Hugo Reaction

Posted: April 29, 2014 in Editorial Tags: Hugo Awards

So I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the Hugo Award nominations this year. I’ve been thinking about it all since I was notified of the nomination, and I honestly still don’t know how to feel. Mostly. Kinda.

Let’s start with the basics. Here are Elitist Book Reviews, we are nominated for our second straight Hugo Award for Best Fanzine! This is completely awesome, and not something I ever thought possible. When I started EBR with a good friend, I just wanted to write reviews for novels. I wanted to recommend the books I loved to everyone. EBR was my outlet for that love of fiction in all forms.

So I want to thank everyone who nominated us. All of us here at EBR put in a tremendous amount of work to make sure this little review blog stays active. Each reviewer here has stepped up when things have gotten rough for the others. That’s who we are. Again, thank you, each and every one of you who nominated Elitist Book Reviews. The nomination is something that gives us great pride in our work, yet also amazes us and humbles us.

So what’s the competition like? What are our chances? Well, as to the first question, the competition is fabulous. Just look at this list:

The Book Smugglers
A Dribble of Ink
Journey Planet

Seriously, just go look at their sites. They each do different things, and they are each terrific. The great thing is that these are some of the sites that I’ve enjoyed visiting over the past several years, and I love the… newness, I suppose?… of the Fanzine category. I love that there will be a completely new winner. I imagine that winner will be The Book Smugglers or Pornokitsch in some sort of crushing victory that will leave our jaws on the floor. That said, anyone in the category would be just fine by me. They are all top-rate people based on my limited experiences with them.

As for the rest of the nominations? I’d say they are certainly varied, and some come with a measure of drama. I hadn’t heard of Vox Day before hand, and I’m not thrilled (to put it mildly) by some of his antics and views. However, I was pleased to see many of my nominations pass through. Here are some of my favorites:

Speculative Fiction 2012: The Best Online Reviews, Essays and Commentary, by Justin Landon & Jared Shurin (Jurassic London) in Best Related Work.

The Best Professional Artist category is just killer this year. Seriously, look it up. Good grief. It’s stunning work.

The Butcher of Khardov by Dan Wells. I love Dan’s writing. He’s one of my favorite Horror authors. But his story for Privateer Press is something different. Much like how I though Brandon Sanderson’s novella last year was the finest piece of fiction he’d produced, I kinda feel the same about this bit from Dan Wells. I haven’t personally reviewed it because I’m under contract with the same company. Conflict of interests on a professional level, but I can still say it’s freaking amazing.

Fan writer has some awesome people in it. Kameron Hurley is terrific (both in fiction and non, as this award is for the latter), and Mark Oshiro is awesome (had a panel with him in San Antonio, and he has tremendous insight and such a different viewpoint on life).

Both Long- and Short-Form Editors have several of my nominations on them.

The John W. Campbell Award has me very excited. While I’m sad Brian McClellan isn’t on there, seeing both Max Gladstone (high-five, man!) and Wesley Chu on there made be want to fist-pump in the air.

If I didn’t mention a person by name, it doesn’t mean I hate that person or anything. Life tends to get a bit busy if you are the Finance Manager for a Department of Defense Contractor, so I admit to not knowing everything or everyone this year. This does, however, lead me into my next bit of commentary.

Do you want to know how I determine who I vote for? It’s a super-involved process. Highly secret. Spies try to get it from me on a regular basis. Serious business, and all that. Here it is:

I read it all. I look at it all. Listen to it all. Whatever the case may be. Then, whichever thing I like the best gets my vote. There has been all sorts of controversy lately with voting and people’s politics and who they know and who nominated them and blah blah blah.

I care about the work.

This isn’t just about the Hugos, but in general, if your work bores me, I say I don’t like it. If I had fun while reading it, or felt edified, or thought it was the best thing since a root beer float with cookies n’ creme ice cream, then I say I like it. Doesn’t really matter much to me whether I like you as a person or not. Or whether I agree with you or not. I can read and love China Miéville, Joe Lansdale, Larry Correia, Sarah Pinborough, Dan Wells, Steven Erikson, Mark Lawrence, Marie Brennan, Brandon Sanderson and Robert McCammon. I can also dislike anything those same people write that just doesn’t do it for me. Why?

I care about the work.

Seriously, look though EBR’s archive of reviews. Do I look like I give a crap about anything other than a good read? Look at the reviews by my amazing reviewers. Last I checked, they want to be entertained. Doesn’t matter how authors and artists go about it. Have you seen me on panels at conventions? I’m mostly there trying not to sound like an idiot when I’m along side  awesome folks like Joe Haldeman or Joshua Bilmes or L.E. Modesitt. I’m there to share my love of what I do.

So you know what? I’m gonna read the nominated works in all the categories. Then I’ll decide for my own personal ballot. And I’ll prolly post it here on EBR. Because why not?

Remember, EBR was made as an outlet for this ex-bookstore guy to channel his love for books. I brought on reviewers who held that same excitement. The excitement for the works these wonderful and varied artists produce.

So, excuse me while I go about geeking out about the nomination, and the terrific company EBR is in on the ballot.

I’ve got some books to read.


  • Stephen Shook says:

    Well said, and Congratulations on the much deserved nomination.

  • Victoria Richards says:


  • Scott says:

    I read bubblegum wrappers when there is nothing else to read, so that should tell you that I read EVERYTHING! I vote based on what I like, not on any political agenda. Thank you for your honesty.

  • Max Gladstone says:

    Hi Steve—Good thoughts here on the 2014 Hugos, and thanks for your kind words and support! However, and at risk of opening a tense conversation, I'd like to probe further into an issue which has been troubling me, and which you touch on above: were you aware that Theodore Beale, aka Vox Day, supported the slate on which Elitist Book Reviews was included? The guy called NK Jemisin a “half-savage”. His blog is regularly and unapologetically racist and misogynist. Would you care to comment on his views or his support for the slate?

    • Max –

      (My response got a little long, so here it is in two parts)
      Part 1:

      Huh. I had no idea until you brought it up that this Beale guy and Vox Day were the same person. As you can see up in the body of my post, I hadn’t even heard of Vox Day before the Hugo Nominations were announced. I had no clue he had recommended me for anything. The short answer is no, I didn’t know this guy pushed me. While he can vote for who he wants, I personally don’t support his views.

      Now, I knew I was being pushed by Larry Correia. And I’m pretty thrilled that Larry likes my blog enough to nominate it—it’s no secret that Larry and I are friends, in fact I’d say he’s one of my better friends in this life. I’m glad he nominated me. I'm glad his fans seem to like EBR. I’m also super thrilled that I was on a nomination push with guys like Dan Wells & Vincent Chong. And Writing Excuses. I’m also super pleased that that same list has Toni Weisskopf (I’ve worked very briefly with her, and was super impressed).

      First, let me say this: I don’t really like politics. I’m not really a confrontational person. I’d much rather sit around and chat about things that are awesome rather than find reasons to argue about everything under the sun.

      That said, your question, Max, kinda hit me in the face. Not because it seems inappropriate. It seems a very fair question indeed. No, it hit me because I had to wonder how many people HADN’T asked the question and just assumed I was a horrible person. And that the staff here at EBR is full of horrible people.

      When everything went down with the nominations those many moons ago, I looked up this Vox Day character. I wasn’t super thrilled. While I believe people say stupid things on the internet all the time, and in the heat of arguments even worse things are said, I still think we are each responsible for our own actions and words. Some of those actions Day/Beale took and things he said really do bother me. I’m not going to pretend that I scoured the internet in search of everything he said, or that I read into every exchange it see if there was fault on both sides. I just don’t like surrounding myself with that kind of negativity. My life is stressful enough. So no, I don’t care for Beale’s/Day’s comments. I never support comments and views of racism and misogyny.

      I usually don’t pull the curtain back on my personal beliefs—because there isn’t a whole lot of tolerance these days—but I’ll give you the rundown. Essentially, I come to the old scripture, “By their fruits ye shall know them.”

      To be Continued…

    • Part 2:

      Why I Don’t Support Racism: Because it sucks. Once upon a time, I lived in Mexico. I was there for a year doing religious stuff. I’m a religious person. While I was there I experienced racism first hand, directly squarely at me. Because I was a white dude in a place that wasn’t totally fond of white dudes. People can laugh this off and dismiss it because it’s “impossible” for racism to apply to a white kid. Whatever. People who were in positions of authority above me went out of their way to make me feel unimportant due to my heritage. I was a 19 year-old kid at the time. Do you know how true racism feels when it’s directed at you? Horrible. It isn’t just that it’s unfair. It isn’t just that others are treated better than you for the color of their skin. It’s the self-doubt that wiggles its way into your mind. If you are told you are worthless and useless enough times, especially when you are just a kid living in a foreign county, you start to wonder if it isn’t, in fact, true. Your self-esteem starts dipping. You become harder on yourself than you should be. You get angry at the world, but also at yourself. It’s insidious. People can laugh off racist comments as if they were a joke or said in the heat of the moment. Well too bad. The words were said. I also don’t think that responding with hatred back towards those that have been vile towards you makes anything better.

      So no. After just a year (and plenty of people have been subjected to it for far longer than I) of being subjected to racism, I have no pity or support to give people who make racist comments.

      Why I Don’t Support Misogyny: Because I’m a husband and a father. My wife and kids are the best things in my life. I believe that women have the right and capacity to be and do whatever they want. I complain about my work day sometimes, and then I come home to a wife that has worked 10 times as hard as I have to make sure our kids grow up to be people the world can be proud of. If I supported the kind of thinking that this Vox Day seems to support, my wife would have shot me a long time ago. I have a little girl. I want her to grow up in a world where she can make her own choices. I want her to be free of the hatred and the opinions that women aren’t strong and amazing individuals.

      So no. Being a father to my little angel of a daughter and a husband to my amazing wife has made it so I have no pity or support to give to people who make misogynistic comments.

      Does that answer the question, Max? I sincerely hope so. A simple “No” might have sufficed, but I felt you deserved a longer answer. I’m grateful that I’m nominated for a Hugo Award again this year. I’m grateful that my friends think enough of EBR and my reviewers here to nominate us. I don’t need, or want, to agree on everything with everyone. Variety keeps us all honest. But I don’t support hate of any kind, regardless of your political leaning or religious persuasion.

      These are my views and opinions. They don’t necessarily encompass those of my fellow reviewers in exactness, but I know them all personally, and I know that none of them support racism or misogyny. Or I would have fired them. Period.

      So yeah. There you have it. The end.

      • Max Gladstone says:

        Thank you so much for that reply, Steve. I appreciate your clarity and frankness, especially when confronted with a challenge in the face of which I'd understand if you felt defensive. I'm sorry for the punch-in-the-face feeling, but I'm glad to have my own confusion as to the nature of the situation resolved. Again, thank you, and good luck.

        • Vanessa says:

          I can vouch for Steve's lack of misogyny. He's supported everything I've done here at EBR. And he's pretty awesome in real life. But you already knew that 😉 I also happen to agree with what he says here.

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