Hugo nominations: Fan, incoming, 3, 2, 1 …

5 04 2015

The 2015 Hugo award nominations have been announced, and Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine is shortlisted among those in the ‘Best Semiprozine’ category. A Hugo nomination is, of course, marvellous recognition for the achievements of a little Australian-based magazine, which has played its part in starting the careers of a great many local and overseas specfic authors, and which has given many members of the Andromeda Spaceways team, myself included, a great deal of useful experience in the tasks associated with publishing. As a member of the ASIM team, I ought to feel considerable pride in the nomination; and yet I cannot, not as I should. For it appears we did not get there under our own steam, but as one of the recommendations listed on the ‘Sad Puppies 3’ slate.

Lest this be seen as mere coincidence, I don’t see how it can be. ASIM‘s never been Hugo-shortlisted before, not even in the wake of the 2010 Worldcon in Melbourne. And 51 of the 60 ‘serving suggestions’ on the Sad Puppies 3 slate have found their way onto the Hugo ballot. All of Sad Puppies’ recommendations for Novella, Novelette, Related Work, Graphic Story, Long Form Editor, Short Form Editor, Professional Artist, Fanzine, Fancast, and John W Campbell Award got through to the ballot; there was no category in which some Sad Puppies rec did not get through. There is, of course, other stuff on the ballot as well; but it’s damned hard to see this as anything other than a disappointing exercise in tribalism, and as something, therefore, which immeasurably cheapens the ballot for anyone who finds themselves on it through such means.

There were three ‘slate’ recommendations for the semiprozine category: ASIM, Abyss & Apex, and Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show. I cannot help but feel that OSC’s IGMS was probably, for reasons of hierarchy and politics, the first preference of the slate organisers, and that ASIM and Abyss & Apex were there perhaps merely to lend some semblance of impartiality to the Sad Puppies’ list of recommendations, and may have owed as much to their position in the alphabet — you don’t have to trawl far through Ralan’s to find us — as to their merits as purveyors of fine speculative fiction. (I mean no disrespect at all to Abyss & Apex through this conjecture, by the way, and would point you towards that magazine’s own gracious and measured response to the current imbroglio, which is well worth reading. As, indeed, is the magazine.) Like ASIM, Abyss & Apex made it through to the ballot; IGMS missed out.

There’s always this problem with fan-based awards: each friend a potential vote; the drive to the formation of alliances, cliques, blocs. And it’s not so difficult to cross that line from recommendation to apparent organisation; but it’s disastrous for fandom when it happens. Because how do you fight a bloc, except with another bloc?

Of course, on one level, all that Sad Puppies 3 have done is to put up a ‘list of recommendations’, which is not so far from what I (and a million-and-one other fans) have done in advance of various upcoming award seasons. But I always take care (I hope) to point out that interested parties should only vote in accordance with their own wishes, and for things that they themselves have read, or viewed, and personally enjoyed. Because that’s what the vote is supposed to be. Anything else is drifting into a mockery. I’ve been fortunate to have been the recipient of two fan-based awards to date (the Sir Julius Vogel Awards, for 2009 and 2013): I didn’t court them; I cherish them; and I would feel as cheated as, I’m sure, would my competitors, if I discovered that my success in either of those categories had arisen through bloc voting. And the SJVs are, let’s face it, small beer up against the Hugos. (Delicious beer nonetheless. Kiwis are excellent brewmasters.)

So ASIM is on the Hugo ballot. We at the magazine have known about this for about ten days’ time, and have long since sent through the acceptance. But because none of us are exactly active in US fandom, we only became aware of the Sad Puppies connection very late in the piece — in fact, a scant three days before the nominations were made public, and well after all the dust had settled on the nomination process itself. ASIM was never informed about our inclusion on the Sad Puppies 3 slate — if we had been, I very strongly suspect our response would have been a resounding ‘Hell, No’ — and there was no time, nor any point, in looking to remove ourselves once we did get there.

My own take on this is that a Sad Puppies vote for ASIM is a ‘pity-sex’ vote. This doesn’t benefit the magazine, doesn’t benefit fandom, not one bit. Fans who are eligible to vote should only endorse ASIM (which, btw, will be included in some form in the Hugo voters’ packet) if they’ve read and enjoyed the magazine, and judged it worthy of the award against the current competition. That’s what voting is supposed to be about. Sometimes we forget that.



37 responses

5 04 2015

Reblogged this on Spider's Web and commented:
Our semi-pro paying compatriots, over at Andromeda Inflight Spaceways Magazine, had this to say about the Hugo ballot…

5 04 2015
Dr. Mauser

You said: “But I always take care (I hope) to point out that interested parties should only vote in accordance with their own wishes, and for things that they themselves have read, or viewed, and personally enjoyed. Because that’s what the vote is supposed to be.”

Torgerson, and Correia before that have been very clear about people voting their own preferences in this campaign, and if you glean through the data of last year’s nominations and votes, you’ll see that there is quite a spread, indicating that a solid bloc didn’t happen. And if you read Correia’s post from today (where he explains why he declined his nomination), in the comments you’ll find that a lot of the folks making nominations did not put down anything they had not personally read – not the characteristic of a voting bloc.

What really should have people up in arms is the number of people going against the spirit of the award by swearing they’ll vote No Award without reading the works in question simply because they were endorsed by Torgerson (this year, the job will rotate to another author next year). How can one legitimately rate the quality of a work without reading it? If one really wants to protect the integrity of the Hugo, then one should follow the process properly. The Sad Puppies voters will do this, but the “Social Justice Warriors” on the left say they will not.

5 04 2015

The end result — 51 of 60 slate recommendations successfully on the ballot — would appear to speak for itself. You, personally, may be convinced that this result is somehow not an effect due to bloc voting; but it looks like a duck, and it walks like a duck, so what are observers to make of it?
And I’ll reiterate that Torgerson is, to put it politely, mistaken about contacting all of the slate-work creators before listing them. ASIM was never contacted, neither before nor after its placement on the slate. So the line ‘one should follow the process properly’ rings a little hollow, I’m afraid.

5 04 2015
Dr. Mauser

He’s admitted he missed a couple. Two asked to be removed, one was perfectly fine with it. There shouldn’t be anything WRONG with being endorsed by someone… unless a certain former TOR editor is making veiled threats…. (which shouldn’t bother you, you’re outside her reach).

Again, you only have the results, but you don’t know how many noms each one got. Judging by last year’s results, there can be quite a span in the number of votes even among the five finalists. It’s not like say, 2008, when three TOR related works were separated by something like three votes.

If it were a Bloc, why wasn’t it 60/60?

We’ll know for sure when the raw data is released. Anything said before then is pure speculation.

And in any case, anyone who votes “No Award” without reading all of the works presented is doing more to damage the integrity of the Hugos than any slate ever published by anyone. I think we agree on that.

5 04 2015

‘He’s admitted he missed a couple.’ By your own count there are at least three, not including ASIM, so that makes at least four — not a number that any conventional celebrant would recognise as a ‘couple’.

I have no idea what you’re referring to with ‘veiled threats’ in connexion with a former TOR editor. I once very badly wrongfooted a TOR editor by almost causing her to miss her flight out of Canberra airport when my car broke down, but that has absolutely nothing to do with the Hugo nominations.

‘If it were a Bloc, why wasn’t it 60/60?’ Probably because the bloc voting was not utterly monolithic; because some people outside the bloc presumably cast some nominations for some slated works, and not others, causing a differential; and because of interference from the overlapping ‘Rabid Puppies’ slate, on which many (but not all) of the same works also crop up. You’re right, we won’t know for sure until the raw data’s out there; but I can read an entrail as well as the next fan.

‘I think we agree on that.’ I’d certainly encourage all voters to read everything they can. But I’d very much prefer you didn’t seek to co-opt my opinions on the merit, or otherwise, of voting ‘No Award’.

6 04 2015
Dr. Mauser

I mis-spoke, actually there were two who declined when contacted.

As for the veiled threats of “Fannish wrath” directed at those who didn’t disassociate themselves from the list, It’s easy enough to find on TNH’s blog.

Which is why some people found it necessary for Brad to “Clear” his recommendations with people. If Scalzi had been suggesting your publication, would he have needed to check with you first as well?

7 04 2015

We don’t have to wait for the final stats to see there was very obvious slate-voting. These numbers from Niall Harrison’s photo show clearly what the Rabid/Sad Puppies’ influence is:

If I’m not mistaken, the number of nominations needed to get to the shortlist skyrocketed. That means people nominated works in a very uniform way, as whole slates.

Sorry to see this happening to ASIM.

5 04 2015
Puppies Fetch Hugo Nominations and the Neighbors Have Plenty To Say | File 770

[…] “Hugo Nominations: Fan, Incoming, 3…2…1” – April 5 […]

6 04 2015
Christopher J Garcia

I had y’all on my ballot a few years (though, I must admit, this year was a big year for Semi-Pros, so you sedimentary layering to the Puppies – those that would likely have been on anyways (Toni Weisskopf, for example), those that could have been on with a little more attention placed on them (I think ASIM falls here), and those that had no chance in hell without a concerted effort (Vox Day, the best example). Last year, I felt like more of the slated works fell into that last category, this year, maybe half fall into that middle category.

I basically spent yesterday getting messages from folks, most Congrats, but some apologizing for not being able to vote for Journey Planet because voting for anything in a category with a majority of the Slated works would be legitimizing the Puppies. That sucks for us, but I imagine if that thinking holds wide, it’ll suck more for y’all.

6 04 2015
6 04 2015
ASIM And The Australian’s Dilemma | Melbourne Review of Books

[…] level of fervour needed to get on the Hugo lists. One of them who work on ASIM, Simon Petrie, has already posted that they were unaware that the vote came via the ‘puppies’ campaign and has moved to […]

6 04 2015
My thoughts on the Hugo Nominations | Relentless Reading (And Writing About It!)

[…] members of the Sad Puppy nominee for best semipro zine, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Simon Petrie and Sue Bursztynski weigh in. Apparently they were not consulted about being included on the slate […]

6 04 2015


I think ‘s probably the worst thing about the whole Sad Puppies campaign is that some people who made it to the list might have got there anyway but they’ll never know for sure. It’s an honour to be nominated for a Hugo, but Sad/Rabid Puppies have taken that away from you.

One can only hope that enough people do what they say and actually read the nominees, so that ASIM will be nominated next year on its own merits.

6 04 2015

Unfortunately, Karen, there are a lot of people saying loudly that they refuse to even READ anything on that list. And others joining as supporting members especially so they can vote “No Award”. But they may be only the noisiest ones. In the end, there will be several thousand people reading their Hugo packet and perhaps some will decide to subscribe, even if they don’t vote for ASIM to show their displeasure. That will do nicely.

6 04 2015
Sad Puppy Hugo Drama- We hear from some of the nominees | Mountain Was Here

[…]  -The reaction of Simon Petrie, a contributor to Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine, which incl… […]

7 04 2015
northern-hemisphere dude

An honorable statement, sir. I don’t suppose you’d consider recusing on grounds of having been dragged onto the slate against your will?

7 04 2015

If the magazine was just me, then that’s very probably the action I’d take. But there are fifteen or so of us behind the magazine, so a diversity of opinion. We’re all opposed to the slate, but that opposition takes various forms. And there are contributors to whom we’d be able to give prominence (for their subsequent careers, not for these awards) in the voting packet, if we stay the course … it is a devilishly thorny issue, and it’s still something we’re grappling with.

8 04 2015
katster's closet » My Mind is My Own

[…] am especially grieved to make this decision in cases like Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Black Gate, and Annie Bellet. It grieves me because Jen Brozek, a person I know and respect, is on […]

9 04 2015

(apologies if this appears twice, wordpress is being derpy)

“My own take on this is that a Sad Puppies vote for ASIM is a ‘pity-sex’ vote.”

What a lame and cowardly attitude for you to take. You really can’t imagine that conservatives suggested and voted for you because they actually liked what you did?

Lose the self-doubt. Lose the immediate assumptions of dishonesty. Lose the idea that praise can’t possibly be legitimate if it comes from people you don’t like BECAUSE IF YOU WERE IN THEIR SHOES THAT’S EXACTLY HOW YOU’D BEHAVE. (You know it’s the truth, and it’s a major part of your political side’s problem.)

And while doing that, stop and consider this: are you actually interested in selling work to, and being read by, anybody who likes speculative fiction? Or does the idea of being read and approved of by people you don’t like bother you enough that you actively want to limit your audience to exclude those people you don’t like, no matter how many of them there are? This an absolutely dead serious question because it is the question the whole field is facing right now. Either SF&F can handle divergent political streams of thought, or it cannot. If it cannot, it will split. Is that what you genuinely want? I’m not telling you not to want that, nor to not work towards it if it is your goal, but I do think you should consider carefully BEFORE taking steps in that direction, because once it happens it probably will not be reversible, and irreversible actions should be approached with caution.

But, that’s a conservative attitude, isn’t it.

9 04 2015

I was well aware that the metaphor ran the risk of striking the wrong tone, but it helped to buy ASIM some clear air from the Sad Puppies slate and, in the immediate aftermath of the Hugo ballot’s release, we desperately needed that clear air.

I will reiterate that ASIM found itself, with effectively no warning, caught in the crossfire of a fandom battle in which it had not, in fact, chosen to participate at all. The politics of the situation become essentially irrelevant, what matters are the ethics. We were placed on a slate without our knowledge and due to this action, and the apparent gaming of the ballot by the Sad and Rabid Puppies, ended up on what is widely seen as a badly-tainted voting selection. ASIM faced severe reputational damage as a result, and may not yet escape such consequence, nor the impact on sales that comes from having our name tarnished by association. Please don’t talk to me about ‘you actively want to limit your audience’, because that sits remarkably awkwardly against the cast of the Hugo ballot that the Puppies have delivered to fandom. Ditto your apparent concerns over splitting the field of SF&F.

This totally shouldn’t be about politics, and in fact I don’t believe I’ve stated mine anywhere in relation to the current situation. And I’m happy for readers of all persuasions to purchase my work, of course; my SF heroes run the gamut of what I think you’d consider a quite wide political spectrum. (And my protagonists frequently find themselves making crucial choices with which I, personally, do not agree, because, hell, that’s *story*.) If the ‘pity-sex’ remark so offends certain people that they’re prepared to write me off, well, it’s perhaps an indication that those people wouldn’t like my stuff anyway, so that might be a time-saver all round. But for others curious to know more about me, I have written stuff.

To rinse and repeat: this is a fight not of ASIM’s making, and we did not ask for this at all. At all. We are still trying to find the least-worst path through this mess that the Puppies have left on our carpet.

I’ll close by noting that I’ve allowed your comment through, but I’ve no wish to see this blog-post turn into a protracted argument on this subject. Therefore, I will respectfully ask you not to respond further to this reply.

9 04 2015
Feel for the folks at ASIM right now | Ian McHugh

[…] further comment from ASIM see Simon Petrie‘s and Sue Bursztynski‘s […]

11 04 2015
More on the Sad Puppies Hugo Nominations • Deirdre

[…] Consider ASIM in Best Semiprozine despite being on a slate. I can’t say it better than Simon Petrie says in this piece: […]

14 04 2015

Hi Simon,
My work is in Issue 60.
If you’re correct about ASIM’s nomination simply being a random attempt to muddy the waters, I’d say getting on the shortlist means it backfired badly! Obviously it’s not nice to feel you only got there because of shenanigans, not because of genuine appreciation…
On the other hand, I can’t see how ASIM could have gotten on the list on the basis of being a conservative bastion…can’t see how any of ASIM’s content could be seen that way…so either you are right, or other forces are at work, maybe even genuine appreciation.
For the record, my piece is a model of diversity, featuring as it does a dragon’s perspective on lamentable human persecution. The dragon is female. Not sure of her sexual orientation, I didn’t ask, discretion being the better part of not getting scorched. Also my story featured indigenous peoples of the higher latitudes of another universe. Also a biting critique of the regressive Guild system of said universe…that could be taken as evidence of conservative tendencies. Perhaps I’m a neo-Feudalist.

14 04 2015

PS. What’s wrong with pity sex?

14 04 2015

Paul, Sue here. Simon knows your story. He gave it full marks in slush and recommended it to me. 🙂 I’m very proud of ASIM 60!

16 04 2015

Doesn’t answer the question…;-)
Another question: I don’t understand the voting system but I struggle to understand why, if they nominated their preferred contender plus two stalking horses, the preferred contender didn’t get up but the stalking horses did. Or is it possible that situation came about because of opposition…?
Ah well. I guess that’s why it’s sad to see any award system like that taken over by psephologists.

16 04 2015

Paul … as is becoming increasingly clear with the advancing days, the Puppies are not the evil / organisational geniuses they would have us all believe. They’ve put on their slates at least three items which were not eligible in the indicated categories (IGMS, Wright’s novelette, and one of the fan writers, I believe), two of which have only just been removed from the ballot within the last 48 hours. Add this to the significant number of slate items not informed by the Puppies of their slating (such as ASIM), the number of those slate items that have come out in opposition to the whole ballot-gaming-exercise, and the concerns expressed online by voices such as GRRM, David Gerrold, and Ferrett Steinmetz (to name but three of thousands), and it’s blatantly clear that the Puppies’ actions have lost them friends, rather than made them, on balance.

(And that question you posed earlier? Sorry I didn’t answer it, but it’s above my pay grade …)

16 04 2015

So maybe they weren’t even trying to be evil organisational geniuses. Maybe they weren’t even pretending to be.
Or maybe they want us to think that. Maybe they have some diabolically clever scheme, some long scam, that we can’t even begin to grasp the shape of…!
Ah, paranoia’s a bitch.
Do you know the scene in ‘Duck Soup’ I’m thinking of…?
That’s the problem once psephologists and voting blocks and horse trading and schemes start happening. Everything and everyone becomes different. So the best thing to do is to ignore it all and just stick with doing the best work you can.
Or we could start a magazine focusing on small hairy people who live in holes, or fairy princesses, or half-naked muscle-bound barbarians, and thrice-damned blood-sucking ghouls, talking animal-gods, and magical quests where dwarvish miners band together to wrest back their wealth from violent plutocratic dragons.
You know, retro. I guess I’m talking reprints.
Look, fantasy and sci-fi are nuts. Anyone trying to narrow them down to an agenda is trying to herd cats.

18 04 2015

Hi Sue. Wanted to post the following comment on your blog but couldn’t, none of the sign-in options were possible for me. Must say it makes it a little hard to comment…

Wow! All those nominations for John C. Wright (Castalia House) and Vox Day himself–shameless! You know things are messy when someone nominates themselves and their own work and organizes a block to vote for them.
As far as the ‘No Award’ trend goes (ie. people urging the tactic of voting ‘No Award’ ahead of any Sad Puppies nominations) –isn’t there a thing called the ‘original text’? That is, the content? Surely that is more important than any voting block fracas? Otherwise, the whole thing devolves into a rock-throwing exercise.
In other words, vote on actual value, not on the politics! We’re talking about spec-fic texts here, not the strategic outskirts of Berlin in 1944. This isn’t life-and-death territory, to merit a ‘no mercy, no compromise’ approach.

15 04 2015
Tim Pratt

IGMS isn’t eligible as a semiprozine (it’s a professional magazine, according to, so it may well have gotten enough nominations and just been ruled ineligible. (Which has been a problem with many of the puppy suggestions, it seems!)

16 04 2015

So Simon’s theory and your reply imply that there wasn’t a single genuine semi-prozine they felt was in line with their aims. I feel sad for them…is that why they are ‘Sad Puppies’?
Maybe they are just out to express their extreme melancholy.
Oh! Finally I get it! THEY are the ones who are after pity sex…!
Why didn’t someone just explain that to me to start with?

18 04 2015

Actually, on further thought…isn’t any attempt to overturn a perceived bias or exclusion a kind of ‘pity sex’ campaign? A sort of ‘why do those girls get all the guys’ affair?
All this goes back to the problematic nature of awards in the first place. Awards are basically aimed at the ignorant. If I’ve actually read a book, why would I care if it’s won an award or not? Awards are aimed at pushing a book to people who haven’t read it.
You can give awards to best sellers–in which case they become sales-oriented rubber stamps. Or you can give them to ‘works deserving of wider recognition’, in which case they become elitist. Or you can make them the expression of the ‘true fans’, in which case…er…well, this whole shemozzle is a case in point. Who ARE the ‘true fans’?

21 04 2015
Alex Hurst

Fantastic response. Thank you for sharing.

24 04 2015
Loose-leaf Links for April | Earl Grey Editing

[…] that this was due to their inclusion on the Sad Puppies slate. ASIM member Simon Petrie has offered his thoughts on the situation and in the comments he touches on the reasons why the publication hasn’t […]

14 05 2015
ASIM’s Statement on its Hugo nomination | THIRTEEN O'CLOCK

[…] further comment from ASIM see Simon Petrie’s post at: and Sue Bursztynski’s post at: […]

20 11 2015
Semiprozine roundup: Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine | Camestros Felapton

[…] attributed the nomination to them being early in the alphabet and as ‘pity sex’ and as a whole they took the ensuing kerfuffle in good […]

31 01 2016
Semiprozine – All the Semiprozines (almost) | Camestros Felapton

[…] ASIM amusingly attributed the nomination to them being early in the alphabet and as ‘pity sex’ and as a whole they took the ensuing kerfuffle in good […]

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