Going To The Dogs Again

Here’s the advance word on Sad Puppies Five, from a post today on Mad Genius Club.

Sarah A. Hoyt could have had a Hugo if she wanted one —

Also, the Hugo was not an object, or I could have captured one of the “least voted” categories by enjoining my fans to buy supporting memberships and get me a Hugo.

But real fans aren’t interested in the Hugos.

Oh, the real fans didn’t give it much attention or credit (and by real fans I mean people who REALLY read SF/F preferentially, not people who are using SF/F for social signaling, much less those who came to SF/F in the spirit of missionaries bringing their gospel to our field and trying to make us wear pants, or be literary, or whatever the tight-lipped scolds are obsessing on right now.

Still, a disinterested professional (like Hoyt) looking over the field could see why something needed to be done:

The problem with what happened to the Hugos is that it was objectively bad for the field.  Because having a Hugo allowed books entry to places that rarely carry SF, like supermarkets.  And then people who aren’t into the field will pick one up, casually, and decide it’s atrocious and run screaming.

So, Sarah A. Hoyt will be leading Sad Puppies Five.

Just don’t expect her to join the Worldcon or actually vote on the Hugo Awards —

I am still not going to give them any money.

But Sarah, you’ll say, how can you lead Sad Puppies 5, when you’re not going to nominate and vote on the Hugos.

Well, as much as I hate to say this, the Hugos as the award Heinlein won, are dead.  There is nothing that can be done.  I’m not a necromancer.  In that sense the Sad Puppies won.  We proved the game is rigged, and we can walk away.

Only she can’t walk away. She believes these Sad Puppies campaigns are the only thing that makes anyone pay attention to writers on her end of the spectrum.

We’re still in the middle of a culture war.  And one of the things the — for lack of a better term — other side has is bully pulpits.  Now most of them are in the old paper media, and they’re not really read by fans of the field.  BUT still, they have magazines that publish recommended lists, and interviews with authors, and turn the spotlight on work they think should be read.

We have nothing like that.  Yeah, yeah, Otherwhere Gazette, which might or might not be revived some day (depending on health and a million other things) but even if it is, will have to climb up into …. people’s awareness.

And if we’re going to do that, we might as well tie it to the Sad Puppies effort, because hey, there is no such thing as bad publicity.

So what will the 2017 Sad Puppies campaign look like?

This year the Sad Puppies (5) will host a page, on which you can make recommendations, and which will, every month, give you a collated list of the 5 works with the most votes, in each subcategory (if we have that many, of course) and if/what awards they’re eligible for.  The list will also include mystery, where a lot of the indie are quite good and by and large unnoticed.

Before the nominating dates for major awards, I’ll put a notice on the page, and a list of the however many (5 or 10) most recommended books for your consideration.

Even though all this activity will be keyed to award deadlines, don’t think awards are important. Oh, no.

However, the awards are NOT the point anymore.  Frankly in the hyper-distributed world of indie publishing, they might never be the point again.

The point is to give science fiction and fantasy that escapes the bounds of what traditional publishers encourage — which is often not what the public at large will even read — and to promote the health and popularity of our genre.

That’s the real goal – to let slip the surly bonds of New York publishing. No matter how many times Hoyt talks about the Hugo Awards, don’t let yourself be distracted….

107 thoughts on “Going To The Dogs Again

  1. I’ve just realised I’ve not read anything from Hoyt for a few months, which must surely have been good for my soul.

    Now I have. Sigh

  2. There are some amazingly stupid people posting comments to her announcement. (Which, I realize, is like saying “there are some amazingly hot deserts in Arizona”.)

  3. by real fans I mean people who REALLY read SF/F preferentially,

    Can somebody tell me whether she mean “preferentially reads SF/F,” and if so what that means, e.g., “prefers reading SF/F to contemporary detective stories, etc” or something else, OR “reads SF/F/ that is ‘preferential,’ per a dictionary definition like “giving an advantage to a particular person or group“? (Would reading Ms P’s full post let me answer my own question?) What is somebody really does read sf/f pref-y in whatever she’s talking about, but still isn’t a “real” fan?

    not people who are using SF/F for social signaling

    By “people who are using…” does she mean the writers (and their editors, publishers, etc) or the readers? My first visual image/interpretation of doing this was having a copy of Analog sticking out of my (large) shirt pocket, with the logo top-and-outfacing. (I suspect this is not what she means.)

    much less those who came to SF/F in the spirit of missionaries bringing their gospel to our field and trying to make us wear pants, or be literary, or whatever the tight-lipped scolds are obsessing on right now.

    Does she provide any examples of any of these, either authors or writings?

    Is she opposed to all pants? Literary pants? Missionary pants? Preferential pants? Preferential missionary pants? Does she consider kilts pants?

    I’m so confused.

  4. I really don’t know how their brains don’t explode, Scanners-style, from the cognitive dissonance. Their denial mechanisms are yooger than Trump’s wall.

    Funny how the same people who supposedly killed “the award Heinlein won” actually gave him TWO more last year, and multiple nominations… but that’s an inconvenient truth (He finished first, second, and third in Novella!).

    And what does wearing pants have to do with anything? That was a hell of a non-sequitur.

    Shouldn’t they be leaving the old, dead, Hugo alone and flocking to the new shiny Dragon? Doesn’t cost any money to nominate and vote. Convention with big attendance numbers, so obviously more legit because money.

    Not putting your money where your mouth is is also pretty chicken. Bawk bawk.

    Acidulated Vinus.

  5. @Lurkertype:

    Funny how the same people who supposedly killed “the award Heinlein won” actually gave him TWO more last year, and multiple nominations… but that’s an inconvenient truth (He finished first, second, and third in Novella!).

    But the better Heinlein works mostly didn’t win. Proof! Clear proof! They’re trying to ruin his reputation by giving retro Hugos to his less-great early work.

  6. @lurkertype:

    The pants reference is, I believe, means that the bad ol’ missionaries, damn their eyes, are trying to force their narrow-minded views on them natives again by trying to force them to wear pants.

  7. Methinks the lady doth protest, and protest, and protest too much.

    “The Hugos are totally dead, and we totally don’t want one, and here’s what we’re going to do to try to win Hugos.”

    Also, I got a huge laugh out of the incredible lack of self-awareness in this:

    they have magazines that publish recommended lists, and interviews with authors, and turn the spotlight on work they think should be read. We have nothing like that.

    Why do you suppose that is, Sarah? Could it be that it’s because you Puppies are too busy trying to steal someone else’s awards to actually do the incredible amount of hard work required to start those venues for yourselves and make them prosper, just as other people have done?

    Yep, these are the people who bleat on repeatedly about personal responsibility. 🙄

  8. A goodly number of the writers that the SP clique likes have been published by traditional publishers including Hoyt herself for a number off books. One gets dropped from such a publisher generally for selling poorly. Hoyt was most likely one of these that dropped for that reason.

    More over, trad publishing is no more dead than is trad music publishing — both sell the overwhelming majority of product sold these days. And my local bookstore only stocks SFF from the trad publishers. That’s because they sell well whereas smaller publisher have books that just don’t have the media presence for readers to be aware of them.

    Finally I doubt she’s as well read in the field of SF and fantasy as any one of us is. Hell I even read three of MH doorstops. I’ll read any author if it sounds entertaining and since I run a review site, I see a lot of books.

    Poor Sad Puppies — trying to frame their arguement in such a way that reality itself will bend to their ideological nbeliefs.

  9. I liked one of Hoyt’s Shakespeare novels.

    And then I made the mistake of visiting her blog, and getting banned there, and then accidentally unbanned, and then banned again, and (from reports, I don’t know for certain, I’ve never tried to post again) unbanned once more.

    But I’m confused by the SP5 announcement. Is it or isn’t about the Hugos?

    Re: much less those who came to SF/F in the spirit of missionaries bringing their gospel to our field and trying to make us wear pants, or be literary, or whatever the tight-lipped scolds are obsessing on right now.

    I think this is pointed at Kij Johnson and her ilk, particularly Rachel Swirsky and the obsession over the non-Hugo winning “If you were a Dinosaur, my love”

  10. John A Arkansawyer wrote: “I had to put down Darkship Thieves. It was hard reading a really good book by someone who so sadly abuses her talent as a writer with this petty shit.

    Yeah, the thing that always puzzles me about Hoyt is that she’s pretty darn good at writing entertaining fiction, but her non-fiction/social-commentary is so incredibly, spectacularly dreadful. There may be a Jekyll/Hyde potion involved.

  11. @Daniel Dern: I’d have F&SF sticking out of my pocket; I wonder if that’s signaling that would match up with yours or not. But if you and I ever met, odds are we’d both be wearing con badges, maybe with some ribbons hanging off them. The con badges would definitely signal! Possibly we could also wear preferential missionary pants, if we ever find out what those are. Maybe those black trousers the nice Mormon boys wear when they bicycle door-to-door? They’re missionaries, and they prefer those.

    Also, this whole thing shows again their US bias — because the Brits must be LOL at this from their definition of pants. Which aren’t worn with kilts.

    Do culottes count? (As the French laugh) How about skorts?

  12. @Bruce Arthurs:

    Yeah, the thing that always puzzles me about Hoyt is that she’s pretty darn good at writing entertaining fiction, but her non-fiction/social-commentary is so incredibly, spectacularly dreadful. There may be a Jekyll/Hyde potion involved.

    Gotta be something. Even when Heinlein wrote something kind of cracked in terms of non-fiction/social commentary, it was compulsively readable. Not hers. The only theory I have is that she believes writing idiot political screeds will draw political idiots to buy her books because they think she’s one of them.

  13. I think that both Hoyt and Paulk genuinely want to avoid a Larry/Brad style of slating, but can’t get away from the fact that attacking the Hugos is the one sure-fire way to energise their base, and their own lingering resentments make them want to put the boot in yet again.
    Absent them doing anything that genuinely threatens the integrity of the awards, I’ll be doing my best to just roll my eyes at their pronouncements.

    (Well, there may be some snark along with the eye rolling, no one’s perfect after all)

  14. @Robert Reynolds: So there they go again, mixing their metaphors. How can we be missionaries when they usually say we’re Christ-hating sodomites, or atheists, or pagans, or all the other religious stuff they try to insult us with?

    @Mark-kitteh: luckily, your snark is good.

  15. I really don’t know how their brains don’t explode, Scanners-style, from the cognitive dissonance.

    Well, for a fire, you need fuel, an oxidizer, and heat. But there seems to be a distinct paucity of oxygen reaching their heads.

  16. I was going to chime in with “Bunchteenth!” but the commentariat are already into the roaring twenties. Hmmm.

    Moose do not wear pants (either US or UK meaning), FYI. (Well, this one doesn’t anyway, the labcoat is quite sufficient.) 3:O)>

    The SP5 post is just sad, and I suppose I will adopt my usual policy of voting for things I actually like.

    What else is a chocolate moose to do?

    ObSheesh: Furrfu!

    Cadbury.
    (Currently reading Shadow of Victory for some reason.)

  17. @John Seavey: Too on the nose.

    @Our Moose: But nobody votes for things they like! The Pups keep telling us so!

    @Darren: By jove, you’ve got it.

    @Cat Eldridge: We’ve already seen that none of the Puppies of any variety are as well-read as a randomly-selected Filer, time and time again. They don’t even read their shibboleth, St. Bob of Heinlein.

    The umpty-pound gorilla of books nowadays is Amazon, and I noticed last Scroll in their recommended SF books, there was at least one indie book. Is dissing NYC trad pub a thing they do now when NYC won’t take ’em any more? Like dissing Hugos when they don’t win, even after cheating? Do low sales and maybe persistent whining that makes certain that all the publicity you get is bad have anything to do with NYC dropping an author?

    they have magazines that publish recommended lists, and interviews with authors, and turn the spotlight on work they think should be read. We have nothing like that.

    Gosh, Sarah, you could maybe start a website that does things like that. I know, it’s a crazy idea, but hear me out. I’ve heard tell there’s one that publishes as far away from NYC as you can get in the lower 48. It has all those things and more, every single day. The name escapes me — something in the 700-800 range?

    But remember, it’s not about the awards. Especially not about the Hugos.

  18. I can’t help but feel that this is the moment that the puppies have gone undead, just not a very threatening form of the undead. As long as they are committed to the previous narratives of the puppy campaigns, they’re going to be stuck in this increasingly irrelevant form of bitterness and resentment. If they’re going to do that, they might as well just embrace the full form of this nonsense, which is embedded in the grotesque misogyny and racism displayed by Beale, along with his ballot fixing. Ironically, they could have easily distanced themselves from the bad behavior of the past simply by emphasizing the differences in the last campaign and the other campaigns and distanced themselves from that rhetoric. But to be honest, my actual position was more aptly represented by NK Jemisin in that small blog post that apparently massively offended the puppies.

  19. Hoyt: they have magazines that publish recommended lists, and interviews with authors, and turn the spotlight on work they think should be read. We have nothing like that.

    Lurkertype: Gosh, Sarah, you could maybe start a website that does things like that.

    What the hell is wrong with you. Clearly, such a thing simply cannot be done.

  20. Robert Wood: I can’t help but feel that this is the moment that the puppies have gone undead, just not a very threatening form of the undead. As long as they are committed to the previous narratives of the puppy campaigns, they’re going to be stuck in this increasingly irrelevant form of bitterness and resentment.

    One of the Puppies swears that they saw the horse’s nose twitch.

  21. Surely one day the Sad Puppies will reach Carcassonne.

    After seeing similar fanfare at the start of Sad Puppy 4, which was for the most part moribund until the Hugo nominating deadline, is there any reason that Sad Puppy 5 should be expected to be any different? At least Brad was busy out and about tossing bombs and starting fires during his tenure.

  22. I’ll admit I’m somewhat stuck on this Hugo winners in the grocery store bit. The only SF/F in the grocery stores around here are YA blockbusters. Is this different elsewhere in the country?

  23. K8: I’ll admit I’m somewhat stuck on this Hugo winners in the grocery store bit. The only SF/F in the grocery stores around here are YA blockbusters. Is this different elsewhere in the country?

    No. The iconic image of sf paperbacks on grocery store bookracks is a generation out of date, like a lot of other Puppy notions.

  24. Prior to the big consolidation of distributors in the 1990s, it was common for non-book stores to have small book sections. Regional distributors generally had a good idea what would sell at each store, so each store generally had a different selection, drawing mainly from the midlist.

    Post-consolidation, it wasn’t worth the profit to know each customer that way. The new strategy is to fill all of the stores with the same small set of books drawn from the best seller list. Big gain for the guys at the top, big hit for the midlisters.

  25. As an example of how it used to work: I picked up my copy of Space Viking at Sears, my copy of Cycle of Fire [1] at Hub Variety and A Small Colonial War at Dutch Boy.

    1: Usual footnote about the weird parallels between Cycle of Fire and Mote in God’s Eye.

  26. I mean people who REALLY read SF/F preferentially, not people who are using SF/F for social signaling

    Something something truefans. I read that and it made my middle finger spasm.

  27. Part of the reason that part really struck me is because, even though I rarely buy books at the grocery, Target, Wal-mart, etc., I often look at what they have on display for professional reasons. I want to see what they’re identifying and displaying as high-demand items. I do the same thing when I’m in book stores. Obviously, based on the comment in the post, I suddenly wondered if things were different elsewhere. I’m guessing that the rest of y’all see the same supply of bestsellers, media tie-ins, romance, classic children’s books, and blockbuster YA, with a smattering of cozy fiction and Christian fiction.

  28. I mean people who REALLY read SF/F preferentially, not people who are using SF/F for social signaling

    I would like to say that I believe that every one of you really reads SF/F preferentially. There are only two posters that I have ever interacted with on this site that I’m not 100% sure of, and they were both trolls. Even then I assume that they “really” enjoyed some flavour of SF/F.

  29. K8: I’m guessing that the rest of y’all see the same supply

    Yes, but in a lot smaller volume, and in a lot fewer places, than I did 20 or 30 years ago. It used to be that you’d see a rack of paperbacks in various kinds of stores specializing in merchandise that had nothing to do with books (hardware stores, pharmacies, etc.). Most of that seems to have disappeared — and the book sections in grocery stores, where they still exist, have gotten a lot smaller.

  30. @Mark-kitteh – I think that both Hoyt and Paulk genuinely want to avoid a Larry/Brad style of slating, but can’t get away from the fact that attacking the Hugos is the one sure-fire way to energise their base, and their own lingering resentments make them want to put the boot in yet again

    I also think that this is to pre-emptively defend themselves against criticisms like J. C. Carlton’s – that they were insufficiently ideologically driven/ fight-minded

    .@Cadbury Moose – (Currently reading Shadow of Victory for some reason.)

    Oh gods that effin book. If it wasn’t on my tablet I would have thrown it So. Fucking. Hard. So many pages of recap. So many superfluous ways of repeating things again and again and again. This was worse than the Jordan’s rut in Wheel of Time was.

    If this is what Baen’s team editing approach results in, it’ll be to soon if they never win an award again.

  31. I keep asking and hopefully somebody can answer this question.

    Are SF sales down over the last 10 – 15 years or not? Have they shrunk or grown as a proportion of total book sales (electronic and physical)?

  32. Fun as it may be for the 770 people, your best bet is probably to ignore the Sad Pupppies. Last go around the SP did not have a hard slate and lock out complete categories. Casting stones publically will just rile people up.

  33. airboy: Casting stones publically will just rile people up.

    These are people who have repeatedly invented a whole bunch of confabulation just to get themselves riled up. I don’t think it matters what other people do.

    And after complaining repeatedly about Hugo finalists and winners going to things that they don’t like, if they’re going to post such blindingly un-self-aware things as
    they have magazines that publish recommended lists, and interviews with authors, and turn the spotlight on work they think should be read. We have nothing like that.

    Well, then, I think they’ve pretty much earned the mockery.

  34. If this is what Baen’s team editing approach results in, it’ll be to soon if they never win an award again.

    If I recall my old rasfw megathreads, Baen discovered editing Weber had no effect on sales, so they don’t.

  35. Airboy asks: I keep asking and hopefully somebody can answer this question.

    Are SF sales down over the last 10 – 15 years or not? Have they shrunk or grown as a proportion of total book sales (electronic and physical)?

    Bookscan figures for 2014 and 2015

    Fantasy 7.526 million v. 6.600 million, down 12%
    SF 4.142 million v. 5.904 million, up 44%

    Like all stats, the devil is skating on thin ice as the details aren’t available without paying a lot of money to get them.

  36. I’ll admit I’m somewhat stuck on this Hugo winners in the grocery store bit. The only SF/F in the grocery stores around here are YA blockbusters. Is this different elsewhere in the country?

    No, it isn’t. For the most part you need to be named George R.R. Martin, Rick Riordan, Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth, or Marissa Meyer to get stocked at places like Target or Costco. Every now and then a different YA science fiction or fantasy writer sneaks in, but none of the Puppy favorites have ever been seen on the shelves of stores like these, and none of the Puppy shibboleths have either.

  37. I’ll admit I’m somewhat stuck on this Hugo winners in the grocery store bit. The only SF/F in the grocery stores around here are YA blockbusters. Is this different elsewhere in the country?

    The two main grocers here in the Portland, Maine area are always heavy on SF tie-ins, mostly Star Wars and Star Trek. Though lots of the romance novels are always the top stockers.

  38. airboy: Fun as it may be for the 770 people, your best bet is probably to ignore the Sad Pupppies.

    I’m not likely to ignore an author announcing she’s going to run another iteration of Sad Puppies.

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