Just Because You’re Paranoid…

…doesn’t mean someone isn’t following you…

The 2017 World Science Fiction convention has closed, the Hugo (and other) award winners are (mostly) safely home and Fandom can rest easy as the voting rule changes appeared to have been effective.

“Appeared” being the operative word here.

But first some shout outs:  A BIG thank you to Tanya Tynjala, Spanish Language Editor, for her coverage of the con over multiple BILINGUAL posts (can anyone point me to any other bi-lingual Worldcon con reports?…I think these are rather unique!).  I think we can, given the circumstances, forgive Tanya for her “I’m very tired” theme.  Of course she was, it’s Worldcon!

Tanya was also this year’s presenter of the Best Fan Writer Hugo (we’re still waiting to see video).

Also, thanks to Steven H Silver for including Karen Davidson in this year’s honor roll.

Thanks to Worldcon 75’s staff for persevering through what seems to have been a series of issues.  Don’t sweat it folks, there’s stuff that happens at every Worldcon.  Yours is over now, people had a good time, now on to the cleanup.

Now back to that “appeared”.

My mother used to call me her “Little Machiavelli”.  Guilty as charged.  I’m not the guy who thinks up a cockroach in the soup to get out of paying for a meal…I’m the guy who suggests dropping the roach in someone else’s soup so the entire dinner crowd gets out of paying….

This year WSFS members had the opportunity to ratify what was perhaps the strongest anti-slate change to the Hugo voting rules – Three Stage Voting (3SV).  (After nominations, voters are supplied with the long list, 15 entrants in each category, and have the opportunity to down-vote entrants they consider to be unworthy.  Enough down votes and the entrant is removed from consideration.)

By a narrow margin, the ratification failed.

This is my only disappointment with Worldcon75.

Seeing as how EPH demonstrated that it is vulnerable to bullet voting (a single candidate per category), the need for 3SV was obvious.  Had 3SV been in place this past year, Patrick Nielsen Hayden would have been on the Best Editor, Long Form ballot, not Vox Day.  (That is speculative, but reasonable speculation, considering Day’s continuous “below No Award” finish at the past three ceremonies.)

Arguments against 3SV mostly centered in two camps:  we don’t need it anymore, EPH and 5+6 (voters nominate up to 5 entrants in each category, the list has 6 entrants) have shown that they can be effective and people will use it for political purposes and gang together to remove items for a variety of reasons.

That last…bothers me.  It suggests that voting fans don’t trust the system, which, with the exception of the past three/four years, has worked just fine for 62 years.  59 times voters participated within BOTH the letter and the spirit of the rules.  That penchant for doing things the right way was even reflected in the No Award massacre of 2015.  (The vast majority also did things the right way those other three years.)

Under 3SV, the only works that would receive enough votes to be removed are those that truly don’t belong there.  Even if voting blocks arose seeking to favor one work over another, they’d never garner enough support (3SV required 60%+ voting for removal) to make it stick.

And in my opinion, a system that enshrines the ability of bullet voters to get at least one of their choices – GUARANTEED – onto the ballot, is an unacceptable solution.

One argument against that really galls me:  “well, if there’s a group of voters who feel strongly enough, than what they vote for should be on the ballot”.  Except, of course, that “group of voters” are only participating to screw with things (not to mention there’s not supposed to be “groups” of voters when it comes to the Hugos, only individuals).

That’s literally like saying, well, if Putin really wants Trump to be president, we should be happy with his campaigning efforts….

I could (and have) argued over this until I’m blue in the face, even though it’s moot at this point, except for the consequences.

First, there’s the economic impact.  Works and people truly not worthy of this award get to bruit their Finalist status for so long as it is beneficial – to THEM.  Further, an economic gain they realize will undoubtedly be used for further attacks on the award and other fannish institutions.  That’s like paying a Dominatrix to whip your butt when you’re not really into that kind of thing.

Second, there’s the societal impact.  Those unworthy works and people are enshrined in Hugo Awards history for perpetuity and, over time, will come to be seen as being on a par with the worthy.

But mostly there’s the future, and here’s why I mentioned that cockroach thing.

First, it’s recently come to my attention that the “puppy” (for want of a better) strategy may have changed a bit.  This may not be an attack on the Hugos per se, but an attack on the entire institution of literary genre awards.  I’ve received and have read on the web far too many statements from people who are “tired” of awards, are finding them to be less meaningful, of experiencing a dilution effect, both because there are so many and because of all of the controversy surrounding them.

The preceding echoes the schoolyard concept of “well, if I can’t have one, no one else can either”.  I’ll be more suspicious of this concept depending upon the outcome and fallout from the 2017 Dragon Awards.

Second is the distinct possibility that this year’s relatively lackluster puppy performance was deliberate.  See, 3SV is the rule that everyone knows has the potential to terminate block voting (and bullet voting).  The puppy strategists know this, perhaps better than the general WSFS voting crowd.

They clearly saw the hole left open for them by EPH and demonstrated their ability to use it this year.  Going quiet, restricting themselves to single entrants, not actively attacking the Hugos as much as in previous years may very well have been their attempt to diminish the vote in favor of 3SV (“well, EPH appears to have scared them off…”)

I think so.  The puppies have now gotten something that no one else in the history of the award has:  a guarantee that they they will have a nominee among the Finalists, year in and year out.  Without 3SV, we’re the ones who handed that to them.

So who is up for an Amazing Stories bullet vote next year?  All I need is .002% of our registered members to buy a supporting membership….

(That last was hyperbole and sarcasm.  I am not, nor will I support, such activity.)

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