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Ken Burnside Tells the Hugo Story from the Inside

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015 | Posted by Jay Maynard

The Hot Equations by Ken Burnside-smallKen Burnside is a game designer and publisher, best known for Attack Vector: Tactical and Squadron Strike! He contributed an article to Vox Day’s anthology Riding the Red Horse, titled “The Hot Equations,” laying out in understandable terms what the laws of thermodynamics mean in terms of SF in general and space combat in particular. He was nominated for a Hugo for Best Related Work, and… well…

He describes the experience in his own words:

I signed up for the Sad Puppy list because I was told it was about getting representation for conservative and libertarian leaning storytellers in the Hugo nomination process. The request came in when a book I was published in was in its initial 90-day release window, and it counted as promoting the title. More exposure means more sales, and I was (and always am) looking for new readers…

Throughout this, the things that made me a Puppy in the first place was buried in a malodorous pile of feces. They were buried by partisans on both sides, not just the Anti-Puppies. In Kary English’s blog, I paraphrased Anita Sarkeesian: “In the game of Hugo Awards, the Puppy nominees aren’t the opposition. They’re the ball…”

Eventually, tired of being browbeaten and told what an awful human being I was, I just retreated to “Read the works. Vote your conscience. In that order.”

Combined with shunning, my “OK, this is going to be a disaster…” sense was past tingling, into throbbing and really should just be called mordant curiosity. Only after I was seen talking to Tananarive Due did anyone outside the small representation of “Puppies” at the convention consent to talk to me, mostly in the shadows of the reception, where nobody else could see.

It’s a very good description of what it was like to be associated with the Puppies, and in particular how he was treated by anti-Puppy folks at Worldcon. Read the whole thing over at the Mad Genius Club blog.

Foo 3 Comments »

  1. I enjoyed one of his panels at the con that he did with Jennifer Brozek and it was the two of them that I pictured as the no award cheering erupted around me. I’m very glad he name checks a few anti puppies such as Kurt Busiek that were not acting peevishly towards him.
    I hope over the course the next year this community can do better, and let the screeching flamewar inciters burn themselves out.

    Comment by Calven - September 1, 2015 6:28 pm

  2. Jay, I think that pretty much confirms everything that Larry Correia said about the Hugos. I think Burnside is probably accurate in his numbers that Fandom is probably close to 450 million in number while the Hugo award is decided by a mere 2-10 thousand people. Worldcon is liberal in leaning, highly insular, and xenophobic. I think the curtain has been ripped off the Wizard of Oz myth that it is an award that represents all of fandom. It is a club and for $40 you can be a part of supporting a bunch of elitists but don’t even think about being one of them. Is it worth $40 to support that kind of abuse? I kinda feel like an enabler to their cruelty. You heard what Burnside said–death threats, insults, smears, and such. That is on Worldcon’s doorstep. They turned that show into a hostile environment. They did not stand against the newspapers that smeared the Puppy leaders. They smuggly encouraged the jeering and the nastiness. That has to stop. That has to be checked.

    Comment by Wild Ape - September 1, 2015 8:29 pm

  3. I read through Burnside’s piece. It’s probably the best writing on the Hugos fracas I’ve read anywhere. The pieces that Jay excerpted are maybe the least interesting and representative paragraphs in his very long post; they make it sound like Burnside had a terrible time and everyone hated him, which isn’t at all the impression from the full article. Regardless, thanks for linking it. His point about new members who hadn’t read the nominees voting No Award, and the ramifications of that is probably the most salient point I’ve seen made anywhere against the anti-Puppy crowd. (And I’m an anti-Puppy sympathizer, though as a fan, I certainly don’t use the Hugos as a recommended reading list.)

    Comment by Matt W - September 2, 2015 11:41 am

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