The Leader of the Packet 6/29

aka “These are the times that try dogs’s souls: The summer sheep dog and the sunshine puppy will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

The roundup today features Chauncey DeVega, John Ottinger III, Martin Wisse, Lou Antonelli, Paul, Cheryl Morgan, Simon Bucher-Jones, Tom Hanks, Rachel Neumeier, Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag, Scott Seldon, Alexandra Erin and other cryptic denizens of the internet. (Title credit goes out to File 770 contributing editors of the day Will Reichard and Jack Lint.)

Chauncey DeVega on We Are Respectable Negroes

“The Whiteness of Science Fiction: From the Hugo Awards’ ‘Sad Puppies’ to Dylann Roof and Harold Covington” – June 29

….It would seem that there could be an overlap between the “Sad Puppies” racially resentful white folks (and their pathetic black and brown racial Stockholm syndrome allies) and the more formal and open White Right. The Whiteness of science fiction is united in the post civil rights era by White Supremacy gross, ugly, more polite, in some ways unapologetic, dishonestly “colorblind”, and in all of its other toxic ways.

As I shared on the RT network last Friday evening, Dylann Roof and other Right-wing domestic terrorists are weaponized by Fox News and the Right-wing hate media. Part of this training is not limited to explicit and formal political texts. Political lessons are also taught by many types of media such as music, film, art, video games, comic books, and other types of literature.

A quibble: Covington’s work sounds more like speculative fiction than it does “science fiction” (the widely known white supremacist tract The Turner Diaries fits this model as well). Most science fiction is by definition speculative in nature; speculative fiction is not necessarily science fiction. Words and concepts are important; meanings and definitions matter…..


John Ottinger III on World Magazine

“Notable Books” – June 29


Controversy erupted when one group of science fiction writers, who felt underrepresented by the awards committee, offered a competing list of nominees for the Hugo Awards. When their list won many of the five slots available in each award category, the science fiction establishment and major media noticed. The list writers—known oddly as the “Sad Puppies”—believe that books promoting politically correct causes and liberal identity politics have dominated the Hugos in recent years. Opponents say the “Puppies” are racist, misogynist, and homophobic conservatives undermining science fiction’s most prestigious award by inventing nonexistent persecution. Members of the World Science Fiction Convention will meet this summer to determine if nomination and voting rules need changing. Any changes would take effect in two years. —J.O.


Martin Wisse on Wis[s]e Words

“Fandom is more than just puppies barking” – June 28

This is not what fandom should be like, but unfortunately assholes are everywhere, even in sf fandom. But though they’re currently the loudest and most visible part of fandom, they’re not the whole of it. It’s only human to talk more about outrage than about all the everyday kindnesses that pass unnoticed, which is why British fandom has its Doc Weir award. Most people you meet in fandom, online or real life, are just normal, decent human beings. Which can be hard to remember when all you read about is a small part being incredibly nasty about having to share fandom with people who are not like them and don’t like Nutty Nuggets.

But there’s also the point that much of the sound and fury generated by those Puppies is a reaction to the fact that fandom is changing and getting more welcoming to people who may not just dislike Nutty Nuggets, but don’t like breakfast cereal at all. It’s a backlash against the idea that fandom can improve, grow more diverse, not remain the playground of a bunch of paranoid, spoiled, rightwing brats.


Lou Antonelli on This Way To Texas

“Back home” – June 29

A Facebook friend asked me today, “What do you get out of this much con-going? It’s not a financial benefit is it? I’m curious.”

I replied that I do it for self-promotion and networking. I have seen the benefits accumulate over the years of people getting to meet and know you a bit, to know that you’re a real person. I suppose it works for me because I’m very outgoing, and I’m also a much better public speaker than a writer.

I also feel this year I have a special obligation to get out there because of my Hugo nominations. I feel if I’m asking people to consider my virtues as a writer, they have the right to see me and buttonhole me.


Paul on

“What’s Wrong With The Hugos, Part 3” – June 21

So, having first argued that science fiction is now too big for the Hugos, I then went on to argue that the governance of the award is too slow and too prone to complexify rather than simplify. At the end of that post I said that one of the major ways in which this unnecessary complexity shows itself is in the proliferation of categories. This brings us to:

Problem 3: The Award categories are inappropriate

I hold that too many of the award categories are irrelevant, or so poorly shaped that the voters do not know what they are actually voting for. And yet one of the most persistent and pernicious trends over the last few years has been to add further categories, which does nothing to make the whole thing simpler or clearer….

Okay, I’ve been rambling on for too long, but basically it comes down to this: most of the categories of the Hugo Awards are not fit for purpose. They are dependent on knowledge that the voter cannot have, or they make distinctions that are irrelevant to most voters, or they require comparison between items that cannot sensibly be compared. And these problems, or variations of them, extend into just about every one of the 16 categories there currently are in the Hugo Awards. It’s a systemic problem that ties in with the problems of governance and the problems of relevance that I have already highlighted.

I don’t know what the solution is, other than tearing the whole edifice down and rebuilding it from scratch on firmer grounds and on a simpler model. But I don’t think that is going to happen.


Simon Bucher-Jones on SBJ’s pantechnicon extravaganza

“A brief history of the Hugo awards – the file 770 compilation [as credited]”

1:  the first award.  1197 AD

The award itself dates back to 1197 and Bishop Hugo de Rainault (brother of the then Sherrif of Nottingham) who it will be remembered offered ‘a mighty prize for the most puissant account of how yon addlepate knave Robin Earle yclept Loksley might best be set about his heels.’ The original silver arrow has now become over time the stylised ‘rocket robin hood’ shape of the current award….



Rachel Neumeier

“One more note on the pro artist category” – June  29


Reid’s other covers look rather pulp style, which is not really my thing, but I do like this one.

And at least now I don’t have to think about putting No Award on the ballot. It’s a pity Reid didn’t put some of his works in the Hugo packet so they’d have been easier to find.


Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag on Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog

“Hugo Listening – Fancast” – June 29

[Reviews all five nominees.]

Of these choices, Tea and Jeopardy is definitely the best. It takes full advantage of the format, uses sound effects to improve the atmosphere and has whimsy that appeals to me. The interview was well-conducted, and the questions were perceptive and enlightening. It’s also short enough to listen to but not so long I start to think, just get on with it already! Next up, despite the length, is Galactic Suburbia, which is information-filled and fun. The trio clearly love what they are talking about and range far and wide on a variety of subjects while still pulling in the audience. I find the length problematic, but the diversity of subjects makes up for it. Adventures in SciFi Publishing is the third place winner, and the last to make the ballot for me. It’s a polished production, but went on just slightly too long on a single subject.

The next best is Dungeon Crawlers Radio, which is average but not great. I do wonder if there is a better example than the one in the sample, but due to the length, I can’t be bothered to listen and find out. At the bottom is the Sci Phi Show, which really didn’t take advantage of the audio format at all. The cheesy laughter sound effect detracted, rather than enhanced. If that was the best available, the podcast doesn’t deserve an award.


Scott Seldon on Seldon’s SF Blog

“Interstellar Is Just That” – June 29

…This film most certainly deserves the Hugo award this year. It is what the Hugo is all about. It is, unfortunately, on the Sad Puppies list. I’m quite sure it would have been nominated anyway. In other areas it has received many awards, beating out the other Hugo Nominees. And it is really quite funny that the puppies would nominate this film. They are so against stories with a message and if you don’t get the messages in this film you have to be brain dead. As against the puppy slates as I am, I am forced to concede that this is indeed the best SF film of the year and I must put it first when I vote. I just have to. From the emotional, enjoyment, box office response, and industry award perspectives this film comes out on top among those nominated. If you believe in the spirit of the Hugos, you won’t let the source of a good nominee that deserves to win cloud your judgement. Of course, not all will agree that this is the best offering, but from my perspective, I have no choice…..


Alexandra Erin on Blue Author Is About To Write

“The Goblin Emperor: Yes, it’s fantasy, and yes it’s a novel” – June 29

Anyway, in a year when many Hugo works were nominated whose merits are so dubious that even the people who nominated them aren’t discussing their merits, The Goblin Emperor is a novel whose merits have been rather sharply debated. It has been praised highly from a wide number of quarters, but there are some lines of criticism that have cropped up and been repeated even outside the quarters of the Puppy campaigns (though they are found most often and most vociferously within those quarters).

They are:

  • It’s not really fantasy, so much as an alternate history with non-human races because there’s no magic or other speculative element.
  • It’s not really a novel, because there is no plot/no conflict. This criticism is also phrased as “It’s more of a series of anecdotes than anything.”

The standard Puppy nonsense of “SJWS ARE SHOVING MESSAGES DOWN OUR THROATS AND VOTING FOR STORIES FOR AFFIRMATIVE ACTION REASONS” has certainly come up, too, of course, but it’s hardly worth engaging with them.

Now that I have read the book, I really have to wonder: did the people making those two criticisms of it do so? If they did, I don’t think they could have read it carefully. While the vision of elven and goblin societies in The Goblin Emperor are an example of intricate and engrossing worldbuilding, the magic-using classes of society appear to have been lifted straight out of classic D&D; e.g., there are clerics and there are wizards.



Cheryl Morgan on Cheryl’s Mewsings

“Archipelacon – Day 4” – June 29

Lots of people were talking about wanting to come back to Finnish conventions again. We seem to have created a lot of goodwill for the Helsinki Worldcon bid. I am so proud of my Finnish and Swedish friends right now.



533 thoughts on “The Leader of the Packet 6/29

  1. I’ve run my own made-up data through the method a couple of times to see how it works, and it seems like it should work just as expected. It’ll reduce the impact of slates. If I were more of a programmer, I could probably run a lot more simulations, but what I’ve done so far – by hand – seems to show me it’ll work.

    I’ve been lukewarm about EPH, but the more I play with it, the more sense it makes.

  2. ULTRAGOTHA on July 1, 2015 at 6:00 am said:

    I am very much hoping that Sasquan will release all the anonymous nomination data at some point after the final voting ends. I *hope* it will be before the Hugo ceremony but I doubt they’ll do that. Standlee appears to be working on the assumption that no additional data will be available to the Business Meeting until after the ceremony.

    I’m going to be very surprised if an Administrator agrees to release any voting data other than what the Consistution requires. In fact, I’m expecting someone to submit a constitutional amendment prohibiting the relase of the raw voting data, anonymized or not.

    The decision whether or not to release the data is entirely up to this year’s Hugo Administration Subcommittee. The Business Meeting could ask (via a resolution), but the Administrators have unlimited authority in the matter, with no appeal from their decision.

  3. I’m not especially interested in trying to classify “Water” as “science fiction” OR “fantasy.” It’s method strikes me as SFnal – Here is the one change in the world. Now here is a particular set of manifestations of that change. – but if one can’t get around the inexplicable nature of the change, then call it fantasy. Or slipstream or magic realism or whatever terminology fits your comfort zone.

    But a short story demands focus. You could write a story that’s very concerned with things like greening the deserts of the world with lies. Or heroic scientists giving their all to understand not just why this happened but what further cosmological upheavals it might herald. And hey, if you want to write that story, knock yourself out.

    This story restricts itself to another set of concerns that the change in the world enables examining. Can “love” be objectively true? What if you could be absolutely certain you are loved? What if you could be absolutely certain you love someone? What problems would that solve for you, and at least as importantly, what problems wouldn’t it solve? And how, if you were absolutely determined, could you still hurt yourself?

    The story’s answers are: Yes, love can be objectively true. Knowing you are loved, and love, would solve some things, but decidedly not others. For instance, it is established as a fact about the world that Michele does indeed love her brother. This makes Matt’s situation harder, rather than easier. Meanwhile, the best way to hurt yourself turns out to be cowardice: not saying what you are afraid to have proven or disproven. The story is about Matt trying, mostly successfully, to overcome cowardice.

    Setting the themes in a family drama is brilliant. Because so much of family comity depends on people not saying things that, if anyone uttered them allowed, everyone would have to acknowledge as objectively, intolerably true. The story literalizes that dynamic. I don’t at all want to erase the gay specifics of the narrative – that would be unjust – but the story is not “message fiction” whose purpose is to impress upon us that “gay love is real.” The story certainly takes it as read that gay love is real, but the story doesn’t have a message; it has themes: the power and danger of speaking truly; the comfort and damage of holding the truth back; the limits of our ability to believe benign truths about ourselves when we’ve become invested in other people’s lies about us.

    I am perfectly willing to believe that people like Ang Lee have managed to vivify themes this powerful and this powerfully. I love Ang Lee! But nobody else’s work detracts from “Water’s” achievement for me.

  4. @BrianZ “Then there are non-technical problems – like how to organize broad community consultation and avoid all of those messes.”

    None of those, and especially the non-technical problems you mention at the end, are *problems with EPH*. Exactly none. Those are problems with puppies. Nobody else is calling for publisher boycotts or organized voting.

    Why do you keep pretending that any of these issues have something to do with the EPH proposal?

  5. @BrianZ “Really guys… your spittle laced fury is kind of wasted at this point. I mean… you really should be holding some of your outrage back for 2016 when we do this again.”

    Well, Brian, there’s one of the people with whom you want to have a discussion, confessing that he has not learned anything about morality and will be voting for a slate again next year.

    Persuade him to enter into an open discussion for the good of fandom! We’ll wait here.

  6. @Kevin Standlee

    Am I right in thinking it takes two or more members to ask for the data to be released? Do those members have to be attending or can they be supporting?

  7. @Red Wombat: “…and you end up picking a cross between a loofah and a baseball bat.”

    Now I really want to see what that looks like.

  8. Edit: Oops. Misread a comment about our ELoE visitor.

    Comment: Now that these threads are half as long, I can actually get to the end of them!

  9. @Peace

    Ah, so it’s a neuroscientist who slipped in those anti-climate change dog whistles.

    Just wanted to pop in and say that I’m not sure why Bob pointed out Tedd, since he was moderating the panel, “Alien Minds: How They are portrayed in Science Fiction” at that time. He didn’t have anything to do with the Climate Change panel, which is in itself a “personal request panel” by a handful of engineers/scientific types (some of whom work for energy companies and some that work on renewable energy/green research) for the simple reason that they enjoy debating with each other about it, and figured that it might be entertaining to do it in front of an audience.

    But as far as Tedd goes (or Robert Hampson), he pretty much sticks to neuro/bio sciences.


  10. Nate —

    you really should be holding some of your outrage back for 2016 when we do this again.

    I think the Puppies have demonstrated adequately that one can always find fresh outrage, or recycle the old.

  11. I value Brian Z’s contribution here. The folks piling on are just showing themselves for the bullies they are. The bingo card nonsense is particularly bad; these folks should be ashamed. Take a step back.

  12. picklefactory:
    @Red Wombat: “…and you end up picking a cross between a loofah and a baseball bat.”
    Now I really want to see what that looks like.

    We described it as ‘sofa-pillow-size’ zucchini. (The next size up is ‘dugout canoe’.)

  13. @Derek: “Just wanted to pop in and say that I’m not sure why Bob pointed out Tedd, since he was moderating the panel, “Alien Minds: How They are portrayed in Science Fiction” at that time.”

    I pointed out the Science GOH and a science panel as two aspects of the same event. Peace observed that Tedd’s Puppy-nominated essay also talks about climate change, and does so in a manner consistent with the denialist theme of that panel.

    To be utterly blunt on the subject, I believe that the presence of a “man-made climate change is a hoax” panel on a con’s science track is an insult to the actual science panels, in the same way that a “smoking doesn’t cause cancer” presentation would be an insult to other presentations at a health conference. It casts doubt on the integrity of the entire track.

  14. Meredith:

    Not sure if Yama is alauda.

    They have radically different IP numbers. Everyone who thinks that proves anything, raise your claw.

  15. @Meredith “Not sure if Yama is alauda.”

    Hmm. That would be odd. I was under the impression that alauda considers us to be the anti-VD ‘side’ and approves of that.

    I don’t remember Yama commenting before, but I’d bet folding money it isn’t Brian. Perhaps another drive-by puppy from VD?

  16. @Mike Glyer ETA & Maximillian

    I wouldn’t normally wonder, only I’m pretty sure alauda goes by yama elsewhere. If the IP addresses are different it must just be a coincidence.

  17. Re: barbecue: Anyone up for a File770 expedition to Arthur Bryant’s next year?
    (A few years ago when Worldcon was in San Antonio, Moshe Feder and I rented a car and spent most of a day on a road trip to Lockhart, TX for bbq meals at Smitty’s and Kreuz Market. Around the same time, Scott Edelman was making a pilgrimage to Franklin Barbecue, in Austin)

  18. @Morris Keesan

    I think you want tomorrow’s thread. 😉

    (Also that sounds awesome and I am totally going to be sulking in England about missing it (but still happy for anyone going!))

  19. Ah, I didn’t realize that’s what was being referred to. And I’m guessing that the line

    Scientific theories change all the time:
    In the 1970’s, scientists predicted global cooling. In the 1990’s and 2000’s it was global warming, in the 2010’s there’s again talk of cooling.

    is the reason for the eyeroll? Seems pretty tame to me, but then again I’m not that heavily invested in the argument. Especially considering that the piece itself has nothing to do with Climate Change/Global Warming with the exception of that one throwaway line. But again, no biggie to me. Neuroscience is his bag anyway, not earth sciences.

    As for the panel, we’re at a difference of opinion there. A Fan led panel at a Science Fiction convention as a debate of one of the largest scientific controversies out there? Why not? My middle school daughter recently had a class debate on the exact same thing, so why not grown adults? Sure it’s a controversy created and fueled by politics, and largely silly, but it’s also not in a forum where you can get CE units or write it off as a work expense. They go to a convention for fun, and if they have fun by verbally sparring in a scientific debate over something like that I say let them. The audience would be filled with (for the most part) highly intelligent people that can make up their own minds.

    And if someone shakes their head and rolls their eyes they can ignore it and go to the next thing, which would be the “NASA Update” with Les Johnson.

  20. Nate: “I see he is making shit up again. EPH is designed to stop VD (or any other slate, but RP was the catalyst) gaming the nominations after 2016, nothing more, nothing less.”

    This is a fake quote. No one here said this. It was posted by one minion on VD’s blog, who made these false attributions to commenters at File770:

    “I ended up putting all the puppy nominees below no award except for the BDPs, where I arbitrarily chose to disregard the puppies altogether.”

    “EPH is designed to stop VD (or any other slate, but RP was the catalyst) gaming the nominations after 2016, nothing more, nothing less. The only Torlings that exist reside inside VDs own deluded imagination.”

  21. @JJ

    All of those quotes are on page 4 of the comments for this post. Google didn’t find any of them for some reason.

  22. @Derek: “As for the panel, we’re at a difference of opinion there. A Fan led panel at a Science Fiction convention as a debate of one of the largest scientific controversies out there?”

    That’s a bit disingenuous, isn’t it? Calling a panel run by the con’s founder “fan led” and labeling a 97% consensus position a “scientific controversy” stretches credibility a bit further than I consider reasonable.

    It’s far-right politics dressed up as science, and putting it on the science track disrespects Les and the others who deal in actual science.

  23. Actually, no. It is a controversy, it just happens to be one that most people think is a settled non-issue. It is still a debate for those interested, I just don’t happen to be one since I’m perfectly willing to go along with the consensus of those who are much more knowledgeable about it than I.

    As for it being led by the founder of the convention, so what? He’s a fan, as much as the other people on it were. Should he not be allowed to participate?

    And I would imagine that Les was probably in the audience, along with a large number of other people interested on both sides. From what I’ve heard it tends to be a very lively and entertaining panel.

    But again, it’s a difference of opinion. You seem to feel very strongly that something like that should not be brought forward as a potential for debate in a track like that, and it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I’m not interested, I’m not going. More power to them.

    I was merely wondering why a neuroscience professor was being lumped in with a climate change panel.

  24. Meredith: All of those quotes are on page 4 of the comments for this post. Google didn’t find any of them for some reason.

    Ah, thanks for that, my bad. I’d looked for them in the thread pages but couldn’t find them, and a Google search didn’t find them, either.

    I’m sort of mystified as to why the commenter at VD’s blog thought they were especially worthy of condemnation — it’s not as if “Torlings” actually exist, VD’s delusions are pretty well documented, and it’s not as if they didn’t already know that there are a number of people who are putting all slate entries after “No Award” as a protest against slates (a perfectly ethical and acceptable choice).

  25. There’s a pro-Puppy calling himself Yama? Where is he? I’ve got a little surprise in store for that guy: THE CLAMPS.

  26. Maximillian: I was under the impression that alauda considers us to be the anti-VD ‘side’ and approves of that. I don’t remember Yama commenting before, but I’d bet folding money it isn’t Brian. Perhaps another drive-by puppy from VD?

    Meredith: I wouldn’t normally wonder, only I’m pretty sure alauda goes by yama elsewhere. If the IP addresses are different it must just be a coincidence.

    Yes, it’s a drive-by Puppy, no doubt hoping to get in a dig at alauda while they’re busy defending Puppy Brian.

    While same/similar IP addresses can be an indication of something, different IP addresses aren’t really an indicator of much, given the easy accessibility to a multitude of anonymizing functionalities.

  27. @JJ

    I think they’re supposed to prove that we’re A. Obsessed with Beale (two of them mention him), B. Hypocrites (voting some stuff under NA and not everything) and C. Liars (Torling’s do so exist… In their imagination). Probably also D. We’re all horrible SJWs.

    They don’t prove much of anything, really.

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