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….