There’s a sort-of conversation happening on Twitter this morning, sparked I think by Elizabeth Bear’s post at Charlie Stross’s blog.
First off, I deplore slates. In the context of the Hugos, they are an asshole move. Just don’t slate.
Second off, I am saying unequivocally that I do not agree to be on anyone’s slate, do not approve of my inclusion in any slate, and anyone who slates a work of mine is thereby demonstrating their extra-strong motivation to be seen as an asshole.
Now, there’s some concern that assholes making up a slate for next year would deliberately include the work of people they hate, in order to force those people to withdraw any nominations they might get. This might be a genuine concern for some writers. It is not one of mine.
Look, let’s be real. I was largely an unknown writer when Ancillary Justice swept the awards last year. It made the Hugo ballot because quite a lot of voters thought it was worthy of the award, and for no other reason. This year, well, look at the nominations stats. At first there was a single, non-slated work in the novel category, before withdrawals started. It was Ancillary Sword. So even with a second book in a trilogy being less thrillingly new, I had enough readers want to nominate my book that the slate could not stop it.
If (this is a huge “if” and not something I am depending on in any way) IF I were so fortunate as to find that Mercy was nominated for the Hugo, I’m pretty damn sure it wouldn’t be because of any slate. I know for certain that I have a lot of readers who not only enjoy my work but think it’s award-worthy. I have no need to decline a nomination that I know pretty well came from my fans. Or, you know, what Bear said:
First of all, I’m going to state up front that I will never willingly participate in a slate. If I learn that I have been included on a slate, I will ask to be removed, and I will bring as much force to bear on that issue as I legally can.
Additionally, I’m going to rely on the discretion of readers and fans of goodwill, who I think are pretty smart people. If you see my name on a slate, please assume that it’s being done by ruiners to punish me, and that whoever put it there has ignored my requests to remove it. I have nothing but contempt for that kind of behavior, and I’m frankly not going to do anything to please them at all.
My colleagues, of course, are free to deal with the situation as they see fit, up to and including refusing nominations. As for me, well—while I reserve the right to turn down an award nomination at my discretion, I’m not about to be forced into it by the action of trolls and reavers. I expect my readers to be able to make up their own minds about my work, and decide for themselves if it’s worthy of an award or not, and vote accordingly in a fair and sportsfanlike fashion.
I’ll add that I, personally, would find it hilarious to see certain parties suddenly declare they love my books. I would laugh and laugh and laugh. After all the noise made about how the Ancillary books are nothing but message fic and somehow lacking in spaceships and adventure (seriously?) and my readers only pretend to like them because social justice points or whatever, blah blah the writing is crap, blah blah Affirmative Action blah pronouns blah messagefic blah blah–after all that, now they’re going to turn around and with a straight face declare that Mercy is actually deserving of the field’s highest honor and everybody nom it?
Hilarious. And I already get a good laugh out of the no adventure or spaceships thing, and the affirmative action thing–really, you’re just making yourself look ridiculous when you say stuff like that, you might as well put on a clown nose–so it would just be whipped cream on top of that comedy sundae.
Other folks will make other decisions, and that’s as it should be. But I strongly suspect any attempt at “punitive slating” will backfire spectacularly. I mean, it’s not like it wouldn’t be absolutely transparent what they’re doing.
And I think the conversation about “but it would be hypocritical not to withdraw because you’ve said you hate slates!” betrays a somewhat un-nuanced approach to such things. I find it a bit concern-trolly, in fact, though I don’t doubt some of the people saying it are entirely sincere, I’m just talking about my impression of it. But honestly, if you’re not a concern-troll, maybe spend some more time thinking about how things actually stand before you keep going on about how disastrous it would be if assholes slated my work next year.