The Ballad of Lost C’Nine 5/13

aka Think Blue, Bark Two

Brad R. Torgersen, John C. Wright, T.C. McCarthy, Michael Senft, Henry Dampier, Lis Carey, Chris Gerrib, Alexandra Erin, Font Folly and Protest Manager are the featured participants in today’s roundup. (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Morris Keesan and Craig R.)

Brad R. Torgersen

“Musings, not necessarily sorted” – May 13

Because ultimately this isn’t even about Sad Puppies, or what we said, or did not say, or what we did, or did not do.

This is about the Hugo award, and Worldcon, and decades of seeping stagnation, and the ossification of the mindset of the so-called “keepers” of the field’s self-proclaimed “most prestigious award.” An award that seems to too often deliberately avoid what’s actually happening in the marketplace, has become the personal toy of a self-selected crop of individuals who are happy to play at being large fish in small fishbowls, and does itself and its legacy a disservice by catering to taste-makers and taste-shapers. Both for reasons related to art, and for reasons related to politics. As I said above, the number of people in this group is finite. The actual fans (small f) are legion.

Sad Puppies 3 is an effort to bring fans (small f) to the table. No matter how much people have bashed it, lied about it, or tried to paint it as something it’s not, Sad Puppies 3 is “open source” and egalitarian. We asked for suggestions in the run-up to the formation of the slate, and we encouraged everyone to buy, read, and participate with an open mind. No expectations. No tests. No rules. We demanded nothing. We threatened nothing.

 

John C. Wright

“On the Unwritten Code” – May 13

A meme currently circulating among the Social Justice Warriors in their relentless attempts to made poor, poor big-eyed puppies sad with their heaping awards upon talent-free uberleftist message fiction is that Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen and Vox Day, merely by asking fans to read and nominate worthy works, have violated the strict and scrupulously observed unwritten code of gentlemen forbidding the crassness of asking for votes in public.

Asking for votes in private, or if you are a Politically Correct leftist in good standing, of course, provokes no furor, as it is evidently not a violation.

I call it a meme because it is a thoughtless and absurd white noise of words, a self replicating sentence phrase that means nothing and says nothing. It is an accusation leveled because the accusers have run out of other, more credible, accusations, and they are not well behaved enough to shut their mouths with dignity after their case has been argued and lost.

 

 

Michael Senft on Relentless Reading (And Writing About It!)

“Marie Brennan and Mary Robinette Kowal talk fantastic women throughout history” – May 13

We also touched briefly on the Hugo controversy, with both authors weighing in, although Mary understandably was reticent to discuss Puppygate. Here are some excerpts from the interview.

Brennan: I sincerely hope that slates will not become the wave of the future, because I find them utterly antithetical to the entire spirit of the Hugos. It is one thing to say “here’s what I published last year” (I’m grateful for that one, honestly, because it reminds me of when things came out, and which categories they fit into, and oh hey I meant to read that story); that doesn’t bother me. Neither does people posting to say “here’s stuff I think is Hugo-worthy” — that’s just fannishness at work. But a named campaign, stretching across multiple years, whose public rhetoric focuses less on the awesomeness of the stories and more on the political message they will send to the “other side”? I’m not in favor. And that would be true even if the slate in question were filled with stories I had already enjoyed.

Kowal: I can’t actually comment on this much, because I decided to try to do something to bridge the gap between the multiple groups of fans and am crowdsourcing a set of supporting memberships for WorldCon. So I’m trying to stay neutral to avoid swaying votes. Which means that I’m declining any Hugo nominations next year (since a supporting membership this year means you can vote next year) and attempting to not express opinions about any of the nominees.

I will say that I’m seeing a lot of people, all around, who are feeling alienated. I think everyone needs to do a better job of listening.

(The principal text of the interview is online at azcentral.com.)

 

Font Folly

“The stories we have to tell” – May 13

“Moreover, men literally have no clue how much they talk. When Spencer asked students to evaluate their perception of who talked more in a given discussion, women were pretty accurate; but men perceived the discussion as being “equal” when women talked only 15% of the time, and the discussion as being dominated by women if they talked only 30% of the time.”

My conclusion: men think women talk too much because they think women should be silent.

This perception problem isn’t limited to gender issues. Any person in a position of power or privilege thinks that any time someone outside their group talks or is recognized more than a tiny fraction of the time that the others are dominating the situation…..

  • And yes, it’s part of the reason that someone like Larry Correia and his cohorts—Brad Torgerson, Theodore Beale (aka Vox Day), and John C. Wright—can see more than one or two women or people of color nominated in a single category for the Hugo Awards and start screaming that science fiction is being taken away from people like them.

 

Henry Dampier

“About Progressive Situational Dominance” – May 13

The point of this is to argue that it’s a bad idea to challenge progressives in areas where they have institutional control. You could counter by using the recent example of right-wingers crashing the Hugo Awards, but ultimately, what that was good for was just demoralizing fringe progressives while heartening some right-wing genre fiction fans. The official science fiction author’s groups are, for the most part, still solidly progressive, and will continue to be so. Creating alternative institutions is more important and effective than trying to take over progressive institutions which are only nominally neutral.

The more profound impact on progressive institutions has come from the re-emergence of self publishing and small publishing enabled by Amazon and its eBook platform — a mostly neutral bookstore which has contributed much to the weakening of the progressive critical establishment, which they complain about endlessly. When the opposition complains about something, it’s wonderful, because they’re telling you where the pain is, and if they’re telling you where the pain is, then that’s where you should apply more pressure to cause more of it.

It’s also important to understand that, when making moral arguments in a progressive country, where most people believe in most of the tenets of progressivism, that you have the low ground when making such arguments. It’s futile to criticize progressives on moral grounds which they don’t accept, and which the majority of Westerners tend not to accept. You have to shore up the alternative moral institutions to provide those opposing sources of authority in order to create a self-sustaining resistance

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Championship B’Tok, by Edward M. Lerner” – May 13

Paragraph by paragraph, this story is decently written. Character development hovers in the vicinity of competent. The plot, unfortunately, wanders all over the place, and doesn’t go anywhere really interesting. It’s possible this is a piece of a larger whole, and I can easily conjecture a larger whole in which this piece would make more sense, and being doing some important work for the larger story. Sadly, that is in no way indicated, and it’s nominated as a novelette.

 

Chris Gerrib on Heroines of Fantasy

“Wednesday Review: A Sword Into Darkness” – May 13

There’s an ongoing debate in Science Fiction at the moment.  One very loud faction says people are abandoning SF because all our stories are “social justice novels” and we’re handing out awards not for good work but to hit a racial / ethnic / gender checklist.  Since I vote on one of the awards (the Hugos) I found that argument rather unconvincing.  One of the gentlemen on the other side, I discovered, had penned an SF novel entitled A Sword Into Darkness [by Thomas A. Mays]. The ebook price was right, so I bought it and read it. Overall, it’s a pretty good book – I’d give it three stars.

 

Sad Puppies

“Celebrating What Is Best In Science Fiction: Foundation” – May 12

Over the past month we here in the Sad Puppies Revolutionary Vanguard Party Ministry of Truth have received a number of questions about which classic works of SF do and don’t exemplify the goals of the Party. While our cohort John Z. Upjohn has done a fantastic job identifying SJW-infused works, we do not wish to present ourselves as wholly negative, so today we’re going to talk about one of the all time great works of SF, a classic of yesteryear which could never win a Hugo today. Yes, Isaac Asimov’s Foundation.

 

Alexandra Erin on Blue Author Is About To Write

“Sad Puppies Review Books: IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE” – May 13

mouse-263x300

After a few hours of study, it seemed obvious to me that there must be an agenda at work, and as soon as I knew there was an agenda I could see it everywhere. It’s so easy to see agendas I’m surprised more people don’t do it.

The reason that SJWs have arranged for this hollow mockery of a book to be praised by all quarters is that it is basically a modest proposal for welfare benefits to immigrants. It starts by asking you the reader to imagine a mouse just shows up on your door unannounced and says he’s hungry, and then suggesting that you feed him. The words like “if” and “might” make this sound so polite, so reasonable. The rhythm of the book is I believe intended to lull the reader into a daze where you will nod along. “Makes sense,” you will say to yourself. “If a bunch of hungry vermin want to invade my home, why shouldn’t I give them the food off my table?”

 

 

And I don’t know whether I’m emotionally ready for this, but it is rather stfnal….

 

The Fellowship of the Puppy 5/8

aka The Puppies Who Circumnavigated the Hugos in a Slate of Their Own Making

Today’s basket of puppies comes from Alexandra Erin, Lisa J. Goldstein, Chris Gerrib, T. C. McCarthy, Matthew Bowman, Erin Bellavi (Billiard), Brandon Kempner, William Reichard, John O’Neill, Laura Liddell Nolen, Spencer Shannon and L. Jagi Lamplighter. (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day mickyFinn and DMS.)

Alexandra Erin on Blue Author Is About To Write

“Sad Puppies Review Books: MADELINE” – May 8

madeline-209x300Reviewed by John Z. Upjohn, USMC (Aspired) …

In the interest of a fair review, I made myself flip through the rest anyway. What I picked up is that the character of Madeline is everything that Feminazis say they want in a “strong female character”, as we are told from the beginning that she’s not afraid of anything, including mice and a tiger in the zoo.

Are we supposed to impressed? Mice aren’t scary and the tiger is clearly in a cage. Does anyone think this precious little snowflake would have lasted five seconds against that tiger in a real fight? Hell no! She wouldn’t have. Not even five seconds and that’s the truth this book takes such pains to conceal from you.

SJWs want us to believe that women are just as strong as any man but then they stage this kind of ridiculous pantomime where we’re supposed to be impressed that they aren’t frightened of zoo animals. But it is the SJWs who are sexist against women by suggesting women should be afraid of caged animals and tiny rodents.

Anyway, it seems like Madeline isn’t such a “strong female character” when her appendix gets inflamed! She cries like a little girl, and guess what? That’s right, a MAN comes to her rescue.

Lisa J. Goldstein on theinferior4

“The Hugo Ballot, Part 5: Novelettes” – May 8

We’ve left short stories and are now in the land of the novelettes.  And the first story here, “The Day the World Turned Upside Down” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, is also the first story on the ballot not from the Sad or Rabid Puppy slate.  As you probably noticed, I’ve been struggling with the puppy-related stories, so I was glad to see something different.  And at first I thought my optimism would be rewarded — the writing is clear, with a light magic realist touch, and the situation — man dumped by his girlfriend — is interesting and relatable, at least in the beginning.

Chris Gerrib on Private Mars Rocket

“Really?” – May 8

The only freely-available Hugo novella I have been able to find is Arlan Andrews’ Flow. I just finished reading it, and am frankly underwhelmed.

Pamelibrarian

“Championship B’Tok” – May 7

So.  The Hugos.  Up until this year I was not aware that this was a vote-by-random-people-with-memberships award.  As I’ve mentioned, I’m not really an awards person at all.  I tend to disagree with all the award-winning choices and therefore don’t put much stock in them.  It’s very political … which this year’s Hugo Debacle (I think it deserves capitalization after all of the drama generated) aptly demonstrates.  Many other bloggers and authors have explained it much better than I can, but I was curious to read some of the short stories and novellas that were up for awards.

I’d read a book by Edward Lerner a long time ago: it was Fools’ Experiments.  I remember that I didn’t really like it because it seemed silly, but I had hoped that Lerner would grow as an author and clean up the writing a bit.

I think things got better.  They’re not fantastic or mind-blowing or OMGREADTHISNOW, but I rather enjoyed Championship B’Tok.

Matthew Bowman on Novel Ninja

“Fake Geeks Go HomeL A Hugo Fisk” – May 4

This would be entertaining if it weren’t so sad. After all, as I keep saying, we’re not asking anyone to vote without reading. That would be a heck of a lot easier. And why would anyone pay forty bucks to vote if they didn’t actually care about the topic?

Remember, your own side is buying votes for other people. If suggesting to other geeks that a Worldcon supporting membership is worth them buying themselves is bad, how is it okay for the anti-Puppy crowd to actually buy votes?

Erin Bellavi (Billiard) on Toasted Cheese

“Negotiating Social Media for Writers: A Conversation With Jim C. Hines, Mary Robinette Kowal & Kameron Hurley” – May 7

TC: Of course, one drawback of the internet is the anonymous hate and trolling that sometimes goes along with having an online presence. Can you describe a time when you had to deal with hate and/or trolling?…

MRK: Yesterday. So, I decided that it would be a nice thing to offer to help people who couldn’t afford a supporting membership for the Hugo awards, by doing a drawing to give some away. This led to cries of “Vote buying!” even though I wasn’t up for an award. My feed became infested with people associated with GamerGate. So I did something I call “politeness trolling.” Which is that someone says something hateful to me, and I answer them with a request for clarification, often accompanied by an apology. More often than not, this actually leads to an interesting conversation.

And the ones that are just trolling me? Heh. I grew up in the South where we’re taught to say, “That’s nice,” instead of “Fuck you.” I can bless someone’s heart all day.

Brandon Kempner on Chaos Horizon

Hugo Award Nomination Ranges, 2006-2015, Part 2 – May 7

The Hugo is a strange award. One Hugo matters a great deal—the Best Novel. It sells copies of books, and defines for the casual SFF fan the “best” of the field. The Novella, Novelette, and Short Story also carry significant weight in the SFF field at large, helping to define rising stars and major works. Some of the other categories feel more like insider awards: Editor, Semiprozine. Others feel like fun ways to nod at the SFF fandom (Fanzine). All of them work slightly differently, and there’s a huge drop off between categories. That’s our point of scrutiny today, so let’s get to some charts.

William Reichard

“So if a Puppy wins a Hugo…will it be a real award then?” – May 8

Honest question. Will it be used on book covers?

“Winner of the top prize from the morally bankrupt and politically corrupt organization of strongarming fools and their sycophants that I spent two years excoriating in every venue I could think of!”?

John O’Neill on Black Gate

“The Top 50 Black Gate Posts in April” – May 8

Looking over our traffic stats for last month, I want to give a shout-out to M Harold Page, who managed to heroically crack the Top 10 without once mentioning the Hugo Awards or Rabid Puppies. Well done, Mr. Page!

He was the only one to accomplish that extraordinary feat, however. Every other article in the Top 10 for April (and more than a few in the Top 25) directly addressed the ongoing Hugo Awards controversy, which began on April 4th when Worldcon announced the nominees for the 2015 Hugo Awards — a group which usually represents the finest science fiction and fantasy of the year, but this year was largely dictated by a single individual, Vox Day (Theo Beale), and his Rabid Puppy supporters, who crammed the slate with 11 nominees from Theo’s tiny publishing house, Castalia House, and nominated Vox Day personally for two Hugo Awards.

Not coincidentally, Black Gate received the first Hugo nomination in our history, and one of our bloggers, Matthew David Surridge, was nominated for Best Fan Writer, both as a direct result of being included on the Rabid Puppy slate. We declined those nominations, for reasons that I think should be fairly obvious.

The Writers Life eMagazine

“{Virtual Book Tour} A Book Chat with Laura Liddell Nolen, author of ‘The Ark’” – May 6

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

I love visiting the sites of authors I respect, especially the ones who also do a great job of keeping their blogs up. There’s been no shortage of big names making public statements lately: Mary Robinette Kowal, George R.R. Martin, John Scalzi, and plenty of others have had lots to say about the Sad Puppies’ slate of Hugo-nominated works. Right now, GRRM has had the most activity on his site I’ve seen in a long time. It’s clear that he is still as invested in worldcon as he ever was. In other words, his mind-blowing success hasn’t changed his passion for the form. Given his tenure, his opinion is not to be taken lightly. Last week, he made something like three posts within 24 hours. I can’t look away.

Spencer Shannon on Dig Boston

“Alternate Universe: Queer/Trans Narratives Mix for Fun Effect in New Performance” –  May 8

The event will bring together a menagerie of local speculative fiction writers in one room, and will allow attendees to connect directly with writers who share a desire for inclusive, radical creativity in the media they consume. Author and editor K. Tempest Bradford will serve as MC—she immediately said yes when Jarboe reached out to her about WF&S. “[Bradford is] a pretty vocal feminist and anti-racist who uses her platforms to question old guard and mainstream, and she’s so charismatic, too. I thought she’d be a good fit as a prominent personality who also immediately sets the tone that this event isn’t about the old guard or the mainstream,” Jarboe says. “In fact, you can truly love speculative fiction and comics and games and see the mess that is the Hugo Awards this year, and Gamergate, and all that nonsense, and be like, ‘Whatever, I’ll start my own thing.’”

L. Jagi Lamplighter on Welcome to Arhyalon

“Tempest-in-a-teardrop” – May 8

Amusing pro Sad Puppy comics by our dear friends Codex & Q.

See the first comic here

I believe:

Larry Correia is the bear

Brad Torgersen is a carrot

Sarah A Hoyt is the mouse

John is the raven

The figure with horns is Vox Day

Codex & Q at Tempest In A Teardrop

About

Yes, we understand: you need to lay into Codex & Q with both barrels, but are stymied by the limitations of public decency. Here’s an insult generator for all your invective needs: have fun! And you’re welcome.

Puppy and Counter Puppy

A reader of the “Puppy Roundup” says fairness requires a corresponding set of links to sites with differing opinions. I agree.

As I searched the latest posts today, I made sure to clip from the full spectrum of opinions.

We begin with the lead dog —

Brad R. Torgersen

“The fear factor in SF/F publishing and fandom” – April 2

Now, maybe I am naive, but 23 years ago (when I first dreamed up the crazy idea to get into this business) I thought the field was a chummy place with overflowing camaraderie. The anecdotes of authors like Larry Niven certainly made it seem so. Worldcon (the World Science Fiction Convention) was touted as the epicenter of all things hip and cool and fun and amazing in the field. And I believe that it once was that, perhaps at a time when people weren’t so obsessed with correctness. When having a difference of opinion was not a sin that got you sent to the social media guillotine.

But that time is over.

This is the oh-so-correct 21st century. Where one of my colleagues can be moved to tears because she is terrified of expressing her Mormon values, lest her friends and peers in our business shun and shame her for not being correct. Where whether or not you can be successful with a publishing house depends on how chameleon-like you can become, in order to reflect back to the editor(s) the ideologies and allegiances those editor(s) want you to reflect. Where “social justice” has become a banner of immunity, justifying outlandish character assassination, baseless slander, and the ruining of reputations. Think I am kidding? Look what happened to Jean Rabe, Barry Malzberg, and Mike Resnick, when they were punished for using phrases like “lady editor” in a column about the history of the field. And those three are veterans of many decades! If they can get carved up like turkeys — by SFWA, the field’s so-called union for professionals — for the tiniest of perceived infractions, what hope is there for a new person?

 

Mike Resnick in a comment on Torgersen’s post:

Since my experience with the SFWA Bulletin was referred to above — and I think we were treated rudely and unfairly — I have to point out that the only consequence was to SFWA, which “suspended” the quarterly Bulletin and has published only one issue in the past year and a half. How did it affect me personally? In 2013, having just been cast adrift by the Bulletin, I sold 6 books (all to legitimate paying markets; I don’t self-publish…not yet, anyway), and took on the editorship of a new magazine, Galaxy’s Edge, and a new line of books, Stellar Guild. In 2014, I sold 4 more books and a screenplay, edited 6 issues of the magazine, and continued editing the book line. I write this on April 1 of 2015, and I have sold 2 books already this year. I remain the chairman of SFWA’s Anthology Committee. I have been Guest of Honor or Special Guest at 5 conventions in the past two years, which isn’t bad for a supposed pariah. Which is to say, they can -try- to harm you, but if you just ignore them and concentrate on what’s important, you’ll do okay. As for the other two Brad refers to, Jean Rabe is now my assistant editor at Galaxy’s Edge, and Barry Malzberg as a regular columnist there.

 

Nathaniel Givens on Difficult Run

“Hugogate 2015 Edition: Third Time’s The Charm” – April 2

If the victory of SP3 just meant a palace coup where one clique replaced another, that would be nothing to celebrate. And so you can see that I’ve saved the best for last. I’m not a partisan at heart, and the idea of the Hugos moving away from the ghetto of political insularity and becoming more mainstream (at least as far as sci-fi goes) is great. Not everything is coming up roses, of course. Correia, Hoyt, Torgersen, and others seem to think that nothing matters other than fun and popularity. I certainly think enjoyment matters, but I don’t think it’s the only metric that should be considered. I think sometimes important works–works that deserve recognition and awards–aren’t fun or enjoyable in any usual sense. But that is exactly the kind of quibbling I’d like to see happen where the Hugos are concerned instead of this knock-down, to-the-knife, existentialist ideological struggle that is happening right now.

 

Sarah Hoyt in a comment on Givens’ post:

Can’t speak for the other guys, but in my case, oh, hells no, I don’t mean just “fun” works should be nominated. I think COMPETENT works should be nominated though. What is the difference?

Well, take The Left Hand of Darkness for instance. I disagree with its rather obvious message. (Well, I’m a libertarian so the whole communal thing gets on my nerves, and also I was raised in Portugal and the Communal Child Raising thing is not all those who’ve never experienced it think it is) On many levels it is an SJW book.

OTOH it is a GOOD book. It not only works within its universe, but it poses questions that one can think about….

Now, I’d stay away from saying “uncomfortable” books SHOULD be nominated. The most uncomfortable book I ever read was The Man In The High Castle. It’s stayed with me despite my never re-reading it. The same could be said for 1984 and Brave new World. All those are worthy books. BUT if we take “makes me uncomfortable” as “Must be important” we risk nominating the equivalent of Piss Christ or the wall of vaginas over and over again — which arguably is exactly what’s happening.

 

Chris Gerrib on Private Mars Rocket

“Yet Another Round of Sad Puppies” – March 30

So, Teresa Nielsen Hayden has heard rumors that some of the Sad Puppies will be on the Hugo ballot. She’s concerned that some of the voters aren’t voting what they like, but rather a political slate. Since that’s what Sad Puppies accuse the rest of Hugo voters of doing, I’m not sure why they get upset about it. (Well, actually I am sure – nobody likes to be called a fraud. But the whole ‘do unto others as you would have done to you’ seems to be in short supply in this debate.)

“Guns on a Rainy Thursday” – April 2

I grow weary of the Sad Puppies, especially when one of them shouts from the rooftops that he’s so scared he can barely whisper. The butt-hurt is strong in that one.

 

Aaron Pound on Dreaming About Other Worlds

“Biased Opinion – Another Sad Puppy Fails History” – April 2

One of the dominant characteristics shared by Sad Puppy proponents is the lack of historical knowledge they display concerning the science fiction genre in general, and science fiction awards specifically. Sarah Hoyt decided to opine on the subject of the Sad Puppy campaign and talked about what kind of book she thinks should win the Hugos in a post titled By the Numbers.

[Sarah Hoyt] “Take as an example of something that should have won a Hugo but didn’t Barry Hughart’s Chinese trilogy….”

But what of Hoyt’s contention that Bridge of Birds is the sort of novel that should win the Hugo Award? Well, the only way to fairly assess this is to compare it to the other novels that were nominated in 1985, the year Bridge of Birds would have been eligible. When we look to see who won that year, we find that William Gibson won with his novel Neuromancer. And this is the point where the Sad Puppy contentions collapse in on themselves. I doubt you could find more than a tiny handful of people who would seriously argue that Bridge of Birds would have been a more deserving Hugo award winner than Neuromancer. When placed in context, the fact that Bridge of Birds did not win a Hugo Award is not only not surprising, it seems almost like a foregone conclusion. So when Hoyt says it “should have won a Hugo but didn’t” she is revealing her lack of knowledge and research on the subject.

Perhaps might contend that Bridge of Birds should have received at least a Hugo nomination. To evaluate this, one must look to the other nominees from 1985. Fortunately, the Hugo awards have kept good records since the late 1950s, so we know who the other nominees for the award were in 1985. They were:

Emergence by David R. Palmer

The Integral Trees by Larry Niven

Job: A Comedy of Justice by Robert A. Heinlein

The Peace War by Vernor Vinge

Looking at this list, one wonders which book one should kick off of it to make room for Bridge of Birds. The weakest book on the list is probably Job: A Comedy of Justice, but given the pull Heinlein had with Hugo voters throughout his career, it seems unlikely that it would be bumped for a work by a first time novelist. There really isn’t a particularly good argument for moving any of the other nominees off the list in favor of Bridge of Birds – all three of the novels are at least as good as Hughart’s book, and in at least two cases, are probably better. Once again, in context it is entirely unsurprising that Hughart didn’t get a Hugo nomination, because when one looks at the actual nominees, there’s not a good argument for replacing one of them. This is a fundamental truth of the Hugo awards that none of the Sad Puppies seem to understand: There are, and always have been, many good books that never become Hugo nominees for perfectly understandable reasons. When evaluating whether books “should” have won awards or not, if you hold up a book as award-worthy without considering it in the context of its competition, you are presenting an essentially false narrative.

 

Amanda S. Green on Nocturnal Lives

“Real Mature” – April 2

Hmm, so “fandom” is worried about what the fans think are good books. How many of this so-called fandom actually read the books they nominate for the award, much less all the books (titles) that make the final ballot? Or are they simply voting based on who the author is and if they are the “right” sort of author.

 

Steve Davidson on Amazing Stories

“How I’ll Be Casting My Final Hugo Vote” – April 2

I’m going to place ANY nominee that is associated with advancing a political agenda BELOW No Award.  If that means that No Award is my top pick in one or more categories, then so be it.  (I’ll read the works in the voters pack so I can rate the works as #1 behind No Award, #2 behind No Award, etc.)

This will be a default position.  I don’t want to play the Sad Puppy’s game – nor anyone else’s who decides that they can use the Hugo Awards for purposes other than originally intended – so I’m not going to.  I don’t care what side of the political spectrum the voting slate comes from, nor what its motivations are, nor what the agenda is – good, bad or indifferent.  If a work is on a voting slate (NOT an eligibility list) then it goes below No Award.

I’m hoping that others will see their way clear to adopting this method of protesting the corruption of the Hugo Awards.  If you don’t like what Sad Puppies is trying to do (or anyone who adopts similar means), the only successful counter strategy is to not play the game the way they want you to play it.  If you offer up counter slates – they win because you had to adopt their methods, which endorses their methods.  If you refuse to read any of their recommended works on the final ballot, you’re being a hypocrite because you’re “not letting the work stand on its own merits” and are, in fact, advancing your own political agenda by conflating the work with the views espoused by the author.  If you work at trying to get these new fans disenfranchised (by who knows what means), you’re supporting the argument that there is a special “cabal” of fans, an in-crowd and a not-so-in-crowd.  And so it goes through all of the other counter-arguments.

By approaching things this way – by using a default that applies to all works and all individuals, what I’m saying is:  I will not participate in the false choices that voting blocks are offering me.

 

Michael Z. Williamson on The Sacred Cow Slaughterhouse

“Who’s A Real Fan” – March 31

But according to some people, I’m “not a real fan.”

I’ve been an attendee, panelist, artist, author guest, special guest, guest of honor, filker, gopher, badger, I’ve run a dealer’s room. I’ve helped in the con suite while a special guest, because I was up early and they had vegetables they needed cut. What, not everyone takes their hand forged Japanese kitchen knives to a con in case of such an emergency?

Heck, back to my first WindyCon, the consuite needed a plastic drop cloth for the soda tub. I went to my car and got it.  Then the needed double sided tape. I had that, too.  Then they needed a screwdriver.  Exasperated, I demanded their list of material needs, went to my trunk and got most of it-poster board, highlighter, scissors, more tape, bungee cords.  I had trouble with the red marker. I only had black.

No one ever guessed it was my first con.

 

Jason Sanford

“On the Hugo Awards and dysfunctional politics”– April 1

However, to my knowledge no side every talked about totally destroying the other, or risked splitting the genre and possibly inflicting permanent harm on either Worldcon or the Hugos. Instead, different sides debated and argued using the written word. For example, when Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1960, many people were outraged about the novel’s politics and view of war. But these people didn’t try to game the Hugo nominating process to keep Heinlein off the ballot or place their own novels there.

Instead, these authors and fans responded to Starship Troopers with their own fiction and critiques. Harry Harrison wrote his famous 1965 satirical novel Bill, the Galactic Hero in direct response to Heinlein. Joe Haldeman also disagreed with the view of war in Starship Troopers and was influenced by both Heinlein’s novel and Haldeman’s own experiences in Vietnam to write The Forever War, which won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards.

Instead of Heinlein being angry about Haldeman’s novel and starting a campaign to force the genre to see things his way, the famously libertarian author approached Haldeman after the Nebula Award ceremony and said The Forever War “may be the best future war story I’ve ever read!”

 

Kristine Kathryn Rusch

“Business Musings: Controlling the Creatives” – March 25

Right now, a visible group of people in the field of science fiction are engaged in a protracted battle about the genre’s future. Both sides are practicing a nasty, destructive campaign against the other, and not worrying about the collateral damage they’re causing on the sidelines…

I can remember mentally shouting down that writer-friend who told me I shouldn’t write fat fantasy novels.

Every time I started a new fantasy novel, I had to silence his voice. It wasn’t until I realized that I wasn’t writing to please him or the other gatekeepers that I was finally able to silence his voice entirely.

Because being creative is about flying in the face of accepted wisdom. It’s about writing what you want to write, in the way that only you can write it. It’s about taking risks and facing down the critics. It’s about using forbidden words and writing about topics that, judging by your appearance, you should know nothing about. It’s about facing down the bigots who say you’ve only attracted readers because your last name implies a certain ethnicity.

These people who are screaming at each other on forums and in the media? Those folks? They’re not your readers. They’re not the people who act as gatekeepers any longer. They have nothing to do with what you write.

What you write is between you and your keyboard.

When that writing is published, it’s done. You should move onto another project, and let the published one take care of itself.

You will always be a representative of your time. We all currently hold opinions that future generations will see as quaint (at best) or horribly bigoted (at worst). It might not be possible for you, in the position you’re in right now, to know if you even hold such opinions.

If you’re one of the screamers, back away from social media. You’re only alienating your friends and your readers. If you want to change minds, work on writing better fiction. You can explore all the different points of view in your stories and—oh, yeah—maybe you can learn to write from a point of view not your own.

 

Cora Buhlert

“Cora engages in some Hugo kvetching – and a great George R.R. Martin interview/feature” – March 28

However, Kristine Kathryn Rusch also makes a very good point, namely that writers should let one fraction or another’s ideas what is and isn’t appropriate to write about influence their own work. Now this is a point that I heartily agree with (with the caveat that a writer should also do their best not to be blindly offensive to large swathes of people), if only because I know how liberating it was for me to throw off received ideas of what did and did not make for good SFF and simply write whatever the hell I wanted to write.

But as calls for just ignoring the whole Sad Puppy controversy and focussing on one’s own work go, I vastly prefer this series of tweets by Nebula nominee Usman T. Malik: