The 2016 Hugo Award finalists were announced today, and unfortunately -- but not unsurprisingly -- the Rabid Puppies ran away with them, to the tune of around 80% of the nominations (I can't get a direct link to the post to work, but the comparison to the slates should be at or near the top of the blog). This result, after a record-shattering 4,000 nominations came in, dispels three claims that have been part of the Hugo conversation lately:
1. The problem will be fixed if more people nominate -- a larger nomination pool makes it harder for a small voting bloc to game the system. I used to believe this myself, and I was moderately hopeful that getting people who signed up last year to vote against the Puppies to nominate would blunt the effects of a slate. Now, though, I'd say the evidence against that theory is pretty strong (although we won't know until the long lists come out in August). When you have a straight winner-take-all voting system, and the pool of potential nominees is this large, it doesn't take much of a bloc to overwhelm the legitimate nominations.
2. The Puppies are in this to see that popular authors writing quality works get nominated, as opposite to "authors who buddy up to the social justice warriors" (I feel dirty just typing that out). Considering that I have never heard of most of the authors on their list (except for a few big names, clearly nominated as cover), I don't see how anyone can make that argument with a straight face anymore.
3. Another argument that no one can make with a straight face: the Puppies are in this to keep political, "message fiction" from being nominated. A simple look at the Related Work and Short Story categories puts the lie to that assertion. (But look with caution. One of the titles in Related Work actually caused me to curse in chat, multiple times, which renay can tell you is something I only do at times of great duress.)
So, yeah. That happened. And it sucks, especially to have my hopes about the larger nomination pool dashed. But here we are, again, and what should we do about it? In the long term, obviously, WorldCon needs to pass E Pluribus Hugo, the change to the nomination rules that seems most likely to make a difference. I understand that the analysis of last year's voting data suggests that it would have blunted the effects of the slates but not removed them entirely, but it's better than nothing, and I think it's worth giving it a shot to see how it works. As for how we deal with this year, I have two thoughts.
First, on how to vote. Like last year, everyone is going to make their own decision on how to proceed, and there's no right or wrong way to do it. Last year, I voted almost entirely anti-slate; the only Puppy nominees I put above No Award were in the Dramatic Presentation categories and Editor-Long Form, the former because those categories rather removed from fandom politics (and some of their choices were on my own nomination ballot) and the second because good people convinced me that some of the editors were worthy of my vote. I think that was the correct choice last year, because we needed to make a strong statement that slates are wrong, and that opposition to diversity is wrong.
But this year, I think I'm going to take a softer line, and consider more of the slate-listed items. The aforementioned cover, of course -- enough people have spoken highly of Seveneves and the Sandman story, for example, and I'm a big fan of Lois McMaster Bujold -- and anything else that folks can convince me is worth my time. Why am I less inclined to sit this one out? For one, it's more obvious which of the choices are cover and which are [the loathsome troll who will go unnamed here] rewarding himself and his cronies. For another, we already tried the hard-line No Award strategy, and it didn't stop [LTWWGUH] from running a slate yet again. So now I feel like the better choice is pretending he doesn't exist. He's going to claim victory no matter what we do, so I prefer taking the path which gives me more satisfaction. And this year, that means looking at the works and judging them by my own standards. (And in some cases, the title or the person's name will provide more than sufficient data to make that judgement.)
Second, one of the reasons I got involved in this whole Hugo thing to start with was the hope of discovering new works and authors for me to get excited about. There's a few things to get excited about on this list, but not nearly enough. Last year, the Hugo long list provided some of that, but why should we wait? There's nothing to say that we can't share our nomination lists and get excited about things we love now. So, as an antidote to all this angry-making business, I propose that we do just that. Someday later this week, I'll kick it off with a list, and I hope those of you who nominated will share your lists with me, as much as you feel comfortable. And then we can get back to having some fun talking about the works we love, because isn't that what fandom is about, in the end?
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