Dragon Award Winners

Red Panda Fraction has been live tweeting the results:

A summary – looks like no surprises or big upsets

  • A Star-Wheeled Sky by Brad R. Torgersen wins Best SF novel.
  • House of Assassins by Larry Correia wins Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal),
  • Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard wins Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel.
  • Uncompromising Honor by David Weber wins Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel.
  • Thrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn wins Best Media Tie-In Novel.
  • Little Darlings by Melanie Golding wins Best Horror Novel.
  • Black Chamber by S.M. Stirling wins Best Alternate History Novel.
  • Avengers: Endgame by Anthony Russo, Joe Russo wins Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie.
  • Good Omens, Amazon Prime wins Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series.
  • Saga by Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples wins Best Comic Book.
  • X-Men: Grand Design – Second Genesis by Ed Piskor wins Best Graphic Novel.
  • Harry Potter: Wizards Unite by Niantic, WB Games San Francisco wins Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game.
  • Betrayal Legacy by Avalon Hill Gameswins Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game.
  • Call of Cthulhu: Masks of Nyarlathotep Slipcase Set by Chaosium Inc. wins Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game.

Quick analysis:

  • Brad Puppies: 5 wins out of 10 (but multiple finalists in some categories)
  • Baen books: 3 wins out of 3
  • Chris Kennedy books: 0 wins out of 4
  • Tor books: 1 out of 5
  • Gender: Of 10 named winners (including co-authors etc) in books & comics 7 are men and 3 are women.
  • Of the two headline categories of Best SF and Best Fantasy for the Dragon Awards there have now been 10 winning authors (including two co-author pairs), all have been men.

146 thoughts on “Dragon Award Winners

  1. Avengers: Endgame 😦
    Saga 😦
    Wizards Unite :((
    Masks of Nyarlathotep :((((((

    A depressingly confused superhero film, a middle episode of a comic, a cloned game and a re-packaged game from 1984.

    Meh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So some of the issues I have with a Video Game Hugo are even replicated elsewhere in gaming! More reasons not to have a Game/Interactive Experience Hugo?

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Of the two headline categories of Best SF and Best Fantasy for the Dragon Awards there have now been 10 winning authors (including two co-author pairs), all have been men.

    And none of the Usual Suspects will complain about that, whereas they will whine endlessly when the Hugo and Nebula winners are all women. 🤬

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Something, something, creative mind, something, something natural order, something something, something.

      I suspect I put in only a bit less effort into that reply on the subject than most of the Pups do.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. The Dragon Awards still aren’t important enough to be worth the effort of figuring out the genders of the different winners. However, the odds of ten men in a row (assuming 50/50 split) is just 1 in 1024. On that score, there’s a clear gender bias. However, given the origin of the Dragon’s, that’s not a surprise. We don’t expect the Dragons to be fair. We do expect the Hugos to be fair. That’s the biggest difference.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. @Greg

        I’m going to take a bit of an exception to this, because it seems to me, going by this and the various other comments you’ve left on this subject, that you want the Hugos to be fair *regardless of quality*. That is, you want a 50/50 male/female split, even if the male (or the female, for that matter) writers don’t represent the best fiction of the year.

        Please correct me if I’m reading you wrong, but that’s the vibe I’m getting.

        I’ve stated before that of the many books and stories I read each year, the female writers and writers of color, in my view, are at the moment simply better than the male ones. Obviously this is a subjective opinion, and further limited by the amount of fiction any one person can read in a year, but this is the impression I have held for several years now. Certainly I don’t think you can deny that N.K. Jemisin, for instance, is arguably the best writer in the SFF field right now, and Mary Robinette Kowal, Martha Wells, R.F. Kuang , and many many other women are also at the top of their game.

        I don’t think my opinion is an outlier; I think it is shared by many in the Hugo voting and nominating pool. Given this, it is only natural that most of the nominees and winners of the Hugo and Nebula awards are going to be women, because the pool believes they are the better writers.

        I had more than enough of reading crappy writing nominated by people who thought said crappy writers were entitled to be on the ballot in 2015/2016, and I don’t care to repeat the experience. If that means that the Hugo nominees and winners skew female right now, then so be it. The pendulum will swing back sooner or later; it always does. But as far as I am concerned, that will only happen when writers of the male persuasion step up their game, as the women have done. (I like John Scalzi, for example, and have nearly all of his books. That doesn’t mean I think he’s at the level of a Jemisin, Kowal or Kuang.) Then I will happily add them to my ballot and vote for them.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Greg Hullender: However, the odds of ten men in a row (assuming 50/50 split) is just 1 in 1024. On that score, there’s a clear gender bias. We don’t expect the Dragons to be fair. We do expect the Hugos to be fair. That’s the biggest difference.

        Argh, there it is with the “we” again. There is no “we”. You only get to talk about what you expect.

        And it’s apparent that the Hugos are fair, because the statistics are published.

        But that’s not what you’re talking about here, is it? What you’re really claiming is that unless the demographics of the genders of the Hugo nominees and winners matches global demographics, then the Hugos aren’t “fair”.

        That’s a false assumption for several reasons, as has been explained to you repeatedly on this blog and on File 770. Do you really want me to make a list for you of all of the links where people have explained this to you?

        Or perhaps you’ll finally be willing to concede that the demographics of works chosen by a small, self-selected subgroup of people can not be expected to map to the demographics of the general population. Hope springs eternal, I guess.

        Like

  3. In the very very major award, a total of eight persons has found it interesting enough to comment on the winners on twitter, this four hours after the announcement. Of those, more than half seem to have been mostly interested in puppy watching.

    Of course, some of those that have blocked me might also have commented.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. It’s homeopathically prestigious, which as everyone knows, is a better more refined kind of prestige when compared to the sort where people know about something and talk about it.

        Liked by 4 people

  4. As Cora said on her blog, this was “an encouraging step forward in the 2019 nominations, coupled with a step back in the actual winners”.

    It looks as though either the Puppies made a more concerted effort this year, or the admins decided to throw them a bone. That win for Torgersen really sets the awards back, in terms of the Dragon Awards looking like a meaningful awards program.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Along with the 3 Baen books, Stirling is also strongly associated with Baen, so the book results are basically Baen fan favourites.
    I’m not sure this result is so much post-puppy as to do with the strong Baen presence at DC – the SF track is run by Baen fans, Baen authors are frequent guests, etc etc.
    Be interesting to hear if they mentioned any voting numbers, but it looks like they still haven’t got the bulk of attendees interested in voting.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Stirling bragged on File 770 about being good friends with the administrator, who he therefore trusts to run the Dragon Awards properly. I didn’t bother pointing out that with two prior nominations (and now a win), of course he’d have a good opinion of the administrator — or that bragging about his friendship with the administrator of an awards program which allows that admin to do anything they want with the ballot made all of his nominations look suss. 🙄

      Liked by 4 people

      1. As I said, suss.

        It must be nice to have a buddy whom you know will ensure that your books end up on an award shortlist. 🙄

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Too be fair to Stirling, his comment about Black Chamber seems to be that as 1st in a series it’ll have a stronger audience and might stand out – which seems to be broadly true (e.g. the Hugos don’t go for middle books very much unless the earlier volumes were already on their radar). So if he got a nom for a book at the end of a series, it’s a fair prediction that a good series starter ought to do better.
        Of course, he really doesn’t examine the implications of him being friends with staff…

        Liked by 2 people

  6. You guys see awards being given to people whom you don’t much like and to works that you don’t much care for, and you infer that the awards are rigged. So how are you different from the Puppies?

    Like

    1. I refer you to the previous long conversation on the same topic, in which you ignored the reasons being given to you for being dubious of the awards at this time.
      I’m certainly not repeating myself again.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. No I see an award with opaque rules, weird operation, no data and odd results and I ask how do we know these awards are not rigged? Show me the same kind of data the Puppies were shown about the Hugo’s then I’ll adjust my views.

      So your turn: how many people voted for each finalist? How many people nominated each finalist? That’s basic data if it is a genuinely popular vote.

      Let me know when you’ve got the figures.

      Liked by 4 people

    3. hyrosen: You guys see awards being given to people whom you don’t much like and to works that you don’t much care for, and you infer that the awards are rigged. So how are you different from the Puppies?

      You’re assuming that people here have feelings about authors apart from “meh, whatever”, which is mostly my reaction to the works which show up on the Dragon ballot.

      Of course the Dragon Awards aren’t “rigged”. It says right in the sweepstakes rules for the awards that the administrators can decide what goes on the ballot and what wins. It’s not rigging if it’s legal according to the rules.

      As far as “different from Puppies”? You don’t see anyone here posting vituperous abuse and lies about the Puppies as the Puppies did about Worldcon members. You also don’t see anyone here trying to cheat their own works onto the Dragon Awards ballot, or posting slates and encouraging people to all nominate and vote for the same thing.

      This isn’t rocket science, Hy. These things are obvious, so I can only presume that your question is one made in bad faith.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. My reading would be that puppyish people had a substantial turnout (while others didn’t, owing to low publicity), but didn’t actually vote slatishly (i.e. lots of identical ballots, consistent across categories), so the organisers saw no reason to take action against them. (At one point in the past, I think in 2017, the organisers said that they had detected slating activity ‘both by Sad Puppies and by justice warriors’ and were dealing with it.)

    As for the broader significance of the thing: clearly these aren’t in all cases the most popular things in science fiction (though some are pretty popular), and given that this was sold as the award that would represent everyone, it’s fair to comment on that. But then, the Hugos don’t always go to the most popular things either – they represent a particular point of view on the field, and as I keep saying there’s nothing wrong with that, and if the Dragons come to represent a different point of view (which was more or less inevitable given their ‘get out the vote’ approach, which will favour authors who take an interest in the Dragons), there shouldn’t be anything wrong with that either.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The new N3F Zine “The N3F Review of Books, Incorporating Prose Bono” made a heroic effort to review all the Dragon nominees in four of the fiction categories. Our reviewer almost covered all of them. Readers who would like to see a cample copy with 2/3 of the reviews have but to ask. There was not much time for reviewing. At over $10 for the ebook, one of the novels priced itself out of existence for the reviewer.

    Out objective is to publish a solid review of every novel published, but as this is a couple hundred novels every month, I expect it will be a while before we get there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That remains one of the biggest issues with engaging with the Dragons. It requires heroic effort to engage with all of those books.
      Even a few more weeks between the finalists being announced and the voting closing would be good.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Okay, so they went backwards. As we know, the awards are in the rules declared to be at the full discretion of the award admins for noms and wins. So rather than a legitimate popular vote award, the Dragons are currently a simple judge selection award of the admins, with the judgement made partly based on the popular vote, but also on the politics of the award admins and the optics of how the awards look in their nomination and winner results for both the general public and the DragonCon runners. The last group, the DragonCon runners, have minimal interest in the actual awards but may be sensitive to the optics of an official “Dragon” award to the general public, especially if that public is talking a lot, such as with the efforts of the Red Panda Faction. They can put whatever pressure they want on the award admins to tighten up things.

    The award admins are friends of the Puppies and their politics, which resulted in the first year of the Dragons being something of a clubhouse, with not only a heavy Puppy presence but a number of fairly obscure, low level Puppies getting nominations and winning what was claimed to be a “popular vote” award. The first year had also rampant confusing disorganization of the award, no promo support from DragonCon, etc. The second year, the award admins (and possibly DragonCon itself,) were more sensitive to the optics and made an effort to adhere more to the public vote and to have more big name, not conservative authors in the nominees. This seems likely to have been caused by pressure from the DragonCon runners to make more of an effort and get bigger names for the awards. This caused them some problems as several of these authors did not want to be nominated for/involved with the Dragons due to the Puppies’ attacks on these authors and that it isn’t a legitimate award. The award admins tried to hold these authors hostage, refusing to let them refuse the nominations, but then relented again because of optics. However, they also still did poor organization and little promotion to deliberately keep voter turnout and award awareness low, an advantage for the Puppies.

    The next development was that groups of self-publishing authors that have been working together for marketing, packaging, etc., some with friendly relations to Puppies, others not, got wind of the Dragons and encouraged their fans to go vote for them in them. This put the admins in the position of giving them a number of noms in line with the popular vote, but the admins have not selected these people to win the awards. The arrival of the self-pub authors in the voting shut out lots of slots for the lesser Puppies in nominations, leaving mainly the best-selling ones and best-selling authors they regard as acceptable/friendly politically. The spread they got in Year One of the Dragons was clearly going to be unrepeatable.

    With promo efforts from groups like Red Panda and from DragonCon, which may also have been pressuring the award admins, plus simply having the Dragons be older and slightly more known, we saw a predictable pattern of more and more general best-sellers being in the nominations and doing some wins in the more recent years. This indicated that the popular vote was bigger and that the admins were adhering more to the popular vote in their decisions and wanted media attention supporting the Dragons.

    But at the same time, the admins continued to barely promote the awards, kept the nomination vote process confusing and difficult (which seemed a bit deliberate,) which produces a low voter turnout and could give them more leeway to throw some wins and nominations to those they personally approve of. That DragonCon seemed to be doing more promotion of the awards indicated that the con runners were perhaps taking more of an interest in the awards, wanting a broader voter population, and pressuring the admins to act more legitimately for optics.

    With these wins, however, we can see that there isn’t that much interest/pressure from the DragonCon runners after all, since they A) didn’t promote the winners of the awards as yet; and B) the winners are highly skewed towards Puppy/Puppy approved authors again (though not as badly as Year One.) This indicates first of all that the admins have made a conscious decision to not let the self-pub authors get much traction, even though the main beneficiary this year – Chris Kennedy – is a Puppy friendly (which may have helped in him and his house getting nom selections.) The self-pub groups were a bit of a problem for the Puppies, who despite somewhat being involved in self-pub, have centered themselves around Baen Books. While they’re not unwelcome, it seems clear that the admins have decided not to let them win for now.

    So what does the win data tell us? First off that the Puppies have been able to rally and get a better voter turnout of their groups, which makes things easier for the admins. This may reflect the recent increase in Gamergate activity, or just simply that having been set back on their heels by the self-pub groups, the Puppies got a bit more organized (which, you know, good for them.) The data also tells us that when it comes to categories in the awards that are of interest to Puppies/Baen, the admins are willing to go their way with the wins, at least for this year. That tells us that the fairly rapid trajectory towards legitimacy that the Dragons was undertaking has now been slowed down, which is more in line with expectations from the behavior in the first two years of the awards.

    Brad should not have won the SF Award. He’s far less known than the Corey duo or Robinson, and has not had the fan buzz attention for his book that Chambers and Martine have had for their series in the field. That means the Puppies deliberately rallied for him and the award admins decided to throw it to him, forsaking bigger names that likely got more votes and would have gotten them more media attention.

    LC’s win is less of an indicator given the Dragons’ history with him and that he is a bestseller about equivalent to his fellow nominees. But the win again indicates that the Puppies rallied voters and that the award admins were willing to throw both of the biggest awards to the two biggest Puppies, which given what year we’re on and what’s happened the past couple of years with the awards, is remarkable.

    David Weber has been a favorite of the Puppy contingent, especially since he declared an entire convention a woman author harassment zone for his buddies, and is a Baen author. So his winning mil SF, while also a feature of his bestsellerdom, etc., shows the award admins are continuing to pick a lane. Stirling likewise for Alt History. Timothy Zahn is also liked by the Puppies (bit of a libertarian bent,) and it’s Star Wars, so not a surprise there, but in the same neighborhood.

    When it comes to Horror and YA/MG, however, the Puppies have much less play and interest in those book categories, especially YA. (It may or may not be relevant that these are not areas Baen has done a lot with.) So in those two categories, women won and those women were bestselling authors in a nomination field with mainly big sellers. So that seems to indicate that the admins mostly just went with the popular vote in what are considered by their politics less important categories, as they did in previous years.

    The Puppies have varied interests in the non-novel categories, but not compelling interest, and the self-pub group voters have little interest. And so the winners in the non-novel categories are scattered about in selection, which again reflects more of an adherence to the popular vote, a vote that is usually higher than for the book categories and thus a wider spread. So in those areas, the Dragons inch towards a more legitimate, popular vote award.

    If the trajectory towards legitimacy continued, and if the pressure on the admins to do so was strong, then we would have seen one or two Puppy-liked wins for the novel categories but we would have had more of a variety of winners. But that’s not what the admins went with. What we’ve effectively had here is a half-decent sweep for one political group, a group that does not reflect the demographics of DragonCon attendees, (though may be influenced by Baen Books having a lot of involvement in the fiction area of the con.) While the Puppies cannot repeat Year One – especially as there’s a bit more attention on the Dragons – they have partly repelled the self-pub group incursion on their “turf” and showed that the admins are still more into promoting them through the awards than the awards. (The irony regarding the Hugo campaigns is strong.)

    As we know, the Dragons aren’t likely to become really legitimate until the rules are changed, the current award admins are replaced and new ones stick to the popular vote and promote and organize the awards properly. So it’s interesting to watch the current admins’ behavior – how far they do or don’t go, what pressures DragonCon does and does not put on them, and how well the Puppies can hold the line as each year the Dragons will become better known and more voters creates a problem for them. Next year, the fun things to watch are how they handle the organization and voting process, what happens with the self-pub contingent, and whether the skewed pattern with winners continues. I’d been surprised at how quickly the awards were evolving; this is a brake on that, moving more to what we might have expected from Year One.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m assuming the final result was simply the outcome of the Survey Monkey poll. It’s the line of least resistance and Larry C has enough popular support & Baen brand loyalty that he would bring lots of voters. The overall vote size could be up to 6 times greater than the Baen vote and still get these results. I do suspect shenanigans at the nomination stage that are permitted by the rules.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. You said the results were the outcome of the Survey Monkey poll. What was the outcome of the Survey Monkey poll? 🙂

        Got to read Cora’s overview — very good one. It also raised an interesting data point that we again can’t test since they won’t release any clear voter data and have rules that votes don’t matter anyway. She’s talking about the make-up of DragonCon attendees and the splits in it, re the winners. But one of the points of the Dragon Awards was that it wasn’t to be chiefly a convention award. Instead, they wanted it to be like the now gone Gemmell awards — anybody could vote online for it, which means the voter tally wouldn’t necessarily be made up of a majority of the DragonCon attendees.

        And yet, the results do seem to possibly indicate that a lot of the voters are DragonCon attendees — liberal, younger, diverse, multi-media congoers and the conservative, Puppy/Baen, lit folk (who’ve been making life difficult for other lit people in those tracks.) But we can’t really check on it. We don’t know how much influence the attendees of DragonCon have or don’t have on the award admins and the awards as part of the vote.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Oh I see! I just mean that I think the results match how many votes people got — but only because that’s simpler & there was nothing I found surprising. I’ve no hard evidence and it’s possible some votes were adjusted.
        Indeed, you would hope they do discard obvious cases of multiple voting but that itself raises questions about what got discarded

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Voting closed only what… 24 hours before the winners announcement? Were the Dragon Award trophies engraved with the winners’ names? Because that’s a big indication that the voting was immaterial to the selection of the winners.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Yeah that’s another thing that is truly weird. Did they do it that way before in past years — voting right up to the day before the awards presentation? No other award with a vote does this. It’s an indication that the votes are again just guidelines for the admins rather than the main factor in the awards, and also that the admins are letting the Puppies rally their contingent at the actual DragonCon to run up the vote last minute, which very may well have cemented the wins this year. This quasi-vote/quasi-admins pick rules thing is really a mess.

        On the brighter side, that authors like Cat Rambo (highly disliked by Puppies) were willing to present at the awards ceremony does show that they are giving the Dragons more of a break to get established, rather than just leaving it to the Pups. And this general acceptance will help pull the awards to eventual legitimacy rather than to a back door judging procedure. But I’m going back to my original prediction of it taking at least ten years.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. It’s always been pretty close. Maybe a bit tighter this year with when 31 August fell with respect to the weekend. Either way, there’s never much time between the polls closing and the results. However, Survey Monkey usually allows you to see live totals. You could make a good guess about the results before the poll closed.

        Like

  10. I’m strongly associated with Baen?

    The fact that I had a very public falling-out with Jim in 1997 (over the gender, sexual orientation and race of the protagonist of ISLAND IN THE SEA OF TIME), pulled the book, paid back the advance and haven’t sold Baen Books any novels since, makes this sort of news to me.

    I’m friendly with Toni and a number of Baen authors… does that count?

    I think of myself as a Penguin (and these days Random House) author, since that’s where I’ve published my long-form work for the last twenty-odd years, including my 15/18 book Island-Emberverse series, and also BLACK CHAMBER and its follow-ons, and where my best sellers have been done.

    As to the Dragon Awards, as far as I know (and I know quite a few of the people involved) the winners are selected purely on the vote totals, first past the post. I do know that the number of votes this year was well above 10,000 so claque manipulation is very unlikely. It’s a pure popularity contest — within the subset of fandom who register and vote on it.

    I confess I was surprised at the AH results; my bet would have been on the MacEwan, and my own votes on, after me, of course, on the Kowal and then Tidhar. I’ve read those two and they’re both excellent, IMHO.

    Like

    1. @SM Stirling —

      “As to the Dragon Awards, as far as I know (and I know quite a few of the people involved) the winners are selected purely on the vote totals, first past the post.”

      Except that we don’t actually know this.

      Aside from the questions surrounding ballot-box stuffing, the Dragon rules specifically allow the admins to change the votes however they like. And since they never release any of the voting data, we don’t know whether actual votes have anything to do with the results.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. You may know who the admins are but I don’t think any of us here actually do? The info certainly doesn’t seem to be anywhere on the site that I’ve seen. They also only give out the vaguest of information and it’s very easy to just toss out a good sounding number and be done with it at that stage. Of course Pups and associates take it on faith that the admins, who nobody aside from you and Larry seem to know, aren’t lying through their teeth. The rest of us prefer to remain sceptical.

      If they get the participation they claim, they absolutely shouldn’t mind sharing that data at all. it’s pretty simple to generate charts from SurveyMonkey so that’s a non-issue. The only reasons not to show off the charts and voting numbers for everything are that they don’t get the claimed participation OR that the whole process is smoke and mirrors and they’re just going to give awards to their buddies anyway.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Any numbers beyond “10,000 votes” would be interesting. Even some clarity on whether that’s total voters or only votes cast would help.

        Liked by 1 person

    3. “I’m strongly associated with Baen?”

      Yes, in the sense that fans of Baen publishing’s output seem to also like your stuff. Obviously you’d know better than I do, but that’s certainly my impression.
      As CF says, there’s no intent to take the shine off things for you here, but I do like to analyse results and chew them over, and the point being chewed over here is that there’s clearly a strong contingent of Baen fans voting in these awards (and attending DC) primarily shown by the wins for 3 current Baen authors but also backed up by the win for yourself. Last year we were looking at how various self-pub individuals and groups had had quite good success, and so on.

      As you say, the votes come from a subset of fandom, and it’s interesting to see what that subset (or set of subsets, I suppose) actually is.

      As to why that’s interesting, well, DC made some claims way back when the awards started about representing true popularity or some such, and other people made similar claims in stronger and more combative terms, and it’s interesting to see to what extent they’re actually achieving that.

      Liked by 3 people

  11. It’s quite clear that they are using the votes, not ignoring them. We wouldn’t see the spreads we’ve seen in the last three years if they ignored the votes. The self-pub authors would not have been able to get anywhere in nominations if they didn’t use the votes as a guideline. It’s just that the admins don’t have to, by their stated rules, follow the votes exactly. According to their rules, they decide if the votes count or not and can choose who they feel is appropriate. According to the rules, no one is allowed to challenge/question this and what the admins say goes. (And no data is released.)

    As long as the Dragons have those stated rules, the award cannot be legitimately called a popular vote award. It is instead a set of awards judged and selected by the award administrators based, but not necessarily entirely, on a popular vote. That’s a substantial difference. In the first year of the awards, the admins selected for nominations and winners a whole brace of Puppy authors, many of them little known, and bigger name authors who the Puppies politically liked and recommended. This was after the spokespeople who seemed to be running the awards indicated openly that they were friendly with the Puppies, had political problems with liberal authors (social justice,) and accused those authors of trying to rig the Dragons, saying that they had thrown out their votes. While it seems likely that the Puppies and their friends were major voters of the Dragons the first year, the results were clearly skewed and created a great deal of skepticism that the voting was the deciding factor of the awards, given that the award rules stated that the votes are not the deciding factor.

    Mr. Stirling, Mr. Weber, etc., are not conspiring to run the vote, nor are their positions as well-known bestsellers in doubt. But they are politically liked and recommended by the Puppies. The Puppies have clearly been able to mobilize votes for the past four years to have an impact. But it’s the amount of the actual impact that cannot be ascertained and according to the award rules isn’t even necessary for the decisions. An award that is stated to be decided by the admins and shows a consistent pattern of the same set of authors for its entire existence with those admins is still working its way to being a legitimate popular vote award. It ain’t there yet.

    Ultimately it’s not going to matter. DragonCon has decided to continue running the award, so it’s now established and eventually when the rules are changed and it does become an actual popular vote award, the earlier noms and winners will officially have their records and no one is going to care about the early procedures. More and more people will become aware of the award and the voting will increase, creating pressure to have the admins actually match the vote record and then get rid of the rules that give the admins sole discretion. The spectrum of nominations and winners will increase.

    But that it increased this year for the nominations and then not for the winners is going to be a data point that people are going to chew on this year.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I suspect they could drive it up with stronger promotion to their attendees, but otherwise I wouldn’t be shocked to see it stay plateaued.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. So… sincere question from a casual spec fiction fan.

    As someone who is literally learning a lot of the whole “behind-the-scenes” back and forth, that has been going on for the past few years with the Hugos and Puppies and the like… kind of not sure what to make heads or tails of it.

    Maybe it’s odd, but as a casual genre fan, I was completely and blissfully unaware of it. You’d asked me a week ago about my favorite Fantasy series of the decade, and I’d say it was a coin toss between Jemisin’s Broken Earth and Correia’s Forgotten Warrior, and now I learn aparantly the authors have been throwing shade at each toher for years.

    Hell, only reason I found this page was I looked up “Dragon Award”. I’m an Atlanta native, so I was just kind of thrilled our con was hosting an award like this.

    1) The short version – just what the hell happened with the puppies and stuff?

    2) What’s wrong with the Dragon Awards? I’m not a SFWA member (yet!) so I can’t vote for the Hugos, and they seem to have some good ideas the Hugos haven’t acted on – like having an award for Media Tie in, or breaking things down by genre. It’s the only way Zahn would ever win a Hugo sadly.

    3) Is there anything wrong with Baen? Like from the bits I’ve read, I get why people don’t like Correia or Torgersen.. but is there anything wrong with Charles Gannon or Eric Flint or the rest? I love Gannon’s stuff, and from his job MCing the Dragons, he seems pretty chill.

    Especially in the South, which is their companies back yard, they’re at all the local cons, and I’d never thought of anything sinister before.

    Sorry to bug you, but just trying to figure this out…

    Oh, I do have one thing toward ongoing discussion – why SM Sterling won.

    Alternate history was a pretty weak catagory this year, and Sterling is a known genre author. There was nothing from bigger heavyweights like Turtledove or Flint, and even as an AH nut, I’d only heard of The Calculating Stars after it won the Hugo/was nominated for the Sideways award.

    Sterling was literally the only guy up for the AH award I knew about other than Lavie Tidhar, and I knew of him just from Analog.

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    1. @Brandon —

      Just a few informative notes:

      “a coin toss between Jemisin’s Broken Earth and Correia’s Forgotten Warrior, and now I learn aparantly the authors have been throwing shade at each toher for years.”

      So far as I know, neither Jemisin nor Correia have even mentioned each other over the years. They are, however, sort of avatars for the two “sides” of the puppy uproar, and Correia was the main founder of the entire puppy movement. Vox Day, the main instigator of Jemisin hatred, actually got thrown out of the SFWA for the way he misused the SFWA official twitter account to attack Jemisin with vile and racist insults.

      “1) The short version – just what the hell happened with the puppies and stuff?”

      Too long to get into any details! Essentially: at first Correia just wanted a Hugo award, and organized his buddies to get him one. That didn’t work. Then the scheme broadened into getting Hugo awards for all their buddies, then it became very politicized. They lost, they ran away, the end.

      “2) What’s wrong with the Dragon Awards?”

      The main problem with the Dragons is that there’s no accountability. We have no idea how much ballot-box stuffing is going on, the rules specifically state that the admins can change the results however they see fit without regard to the actual votes, and there is virtually no time between the nominations and the final voting — so there’s no time for voters to actually read all the nominees, which means that it’s impossible to have a fully informed vote. And since the admins refuse to release the actual voting stats, we have no idea what’s going on behind the scenes.

      “I’m not a SFWA member (yet!) so I can’t vote for the Hugos”

      SFWA doesn’t have anything to do with the Hugos. To vote in the Hugos, you only need to pay for a supporting membership to Worldcon every year (currently $50).

      “3) Is there anything wrong with Baen?”

      Well, yes and no. Baen virtually boasts that they don’t do any editing of their books, which says very bad things about the quality of their output. OTOH, some very good, very famous, and very popular authors have been published by Baen over the years.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. 1. That’s a long story but have a look at the timeline on this site
      2. Two things: the first couple of years were part of the Puppy fallout and the second is the rules & process are very opaque.
      2a. Good news! The Hugo’s aren’t connected to the SWFA. Anyone can join Worldcon & vote. The SWFA award is the Nebulas
      3. Baen is great and publishes lots of great SFF. The Baen thing is more around a set of disgruntled authors who regard Baen as a badge of honour & believe the Hugo awards are biased against them & Baen for reasons. John Ringo, Tom Kratman, Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen specifically. The Sad Puppy campaigns were not exclusively Baen connected but also included as notable figures Sarah Hoyt & Dave Freer both who have been published by Baen.
      Another factor is something you touched on — outside of the US Baen is a bit obscure but in the US much less so. So there’s an aspect of some authors being very famous and also really obscure at the same time. That has led to some bruised egos.
      3. I thought Sterling was a likely winner and I wasn’t surprised he won. However, if the award was a straight popularity contest then Calculating Stars was a more likely winner. I actually think it is better if an award is NOT just a simple who-sold-more contest, but that’s another story.

      Liked by 2 people

    3. To add my tuppence to previous replies on Baen.. it’s complicated. As CF says, a lot of the bad actors were Baen or Baen-adjacent, and one of the things that seemed to be fuelling at least some people’s resentments was a sense that Baen (and the style of book it’s known for) were being snubbed. OTOH there are lots of Baen authors who either don’t care or actively opposed the puppies – Eric Flint being a solid example of the latter.
      I’m not sure it’s correct to say Baen is an issue… but some people associated with Baen do have some issues.

      Liked by 2 people

    4. A couple points not mentioned above:

      – Timothy Zahn actually did win a Hugo back in 1984, for his novella “Cascade Point”.

      – There are good reasons we don’t split Hugo categories by genre – see the Hugo Study Committee’s 2017 report, pages 24-25.

      – If you are interested in nominating and voting for next year’s Hugo Awards, all you have to do is buy a CoNZealand membership. If you’re interested in making changes to how the Hugos work … well that’s probably too long for this comment.

      Liked by 2 people

    5. Brandon: 1) The short version – just what the hell happened with the puppies and stuff?

      There’s not really any short version. It’s long, and it’s complicated.

      As Camestros suggested, you should read “The Puppy Kerfuffle Timeline” which is linked at the top of this blog. It’s a great overview, but it contains close to 300 links to referenced posts, articles, and comments. If you decide that you are deeply interested in this, then you can go back through and start reading the linked pieces.

      This is as compact as I can make it for you:

      1) In 2013, Larry Correia decided that he wanted and deserved a Hugo Award, and he started a low-key campaign to persuade his followers to nominate him, which he christened “Sad Puppies” as a reference to a real-world charity campaign which used a photo of puppies with sad eyes to spur donations. He also included a handful of other candidates of reasonable-to-great quality, several of which did make the Hugo ballot, though he did not. He made the racist claim that one of the Hugo novel finalists was only on the ballot because the author had an ethnic name.

      2) In 2014, Correia stepped up his campaign in Sad Puppies 2, including a poor-quality work by Vox Day, a reactionary right-wing jerk who had been kicked out of SFWA for extremely racist behavior, just because he wanted to “piss off the SJWs” — Social Justice Warrior being the epithet he had chosen for anyone who had different politics from him or liked SFF fiction that he didn’t like. Several of the Puppy works made the ballot, including Correia’s novel, a fix-up novel by Brad Torgersen, and an extruded-fantasy RPG tie-in work (all of which finished last in their categories), and the poor-quality work by VD (which came in behind “No Award”, which means that the voters said “this work did not deserve to be on the ballot”).

      3) While all of this was going on, Correia and various Sad Puppy supporters were all posting hateful and abusive vindictive rhetoric about Worldcon members, the evil “SJWs”, and the secret conspiracy in which Tor Books was buying and rigging the Hugo Award nominations (yes, it’s all very ridiculous, but his followers all bought into it completely). This irrational abuse and invective, much of it sexist and racist, against Worldcon members, perceived SJWs, women, people of color, LGBTQ people, and anyone else they feel has deprived them of the book sales and awards they thiink they deserve, still continues to this day.

      4) In 2015, Torgersen stepped up as campaign leader, and he and Correia worked together with VD to launch the for Sad Puppies 3 and Rabid Puppies 1 slates. The Puppies insisted that they represented a Great Silent Majority of SFF fans who resented the way the “SJWs” had desecrated the Hugos. Despite the Puppies’ claims that high-quality works by conservative authors had been ignored by the Hugo Awards, instead of putting such works on their slate, they instead put works by themselves and all of their writer friends on the slates (works which ranged from passable to mediocre to execrable). VD mobilized a large base of internet trolls and haters who were willing to buy a $50 Supporting Membership to Worldcon for the pleasure of “making SJW heads explode”.

      5) It had been known for decades that the Hugo nominating process was vulnerable to this sort of slating by a minority group, but no one had decided to be “that asshole” until now. With the exception of the Novel category, the Puppies took over every category on the ballot for which they had slated entries. Worldcon members were not pleased. The Puppy works which had been cheated onto the ballot were widely read and reviewed by Hugo voters, and the general consensus was that most of the works were crap, and some were just plain unreadable. All of the slated Puppy works — with the exception of the movies in Dramatic Presentation, which were widely-popular — finished below No Award. A whole lot more whining, barking, crying, and invective by the Puppies followed. Meanwhile, the WSFS members had spents months developing a nomination counting algorithm which de-privileged slate votes while being utterly blind to the nature of the slated works, and this passed its first reading at Worldcon.

      6) In 2016, the Sad Puppies — perhaps disillusioned at finding out that they were just a small vocal minority — modified their approach in Sad Puppies 4 to taking recommendations and making a Top Ten list for each category. However, a lot of the commenters from File 770 posted suggestions on their list (probably more so than Puppies did), and the whole thing kind of fizzled out. Meanwhile, Vox Day ran another full slate of works, on which he seeded some legitimately-popular works (in the mistaken belief that Hugo voters would be stupid enough to No Award those works just because they had appeared on the RP slate). Once again, they took over most of the ballot, and the crappy Puppy works got No Awarded, while the genuinely popular works did not. Chuck Tingle, who writes anthropomorphic porn, and whose story “Space Raptor Butt Invasion” was slated onto the ballot by the Puppies as a F*** Y** to Hugo voters, refused to allow his work to be used in this way, turned the tables, and spent months trolling the Puppies and making fools of them (an effort for which he was voted a genuine Fan Writer finalist the following year). The anti-slating nomination counting algorithm, or E Pluribus Hugo (EPH), was ratified and became part of the Hugo Award rules.

      7) In 2017, the Sad Puppies 5 campaign never materialized. Aware that he could no longer take over the ballot due to EPH, and with most of his minions who had gotten 2 years of nominating out of buying one year’s membership unwilling to shell out any more money for little return, Vox Day presented a Rabid Puppies 3 slate with just one entry in each category (a method which would not be devalued by EPH, which acts on category nomination ballots which are full or nearly full). However, they had a dismal result, with only 9 entries appearing on the final ballot after 4 others were disqualified as ineligible, and which were subsequently No Awarded.

      8) In 2018, stymied by EPH the Rabid Puppies wandered off to troll other, more fruitful ground. To this day, the Sad Puppies continue to hurl invective, refuse to admit that they were wrong about anything, and blame Worldcon and the Hugo voters for Puppies not getting all the rewards they deserve (in addition to just ruining society in general).

      Liked by 3 people

    6. Brandon: 2) What’s wrong with the Dragon Awards?

      In 2016, a new award, the Dragon Awards, was announced as being sponsored by DragonCon. Except that it
      – had its own website
      – had rules which were copied verbatim from a bunch of junk sweepstakes sites on the internet which allow the admins to put whatever works they want on the ballot and choose whichever winners they wish
      – had an odd eligibility period of 16+ months from April to July which just happened to include the publication dates of certain Puppy works on either end (and was later revised to be July to June)
      – had such a short voting span that it was impossible for anyone to read all of the works in all of the categories and vote knowledgeably, and
      – allowed people to nominate and vote as many times as they wanted, as long as they used a different e-mail address each time.

      No promotion was being done by DragonCon on its own website, its social media accounts, its publications, or its communications to members. No administrators were announced, and it became apparent that the award was being run by a person or persons who had gone to the DragonCon board and offered to run an award in their name. The first year’s finalists were mostly works written by Puppies or authors they admired, including a lot of little-known self-published works, and an analysis revealed that most of them, including the winners, were little-read or reviewed on Amazon, GoodReads, and LibraryThing, which indicated that the awards had either been massively freeped by the Puppies and their successors (who Camestros has dubbed the Scrappies), or had been selected by admins who highly-favored the Puppies/Scrappies, and made a joke of the credibility of the awards. (Further hurting that credibility was that the winner of Horror Novel wasn’t a horror novel, but the self-published author had promoted his work in that category because he thought he stood a better chance of winning in a sparsely-populated category than in the Fantasy category.)

      2017 was somewhat a repeat of 2016 for the Dragon Awards, with a few genuinely-popular works seeded in with the unknown works, in an apparent bid to give the award some more credibility. (A couple of the biggest authors asked for their works to be removed on the ballot, in disgust at being used to give the award the appearance of legitimacy.) However, it seemed clear that the nominations had been freeped again, this time both by the Puppies/Scrappies and by a group of indie writers through Inkshares. The winners were mostly works that were either widely-popular or at least reasonably popular. In 2018, Chris Kennedy’s self-publishing collective and the LMNPB / 20BooksTo50K self-publishing collective had very obviously managed to freep the nominees, with a selection of genuinely-popular works added in. The winners were for the most part genuinely-popular.

      This year, the nominees seemed to reflect a more reasonable set of widely-popular works, with each novel category having one or two of the little-known, little-read works by Puppies, Scrappies, and indie publishers; the winners, however, represented a step back in credibility for the award.

      In short, the Dragon Awards in their 4-year history have mainly been a little reward system for Puppies and other small special interest groups which have had the time and determination to ensure that a bunch of nominations and votes are submitted for their chosen works — rather than an award which recognizes widely-popular works, which it has repeatedly claimed to be.

      How many nominations and votes have been received is unknown, and how those numbers correlated with unique individuals is also unknown.

      Liked by 2 people

    7. Brandon: 3) Is there anything wrong with Baen?

      Not inherently, no.

      Baen is a publisher who is very popular with the Puppies, and many of the Puppies have had books published by Baen. The “Baen’s Bar” user forum was an early site of a lot of the invective against Worldcon members and the Hugo Awards, especially at the start of the Puppy campaigns. Baen Publisher/Editor Toni Weisskopf published a piece which essentially said that anyone who wasn’t one of them (Baenites/Puppies), and did not share the same reading tastes as them, was not really a fan. This did not endear her to a wide range of fans who do not share her worldview but nevertheless consider themselves fans..

      Now, I read several books published by Baen every year, and they have a number of authors whose works I really enjoy, including Lois McMaster Bujold, P.C. Hodgell, Catherine Asaro, Tim Powers, Elizabeth Moon, Melissa Scott, and even David Weber before his Honor Harrington series went completely off the rails. But Baen is widely-known for the poor copyediting of their books, which are rife with spelling and grammar errors, and their appallingly-bad covers. (Bujold is known to crowdsource editing from fans, because her books don’t get edited by her publisher.) So the overall quality of the books that Baen puts out is wide open to critcism. (Do not even get me started on the abominations by Puppy authors which Weisskopf published at the beginning and ending of classic Heinlein novels.)

      The Puppies demanded that Toni Weisskopf be given a Hugo for Best Editor — but since she was not willing to provide a list of the works she edited which had been published during the year, Hugo voters had nothing on which to judge her eligible work, and she was No Awarded. So naturally Weisskopf and the Puppies have a grudge against Hugo voters for that.

      But the reality is that I and a lot of other non-Puppies continue to buy and read Baen books (though I get mine from the library).

      Liked by 1 person

    8. Hi Brandon!

      The others have already answered the questions about Puppies and Baen better than I could, so I’ll skip that and instead go to the question of “What is wrong with the Dragon Awards?”. Because I think it should have been worded a bit differently?

      There’s nothing inherently wrong with the Dragon Awards by itself. I think there’s basically three problems, that shouldn’t be that hard to solve.

      a) The marketing of the award does not match how it works. The main problem is that it is marketed as a pure popularity award when it isn’t. Because the rules, copied from sweepstakes lottery, makes it possible for admin to remove any votes they want. Note: I do not see this as a problem for an award by itself, as an award that you only need an email-address to vote on is bound to get griefers who wants to vote for “Fantasy McFantasy Book” and the admins need to be able to remove those votes.

      This is easy to fix. Instead, market the nomination as a way to crowdsource for finalists with the admins/jury then making sure that the resulting finalists are up to the test. Easy fix and totally acceptable for an award.

      b) The other problem is basically that DragonCon looses interest for the award between award ceremonies. There is no real marketing. There is no twitter feed, there is no reach out to other conventions to source for nominators. They could even have limited it to the members of DragonCon and sent out an email to all members of current and last DragonCon, telling them it was time to register and nominate. They could even make automatic registration for all those members. I.e, try to get a real and diverse set of nominators into the work instead of having a few authors mobilizing their fan groups.

      c) Last is a eligibility period and with that, time to read nominees. With the eligibility period being in the middle of a year, it leaves very little time to actually read the nominees. This means most people do not have to time to actually compare them to each other. And I think people should have that time.

      I hope this gave you something to think about.

      Like

  13. @Camestros

    Too long to get into any details! Essentially: at first Correia just wanted a Hugo award, and organized his buddies to get him one. That didn’t work. Then the scheme broadened into getting Hugo awards for all their buddies, then it became very politicized. They lost, they ran away, the end.

    To be accurate, Larry’s nomination for the John W. Campbell award wasn’t the result of an organized effort. The reactions to his nomination that he encountered online suggested to him that he probably wasn’t going to win. Those reactions were to his other line of work (legal gun sales specifically, being conservative generally) that had nothing to do with the quality of his writing.

    That experience certainly motivated him to game the Hugo system later on, but it wasn’t the result of an organized campaign.

    Regards,
    Dann
    The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom. – Isaac Asimov

    Like

    1. // Larry’s nomination for the John W. Campbell award wasn’t the result of an organized effort.//

      Sort of…it wasn’t the result of a slate or anything but he had asked people to vote for him, which is fine and it wasn’t pitched as a culture-war style campaign etc. [A minor quibble]

      // Those reactions were to his other line of work (legal gun sales specifically, being conservative generally) that had nothing to do with the quality of his writing.//

      The volume of such reactions really does seem to be something exaggerated by Correia though. He portrays it as a massive counter-campaign. One of the key anti-Correia comments he frequently cites is wholly untraceable and to be honest I’m certain now he just made it up (the one about a review who said that if he wins it would destroy sf or words to that effect). The ‘real author’ thing appears to be a drive-by troll.

      He’s a history of elevating minor digs by random internet people into paradigms of collective hate against him and sometimes either fabricating such digs or citing that somebody told him that a nameless somebody said something.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. So, it’s always interesting to compare what Larry said *at the time* rather than what he said was true about a year later.
      For example, Larry claimed he had a good time at WorldCon at the time, but a year later claimed he was snubbed.
      Relevant to Dann’s claims: at the time of his Campbell (now Astounding!) finalist spot, he said some snobby literati had complained about his nomination, and a year later he was claiming that SJW’s had lost their minds over him being conservative, pro-gun, etc.
      It’s almost like when Larry decided to launch his first SP campaign, he upgraded all his old complaints to provide him with retroactive justification.
      In fact, the vast majority of bad reactions to Larry’s actions came *after* he’d started running his mouth off.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m sure there were some people disliking Monster Hunter but I don’t think it was even high profile enough to get significant negative press. However, history seems to be whatever Larry can make it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Does anybody know if there was any discussion of Larry’s eligibility for the Campbell? I know that the Baen version of MHI was 2009 but his self-published version was 2007 and apparently he sold a lot of copies. Would that not have put him over the income threshold or do I not understand the Astounding/Campbell rules?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’m not aware of any, no. I’m not sure the rules dealt with self pub works properly back then anyway, e.g. the SFWA rules making self pub authors eligible only date to 2015.

        Like

    3. No one has ever accused LC’s Campbell nomination of being illegitimate or part of the Puppies campaign as it happened before all that. And he didn’t lose the Campbell because he owns a gun shop or has conservative views that others criticized. He lost the Campbell because he was up against Lev Grossman for The Magicians.

      Lev Grossman is a massively well known critic and journalist, including being a book reviewer for the New York Times and lead technology writer for Time Magazine for a long time. He was also deeply involved with SFF category media and well known to SFF fandom and WorldCon. He already had one bestselling novel, Codex, a thriller that was non-SFF but which many fans had read. And finally, The Magicians, his third novel but first SFF one, was a massive international bestseller that had already been optioned for t.v.

      The most popular, biggest author doesn’t necessarily win the Campbell (now Astounding) for Best New Writer, doesn’t even necessarily go to a novelist, since WorldCon attendees like to boost new, up-coming talent with the award. But in this case, Grossman’s work was seen as really good by a wide range of fans, that he tackled the myths created by Lewis’ Narnia was seen as impressively done and his name was well-known to a lot of WorldCon folk. Nobody was going to beat him. Saladin Ahmed, also known to fans, and hated by the Puppies as a supposed prime SJW cabal member they don’t think should be around, lost to Grossman. Lauren Beukes, whose futuristic fantasy Zoo City starring a black woman had been a huge hit, and also is SJW and a woman, did not win against Grossman. There was no rewarding of liberal politics in giving Grossman the award. His book simply made a huge impact and was widely read.

      Larry Correia got the honor of a nomination for this award, something that only a tiny group of authors ever get. He was welcomed in and celebrated in SFF and WorldCon as a Campbell nominee. And he attacked people because he didn’t like them being liberals and/or critical of his far right political views about their lives. He brought in Beale/Day and went along with Beale’s far right campaign, attacking people. He helped call people hacks, cheats, tokens, and that what they wrote about was disgusting because it had queer characters or civil rights material. And then apparently was surprised when they didn’t go along with those characterizations. He let other people in the Puppies use slurs and harassment under the banner of defending his “honor.” One of the Puppies — a Hugo Puppy nominee no less — tried to swat David Gerrold, an icon of SF and a gay man, and the entire Hugo awards banquet.

      So yeah, Correia got a Campbell nomination. And then he spit on it. Same with Brat T. Which is why the uproar over Dell Magazines changing the name of the award from that contingent is ironically silly. They cared nothing about the Campbell or the Hugos except as prizes. They brought in Gamergaters to vote, despite knowing that violence had been a major aspect of that movement, including bomb threats.

      Throughout the whole saga, the refrain was, let them go off and make their own awards if they really hate the Hugos that much. And so they did — the Dragons, which nobody had a problem with. But we have been watching what they do with it, after they rewarded themselves with them the first year. Especially after it was decided to make the whole process mysterious and unmarketed, while claiming it reflected DragonCon and fans in general. How much influence the Puppies do or do not have with the Dragons currently is going to be a topic of curiosity and discussion because they wanted and demanded influence over the Hugos and claimed the Dragons as their own. And because the rules of the Dragon Awards say that it’s the admins who decide who wins, not the votes — not something that usually happens with awards.

      For me, it’s an interesting look at demographics in the field and at group dynamics. The Dragons are a microcosm of what’s happening across creative fields in our modern times and in larger societies.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, this – Larry not winning the Astounding (ex Campbell) isn’t any sort of scandal. Firstly, it’s a bit of a crap shoot anyway depending on exactly what you’ve got published at that point of your career, and secondly by any measure either taken at the time or now, Grossman was a worthy winner – bestselling trilogy, TV adaption, etc etc.

        In fact, I’d say Larry not winning isn’t even a particularly big “huh they missed that” in Astounding Award history. Some authors who didn’t win in recent times that are now big names might include Brandon Sanderson (lost to Scalzi and Novik), Scott Lynch (lost to Novik and then Kowal), Gail Carriger lost to Seanan McGuire (so a prolific author lost to an even more prolific author!), and so on.

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    4. The way I recall it the reaction to Larry Correia’s Campbell nomination at the time was “Who on Earth is this guy?” (Correia was a new Baen author and Baen books are notoriously difficult to procure outside the US), followed by “How on Earth did that get nominated, cause that’s so NOT what Hugo nominators normally go for?” At the time, I didn’t hear any comments about Correia having a gun shop or being a conservative, simply because no one outside his fanbase knew who he was. If you’d googled him, those points may have come up, but at the time I at least never found anything linking Correia to guns, but then I didn’t look very closely.

      Coincidentally, reactions to the Campbell nomination for Dan Wells were very similar to those to Larry Correia’s Campbell nomination. “Who is this guy and how did that get nominated, cause it’s not what Hugo voters normally go for?” WorldCon was in Reno, Nevada, that year and both Larry Correia and Dan Wells hail from roughly that part of the US, so I thought they were probably popular local authors, which explained the nomination.

      And this is the extent to which I thought about Larry Correia and Dan Wells’ Campbell nominations at all. I would have been very surprised if either of them had won, especially since they were up against extremely strong competition with Lev Grossman, Lauren Beukes and Saladin Ahmed. In the end, Grossman won, which was pretty obvious due to the popularity of The Magicians and the enormous publisher push it received. Though personally, I would have preferred Lauren Beukes. However, I wasn’t a Hugo voter at the time.

      It’s only when I looked for winner and finalist reactions afterwards that I came across that post by Correia, in which he explained what a great time he had at WorldCon (later revised) and made (mild by his standards) negative remarks about Lev Grossman and The Magicians that made me mentally file Correia under “sore loser”. At around the same time, I also came across a guest post/article by Correia in which he complained that zombie fiction was unrealistic, because no one ever had enough guns and that to someone who is prepared a zombie apocalypse would just be a “target rich environment”. That comment seriously squicked me out and this is also the first time I specifically associated Larry Correia was an excessive interest in guns.

      Then I completely forgot about him again until he started his first Sad Puppies campaign next year and made some pretty ungracious remarks about several Hugo finalists.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, the Best Novel Hugo is always filled with bestsellers and category leaders for nominations. But the short fiction awards and the Campbell would often have authors who were less well known but who had captured some groups of fans’ attention. And often that has been regional/local attention based on where the WorldCon is held that year, balanced out by non-attending voters who’d paid the fee or attended the year before.

        But if an author is widely known, especially internationally known, it does have an impact. More attendees will have heard of the person, have already read the person’s work or have meant to check out the person’s work. That’s not a cabal; it’s just reader awareness among Hugo voters.

        LC’s getting a Campbell nom introduced his work to a lot of fans. His climbing sales introduced him to many other fans. He could have built on that; it might very well have led to a Hugo nom on its own. Instead, he told the WorldCon members that they had screwed him (even though WorldCon membership changes in large part each year,) that they were lying conspirators who were horribly mean to him — and so should vote for him. It didn’t make a great deal of sense as criticism or plea.

        But mostly what happened is that LC thought it would be cool and piss people off if he put Beale on his slate, and then Beale took over and ran it as a hate campaign, pushing his own stuff, and LC had no easy way to back out of it, nor much concern for those that campaign pursued and he accused of malfeasance. He tried to back out of it partway once he got his Hugo nomination. But now when media talks about the collection of rolling hate movements born of the alt right that attack and harass women in the name of supposedly beleagured straight white men — Gamergate, Sad Puppies, Comicsgate, etc. — he’s part of the history. He’s the “leader” of the book part of Gamergate’s creative fandom reactionary campaigns. And for right now, that’s the rep that’s maybe going to be more known to more people than his having Campbell and Hugo noms and Dragon Awards.

        Liked by 2 people

    5. dann665: Larry’s nomination for the John W. Campbell award wasn’t the result of an organized effort.

      Actually, it was.

      I realized a few years ago, when the Puppies were in full swing, that there was a lot of bullet nominating going on in 2011-2012 in the Hugos and Nebulas by a group of Mormon supporters, and that’s how a bunch of then-unknowns including Correia, Torgersen, and Wells got nominated for the Campbell and how we ended up with the abomination of the Mormon Space Whale Rape Story (which is pretty universally acclaimed as an absolute piece of shit) as a Nebula winner (SFWA had a lot of Mormon members at that time) and Hugo finalist in 2011. (items below are based on personal knowledge and searches; as far as I can tell, these nominees are Mormon, but there may be people who aren’t, and I may have missed some of those who are.)

      2011:
      Novel longlist: Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld (also a Nebula Andre Norton finalist)
      Novelette finalist: That Leviathan Whom Thou Hast Made by Eric James Stone (also a Nebula winner)
      Novelette longlist: The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn by Diana Peterfreund
      Related Work finalist: Writing Excuses Season 4 by Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, Jordan Sanderson
      Graphic Story finalist: Schlock Mercenary: Massively Parallel, written and illustrated by Howard Tayler; colors by Howard Tayler and Travis Walton
      Graphic Story longlist: Schlock Mercenary: Mad Scientists Residence by Howard Tayler

      Campbell finalist: Dan Wells
      Campbell finalist: Larry Correia
      Campbell longlist: Brad R. Torgersen

      2012:
      Novelette finalist: “Ray of Light” by Brad R. Torgersen (also a Nebula finalist)
      Short Story finalist: “Movement” by Nancy Fulda (also a Nebula finalist)
      Short Story finalist: “Unlimited Delta” by Robin Walton
      Related Work finalist: Writing Excuses, Season 6, Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Jordan Sanderson
      Graphic Story finalist: Schlock Mercenary: Force Multiplication written and illustrated by Howard Tayler, colors by Travis Walton
      Fancast longlist: Writing Excuses
      Campbell finalist: Brad R. Torgersen
      Campbell longlist: Shauna Roberts

      I’m sure this didn’t go unnoticed at the time, but I haven’t bothered looking to see if I could find some commentary on it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Do you think writing excuses may have been a big part of getting Sanderson, Wells and Tayler higher profiles? It seems likely that a lot of their listeners would be SFWA members given the content of that podcast/the writning retreats they do.

        I’m pretty sure those guys would have gotten extra votes from Mormons, but then again a writer from Texas would probably get more Texans voitng for them etc so I’m not sure if its campaign or just natural consequence.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It may have, since Sanderson and Tayler had already started making a name for themselves at that point. But Stone, Correia, Torgersen, Walton, Peterfreund, Fulda, Walton, and Roberts were all unknowns at that point, and as Cora said, pretty much came out of nowhere.

        Once I realized what had happened, the 2011-2012 results — and the fact that most of their careers have fizzled since then — made a lot more sense to me. Before that, I was one of the people thinking, “who are these authors, and why are they getting on the ballot for this???”

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yeah, I think there’s an obvious difference between Tayler and Sanderson and the rest. For reference:

        Schlock Mercenary made its first appearance on the Hugo shortlist in 2009, the first year of the Graphic Story category. I first heard about it in college (2005-2009).

        Sanderson’s big publicity bump was getting named to finish the Wheel of Time, announced in 2007 (The Gathering Storm came out in October 2009). His first appearance on the Hugo longlist is in 2009.

        As JJ said, the others were (and in many cases still are) mostly obscure outside of certain circles in 2011. Eric James Stone had a couple of short stories on the 2009 Hugo longlist but I’m not sure that says much other than that the 2009 longlist was really long.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Brandon Sanderson was already a fairly well-known, rising author by the time he was officially announced to finish Jordan’s series and he became a best-selling author on his books. That’s one of the reasons he was picked to finish Wheel of Time. Mistborn in 2006 had a big impact and that’s how he got known to a wide set of fantasy fans. By the time his first WOT work came out, he already had three books in the Mistborn series and it was a category leader/charting bestseller, plus he had an illustrated children’s series starting in 2007 that did very well and a YA novel.

        There is, I think, a fairly large network of Southwest U.S. SFF writers who know each other well and do projects together sometimes, which includes a number of the Mormon SFF writers, and the 2011 WorldCon was in Reno, Nevada, so that may well have been a regional push thing more than a Mormon thing. The Mormon authors do talk to each other, enough that people like to rumor of a “Mormon mafia” in SFF and at times in YA, but they really don’t have that kind of impact. The reality is that a lot of authors who are religious — Catholic, Jewish, Mormon and the Hindu SF writers in India — have been into writing SFF. I wouldn’t venture to say that SFF has a higher percentage of religious authors than other areas of fiction — it also has a lot of atheists — but the fields definitely have always had that as a common occurrence.

        Correia’s series got a fair amount of attention in the U.S. in the second wave of the contemporary fantasy expansion (it was talked about as a comic contemporary fantasy series,) and he was two books into it by the time he was up for the Campbell. I’m not sure when his series hit the bestseller charts but it was probably on its way towards there at the time. And again the 2011 convention was held in the U.S., which also helped out Grossman. So he wasn’t really coming out of nowhere.

        Dan Wells’ I Am Not a Serial Killer was heavily promoted by Tor and published internationally by them, where it was sometimes sold as YA and sometimes sold in adult horror or both, depending on the country. It got a lot of buzz, in mystery and horror and probably less in fantasy, and was optioned for a movie that was eventually developed and put out in 2016. Part of that buzz was probably in part because people and media compared it to the Dexter series, which had its hit t.v. adaptation going at the time. His being with Sanderson on their Writing Excuses podcast may have also gotten his name around. So he didn’t really come out of left field either — he had a very successful first novel that certainly drew the horror vote.

        The space whale rape story, I can’t tell you anything on that. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

      5. I do recall a lot of complaining about “That Leviathan Whom Thou Hast Made” at the time, so much that I got curious and read it, even though I was neither a Hugo nor a Nebula voter at the time. I don’t recall as much complaining about the others.

        And Writing Excuses was nominated all the time for a couple of years and won at least once. I recall no awarding it, because I felt it was misclassified, when I started voting for the Hugos just before the puppy debacle started. Schlock Mercenary also got a lot of nominations in the then brand new graphic story category, which always surprised me, because it didn’t do anything for me.

        Besides, Eric James Stone and Brad Torgersen were commenting on SFF related blogs all the time back then, so their names were familiar quantities. Nancy Fulda was an up and coming writer and the mastermind behind a “Create your own anthology” project which got a lot of buzz at the time. Besides, her Hugo nominated story was actually pretty good, which is more than you can say for most others. Diana Peterfreund was better known among paranormal romance/urban fantasy readers than among mainstream SFF readers and I recall being surprised at finding her name on the Hugo longlist, because what she wrote at the time was so not what Hugo voters normally liked.

        By comparison, Larry Correia really came out of nowhere and I’d literally never heard of him before his Campbell nomination, even though I was a big urban fantasy reader. He certainly wasn’t active in any part of the online SFF community I visited at the time. Dan Wells was mostly “that guy who writes a lot of tie-ins and is on that podcast”. Brandon Sanderson was “writer of the kind of big fat fantasy I don’t read”.

        I do remember that there were certain themes and styles which cropped up several times among the Hugo and Nebula finalists of 2010/11/12 such as dead children, humans on other planets/outer space/under the sea longing for Earth and religious themes. It certainly makes sense that several of these writers belong to the same religious group.

        I also remember that there was a lot of complaining about the Hugo and Nebula finalists in the years just before the puppies took off, though the complaints came from left-leaning critics, most of them male and many of them British, who felt that the Hugo and Nebula finalists were too stale and old-fashioned. As a result, I at least was too busy looking to the left to see the real danger gathering on the right. Interestingly, those left-leaning critics are mostly gone eight years later – the Sharkes were something of the last hurray of that style of criticism. Meanwhile, the puppies are still with us.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Greg Hullender: You don’t get to tell me what pronouns I can use.

    Congratulations on achieving The Failure Mode of Clever, mocking and trivializing people who choose to use non-binary pronouns.

     
    Greg Hullender: I didn’t read past that point.

    Sticking your fingers in your ears and singing “LA LA LA LA” doesn’t make you look less irrational.

    Like

    1. Back in the saddle.

      My primary point was only that Larry didn’t come upon the Campbell Award randomly and decide to get one by any method possible. I’ve yet to see any verifiable/credible proof of slating in that nomination.

      I wouldn’t count the development of a corps of Utah based SF/F writers as being the equivalent of slating without something more substantive than “they all knew each other”. To take politics out of it, if the good and diverse people in the Grimdark Readers & Writers group on Facebook ever decided to participate in a non-slating manner (i.e. nominate things they read and think are good), then I have do doubt that it would change the character of the finalists by one or two.

      I point out that they can nominate things for the Hugos (that people have read/experienced, natch) every January. A little more grimdark would brighten up the Hugos, IMO.

      The sentiment that a nominee “isn’t usual for the Hugos” is intrinsically problematic. It reinforces the perception of a narrow range of “acceptable” works in a genre that has a very broad range of expression. Perhaps what Larry experienced was more of a “where did THAT nomination come from” that he morphed into “if he wins it’ll be the end of blah blah blah”. That sort of exaggeration isn’t helpful. But neither is the idea that an author/work that is unknown to last year’s Hugo voters isn’t worthy of attention from next year’s voters.

      Losing to other, better, authors is one thing. Being told that you didn’t belong among the finalists in the first place is another critter.

      FWIW, it looks like Lauren Beukes also had published works outside of 2-year window prior to her nomination. I’d have to dig deeper to find out the sale/circulation numbers. And that’s kind of pointless at this point. The committee thought she and Larry were eligible based on the information they had at the time. That should resolve that issue.

      http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/ea.cgi?112495

      Regards,
      Dann
      The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. – Dorothy Parker

      Like

      1. “Losing to other, better, authors is one thing. Being told that you didn’t belong among the finalists in the first place is another critter.”

        Do you – or Larry – have any significant evidence of that actually happening? As opposed to Larry making stuff up after the fact and you swallowing it because it’s a convenient narrative?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. dann665: FWIW, it looks like Lauren Beukes also had published works outside of 2-year window prior to her nomination. I’d have to dig deeper to find out the sale/circulation numbers. And that’s kind of pointless at this point. The committee thought she and Larry were eligible based on the information they had at the time. That should resolve that issue.

        That issue was already addressed and resolved by Mark here. Works are only Campbell-eligible if they are SFWA-eligible, and at that time, self-published works were not eligible for SFWA qualification.

         
        dann665: I’ve yet to see any verifiable/credible proof of slating in [Correia’s Campbell] nomination.

        And no one has made that claim, as you are well aware. I pointed out that there was clearly some organized support and bullet-nominating for a group of Mormon writers back in 2010 and 2011. That isn’t the same as slating. But you can’t really call his nomination an organic one, either.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Why on Earth is it problematic to look at an unusual Hugo or Campbell/Astounding finalist (any unusual Hugo finalist) and wonder, “Huh, how did that get nominated? Cause that’s totally not what Hugo voters normally go for”? I consider myself pretty plugged into the SFF sphere, so if an author, book or story I’ve never heard of pops up on the Hugo ballot, I take notice, if only because this unexpected finalist might be a good book, story or author I totally missed.

        Also, “This is not what normally gets nominated for the Hugos” does not mean “This finalist is unworthy.” In fact, the vast majority of unexpected finalists are far from unworthy. Nor does it mean “This person cheated”, because in the overwhelming majority of cases, it turns out that the unexpected finalist is either a local author or someone who is well known in the community for other reasons, e.g. due to being a popular filker.

        Furthermore, I have never seen anybody say that Larry Correia did not belong among the other Campbell finalists. I have seen quite a few “Who on Earth is this?” or “How did this get nominated?” reactions as well as a small handful of reactions by Hugo voters who tried to read Monster Hunter Whatever and came away disappointed, because the book was not their thing. Again, this is perfectly normal. There are always Hugo finalists I just don’t care for and I usually no award at least one finalist every year, usually more than one, because I personally don’t find the work in question Hugo-worthy. I would never dream of saying “I didn’t care for your book” into the face of the author (and indeed, I found myself having a pleasant chat at the Hugo reception with authors whose books I didn’t care for), but some people are pretty rude in that regard. But you know what? Not every book is for everybody and as an author, you will always come across people who don’t like your books and some of them will not be shy about letting you know.

        What I suspect happened at the Reno WorldCon is that Larry Correia waltzed in and expected to be feted as a Campbell finalist and important author. But instead the reaction he got was, “Oh, you’re a Campbell finalist. That’s nice. Excuse me, who are you again?” And considering how thin-skinned, insecure and in need of external validation Larry Correia is, he likely interpreted reactions along the lines of “I have no idea who you are” as rejection and then invented reasons why he wasn’t given the deference he felt was his due.

        Also note that my reaction (and I presume that of many other people) to Dan Wells’ Campbell nomination was the same as to Correia’s. “Who is this guy and how did he get nominated?” Note that Dan Wells never behaved like a raging jerk, so no one has any negative associations with his name.

        Like

      4. @Cora Buhlert

        Thanks for your patience.

        The words “Huh, how did that get nominated?” can be presented with a couple of different intents. One is “hey, something I’m not familiar with – hope this is interesting”. Another is “that doesn’t belong here”. [I’m not presuming your intent, FWIW.]

        Given the number of recent discussions about repeat nominees, I’d say that the genre could use a whole lot more moments in the first category. I’ll stick with what I’ve said in the past. The genre is huge. No one person can possibly know everything that is being produced.

        I would amplify that by suggesting that the trend of having so many repeat nominees over the last few years means that the experiences of the pool of Hugo nominators do not represent the broader range of fandom. The resulting range of nominees similarly limited by the reduced range of experiences among the pool of nominators.

        Again, take the puppy/SMOF divide out of the equation. If the grimdark community (or some other sub-genre community) were to take a sudden interest in participating, would their participation be welcome, or would they be met with “that doesn’t belong here”? What if Mark Lawrence’s fan base gets involved? He’s got 3 self-published works this year…plus 1 trad published.

        I know Larry was revisionist about his time at Worldcon. All I’m suggesting is that he ran into some “that doesn’t belong here” sentiment pre-Worldcon. Was it enough to sink his nomination? My guess…nope.

        However, given that the then-nascent undercurrent of identity politics has burgeoned into a casual cancel culture, I don’t doubt that he had such an experience.

        Regards,
        Dann
        My 2019 Hugo Novel Voting – in process

        Like

      5. @Dann —

        @Cora Buhlert

        “I would amplify that by suggesting that the trend of having so many repeat nominees over the last few years means that the experiences of the pool of Hugo nominators do not represent the broader range of fandom.”

        Of course it doesn’t. For one thing, Hugo nominators tend to read a lot more than the “broader range of fandom” does.

        “What if Mark Lawrence’s fan base gets involved? He’s got 3 self-published works this year…plus 1 trad published.”

        It’s a bad idea to assume that “grimdark fans”/”Mark Lawrence fans” is mutually exclusive with “Hugo nominators”. I’m a huge Lawrence fan myself — have been since Prince of Thorns. I wouldn’t have had any problem at all with seeing either Prince of Thorns or Prince of Fools on the nomination shortlist. (I’m not quite so fond of his current trilogy. Started Holy Sister, but put it down a few weeks ago — will go back to it eventually. Haven’t tried the self-pub books yet.)

        Like

      6. @Dann @Contrarius

        Hugo nominators tend to read a lot more than the “broader range of fandom” does.

        That is true in my case. Since I started hanging out at File 770, and nominating and voting, I have been reading more widely than I ever have before. I’m taking chances on things I would have overlooked or ignored previously. For example, I’d never paid any attention to graphic novels, and now they take up half a shelf of one of my large bookcases and my TBR pile is a foot high. I’ve bought some clunkers, of course (including at least one brand-new hardback I donated to the library because I hated it so much I couldn’t finish it), but for the most part it has been an exciting journey of discovery, searching for things I can recommend to others and possibly vote for a Hugo. I’m very fortunate, and privileged, that I can afford to target so much of my discretionary spending towards books (and Worldcons), but I thoroughly enjoy every minute of it.

        Like

      7. Re: reading widely

        I believe y’all. You read widely. I read widely. I read more widely now (gladly so) courtesy of knowing y’all. Thanks.

        Collectively, “we” four are not a majority of nominators. We might be enough to nudge a seventh-place work onto the shortlist if we knew what that work was ahead of time. (not advocating such a thing, just pointing out a statistically weak group)

        Relative to the larger pool of nominators, the _results_ over the most recent years makes me skeptical about this supposed broad range of reading. It could be….

        An outsized input from “influencers”/professional reviewers. If Locus/Kirkus/etc. doesn’t review a book, will it still get enough buzz to make it?
        The larger pool of nominators doesn’t read as widely as we four do.
        Logrolling (or other low key campaigning)…perhaps?

        If everyone in the pool of nominators were so widely read, would we really have so many serial/repeat nominees? The problem only gets worse when considering categories with lower levels of nomination participation. [I love Paper Girls…but is it going to be on every shortlist from here on out? I thoroughly under-whelmed by Saga…same problem there.]

        While I enjoyed the first book of the Broken Earth series a great deal, I didn’t bother reading either of the next two installments when they were published. I knew before they were published that they would both be finalists that I would be reading before preparing my ballot anyway.

        Re: Grimdark

        It was just an example. Change it to magical regency novels and the same thing applies. What happens when a couple hundred people from a sub-genre manage to get something on the shortlist even though it had not pierced the consciousnesses of the other ~1400-1500 nominators?

        I think NK Jemisin’s series had some pretty grimdark elements. So I know there are other grimdark fans in the nomination pool.

        The entire Book of the Ancestor series was really great for me. I read them all this year. They are overlooked gems.

        Regards,
        Dann
        “Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible. I think it’s in my basement… let me go upstairs and check.” – M. C. Escher

        Like

      8. //If everyone in the pool of nominators were so widely read, would we really have so many serial/repeat nominees?//

        Pretty much, yes – that’s exactly what would happen. The more widely voters are reading the more narrow the overlap. If you and I are reading many and varied books then we are less likely to be reading the same books if the pool of books available is large.

        Like

      9. @Dann —

        “Collectively, “we” four are not a majority of nominators.”

        Phhhhhhht.

        I dare you to go run a poll on 770 asking how many books each commenter has read in the last year. I dare ya.

        I read around 100 books per year. Lots of Hugo voters read a lot more than I do.

        Puppies? Well, there’s one puppy with whom I’ve done a lot of debating, and at one point he **bragged** because he had read a whole 12 books that year. TWELVE.

        If I read 100 books, and he reads 12, guess which one of us has read most widely?

        “Relative to the larger pool of nominators, the _results_ over the most recent years makes me skeptical about this supposed broad range of reading.”

        That is only because you wish other books were getting awarded. The fact that your favorites aren’t winning does NOT mean that other voters aren’t reading them. It only means that the majority of voters are favoring something different than you are.

        “What happens when a couple hundred people from a sub-genre manage to get something on the shortlist even though it had not pierced the consciousnesses of the other ~1400-1500 nominators?”

        ? I don’t understand the problem here. If it gets on the shortlist, more people will read it.

        “I think NK Jemisin’s series had some pretty grimdark elements. So I know there are other grimdark fans in the nomination pool.”

        Jemisin’s books were grim and often dark, but they’re not what I personally think of as grimdark — which has a lot to do with swords and sorcery in addition to cynicism and violence. But there really is no firm definition for grimdark, so whatever floats yer boat in that regard.

        “The entire Book of the Ancestor series was really great for me. I read them all this year. They are overlooked gems.

        Ehhh. I’m not nearly as much of a fan of this as of his previous trilogies, but that doesn’t mean I think it’s bad either. The first two are much more up my alley, though.

        Like

      10. You’re making the classic mistake here, Dann, of focusing on just one Hugo Award — Best Novel. The Best Novel Award is certainly the biggest Hugo Award, but it’s not the heart of the Hugo Awards — the short fiction categories are. The Best Novel Award nominees are always filled with bestseller novels, much buzzed about in fandom already. That award is the closest to a commercial popularity contest of any of the writing awards and tends to get the most, widest array of votes from convention attendees and associate members. None of the nominees for Best Novel are dependent on reviews from places like Locus. And Kirkus is a review service for bookstores and librarians — vendors — that most general fans of SFF have never heard of.

        If you look at the nominees in the past whole history of the Best Novel Award, not just in “recent years,” you’ll see that many authors have gotten repeated nominations for Best Novel over years, because they were well known and their books got a lot of buzz, and not just from reviews. The shorter fiction awards get fewer votes because fewer fans read short fiction, read magazines and anthologies and collections as opposed to novels. But the fans who go to WorldCon and the sub-set who then vote in the Hugos are mostly dedicated, core fans who tend to read a lot of SFF, including short SFF. And a lot of them see it as an important duty to read short fiction and nominate/award emerging authors. You will see repeat names in the short fiction categories too — and there were repeated names in the past years of the Hugos’ history — and big names, being best known, will also regularly show up there, but you will also see a lot of new, not that well known names who’ve managed to get into a major magazine or anthology. That continues to be an important part of the Hugos for WorldCon, a convention that is dedicated to written works first and related works and media second.

        Grimdark is simply a descendant of Weird Fiction horror, dark fantasy and epic battle fantasy. Hugo readers were entirely familiar with all the trimmings of grimdark long before that label got slapped on a bunch of books. They also know historical Regency and Victorian fantasy. Steampunk was a movement that developed in the 1980’s, decades ago. People have been doing fantasies with versions of Sherlock Holmes, for instance, since the 1960’s at least. There is no sub-genre of SFF that they don’t know or have a problem with, including military SF. But in any given year, what’s going to be big in the world of books or what is going to get buzz in the smaller realm of short fiction, is not a given. The absence or presence of a sub-genre on the list on any particular year doesn’t mean a slanting.

        Obviously, there was an opportunity under the old set-up for a small group to use voting slates to get particular works a nomination slot. That’s what the Puppies did. But winning the award was a much harder task as those who are going to vote for the Hugos do tend to be very dedicated to trying to look at all the nominees in the categories they vote on. And new rules then made it harder for slate voting to affect nominations. Plus it’s highly difficult to keep a group of voters paying and voting together for any length of time. The main point of the Hugos is not to be a signal of what’s hot in SFF, or a straight popularity contest, or a clique for friends. It’s what the disparate but dedicated fan members of WorldCon want to celebrate, which is sometimes very big names and other times not so big names.

        In 2008, they celebrated by giving Joe Abercrombie, Lord Grimdark, a nomination for the (former) Campbell Award for The Blade Itself. Four of the novels by the British author have also gotten Best Novel nominations from the British Fantasy Society. Adrian Tchaikovsky won the British Fantasy Society Best Novel award, as well as a Clarke for his science fiction, etc. And George R.R. Martin, a key ancestor of grimdark, has gotten many nominations and won a few for books from his Song series.

        But the reality is that there will be many big name authors who don’t ever get a Hugo nomination, that the voting of the Hugos can be affected by where the WorldCon is held that year which changes the make-up of the attendees, that some magazines may be more widely read and end up with more nominations for their works than smaller magazines but that smaller magazines can still build up reps and get nominations.

        Like

      11. I agree that many, if not all, Hugo voters are widely read. However, as Cam said, if a lot of very widely read people nominate for the same award, the most overlap will be for the most popular works, which almost everybody had read, so they are likelier to end up on the ballot. And yes, being widely reviewed at the bigger sites and having a lot of buzz helps. For example, how much do you want to bet that Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir will be on the Hugo ballot next year, considering how much buzz the novel has had.?

        Another thing that leads to repeat finalists is that people are likely to read a sequel to a novel they enjoyed or another book by the same author over an unknown work by a new to them author, let alone an author whose previous work they disliked. Lots of people loved All Systems Red, so we had more Murderbot on the ballot this year (and would have had even more, if Martha Wells hadn’t withdrawn the other two Murderbot novellas which made the ballot). A lot of people love Seanan McGuire, so we keep seeing her on the Hugo ballot.

        And yes, repeat finalists can be frustarting, especially if you don’t particularly like the work in question. I’m not at all happy that best dramatic presentation short has evolved in a two way race between Doctor Who and The Good Place with Game of Thrones, The Expanse and the occasional music video getting a look in. At least, The Good Place will end after season 4, so we only have to endure it for two more years, but I don’t see Doctor Who ending anytime soon. And while I love Saga and keep nominating it, I probably wouldn’t even be reading Paper Girls, if it wasn’t on the Hugo shortlist every single year.

        However, if e.g. Mark Lawrence or Nalini Singh were to show up on the Hugo ballot, I would be surprised, because those authors are normally not what Hugo nominators are going for, but i wouldn’t think, “How the hll did that get nominated?”, because both are popular authors with big fan followings. Though I’m pretty sure that Mark Lawrence would rank very low on my ballot, considering how much I disliked the one book by him I tried years ago. Nalini Singh would probably rank higher depending on what else was on the ballot, though she is hit and miss for me.

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      12. What Kat said, too. Best novel is usually where the big bestsellers congregate, though we have seen newer names there in recent year, e.g. Ada Palmer was known as a filker, but Too Like the Lightning was her debut novel. Rebecca Roanhorse had won a Campbell Award on the basis of her short fiction, but Trail of Lightning was her debut novel. Ann Leckie and Yoon Ha Lee both had respectable short fiction careers before they hit the Best Novel ballot with their first novels, Ancillary Justice and Ninefox Gambit respectively. Liu Cixin is a superstar in China, but was a complete unknown in the West, when The Three Body Problem was nominated and won.Becky Chambers was nominated for a Hugo with her second novel and because the first was self-published, most nominators didn’t find it in time, when it would have been eligible.

        And in the short fiction categories, you do find repeat finalists, but also a lot of new names. This year, Alix E. Harrow, Simone Heller and P. Djèlí Clark were all newer writers who’d never been Hugo finalists before. Last year, Rebecca Roanhorse and Vina Jie-Min Prasad were new authors and first time finalists. Martha Wells had a lengthy career before Murderbot, but she’d never been a Hugo finalist before.

        Also, with short fiction, I’m more likely to read a new story by an author whose work I enjoyed before than a story by a new to me name, which is why repeat finalists happen.

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      13. It’s not whether it’s a debut or not; it’s sales combined with word of mouth buzz. Ada Palmer got a four book deal with Tor — that’s a massive deal and as such there was already buzz about the series before the first novel in it actually hit the stands. It did well and got wide media coverage, so a lot of Hugo/Campbell voters knew and had read the book and she thus edged out the other authors for the Campbell.

        Rebecca Roanhorse was known to Hugo voters for short fiction, which won her a Campbell, two Hugos, a Locus and a World Fantasy Award. Consequently, her debut novel was highly anticipated by core fan readers who formed an established fanbase that spread word of mouth. Consequently her publisher gambled on it as a lead slot title for its publication month and promoted it accordingly. Word of mouth progressed and sales climbed, so she was a category bestseller for the book by the time it got a Hugo nom.

        Ann Leckie was also known for short fiction to Hugo voters and was the editor of a SFF magazine. She also was secretary of SFWA before her debut, so a lot of fans who attend the big conventions regularly knew who she was. But more importantly her Ancillary Justice novel was already a category bestseller and climbing with Hollywood sniffing around by the time award nomination periods rolled around. Yoon Ha Le also known to Hugo voters on short fiction and Ninefox Gambit made a big splash — not as big as Ancillary Justice but enough to hit category bestseller range and the series continued to grow an audience and sales from word of mouth. Liu Cixin was in the weird spot of getting Kloos’ spot in the Puppy fiasco. He got nominated and won because word of mouth and subsequent category and non-category media coverage was huge in the months before the awards (and perhaps a bit because his translator, author Ken Liu, was also known to Hugo voters so they picked up on the novel.)

        Becky Chambers attracted huge attention because she had a very successful Kickstarter campaign to fund her first novel. So the first self-publishing did incredibly well as people picked it up and spread word of mouth. This meant it got picked up for reprint, wherein the publisher made it a lead title to try and expand the self-publishing audience. It was a climbing bestseller when up for a nomination, etc.

        So even when they are “debut” novelists, they’re big sellers with a lot of buzz in the fan audiences for the Best Novel Award (less so for the now Astounding/formerly Campbell Award,) and category media coverage and sometimes even wider coverage. And again, the Hugo readers’ penchant for looking for emerging, hot writers in short fiction who then build a fanbase that spreads word of mouth for their shift to novels has been a regular pattern of the awards that goes back decades.

        So the Hugo Best Novel Award is bestseller dominated, which is fairly logical. But there are a lot of bestselling novels — not everyone of them gets Best Novel Award nominations. It tends to be a combination of high awareness of the work, bestseller sales and high buzz about the actual story that lead to nominations.

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      14. Re: “the trend of having so many repeat nominees over the last few years”, I can only speak for myself here, but when I did an analysis of how often series appeared in novel award finalists/nominee lists, the proportion of serialized works, and in particular sequels, was much lower than I’d perceived. Breaking down the Hugo Best Novel finalists by decade, I get the following:

        1950s: 8% of finalists were sequels (or threequels, or N-quels, or prequels)

        1960s: 6% of finalists were sequels

        1970s: 10% of finalists were sequels

        1980s: 39% of finalists were sequels

        1990s: 35% of finalists were sequels

        2000s: 29% of finalists were sequels

        2010s: 35.5% of finalists were sequels

        This would indicate that the current level of repeat nominees isn’t a new phenomenon. (Not that I’d disagree with the idea that 30%-40% of finalist works being sequels might not be a desirable state of affairs.)

        NB: there are numerous caveats to the above stats:

        – Those stats are measuring series, rather than authors. With a bit of work, I could probably come up with some stats for the proportion of authors who appeared more than once in the finalist lists.

        – The stats are just looking at if the finalist was a sequel, not if that was the first time a book in that series was a finalist.

        – Standalone works set in an existing universe – e.g. Provenance – were not counted as sequels.

        Just for fun – and to try to be vaguely on topic for the original subject of this thread, but not wanting to ignite a Dragon vs Hugo war – here are similar stats for some of the Dragon Award categories:

        Best Alt. History: 38.5% were sequels

        Best Fantasy: 38% were sequels

        Best Mil SF/F: 58% were sequels

        Best SF: 46% were sequels

        At some point I should get off my fat backside, and turn these rough stats into a proper published analysis…

        Liked by 5 people

      15. John, very useful stats, thanks.

        I suspect the rise of sequels in the Hugos maps to the general rise of series in publishing.

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      16. I do not have statistics on this but I think that this is even more true in the novella category. Not that novellas in series is a new innovation by any means but it was really striking to me that half of this year’s novella ballot were direct sequels to other Tor.com novellas.

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      17. Yeah, tor.com seem to have found the secret sauce for novella series that people will follow and possibly significantly overpay for. Admittedly that secret sauce is “produce something people love, then do as many sequels as possible, but it all works.

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      18. @John S @Mark: A couple of years back, for the purposes of a discussion on File 770, I went through the recent ‘New Books’ weekly listings on Locus for a couple of months (until I had something like 120 titles, so the statistics weren’t terrible). Whatever biases this listing may have (e.g., clearly there are a lot of small presses they don’t cover), they are presumably consistent, and I would guess that they include a fair fraction of books that are likely to get a lot of attention in the SF community. Of the total, about 70% belonged to series. Spot-checking of the listings since then indicates that wasn’t an anomalous result. That fraction struck me as rather astonishingly high, but clearly the prevalence of serials is a publishing trend, not some peculiarity of Hugo voters.

        Liked by 3 people

      19. @PhilRM: I just ran an ad hoc – read: quite possibly wrong – query against the ISFDB database for novels with a 2018 copyright, and got the following results (apologies for any dodgy formatting):

        – Not in series: 2601 (36.8675%)

        – In a series, but no volume number listed: 283 (4.0113%)

        – In a series, volume 0 (not sure if this is just a slight variant on the previous): 15 (0.2126%)

        – In a series, volume 1: 1068 (15.1382%)

        – In a series, volume 2: 989 (14.0184%)

        – In a series, volume 3: 762 (10.8009%)

        – In a series, volume 4: 370 (5.2445%)

        – In a series, volume 5: 265 (3.7562%)

        – In a series, volume 6 or higher: 702 (9.9504%)

        That would seem to be reasonably close to your findings?

        Comparing years in prior decades:

        – 1958: 581 non-series vs 76 series novels

        – 1968: 688 non-series vs 208 series novels

        – 1978: 1208 non-series vs 258 series novels

        – 1988: 1195 non-series vs 674 series novels

        – 1998: 1282 non-series vs 1013 series novels

        – 2008: 2208 non-series vs 2092 series novels

        – 2018: 2601 non-series vs 4454 series novels

        Of course, any of those could be atypical relative to their surrounding years – but this is starting to turn into a proper data analysis project, and I have plenty of incomplete ones of those already awaiting my attention…

        Liked by 4 people

      20. @John S: That’s remarkably close agreement, considering how crude my estimate was in comparison to yours.

        The time sequence is also interesting: this would be better as a plot, but using your numbers from 1958 to 2018 the fraction of published novels that belonged to series was 11.6, 23.2, 17.6, 36.1, 44.1, 48.7, and 63.1 per cent, respectively. So clearly by the late 1980s there had really been an explosion in series novels compared to earlier decades.

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      21. There have been considerable changes in how the market functions over the decades. In the 1950s, the category market was transitioning from the pre-war short fiction focus on magazines and anthologies to more concentrated on novels, mainly mass market paperbacks that were now being sold more regularly in bookstores as well as in wholesale newsstands and vendors. Magazines were still big and sold in the same wholesale market. That’s why the Hugo awards for short fiction were important and still are today.

        Authors would take novellas and essentially lengthen them a bit into short novels, sometimes paired with a second novel by another author in paperback. A lot of books that are “standalone” were actually part of shared universes to which the authors regularly returned. For instance, much of Ursula Le Guin’s novels and short fiction took place in the same future ansible universe, but someone compiling stats might not realize that and count them as separate standalone books. Fantasy didn’t have an established sub-category market till into the 1960’s. Fantasy relied more heavily on both novels and on series over short fiction, was often considered lesser than science fiction and the Hugos tended to favor science fiction for Best Novel, meaning fewer series.

        By the 1980s, magazines were in decline with the wholesale market collapsing and shrinking in the 1990s. Books dominated the field, still mainly mass market paperback. Fantasy was majority series and SF frequently used trilogies or shared universes again. Fantasy had begun to make more of a mark on the Hugos, including for Best Novel.

        After the wholesale market collapse in the 1990s, magazines started a slow recovery, mostly online, but the main market was novels. SF added a lot more straight series rather than just a returning universe. A large part of the mass market paperback stock had to be sold through bookstores and bookstores didn’t want them since they don’t make much money from bulk sales. Mass market paperback prices rose considerably faster than other formats to improve the profit margins for booksellers. The number of books given a hardcover or trade paperback first edition rose, getting those works more reviews and library sales, since the mass market had shrunk.

        Amazon threw the e-book market into overdrive with the Kindle launch and e-book sales started to replace some of the lost mass market sales, though they were expected to eventually plateau once the novelty wore off, which they did. Series do well in e-books, which increased series in SFF, though horror still often had standalones. Short fiction also started to do well on-line, both as a promotional tool for larger book series and as a way for authors to build up fanbases offering cheap short fiction. That put renewed emphasis on short fiction that had been moribund for the last 15 years. Sites/magazines like Tor.com put up novellas online and then turned them into short novels (echoing the 1950s-1960s strategies,) for sale in bookstores to great success.

        It is hard for later books in a straight series to get nominations for Best Novel because it requires a lot of reader-voters who have read the whole series. That’s one of the main reasons that the Hugo voters eventually approved a Best Series Award in recent years. Jemisin’s record-breaking trilogy was essentially one full story split into three parts (like Lord of the Rings,) and it held up with fans who’d read all three, but that’s not usual. Leckie’s Ancillary trilogy was somewhat more three separate stories but together they still formed a saga, so again, high readership of all three books occurred as a bestselling, much buzzed about series. Contemporary fantasy series are mainly mystery-thriller suspense series with fantasy elements — they can run for decades just like mystery detective series, which makes it rather difficult for middle books in the series to score nominations and consequently contemporary fantasy that is not standalone has been at a bit of a disadvantage with Hugo and other award voters. Military SF, which has become almost all series now, has a similar issue.

        So the majority of the Best Novel noms tend to go to first books in a series that ended up selling well and had large amounts of buzz. Whether other books in a straight series then get a nomination or not depends on a lot of factors, including whether WorldCon is held that year in the U.S. or in another country, which affects the voter demographics. Then there’s the fact that many, many SFF authors will do serial trilogies or other formats where they write short series of three to five books in a universe and then return to the universe and write a new short series in it or some standalones. (For instance, see Joe Abercrombie’s A Little Hatred, which takes place several decades after the rest of his novels and one trilogy in that universe.) This is something again that SFF authors have been doing for decades, so it’s a rather tricky counting project. Stephen King’s novels are essentially mainly standalone horror novels, for example, but he puts in connections in almost every novel so that they can conceivable be considered to be in the same universe — a multiverse. Michael Moorcock did the same thing; it was popular in the 1970s, 1980s to do that. So do you count that as a series or no?

        The Hugo Award for Best Novel is always going to be favorable to some authors in various time periods because there are a lot of convention attending regulars who vote in the Hugos and who really like the work of major authors. (This is also partly how the Puppies have kept up a slice of the Dragon Awards.) Robert Heinlein banked like nine Best Novel nominations and won several. Poul Anderson — seven or so. Larry Niven over eight. Robert Silverberg has gotten noms as much as Heinlein. Clifford D. Simak, a name many current fans have never heard of, was nominated five times and won once, etc. Nobody thought this was weird back then, though I’m sure there were plenty of complaints about it over decades about so and so getting a nom again for a particular book.

        So what has changed in recent years? Somewhat more women nominees and winners over the years. Somewhat increase in non-white nominees and winners. For folks on the far right, like the Puppies, that change from the 1950’s when POC and white women authors were actively discriminated against and largely overlooked or dismissed as occasional exceptions is disturbing. They’re sure that POC and white women, being vocal advocates for A) reducing still active discrimination towards them in the field, and B) getting people to read their works so that they are less overlooked, will try to block straight white men from awards as they were blocked in the past and present, or at least conservative ones. Because apparently having some of the field blocked by discrimination is the only system they can see happening. The idea that their views of race, women and social justice/civil rights issues in the field are out-dated, discriminatory and no longer particularly interesting to most fans they see as invalid, dismissable, and also an existential threat. So you get the complaint that oh no, favoritism to some authors, never mind the past history that shows the exact same pattern.

        And this is why they’re not going to be able to keep a grip on the Dragon Awards even with an administrator favorable to them picking the horse race for now. Because they are out-dated in their political views of unequal hierarchy. The surge of young people at DragonCon and as fans of the field will eventually take over the award. The sweepstake rules will eventually be gone unless DragonCon decides to drop the awards. Of course, the planet may have roasted by then, so it may be moot. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      22. @Martin Pyne/Mark, just ran the script to report on Hugo novella finalists by decade:

        1960s: 67% completely standalone, 33% standalones but in a series/existing universe

        1970s: 53% completely standalone, 41% standalone in a series/universe, 6% volume 1 or 2 in series

        1980s: 58% completely standalone, 39% standalone in a series/universe, 4% volume 1 or 2 in a series

        1990s: 65% completely standalone, 23% standalone in a series/universe, 12% volumes 1-5 in a series

        2000s: 65% completely standalone, 29% standalone in a series/universe, 6% various volumes in a series

        2010s: 53% completely standalone, 22% standalone in a series/universe, 25% volumes 1-4 in a series

        So I think there are trends, but nothing too major, when looking at decade-by-decade.

        However, there’s a different picture if you look at the 4 years Tor.com has been around:

        2016-2019: 30% completely standalone, 17.4% standalone in a series/universe, 52% volumes 1-4 in a series

        Not that Tor.com is completely to “blame” for this – each of those years, there’s been at least one novella in a series/universe from a publisher other than them. Also, Gods, Monsters and the Lucky Peach is part of a universe, but the other stories for that universe weren’t published by Tor.com.

        Related, I’ve got a hacked up version of my code that reports/charts award finalists vs their Goodreads ratings count, but instead takes as input all the books a publisher issued. This makes it fairly easy to see which are their most popular titles, at least using Goodreads readers as a metric. It’s probably not surprising that 11 of their top 12 titles (at least as of a month ago) are serialized – 3 Bintis, 4 Wayward Children, and 4 Murderbots, with the sole exception being The Ballad of Black Tom.

        Liked by 2 people

      23. @various

        Lots of interesting stats, thanks. I think the takeaway is that the trend for Hugos finalists to be in series is simply part of a wider publishing trend.

        Tor.com Pub are a really interesting experiment. They’re not doing anything new as such – others were publishing novellas as separate books long before them – but they’ve brought some novel-level publishing tactics plus what appears to be a licence to experiment into the market, plus quite a big stick in terms of money to spend and influence to use with big name authors. And it’s gone really well for them! When a novella does well they can get a sequel out fairly quickly, and keep up some momentum with novella series. Quite a lot have done well because they’re getting really good established authors in, and taking some risks on new names as well.

        Liked by 2 people

      24. Sorry for the delay. A few quick thoughts.

        1) According to ISFDB, there were roughly 6400 SF/F novels published in English in 2018. A sample of 100…or 120…or anything close…is less than 2% of that number. That isn’t statistically significant.

        2) Big labels are great at selecting things that sell…not necessarily things that are transcendently good. There is a reason why we went through a deluge of sparkly vampires and dystopian works. They sell.

        3) The “buzz” and who determines which works get the “buzz” is part of the issue. If influencers aren’t reading or aren’t willing to recognize certain sets works, then they aren’t really reflecting the genre. I keep running into excellent works that were never part of the conversation in the first place.

        4) Some of y’all are really focused on my use of grimdark as an example. It’s just an example. Substitute in horror. Substitute in milsf.

        5) Series based work has been a growing problem for some time. I agree. And that is a part of my critical perspective. Series based works feed a bad trend of repeat nominees, an excessive focus on a relatively few authors feeds the trend, and an excessive focus on certain themes feeds the trend.

        6) The novel category has issues. Graphic novel and fancasting are have huge problems.

        Regards,
        Dann
        “It used to be said that it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. Today, we admire those who curse the candle—because it is not perfect, not free, not whatever the complainers want it to be.”–Thomas Sowell

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      25. If by “sparkly vampires” you mean urban fantasy and paranormal romance (which are not the same thing and Twilight, the original sparkly vampire book, was YA anyway), yes, these subgenres were extremely popular in the 2000s and early 2010s. But while there was a lot dross published in those subgenres, there were also some very good books and series, which never got any recognition outside the Rita Awards at all. SFF people often didn’t know that these books existed and if they did, they just knew the books were crap, even though they’d never read them.

        In spite of the huge popularity of urban fantasy, the only urban fantasy writers who ever made the Hugo ballot are Jim Butcher, Larry Correia (both of whom write on the non-romantic end of the urban fantasy spectrum, have male leads and their nominations were atypical, too), Charles Stross (another urban fantasy writer on the non-romantic edge of the spectrum with a male protagonist) and Seanan McGuire, who is a more typical urban fantasy writer, but whose urban fantasy was never nominated until the Best Series award was introduced. And while you’d think that the Best Series Award was tailor-made for urban fantasy and paranormal romance with its long series, those series almost never get nominated, unless written by Seanan McGuire. And yes, I’ve usually nominated at least one urban fantasy series, usually very popular ones, in the series category every year, but they never even make the longlist.

        So yes, there are corners of the genre that Hugo nominators either don’t know about or don’t nominate for whatever reason. But I don’t see what can be done except talk up and recommend good works in neglected subgenres and hope that they get more buzz.

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      26. @Dann: A sample of 100…or 120…or anything close…is less than 2% of that number. That isn’t statistically significant.

        As long as those ~ 120 books represent an unbiased sample of the distribution, that’s a perfectly adequate number; I picked it to ensure that the error on the fraction of series vs non-series novels would be modest (a statement which is true because neither of those fractions is so small as to be poorly sampled by 120 books). That the fraction I derived agrees so closely with John S’s much larger sample indicates that for this purpose (a) the Locus weekly new book listings provide a reasonable snapshot of the field, and (b) 120 books was easily enough to reliably determine the fraction of series novels.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. ““Losing to other, better, authors is one thing. Being told that you didn’t belong among the finalists in the first place is another critter.””

    Of the two versions of Larry that Larry has presented, I prefer the version who had a great time at the con, told his friends he had a great time at the con, was honored to have been nominated but disappointed that he didn’t win, over the later version in which Larry pretended he was having a great time (and lied to his friends) because he was scared witless of the mighty SJW forces that were oppressing him, and only told the truth about the oppression when he got home and had his friends around him to make him feel safe. Larry should sue the guy who is calling himself a coward…

    Liked by 6 people

  16. Lost track of the reply tree, but just wanted to state, for the record, that “cancel culture” isn’t really a new thing or even a thing at all, just like “political correctness” isn’t a thing (other than treating people with respect,as Neil Gaiman so helpfully put it). Joseph McCarthy was 60+ years ago.

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  17. @PhilRM

    Sorry. I wasn’t criticizing your sampling for series vs. non-series purposes.

    I’m just pointing out that any sampling of ~6400 novels (series inclusive) limited to less than 2% of that total for purposes of quality/review is misses a whole lot of what is published.

    @Cora Buhlert

    I agree. Promotion of good works wherever they are found is a good idea. I regret that I have not read anything by Anna Smith Spark as I’ve heard good things and would like to be able recommend something. Joe Abercrombie’s is pretty good thus far.

    Regards,
    Dann
    “Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible. I think it’s in my basement… let me go upstairs and check.” – M. C. Escher

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    1. @Dann: No worries. I’m not sure why you’re using that 120 books number, though: that was simply the total I got from something like two months worth of Locus’s weekly new books announcements. Their yearly total would then be something like 700 – 800 novels. (I specifically excluded anthologies and collections from my tally.)

      And I’m not sure what exactly comprises that 6400 total from isfdb, which is much larger than the numbers quoted in Gardner Dozois’ year in review summaries in his annual Best SF volumes, in which the number of new novels for, say, 2017, was under 2000. (I think in all cases his numbers came from Locus.) I assume that the 6400 figure includes self-published novels, which isfdb includes but which (as far as I know) Locus does not.

      And while you”ll never find me disagreeing that everyone would benefit from reading more widely, it”s not exactly surprising that a popular award recognizes popular books.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Dann:

    “1) According to ISFDB, there were roughly 6400 SF/F novels published in English in 2018. A sample of 100…or 120…or anything close…is less than 2% of that number. That isn’t statistically significant.”

    That’s a low number, even if you leave out self-publishing and paranormal romance. The database gathers info, but does not cover the whole market. A lot more titles are published.

    “2) Big labels are great at selecting things that sell…not necessarily things that are transcendently good. There is a reason why we went through a deluge of sparkly vampires and dystopian works. They sell.”

    No, big labels are not necessarily great at selecting things that sell. They gamble. They frequently lose money on those gambles but float those loses against revenues for hits. Sometimes they make a lot of money on something they thought would sell only a little. They aren’t all that good at predicting sales, especially after the wholesale market shrunk. Sometimes they make money but not on any more sales than a smaller press. The people who work at big labels and the people who work at smaller ones are not particularly different from each other.

    And transcendantly good is subjective — it varies from one person to another. Joe Abercrombie, whom you like, was published by big label publishers. So are most of the authors you probably like. Just because they produce other authors whose work you don’t like or have no interest in doesn’t mean that they are picking stuff to sell without some of the same criteria of how much they like it as you have.

    Only one novel series had sparkly vampires ever. Vampires, both monstrous and seductive, have been extraordinarily popular first in folklore and then in fiction, all over the world for centuries. We’ve always had a ton of vampire novels in fantasy and horror with occasional forays into science fiction versions. It’s just that nobody pays attention to it until there’s a couple of big hits and it helps feed an expansion. Likewise dystopian/apocalyptic/post-apocalypse has been one of the most popular things in science fiction and in fantasy (less often in horror,) forever.

    Fiction readers browse, which is why fiction markets have to be as varied as possible. In particular core fan audiences for genres like SFF browse from sub-area to sub-area. Fiction is also symbiotic — a hit draws in readers, a large number of who then browse outward and publishers will try to maximize selling to them of anything in the neighborhood when they do. This creates periodic expansions when the number of titles in a sub-area increases to take advantage of symbiosis and sales do well. The expansion then slows at a certain point and then starts up again later. Sometimes we come up with new names for the expansions or reuse older ones like urban fantasy. You can literally watch and track the browsing and expansions of readers in both adult fiction and YA/children’s. Media tends not to notice them until an expansion is well underway, grouping a cluster of hits and declaring it a “trend,” which some see as a deluge because they finally noticed it. This happens more rapidly if one hit is a phenom seller, above and beyond most bestsellers.

    In the 1980’s, contemporary fantasy had an expansion and was mainly called urban fantasy. So did cyberpunk. In the late 1980’s well into the 1990’s, secondary world/epic pre-industrial fantasy had an expansion. In the late 1990’s well into the oughts, contemporary fantasy had another expansion, which happened to coincide with expansions of YA fantasy and YA fiction in general, horror fiction and paranormal romance. A formal horror category market was constructed. In the mid-oughts, science fiction started several expansions. Readers browsed from post-apocalypse dystopia to alien contact to space opera to military SF, etc. Grimdark was an ad-hoc movement that also involved an expansion in dark fantasy in the mid-oughts to the teens. (Numerous worried fans thought that grimdark was taking over all of fantasy fiction because it was a hot sub-area.) Currently, steampunk and alternate history are having expansions. An expansion may or may not be reflected in awards selections, depending on how the awards are run (who votes on them.)

    “3) The “buzz” and who determines which works get the “buzz” is part of the issue. If influencers aren’t reading or aren’t willing to recognize certain sets works, then they aren’t really reflecting the genre. I keep running into excellent works that were never part of the conversation in the first place.”

    Buzz in written fiction markets comes mainly from word of mouth, not from marketing efforts. Marketing efforts are mainly aimed at getting the name of the work/author out where some may see it and try the work, then hoping word of mouth takes off. But no one can control word of mouth, which is a headache for publishers. Fiction readers are marketing resistant — they are stubborn. They want people, mainly friends and family, to suggest things they can try out, not tell them what to read as good or bad. And reading and buying fiction offers no status, unlike other products, so there aren’t really “influencers.” If some stranger with a following on Instagram says buy this novel, readers may or may not bother, depending on whether they like the idea of the story.

    There are people, mainly booksellers who handsell, teachers in the YA/kids market, librarians and occasional reviewers, who might mention a book and get some readers to try it. If those readers like the book, they’ll spread word of mouth, so publishers will try to get ARC of books into the hands of those who can spread name awareness. But word of mouth for Harry Potter, for instance, came from kids. American kids on holiday across the pond got their hands on the books and brought them home and buzz spread.

    Hugo awards and nominations can raise some name awareness of titles. They also raise name awareness of authors and titles who didn’t get nominations that people talk about as should have gotten nominations. But it is a stretch to call Hugo award voters themselves “influencers.” And it isn’t their job to “influence” the genre, or to cover the whole genre, which is thousands and thousands of books each year. The Hugo Awards are their opportunity to celebrate things they like; you can’t tell them they have to read a bunch of stuff they don’t like just to vote on nominations.

    “4) Some of y’all are really focused on my use of grimdark as an example. It’s just an example. Substitute in horror. Substitute in milsf.”

    Your use of those examples indicates that you think they are overlooked in relation to awards. They are not. Horror is much loved in awards, military SF is regularly represented in awards. Horror has the Bram Stoker Awards and other awards specifically for horror fiction as well. Several major grimdark authors are Brits and have done very well in the British Fantasy Awards. They are extremely popular areas of fiction that are very much part of fan conversations and often award conversations. You’re just not listening to all the conversations.

    And no reason that you should be. The majority of SFF reading fans don’t know what the Hugos and WorldCon are or pay any attention to them. WorldCon is a small sub-set of fandom whose make-up shifts from year to year and is not purely American or even English speaking. It has never and cannot represent the entire spectrum of the genre, and certainly has never done so in the further sub-set of WorldCon members who bother to vote for the Hugos. It has an interest in short fiction that many SFF fans do not share.

    “5) Series based work has been a growing problem for some time. I agree. And that is a part of my critical perspective. Series based works feed a bad trend of repeat nominees, an excessive focus on a relatively few authors feeds the trend, and an excessive focus on certain themes feeds the trend.”

    Series based works aren’t a problem for awards and they aren’t a new trend. Series has been the dominate form of fantasy fiction since the 1980s and in science fiction since the 1990s — decades ago. And as has already been pointed out to you, repeat nominees are the norm and the standard of the entire history of the Hugo awards and of basically most awards in SFF or elsewhere. If you outlawed all series fiction from the Hugo Best Novel award, you’d still have lots of repeat nominees, and you’d have repeat nominees in short fiction. The make-up of the repeat nominees changes over time as fans age, new fans come in, etc., but having repeat nominees is a constant.

    “6) The novel category has issues. Graphic novel and fancasting are have huge problems.”

    That may be your opinion, because Hugo voters aren’t going for your favorites, but it’s their right to pick what they like. Ninety-nine percent of authors don’t get award nominations because people only read so many books and they only like and want to celebrate a small set of those books. And no matter who makes up the voter population for the Hugo Award for Best Novel, the nominees will all end up being prominent bestsellers with high buzz. That is a normal result for Best Novel awards. Fancasting is a new award and there are fan award issues, but I wouldn’t say it’s a huge problem. Graphic novel is going to be a limited category because the majority of WorldCon attendees/Hugo voters don’t read graphic novels — they are there for the main focus of WorldCon — non-illustrated written fiction. At other cons where the focus is on comics, the awards are likely to have a wider pool people are familiar with. But even there, you will have a lot of repeat nominees and winners. Alan Moore has like a zillion best writer Eisner Awards.

    You should certainly talk about and encourage others to look at any work you find worthy. That’s how word of mouth works and can spread. But Hugo Award voters are looking at works they liked and within various time periods over the years, there are going to be authors whose works are favorites for those time periods.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry about the delay. Life got busy…and then it got interesting.

      @PhilRM

      I appreciate your kind understanding.

      @Kat Goodwin

      I have read your response several times over the last few weeks. I have a few minor quibbles here and there, but I largely agree with you.

      The one point where I strongly disagree is that I _am_ listening to lots of those conversations. IMHO, those discussions skew towards a limited (compared with the larger scale of published works) range of authors/titles.

      As an example, Barbara Hambly recently received The Forry Award. Prior to that, most of the attention paid to her works came from Locus, but not much else. There are a bunch of other authors that are even less recognized despite producing really compelling/interesting work. Margaret Weis comes to mind; never been nominated for anything.

      The size of the genre has grown. Small press publishers and independent publishing have undermined the gatekeepers. There are lots of great works being published every year that are being missed precisely because of the volume of works that are available.

      You are missing at least one great, life-changing book every year. No one can possibly read everything.

      You know what? I’m missing at least one great, life-changing book every year as well.

      While my initial comments were made with the broader range of awards in mind, I do think the novel category of the Hugos over the last decade has largely exhibited precisely the sort of insular and stunted range of attention that I argue against. If the pool of nominators was actually engaged with a broad range of speculative fiction, it would be nearly impossible to have two books from the same series make it to the shortlist; especially if the first book didn’t win.

      Yet we had at least (2) series-based works on this year’s shortlist that were fine works in their own right, but they paled in comparison to the rest of the shortlist.

      Regards,
      Dann
      Reality simply consists of different points of view. – Margaret Atwood

      Like

      1. “If the pool of nominators was actually engaged with a broad range of speculative fiction, it would be nearly impossible to have two books from the same series make it to the shortlist; especially if the first book didn’t win.”

        Did it really take you a month to come back and write this nonsense? Your tactic of disappearing whenever the discussion gets too hot for you and hoping that everyone will be bored with it when you finally return is really obvious, you know?

        And yes, that’s obvious nonsense. You’re pretending that two books in the same series ought not to appear because the field is so large, which is only a logical argument if the books aren’t connected. But there is a connection, a really flipping obvious one – the second book is written by the same person who produced the first book with a great idea and great characters and wrote it in a great way. It’s obvious that there’s a much higher than average chance that the person who wrote one of the best books last year would go on to write one of the best books the next year. Your argument is like claiming it’s really improbable that last year’s champions in sport X would keep on winning this year. It’s not guaranteed but clearly it’s likely

        You’ve now spent years – actual, literal years! – trying to smear some sort of tarnish over the Hugos in service to your political beliefs, at what point will you give up? My days of thinking no-one should pay attention to you are certainly coming to a middle.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. @Mark

        On behalf of my family, we apologize for my not having time to respond in a volume and schedule that is too your liking.

        Why is it wrong to advocate for readers to experience a broader range of works??

        -R
        D-

        Like

      3. Dann,

        Interesting combo of goalpost shifting, dodging the question, and just lying about what I said.

        I said nothing about your family, I was criticising your frequent tactic of disappearing when the opposition gets tough only to reply some time later. You’ve really overused it, didn’t you realise?

        Nothing wrong with advocating for people to read more stuff, it’s probably the one thing I’ll agree with you on. Of course that’s not what I was criticising you for – as anyone can scroll up and see – I was attacking your weak argument against the Hugo results. You’ve not addressed that at all.

        So basically, v poor show even by your usual standards, with a weak attempt at dodge and redirect with a side order of playing the victim.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. @Dann —

        Various snarking aside —

        “The one point where I strongly disagree is that I _am_ listening to lots of those conversations. IMHO, those discussions skew towards a limited (compared with the larger scale of published works) range of authors/titles.”

        Of course they do. Because the voting community has a certain range of things that most reflects their taste. Just as puppies aren’t likely to spend a lot of time actually discussing something like, say, This Is How You Lose the Time War.

        “If the pool of nominators was actually engaged with a broad range of speculative fiction, it would be nearly impossible to have two books from the same series make it to the shortlist; especially if the first book didn’t win.”

        This is a big logic failure, and you’ve made it before. I know, because I pointed it out to you myself on at least one previous occasion.

        You are assuming that if the nominators vote for a relatively small range of sff, that necessarily means that they are only **reading** a relatively small range of sff. This is a groundless assumption. In reality, nominators may very well vote for a relatively small range of sff because **those are the works that they find most award-worthy**, regardless of how widely they may have read during the year.

        Please try to stop making this bad assumption. I may not always be around to correct it for you. 😉

        Liked by 2 people

      5. Excellent point. With so many Hugo voters writing about what they read, it’s pretty easy to see that their are books popular with many Hugo voters that aren’t nominated much. The Expanse series is one example as is the Rivers of London series (which I still haven’t read) but there’s plenty of others that are part of the general dialogue (ie even those who haven’t read them know about them)

        Like

      6. @Cam —

        “the Rivers of London series (which I still haven’t read)”

        The first several books are excellent. And the narrator is one of the best there is — a perfect match for the series. To tell you the truth, though, IMHO the last couple have gone distinctly downhill. I suspect the graphic novels and the novellas have gotten in the way of the actual novels.

        “but there’s plenty of others that are part of the general dialogue (ie even those who haven’t read them know about them)”

        Sure. Heck, think of the tons of series that haven’t gotten any nominations at all — Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews just to name two popular authors. You think zillions of Hugo voters haven’t read those? Ha. They’ve *read* them — they just don’t find them award-worthy.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. think of the tons of series that haven’t gotten any nominations at all — Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews just to name two popular authors.

        Or not enough voters, anyway. I put the Kate Daniels series on my Best Series ballot, and so did Cora Buhlert, I believe. If the last two books of their Hugh d’Ambray spin-off series are as good as the first, I will nominate them as well. And you can make a case for Jim Butcher being on the Series ballot despite the Puppy influence. But for the most part, your point is well taken.

        Liked by 2 people

      8. @Bonnie —

        “Or not enough voters, anyway.”

        I was using “nominations” in the strict sense of “making it to the shortlist”, not in the puppy sense of “a few people put it on their nominating ballots”.

        “And you can make a case for Jim Butcher being on the Series ballot despite the Puppy influence.”

        I very carefully did NOT mention Butcher in my comment for that reason — and also because I will not be at all surprised if Dresden wins for best series whenever (if!) Butcher finally gets the next one published.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. First of all, even though you felt that two works that were part of series on the Hugo shortlist this year were substandard, the majority of Hugo voters obviously felt differently. As for why the same authors and series keep popping up on the Hugo shortlist again and again, most people are more likely to pick up the next book by an author/in a series they enjoyed. And if a book makes the Hugo shortlist, it gets more exposure and even people who haven’t tried author X before will give it a try (either via the voter packet or because they get curious and buy the book). Some of these people will enjoy the book and go on to read the author’s next one. For example, I suspect that “Trail of Lightning” got nominated, because a whole lot of people enjoyed Rebecca Roanhorse’s “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience (TM)” and were willing to give her debut novel a try and wound up enjoying it.

        There are always works on the Hugo ballot that I don’t like and where I can’t for the life of me tell how they got nominated. There are always Hugo finalists I will no award, because I find the work in question dreadful. But many others obviously disagree. And yes, there are authors who would probably get nominated for their shopping lists, but then those authors have big fanbases.

        Most Hugo nominators read widely and I suspect everybody nominates works and authors, often repeatedly, that never make it, either because others don’t know they exist or just don’t enjoy them as much. A lot of my nominees never make it, particularly in novel, series, YA, related work and dramatic presentation short, because my tastes in those fields are out of whack with those of the majority of the electorate.

        I actually have nominated Ilona Andrews and Patricia Briggs in best series since the category has been in eixstence and am disappointed that they never even made the longlist, not even the Kate Daniels series which finished in 2018 and had its last chance in 2019. But the other Hugo nominators either don’t read them in sufficient quantities or don’t like them enough to nominate them. Meanwhile, I have no idea what people see in The Laundry Files or the Centennal Cycle, but those series/authors have plenty of fans.

        I also agree that Barbara Hambly is overlooked, but the only thing you can do about that is talk up books/stories/films/etc… you enjoyed and spread the word.

        Like

      10. @Bonnie McDaniel
        My Mom put the Kate Daniels series on her Hugo ballot as well, but the three of us plus whoever else nominated it apparently weren’t enough to get it on the longlist, let alone the shortlist. And yes, I think that’s a damn shame, because it is a great series that would have deserved a nod.

        Coincidentally, Rivers of London and The Expanse will almost certainly make the best series ballot again next year. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see The Expanse win some day. And whenever Jim Butcher finishes the next Dresden Files book, he’ll almost certainly make the best series ballot and may well win, depending on whom he’s up against.

        Like

      11. “those discussions skew towards a limited (compared with the larger scale of published works) range of authors/titles.”

        Yes, that’s how all awards are, both juried and vote awards. Again, ninety-five to ninety-nine authors publishing in any field of fiction don’t get award nominations. The amount of books and stories that are published is huge — it was huge in the 1950’s and it’s huge now, whereas the number of awards and nominees for those awards are very small. And of those who do get award nominations, quite a large cut of them never win. People who vote in awards tend to be wide readers, but even so, they will have their favorites and they’ll tend to repeat vote for them. In the case of the Hugos, people often learn of authors from the short fiction nominations and then read those author’s novels and like those too, so it’s not unusual for an author to have gotten a nomination for a shorter work and then get another one for a novel, if the Hugo voters like them.

        If you look at the history of the Hugo nominations, just for Best Novel or for all the written fiction categories, you will see patterns of repeat authors (clusters) throughout the history of the award. Authors like Poul Anderson and Robert Silverberg racked up like 13, 15 nominations including several wins. Because they were hot, much buzzed about authors whose works Hugo voters paid attention to, read and liked. But the names shift — new ones get added to the nominations, the older ones start getting fewer nominations and the newer ones then become the next repeating cluster for the next five-ten years before then being replaced by other new people, etc. It’s the same for the Nebula, the World Fantasy Award, the British Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards, the Locus Awards and so on. Salman Rushdie has been nominated for the Man Booker Prize — a juried award — seven times, winning once.

        And yes, it can be insular. That’s the nature of the awards because even when they are a wide open popular vote award, it’s still a very small group of people choosing what they liked the most that year. This notion you have that awards are supposed to cover and reflect the entire field — no award works like that. It’s not possible for them to work like that. The Hugo Awards are there for the sub-set of WorldCon attendees who care to nominate and then vote for the stuff they liked best. It’s their award; it’s not the award of the field or for those who don’t vote on the awards. If there is a work you think is being overlooked, your best bet is to lobby for it, spread word of mouth and then hope others agree with you.

        Small presses have always been a vital part of the SFF field. And they’ve been a strong part in putting out short fiction which the Hugos still honor — something that the Puppies criticized them for since the Puppies only cared about the Best Novel award and claimed that only widely popular novel writers should be important. Small presses haven’t smashed any gates; there aren’t any gatekeepers. Self-publishing in SFF has been a time-honored tradition, especially in short fiction, with the electronic pub platform expansion then making it easier to sell more longer self-pub works. But again, the Puppies argued that the Hugos were picking obscure, small, not very popular works. This wasn’t accurate, but it is also true that the Hugo voters do nominate shorter works that they’ve read from smaller publications because they are dedicated magazine, fanzine and anthology readers — unlike the majority of SFF fans.

        So you can’t have it both ways here — castigating the Hugo voters for ignoring small press and fanzines when they very pointedly have not, despite flack from others that they should, while also claiming they ignore super popular authors published by big presses, when those authors always make up all or most of the nominations for Best Novel. They’re going to pick a few of each — but it’s only going to be a few each time. Even if there was a rule that no author could get more than one nomination for any of the Hugos, so that there were no repeats, it would still be only a handful of authors getting nominations and many of your favorites would never get one.

        Barbara Hambly is a favorite of mine and quite prolific. She’s been nominated for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, the British Fantasy Award, on the long list for the Tiptree Memorial Award, lots of Locus awards as you note, won two Lord Ruthven Awards, as well as now the Forry Award, and served as a judge for the World Fantasy Award and as president of SFWA. Her historical mystery series (not SFF) was a NYTimes Notable Book. So she’s not really been ignored. She just hasn’t gotten a Hugo nom. And when she was the hot young thing in the field, it happened to be in a time when it was harder for women to get nominations. Jo Clayton, an incredibly popular SFF writer around the same time and well respected, didn’t get award nominations either. All that “SJW” stuff we carry on about regarding white women and POC — this does actually have an impact. It tended to make Hugo voters read fewer women and concentrate on very few women authors they knew. It’s a bit better now than it used to be thirty years ago.

        “I do think the novel category of the Hugos over the last decade has largely exhibited precisely the sort of insular and stunted range of attention that I argue against.”

        It’s not over the last decade — it’s over the entire history of the award. Again, tons of repetition in this category since the 1950’s. It’s not a new thing (see Robert Silverberg). It’s almost always the most talked about big sellers in that category and a phenomenal number of author repetitions, again in clusters for five-ten year sets. What has changed is that women now have a better shot at the award and that POC authors are now not almost nearly absent from the award. This has generally been viewed as a less insular and good thing. You know, except for those who consider that a mortal affront to white guys like the Puppies do.

        Liked by 1 person

      12. @Kat Goodwin

        Thanks in advance for your patience and tolerance. Things remain busy.

        I agree with a lot of your response. And even where I might disagree, it isn’t by that much. At least, I suspect that an interesting conversation could be had.

        Except for that last paragraph. I know that such people do exist. Those issues are unfortunately the home of a disproportionately noisy bunch.

        Their issues are not mine. Suggesting otherwise is unjustified and reactionary.

        Regards,
        Dann
        Basic Programmers Never Die! They just GOSUB w/o RETURN.

        Like

      13. Dann: “Their issues are not mine. Suggesting otherwise is unjustified and reactionary.”

        I didn’t suggest you shared Puppy views. Because you don’t share Puppy views, I was encouraging you not to accidentally repeat Puppy rhetoric that repetitive clusters of nominated authors was a new thing and a current big issue for the Hugos.

        Having clusters of repeating nominees is, again, factually a regular occurrence throughout the history of the Hugos — and throughout the history of most awards. It’s not a new phenomena and it’s not a problem in and of itself. The author clusters in the past were predominantly white and men. They were nominated over and over and won as well. They were then replaced as time went by and new fans had their current favorites by another author cluster that was also predominantly white and men.

        So what the Puppies objected to was not having repetitive author clusters in the nominees, but that the make-up of those author clusters in nominations had changed slightly to including more white women and POC in the last ten years or so. When you presented the repetitive author clusters as a recent, new phenomena that was problematic, you were inadvertently supporting their argument that repetitive author clusters only became a problem recently because they are not quite as predominantly white and men as before. Which obviously isn’t something you were trying to do, but still were essentially doing by painting it as a recent issue instead of a regular occurrence. This is why factual historical context always matters. It’s easy to fall into the idea that an issue is “new,” when most of the time, it is not a new thing.

        I was also trying to reassure you that it wasn’t a recent issue and did not create a problem for the Hugos. Even if we declared repetitive author clusters a problem, there’s not much that can be done about it as voting fans always have their favorites of whom they are most aware. It’s why no award can cover the broad spectrum of the market. Vote awards always reflect the personal interests of the voters.

        The Hugo members certainly could vote to enact a rule that everybody only gets one nomination per award category, but that wouldn’t really eliminate repetitive author clusters, since they occur across categories. It would also raise a great many objections, as an author who got nominated and didn’t win for one book might write another, later book that people think is really fantastic and want to nominate. A one and done rule would essentially penalize authors for getting Hugo nominations, which isn’t really the goal of the awards.

        Liked by 1 person

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