Regarding My 2016 Hugo Award Nomination

Today, MidAmeriCon II announced the nominees for the 2016 Hugo Awards, chosen by the attendees and supporters of the 74th WorldCon for the best works in science fiction, fantasy, and fandom produced in 2015.  My military fantasy adventure story, “The Commuter” was one of the five nominees in the short story category.

I must regretfully decline the nomination.

I’ve known for some time that “The Commuter” had made the short list, having been emailed about it by Professor Adams, “The Voice of the Hugos,” on April 10th.  I provided copies of my story for the Hugo Voter’s Packet and accepted the nomination in the forlorn hope I would find my story among a mixed and diverse selection of other stories, stories which came out of fandom as a whole (a whole which includes Puppies . . . ) rather than from any single group’s agenda or manipulation of process.  I knew that it was unlikely, given that my little-known story was only up for the award due to its inclusion on Vox Day’s Rabid Puppies slate, but I had hope.

To be clear, Vox Day and I have worked together before, but I did not request or engineer my appearance on his slate.  I’m very proud of my story “Within This Horizon”, that I contributed to the first Riding the Red Horse anthology, which allowed me to be in the same volume as friends and acquaintances Chris Kennedy, Christopher Nuttall, Ken Burnside, and one of my literary heroes, Jerry Pournelle.  I have been interviewed for Castalia House.  However, Vox and I disagree on many political and social points and I am neither a Rabid Puppy nor a member of his Dread Ilk.  My stories have no real ideological bent right or left.  And while I cannot dispute the experiences of others which brought the Sad and Rabid Puppy movements into existence, I did not approve of the straight-slate bloc voting that so damaged fandom last year.  I was very encouraged when Sad Puppies 4 answered the criticisms that had been levied against SP3.

I tried to convince myself that perhaps the Rabids would also ameliorate the “burn it all” stance they ended with last year, after the strings of “No Awards” handed out at 2015’s ceremony.  I hoped they would treat this year’s 5-item-per-category slate as only a recommendation, and that perhaps my story might be the only slate pick among a strong selection of non-slate tales. I hoped it would compete on its own with honor, winning or losing without a nod to anyone’s particular political intent. However, as the list is straight slate in the short story category, I cannot take advantage of a flaw in the current nomination process.

This is not a repudiation of anyone’s politics, nor is it an endorsement of anyone else’s ideology. This is not a statement on the quality of the nominated works that either appear or don’t appear on anyone’s slate.  This is a rejection of a gamed system, as well as a stand for returning the Hugos to what they’re supposed to be rather than what some have tried to make them.  I’ve spent the last 21 years in a career dedicated to the support and defense of the US Constitution and the principles upon which it is founded. Every slate, every recommendation list, and every vote is the expression of another individual’s right to free speech.  I had no right to tell Vox to remove my story from the Rabid Puppies list, nor did I think asking him would do much good.  I had no right to tell any Rabid Puppy how to vote, nor, truthfully, was I much inclined. I did not ask to be part of any list, but I hoped at the very least that it might bring other eyes to “The Commuter”, readers that might appreciate it for what it was and perhaps honor me with an uncontroversial nomination (or at least a few Kindle purchases).  But, now that all hopes for a clean nomination are dashed, it is my turn to speak:

Rather than eat a shit sandwich, I choose to get up from the table.  

Thank you to all the people who actually read my story, enjoyed it, and nominated it for the Hugo.  I will forever be in your debt.  However, if you voted for my story and others only because someone told/recommended you should — for whatever reason — Why?  What windmill are you tilting against?  What do you hope to achieve other than the dissolution of something which may need to be saved from its failings, not destroyed outright.  If I have wasted your sincere vote, I am sorry, but I cannot participate when I know shenanigans may have occurred.  Winning a Hugo is less about the award itself than what the award means:  that you have created something appreciated, worthy of memory, and have garnered the respect of your peers — something last year’s string of “No Awards” indicated the bloc voting failed to achieve.

I would ask the voters who read this one thing:  please give the works a chance, slated or not.  Please don’t “No Award” entire categories out of spite against Vox Day.  Please give the slated short stories an equal chance with whatever story replaces mine.  The authors deserve your attention, free of any political bias.  Works should stand on their own.

If you would like to read “The Commuter”, I’d love to hear your thoughts on its nomination and would be happy to provide it gratis to any WorldCon voter.  Thank you for your attention and your understanding.

The Partly Informed Voter

Hey, all.  I’ve been off the computer as of late (well, off everything that isn’t Parks and Rec or Justified binge watching), so I apologize for the lack of recent posts, updating my writer’s group, or making progress on my projects.  I can’t say why I’ve been off.  It’s been more of a general “blah” feeling than anything else.  Maybe it’s the winter.

But with the advent of March, I am renewed unto the approach of Spring, groundhog be damned.  I’m feeling UP and ready to tackle the blog-o-sphere and my own writing career yet again!  Read closely — there is much to catch up on:

– First and foremost, I am a contributing member to SASQUAN, this year’s World Science Fiction Convention, and as such I have a terrible and awesome thing:  a vote!  Yes, it is now within my capability to vote for the (lately) controversial Hugo award for the best works in Science Fiction.  Nominations close March 10th, so this is YOUR last chance to make suggestions to me for what should receive a nod.  I have no delusions that my own novel or stories will make the cut, proud of them though I am.  Nominees don’t need many votes to make the ballot — on the order of 160 or so.  I have more than enough 5-star reviews of ASID to think that I have 160 people who would back me, but I doubt the Venn diagram of my readers and SASQUAN voters would intersect to that degree.  Back when I had dim hopes that I might make the Sad Puppy slate (one side of the Hugo controversy), I might have had a slot, but it was not to be.  Many of the Sad Puppies devotees have read and liked ASID, but there are better books out there and they justifiably got on the slate.  The same goes for my short stories — my audience and the average SASQUAN voting pool are not the same group of people, so no joy.  That being said, who SHOULD I vote for?  I have a few that I’ll be backing, but there is room on my card for others to tag along.  Should I fill in my gaps with Sad or Angry Puppies?  Should I strike out for balance and vote for books touted by the other, “non-controversial”, “I don’t see anything wrong with the awards”, “there’s no inherent bias among WorldCon voters” side?  Check out my existing slate tomorrow and let me know what I should add!

– My active SFWA membership has not come through yet.  I’m qualified six ways from Sunday, but no joy yet.  Must investigate.  I am happy that my friend Joelle Presby got her membership, however.  That’s a future SFWA board member there, folks.  Me?  I couldn’t be bothered.

– I’ve completed about 1/4th of DEMI-GOD and it is going well (except for my operational writing pause throughout much of February).  I’m eager to finish, but worry about how the story grabs you.  I expect the editing phase to be arduous.  This is not a spiffy sci-fi military adventure like my last one.  This is much more social science fiction and much more character driven, so I worry about my past readers losing interest.  Once I get further on, I will be requesting beta-readers, so let me know if you want to participate.

– I’m spending today re-writing my sci-fi western for the Weird Wild West anthology.  Gotta get that in before the window closes.  Just need to punch up the beginning.

– I also need to post my new short story for sale as a Kindle Single.  Let the 99 cent experiment begin!

– Movies you should check out:  Jupiter Ascending (a visual masterpiece that should only be watched completely drunk), Kingsman (an AWESOME flick which is both a deconstruction of Bond and the best of what makes Bond), and The Lazarus Effect (which is being unfairly maligned as either a Lucy redux or a Flatliners copy.  It is neither.  It is a good low-budget horror flick, though I did think the villain had some issues with her motivation to go FULL-EVIL at the end.)  I’m thinking about adding a feature here called the BLUF review for Bottom Line Up Front where I lead with my final judgment and then go into detail.

– Should I get in to You Tube?  I have a face for radio and a voice for books, but there is a whole media out there that I’m missing out on.  Recommendations?

– And, lastly, for a special treat, go check out The Human Echoes Podcast, where you can hear yours truly debate and riff off of Albert Berg and Tony Southcotte of The Writer’s Arena about the movie Armageddon, space science, the end of the world, and 50 Shades of Grey (which may or may not be related).  It was my first podcast, but I had tons of fun, and you should absolutely check it out.


Plug Your Book on The Improbable Author!

Well, my previous post unfortunately dropped into the internets without much of a splash and barely a ripple.  That’s what I get for announcing a new feature on Labor Day weekend while WorldCon was going on.  Everyone had better places to be.

But now you’re all back at work and hating life, so you’ll be searching desperately for diversions.  And what a diversion I’m proposing to you!


Indie and self-published SF / Fantasy / Horror / and Adventure authors, I’m about to join your ranks, so I’m proposing a quid-pro-quo arrangement for the benefit of all.  Sort of like John Scalzi’s Big Idea guest columns, I’m proposing you dear authors without marketing teams behind you include The Improbable Author in your marketing plan.  I get more viewership for my impending launch, and you get more sales out there as well.

If you’d like to guest-post 5-10 paragraphs about your book, yourself, and the your journey from concept to execution, just leave your contact info in the comments below, use the contact form, or email me at and we’ll work out the details.  Posting schedule depends on inputs, but there should be little to no delay once we get in contact.

So, authors and readers, let’s get the word out there about the amazing books now populating the indie realm!

I look forward to hearing from you.