And Now For Something Completely Distempered 6/9

aka A Can-On-Tail For Puppy Wits

Today’s roundup contains these multitudes: Kameron Hurley, Chuck Wendig, Vox Day, J. Lassen, Carolyn Cox, Tobias Buckell, Jim C. Hines, Lou Antonelli, Tom Knighton, Jay Hathaway, Gavia Baker-Whitelaw, Paul Cornell, N.K. Jemisin, Kate Elliott, K. Tempest Bradford, John Scalzi, Jessica Price, Amanda S. Green, Martin Wisse, Mur Lafferty, Andrea Phillips, Harry Connolly, Steven Brust, Mary Robinette Kowal, John C. Wright, Sigrid Ellis, J.C. Salomon, Mark Pitcavage, Joe Vasicek, Katrina A. Templeton, L. Rhodes, Eric Flint, Lis Carey, Spacefaring Kitten, Russell Blackford, Cirsova and Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag.  (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day ULTRAGOTHA and Pip R. Lagenta.)

Kameron Hurley

“The Revolution of Self-Righteous Dickery will Not Be Moderated” – June

Here’s what fucking pisses me off: it’s that this fucking pissing contest between a bunch of dudes – none of whom will actually have careers harmed in this fucking circle jerk, let’s be real – is hurting the exact people it’s meant to hurt, because they’re the most vulnerable, the ones most likely to get thrown under the bus, and those guys and their mobs fucking know it.

You can’t even say “the sky is fucking blue” on the internet, as a woman, without public shaming. Where was the public employer outcry during RaceFail, or FrenkelFail?

I’d like to tell you there’s no solution to it, and corporations are corporations, and this is how it is, but one can write a politic letter reminding people that a company’s employees are not speaking for the company on their personal social media pages (which the Neilsen-Haydens have been doing for YEARS without public reproach) without calling out one particular person who simply explained on her personal page in simple terms the politics of a handful of people who hijacked an award ballot, the politics of which have been well documented in pretty much every major news piece (including one I wrote!). Funny, isn’t it, that nobody was publicly castigated by their employer for comments related to RaceFail or FrenkelFail but my god a woman said some dudes are sexist bigots because they have said sexist bigoted things and pushed a slate that resulted in fewer female nominees for the Hugos than in recent years past and OMG:


If you’re an employer faced with a mob of bigots because a female employee said a true thing in public, maybe take a step back and ask how you’d have responded (if at all) if they came after one of your top dudes for saying the exact same thing. You may not even have to think very long because they probably already have.

Then ask yourself how awesome you really are now that you’ve publicly named and shamed her and basically threw her out to the Gamergate/Puppy wolves to be harassed online and in the comment sections of your own post. Ask yourself how awesome and fair-handed you are to do that.


Chuck Wendig on terribleminds

“I Stand By Irene Gallo” – June 9

I stand by Irene Gallo because she is a person who has the right to air her personal sentiments, regardless of whether or not we find them disagreeable. She has that right without being smacked across the nose by her employer in a sanctioned public shaming. I do not agree with Tor’s posturing on this point because it represents a double-standard of sexism and favoritism. I do not agree with Tor because they are opening the tent flap to the worst among us. The publisher is cultivating an invasive species with a letter like that. They are lending them space on the debate floor, turning this whole affair into a clownish, brutal, and bullying mosh pit.



Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“The rules of the game” – June 9

Those priorities, of course, are their prerogative. Unlike Tor Books, everyone at Castalia House, from our volunteers to our Publisher, respects and values our authors. We value every single one of them, even those with whom we inevitably disagree on one issue or another. We value our customers as well, and as those who have had the occasional problem with getting their books delivered know, we go out of our way to take care of them even if the problem is on their end. The idea of actually attacking them is the polar opposite of our attitude towards our customers. Without our customers, we not only don’t exist, we have no reason to exist. Tor Books appears to have forgotten that. Stephen Ashby is nevertheless dubious:

You expect a resignation? I can see why you want one, but I don’t see what would lead you to expect it. Personally I expect Tor will simply pretend the matter is dealt with, and if you don’t accept that then they will claim you’re the one being unreasonable.

Absolutely. I expect one because I don’t believe Tom Doherty or Patrick Nielsen Hayden are entirely stupid. If they don’t accept her resignation soon, then I expect Macmillan, who I don’t believe to be stupid in any way, shape, or form, to not only fire Gallo but also remove those executives who have been derelict in their management duties. The further away one is from the cultural battle in SF/F, the more totally inexcusable Gallo’s behavior appears. Especially from the purely corporate perspective. Not only was Ms Gallo’s attitude and statement in direct conflict with the Macmillan Code of Conduct, it is is direct conflict with one of the most basic rules of business: cherish your customers and treat them with care and respect.




Carolyn Cox on The Mary Sue

“Tor Condemns Creative Director Irene Gallo for Posting About the Rabid/Sick Puppies on Her Personal Facebook” – June 9

Many of the authors nominated by the Sad Puppies slate write books with positive representation; many of those same authors have also spoken out against the group in the same way that Gallo did. I’ve no doubt that some Puppies have honestly good intentions, but considering the group’s loudest messages condemn me for my sexuality and gender, I side with Irene Gallo, too.

And no, feeling persecuted for being a Puppy isn’t the same as the persecution faced by members of marginalized groups. It’s one thing to throw a woman to Gamergaters in an official post, and something very different to use a personal social media account to critique people for aligning themselves with a dubious online group.


Tobias Buckell

“What the ever loving fuck? I stand by Irene Gallo as well” – June 9

The first thing I thought was, “where was the public post for Jim Frenkel serially harassing women all throughout many cons for how long with public apology or note regarding how editors should behave?”

Chuck calls this is a triple standard, and I have to say, I believe much the same thing.


Jim C. Hines

“Why Didn’t You Blog About ________?” – June 9

My post about the Sad Puppies is up to 100+ comments at this point, and several of those comments have expressed frustration that I didn’t write about something different, generally things like, “Why didn’t you do a similar post on things said about the Sad Puppies” or “You should be talking about the Rabid Puppies instead of the Sads.”

I didn’t write about the Rabid Puppies in part because there doesn’t seem to be much confusion or ambiguity about Theodore Beale’s beliefs and motives, and I’m not all that interested in giving him attention. As for things said about the puppies…said by whom? I was blogging about the official pupmasters of the Sad Puppies movement, and despite claims of conspiracies and wars, there is no equivalent Anti-Puppy group.


Lou Antonelli on Facebook – June 9

I suspect, the “reviews” being as biased and bitter as they are, that most reasonable people are now being repelled by these screeds. The other comments are not helping, either. David Gerrold has become a tedious scold. Attacks, such as the one by Irene Gallo of Tor books which came to light recently, only create sympathy for Sad Puppies.

Neither side has covered itself in glory, but from what I see, when Sad Puppies have behaved badly, it is because they have been viciously and unfairly attacked. It’s a defensive reaction. I am the first to admit that, if you insult and attack me, it’s quite possible I’ll lose my temper. I’m Italian, remember?

On the other hand, I get the impression most of the viciousness from the Puppy Kickers has been cold-blooded and heartless. Given the choice between wearing my heart on my sleeve, and not having a heart at all, I’ll take my chances with losing my temper – and being hurt – by keeping my heart.


Tom Knighton

“Much Ado about Puppies, Hugos, and other critters” – June 9

Eric Flint gave a master class in how to put principle over ideology, and he has my deepest respect for that.  I’ve seen him blow up during this mess like everyone, but anyone can lose their temper.  What I’ve consistently seen from him during all of this was what I hope to see from all my opponents on a given issue.

So, as an died-in-the-wool capitalist gun-toting libertarian, I am going to try and emulate Eric’s approach going forward.  As a passionate, mercurial kind of guy who seems to do his best work when he’s pissed off, however, I won’t hold my breath on succeeding.

Recently on Twitter, and apparently it was shared on File770, I made the comment that I didn’t think compromise was possible between the two sides.  I’m not sure that there is, but I’m far more hopeful that I’m wrong than I was when I made that statement.

I maintain that I think the other side is wrong, but people like Flint believe that I’m just wrong, not evil.  If that attitude is what comes to the table, then we can talk.



Jay Hathaway on Gawker Review of Books

“America’s Largest Sci-Fi Publisher Gives in to Reactionary ‘Sad Puppies’” – June 9

sad puppy on gawker

Puppy supporters have been talking shit about Tor from the beginning of their campaign, largely because Tor editors Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden have been openly critical, and were among the first to note that Gamergate and the Puppies were making common cause. In April, Larry Correia, who started and named the original Sad Puppies campaign two years ago, had to tell Puppies supporters to chill out with their attacks on the publisher, because—as Tom Doherty also pointed out—Tor has published Puppy favorites like John C. Wright. Wright rode the Puppies slates to a record-breaking six Hugo nominations this year.

The frenzy started again last week, though, when Vox Day reignited it with a screencap of Irene Gallo’s Facebook comments, calling them “libel.” (He calls a lot of things libel.)

“I’ve held onto this since I had the screencap, which as you correctly note was made several weeks ago … I have long been in the habit of never using all of my ammunition at once, or pointing-and-shrieking for its own sake,” Day told File770, a sci-fi fansite that’s been keeping meticulous records of this year’s Hugo drama.

Apparently, the reaction was loud enough to move Tom Doherty to publicly chastise Gallo and put forth a soft defense of the Puppies and their motives. I contacted him to ask how he made that decision and what his personal feelings about the Puppies are—because he’s made clear they don’t align with Gallo’s. I haven’t yet heard back.


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw on The Daily Dot

“Why sci-fi authors are angry with Tor Books”  – June 9

Doherty’s response attempted to characterize Tor as a neutral entity in the ongoing culture war within sci-fi fandom. But to some, it felt more like throwing an employee to the wolves.

Others pointed to what they saw as a double standard. While Gallo received a public dressing-down, Tor has been mum on star author John Scalzi calling the Sad Puppies bigots and feuding with Vox Day, and editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden describing the Sad Puppies as “downright evil.”









Jessica Price on Bedside Notepad

“I Stand With Irene Gallo” – June 9

And Tom Doherty, founder of Tor, felt the need to post a piece on Tor’s site. In it, he talks about how the Puppies aren’t really that bad, and how Irene Gallo’s views don’t represent Tor’s, and how she’s been reprimanded for her post.

Just to be clear:

  1. A woman speaks up against a racist and misogynist hate movement.
  2. Her male boss shuts her up.
  3. Her male boss then goes public, reassuring everyone he’s shut her up and that he has no issues with the hate movement.
  4. He also makes sure to call her out by name.

I don’t know if you’ve been on the internet lately, but in the current Gamergate climate, a man calling out a woman for talking about misogyny is a fucking bat signal to the worst elements of the internet. It’s basically painting a giant target on her back for harassment, threats, doxxing, and all the other methods misogynist mobs use to attempt to shut up women they don’t like.

I didn’t expect that the publishing industry would have any more spine than the videogame industry did in standing up to this crap, but I didn’t expect to see them cheerfully throw a female employee to the wolves. (The ass-covering could have been done without naming her.)


You don’t get to pretend, Tom Doherty, that you don’t know what the potential consequences are for her. None of you men in games, tech, SFF do.


Amanda S. Green on Mad Genius Club

“Oh the noes” – June 9

Oh my, the last few days have been interesting if you are a fan of science fiction or fantasy and if you have been following the controversy surrounding the Hugo nominations. I have thought long and hard about what, if anything (more), I want to say about the situation surrounding the comments Tor artistic editor Irene Gallo made and the subsequent statement by Tor’s elder statesman Tom Doherty. At this point, I think I will stick with saying just two things. Firs, Ms. Gallo’s comments were beyond over the top and her apology did not go nearly far enough for the simple reason that she did not apologize for anything except possibly hurting people’s feelings and painting with an overly broad brush. Second, I appreciate the fact that Mr. Doherty took the time to not only say that Ms. Gallo’s opinions were not the opinions of Tor and he put the lie to at least one of the accusations against SP3, that it was only trying to advance the work of white men.


Eldritch on Observation Deck

“Tor Throws Female Creative Director to the Wolves”  – June 9

The other comments are outraged that Doherty could do this to Gallo. The implications that he bended his knee to the Puppies is awful and it’s worse that he decided to take the heat off by throwing a woman under the bus for them. People are disgusted he wrote that letter and found it disheartening that it looks like Tor has thrown its lot in with the Puppies. Voices of disappointed reason are Mary Robinette Kowal and Chuck Wendig.


Martin Wisse on Wis[s]e Words

“Two faced Tor” – June 9

As you know Bob, I’ve been saying for a long time that the whole Sad/Rabid Puppies operation is just another extention of the American rightwing’s Culture Wars, the blueprint established in the cockpit of partisan politics imported into the arts and now science fiction fandom. This was again confirmed for me over the weekend, as Vox Day and his fellow fascists ginned up controversy over a month old Facebook comment by Irene Gallo, a Tor Books employee, in which she called them rightwingers and neonazis. That’s a move straight out of the Breitbart playbook, where being accused of racism is always a much greater offence than actually being racist and you lie and manipulate your enemies into doing your dirty work for you.


Mur Lafferty on The Murverse Annex

“Standing With Irene” – June 9

I’m not an eloquent debate enthusiast. My words dry up when struggling to defend myself or my positions. Fiction is easy. Arguing is not. It’s just the way I am. And as it’s the end of the day, more eloquent people than me have written about this. So I will link to them, and just say I stand with Irene. I definitely would want someone to stand with me.


Andrea Phillips

“Get Thee to HR, to Be Hanged” – June 9

This weekend, Tor creative director Irene Gallo got some heat for expressing some opinions on Facebook about the Sad Puppies, and was thrown under the bus by her employer. And a lot of people are calling for her to be fired, too.

This is our nuclear option on the internet, and we go straight there whenever our dander is up. Someone should get fired over this. Salt the earth. Wreck their Google results. Make it so they never work in this town again, or any other town for that matter.


Didact’s Reach

“The Reclamation has already begun” – June 9

Let me state for the record that I commend Mr. Doherty for graciously and clearly noting that neither Sad Puppies nor Rabid Puppies are about promoting racism, misogyny, or homophobia. The personal opinions of the creators and supporters of these slates on the subjects of race, feminism, and homogamy are NOT reflected in the nominees put forward in the two slates, as anyone with an even halfway-open mind would readily be able to see. Mr. Doherty is to be applauded for acknowledging what so many of his colleagues at Tor Books and have so much difficulty in seeing: Sad/Rabid Puppies are about giving recognition to works of sci-fi and fantasy that actually deserve them. Period f***ing dot.

Now, let us come to the business of Ms. Gallo’s rather intemperate comments and her non-apology….

Ms. Gallo’s words were published on her personal Facebook page. She has every right to say whatever she wants under the protections of a document that, as far as I can tell, she personally detests: the Constitution of the United States of America.


Ragin’ Dave on Peace or Freedom

“My Letter to Tom Doherty at Tor Books” – June 9

I have read Mrs. Gallo’s so-called “apology”, and it’s the Diet Coke of apologies; saccharine, bland, and not real.  I have read your statement whereupon you claim that Mrs. Gallo does not speak for Tor Books.  Given the statements of Mrs. Gallo, both of the Neilson Haydens, and Mr. Feder, I can say for certainly that you may not wish them to speak for Tor Books, but they are doing just that.  I’m a military man, Mr. Doherty.  Once is accident.  Twice is coincidence.  Three times is Enemy Action.  And you have four individuals who have all attacked, impugned, slandered and defamed good, honest people, and I am quite honestly fed up with it.

I will buy no further books from Tor Books until Mrs. Gallo is relieved of her duties and issued a pink slip.  I will not buy books from a company that hates me.


Harry Connolly

“Tor’s Dumb Letter”

Did Tor CEO Tom Doherty release a letter apologizing publicly for Frenkel’s or Fodera’s behavior, while insisting that they should have been smarter about separating the personal from the professional? Of course not. For one thing, Frenkel’s shitty behavior happened while he was representing Tor Books at public events. For another, they were dudes and their victims were women.

However, it took Doherty less than 24 hours to issue a letter of apology for Gallo’s comment on her personal Facebook, and assuring the internet that he’s going to talk to her about being clear on the when she’s speaking for herself and for the company…..

When I looked at Making Light this morning, the site clearly said the Nielsen Haydens work for Tor, but there was no disclaimer about their opinions being solely their own, etc. Why should there be? It’s 2015; people know the difference between personal and professional spaces. At least, they ought to.

But of course, Gallo is a woman, and the loudest voices enraged by her remarks are men. Unlike the Frenkel or Fodera incidents, Gallo’s requires correction from the highest level. Frenkel can get a bland announcement that he’s no long associated with the company; Gallo must be corrected in public. The double standard is disappointing.

Even worse, what is Tor thinking leaving the comments open on the letter? Is it a honeytrap so people like John C Wright can embarrass themselves by claiming not to be homophobic in the most homophobic way?

Or maybe Mr. Doherty thinks Ms. Gallo hasn’t been getting her full share of abuse as a woman on the internet.


Selected Comments from  “Tom Doherty: To Our Readers And Authors” at

[I can’t get the comment links to work, so I have listed the numbers instead.]


Steven Brust in comment #68 – June 8

Irene Gallo? Yes. She makes my books look good. I like that. We’ve never discussed politics, but I’ll bet next year’s royalties we don’t agree on much of anything.  Can’t say as I care.  I’ve heard from what I consider reliable sources that Tom Doherty and I would disagree even more should we ever talk politics.  Can’t say as I care about that, either.  They, along with many others at Tor with whom my political principles have little or nothing in common, make my books better.  I like that.

Make the point that she was speaking for herself, not for the company?  All right, sure, I guess.  But I would be very sad if Tom, or Irene, or anyone else in publishing felt unable to express a personal opinion for fear of being fired. That would make the world uglier indeed, and would do nothing to contribute to there being better stories out there for me to read.


Mary Robinette Kowal in comment #82 – June 9

As one of your authors, I want to say openly that I find this apology upsetting. In a large part because I was directly harassed by a Tor employee and received no apology from the company. From the employee? Yes. But from Tor? No.

The fact that you are now defending the Sad Puppies campaign, even implicitly, and apologizing to them for being offended is really distressing. It implies things about the priorities of Tor that I find uncomfortable and would very much like to be wrong about. At the moment though, I feel as though the safety of women authors, and authors of color is less important to the company than the feelings of those who attack them.

While I understand that the Sad Puppies list did, indeed, include women and writers of colour, the works that made the ballot are largely from the Rabid Puppies list. One category is made up largely of a single author’s work, which seems like the very opposite of diversity. While I recognize that the two groups are separate, they are so interconnected that it is hard to view them individually, particularly when the Sad Puppies claim the Rabid Puppies slate as their own victory.

So when you feel the need to apologize to people who have said that they want to see the Hugos destroyed, and emphasize that Irene’s views are not your own, I can’t help but wonder what your views are. All of which leaves me confused and distressed.


John C. Wright in comment #84 – June 9

Dear Peter D, and all of you who claim Irene Gallo’s statement was true–

You are saying things you know or should know to be untrue, and you should be deeply ashamed for letting your emotions out of control, tempt you to dishonesty, and for yielding to that temptation.

I am not unrepentantly homophobic. I am nothing of the kind. It is a lie.

I follow the Catholic teaching on same sex attraction and how one deals with it. In public, I have heaped scorn on those who use a children’s cartoon, one I loved, to insinuate their pro-perversion propaganda in a cowardly and craven way.

I have no hate, no fear, nothing but respect for homosexuals.

You and people like you who use the false cloak of compassion for homosexual to lure them into ruining their lives, you are the ones for whom I have no respect. You are the ones who hate them; you are the one who urge them down ever darker paths.

One of my family members committed suicide because he pursued the homosexual lifestyle you and yours continually urge him and poor souls like him to pursue.

You are the ones who offer a drunk a drink before he gets behind the wheel of a car, and when Christian urge sobriety, you claim our motive is fear and hatred for the drunk, not prudence and compassion.

He abandoned my stepsister when she was six years old, and my step brother when he was four.

Your evil, vile, repulsive philosophy of pure selfishness is what I hate, not the homosexuals you use as a shield for that philosophy.

As for the other lunatic assertions of Irene Gallo that you now leap to claim are true —  misogynist? neo-nazi? I wonder what St Mary and St Maximillian Kolbe would say if either thought me their enemy.

Racist?I wonder what my daughter, who was born in Chinese to parents who abandoned her, would say if I were racist.

Another one of my family members was wounded in World War Two, awarded a Purple Heart for his efforts in liberating a Nazi death camp.

You know nothing of me, nothing of my life, nothing of what I have known or suffered. Irene Gallo make statements beyond false: they were reckless with hatred, whereas I have ever spoken of her with gratitude and respect for the wonderful illustrations and compositions with which her department adorns the books she and I sell.

I am only the writer. The book is a team effort. Irene Gallo is a member of the team. She has apologized for her lies, and I accept her apology.

I would like you, sir, to do the same, and never dare to libel me again. When you do not know whereof you speak, close your mouth.


Sigrid Ellis in comment #94 on

I find myself troubled and distressed that the hurt feelings of a handful of people, led by vocal and proud bigots, are being treated with such careful public consideration. Why is Irene Gallo, speaking as a private individual, someone to apologize for? Why is Tor concerned with reassuring bigots that they are welcome?

What manner of hold do the Rabid Puppies have over Tor, to garner such consideration? Or, distressingly, is it merely that management at Tor shares some of the bigots’ views?

I had never thought that was the case. Now I am worried it might be.

I hope that a clarification is forthcoming. I look forward to the same sort of apology and reassurance that Tor has given the Rabid Puppies campaign, as Tor is, apparently, for everyone.


J. C. Salomon in comment #131 on

Vox Day is quite open about why he and his keep calling for Ms Gallo’s ouster: They see this incident as part of the Culture Wars, and are therefore determined to use the Alinskyite tactic of “Make the enemy live up to his own rules.” They’re not (quite) wrong on the Culture Wars aspect. But I would much rather have the “He’s racist-communist-fascist-conservative-liberal-sexist-homophobic-sinful; get him fired!” tactic taken off the table entirely.


Mark in comment #137 on

John C Wright, you are a homophobe.

I appreciate that you don’t understand that you are, that you feel there is some important distinction between making the statements you do out of religious duty rather than hate or fear, but that distinction is a false one. You say homosexuals ruin their lives, are perverts, that they must be brought away from their sexuality, that their lives go down dark paths, that it leads them to suicide. You believe people are homosexual because they have been urged to be, not because they quite simply, naturally, are.

I know you see that as right and true, but it is not. You are treating homosexuals as less than yourself because you truly, genuinely believe that they are. That is homophobia. You are a homophobe.


Mushashi in comment #165 on

One thing in particular stands out in this whole mess: The use of the word “homophobe”.  As though any dislike or disagreement with the homosexual lifestyle/agenda stems from an illogical, possibly irrational “fear” of homosexuality.  This term is used as a slander and as a means of silencing any opposition.  It’s cheap, childish, and naturally, dishonest to the core.  Irene Gallo is someone (along with many commenters here) that seems to think they’re immune from any criticism regarding their choice of ad hominem attacks……they’re not.  Neither is Tor.  Like it of not she represents your organization, “personal opinion” backpedaling notwithstanding.  Her outrageous name-calling and slander should not be tolerated in the publishing business or any other.

Tor – demonstrate the conviction of your stated principles and remove Irene Gallo.


Mark Pitcavage in comment # 244 on

I am very disappointed that this is Tor’s only reaction to an ideological campaign to take over the science fiction field’s oldest major award.  I would have hoped for a principled stand.  Tor should pay attention to the businesses that reacted to recent events in Indiana and Arkansas.


Joe Vasicek on One Thousand And One Parsecs

“My take on the Sad Puppies” – June 9

But in another sense, I cannot avoid having a dog in this fight. Science Fiction and Fantasy is my livelihood, and the Sad Puppies controversy affects the very core of my field. Authors whom I look up to and respect have become targets of some of the worst smear tactics, and if no one stands up against these bullies, things are only going to get worse. The lines have been drawn, the wagons have been circled, and my voice, however small, is needed in this hour.

With that out of the way, here is where I stand:

I believe that everyone who loves science fiction and fantasy has and should have a place in this genre, no matter how reprehensible I find them or how vehemently I disagree with their views.

I believe that SF&F authors flourish best when there is no single dogma, political or otherwise, that dominates the field. Those who enforce their brand of social justice through bullying and smear campaigns are anathema to everything that makes science fiction and fantasy great.

I believe that TRUE DIVERSITY in the SF&F field is good and worth working toward. TRUE DIVERSITY includes women, people of color, other ethnic minorities, and people of every gender and sexual orientation. It also includes Republicans, Conservatives, Libertarians, residents of the “flyover states,” and devout practitioners of every faith, be they Christians, Mormons, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs, or supplicants at the temple of Athe.

I believe that sexism that is directed against men is still sexism.

I believe that racism that is directed against whites is still racism.

I believe that it is impossible to defeat racism and sexism through racist and sexist means. Those who attempt to do so are bigots and hypocrites of the worst possible stripe.

I believe that no one is entitled to any award. True recognition is earned, not bestowed…..


Katrina A. Templeton on katster’s closet

“It’s OK if You’re a Puppy” – June 9

I’ll grudgingly give Beale credit for this — he knows his army of sycophants, suck-ups, wannabes, and fellow travelers very well, and knew dropping that screenshot on the Internet would be like throwing raw meat to hungry dogs. All the outrage that had been dying down is back, kicked up yet another notch. And I’m certain this amuses him very much.

It strikes me that Beale doesn’t want dialogue. He doesn’t want us to understand each other, because if we can understand — if we can glimpse that the other side of the screen sits another human being not all that much different from us — then his culture war is dead. He cannot afford to lose that — it is his driving force and his motivator.

I’m a science fiction fan because I like to read, Beale. I’m not here for your bullshit culture wars, and I really wish you’d take them somewhere else.


L. Rhodes on Upstreamist

“…Some Women and Writers of Color” – June 9

“Media coverage of the two groups initially suggested that they were organized simply to promote white men,” Doherty wrote, “which was not correct. Each Puppies’ slate of authors and editors included some women and writers of color…” That’s technically true, but misses the deeper point. The Puppies’ aim was not to promote white male authors to the exclusion of others. Rather, the goal was to crowd out science fiction and fantasy that addressed social issues from a progressive perspective, including stories in the long and heralded tradition of using genre to criticize gender, race and sexual inequalities. To that end—as well as to head off the obvious criticisms—the slate the Puppies chose highlighted women and writers of color whose work was deemed socially neutral or merely escapist.

A statement of neutrality in defense of Tor’s own authors was, perhaps, to be expected, but it seems to me that Mr. Doherty has overstepped by offering that weak tea explanation excusing the Puppies’ slate. If, as the message concludes, Tor is dedicated to publishing “on a broad range of topics, from a broad range of authors,” then it would do well to acknowledge that the Puppies are vocally in favor of overshadowing all but a narrow range of topics and promoting only the range of authors that play it safe.


Eric Flint


[Another lengthy post of which this is just one bit — ]

But this is the method Torgersen uses himself—and has from the beginning. He points to—refers to, rather; it’s always a wave of the hand rather than a pointing finger—incidents at least some which are genuinely outrageous in terms of unfair and sometimes scurrilous charges being leveled against him or other Sad Puppies. And then, by leaving the details and specifics unclear, tries to inflate the incidents into the literary equivalent of the Albigensian Crusade.

So, any insignificant nitwit spouting insults on a panel at an SF convention becomes the equivalent of being blackballed by publishers. Any lout spewing venom in a discussion anywhere on the internet becomes a Secret Master of Hugodom, even though nobody’s ever heard of him except his (few) friends and family. Any troll with a blog that has a very modest number of readers is transmuted into the She-Devil of Political Correctness.

As time goes by, talking to each other in their echo chamber, Torgersen and his supporters have persuaded themselves that this (not so very large) pack of trolls, jerks and assholes are science fiction’s equivalent of the iron fist of the KGB dragging poor helpless little puppies into the bowels of Lubyanka Prison, there to be silenced by bullets in the back of their heads.

What makes this even more ridiculous—not to mention annoying—is that while the Sad Puppies have indeed been the victims of excessive belligerence and vituperation, they are just as guilty themselves.

Consider this gem of hyperbole, spouted by Brad Torgersen:

“Nielsen-Haydens, your fellow travelers, and media goombahs . . . I MOCK YOU! I MOCK YOUR ASININE INCESTUOUS CLUSTERFUCKED LITTLE CULTURE OF DOCTRINAIRE PROGRESSOSEXUAL MEDIOCRITY MASKED AS SUPERIORITY! You are all dolts. You are moral and physical cowards. You are without ethics, without scruples, and if you weren’t so patently pathetic, I’d say you might be dangerous.

Fuck you. Fuck you all. The forces of the progressive pink and poofy Xerxes were met at the Hugo Hot Gates, and repelled by a few brave dudes and dudettes with the stones to stand up to your bullshit.”


Anybody who posts something like this online has no business complaining about the rhetoric of other people.

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Why Science is Never Settled, by Tedd Roberts” – June 9

This essay is quite decently written, and very effectively covers the ground of why science is a process, not a result, and truly never finally settled. Sadly, while never going at the subject head-on, it’s laced through with excuses for climate science denialism.


Spacefaring Kitten on Spacefaring, Extradimensional Happy Kittens

“Amanda S. Green Question Time” – June 9

… Third question: Is Green going to be saved by the multi-target post in which she attacks the all-female Nebulas, the disinviting of Archon Fan Guest of Honor Tim Bolgeo because of some racist jokes in his fanzine (that’s on the Hugo ballot this year, by the way) and some bad con arrangements that self-published/indie authors had to suffer somewhere? To say something poisitive in this post, there were a couple of marginally interesting points in the last bit, actually, but then she goes back to slamming SJWs and GHHers (what’s a GHHer?) in the end.

Fourth question: Does stating the fact that it may not be a good idea to change your story’s genre in the middle of a book series — that’s what the last post is about — help her regain some sympathies that were lost with the previous posts?


Russell Blackford on Metamagician and The Hellfire Club

“’Best Novelette’ category – Hugo Awards voting 2015” – June 10

At this stage, I’ve read only two stories in the category: “Championship B’tok” by Edward M. Lerner, and “The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale” by Rajnar Vajra. For my money, “The Triple Sun” was the stronger of the two, though both were competent stories of adventure in space (with elements of hard science fiction). Whether either is strong enough to be worth a major international award is another question. Again, I’d be happier to see “The Triple Sun” win the award, partly because it simply has better shape as a standalone story (“Championship B’tok” seems more like an instalment of something much longer; the problem isn’t that it is, but that it seems like it).



“Hugo Reviews: Rat Queens Vol 1” – June 9

The only crime of crude humor is when it’s not particularly funny and a lot of the jokes in Rat Queens feel crude for crudeness sake. After a few pages, it was incredibly tiresome and I’d lost interest before the story had even gone anywhere. Reading Rat Queens is like reading a real-play of D&D session run and played entirely by dude-bros. There is a lot of girls talking about sex, striking sexy poses, and doing the whole ‘we’re in-your-face badgirls!’ thing that feels like it’s trying too hard and never comes across as being particularly sexy.


Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag at Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog

“Hugos and Puppies and Rants, Oh My!” – June 9

The Hugos were no doubt getting a little insular due to lack of interest from general fandom: in that sense I agree with the “puppies”. There are people who attend conventions and people who enjoy science fiction, and the two groups don’t always overlap. The Hugos were mostly something that was voted on by people who attend conventions, not by all of general fandom, so of course they aren’t always going to reflect the tastes of fandom as a whole.

While the “Sad Puppies” seemed to be trying to fix that, they a) went about it the wrong way by encouraging people to lie by nominating works they hadn’t read and b) pretty much allowed an incredibly misogynistic sicko to take over their effort.

My biggest problem with them is the lying bit: creating a slate and asking people to nominate without clearly saying, “read it first and only nominate if you consider it the best thing you’ve read in the past year.” That behavior already puts them in the doghouse, where their self-proclaimed name says they belong. But it’s the second bit I just don’t understand. I’ve tried to read VD’s blog. It’s disgusting. He’s disgusting. His comments on women in general and certain women in particular are appalling. Nobody who believes that women are people could possibly agree with VD. And yet the “Sad Puppies” let this sick person take over their idea and acted happy when it succeeded. And, frankly, I doubt it was the sads that got all those slate nominations in. I’m pretty sure it had more to do with VD’s efforts, considering that more of “his” slate got on the ballot.

A Fistful of Puppies 5/3

aka The Puppy Sculptors of Coral D

Apart from “An Account of Juliette Wade’s Withdrawal from Sad Puppies 3” hosted on this blog, the highlights of the day come from Tom Knighton, Lisa J. Goldstein, Spacefaring Kitten, George R.R. Martin, John C. Wright, severian, Vox Day, M.C. Hana, Daddy Warpig, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Paul Cornell and Abi Sutherland. (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Laura Resnick, plus yours truly.)

Tom Knighton

“Why they joke about ‘conspiracies’”  – May 3

Go to any CHORF or SJB science fiction site, and someone is likely to joke about conspiracies.  They think it’s funny, using the term to paint Sad Puppies as right-wing nut jobs prattling on endlessly about the New World Order and chem trails.  “No,” they say, “there’s no ‘conspiracy involving Hugo nominations.”

Of course, they’re full of it too.


Lisa J. Goldstein on theinferior4

“An Attempt to Come to Terms with the Hugo Ballot” – May 1

I have lots of time — except for proofreading my novel, and coming up with something for an anthology I promised to be in, and, you know, actually writing something … okay, I’m not sure why this seemed like a good idea, but I thought I’d read the ballot and comment on it. A few ground rules, then.  First, I don’t like military sf, and that’s what a lot of the ballot seems to consist of.  This isn’t even an ideological stance — I just can’t get into it, the same way I can’t get into vampire novels and mysteries where the cat solves the murder.  I will try to get past this and make my reviews as objective as I can, though I can’t promise anything.  Second, I reserve the right to quit reading a nominee at any time.  I’m not going to read an entire novel if the first few chapters leave me cold.  Oh, and spoilers. I’m going to start with short stories, because they’re, well, short, and with the last story on the ballot and then work my way up.  So the first story is “Turncoat,” by Steve Rzasa…..

…What I’m doing here is reading the Sad Puppies’ slate and commenting on it. This is something the Puppies said no SJW (Short Juggling Wombat?) would do, that instead we would vote a blanket No Award, and I would think the Puppies themselves would welcome my efforts. Commenting on the media is beyond the scope of this project, and not something I’d want to do anyway


Spacefaring Kitten on Spacefaring, Extradimensional Happy Kittens

“’Turncoat’ by Steve Rzasa”  – May 3

I’ve begun my Hugo reading with the short story and graphic story categories. Most of the short stories are available online, so maybe I’ll start with them.

I plan to keep track of what I’ve read and what I think about the stuff I’ve read here on this blog. Feel free to comment, whether you agree or disagree.

The first one I read was “Turncoat” by Steve Rzasa.


George R.R. Martin on Not A Blog

“Reading for Hugos” – May 3

Just finished THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM, by Cixin Liu, originally written in Chinese and translated by Ken Liu. This was the novel that just missed in the original round of nominations, only to secure a place on the ballot when Marko Kloos withdrew. In a half-century of Hugo Awards, there have been very few non-English originals ever nominated, and certainly never one from China, so THREE-BODY is a breakthrough book in that respect, and a sign that “worldcon” is (very slowly) becoming more global.

This is a very unusual book, a unique blend of scientific and philosophical speculation, politics and history, conspiracy theory and cosmology, where kings and emperors from both western and Chinese history mingle in a dreamlike game world, while cops and physicists deal with global conspiracies, murders, and alien invasions in the real world.

It’s a worthy nominee.





John C. Wright

“Reviewer Scorn for One Bright Star, Plural of Helen, etc.” – May 3

A reviewer is disappointed in my efforts:

In Wright’s hands Queequeeg remains firmly a noble savage with no depth of characterization at all. One person of color in the story and that’s what Wright goes for. That’s how the Pathetic puppies increase diversity.

Diversity, eh?


ADDENDUM: a reader brings to my attention links to a review site whose disappointment is markedly less. He asked whether both sites read the material, or only one?


severian on Rotten Chestnuts

“Perestroika and Puppies” – April 30

Admit one lie, you see, and you’ve tacitly admitted to all the other lies.  And when your whole system is built on lies….

And that’s the best case scenario, mind you.  If the Hugo Award TrueFans (or whatever the acronym is) are smart, they’ll go Gorbachev — grudgingly hold their noses while loudly proclaiming that they’re voting for the “”””””best”””””” of a very, very sorry lot…. and then the Puppies go away, because there’s no more shit to be stirred — all the drama queen antics cease.  That means there will forever be a year with a “wrong” Hugo, and the Hugo will never again be the Unsullied Pure SJW Award for Excellence in SJW Propaganda, but so what?  There’s always the Nebulas or the Galactic Vagina Trophy or whatever.  (If there’s one thing liberals are great at, it’s singing their own praises; they’ll come up with something).

But I’m betting they won’t, because again, Gorbachev’s the best case scenario.  Ol’ Mikhail himself would do it again in a heartbeat — he’s still alive and kicking, not buried two feet under the Siberian permafrost — but many of his kommissars got what was coming to them…. and, of course, the shining beacon of world socialism guttered and went out.  SJWs have no identity of their own; if they’re not shrieking about something, they wink out of existence like quarks.  So they’ll burn it down, No Award everything, because at least that way they can play the martyr role for ever and ever and ever and ever and ever….


Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Patience is a strategic virtue” – May 3

Now let’s look at how fighting strategically applies to the Hugo 2015 situation. We know, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that the SJWs are going to vote No Award on most of the Puppy-recommended works. Some will claim to have read them all, some will proudly proclaim that they have read none, others will pretend to genuinely believe that there is not a single award-worthy work in the lot, and a few particularly foolish ones will even convince themselves they believe as much. That’s fine, we all know what their opinions are worth as the list of past winners are well-documented. The only relevant point is that they are going to do it.

So why shouldn’t we join them? Why not pour on the gasoline as they run around shrieking and lighting matches? After all, getting things nominated that the other side would No Award, then turning around and joining them to ensure no awards were given out was my original idea, which I set aside in favor of SP3 and Brad Torgersen’s ultimately futile attempt to save the Hugos from the SJWs. The reason to abandon this original objective now that it is firmly in our grasp is that the situation has developed in ways that I did not fully anticipate, thereby indicating a strategic adjustment. Why settle for burning Munich when Berlin may be within reach, especially if the munchkins are promising to burn Munich for us as we advance? Jeff Duntemann’s summary to which Mike Glyer directed our attention yesterday is informative in this regard….

The best possible outcome is not to see them nuke themselves, as amusing as that would be, but to see them try to nuke themselves and fail, thereby demonstrating that they don’t even possess the nukes they think they have. And even if Option 4 turns out to have been beyond our reach this year, its failure is still within the range of our victory conditions. This is what it means to successfully execute a Xanatos Gambit. If we fail, we win. If we succeed, we win even bigger. Why settle for victory when we can vanquish? Now that the science fiction SJWs have publicly declared No Award, the best possible outcome for us is for them to try to burn down the awards and fail. And that is why we should not help them do it. I very much understand the temptation to cry havoc, run amok, and gleefully set fires, but keep this in mind: while strategic arson is good, strategic occupation is glorious.

Translation: stow the flamethrowers. For now.


M. C. Hana on Blue night. Black iron. Golden rope.

“Intergalactic Medicine Show: free fiction” – May 3

I’ve witnessed some extraordinary discussions over the past month, as the Hugo Awards controversy continues in the science-fiction and fantasy community. Eventually, I’ll provide links (cribbed and cited from a couple of diligent AW sources) to the best explanations of what happened and why.

Part of the fallout? Free stories listed online by authors, editors, and publishers who have refused Sad Puppy/Rabid Puppy nominations this year.

The latest is a collection of science-fiction and fantasy from Orson Scott Card’s ‘Intergalactic Medicine Show’, offered by its editor Edmund R. Schubert. Schubert recently gave a passionate defense of his magazine, pointing out that it does not share all of Card’s politics, and seeks diversity from all authors and stories.

Disclosure: I am one of the authors who recently avoided IGMS because of its perceived association. Schubert’s essay convinced me to take another look. I’m several stories in, and I’m pleasantly surprised. It takes me back to my teen years, and my mom’s subscription to the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.




Abi Sutherland in a comment on Making Light – May 3

Day is right, of course. We have not left him alone. You see, although we call the periodic threads we start “Open Threads”, that’s just to get the correct initials: OT.

OT really stands for OPERATION THEODORE, and the OTs are the coordinating place for the subtle campaign of intimidation we have spent years implementing.

To decrypt the plans, you must acquire the cryptographic key based on the distributions of the letters “V, X, D, and Y”* in the first thirty-three comments of each thread. Although those comments may appear to be posted by various members of the community and the general public, they are in point of fact all posted by Patrick, Teresa, and me‡, using our talents** as skilled textual mimics to produce the thin and unconvincing effect of conversation††.

Once you have the key, you too can join the carefully coordinated assault on the forces arrayed against us, carried out by means of no one from our community bothering to join his coterie even as a mole, a complete failure to discuss him unless he’s done something particularly dickish, and a total lack of interest in him until he damages an institution we care about‡‡.

Fluourospherians Form Up! This war of being bored to tears with Vox Day won’t fight itself!

Cornell Apologizes for Smof Routine

Paul Cornell, LoneStarCon 3’s Toastmaster, has posted an apology for his Hugo Awards routine about “Smofs” and “Smurfs”.

“Smurfs” I need hardly explain. “Smofs” is an acronym for “Secret Masters of Fandom” that was coined as a pejorative but in the 1970s evolved into a humorous self-reference freely used by many sf conrunners.

However, as we have been going through an especially unhappy season with lots of blogging about the evil, nasty conrunners, some of which has been reported here, there’s been a trend back toward the word having a pejorative meaning in some circles. Cornell took inspiration from that for a string of jokes during the Hugo Ceremonies.

My immediate reaction as I listened to him tell the jokes was thud-thud-thud. I didn’t think it was a gracious way to treat the people putting on LoneStarCon 3 whose hospitality Cornell symbolized as Toastmaster. Yet what I’ve been reading online is so much worse I just stuffed it — I sent a mild joke to CoverItLive saying the material suited the blue background we were seeing on the broadcast.

On the other hand, some fans were apoplectic. One told Cornell to his face what he thought. Others explained their reaction in e-mails.

And now Cornell has done something you never see happen in the blogosphere. He apologized. He said, in part —

I think I broke two rules which I hold other people to, and it’s taken me days of searching my conscience to realise that.

Firstly, I always say that when someone tells you they’re offended, they’re not lying. One has to deal with the offence one has caused as real, and not regard such complaints as ill-conceived or somehow ‘wrong’. Many ‘smofs’ have written to me in support, saying they felt gently teased, that it was all in good fun, but the ones for whom it felt like a personal insult don’t deserve to have their feelings ignored.  One reaction is as ‘true’ as the other.

Secondly, while I’m sure there are those among the ranks of ‘Smofs’ who deserve a little satire, I’m also sure there are those who absolutely do not.  My error was to tar them all with the same brush, to not be precise, but instead to hurt a range of people through the term they identify with.  ‘Things are complicated’ as our heroes said in Knight and Squire.  I don’t like it when other groups are made into folk devils, but there I was doing it.  It’s terrifyingly easy and tempting to follow the crowd and go for that sort of laugh.  It’s also a very bad thing to do.

I’ve only quoted a little to give you an indication of what he felt. It’s worth your time to go over and read it in full.

The Comics Hugo

Yes, that’s what the cognoscenti call the Best Graphic Story Hugo – “The Comics Hugo.”

I didn’t know this before I paged through The Drink Tank #336 where the cognoscenti have to lot to say about the Hugo-worthy work of 2012.

Chris Garcia notes Paul Cornell’s strong recommendation for Fables but says it will not be a choice for him: “Now, looking at this coming year, well, Fables is nowhere near my ballot. Dial H (one of my all-time favorite comics concepts written by China Miéville) Saucer Country (by Paul Cornell), Silk Spectre, Dr. Manhattan, and perhaps most importantly of all, Justice League.”

Chris also reports that Paul Cornell is so disappointed with the track record of the Best Graphic Story Hugo category that he’s now referring to it as a “fan Hugo.” I guess that’s supposed to be an insult, otherwise you’d think it would help his purpose since everyone knows no one can win a fan Hugo but a pro. In fact, Paul took one home in Best Fancast just last year.

James Bacon speaks about Grandville Bete Noir by Bryan Talbot and suggests that “Straight away I would have to say that SAGA (by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples) is a definite. Any SF fan who has not read this, is missing out, not only for the ideas, but the terrific dialogue and humour. It is a wonderful mix of Fantasy in a space setting and is terrifically personal, in a very skilled way.”

He also recommends, Manhattan Projects by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra, Peter Panzerfaust by Kurtis J Wiebe, art by Tyler Jenkins, “an alternate history, messing with the famous children’s literary characters, with Hauptmann Hook on the Horizon” and Marvel’s Hawkeye which “may be a marvel mainstream comic, but the aesthetic look and the excellent dialogue makes it a winner, the humour and sense of absurdity, pitched in a realistic way, make it delightful.” He also mentions Storm Dogs, which has only had two issues published in 2012, by Doug Braithwaite and David Hine.

Meanwhile Joe Gordon on the Forbidden Planet International Blog also recommends Grandville Bete Noir, Saga, Manhattan Projects as well as The New Deadwardians by Dan Abnett and Ian Culbard, Judge Dredd: Day of Chaos/Trifecta by Wagner et al (2000 AD), Prophet by Brandon Graham, Simon Roy et al and Batwoman by JH Williams III, Haden Blackman, adding a few other choices, but definitely confirming interest in some titles.

John Picacio’s Experiment

John Picacio accepting the World Fantasy Award for Best Artist in 2005. Photo by Keith Stokes.

John Picacio is an eight-time Best Professional Artist Hugo nominee, winner of a World Fantasy Award, four Chesley Awards and many other honors. Fans saw a lot of him at last year’s Worldcon, Renovation. He spoke on 8 panels, exhibited in the Art Show, appeared in the Artist’s Alley, and even joined Stroll With The Stars.

Picacio was asked to write an article for Journey Planet #13, an invitation that provoked a thought process and decision that will result in fans seeing a lot less of him at Chicon 7.  

He’ll still be there – faced with the prospect of two Labor Day weekend conventions, Dragon*Con and Chicon 7, Picacio chose both:

I’ll be attending Atlanta’s Dragon*Con all day/night Friday, August 31, and the initial part of Saturday morning, and then I’ll jump on a plane, gain one hour in the process, and attend Chicago’s Worldcon for the last half of its run, until it closes.

Hellacious? Yes. Suicidal? Let’s hope not.

But Picacio also told readers of his blog  that he won’t be on the Chicon 7 program or exhibit in the Art Show:

I’ve announced that I’m foregoing all programming participation and art show presence at this year’s Worldcon. By doing so, I hope it opens up my chair, and my art show space, to new female artists who will hopefully present new viewpoints and perspectives. The call for “Gender Parity” has been a controversial one… Admittedly, I’m still unsure to what degree my gender and participation on sf/f panels and art shows has prevented females from participating in the same. Did I have opportunity that they did not because I’m male? Did my gender, and not my fifteen years of hard work, make the programming directors and the art show directors select me over an equally-deserving female? It seems more than a bit far-fetched, to be honest. But that being said, I’ve heard the discussion, and I’m willing to think beyond myself, and offer a self-imposed experiment. Let’s trust the process and see what happens.

His Journey Planet contribution takes the form of a letter to his young daughter and explains the gender parity issue and John’s decision. It’s a good read, so good that one almost forgets that Paul Cornell started the current controversy with a unilateral decision, not because women were “tapping him on the shoulder to step out of the way.”

However, Picacio is emphatic that his decision is sincere, not satirical, and that words weren’t enough, action was required. After reading in Journey Planet his explanation why he is stepping away from Worldcon programming this year I contacted him and asked:

Did you feel Chicon was closely identified with the 50/50 initiative or did you have another reason for choosing it to set this example?

Picacio replied:

I love Worldcon. I have so many friends there — professional, SMOF, and all across the gamut. This was a hard decision for me, especially in a year when I’m nominated for a Hugo, and wanted to participate to the best of my ability.

Frankly, since many of the personalities that were generating this discussion (for and against) are people who dwell at, or near, the epicenter of Worldcons and SMOF-centric sf/f cons, Chicon 7 seemed like the natural site to try this experiment. It’s not easy for me because I have a lot of friends on the Chicon committee. I wasn’t planning to do this until I got invited to write the essay for Journey Planet. That was the spark that prompted me to do something more than say “agree” or “disagree”. If it would’ve happened next year in San Antonio, I would’ve tried there. It just happened that this year was Chicago. Love the town. Love the people. No example being set against this con. Simple as that.

I don’t plan to make this an ongoing policy. It’s a one-time experiment — and I emphasize the word “experiment.” I’m hoping that some great female talent steps up and makes themselves known to Bobbie [DuFault, Chicon 7’s program organizer] so they can do some great programming, and I’m hoping that others take my place in the art show. I’m giving those who feel ignored and under-represented a pretty giant opportunity, as far as I’m concerned. Let’s see what they do with it. It’s up to them to make their case to the programming committee and the art show director. I’ll be curious to see what happens.

Again, not an easy decision for me. Let’s hope some good comes of it.

From time to time conrunners need something to challenge us to work better. The sf field has grown quite large, making it hard to become personally familiar with everyone’s performance as a panelist. And there are so many willing participants who are known quantities, I don’t know how easy it is for new people to get noticed as quickly as they may deserve, especially here in North America with its large number of active writers, artists and editors. Does anybody want Paul Cornell or John Picacio to step aside? Unlikely. But the fact that they’ve done it may goad us into scouting the field more thoroughly and doing a more effective job of reaching out to the people we discover — actually doing it, not just agreeing it’s the real solution.

Journey Planet Tempts Fate

If there were any triskaidekaphobes on the editorial staff of Journey Planet would they have dared fill issue #13 [PDF file] with arguments about sexual politics?

Guest editors Emma King and Helen Montgomery rounded up nearly three dozen fans to discuss gender parity on convention panels, a topical controversy ever since Paul Cornell announced his personal plan to do something about it, and the 2013 Eastercon made it a policy.   

A few writers uphold the 50/50 side of the argument against all comers, and a good thing they’re able to do it because most of the contributors oppose a fixed male-female ratio of panelists.

As Carol Connolly frames the question:

After all, this is the 21st Century! It’s not as if anyone is deliberately keeping women away. Surely as long as the con has a generally welcoming environment towards women, they’ll just turn up on panels. Like mushrooms in a field (translation for city folk: “like Starbucks franchises”).

Except that hasn’t happened, has it? Although women make up over 50% of the population, that fact is not mirrored in panel demographics.

That fundamental disparity is always on my mind as a program organizer, even if I am not a 50/50 advocate.

Opponents of 50/50 make forensic arguments about whether panels should mirror the population when the community of pro writers does not, and logistical arguments about the difficulty of aiming for 50/50 amid all the variables of assembling a convention program. Several women even argue that 50/50 would not advance feminist principles. For example, Emma Jane Davies feels 50/50 might be an impediment to dealing with the genuine issue:

Panel parity effectively makes a genuine problem invisible to fandom and the rest of the world. Are we so ashamed by the paucity of female SFF writers that we must deny the disparity, even to ourselves? Would the truth not act as a better motivation to those who wish to correct the real problem?

Certainly the zine will be must reading for conrunners because so many of their colleagues are in it and it’s a great way to see some of the other players’ cards.

(Full disclosure: I wrote for #13, too. Was that good luck for the editors, or bad?)

Monahan: Olympus 2012 Eastercon Report

By Jacq Monahan – TAFF Delegate 2012: From April 6-9, Olympus 2012 attendees convened at the Radisson Edwardian Heathrow for the 63rd Annual Eastercon (National British Science Fiction Convention). The venue lived up to its labyrinthine reputation by confusing everyone who checked in after they’d received their key card. I myself thought that I’d been given a gag room number that didn’t really exist. Then again, I’m a Yank, and that’s both a noun AND a verb.

All of the action (panels, bar, Art Room, Ops, Gopher Hole) happened on the third and fourth floors, accessible by marble staircases, elevators, and accident. It seems that one could find their way around by not looking for anything in particular and simply stumbling across the place they were looking for.

The four Guests of Honor (George R.R. Martin, Cory Doctorow, Paul Cornell, and Tricia Sullivan) were introduced at an Opening Ceremony where they shared the stage with Eastercon organizers and two Fan Guests of Honor (Margaret Austin and Martin Easterbrook).

Membership got attendees a badge with the descriptive name of their choice. Somehow I got the moniker TAFF Jacq, perhaps to differentiate me with fellow con-men FLAP and CAR. Other creative badges held names like Crazy Dave, Lost Car Park, and THE Anders.

A heavy bag accompanied the lanyard, and it contained two large paperback books, an Olympus mug and pen, programme books (two) and various flyers touting future conventions and publications. Locals were thrilled. Travelers wondered how they would stuff the extra 10 lbs. into already crammed suitcases for the return flight.

An entire third floor wall was dedicated to various other-con information. Most of the third floor, however, was taken up with the popular bar area, a place I christened Wasted Space. The name suited the activity that went on there – pints poured, shaved, and consumed at 4 pounds each – but the name was also quite literal. Most of the square footage was consumed by a large pond full of ceramic animals and fish, good for no other purpose than to gaze upon while being forced into closer proximity than one would like with fellow con-panions.

False indoor bridges gave the inebriated an extra sense of danger in maneuvering their way around the crowded-though-spacious, area.

The Dealers’ Room was full of books, jewelry, Beeblebears (at 29 pounds each, all 20 of them sold out) weapons, dragons, and even more books.

The Art Room featured a Fiji Mermaid, paranoid signs forbidding photographs, requisite female-only nudity in more than one painting, and fantasy sculptures left uncaptured for this report because of paranoid signs forbidding photographs.

The Green Room was where you’d go before your assigned panel to order a drink. The Gopher Hole was where you’d go if you suddenly lost your mind and was looking for frenzied organizational tasks to complete.  Lost was a place you found yourself several times during the first two days and it was always in a different location each time.

Ops was where you’d find people who eyed you warily as you entered. Were you heaving yet another complaint their way? Urgent problem? Logistical nightmare? These were the people with the Big Printout, who could unravel any mystery. One could virtually wither under their laser-like gaze and their heard-it-all-before pronouncements.

Panels – there were scores of them, covering fantasy, television, film, REAL science, GOH interviews and readings, a fan programme, and one constructed just for kids.

Of course the hotel’s largest meeting room, the Commonwealth, was reserved for the well-attended Opening and Closing Ceremonies, the George R.R. Martin and Cory Doctorow interviews and readings, and the notorious, traditional spoof that is Ian Sorenson’s play.

This year’s offering was Oliver, with a Twist, and starred Ian himself (in a dress) along with Yvonne Rowse, Julia Daly and Doug Spencer. There were parts for the TAFF and GUFF delegates, too, although it was rumored that Charles Dickens himself lobbied to have his name taken off the credits. Those brave enough to attend got enough laughs and groans to approximate a drunken revel, and soothe entire affair was deemed a rousing success by all.

GRRM, as he’s known, dominated the con with his reading of an excerpt from his unfinished The Winds of Winter, the sixth book in his popular Ice and Fire series, telling the crowd that it all came to him “in a vision.”

Canadian Cory Doctorow was interviewed by his longtime publisher Patrick Nielsen Hayden (TAFF ’85) and opined on world affairs and the stoicism of Brits. Seems sometimes even the urbane Doctorow likes a good rant – he just wishes he’d get a little sympathy from his English counterparts.

Panel names ranged from the whimsical (Imaginary Gripe Session) to the uber-serious, real science-oriented (MER Rover Mission to Mars, Geo-engineering to Save the Planet, The Science of Rocket Science).

Gender Parity was a hot topic. Were females being equally, even adequately represented on panels? For example, Sex and Fantasy on TV featured five male panelists and only one female to fend off comments like, “I’ll never object to nude women on television” and “why do they have to show male full frontal?” These last two utterances were made by men. Surprise!

A Fan Programme introduced Fan Fund delegates to interested attendees and also offered an auction and Tombola Table for eager chance takers who seemed to toss their pound coins into the till for a chance to win the set of Dr. Who figures – 11 in all.

A Kids’ Programme featured Balloon Modeling, a Beads and Origami Workshop, How to Knit a Dalek, Parts 1 and 2, a Beeblebears’ Picnic, and Clay Creature Composition, in addition to an Easter Egg Hunt.

Panels on Film and TV were augmented by an eclectic group with titles like Training Horses for Film Work, Tips for Playing Scrabble, Podcast Workshop, and Sufficiently Advanced Magic.

A movie room screened Minority Report, The Day the Earth Caught Fire, Galaxy Quest, and assorted shorts (not the wearable kind, mind you).

There was a Disco, a Masquerade (the Wirrm from a Dr. Who episode won the Award), a Red Planet LARP, hours of Filking, and even dance lessons for the incredibly brave or alcohol-fueled.

BSFA Awards were announced (Chris Priest controversy aside) and Hugo Nominations netted congratulations for attendees Claire Brialey, Mark Plummer, and James Bacon.

The con sold out before it opened – a rare occurrence – with nearly 1,400 souls meandering about the confusing corridors of the Radisson at any given moment. You could say that the experience added to the exploratory and discovery experience of the event if you were so inclined.

You could say that Eastercon Olympus 2012 was a smashing success and you’d be correct, if only you could find the right hallway to take you to tell someone about it.

James Bacon: 2013 Eastercon Adopts
Gender Parity Policy

By James Bacon: 8squared, the 2013 Eastercon Bid, announced they would be going for panel [gender] parity. Simon Bradshaw in charge of programme also advocated avoiding having all/majority moderators being male while achieving this. 

Meanwhile Satellite, the 2014 Eastercon bid, said they would prefer to follow what they normally do, so if four  women are the best speakers they’d be on the panel. After reviewing previous Satellites (local cons) they did well previously. When pressed they said they would not follow panel [gender] parity and one committee member subsequently said they want the best participants regardless of gender. This seemed a popular approach, but passions ran high at this stage from those who see that attitude as failing to enable gender parity. 

Both conventions were voted in. 

The question of  Panel Parity appears alive. One national con, here in the U.K., has embraced it.

Cornell and CONvergence

Michael Lee of CONvergence, where Paul Cornell will appear in July, sends his answers to my survey questions about the gender balance initiative.

> Do you think Cornell’s initiative will change or has already changed your approach?

> Do you have any comments on Paul Cornell’s and Si Spurrier’s actions?

Michael Lee: It’s possible that since our convention’s theme is Women Characters and Creators this year, and we’ve had Paul as a guest, I might have something to add.

I’m the head of activities at CONvergence, and that means the programming department reports up to me, and I also sit on the board of directors for our non-profit. I was also a programming head for five years before that. This is primarily my own thoughts here, and isn’t an official CONvergence statement.

CONvergence had Paul Cornell as a guest of honor two years ago, and he’s returning on his own this year. He’s a popular and fantastic panelist and participant, and I respect what he’s trying to do here. Our convention theme this year is “Women Characters and Creators in Science Fiction in Fantasy” — and the organization chose to make all of our guests this year women, in part because we haven’t historically been as representative as we could have been with guests of honor, and we’re trying to do better. Our membership is very evenly matched with men and women, as well as having a mix of men and women on our staff all the way up to our board of directors.

One thing I did was I started to track the overall distribution a little closer than before in response to Paul’s request in our programming database for CONvergence — not because I expected that each panels will balance 50/50, and we don’t have genders identified for all of our panel participants. We’re still in the process, so I don’t know where we’re going to end up, and I’m sure we’ll have things that work well and things that don’t.

I believe that the threat of civil disobedience to make spontaneous programming replacements is something that most conventions can avoid with some co-operation with participants. I know that he’s made his request about being on gender-balanced programming items to CONvergence’s programming team, and that’s not really much different of a request than people who don’t want panels before noon, or don’t want to be on a panel with someone they don’t get along with, or that they want to be on a panel with their friends, or any number of other requests that people make to program teams. I know that we try to plan our programming schedule out far enough that we’re trying to work with Paul on specific items, just as we try to balance a lot of peoples’ desires to see what they want in programming.

I think Paul’s efforts have helped emphasize the issue of women on convention panels, and I think that is a good discussion to have. I think we’ve seen that across the wide variety of responses you’ve already had on this subject, by a lot of people that I have a lot of respect for.

I think it’s part of a larger movement that we’ve been seeing, not just in SF fandom, but also very strongly in comics fandom and Doctor Who fandom (which Paul is actively a part in as well), and other parts of the culture (like technology) where women making their presence known and acknowledging the institutional barriers to women (as well as other groups) in the culture. And really, I think it’s important for those of us that are conrunners toot just making programming participants more varied, but also making a stronger more diverse mix as guests of honor. And it’s also to seek out and be happy when you see a more varied mix of creators in books, comics, and television shows. We’re after all in a world where perhaps the most successful fantasy book series and the most successful science fiction book series are written by women. That needs to be reflected in our conventions as well.


Michael Lee

By Northern Lights

Johan’s post on Tystnad (Män, kvinnor och science fiction kongresser) speculates how Paul Cornell’s gender balance initiative might factor into his planning for this year’s Swedish natcon program:

As you who read Silence [Tystnad] either know or will become painfully aware of the next six months is Maria, Daniel, and I [are] is arranging this year’s major Swedish science fiction and fantasykongress, Contrast (swecon 2012). Since I am auditor in charge of the programme, as well as a part of the Committee for Åcon, a lot of my time is devoted to reflect[ing] on suitable [topics] to talk about – and who would be able to talk about them.

Reading the post with the help of, I learned he holds some views in common with the conrunners quoted here the other day. Johan acknowledges that it’s not easy to gender balance a convention’s slate of participants, much less individual panels. However, he is also concerned with avoiding the bias reflected in society at large:

There are several studies which have once again and again have landed in the same results. In a situation in which as many skilled men as competent women are available we are more inclined to choose more men than women in order to keep the public discussions. It is bad.

He also points out the challenge of balancing panels at local cons in Sweden where they may have no more than 20 program participants altogether.

[Again, don’t blame Johan for any infelicities in phrasing, since this has all been translated from the original language by a computer.]