Conversation with Freer

On Mad Genius Club, Dave Freer and I have been having a conversation. I reprint it here in full.


“in the sea of sf fandom (by which I mean readers), 3500 is virtually irrelevant”

3500 voters is a lot of voters by Hugo standards, but compared to all the readers out there, its not much, no.

However, the ~1000 Puppies who voted is smaller still. I am reading a “We’re the real majority” argument here, Mr. Freer. (Correct me if I am wrong). However, I don’t buy it.

I am not certain that either side can claim that the larger sphere of fandom is Puppy or Anti-Puppy. It just is. The 16 year old anime fan? The 40 year old fan who just liked B-5? The 50 year old fan who read SF when he was a teen? They don’t care about Beale, Wright, Nielsen Hayden or any of us.

My objection, this entire time boils down to this: The use of overt slate voting tactics to dominate a nomination ballot. I read the nominees, and judged them on quality. I also bore in mind how a nominee got there. I voted accordingly.

And no, I am not backslapping or cheering. The fact that the Hugos, a world SF award, got pulled into a US cultural war is crap. I lament that this year’s results turned out as they did. However, would awarding things like “Wisdom from my Internets” reflect the best of SF?

Did good people with good work like Toni Weisskopf get caught up in this? Absolutely.

Slating hurts everyone. It hurts the people left off–and it hurts the people who are on.

Dave’s Response:

Paul Weimer I am very glad you bothered to read and vote accordingly. Unfortunately, it appears you missed reading my feeble efforts, or failed to understand them. Your ‘side’ is very narrowly defined – by it’s actions and nominations. At best it makes up 15% of the US Demographic, and probably nearer to 7%. It is intolerant, narrow little church, where doctrinal purity is essential -and, as was amply displayed by the consistent ‘No Award’ largely made of camp-followers who voted to order. It nominates and votes for the same every-narrowing clique. It is deeply, passionately invested in the Hugos. I can without effort find 50 references this year from your clique to the puppies ruining something they value enormously. I challenge you – in the years when everyone but this narrow clique was excluded – find 10 of anybody among the excluded for many years making impassioned comments about how the clique had ruined the enjoyment of something they enjoyed enormously, that they waited eagerly all year for. The best you’ll find is a little sadness, but mostly those outside your little clique DON’T CARE. That is my point – with reason to care, huge effort… and you managed 3500 supporters. On opposite extreme – the ‘slate’ you accuse the puppies of voting to is shown in the actual nomination numbers that it was precisely what it claimed to be 1)Not a dictate, any more than the Locus ‘slate’ is a dictate. Have you punished the authors and editors Locus put on their list? Or is that different because it is one set of rules for your clique (it’s OK if we do it) – and different rules for the untermensch? Our ‘slate’ has vastly more diversity of thought and socio-political variety than any clique slate (which, as PNH helped to establish was very much a thing in the private backrooms of the clique). Your side represents a small, narrow doctrinaire tight group. The other ‘side’ – the puppy ‘side’ isn’t truly a side at all. It’s anyone outside your clique – from moderate left (and some of them are pretty far ‘moderate’) to right. We have a spectrum of religious and ethnic origins who actually disagree. Your lot have no diversity that is more than skin deep – very visible in their voting. So yes, you are wrong. Your clique is outnumbered by everyone you have excluded. At the most conservative that is 85% of the US demographic. Most of them don’t care a damn about the Hugos and sadly don’t care much about sf either. We’ve been trying to turn that around. You’ve been fighting that all the way. But prove me wrong, by all means. But don’t tell me: show me. Get your little clique to stop nominating the same people, to nominate new people of different political viewpoints. Ones not ‘tainted’ by our ‘slate’. Ones popular with the audiences who are not part of your clique. Propose them to your friends. Show us that you aren’t a narrow little clique putting a white man up for his 52nd nomination, because he’s part of your clique. I would be delighted to see the proof, and would certainly consider their work.

Now as to the backslapping and cheering. You say you’re not part of it. Well, as we’ve been told (in fact, you do so yourself in comment about how the nominee got there) guilt by association is still guilt even if the party concerned is purely there by accident, and has not supported the pups or even mentioned Vox Day ever. They didn’t condemn us, and recuse themselves abjectly apologizing? They’re guilty. So -sauce for the goose – you have OFTEN and vocally supported many of those cheering and backslapping, never mind simply being on the same side. Let’s hear it. Denounce them or we’ll have to hold you as guilty as them. Come on, Paul. Start by a nice rousing condemnation of the vileness of Patrick Neilsen-Hayden. We have a list, a long list, for you to go on with from there. We’d be delighted to see you holding to the rules your clique think we untermensch should follow. Show us.

“Did good people with good work like Toni Weisskopf get caught up in this? Absolutely.

Slating hurts everyone. It hurts the people left off–and it hurts the people who are on.”

Ah. The well-known ‘You made me hit you’ defense. Who uses that normally? Nice people, of course. Now tell me about these ‘left off’ – how did PNH know they’d been left off before the results were public. We didn’t (in fact couldn’t) tell him. But he knew. Now how did he do that without knowing who he expected to be on? Yes, slates hurt everyone. Secret ones, ones log-rolled in private for the benefit of a small clique who have done this for years in the nebs and plainly see no problem in this behavior (so long as the untermensch don’t) are far the worst for the whole genre. At least, in the open one can see and raise possible alternatives. That should open the field up, draw more people in, the way that the same people the same narrow clique cannot.

Paul, I have read your tweets and they’re pretty obnoxious. On the the other hand I have read some of your posts and they’re less so. 140 characters is not great for expression. I expect (and I’ve written about this for years) the rise of a new National-Socialist era, as a direct result of economics (something that seems closer every day). This does not appeal to me, but I see it coming like an express-train. When/if the future take this direction freedom and tolerance in writing will get the usual pounding. Those in your clique will want, desperately, support from the center. Take my advice, please, and start showing that you tolerate difference in others as you hope they will one tolerate you. I will, as I always have, stand for your right to be heard. But it does make my work easier if some of your side haven’t been the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation.

Show us.

I responded:

1)Not a dictate, any more than the Locus ‘slate’ is a dictate. Have you punished the authors and editors Locus put on their list?

I look at the Locus Recommended Reading List every year.

It’s NOT a slate. Why? It’s a LIST, not a Slate. Its far more than 5 novels or novellas or stories. If its a slate, Dave, which of the 30 novels are supposed to be the ones I’m slating?

There is a fundamental difference between putting 20 novels on a list and saying “These are great” and 5 novels, which tempts someone to just plug a nomination ballot with them.

I’ve said before–if Kate were to publish something like that next year, from suggestions from the people here, I’d *welcome* that–I’d find new stuff to read. There’s nothing wrong with longlists. You can’t use a longlist to slate anything, and even more, you find stuff to read.

A slate only pushes a nominating platform.

As far as my tweets–if you find them obnoxious–well, I apologize. That is not my intent.

One thought on “Conversation with Freer”

  1. Also, the Locus Recommended list isn’t specifically for the Hugo Awards. It’s akin to a very long year’s best list. Are Top 10 lists a slate?

    The difference, which you very much know, is how the slate is put together in order to get those works on the Hugo ballot compared to a much longer list that just says “these are awesome”

    But then I’ve also already written about how I’d run a SP campaign if such a thing needed to be run in the future. And it’s not how it’s been done so far – it’s more like what you want Kate Paulk to do.

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