Logo for Sad Puppies 3
|Formation||8 January 2013|
|Purpose||Hugo Awards nominations|
|Larry Correia, Brad Torgersen, Kate Paulk, Sarah Hoyt|
|Sad Puppies Think of the Children Campaign|
Sad Puppies is a voting campaign intended to influence the outcome of the annual Hugo Awards, the longest running prize (since 1953) for science fiction or fantasy works. It was initiated in 2013 by author Larry Correia by means of a voting bloc to get a specific novel nominated, and then through suggested slates in subsequent years (led by Correia in 2014, and then Brad R. Torgersen in 2015). Author Kate Paulk announced in March 2015 that she would be taking the helm of the campaign for the 2015-2016 year.
In 2013, it was an attempt to get one of Correia's novels nominated for the Hugo Award in order to "poke the establishment in the eye" by nominating "unabashed pulp action that isn’t heavy handed message fic". In subsequent years, it was a campaign to nominate works Correia—and later Torgersen—thought were more deserving, but which they stated had been unfairly passed over by Hugo voters in favor of more literary works, or stories with progressive political themes.
For the 2015 Hugos, the Sad Puppies and overlapping Rabid Puppies slates swept several entire categories of nominations, with most of those categories then being voted "No Award" at the Hugos.
Correia started the first Sad Puppies campaign in 2013 when he mentioned on his blog that one of his works, Monster Hunter Legion, was eligible for that year's Hugo Award for Best Novel. The name for the campaign originates in an SPCA ad featuring Sarah McLachlan, and a joke relating the "message-fic winning awards" and puppy sadness. Correia's stated purposes for starting the campaign were to "poke the establishment in the eye" by nominating "unabashed pulp action that isn’t heavy handed message fic[tion]", and to "make literati critics spontaneously combust". The first campaign focused mainly on nominating Monster Hunter Legion, although Correia mentioned several times a list of eligible works from Baen Books, Correia's main publisher; along with a few other works mentioned in posts in which he indicated for whom he was voting. This first campaign was not successful in getting Monster Hunter Legion nominated, though at 101 nominations it was only 17 nominations short of the final ballot cutoff.
The second campaign started in January 2014, promoting his book Warbound as a good choice for nomination. In February, Correia encouraged people to send in suggestions for the various categories while also listing several he was already considering. He then presented his own slate at the end of March, consisting of one work each in twelve categories.
Seven of the twelve 2014 nominees made it to the final ballot, including Warbound. Warbound ended in fifth place in the final count, and only one of the seven nominees—Toni Weisskopf for the Best Professional Editor (Long Form) category—finished above last place. One of the nominees, Vox Day's short story "Opera Vita Aeterna", was ranked below "no award" for the category, therefore ranking sixth place out of five. "Opera Vita Aeterna"'s inclusion in the slate was regarded by others, such as John Scalzi, as a choice which made the slate appear to not be a legitimate attempt to push under-represented works, but instead an attempt to rile voters who did not back the slate; Correia later explained that he had included "Opera" in his campaign because he had enjoyed it, because he wanted to increase participation in the Hugo nomination process, and because he wanted to upset people, stating that he "nominated Vox Day because Satan didn’t have any eligible works that period."
Brad R. Torgersen took over the third campaign, and a second group, the "Rabid Puppies" led by Vox Day, was also created. Each put forward a similar slate of suggested nominations which came to dominate the ballot. The Sad Puppies charged that these popular works were often unfairly passed over by Hugo voters in favor of more literary works, or stories with progressive political themes. Various media outlets reported the two campaigns as stating they were a reaction to "niche, academic, overtly [leftist]" nominees and winners in opposition to "an affirmative action award" that preferred female and non-white authors and characters. The campaigns triggered an uproar among some fans and authors, with at least six nominees declining their nomination both before and, for the first time, after the ballot was published. Many people advocated "no award" votes, and multiple-Hugo-winner Connie Willis declined to present the awards.
The slates were characterized by some journalists as a "right wing", "orchestrated backlash" by a "group of white guys" and were alleged to be linked with the Gamergate controversy. Conservative journalist David French, who supported the campaign, characterized the negative responses as "leftist" and "slanderous". Tor Books creative director Irene Gallo became the subject of controversy when, on her personal Facebook page, she described the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies as being "unrepentantly racist, misogynist, and homophobic" and "extreme right-wing to neo-Nazi (...) respectively". Tor Books founder Tom Doherty stated that the slates did not exist simply to promote white men, and that Gallo's words were her own and did "not reflect Tor’s views or mine". Gallo later clarified that her views did not represent the views of Tor books, and said she painted with "too broad a brush" 
In March 2015, author Kate Paulk announced that she would be organizing the fourth Sad Puppies campaign. The Sad Puppies 4 campaign changed to present a recommendation list, with each category listed in order of how many recommendations each work received, in order to avoid accusations of being a slate; the Rabid Puppies 4 campaign by Vox Day did not follow suit. Some of the authors of nominees on the two lists requested to be removed, such as Alastair Reynolds for his novella Slow Bullets, but were not removed.
The nominees were announced in April 2016, with several nominees from the two groups appearing on the list, though fewer than the prior year. 64 of the 81 Rabid Puppy nominations appeared on the final list. John Scalzi stated in a piece for the Los Angeles Times that the change in process for the Sad Puppy 4 list, as well as the larger overlap in both lists with more generally popular works, meant that many of the works on the final ballot such as those by prior winners Neil Gaiman and Neal Stephenson were unlikely to owe much of their success at the nomination stage to their presence on the Puppy lists. For the second year, nominated authors requested to be removed after the list was published; author Tom Mays declined his nomination for Best Short Story on the grounds that his work was only on the ballot because of his presence on the Rabid Puppies slate, as all of the nominees in his category were on the slate. He had initially accepted the nomination on the belief that that would not be the case.
In 2013, the Puppy-suggested nominee—Larry Correia's Monster Hunter Legion—did not get enough nominations to make it onto the ballot.
In 2014, one nominee each in seven categories made it onto the final ballot out of the twelve proposed, but did not do well; Larry Correia's Warbound finished last, as did every other nominee besides Toni Weisskopf for the Best Professional Editor (Long Form) category. One Puppy nominee—Vox Day's short story Opera Vita Aeterna—was ranked sixth out of five nominees, below "No Award".
In 2015, 51 of the 60 Sad Puppy recommendations and 58 of the 67 Rabid Puppy recommendations made the final ballot. Several categories were composed entirely of Puppy nominees. All nominees in the Puppy-only categories—"Best Related Work", "Best Short Story", "Best Novella", "Best Editor (Short Form)", and "Best Editor (Long Form)"—were ranked below No Award, and therefore no Hugo was given in those categories. In all other categories except "Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form"—that is, in the categories "Best Fan Writer", "Best Fancast", "Best Fanzine", "Best Semiprozine", "Best Professional Artist", "Best Graphic Story", "Best Novelette", and "Best Novel"—all Puppy nominees were ranked below No Award; this was also the case for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. The only winning work to appear on a Puppy slate was the film Guardians of the Galaxy. In reaction, Correia initially wrote only "See? I told you so."
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