Tag Archives: Brad R. Torgersen

Unfisk / refisk / fisk²

The fisking of Puppy-advocate Brad R. Torgersen I did a couple of days ago has been the most read post on this blog so far. The numbers are miserably small, of course, if you compare with something a little bit more established than an obscure few month old blog with 15 posts by an anonymous kitten, but let’s just say that the miserably small reader numbers of the fisk post were bigger than the miserably small reader numbers of the other posts.

The natural conclusion is to write another one, especially now that it seems like Brad R. Torgersen hasn’t yet really learnt the things I was trying to educate him about. Instead, he published this rebuttal of a New York Review of Science Fiction editorial by Kevin J. Maroney. I don’t know the guy, but his editorial is not that bad. You can find it bolded in the quotes below.

I don’t know that I have anything particular to add to the specific discussion except perhaps to bemoan the near-total destruction of the short fiction categories this year.

Kary English “destroyed” the short fiction category? Ed Lerner too? Michael F. Flynn? John C. Wright? What and whom, pray tell, would Kevin have preferred on the final ballot? In the short fiction categories? That’s a question worth asking. Has Kevin even read any of the works? The first duty of all reviewers with integrity, is to not judge anything sight-unseen. So I am honestly curious. Did Kevin read all of the short works in the short fic categories, before employing phraseology like “destroyed” in his editorial?

I don’t know what Kevin J. Maroney has or hasn’t read, but some of the Puppy-nominated works are extremely weak, featuring bad writing, uninteresting plots, clichéd characters and the like. Some of them are not short fiction at all but novel excerpts, for God’s sake. Plenty of links to helpful reviews can be found on File 770 roundup posts for those who are interested in what people think about the stories on the ballot.

I have no idea what Kevin would have preferred on the ballot, but I nominated, for example, Matthew Kressel’s short story “The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye Matthew Kressel”, Sam J. Miller’s novelette “We are the Cloud” and Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen’s novella “Where the Trains Turn”. They were all quite amazing, and, in my opinion, certainly more amazing than the Puppy offerings I have read so far. But tastes differ.

If you want to read some quality short fiction published in 2014, I recommend those three works. It would be nice to hear what Puppy readers think of those, in case a Puppy reader happens to read this. And it would also be fun to learn what other non-Puppies nominated.

Okay, there’s one point I feel I have to hammer on. The entire Puppy movement, rhetorically, is based on the idea that the science fiction enterprise has changed tremendously and not for the better, since the fabled Golden Age when all of the Puppies were young.

The sentence above alerts me to the fact that Kevin is not aware of the fact that each iteration of Sad Puppies has taken on a different flavor. Sad Puppies 3 especially, since it’s a different person carrying the guidon this year. At a basic level, Sad Puppies 3 can be accurately described as operational push-back against a small pool of taste-makers getting to decide for all of Science Fiction and Fantasy (SF/F) what’s worthy of recognition with SF/F’s self-labeled “most prestigious award.” It wasn’t about dialing the field back to the Golden Age as much as it was about using the extant democratic process to broaden the extent of the Hugo’s coverage; to include Hugo-worthy works (and authors, and editors, and artists) who’d ordinarily fall into the blind spots. And let’s be clear: the Hugo selection process in 2015 does have blind spots. Such as the consistent bias against tie-in novels and tie-in novel authors; for all definitions of “tie-in” which include, “Books based on universes originating from sources other than literary.” Ergo, games, movies, television, etc.

I think I remember reading quite a few screeds by Brad and others about dialing back to the golden age.

Here’s one example: “We’ve been burning our audience (more and more) since the late 1990s. Too many people kept getting box after box of Nutty Nuggets, and walking away disappointed. Because the Nutty Nuggets they grew to love in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, were not the same Nutty Nuggets being proffered in the 2000s, and beyond.”

Nutty Nuggets is the playful (uhh) term Brad uses for the good, un-subversive brand of SFF. The time frame of the shift in SFFnal sensibilities is a bit off, though, because I think what Brad’s actually describing in the post is the emergence of New Wave that happened in the 60s.

Now Brad is telling us that books with spaceships on the cover not being about manly space adventures wasn’t his point at all — it was about tie-in fiction not getting the trophies. He is right when he says that tie-in fiction hasn’t won many Hugos, of course. Funnily enough, the winner that most clearly can be desribed as tie-in fiction is Reshirts by John Scalzi, and if I’d have to name one work that Puppies actually hate with hateful hate, that would be it. Go figure.

I don’t necessarily think that fiction in franchise universes should be awarded with a Hugo when we can award more imaginative works of fiction, but nevermind that. Let’s assume that the thing Sad Puppies is battling is undue discrimination against tie-in fiction. There may be some excellent works of tie-in fiction going unnoticed, after all. I don’t read it so how would I know? In that case, though, one has to wonder why there isn’t a single work of tie-in fiction on the Sad Puppies slate.

The head Sad Puppy himself, Brad Torgersen, has taken to referring to his enemies as CHORFS, “Cliquish, Holier-than-thou, Obnoxious, Reactionary, Fanatics.” So, yes, the person who is bravely positioning himself as the force that will stop the people who want to change things believes that his opponents are “reactionaries.” This is, apparently, someone whose understanding of words is limited to “what sounds like an insult?”

Here again, I think Kevin has not examined the sequence of events in close detail. CHORF became a necessity once it became clear that Teresa Nielsen-Hayden (among others) was teeing up the outrage machine, in the week before the release of the Hugo final ballot in April. Why a new acronym? Because the SMOFs supporting Sad Puppies didn’t need to be lumped in with Teresa and the other SP3 detractors who were actively building their narrative of affront and apoplexy long before the Hugo final ballot went public. If Kevin dislikes insults, he should come sit in my chair for a month, and get called every name in the book. All for inviting people to the democracy — because inviting people to the democracy is apparently the worst sin any SF/F author can commit?

Later on in the post, Brad makes the case for acting like an adult in this mess. So, I guess the adult thing to do is name-calling people who disagree with you. Agreed, some of those people have also called you names, but any kindergarten teacher can give you advice on how to solve these disagreements more constructively.

Brad didn’t respond to Kevin’s point about the term “reactionary” being used for vague politically/aesthetically progressive mindset, so I’m left thinking Kevin was more or less right. What offensive acronyms the Puppies can come up with isn’t all that interesting, though.

Leading to a broader topic, I’ll point out that the Best Graphic Story category consists of four superb non-Puppy finalists. I’ve also been told the Fan Artist category is a good selection of candidates, though I’m not personally qualified to judge them. These categories mostly escaped unscathed because the slates listed only one Graphic Story nominee and no Fan Artist nominees, apparently because the Puppies didn’t deem them worthy of attention.

Ah, so Kevin’s litmus seems clear: if it was part of Sad Puppies 3, it’s bad. Everything not part of Sad Puppies 3, is superb. Again, sight-unseen? If so, that’s damned shabby of you, Kevin. And you should know better.

It remains to be seen how the SP/RP graphic story candidate Zombie Nation will do against Saga, Sex Criminals and Ms. Marvel. I wouldn’t bet on a black-and-white gag strip about zombies winning, but we’ll see what Hugo voters think about that.

That’s how this works now. There is a small community of people online who are dedicated to inflicting damage on targets of opportunity.

Yes, and some of their better-known exemplars are people such as Arthur Chu, who tried to cram Sad Puppies 3 (square peg) into GamerGate (round hole) and when it wouldn’t fit, he kept pounding anyway; to include labeling me a racist — me, the guy who’ll be interracially married 22 years this year. In this particular instance, Kevin is looking at the gun through the wrong end of the barrel.

You write an awful lot about being a victim. Actually, a good share of your recent blog posts that aren’t interviews of the various Puppy authors are accounts of being a victim, and that brought to my mind what Eric Flint was writing about modern American right’s culture of victimization.

Calling you racist may be unreasonable and Arthur Chu may be an unreasonable kind of guy. That isn’t proof of Sad Puppies being right, though. It also doesn’t prove Kevin wrong.

This group, which I think of as Panzergroup Asshole, is reactionary, virulently anti-woman, and racist whenever it suits them.

Well, again, I have to wonder: which end of the gun is Kevin looking at? I think some of the commentary of people like Chu, and others, has definitely been virulent. Or if Kevin is referring to Sad Puppies 3, I would like to see Kevin qualify the statement. With specific quotes. Kevin’s opinion is 100% fueled by the broken narrative: everything and everyone he doesn’t like (about Sad Puppies 3) is racist and sexist, because (mumble, mumble) and therefore (reasons, reasons) and because Kevin isn’t friends with anyone who disagrees with him, it’s an open-and-shut case.

Kevin is quite clearly referring to GamerGate, not Sad Puppies. As far as the Puppies are concerned, Sad Puppies are quite insignificant, because Vox Day’s Rabid Puppies is the slate that swept the ballot. With Vox Day, you don’t have to read between the lines to find the reactionary, anti-woman and racist stuff.

Their tactics include online harrassment in a variety of forms, identity theft, death threats, exposure private information, SWATting , and whatever else they can do without actually leaving their chairs.

To repeat myself in triplicate: which end of the gun is Kevin looking at? Nobody on Sad Puppies 3 has been harassing anyone; though some of the people on Sad Puppies 3 — and myself and Larry Correia in particular — have been harassed a great deal. Maybe I should uncork my little screenshot store of all the nasty, petulant, histrionic, mean-spirited, false, slanderous, and downright disgusting things which have been said against Sad Puppies 3, the contents of the slate, myself, Larry Correia, and many others? Kevin’s right, about people being jerks. I just don’t think he realizes (based on the above) who the actual jerks have been.

Kevin still isn’t speaking about you and your Sad Puppies, and being called names on the internet still doesn’t make you right, even if you have the screen captures.

GamerGate is just one instance of PA, a cadre of PA wrapped in a protective layer of the clueless and the easily duped. The ideas are dumb; the threats are real and terrifying. And if there is one lesson that Panzergroup Asshole wants to convey, it is to live in terror at the possibility of attracting the attention of Panzergroup Asshole.

Okay, my knowledge of GamerGate is limited, because I am not a gamer in the way that people (in this decade at least) identify as gamers. Most of my video games I like, are all old. And I don’t put much time into them these days, because whatever time I don’t spend doing military duty or my civilian job or family stuff or church stuff, is dedicated to writing books and stories for publishers like Baen, Analog magazine, and so forth. But even I can tell that Kevin’s image (in his mind) of what GamerGate is, is so one-dimensional, that it’s almost not worth considering. Kevin is saying “GamerGate!” the way he might say “Klu Klux Klan!” and it’s because (again) there’s nobody in his life (I infer from the nature of his editorial) to disagree with him, or give him a fuller picture. GamerGate (at this point) is so big, complex, convoluted, and replete with various “sides” that to simply spew “GamerGate!” and think that’s the end of it . . . demonstrates no depth of knowledge on the issue.

Everything that actual living people are involved in has various sides and is complex. Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure that Klu Klux Klan had various sides and was complex. That’s no excuse for racism and lynchings, however, or bombarding Zoe Quinn, Brianna Wu and Anita Sarkeesian with rape and death threats, or doxxing them, or driving them out of their homes, or producing games where you beat them to death et cetera et cetera. That’s what some enthusiastic GamerGaters have been doing.

They are terrorists — they want people, especially women, to be so afraid of drawing attention that they just sit silently.

Golly, you mean like one of Arthur Chu’s minions, who tweeted a fake bomb threat against an establishment where people were hanging out to talk about GamerGate and Sad Puppies 3? Like harassing the establishment’s proprietor with asinine text messages all day long? Now, I am military, so to me a “terrorist” is someone like the Tsarnaev Bros. Guys who literally kill people. I avoid dumbing down “terrorist” because there are literal killers, and then there are people who just like being dicks on the internet.

And when it comes to being dicks on the internet, I think the anti-SP3 (and anti-GamerGate) sides (fuzzy, diffuse, partially overlapping Venn circles) win it going away. Why? Because they believe that being self-righteous flaming rage nozzles (of tolerance!) somehow gets them off the hook for having to behave like rational, adult human beings. Zealotry — even well-intended — has a history of going off the rails. So let’s be totally clear about the nature of the actual problem here. Especially when Sad Puppies 3 was wholly above-board, demanded nothing, threatened nothing, and played clean. We invited people to the democracy. The end. All else is merely rhetorical masturbation.

I’m pretty sure that if Brad got to know one single prominently visible feminist and thery compared notes, he would come to the opposite conclusion about which side is winning the being dicks on the internet contest. Not that it really matters. There are dicks everywhere and dicks are just dicks.

The Puppies deliberately sought the attention of GamerGate. They gathered monsters around themselves and said, “Here is a target which you should attack, because it does not give enough honor to the right kind of people.” And they attacked.

Again, GamerGate (as a label) encompasses so many different people, parties, sides, etc., that I can only speak about the folks who’ve contacted myself, Michael Z. Williamson, Sarah A. Hoyt, etc. That would be the Honey Badger Brigade. Who were spendidly nice to us (on the podcast) and who were all very intelligent, thoughtful, flesh-and-blood human beings who simply wanted to be able to have fun and enjoy what they want to enjoy, without having their recreation politicized by zealots who seem obsessed with “wrongfans” having “wrongfun” according to (mumble mumble crackpot academic theory mumble mumble activist jargon axe-grinding mumble mumble.) The Honey Badgers weren’t monsters. They were like us: tired of being told we’re bad, simply because we won’t fall into line with the doctrine and the ideology being pushed by the zealots.

It would be nice to get one single example of a person who has ever stopped a “wrongfan” having “wrongfun”. Brad spews these terms around at regularly, but there’s never anything substantial there to back it up. “Wrongfans” are quite safe, I think.

I mean, Anita Sarkeesian has pointed out, with clear examples, that a number of videogames have some sexist aspects to them. That’s not censorship or prohibiting “wrongfun” or whatever. That’s just stating the facts — there are games that can be described as sexist. And what’s happened to her? She has been attacked extremely brutally by GamerGaters because (mumble mumbe wrongfan mumble mumble GTA mumble mumble wrongfun mumble mumble). Such nice people.

The Puppies have a number of advantages in their fight. It is easier to attack a broad target than to defend it at every point.

Hey Kevin, is that why you seem to think GamerGate and Sad Puppies 3 are not only indistinguishable, but whole-cloth terrible? Down to the last man and woman? Because you think it’s wrong to attack broad targets?’

Much of the society works on assumptions of commity and reciprocity that the Puppies simply eschew. They don’t care what damage they cause as long as their ears are filled with their own cheers.

Yes, which is why (if you go to the comments section of any of the well-attended anti-Puppy blogs) there is such an echo chamber (cough, excuse me) community of diverse (cough, monocultural) thinkers! Because the only people cheering their own, are the Sad Puppies. Or are we GamerGaters? At this point I’ve had “GamerGate!” spewed at me so often, I think I should just print up a copy of the Vivian James artwork (wherein she’s holding a sad puppy) and say, “Fine, fuck you. If I have to choose the Honey Badgers, vs. some self-righteous zealots who don’t even know what they’re talking about, I choose the Honey Badgers 20 times out of 20.”

Well, why would you have to choose between a nerdy Men’s Right group that has a history of getting kicked out of a convention for bad behavior and “self-righteous zealots who don’t even know what they’re talking about” in the first place? And who those self-righteous zealots are? Arthur Chu? All people who point out, with evidence, that some video games’ representation of women leaves something to be desired? People who don’t like that Vox Day can utilize block-voting tactics to hijack the entire Hugo ballot in many categories?

And even if it is impossible for them to “win” — whatever that might mean — they can still cause a lot of damage even while losing every battle. If the Hugo Awards are left a smoking ruin in their wake, what’s it to them?

The only real way I see the Hugos being a “smoking ruin” is if the CHORFs fulfill their stated pledge to bork the 2015 awards by placing “NO AWARD” at the top of every category; thus no awards will be given. This will be an entirely self-inflicted wound (by the so-called devotees and cherishers of the Hugo) because clearly you have to destroy the village, to save the village. I mean, that’s just good common sense. If you love a thing and think it’s awesome, you absolutely must obliterate it — to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. Because this is what open minds and open hearts do. They destroy something they claim to love, so that something they claim to love can be kept pure. Because the “wrong” people must never be allowed to have it the “wrong” way.

If there is any other way to leave the Hugos a “smoking ruin” this year, I haven’t thought of it yet.

All I know about smoking ruins is that if that’s to happen, Elric the Prince of Ruins will be pleased. Frankly, I don’t think that anything is truly lost in either case. A Puppy-sponsored work getting a Hugo is not the end of the world and there have been weak winners in the past (and maybe all Puppy-nominated works aren’t that weak). No Award winning means that the majority of the Worldcon voters didn’t enjoy the works on the Rabid Puppies slate (plus the two or three additions that Sad Puppies managed to get up there on their own) and/or they weren’t ready to give in to a campaign of tactical voting, and that’s fine too.

I wonder who are the “CHORFs” Brad’s talking about there. Kevin J. Maroney hasn’t been suggesting that you should vote No Award over everything, slate or not. Neither has Teresa Nielsen Hayden, or Steve Davidson, or Anita Sarkeesian, or John Scalzi, or Karl Marx, or Barack Obama. I’ve been following the discussion rather closely and I remember reading one single blog post in which someone said that the voters should do a blanket No Award thing, and I think nobody was very keen on the idea.

Brad, is it possible that you’re exaggerating?

This is not to counsel despair. But we need to be aware that the battle against the arrayed forces of assholery will, at times, be unpleasant to watch and wearying to fight. But the fight is genuinely important, and it won’t win itself.

—Kevin J. Maroney
speaking for himself

Thanks for the pep talk, Kevin! I agree with you wholeheartedly! The Forces of Assholery have been trick-or-treating at my virtual doorstep for 45 days and counting. They’ve smeared me, smeared my family, smeared my friends, and smeared Sad Puppies 3. Again, clearly the way the Forces of Assholery save the thing they love and cherish, is to be complete pricks to whoever they feel like, whenever they feel like, badger and threaten and cajole and shun and shame, all that good old fashioned 12th century village stuff. Torches and pitch forks! Tie them to the stake! Burn them! Infidels!

Or maybe “your” side needs to just settle down and vote on the ballot like normal?

That’s what the rest of us adults do — even when we aren’t thrilled with what’s on the ballot.

And when we decided to actively promote things we liked more, we did it 100% clean and for the public eye.

Again, did you even read the short fiction categories, before editorializing?

Or are you so in love with the broken narrative, that you can’t step beyond that particular sandbox, and look at the bigger picture?

Even leaving aside the obvious criticism of slates in an arts award vote, 100% clean is an interesting way to coin this one. There’s this wonderful Google Docs document that details how open and democratic the process of putting together the Sad Puppies slate was (short version: not very).

And let me state just one last time that whatever the Sad Puppies did, it’s not that important. Brad keeps on acting like a winner when in fact Sad Puppies didn’t win. Nominating statistics that are available at this point show that Vox Day swept the ballot and the things we have to read now are his Rabid candidates. His slate suggested nominating everything “precisely as they are”, and calling that 100% clean is 100% false.


Disagreeing with Brad

Because I so thoroughly disagree with Sad Puppy advocates, I’ve been thinking about doing a fisking of some essential Puppy advocate post. Fisking is a thing Larry Correia does sometimes in his blog, and as far as I’ve been able to decipher, what it means is a mean-spirited rebuttal of everything somebody else has written elseweb, line by line. Generally, it seems to involve a great deal of calling other people morons and idiots, but I’ll try to do it without the nasty parts, because I have no desire to be nasty.

An opportunity presented itself when Brad R. Torgersen published a blog post earlier today. In it, he says a lot of things that I don’t agree on. That let’s us, well, disagree.

Here goes:

I’ve noticed that some people (who were opposed to the Sad Puppies effort) are actually reading the contents of the Hugo final ballot, and are shocked to discover that a) some of the work really is Hugo-worthy, and b) none of it is the product of bigoted, evil, white, hateful male minds.

Maybe there are those people, too. After reading some of the stories, my experience is the exact opposite, and most of the people whose reviews I’ve read seem to feel the same way. Majority of the slate works I’ve read so far (and I’ve read more than I’ve had the time to blog about yet) hardly seems Hugo-worthy.

Are they products of bigoted, evil, white, hateful male minds? Probably not. Your argument feels a bit straw-manish, though, because I don’t know who would feel that way, really. I do think that, up to a point, it’s fair to say that Sad Puppies are empowering misogynists and racists by playing along with Vox Day and his rabid minions, and that the whole Puppy thing is an anti-feminist identity politics project of sorts. I don’t think you’re a racist or sexist person per se, though, and I’ve stated my opinion a couple of times. Not that many people would be interested in my opinion, of course.

Golly, I am pretty sure the point of Sad Puppies 3 was to make the final ballot more inclusive, not less. Didn’t we say that? I’m pretty sure we said that. More, not less. Big tent, not small tent. Nobody can tell anybody they don’t belong. Isn’t that what I personally have been banging my pot about for years now, even before Sad Puppies came along?

I’m wondering what is the inclusivity you speak about. Gender balance? No, that can’t be, because Jim C. Hines has done a diagram of it in fiction categories and it looks like this:


Pretty uninclusive, I think. Two of the three women (that’s the little red block on the right) got on the ballot despite Puppy interference and not because of it. If the Puppies had swept the novel category as well, Ann Leckie and Katherine Addison would have been left out too. SL Huang has analyzed the mathematical side of the 3/17 gender split here (bottom line: it’s probability is .109% — it’s pretty damn unprobable and seems to suggest that there’s some serious bias working against women this year).

Maybe you’re speaking about the variety of different styles of SFF on the ballot, then. On the other hand, when your slate is all just military SF, Analog stuff and John C. Wright, that’s probably not the card you want to play.

Oh, SP3 pointedly criticized affirmative action — which makes demographics paramount over content and quality — but then we’re allowed to criticize tendencies (and political policies) which make what a person looks like, or what a person has between his legs, or who that person likes to sleep with, more important than that person’s skill, talent, drive, integrity, and work ethic. I guess I am old fashioned in that I still take Dr. Martin Luther King’s words to heart, regarding content of character. They are timeless words. Because King clearly understood that for any group to rise above the obstacles placed before it, everything boils down to the unique dignity and quality of the individual.

Babling about affirmative action without giving any specific examples is an unpleasant way to cast doubt on all female and minority writers who have won or been nominated in the previous years. If you have somebody in mind, spit it out so that it’s possible to discuss it. I haven’t liked all women nominees myself, but I don’t believe in affirmative action conspiracies, because I don’t like all men nominees either.

And that’s what the Hugo award is supposed to be about, right? Isn’t that what the purists have been so concerned with, these past six weeks?

Now, nothing SP3 actually said or did stopped the clownish bum rush (at the beginning of April) to paint everyone and everything attached to Sad Puppies 3, like we were all KKK, Westboro Baptists, and Hitler, rolled into one demonic entity. But then, that specific angle of falsehood said far more about a particular crop of critics, than it did about SP3. Those people knew they were spreading a lie, and they did it deliberately, and they didn’t care. Even when the the lie was shown to be a lie, for all the world to see.

I haven’t seen such a bum rush, so I can’t comment. I don’t think that really represents the discussion there has been in the fandom about this Puppy mess at all. Are you sure you don’t just love playing the part of the victim?

I am glad there are readers who are willing to let the works on the ballot do the talking, as opposed to a stupid narrative.

Many fans have been reading the works, and I guess opinions differ. I haven’t been positively surprised so far, but I agree that reading the actual works is more interesting than the ideological narratives — and that includes the intentionally fabricated Puppy narrative about culture wars and affirmative action cabals, too.

And let’s be clear: the narrative is stupid. That Sad Puppies 3 is sexist, racist, etc. It was stupid when it was concocted. It remains stupid. It was stupid the second Entertainment Weekly stepped on its own tongue, after being spoon-fed an uproariously amateurish and error-festooned hit piece, by parties who have no regard for facts, and who were eager to smear Sad Puppies 3 and everyone associated with it. Those individuals involved in the concoction and dissemination of the narrative are utterly without scruples, and also without spine, in my opinion. But then, cowardice is something I’ve noticed is in no short supply in the field of literary SF/F these days. Just look at how we (in the field) run around in a tizzy trying to be “safe” from ourselves.

So, there’s some lousy journalism online. Big news. I’ve never called Sad Puppies racist or sexist myself, and I know many other fans of “literary SF” who haven’t done that either, even if they dislike Puppies considerably.

Speaking of people demanding “safety,” it’s occurred to me many times lately that the so-called Greatest Generation — born in the Depression, coming of age by defeating Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany, standing off with the Stalinist Soviet Union, and putting men on the Moon — wasn’t fantastically concerned with being “safe” in the way the word is used today. In fact, no great and memorable thing was ever accomplished by any civilization that put “safe” at the top of its priority list. Slavery was not ended by men who wanted to be “safe” and neither was Jim Crow. Boat people fleeing communist Vietnam or Cuba did not put “safe” ahead of their desire to be free. It seems to me that the more we think we can trade off liberty, for security, the more Ben Franklin will be proven right: we’ll get neither. So, be “safe” if you feel like it. Just don’t try to be taken seriously; as a grownup. Being a grownup is about principles. And risk. And the weighing of the two. Err too far on the side of avoiding risk, and you will discover that the principle has been forfeited.

So what you’re basically saying is that there shouldn’t be disrimination-free conditions for marginalized groups, because people fighting the Nazis didn’t whine. I don’t think your argument is very good, honestly.

On that note, Larry Correia and I both recently sent some signed contracts back to Baen; for our next books. A few of our critics (of SP3) made a lot of dire noise to the effect of, “You’ll never work in this town again!” I think it’s safe to say that Larry and I are thankful to be working with a publisher who correctly understands the balance — principle, vs. risk. As always, it’s a pleasure to be publishing with a company that truly does (in the words of bestseller John Ringo) understand how to find and print a rip-roaring good story. Because that’s what this whole thing is about in the first place. That’s what Science Fiction & Fantasy was always about: the rip-roaring good story. For all definitions of “good” that include, “Keep the audience coming back for more.” Notice I did not say, “Keep the criticshappy,” nor did I say, “Please the aesthetes who sit on their thrones of taste-making.”

Good for you. I’m sure that this whole mess has helped you two sell more books and made you more popular among your core audiences. That’s nice, but was messing up the Hugos in the process absolutely necessary?

To repeat myself: bold tales, told boldly. That’s the mission.

Not that I expect this sentiment to be shared by individuals who’ve made it their job to kick out the “wrong” fans for having the “wrong” kind of fun while enjoying the “wrong” sorts of SF/F.

This is a nice straw man, too. Sadly, nobody is kicking “wrongfans” out for having “wrongfun”, so it remains a straw man. I applaud you for coming up with such exquisite propaganda terms, though. They are state of the art.

Right now there are two hazy movements working hard to change the Hugo award. They overlap to a certain extent, but their net effect might be the same. The first wants to vote “NO AWARD” on everything that made the 2015 Hugo final ballot the “wrong” way, and the second wants to change the voting rules (for the future) so that the “wrong” people aren’t allowed to participate in the creation of the final ballot, much less vote on the award proper. For these two groups, their final destination may be the submerging of the Hugo and Worldcon altogether — because you can’t run a big tent while actively erecting barriers to entry and participation. People will go elsewhere. Devote time and money to other things. That’s already been true for decades. If the reaction (of Worldcon, to having the actual world come into the tent) is to pitch a fit and kick people to the curb, then I think it’s a prime example of the old adage: be careful what you wish for, you might get it.

I’m no-awarding only the works I don’t think are Hugo-worthy after reading them, so I don’t belong to this No Award movement you write about. On the other hand, I’m somewhat sympathetic to their reasoning — that is, why on Earth should bullies who hijacked this year’s Hugos by voting tactically be rewarded? That is a good question, and I don’t think that you really have the moral high ground to judge their decisions. Both the Puppies and the No Award crowd are playing by the letter of the rules, if not the spirit.

Your assessment of the suggested rule changes is completely wrong, actually. The suggestions that are most likely to make it will be limiting the nominations one voter can make per category and putting in place a voting system that plays down the effect of block voting in the nomination phase. Neither would prevent “wrong” people from participating, which is nice because there are no “wrong” people.

Worldcon’s relevance — indeed, the relevance of the Hugos — was already tenuous. Sad Puppies has been an attempt to change that. Not everybody thinks it’s been a change in the “right” way. A lot of people are clearly wrapped up in Worldcon being a specific kind of place for a specific sort of person who likes a specific range of things produced by a specific group of individuals. Small tent is, as small tent does.

It’s an art argument. It’s a taste argument. It’s a political argument. And it’s a culture argument.

Sad Puppies 3 looked at the argument and said, “Goose, it’s time to buzz the tower.”

More people voting is fine by me, and different sorts of people voting is fine too. Haven’t heard anybody complaining.

And again, for a field that endlessly writes stories about mavericks who cut against the grain, break the rules, go against tradition, defy authority, push against the status quo, etc., it’s kind of amusing to see so much hand-wringing and apoplexy when someoneactually comes along and shakes things up. Especially when the shake-up was conducted 100% in the open, democratically, using a democratic process. There was nothing secret being done. Nothing underhanded. No hoodwinking was engaged in. All of it was above-board. So that the chief source of outrage — when you cut down through all the miles of rhetorical bullshit — seems to be, Sad Puppies 3 is terrible because Sad Puppies 3 was effective.

Organizing like a political party in order to capture the whole Hugo ballot in some categories is less fine, though. I also very much dislike all the rhetorical bullshit about SMOFs, CHORFs, SJWs and the horrible oppression that fans of simple adventure SFF have to live under. There is more stuff to dislike on the Master List of Unlikeable Things About Sad Puppies in case anybody is interested.

Anyway, your last sentence is untrue. Sad Puppies were actually pretty insignificant when we think of the outcome. It was the Rabid Puppy slate that swept the ballot.

I think George R. R. Martin is right: if you want to change things in a democracy, you get out the vote. Sad Puppies 3 got out the vote. So much so, we’ve got complainers crying about how it was the “wrong” voters with the “wrong” intentions, etc. Okay, whatever. In a field that produces thousands of books every year, and tens of thousands of stories, how the heck does an author or an artist get any traction with an award? Simple: put the word out, or have buddies and fans who put the word out for you. Up until now, the “right” people were putting the word out, and then Sad Puppies comes, and we’re accused of being the “wrong” people who are putting the word out? Who gets to decide when “putting the word out” is right, or wrong?

Organizing as a party to block vote everything else off the ballot is not my idea of “putting the word out there”, really, but whatever. The good thing about fandom democracy is that by getting out the vote, you can fix a broken system. In 2017, there will hopefully be a more resistant voting system in place. Until then, we just have to make do.

Better yet, who gets to decide who the “wrong” and “right” voters are?

Because I can tell you — based on mail — that every time a snob or a purist or an ideological opponent of Sad Puppies 3 has put his or her foot down, about the “wrong” people coming to the table, it’s merely increased interest and activity on the Sad Puppies side. There is a finite number of individuals who want to keep Worldcon and the Hugo “unsullied” by the proles. The number of proles is endless, and the proles have money, and time, and the willingness to put their hand in. Now, perhaps, more than ever before in Worldcon history.

Well, maybe, maybe not. It will be interesting to see who gets the trophies this year!

(I skip the rest. Brad’s only repeating his earlier points, plus there’s a lenghty quotation about the origins of the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies badges.)

Edit 14/5: Added the probability calculation and a link to SL Huang’s blog to go with Jim C. Hines’s diagram.

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.