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Once More, Into the Kennels

April 17, 2015

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Brad Torgersen has added a post to his blog: “Sad Puppies: We Are Not Rabid Puppies.”

Larry Correia has also spoken up on MONSTER HUNTER NATION: “I Am Not Vox Day.”

I commend them both for making the distinction so loudly and clearly. And I accept what they say. The Sad Puppies are not Rabid Puppies. Larry Correia is not Vox Day. I regret anything I might have done or said that blurred the line, or created a false impression that all Puppies were the same. (Admittedly, having ‘Puppies’ in the name of both slates does foster confusion). I am glad you set that straight.

But now… sorry, sorry… I have a few more thoughts that have occured to me about Puppygate. Questions, really.

I think we are all pretty clear on where the Rabid Puppy slate came from: Vox Day made it up. He listed a lot of books and movies and editors and writers he liked, told his followers to vote for them, and they did. Pretty cut and dried. And that’s the last I will say about the Rabids.

I am a little more unclear on the process that created the Sad Puppy slate. Brad, if I recall correctly (and do correct me if I am wrong), you said that you solicited nominations and suggestions from the readers of your blog. Presumably Mr. Correia did the same on MONSTER HUNTER NATION. Maybe other blogs were involved. Sarah Hoyt? I don’t know. In any case, you asked for suggestions, and you received a lot of them. And from those, you produced the Sad Puppy slate.

My question, though… how did you go about the winnowing? Presumably more than five books/ stories/ editors were suggested for each category. Yet you did not throw them all onto a long Recommended Reading list, as happens, say, with LOCUS or NESFA. Presumably some of your fans and readers did not see their own favorites reflected on the final list. So how was the slate selected? Were the books and stories you listed those that got the most votes? In other words, was your process a sort of “primary election,” to select candidates for the general? Alternatively, did you pick and choose, putting on some suggestions, discarding others? Did you do that by yourself? Was it you and Larry Correia? You and Larry and some other people of like minds?

In your last blog post, your wrote:

“The objectives of Sad Puppies 3 have been simple and consistent:

● Use the democratic selection system of the Hugo awards.
● No !œquiet! logrolling. Make it transparent.
● Boost authors, editors, and works !” regardless of political persuasion.
● Bring recognition to people who’ve been long overlooked.
● Get some good promotion for new folks coming up in the field.
● Have fun!

I will take you at your word that these were the aims of the Sad Puppies, as opposed to those of the Rabid Puppies, which seem to be more simply, “Destroy the Hugos, outrage the liberals, and plunge all fandom into war.”

I’ll give you the fourth and fifth on your list. You did bring recognition to people who had long been overlooked (whether it was a good sort of recognition is another question, but you certainly got their names out there), and you did generate lots of promotion for some newer folks, most notably the Campbell nominees, and, well, the two young writers who have withdrawn.

I would quibble about your third stated aim. Yes, you did include some women and some minority writers and some writers with different political views on your Sad Puppy slate, but… oh, hell, look, I will grant you that one too, for the sake of argument. My interest is elsewhere.

And for aim number six — have fun — boy, howdy. Are we having fun yet? I’m not. Are you?

Moving on, though, I would like to focus on the first and second aims.

Number one, you wanted to use the democratic selection method of the Hugo Awards. And we’re all in favor of democracy, of course. Except… was your own selection procedure democractic? The stories and novels on your slate, were those the ones that were selected most often, the ones that got the most nominations? If you tell me they were, fine… then you had a primary. But if you tell me that you (or you and Mr. Correia, or you and he and some other Sad Puppies) made judgment calls of your own from amongst the books and stories put forward by your readers… why, that would not be democratic at all. That would be, well, a clique operating behind closed doors. Maybe even a one-man clique, if it was just you.

So tell me, if you would: how did you get from lots of suggestions down to four or five per category? What were your criteria, and who made the final choices??

Which brings me to your second stated aim. “No quiet logrolling. Make it transparent.”

The Hugo Awards have been transparent for decades. Not always, admittedly — final vote totals and nominations were not generally released in the 60s and 70s, and there were always rumors of funny stuff going on behind closed doors. I credit Charles Brown and LOCUS with breaking that down, by making a point of demanding the hard numbers year after year, until the concoms finally began to do so. This year, as for many years now, after all the rockets have been handed out, as the fans begin to leave the auditorium in Spokane, they will be handed sheets with a complete voting breakdown of every category. Sometimes the complete list of nominating totals are included as well; if not, those turn up slightly later. Nominations not just for the books and stories that made the ballot, but for all those that did not. Everyone will be able to see how much they won by, how much they lost by. Hard numbers. Transparency.

(I find these endlessly fascinating myself. Every year, I find myself poring over the numbers at the Hugo Losers party, when I really should be drinking and flirting. What can I say? I can’t help myself).

I am sure I would be equally intrigued by your own “primary” numbers. You favor transparency. Would you be willing to show us your own “primary” results? How many people made suggestions? How many books were nominated? How many votes did each of them get? Were any passed over for the slate, and if so, why? Hard numbers, same as the Hugos. Just so, you know, fandom — and your own Puppies — can know for certain that no “quiet log-rolling” went on.

One last question. You say you want inclusion. You say you want democracy. And you have already announced Sad Puppies 4, aimed at the 2016 Hugo Awards at Big Mac II. I understand that Kate Paulk of MAD GENIUS CLUB will be running things next year. I presume the mechanism will be the same — a call for suggestions, which will then somehow be winnowed down to a slate. (If that’s wrong, do correct me, I want to have the facts).

So maybe my last question is for Kate Paulk rather than you or Mr. Correia. I don’t know. But it’s a simple question. When you open up Sad Puppies 4 for nominations…

Can I nominate?

I read a lot of books and stories. I have editors and fan writers and artists I think are shamefully overlooked, same as you. I am a fan too. Can I nominate my own favorites, and be assured that they will be given equal weight to Larry Correia’s nominations, and Brad’s, and John C. Wright’s, and all the other Puppies?

We want democracy. We want transparency. We don’t want log-rolling. General elections need to be honest, but primary elections should be honest too. And you guys do NOT believe in any sort of political litmus tests, I know, you’ve said as much a hundred times… so I know you will welcome my own suggestions for Sad Puppies 4, right? Oh, and PNH and TNH, and N.K. Jemisin, and Connie Willis, and David Gerrold, and John Scalzi, and all my friends in the Brotherhood Without Banners… we all love science fiction, we all love puppies…

Can we play too?

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