The Brad Torgersen guide to voting for Toni Weisskopf

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:

  1. Because Brad said so. Brad put her on the Puppy slate and that should be enough for us lesser beings.
  2. 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’.
  3. Because Brad likes Toni:
  4. Because Brad things Toni is a really good person:
  5. Because he said so, again:
  6. 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:

  1. The actual quality of her editing
  2. Any actual example from 2014 of the quality of her editing
  3. 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.


4 responses to “The Brad Torgersen guide to voting for Toni Weisskopf”

  1. The substantive issue is that, in 2014, Gingjer Buchanan got Best Editor: Long Form with 889 votes. In 2015, Toni Weisskopf got 1419 votes and was No Awarded. Thus, a lot of people decided to No Award the long form category. Yes, it’s possible to argue that a huge influx of voters decided that Toni Weisskopf didn’t merit a Hugo, but it’s more likely it was an anti-Puppy vote. Possibly an anti-Baen vote since Toni Weisskopf’s entry for Best Editor seemed to point people to the Baen website (From the Hugo packet – notes “Toni Weisskopf’s work as Editor, Long Form can be found at Baen Books:

    Click to access 2015HugoStatistics.pdf

    Click to access 2014HugoStatistics.pdf


  2. *Given the difference in the number of voters it is hardly odd that in one year with few voters somebody can win with a smaller total than in a year with more voters. Additionally the reason WHY there was more voters was because of an active campaign for more voters – a campaign that Brad Torgersen wanted on the grounds that more people voting meant that the award was somehow more legitimate.
    *There was no positive argument for Toni Weisskopf at all. Baen offered nothing for the Hugo packet and Baen didn’t offer any particular indication of what works she had specifically edited. Baen takes a sort of group editing approach as I understand it, so it is hard to point at any particular thing she edited.
    *Was it an anti-Puppy vote? Choosing No Award over simply abstaining was almost certainly motivated by the Puppy campaign. However, voters were clearly willing to vote positively for things or people that they liked.


  3. The idea of an anti-Baen vote is rather lacking in credibility when Lois McMaster Bujold has twelve noms with five wins, and Penric’s Demon is getting buzz in the Novella category this year. Not to mention several historic nominations for Jim Baen.
    While you could try to claim Weisskopf was being punished for association with SP, she had done a pretty good job of appearing neutral in the Puppy kerfluffle prior to voting – an According To Hoyt post she’d made over a year earlier was probably the only public foray into the issue she’d made – and most of the focus was in the fiction and fan categories.
    There was probably a set of people who voted on the basis of _how_ someone got their nomination, but there was also a set voting on merit who TW didn’t give any evidence to work with. I think the stats show some evidence that Editor LF was a category where, like in Dramatic Presentation, some of the former group departed from their position, but that left them in the same position as the latter group. However, I don’t know why Brad or anyone else expected either of those sets of people to depart from their positions especially for Weisskopf.


  4. The fact that different Worldcons, with different populations, in different places, have different numbers of voters, really, *really* doesn’t matter unless you want to say that John Kerry should be President in 2004 because his 59 million votes were more than Ronald Reagan’s in 1984. You could play that game with any category and any two years. The fact that this is painstakingly obvious to any neutral observer makes it yet another suspect puppy talking point.


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