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.