Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Well, that’s interesting: The 2015 Hugos

I’m a couple days behind, what with detaching from the internet for the past week, but I see tor.com has a post up about the Hugo nominees. So does everyone else, apparently. Wow.

My first take:

A) YAY THE GOBLIN EMPEROR MADE THE LIST. Now I guess I will buy a voting membership so I can vote for it. Also, I guess I’ll find out whether Skin Games stands alone at all well, because I sure as blazes do not plan to read the first 13 volumes in the series, or however many there are. I’m virtually certain I will put The Goblin Emporer first, Ancillary Sword second, and then sort out the others. My brother tells me that the one by Anderson has 14 pov characters in the first 16 chapters, so . . . probably that will not work for me terribly well. I read Kloos’ first book and liked it quite a bit, so this will be the time to read the sequel.

B) Yeah, I am NOT PLEASED to see six entries by a single author in the short forms. I really did not like to see that kind of single-author dominance when Seanan McGuire had five works on the nomination list, and I don’t like to see it here. It doesn’t matter how good an author is, how productive, whether I like their writing or like them as a person. It doesn’t matter to me whether this dominance is produced by slate voting or by a cohesive fan club voting. I hate it with a passion. No one ever has or ever will write one-fifth of all the award-worthy stories in one year and it is outrageous to see that implication with a nominee list of this kind.

C) What I expect to happen now is that A LOT MORE fan clubs and dedicated author-bloggers and who knows who all will make a very serious effort to plug slates in the future, since it evidently works very well. I hope this will happen fairly soon — like next year — thus producing vastly more involvement from all directions and a much larger number of nominations fighting it out. I don’t expect to be able to move the needle personally, but next year I will definitely be plugging 2015 books that I think deserve nomination. I would especially like to see something that is purely self-published make the final cut (as long as it deserves to, obviously).

D) But I am very disappointed that none of the short works I nominated made the list. Very disappointed. I put a lot of time into reading short work, and I liked my choices a lot, far better than most of the stories I see on those list. So speaking personally, that’s too bad.

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11 Comments Well, that’s interesting: The 2015 Hugos

  1. Linda S

    Before the nominations came out, I thought all the drama about the SP slate was overblown, since I couldn’t believe that a substantial number of people would really pay $40 to vote in lockstep for a bunch of stories someone else had picked. I guess that shows how much I know!

    I haven’t been crazy about the message-heavy short fiction lists for the past few years, so I have more sympathy for the SP’s stated goals than most of the people who are upset about the slate. But I am very, very disappointed in this list of nominees. Slate voting isn’t against the rules, and it’s clearly extremely effective. However, it seems to me that for the nomination process to be remotely useful, people need to nominate their favorite works independently. I know some SPs have suggested that there are secret message-fiction slates out there as well, but if there are, they clearly haven’t been too effective. Otherwise, the #@!!*# 5% rule wouldn’t have kept kicking in for the short story category!

    If this mess causes more people to get involved at the nomination stage and to seriously comb through suggestion lists and slates to pick the stories they think are best, that would be great. The number of people nominating has always seemed ridiculously small to me. However, I’m afraid that we’ll just end up with a few dueling slates, with authors being pressured to decline (or accept) places on each slate, and a lot of vitriol and hurt feelings all around. Since I’ve very much enjoyed participating in the Hugos for the past few years, I really hope that doesn’t happen.

  2. elaine t

    I’m one of those who’ve noticed award winners getting boring for the last twenty years or so. When in one of the sites discussing the Hugo kerfuffle the blogger put up number of nominations and votes for the past few years and I saw how few nominate and vote I’m pleased that more people are participating. For each year of the SP campaigns the numbers go up – if it continues, and they vote their taste, not just because so-so recommended it, we’ll all be better off. What I don’t like is the vitriol aimed at the writers on this year’s ballot and assumptions about who and what they are. I don’t care about anything but a good story.

    On a totally different subject, has anyone read Gillian Bradshaw’s middle-grade ALIEN IN THE GARDEN which I just downloaded from Amazon?

  3. Rachel

    Linda, honestly, I haven’t read any short fiction for . . . I don’t know, years and years. So I have no idea what the nominees looked like before last year. Or I guess actually the year before that, I didn’t read anything for the Hugos last year.

    However, I’m afraid that we’ll just end up with a few dueling slates,

    Oh, I hope not! I was sort of hoping for a LOT of dueling slates, with readers buying nominating memberships and then shopping around the slates everyone is pushing. I mean, once you have a membership, why not read more stuff?

    with authors being pressured to decline (or accept) places on each slate, and a lot of vitriol and hurt feelings all around.

    And I REALLY hope not for that one. That would be awful. I may not have been cynical enough about what might happen.

  4. Rachel

    For years I’ve read so few of the nominees and winners that I just haven’t noticed any trends. I mean, there are endless, endless books and my TBR piles have been overflowing for ages. I do hope that more people will vote, and vote in a wide variety of ways that suit their own tastes. I do think the SP people were trying to nominate works they really liked, and actually did nominate works by a wide range of authors. I would not, repeat not, want to deal with vitriol being hurled at *me*, so I, too, hate to see that.

    And no, sorry, let me know what you think of Alien in the Garden when you read it!

  5. Cheryl L

    Personally, I don’t think the SP slate is the real concern. It’s the associated Rabid Puppies slate that worries me. The front man for Rabid Puppies is Theodore Beale, aka Vox Day. He once referred to N.K. Jemisin as “an educated, but ignorant half-savage, with little more understanding of what it took to build a new literature”. He has been nominated for Best Professional Editor Long Form and Best Professional Editor Short Form and there are at least three works on the ballot published by Castalia House, where Beale is the Lead Editor.

  6. Rachel

    Yes, my firm policy of judging the work rather than the author has limits, I find. I would ordinarily not vote in the editor categories because what do I know about editors? None of them are my editors, after all. But this year I will have to so that I can put all the other editors in front of Vox Day.

    I will, however, read the stories published by Castalia House as I would read any other stories.

  7. Craig

    I got used to the idea of my short story nominations not being on the ballot in 2013, after I spent considerable effort seeking out Hugo-worthy stories, and sent them to the 7 people I knew could nominate after attending Chicon 7, and then none of them made the list. Of 3, not 5, just to make it insulting.

    My hope is that for Sad Puppies 4 they put forward not just a better list of candidates(*), but a longer one: if there are 10-15 suggestions per category rather than 3-5, most of the reasonable complaints — as opposed to the unreasonable ones, which have been much more prominent so far — break down.

    (* I would argue that the Puppies’ candidates for 2015 probably average superior to the actual nominee lists for 2012, 2013, or 2014 — with the sole exception of the 2012 novella nominees — but I also think that, sadly, isn’t a very high bar. They should be able to do better.)

    My fear is that even if they take this socially responsible route, the opposition won’t follow suit, given their extreme level of vitriol. Also, that Vox Day will play spoiler: I cut him more slack than many do, but unlike SP3 he really does seem to have encouraged straight bloc voting.

    If there are _enough_ slates suggested, things will still work out. I think the odds of that happening are pretty good, but the longer it takes the worse the acrimony is going to get.

  8. Rachel

    I think a longer list would be a really good idea. It would be a tough, tough job to try to come up with fifteen worthy candidates for each category, though.

    Also, if there are enough people pushing lists, then Vox Day’s influence would be diluted, and imo that wold be a good thing. I’d like to see him just stop with the slates, but he seems to want to keep things as stirred up and vitriolic as possible.

  9. Craig

    If I were running SP4 I’d probably shoot for 10. I don’t think 10 short stories or novels would be that tough, actually, given the initial crowdsourcing and some lead time (which they have); less confident about novelettes and novellas.

    There are also some suggestions to change the rules, like 6 slots with any given person able to nominate 4. Not a terrible idea, but changing rules deliberately takes two years. (Though I really do hope that a motion to abolish the 5% rule is working its way through the system: it *ought* to be after 2013-14.)

  10. Rachel

    I think 10 would be hard. It would be kind of fun to do it as a team, though — I mean a team for each category. You could get together (even if you “got together” via long distance) and argue about the qualities of different possible nominees.

    That rule change strikes me as sensible. And abolishing the 5% rule will only get more and more important if more people start nominating.

  11. Craig

    Oh, I meant for a group: SP3 crowdsourced it and I don’t imagine SP4 will be any different. Certainly that’s how I would need to do it, even for the literary awards let alone the down-ticket. I doubt I saw 10 entries in either short or long Dramatic Presentation last year, for instance, let alone 10 Hugo-quality works — but Long Dramatic Presentation was second only to Novels in the number of nominating ballots.

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