Debarkle Chapter 62: The Last Dangerous Bark

Sad Puppies 5 had fallen apart due to the twin forces of apathy and infighting but the Rabid Puppies had always operated with more of a Führerprinzip. There was no ambiguity as to who was in charge nor was Vox Day about to crowdsource his recommendations. Day regarded himself as a master strategist with skills honed from the video game industry and from playing tabletop war games. For the 2017 Hugo Award nominations what he faced was E Pluribus Hugo — the proportional nomination method devised by multiple people in a series of epic discussion threads at the Making Light blog in 2015. Having been voted in by Worldcon members in 2015 and then ratified in 2016, EPH would have its first true outing in 2017.

Day had latched on to an idea of how EPH worked and decided to adopt a strategy that had become known as “bullet voting” where it was believed that concentrating your votes on one or two candidates would maximise the chance of your picks reaching the final ballot. In terms of the style of choices, Day’s 2017 Rabid Puppies slate followed a similar approach as 2016 but was limited to one or two per category as “bullet votes”. Those picks included works he wanted to promote from Castalia House, “hostage” nominations such as Neil Gaiman or File 770 intended to confuse voters, stuff he just liked such as a story by China Miéville and finally works intended to troll or discredit the Hugo Awards. After being humorously reversed trolled by Chuck Tingle in 2016, Day did not renominate Tingle but instead picked a different erotic space-dinosaur story “Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T-Rex” by Stix Hiscock.

The initial list [1] underwent some rapid revisions. Mike Glyer withdrew File 770 as a candidate for the Hugo Awards.

“I know a few will be disappointed — File 770 is a community effort, and when it is nominated that is a symbolic recognition of what everyone contributes, not just my own work. I apologize to anyone who feels let down, though I assure you I thought about the community here when making this complicated decision.”

Day’s final list featured himself (twice)[2].

    • An Equation of Almost Infinite Complexity by J. Mulrooney
    • “This Census-taker” by China Miéville
    • “Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T-Rex” by Stix Hiscock
    • “An Unimaginable Light” by John C. Wright (God, Robot)
    • Arts of Dark and Light by Vox Day
    • Star Wars Art: Ralph McQuarrie by Ralph McQuarrie (Abrams)
    • The View From the Cheap Seats, Neil Gaiman (Morrow; Headline)
    • P. Alexander, Cirsova
    • Vox Day, Castalia House
    • Deadpool
    • “The Winds of Winter”, Game of Thrones, Miguel Sapochnik, David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
    • Tomek Radziewicz
    • JiHun Lee
    • Cirsova
    • Castalia House blog
    • The Rageaholic by Razorfist
    • Superversive SF
    • Jeffro Johnson
    • Morgan (Castalia House)
    • Alex Garner
    • Mansik Yang
  • BEST NEW WRITER (Campbell Award)
    • J. Mulrooney

On April 4 the Hugo Finalists were announced[3] and once again the Puppies were present. However, at least at first glance, it appeared that the changes to the nomination system had made a big difference. In particular, the shift from five finalists per category to six meant that in every category where a Rabid Puppy slated work was present, there were several non-slated works available for voters[4]. The impact of the Rabid Puppy slates was further weakened by eligibility issues in the two artists categories. The Rabid nominees for best Professional Artist hadn’t published qualifying works in 2016 and the Rabid nominees for Fan Artist had only published professional work in 2016[5].

The Rabid Puppies had made a final push at the Hugo Awards but the impact was limited. Day’s greatest success was getting the improbably named “Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T-Rex” by Stix Hiscock in so far as the obscure erotic novelette created some additional publicity. Wired magazine covered the latest twist in the Hugo Awards with a focus on the erotic story.

“And that, basically, is how we end up with Stix Hiscock. In March, Vox Day, a sci-fi writer and the pack leader of the Rabid Puppies, called on his minions to vote Hiscock in. The reasoning couldn’t be more obvious: If at first, you don’t succeed, find a new Tingle; a Tingle 2.0; an evil hetero twin. A Twingle, if you will. When reached for comment, Day replied: “No thanks. You’ll have to sustain your Narrative [capitalization his] without my help.””

Wired also sought out Chuck Tingle’s view. Tingle was enjoying his second time as a Hugo finalist. Fans had rewarded his social media reverse trolling of Vox Day with a nomination in the Best Fan Writer category. Tingle had this to say about Stix Hiscock’s nomination:

“hello buckaroo name of JASON thank you for writing and thank you for congrats on this way! i believe this author is put on the nominees by THE BAD DOGS BLUES as a way to prank the hugos like when they thought author name of chuck was some goof they could push around (no way buddy not this buckaroo). so it seems to be same idea as last year dont know much about it. thing is you cant just nominate some reverse twin of chuck there is only one chuck on this timeline and he is nominated as BEST FAN WRITER all by his own! this is a good way i am so proud! so long story short i hope this new author is not a reverse twin of the void but who knows i have not seen the end of this timeline branch yet.”


io9 went a step further and tracked down the pseudonymous author.

“Hiscock also said she didn’t know anything about Beale, and seemed to be unaware (before the interview) that he was responsible for Alien Stripper getting on the ballot. She was a little hurt that he would use her novelette as a way to mock the Hugos, especially since it doesn’t seem like he’s even read it. (It’s possible Beale picked it specifically because of the Rabid Puppies’ hatred of the award-winning novelette If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love.) “I guess I’ll cry a little, laugh a little. But I’ll be ok. Jokes are pretty hilarious sometimes,” Hiscock said.

Still, Hiscock said it’s an honor to be nominated, even though she probably won’t be able to attend the ceremonies in Helsinki because of the expense. And even though Beale might’ve gotten Alien Stripper on the ballot due to sheer pettiness, the bank error is definitely in Hiscock’s favor. Book sales of Alien Stripper Boned From Behind by the T-Rex are through the roof.”

Beyond the Rabid Puppies, the 2017 Hugo finalists included many notable works. N.K.Jemisin’s sequel to The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate was a finalist for Best Novel as was the final novel in Cixin Liu’s Three-Body Problem trilogy, Death’s End. Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form still had entries from Doctor Who and Game of Thrones but in a shift away from the predictable, the finalists also included an album by the band Clipping called Splendor & Misery that used music to tell an Afro-futurist story about space travel and slavery.

Vox Day’s more recent spin on the diminishing returns of the Rabid Puppy campaign was that he was trying to push Worldcon further to the left to discredit it and his followers should act accordingly.

“Best Novel is even worse; as expected, Jemisin should be the odds-on favorite to win her second straight Best Novel Award. That is arguably a bigger joke than “Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By the T-Rex”, which is why it behooves us to wholeheartedly support The Obilisk Gate.[sic]”

For once, Day’s prediction was correct. At the 2017 Hugo Award ceremony, the climax of the proceedings saw N.K.Jemisin win a second Hugo Award for Best Novel. In a Guardian news article on the awards, the 2017 Hugo Award administrator Nicholas Whyte noted:

“This is the first time that the same author has won two years running since Lois McMaster Bujold in 1991 and 1992, a quarter of a century ago; and of course Bujold’s continuing appeal was confirmed by the Vorkosigan saga winning the new best series category,” said Whyte of Jemisin’s win. “This is a super set of results … which demonstrate that SF is thriving and diverse.”

Vox Day naturally lost to No Award again, this time coming seventh out of six.

The large majority of the winners were women, including all the story categories, and both of the artist and editor categories. The Best Related Work category was won by Ursula Le Guin for her collection of essays about life and writing. This was the final Hugo that Le Guin would win her lifetime.

With the announcement of the winners also came the statistics and a far more complex situation became clear in the nominations. EPH had helped Vox Day’s Rabid Puppies gain nominations. This wasn’t entirely unexpected as the proportional aspect of EPH was intended to help different groups within the wider body of voters get some representation in the set of finalists. In one of the ultimate ironies of the Debarkle story, Vox Day was a finalist for Best Editor Long Form with only 83 votes, whereas Patrick Nielsen Hayden didn’t make the ballot with 118 votes[6]. In a lesser irony, Rabid Puppy fan writer Jeffro Johnson gained a finalist spot with 80 voters because of EPH, with a fan writer who had been an active supporter of EPH losing out with 81 votes[7].

In the Hugo Administrator’s report on the impact of EPH, the conclusion was that the ‘bullet vote” strategy had had an impact.

“It is also clear that EPH made it relatively easier in 2017 for a nominee with a large number of “bullet” votes, ie whose supporters did not support any other nominees, to get on the ballot. Most notably, in one category a nominee who would have been in eighth place under the old system, and therefore not a finalist, ended in third place under EPH, edging out another nominee who had 42% more nominating votes. EPH+ would have made this easier still – another two such “bullet vote” candidates would have made it onto the final ballot.”

In the comments at File 770, one of the figures connected to EPH, Jameson Quinn, had a different perspective stating that “the idea that I think is mistaken is that this year’s outcome shows that under EPH, bullet voting works”

“The upshot is that, under EPH, it is /not/ the fact that the puppies bullet voted that gave them an advantage; that was merely incidental. Their advantage came from the fact that their choices did not overlap with those of other voters. Arguably, in this case, EPH was doing exactly what it was designed to do: increasing the diversity of nominators who had some finalists who they supported. The fact that PNH had 118 ballots but only 65 points mean that a majority of PNH nominators supported some other finalist or finalists. Eliminating PNH left only perhaps a score of voters without a finalist they supported; eliminating VD would have leftover four score;dr: in EPH, there is no incentive to bullet vote by leaving weak candidates off your ballot; but there is an incentive to “free ride” by leaving people who can win without your vote off your ballot. “

Jameson Quinn comment

At the 2017 Worldcon business meeting, further changes to the nomination process including Three Stage Voting (3SV) were voted down.

The Puppy influence over the Hugo Awards had finally come to an end.


36 thoughts on “Debarkle Chapter 62: The Last Dangerous Bark

  1. “Alien Stripper Bones by the T-Rex” was not the worst puppy finalist on the ballot in 2017. “An Unimaginable Light” by John C. Wright was much worse. In fact, it was so bad that my poor Mom, who was a first time Hugo voter that year, asked me what sort of crap that was, whereupon I explained the background to her. I hadn’t told her beforehand, because I didn’t want to influence her, in case she turned out to be a secret fan of robot torture porn. She wasn’t a fan of Stix Hiscock either – basically, her reaction was “Dinosaur erotica is a thing? Why?” But she wasn’t as disgusted as by the JCW story.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I did try to find a few pupy-sympathiser comments about the JCW story that were less than positive. I remember they existed but couldn’t find any with a cursory search.

      That story was bad in the sense that it made me worried about the author’s state of mind (or worry about it even more than usual)

      Liked by 2 people

  2. It was a moment of happiness that I felt, when I realised what Beales Plans for 2017 were. At that moment my best case scenario (only one puppytrash in a category) became the worst case scenario (one puppytrash in a category).
    I was extremly happy for best related work, where even Beales candidates would be better than everythink we had the last two years. (I had that reaction even when I had not read the Gaiman, but I am quite sure that even Gaiman at his worst could beat everythink that the puppys had here. Star Wars Art I was not that interested in, but I think it could not hurt.
    In the Dramatic Presentation (short and Long) and Novella I had developed a I don’t care that the Puppys nominated it, it doesn’t hurt so okay.
    The elegibility isues were of course so typical puppy that lol. (I mean fans can screw that up, but Beale had so many screwups that were hilarous bad)
    His anouncement was either bullshitting his supporters to the max (properly) or one of the dumpest thing possible posted from a different reality. Either way every person that followed that, should be ashamed of him/herself.
    I am quite happy that the Arts of Dark and Light (a boring title) was not nominated.

    And the next year Beale Publishing House showed support for del Arroz and stayed away from Worldcon in protest. It was very efective I am sure.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. “Vox Day’s more recent spin on the diminishing returns of the Rabid Puppy campaign was that he was trying to push Worldcon further to the left to discredit it and his followers should act accordingly.”
    OMG, that’s so diabolical! He’s like the Xanatos gambit incarnate in human form! Can anything stop this Machiavellian mastermind?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Last Dangerous Woofings?

      The Puppies were such inept clowns that it makes me laugh to see the word “dangerous” used in conjunction with them. 😀

      Liked by 2 people

  4. All the good tyops are taken! No fair! All I’m left with is nitpicking:

    “The Rabid nominees for best Professional artist…” — “Artist” should be capitalized, as is “Fan Artist” in the same sentence.

    “the finalists also included an Album…” — Contrariwise, “Album” s/b lower case.

    Vox Day sez: …”which is why it behooves us to wholeheartedly support The Obilisk Gate.” Is the misspelling of “Obelisk” yours or his? It’s important enough that if it’s his it should be followed by [sic].

    “In the conclusion to the Hugo Administrators report on the impact of EPH, the conclusion was” — A bit redundant. Possibly “The Hugo Administrators[‘] report on the impact of EPH concluded…” Add apostrophe.

    “At File 770, one of the figures connected to EPH, Jameson Quinn had a different perspective …” Close comma after “Jameson Quinn”. Also, sentence has no period.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I don’t know if this is worth mentioning in the main text, but I want to note that Chuck Tingle’s submission for the Hugo packet for Best Fan Writer greatly surprised me. Most of his/her/their public utterances are like the ones quoted in the Wired article here, of course: but the Hugo packet entry was in English that was normal, indeed better than normal, even elegant. (I wish I had it saved to refer to.) Nobody whose natural mode of expression is that public stuff could possibly have written it. So Tingle in public is somebody putting on an act.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I actually disagree. Tingle is autistic, and one of the things that’s quite common among autistic people is a sort of verbal codeswitching. Many of us “naturally” communicate in a sort of private language with a very idiosyncratic syntax and vocabulary (in my case it would come out as somewhere between Bluebottle from the Goons and Krazy Kat) but are also highly verbally articulate and even overly-formal at other times.
      That’s not to say that much of Tingle’s persona isn’t an act, of course, but the verbal oddities are the part of that persona that ring truest to me.


      1. Unfortunately, part of Tingle’s Hugo packet submission is no longer available. There was a great video about how he found out he was a finalist and then found out that the Puppies were responsible, which is no longer available. He also had a Storify collection of all of his tweets trolling the Puppies, and Storify went belly-up, but I saved a list of the tweets here:


  6. The best part of Beale’s complete failure to earn even a nomination for Best Series is that he rushed out the second (or rather third) volume of his terrible series to get it. [i]]A Sea of Skulls[/i] is blatantly incomplete, and even more of a mess than the first book. Beale has been promising a completed version for years now. I am not holding my breath.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. It’s been a while so I don’t remember if you mentioned it previously: one aspect of Tingle’s trolling (presumably the year that VD nominated his work) is that he asked Zoe Quinn to accept, should he win. As Quinn was the initial focus of Gamergate, this was a really wonderful bit of trolling. I remember someone remarking on the unicorn shoes she wore for the event, just to make the point (or points, since there were two of them).

    Sorry for not going back to see if you mentioned it or it was footnoted; I don’t have the brain capacity right now.

    Liked by 1 person

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