Pixel Scroll 6/1/18 One Post, At Least, Thy Tick Shall Stalk

(1) COCKYGATE. A transcript of today’s “Cockygate” court hearing  [PDF file] courtesy of Courtney Milan. She paid for it.

Milan asks:

If you want to do something that would be meaningful to me, drop a tip in RWA’s perseverance fund. It’s for romance authors who need help paying membership dues—whether they’re current members or not.

(2) SF AT THE SMITHSONIAN. Arthur C. Clarke papers in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum: “Letters from a Science Fiction Giant”.

“One of the strengths of the collection is Clarke’s manuscripts,” says curator Martin Collins. “Clarke had working notes as he prepared things for publication. It really highlights his deep belief and attention to making his fictional stuff as close to scientific fact as he could.”

The majority of the correspondence dates from the 1960s on. Tucked inside one folder, a letter from Wernher von Braun cordially invites Clarke to the October 11, 1968 launch of Apollo 7. “The rocket will carry [Wally Schirra, Donn Eisele, and Walter Cunningham] on a ten day earth orbital flight,” writes von Braun. “This mission will demonstrate the performance of the Saturn IB launch vehicle, the spacecraft’s command and service modules, and the crew and support facilities.” (Von Braun helpfully attached a list of motels in the Cape Kennedy area, which ranged in price from $5 to $18 a night.) A year later, Clarke, at Walter Cronkite’s side, covered the Apollo 11 mission for CBS.

(3) YE ROUND PEG IN YE ROUND HOLE. The BBC covers a study that shows “Every story in the world has one of these six basic plots”, applying Vonnegut’s graphing theory to some of the recent “100 stories that shaped the world”, including a few genre.

“Thanks to new text-mining techniques, this has now been done. Professor Matthew Jockers at the University of Nebraska, and later researchers at the University of Vermont’s Computational Story Lab, analysed data from thousands of novels to reveal six basic story types – you could call them archetypes – that form the building blocks for more complex stories. The Vermont researchers describe the six story shapes behind more than 1700 English novels as:

  1. Rags to riches – a steady rise from bad to good fortune
  2. Riches to rags – a fall from good to bad, a tragedy
  3. Icarus – a rise then a fall in fortune
  4. Oedipus – a fall, a rise then a fall again
  5. Cinderella – rise, fall, rise
  6. Man in a hole – fall, rise

(4) AUTHOR’S PICKS. Catherynne M. Valente names “10 Essential Offbeat Science Fiction Novels” at Publishers Weekly. First on the list –

1. How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu

This is one of my all-time favorite books and I can never not recommend it. It takes time travel and all the tropes inherent to it to a whole new level of emotional resonance, humor, and philosophy. It’s light on plot (and linearity) and heavy on meaning, but the whole thing is so deeply human, and at the same time, takes its science fiction so seriously that it’s no surprise author Charles Yu went on to write for Westworld.

(5) FAMOUS LAMB. Scott Edelman says “Nebula Award-winning writer Kelly Robson had a little lamb (and you can eavesdrop)” in Episode 68 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Have you digested last episode’s Nebula Awards Donut Jamboree yet? I hope so, because following up on that lightning-round event, it’s time for the first of five one-on-one interviews over meals with writers recorded during this year’s Nebula Awards weekend in Pittsburgh—starting with nominee Kelly Robson, who 48 hours after we dined at Union Standard, became a winner!

Before winning this year’s Best Novelette Nebula for “A Human Stain,” she was also a finalist for the 2017 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Her novella “Waters of Versailles” won the 2016 Aurora Award and was also a finalist for the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. Her short story “The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill” was a finalist for the Theodore Sturgeon Award, and her short story “Two-Year Man” was a finalist for the Sunburst Award. Her most recent publication is the time travel adventure Gods, Monsters and the Lucky Peach.

I’d hoped to visit Union Standard shortly after they opened for one of last year’s batch of Nebula Awards weekend episodes, but sadly, it wasn’t to be, so I’m thrilled I was able to host Kelly there. As for the reason why I was so anxious to eat at that restaurant—Chef Derek Stevens has been called one of the foundational figures of Pittsburgh’s culinary boom. In fact, Pittsburgh magazine has written of him—”If you like dining out in Pittsburgh, you should thank Derek Stevens.” If nothing else, I’ve got to thank him for the Jamison Farm Lamb Sirloin with Anson Mills polenta and grilled asparagus—of which Kelly kindly allowed me a nibble.

We discussed how the first Connie Willis story she read changed her brain, the way a provocative photo got her a gig as a wine reviewer at a top national magazine, what she learned from the initial Taos Toolbox writers workshop, why completing Gods, Monsters and the Lucky Peach was like giving birth to a watermelon, how reading a Battlestar Galactica tie-in novel helped teach her how to write, where she would head if time travel were real, why she’s contemplating writing a “frivolous” trilogy (and what that really means), the reason the story of hers she most likes to reread is professionally published James Bond fanfic, and much, much more.

(6) MISSION RESUMED. Joe Stech announced Compelling Science Fiction Issue 11 is out.

It’s been a while, but we’re back with an incredible 7-story issue! I really appreciate your continued support after the switch to the new semiannual schedule. This issue starts with James Rowland’s “Top of Show”, a metastory about the art of creating stories (5948 words). Our second story is “Targeted Behavior” by J.D. Moyer. In it, someone wants the homeless to leave San Francisco. A young girl has other ideas. (4600 words). The third story this issue, Adam R. Shannon’s “Redaction,” is a story about medics who use technology to deal (or not deal) with their own traumatic experiences (4953 words). Next we have “Cold Draft” by John Derderian. This is a short one about how a radical politically motivated law surprises a teenage boy (2900 words). Our fifth story is “Dreams of the Rocket Man” by C. Stuart Hardwick. This is a beautiful reprinted story about a child learning rocketry from an enthusiastic mentor (7600 words). Story number six, “Driving Force” by Tom Jolly, is the shortest of the lot. In the future, AIs may not only be tasked with driving (1300 words). Our final story is “Don’t Play the Blues”, by Bruce Golden. A musician wrestles with experiences from his military days (6040 words).

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born June 1 – Actor Jonathan Pryce, 71, The Bureaucrat in The Adventures Of Baron Münchhausen and currently in The Game Of Thrones.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Zombie jambalaya? Chip Hitchcock lets Bizarro explain.

(9) LISTENING IN. Remember that Star Trek scene where Kirk says something odd, to which Spock replies, “I can’t believe my ears, Captain”? Mad Genius Club’s Jonathan LaForce has some things to say in “Verified!” [Internet Archive link] that I haven’t heard from that blog before.

This conflict over culture has consequences. It demands that we not give in to the base instinct of lying, dehumanizing, and othering those with whom we quarrel. Such is dishonorable. Such will not be tolerated. I don’t want you to my left or right, I don’t want you laying down suppressive fire from behind me as I charge forward, if I can’t trust you to do the right thing.

This means not lying about people like Irene Gallo, Moshe Feder, Scalzi, Glyer, or anybody else in this conflict. Such actions destroy our credibility and integrity.
This means that when a panelist says something rude about Tolkien, and SFWA is merely live-streaming the event, don’t claim SFWA said those things about Tolkien.
When Tor writer Elise Ringo says “This is what I crave from female villains: women who are extended the same complexity and depth- and, potentially, sympathy- as their male counterparts, and also women who are really truly bad… Dark Lords are all very well, but the world needs more Dark Ladies…” your reply should not include the words “Tor.com calls on writers not to write female villains.”

When a fellow author says they don’t want to be included in your drama on Twitter, then blocks you on rather preemptively, don’t go “declare war” on them. That’s not just rude, that’s unprofessional.

When Brandon Sanderson announces that he’s going to be making some very carefully thought-out decisions about his involvement with a con just because he’s trying to be careful about his professional relationships, and you scream “MUHVIRTUESIGNALING!” you’re not impressing anybody but your own echo chamber and stroking your ego.

Today’s LaForce column appeared the same day as Jon Del Arroz’ posted “Fear And Loathing In SLC: How A Social Justice Mob Got To Brandon Sanderson” [Internet Archive link]. That may not be a coincidence.

(10) BOND. ROBOT BOND. The BBC explains “How humans bond with robot colleagues”.

Fast-forward a few years and this story isn’t as unusual as you might think. In January 2017, workers at CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, threw a retirement party for five mail robots. Rasputin, Basher, Move It or Lose It, Maze Mobile and Mom had been pacing the company’s hallways for 25 years – delivering employee mail, making cute noises and regularly bumping into people.

There was cake. There were balloons. There was a nostalgic farewell video. There was even a leaving card with comments like “Thanks for making every day memorable” and “Beep! Beep! Beep!” The robots will likely spend their final years relaxing at one of the many museums that have requested them.

Though they’re often portrayed as calculating job-stealers, it seems that there’s another side to the rise of the robots. From adorably clumsy office androids to precocious factory robots, we can’t help bonding with the machinery we work with.

(11) DUNE. That’s cold: “Methane ice dunes found on Pluto by Nasa spacecraft”.

After an epic trek through the Solar System that took nearly a decade, New Horizons sped by at a speed of 58,536 km/h (36,373 mph), gathering data as it passed.

In their study, the researchers explain how they studied pictures of a plain known as Sputnik Planitia, parts of which are covered with what look like fields of dunes.

They are lying close to a range of mountains of water ice 5km high.

The scientists conclude that the dunes are 0.4-1km apart and that they are made up of particles of methane ice between 200-300 micrometers in diameter – roughly the size of grains of sand.

(12) AT THE BODLEIAN. “JRR Tolkien artwork on display for first time”. This probably won’t travel, but the article has a few samples, including one from 1915.

Personal effects – such as Tolkien’s briefcase, the colour pencils he used to create the artwork for Lord of the Rings and boxes of poster paints that he used for water colours in The Hobbit – have been lent to the Bodleian by his family.

Tolkien’s tobacco pipes are also included.

… There are previously unseen letters sent to Tolkien from famous fans such as poet WH Auden, novelists Iris Murdoch and Terry Pratchett and singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell.

“This is a very exciting part of the exhibition,” Ms McIlwaine said.

“These are letters that people haven’t seen before and haven’t been published and I think it’s going to be very surprising to visitors to see the range of people who loved Tolkien’s work, and loved it so much that they wrote to him.”

It’s mildly ironic that a Bodleian archivist would speak admiringly about someone’s smoking materials. Readers have to sign this well-known pledge before being allowed to use the Library:

“I hereby undertake not to remove from the Library, or to mark, deface, or injure in any way, any volume, document, or other object belonging to it or in its custody; not to bring into the Library or kindle therein any fire or flame, and not to smoke in the Library; and I promise to obey all rules of the Library.”

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Tergo” is a good short film, directed by Charles Willcocks, about a street cleaning robot who dreams of better things that he can’t have.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Scott Edelman, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, ULTRAGOTHA, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Stoic Cynic.]

85 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/1/18 One Post, At Least, Thy Tick Shall Stalk

  1. @RedWombat

    (Endlessly amused at all the talk in the comments of how Tor is gonna fail Real Soon Now as an article of faith. I seem to recall that VD was gonna own Tor in eighteen months a few years back…)

    My reaction to this is inevitably, “Uhm, do you have any idea how big Verlagsgruppe Holtzbrinck, who own Macmillan and therefore Tor, really is? The entire annual revenue of Tor is probably a rounding error to them.”

  2. RedWombat on June 2, 2018 at 10:03 am said:

    9) Good for LaForce, in this, at least. I admit now I’ve never heard of him, which is entirely on me and not a slam on his fame at all, so I have no idea if this is typical behavior or if there is some context that I am ignorant of. But in isolation—good for him.

    He posted a very strong pro-Tor Boycott post at MGC back in 2015, so this is a definite evolution of position.

  3. @Bruce A: bang on, in all cases.

    Meanwhile, Tor’s entire input and output isn’t even coffee money to Macmillian, and it’s a rounding error to whatever European company owns them. Holtzbrinck, says Wiki. I suspect a publishing company based in Stuttgart isn’t much going to care about what right-wingers in the US are erroneously mad about regarding one of their tiniest bits. They definitely aren’t going to care about the very few who are actually Neo-Nazis. The Germans) are still pretty touchy about that, for some reason…

    Wiki sez authors published by Tor/Forge include OSC and Gene Wolfe, both right wing although Wolfe doesn’t rant in public about it. Robert Jordan didn’t strike me as a raving leftie, what with going to the Citadel and serving in the Navy and being an observant Christian. Brandon Sanderson is a nice Mormon boy who teaches at BYU, and they wouldn’t allow that if he didn’t stick to their rules, which are non-SJW.
    (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_Educational_System_Honor_Code)

  4. Lurkertype says Meanwhile, Tor’s entire input and output isn’t even coffee money to Macmillian, and it’s a rounding error to whatever European company owns them.

    It took some digging but I found how much Tor had in revenues, not profits, last year: three point three million accordingly a FAQ they’ve got up. Holtzbrinck had revenues last year according to several sources of at least three point six billion, possibly over four billion depending on how they’re measured. So Tor’s not even a rounding error really.

  5. @Bruce A:

    In particular, I think that when the Tor editors tarred the leaders of the puppy cabals with a wide brush of racism, fascism, and probably a couple other -isms

    Can you provide links? VD got taken apart (many years before getting into it with SFWA) in ML for what he said there; other Puppy sympathizers have IME (~18 years on ML) been taken apart in specific detail, not “tarred … with a wide brush”.

  6. Ha, didn’t see Cora’s post.

    @Cat: So to them, Tor is like the “take a penny, leave a penny” coin dish. Useful, and brings in only a little bit of cash, but you’re not losing money, and you’re not going to throw it away b/c someone in another country goes “argle bargle I hate my own made-up concept of pennies, so I’m never using pennies and pennies are going to fail”. Meanwhile, you’re going “But it’s legal tender and Abe Lincoln was a great president!” and that’s only on the off chance you even hear about the argle bargling. And the fact that the foreigner still enthusiastically uses pennies occasionally for… reasons.

    That there was a metaphor brought to you by sitting around in no A/C, and a yowling credential WHO JUST ALREADY GOT FED, DAMMIT.

  7. @Chip: AFAIK, they took it poorly when Teddy got called all of those things (which, let’s face it, he is) and then pretended that everyone at Tor and everyone who wasn’t a Puppy said those things about ALL of them. Which… seems counterproductive, when you yourself admit Teddy’s the closest to Satan you could recruit? Wouldn’t it be better to say “Nope, that’s not me!”

    Teddy’s only pissed b/c he got his ass handed to him quite spectacularly on “Making Light” a number of years before the kerpupple, so he had to swear Eternal Vengeance upon the Nielsen Haydens and Scalzi.

    Brad’s pissed b/c Larry and Teddy told him to be, and he used to get his ass handed to him *regularly* at Whatever — but not by John b/c everyone *else* tore his feeble arguments apart just on illogic and [citation needed] and simple errors of fact. Then he’d double down with the irrationality, say it LOUDER and ruder, flounce off, fail to stick the landing and flounce back, lather rinse repeat. Everyone tried to tell him about the First Rule of Holes, but nope. Scalzi gently suggested that he might be happier elsewhere and it would be a better use of his time, repeatedly. Eventually he stuck the flounce and became Teddy and Larry’s useful idiot.

    Larry was pissed b/c he was only a finalist for a prestigious award instead of a winner, and he saw how he could spin this into press and money for him and his pals, while also attacking liberals, who were the same group who nominated him.

    @Kendall: Thanks?

  8. Tor might have the an advantage in that Holtzbrinck is a private company that can afford to take a longer view, and it’s possible that they have a personal champion. I doubt it considering how hard it was for them to get permission to do ebooks with no DRM in the first place, since their first attempt with Webscriptions got shot down by someone at Holtzbrinck. I’m sure that if they were consistently losing money, say 5-10% or more, they’d be told to either cut costs or face getting shut down.

  9. It took some digging but I found how much Tor had in revenues, not profits, last year: three point three million accordingly a FAQ they’ve got up.

    Are you sure?

    I found a web page claiming $3.3 million in revenue, but it’s for The Tor Project, an online-privacy software organization, not Tor Books.

    Tor’s making multi-million dollar deals with authors; it would be very hard to do that on revenues of 3.3 million.

    I’m sure Tor’s revenues are a small part of Holtzbrinck’s overall revenues, but less in a “we don’t notice it” manner and more in a “brooks feed the streams feed the rivers feed the lakes” manner. Holtzbrinck owns a lot of brooks and streams, and they like their lakes fed and deep.

  10. Chip: I don’t have links, but LaForce mentions Irene Gallo’s apology for calling someone or some group Nazis. Without attempting to find her original comment, I’m guessing that her wording didn’t specifically call out LaForce as being a Nazi although he certainly took it that way. Likewise, Moshe Feder apologized for calling someone or some group names at roughly the same time. I’m sure it was discussed here on file770, but I don’t care to dredge any of it back up. I don’t read ML, and I don’t remember whether their comments were at ML or elsewhere. Maybe I’m misremembering, and their name-calling was specific enough to include LaForce, but if not, puppy supporters considered it broadly brushed enough to believe the target of the name-calling included the rank and file who believed that the Hugo voters are too liberal and are deliberately not considering their favorite authors because of political considerations.

  11. 6) I see that Compelling Science Fiction is as entranced by the stunning artwork of Tithi Luadthong as I am.

  12. Are you sure?

    I found a web page claiming $3.3 million in revenue, but it’s for The Tor Project, an online-privacy software organization, not Tor Books.

    Tor’s making multi-million dollar deals with authors; it would be very hard to do that on revenues of 3.3 million.

    I’m sure Tor’s revenues are a small part of Holtzbrinck’s overall revenues, but less in a “we don’t notice it” manner and more in a “brooks feed the streams feed the rivers feed the lakes” manner. Holtzbrinck owns a lot of brooks and streams, and they like their lakes fed and deep.

    I agree about 3.3 million being far to low to be credible. They had something like forty percent of the science fiction and fantasy markets this past year (That would be among traditional publishers I’m sure). There’s no way that adds up to only 3.3 million in revenue

  13. The comments for which Irene Gallo apologized were made on her personal Facebook page. I won’t bother digging up her exact words, but honestly I don’t think she painted with a broad brush; in fact she was quite vague. It was the Puppies themselves who stuck a brush in her hand and painted with it.

    Is Tor in fact publishing Wright? I would be quite surprised if that weren’t past tense.

    I would also be quite surprised if Tor Books put anything at all about their revenue in a public place on the web.

    In terms of Tor going down – of course it must be. The Puppies and their travelers are boycotting them. And are not the Puppies numerous and powerful?

  14. according to one source I found, “unit sales” for SF in 2017 were 5.15 million. If we assume they were all paperbacks coming in at 7.99, and TOR took 40 percent of that, they earned over 16 million in revenue.

    it’s by no means definitive or rigorous, but it certainly suggests that t he 3.3 million quote is not accurate.

  15. @Bruce A
    “LaForce mentions Irene Gallo’s apology for calling someone or some group Nazis.”
    IIRC, Gallo was asked on her personal Facebook page, who the puppies were and briefly described the Sads and Rabids as bigots and neo-Nazis, respectively. The Sads acted as if they did not know what “respectively” means, a sad failure in a group of writers. Gallo apologized. The canines have since morphed this story into the public attitude of Tor as a company, and all its senior staff. It never was.

  16. Msb: For those new to the topic, LaForce’s own article advocating a Tor boycott, Dear Tor, appeared at Mad Genius Club on June 7, 2015. It says in part —

    You see folks, in the last four years, Tor has shown increasingly that it doesn’t care for anything besides narrative. It doesn’t care for anything besides lying. Labeling fellow authors and close friends of mine “misogynistic homophobic neo-Nazis” simply because we prefer telling a good story to pushing political beliefs is wrong. Allowing your editorial staff to intentionally lie about such people, repeatedly misrepresent us, and trying to silence us, all the while calling us bullies? You must be stupid!

    Where does this come from? A woman named Irene Gallo, whom advertises herself as the Creative Editor at Tor. She posted on facebook, quite publicly that all Puppies are “Extreme right-wing to Neo-Nazi groups, called the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies… they are unrepentantly racist, misogynist and homophobic. A noisy few but they’ve been able to gather some Gamergate folks around them and elect a slate of bad-to-reprehensible works on this year’s Hugo Ballot.”

    (A screencap of the original Gallo quote is here.)

  17. So unless Jonathan LaForce considered himself a rabid puppy, he is misquoting Irene Gallo, and not accepting her apology because he thinks it’s insincere. At least he’s not deliberately making things up about her…

  18. @steve davidson: your SWAG is off in two directions: low because Tor does a lot of stuff in hardcover and trade that never makes it to mass-market, and high because Tor itself sees somewhere in the neighborhood of half the cover price of a typical book. My wild guess would be that the first weighs a little more than the second (since hardbacks are ~3x the cost of mmpb’s) — but that just reinforces your argument that $3.3e6 is way under.

  19. according to one source I found, “unit sales” for SF in 2017 were 5.15 million. If we assume they were all paperbacks coming in at 7.99, and TOR took 40 percent of that, they earned over 16 million in revenue.

    it’s by no means definitive or rigorous, but it certainly suggests that t he 3.3 million quote is not accurate.

    But of course they weren’t all papberbacks. Tor publishes a large number of books in hardcover.

  20. @RedWombat

    9) Good for LaForce, in this, at least. I admit now I’ve never heard of him, which is entirely on me and not a slam on his fame at all, so I have no idea if this is typical behavior or if there is some context that I am ignorant of. But in isolation—good for him.

    He’s written one book thus far.

    Also, he’s a fellow jarhead. We say odd things sometimes.

    In any case, he went in my TBR list straight away.

    @Cat Eldridge

    Mind you it seems that most of us who read genre fiction are left of center so that makes sense…

    Are you sure about that? There are an awful lot of apolitical folks that just read for enjoyment regardless of political preferences.

    ————

    Since it seems a re-hashing is in the works, the problem is in putting the SP in that paragraph at all. IMHO, a large contingent of SP authors might be fairly described as right of center or conservative. That isn’t the same thing as “extreme right-wing” and the worse labels that follow. Unless of course one considers anyone to the right of Jim Webb to be “extreme right-wing”, but at that point we’ve redefined anything that is wet as water.

    ————

    Too many broken pixels have fallen in the scroll

    Regards,
    Dann
    No way, I took call waiting of!@#$!(!@ ) #$! NO CARRIER

  21. @Dann – fair point. Another issue is who is included by the term “Sad Puppies” – only the specific leaders (Brad & Larry by 2015)? the group calling themselves the Evil Leauge of Evil? All thos plus the rest of Mad Genius? All the willing nominees? All the nominees whether willing or not? Vocal supporters? Quiet supporters? The term has been used in multiple ways – sometimes made clear by context and sometimes not.

    I think there’s a narrow set where ‘extreme rightwing’ is defensible but not how the individuals would self identify. If the term is meant to include the broad set of supporters of SP in mid 2015 then you are right – it was broader politically.

  22. @Camestros: My definition is pretty cut-and-dried. If you think Breitbart is a news service, you’re extreme right-wing.

  23. @ Dann: That doesn’t really refute what Cat said. It’s quite possible to be left of center politically but enjoy reading good stories without reference to political positions (of the story, or of the author).

  24. @Lee

    I agree that one can be of any political preference and enjoy reading good stories regardless of political content. I’m having a hard time buying that 50%+1 (i.e. most) SFF readers are politically left.

    Regards,
    Dann
    Me on Goodreads.

  25. @Camestros Felapton

    Another issue is who is included by the term “Sad Puppies” – only the specific leaders (Brad & Larry by 2015)? the group calling themselves the Evil Leauge of Evil? All thos plus the rest of Mad Genius? All the willing nominees? All the nominees whether willing or not? Vocal supporters? Quiet supporters?

    This is one of the issues that muddied the waters extensively during the Kerpupple. When I read Gallo’s comment about the Sad Puppies at the time (ignoring the part about the Rabid Puppies), I was thinking of Correia, Torgersen, Antonelli, Marmot, Paulk, Hoyt, Wright, etc. – the loudest voices within the movement at that time, many of them also the leaders of it. Most, if not all, of them are obviously far right (though they mostly don’t self-identify as such). But I suspect there are many people who sympathized with the SP cause, frequently because they wanted more of their favorite subgenre(s) of SFF to win Hugos and came into the kerpupple without understanding the history of the WSFS, the extreme anti-slate stance its membership has historically taken, how the awards work, etc.. Many of those people took the slings and arrows aimed at the leaders and loudmouths of the puppies personally.

  26. kathodus: This is one of the issues that muddied the waters extensively during the Kerpupple. When I read Gallo’s comment about the Sad Puppies at the time…

    Part of the background that should not be forgotten is that when Gallo made her comment in May 2015, the Worldcon was reporting rapidly-mounting membership figures (9000 overall, with almost 5000 supporting) and there was no way of telling where they were coming from. Sads? Rabids? (Gamergaters joining in the mischief?) And the Puppies were running the bluff that these were their partisans. Only months later at the Worldcon did the Hugo results show most of them were people who had joined to vote down the slate.

  27. Dann: IMHO, a large contingent of SP authors might be fairly described as right of center or conservative. That isn’t the same thing as “extreme right-wing” and the worse labels that follow.

    Would you be able to provide a partial list of such Sad Puppy authors? Because pretty much all of the Sad Puppy authors who blog or comment at MGC are extreme right-wing, and I can only imagine that such authors as you mention must be pretty upset about being (mis)represented by the more vocal, antagonistic MGC Sad Puppies.

  28. Well, the puppies, both sad and rabid, think that John Scalzi, who strikes me as a moderate centrist and who would fit right into the left wing of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Party, is a far left author, so that automatically puts them on the far right. Moderate conservatives would be writers like Brandon Sanderson.

  29. @Dann: “I’m having a hard time buying that 50%+1 (i.e. most) SFF readers are politically left.”

    As a genre, SF exists to look to the future and ask “what if things were different?” That’s much closer to “make things better than they have been” liberalism than to “make things like they used to be” conservatism. It so happens that I generally agree with your statement as quoted, but because I think your figure is too low.

  30. Dann on June 3, 2018 at 7:15 pm said:

    I agree that one can be of any political preference and enjoy reading good stories regardless of political content. I’m having a hard time buying that 50%+1 (i.e. most) SFF readers are politically left.

    It’s certainly true that most SFF writers are on the left… at least by the standards of Puppydom. Look how much trouble they had filling their slates.

    I can’t comment on US fandom but as far as the UK is concerned I would be willing to bet good money that most readers vote Labour or SNP, and by a wide margin.

    I vote Conservative in the UK and the folks at MGC think that I’m a Stalinist, so that puts them quite far to the right by my standards.

  31. 3) I don’t remember exactly who it was who taught me this (it may have been Eric McCormack–the novelist, not the actor), but I had heard that all plots can be broken down, really, to one plot: The Quest. Every human action is driven by some kind of desire (I’ve written about this in the past, and desire can be extraordinarily simple… even fear is desire, to a degree, a desire for avoidance, basically), and action undertaken based on desire is… a quest.

    There is an apocryphal story about Nabokov teaching a class in which he diagrammed basic plots on a blackboard. He drew several of them, overlapping, and when he was done… he had a drawing of a cat. He thought the idea that diagramming plot could in some way teach you about what was good or interesting in fiction was a bit ridiculous, and honestly so do I.

    4) An un-Doctorow Doctorow novel might be the only way to get me to read another one, short of paying me…

    9) There is a point in there somewhere worth remembering, but it is buried in a lot of disingenuous “we’re supposed to be the guys who know what truth and honour are” (dare I say it?) virtue signalling.

    @Dann et al., re: political leanings of readers/writers more generally — I suppose it depends on where you live? As a Canadian I find Scalzi to be a moderate conservative, or perhaps more recently he’s become a slightly right-leaning centrist. Socially liberal, but quite conservative in a host of other ways; until fairly recently a not-uncommon stance here among conservatives (it’s a common saying among politically-minded Canadians that the American Democrats are roughly equivalent to our Conservative party, but less liberal). By that metric most of SFF may seem a bit conservative to someone like me–and it very often does, though I will say that I see it getting less so as time goes on. “Riding in the rocketship but facing backwards” is a paraphrase of how I’ve seen SFF’s core politics described (referring to both fandom and professionals).

    That being said, there is no human endeavour free of politics, no such thing as “just a good story” independent of it. Culture isn’t a “thing” with immutable rules you can point to, it’s an ongoing negotiation between people about how to live in the world, sometimes codified, often not, always being negotiated and renegotiated, and “politics” as we usually use the word is just a statement about what we believe the ideal way to manage that negotiation should look like. Politics, in its broadest (and truest) sense is just people interacting with each other, and negotiating those interactions based on their beliefs about how the world should be. I can’t imagine a story that is in any way free from that. I certainly can’t image any such story being good.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.