George Martin, Hugo commentator

Old Rape Rape prognosticates and explains why the Campbell should predict the course of the Hugo Awards evening:

If Wesley Chu takes the Campbell, as he should, I think we will be in for a fairly reasonable night in Spokane. There will be some winners from the slates, and some categories will go the No Award, but most of the rockets will actually go to deserving work. If Chu wins, I think the vast majority of the fans in the auditorium will be more happy than not by night’s end.

If No Award wins, however… if No Award takes the Campbell, it will represent a huge and ominous victory for the “nuclear option,” for the faction of fandom that wants to destroy the village in order to save it. A victory by No Award in this category will signify that the voters decided to throw the baby out with the bathwater, and will likely betoken a long ugly night ahead, with category after category going to No Award. Myself, I think this unlikely. I think the hardcore “vote No Award on everything” voters are a small (if noisy) minority. But I could be wrong. It could happen.

And what if one of the four Puppy finalists takes the tiara?

That would represent a victory for the Puppies, certainly. But even there, certain distinctions should be made. Rolf Nelson was a candidate of the Rabids, but not the Sads. A victory by Nelson would be a singular triumph for Teddy Beale and the most extreme elements of Puppydom… and could suggest even worse results ahead, up to and including VD actually winning one or both of the Editing Hugos for which he is nominated.

Kary English, on the other hand, represents a much more moderate side of Puppydom. Though initially put forward by both the Sad and Rabid slates, VD later dropped her and removed her from his suggested ballot entirely when English put up a couple of blog posts that distanced herself from the Puppy party line. English is also a Hugo nominee this year, for her story “Totalled.” She’s the strongest writer of the four Puppy finalists, and in any normal year would be Wesley Chu’s toughest competition. This year? She could well finish last, since some trufans will not forgive her for being part of the slates to begin with, and the Rabids will not forgive her for breaking ranks. Myself, I think English deserves better. While I don’t think she is as good as Chu at present, she is plainly a talented new writer, and not unworthy of a Campbell nod. I would prefer a Chu victory in this category… but I’d rather see English take the tiara than No Award.

Oh, and while we are crunching candidates here, Eric S. Raymond warrants a few words. A candidate of both the Sad and Rabid slates, Raymond was nominated as one of the field’s best new writers on the basis of a single published story, the thinnest resume in the entire history of the Campbell Award. Maybe if that story was the greatest short ever published in our genre, that would be warranted… but it’s not. Even Raymond himself expressed incredulity at his nomination. Given how little SF he has produced compared to Chu and the other finalists, one might think that Raymond would be the longest of long shots. Ah, but there’s another factor. However much a neophyte he may be as a writer of science fiction, Eric S. Raymond is a well-known figure is the gaming world. Should Raymond win the Campbell, despite his shaky credentials as a writer of fiction, it would suggest strongly that large numbers of gamers had purchased supporting membership to vote for him. (Whether those gamers were Gamergaters is another question entirely, and one that cannot be proved. So far as I know, Raymond has not been a part of the Gamergate controversy).

Seems reasonable enough to me, although he left off the fact that I had ESR first on my recommended shortlist, not Nelson, which would even more strongly indicate that things were heading in a Puppy direction. And, of course, ESR is not famous in the game world, but in the general computer world, the open source community in particular.

My personal expectation is that Chu will take it, but that it will mean rather less than Martin is assuming. Of course, the Puppies outperformed in the nominations and the most logical take on the new voters is that they are, in fact, new voters from outside the Worldcon community, especially since so many voted after July 24th. But however it turns out, we’ll be celebrating the historic exploit that was Puppies 2015.