thestupiditburnsblackSad Puppies, and the whole Hugo Awards 2015 fiasco-in-the-making, appear to be generating more reader eyeballs than the hapless works themselves on this year’s slate ever will. Mine included. And there are now any number of dogfights, cases of barking up the wrong tree or tail-chasing, or generally rabid behavior following the pack.

One of the most hydrophobic examples comes from the esteemed Theodore Beale AKA Vox Day, a far-right writer not unknown for his previous sallies into genre culture wars via GamerGate and similar debacles. Charles Stross managed to unearth through some diligent sleuthing the following rant which – as well as yoking Sad Puppies together with Indiana pizza purveying practices in the cause of the Right – frankly needs to be read to be believed:

It’s time for the church leaders and the heads of Christian families to start learning from #GamerGate, to start learning from Sad Puppies, and start leading. Start banding together and stop accommodating the secular world in any way. Don’t hire those who hate you. Don’t buy from those who wish to destroy you. Don’t work with those who denigrate your faith, your traditions, your morals, and your God. Don’t tolerate or respect what passes for their morals and values.

Stross also revealed that nine – no less – of the Hugo nominations came from Castalia House, a Finland-based independent publisher founded by – you guessed it – Vox Day. Their slate of authors also includes John C. Wright, fingered almost six years ago as a spectacular and virulent homophobe. Speculation now is doing the rounds that Castalia House was created specifically to launch books to pack the Hugos.

And from the sublime(ly awful) to the ridiculous, we have the high-speed headline recension by Entertainment Weekly of their report on the affair. Originally this carried the headline “Hugo Award nominations fall victim to misogynistic, racist voting campaign.” EW duly had to revise their report to carry a leading apology as follows:

CORRECTION: After misinterpreting reports in other news publications, EW published an unfair and inaccurate depiction of the Sad Puppies voting slate, which does, in fact, include many women and writers of color. As Sad Puppies’ Brad Torgerson explained to EW, the slate includes both women and non-caucasian writers, including Rajnar Vajra, Larry Correia, Annie Bellet, Kary English, Toni Weisskopf, Ann Sowards, Megan Gray, Sheila Gilbert, Jennifer Brozek, Cedar Sanderson, and Amanda Green.

Nice to know that EW checks its facts so thoroughly before running articles on such a controversial issue. And needless to say, theirs was an absolute gift to the Sad Puppies claque.

Everyone and his or her dog, including The Guardian, now appears to want to take a bite out of this. People who have hardly ever heard or cared about SF, let alone the Hugos, are now probably going to remember both only in the context of this unsavory spectacle. Thank you for that, Hugo organizers.

I’d leave the last word to the estimable Peter Watts on this one: “If you’re an end-justifies-the-means sorta person, then by all means decry the block who stacked the deck and got-out-the-vote in pursuit of their antique right-wing agenda; praise the more progressive folks who try to get you to eschew straight cis white male writers for a year. But if the road matters to you as well as the destination, don’t lose sleep over the fact that the bad guys played a better game this time around. Give a thought to the rules that promote such strategies in the first place.”

The Sad Puppies wouldn’t have had their day without the dozy hands who let them soil the manger in the first place. The organizing process and voting procedure for the Hugo Awards are themselves as much a measure of the decadence and decay of the traditional SF fan/con base as the Sad Puppies. A Sad Puppy is for life – not just for Hugo-mas.

Editor’s Note: Changed some wording for better clarity and accuracy.


  1. Speaking of failing to check basic facts, you said:

    ” nine – no less – of the Sad Puppies Hugo nominations slate came from Castalia House”

    Looking at Torgersen’s slate, I see three. You’re either confusing or conflating Sad Puppies with Vox Day’s Rabid Puppies.

    In addition, Day did not appear on the Sad Puppies slate, nor did he participate in selecting works for it.

    Nice try.

  2. The Hugo Awards have always had a small number of nominators and a slightly larger number of voters, with the numbers being somewhere around a few thousand people. Since anyone can buy a membership to the convention, it’s going to be pretty hard to prevent a small, dedicated group of people from overwhelming the nomination or voting process, no matter what the rules are.

    While they are different, it’s easy to conflate the Sad Puppy and Rabid Puppy slates, since 52 of 60 items on the Sad Puppy slate were also on the Rabid Puppy slate. I would argue however, given the number of RP slate candidates that are nominees and were not on the SP slate, the RP slate voters probably had more impact than the SP slate voters.

  3. For a lot of the people upset by Sad Puppies, the political and racial ballot leanings or lack thereof are a secondary issue, or a non-issue altogether. They’re upset by the use of slates, period, and would just as readily vote nominees from an all-diverse liberal message fiction slate below “No Award” as they would the Sadly Rabid Puppies slates.

  4. Might I suggest a Dead Puppies slate for next year? Choose bad, inept, and dull books that nobody will like because dead puppies aren’t much fun. With a little bit a lyric changes, the Dead Puppies have a ready made theme song.

    So what books would be good for the Dead Puppies?

  5. I think it’s all very well saying, ‘Well, this one’s ruined, let’s try harder next year,’ but many of us cannot afford to be part of a Worldcon every year: many people are going to Sasquan because it’s in their State and they can afford it, or just that they have the chance to go this year and not another (as in my case).
    This state of affairs would make me think long and hard about buying membership of any future Worldcon when a huge chunk of the Hugo Nominations transparently come from one publishing house, and mostly consist of derivative and uninteresting fiction, never mind its politics. Even a respected author like Butcher: do we really believe his TWELFTH Dresden book is one of the greatest books of the year? What was wrong with the other eleven? How come John Wright is suddenly the greatest author in the world?
    Not every one is a diehard con attender, willing to let this one go for better things in future. For some of us, one of our few chances to attend is spoiled and a chunk of our money wasted. Glad to be part of someone else’s learning experience – next time get wise on your own dime!

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