Flow My Tears, the Sad Puppy Said 4/26

aka The Puppy That Cried Love at the Heart of the World

Today’s roundup spans everything from legitimate beef to The Walking Dead, with visits along the way to James Worrad, Bob Mayer, Martin Wisse, Earl Newton, Brad Torgersen, T. L. Knighton and T.C. McCarthy. (Title credits go to File 770 consulting editors of the day Vivien and NelC.)

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Todd VanDer Werff on Vox

“How conservatives took over sci-fi’s most prestigious award” – April 26

Do the Sad Puppies have a legitimate beef with the Hugos?

Not really.

In recent years, the Hugos have definitely taken a turn away from traditional pulp sci-fi toward more literary works. But science fiction has always had pulp and literary writers, and the latter crowd has traditionally been more successful at awards ceremonies — just as it has with the Pulitzers or National Book Awards, where Phillip Roth is more likely to win than Stephen King.

The Puppies’ claim here also ignores that the science-fiction community has traditionally backed all sorts of authors, of all sorts of political stripes.

“Robust conservative voices have always been part of the SF&F conversation.”

“What’s actually notable about the SF subculture is its heterodoxy, expressed by things like the Libertarian Futurist Society sometimes giving their Prometheus Award to the Scottish socialist SF writer Ken MacLeod, or MacLeod himself talking about the importance to him of right/libertarian writers like Robert Heinlein and Poul Anderson. Robust conservative voices have always been part of the SF&F conversation,” [Patrick] Nielsen Hayden told me.

The Puppies also insist there’s an unstated secret cabal running things behind the scenes of the Hugos, and that the only way to fight it is to push back against it.

Said Torgersen again: “Sad Puppies was necessary because everywhere I went in the field (as a young professional) I heard the same gripes: that the same predictable names always popped up in the same categories, that other names were always left out in the cold, or in the Hugo awards blind spots, and that the way to win a Hugo was not to write a fantastic story or book, it was to buddy up with and schmooze the right people.”

 

James Worrad

“Kicking Against The Pricks: Thoughts On That Vox Day Troll Fiasco” – April 26

I’d like to tell you it was a tough, valiant battle but it was more a pull-the-trigger-with-left-hand-smoke-with-the-right Somme-type affair.

The first wave had no comprehension of irony or satire and were thus tragically cut down in their knicker-sniffing prime. Second wave realized  they should at least pretend to understand irony and satire and still got cut down. The third wave was more of a trickle by then, one that had no option but to criticize my weight and writing ability. This, readers take note, is the troll equivalent of boys and old men being sent out into the breach with rifles made in 1892. The last push. Not pretty.

 

Bob Mayer on Write On The River

“The Hugo Awards: Who Gives A Shit? Author Bullshit” – April 26

I’m a whore. I cash my check.

This highlights the bullshit of authors.

If the system works their way—GREAT!

But when it doesn’t it’s censorship?

Take indie bookstores. Love them. Was in one yesterday and it inspired me. But over half the indie bookstores I’ve been in over the years blew me off trying to place my books there, even when traditionally published and a NY Times bestseller. Didn’t even bother to ask the guy behind the counter yesterday. Just bought some books. But, by God, one of them starts going out of business, the hue and cry arises. Ever hear that for an author going out of business?

99% or more of readers don’t care. They read. I did buy a book with the badge of Hugo Award Winner once on the cover based on it—Hyperion by Dan Simmons. Great fucking book and series. Total dickhead as an author in person and in email. But who cares?

He wrote some great shit. Harlan Ellison supported him so he won a Hugo. Yeah. Still a dickhead. But who cares? You read his book, not marry him.

 

Martin Wisse on Wis[s]e Words

“Will 2015 see the end of the Hugo Voters Packet?” – April 26

This year we’re in a perfect storm. For the average non-Puppy voter, the Voter Packet is a lot less attractive with all that Puppy Poo on it, while publishers might be wary to put their books on it due to the rocketing number of supporting memberships bought since the shortlist announcement. Sasquan is on track to become one of the largest, perhaps the largest Worldcon ever and what’s more, most of the memberships are supporting, not attending.

So if voters are less eager for the Packet anyway and publishers less willing to include their books now the membership is getting bigger and bigger, does this mean 2015 will make the Packet obsolete?

 

Earl Newton

“The Victimhood of Bullies, or: The 2015 Hugo Awards” – April 26

You know what political correctness actually is?

It’s treating strangers like your friends.  One of the biggest predictors of whether someone will accept gay people as equal in society?  “Do they have a personal relationship with someone who is gay.”

You might tease your best friend, but you don’t tease them in front of others. You don’t tease them behind their back (or maybe you do.  Stop doing that.)

You don’t make them into an outcast.  You respect their feelings.

“Feelings?!” comes the Sad Puppies / GamerGate / Men’s Rights Activist reply, swaddling itself in self-pity and righteous outrage.  “What about our feelings?”

I care about your feelings, too.  And I want to take your feelings seriously.

But you’re like a bully who, after shaking down a seven year old for their lunch money and pride, complains about the harshness of the reprimand.

If your only persecution is that no one will let you persecute others anymore, then I can’t help you.

 

T. L. Knighton

“Fisking Cat Valente” – April 26

And really, how in the hell do you know that that was what bumped the Heinlein biography off the ballot?  You are talking about volume two of the biography that Tor has put almost no push behind, that has been largely absent from many book stores, and that a number of people didn’t even know was out?  That biography?

Cat, we can’t nominate what we haven’t read and we can’t nominate what we don’t know is even out.  Take that up with your buddies at Making Light, because the biography was published then not pushed by Tor.

 

Brad R. Torgersen in a comment to T. L. Knighton – April 26

Again, some of the chief plaintiffs (against SP3) have been the most obvious beneficiaries of the status quo. Cat tends to be a bit of a “queen bee” within the field, and has a lot of sycophantic admirers. She’s just mad that somebody is disrupting things, and falling back on the tired narrative of, “Everyone who upsets me is a [insert bogeyman words here] so I win!”

 

T.C. McCarthy

“Anti #SadPuppies/#GamerGate – Brianna Wu – has ‘Ralph Retort’ Reporter Ejected from Panel Discussion” – April 26

The SadPuppies did not hijack the Hugo Awards. They played by the rules and won a popular vote that resulted in many within the SFF community complaining (falsely) about how there had been ballot stuffing, etc. This is all disingenuous. It’s a bit silly to complain and write hit pieces that accuse Brad Torgersen and Larry Correia of being racist just because one lost a popular vote. Brianna Wu is one of the latest to make these false (maybe erroneous is less inflammatory?) claims; this is my assessment.

 

Barth Anderson on Con Gusto

“Sad Puppies, The Walking Dead, and Hunting for Conservative Science Fiction” – April 14

Saddest Puppy Brad Torgersen has said there was no political litmus test at play in selecting certain works for their proposed slate, and I tend to believe him. The works on their slate are mainly fifty shades of military science fiction. Tellingly, to me, the most exemplary conservative piece of science fiction in the last ten years didn’t make the Sad Puppies’ ballot for Best Dramatic Presentation: The Walking Dead. This isn’t a work that merely plays with the trappings and furnishings of conservative thought, as military sf does, saying “yay guns” and stopping there. The Walking Dead is conservative from individual scenes to the widest angle of its worldview and philosophy.

The big conservative idea behind The Walking Dead’s apocalyptic world is a pure, condensed Thomas Hobbesian scenario. Society and government have collapsed from a zombie apocalypse, but even if you aren’t killed by a zombie, your corpse will re-animate as one. Indeed, the situation is so bleak and horrible that there is no presumption of seeking a cause or cure for the outbreak in this story. We don’t even know if it’s really an “outbreak” at all. The Walking Dead narrative is reduced to the horrible choices facing the characters, who come to realize that other humans are even worse foes than the zombies could ever be.

And this is really the launching pad from which many conservative arguments spring in The Walking Dead. Each season takes on different “enemy attitudes” that the tribe of right-thinking characters (ha ha) must face, analyze, and ultimately overcome. These “enemy attitudes” (my term) take the form of long-term presumptions about what society is, but which are now delusional (liberal?) beliefs that stand in the way of people being what they really need to be in this hyper-Hobbesian horror. Such as:

  • believing that the walking dead (zombies) still bear some humanity and must be treated humanely;
  • forgiveness and reconciliation are crucial to surviving;
  • motherhood and children are essential to society;
  • arming and feeding ourselves are cornerstones of society

 

 

If You Were a Puppy, My Love 4/23

aka “Catch A Barking Star, Tell Me Where the Hugos Are” 

A combination of new voices speaking out and old hands breaking silence feature in today’s roundup. Cheryl Morgan, T. L. Knighton, Arthur Chenin, T. C. McCarthy, David Gerrold, Melinda Snodgrass, Vox Day and Chris Meadows are among those who chimed in. (And title credits go to File 770 consulting editors of the day, ULTRAGOTHA and Laura Resnick.)

Cheryl Morgan on Cheryl’s Mewsings

“Puppygate – Winners and Losers” – April 23

Has fandom lost? Well obviously if VD and his pals win a bunch of Hugos then we will have done this year. But the final ballot hasn’t happened yet. I understand that Sasquan took an additional 1350 supporting memberships in the two days after the Hugo finalists were announced. I suspect that more memberships are still being bought. Sasquan is on course to be the first Worldcon ever to have more supporting memberships than attending, and probably the third largest Worldcon ever. Some people, I know, are convinced that all of those new members are VD loyalists who will vote as he directs. Personally I’m not so sure.

It’s not just those 1350 or so new members (presumably all voters) that we need to think about either. Given the way that nominating eligibility works (members of last year, this year and next year’s Worldcon), there must have been at least 12,000 people eligible to nominate. Only 2,122 people actually did so. And in the Puppy-dominated short fiction categories the largest number of nominating ballots was 1,174.

What would have happened if all 12,000 eligible WSFS members had cast nominating ballots? Well in Novel, where there were 1,827 ballots cast, three non-Puppy works became finalists.

It is certainly true that a small number of people voting for a slate has far more influence on the nominating ballot than a larger number of people voting independently. But there is a limit. With enough people voting, even a slate becomes less effective.

So my first point is this: VD didn’t win the Hugos, we (collectively) gave them to him by failing to use our votes. Obviously there are good reasons why people don’t participate even though they have the right to do so, but if we want to fix the Puppy problem one of our main priorities ought to be to increase the level of participation in Hugo voting. I do, as you might expect, have ideas about how to do that, which I’ll address in a later post. For now, however, fannish outrage at Puppygate is doing a fine job of encouraging people to vote.

My second point, of course, is that if enough of us vote in the final ballot then he won’t win that either.

 

Kevin Standlee on Fandom Is My Way of Life

“Behold, the Gavel of WSFS” – April 23

LoneStarCon 3 agreed when I asked to fund the purchase of a new one, and a few days ago I finally got around to ordering it

Gavel of WSFS ph K Standlee

 

T. L. Knighton

“Anti-Hugo Shenanigans” – April 23

Many of the Sad Puppies crowd is well aware that things are getting ugly.  The CHORFs, as we well know, seek to do nothing but destroy their enemies with whatever tools they can manage.  One of those tools are negative reviews on Amazon.

But, the question is, how on Earth can you tell someone didn’t read the works versus just didn’t like them?  Well, let me paint you a picture.

 

Arthur Chenin on In Which I Geek

“Don’t be a sad puppy about the Sad Puppies” – April 23

Where Chris [Garcia, on Nedvana Podcast] and I disagree is in how much damage has been done.  He thinks the Hugos are irreparably damaged whereas I think they just got an embarrassing black eye.  He thinks that the Hugo administrators failed in not disallowing the Sad/Rabid Puppy slate nomination ballots.  I agree with Kevin [Standlee] that the Hugos have rules for a reason and that we need to work within those rules or else we truly are the controlling clique the Puppies claim we are.

So how do I see things playing out?

Two things are going to happen this year at Sasquan.  First, there is going to be the World Science Fiction Society business meeting chaired by Kevin Standlee that will address the issue of changing the rules to prevent slating from occurring.  I don’t know what those exact changes are going to be but like Kevin  I hope they go for something simple like instituting a 3/6 or 4/8 rule [1].  The other is that we will know who, if anybody, won any awards.  Vox Day actually did something miraculous by inflicting his slate on the short list, he managed to unite fandom a task akin to herding cats.  I fully expect No Award to win most, if not all, the slated categories.

“But wait,” I hear you cry, “Didn’t Vox Day threaten to burn down the Hugos if No Award wins any of the writing or editing categories?”  Yes, he did and I fully expect him to try.

 

Max Florschutz on Unusual Things

“Speaking on Hugos and Sad Puppies” – April 23

Goats and sheep are not latrine animals. They go wherever. And they don’t care after that. So their pens? They pooped everywhere.

I apologize for those of you who might be off-put by the discussion of so much poop. It isn’t going to get rosier from here, though.

Anyway, these little guys could poop like nobodies business. And they would fill the bottoms of their pens with it. And I’m not exaggerating there. The bottoms of their pens were packed down straw, dirt, and poop. Hard as rock, slightly smelly … and oh, after a few months, a foot or so thick. That’s right, you could walk up to the side of these pens and look at the side railings. A foot thick or more of compact manure. It didn’t bother them. It was dry and mixed with straw leftovers. And they were only in their pens a few hours a day anyway. But it had to be shoveled (well, forked with a pitchfork, since it didn’t cut easily under a shovel blade) every few months because it would get high enough that eventually they would be able to jump out of their pens.

And guess who had to do that? Yup. Me. I was a manure shoveler from the moment my parents decided I was old enough to shovel. Sometimes it went to straight to the garden. Other times it went to one giant compost pile or another. I’m talking emptying piles of poop ten by ten by two feet … and doing six of them. That’s a lot of poop….

So, what’s the point of me telling you this? Pretty simple: I’ve shoveled my fair share of crap. I’ve experienced it on a daily basis. I’ve shoveled, and shoveled and shoveled. And you know what I’ve learned about it?

There are times when it’s worth it to shovel crap, and there are times when it isn’t. And dealing with the endless, recycled crap that the anti-sad puppies crowd continues to spout? Not worth my time.

Look, I’ll admit that no one is flawless. And the Sad Puppies clearly swept the Hugos, much to their surprise. As a result, SP4 will probably be even more interesting to follow. But when it comes down to looking at one side or the other, I’m on the side of the Sad Puppies here, because I know crap, and there’s so much of it coming from the anti-sad puppies side it’s not just filling the pen, it’s burying the occupants, the producers, and their allies.

 

David Gerrold on Facebook – April 23

Tananarive Due and I have now gone through two meetings and three drafts of the proposed Hugo Award Ceremony script.

Every draft has been passed before the Hugo Award administrators, the senior officers of the Con Committee, and several others whose advice is needed. Notes have been passed back and forth. Adjustments and tweaks have been made.

But here’s the important part. Here’s the part I want to stress: From the very beginning, the commitment has been to recognize that the Hugo Award Ceremony is the highlight of the fannish calendar. It is a celebration of the genre, it is a celebration of the community, it is most of all a celebration of the nominees. The evening is for them — it is to honor them as standard bearers for excellence in the field.

 

David Gerrold on Facebook – April 23

Okay, @Karl J. Martin. Here’s the challenge. If you can raise $25,000 to be split between the SFWA Emergency Medical Fund and The Orangutan Foundation, I will host the Hugos in a large purple dress. With shoes to match.

Go for it.

 

T. C. McCarthy

“How I Spent Easter: Tweeting #HugoGate #GamerGate #Sadpuppies #Hugoawards” – April 6

The 2015 announcement of the Hugo nominees was met with so much asshattery that I broke my 4 years of silence on the issue, and tweeted/posted all my thoughts regarding the left side – the establishment side – of the SFF community. I documented the entire weekend on video so you could see the rage in my eyes, the anger in my face, and what I look like when I don’t shower. Click above on my facebook and twitter links to read about all the drama…

(Don’t be expecting another ShayCarl here is all I have to say.)

 

Melinda Snodgrass

“Puppies! – My Two Cents” – April 23

Science fiction is now a world wide source of entertainment from our movies to our TV shows.  Shouldn’t our prose also try to reflect this wonderful kaleidoscope of human diversity?  In fact prose is probably the best place to present this fascinating dance of differing outlooks and beliefs, to speak to and hear from people who aren’t just like us.

I think it deepens and enriches our genre when we have women, and people of color and the LGBT community, and different religions or no religions discussed and explored.

Over the years I’ve had people ask “what do you do?” and when I tell them I’m a writer their initial reaction is “oh cool”.  Then they ask what I write and when I say science fiction the reaction becomes “Oh, that’s kid stuff.  I don’t read science fiction.”  By broadening our field to include this rich symphony of different voices I think science fiction has graduated from being that “Buck Rogers, kid stuff” into a genre which is perfectly positioned to discuss big issues and the deepest human motivations in really interesting ways.

This isn’t to say there isn’t a place for some good old fashioned buckle and swash, but that shouldn’t be the entirety of our field.  Let’s not eat just vanilla ice cream or sing one kind of song.  Let’s explore all of the wonder that the minds of humans can imagine.  I see no evidence that the buckle and swash is being forced out in favor of a more diverse fiction.  The pie is getting bigger not smaller.  More books are being published.  More voices are being heard.  Today readers have an expansive feast to be enjoyed.

What I’m trying to say is none of us should be afraid.  It’s a small blue dot and because of advances in technology we have the ability to hug each other close and face the void united in our humanity and celebrating our differences.

 

Laura Resnick in a comment to Melinda Snodgrass – April 23

Actually, I have decided I am totally on board with 100% RELIABLE & COMPREHENSIVE PACKAGING as a standard for book covers. I think this is a great idea!

Yes! I advocate packaging of books to warn me that the female characters in a novel are all coat-holding carboard cutouts and the male characters address them as “cupcake” and “baby doll” and “cutie.” Packaging that would warn me that the writing is so convoluted and pretentious, or so clumsy and tepid, one can only wonder at what the English language ever did to make the author hate it so much. Packaging that would alert me that the characters are all stereotypically tedious action heroes who shoot everything in sight and make “clever” puns after killing someone. Packaging could warn me that every black character in the book is a servant, every Hispanic person a criminal, every woman a sex object, and every atheist an Evil Marxist Villain.

This would be a GREAT system, and I fully support it!

 

 Vox Day on Vox Populi

“A Thing to Remember” – April 23

In any event, I stand with the Dread Ilk. I stand with the Rabid Puppies. I stand with the Evil Legion of Evil. And I stand with #GamerGate. We don’t reject anyone out of hand for simply existing or disagreeing with us. We don’t demand that people think exactly the way we do, we don’t expect them to march in lockstep with us, nor do we police their thoughts, speech, beliefs, or works. And we don’t need anyone. If you don’t like where things are going or how they are being done, you’re free to leave at anytime.

I supported the Sad Puppies goals, even though I believed that their failure to grasp the true nature of science fiction’s SJWs meant their well-intentioned attempts to reach out to the science fiction left and find common ground were likely to meet with eventual failure. But I have been wrong before, and so I saw no harm in the attempt. I did not use them. I did not need them. I

won’t abandon the Sad Puppies. I will support Sad Puppies 4 and Kate the Impaler. I won’t disavow them when I disagree with them in the future, just as I did not when I disagreed with them in the past.

Evil-Legion-of-Evil_Vile-Faceless-Minion_512x512 from Vox Popoli

Chris Meadows on Teleread

“Why the Hugos are broken, and who’s breaking them now”  – April 23

The Internet Breaks the Hugos

Whether you’re for the Puppies or against them, there can’t be any argument that the Hugo nomination and voting process is badly broken. The interesting thing is that the process hasn’t changed appreciably for years or even decades. It didn’t just break on its own. No, the same thing happened to it that happened to so many other processes and industries that had long been taken for granted. The Internet happened…..

So, here we have the Hugo Awards, adapting their voting process to the Internet by making it possible for associate members to enter ballots by web instead of just mailing them in as before, without taking into account that the Internet makes it possible to organize concerted campaigns by letting people post communications to everyone else on the Internet. Something like this was inevitable. Perhaps the only thing to be surprised about is that it didn’t happen sooner. (And, given that this is the third year in a row there has been Puppy activity, and it takes two years to implement Hugo rule changes, perhaps the Worldcon folks should have started considering this problem a little earlier, before it became the full-blown crisis that it is this year.)

And this could be only the beginning. When I was chatting with SF and romance novelist Mercedes Lackey the other day, she made this prediction:

I cannot WAIT until someone lets the Romance Writers know about this, and how to get a book on the Hugo ballot.

Romance readers outnumber SF readers by about 100 to one, and a very high percentage of them would be gleeful to only pay $40 to get one of their beloved writers an award.

Romance writers are extremely savvy women about energizing their fan bases. They were using social media for that long before SF writers started.

I want to see their faces when Diane Gabaldon takes the Hugo in 2016.

 

 

 

Crook and Heinlein Awards Given at Balticon

The Compton Crook Award and Robert A. Heinlein Award were awarded during opening ceremonies at Balticon 46, the Maryland Regional Science Fiction Convention, on May 25.

The Compton Crook Award winner was T. C. McCarthy for his novel Germline.

The Robert A. Heinlein Award went to Stanley Schmidt, author and editor of Analog.

Compton Crook Award: Left to right, T. C. McCarthy, 2011 Crook Award winner; James Knapp, Master of Ceremonies; SF Author Mark L. Van Name. Photo by Patti Kinlock.

 

Robert A. Heinlein Award: Left to right, Ian Randal Strock accepts the award on behalf of winner Stanley Schmidt from SF author and Heinlein Award Chairman Dr. Yoji Kondo. (Dr. Kondo writes as Eric Kotani). Photo by Patti Kinlock.

[Thanks to Dale Arnold for the story.]