Hello everyone. Tony C. Smith here, founder and editor-in-chief of the District of Wonders podcast network, which includes StarShipSofa, Far-Fetched Fables, and Tales to Terrify.
You may remember that StarShipSofa won a Hugo Award back in 2010. We were so proud, back then. We were new on the WorldCon scene, but we learned pretty quick about how these awards work – and how they’re supposed to work. We are, as we were then, so proud of our Hugo Award, but we were even more proud to be a part of the science fiction community. To this day, we are just so appreciative of all of our supporters, and the many excellent podcasts that have been Hugo winners and nominees since.
Just yesterday, we learned that Tales to Terrify was nominated for the Hugo for Best Fancast. We were completely surprised, and so thrilled! Tales to Terrify produces excellent horror fiction every week and has a very strong following. It’s also a sentimental favourite for many – the living legacy of our beloved original host, the late Lawrence Santoro (1944-2014), carried on under the very capable leadership of Host Stephen Kilpatrick and Submissions Editors Scott Silk, Philip Oldham and intern Laura Nealis.
For a few sweet hours, we thought this nomination would have made Larry proud.
Then, just yesturday, we found out that Tales to Terrify was one of the fancasts on the Rabid Puppies slate. To be honest, it was like the whole thing turned into a real-life horror story. Something to make our most stalwart listener’s blood run cold.
Still reeling from the sheer shock and disappointment, we just wanted to let our listeners and the science fiction community know that we did not know we were on the Rabid Puppies slate. We would never agree to be on their slate. We have never agreed with either the Sad or Rabid Puppies, or their ideas about what science fiction should be and who should write it, or their bullying tactics. We do not support the Puppies’ attempts to ruin the Hugo Awards. We are disgusted that we were drawn into their ugliness without our knowledge. In the words of someone close to Tales to Terrify, “this has been like being presented a polished turd.”
We’re all sickened by it. Tales to Terrify and the entire District of Wonders has always (and will always) celebrate a diverse range of voices, be they authors, narrators, or editors. We do not agree on shutting anyone out or any form of discrimination.
Larry Santoro put so much into the podcast. The entire community adored him – he was a powerhouse and the rock on which the podcast stood. It crushed us all when he passed. Tales to Terrify being on the Rabid Puppies list like this threatens to dishonour his reputation and everything he built the podcast to be. If Larry were around today I’d want him to be proud of what we’ve accomplished. And the Rabid Puppies want to tear that down and disrespect his memory. And it sickens me. It sickens everyone of us.
Last year, these Puppies peed all over so many Award categories, and the biggest winner was “no award” – whether there were deserving nominees on the ballot or not. So much of the joy was just taken out of the Hugos for so many… What the Puppies did wasn’t right.
Now it looks like this year’s awards will carry the stink of these Puppies as well. We only hope that the changes in Hugo Award rules for next year will stop them messing on the red carpet anymore. Let’s get back to celebrating what’s great – the works we love.
For now, we need to decide what to do about Tales to Terrify’s sh… uh… slate-stained Hugo nomination. It was a hard call. Honestly, it still is.
After lots of conversations today, and checking out the wise words of George R. R. Martin, John Scalzi, and others, we have decided to allow our nomination to stand. In the LA Times yesterday, John Scalzi said “Hugo voters are smart enough, and trust their own tastes enough, to know the truth.” So, I’d just like to invite you to have a listen when the Voters Packet comes out, think about all the nominations in all the categories, and vote for whatever you consider to be deserving, according to your conscience and good judgement. I’d invite you to vote based on merit, not on a slate. What you feel is worthy.
In the meantime, I speak for the whole District of Wonders in saying we stand firmly against the Rabid Puppies’ tactics and all that they stand for. We stand with other nominees who were slated without their knowledge and against their wishes, and with the fans who look forward to the return of joy to the Hugo Awards.
Tales to Terrify, like all the podcasts in the District of Wonders, celebrates diversity in the authors and content we seek out and present, as well as in our team on the mics and behind the scenes, and in our community of listeners. The District of Wonders is where great fiction and good people come together. Like I say, everyone has a story in the District of Wonders. The Puppies aren’t going to destroy that, and they aren’t going to destroy the Hugo Awards. We’re going to hold our heads high. We’re going to honour Larry’s work and what he stood for.
See you on the other side.
Tony C. Smith
– District of Wonders team