It’s Hugo voting season again, and as I’m reading through the stories that have been nominated, I’m once again confronted with a number of choices that were placed on the ballot by the bloc-voting scheme of the Rabid Puppies. I’ve had at least one friend ask why I even care, which I suppose is a legitimate question. There are several reasons, but one of the biggies is this: it has been demonstrated that being nominated for a Hugo can have a significant impact on the sales figures for a book and/or author who was not previously really well known. In other words, folks who are mid-listers and below receive an immediate improvement in sales when they are included in the short list for the Hugos. If such a person goes on to win, there is a bigger increase in sales. And many authors have attested to the fact that when they won at a point when their career was struggling, that agents or editors who previously hadn’t shown any interest come knocking at the door.
Because no one has ever taken the equivalent of exit polls when people leave physical bookstores or log off of online stores to determine why people buy specific books, we have less hard data about the long term effects winning awards on someone’s sales. Library data indicates that books which have won the Hugo, Nebula, or Clarke awards have much higher circulation rates (more people check them out, they remain on the shelf for shorter times between check-outs, et cetera). Some marketing research seems to support the idea that when browsing, people are more likely to pick up and look at book that says “award winner” on it than those that don’t.
Which is all to say that one of the reasons I care is because getting nominated or winning the award can significantly benefit a writers’ career, particularly one that is not otherwise well known. So spiteful schemes to push works of dubious quality onto the ballot causes actual harm to the people who otherwise would have made the short list. Super spiteful schemes, like this year’s Rabid Puppy slate, which push material that the organizer chose precisely because of how bad it is, are even worse.
Which brings us to one of this year’s nominees: “Space Raptor Butt Invasion” by Chuck Tingle. Tingle (not his real name) is a niche erotica author who produces a lot of really weird erotic fiction that is clearly not meant to be taken seriously. He had never even heard of the Hugo Awards before his nomination was announced, and had to have it explained to him by an interviewer who was asking him for a reaction. His immediate reaction was to say that he despite getting nominated for an award because of it, he is definitely not in favor of bloc voting.
He has since educated himself on the topic. This inspired a series of Gif- and video-illustrated tweets mocking Vox Day, the racist & misogynist guy running (and profiting off of) the Rabid Puppy campaign.
Tingle also wrote a new “book” for the occasion: “Slammed In The Butt By My Hugo Award Nomination.”
That wasn’t the end of his trolling of the Sad and Rabid Puppies. He has since asked Zoe Quinn, who is hated by the puppies and their allies the GamerGaters, to attend this year’s WorldCon and if Tingle’s story should win, to accept on his behalf and give a speech about whatever she wants. So if the puppy loyalists vote for Tingle’s story, they give one of their most hated people another public forum to talk about the issues they hate being talked about: Weird porn author who was dragged into Hugo Awards mess pulls off epic troll.
He didn’t stop there. He realized that despite the fact the Vox Day has managed to use the Rabid Puppy campaign to radically increase traffic to his blog and publishing site, and to sell more books to the sorts of racist, homophobic, misogynist fans who apparently previously didn’t know how to find them, Vox had never purchased the Rabid Puppy web domain. So Tingle bought it and set it up as a site to mock Vox and to promote some of the authors that Vox has so often publickly denigrated: Chuck Tingle thwarts devilman Vox Day, buys TheRabidPuppies.com for HARD buckaroos.
sometimes devilmen are so busy planning scoundrel attacks they forget to REGISTER important website names. this is a SOFT WAY of the antibuckaroo agenda but is also good because it makes it easy for BUDS WHO KNOW LOVE IS REAL to prove love (all).
please understand this is website to take DARK MAGIC and replace with REAL LOVE for all who kiss the sky.
Tingle hasn’t just turned his unique satirical eye toward the puppies. His commentary on the transphobic bathroom laws and similar nonsense, “Pounded In The Butt By My Irrational Bigoted Fear Of Humans Who Were Born As Unicorns Using A Human Restroom” is available (as all of his delightfully weird titles are) on Kindle.
I don’t think that there is anything particularly award-winning about “Space Raptor Butt Invasion,” but Tingle’s actions are definitely award-worthy. I know I’m not the only regular Hugo vote who is considering putting Tingle’s story above No Award on my ballot because he’s been both a good sport about this, and so delightfully entertaining in his take down of the Rabid Puppy ringleader. And for a man who finds many weird ways to put the phrase “pounded in the butt” into story titles, he’s been much more civil in his attacks on Vox Day than Vox has ever been to anyone.
If you want more details on Tingle’s campaign against the bigots: Satirical erotica author Chuck Tingle’s massive troll of conservative sci-fi fans, explained.
When I first started to draft this post, I had more information and links about the Rabid Puppies and Sad Puppies, but I think that Cory Doctorow was right on the money when he recently said, “the two groups who want to kill the Hugos call themselves “Rabid Puppies” and “Sad Puppies” for fantastically tedious reasons you can look up for yourself if you care to.” Re-hashing the reasons they’ve launched these campaigns and the inconsistencies and contradictions in their arguments is tedious. We’ve all written way more about it than they deserve.
Tingle’s bizarre and hilarious response reminds me that life, reading, and storytelling are far too important to take seriously. It’s much easier to enjoy a good story if I laugh about something frivolous first than it is if I’ve been ranting about someone being a jerk.
So I’m going to go read another of Tingle’s stories, then get back to the serious work of reading and writing sf/f.
ETA: Chuck Tingle isn’t the only person who writes silly stuff that is more worth your time than the rantings of outraged people. May I humbly suggest: