Debarkle Chapter 10: 2006 A Baen sweep of the Hugos?

Tor grew substantially in the 1980s but also faced severe commercial problems when its distributor went bankrupt. The crisis led Tom Doherty to sell Tor to St Martin’s Press in 1987[1]. However, Tor already had two notable editors (Beth Meacham and David G Hartwell) and would recruit others (Robert Gleason, Teresa and Patrick Nielsen Hayden). From 1986 onwards there have been just a few years (1991,1996,1997, 2005, 2011, 2016) were a Tor novel was not a Hugo finalist. Partly this was due to a large number of science fiction books published but also the publishing house had a strong reputation. The Locus Award category for Best Publisher has been won by Tor every year from 1988 to 2020[2].

Meanwhile, some authors at Baen books felt that their publisher was not getting the recognition it deserved. In the 1990s Baen had some success at the Hugo Awards with two wins by Lois McMasters Bujold. In addition, Elizabeth Moon was a finalist in 1997 for her novel Remnant Population. It was a fraction of the number of finalists achieved by the ‘friendly rivals’ at Tor but then again, Baen published only a fraction of the works published by Tor.

Nonetheless, by the early 2000s some Baen authors felt the odds were stacked against them. Recently both Eric Flint and David Weber (two of the most notable Baen authors) have written about being made aware that they were unlikely to win a Hugo Award because of their publisher. According to Weber:

“I was told 20 years ago by a reviewer who shall remain nameless for her own protection “You’ll never win a Hugo. You’re published by Baen.” I’m not saying that was automatically true just because a reviewer who’d been around a looooong time said it. I’m saying that she HAD been around a long time and she DID think it was true.”

Facebook comment 19/02/2021 [3]

Eric Flint expressed a similar sentiment in the same comments, saying that “Like David, I have known for at least two decades that there was no chance I’d ever get nominated for a Hugo.” Flint went on to explain:

“I think the main factors involved in Hugo selection don’t actually have all that much to do with politics. It’s true that there’s a definite bias both against and in favor of various publishers (and magazines). Being blunt about it, calling that bias “political” is giving it too much credit. It’s really not much different from the biases involved in the formation and maintenance of high school cliques. Some of the girls and boys are cool, and others aren’t.”

Facebook comment 19/02/2021 [4]

In 2013 notable Baen author John Ringo expressed a similar sense of being locked out of Hugo consideration in the early 2000’s. However, Ringo believed there was a degree of active malice towards him.

“I had twice the votes for the John Campbell nomination in 2001 as the next highest person. Mine were ‘thrown out’ since I was ‘ineligible.’ I was told ‘But John, you’ve been writing FOREVER.’ ‘My first book came out last year. I’ve published six in this time but my first book was in 2000.’ Think that was a ‘mistake’? No. It was not a ‘mistake.’”

Facebook comment 04/09/2013 [5]

The sense of exclusion among Baen authors was accompanied by others noting the degree to which Tor sought to openly promote itself. Robert J Sawyer writing about his Nebula Award win in 1996 noted:

“Of the six finalists, four were published by Tor Books — and, in an effort to garner Nebula votes, Tor had sent free copies of all four titles to every one of the 900+ active members of SFWA. The other two nominated books — mine, and Walter Jon Williams’s Metropolitan — were both published by HarperPrism. HarperPrism cooperated with Walter’s agent in sending out copies of his hardcover novel to voters. I, on the other hand, was no longer a HarperPrism author, and they were doing nothing whatsoever to enhance my chances of winning.”

https://sfwriter.com/nebwin.htm [6]

However, most novels that were finalists in the Hugo Awards at that time were not published by Tor. Of the 107 finalists in the twenty-year period from 1985 (the year before Tor’s first win) and 2005 (the year before Jim Baen’s death), 24 were published by Tor (22%)[7]. However, Tor was the largest grouping with the next highest being Bantam with 17 finalists and along with size, Tor also had an increasing range of authors and books that spanned a wide set of sub-genres. In a field with changing demographic and shifting tastes, this would prove to be an added advantage.

Broad concern about the integrity of major science-fiction awards was not a new phenomenon. In an earlier chapter, we already discussed the concerns about ‘log rolling’ in the Nebula awards. In the mid-1990s veteran science-fiction contrarian (and rather excellent writer) Harlan Ellison even raised the issue in an episode of the cable-tv Sci-Fi channel’s show Sci-Fi Buzz:

“At this most recent convention, at which the most recent awards were given out something strange, wonderful and horrendous happened. People bought themselves some awards. Yes, folks, it’s finally happened. Technology has finally caught up. People actually went on the internet and begged for votes. Now, I’m not going to mention the names. People will say, “oh, Ellison’s sour grapes”. Yeah, it’s sour grapes, I suppose. I got ****** out of one or two awards, I’ll tell you that absolutely frankly. But that’s not really what I’m caring about. What I’m caring about is that one vastly untalented person won a Hugo, or was it a Nebula? I think it was a Nebula. And another person went out on the Net, and begged for votes, said, “vote for me, vote for me, poor me, vote for me”. Well, I guess the time has come for somebody to point this out. It’s not really polite to talk about it. But, you know, then you know me. I have no sense of what I should talk about, what I shouldn’t. So I figured I would alert the rest of you to this. That, ah, beginning with the awards this year, the Hugos and the Nebulas are maybe not as valuable, maybe not as representative as we might like to think they are.”

http://harlanellison.com/buzz/bw135h.htm [8]

Although Ellison’s claims were interpreted during the Puppy Kerfuffle of 2015 as being in relation to Tor, the gist of his concern appears to be about the use of the internet to promote an author or work. We’ll return to the Nebula Awards in later chapters.

Meanwhile, within the Hugo Awards there was another category that carried with it some Baen/Tor-related angst. The Best Professional Editor category had been running since 1973 when it effectively replaced the former Best Professional Magazine category[9]. Jim Baen had been a finalist seven times in his roles as an editor for Galaxy Magazine, Ace Books and Tor. However, he never won and was never nominated in his role as editor/publisher of Baen Books. To some extent, being a finalist in his role at Ace and Tor was unusual. Most finalists in the category were there in their roles as editors of magazines. There were a few other exceptions. David G Hartwell was a finalist on several occasions for his role at Pocket Books and later at Tor. Likewise, Beth Meacham and later Patrick Nielsen Hayden would also be finalists on the basis of their roles at Tor. However, the only person to win on the basis of being a book editor was a posthumous win by Judy-Lynn del Rey in 1986, which was declined by her husband.

As early as 1979, George R.R. Martin had noted the shifting importance of book editors in science-fiction due to the shift from magazines as the major medium for the genre to paperbacks:

“The editors at today’s big paperback publishing houses Avon, Bantam, Dell, Berkley, DAW, Del Rey, Pocket Books, and so on are the most influential people in SF today. It is they who can choose to pay five- or six-figure advances, or to pay nothing at all. They decide which titles get promotion, and how much. They build their lines as carefully as magazine editors tend their periodicals.”

Guest of Honour Speech Coastcon II March 10, 1979 https://georgerrmartin.com/about-george/speeches/editors-the-writers-natural-enemy/ [11]

A change to the Best Editor category was implemented for 2007. The category would be split into two: long-form and short-form. The short-form version would be for editors of magazines and anthologies. The long-form version would be for editors of books. The change also meant that there was a final opportunity for Jim Baen to win a Hugo Award, albeit posthumously.

Within the Baen’s Bar online forum there was discussion about the Hugo Awards and external to the forum a webpage established by a ‘Barfly’ (the nickname for regulars at the forum) entitled “A Baen Sweep of the Hugos”.

“As noted at Toni’s Table, the electorate for Hugo awards (and the Campbell award) is almost as small and fluid as that of a “Rotten Burough”. Also noted there is that Baen hasn’t won many such awards recently despite Baen being the #2 or #3 (depending on how you count/who is counting) speculative fiction (SF) publisher. This totally unaffiliated page is therefore set up so that loyal Baen Barflies can do a little consensus building and nominate appropriately with the goal of seeing Jim Baen nominated as editor and ideally also seeing a Baen author/artist win some other category of the 2007 Hugo awards.”

http://www.di2.nu/files/Baensweep.html [12]

The page noted a decline in participation in Hugo voting and set out three general objectives:

  • Get Jim Baen nominated and voted for Editor (books) for 2006
  • Increase the participation in the Hugo process
  • Get some Baen works on the ballots

The strategy? Get people to join up.

“I hope to do this by convincing a number of loyal Baen readers (aka Barflies) to register as attendees for Worldcon 2007 or as voting associates and, having done so, to nominate Jim Baen for the editor award and to nominate some Baen works/authors/artists for the other awards. There is NO intention to produce a Baen “slate” and to insist (as if it were possible) that Barflies nominate and vote for the “slate”.
However, having said that, it should be noted that in order for a nomination to make it onto the final ballot it typically needs between 20 and 40 nominations so it isn’t as simple as just having one person make a nomination that everyone else can vote on. We need as many barflies as possible involved in the nomination process to increase the chance that we have something Baeny to vote on.”

ibid

The 2007 Worldcon was held in Yokohama, Japan [13] and the location may have impacted the number of people participating in the Hugo Awards, even though people could purchase a cheaper non-attending membership. Whether this pro-Baen campaign was just one person or gained some traction among other Barflies is no longer possible to discern. However, the numerical impact of the “Baen Sweep of the Hugos” campaign was negligible. The nomination statistics showed few of the possible nominees below the cut-off for finalist status[14]. There were though, two Baen finalists: firstly, perennial Hugo finalist Mike Resnick’s novelette “All the Things You Are” from Jim Baen’s Universe; secondly Jim Baen himself in Best Editor Short Form.

Among the people nominated in other categories was John Scalzi for Best Fan Writer. At his blog discussing the news he also discussed the editor category. The blogger behind the “Baen Sweep of the Hugos” added in the comments to Scalzi’s post:

“Not to diss PNH but I really hope people actually vote for Jim Baen for Long form editor. PNH can win it next year. Jim Baen can never win it ever if he doesn’t win this year. Given what Jim Baen has done to the SF market not having him win ever is a travesty.”

http://www.scalzi.com/whatever/005000.html [15]

Final voting in the Hugo Awards uses a transferable vote system known as instant run-off (IRV) or alternative vote (AV)[16] and is sometimes called an Australian Ballot[17] because of its use in Australian parliamentary elections. Hugo voters rank their choice out of the finalists. The finalist with the least amounts of first preference votes is eliminated in the first round and those ballots then go to the second preference listed on them.

The first preference votes in the Best Editor Long Form fell accordingly:

  • Jim Baen [Baen] 109
  • Patrick Nielsen Hayden [Tor] 83
  • David G Hartwell [Tor] 78
  • Ginjer Buchanan [Ace] 47
  • Lou Anders [Pyr] 32
  • No Award 15

Two Tor editors were finalists, Patrick Nielsen Hayden and David G Hartwell[18]. IRV as a system is designed to minimise the impact of a split vote between candidates and as other finalists were eliminated, Jim Baen gained an extra 47 votes. However, Patrick Nielsen Hayden gained an extra 75, beating Jim Baen by just two votes. The blog behind the “Baen Sweep” was understandably not happy and noted that:

“it seems clear to me that 200 people who voted in lock step could a) guarantee a nomination and b) almost certainly win any and all Hugo awards.”

https://web.archive.org/web/20130709124014/http://www.di2.nu/200709/02a.htm

With the death of Jim Baen in 2006, executive editor Toni Weisskopf took on the role of publisher at Baen Books[19]. The company continued to produce science fiction and fantasy, as well as seek out new talent. The role of Baen within the Hugos would continue during this decade, with Mike Resnick as a finalist for a short story in 2009 from Jim Baen’s Universe. Circumstances would change in the 2010s but that’s getting ahead of ourselves…

Next Time: The mountain who writes, introducing Larry Correia.


Footnotes

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82 responses to “Debarkle Chapter 10: 2006 A Baen sweep of the Hugos?”

  1. Huh. Is there any proof of “ Tor had sent free copies of all four titles to every one of the 900+ active members of SFWA”? Some of those titles barely had runs in hardcover of more than three or four thousand, so it seems unlikely that Tor would’ve given that much of the stock. (I know because an author pointed out to me that his hardcover runs were as low as fifteen hundred copies on Tor and rarely exceeded three thousand.)

    Liked by 1 person

      • FWIW, the stories of publishers sending books to everyone in SFWA seem to have been around long enough that they predate (just) Tor’s existence:

        > “The SFWA address list is available, at a price, and publishers often send free copies of favoured books to all members”

        From https://ansible.uk/writing/ff08.html , which originally appeared in a fanzine some time in 1981, and according to ISFDB, Tor’s first books weren’t published until late 1981.

        That doesn’t prove or disprove Sawyer’s statement, but does imply that Tor weren’t doing anything that other publishers hadn’t been doing in the past – unless there were some Nebula rule changes to prohibit the mass-sending of promo copies in the intervening ~15 years?

        Liked by 1 person

        • I can confirm that the Nebula *JURY* asked for publishers to send them books – or at least they did in 2007. That’s a different thing than sending SFWA members books though and it was a blanket request as the Jury was trying to see what else should get on the ballot. I won’t post the relevant link as it actually lists people’s addresses (!) including Vox Day’s (!!?!!!) [I assume it’s a business address]

          Liked by 1 person

  2. John Ringo: I had twice the votes for the John Campbell nomination in 2001 as the next highest person. Mine were ‘thrown out’ since I was ‘ineligible.’ I was told ‘But John, you’ve been writing FOREVER.’ ‘My first book came out last year. I’ve published six in this time but my first book was in 2000.’ Think that was a ‘mistake’? No. It was not a ‘mistake.’

    Is there actually any evidence for this? The Hugo stats for 2001 don’t show him being disqualified — which isn’t to say that it didn’t happen — but Googling, oddly, does not seem to reveal any internet complaints being made at the time, and I have to wonder if this isn’t a retcon the way Correia’s Worldcon experience is a retcon.

    Liked by 3 people

      • The one in question seems to be 2001, where there is no vote for Ringo on record. We don’t have any record of anythink striken 2001, which is (I am only sure about more modern Hugotimes) normally a strong indicator that no Ringo wasn’t disqualified. This is normally very public, anyone knows who was in charge that year?

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        • It’s possible he was disqualified in 2001, there’s no evidence that he was or wasn’t.

          His other claim was that he had votes thrown out in a later year.

          Here’s the thing: in both cases he seems very sure of how many votes he should have had. Which is…interesting.

          Liked by 1 person

      • So he doesn’t have “twice as many votes” in 2002, he barely had more than the 4 people below him.

        He had no nominations for 2001.

        I guess his snowflake ego can’t handle not being nominated, or barely having people care, so he’s gotta make it a conspiracy that he just wasn’t that popular and his fans didn’t turn out.

        Sadly predictable, both the denial and the lying.

        Liked by 1 person

        • He may have had nominations in 2001, just not enough to clear the 5% threshold and show up on the longlist (i.e., less than 9).

          Liked by 1 person

    • Nope – zero evidence other than Ringo’s claim. The stats don’t show anything to support it. It’s a weird claim to make if there was no basis to it but Ringo makes weird claims.

      I don’t doubt it is something he was telling others less publicly though. He clearly felt genuinely cheated by the Hugos even if his belief was deluded.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Have you found any claims that are older than the quote from 2013? While online discussions from 2001 may be hard to find, it would be odd if 2013 was the first time Ringo have said anything publicly about it. If it actually happened, of course.

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        • No, I’ve looked. I’ll need to check the thread again but from memory Toni W wasn’t familiar with John’s claim either. Also, the objection he says was raised makes no sense for 2001. I can’t see anybody in 2001 thinking he’d must have been around for a long time given he had exactly one novel out in 2000 and two in 2001. He was prolific in the early 2000s but that couldn’t have been a factor even as a general impression until 2003 Campbell – by which point he genuinely wasn’t eligible. So maybe it was 2003 he was disqualified? Again, can’t find anything.

          However, there’s a bit of a internet dark-age around that time. A lot of stuff going on still on forums or on services like AoL or CompuServe or blogs on Geocities that is all lost. [weirdly the gun forums where Larry Correia got his start are still active and have archives back to the late 1990s! If anybody wanted to read Larry Correia in his twenties, you can…but it isn’t very interesting. He liked guns then and he likes guns now. ]

          Liked by 3 people

      • 2002 makes less sense for me, than 2001 for me, because, I have never heared of a Worlcon to disqualify only a few votes and 2002 was very clear, where the administrator made some decisions.
        2003 okay, then it would be within the rules to disqualify John Ringo.
        But disqualifikations were normally made public by the worldcons, this is somethink I have trouble with.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Today in the statistics, where Andrew linked, too. I am not sure where in that time, this was in a time where I wasn’t aware of the Hugos existance. But from all I have seen, disqualifications aren’t secret, a lot of people would have known.
        And the answer Ringo quotes sounds like me as a fananswer who was asked why he (or she) didn’t nominate John Ringo.

        Liked by 2 people

      • “Also, the objection he says was raised makes no sense for 2001. ”

        You’re right, the way Ringo describes it – ‘But John, you’ve been writing FOREVER.’ – makes no sense. (I suppose it’s plausible that he had – or someone thought he had – a short story sale much earlier. But in that case the name of the story would almost certainly have come up.)

        The complaint rhymes with a general trend among the puppies, of not bothering to check the actual rules. Ringo grumbles in 2013, and claims to have grumbled in 2001, but ultimately his story is “they where wrong about how long I’d been a writer and that’s unfair but there’s nothing I could do about it”. It’s as if he’s unaware of the specific eligibility rules, and thinks admins simply make a subjective choice about whether someone counts as a “new writer”.

        “Ok but where would it have been made public? ”

        The statistics document from 2015 includes ineligible works and people on the nomination longlist, with a note on why they were ruled to be ineligible. The document for 2002 does the same, and I’m fairly certain I’ve seen it for other years as well.

        But this doesn’t happen every year, and 2001 http://www.thehugoawards.org/content/pdf/2001HugoStatistics.pdf is one of the years where no ineligible works are listed. I can’t say for certain if this is because noone of the top 5 nominees got disqualified those years, or because the admins removed ineligible works or artists from the list before they wrote it up. But … I’d guess the former.

        Liked by 1 person

        • There are records of a couple dozen disqualifications prior to 2001, and half of them are for the Campbell (unsurprisingly, since pre-internet it would have been extremely difficult to determine eligibility, and even today, it’s not easy). That, and the fact that there were a couple of disqualifications listed in 2002 is not proof, but is certainly indicative, that there were no disqualifications in 2001. The Hugos had a 25-year history of openly listing disqualifications at that point.

          Here are the other reasons I think that Ringo has confabulated this:

          “I had twice the votes for the John Campbell nomination in 2001 as the next highest person. Mine were ‘thrown out’ since I was ‘ineligible.’”

          He’s saying he knows how many nominations he had. Since no disqualification was published, the only way he would have known that is if the Hugo Admins had told him. But while the Hugo Admins might contact someone to ask for proof of eligibility (can you tell us what Campbell-eligible work you’ve had published in the last 2 years?), when they already have evidence of Campbell ineligibility they don’t ever contact someone to tell them that they have been disqualified, they just disqualify the person/work and note it in the final statistics.

          And if he’d contacted them after the fact, and they’d said, “Yes, you were disqualified, but we didn’t list it in the published results”, I think there would have been a bit of a ruckus at the time, because a non-trivial number of Worldcon members would have been pissed off that they weren’t given all the information: if that disqualification hadn’t been revealed, what else was not revealed? No, that would not have gone over well at all.

          It just doesn’t make sense that if a disqualification had been made, it wouldn’t have also been made public.

          I was told ‘But John, you’ve been writing FOREVER.’ ‘My first book came out last year. I’ve published six in this time but my first book was in 2000.’

          Cam has pointed out the same thing I was thinking: Ringo specifically says he’d published 6 books by that point – but by 2002 he’d only published 5 and had only published 6 by 2003. Either way that points to a conversation in 2003, when he probably was not eligible.

          So there you have evidence that Ringo (at best) has his memories mixed up from different years, or (at worst) has made up a story to fit his narrative without going back and getting the supporting facts straight.

          And the Hugo Admins would never tell a Campbell/Astounding nominee they had been disqualified because “you’ve been writing FOREVER”. They’d have said “You were disqualified because you had Book X or Story Y published in Year Z, which makes you ineligible”. The Hugo Admins don’t guess about eligibility. If they disqualified someone for the Campbell/Astounding Award, it will be because they knew that person is not eligible. (That Ringo thinks this accusation of the Hugo Admins is plausible is a clear indication that he really does not understand how the Hugo Award process works.)

          So Ringo’s story just doesn’t ring true in any sense. The Hugo Admins had always noted disqualifications on the final results, so why would they have done differently in that particular year? And they would only have disqualified him if they’d had proof of his ineligibility, not because they thought “he’d been writing FOREVER”. And at the point he had published 6 books, it would have been 2003, and he would no longer have been eligible.

          Now… if you consider that, as StefanB has suggested, Ringo’s hazy memories are instead of being told by X fans that they nominated him (so he thought he knew how many nominations he had — never mind all the possible reasons that fans might tell an author that, when they actually hadn’t 🙄 ), and being disappointed at being told by other fans that they hadn’t put him on the ballot because they thought “he’d been writing FOREVER”, it starts to sound more likely that he was surprised and hurt at not being on the Campbell ballot in 2001, and over the years, has confabulated that from a failure of his fans to nominate him in sufficient quantities into a deliberately malicious disqualification by the Big Bad Hugo Admins.

          Liked by 4 people

          • The twist (spoilers for later chapters) is Larry ‘auditing’ the Hugo votes as a consequence of this belief that there were admin level vote shenanigans. To be fair to Larry, he did give the votes a clean bill of health.

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      • @JJ: His fans probably *thought* he’d been writing forever since he’d been in the Bar forever. So they didn’t nominate him. Honest mistake, before we had all these online databases.

        Worldcon has *always* documented and publicly announced Hugo disqualifications and withdrawals. It was quite the uproar when Connie Willis was declared ineligible for the then-Campbell for one crappy story years before she burst on the scene. But them’s the rules, and it certainly didn’t damage either her career or her Hugo record going forward.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I have my doubts about recollections from more than ten years ago. I really think there would have been a fuss made about Ringo’s disqualification if it had really happened in 2000. The more so if he really had that many nominations (which seems unlikely) – and where did he get the figures from? Or could he be talking about a later year and got the dates confused? Although I haven’t seen any better evidence of that happening.

    The twenty year old memories are less implausible but really don’t say much.

    On another point, I was less in contact with fandom in 2007 so I wonder about the reaction to the promotion of Baen among fans in general – or if, as I suspect, there wasn’t much of one. I think that is worth noting for comparison to the reaction to the later Puppy campaigns. I particularly note the disavowal of slating – which is an important difference,

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      • Thinking about it “twice the votes” of the “next highest person” is a slightly odd phrase. Especially when we consider the numbers. Unless Ringo meant that he got 2 votes. Which is plausible but makes the eligibility question just a bit moot,

        Liked by 1 person

        • And as these votes aren’t recorded anywhere that I can see, how would he know? He has a second complaint about being cheated out of a Hugo by admins (not in this chapter because of the time period of events) which also implied he knew exactly how many people voted for him.

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        • Also, Ringo specifically says he’d published 6 books by that point – but by 2002 he’d only published 5 and had only published 6 by 2003. Either way that points to a conversation in 2003, when he probably was not eligible.

          Liked by 2 people

      • Looking at the 2003 numbers the “twice the votes” claim still isn’t plausible (except for very low numbers of votes). I think that was essentially made up. Maybe it was just idle speculation about the number of votes he might have had. I don’t see any reason to think that it was based on actual knowledge – not even knowledge of the published numbers of votes.

        Click to access 2003HugoStatistics-Nominating.pdf

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  4. As a Facebook refusenik, footnote 5 takes me to John Ringo complaining about Scalzi winning a Hugo, which doesn’t seem to relate to the quoted paragraph.

    Footnote 6 wants me to log in to WordPress rather than straight to your blog entry.

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  5. Typo: Lois McMasters Bujold -> McMaster

    I’ve said elsewhere that the sorts of books that tend to win Hugos are innovative (but not so innovative that they are avant garde, but regularly tending toward the ‘literary’). Baen’s output doesn’t overlap much with that because many Baen books are the latest edition of a long-running series, and/or are ‘Good Old-Fashioned Science Fiction’, so not likely to be nominated let alone win. Bujold really stands out as an exception: Hugo-winning Baen books that are part of a long-running series.

    Liked by 6 people

  6. It’s fascinating to me how Flint and Drake both blame the identity of their publisher for their failure to win Hugos. Don’t get me wrong, they’re both solid writers. I’ve read many of their books over the years, and bought more than a few. But to me they’ve seemed more like the equivalent of solid ‘B’-movie makers: capable of entertaining you when you’re reading them, but not much more than that. But thinking that what they were publishing was better than Connie Willis, or Neil Gaiman or Lois McMaster Bujold or even J.K. Rowling, for gods’ sake, is just fucking nuts. At the end of the day it’s chug-chug-chug pew-pew stuff much more reminiscent of pre-New Wave SF in the day of John Campbell than anything since.

    If you want to get peeved about someone getting stiffed by the Hugos, why not Iain fucking Banks? Or Bruce Sterling? Or Martha Wells during her lean years? Or Walter Jon Williams? To name just a few.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think for most of the writers it is a combination of 2 thinks:
      1. Ego
      2. Not really knowing about the field.

      It is easy to make a list of writers who are overlooked at the Hugos. It is in the nature of every award that they have this.
      Worldconmembers hate Bean is the easy answer. Why would be (even if you think it is true) the more interesting question.
      If the work of a writer is so good, why is it ignored by the voters, is a question that is a better question.
      I can’t talk about Ringo, never read a work of him. Didn’t help that the first work I was aware of his, was his collobaration with Tank Marmot.
      I think there is at last one publisher that any work published there, will have trouble getting noticed by most Hugovoters, And it is probably better for the writers that nearly any Hugovoters don’t know their work exists. I don’t think Bean had that problem 2006, if they have it now, is a different question and will probably become a topic to watch out for in the rest of the year.

      Liked by 1 person

      • There are a lot of excellent books and writers ignored by Hugo voters. Sometimes this is due to writing in a subgenre that’s not popular among Hugo voters (see all the great urban fantasy writers who were flat out ignored in the 2000s, because Hugo voters didn’t read urban fantasy), sometimes it’s due to being published in a magazine which gets little attention or by a publisher that has little distribution. Sometimes, a book is puiblished in the UK or Australia or New Zealand, but the majority of Hugo voters are Americans and haven’t read it. Sometimes, it’s a case of a writer mainly writing in a long series, where both quality and popularity grew over time, only that book 5 or 8 or 12 in a series is unlikely to get nominated. The best series Hugo was supposed to counter the latter problem, but in practice doesn’t really seem to do that very effectively.

        Authors and books being overlooked by Hugo voters is not a conspiracy against author X, publisher Y or magazine Z, however. Nor is it a political issue.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Yeah, Ringo’s mixing up 2 of the years at best, or outright lying at worst. He probably feels it’s true, has come to believe it’s true, but truth does not equal truthiness.

    If there’s no record of him being nominated but later disqualified, it means he didn’t get any nominations, and his fans didn’t do what they were told. Which probably bruises his ego enough that he has to scream conspiracy.

    Baen and its rabid fans seem to have the idee fixe that sales equals award worthiness. Money uber alles*. This is a common RW problem.

    It’s like confusing the Oscars for the People’s Choice Awards.

    They’re both fine, but they’re aimed at different audiences.

    Again, I’m sure Jim’s nomination(s) were not for Ace per se, but for “Infinities”, which was a magazine. Not any books he might have edited.

    @mydog: What you said, every word of it. Including good writers who were snubbed.

    Sure, I enjoy much of Drake’s work, but I’d never dream of nominating it for a Hugo or Nebula, just like I wouldn’t nominate any “Fast and Furious” movie for a Best Picture Oscar. Fast-moving action and very entertaining for a few hours, and you’d like the next one. But NOT an artistic work that requires much thought.

    * (My keyboard lacks diacritics. Sorry, Europeans.)

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    • It’s like confusing the Oscars for the People’s Choice Awards.

      Some of the Pups have been very mad about the Oscars as well. I distinctly remember JCW’s wife L. Jagi Lamplighter (a bush league author in her own right) complaining about how the Oscar’s don’t give awards to big moneymaking movies any more.

      When I pointed out that the Oscar winners over the decade before her tirade were almost all among the top grossing films the year they were released, she was basically reduced to complaining that The Hurt Locker had won and that was evidence that the Oscars were rotten, or something.

      She was incoherent, just like her spouse often is, and like she has been pretty much every time I have run across her.

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    • This is exactly the part that the Puppies largely didn’t get. The Hugos are voted on by attending and non-attending nominating members of WSFS. Those members tend to be older, liberal, and more focused on different lines of sci-fi. So of course the Hugos has a bias towards work that reflects the interests and valuation of the voting body. If LibertyCon had a fan award, I’m sure libertarian mil-sf writers would do significantly better than writers like Jemisin or Leckie. The only reason why the Hugos have the weight they do is that the WSFS various quirks and preferences have a really impressive track record in identifying works that have turned out to be enduring classics. It’s always why the lists each year have a scattering of decidedly mediocre works that align with the tastes of the WSFS audience and occasionally win. Their conspiracy is a paranoid’s inability to grasp different groups have different tastes and considering that Larry’s ilk regard WSFS with too much contempt and venom to every be part of it, it’s unlikely it will change to value the work they prefer anytime soon.

      Like you said, I’ve got a stack of Baen books on my shelf, but most of them are beach read stuff in my opinion; fun intersteller battles and post-apocalyptic fantasy. It’s like the stack of Star Wars tie-in novels. I’m a happy customer and buy them regularly, but I don’t consider them serious sci-fi by any measure. I certainly would never put them in the same league as what I’d consider a serious sci-fi author.

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  8. Oh, and at the time of Harlan’s whine, almost everyone (certainly the then-younger generation) rolled their eyes and thought “sour grapes”. Nobody “bought” an award. Nobody prevented Harlan from going online and asking for votes, or just upping his internet presence. Pure jealousy and wanting the kids to get off his lawn with their newfangled intarwebz.

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  9. All of these complaints are ridiculous. They are also perennial around awards, not a new thing in the oughts. They definitely show why the Puppies thought just making up a bunch of claims would somehow work for them.

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    • Indeed. Also there’s a lot of confusion between the Hugos and the Nebulas (even Harlan Ellison blurs the two in his video) – so claims about one get confused with the other

      Like

      • Harlan Ellison complaining about other authors promoting themselves is an impressive double standard. He was infamous for promoting himself and he made the complaint on a SF news television show, something fiction authors rarely get to do, because he had the advantage of also writing for Hollywood. Him being pissed because others authors had a platform with the Internet instead of him getting exclusive media access for being a screenwriter is one rare example of an actual cool club elite not wanting others to be able to go clubbing. But it’s Hollywood elitism, not author stuff.

        The Nebulas are voted on by a bunch of authors in an organization who don’t all know each other, don’t all necessarily like each other, often don’t bother to vote on the Nebulas and do indeed naturally have their own groups of friends within the SFWA. As such, there are going to sometimes be feuds or conflicts and they all have their own preferences, so claims of bias are a regular thing throughout the history of the awards. The Nebulas are basically like the Oscars — it’s a guild and the guild votes on who among them they think did a good job. But that’s not a matter of rigging anything.

        Sawyer complaining that HarperPrism didn’t help bang the drum for him on his Nebula nom since he had parted ways with them is perfectly valid. The claim that Tor tried to bribe author voters, however, making him the scrappy underdog, is silly aggrandizement. Authors, especially big names who might be influential with other authors, regularly get free ARC and copies of books from publishers. It’s one of the few perks but also authors often just don’t read them and give them away to others or libraries. The notion that Tor “bribing” SFWA authors by offering them four free books would be an effective threat to his chances doesn’t make any sense. Name awareness a little maybe but Sawyer was already an established SF author before he won the Nebula.

        The Hugos aren’t the Oscars or the People’s Choice Awards. They are more like the Hasty Pudding Awards, though someone can win it more than once. While some authors are Hugo voters and there are voters who try to regularly vote, the make-up of the Hugo voters is much more broadly variable. It depends on where the convention is held, where it was held the year before, how much the non-attending membership costs (it’s gone up in cost,) which award it is since only a few get much voting attention, etc. As such, it’s really hard to manipulate, as we’ve already discussed.

        But it’s also affected by what’s well known in the market, particularly for the Best Novel award. Big magazines tend to win over smaller ones most of the time, editors of magazines whose names were right there and known to magazine readers who voted tended to get nominated and win over book editors people didn’t know — unless they were magazine and anthology editors like Hartwell and Baen himself — which is why Gardner won for a decade. When an author gets nominated and maybe wins one of the major fiction awards or the former Campbell Award, that name then gets more known to Hugo voters and so some authors do win/nom repeatedly for a span of years before being gradually replaced by new authors. That looks like a pattern but it’s just a pattern of name recognition of the times mixed with genuine regard for the particular stories.

        Tor sold itself to a corporate publisher, then was part of another and became the big SFF imprint of that corporation, putting out lots of books, distributing them internationally, having lots of bestsellers. On average, most of their authors were better known to SFF fans who might go to WorldCon than Baen’s. And while Baen offered its backlist online early, Tor eventually set up an easy access magazine to short fiction and novellas, which none of the other big corps really did, and that leads readers to the book works of the authors they read online. If we say that Baen’s Bar and online efforts have been effective PR, why is then Tor’s equally effective access and PR strategies somehow different?

        The claim that you can’t get a Hugo being published with Baen was obviously untrue because Baen authors won Hugos. Only a handful of authors ever get noms or wins and Baen was in there. Bujold is not imaginary. Secondary world fantasy authors have routinely been told they can’t get award noms and wins, ditto urban fantasy writers, space opera writers, military SF writers, alternate history, etc. But sometimes authors who write those things do get award noms and wins, including of the Hugos. Hugo voters don’t have set preferences and most readers of fiction pay very little attention to the publisher name on the spine of books. Some might remember Baen Books by the style of covers — which was one reason Baen did it — but let’s face it, we usually have to look it up to see if a work has been published by Ace, Orbit, Voyager, Roc or Del Rey. We don’t remember.

        The Puppies claimed that authors were cheating, rigging the Hugo vote, or at least doing voting slates and “proved” it by running their own voting slate and bringing in ringer voters from Gamergate. But they never proved in the least that other groups of authors were running actual voting slates, much less tampering with the Hugo votes as a con. All they did was show that there was a loophole where the honor system had been invoked and the Puppies refused to honor it. And they continually tried to paint the Hugos and WorldCon as the same thing and type of award as the Nebulas and SFWA — a guild award. And they did that exactly so they could push the cool club clique rigged the Hugos myth, whether it made sense or not. That and because Beale wanted to destroy the SFWA.

        Liked by 2 people

        • //The claim that you can’t get a Hugo being published with Baen was obviously untrue because Baen authors won Hugos. Only a handful of authors ever get noms or wins and Baen was in there//

          Also, the authors who regularly published with Baen but also with other publishers, weren’t winning Hugos with those other publishers either. The books David Weber publish with Tor don’t win Hugos (although they do win Dragons)

          Liked by 2 people

      • Harlan Ellison was the guy who called up a member of the committee for the 1965 Worldcon in London at 3 AM her time to yell at her that Best Dramatic Presentation wasn’t on the Hugo ballot that year, because he had two episodes of either The Twilight Zone or Outer Limits that were eligible. The poor woman tried to explain to him that no one in the UK had seen those shows yet and therefore couldn’t vote for them.

        In the end, there was a Best Dramatic Presentation category on the 1965 Hugo ballot with two finalists, The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao and Doctor Strangelove or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Dr. Strangelove won and Harlan Ellison wasn’t even on the ballot.

        Still, not even a puppy has gone as far as harrassing a Worldcon committee member at 3 AM in the morning yet.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Yeah, I remember seeing that TV show live as it aired. NOBODY else in the running for Hugos and Nebulas had their own weekly TV show as a platform. Talk about advertising! TV was much more important (and online less) than now.

        This added to the eye-rolling at the time, believe me.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I had a very unrealistic hope for this chapter that Cam would link to an old post that baffled me years ago and I would finally be able to add some details to an anecdote I have told a time or two. He did not, BUT! that is not a criticism of this chapter.

    This is a really good chapter. More! More!

    Now, to my personal bit: not many years before the actual affair of the melancholy canines, one of the sci fi blogs or forums I followed linked to a rant by somebody, I have never been able to remember who, but when I followed the link and read it, it was the very first time I ran into this assertion of the supposed boycott/conspiracy against conservative writers, specifically those who were published by Baen Books. My hazy recollection is that the person asserted that ALL of the sci fi fans who are also politically liberal HATED Baen Books and all the authors that wrote for them.

    Which I found completely and flabbergastingly unbelievable…

    Because I am an extreamly liberal sci fi fan, and I adored Baen Books! By which what I really mean is that one of the sci fi magazines I managed to convince my grandmothers to buy me subscriptions to back in the early 1970s was Galaxy edited by Jim Baen… and then many many years laters when adult me discovered Losi McMaster Bujold, I was buying all of her books published by Baen Books. And it was in one of those Bujold hardcovers that I first found a CD-ROM containly the Baen Free Library, which I thought was a BRILLIANT idea. And I happen to know that a large number of very liberal and queer sci fi fans of my personal acquaintance in that time period also thought Baen published stuff we wanted to read.

    For more decades than John Ringo has been alive, this queer, extremaly liberal sci fi fan has been a fan of Jim Baen and Baen Publishing.

    I’ve seen the evidence that Jim was homophobic and racist, and that disappoints me, but when these guys were first making the claim that all of us hated Baen, we most certainly didn’t. And I suspect that all of us are still able to make the distinction between the bigotry of some of the authors in the stable, and rest of the publishing house.

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    • Prior to the current uproar, I knew hardly anybody who blanket boycotts every book published by Baen, regardless of author. Most people buy Baen books by authors they like and don’t buy those they don’t care for, as with every other publisher.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Looks like the standard “Conservative” persecution narrative. They didn’t get something they wanted. They might have even been criticised for going after it in a nasty or underhanded way. And so they invent fantasies of unjust persecution to try and pretend that they’re the good guys.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. and a long with size, Tor also, “a long” should probably be “along”.
    Baen’s Bar forum over seen by Baen editor Toni, “over seen” should probably be “overseen”.

    Like

  12. This is of very minimal relevance to this post, or the wider Debarkle project, but given comments in prior threads, it may be of slight interest: I just ran some perfunctory analysis tools over this year’s Nebula reading lists, as found at https://www.sfwa.org/forum/reading/1-novel/

    Per the blurb on that page, the entries on that page have no relationship to actual Nebula nominations or voting – I guess it’s more like a collated eligibility list, but any SFWA members can add any book/story? Anyway, the top publishers in the novel category are:

    * Tor: 16 entries
    * Tor.com, Solaris, Harper Voyager, Saga Press: 4 entries each
    * Uproar Books, DAW, , Meerkat Press, Ace, Orbit: 3 entries each
    * Redhook, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Angry Robot, Del Rey, Ecco: 2 entries each

    Plus another 40-odd publishers with just 1 entry, including Baen.

    Caveats:

    * There’s some minor cleanup done to normalize slight inconsistencies in the values
    * These are not all caught though, e.g. “Orbit (US), Wildfire (UK)” and “Gollancz/Saga” haven’t been included in the Orbit or Saga Press counts respectively
    * For those who hadn’t heard of “Uproar Books” either, it looks to be a small press that launched a couple of years ago. All 3 of its titles on the list are by the same author, and it looks like 2 entries are the same book just with a slightly different title. (It wouldn’t surprise me if there are other duplicates like that, but I’ve not gone through all 108 novels on the list.)

    I’ve got similar stats for the other categories, but won’t post them unless anyone expresses interest.

    Liked by 3 people

    • It’s not surprising that there aren’t a lot of Baen works on the list. I don’t know how many Baen authors were in SFWA a decade ago, but a significant number of those who were, left the organization after the SFWA Bulletin kerfuffle.

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        • It’s my perception that Gannon is a bit of a Mr. Congeniality who has built friendships with a lot of non-Baen SFWA members. Sadly, I think that the quality of his plotting and the tightness of his writing have gone steeply downhill in the last few years, and I gave up on his series after the third novel.

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      • To save anyone the need to look it up, the sole Baen representative on this year’s novel list is Nancy Kress’ The Eleventh Gate. Slightly ironically, it looks like the main publisher she’s been involved with over her career is Tor, although only they constitute roughly a third of her output.

        Baen did fare quite a bit better in last year’s SFWA/Nebula reading lists for novels, coming joint fourth place with Saga Press with 5 titles:

        * Accepting the Lance – Miller, Sharon Lee, Steve
        * Arkad’s World – Cambias, James
        * Flight of the Nightingale – Carrico, David
        * Marque of Caine – Gannon, Charles E.
        * Today I Am Carey – Shoemaker, Martin L.

        I can’t say I’m familiar with any of those – other than knowing that the Gannon was a finalist, and that people who read it generally didn’t see why it merited that honour – but none of them strike me as works fallowing into the more “extreme” stereotype of Baen output a la Correia/Kratman/Ringo/etc?

        Liked by 1 person

        • The Gannon is book 5 of the series I gave up on. I read the Cambias because I thought his first novel was absolutely amazing and his second novel very good (both were published with Tor), but Arkad’s World was really a dud.

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      • The Lee and Miller is one of their “Liaden” books, which they’ve been putting out for decades. Baen is their FOURTH publisher. They’re kind of an outlier like LMB — they have romance and sensitive yet manly men in-between the rocket ships, political intrigue out the wazoo, and ‘splosions.

        I still buy them, regardless of publisher because they aren’t assholes and they have talent. And they own several giant floofy credentials, native to their home of Maine.

        Liked by 2 people

      • The Carrico Flight of the Nightengale is another sequel in Flint’s 1632/Ring of Fire series. I read it. It was fine: Ren-faire steampunkish adventure.

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      • One of the things I’ll try to do over the next few days is to compare that SFWA/Nebula list against the Goodreads/Hugo list that Contrarius administers, which is based on votes from Goodreads users, to see if there are any interesting commonalities or differences. Both have roughly the same number of entries, so you’d hope they’re comparable – although it’s possible there’ll be more manual data-cleanup required than I can be bothered to do.

        My guess is that the bulk of those lists will be similar, with the differences being down to which self-promoting authors are members of SFWA, versus which are active on Goodreads. (NB: as I understand it, SFWA members are absolutely allowed – and possibly even recommended? – to add their own works to those reading lists – but actual Nebula nominations are another matter entirely – so that shouldn’t be taken as a criticism of any authors who do add their books to any of those lists.)

        Liked by 2 people

        • //as I understand it, SFWA members are absolutely allowed – and possibly even recommended? – to add their own works to those reading lists//

          Unless it’s Richard Fox, in which case it is an evil pirate plot or something

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  13. I stooped to asking my commentariate: I was thinking of Thomas Disch’s “The Labor Day Group”, published in F&SF in Feb 1981.

    Liked by 2 people

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