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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Grist for the Mill » Does Anyone Have an Opinion About This?

   
Author Topic: Does Anyone Have an Opinion About This?
Robert Nowall
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http://www.breitbart.com/london/2015/02/05/the-hugo-wars-how-sci-fis-most-prestigious-awards-became-a-political-battleground/

I found it probably the most interesting thing I've read about the SF / Fantasy genre niche world in years. But I'm so out of it far as field gossip goes that I didn't even know some of this was going on.

Anybody know anything about it?

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Grumpy old guy
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Hasn't crossed my radar, but I'm not surprised. Such champions of justice as described in the article are notoriously intolerant, even violently intolerant, of any views they don't personally condone.

Just don't ask them to identify themselves or their aims; they are peculiarly reticent when asked to do that.

Phil.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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I've heard bits of this, but haven't been active in the SFF community for a few years, so I don't know all the details.
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LDWriter2
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It's sad:

I knew of some of that but it's gone a lot further than the last time I read anything about it--which wasn't that far ago,


As the article stated this intolerance in the name of tolerance has already hit other fields. Certain people are so over sensitive that it's amazing. And they have become a stereotype of the worse religious dogmatist.


What is worse is that a couple writers I respect and admire and follow on Google+ are on that side--Or they were at the beginning. I didn't read one hundred percent of the article but at about ninety percent those two or three were not mentioned. One is from here long time ago.


Another thing is that they do have a couple of real points, that probably should be discussed but they go so over board that it hinders that discussion in more than one way.

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extrinsic
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Personality cult power squabbling is why I'm a nonbelonger. SFWA's squabbles began when Damon Knight founded the parent organization and continue unending to raise dissent about SFWA's writer advocacy -- political -- and award culture. Culture politics are static, in a state of unstable, buffered equilibrium state of being: Stasis. And static -- the white-noise hiss of a corrupted transmission signal.

The Hugo awards' squabbles began at inception, too, and also within the sponsoring organization: the World Science Fiction Society and its conference culture. Literary award culture, across culture and society overall, squabbles and uncompromising dissent and dirty smear campaign politicking are more common than mutual compromise in any and every social group, which is extremely rare, though squabbles are kept confidential as much as possible.

Most anyone who becomes civically involved imposes their insular views on others with little or no regard for others' likewise insular views. Many become active because they've become cognitively aware and because they've become involved, because a particular activity matters to them, because they've been negatively or positively influenced by an activity, and because they've come of an age where they feel socially responsible participation is important in insular areas that matter to them. Jealousy, pride, and vanity, other social vices as well, (envy, gluttony, greed, wrath, maybe lust indirectly), underlay a large portion of their true though veiled agendas.

With rare exceptions, they argue past each other -- tactically and strategically exactly like each other, label each other with identical negatively charged buzz words, like "fascist," and from the same accusation grounds they themselves argue and trespass against -- out of a need to self-promote their insular views and careers and narrowly construed values by any means to their ends.

The assertions of the article sensationally demote an opposition view for expressing considerations about social responsibility as a political platform and is also from a political platform that asserts social responsibility claims and considerations. The opposition faction had itself previously stooped to opposition demotion from political platforms. Hypocrites. How about a little civil compromise and cooperation toward a more civil society instead? When did the grudges and figurative blood feuds start? Who knows!? At inception.

The contentious, never-ending conversation is as old as chromosonal Adam and mitochrondial Eve after their departure from the proverbial Garden and as recent as tomorrow. The pendulum swings when one faction feels others are too far ahead of it and it is too far behind others. The pendulum swings.

[ February 14, 2015, 02:40 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Grumpy old guy
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The first casualty of war is truth; whether that war is on the battlefield or in the minds of men.

Regardless of your views, or whatever cows you all hold sacred, you and I are not above manipulating the truth to serve our own ends. The truth will set you free: if you can find it.

I think it is incumbent on all of us to find the truth of an argument before committing ourselves to one side or the other; and that is no easy task. But, for the most part, I think that all of us have the capacity to see through the hokum being masqueraded as truth is we apply ourselves.

If we all think for ourselves critically, then the peddlers of misinformation better beware.

Phil.

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extrinsic
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I've many times read Damon Knight's signal short story "To Serve Man," Galaxy Press: November 1950, (PDF Perry Local Schools.org, Massillon, Ohio), Hugo 2001 retro award for 1951's "Best Short Story," from a literal approach. Figuratively interpreted as an extended metaphor and verbal irony, the narrative models the perils of masqueraded altruism and appeals to self-gratification as an ulterior predatory agenda.

[ February 14, 2015, 12:54 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Robert Nowall
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One thing I can say about the Science Fiction Writers of America: do not mistake this social organization for a strong union. I was told this well before I eventually did become involved in union activity.
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Reziac
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Attacking the problem more directly,

http://monsterhunternation.com/2015/02/23/the-social-justice-warrior-racist-reading-challenge-a-fisking/

I got there from this very long but interesting essay:

http://www.jamesmaystock.com/essays/Pages/DeathofSF.html

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Read what you want to read and write what you want to write, hoping that there are those out there who will want to read what you want to write.
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Grumpy old guy
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There will always be people who will stamp their foot, waggle their finger and loudly moan that, "People just aughta (insert bizarre social attitude here)."

Just remember what your mother said, "It's rude to point and laugh at the afflicted." [Smile]

Phil.

PS. In fact, ridicule is often the best response to such commentators. The problem is, they won't understand what you're doing and will take your comments at face value; which can be hilarious in its own way.

[ March 06, 2015, 06:30 AM: Message edited by: Grumpy old guy ]

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Robert Nowall
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Followup story to the above:

http://www.breitbart.com/london/2015/04/04/hugo-awards-nominations-swept-by-anti-sjw-anti-authoritarian-authors/

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Thought I'd share Dan Wells' take on this:

http://www.fearfulsymmetry.net/?p=2282

He has insightful things to offer from both sides.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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And this from Mary Robinette Kowal:

http://maryrobinettekowal.com/journal/please-stop-with-the-death-threats-and-the-hate-mail/

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extrinsic
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Really going political, all the stumps no matter the side. As ugly as electioneering is, which is dirty culture. The idea of nominating a slate of whatever makeup to tell others who they'd best side with for the argument and vote for Hugo awards, whatever, or else be numbered among the vile enemy is electioneering at its most distasteful.

Hidden self-involved agendas, other than politics, lay among the nonsense, too: self-promotion at the expense of others' feelings and status demotions by any feel good means to the end of crushing the opposition. This is petty-clique shunning, playground recess popularity pageantry. If the writers would just write and leave politics to feeble politicians, maybe their writing might earn the praise they can't by writing the same tired-out fiction they're stuck with and that is the crop anymore.

Personally, as far as I'm concerned, every one of the contributors to the contention no matter the position has lost much trust and respect in my eyes. Hard to win back.

[ April 07, 2015, 07:15 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Robert Nowall
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Being not a published writer and somewhat aloof from this sort of thing, it's difficult to sort out.

But if, say, I found out that my not being published had anything to do with my political opinions or positions...well, I'd set out to pull down the whole rotten structure around their ears.

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extrinsic
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That's the position of the several factions and a red herring. Marginally successful writers debuted and then had career crises and cast about for someone to blame externally, because they didn't experience meteoric glory, fame, and wealth they expected. The whole culture has been in crisis at least since the introduction of the Internet.

The challenge as I see it is to transcend the factional rivalries and produce appealing writing. The squabbles are meaningless misdirections of efforts and blame.

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Grumpy old guy
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extrinsic, I think you missed Robert's point. It's not that his expectations of fame and glory were denied by decree, it's that his opportunity to be fairly judged on merit was subsumed by 'others' political (whether classically political or philosophical) imperatives.

Judge me for the manner in which I write, not by some arbitrary moral standards you alone hold sway over.

Phil.

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extrinsic
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The factions each want to "tear down the whole rotten structure" by political machinations because they reject political machinations of others not of the same mindset -- that everyone should believe she or he is a better writer than they do. Never mind they are all about equal and only a degree above vanity press par. Thus the common declined writer lament, "Why them, not me, published, Hugo winner, etc.?"

The literary status quo establishment oscillates from one fashion to another, and political machinations for any given status quo fashion supremacy goes back in time to at least the Attic Orators of ancient Greece. They competed in Olympics-like forums. Affiliates stumped for them and they stumped for themselves.

How much of a story's popular or critical acclaim is genuinely based on identifiable artistic merit, and how much on personal sentiment and intuition, and how much on political stumping? Figuring that out -- that way lays madness and anger and frustration and feelings of worthlessness. They all matter to more or less equal degrees and are objectively quantifiable and qualifiable. But human biases are intimately involved.

Literary prize culture is the next and top-tier screening tradition. The culture is naturally and necessarily the most competitive tier: fewest slots, though the awards are numerous and different enough that a variety of criteria promote a variety of standouts: meritorious, subjective, and political and mixtures.

The vices most involved at present are jealousy in the form of envy, pride, wrath, greed, gluttony, sloth, and, usually indirectly, lust. All of them. What about some kindness, humility, patience, charity, temperance, diligence, and chastity for a change? Ahh the moral human condition! Put it on the fiction page and leave it out of public laundering. The science fiction community is in enough disrepute without making matters worse by petty and unnecessary rivalry squabbling.

Here's what net happened: a number of militant advocates for self-ideology promotion blew away their fifteen minutes of fame. Fine, room now for a new, perhaps more artful and persuasive and respectful crop.

[ April 08, 2015, 06:52 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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extrinsic
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Here's the timeline of the current cultural state:
  • General, factional, and perennial pushmi-pullya perceptions of pushmi-pullya social and cultural pressures set factions' nerves on edge. The pressure bases include sexual politics, social politics, economy politics, political politics, art politics, culture politics overall.
  • The general factional divide falls along perceived inequity of representation; that is, perceptions a faction's or individual's ideologies are underrepresented and other factions irresponsibly bogart the limelight.
  • The several factions believe the limelight bogarts are talentless hacks and are only in the limelight because of their popularity clique campaigns. In other words, not based on merit, based on an inverted idea everyone should be allotted a fair, fifteen minutes share of fame, so long as that means the faction's affiliates get their share first, foremost, and last. That is, based on participation in the competitions' contests everyone should win an equal prize. The warp comes from the factions' claims that winners should be genuinely competitive winners, not merely allotted an exceptional prize for also-ran participation.
  • The perceived inequities are also perceived as representing irresponsible social conduct: each faction believes that the others are imposing their irresponsible social values by force majeur of majority rules and minorities and dissenters can go fly a kite.
  • The current brouhaha's nominal pivot point erupted when the SFWA Bulletin, Winter 2013, Vol. 47, No. 200, published with a cover art of a suggestive female clad in a chain mail bikini, The Cover.
  • One faction objected to the perceived gratuitous use of the art, connected to a perceived biased article in the Bulletin contents.
  • One faction objected to the perceived, overt objectification of women on the Bulletin's face alone.
  • Another faction objected to the perceived objections.
  • Other factions made a few perceived disparaging comments against the several perceived objectors' factions.
  • Disparaging comments escalated in tone and quantity.
  • One faction determined to carry the argument forward across the culture; that is, to stifle perceived dissent by stumping on a so-called fairness campaign that, in actuality, is intended to promote its views to the exclusion of others'.
  • The fairness campaign lobby lobbied support among its rank and file to shut out other factions.
  • The current state of affairs is the fairness campaign faction is, for the moment, perceived ascendant and intends to substitute its regime for a previous regime's perceived supremacy.
  • And all will bow and swear fealty oath to the current regime or be put to the trial of the High Inquisitor's tortures.
  • Long may the current regime reign.
  • Never mind other factions are building and conducting their own alliances and fairness campaigns and strategies to stifle perceived opposition.


[ April 08, 2015, 09:57 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Grumpy old guy
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Ooohhh-kaaaaaay.

I think I'll just go fly a kite and ignore them all. They might not go away, but I won't be paying enough attention to notice one way or the other.

I'll just stick to puddling around writing bland and tiresome prose that's cliched and hackneyed.

I like it that way.

Phil.

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LDWriter2
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This has been discussed over at the WotF forum and by various people on Google+. Mary being one of those.


There seems to be a bit of confusion since there are two groups who have made their presence known. One group I believe felt the need to respond to the all inclusive push not only because of what is going on in SF but also what is going on in the wider society. This debate is just one smaller "battle" going on through out this country.

The other group or slate seems to be just jerks who should be totally ignored.

I side with those who think the uninclusiveness problem isn't as big as those who started this debate say it is. Or I seem to be able to find the books by and about certain types of people they say aren't being represented.

Some writers evidently have been treated unfairly: called names and such, but I believe most readers don't really care who or what wrote the book they love. And I wonder if the few other writers who do negatively care really are that big of deal.

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extrinsic
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One "slate" expresses and imposes an overt and ignoble political agenda, unseemly for a merit-based ideal. Another "slate" sarcastically mocks and ridicules the culture, perhaps ironically to intend a general satire of award rituals' vices and follies, though is overtly a superficial rant of a malcontent. Well, both.
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Robert Nowall
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Apparently there have been several changes in the slate of nominees plus a withdrawal by a trophy presenter.

Up above, I said something along the lines of "pulling the whole rotten structure down around their ears." It would seem others felt that way and are doing just that.

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LDWriter2
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quote:
Originally posted by Robert Nowall:
Apparently there have been several changes in the slate of nominees plus a withdrawal by a trophy presenter.

Up above, I said something along the lines of "pulling the whole rotten structure down around their ears." It would seem others felt that way and are doing just that.

I wouldn't think that withdrawing and/or changing one slate would "pull the whole rotten structure down" but it might readjust closer to what it was suppose to be.

Unless that is what you meant and I didn't get it.

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LDWriter2
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It just hit me that one slate--the Sad Puppies--may think there was pretty much a slate there already that they were responding to. That most of those nominated were along one certain line of social thinking.

If what I hear about the other slate is true and it came from a couple sources make me think it was, they should be just ignored. As hard as it, just pretend their slate weren't there.

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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by LDWriter2:
It just hit me that one slate--the Sad Puppies--may think there was pretty much a slate there already that they were responding to. That most of those nominated were along one certain line of social thinking.

If what I hear about the other slate is true and it came from a couple sources make me think it was, they should be just ignored. As hard as it, just pretend their slate weren't there.

Except that that other slate--Rabid Puppies--is the real problem. Sad Puppies is just that, as far as I'm concerned--sad. There's always got to be somebody who doesn't feel like their favorites got the attention they deserved. Most of us just grow up enough to take it in stride. Rabid Puppies, on the other hand . . . Well, I don't think I can say what I think about them on this forum. Except, as far as Sad Puppies are concerned, they should have remembered the old adage, "When you lie down with dogs, you rise with fleas."
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Robert Nowall
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It hasn't been said in any commentary on this issue about the Hugos that I've seen, but...it used to be said, back in the olden days of the 1960s and 1970s, that writers who attended the Milford Writers' Conference always had the edge in the SFWA's Nebula Awards. One could take this as "more of the same."
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LDWriter2
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quote:
Originally posted by Meredith:
quote:
Originally posted by LDWriter2:
It just hit me that one slate--the Sad Puppies--may think there was pretty much a slate there already that they were responding to. That most of those nominated were along one certain line of social thinking.

If what I hear about the other slate is true and it came from a couple sources make me think it was, they should be just ignored. As hard as it, just pretend their slate weren't there.

Except that that other slate--Rabid Puppies--is the real problem. Sad Puppies is just that, as far as I'm concerned--sad. There's always got to be somebody who doesn't feel like their favorites got the attention they deserved. Most of us just grow up enough to take it in stride. Rabid Puppies, on the other hand . . . Well, I don't think I can say what I think about them on this forum. Except, as far as Sad Puppies are concerned, they should have remembered the old adage, "When you lie down with dogs, you rise with fleas."
I meant the Sad Puppies as the ones who were reacting to what they saw and the Rabid Puppies as the ones to be ignored. I should clarify that I can't say for sure that is what the Sad ones are doing but it seems to fit what they have said and how other people are reacting in other types of similar situations in other areas of society. This debate-argument-fight is going on in many areas not just SF books.
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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by LDWriter2:
quote:
Originally posted by Meredith:
quote:
Originally posted by LDWriter2:
It just hit me that one slate--the Sad Puppies--may think there was pretty much a slate there already that they were responding to. That most of those nominated were along one certain line of social thinking.

If what I hear about the other slate is true and it came from a couple sources make me think it was, they should be just ignored. As hard as it, just pretend their slate weren't there.

Except that that other slate--Rabid Puppies--is the real problem. Sad Puppies is just that, as far as I'm concerned--sad. There's always got to be somebody who doesn't feel like their favorites got the attention they deserved. Most of us just grow up enough to take it in stride. Rabid Puppies, on the other hand . . . Well, I don't think I can say what I think about them on this forum. Except, as far as Sad Puppies are concerned, they should have remembered the old adage, "When you lie down with dogs, you rise with fleas."
I meant the Sad Puppies as the ones who were reacting to what they saw and the Rabid Puppies as the ones to be ignored. I should clarify that I can't say for sure that is what the Sad ones are doing but it seems to fit what they have said and how other people are reacting in other types of similar situations in other areas of society. This debate-argument-fight is going on in many areas not just SF books.
Yes, LD. But it's dangerous to just ignore people like the Rabid Puppies. Somethings, it's necessary to stand up against. The leader of the Rabid Puppies is one of those things.
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Meredith
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When you have to resort to calling the other side names--especially names that reveal you own biases so clearly--it's time to admit you never had an argument in the first place.
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MattLeo
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One of the things I've noticed about the Sads is that their leaders are actually pretty reticent about singling out authors for their scorn. I went through Torgerson's and Correia's websites looking for the authors they hate, and found that except for responding to attacks on their movement for the most part they themselves don't go after authors. Their beef is mainly with fans who like different kinds of stuff than what they write.

Personally, I don't think Correia or Torgerson need to answer for Vox Day; or for people who comment on their blog, any more than I think my gentle, generous, and sweet-tempered Muslim co-worker needs to answer for ISIS. Being responsible for yourself and the consequences of your own actions ought to be enough.

But the lack of self-awareness on the part of the Sad Puppies leadership can be painful to watch.

Everybody wants acceptance, recognition, and validation. The Sad leaders are in the grand scheme of things very successful as writers, but in their eyes they haven't got enough recognition, so they've declared holy war on fans who don't like the kind of stories they write.

What it amounts to is snobbery. You can call it "reverse snobbery" if you prefer, but it's really just the same thing: acting like a priggish busybody when people refuse to toe your line. The important thing to remember priggishness doesn't feel like priggishness on the inside. It feels like righteousness.

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History
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I believe there is naivite among the general public that awards like the Hugo are "readers' awards" and free of politics.

As Ms Kowal noted in her first blog post on the subject, the Hugo awards are not nominated by all fans but a subset: the select Worldcon fandom who have paid their $40 for the privilege to cast their vote.

The con organizers are unlikely to change this selective voting process for they require these funds to pay for the con and make the trophies, etc. I applaud Ms Kowal for volunteering to pay for a few Worldcon memberships for those who would like to cast their vote but do not have the finances to join as a voting member. However, this is but a token gesture that does not address the misperception that the Hugo is truly an award selected by the general sf/f readership. This plays well in Peoria, and on publisher's advertising: "Voted best science fiction novel in 2014!", but it is a partial truth.

There are many great books and stories published each year, and which is the "fan favorite" is a matter of taste. The Hugo reflects only the "taste" of that majority of fans who paid their $40 to Worldcon.

In the last few years, those who admire works by authors they feel are "under-represented" because of their gender, gender preference, nationality, ethnicity, or those who wish to promote stories whose characters represent similar diversity, or those who prefer more literary sf, etc. constituted the larger percentage Worldcon voting membership. This year, fans of more classical action and story-based sf and fantasy constituted the greater percent of Worldcon voting members.

Unless there is a change in Worldcon rules to have more open-voting by general fandom or to now include criteria for number of copies sold as a means to judge "fan favorites", next year will see another "get the vote out campaign" by those with various agendas or counter agendas. Not that this is terrible, it is democracy in action. I would prefer not have any politics in the process, but I am old (and wise) enough to know that this wish is, well, fantasy. [Wink]

When I was young and new to sf, I bought all the Hugo and Nebula winners naively believing these were "the best authors and works." They were good books, although some I enjoyed more than others. But I also noted other authors, whose story-telling I enjoyed and admired for their imagination, were ignored. Andre Norton never won a Hugo. Ray Bradbury never won a Hugo [he did finally receive a "retrospective" award in 2004 for Fahrenheit 451 a book published in 1953! but that was it. Unbelievable to me]. By the mid-1980's, I discovered my favorite novels and stories of the year were not Hugo or Nebula award nominees. I shrugged. At the end of "The Stainless Steel Rat" (1961) by Harry Harrison (who never won a Hugo), the hero is pissed off at his boss who then tells him he's passed probation and now was a full agent of the Special Corps: "He pulled out a little gold star made of paper. After licking it carefully and solemnly he reached out and stuck it to the front of my shirt." This captures my feeling in regard to these awards. The recognition is nice, but it is what you do that matters.

As Ms Woodbury aptly notes in an earlier post in this thread: "Read what you want to read and write what you want to write." Very true.
In regard to the former, there certainly is plenty for me to read that I enjoy. For the latter, well, except for a few of you here and a few others I've met through WOTF, who like my scribblings, writing what you like to write instead of what sells means being mostly unpublished. For those of you desirous of a writing career, do be attentive to what editors publish and what the public is buying.

Winning an award may help a writer's career; but it may not. Many of the Hugo winners in the past decade remain unknowns to me. Then there are authors like Jim Butcher (who is nominated this year thanks to the Puppies' slate) who have done very well without Worldcon recognition.

Hugo nominee Ms Kary English is a writing forum friend whose short story Totaled is a fine tale [ Read it here if you wish: http://www.galaxysedge.com/Hugo/Totaled.htm ]. Before there ever was a Puppies' slate this year, I was aware that author Mr. Michael Resnick felt her story was worthy of nomination. Mr. Resnick has more Hugo nominations (37) and more Hugo awards (5) than any other author. I believe that this does give him credibility in voicing his opinion on her story's worthiness to be on the ballot. I'm sorry for what Kary has to endure amid all the mud-slinging during what should be one of the most exciting moments in her young career.

I'm disappointed in my fellow lovers of sf and fantasy, at least the impolite vocal subsegment with mud on their hands.

Of the many stories worthy for consideration as "Best of the Year" only a few can make the award ballot. This does not make the others unworthy and we can, and should, speak of them so our fellows can also enjoy them. But, simultaneously, we need politely congratulate this years' nominees even when put forward by others whose tastes are different than our own. And perhaps read these stories.
Explore something different.

Isn't that what drew us to sf and fantasy in the first place?

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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LDWriter2
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First of all Hello Dr. Bob. How are you and your writing?


Second I must say that I pretty much agree with you--not about your personal experiences however since I can't say I have had them. [Smile]

Anyway, As Mary says you should read what you want and writing what you want and also with your second to last paragraph.


Even before this blow up I had heard about that in actuality only a minority of readers vote for the Hugos. Sometimes it didn't bother me because it still showed what these readers thought were more than good. However I was disappointed in that the voting wasn't more wide spread, yet at the same time, could anyone pay the money and vote?

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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by LDWriter2:
However I was disappointed in that the voting wasn't more wide spread, yet at the same time, could anyone pay the money and vote?

Yes. That's how Rabid Puppies succeeded.
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MattLeo
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quote:
Originally posted by Meredith:
quote:
Originally posted by LDWriter2:
However I was disappointed in that the voting wasn't more wide spread, yet at the same time, could anyone pay the money and vote?

Yes. That's how Rabid Puppies succeeded.
Somebody figured out that based on past data you'd need just 200 supporters for a slate to occupy all the available Hugo nomination slots.

That seems to support the Sad's contention that the voter base for the Hugos is very small. On the other hand, the nominations come from that tiny subset of fans who make a point of being familiar with a wide selection of work that has come out in just the past year. Given that the opinions of such people tend to be wildly divided, the 200 nomination benchmark actually sounds pretty healthy. But it's easy enough for anyone with an axe to grind to beat. We could probably do it if we wanted to if we put our minds to it. Anyone fancy a rocket ship for their mantle?

As Dr. Bob said, the Hugos don't really represent the best of sci-fi. How could they? There is no consistently reliable way to even define such as thing as "best". Take "Ancillary Justice", the 2014 Best Novel (book report coming!). Contrary to the Puppies' claims it doesn't have some kind nefarious feminist agenda; the gender pronoun thing is just “calling a rabbit a smeerp." What makes this a standout novel is its ambitious structure. Leckie's very daring about denying the reader information he wants, and that makes this novel a hate-it-or-love-it thing. I think it's a great novel, but I can see why others might not care for it.

Not being a reliable guarantee of greatness doesn't mean the Hugos don't play an important role. Some of the Sad supporters like to point out that Ancillary Justice didn't sell that many copies until it was nominated for the Hugo. That misses the point. A runaway bestseller doesn't require any kind of award other than its own success. At its best the Hugo brings stories the hard core fans are excited about to a wider audience.

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extrinsic
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I'm unsettled by social and political politics entering the art world; that is, behavior governance politics that are at the forefront of the public policy debate. One faction would turn the clock back to a simpler time, simpler for the faction anyway, from what is essentially the distinction of a republican government ideal -- republican government represents and respects minorities and dissenters' right and responsibility to socially, responsibly, cooperatively contribute to and participate in the common good. A true democracy, though, favors the majority, which intentionally or indifferently abuses minorities and dissenters' rights and responsibilities. Peculiar how U.S. party and similar governments' politics have inverted the classic republican and democratic governance ideologies.

The Hugo and fantastical fiction faction war at present reflects the same ideology inversion: WEIRD PC anti-political correctness, generally politically and socially conservative and favoring capitalist majority rules dominance; pro-social responsibility -- so-labeled socialist ideals, though a moderate position of proportioned capitalist conservative values and liberal social responsibility values -- sits astraddle the fence and is the silent majority; and the radical socialist extreme, which has an in-your-face we're here, we're peers, get used to it attitude.

I'm amused that the outspoken factions' folk play at politics they're inept at, instead of writing it out on the fiction page. The politics are at the forefront throughout the public conversation; however, the prose is the media for fiction writers, not the political campaigning, not what's going on by genuine multi-faced politicians bent on imposing their ideologies upon the cosmos.

The Hugos, I don't know why that's the target. That's a pea-shooter war at recess and the targets are easy-peasy noncombatants. The Hugos are and always have been a popularity pageant parade, normally reflective of fantastical fiction convention fans' popularity appeals. The Hugos are a flagship of that convention culture, without which WorldCon would be ineligible for non-profit status. That's it, period, besides Hugos are a career-maker of at least sales performance metrics. Frankly, I believe the WorldCon culture is a fringe element, as are the other factions of the contentions. The big dogs stump from the political governance porch that is public policy debate.

Also frankly, the only substantive difference between the factions' writing is individual factions' political ideologies, as categorized above. The writing caliber overall is generally only a smidgeon above self-publication and vanity publication par and has generally been since the Hugos' inception, a few noteworthy standouts here and there notwithstanding. They are outliers, though, of a Bell curve's mediocrity majority bump.

My sense is change is a challenge for the factions, not change as in different ideologies, change as in improved writing caliber. The factions' assorted individual writers jumped the shark when they had their initial breakouts, their one stellar standout a fluke consequence of being a midge more appealing than a copious mediocrity. Someone has to place first, second, or third among many mediocre also-rans.

The placers, though, they plateaued, stuck where they placed above the fray writing-wise. The meteoric rise a sputter in the dark and career decline afterward. They no longer struggle for new heights, and audiences move on to the next up-and-coming mediocre writer, who is at least a fresh to-a-degree voice.

So forget the politics. Put it on the fiction page, and work to improve writing skills to stay abreast of a hard-won audience's popular approval and appeals.

Now how about a narrative that artfully packages this culture war? Ms. Emily Dickenson says Tell It Slant. Science fiction, say, reader factions as foragers, writers as hunters, and battle lines drawn like troupe contests for resources on the Anatolian plain. Fantasy, say, rival spellcasters and consumers at odds at a middle ages abbey's outlying village, or similar. And the tangible and intangible action about a moral human condition of Pride-Humility clash, with consequent wrath-patience, envy-kindness, greed-charity, gluttony-temperance, sloth-diligence, and lust-chastity clashes, external and internal, that reflect the culture and larger-society war which the Hugos' clash represents in its little niche. This culture war is global and, tragically, coming to a head.

And for Providence's sake, enough with the overbearing tell lectures -- summary and explanation narratives' rushed, condensed action -- static voice, and daydream and writer surrogate pageantries.

[ May 12, 2015, 02:53 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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kmsf
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quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:

So forget the politics. Put it on the fiction page, and work to improve writing skills to stay abreast of a hard-won audience's popular approval and appeals.

Amen.

Alright then, you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here...

- click -

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Robert Nowall
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Near as I can work out...that was the issue behind the "Sad Puppies" end of it---that the awards were being given out, not for merit, or even popularity, or sales, but because they fit a certain set of political beliefs---and that others were being shut out of the awards because the works (and the writers) didn't share these beliefs.

I think this point has been proved.

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MattLeo
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I think we can all agree that literary awards are not of paramount importance.

I think the idea that you can so easily divine a political agenda in a piece of writing is hogwash -- at least if the writing is any good. Authors write to provoke a reader response, and politics not merely an end, but means as well.

For example I'm working on a bildungsroman where one of the influential characters is a spaceship captain who's a political anarchist. Why? Because I think the idea is funny. Now I could spin this a number of ways. I could make the character too stupid to realize the irony of his position. I could make him hopelessly dysfunctional. I could make him a hypocrite. Instead, I chose to try to make him sound reasonable and persuasive.

If I do this right, simple-minded people will jump to the conclusion that I'm an anarchist myself. I'm not. I just want to create an interesting character.

Some people just can't picture an author imagining himself into viewpoint of a different human being. You don't have to be female to write female characters, nor need you be an anarchist to write anarchist characters -- any more than you need to be a cannibal to write about cannibalism.

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Robert Nowall
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quote:
Some people just can't picture an author imagining himself into viewpoint of a different human being. You don't have to be female to write female characters, nor need you be an anarchist to write anarchist characters -- any more than you need to be a cannibal to write about cannibalism.
...write what you know.
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MattLeo
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quote:
Originally posted by Robert Nowall:
...write what you know.

Use what you know.
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Grumpy old guy
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And, if you're too stupid to know stuff, make it up.

Oh, damn! That's fiction, isn't it?

Phil.

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telflonmail
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It's a sad day on Planet Cotton Candy. The puppies are playing with chocolate and coughing up little spicy snails.
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MattLeo
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quote:
Originally posted by Grumpy old guy:
And, if you're too stupid to know stuff, make it up..

It's not stupid if you don't get caught. And the best way to avoid being caught is for people to want to believe what you are saying.

This might even be the origin of the "alcoholic writer" stereotype, because it's not that different from what a high-functioning substance abuser does. You cobble together a story that the audience wants to believe and count on that that desire covering over any oversights.

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Robert Nowall
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Addendum: I was comparing the reported final Hugo ballot with the reported table of contents for The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Nine, Jonathan Strahan, ed...and I can't find a single story that's on both. (I yield to the possibility of error in the lists, or my scanning of these printouts. Double-check me, someone, please.)

So you can cut this a few different ways. Maybe this editor's tastes are different than that of the Hugo voters, and these are just high quality stories. Or maybe the block-voting scandal did produce a lower-quality nominees. Or maybe the gatekeepers of SF, the editors, really can't be trusted to be honest about quality stories and did exclude them as the block-voters have said.

Either way...any way...just wait till next year.

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MattLeo
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quote:
Originally posted by Robert Nowall:
Addendum: I was comparing the reported final Hugo ballot with the reported table of contents for The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Nine, Jonathan Strahan, ed...and I can't find a single story that's on both.

Well that shouldn't happen most years, but it's not a particularly shocking result. I did a few quick back of the envelope calculations using the hypergeometric distribution and mark-and-capture math, and I come up with an expected overlap between a 30 story best-of anthology and a 5 slot Hugo ballot of between one and two. The variance suggests that overlaps of three or zero should be commonplace too. You can tweak the assumptions to yield somewhat higher or lower expected overlaps, but you have to give them the Hanoi Hilton treatment to transform this into a highly suspicious event.

The math is a kind of a pain to reproduce here, so I'll cut to the chase; either there are many, many more stories that could reasonably have been included in the anthology but which weren't, OR the criteria by which the editor makes his selections is different from the criteria which WorldCon members make theirs. Common sense says both. A story that stands out so much that it's a no-brainer to win the Hugo is not an every year event. That leaves you with a very large pool of good stories.

If there are, say, a hundred really good stories published in a year and none of them are obvious landmarks, there are over 75 million ways to select a defensible five slot ballot. So unless there are one or two stories so powerful they unite fandom behind them, the ballot is bound to be a highly arbitrary selection.

In fact, in the Hugo nominating process it's potentially more advantageous for a story to polarize fans than to unite them in a consensus. The controversy crystalizes support among the minority of fans that like a story. The majority that dislike the story spread their support over many alternative candidates with broad consensus appeal. This effect can get an irritating story on to the ballot and possibly carry it on to a win, and that's more likely to happen in these days of social media teapot tempests.

So in a nutshell awards were always bound to make you mad if you have your own opinions, but today it's bound to happen more than ever.

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