In the aftermath of the disaster that was Sad Puppies 3, curator and chief obstuficator of the campaign, Brad Torgersen, has focused the energy of his self portrayal as a bad loser on one specific result. As I’ve noted in the analysis of the results of the 2015 Hugo Awards, Baen Book’s publisher Toni Weisskopf lost to ‘No Award’ in the Best Editor Long Form category. It was actually one of the closer wins for ‘No Award’ but still a comfortable one on first preferences. About 2500 people voted for No Award pushing it comfortably over the line in round 1 but…a few more votes and maybe the contest would have gone a few more rounds but it didn’t.
Toni Weisskopf was nominated due to the combined Puppy slates but as a prominent figure in SF/F publishing there was a strong chance she would have been nominated regardless. Being on the Puppy slates manifestly cost her a huge number of votes and while she was not overtly campaigning for the Puppies her past positions were Puppy-inclined e.g. this from 2014 at According to Hoyt which casts SF awards in terms of US culture wars:
But are the popular awards worth fighting for? I’m not sure our side has ever really tried, though there are indications that previous attempts to rally readers of non-in-group books were thwarted in ways that were against the rules of the game. And yet, to quote Heinlein, “Certainly the game is rigged. Don’t let that stop you. If you don’t bet, you can’t win.”
I think the problem is that folks just really feel they have no possible conversation with the other side any more, that the battle for this part of the culture isn’t worth fighting. And I think again SF is mirroring the greater American culture. Our country is different because it, like science fiction fandom, was built around an idea—not geographic or linguistic accident, but an idea—we hold these truths to be self evident. And it is becoming more and more obvious that the two sides of American culture no longer share a frame of reference, no points of contact, no agreement on the meaning of the core ideas.
Meanwhile I think is worth recapping the various arguments put forward by the puppies (and in particular Brad Torgersen) for voting for Toni Weisskopf for a Hugo Award:
- Because Brad said so. Brad put her on the Puppy slate and that should be enough for us lesser beings.
- Because she is a woman. This is Brad Torgersen’s post Hugo justification. Note this is from the person who had previously claimed that best selling and critically acclaimed Ancillary Justice only won because of ‘affirmative action’.
- Because Brad likes Toni: https://bradrtorgersen.wordpress.com/2014/03/16/why-publish-with-baen/
- Because Brad things Toni is a really good person: https://bradrtorgersen.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/when-ignorant-snobs-attack/
- Because he said so, again: https://bradrtorgersen.wordpress.com/2015/02/01/sad-puppies-3-the-2015-hugo-slate/
- Because the thousands of people who chose not to vote for her thereby proved they were bad people.
To contrast here are the arguments Brad Torgersen didn’t use:
- The actual quality of her editing
- Any actual example from 2014 of the quality of her editing
- Any reason at all why anybody who isn’t Brad Torgersen should vote for her.
In the end the number of votes Toni Weisskopf DID get is an extraordinary demonstration of people willing to ignore Brad’s divisive and baddly run campaign and vote for a notable publisher. In the meantime the two-thousand five hundred people who voted for ‘No Award’ did what Brad has demanded people should do. They looked for credible reasons to vote for somebody for a Hugo, they ignored whether somebody was an industry insider or part of fandom-clique or whether they were a woman – exactly as the Puppies have said voters for the Hugo’s should do.