Worldcon is Over. What Have We Learned?

Worldcon ended on August 21st.  What we have learned (among other things – there’s lots to be learned at a Worldcon) is:

  1. Steve is Not Carnac
    I did not do nearly as well this year with my Hugo Award Winner Predictions as I did in 2015 and 2014:  I correctly picked 9 out of the 17 possible winners, close to 60% correct.  (I hit 92 and 82% respectively in the previous years).
    On the other hand, in nearly every single category that I didn’t pick correctly, I did pick the 2nd place finisher.  None of that really means much – all you really had to do to come really close in each category was simple:  first, place all of the Rabid Puppy slate works below No Award, then choose from what is left either the non Sad Puppy slated work(s) or the Sad Puppy work(s) that had already achieved notoriety (and/or other awards) as the winner.
    What we learn from this is:  Authors and their works are relatively ineffective as shields because – and here’s a shocker – Hugo voting fans are, as a general rule, very smart, knowledgeable individuals.  For the most part, they seem capable of understanding that if you step in dog shit, it is not always necessary to throw the shoe out – you can clean it off instead.
  2. 101 400 Dalmations
    According to the pundits, we’ve learned (largely confirmed?) that Vox Day commands a thoroughly un-awesome un-army of un-staggering proportions of about 400 trolls un-fans, less than 10% of those picking up a membership this year.
    This would suggest that rather than being encouraged by last year’s performance, those not in Day’s immediate hateful circle saw last year’s results as a loss rather than a victory.  Here’s hoping that most see this years complete and thorough rejection of that ideology as being as much of a defeat as last year’s was.
    (If last year was the Alamo, with Rabid Puppies playing the Texicans, then this year was surely Custer’s Nearly Last Stand…)
  3. Worldcon is more democratic than democracy
    We learned that the Worldcon business meeting is long, laborious, sometimes tedious – but always run in an open and transparent manner. Anyone who wishes to influence the way that WSFS conducts itself need only appear.
  4. Things Will Change
    We also learned:  a YA award – not-a-Hugo – will be passed on to the 2017 Business meeting for ratification and that a committee will be selecting someone for whom to name the award.  Additionally, EPH passed and will be in effect during next year’s Hugo Awards.  This means that an almost-obscure method of distributing an individual vote will be used in an attempt to fairly identify slate nominees.  This is expected to result in each award category having anywhere from one to two “safe” finalists.  Meaning that there is a good possibility that the final ballot for next year will largely resemble this year’s ballot.The 4-and-6 (now 5-and-6) anti-slate proposal will be in effect next year as well.
    We learned that 3SV will be sent on for ratification at next years Worldcon, as will EPH+ anti-slate methods.
    My vote is to ratify 3SV and sunset everything else:  While somewhat effective, the EPH options are too obscure and confusing (meaning – too much chance to accuse the awards of jiggering things behind the scenes – not that this has ever or would ever actually happen) and because allowing the community to loudly and publicly reject slated nominees is satisfying, sends a clear message and prevents greifers from being able to ever stick “Hugo Finalist” on their book covers, websites, name badges or anything else.  If that sounds punitive, so be it.
    (Award wonkery below.)
  5. JWC: Best Editor of All Time?
    We learned that John W. Campbell will be the perpetual winner of Best Editor awards for the Retros.  (Not cast in stone, but very, very likely. Maybe it’s time to declare him the Greatest SF Editor of All Time and remove him from future ballots.)
  6. Sad Puppy Whimpers
    We learned what it was like to hear directly from Kate Paulk, Sad Puppies’ 2016s Grand Imperial Poobah.  During Business Meeting debate on 3SV, she had the following to say:

    I’m Kate Paulk. Some of you may recognize my name. I don’t care if you do or don’t.

    I would like to point out that as written, this proposal is for a vote of all the membership. Since some of the membership are committed, and I’m not naming names, but since some of the membership are highly committed to having works of their choice stay in and works that they dislike stay out, what precisely does this do to prevent a highly motivated antithetical group from taking membership and then using this to knock out worthy candidates?

    What does this proposal do to enhance the reputation of the Hugo Awards?

    What does it do to increase the membership, which, given the popularity of science fiction as a whole and the increasing popularity with young people, should have a voting base more than double the current base, it should be wildly popular and if there are thousands upon thousands of voters, and thousands upon thousands of nominators, the ability of any one specific faction to dominate anything is massively diluted.

    Whereas this proposal is really going to expose the awards to even more likely manipulation and do a great deal of damage in my opinion to the reputation of the Hugos as a whole, to the reputation of the Hugo committee for honesty and to the potential future of the Hugo Awards.

    (video: Part 1: Begins at 8:34 and Part 2: Ends at 1:00)

    Well.  Ahem.

    My translation is as follows:

    I’m Kate Paulk and I really, really, really, really, really want you to like me.

    If you approve this amendment, other groups of voters might very well do what the Sad Puppies have tried to do and have already done – keeping works they “dislike” off the ballot.  Oh noes, someone might steal our thunder, we might not be able to game things onto the ballot anymore

    Even though this proposal has nothing whatsoever to do with the reputation of the Hugo Awards, I’ll throw that in because folks seem sensitive to it.

    (This proposal will enhance the reputation of the Hugo Awards by preventing them from being hijacked by sad and rabid puppies [but I’m not naming the names of the highly committed antithetical group…])

    The Hugo Awards should be a popular award because we believe that the vast majority of young voters will vote for US and not for YOU.  Because after all, if you sell the most hamburgers, you must have the most popular burger and that means you should win an award.

    And, you know, the Hugo Awards are a popular award, not an award presented by an organization that folks have to be members of in order to vote

    (The only people who have ever called the honesty of the Hugo Committee into question are a certain highly committed antithetical group.)

    If you vote this proposal in, we’ll be less able to negatively effect the future of the Hugo Awards. – Translation ends.

    The Business Meeting behaved with astonishing restraint and professionalism as the head of the group that started this whole kerfuffle in the first place attempted to argue that no changes should be made so that they can continue to run their bullshit on the Hugos for another year.

    Yes, Vizzini, it is Inconceivable!. Now I think it means what you think it means.

Other notes:

We learned that Worldcon will brook no pre-planned political theater to interfere with its programming.  Good one, Concom. Nuff said on that.

We learned that “Don’t Mess With the Hartwell” should probably be printed on a T-shirt.

We learned that an organization of well-intentioned individuals who stick to their principals may be slow, but patience is a virtue and the good will out in the end.

Summation:   Expressed in a manner that fans of every ilk can easily understand:  Worldcons Rule, Puppies Drool.

Award change discussion if you’re interested:
There has been some argument that 3SV needs EPH to be effective.  Getting a bit wonky here: 3SV would put the top 15 nominees before the voters for a yae or nay;  to remove an item requires that the number of nays is at least 600 or 20% of the membership and a majority of the 3SV votes.  The argument for EPH is that it would prevent the 15 nominees voted on with 3SV from all being slate derived nominees.  Lets suppose that absent EPH, the top 15 are five slated works followed by 10 unslated works.  3SV vote is taken, those top five are removed, we end up with a clean category.  Same starting conditions, but use of EPH flip flops two of the top five nominees (3 from slates, 2 not).  Then 3SV is run.  3SV eliminates 1-3 and 6-7, leaving the same five non-slated work.  Some argue that the entire 15 might be slated:  unlikely for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is coordinating votes for 15 entrants in each of 17 categories.  Finally, if less than 60% vote to remove slated items, its pretty clear that slate voters have parity with non-slate voters and, at that point, we’re essentially back to normal operating conditions.

A fair number of folks on File 770 are applauding K. Paulk’s willingness to address the business meeting.  I applaud the Business Meeting for its willingness to politely listen.
Upon returning from Worldcon, Ms. Paulk wrote not-an-after-action-report, which included her assessment of the Business Meeting, to whit:

…what I saw (and yes, this is just my opinion and you might think differently) was a group of rather confused fans who want to do what they believe is the right thing.
Think of it this way – if you have been told all your life that X is good and Y has to be given an easier ride to make up for past injustice and so forth, and you’ve never actually run into anything that shows you the problems this causes, you’re going to believe it. When you’re trying to do what you think is right, and a small cadre of powerful and loud people insist that nothing you do is good enough, you’re going to accept the gaslighting and verbal abuse, and try harder to make them happy. It’s a classic abuse pattern, and it works particularly well on the not terribly socially ept (aka almost all of fandom) because we socially awkward types find it more difficult to pick up on subtle abuse.

Add to this unpleasantness a generation or so raised on “self-esteem” policies that don’t allow them to fail in any way so many of today’s young adults are incapable of distinguishing between disagreement and abuse, and you have a perfect storm waiting for somewhere to happen. (For those readers of a social justice-y persuasion, remember the feeling of working hard for something and overcoming difficulties to get there? If you don’t, then I pity you, because that’s where strength of personality and genuine self-worth come from – and there are any number of studies out there demonstrating this, but our education system denies children that feeling and that strength). (Here in full.)

Followed by this:
There will be a Sad Puppies 5. It will have more or less the same format as Sad Puppies 4, but I won’t be leading it. That dubious honor goes to Sarah or Amanda (whichever one of them runs slower, I suspect). I’ll be helping behind the scenes, and working with the WSFS committee behind the scenes to help mitigate the damage the motions passed at the business meeting are likely to do to the Hugo brand (Why? Because I don’t want to see an award won by so many greats of the field turn into an irrelevant circle jerk and rather than bitch about its decline I’m going to do what I can to help).

Sad Puppies 5 probably won’t focus on the Hugos – at this stage it’s looking more like being simply a recommended reading list with categories more or less along the lines of the Dragon categories (which, frankly, will be a damn sight easier to manage).

Emphasis mine.

So, if there is any doubt that the SPs still believe there’s a cabal, are still promoting their slate for political purposes and still just don’t freakin’ get it, there you go.

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  1. It seems Davidson, that you’ve forgotten what your mother told you about making assumptions. It just makes you look like an ass. As well as attempting to speak for other people, it’s just not done in polite circles you has been/never was. Not that your articles here on the dusty pages of “amazing stories” mean much.. I just saw this post and laughed.. Is it difficult to be as irrelevant to SF/F as you are now?

  2. The language of Ms. Paulk’s post-convention statement seem to indicate an ideological convergence between the Sad and Rabid Puppies over the last year. While I’ve only been following these things online, it looked like there was a little daylight between the two groups last year, but now it looks like they both kvetch in smug, self-righteous terms about “social justice warriors.”

    1. Of the two groups there is mainly a small difference of degree in regards to SJ Wariors and “being anti-PC equals freedom” but many of the Sad Puppies don’t support the religious intolerance and blacks are genetically inferior savages arguments of Vox Day.

      1. they could easily articulate that difference, but despite having been asked to do so – here and elsewhere – they have so far failed to step up.
        Likely due to the “never apologize, never surrender” bullcrap thinking, they’ve adopted, but the reason hardly matters.

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