An Alternative Strategy to No-Awarding the Hugos

Connie Willis has announced she has turned down an offer to be a Hugo presenter at this year’s Worldcon.

Annie Bellet has withdrawn her nominated short-story from consideration.

Marko Kloos has withdrawn his nominated novel from consideration.

All in the past roughly 24 hours.

(Larry Correia comments here. Vox Day comments here.)

Anyone care to bet that the new strategy on the part of those offended by the Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies campaigns is to persuade anyone they can influence to simply refuse to participate?

It’s not a bad strategy. If those offended choose to “No Award” and (ironically) organize a sufficiently large campaign to push the SP/RP nominees off the slate, they have already been warned that they risk the same treatment next year (or worse: the entire Hugos list being no-awarded). But if they can convince a sizeable portion of the nominees to withdraw their work from consideration – especially those not on the SP/RP slates – it creates the appearance that those who do win will have received their awards by forfeit rather than merit. This is the natural conclusion to be drawn from the assertion that the nominees were nominated in the first place for reasons other than merit. It makes bitter ashes of the award.

If others are persuaded to decline offers from Sasquan to present the awards or appear in connection with the Hugo Awards – or to participate in the con itself as a panelist or speaker – it further emphasizes the “corrupted” nature of this year’s awards. This works as well with the rank-and-file fans: if enough fans can be persuaded to boycott Sasquan in protest over the SP/RP campaigns (perhaps including interested parties arranging for any already-purchased tickets to be credited towards tickets for a different SF/F con), it further emphasizes the message that the awards are corrupt and deserve to be shunned.

And why not go all the way and encourage people to simply not to vote at all? It may not be as vindictively satisfying as directly shutting out SP/RP nominees through organized “No Award” voting, but if one regards the awards this year as corrupted already, why not let the offending nominees have them as punishment? Note that this can be done quietly and without the same risk of retaliation on next year’s awards.

Might I suggest a bumper-sticker slogan for those considering such a strategy? How about “Participation is Sanction”? It’s efficient, it’s euphonic, it’s evocative. You’re welcome.

On the other hand, it’s not exactly a good strategy, either.

For one, it’s poor sportsmanship, a form of taking your marbles and going home when you don’t get your way. One of the Puppies’ main points is that the Hugos (as a microcosm of SF/F culture) have become dominated by an intolerant and entitled clique of like-minded, closed-minded, hive-minded people, people who shut out outsiders on political or cultural grounds rather than the merit of their work. Whether it’s a vocal “No Award” campaign or a quieter shunning effort, it still amounts to the same thing: sabotaging the awards because – for the first time in a long time – a substantial number of unpersons received nominations, specifically to devalue any awards given to those outsiders. Such sabotage would not come across less like a noble gesture aimed at preserving the honor and dignity of the Hugos, and more like a clique of high-school girls – piqued that a group of students managed to get a couple of chess-club girls on the homecoming queen ballot at the expense of a couple of their own – withdrawing their own nominations, getting the band to bail out, and persuading a bunch of their classmates not to go to the dance.

For another, it would do the same long-term damage to the reputation of the Hugos that opponents claim the SP/RP campaigns are doing. One might use this strategy to create the impression that the Hugos this year are corrupt and the winners undeserving due to the withdrawal of competition. But once the brand is tarnished, how does the tarnish not carry over to subsequent years – especially since the same perception that the Hugos are awarded by forfeit can be turned against the other side next year if the SP/RP side simply does not participate. Indeed, it’s perfectly predictable that in the case of Puppy strategic non-participation the SJWs would overreach in their efforts to “restore” the award’s reputation, crowing even louder than in past years that the awards will go to those who truly deserve them…by which is meant those with the accepted thinking and those whose product and lives tick the right boxes on the SJW checklist, regardless of the merit or even science fiction/fantasy content of their work. This year a Hugo will mean something again, they will claim, because none of those icky sexist homophobic racist white men are on the ballot! But the victory would in fact be no less a forfeit than when the strategy was used by their own side, and for as long as this status quo ante is pushed as the way things are supposed to be, such claims would ring hollow for their now-exposed hypocrisy and would merely demonstrate that the Puppies were right all along in their contention that the Hugos are simply and SJW popularity contest.

Try polishing that off your Hugo.

ETA: I meant to work in that the ideal “final blow” of this strategy would be to create so much trouble for Worldcon — no presenters, reduced attendance, etc. – that they have grounds for canceling the awards presentation. I don’t know if that is possible under Worldcon rules, but it’s an interesting possibility those gnashing/rending over the nominations might want to consider. Why settle for half-measures when you can indulge your petty vindictiveness all the way?

9 thoughts on “An Alternative Strategy to No-Awarding the Hugos”

  1. What does that accomplish? It plays into the hands of the offended parties who are suggesting their followers do just that, and it penalizes the nominees unjustly (because you’re voting against them not on their merits but out of spite over the controversy).

    Try again.

  2. It would give WorldCon $40. (And give me the voters. packe; I already have too many books to read.) The intended message would not be be heard: ignore what other people say about what to vote for. In the scheme of things, a withdrawl is moving your work to the bottom of the list, elevating lessor works over your own. You don’t deprive the evil endorser of anything, you may even help him get sonething else elected. The long term consequences of surrender to such bukkying are horrible

  3. “But the victory would in fact be no less a forfeit than when the strategy was used by their own side,”

    You’re missing something.

    When the SJWs are in trouble, they tag in the media. The media reports their side of the story. Uninvolved people buy it, because they are too busy to look into the details of some trivial Internet flamewar. If former SP types boycott the Hugos next year, it simply won’t get reported other than a few cooing tributes to the brave campaigners who pushed the racists out. Heads they win, tails you lose.

    I don’t know the answer to this problem.

  4. You’re right, that’s a problem. Especially with dishonest outlets like EW, Gawker, etc. deliberately pushing a false narrative.
    I wonder, though, if their attempts to do this with the current Hugo controversy, after Gamergate and following whatever exercise in contrived outrage they gin up between now and next January (because you know they’ll come up with something) aren’t diminishing their ability to drive the narrative. Even if uninvolved people don’t come to see this as crying wolf or simply tune it out due to repetition, the non-SJWs are learning to push back against the narrative.
    The notion that a return to the status quo ante is itself a forfeit may have to be nurtured through sympathetic media. Keep in mind that the SJWs will unwittingly aid in this, contrary to their own interests. They will crow about how they’ve taken the Hugos back, which raises the question of from whom. They’ll pat themselves on the back for restoring the value and dignity of the award, which raises the question of what happened to diminish it. They’ll lie in answering these questions, of course, but the lies will be as transparently self-serving, smug, elitist, condescending, and hypocritical as their back-patting over excluding “old white males” from various awards has been. This is a weakness that can be exploited by anyone with media connections.

  5. “This is a weakness that can be exploited by anyone with media connections.”

    Does anyone on the SP side of the argument even _have_ media connections — and I don’t mean Breitbart or CNS, I mean media that uninvolved civilians are going to see?

    It’s interesting that you mentioned Gamergate, because it was vulnerable to the exact same coordinated media assault. It’s easy to say “Well, all these guys have exposed themselves as hypocrites and political schemers…” but if the only voice anyone hears is the media, they’re not going to hear about any such expose. And sure, anyone who digs into the details is going to learn that the situation is a whole lot more nuanced than Gawker says. But what busy person is going to go to that trouble without being prompted? And furthermore, how hard is it going to be to dig? I’m sure a carefully curated Sad Puppies page is in the works at Wikipedia even now, just to make sure that the one in a hundred people trying to learn more still learns the “right” facts.

    I don’t mean to sound excessively negative or anything, but this is a real problem, and any time someone tries to push back against the SJWs it’s going to happen again, and it’s going to keep working until someone comes up with a way to break or marginalize the power of media to gatekeep information.

    (Also, to be clear, since this post probably sounded like conspiracy theory — that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that if a whole bunch of people have the same political opinions, and move in a bubble where they never encounter any real pushback against those opinions, then when something like SP or Gamergate happens, you can easily predict what they will write about it.)

  6. Are “uninvolved citizens” a real concern in this? When you step back and look at the current controversy, it’s not something that’s going to affect or interest most people who are not already SF/F fans (unless they have non-SF/F connections to individual parties, like Larry Correia’s gun people for example). That’s certainly been my experience – friends who are center-right/libertarian activists but not SF/F readers exhibit at best a passing interest in the matter when I explain it. It’s a niche controversy – any pushback needs to focus on people who do or would consume SF/F works.

    I think too you may be seeing GamerGate, Sad/Rabid Puppies, and other recent SJW-pushback events in isolation and missing not just the synergy between them but the learning curve/OODA loop effects. I suggest above that between now and Sasquan, we can expect another controversy of this nature to erupt among the SJWs – and each time this happens, the opposition grows a little larger and develops more skills and confidence in fighting back. Sarah Hoyt writes frequently about one aspect of this, how these spats show people who don’t subscribe to the groupthink that they aren’t alone.

    Be optimistic – it’s a slow process, but it’s happening.

  7. To give you a more direct reply, if you want media to report this stuff fairly, become the media yourself. This was something Breitbart championed.

    What’s stopping you from setting up a website like io9, but written by and for grownups? Nothing, really. If you can demonstrate there is a demand for it, you can find investors.

    What’s stopping you from evangelizing good material – on blogs, on Amazon reviews, on Goodreads, or your own review website? Nothing, really. It just takes an investment of time, which is how the SJWs win: they’re willing and able to put the time in, so theirs is the narrative that dominates.

    What’s stopping you from writing your own material? That’s tougher, as it does take a little talent and a lot of skill (and even more time) to write well. But people do it.

    What’s stopping you from putting together your own e-book publishing “marque”, which you can use as a platform to gather and promote non-SJW SF/F? Nothing, really. You just have to put in the effort.

    What’s stopping you from becoming a Wikipedia editor and concerning yourself with maintaining the objectivity of relevant entries? Nothing, really. Go sign up, learn the rules, and get involved.

    There’s plenty that people can do to fight back against corrupt information outlets. It just takes people who are willing to put the effort into it, like the SJWs did in corrupting things in the first place. And it takes patience as well – things won’t change overnight, but only through incremental and sustained and expanding efforts.

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