Sunday, August 02, 2015

Are the Hugos relevant?

I thought it was interesting that the Saturday night panel at ArmadilloCon last weekend on the subject of the Hugos was entitled "Are the Hugos Relevant?"

That's kind of a leading title, in my opinion, and it illuminates a certain mind-set. Now, Austin is not like most of Texas. Between the bureaucrats of the state government and the denizens of academia created by the University of Texas, it's much more like your typical bullshit East or West Coast political correctness enclave.

The title of the panel indicates the assumption of some people at least that because the "wrong types" of people got nominated for the Hugos this year, the award is no longer relevant. I think that's jumping the gun a bit; one panelist - Marguerite Reed - said of course the awards are still relevant, "or we wouldn't be talking about them."

In my opinion, the best outcome for the awards will be that at least one category gets No Awarded, thereby throwing a sop to the literary snobs. If the revenge backlash sought by the Puppy Kickers produces a long list of No Awards, then the awards will quickly slide off into oblivion. I mean, why participate in an award process where most of the categories were not presented?

A total Puppy sweep would probably produce a boycott from the Kickers who will redouble their attention towards the Nebulas, which is controlled by the SFWA and would never be subject to the kind of peasants' uprising that struck the Hugos this year.

Maybe one No Award, some wins for non-Puppy finalists in a few categories, a few Puppy wins - a mixed bag would be the best end for this year's internecine strife.

Some of the most vocal people in the Puppy Kicker camp should hope there is not a sweep of No Awards because they crossed the line in attacking some authors into that's called "exaction" under organized crime statutes. They threatened someone's income or livelihood. It's not extortion because no physical threat was employed, but when people say certain authors will never get published again, or that they will have to use a pen name in the future, they are committing exaction. Certain editors at Tor books - and one of the MCs at the Hugo ceremony - are guilty of this.

Of course,if the No Award threat fizzles, there'd be no cause for action in a court, but if an author - especially one who had a contract with Tor - loses out to No Award, they could sue for damages. That's probably the real reason Tom Doherty wrote the response he did to the hateful bilge sputtered by Irene Gallo about the Sad Puppies. His lawyers advised that he'd better distance Tor the company from its editors in case an exaction complaint is filed after the Hugo results are announced.


  1. Lou,

    Do you know for a fact that Doherty's lawyers told him that, or are you speculating?

    Your mention of the Nebulas begs the question: Are the Nebulas still relevant?

  2. Just an educated speculation, Keith.

    The Nebulas are relevant to some people, but it's a pretty small circle of friends.

  3. Under what legal theory is any author entitled to a literary award? If the author is not entitled to said award, there can be no legal action for not winning it.

    To claim any damages from Tor, somebody would have to 1) provide a winning legal theory to the question above and 2) prove an actual conspiracy by Tor to rig the award. News flash - an intemperate remark on Facebook does not an actual conspiracy make.

  4. It's not the award that makes for the damage, it's the potential loss of income to the author. Tor didn't rig the award, it threatened the livelihood of authors it has a disagreement with. That's like saying, "If you support Candidate X for mayor, I will ruin your business." It's retaliation.

  5. it's the potential loss of income to the author I suppose, in some alternate universe, you could get a judge to listen to somebody about potential loss of income. In reality, unless somebody is breaching a contract, not so much.

    If you support Candidate X for mayor, I will ruin your business maybe, if you prove actual collusion and not just hyperbole.

    In general, under your theory, any negative review, any public statement that "I'm never going to hire X to do Y" is legally actionable. No, it's not - unless the reason stated is a lie. Then the legal action is slander, not extortion.

    but when people say certain authors will never get published again, or that they will have to use a pen name in the future, these are clear statements of opinion, not threats.

  6. Robert Reynolds4:02 PM

    I'm afraid exaction doesn't quite mean what you think it means. Per Black's Law dictionary, the definition of exaction:

    Exaction is the is the wrongful act of compelling someone to make a payment to you where no payment is due at all. That's not the same as potential loss of future income.


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