A Just and Lasting Puppy 4/22

A report from the battlefields of science fiction. Some are declaring victory, others are in pain.

Kary English

“On Anger, Power and Displacement in the Hugos (part one of possibly several)” – April 22

Americans hated the [Vietnam] war, so when the soldiers returned home, they displaced their anger onto the soldiers, reviling them, spitting on them and calling them baby killers.

Then, over the course of the next few decades, we grew to understand that we’d made a terrible mistake. So when next group of soldiers came home from a war that many Americans didn’t support, we didn’t spit and we didn’t call names. We’d learned that it was wrong to displace our anger onto the easy target. We said “Thank you for your service” even if we disagreed with the war.

But I don’t think we’ve learned that in the SFF community yet because we’re displacing our anger all over some of the Hugo nominees.

Vox Day spoke our names without our consent, and because of that we have been bullied in the news media and all over the internet. The women among us have been reviled as misogynist men, the minorities have been reviled as white racists, and the QUILTBAG authors and allies have been reviled as straight homophobes. We have been called assholes, bitches, mongrels, yapping curs, talentless hacks and so many more things that I can’t even name them all. I have seen at least one suggestion that all of us should be euthanized, a euphemism and allegedly funny word for murder.

There’s a trope made famous by Anita Sarkeesian that in the game of patriarchy, women aren’t the opposing team, they’re the ball. There’s a contingent that’s going to be upset that I’ve name checked Sarkeesian, but her comment is applicable to the Hugos, too. In the Hugo debate, the nominees aren’t the opposing team. We’re the ball.

We’re being kicked and bullied and savaged all over the internet.

And it hurts.


Brad R. Torgersen

“Why do it?” – April 21

That the field’s betters went full-force destruct-o-matic on me — because I invited the proles to the democracy — was not a surprise. They (the betters) had a media apparatus tailor-made for their bogeyman narrative, and they used this apparatus according to the playbook. Sad Puppies 3 got unceremoniously shoved into the role of Black Hat, and myself along with it.

But it’s worth all the drama, because the betters don’t “own” this field. If they ever did? When David Gerrold holds forth from his Fandom pulpit about “no forgiveness” and all that dire talk, he’s speaking to — at best — a collection of maybe one thousand people. Perhaps the pool of total Keep-Us-Pure-And-Holy-Fans is not even that large anymore? It’s difficult to say. A lot of them are passing on. They’re being replaced by new kids who seem obsessed with identitarian politics — which, not ironically, makes them a perfect fit for the Holy Church of the Peoples Republic of Science Fiction — but the replacement rate may not be enough to make up the difference.

Ultimately, the consumer market votes with its collective wallet. You can’t herd those cats, no matter how earnest and pure your motives. Nobody likes a preachy scold. And right now, that’s pretty much the only face being presented by Gerrold and the sundry opponents of SP3: preachy scolds. Dolores Umbridge!


Adam-Troy Castro on Facebook – April 21

If several of the people you thought you were benefiting by your plan to game the Hugos start withdrawing themselves from consideration, saying they don’t want your help and don’t want to be associated with it, then maybe the explanation is that it’s not at all helpful.

Maybe you’re not right. Maybe you’re not helpful. Maybe you’re not constructive. Maybe the room is trying to stop you before you embarrass yourself further.

Or maybe it’s all of a sign of the great big SJW conspiracy and you’re the world’s last correct man.

They did laugh at Galileo. They did laugh at Einstein. They did laugh at Jonas Salk.

But really: they also laughed at Peewee Herman.


Adam-Troy Castro on Facebook – April 22

“If No Award wins in any category, it will prove the SP3 contention that the Hugos are being gamed, and that the bullies have won.”–Arlan Andrews

Really, Arlan? Really?

It can’t mean anything else?

Like the votership deciding that the slate had promoted a group of largely subpar fiction?

Like the votership rejecting this very ballot as being gamed?

And if a Sad Puppy story wins, how does that prove, by your logic, that bullies haven’t won?


Jeet Heer on Storify

“Sad Puppies, Rabid Puppies, and Personal Taste”  – April 17


Adult Onset Atheist

“The Once and Future Hugo” – April 21

The 2015 Hugo awards are an attack on a secular future because they attack our ability to communicate what we think of a future. Even if that future is far in the past in some alternate universe.

What can be done? If the ballots are rigged using shadow voters then Worldcon should use some of the money that the new voters spent on membership fees, and validate that these new members actually exist. We could call on publishers to ignore the 2015 Hugo awards. A couple nominees, and one presenter, have declined their invitations to participate; we could ask more presenters and participants to refuse to participate. In any convention the exhibitors are a big factor in the event’s success, we could ask exhibitors to send a note of protest instead of a display. We could all also pony up $40.00 and vote for “No Award” (although I am not sure memberships are still open). One of the most damaging things this really shows is how easily Hugos can be bought.  The cost of the 2015 Hugos will end up being less than the marketing budget of a small Finish-based close-to-vanity press publisher like Castalia House.  If the Hugos turn into a bidding war then Worldcon should do something amazing with the extra revenue; like build a space ship or even a future where everyone is really smart and good looking, or just a talking cloud of pulsating colored energy.

I would suggest that Worldcon make a time machine, but I do not trust them to use such an awesome super power for good, and they already have one.  For the past couple years Worldcon has awarded retro Hugos for items published before there were Hugos.  They call them “retro Hugos”.  In alternative 1939 (2014) Ayn Rand’s novella titled “Anthem” was nominated for a Hugo.  It did not win, but solidly beat “No Award” by about 100 votes in the 5th round of voting.  In real 1939 few people read, and fewer liked, Rand’s dystopian novella.  In alternative 1939 it was one of the five best novellas.  I’ve always wondered why, when people time travel back to the beginning of world war II, they can’t go and kill Adolph Hitler.


John C. Wright

“Do presently lose all desire for light” – April 22

A man with a PhD in English holds forth on my hidden neofascism:

“If you got John C. Wright drunk at the bar, you could get him to admit that he thinks transhumanism and black people are ugly for the same reason.”

Actually, I am a teetotaler, and I always tell the truth, and I have absolutely no inhibitions about telling the truth requiring the seduction of wine to overcome. It will come as a surprise to my adopted daughter that I am a racist, I assure you.

Someone who pretends to know me well enough to discern the secret and yet strangely always discreditable workings of my hidden heart would know those two things about me.

This is the way of evil. Evil lies because no one is attracted to evil when its nature is clear. The lie serves only limited use, and must be extended and expanded in order to maintain credibility. The lie metastasizes, and grows to a point when no sane man can believe it any longer.


Geek Lady on The Care and Feeding of Geeks

“On ‘Publication’ As Defined By the Hugo Awards” – April 22

All of these situations constitute “first presentation to the public.”

Other people are publishing serially these days, especially during the NaNoWriMo events. When does that become ‘published’? Serialized fiction is nothing new, but publication is (I think) dated to the compilation of the whole work. But if you’ve posted each section of your novel to your blog as you write it, does it become compiled, and hence published the minute you post the last section?

This is a level of granularity that is impossible to monitor. The Hugo Awards Committee, consisting of mere men, cannot possibly monitor every avenue of publication under their very own definition of what constitutes published. It doesn’t even matter whether malfeasance is involved or not. Things will inevitably fall through the cracks in their omniscience, which makes their definition functionally useless.

Now, I’m a helpful sort of person, and I would be remiss if I sat here complaining about something’s inherent stupidity without providing a possible solution, so here is my idea:

Let date of first publication be set to the first association of an ISBN, ISSN, or registered copyright with a specific work.

This provides a simple, verifiable, and (most importantly) unarguable date of publication. It is accessible to any method of publishing: traditional, indie, or self publication. And it would put an end to the pointless bickering caused by wishy washy subjective guidelines.


Kevin Standlee on Fandom Is My Way of Life

“Worldcon Supporting Memberships Aren’t Pure Profit” – April 22

There are people on all sides of Puppygate who are talking blissfully about the vast sums of money that must be flowing into the coffers of Sasquan, the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention?. By the look of some of the comments, you’d think that the committee must be building Unca Scrooge’s Money Bin on the banks of the Spokane River. Y’all need some perspective. I do not speak with inside information for this Worldcon on this subject. I speak as someone who chaired a Worldcon and had to sweat over a budget.

1. Despite what you may think, a Supporting membership is not 100% “profit” to the convention selling it. You may think, “Oh, it’s money for nothing at all!” (which is the argument people use to say it should be $5 or free), but it does cost the convention resources to service the membership. This is what’s known as variable cost: the amount the convention’s costs go up every time they sell a membership. That includes paper publications and postage expenses for every member who requests them, and that’s not trivial. In fact, for non-US-based members, it may well exceed the revenue realized on the membership. Another cost not considered is what the convention’s payment-processing system charges per membership. There are others. So while in most cases, a Supporting membership does help support the Worldcon by helping to pay some of the huge fixed overhead cost, it’s not like sending them $40 means $40 “profit.”


dfordoom onThe Politically Incorrect Australian

“why Sad Puppies (and Rabid Puppies) matter” – April 21

One thing that both Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies were very careful to do was to play strictly within the rules. Their intention was to demonstrate that the leftists controlling the awards had been bending the rules for years in order to ensure that only leftist-approved authors could win, so it was obviously essential for Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies to be scrupulous about not breaking any rules.

And despite the unhinged claims of the leftists that the Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies were aiming to ensure that only evil white heterosexual patriarchal males would get nominated both the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies included works by women, blacks and even (gasp!) liberals among their recommendations.

The assumption behind both the SP and RP campaigns was that the leftist bullies running the Hugos would hysterically overreact to any threat to their cosy little club. Which is of course exactly what happened. The leftists responded with a vicious hate campaign, with intimidation of moderates and will libelous personal attacks.

You might be wondering why any of this matters. It matters for two reasons. Firstly, the whole affair has been a superb microcosm of the culture wars, revealing in a very clear manner the lengths to which leftists will go in order to keep control. And secondly, while this might be a very minor battlefield on a very obscure front of the culture wars it’s one of the very very few battlefields on which conservatives are actually taking the offensive.


Alex Lamb on The Tinker Point

“On Ostracism” –  April

Is there a solution? I am biassed, of course, but I would propose that the US borrow one from Britain: derision. By which I mean satire, mockery, teasing and all other forms of social reconciliation through mirth. It is not a surprise that social institutions like the Daily Show have become so valued in American society of late. They are badly needed and in short supply.

I believe that both sides in the Hugos debate, and in American society at large, need to set down their sense of outraged affront as rapidly as possible and start mocking each other instead. Mocking and accepting mockery in return. And if we find ourselves able to laugh at our own side from time to time, then we know that the healing has started. And after healing comes the potential for real, cohesive social change.



PZ Myers on Freethought Blogs

“A musical interlude, courtesy of Owl Mirror, on the Hugos” – April 22

[First two of seven stanzas]

They sentenced me to Less-Than-“No Award”-dom

For trying to game the system from within

I’m coming now, I’ll show them “No Award”-dom

First we take their rockets, then we bite their shins


I am guided by a voice from out of Heaven

I’m guided by my hatred of their sins

I’m guided by the beauty of our weapons

First we take their rockets, then we bite their shins




194 thoughts on “A Just and Lasting Puppy 4/22

  1. rcade: Yes, actually. I think it was moldy.

    My point with the random question was this: You can no more prove lockstep voting by simple aggregation than you can prove it by determining how many people drink a certain type of energy drink (or soda, etc). There’s a reason that the sales regions for those types of things vary dramatically across the country, then across regions: incidental demographic distribution. In this case, you have several medium-to-high-profile SFF authors supporting a slate of works; naturally, that slate has a massive amount of exposure relative to any other individual work or slate. Exposure leads to votes… that was kinda the whole point.

    Nick Mamatas: Nobody is arguing that… you’re right, it’s obvious. But the accusations of “bloc-voting” are getting rather tiresome.

  2. One peek at the influence of the slate: Galaxy’s Edge.

    Galaxy’s Edge is a print/ebook magazine—it is print-on-demand. This basically means it has no newsstand distribution. Unlike Asimov’s, Analog, and F&SF, you can’t find it unless you know to look for it. Unlike Tor.com and Clarkesworld, it’s not online for free.

    But POD does let us do something, specifically look up how many paper copies have sold via Bookscan. LSI, the POD printer the magazine uses, reports its sales made through amazon.com, bn.com, etc.

    How many copies did the July 2014 issue, which contains the Puppy-slated and Hugo-nominated story, sell that were recorded to Bookscan: 38. Five of those since the beginning of 2015.

    Of course, many more sold—ebooks both through amazon/Nook/etc and direct, sales at cons, and the like. (The current Kindle rank of the issue is #586,013.) Let’s say it sold ten times as many in e-format—the issue still has a circulation of 500 copies.

    Since so few people were even exposed to that story, and in an issue with Michael Swanwick, Ken and Lisa Tang Liu, and Gardner Dozois (to name some authors people looking to fill their ballots might check out of habit), how did Kary English’s “Totaled” become a nominee? It’s almost a guarantee that prior to the Puppy slate, only a couple dozen people read it. One of them, perhaps, was English’s friend Brad. It was not among the many stories suggested by Brad’s readers here:


    Brad put it on his slate anyway. So did Beale. And that’s what happened. Even with a “book bomb” and a cheap Kindle copy available, the issue has barely moved, and yet it contains a Hugo nominee because of one person’s decision.

    What prior recommendation lists have managed such a feat?

  3. S1AL, that bloc voting occurred was absolutely obvious. Despite the Puppy claims of populism, much of the Puppy slate is obscure. Only Butcher’s book is popular.

  4. If you don’t like accusations of bloc voting, don’t help fill the Hugo ballot with over 50 nominees from the slate of a person who posts these marching orders on his blog:

    “I encourage those who value my opinion on matters related to science fiction and fantasy to nominate them precisely as they are.”

    He wanted that to happen and it did, filling entire categories of the ballot with nothing but his choices. The only way it happens is with the help of 150-250 people who had $40 to spare and wanted to be a sheep.

  5. “S1AL, that bloc voting occurred was absolutely obvious. Despite the Puppy claims of populism, much of the Puppy slate is obscure. Only Butcher’s book is popular.”

    Uhhh… what? Obscure by what measure. Keeping in mind that Correia withdrew, Anderson is NOT obscure. He might be the least obscure name consistently publishing in Sci-Fi today. Chuck Gannon is more obscure, but still a midlist Sci-Fi author. In comparison to a number of authors who made the ballot in the last decade, he’s a rockstar. That left Kloos (withdrawn), who’s still approximately the same rank on Amazon as Ann Leckie for the nominated novel. Sorry, your argument doesn’t hold water.

    Heck, looking at the books that made it, at least 3 are in the #10,000 range, regardless of being on the slate or not.

    “If you don’t like accusations of bloc voting, don’t help fill the Hugo ballot with over 50 nominees from the slate of a person who posts these marching orders on his blog:”

    I still, for the twentieth time, did not nominate.

    Moving on: Sad and Rabid Puppies are different. Get over it. Not that I think VD’s readership is inclined to bloc-vote regardless, as getting any 2 of his regular commentators to agree on any specific issue is like pulling teeth.

    But whether VD suggested that people nominate the list to game the Hugos (already admitted), that’s not an indication that bloc-voting *actually happened*. Indeed, given the data received thus far, it would appear that the disparity between the top nominations in Novel and the less-popular categories was on the order of 3x. That’s not an indication of bloc-voting… quite the opposite.

  6. Obscure by the sales of the novel in question. I didn’t say anything about the authors in the novel category, I spoke explicitly of the *books*. The plain fact is that Anderson’s novel has been out since June 2014 and has Bookscanned fewer than 2000 copies. That is *not* the sign of a popular novel. (It did do pretty well in libraries.)

    By way of comparison, The Three-Body Problem, which you dismissed last week as a unlikely contender based on it coming out late in the year* and being a work in translation Bookscanned over 8000 copies since November. Now Anderson’s book retails for two bucks more, but that shouldn’t explain how the opposition, a hardcover from the same publisher, both of which were excerpted on tor.com, sold four times more in half the length of time. (3BP did just as well in libraries, btw.)

    Anderson did not get a Hugo nomination because his book was organically popular among fans; he got it because his protege and author (KJA published Brad’s collection) put him on the Puppy slate. To a lesser extent, it may have been a “make-good” nomination, which itself puts the lie to any claim that Puppies voted on merit. If a book gets nominated because an author’s prior book should have gotten nominated, that is NOT a merit vote.

    Anderson’s best-seller status comes from his tie-in work: Star Wars, Dune, et al. His original material does not do as well. (This is almost always the case, of course. I’d bet that the plurality of NY Times bestsellers in the field gained the status due to tie-in work.) Star Wars is popular. Dune is popular. Anderson, much less so.

    Gannon’s book also outsold Anderson’s, but it is also a trade paperback at a significantly lower price point. (Gannon also got an extra exposure boost due to the Nebula Awards.)

    Kloos’s book’s Kindle rank is 708. Leckie’s is 6419. I just have no idea what you’re talking about as far as ranking. You don’t seem to know very much about how to measure the popularity of a book. (You certainly don’t have access to Bookscan.) With Kloos, the Kindle score is the most telling because he is published by Amazon’s own SF imprint, and when a book is published by Amazon, they push the Kindle version of that book very hard. They need to, since most bookstores won’t stock Amazon-published titles, which means that printing lots of paper copies would be a foolish expense.

    We could go on. THE END IS NOW, which contained another of the Puppy short stories, is also an LSI/POD play—it sold fewer than 1000 copies recorded by Bookscan. Of course, it’s mostly an ebook seller (Hugh Howey’s primary audience) and I am sure it did well in that format. It also includes work by Hugo perennials such as Seanan McGuire, Ken Liu, Elizabeth Bear etc…and the voters just happened to organically find this fairly obscure anthology and choose to read the vote up the plain-jane story of the single most obscure author in it? Obscure, except, of course to Brad, who follows Writers of the Future very closely.

    THE BAEN BIG BOOK OF MONSTERS is not POD, but still managed to Bookscan fewer than 1000 copies. Again, Baen does very well with ebooks, having cultivated an audience happy to buy direct, which is great. But TBBBM was likely not widely read. And who got the Hugo nomination? An obscure author, though to be fair TBBBF was mostly reprints and thus most other stories were ineligible.

    The Hugo ballot does not look like a bunch of fans came to some conclusion after reading a variety of works in the field, or even after only reading their usual favorites. The Hugo ballot looks like a plurality of voters clustered around a slate that was promulgated by popular bloggers with an audience of people with particular political and aesthetic grudges.

    *Very silly; late-year titles are fresh in readers’s minds.

  7. Galaxy’s Edge is a SFWA pro-paying magazine edited by Mike Resnick. True, it’s only been around for about two years, so it’s more obscure than some – as most new pubs tend to be.

    Current issues (but not back issues) are free online at http://www.galaxysedge.com/

  8. ‘now stop using it like it’s a dirty word’

    It’s only dirty when you say it.

  9. ‘But the accusations of “bloc-voting” are getting rather tiresome.’

    At this point it’s probably just a game of ‘troll the sea-lion,’ to be honest.

  10. *Very silly; late-year titles are fresh in readers’s minds.

    Disagreeing to be polite: late-year titles do run the risk of not having been read widely enough to be nominated for the Hugos.

  11. If you look at…

    Of the nominees….
    Ancillary Justice and Lines of Departure were in the top 25 for SciFi
    Monster Hunter Nemesis (which was declined) was in the top 25 for Horror
    Skin Game and Goblin Emperor were in the top 25 for Fantasy

    Anderson’s book didn’t make that list, but neither did Three Body Problem.

  12. Rek: Even though Nussbaum confessed to some political motivations on Twitter, in the actual blog posts where she made those recommendations, she was not telling her audience to vote on account of politics. So while she took a few steps towards the Dark Side, she hasn’t taken up the red lightsaber yet.

  13. Nick Mamatas: A few points of clarification –

    1) I used the kindle rankings for the most part, as the disparity between paperback and hardcover and kindle was rather silly across the board (no consistency).

    As for Anderson, he was the only person on the whole freaking list whose name I would have known 3 years ago. I doubt I’m the only person who can say that.

    2) I said that 3BP had the problem of being a late release that a lot of people would not have read. That was true, and repeated by several people on both sides of the dispute.

    3) Why are you still arguing the impact point? I’m not arguing that point. As I said, you get several reasonably notable authors with a large internet presence saying “Hey, here’s a bunch of books we recommend for the Hugos,” then obviously those particular works are going to be widely read. You’re also failing to factor in how many of those works became available digitally for free, so that those people with no interest in buying anthologies could find them.

    4) I’m going to say this again so that maybe it sticks: Larry and Brad didn’t convince me to support SP3. I didn’t have the time or reading list last year to even consider nominating. It was the opposition, with the apparent need to lie *incessantly*, that convinced me.

  14. @Seth Gordon
    Agreed, to an extent. As she put it, it’s a “difference in degree”. Someone following her site will probably already be a fellow traveller and Hugo voter, and not need a hard sell.

    Here is another interesting thread: https://twitter.com/NussbaumAbigail/status/585453664740872192

    SP wasn’t the first slate, it has just been the most overt slate. People like Abigail have been campaigning for years and, as she puts it, “There has been a concerted effort to get more women and POCs on the ballot through publicizing the award.”

    I don’t actually have a problem with that. But I do think it is disingenuous to say that SPs were the first slates or the only slates. As she says, in that same thread, “The weakness was always in the system. We drew their attention to it.”

  15. 1. If you’re using the Kindle rankings across the board, then why say that Kloos and Leckie have similar scores when one ranks below 1000 and one ranks below 10,000?

    As far as Anderson’s popularity, that’s on you. Hugo voters do tend to read fairly widely and follow science fiction gossip. If you read a lot of tie-in material or are all tied up in the complex of writing classes and POD plays for students, he’s a major figure. If not, he’s not. This is a true fact, supported by actual sales numbers. You may not continue to disagree with reality.

    2. It doesn’t really matter how many people *guessed* that 3BP would be harmed by its late publication date since in reality it was not. It moved more than 8000 copies in hardcover and did get sufficient votes to arrive on a non-Puppy ballot. One would think that when exposed to actual facts, one would decide that one’s suppositions were perhaps incorrect, but not around here, eh? Eh? You may not continue to disagree with reality.

    3. I’ll take this as an admission that the Puppy Party voted en bloc. So I trust you’ll never ever complain when someone else on one of these threads criticizes the fact that the Puppies used slating and politics to push obscure works onto the ballot in the guise of promoting popular works.

    4. I never said anything about your actions. I will say it’s pretty amusing that you think the Puppies are truth-tellers. They lie constantly, about their motivations, about what they actually said, about the composition of their own slate, etc. I pull out links and sales numbers, and Puppies change the subject in order to continue lying. You are clearly enamored with lying. What you don’t like are so-called “SJW” politics.

  16. Nick Mamatas –

    1) I’m actually not sure. My computer and my phone gave me very different results… Possibly because of which categories I’m searching. When I had originally looked, they were all showing around the 10k ranking. I’ll have to see what the difference is.

    2) I tend to read a wide diversity of books from across a large number of genres and time periods, not specifically within SFF from last year. By that’s not the point. Anderson is well-known to the point that him making it on the short list would be completely unsurprising from an objective standpoint.

    3) Uh, what? Do you know what bloc-voting is? Or are we seeing another car of making up a definition to fit your whims? Do you understand demographic incidentals? So you see how they silly in this scenario? Do you understand the difference between a campaign and a bloc?

    4) Who lied, when, and about what? I’ve seen lots and lots of accusations, but no actual evidence. I’ve also seen lots of underhanded conflation of SP and RP in order to try to make an accusation against one sick to the other.

  17. Woops, clerical error. Ignore the (2) there. Correct response below:

    2) So, 3BP might be the best sci-fi novel of the year, according to people on both sides of the puppies issue and across the sociopolitical and reading taste spectra. That it made the list after 2 other works were withdrawn (and scored below 3? non-puppy novels) doesn’t speak to my original statement that it’s a late-year translation. If it’s actually as phenomenal as people say, one would expect that it would have beaten out Sword handily, yes? So I’m stocking with my original assertion that it was hurt by those two factors (which is certainly an argument for rearranging the awards process a la Eric Flint’s musings).

  18. 1. Boo-hoo. I don’t believe you. Next time, put up numbers or shut up. You use vague generalities and weasel words when you talk about numbers. How long does it take to actually type in the amazon ranks of two books? (Here we are again: Kloos 636, Leckie 6021. See, it’s easy. You didn’t do it because you didn’t look.)

    2. No, not really. The Hugos aren’t the equivalent of handing out gold and platinum records. Plenty of writers are very popular and have never won a Hugo. Sometimes it is because they are terrible writers (Anderson is a terrible writer; his Hugo nominee is actually objectively bad); sometimes it is because they don’t write books people think of as properly SF/F (Stephen King) despite quality and popularity.

    3. I do know what a voting bloc is. The Puppies have created one. They cultivated an audience around a variety of related grudges (e.g., anti-“SJW” sentiment, suspicion of so-called elites, the supposed decline of pulp-influenced fiction), presented a specific slate of works to that audience, and then trained the audience how voting worked, and encouraged them to vote en bloc. Which, given the ballot, the audience clearly did. That not every Puppy voted for every work on the slate doesn’t mean much. We already know a lot about how bloc voting work, and how long coattails extend. Anyone who spends any time looking at Presidential elections knows how it works. The slates are D and R and the “important” office gets the most votes and the most committed partisans; minor offices experience greater or lesser effects. If Obama can bring out the African-American vote en bloc, it doesn’t matter if many black voters still stayed home or if some few voted for Romney or for third-party candidates, and it doesn’t matter if many of them voted for Obama but did not vote all the way down the slates in the D column to the point of voting for the local sheriff. What matters is an obvious measurable bloc in existence that helped put Obama over the top.

    One campaigns in order to build coalitions from blocs. The Puppies did just that. Seriously, how much do you actually know about voting behavior?

    4. Check a prior thread, in which GK Chesterton tried to tell me that claims about “message fic” weren’t part of Sad Puppies 1. I presented links and quotes and then lied about his own claim, and I had to quote that back at him as well.

    Brad lied about his slate being about promoting popular works, as I have already conclusively demonstrated. He’s not mistaken; he knew what he typed. He lied.

    Brad and Larry lied repeatedly about not cultivating Beale’s interest and audience during SP2. They didn’t forget. They lied.

    They’ve lied about the specific influence of Tor Books, tor.com, and the Nielsen Haydens, which they then had to walk back from. (A common guess which I suspect is correct: Tom Doherty cleared his throat in the ear of someone major at Baen, in which he has some money.) All the Puppies can of course tell the difference between Tor Books, tor.com, and “torlings” (the Nielsen Hayden sphere of influence)—when they claimed confusion or sloppiness, they were just lying.

  19. If you’d like to keep ignoring the fact that The Three-Body Problem sold 8000 + copies in hardcover over the course of a couple months, which is an excellent start for any Hugo-hopeful, you may. But I’ll just keep bringing it up.

    Your other question answers itself: 3BP was below Puppy selections because the Puppies voted en bloc for Puppy slate selections. Puppies *now* are saying that they’ve started reading it—they were too busy promoting Puppies to actually read 3BP until now.

  20. Nick Mamatas

    1) Apparently because the numbers are actually different. My computer says Sword is #2,302. I don’t know what the heck is going on, because all of the numbers have changed from the last 2 times I’ve looked, and apparently from when you did. It would appear that a recent price change has something to do with it, as Lines of Departure is now free for unlimited subscribers… beats me. I’ll check all of the numbers again tonight and see if I can figure it out.

    2) Do we really want to argue that an author is “objectively” bad? I mean, we can approach it from that vantage point but most people tell me that writing is subjective.

    3) By the common definition of bloc voting, SP3 doesn’t even come CLOSE. Unless the numbers in the novel category were consistent across the board (with minor variations for personal taste), it’s not bloc voting. If it were, 4 or 5/5 nominees would have made it.

    4) I don’t care what GK wrote. And I have looked back at Brad’s statements on SP3 – for the most part he talked about deserving authors who would never make it in a “normal” year. Popularity has been an appeal more from VD and Correia. This is part of the conflation I was mentioning earlier… though apparently it applies to individual SP3 promoters as well.

    3BP – I’m not ignoring that. It has *nothing* to do with my comment. The book is immensely popular. BUT, and this is the whole point right here, you just acknowledged that it had “2 months” to generate those sales – by extension, that limited time frame also applies to the time it had to generate nominations. That’s my entire point. It’s also supported by the fact that 2 other non-puppy nominees beat it in the novel category, and both of those novels were released significantly earlier in the year.

    Tangent: It would be interesting to examine if release month factors into nomination records.

  21. 1. Amazon does occasionally run things differently according to server, but that makes it all the more important to actually use the numbers you see instead of just saying that they’re close and expecting me to buy it.

    2. People can say that writing (or art) is subjective, but what they mean is that taste is subjective. One can acknowledge that something is good while still disliking it. Nobody actually behaves as though quality is subjective. Here, a picture is worth 1000 words:

    Find me a bunch of people who can’t tell which is better, or who think the one on the right is.

    At any rate, once anyone appeals to subjectivity, any critique of the Hugos or any award is flushed down the toilet. If Brad thinks that bad books are winning the Hugo, how would he know if quality is subjective?

    Anderson’s first several pages zip back and forth between simple past tense and past perfect, ruining POV. (Is the protag thinking these things; is it am omniscient narrator interrupting the action explaining such things?) This is the sort of thing that should have been edited into coherency and it was not.

    3. I have no idea what you think a common definition of bloc voting is. You simply seem to be reverting to your critique of “lockstep” voting. This is how blocs are typically analyzed:

    Do the Puppies not behave, voting-wise, in fairly consistent ways? Puppies voted for some or all of the slate, including such works that appeared in magazines that sold thirty-eight copies—that is, work they were not even familiar with *until* it appeared on the slate.

    4. Brad absolutely has discussed popularity:

    Likewise, the Hugos tend to be a raw popularity contest, for all definitions of “popular” that include “Trending with Worldcon.” Which may or may not have anything whatsoever to do with actual sales success on the open market. And that was Correia’s original point: if the Hugos really are the preeminent award in SF/F how come the Hugos so often ignore works and people who are, in fact, successful ambassadors of the genre to the consumer world at large? What the heck is going on here?

    It’s very silly to insist that we atomize every SP as an individual when they make a point of working together, citing one another’s opinions, and amplifying them via public agreement.

    The problem you have with understanding 3BP is bizarre. A book that sells 8000 copies in six months is much more likely to get a Hugo nomination than a book that sells 2000 copies in eleven months. The Hugo nominations don’t happen on a year-long rolling basis, and people happen to recall better what they’ve read more recently than what they’ve read six, eight, or twelve months prior. This is why many film studios release their Oscar-quality films in late December, just to qualify by having a week in the theaters, and to stay in the minds of Academy voters when the voting begins in earnest.

  22. 1) I’m not super-familiar with Amazon rankings. Next time I’ll post the numbers it gives. I simply didn’t expect them to change that quickly and I’m using my phone most of the day so any differences in categorization can catch me by surprise.

    2) I don’t disagree with you – I find that many aspects are at least largely objective. So, given that agreement, can you give me a few examples other than that of objective issues with Anderson’s work? You said that he’s “terrible,” which seems to be pretty extreme, so I presume that you have several such examples.

    3) We seem to be differing on our understanding of when bloc voting applies. I see this as more of an issue of exposure… very few people read print magazines or anthologies generally. That’s one unavoidable aspect of any slate: exposure. But if you’re options

  23. Silly phone.

    If your options are stories a-f or nothing… That’s not bloc voting. That’s an awareness issue. And the biggest effect of SP3 may have been revealing that glaring issue. Again: see Eric Flint’s musings.

    4) He mentioned it, yes. That doesn’t mean that’s what it’s “about.” At this point I’m not even clear what you’re adding that Brad lied about… There are several comments on popularity from a lot of people, so I may have misunderstood which you are referencing. Can you clarify for me what he supposedly lied about?

    5) 3BP – there are a heck of a lot of differences between Oscars and Hugos. None of those points address what o actually said however –

    A) Two non-puppy nominees beat 3BP, and those works were comparable in popularity to the puppy works and to each other

    B) Books, unlike movies, are often not picked up on release week – especially first-time (?) translations. So the total exposure of 3BP before nominations were received was just going to be lower. That’s it.

  24. Let’s take a look at Anderson’s Hugo-nominated novel, at least the first bit of it:
    Graf 1: a hook! Not bad.
    Graf 2: Backstory. Wait, why doesn’t our hero plan accordingly? Surely the next graf will tell us.
    Graf 3: Backstory for the backstory! And what’s this? Lava-miners? Lava is definitionally expelled molten rock. You don’t need to mine the stuff that already’s on the ground, son. (SCIENCE FICTION, BITCHES!) Plus, what’s the POV here? Are we in our hero’s head, or is this an opinionated omniscient infodump. Whichever it is, you can certainly forget about the question raised in the previous graf.
    Graf 4: So he makes his decision…but wait, not only did he *already* make the decision, he actually *carried it out* in Graf 1! This is like a four-year-old trying to explain what happened on a cartoon. “And then and then but first no wait okay then this raaar I like kazamm!”
    Graf 5: Hey, finally, we’re on our way. This should have been Graf 2. We’re also back in the hero’s head.
    Graf 6: Well, forget being in the hero’s head, chump! Who is telling us this? Are we omniscient again?
    Graf 7: Uh…how much time is passing here? Are we just underway? Has it been days? Is this subjunctive or actually happening in the moment we read it?
    Graf 8: Definitely an omniscient infodump for no reason.
    Graf 9: Cue ripple dissolve, it’s more backstory. But is this what the character is thinking, or are we still omniscient.
    Graf 10: Misplaced single-sentence paragraph, but could have been okay a little higher.
    Graf 11: We seem to be back in the immediate past—how long has the kid been learning the controls? I wish I knew!
    Graf 12: “the boy asked”—Fuck, Anderson can’t even do speech tags right. Do we really need “the boy” here since Seth was IDed in the last graf. Can we not tell that he’s asking since it is obviously a question. I’d be much more interested in how Seth is behaving: is he tentative, excited? Too bad! We get to hear our hero’s mind-whining at length, but Seth is just reading a line.
    Graf 13: Aren’t they already headed away from Sheol? You know, since they left Sheol.

    Anyway, I could go on. The whole thing is a wreck like this. If Anderson wasn’t already bringing money into his publisher thanks to Dune, this would have either been rejected on page one or edited so heavily the poor worker made to fix it would have deserved a ghostwriting credit.

  25. S1AL,

    You’re making things up, that’s your problem. Books are not often picked up on the first week? Bullshit. Most often, the first week of release is the highest sales a book ever gets, unless there’s a massive late review, an award nomination, or movie news. Remember that bookstore returns happen after three-nine months; books had better sell quickly! 3BP had huge buzz as well, including a pre-release article in the Wall Street Journal and a day-of-release article in the New York Times:
    3BP sold TONS of copies in its first week.

    That the Ancillary Sword and The Goblin Emperor also sold many copies and got more Hugo nomination votes doesn’t mean very much, since without the Puppy books, 3BP would have been there, as why know by the fact that it is there now. You can’t just manufacture some notional book—a Platonic first-time novelist and a Platonic translated work—and then say that 3BP must have entered the market the way you *guess* your made-up imaginary Platonic example did.

    Really, a debut novelist has many advantages! No track record, no baggage, and people (especially journalists) like to hear about The New. Given the relative lack of Chinese SF in English, there was a second “hook” for both readers and the media.

    Brad constantly harps about popularity:
    “Since the turn of the century, though, SF/F has slowly been splitting from the audience it attracted — people who picked SF/F up from the late 1970s through the mid-1990s. As with the Futurians — who all mostly agreed that SF/F ought to be a tool with political and social application — the 21st century mindset of two out of every three SF/F professionals has been to apply the literature to the question of real-world social and political concerns. Which in and of itself is not new. The field’s various authors and editors have always been doing this, to one degree or another. But they were doing it with respect for the readership’s expectations. Not in spite of those expectations.”

    “I’ve said it before: there is the massive, astoundingly huge “circle” that is the totality of fandom (small f) and there is the much, much smaller, more insular, and in many cases, out of touch world of Fandom (big f) which proves its love for the field by having a spectacular meltdown when the “wrong” people speak up and speak out.”

    Not only that, it has been his schtick for yeeeeeears. Someone on mediafilter collected a few greatest hits (See the item labeled “The fact that media tie-in books & popular books dont get Hugo noms is a sign of fandom/literary stuffiness.”):

    And the Hugos aren’t the Oscars insofar as the Hugos aren’t necessarily a specialist audience, but it is a group of people who are fairly knowledgable about what they like, and about the field, much like Academy members. There is also tons of links and posts and comments and discussion starting in January of every year—including the Puppies!—because that is when people turn their mind to what they read last year, and people remember more recent material more clearly. (Some people surely do make lists throughout the year, but I’ve never seen it done publicly anyway.)

  26. I’ll wait to I can read the whole thing on a full-size screen before I make a hard judgment, but I’m having no trouble at all following what’s going on here. You call it a wreck… to me it reads like mental wanderings mixed with exposition, which is a fairly common style of writing.

  27. Mental wanderings is generally acceptable in the first person; in the third person, switching between a close subjective POV and an omniscient POV, is the sort of thing that gets rejected on the first page. There’s no internal logic to it, at all.

  28. The point isn’t that there is trouble understanding what is happening, it is that the recitation of events makes no sense.

    One would also hope that the bar for Hugo! Award! Nominee! is a little higher than that ‘It mostly makes sense.’

  29. I don’t know where you’re seeing omniscient 3pov; to me it all appears to be limited.

    Also, because you decided to mock him for a mistake he didn’t make: you do, in fact, mine surface materials. The most common method is strip mining. Or is therefore correct to say that one is “mining lava” when referring to cooled igneous rock at the surface.

  30. If you don’t think the grafs I marked as omniscient are omniscient, since they tell us things the character would not be thinking about, then you just don’t know what omniscient POV is, in the same way you don’t understand what a voting bloc is, and don’t know how books sell.

    “Roamers were free spirits, sometimes deprecatingly called space gypsies, whose clans filled rough and rugged niches that other, more pampered people considered too dangerous.”

    That means that at some specific point in time, while showing his kid course-plotting either the character *thought* this—that is, he is reviewing his own demographic background for no reason—or someone else (an omniscient narrator) is telling the reader for the reader’s sake. Either way it is inappropriate since the former would not occur—much the same way I don’t start thinking “The Hellenes were a brave seafaring race who brought democracy and philosophy to the world…” when I tell my toddler that the Greek word for “water” is ????—and the latter is out of place.

    And no, strip-mining means removing the overburden and then getting what is underneath. With lava, there is no overburden—it is over the surface and is the goal of the operating. Magma-mining, sure. Lava-harvesting, acceptable. If you want to call taking a shovel outside and putting some topsoil in a bucket “mining” too, well, just one more thing you’re wrong about.

  31. Or is therefore correct to say that one is “mining lava” when referring to cooled igneous rock at the surface.

    Well that’s just “mining” at that point then, isn’t it?

  32. Nick Mamatas – If you’re going to dial arrogance up to 11, you reealllyyy need to be correct.

    A) Strip Mining – Contrary to popular belief, the “strip” portion of this technique refers to the method in which the material is extracted – namely, in strip sections. It does not refer to the “stripping” of surface vegetation and materials. Regardless, the heavier elements that would be of interest in lava deposits will generally be at least a few feet below the direct surface, having settled during pre-solidification cooling. Now, in this hypothetical future universe with a split planet, there might be another term for this form of surface mining. There might not be.

    Regarding your assertion about digging in one’s backyard: yes, actually. That would be small-scale mining, assuming you were removing minerals of some value (topsoil doesn’t really count unless your topsoil contains diamonds or something…). It might be landfill mining, if it’s due to the area having been filled with previously-worthless materials.

    For other examples of surface mining, I recommend reading about nickel mines in Australia and various Pacific islands. It’s very enlightening.

    Seriously, you just talked down to the guy who is married to a geological engineer. That was incredibly presumptive and rather foolish given how entirely incorrect you are.

    B) Regarding bloc voting: I don’t like repeatedly quoting the dictionary, but we’ve once again reached a point where it is necessary.

    M-W: “a combination of persons, groups, or nations forming a unit with a common interest or purpose”

    Now, if you mean that SP3 supporters share common interests, then I will grant they are a “bloc” under that consideration. However, once you begin to call it bloc-voting, that indicates that they are engaged in voting patterns DETERMINED by being members of said bloc. In that case you would get something that looks like your link… but we didn’t. Even without knowing which numbers correspond to which nominees, the variation is not a couple of percentage points; it’s actually 50%+ in various categories.

    Hence, not bloc-voting.

    C) Omniscient 3P-POV: Again, you are incorrect. The “omniscient” here refers to the narrators knowledge of other characters thoughts and emotions. Even if you included factual information, the specific knowledge revealed in that paragraph is well within Garrison’s limits. Furthermore, that is actually exposition. You might well criticize the placement of it (I see no issue), but you are absolutely incorrect to claim that it is an example of moving from limited to omniscient.

    In Summary: You foolishly and arrogantly ignored the actual definitions of various words and terms in order to attempt to prove me wrong. You failed miserably. I recommend that you look into the history of mining and related techniques particularly: for the analytical mind, it’s actually quite fascinating. Oh, and don’t use Wikipedia… it’s often wrong on the details.

    Fred Davis: No more than it would be incorrect to say “bauxite mining.” Which is to say: not at all.

  33. As I’ve explained elsewhere, I never believe anything a pseud stranger says about their personal lives during an argument. Sure you’re married to a geological engineer, sure you are, and I’m sure she cuddles up and tells you “Oh, let me explain strip mining to you, hot stuff,” all the time.

    Tell you what: hand over a link to her CV, with an email, so I can double-check with her and then check what she says against five other people with similar CVs, and I’ll take your story seriously. But actually, I won’t since it isn’t necessary—that stuff under the lava a. isn’t lava (it’s magma) and b. what you describe isn’t how the book works! Did you read the book? Did you even read the link? I did. I also did a few searches to see what the heck lava-mining was supposed to be. In the book, they’re not looking to extract the stuff “least a few feet below the direct surface, having settled during pre-solidification cooling”, they are instead:

    literally running barges atop lava flows (p. 19) that skim materials off the top and also zipping along the lava flows on sleds (p. 107); they also navigate around plumes (p. 81) and rejoice over or are otherwise highly interested in lava geysers shooting up into the air (pp. 21, 79, 83, 110, 134, etc.)

    Oh here, right from the link: “Out on the molten sea, one of the five enormous smelter barges began to founder. The crew boss yelled over the open comm so all employees could hear, ‘This is an emergency. Thermal breach in our lower hull!'”

    It’s not even digging in one’s backyard; in this book lava is sometimes water, and sometimes petroleum, as far as exploitation goes. Tell me, in this very interesting Australian nickel-mining operations, does the nickel jump out at people and form lagoons automatically, or do you have to whistle for it first?

  34. “However, once you begin to call it bloc-voting, that indicates that they are engaged in voting patterns DETERMINED by being members of said bloc.”

    Yes, and that it what happened. There is indeed no other way for a short story by a. a writer without an existent fanbase (which also votes en bloc, which is why Bujold is a perennial contender) that b. appears in a magazine with a circulation in the dozens, to make the Hugo ballot. A 50% variation—a number you appear to have made up, btw—still counts as a bloc if non-bloc voters have a wider variation, which they do. (The Latino/a bloc I linked to runs at about 20% variation, not just a few points.) If I can point to a Puppy and say “He has a 50% chance of voting for a Puppy candidate, a 30% chance of leaving something blank, and a 20% for a non-Puppy candidate” that’s a bloc, as I can also point to a non-Puppy voter and say, “He has a 90% chance of voting for anything other than a Puppy.”

    What actually appears to have happened is that the Puppy bloc behaved like most other voting blocs we see. I’ve already described this, but here it is again: most blocs form and vote for the “most important” choices, for example, President. Bloc power is reduced as we go down a slate—there are always more votes for President per district than for local offices, even though the various choices may be on the same page or screen. This is also true of Worldcon voters in general; there are always more novel ballots cast than for other prose fiction categories.

    Finally, you don’t understand omniscient POV or limited POV. Omniscient POV knows everything, including that which characters do not know. (For example, in the book RED PLENTY we get to see how a free radical triggers a character’s lung cancer after thousands of attempts thanks to the character’s cigarette smoking. ) It’s not just a collection of character knowledge. Limited POV is a POV that *follows* a character around on a moment-by-moment basis. Subjective limited reflects the character’s current mental state—we may read his thoughts as dialogue, for instance, or the exposition may reflect his current attitudes (“Bob woke up to another crappy Seattle morning…”) Objective or dramatic limited POV is basically the reader seeing what is happening in real time, as if watching from the audience of a play. A good example of this POV is Hemingway’s “The Killers.”

    In Anderson’s book, it makes zero sense that the character while running away with his son, or thinking about it, or already having done it, or making the decision to have done it, or spending a long time showing his kid how to navigate a spaceship, or setting the second course away from Sheol (all these things happen, in arbitrary order, in the first few pages) for the character to be *thinking the exposition.* That means someone other than the hero has decided to review the reputation of the Roamers for us.

    Exposition cannot be divorced from POV. Elementary errors of POV such as this are what leads to form rejection letters.

  35. A Dark and Hungry Puppy Arises
    The Puppies Themselves
    The War Puppy’s Own
    The Nine Billion Names of Puppy

    Puppy Messiah)
    Children of Puppy
    God Emperor of Puppy
    Heretics of Puppy
    Chapterhouse: Puppy

  36. the Book of the New Puppy
    the Puppy’s Guide to the Galaxy
    the Puppy at the End of the Universe
    So Long, and Thanks for All the Puppies

    Incidentally, would it be possible to release the *full* longlist of nominations, rather than just the most successful thereof? So that everyone could see how many nominations each entry got?

  37. Danny Sichel: “Incidentally, would it be possible to release the *full* longlist of nominations, rather than just the most successful thereof? So that everyone could see how many nominations each entry got?”

    No. The rules allow listing more than 15, but they don’t permit listing any nominee with fewer than 5 votes (i.e., 1-4).

  38. Darn it, @Iphinome beat me to “Wag the Puppy.” Sorry–just working my way through comments.

  39. Incidentally, I have found William Gibson’s titles to be strangely resistant to puppy puns. I wonder what this means.

  40. @rick moen I am _chuffed_ that you pointed that out. Coughlin is a _perfect_ example of what’s going here. Perfect. Precisely the sort of voice that played with the margins to draw away the centers. That is a great use of history right there. Sadly, as I noted in my blog today, I don’t think it ultimately matters to the Hugos, but I think it matters a lot to science fiction and to humanity in general.

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