Monthly Archives: April 2015

Trench Warfare on the Puppy Front

As everyone who follows the Hugo mess closely knows, there have been some new developments during the last couple of days. Sad/Rapid Puppy authors Marko Kloos (best novel category) and Annie Bellet (best short story) withdrew their works from the ballot, and new nominees were put up there in their stead. The decision must have been difficult for Kloos and Bellet, so kudos to them for making it. Their stance is that they don’t want anything to do with Vox Day, and that is something I certainly can respect.

The nominating vote ranges changed again, and some further calculations can be made based on that. Chaos Horizon has done really good work there, and their analysis is worth reading. The number of different Puppy factions can be estimated quite conclusively now. Annie Bellet’s story actually got the biggest share of votes, by the way, and I expect that to become a central talking point for the Puppy advocates — “We only want good stories whatever the writers’ politics are. See how we nominated this liberal socialist woman?” I do give them that it was a good strategic choice and a nice way to play down the political undertones of the whole Sad Puppy enterprise.

Lately, much of the discussion has been back-and-forth about Vox Day. Brad R. Torgersen and Larry Correia have made evasive statements about the Day’s non-involvement in Sad Puppies, but I remain unconvinced. In an older post, I wrote that keeping the likes of him at half arm’s lenght is not far enough, and it still seems to me that there’s really only a quarter of an arm there. The Puppeteers have clearly put some though into how best to get moderates onboard and make it appear like Vox Day wasn’t involved and still run the Puppy campaigns in a concerted way.

Here’s Naomi Kritzler’s take on Vox Day’s involvement, and especially Larry Correia’s comments about how the Sad Puppies slate was put together are quite unambigous. I have seen many Puppies argue that Sad Puppies 3 was only Torgersen’s personal recommendation list, but that seems not to be the case. There has been an informal committee of several people debating how to pull the SP thing off, and Vox Day was involved in some capacity. I may be mistaken, of course, but before taking anybody’s word, I’d like to at least see some kind of proof. George R.R. Martin has been asking directly, how it was all done, and hopefully he’ll get some answers.

There are also other obvious connections between Sad and Rapid Puppies. The similar astro dog badges were designed by the same artist and published at the same time, requiring at least some concerted planning. In one of his book bomb sessions, Larry Correia also plugged the Rabid Puppy stories, so it’s simply not true that they have nothing in common at all.

Torgersen and Correia can write a dozen blog posts about how they disagree with Day on some issues, how they understand why Day rubs people the wrong way and how they wish Day will not mess up with Hugo vote completely in 2016. From where I’m sitting, it looks awfully much like they are still protecting him and steering the discussion into a direction that lets Day do his thing and get away with it. They’re comparing Vox Day to the likes of N.K. Jemisin and Teresa Nielsen Hayden, promoting the idea that harsh, outspoken anti-racism/anti-sexism and harsh, outspoken racism/sexism are somehow just as bad.

At the end of the day, it’s not so important how the Puppy thing was organized, though. If people can come up with enough information to prove that Vox Day was nowhere near Sad Puppy planning sessions, then that’s the truth and I’ll admit I was wrong about it. However, the ideological foundations of the Sad Puppy project remain unchanged: it is (to my mind) an identity political movement based on shady ideas of discrimination against conservatives and leftists taking over SFF. Spiced up with culture war rhetoric, these ideas were easy to sell to their fans, but that doesn’t make them less shady.

Critiquing the underlining assumptions, I think Matthew David Surridge, George R.R. Martin and Eric Flint have pretty much nailed it, and I haven’t seen any Puppy apologists address their reasoning with any success. Correia’s answer to Martin was in fact just a refusal to discuss any of it.

Eric Flint’s piece is newest of the three, and I think he makes a number of very good points about other than Puppy-related issues as well. The SFF industry has changed during the previous decades, and you can question whether the Hugo awards have really kept up with this development. Now that the Puppy fiasco is forcing the fandom to do something about the nominating system, maybe some more radical changes should also be brought to the table to modernize Hugos for the 21st century.


End of the Puppy Monopoly in Short Fic, Plus Some Figures

There have been some interesting developments in the Hugo ballot. Two items were dropped due to eligibility issues, and two new nominees were brought in to replace them.

John C. Wright is no longer the person with the most nominations on the same year, even though he is the first man ever to achieve that. He has five nominations, same as Seanan McGuire in 2013.

More revealing, however, is the effect this change had on novelette category. There’s now one work of short fiction on the ballot that is not from neither Sad nor Rabid Puppy slate, “The Day the World Turned Upside Down” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, published in Lightspeed. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m happy that something from Lightspeed made it, because the magazine has published some wonderful fiction this year and it was a shame nothing got into the ballot. One of the things I especially liked and nominated for Hugos myself is “Cimmeria: From the Journal of Imaginary Anthropology”, a great short story by Theodora Goss. I hope that Heuvelt’s story is as good.

This wrinkle in the system also gives us some further insight into the nomination mathematics. Because the nomination vote ranges were published with the original novelette ballot, we know that the least-nominated Puppy work got 165 votes. My guess is that it was actually Wright’s novelette, because that was only on the Rapid Puppies slate (the other four appeared on both Rabid and Sad slates).

As I’ve said before, it’s a huge number, significantly bigger than 118, the nominating vote count of “Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal last year — and that one got the most nominations then. Admittedly, more people nominated now, and the percentages of Kowal’s and Wright’s stories are roughly the same, about 16%. That’s still an insane number for a fifth story, and that demonstrates quite conclusively why voting blocs are bad for business in a vote like this — a large enough (15% of the voters or something like that) bloc that votes tactically is nearly impossible to beat.

So, there are at least 165 Rabid Puppy minded voters in the Hugo race, and at least 100 more of the Sad Puppy flavor (if we take a guess based on the high end of the ranges in novelette, short story related work and editor short form categories) — probably more, because you can’t have everybody bloc-voting in absolute lockstep and there’s bound to be some dispersing.

Chaos Horizon puts the maximum Puppy influenced vote somewhere in the 360 range that we saw in the novella category, but there were some John C. Wright, Tom Kratman or Arlan Andrews, Sr fans who were not ready to share the love for other works on the slate in different categories.

What about Thomas Olde Heuvelt’s nominating votes? He got 72 votes, 7%. It’s somewhat on the low end really when you compare it to the last year’s list:

  • “Lady Astronaut of Mars”, Mary Robinette Kowal, 118 votes, 16.2%
  • “The Exchange Officers”, Brad R. Torgersen, 92 votes, 12.6%
  • “The Waiting Stars Aliette de Bodard”, 79 votes, 10.9%
  • “The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling”, Ted Chiang, 75 votes, 10.3%
  • “Opera Vita Aeterna”, Vox Day, 69 votes, 9.5%

On the other hand, “Lady Astronaut of Mars” was well-known due to its disqualification the previous year. Aliette de Bodard and Ken Liu are both established professionals with Hugo, Nebula, Locus and BSFA awards undeir their belts. Torgersen and Day were on the Sad Puppy 2 ballot, which helped their novelettes.

72 nominating votes is actually pretty solid for somebody who is not so well-established in the SFF scene, and in a year without obvious hit pieces by high profile writers it should be enough to get you on the ballot. In 2013, it would have been on the high end vote-wise and low-end percentage-wise, but still on the ballot (check out the numbers in Kowal’s blog post). This year, with the slates in the game, Olde Heuvelt’s story didn’t stand a chance without a divine intervention, though. Happily for him and his fans, one just happened.

The novelette category might actually be the first one where all the works are available for the voters (and everybody else) for reading right now for free:

Sad Puppies Losing It

It’s been one week since the Hugo shortlist was released, and many pixels have been spilled in the process of discussing what just happened and what should be done next. For everybody wanting to stay informed, the summary posts in Mike Glyer’s File 770 are an invaluable resource. Here are the five published so far.

My own position has been quite eloquently presented by, among others, the critic Matthew David Surridge and the Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Margin.

Surridge, who was unknowingly on both the Sad Puppy and Rabid Puppy slates and refused a fan writer Hugo nomination, discusses the ideas behind Brad Torgersen’s Sad Puppy manifesto blog posts in his long long essay. Despite the length, it’s well worth reading if you haven’t done that already. Surridge really makes an effort to take apart Torgersen’s reasoning as rigorously as possible.

Torgersen hasn’t come up with this himself, of course. He is building on the foundation of two previous Sad Puppy campaigns put together by Larry Correia. There have been some shifts in focus and in the distance kept to the more toxic personalities, but the bottom line has stayed the same: Social Justice Warriors (whoever they are — he is not very clear on that) are running the Hugo show, suppressing everything they don’t like, putting political message in front of the storytelling, complaining how wrong sorts of fans are having fun wrong and so on and so on.

The groundwork outlining all of this was mostly done by Correia, and George R.R. Martin addressed the concerns raised by him in a series of posts in his Not a Blog. In addition to debunking much of what Correia is saying, he also discusses his own history with the Hugo awards and gives us a glimpse of what the award hustle looks like from the perspective of a business insider. Here are the five parts. Correia has responded to Martin’s first three posts, but I think the fourth one was where Martin delivered the most definitive punches, so the exchange may still continue.

Brad Torgersen, on the other hand, went ominously apocalyptic and vaguely remorseful in his blog post “Science Fiction Civil War” (which he has since taken offline):

Now there is only the war. A war which nobody wants, and yet nobody can avoid. All the rancor and chaffing and preening distaste for “those who are not like us” . . . flooding forth in a wave of bitter rage that is enabled from behind the immunity and protection of ten thousand keyboards.

I have the sense that this thing is going to change us all in some way, forever — those of us who make some part of our lives in this country called science fiction. Now splintered and divided.

What’s left for a man now is to do what his heart, and God, tell him is right.

And it will be up to the future to decide if I am a hero, or a villain. Perhaps I am both?

Some other Sad and Rabid Puppies don’t seem to be on top of their game either.

Hugo-nominated novella author Tom Kratman had this to say in the comments to one of Torgersen’s recent posts (to somebody who expressed some doubts about his military career):

Tom Kratman says:
April 9, 2015 at 9:23 pm

Can you read a uniform? Go to my picture. Look over the left pocket. That is a Combat Infantryman’s Badge.


Tom Kratman says:
April 9, 2015 at 9:58 pm

And, pussy, since you’re questioning my veracity, can I have your name and address so we can “talk” about that?

Tom Kratman says:
April 9, 2015 at 9:59 pm

Or you can come here, to Blacksburg, Virginia. Why, I’ll even loan you a decent gun. Pussy.

Tom Kratman says:
April 9, 2015 at 10:03 pm

Heeerrrrreee pussypussypussypussypussy.

Tom Kratman says:
April 9, 2015 at 10:05 pm

Hey, anyone know who that pussy is in real life?

Tom Kratman says:
April 9, 2015 at 10:14 pm

Pussy, you’re not worth a discussion. You’re a cockroach. Roaches are only to be stepped on.

Tom Kratman says:
April 9, 2015 at 10:16 pm

Too late for an apology, fuckface,

Tom Kratman says:
April 9, 2015 at 10:29 pm

I’ll keep you posted on my progress in identifying you, pussy.

I know I made the promise earlier to read (or try reading) everything in the Hugo voter packet, but I’m not sure mr. Kratman is a person whose literary talents I want to learn more about.

Granted, maybe one shouldn’t be too hard on the Puppies. Torgersen was dishonestly described as a misogynist and racist in Entertainment Weekly. There are of course some problematic undertones in going on and on about how well-received SFF by women and people from diverse backgrounds is received so well only because of affirmative action mindset, but I think it’s best to leave it at that.

The Puppy crowd surely is anti-feminist and anti-progressive, but there’s no point in demonizing it too harshly, especially the Sad Puppy side of it. I believe there are genuine enthusiastic fans there and they have the same right to be voting Worldcon members as the rest of us. Of course, I still disagree with their anti-feminist and anti-progressive agenda, and consider it rather ridiculous.

They don’t admit they’re anti-anything, of course. They are just pro good storytelling without messagey anti-fun shit that is written and celebrated by ignorant “Perpetually Outraged, Searching For Offense, Quick to Accuse Racism/Sexism/Homophobia/Privilege/Patriarchy, Holier Than Thou, Politics Before Fun, Unholy Cross Between Communists and Puritans, Twitter Lynch Mob Forming, Career Sabotaging, Social Justice Crusaders” (as Larry Correia so eloquently puts it) who happen to always win the Hugos.

I can see that Larry Correia may have been jeered at by some people in the SFF fandom because of his public image as a Conservative arms-loving guy writing simple shoot-out adventures. That’s feasible.

The thing I have trouble with is understanding how anybody in their right mind can think, for example, that a Hugo winner like the Charles Stross novella Equoid is a specimen of “message fiction”. What could be more anti-political than a fucking Cthulhoid unicorn, right? We can think that leftist and liberal Stross is politically either spot-on or complete loony, but despite that we can still agree on his story about a Cthulhoid unicorn being a funny, harmless little story, right?

Puppy spokesperson Patrick Richardson said in a comment to my Master List of Unlikeable Things About Sad Puppies that I missed the political message Equoid is forcing down my readerly throat because I agree with him. He didn’t specify what political content is there in Equoid to agree with.

I asked the same thing of another Sad Puppy voter in Mad Genius Club. She verified that, yes, Equoid is messagey in her opinion. Sadly, she has not yet given any reasoning for such a statement.

The same question has been raised in Brad Torgersen’s blog. Vox Day was the only one who cared to answer there:

VD says:
February 5, 2015 at 12:42 pm

“And what is left-wing in Equiod, for example?”

The cheerful immersion in quasi-child molesting tentacle torture porn. Good Lord, you’ve rendered yourself so haplessly devoid of sense that you can’t even recognize the sickness of the quagmire in which you’re wallowing.

Science fiction used to be Boy Scouts in Space. Now you wouldn’t dare to leave the average science fiction author alone with a Boy Scout for 10 minutes.

Cheeky nonsensical insults are always nice, but that didn’t help me understand what’s wrong with Equoid, either. (In case you haven’t read it and you’re worried, it’s really not tentacle torture porn. Read it.)

The one thing missing from the SFF discussion that’s raging around the Interwebs is any actual SFF. I think it would be interesting to look closely at some stories and discuss them instead of throwing around accusations of message fiction winning all awards because TruFans and critics like tedious left-wing reading and are allergic to fun.

So tell me, what is the political bias you see in Equoid? What is it in the story, specifically, that makes you see it’s there?

Tactical Voting Stats

Niall Harrison had posted the statistics table of Hugo nominations online. Let’s take a closer look.

The numbers show clearly how effective the Rabid Puppy campaign — and the assisting Sad Puppy campaign — were. I’ll focus on the short fiction categories which the Rabid/Sad Puppies managed to sweep completely.

Last year, a work in the short fiction categories would need 86 (novella), 69 (novelette) or 43 (short story) nominations to make it onto the shortlist. This time the numbers skyrocketed. In all three short fiction categories, the maximum number of nominations a single work got in 2014 would not be enough to even get on the shortlist in 2015.

That means people were voting very heavily for the same few items. The insane number of nominations the works on the Puppy slates got cannot be explained solely by the increase of nominating ballots. Under normal circumstances, the nominating votes are distributed among hundreds of works, because no two fans have the same favorites. That has obviously changed this year, and the numbers are hard evidence of tactical voting taking place.

Because the number or nominating ballots has changed, it’s best to take a look at the percentages:

  • In 2014, the novella which got the most nominations was included in 16,9% of the nominating ballots. This year, it’s 31,2%.
  • In 2014, the novelette which got the most nominations was included in 16,2% of the nominating ballots. This year, it’s 25,9%.
  • In 2014, the short story which got the most nominations was included in 9,1% of the nominating ballots. This year, it’s 19,6%.

There has been variation over the years, but I took a look at the stats of 2013 and 2012 as well, and this is a very dramatical shift.

Consider: One out of three persons, who nominated in the novella category, nominated the same work. One out of four persons, who nominated in the novelette category, nominated the same work.

These kind of numbers are impossible to come by if everyone nominates only what they like. It’s ridiculous to claim that a Tom Kratman novella, an Arlan Andrews, Sr. novella or one of three John C. Wright novellas would be so popular among the Hugo-nominating fans that they would win by a margin like this. Surely, they are not the most visible, well-known or talked-about thing in contemporary SFF. Four of the five novellas were published by an obscure small press run by Vox Day.

I don’t claim that the stories are bad, necessarily. They can be good, for all that I know, but they cannot be that good. It is becoming clearer and clearer that they got so many nominations, because they were on a slate, and because a huge number of people voted only for the slate. As I said before, gaming the Hugos in the nominations phase by voting tactically is fairly easy, so perhaps we were bound to see this happen.

A number of people have made the counter-argument that this is nothing new and Hugos are gamed behind the scenes all the time. Not being a business insider, it’s hard to tell what truth there is in that. Probably something is constantly going on, because awards are things people like to win. These numbers are something new, though, and something obviously has to be done to minimize the power of slate-voting in the future if Hugo awards are to have any relevance at all.

In case you think I made a mistake with the math or with something else, please comment. Cat paws are clumsy with the keyboard sometimes.

Rabid Hugos

Okay. Hugos were announced and it was actually Vox Day’s Rabid Puppies slate that ended on top. I was pessimistic from the start, but this was even worse than I expected, even though I expected it to be bad. It seems like the slightly more moderate Sad Puppies were left with the task of helping Day’s minions secure the spots on the shortlist.

There’s a lot of angry meltdown going on in different quarters of the web, and also interesting discussion on how we can rebuild what was wrecked and go forward. Some rule changes are proposed to counter bloc voting, and hopefully they can do something about it, but that takes a couple of years to happen. More immediately, there’s likely going to be a backlash of voting for No Award instead of the Puppy nominees.

Naturally, Brad Torgersen, Larry Correia and friends are trying to capitalize on the tense atmosphere by spreading out snippets that are meant to show how the old guard of fandom supposedly hates every newcomer and wants to keep them out. Kudos to them for the well-fabricated narrative, but I think one should really take look at why people are upset:

  • Woman-hating, diversity-hating Vox Day came out winner in this year’s Hugo nomination. He has mostly decided who we can give the awards for best works and achievements of 2014 in the field of science fiction and fantasy. In the novella, novelette and short story categories, for example, all the nominees are his picks, which sucks.
  • There’s some proof of Gamergaters being recruited to vote for their slates, in order to piss of liberals, feminists, people of color, people preferring social justice to social injustice and what have you. Not nice.
  • Slate-voting with a large enough voting bloc was proved to be a winning strategy, and it’s bound to happen again. Sad Puppy spokesperson for 2016 has already been decided. That means science fiction fandom is going to be a culture war battleground for some years. That sucks, too.
  • This year’s Hugo awards will be a joke. A lot of fine works will have no chance of being awarded, while the actual winners will not be remembered for their works but for this mess. Doubleplusbad.
  • Some of the puppy-nominated individuals and magazines are starting to wake up. Not all of them apparently knew about the whole thing, even though Torgersen has stated the opposite. On the other hand, others seem to have completely bought what social injustice warriors were selling.

I have had some interesting dialogue with people on the other side of the Puppy barrier, but mostly it’s been… well, not very interesting. In the blog of Hugo-nominated Amanda Green (fan writer category), somebody was countering my bafflement over Michael Z. Williamson’s right-wing and unrelated-to-SFF joke collection’s being on the SP ballot by saying that I should shut up because MZW has been in the army. It’s fascinating, I know.

Conversations are important, however. I don’t think that nearly enough of us opinionated but ultimately friendly SF fans have told the Puppy nominees and the people who banded together to force the complete slate on the shortlist why we think this line of action was the shittiest idea in science fiction of the 21st century. I’m sure that a portion of the 250 Puppy voters hasn’t thought things through and has only listened to what Brad Torgersen has cared to tell them. Call me an optimist.

What happens next, then?

I suggest every living person who cares the slightest bit about the future of science fiction and fantasy culture (and has some money on him/her) buys a supporting membership of Sasquan right now. You’ll get a voter packet so that you can take a look at what is nominated, and then you can decide how you want to vote. That decision will be an important one, and it will determine what is the fandom’s reaction to slate-voting tactics and Tea Party joke collections.


As far as the voting is concerned, I’m not yet sure what I will do myself. Others have already said they are going to put everything on any slate below no award. That’s a a possibility. Another one is giving serious consideration only to works and authors who were on the slate but have renounced Puppy tactics. Yet another is reading everything and giving everything a fair chance, while making it clear to authors and other fans via other means that the way this played out was disgusting. I haven’t made up my mind yet.

My plan is to read as many of the nominees as I can stomach and blog about the experience in this space. Having read the Sad Puppy offerings of last year, I don’t have my hopes very high. On the other hand, everything is possible.

Master List of Unlikeable Things About Sad Puppies

The rumor has it that the infamous Sad Puppy slate by Brad Torgersen, Larry Correia and friends is going to take up a sizeable amount of the places on the Hugo shortlist. I’m neither surprised nor happy about it.

I’m not surprised, because it has been a well-coordinated campaign, and the Hugo nomination process is relatively easy to crack with tactical voting if you have a well-coordinated campaign.

I’m not happy, because–

Well, let me make a list.

1) Voting tactically for art awards is not a nice thing to do.

Voting tactically is a way to maximize your influence in tricky situations where you are in a minority. In political elections, which are about getting the right (or least-wrong) people and parties to power, every sensible person considers the tactical aspects of their voting decisions. In political elections, outcomes have real consquences, so it’s not practical to play nice (especially if that means you lose).

When it comes to art awards, I’m not so sure tactical voting is the right thing to do. Fan awards such as the Hugos are about celebrating the best (=most popular among the voters) genre works and having fun. Open calculation and tactical voting takes the good spirit out of it. I also fear that tactical Sad Puppy voting will result in a backlash of tactical anti-Sad Puppy voting in the future. If the Hugo nomination process becomes a death match between Sad Puppy and Happy Kitten slates, the whole point of the award is lost.

Some people have suggested that encouraging others to nominate a single slate is against the rules. I don’t think that’s the case, though. Bying multiple memberships, ballot-stuffing operations and the like aren’t allowed, but there’s really no way to stop WSFS members voting tactically if that’s what they want to do. It’s certainly unsportsmanlike and nothing good will come out of it, but no rule change I can think of will stop it.

2) Sad Puppies is about anti-liberal, anti-feminist identity politics.

Current Hugo-winning science fiction and fantasy literature, Torgersen thinks,

devotes time to pondering racism and ethnicity problems, gender and sexuality problems, and the doctrines of the academic complaint, as typified by gender studies, racial studies, and certain strains of socialist economic theory.

Puppies feel this is a serious problem: most contemporary SF/F is rotten and that’s the reason why it doesn’t sell anymore. Luckily, Torgersen knows who is to blame: feminists, postcolonial writers, suspicious academic types who think about complex issues too damn much. In another blog post, Torgersen gets poetic when he muses about the sorry state of current SF/F. He describes books which have science fictional covers but end up betraying readers who come look for laser blasters:

A planet, framed by galactic backdrop. Could it be an actual bona fide space opera? Heroes and princesses and laser blasters? No, wait. It’s about sexism and the oppression of women.

A book with a painting of a person wearing a mechanized suit of armor! Holding a rifle! War story ahoy! Nope, wait. It’s actually about gay and transgender issues. Or it could be about the evils of capitalism and the despotism of the wealthy.

Sad Puppy campaigners complain endlessly about message fiction and how it takes all the fun out of SF/F. That’s an interesting diagnosis, because I have trouble seeing what Torgersen et al propose is going on in the contemporary SF/F landscape. If the stuff that beat Sad Puppies last year — Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice, Charless Stross’s Neptune’s Brood and Equiod, Mira Grant’s Parasite, Catherynne M. Valente’s Six-Gun Snow White and others — really tries to force political messages down readers’ throats, I guess I missed that.

The novel category winner was a space opera about galactic empires and AIs with multiple bodies. Does the fact that the protagonist AI had trouble making the distinction between male and female people make the whole novel a piece of message fiction (and what’s the message exactly)? What was the message the Cthulhu-esque unicorn in the novella Hugo-winner was trying to deliver? Sadly, Sad Puppies won’t tell us.

What they do tell us is that feminists and liberals have hijacked the Hugos and us ordinary fans (who, of course, dislike feminism and liberal attitudes) have been marginalized. This is powerful identity politics.


3) Sad Puppies are not telling the truth about what their campaign is about (that being anti-liberal, anti-feminist identity politics)

Here’s the Sad Puppy party line:

We try to get both people and works onto the ballot who are both a) wholly deserving and b) unlikely to ever be there, due to Worldcon’s ever-skewing and ever-more-politicized voting trends.

I’ll have to give them that it’s is an intelligent way of spinning this. Who wouldn’t want to support the underdog?

I have never read Charles E. Gannon or Jim Butcher, but I have no reason to believe that their novels wouldn’t be wholly deserving candidates, that being professional and entertaining novels. If they make it to the shortlist, I’ll read them and then we’ll see if I like them or not.

Same is not true for everything on their slate, though. I have really hard time believing that something like Wisdom from my Internet by Michael Z. Williamson that is up for the Best Related Work Hugo is wholly deserving in anybody’s opinion. The book looks like a collection of jokes from a Tea party mailing list.

Here’s an example:

How did the UN come about? “I have a great idea! Let’s build a forum where tin pot dictators can hate us for being successful, and we pay for the privilege of letting them do it!”

I kid you not.

In the fanzine category, Sad Puppies are supporting Revenge of the Hump Day by Tim Bolgeo. Bolgeo is the guy who was going to be the Fan Guest of Honor in Archon last year. His invitation was cancelled after complaints about crude ethnic jokes in his Revenge of the Hump Day zine.

I’m sorry, but these don’t sound like deserving works to me. Rather, they sounds like works Sad Puppies are supporting, because getting them on the Hugo ballot will piss off people they want to annoy. Making literati heads explode has been their rallying cry in many instances, but lately they have been white-washing the rhetoric.

4) Sad Puppy logic is shaky.

The Sad Puppies campaign of last year was run by Larry Correia, and — according to him — it was a success. Nevermind that Sad Puppy candidates lost in all fiction categories. His logic was that this result proved the evident left-wing/liberal/progressive/Stalinist/anti-fun/whatever bias evident in the Hugos. Sort of shaky, isn’t it?

If you win, it’s because your stories were the best ones. If you lose, it’s because the voters are acting unfairly and your stories were the best ones, actually. This leaves little room for the possibility that perhaps a work by some other nominee might actually be better (=more popular) than a work by you.

I don’t think they should categorically rule out that possibility. We all have our own tastes, but I have to say that stories by Brad Torgersen and Vox Day were some of the most boring (in the case of Torgersen) and awful (in the case of Day) stuff I had read in a long time. As far as the other Puppies are concerned, Larry Correia’s and Dan Wells’s works weren’t that bad at all, in my opinion, but they were still far below the awesome novels and novellas by Ann Leckie, Charles Stross and Catherynne M. Valente.

5) Sad Puppies misrepresent what people say about them.

Nobody has said that fans of commercial science fiction or fans who don’t go to conventions are not real fans and shouldn’t have a say in Hugo vote. However, for some reason that is what Sad Puppies go on and on and on and on about.

It’s not true. You can relax now.

6) Sad Puppies empower misogynists and racists.

It’s no secret that Sad Puppies are playing together with Vox Day. He’s not on the ballot this year, but the Sad Puppies and Day’s Rabid Puppies are clearly a concerted effort with some candidate overlap, similar style astronaut dog badges et cetera. For me, that is good reason for not liking SP3. Keeping Vox Day at half arm’s length is not far enough.

They are also courting Gamergate supporters, and the fishy pro-Puppy Breitbart article was actually written by the Gamergate spokesperson/journalist Milo Yiannopoulos. Dear Sad Puppies, aligning with people whose purpose is to attack feminists and throw women out of the gaming industry is not a way to make me like you or listen to what you say.

Empowering misogynists and racists is not the same thing as being one, though. I don’t believe that it’s fair to call Brad Torgersen or Larry Correia some evil -ist or another. I have seen some of that too.


Addendum: Couple of wrong reasons to dislike Sad Puppies

As an afterthought, I’d like to mention few things to counter the master list above. There’s something likeable in everything, even in Sad Puppies.

a) They want some category reforms

Brad Torgersen has written about wanting to expand the Hugos to include gaming. I think that’s a very good idea. Furthermore, there are other category reforms I’d like to see, such as cutting the editor categories (how are the voters supposed to judge them, anyway), getting rid of the confusing boundary between prozines and semiprozines, doing away with the fancast category and creating one for all podcasts (pro and fan), and so forth. Maybe a Hugo for best anthology would be nice too. In short, I’m in favor of a complete category overhaul.

b) They have brought in some new people

The more Hugo voters, the better. There’s no other way to keep SF culture alive than to get more people committed to Hugos and Worldcons. The types they have brought in might not be people I’d necessarily want to spend time with myself, BUT the fandom should be open to everybody.

Some further commentary: