At the blog of Teresa and Patrick Nielsen Hayden, the mammoth thread on voting reform for the Hugo Awards continued into May. The proposed voting method for the nomination stage was still labouring under the lengthy acronym of SDV-LPE and while the algorithm had been fine-tuned and tested the public-relations work in selling the idea to Worldcon members was only just beginning. Voting method expert Jameson Quinn presented his way of explaining it to a lay audience:
“This system uses the same ballots as the current system; you just vote for all the works that you think may deserve a Hugo, up to a maximum of 5.https://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/016206.html#4125080
When counting the votes, the system eliminates one candidate at a time, until there are 5 left. At each step, it is designed to look for the two candidates who do the least to increase the “representativeness” (or “diversity”) of the candidate pool, and eliminate whichever of those two has the fewest supporters.
Thus, when you add a candidate to your ballot, you are essentially doing two things. First, you have 1 “representativeness point” to spread among the candidates, to protect them from even being considered for elimination; and so adding a candidate to your ballot redistributes that point. This means that if a group of voters all vote for the same 5 works, their “points” will all be spread five ways, and so those 5 works will probably end up eliminating each other. But second, once two candidates are selected for possible elimination based on representativeness, your ballot will count fully for whichever of them you supported (if any). This means that, if you voted independently and not as part of a slate, it is unlikely that adding an additional candidate to your ballot will cause any of the candidates already on there to be eliminated if it wouldn’t have been otherwise.
In other words: While it is theoretically possible that you’d prefer the results of voting “narrowly” — for just one or two of your favorite candidates — rather than “broadly”, in practice it is very likely to be safe to vote “broadly”, and simply vote for all candidates whom you think may deserve a Hugo.”
The debate now shifted to a formal proposal for the Worldcon business meeting (to be held in August) to change the rules to the new system. A new thread was started using wording written by Keith “Kilo” Watts. The “to-do” list still included:
Name of the system
How to handle ties
How to handle withdrawn nominations
Best way to present at the business meeting
The final formal proposal language itselfhttp://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/016246.html
The bigger work to come for all the proposals to change the rules was persuading members. A further obstacle was that any rule change could not be enacted for 2016. Worldcon operated a three-stage process for constitutional change: voted on in the first year, ratified in the second and implemented for the third year. This meant that even if the various rule changes were agreed to in 2015, they wouldn’t impact the nomination process until the 2017 Hugo Awards began.
Elsewhere, Vox Day was sceptical that any kind of change in the rules would make any difference to his style of Hugo campaigns, short of eliminating the cheaper supporting membership option altogether:
“There is one thing and one thing only that will work. Ban supporting memberships. And even then, you’ll merely return to the days of log-rolling where the whisper candidates who have manufactured “buzz” dominate.Vox Day, comment at File 770 http://file770.com/time-considered-as-a-helix-of-semi-precious-puppies-55/comment-page-1/#comment-257363
In the game industry, very smart people spend a lot of time attempting to anticipate very smart griefers. In 25 years, I have never seen a system that will stop them cold without constant management and post-release tweaking. I’m designing a system for a technology company right now that has multi-level monitoring-and-response built into the system for precisely that reason.”
Voting in earnest had begun for the 2015 Hugo Awards with ballots listing the finalists released on May 1. People had until July 31 to vote and so there were many weeks to go before the fate of the Puppy campaigns would be decided and a few weeks after that until the results would be announced.
April had been a mixed month for the public-relations campaign of the Sad Puppies. Their apparent victory in the nomination stages was more than the leaders had expected and the scale of the controversy was possibly more than they had planned for. Nevertheless, they had started as winners. Brad Torgersen had gained some sympathy after the error-prone Entertainment Weekly article (see chapter 41) had falsely claimed that the Sad Puppies had only nominated white men. After anti-Gamergate campaigner Arthur Chu had referred to Torgersen’s wife and child as “shields”, Torgersen compared himself to a prisoner in a gulag. However, both Correia and Torgersen had used April to argue with George R.R. Martin and his posts about the Puppy campaigns. Correia, in particular, followed his normal style of internet argument in an attempt to discredit Martin’s characterisation of the Sad Puppies. While their responses pleased their followers, they reacted to Martin’s posts on “Puppygate” as if he were a major opponent rather than a potential ally in opposing the No Award Strategy.
The Sad Puppy campaign needed to start May with some positive presentation of their views. Unfortunately, things quickly went badly wrong.
One of the lingering side-questions in April had been whether the people Brad Torgersen had chosen for his slate had all been contacted by him, and if they had, what he had said. At File 770 author Juliette Wade gave an account of her experience. Wade had been on the very first iteration of the Sad Puppies 3 slate but had immediately asked to be removed. She explained that she had been contacted beforehand by Torgersen but she had not understood that he was asking her to be on the Sad Puppies slate.
“I did not notice the word “slate” or think anything of it at the time. We then discussed his upcoming work duties (army reserve stuff). Then on February 1 the Sad Puppies list was posted, and I was alerted to it by my friend Lillian Csernica. I remember feeling cold and a little sick. I immediately IMed Brad at 6:28 pm.”http://file770.com/an-account-of-juliette-wades-withdrawal-from-sad-puppies-3/
Wade’s version of events did not cast Torgersen in a very bad light, although she did describe him as being disingenuous. In an odd decision, Torgersen decided to leave a comment on the post:
“Juliette’s a colleague at Analog and I’ve been hoping for three years to see her name finally appear on the Hugo ballot. It’s unfortunate that Juliette’s fears — at being shamed, shunned, and ostracized, for appearing on the “wrong” list — caused her to withdraw when the slate was released. Which says far, far more about Sad Puppies’ detractors, than it does about Juliette, or me for that matter.Brad Torgersen comment http://file770.com/an-account-of-juliette-wades-withdrawal-from-sad-puppies-3/comment-page-1/#comment-256133
Once again, the Are your papers in order? factor rears its ugly head. Nobody should have to be afraid of being on a list of suggestions. But Juliette (and a few others) were. Because they didn’t want to be punished for an association. Brilliant, folks! Just brilliant. Let’s make hard-working authors afraid of having the “wrong” people put those authors forward, for recognition.
If you can’t see the problematic nature of this atmosphere that’s been created — by the field’s progressive fans and pros alike — you’re not paying attention.”
People were quick to point out that Wade had said nothing about any fears. Torgersen replied with further elaborations on Wade’s thinking and why she had withdrawn out of fear of reprisal. A repeated response from the Sad Puppy leaders to finalists on their slate withdrawing had been that they had done so out of fear of reprisals. Torgersen was sticking with that messaging in his comments on Wade’s post at File 770. That position unravelled when on May 3 Juliette Wade also left a comment.
“Brad Torgersen, you are pretty brazen, trying to speak for me, and I would appreciate it if you never attempted to do so again. I was entirely unaware of the Sad Puppy connection because I had deliberately been avoiding looking at your wall, much less your blog, for going on two years. My maintenance of our friendship was out of courtesy. I guess I was too idealistic, thinking that Sad Puppies might be over and that you would just be talking to me about some Hugo recommendations, but I do like to think the best of people. It should not be my responsibility to go and look up whether a person is being dishonest every time they say they like my work. Just to be clear, you have clearly got no idea of my motivations and are trying to spin them to your benefit. I was appalled by your actions in the Sad Puppy business last year and obviously made a mistake in thinking that you should be taken at your word (with the understanding that people include all relevant and important information when they are informing someone of something, which you did not do in this case.) I would never, ever have wanted to associate with Sad Puppies after last year, because of the depth of my anger over their behavior. I felt sick that you had deceived me and betrayed my confidence, and the fact that you denied having done so is irrelevant. You, and your actions, were what I was avoiding in pulling myself off the list.”Juliette Wade comment http://file770.com/an-account-of-juliette-wades-withdrawal-from-sad-puppies-3/comment-page-2/#comment-256184
Torgersen and Correia had objected to their campaign being called misogynistic, homophobic and racist. Having undermined himself on the first of those points Torgersen promptly undermined himself on the homophobia. Posting a joke on Facebook about how both he and Larry Correia like women he added “We’re not sure about Scalzi on that count. If you know what I mean.”
John Scalzi pointed out the problem:
“If Brad Torgersen wants to insult me, insinuating I’m gay won’t work. It’s not an insult to be gay. Be an insult to be a Sad Puppy, however.”https://twitter.com/scalzi/status/595075792465502208
Torgersen attempted an apology but missed the gist of John Scalzi’s point. In a comment on his own blog Scalzi explained:
“Two, the apology is for insinuating about my sexuality, but apparently not for suggesting that there is anything at all wrong with being gay. Which is to say Torgersen appears to be apologizing for the not offensive thing (insinuating regarding my sexuality), and not about the actual offensive thing: The homophobia that asserts that being gay is such a shameful thing that implying that I am so is an insult that rates an apology. Allowing that “even Scalzi” doesn’t deserve to be called gay does appear to apply that to Torgersen, being gay is a real problem. There’s a lot left unexamined, here.”https://whatever.scalzi.com/2015/05/04/id-rather-like-men-than-to-be-a-sad-puppy/#comment-784102
Meanwhile author Myke Cole (who also had a military background) castigated Torgersen as an officer:
“You have long held the position that homosexuality is immoral behavior, and most recently made denigrating jokes regarding the orientation aimed at Mr. John Scalzi. Your moral positions are your own, and I will not question them. However, I will remind you that you are a military officer and charged with the leadership of men and women of *all* walks of life, religions, creeds, sexual orientations, socio-cultural backgrounds and ethnicities. Every single one of these people has the right to believe that you will faithfully discharge your duties as an officer, not spend their lives carelessly, not make them endure unnecessary hardship, that you will care for them with compassion and dedication. On or off duty, you are *always* an officer.”https://archive.is/gygyZ#selection-133.0-139.608
Cole did not cite any examples that Torgersen had a long-held position that homosexuality is immoral behaviour. For defenders of Torgersen and the Sad Puppy campaign, Cole’s letter was seen as an attack on Torgersen’s military career. Torgersen had frequently employed his military background and family circumstance as a way of adding an element of personal integrity to his claims about the Sad Puppies. In the subsequent arguments, that question of his personal integrity came under question in two ways, firstly on whether those substantial claims about the Sad Puppies 3 slate were true and secondly whether his marriage and rank lent any credence to his claims.
Vox Day’s advice to Torgersen was unambiguous:
“Does no one listen or learn? Never, EVER apologize to SJWs! Case in point: “The apology was worse than the initial attempted slur — it reinforced the fact that Torgersen thinks calling someone gay is a slur.”https://web.archive.org/web/20150506072017/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2015/05/never-retreat-never-apologize.html
I repeat. NEVER APOLOGIZE TO SJWs. They will see it as fear, take the apology, and use it as a club with which to beat you. Never back down to them, never retreat, never apologize. Notice that this was all posted AFTER Torgersen apologized to Scalzi.”
In the comments to John Scalzi’s post on Torgersen’s homophobic comment, Rachel Swirsky had another concern with how the multitude of arguments were being conducted:
“Please, please, please, please stop with the “put down” rhetoric about the puppies, and the “you know what has to be done about rabid animals” and “take the dog out behind the barn.”https://whatever.scalzi.com/2015/05/04/id-rather-like-men-than-to-be-a-sad-puppy/#comment-784139
It’s vicious and horrible. The puppies and how they’ve acted toward me and others sucks. But good lord, let’s keep threats of violence, however unserious, out of it. Please.”
Even without comments about putting down rabid dogs, the debate was becoming polarising. For the Sad Puppies this was strategically damaging but for Vox Day it was less of a problem. While it was easy for people to mock Day’s “Xanatos gambit” claims there was a sense in which the final outcome of the Hugo voting was less important for his objectives. Day had commercial goals and political goals. His commercial goals were to promote his right-wing publishing house to a right-wing audience. At File 770 he boasted:
“I don’t despise the institution nor am I trying to destroy it. It’s just in the way at the moment. I am going to disrupt the publishing houses, but even that’s just a side effect of the very thing I told SFWA about two years ago. It will be live well before the end of the year and the model conservatively predicts we’ll be selling 10k SF books per day within two years.”Vox Day, comment http://file770.com/the-paw-of-oberon-54/comment-page-2/#comment-257005
Day was still convinced that video games would become the main outlet for selling books and that Castalia House and its video game parent company Alpen Wolf would lead the way (see earlier chapters). The conflict and “war” rhetoric was all adding to publicity and attention.
The political goal was not so very different from the commercial goal. Day had long been critical of mainstream conservatives and their willingness (as Day perceived it) to work with centrist and moderate left institutions. The Rabid Puppy campaign was intended to radicalise.
“You all really need to stop crying about the fact that someone who doesn’t belong to your community and has been attacked by part of your community for over a decade doesn’t care if your community is destroyed. I don’t care about your institutions. I don’t care about your feelings. I don’t care about your gentlemen’s agreements. I don’t care if you have the feelbads or if you’re laughing at how adorable I am.Vox Day, comment http://file770.com/the-paw-of-oberon-54/comment-page-1/#comment-256981
I’m simply going to do what I’m going to do, and so are my 346 Vile Faceless Minions. At this point, very little would change if I got bored and retired to a monastery tomorrow. The cultural war in science fiction is finally out in the open.
You haven’t destroyed Brad Torgersen by your attacks on him. You just turned him and dozens of people like him into me.”
Whether either strategy was genuinely working in his favour was a whole other question but in May 2015 he was convinced that the conflict worked in his favour:
“I didn’t say I don’t care about anything. But I’m not here because I care about the Hugos or your opinion. I’m here so that neutral parties can clearly see the difference between me and you, between Rabid Puppies and the SJWs. I’m here to help people choose their side.Vox Day, comment http://file770.com/the-paw-of-oberon-54/comment-page-2/#comment-256987
The comparison is not quite as flattering to you as you probably think it is. For every five neutrals exposed, I estimate that three join us, one joins you, and one stays neutral. Sure, these run-ins tend to inflame those already on your side, but that’s a price worth paying.”
Writer and Sasquan Guest of Honour David Gerrold had a very different perspective on the idea of there being a two-sided conflict.
“Vox Day set out to hurt the SF genre by damaging our award system. Whether Brad and Larry cooperated or colluded with him is irrelevant. The seeds of dissension have been planted and the crop is coming in nicely. We’ll harvest in August and then we’ll begin the next chapter. Some people have suggested that there is equivalence by talking about “two sides.”Nope. There’s one side, and then there’s a lot of confused, hurt, and outraged fans who were looking forward to the usual Worldcon where we only complained about what the committee did wrong. (That’s a tradition. Even the best run conventions get complaints that they were too well run. I’m not kidding.)”https://www.facebook.com/david.gerrold/posts/10205517432107535
Gerrold discussed ways forward but also pointed to the one substantial obstacle to any kind of reconciliation.
“The SFWA expelled Vox Day for his unprofessional behavior. Fandom as a community, and the Worldcon as an institution, should have the same power to invite someone to the egress. Other conventions have taken steps to protect themselves from toxic and disruptive individuals — and based on the back-and-forth conversations I’ve seen, and as unpleasant a discussion as this will be, maybe it’s time to have a discussion about the mechanisms for shutting down someone who has publicly declared his intention to destroy the awards.”ibid
Could Worldcon expel Vox Day? Regardless of whether the rules permitted such an expulsion, there was a more basic problem. Day might not even be a member of Worldcon and whether he was or not was wholly irrelevant to the actions he was taking. Day was also boasting of hundreds of “minions” who would be willing to vote on his instructions and he had proven that he had sufficient votes to impact the Hugo nomination process. Expulsion may have been the SFWA’s solutions to their Vox Day problem but the World Science Fiction Society would need a different one.
The two-sided war model of the continuing conflict suited Day’s purposes but it was rhetoric that the Sad Puppies found themselves reaching for. Back in April, Brad Torgersen had unwisely posted (and then wisely deleted) an essay framing the conflict as akin to the American Civil War:
“The Hugo award is just a thing; a mere football. These divisions go far beyond a silver rocketship. They are drawn along political lines — liberal, and conservative; progressive, and libertarian — as well as along artistic lines — taste, expression, and the desire for meaning. If one side has announced angry shock that Sumter got shelled, it’s because that side had the luxury of ignoring the other side. At least until now. The grays have thrown off their teeth-grit veneer of second-class citizenship, and the blues are rallying to the status quo. Voices long quiet, have erupted with the yell of rebellion. And there is every sign in the world that the blues will stop at nothing to put down the grays.”Brad Torgersen in a deleted post quoted here https://workbench.cadenhead.org/news/3742/brad-torgersens-science-fiction-civil-war 
On May 2, IT guru, contrarian and 1981 Hugo finalist Jeff Duntemann, critiqued the Puppy controversy as essentially feeding the Puppy campaign by opposing it:
“My conclusion is this: The opponents of Sad Puppies 3 put them on the map, and probably took them from a fluke to a viable long-term institution. I don’t think this is what the APs intended. In the wake of the April 4 announcement of the final Hugo ballot, I’d guess the opposition has generated several hundred kilostreisands of adverse attention, and the numbers will continue to increase. Sad Puppies 4 has been announced. Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen have lots of new fans who’d never heard of them before. (I just bought the whole Monster Hunter International series and will review it in a future entry.) To adapt a quote from…well, you know damned well whose quote I’m adapting: “Attack me, and I will become more popular than you could possibly imagine.” Or, to come closer to home, and to something in which I have personal experience: “Feed puppies, and they grow up.””http://www.contrapositivediary.com/?p=3402
Vox Day certainly was enjoying the attention. Like everybody paying attention he was also curious about the makeup of the many new members Worldcon was getting in 2015. Day also announced early in May a change in voting strategy. According to Day, he had always been keen on the Puppy campaigns voting “no award”. This was akin in Day’s eyes to burning the Hugo Awards to the ground. Now, hoping that many of the new members would be supportive of either the Sad or Rabid Puppy campaigns, Day offered this advice to his followers:
“Now that the science fiction SJWs have publicly declared No Award, the best possible outcome for us is for them to try to burn down the awards and fail. And that is why we should not help them do it. I very much understand the temptation to cry havoc, run amok, and gleefully set fires, but keep this in mind: while strategic arson is good, strategic occupation is glorious. Translation: stow the flamethrowers. For now. And as for those who are tempted to freak out and overreact simply because the other side is throwing punches, keep in mind how the great champions react to getting hit.”https://web.archive.org/web/20150506214735/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2015/05/patience-is-strategic-virtue.html
However, the impression given from the framing of two sides in conflict ignores the nature of the volume of the discussion. It was true that the key leaders of the Sad and Rabid Puppies were the focus of a lot of criticism but it was far from simple name-calling. The conflict had engaged many people who had only been partly engaged with the Hugo Awards in the past and the apparent threat to the Hugo Awards was inspiring new interest.
Both Jim C Hines and K. Tempest Bradford posted statistical breakdowns of the Hugo Award finalists by gender. Bradford pinpointed 2007 as a point in which the representation of women in the awards had actually declined compared to previous years, only to rise consistently up to 2014.
“This happened for a lot of reasons. Many of those seeds were planted in 2007 in online conversations about gender bias and racism. It took a while for some of them to take root and grow strong. Because even with all the shouting and discussion, the larger world of fandom didn’t participate or even know about it. Did some WorldCons gain more supporting memberships after 2007 due to these issues?”http://tempest.fluidartist.com/unintended-consequences-a-post-about-the-hugos/
Meanwhile, writer and pop-culture analyst Alexandra Erin began a delightful series of book reviews but from the perspective of a fictional John C Wright character eager to discover SJW/liberal tricks in innocuous books such Corduroy, Imogene’s Antlers or If You Give a Mouse a Cookie . In a similar vein File 770’s daily Puppy Round-Ups started carrying poems and jokes from the comments of the previous day’s round ups such as this take on a famous and much parodied poem:
This is Just to SayUltragotha, quoted http://file770.com/i-am-not-a-puppy-i-am-a-free-man-515/
We have nominated
That were on
You were probably
For better stories
Revenge is delicious
And so cold
Sad Puppy supporters also tried their hands at comedy, with Catholic fantasy writer Declan Finn posting a series of “Sad Puppies Bite Back” stories at his blog.
But what really caught fans attention in May was the release of the 2015 Hugo Award Packet. The packet was a relatively recent but now firmly established tradition originally pioneered by John Scalzi. Works from finalists were collated into a downloadable collection for Hugo voters, making it easier for people to read works that they hadn’t already read.
People had already started reviewing the finalists before the packet was released but the packet helped fuel an explosion of reviews. I’ll save those for another chapter.
Meanwhile, over the month progress had continued on the voting proposal at Making Light. The technical but clunky name of SDV-LPE had been replaced with the grand title of E Pluribus Hugo (EPH for short), meaning “Out of the Many, a Hugo”. The efforts of the group working on it were now focused on writing a formal proposal for the 2015 Worldcon business meeting. Jameson Quinn also started a Go Fund Me fundraiser to pay for him to attend Sasquan and speak for the proposal.
And what else happened in May? Two things and both of them related to the Tor Books.
The first was the announcement in the New York Times that Tor Books had signed a $3.4 million deal with John Scalzi for 13 books. The deal did not literally cause the heads of his many detractors to explode.
The second was a Facebook post on May 11. Irene Gallo, creative director at Tor, described on her personal Facebook page the Sad and Rabid Puppies:
“There are two extreme right-wing to neo-nazi groups, called the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies respectively, that are calling for the end of social justice in science fiction and fantasy. They are unrepentantly racist, misogynist, and homophobic. A noisy few but they’ve been able to gather some Gamergate folks around them and elect a slate of bad-to-reprehensible works on this year’s Hugo ballot.”Irene Gallo, comment Facebook – since deleted
Her comment drew little attention at the time…
Next Time: June – The Tor Boycott
-  http://www.thehugoawards.org/2015/05/voting-open-for-2015-hugo-awards/
-  https://twitter.com/arthur_affect/status/585635584070262784
-  https://bradrtorgersen.wordpress.com/2015/04/09/gulag-diary-day-6/
-  https://monsterhunternation.com/2015/04/09/a-response-to-george-r-r-martin-from-the-author-who-started-sad-puppies/
-  https://twitter.com/scalzi/status/595065592081690624
-  Unlike Vox Day and John C Wright, I don’t believe Torgersen has made a clear statement on the record of that kind, although people might make inferences from other statements he has made.
-  greys and blues being the colours of the uniforms of the Confederacy on one hand and US Army on the other, with Torgersen presenting the Puppies as the rebels of the Confederacy
-  http://www.contrapositivediary.com/?page_id=8
-  http://www.jimchines.com/2015/05/hugo-gender-balance/
-  http://www.alexandraerin.com/2015/05/sprb-corduroy/ http://www.alexandraerin.com/2015/05/rprb-imogenes-antlers/ http://www.alexandraerin.com/2015/05/sprb-if-you-give-a-mouse-a-cookie/
-  e.g. http://www.declanfinn.com/2015/05/sad-puppies-bite-back-v-puppy-wins-hugo.html
-  http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/016262.html https://www.gofundme.com/f/sasquanvoting
-  https://whatever.scalzi.com/2015/05/25/about-that-deal/