daveon: (Default)
You know I'm still processing my thoughts on all of this, but I have been helped greatly by reading some of George RR Martin's thoughts.  And also looking at some of the general stuff going around.  Rather than do a link salad, because there are LOTS of links I wanted to dump my thoughts.
First off: I like puppies.  I have puppies and love them to bits.  I'm not much of a cat person though, so horses for courses and all that.

The Issue:
The Puppies state quite publically that the 'wrong' kind of stuff was being nominated.  I have read a belief that this is due to 'whispering campaigns' against Conservative writers or a secret cabal pulling strings behind the scenes.

The "Cabal"
If there is one, or for that matter a 'whispering' campaign, I have not noticed - I've only been going to Worldcons for about a decade, frankly, I couldn't afford it before then.  But in that decade there have been very few occasions where the book I voted for has won.  Usually some of my nominations are on the slate though, but if we take the 'Puppies' at their words I like the same stuff as they do - spaceships, FTL, Ais and adventure.  I have read Peter F Hamilton's Reality Dysfunction twice.  Looking at that decade of Hugo Awards there isn't much of a pattern I see.  There's big Space Opera, edgy technothrillers, urban and traditional fantasies - it's pretty diverse actually.  There are some really fucking clunkers in there.  There's also some stuff that upset me badly at the time, River of Gods was robbed is all I am going to say.

So, when I read the charge 'the Awards are all for the wrong stuff' or 'recently the awards have been for touchy feely stuff' or variations on that theme, and I look at the actual shortlists and winners and no obvious patterns emerge, and, in fact, they appear to be largely representative of the stuff I read or was aware of, or was well known of then that charge fails.

Good Writers are Being Overlooked!!!!
Yes, yes they are.  Iain Banks never won a Best Novel Hugo.  He was a screaming liberal, but wrote stuff the puppies claim to love, so what gives?  How about Peter F Hamilton?  No liberal he, I think, writes BIG FUCKING SPACE OPERAS.  Neal Asher?  Amazing stuff.  Jon Courtney Grimwood?  Al Reynolds?  How about Alaistair Fucking Reynolds?  A man who got a $1.5 MILLION dollar advance for his next 10 Novels…  No Hugo for him, and no love from the puppies…

So I looked at the slate again and looked at some of the people.  We have an Urban Fantasy from a best seller author who sells buckets of books.  Good for him, but is the Hugo really an award for selling buckets?  I mean, yes, it has been, but not always.  Ask George RR Martin or Terry Pratchett, a man so overlooked by Worldcon Fandom he was only a Guest of Honour….

So the Puppies claim, in some respects to speak for me, but one of their slate novels is described as 'Akin to Old Man's War!' - now, for me that isn't much of an accolade - I mean I read it, it was alright, it wasn't anything new or special, probably didn't deserve the nomination, but we'll come onto that later.  But it's not a bit of praise on Amazon that is going to make me click 'Buy Now'.

They Did It First!!!!
There is a charge that the 'other side' whomever that is, did the slate thing first.  Well, sorta, and you might have a point.  I certainly know quite a few of the people they would claim to detest who have serious problems with John Scalzi and Charlie Stross for their self promotion activities.  But, hey, I run a small business, if you have a marketing channel you bloody well use it.

The thing is, there is a world of difference between 'hey, I wrote this vote for me! And here is a list of other things you might like' and 'Here is a list of works in each category that you should nominate.' - if you can’t process that difference then stop reading, you're a fucking idiot and I don't have to be nice to you.

The Elephant, or should I say, Puppy in the room.  John Scalzi.  Obviously one of the ring leaders in this cluster fuck is Theodore Beale, sorry I won't grant him his ridiculous nom.  He and many others have a real hard on hate for John Scalzi, which is kinda weird.  Because, frankly, John Scalzi writes EXACTLY the kind of stuff they claim gets overlooked.  And I wonder if we're actually seeing something else more along the lines of 'one of our own turned'…

Scalzi was recommended by noted extreme liberal Glenn Reynolds for Old Man's War, a fairly run of the mill MilSF novel which was no great shakes, in my opinion, filled an afternoon but not much more.  It seems to have come as a shock to some 'fellow travelers' in that space that by their standards Scalzi is a flaming liberal.  Then again, these are people who have basically accused me of being left wing too, which amuses me all the way to the depths of my capitalist little heart.

Where are the greats?!?!?
I've seen this a lot.  Usually, in the form of 'I used to read Heinlein, Asimov, Bradbury, Silverberg, everything today is all touchy feely crap' - uh huh…  like Banks, Asher, Hamilton, Leckie and many many more…  If all you can counter with is Hoyt, Correia, Torgensson and Kloos then you need to get out an READ SOME MORE GODAMN BOOKS.

And finally…
Here's what I believe.  This started because Larry Correia was nominated for a Campbell, went to a Worldcon and didn't get treated with the respect he deserved and he thought people mocked him for his politics and his religion.  Well, probably…  sorry, probably guilty as charged.  He then didn't get a Hugo nomination and assumed its because people didn't like him.  Well, sorry Larry, I don’t much care about your politics, I don't agree with Vernor Vinge much either but I fucking LOVE his books.  I fucking hate yours.  Don't do anything for me.  Sorry.  It's honestly not personal.  Write me a big picture Space Opera and I'll give you a chance.

This has ZERO to do with a culture war, this has everything to do with butt hurt from not getting the respect you think you're due from your peers.  Well sorry mate, that gets earned.
What you don't do is vandalize the prom because you didn't get a date, and that's what's being done here.

So what to do?
Honestly, I don't know.  I probably will protest vote any category where the slate dominates.  Not to say I won't read the works and see if they deserve to be there - I have read a Kevin Anderson and not hated it, didn't think it was all that good mind you.  I have read some John C Wright, and politics aside it stank like the crap my dog did at the vet earlier because he was nervous about being there.  As for the editor category, if you can't write for toffee, as a certain Mr Beale proved to me last year, I'm damn sure you can't edit.
daveon: (Default)
The Hugo mess rumbles on and once more I feel like I'm trapped in a bad re-run of NUS Conference 1990.  Here's another one from Shaun Duke "To the Hugo Defenders, Check your Financial Privilege at the door" (link removed due to Malware warning)

I replied but bit my lip over my gut response of 'oh grow the fuck up.'  And went for some more reasonable stuff.  But seriously, if the crux of the argument is that the Worldcon selects against the poor, then yes, yes it does.  As do many things which are slightly more fucking serious than not being about to get to a convention to help change the way a Science Fiction award works.  How about US Healthcare, or hunger eh?

I'd quite like a Bugatti Veyron, but the man is keeping me down!

Is attending Worldcons on a regular basis something you can do when young? No, not really.  I attended my first convention at 24, at least 6 years after being regularly involved in fanish things.  I didn't get to a Worldcon until I was 37, since then I've attended 3 others.  One where there was a business meeting I could piggy back off, another was fun, a third involved a Business Meeting and sleeping on the sofa.  I am fully aware that it's an expensive hobby.  And I am pretty sick of people assuming that because you do something you're rich and privileged. And oh yea gods how I am coming to hate the way that word is getting used.

Older people having more money than younger people is not privilege.  It really isn't.

Then, in the comments, Jonathon McAlmont turns up complaining about class, age and race.

Class has nothing to do with this.  You get fans from all classes and last time I checked money and class haven't been linked for a while.  Age?  Guilty.  It's easier to do these things as you get older. Assuming, of course, you don't have kids, or a partner who isn't a fan, in which case it's fucking hard to get a furlough for an SF Convention, believe me.  Finally Race.  All I have to say to that is Really you want to go there?  Because I'm fairly sure that Jonathon suffers from that about the same way I do.

Where I get annoyed is simply that I suggested a fix.  There are ways that improvements and changes could be made.  But the Hugo Award is given by the members of the Worldcon and that ain't going to change.  And people like Jonathon were clear they didn't actually want change.

You need to want to engage, even if you can't attend.  If you want to change things, there are ways and means to engage.  Kevin Standlee who has had such a dreadful press stands willing and able to work with people who want his help.  But name callings and moaning about privilege is a pretty poor way to get anybody to work with you as anybody who stays in employment in companies or academia will learn.

Having an opinion on something, and an interest in it, doesn't automatically give you the right to be involved with it.

EDIT:  In my original post I referenced being poor.  And it was pointed out that realistically I'm not poor.  Fair enough.  I'm not really poor.  I am heavily indebted which is causing me a lot of pain at the moment and has happened because I've been starting my own business and will, I hope, be something that changes shortly.  And then, yes, I'll be relatively speaking well off.

I'll be clear though, as a student and in the decade  that followed being a student I could never have considered going to a Worldcon, and during that period I went through a short period (about 5 months) where I was homeless and relying on family and friends for a roof over my head.
daveon: (Default)
Some interesting ideas emerging on the other thread.  At some stage in the next couple of days I'll pull out some specific proposals so people can look at them.  I have noticed the Blogging community have, for the most part, been quiet on this topic.
daveon: (Default)
I'm bumping up a discussion that I was having in comments with [livejournal.com profile] coalescent because it was getting somewhere and I'd like input from [livejournal.com profile] kevin_standlee about some of it.

EDIT: Kevin has picked up on some of this and focused on some specifics here.

First, a personal statement: I AM NOT INTERESTED IN DOING THIS.  My real life is quite hard enough thank you and I honestly don't have time to take on what will be a complicated and involved multi-year process. For anybody out there reading this saying any variant on 'well it shouldn't be that hard or that's an example of how the SMOFs work or I'm being lazy, you can fuck off right now.  I'm pretty damn far from lazy but this just isn't something I can give any time to at the moment, if you don't know me and know why, I'm sure people can educate you.  As for the others - live with it, real life and other people don't owe you a living.  I'm also clear that I don't think all these changes might be needed, nor,in fact that anything I'm going to suggest here is possible... Anyway...

The charge, elsewhere is that the Hugo Awards have problems and that the solution, propose something, get it in-front of the business meeting and drive through the change, isn't helpful because a lot of people interested in the Hugos and ensuring that they have their continuity guaranteed for another 50 years can't easily get to Worldcons.  I think there is a valid concern there that could do with addressing, and certainly moving a structure to where proposals can be more easily prepared and made public for discussion, with either a system for people who can't attend to vote, or at least something which makes it easier to review proposals and discuss them.

The crux of the discussions I've read is that there needs to be a better way of getting proposals put together and some means of at least starting debate ahead of the Business Meeting.  And from that, there should/could emerge some new ways of handling the nomination process.

Item 1: Wider Engagement
We think about something with a two step process of supporting and attending members, like the Hugo Awards, and I think Kevin has mentioned something like this..  Something that has a period of online 'consultation' not unlike the current process and the political process in the US and UK, but followed by a vote online with final ratification of the votes by the Business Meeting - something like a Commons/Lords/Congress/Senate system with the Business Meeting as the Lords/Senate and the wider membership as the commons.  The goal would be to move to substantive online debate of actual proposals before handing them in for approval.

Item 2: Dealing with Geography
It's an inescapable fact that the Hugo is the Award of the Worldcon and that the Business Meeting will happen at the Worldcon.  This is hardly unique to the WSFS nor all that radical or exclusionary.  But there is a valid charge that a lot of interested, and hopefully engaged Fans can't travel.  So here's a proposal:  A 'buddy' exchange system is set up, much like British political parties have, where members of different parties will 'pair' up and agree to effectively represent the others interests if the other can't make a meeting.  The British system actually works the opposite away around to what I'm suggesting.  In Britain, if person A can't turn up,person B won't.  In this case, a person who can't turn up can buddy with somebody like minded who can.

Item 3: Moving Forward
We explore,in actual practical detail the above and some means to get wider input into the committee process via some kind of online system.  We don't get upset if people point out impractical ideas, but I would ask that if something is impractical, that is coupled to a suggestion that might work in its place.

Item 4: No Detours
The core of the complaints is really about the engagement process of the WSFS being unclear and hard.  I've not really looked in detail and I don't really care.  That's a feature of any organisation that has to operate functionally.  I'm keen to focus on the core charge that the WSFS is somehow remote and impossible to work with and I'd like to focus just on that.  I don't think we should focus on the nuts and bolts of the awards until we have a means of making sure people feel represented by such changes so I'd prefer not to get side-tracked by the 'need' for a YA Hugo or a Blogging Hugo.  And here's why: What's relevant to us now in 2013, is probably going to look pretty daft in 2023 and the Hugos have been around a LOT longer than that.  I've seen people who have interests in a better Online Hugo or a YA Hugo getting annoyed that the BDP: SF is a bad Hugo...  and that's what happens when you put sticky plasters/band-aids over real problems because they're what you care about.

Now, I don't know how practical these are.  I don't care, and I'm not getting involved.  But obviously some people do and they're complaining they can't get engaged.  I just wanted to try and bridge the gap a little and put some stuff out there that may or may not already be under consideration and perhaps spark some discussions of things which, if people ACTUALLY, want to get stuff done, can be done.  Item 2, given the whole connected nature of the online world ought to be possible.  Item 1, I don't know.  I'd be interested in input from people who know this stuff on what such a structure would look like. Items 3 & 4 are just me trying to set some boundaries.

And here's the thing.  I'm fairly sure that there are people who will freely give practical advice and even help.

A lot of the complaints I've seen seem to come from the UK and Europe.  The Worldcon is in Europe next year and potentially the year after.  2014 would be a good time to have proposals for some something substantive, if you really want that, and a buddy system would allow for progress in 2015 even if people can't go.

But, again, as I said, I'm not doing it.  I'm just putting an idea out there.  And honestly, ideas really aren't worth all that much unless somebody executes.  

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