Category Archives: uncategorized

How Mad Genius Club Banned Me

Mad Genius Club, the joint blog of notable Sad Puppy activists such as Kate Paulk, Dave Freer, Amanda S. Green and others, banned me. There’s nothing special about that, of course. Blogs can ban commenters they don’t like for any reason, and that’s fine. Nobody has freedom of speech on other people’s websites.

If that was the whole thing, I’d be just slightly amused, but there’s more (and I must admit that I’m giggling a bit). They went through the trouble of writing a blog post about the incident. Naturally, I’m humbled by the attention of this bunch of professional writers, but I cannot resist commenting on their statements briefly.

I also have the screencaps of my offending comments, and reading them alongside the mad geniuses’ explanations is rather funny.

In case you didn’t go through the link to read the whole thing on Mad Genius Club, here are some of the highlights:

Unlike other sites, we don’t take glee in banning people and we bend over backwards to avoid doing so. We give warnings and then we warn again. In all the years of MGC, I can count on one hand — and still have fingers left — the number of people we have banned.

However, we have learned over the last few years that whenever we come to Hugo time, we get a few folks who come over with the sole purpose of condemning anything that doesn’t have to do with Fandom. We anticipated it would happen when the Dragon Awards were announced and then when the winners were named. What we didn’t anticipate was that one of the prime suspects would continue to ignore the warnings and then accuse us of doxxing them because we told that person that the only way they would be allowed to continue posting here is if they posted under their real name.

Yes, this person came back and accused us of trying to dox them.

Yes, that person’s comments have been deleted because they were told that was what would happen if they posted again under an alias.

I don’t have access to all (or most) or my deleted comments, but I guess these last few comments are enough to demonstrate how I “condemn anything that doesn’t have to do with Fandom”.

In the MGC post post All Hail the Dragon! Jason Cordova wrote (after complimenting the trophy’s design): “I can’t wait to see the final tally numbers of just how many people actually participated in the selection and voting process.”

The comment thread looked (and still looks) like this:

all-hail-the-dragon01

When the Dragon Awards were given out and voter figures were not released, there were a couple of comments that have since been deleted:

spacefaringkitten
September 5, 2016 at 2:36 pm
Aaaaaaaand did we see the numbers? Nope.

Amanda
September 5, 2016 at 4:32 pm
[…] either use your real name and quit the concern trolling behavior pattern (you show up on all the Hugo/award threads and hardly anywhere else, you derail with either irrelevant or marginally relevant comments, and you’re way the hell light on facts, even when what you say is technically correct) or quit commenting here. Your call. […]

spacefaringkitten
September 5, 2016 at 10:45 pm
Whoa, trying to doxx people who disagree with you is not cool.

It’s your blog, of course, and it’s your right to prevent people from voicing opinions differing from yours if that is what you want to do. I don’t want to disturb people’s safe spaces and can stop commenting.

However, I have tried to state my opinions respectfully and politely here, even when other commenters have called me names and hurled abuse around.

“Derailing” the discussion with “irrelevant” comments is a bit confusing accusation. Releasing the voting numbers was explicitly discussed in the post I was commenting on. I said that I wasn’t sure they would be released and was told I was trying to smear the awards or something. Well, now they haven’t been released and to the best of my knowledge will never be. If you have different information about the matter, I’ll happily admit I was mistaken.

Well, now, I’m the first to admit that “trying to doxx” is probably too harsh a term to use in this context. After all, MSG people were not about to release my personal information without my consent, only demanding that I provide it.

Disagreeing with Sad Puppies can fill your social media with all kinds of garbage, though, and that is not something I’m interested in seeing in my personal accounts. For example, just today a dude called Thomas Monaghan tweeted me this out of the blue:

That doesn’t bother Spacefaring Kitten, but I can live without my real-life friends and family seeing this sort of nonsense. That’s why I’ll have to respectfully decline MGC’s offer and refrain from commenting there in the future.

So, that’s what went down, basically. But there’s more in today’s Mad Genius Club post. I’ll quote it below and add comments there.

 

Here’s the thing. When this person showed up, casting aspersions and making thinly veiled accusations against the Dragons, I did some checking. With only a very few exceptions, they had only commented on Hugo-related posts. This person — because it isn’t hard to find out who they are — is someone who does not tolerate what they see as dissenting opinions on their own social media pages. This is a person who has attempted, and on occasion, succeeded in having people kicked out of cons for being wrong-thinkers. I could go on and some of the others here may.

I have commented on Hugos and Dragon Awards, true. That’s about it as far as facts go in this paragraph, I guess. Kicking wrong-thinkers out of cons, huh? I’m sure I’d remember that. My social media is not in a language they understand, so I have my doubts about their knowing what opinions I tolerate there or not.

However, here’s the thing. It takes a lot to get a bunch of writers to get together to discuss what should happen on a blog, even a joint blog. The fact that this person took the majority of us out of writing and work to do just that says a lot. So, before you see it on Vile 770, yes, we did delete comments here. This was done after warnings — which you can find still in the comment sections on at least three recent posts. Did we like doing it? No.

We want free discourse here. As writers, we hate silencing discussion. But that isn’t what happened here. There was no discussion. There were thinly veiled attacks on a new award and why? Because it didn’t go the way certain parts of Fandom apparently thought or wanted it to. It’s not enough that they have turned the Hugos from a fan award, something it was founded as, to a Fan award. Now these folks are trying to tear down a new award because it let everyone vote — without paying for the privilege to do so.

Riiiiiight. I did guess right whether the Dragon Award voter numbers would be published or not, but this is a bit much, isn’t it. I have to say I didn’t realize I was tearing down a new award with the comments that were quoted previously in this post. 😀

So there it is. A very infrequent commenter was warned and chose to ignore the warning. That person then chose to use inflammatory comments to accuse us of something we were not doing, specifically of doxxing them. That person is no longer welcome at MGC unless and until they follow the rules as set out first by Dave and then reiterated by several others of us. But to accuse us of doxxing, when we are asking nothing more than to post under a real name, a name many of us already know, is disingenuous. We are not the ones with malicious intent.

Well, no matter how hard the MGC people try to trick me to doxxing myself, it is not something I plan to do, so I guess I’ll just have to turn down that offer.

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Voting for the Hugos

I’m saving my final Hugo ballot here as a reminder for myself of how I voted and a handy collection of links to all my separate posts about the finalists. What this is not is a call for other voters to vote the same way I did.

Some preliminary remarks:

  • There is a No Award option, and I intend to use it in many categories, either as the first choice or somewhere down the preferential steps. I think that if there’s something on the ballot I feel isn’t good enough to be year’s best in SFF, it should be placed under No Award or left off completely (in that case No Award should be the last thing you vote for).
  • There has been (and there probably will always be) some confusion about how the No Award option actually works when you write something under it and leave something off the whole ballot, and what is the best way to vote under this somewhat wacky (although undoubtedly very fair and robust) tranferable votes system. The details can be discussed at lenght (and Kevin Standlee is the man to go to if that interests you), but the best solution is to always assign a number for all the finalists. That maximizes your influence, even though the order of the last couple of candidates seldom makes a difference.
  • I’m not going to write all Rabid and Sad Puppy nominees below No Award, which would have been the solution that people like Steve Davidson of Amazing Stories, Deirdre Saoirse Moen and countless other big genre names have been advocating. I respect their reasoning but I can’t push myself to do that to Lego Movie, no matter what. I think that the best way to send the anti-slate message is supporting the E Pluribus Hugo rule change. Only attending members can vote for it in the Business Meeting though, so all I can do at the moment is rave about it in the Internet. Which is what I’m doing here.

Best Novel

  1. Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
  2. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
  3. The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu
  4. Skin Game by Jim Butcher
  5. No Award
  6. The Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J. Anderson

Ancillary Sword ended slightly ahead of Goblin Emperor due to the intelligent space opera sensawunda. Addison’s novel was a treat as well, even though the passive protagonist seemed to succeed in everything a little too easily. It’s a well-written feel-good book, whereas I — the sinister person that I am — would have wanted to see some feel-bad as well. The Three-Body Problem by Chinese author Cixin Liu was an interesting and enjoyably alien read, but the hard SFnal technical expositions were at times a little too much. Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden novel Skin Game is in every way adequate but not a memorable book. I don’t mind seeing any of the first four finalists win, but The Dark Between the Stars was too tedious and, frankly, badly-written, in my opinion.

Best Novella

  1. No Award
  2. “Big Boys Don’t Cry” by Tom Kratman
  3. “Flow” by Arlan Andrews, Sr.
  4. “The Plural of Helen of Troy” by John C. Wright
  5. “One Bright Star to Guide Them” by John C. Wright
  6. “Pale Realms of Shade” by John C. Wright

It’s a pity I didn’t have the time to write about these monuments to human achievement before the voting deadline, but I may go back and do that.

Best Novelette

  1. No Award
  2. “The Day the World Turned Upside Down” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt 6/10
  3. “The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale” by Rajnar Vajra 4.5/10
  4. “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium” by Gray Rinehart 4/10
  5. “Championship B’tok” by Edward M. Lerner
  6. “The Journeyman: In the Stone House” by Michael F. Flynn 1/10

It was a tough call between No Award and Olde Heuvelt, but in the end I didn’t feel like he earns a Hugo only because the rest of the ballot was taken over by mediocre-to-weak Puppy works. There are so much better novelettes out there, even though “The Day the World Turned Upside Down” is superior compared to the other finalists.

“Championship B’tok” post seems to be missing, but that was just another case of a novel excerpt packaged as a novelette. Sheesh, why bother nominating something like that for Hugo?

Best Short Story

  1. No Award
  2. “Totaled” by Kary English 5/10
  3. “A Single Samurai” by Steven Diamond  3/10
  4. “On A Spiritual Plain” by Lou Antonelli 2.5/10
  5. “Turncoat” by Steve Rzasa 2/10
  6. “The Parliament of Beasts and Birds” by John C. Wright 0/10

Best Related Work

  1. No Award
  2. Letters from Gardner: A Writer’s Odyssey by Lou Antonelli 2/10
  3. “The Hot Equations: Thermodynamics and Military SF” by Ken Burnside 1.5/10
  4. “Why Science is Never Settled” by Tedd Roberts 1.5/10
  5. Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth by John C. Wright 0/10
  6. Wisdom from My Internet by Michael Z. Williamson 0/10

This was an awful collection of unrelated and uninteresting texts. In other categories (even the ones where I’m ready to leave the award on the shelf this year), I still feel that I got something out of the reading experience. Not here.

I seem to have contradicted myself when I first described Wisdom from My Internet as “the shittiest unrelated drivel in the history of Hugo Awards” and later Transhuman and Subhuman as “the crappiest Hugo Awards nominee I’ve come across so far”. It’s a close call, but Williamson takes the Worst prize.

Best Graphic Story

  1. Sex Criminals Volume 1: One Weird Trick 9/10
  2. Saga Volume 3 9/10
  3. Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal 8/10
  4. Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery 5/10
  5. No Award
  6. The Zombie Nation Book #2: Reduce Reuse Reanimate 4/10

Best Dramatic Presentation: Long Form

  1. Interstellar
  2. The Lego Movie 9/10
  3. Edge of Tomorrow 8/10
  4. Guardians of the Galaxy 7/10
  5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (4/10)

I never came around to reviewing Interstellar — a great movie I saw last year and have only vague but extremely fond memories of — but I guess everybody has seen it and has an opinion already, so another Interstellar review is just a waste of web space. I think it’s probably the best science fiction movie of all time.

Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form

  1. Orphan Black: “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried” 8/10
  2. Doctor Who: “Listen” 8/10
  3. Game of Thrones: “The Mountain and the Viper” 8/10
  4. Grimm: “Once We Were Gods” 6/10
  5. The Flash: “Pilot” 5/10

This was a terribly close three-way race for the first place, but this time I decided to root for Orphan Black.

Best Editor: Short Form

  1. No Award
  2. Jennifer Brozek
  3. Bryan Thomas Schmidt
  4. Mike Resnick
  5. Vox Day

Too many important names are missing and that’s why I’m voting No Award.

Edmund R. Schubert has withdrawn, so I left him out. Brozek and Schmidt are first here because they had interesting things to say in an interview on Adventures in SciFi Publishing podcast. I don’t know much of author Mike Resnick’s editing chops, but I imagine he is not on the ballot because of them but due to what happened with the SFWA Bulletin some time ago.

Best Editor: Long Form

  1. Sheila Gilbert
  2. Anne Sowards
  3. Jim Minz
  4. Toni Weisskopf
  5. No Award
  6. Vox Day

Ranking novel editors feels a bit absurd, but here we go.

Best Professional Artist

  1. Julie Dillon
  2. Nick Greenwood
  3. No Award
  4. Alan Pollack
  5. Carter Reid
  6. Kirk DouPonce

Dillon is last year’s Hugo winner and very good at what she does. Greenwood’s work wasn’t bad.

Best Semiprozine

  1. Lightspeed Magazine
  2. Strange Horizons
  3. Beneath Ceaseless Skies
  4. Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine
  5. Abyss & Apex

All well worth reading, in my opinion. The first three are extremely good and on another day their order could have been different.

Best Fanzine

  1. Journey Planet
  2. Tangent SF Online
  3. Elitist Book Reviews
  4. No Award
  5. The Revenge of Hump Day

Journey Planet is easily the most interesting of these publications. Black Gate would have been able to put up a fight here, but they chose to withdraw because of Puppy-related embarrassment.

Tangent SF Online and The Revenge of Hump Day were probably on the Puppy ballots as a sort of payback for, respectively, the public outcry following Tangent’s umm… let us say fatherly review of the Women Destroy Science Fiction issue of Lightspeed and the disinvitation of Tim Bolgeo (the guy behind The Revenge of Hump Day) as a Fan Guest of Honor in Archon after accusations of racism. However, I chose to place Tangent second and well above No Award, because I think all venues in which short SFF fiction is discussed are important.

As far as I can see, Tangent’s short fiction reviews are quite good, even if the editor’s attitudes smell a bit aged. Take a look at their 2014 Recommended Reading List, for example. Tangent lists noteworthy stories in four categories (0, 1, 2 and 3 stars), and I couldn’t resist counting that together all the 14 Puppy finalists get four mentions and one star. In contrast, the five short story nominations I made myself (none of which made the final ballot, obviously) collect three mentions and eight stars. The Tangent seems like a useful resource for finding the sort of fiction I’d enjoy, and I plan to take a look at some of the three-star stories I haven’t read yet.

There was nothing terribly amiss with Elitist Book Reviews either, even though they seem to generally like books that I don’t and I found their practice of discussing recommended age and levels of offensive language, violence and sex amusingly over-protective. You don’t really have to be 16 to be able to read a curse word, do you? However, they’re number three.

Best Fancast

  1. Galactic Suburbia Podcast
  2. Adventures in SciFi Publishing
  3. Tea and Jeopardy
  4. Dungeon Crawlers Radio
  5. No Award
  6. The Sci Phi Show

The Australian Galactic Suburbia Podcast is the most interesting podcast here and I’ve listened to it occasionally since I discovered it last year. I like the opinionated hosts and sheer geek enthusiasm — may they live long and prosper. Adventures in SciFi Publishing is more like an actual radio news program and it covers a lot of ground with different guests. It’s quite professional thing for a fan effort. Other podcasts I don’t have much to say about and I don’t really enjoy listening to that sort of stuff, but I don’t hold that against Tea and Jeopardy or Dungeon Crawlers Radio. The Sci Phi Show is shameless Christian propaganda.

Best Fan Writer

  1. Laura J. Mixon
  2. Jeffro Johnson 6/10
  3. No Award
  4. Cedar Sanderson 3/10
  5. Dave Freer 1.5/10
  6. Amanda S. Green 1/10

I discussed this category in the Mixon post.

Best Fan Artist

  1. Ninni Aalto
  2. Elizabeth Leggett
  3. Steve Stiles
  4. Brad W. Foster
  5. Spring Schoenhuth

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

  1. Wesley Chu
  2. No Award
  3. Kary English
  4. Jason Cordova
  5. Rolf Nelson
  6. Eric S. Raymond

Wesley Chu is great author, and the only Campbell-worthy person in this bunch.

Jeffro “GURPS-disadvantaged people ruin SFF” Johnson

Category: Fan Writer
Blogs on: Jeffro’s Space Gaming Blog & Vox Day’s Castalia House
Slates: Rabid Puppies & Sad Puppies

Reading Jeffro Johnson was an interesting and even SFFnal experience. I mean, one of the most enjoyable aspects of science fiction and fantasy is that it has the capacity to offer alien experiences and viewpoints.

Most likely I disagree with Jeffro Johnson on a wide range of topics, but unlike the three Mad Genius Club bloggers who are competing with him for the Best Fan Writer Hugo, Johnson makes a better job at explaining his views. He is also mainly interested in science fiction and fantasy instead of waging a culture war against “social justice warriors” which is more than a welcome change after wading through the polemics of Dave Freer, Cedar Sanderson and Amanda S. Green.

The most striking thing that put me into pondering mode was actually only an offhand remark about George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. Johnson opined that only “a freak show can result” if you have as story’s protagonists “a bastard, a dwarf, a cripple” et cetera, and it is this feature that makes Martin’s epic message fiction.

For me, that’s very alien (and thus fascinating) logic. I always thought that having characters “with the equivalent of a hundred points or more in GURPS disadvantages” makes the Song of Ice and Fire world more realistic and enjoyable. Every living person I know is a constellation of unique disadvantage points if you want to use those terms. Martin manages to bring that real-life complexity to fantasy and renders much of the epic fantasy that came before him unbearably obsolete as far as the characters are concerned.

There are other aspects in his work that one can certainly object to, but I consider characters one of the strengths of Song of Ice and Fire. Johnson disagrees and is disappointed when, for example, “a rather touching origin story” is given to a repugnant character (The Hound, in this case). Conversely, I have always had trouble with suspending disbelief when people seem to already be chaotic evil when they emerge from their mothers’ wombs, so to speak.

So, in general, Johnson and I like different kinds of stories (he likes, God forbid, Rzasa’s “Turncoat”). However, he manages to enthuse about the exact same part of Zelazny’s Nine Princes in Amber that I found most compelling: the protagonist blinded and being thrown into jail for years (and the emotional significance of cigarettes). It was nice to notice some details such as that.

Too bad Johnson’s main focus is on role playing games — which is a field I’m not terribly interested in and have no clue as to whether his insights are revolutionary or not — and being nostalgic in a way that dismisses most modern SFF. Still, it’s a nice read and he may be able to beat No Award if I’m in a good mood when I send my votes in.

Score: 6/10