hugo ballot”, btw, what did you think of “Toad Words” by Ursula Vernon, “Among the Thorns” by Veronica Schanoes, and
        “Where The Trains Turn” by PASI ILMARI JÄÄSKELÄINEN (if you read any of them)? As a biologist, Ursula Vernon really hit me right in the feels – I was kinda disappointed it didn’t make the ballot.

        Also I have been asked to pass on that my Mom is a huge fan of your books and voice acting, and that you have ruined her for other audiobook readers, because you do the best voices. (I agree)

        So glad you’re coming to SF! If you have a chance, you should check out Bi-Rite Creamery. They have what is quite possibly the best ice cream west of the Mississippi.

        1. Oh, I loved _Toad Words_ too! I thought _Among The Thorns_ was a bit dark for my taste and _Where The Trains Turn_ was a bit on the weird side, though I did read them. But I told all my LJ readers about _Toad Words_ and gave them a link to check it out.

          Have you tried _Nine Goblins_ by the same author?

  66. There were a number of novels I read in late last year that I was very surprised not to see on the Hugo ballot:
    Goodhouse (Peyton Marshall)
    The Book of Strange New Things (Michel Faber)
    The Bone Clocks (David Mitchell)
    Rooms (Lauren Oliver)

    Last fall was really a great season for SF-adjacent litfic, and I’d highly recommend any of those books if you’re looking for a change of pace.

  67. > It’s not the Sad Puppies that concern me. It’s the Rabid Ones.

    That’s a very reasonable position to take, but it’s also one that I have not seen very many others take. Just about every post I’ve seen has condemned SP because of RP, either implicitly or explicitly saying that they are the same.

  68. Vox and the anti-Voxers, playing the M.A.D. dance with each other. I predict sanity prevails, nobody borks the Hugos in either 2015 or 2016, and in ten years, we’re all trying to remember why everyone was off their heads about this whole thing.

    My readers tend to be Hard SF fans and have no interest in spiking the Hugos. What I do hear — and this is a sentiment not unique to them — is that they are tired of being second-class citizens when it comes time for ‘important’ work to get recognized during the awards season. People are still steamed that it took Stan Schmidt *retiring* before Fandom would finally cough up a Hugo for the man. If the New Wave brought humanism and literary quality to the prose of SF/F, literary socio-conscious modernism has overshadowed some of the traditional tastes and aspects of SF that many consider to be essential to what is “good” work. I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten a fan letter saying, “Thank God I found you, because you write the kind of SF I remember loving when I was younger!”

    Sad Puppies doesn’t hate Fandom. Sad Puppies is mobilized against the TruFannish attitude that says, in order to be a “real fan” you have to be properly baptized and inculcated into WSFS (World Science Fiction Society) otherwise you’re an outsider. Sad Puppies is also hotly opposed to the “Are your papers in order?” mentality which immediately shines suspicion on anyone or anything associated with a group, slate, person, project, what have you, that TruFandom has deemed to be “bad” for whatever reasons.

    Ultimately, a lot of this is simply a straight-up art fight.

    Taste versus taste.

    Lacking objective, quantifiable, measurable standards, it’s a pure culture power push (which fans — of which tastes — can mobilize, coordinate, designate goals, achieve those goals, etc.) and like any pure culture power push, things get underhanded and nasty very quickly.

    I’ve tried to conduct Sad Puppies 3 in as transparent a fashion as I can. It hasn’t stopped people from accusing me (and us) of all manner of vile skulduggery. To include deliberately conflating us with Vox — who is an anarchist on the scene, has no allegiance to anyone, and would be cheerfully lobbing molotov cocktails even if Sad Puppies did not exist.

    Interesting note: the many dozens of letters I’ve gotten from quietly supportive authors, fans, and even a few editors, tells me that Sad Puppies 3 is tapping some deep resentments out in the fan (small f) world. Is it political? Yes, to the extent we out-of-the-closet conservative writers feel the field counts us as “cut-rate” and not sparkly to the same degree out-of-the-closet progressives get to be sparkly. But it’s taste too. And the sense that the Hugos have rendered many injustices over the years, due to blind spots, unconscious bias, etc.

    In the end, I am a fan. I am a fan who got ambitious and decided to write the kinds of books and stories I don’t see enough of in the field, in my opinion.

    But I am not a Fan. And I am certainly not a TruFan. Nor do I think I should have to be, to have an equal seat at the table of discussion. I am not alone in this belief.

    1. I commented below because apparently I am blind and didn’t see the reply button.

      [Using my moderator powers, I moved your comment here. -MRK]


      While I will always disagree on the slate thing. It isn’t what leaves me sad. What leaves me sad is that you seem like a nice guy. In our few interactions you have never been anything but kind. I have read everything you have posted on your blog and Facebook. There has been more than one time I have felt like the implication is my taste are bad. That the books I like are less than the books you like. That this had to be done because “they” are ruining our field.

      If this is a taste vs taste than bring out the vote. Put out recommended reading lists. Let’s have fun debating the taste. Let us recognize the diversity of our taste in a way that isn’t slash and burn (this goes for absolutely everyone). I love nothing more than a great book discussion. I know it’s going to be hard because I know everyone seems to still have their foot on the attack mode pedal.

      If we are ever in the same place at the same time. I’ll buy you a beverage of your choice and we can have that discussion.

    2. I have to admit that I agree with Christopher Daley

      Has it every occurred to you that the books who won the Hugo and that you are so opposed to, simply won because they were to the taste of the majority of the Hugo voters? That these books reflect the taste of a certain percentage of the readership and have nothing to do with any kind of political conspiracy or cabal?

      You say taste versus taste. If you’d done a post with a call to action where you asked your readers to consider voting in the Hugos and then offered a list of works that were your personal favorites, works that reflect your taste, most would have had no problem with that.

      Instead you posted a list and said people should nominate these works regardless of whether they were to their taste of not. At least that’s how I read your post.

      That has nothing to do with taste versus taste because I’m sure there were some people who nominated books that were not to their taste simply because they were on that slate.

      You reply here also reminds me a bit about the “fake geekgirl” debates. I don’t really care for Hard SF or lots of technobabble (unless we’re talking forensics or ancient war machinery). I also have the audacity to prefer Fantasy to SF. Does that make me less of a fan? Or a fake fan? Does that make my taste less valid? Reading your reply I’m left with that feeling.

      Like you, I started writing because I wasn’t seeing enough of the books and stories I wanted to read. This at least we have in common.

  69. Out of all of the various things kicking this around, this one seems to bethe most even handed. I support SP3. I didn’t want to join because I felt that I shouldn’t vote a category without reading all, and I have a backlog of many books already bought which would get put on hold. I had a threshold which would trump that. 12 times. 12 completely false misrepresentations. Well, 12 came, and the Entertainment Weekly article got modified to the point of, well, admission that it was less than real. Since joining, let us just say that some have been less than welcoming. Understandable. I may be perceived as a vandal. Or, that could be a entertaining cardboard cutout placed in front of me, easier to hate than me. I need not list my petagree, as those dismissing me as the cardboard will not be satisfied no matter how many Judges Guild orSpider Robinson books, nor is their approval required. I hope one day it can become less “they are bad” and more “these are awesome”. I am a dreamer, perhaps. Perhaps that’s why SF speaks to me. Perhaps one day in the future we can laugh together. That would be nice.

    1. It would be nice. And may I say… thank you for recognizing that there’s a feeling of vandalism? Which is totally not your fault. It’s unfortunate that bringing Vox Day into the clubhouse last year, makes him still included this year. I know there’s no official affiliation, I really do. But until Brad’s most recent post about the rabid puppies, it sounded like two groups working in cooperation with each other.

      I’m sorry you’re getting hit with the backsplash from that.

  70. I don’t have a dog in the race.. I read a bit of SF but don’t write or edit it. I will probably never go to Worldcon or buy a membership. But as an outsider looking in.. frankly, I don’t see this as anything other than an attempt to buy votes to balance out/counteract the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies slate at the next Hugos.

    Sure you’re not being overt and saying “You must vote for this person or in this way” (as vox et al did).. but you’re buying 75 votes for *your own readers* (and those like minded of your friends/colleagues who have matched this pledge) . These readers are the kind of people who know your politics (because they read your blog and read about this free offer.)… and who, like yourself, are most likely ideologically opposed to the SP authors/slate etc and so will vote accordingly. You can’t be accused of ballot stuffing because you’re not being overt like SP, but, IMO, you *are* creating a crypto voting block.

    That’s fine,… I think what the SP peeps did was lame and a total dick move. (Brad seems alright, but fuck me, some of the others aren’t the nicest sorts) .. but given the hype and climate at the moment it is very hard to see this is as anything but a call to create the counter-SP voting block.

    I actually think this move brings the awards into greater disrepute and makes them even less credible. (Which you’d think would be hard to do right now)

    1. I’ve seen this concern and I’m at a loss on how to address it.

      I’ve been posting other places, such as reddit, which is not really “my own readers.” And since it’s Australian balloting, there’s no way that I can force a winner, even if I wanted to.

  71. (This post was from yesterday and has been edited; I’m the idiot who posted to the request for supporting membership add instead of the comment form. Oops!)

    Mary- I’ve met you several times, the first at Paolo’s launch party for Windup Girl, then at NasFic when WC was in Australia, etc. Several of your prominent friends in the community (at least that’s the appearance on social media, which – I totally admit, could be a totally wrong conclusion on my part) crapped on my debut novel, GERMLINE, without reading it; I have the screenshots of Twitter, etc. I only say this to provide some perspective on why I’m sympathetic and empathetic to Brad and Larry – NOT to fight, shame, rehash the history, etc., because at this point details like that don’t matter and I’m no saint.

    So I’m really here to thank you for your post.

    I write literary fiction. Based on my negative experience within the SFF community, I spent a few years working on that part of my career to get a break from the drama. Now I’m back and realize, ironically, that we all care about SFF or we wouldn’t be at each other’s throats. Maybe this will stop soon. It certainly won’t without posts like yours and a lot of work on both sides.

    I don’t know how we resolve this because there’s so much distrust, but without dialog like this it won’t – and I think many of us want an end to the fighting someday.

  72. I highly respect your work, Mary, and I want to give my perspective.

    I am a person from Eastern Europe, having lived in Israel and Canada, reading English science fiction but also SF and fantasy from Russia, Germany, Scandinavia and Finland. I write SF in English, and have even qualified to join SFWA this year, which I did just to see what happens.

    However, I find that the Hugos and the conversation around them, as the German poster Daniela said, are extremely centred on US politics. Even when they are trying to speak of inclusivity and diversity, that is coming from a US perspective, such as the specifically US notion of “race.” When most of the world’s marginalization, for lack of a better word, happens based on ethnicity and/or religion, to lump together dozens of very different and differently dominant and marginalized ethnic groups as “white” and hundreds of even more different ethnic groups as “people of colour” — is downright bizarre and absurd from any perspective but American. It leads to someone from a culture with as much global cultural clout as Japan (anime, manga, Nintendo, J-pop…) being considered an “oppressed person of colour” while a Sorbian (not Serbian, Sorbian, look them up) is considered an already-overexposed voice just because they are “privileged white.”

    Thus nothing about the Hugo speaks for me. I scorn the Sad Puppies because I disagree with the US right’s values — but the “social justice warriors” do not speak for me either, not because of the justice part, but because the “social” part is _American_ social, concentrating only on American problems of anti-black racism, evangelical-driven homophobia, and lack of adequate health care for all. Without bothering to look how other countries have dealt with similar problems or realizing how Americentric they are being.

    With the exception of the fascinating “Three-Body Problem,” almost all the books and short fiction that have gained renown and award nominations in recent years have talked, from one perspective or another, about American Anglophone problems, even if they moved them to space or Elfland or whatever. (Ann Leckie won a truckload of awards for basically imagining a galactic empire where everyone spoke Turkish, a language with no grammatical gender that is a concept Americans found astonishing.)

    So I applaud your effort to bring more Americans into this American-centric community. But the more I learn about it, the less appeal or interest I feel for the “World” Science Fiction Convention that is Americans to Americans. (At least the Nebula is writers to writers.)

    I am using a pseudonym here because I do not want activist-bent people twisting my words to make me sound “racist” at some later date just because I happen to not agree with their accepted problems and their accepted solutions.

    1. Many, many thanks. Especially for calling me out on being US-centric. I try to catch that in myself but miss often.

      Your point about forms of oppression varying from culture to culture is spot on. I think the only way to fix that is to get more voices in the mix. When only one group speaks, it drowns out other experiences. So I’m grateful to you for sharing yours. Please… while I understand why you don’t want to be involved in the Hugos, may I ask you to spread the word within your community? More voices = good.

      1. I can understand why so many non-Americans keep silent or only post under a pseudonym. I too hesitated a lot before deciding to get involved.

        Over the years during various debates non-Americans and even more so non-native English speakers have been told very clearly to stay out of the debate and that their input wasn’t wanted. I’ve been told that, especially when I asked for a clarification on US-terminology and I’ve seen it happen to others.

        Of course, there have been others like you who specifically ask us to join the conversation. For that I want to thank you, Mary :-). It makes it a bit easier to be brave and speak up instead of sitting silently in a corner and quoting Asterix ;-).

    2. Yours is a good point, Sokyrka. I have also heard from British fandom that they don’t understand what’s going on and why an American conflict is doing this to the Hugos.

      I am European but my experience is different. I am involved in this whole mess, and although I agree that the conflict is a reflection of the polarization of American society, I feel it affects me personally because I take part in online fandom.

      I won’t bore you with my somewhat Sad-Puppies sympathetic opinion. There’s enough debate everywhere. I’ll only say that I do not see a short-term solution. The atmosphere has turned so toxic that and at least the 2016 Hugos will be affected too. Sometimes it seems that we should separate in two different fandoms (even though my taste tends to be more “literary” than “action based”).

      I guess that like everybody, I would like us to go back to enjoying and sharing our hobby, and that we could be reviewing the nominated novels and stories and making ranked lists instead of talking about puppies, slates and SJWs.

  73. Andre Norton was my gateway into Scifi/Fantasy. I was a member of the Science Fiction club in college, we even put on a small convention. That was my main brush with fandom. Star Trek, Space 1999 were never to be missed shows.

    People read what they enjoy. Tastes change. Makes me sad when the people who say I want to see people like “me” in the books, are shouted down by others saying that isn’t the “correct” Science Fiction, or you aren’t a true fan.

    You can pat yourself on the back all day long saying how many people support you in email or letters, but you are judged by the company you keep. If you support someone who thinks women are second class citizens, and that the shooting of Mahala Yousafzai was the right thing to do and logical, then not having a Hugo is the least of your problems. If you say I want books with spaceships on the cover and no “cause of the day” stories. I can say I want authors who don’t call other authors savages due to the color of their skin. I want authors who don’t want gavs/lesbians/transgendered people stoned to death. I don’t want authors who only have women in the stories to be there to be raped and killed to give the hero motivation. But sadly we don’t always get what we want in life.

    I don’t see Mary’s kind offer as a way of buying votes, I see it as trying to bring in fans to fandom who otherwise couldn’t afford it. I am very fortunate that 40 dollars wouldn’t be the difference between eating and going hungry, but for others that 40 dollars means food, gas or medicine.

    Sorry for my rant.

  74. Will somebody give me a cite for Correia or Torgerson instructing their people to bloc vote? I can’t find one. Absent that quote, I’m calling all “bloc voting!” claims misinformed or dishonest. Vox is doing his own thing, so stick to SP.

    As for the Hugos, I find myself enjoying the works from the SP list more than I have the winners from the last 5 years. That seems to make me the wrong kind of fan. So be it. I’m a lifelong nerd. If there’s anything I’m qualified to do, it’s recognizing a party where I’m not wanted.

    1. The fact that it’s called the Sad Puppies Slate, and the fact that it matches the number of spots on the ballot, does lead to the perception that it’s intended to be a bloc vote. Then you also have the historic precedence, which is that with Sad Puppies 1, Larry did tell all his fans to vote a particular way. So when that’s combined with Vox actually telling people to bloc vote, then… yeah. I’m going to say that there was bloc voting going on. It might not have been all Sad Puppies, or something that Brad condoned, but that’s why it looks, from the outside, that bloc voting happened.

      Finally, I’m going to address the Vox problem with a really clunky metaphor. What you have here, is that last year, Sad Puppies invited an arsonist home. It’s just one guy, but he wasn’t given the boot, just not invited back. When he came back, no one told him to get out, and he’s burning your house down. NOW people are telling him to get out, but the house is still on fire.

      1. One Factual point about the SP3 slate, one of your indices is the number of slots vs the number of nominations, SP3 only has a full 5 nominees in 5 (five) of the 16 (sixteen) categories. I do applaud you for being a voice of reason. You and Brad and a few others are showing real class, sadly in contrast to a lot of the other verbiage currently being slung.

        1. Point taken. Rabid Puppies presented the full slate. SP3 was only full in four of the five fiction categories.

          We can get into the battle of intentions, but from outside the Sad Puppies this really, really sounds like an urge to vote the slate as a whole, “If you agree with our slate below — and we suspect you might — this is YOUR chance to make sure YOUR voice is heard.”

      2. Again, you say Correia told people to vote a certain way. Again I ask, where’s the citation for that? With all the outrage over slate voting, certainly somebody bookmarked a URL?

        As for Vox, he is cheerfully splashing kerosene all about the house, true. But it’s not MY house, is it? According to Theresa Hayden Nielson, it’s WorldCon’ s house and I’m not much welcome in it. I’m not a Trufan. Good luck putting this fire out. I suspect No Awards are pretty flammable.

        1. Admiral Naismith

          So…you express dislike for the house, and at least a little implied joy at the fire danger….and then you cry foul at the very idea that you and yours might be complicit in attempted arson?

          That’s quite a thin tightrope you’re dancing on up there. Is that wise?

        2. Your next store neighbors house isn’t your house either. Maybe you don’t even like your next store neighbor. If it catches on fire I would like to think that you would help put it out. If for no other reason that if the fire spreads and burns down your whole community. Everybody loses.

    2. I’m confused. You’re saying the Sad Puppy slate didn’t affect anyone’s nominations, not even those of the Sad Puppies, and it’s just coincidence that so much of the Hugo Ballot is straight off the Sad Puppy slate?

      And last year’s Sad Puppies slate was a proof-of-concept demonstration for Vox Day. Off-hand, I’d say he seems to have decided the method works. And yes, now it’s really hard to convince people to forget where he learned it. Especially when Sad Puppies is still using it, and the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies slates line up as well as they do.

      1. The SP list must have appealed to somebody. Jim Butcher finally got nominated, so that’s nice. I suspect in years to come we’ll also see a YA slate, urban fantasy slate, manga, anime, game-related, supernatural romance and all manner of others as (wrong)fans figure out that they can get their passions on the ballot. More fans, more voices, more diversity. More participation. That is what everybody wants, right?

        My sincere apologies to Ms. Nielsen Hayden and all her fans. It’s been a long day.

        Still no cite, I see. Who is it that’s been misinforming everybody about what Correia said?

  75. Thanks for responding.
    Since I imagine offering free voting is out of the question it would seem they could at least not try to gouge people for $40 a vote. Most vote selling done on TV and the Internet only charges about $1 a vote.

    Still one good thing has come out of this it has affirmed that it is a game and winning the game has less to do with how good a story is and more to do with how good a player is.

    I will now avoid buying books with an award one the cover and use a more reliable indicatior of the books value to make my buying decision.
    Like referral from someone whose opinion I trust or the Amazon reviews or even the cover illustration, at least I’ll have something pretty to look at.

    1. What’s being sold is not a vote, but a supporting membership in Worldcon, which includes the right to nominate and vote on the Hugo Awards. The Hugos are not something the Worldcon/WSFS took over, nefariously or otherwise, but something WSFS created, and awarded for the first time at the 1953 Worldcon.

      Supporting memberships weren’t created fto enable people to vote for the Hugos. They were created because members of fandom who couldn’t attend every Worldcon nevertheless wanted to support Worldcon and get the publications.

      If a supporting member of the Worldcon chooses to receive print publications, the cost of that membership to the Worldcon is $35. If they choose electrinic publications, it’s still roughly $10. So what you’re asking for is for Worldcons to sell supporting memberships at a loss. Aside from the fact that that defeats the purpose of a supporting membership, no Worldcon can afford to do that.

      And remember, the fact that the only part you care about is the Hugo vote, that *doesn’t* change the fact that that is not the purpose of offering supporting memberships from the point of view of the organization actually offering them, or the great bulk of the people buying them.

      1. Richard Cartwright

        I have to disagree with this because Worldcon allows for two classes of attending memberships voting and “supporting,”. The difference is $40.USD.

      2. Well I am responding to a call to action to buy a membership in order to vote and to help friends who can not afford a supporting membership by buying one for them. Also to people donating the price of a membership so people can vote. So yes they are selling votes at $40 a piece.
        My point is who would support something that hasn’t been able to get its act together after 60 years. Who is going to buy a book with a Hugo Award Winner on the cover thinking that somehow recommends it as a good piece of work now that everyone can see how the awards are decided?
        Why should a greater fandom be asked by anyone to open their wallets or ask for help to pay $40 to hope their votes can add integrity to an award?
        Is Worldcon going to up the price so they can send a guide for how money and politics played out in the voting of the award during specific years?
        It’s just easier not to support such sad sacks and buy a book untainted by the award. You end up supporting a more diverse group of creatives that way.

        1. You should select your own reading material in the way that you find works best for you. Is it really necessary to state something that obvious?

          The right to vote on the Hugos may be your only reason for buying a supporting membership, but it’s not Worldcon’s reason for selling then, and never has been. The fact that you want to make it easier for you and your friends, who have no interest in Worldcon, to control the awarding of the Hugos creates no obligation on the part of the Worldcon–and your hostility doesn’t encourage a desire to for a generally about break-even nonprofit run entirely by volunteers to accommodate you.

          No system is ungameable. That’s just a simple fact. You plug one hole, you risk opening another, maybe a worse one. For decades, the integrity of the Hugos against large-scale gaming was protected by the shared social sense that that was unacceptable behavior. That’s how communities work.

          But now we have the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies, both groups proud of not being part of Worldcon fandom, but feeling entitled to win the award given by Worldcon fandom anyway, and being sure there most be some conspiracy, a controlling clique, or at least a shared groupthink judging stories on demographics and political correctness, rather than whether or not they actually like the work in question for “valid” reasons. Because surely that’s the only reason why the Puppies aren’t winning…

          Telling me I don’t really like what I like is a really lousy way to get me interested in the stuff you think I “should” like.

        2. I’m reposting this here because when I responded from my e-mail it made a new post.

          Again I am responding to the call for action to buy supporting memberships in order to vote. My opinion is this makes Worldcon a buy a vote for the Hugo’s organization.
          I do not encourage anyone to buy a supporting membership or ask for help in buying one if you can’t afford one in order to vote for a Hugo award.

          I am not sure why you think it is a fact that I am trying to influence your vote when my position is to not buy a supporting membership for the purpose of voting for the award. Perhaps the posting got mixed up and you are responding to something else?

          Also just because an organization is all volunteer non-profit and barely breaks even does not mean it has virtue. This also describes the KKK and I would not support them either.

    2. James, the thing about lowering the price for supporting memberships/Hugo voting is–remember, the work is all done by volunteers, by (essentially) non-profit organizations that vary from year to year and who usually just about break even. The price of a supporting membership is set by the WSFS bylaws, and (I believe) was originally set based on how much it cost each WorldCon to send out the extra publications packets and process everything. Some people may say that they are overcharging–but it is a LOT of work, especially creating, producing, and sending the various Progress Reports, and I wouldn’t do it, so I don’t think so.

      The creation of a cheaper, specific “voting membership” is something that has been mentioned, I think, but that would be contrary to the entire history of both WorldCon and the Hugos, and to the idea of “membership” itself, really (in my opinion . . . so I don’t think it’s likely to get much traction.

      Mary, this is a lovely idea. I hope it helps the healing process, on all sides.

      1. I think that Larry Correia had a point about that. We should decide whether the Hugos are the awards of all the fans or just of the attendants of a medium-sized convention. If they are the awards of all the fans the entry barrier should be lower. Maybe a Just Voting membership, with no right to receive ebook packs or progress reports. Just the right to vote online, which should be easy since the system is in place. Maybe 5$ or something symbolic like that. Then whole parts of fandom that are not involved could be encouraged to take part. I feel that the only reason this will never be done is that the people who attend the business meeting do not want to lose control of the awards, and that they only pay lip service to the idea of getting more people involved. They want more people, yes, but only the right people.

  76. Who is calling to no award everyone on SP’s slate? Not being combative here, just curious because I haven’t been keeping up with everything and the people I have seen talking about no awarding have said they are only going to no award the things they don’t think are deserving, not just no award the slate noms (this would be Scalzi, MRK, GRRM…haven’t kept up with everyone’s blogs.)

    1. It’s really very difficult to explain everything fairly in a paragraph. It’s a very politicized conflict, but it has deeper roots in a complete disagreement about the way the SFF community should function and how we should treat each other. You will need to read for a while if you want to understand everything fairly, because it would be very easy otherwise to paint it in blacks and whites (and the Sad Puppies would be the bad guys there). You could do worse than reading the articles G.R.R. Martin has written, and also it’s important to at least have a look at the comments, since Martin has done a good job trying to be fair but his perspective is not complete:

      But basically, the reason some people are calling for no award in the categories coped by the Sad Puppies are two, not mutually exclusive:
      1) Some people strongly disagree with what the Sad Puppies stand for.
      2) Some people strongly disagree with the way the Sad Puppies have taken advantage, unwittingly or not, of the deficiency of the nomination voting rules. With about 20% of the votes they have coped a lot of nominations because their vote was concentrated on a list of candidates, while everybody else was quite dispersed. This is against the traditional spirit of the Hugos, were supposedly people voted individually according to their individual preferences (I say supposedly because there are some concerns that the process has also been gamed by other interest groups.). I have the impression that the SPs did not have an idea of how successful their campaign would be, but the fact that their recommendations had exactly 5 candidates in many categories (the same number of possible nominees) speaks against them. I think an important test of whether they did it on purpose will be seeing what kind of list they put together next year.

      Some other people, even though they are angry about point 2, say that they will read the nominees and judge as fairly as they can.

      1. Thanks, I’ve been following some posts, especially GRRM’s livejournal, so I understand the general situation, was more asking who the people were that were calling for everyone to vote ‘no award’. Thanks again for the recap anyway. 🙂

    2. Actually, most of the “big voices” (including Mary Robinette Kowal) have told people to read everything and vote for what they like.

      It is the smaller voices (like mine) saying something that got a boost from a slate didn’t make the ballot fairly. (17% of the Hugo nominators owned most of the ballot, including six categories in which nobody else got to nominate anything–that makes it pretty clear that this move was unfair, as far as I’m concerned.)

      “You don’t run the race when the finalists got there by doping” as one person put it.

      It’s the people with a smaller crowd of listeners, but it’s a fair number of people with smaller crowds of listeners.

      1. Admiral Naismith

        I’ve dutifully started reading the novels. So far, it seems to me that “reading and judging on the merits” is not inconsistent with “voting down The Slate”. One novel, in particular, seems so far to be solid evidence against the argument that The Slate was trying to bring neglected works “of merit” to attention. Other peoples’ mileage may vary, naturally.

      2. Ah, ok. It just seemed like people were making a huge issue out of people threatening to ‘no award’ the entire Hugos….but I honestly hadn’t seen a lot of people doing that. Thanks for the info. 🙂

      3. Reasonably Neutral Observer

        No-one was denied the chance to nominate, and phrasing it that way is disingenuous at best. Everyone’s vote counted exactly the same: as one vote. Every nominee that makes the shortlist means some other nominee did not. That is how nominating for shortlists works.

        If, in your opinion, the reason that a particular work made the list and another therefore did not is a bad reason, fine. But to imply that nominating a work you thought wasn’t worthy meant some other work you thought was better was somehow cheated out of its rightful place… well, you’re halfway to Sad Puppydom. Sorry. Perhaps it will at least make you a bit more empathetic to their motivations.

        1. I think when Cat says things got an unfair bump from the slate, it’s because there’s a little bit of disbelief that everyone actually read the exact same works last year and all felt that those were the very best things they read.

          It’s just… Okay, look at the short story category. There are a bajillion short stories published in SFF every year. The field is usually split because people’s tastes are all over the map. So recently, it’s been fairly common for only three or four stories to make the 5% mark necessary to make the ballot. That’s because people are nominating WILDLY different things.

          So in the short fiction category, knowing that several of the works were not readily available, it is hard to look at and believe that the slate didn’t have a dispropotionate impact.

          I don’t want to argue about who is right or wrong. I’m only trying to explain a perspective to help people understand why the reactions have been angry.

  77. Background: lifelong, voracious sci-fi and fantasy reader, never been to a Con, so not sure I count as fandom. I’m pretty eclectic in reading and when I name favorite author’s in my mind it seems that female authors pop up more than males (Moon, McCaffrey, Norton, Triptree, Cherryh, etc.). (and Kowal, of course!)

    I have been trying to keep up with this fracas, but I’m not involved enough to have a clear picture what is really going on. If the premise that the SP’s expound, that there has been a concerted effort to push forward “social justice” books and push backward more “old-school” sci-fi (which I tend to like) then I would lean their way. If the other side is right and this is just sour grapes by members of a sub-genre that is just no longer as popular as it used to be and times are changing, then I am not on their side, even though I will still probably read their books.

    As just a reader, I wonder if the Hugo’s are worth it, especially are they worth me paying $40 to vote for what is essentially a marketing lottery for the winning book? I remember when Hugo winning meant I should buy it and read it because it will probably be good or great. But this is the age of the internet and great book review sites abound and I don’t grab a book because it has Hugo on the cover anymore. Maybe that is because I’m a middle aged-white guy and I’m too “Old School” and times have passed me by.

    In the end, I guess I’m just wondering why spending $40 to vote on the Hugo’s would be worth it. That’s 3-4 books I could buy instead

    1. I’m only going to answer the last question. Why spend money to vote? Because a lot of people have no idea about this fracas at all and still buy books because that label is on it. In two years, no one will remember what year a book that has “Hugo-award winner” on the cover was published. So, you vote because you want to see your tastes represented.

      And on a more mercenary front… There’s the Hugo Voter Packet.

      “Over the last several years, Worldcons have provided a bonus to all supporting and attending members of a downloadable packet containing the works nominated in many of the written and art categories. Sasquan will be continuing in this tradition, but would like to remind members that inclusion of nominated works, in full or excerpt, is solely at the discretion of the publishers. We will make every attempt to create as full a packet as possible and hope that the packet continues to be a useful tool for creating an informed electorate.”

  78. I’m not involved on any side of this campaign, though I tend to enjoy the playfulness which the SP group has approached the issue.

    There seems to be little commentary here about the assertions of the SP team. I wanted to provide a non-litterary example of what’s going on:

    In this case, there was an organized campaign to boycot the movie version of Ender’s Game because of the views of the author, notably, vehemently objecting to same-sex marriage, despite the book not touching on the issue. (For what it’s worth, I think the 14th Ammendment requires that marriage be extended to cover same-sex couples, but don’t really care because I’m straight, and society seems to have decided that I’m not allowed to get married).

    Now, I haven’t seen the movie adeptation of Ender’s Game. I won’t recomend you see it because I haven’t seen it. And I certainly don’t think you should be forced to watch things you don’t want to watch.

    However, it does show that there can be groups of people who will change their movie-going habits because of the politics of the author, regarless of the presumed quality of the material. And, if that can happen in film, why wouldn’t we expect similar groups to impact the nomination or final award of the Hugo?

    1. Interesting… In the US, we often tell people to vote with their dollars because capitalism. So a boycott is an effective way of doing that as a group and calling attention to an issue. So, yeah, I think you’re right that it’s not surprising that people are also expressing their ideals by the kind of fiction they consume, which in turn is going to affect what they want to see on a ballot.

      1. Voting with your dollars is time tested true and fair.

        If a person is honest, though, this has become a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd tier sort of tactic. “I’m going to boycott this movie” becomes “and you’d better boycott it too” becomes “or your livelihood will suffer.”

        The protests against Ender’s Game were never about, “You make this and we’ll all stay home.” It was always, “You had better not make this movie.” It wasn’t successful, but that doesn’t change the goal.

    2. Have you read Songmaster (also by Card)? It’s a really moving story, and I think it could resonate with gay kids too. I was so surprised when I learned of OSC’s views. It seemed completely at odds with the empathy that was reflected in his books of the 80s. I sometimes wonder if he always thought that way or he changed his mind as he got old.

      The boycott was so much beating a dead horse. The article is right, the energy could have been spent in a positive way, it would have been poetic justice to use the film to celebrate diversity and LGBT rights instead of destroying the possibility of more films. But I guess there’s too much hate going around.

  79. “This is why it’s relatively easy to game it to get on the ballot in short fiction, but really, really hard to game it to win. More people vote than nominate.”

    This is a point that needs repeating and emphasizing.

    It is one thing to put a slate on the ballot. It is a MUCH harder thing to get that slate to win. The balloting is different. The way nominations work is a way that makes it easy for an organized cabal to put works on the ballot.

    Please, everybody: stop stop stop going into panic mode. Just because a cabal put stuff on the ballot does NOT mean that they will own the win unless you do something drastic.

  80. Part of what’s being missed by a lot of people is the interconnectedness of the debate here with the larger debates from politics and identity marketing.

    What you have is trufans and the far left telling wrongfans how bad they are because they haven’t X number of approved literature and an anarchist trying to burn the whole thing down.

    Look at what Corriea and Torgerson ask you to read and compare it with what K. T. Bradford wants you to read.

    Think about that.

    1. I’m not sure I know what you mean by identity marketing. Can you elaborate?

      There’s a big, big difference between telling a fan that what they like sucks vs. pointing out that a work has problematic elements. I know that it’s easy to think, when someone says, “[x] work is problematic” that it’s a judgement on your taste, but it’s actually not. Most people understand that a fan can enjoy a problematic work without being a bad person.

      Look at what Corriea and Torgerson ask you to read and compare it with what K. T. Bradford wants you to read.

      As far as I can tell, they have the same basic goal, which is to get attention for work they feel are overlooked. K.T. Bradford isn’t saying never read straight white men ever again, she’s saying that it’s worth taking a year off and trying some other things. Correia and Torgersen think conservative authors are being crowded out by “literature” and want to highlight other fiction.

      Their tastes and methods vary, but the goals look very similar to me.

  81. This reinforces my point that one should not but a book with a Hugo award on it at all. It has no integrity at this point. This is not the first time the awards have been gamed just the most publicized. No one has ruined the awards just shed a light on what they really represent.

    1. Well, I agree that having the award does not guarantee that it’s a good book… but neither does it guarantee that it’s bad. Many great books have got the award and some are still getting it.

  82. This is, admittedly, slightly away from the main point of your post (which, by the way, was a very important thing that needed to be said and you said it very well and very calmly). Anyway…I thought it was odd that you defined fandom as “the community of fans who regularly attend fan run conventions.” At first I thought maybe it was just me and that maybe I’ve been misunderstanding the definition of the term. But since then I’ve seen several references to fandom that don’t have anything to do with con attendance. Even the wikipedia article on the word defines it as “a term used to refer to a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of empathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest.” So, yeah, a little confused as to why your definition of fandom is limited to people who can fit regular convention attendance into their lifestyle, but otherwise think that this is an important conversation to have and that you’re doing a good thing by trying to help make/keep the conversation more civil.

    1. Yes, I also found it odd. For my fandom has always meant the community of all the fans. Perhaps in the past it was more associated with conventions, but nowadays the internet allows everybody to be in contact. But anyway, since she defined it there was no confusion.

    2. Fandom is one of those really, really mutable words. (And this is totally why I put the definitions at the top and noted that they weren’t dictionary definitions.) For the purposes of this conversation, I thought that going with a really narrow definition would be useful. I used SF community to refer to the broader definition that wikipedia uses.

  83. Ms. Kowal,

    I haven’t sent a letter in some time. I read SoM&H and had written a couple of letters to you to both of which you graciously responded. We met at NorwesCon somewhere around 2012. That’s not the point. The point is that I think it’s terrific that you’re supporting this cause. I think for me I wish the $40 supporting package was a one-time-payment thing instead of just per Worldcon year. I would love to help out, but don’t feel involved enough. I do wish you the best, however. Stay at it.

    – Levi Stribling

    1. Every Worldcon is run by a different all-volunteer, nonprofit organization. And if that were not the case, I’m sorry, but you’d be hard pressed to find any organization that sells lifetime memberships for $40.

  84. Mary, I probably lean to the puppy side, but a lot of that is due to the reactions of many “insiders” toward it…The hate was really thick. You are one of the few voices who have come out and been above the fray. I truly appreciate that. I believe in supporting good stories, regardless of who writes them. It seems that many on both sides – regardless of what they say – are still far too focused on the writers, and not the writing.

    1. The hate coming from the Sad and, especially, the Rabid Puppies, was quite thick. And despite what Brad Torgersen says now, the Sads were initially in no hurry at all to dissociate themselves from the Rabids, until it was clear how bad the backlash was.

      It’s the claim of the Puppies (both kinds) that there was a Secret Cabal voting based on the demographics of the writer and the work rather than its qualities as an enjoyable story. They have zero evidence for this false belief, except that their stuff hasn’t actually won Hugos. Not even not been nominated; Torgersen was a Hugo, Nebula, and Campbell nominee in pre-Puppy years–most recently 2012, the last pre-Puppy year. And plenty of other writers, good writers whom they nevertheless deride as “Social Justice Warriors,” which they mean as an insult, have gone quite a bit longer without winning awards and without organizing intentionally destructive campaigns in response to the supposed snub.

      To bring that down to one sentence: It’s their position that I can’t really like the stuff I like, or if I do, I like it for what the Puppies have decided are invalid reasons.

      One more sentence: They are saying that if I were voting on *valid* grounds, for what I realio trulio liked, I would *have* to be voting for their stuff.

      My dishonesty is supposedly proved by my not voting for their stuff. No other evidence needed.

      I say it’s spinach, and I say the heck with it.

      I will vote the way I want to, and that won’t include voting for stuff I don’t like, even though they’ve tried to make that my only choice.

      I don’t cotton to bullies. I never have, and this time you can’t actually beat me up, as bullies from my past did.

      1. “…that there was a Secret Cabal voting based on the demographics of the writer and the work rather than its qualities as an enjoyable story. They have zero evidence for this false belief..”

        Certainly not a *secret* Cabal, but I’d think that “Whoo HOooo… people with all the right demographics WON!!!” after last year is maybe just a *little* bit evidence of what was most important in the selection. I hope that it’s possible to see how it might be taken as such in any case.

        In the end, the Sad Puppies recommendations have every bit as much demographic diversity and quite a bit greater ideological diversity than last year’s winners. And how can you know there’s nothing there that you’d like if you don’t read it? Something good might have snuck in there, after all.

        1. >Certainly not a *secret* Cabal, but I’d think that “Whoo HOooo… people with all the right demographics WON!!!” after last year is maybe just a *little* bit evidence of what was most important in the selection. I hope that it’s possible to see how it might be taken as such in any case.
          Yes, I can see how it would seem that way. I hope you can also understand that I’m voting for stories that I like. So when something wins the fact that it’s good isn’t a point of note. OF COURSE it’s good. That’s why I voted for it. I comment on what’s unusual. “Holy cow! Mostly women this year!” but I wouldn’t comment “Holy cow! Mostly men this year!” because that’s the status quo. Just as “A good story won!” is also status quo. For me.

        2. Julie, you are making the assumption that I have and will read nothing on the Puppies’ slates. In fact I will start all of them, and keep reading until/unless I conclude it’s not worth my time–the same as I will with the few non-Puppy noms.

          And John C. Wright, among others, is not a new author to me. I was absolutely gobsmacked with delight when, while recovering from surgery, a friend gave me Orphans of Chaos.

          My delight in his writing declined over time, as he strayed further and further from the thing the Puppies say they’re all about, telling a good story, and did more and more of what they say they are against, making it all about a certain flavor of political correctness.

          So I’m a bit skeptical about Wright having six short fiction nominations in the same year being all about quality. I’ll give them all a try, but I won’t torture myself if I find them not readable.

          For me to vote for something to get a Hugo, I have to like it. Not you, not Brad, not Larry. Me.

          Because that’s who my vote belongs to.

  85. Awesome! Thank you for both the sentiments and the sponsorship. You’re embodying the best spirit of the Worldcon, fandom and the greater SF community.

  86. Why I Am frustrated With “Fandom”.

    While I appreciate the tone of this article there are still many things that bother me about the whole situation, and unfortunately most of them come from those who are not on the Sad Puppies side.

    While not really a member of the Sad Puppies (SP) coalition(?) I do admit to reading and enjoying several authors on their slate. However i also have read and enjoyed some of those who would appear to be on the other side as well.

    I wasn’t aware of the Sad Puppies movement until last year. I read remarks from both sides and admit that while there are hot heads on both sides I found good points were being made by each group. Since I do not personally know any of the people involved I assume that each person is acting in good faith. That is, I see no reason to disbelieve anything they say until proof of impropriety is seen.

    That having been said I saw no real reason to involve myself with either side. The discussions, while mildly amusing didn’t really seem that important in the larger scheme of things. Regardless of what the Hugo supporters claim, it was obvious that it was being decided by a small, insular group of fans. The fact that it claimed to be “the most prestigious award in SF/Fantasy” and that it was a celebration of diversity was obviously hyperbole.

    At least I thought it was obvious, apparently it wasn’t. For example, in one article for the Library Journal the author added the following quote ” it threatens to undo all the work that librarians and reviewers like me are trying to do to show the diversity of the sf/fantasy genres.” This was followed in the comments from the author by ” librarians […] use these awards to make purchasing decisions” (

    Okay, apparently there are some people who buy into the hype around the Hugos. No problem, as long as they are not excluding those who aren’t in the Hugos.

    Sadly that doesn’t seem to be the case. Most discussions from the Puppies side seem to include admissions that they read a variety of SF/Fantasy viewpoints. Those from the other side seem to glory in not doing so.

    I don’t tar all non-puppies with the same brush but there definitely are some out there who are, well, lacking in basic honesty is the nicest way I could put it. Rabid would probably be a more accurate description.

    In reviewing the claims of both sides I found that most of the provably wrong information was coming from the anti-Puppy individuals. While there have been claims from the Puppies side that fall into the “no definitive proof” category, some of the people from the other side are providing blatant lies, innuendos and, as noted in other comments, libelous statements.

    What struck me wrong was that all of the complaints about rudeness, lack of civility, poor taste, etc. was being leveled at the Puppies. Did some of the comments by the Puppies or their supporters deserve the criticism? Undoubtedly. But where was the corresponding criticism of the opposing side? Where was the public condemnation of the outright lies, slander and libel that was been leveled at the Puppies? For the most part it was absent.

    Anything that was written to clarify or educate the authors of the articles of possible mistakes was, regardless of the politeness of the comment, being attacked and dismissed. I actually commented on one of the articles that came out last week accusing the Puppies of misogyny and racism with links supporting my arguments and was dismissed as simply being a part of the “Puppies hit squad”.

    It has been very disheartening.

    Mary – I appreciate your article. I appreciate the tone of the article. I appreciate the sentiment of the article. We need more articles like this that try to bridge the gap between those on both sides who are honestly looking to improve the process.

    I cringe at some of the comments though. It is apparent that the commentors are not doing their own research and simply listening to the talking points put out. I would ask that these commentors stop accepting what one side is saying about the other and go see for yourself what they are saying. Its the internet for heavens sake, it isn’t like you have to even go down to your local library to find the magazine or newspaper with the comments.

    I know people don’t have time to read everything on the net, but when people from the SP side would post links to help clarify what actually was and wasn’t said they would be attacked or ignored. Maybe some people would read those links and be convinced of the truth of the SP claims but even then very few would actually stand up for that later.

    That is why I started posting, I was tired of the blatent misrepresentation on the one side and the lazyness of their “opponents” supporters.

    For those who really do want to know why the SP are what they are I would recommend the following blog post by Larry Correia:

    One of the most telling quotes from that article is the following:

    “Over the years I’ve done Sad Puppies, do you know how many fannish blogs, fanzines, and podcasts interviewed me, the guy who started the campaign, about the goals of Sad Puppies?


    Mary, I am glad you are helping establish a dialogue. I am cheered by those fans who post honest, educated opinions regardless of whether or not I happen to agree with them.

    As for myself, the one time lurker? I am no longer willing to sit silent and let the conversation be monopolized by those who spew blatent falsehoods and those who simply parrot them.

    1. Aroo? You’ve talked about commentators not doing their own research so I’m going to have to ask for a clarification here. “Most discussions from the Puppies side seem to include admissions that they read a variety of SF/Fantasy viewpoints. Those from the other side seem to glory in not doing so.”

      Because, wow. That is so not my experience. Also — I have to object, in general to “the other side” since there isn’t an organized group opposing the Sad Puppies.

      1. I have to say that not every Sad Puppy has the same taste. I sympathize with them, but my tastes are actually more literary, although I also appreciate a good adventure story and also epic fantasy. In fact, my favorite standalone fantasy is Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which is just amazing and I would say quite literary.

  87. Admiral Naismith

    I just like good stories. I came to fandom in large part to get away from some of the nasty things that go on in the real world, and to explore ways in which it might be different. It’s a safe place to retreat to, and to let my imagination be vulnerable.

    For about a week now, I’ve been feeling like something rare and beautiful, that I’ve played a small role in creating, even, has been gleefully smashed by ogres. The door was wide open, drinks and a wide-selection buffet available to all comers, and they just charged in, started breaking things in front of the astonished assembly, and shouted, “Huzzah! We have conquered a mighty citadel!”

    This year is my first chance to actually make it to a Worldcon in a long while, and it just had to be the year that THIS had to happen. It hurts, and inspires an urge to fight back hard, maybe destroy something back.

    This here post of yours is the thing that calmed me down, a bit. That’s the main thing I needed to say. Because your approach is thoughtful and gentle, like the fandom I’m used to. It’s what we need the most, in the real world and in all the others.

    Things are only fractured a little, not smashed. A little glue can put it back together, maybe even better. Thank you for reminding me about hope.

  88. Mary, I am again astounded by your energy (at reading all this stuff!) and your great heart. I’ll contribute this observation: Pace, Brad, but If this were in any way about science in science fiction, one would have expected to see Nancy Kress’ Nebula nominee “Yesterday’s Kin” on the recommended list. But that was crowded off by three C. S. Lewis-type fantasies by Wright. So maybe there’s another agenda.
    –Best, Gerald “G. David” Nordley.

  89. Hello, new reader here, because this offer of yours was mentioned in a thread discussing the whole PuppyGate thing, (I think at Digg? I was following links and got kinda lost).

    Donating memberships, however well-intentioned, just screams BAD IDEA to me.

    Won’t the puppies with just use it as validation for their claims?

    Won’t any votes from donated memberships be carefully scrutinized and in all likelihood discarded?

    The only positive I can see is that 75 people will be getting some free swag.

    1. Won’t the puppies with just use it as validation for their claims?

      I hope not, since I made the same offer on Brad Torgersen’s blog. If you read my post, I hope I’ve made it clear that Sad Puppies aren’t the enemy here. Do they have different values than I do? Probably. Like different fiction? Sometimes, yeah. Make me angry? Also yes. But enemy? No. Rabid Puppies on the other hand with their stated desire to burn down the Hugos? Hell yes, that’s enemy action.

      Won’t any votes from donated memberships be carefully scrutinized and in all likelihood discarded?

      No, because I talked to Sasquan about how to handle the donations. To avoid swaying people, I’m recusing myself from nominations next year and not talking about my personal preferences on the ballot.

      1. Thanks for the response, that’s good to know.

        Myself, I am totally bewildered and disappointed by the puppies. I largely read much the same stuff as them, Space Opera and some MilSF, but I have never felt sidelined for reading them, or that what I read is being undeservedly negelected. I read it because it’s what I enjoy.

        Perhaps it’s because although I’ve been a fan since the first page of my first Andre Norton, I’ve never really been a member of the fandom.

        But however you look at it, it’s ruined my ability to enjoy Larry Correia’s work.

  90. Mary:

    Because of your offer to buy random people a voting membership, I will buy one of your books. Looks like I’ll be reading some kind of romance book, with magic! The first one in the series looks to be on sale, so I’ll probably get that one.

    I began to get interested in the SPs, just before last year’s Hugos were announced. I tracked down a few of the free offerings that were posted hither and on on the web. I thought your story was terrific, and I’ll leave out my thoughts of some of the others.

    I started reading SF because of the Star Trek and 20000 Leagues Under The Sea TV shows. I loved “Soylent Green”, “Silent Running”, and “Planet Of The Apes” for sure. Then “Star Wars” came out. Then I joined the SF Book Club — read The Hugo Winners 1-3, SF HoF, etc. Then “Bladerunner” came out.

    Because of the SPs, I have come back to SF after drifting away during college. I re-read a couple of the classics that I loved in my youth. Surprisingly, I was unable to plow through the entire “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress”. Struggled to finish “A Boy And His Dog”. Still love “Man In The High Castle”.

    I’ve never been to a con, but here I am. I paid my $40, and I plan on voting after reading as many of the offerings as I can. I’ve already read Tom Kratman’s novella and liked it just fine.

    1. Thanks for picking up SOMAH and yes, definitely romance with magic. It’s a Jane Austen pastiche, and if you liked Lady Astronaut, you’ll probably like this too. But if you haven’t purchased it yet, and prefer more swashbuckling fiction, my fourth novel is a heist novel.

      And thank you for voting and participating this year.

      1. I’m more into hardboiled stuff lately — Chandler, Stark, etc — so a heist novel? Done! Thanks for the tip.

  91. I very much like the idea of sponsoring supporting memberships. Ideally, lots of different people/groups could do this. For those who are thinking about it, could you share *how* this is done? I mean the actual acquisition of a membership for someone else. I would imagine around awardee #20 it would get tiresome to fill out everything on the online form 😉

    1. Sure! I have a random number generator and will use that to draw names. When it was just ten people, I was going to send them the $40 and trust that they were actually going to use it to vote. With seventy-five? I contacted Sasquan who gave me the spreadsheet layout that they need. I’m going to use a google form and let the recipients fill out their info. Then I’ll pass that spreadsheet to WorldCon and paypal them the money as a lump sum.

      Note: At this point, what I’m essentially doing is becoming a volunteer for WorldCon handling scholarships. Whee!

      More realistically, for smaller numbers, I’d just make the offer and let them fill out the registration. Then I’d either paypal the money to WorldCon for the friend, or give it to the friend.

      1. And people wonder why they should pay $40 for a membership.

        My SAT test’s written section was based upon “No good deed goes unpunished”. I had never heard that phrase before. I have come to understand its meaning since then.


  92. Again I am responding to the call for action to buy supporting memberships in order to vote. My opinion is this makes Worldcon a buy a vote for the Hugo’s organization.
    I do not encourage anyone to buy a supporting membership or ask for help in buying one if you can’t afford one in order to vote for a Hugo award.

  93. Last time I procrastinated and my ballot didn’t get counted coming in too late somehow; so I am fixated on reading thru and voting as early as I can. Tho I am saddened that it appears that No Award will be my fallback too often. Not just because of the ballot stuffing being done by the Sad Puppies movement but also, over the years I’ve been reading SF (1964), I am still more comfortable with a few old line pulps and a few well vetted by critic paper novels. So many nominations are from online only sources which I don’t have the money to subscribe to them all. I feel left out and clueless by all this new media by the young whipper-snappers. So I depend sometimes on Dozois and now Strahan and Locus to point towards the good 10% of them. The trouble is, it is or will be too late to use this method for this particular ballot. I really prefer the old school lack of success and ghettoized genre smallness which SF, F and H had prior to Star Wars and other successful media made the genre too big to even skim thru to know intelligently what was going on and trending. You have to deliberately specialize in your reading. For me personally that is the new space opera and the rare example of good truly hard SF based on good speculation in science and not so goddam soft sci or fantasy based with SF tropes disguising its meme. Also too much glut of dystopian escape to disguised fantasy negative crap (zombies, vampires, apocalyptic) because that is what sells. I wan to read positive visions of the future where we fictionally find a way to fix things. The best SF displays a way to inoculate yourself against Future Shock. The New Wave spec fic-ers have won and it is too much of a unfollowable muddle. This may be great for writers who want the freedom to write whatever the hell they feel like and the market is now happy to help them. Way too many crossover slipstream spec fic mash ups with no narrative focus in aid of the reader. Especially true of European writers but also effecting N. American writers because, well, they have to eat too, not just write to spec (pun intended)…Sturgeon’s Law has been overwhelmed by the apparent success of the conflated marketplace, because even the 10% is too many novels to even try to look at.

    1. It should be noted that relying on Locus will cause you to miss a lot (notably, in the last three years they have only one entry for Baen, which is questionable for a supposed survey of the field).

      No Weber, no Flint & Spoor, no Chadwick, no Gannon, no Correia, no Lee or Lee & Miller, no Spencer, no Van Name, no Hoyt. Writers who are diverse in style & subject. These aren’t no-names – Gannon is a Nebula nominee, Flint & Weber are bestsellers, Spencer a former Campbell winner, Chadwick was a star game designer who had a Steampunk game out (Space:1889) before Steampunk was even a thing.

      Not all of them are going to be to everyone’s taste. But none of them, except Bujold, when Locus is listing around a hundred titles a year?

      That is certainly…. odd.

  94. This will be my first year being able to vote for the Hugos. It took me an embarrassingly long time to discover what the Hugos were, what they meant, and how I could become involved. I was so looking forward to it.

    And then the entire Sad/Rabid Pupply explosion happened. I’ll be honest: my enthusiasm for voting on the Hugos this year was very dampened due to how the nominations turned out.

    After reading this post, and seeing the support this effort has gained from other sources, I feel more hopeful and optimistic. I know it doesn’t fix the problem, but hopefully it’s the first step in the right direction to getting more fans regularly involved (and hopefully preventing something like this or worse from happening again).

    Thank you, Mary.

  95. I’ve been a SF/F reader since I was around 8 or 9. Fortunately, my public library had a pretty good shelf, though since it was in the ‘adult’ library I needed my mother’s collusion to get at it. I didn’t know about ‘fandom’ – I just knew that I liked this stuff. I’m pretty sure that I read just about everything on those shelves, be it hard SF or fantasy. As I recall what I read back then, a great deal of what was published in the 50s & 60s included social commentary of one sort or another, what I gather is now part of what the SP group finds offensive. So if they’re looking to get back to old style ‘real’ SF, they’re barking up the wrong tree.
    I personally, even though now in my upper 60s, read and like a wide range of SF/F. I like hard SF, I like urban fantasy and YA, I like (occasionally) a good Doc Smith style space opera, (I VERY much like Mary Robinette Kowal stories, and buy them right away when they appear), small press publications, and a wide range across the (pardon the expression, political) spectrum. I know that several of the authors I enjoy reading seem to be on the SP ‘we like this’ lists, to judge by various comments I have seen. I also enjoy books from authors whom they seem to hold in aversion.
    I didn’t even know about ‘fandom’ for many years; I just read the stuff. I don’t consider myself to be any kind of ‘trufan’ though I’ve been going to cons, including WorldCons, for over 30 years. Cons are a place where, when you go, people don’t treat you like you’re weird — they’re family. But despite what some people have said about being treated exclusively, rather than inclusively, at cons, I haven’t seen much of that going on. As a reader and as a con-goer, I don’t take the attitude that it’s ‘my way or the highway’. And although I’m not one of those touchy-feely, hugs-everyone-they-see types, I do try to be friendly to those around me. Of course not everyone is going to be friendly to everyone around them — they may have a hangover, be short on sleep, be in a hurry and not want to chat, and so forth. But I certainly don’t assume malice, or some kind of evil plot against some aspect of myself, when I encounter someone who isn’t prepared to make nice. Very few people at cons wear big signs saying ‘you’re going to hate me, because I’m conservative and have values other than yours.’ I don’t give a darn about other people’s issues, and most other fans don’t either. So I have to take with a grain of salt tales about how some people have been treated unkindly, or even viciously, by nasty judgmental ‘trufen’ who hated them because of (whatever). They’ve obviously had the misfortune to bump into one of ‘those’ family members — the ones no one wants to associate with at family reunions.
    I was shocked this year to see that a group (ANY group) would try to disenfranchise everyone else who was nominating books (and other works) that they felt were GOOD, just to make a point. Each year, I scrupulously read my way through as much of the previous year’s work as I can, including the three SF magazines I subscribe to. And then I nominate. I don’t nominate on the basis of a political or social agenda. I only nominate work that I feel represents good, well-written stories (I seldom go to the movies or watch TV, which pretty much limits any votes for that). This year, among other things, I nominated one of Brad Torgersen’s stories; however, due to the efforts of his friends, I’ll never know if enough other people also liked it enough for it to end up on the final ballot.
    And then I vote. I greatly welcomed the introduction of the Hugo reader packets some years ago, since it made it possible to actually read quite a few things that I would have otherwise missed. Even though I am really, really annoyed about this year’s nominations situation, I will read everything I can (it’s possible that at least some items may be missing from the reader packet, but I’ll do my best), and then try to do an ethical job of voting for QUALITY. Not based on silly notions about an author’s politics or social leanings, which I have little or no knowledge of anyway, but was it a good story. I expect that most other WorldCon members who bother to vote will do the same. And if enough other people also vote for quality, instead of just to bolster a political agenda (or to oppose the SPs by voting No Award – Pease Don’t!), perhaps the Hugo will not end up being particularly tarnished after all.

  96. It is interesting to step back and consider the clash of dynamics transpiring within this whole situation. I see three in particular, all of which are touched on across this inspired post and its heartfelt comments.

    1. We have writers involved in the overall situation who are publicly attributed with divisive, even offensive viewpoints.

    It can be hard to remain rational when facing such people. Emotions get stirred. Name-calling resounds and accusations fly. The overall participants try mightily to marginalize the offenders or, at the least, ensure their own views and perspectives remain greatly distanced from and untainted by the offending ones, sometimes to the extent where that then becomes the primary focus. If this happens to a majority of participants, hopes for a constructive debate are lost. Without that debate, change for the greater good is improbable.

    2. Popularity contests, by their nature, carry a risk that some of the constituency will be disenfranchised.

    No matter what your leaning, if there aren’t enough voices like yours in the contest, odds are you’ll experience some disappointment. Prolong that sufficiently and people will feel compelled to either walk away or take more drastic actions to influence the outcome. Such actions could be within the confines, ethos and rules of the contest. Some without. In the worst cases, infighting ensues and the contest degenerates into a bitter, contentious struggle between factions. In the best cases, the minority mobilizes to advance their cause and candidates accordingly, garnering success, thus inspiring similar reactions from the other contest groups. Clearly if the contest is to survive, draw in more participants, and deliver more compelling outcomes over time, the latter not the former must prevail.

    3. The Hugo awards represent the true will of the fan base.

    Yes. Though, by design, only for a subset of the greater SFF community. Specifically for the Hugos, it’s the membership of the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS, which 40 USD can purchase for one year, as noted). Thus the demographic of the WSFS is the beating heart of the popularity contest behind the awards. The greater the diversity and inclusivity of that demographic, the stronger that heartbeat grows. This is what is troubling about comments from Sokyrka, Daniela and others who are dismayed by what they find–or not–going on within that demographic, to the point it turns them off.

    Ultimately for this situation to have a winning outcome, we must ensure a civil debate continues, a healthy, competitive awards process is fostered, and the foundational fan base grows much wider in its breadth, not just its depth. That’s a tall order. Not impossible though. Not as long as people are willing to take positive action, no matter how large or small, to achieve it.

    Thanks, Mary, for stepping up and taking action.

    While I’m here, I have to put a plug in for Harry Harrison and The Stainless Steel Rat. Also A. E. van Vogt showed me how much immense wonder could be packaged into a short story.

  97. Thanks for replying, and thoughtfully, too. The whole “Bad puppies lay down with racists, rape apologists, and women haters and bring fleas, GO HOME BAD PUPPIES” “not in MY neighborhood” is intimidating. Reminds me a bit of when I was a kid. We took short trips, what we could afford. We went to a small spot in Illinois. Saw re-enactors making wood roof tiles with 2 handed knifes. Blacksmithing horseshoes. Lacing up vegetables to dry in the sun “for winter”. Then we saw a film which showed people getting killed, and most of their friends leaving. As a child, I asked a lady why did they do it? She said that angry frightened people do things they normally wouldn’t. I decided then to try to not be one of those people. Some folks now perceive me as one of those people, and that is unfortunate. Perhaps the Hugos will be changed to have a broader base of voters. I thought it was something bigger than a fan award, just for Worldcon. Loved seeing when Girl Genus won it because I have followed them for years (yes I have seen it more than once). Saw that it’s own introduction lists it as “presented annually since 1955, are science fiction’s most prestigious award”. I hope it stays that, and doesn’t become just the “Worldcon’s favorite” award. There is too much history to lose if that happens. This whole thing is making me reconsider if I really want to go to DucKon, which friends I have known for years have invited me to. I was really considering it and now it has been canceled because of financial issues. Sad.

  98. Mary, I appreciate what you are doing to try to bridge the divide. Somehow, writers need to start supporting other writers again rather than attacking them — and I don’t know how to get that done, except to try to meet people halfway and understand the distress on both sides.

    Then try to alleviate that distress.

    You are doing that, and I thank you for it.

    Anyway, as to how I got involved in reading SF&F? I read Andre Norton — “Ice Crown,” “Forerunner Foray,” and many other novels, including the Time Traders saga, the Witch World novels and the two books about Murdoc Jern and his companion and friend, Eet. I read Madeleine L’Engle. I read RAH, but liked “Time Enough for Love” much more than any of his juveniles (save, perhaps, for “Double Star”) — all this before I was 14 years old. (Did I fully understand all the sex? No. Did I think Lazurus Long was an interesting individual? Definitely.)

    Then I went on to Donaldson, Le Guin, Lackey, MZB, Bujold, and so on. Every so often, I discover or rediscover an author I hadn’t known about before or hadn’t considered in quite that way — that’s how I started reading Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, for example. It’s how I discovered Stephanie Osborn, too — her SF/romances about hyperspatial physicist Skye Chadwick and Sherlock Holmes (brought to our time via the World of Myth/parallel universes theory) are not to be missed. And when I read Katharine Eliska Kimbriel’s “Fires of Nuala” a few years back and reviewed it, my enjoyment of Ms. Kimbriel’s writing sparked an excellent pen-friendship.

    (This is how I always thought fandom was supposed to be.)

    I’m always glad to find new writers. That’s how I found your books about Jane and Vincent; I’ve read and reviewed three, and hope to read the fourth soon (a review will follow not too long afterward, guaranteed, over at Shiny Book Review). That’s how I found Ann Leckie, and that’s how I found Emily St. John Mandel’s “Station Eleven.”

    I try to celebrate writers wherever I find them, even if I don’t always understand or even agree with what they’re writing. That’s one reason I find this particular strife to be so disquieting, and it’s one reason why I hope that somehow, some way, SF&F will find a way to both celebrate story and inclusivity. (Surely there’s a way, isn’t there, for reasonable people to come to some sort of accommodation?)

  99. Boycotting is one thing, and bullying another entirely. Don’t bully and don’t give in either…cookies go to everyone here for supporting fandom all the way around!

  100. Mary,

    Until this post I had honestly never heard of you. I read voraciously, to the tune of about a hundred books a year. Some the of the authors I really enjoy are SP authors (which is what brought me here) but I don’t limit my reading by any stretch even though 90% of it is SF/F. I have also never used awards as a way to choose to books so SP, over all three years, has been a spectator sport for me. I think what you’re doing is very much in the spirit of what the ideals behind SP are and pretty spot on. I didn’t and won’t be buying a Worldcon membership because I’m really too apathetic to vote. However I want to show my support to you, for the way you are conducting this discussion. I know the Hugo matters to some portion of fandom, and not a small portion, and what you’re doing here is laudable. Thanks for being a voice of reason, even if I don’t agree with you on everything. You seem like the sort of person I could enjoy a beer with (or coffee if that’s your bent). I’ll be looking over your work with hopes of buying one or more of your books.

    1. Conversations where everyone agrees about everything generally wind up being very dull. If we’re ever at a con together, beer is in order. (Or single malt, which is my preference)

      Since the SP authors tend to write stuff on the swashbuckling end, may I suggest starting with my fourth book? Valour and Vanity is a heist novel. (It’s a series, but they all work as standalones.)

      1. I’ll start there but outside of the SP authors I absolutely love Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, Daniel Polansky, Joe Abercrombie, Brian McClellan, Seannan McGuire (at least the Toby Day books), and many others.

  101. I’ve been going to or supporting WorldCon for almost 40 years. Frankly, the Sad Puppies thing is *overdue*.
    Yes, there are people being actively excluded *by fandom*. This is not new. As I mentioned at Not A Blog plenty of openly religious and socially conservative people who have been part of fandom for decades don’t just ‘feel’ excluded, they can point to specific incidents, incidents that have become more frequent in recent years.
    Let’s focus on what the Hugos are actually about (or are meant to be about): -writing-; good writing; entertaining writing. Leave politics where it belongs, in politics, and let’s be as race-blind as MLK asked us to be and do what we love; read books and talk about books for the sake or reading and talking.

    1. Actually… I think the problem isn’t politics at all. I think the problem is that a few assholes can mess it up for everyone.

      For years and years, women have not felt safe at SFF conventions. Not because every man was going to grab her, but because there were enough that did that you could never be sure who was safe. Even worse, no one was calling the behavior out. Which meant that a few assholes ruined it, and by being silent, everyone else was complicit.

      Where we run into conflict is that a lot of the things that are making spaces safer for women are because people are calling out assholes for sexism. BUT because so many people have been unwittingly complicit for so long, there’s a lot of behavior that used to look acceptable (even though it never felt comfortable to the recipient) that is now getting pointed out. So it feels like the rules have changed. And they have. But that doesn’t mean that anyone is targeting openly religious and socially conservative people. It means that the assholes, who happen to be openly religious and socially conservative, are getting called out for bad behavior. And then, because they are assholes, they don’t listen and adjust behavior to avoid the problem. And they keep doing it.

      Which makes people angry and then the calling out because loud and full of rage.

      And then it leads to a cycle where the person things it’s because of their background, but really it’s just because they are an asshole.

      So for me, the answer isn’t to stop talking about politics/ideology/religion, it’s to be better at listening to other people when they talk about their experiences.

      (Also, when MLK talked about judging by “the content of their character” he wasn’t talking about ignoring a person’s experiences and culture. He dreamed that one day skin colour wouldn’t be a barrier, but we aren’t there yet.)

      1. Quite right – this is a few assholes gaming the system.

        Until the Hugo rules are fixed to prevent that from happening, I don’t feel inclined to buy a membership to help dilute the effect.

  102. “Racism against white people isn’t a thing”

    This is about forcing a change in the ordinary meaning of a word. It isn’t unreasonable that the word be changed because we already have “bigotry” and other words to fit those other situations but it is not obvious nor is it obviously correct.
    And I’m too much of an old curmudgeon to accept a change in the meaning of a word without comment.

    1. If I may? In sociology, the short definition of racism is “a race based system of privilege.” So the professional use of the word in critical thinking is much more specific than the dictionary definition. So, in critical thinking about race, “racism” is not a broad synonym for “bigotry” and prejudice. This isn’t a new change in the meaning, it’s just that we’re using the professional, narrower, definition instead of the very broad dictionary based one.

      This is why I started with definitions up top, and jumped in to slow this conversation down. We have at least two groups of people who are using the same word to mean different things.

      1. MRK –

        Professionals working in their fields all have their jargon and trade words – which writers use to give depth to dialog and description for characters in those professions. A blacksmith would not describe a piece of metal which they were fashioning into a tool in the same way a busdriver or an er nurse would. Likewise, a competent er nurse uses different vocabulary when speaking to the physician than with the patient.

        I know that sociologists have more closely defined the word ‘racism’. But when the blacksmith, the busdriver, and the er nurse talk about ‘racism’ and when they read it in the newspaper – they use the word as laypeople use it. For laypeople there is no dual definition. When they say someone is ‘racist’ they mean a person of exceptional bigotry who exercises that bigotry with the intent to harm others. They do not mean “a fellow human subject to unconscious absorption of the mores of their society, just as all of us are.”

        I have more recently seen this dual use of the same word or concept to be called the “motte-and-bailey” defense – which is a type of verbal fencing that, imo, borders on the disingenuous.

        Continuing to use this word in this manner is a major barrier to communication and bridge-building, and it gives yet another weapon to people (on both sides) who already have far too many options for beating on the rest of us.

        1. I agree that using any piece of jargon without defining how you’re using it is a major barrier, which is why I jumped in to explain how racism was being used by the original poster who said, “Racism against white people isn’t a thing.”

          It was clear that they were going to be talking at cross-purposes, because they were using the word in two different ways.

          However, it’s incorrect to say that no one outside of the profession uses “racism” in this way. Over in liberal land in SFF, we had a bunch of very serious conversations about race a couple of years ago, so there’s a big sub-set of people who because much more educated in critical race theory. That, in turn, is showing up in convention programming so there’s a substantial group within SFF that uses “racism” in the “a race based system of advantage” sense.

          I’m really, really grateful that you provided the alternate definition, because it demonstrates how these conversations can go off the rails.

          (And suddenly my debate training, of starting with definitions, makes sense.)

        2. However, it’s incorrect to say that no one outside of the profession uses “racism” in this way. Over in liberal land in SFF, we had a bunch of very serious conversations about race a couple of years ago, so there’s a big sub-set of people who because much more educated in critical race theory.

          Yes. I was there. I saw it. It was ugly and vicious and nasty. What I saw was a number of people who were professionals (or at least graduate students) in “Critical Race Theory” who forced the use of the narrow definition on the lay people who originally did not use the word in that manner, until to be a member of liberal land in SFF, you had to accept the dual definition.

          Those who did not adopt the new dual definition were told to shut up, go away, or (preferably) both.

          Which is why that dual definition remains highly limited in use, easily mistaken, and weaponized by those invested in “winning” the conversations.

          I am not a social justice paladin, and so it is completely outside my preview to pass any judgement on the vocabulary used there. (There are precedents for members of a group using words in ways that other people outside the group do not.)

          But unless one is going to specify before each use of a word that one is using the specific, specialized term, rather than the more commonly used definition, one can not be surprised when the listener is confused.

          Even though I know that ‘vulgar’ means ‘ordinary and common’ – in the sense of every day – it is generally accepted that if I were to call my friend’s t-shirt ‘vulgar’ I meant something neither neutral nor complementary.

          Again – the use of this word in this way, particularly with the really nasty anti-conservative agendas attached to many of those most eagerly endorsing its use, is a major barrier to communicating across ideological lines.

          It makes people angry. It makes people defensive, and it makes people shut down their end of the ‘conversation.’

          For people who want to build bridges, I ask: please stop using it like this in open dialog.

        3. @keranih I would like to make the counter request that when someone says, “I see that we are speaking at cross-purposes. I am using the word in this way” and that way is, in fact, legitimate, that you thank them for clarifying instead of telling them that they are wrong.

          If one is to have open dialog, it does involve listening and adapting for both parties.

          Now, when you say, “anti-conservative agenda” what do you mean?

      2. Reasonably Neutral Observer

        With due respect, this is not a sound argument. If for no other reason that if we’re going to start using professional definitions, you have to let the patent lawyers start using the professional definition of “obvious,” and nobody will like where that ends up, except the patent lawyers.

        1. I’m not making an argument. I’m explaining why we have two groups of people using the same word to mean different things. Both of those meanings are valid within their communities, because within those communities, everyone is using the same definition.

          When we have two communities coming together like this, there’s bound to be some misunderstandings that are simply based on using the same words to mean different things.

        2. Reasonably Neutral Observer

          In patent law, there is a principle of law usually phrased something like this:

          “The applicant may serve as his or her own lexicographer. However, if the application uses a word in a way not obvious to one of ordinary skill in the relevant art, it is incumbent upon the applicant to ensure that the usage is clear from the context of the application. Any ambiguity introduced by the nonstandard usage of a word or phrase shall be interpreted against the applicant and shall be read as narrowly as possible.”

          The reason for this is that we want patents to be clear. We don’t want to waste time arguing about what the applicant “meant.” (We do anyway, but this is the idea.) So if a word has a commonly understood meaning, it is up to you to say so, clearly, if you are using it in a different way.

          If anything, this principle is more important when discussing subjects of general interest. I understand why some people use the narrow definition of racism, and I understand what they mean by it. I also understand that all arguments are, ultimately, about definitions, and who makes the definition, wins the argument. I feel it’s perfectly reasonable to request that people using a narrower/nonstandard definition explicitly say so when they do it. I am certainly not going to argue with the idea that if you define X to be Y, and Z is not Y, then Z is not X. But that is not how one actually convinces people of anything, other than that you are being pedantically obstructionist. Which obviously I know all about.:)

        3. The problem is that when you are working in a community where everyone uses the same definition, then it doesn’t necessarily occur to you that it is non-standard. In your community it is. For instance, I’ve been in theater for so long that I had no idea that “proscenium” wasn’t a common use word. It is part of the natural language of my community.

          So, while in a debate I can say, “here are the terms and definitions” in real life, it doesn’t always occur to someone that they are using the same word to mean two different things.

          For me, the key is to stop as soon as you realize that you are speaking at cross-purposes and take a moment to clarify.

  103. I’ve been reading SFF for a very long time. (I am old and cranky, you understand.) It looks kind of sad to me to see things like this current Hugo brouhaha happening in a place I always saw as my refuge. The place I could go and find people who may not agree with me on every detail, but who accepted and even celebrated the fact the we are all different, and at the same time, the same. You are right- there are more of us than there are of them, and we should stand up and let them see that.

    As for good SFF, well, I have to recommend your books. All that I’ve read have been enjoyable. I would also recommend John Scalzi, Daniel Abraham, Timothy Zahn, among others. And one certainly can’t go wrong with the classics: Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, and the like.

  104. I read a lot (though less for pleasure now than I used to, since I have a very heavy work-related reading load), and have been an SFF fan since I was about 10 years old. For me, it started with gifts from a family friend of The Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings, and continued with piles of used paperbacks that the same friend would pass on to me when he finished with them. It was a pretty random and diverse selection: the deepest impressions in those early days were made by Asimov, Zenna Henderson, A Canticle For Leibowitz, and Le Guin. Through my teen years, I continued to read a lot of SF, but really preferred fantasy, and read widely in that genre through the 80s and early-mid 90s. Over the last 20 years, I’ve continued to read some SFF (especially fantasy — I got a little obsessed with the Wheel of Time in college, and stayed with it until the bitter end), but have spent at least as much time reading classic novels and literary fiction.

    Despite this, I’ve always felt like I was on the fringes on the SFF community. Although I’ve been to cons, I never really found one that felt like “home” to me. My interests tend to be wide instead of deep, so I dip my toe into a lot of pools both inside and outside what I’d consider “traditional” geek interests: tabletop gaming, video gaming, Star Trek fandom, historical fiction, literary fiction, classical music — you get the idea. I don’t have the deep knowledge of one or two specific areas that has so often been a prerequisite for comfortable participation in con culture. (Not saying every con is like that, especially now — that’s just my experience).

    Anyway, I’ve also never been a Hugo voter for much the same reason. I didn’t feel like I had enough depth in SFF to make the best choices. But like many people, I’ve relied on lists of Hugo nominees and winners to find good stuff to read over the years. As expected, I love some of it and find some of it not to my taste. Such is life, right?

    I’ve become much more interested and motivated this year largely due to a negative reaction to what SP has done. I’m continually baffled by how many people apparently believe that if they don’t like something, no one could possibly like it on its own merits (let alone enough people to, say, select the thing they don’t like as a Hugo winner). That just doesn’t jibe with my experience of the world. I love stuff that lots of other people either hate or are indifferent to. I hate or am indifferent to lots of stuff that other people love. It never surprises me when stuff that makes me go “meh” or “eww” becomes wildly popular; similarly, I am never surprised when stuff that I am super enthusiastic about gets negative reactions from others. There’s no accounting for taste, mine or anyone else’s. There’s no need to posit “conspiracy” or any kind of planned, systematic exclusion of anyone from the Hugos (or any other popularity contest); the simplest explanation by far is just that different people like different things.

    Anyway, this is too long. But I’m someone who’s a longtime fan, who has nevertheless always felt like I’m on the fringes of the community for a variety of reasons. This controversy makes me want to stand up and be counted, though — and I probably will.

    1. spellproof, I think this issue is not as straightforward as some people being angry that the book they liked didn’t get an award. It has its roots in a whole section of the fandom not feeling accepted as part of the community for political and ideological reasons.

      1. I am sure that is true of some people. But I’ve seen enough SP-friendly blog posts and comments in recent days to make it clear that this isn’t just about some people feeling like they’re not welcome at the party. There are many who really do seem to find it inconceivable that works they hate or see no value in could in fact be enjoyed and/or beloved by a whole lot of people. Hence the cries of conspiracy.

        The criteria that any individual voter uses to determine merit are wholly subjective. And we’re all welcome to express our opinions, which may or may not sway others. Some people do that in extremely strong terms, to the point of abandoning civility. I think that’s unfortunate, but also not something that is likely to change (on either side). It’s not as if there’s some person or secret cabal that gives all of the so-called “SJWs” their marching orders, which they unquestioningly obey. Calls for civility are grand, and I’m glad to see people like MRK and GRRM doing that. But individuals ultimately make their own decisions about how to behave, and it would be naive to think that the nastiness, whatever its source, can simply be eliminated if prominent voices say it should be.

        1. I can’t speak for anybody else, but I sympathize with the SPs because I feel that the atmosphere in fandom is turning poisonous for those who do not have the right beliefs or do not toe the arbitrary ideological line that SJWs want to impose on all of us. I have seen public figures bullied viciously in view of all, and not be defended by anyone, because who wants to be called racist or sexist? I have noticed that in some conversations I need to remain silent because I don’t want to be attacked. And I’m fed up with it. It’s not right.

          I have nothing against women, LGBT or people of color. On the contrary, I think diversity is a good thing and that it enriches us all.

        2. Can you help me out? Because I’ve seen a couple of people say this, and I don’t actually know what they mean. When you say, “the right beliefs or do not toe the arbitrary ideological line that SJWs want to impose on all of us,” can you tell me what those beliefs and the ideological line seem to be to you?

  105. Mary,

    I just wanted to thank you for this. I grew up following my parents to WorldCons all over the US, and the Hugo ballot was never something taken lightly by either my mother or my father, who only nominated and voted in categories where they felt qualified to select what they thought best represented the genre.

    Although my dad isn’t ahead of the curve as much these days, he still looks to the Hugo results to find out which authors he should keep an eye out for, and I think that providing these voting memberships to those who might otherwise think themselves excluded from the fandom in some way will be a boon, even if it’s been brought about by some—difficulties.

  106. I understand what you say and sympathize completely. Women, like everybody, must be able to go to a convention and enjoy themselves celebrating the hobby with like-minded people without fearing that they are going to be harassed in any way.

    When you denounced this problem, you were met with a lot of skepticism. People saying: no, that cannot possibly be going on, I would have noticed. But the ones who notice are the victims. Feminists fought against that and rightly so. And it was difficult and it took a lot of campaigning for you to change things. To achieve that, and other objectives, you used many weapons, but some of those weapons are very dangerous and need to be used with extreme care.

    For example, one of those weapons is the ability to form outraged mobs on social networks against an enemy, and get positive (for you) coverage from the media. I’m not saying that this weapon should never be used. It’s extremely powerful, but some objectives are important that they may warrant it. However, it is in everybody’s interest that this weapon be used with a lot of restraint and responsibility, and only when strictly necessary and never against people who don’t truly deserve it, because of two reasons:
    1) Because it’s the decent thing to do.
    2) From a colder point of view, because it’s counterproductive. It’s like the child who cried wolf. When people see that power being used unfairly it creates a great sense of injustice. You make enemies of people who should not be your enemies.

    An example of this being used irresponsible was the whole Jonathan Ross fiasco last year. A completely innocent person was lynched and driven away by an angry mob, for no good reason at all. A well-known writer called Seanan McGuire said that she would not feel safe at the Hugo ceremony if Ross was there. That’s a particularly terrible thing to say about someone. It means that Ross is not fit for human company and that he should be kept away like an animal. And she publicly said this, of a person she did not know, for absolutely no good reason. A huge outraged mob formed on social media (because outrage is also used as a weapon) and Ross was lynched and had to run away. People who knew who he was were saying, “but this does not make any sense, why wouldn’t someone feel safe around Jonathan Ross?”. He’s a charming person and a great host, and would have attracted positive media attention in London and made sure everyone had a great time. Later, when asked, McGuire said that she did not need a good reason because she was talking about her feelings.

    Likewise, another weapon that is used is language. Racist and misogynistic or sexist are such loaded words that they are weapons. But when they are used indiscriminately against people just because they disagree about something, again, it’s indecent, and although in the short term it may get things done, in the long term people are saying, “These words no longer mean anything. They are just political weapons to be used against me.” Again, you make enemies of people who should not be your enemies. The same goes for words like “mansplain” or “check your privilege”. They get things done. They are like an automatic “I win this argument” card. From the moment they are said, the other person can only leave quietly, because anything he may say will mean that he is sexist. His opinion is worthless. But again, they make an enemy of someone who quite possibly should not be an enemy. They are a particularly nasty way of fighting against racism, focusing not on celebrating diversity but in subduing those who are white and male. True, sometimes we do not get it, just like you probably find it difficult to understand that we may feel this way. But explaining something in a reasonable manner is so much more better. Look at how GRRM is talking about this, even though he does not share at all the SP’s position. With someone like that you can talk, and see his point of view and hopefully help him understand yours a little, too. With someone who says we are a bunch of racists who want to keep women and homosexuals and people of color out of SF it’s difficult to talk (unless they are saying this just because they have been misinformed). And the thing is that we no longer care that we are called racists or whatever, because we know who we are and we do not need validation, particularly from people who are behaving that way.

    The only way we will be able to go forward is that we learn to respect each other and understand that we may see some things different but it does not mean that the other side must be (figuratively) beaten into submission and made quiet.

    Another unsavory example was what happened with Resnick and Malzberg at the SFWA. They are two old writers who had a column in the SFWA magazine in which they had conversations about their memories of the business and conventions of years past. I understand that the subject may not be of much interest for many people, particularly younger ones. For others, even younger ones, the history of fandom is interesting. They can be substituted if they are not relevant enough for the purposes of the magazine. What they can’t be (should not be) is unfairly lynched. The thing is that in one of those they referred to a female editor as “lady editor” and said something complimentary about her appearance, like being beautiful and a “knock out” or something. Now, “lady editor” is not a way I would refer to a female editor, but it is just old fashioned, not sexist. Same thing about being a “knock out”. I would mention that if it were relevant, but I would just use beautiful, or good-looking. But these are two old people speaking. They had no sexist intention at all. One has to understand that. They were not the patriarchy out to oppress anyone, they are just two old writers sharing memories. Their use of language is a bit different. But it is sexist only from a doctrinal and totalitarian point of view, devoid of empathy. If you must, a polite email explaining that you know they had no intention to offend anyone, but that the use of the language is changing somewhat and some people may interpret lady editor as a bit condescending would probably have gone a long way. Instead, the atmosphere was so charged that they had to be lynched. When they reacted to defend themselves of the insults they were lynched some more. The newspapers said “sexism in the SFWA!”. Finally they were driven away.

    People talk about microaggressions, and then join a campaign on Twitter to mock Baen, on account of their committing the crime of organizing a short story contest. Look, I’m not saying you can’t make jokes, but under a constant atmosphere of persecution some things come across as mean spirited.

    When Larry Correia was nominated for an award people actually organized themselves online to tell each other that he had to be voted below no award, because he had been active in conservative politics. And no one said that this is not right.

    Really, it is no way to treat people. It makes us feel that there is a war against us. Everybody needs to treat you with respect, but you have to understand that not everybody needs to toe the land to every bit of your ideology. Yours is a valuable voice, but it’s not the only one. Choose your battles. Persuade. Listen to other people too. Understand that not everybody will change their mind whenever you would like, and that it’s OK. There’s no need to metaphorically suppress those people. Don’t run ever people. You do not have 100% possession of the truth. Reasonable people may not disagree about discrimination, but they may disagree about positive discrimination.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your feelings and thoughts on this.

      If I may… Since we are speaking of language, I’d like to request that you not use the lynching metaphor, since it is a very loaded term with a lot of negative history.

      Second — With the Resnick and Malzberg column, the problem was not that they said “lady editors.” It was that when people said, “I find this offensive” they then called those people “fascists.”

      Pretty much everyone understands that unintentional sexism/racism/ageism happen. The thing is that an act of sexism causes damage whether it is unwitting or intentional. And someone doubles-down, it becomes intentional.

      When Larry Correia was nominated for an award people actually organized themselves online to tell each other that he had to be voted below no award, because he had been active in conservative politics.

      I’m afraid you’ve been misinformed. The problem was not Larry’s politics, because there were other people on the ballot with similar politics that year. The problem was that he had subverted a seventy-five year old process by creating a slate and creating it with works that were designed to “to poke the establishment in the eye.” It was the stated intention to try to break the Hugos that got everyone upset.

      1. The problem is that if I do not use the term lynching I have to use a longer sentence describing it, and that gets tiring when you have to say it several times. I will not use it here, though, since you requested it.

        So people told them politely and they started shouting fascists? Somehow I find that difficult to believe.

        No, I have not been misinformed. I was not referring to his Hugo nomination, but to his earlier Campbell nomination, which is what planted the seed that ended up starting this whole thing.

        1. So people told them politely and they started shouting fascists? Somehow I find that difficult to believe.

          Yes. It’s all in print, if you’d like to read it.

          No, I have not been misinformed. I was not referring to his Hugo nomination, but to his earlier Campbell nomination, which is what planted the seed that ended up starting this whole thing.

          Ah. I misunderstood. My problem is that I never heard a peep about his politics, and if anyone is socially connected, it’s me. Can you point me to one of these posts so I can get some context?

  107. I really wish, at times like these, that I wasn’t stuck in a small Central European country and could do something too.
    Unfortunately I’m not even sure if I would be eligible to become a supporting member at all. (Seeing that I would not be able to travel to the US anyway…)

    I’m starting to be really displeased with being just a passive observer. Any advice as to how I could help this cause would be much appreciated.

    (P.S: English isn’t my first language so I apologize if my phrasing is weird or plain wrong.)

    1. English is not my first language either. Cathy, and you write perfectly.

      Supporting members do not have to travel, because they do not attend the WorldCon. They just receive information and the pack with a lot of reading material (many nominees give permission for this, so that people may judge them when voting. Most of the short fiction will be there, and probably some complete novels.)

  108. As a sad puppy supporter. ..involving more people and having the greater conversation while putting forward a diverse set of works is pretty much what the majority of us want.

    1. ZeeWulf, I believe you.

      If you don’t mind, may I explain my perspective and see if it makes sense to you?

      For me, the public actions of two people are overshadowing the whole thing.

      Larry Correia: My impression (which may be wrong but which is based on things he’s written) is that he did SP 1 & 2 to make people mad and/or to prove some point about the Hugos by getting nominated and then losing. He’s still heavily involved this year even though Brad took the leading role. So even though the stated aim of the campaign has changed, it still has the same name and still involves the original guy who started it with a different goal than you and Brad are expressing. Larry also specifically reached out to GamerGate to tell them about the campaign this year, which I think was doing a huge disservice to Brad and people like you, because it makes it march harder to take seriously the idea that the campaign is not still about riling people up.

      Vox Day: Because there is so much overlap between his slate and Brad’s, it’s impossible to tell how many of the nominations came from people like you, acting in good faith, and how many came from people like him. The fact that the RP slate seems to have done better overall than SP makes it more likely that it’s mostly his supporters, in fact. And he has made it very clear that he just wants to watch the world(con) burn. I freely stipulate that no one has any control over what he does and it probably feels unfair to have people associate his actions with SP, but he can’t just be ignored.

      So, even though I believe that you and many others are acting in good faith here, I’m really skeptical about the motives of some other nominators. And I think a lot of people who feel the way I do are trying to work out a way to stop the bad actors from messing things up for everybody, without hurting people like you who just want to see works you love have a fair chance.

      Does that make sense? Do you understand where I’m coming from? Thanks for reading.

      1. “Larry also specifically reached out to GamerGate to tell them about the campaign this year”. Please provide a link wherein Larry does that.

        1. I’m going to provide the link with the goal of helping you understand my perspective. I am not interested in either of us proving anything, but just explaining how things look, okay?

          Larry asked for links of SJW attacks for a reporter. That reporter was Milo Yiannopoulous, who is a prominent figure in GamerGate. Knowing the history of the GamerGate movement and what happens when Mr. Yiannopoulous posts, it is hard to look at that as anything except an attempt to bring specific people to the attention of GamerGate.

        2. I see where you are coming from, but I disagree.

          Larry contacts a Breitbart reporter. This reporter is interested. Larry provides info to the reporter. The reporter previously had exposed some Gamergate shenanigans .

          This is “reaching out to Gamergate”? I call it “offering a story to a sympathetic outlet”.

          Yeah, I suspect that that Venn diagram has a lot of overlap, but I think Larry is reasonably in the clear on this one.

  109. Why couldn’t this have happened *before* I paid for my supporting membership? 🙂 It’s not like it was in my budget, since I’m on fixed income, but I didn’t want this year to go by without my input.

  110. This a generous offer from you and your anonymous donors. But particularly you, since you are declining a potential future nomination.

    Thank you for this.

  111. I want to thank everyone who has been participating. Unfortunately, I’ve gotten zero writing done the past three days and really need to, so for my own health, I’m going to close comments tonight when I go to bed and leave them closed. Again, thank you.

    (The application for supporting memberships will remain open until midnight Central time on April 17th. At which point, there will be a random drawing.)

  112. Mary, I want to thank you for your kind generosity, and I hope that everyone who participates will do so with an eye to voting fairly for the works, not as dictated by agenda.

    And likewise, should any SPs offer the same generosity for less-fortunate fans, I hope that no one will accuse anyone of trying to buy votes — on either side of the controversy. I don’t believe that was your intent, nor would it be theirs.

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