Tag Archives: Vox Day

My Case Against Theodore Beale — Vox Day: SJWs Always Lie

Vox Day, oh man. Where do I start?

In case you’re reading this, you probably have an opinion on the former disco musician and current book publisher, editor and anti-feminist/anti-anti-racist/contrarian political demagogue and culture warrior Theodore Beale aka Vox Day. I don’t think I’m going to influence anybody here, but here’s my case against the writer of SJWs Always Lie in case somebody wants to read an affectionate character assassination of the king of anti-progressive internet trolls.

Category: Related Work
Slates: Rabid Puppies

So, who is Vox Day?

His father is the failed businessman, tax protester and felon Robert Beale who tried to get Pat “Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians” Robertson the president of the United States in the late 80s. Fortunately, that didn’t go so well, but the senior Beale made a serious shitload of money running his business, and I guess that family wealth has served Vox Day pretty well. At least one hopes that his livelyhood isn’t dependent on the success of works like his Hugo-nominated short story “Opera Vita Aeterna” (2014) — which, in my opinion, is not very good (go ahead and google it if you want to read what sort of fiction he writes).

Vox Day first became known as a member of the 90s techno band Psykosonik. If you’ve ever wondered about what his music sounds like, here’s a song called “Shock on the Wire” from their debut album Psykosonik (1993).

Considering some of Beale’s later political stances, the lyrics about leaving “the world of boolean gender” bring a smile upon my face.

Synthesized posthuman face
No limits here in cyberspace
That hypersexual excitation
Neural-digital stimulation
Cyberbaby gotta keep it going
Gotta come together flowing
Voltage hits your pleasure center
Leave the world of boolean gender

According to all Beale’s author bios, he is also a professional game designer who has designed games such as the first-person Christian sword-em-up War in Heaven (1999). It was based on his fantasy novels, the first of which Natalie Luhrs read and live-tweeted last year in order to raise money for RAINN (an organization helping victims of sexual assault).

Here’s a clip of the game:

I’m not really sure if designing games is something that Beale/Day is doing at the moment. There isn’t much information around on what game projects he has been working on lately, and his blogging and book-writing looks like a full-time job, judging by his publishing frequency.

He writes the general “Alt Right”, Trump-praise and Hugo destruction blog Vox Popoli (bad Latin for voice of the people) as well as the white and straight men’s right activism blog Alpha Game (which informs us that there are, in fact, not only alpha males and beta males but also deltas, gammas, omegas, sigmas and lambdas, and it’s all hopelessly complicated). In his nonfiction books, Beale has opined that atheists are irrational, “cuckservatives” (=moderate conservatives) are destroying the American civilization and “SJWs” (=social justice warriors) always lie.

As I said in the beginning, pretty much everybody who has read something about or by Beale/Day already has an opinion of him, so I’m fairly sure that this blog post is not going to convince anybody to change their views. Besides, in the title of the book that is on the Hugo shortlist this year, Beale has already formulated a statement that refutes everything I’m about to say here. I believe that social justice is desirable and discrimination should be done away with. Thus, I lie and Beale-believers shouldn’t believe anything I say.

If you don’t have an opinion on Beale yet and you want to see for yourself what he is up to, I suggest you take a look at Vox Popoli. A couple of posts will probably be enough to get a good picture.

I just tried this approach myself few weeks ago and first came up with a screed for why war is better than peace because during peacetime, I guess, people can live their lives the way they want:

Seventy years of relative peace and prosperity has made our young men hedonists and homosexuals, cravens and cowards who are more inclined to literally emasculate themselves than demonstrate even a modicum of courage. Seventy years of relative tranquility and safety has made our young women into shameless sluts and whores, barren harridans and harpies devoid of self-respect and self-control. (“A Terrible Peace”, 13/5/2016)

I also learned that women shouldn’t be allowed to vote in representative democracies (a direct democracy is another thing, though), because they are not as intelligent as men and cannot understand difficult issues:

I don’t have a problem with women voting in a direct democracy of the sort we have in national referenda. I think that women are perfectly capable of understanding the consequences of their actions — when it’s a direct matter. However, in the quasi-democratic systems that we have, the limited representative democracies, the problem is that it is historically far too easy for demagogues to manipulate women. (“Should Women Vote”, 14/5/2016)

What an angry, unhappy dude, right?

His views are so far removed from the real reality where I (and maybe you too) live, that it’s impossible to even start debunking those statements. For me (and, hopefully, for you) the freedom to live my life how I want without fear of dying in an armed conflict is quite nice. On the other hand, stripping people of their equal rights because of their sex or gender is not.

These are axioms, and they’re not up for debate.

His opinion seems to be that people’s lives should be miserable. How do you make a case for that shit? Well, after reading the Kindle sample of SJWs Always Lie (which is enough to get the gist of it, in my opinion), it turns out that Beale doesn’t make a case for that shit at all. In the first chapter, he throws himself into a tantrum about the bad things that bad people working for social justice are pushing for.

A broad-based, reality-based resistance to the mirage is now taking shape, a resistance that will eventually undermine and replace all the old institutions that have been invaded and captured by the SJWs. And all it takes to be a part of it is a refusal to accept the religion of social justice, a refusal to bow down before the false gods of Equality, Diversity, Tolerance, Inclusiveness and Progress.

The thing I’m wondering is: Why would anyone choose the “true gods” of Inequality, Uniformity, Intolerance, Exclusiveness and, err, Unprogress instead? Beale, like any contrarian troll, is never going to give a sensible answer.


Alright. Everything above this line was written a few weeks back, but now that the Hugo Voter’s Packet is finally out and SJWs Always Lie is included (I believe that ignoring that would have been a better option but Midamericon II decided otherwise) I took a look.

It’s a funny collection of eccentric viewpoints and all-around handwaving when the social opinions get too difficult to defend otherwise.

Here’s a chapter by chapter summary of the first six chapters after the intro:

Chapter 2: The Three Laws of SJW

Beale’s thesis: John Scalzi said in an interview he has more blog readers than Beale thinks he does. Thus, SJWs always lie.

After coining this and a couple of other rules, Beale drives himself into an ecstatic snicker when he describes how he has pestered Scalzi by cunningly claiming that the best-selling author has admitted to being a rapist, even though he hasn’t. So, what’s Beale’s point? SJWs always lie, but their opponents make up lies that are more stupid?

Chapter 3: When SJWs Attack

Beale’s thesis: A number of people in high positions have ended up in trouble or lost their jobs after insulting women or minorities publicly. That’s why, by some magical logic, everyone who complains about powerful men behaving badly is suspect.

Beale makes a big thing out of the controversy over biochmemist and molecular physiologist Tim Hunt’s impromptu toast speech during the 2015 World Conference of Science Journalists. He has cherry-picked a good example, considering that Hunt was treated rather badly for his remarks which, by all accounts, were meant to be humorous instead of sexist — he concluded his toast by saying “science needs women, and you should do science despite all obstacles, and despite monsters like me”. (It’s probably a stretch to call Hunt an actual feminist, but for a privileged academic dude who was born in the 40s he doesn’t seem too bad.)

What Beale doesn’t tell his readers is that Hunt has explicitly denounced his sort of defenders. In an interview with the Guardian, the scientist said: “I was turned into a straw man that one lot loves to love and the other lot loves to hate and then they just take up sides and hurled utterly vile abuse at everyone.”

I see why Beale focuses on Hunt and not on the other names he drops, like the scientist James “We Should Genetically Engineer All Girls Beautiful” Watson, Pax “A Talented Female Tech Developer Is As Mythical As A Unicorn” Dickinson or Mozilla’s ex-CEO and California Proposition 8 supporter Brendan Eich. (I don’t get why Beale can’t afford a proofreader if he is so damn successful — in addition to all the Latin stuff, he misspells Dickinson’s name.)

Chapter 4: Counterattack

Beale’s thesis: Zoë Quinn is fat and unattractive and she made a depressing game about depression (and cheated on her boyfriend). That’s why #Gamergate is such a good thing — and, by the way, the only thing the movement is interested in is Ethics In Gaming Journalism. Like, totally. All accounts of harassment by gamergaters are untrue because I say so.

These days, you can’t make a gaming-related Youtube video and mention feminism or tweet about an academic game studies conference with the #DiGRA hashtag without getting a ton of abuse directed at you, in the best case scenario. If things go worse, some Dude Only Concerned About Ethics In Gaming Journalism is going to make a game where the point is to beat your face to pulp, doxx you, drive you out of your home and probably kill your dog.

But I’m not doing the #GamerGate movement justice here. Speaking of DiGRA (Digital Games Research Association), they have brightened up many people’s days with their more unwitting operations, such as this one. Appreciating all the ironies may require some background knowledge on the critical theory.

After Hunt, though, it’s nice to see Beale trying to piggyback on some people I don’t feel bad for.

Chapter 5: Release the Hounds

Beale’s thesis: John Scalzi has won way too many Hugo awards. That’s why Worldcon, Hugos and WSFS are rotten.

In this chapter, Beale goes through the Sad Puppies history, putting a wild anti-SJW spin on everything. For the people who are aware of what went down with the Hugos during the last couple of years (and if you’re reading this blog, chances are that you indeed are), it’s mostly rehashing the official Puppy narrative put together by Correia and Torgersen.

The only interesting parts deal with Beale’s involvement with the Sad Puppies 3 campaign. Last year, Torgersen and Correia were adamant that their thing really doesn’t have anything to do with Beale’s, but what do you know. Here we have Beale reminiscing about the first meeting of the slate-makers in January 16, 2015. Present are Beale, Correia, Torgersen, Tom Kratman, Sarah Hoyt and John C. Wright.

Beale says that they soon found out they disagreed on the goals:

To put these goals in practical terms, Brad wanted to actually try to win awards for what he deemed to be meritorious work, whereas I thought we ought to nominate whatever would most upset the SJWs and then turn around and join them in voting No Award for everything in order to leave a smoking hole where the 2015 Hugos had been. […]

After discussing our differences, I stepped back from Sad Puppies and created Rabid Puppies, an allied campaign designed around the #GamerGate model. […] However, the SJWs so hated everything Brad put forward, and reacted so negatively towards those works, that instead of needing a completely separate list of recommendations, the Rabid Puppy list turned out to be a little more than the Sad Puppy list with a few tactical additions intended to further enrage the SJWs.

The quote above is recommended reading for everybody who is still pondering whether the Rabid Puppies contingent has some reasonable grievances. Here we have Theodore Beale/Vox Day telling us earnestly that he isn’t interested in making science fiction great again, or plugging worthy but overlooked works — what he wants is to troll and upset people.

What an angry, unhappy dude.

In the end of the chapter, Beale goes through his, Peter Grant’s and other puppie’s unsuccessful campaign to get the Tor Books creative director Irene Gallo fired by bombing Macmillan with email complaints. Just two chapters ago threatening people’s livelihood because of their opinions was reprehensible but with Beale you have to get used to goalposts moving in supersonic speed.

Chapter 6: The SJW Next Door

Beale’s thesis: Codes of conduct and other documents outlining the proper practices in organizations and corporations are pushed forward by SJWs. Thus, they are evil.

And so on and so forth

I quickly lost interest after chapter six. Beale tells us what one should do when SJWs attack and how to fight back but, frankly, it seems like incredibly hard and unrewarding work. Sure, you can try to be as unapologetic asshole as you can and make things as hard as possible for the other side if you want — but what’s the point?

Instead of Beale’s sixteen rules and strategies about what to do when you’re under attack and how to fight back et cetera, I can offer you the following two-rule all-purpose guide for free:

  1. Respect other people and don’t insult them.
  2. If you happen to break rule #1, be a grownup and own up to your mistakes.

There you go. This has served great many people quite well. World may be full of unreasonable assholes but I don’t see how becoming one would make my life, or yours, any easier.

On the other hand, you’re free to believe Beale but the tin foil conspiracist mindset he says we all should adopt sounds like something that is not going to do any good for anybody’s well-being. Consider quotes like this:

It may seem a little ironic to have to police your organization yourself in order to prevent it from being thought-policed, but the sad historical fact is that you have to choose between one and the other.

Little ironic? You don’t say.

It’s a bad book by a bad actor and it shouldn’t get a Hugo award, if you ask me. No reason to trust me, though — you can read it for free if you’re a Hugo voter and make up your mind.

Spacefaring, Extradimensional Happy Score: 0/10

Some final thoughts

I recognize that there probably is a meaningful discussion to be had or a book written about the excesses of the uses of “social justice”. SJWs Always Lie isn’t that book, though, but cases like the one involving Tim Hunt are incredibly bad for the social justice movement. As a supporter of that movement, I feel that the goal should be to become mainstream rather than to take all the possible scalps. Twitter shame mobs easily go too far and things turn ugly, as anyone who has been paying attention should know by now.

Or, if you haven’t been convinced yet, this TED Talk by Jon Ronson is for you.

Earlier this year I read Will Shetterly’s book How to make a Social Justice Warrior. To be fair, it probably wasn’t the good book that ought to be written about these issues either, but Shetterly at least tries. For me, his ranty style and short temper made him sound even crazier than Beale in places, unfortunately.

However, Shetterly makes some relevant points about how single-minded focus on identity politics erases class distinctions — which still remain extremely important when analyzing power structures and inequality. A person of color, or a woman, or a homosexual can become president, but a poor person will probably never be able to do that. At the very least, Shetterly’s left-wing criticism of SJW-ism is more convincing than Beale’s right-wing variant.

Some of the more theoretical flavors of academic feminism are probably quite far removed from the social reality of anybody who doesn’t belong to the middle class and has to struggle every day to make ends meet. That may be an oversimplification, but it’s something that feminists with higher education (and the worldview of an extremely privileged individual that comes with it), such as myself, should perhaps consider more often.

Puppy-Free Hugo-Voting Guide – And the Problem with It

So, here are the Hugo finalists:

BEST NOVEL

  • Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher
  • The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Seveneves: A Novel by Neal Stephenson
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik

BEST NOVELLA

  • Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: The Builders by Daniel Polansky
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds

BEST NOVELETTE

  • “And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander (Lightspeed)
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: “Flashpoint: Titan” by Cheah Kai Wai
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: “Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang (Uncanny Magazine)
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: “Obits” by Stephen King
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: “What Price Humanity?” by David VanDyke

BEST SHORT STORY

  • RABID PUPPY PICK: “Asymmetrical Warfare” by S. Algernon
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: “The Commuter” by Thomas Mays (declined nomination)
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: “If You Were an Award, My Love” by Juan Tabo and S. Harris
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: “Seven Kill Tiger” by Charles Shao
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: “Space Raptor Butt Invasion” by Chuck Tingle

BEST RELATED WORK

  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Between Light and Shadow: An Exploration of the Fiction of Gene Wolfe, 1951 to 1986 by Marc Aramini
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: “The First Draft of My Appendix N Book” by Jeffro Johnson
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: “Safe Space as Rape Room” by Daniel Eness
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police by Vox Day
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: “The Story of Moira Greyland” by Moira Greyland

BEST GRAPHIC STORY

  • RABID PUPPY PICK: The Divine by Boaz Lavie / Asaf Hanuka / Tomer Hanuka
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Erin Dies Alone by Grey Carter / Cory Rydell
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Full Frontal Nerdity by Aaron Williams
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Invisible Republic Vol 1 by Corinna Bechko / Gabriel Hardman
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: The Sandman: Overture by Neil Gaiman / J.H. Williams III

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION (LONG FORM)

  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Ex Machina
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: The Martian
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION (SHORT FORM)

  • Doctor Who: “Heaven Sent”
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Grimm: “Headache”
  • Jessica Jones: “AKA Smile”
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: “The Cutie Map”
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Supernatural: “Just My Imagination”

BEST EDITOR ‐ SHORT FORM

  • John Joseph Adams
  • Neil Clarke
  • Ellen Datlow
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Jerry Pournelle
  • Sheila Williams

BEST EDITOR ‐ LONG FORM

  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Vox Day
  • Sheila E. Gilbert
  • Liz Gorinsky
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Jim Minz
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Toni Weisskopf

BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST

  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Lars Braad Andersen
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Larry Elmore
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Abigail Larson
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Michal Karcz
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Larry Rostant

BEST SEMIPROZINE

  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Beneath Ceaseless Skies
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Daily Science Fiction
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Sci Phi Journal
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Strange Horizons
  • Uncanny Magazine

BEST FANZINE

  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Black Gate edited by John O’Neill
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Castalia House Blog edited by Jeffro Johnson
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: File 770 edited by Mike Glyer
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Superversive SF edited by Jason Rennie
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Tangent Online edited by Dave Truesdale

BEST FANCAST

  • RABID PUPPY PICK: 8‐4 Play
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Cane and Rinse
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: HelloGreedo
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: The Rageaholic
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Tales to Terrify

BEST FAN WRITER

  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Douglas Ernst
  • Mike Glyer
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Morgan Holmes
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Jeffro Johnson
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Shamus Young

BEST FAN ARTIST

  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Matthew Callahan
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: disse86
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Kukuruyo
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Christian Quinot
  • Steve Stiles

JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER

  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Pierce Brown
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Sebastien de Castell
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Brian Niemeier
  • RABID PUPPY PICK: Andy Weir
  • Alyssa Wong

As we see, the shortlist got taken over pretty badly by the Rabid Puppy campaign put together by the Hugo-nominated short story writer and editor Thedore Beala aka Vox Day — who also just became a Hugo-nominated Related Work author (I can sense him updating his CV right now).

In case you don’t want to support any finalists suggested by this sexist and white supremacist dick (and who would), you should fill your voting ballot so that you put those finalists in your preferred order below the No Award option. No Awarding all the puppy finalists was what everyone (not me, though) did last year, and all sorts of mean dudes were upset afterwards, so maybe it worked that time.

But — and here’s the problem — many things on the Rabid Puppies slate this year are quite good and have nothing whatsoever to do with Theodore Beale. There’s silly crap up there as well, but some are worthy finalists which might well have gotten on the shortlist also without Beale’s help.

Off the top of my head, I would say that this includes at least the new writer Andy Weir, the fan artist Matthew Callahan, the fanzine File 770, the semiprozines Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Daily Science Fiction and Strange Horizons, the graphic novel Sandman: Overture by Neil Gaiman and J.H. Williams III, the novelettes “Obits” by Steven King and “Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang, the novellas Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds and Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold, and the novel Seveneves by Neal Stephenson.

I nominated a couple of these myself, so I won’t be happy if everything goes below no award this time. So, how about just no awarding the shit and ignoring the troll’s trolling?

Also:

And, lastly:

Kitten/Puppy Dialogues (on Pizza)

In the comments to the last Wednesday’s post titled Answering Peter Grant, a Puppy supporter called Xephon has been vocally criticizing me for several things I’ve said. The arguments in his/her first few short comments made little sense to me, so I thought the discussion was going nowhere, but then this lengthy account landed on the comment section.

I’m still unconvinced, but Xephon brings up some points I want to respond to, and because this is going to take up some space, I’ll rather do it in a new post.

puppybite

What I’m complaining about is that I made it clear in my first comment that I neither support Beale nor would consider any criticism directed against him to be excessive, and yet you mention him in every comment, insistent on drawing connections between him and everyone who is on the SP slate or supports what they are doing. He is nothing more than a bandwagon-jumper who has seized the reins for his own gain.

I can’t argue with your assessment of Beale, there. However, the reason he is mentioned when discussing Gallogate and Tor boycott is very simple: he orchestrated it (for his own gain, of course). He released the screen capture of Gallo’s comment a month after it was posted, manufactured the outrage and managed to get Peter Grant and others on board. That was his scheme and — if his goal was to get more visibility in the Puppy movement — it worked.

The sickening truth is that the anti-Puppies need Beale more than the Puppies do. He’s done nothing for my side except stir an increasingly rancid pot. Those of us who have distanced ourselves have learned that we are wasting our time, because all we hear from the other side is, “because Vox Day”. You need him to be your bogeyman, the focal point for your opposition. If he didn’t exist, someone would have invented him.

One of the funnies recent developments in the discussion around Hugos is that the second you mention Theodore Beale/Vox Day, somebody charges in and accuses you of “because Vox Day” fallacy. It sure is an interesting variant of “playing the ‘Playing the Hitler Card’ card”. Let me state once again that Beale’s Rabid Puppies slate swept the Hugo ballot. Your demand that everything related to him should be removed from the Hugo discussions does feel a bit odd — especially when we’re talking about his boycotts and other schemes.

Another thing I’d like to state again is that all Sad Puppies don’t buy into Day’s bigoted lunacy and I’ve never suggested that they do. Many other people have said exactly the same thing, but all I’m seeing is the sea of “Playing the Hitler Vox Day Card” cards.

A week before the Hugo nominations were announced, a pizza parlor in Indiana came under attack when the 62-year-old wife of the owner told a reporter her husband’s business wouldn’t cater a gay wedding.

Glossing over the absurdity of having a pizza parlor cater a wedding, the wave of hatred directed against this business was horrific. Its website was hacked and filled with porn. The owner and employees were harassed by phone, mail and in person to the point where they had to close the business. A HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER tried to mobilize a mob to burn the place down – fortunately the school board she worked for found out about before she got too far. The owners and several employees had to move out of their homes. A family lost its livelihood and twelve people lost their jobs.

All that over one comment.

One. Comment.

That’s a disheartening story. Too bad you missed the happy ending: they raised nearly a million dollars and re-opened. Nobody lost their livelihood over one comment.

What’s this story’s relevance to the Hugos, then? Irene Gallo made one single comment on Facebook (as the pizza parlor people did) and Beale gets his minions as well as many onlookers calling for a Tor Books boycott (as the anti-pizza people did). In the end, luckily, that amounts to nothing. Tor Books gets overwhelming support and can keep on serving their tasty pizzas.

(To be fair, I can’t say that I support a law that allows discrimination based of religious beliefs, but I don’t live in Indiana, so my support doesn’t matter one way or the other.)

When the Hugo nominees were announced and the first wave of hatred against the Sad Puppies started, it all seemed like deja vu to me. I’d bet money Beale noted it too, realized how easily enraged people of a certain political persuasion could be, and exploited it. He wanted to strike back as WSFS for kicking him out and the people who hated him happily played along and continue to do so. They actually managed to make a vile, toxic egomaniac look like a victim.

I can’t say that I agree with you. Calling vile, toxic egomaniacs on their vile toxicity is a reasonable thing to do, and everybody who really mistakes this particular egomaniac for a victim has some serious issues with reading comprehension.

Look, if you’re opposed to slate voting, Sasquan’s website had documented a proposal to change the nomination process. A nominating voter can only nominate four choices per category and the shortlist will have six nominees per category. This sounds to me like a sensible method to prevent a sweep in any category. Forget Beale and put your support behind that. But I guarantee, human nature being what it is, if the SP/RP nominees have any success in this year’s Hugos, then next year, EVERYBODY will be using slates – including a lot of people who have spent the last two months working themselves into a froth about how they “ruined” the Hugos. I’m working on getting more people involved in nominating and voting. The larger the voting pool, the more difficult it will be to “game”. That is the part of the Sad Puppies’ goal that I support.

I am opposed to slate voting and there is indeed a rule change proposal I’m supporting — E Pluribus Hugo. That makes sure everybody’s nominations are taken into account and small minorities (whether they’re Puppies or somebody else) can’t make sweeps by voting tactically anymore. The thing I’d really like to see is some more reasonable Puppies supporting that, too, so how about helping us out a little here? It’s a fair system, after all, and I thought fairness was what you wanted.

The “4 and 6” proposal would simply mean that a small but organized bloc of tactical voters could take two thirds of the slate instead of 100%, and I’m afraid that’s not enough for me. Furthermore, in that system, two competing slates of, say, 20% of voters each would easily take the whole ballot, leaving 60% with nothing, because the votes are distributed among such a vast number of works. E Pluribus Hugo is clearly the best way to go.

puppybite2Given the outrage that gaming the system caused this year, I think it’s very unlikely that there will be any Happy Kittens slates in 2016. If there were, very few authors would allow their works to be on a slate, in case they’re given the chance to refuse. Hopefully, Sad Puppies 4 will run into the same sort of problems and the slatemakers are forced to abandon it or feature only the most militant right-wingers.

Reaching out to more voters, decreasing the supporting membership fee and making the system less byzantine with confusing categories are things I think WSFS and Worldcons should be doing, so we’re in agreement there.

Preliminary Thoughts Before Embarking on an Expedition to Planet Wright

OK, now there’s a problem. I’ve read three of the four Hugo-nominated short stories that are available online. There’s one left, and it’s written by John C. Wright. I have never read any of his fiction and I have no idea what it’s like. It’s possible that I’ll enjoy it. That is the problem.

Let me explain.

John C. Wright is a vocal ultra-conservative with a militant anti-gay agenda who has said some appalling things. When the children’s TV series Legend of Korra featured characters who were hinted as being bisexual, Wright blogged that the series’ creators are “disgusting, limp, soulless sacks of filth” who “have earned the contempt and hatred of all decent human beings forever”. He has also written that the “instinctive reaction of men towards fags” is “beating them to death with axhandles and tire-irons”, and he’s on record for voicing regret for not physically attacking Terry Pratchett when he saw the late fantasy author (who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease) giving a speech in favor of euthanasia.

I don’t feel like linking to all this crap but you can find the relevant links here. In case you want to read a thorough debunking of Wright’s “fascinating” views on a number of recent SFF scandals, I also highly recommend this post by Foz Meadows.

Bottom line is that John C. Wright entertains some fairly disgusting beliefs, which I’m opposed to as strongly as one can possible be. In general, I don’t mind disagreeing with the politics of an author and enjoying his/her works at the same time — I enjoy Dan Simmons and James Ellroy, after all — but advocating for violence and dismissing people’s human rights because of their sexual orientation place Wright quite far off on the dark side. I’m repulsed by his ideas and I feel there’s no way I can put that out of my mind.

There was a similar problem last year, when Sad Puppies managed to get Theodore Beale aka Vox Day on the ballot. He’s a guy who thinks women’s rights have to be resisted, blacks are half-savages and the mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik will one day be “revered by Norwegians for his stand against the invaders”. So, Beale is a nasty person, no question about it.

Last year, his novelette “Opera Vita Aeterna” was on the ballot, and everyone who knew what he is up to had to decide whether they are ready to support that kind of a person getting a Hugo award or not if his story turns out to be any good. Luckily, it was all academic speculation and the quality of the story saved us from the difficult choice. Beale is on the ballot again this year in both editor categories, but the quality of the only story edited by him that I have read suggests that choice won’t be difficult this time either.

But what about Wright, then? I don’t know yet. The choice may be harder, because Wright is a real author, after all. His books have been published by a professional publisher and he has been on the Nebula shortlist.

I’ve decided to read — or try reading — everything on the Hugo ballot this year, and that means there’s more than one novel’s worth of fiction by Wright I have to slog through. There’s a human experiment aspect to all this, as well: it will be interesting to see a) if I can make it at all, b) if I can give a sensible account of the experience and c) if I can do a more-or-less balanced review of this stuff knowing what kind of a person has written it.

I don’t hold any delusions of being completely objective, of course, because there’s no such thing as complete objectivity outside mathematics. Acknowledging Wright’s beliefs probably affects my judgment of his fiction in some way. What the effect will be exactly, remains to be seen.

There are three novellas, one short story and one related work by Wright on the ballot. My plan is to do one post where I review all of it, because there’s a limit on how much time I want to dedicate to writing about this gentleman’s work. There’s quite a lot of reading, so it will probably take some time before I get around to writing it.

In the meantime, I’m going to skip to the next category.

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.