A Whippet of Earthflea 6/18

aka “The Brand and Bark Concerto”

In today’s roundup are Larry Correia, Cedar Sanderson, solarbird, Jim C. Hines, Stefan Raets, Patri Friedman, Allan Thomas, Steven Saus, Amanda S. Green, Sarah A. Hoyt, L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright, Mike Flynn, Tim Atkinson, Lis Carey, Melina D, and Joe Sherry. (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day JJ and RedWombat, and Anna Nimmhaus.)

Larry Correia on Monster Hunter Nation

“Sad Puppies are not calling for any boycotts” – June 18

I’m seeing this narrative pop up that Sad Puppies is calling for a boycott of Tor, but that is simply not true. Speaking as the guy who started the Sad Puppies campaign, I’m not calling for a boycott of anything. I’m not asking anyone to do anything. As far as I’m concerned this mess is between Tor and its customers. I’ve said very little about it so far, but I’ve been clear about that much.

The Sad Puppies Campaign is NOT calling for any boycotts.

[Continues with a discussion of recent history, and outlines Peter Grant’s background.]

After being a soldier, Peter hung up his guns and became a man of God. SJWs are saying that he’s a homophobe because he agreed with Sad Puppies, while in real life he volunteered at a colony for homosexuals who had been forsaken by African society, dying of AIDS. When I first met him, Peter was a prison chaplain, trying to help the fallen and broken, and victims of things you can’t even imagine. Basically, he’s an honorable man who puts his money where his mouth is, and now he’s offended.

Peter asked for a retraction from the Tor editor who flippantly dismissed thousands of fans as unrepentant racist neo-nazis. I don’t believe he’s calling for anything beyond that.

Again, this is between Tor and its readers who feel insulted, not the Sad Puppies campaign or the people who ran it. Yes, those Venn diagrams overlap, but sorry, you can’t blame this one on me. Many normal fans agreed with what Sad Puppies was trying to do, and shockingly enough, they eventually got sick and tired of employees of one of their favorite publishing houses calling them names. I’m not calling for anything, though I can certainly understand why some people are.

If any individual who felt insulted is satisfied with Tom Doherty’s statement saying that his employees don’t speak for his company, good for you. If any individual is unsatisfied and demands further action, that’s also up to you. I’m not going to tell anybody what to think.

For the other side who are saying that Gallo is the real victim here, and she was only speaking truth to power… Yeah, you guys run with that. Anybody with two brain cells to rub together can see she her comments were nonsense. The only thing she is a victim of is arrogance.

To the SJWs saying Tom Doherty is a hateful misogynist because he isn’t letting his employees libel people on the clock anymore? Double down. There might be some people left out there who haven’t realized I was right about you yet.

To the Tor authors I’m seeing post about this, the Sad Puppies campaign is not calling for a boycott. If you are upset why people are angry take it up with your art director about why she’s insulting your customers.

To the Sad Puppies supporters, do what you think is right. All I’m asking is that whatever you do, try to be as civil as possible in your disagreements. Stick with the facts. We’ve got the moral high ground, and the great moderate middle of this debate has seen we’ve been telling the truth all along.


Cedar Sanderson in a comment on Monster Hunter Nation – June 17

I have blogged extensively on this, in part because Peter Grant, who I am honored to call a friend, asked me to weigh in as a businesswoman. I have not been calling for a boycott or even a dismissal of Irene Gallo. It is simply a horrible example of unprofessional behavior, and an opportunity for Tor to show that they do respect their customers and vendors even though there is a lot of evidence that certain personnel do not.


solarbird on crime and the forces of evil

“this is just pathetic: puppy boycott, ahoy” – June 18

Anyway, the demands are ludicrous, but to summarise:

  • Tor must publicly apologize for writings by Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Moshe Feder, Irene Gallo, and John Scalzi that “demonize, denigrate, slander and lie about the ‘Puppies’ campaigns”
  • Tor must “publicly reprimand those individuals for stepping over the line”
  • Tor must “publicly indicate that it is putting in place policies to prevent any recurrence of such issues.”

See, this is exactly what you get when you hang one of your own out to dry for making personal comments on their own Facebook page like Tor did. You get escalation. So I’m honestly having a hard time feeling sorry for Tor Books here; it was as predictable a piece of politics as one can imagine. And I’m not just saying that in retrospect; I said so at the time.

Now mind you, this “boycott” is pretty must sad-trumpet amateur hour for several reasons, not the least is probable inability to make visible economic impact. As Vox himself admitted, he hasn’t bought anything from Tor in years, and I doubt all that many of the others who are going to sign on to this thing have either. A few, sure, absolutely – with the hilarious side-effect that means the writers they might be able to hurt are the ones on their side.




Patri Friedman

[Seasteader, son of David, grandson of Milton…]

“Being intolerant of people you don’t like because they’re intolerant” – June 18

So, there is some kerfluffle about Tor books, because one of their employees (Irene Gallo) said on her personal Facebook page that the sad puppies (conservatives fighting a culture war to make SF less SJW-influenced) were racist, homophobic, neo-nazis. Sad puppy supporters like SF author Peter Grant, who has literally exchanged gunfire with neo-nazis in South Africa were understandably outraged at this characterization. And (not so understandably, to me) calling for firing/resignation/public abasement of these employees. Which is where I have a problem. This sounds a lot like:

“Your business must publicly apologize for the hateful speech of your employee which has offended a small minority of listeners by publicly abasing yourselves, and promising not to do it again. This will show the world that hate cannot be tolerated; the strong cannot abuse the weak; and (incidentally) that our tribe is powerful and can grind your tribe under our boot if you dare offend us.”

Which is what anti-SJWers complain about the left doing. Sorry guys, but it’s bad when SJWs do it; and it’s bad when anti-SJWs do it, because, well, it’s bad. As I’ve previously posted, ideological diversity is important, and ideological intolerance is the enemy of ideological diversity and the progress that comes from having many opinions and beliefs working in parallel. Making people suffer professionally for their personal political opinions is stellar example of harmful ideological intolerance.


Allan Thomas on LewRockwell.com

“The High Church of Science Fiction and Tor” – June 19

I had heard, from several reliable sources, that it was next to impossible for a libertarian science fiction writer to break into the field.  I absolutely refused to pretend to be non-libertarian just to get published, and so I followed Larry Correia’s Sad Puppies campaign with interest.  Brad Torgerson and Vox Day were able to gather a core following of 360 voters and completely sweep the Hugo award nominations.  Yes, it only took 360 science fiction fans to completely overwhelm the existing system.

The fallout from that event still has not settled, and the awards won’t even be announced until August.  But the reaction makes it obvious that there is a sizable percentage of science fiction fandom that is “not satisfied with the products and services being offered.” Entrepreneurs have a name for this situation–”market opportunity.”

However, to date, it appears that only Castallia House is focused on providing science fiction for this segment of the market; they have even signed a new deal with legendary writer Jerry Pournelle.

For their part, Tor Books seems content to continue to ignore this dissatisfied segment of science fiction fandom.  And, in fact, Tor employees are content to insult them.


Steven Saus on ideatrash

“The Topical Changes In Science Fiction And Fantasy Has Nothing To Do WIth Sad Or Rabid Puppies” – June 18

The change in science fiction and fantasy over the last sixty years little to do with politics, and a lot more to do (ironically) with technology.

The current state of sf (science fiction) and f (fantasy) has a small vocal portion of its readership bemoaning the loss of “traditional” science fiction and fantasy. An oft-repeated quote is paraphrased as “Back in the day, when you bought a book with an astronaut on the cover, you knew what you were getting.”

The historical accuracy of this impression, like much nostalgia, is debatable. But more importantly, it is irrelevant.

To understand why, we must look to the Ferris Wheel….


Amanda S. Green on Nocturnal Lives

“Time to take a deep breath, stop and think” – June 18

… I’m going to part with one last comment. When I was growing up, I loved SF/F because there was a place for everyone, at least that is the way it seemed. Looking at it now, it feels like a house divided where those on the inside are doing their best to bar the door to everyone else, including a large faction of the reading public. That has got to stop and now.


L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright interviews Mike Flynn on Superversive SF

”Interview with Hugo Nominated Author: Mike Flynn!” – June 18

7) How did you come up with the idea for your current nominated story?

A supporting character in Up Jim River had a backstory in which he had journeyed across the face of his home world before making contact with an interstellar trade ship. That gave me the notion of telling his story. The idea is that as he travels east he encounters progressively more technologically advanced cultures. “In the Stone House” was the second of these stories and was originally was the first half of a longer story the second half of which (“Against the Green”) appeared in the succeeding issue of ANALOG.


Sarah A. Hoyt on According To Hoyt

“Of Pigs, Fights and Life” – June 18

When I said that I couldn’t mention the letters “H-u-g- and o” in the same paragraph without getting linked, I was right.  Or I might not mention the Hugos at all, or only in passing on the last paragraph.  But if the post supports the narrative the puppy-kickers are building, sure as shooting it will get linked.  Like my post about a new Golden Age, which got linked because in their blinkered little minds we’re calling for pulp.  (Sometimes one wonders about the minds that build this narrative.  You are aware someone who grew up on pulp would be 100, right?  You are aware that Heinlein not only wasn’t pulp, but was in many ways the anti-pulp.  I mean, I read Burroughs, but mostly Tarzan, and it wasn’t my favorite.  I read him because grandad had him, so I read him by 5 or 6.  Books were expensive and we had those. But his technique was outdated by then.)

But it supported the narrative, so it got linked.  The same way that its subsequent “Oh, for the love of frack, no one wants pulp” follow up wasn’t.  The same way my friend Sanford’s post over at Otherwhere Gazette, exploding their nonsense wasn’t.  The same way my post pointing out that I felt they were linking me to homophobia and how stupid this was wasn’t.

Oh, it’s very carefully done.  There is an image being built, and he links to those posts that support it.  Then when caught it’s not his fault and he can’t control his commenters, and he can’t see everything.

And, as I said, I have been conversant with these techniques since dealing with the cobbler’s son next door, while growing up.  (Weirdly he didn’t become a communist politician, and has instead racked up several jail terms.)

So Mike Glyer is smarter than the average bear, and much better at Alinsky techniques, and I’m an idiot to fall for them and come out swinging, which meant I had a spanking coming.


Tim Atkinson on Magpie Moth

“Kevin J Anderson’s The Dark Between The Stars: control, not mastery” – June 18

I also hadn’t realised – according to Wikipedia – that KJA has written more than 50 best-sellers. It’s easy to be sniffy about writers who tend to work in already established universes, but you don’t keep getting those gigs unless you are good at what you do.

So, before I talk you through The Dark Between The Stars, it’s hats off to an author doing very well for himself at the commercial end of the market.

Dark is more of what Anderson does – space opera on an epic scale – only in a sandbox of his own devising to play in. And what an elaborate, detailed, techno-baroque sandbox it is too, taking in psychic empires, gas giant mining, insectoid robot, gestalt forests, plague collectors and colours from out of spaaaaaaaaaace.

This world-bling – to borrow a phrase from China Mieville – is one of two main admirable qualities the novel has, the other being the plotting. Anderson juggles a huge cast and multiple plot-lines without breaking a sweat, like the hugely experienced pro he is.

But I’m essentially praising Dark as a feat of literary engineering rather than as a novel. These are virtues of control rather than mastery. The array of characters I found unengaging and rather one-dimensional, the action curiously flat. And the sheer size of the book and number of stories spreads Anderson too thinly, so that no single thread truly breathes in its own right.


Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“The Deaths of Tao (The Lives of Tao #2), by Wesley Chu” – June 18

Wesley Chu is a nominee for the 2015 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

…All in all, I nearly bounced off this book.

And then, thirty or forty pages in, the characters started to matter to me, and their problems became interesting, and a bit further in, I stopped caring that this is a story type I normally find really dumb and annoying. What can you do? I kept reading. Best New Writer? That seems a fair conclusion, even with the slates this year having possibly kept other good candidates off the ballot….


Melina D on Subversive Reader

“Hugos 2015 Reading: Novellas” – June 18

[Reviews all five nominated novellas.]

So today I got the Hugo Packet and decided I would start to read some of the fiction. I haven’t completely decided how I’m going to arrange my votes around the slate, but I was curious about why certain fiction was chosen to be part of the Sad/Rabid Puppy slate. I gave myself permission to give up on short fiction after at least 6 pages if I wanted to. But when I began reading the novellas, I started to get angry. Really bloody angry. So, of course, I decided to blog about them.

The novella category is one of those which was completely stacked by the puppies. I was expecting fiction which wasn’t my usual cup of tea, but still well written examples of fiction I might not usually choose to read. But, honestly, the writing was shit. I’m going to go into more detail on each of the novellas, but 4 out of the 5 of them shouldn’t have been published with such low quality of writing. The 5th was competent – which was a relief – but nowhere near award nomination quality….


Joe Sherry on Adventures In Reading

“Thoughts on the Hugo Award Nominees: Novelette” – June 18

The best of the bunch here is Rajnar Vajra’s “The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale”, though I’m really not sure what the “Golden Age” part of it is all about. Is it a suggestion that the story harkens back to the golden age of science fiction or is it part of a larger Golden Age milieu that Vajra is working in. If the second, I can’t find any other Golden Age tales. Regardless, “The Triple Sun” is a story with some space exploration, adventure, sass, and all in all good fun.

My Vote

1. The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale
2. Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium
3. Championship B’Tok
4. The Day the World Turned Upside Down
5. No Award
6. The Journeyman: In the Stone House

1,098 thoughts on “A Whippet of Earthflea 6/18

  1. Busy day planned that includes laundry and some grading and this new dinosaur movie….so shall end up even more behind. But at least I can add Brian Z to skip list wordy concern troll that he is.

  2. Abi Sutherland, I see how “shading” came off quite harsh and I’ve explained what I meant by it. People are welcome to talk to me here at this well-known venue and correct my misapprehensions, and as I said I’ll certainly look into commenting more at your forum again too, thanks.

  3. @RevBob: I haven’t seen SuperFogeys but I’ll check it out. It sounds a little parody-ish just from the title, which wasn’t quite the vibe I was going for with the campaign. I think superhero parody was largely played out by Mad Magazine before I was born. But once I look up SFogeys it may turn out to be something else entirely.

    There’s also Gail Simone’s Welcome to Tranquility, which I like a lot, but didn’t read until afterward, and wasn’t an influence. Really, I just got the idea in reaction for the vogue among RPGs for superhero high-school campaigns. Nothing wrong with teen supers in the abstract – Heck, I love Sky High! – but I didn’t have anything to add to it.

  4. @Brian Z: “People are welcome to talk to me here at this well-known venue and correct my misapprehensions,”

    And pigs are welcome to grow wings.

    If you want to debate the EPH proposal, go to Making Light and do so. Otherwise, please, with all due respect – shut the hell up about it. The discussion is OVER THERE. It is not obliged to come to you.

  5. @Brian Z:

    Why are you arguing th minutiae of the Hugo ballot proposal over here, where no one is an expert and no one seems too interested in debating it, rather than over on “Making Light” where lots of very smart people and election experts are having an intelligent and informed discussion of the possibilities?

    If you want to discuss this deeply, I suggest you go post on “Making Light”.

  6. Brian Z
    “I’m no expert but I think [EPH] could result either in more mediocre final ballots”

    More mediocre than the bland to outright crap stuff Brad and Theodore picked for this year’s ballot?

  7. Bruce Baugh: What exactly they thought, I couldn’t tell you. Did they assume I was her boyfriend? Did they just grant an innate right of ownership to any relevant-seeming male-presenting person, particularly one as white as me? I don’t know. But the fact is, they felt at liberty to bother her when it was just her, but almost nobody ever, ever felt at liberty to bother her when she was in the company of a white man.

    Gabriel F.: Yes. They did.

    There have been lots (and lots and lots) of times where I was catcalled, or even grabbed at, when alone. Several males of my acquaintance have pointed out that they’ve never seen this and maybe (“I’m just sayin’…”) we ladies exaggerate a bit.

    So I asked them to walk with me, but not near me. Back a half-block or so. Then they saw it. And more than once, when they jogged up to catch up with me because some jerk was following me along, there would be an apology.

    “Hey, sorry man.”

    Yup, directed at my male friend. Not me. Because you’re much more likely to get an unwanted dude to back off by saying “I have a boyfriend” than by saying “I’m not interested.” The last one usually gets you called some fun names.

    I have a number of female friends who’ve tried to get guys to leave them alone (at bars, or wherever) by saying “Thanks, but I’m not interested” or the equivalent. This response usually results in one of two responses: 1) the guy ignores their request to be left alone and continues to bother them, or he proceeds to subject them to verbal abuse and really nasty name-calling.
    A few years ago, I had a spirited “discussion” online with a guy (not a friend) who insisted that, when a woman is approached by a guy and she’s not interested, she should say, “Sorry, but I’ve got a boyfriend / husband”. His reasoning was that women should do this because otherwise, the guy being turned down would feel bad.

    I pointed out to him that women weren’t obliged to tell lies to him, just to prop up his ego — and that if his sensitivities were so fragile that he suffered such a great trauma by being turned down by a woman simply because she was not interested in him, he would benefit from some time with a counselor to work on creating a healthy sense of self-esteem.

    Of course, he rejected that, and insisted that women should be obligated to lie to men to spare their feelings.

  8. The notion that “too soon” makes it better because it shows he was aware it was wrong is infuriating. If anything, having that awareness and going ahead with it anyway makes it worse.

    That’s pretty much what “too soon?” means in Internet memes – it’s a “nudge nudge, wink wink, this is gonna piss people off and that’s why I’m doing it”

  9. Ray,

    More mediocre than the bland to outright crap stuff Brad and Theodore picked for this year’s ballot?

    No, I meant more mediocre than in past decades when the Hugo system did a pretty good job at identifying excellence in most years. (I personally think it started to slide noticeably a couple years ago – before, admittedly, kind of going off a cliff in 2015 – but that’s my personal opinion.)

    But we just can’t directly compare a time when a couple hundred people routinely licked postage stamps to the coming years when thousands from the cyberelectorate will nominate in a hypercharged atmosphere where you have to read 1000+ comments on each day’s roundup. Whatever happens, we are not going back to the past/

  10. @Jim Henley:

    Fogeys is generally light in tone, but there’s some solid meat there. Similarly, Adam Warren’s Empowered started off as loosely-related cheesecake “heroine on distress” commission work and has evolved quite nicely. Dark Horse has published nine trade paperbacks to date – volumes 1-8 of the series, plus a book that collects all of the one-shot comics that have been made.

    I’ve mentioned Emp before, in one rec thread or another – the mind blurs – but the gist is that Warren uses the Greatest American Hero concept of a supersuit that does lots of stuff if you can figure out how. Take that, make it an unforgivingly skintight job, and give it to a bright-but-shy woman with body image issues. (The first mini-story is about her teammates mocking her for trying to wear underwear under the suit.) Oh, and make sure that the suit shorts out (mostly) when damaged. Add some skin and barely-censored cursing, as well as a lot of That Ain’t Right, and once it finds its groove, you’ve got an excellent recipe for poking at all the little holes in the usual supers tropes. The first couple of volumes are pretty uneven, but it’s worth a read if you’re into that kind of subversion.

    Yes, it’s got some problematic content. Most of that is in Volume One, and it’s generally used to set up a table-turn or trope inversion of some kind. I mean, one of her teammates got powers (of a sort) by contracting an alien STD…

  11. @Rev Bob:

    I was ready to curse you for recommending another web comic with a large archive. I’m afraid I’m going to pass though, as rape jokes not even 10 comics in tend to spoil my appetite for more.

    On another not, re: Brad on MZW: I read his ‘too soon’ comment as saying “The ‘Too soon?’ line shows that MZW knew it was in bad taste, and yet went on anyway.” So to be fair to Brad, it appears that he is not willing to give MZW a pass.

    Too bad in other comments he is implying a tu quoque fallacy again.

  12. @Brian Z: “Rev. Bob, listen to yourself.”

    Better than certain alternatives.

    @everybody else:

    May I suggest that we simply refuse to engage Brian on this topic? Discussing the proposal with him over here only amuses and enables him while distracting us.

  13. @Mart:

    Well, he IS the designated bad guy. Plus, as with most webcomics, the early strips are kind of rocky. But, hey – at least I didn’t point you at Evil Inc. Talk about a big archive…

  14. @Brian Z, you really honestly might be better off taking that particular discussion off to a forum where people understand the ins and outs of it and are seriously interested in discussing it.

  15. @Rev Bob

    Yeah I got that, as the bad guy he is expected to do such things. It still feels tacky enough for me to stop reading.

    <google attr=”Evil inc.”>
    Damn you!

  16. Peace, reading your last two comments, do you believe that beyond the required posting of the proposal text at the Sasquan business meeting agenda web link, there should not be discussion of its merits except at Making Light?

  17. Well I need to skedaddle, so I can’t chat about EPH more at the moment.

    But seriously, proposing to make it not suitable for discussion (with dissenters) outside of ML is a pretty good way to cast it as a partisan product of ML. BZ’s salient point is that ML is not a good place for Q&A if you want to engage pro-puppy Fans.

  18. @Brian Z:

    I don’t speak for anyone else, but I see no desire to hash out those details *except* at “Making Light.”

    Numerous people have told you with varying degrees of politeness that if you want to discuss this, you really should do it over there where the discussion community is.

    The matter seems to be important to you. Why not just go to where the experts are? They seem eager for input.

  19. Brian, would you object to me quoting your remarks made here at ML, so that those who are interested can discuss them?

  20. Doire, this forum gets people lots of perspectives dropping by, and here is where I’d hoped to have a discussion just at this moment! But I’m interested in having points I raise discussed at ML as well, as I mentioned to the moderator a little while ago.

  21. @Brian Z:

    There is no need to be sarcastic about it.

    Different communities have different interests. That’s normal and healthy. Not everything need be discussed equally everywhere.

    Members of this community have expressed little interest into delving into this matter while there is an active, engaged, informed community delving into it in great detail elsewhere.

    Why reinvent the wheel when geniuses and experts are in the next town over working up a much better version of it? Not to mention they welcome input?

    People here have made clear, they are interested in discussing Hugo nominees, books and shows they love, a bit about pets and hobbies, some anecdotes, some humor, some gossip, meaningful cultural exchange, and things like that.

    You seem to want a more intense conversation. For that, “Making Light” seems a much better fit than here.

  22. Peace, if File 770 is not a place where fannish folk might weigh in on a proposed WSFS constitutional amendment, I have no idea what is.

  23. I’m ready to find out more about e Pluribus Hugo now that they have a settled proposal.

  24. The letter I wrote to Tor and Macmillan:


    I write about the hoohah concerning the puppies (both rabid and sad) and
    three of your employees: Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Moshe Feder, and Irene

    While I will agree that Ms. Gallo’s comments were, shall we say, a bit
    intemperate, I can see where the puppies, both individually and
    collectively, had it coming. Of course, blanket statements about a group
    will always not apply to the entire group, many statements made by
    individual puppies *do* merit such labels. Vox Day, for example, claims to
    not be anti-Semitic, he just wants them all to go away from everybody
    else. The mind boggles.

    Puppies have a characteristic behavior: They make messes. It starts out
    cute, then rapidly becomes tiresome. The adults get to the point they want
    the puppy to *grow up*. I suspect Ms. Gallo hit that point.

    I find the puppies tiresome – they poke and poke and poke (etc), til they
    get a reaction, then jump up and down, shouting on how they are abused for
    no reason.

    I have never met any of the puppies (unless in passing at a con). If I do,
    I am forewarned.

    I have briefly met Patrick Nielsen Hayden and Moshe Feder (again, only in
    passing at cons), nor met Ms. Gallo. However, I have read only praises on
    Ms. Gallo’s work, and I think it is a sad and terrible thing for the
    puppies wanting her fired. The puppies are making another mess.

    I will continue to buy and read Tor books – I treasure good science
    fiction, and am into my 5th decade of reading the genre. Tor *and *Baen*
    do a good job.

    Yours, a faithful reader,


  25. Brian

    snowcrash, I started to write a response about how it can’t be “running a virtually identical email campaign” to Peter Grant’s when no emails are called for and the post is titled “not calling for any boycotts” but then I realized you’d just have me chasing my own tail.

    Once again Brian, you fall back to your reading comprehension failure. Please ruminate upon my usage of the term dog-whistling in my post, as well as the point that Johan P brought up.

    Peace, if File 770 is not a place where fannish folk might weigh in on a proposed WSFS constitutional amendment, I have no idea what is.

    Well, there;s this site called Making Light….

  26. accusing people of “shading” the truth in a venue where they aren’t reading

    abi, he’s going to be very surprised if he thinks readership doesn’t overlap sites.

  27. Why no, P J Evans, I actually assumed that most everybody’s reading. My stated concerns are genuine – in case you have any interest in responding to them?

  28. @PJ Evans

    I don’t know if Kilo and Jameson read File 770. And I don’t know that they should have to in order to know to defend themselves against accusations of bad faith.

  29. Brian Z on June 20, 2015 at 9:36 am said:

    Why no, P J Evans, I actually assumed that most everybody’s reading.

    Cripes, that’s not a warranted assumption.

    You’re better off assuming regulars on other websites may be totally unaware of matters on this one, particularly given how fast the File 770 comment threads have been galloping along.

    If you want to talk to them, go post where they actually hang out rather than relying on other people to somehow grapevine your messages to them through luck.

  30. accusations of bad faith.

    For whatever it may be worth, I felt whoever wrote that document was oversimplifying (and in my view to some degree obscuring issues related to possible voter motivation and behavior) in the service of making the FAQ as simple and readable as possible. Reasons for wanting to do that are obvious and totally understandable – since there have already been many complaints that the whole thing is too complicated and hard to understand. That’s way different than setting out to deceive people. But upon reading the FAQ I didn’t find it totally satisfactory either.

  31. @RevBob–
    “There seem to be e-folk and tradfolk on both sides, is all I’m saying. If there’s a marked split along those lines that parallels the Puppy/not-Puppy divide, I sure don’t see it.”
    I’m not suggesting that it’s a major factor–just that it plays out in some of the resentment in some of the posting I’ve seen. That it seems to be that a number of things have jelled into this amorphous group known as “Puppies”–sort of how lefty-type demonstrations here in SF may have a ‘main’ theme (Stop this invasion–Stop Wall Street–etc) but always have people marching with their own pet agendas and signs.
    Sorry if it’s not very clear–I’m typing while listening to Bette Midler’s “For The Girls” album and it’s hard to be serious when you’re bopping along to “Tell Him” and “He’s Sure the Boy I Love”.

  32. abi, if he doesn’t seem to want to discuss it where all the discussion is, everyone else is going to be spending a lot of time pointing him back to it.

  33. Re: Municipal and/or Metropolitan fantasy. How does secondary world fantasy with an urban setting relate to it (say, Perdido Street Station or Rats and Gargoyles)

    There’s two approaches to municipal fantasy: the modern world that has adopted magic, and the magic world that has achieved modernity. You could call them ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’, if you want, but that’s just fussing over taxonomy. And all taxonomy is ultimately arbitrary [exception: fields where all members are fully known and defined and no new members can be added].

    It doesn’t have to take place within a big city: Robin McKinley’s Sunshine and Charlene Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels take place in small towns, and Melissa Scott’s Five Twelfths of Heaven takes place on board spaceships and in various prison camps.

    Later Discworld books were definitely municipal. Earlier ones, less so.

  34. Hello Brian –

    I’m certainly happy to answer any questions that I can, here or anywhere else. As others have said, it’s true that we have set up a thread specifically for people to ask questions about EPH, but I don’t want to imply in the slightest that it shouldn’t be discussed anywhere else. In fact, I’m hoping it’s discussed -everywhere-. However, the down side of that is that I can’t read and respond to every post out there. That’s why some of the others were pointing out the Q&A thread — it’s a great place where you can get a response to your concerns, since it’s one place that is being checked regularly. That said, there’s absolutely nothing wrong — of course! — with discussing EPH absolutely anywhere. I’m not sure how we can address concerns that we aren’t asked of us, however.

    Moving to some of your concerns…

    The tragedy of “E Pluribus Hugo” is that it replaces the original goal of excellence – shortlisting the five works that the greatest number of fans identify as among the very best of the year

    Well, I’m not sure I agree with your definition of “excellence”. What you propose, I would define as “popularity”. And fundamentally, that’s what a “People’s Choice” award such as the Hugo really is: It’s a measure of popularity (as an aside, I’ll note that’s not necessarily equivalent to “sales”, though the two certainly often overlap).

    Continuing with the second half of that phrase:

    – with the goal of fairness – selecting five works that make the greatest number of interest groups happy

    Again, the issue isn’t fairness as such, it’s popularity. First, here again I want to be explicit: I -like- the “rayguns and rockets” genre; I have no problem with the types of works many Puppies and similarly-minded folks are pushing for. Robert Heinlein is, in my opinion, one of the greatest science fiction authors who has ever lived (he’s certainly -my- absolute favorite). I have Lazarus Long quotes above my desktop. So please believe me when I say that, for me, at least, this isn’t about the Puppies politics or philosophy. Honestly. But the problem with slates — of any sort — is that they cannot measure popularity. Because they work by forcing all other nominees off the final ballot, there’s no way to know if those slate nominees were the most popular works or not. If “rockets and rayguns” truly are the most popular type of story, I want to win in a fair fight. Because the slate represents only a small percentage of the fans, we have no idea how popular their recommended works really are. So, yes, there is a fairness issue there, but perhaps not in the way you are indicating.

    while at the same time penalizing the voter quite harshly for choosing more than one thing should one of them be something that many others also agree should win.

    That’s not actually how it works, so I’m not really sure how to address that. Outside of an organized slate, I can only think of a few instances in which they could be “penalized” at all. One example that comes to mind is Dr. Who in the Dramatic Short Form category. They aren’t an organized slate. But there are a great many devoted fans (I was myself until Tennant left, but that’s another story), and they will all tend to choose the same five episodes without the need for explicit coordination. But is Dr. Who -truly- the best thing on television? It might be, but I’ll wager there are some fans who (apparently) like Orphan Black. So let’s take the very best Dr. Who episode and put it against the very best Orphan Black episode. Do you see that this is -increasing- excellence and not decreasing it? Instead of five Dr. Who episodes, we have the very best Dr. Who episode. We also have other works to compare it to. Is Dr. Who -really- the most popular science fiction show on television? It just might be, but now we can find out. In the past, we couldn’t. So it’s not -just- about fairness, nor is fairness really the major issue.

    The creators, proponents, and cheerleaders will tell you it is not about fairness and nothing will change, but they are shading the truth, deluding themselves, and have not thought it through carefully, respectively.

    Well, you are entitled to your opinion. I think you’re wrong on all three counts. But I’m not sure there’s anything we can objectively discuss there.

    Does anyone honestly think Vox Day is going to fight the next war using the strategy of the last one?

    Of course not. That’s why EPH was designed to be as strategy-resistant as possibly within a nomination system. Is it perfect? Definitely not — perfection is unobtainable in a voting system. Is it the best we can come up with that addresses the problems we see and what problems we can foresee? Absolutely.

    And do you honestly believe your voting behavior won’t change if 1) you are penalized for selecting a work that already has a reasonable chance of making the ballot because its success sucks the strength from your vote for an equally or more beloved but less-popular work,

    Please see the FAQ for why what your suggesting isn’t true. We address this question specifically.

    2) the field becomes even more politicized than it already is with these culture wars,

    I’ll be honest with you. Prior to my work on EPH, I was despondent that the Hugos’ only course of action was exactly this: endlessly competing political slate wars. At that point, the Hugo has no relevance whatsoever. The Hugo, as an award, will have ceased to exist. But I was heartened to learn that the vast majority of fans -don’t- want politicized slate wars. So, with a few people — eventually growing to a large number of people — who felt the same way, we put heads together in the best of SF tradition, and tried to figure out a way to keep the Hugos from becoming irrelevant. Sure, there are those that will say it was irrelevant a long time ago.,because it was controlled by shadowy cabals pushing their own agenda. I disagree, but even if that were true, EPH works against -those- people as well. This is what I mean when I say we are trying to “save the Hugos”. We aren’t trying to “save” it from any one type of fiction or any one type of group. We’re trying to save it from becoming irrelevant.

    and/or (presumably and) 3) the “ravening hordes” [andyl @10:58] are amassing at the gates planning a fresh assault? Do you really?

    Yes, I do. Really.

    Thanks, Brian, I’d welcome any other questions you might have. If i understand your posts, I think your preferred solution is to do nothing. For the reasons I’ve outlined above, that’s not an option, as far as I am concerned. We may have to agree to disagree on that, but I’m happy to discuss any of your perceived flaws in EPH.


  35. Danny Sichel:

    I see a big distinction between Sunshine and Sookie Stackhouse–Sunshine is set in a world where people have been aware of magic since long before the heroine was born, so that it’s a well-established part of their lives, while in the Sookie/True Blood books, people are still adjusting to the idea that vampires exist. I’d also point to the Mercy Thompson books, which start out as urban fantasy, and wind up as metropolitan fantasy, without really feeling like they’re changing genres. Maybe there needs to be a 3-part taxonomy?

    Also, Sean Stewart’s Resurrection Man might be a good addition to the Metropolitan Fantasy list, in that 3rd category. It’s been a long time since I read it, but I remember it being very good. In it, magic emerged in somewhat horrifying ways around WWII, sort of appearing out of people’s imaginations like in Gone-Away World, and by the modern era, people have adjusted their lives around it.

  36. @Brian Z:

    I’m going to continue this conversation here, because (1) a number of people have said they aren’t interested, so it seems good to keep it out of the latest thread, and (2) I don’t think any of your objections are (yet) objections specifically against EPH.

    influxus, you thought of one valid concern, but other implicit assumptions worry me too.

    How can we accept the premise that people will uniformly perceive an incentive to go back to behaving as straight and narrow, “traditional” or “normal” Hugo voters, and return to the “correct” pattern of nominating a set of things they each individually find most worthy, as a result of the rules have been changed to make alternatives apparently “too risky”? Actual Hugo voters, including those who thought they didn’t have a prayer of getting their stuff on the ballot, have done things like 1) loosely congregate and each nominate a couple of things they liked from a list of suggestions, and 2) follow the advice of a favored author/publisher to vote a straight ticket “as is.” At a gut level (at least) I don’t feel penalizing this behavior by making “non-acceptable” voting strategies more risky will be any more likely to convince people to pipe down and go back to behaving the way they are “supposed to” than launching a campaign to No Award their beloved authors sight unseen.

    The hurdle any nomination system needs to clear is: does it incentivise bad behaviour? Changes to the nomination system shouldn’t be about convincing anyone to tone anything down, behave in a more congenial fashion, or to stop boycotting things for that matter. Those issues are cultural issues in fandom, that deserve cultural approaches. If you can find a behaviour that you think is bad and show how the EPH system encourages it, that would be something we should discuss.

    However, the current system based on its known exploits and what are likely RP behaviours next year now provides substantial incentives for people to form interest groups and compete via bloc votes, possibly even for texts they haven’t read. I think this is clear bad behaviour and a good reason to change the current system.

    I’d also wonder how the risks of voting strategically can be mitigated by cooperation together with others and increasing one’s knowledge (or a group’s knowledge) about the likely behavior of others. We have several ready-to-wear factions already in existence, possible incipient ones, and social and technological means by which one might learn more, broker that information, and influence behavior.

    Well, say, I know Pox Way and his [random three digit number] of Damned Irritants have said they are going to vote for The End of All Things The Sequeling and four Cake Hovel books in 2017 for reasons, I also know that four other books have appeared way more than others on peoples rec lists. I further know the size of the pool of nominators. How does that knowledge lead me to a strategy that (1) isn’t vote what I think are the most hugo worthy novels of the year, (2) doesn’t also apply to the current system?

    As Kilo points out your preferred solution appears to be to do nothing. You seem to be arguing the hugos have changed, changed utterly, but to do anything is to interfere with their new terrible beauty. And that it might be needless change after all, for Paulk’s puppies may keep faith… I get the sentiment that irrespective of a rule’s function voting for change is a symbolic cultural act, but so is voting down change. Advocating for or against nomination rules based on how fandom or puppies may interpret the symbolism of change is a little meta and vague to be convincing.

  37. Brian Z

    Claiming that the people who have worked on E Pluribus Hugo were “shading the truth” and “deluding themselves” was completely uncalled for. You admit yourself you don’t know enough about either E Pluribus Hugo or other voting systems to judge what will happen or what might work better, and yet you feel free to strut in here and say that about the people who *did* bother to educate themselves?

    I will be watching for any similar future claims from you. When it happens I will be reminding people of what you said here.

    In the meantime, either post the idea that you have that will work better or admit you’ve got nothing.

    Because doing nothing hands the Hugos to the Puppies, do do with as they will. And man, I can’t think of a more pitiful case of “excellence” than the things they have nominated for the past two years.

    (complete aside) Hey, lookitthat! There’s an edit button now! Nice, Mike!

  38. It’s the old “Nazis where National Socialists so they are leftist” canard.


    it’s the “how the fuck is a Socialist Worker’s Party ‘right wing’, you fucking twit?” question.

    Fascism was created by a leader of the Italian Socialist party who was an enthusiastic supporter of the First International … until they refused to take a side in ww1 ( Mussolini ).

    the primary differences between a fascist ideology and a more orthodox marxist socialism are:
    1 – nationalist rather than internationalist ( Hitler applied the even more restrictive Darwinian tribalism )
    2 – avowedly “irrational” where the Marxists pretend to exalt rationality

  39. bob k mando

    it’s the “how the fuck is a Socialist Worker’s Party ‘right wing’, you fucking twit?” question.

    If political nomenclature is destiny, I’m sure you can explain precisely how the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (aka North Korea) is a democratic republic that is run for the benefit of the people.

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