Well, this is too bad — but not surprising

I’m not at all surprised to see that some of the Hugo nominees are withdrawing. It’s a shame, but totally understandable. I’m sure a lot of authors are asking themselves what they would do if they were nominated because of slate voting — and what kind of difference it would make whose slate it might be. Here’s Annie Bellet:

I am not your ball. My fiction is my message, not someone else’s, and I refuse to participate in a war I didn’t start. It has become clear to me that the only way to stay out of this is to pick up my ball and go home. So this year, I will not put on a princess gown sewn with d20s. I will not win a rocket. But I will be able to sleep and know that when I get up, there won’t be fires waiting for me. . . . I don’t want to stand in a battlefield anymore. I don’t want to have to think over every tweet and retweet, every blog post, every word I say. I don’t want to cringe when I open my email. I don’t want to have to ask friends to google me and read things so that I can at least be aware of the stuff people might be saying in my name or against my name. This is not why I write. This is not the kind of community I want to be a part of, nor the kind of award I want to win…

I am pretty sure I would feel exactly like this in her shoes. I would truly detest being caught in the middle of someone else’s war. And here’s Marko Kloos:

It has come to my attention that Lines of Departure was one of the nomination suggestions in Vox Day’s “Rabid Puppies” campaign. Therefore — and regardless of who else has recommended the novel for award consideration — the presence of Lines of Departure on the shortlist is almost certainly due to my inclusion on the “Rabid Puppies” slate. For that reason, I had no choice but to withdraw my acceptance of the nomination. I cannot in good conscience accept an award nomination that I feel I may not have earned solely with the quality of the nominated work.

And again, I have to say, this seems like, well, not the only possible right decision to make under the circumstances, but certainly a right decision. I know I would love to be nominated for a major award — who wouldn’t? — though my first choice would be the World Fantasy Award and then the Nebula or the Mythopoeic, with the Hugo after those. But I know I would hate it if I thought I’d been nominated on the basis of a slate; and, far worse, nominated by a lot of people who might not even have read the book in question.

Well. I feel terrible for these authors and bad for the people administrating the award this year. But I continue to hope that the fallout from this situation, as early as next year, will be a LOT more fan participation in nominations and voting. I hope that if slate voting is a thing next year, as I expect it will be, that there are a LOT of competing slates so that none have so much influence. Interesting times, interesting times.

Incidentally, I see that LINES OF DEPARTURE has been replaced by THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM by Cixin Liu. I strongly suspect that the latter is by far the more ambitious book. I also strongly suspect, based on the opening scene, that I will not be able to stand to read it. “Goodnight Stars” by Annie Bellet has been replaced by “A Single Samurai” by Steven Diamond, which I know nothing at all about.

Also, “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” by John C. Wright turns out to have been originally published online in 2013, so it has been replaced by “The Day the World Turned Upside Down” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Lightspeed Magazine, April 2014).

Has there ever been a year with so many nominees withdrawn and replaced by other works? I haven’t paid much attention to the Hugos until the last couple of years, so I don’t know. But this is certainly going to be a memorable year.

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2 thoughts on “Well, this is too bad — but not surprising”

  1. I should note that Sad Puppies 3 is not accurately described as slate voting: their recommendations created enough overlap to propel works onto the ballot, but their voters didn’t all vote the same way. (There’s actually evidence for this apart from testimony, since SP2 was moderately successful last year and the voting records are now available.) Since I’m at least an SP fellow-traveler, I consider the point significant.

    Marko Kloos is correct to suspect that Vox Day’s Rabid Puppies *did* feature slate voting, however: I don’t know how common it was on the ground, but Vox did encourage it. So I can understand Kloos’ point, though I think either choice would be defensible. I’m not sure whether or not to be disappointed, since I haven’t read his novel, but my suspicions on the subject mirror yours.

    Also, at least two SP nominees declined nomination (Larry Correia himself, and one of the downtickets), so you can add that to the types of withdrawal. I suspect that this year is setting a record, all told.

  2. Well, I didn’t really keep track of what either Sad Puppies or Rabid Puppies was doing, but if you did, then I’m sure you’re right. I really expect people next year to be mostly promoting sets of works they want others to consider, but surely very few will be declaring that fans should just blindly vote for an entire list, which is what I think you’re using as the distinction. And I really can’t imagine many people following instructions to vote in lock-step anyway. So I hope to see a lot of very energetic promotion of a whole lot of different works next year.

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