So why not Tad Williams?

Not a Debarkle post as such, just an extended footnote.

One of the names that kept coming up from Brad Torgersen as an example of an author overlooked by the Hugo Awards was fantasy writer Tad Williams. It’s hard to say he didn’t have a point, after all Williams has been writing a lot of interesting and popular fiction for some time and he’s often hit that Hugo sweet spot of writing novels that fit within the expectations of the genre but which stretch the edges of what can be done. Having said that, I don’t think it is that mysterious. Williams has mainly written fantasy series and the bulk of his published list on ISFDB is covered by just five series over 31 years ( ). That doesn’t quite add up to only 5 chances at a Best Novel Hugo but it does limit the chances. Even so, Tad Williams was a reasonable example for a critic of the Hugo Awards in 2014 and a good argument for the addition of a Best Series category. (Aaron Pound looked at this back in 2015 )

The question I have though (and I know people wondered about this at the time) is why Brad Torgersen didn’t nominate Tad Williams in Sad Puppies 3?

Did Williams have an eligible novel? I believe so. Sleeping Late on Judgement Day, the third in his urban fantasy Bobby Dollar series was published by DAW in 2014. That would also have meant SP3 would have included a book from DAW, another publisher like Baen that could claim to have been underrepresented in the Hugos.

Did William have eligible short fiction? This is less obvious but yes, he did. His short story collection The Very Best of Tad Williams was published in 2014. It was mainly fiction from earlier years but it contained two new stories A Fish Between Three Friends and Omnitron, What Ho! I haven’t read the collection and I don’t know if the stories are any good but as far as I can check, they look like stuff Brad could have included.

So why no Tad from Brad? The simplest answer is Brad didn’t look and only did the most minimal research in making his picks. Alternatively, Brad didn’t want to have a second magical-detective story on his slate given that he wanted Jim Butcher’s most recent Dresden Files on there.

The irony being, that whatever Brad’s reasons are, they also partly answer why Tad Williams has been overlooked by the Hugo Awards — people who might have nominated one of his books, nominated something else instead.

Debarkle Chapter 33: Dramatis Personae — Brad, John and the Evil League of Evil

[content warning for language and prejudice on race, gender and sexuality]

2014 had been a tumultuous year for science fiction: ructions at the SFWA had carried over from 2013, while in the adjacent world of video games Gamergate was in full swing, and meanwhile, Larry Correia’s Sad Puppies 2 campaigns had caused controversy at the Hugo Awards.

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Debarkle Chapter 32: Justice, Dinosaurs and the Water that Falls on You from Nowhere

Larry Correia and Vox Day’s Sad Puppies 2 campaigns gained them some finalists spots but were trounced in the final voting. Correia’s writing friend and ally, Brad Torgersen blamed the results on “affirmative action”. Eight of the thirteen categories that had gone to a sole person had been won by women[1] but Torgersen had a very broad sense of what he meant by “affirmative action” (see chapter 31). The claim that deserving authors were not being sufficiently recognised by the Hugo Awards had a related claim that UNdeserving authors were being disproportionately recognised by the Hugo Awards because of “politics”.

The 2014 Hugo Award winners would provide the supporters of the Sad Puppy campaigns with some examples.

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A case study featuring Larry C and mad auditing skillz

At the Monster Hunter Nation blog, Larry Correia has a post on how authors should deal with being spammed with one star reviews or similar kinds of attacks:

As is not uncommon with what Larry writes, some of it is good advice, some of it is advice that obviously works for Larry but is very much tuned to his public personality and some of it is is confabulated nonsense. I wont pick out which bit is which because you are smart people and can read it for yourself if you feel like.

What caught my attention though, was a specific example he cites. This example interested me because of something I’ve been discussing within the Debarkle. The paradigmatic example of the issue is the oft-repeated claim by Larry that his Campbell nomination was greeted by lots of critics attack his work and specifically that a reviewer said “if Larry Correia wins the Campbell it will end literature forever”. Now, I’m more than satisfied that this quote was wholly made up and that this whole mythology was based on a bad-but-fair review of his book by Nicholas Whyte who said nothing like the quote above (or variations on it). However, that is nigh on impossible to prove because maybe somebody did write something like what Larry quotes but somehow 1. deleted it 2. Larry didn’t comment on it at the time 3. nobody archived it 4. nobody else commented on it, quoted it, repeated etc at the time either.

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Debarkle Chapter 31: The Hugos Go to London

[Content warning for discussion of sexual assault, misogyny and transphobic language]

2014 was a busy year in the history of the Debarkle, with Larry Correia’s Sad Puppy 2 campaign, Vox Day’s involvement in Gamergate and the rest of fandom having its own controversies. Day had already started the year with a different problem: the Christian publisher who was selling his epic fantasy Throne of Bones had been sold and the new owners were not interested in Day’s book which didn’t fit the mould of the Christian Booksellers Association[1]. Day explained:

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Debarkle Chapter 29: Dramatis Personae — Mike Glyer & File 770

Our story begins before our protagonists do. In 1951, two years before Worldcon would host the first Hugo Awards, a party in a hotel room during the ninth Worldcon was sufficiently rowdy to attract the attention of the hotel detective. The party decamped to room 770 and carried on and on to apparently mythic levels fueled by gin and creme-de-menthe[1]. Aside from an unstoppable party, this New Orleans based con, also managed to snag the world premiers of The Day the Earth Stood Still and When World’s Collide[2] which overall sounds like an interesting Worldcon to visit with a time machine. The numbers ‘770’ took on an added meaning in fannish circles to indicate fan fun.

In the 1970s a young Los Angeles based fan, Mike Glyer, began writing for and editing multiple fanzines. His own fanzines either focused on the news (e.g. Organlegger, Sylmarrilion)[3] or on longer articles including reviews and opinion pieces (e.g. Prehensile)[4]. Produced variously from mimeographed copies to offset-printed, the fanzines mixed text and cartoons with fannish humour, reviews, gossip and the inner workings of fandom.

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Debarkle Chapter 28: Gamergate 2014 meets Vox Day

[content warning for descriptions of internet harassment and extreme misogyny]

A fun fact that I learnt today from Wikipedia is that the word “gamergate” means a worker ant that can reproduce sexually and the term is pronounced something like “gamma-gate”[1]. That will be about the only wholesome fact in this chapter. For the rest of it, the chapter covers what Wikipedia entitles the “Gamergate Controversy”. What this chapter is not going to be able to do is give a full and authoritative account of the controversy. Instead, I want to look at some of the precursors to Gamergate that influenced later events in the Debarkle story and where Gamergate intersected with some of the key players in the Sad Puppy Hugo Award controversy.

The major events in Gamergate ran from August 2014 and into 2015 and beyond. However, for this chapter I will only be looking at 2014. It is also a distorted view of the controversy. Vox Day presents himself as a significant figure in Gamergate but third party accounts do not. Nevertheless, for the purposes of the Debarkle narrative, the influence of Gamergate on Day and the political and personal coalition that arose from that are important. I’m getting ahead of myself though.

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Debarkle Chapter 27: Vox Day, Racism, Sexism and Opera Vita Aeterna

[content warning for extreme views on race, gender and sexual violence]

Larry Correia’s second Sad Puppies slate was not very different from the first. There were a lot of Mormon men (because of his writer connections in Utah) and seven of the twelve people listed were people Correia had recommended in previous years. Marko Kloos was new but Correia knew him from gun forum days and had been promoting his book. Sarah Hoyt was also new but she was a fellow Baen author and they had a lot in common politically (and coincidentally, both had family connections to Portugal).

Vox Day was different though. Nominally, he had called himself a libertarian in the past but his views on women and race were more extreme than Correia’s. I don’t know if there was any communication between them other than the comments left by ‘VD’ at Correia’s blog but the additional works that Vox Day listed on his own blog, look more like works that Correia would have listed if he had the time.

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Debarkle Chapter 26: Sad Puppies (Season Two) crosses the streams

January 2014, somewhere in Utah…

Larry Correia had learned a lot from his three previous Hugo campaigns[1] and Sad Puppies 2 had a lot more structure than his earlier attempts. Correia’s initial posts were lighthearted attempts to get readers of his blog to sign up for the 2014 Worldcon as associate members. The location would be London, so unlike Nevada (2012) and Texas (2013), it was less likely that many of his fans could easily attend. Correia did have fans in Europe, but Baen Books were not well distributed outside of North America and were not well known as an SFF publisher.

The second post contained a funny cartoon complete with a jovial Larry Correia and a moose and some practical information about the advantages of a Worldcon membership even if you couldn’t actually attend the convention.

“But wait. There’s more! Normally all of the voters are sent a packet of all the nominated works to read, so you get more than your membership costs worth of eBooks. Sure, most of them are screeds about corporate greed, global warming, dying polar bears, or whatever the left wing cause of the day is, but that’s why we need to nominate some works that are actually entertaining.”

Correia couldn’t know it at the time but the Hugo Packet for 2014 would turn out to be a marvellous deal (at least for fans of the Wheel of Time saga[2]).

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