Peter Wilkinson (pwilkinson) wrote,
Peter Wilkinson

How I voted on the Hugo ballot

I usually do another LJ post at this time of year, and it will be following this one very shortly - but, unlike most years, this year's Worldcon, by no apparent fault of the organisers, seems to be rather politically charged, to the extent that this will undoubtedly be reflected in commentary on it. So I am making this rather belated post about how I voted in the Hugos, to try to make my own perspective fairly clear and, hopefully, avoid  getting into arguments not intended on either side and which I am unlikely to have the time and patience to deal with.

Having said that, do feel free to comment - but please note that, this year, I will be moderating comments on these two posts.

I am rather anti-Puppy. By British standards, I am mildly left-wing - I do not generally regard myself as a socialist but, as American conservatives use the term, almost certainly am. I have been watching, and quite frequently nominating and voting for, the Hugo Awards for a number of years now. Nominators (and, usually to a distinctly lesser extent, voters) tend to have biases that by no means always mutually cancel out, I don't think I have ever entirely agreed with a shortlist and, most years, I have felt that some of the awards have gone to inferior work. However, in my view, most Hugo nominations have usually been for some of the better work of the year and most winners among the better nominations. Under the circumstances, even though I am sure I am not directly a Puppy target, I feel fairly certain that my views and preferences would classify me as an enemy.

And not only did the Puppy nominations (particularly the Rabid ones) flood out the lists to an unprecedented extent - even after allowing for differences of politics and taste, they were overall visibly below the usual Hugo standard, and they contained (particularly on the Rabid list) some definitely self-serving nominations.

However, this was not equally true of all the nominations, so I would take at least some account of this. The Rabid list was in large measure blatant self-promotion for its organiser - I therefore did not even bother considering nominations for him or works published and/or edited by him or placing them on the ballot paper, but did place everything else, including No Award, in the categories concerned. Nominees I spotted promoting the Puppy lists in general (rather than, say, just their own nomination) or attacking non-Puppies went below No Award and any other works that I found not clearly worse than them. And, while I usually do not make much use of No Award even when I feel a work is not up to standard, this year I would put any Puppy-nominated work that I found clearly below standard below No Award. Finally, if this would leave only one work in a category above No Award, I would place it below No Award if I did not feel I would have given it first or second place in a normal year.

So, what did I come up with? Category by category:

Best Novel: Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
    Second and third choices were The Goblin Emperor and Three-Body Problem - another day, I might well have decided on any order among these, as all (in different ways) struck me as acceptable but not outstanding Hugo winners. Skin Game was competently written - a fun, fairly light read - and I can understand Butcher's best-seller status, but some way short of the first three - I put it fourth, above No Award, and The Dark Between the Stars last, below No Award (not absolutely horrendous - but why, if the Puppies wanted to nominate a lengthy MilSF novel with too many viewpoint characters, not something by, say, David Weber?)

Best Novella: No Award
    Below No Award, I voted for Flow. I did not place any other nomination, for reasons already given.

Best Novelette: The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale by Rajnar Vajra
    One of the less bad Puppy nominations - not really up to Hugo winner standard, but there have been worse and I rather liked it. Second place to The Day the World Turned Upside Down - I can more or less understand why some nominators feel Thomas Olde Heuvelt's work to be worth a Hugo, but I don't share the feeling. Everything else placed below No Award - authors and magazine editors are quite entitled to publish novels chapter by chapter as novelettes, but that does not make them good novelettes.

Best Short Story: Totaled by Kary English
    So far as I was concerned, probably the least bad of the Puppy nominations - not really up to Hugo winner standard, but not hopelessly below. I could see it getting a Hugo nomination on its own merits in a normal year. No Award for second place. Two other works placed below No Award, two not placed at all, for reasons already given.

Best Related Work: No Award
    Leaving aside the two I did not even consider for reasons already given, the rest varied from mediocre to atrocious.

Best Graphic Story: Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Adrian Alphona and Jake Wyatt
    I am not generally a graphic story fan, but I enjoyed this. I placed Saga second, Rat Queens third and Sex Criminals fourth. The one Puppy nominee here went below No Award.

I did not vote in the BDP categories - again, they are not really my thing and, by most accounts, the Puppy nominations were less at variance with non-Puppy tastes than in other categories.

Best Professional Editor (Short Form): Mike Resnick
    No Award in second place, followed by other non-withdrawn nominees, then the withdrawn nominee, to minimise the chances of the nominee who had put himself on his own slate.

Best Professional Editor (Long Form): Sheila Gilbert
    Anne Sowards in second place, followed by No Award. I placed the two Baen editors below No Award - they did not supply adequate information in the packet on which to make an informed choice, and, while Baen has some good authors, the one or two of their editorial decisions that I had heard about during 2014 seemed to emphasise what I find the least appealing end of their publishing list. No vote at all for the nominee who had put himself on his own slate.

Best Professional Artist: Julie Dillon
    No Award in second place - none of the Puppy nominees were of remotely the same standard. Of the Puppy nominees, I did not consider two whose "professional" genre-related work seemed to be for the private publishing house of the Rabid organiser, but did place the other two below No Award.

Best Semiprozine: Strange Horizons Niall Harrison
    Lightspeed second, Beneath Ceaseless Skies third, Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine fourth, and Abyss & Apex fifth.

Best Fanzine: Journey Planet James Bacon, Chris Garcia, Alissa McKersie, Colin Harris and Helen Montgomery
    No Award in second place, followed by Black Gate (withdrawn, but clearly better than the rest of the Puppy nominees), Elitist Book Reviews (not up to previous standards, on packet evidence) and Tangent Online.

Best Fancast: Tea and Jeopardy Emma Newman & Peter Newman
    Galactic Suburbia second, No Award third, then the rest. Nothing absolutely dire here, but none of the Puppy nominees seemed much good to me either.

Best Fan Writer: No Award
    One non-Puppy nominee here (Laura J. Mixon), who I placed next but I am rather uncomfortable about Best Fan Writer being awarded on the basis of just one piece of investigative journalism, however well-presented and undoubtedly valuable. Of the Puppy nominees here, the only one I placed was Jeffro Johnson - rather more modest, but in content (reviews of classic SF from a gaming perspective), more in line with what I see the award as for. The other three were jargon-ridden political rants, not remotely worth placing at any place on the ballot.

Best Fan Artist: Spring Schoenhuth
    Ninni Aalto second, Brad Foster third, Elizabeth Leggett fourth, Steve Stiles fifth

The John W. Campbell Award (not a Hugo): Kary English
    Wesley Chu second, No Award third. For some reason, even though Wesley Chu was the only non-Puppy nominee on the list, I rather bounced off his work in the packet. Jason Cordova after No Award, the other two not considered once it became clear that the supposedly qualifying work presented all seemed to be published by a certain Rabid-connected publishing house.
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