Monday, April 13, 2015

If I Ran a Sad Puppies Campaign

If I ran a Sad Puppies campaign*...well, I probably wouldn't. I dislike awards campaigns in the first place. I probably would not be asked to be an organizing part of it because I generally don't align with many of their views.  I do not have a platform of nearly the size of Correia, Torgersen, or Paulk, so my running a campaign would be be like trying to get the vote out by going to a high school on the weekend - nobody is there to listen.  Most of the work that I nominate is the very stuff Sad Puppies is campaigning against.

But if I did.

If I did, it would look something like this:

1. I would wish to do it outside of the Sad Puppies banner because there is a great deal of negative connotation to it. Of course, it would lose a lot of its effectiveness if it was outside the banner as well as completely miss the point of running Sad Puppies in a different way. There is also a lot of positive connotation for Sad Puppies from the people who support SP, and changing the masthead might alienate a number of individuals the campaign is attempting to bring into the conversation.  Nobody is happy.  So, it would still be under the Sad Puppies banner**.

2. There would be a Mission Statement posted prominently either at the beginning or the end of any SP article I write, because I want it to be clear what MY campaign is all about.  The Mission Statement would include some of the following ideas, though it would be written in a much cleaner and concise manner
  • Sad Puppies 5 (hypothetically) is about building a wide ranging recommendation list of works that both individually and collectively we feel are shining examples of the best of science fiction and fantasy.  Many of these works have often been ignored when by the voters of the Hugo Awards and we feel these works should be considered.
  • Sad Puppies 5 is about bringing in the voices of fans who have not previously participated in the Hugo Awards and it is our hope that they will become a supporting or attending member of Worldcon and will nominate and vote for those works they feel are the best of the year.
  • We do not wish to dictate to anyone what to nominate and reject any attempts to do so.
  • This is not a slate. 
  • This is not a campaign.
  • SP5 is a conversation.

3. There would be a large recommendation list that would come from a recommendations post or two or three to get a sense of what people are interested in, and the most recommended works would be included on the SP5 recommendation list.  This is similar to what happened with SP3, except the recommendation list will be significantly larger and may even have a subsequent request for the community to then narrow down the huge list by specifically calling out their 3 favorite works from that list.  I haven't quite thought this one all the way through.
  • The larger point here is that where SP3 narrowed down a number (but not all) of the categories to the five slots on the Hugo ballot, SP5 would instead narrow down the recommendation list to at least ten works per category. This is much more of a recommendation list than anything that can be construed as a slate. At least ten***. Maybe more. 
  • The recommendations of each category would also include some of my personal recommendations, regardless of their popularity within the rest of the longer list, however those personal recommendations will be noted as such.
  • Some of this idea is coming from a comment on Larry Correia's blog, but I did like it. We would look at YA, Epic Fantasy, Comedic Fantasy or Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Romance / Whatever you want to call it, and anything else that is not often part of the conversation and we will seek out the best of those.  
4. It would be clear that SP5 is trying to broaden the scope of what is talked about and that at no point do I want any follower of SP5 to vote in lock step with anything on the recommendation list. This is a list of stuff the we, and I, think is good. Period.  What SP5 wants is for more people to participate and for them to look at what they have read throughout the year and nominate based on what they read that they thought was friggin wonderful, regardless of whether or not it was ever a part of the SP5 recommendations list.

5. SP5 would be if not a year round discussion of science fiction and fantasy, at least a longer six month conversation.  It would not simply be a campaign at the end of the year. Discussions of great books that were recently read would occur and the recommendations list would build throughout the year until it was time to curate the the various lists down to the 10-15 per category that the goal is. The curation would be a combination of my personal taste as well as that of the overall community of SP5 which is participating.

6. The discourse will be civil. If there is one thing that is annoying the hell out of me is that no matter what one's preferences are in terms of fiction, everyone will be treated fairly and with civility. SP5 would be a welcoming place for all.  And I friggin mean that. There would be no name calling or denigrating the tastes or characters of others. This is about recognizing great books, period.  There will likely be overlap with the sort of work that has been on the Hugo ballot in the recent past and there will be overlap with the sort of work that SP3 is currently championing.  ALL are welcome.  SP5 rejects those who tear down others.  This is not the place for that.

7. There would be no rhetoric beyond shining lights on good stuff.  If you don't like something, simply saying "hey, not a big fan of that one" would probably suffice.

8. SP5 only wins if people participate and nominate based on what they like. Will there be stuff on the ballot that I don't like?  There always has been.  Will there be stuff on the ballot that you don't like?  Assuredly.  Might there be stuff on the ballot that we do like?  I really hope so. 

9. SP5 is not about being a bludgeon or getting back at anyone or making their heads explode. It's about good books and stories and art and whatever else is eligible for a Hugo Award.

It would look something like that. But I'm not running a Sad Puppies campaign and I am not seeking to do so.  It's just a different way of looking at how it could work.  I have no idea how Kate Paulk plans to run SP4. 

*This is not actually an attempt to run a future Sad Puppies campaign. This is more of my way to think through stuff that's been running through my head. If there is something about the SP campaigns that has bothered me, what would a SP campaign look like that doesn't bother me?  I think this is it.

**To a much larger point, actually running this hypothetical exercise would require buy in from the folks who have previously run the SP campaigns because I have not been part of their communities, they don't know me, and I don't have an audience. It would require some work on their part to bring the conversation over here.  It's not something that someone on my side of the fence in a small pond could just do. Shouting into an empty high school, you know?  Nobody is listening. 

***I would love to see a wider and larger recommendation list in SP4. Curate broadly.


AG said...

I would sign up for this campaign in a moment. I'm someone who is appalled at the behavior of some SJWs, but even more at how it gets ignored by the mainstream of fandom. However, I'm not completely comfortable with some of the rhetoric of the SPs. I have taken the freedom of sending a link to Kate Paulk, in case she wants to read it. I have no idea of what the intentions are for SP4, but if it's something I can feel comfortable with I will happily join.

Petrea Mitchell said...

If you want to stay away from "slate" and "campaign", "recommended reading" might be a reasonable term to use.

Joe said...

AG: I'm curious how SP will evolve in the future.

Petrea: I'd be down for something like that. It works with the longer lists I would like to see.

Andrew said...

Kate Paulk is coordinating SP4 for next year. I'm pretty sure if you asked her what her intentions are with regards to compiling a list she would tell you. I suspect it would be pretty similar to what Brad did this year.

Joe said...

Andrew: I haven't reached out yet, but I probably will. I'm curious what the plan is.