Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Reduxing Vox Day: E Pluribus Hugo

Before we continue, please remember that this is just a war game. I'm really pushing for Peace, Love, and Understanding.

That said, the non-Peace and Love strategies are more fun to discuss. Let's start with E Pluribus Hugo.

EPH seems like a safe bet on the surface. It would likely reduce the Puppy presence from 4-5 nominations to, oh let's say 2-3. By preventing stacked nominations, you can prevent situations like 2015 & 2016 and the presence of Noah Ward.

It's a conventional strategy that offers a decent risk/reward ratio. Sure, the Puppies may get a few slots, but that only lasts as long as they can maintain interest, right? A potentially permanent Puppy presence is a profound price to pay, but less than the cost of year after year of Noah.

But remember, a permanent slot also means a permanent presence. As the Puppies are fond of saying, "Diversity + Proximity = War." And while we might modify the Sum of that equation to "Conflict," the Rabids' preferred form of Conflict is War.

(Tangent - Conflict can be a good thing when the Thesis and Anti-Thesis lead to a Synthesis, but that's just the old Hegelian talking)

While the Rabid Puppies in their current form may peter out and die eventually, that will not end the presence of conservatives in Sci-Fi. We're in the middle of a wider culture war and an indie publishing boom, guys. EPH guarantees further presence and further conflict.

There are basically three scenarios here:

A. Stabilization - The Puppies are mollified with a permanent nomination slot. Tempers cool, and both sides go back to quietly loathing each other and settling things via ballot. Perhaps, in time, people are able to vote for quality/their honest favorites instead of "sending a message."

B. Temporary Cease-Fire - Things cool down initially, but extended contact between Puppies and Kickers leads to greater conflict. The parties involved find new ways to game the system and we end up in the same scenario as now.

C. Balkanization - Things cool down, but extended contact leads to renewed conflict. Neither side is able to game the system and gain an advantage. WorldCon splits into feuding, loathing factions to the point where it is no longer any fun to attend. The Hugos collapse into a multitude of competing Cons/Awards.

As a Sad, scenario A is very appealing to me, but may be unpalatable to Puppy Kickers and Rabids. At any rate, without significant effort on the part of the Kickers to de-escalate, scenario A is impossible.

Scenario A would make me happy, but it's going to come down to B or C. Which is to say, it comes down to whether anyone can game the new rules.With the gaming of the rules that has occurred up until now, B is the safest bet.

So here's your falsifiable prediction: If EPH is adopted, we're either going to see a Temporary Cease-Fire (followed by renewed conflict on a similar scale) or Balkanization, depending on whether or not someone can find a way to game the system. Scenario A happens if there is massive heart-change on all sides and true efforts towards rapprochement.

No, I would not bet on that one either. But one can hope.


  1. There is an option D which nobody seems to be discussing at all: Expansion.

    End the infighting among cliques by moving the Hugos to one of the mega-conventions like New York Comic-Con (I would have suggested DragonCon but they've decided to start their own awards). Vox and his 670 Faceless Minions would be an imperceptible drop in the bucket among 100,000 fans. No single blogger, or even clique of bloggers, would be able to coordinate a "slate" or a "no award" campaign. The fans would have their say.

    1. Interesting. I could see that going in a number of different directions. But we don't need to dissect them, because it will never happen.

      Here's the reason why: it would cost the Powers That Be at WorldCon their Powers.

      They would rather see the Hugos become an openly controlled award than see more Proles get a vote. Moving to Comic-Con would cost them their prestige and role as taste-makers.

      I think they would rather risk Vox kicking them all out of their own Con than lose control. But then, they could always surprise me. It would be an interesting Hail Mary and would give me some respect for the Kickers.

  2. I think the idea of the Hugos is dead. Scalzi and Gould killed it when they arranged with Neilsen-whatever to manipulate the system and give Vox the boot from SFWA. His defense was valid. I read it all. What they did was so wrong they still can't openly acknowledge it, it's like saying they were there at Wannsee.

    It wasn't that act by the Gould/Scalzi front that killed the Hugo, it was the decision by them to manipulate the system to achieve the desired effect and make him the first man ever ejected from sci fi. They screwed up.

    They got the desired effect and they made an enemy of galactic proportions. I kind of like him for this. Scratch that, I do like him for this. I don't buy Tor books anymore and never will. He let out a secret when he was thrown out of the shallow depths of sci-fi. I remember it.

    nemo me impune lacessit

    Did they not want entertainment?

  3. I'm intrigued by the idea that war is the Rabids' preferred form of conflict. The obvious argument is that they didn't start the war, but that won't lead anywhere.

    Why does the Hugo War count as a war, when an NFL game (which is objectively more violent) does not? Is it the lack of agreed upon rules to govern the conflict? Each side striving to think outside the box to discover new avenues of hurting their opponent?

    If that's the problem, then we simply need to agree upon a new framework of rules.

    1. It takes both sides to agree to a rule framework. It's not at all obvious to me that any framework exists that both sides would agree upon.

    2. Do you see them abandoning war without major concessions from the Kickers? And do you see the Kickers making those concessions?

      E Pluribus Bellum.