Nebula Awards Ballot Controversy

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America Board released a statement March 1, 2019 in response to allegations that a Facebook group devoted to self-publishing, “20Booksto50k,” may have promoted slate voting to influence this year’s ballot, a situation that drew sometimes heated responses from authors troubled by the issue. The statement reads, in part:

In light of recent events regarding the 2018 SFWA Nebula Nominations short list, the SFWA Board is aware of the ongoing issues. We will continue discussion on ways to improve our processes so that something of this nature does not happen again. With that said, we would like to make it clear that the organization frowns on any attempt to manipulate our Nebula Awards nomination and final ballot processes which includes logrolling and slate campaigns. In our ongoing dialogue, the SFWA Board will be working in concert with the Nebula Awards Commissioner and the Nebula Rules Committee to strengthen existing rules and guidelines to safeguard the integrity of the awards. We also do not condone abusive behavior in response to the stress of this situation.

SFWA began admitting “independent and small press writers,” including authors who self-publish, into the organization in 2013. “Since then, we’ve welcomed hundreds of new independent, traditional, and hybrid authors…. We also understand that with growth such as this, sometimes comes the pain of finding our way forward. The recent controversy is no exception, and we fully understand just how frustrating something like this can be.” The Board and staff “regrets the shadow that has gathered over what we’ve all worked so hard to build…. our largest concern will be focused on the careful repair of the rifts that have opened and how we can avoid something like this in the future. Above all else, we hope we can move forward with our ongoing vision to make this organization into everything it can be.” They ask that voters judge each work on the ballot on its merits: “The work that stays with you, that moves you, that work that you love the most should earn your vote. It is our hope that you will join us on this very first step, showing just how strong we all can be when we work together.”

For the full statement: <>.

The creator of the alleged slate, Jonathan Brazee, published a statement on File 770 expressing regret for his part in the controversy:

I worded the post that contained the 20Booksto50K Recommended Reading List…. the intention for the list was for visibility. I knew any indie title needed nominations from the membership at large to make the ballot. I wanted to have a diverse ballot with indie representation, but not to nominate or vote for something just because it was indie-written or by a member of the group. All I wanted was for the works on the list to be considered and judged on their own merits.

In addition, the list was there to excite other group members about the Nebulas and SFWA itself, to show that striving for quality might be recognized.

HOWEVER… I screwed up, and I take full responsibility for that. I am writing this both as an apology, because regardless of my intention, my actions have hurt people and organizations that I care about. But I also write this so that other people can understand the nuances of where my mistakes lay. There isn’t anything wrong with reading lists, but mine made mistakes…. Please don’t let my mistakes reflect badly on SFWA, the Nebula Awards, 20Booksto50k or on any of the other nominees.

His full statement is here: <>.

Locus Magazine, Science Fiction FantasyWhile you are here, please take a moment to support Locus with a one-time or recurring donation. We rely on reader donations to keep the magazine and site going, and would like to keep the site paywall free, but WE NEED YOUR FINANCIAL SUPPORT to continue quality coverage of the science fiction and fantasy field.

5 thoughts on “Nebula Awards Ballot Controversy

  • April 28, 2019 at 1:29 pm

    There is a much bigger problem in the SF world than just slates(No one seemed to have a problem with Scalzi’s slates) The real problem is Hypocrisy and becoming what you hate. All one needs to do is look at the award nominee’s and winners the last few years(along with the No Vote) to realize not only did the Sad(and even the Ugly) Puppies not only had a legitimate point, But the proof that it is the Establishment of SF Group Thinkers who subscribe to Racial and Gender Identity instead of Individuality as witnessed by who now gets nominated and who doesn’t, Having White Males dominate the awards for so long wasn’t exactly obscene as they most represented the writers/readers, But only giving them 10% representation in award nominee’s the last few years is definitively Obscene and evidence of Racial and Sexual Bigotry.

    Which leads us back to Hypocrisy.

    P.S. Course this Hypocritical Bigotry runs rampant because of how the so called tolerant ones feel so secure in their echo chamber, one (Like Scalzi a person that was a President of the SFWA) whose privilege encompasses having any opposing ideologies shut down due to Easy Censorship(Burn those books you don’t like baby) Which no doubt will happen to this direly needed statement I just made(But since you don’t like it, You got that Delete Button handy don’t ya, So writers agaisnt Words, That’s quite Hypocritical to don’t ya think(or do ya just oppress thoughts you don’t care for)

  • April 29, 2019 at 10:28 pm

    Good for you for not running from this little corner with censorship! Though I usually add that last bit in as a challenge to the would be censors, I find challenging people in such a way leaves them little room to avoid self reflection and about half the time they will indeed accept the challenge and not censor WORDS they may not agree with, Which is certainly something all writers should encourage. Now would the words here and other such places been published without the challenges, Only the person doing so can know for sure but either way them choosing not to run from Words one may not agree with and accepting the fact that others that think differently may express them and has that right, just has to make the Discourse in the West at least a infantile percent more honest(which is a good place to start)


  • May 19, 2019 at 8:52 am

    I’m on the Left. It’s clear that the few voices that complained about middle age white men in SF have taken over via rage and shaming and completely jettisoned white men from ever winning top honors again. Shouldn’t “everyone” have an equal chance? Demographically I guess it’s no.

    Speaking the truth about this trend on the left would be career suicide. So they are silenced by the raging minority who scream racism like a mob if you question them.

    Congrats to the winners.

  • May 20, 2019 at 6:52 am

    I’m from the Alt-Right and it is clear that the Sad and Rabid Puppies consisted of mediocre to lousy writers that became a laughing stock when their works reached a larger audience.

    They were total failures started screaming about communists and stalinists because no one gave them an award for existing. News for them: After Kindergarten, not everyone gets a medal.

    Speaking the truth about these rightist will only sett them off whining again.

  • May 20, 2019 at 11:44 pm

    You might be one of those that needs a dictionary to understand your own buzzwords(Try equality, inclusion and Hypocrisy for a start) Sorry but your reply was a Whining Rage and hypocritical for it as well, Sorry to be so forward but I got words and I should use them too.

    While what you said has some merit, and this issue deserves some open dialog, I’m hoping the Powers that Be decide to have a open discussion about it, and what you mentioned certainly has some evidence to suggest such an argument, I think a more restrained one to start would be better for all.

    As to Yipyaps statement about mediocre writing, I only read a couple of those specific stories he seems to be suggesting and wasn’t that thrilled by them. I also haven’t been thrilled by many recent award winners either.
    There is certainly Great Writers who are Conservative (I’m Logical myself and see both sides of the fence as a Moderate/But this modern wisdom came from severe self-reflection after being a Hard Core Bush Hating Liberal)
    Dan Simmons comes to mind, He doesn’t put his politics in his books, but when he kinda did, he received death threats for it, I’m speaking of Flash Back, A Novel that was based on a Novella that did a Dystopia story from the age he was writing it in to a bleak future(I’m guessing there are at least a 100 of those being written this year alone) The Rage that Simmons received is obvious in that he dared do it in the time of a Democratic Black President with the incredible irony being that it was based on a Novella in the Reagan/Bush years that took there Administration into a SF future dystopia, Now one was usually highly regarded by the same types that hated the novel, Now that’s kinda a Flashback to a Dystopia right there.

    This, of course, smacks of Hypocrisy and Censorship(plenty called for it) which should be the two twin towers of NoGo Zones to a writer. I remember the hate well because I myself refused to read the book being a Obama Nut Hugger and being a Good Conservative hating Liberal who is well rewarded for my Group Think by the American Media Megaplex. The thing was, Simmons is the Writer of my Favorite Books(Hyperion Series) And I regard “The Terror” as a book that if it was edited down(minus all that World Class Research) to half the size, I have little doubt that it would be mentioned alongside Dracula and Frankenstein as the so-called Classics of Note a Century from now.
    Now after the incredible hypocrisy of the media and the Obama administration(Talk about doubling down) both of which went hand in hand, I slowly began to see more than one side of things and realize a great wool had been pulled over my eyes(With my permission of course) and eventually I suffered from less enough bias to read the Hated Thing, And still being half blind, I thought the writing was good but didn’t care for it much, And a few years after both my eyes were opened I gave it another chance and probably like it too much, the reason being I now respect what he went thru having written it and the fact that it’s a Rarity in modern fiction and therefore a refreshing take on a topic that indeed will get you called Racist(I have to agree with the other commenter here) if you criticized the Black Democratic President.

    I guess he got some of his mentality to be Brave from his mentor Harlan Ellison(A Person I find both Despicable and Respectable) A writer that at least wasn’t afraid when he put pen to paper, which is something we should all be able to take for granted as it is our Fundamental Right and what makes us a Connected People, No I didn’t say you cannot criticize, I’m speaking of the open Hypocritical Censorship that is plainly evident to all who choose not to go wool-gathering for the eyes. I’m saying FlashBack is a Pretty Damn good book that mirrored the Novella in spirit and plot but the trip was totally different depending on political bias and when that bias becomes Hate, Mixed with Death Threats and calls for Censorship because a SF writer Dared to write a Dystopia concerning the future of a Presidents Administration leading to something bad(considering most SF writers and Editors are shopping the exact same thing now) than there is a Major Problem going on and we need to take a step back and look at ourselves before it’s too late, Because I find it planing obvious that many of us have become what we Hate and changing the definition of words will not save us.

    Good Luck to us All


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *