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I’m late in getting my analysis up about the Hugo nominees, so I have the advantage of seeing other folks’ commentary. Somehow I’m getting the feeling that Vox Day is going to win this fight—the opposition is reconsidering their stance for a number of reasons.

First, Day has escalated his attack on the Hugo Awards. Second, his recommendations this year were put together to undermine the No Award strategy that shut out the Rabid Puppies in 2015. Here’s how it works: He has pretty clearly listed the unsuitable material as an attack on the reputation of the institution. That done, he has also included nominations of quality work in each category that will cause voters to question the No-Award-slash-and-burn strategy of last year. This will most clearly play out in the Best Short Story category, for example, where the only competition for the brilliant “Asymmetrical Warfare” is mostly attack fiction and porn. If voters choose No Award above this story, then they’re voting against a high quality contender who has no relation to the Puppies except his name on their list of recommendations.

Besides this, I’ve had a look at the math geeks’ opinions. You can read the analyses at both Rocket Stack Rank and Chaos Horizon. These analyses use different methods to estimate the size of the Rabid Puppies voting bloc. RSR’s method seems to be more precise than Chaos Horizon’s, but they come in with fairly similar numbers. What’s most interesting about this is that the guys at RSR have done an analysis of how it would have gone under the new E Pluribus Hugo nomination system that’s proposed to cut out slate voting for next year. According to RSR, the size of Vox Day’s voting bloc will still have a strong influence.

This is an important point. Commenters have a tendency to carry on like Vox Day is alone in this fight and that he’ll get tired and give it up soon. However, as I understand things, he’s actually just the main strategist for the activist group called the Rabid Puppies. According to the recent estimates, there are 200-500 dedicated Rabid Puppy voters, which would be about 20-50% of the SFWA (if we made that comparison), or about 2-5% of last year’s WorldCon membership. This is without adding the possible votes from the Sad Puppies, who have a similar activist agenda.

So what conclusions should we draw from this? First, Vox Day isn’t going to get tired of this. Second, there is a strong conservative element in the SFF community. Third, the major SF awards can be easily gamed, and fourth, we should probably take a second look at the Puppies’ claims that the awards have been subtly coopted by other groups.

P.S. The announcement today about the addition of “Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer to the Best Short Story finalists will change the dynamic.

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