Electoral College Maps

This is what I hope will happen:

Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

This is my prediction for what I think will happen:

Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com
Of course, in 2008 I underestimated the Democrat’s victory margin in the Electoral College. I did so again in 2012, although by less. Maybe I’m overcompensating this time.

Why Evan McMullin winning Utah does not help Hillary Clinton become President

I’ve seen a lot of people claiming that Evan McMullin winning Utah just helps Hillary Clinton get elected.

That is false, and I’m going to explain why.

First, McMullin winning Utah makes a difference in who is elected President in only one circumstance: if neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump manages to get to 270 electoral college votes. It’s highly unlikely that will happen, but it is possible. Fivethirtyeight.com’s model currently puts the chances of a deadlock at 0.5%, and the probability of Utah being a tipping-point state at 0.1%.

But let’s assume that it happens: McMullin wins Utah’s 6 electoral college votes and is in third place in the electoral college. That means the U.S. House of Representatives gets to choose the president from among the top three electoral-vote recipients: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Evan McMullin.

However, under the Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution, in the House each state gets one vote, and 26 votes are needed to choose the new President. That means Wyoming has just as much weight as California in the voting.

Currently, the Democrats control 14 House delegations. Three are split evenly between Republicans and Democrats. And Republicans control 33 delegations. Those number may change a little after the election, but unless there’s a wave of support for Democrats (which would mean a Clinton victory in the electoral college anyway, so it would never have gotten to the House) the Republicans will control a significant majority of the House delegations, and the Democrats will be several states short of the 26 needed.

Now, here’s the point where people who know enough to get this far tend to make their big mistake: “But the Democrats will be united behind Clinton, while the Republicans will be split between Trump and McMullin. That will allow Clinton to pick up the extra states she needs.”

Here’s the reason that won’t happen: the Republicans will get to write the rules about what determines whether a state is voting for a particular candidate. Because they are not completely stupid, and because they hate Clinton, they will write the rules so that it requires a majority of a state delegation to vote for one candidate, or else the state’s vote isn’t counted. So, if the Republicans in a state they control are divided between Trump and McMullin, Clinton doesn’t get that state’s vote.

Therefore, it is politically impossible for Clinton to be elected by the House.

So, even in the extremely unlikely event that McMullin wins Utah and blocks the other candidates from getting an electoral college majority, it does not help Clinton get elected.

Why I’m switching from Johnson to McMullin for President

Forty days ago, I explained why I would be voting for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for President. Now, I’m going to explain why I’ve changed my mind.

On the issues, ISideWith.com shows I agree with McMullin (97%) about the same percentage as I do with Johnson (96%). I still think Johnson’s experience counts in his favor, but at this point it’s become clear that he’s not going to be competitive in Utah. He’s actually fallen in the polls over the past month. Meanwhile, McMullin is doing far better than I expected, with the latest poll putting him in second place, just 1% behind Trump (and 1% ahead of Clinton).

Now, it’s possible to envision an elaborate scenario in which McMullin wins Utah, neither Trump nor Clinton get 270 electoral college votes, and McMullin is chosen as president by the House of Representatives. The political science major in me would love to see that happen.

Realistically, though, there’s currently about an 85% chance Hillary Clinton will win the election. Nothing that happens in Utah, including a McMullin victory, is likely to make a difference to the outcome of this election.

But a McMullin victory would send a clear message to the Republican Party that Donald Trump was an unacceptable candidate, and hopefully the party will get the message and implement changes to their nomination process in order to avoid a repeat of this year’s fiasco.

Why I’m voting Gary Johnson for President

UPDATE 10/17/2016: I have since switched to supporting Evan McMullin, as outlined in this blog post.

Over the past month and a half since resigning as precinct secretary/treasurer for my local Republican Party because I oppose Trump, I’ve done some serious thinking about who I will vote for.

After going to the Gary Johnson rally a few weeks ago, I was ready to commit to him as my candidate, but then Evan McMullin announced his candidacy the Monday after, and I felt I should give him a chance. But I’ve decided that McMullin really isn’t experienced enough, he started too late, and he doesn’t have the resources necessary to make a real impact in this campaign. (He managed to hit 9% in a Utah poll, compared to Johnson’s 12%, but isn’t even getting 1% nationwide even when the poll lists him as a candidate. And the anti-Trump super-PAC that was supposedly going to help him get on the ballot is shutting down.)

Yes, there are some important issues on which I have some differences with Johnson. In some cases, I’m actually more libertarian than he is. But I side with him on a lot of issues and he’s proven his competence to govern. (On ISideWith.com, Johnson sides with me 80%, which is the best of any of the remaining candidates.)

So I’ve decided to support Johnson. If he can get in the debates, I think he might be able to win some electoral college votes, and there’s a slim chance he could deny both other candidates an Electoral College majority. (Fivethirtyeight.com’s projections currently say about a 0.5% chance.) The recently published Washington Post/SurveyMonkey poll of every state found Johnson at 23% in Utah, to Clinton’s 27% and Trump’s 34%, so there may be an opportunity for Johnson in my state (although the poll didn’t include McMullin, so his impact is uncertain).

Now, to deal with some objections:

    1. But a vote for Johnson is a vote for Clinton! (Or: But a vote for Johnson is a vote for Trump!)
      No, it’s not. Let’s imagine Clinton and Trump are tied, and I get to choose who I vote for. If a vote for Johnson were equivalent to a vote for Clinton, then my voting would break the tie in Clinton’s favor. But it doesn’t break the tie. It has exactly the same effect on a tie that not voting at all would have. Which means that, from the perspective of those who claim that a vote for Johnson is a vote for Clinton, everyone who doesn’t vote is equivalent to a vote for Clinton. And since about 40% of Utah’s voting-age population doesn’t vote, all of them should count as votes for Clinton. Added to the about 25% who will actually vote for her, that gives Clinton about 65% of the vote. Trump might as well give up now. (Substitute Trump for Clinton in the above and adjust the numbers, and the same argument applies.)
    2. OK, but if you don’t vote for Trump, Clinton might win! (Or: If you don’t vote for Clinton, Trump might win!)
      Well, if you don’t vote for Johnson, Trump or Clinton might win!
    3. But Trump says he’ll implement [policy that I like]!
      I feel sorry for you because you think Trump can be trusted.
    4. But Johnson can’t win!
      It is highly unlikely. But it is possible. However, voting is not always about winning. If it were, then there would be no point in voting for candidates who are way down in the polls. Right now, I think the Republican Party (and the Democratic Party, for that matter) need to be sent the message that when it comes to candidates, they chose . . . poorly. I think voting for Gary Johnson is the best way to send that message.
    5. But Johnson isn’t a conservative!
      No, he’s not. But he’s generally in favor of limited government and fiscal responsibility, and against crony capitalism, all of which are relatively conservative positions — especially compared to Trump and Clinton.
    6. But what about the Supreme Court?
      This. And this.
    7. But Johnson is pro-abortion!
      Johnson believes Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided, and that the issue of abortion should be left to the states. I believe he’s correct as to how the Constitution should be interpreted.
    8. But Johnson smokes marijuana!
      He’s stopped for the campaign, and he’s promised not to smoke it if elected President. Besides, it’s been a while now since I decided the War on Drugs has been a failure, with costs and unintended consequences that far exceed any benefits. I favor decriminalizing drugs and dealing with drug addiction as a public health problem, not a criminal matter.

I’m sure some people will have other objections, but I think that covers most of them.

If you are enthusiastic about voting for Trump or Clinton, then I doubt I can say anything to persuade you to vote for Johnson. But if you’re looking at the choice of Trump or Clinton with distaste, then I suggest you give serious consideration to Johnson.

One Drop

The 1880 U.S. Census recorded a John Oberlander living in Fon du Lac, Wisconsin. His wife is listed as Isabella Oberlander, a white female, age 30.

Isabella’s maiden name was Jones, and in the 1870 census she was recorded as a mulatto female, age 20.

Isabella was my great-great-grandmother. My family did not know about these census records until less than 10 years ago, and we were not certain to what extent they were reliable. But a few years ago I had my genes sequenced at 23andme.com, and it showed I had 1.7% Sub-Saharan African ancestry. That would correspond to my being about 1/64 black, and Isabella being about 1/4 black — which is presumably what enabled her to pass as white.

Through much of the 20th Century, some states classified people as black or white using the “one-drop rule“: if you had any black ancestry, you were considered black. The Supreme Court finally struck down those racial classification laws in Loving v. Virginia, the case that legalized interracial marriage nationwide. That case was decided on June 12, 1967 — about three months after I was born. So, for a brief part of my life, in some states, I would have been legally classified as black.

At the time I was born, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which I am a member, did not allow anyone with any black ancestry to be ordained to the priesthood. Fortunately, that was changed by Official Declaration 2, on September 30, 1978 — about six months before I was old enough to be ordained a deacon.

Of course, since my great-great-grandmother Isabella passed as white and did not let her descendants know of her black ancestry, no one would have known I was legally black in some states or that I could not be ordained to the priesthood in the LDS Church. It wasn’t until my DNA test in 2013 that I knew for sure. However, that knowledge has certainly made the issues of slavery, racial segregation, and the priesthood ban for blacks feel a lot more personal to me.

Legally, the question of how much black ancestry is required for someone to claim to be black appears to be open. The U.S. Census Bureau allows you to self-identify your race.

However, because I look white and was brought up as white, I don’t feel like I really have any right to identify myself as black on the basis of 1/64 ancestry.  So you probably won’t see me on any lists of black science fiction authors. (It’s different when it comes to identifying as Hispanic, because I did spend a significant portion of my childhood in Latin America, I was brought up bilingual in Spanish and English, and I knew my father was born and raised in Argentina.)




Earlier this year, I was elected to the position of voting precinct secretary/treasurer for my local Republican Party. I have worked and volunteered for Republican candidates over the years, but this was the first time I was elected to a party position.

I have considered myself a Republican from the earliest time I can remember knowing about the existence of political parties. In 1976, when I was in fourth grade, I supported Gerald Ford over Jimmy Carter when my class voted on who we wanted as President. (Ford won in my class.)

I regret I was only 17 in November 1984, so I didn’t have a chance to vote to re-elect Ronald Reagan. In 1988 and 1992, I voted for George Bush. In 1996, I voted for Bob Dole. In 2000 and 2004, I voted for George W. Bush. In 2008, I voted for John McCain. In 2012, I voted for Mitt Romney.

None of those candidates perfectly aligned with my political views. All of them were flawed men, who made mistakes I wish they hadn’t made, did things I wish they hadn’t done, and said things I wish they hadn’t said. As someone who is generally conservative in outlook, I found most of them were not conservative enough for my taste. However, all those candidates were clearly qualified by experience and temperament to become President of the United States of America.

The Republican Party has now officially picked Donald Trump as its nominee.

Therefore, I have sent the following email to my voting precinct chair, cc-ing the chair, vice-chair, secretary, and treasurer of the Utah County Republican Party:

Dear Mike,

I was very pleased when you nominated me for the position of Secretary/Treasurer in the Orem 21 precinct, and I was glad to be elected by the caucus members. It has given me a chance to serve the party I have been loyal to all my life.

However, the Bylaws of the Utah County Republican Party specify that “All elected and appointed Party officers, including … all Voting Precinct Chairs, Vice-Chairs, Secretaries, Treasurers, and Committee Members…, upon assuming office, agree to: … [p]ublicly support only Republican candidates for partisan public office.”

Given that the Republican candidate for President is now officially Donald Trump, I find that I can no longer abide by that agreement. By nominating him, the Republican Party has chosen to take the wrong path, and I refuse to follow. I will be publicly supporting a presidential candidate of another party.

Therefore, I hereby resign the post of Voting Precinct Secretary/Treasurer for the Orem 21 precinct.

Eric Stone

For now, I have decided not to change my party affiliation on my voter registration, because I still think the state Republican Party is doing good things at the state level, and for the most part our Republican Congressional delegation is doing good things at the national level. However, if “Trumpism” spreads within Utah Republicans, then I will change my affiliation.

My Republican Party was a party that believed people should be treated as individuals, rather than ethnic blocs. But that’s not Trump’s Republican Party.

My Republican Party was a party that believed that a candidate’s character mattered. But that’s not Trump’s Republican Party.

My Republican Party was a party that believed in free trade. But that’s not Trump’s Republican Party.

My Republican Party was a party that believed in free speech and a free press. But that’s not Trump’s Republican Party.

Some of you may say I was naive. And I probably was. I thought most other Republicans thought as I did, that they held their political positions for the same rational reasons I did.  Trump’s successful campaign has proven I was wrong about that.

So, which presidential candidate of another party do I plan to support?

I cannot vote for Hillary Clinton. She is a prime example of the sort of crony corruption that is dragging our country down.

Right now, I’m leaning toward Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee. On ISideWith.com, he is the closest candidate to my personal political beliefs on the issues. As a two-term governor of New Mexico, he seems to have sufficient experience. He has his flaws, but I would not feel ashamed of myself if I vote for him. If you do not feel that you can support either Trump or Clinton, I suggest you look into Johnson.

Awards Reading Post

Edited to add: The story has just been named one of four short fiction nominees for the Association for Mormon Letters Awards.

If you’re nominating for awards, I have a short story that I’m quite proud of that is eligible this year: “An Immense Darkness“, which was published in the March 2015 issue of Analog Science Fiction & Fact.  Here’s what some reviewers have said about the story:

“An Immense Darkness” is the most intense five pages I’ve read in quite a while. . . . This is everything I want in science fiction.

Daniel Craig Friend, Troublemaking Editor [source]

Very interesting look at possible future ethics.

Sam Tomaino, SFRevu [source]

This [story] is timely, very much so.

–Lois Tilton, Locus [source]

A good, moving and thought provoking story.

–TPI’s Reading Diary [source]

I’m making “An Immense Darkness” available for free here. A free audio version is available on StarShipSofa.

Also, a quick note about eligibility for my novel Unforgettable: Baen’s ebook version was published in 2015, but the novel is not eligible for the Nebula or Hugo awards because I self-published an earlier version of the novel back in 2011.

The Minimum Advance: A Modest Proposal

Writing a novel takes many hours of work.  How many? Based on what Dean Koontz says, it takes him 6-12 months of working 10-11 hours for 22-25 days per month.  Let’s simplify and say 6 months * 220 hours per month = 1320 hours for a 100,000-word novel.  That’s 75 words per hour.  Now, you might think that’s very slow — some people can type more words than that in a minute — but remember that this includes time spent brainstorming, plotting, world-building, revising, proof-reading, etc.

By way of comparison, the Microsoft Word stats for an early draft of Unforgettable show I spent 22,524 minutes on it — 375.4 hours.  Since the draft was 67,682 words, that means I wrote 180 words per hour to produce that draft.  It needed a lot of work after that to get it into publishable shape, so I think overall I averaged significantly lower.  So I think that the Dean Koontz rate of 75 words per hour is reasonable.  For ease of calculation, let’s round it up to 100 words per hour.

So a 100,000-word novel would take 1000 hours of work. The U.S. minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. (All my liberal friends think that minimum is far too low because it’s not a living wage, but it’s the current standard.)  At minimum wage, a novelist should be paid $7250 for a 100,000-word novel.  That’s 7.25 cents per word.

I propose we pass a law setting 7.25 cents per word as the minimum advance for a novel.  That would apply to all publishers, including Amazon.com.  Of course, since Amazon doesn’t always have exclusive rights, it may be unfair to require them to pay that full amount. Therefore, if the author is allowing their book to be published on multiple platforms, let’s allow the total amount of all the advances from the different platforms to count toward the minimum.  As long as the advances from Kindle, Nook, iTunes, Google Play, and Kobo add up to 7.25 cents per word, then they can publish the novel.  Publishing a novel without paying the minimum advance would be illegal.

If my proposal is adopted, then the lowest-paid author will at least make as much per hour as a burger-flipper at a fast-food restaurant.

Of course, my conservative friends will oppose my proposal, and they’ll drone on about supply and demand and economics and such. You know how dreary conservatives are. They’ll claim it will destroy small presses, ruin the indie publishing model, reduce the chances of less-known authors getting their novels published, yadda-yadda-yadda.

But I expect my liberal friends to embrace my proposal, and even to demand that the minimum advance be raised to 15 cents per word.  I’m already looking forward to spending the $21,450 advance I’ll get when I upload my epic fantasy novel to the Kindle store.



Ruminations on Nominations

The Hugo Award nominations are out, and once again there’s controversy over who made the ballot and who did not. Here are some of my thoughts:

  1. Time Machine: If I ever get access to a time machine, one thing I’ll do is go back to 2012 and try to convince everyone to nominate The Martian by Andy Weir for a Hugo Award. It’s almost a crime that it does not have a Hugo nomination. It’s the best science fiction novel I’ve read in several years, and it’s really too bad that the version Crown Publishing put out last year was ineligible due to the self-published version in 2011. (And I’ve never found a satisfactory explanation as to why John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War was eligible in 2006 after he self-published it on his blog in 2002. I originally wrote that sentence before John Scalzi posted an explanation. I don’t find the explanation entirely satisfactory, since it boils down to nobody at the time thinking that serializing the story on his blog was a form of publication, but I felt I should link to it.)  Anyway, I deliberately nominated The Martian this year even though I knew it was ineligible, just because I thought it deserved a nomination. Maybe the Sasquan convention can give Andy Weir a Special Committee Award.
  2. Disappointment: Of the eligible novels this year, I’m quite disappointed that Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson, The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin (translated by Ken Liu) [When I originally wrote this paragraph, the novel was not on the ballot. But one of the nominees withdrew and it got added.], and Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal did not make the ballot.  I’m also disappointed that Monster Hunter: Nemesis by Larry Correia is not on the ballot, although I understand his reasons for not accepting the novel’s nomination. I enjoyed all of those books immensely. In short fiction, I was most disappointed that Eugie Foster’s beautiful final story, “When It Ends, He Catches Her“, did not make the ballot.  I’m also disappointed that Jonathan Laden and Michelle Barasso, who have been doing great work as the editors of Daily Science Fiction, did not get nominated for Best Editor, Short Form.
  3. IGMS: I relinquished my position as an assistant editor at Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show at the beginning of this year, in order to concentrate on my own work.  But I’m thrilled to see that Gray Rhinehart’s novelette “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium” garnered the first Hugo nomination for an IGMS story. Nor was that the only IGMS-related nomination: Edmund Schubert got nominated in the Best Editor, Short Form category.  And artist Nick Greenwood, who beautifully illustrated my IGMS stories “The Robot Sorcerer”, “Accounting for Dragons”, and “Write What You Want”, and many stories by other authors, got nominated in the Best Professional Artist category.
  4. Huzzahs: I was very happy for all my other friends and acquaintances who got nominated.

With those out of the way, let me move on to the dragon in the room: Politics.

  1. Puppies: There were two mostly overlapping slates of nominees put out by people towards the right wing of the U.S. political spectrum: the Sad Puppies 3 Slate and the Rabid Puppies Slate. The former was organized by my friend Brad Torgersen (and heavily promoted by my friend Larry Correia, who originated the Sad Puppies concept a couple of years ago.) The latter was put together by Vox Day, whom I consider neither friend nor acquaintance.  I’m generally considered a conservative Republican, and when I say that Vox Day is on the right wing, what I mean is that from my perspective he’s so far out on the right wing I think he’s actually on a completely different plane, headed to Crazyland.  But he’s got a lot of fans for his particular brand of crazy, so I guess that works for him. The Rabid Puppies Slate mostly mirrored the Sad Puppies 3 Slate, but it notably added several works by John C. Wright and added Vox Day himself in the editor categories.
  2. Intentions: Basically, the intentions of Brad and Larry boil down to this: they saw nominees in the past few years that they didn’t particularly like, and so they wanted to promote works and people they did like. Larry and Brad have talked about conspiracies behind the scenes to get certain politically favored authors onto the ballot, etc., but it still boils down to the same thing: wanting more nominees they like, and fewer nominees they don’t. That sentiment is not unique to them. It’s certainly what EVERY SINGLE PERSON WHO HAS COMPLAINED ABOUT THE NOMINEES THIS YEAR IS THINKING.
  3. Blocs: Personally, I think creating a (nearly) full Hugo slate for Sad Puppies was a mistake.  I’m sure there were many readers who did their best to read the works on the slate and pick the ones they liked to nominate, rather than just blindly vote for what was on the slate.  In fact, the variation in the number of nomination votes between the various Puppy nominees strongly supports that idea. For example, in the Best Related Work category, in which all the nominees were on both the Puppy slates, there was a variation of 67 (273-206) between the highest and lowest number of nominations. However, it’s fairly clear that there were a large group of voters, probably around 200, who mostly voted as two mostly overlapping voting blocs.  Where the blocs conflicted, the Rabid Puppies nominees won, so their bloc seems to have been larger.  Unfortunately, bloc voting in the Hugo nominations can be very powerful, because it concentrates votes on a few nominees, while normal nomination votes are spread out over a much larger set of eligible works or people. In this case, the combined Puppies blocs were strong enough to choose almost all the finalists in almost every category.  Brad and Larry were surprised by this level of success, because with the Sad Puppies 2 campaign last year (which only listed one or two nominees in a few categories),  in most categories there were other nominees that got more votes than the top Puppies nominee.  This year, with a larger voting bloc, that seems to have happened only in the Novel category.
  4. Rules: Bloc voting is not against the rules. It is, however, generally considered somewhat unseemly.  It has happened before, but it has never been on such a large scale, or so public, or so successful. This has sparked various proposals to change the rules to make bloc voting more difficult.  As a general principle, I oppose any such proposals that would make it more difficult for people to participate in the process, or that are aimed at penalizing public voting blocs but would leave secret blocs untouched. However, there are a number of different proposals that I could support (assuming that a change to the rules is deemed necessary — I tend to agree with George R.R. Martin that the system can probably self-correct without rule changes. More on that later.). The weighted-nominations scheme I’ve devised is probably far too complex, although it could easily be implemented via a computer program. (Basically, for each person’s nominations in a particular category, it would check how similar those selections were to other people’s selections, and the more similar ballots there were, the less weight it would give those nominations.)
  5. Backlash: Of course, there has been tremendous backlash within the science fiction and fantasy community since the Hugo ballot was announced. It’s understandable that there would be a backlash — the bloc voters may have complied with the written rules, but they violated the social norm within the community.  But while the backlash is understandable, many of the personal attacks on Brad and Larry have gone far beyond the bounds of decency. (Let me note that there have also been many people who, while disagreeing with what Brad and Larry have done, have made their criticism in a reasonable manner.)  Because Brad and Larry are my friends, and because I tend to agree with them politically, I wish I could go all-out in defending them, but because I think their strategy was a mistake to begin with, I can’t defend it.  However, I do feel that I can and should defend them against the most scurrilous attacks.
  6. Racism: In my opinion, accusing someone of racism is one of the severest charges one can make against someone’s moral character. That also means it is an accusation that should not be made lightly, on flimsy evidence.  Unfortunately, knowing the power of such an accusation, there are many people on the left who will hurl it at people on the right without much regard for whether the accused is actually guilty of racism.  However, Vox Day’s beliefs, as expressed in his own words and taken in context, clearly fit the dictionary definition of racism: “a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.” Therefore, I do believe accusing Vox Day of racism is justified (e.g., for his belief that inherent differences between Africans and other races determine their cultural or individual achievements). But can anyone who has been flinging such accusations at Brad and Larry point to any clear evidence of such beliefs on their part? Or, to use another of the dictionary definitions of racism, is there any clear evidence of: “hatred or intolerance of another race or other races” from Brad or Larry? Yes, I believe both Brad and Larry have expressed opposition to “affirmative action”, which involves discriminating in favor of certain races because those races have been discriminated against. But opposition to affirmative action is not racist per se: it is not racist to believe that the best way to end discrimination based on race is to stop discriminating based on race. (Now, I know that some people on the left don’t like to use the dictionary definitions of racism, and prefer to redefine racism so that only white people can be guilty of it. I think that’s a very convenient definition for them. I also think it’s hogwash.)
  7. Misogyny: Again, let’s go to the dictionary: “hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women, or prejudice against women.” Vox Day’s beliefs also clearly fall under this definition (e.g., he doesn’t trust women to vote in a representative democracy).  Therefore, I believe accusing Vox Day of misogyny is also justified. But again, can anyone who has been flinging such an accusation at Brad and Larry point to any clear evidence of such beliefs on their part? I have not seen any.
  8. Condemnation: If you’re going to condemn Brad and Larry, it should be for promoting a slate for the Hugo ballot, which I think was a bad idea even though it’s not technically against the rules. But accusing them of racism and misogyny without clear evidence is, frankly, despicable. Anyone who has done so should be ashamed of themselves.
  9. Resonance: I think a big part of the problem that led to the situation we find ourselves in today is that many people on both left and right seem to think that if they don’t like a particular work of fiction, it is objectively a bad work of fiction (or, at least, objectively not worthy of any awards), and that therefore if such a work ends up on an awards ballot, there must be some nefarious scheme to promote the work or its author despite the work’s objective lack of merit. Recently, Rachel Swirsky’s Nebula-winning and Hugo-nominated short story “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” and Ann Leckie’s multi-award-winning novel Ancillary Justice have been the poster children for this for people on the right. Meanwhile, Larry Correia’s Hugo-nominated novel Warbound and Vox Day’s novelette “Opera Vita Aeterna” have been the recent poster children for this for people on the left. I’ve had reason to ponder about this subject for a few years now, because of the reaction of some people to my novelette “That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” winning the Nebula and getting nominated for the Hugo back in 2011. And the conclusion I’ve come to is that for some readers, a story can produce a very strong emotional resonance, thus giving the story a lot more impact for those readers. Readers who do not resonate emotionally to a story can have trouble understanding why other people like it so much.  And it’s natural that some stories will tend to resonate more strongly with certain political factions and less strongly with others — although the emotional resonance does not have to be political; it could be based on any number of different factors.  For example, I’m mostly a political opposite to Rachel Swirsky. But at the time I read “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”, I had been spent several months thinking through my religious beliefs about how we should treat people with respect and kindness, and so her story about bullying resonated with me at that time in a way it might not have a year earlier. I thought Ancillary Justice was a good space opera, but not so extraordinary that I, personally, would give it all the awards. However, I can also see how the story’s perspective on gender, which I found a little gimmicky, could strongly resonate with people for whom sexism and gender identity are issues of primary importance, and so I don’t begrudge the novel its awards.  The characters, plot, and themes of Warbound resonated strongly with me, and so I thought it was one of the best novels of that year, but I can understand why it didn’t resonate for some people.  I actually liked “Opera Vita Aeterna”, which dealt with similar themes to my story “The Ashes of His Fathers” (although I hope you’ll forgive me for thinking my story was better), but I didn’t think it was particularly outstanding. However, I could see why it might resonate more with some people, and also why it might resonate less with others. So I hope that more people in SF fandom, wherever they may be on the political spectrum, will start describing their negative reactions to stories more in terms of taste (I didn’t like Story X) and less in terms of objective quality (Story X is a bad story). You could do that with positive reactions as well, but I don’t think positive reactions in terms of objective quality (Story X is awesome!) are nearly as damaging to a sense of community as negative ones.
  10. Voting: Various people have suggested voting “No Award” above any of the Puppy nominees regardless of the merits of any particular nominee, as a way of protesting the use of bloc voting for nominations. I think that’s an understandable reaction, and it’s not against the rules, so I do think that’s a valid strategy. But I think it’s unseemly; not as unseemly as bloc voting, but still unseemly.  I don’t think it’s right to punish all the nominees on the Sad Puppies slate because they swept most of the available spot on the ballot, because I doubt any of them had any idea that was going to happen.  This whole Sad Puppies seems to have grown out of what happened a few years ago when some people in the WorldCon community deliberately snubbed Larry Correia because of his politics and religion. Larry decided to push back, and received pushback on his pushback, and things escalated from there. It’s time to stop the escalation. I think George R.R. Martin, John Scalzi, and many others have the right idea: check out the individual nominees, and vote based on whether you consider them worthy or not. If that means “No Award” in some categories, so be it, but I think you should at least give the nominees a fair look.
  11. Self-Correction: Given the reaction this year, I think it’s fair to say people should be on notice about what it means to be on a slate, and a blanket No Award strategy for any nominees who are willing participants in a slate next year would be appropriate. Also, people will be alert to warn others who might have missed this year’s controversy as to what being on a slate means. With regard to the Sad Puppies campaign, I hope that if they do decide to continue with Sad Puppies 4, it is with a recommendation list far broader than a slate of nominees. Hopefully, next year slates will not be a problem, and so amending the rules (which takes two years) will turn out to be unnecessary.


Release date for Unforgettable

My debut novel Unforgettable now has a release date: January 5, 2016. Not only that, you can now pre-order Unforgettable on Amazon.

And if you haven’t seen Kurt Miller’s amazing cover art yet, go here.