Glenn Hauman: Neil Gaiman Does Not Need A Pity Hugo
Remember this class act, America?
This is Jeff Gillooly. You may remember him from the 90’s. He “masterminded” the hit on Nancy Kerrigan’s knee on the eve of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in 1994, to prevent Kerrigan from skating and making the U.S. Olympic Team, for the benefit of his ex-wife, Tonya Harding.
What does this have to do with the Hugo Awards? Well, it should be obvious. Theodore Beale, by slating again with his Rabid Puppies, has decided to kneecap the 2016 Hugo Awards… and just to add to the fun, this time he’s trying to create poison pills by nominating famous authors in some categories, so he can take the credit if they win, and cry persecution if they are rejected with the rest of his slate.
John Scalzi, talking about the Hugo mess on his blog, takes the position:
…I see some people here and elsewhere swearing they’re going to put anything that was on the Sad/Rabid slates or recommendation lists below “No Award” this year. Bluntly, you’ll be foolish if you do this. As I noted in my LA Times piece yesterday, the Puppies this year slated things that were already popular outside their little circles, like, for example, The Sandman: Overture, by Neil Gaiman.
Come on, folks. Does anyone really think Neil Gaiman holds active membership in the Puppy brigades? Or Stephen King? Or Alastair Reynolds (who specifically asked to be dropped from the Puppy lists, and was ignored)? Or Lois McMaster Bujold? […] Don’t give credit for the Puppies slating already popular work and then acting like they got it on the ballot, or for dragooning unwilling and unwitting people onto their slates for their own purposes. That’s essentially victim blaming. Rather, use your common sense when looking at the work and people nominated. The Puppies would be happy if you didn’t do that, mind you. I’m hard pressed to understand why you would oblige them so.
With all due respect, John’s way off base here. Hugo voters are more than entitled to say, “While Sandman: Overture is worthy of nomination, I’m voting No Award for everything that was slated because the nomination process was corrupted. Because of slate voting, books like Saga, Bitch Planet, Chrononauts, and Kaijumax weren’t allowed to compete. It’s a fixed fight against weaker opponents.” After all, if the slate pushed off more worthy contenders, is whatever’s left actually worthy of being called “Best”?
By the same token, King, Reynolds, Bujold, and any other person whose works were placed on the ballot by Beale’s machinations are perfectly entitled to withdraw their works from consideration without any loss of honor, because Beale’s slating tactics insured a uneven field. Beale publicly admits this, claiming “even when we don’t control the category, we still have the ability to decide who will win and who will lose when the SJWs don’t No Award the category.”
Neil Gaiman is well within his rights to say, “Yes, I believe Sandman: Overture is Hugo-worthy, but I don’t think I should win just because Scott McCloud’s The Sculptor was pushed off the ballot. I said The Sculptor was the best graphic novel I’ve read in years, it says so on the cover of the book. If I’m not going against that, it’s not a fair competition.”
Neil Gaiman does not need a pity Hugo. He’s already won five Hugos, fairly. He does not need a fixed fight to win them.
Lois McMaster Bujold does not need a pity Hugo. She’s already won four Hugos for best novel, tying the record. She does not need to play against the literary equivalent of the Washington Generals.
Stephen King does not need a pity Hugo. He’s Stephen Goddamn King. (And he won one in 1982.)
And getting votes for being the only good candidate in a bad field, a deliberately weakened field, is getting a pity Hugo.
One author has already realized this. Thomas A. Mays says he has decided to withdraw his Hugo-nominated short story “The Commuter” from the ballot:
I did not ask to be part of any list, but I hoped at the very least that it might bring other eyes to “The Commuter”, readers that might appreciate it for what it was and perhaps honor me with an uncontroversial nomination (or at least a few Kindle purchases). But, now that all hopes for a clean nomination are dashed, it is my turn to speak:
Rather than eat a shit sandwich, I choose to get up from the table.
You know who needs a pity Hugo? Theodore Beale. And he’ll never even get that. Maybe there should be a participation Hugo for him. The type some teachers give to a little boy who eats too much library paste, so he can feel better about himself.
Saying Beale wins by provoking others to further damage to the prestige of the Hugos is just silly– it’s Beale himself who kneecapped the Hugos. Beale’s claim of “You’re pushing worthy authors off!” is self-serving, because he pushed them on us in the first place— just because his actions insure someone other than him benefits is no reason to reward him for swinging a wrench at Nancy Kerrigan’s kneecap.
Here’s what Beale doesn’t get, not being a very good creator himself: good creators want to be judged on the quality of what they create. They don’t want to race against hobbled runners. Can you imagine the Cincinnati Reds felt good about beating the Black Sox to win the World Series? Beale is trying to force an affirmative action awards program, because he and his are not good enough to win on their own merits. And in doing so, he’s become the Jeff Gillooly of science fiction.
Thanks for making this argument, Glenn. I think it’s worth considering that a poisoned Hugo process does not require giving any awards.
Nor do authors have to participate in them, no matter what George RR Martin says.
What you said about The Sculptor.
I have to take issue with your Black Sox analogy at the end.
At the time of the 1919 World Series, the Cincinnati Reds players may have heard rumors that the Sox were conspiring with gamblers (because there were rumors around), but it wasn’t certain knowledge, and, frankly, the Sox didn’t play that badly during the series, which has always been the point of contention for supporters of Buck Weaver and Joe Jackson, that these two weren’t part of the conspiracy. After the fact, in 1920, when the evidence started coming out, then the Reds players knew.
This is why the Black Sox analogy doesn’t work. Everyone knows what Beale and his supporters have done. Your analogy works -if- Beale wasn’t public about what he was doing, if he didn’t reveal that he’d rigged the ballots until -after- the statues were awarded. But that would require uncharacteristic restraint and subtlety from Beale.
The analogy still holds. Once the Reds found out, do you think they were happy that their achievement… wasn’t?
We will need to have Retro Hugos for these contaminated years.
I thought part of the (at least Sad Puppy) slates were supposed to ASK people if they wanted on their lists, and honor the writer/artists choice. — or is it just Beale’s Rabids list have people who did not consent?
I think the rabids refused to remove works. And it is the rabid slate that controlled the nominations.
Beth Meacham I think it was a combination. Beale piggy backing off of the Sad list. Like last year.
Except this year he’s piggy backing off of it – and cherry picking well known authors who have already won before.
Not so, Wrenn. Take a look at the various analyses that have been done. If nothing else, sf fandom is full of number crunchers.
Consent has never been a big thing with Beale. Ask his wife.
Both the Sad and Rabid Puppies announced this year that they would put people onto their list/slate regardless of the wishes of the people in question. When some authors (such as Reynolds and Valente) requested they be removed from said lists, their requests were refused.
Beth Meacham I disagree It is a combination.
. From parsing the winners and the lists. I get – if you take out the overlap between Rabid and Sad – and go with how many Rabids only made the nomination – you get 37 out of 85. that’s 42%. Simple Math. (Mathematician here).
The domination of the list is due to the overlap between Sad and Rabid. Not Rabid alone.
And of those 37, without doing a check 3, maybe 4 of them (Rabid only. there are many more on both Rabid and Sad lists) are well known names.
I think you should vote for decent prospects, no matter what list they were on. Many of them might well have been nominated anyway, even if there’d been no Rabid Puppies list. By refusing to vote for anything, regardless of merit, you’re playing the Rabid Puppies game, and helping to destroy the Hugos–which is what they want to do.
The awards are tainted any way you look at them this year, but voting for something worthwhile seems the best option to me.
That’s like saying Tonya Harding deserved the medal after better skaters were prevented from competing.
“Game Of Thrones” was Emmy nominated for Best Dramatic Series in 2012, but lost to “Homeland”. Would you think it fair that GOT won if a slate had kept “Homeland” off the nomination ballot? After all, “Game Of Thrones” was good enough to get nominated anyway.
I think that you really got this right.
I’ll be sad to see this happen. Just what Vox wants you to do.
Gardner Dozois Beale’s stated, âeven when we donât control the category, we still have the ability to decide who will win and who will lose when the SJWs donât No Award the category.â
I’m happy to deny him that control, even if he claims he wins, because he will claim he wins no matter what is done. https://archive.is/njzom
Let me be even more direct: you got Hugo-nominated for “The Peacemaker” in ’83. If you knew a slate not only helped put you on the final ballot, but kept Octavia Butler, Fred Pohl, and Hilbert Schenck off– how would you feel about winning the Hugo? Would you be grateful to the slatemaker for clearing the field for you, even if you would have been nominated anyway?
Personally, i would (if i were voting, which i’m not) simply not vote in the categories that were contaminated.
I’m fairly sure that “No Award” is likely to win them again, but if the game’s crook, and any possible outcome is negative, don’t play.
Not voting is ambivalence. Voting “No Award” is repudiation.
If the stakes would be something that’s of concern to you, don’t play another man’s game.
Well said. I plan on doing what I did last year. I will read, view, lay eyes on, and inform myself about every entry. I will be an informed voter. I will vote for the works I consider Hugo worthy. I will vote No Award if I feel it’s appropriate. After last year, though, I know some authors I don’t like… and I don’t look forward to their entries.
I agree with Susan. I will almost certainly end up voting No Award in at least one category–but if there’s stuff on the ballot worthy of a Hugo, I’ll vote for it. I still say blanket No Award voting in all the categories is exactly what Beale wants us to do–and you know that he’s going to dance around claiming victory, as he did last year, no matter what the outcome of the voting is. Every year since I’ve been voting for the Hugos, starting in the ’70s, there’s been stuff left off of the ballot that I thought ought to have been on there, including stuff that I thought was more worthy than the eventual winners. I don’t see how this situation is intrinsically different, in spite of the intervention of the Rabids.
The problem is, and I hate to write this, Beale did win this year. Not “will win” or “might win”, but has already won. In multiple categories, the ballot consists entirely of what Beale told his minions to put on the ballot. Full stop. Anything you can vote for in those categories is *only there because Beale decided, for whatever reason, to put it on his slate*. Is, for example, Sandman: Overture a worthy candidate. Certainly it is. Would it have made it onto a non-tainted ballot. Extremely likely. But the only reason it even has a chance of winning this year is because Beale put it on his slate as the human shield for the category instead of The Sculptor. Or The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage. Or The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (don’t laugh; it was on my nominating ballot). Or 20 odd other things I think most people would recognize as a worthy winner, even if not on their personal nominating ballots. The way I have to look at this is to No Award all the completely tainted categories…unless I’m convinced that the human shields are what I would’ve put at 1 even on an untainted ballot. Then I can put that at 1. But otherwise, I think we just have to admit this year is even more of a lost year for the Hugos than last and not allow Beale to dictate the winners, even if they are worthy.