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.)


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



296 thoughts on “Flow My Tears, the Sad Puppy Said 4/26

  1. “… you have been squealing at SP to prove a negative for weeks now …”

    You evidently do not understand what proving a negative means.

    I’ve been after Puppies to prove the Hugos have been unfairly manipulated in the past. I posed a challenge directly to Larry Correia — prove a single novel/novella/novelette category has been gamed in the past 10 years — and he flat out admitted he couldn’t do it.

    There’s no negative in “the Hugos were fixed in the past.” It can be proven by providing evidence, which you have never even attempted to do. Like Correia, you have no evidence. All you have is bluster and free time.

  2. @xdpaul: “I would consider that 100% acceptable. Sensible, in fact. I would not consider that damaging in any way.”

    OK. Thank you for your consistency.

    So, the only problem you have with what was going on *before* was not that this alleged conspiracy was doing it, but that they were doing it…”silently” by posting recommendation lists in public?

    I just want to make sure I understand where you think the problem, if any, came from, since it seems like you don’t object to people voting in slates, or making arrangements of any sort; that what you *want* is some sort of political battle royale for the Hugos.

  3. Or did 2001-2005 magically happen in spite of the known and admitted collusion?

    Um, what? We are rapidly getting into “what colour is the sky in your world?”.

    2001 should, I am willing to grant, not have gone to Harry Potter. However, the obvious and overwhelming reason for its winning is that Rowling was really, really popular, and was read by a lot of people, not that a conspiracy elevated her over Martin, MacLeod, Hopkinson, and Sawyer.

    2002 is a perfectly reasonable win — popular book, strong author, interesting idea, still in print and selling well.

    2003 — the best argument for a campaign because, in fact, there was a (low-key, non-internet) campaign by Sawyer, who is very much a self-publicist. His books had been frequently nominated before, Torcon had low US attendance, and he benefitted from a hometown vote. (Don’t ask me why. I live with someone who went to high school with him and I have never been impressed by his work.) That being said, none of the other nominees were world-shattering.

    2004 – A well deserved win by Bujold for a very good book. Her subsequent nominations have been for weaker works, but Paladin of Souls is an example of a strong, not a weak, win.

    2005 – Clarke’s work stood head and shoulders above the other candidates.

    I see no more signs of collusion there than in the periods before or after it.

  4. So you admit there was no conspiracy do you? Excellent, can you STFU now and bugger off, I have work to do and you’re annoying.

    Or can you prove that this conspiracy you’re upset about was happening? Again, what is it that happened in 2001-2005, and show your working.

    Separately, personally speaking, if there was an SJW ‘slate’ I’d be pissed off at them too.

  5. “How about 1972, To Your Scattered Bodies Go?”

    I haven’t read it since junior high, but I was diving into all of the SF/F greats I could get my hands on back then and thought it was fantastic. It also is one of the greatest novel titles in genre history.

    Looking at the heavyweights it beat …

    The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin
    Dragonquest by Anne McCaffrey
    Jack of Shadows by Roger Zelazny
    A Time of Changes by Robert Silverberg

    … maybe it won because the vote was so sharply divided among worthy winners.

  6. Steven, that’s not significant. That means that there is virtually no overlap between the two lists, and they have a statistically insignificant relationship to one another. Go look at what Frank Wu did in comparing two competing/colluding slates. The overlap was large, and therefore relevant.

    But…what? Comparing a subset of shared books that totals less than 5% of the total nominees? Not significant enough to draw the conclusions you make.

  7. “2005 – Clarke’s work stood head and shoulders above the other candidates.”

    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell also had Bloomsbury generating a fantastic amount of hype for it even before publication, giving Clarke’s debut novel a £1 million advance and securing 17 translations. That thing was a supernova that year.

  8. @ James – The winner of the Best Related Non_Fiction Work in 2003 was the bio of Judith Merril, who was a Toronto resident for decades before her death in 1997. So the deciding factor in Sawyer’s win may have been geographical more than PR on his part. So Sawyer’s win isn’t definitive evidence of a campaign on his part, especially considering his previous nomination history.

  9. Steve – there are two issues – Scalzi has demonstrated he can’t just get himself onto the ballot for Best Novel, which means either he wasn’t trying, or his magic powers come and go. Suggesting that, in fact, Scalzi hasn’t been doing what people are suggesting he had because we’d see Scalzi’s books on all the ballots.

    Secondly, I don’t see anybody here disagreeing with Beale’s motivations or skilz to achieve getting him and his publishing company Hugos ad nauseum because he planely has proven he can effectively muster his flying monkeys to do so.

    As people have said, gaming the Hugos isn’t exactly magic and people have known about how to do it for decades.

    So we’re back to the motivation. If we believe xdpaul, or whoever that is, and others, the Hugos have been in thrall to a largely incompetent sekrit cabal who were giving crap a Hugo for the last decade. Given that a) there’s no evidence that this is the case, and b) crap has always won Hugos for their entire history, and c) absent ANY F’KING EVIDENCE SHOWING THIS TO BE THE CASE, then we can ignore that option.

    Secondly, we have Ted Beale, who has been here claiming he’s retaliating against a slight perpetrated against him in 2005 by the crowd at Making Light and this is his revenge in a kind of Tails you lose, Heads I win sort of thing.

    Frankly, both seem to be pretty stupid reasons to be doing this, but given the way he behaves, I’d give Beale credit that he genuinely is that thin skinned, and he’s been aided by another set of children who couldn’t believe that right thinking people didn’t just bow down and give them the awards they wanted when they turned up.

    Most people grow out of this sort of thing at school.

  10. Sorry, disagree strongly over 2005 – River of Gods was an amazing piece of work, completely robbed as we said to Ian at the time, by a book with an 8 figure marketing budget.

  11. So, the only problem you have with what was going on *before* was not that this alleged conspiracy was doing it, but that they were doing it…”silently” by posting recommendation lists in public?

    No. I don’t have any problem with what went on before. I don’t have a problem with slates or campaigns or anything else in awards. The thing I think is silly is people getting hysterical over 2015 when it is no different than what has gone on since at least 1994 when Harlan Ellison said so, and went on TV to gripe about it.

    Now, if people don’t like campaigns and democratic awards. Fine. Change the Hugos to juried awards or whatever (in 2017, with two years of ratification, or whatever is necessary).

    But people shouldn’t go into emotional convulsions over something that never bothered anyone until the practice was made public and transparent, instead of obvious, discussed but willfully overlooked and/or forgiven.

  12. xdpaul is still trying to call NESFA’s rec list a slate, eh?

    Not at all. I’m calling the demonstrably colluded Emerald City and NESFA’s rec lists what they were: business as usual.

  13. LOL, pay attention to what you type:

    You: “Go look at what Frank Wu did in comparing two competing/colluding slates.”

    Me: “xdpaul is still trying to call NESFA’s rec list a slate, eh?”

    You: “Not at all.”

    Gee, I guess when you typed the word slates (S-L-A-T-E-S) you weren’t trying to call the NESFA list (not a slate) a slate and it was just some bizarre thing that happened with your fingers, eh?

  14. Except you’ve failed to show a single thing that looks remotely like 2015 – you keep saying it’s business as usual, but the only place that ‘usual’ business appears to have been conducted is in your bleedin’ imagination.

    Show me one rec list of the past that is written like either puppy slate. Scalzi’s aren’t, we’ve posted them, Emerald City and the BASFA aren’t…. so where are these postings being made?

  15. David W — I grant the general point, but Sawyer really is (speaking as someone who lives in Toronto) obnoxiously self-promoting: he wants to convey the idea that he’s the best Canadian SFF writer (despite the competition from Guy Kay and Robert Charles Wilson, who’s been Canadian now since 2007, both of whom I think are several places in front of him). I would agree, however, that it was almost certainly the hometown vote which pushed him over the top.

  16. I would put River of Gods second in that year; de gustibus, and all that. But then that’s just the point to be made about fandom generally: five people, six opinions.

  17. River of Gods was an amazing piece of work, completely robbed

    Naah. River of Gods would’ve been a worthy Hugo winner, but Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell was a great Hugo winner, one of the best fantasy novels of the past ten years.

  18. Weird, I couldn’t read it, bought it, started many times, just kept bouncing off it hard. But I’m not a huge fantasy fan, unlike, it seems, our puppy friends 😉

  19. Daveon – IIRC I was a voting (supporting) member in 2006. I didn’t vote for _River of Gods_ because, while McDonald’s work is the sort of thing that I *ought* to like given what my interests are, his prose style has always left me cold, and I wasn’t able to finish the book.

    _Jonathon Strange_, on the other hand, was *fantastic*, and it was the first winner since 1996 that I could completely get behind. 🙂

  20. Harlan Ellison’s sole complaint in that 1994 video is that some unnamed Hugo and Nebula nominees used the Internet to ask people to vote for them.

    That isn’t an allegation of bloc voting. Try again, Puppies.

  21. rcade — Some great titles for puppification there, if Mike needs any more: To Your Scattered Puppies Go, Jack of Puppies, A Time of Puppies.

  22. From all the comments from the gamergate trolls, this is my favourite:

    “You do realize that Vox Day considers his blog to be one of the most read Science Fiction blogs out there?”

    Well, I guess if we asked other white supremacists like Dave Duke, they would say that they were the greatest political minds of the century. And Beale is not even a Duke. He’s your basic standard troll. A touch of narcissism, a touch of machievellanism, a touch of psychopathy. The dark triad of psychology. A dime a dozen.

  23. Seconding Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. But, I think Mythago Wood was robbed of a Hugo and declare an anti-Holdstock conspiracy of terrible proportion. Surely, the social justice communist mutant traitors were involved.

  24. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is the best Fantasy book published since Paladin of Souls. In fact, if Fate had been so cruel to put them on the same ballot I’d have torn out all my hair trying to choose between them. It is an incredible book and deserved its win against all comers.

    I can see why people, especially SF over Fantasy fans, would bounce off it. But trust the voters. It is one of the most outstanding books in its field even today.

  25. “You do realize that Vox Day considers his blog to be one of the most read Science Fiction blogs out there?”

    It doesn’t have quite the same ring as “I can call spirits from the vasty deep.”

  26. Meh, well you’re all completely wrong! :p

    But yeah, I’m an SF fan more than fantasy – although I will admit I am enjoying The Goblin Emperor at the moment. That said, I didn’t blow through it as fast as I did Three Body problem.

  27. “We’re asking you to provide evidence of the conspiracy that didn’t exist.

    That’s called proving a negative, Daveon.”

    Jesus. No. No, it isn’t. It’s EXACTLY the opposite.

  28. “Steven, that’s not significant. That means that there is virtually no overlap between the two lists, and they have a statistically insignificant relationship to one another. Go look at what Frank Wu did in comparing two competing/colluding slates. The overlap was large, and therefore relevant.”

    I think you’re missing something. Perhaps I was unclear; I will be charitable and assume so.

    There were multiple years on that list where the overlap was 40% — 2 of the 5 nominees were the same.

    It is not *proof* of anything — however, if the original assertion was correct — that the “SJW takeover” was after the year 2000 — you would not have expected the number of crossover works to *increase* — and since we can see who it was who was producing those nominations, we can also see that it was not the case that SJW-disliked authors were *removed* to create the division.

    Like I said — not proof, just evidence. Which is more than we are getting from the other side regarding any historical issue with the Hugos.

  29. @Soon Lee:

    Dr. Torgersen and Mr. Beale?

    (Strongly resisting an Avengers “Steed and Peel” twist…)

  30. AISB?

    John Scalzi is controlled by the American International School of Bamako?

  31. “I can call spirits from the vasty deep.”

    Well, so can I, and so can any man, but can you make them go back afterward?

  32. Looking for a future expansion set to Steve Jackson’s Illuminati that will include the SJW, Puppies, and the Hugos. Or not.

    (SMOF were there from the small boxes days, weren’t they?)

  33. Edmund Schubert has withdrawn from his nomination for Best Editor, Short Form:

    “I can’t in good conscience complain about the deck being stacked against me, and then feel good about being nominated for an award when the deck gets stacked in my favor. That would make me a hypocrite. I can’t be part of that and still maintain my integrity.”

    “While I firmly believe that free speech is only truly free if everyone is allowed to speak their mind, I believe equally strongly that defending people’s right to free speech comes with responsibilities: in this case, the responsibility to call out unproductive, mean-spirited, inflammatory, and downright hateful speech. I believe that far too many of Vox’s words fall into those categories—and a stand has to be made against it.”


  34. Calling back to discussion of the Heinlein bio:

    Nick, on the current nominees (Note: ranking may have been affected by nomination or just the slatening prompting sales, but cheap people may be waiting to see if they get the books free in the packet):

    Kindle ranks:
    Heinlein, pt 2: 142,823
    Wisdom from my internet: 56,115
    Riding the red horse: 35,589
    Transhuman and Subhuman: 113,939

    Letters from Gardner is #908,660 in books. Why science is never settled is a web publication.

    So, on the face of it… maybe the Heinlein bio should be more prominent than any of those (haven’t read anything in this category; my one nominee didn’t make the cut), but the evidence implies it isn’t.

  35. “This led me to the thought that maybe his goal isn’t to take over the Hugos, but to discredit SF as a genre in the eyes of the bigger masses.”

    No, not at all. My plans are entirely different. I plan to buy Tor.

    “Scalzi announced that he wrote some stuff and asked his fans to consider that stuff for awards. Vox announced that he is a man with a mission and asked his fans to vote for his exact slate in order to advance that mission.”

    That does touch on two differences between Scalzi and me. He is self-serving and he cares about awards. I serve the cause(s) and I don’t care about awards at all.

    “They’re more like a pirate crew with Day serving as captain. Which means they can and do challenge him from time to time. They certainly think for themselves and generally don’t act en masse. If they didn’t and did, the numbers would be much higher.”

    That’s a fair characterization. We consider ourselves to be more of a cultural 4GW force. I’m not even a leader per se, I’m mostly a well-respected strategist and thinker who happens to own the ship. They constantly challenge me, criticize me, and correct me. Most of the time, I throw an idea out, they tell me if they like it, and then I think about how we’ll go about it. But at least a third of the ideas thrown out there aren’t even mine. I may be a face and the symbol, but I’m also just the point of the spear.

    That’s why the WorldCon reaction was such a big mistake. It energized a lot of people who didn’t give a damn and weren’t involved in the nominations. But they’re in now.

    “If there are 50-150 bloc voters out there who will listen to Day’s every command (as some claim) with an additional 210-310 who act sometimes, then that means Day will control a large part of the the ballot year in and year out. I doubt this as I think SP has a lot to do with things, but who knows. Maybe RP really are the kingpins. If the group that thinks that Day controls mindless robots are right (I don’t think they are), he’ll never be gone and you’ll never have your pre-2012 Hugos again.”

    RP/SP is more flexible than you probably think. In 2014, the split was basically 1/3 Correia-only, 1/3 “SP”, and 1/3 “RP”. For the nominations, it was 60/40 in favor of RP. I would estimate the RP max was somewhere around 200, but that’s probably over 500 now. Could be more, could be less, I don’t keep track.

    Look, this isn’t that hard. Scalzi was never as popular as he led you to believe, but he could drum up the 40 or so votes he needed to get nominations back then. He averaged 415k monthly pageviews back in his Award Pimpage days for the three years 2009-2011. He peaked at 1 million/month for a single month in 2012, then gradually fell back to around 500k.

    In contrast, I’ve seen average traffic of 1.3 million pageviews per month for the last 24 months. I expect to be averaging 2 million+ per month by the end of 2015. And that doesn’t include Castalia House, which has decent traffic of its own.

    So, yeah, RP will be a Hugo force as long as we want to be. The more we’re attacked, the more we will counterattack and the bigger our numbers will be. You can complain that I’m a thin-skinned baby or whatever, but that doesn’t change anything. The situation is what it is.

  36. “I believe that far too many of Vox’s words fall into those categories—and a stand has to be made against it.””

    So brave. (slow clap) I assure you, I am duly impressed and will retire to my chambers to contemplate the error of my ways.

  37. I’m reminded of that commercial where a child was dressed as Darth Vader and thought he was using the force because the car doors unlocked. It was really cute how the kid thought he was this villain who had power he didn’t have.

  38. “I’m reminded of that commercial where a child was dressed as Darth Vader and thought he was using the force because the car doors unlocked.”

    LOL. You just made Vox Day’s threats seem adorable.

  39. ” I serve the cause(s) and I don’t care about awards at all.”

    None the less, your nomination of yourself has been noted. Also, your nomination of people who work for you.

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