How our 2016 Hugo Nomination became a real Tale to Terrify

April 28, 2016 by Drew S

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
Jeremy Szal
Ralph Ambrose
Stephen Kilpatrick
Scott Silk
Philip Oldham
Nicola Seaton-Clark
Gary Dowell
Robyn Bradshaw
– District of Wonders team


  1. Mentioned with link on File770.

    Sorry that you’re dragged into this mess.

  2. It’s pretty clear that this year the Rabid pups made generous use of human shields.
    It’s plain enough that, say, Gaiman wasn’t on the list willingly, but there are a lot of other victims.
    But, heck, there are things I nominated on their stupid list.
    Babies and bathwater and all.
    Me, I’m perfectly willing to No Award stuff, and I did so last year, but there is also something truly awesome about awarding good stuff.
    If something is clearly a Castalia product, well that brand is toxic.
    But otherwise it’s going to be case-by-case.
    So sorry your happy news came covered in dawg piss – let’s hope we get some improved voting rules enacted by next time!
    Meanwhile, I’ll give your sample an honest try.

  3. Glad you’re not withdrawing just because of the jokesters that nominated you. Best of luck!

  4. I just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone that’s supported us thus far. It hasn’t been easy for any of us, least of all the TTT team. But this statement exists for a reason. We’re not backing down and we advise others to do the same.

    Stiff drinks all around, folks. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

  5. Thing that occurred to me. They’re using people as shields. People who should have been in with a chance anyhow, so they can play their petty little games and say’Well, Neil Gaiman won a Hugo because of US’.
    Neil Gaiman. Lois McMaster Bujold. Stephen King. Ridley Scott. Uncanny Magazine. Mike Glyer. Tales To Terrify.
    That, my friends, is a compliment. I will buy you that stiff drink if ever we meet Jeremy, but remember the fact that they want to use you in this kind of BS is because you;re doing something worth being proud of.

  6. Very sorry to see you guys caught up in this mess, but I’m also glad to see that you’re standing tall against the Rabid Puppies and the same with the others. Obviously there are some that deserve to be No Awarded, but this isn’t one of them. I’m just sorry to see them drag you down to the gutter.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve been listening to Tales to Terrify and StarShipSofa for almost a year now and I’ve loved what I’ve heard. You guys are doing stellar work and no matter what happens, you’ve got a fan for life.

    Keep those chins up.

  7. I try to be above all the spewing of hate. It’s all reactionary, To act like the Sad or Sick Pups had no reason to react the way they did would be to pretend they are not human which would be a real bigoted thing to do. I see that mentality a lot and it’ only lowers you down to their level. If you want to react to there ideal of what type of stories should be supported by stating you don’t support them then it’s just a deadly cycle.

    It’s all 3rd grade stuff this slate crap along with the If I can’t win then no one can “No Award” debacle.

    Frankly their is no way to win when you divide Science Fiction into Left and Right politics.

  8. I do not know if it’s just me or if everyone else encountering problems with your site.
    It appears like some of the written text within your posts are running off
    the screen. Can someone else please provide feedback and let me know if
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  9. So glad you posted this statement. You all do a great job with Tales to Terrify and Starship Sofa. The Puppies can’t change that. I’m happy you decided to stay on the ballot. Tough choice, but the right one..

Links to this post
  1. […] (8) STAYING ON. The crew of the fancast Tales to Terrify, a Hugo nominee on the Rabid Puppies slate, tells “How our 2016 Hugo nomination because a real Tale to Terrify”. […]

  2. […] 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.” Link […]

  3. […] 2016/4/28 Tony C Smith of ‘Tales to Terrify’ podcast posts his reaction to being nominated and discovering they had been part of the Rabid Puppy slate: “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.” – […]

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