Debarkle Chapter 19: SP1—How to get Correia Nominated for a Hugo

Cue plaintive sad background music:

“Hello. I’m Larry Correia, and I need your help. You too can tell stuffy literati types to go screw themselves.”

After his successful bid to be a finalist for the Astounding (aka Campbell) Award in 2011, Larry Correia made a second bid to be nominated for a Hugo Award in 2012. The post listed his book Hard Magic as well as some works by other authors as well as the blog Elitist Book Reviews and the podcast Writing Excuses for Best Related Work. As with his 2011 post, the main criteria for inclusion was that they were people he knew.

The post had no obvious impact on the final nominations, possibly because Correia had not posted his request until after the deadline for memberships with nominating privileges had passed. Writing Excuses was a finalist but it would probably have been nominated regardless, similarly Schlock Mercenary‘s listing for Best Graphic Story. More significantly, Correia’s friend Brad Torgersen was a finalist for Best Novelette and for the Campbell/Astounding Award for Best new writer[1]. However, Torgersen had been a winner in the 2011 Analog Reader’s Poll, so may well have been a finalist regardless[2].

On January 8 2013, with his blog receiving more attention than ever after his Opinion on Gun Control post, Larry Correia made a third attempt to persuade people to nominate him for a Hugo Award.

“The Hugo awards are the most prestigious thing you can get in sci-fi/fantasy (other than fat royalty checks, obviously). Getting nominated for a Hugo is a great resume builder. I was a finalist for the Campbell award for best new writer a couple of years back, and though the Campbell is a separate award from the Hugo, it works through the same system, same voters, and is even given away at the same ceremony. Going through that experience was very enlightening.”

Larry had learnt from the previous year and let his readers know that if they wanted to nominate then they would need to purchase a supporting membership before the end of the month. Larry also added an us-versus-them narrative to his nomination request:

‘The fact that I write unabashed pulp action that isn’t heavy handed message fic annoys the literati to no end. When I got nominated for the Campbell, the literati message-fic crowd had a conniption fit. A European snob reviewer actually wrote “If Larry Correia wins the Campbell, it will END WRITING FOREVER.”’


As discussed in earlier chapters there is little indication of any fits (conniption or otherwise) nor any reviewer claiming he would end writing forever but it was a clever line. Correia also added a more practical incentive.

“In previous years, in order to have informed voters, they’ve sent out the “Hugo Voter’s Packet” which includes eBooks of every nominees’ stuff. This isn’t just best novel, but all the Campbell nominees’ books, all the short stories, novellas, novelettes, all of the supporting works, comic books, graphic novels, supporting works, and pretty much all of that. Heck, I got Schlock Mercenary stuff last time!  Basically, you get more money worth of reading material than the cost of your supporting membership, plus exploding literati heads!


The Hugo packet was material collated by each years Worldcon from finalists to help members vote on the Hugo Awards. The 2013 packet would indeed contain a lot of great material[4]. The packet had become an established part of Hugo voting in 2009, having originally been organised by John Scalzi as a way of encouraging interest in the awards[5].

At this point, Larry Correia’s Hugo post was not very different from similar posts by other writers making their eligibility known. In particular, John Scalzi’s “award pimpage” posts[6]. However, Correia was determined to make this a bit more of a campaign than he had in 2012. He followed up his first post with a second one:

“As promised, I will continue to bug you guys about this until the end of the month. If you are not aware of my life-quest to make literati critics spontaneously combust, please read this first:”

The post went on to be framed as a kind of public service announcement with a link to a sad song by the performer Sarah MacLachlan who had also recorded a song for the SPCA about helping abandoned pets. After a genuinely amusing contrast between pulp novelists pitted against college English departments, Correa went on to say:

“For as little as $60 you can become a voting member of WorldCon and nominate something awesome and filled with dragons, explosions, guns, heroism, actual good and evil, and a plot where stuff actually happens. And unlike Sarah McLachlan’s sad puppy commercial, your donation also gets you a whole big ton of free eBooks and all of the nominated works, worth more than the cost of joining.”


But as well as asking people to vote for him, Larry Correia promised that he would be listing in a future post other things “which normally don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning” on his site for his readers to consider.

He finally concluded:

“So please tell your friends. I will continue to bug you about this for the rest of the month. Do not make me play the sad puppy song again…”


At the end of February he added a third post:

“Okay, for the many of you who I talked into registering to nominate/vote for the Hugos with my relentless onslaught of sad puppies, by now you should have received an email with your PINs for voting. (I just got mine last night). Now, obviously I want everybody to vote for what they think is the best in each category. I’m not going to tell anybody what to do. If you think some particular book/story is absolutely amazing, then put it up.”

In that post, he listed some suggestions for other categories and solicited a few more from readers in the comments. That post was followed up another on March 2, suggesting Hank Reinhardt’s posthumous book on knives for Best Related Work[8]. This was followed on March 6 with a single sentence reminder to vote. Although the term “sad puppies” in reference to the SPCA advert theme had cropped up in earlier posts, this short post is the first time it is capitalised, with Correia referring to the campaign as ‘my Sad Puppies posts’.

The final ‘Sad Puppies post’ of the campaign was on March 9 the day before nominations closed with just a short reminder in a longer update post on other topics.

Although the first two posts had an emphasis on confounding literary snobs, the main emphasis had been firstly on voting for Correia’s Monster Hunter Legion but also on signing up as supporting members. Correia had suggested other works and had encouraged other suggestions but there was no formal slate or any serious attempt to coordinate votes. Nor was there much in the way of politics aside from a dig at works with “heavy-handed message fic about the dangers of fracking and global warming and dying polar bears and robot rape as a bad feminist analogy with a villain who is a thinly veiled Dick Cheney”.

It wasn’t that Larry Correia did not feel politically frustrated with the culture of SF&F fandom. On March 13, not long after nominations closed, Correia posted on his blog a long, rambling thread of comments from Facebook in which he, Brad Torgersen and Baen authors Tom Kratman and Michael Z Williamson argued with some internet “liberals”. It was not a high-quality argument and hard to summarise. Any single quote is very much out of context and much of it is about who said what first. For the full context, you would need to read the whole thread, however, I want to quote some parts of it to highlight not the back-and-forth of the discussion but to pick out some themes from Larry Correia that would arise in later versions of the Sad Puppy campaigns. For example:

“When I got nominated for the Campbell award the literati had a complete come apart, up to and including “if Larry Correia wins the Campbell it will ruin writing forever” and then, interestingly enough, I started getting smeared everywhere. About what? Not my writing, but rather, my politics. (see, I owned a machinegun store before I ever became a writer so I’ve always been out of the closet). Then I had people voting against me who’d never even read a single one of my eligable works, simply because I was a right winger.”

As previous chapters of Debarkle have discussed, there’s little evidence of this and Correia changes the unsubstantiated quote from “end writing forever” to “ruin writing forever”. Correia’s surprise at the political pushback on social media (such as it was) to his own political views on social media will be a recurring theme. For a long period of time (literally from 1998) much of his pronouncements about guns and politics had been within RKBA-themed online forums[9]. Those forums were not politically homogeneous but as general environments, they were sympathetic to his positions and style of argument. On Facebook and within spaces orientated around books and fandom, Correia was encountering a much broader range of political viewpoints and modes of argument.

Correia also repeatedly uses the term “SMOF”. The acronym (for “Secret Masters of Fandom”) is used within fandom both as joking conspiracy theory and as a term-of-art for people who do the leg work in organising conventions. For example, an aside in the post (indicated in bold to show it wasn’t part of the original thread), Correia combines multiple issues that had been bothering him:

“No. Seriously. Bacigalupi is a communist who thinks mankind is a scourge on mother earth. So it is sadly ironic that his politics are far less controversial than mine in SMOFdom.  Man, I wish that this thread had happened before my Sad Puppies campaign.  “

ibid [11]

April rolled around and with it disappointment for Larry Correia:

“So the Sad Puppies Hugo stacking campaing was a success for almost everybody else I pushed, but me, as we didn’t get enough to break MHL into best novel. It will be interesting to see how close we got when the numbers come out after the awards.”

More popular picks from the suggestions listed had made it to the ballot. Once again the podcast Writing Excuses was a finalist, as was the graphic novel Schlock Mercenary. Brandon Sanderson was not only a finalist but would end up winning Best Novella for The Emperor’s Soul as well as Writing Excuses actually winning Best Related Work[12]. This win for Sanderson/Wells/Taylor/Kowal podcast was also a sort of tangential win for Larry Correia who had been a guest at a live broadcast at the Life, The Universe and Everything writer’s convention in Utah in 2012[13]. Another positive in the set of finalists for Correia, was Baen Publisher Toni Weisskopf in the Best Editor Long Form category. She would not win in the final vote but did come second in the run-offs with the Hugo going to Patrick Nielsen Hayden of Tor. However, Correia’s own novel fell just short — getting sufficient votes to be listed at the top of the long list of nominated works that didn’t make the finals[14].

The “SMOF” theme from his Facebook thread (see above) was continued in his post on the nominations:

“My friends at Elitist Book Reviews are nominated, and deserve a win for having the best review place on the internet. If they lose, it will be because somebody in SMOFdom discovered I like them.”


In fact, Elitist Book Reviews would come last out of the five finalists (but above No Award in the run-off).

Correia would go on:

“And for those of you that follow this stuff, it is pretty much what you expect, as in a big SMOF popularity contest where various people with lots of WorldCon factions politicking for them are insta-noms, and everybody else is shut out. Luckily, only one of the nominees for best novel is a dying polar bear story of global warming sadness and evil capitalism, which would normally win, but it will surely lose to Scalzi, who is liberal blogger who happens to write books too, and God help us if they ever start doing Doctor Who novelizations because that will be your five nominees a year.”


Doctor Who novelisations by this point were older as a publishing phenomenon than Larry Correia[15]. The antipathy towards Doctor Who was due to the popularity of the revived series among Hugo voters, leading to multiple nominations in the Best Dramatic Short Form category as well as a related work nomination for a book about the series.

Correia would go on to use an apparently bitter tone about the other Best Novel finalists:

“For the other Best Novel noms, Lois Bujold is awesome, but she’s won like 8 Hugos. Mira Grant is cool as heck. In person, she’s really great, and I like her, but notice that since she is beloved by SMOF, she is nominated in every Hugo category except Car of the Year. Saladin’s a nice guy, and beloved by SMOF (we were up for the Campbell at the same time), but I’m predicting he’ll come in last, becasue this is his only book and he’s not built up a huge SMOF backer faction yet, but just having nominated a guy with an ethnic name will make the SMOFers feel all warm and tingly inside and good about themselves, so that’ll be enough for them. (Note, I’m not actually placing any bets that the voters actually read all the works).”


It is interesting that there is no indication that Larry Correia himself had read any of these works. For example, he is quick to dismiss Saladin Ahmed’s nomination as being due to his ethnic name but had not engaged with his book to see if, perhaps, it was really good. In fact, Mira Grant’s Blackout came last after Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon in the run-offs. Grant aka Seanan McGuire had indeed secured a record-breaking five nominations in four categories under her two writing names.

In the comments, Kevin Standlee (a long term Worldcon volunteer and at the time Chair of the WSFS Mark Protection Committee[16], pushed back on some of Correia’s SMOF-conspiracy theories.

“I think you significantly overstate the significance of the SMOFS (“Secret Masters of Fandom”), which represent the perhaps 500 (at most) people who actively are involved in the organization and operation of Worldcon and who take an active interest in the rules of the World Science Fiction Society.
1. They don’t form a monolithic bloc, no matter what you seem to think. We (and I’d count myself among them) argue incessantly. Go look at the video of the past couple of WSFS Business Meetings (links to which are on the website) and you’ll see just the tip of the iceberg of the debates.
2. There were over 1300 people nominating this year, which is a lot more than the total number of people who could be considered “insiders.”
3. All it takes to be a SMOF is to work hard and get involved. Remember that 90% of success consists of showing up.”

The idea that things were happening because of just organic actions by Hugo voters rather than because of behind-the-scenes shenanigans was not something Larry Correia could wholly accept. Discussing the issue of Doctor Who again, Correia predicted that Writing Excuses was bound to lose despite being “insanely popular” and “very helpful” because it was up against “Chicks Unravel Time: Women Journey Through Every Season of Doctor Who” in Best Related Work. To support this claim Correia pointed out:

“The one time there was a threat of a big upset was when Game of Thrones (Martin is another favorite with his own big fan faction) was going up against Doctor Who (not only that, but another fan favorite-Neil Gaiman directed episode!) So all of a sudden Game of Thrones wound up in a different category that year, and all the TV episodes together became long form, that way they could both win their respective Hugos and everybody was happy. Except for every other TV production team in the world that doesn’t have a Hugo Faction in place.”

This was a sort of funhouse mirror version of events. The first season of the HBO adaptation of George R R Martin’s Game of Thrones had in 2012 received more nominations as a whole series for Best Dramatic Presentation Long Form than any single episode had for Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form that year. Correia’s version of events was even more absurd because in 2013 (the year now in question) the opposite had happened and a Game of Thrones episode was up against Doctor Who episodes.

Both Game of Thrones and Writing Excuses would beat their various Doctor Who challengers that year, defying Correia’s expectations.

Larry Correia’s specifics about the Hugo Award were often shaky and his claims poorly thought out. However, the general concern about the Hugo Awards was not confined to Correia. Author Harry Connolly expressed some mild disenchantment with the awards[17]. However, he was sharply critical of what Correia had said about Saladin Ahmed:

“That’s grade-A horseshit right there. However small the nominating pool was, whatever value should be placed on the Hugo itself, they nominated the man’s book because they liked the man’s book. Attributing it to “an ethnic name” is racist bullshit.”

Justin Landon at Staffers Book Reviews had stronger complaints than Connolly and more coherent ones than Correia.

“Looking at Correia and McGuire and the obvious (to me) impact they’ve had on the ballot leads me to believe that the Hugo Award, which has always been an insular convention award at its best moments, has become an easily manipulated (not maliciously mind you) process that provides undue efficacy to small and dedicated fan bases. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t particularly bear any ill will toward these fan bases, or the authors who engender them, but under this fundamentally flawed regime I ask myself. . . why does anyone care about the Hugos? Whys are often elusive, but the answer is they shouldn’t.”

Landon was describing better the issue that Correia was clouding with diversions about SMOFs. Fandom is made up of fans and fans tended to be fans of particular things. This is true almost by definition of what a fan is. The nomination system of the Hugo Awards asked members to list five things per category. A consequence of that was if there was a large majority of fans who liked, for example, Doctor Who then individual several individual Doctor Who episodes would gain more votes than other TV shows, even if the majority of voters didn’t nominate Doctor Who. This structural flaw in the process didn’t always produce a limited range of finalists but in some circumstances, it could.

Landon made clear that he did not believe anybody was acting maliciously but there was a problem and unspoken was the point that the problem was vulnerable to a group who were acting maliciously. What to do? Landon had a suggestion:

“The only solution is a complete excoriation of the existing Hugo bylaws, a reordering on par with the British Fantasy Award that collapsed under its own skein of controversy a year ago. Or. . . the formation of a new award at WorldCon, one that truly represents not the whims of voting blocs, but the genuine interests of forwarding the genre. This award should recognize all the various forms of contributions in all the ways the tired mechanisms of the Hugo fail to. To put it even more bluntly, it’s time for the most significant award in science fiction and fantasy be awarded not to the most convincing cult leaders in fandom, but to the individuals doing the best work. If we give a shit enough to try. Until then, I’m done talking about the Hugos”

Did science fiction need a very different kind of award than the Hugo Awards? Landon wasn’t the only person who thought so.

In March of 2012, Baen author and Heinlein devotee, Sarah Hoyt had proposed a new more positive style of science fiction that she called “Human Wave” as a kind of antidote to the New Wave of science fiction that had begun in the 1960s as a challenge to the style promoted by John W Campbell. In February of 2013 she was thinking about how this approach to writing could be better promoted:

Her essay firstly recapped what she meant by “Human Wave”:

“So, we’ve named the type of fiction we like – stories in which the human wins, or at least goes on fighting, and in which humans in general and often (gasp) Western Culture Subgroup humans are the good guys. Because we’re brats and pests, we named it Human WAVE to tweak the New Wave people as they drown in a morass of grey goo.”

After outlining some of the general issues with promoting a new literary movement, she advanced her core thesis:

“But the thing is in indie publishing, and in all publishing as it moves to Amazon and other electronic venues, being able to put on the cover a little seal that says “winner of the blah blah award” (we’re not calling it a blah blah award. No, you can’t talk me into it.) does give you a huge leg up. Most of the readers who are rediscovering SF (or anything else) because they can finally find stuff they want to read, see the Hugo and it doesn’t say to them “Award given by small group of people who attend Worldcon.” They see “Award” which means someone other than the author’s cat read this masterpiece and approved of – or at least finished—it. That means they’re twice as likely to buy it.”


Awards added kudos to a book and in a world where self-publishing ebooks had become viable, an award could help promote a book.

But were the Hugo Awards actually broken? After all, many of Larry Correia’s key predictions proved to be false in 2013. Was this just people observing the same generational transition from old to new that the Hugos had been experiencing since the 1960s? More relevantly, were the Hugo winners actually good?

To answer that question we have to read some books and what better book to read than the Hugo winning novel of the SFWA President?

Next Time: Redshirts by John Scalzi



101 responses to “Debarkle Chapter 19: SP1—How to get Correia Nominated for a Hugo”

  1. “If you are not aware of my life-quest to make literati critics spontaneously combust, please read this first:”” Ah, so it’s a variation of owning the libs.
    The Human Wave sounds like a Silver Age super-villain. And in fact, Sea Devils #7 in 1962 is titled “The Human Tidal Wave.”

    Liked by 3 people

    • The title reminds me of “The Human Front,” a story that Correia et al. would probably reject without reading, because it’s by a Scottish socialist. Or praise, again without reading, because the author has won the Prometheus Award. [Ken MacLeod, who is not the only Scottish socialist to have won the Prometheus Award.]

      Liked by 4 people

    • I actually read Sarah Hoyt’s Human Wave manifesto at the time, which means that I must have been aware of her at that point. I think I even started to write a response blogpost about hers and another manifesto from a completely different direction, which came out around the same time, but life got in the way and I never finished it. I suspect the draft may still be lurking somewhere on the server.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A European snob reviewer actually wrote “If Larry Correia wins the Campbell, it will END WRITING FOREVER.”’

    Is the author if this hyperbole known?


    • Larry Correia?
      “I do have little hesitation in putting Monster Hunter International last. It is relentlessly single-tone, derivative and predictable, and I can’t see how anyone could rank it above any of the other works included in the package. To an extent the John W. Campbell Award is about the future of the genre; books like this take us way back to the past, with the incidentals slightly jazzed up for the twenty-first century, and I think it would be embarrassing for the genre if Correia won on the basis of this.”

      is believed to be the origin of it.
      Following the link to the Scalzipimpage it is interesting, how many people who posted there and where later nominated from Sad Pupies 3, where in there and where still eligtable for the Cambell, so the puppycandidates had often a carrier less than 5 years.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Other than Correia’s histrionic posts about it, there is no evidence anyone said it, or anything even remotely close to it. It seems like it is something Correia basically made up and kept repeating a lot to push his dishonest narrative about the Hugo Awards.

      In reality, almost no one said much of anything about Correia or his writing when he was nominated for a Campbell, other than a handful of people saying his book just wasn’t very good. If one goes back to look at the contemporaneous reaction to Correia (as Cam has done), one finds that the general reaction was a shrug.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Most readers at the time really didn’t know who he was or give a flying fuck about his work. I forget now how I stumbled upon MHI but it wasn’t intentionally, nor did I know much about him. It’s only been in the past few decades that I’ve started researching the politics of writers more deeply.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I read MHI. I Can say that it’s one of the worst written novels that I’ve ever had the displeasure of encountering. On the off-chance that it was a fluke, i started the sequel when it came out. It was even worse. Even as pulp novels, they are abject failures. As Hugo the nominations, you’ve got to be kidding.

    Liked by 3 people

    • At some point close to this, I picked up the first MHI book and tried to read it. I had a few hours to kill, no transportation till then, and there was a B&N right there.

      I noped out pretty quickly. It was distasteful (which, horses for courses, but I have so many books and did I mention I was in a book store?) and so terribly written that even if it had aligned 100% with my personal tenets, I’d have dropped it and gone on to something pulpy but good.

      Note that I easily had enough time to read the whole thing… if I’d wanted to. I think I caught up on graphic novels instead.

      Also note that the previous credential was named for a Larry Niven character, so it’s not like I abjure everything by people whose politics I don’t agree with.

      Also also note that whenever I got one particular brother-in-law in the Christmas gift lottery, I always bought him shotgun shells.


      • I read MHI long before I knew anything about any of the politics, and I thought it was a lot of fun, though definitely heavy on the gun porn. But I started to get bored with the schtick in book 2, and I think I dnfed book 3.


  4. “Queue plaintive sad background music:” should be “Cue plaintive sad background music:” I think.


  5. Now I feel like giving my two cents in there. Larry is really bad in predicting the future. (I wouldn’t even try to predict who will win the Hugo, I will vote for what I like and find the reason if somethink else won, later or just shrug like one win last year)
    The fact that he did probably not read the nominees is telling. He didn’t even mention the winner Scalzis Redshirt and the KSRbook. (I find it interesting, that John Scalzi was very nice about Larry in his comments)
    Thanks for the quotes of Kevin Standlee (who is also there to educate people about the Hugos) and Harry Connolly, Landon reminds me of the discusion we had about creating other awards and ideasmen, not so bad as the others but in the same direction.
    I find it interesting, that Larry praises the Votingpackage, installed by the ‘evil’ Scalzi and seriously devaluated 2 years later, by his buddies Brad and Theo.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Justin Landon was part of a very loose group of left-leaning critics and bloggers who complained that the Hugos were not forward looking and progressive enough. As I said below, interestingly they often hated the same books as the future puppies, even though they were politically diametrically opposed. Interestingly, this faction, if you can call them that, has completely faded into the ether.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I suggest explaining SMOF the first time you say it, like: “SMOF (secret masters of fandom)”. Even though this whole thing is by definition aimed at people who have some level of curiosity about SFF insider stuff, that one will be pretty opaque to a lot of people. I know it’s spelled out in the Standlee quote but that’s quite a bit later.


  7. It’s amazing how actually reading the work never comes up in any of this. I did read the Ahmed book well after the fact (this predates my entering fandom) and enjoyed it, although it wouldn’t have made my nominations. I’d also read CVA and Redshirts, and either would’ve been very worthy winners. And that’s the important part, not who doesn’t get a nomination! But such a thought never enters their minds.

    Liked by 4 people

      • The Sad Puppies as a group are almost completely illiterate about about the SFF body of work that they claim to be a part of. I doubt that Larry is even aware of one in twenty of the nominated works for Best Hugo Novel in any given year, let alone has read deep on the list. I make this claim based on what they write for fiction — if this is what they write, it’s likely what like as well.

        Liked by 3 people

      • @Cat: It’s the same reason the Sads had to keep redefining the supposed Golden Age of Nutty Nuggets SF that they were only trying to revive – no matter what decade they picked, it turned out they hadn’t read any of that era’s SF, either.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’m not even sure that they’ve read each other’s works. I am sure that they as a group that they are the most ignorant group of people that I’ve ever encountered when it comes to the subject matter being discussed. I remember when JDA claimed that his books outsold those of Scalzi and the Puppies wholeheartedly agreed Ed with him. Anyone could disprove that using Amazon sales rankings.

          Liked by 2 people

          • @Cat —

            ” I am sure that they as a group that they are the most ignorant group of people that I’ve ever encountered when it comes to the subject matter being discussed.”

            I still fondly remember how hard I laughed a couple of years ago when one well-known-to-this-crowd puppy type bragged to me that he read as many as 12 sff books every year. And he thought he knew the genre!


  8. However, Correia’s own novel did not even get sufficient votes to be listed among the long-list of nominated works [14].

    This is incorrect. MHL was 6th on the longlist with 101 nominations, missing the ballot to the 5th-place work by 17 nominations.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s been somewhat forgotten, considering the puppy years came right afterwards, but the 2013 Hugo finalists did cause a lot of controversy at the time.And the majority of the complaints came not from the right – Correia was the exception – but from cranky, mostly male left-leaning critics who disliked the 2013 Hugo finalists for being not forward looking enough. And yes, there was misogyny involved and particularly the complaints about Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant and Lois McMaster Bujold took a turn towards the nasty. Those left-leaning critics also hated the many nominations for Doctor Who and in general quite often disliked the same books/TV shows the puppies/future puppies disliked, even though they were politically opposed.

    I blogged quite extensively about this controversy as well as about a controversy about an all-male Clarke Awards shortlist at the time. Going through my blog archives, I found six posts about the 2013 Hugos and also finally a mention of Larry Correia.

    The next year, Sad Puppies 2 managed to push Larry Correia, Brad Torgersen and Vox Day (and Dan Wells) onto the Hugo ballot and the debate exploded. Meanwhile, the cranky left-leaning critics mostly faded away and stopped blogging and their complaints were largely forgotten, because the entire genre came together against the puppies. The Sharkes were probably the last hurray of that very loose group.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, basically the start of the Redshirts chapter carries right on from the end of the SP1 chapter (and also, your first guest appearance!) and looks at the concern around the Hugos sort-of seperately from Correia.

      Correia’s stuff was more of a footnote to people’s concerns, so if I put all of that in the SP1 chapter it would look he was the centre of it when he wasn’t. So I’m recapping 2013 unhappiness with Hugos as a lead in to a deep dive into Redshirts and the ways it is and isn’t a good Hugo winner – with maybe a side on Seanan McGuire’s nominations (two minds about that – part of the angst at the time but with hindsight it was more of a blip than a trend)

      Liked by 1 person

  10. It’s so inconvenient for Larry that his rants about “pwning teh libs” were indeed from the start and are still online.

    And there couldn’t have been an organized campaign against Larry, Braddles, et nauseam because hardly anyone had heard of them, and them what had nominated them for a Campbell.

    They’d do anything rather than admit people just didn’t think they were the best writers of the category.

    I mean, Larry and Braddles both got worse as time went along in terms of pure writing ability, and would have been “who he?” at this point if they hadn’t declared a jihad.

    The anti-Doctor Who stance is particularly puzzling. What’s wrong with a long-beloved SF/F/H show getting nominated? It has lots of monsters too!

    Liked by 2 people

      • Oh, yes! That as well – specifically the BRW in question being specifically about women liking Doctor Who (luckily Larry & Brad didn’t know about the history of Star Trek fandom!!!!)

        Liked by 2 people

      • (luckily Larry & Brad didn’t know about the history of Star Trek fandom!!!!)
        Who’s going to tell them about slash fic?

        Liked by 1 person

        • I don’t think that either of them has been connected to fandom at all in any meaningful since ever. It’s the reason they’ve got such a mercenary approach to Hugos as something that sells books s opposed to something done as a token of deep appreciation from fans to creators for a job well done. I’ve never bought a book because it’s won a Hugo — I have bought many a novel because of the discussion on File 770 on why it should win a Hugo.

          The process around picking a Hugo is more important than the actual Hugo itself. That community process is the Puppies never grokked. But they’re not really into community, are they being rugged individuals to their cores?

          Liked by 2 people

    • What was wrong with Doctor Who was that it was new and weird and foreign and he didn’t watch AND (and most importantly) he thought his friend’s podcast would lose to it. He was rationalising a defeat as being illegitimate before it had even happened (and in the end it didn’t happen, because Writing Excuses was good and people liked it)

      Liked by 2 people

      • TBF, the Hugos did have a bit of a Doctor Who problem for the first ten years of the revival. Too many nominations. Between 2006 and 2014 the shortlist seems to be about 60% Doctor Who and it gets six rockets. It’s overwhelming and surely must have been squeezing out other valid shows.
        Since then GoT broke the run and now things look a lot more balanced.


        • The rules change to allowing max 2 episodes of any series certainly helped with that, as did requiring creators to choose between a LF nom for a whole series vs 1-2 SF noms for episodes in that season.


    • Doctor Who has a pretty substantial gay following, too – Russell Davies specifically alludes to it in “Queer as Folk”, and it’s widely supposed, at least, that he got the go-ahead to do the reboot after the success of that particular show. The Doctor’s propensity towards finding non-violent solutions probably doesn’t sit well with the gun nuts, either.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Indeed, hence the even-more-make-puppies-head-explode 2014 Best Related Work “Queers Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the LGBTQ Fans Who Love It”

        I genuinely believe that Pups think people are trying to troll them i.e. people voted as way of making them feel angry and hence revenge was justified. Delusional nonsense.

        Liked by 3 people

        • Except that most folk really, as I’ve said before, didn’t give a flying fuck what the Puppies thought. They nominated and voted for what they genuinely liked. In that, they truly do resemble the SJW companion animals that Puppies malign so often.

          Liked by 2 people

    • Puppy attitudes became a lot more comprehensible when I understood that they see themselves as the center of the universe, which makes any disagreement or obstacles they encounter illegitimate and probably the result of plotting against them. Not sure if that’s the result of living in a bubble, entitlement or narcissism.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Msb: Puppy attitudes became a lot more comprehensible when I understood that they see themselves as the center of the universe, which makes any disagreement or obstacles they encounter illegitimate and probably the result of plotting against them. Not sure if that’s the result of living in a bubble, entitlement or narcissism.

        I think it’s D – All Of The Above.

        But I would say that the bubble is the biggest part of it. Everyone they know feels the way they do, and everyone who comments on their blogs agrees with them, and they read each others’ blogs and they’re all agreeing with each other. They block anyone who dares to venture a contrary opinion in a comment on one of their blogs. And they don’t read the blogs of people who don’t share their opinions.

        The result of this was them being absolutely convinced that the vast majority of Worldcon members/Hugo voters/SFF fans actually agreed with them; the bubble convinced them that they must be the small vocal minority which actually represented the large silent majority who had been intimidated into silence by the SJWs but actually wholeheartedly supported the Puppies. They hardly ever heard anyone say anything contrary to their beliefs, so they must be in the majority, right? Everyone loved the same works they did, right? They were avid subscribers to confirmation bias.

        So they actually thought they were going to walk away with a bunch of Hugos in 2015, which is why they all shelled out money to travel to Spokane and show up at the ceremony. If they’d had any idea just what a small minority they were, and just how angry the vast majority of SFF fans and Hugo voters were about the crap that they’d cheated onto the ballot (and of course they were all always telling each other how wonderful their writing is, so they were convinced that the cheated works were brilliant rather than crap), they would never have showed up at the Hugo ceremony to be utterly humiliated.

        The Puppies believed — still believe — that they are the mainstream, rather than the outliers. Any evidence to the contrary is dismissed as simply being due to the evil machinations of the SJW Cabal.

        Which is why they insist that Trump lost the election due to cheating. Nobody they knew supported Biden, Biden didn’t have any rallies and thousands of people showed up at Trump’s rallies, so how could Biden have possibly gotten 80 million votes honestly? They didn’t see anyone who actually supported Biden, so obviously, no one did.

        Liked by 3 people

        • @JJ —

          (I haven’t caught up with the rest of the thread, so apologies if I’m repeating something someone else has already said.)

          “They were avid subscribers to confirmation bias.”

          “The Puppies believed — still believe — that they are the mainstream, rather than the outliers. Any evidence to the contrary is dismissed as simply being due to the evil machinations of the SJW Cabal.”

          This and this.

          Including their ongoing belief that “their” books and authors outsell Hugo-favored books and authors, even though it’s pretty easy to prove that the opposite is usually true. The pups buy those books, so everyone else must be buying them too — objective evidence be damned.


      • I think it the buble that JJ mentioned is also true for their reading. The read (if) puppiebooks, and I am not sure that Larry or Brad have read the works they have nominated what they slated (I am aware the sad puppy 2 is borderline.
        A few examples a Nominee from Sad Puppies 3 did reveal that he did only read books from Bean the year before the nomination.
        And the Scrappy-Dog who believed he read every book for the dragon award and was angry and was shocked about several nominies. (and angry)
        I think the anger is what makes them special and also that only cheating and a conspiracy can explain the discrapancy between their word and the results of a vote.
        This is also the difference between discusion I see here (and on File 770) and there.
        Here disagrement if story a or story b is better, is somethink that is normal even (if it stay civil) somethink that is wanted and I don’t believe that there are many people who have the same ballot.
        The Puppyworld has leaders.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I think that they’re of the mindset that all sf readers are exactly like them therefore all Hugo voters must be like them and that means they obviously will have enough voters to win all the Awards. It’s never been true which can easily be measured though the raw measure of book sales, I.e. John outsells Larry by a factor of easily ten to one on his absolutely worse day. And book sales are a good measure of reader popularity.

          Liked by 2 people

      • I learned over the last four years that some people (mostly on the right) will believe things that they feel are true. Of course Correia sells more than Scalzi, because he should sell more. Of course there was election fraud in the US, because the alternative is that most voters here like squishy ideas like equality and environmentalism, and that can’t be right. Of course the Earth was created in six days, because if it wasn’t then the Bible wouldn’t be the word of God.

        It explains why you can’t reason with these people — you can’t point to numbers and science because their brains will twist into pretzels to make the ideas disappear. I have no idea what rational people can do about this, but it does seem to be one of the most pressing problems of our time. (Like many people I have a MAGA relative, so it seems pretty pressing to me, anyway.)

        Liked by 4 people

        • This brings up an interesting question. Just how well do Baen Books sell? When I’ve done the quick and fifty way of getting a feel for how well a Baen title is doing using Amazon sales ranking, the answer is usually quite shitty. But I don’t know precisely where Baen sells its books so this measure might not be considered accurate. Or it might be.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Yes, I think the answer is not-well but OK. Of course, because they are a bit unconventional there are lots of ways that normal figures may not be capturing Baen sales as well as other publishers. However, there is a lot of what looks like wishful thinking in that ambiguity.

            One thing is notable though. Larry Correia was Baen’s last big star. Famous Baen authors mainly date back to early 2000’s (Kratman, Ringo) or 80s/90s (Weber, Bujold, Flint) – and that’s adjusting ‘famous’ to Baen levels.

            Baen has a clever method for bringing in new writers but it really isn’t working anymore.

            Liked by 2 people

              • Maybe.
                I think the biggest problem they face is they invented a niche for SF (long running series of sub-genre SF available in cheap ebooks for people who read high volumes) that was gobbled up by Amazon/Kindle Unlimited/indie publishing. They created the niche that Chris Kennedy and LMBC et al now fill with more mil-SF than Baen can ever produce.

                Liked by 2 people

      • Yes, folks like LMBPN Books, Chris Kennedy Publishing, Aethon Books and half the military SF Kindle bestseller lists deliberately went after Baen’s market and their turnaround is faster and their overhead lower, so they can undercut Baen on price. They’re also all in Kindle Unlimited, so the hardcore military SF readers who once bought Baen’s webscriptions now have a Kindle Unlimited subscription and read indie books.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Just as a side note, awhile back I needed to go look something up about LMBPN, and while doing so I discovered that LMBPN does not stand for, as I presumed, the initials of the founders, but for “London, Milan, Barcelona, Paris, New York” — the world’s fashion capitals. I got a good laugh out of the pretentiousness of that.

          I do think that Baen still sells well to its hardcore fans via its website — sales which are not going to be reflected in Amazon ratings — but yes, I suspect that the proliferation of vast quantities of plot-by-numbers MilSF on Kindle Unlimited has put a huge dent in Baen’s previous corner on that market. It will be interesting to see whether they can continue to survive, even with the economies they’ve made by not hiring an Art Director, Book Designers, or Copy Editors.

          Liked by 2 people

      • Stephen Colbert had a great retort to the people who claimed Biden couldn’t have won because he didn’t have big rallies: “That’s not how it works, else we’d be inaugurating President BTS.” *

        Of course he had their number on the first episode of his old show with “Truthiness”.

        *Pups and other MAGA types hate K-pop too, of course. Even before they got trolled by them.


  11. So Larry thought Bacigalupi was a communist because he’s an environmentalist. And because his novel was a book people were talking about in regards to climate change issues as well as just a SF thriller, Larry made it his example of “the opposite of my stuff” and quite clearly did not read it. (Worth noting that The Wind-Up Girl came out from Night Shade Books, a small independent SFF publisher.) And Scalzi is of course called a liberal blogger when he’s a centrist because he isn’t an authoritarian, etc.

    And Larry decided that people who run conventions rigged the Hugo elections and that these people were somehow all intellectuals and snobs. That’s interesting because I thought the accusations of the election rigging by the Puppies came after the accusations of just general dislike against conservative writers by Hugo voters. But Larry seems to have been asserting both together from the get-go. Essentially, Larry tried to turn WorldCon into an imaginary university where the conference volunteer “profs” were giving all the kudos to the literary magazine club students instead of the supposedly popular members of the football team. It’s a 1980’s comedy movie view so completely divorced from reality that it’s bizarre.

    But one interesting bit of that is that over that last ten years before 2013, many people in fandom and many SFF authors had been giving convention organizers a hard time — about having and consistently and properly enforcing codes of conduct at conventions. There was a lot of griping about the SMOF’s not taking the issues of harassment, assault and discrimination seriously at conventions, refusing to create or stand by codes of conduct, etc., especially regarding a number of egregious cases at various conventions. And part of that was upset that the SMOFs had private forums and group conversations where they were griping about the calls for proper codes of conduct, when some of those conversations were leaked online. A lot of folk accused SMOFs of colluding in those groups to block codes of conduct and protect harassers. There was also a lot of frustration expressed by people who were part of convention boards and trying to change things in this area about long time SMOFs who didn’t get it and were causing large problems for their conventions.

    So it must have seemed pretty natural for Larry to create accusations of SMOFs colluding when that was already going on from other fans and authors. Except instead of the complaint that the SMOFs were backwards, discriminatory and largely clueless white people who thought it was still the swinging 1960’s, Larry’s complaint was that they were literati progressives pushing a political diversity agenda on the fandom. He decided that the SMOFs were actually the people who were complaining about the SMOFs. Which is why he and the Sad Puppies were often met with bewilderment over their claims.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t say for sure, because I was not involved in conrunning in 2013, but I think that SMOFs were deeply split regarding Codes of Conduct even then. There were a lot of really vocal old white guys complaining about it (and a few vocal older women who had the attitude “If I could put up with it for decades, then other women should be able to put up with it, too”) — but there were a lot of younger, more progressive SMOFs who were actively supportive of developing CoCs (hence the leaks from private forums).

      But now? Now a bunch of the old white dudes who complained about being held to a standard of decent behavior have died off, and most of the ones who are left are either more enlightened, or know enough to keep their mouths shut because they are now a small minority (though I had a run-in with one, who stupidly thought that using my private e-mail address to engage in lengthy mansplaining to me about why CoCs can’t be enforced was a capital idea, and who subsequently learned otherwise).

      Liked by 3 people

      • I can imagine it. 🙂

        The Wind-Up Girl was an ambitious novel in some ways and a throwback novel in others. Bacigalupi I found to be good at doing characters and action thriller sequences but there’s also quite a bit of mess to it and some of it is just ridiculous, such as using the elephants on the wheel. But it was an interesting novel.

        It was not, however, a leftist one. I’m not sure you can even say that it’s an anti-corporatist novel, though Bacigalupi is of that view personally. And it was a novel that got a lot of criticism from progressive fans over its Asian fetishism, cultural appropriation and sexism aspects, even while people acknowledged environmentalist, anti-colonialist and feminist elements that mixed in with it. But in any case, the “robot rape” story was not universally beloved by what Larry thinks of as “the Left,” which again was a strategy of the Puppies throughout. They’d pick something, declare that to be the beloved thing by a uniform, reactionary and controlling “Left” boogey monster whose chief feature was that they had it in for people like Larry, etc.

        So Doctor Who, which comes under frequent criticism from progressives, even those who love the show, is the Left boogey monster’s pick over the podcast he got to be a guest on. Throne of the Crescent Moon is loved by all the Left boogey monster as ethnic — because it’s set in a Middle Eastern type culture on a secondary world instead of a white-ish English-ish one, whereas the book came under quite a bit of criticism in some quarters for what was seen as problematic or erroneous Muslim aspects, women characters, etc. It’s not even a matter of the Puppies reducing the complexity of people’s reactions to a simple us vs. them because they will change things to whatever opposition target works best at the moment. If a work claimed to be a Lefty love is subjected to strong criticism about civil rights issues, the Puppies were just as likely to characterize it as the Left boogey monster turning on Lefty authors in unreasonable frenzy. Conservatives who hated Dr. Seuss and tried to get the Lorax and other titles banned, turned right around and demanded legal protection for imaginary attacks on all Dr. Seuss books because Seuss’ estate decided to retire some earlier titles for reprint that had outdated and racist imagery, which raises the specter of white people’s actions being not simply accepted as always acceptable and uncriticizable.

        The Puppies never had to read any of the books — and claimed that the Left boogey monsters don’t read the books — because what’s actually in the books and how people actually react to them are irrelevant. It’s who is in power that they focus on. They wanted to control the Hugos, to “win” against an opposition, so they simply made one up. They accused authors they didn’t know of cheating because they needed authors who were cheating. They dragged authors on to their slate list and didn’t even bother to tell them that they were on it, because they simply needed authors to show the might of their voting slate and what was in their work was mostly irrelevant. (Though this did thankfully bring Chuck Tingle to greater recognition in the world.)

        I mentioned that The Wind-Up Girl had been put out by Night Shade Books because it was an independent medium sized press and the Puppies eventually moved to the argument that the big SJW-loving publishers were crushing the virtuous self-pubs and smaller presses. So The Wind-Up Girl, a small press book, was supposedly crushing small presses by getting a win. Again, there is the disconnect because most of what’s actually in the novel and the many different ways that people reacted to the novel were not important. It had environmental climate change elements and a rape scene; that was all that was needed to declare it a Lefty boogey monster darling, even if Bacigalupi had been a full out conservative.

        And yes, Larry probably was lumping Bacigalupi in with Mieville’s communism. Because again what’s in the authors’ works wasn’t that important compared to simply declaring them not one of us and part of the Left boogey monster that had supposedly taken over the Hugos in the last 10 (15, 20, etc.) years. But they could just as easily then be later declared to be white men pissing off the SJWs if that suited the purpose.


    • Now I really disliked The Wind-up Girl (it’s a hot candidate for my worst fiction Hugo winner of all time, though I haven’t read They’d Rather Be Right) and I hated Shipbreaker, which thankfully didn’t make the Hugo ballot, even more. But I don’t dislike them because of Bacigalupi’s political views, but because his books peddle the kind of clueless half-knowledge environmentalism that annoys me in everybody who’s older than 16.

      However, I don’t think Bacigalupi is a Communist. He is an environmentalist as is Kim Stanley Robinson, but environmentalists aren’t necessarily leftists. There is a reason the Green Party gets along pretty well with the conservative party. Bacigalupi’s co-winner China Mieville, however, is Communist, so maybe Larry got them mixed up.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I have read They’d Rather Be Right and while it is an incredibly weak Hugo winner, my assessment is that it is bland and boring rather than actually bad. It is infused with vaguely Scientology-inspired ideas, which could be seen as kind of offensive by some people, but the best analogy I have been able to come up with is that reading it is the literary equivalent of eating an entire loaf of dry white bread.

      Liked by 2 people

      • At the right time, in the right place with the right person, dry which bread can be pretty awesome.


      • Well, put. I consider it about as competent a ‘John Campbell makes a writer with a completely inappropriate style write about Campbell’s latest pet enthusiasm’ novel as any such author is likely to produce, and Clifton is clearly trying to do what he can to subvert the book he’s found himself shackled to. None of which is exactly Hugo-worthy, but there are worse books that have won.


  12. “(Worth noting that The Wind-Up Girl came out from Night Shade Books, a small independent SFF publisher.)”

    I loath this book with the heat of a thousand exploding suns: there really is no aspect it does not do poorly, from the Orientalism, the sexual violence, to the economics and the ludicrous “science”. But it sold really really well, to the point that the cash flow from its sales was the main thing keeping Night Shade alive as an independent imprint.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I’m so happy that so many people here hated The Wind-Up Girl, because when I dared to criticise The Wind-Up Girl and Shipbreaker for their many mistakes as well as the racism and sexism, I was called a “schill for the oil industry”. Me: “Actually, I’m a translator for the environmental and maritime industry, so I know this stuff is wrong.”

    Liked by 5 people

    • @Cora —

      “Actually, I’m a translator for the environmental and maritime industry, so I know this stuff is wrong.”


      Just to put in my two cents — I didn’t like Shipbreaker, but I didn’t hate it. I was never inspired to read Wind-Up Girl, and now I’m glad that I never did!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. “After a genuinely amusing contrast between pulp novelists pitted against college English departments, Correa went on to say:”

    That should be “Correia”.

    As for Correia contrasting pulp novelists against college English departments, he gets that bit as wrong as everything else.

    For starters, Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft are about the worst possible examples, for although they published their stories in the pulps for 1 cent/word, they both considered themselves (and each other) serious writers. Lovecraft tried for years to get published in literary magazines, but Weird Tales was the only place that would take his work.

    Howard wanted to be a poet and writer of historical fiction. He wrote for the pulps because he needed the money to support his terminally ill mother and to pay for the car that offered him escape from the drudgery of Cross Plains, Texas, and for the occasional vacation in Mexico. Howard was very well read and his fiction is full of literary allusions. He came up with Conan and Kull, because the historical fiction he wanted to write was too research intensive, so he created the prehistoric Hyborian age to give himself the freedom to tell the stories he wanted to tell and avoid research errors. Howard constantly tried breaking into the higher paying magazines like Argosy or Adventure, but Weird Tales was his only reliable market for a long time and their payment delays probably contributed to his suicide. Besides, Howard also wrote three times as many stories about a boxing sailor named Steve Costigan than he wrote about Conan, because he found a reliable and well paying market for stories about boxing, the pulp magazine Fight Stories, which unfortunately went on hiatus in 1932 and did not resume publication until after’s Howard’s suicide.

    Also, neither Robert E. Howard nor Conan ever punched out a T-Rex, while a women clad in a chainmail bikini clung to his leg. For starters, Conan would be very cross if a women clung to his leg while he was fighting a monster, because that would distract him during the battle. Besides, nobody wears chainmail bikinis in the Conan stories and Conan and Red Sonya are different characters from different stories and Red Sonya never wears a chainmail bikini either – that’s an invention of the Conan comics of the 1970s.

    Not that I expect Larry Correia to know anything about this, because he probably has never read Robert E. Howard or H.P. Lovecraft just as he hasn’t read anything else.

    Also, if Larry Correia supposedly loves sword and sorcery, he should have cheered at the Hugo nomination for Throne of the Crescent Moon, which is modern sword and sorcery. And if he likes Lovecraft, he should have cheered at the nominations for the various Lovecraftian inspired works we’ve seen on the Hugo ballot in the past seven years or so.

    Liked by 3 people

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