So why look at Best Fan Writer? Well of all the categories this was the one that had a different dynamic than the others. The winner was the non-Puppy nominated whose nominations was primarily on the basis of this one report: http://laurajmixon.com/2014/11/a-report-on-damage-done-by-one-individual-under-several-names/
[“Are you asleep yet little cat?” –
“Nearly, one more story, with pirates…” –
“I only have one with vegan pirates…”]
Yesterday an extraordinary thing happened in Australia. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear the Australian Border Force announced that it would, in conjunction with Victorian* police, would be roaming the center of Melbourne and checking whether people ‘who crossed their path’ where in Australia legitimately. Now to make matters more like exactly what they sound like, the Australian Border Force is a newish agency cobbled together by the current government to protect Australia’s borders, and because that might not yet sound sufficiently creepy, they have black military style uniforms and are armed.
So, yes, literally black-uniformed armed paramilitaries roaming Melbourne demanding to see the papers of people they suspect to be insufficiently Australian.
Luckily the announcement led to mass protests and the whole things was cancelled when somebody finally realized that overtly imitating fascism is not the way to win friends and influence people.
Our occasional blog-muse, John C Wright has offered a challenge.
After listing Hugo Award winners for Best Novel in two time periods he says this:
Here is the Joe Doakes Challenge, for those bold enough to take it. Get out a pencil and make a not, for both lists, these three things:
(1) Which works possess the basic craftsmanship of our guild, i.e. a solid but imaginative story well told. Note also which have dull or hateful characters, little or no plot, or rely on gimmicks or nostalgia for their appeal.
(2) How many are among the softest of SF subgenres, such as alternate history or magical realism.
(3) How many are larded with a pretentious but sophomoric profundity or attempted relevance by presenting heavy-handed message fiction rather than science fiction. Is the number rising or falling?
How many of these stories do you love? Count and note the number.
Compare the two numbers. Based on this count, how often is the Hugo Award a sign of approval, or a leper’s bell warning a reader of sound sense and a craving for imagination to stay away?
Lets Go! I’m going to look just at the books I know well.
1996 Neal Stephenson: THE DIAMOND AGE – 1: Craft – Excellent, 2 – soft SF/F? Nope 3 message fiction? Nope.
1997 Kim Stanley Robinson: BLUE MARS – 1: Craft – Excellent, 2 – soft SF/F? Nope 3 message fiction? Nope.
2000 Vernor Vinge: A DEEPNESS IN THE SKY 1: Craft – Excellent, 2 – soft SF/F? Nope 3 message fiction? Nope.
2001 J. K. Rowling: HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE 1: Craft – Plot, Excellent, writing a bit mixed, 2 – soft SF/F? YA fantasy but overtly fantasy 3 message fiction? Nope.
2002 Neil Gaiman: AMERICAN GODS 1: Craft – Excellent, 2 – soft SF/F? Fantasy but borders on magical realism 3 message fiction? Nope.
2005 Susanna Clarke: JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL 1: Craft – Excellent, 2 – soft SF/F? Nope – strong fantasy 3 message fiction? Nope.
2008 Michael Chabon: THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN’S UNION 1: Craft – Masterful, a demonstration of how to write 2 – soft SF/F? Alternate reality 3 message fiction? Nope.
2009 Neil Gaiman: THE GRAVEYARD BOOK 1: Craft – Excellent, 2 – soft SF/F? Nope – strong fantasy 3 message fiction? Nope.
2010 Paolo Bacigalupi: THE WINDUP GIRL1: Craft – Good, 2 – soft SF/F? Nope – strong near future tech 3 message fiction? Nope.
2010 tied with China Miéville: THE CITY & THE CITY 1: Craft – Excellent, author’s best writing 2 – soft SF/F? sort of passed through magical ralism and out the other side 3 message fiction? Who knows? There could be a secret message in it…
2014 Ann Leckie: ANCILLARY JUSTICE 1: Craft – Excellent, 2 – soft SF/F? Nope, Space Opera 3 message fiction? Nope.
2015 Cixin Liu: THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM 1: Craft – Excellent, 2 – soft SF/F? Nope, alien invasion story 3 message fiction? Nope.
Hey! That was fun.
Oops! Forgot the other half:
1953 Alfred Bester: THE DEMOLISHED MAN 1: Craft – Good, 2 – soft SF/F? Nope – future society with ESP 3 message fiction? Nope.
1960 Robert A. Heinlein: STARSHIP TROOPERS 1: Craft – Good, 2 – soft SF/F? Nope – future space war 3 message fiction? In places
1961 Walter M. Miller, Jr.: A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ 1: Craft – Excellent, 2 – soft SF/F? Nope – future history 3 message fiction? Maybe in places
1962 Robert A. Heinlein: STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND 1: Craft – Good, 2 – soft SF/F? A bit soft, aliens are in the context but primarily a social satire 3 message fiction? Social satire – so yes
1963 Philip K. Dick: THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE 1: Craft – Excellent, 2 – soft SF/F? Softish – alternate history 3 message fiction? Nope
1966 Frank Herbert: DUNE 1: Craft – Excellent, 2 – soft SF/F? Space Epic 3 message fiction? Nope
1967 Robert A. Heinlein: THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS 1: Craft – Excellent, 2 – soft SF/F? Space Epic 3 message fiction? Libertarians seem to like it.
1969 John Brunner: STAND ON ZANZIBAR 1: Craft – Excellent, 2 – soft SF/F? Space Epic 3 message fiction? Nope
1970 Ursula K. Le Guin: THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS 1: Craft – Excellent, 2 – soft SF/F? Alien society 3 message fiction? Not really – radical themes but no specific message.
1971 Larry Niven: RINGWORLD 1: Craft – Excellent, 2 – soft SF/F? Alen exploration 3 message fiction? Not really
1972 Philip José Farmer: TO YOUR SCATTERED BODIES GO 1: Craft – Excellent, 2 – soft SF/F? Alen exploration 3 message fiction? Not really
[UPDATE: there is better number crunching here https://chaoshorizon.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/2015-hugo-stats-initial-analysis/ but I think my numbers are coming out similar. Oh and I lost a whole chunk from the bottom – do scroll past the table in the middle!]
Dave Freer asked me a question over at Mad Genius while we were arguing about Brad Torgersen’s poor behavior.
Just what do you see happening with the 2016 nominations and votes, as a direct result of 2015 and with the figures we now have?
What are the numbers telling us about the voting and the consequences for next year? Put another way what signals are there that we can use to characterize voter behavior and how will that impact in future years? Beyond that what impact did the various players have?
The tricky thing is that the voting was massively dominated by non-Puppies and the non-Puppies are difficult to analyze. On neither side during the kerfuffle was there much internecine conflict. The only obvious flash point was Laura Mixon’s nomination for Best Fan Writer on the basis of her analysis of the behavior of ‘RequiresHate’ – a person whose behavior among the SF/F community had been the cause of much dissension independent of the Puppy Kerfuffle. However this did not translate into the non-Puppies forming rival camps.
Instead both sides tended to unite within themselves against a perceived common threat. For the non-Puppies threat is best understood as two-fold; slate nomination undermining the Hugo Awards and Vox Day. For the Puppies the threat was also two fold: perceived World Con cliques shutting them out and liberal/leftist media/cliques demonizing them. NOTE: to understand the behavior of the two groups it isn’t necessary a this point to decide which of those four narratives had any factual merit. What matters was the perceived threat. Groups with diverse cultures and ideologies can show great unity when there is a common threat and so we didn’t see inner conflicts during the conflict even when allies overtly contradicted each other in terms of objectives or stated purposes.
I suggest there are these major groups at play in the numbers:
Vox Day sort of replied to my answer to Dave Freer (just to make that whole exchange even more weird).
His plan is otters! Also I get a promotion!
“The real burning question is, ‘what will Vox Day attack next?’”
– Charles Stross
“What will happen in 2016. We both know the question is what will Vox Day do? The Sad Puppy plans are secondary to what ever Vox Day does. I assume he will try to run some kind of disruption campaign but what kind we won’t know until next year.”
– Camestros Felapton
Of course, I am not at liberty to reveal the Rabid Puppy 2 strategy, in part because we are still in the first two stages of the OODA loop, observing and orienting. (Sorry, Tom, I couldn’t resist.) But in the interest of further demoralizing the already-retreating enemy, I’m not reluctant to reveal one of the new weapons in our arsenal.
That’s right. The Evil Legion of Evil is training a corps of Amphibious Assault Otters. Armed with acid-filled squirt guns and supported by a crack squad of Attack Manatees, they will emerge from the rivers and literally melt the faces of the SJWs attempting to burn bridges as they continue to retreat. Good day, sir! I said good day!
[SIGH] Why is it that the more overtly awful ones are the funny ones?