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Sad Puppies 4 and the Doomsday Slate

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Earlier today I sensed a great disturbance in the Internet, as though millions of heads had suddenly exploded in anguish. Oh, wait–today was Hugo Nominations day! So I took a quick look around, and…

…the Puppies had done it again.

I would try to analyze the numbers here, but the folks over at Chaos Horizon have already done it for us. Check back there over the next few days; I suspect a lot more analysis is coming.

My first insight: Only novels get any respect in the SFF universe these days. 3,695 people nominated in the Best Novel category. The next category down only got 2,904 nominations (Dramatic Presentation, Long Form) with ever-slimmer pickins’ after that. Barely a thousand people nominated for the Best Fan Artist category.

The really good news is that there were 4,032 nominating ballots cast, roughly twice what Sasquan got last year. It’s impossible to tell where those new people came from, but whatever their provenance, I’ll bet MidAmericon II isn’t complaining about all that delicious money. That was the idea, after all: The subtitle of Sad Puppies 4 is “The Embiggening.” I was not alone last year in suggesting that the only thing really wrong with the Hugo Awards is that almost nobody participates. 4,000 ballots sound like a lot, but when you consider that 100,000+ people routinely attend events like DragonCon and ComiCon, the Hugos start to look like a rounding error. If 25,000 people registered for Worldcon, and 20,000 nominated, there wouldn’t be enough logs in the Western Hemisphere to roll any single faction to victory.

By my counts (starting with a nice tally on Breitbart) only ten nominees out of a total of eighty were not on one of the Puppy ballots. 70 of 80 is 87%. Obviously, a lot of those 87% were just really good people and works that probably would have been on the ballot anyway. However, one must consider finalists like the TV cartoon show My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, and (egad) “Space Raptor Butt Invasion” by Chuck Tingle. The works are real, and not hoaxes (though I had to check on Chuck Tingle to be sure) but the nominations sound to me like shows of force.

Which brings us to the Big Ugly: Which Puppy list was the most influential? Another count from the Breitbart results tells me that 61 out of the 80 nominees were on the Rabid Puppies list. 76%. 36 out of the 80 (45%) were on the Sad Puppies list. I grinned to see that, as much as the Puppies claim to loathe Mike Glyer and his fanzine File 770, both are on the final ballot–and both were on the Puppies lists. Anybody with an IQ greater than 17 knows what’s up with that: Last year’s tactic of voting against anything on the Puppy lists will be…complicated…in 2016.

What the anti-Puppies seem to be saying is that they’ll kiss off 2016 and bide their time, confident that E Pluribus Hugo will be added to Worldcon rules next year, and the Puppies will henceforth be out of luck. I’m not going to explain EPH here, though I’m willing to give the new rules a fair chance, knowing that they will be analyzed to death by people way better at number crunching than I. (I doubt I’m alone in thinking that changing the rules after you get your butt whipped sounds, well, weak-king-ish.)

The problem is this: The Puppies may not dominate the ballot in years to come, but one particular slate just might. Nothing in EPH makes the No Award slate difficult to use. (As I suggested earlier, having several anti-Puppy favorites on the Puppy lists will indeed make it a little tricky.) Last year the anti-Puppies encouraged their followers to vote a slate of one–No Award–against any category dominated by the Puppies. It worked: Five categories were reduced to irrelevance via the No Award slate. I suspect it’s going to happen again this year.

What happens in the wake of EPH? Well, c’mon. Do you honestly think Vox Day won’t use No Award too? He’s said straight out that he intends to burn down the Hugo Awards. Last year the APs pretty much did it for him, but if he can get his recs into three quarters of the slots, he can burn down as many categories as he wants via No Award. This isn’t the place to get into all the usual fistfights about Vox and where he gets his power and why we all need to condemn him. (That’s been done to death.) This is the place to realize that what one side can do, the other side can too.

It’s a mess, eh? Well, I have an audacious suggestion: Change the Hugo rules again so that No Award is outlawed. If EPH works as designed, the APs won’t need No Award. And if No Award is outlawed, somebody like Vox can’t use it.

No Award is The Doomsday Slate. Unless it’s outlawed, people on one side or another will use it until there’s nothing left of the Hugo Awards. Think hard now: Is that really what you want?


  1. Cirsova says:

    “It’s impossible to tell where those new people came from.”

    They mostly came from people who registered after nominations closed for 2015 and were still eligible to nominate in 2016. It was a record year for supporting memberships, if I recall.

    Considering its fandom, it’s no more surprising to see MLP in short form than the comic book tv shows or the ever present Dr. Who. If Bronies figure out that they can get MLP a nod every year, it very likely will whether VD has anything to do with it or not.

    I, for one, look forward to seeing Mr. Tingle’s newest work “Slammed in the Butt by My Own Hugo Award Nomination” in Best Related next year.

  2. Erbo says:

    Larry Correia’s pithy response is telling.

    There’s an interview with Chuck Tingle up, too. It’s worth reading for the lulz. (Note that the interviewer conflates Sad and Rabid Puppies. That’s because research is hard. Just like Chuck Tingle.)

    And Tingle already has a timely sequel up: Slammed In The Butt By My Hugo Award Nomination.

    Far and away, one of the great trolls of all time!

  3. Thomas Hanlin says:

    The glory of angst, isn’t it something? The anger, let it roll.

    I am surprised at you, Jeff, I generally expect you to have a sound mind. Did the whole name of the “puppies” not give you a hint? Really?

    There is a lot of misplaced, rolling, random anger and fear going on right now. I don’t really know where it comes from. I can see it biting down and taking place in people I’d normally expect to know better. This must taste a bit like Hitler’s Germany… you can see things going wrong, and you don’t know why, and the people you thought you could trust are… iffy…

    And why the hell are you “iffy”, Jeff? You know better. You are stronger than that. You have a good mind. Why, in the name of God, would you run with the Pathetic Puppies?

    1. Why do I support the Sad Puppies? Because their authors write great, fun stuff that isn’t dull, pompous message pie. Because they welcomed me into their online communities and became my friends. Because people on the other side (do you support them?) called me a fascist and a moral coward for questioning their moral posturing. Because the Puppies’ opponents passed out little wooden assholes at the Hugo ceremony last year to people they didn’t like. Because those same opponents slandered and insulted people I care about.

      How much more do you want? I’ll overnight it to you.

      In this case, for this issue, I did what I always do: I read up on both sides of the issue, I thought it through, and I took a position. I made that position clear here and in a series of articles last year. I change my mind sometimes and recognize my obligation to do so when the situation requires. However, I never do so in response to ad hominem attacks.

      I hope this answers your question.

  4. TRX says:

    > is that really what you want?

    Let’s revisit that “rounding error” comment. The Hugos are too small to matter in any meaningful way… and for decades, a Hugo nomination had a better-than-even chance of indicating vapid droolery between the covers.

    Worldcon is but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    The Dance of the SJWs has, however, provided me with much entertainment over the last year or so. So I’d miss the fun of watching the Torlings and their stooges doubling down on the crazy…

  5. pf says:

    Without more specific numbers, it’s hard to tell who did what, but Sasquan had an unusually large number of memberships, and it would have cost them nothing to nominate for 2016 beyond the time it takes to fill out a form in a browser, so it’s hard to judge where things will go once it gets to the point where it takes $50 to proceed.

    I don’t think you can conclude that MidAmericon II is profiting from this year’s flamewar yet, although they are obviously well-positioned if things escalate.

    1. Maybe not yet…but I think when it’s over and all the chips have been counted, they will have. MidAmericon I in 1976 was (unless I misrecall, though I did attend) the biggest Worldcon up to that point, and the concom made an egregious booboo that cast a very long shadow: They explicitly told media fans (“fringefans,” as it was put back then) that the con was not for them. It was so blatant and so rude that a number of people (myself included) wrote silly songs mocking them. Forty years on, and those poor benighted fringefans have created themselves cons that easily handle a hundred thousand fans, and sometimes more. Meanwhile, Worldcon struggles.

      If EPH works as designed and the Hugos go back to being the uncontested property of the usual in-group, I’m guessing that both the Hugos and Worldcon itself have maybe ten more years to live, tops. The real action is all happening elsewhere, among other people who are much younger and not as tribally ideological.

      I’ll be writing about this now and then going forward, as the creation of a third fandom, which I think of as “Human Wave fandom,” appeals to me.

      1. pf says:

        If the 1976 MidAmericon is what launched the media con “fork”, that would explain a lot of subsequent fannish history, but I suspect there was another angle to that: mass media SF brought a huge wave of new interest to SF&F, and they didn’t know about an existing organized “fandom” so they weren’t really looking for it. Media cons were much easier to find because they advertised, and that’s where people went.

        I think anything short of a deliberate Worldcon PR campaign might have produced the same result. Regional cons would have had to do the same thing.

        EPH has the potential of surprising at least some of its supporters by doing exactly what it was designed to do, but perhaps not what it was intended to do. It looks like it will prevent a “coordination attack” by a small minority from taking over most of the final Hugo ballot, and nothing else. Honestly, I’m curious to see what sort of impact a rule change like that might have, if any.

        Human Wave SF&F sounds fine, but most of it looks like a set of general guidelines for writing enjoyable fiction of any sort. With regard to SF specifically, you wrote this, and Eric Raymond wrote this, and while the perspectives aren’t the same, there’s a certain amount of overlap, especially around regarding ideas and speculative contexts as central characters instead of using them as a backdrop.

        Too bad there’s no name for that. Raymond’s suggestion of “classic SF” arguably wouldn’t work as a search term to find new entries in the category, even if it caught on.

        1. The link to ESR didn’t come through. Could you repost the link? Thanks!

          1. pf says:

            The URL is (and the link, if it works, is this).

  6. anon says:

    For those who (like myself) have no idea what this is all about, see here:

    I knew SF fandom had its weird parts, but this is weirder than I had imagined.

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