The Day the World Turned Pupside Down 6/15

aka The Fall of the Doghouse of Usher

Today in the roundup: Andrew Hickey, The G, Brad R. Torgersen, Dave Freer, Chris Van Trump, Cedar Sanderson, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Joe Vasicek, Peter Grant, Amanda S. Green, Keri Sperring, Natalie Luhrs, Maureen Eichner, Paul Weimer, Michael A. Rothman, RedWombat, Camestros Felapton, Spacefaring Kitten, Lis Carey, Steve Davidson and cryptic others. (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day Kary English and rcade.)

Andrew Hickey on Sci-Ence! Justice Leak!

“What Political Campaigners Can Learn From The Sad & Rabid Puppies” – June 15

But at the point where you try to drag in the US-centric “culture war”, and argue for the right-wing side of it, you lose not only the “SJWs”, but basically anyone in the Western world outside the USA, because even the most barking right-winger in the UK would be considered a leftist by US culture war standards, and the UK is right-wing compared to most of the rest of the West.

Then there’s the claim that the Puppies’ work is the best of what’s out there — on a purely aesthetic ground, that claim is a nonsense, and I get very annoyed at people pushing clearly sub-par work.

So even if the Puppies hadn’t made an actual enemy of me by including among their membership white supremacist homophobes who advocate rape and murder, I would wish them to fail purely because of their promotion of poor work and their culture war agenda.

But then there are other people — right-wing Republicans who like the stories — who are also voting “No Award” above the Puppies because they’re angry that those works got on the ballot thanks to voting slates, which are against the spirit of the awards and break the unspoken agreement among fandom not to do that kind of thing.

I have to say that personally, that bit doesn’t annoy me too much. I mean, it annoys me a bit, because it’s cheating, but if they’d cheated and got a *really great* bunch of stories on there, I’d have had a sneaking admiration for it. I’d not have approved, mind, but I’d not have been that angry.


The G on nerds of a feather, flock together

“Final Words on #Hugowank” – June 15

  1. Isolate and address the legitimate grievances

The sad version claims its campaign is really about sticking up for fun and/or commercial and/or pulpy and/or conservative and/or apolitical science fiction and fantasy against the onslaught of intellectual snobs and/or “social justice warriors” who have forced works of high-minded and/or message-driven and/or progressive literature on the unsuspecting masses of fandom.

Despite finding the majority of victimization claims empirically bogus, I do have some sympathy for the base-claim that popular genre is often crowded out by a specific style of literary-minded SF/F. But in short fiction, where voting pools are small and its likely that writers, editors and slush readers represent a disproportionate slice of the electorate. And it’s not the result of conspiracy but an institutional effect—a self-replicating mechanism that structures the field. Jonathan McCalmont explains how that works in these (one, two, three) articles.

For the record, I see no evidence of this in the best novel category. In fact, I see the opposite—voters rewarding novels that are, on the surface, light and breezy, but have some deeper messages if you bother to look for them. However, it’s not necessary to do that if you just want fun and adventure—sort of like Firefly. (Actually a lot like Firefly, come to think of it.) Plus several Hugo winners, Redshirts and Among Others in particular, are aimed directly at so-called trufans: Redshirts is a Star Trek parody and the protagonist of Among Others is literally a trufan. These are genuinely popular books, and if being a fan is a major part of your life, then there’s an even stronger chance you’ll connect with them. But New Yorker material they are not.

What’s more, even if certain kinds of short fiction enjoy institutional advantages at the moment, pulpy SF/F has not been shut out. Brandon Sanderson, for example, won Best Novella in 2013 for the popular and commercial The Emperor’s Soul. And though I understand Charles Stross is, for some, a demon whose recent Hugo successes haunt dreams and stalk imaginations, 2014 Novella winner “Equoid” (on Tor dot com) is actually super pulpy.


Brad R. Torgersen

“Picture of a TOR buyer” – June 15

It would be a damned shame if someone thought I was just malware.

Don’t you think?


Dave Freer on Mad Genius Club

“The plucky ‘bots” – June 15

Now according to semi-reliable sources (Publishers Weekly, drawing data from Bookscan) the pie got smaller. This of course is traditional publishing’s pie (which is historically almost the entire Hugo pie too.) (my apologies for not having the 2014 figures – my internet is being really slow and buggy. I’ve seen them, but couldn’t find them. It’s no change.) It’s shrinking year on year with less readers, less sales, and at this rate, will be a slightly smaller problem than the argument about the last slice of Pavlova at the Flinders Island Country Women’s Association tea in ten years’ time (Okay that’s a pretty serious dispute, but it’s got maybe 12 women eyeing it. Still, it’s only just thermonuclear, and not planet-busting)

Part of the reason the puppy kickers have been so particularly unpleasant, vicious and ready for ad hominem and attacks on the livelihood and reputation of anyone even vaguely associated with the Puppies has been because of that shrinking. Those are their pieces of pie, and they want to keep them, and as much as possible of what is left.

In a way, of course, that true in the award situation. There are a fixed number of final nominees, and only one winner in each category.


Chris Van Trump on Shambling Towards Bethlehem

“Sadder Puppies” – June 15

I suppose the most tragic thing to me, in the ongoing Saga of the Sad Puppies, is that the people opposed to said Puppies seem to be going out of their way to prove a lot of the accusations that led to the creation of the Puppies in the first place.  Because the inevitable response, once you filter out the snark and hyperbole, is as follows:

“There is no conspiracy, no liberal cabal stopping conservative authors from winning, so stop trying to take our award away from us.”

“Us”, of course, is just code for “people who think like me”.

It’s disheartening to see established, award-winning authors decrying anyone who doesn’t agree with them as “no true fan”.  And Worldcon isn’t even in Scotland this year…


Cedar Sanderson

“Letter-Writing Campaign” – June 15

And speaking of black holes, I was annoyed to discover that Tor Books, on which I blogged at length last week, has apparently decided that the customers who are contacting them to complain about the way Irene Gallo treated them are not real. I wish I were joking. I am being told that they have decided the response is disproportionate, and therefore all the emails they are getting are from ‘bots. Whether this is all of Tor (which I doubt) or a small cadre (likely the same ones who have been so vocally critical in the past of their ‘wrongfans’) doesn’t really matter. This is completely unacceptable. I am angry and abandoning a vendor who has messed up a small (relatively) order. How do you think that I and others are reacting when complaints of being called racist, misogynist, homophobic, our work being ‘bad to reprehensible’ and worst of all to those of us who know history, lumped with neo-Nazis? Those complaints are being ignored, maybe deleted, and I will not put up with it, for one.

I strongly urge my readers to join me in making our voices heard. I am not calling for a  boycott, or firings, I simply want to have a conversation and have my concerns acknowledged. I do not want to be brushed aside and ignored as though I were a meaningless part of this. I’ve bought few Tor books in the last few years because I haven’t cared for most of the authors they support. But I have bought some, and furthermore, am one of those libeled as having ‘bad to reprehensible’ work.

I am also a businesswoman, and this unprofessional behavior is inexcusable. Allowing their employees to post things like the screencap below, which appeared on a Monday afternoon, meaning it was almost certainly made during work time, on a work computer… that is beyond the pale, as many people have found in the past. Unless, evidently, you work for Tor or MacMillan. If then, apparently you can call your customers names with impunity.


L. Jagi Lamplighter on Welcome To Arhyalon

“I Am Not A Robot! I Am A Free Fan!” – June 15

[The author requested that I run this disclaimer ahead of any excerpt.]

[L. Jagi Lamplighter: “I would not want someone to think I am trying to make things worse between Tor and their readers! I just thought that harmony could not be restored if folks at Tor mistakenly thought the letters from readers were from a bot. (I know they are legit, because I know some of these folks. They’ve been writing to John to explain why they feel they can’t buy his books.)”]

Many of these readers are people I know, people I interact with online, or fans of John’s who have written us thoughtful letters explaining why they regretfully feel they must stop buying Tor book, despite their desire to keep reading John’s latest series.

I was thus appalled to see posts suggesting that the emails to Tor—many of which, I am led to understand, are arriving with photos of the reader’s Tor book collections, in some cases, collections worth thousands of dollars—were not legitimate but were sent from automated bots.

Tor Folks:  You may disagree with the Sad/Rabid Puppies, or feel loyalty to your co-workers—but please! Don’t insult our readers by claiming they don’t exist!

Readers:  I realize that, in the age of electronics,this is an unprecedented request, but: if you have a strong opinion that you wish to be heard, it might help if you committed it to physical paper—perhaps along with a printout of your photo of your Tor book collection—and snail mailed it to Tor and Macmillan.

Also, feel free to send me your photo of your Tor books. I will post any photos or links I receive on my website, so everyone can see that you are a real person with real books.

[Photos posted here — I Am Not A Robot! I Am A Free Fan!]


Joe Vasicek on One Thousand and One Parsecs

“I AM A REAL PERSON” – June 15

In my first email, I stated that I could not in good conscience continue to support your organization by submitting my stories for publication at The events of the last seven days have made me reluctant to buy Tor books as well. In the coming months, I hope that we can move past this controversy so that we can get back to reading, writing, and publishing stories that we all love, without concern for politics. However, until the corporate culture at Tor has changed to be more inclusive of readers and writers like me, I do not see how that is possible.


Peter Grant on Bayou Renaissance Man

“’Can you hear us now?’ Another open letter to Tor and Macmillan” – June 15

A heartfelt “Thank you!!!” to everyone who responded to requests to e-mail Tor and Macmillan about the situation there.  I’ll leave the co-ordinator of the campaign to announce the totals, but they appear to be well into four figures as of the time of writing.  I wonder if Tor and Macmillan will now accept that we aren’t bots and we aren’t just a few malcontents? We are, in fact, a growing wave of SF/F fans who are threatening to abandon them altogether.  If they haven’t yet got that message, they’ll probably never understand it without more direct action.

(By the way, I can only describe as ‘catastrophic’ the performance of whoever’s responsible for customer relations at Tor and/or Macmillan.  There’s been an absolutely inexplicable, deafening silence from both companies in response to e-mails and other communications – not even so much as an acknowledgment of receipt.  When I was a manager and, later, a director, if I’d had a customer relations person who performed so abysmally, they’d have been fired the moment I found out about it.  “Do not pass ‘GO’, do not collect $200, and by all means let the door hit you in the ass on the way out!”  This is simply ridiculous.  Oh, well . . . if they want to play the clam, I think we have every right to assume that both companies are standing behind the unconscionable words and attitudes of the Tor personnel we’ve named.  We’re therefore free to take our response to the next – and only logical – level.)


Amanda S. Green on Nocturnal Lives

“Vacation’s over” – June 15

Then there is the mischaracterization being tossed around by some that SP3 stands for no message in our fiction. That is, as I said, a mischaracterization. What we want is for story to be the driving force. Yes, you can have a message but don’t hit the reader over the head with it because, whether you want to admit it or not, it will turn most folks off it they think they are being lectured to.


Kari Sperring

“Red Writer: I stand with Irene Gallo” – June 15

Mr Beale believes in freedom only for himself and those who agree with him. He believes he has the right to police the words and lives of everyone else and punish or destroy them if they offend. He is the perfect robber capitalist, dreaming of a world in which the rich — and he is very very rich — control everything, from resources and awards to bodies and thoughts of those who he considers his inferiors. He’s trying that today with TOR books.

And this red writer is standing here in his way. The US culture war does not belong in our genre, which is global and not the property of any one interest group or political belief. Do I want right-wing books and writers in my genre? Yes, I do. Writing belongs to us all. Do I want *only* right wing books and *only* white, straight, American male writers? No, because that is counter not only to the roots of sff — which lie in the work of writers of all races, ethnicities, genders, sexualities, and political views — but to my personal principles, which believe in inclusion and support for the many rather than privilege for the (predictable straight white male) few.

I stand with Irene Gallo.

Or, and if you want to go and denounce me and my books as communist, feel free. I’m not ashamed of my politics.


Natalie Luhrs on Pretty Terrible

“I am a real person and I stand with Irene Gallp” – June 15

In response to these rank pieces of bullshit (and this one, too), I have just emailed the following individuals at Tor Books and Macmillan in solidarity with Irene Gallo:…


Paul Weimer on Blog, Jvstin Style

“I am a real person, too and I do not Support Theodore Beale” – June 15

You know what? I’m a real person too. I’m a real person who thinks that the shit that Theodore Beale has pulled in the community has helped inflame tensions and increase divides in the SFF community. I’m a real person who reads what Beale writes on his blog and sees that if Irene is wrong in calling Rabid Puppies Neonazis, its a pretty thin wedge….


Maureen Eichner on By Signing Light

“A letter to Tor and MacMillan” – June 15

I’ve spent much of the last week appalled and upset by this message from Tom Doherty, the head of Tor Books. I’m not going into the backstory or ramifications in this post, but suffice it to say that once again, it has made me feel that being a female SFF fan, writer, or editor means fighting for your place forever. It means your boss choosing to give words of support to a noxious racist rather than to you.


Michael A. Rothman in a comment on Facebook – June 15

[Rothman outs himself as a troll.]

The Chesley Awards…..

Anyone want to take bets on Irene Gallo taking the prize for a variety of reasons that will remain nameless?

Larry? Brad? Mike?


Brad R. Torgersen in a comment on File 770 – June 15

Aaron: has it ever occurred to you that for me, the front man of SP3, to begin playing favorites — ergo, singling out specific works for praise — I’d be doing a disservice to the whole slate? Like every other year at the Hugos, not every work on the list will be to all tastes. I am only disappointed in everyone who claims “The Hugos should be a celebration of quality and excellence!” in one breath, then shout, “Everyone on the Puppy list sucks, their work sucks, and I will Noah Ward the lot of them; sight-unseen!”


Red Wombat in a comment on File 770 – June 15

I would like to ask our person asking us to go easy on Brad, in turn, if he can understand how some of us who went from “Which one’s Brad?” to being told that our much cherished awards were an affirmative action movement, and we weren’t REALLY creating anything worthwhile, it was all our glittery hoo-has and correct social justicey-ness, might take offense.

From my point of view, Torgersen went from a name on the Campbell ballot to a dude who had just insulted something I poured a decade of my life into.

Can you at least reach across the aisle to understand why I would not feel he’s a nice sweet boy after that? Why I started out feeling that he’d built a campaign on the back of insulting me, and everyone a little like me?

He could apologize. I’d probably accept it–I’m basically a marshmallow. But please understand that some of us walked in to find that we were being insulted when we’d never spoken a word to Brad before.


Spacefaring Kitten on Spacefaring Extradimensional Happy Kittens

“The Blending Puppies” – June 15

There was supposed to be a difference between the two puppy breeds. Rabid Puppies were supposed to be the foam-mouthed extremists who want to destroy the Hugos and wreak maximum havoc, while their sad cousins are — despite buying into some objectionable ideas —  actual SFF fans. Or that’s what I thought. I’m not sure you can make the distinction anymore.

Sad Puppy figures Brad Torgersen, Cedar Sanderson and Peter Grant, among others, have decided to join the professional troll Vox Day on his crazy crusade against Tor books. They’re all supporting a GamerGate-inspired mailbox-stuffing campaign that tries to get a person who is working for an SFF publisher (and who they don’t like) fired.



Camestros Felapton

“The Aslan, the warlock and the cupboard: more on One Bright Star” – June 14

What are we to conclude? The simplest answer is that Tybalt is an allegorical mess and the reason for that is Wright really didn’t know what he was doing. I’m happy to believe that Wright’s claims about what he intended are correct but all we can conclude from that is what was obvious from the beginning: One Bright Start To Guide Them is not well written nor well edited and the potentially interesting ideas are mainly happenstance.


Tony on Geeky Library

The Dark Between The Stars”  – June 15

Rating (5 stars)

The author’s writing style is engaging and dramatic without being overly narrative. While it took me a little work to get started, once I was reading it, I couldn’t put the book down. Written in the same format as A Song of Ice and Fire, the story follows multiple characters, sometimes briefly, as events unfold. Historical events are introduced and explained without making you feel like an idiot for not reading the Seven Suns saga, and plotlines are left unresolved where necessary to carry into rest of the trilogy.


Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Hill 142, by Jason Cordova” – June 15

Jason Cordova is a 2015 nominee for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best New Writer.

This is a single, small battle of World War One, with the Germans equipped with giant, venomous spiders as cavalry mounts, and the Americans equipped with giant (2000-pound) lion as mounts. There’s no explanation of why or how, other than a reference to a breeding program for the lions in Texas, There’s also no indication of how this affects the war, other than sending the surviving soldiers home with more fantastical stories to tell. So what’s the point? I have no idea.

Not recommended.


Font Folly

“Hugo Ballot Reviews: Novella” – June 15

[Preceded by reviews of nominated novellas.]

* The Sad/Rabid Puppies object to this characterization. They were just recommending entire slates, they say. Nothing they did was against the rules, they say. Which is exactly what cheats, grifters, and confidence men say when they are caught exploiting a system. Voting an entire slate clearly violates the spirit of the awards, which is supposed to be voting for the works you personally thought were the best of the year. Recruiting mens rights activists and Gamergators who aren’t regular readers of SF to vote these slates in order to stick it to the Social Justice Warriors pushes it even further into the dirty deed category.



Steve Davidson on Amazing Stories

“Fandom Enters The McCarthy Era” – June 15

Corrected text from the Wikipedia entry on Senator Joseph McCarthy S. R. Puppies:

Beginning in 1950 2013, McCarthy S.R. Puppies became the most visible public face of a period in which Cold War Hugo Award tensions fueled fears of widespread Communist SJW subversion. He was They were noted for making claims that there were large numbers of Communists and Soviet spies and sympathizers SJW and Liberal Fans inside the United States federal government SF/F publishing industry and elsewhere. Ultimately, his their tactics and inability to substantiate his their claims led him them to be censured by the United States Senate Fandom.

The term McCarthyism Puppyism, coined in 1950 2015 in reference to McCarthy’s S.R. Puppies’ practices, was soon applied to similar anti-communist SJW activities. Today the term is used more generally in reference to demagogic, reckless, and unsubstantiated accusations, as well as public attacks on the character or patriotism of political opponents….

800 thoughts on “The Day the World Turned Pupside Down 6/15

  1. Ann Somerville on June 16, 2015 at 8:52 pm said:

    She was on the slate because Brad was sucking up to people, in her case, Mike Resnick, not because she was objectively one of the best writers capable of being nominated. He’s done her no favours at all.

    It just dawned on me that this would mean that Kary English, the *only* woman on the Puppy’s entire slate of pro authors, was chosen not for her work or even herself, but because her presence would please another person, a man.

    Am I being unfair here? I can’t unsee this now but maybe I am wrong.

  2. Peace, I may be missing something but I recall that Brad published a slate of recommendations that had something like four works by women in short fiction categories, four women in the editing categories, two women who are working writers for fan writer, and one for the Campbell.

  3. Gabriel F: Re Transformative Works Fandom: I kinda want to go talk it up over in that corner of fandom now.

    If it helps, I’m active in transformative works fandom, and and doing my small thing to spread news of what’s happening in the hope that my fellow fans will pick it up. I think Doctor Science is doing the same.

  4. @Brian Z:

    I left out the outlier categories of editors and fans which, to be frank, many readers haven’t much clue about.

    It’s the juicy, meat-and-potatoes categories of books, longer written works, novels and novellas and novelettes, the high status categories, the biggest and most influential ones that the Puppies loaded down with men, men, and only men.

    A handful of women restricted to the least category of short stories — only a single one of which ended up on the final ballot — seems feeble tokenism.

  5. Oh, and the suggested backstory that that woman’s story was picked not because of it or of her but because its inclusion would flatter a powerful man.

  6. Cronyism.

    I virtually know .Heather Rose Jones in another mileu, and have for years before she was published.

    Due to that online acquaintance, I bought Daughter of Mystery and read it. So “cronyism” got her a sale.

    But I would never have touted that book to all and sundry, and nominated it for a Hugo, based on our virtual relationship. Only the story itself inside that book could get me to do that.

    Same thing with Brad’s absurd “affirmative action” drivel. I may have read Ancilllary Justice due to the buzz. But I would never have put it on my nominating ballot, or voted it in first place, if the quality hadn’t been exceptional.

  7. Brian

    Peace, I may be missing something but I recall that Brad published a slate of recommendations that had something like four works by women in short fiction categories, four women in the editing categories, two women who are working writers for fan writer, and one for the Campbell.

    Good on him. I wonder how that compares with last years nominees?

    Nothing exists in a vacuum after all.

  8. To directly address one of the elements from the round-up:

    1. Isolate and address the legitimate grievances

    The Puppies have none. Next.

  9. On the subject of cronyism, I don’t think it’s fair to charge Scalzi with that. Cronyism is getting something you haven’t honestly earned, and in Scalzi’s case he really is a popular blogger who is very involved with science fiction and science fiction fandom. Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded isn’t just filled with lame politics like some Puppy’s nominated works are, and does intersect with SF fandom, not just Whatever’s readers.

    Given that Scalzi did a turn as President of SFWA, and done things like stand in as a GoH when another GoH (Charles Stross) couldn’t make it to a con (Minicon 46), he’s not a crony pro, any more than someone like Joe Haldeman is.

  10. Kary, since you believe in anti-conservative bias now–and I’m not saying you shouldn’t, some good articles have been written showing that yes, it probably exists, and that people like me Wouldnt notice it nearly as much, then can you tell me if you believe, with the Puppies, that past Hugo wins were because of affirmative action campaigns?

  11. Rev Bob: Fascinating about your intellectual journey. Jim Henley and I did something similar some years earlier – for both of us, for different reasons, health care loomed large in making us ask questions of the sort that lead to one realizing “this whole edifice no longer works for me”. I have a lot of sympathy for the dislocation and disorientation that can follow.

  12. By the way, Rev, Feng Shui 2nd edition is out in PDF, with print coming up sometime soon-ish. I’m a long-time friend of Robin’s, back to when we were both contributors to Lee Gold’s gaming amateur press association Alarums & Excursions, and I think FS2 is one of his best pieces of design. And Cam Banks and the crew at Atlas Games have given it gorgeous production.

  13. Do you ever get the idea that Mr Torgersen is barking at a mirror?

    The mirror bark’d from side to side,
    ‘No award has come upon me,’ cried
    The Puppies’ sad ballot.

  14. Peace,

    I think Annie Bellet would be a bit upset if you told her she was male…

  15. Warning: Major long post ahead on the topic of transformative works fandom and Hugo imbroglio including mentions of Racefail ’09*

    Meredith: quotes from 2 posts

    I would suffer a serious attack of the schadenfreude if all this posturing lead to transformative works fandom (which is large, organised, and heavily dominated by women, often liberal ones) paying more attention to the Hugos. I don’t think they’d be the voters the Puppies have in mind.

    I’ve been too anti-social the last few years to have any pull in tw fandom, but gosh is it tempting to hit up old acquaintances and point in the direction of the Hugos with a nudge to spread the word… I’m only resisting because integration ought to be organic.

    I’m putting Archive of Our Own on my nominations for Best Related Work next year, though. ????

    Me too!Thinking about what you said here sent me off into the loooong rant below.

    And *bless* you: I had not thought of putting AO3 on the list for Best Related works which is my own blinkered fault (of course it should be! It is!)—but now it’s on my list if to nommed.

    Gabriel F. in response to Meredith:

    I kinda want to go talk it up over in that corner of fandom now. Widen the voting pool, y’know, like the Puppies want.

    It is tempting, but I’m wondering if it isn’t already happening (in some parts!) Not that you shouldn’t do it anyway. But your post, and Meredith’s above, as I said led to this long ranty piece from me, thinking about it, and about why I haven’t posted more about things in my fan space (my Dreamwidth journal).

    I am posting here under an abbreviation of my fandom pseud from my sf con going (Seattle and Portland) and APA-5 years (on and off through the late 1970s into the early 1990s). I gafiated a few times, but left permanently while I was writing my dissertation on rarrrwww feminisms and critical race theory and feminist narratives. That topic plus a canny use of Foucault let me drag all my favorite sff writers into a dissertation even though none of my committee had heard of/read/knew anything about sff—unlike some academics I Have Known, they weren’t hostile to it, just had never heard of it. EEEVil laugh. I have made a career of sneaking sff into academic spaces that don’t have any.

    I am now realizing that my “decision” to post with this pseud instead of my later and more current one was related to how I see the “Hugos” and Worldcons/con fandom, in the overall context of fandom cultures. The discussion of kink shaming that Dr. Science and Nick Mamatas had reflecting different cultures in fandom, also the issue of fail fandom anon discussed between Ann Somerville and Mike Glyer—I HOPE I’m remembering the participants correctly and apologies if I am wrong—reflect that different cultures in different branches of fandom. Since I participated in one small area of the pre-internet con/APA fandom earlier in my life, and in online slash media fandoms later, I’ve had some experience in both.

    I was sucked back into fandom—the online LOTR slash fandom—in 2003 and was active there under a different pseud until the aftermath of Racefail ’09. I am still on DW but have not been too active of late (some health problems affected my creative output but not my scholarly output, very odd). So given that I am just one person over there, based on my experiences since 2003 I’m willing to bet that the transformative works fandom (love that term for it!) or at least large swathes of it are already aware of the Hugo imbroglios. Now are of and deciding to get involved are different things!

    Dr. Science is posting about it. Ann Somerville has pointed to the failfaildomanon posts on it (and while there’s a complicated overlap and relationship between some of the failfandomanon posters and some of the transformative work fans most involved in Racefail, it’s an overlap). K. Tempest Bradford whose relatively mild challenge to read works by people other than cis straight white men for a year sent a bunch of the conservative branches of fandom into spasms of horror is someone well known to the evil sjw glittery hoohah cultural Marxists perverted copyright breaking amateur icky grrllllzzs that I hung out with in my small branch of the transformative works fandom (which is huge, and all over tumblr these days which I cannot read).

    But after all that tl;dr, I can say that I am in fact one of those fans who had completely ignored the Hugos and World Con after I left con/apa fandom (I could never afford it while in con fandom). I think I tried one year to pay for the membership early on, but could not get there—that was as far as I got to involvement.

    Even after I came back into active fandom in the internet (and after five years of trying to get an sf book discussion group started on my campus that never got much above the same five people, four of whom were made, I ADORE ADORE ADORE online fandom spaces dominated by women), I didn’t pay much attention to that World Con side—being more inclined to support WisCon, the Tiptree, and Con or Bust, etc.

    This year changed all that, and I am now one of the people who is now going to vote this year and support and nominate in future, simply because of this imbroglio which, in fact, I see as in a fractal way as related to Racefail ’09 (fractal because RF wasn’t the originating event—it was one of multiple ones relating to the demographic changes in English speaking fandom circles in the US/UK but in the global context of internet fandoms).

    I’m realizing that though I’ve linked to quite a few of Hugo posts including GRRM’s and Eric Flint’s on my fb under my academic name, I haven’t done write-ups in my fandom Dreamwidth. And the more I think about it, the more I think that, while part of the reasons are time/health/behind in work/not as active on DW, a large part is that I doubt I have anything to say that I didn’t say during Racefail ’09 because in so many ways these are the very same issues, by many of the same people.

    What is different (in my perspective) is that this time they went after THE con, WorldCon (which, while not attending, I thought was the Camelot of Fandom in all my lonely years in Idaho BEFORE MosCon came around, and which I would have sold rights to my first born to attend during my college years—p.s never had first born and never intended to, so fraud), and THE Award (hell, WisCon and the Tiptree have been under ongoing attack since they started, although I will admit, nothing on this scope).

    And, again different from Racefail, a whole lot of white men stepped up to protest that—and I think it’s admirable, and I’ve been happy to see them to do it and cheer them on (they aren’t the only ones protesting, of course, but the participants are distinctly different than during Racefail). (And there are some white male allies like Scalzi who did post during Racefail—I consider him and Jim Hines’ work to be notable in that regard.)

    I was curious to see if I could track anything on the awareness in transformative works fandom. A quick google for “sad puppies” in tumblr showed that the top five hits on Google were in fact pictures of actual puppies, but the sixth was:
    How the sad puppies campaign games the 2015 Hugo

    It doesn’t seem to be huge on Tumblr, but then I am not very good at sussing out what’s going on in that space.

    GRRM’s “Not a Blog” is on LJ—I was on LJ through my most active slash fandom years, only moving to Dreamwidth when LJ became such a mess, but a lot of the transformative works fans are still there. I noted every post he made got in the top whatever reading for LJ for that day.

    And while the hierarchy stuff still goes on (assuming that fanfic writers are all about the media stuff only—which I ran into in the 70s when it was “girls only come into sf for Captain Kirk”), there are a lot of transformative works fans (as I’m sure those of you active in the fandoms know) who are massive readers as well.

    A quick Dreamwidth search: Swan_Tower’s (Marie Brennan’s journal) is the first post that came up on DE (Google results only 4,460). AlexandraErin has a journal, YAY, and Deirdre Saoirse Moen and James Nicolls as well, so they’re talking about on Dreamwidth. One person on my reading circle/flist posted (April 29—yeah, I think I missed see that post originally because I was coming up to the last week of classes/finals week, and having a root d canal about then, sigh). Others are posting on related issues (Brad Torgersen), so it’s being discussed. But as with tumblr (though my searches were quick and cursory, I’m not seeing a lot of news posted—one of the reasons I’ve been spending so much time reading over here on File 770).

    And while I cannot speak for others, I’m wondering if a certain number of people *I* knew best as active during Racefail are feeling some of the same sort of things that I have—not disengagement due to boredom, exactly, but sort of, yep, new and shiny outbreak of the same old same old thing we saw back in ’09.

    * Racefail Fanlore Entry'09
    Nalo Hopkinson’s “Reluctant Ambassador from the Planet of Midnight: My Address in Race in the Literature of the Fantastic at ICFA 2010″**

    If you haven’t read Nalo’s work, why not? ICFA: International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts (one of the two, and the largest, academic conference on sff in all media) did a “Race and Fantastic” Theme that year and while it was not in direct response to Racefail (I know because I was part of the group that proposed it—it takes a while to get these things into an academic conference schedule), there were some sessions about it at the conference, and Nalo was the GOH.

    On reading over this to check and correct, not only should I apologize for length but for my cruelty to the parentheses.

  16. Rev.Bob: I’m linking to the post you made about your personal journey and the changes you experienced over time because it’s wonderful, and I could not do it justice with just a quote or two, and everybody should read it.


    First: CRIBBAGE! I love it. My whole family does, and I didn’t remember it from Heinlein. Oh, well, still. I would love to play a game with you though it’s been some years! I got most of the students in my rooming house playing one summer in the late 70s.

    Second: If you get a chance to talk to Eric Flint, tell him he’s gained a fan in rural Texas with the Ring of Fire series-amazing alternate history, which I’d been aware of but never bought because (and I blush to say this) COVERS. But reading his posts got me into the series (the first one being free didn’t hurt). Now, I adore the world and what he’s doing with it, not to mention all the great collaborative works in the series.

    Third: I have a sort of similar story—that is, I was born in the mid-50s, my parents were Republican, it was Idaho, and although I was a huge sf fan (my dad, a geologist, got me young), I was a conservative, country-western song loving, Republican girl. My parents supported Barry Goldwater, darn it! I volunteered for the Republicans….now, in those days, the Democrats in Southern Idaho were strongly John Birch and conservative Catholic or Mormon. The Republicans in Northern Idaho were pro-union. But still. I supported the Vietnam war because COMMUNISTS!!! Those communists, I was assured, would immediately invade Idaho if they were not stopped in Vietnam.

    What changed me?

    Kent State. I remember sitting on the grass being chilled to the bone even though it was a sunny warm day and reading the local newspaper and the gloating letters about how those damn hippy college kids deserved to die. The tone of the national news coverage. The U. S. government (OK, not accurate representation, but you know, I was a kid) was shooting people. Like me. (Yeah, white college students—and the coverage about Civil Rights protesters being killed didn’t have that effect on me–but I think a lot of radicalizing moments are personal though ideally we grow into the ability to do coalition work).

    That was my first radicalizing moment in terms of politics. Info on Kent State shootings

    A second radicalizing moment in terms of science fiction was reading Joanna Russ’ “When It Changed” in Harlan Ellison’s Again, Dangerous Visions. I can remember sitting on the steps of the incredible brownstone public library in town (WPA project, go government socialism), and realized that in fact I was Not Alone in the universe.

    It took me ten years to become a feminist because I was all “I can be the exception and brilliant and do it on my own and make my way in these male-dominated spaces” but it started happening THEN.

    I changed.

    And for all I mutter about Texas, I keep pointing out to friends in more traditionally blue states that 40% of Texans voted for Obama in both of the past two presidential elections (mostly Texans in Austin, Dallas, Houston, but still)—and that’s with concerned efforts to suppress voter participation by the Tea Party Types here (including some really nasty Voter ID laws).

  17. I can only speculate that the claim that Worldcon needs to grow to DragonCon-sized levels is based on an assumption that the Puppies are the Real Majority and that if Worldcon were to get bigger, it would have more of the Real Fans. I suggest that this is a false assumption.

    But Worldcon growing to that size is a much more difficult task than I think people who casually call for it understand. There’s a bunch of structural issues, including the fact that the fundamental management structure of most Worldcons for the past 30-plus years isn’t suited to running a convention much larger than around 10-12K people. To jump up to the next “quanta” would require just about everyone involved in organizing Worldcons to reinvent everything. In other words, a 20-40K Worldcon is not just the same event with more people at it; it’s fundamentally a different kind of event.

    There’s other structural issues that keep Worldcon from growing, of course. You can’t tell me that DragonCon would be as big as it is today if every year it dissolved its parent corporation and a new group far away (often in another country) started up another DragonCon as a one-shot event, then repeated the process.

    The only way I can see Worldcon getting much bigger than it is would be for it to be permanently located in one place run by the same group every year. But how much of a Worldcon would it be if it did that? People are complaining that the event is too US-centric as it is (even though 1/3 of Worldcons held or selected in the 21st century have been in other countries, a huge difference from the convention’s 20th-century record); if it were permanently in some major US area, it would be even more difficult to make the “World” part plausible.

    Maybe some people are simply obsessed over size. Bigger is better and that’s all that matters. I blame modern management techniques obsessed over nothing but “objective” measurements like bodies through the gate.

  18. Despite their antipathy toward tiaras, Brad and Larry are both eager to be Kings of Fandom, and who wants to be the lord of a small manor, owning only 4000 souls, when there are cons with 40,000 souls to own instead?

    But no way anyone will make them the Kings of Dragon*Con, but Worldcon might, and the the Hugos are even a coronation ceremony of sorts, so there you go…

    I will say that Worldcon is confusing to lots of people. I spent a lot of time explaining it to my co-workers. We have a Haikasoru table this year, and I had to point out that we don’t want giant banners or goodie bags or all the stuff our parent company usually does for, say, San Diego Comic-Con. We want a low-key table where we can sell books and maybe have our author sign books. Finally, the head of the department in charge of “shows” said, “Oh, like a fountain pen convention?” and I said, “Yes! That’s it exactly!”

  19. But no way anyone will make them the Kings of Dragon*Con

    Mostly because at Dragon*Con, authors are at best second class celebrities. Possibly third. Actors take top billing, even actors whose primary claim to fame is appearing in a web series. One can make a case for the musical acts coming in second.

    Authors, on the other hand, get to give their presentations in out of the way rooms in the hotel basement. I wonder if it rankles guys like Correia and Ringo, who always attend Dragon*Con and tout how wonderful it is, to know that they are regarded as minor leaguers by the con.

  20. Exactly. But but…Worldcon is for authors! Fandom! Larry Niven said so!

    And, surprise, we’re all in the basement down Worldcon way.

  21. JJ: My usual procedure for remedying this is to throw myself at Mike’s feet and offer to buy him SFF books he hasn’t yet read.

    So… threaten to leave him buried and suffocating under his unread book pile when it collapses on him, then?

  22. Bruce, thank you! (I am avoiding grading in part, heh, though I made myself go grade for a while, so I’m using FIle 770 comments as a reward).

    I made another long post (to Rev. Bob), but it may have been caught in a filter due to links. I’ll wait a while to see if it’s released into the wild, and repost (after walking dogs and MOAR grading!).

  23. Nick Mamatas: “Oh, like a fountain pen convention?” and I said, “Yes! That’s it exactly!”

    I bet my friend John King Tarpinian, an F770 contributor who’s involved with running a fountain pen convention, stood in front of his computer and gave you a standing ovation for that quote.

  24. Brian Z: “Peace, I may be missing something but I recall that Brad published a slate of recommendations that had something like four works by women in short fiction categories, four women in the editing categories, two women who are working writers for fan writer, and one for the Campbell.”

    Rabid Puppies discarded one of them, though, so there’s that. Thus, even without the authors who withdrew, the result is a final ballot with fewer female fiction writers.

  25. “Peace, I may be missing something but I recall that Brad published a slate of recommendations that had something like four works by women in short fiction categories, four women in the editing categories, two women who are working writers for fan writer, and one for the Campbell.”

    In the fiction categories, the Sad Pups put forward three works by women, all in the short fiction category, out of a total of 17 slated fiction works. They put no works by women in the related work category. Of the eight slated editors, four were women. Of the five slated fan writers, one was a woman. Of the three slated Campbell nominees, one was a woman.

    Across those categories, that’s 38 total slated-works and/or people, of which nine were either women or works by women. That’s a terrible track record even by historical standards. Given that no women appeared on the slate in any of the other categories, it is atrocious.

  26. @rrede

    The, uh, complicated relationship between some published authors and fanfiction authors probably doesn’t help. We do have people like Foz Meadows and Naomi Novik as representatives of both parties, though.

  27. @Peace, Aaron, Brian Z

    So that’s less than 25% works by women that the Puppies slated. And most of those in categories generally considered less important.

    I guess the Puppies feel like that is our place.

  28. Meredith: True, very true, about that complicated relationship!

    Although what I’m loving about the phrase transformative works fandom (first time I’d seen it used as this sort of descriptor) is that it can encompass not just the fanfic writers, but the vidders and all sorts of people who create major stuff relating to the texts they love–heck I might even consider the cosplay artists here as well as graphic artists, etc.).

  29. Contrary to what Torgersen (and to a lesser extent Flint) think, the various authors they listed that didn’t get Hugo awards didn’t miss out on them because the Hugo voters got things “wrong”. They missed out because other, better works won in the years they had works eligible. This is not only unsurprising, it is simply inevitable that this will happen to some authors who have a number of good works.

    I’d offer a slight alteration to this, in that I’d say “They missed out because other worthy works won in the years they had works eligible.”

    I wouldn’t say Neuormancer was ‘better’ than Bridge of Birds in any objective sense. They were/are both great books. Neuromancer won. Would anyone have been outraged if Bridge of Birds had won? Surprised perhaps, because Barry Hughart didn’t have anything like the popular name recognition that Gibson did. But I don’t believe there would be outrage that a clearly inferior work won.

  30. Andrew P on June 17, 2015 at 8:12 am said:

    I think Annie Bellet would be a bit upset if you told her she was male…

    Annie Bellet withdrew her work from consideration. I did say the final Hugo ballot.

    For that matter, even two women allowed some presence in the end-of-the-ballot short story category while all the prime major long form category slots on the Puppy slated ballot are packed with men would be pretty damned shameful.

  31. I wouldn’t say Neuormancer was ‘better’ than Bridge of Birds in any objective sense.

    I would. And I say that as a former lover of Bridge of Birds to the Nth degree.

    There are two reasons for this:

    First, Neuromancer was a watershed book; the standard-bearer, as it were, for cyberpunk, and for the changes that wrought. Bridge of Birds, for all its qualities, was not; while its *setting* was vastly different, it was not that much of a chance from what had gone before.

    But more importantly, and though this might be a case of the Political Suck Fairy attacking, nonetheless, it is, to my lights, a valid one.

    Let us compare Bridge of Birds with the output of another famous Western writer of fiction set in China, Robert van Gulik.

    In the Judge Dee mysteries, which started when van Gulik translated an existing Chinese text, van Gulik did everything he felt he could to try and bring not merely the time and place, but the literary style, to the modern Western world — his commentaries/forewards/etc. are filled with apologia that thus-and-such “had to change” in order to reach the Western audience, but he clearly wished he could have written it differently. Even Dee’s view of judicial torture (he was on the very lenient end for a Chinese magistrate) would be horrifying to modern eyes — but van Gulik didn’t change it.

    Bridge of Birds, on the other hand, is full of admiration of parts of society — and mockery of others, in a way that makes it clear that Hughart dislikes that which he mocks. (This only becomes clearer in later volumes, where Li Kao describes Chinese epics in comparison to Gilgamesh as “the scribblings of half-witted children”.)

    Don’t get me wrong — I love the Master Li books (as evidenced by the fact that I was able to pull up that quote from the Kindle copy I keep with me on my phone) — but they have a fundamental weakness in their appropriation, and the problems with “authenticity” that comes with that — a problem that Neuromancer doesn’t have.

    As I said recently here in reference to “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead”, if you’re good enough, you can get away with a lot. And I think Bridge of Birds (and its sequels) did — because Hughart was good enough.

    But when it comes down to competing against arguably one of the most influential SF novels in history? A few little problems can make the difference.

  32. Regarding MilSF: As a young coffeebot, I remember eagerly buying each new ‘There Will Be War’ anthology that Pournelle put together. And although I loved the spaceships and the weapons, I remember being put off by all the hot takes on real-world politics. I remember thinking to myself, “I don’t want to read all this political stuff. Where’s my science fiction?” (Which, I can’t help but notice was published by *cough cough* Tor for nine lengthy volumes.)

    Much of what I read then was square in the hard-bitten male protagonist saving the day with cool weapons and robot suits then taking a break to have sexytimes with some new forgettable woman. At sixteen? I loved it. It was pure pulp adventure for a bored kid. Today, I doubt I would read it if you paid me as my tastes changed significantly as I became an adult.

    And when I listen to people complain about how the genre they’ve loved is different now (because SJWs, apparently), I am very strongly reminded of a gamergate-style tantrum in which the fundamental complaint seems to be some variation of: “Why do you have to put gay (or non-white, or female, or…) protagonists in my video games? You’re ruining it.”

    I can’t help but wonder if what they’re really asking for is: to never run the risk of encountering a gay (or non-white, or…) protagonist in a book. Never mind if it might be the story the author wanted to tell. Anything outside the defaults simply must be in order to tick a box on the ‘affirmative action checklist’.

    To all: thanks for the encouragement! My Hugo packet just unlocked and I’ve got a lot of catching up to do before July 31. I’m looking forward to being a more active part of fandom as a result of all this.

  33. Kary English lasted a lot longer than I would have–some of the interactions came perilously close to “Are you now or have you ever been….” territory.

  34. @Kary English:

    At any rate, my question is this: So here we are as writers and we’re trying to be fair, but odds are we’re going to know just about anyone we nominate or recommend. So when is it cronyism and when is it not?

    Kary, I’ve attended and volunteered at SF conventions for many years now. Due to good fortune, I have met many authors and artists, and among that number are some I count as friends. This means that many times I have had the opportunity to nominate and vote for my friends.

    BUT — if I don’t consider my friends’ works worth nominating, I don’t put them on my ballot. When voting for the Hugos, if a friend of mine has a book on the Final Ballot, and I consider another book more worthy of the award, I vote for the better book.

    Friendship is NOT a reason to nominate or vote for something for the Hugos, period.

    Oh, and how to tell a recommendation list from a slate? That’s even easier.
    Recommendation lists will have a dozen or more candidates for EVERY category on the ballot; a slate will be tailored to the number of slots available for each category, so people don’t even have to think when they fill in their ballot.

  35. Peace: Thank you!

    Glad I came back to check though chagrined to see that my reply to Rev. Bob did post here as well as the later thread.

  36. Kevin Standlee — thank you for pointing out the serious structural differences between something like Worldcon and something like SDCC.

    I sometimes think that people who haven’t been to many of either kind think they are a lot more alike than they are.

    Which, also, there are fountain pen conventions? How have I never been to a fountain pen convention?

  37. I once encountered a dazed and oddly delighted person accustomed to big media cons who had come with a group to attend a regular fannish con because it had a theme they were into.

    I heard later report of their disorientation: No crowds! Easily accessible pros who didn’t charge for autographs! Old people! No press passes! Water coolers everywhere! FREE FOOD!!! (Those last two seemed to shock them the most; apparently at media cons they were used to bottled water and mediocre food at jacked-up prices)

    The big media and comics conventions and the classic SFF literary conventions are not the same sort of thing at all.

  38. rrede:

    It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out you were you over here, not just a person who picked a gravatar you-over-there would like.

    I was planning on making a big “HEY TUMBLR FANDOM, WHY NOT VOTE FOR THE HUGOS? AND GO TO THE CON!” post before I got sick, and I still want to do so Real Soon. My own tack is going to be to stress that there are *art awards*, because that’s an area where TW-fandom has an enormous amount to contribute right away.

    Gabriel, I just added you on tumblr, you’ll recognize my smoke.

  39. @rrede

    I had a conundrum when I first started commenting here on the occasional times when its relevant what to call it, since we generally just call it “fandom” and that clearly has a different meaning here. At first I was calling it fanworks fandom, but that wasn’t entirely clear (its not specific enough to differentiate from fanac as a whole), so I switched and I’m glad transformative works fandom is working out okay as a term. I don’t know if anyone’s called it that before. I just needed a way to refer to it which didn’t involve typing out “that lady-centric bit of fandom with all the fanfic and fanart and fanvids and meta” every time!

  40. @rrede:

    I saw the post in both places, but since this is the original thread (and I’m caught up in it!), I hope you don’t mind me responding here. 🙂

    First: CRIBBAGE! I love it. My whole family does, and I didn’t remember it from Heinlein. Oh, well, still. I would love to play a game with you though it’s been some years!

    I’m also very out of practice; it’s been a couple of decades…

    Second: If you get a chance to talk to Eric Flint, tell him he’s gained a fan in rural Texas with the Ring of Fire series-amazing alternate history, which I’d been aware of but never bought because (and I blush to say this) COVERS. But reading his posts got me into the series (the first one being free didn’t hurt).

    I think my favorite subplot there is the Barbie Consortium/Sewing Circle stuff. I am woefully behind on the series, but have made myself a note to pass your praise along.

    I volunteered for the Republicans….now, in those days, the Democrats in Southern Idaho were strongly John Birch and conservative Catholic or Mormon. The Republicans in Northern Idaho were pro-union.

    Talk about a detail that’s gone down the memory hole! Don’t you just love the modern-day Birchers’ attempts to claim Lincoln and tar modern Democrats with slavery? It’s as if 1964 never happened…

  41. Its been so long since I played cribbage that I think I’d have to relearn the rules. Shameful!

  42. 1. I very much want a goodie bag from a fountain pen convention. Would I be considered among wrong-pen-fen for preferring Sheaffer over Waterman?

    2. This is as close as I’m going to get to caught up for about 24 hours, so I’m dropping this here:

    On our drive back from the roller derby game in Lincoln, Nebraska, we stopped for lunch at a Denny’s. (Footnote for non-USA’ns who haven’t encountered one: national chain of All American 24-hour diners with menus centering around breakfasts and especially pancakes and also really, really terrible puns. Closest competitor probably IHOP.) While my husband was driving, I was catching up on my “soaps” (as I have begun to refer to the File770 puppies/Hugos roundups) via his smartphone’s wifi tether.

    We sat down, and I took one look at the placemat-menu and just started laughing, ’cause this is what I saw. (Link goes to twitter-generated photo link. Tweet simply says, “Presented without comment. #Hugos2015”.)

    3. We were promised Rush links! Where are my Rush links? Must I make them myself?

    (RedWombat, you should probably cover your ears now. If I remember correctly you are not a fan, right?)

    “Ted Beale”
    TTTO the song we were getting threatened with in the first place

    There are pups who think that
    Fiction’s took a losing turn
    The gates are kept by PC
    Thugs who seek wit-ches to burn

    A ballot of gray goo
    For me and you too
    From cabals that won’t let ’em in
    ‘They don’t like my guns;
    They think we have wrongfun–‘
    Blame is easy if you know how to spin

    You can choose a ready slate from him who’s called God’s Voice
    If you choose to No Award, that’s totes a valid choice
    You can vote for MilSF with literary zeal
    I will vote for books I love – I won’t vote Ted Beale

    …ye Gods, is that the time? *shuffles off at a deceptively fast speed, one step ahead of the rotten tomatoes*

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