We are back from Sasquan, where we saw friends, bought books, were wined and dined by editors and publishers, partied, breathed a lot of smoke (cough, cough), and attended the Hugo Awards.
By now most of you reading this will know what happened. The news has been all over the internet. You can pretty well tell how the evening went from the reactions. The Puppies are howling in outrage and anger, while simultaneously claiming it as a great victory and what they wanted all along. Fandom is mostly relieved. No, not a great Hugo night — how could it be, with so many No Awards — but not nearly as bad as some had feared either.
And my own reactions?
I did pretty well handicapping the awards. Missed a few, sure, but I got more right than wrong. Actually, my predictions were more on the nose than they have been for a decade or so. Maybe the slates and their opponents simplified things, in a weird way. Anyway…
The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer was first up. It went to Wesley Chu, as I’d hoped, and as I predicted that was a harbinger for the rest of the night. Chu defeated four Puppy nominees, and his win was the start of a landslide. The Puppies lost and lost big; not just defeated, but routed, finishing behind No Award in almost all cases.
I totally whiffed on Best Fan Artist. I picked Brad Foster to win, and he finished last. But Laura Mixon won Best Fan Writer (YES!), a big win over both the Puppy nominees, the Moen faction, the Nuclear Option, and the allies and enablers of Requires Hate. It was a great moment for fandom, and Laura gave a moving and eloquent acceptance, best speech of the night.
I missed on Fancast, but hit on Fanzine (JOURNEY PLANET) and SemiProzine (LIGHTSPEED), both popular choices that the audience applauded loudly. Julie Dillon won Best Professional Artist. I’d called that one too. At this point I was 5-2 as a handicapper.
Then I hit a bump. Two bumps, in fact. Both editing categories went to No Award.
I had picked Mike Resnick in Short Form and Toni Weisskopf in Long Form, and indeed, each of them finished above all the other nominees in the first round of voting… but well behind No Award. This was a crushing defeat for the slates, and a big victory for the Puppy-Free ballot of Deirdre Moen. Honestly? I hated this. In my judgment the voters threw the babies out with bathwater in these two categories. Long Form had three nominees who are more than worthy of a Hugo (and one, Jim Minz, who will be in a few more years), and Short Form had some good candidates too. They were on the slates, yes, but some of them were put on there without their knowledge and consent. A victory by Resnick, Sowards, Gilbert, or Weisskopf would have done credit to the rocket, regardless of how they got on the ballot. (All four of these editors would almost certainly have been nominated anyway, even if there had been no slates).
((Some are saying that voting No Award over these editors was an insult to them. Maybe so, I can’t argue with that. But it should be added that there was a far far worse insult in putting them on the ballot with Vox Day, who was the fifth nominee in both categories. Even putting aside his bigotry and racism, Beale’s credential as an editor are laughable. Yet hundreds of Puppies chose to nominate him rather than, oh, Liz Gorinsky or Anne Lesley Groell or Beth Meacham (in Long Form) or Gardner Dozois or Ellen Datlow or John Joseph Adams (in Short Form). To pass over actual working editors of considerable accomplishment in order to nominate someone purely to ‘stick it to the SJWs’ strikes me as proof positive that the Rabid Puppies at least were more interested in saying ‘fuck you’ to fandom than in rewarding good work)).
I also misliked the roar of approval that went up at the announcement of the first No Award. I understand it, yes… fandom as a whole is heartily sick of the Puppies and delighted to see them brought low… but No Award is an occasion for sadness, not celebration, especially in THESE two categories. For what its worth, neither Parris nor I participated in the cheering. And the two No Awards dropped my score to 5 – 4.
Which brought us to my own category: Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. I was the designated acceptor for GAME OF THRONES, and I had some words from David Benioff and Dan Weiss in my pocket, but I didn’t think I would get to use them, and I didn’t. Even so, my call was wrong. I’d predicted “The Mountain and the Viper” would lose to DOCTOR WHO. Instead we lost to ORPHAN BLACK. The Doctor finished second. It is telling that the three shows that were on the slates — us, THE FLASH, and GRIMM — finished at the bottom, below the two the Puppies ignored. This was a clear defeat for the Pups, and another victory for Moen’s Puppy-Free ballot. Plainly a lot of voters ignored the shows on the slates. Nobody at HBO or GAME OF THRONES had any contact with the Puppies, mind you, and I am pretty certain the same was true of GRIMM and THE FLASH. By slating us, the Pups effectively destroyed our chances. I don’t mind… much. ORPHAN BLACK is a worthy win, an excellent show long overdue for some recognition, and GOT had won three years in a row. Even so, there’s a part of me that would have liked to have seen how GAME OF THRONES did against ORPHAN BLACK on a level playing field. Even chances we might have won a fourth, I say. But we’ll never know. The Pups poisoned the well.
Dramatic Presentation, Long Form went to GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. The only candidate from the slates to win all evening. I called that one. If not for the slates, I think GUARDIANS might have won even bigger… Puppygate drove some voters to the unslated CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER, I think. But a win is a win is a win. I was 6-5 by this point.
Graphic Novel was next, though. Another miss for me. I had loved MS MARVEL (yay! a very fun read, a great new character for the Marvel universe), but I predicted SAGA for the victory, and MS. MARVEL took the rocket. Should have gone with my heart instead of my head. 6-6. Urk.
That was followed by two more No Awards, for Related Work and Short Story, both of which I called correctly. Related Work was the weakest category on the ballot, with two truly odious finalists. “The Hot Equations” was the strongest of the bunch, but not strong enough to cop a Hugo… not when people like Gilbert, Weisskopf, and Resnick had already been passed over. In Short Story, “Totaled” was probably the strongest slate nominee on the ballot, aside from Jim Butcher… but the tide was running strong by then, and it was swept under. Which brought me to 8-6 as a handicapper.
I had picked NO AWARD in Novelette as well, but I missed that one. Nobody ran a strong race, but in the end the Dutch author Thomas Olde Heuvelt eked out a narrow win with “The World Turned Upside Down” and took the rocket. He was the only non-slate nominee in the three short fiction categories. Novella did go NO AWARD, which anyone could have predicted by this point.
I did not cheer for the No Awards in Related Work, Short Story, or Novella either, but those decisions did not disturb me as much as the votes in the editing categories. The people around me were not cheering either. The mood was somber rather than celebratory, at least at the front of the hall. Even David Gerrold said, “Let there be some winners, please,” as he clutched the last batch of envelopes. Voting in these categories was very much a painful choice. What was worse, No Award or giving our beloved rocket to an unworthy nominee? There’s no good answer.
The night did finish on an up note, however. The “big one,” Best Novel, went to THREE-BODY PROBLEM by Cixin Liu, accepted by his translator, Ken Liu. That was pleased me greatly, and not just because I’d called it. (Fwiw, I would have been pleased by a GOBLIN EMPEROR win as well, and a win by Anne Leckie or Jim Butcher would not have disturbed me unduly). It’s a strong book, an AMBITIOUS book, a worthy winner… and the first Hugo to go to China, which is cool. Let us put more “world” in worldcon, by all means.
All in all, I finished 9-7. And left the hall feeling pretty good. My worst fears — a Puppy sweep, or across the board wins by the Nuclear Option — did not come true. It wasn’t perfect. I would have liked to see a couple rockets handed out in editor, and I would have liked less cheering for No Award, but it was a night I could live with.
The vote totals, when we saw them, were overwhelming. Conclusive proof that Puppygate was never a war between the Puppies and the “SJWs,” as their narratives would have it. There were no SJWs, then or now. There were only the Puppies… and the rest of us, who weren’t Puppies, and did not like having their choices imposed on us.
Oh, and before I close this, a few final words. Ben Yalow won the Big Heart Award. VERY cool; Ben is a SMOF, one of the people (oft vilified by the Pups) who work behind the scenes to put on these cons we love so much. He has been giving tirelessly of himself for decades, and it was great to see him get some recognition.
And the ceremony itself was terrific. The dynamic duo of David Gerrold and Tananarive Due were a delight from start to finish. David had vowed to keep politics out of the awards, and make the ceremony fun for everyone, and he did just that… even when he was being upstaged by the Dalek. I would think that even the most rabid of Puppies would have to acknowledge that David was as fair as he was funny. When some booing broke out in the hall, he moved to quell it instantly… and, even more crucially, he insisted that the crowd hold its applause until after all the nominees in a category had been read… a real kindness in my estimation, saving some of the Puppies from real humiliation. You’re a good man, David Gerrold.
The bits by Connie Willis and Robert Silverberg were very funny as well. I used to say that they should let Willis and Silverbob present the rockets every year, and I still think that would be a good idea… but now I’d add Gerrold to the list as well.
That’s all for now.
Next rock, I will talk about my Hugo Losers Party, and the Alfies.