Wednesday, May 25, 2016


I've deleted and re-written this post about six times, now, and I think that I'm going to just stick with what I have, even if it's not my best work and could probably use about four more editorial passes. Because it should not take more than a month to write a single post.

So be forewarned; This post is less-focused than most. This post is rambly and ranty. This post is only peripherally about games.

This post was triggered by several things:
  1. The whole Hugo Puppies situation that will not go away and die.
  2. The announcement of the Origins Awards short list for this year.
  3. The announcement of the Spiel des Jahres nominees for the year.
I recently realized that awards have no value of their own. The only value an award on a box has is the value that the viewer assigns to it,and that value can change over time.

Because awards - in and of themselves - nearly always suffer from fundamental flaws.

Here is what I think people forget about with awards:

Good and Fun are not the same thing.

Seriously. It (realistically) looks something like this:

If you can't see it clearly, the vertical axis is "Good" at the top and "Not Good" at the bottom.  The horizontal axis is "Not Fun" at the left and "Fun" at the right.

Your ideal award winners are both Good and Fun:

It doesn't matter if you're talking about movies or books or games.  You know what's not on this axis?

Sales. Popularity.

So let's shift to movies. Have you seen The Fast and the Furious or any of its sequels?  Those movies are a ton of fun. But they're not going to win the Oscar for Best Picture. Nor are they trying to do so.

This, by the way, is why the Hugo Controversy is such a big deal to me. I read a ton of Military SF. I read a ton of bad books that are fun to read. And, yes, I read a ton of really good books, too.

This is how I characterized the 2015 Hugo Situation on Facebook a few months back:
The difference is that the Rabid Puppies - unlike the Oscar voters - have mistakenly assumed that Fun = Good.  At least they did last year.  This year, they're just trolls. But at least they're honest about it this year. At least Chuck Tingle's counter-trolling has been worth watching.

And - for the record - I really really did not enjoy The Three-Body Problem. If I remember correctly, it was below "No Award" on my ballot (because I won't vote for books I don't enjoy).

I think that the Puppies' tactics with regard to the Hugos have damaged the value of the 2015 and 2016 award, but I don't think the awards themselves are now write-offs. Otherwise, I wouldn't still be involved with the process.

Eventually Vox Day will get bored. Or his followers will realize that they're spending $50 each every couple of years to no effect. And the rules are changing to reduce the impact of slate voting, so eventually that $50 will be a complete waste of money that won't even pay off the lols they are hoping for.

It looks like EPH won't be the magic bullet we had hoped for in that respect. But EPH + 4/6 (which also passed last year) together are better than the current system, and will keep slates - ANY slates - from being able to completely dominate all of the categories. But with the low number of nominations in some categories, slates will still be effective.

That is: without active involvement from fandom, it won't do any good. If people give up on the Hugos, they surrender to the slates. 

And it's worth noting that these are anti-slate measures, not anti-Puppy measures.  This year, it's the Rabid Puppies. Next year, it might be the Romance Writers of America who decide that they want a Hugo for one of their writers (the World Science Fiction Society constitution says that science fiction and fantasy works are eligible, but doesn't define either term so far as I can tell).

So for now, at least, the Hugos are (for me) a lesson in involvement. In order to keep the Hugos from sinking, I'm voting and keeping my friends as informed as I can. Some of my friends have registered to vote, too. And I'm harassing them - not "Vote this way!" but "Vote! Even if I disagree with your vote!"

I have more rant stored up, but if you made it this far, you've probably already wasted twenty or so minutes reading my ranting and rambling, so I'll save it for social media.

Next week? Games. We will discuss games. I'm not sure which ones, yet, because it depends on whether certain things have shipped and/or arrived, yet. So we'll see.


  1. I actually really like this post, because the "fun vs. good" concept is really one that not enough people distinguish. I like your diagram, too. Of course, fun is always subjective, so I feel that if you can't back up a selection with some sort of merit, the mere fact that you enjoy it really does nothing for other people, so that choice should probably be off the table.

    - Serena

  2. I, too, think the good vs. fun dichotomy hits the mark. The argument from the Sad Puppies last year and the year before was that the books winning weren't rollicking fun adventures. And that's good. I don't want rollicking fun adventures to win. I want books that explore worlds and conditions truly unlike our own to win -- books like The Demolished Man, which is still amazing 60 years later, and like Ancillary Justice, which is amazing in the same way.