The Walkies Dead 6/8

aka Dr. Sad Puppy: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Slate

John C. Wright, Vox Day, Eric Flint, Celia Hayes, Tom Knighton, John Scalzi, Tom Doherty, Irene Gallo, D. Jason Fleming, David Gerrold, Cedar Sanderson, Dave Freer, Adam Lawson, Peter Grant, Chris Gerrib, Joe Vasicek, Abigail Nussbaum, Martin Lewis, Lis Carey, Lyda Morehouse, Pluviann, and Alexandra Erin. (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day Nigel and Dex.)


John C. Wright

“Irene Gallo”  – June 8

I had no idea she had this opinion of me, or so much contempt for the books she adorned so skillfully.

My father in law, may he rest in peace, was a Jew serving in the US Military during World War Two in the European Theater. In fact, he won a Purple Heart medal for wounds to his hands he received while liberating a Nazi death camp. His unit was standing about idly, troopers on one side of the wall, ragged prisoners on the other, waiting for the carpenter to arrive with tools to tear down the planks, but in a fury of impatience he did it with his bare hands, like a superman. He turned down the award, thinking others whose wounds were from the enemy deserved it, not he. That is the kind of man he was, an odd mixture of towering ego and meek humility.

Irene Gallo should have been penning me polite notes of congratulation on receiving an historically unprecedented number of  awards for the prestigious Hugo Award, and rejoicing that any victory for me or for Mr Anderson (who would be receiving his first ever Hugo for his life’s work producing over 50 bestsellers) would reflect well on our main publisher whom we both loyally serve, Tor Books.

Instead, Irene Gallo just said I was a member of the barbaric and racist National Socialist totalitarian political movement that my family fought, suffered, and shed blood to expunge from the earth.

What is the honorable thing for me to do, dearest readers?

I am not asking what is in my short term fiscal interest, which is not my sole, nor even my primary, motive.

More to the point, what is the honorable thing for you to do?



Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“SF war to the knife” – June 8

Let them threaten. What are they going to do, continue to not buy books from Castalia House, from Baen, and from independents? Are they going to keep not reading what they repeatedly proclaim to be terribly written bad-to-reprehensible works without ever having read them? What are they going to do, have the Board vote me out of SFWA again? Are they going to continue not giving Nebulas to John Wright, and Sarah Hoyt, and Larry Correia, and Brad Torgersen? The reality is that we have the decisive advantage here because we have long supported them…..

Back in April, Larry Correia and I, among others, encouraged everyone to leave Tor Books out of it. We made it clear that our problems were with certain individuals at Tor, not the organization itself. But as Peter Grant points out, Irene Gallo’s comments, to say nothing of Moshe Feder’s and John Scalzi’s (now that the organization has bet its future on him, Scalzi is relevant in this regard), appear to indicate that we were wrong and our problem is with the organization as it is presently comprised after all.



Eric Flint


Words matter—something you’d expect any professional in publishing to understand, even if their specialty is art work. Calling someone “extreme right-wing” when you immediately tie that to “neo-nazi” is disingenuous at best. The transparently obvious purpose is to blend “extreme right-wing” with “neo-nazi” in the minds of the readers. The problem is that terms like “extreme” and “right-wing” are inherently vague and the one term in the sentence that is not vague—“neo-nazi”—is wildly inappropriate.

It’s not even appropriate applied to the Rabid Puppies. The two most prominent figures in that group are Theodore Beale (“Vox Day”) and the author John C. Wright. I have been severely critical of Wright and will continue to be, but I have seen no evidence that he either belongs to, is affiliated with, or even has any significant relations with any member of a neo-Nazi organization. The situation with Beale is perhaps murkier, because some of his statements certainly resonate with those made by neo-Nazis. But I have seen no concrete evidence in his case either that would support the charge of being a “neo-nazi.”

And applying the term to the Sad Puppies is simply slander, pure and simple. I have no objection to calling either Brad Torgersen or Larry Correia “right wing,” because they are—and say as much themselves. If you want to add the term “extreme” because it makes you feel better, so be it. For whatever it’s worth, coming from someone who has seen extreme right-wingers a lot more up-close and personally than I suspect Irene Gallo ever has, I think applying the adjective to either Brad Torgersen or Larry Correia is not accurate. If we can descend into the real world, for a moment, what both men are is political conservatives with a libertarian slant who are also devout Mormons. (I mention their religion simply because, as with most religious people, it does influence their political views at least to some degree.)

But leaving aside the issue of “extreme,” suggesting that either of them is a “neo-nazi” or anything remotely close is just disgusting. And don’t anyone bother protesting that Gallo didn’t actually make that charge directly since she did, after all, distinguish between “extreme right wing” and “neo-nazi.”

Yes, I know she did—with the clear intent of smearing the two together. This is the sort of rhetorical device that Theodore Beale loves to use also, when he insists he doesn’t “advocate” shooting girls in the head for wanting to get an education, he just points out that, empirically and scientifically speaking, it’s “rational” for the Taliban to do so.



Celia Hayes

“Still Not Finished With Sad Puppies” – June 8

Oh, yes – outraged science fiction fans had had fun with this resulting thread. And who can blame them? Four sentences which manage to be packed full of misrepresentation and a couple of outright lies; the voicing of similar calumnies had to be walked back by no less than Entertainment Weekly when the whole Sad Puppies thing first reached a frothing boil earlier this year. Now we see a manager of some note at Tor rubbishing a couple of their own authors, and a good stretch of the reading public and a number of book bloggers … which I confidently predict will not turn out well. I have not exhaustively researched the whole matter, but tracked it through According to Hoyt and the Mad Genius Club, where there are occasional comments about anti-Sad/Rabid Puppy vitriol flung about in various fora. I would have opined that Ms. Gallo’s pronouncement probably isn’t worst of them, but it seems to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, coming as it does from an employee very high up in Tor management. People of a mild-to-seriously conservative or libertarian bent, are just sick and tired of being venomously painted as – in Ms. Gallo’s words – “right-wing to neo-nazi” and as “unrepentantly racist, misogynist and homophobic,” when they are anything but that.




Tom Doherty on

“A Message from Tom Doherty to Our Readers and Authors” – June 8

Last month, Irene Gallo, a member of Tor’s staff, posted comments about two groups of science fiction writers, Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies, and about the quality of some of the 2015 Hugo Award nominees, on her personal Facebook page. Ms. Gallo is identified on her page as working for Tor. She did not make it clear that her comments were hers alone. They do not reflect Tor’s views or mine. She has since clarified that her personal views are just that and apologized to anyone her comments may have hurt or offended…..

Tor employees, including Ms. Gallo, have been reminded that they are required to clarify when they are speaking for Tor and when they are speaking for themselves. We apologize for any confusion Ms. Gallo’s comments may have caused. Let me reiterate: the views expressed by Ms. Gallo are not those of Tor as an organization and are not my own views.  Rest assured, Tor remains committed to bringing readers the finest in science fiction – on a broad range of topics, from a broad range of authors.



Irene Gallo commented on her May 11 Facebook post:

About my Sad/Rabid Puppies comments: They were solely mine. This is my personal page; I do not speak on behalf of Tor Books or I realize I painted too broad a brush and hurt some individuals, some of whom are published by Tor Books and some of whom are Hugo Award winners. I apologize to anyone hurt by my comments.



Vox Day in email – June 8

A good first attempt by Mr. Doherty, but it’s not even a windbreak.

Gallo is so clueless she didn’t even properly apologize, let alone  grovel and plead for her job.

Too late now.



Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“An unapology, unaccepted” – June 8

I don’t know about the rest of the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies she called right-wing extremists and neo-nazis, or the authors she described as writing “bad-to-reprehensible works”, or everyone she called “unrepentantly racist, misogynist, and homophobic”, but as for me, I’m not hurt. So why is she apologizing for nonexistent events she hypothesizes rather than her rank unprofessionalism, her shameless bigotry, and her attack on the right two-thirds of SF/Fdom? Especially when she still hasn’t informed us whose works are bad and whose are reprehensible.

I don’t want an apology. I don’t expect an apology.

I expect a resignation.



D. Jason Fleming on Doing Slapstick In The Kingdom Of The Blind

“Irene Gallo, Unrepentant Bigot” – June 8

This, as I pointed out in the reply pictured, is not an apology.

It is a passive-aggressive insult: “I’m sorry you’re so stupid that your feelings were hurt when you didn’t understand what I was really saying,” more or less.

She does not apologize for impugning the characters of a very large number of people. She does not apologize for impugning authors who work for her employer, in particular. She does not apologize for her immaturity in prancing about demonstrating that she’s not part of a tribe she hates. She does not apologize for her bigotry in any way, shape, or form.

She only apologizes for the feelings of people who might have been hurt by what she said.

What she said, then, must still stand.



Tom Knighton

“Tom Doherty address Irene Gallo controversy” – June 8

…Not mentioned was that she was promoting a forthcoming book from Tor written by Kameron Hurley, started off with trying to antagonize the Puppies, and then ramped it up when someone asked what she meant.

This colors her comments as being in her professional capacity as creative director for Tor and associate editor for, which is something that seems to be repeatedly missing from many of the comments from Tor or Gallo’s supporters.

Yes, they may have been her personal comments, but the context gives a very different impression.  I suspect that what Doherty is trying to do here is to put some distance between the growing perception that Tor, as an entity, is hostile to Puppies.  We’ll see how that pans out….

Now, as for Doherty’s comments, it’s worth noting that now Tor has officially gone on record as saying that the Puppies aren’t racist misogynists who only want to see white men get awards, which is a narrative that just won’t freaking stay dead.  Maybe now it will.

Once again, I won’t be holding my breath.

Interestingly enough, had Irene Gallo said something against gay marriage instead, the parties that are now saying, “What’s the big deal?” would be calling for her head still. Meanwhile, a number of us are satisfied with Doherty’s response.  I’m not sure you can count me in that group just yet, but I’m at least willing to listen to what Tor as an entity has to say going forward…so long as it’s Doherty doing the talking.



David Gerrold on Facebook – June 8

The Worldcon is not a cage match. It’s a party.

It’s a gathering of the tribes. It’s a celebration. It’s an opportunity to hang out with old friends and make new ones. It’s a party.

I intend to go to the party and have a great time. I intend to do what I can to make sure the people around me are having a great time.

Now, let me add this part.

A lot of people are upset about a lot of different things this year. This year, more than usual. Some people have even expressed their concerns about the possibilities of disruption or confrontation.

Okay, yeah — I can understand the concern.

But I intend to be there for bridge-building and fence-mending and any other appropriate metaphor for healing and recovery.

And I encourage/request/suggest/advise/invite everyone else to attend with the same goals of having a good time and helping others to have a good time too.

This is our party. Let’s make it a great one. Let’s have it be a party where everyone feels welcome. Everyone. That’s my commitment to this year’s convention.



John Scalzi on Whatever

“Weekend Updatery and Miscellaneous, 6/8/15”

On a (very) tangentially related note, Jim Hines did some yeoman work over the weekend doing a quick early history of the Sad Puppies, using their own words to help make the picture more clear for the confused, which at this point could be everyone. Jim somewhat mercifully skates over the part where Theodore Beale makes the Sad Puppies his arguably unwitting tools for his own purposes (i.e., the “Rabid Puppies” slate, aka the “Let me just use the Hugos to promote my own little not terribly successful publishing house here” slate), but it’s otherwise pretty comprehensive, and a good primer.

It’s not escaped notice that I’ve been slacking on my Hugo/Puppies commentary recently, but honestly at this point there’s not anything new for me to say. It’s a low-information movement begun in craven entitlement, with a political element tacked on as a cudgel, taken over by an ambitious bigot, and I’m sorry for the several excellent people I know who have gotten wrapped up in this nonsense one way or another. That’s pretty much where I’ve been on it for a while now. When I have anything new and useful to add, I’ll make note of it.



Cedar Sanderson on According To Hoyt

“Trust and Loathing – Cedar Sanderson” – June 8

The Sad Puppy campaign for the Hugo Awards is such a little thing, when you look at it. Run by fans, for fans, and yet… And yet it became a nationally aware movement, with opponents who defamed good men without a second thought in media outlets, even to the point where the media was forced to backpedal as they had gone too far in their snapping, snarling rush to mangle the puppies. In SFF fandom it seems everyone is reeling in disbelief and confusion over what happened and why. Politics in minor scale has been with fandom from the beginning. What is it about now, to bring this over-the-top reaction to something that has been done before?

Why has there been such a backlash of feeling and vituperation against the sad puppy movement? What is it about this relatively small campaign of voting, done legally and very openly, that leads people to scream, stamp their feet, and lie on the floor weeping and pounding their fists against whatever they can reach? Comments on the campaign have ranged from repugnant, to calling for the ‘puppies’ to be interned in concentration camps.



Dave Freer on Mad Genius Club

“Communication, subjectivity” – June 8

I hate being right when I make unpleasant predictions. I still hate the idea of a boycott, because – as I will explain in this authors have few and poor choices. Still, this goes too far, breaches their own rules,the Macmillan code of conduct:

The exercise of good judgment is still expected from employees at all times. • Could this conduct be viewed as dishonest, unethical or unlawful? • Could this conduct hurt Macmillan – e.g., could it cause us to lose credibility with customers or business partners? • Could this conduct hurt other people – e.g., other employees or customers? • Would I be embarrassed to see this conduct reported in the newspaper?

It goes beyond the bullying we’ve come to expect and mock from them. I have written to (Code of Conduct compliance) asking what steps they’re going to take.

I urge you to do the same if you don’t want the reaction from this hurting your favorite Tor author. I think it fair to give them time to respond, to deal with this sepsis. Let’s see what they do about it. If it is not adequate I am afraid I will have to join the boycott of any Tor author who is not either a Sad Puppy, or who does not speak out publicly against this (which is very hard on authors, and that makes me angry and sad, but eventually you have to stop just hoping they’ll leave you alone.) and encourage my readers to do the same. The company did not make a fortune from me – maybe 50-100 dollars a year. It won’t break them, but I won’t support someone who abuses me and many friends who are better people than I am. As I point out below, publishers get a lot more of a book’s money than the authors. You’d think not badmouthing readers would be common sense.



Adam Lawson

“Screaming into the fire” – June 8

You can count me in on boycotting Tor as long as Irene Gallo works there.

I’ll accept being called a lot of things; “wrongfan” is one of them. Neo-nazi isn’t.

The Nazis and Neo-Nazis are examples of some of the worst things humanity has to offer. Comparing people to those monsters over a disagreement on an award for fiction books is heavy-handed. Refusing to back down when you are told how wrong you are is obnoxious, and there’s no room for obnoxious in my life or lending any support toward it. Let’s just cover a few basic reasons that Gallo is the wrongest person on the internet: ….



Peter Grant on Bayou Renaissance Man

“An open letter to Tom Doherty of Tor Books” – June 8

Mr. Doherty, with the greatest possible respect to you as an individual:  until Tor publicly dissociates itself from the outrageous positions taken by the individuals I have named (all of them), publicly rebukes those concerned, and takes steps to make sure that no such statements are ever again made by senior members of the company, I shall be unable to believe any assurances that their views are not those of Tor.  Actions speak louder than words – and so does the absence of actions.  All Tor has offered is words.  It’s time for actions.  What is Tor going to, not say, but DO about the situation? – because unless and until it does the right thing, others are going to do what they believe to be necessary and appropriate under the circumstances. There is very little time left to address these issues before this situation gets out of control.  For the sake of all of us in the SF/F community, I hope Tor uses it wisely.



Chris Gerrib on Private Mars Rocket

“Puppy Bites Woman, Pictures At 11” – June 8

So, Irene Gallo, an employee at Tor, said something negative about Sad and Rabid Puppies on her personal blog while promoting a Tor product. The CEO of Tor issued a statement making clear that Gallo was speaking for herself personally. Vox Day demands Gallo resign. Yet when Brendan Eich resigned Mozilla over something he said, Vox was all Stand Your Ground! and Don’t Give In to Your Critics! In short, Tom Doherty did exactly what Vox told Brendan Eichs to do, yet Doherty is wrong, per Vox. I’m shocked, shocked I tell you.



Joe Vasicek on One Thousand And One Parsecs

“An open letter to in reference to Irene Gallo” – June 8

I am writing to withdraw my short story, “The Curse of the Lifewalker” (submission id: 55c13821ebd3) from the slushpile effective immediately. In light of the highly unprofesional recent behavior of Ms. Irene Gallo, an associate publisher of your organization, I cannot in good conscience support or be associated with



Pex Lives: A Doctor Who Podcast

“Pex Lives and Eruditorium Press Presents the Vox Day Interview” – June 8

Phil Sandifer talks to Vox Day, the writer and editor behind the Rabid Puppy/Hugo Awards controversy, about the relative merits of John C. Wright’s One Bright Star to Guide Them and Iain M. Banks’ The Wasp Factory.



Martin Lewis on Strange Horizons

“2015 Hugo Awards Short Fiction Shortlist” – June 8

It is clearly these latter three stories that the Puppies are concerned we, the voters of the Hugos, have been missing out on. English and Diamond are writing filler of the sort that is ten-a-penny in the periodicals of the field and has sometimes even made the ballot of awards. Antonelli, Rzasa, and Wright, however, are spreading the Good News. Why come up with a premise for your story when there is only one premise that matters? What the Puppies fail to understand is that they haven’t been shunned because of prejudice, rather they’ve been talking to themselves. Now, having created a bully pulpit for themselves, it becomes clear that they don’t have anything to say.



Lis Carey at Lis Carey’s Library

“Wisdom From My Internet, by Michael Z Williamson” – June 8

It’s not witty, informative, or in any way entertaining. Fatally for a Best Related Work Hugo nominee, it’s not sf-related. The tone of it can pretty fairly be deduced from the fact of it’s publisher: Patriarchy Press.



Lis Carey at Lis Carey’s Library

“Best Fan Artist–Brad W. Foster, Elizabeth Leggett, Ninni Aalto, Spring Schoenhuth, Steve Stiles” – June 8

Spring Shoenhuth: I see two lovely selections of jewelry, and an image to which my initial reaction was “What the heck?” On further examination, the “What the heck?” image was produced for Loncon 3, for the Retro Hugos, and I think I’d like it much better at its original size. And of the three, it’s the one that best fits my perhaps limited ideas of “fan art.”

Ninni Aalto: Two fantastical caricatures that are definitely “fan art.” They look to be quite skilled, and, for me, sadly, they just don’t do it. I expect the reaction to that statement, from many, will be variations of “Why NOT?” No defensible reason; they just don’t.

Elizabeth Leggett: Three truly lovely images. I just don’t see what makes them “fan art,” specifically, though.

Brad W. Foster: Three images, unambiguously fan art, and I like them.

Steve Stiles: Three images, unambiguously fan art. And I love them. I just really have fun looking at them. They make me smile.



Pluviann on The Kingfisher’s Nest

“Turncoat – Steve Rzasa” – June 8

At this point the story has really betrayed itself as MilSF, because it chooses romance over realism. History shows us again and again that courage, tenacity and heroism are no match for superior training, tactics and weapons. The Celts lost to the Romans; the American Indians lost to the United States. Irrational tactics do not win against logical battle plans.

So there are two options that the story could have taken – either the constructs are wrong, there is an underlying logic in the human plans and the constructs for some reason cannot see it; or the constructs really are superior and the humans lose. The first is an interesting story about the limits of AI, and the second is a very interesting story about what it means for humans to have intrinsic value in a world where they contribute nothing useful. Sadly the story doesn’t pursue either of those avenues, and the construct is persuaded by Isaiah 29.16 to serve those who created him.



Lyda Morehouse on Bitter Empire

“Hugo Puppery Disappoints” – June 8

With all of that, only two “Puppy Books” remain on the ballot: Kevin J. Anderson’s The Dark Between the Stars and Jim Butcher’s Skin Game, the fifteenth book in his popular Dresden Files series.

Despite the wonky way in which they arrived on the ballot, I was not automatically predisposed against either Butcher or Anderson. I’ve heard a lot of great things from friends who enjoy the heck out of the Dresden File series. Meanwhile, Kevin J. Anderson is a household name among longtime Star Wars novels fans (including me).

I have to admit, however,  I went into both of these books hunting for that clue, the hint as to why the Puppies picked these guys over all others. Guess what? Neither of them disappointed and I figured out why they were beloved by the pups by the second chapter of each of their excerpted novels.

Anderson’s…wow, okay, I wanted to like Kevin J. Anderson’s book. It’s got this great title, The Dark Between the Stars —  heck, that’s just COOL — and his acknowledgements are all about how this book is meant to be a love song to all the great, rip-roaring science fiction adventure novels he grew up on.

Okay, sounds great. I’m so in. Bring it.

I think I maybe made fifteen pages before I quit.



Alexandra Erin on Blue Author Is About To Write

“I am officially retiring the Sad Puppy Book Reviews as a regular feature” – June 8

I may bring it back if any of the major players says or does something that is both egregious and a relatively new specimen of troll logic, but for now I think it’s run its course.





691 thoughts on “The Walkies Dead 6/8

  1. Mike Glyer at 11:01 pm:

    Soon Lee: “File 770, that hive of ____ and literacy”?

    Can’t think of a good word to fill in the blanki.


  2. If anyone wants a vampire book to blow your mind, try Peter Watts’ “Blindsight.”

    It not only has biologically plausible vampires, the old-fashioned predator kind that scare you shitless simply by looking at you, it has a plot that roughly translates to Cthulhu in Space meets the Alien Mother by way of a consciousness mindf**k. Be warned though: it’s NOT an easy read. It’s dense and chewy and you have to take it slow, or you won’t understand what’s going on.

    I loved it, but the adage about “mileage” definitely applies.

  3. Cally: (Thinks about explaining the 137 fans Tuckerized in the book. Pauses. Thinks about ducking.)

  4. (And that’s without even getting into the strawman liberal baddies and the hah hah global warming isn’t happening and we need to burn ALL THE COAL plotline.)

  5. @May Tree
    “Ack! Wait! It’s not a vampire novel primarily. It’s an alternate history.”

    That would have been perfectly fine, but I checked Amazon and the publisher refuses to sell me a copy. 🙁

  6. Oh, I know; but they all came across as California fans. There was no Minneapolis or Chicago fan culture displayed at all; it was like fandom was completely homogenized. Badly.

  7. @Mike Glyer: “A hive of puns and literacy….”

    A wretched hive. (Especially when I’m the one making the puns!)

  8. Unfortunately, John M. Ford failed to leave a will, and I don’t believe his family approved of his writing career. And they’re the ones who are his literary executor. Your best bet is watching for used copies.

    Writers: Make a will. At the very least, name an executor for your creative work. Don’t let someone who thinks your genre is trash manage your literary estate.

  9. @aoeu
    Welcome back! You never responded, was that explanation of how different jurisdictions can have different standards for determining libel clear enough? Remember, the time when you were insulting someone’s intelligence but actually understood less about the question than they did?

    Also, from your post, are you sure? –
    “”…voting on a rather generous curve, using No Award in very few categories.”

    Thank you for proving the puppies’ right.”

    I’m pretty sure that Brad would not say his point was that he chose works that needed to be graded on a curve in order to achieve the dizzying heights of mediocrity, and it is unkind of you to imply that.

  10. Cally: Fallen Angels, which sucked SO VERY HARD. Ice forming on puddles at 40 or 50 degrees F. Midwesterners routinely freezing to death at 40F ABOVE zero.

    This came from highly-esteemed SF writers Niven, Pournelle, and Flynn? And it came out in 2002, in the Internet Age, when even the stupidest person is able to easily look up information about the effects of cold temperatures on water and on the human body?

    You’re joking, right?

  11. @RevBob

    “A wretched hive of puns and literacy”

    The Internetz is yours for the day, my man.

    Seriously, that ought to be the tagline of this place.

  12. “File 770, that wretched hive of filk and literacy”?

    “File 770, that ratchet hive of puns and literacy”?

    “Never start anything you’re not prepared to escalate” is almost a personal motto.

  13. @JJ “This came from highly-esteemed SF writers Niven, Pournelle, and Flynn? And it came out in 2002”

    No, 1991. Though I’m fairly certain that water still froze at 32 Fahrenheit even way back then.

  14. Rev. Bob: I’ve been meaning to get to LOW MIDNIGHT for a while, but I’m honestly tempted to put it off until SAVES THE WORLD comes out in… August, isn’t it?

    On the one hand, by then at least all your Hugo reading will be done.

    On the other hand, why wait? Treat yourself! After a hard day in the Wretched Hive of Puns and Literacy[tm], you deserve something nice.

  15. @redheadedfemme,

    Another vote for PeterWatts’ “Blindsight” which is available for free though I was happy to buy a hardcover copy. I also like the bibliography at the end where he cites scientific papers to support his in-novel ideas. Hard science fiction indeed. The sequel of sorts, “Echopraxia” wasn’t nearly as good but it made my nomination ballot for the Hugo.

  16. JJ: Yup. I admit I may have a few details wrong, as it’s been many, many years since I picked it up, but I do remember for sure about water freezing when it was considerably warmer than 32F (that was one of the first times the book met the wall at velocity), and Midwesterners who didn’t have a lick of sense about the cold. Minnesotans and Chicagoans, yet, not folks from southern Illinois who might be forgiven for not having a good warm coat. Oh, and there were glaciers which had arrived so quickly there were cars embedded in them. I got the implication there might have been frozen bodies in those cars, but I don’t think that was stated.

  17. About Watts’ “Blindsight”; it’s a truly excellent book, and I do recommend it very highly, but I will never forget the review that stated that you should only pick it up when you feared you had an excess of will to live…
    Don’t expect rainbows and butterflies, is all I’m saying.

  18. Cally: I do remember for sure about water freezing when it was considerably warmer than 32F (that was one of the first times the book met the wall at velocity), and Midwesterners who didn’t have a lick of sense about the cold. Minnesotans and Chicagoans, yet, not folks from southern Illinois who might be forgiven for not having a good warm coat. Oh, and there were glaciers which had arrived so quickly there were cars embedded in them. I got the implication there might have been frozen bodies in those cars, but I don’t think that was stated.

    JJ: …

    JJ: …

  19. @Nicole: “On the other hand, why wait? Treat yourself! After a hard day in the Wretched Hive of Puns and Literacy[tm], you deserve something nice.”

    I’d like to treat myself, but the author for whom I’m doing editing and ebook layout keeps saying the rest of the book isn’t finished yet – while teasing me with hints and snippets. Then there are the tie-in stories that I suspect haven’t even been started, despite my having prepped the covers months ago… so I occasionally take another look at the chapters I’ve got and see if anything could stand some more attention.

    (Brief overview: It’s a college romance novel with a contemporary fantasy element, a lot of sex, and a heap of identity crises. Smutty, but thoughtful about it.)

    Plus, waiting on LOW MIDNIGHT lets me get to some of those other books first. That’s no hardship at all; it just helps me prioritize the TBR a little.

  20. Mike Glyer: And I could use some help with the titles.

    Reminder: Altered Slates still hasn’t been used.

    A Scandal Barkly?
    Heavy Muttal? Muttal Hurlent?
    K-9 From Outer Space?

  21. Rev:
    >>It’s entirely possible I’m wrong about LOCK IN, though; I was paying more attention to the concept than the characters’ genders.>>

    It’ll be interesting to see what you think once you’ve read it.

  22. “Tirechaser’s Song” hasn’t been used either, and that was a great one.

    The Dog-Gone-Award World?

  23. Cally at 12:03 am:

    That’s James Nicoll classic (“Whenever I find my will to live becoming too strong, I read Peter Watts.”) that Watts used for a few years on his site.

    More titles:
    “The Puppy’s Pride: B. Torgersen’s Classic Tail of True Slate and High Oblivious” – William Goldman

    “Vox and the Art of Outrage Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values” – Robert M. Pirsig

  24. I’ve read, I think, four collaborations between Niven and Pournelle. There’s no way I’ll ever read another.

    Lucifer’s Hammer is simply repulsive. Racist, Sexist, and an apologia for every awful thing in Western history (turns out that things like slavery are *necessary* unless and until we develop/recover technology sufficient to liberate us from that scourge). Oh, and it was written in the seventies and so the implications about the authors’ views on the Civil Rights era and feminism are inescapable.

    Footfall is a mediocre and forgettable “summer action movie” that…well, I don’t remember much about the politics in the novel, but a review who does wrote that “In general, if energetic right-wingery offends you, avoid SF in general and Niven and Pournelle in particular. That said, while I remembered the journalist being drowned in the toilet, I had completely forgotten the business where the Right People step in at the last moment to protect humanity from the ravages of elected government.

    Let us walk by the gender politics, eye averted. Likewise, nobody needs to relive the bits about the porn tape or the parts about the struggle to have freedom without filthy dirty license.

    I regret that I did not reread this long enough ago to ask Fred Pohl how he felt about how the book divides the SF writers into military veterans or liberals”

    Mote In God’s Eye is solid, if you can forgive the eye-rolling bits about how stupid academics are.

    Fallen Angels is simply awful.

    And so, well. They may be responsible for many well-regarded novels. They may be important to the field’s history. But of their work I’ve read, none of it is good enough to put up with the baggage that comes along with the authors. Why bother with them when there are so many other authors who are both more talented and don’t routinely punch me in the face?

  25. The hive of Scrums and Literacy

    The Seventh Sealion – From the Lives of Sock Puppets

  26. MaxL: Lucifer’s Hammer is simply repulsive. Racist, Sexist, and an apologia for every awful thing in Western history etc etc etc

    <staple>     <staple>     <staple>
    <kkkkkkkkkkkruuuuuk>     <tape>     <tape>

    Aaaaand… a Hugo Best Novel nominee for 1978<staple> and on my goal list of all eventually-to-be-read Hugo nominees.

    MaxL: Footfall is a mediocre and forgettable “summer action movie”… energetic right-wingery… journalist being drowned in the toilet… the Right People step in at the last moment to protect humanity from the ravages of elected government.

    Aaaaand… a Hugo Best Novel nominee for 1986 <kkkkkkkkkkkruuuuuk>  <tape>   and on my goal list of all eventually-to-be-read Hugo nominees.


    Dare I ask about Protector (1974) and Inferno (1976)?

    You’re gonna need a bigger roll of tape.

  27. @JJ:

    Actually, I liked Inferno quite a bit. IIRC, the sequel suffered a bit, but what stuck with me about the first book was the identity of Carpentier’s guide, and the message that carried about redemption, atonement, and forgiveness.

    Uh-oh. I said the M-word, didn’t I?

  28. NelC: There’s a sequel to Inferno?

    It appears there is. It’s called Escape From Hell, and it was published in 2009.

  29. Oh, and — Spoiler Alert: don’t look it up on Wikipedia if you wish to remain unspoiled — but the list of real-life people whom Niven and Pournelle have consigned to Hell in the second book is certainly informative.

  30. Re. Affirmative Action
    This is way past the date of expiration, but the debate was in this thread and for completeness sake I want to add it here. I’d prefer not to continue the debate, but if anyone wants, perhpas the most recent roundup would be more appropriate.

    There is an excellent example of “affirmative action” in todays roundup:
    The reviewer stopped reading both books because they failed to check a particular box. Which is her right to do. At the same time, it somewhat invalidates the review as review of the work if one does not check whether the particular problem in question is subverted or addressed later on and if one does not distinguish author from character.
    Then Lyda Morehouse repeats Torgersen Affirmative Action fallacy in reverse, when she declares Butcher and Anderson were not “chosen for their awesome, but because their books skew misogynist and homophobic”. Fortunately for her, there is no label which can henceforth be pinned to her for making that argument.

  31. mk41: There is an excellent example of “affirmative action” in todays roundup. The reviewer stopped reading both books because they failed to check a particular box. Which is her right to do. At the same time, it somewhat invalidates the review as review of the work if one does not check whether the particular problem in question is subverted or addressed later on and if one does not distinguish author from character.

    That’s not “Affirmative Action”. That’s a reader deciding that the threshold for their personal taste had been exceeded and ceasing to read further. Her reviews of these books are not invalidated — because she openly admits she did not finish reading them. She doesn’t render her verdicts by dishonestly pretending she read the books. She tells the reader “I stopped, here’s why, and here’s why I think these works were nominated” — leaving the reader to choose whether or not to accord any credibility to her reviews. Which is, as you point out, perfectly within her rights. And she has been quite open and upfront about it all.

    But this is not an example of “Affirmative Action” — unless you’re going to also claim that all the Puppies who haven’t bothered to read Ancillary Justice or Ancillary Sword (and I know this, because I see them posting comments which make it clear that they haven’t actually read the books) but then deride its value as a work of science fiction because it’s just “gender message fiction” are also committing an act of “Affirmative Action”.

    Is that what you’re saying here? That the Puppies who post derogatory “reviews” of the Ancillary books as “gender message fiction” without having read them are committing “Affirmative Action”?

  32. @full of sound and fury

    The Flying Sorcerers indeed was a puntastic book. I wonder how much was from Mr. Gerrold – I guess most of it since apart from the occasional essay like Man of Steel, Women of Kleenex I tend to find Niven’s output a bit dry.

    I admit I was stupid enough to miss the Purple Magician link until quite late!

    I should read it again one of these days…

  33. Cally : Has anyone seen the glue? I seem to have broken JJ….

    [Poke] [Poke]

    Sheesh… [Sucks air through teeth]. this is going to cost you, squire – you can’t get the parts these days.

  34. I can see why you don’t really want to debate your assertion- that would mean that people might go check the source to see if anything that the author wrote has anything to do with your claims.

    Spoiler alert- No, not so much. She was very clear that she just wasn’t having any fun reading the books. That doesn’t have anything to do with affirmative action.

  35. Many thanks from Craig R. and me for all the good thoughts. He and his pile of new medications continue to do well at home.


    I totally did not put together that City of Stairs is by the same author as American Elsewhere!

    The very one. American Elsewhere is still my favorite of his, though I like Mr. Shivers as well. City of Stairs is amazing for how smoothly he shifts tone, style and genre. It’s a completely different animal than American Elsewhere, but I enjoyed the hell out of it so I hope you do too!

  37. Oh, I know; but they all came across as California fans. There was no Minneapolis or Chicago fan culture displayed at all; it was like fandom was completely homogenized. Badly.

    Despite the silly pseudoscience and the stupid politics in Fallen Angels, one might note that, unlike the Sad Puppies now, Niven, Pournelle, and even Flynn did seem to love fandom and Worldcon. How times have changed.

  38. And here I was hoping for a genereally sympathetic readership for whom I wouldn’t have to spell everything out.
    Anyway, the “affirmative action” here is, that both books very early fail some litmus test and are thrown out. If this happens with some regularity, that is, if different people are doing that to different and the same books then you end up with something than can sloppyly be characterized as affirmative action. In the linked reviews, the first case requires more context, but the second example is just stupid. The character (!) doesn’t even do anything homophobic. Not in any way shape or form. Morehouse then paraphrases a link with “the track record ain’t so good” in which the judgement on the representation of gay rights is simply “not perfect”. Referring to the character, who is meant to be flawed.
    And then Morehouse turns around and declares Butcher isn’t nominated for the awesome but for the “homophobic skew” of which there is no evidence.

    Try, if you can, for a moment to put yourself into the shoes of someone who loves Butcher’s books, nominates him regularly, is a bit baffled that they never seem to make the ballot and then reads the above review. That person is likely to conclude ticking of boxes is more important than a good story, because that is exactly the attitude Morehouse displays.

    Of course the Puppies treating Ancillary Justice the same are no better. Unfortunately, many conservatives have an intense gut reaction to messing around with pronouns and stuff like “chairperson”. They’re wrong to have that reaction, but empirically it is harder for them to go with the flow on Leckie’s all female pronouns and they are – again wrongly – prone to dismissing it as a stupid trick. So they read along a bit, don’t like the “trick”, read some bad reviews from like minded people and then – wrongly – decide the literati like the book for the wrong reasons.

    They and Morehouse above are two sides of the same coin. Except of course that they (or at least Torgersen) get attacked for the implicit racism and sexism in their “affirmative action” charge, while Morehouse gets to cry “homophobic” (which, let’s be honest carries a lot more weight than “gender message fiction”).

  39. mk41 on June 10, 2015 at 5:54 am said:

    And here I was hoping for a genereally sympathetic readership for whom I wouldn’t have to spell everything out.
    Anyway, the “affirmative action” here is, that both books very early fail some litmus test and are thrown out.

    That’s not what she did, but it is the way the Puppies treated “Ancillary Sword”.

  40. “I withdraw my story from your slush pile” is the saddest possible protest. I should’ve pulled it on Poetry magazine back in the day.

    LOL. I think the phrase “I withdraw my story from your slush pile” is going to stick with me for a while. I’m sitting at my desk crying over my keyboard. Too. Much. Funny.

    Joe Vasicek should be designated the Saddest Puppy for that gem.

  41. That person is likely to conclude ticking of boxes is more important than a good story, because that is exactly the attitude Morehouse displays.

    That person is also likely to be semi-literate at best if that’s what they take away from her review, because that’s not what she wrote. Are you saying that people who love Butcher are semi-literate?

  42. Re Neutron Star: to quote from my review:
    I’ve included the dates of initial publication just to highlight how productive the young Niven was. This isn’t even all of the Known Space stories he wrote from 1966 – 1968, just the better ones.

    As I recall, the less good ones ended up in Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven

  43. I had to read Footfall because they destroyed my hometown in it (Bellingham) by launching a Project Orion-style nuclear powered spacecraft. The heroes did that. We thought it was funny.

    Your assessment of it as a summer blockbuster seems pretty dead-on.

  44. mk41: Anyway, the “affirmative action” here is, that both books very early fail some litmus test and are thrown out.

    Huh? Morehouse stopped reading the Anderson because she found the antagonist character to be a stereotypical “female” villain. That doesn’t sound like “failing a litmus test” to me; it sounds like a reviewer saying “this character angered me so much, I stopped reading.” Sort of an “and this is the point at which I hurled the book against the wall” moment, which is a perfectly valid review, in my opinion.

    Your complaint is on more solid ground with the Butcher, because that’s a throwaway scene and as you say the character is supposed to be flawed and capable of some really stupid utterances . . . but if it were my first exposure to Harry Dresden, my response to that scene would likely be something like “Well, that’s dumb.” Would I keep reading? Probably, but it’s difficult to say: I’ve been reading the Dresden Files since the beginning because they are exactly my kind of popcorn reading–but a first exposure, with none of the weight of the backstory? Reviewing an award-nominated book not because I thought it looked fun but because it was nominated for an award I respected? Seemed like a fairly valid response, in that context. Your mileage (obviously) varies, but still: if the review finds something throws her out of the book, she admits it and specifically tells her review-readers what happened to throw her out of the book, I don’t see how it’s “affirmative action.” If the reviewers of Ancilliary Justice had said “the use of the female pronoun annoyed me so badly [for reason] that I couldn’t keep reading” . . . well, fine. (Some probably did say just that; I am not talking about those readers/reviewers.) It’s when they go on to claim that “anyone praising this book is doing so only because of the pronoun trick, because of gender politics/affirmative action” that they lose me.

    Maybe the problem is partly semantic? In my experience, “affirmative action” usually works in the opposite direction–as in, “I’m praising this book [or Other People are praising this book] not because it is good, but because it checks off the right boxes for me [them].” It implies a false assessment of value, not a disvaluing. So maybe you need to find a different way to describe what you are talking about?

  45. It seems to me that stopping reading a book at the first point you are metaphorically punched in the stomach by something awful in it is not much of a litmus test.

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