Friday, April 17, 2015

An orphan of the storm

As a result of the decision of two people to have their works removed from the Hugo ballot, the Hugo committee moved two other works up in the ranks and then closed the ballot yesterday

I think closing the ballot at this time was a smart idea; it's obvious that the SF establishment was "leaning on" — as they say in the Mafia — people to drop off the ballot. The longer this campaign of blackmail and threats continued, the more likely the ballot was to be unsettled.

One tidbit of information which caught some eagle eyed observers by surprise came from the updating of the nominating ballot range released by the Hugo committee. Although the actual number of nominations for each work is not released until after the awards are presented, upon the presentation of the ballot the range of the number of ballots for successfully nominated works is released.

For example, the range of nominations as released yesterday for the short story finalists was 132-226, which means whatever story got the most nominations had 226 and whoever finished fifth had 132. As a result of the update, you would expect the lower range to drop because whatever story originally finished sixth was moved up. However in the case of the short story category, the higher number also dropped, from 230.

I'm not a statistician, but I'm also not the only person who saw that and realizes it may mean that “Goodnight Stars” by Annie Bellet, which she withdrew, may have had the most nominations overall.

Having the most nominations is not a guarantee of finally winning the award, but honestly I thought I did well to make the ballot in light of competition and her story had a very good shot if not the best shot at actually winning the award. The fact that she may have lost this opportunity to win a Hugo because the smear campaign conducted by the SF establishment is reprehensible.

I've had more than one person urged me not to withdraw from the ballot. I'm a stubborn old cuss and I never seriously considered it. But I feel very sorry that Annie felt so buffeted by the storm. I did not know who she was or about her story before the nomination, so the nomination had some benefit for me. I hope she heals from this experience.


  1. I don't claim to be a mathematician either (in spite of some training), but I believe you're correct on this one. The nominations aren't preference voting like the final ballot. When Bellet withdrew her nomination, it didn't change the number of votes for any other nominee. If she were ranked third, the number of nominees in first and second place would stay the same while the number in 4th moves to 3rd, in 5th moves to 4th, and the former 6th becomes fifth. If the top number changes, she must have been ranked first.

    Advance apologies if this comment shows up twice; my first publish attempt appeared to fail. Sorry...

  2. Lewis1:27 PM

    You are probably correct that Annie Bellet had 230 nominations, putting her in first before she dropped out. You fail to point out that at least 118 of those were RP supporters, so had she not been on the slate she would have had 112 nominations and not made the shortlist. Looks like either way RP screwed her out of a chance at a Hugo, not the SF Establishment. Though you'll probably just delete this comment, it makes too much sense.

    1. Andrew2:56 PM

      RP were the ones badgering her to withdraw after her nomination? SP and RP supporters would be the ones booing her if she had won?

    2. Lewis4:38 PM

      You make a fair point. Although I doubt she would have been booed much had she won, as referenced by the outside support she received. It's all conjecture, we will never know. It's pretty much 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' for her situation, which is what sucks the most.

  3. Looking at the reaction of the establishment to the Rabid Puppies, I'm pretty sure Bellett lost a lot of support for appearing on that list, probably at least as much as she gained. The establishment has been nothing if not vindictive.

    I believe she would have made the ballot regardless. But it was the establishment that bullied her off the ballot.

    So yes, you are correct, but not for the reason you propose.

  4. Lewis3:53 PM

    The bottom range for short story is 132, meaning Annie would have missed the cutoff without the RP vote. Everyone not on a slate missed the cut, so she would not have made it along with every other 'deserving' author not on a slate. Which is why the slate voting hurts everyone. Had there not been any slates at all you would likely be correct, she likely would have made the shortlist. But the fact that there were slates this year means Annie doesn't get a chance at a Hugo, which is disappointing.

    Also, did she not say that she wasn't pressured to withdraw? Are we not supposed to believe her?

    1. When my boss asks me to do something, I say I would be happy to, even if I'd hate to do so. Also, sometimes, people do this thing called "reading between the lines" because sometimes writers say things without explicitly stating them.

      This past week, I've been continually amazed at how many authors and readers are suddenly unaware of subtext and implication. It's almost like willful ignorance being employed to avoid uncomfortable thoughts.

    2. Lewis5:59 PM

      I agree and posted below that I understand there are different forms of pressure and subtext. If I could edit the last sentence from that post I would, because after thinking about it you are absolutely correct.
      That doesn't change the fact that the Rabid Puppies cost her a chance at a Hugo, either by not being a member of their Slate (and thus not getting nominated) or by being a member of the Slate and withdrawing because (among other things) they are now tainted.

  5. I agree, although it wasn't the Sad Puppies intent, in the end the slate hurt more than it helped. The fact Vox Day piggybacked with his Rabid Puppies just made everything go straight to hell. Yeah, in retrospect it turned out to be a mistake. Hindsight is 20/20, you know. I think already declaring there will be a Sad Puppies 4 is also a mistake. I will be at a convention in Richmond next weekend and I will have a chance to express my opinion to Kate Paulk about that.

    As for the pressure, it depends on your definition I suppose. She has stated that she was attacked as having stolen a nomination from someone who was a real writer. After she withdrew, that same person said they would reward her by actually reading and buying her stuff.

    I don't know if you would consider that pressure.

    1. Lewis4:48 PM

      You are right, hindsight is 20/20. And you are also right in that pressure come both directly and indirectly. As you say, luckily for you you have a real job, so any potential damage to your reputation doesn't matter to you. From what I've read of your work (a few short stories from 2008ish) it shouldn't affect you. Your related work nomination 'Reading Gardner' is also pretty insightful, and I think could have made it on the shortlist without the help of the slate voting. That aside, would you really want a Hugo that came as the result of this slate voting? If slate voting becomes the norm in the future it may not matter, but as it is it cheapens the award to be worth almost nothing.

    2. I agree that "Letters from Gardner" may have made it on the ballot on its own; unfortunately, we'll never know.

      I'm not worrying about winning a Hugo. "Letters" might have stood a shot, but not any more. I'm more concerned for my safety in attending the WorldCon. The opponents of the Puppies have vilified the authors to the point where I wouldn't be surprised if someone is physically attacked. I'd be worried for my wife, too. People have been dehumanized.

    3. Lewis5:49 PM

      I'd wager "Letters" still has a shot. The backlash against those suggesting 'No Award' in the all-slate categories, along with the thousands of new voters who will be voting should at least give it a shot. 'Transhuman' and 'Wisdom' on the other hand have (in my opinion) no shot. Both of those are of subpar quality (again in my opinion).

      It's unfortunate that you fear for your safety, but again I doubt you really need to. Larry and Brad (unfortunately) would have more of a reason to be worried, but as an author you had no active role in it. It's unfortunate that there are some on the 'establishment' side that are taking it to another level, but unfortunately there are rabid people on all sides of the spectrum. All I can personally do is read the works and vote as I see fit, but I am keeping hope that the majority of other voters will do the same.

  6. I'll keep plugging "Letters" because it's a good book, but I'm not going to waste any time writing an acceptance speech.

    As far as physical danger is concerned, I'm thinking of when Jack Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald was so demonized (rightfully so) for what he did in killing President Kennedy that when Ruby saw an opportunity to kill him, he did. No one who knew Ruby thought it was premeditated. First, Ruby wasn't smart enough to make a plan. Secondly, he left he beloved dog in the car. People who knew him said he would have never done that on purpose.

    Ruby was a two-bit gangster and a half-wit intellectually. His brain was inflamed by the pervasive hatred at large against Oswald, which is why he acted spontaneously . That's what may happen to Correia or Torgersen. I'm a big mook and probably not in any physical danger. My wife is quite the mundane however, and if anyone reads her name on her badge and goes off on her, it could get very ugly very fast.


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