When The Puppies Come Marching Home 8/28

(1) Steve Rzasa on Speculative Faith“Puppies v. Trufans: Civil War”

My short story Turncoat, set in the Quantum Mortis sci-fi universe and written with a very specific aim, was nominated this way: Last spring, Vox Day approached me about writing a short story for the Riding the Red Horse anthology. He saw it as a successor to Jerry Pournelle’s There Will be War. Since I had a genuinely good time writing the Quantum Mortis books, I agreed. Over the next few months, I brainstormed concepts, and wrote Turncoat in July.

Fast forward to December 2014 and Turncoat was released as part of Riding the Red Horse. The first I learned of the Rabid Puppies thing was when I saw Turncoat on Vox’s slate or list or helpful suggestions round-up — whatever you want to call it — in February. I thought that was nice to be considered for such an award, and vaguely read over what Rabid Puppies’ aim was. Frankly, I didn’t think they had a snowball’s chance. But then again, I knew next to nothing about the Hugos and absolutely zero about the previous Sad Puppies efforts.

Whatever the goals of both Puppy groups are/were, they were not, from my perspective, pursued with Christian views in mind. The campaigning on both sides was, in one word, brutal. Even supposing the Puppy groups were correct that they were persecuted and disregarded when it came to science fiction awards, the whole fracas is in direct violation of Paul’s admonitions in Romans 12: Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them… Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

The Puppy vs. Trufan war was not conducted in this fashion. There were some on both sides who conducted themselves well, but name-calling and threats dominated. I’m sure a lot of people outside the debate now think there’s a ton of crazy people reading sci-fi and fantasy.

But don’t kid yourself: this showdown was not about faith. It was about message.

(2) Sarah A. Hoyt on According To Hoyt – “Fauxtrage”

Mary Three Names, whom I don’t mean to impugn, because it’s becoming clear to me that she has an impairment that prevents her from understanding written language but has nonetheless managed to win three Hugos, leapt to a conclusion probably caused by her impairment and decided “Chicom” was a racial insult.

Now, I understand some of the younger people and those who didn’t grow up in Europe during the cold war might NOT know that Chicom is a contraction of Chinese and Communist.  Not a racial slur under any way or form, but a way of specifying these were CHINESE communists, you know, not Russian Communists or Feminist Communists (you know, Mary, Femcoms, you might know some) or any other form of the repulsive ideology.


(3) True dat.

(4) Vox Day on Vox Popoli“Directly over the target”

And wait, there’s more! The SJWs are also engaged in a charity drive so that John Scalzi will read it for the audio version.

As you can see, this is a masterful rhetorical response that totally proves the falsity of the Second Law of SJW: SJWs Always Double Down. One of my friends sent me an email last night that I think aptly describes the situation. “WTF, are you PAYING these people or something?” And just to ice the crazy cake, we’ve now officially gone meta as there are now fake fake reviews being posted. And while I’m not surprised by the nature of the reaction of the science fiction SJWs to the book, I am amazed by the vehemence behind it. They are absolutely furious to see that a book unmasking them was not only published by me, but is riding the very wave of media attention that they themselves created to success. That’s the importance of the parody in their minds; if it can become even more popular than SJWs Always Lie, that will disqualify it and render it harmless, thereby relieving the stress they are presently feeling.

(5) Dave Langford in a comment on Whatever at 1:39 a.m.

$50. I’m too deaf for audiobooks but will imagine this one in my head. WITH SOUND EFFECTS.

You rock Dave!

(6) Walt Boyes on Facebook

[This is a long post, as is the Burnside post that follows. All the excepts can do is suggest why I found them of interest.]

I am neither a Puppy nor a Puppy Kicker. But as a working editor, I am appalled that an award in which nearly all the professional categories requires the services of an editor to be a successful work, something like 2400 votes were cast in opposition to ALL the editor nominees. There were several worthy nominees who were beaten by NO AWARD, in my opinion, unfairly. One comment I have seen repeated several times was that if they were worthy, they’d have won. Maybe they’ll get nominated again sometime. That’s bullshit. They WERE worthy, and they got shat upon. All you have to do is to notice that Toni Weisskopf got four times the number of votes that the winner has in the last five years to see that. Mike Resnick had the same experience in the Best Editor-Short Form category…..

Revenge attempts won’t work, and in the long run, counter-revenge attempts like the slate voting of NO AWARD (Yes, it was a slate, and there is proof that is widely available). In fact, nothing will work. The Hugos are legally owned by the WSFS Trust, and they don’t want the rest of us.

They. Don’t. Want. Us.

I don’t think the Hugos can be saved. At least, I don’t think that the puppies movement will change things. WSFS owns the Hugos. Legally, to change the Hugo system you have to change WSFS. I don’t see that happening.

At Kansas City, amendments to the WSFS constitution will be proposed (please don’t ask me how I know) that will make it even harder to inject an outside nominee into the Hugos than the amendments passed in Spokane do. The Spokane amendments will almost certainly be ratified in Kansas City, as WSFS works to make it harder to “steal” their awards. The amendments made in Kansas City will be ratified in Helsinki, at what will may possibly be a very small Worldcon. Note how few people attended the WSFS business meeting in Spokane. And only people who attend the business meeting have the right to vote on the constitution. No Award will always win in a contest of wills. It isn’t right, but it is the way the rules are rigged. Remember, WSFS _owns_ the Hugo Awards outright. It IS their football.

What is going to happen, basically, is the WSFS Hugo Committee will be given the power to reject any ballot for “wrong think” of any kind. If the puppies campaign in 2016 has legs, WSFS will react by making their control tighter. They will create a “nominating committee” which will prepare a slate (I know, Irony, thy name is WSFS) of nominees for the ballot, from a “suggestion list.”

The SMOFs, the Nielsen-Haydens, and the other PuppyKickers have the numbers and the staying power to do this. The puppies, I am afraid, do not. In order to change this, and keep it from happening, the puppies will have to deliver 300-500 committed puppy voters to Kansas City and Helsinki, in person. $50 supporting memberships won’t help here. You have to have an attending membership, and then you have to show up for the business meetings. There were on the order of 300 people attending the WSFS business meetings in Spokane at some point in the proceedings. This year, the outsiders couldn’t deliver enough votes to take the Hugos. They certainly aren’t going to be able to deliver actual butts in chairs at two successive Worldcons.

The other thing that happened this year, and will happen again, is that the PuppyKickers controlled the media. This is not because of some gigantic left wing media conspiracy. That’s bullshit. Something like six companies, all led by conservatives, and 277 conservative executives control nearly all of the media outlets in the United States. If you don’t think so, look at how comparatively right wing CNN and MSNBC have gotten in the past six months. It’s because of the fact that Nielsen-Hayden and friends knew how to issue a freakin’ press release, and did so regularly. You can see the evidence for this in the fact that all the articles online and in print kept using the same phrases and sentences over and over. That’s because they got press releases, and used them as source material. To my knowledge, the puppies didn’t issue any. They waited for the media to come to them, and by the time they did, what passed for objectivity was the Wired article last weekend….

After the money, it is all about the culture war. There are people who believe honestly and strongly that women, minorities, and sexual issues are not being addressed to their satisfaction in science fiction and fantasy. They believe that there is too much white colonialism in science fiction. Folks, the way to change people’s minds is to understand where they are, be sympathetic to their position, and slowly move them to where you want them to be. It is way too late to do that. There is a crop of writers, mostly women, some women of color, and quite a few men, both white and non-, who are committed to changing what they see as bias toward white only culture.

This is not necessarily wrongthink. Nor is it necessarily the gods’ own truth. Stop telling these young writers they are wrong, or dismissing them as some sort of weird Marxists. Some of them are amazingly gifted writers. The ones that are, write brilliant stories where their bias against white colonialism culture really doesn’t show—it is about the story, and their bias isn’t the plot, and it certainly doesn’t affect the action….

One of the puppy kickers has regularly said, “Go start your own awards.” Despite the snark and the down-nose-looking deprecation, it really is good advice.

I fully expect to be run out of here on a rail for what I’ve said.

It is hard to be neutral in this thing. My sympathies lie with both sides, but my efforts lie in getting good writing, regardless of politics, and writing well myself. I got the trebuchet from David Gerrold after the awards, because I mildly pointed out that I didn’t support, “applause is okay, booing is not.” And I mean mildly. And Gerrold and I go back a ways. I am sure there are more people on the other side (Mike Glyer for one) who think I am an unmitigated Puppy asshole. I am not, and never have been, a Puppy.

Just a note: Walt Boyes has never been mentioned in a post on File 770 before, and only in two comments, neither of which expressed any opinion about him at all.

(7) Ken Burnside – “How the Hugos Crashed, aka: ‘The Diary of a Self-Deploying Human Sandbag In The Culture War”

I went to the INB Theater, sat in the front row and waited.  The long discussion of the Official Hugo Asshole Disks led things off.  The Sasquan chair reminded people that “No Award” was an option.  David and Tananarive did a lovely job, and covered for a few gaffes from script pages not turning, and tried to keep it fun.  I’ve been a master of ceremonies; I’m not going to rag on them for it.

Best Related Works came up.  It went to No Award; I expected that.  I didn’t expect the loud and raucous cheering, which, frankly, pissed me off.

Then Best Short Story came up.  It also went to No Award.  The cheering was even louder.

Then Best Editor, Short Form went to No Award and the cheering was deafening. There were several people who said “Fuck this…that’s not right…” when that happened, down in the nominee area.  David heard it; he quickly looked over the orchestra pit to see what was going on.

Then Best Editor, Long Form went to No Award, and the cheering made the floor tremble. Several people (myself included) started booing.  David said “booing is not appropriate” and I came about a half-second away from standing up and jumping on the stage to grab the mic.  Bryan Thomas Schmidt DID get up and curse loudly.  Toni Weisskopf apparently never went to the ceremony at all; per Bryan the two of them commiserated for a few hours after the ceremony.

Best Novelette went to an actual winner, best Novella got No Awarded (but with less cheering), and Best Novel got a Hugo.  I made a point of personally congratulating all of the Hugo winners when I found them on Sunday.

Words cannot describe how furious I was at the outcome at the time.  I sat in the theater after the lights came up.  I had a brief conversation with political pundit (and fabricator of the Hugo Asshole Disks) Jim Wright.  He agreed with why I was angry: Cheering for No Award (and cheering loudly) was beyond the bounds of acceptable behavior.

For a ceremony that promised to be about inclusion and “we’re all fandom,” having the master of ceremonies feed off the cheering for No Award?  That’s very easy to take as hypocrisy of the first order.  I’ve also been told, multiple times that SF readers are NOT FANDOM…and that’s part of the problem. Seeing “No Award” blow out candidates who were clearly meritorious, like Mike Resnick and Toni Weisskopf?  With cheers that rattled the rafters and made the floor rumble?

I felt so very included in Fandom then.  Really.

(8) Meg Frank discusses why she resigned as a Sasqan committee member in response to the handling of the Antonelli letter to the Spokane cops and what he wrote about Carrie Cuinn.

It is common knowledge at this point that Lou Antonelli wrote a letter to the Spokane PD. It is also known that he went on Sarah Hoyt’s podcast and bragged about it. While many were rightly focused on David Gerrold’s reaction, the simple fact is that he wasn’t the only person harassed and intimidated, and he wasn’t the only one to report it. As the Co-Director of the Hugo Ceremony I reported my fear directly to my superiors. I did so several times – initially rather timidly because I didn’t want to make a fuss, but later rather firmly in a way that could not be misunderstood. One of the vice-chairs, Glenn Glazer, attempted to guilt me into not pursuing the complaint, and one of the Operations Division Heads, Robbie Bourget told me flat out that I hadn’t been harassed. When I pointed this out to them, I was told that I hadn’t ever made an official harassment complaint and lots of sarcasm that wasn’t in any way close to appropriate.

Senior members of the Sasquan committee responded to a member reporting harassment and asking for help with guilt trips, denial, victim blaming, sarcasm and dismissal.

In the interest of avoiding a he said/she said situation, I have PDFd all of the emails in this conversation and placed them in a Google Drive folder here:


[Frank has since created an alternate address because people said they could see all the emails — https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B-XkKq2NGWUZfkEzMlNwMGl3amVndzZ1MmxmakhHUHpEdzJRNG1BOVNRYlBJZEZsd1dPT00&usp=drive_web.]

After a fair bit of crying, some time spent on the phone with Jill, and lunch with a good friend, I decided to resign. I cannot ever in good conscience support a committee that treats its members this way. Any member, including committee members and staff, should feel able to report violations of the code of conduct and be taken seriously.

(9) Cat Valente sets the record straight in a comment on File 770:

I can knock this one down:

>I saw George R.R. Martin declare that all Puppies were Rabid at his party, and hoped that his alternate awards would’t be needed in the future, and more or less cheered for fandom holding off the barbarians. You know, people like me.

I was at the party, and as usual there is a tiny bit of truth in the wreckage of honesty on display.

George did indeed talk at length in the lead up to his announcing the Alfies. Most of it was on the history of the Hugo rocket as a hood ornament and the early days of the Hugo Losers Party that, you know, he invented. When it came time to say something about why he went and dug up old hood ornaments to make awards out of, he did say that he hoped the awards would be the first and last Alfies given out–because he hoped that next year would be a normal Hugos with a fair ballot. He absolutely did not say “all Puppies are Rabid” or anything of the kind. And he did not “more or less” praise fandom for holding off barbarians. You can tell by the “more or less” that this part is complete bullshit.

George Martin has advocated against No Award since day one of this mess. He was sad and hurt and astonished by the vitriol like we all have been, but he in no way presented the No Award result as a victory, (why would he, since he didn’t want No Award to take the night) nor the Alfies as the “real award” in any way. Rather, he emphasized that this was all his opinion and his party and his decision, his “grand and futile gesture.” His exact words were: “And yes, there are committee awards, but I am the committee.”

(10) This sounds terrifying.

(11) Gary K. Wolfe in the Chicago Tribune – “Hugo Awards: Rabid Puppies defeat reflects growing diversity in science fiction”

Following the official awards ceremony, Martin hosted a huge party in a landmark mansion, during which he presented his own “Alfie Awards,” named after science fiction writer Alfred Bester, to several candidates who, according to the final vote tallies, would have been on the Hugo ballot but were bumped by the Puppy slates. The Alfies, made from actual old automobile hood ornaments (which earlier Hugo trophies were said to resemble), also went to Puppy-slate authors who had withdrawn their own nominations, giving up a chance at a Hugo rather than being associated with the Puppies and with slate voting, and to Eric Flint, a novelist who — although he is popular among many Puppies — had posted insightful critical commentary on the controversy during the summer.

Martin clearly viewed the Hugo results as a dramatic victory for fandom and for the science fiction community at large, and made the point, shared by many in the aftermath of the awards ceremony, that in the end the controversy—inevitably dubbed “Puppygate” — represented not a divided science fiction community, but rather a surprisingly united one, and one which chooses to celebrate diversity rather than to view it as a conspiratorial threat. The Puppies themselves — some of whom have since claimed victory simply by forcing the “no awards” votes — may or may not return next year, when Worldcon is in Kansas City. But some estimates have them at no more than 10 percent to 20 percent of this year’s voting, and since the huge membership of the Spokane Worldcon — over 11,000, including non-attending members — provides an enormous base for next year’s nominations, it likely will be more of an uphill battle against a broader community that has already rejected them once and that will not as easily again be taken by surprise.

The final irony in all this is that the Hugo Awards, while more diverse and international in recent years, have never really disdained the kind of adventure fiction that the Puppies claim to champion. I met the winning novelist, Cixin Liu, when he was in Chicago earlier this year, and he made it clear that his idols are classic writers like Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov. “The Three-Body Problem” itself concerns communications with an alien race, the Trisolarans, whose plan is to invade the Earth as a refuge for their own endangered civilization — surely one of the oldest plots in science fiction. John Scalzi, who became one of the chief targets of Puppy vituperation, is a white male who won the Hugo in 2013 for “Redshirts,” a space opera adventure with knowing references to “Star Trek.” Among the novellas bumped off the ballot this year by the Puppy slate was Nancy Kress’ “Yesterday’s Kin,” a well-written tale that begins with an alien spaceship parking itself over New York harbor.

The problem, I suspect, is that none of these works are only about revisiting these favored old tropes. Sometimes they satirize them (as with Scalzi). Sometimes they introduce political themes (as with Cixin Liu, whose novel opens with a harrowing account of China’s Cultural Revolution). Sometimes they focus on character and family relationships (as with Kress). What seems to threaten the Puppies is not that science fiction has forsaken its origins (which it clearly hasn’t), but that readers have come to expect more and to welcome different voices. The old-fashioned modes of space adventure and military science fiction still have substantial markets, but it’s probably true that such works show up less on Hugo or Nebula award ballots than their supporters would like.

(12) Olivia Geng on the Wall Street Journal – “Cixin Liu Becomes First Asian to Win Hugo Award for Science Fiction”

Chinese author Cixin Liu last weekend became the first Asian to win the Hugo Award for best science fiction or fantasy novel. Yet to hear the Shaanxi native tell it, making history pales in comparison to the importance of ensuring science fiction’s future in China.

“I don’t really have any special feeling about it,” Mr. Liu said by phone from his hometown in Yangquan, Shaanxi province, when asked about becoming the first Asian to win the prize in its 62-year history.

“The Hugo Awards are not well-known in China,” he added. “It still cannot change the recent receding popularity of science fiction in China. All I can do is try my best and write as many good sci-fi works as I can.”

(13) R. S. Benedict on Unicorn Booty – “Sorry, Sad Puppies: Science Fictuion Has Always Been Political”

If Mary Shelley was science fiction’s mother, its father was probably H. G. Wells. His many works have been imitated, copied and adapted over and over again. Were H. G. Wells alive today, the Sad Puppies would probably despise him. He was a socialist who believed in racial diversity — a very controversial view in the 19th century.

But, the Sad Puppies might argue, as long as he kept his politics out of his writing, it wouldn’t be a problem. The problem with sci-fi writers is that they insist in letting their politics shape their stories.

Bad news, guys: H. G. Wells’s works were all about politics.

The War of the Worlds was Wells’s reaction to Western imperialism. Unlike many of his countrymen, he believed that Great Britain did not have a God-given right to invade and conquer other nations in Africa and the Pacific. The War of the Worlds was his way of saying to England, “How would you like it if someone did that to you?” He explicitly spells out his point in the novel: ….

(14) Aya de Leon – “The Hugo Awards, Social Justice, and the Psychoanalytics of Genre”

In many ways, the Hugo battle has been inevitable. It’s been coming since the US ended the era of legal racial segregation and began to question strict gender roles. In the latter case, young women have historically been pressured to read materials that reinforced their domestic roles. They weren’t supposed to be concerned with what happened outside their door in this world, let alone be concerned about what was happening in other worlds. But in the 70s and 80s, women SFF writers have developed a strong body of work in the genre and beyond, exploring issues of gender and developing wide readership.

For people of color, prior to integration, SFF was for white people. However, in the 70s and 80s, an early vanguard of black SFF writers began to integrate the genre. During that time, a relatively small number of people of color would read SFF (sometimes—prior to the internet—they were completely unaware of the POC who were writing it). The readership was primarily those of us with white friends, at white schools, or in white communities. Not surprising that SFF themes of alienation or actual aliens spoke to many of us.

(15) jaythenerdkid on The Rainbow Hub – “The Hugo Awards Controversy and Sci-Fi’s Diversity Problem”

The Sad Puppy vision for the Hugo Awards is one where nominations are a meritocracy (where people who write innovatively about gender, sexuality, race and other social issues are considered without merit). The Sad Puppy method of achieving this vision involves harassing everyone who doesn’t agree with them, because their arguments can’t actually stand on merit. They’ve even run afoul of George R. R. Martin, who is about as establishment as it gets in contemporary fantasy (I mean, one of his heroines is a literal white saviour in a land full of brown savages, yikes!), which means they’re now very much persona non grata in the SF/F community, something they’ve decided is a badge of honour rather than a damning condemnation of their beliefs and tactics.

That’s all well and good, but the fact that the Puppies got as far as they did – completely rigging five categories so that the only nominees were of their choosing, and skewing several others so there were very few choices who weren’t theirs – says a lot about a community that’s always inhabited a curious place halfway between insular and inviting, inflexible and innovative. It’s strange to think that the Hugo Awards, which have honoured legends like Ursula K. LeGuin and Octavia Butler, were turned into a farcical man-child temper tantrum by a bunch of jilted former nominees who wanted to ruin everyone else’s fun. At the same time, it makes perfect sense coming from a community that can accept the War of the Roses with dragons, but not making a fictional god female. There’s always been this element in the fandom of people – mostly men, mostly cis, mostly straight, mostly white, mostly middle-class, mostly college-educated – who think escapism and adventure stop being fun once politics that don’t agree with their own are introduced. (They’re fine, of course, with the hard-right libertarian politics of works like Ender’s Game or the oeuvre of Terry Goodkind.) The internet has enabled these squeaky wheels, giving them wider platforms and the ability to organise their bullying and harassment.

(16) Joe Vasicek on One Thousand and One Parsecs – “The Decline and Fall of Fandom and the Hugo Awards”

Can the Hugo Awards be saved? I seriously doubt it. The “truefans” will jealously clutch it to their chests until they die, and with the graying of fandom, that will probably be accomplished fairly soon. But just as the Renaissance rose from the long-cold ashes of the Roman Empire, so too I hope that something good will eventually come out of all of this. Because really, there is a place in fandom (lower-case f) for everyone, and that has never changed.

(17) Creative Bloq – “Hugo Award-winning artist reveals her secrets to success”

Here, Elizabeth reveals her top tips for fantasy and sci-fi artists who want to get noticed…

01. Community

Search out art communities, locally and web-based.  We are a reasonably small set of artists in the grand scheme of things and it becomes really easy to see all of the connections and overlaps.

Personally, I highly recommend ArtOrder.  Jon Schindehette is a huge advocate for artists in general and ArtOrder is his baby.

02. Professionality

Be professional.  Always, always, always make deadline.  READ YOUR CONTRACTS.

03. Exceed Expectations

Strive to make your art director look awesome through giving them great work. One of the bits of advice I follow is do not create illustration you feel simply reflects your payment.

Always try to exceed their expectations.  It may only be a $100 contract, but your work should look like you were paid $500.  The internet is forever.  Your work is you.

(18) Natalie Luhrs on Pretty Terrible – “No More Memory Holes”

So remember how Sasquan decided that even though Lou Antonelli violated their Code of Conduct they weren’t going to enforce the Code of Conduct because David Gerrold didn’t want them to?  Turns out that Gerrold wasn’t the only one feeling harassed and intimidated–and he wasn’t the only one to report it.

Meg Frank, the Events Deputy Division Head also reported same against Lou Antonelli and was told by the head of operations, Robbie Bourget, that she had not been harassed and one of the vice-chairs, Glenn Glazer, attempted to guilt her into backing down.  Instead of backing down, Meg Frank resigned a week before the convention.  Frank has provided a PDF of emails to back up her assertions.

I wish I could say I was surprised, but I’m not.  Here are a some screencaps from the Journeymen of Fandom group on Facebook in which it is clear that Robbie Bourget sees the rehabilitation of offenders back into community as a higher priority than attendee safety….

(19) Juliette Wade on TalkToYoUniverse“My new SF/F Reading Journal for next year’s Hugos”

I have been inspired by this year’s Hugos.

It’s become clear to me, as perhaps it has to many others, that entrusting my opinions of the latest genre works to others to nominate for awards is not enough any more.

One might ask: why haven’t I done the active, thorough job I wanted on nominating? Easy: life. The biggest factor in my failure is my faulty, distracted, non-eidetic memory.

Therefore, I’m starting a reading journal.

Essentially, I am a very busy person (as many are), and I can’t always call to mind every story I’ve read in a year, even the good ones. From now on, every time I read a story in the field, or a brilliant article, etc. I’ll be writing down title, author, and publication

(20) Cat Rambo on The World Remains Mysterious – “My Report from Sasquan: Mostly Glorious and So Many Thank Yous”

Met up with Mike Resnick, who has appeared on the Hugo ballot a breathtaking 37 times, winning 5, after the panel. We ventured out into the hazy afternoon along the riverwalk to talk about some SFWA stuff and came out of that excited about some prospects. I’m a longtime fan of Mike’s, not just of his excellent work, but of the way he helps newer writers, consistently extending a hand by collaborating with or publishing them. As SFWA President, I’m trying to make sure that the org’s moving forward in a way that makes (almost) everyone happy, so I wanted to talk about how we could use some of SFWA’s new marketing resources to help with the committee that Mike has ably headed for so long, the Anthology Committee. I’m looking forward to working with him on the SFWA projects we discussed.

[Thanks to Mark Dennehy, Ann Somerville, and John King Tarpinian for some of these links.]

592 thoughts on “When The Puppies Come Marching Home 8/28

  1. @Mike Glyer:

    That was pretty amazing, wasn’t it?

    I actually fan-squeed when I read the badge of the woman who had sat down immediately to my left, a few minutes before. And I never do that.

    (She was very nice about my gushing my appreciation.)

  2. @ Lydy
    I’m with you. For some reason the harassment police didn’t think “he made my friend come running to me in tears because he’d crashed our party and she knew he’d ruin the evening for her” was enough justification for keeping a man out of a place where he wanted to be. As long as he didn’t creep on the concom’s teenage daughters, every other girl in the place was fair game…

  3. Thank you, Ann. We’re both doing well.

    I think one of my more recent insights is that I was incredibly blessed by two important factors. The first was that I wasn’t embarrassed. It helps a lot to be in my 50s. This would have been much harder to think about and deal with when I was in my 20s. I was really pretty clear that it wasn’t my fault. That’s a thing that comes with time. Unfortunately, the prime target for sexual harassment are women in their 20s.

    The other thing that I had that many people who are targeted by harassers do not have is an in depth trust of the people and processes that deal with the complaint. The Board is made up of people I’ve known for a very long time, some of them for 20 years, and people who know me. They are also people whom I had been working with over the previous year on exactly this issue, so I knew where they stood, what their strengths and weaknesses were. As for the process…well, I’d written a fair chunk of it, so I believed in it, too.

    Trust is an enormous luxury, and one which most people making a report do not have. As a community, we are incredibly bad at this stuff. It is important to note that not only do we not trust our community to deal with compassion towards targets, but we don’t trust them to deal with care towards the community itself. We worry both about adding to the damage done, and we worry that we will over-react and damage the things we value in the community. And there are examples of the latter, too. Which means that the target cannot let go of the feelings of responsibility that they have towards their community. They worry that by making a report, they’ll do damage to something that the love. Me, I had an incredibly unusual situation: I knew who was going to make the decisions, I’d seen them act in the past, and I felt that I could let go and let them deal with it. They actually did even better than I expected, and I was pleased. I am, however, the easy case. What I’m hoping is that by cutting our organizational teeth on the easy ones, we can learn to deal better with the harder ones. And they’re out there, and I know of a few of them.

  4. @JBWeld: Yikes. So, it’s ok to ruin the party as long as…I’m not following the logic, here.

    We get to make a choice. We can not exclude the harassers, or we can not exclude the harassed. We have to make that choice. Not making a choice is letting the harassers run free, and we lose all those other voices. And really, who would you rather talk to at 3 in the morning in the consuite? The blowhard who cares nothing for your feelings, or the shy person who knows a shit-ton about “Steven Universe”? Choose wisely, fandom, choose wisely.

  5. I would say that perhaps 70%-80% of Sasquan attendees I talked and listened to had either never even heard of the Kerpupple or did not know any significant factual details about it.

    That holds up with my experience as well – I was thinking maybe 2/3 of the people I talked to there in person didn’t know about the Puppies. But then again, it was largely an internet kerfuffle, so there probably wasn’t too much leakage into the meatspace side of things. The attendees were more interested in actually attending the convention, for the most part.

    Here’s the official stats from Sasquan’s twitter on how many members of each type voted in the Hugos: 1874 attending, 4076 supporting.

    So of the roughly 5000 physical attendees, only about 37% even voted in the Hugos.

  6. Wildcat: Here’s the official stats from Sasquan’s twitter on how many members of each type voted in the Hugos: 1874 attending, 4076 supporting.

    So of the roughly 5000 physical attendees, only about 37% even voted in the Hugos.

    That’s interesting. I don’t know that a Hugo admin team has ever released that info before.

    Sasquan hasn’t updated its Membership numbers page since 29 July, but according to this post, that would make 6590 Supporting members, with 4076, or 62%, having voted.

    But I don’t know if that’s right. That would make an increase from 4151 to 6590 Supporting members in the 2 weeks before the con.

  7. So of the roughly 5000 physical attendees, only about 37% even voted in the Hugos.

    That’s actually pretty good. One thing to keep in mind about SF fandom is that’s it’s not just about SF&F it’s about fandom itself. Bob Tucker recognized that a long time ago, naturally.

    For a comparison, I’m also a folk music fan. One of the things I’ve done for years is go to the Winnipeg Folk Festival, which, as you might expect has a lot of folk music (some may quibble about it really being folk music, of course). But when the Festival polled its’ members one year they found that only about 5% of the attendees were first and foremost there for the folk music itself. Most were there for the event, a.k.a. ‘eventers’. Most of the year they didn’t listen much to folk music, but they still love the folk fest.

    So when it comes to cons, even Worldcon, there are a lot of ‘con fans’ also in the mix who are there to socialize with fellow fans but who are not as devoted to reading SF&F as the trufans are.

  8. The complaints against Antonelli seem perilously close to using harassment policy as a cudgel instead of as a shield.

    Oh do explicate some more, Mr Rosen. I’m dying to hear the spin on this one.

    Once harassment is extended to “this person did something to someone else and now I don’t feel safe” or “this person did something to me at another time and place and now I don’t feel safe” there are problems. First, the committee has no way of judging what happened outside the convention. Second, it opens the door wide to filing false claims in order to launch attacks. We know this will happen, because in fact that’s exactly what Antonelli did, only using the police instead of the Con committee. Third, a complaint about being afraid, rather than about a specific action, has to be based on a reasonable premise.

    Harassment policies should cover people doing specific physical things at the convention, and complaints about harassment should come from people who have had things done to them (or from witnesses to such specific actions). Complaints about what someone might do have to be grounded in evidence that the fear is justified.

    Antonelli is an idiot, but the whole fear-of-a-bomb thing is just pearl clutching. There is and was no evidence that anyone involved in this whole affair was planning to blow anything up.

  9. Hyman Rosen: Antonelli is an idiot, but the whole fear-of-a-bomb thing is just pearl clutching. There is and was no evidence that anyone involved in this whole affair was planning to blow anything up.

    Did you miss the fact that the “fear-of-a-bomb” thing came from Antonelli himself, and not non-Puppies?

  10. Hyman Rosen: Once harassment is extended to “this person did something to someone else and now I don’t feel safe”… there are problems.

    It wasn’t just “this person did something to someone else and now I don’t feel safe” — it was “this person did something to someone else in direct relation to Sasquan and now I don’t feel safe”. That’s very different.

    I have had 3 different stalkers in the past. Two of them were of the opposite gender, engaging in what they thought was “romantic” behavior, continuing to follow and bother and harass me despite my saying repeatedly, “I’m not interested and never will be, please go away and leave me alone”. One of them managed to obtain my new address and landline number after I moved residence.

    The third was someone of the same gender, who took huge umbrage at something I posted online (even though it was not about them personally), and threatened numerous times to come find me in person and “sort me out”. Then I discovered that they were contacting people I knew by e-mail and phone and trying to find out where I worked. Does any of this sound familiar???

    Eventually they stopped bothering me when they were, uh, temporarily relocated to a place where they could receive assistance with their mental issues.

    So perhaps you can understand why it freaked me out and intimidated me to discover myself less than a meter away from Lou Antonelli at a File770 gathering. The claim that what he did to David Gerrold did not affect anyone else is spurious — it sure as hell had the effect of making me feel a lot less safe at Sasquan.

    And I am quite sure there were any number of people attending Sasquan who had good reason to feel the same way I did.

    You don’t get to tell other people that they don’t have a reasonable basis for feeling unsafe at Sasquan after what Antonelli did to Aaron, and after what he did to Gerrold. Sasquan blew that call entirely, when they decided to override their decision to ban him and let him attend anyway.

  11. Hyman Rosen is, it seems clear to me, approaching l’affaire Antonelli from the perspective of a legal case involving the court system. In that context, in which the things at stake can include one’s life, liberty, and property, it makes sense to be cautious, to insist on specific, credible evidence, and yada yada yada.

    What Hyman Rosen does not appear to be grasping is that this is not, nor was it ever, a court case. Sasquan’s concom was not tasked with adjudicating the question of whether or not Antonelli should be fined or imprisoned; rather, Sasquan’s concom was tasked with the question of deciding whether or not Antonelli was a big-enough asshole that his presence would make Sasquan a less-enjoyable experience for other con-goers.

    When concoms get the power and authority to enforce their Codes of Conduct with fines or imprisonment, then it will be time to worry about specificity of evidence, presumption of innocence, and all the rest of that legalistic paraphernalia. Then, and only then.

  12. One of the reasons for the harassment policies is to identify and prevent those who are preying the opportunity to do so again. So, yes, it *does* become a matter of “they did something to somebody else.”

    One of the reasons that anti-harassment policies too so long to actually be attempted is that there were people saying that there would be so many false reports, reminiscent about the often-debunked claim that most rape accusation were false. From your apparent reasoning there should be no anti-harrassment policies in place at all.

    SF/F fandom is a small community. A number of serial harassers were tolerated for a long time because we had no formal policy on dealing with them that would not look like a personal attack. We are still dealing with the problems of non-enforcement (look at the Readercon issue, and other cons who have failed to live up to their stated policies).

    Part of the issue is that no matter how egregious the harassment, and how firm the proof (we have Antonelli *boasting* about what he did) there is always the temptation to “cut ’em some slack” – because in fandom we’re socialized that way. But, you know what? People who are repeatedly abused are socialized that way too. And abusers, and those who harass repeatedly (and we have three very high profile cases where Antonelli *did* harass people, and *boasted* about it) will repeat the behaviour as long as people will let them get away with it.

    The convention I am most active with now has a formal printed (and enforced) harassment policy. For a long time we didn’t. And we had a problem with a certain individual who we ousted, and who actually went to court to sue to be allowed back in. He was finally banned by the venue we were using, and that was by the venue itself (partly because he started mouthing off to hotel security and the local police.

    Since then we have had a couple of incidents, but none, that I know of, that have been blown off by the convention staff. Maybe it was our prior experience.

    Antonelli’s actions *did* put the convention membership in danger.

    And it was *Antonelli* who made the throwaway line about the bomb threat.

    He had already shown he had poor judgement. Should the convention assume that his poor judgement didn’t extend further?

    With your reasoning, about the fear of false reports, it sounds like you want either no policies at all, or do what at least one con has done, and say that “it’s not our problem – if you are harassed it’s your problem, you call the local PD.”

  13. It’s Craig R! While I may have missed an interim appearance, I just want to say I’m happy to see you’re well enough to participate again.

  14. Hyman Rosen:

    Harassment policies should cover people doing specific physical things at the convention, and complaints about harassment should come from people who have had things done to them (or from witnesses to such specific actions).

    It was once as black-and-white as that to me, too. When did it change? In the past week, seeing Lou Antonelli unravel on Facebook, after he was given a golden opportunity to get his act together — at great cost to the Sasquan committee, which will continue to be hammered about that decision for some time to come.

    Were the MidAmeriCon II committee to say, oh, we are just delighted if Lou wants to attend because he hasn’t violated any of our policies yet, that would be the height of folly.

  15. @Mike G.

    It’s Craig R! While I may have missed an interim appearance, I just want to say I’m happy to see you’re well enough to participate again.


    Thank you.

    I get more tired and more easily, but She Who Must Be Obeyed noticed that even as quickly as a day after I get out of the hospital that I was moving faster than just before (as in walking faster).

    I should be starting cardiac rehab Real Soon Now, and my morning meal is augmented by mucho Better Living Through Pharmacy 🙂

    It’s good I wasn’t planning on going to Worldcon this year, though!

    All told, I’m happy to be able to say “I was sensible when I didn’t feel well and went to the hospital.” But let me tell ya, it’s amazing the reaction you get when you walk up to the triage nurse and say “I have pain radiating from my shoulder down my arm, into my chest and back and I’m having problems breathing”……

  16. @Hyman Rosen: What you are suggesting is what I would call “judicial cosplay.” (I don’t remember who coined the term, it was Elise Mattheson who introduced me to it.) Conventions do not have the authority or the infrastructure to indulge in such behavior. But we are also not handling out penalties which will permanently alter a person’s life situation.

    There’s a huge amount of worry about false reports. I acknowledge the false reports can happen, and have happened. However, at this moment in time, because of the way our social space is constructed, and the way our enforcement has historically functioned, they are rare. My feeling is that we need to build systems that deal with the facts on the ground. At the same time, I think we need to be aware that as we reduce the social cost of making a report, the chance of a false report increases, and so we need to be constantly aware of how the landscape is changing. But just at this moment in time, false reports are rare.

    Eventually, I hope that we can get away from the first strike/mutually assured destruction model of reporting harassment. I want it to be possible for someone to go home and say, “Shit, I got thrown out of the con last weekend for harassing someone. Man, I really need to do better.” And to then do better. For it not to be a permanent blot on their character if they can do better, but for the behavior not to be tolerated. And for it not to be a permanent blot on someone’s character if they make a report which is not substantiated by the con. We need to build some resilience into the system. Weirdly, the first steps towards building resilience, I believe, mean stricter enforcement.

    In order for the system to become more responsive, more resilient, it first needs to gain trust from con attendees. And that means actually dealing with the problems we face, not finding good reasons not to. Judicial cosplay almost always functions as a way to avoid dealing with things.

  17. @Craig R.

    I’m glad you’re feeling a bit better. 🙂

    @Mike Glyer

    Antonelli is providing conrunners everywhere with a fantastic object lesson in why banning someone pre-emptively might be the better option.

  18. Mike Glyer: In the past week, seeing Lou Antonelli unravel on Facebook, after he was given a golden opportunity to get his act together — at great cost to the Sasquan committee, which will continue to be hammered about that decision for some time to come.

    Meredith: Antonelli is providing conrunners everywhere with a fantastic object lesson in why banning someone pre-emptively might be the better option.

    Yep, the mercy Sasquan showed him in allowing him to attend the con and the Hugo ceremony really caused him to engage in thoughtful introspection and change his ways. He’s now filed a written complaint against Aaron — presumably for having a personal opinion on government time.

    So much for the “retirement” of Crazy Uncle Lou.

  19. My personal reaction to Antonelli’s “apology” after he bragged about his letter to the Spokane police chief was quite cynical. I’m sorry to be right.

  20. When Nixon had his enemy list compiled, at least he was President. Lou is a legend in his own mind.

  21. Ghods.

    Antonelli does *not* learn.

    What does he think it *is* when you file a formal complaint, in writing, at someone’s workplace, about something that occurred away from the workplace, had nothing to do with that person’s work and you actually had never met them, and they never actually identified where they worked.

    Of course it looks like he’s trying to screw with someone’s job.

  22. He didn’t want Aaron fired.

    He just wanted Aaron to be the subject of a Congressional investigation.

  23. Craig R: What does he think it *is* when you file a formal complaint, in writing, at someone’s workplace, about something that occurred away from the workplace, had nothing to do with that person’s work and you actually had never met them, and they never actually identified where they worked… Of course it looks like he’s trying to screw with someone’s job.

    What Antonelli is too clueless to realize is that his first offense was probably not taken too seriously, and put down to being a one-off.

    But now he’s going to have his own file indexed in the U.S. Government’s Crazy Kook File Cabinet.

    He should probably be demanding his membership fee back from Mensa.

  24. To think that I once thought Antonelli was one of the more reasonable puppies. This is just too much. Like a buscrash in slow motion.

  25. Antonelli has taken the goodwill the fan community extended him and interpreted it as tacit approval to not change his behaviour. That’s actually abusive.

  26. JJ:

    He’s now filed a written complaint against Aaron

    Hmm, I’m wondering if your word ‘now’ means you’re thinking he’s sent a ‘written complaint’ recently? Looks to me as if his Facebook comments of yesterday are referring to Antonelli’s e-mail and then telephone call to Aaron’s office in late April.

    According to what Aaron reported at the time, including what appears to be the full text sent in e-mail, the sum total of what Antonelli said there was that he was going to do was ‘drop off copies of [Aaron’s] Twitter insult’ at Aaron’s office, essentially saying ‘Hey, Aaron’s government bosses, I want you to know that your staff attorney Aaron, on his own time and with his own resources, called me an asshole on Twitter.’ (I’ve assumed for the sake of discussion that this was something Aaron did from home, not that employers generally give a rat’s derriere about an employee using, e.g., a break period to check Twitter and post an extremely mild insult from one private person to another.)

    That’s, to be blunt and avoid beating around the bush, pretty screwball, and Antonelli did (yesterday) use the wording ‘I did make a complaint’, but I’m not sure ‘your guy said “asshole” from his personal Twitter account’ is exactly the sort of thing people usually think of when they say ‘file a written complaint’.

    (There might be more, but I’m going by Aaron’s contemporaneous writings on the subject.)

    @Nick Mamatas:

    He just wanted Aaron to be the subject of a Congressional investigation.

    Quite. Imagine the fainting spell if Aaron had tweeted the word ‘damn’. He might need to explain to his shocked bosses that though ‘bother it’ he may occasionally say, he never uses a big, big D. (Well, hardly ever.)

    Somehow, I don’t think ‘Your staff attorney, off the clock, tweeted that I’m an asshole, boo hoo’ wouldn’t even get a tiny bite. Maybe Antonelli would have better luck taking it to Geraldo Rivera. Or the Illuminati, or The Trystero.

    (In my experience, it’s always safest to be provably and fully off the employer clock if tangling with passive-aggressive Internet whack jobs, but mileage differs.)

  27. Rick Moen: Somehow, I don’t think ‘Your staff attorney, off the clock, tweeted that I’m an asshole, boo hoo’ wouldn’t even get a tiny bite. Maybe Antonelli would have better luck taking it to Geraldo Rivera. Or the Illuminati, or The Trystero.

    Well, that’s the “Crazy Uncle Lou” part, isn’t it? Because most of us would look at that, laugh our asses off, and realize that the idea is absolutely ludicrous.

    The fact that there are people who look at that and think, “Hmmm, yeah, this is a great idea — I will no doubt get the response I am hoping for” is what’s so fricking scary.

  28. Oh Antonelli No.

    Conrunners who have Real Life jobs (which I’m guessing is most of them) are going to look Antonelli’s tendency to carry grudges much further than other people think is reasonable and think Hell No.

    (Also Brad wanders into that Facebook post and drops that “Kip Drordy” insult he’s becoming so fond of. For an award-winning writer he sure is repetitive)

  29. @Rick

    No, Crazy Uncle Lou is now saying that he took a written complaint to Aaron’s office and was told to put it in the mail.

    He’s also very carefully not correcting the people in the comment stream who assume that Aaron was claiming anything about working for the government or associating his speech with his job.

    Lou Antonelli – Asshole

  30. @Maximillian:

    No, Crazy Uncle Lou is now saying that he took a written complaint to Aaron’s office and was told to put it in the mail.

    Forgive me if I’m missing something, but this sounds exactly the same as what was said in April. He told Aaron in e-mail he was going to bring a printout of the Twitter ‘asshole’ comment to Aaron’s bosses, but then realised that walking directly into a Federal office with a grievance (or something like that) posed problems, and therefore (according to him) telephoned the office where he believed Aaron worked to verify it was the right place, before putting it in the mail.

    The Facebook comments yesterday appear to refer to the exact same thing, and this ‘written complaint’ stuff appears to refer to just the printout of the Twitter ‘asshole’ comment — maybe with a (crayon?) cover note saying ‘Your employee was mean to me’, etc., who knows?

    My only point was that, unless there are details I’ve not seen, the inference of a new ‘written complaint’ are erroneous reading of Antonelli’s recent Facebook comments, and (far as Aaron or anyone else has revealed) the ‘written complaint’ was just the your-guy-called-me-an-asshole idiocy from April.

    Psychoceramic, to be sure, but also IMO petty rubbish of little consequence — and, moreover, four-month-old rubbish and not a new story. Your Mileage May Differ[tm].

    ETA: I, too, hope MAC2’s concom are thinking, if they get membership money from him, they’ll say ‘Here’s your money back. Relax and go to Six Flags.’

  31. It was once as black-and-white as that to me, too. When did it change? In the past week, seeing Lou Antonelli unravel on Facebook, after he was given a golden opportunity to get his act together — at great cost to the Sasquan committee, which will continue to be hammered about that decision for some time to come.

    They’ll be hammered by some, but given the final results I think they made the best of a bad situation, and that castigating them is unfair. Antonelli’s case is less about harassment and more about him being rude, obnoxious and a fugghead. At this point, he shouldn’t expect the party to open the door to him at MAC 2 based on not just his past, but his current behavior.

  32. He just wanted Aaron to be the subject of a Congressional investigation.

    I know he called my office and was told he could be connected to either the General Counsel or me. He declined. I know he wrote a letter to his Congressman (or maybe Senator, I haven’t seen it).

    That’s about all I know right now. I don’t particularly care to go over and see what it is that Crazy Uncle Lou is saying right now on social media.

  33. What bothers me is that there’s no real reason for Antonelli to bring this up now except to stir the anthill again. He just wants to get those attaboys from his commenters, though that’s not going quite as he expected, I think. When some of Antonelli’s own commenters are saying “Whoa, that might have been a step too far,” you might think he would take notice.

  34. Also Brad wanders into that Facebook post and drops that “Kip Drordy” insult he’s becoming so fond of.

    I think I have about 3,500 more friends than BT or LA do, so I’ve got that going for me.

  35. I think I have about 3,500 more friends than BT or LA do

    Yeah, but who has more enemies? The Xanatos gambit works in mysterious ways…

  36. Nick: C’mon, Nixon had an enemies list when he was a junior member of HUAC. Give the man credit.

  37. It’s interesting to see Ed Dravecky, one of Antonelli’s friends, patiently trying to school him on his mistakes while everyone else is egging him on and stoking his resentments. As Dravecky correctly tells him:

    “But editing the publisher’s e-mail to remove a key sentence about timing and motive then adding identifying information not present in the original e-mail (which you’ve admitted you did) takes it past simple reproduction into willful manipulation.”

  38. The text of the Facebook post appears to put the letter around the time of Ravencon, which was in April. The new information is that we now know he actually did it whereas when Aaron first told us about Antonelli’s reaction I think Antonelli was only saying he was going to do it. I’d have to go back and check to find out for sure, but I think that was the gist of the thread where Antonelli turned up.

    I assume Antonelli has since acquired a thicker skin, otherwise he’s going to spend a lot of time writing letters to the employers of the many, many people who now think he’s an asshole.

    I’m tired of Puppy claims that “these people” aren’t worth apologising to because it’s “nothing but attack fodder”. Do they think the refusals to accept Gallo’s apology have been forgotten?

  39. Interestingly, in his response to that, he claims not to remember what parts of Cruinn’s email he edited and what he added to it, considering that mere ‘forensic’ details. Of course, this is in a response to someone’s post describing the changes he made to it.

    The self-justification is strong in this one.

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