I suppose, since I’ve been commenting so much elsewhere, I should make an entry here, in a blog that nobody really reads.
My first, and most salient point is, anyone who declares a work to be bad, merely because of whoever else nominated it, or recommended it, without having read it, if they REALLY want to protect the “honor” of the Hugo awards, should recuse themselves from voting. Otherwise they are engaging in exactly the same kind of politics they claim to be wailing against.
Put more bluntly, the Hugo process is that each voter is supposed to read all of the nominees and rank them accordingly, or else abstain from voting. And if at this stage of the game you can’t follow the rules, you have no business participating, let alone complaining about things that are not against the rules.
The Rules for nominating are simple too. Anyone with a membership for last year’s, this year’s, or next year’s WorldCon has the right to nominate up to five works in each category. The fact that anyone posted a list of suggestions is meaningless. It’s like a voting ballot with five blank lines, and every work is a write-in candidate. There have been recommendation lists and suggestions galore in the history of the awards, and there is NO difference between someone plugging a single work for a category or a complete slate. But each nomination ballot is filled out individually, nobody pulls down a single lever labelled “Sad Puppies” or “Rabid Puppies” or “Puppy Free” or “Whatever” and automatically votes a slate.
And the numbers from last year bear this out. If people had been voting a slate, you’d expect the same number of votes to appear for each candidate, from Best Short to Best Novel. It wasn’t even close to that. So accusations of “Bloc” voting are bullshit. As are comparisons to various award-buying campaigns in the past (Two have been mentioned, the trademark being a whole lot of ballots with only one work in one category on them.) It’s easy to tell, because there have been other, more obvious Bloc votes in the past – like for TOR published works in 2008 – that have that characteristic.
A second major point is that if you vote on a basis OTHER than the quality of the work, such as the writer’s politics, race, ethnicity, you are also going against the spirit of the award. Alas, it’s impossible to run the awards in a double-blind experiment, so we have to depend on responsible voters to overlook irrelevant factors. Imagine having Jury Duty, and you’re on a panel where one guy refuses to listen to the evidence, determined to convict someone because he “Looks like a criminal.” Don’t be that guy.
And encourage other people to approach the existing ballot with the proper respect and intent of equanimity. Anyone who says, “I’m going to put every one of those guys on the slate below “No Award” without reading them,” is being at least as bad as they (falsely) claim the one’s promoting the works are.
If you don’t like what’s on the ballot, next year make your preferences known for what you would like. After all, when people complained about the liberal bias of the recent awards, they were told “If you don’t like what’s on the ballot, vote for what you do want.” and they replied, “Challenge Accepted.” (Of course, some folks suggested instead they go away and make their own award, which just shows that their elitism is cranked up to 11.)
ETA: Some people accuse the SP list of being all of the usual “-ists”. “We were making great strides last year to use the Hugos to promote Female/trans/POC writers! How can they oppose this?”
How? The Hugo is supposed to be for the Best Novel/Novella/Novelette/Short Story/etc. not the Best Novel/Novella/Novelette/Short Story/etc. by a Female Genderqueer writer of Color. If you WANT to have an award for that, attend the business meetings a couple of years and get them to add one. It could be analogous to the Campbell award, since that one is directed at an Author. The Hugo is for the WORK, not the creator. And if you really want equality, you have to TREAT the works equally.
Let me re-emphasize that. The Hugo is not about the authors, it’s about the works. Make it about the authors and you’re doing it wrong.
One other point. All Sad Puppies Three was was a LIST. Brad made a single blog post with the names of a bunch of works he thought were worthy. That’s really all it was about. And a whole bunch of people ON THEIR OWN decided to register, and vote, using that list as a guide. It was all individual decisions, made by the voter’s own volition. Attributing any more power to it than that is delusional.
Besides, making the Hugo Electorate bigger and bigger will help make TRUE bloc voting impossible.