I’ve got no beef with Vox Day. I don’t necessarily agree with all of his positions, but I’m pretty sure he’s not the Devil. I don’t like the idea of escalating the Hugo Wars, but Vox’s threat to No Award 2016 if No Award sweeps 2015 seems more like retaliatory escalation of the current escalation being proposed by some out there. The scary thing is, not only is he open to the idea, he’d probably succeed.
There have been two very different cases with the two recent nominees dropping out: the first is Kloos, who dropped out because he was on the Rabid Puppies list. The statistical analysis done by Nate Givens actually suggests that he was on the Hugo Finalists list BECAUSE of Vox Day’s recommendation, even more so than Torgerson/Correia/Hoyt’s recommendation. Of course anyone has the right to decline a nomination, and no one should give Kloos shit for dropping out, and he’s already apologized (an apology that was publicly accepted) for calling Vox Day a “shitbag”. But the fallout and consequences of withdrawing are unfolding, and what we’re seeing is a notion that Vox Day can destroy writers just by nominating them. Now, it seems reasonable to me that Vox nominated Kloos because he thought that Kloos’ book deserved the attention; but ultimately Vox’s opponents have given him the power, by haranguing and demonizing anyone even tangentially associated with him, to take someone down just by claiming to enjoy them. If you really hated Vox Day, this is the last thing you wanted to do, because it not only proves the Sad Puppies point, it proves his point and gives him new power which he never before had to influence the field. It kind of reminds me of an old Penny Arcade blog where one of them mentioned that they had to avoid linking content they enjoyed because it was like casting the Eye of Sauron on whatever website they linked to with all of the traffic taking down the site. Only instead of taking a website down, it’ll be a person’s chance to ever get named ‘Best in Science Fiction’.
The other case is the withdrawal of Annie Bellet. I’m more disappointed about this one, because her story “Goodnight Stars” is REALLY GOOD and definitely deserved recognition. Her reasons for withdrawing are rather different; she has suddenly shot to public attention, going from relative obscurity to being made a face of the controversy. Lies have been told about the Puppies, and lies have been told about her, but she’s also easy go-to proof that the lies are lies; as such, she feels she’s been made a piece in the political game, and she wants no part in it.
One can’t help but feel like one is watching the Hugos fall apart or rather about to smash into a wall at 90 miles per hour, but less because of the Sad Puppies or any of the Nominees, really, but because the reactions, the threats, harassment and escalation brought on in response to them. If their opponents go scorched earth this year with No Award campaigns concurrent with harassing nominees because of who nominated them, then it would be hard to blame Vox Day for retaliating with a scorched earth campaign of his on in 2016. I don’t really think that anyone wants to see that happen – at least not on the Sad Puppies side – but it seems that there are a lot of folks unwilling to take their foot off the gas even though Vox has said he’s building a wall and even faxed everybody the invoice he got for the bricks and mortar.
On a more or less unrelated note, I started reading Summa Elvetica. It’s not bad!