Puppy Roundup

Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s post at Making Light, “Distant thunder, and the smell of ozone” (March 25), has attracted over 1,000 comments. She began with these lines —

I’ve been keeping an ear on the SF community’s gossip, and I think the subject of this year’s Hugo nominations is about to explode.

Let me make this clear: my apprehensions are not based on insider information. I’m just correlating bits of gossip. It may help that I’ve been a member of the SF community for decades.

And she made clear what direction she was taking with her next comment.

Comment #15 – March 25

When you invite thugs into your argument, you’re not using them as shock troops; they’re using you as cover. And you’re pretty much guaranteeing that at some point in the future, you’ll wind up feebly protesting that you had no idea they’d do that. And maybe you didn’t; but you did know they were thugs.

Tom Whitmore @5: That’s how it tends to happen inside the community. From what I’m hearing now (but haven’t been hearing about earlier), we either have outside involvement, or there’s been a depth of conspiracy within the community that’s a scandal in its own right. It’s possible we have both.

Sad Puppies 3 leader Brad Torgersen spent some time there debating the Making Light community, and whatever you think of his forensic skills, he truly enjoyed an Obi-wan Kenobi moment as his followers witnessed him absorb all the verbal light-saber blows required to send any Jedi to the afterlife. I spent several hours today researching the fallout on the pro-Puppy side.

Brad R. Torgersen

“Former TOR editor still longs to gatekeep the field” – March 30

Sad Puppies 3 terrifies CHORF queen (and former TOR editor) Teresa Nielsen-Hayden because she knows that TruFans (the dyed-in-the-wool, insular, legacy group of fans who cluster about World Science Fiction Convention) are a dying breed. She knows that if enough glare is placed on the award (the Hugos) and enough “outside” fans (you and me and the rest of the universe) come to claim our place, then TruFans are done. Their relevance will be at an end. They had a good run, got big heads, decided they could begin trashing whomever they felt like, and now the mask is being cast off — at the end, when TruFans are imperiled by the harsh light of reality.

TNH: I should have been clearer. Those of us who love SF and love fandom know in our hearts that the Hugo is ours. One of the most upsetting things about the Sad Puppy campaigns is that they’re saying the Hugo shouldn’t belong to all of us, it should just belong to them.


Larry Correia on Monster Hunter Nation

“Sad Puppies Update: The Melt Down Continues” – March 31

Well, Teresa, no matter what we do,  no matter what the results, we know we’re going to feel your wrath. Luckily, I’ve demonstrated to the world that your wrath is impotent. For years, authors have lived in fear of angering these Social Justice mobs. They’ve moderated their speech, self censored their art, and walked on eggshells to avoid getting burned at the stake… That’s why I hate you people, and that’s why I’ve loved exposing you for the petty, petulant, and ultimately powerless little bullies that you are.

Your angry mobs only have as much power as the person you’re attacking is willing to grant them. I stood up to you last year, and all it did was bring your antics to the attention of more, good, decent, regular fans. It isn’t your award. It is everyone who cares enough to get involved. And every time your side forms an angry Twitter mob, or runs an article in the Guardian full of easily disprovable lies, or attacks some comedian for jokes he hasn’t told yet, or lectures people that they’re having fun wrong, then more regular fans get pissed off and shell out their $40 to get involved, because they don’t like your entitled smugness either.

“Sad Puppies Update: Honesty from the Other Side” – March 30

One last thing, I find it funny that they are casting all of these aspersions against the Hugo admins because they are holding firm and obeying the rules of their convention. I’ve seen where they are trying to pin this on me and saying that I’m trying to ruin the dignity of the Hugos. On the contrary, there had been allegations against that admins were suppressing votes for a long time, and I put those to bed. One of the goals of Sad Puppies 1 and 2 was to audit the system (I was an auditor before I became a writer). I kept track of Sad Puppies nominees and voters across the categories, and then compared the final numbers when they were released. After two years of doing that I was able to say that I saw zero indication of dishonesty or fraud, and that the Hugo admins had been perfectly honest in their dealings.


John C. Wright

“Brad Torgersen on the Treason of the Gatekeepers”  – March 30

Our mission statement is clear and unambiguous. We represent a joyful, zealous and fierce rebellion against the soggy, dreary and weary conformity which over the past decade or so has driven the Hugo award into the hands of writers judged by their conformity to political correctness, or their membership in designated grievance groups, not based on the merit of the work.

In the past, it was an award granted topflight science fiction for its imagination and talent, regardless of their religious or political opinions, and certainly regardless of their race, sex, personal life, or other irrelevant personal factors. The Hugo has, in effect, become a political award granted to the untalented for avoiding dangerous and imaginative thoughts. The irrelevant factors, for the ‘No Fun’ crowd has become the only factor: note, for example, the crowing and victory jigs danced when white males were shut out of all Nebula Awards last year, as if the sex of the author was more significant than the merit of the work.

Well, logically, if you give an award not based on the merit of the work, willy-nilly the award ends up in the hands of authors whose work lacks merit. I don’t want to embarrass anyone by using specific examples, but let the skeptic run an eye over the last few year’s winners will find the science fiction award going to stories that have few elements of science fiction in them at all, or none.

“Tor Editor Libels Tor Author” – March 31

If my accustomed Vulcan calm could be perturbed, no doubt it would be by the allegations Teresa Nielsen-Hayden late of Tor books is leveling against myself and the other members of the Evil Legion of Evil Authors. But since I am imperturbable, I merely raise one eyebrow and wonder on what evidence, or one what chain of reasoning, she makes her outrageous allegations….

My comment: I am motivated, she says, not by what I have publicly, notoriously and repeatedly stated my motives are, but by some unworthy form of spite or resentment. I see. Any protestation to the contrary is dismissed as an unconvincing lie. Accusing me, of all people, of dishonesty certainly has the advantage of being a novel and unexpected accusation.

But on what is it based? No written word of mine can lead an honest onlooker to draw this conclusion. Did she speak to me and deduce this? She did not. Does she have my strange Vulcan power of the Mind Meld, that she can read the secret workings of my green-blooded heart? She does not.


Rick Wright on Mangy Dog

“Sad puppies and scarlet letters” – April 1

This is not just happening in the science-fiction/fantasy field. This is happening throughout modern American society. Interesting times.

Defy them. Expose them. Finish them. Because it appears they are on the run. Otherwise they would not be acting like this.


T.L. Knighton

“More on Sad Puppies and the sad attitudes of the old guard” – April 1

You see, I went over to look at the discussion. Besides parties from the Sad Puppies being woefully outnumbered – which isn’t unsurprising – there was a level of abuse leveled at Sad Puppy supporters that you don’t see opponents get at Brad’s or Larry Correia’s or even here.

For example, you had the disemvoweling of opponents, where vowels are removed so that the person’s post makes no sense at all. Brad was banned for 24 hours for apparently not responding quickly enough to satisfy TNH (as if she has any right to expect jack shit from anyone).

There’s talk about a rule change being in the works in such a manner as to minimize the impact of slates like Sad Puppies.

Honestly, it’s just proof that we’re winning.


Sarah A. Hoyt on According To Hoyt

By The Numbers – March 30

Take as an example of something that should have won a Hugo but didn’t Barry Hughart’s Chinese trilogy. It didn’t sell much (marketing and distribution being crazy then – and now, but worse then.) It won a World Fantasy, but his publishing house didn’t even take notice. He’s written nothing else. However now that the word of mouth has had time to percolate, there are very few intense sf/f fans, of the kind who reads books, who hasn’t heard of it. And there are fewer who, reading it, don’t go “oh, wow.”

That is the sort of thing that should be winning the Hugo.

That is the kind of award that the Hugo was when Heinlein, Asimov and Ursula leGuin won it.

“All The Scarlet Letters” – March 31

Still, such was the reflex of that fear that the first time I was mentioned on Instapundit I reached up to wipe the scarlet L from my forehead.

Now? I’ve come a long way in seven years. By baby steps. But now I don’t hide I’m a libertarian. (Technically an OWL – waves brown feathery scarf.)

And still that naked “you should have told them you were putting them on your slate” and the implied, scary because we intend to f*ck up their lives because you like their work made me catch my breath and remember the fear.

The people who preach to you of inclusiveness and love (SF is “love” apparently); the people who are hunting for writers of various colors of the rainbow to give awards to demand (and receive) perfect lockstep abasing compliance with their beliefs.

The prize they held hostage was a writers ability to make a living.

Fortunately there is indie. They haven’t realized it yet, but what they hold in their hands is nothing. And the more they show their colors, the more they pursue their little purges (now in public) the less they’ll be taken seriously.


Matthew Bowman at Novel Ninja

“Piers the Plowman and the Hugo Awards” – March 30

And that’s why I started thinking about Piers Plowman, that frustrating, message-heavy medieval morality poem I’d had to read in college.  Because it really did seem to be that a large group of people were upset at the idea of being inclusive, upset at the idea of the Hugo Awards actually being voted on by more people, and very upset at the idea that story should come first. It prompted me to write a blog post last year on that subject. Just because I have particular beliefs doesn’t mean I want to continually be preached at, even when I agree with the preaching. I don’t believe there’s a single point of theology or spirituality in Piers Plowman that I disagree with, being Catholic myself. I still found it one of the worst books I’d ever been forced to read. Yes, worse than Twilight. (Though that one I read willingly. Hey, it was new back then. I hadn’t heard anything bad about it.)

But speaking of Twilight, there was another point that kept recurring: the idea that just because you’re a popular author, just because you sell lots of books, doesn’t make you a good author, a real author. I found that particularly interesting. On the one hand, I could agree, since Twilight was incredibly popular, and yet sucked. (No, that’s not a vampire pun.) But on the other hand, it can’t be denied that a lot of fans found something they’d been looking for in the pages of that book; and I’d never deny that Stephanie Meyer is a real author. In fact, she’s a very successful author. That’s objectively true, whatever I think of her prose.

And I also made it clear, whenever I critiqued Twilight, that I was speaking of Twilight the book and not Twilight the series. After all, I only made it through the one book, not all four. I didn’t think that I would like them, but I couldn’t make even the slightest pretense at judging their objective qualities (inasmuch as art has truly objective qualities). And yet I saw person after person judging books that they hadn’t read. I saw this happen on both sides of the Hugo divide, but it seemed to happen the most with those whose politics fell on the left side of the aisle. I saw right-wing fans deciding they wouldn’t like a book based on an author’s politics; I saw an equal or greater number of left-wing fans saying that a given book was horrible because the author was white (even if he wasn’t), male (even if she wasn’t — seriously, this kept happening over and over, despite an obviously female name), right-wing (even if he was rabidly pro-choice and pro-gay), or owned a gun (which actually seems to be a rather large percentage of authors of many political stances, as I found out to my own surprise). I even saw left-wing fans declaring a book to be badly written because of the cover art, which only self-published authors have any control over.


 “Miss CJ” at Chicks on the Right

“What Is It Like To Be A Right Winger In The Sci-Fi Publishing Industry” – April 1

Well, the backlash against conservatives taking their fandom back from the liberal gatekeepers of Worldcon and the Hugos has been DEAFENING. It was last year and it is so this year. It’s quite entertaining to see the crowd– who usually are the ones calling for DIVERSITY and INCLUSION– turn around and say “Well – you people aren’t REAL fans because you just started participating in Worldcon and you have to be a vetted member of the club.” And suddenly, EVERYBODY had to be approved by the groupthink collective. Which just goes to prove how very necessary the Sad Puppies campaign is. Any genre or industry that remains unchallenged in the way they think is doomed to become ignored by the public at large. That same public that you hope will find your stories interesting enough to spend their money on, thus making it possible for you to continue making your living as a writer and not have to take on a second job flipping burgers or mowing lawns.


Jim McCoy on Jimbos Awesome SFF Book and Movie Reviews

“True Fandom” – April 1

Give it up folks. I get the fact that your whiny leftist asses are bothered by the fact that people who won’t preach your beliefs tells me everything I need to know about your character. I personally have praised the works of Suzanne Collins on this blog even though I disagree with her politics because she’s earned it. That woman can tell a DAMN GOOD story. Yes, it supports a leftist worldview. It also involves plenty of action, a believable love story and characters I’d love a chance to hang out with. That’s all that matters.


Max Florschutz on Unusual Things

“A Few Words on the Hugo Awards” – March 31

But you want to say that people who disagree with you aren’t really science-fiction or fantasy fans simply because they don’t agree with you? That’s the “no true Scotsman” argument right there. And that’s why I’m all for the SP campaign, because it took something that had been thoroughly distorted by a group of people with a “with us or against us” mentality and shined a nice, bright light on them. And you know what, this group of “true” fans can say what they want. But when they start insisting that unless you subscribe to their beliefs and their dogma that you aren’t a “real” science-fiction/fantasy fan, they’re just showing how off-base they truly are.


Dave Freer on Mad Genius Club

“It depends on your point of view” – March 30

You see, from my point of view I don’t have a darling I’d like to see get a Hugo. I couldn’t care less. Given the award’s present status it’s not going to do them a lot of good. Authors I like are populist, not literary, and getting the same award as Politically Correct ‘literary’ garbage (from my point of view), isn’t going to sell extra copies to their audience. If anything it might sell the literary garbage, or revive the value of the award. I would however derive a lot of satisfaction from their angry frothing at the mouth, and being proved right about the ‘elitist’ clique thrashing about viciously trying to keep their hold on power. I don’t want that power – I think it is a terrible idea that anyone has it. I’m all for it being a real people’s choice. Then it’d point me to books and stories I might want to read.

31 thoughts on “Puppy Roundup

  1. Jesus, I am so glad I am out of all this this. Pardon me but what has any of it got to do with science fiction? Just people posturing and spouting off about what is important to *them*. As if anybody cared.

  2. That’s the point, Graham. We don’t care about preaching. We just want good stories. If the good stories have a good message attached, so much the better. If the good stories have a bad message attached, hey, we still have a good story.

    The problem is with the people who insist that the only good story is one with an overt and acceptable message that spouts an approved ideology. And those who insist on that wind up expecting that anyone who disagrees with them is doing it out of ideology.

  3. A *lot* of virtual ink is being spilled over this. Each side is seizing on things from the other and being turned into a cause celebre. “Oh! Teresa Nielsen Hayden said the award is just for her clique!” “Oh! The Puppies made it clear they are just in it for the politics.” Back and forth, on and on. Brad goes to the ML thread and gets battered. A few people go to the SP blogs and get pilloried.

    The Hugo award field has, this year, become a battleground of American Politics and a Cultural War. A sad thing for a World Science Fiction Award.

  4. …and many who participate in the voting don’t know these weird political and cultural stances. For many, voting on the Hugos, it is a source of fun.. So much of this posturing is moot.

  5. @robert. Yes and No. The small amounts of nominators (as opposed to final award voters) means that an active group of nominators can and will change the final slate that gets voted on. The Sad Puppies are the public proof of that concept.
    A contention they have is that this happens every year behind closed doors in DMs and private forums. They’ve just done it in full view of everyone.

    So, this Culture War has influenced and influences the final slate which is what most people are going to see and pick from.

  6. I note there is no recommendation for fan artist, but I suppose this category is not political enough for their agenda. Vote for that damn Commie Agitator, Steve Stiles!

  7. If nobody writes a fantasy trilogy called “The Treason of the Gatekeepers” as a result of all this, I shall be deeply disappointed in science fiction.

  8. Brad didn’t get “battered” at Making Light. Quite a number of people asked him whose voices he claimed weren’t being heard, and whether he thought that conservative fans but not liberal fans were being deliberately kept in the dark, and if not, what was the problem, exactly and why he thought a slate was necessary or even helpful to fix it.

    I think the most unkind thing someone said was “don’t let the door hit you in the ass” when he flounced–without, I will note, answering the above questions. Imperfect indeed, but both well below the tenor of the other replies and noticeably better than his commenters treated me when I commented on his blog.

    And the idea that there is some kind of “secret slate” is ridiculous on the face of it. If you can’t find out what’s on the slate, you can’t nominate it. If you *can* find out what’s on the slate, it isn’t secret anymore. Everybody who cares a whit knows exactly what was on the SP slate (and even the less popular RP slate) because that’s how public you have to make it to get enough votes. In some of the smaller categories you could get something on the Hugo ballot with only 40 votes or so, meaning you’d only have to kill 39 of them to keep it a secret, but the Hugo voting pool isn’t big enough to take that kind of casualty rate for very long.

    The posturing is not really moot if the Puppies control what the Hugo voters get to vote on, and the rest of us are graciously left the option of choosing which of the Puppies favorites we liked the best. Or saying “Hey! No Fair!” which is what a vote of No Award would be in this case.

    Watching the Sad Puppies try to call *non*-Puppies “obnoxious” and “reactionary” is pretty funny, as is the discovery (TSOR) that “CHORF” actually stands for “Christ on a rabbit farm!” which is the sort of thing you say about people who don’t bother googling their proposed acronyms.

  9. Thanks for posting those links, Mike.
    Please note – most of those authors do not disemvowel or ban opinions different than theirs.
    I look forward to the corresponding set of links to sites with differing opinions. For fairness, you know.

  10. It’s interesting to read that Sad Puppies was created to prove that no conspiracy of left-wing fans was trying to block right-wing works, given that almost all of the conspiracy theories I can recall from the last few years pre-SP alleged exactly the opposite.

    I do recall the one blog post from John Ringo complaining about Redshirts‘s win, but it’s memorable because it seemed like a lone dissent in a veritable sea of assertions that a victory for Redshirts was obviously a sign that the Hugo Awards were controlled by conservative white men who were trying to suppress anything that didn’t align with their worldview.

    Ironically, the arrival of an actual organized anti-liberal Hugo campaign has taken a lot of that heat off of SMOFdom.

  11. Great roundup of viewpoints. One thing that I still don’t get about the Sad Puppies is how they can claim to be opposed to political bias in the Hugos and then put forward a slate where a huge percentage of the works have a distinct far right tinge about them.

  12. Mike Kerpan – Please define “far right” and provide examples. Most of the examples that I have read from the SP slate are apolitical. Heck, I don’t think a single one of the short stories was political at all.

    Mr. Glyer – Contra my previous comments, this post seems to be incredibly fair to both sides. Bravo.

  13. S1AL: The SP3 slate is significantly less ideological than SP2, I’ll give you that. Still, the Correia novel and the Wright and Kratman novellas are all pretty right wing. The Tim Bolgeo fanzine and a couple of the related works (one of which seems like a glorified anti-climate change screed) are hardcore right wing as well.

  14. I’m a bit confused. Nemesis has a minor libertarian slant (and a few pokes at Obama), but “pretty right wing?”

    I haven’t read either novella, but I’m not sure how a fantasy adventure can have a significant right-wing stance. Kratman wouldn’t surprise me, but again, didn’t read that one.

    But I don’t know how 6 of 50+ with (minor?) political slants translates into “huge percentage” and “far right tinge.”

    Heck, Correia isn’t that far right. Neither is Williamson, if that was the “related work” to which you referred.

    So what exactly are you trying to say here?

  15. Mike Kerpan, how are you defining right wing that has Big Boys Don’t Cry over on the right? You did read it before making your comment, didn’t you?

  16. Tom: Your describing the story as a “deconstruction of that liberal meme on the easy, certain, and reliable programming of altruism in sentient beings” kind of invites people to jump to the conclusion. If that’s incorrect, is there anywhere on the political spectrum where you’d place it?

  17. I haven’t read the novella in question, but I’ve found that Wright (based on his Golden Age series and Orphans) is pretty good about not cramming his politics down the reader’s throat. I disagree strongly with many of his views (particularly on homosexuality) but I’ve never felt that his fiction was overtly conservative.

    I can’t comment on any of the other SP nominations, because I haven’t read them.

  18. Only if one presumes there are only two possibilities, Mike, left and right, with no center at all. That, however, is preposterous; it is entirely possible for a book to be anti one particular aspect of one extreme, and not be extreme itself, or on the _opposite_ side, itself.

    Or would you suggest that William F. Buckley (or his shade), if he – oh, say – disparaged Nazis, would be a liberal or a communist thereby?

    It’s a fascinating concept, if so, and replete with all kinds of humor.

  19. Ah, missed question 2: Fairly centrist, Mike, though strongly against a number of things. That silly liberal meme is one, but equally it is against corruption, indifference to the men – and female war machine – that fight our battles.

    Now if you want to say that corruption, nepotism, massacre and atrocity ar eall liberal virtues then I suppose that I’d have to concede that, by that implicit definition, it’s right wing.

    Are you going to claim that?

  20. It’s almost like the work is being conflated with the author. Huh. Where have I heard that before?

  21. If you mean me, S1AL, as near as I can tell I’m on the right edge of the middle third. Certain political optical illusions can make me seem far more rightist than I am, in fact. (And everyone seems to be at least somewhat subject to those illusions.)

  22. Tom Kratman – I’d have put you at about the 75th percentile based on your articles I’ve read, but that’s a minor quibble. It appears to me that a great many people talking about the “politics” of the SP slates are making three mistakes:

    1) Moving everyone on the slate further right than they are: right-center becomes right, right becomes far right, far right becomes lunatic fringe, Jim Butcher becomes conservative…

    2) Confusing libertarian with conservative

    3) conflating the politics of the author with the politics of the work

    So right-center libertarian Correia, author of mostly apolitical MH: Nemesis turns into Nemesis having a far right tinge. And for good measure, that becomes a “huge percentage.”

    My only real question is whether that is a result of malice or incompetence.

  23. S1AL: I agree with all three of your points. In addition, people want quick labels, which are usually based on superficial traits. Is it a military sf story with a male protagonist? Then the author is presumed to be somewhere on the right (unless the character is doing things that break the paradigm). And so forth.

  24. Yes, I can certainly agree with that sentiment. And while there are fair reasons to make that specific consideration about an author (the military being 80%+ conservative), it’s certainly not fair to extend it to the work itself.

    That was actually what got me into fully spring the SP side of things: it only took about 30 minutes of looking to figure out how many Hugo nominations and awards and become based on certain clique considerations, many of which were highly political. It’s also why I think Brad being at the helm this year forced a lot of people to reconsider the assertion that this was a left vs. right issue.

  25. Break the paradigm? You mean like, oh, say, a soldier, a very large but female soldier, of previously impeccable discipline, opening fire on the military wretches and corrupt bureaucrats who’ve mistreated her? That kind of paradigm breaking?.

  26. It could be argued that the villains of “Big Boys Don’t Cry” are future versions of the Progressive leaders of today who decry war and right-wingers but profit from the blood and butchery none-the-less, I suppose, and some people would then argue that if the villains are left-wingers, the book must be right-wing. (The former argument is thin but makeable. The latter is merely the extrapolation to the “if you are not with us, you must be against us” heuristic which rules these sad times.) I personally think the villains, especially the villains of the climactic scene, are pretty darn right-wing-ish for the most part. “Cigar-chewing war profiteers,” which in my opinion is a very fair short description of one of them, are usually associated with right-wing/crony capitalism sorts of philosophies.

    However, the ultimate point of the story is neither right-wing nor left-wing. It is a plea for humanity to think about what it is *doing,* and what it will do, when it has artificial intelligences to send to do its dirty work.

  27. It’s not just the Hugos, or even just fandom. The SJW movement is turning all social forums into political battlegrounds. But the resulting backlash is destroying them, and it’s about time.

    “Social justice” is both anti-social and unjust. It’s time to declare it dead.

  28. When you declare social justice “anti-social and unjust” you’ve become the double-thinking double-talking unjust oppressor. But there it is, you draw the line: the good guys for social justice on one side, and you guys, the guys for unjust oppression, on the other. You’re on the wrong side of history; history is the damned good story of making things better through social justice, not making them worse through unjust oppression. You’ve chosen badly.

Comments are closed.