|An image from Vox Day’s forthcoming SJWs|
Always Lie, depicting him as Grant Morrison atop
a throne surrounded by his friends and a frankly
alarming number of subliminal penises.
Vox Day (who we’ll be spending a bit of time on this week; look for my review of his forthcoming SJWs Always Lie on Thursday) is making much of the question of what he’s going to do next. Including a private conference with his readers to serve as a “strategy meeting” for next year.
This is, like almost everything to emerge from the Day Bunker, largely bravado. Day’s tactics, which are really little more than what you’d get if you handed a fifteen-year-old on 4chan a copy of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, are in fact eminently predictable. So here’s your 2016 Hugo Awards preview.
First, the thing to realize is that Day’s tactics are shaped by one massive and fundamental constraint: there’s not actually a huge pool of people who want to follow a racist, misogynistic fascist lunatic. He boasts 440 “vile faceless minions,” his self-effacing term for the mob that has actively signed up to follow his orders. That’s consistent with the data from the Hugos this year, which suggested around 500 Rabid Puppy voters. More interestingly, the proportion of Rabid Puppy supporters in nominations and voting is about the same. In other words, it really doesn’t look like Day can wield more than 10-20% of the total voting pool, assuming that anti-fascist fandom (both moderate and hardline) holds their nerve and keeps up the fight.
Second, the thing to realize is that we don’t actually have to do that for all that long. Nomination reform passed at Sasquan. Another year spent cleaning dogshit off our yard is only going to make ratification of it next year easier. Which means that as of 2017, the effect of slates is going to be heavily, heavily muted. Day will have an easy time getting one or two works on the ballot, and a nearly impossible time controlling the entirety of it. At that point, the Hugo Awards will go back to something more or less like business as usual, only with, I suspect, a long-term suspicion of overtly conservative SF/F born from the memory of what utter cockmongers conservative SF/F fandom has been in the past.
Which means that 2016 is going to be the year Vox Day tries to burn it to the ground so that he can declare victory and walk away, conveniently exiting the fight as the “winner” right before the rule changes to blunt his flaming sword go into place.
Given this, I think we can safely assume that the Rabid Puppy slate in 2016 is going to consist of five nominees in every category, to try to maximize the number of categories with no non-Puppy nominees. I suspect he’s also going to pointedly include nominees that exist to dare the left to vote against them. Frankly, given his past praise of him, if he doesn’t put something from Miéville’s Three Moments of an Explosion up in short story, he’s a moron. It wouldn’t surprise me to make his slate next year too, as an attempt to force me into some position where he can declare me a hypocrite. (Of course, given that Day’s tactics in this regard consist of “declare what the rules for someone else’s behavior are, then call them a hypocrite for not following the rules he made up,” this is not exactly a challenge for him.)
I then expect that, come the actual voting, he’ll advocate No Award in all categories, hoping to add his 10-20% of the voting pool to the anti-fascist bloc so that he can take credit for “burning the awards down,” a term that, notably, only the Puppies have ever applied to the act of preferring No Award to outcomes that legitimize fascism.
He’ll probably also credit this post as inspiring him, not that he hasn’t already thought of all of this already. Or now he won’t, because I said that. It’s all very Inception with him.
Anyway, these tactics are decidedly obnoxious, but hinge on a key lie at the heart of everything Vox Day does, namely that being a dick is some sort of game of fucking four-dimensional chess, and, more to the point, that anybody but him is playing.
The reality is that we’re all playing Calvinball, and our only actual investment in the Hugo Awards is that we think they’ve done a pretty good job of recommending good stuff to read, and that they’re fun. We’ll play by whatever rules let us have fun and recommend good books without endorsing fascism, and we will continue not to give a flying fuck whether Vox Day declares victory or calls us hypocrites, because we recognize that he’s going to do that anyway.
So what should we do?
First and foremost, we should be loud during the nomination process. I don’t think we should organize slates, partially because there’s enough of an anti-slate faction in fandom that it would be self-defeating, and partially because I think we’d do a poor job of coalescing around a single slate. But I think we should talk about nominations. Certainly I’ll be doing that here, both in terms of my own nominating ballot and in terms of posts by others about their ballots.
But this needs to not just be me. Scalzi, Stross, Martin, and the other big names who lent their voices to the anti-Puppy campaign this year need to help us from the start next year and make their nomination ballots public. There’s a lot of casual fans who are eligible to nominate, but a lot of us haven’t read five novelettes from 2015 of Hugo quality, and some high profile recommendations of stuff to look at are going to be helpful. This shouldn’t be slates, again – it should be dialogue. A big, loud, public conversation among the 80% of fandom who just said “hell no” to Vox Day about what we love, conducted early enough to help get it on the ballot.
That, hopefully, will give us the easiest counter to whatever Day proposes for next year, namely a Hugo ballot that isn’t so awful that we want to No Award five major categories.
And if Day manages to clog the ballot with dogshit again? Well, we’ll see. If he goes the route of including good, progressive stuff just to dare us to vote against it, I may well vote for it. Frankly, I don’t think there’s a world where China Miéville winning his first Hugo can be spun as a victory for fascism. If he just puts John C. Wright up five times in every category, well, we’ll have the awards back in 2017 anyway, and I have no qualms about another Year of the Asterisk in the history of SF/F.
Either way, though, you know what Vox Day’s next move is going to be?