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 have no idea what you all are talking about. My local grocery store has an entire rack just for hardbound chapbooks of If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love, translated into Chinese by Ken Liu.

  2. I started doing a Sad Puppy filk based on:
    https://youtu.be/8bfyS-S-IJs

    But then I came to my senses. I should be doing more positive stuff.

    For all that Hoyt says the Hugos are dead & irrelevant, she still intends to spend time & energy organising another iteration of Sad Puppies? Isn’t that a bit… pointless?

    Still, if it goes ahead, how about this time round, we don’t bother nominating items on the Sad Puppy site?

    On a more positive note, apropos works that got pushed out last year, the electronic versions of the “Long List Anthology Volume 2” can be downloaded from here if you were a backer.

  3. Standback: I have no idea what you all are talking about. My local grocery store has an entire rack just for hardbound chapbooks of If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love, translated into Chinese by Ken Liu.

    *snort*

  4. Genius = spending huge amounts of time and vitriol on an activity that you’ve said (a) you won’t take part in and (b) is completely pointless anyway? I thought that was the alternate definition of insanity …

    *brightens*
    Hoyt wrote books about Shakespeare? perhaps I should check them out …

  5. @soon lee – yes, please! Lets not nominate stuff on their list to “test” them. We did that last year and it only served to complicate things. Let them have their fun (lets get a true measure of how much participation they receive and who/what they are nominating).

    I really must complain, Mike. You ran this piece on Thanksgiving eve/day? Like I don’t have enough to do, what with trying to get the turkey to wear pants? 🙂

    There are so many good t-shirt designs in that one!

    “I’m a PREFERENTIAL SF Reader!”
    “MAKE THEM WEAR PANTS!” (alternative: “My eyes! My Eyes! PLEASE wear pants!”)
    “The Hugos are DEAD! Vote for the Hugos!”
    “Query? Is it really possible for the clueless to write good science fiction? I didn’t think so.”

    You know, this whole thing has descended to such depths of idiocy, I may not even bother to comment on it this year. (Operative word – “may”)

  6. Although I think awards or halls of fame about art are too subjective to have any meaning, I recognize that they have value as a marketing tool for an individual or genre. That said, I honestly still don’t understand what it is that Sad Puppies or Miffed Kitties or Dyspeptic Otters are angry about.

  7. Scratch the “not”…

    Sarah states: The problem is that my days of buying anything that said “Hugo” on the cover had ended before I entered college, and my last attempt at reading Hugo collections (I bought three… early nineties?) ended walled, because it felt like reading the assignments for my degree again: pointless, boring and definitely not SF/F unless you stretched the definition to the point of meaning nothing. They read in fact like a lot of George Luis Borges impersonators without the deep thought or the genius.

    Being born in ’62, she would have entered college round about 1980.

    So what would have had Hugo Winner on the cover back then?*

    The Fountains of Paradise – Clarke
    Dreamsnake – McIntyre
    Gateway – Pohl
    Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang – Wilhelm
    The Forever War – Haldeman
    Ringworld – Niven
    The Left Hand of Darkness – Le Guin
    Stand on Zanzibar – Brunner
    Lord of Light – Zelazny
    The Moon is a Harsh Mistress – Heinlein

    So what changed during the decade prior to Hoyt’s cessation of reading Hugo winners?

    A woman won the award in three of those ten years.

    Beyond that: at the time, most of the Hugo winning novels from the beginning of the awards till the cut off remained in print, so she could be referring to any Hugo winning novel from 1953 on.

    Lets assume she started reading at SF at ten and stopped buying books with Hugo Winner on the cover at 17/18.

    1972 to 1980.

    Aren’t most, if not all of those works the non-literary, non-message fiction kinds of works puppies are promoting as “real SF”?

    A lot of you stated her piece makes no sense – but this REALLY makes no sense, with one possible exception:

    she stopped seeking out Hugo winning novels when the award started being given to women (and she’s not one of them)….

    Those three Hugo winning feminist screeds were given out when I was already involved with fandom. My memory says that they were roundly lauded by all and sundry and were seen as “shoe-ins” for the award; these were truly ground-breaking novels that fit the genre well and did something different with it.

    There may have been crowing about “women finally winning” at the time; if so, I was unaware of it and equally, if so, the general praise from every quarter easily drowned any of that out. I was there for the presentation when Wilhelm won – the entire audience received it enthusiastically.

    All of this happened well before anyone started claiming that the Hugo awards were tools for a certain secret cabal.

    I’m now of the distinct impression that all Hoyt is doing is grabbing puppy memes blindly from a basket and stringing them together into sentences.

    *Novels only because, so far as I’m aware, that’s the only publications that placed HUGO WINNER on the cover. The mags usually mentioned it in internal ads….

  8. Sarah Hoyt grew up in Portugal and also went to university there, so her SF reading may well have been skewed by the availability of translations and/or import books (and it’s usually easier to find Heinlein, Asimov or Clarke than a newer author). Plus, imported US mass market paperbacks were really pricy in most of Europe pre-Amazon.

  9. 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.

    Is this ‘real fan’ nonsense supposed to be deliberately insulting, or is it just the mental gymnastics required due to Holt being unable to accept that there are people who love SFF but don’t share her opinions?

    This is perhaps why the Puppy effort has been getting so little traction with fandom at large and remains so clique-y. I’ve been a fan since I was seven or so, when I started reading Tolkien and Pratchett. I’m not fussed about identity politics or diversity issues. I read purely for enjoyment, and have appreciated many Hugo winning works over the years. And it boils my wick when Holt and the rest of her clique tell me that my feelings are insincere.

  10. “Real fans” is their indictment/code word for, variously, “Trufans”, Big F fans, convention-going fandom, so-called SMOFs (though of course no real SMOF refers to themselves as a SMOF) those fans who vote for the Hugo awards, those fans who are (un)witting dupes of the sekret kabal and/or anyone who publicly disagrees with their statements and positions (though this category is generally reserved for those who make good points when disagreeing).

    Fittingly, “Fan” defies definition (suitable for a genre that defies definition). I personally – without rancor – generally divide the community into two levels – FANS – those who are active in the community and have bothered to learn a bit about the culture, traditions and history (to whatever degree: these days, merely being aware that such things exist is almost enough to qualify) and fans – folks who enjoy genre, may go to a gateshow con every now and then, don’t care/aren’t involved in the culture and rarely have more to say than “I liked it” or “I didn’t like it.

    Of course there is a third category – puppies. Former fans, maybe fans, sorta-kinda-resemble fans. They’re characterized by willful ignorance of the culture, and particularly identifiable by their actions: they USE fannish culture to advance their personal agendas, publicly distance themselves from that same culture.

  11. “Schnookums Von Fancypants on November 23, 2016 at 8:12 pm said:

    Sad Puppies 5: Projection ain’t just a river in Egypt”

    With this theme song?
    Being told we’re also-rans
    Does not make us Hugo fans.
    (Such a dazzling Hugo nomination,
    How we love our Hugo nominations!)
    We chose smart and clever
    And brave and honest and true!

  12. @Soon Lee

    Still, if it goes ahead, how about this time round, we don’t bother nominating items on the Sad Puppy site?

    Please, I’m begging this year. Filets did the experiment last year. Filers created many of the top recommendations. Let’s not do a repeat.

  13. I’m going to ignore SP5. I’m reading stories, making a list, checking it twice, gonna see who I think are Hugo worthy, nominate those stories and people, vote on my choices, party like it’s 1999

    Drinking to world peace please join me in a cuppa

  14. ‘George Luis Borges’?

    There’s a venerable tradition of Anglicising foreign names, of course, but in that case shouldn’t it be ‘George Lewis’?

  15. @Andrew M:

    ‘George Luis Borges’?

    There’s a venerable tradition of Anglicising foreign names, of course, but in that case shouldn’t it be ‘George Lewis’?

    As the noted revolutionary cyborg businessman Prof Waldo Harriman never said, “Inconsistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

    Whether that makes any sense is left as a three-star exercise for the reader.

  16. And in today’s Pixel Scroll, we read that one of the most utterly traditional short fiction Hugo winners of recent years, ‘The Lady Astronaut of Mars’, is to give birth to a book series. It is message fiction, certainly, but its message is an utterly Golden Age one, ‘Space Travel Good!’. And the problem was…?

  17. SF 4.142 million v. 5.904 million, up 44%

    But 1.5 million of those books were bought by people who didn’t actually like them, for the purpose of virtue signaling, so they don’t count.

  18. @rob_matic

    Is this ‘real fan’ nonsense supposed to be deliberately insulting, or is it just the mental gymnastics required due to Holt being unable to accept that there are people who love SFF but don’t share her opinions?

    The whole thing is a reactionary response to their preferences not being lauded. Awards like the Hugo tend to value innovation and risk-taking as well as superior craftsmanship. With that being the case, the development of the award towards excellent work that offers different and/or unique approaches to SF means that it is less representative of derivative work.

    That’s why the idea of sales=quality is such a huge belief with the Puppies. If something is popular it must be good, therefore, awards that don’t reward popular works are about ideology and elitism. Puppies like reading the same kinds of stories in different wrapping over and over. It’s why they skew so hard to writers like Correia or Butcher. But because they stay within a literary comfort zone, they can’t comprehend how anyone could like something like ‘Ancillary Justice’ because the pronoun usage makes them uncomfortable as a reader.

    Torgersen basically outed the whole side in SP3 when he talked about what SF should be; rockets, engineers solving problems, space, etc. Safe concepts that have been rehashed over and over for 60+ years that never challenge their mental safe spaces. That being the case, they can’t value innovation and that’s why newer SF is ‘message based’, ‘gimmicky’, ‘affirmative action’, ‘literary’ and what not. As a result, their scope of knowledge about the SF landscape is sadly narrow.

  19. I wrote this elsewhere, but I think it bears repeating: Minus the rhetoric? This is actually pretty great.

    What they say they’re actually going to do is to stop bashing their heads against an award and a community that gives them no joy, and focus on constantly highlighting stuff that they like.

    Five crowdsourced recommendations a month? If they manage that, that sounds like a healthy, engaged community to me. They’ll mention the awards when they’re up? That’s totally legit; even more legit if they’re, you know, an active, engaged community that actually focuses on positive recommendations.

    Really, as long as they’re not organizing to coordinate their votes, as long as they’re not running membership drives with a slate in hand — well, I may disagree with their tastes, and I may have great personal differences with them, but they’re no longer invading the Hugo.

    If they DO go on a membership drive come February-ish, that’s a rather different matter – but that’s pretty much exactly what they’re saying they won’t be doing. Last year, they said they’d be firmly positioning themselves as a recommendation list, and that’s exactly what they did. I’m inclined to take them at their word this time around, too. If they change their mind later, I’ll adjust accordingly, but I’m kind of betting I won’t need to.

    “Minus the rhetoric” is not a trivial thing elide, of course. But, well, you all know me. 😛 Rhetoric and snark are fuel for the fire in this case, and the other guy on the internet is never going to politely go “Well, OK, let’s calm down now and patch things up.”

    I think this is a good choice for the Puppies. I hope they find lots of great material, build up a healthy community, and have lots of fun.

  20. @Andrew M

    And in today’s Pixel Scroll, we read that one of the most utterly traditional short fiction Hugo winners of recent years, ‘The Lady Astronaut of Mars’, is to give birth to a book series. It is message fiction, certainly, but its message is an utterly Golden Age one, ‘Space Travel Good!’. And the problem was…?

    Vaginas. Both the author and the astronaut protagonist had one.

  21. Andrew M: ‘George Luis Borges’? There’s a venerable tradition of Anglicising foreign names, of course, but in that case shouldn’t it be ‘George Lewis’?

    I hadn’t even bothered to go to the link and read the rest of it. She’s Portuguese, she thinks he’s a genius, but she can’t even manage to spell Borges’ name correctly?

  22. “The Hugos are dead to us! Dead! And here’s our page with our recommendations which we won’t vote for because dead to us! Dead!”

    I’m very confused.

  23. Is this ‘real fan’ nonsense supposed to be deliberately insulting,

    It’s the usual Puppy projection, where they’re convinced that fans who don’t embrace what the Puppies want them to embrace are wrongfans having wrongfun, so they accuse the non-Puppies of saying that about the Puppies, all the while they’re bellowing it about non-Puppies without managing to see any disconnect.

    Or maybe the better term would be “fakefans having fakefun,” because they don’t seem to believe anyone could actually like things they haven’t read but imagine they wouldn’t like (or worse, like a wider range of things than the Puppies), so they insist non-Puppies are only pretending to like it.

    Because everyone should have the freedom to like whatever they like, as long as it’s Puppy-approved.

  24. @Standback

    Good points, although I suspect the rhetoric will be even more tedious with Hoyt at the helm. My equanimity about their list is mainly because last year showed they had minimal influence now.

  25. Snowcrash (and James Davis Nicoll) The Honorverse books seem to have suffered from “creeping padding syndrome” as time went on. Having discovered that SoV was out, this moose swiftly skimmed (and I mean skimmed) the sample chapters on offer, looked at the reviews on bigsouthamericanriver and thought “Yes, mostly padding, probably excised from earlier drafts at editorial insistence”. Now I’m not so sure. The work itself is far better than the sample chapters suggested (“not difficult” came a comment from the back), and leads me to a somewhat different theory.

    I reckon it’s an attempt to tidy up as many loose ends as possible, stuff the Honorverse into a box, chain it firmly shut, and stuff it in the back of the closet with a warning sign: “Not to be opened except in dire financial circumstances.”

    Bricking up the doorway might help, too.

    That series is no longer on the autopurchase list, this moose is tired of the relentless padding, repetition of the same event from a gazillion viewpoints, and the physics model began to grate quite some time ago. (e.g. If you launch a kinetic energy missile with the thrust “dialled down” to a low value, what exactly happens to the remaining energy in the propulsion system when it hits its target? As the famous Eccles said: “Everybody’s got to be somewhere” and the remaining drive energy will pop up and shake you warmly by $Body_Part when it gets released.)

    “People who like books like this will like this book.” (D. Langford, I think.)

    (/grumble)

    Afterthought: if my theory is correct, at least he didn’t use the Douglas Adams’ approach to series conclusion. (As demonstrated in Mostly Harmless, which I would advise anyone who hasn’t already read it to burn it on sight.)

  26. Torgersen basically outed the whole side in SP3 when he talked about what SF should be; rockets, engineers solving problems, space, etc

    Analog specializes in that type of science fiction. Brad Torgersen has sold many stories to Analog. And continues to sell to that market. Analog has the largest circulation of any science fiction magazine. Doesn’t look like that type of science fiction is in any danger.

  27. Cadbury Moose, I’m about half-way through the latest Honor Harrington doorstop and I find it goes down much easier if I just kinda skim over the weapons-porn until I hit plot or characterization. I’m also skimming past the endless descriptions of just how gorgeous everybody is, which are given by multiple viewpoints for no reason I can see, and I’m generally just looking for the major points during the endless meetings. This has reduced the reading time considerably and made it (in my opinion) a much better book. Glad to hear that Weber actually wraps things up at the end; at the moment it seems to be going furiously in all directions at once.

  28. I imagine that I’ll read the last Honor Harrington book at some point since I’m a bit of a completist, but it’s not a priority. I’ve had to resort to the same techniques as Cassy in order to get through the last several books, and it’s really getting to the point where I’m thinking that if I have to do all that skimming and editing just to get through it, it’s not worth my time.

  29. “I’m a PREFERENTIAL SF Reader!”

    Sad Pups are proudly and defiantly first-past-the-post SF readers.

  30. However, the awards are NOT the point anymore.


    The Hugos That Fall On You From Nowhere

    If You Were Oblivious, My Love

    Hugo Nom But Unlooked-for

  31. Not to be pedantic (okay, technically speaking I’m totally being pedantic) but SP2 would have been “Sad Harder”. This would be followed, of course, by “Sad Hard With a Vengeance”, and “Live Free or Sad Hard”. The current effort would be “A Good Day to Sad Hard”.

    Although let’s be honest, it’s much funnier if you replace “Hard” instead of “Die”. “Sad Puppies 5: A Good Day to Die Sad”.

    (Aside to Cadbury Moose: Adams didn’t write ‘Mostly Harmless’ as a way to wrap up the series. He was really surprised when it was characterized that way. He was planning another book when he died, saying that it was going to be much easier because the cast wasn’t scattered like they were at the start of the third and fourth books. He knew exactly where they were–they were all dead. 🙂 )

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  33. I always love the argument that seems to boil down to, “When I first got into Science Fiction, the books that had won a Hugo were these all-time classics written by the giants of the field! Now each year, what wins is some new thing I never heard of.”

  34. @Ky: “Being told we’re also-rans / Does not make us Hugo fans”

    LOL, thanks for the “Joseph…” riff. One of my all-time favorite musicals! 😀

    Also: Lordy, in trying to keep up with File770 over Turkey Weekend, I somehow missed this announcement. Would I have been better not knowing?

  35. @Kendall

    I think it’s safe to ignore the Sads from now on. They’ve faded into their own little corner of obscurity.

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