Portrait of the Artist as a Young Puppy 5/12

aka The Puppy Who Was Death

On hand for today’s roundup are Jason Sanford, Lyda Morehouse, Martin Wisse, John C. Wright, John Scalzi, Brian K. Lowe,  Damien G. Walter, Fred Kiesche, Rebecca Vipond Brink, Megan Baxter, Lis Carey, Brian Niemeier, Lisa J. Goldtstein, James Weber, Keith “Kilo” Watt, The Weasel King, Alexandra Erin, Sonya Craig, Gabe Posey and Christopher Chupik. (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Steve Moss and Paul Weimer.)

Jason Sanford

“An engaged fandom means “No Award” won’t kill the Hugos” – May 12

No Award won’t mean the death of the Hugos

With voting for the Hugo Awards now open I’m hearing through private messages and on social media how many people have voted. Based on these comments it appears “No Award” is poised to do very well. In fact, I’d be surprised if No Award didn’t win several categories, notably the Novella, Novelette and Short Story categories, along with other categories where the Puppy slates make up all the nominees.

Despite what the Puppies will try to say if No Award wins, this doesn’t result from some organized attack on their slate. Instead, most Hugo voters appear to be reading the nominees and deciding that many of them are not worthy of being on the final ballot. A smaller group of voters appear to be voting No Award because they dislike how the Hugos were politicized.

One of the strengths of the Hugo Awards has always been how voters punish stories and works which were placed on the ballot through political maneuvering and campaigning. We saw this in the 1987 Hugo Awards for Best Novel, where Black Genesis by L. Ron Hubbard made the final ballot through political campaigning. End result: Hubbard’s novel placed sixth in the voting, behind No Award.

We appear to be seeing a repeat of what happened in 1987. And the good news is that a more engaged fandom, as indicated by Worldcon membership numbers, not only means that people are rejecting PuppyFail, they’ll also make it harder for the Puppies to game the Hugo nomination process in future years. That means any threats to destroy the Hugos if No Award wins will turn out to be meaningless.


Lyda Morehouse on Bitter Empire

“On Sad Puppies, The Nebula Awards, And Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation” – May 12

There has been some talk in the science fiction community that the next target for the Sad Puppies might be the Nebulas.

For myself, I highly doubt it. First of all, even though it takes far fewer votes1 to get on the Nebula ballot, the Nebulas are nominated and voted entirely by the members of SFWA, the Science Fiction Writers of America. Talk about insiders. This is actually a fairly exclusive group of people, and a small enough that a lot of us know one another personally.

Thing is, it’s actually fairly difficult to become a Nebula voting member of SFWA and, possibly more importantly if you believe the “Sad Puppy Data Analysis,” they would be bereft of their highly effective Rabid Puppy ally, Vox Day, because he was one of two people, EVER, to be forcibly kicked out of SFWA.

Similarly, on a personal level, since they changed how SFWA accepts nominations, I find it kind of baffling to actually do the process of nominating. There are passwords and forums involved now and I am an old lady who can’t always figure out Twitter. I used to only have to shoot an email to the Nebula coordinator with the pertinent info from a member-valid email. While I miss the old way, you can see why the change. The Nebula nomination process is far more protected from hack this way.

That being said, the Nebula is also the science fiction version of the Cannes Film Festival. The Nebula nominees come out significantly sooner than the Hugo and often end up reflecting the current science fiction gestalt, if you will.


Martin Wisse on Wis[s]e Words

“The Baen fallacy” – May 12

Eric Flint is one of Baen’s old guard of authors, somebody who has been writing and editing for Baen since at least the nineties. He’s also one of the more insightful of Baen’s stable of authors, being an old lefty rather than a rightwinger, though it’s only noticeable in his fiction because his gun toting heroes defending the American way of life are unionised. Whereas a Larry Correia or Brad Torgersen show little evidence of thinking things through, acting purely on rightwing reflexes, blaming everybody else for their failures to get Hugo nominations, seeing conspiracies in the everyday actions of fandom, Flint thinks much more nuanced and sophisticated about why the Hugo Awards have failed to reward much of the sort of science fiction Baen publishes. Unlike them, he isn’t so much looking for excuses as for looking for explanations. He’s still wrong though, but he’s interestingly wrong and he provides as clear headed a defence of what I like to call the Baen fallacy as is possible….


John C. Wright

“An Answer” – May 12

“Then came the Rabid Puppy/Sad Puppy debacle and I was heartbroken. Not because your beliefs and mine are so different, but because you and your fellow Puppies were so *rude*. You, Vox, Day, and Torgenson tore into the heart of fandom out of sheer cussedness and that’s it. Your arguments for nominating a slate and violating the unwritten code underlying the Hugos were irrational and make no sense outside of the right-wing ‘reality bubble.’


Rob Thornton Catonsville, MD”

It is a hard letter to read. I aim to please by readers, and when I fail, the fault is mine.


John Scalzi on Whatever

“Reader Request Week 2015 #4: Bullies and Me” – May 12

Well, with regard to the Puppies specifically, I don’t think they’re trying to bully me. They just like to use a fictional version of me as a poster boy for Everything That’s Wrong With Science Fiction, and occasionally the poster boy for Sure We’re Doing a Shitty Thing But This Guy Kinda Did It First If You Squint Real Hard, and always as the poster boy for WAAAAAAAAAAAH SCALZI WE JUST HATE YOU SO MUCH AND WISH YOU WOULD DIE. Which is different than bullying. There’s not much to do but snark on that, honestly. They keep at it, I suppose, as a community-building activity. Which, you know. I guess is nice? None of their rationales for slating holds up to even casual scrutiny but at least they’re united in their dislike of me? Bless their little hearts. I wish them joy.


Brian K. Lowe

“Friends with Enemies” – May 11

I am what some call a Social Justice Warrior (“SJW”). Not that I crusade for liberal causes; other than voting and contributing to a few, I don’t get much involved. But the Sad Puppies and their allies would call me an SJW for that alone, or because I believe awards should go to stories that are more than just popular, or for a hundred other reasons. Fine. Call me what you want. It just shows how short-sighted such labels are, because in the end, I read the same stuff you do.

The Puppies put Jim Butcher on the Hugo ballot. I love Jim Butcher’s books. Larry Correia would have been on the ballot if he hadn’t taken himself off. I enjoy his books a lot. Most of the other Puppy offerings I am unfamiliar with, but my point is made. They want books that have spaceships on the cover to be about space exploration and high heroics. Well, guess what? So do I. You want proof? Read “The Invisible City.” It’s about a guy who ends up in a (mostly) invisible city. Truth in advertising. End of plug.

But I also believe that the influx of new authors who are not white males is a good thing. The only thing wrong with saying, “F/SF is a wide field with room for all kinds of authors and stories,” is that it implies we’re still writing and reading in a ghetto….




Fred Kiesche on Bernal Alpha

“The Nuclear Option (My 2015 Hugo Vote)” – May 3

I spent a lot of working on my list of nominations of works worthy of a Hugo Award that appeared in 2014. However, unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, you’ll know that most of what I nominated did not make it.

There has been a lot of talk about how to vote. Well, long story short: You (Puppies, Either Stripe) have your opinion and some of you (Puppies, mostly Rabid) have made your threats. You dug your grave. Go lie in it. I may have voted for some of your nominees in the various categories such as Best Professional Editor (Long Form) if you hadn’t gone the route you went. I have nominated some of your names in the past; I did so again this year [specifically, again, Best Professional Editor (Long Form)].

But…you stand for something I do not. Those nominees who have not dropped from your slate have, in my opinion, embraced your philosophy. So, no vote, no matter how I may have felt previous to this.


Rebecca Vipond Brink on The Frisky

“Kirsten Powers Might Be Right About ‘Illiberal’ Feminist Rhetoric” – May 12

I’ve been thinking a lot about what George R. R. Martin said about the Tone Argument in regards to the Hugo Award takeover a few weeks ago: “I am against punching and kicking. Up, down, or sideways. No punching here, please.” The idea that we should “punch up” becomes less and less appealing the more we classify as “up,” the more we classify as “power” to which we need to “speak truth,” and the more hatred and vitriol we excuse as “truth-speaking.” I know for a fact that I’m going to be archiving my blog and starting fresh, because I regret some of the sentiments I’ve employed in order to make a point (I’d be lying if I said I didn’t regret some of the sentiments I’ve employed on The Frisky, too). And I’ve been fiddling with ceasing to call myself a feminist, too, because I really don’t want to be associated with the loud minority who tend to be cruel, censorial, and proscriptive.


Megan Baxter on Smorgasbook

“Hawksbill Station By Robert Silverberg” – May 12

Look at the covers above. They may not tell you everything about the book, but if the Sad Puppies narrative is to be believed, they’ll be a straightforward adventure yarn, instead of harbouring something more subversive. You hear that, Silverberg? You guys didn’t write anything more complex than that, right? Wait, what? These books are about the criminalization of left-wing dissent, and the exiling of left-wing would-be revolutionaries to the Pleistocene, on a one-way time travel trip? They’re jam-packed full of references to Marxism, Trotskyism, debates over non-violence versus violent revolution, and the tactics and long-term strategies of the revolution?


Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Totaled by Kary English” – May 12

Another 2015 Hugo nominee from the Sad Puppies slate. Quite competently written, and there are some interesting ideas. Maggie Hauri, a research scientist in brain/computer interface, is killed in a car accident. Due to the research rider on her insurance policy, her still-aware brain becomes a research subject in what was her own lab.


Brian Niemeier on Kairos

“Transhuman and Subhuman Part III: Whistle While You Work” – May 11

The third essay in John C. Wright’s Hugo-nominated collection Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth tackles the enduring question of why small animals help Snow White with her housework.

Yes. It really does.

The author formulates his answer in terms of Aristotelian metaphysics.


Lisa J. Goldstein on theinferior4

“The Hugo Ballot, Part 7: Novelettes” – May 12

The dialog is a weird combination of fake Western, epic speech, current catch-phrases (“Made in the shade”), and even Yiddish.  This could be the result of a great mixing of languages among Terrans who have forgotten their roots, but the sudden switches in style kept making my head spin.  “Ever seen a kid with a toy what he ain’t playing with it, then some other kid comes along and picks it up?” Teo says.  “Give Bowman his space and he’ll beat feet.”  Just a few minutes later his speech becomes formal, epic, complete with references to himself in the third person: “Very strange was that house-within-the-hill… Then, seeing the bravery of Teodorq and his stalwart companion, the headman of the shuttle summoned them to her council chamber. This was Jamly-the-ghost.”  Anya points out that ghosts can’t be seen, and Teo replies, “Duh, they’re invisible?”


James Weber on Alligators and Aneurysms

“Ancillary Justice: Scandalously Good” – May 12

Basically, Ann Leckie was out sick the day they went over pronouns in elementary school — or rather Breq, the main character, was sick that day — and so every single one is a she, even when the character speaking, being spoken to, or being spoken of, is not a she.

Also, Leckie decided: “Stories don’t start at the beginning and move straight through until the end. They start at the beginning and the middle at the same time. And then they race to see who can get to the end quicker. But they also perfectly complement one another so that comprehension of what is actually going on can only happen with both.”

And I’m convinced that this story could not have been told any other way. I wish I could have been there the moment she decided that’s how she was going to do it. I imagine she couldn’t wipe the smile from her face. I imagine that anyone standing around was like “Are you OK?” And she was like “Oh I’m way better than OK. I’m amazing.”


Keith “Kilo” Watt on Making Light

“Discussing Specific Changes to the Hugo Nomination Election: A Post Not By Bruce Schneier”  – May 12

After a couple thousand posts, here’s the current proposal, summarized in this comment by Keith “Kilo” Watt.

[Plain-Language Explanation of SDV-LPE]

Least Popular Elimination (formally called “single divisible vote with least popular eliminated” or SDV-LPE for short) is very simple and straightforward.

– You have one nomination “vote”, which we’ll call one “point” to avoid confusion.

– You can distribute that nomination “vote” among as many works as you feel are Hugo-worthy, and it will get divided among them equally. So, if you nominate two works, each gets half a point, if you nominate three works, each gets one third of a point, etc.

– All the points for each work from all the ballots submitted are added together, and the two works that got the least number of points are compared with each other. One of these works is the least popular and will be eliminated.

– For those works that are eligible to be eliminated, we compare the total number of nominations they each received (that is, the total number of times that work appeared on anyone’s nomination ballot). The work that received the fewest number of nominations is the least popular and now completely vanishes from the nomination process as though it never existed.

– We start over for the next round, and repeat the process, however, if one of your nominations was eliminated, you now have fewer works on your nomination ballot — so each one gets more points since you aren’t dividing your vote among as many works.


The Weasel King

“This is my new favourite blog” – May 12

Alexandra Erin is snarky as fuck and it’s great. (That link is specifically to her “Noisy Nonsense” category, wherein she is doing an excellent “Sad Puppies Review Books” series.)


Alexandra Erin on Blue Author Is About To Write

“Rabid Puppies Review Books: IMOGENE’S ANTLERS”  – May 12


Reviewed By Special Guest Reviewer Theophilus Pratt (Publisher — Hymenaeus House)….

Well, John Z. Upjohn has been reviewing books here for a week with not much to show for it. If anything, the SJWs have treated the whole thing as a joke! He means well, but the problem is the SJWs don’t. His fundamental decency shows through in every moderate, conciliatory word he writes, but they spit in his face every time. That’s why I’m taking over for the day, to show him how it’s done.

This is a culture war, and the SJWs take no prisoners. They are the most ruthless thought police the world has ever seen. This is why every last trace of their philosophy must be expunged from existence and all who extol it punished suitably.

Our battle ground for the day is Imogene’s Antlers, which from the very cover obviously promises to be an amusing if instructive lesson in the fundamental truth of the rhetoric of the SJWs and their myriad lies. I purchased this book not with Congress-issued coins of gold and silver but unbacked fiat currency, an irony which was not lost on me when I considered that this book, too, was mere paper backed by nothing of value.




323 thoughts on “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Puppy 5/12

  1. @Will “@Bruce “In a civil war… every side is wrong. It’s hopeless to try to untangle it. Everyone is a victim.” (Time Out of Joint.)”

    I’m sorry, Will, did you not get the memo? If you are not a puppy, then you are blinded by your hatred of their obviously superior cover art and storytelling skills. You are not allowed to consider any kind of moral equivalency.

  2. Will: —

    Thank you 🙂

    You know, if you have neither read, nor heard about the Safehold books, that could very well be viewed as an End-Times description.

    I didn’t take it as any kind of insult or dig.

    Carry on!

  3. @Maximillian Sorry about that! I thought we’d reached the part of the night where the Ken Burns voice-over ruminates darkly. I saw it as reinforcing Bruce’s excellent post in a way.

  4. I turned to Horselover Fat last night looking for some peace of mind. He knew that wasn’t really what I was looking for:

    “This is a mournful discovery.
    1)Those who agree with you are insane
    2)Those who do not agree with you are in power.”

  5. “And what comes for the etiquette, if it is know to the enemy… It is an aspect to be abused. Rattle a vessel, shatter the fine china, and the enemy either surrenders distraugthed, or starts making ever more mistakes out of being outraged.”

    perhaps a read of Patrick O’Brian’s fine Napoleonic War Naval military series is in order. Where do you suppose the phrase “clear the decks” or “clear for battle” came from?

  6. @Will – curse you, you should be sorry- now I am stuck with the mental image of the puppies and everyone else sitting on opposite sides of the Worldcon banquet hall mournfully singing ‘Tenting Tomight On The Old Campground’.

  7. @Bruce “In the end, death came uniformly to all…”

    Okay, I admit it, that sounds very much like a quote or homage of something that I’ve read, but I can’t place it.

    Have pity on me and tell me what it was!

    (Or, if not directly inspired by anything- damn! Even more imoressive!)

  8. @maximillian LOL. This has been just like some parties I’ve been to…there’s a lot of fun at the beginning, then a phase of everyone shouting and calling each other Nazis because of the competing drinking games, followed by crying and, eventually, hugging. I think @Rev first made that suggestion in another thread.

  9. Maximilian, it’s my perversion of the opening of Jack Vance’s “The Last Castle”.

  10. Maximillian

    The quote is from Vance’s Hugo winning novellette, The Last Castle.

  11. @Will – you must go to better parties than I. I was just trying to steal a quote from Catton’s history of the civil war.

  12. @People who read Vance

    Sigh. I only know him as ‘the guy who inflicted memorization-based spell casting on D&D’. Perhaps I should go read some of his works.

  13. Maximillian:

    Sigh. I only know him as ‘the guy who inflicted memorization-based spell casting on D&D’.

    At least read the first Dying Earth book. He contributed a whole lot more than that. The whole setting and philosophy of D&D owes more to Vance than Tolkien.

    (I won’t advocate for the later books; the next two didn’t work for me even though I know a lot of people like them, and book four is basically a novelization of Robert’s Rules of Order, which I found interesting but is not a strong foundation for a broad recommendation.)

  14. The cover of Vance’s “Last Castle” terrified me as a child and I never read him. I feel I ought to rectify that.

  15. Maximillian, what D&D’s creators called “Vancian” magic is actually substantially different. Vance’s magic in the Dying Earth stories is much more powerful and much weirder. And he wrote passages like these:


    “What are your fees?” inquired Guyal cautiously. “I respond to three questions,” stated the augur. “For twenty terces I phrase the answer in clear and actionable language; for ten I use the language of cant, which occasionally admits of ambiguity; for five, I speak a parable which you must interpret as you will; and for one terce, I babble in an unknown tongue.”


    “Notice this rent in my garment; I am at a loss to explain its presence! I am even more puzzled by the existence of the universe.”


    Just as the Puppies seem to be trying and failing to be C.S. Lewis, or Gene Wolfe, or whoever, Gygax tried and thoroughly failed to be Vance. But the real thing deserves your attention.

  16. Nice take on Vance, except there’s a codicil to the story: (I’ll not attempt Vance style).

    From a distant hill, the trufans watched with satisfaction as Castle Worldcon was overrun.

    “Going to the dead dog party?”
    “Nah, I’ve got an early flight to catch”.
    “Oh. Well, see you next year?”
    “Yep. Hey, you know, it sure was kinda weird watching them spend so much effort to dismantle something that was over anyways.”
    “Sad really. I think most of them thought it was some kind of permanent structure. The rest…I don’t know. Probably just got caught up by their emotions. Or they’re idiots.”
    “They just don’t get it, do they?”
    “Nope. And they’re going to get it even less when we start building Castle Worldcon all over again next year. Heh! We’ve even told them where it’s going to be built.”
    “They really don’t have a clue, do they?”

  17. @Maximillian Been a loooong time since I’ve been to an actual party like that, thank goodness. Definitely caught your drift there and was applauding it in my weird way. (I continue to think this whole thing looks an awful lot August: Osage County translated to science fiction.)

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