2017 Hugo Awards Recommendations: What should I read/watch?

2017 is here, and that means it's time to ask for recommendations for the Hugo Awards. Sadly, I have not been able to read nearly as much from 2016 as I would have liked, so I expect this to be one hell of a reading session for me! So, suggest some things! I'm looking for fiction and non-fiction in every category, pro and amateur artists, films, television shows, and anything else that fits! Use the form below to send your suggestions! Read More

The 2016 Hugo Awards Reading/Watching List (or, My Next Few Months)

Last month, I asked for recommendations for my annual Hugo Awards reading bonanza.  A bunch of you responded with books, movies, TV shows, cookbooks, and so on.  The form will remain open for the next month or so, so if you haven't submitted anything or want to submit some more stuff, go for it! So, without further delay, here is the big massive monster list of stuff I'll be reading or watching for the next few months: Read More

2016 Hugo Awards Recommendations: What should I read/watch?

It's that time again:  time to ask for recommendations for the Hugo Awards.  The nomination period will open up soon, and I haven't done as much reading/watching as I would have liked this year.  The only categories I feel comfortable voting in at the moment are Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form), Best Novel, and Best Podcast.  That means, as always, there are a lot of gaps. So, this is your chance to let me know what you loved reading or watching this year.  To make things a bit more organized, I've created a Google form with options for every category.  You don't have to fill the whole thing out to suggest a work.  In fact, you can come back to the form as many times as you like.  If you want to let me know what you loved in the comments below, you're free to do that, too. Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

Shaun’s Rambles 009: On the #HugoAwards and #SadPuppies

The Hugos are over, but the controversy isn't over.  In this episode, I talk about the results of the 2015 Hugo Awards and how the Sad Puppies have irreparably harmed whatever good message they had.  It's not an exhaustive discussion, but it's one I wanted to start while I had time. If you want to learn more about what is going on, here are few useful links: Read More

Shaun’s Rambles 001: The Gallo Conspiracy and Trial By Fire

...in which I begin a podcast of random thoughts had while driving home from work. In this edition:
  • Some thoughts on the controversy over Irene Gallo's statements about the Sad / Rabid Puppies
  • Some thoughts on Trial By Fire by Charles Gannon and the absence of sf/f awards for adventure fiction
Enjoy the rambles. You can download the mp3 directly from this link or stream the episode below.

On the Hugo Awards: Two Scholarly-ish Projects to Come

As you may well be aware, I am currently working on two projects related to the Hugo Awards.  I know I've mentioned both of these at some point, though the second is certainly the most visible of these projects.  I'm also sure you know that the Hugo Awards have been enormously controversial this year, earning mainstream attention in major newspapers and entertainment sites such as The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Boing Boing, and so on.  That conversation is still happening; one need only look at File 770 to see it. Read More

My #HugoAwards Final Ballot (To Be Submitted in the Future)

Over the weekend, I explained why I intended to use No Award and Blank Spacing as a response to the Sad Puppies / Rabid Puppies campaign to manipulate and take over the Hugo Awards.  Since I am fundamentally opposed to slate-based voting measures, I can't in good conscience support works which appear on this year's ballot as a result of the SP/RP slates.  And so I won't.

Others, of course, may have different views.  TheG intends to give most things on the ballot a fair shake under the guise that voting No Award would unfairly punish those that are on the ballot but are otherwise not really part of the SP/RP world.  He admits, though, that this is hardly a strong response.  Where we do agree, however, is that there are some problematic cases here.  Some folks are on the ballot who didn't know they were included in the SP/RP slate and would have declined if they had known.  However, I'm of the mindset that support for anything on the ballot may be perceived as tacit support for the entire campaign -- a point on which Abigail Nussbaum and I agree.

With that said, voting will be rather easy for me, since the SP/RP folks have taken almost every slot on this year's ballot.  Here's what my ballot will look like when I'm allowed to submit it (feel free to lob your disagreements or what have you in the comments):
Best Novel
  • Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
  • The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
  • The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
  • No Award
Best Novella
  • No Award
Best Novelette
  • The Day The World Turned Upside Down by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Lightspeed Magazine, April 2014)
Best Short Story
  • No Award
Best Related Work
  • No Award
Best Graphic Story
  • Ms. Marvel Vol. 1
  • Saga Vol. 3
  • Sex Criminals Vol. 1
  • Rat Queens Vol. 1
  • No Award
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
  • Interstellar
  • Captain America:  The Winter Soldier
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • The Lego Movie
  • No Award
Note:  I'm going to make an exception for the long/short form media categories because it's unlikely the works listed wouldn't have made it anyway.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
  • Game of Thrones:  "The Mountain and the Viper"
  • Orphan Black:  "By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried"
  • No Award
Note:  I haven't yet watched the others yet, so I may include them in the end.  The Doctor Who piece is unlikely to make it because I've completely bounced off the show.

Best Editor, Short Form
  • No Award
Best Editor, Long Form
  • No Award
Best Professional Artist
  • Julie Dillon
  • No Award
Best Semiprozine
  • Strange Horizons
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies
  • Lightspeed
  • No Award
Best Fanzine
  • Journey Planet
  • No Award
Best Fancast
  • Galactic Suburbia
  • Tea and Jeopardy
  • No Award
Best Fan Writer
  • No Award
Best Fan Artist
  • Ninna Aalto
  • Brad W. Foster
  • Elizabeth Leggett
  • Spring Schoenhuth
  • Steve Stiles
John W. Campbell Award (It's a Fucking Hugo SHUT UP)
  • Wesley Chu
  • No Award
I strongly encourage you to use "No Award" if you are opposed to ballot stuffing and the blatant politicization of the Hugos, as has clearly happened this year.  Leave everything off the ballot that was on the SP slate.  Send a message.  Gaming the Hugos will not be tolerated.

“No Award” and “Blank Spacing” the #HugoAwards — The Only Response I Can Make to What is to Come

The Hugo Award ballot has been announced, and if you've been paying attention to Twitter, it's certainly controversial.  Not controversial because a novel everybody loved didn't make it.  Not controversial because a novel a whole lot of people didn't love did make it.  Controversial because some people have taken it upon themselves to game the system in order to create and relish in political chaos.

That last sentence would certainly sound melodramatic if not for the fact that the proponents of a certain ballot-to-be-copied hadn't already publicly stated that one of their guiding purposes for last year's rendition of this political fiasco was as follows:
"We got in [7 or 8] Hugo nominees [out of 10 or 11 that we pushed]...and ah man, all hell broke loose.  It was the end of the world.  So we had a lot of fun with that.  We made our point.  I said that if people who are not politically acceptable to these clicks are nominated for an award, the other side will have a come apart...and then, they pretty much did exactly what I said in a very public manner.  And we had fun with it."
In short:  they sought to create chaos and unrest in order to make a political point.  And when they succeeded, they relished in it.  Perhaps this is all facetious dribbling, but it does illustrate a clear contradiction:  this whole thing has never been about the quality of the work.  If it were, the intent would not be so blatantly political and so blatantly at odds with the spirit of the awards.  That any of these folks can utter something like the above in one breath and claim to respect the Hugo voter and the Hugo nomination process in another is a supreme sort of cognitive dissonance.  That some involved in this campaign can also claim that the act is not capital-P political is like courting madness with Cthulu.

As a result, the ballot has been flooded by Sad Puppies.

If this whole thing had begun simply as people sharing their love of X, I would not have to write this post.  I would not have to think of my ballot as a political tool, either.  I could look at what was there and make a judgment about the works, not the intent behind their inclusion.  Voting is already political enough, even in something as seemingly innocuous as the Hugo Awards.  I don't appreciate being put into a position where "intent" actually matters, since the only thing that should matter is the work.

But that's not how this began.  It was and remains a political campaign to game the system for personal and political gain.  It's not the same as Wheel of Time fans realizing they can all nominate their favorite fantasy series and then doing so.  It's not the same as fans who love X nominating X.  It's people with a political ax to grind taking advantage of that system to make a point.  This action shifts the voting process from small-p political, whereby one's everyday politics organically produces certain taste values or perspectives, to cap-P Political, whereby voting itself is treated as a political act separate from the preservation of small-P political interests.  That's the difference between "I love this thing because it's about the kind of stuff I enjoy" and "I'm nominating this thing to make a point to people with whom I disagree."

I take the Hugo Awards seriously as an award and as a process, and so I can't offer my support for any campaign of this type, whether it comes from liberals, conservatives, anarchists, socialists, feminists, capitalists, etc.  I don't care about the particulars of the politics.  I do not believe the Hugos should be a battleground for sf/f's infighting.  For that reason, I believe that if your intent is to use the Hugos to make a political point first and foremost, then I am obligated and justified to use my ballot to make a clear statement about the works which will be nominated as a result.  In this respect, I view the Hugos in much the same way as Abi Sutherland:
My Hugo nominations and votes are reactions to that broadening-out of my mental universe. As such, they’re intimately, intensely personal. And that’s part of the visceral reaction that some fans are having to the Sad Puppies’ slate: it looks like the institutionalization of a private, particular process in the service of an external goal. It comes across as a coarsening and a standardizing of something that should be fine-grained, unpredictable, and unique to each person participating. It seems like denial of variety and spontaneity, like choreographed sex.
As such, I suspect I will leave a good number of items off of my ballot in protest.  Since the Hugo Awards use a preferential voting system, any item which appears on your ballot will receive a vote of some kind when the ballots are counted.  Putting No Award as the last item on your ranked list means anything left off the ballot doesn't get any "points."  This is not preferable, since the "No Award" should be used to say "I don't actually think this is good enough."  Last year, I mostly used the "No Award" for its intended purpose; in fact, some of the works on last year's ballot from people who I'm sure are part of the "evil liberal conspiracy to destroy science fiction" didn't make it far on my ballot because I just didn't enjoy them.  Because that's how I normally vote:  based on my subjective sense of the quality of the work, which is, to varying degrees, influenced by my small-P political values.

This year, however, it is clear that there is no reasonable way to treat the ballot as a reflection of what people loved in the sf/f field.  It is a manipulated ballot.  A broken ballot.  And I suspect that it will result in a lot of bad blood within sf/f for years to come.  Nobody should relish in this projected future; unfortunately, I suspect a few might.

None of this is preferable.  I don't want to do any of this.  There are people who are on the slate who I actually like as people (and think are decent writes, too).  But I don't feel as if I have any other reasonable choice.  In my mind, preserving the Hugos as a worthwhile award means preserving its spirit.  Bloc-voting, etc. does not serve that interest regardless of its origins.

So that's how I intend to proceed from this point on.  If your intent is to manipulate the ballot for political gain, I will "blank space" the ballot in response.

Nominate what you love.  Leave your political agendas at the door.  That is all.