Puppy and Counter Puppy

A reader of the “Puppy Roundup” says fairness requires a corresponding set of links to sites with differing opinions. I agree.

As I searched the latest posts today, I made sure to clip from the full spectrum of opinions.

We begin with the lead dog —

Brad R. Torgersen

“The fear factor in SF/F publishing and fandom” – April 2

Now, maybe I am naive, but 23 years ago (when I first dreamed up the crazy idea to get into this business) I thought the field was a chummy place with overflowing camaraderie. The anecdotes of authors like Larry Niven certainly made it seem so. Worldcon (the World Science Fiction Convention) was touted as the epicenter of all things hip and cool and fun and amazing in the field. And I believe that it once was that, perhaps at a time when people weren’t so obsessed with correctness. When having a difference of opinion was not a sin that got you sent to the social media guillotine.

But that time is over.

This is the oh-so-correct 21st century. Where one of my colleagues can be moved to tears because she is terrified of expressing her Mormon values, lest her friends and peers in our business shun and shame her for not being correct. Where whether or not you can be successful with a publishing house depends on how chameleon-like you can become, in order to reflect back to the editor(s) the ideologies and allegiances those editor(s) want you to reflect. Where “social justice” has become a banner of immunity, justifying outlandish character assassination, baseless slander, and the ruining of reputations. Think I am kidding? Look what happened to Jean Rabe, Barry Malzberg, and Mike Resnick, when they were punished for using phrases like “lady editor” in a column about the history of the field. And those three are veterans of many decades! If they can get carved up like turkeys — by SFWA, the field’s so-called union for professionals — for the tiniest of perceived infractions, what hope is there for a new person?

 

Mike Resnick in a comment on Torgersen’s post:

Since my experience with the SFWA Bulletin was referred to above — and I think we were treated rudely and unfairly — I have to point out that the only consequence was to SFWA, which “suspended” the quarterly Bulletin and has published only one issue in the past year and a half. How did it affect me personally? In 2013, having just been cast adrift by the Bulletin, I sold 6 books (all to legitimate paying markets; I don’t self-publish…not yet, anyway), and took on the editorship of a new magazine, Galaxy’s Edge, and a new line of books, Stellar Guild. In 2014, I sold 4 more books and a screenplay, edited 6 issues of the magazine, and continued editing the book line. I write this on April 1 of 2015, and I have sold 2 books already this year. I remain the chairman of SFWA’s Anthology Committee. I have been Guest of Honor or Special Guest at 5 conventions in the past two years, which isn’t bad for a supposed pariah. Which is to say, they can -try- to harm you, but if you just ignore them and concentrate on what’s important, you’ll do okay. As for the other two Brad refers to, Jean Rabe is now my assistant editor at Galaxy’s Edge, and Barry Malzberg as a regular columnist there.

 

Nathaniel Givens on Difficult Run

“Hugogate 2015 Edition: Third Time’s The Charm” – April 2

If the victory of SP3 just meant a palace coup where one clique replaced another, that would be nothing to celebrate. And so you can see that I’ve saved the best for last. I’m not a partisan at heart, and the idea of the Hugos moving away from the ghetto of political insularity and becoming more mainstream (at least as far as sci-fi goes) is great. Not everything is coming up roses, of course. Correia, Hoyt, Torgersen, and others seem to think that nothing matters other than fun and popularity. I certainly think enjoyment matters, but I don’t think it’s the only metric that should be considered. I think sometimes important works–works that deserve recognition and awards–aren’t fun or enjoyable in any usual sense. But that is exactly the kind of quibbling I’d like to see happen where the Hugos are concerned instead of this knock-down, to-the-knife, existentialist ideological struggle that is happening right now.

 

Sarah Hoyt in a comment on Givens’ post:

Can’t speak for the other guys, but in my case, oh, hells no, I don’t mean just “fun” works should be nominated. I think COMPETENT works should be nominated though. What is the difference?

Well, take The Left Hand of Darkness for instance. I disagree with its rather obvious message. (Well, I’m a libertarian so the whole communal thing gets on my nerves, and also I was raised in Portugal and the Communal Child Raising thing is not all those who’ve never experienced it think it is) On many levels it is an SJW book.

OTOH it is a GOOD book. It not only works within its universe, but it poses questions that one can think about….

Now, I’d stay away from saying “uncomfortable” books SHOULD be nominated. The most uncomfortable book I ever read was The Man In The High Castle. It’s stayed with me despite my never re-reading it. The same could be said for 1984 and Brave new World. All those are worthy books. BUT if we take “makes me uncomfortable” as “Must be important” we risk nominating the equivalent of Piss Christ or the wall of vaginas over and over again — which arguably is exactly what’s happening.

 

Chris Gerrib on Private Mars Rocket

“Yet Another Round of Sad Puppies” – March 30

So, Teresa Nielsen Hayden has heard rumors that some of the Sad Puppies will be on the Hugo ballot. She’s concerned that some of the voters aren’t voting what they like, but rather a political slate. Since that’s what Sad Puppies accuse the rest of Hugo voters of doing, I’m not sure why they get upset about it. (Well, actually I am sure – nobody likes to be called a fraud. But the whole ‘do unto others as you would have done to you’ seems to be in short supply in this debate.)

“Guns on a Rainy Thursday” – April 2

I grow weary of the Sad Puppies, especially when one of them shouts from the rooftops that he’s so scared he can barely whisper. The butt-hurt is strong in that one.

 

Aaron Pound on Dreaming About Other Worlds

“Biased Opinion – Another Sad Puppy Fails History” – April 2

One of the dominant characteristics shared by Sad Puppy proponents is the lack of historical knowledge they display concerning the science fiction genre in general, and science fiction awards specifically. Sarah Hoyt decided to opine on the subject of the Sad Puppy campaign and talked about what kind of book she thinks should win the Hugos in a post titled By the Numbers.

[Sarah Hoyt] “Take as an example of something that should have won a Hugo but didn’t Barry Hughart’s Chinese trilogy….”

But what of Hoyt’s contention that Bridge of Birds is the sort of novel that should win the Hugo Award? Well, the only way to fairly assess this is to compare it to the other novels that were nominated in 1985, the year Bridge of Birds would have been eligible. When we look to see who won that year, we find that William Gibson won with his novel Neuromancer. And this is the point where the Sad Puppy contentions collapse in on themselves. I doubt you could find more than a tiny handful of people who would seriously argue that Bridge of Birds would have been a more deserving Hugo award winner than Neuromancer. When placed in context, the fact that Bridge of Birds did not win a Hugo Award is not only not surprising, it seems almost like a foregone conclusion. So when Hoyt says it “should have won a Hugo but didn’t” she is revealing her lack of knowledge and research on the subject.

Perhaps might contend that Bridge of Birds should have received at least a Hugo nomination. To evaluate this, one must look to the other nominees from 1985. Fortunately, the Hugo awards have kept good records since the late 1950s, so we know who the other nominees for the award were in 1985. They were:

Emergence by David R. Palmer

The Integral Trees by Larry Niven

Job: A Comedy of Justice by Robert A. Heinlein

The Peace War by Vernor Vinge

Looking at this list, one wonders which book one should kick off of it to make room for Bridge of Birds. The weakest book on the list is probably Job: A Comedy of Justice, but given the pull Heinlein had with Hugo voters throughout his career, it seems unlikely that it would be bumped for a work by a first time novelist. There really isn’t a particularly good argument for moving any of the other nominees off the list in favor of Bridge of Birds – all three of the novels are at least as good as Hughart’s book, and in at least two cases, are probably better. Once again, in context it is entirely unsurprising that Hughart didn’t get a Hugo nomination, because when one looks at the actual nominees, there’s not a good argument for replacing one of them. This is a fundamental truth of the Hugo awards that none of the Sad Puppies seem to understand: There are, and always have been, many good books that never become Hugo nominees for perfectly understandable reasons. When evaluating whether books “should” have won awards or not, if you hold up a book as award-worthy without considering it in the context of its competition, you are presenting an essentially false narrative.

 

Amanda S. Green on Nocturnal Lives

“Real Mature” – April 2

Hmm, so “fandom” is worried about what the fans think are good books. How many of this so-called fandom actually read the books they nominate for the award, much less all the books (titles) that make the final ballot? Or are they simply voting based on who the author is and if they are the “right” sort of author.

 

Steve Davidson on Amazing Stories

“How I’ll Be Casting My Final Hugo Vote” – April 2

I’m going to place ANY nominee that is associated with advancing a political agenda BELOW No Award.  If that means that No Award is my top pick in one or more categories, then so be it.  (I’ll read the works in the voters pack so I can rate the works as #1 behind No Award, #2 behind No Award, etc.)

This will be a default position.  I don’t want to play the Sad Puppy’s game – nor anyone else’s who decides that they can use the Hugo Awards for purposes other than originally intended – so I’m not going to.  I don’t care what side of the political spectrum the voting slate comes from, nor what its motivations are, nor what the agenda is – good, bad or indifferent.  If a work is on a voting slate (NOT an eligibility list) then it goes below No Award.

I’m hoping that others will see their way clear to adopting this method of protesting the corruption of the Hugo Awards.  If you don’t like what Sad Puppies is trying to do (or anyone who adopts similar means), the only successful counter strategy is to not play the game the way they want you to play it.  If you offer up counter slates – they win because you had to adopt their methods, which endorses their methods.  If you refuse to read any of their recommended works on the final ballot, you’re being a hypocrite because you’re “not letting the work stand on its own merits” and are, in fact, advancing your own political agenda by conflating the work with the views espoused by the author.  If you work at trying to get these new fans disenfranchised (by who knows what means), you’re supporting the argument that there is a special “cabal” of fans, an in-crowd and a not-so-in-crowd.  And so it goes through all of the other counter-arguments.

By approaching things this way – by using a default that applies to all works and all individuals, what I’m saying is:  I will not participate in the false choices that voting blocks are offering me.

 

Michael Z. Williamson on The Sacred Cow Slaughterhouse

“Who’s A Real Fan” – March 31

But according to some people, I’m “not a real fan.”

I’ve been an attendee, panelist, artist, author guest, special guest, guest of honor, filker, gopher, badger, I’ve run a dealer’s room. I’ve helped in the con suite while a special guest, because I was up early and they had vegetables they needed cut. What, not everyone takes their hand forged Japanese kitchen knives to a con in case of such an emergency?

Heck, back to my first WindyCon, the consuite needed a plastic drop cloth for the soda tub. I went to my car and got it.  Then the needed double sided tape. I had that, too.  Then they needed a screwdriver.  Exasperated, I demanded their list of material needs, went to my trunk and got most of it-poster board, highlighter, scissors, more tape, bungee cords.  I had trouble with the red marker. I only had black.

No one ever guessed it was my first con.

 

Jason Sanford

“On the Hugo Awards and dysfunctional politics”– April 1

However, to my knowledge no side every talked about totally destroying the other, or risked splitting the genre and possibly inflicting permanent harm on either Worldcon or the Hugos. Instead, different sides debated and argued using the written word. For example, when Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1960, many people were outraged about the novel’s politics and view of war. But these people didn’t try to game the Hugo nominating process to keep Heinlein off the ballot or place their own novels there.

Instead, these authors and fans responded to Starship Troopers with their own fiction and critiques. Harry Harrison wrote his famous 1965 satirical novel Bill, the Galactic Hero in direct response to Heinlein. Joe Haldeman also disagreed with the view of war in Starship Troopers and was influenced by both Heinlein’s novel and Haldeman’s own experiences in Vietnam to write The Forever War, which won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards.

Instead of Heinlein being angry about Haldeman’s novel and starting a campaign to force the genre to see things his way, the famously libertarian author approached Haldeman after the Nebula Award ceremony and said The Forever War “may be the best future war story I’ve ever read!”

 

Kristine Kathryn Rusch

“Business Musings: Controlling the Creatives” – March 25

Right now, a visible group of people in the field of science fiction are engaged in a protracted battle about the genre’s future. Both sides are practicing a nasty, destructive campaign against the other, and not worrying about the collateral damage they’re causing on the sidelines…

I can remember mentally shouting down that writer-friend who told me I shouldn’t write fat fantasy novels.

Every time I started a new fantasy novel, I had to silence his voice. It wasn’t until I realized that I wasn’t writing to please him or the other gatekeepers that I was finally able to silence his voice entirely.

Because being creative is about flying in the face of accepted wisdom. It’s about writing what you want to write, in the way that only you can write it. It’s about taking risks and facing down the critics. It’s about using forbidden words and writing about topics that, judging by your appearance, you should know nothing about. It’s about facing down the bigots who say you’ve only attracted readers because your last name implies a certain ethnicity.

These people who are screaming at each other on forums and in the media? Those folks? They’re not your readers. They’re not the people who act as gatekeepers any longer. They have nothing to do with what you write.

What you write is between you and your keyboard.

When that writing is published, it’s done. You should move onto another project, and let the published one take care of itself.

You will always be a representative of your time. We all currently hold opinions that future generations will see as quaint (at best) or horribly bigoted (at worst). It might not be possible for you, in the position you’re in right now, to know if you even hold such opinions.

If you’re one of the screamers, back away from social media. You’re only alienating your friends and your readers. If you want to change minds, work on writing better fiction. You can explore all the different points of view in your stories and—oh, yeah—maybe you can learn to write from a point of view not your own.

 

Cora Buhlert

“Cora engages in some Hugo kvetching – and a great George R.R. Martin interview/feature” – March 28

However, Kristine Kathryn Rusch also makes a very good point, namely that writers should let one fraction or another’s ideas what is and isn’t appropriate to write about influence their own work. Now this is a point that I heartily agree with (with the caveat that a writer should also do their best not to be blindly offensive to large swathes of people), if only because I know how liberating it was for me to throw off received ideas of what did and did not make for good SFF and simply write whatever the hell I wanted to write.

But as calls for just ignoring the whole Sad Puppy controversy and focussing on one’s own work go, I vastly prefer this series of tweets by Nebula nominee Usman T. Malik:

 

41 thoughts on “Puppy and Counter Puppy

  1. LOL, would have never thought I’d see Gerrib Link to my friend Old_Painless’ “Box O’ Truth”…

    Guess sometimes the Interwebtubess are a small place…

  2. Thanks for these roundups, Mike. It makes it easier for people to try and keep abreast of the froth as the Hugo announcements approach.

    I already decided on waiting to post my own thoughts until that ballot is live, official and out there. My experience of the last week alone, though has given me a lot of food for thought and things to ponder.

  3. I’m glad that many fans consider that the Hugos require consideration of the quality of the material propsed. And that they realize that the Sad Puppies approach depends almost entirely on the quality of the PR attached to the works.

  4. To quote Tad Williams: “I personally can’t get past the assertion “the Hugos are broken” being used in place of “Books and authors who I like are not winning the Hugo.””

    I have no trouble with a group of people thinking that some fictional works are great that I think are exceedingly less than great, or pushing people to read or nominate for awards a certain slate of works they think are great. My objection to the Sad Puppies proclamations are that they insist not only that their chosen works are great and deserving of awards but that other people who prefer other works of fiction and who have nominated and voted for those types of fiction don’t actually prefer that fiction and are really only stating that they like those works, or voting for those works, solely because they are or want to seem to be politically correct.

    Pushing your own preferred works is fine; belittling the taste of other people and paranoiacally attributing evil motivations for their reading or nominating/voting habits are not.

  5. Well, the Sad Puppies seem to be of the opinion that deep down, *everybody* (or at least a majority of readers) shares their tastes, really.

    From there it follows logically that people who nominate or vote for books the Puppies don’t like have to be lying about their tastes, and picking those books for other reasons–probably the gender or minority status of the author.

    It also follows logically that the majority of SF readers will be turned off of SF by these books that aren’t to the Sad Puppies taste. Therefore there is a decline in SFF sales (which hasn’t been demonstrated as far as I know, and which usually is brushed off as “everyone knows”) which must be the result of readers disliking “non-Nugget” SFF, as opposed to, say, being forced away by a reduction in leisure time or discretionary cash, or drawn away by other forms of entertainment, like reading the internet, watching videos, or playing games.

  6. The decline in SFF sales was from a Publisher’s Weekly item. But the Sad Puppies using this is in their diatribes is misleading. The statistics showing the decline did not take e-book sales into account! And the article itself questioned the validity of these statistics because of this point.
    And another thing to keep in mind is that there have been few if any new Star Wars novels since Disney bought the franchise. I’ll bet that SF sales will skyrocket once a flood of new novels begin. I’m a retired public librarian of about three years and I can tell you that the science fiction that circulated the most were the Star War novels. No other authors, with the exception of Harry Turtledove even came close in circulation.

  7. I’d like to give a giant THANK YOU to Kristine Kathryn Rusch for her excellent comments. I will say it again: I am a right-wing libertarian. I was the guy who reviewed Patterson’s Heinlein biography for NATIONAL REVIEW. I’ve written for every conservative and libertarian publication you can think of and some you haven’t. And I say that a) the Sad Puppies do NOT represent me AND b) this screamathon between the left and right HAS to stop.

    To liberals: I am nice to you and respect your views. You should be nice to me.

    To the right: I dare Larry Correia or anyone else to expel me from the conservative movement. I bet the first person to do so is some troll too cowardly to use their real name.

  8. Well, I for one, have been very entertained by all this and am quite happy to do my part to ease canine suffering. In the process, I discovered this excellent blog (Thank you, Mike! – now a daily stopping point) and several new authors.

    I am somewhat amazed by all the wailing… I appreciated Brad’s suggestions, added some of them to my nomination ballot (after I read them!) along with other choices that were not his suggestions.

    I participated in Larry’s book bombs and found some excellent stuff – I was particularly pleased to encounter Kary English. I bought and read ‘Totaled’, loved it, and then bought and read all the rest of her work and put myself on the list to be notified when more is available. (BTW, she also had some thoughts on this here: http://karyenglish.com/2015/04/the-disavowal/ )

    I have no idea how common my experience is – I would tend to think, the norm, but how should I know?

  9. SF sales at PW are not misleading. They are in collapse over the past few years – in comparison to other genres in print, some of which are growing.

    It is as valid a finger to the wind that you will find: it also happens to be supported by the behavior of booksellers: traditionally published SF is little more than a rounding error after its multiple years of double-digit declines.

    Tor is amicably parting ways with John Scalzi, for pity’s sake. You really think they’d let that happen if his hype matched anticipated revenue? Even if he is just burned out and doesn’t want to do SF anymore, Tor would have to be pretty bad at their own business to not figure out some way to keep some sort of contract going.

    Kris Rusch has good commentary, but she’s missing a major point: that the screaming started years and years before Sad Puppies. Sad Puppies is actually a fairly rational response by a subset of writers and readers being screamed at – no, not confronted with people “different than them” – screamed at for being born and having the audacity to disagree with the screamers. I’m just surprised that she’s taking on Sad Puppies when the decline (both in sales and in quality) of the Hugo winners has been a general trend for many years, and the logrolling/promote your way to a hugo issue has been an open controversy for a while now.

  10. To the right: I dare Larry Correia or anyone else to expel me from the conservative movement. I bet the first person to do so is some troll too cowardly to use their real name.

    Why would we want to do that? You sadly mistake us if you think we have any desire to control what you think, say, read, write, or publish, or call yourself.

    We’re just not willing to abide SJW control or even influence over those things. And we don’t claim to represent anyone except those who choose to ride with us. Do what you want, just as we will do what we want.

  11. @xdpaul

    “. I’m just surprised that [Kris Rusch]’s taking on Sad Puppies ”

    I read the post differently, especially in the first paragraph.

    “Both sides are practicing a nasty, destructive campaign against the other, and not worrying about the collateral damage they’re causing on the sidelines.”

    I see that much more “Both your Houses” than “Taking on Sad Puppies.”

  12. VD: As long as the Sad Puppies use a political party slate method for the Hugos I’m afraid that they will only have Pyrrhic victories if any.

  13. Paul, I actually read it the same way, and it is unsurprising: she often views factionalism as a form of egalitarian idiocy. However, the idiocy regarding the Hugos was there long before Sad Puppies, and (and I may be wrong – I read Kris quite often, but not religiously) I don’t recall her addressing the madness of traditional publishers gaming the Hugos before. If she did, it is (normally) the sort of thing she would self-link.

    It is that omission that I was surprised by. Otherwise, it just seems like the screaming started (between right and left) with Sad Puppies. It didn’t. The screaming and shaming and pimping debate started, at the latest, with Scalzi’s public campaigns for himself.

    He addressed it in a ‘zine (Journey Planet) in ’08 (regarding the then possibility (later reality) of his second fan writer nomination – and the dust-up that occurred during his campaign for the first):

    “I do think the benefit of my nomination last year was that it raised a whole lot of discussion about the category and about fandom. I do think fandom and what it
    means to be a fan is evolving just like everything else in science fiction, and I’m really happy that quite unintentionally I was able to be a catalyst for discussion about that evolution. I think we’ll see those discussions continue — I hope they will, anyway.”

    Sad Puppies is really a continuation of those discussions. I see no reason to be anything but envigorated by them.

  14. “Tor is amicably parting ways with John Scalzi, for pity’s sake.”

    Is there a source for this? I can’t find anything from either Tor or Scalzi to confirm it.

  15. Yes, Scalzi himself has said his contract is up. I could be wrong about the amicable part, though. In any case, both sides are publically treating it professionally so far.

  16. “VD: As long as the Sad Puppies use a political party slate method for the Hugos I’m afraid that they will only have Pyrrhic victories if any.”

    I don’t see how that is the case. Let us say that Brad is lying and our true goal is Hugo nominations and Hugo Awards. If you compare the number of Hugo nominations and Hugo Awards the collective Sad Puppies had until 2014, we literally cannot lose.

    Prior to 2014, none of us had any Hugo nominations. Now several of us do. Presumably after tomorrow, more of us will. Perhaps a few of those nominated will even win Hugo Awards.

    A Pyrrhic victory is one that comes at a great cost to the winner. What does this cost us? The respect of our peers? The other side made it clear they did not respect us and or consider us peers years ago. Book sales? Look at Amazon, we are selling more books than ever. Bad press? Bad press is the only press we have ever had.

    We are not guilty of keeping great authors like Iain M. Banks, Terry Pratchett, and China Mieville off the shortlist. We are not responsible for keeping very popular authors like JK Rowling off the shortlist. Look at the historical statistics. That responsibility lies with John Scalzi, Charles Stross, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and their bloc voters.

    Who did Larry keep off the ballot last year? It would have been the active campaigner Mira Grant, but since Neil Gaiman declined, it was someone named Lauren Beukes. Of course, you could also blame the active campaigner Charles Stross for it; his little bloc gave him 120 in novel, 127 in novella, and 118 for Kowal in novelette. There are similar examples of the same little group of Scalzi-associated writers getting the same number of votes across categories dating back to 2008.

    Like us or hate us, but don’t pretend we are doing anything that hasn’t been done before. We’re just doing it more openly and efficiently.

  17. I’ve been away from cons for at least 30 years, and Hugo voting maybe since Chicon 3. All I can do is sadly shake my head. I don’t recognize most author names for the last two decades, but at least I got over it.
    As my friend Bill Geraci used to say, “you’ll get over it, or else you’ll get over getting it”

  18. “Yes, Scalzi himself has said his contract is up.”

    No. he said that after he turns in his next novel he will no longer owe them more books. That doesn’t mean that he and Tor will be parting ways. That just means they will be in a situation where there will be contract negotiations.

  19. Mike: Thank you for the roundup. Educational reading.

    Cat said: “Well, the Sad Puppies seem to be of the opinion that deep down, *everybody* (or at least a majority of readers) shares their tastes, really.”

    Not at all. Of course I’m simply a Melancholy Puppy and don’t presume to speak for those fighting to prevent Puppy-Related-Sadness. I admit, I suspect a large number of readers share human-wave or superversive tastes in SF genre fiction, but I readily admit I could be mistaken and I simply don’t ultimately know.

    “From there it follows logically that people who nominate or vote for books the Puppies don’t like have to be lying about their tastes”

    No, not at all. Even if I were convinced that a majority of fans shared most of my tastes (I am not), it’s plain that the field of most genres, especially one as intellectually and thematically diverse as SF will yield people with sincerely differing tastes. Moreover, those most moved to vote for the Hugo, including Sad Puppies, might have tastes considerably at variance with the larger group of readers.

    A good example of the actual superiority of some recent Hugo nominations over some of the past: Style.

    “The Ink Readers of Doi Saket”, a nominated short story in 2014 was stylistically quite lovely. Superior stylistically to most SF that I love. Overall I wasn’t a fan, and found it dreary in content but there’s no denying impressive stylistic elements. Few Puppies writers are as strong stylistically, IMHO, and I can see a non-Puppy justifiably seizing on this as a complaint.

    To continue the idea of good non-Sad Puppy work, the best graphic story winner in 2015, Time, (XKCD) was produced by someone whom I believe to have quite narrow provincial and legalistically American views on Free Speech and liberty. Yet it was a remarkable and brilliant work.

    I admit to considerable surprise that the field this year is being yielded so early to Sad Puppies: rather than read and judge works on their merits, some figures are urging arbitrarily voting all Puppies nominations below No Award. Were this to happen, I would be considerably amused, as, I suspect, would Larry Correia et al.

    Chag Sameach, Happy Easter, or have a good weekend to you, as you prefer.

  20. VD: What I meant by Pyrrhic victory is that authors on the Sad Puppies slate may get nominated but they probably will never win. There have been some excellent novels this year. And yes some of them are on the Sad Puppy ballot. But what excellent novels are going to be let off because of block voting? And that is what is getting a lot of people angry.Not just conservative or libertarian fans have been disappointed with the Hugo nominees for the past decade or so. But again, the block voting is forcing the issue. I think a better and less decisive strategy for the Sad Puppies is to drop the block voting and start promoting stories and novels they like throughout the year and not wait until the nominating process draws near. And there’s one more thing that nobody seems to notice-many of the short fiction nominees are stories that were free to read on the Internet. Perhaps Baen Books could do the same as Tor and offer new stories for free every month. Or there could be a Sad Puppy friendly monthly magazine where all the stories are free. But I think that I will just stop reading anything about the Hugos until they’re enough. Life is stressful enough without getting stressed about something you love.

  21. That doesn’t mean that he and Tor will be parting ways.

    Technically, this is true. I will be surprised if he doesn’t make the jump to mainstream publishing, which is what Lock-In (content) seems to indicate he’s got his eye on. We’ll have to see. I will happily admit I am wrong if he actually re-signs with Tor. I find such a scenario unlikely: they clearly have overinvested in him to disappointing returns.

    It isn’t that his work doesn’t have value – it just doesn’t have the market value for the amount they spend on him. Tor isn’t in a position to push loss leaders that are slowing down, not speeding up. Right now, you’d have to question their business sense – and Scalzi’s, actually – to a re-signing. It would mean that one party or the other was taking a complete bath.

  22. Mr. Beale: As long as you and Correia and the rest of the Sad Puppies make clear that you are speaking for yourselves and not for “all conservative fans,” you are free to talk and I am free to ignore you.

    I bitterly resent the implication that conservatives are lemmings who leap at your or Correia’s command.

  23. Martin Wooster: you might want to consider who, exactly, is making that implication. The purported politicization of the slate didn’t come from the SP side. Bread Torgersen is not a conservative.

  24. Additionally, Vox Day is not a conservative, and I don’t know how you could possibly mistake him for one.

    Don’t worry Martin. I believe that you are a devout non-conformist…just like everybody else.

  25. “I find such a scenario unlikely: they clearly have overinvested in him to disappointing returns.”

    And your basis for this is? Given that your previous claim that they had decided to split was not based on anything of substance, I’m not really inclined to believe you have any kind of insight on what Tor has invested in Scalzi, or what returns it has received.

  26. “Additionally, Vox Day is not a conservative, and I don’t know how you could possibly mistake him for one.”

    Correct. Day is a reactionary, leaning towards fascism who pretends he’s “libertarian”, because its a convenient lie.

  27. I’ve read about this stuff two or three times the last couple of years, and for the most part I just don’t care. I still read a fair amount of stuff that would be considered SF or fantasy, but a Hugo award long ago stopped being a major part of my purchasing decisions.

    This whole issue is probably important to the folks fighting it out, but from where I sit it’s not even interesting as a train wreck. It’s more like bumper cars in an amusement park pavilion. The cars and collisions may seems big to the drivers, but that’s because both sides are pretty small potatoes. When it’s all done with, none of those cars are leaving the pavilion. In the meantime, the amusement park is going dark and the participants are missing the really cool stuff happening out on the real roads.

  28. “What I meant by Pyrrhic victory is that authors on the Sad Puppies slate may get nominated but they probably will never win.

    Sure. In that case, you may well be right”

    “There have been some excellent novels this year. And yes some of them are on the Sad Puppy ballot. But what excellent novels are going to be let off because of block voting? And that is what is getting a lot of people angry.Not just conservative or libertarian fans have been disappointed with the Hugo nominees for the past decade or so. But again, the block voting is forcing the issue.”

    I suppose we’ll find out. But after REDSHIRTS, frankly, I don’t give a quantum of a damn. Personally, I thought it was an indication that we ought to blow the whole thing up and start over. But more moderate heads prevailed. Believe him or not, but Brad genuinely wants to fix the Hugos by pulling them out of the claws of the Torlings.

    “I think a better and less decisive strategy for the Sad Puppies is to drop the block voting and start promoting stories and novels they like throughout the year and not wait until the nominating process draws near.”

    Oh, I very much doubt that. I think you severely underestimate the anger at the SJWs across the spectrum.

    “As long as you and Correia and the rest of the Sad Puppies make clear that you are speaking for yourselves and not for “all conservative fans,” you are free to talk and I am free to ignore you.”

    That seems reasonable to me. I have never claimed to speak for anyone but myself. The Dread Ilk choose to follow me, I don’t make them or demand anything of them. I offer them nothing but my ideas.

    “I bitterly resent the implication that conservatives are lemmings who leap at your or Correia’s command.”

    I don’t know why they would. It’s not an implication I have made. If you’re resentful about it, I really don’t think I would be the correct target.

    “Correct. Day is a reactionary, leaning towards fascism who pretends he’s “libertarian”, because its a convenient lie.”

    The only person lying here is you. There are 11 years of my nationally syndicated op/ed columns on WND. I have been named as one of the 25 most influential libertarians on the Internet. When I lived in the USA, I voted Libertarian. And on the two major issues where I part company with the Libertarian party, it is on libertarian grounds that I think the party has failed to correctly think matters through.

    Considering that I personally translated the Manifesto of the Facist Struggle from the original Italian and read several historical works on Fascism that are not available in English, I suspect I know considerably more about Fascism than you do. And I am no Fascist or fascist.

  29. From KKR “Both sides are practicing a nasty, destructive campaign against the other, and not worrying about the collateral damage they’re causing on the sidelines…”

    I am rather curious as to what collateral damage she thinks is occurring to writers because of the SP campaigns. The only possible damage I can see occurring is people getting attacked for having been nominated on the SP3 slate. Given that the SP3 post was rather clear as to the purpose of SP3 and how it was different from SP2, this means that any attacks engendered by outright falsehoods and hyperbole of the opposing side are in fact the fault of the opposing side.

    To me, allowing the irrationality of others to primarily influence your willingness to engage on an issue is pure cowardice. And, arguably, anathema to the spirit of SF/F fandom itself. Luckily, as she herself points out, there are a multitude of venues through which to publish, thus largely alleviating the cause of the fear in question. That it is yet another bag of flaming poop on the gatekeepers’ doorstep is merely an amusing bonus. As such, I am unsure where the advantage lies in stopping to any of the SP crowd. Even if everybody else starts proposing their own slates and campaigning for them, the SP crowd will have achieved their actual objective. At this point the only way the anti-puppy crowd ‘wins’ is by turning the Hugo into a pathetic version of the Oscars without the media hype.

    @ Ziebarth – The spike promotions and Book Bombs that were part of SP3 are more likely to catch a substantial amount of people on Amazon and result in a larger long term following than steady promotion of a book in dribs and drabs. There was, not to put too fine a point on it, an argument over those very things on this site with the opposing side accusing the Book Bombs as being cheating and an illegitimate way to capture a following as well as a side discussion of popularity and quality.

  30. The spike promotions and Book Bombs that were part of SP3 are more likely to catch a substantial amount of people on Amazon and result in a larger long term following than steady promotion of a book in dribs and drabs.

    I suppose this would be a bad time to mention that Amazon recently changed its sales ranking algorithm to penalize sudden spikes in sales…

  31. Lately, I’ve been having discussions with people in various internet groups about SF. The impression I’ve gotten is there are readers who seem to fell that SF without action, starships and a triumphant humanity overcoming all obstacles is somehow a left-wing plot, aimed at convincing us that the human species is degraded, and worthless, and it probably all started when we stopped admiring our school’s football team captain. I can never get these guys to categorize just what it is that they *do* want in SF, since they’re quick to avoid cliches that would make them look like neo-colonialists who want stories about white Americans dominating the galaxy. Yet I can’t quite shake that suspicion that it’s exactly that sort of Cambellian fiction they want. That would be okay with me, since there’s plenty of that sort of thing out there for them. What I can’t figure out is why they so resent science fiction written for other readers, that is not about conquering aliens or nature in an unstoppable march to the stars? Just don’t read it, I said. (I don’t go out of my way to read SF that speaks specifically to feminist or gay issues, or confuses the narrative order, or dabbles in psychedelic drugs as the basis of reality, either. But I have the sense to read what I do want to read instead of complain about the state of SF.) If that isn’t the issue — that “leftie” SF just exists — the only other bone of contention is that the complainers are put out because as much “left-wing” SF sells well and wins awards. They believe “right-wing” SF should be doing better. That’s were the illogic comes in, I think. Since the sort of pulp SF some readers like is certainly available, it’s lack of sales success undermines the entire argument. “Left-wing” SF sells well because it *is* what the readers want, and it wins awards because it sells well. If readers wanted more space mercenaries or asteroid miners, wouldn’t they boost the sales of those books, and vote for them on the Hugos. Since we don’t see the sales or votes, QED these books are not the most popular. I’m willing to suggest that a lot of people who might have read that sort of SF in the past, are today watching The Avengers, Star Wars or Guardians of the Galaxy. It seems to me that modern film is a better medium for that sort of thing.

  32. Complete and total strawman, Taral. A Native American, a hispanic, two women, and a liberal white man are currently the chief proponents of Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies. You clearly have no idea what you are talking about.

    I don’t object to Quantum Rose or Redshirts existing. I do object to them being obviously gamed into their respective Awards and promoted to the public as the best of our field.

    It is embarrassing and ultimately detrimental to the field. Hardcore fans of SF know to ignore the awards entirely, as the quality stuff is there if you know where to look. But casual fans or potential new fans who saw – say – Interstellar and subsequently sought out the best of the field will be highly unlikely to go any deeper if the recent batch of award-winners are believed to be generally considered the best of the year.

    They are not. Yes there may be a handful of acolytes for books – the same folks who think Wheel of Time is a masterpiece – but the Hugos have been given to the acolytes, just as the Nebulas had before them. These cabals of political voters (and their trad-pub puppet masters) have consistently failed to place the best of the genre before the general public in lieu of bloc voting for a nasty string of work ranging from the fine to forgettable and in some cases downright atrocious.

    This is not a secret. This is not disputable. Something has gone wrong in SF: the sales show it, the customer reviews show it, the bookstore inventory shows it, and the award lists show it. And they have for years, if not decades.

    This is why the growth of SP is inevitable. Years ago, most reasonable people could mistake the decline of SF (in real numbers) for a hiccup, a string of off years, or in some other way a trend that would correct itself.

    We now have begun to realize that SF is not self-correcting, that it must be mastered, defended and promoted in ways far superior to the failures of the past dozen years.

    And that its corruptors and manipulators must be defenestrated.

    Likely symbolically.

  33. “I suppose this would be a bad time to mention that Amazon recently changed its sales ranking algorithm to penalize sudden spikes in sales…”

    And despite those changes, in the recent SP book bomb two books that had already sold thousands of copies previously jumped to #359 and #411 on Amazon. In other words, a single Sad Puppies endorsement is around one-quarter as valuable as being one of Amazon’s promoted books of the day, only it doesn’t require dropping the price.

    Imagine how those books would have ranked BEFORE the changes you mentioned.

    All these snarky little comments tend to show is the way your side continues to completely underestimate the basic competence of Sad Puppies.

  34. Larry Correia speculated that Amazon had recalibrated its ranking algorithm when he ran the numbers from the first Sad Puppies book bomb. It can’t come as a surprise anymore.

  35. Taral Wayne: “Since the sort of pulp SF some readers like is certainly available, it’s lack of sales success undermines the entire argument. ‘Left-wing’ SF sells well because it *is* what the readers want, and it wins awards because it sells well.”

    I’m not aware of any sales figures myself, but I’d be willing to bet that most of the 3,500 people who voted for Hugos last year had no clue about the whole Sad Puppy campaign (or the anti-Sad Puppy campaign for that matter) and only voted for what they liked best among the nominated works. I’m happy that Ancillary Justice was what readers wanted.

  36. Larry Correia speculated that Amazon had recalibrated its ranking algorithm when he ran the numbers from the first Sad Puppies book bomb.

    Ah. I’d only seen it talked about in the tech press and thought it would be new information to most readers here.

  37. Taral: For a number of years I have been re reading my books (which number in about five thousand), and often I will get a best of the year omnibus. I will check into some of the new writers’ work. So I haven’t found too much interest in much Sad Puppet material, except it seems overly ripe for some kind of satire. So far the sniping and bickering have not produced any quality bon mots as the Algonquin Round table had, and I don’t expect it ever will.
    I did mean “sad puppet”. They have someone pulling their strings.

  38. @xdpaul
    Again I have to repeat that the SPs commenting on a 7% loss in SF and its causes is misleading at best.

    This is from Publishers Weekly on 2014 Adult Fiction sales.

    Action/Adventure -15%
    Fantasy -13%
    General Fiction -15%
    Occult/Psychological/Horror -26%
    Religion -15%
    Romance -11%
    Science Fiction -7% THE LEAST DROP IN SALES OF GENRE FICTION AND SLIGHTLY LESS THAN ALL ADULT FICTION
    Suspense/Thriller -9%
    All Adult Fiction -8%

    Yes, I did leave off the genres with increased sales , but they were mostly in the low single digits. Although I was surprised that Westerns were up 7%.

    And the big story from juvenile fiction is:
    SF/Fantasy/Magic +48%
    And as a recently retired librarian I can tell you that a real lot of juvenile fiction is “SWF” friendly in its tone and content.

    Now, of course, there will be discussions on what these statistics mean. But in light of the drops in almost all genre fiction to just blame the “SJWs”, Scalzi, Stross, the Literati, Neilsen, Tor etc. is ridiculous. Pretty much across the board adults are reading less fiction.

    And if these statistics don’t count e-books (Amazon is very cagey in sharing their sales statistics), nobody really knows what the heck is going on.

    And here are the top 10 SF titles for 2014, I believe. I’m not quite sure if this list which was on the same webpage as the 2014 genre statistics is cumulative or just this week’s best sellers.

    1. Weir: The Martian
    2. Mandel: Station Eleven
    3. Cline: Ready Player One
    4. Schreiber: Star Wars-Maul Lockdown
    5. Herbert: Dune
    6. Miller: STNG: Takedown
    7. Card: Ender’s Game
    8. Adams: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
    9. Herbert, Brian: Mentat of Dune
    10. Crichton: Jurassic Park

    And my source for this is the ABI/INFORM database that I accessed from the Chicago Public Library, which sent me to the Publishers Weekly website.

  39. After the way things are going I suppose that this doesn’t matter. But the top ten list I mentioned was the current top SF titles not the top SF titles of 2014.

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