The 2015 Hugo Award results were an emphatic repudiation of the Sad Puppies 3 campaign by the voters. Of all the works nominated on either Puppy slate, only the Marvel movie Guardians of the Galaxy won a Hugo and “no award” had won the five categories which only had Puppy slated works on the ballot.
Following the award ceremony, the Hugo voting statistics were released showing how the votes were distributed and also what works had been nominated. The statistics showed a further level of pushback from the voters against the Puppy slates. Even in the categories where a non-Puppy-slated work had won, ‘no award’ had beaten the Puppy-slated works in the final rankings. The final ballot used a preference system so the official order is determined after elimination rounds of counting but often ‘no award’ beat the Puppy-slated finalists at the first preference stage. A majority of voters in most categories voted for ‘no award’ above having any Puppy-slated finalist win.
The statistics also revealed the nomination data including the “long list” of nominees who received a significant number of votes but not enough to become a finalist. This data was enough to produce speculative versions of how the 2015 Hugo Awards would have looked without the Puppy slates. Following the award ceremony, George R.R. Martin ran his traditional “Hugo Losers Party” and instituted an alternative “Alfie” award (named after the first-ever Hugo winner, Alfred Bester). Handing out rocket shaped hood ornaments, he awarded Alfies to:
- Best Editor, Short Form John Joseph Adams
- Best Editor, Long Form Liz Gorinsky of Tor
- Best Related Work, “What Makes This Book So Great” by Jo Walton
- Best Short Story “Jackalope Wives” by Ursula Vernon
- Best Novella “The Slow Regard of Silent Things” by Patrick Rothfuss
As well as special awards to Annie Bellet and Marko Kloos for turning down their finalist spots after being slated by the Puppy campaigns, as well as an award for Eric Flint for attempting to be a voice of moderation in the ensuing drama.
Andrew Liptak at io9 delved further and produced an alternative version of what the Hugo finalists would have looked like without the Puppy slated works. Notable inclusions in the io9 version were Anita Sarkeesian’s Tropes vs Women: Women as Background Decoration in Best Related Work but also Andy Weir in the Campbell/Astounding Award for Best New Writer. Weir’s The Martian was a work many supporters of the Sad Puppies would have liked to have seen on the final ballot but it was technically ineligible because of its convoluted publishing history. Weir himself though was eligible for the Campbell award but in one of the many layers of irony, the Puppy-slates had prevented him from being a finalist.
There were few close races in either stage of the voting. In the nomination stage, the impact of the Puppy campaigns was decisive and in the final voting, the impact of the anti-Puppy backlash was devastating. With 2016 in mind, people were also looking to estimate the number of Sad Puppy and Rabid Puppy votes at each stage. Brandon Kempner at Chaos Horizon looked at how the numbers in the final voting played out and came up with some estimates:
“Core Rabid Puppies: 550-525https://chaoshorizon.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/2015-hugo-stats-initial-analysis/
Core Sad Puppies: 500-400
Sad Puppy leaning Neutrals: 800-400 (capable of voting a Puppy pick #1)
True Neutrals: 1000-600 (may have voted one or two Puppies; didn’t vote in all categories; No Awarded all picks, Puppy and Non-Alike)
Primarily No Awarders But Considered a Puppy Pick above No Award: 1000
Absolute No Awarders: 2500″
Estimating the number of people who had nominated in the first stage by following the Sad or Rabid Puppy slates was a harder task. It was clear from the nomination data that not everybody who had voted for at least one work on the Sad Puppy slates had then followed the rest of the slate. Interestingly it was the proposed new voting method, EPH, that would help provide an answer.
In 2016 after the Hugo Awards had run been awarded, data was made public showing what impact EPH would have had on the 2015 and 2016 Hugo nominations. Greg Hullender at the review site Rocket Stack Rank used that data to make a more detailed estimate of the voting impact of the Puppy slates. For nominations for the Best Novel category in 2015, Hullender estimated that 112 Sad Puppy voters and 142 Rabid Puppy voters had strictly followed the published slate to make nominations for this category, although individual authors on the slate got at least some additional votes from motivated fans who did not follow the slate. Hullender’s analysis also estimated that the Rabid Puppy vote was larger and more consistent, a fact many people had guessed when the nominations were announced.
If Vox Day himself was upset with the Hugo Award results, he did his best not to show it. He had stated numerous times that he regarded multiple “no award” results to be a victory condition but then again, he had considered ways of putting a positive spin on any of the potential results. For Day, the results were a vindication of his more radical position over the Sad Puppies:
“Now we know the result of that. This is a cultural war, not a literary sport. They are practicing a scorched earth strategy, and we can certainly assist them in that since we do not value their territory. I still think it was worth trying to take Berlin and end the war in one fell swoop, but even though our attempt break them once and for all failed, that only means that the victory was less than complete. What the Puppies accomplished was incredible when you look at the numbers involved and clearly indicates that the Rabid strategy, not the Sad one, is the only viable strategy. There will be no reconciliation.”https://web.archive.org/web/20150825181502/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2015/08/hugo-2015-results.html
He would go on to say “All they have accomplished is to convert many Sad Puppies into Rabid Puppies”. Day was also heartened by the victory of The Three-Body Problem in Best Novel. Although the novel had not been on either of the Puppy slates and had been published by Tor, Day had endorsed it as his number one choice for Best Novel. As people analysed the final spread of preferences it became clear that the votes for Best Novel had been a relatively close run race between The Three-Body Problem and The Goblin Emperor. The Rabid Puppy votes alone were not sufficient to pick a winner but they could make the difference between which popular choice finally won.
“Considering that the Rabid Puppy vote averaged 565 across the various categories, that demonstrates that we have the ability to play kingmaker even when we’re outnumbered approximately 4.5 to one by the SJWs combined with the traditional WorldCon community.”https://web.archive.org/web/20210224235227/https://voxday.blogspot.com/2015/08/blog-post.html
Numerically, Day was correct: the Rabid Puppy votes had helped decide the winner of the Hugo Awards. However, who would have won if Day hadn’t endorse The Three-Body Problem is less clear as his endorsement may have cost the novel some votes.
We can’t know how genuine Day’s spin on the results were genuine but they did match positions he had stated before the outcomes were clear. The Sad Puppy camp was far less stoical in the face of defeat. Larry Correia saw nothing left to redeem for the Hugo Awards:
“Rather than let any outsiders win, they burned their village in order to “save it”. And they did so while cheering, gloating, and generally being snide exclusive assholes about it. This year’s awards have an asterisk next to them. It was all about politics rather than the quality of the work. Even the pre-award show was a totally biased joke. In addition they changed the voting rules to make their archaic rules system even more convoluted in order to keep out future barbarian hordes. They gave as many No Awards this time as in the entire history of the awards.”https://monsterhunternation.com/2015/08/24/sad-puppies-3-looking-at-the-results/
The theme that the Hugo Awards had been burned down was repeated by other members of Evil League of Evil. In a post entitled “Burning Down The Field in Order to Save It”, Sarah Hoyt also claimed that the real victor was Vox Day:
“Until today I viewed him as a mirror of the SJW posturing. I retract that and I give him full measure of applause. Yes, his views are still repulsive and he still makes my skin crawl as often as the Marxists do, but you know what? At least he has a brain and uses it. Those of you celebrating might want to take a deep breath and wonder — for just a minute — if you did anything more than what Theodore Beale wanted. Because from where I’m sitting, the man that set out to destroy the field and prove that everyone calling themselves its leadership were mannerless and brainless children not only won last night, he won walking away. He won without DOING anything. He won by convincing yourselves to hit yourselves repeatedly with the obvious hammers of partisanship, lack of care for quality and INTEREST in the health of the field. And before you died, you gloated you had won. The mind boggles.”https://accordingtohoyt.com/2015/08/23/burning-down-the-field-in-order-to-save-it/
John C. Wright also picked up on the theme:
“The Hugo Award voters paid me the signal honor of burning down two or perhaps three whole categories of awards merely to prevent me from being awarded the spaceship which the breakdown of the votes shows I was due.http://www.scifiwright.com/2015/08/in-memoriam/
I am humbled by the laud shown my work: it is not everyone who can point to the smoking wreckage of a great city whose fanes and temple, colonnades and palaces, baths and coliseums and alabaster towers the burghers burnt with their own hands to prevent falling into his.
Even stranger to behold the beast-yowling burghers dancing with odd jerks of the elbows and knees around the bonfires of their own homes where all their best beloved scrolls and trophies burn, as if some signal victory is won, while the putrid smoke climbs up forever.”
Wright’s claim that the breakdown of votes showed that he was due the awards was not true. Wright came 4th and 5th in Best Novella behind other slated finalists and came 6th (out of five) in Best Short Story and 4th in Best Related Work. Puppy-nominated works in each of the categories he was in ranked higher than Wright’s works. However, he did come second to ‘no award’ on first preferences in Best Novella, marginally ahead of ‘Flow’ by Arlan Andrews Sr.
Brad Torgersen’s reaction was to focus specifically on the Best Editor categories. In many ways, these were the strongest categories in the original Sad Puppies 3 slate (Vox Day was added from the Rabid Puppy slate), with notable editors some of whom with a long track record at the Hugo Awards. In the Best Editor Long Form category, Baen publisher Toni Weisskopf had one of the strongest showings of any of the people slated by the Puppy campaigns, with 1216 first preference votes. Even so, she was roundly beaten by ‘no award’ which scored more than 50% of the total votes in the category with 2496 first preference votes. The large participation in the 2015 Hugo voting meant that Weisskopf was both one of the most voted for editors in this category ever but also the most voted against. Torgersen focused on this aspect in his reaction to the Puppy defeat:
“Mark it in your minds, friends. Remember it. Know the truth of it. The people who parade their inclusiveness and their tolerance, threw THE MOST-TANGIBLY-SUPPORTED EDITORS IN THE HISTORY OF THE HUGO AWARDS, under the bus. By 2,500 people. To make a point. Women who have given decades to the business, got thrown beneath the wheels because people wanted to be right more than they love this field.”https://bradrtorgersen.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/science-fictions-so-called-true-fandom-throws-women-under-the-bus/
Mad Genius blogger and the heir apparent for Sad Puppies 4 Kate Paulk provided her perspective a few days later and focused on a number of the key post-Hugo Ceremony complaints. These included the wooden asterisks that David Gerrold had commissioned and presented to all the nominees.
“I’m sure nobody else noticed the startling resemblance to a certain anatomical outlet, and of course, the Hugo rocket’s suggestive shape has been noticed by many people. Put those together and you get a pretty damn accurate depiction of what the pre-award “show” did to their precious awards, not to mention the unfortunates deemed to be tainted by classical communist and Nazi guilt-by-association.”https://madgeniusclub.com/2015/08/27/yet-another-post-hugo-post/
Paulk also repeated the idea that the award had been destroyed, concluding her post with this paragraph:
“And what’s even sadder is this pathetic collection of power-hungry little Hitlers have destroyed what was once a genuinely respected award. Whether it can be resurrected by the Campaign to End Puppy-Related Sadness or not, I consider the cause to be worthy.’ibid
The outcome of the Hugo Awards also gained press attention. Amy Wallace wrote a lengthy article in Wired which recapped the history of the Sad Puppy movement and explained the significance of the results:
“After a group of fans tried to guarantee a whiter, more male slate, most of the big Hugos instead went to “No Winner.””https://www.wired.com/2015/08/won-science-fictions-hugo-awards-matters/
Brietbart commentator and GamerGate advocate Milo Yiannopoulos blamed the results on “SJWs” and repeated the “burning down” theme in the title of his post:
“According to fiery gaming and sci fi pundit @Daddy_Warpig, the opposition to the Sad & Rabid Puppies slates took the form of encouraging voters to choose “no award” for an award category unless a work with appropriate politics was available. Taking it a step farther, many SJW zealots proved their commitment to tolerance, openness and variety by vowing not to read a work found on a Puppies slate under any circumstances. “https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2015/08/23/set-phasers-to-kill-sjws-burn-down-the-hugo-awards-to-prove-how-tolerant-and-welcoming-they-are/
Meanwhile, at The Guardian, Damien Walter was triumphant, seeing the impact of the baclash against the Puppy campaigns as a net positive for science fiction by affirming a commitment to diversity.
“So. Thank you Sad Puppies. You have woken sci-fi fandom from its slumber and proved that diversity in sci-fi really is a problem. There will never be another WorldCon or Hugo awards where diversity is not addressed. Diversity will now be carried to every new world and parallel dimension we visit. And sci-fi writing will be all the stronger for it. The future of humankind is global and many-hued. By reflecting that reality, sci-fi makes itself a fit literature for and of the future.”https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2015/aug/24/diversity-wins-as-the-sad-puppies-lose-at-the-hugo-awards
The last word though, should go to John Scalzi who summed up the outcome of the months-long kerfuffle:
“The Hugo vote against the Puppy slates was not about politics, or cabals, or one species of science fiction and fantasy over another, no matter what anyone would like you to believe — or at the very least, it wasn’t mostly about those things. It was about small group of people acting like jerks, and another, rather larger group, expressing their displeasure at them acting so.https://whatever.scalzi.com/2015/08/24/being-a-jerk-about-the-hugos-not-as-effective-a-strategy-as-you-might-think/
Mind you, I don’t expect the core Puppies to recognize this; indeed I expect them to say they haven’t done a single thing that has been other than forthright and noble and correct. Well, and here’s the thing about that: acting like an jerk and then asserting that no, it’s everyone else that’s been acting like a jerk, is the biggest jerk maneuver of all.”
That was not the last word. The main event was over but the Vox Day/John Scalzi conflict had its own coda for August 2015.
It is easy to mock Vox Day’s claims of ‘Xanatos Gambits’ or the list of new projects that he announces with great ambition. However, Day does genuinely plan for some new event or project to follow on from the previous one. With the 2015 Rabid Puppies campaign coming to an end, Day had already scheduled the publication of his new political book SJWs Always Lie for August 27, the anniversary of GamerGate. The date, of course, being conveniently close to when the Hugo results would be announced.
Day’s book started with a dedication to GamerGate citing all the people who Day regarded as allied warriors in the culture war:
“This book is for Adam Baldwin and Internet Aristocrat, for Sargon of Akkad and RogueStar and The Ralph Retort, for Ultra (who exposed the GameJournoPros), for Draginol and Grummz and all the devs of GG, for Christina Hoff Summers and Mercedes Carrera, for Yuji Nakajima and Oliver Campbell and Kukuruyo, for A Girl in Vermillion and A Mage in Black and MegaSpacePanda, for Doctor Ethics and Alejandro Argandona and Thurin and my man Daddy Warpig, for Paolo Munoz and Deep Freeze and Otter Jesus, for Shauna and Spacebunny, for Allum Bokhari and Mike Cernovich, and, of course, for the literally indefatigable Milo Yiannopoulos.Day, Vox. SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police (The Laws of Social Justice Book 1) (p. 6). Castalia House. Kindle Edition.
The first chapter imagined a person dealing with a stereotypically oppressive social-justice orientated HR department. Day claimed that his book would enable people to defend themselves and their job from SJWs. Yet the second chapter, ostensibly about the “Three Laws of SJWs”, was about the relative popularity of Day’s blog (complete with statistics) and John Scalzi’s blog. The fourth chapter about GamerGate was surprisingly numbered as Chapter 5 and was followed by another Chapter 5 on the recent Puppies Campaign.
On Twitter, writer and satirist Alexandra Erin spotted the notable error by the now multi-Hugo nominated editor:
“Okay, enough tearing down. Positivity time! @voxday fans, of the two Chapter 5s in the book, which is your favorite?”https://twitter.com/AlexandraErin/status/636935489182941184
In his book, Day described the beginnings of the year’s events:
“After discussing our differences, I stepped back from Sad Puppies and created Rabid Puppies, an allied campaign designed around the #GamerGate model. It was enthusiastically embraced by the Dread Ilk of Vox Popoli, the larger of my two blogs, and as was the case with #GamerGate, the anti-SJW people proved to be more numerous than those focused only on the industry-specific issue. However, the SJWs so hated everything Brad put forward, and reacted so negatively towards those works, that instead of needing a completely separate list of recommendations, the Rabid Puppy list turned out to be little more than the Sad Puppy list with a few tactical additions intended to further enrage the SJWs.”Day, Vox. SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police (The Laws of Social Justice Book 1) (p. 92). Castalia House. Kindle Edition 
Day also found a new way of declaring victory, this time seeing the Hugo voting reform E Pluribus Hugo as a net positive if ratified:
“If ratified at MidAmeriCon next year, it will transform the Hugo Awards into a quasi-Parliamentary system designed to ensure no single faction can singlehandedly dictate the shortlist in the future. This will have the effect of preventing future Puppy sweeps but will also limit the Tor cabal to one or two nominations per category as well. And since our goal was never to control the awards, but merely to break the SJW stranglehold on them, this will be an eminently satisfactory outcome from the canine perspective.”Day, Vox. SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police (The Laws of Social Justice Book 1) (p. 102). Castalia House. Kindle Edition.
In the rest of the book, Day continued with his complaints about codes of conduct, feminism and social justice warriors. He also spent time relitigating his expulsion from the SFWA.
In response Alexandra Erin in the guise of one “Theophilus Pratt” published her own very short ebook on Amazon entitled John Scalzi Is Not A Very Popular Author And I Myself Am Quite Popular: How SJWs Always Lie About Our Comparative Popularity Levels. Chapters included:
- Chapter 2: John Scalzi’s Blog Is Not That Interesting And No One Reads It,
- Chapter 3: John Scalzi Does Not Understand Satire As Well As I Understand Satire
- Chapter 5: John Scalzi Did Not Get Me Thrown Out Of The SFWA
- Chapter 5: John Scalzi’s Deal With Tor Is Not A Very Good Deal
- Chapter 5: John Scalzi Is Not A Very Popular Author
In the wake of eight months of Puppy campaigning, Erin’s parody proved very popular with people who had been following the Hugo Award controversy. John Scalzi joined in with a charitable offer:
“To benefit Con or Bust, a charity which helps fans of color attend science fiction and fantasy conventions, I will make an audio version of John Scalzi Is Not A Very Popular Author And I Myself Am Quite Popular: How SJWs Always Lie About Our Comparative Popularity Levels, a parody of an actual book by a certain obnoxious bigot who is obsessed with me, if $2,500 is raised for Con or Bust by 11:59pm (Eastern), Sunday, August 30, 2015.”https://whatever.scalzi.com/2015/08/27/charity-drive-for-con-or-bust-an-audio-version-of-john-scalzi-is-not-a-very-popular-author-and-i-myself-am-quite-popular-read-by-me/
The money was raised quickly and the audio book produced.
Day’s supporters retaliated with the own counter-parody books with titles defaming John Scalzi.
It had been a long year for science fiction and yet it was still only August.
Next Time: Aftermath September-December
-  http://www.thehugoawards.org/content/pdf/2015HugoStatistics.pdf
-  https://georgerrmartin.com/the-alfie-awards/
-  https://gizmodo.com/this-is-what-the-2015-hugo-ballot-should-have-been-1725967147
-  https://nwhyte.livejournal.com/2514368.html
-  EPH renalyssishttp://www.rocketstackrank.com/p/2015-hugo-nominations-organic-estimate.html and data on Rabid Puppy discipline http://www.rocketstackrank.com/2016/09/reanalysis-of-slate-voting-in-2016-hugo.html#rabidvsad
-  1st preferences No Award 3495, One Bright Star to Guide Them 556 http://www.thehugoawards.org/content/pdf/2015HugoStatistics.pdf
-  “our differences” here means a discussion with Brad Torgersen and the other Sad Puppy figures