The Modified No Award Proposal: SPUNARPU

[ Lees dit in het Nederlands ]

spunarpuIn the ongoing discussions following hot on the heels of the Puppies Kerfuffle, two topics are still being hotly debated.

One is the Hugo voting system, that according to many is overdue for an overhaul, and that can be changed to minimize the chance of an organized slate vote sweeping the final ballot. On Patrick Nielsen Hayden’s blog, a realistic, viable, and implementable option has been discussed at length, and although I feel that their suggestion has great merit and should be implemented at the earliest possible time, I won’t go into it here.

The other one, and the one I feel most strongly about, is how to deal with the final ballot as it stands. I have a idea on that one (modified from my original thoughts). The answer in my eyes, as usual, is in the grey area between two apparently discrete opposites.

Many people, particularly on the side of the Puppies, feel that the ballot is valid and lawful, and should be voted purely on merit. In their opinion, however unfair the slate voting sweep may seem, the rules of the voting system were in no way violated, so the ballot is valid. Doing anything else would be terribly unfair to the nominees, and would threaten the status of the Hugos as the pre-eminent speculative fiction awards.

Many others, most of whom are in the WorldCon tribe, feel that the current ballot itself damages the decades-long standing of the Hugos, because the presence of the Puppies nominees on the ballot is itself a violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of the rules. In their eyes, the only fair option is to vote No Award before any Puppies nominees, and consider only the non-Puppy nominees.

Both tribes seem to pretend there’s only those two options.

But there are more.

And the WorldCon proponents tend to pretend that there weren’t two slates, and two sets of Puppies: the Sad, and the Rabid.

But there were.

Granted, there was great overlap between the two slates. However, some suggested nominees were only on the Sad Slate, and others only on the Rabid Slate. Due to the huge success of Vox Day’s Puppy campaigning, the final ballot contains only Puppy nominees that were on both slates, and puppy nominees that were on the Rabid Slate only.

I think the distinction is essential.

With Sad Puppies 3, Brad Torgersen attempted to draw attention to what he perceived as a wrong in past Hugo years, and to right that wrong. His slate was presented as a recommendation, and while they were disagreeable to many, his intentions were good: he meant to bring the Hugos to the broader fandom and remove what he believes is a leftish-liberal, politically correct bias in past ballots. Never mind if he was right about that; he was honestly concerned, and took action in what he saw as a valid way, within the bounds of the voting system. I don’t agree with him on either his motivations or his method, but I recognize his effort as constructive, at least in its intent.

Vox Day’s Rabid Puppies, on the other hand, were never about constructive criticism. The Rabid Puppies slate, Vox Day’s communications about the Rabid Puppies slate, and the actions taken to get that entire slate nominated, were always, and almost entirely, about aggression and mayhem. Almost, because one other factor was clearly in play: sheer, vulgar self-interest. Why would Day decide to put himself, his publishing house, and his star author forward so very prominently, if not to benefit , in sales and publicity, from the exposure?

To put it bluntly: I accept Brad Torgersen’s Sad Puppies, and I reject their Rabid cousins. And to put my money where my mouth is, I’m proposing the SPUNARPU voting approach: Sad PUppies, No Award, Rabid PUppies.

What does that mean in practice? I will read/watch/listen to all nominated works and artists that were either on the Sad Puppies slate (regardless of their presence on the Rabid slate), or on neither slate. I will neither peruse nor vote for works and artists that were only on the Rabid Puppies slate.

Therefore, my amended SPUNARPU approach to this year’s Hugo vote is thus:

  1. Slush-peruse (read, watch, listen until I’ve had enough) all nominated works and artists except the ones slated only by Vox Day and his Rabid Puppies.
  2. Vote for the works and artists I believe are Hugo-worthy in order of how much I think of them.
  3. If voting slots remains, put No Award in.
  4. If voting slots still remain, vote for the works and artists I believe are not Hugo-worthy below No Award, in order of how little I think of them.
  5. Regardless of whether voting slots remain even after this exercise, leave the Rabid Puppies nominees off my ballot*.

This approach minimizes the chance of works and artists slated by Vox Day and not by Brad Torgersen winning a Hugo. Looking at the final ballot, and what has happened to it over the last week, the approach will affect (i.e. ensure that I not vote for):

  • John C. Wright, of whom I will only read and consider the novella One bright star to guide them and the related work Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth, while disregarding his other three remaining nominations (the sixth was already disqualified);
  • Steve Rzasa, who had the misfortune to have his short story Turncoat put forward on the Rabid Puppies slate;
  • Game of Thrones: The Mountain and the Viper;
  • Vox Day, in both editor categories;
  • Kirk DouPonce, who replaced disqualified Jon Eno in the Professional Artist category;
  • Black Gate, who have already declined their Fanzine nomination; and
  • Rolf Nelson, for the Campbell Award.

My personal final ballot then becomes:

Best Novel
  • Ann Leckie, Ancillary Sword
  • Jim Butcher, Skin Game
  • Kevin J. Anderson, The Dark Between the Stars
  • Katherine Addison, The Goblin Emperor
  • Cixin Liu, The Three Body Problem
Best Novella
  • Tom Kratman, Big Boys Don’t Cry
  • Arlan Andrews Sr., Flow
  • John C. Wright, One Bright Star to Guide Them
Best Novelette
  • Gray Rinehart, Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium
  • Edward M. Lerner, Championship B’tok
  • Michael F. Flynn, The Journeyman: In the Stone House
  • Rajnar Vajra, The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale
  • Thomas Olde Heuvelt, The Day the World Turned Upside Down
Best Short Story
  • Lou Antonelli, On A Spiritual Plain
  • Kary English, Totaled
  • Steven Diamond, A Single Samurai
Best Related Work
  • Lou Antonelli, Letters from Gardner
  • Ken Burnside, The Hot Equations: Thermodynamics and Military SF
  • John C. Wright, Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth
  • Tedd Roberts, Why Science is Never Settled
  • Michael Z. Williamson, Wisdom from My Internet
Best Graphic Story
  • Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal
  • Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery
  • Saga Volume 3
  • Sex Criminals Volume 1: One Weird Trick
  • The Zombie Nation Book #2: Reduce Reuse Reanimate
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Interstellar
  • The Lego Movie
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
  • Doctor Who: Listen
  • Grimm: Once We Were Gods
  • Orphan Black: By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried
  • The Flash: Pilot
Best Editor, Short Form
  • Bryan Thomas Schmidt
  • Jennifer Brozek
  • Mike Resnick
Best Editor, Long Form
  • Anne Sowards
  • Jim Minz
  • Sheila Gilbert
  • Toni Weisskopf
Best Professional Artist
  • Alan Pollack
  • Carter Reid
  • Julie Dillon
  • Nick Greenwood
Best Semiprozine
  • Abyss & Apex
  • Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies
  • Lightspeed Magazine
  • Strange Horizons
Best Fanzine
  • Elitist Book Reviews
  • Journey Planet
  • Tangent SF Online
  • The Revenge of Hump Day
Best Fancast
  • Adventures in SF Publishing
  • Dungeon Crawlers Radio
  • Galactic Suburbia Podcast
  • Tea and Jeopardy
Best Fan Writer
  • Amanda S. Green
  • Cedar Sanderson
  • Dave Freer
  • Jeffro Johnson
  • Laura J. Mixon
Best Fan Artist
  • Brad W. Foster
  • Elizabeth Leggett
  • Ninni Aalto
  • Spring Schoenhuth
  • Steve Stiles
Campbell Award
  • Eric S. Raymond
  • Jason Cordova
  • Kary English
  • Wesley Chu

* This is a slight modification from my original post, where I stated I’d put Rabid Puppies nominees below all others. Commenter Sam (see below) pointed out that this might result in expressing a preference for, say, one of John C. Wright’s Rabid Puppies novella’s over another. If I make sure to vote No Award below everything I want to vote for, leaving Rabid Puppies nominees off my ballot is equivalent to listing them below everything else. The votes below No Award are then only for works I deem not Hugo-worthy. but which I can rank in reverse order of awfulness.

10 thoughts on “The Modified No Award Proposal: SPUNARPU

  1. I aggree in parts and disaggree in others,
    But that doesn’t matter.
    What matters is the discussion of the HUGO nominees and of their works. This year’s discussion were more about literature than the complete discussions of the last decades.
    It doesn’t matter who wins. The HUGO already has won.

    Personal gains : Found Larry Correia, liked his stories. And I think I do have to try this Leckie with her gender stories, although I don’t like this subgenre. But there are too many positive opinions… 🙂

  2. If you genuinely wish to minimize the chance of works and artists slated by Vox Day winning a Hugo, then you don’t put any of the Rabid Puppies slate entries on the ballot at all. Put in “No Award”, then stop, leaving any remaining slots blank. Putting Rabid Puppies entries on your ballot, even below “No Award”, may end up helping them.

    1. As a matter of fact, the opposite is true, Sam. For a complete explanation of the No Award option, you should really read the excellent explanation by Kevin Standlee, but these are the relevant quotes:

      1. If you dislike all of the remaining candidates equally, leave them all off your ballot. You’ve just voted against all of them identically. Anything you leave off your ballot is (in effect) tied for last place.
      2. If there are candidates that you nominally prefer over others below No Award, rank them in the order you prefer them. This is saying that “I’d rather X, Y, and Z not win at all, but if one of them must win, I’d prefer X over Y over Z.” You’ve still voted against all of them, but you’ve said that one of them winning is slightly less obnoxious than the others.

      In my approach, I’m ranking Rabid Puppies below No Award, and below anything I deem not Hugo-worthy. So that means I’m saying: I’d rather have No Award in this category, but if an award has to be given, I’d rather see it go to these sub-standard works than to a Rabid Puppy.

      If you vote No Award in any place, and then rank some works, and then leave other works off your ballot entirely, you’re ranking the ones you did choose (even behind No Award) ahead of the works you left off the ballot. […] This means that if you vote No Award, you no longer have a meaningful “No opinion” option.

      So even if my ballot is filled with works I’m voting for, and No Award, and works I dislike, and the Rabid Puppies fall off my ballot, I’m still saying the Rabid Puppies rank below anything else in my opinion.

      Ranking any choice below No Award means you’ve still voted against it winning. This is something that people seem to have a difficult time understanding, but there are two reasons for it:

      1. In the preliminary vote counting, your vote for No Award counts until it’s eliminated. Your vote for further preferences never count until No Award is eliminated.
      2. After the preliminary winner is determined (assuming it’s not No Award), your vote for No Award gets a “second chance” to knock out the winner in a head-to-head showdown.

      There is also a paragraph in the Kevin Standlee post about how a premilinary winner is tested against the tally of everyone who has ranked him or her below No Award. So ranking anything below No Award in no way counts towards them winning, only against them winning.

      The only thing that’s flawed in my approach is that once I put in No Award, putting the Rabid Puppies below anything else is equivalent to leaving them off.

  3. Hi Floris, if you read that section by Kevin again, you’ll see that he is saying, if you don’t want to help certain items at all, and you have no preference as to which place above others, then don’t include them.

    In other words, if you have a preference that one Rabid Puppies entry ends above another, then list only the one you prefer below “No Award”. If you don’t want to help any of the RP entries and don’t care what order they finish in, then leave them off entirely.

    1. Yes. Which is why, in the final paragraph of my reply, I say that sticking the Rabid Puppies nominees all the way at the bottom, below No Award, is equivalent to leaving them off.

      I was mainly responding to (arguing against) your contention that putting them on anywhere may end up helping them. As Kevin clearly explains, a vote below No Award can never work in support of a nominee.

      1. Kevin says: “If you vote No Award in any place, and then rank some works, and then leave other works off your ballot entirely, you’re ranking the ones you did choose (even behind No Award) ahead of the works you left off the ballot.”

        By using one of your 5 slots on “No Award”, you are going to have to leave off one of the Rabid Puppies entries. So if you list other Rabid Puppies entries, you have given a preference.

        1. As it turns out, the voting system has five slots for nominees and another slot for No Award. So the pushing-off-the-ballot doesn’t happen. Still, the equivalence holds…

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