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Puppies: last year, this year, next year

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(I thought about titling this “Puppies: Now and Forever,” which probably would've gotten more clicks, but it wasn't a very accurate headline.)

I have many Hugo thoughts, but this'll do for a starting point:

I've been wondering for the past couple of months why discussions of the 2015 Hugos mostly seem to have forgotten about the 2014 Hugos.

It seems to me (though I could be misremembering) that in 2014 there was widespread consternation over the Sad Puppies slate. The slate wasn't nearly as extensive as in 2015, but almost every slated work and person made it onto the ballot, with the number of nominators for each item being between 60 and 190, more often than not hovering around 100. (Out of a total of 1900+ nominators.)

In the wake of the ballot being announced, a huge influx of people bought memberships (about 1,500 of them), and though it seemed clear from social media that a lot of those supporters were joining in order to vote against the Puppies slate, nobody knew whether the bulk of those supporters were pro- or anti-Puppies. There was a moment when I was concerned that even if there weren't enough Puppies voters to win their categories, there might be enough to prevent awards being given, because of the No Award test.

In the end, it turned out that in fact the large majority of the new voters were anti-Puppy, as was made clear by the detailed voting and nominating breakdown. It's possible that there were as many as 700 Puppy voters (out of nearly 3,600 total voters), but I think it's more likely that there were about 350. (My guesses are based on the total number of first-place votes in each category that went to Puppy-backed items; a flawed metric, but it'll do for my purposes right now.)

The Puppies were defeated, and I was largely happy about the kinds of things that won.

And then this year, it happened all over again, and a lot of people seemed to be shocked at this unprecedented thing happening. I feel like I saw multiple people say, essentially, “What the Puppies did last year was fine, but what they did this year was outrageous.” Which, if my perception of what people were saying is accurate, I guess just means that the Puppies successfully moved the Overton window for what seems like acceptable behavior.

And again this year in the wake of the Puppies slates mostly making it onto the ballot there was a huge influx of new voters, and again this year we weren't sure what percentage of those were Puppies, and again this year the vast majority of the new voters turned out to be anti-Puppy.

And in the past day, I've seen several people say things to the effect that the Puppies won't be able to drum up support for their cause next year.

I've been wrong about a lot of Hugo-related predictions over the years, and I could well be totally wrong about this as well. I would love to be wrong about it. But I find it very unlikely that the Puppies won't dominate the ballot next year.

I think that many Puppies supporters achieved one of their multitude of goals this year, and that, heartened by success, they'll push harder to do it again next year. One Puppy narrative that's already emerged in the wake of this year's voting (in fact, had already emerged months ago) is that a No Award win in any category proves the point that the awards are controlled by intolerant SJWs, and thus that it's important to continue to protest that control by continuing to force the issue.

Summary: The Puppy slate was overwhelmingly rejected by voters last year, so this year they came back with two more-thorough slates and a bigger get-out-the-nominations drive. I don't see any reason for them not to escalate again next year.


Added a little later:

On the Facebook version of this post, Marguerite asked if this means we should give up on 2016. I don't think we should give up—I've made a lot of incorrect predictions over the years, and this one could be too, and giving up would make it a self-fulfilling prophecy. And if nothing else, our nominations will determine next year's Bester awards, as Kat noted in FB comments.

Also, as demonstrated this year, the Novel category is harder to slate-attack than other categories, because there are more nominating ballots in that category and fewer likely works to be nominated. It's possible that even without a liberal counterslate, a few non-Puppy novels will make the list.

But aside from that, I'm pessimistic about any non-Puppy works appearing on the official 2016 ballot.

But I will still read and nominate and vote, and I will still encourage as many people as possible to nominate, and I hope all of you will too.

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