A RESPONSE TO BRAD TORGERSEN

One of the comments that was put up on my web site while I was out of town was a long one by Brad Torgersen. Because of Brad’s prominence in the debate over the Hugo Awards, I think it’s incumbent on me to respond to him. My response is going to be long because I’m going to put it all up in one post today. I’m doing that because Brad will be deploying soon and is likely to lose access to the internet for a while. I don’t think it’s fair for me to criticize his arguments if he can no longer respond.

Whether he chooses to respond or not will be his decision. If he does, I will make no further responses to him beyond this one. I think the argument we’re having about the Hugo awards is approaching its productive limits.

I will make one more post in a day or so, but that one will deal purely with my own practical suggestions for ways I think the Hugo awards could be improved.

The post by Brad that I’m responding to here is a long one—you can find it in the thread under “AND AGAIN ON THE HUGO AWARDS”—so I think this will work best if I begin by quoting all of it. My reply will come afterward:

(the original comment can be found in context at this link — webmaster)

 


“The following is general commentary, not directed at Eric Flint per se. But at the body of the thread and all the comments as a whole.“The thing about self-identifying progressives in 21st century America is that they don’t realize when they’ve won. Especially in the field of SF/F publishing. You cannot fight against The Man when you are The Man. In SF/F publishing, progressives make up the vast bulk of editors, authors, artists, and publishers. Oh, they will quibble about differences between them — in fine detail — but taken as a whole picture, the field of SF/F is a thoroughly progressive playhouse. Trying to explain to a progressive the existence of progressive prejudice (against conservatives, especially in a media entertainment arena) is like trying to explain to a trout that water is wet. The trout simply gapes at you goggle-eyed and exclaims, “But sir, that is the very nature of the universe!”“Someone up-thread pulled a quote from my blog, and I want to re-emphasize a portion of it.

“Sad Puppies 3 was “open source” and demanded nothing, threatened nothing, nor did it badger anyone. I state again: we were open source, we demanded nothing, we threatened nothing, nor did we badger anyone.

“The opponents of Sad Puppies 3 — some of whom I would be tempted to call puppy-kickers — have threatened, demanded, and badgered a great deal. This wasn’t a life-or-death bloodsport until the progressive guardians of the field decided that Sad Puppies 3 was justification for open war. They happily became (and in most instances, remain) puppy-kickers. And they are proud of themselves for it, too.

“I guess inviting more people to the table is the most horrible thing in the SF/F world?

“Because that’s what happened: Sad Puppies 3 invited more people to the table, not less. We wanted to make the tent bigger.

“The puppy-kickers have busied themselves trying to find ways to evict people from the tent. For ideological infractions. For taste infractions. For insufficient “fan cred” as defined by the denizens of Worldcon — some of whom are obsessed with keeping Fandom a capital-f affair, for capital-f people only.

“Sad Puppies 3 wanted to push back against blind spots, and get recognition for new and established authors alike.

“The puppy-kickers used that as an excuse to scream “NO AWARD!”, while at the same time threatening careers, using lies and character assassination against myself and Larry Correia in particular, and to also try to cajole deserving people to withdraw from the ballot.

“Remind me, again, who “loves” Science Fiction & Fantasy? Who pissed in the cornflakes, to borrow one user’s analogy?

“Sad Puppies 3 never said the Hugo award should go to only the works or people we like, or to only the works or people who flatter our ideologies. We merely wanted a share of the pie for works and people who’d otherwise struggle to get that share.

“The puppy-kickers have absolutely stated — over and over again — that the Hugo award should go to only the works and the people whom the puppy-kickers deem worthy — for all definitions of “worthy” which include, “Must almost always be left-leaning in ideology, and satisfy our stuffy criteria where taste is concerned.” Moreover, the puppy-kickers have stated that the “wrong” voters should be kept out of the process, and that the “wrong” fans are not welcome to participate.

“Got it? The puppy-kickers have been screaming GO AWAY at the top of their digital lungs.

“And yet the puppy-kickers pretend to claim the mantle of “inclusiveness”? How does that work? You’re “inclusive” by erecting walls, calling people names, and sticking your nose in the air?”


Let me begin with the key sentence in the second paragraph, since that is in many ways the real substance of the debate. To refresh everyone’s memory, here it is again:

“In SF/F publishing, progressives make up the vast bulk of editors, authors, artists, and publishers. Oh, they will quibble about differences between them — in fine detail — but taken as a whole picture, the field of SF/F is a thoroughly progressive playhouse.”

Is Torgersen’s depiction of the state of F&SF today an accurate one, in political terms? The answer is…

To some degree, yes—although the conclusions that Torgersen draws are false, for reasons I will discuss in a moment. But the degree to which his accusation has some substance has to do with professional editors. Authors span the spectrum politically, as do publishers. But professional fiction editors—probably anywhere in publishing unless there is a conscious counter-selection process—will tend to be shifted to the left in their political views compared to the American population as a whole.

Why is this true? Basically, for two reasons. First, being a professional editor is not a particularly remunerative occupation. That’s a fancy way of saying the work pays like crap, at least adjusted against the training and skill level required. In turn, that means that most people who choose to become professional editors do so for reasons that go beyond purely economic motives. Simplifying a good deal, most editors enter the profession because they really care about writing and story-telling.

Which means, in turn, that they are usually people who majored in literature or some other branch of the humanities in college—and, at least in the United States, those branches of learning are generally left-leaning in terms of politics.

To be sure, some of those people shift their views after leaving college. A fine example is Baen Books’ own publisher, Toni Weisskopf. She graduated from Oberlin College, as splendid and certainly long-lasting an incubator of progressivism as you can find in American higher education. Sadly—from my point of view, not hers—she jettisoned that outlook after she entered the world of professional publishing.

But Toni Weisskopf is more the exception than the rule. So far, therefore, Torgersen is correct. Where he goes wrong is in his assumption—obvious if not made explicit in these comments—that this is somehow a recent development.

But it isn’t. The situation with editors that Torgersen depicts is true today, yes. It was also true ten years ago, twenty years ago, thirty years ago, forty years ago—about as far back as you can go in publishing, at least for a century. So this factor obviously can’t serve as an explanation for what is one of the central grievances of Torgersen and the rest of the Sad Puppies, which is that F&SF has gone astray from some supposed “golden age” when the majority of editors weren’t liberals.

That golden age never existed. Consider this depiction by Samuel R. Delaney, whose long and illustrious career began in the early 1960s:

“Understand that, since the late ’30s, that community [F&SF], that world had been largely Jewish, highly liberal, and with notable exceptions leaned well to the left. Even its right-wing mavens, Robert Heinlein or Poul Anderson (or, indeed, Campbell), would have far preferred to go to a leftist party and have a friendly argument with some smart socialists than actually to hang out with the right-wing and libertarian organizations which they may well have supported in principal and, in Heinlein’s case, with donations.”

Is the field of fantasy and science fiction riddled with and divided by politics? Yup, sure is—and always has been, and always will be. But the notion advanced by Torgersen and the Sad Puppies that “progressives”—which, by the way, is another slippery term—have some sort of hammerlock on science fiction’s major awards is…

I’m trying to think of a more polite term than “ludicrous,” but I honestly can’t. And the main reason it’s ludicrous is that the villains Torgersen points to—to remind you, it’s all the pros: “editors, authors, artists, and publishers”—don’t decide who gets the Hugo awards in the first place.

That decision is made by the fans, not the professionals. So the charge advanced by Torgersen only makes sense if the real source of the leftist rot is the very people he’s trying to persuade to stop being a lot of rotten leftists.

As I said—ludicrous. Torgersen is literally demanding that the people who decide who gets the Hugo awards must have a brain transplant. And if they refuse—a prediction, here: they will—then they’re a pack of—of—

Well, fish. In his own words:

“Trying to explain to a progressive the existence of progressive prejudice (against conservatives, especially in a media entertainment arena) is like trying to explain to a trout that water is wet. The trout simply gapes at you goggle-eyed and exclaims, ‘But sir, that is the very nature of the universe!’”

(This is a niftily written couple of sentences, by the way. Whatever I think of his reasoning on this issue, Brad Torgersen is a damn good writer.)

My question now is:

If Torgersen and the Sad Puppies genuinely think that—and I quote—“taken as a whole picture, the field of SF/F is a thoroughly progressive playhouse,” then why do they want a Hugo Award in the first place? According to the logic of Torgersen’s own argument, the Hugo Award should rightfully be renamed the Political Correctness Award. (Popularly known as the Huggy due to its obsession with non-judgmental inclusiveness of anything except nasty rightists who don’t like to hug anyone anyway so screw them.)

I am not joking. If the people who bestow the Prometheus Award ever lose their minds and decide to give it to me—not likely, to say the least—then I would refuse to accept it. Politely, of course, since it’s bad manners to be rude to people who are trying to be nice to you. But I’d still refuse to accept. While I like a number of libertarians personally, I am not a libertarian myself nor do I agree with or approve of libertarianism as a political philosophy.

So why would Brad Torgersen or Larry Correia want to accept a Hugo in the first place, given that they think the award has become essentially a political one—and one with whose politics they vehemently disagree?

Consider this statement by Torgersen:

“The puppy-kickers have absolutely stated — over and over again — that the Hugo award should go to only the works and the people whom the puppy-kickers deem worthy — for all definitions of “worthy” which include, “Must almost always be left-leaning in ideology, and satisfy our stuffy criteria where taste is concerned.” Moreover, the puppy-kickers have stated that the “wrong” voters should be kept out of the process, and that the “wrong” fans are not welcome to participate.”

I will leave aside for the moment—just for the moment; we’ll come back to it—Torgersen’s perennial habit of substituting the pronoun “they” for any and all actual identities. I will leave aside for the moment the fact that the statement makes wildly general accusations that I defy Torgersen to substantiate with actual citations. As ever—George R.R. Martin has criticized them for it also—the Sad Puppies’ favorite rhetorical tactic is paraphrasing. Let a couple of birds somewhere chirp a few discordant notes and a spokesman for the Sad Puppies will report the incident as flocks of carrion-eaters are descending on poor puppies struggling in the desert, cawing their glee at the imminent rending of flesh.

But leave all that aside. Even taken at face value, the statement bears no relation to reality whatsoever.

Let me approach this from different angles. From one angle, is it true that “the [as always completely nameless] puppy-kickers” who presumably control the Hugo awards [by what method? who knows, but they must] see to it that the awards must only go to works which “Must almost always be left-leaning in ideology, and satisfy our stuffy criteria where taste is concerned.”

Really? Then how to explain the fact that the author who has received more Hugo nominations than any other in the history of the award is one Mike Resnick? (He’s also one of the top winners of the award.) Nor is this ancient history since the most recent nomination Resnick got for a short story was in 2012.

Were the puppy-kickers asleep at the switch?

And while I’m thinking about it… Dammit, where the hell were they when Virtuous Lefties like me and Mercedes Lackey and Steven Brust got passed over, year after year after year?

Let’s look at it from the opposite angle. Implicit in Torgersen’s statement is the notion that “progressive” or “leftwing” fiction is tied to “stuffy criteria.” I.e., that lefties lean toward so-called literary fiction whereas stout and stalwart right-wingers prefer fiction that is red-blooded and full of action and excitement.

The problem with this narrative is that someone forget to tell the New Yorker magazine, which is pretty much the epitome in America of liberalism and a preference for stuffy lit’rachure. Just recently, the New Yorker—which almost never deigns to notice F&SF—ran a laudatory article on a science fiction author. The byline, in fact, was “Sci-Fi’s Difficult Genius.”

http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/sci-fis-difficult-genius

Sadly for the Sad Puppy thesis, the author is Gene Wolfe—who is politically quite conservative, a devout Catholic, and a man whose fiction is usually in one way or another illuminated by his religious outlook. And who is also, without a doubt, one of the half dozen finest literary authors in the history of fantasy and science fiction.

And someone forget to tell me—and Mercedes Lackey, and Steven Brust, and plenty of other leftwing SF authors—since none of us write very much in the way of what’s generally considered “literary fiction.” In my case, only two novels out of almost fifty could really qualify as “literary fiction” and then only if you’re willing to allow that a comic surrealist treatment of Karl Marx’s Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 infused with affectionate riffs on the works of Joseph Conrad and Herman Melville are anything but lunacy masquerading as fiction. But one of the books—that would be Forward the Mage—has a grammatically valid (albeit insane) sentence that’s 430 words long and the other novel—that would be The Philosophical Strangler—has a serial murderer for a hero. I mean, how literary can you get?

Still, that leaves forty-six or so novels of mine not one of which can be considered anything but stout story-telling of Ye Olde School.

And finally, there’s this: If the Sad Puppies are so opposed to “literary fiction” as opposed to “the good old stuff,” then why in the world did they nominate John C. Wright for a Hugo Award? And, in a previous year, so-called “Vox Day”?

Leave aside the political and social statements and attitudes of Wright and Vox Day. Consider them, for a moment, simply as fiction authors. What they are, in a nutshell, are…

Literary authors. Contemplate, for a moment, the story by Wright that is nominated for best short story in this year’s Hugos. The story is titled “The Parliament of Beasts and Birds” and—

It’s every bit as dreary as it sounds, from a sturm und drang let’s have a nifty action tale! point of view.

Nothing happens in this story. Literally, nothing. A bunch of animals sit around having a religious/philosophical/political debate.

In short, a lot of talk. Jabber-jabber-jabber, coated with a really heavy slathering of allegory.

Action? We’ll, let’s see…

Okay, at one point the Horse rears on his hind legs and shakes his great black mane. Ooooo

At another point, Lion unsheathes his claws and roars. Ooooo

At yet another point, the Lion raises his paw! Oooooooooooooooooo

Then… well, the Cat washes herself and the Hound snarls and barks… the Cat yawns and stretches… later she waves her tail and the Fox barks…

Yeah, I know I’m reaching—but this is all there is. I’m not making it up. Compared to this stuff, a Henry James story is downright riveting.

Then, contemplate the use of language in the story. Here’s a sample:

“Above the boulevards and paved squares where merchants once bought and sold ivory and incense and purple and gold, or costly fabrics of silks from the east, or ambergris from the seas beyond the Fortunate Isles, and auction houses adorned and painted stood where singing birds and dancing girls were sold to the highest bidder or given to the haughtiest peer.”

This is an example of what I think of as the Saudi School of Prose. No noun may go out in public unless she is veiled by grandiloquence and accompanied by an adjective.

You can have a high opinion or a low opinion of this story—for the record, mine is pretty low—but the one opinion you simply can’t have is that this is anything but literary fiction.

A side note: Yes, I know this isn’t the story nominated by the Sad Puppies. The problem is that the story they did nominate is a damn novella and I had a hard enough time plowing through a short story by Wright. I did look at the novella, as well as the novelette by Vox Day nominated in a previous year, and they appear to be along the same lines. A lot of talk—I mean, a lot of talk—and what little action there is usually takes place offstage and is related rather than depicted.

I.e., not at all the sort of stories the Sad Puppies claim to be championing.

So I now have to pose the question to Torgersen and the Sad Puppies—if you were bound and determined to nominate a literary fiction author for a Hugo Award, even while insisting you were doing the opposite, then why did you pick a flyweight like John C. Wright when you could have nominated something by Gene Wolfe? Who is a genuine giant in our field—and who has never won a Hugo award.

Granted, you couldn’t have done it this year because Gene Wolfe didn’t write anything that would have qualified. But you could have done it the previous year, because he published several qualifying stories including a novel—and any of the years before that in which you’ve advanced a slate.

But you chose instead to champion Vox Day and John C. Wright, neither of whom could reach up high enough to shine Gene Wolfe’s shoes. And, to make things still worse, have spouted such opinions as that:

Throwing acid in women’s faces is a small price to pay for stable marriages. (Vox Day)

[Here’s the actual quote: “a few acid-burned faces is a small price to pay for lasting marriages, stable families, legitimate children, low levels of debt, strong currencies, affordable housing, homogenous populations, low levels of crime, and demographic stability.” http://voxday.blogspot.ca/2012/06/scientist-beats-up-pz.html]

The instinctive reaction of men to homosexuals is to beat them to death. (John C. Wright).

[Here’s the actual quote: “In any case, I have never heard of a group of women descended on a lesbian couple and beating them to death with axhandles and tire-irons, but that is the instinctive reaction of men towards fags.” http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2015/04/john-c-wright-tries-to-cover-up-that-hes-a-wannabe-gay-basher.html]

I have the privilege of knowing Gene Wolfe and counting him a friend. I don’t know Gene’s opinions on same-sex marriage, because we’ve never discussed the issue. But I’m pretty sure he’s opposed to it for the same reasons many conservatives and Catholics are opposed. What I am absolutely certain of is that no one ever has or ever will hear Gene Wolfe express the sort of attitudes about other human beings that spill from the mouths of Theodore Beale and John C. Wright like sewage out of a drain pipe.

So if your purpose—as Larry Correia has stated publicly—was to demonstrate the liberal perfidy of Hugo voters and their blind prejudice toward conservatives, why did you nominate Vox Day and John C. Wright instead of Gene Wolfe? Or, for that matter, Mike Resnick—who had seven qualifying stories in 2013 and four in 2014?

The answer is obvious. Gene Wolfe might not have won the award—he’s been nominated twice but never won—and Mike Resnick might not have won again. But there would have been no opposition to either nomination on political grounds. We don’t have to guess about this. While Gene has never won a Hugo award he’s been showered by Nebula nominations—twenty in all—and he’s won the Nebula twice. Resnick has been nominated for a Nebula eleven times and won once.

Keep in mind that the Nebula awards are handed out by SFWA, an organization of professional authors—that is to say, by the very source and font of all Liberal Wickedness, according to Brad Torgersen. And yet SFWA has never hesitated to applaud two of science fiction’s prominent authors despite their political conservatism and, in the case of Wolfe, his Catholicism. (Resnick is an atheist.)

Torgersen and Larry Correia are being disingenuous. In order to get the sort of political opposition they wanted to “prove” their contention that the awards are politically biased, they had to go out of their way to nominate two authors whose political views are so toxic they were bound to trigger off a furious reaction. By analogy, this is like someone who insists on including paintings by Adolf Hitler in an art exhibit in order to “prove” that his critics are politically biased when they object—biased against the exhibitor’s politics, mind you, not Hitler’s.

I can speak for myself. I am not biased against authors whose political views I disagree with. Hell, I co-author novels and stories with the same writers I’ll turn around the next day and argue politics with. To name two, David Weber and Mike Resnick. To name a third, Dave Freer, who has been supporting the Sad Puppies in the current ruckus. And while I’ve never co-authored anything with Gene Wolfe and don’t expect I ever will, I hope to see him again at Windycon later this year and have dinner with him, as we do whenever we meet each other.

Outside of science fiction, some of my favorite authors are Fyodor Dostoyevsky and William Faulkner, neither of whom—especially Dostoyevsky—had political views I agree with. This is hardly an unusual stance for socialists, by the way. Karl Marx’s favorite author was Honoré de Balzac, who was a conservative royalist.

But neither Dostoyevsky nor Balzac advocated—as Theodore Beale (“Vox Day”) does—that my daughter should be shot in the head because she’s a schoolteacher and my wife should have acid thrown in her face. (Yes, I know Beale insists he doesn’t “advocate” such things. He simply calls them “rational” when the Taliban or someone else does it. All that demonstrates is that he’s a liar on top of everything else.) Nor did they ever advocate the extermination of people whose politics or religion offended them by equating them with insects, as John C. Wright has done. (Here’s the quote from him: “I have no hatred in my heart for any man’s politics, policies, or faith, any more than I have hatred for termites; but once they start undermining my house where I live, it is time to exterminate them.”)

If Brad Torgersen and Larry Correia can’t understand the difference, that’s their problem, not mine.

If they wanted to challenge what they perceive as the liberal orthodoxy that has a stranglehold over science fiction’s major awards, they could have nominated works by such conservative authors as Gene Wolfe or Mike Resnick. Instead, they deliberately chose vicious, sadistic flyweights like Theodore Beale and John C. Wright. Both of whom are literary authors, to boot, not the sort of appeal-to-the-mass-audience writers the Sad Puppies claim to be championing.

 

All right, enough on that. Moving on to the longest portion of Torgersen’s post, we encounter many paragraphs of denunciation:

“The opponents of Sad Puppies 3 — some of whom I would be tempted to call puppy-kickers — have threatened, demanded, and badgered a great deal. This wasn’t a life-or-death bloodsport until the progressive guardians of the field decided that Sad Puppies 3 was justification for open war. They happily became (and in most instances, remain) puppy-kickers. And they are proud of themselves for it, too.

“I guess inviting more people to the table is the most horrible thing in the SF/F world?

“Because that’s what happened: Sad Puppies 3 invited more people to the table, not less. We wanted to make the tent bigger.

“The puppy-kickers have busied themselves trying to find ways to evict people from the tent. For ideological infractions. For taste infractions. For insufficient “fan cred” as defined by the denizens of Worldcon — some of whom are obsessed with keeping Fandom a capital-f affair, for capital-f people only.

“Sad Puppies 3 wanted to push back against blind spots, and get recognition for new and established authors alike.

“The puppy-kickers used that as an excuse to scream “NO AWARD!”, while at the same time threatening careers, using lies and character assassination against myself and Larry Correia in particular, and to also try to cajole deserving people to withdraw from the ballot.

“Remind me, again, who “loves” Science Fiction & Fantasy? Who pissed in the cornflakes, to borrow one user’s analogy?”

 

Once again, we see what has become the Sad Puppies’ standard operating procedure—long-winded denunciation of usually-nameless villains who have supposedly done them wrong.

Before I go any further, I need to make something clear. That there have been wrongs done to the Sad Puppies is unquestionable. Leaving aside the criticism I just made recently of Irene Gallo’s comments, a number of the characterizations made of the Sad Puppies in posts scattered all over the internet have ranged from stupid and ignorant to downright sleazy and scurrilous. To make things worse, some of these ignorant/stupid/sleazy/scurrilous statements have to some degree bled into the mass media.

But fair’s fair—or, I should say, unfair is unfair, since plenty of the Sad Puppies’ ignorant/stupid/sleazy/scurrilous statements—and if you don’t think they haven’t made plenty of them, stick around—have bled into the right-wing mass media as well. Consider, for instance, this gem of journalistic distortion on Breitbart: http://www.breitbart.com/london/2015/02/05/the-hugo-wars-how-sci-fis-most-prestigious-awards-became-a-political-battleground/)

I’m going to dissect the article in Breitbart at some length, for two reasons. The first is because I don’t want to be accused of doing what I accuse the Sad Puppies of doing, which is to cite people who are obscure and have no influence (on the rare occasions when they cite anyone at all). Breitbart is a major outlet in right-wing media and has enough influence to have gotten USDA official Shirley Sherrod fired by lying about her, to have played a major role in destroying the community organization ACORN by lying about them, and to have temporarily impeded the confirmation of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel by lying about him.

(If you want the details concerning Breitbart’s inveterate dishonesty, they’re not hard to find. Use the magic word: Google.)

In short, Breitbart is a WAY, WAY more influential force than someone like Irene Gallo.

The second reason I want to concentrate on the Breitbart article is because of its one and only virtue: unlike the normal practice of the Sad Puppies, Breitbart actually name names. Hallelujah.

After an opening two paragraphs in which Breitbart trots out the standard right-wing whine that the nation is being over-run by social justice warriors, they move on to discuss how this blight has now affected science fiction. They begin as follows:

“The story begins, as ever, with a small group of social justice-minded community elites who sought to establish themselves as the arbiters of social mores. This group would decide who deserved a presence in SFF and who deserved to be ostracised.

“Their victims are littered across the SFF community. In 2013, the Bulletin of the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) were targeted by a shirtstorm-like cyber-mob of digital puritans after one of their cover editions was deemed to be “too sexual.” The controversy did not die down until two of its most respected writers, Mike Resnick and Barry Malzburg, were dismissed from the publication. This occurred despite a vigorous counter-campaign by liberal members of the sci-fi community, including twelve Nebula award winners and three former presidents of the SFWA.

“Unfortunately, the current crop of elite figures in the SFF community have become either apologists or out-and-out cheerleaders for intolerance and censorship. Redshirts author John Scalzi, a close friend of anti-anonymity crusader Wil Wheaton – was head of the SFWA at the time of the controversy and quickly caved in to activist pressure. This was unsurprising, given that he shared many of their identitarian views.”

[Nota bene: all the spelling errors are theirs, not mine. EF]

First, notice the standard method also used by the Sad Puppies—to make sweeping generalizations based on… a tiny number of cases.

The sweeping generalization is this: “Their victims are littered across the SFF community.”

Jeepers! Images of the slain and mutilated careers of dozens of conservative authors spring to mind. Unfortunately for the premise, however, there is only one specific case cited, involving only two authors. And the damage actually done to anyone doesn’t begin to match Breitbart’s hyperbole. But this should come as no surprise since it’s the method Brad Torgersen and Larry Correia and the Sad Puppies have been using all along. Wild charges, sweeping generalizations, based on…

Not much of anything, if anything at all.

What happened in the not-so-notorious case of Resnick and Malzberg [please note my correct spelling of Barry’s name: EF] vs. SFWA’s Bulletin? In a nutshell, two authors made some comments in the course of a discussion printed in the Bulletin to which a number of other members of SFWA objected. Resnick and Malzberg then took exception to the objections, a wrangle erupted, at the end of which the people in charge of SFWA and its Bulletin decide the best course of action for the organization’s self-interest was to fire Resnick and Malzberg. (More precisely, since neither of them was an employee of SFWA, they discontinued the column that Resnick and Malzberg had maintained for some time.)

In short, following the standard practices of organizations and companies in a capitalist society, enshrined by law, they severed business relations with people whom they’d found to be an impediment to their well-being. When applied to employees, it’s called “at-will employment” and it’s something that every right-winger in America vehemently supports—until they get caught in the grinder. Then, all of a sudden, they discover “principles” that don’t exist.

Not being employees but what amounted to free-lance contractors, Resnick and Malzberg had no legal basis to object at all. Any more than Phil Robertson had a legal basis to object when A&E suspended him from Duck Dynasty because of his controversial public remarks on race and sexual orientation.

The American right wing blew their stack over that issue also. Apparently they believe there’s a constitutional right to have your own reality TV show. And now, it seems, a constitutional right to maintain a column in a magazine owned by someone else.

Uh, no, there isn’t. Why does a Bolshevik like me have to keep explaining the ABCs of capitalism to people who claim to love and adore that economic system?

But let’s leave aside the legalities. Did Resnick and Malzberg suffer any significant damage to their careers as a result of what Breitbart calls “a shirtstorm-like cyber-mob of digital puritans”?

(If you’re wondering what a “shirtstorm” is, so am I. Probably a clumsy attempt to meld “storm troopers” and “shit storm.” Happily for them, Breitbart’s writers don’t have to make a living based on their prose, just their bullshit.)

I haven’t had any contact with Barry Malzberg for a while, so I can’t say in his case. I do have regular contact with Mike Resnick, since we’re co-authoring a novel at the moment. And while Mike was certainly pissed off by the whole thing—everybody has a constitutional right to get pissed off, you betcha—he never said anything to me indicating he thought he’d suffered any significant damage to his career. The truth is, he’s one hell of a lot tougher than Breitbart gives him credit for. So is Barry.

Part of what I find so annoying about the Sad Puppies and those who support them or publicize them is what I will politely call their “inflation” of actual harm done and damages suffered. As I spelled out in an earlier essay, my own definition of “political persecution” has a hell of a lot higher bar than theirs does. I think in terms of people trying to run me over with pickup trucks and beating me with baseball bats, not being rude to me on a panel discussion at a science fiction convention or discontinuing a column that doesn’t pay all that well anyway.

Note something else as well. I will give Breitbart credit for one thing: They did at least mention that the discontinuation of Resnick and Malzberg’s column generated “a vigorous counter-campaign by liberal members of the sci-fi community, including twelve Nebula award winners and three former presidents of the SFWA.”

The problem here is that Breitbart, like the Sad Puppies they are championing, is trying to have its cake and eat it too. On the one hand, they point to the defeat of the “vigorous counter-campaign” as further proof of the tyrannical power in the science fiction community of “a small group of social justice-minded community elites.”

But by what means did these small groups come to wield such power in the SFF community? Well—according to Torgersen—because they are not small groups at all but “make up the vast bulk of editors, authors, artists, and publishers” who have, aided and abetted by like-minded fans, turned the field of science fiction and fantasy into “a thoroughly progressive playhouse.”

But if that’s the case, where did this “vigorous counter-campaign” of liberals—which included twelve Nebula award winners and three former SFWA presidents—come from?

To call this argument a muddle is to insult muddles. It’s a mishmash of contradictory statements none of which make much sense on its own terms and which become downright hallucinatory when they are combined.

All right. I’ll skip over the paragraph that denounces Scalzi for being a lapdog to identitarians—whatever the hell that silly word means—and a friend of Wil Wheaton’s, gasp!—except to take note of the term itself. What is it about right-wingers, anyway? They keep accusing everyone else of being victim-mongerers obsessed with identity politics but they’re the ones who prattle endlessly about their supposed persecution [“victims are littered across the SFF community”] and nobody generates identity-labels like they do. Start with the term “identitarians” itself—did I mention the clumsy prose?—and move on to “social justice warriors,” “SJWs,” “CHORFs”, oh, it goes on and on.

Those lousy social justice warrior identitarian cliquist holier-than-thou obnoxious reactionary liberal fanatics keep trying to reduce people to categories…

Ah…yeah. Right.

But let’s move on to the next paragraph, which seems to have some meat on it. At first glance, anyway.

“But Scalzi is, if anything, merely the moderate ally of a far more radical group of community elites. He hasn’t gone nearly as far as former SFWA Vice President Mary Kowal, who handles political disagreement by telling her opponents to “shut the fuck up” and quit the SFWA. Or former Hugo nominee Nora Jemisin, who says that political tolerance “disturbs” her. Or, indeed, the prolific fantasy author Jim C. Hines, who believes that people who satirize religion and political ideologies (a very particular religion, and a very particular ideology, of course) should be thrown out of mainstream SFF magazines.”

Notice, first, the usual absence of details. Oh, those pesky, pestiferous details—such as “where, when, why and to whom?”

First, we are told that former SFWA vice-president Kowal handles political disagreement by telling her opponents to “shut the fuck up” and leave SFWA. As it happens, I ran across Kowal at the recent Nebula Awards and asked her for her side of the charge. Mary told me that she did indeed tell some people to “shut the fuck up” but it had nothing to do with “political opposition” unless you define the term so broadly as to be meaningless. What happened, according to her, was that a small number of SFWA members were behaving abusively toward her when she was secretary of the organization and she finally got fed up and told them to shut the fuck up.

Which version of the story is correct? I can’t vouch for it either way, personally. What I do know is that Breitbart’s track record for honesty stinks to high heaven, so I figure that Kowal’s version is the accurate one. But for the sake of argument let’s give Breitbart the benefit of the doubt and assume that she is, indeed, a veritable Harpy of the Left.

Moving on to the charge Breitbart makes against Jemisin, we find the same pattern. Breitbart gives no indication as to when, where, to whom and in what context Jemisin supposedly made her statement that political tolerance “disturbs” her—that is to say, those pesky pestiferous details that always seem to elude the Sad Puppies and their allies in the media.

I’d particularly like to know those details in this case, because the characterization of Jemisin’s supposed remark positively reeks of “taken wildly out of context”—which is Breitbart’s well-known stock in trade.

Where did Jemisin say it? When did she say it? To whom did she say it? In what context did she say it?

You will search in vain for the answers.

Things pick up with the third example, however, for Breitbart does provide a link to the statement by Jim Hines which they summarize as his belief “that people who satirize religion and political ideologies (a very particular religion, and a very particular ideology, of course) should be thrown out of mainstream SFF magazines.”

That is a preposterous interpretation of what Hines actually said. You don’t have to take my word for it, read it yourself:

http://www.jimchines.com/2013/04/bigots-bullies-and-enablers/

But let’s leave aside the fact that Breitbart either grossly distorts what people actually say or makes obviously paraphrased or taken-out-of-context accusations without providing any citations. Let us assume for a moment that every single charge they level in this paragraph is completely accurate in every jot and tittle.

SO FUCKING WHAT?

This is just absurd. We are told that a former vice-president of SWFA told people to shut the fuck up or leave SFWA when, even in the days when she was the organization’s vice-president she had no power to enforce either demand. (And wouldn’t even if she’d been the president instead of the vice-president.)

So what difference does it make what she said?

We are told that N.K. Jemisin is “disturbed” by political tolerance. If so, why should anyone care? What power does she have to enforce her distaste for political tolerance?

Answer: zero.

As for Jim Hines’ supposed demand that offenders of his dictates be thrown out of mainstream SFF magazines, he is neither the publisher nor the editor of any mainstream SFF magazine. So who cares what he does or does not “demand”? How is he in any position to enforce his so-called demand?

In the next paragraph in the article, Breitbart makes an attempt to explain the undue influence of “a small group of social justice-minded community elites.” Here it is:

“Most of these people are small fry compared to the true big beasts of the SFF world, like Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin, or J.K. Rowling. But through a mix of obsessive politicking in institutions like the SFWA and the familiar whipping up of social-justice outrage mobs online, they have been able to exert disproportionate influence.”

Oh, boy. Like I said, calling this a muddle is to insult muddles.

Let’s start with this strand in the tangle: “But through a mix of obsessive politicking in institutions like the SFWA…”

First, note the ever-present inflation and sweeping generalization: “…in institutions like the SFWA.”

What other institutions “like the SFWA” are you talking about? There is only one writers’ organization in the field of fantasy and science fiction, which is SFWA itself. You can stretch that to two if you include the Horror Writers Association.

Between them, they have less than three thousand members. The “power” they exert over the careers of writers barely reaches the level of “minimal.” Plenty of successful authors do not belong to either organization without suffering any harm to their careers whatsoever. So how and in what way does “obsessive politicking” in SFWA matter to anybody except the people in SFWA engaging in it? It doesn’t matter who wins, because regardless of who it is they can’t exert any significant influence over writers as a whole.

And they can’t exert any at all over the fans—who are the ones who vote on the Hugo awards.

Ah, but it seems the (laughable) power of the “institutions like the SFWA” exerts itself through “the familiar whipping up of social-justice outrage mobs online.”

Which is just as laughable. I say this as someone who has been the victim of a real mob. Trust me, the difference between a flesh-and-blood mob and a virtual one is enormous. It’s the difference between a club and an electron.

I sneer at the electron. Besides which, it only takes a few dozen people to form a real mob, but it takes a hell of a lot more to form an online mob.

Not to mention that nothing stops right-wingers from forming their own online mobs—which they do, quite readily.

Oh, wait—I forget the double standard. When progressives gather on a web site to shriek their social-justice outrage, they are a “mob.” When right-wingers gather on a web site to denounce social-justice outrage, they are having a “discussion.”

Ah…yeah. Right.

Finally, we come to Breitbart’s concluding paragraph:

“Today, no one is safe. Right-wingers like Theodore Beale face ostracization over accusations of racism (Beale is himself Native American), while even progressives or independent authors like Bryan Thomas Schmidt are denounced as “cultural appropriators”; in Schmidt’s case, because he prepared an anthology of nonwestern sci-fi stories. Peak absurdity was achieved in 2014 when Jonathan Ross was forced to cancel his appearance at the Hugo Awards after the SJWs of SFF whipped themselves into a panic-fuelled rage over fears that Ross might – might! – make a fat joke. Even the New Statesman, which sometimes reads like an extension of Tumblr, came out and condemned the “self-appointed gatekeepers” of SFF.”

We begin with a portentous statement of doom: Today, no one is safe.

Wow! But, ah…. safe from what, exactly?

A bullet in the back of the head in the virtual cellars of a virtual Lubyanka?

Ah, no. If you go back to the title of the article (“The Hugo Wars: How Sci-fi’s Most Prestigious Awards Became a Political Battleground”) you will be startled to recall that we’re actually talking about the Hugo award.

So, we need to translate Breitbartese into English:

Today, no one is safe from not getting a Hugo award.

Not… quite as dramatic, is it? Especially when you consider that since the first Hugo awards were given out in 1953 the overwhelming majority of science fiction and fantasy writers have never been safe from not getting a Hugo award. We have always been at great and terrible risk of not getting an award.

Yet, somehow, we survived the ordeal. There is not one recorded instance of an author keeling over because they didn’t get a Hugo. (Getting drunk, yes; dropping dead, no.)

Breitbart then—gee, what a surprise—glosses over the nature of Theodore Beale. He is “accused” of racism, it seems. This is like saying that Heinrich Himmler is “accused” of anti-Semitism. Uh, no. Heinrich Himmler was an anti-Semite and Theodore Beale is a racist.

Breitbart also provides us with the information that Beale is a Native American, in a transparent attempt to further gloss over Beale’s racism. Assuming it’s true—which I don’t, since it’s based on a statement by Beale himself, who lies about lots of things—so what? One of the most vicious racists in American history was Stand Watie, the slave-owning Cherokee who served as a general in the Confederate army and who ordered his troops to murder any black soldiers they captured.

This all culminates with the supposedly great crime at the 2014 Worldcon, where Jonathan Ross was “forced” to cancel his appearance by the SJWs.

Oh, those blood-drenched acronyms! Just like Tamerlane, they leave pyramids of skulls behind them.

Well. Sorta. In a really really virtual sorta way, if you know what I mean.

In point of fact, Ross was not “forced” to cancel his appearance. He chose to do so after seeing the ruckus on Twitter by some people planning to attend the London Worldcon. The behavior of those people was publicly criticized by Neil Gaiman and plenty of others in the F&SF community.

 

Breitbart is unusual, however, in providing any names at all. The much more common practice of the Sad Puppies is the method used by Brad Torgersen in the long diatribe I quoted earlier. Except for James May, you will hardly ever see the Sad Puppies name names and provide examples of their charges and claims. The accusations are almost always vague when it comes to specific identities. The villains all wear black hats with such broad brims that you can never discern any actual features. They are faceless, nameless, unknown.

(I should mention one other possible exception, who is Dave Freer. I say “possible” because it’s not clear to me if Dave really supports the Sad Puppies or if he’s just irritated by their opponents. Dave Freer is to “contrarian” what water is to “wet.” Whatever the case might be, he does not hesitate to name names. But Freer is not at the center of this debate so I’ll ignore him hereafter unless that changes. Full disclosure: Dave Freer is a good friend of mine and someone with whom I’ve co-authored almost a dozen novels, with at least two more coming.)

The reason the Sad Puppies avoid naming names is because of the problem they immediately run into when, as James May does, they do start identifying individual villains. In a nutshell, as villains go, these black hats are…

Well. Pretty pathetic.

I mean, give me a break. James May winds up having to dig around so deeply in the bottom of a (mostly empty) barrel that as one example of the presumed puppy-kickers he cites an individual simply because he submitted a term paper for an undergraduate English Literature course at a university in Sweden whose title sounded suspiciously…

You know. Suspicious.

The title was “Androgyny and the Uncanny in Ursula Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness and Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice.

Ooooooo…! You can practically hear the poor puppy’s ribcage being crushed under the literary jackboot…

I read the first part of the paper, by the way. It has absolutely nothing to do with the Hugo controversy. It’s simply the sort of hyper-intellectualized analysis of two novels that any undergraduate will write to get a good grade in a literature course. (There’s a reason I majored in history instead of English Lit.)

But this is the method Torgersen uses himself—and has from the beginning. He points to—refers to, rather; it’s always a wave of the hand rather than a pointing finger—incidents at least some which are genuinely outrageous in terms of unfair and sometimes scurrilous charges being leveled against him or other Sad Puppies. And then, by leaving the details and specifics unclear, tries to inflate the incidents into the literary equivalent of the Albigensian Crusade.

So, any insignificant nitwit spouting insults on a panel at an SF convention becomes the equivalent of being blackballed by publishers. Any lout spewing venom in a discussion anywhere on the internet becomes a Secret Master of Hugodom, even though nobody’s ever heard of him except his (few) friends and family. Any troll with a blog that has a very modest number of readers is transmuted into the She-Devil of Political Correctness.

As time goes by, talking to each other in their echo chamber, Torgersen and his supporters have persuaded themselves that this (not so very large) pack of trolls, jerks and assholes are science fiction’s equivalent of the iron fist of the KGB dragging poor helpless little puppies into the bowels of Lubyanka Prison, there to be silenced by bullets in the back of their heads.

What makes this even more ridiculous—not to mention annoying—is that while the Sad Puppies have indeed been the victims of excessive belligerence and vituperation, they are just as guilty themselves.

Consider this gem of hyperbole, spouted by Brad Torgersen:

“Nielsen-Haydens, your fellow travelers, and media goombahs . . . I MOCK YOU! I MOCK YOUR ASININE INCESTUOUS CLUSTERFUCKED LITTLE CULTURE OF DOCTRINAIRE PROGRESSOSEXUAL MEDIOCRITY MASKED AS SUPERIORITY! You are all dolts. You are moral and physical cowards. You are without ethics, without scruples, and if you weren’t so patently pathetic, I’d say you might be dangerous.

Fuck you. Fuck you all. The forces of the progressive pink and poofy Xerxes were met at the Hugo Hot Gates, and repelled by a few brave dudes and dudettes with the stones to stand up to your bullshit.”

[http://madgeniusclub.com/2015/04/13/nostradumbass-and-madame-bugblatterfatski/]

Anybody who posts something like this online has no business complaining about the rhetoric of other people.

What this debate has basically come down to is the Sad Puppies defending their frequently irresponsible and sometimes outrageous conduct by insisting “they did it first!” And, often enough, their opponents yell back the same thing.

He cheated first! No, she did! He was mean to me! She was meaner! He lied! Maybe I did but she lied first and worst!

Who is right and who is wrong? Who did or did not instigate the brawl?

I DON’T CARE. This crap belongs in a playpen.

Leaving that aside, can we pause for a reality check? Being insulted and denigrated only constitutes “persecution” if the people doing the insulting and denigrating are in position to enforce their opinions. That general truth is only amplified when the insults and denigrations are mostly virtual. Or is there anyone still alive who doesn’t know that an accurate map of the internet would have THERE BE TROLLS plastered all over?

I could post a statement online that “Apple pie tastes good” and within a week there would be counter-posts accusing me of being a stooge for Marie Callender and Sara Lee, an ignoramus on the subject of gluten and its dangers, an outright apologist for gluten and its malevolent evil, a dolt who doesn’t understand that blueberry pie is way better than apple pie, an advocate of patriarchy trying to smuggle my message under the guise of plaudits for a type of pie when what I really want is to force all women back into the kitchen baking pies, a pewling lackey for women selling out his masculine birthright for a piece of pie instead of hunting wild boar with a spear in a manly manner, a cultural chauvinist trying to impose his culinary preferences on the world’s population, most of whom don’t eat apples in any form, on and on and on…

And…

So fucking what? None of this counts as “persecution” unless the jerks posting the stuff are in position to deny me access to apple pie. Which—to put it mildly—they are not.

So what this all really comes down to is the implication that even though the “puppy-kickers” don’t have much if any real power, the purportedly deafening noise they’re making online is overwhelming the critical senses of people who will be voting on the Hugo awards. Whether that’s true or not can be debated, mind you. Personally, I doubt if most of the people who will be voting on the Hugos are paying that much attention to all this. People who participate in online wrangles invariably over-estimate the extent to which The Rest Of The World is paying the slightest bit of attention to them. But even if it is true, I come back to my sad (couldn’t resist) refrain:

So fucking what? By Torgersen’s own analysis, most of those Hugo-voters already belong to the “thoroughly progressive playhouse” anyway, so they’re naturally inclined to think the worst of Sad Puppiedom even if there were complete silence on the internet.

Finally, let’s get down to the most basic reality check of all. We are not debating the fate of the universe here. Nobody is doing the literary equivalent of storming ashore at Omaha Beach or—whatever Brad Torgersen’s delusions—making a desperate last stand at Thermopylae. The fate of western civilization is not hanging in the balance—or, for that matter, the fate of the most run-down roadhouse in the most desolate stretch of the loneliest highway in the least populated area of North America, whose one (drunken) customer is arguing with the (dimwitted) bartender over whether Star Wars is better than Star Trek.

No, what’s actually at stake here is who gets (or doesn’t get) a Hugo Award.

Thazzit. An award that is voted on by less than one-tenth of one percent of all the people in the United States who regularly read science fiction and fantasy—most of whom, although they are often aware of the Hugo, pay very little if any attention to it.

My point here is not to denigrate the Hugo. It’s simply to recognize it for what it is—and isn’t. The Hugo is the most prestigious award handed out by what is usually called “SF fandom.” Not even that, actually, because most members of SF fandom only attend local and regional conventions, not the Worldcon, and don’t vote on the Hugo awards. So it’s really only a subset of fandom, albeit one that’s very blurry at the edges.

The mistake people often make—Torgersen and the Sad Puppies are certainly making it—is to confuse that specific subset of people who read fantasy and science fiction with the readership as a whole. More precisely, to assume that the tastes and opinions of that (relatively quite small) subset of readers is an accurate sample of the tastes and opinions of the general audience.

But it’s not—any more than the subset of readers who generally prefer military SF, or epic fantasy, or urban fantasy, or paranormal romance, or alternate history, or hard SF, or space opera, or any other of the many branches of our genre (so-called “genre,” rather, but that’s a subject for another day) are necessarily an accurate sampling of the whole audience.

An author can spend his or her entire career—long, successful career—working in branches of fantasy and science fiction that generally get short shrift among that subset of readers who vote on Hugo Awards. Just as a different author can become a darling of the Hugo-voting subset of readers while remaining very obscure to the vast majority of the F&SF audience.

Which of them is “better”? The question isn’t completely meaningless. The problem is that there is only one objective answer to it: Which one of them—if either—is still being read by anyone except graduate students looking for a dissertation topic a century after they died?

Alas, it’s an answer that no one will ever know during their lifetime.

So it goes. This is the reason I don’t lose any sleep over awards. I don’t go to bed at night filled with bitterness because I haven’t won any awards—even been nominated, for that matter—and I don’t wake up in the morning with a new hope springing up in my heart that maybe… maybe…

The truth is, I simply don’t give a damn. If someday I should happen to win an award, great. I enjoy being applauded as much as any normal human being does. But winning or losing awards is not why I became a writer in the first place, it’s not something I think about except on rare occasions—and then, usually as idle curiosity (“I wonder who’s up for a Hugo this year? Anybody I know?”)—it’s not something that defines my self-worth even as a writer, much less as a person, and it’s not something that will determine whether or not people are still reading my work a hundred years after I shuffle off this mortal coil.

Do Brad Torgersen and Larry Correia really disagree with me about this? I doubt if they do, actually. So why do they let themselves get so worked up about it? Why don’t they—along with any and all of the Sad Puppies—simply shrug their shoulders, dismiss the Hugo Award as something only of interest to pea-brained liberal twits, and go on their way.

If they really, really still want an award, nothing stops them from creating their own. Call it the…

Well, whatever strikes their fancy. If it was me, I’d call it the Morlock Award. Yeah, sure, the snotty holier-than-thou effete Eloi think the Morlocks are a bunch of lowbrow troglodytes, but guess who winds up eating who…?

 

Okay, that’s it for now. In a day or two, I’ll make a final post in which I will make some practical suggestions and recommendations for how the Hugo awards might be improved.

 

(for the other posts on the Hugo controversy, visit the Hugo Controversy category.)

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Comments

382 Responses to A RESPONSE TO BRAD TORGERSEN

  1. snowcrash says:

    ::slow clap for the above post::

    I’m still mentally processing this tour-de-force, but can I just say that your following summation of Mr Wright’s prose:

    …an example of what I think of as the Saudi School of Prose. No noun may go out in public unless she is veiled by grandiloquence and accompanied by an adjective.

    As the kids say, Sick burn, bro.

    • stellabystarlight says:

      Which is not always bad sometimes I wan to swim in words like Scrooge McDuck does his money. But Mr Wright’s prose doesn’t call to me. Just don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater

  2. Pingback: And Now For Something Completely Distempered 6/9 | File 770

  3. George R.R. Martin says:

    Bravo.

  4. ahd says:

    Ah, the separate-but-equal awards trope. Again. Yes, you’re right, this has reached its limit of productive discussion.

  5. “Compared to this stuff, a Henry James story is downright riveting.”

    Delightful. The whole post is delightful.

  6. Renda Halfen says:

    I have just worked my way through your essay, and find your commentary as enjoyable as your fiction. I have been reading SFF for over 40 years, and the ones I like end up on my book shelves. I have not counted but I doubt many are Hugo winners. Who the fuck cares? Politics are politics, and anyone who thinks that an award should be based on that has a screw loose. I might be a progressive reactionary redneck, if you can grok that, but all I want to do is read. Who sells books? I know who I am going to read. It is not going to be some one who’s that insecure or bigoted.
    Sci-fi is supposed to be progressive, make us think what is possible, or just take us somewhere else. As a fan that is all I can ask for, and an award is not going to change that. A pox on both sides trolls.
    Can I get back to my book now?

  7. We’re not worthy, sir. Thank you.

  8. Echo says:

    ” None of this counts as “persecution” unless the jerks posting the stuff are in position to deny me access to apple pie. Which—to put it mildly—they are not.”

    Must be nice to be an established author, like GRRM up there. Makes it so much easier to preach about how the publishers calling people idiotic nazis really don’t have any power to harm the careers of people they don’t like.

    • Lenora Rose says:

      I am a barely published writer at the start f a career.

      Let’s assume I am blacklisted by Patrick Nielsen Hayden (Say, by putting a hyphen in his surname), and T*r wn’t publish me*. Let’s assume as well that I have written a superb manuscript. The result?
      1) PNH puts his cash where his reading skill is and makes an ffer. My career lives. Hurrah.
      2) T*r fails t acquire a superb manuscript – anther publisher will instead. My career lives. Hurrah.

      Alienating ALL the publishers enugh t refuse a superb manuscript? Requires true evil. As I understand it, at least 1 mystery and fantasy writer is a cnvicted murderer.

      (My tddler spilled cffee n the keybard yesterday, and it seems there’s mre damage than i initially fund. Trying t type a whle pst withut the letter “0” is … interesting. Especially when discussing T0r.)

      * Which isn’t reality, but let’s assume it true fr the argument

  9. Excellent post. (And I am among the many sf/f writers who are not SFWA members. I used to be a member, but I dropped out. Mostly because I always thought SFWA seemed too full of people like the Puppies, i.e. people prone to perpetual, pointless, idiotic, and unprofessional feuding. Vox Day’s prolonged SFWA tantrum, which seemed to go on for months, was the final straw for me, and I dropped out while he was still shrilly shrieking there.)

    My impression of this Puppy mess has been, from the beginning, that it’s entirely about professional resentment and personal vitriol, and that politics and principles of “what constitutes good sf” are just window-dressing for it. It has seemed to me since its inception, based on my reading of the Puppies’ own words on their blogs and on other social media, that the Puppy campaign is about “sticking it” to particular people they don’t like (such as John Scalzi and the Nielsen Haydens) and to a more general crowd of “Social Justice Warriors” (which phrase by now seems to include almost everyone who has ever disagreed with them, disliked their behavior, or rejected their various premises); about resentment over not winning Campbells or Hugos; and about a general feeling that they should be respected and recognized as important by people they feel dismiss or ignore them.

    The sheer illogic of the Puppies and also their followers eliminated my patience with any of this, along with my ability to take them at all seriously, quite some time ago. I’ve seen nothing since then to change my mind. I respect the essays you’ve written here, and I agree with most of what you’ve said, but I am extremely skeptical you can persuade anyone in the Puppy kennel of anything at all.

    • Bibliotheca Servare says:

      Meanwhile, Larry keeps on churning out bestsellers at a date that James Patterson would be unable to match were it not for his miniature army of ghostwriters (if he really writes all the books that are being published with his name on them, seemingly one per day, then that man is simply not a human. He is a fearsome book-producing monster), totally oblivious to your petty, ignorant, “broad bruash” equipped generalizations regarding his readership, him, and his family and friends. Ditto the rest of the “SP3” authors and creators. I’m aware you weren’t trying to convince anyone of anything, and as such your laughably condescending phrasing is not self-contradictory, but I do want to congratulate you on providing a perfect example of a person whose behavior “eliminates…patience…” and renders those who encounter that person’s words “…[unable] to take them at all seriously…” in gorgeous (metaphorical) technicolor. Really, it’s educational. Please, dear lady, give us a few more insulting, false generalizations about ourselves, our friends, our families, and the authors we love, to rock ourselves to sleep with at night. We have a real insomnia problem, dontcha know? Good day.
      ;-)

  10. Going To Maine says:

    Must be nice to be an established author, like GRRM up there. Makes it so much easier to preach about how the publishers calling people idiotic nazis really don’t have any power to harm the careers of people they don’t like.

    Pace Eric Flint: so what? Produce the conspiracy and the damaged careers.

  11. Echo says:

    Oh, and as an aside, does anyone know what Jean Rabe is up to these days? The… “affair” obviously didn’t hurt Resnick or Malzberg, but they weren’t the only people involved–just the biggest.

    • Eric Flint says:

      Well, I don’t know what Jean’s doing at the moment, but the job she got after getting dumped from SFWA’s Bulletin was…

      (roll of drums — oh, I SO love these delightful connections that befuddle the know-it-all critics)

      Editing a story of mine for Shahid Mahmud’s publishing house, Arc Manor. Whose PhoenixPick line is edited by….

      (roll of drums — oh, I SO love these delightful connections that befuddle the know-it-all critics)

      A guy named Mike Resnick. Who saw to it that Jean got some work after losing her SFWA gig.

      There’s a reason Mike is a friend of mine, regardless of his politics. And whatever you might think, the community of SF professionals is not a pack of wild dogs ripping at each other over carcasses. It’s not impossible to get blackballed out of our industry, but so long as you can actually do the work (or sell well enough, in the case of authors), you really have to work at it. Nobody is “out to get” Jean Rabe over the (very minor in the overall scheme of things) incident involving SFWA’s Bulletin.

      And I’m wondering, O Self-Righteous One, if you’re worried about what might happen to Irene Gallo professionally as a result of the jam she just got herself in?

      No? Didn’t think so. Stop posturing as anyone who cares about anything except your own petty partisanship.

      Speaking for myself, I hope nothing happens to Irene Gallo professionally. People screw up. That includes me. As long as they don’t keep doing it I am against penalizing people because doing so invariably poisons the atmosphere at least to some extent.

      And for the record, by the way, I disagreed with SFWA’s decision to fire Jean Rabe from her job at the Bulletin. For exactly the reason I will disagree if anyone tries to penalize Irene Gallo. Once you start this “heads must roll!” crap it generally tends to keep escalating.

      There’s a wise old saying: “Be careful what you wish for because you may get it.” And there’s another wise old saying: “What goes around comes around.”

      • Standback says:

        “Stop posturing as anyone who cares about anything except your own petty partisanship” is my new motto.

        I should print up a T-shirt…

      • James May says:

        The social justice movement has shown us the way on this one. First you separate out politics from hate speech. Then you ostracize the hate speech.

        All we need now is a definition of hate speech.

        That is a thing the social justice movement will never deliver. Mostly because it would disappear overnight from ostracizing itself. This not about partisanship but double standards. There will never be an end to this until this sick cult of intersectional gender feminism is kicked to the side of the road. Thanks to its punching up power/privilege theory, it is never wrong. Never.

      • Jean Rabe is on my Facebook wall, and much of what she’s been doing lately is nursing her elderly dog–who, sad to say, died a few days ago.

      • Rachel Swirsky says:

        Jean Rabe quit, actually. She was sick of internet raking-over-coals, I think.

        I feel quite badly for her in the entire situation. In my opinion, both Resnick and Scalzi served her poorly. Resnick’s a smart guy; he doubtless knew that comparing other SFWA members to the Khmer Rouge (IIRC, but it was some historical atrocity) for disliking some of his comments–in a paid column–was going to cause issues. He put that on her. Then Scalzi failed at his job to screen that, which is where the buck really stops, because it was his responsibility.

        The initial incidents were minor. It would have been very possible, I think, to work through it. We were trying. Scalzi and Rabe were having discussions. The cover, the barbie quote, the lady editor and how hot she was in a bikini–whatever. People were upset, and that has to do with the cultural shift, where SFWA is becoming more corporate–we’re big now! we have money!–and less of a club for the few hundred pros who go to cons. That means less smoking room conversations about who’s hot and who isn’t, and fewer scorching ladies in chainmail bikinis. But if we could have gotten things aligned a little faster, I think it would have been a minor and essentially unnoticeable shift. (“Hey, leave the comment on how everyone wanted to be with her sexually for when you change it into a book?”)

        The Khmer Rouge thing brought it to a different scale. Not because of the content per se — Resnick and Malzberg are welcome to their opinion — but because it really wasn’t appropriate for the Bulletin. Blog post, yes! Letter to the editor, yes! Paid article, being paid for by the people who were being named in those hyperbolic terms? Not really kosher.

        It’s a professional journal. If that conjures images of sterility, it should.

        For the record, Resnick and Malzberg didn’t lose their column because of this either. I mean, they made it a lot harder to justify keeping it for the capitalistic reasons you note, which again–Resnick is a smart dude, and I am positive he knew he was escalating with that rhetoric. The article probably inclined a lot of the membership to be grumpy when it came to evaluating the column.

        But look–we ran a survey, and although there were some readers, by and large most people weren’t reading or interested in the column. It was taking up a lot of space in each issue and had a limited appeal to our members, or at least the responders, most of whom wanted to see the Bulletin focus more on professional development. Which is consistent, again, with the organization’s general movement toward being more a professional organization, and less about the wonderful but niche history of science fiction. (People did say they were interested in articles about the history, but perhaps less often, and from a wider variety of people. Resnick and Malzberg had been running the column a long time, and there was some justifiable fatigue going on, which is normal for a long-running feature.)

        Rabe ended up with a different vision of her job and what the Bulletin should be than held by the board (as a whole) of SFWA at the time. That’s not surprising either, again because of the general shift toward corporatey culture. I think it was probably resolvable, but once the escalation had occurred, everything got screwed up badly. And I don’t blame Jean for deciding to bail at that point rather than dealing with more controversy which was certainly destined to happen at that point. (Which, again, Resnick must have known.)

        For what it’s worth, the person I was really irritated with in the whole situation was Scalzi. I felt bad for Jean who got pinched.

        Resnick and Malzberg made me roll my eyes, but I don’t have a problem–broadly–with getting grouchy and deciding to engage in some activism. It’s just that activism has consequences. If I’d decided to call them “eliminationists like Stalin” in a freelance column, then I’d expect things to blow up. Sometimes, that’s worth it. If they want to take that on, that’s perfectly reasonable. But I find it odd that people keep sort of insisting that the whole situation emerged like magic. Frankly, I respect Resnick’s and Malzberg’s intelligence too much to believe that.

        FWIW, I keep referring to Resnick more than Malzberg because he’s the one I’ve actually interacted with. I don’t have a personal problem with Resnick. He may have one with me. I know he liked at least one of my stories, and I published one of his, which was a Hugo-winner and exceptional. He’s a very hit-or-miss writer with me, personally, but he definitely sometimes hits. I didn’t even know his politics when I started reading him.

        I do wish I’d handled the situation differently, in retrospect. I wish I’d contacted Jean earlier, but I didn’t because Scalzi thought he had it in hand, which was fair enough, because we really didn’t expect the situation to blow up further, as none of us thought the initial problems were that big a deal. They would have been so easy to fix!

        I also wish I’d written to Mike Resnick before the explosion. Afterward, it didn’t feel like it would be fruitful, but maybe if I’d written beforehand, I could have done some ambassador work trying to get people on both sides to understand where others were coming from.

        People have accused me of leading a mob against Resnick, of having a personal vendetta against him, and of trying to ruin his chances at having Hugo nominations. Those are quotes, but none of them from prominent SFF figures. Anyway, none of these things are true. My role in the Bulletin fiasco was reactive, although I suppose that’s debatable. I have no hard feelings toward Resnick, including his decision to escalate the situation; the consequences of that bit a lot of us in the ass, including me and him, but I approve of taking a stand one believes in, even if I don’t believe it was a correct stand, especially if one is willing to accept the inevitable consequences of it. And while, in the time I’ve been reading and nominating for the Hugos, I haven’t run across a Resnick story that made my top five, it is entirely possible that someday I will, because he is a varied writer, which is one of his strengths.

        Maybe I’ll try to write him now. If he’s perceiving me as having ill intent toward him, at least I can try to clarify I don’t. I don’t think anyone in SFWA did, although he created a lot of work for us, which was exasperating at the time since I had been hoping to do other stuff.

        Again, though, taking a stand you believe in is a perfectly acceptable thing. And if that meant causing me work, then that’s what it meant. And if it meant it would make his position capitalistically untenable (though again that was not the only factor that went into decisions) then that’s what it meant, too. Taking a principled stand means understanding there will be consequences for that, and deciding it’s worth it anyway. I’m positive Mike Resnick was smart enough to see what the consequences of insulting a huge chunk of membership in a paid column would be, and I respect him for deciding the stand needed to be taken anyway. In other circumstances, on other subjects, I would do the same.

        • Rachel Swirsky says:

          “Maybe I’ll try to write him now. If he’s perceiving me as having ill intent toward him, at least I can try to clarify I don’t. I don’t think anyone in SFWA did”

          excuse me, I mean on the SFWA board there, not in SFWA in general. I may be wrong about that also; it’s not like I quizzed everyone. But it was my impression.

        • Eric Flint says:

          Thank you for this long and thoughtful post, Rachel. It clarifies what happened a lot for me. I wasn’t close to it and deliberately decided not to get close, because I was mostly just exasperated.

          To begin with, I thought the initial ruckus was a little over-the-top. It wouldn’t be fair to call it a tempest in a teapot, because the objections raised to some of Mike and Barry’s remarks were perfectly legitimate. But in the scale of oppression-and-exploitation-of-women this was pretty minor stuff. Having two men in their 70s reminiscing publicly about how attractive a female editor was several decades earlier… I mean, come on. Am I the only one who can remember plenty of uncles — hell, my father — hell, my MOTHER — making comments that were worse than that, and usually they didn’t mean any harm by it either. Compared to the pay gap or the frequency of domestic abuse or the treatment of women reporting being raped this is fairly petty, and while you can make a “broken windows” argument that small incidents of sexism eventually lead to pay gaps and toleration of rape and domestic abuse, I think it gets to be a pretty tenuous train of logic.

          But I really got exasperated when Mike and Barry dug in and doubled down. If they’d simply apologized for saying something that bothered people and let it go, I think the whole thing would have died down.

          But nooooooooooooooo….

          They had to insist that Mighty Principles were at stake — which, sorry, they weren’t — and that they were being Tyrannically Censored — nope; any magazine has the right to decide its own content — etc etc etc and the end result was pretty much a given.

          I just felt sorry that Jean got caught in the gears. As I said, I wasn’t close enough to know any of the details, but it looked to me like she was becoming something in the way of the fall guy. (Okay, fine, fall person. If I say “fall gal” I know I’ll catch hell….)

          • Rachel Swirsky says:

            Yeah, I know my feminist Dad, who’s about the same age as Resnick, makes comments like that sometimes about women. As a bisexual woman, I sometimes do, too, in private *cough*.

            I do think there’s a genuine concern that no matter how successful you are as a woman, it eventually comes down to how people view your sexuality. Do we really need to care what Hilary is wearing, or whether Michelle Obama’s arms are too strong? Some puppies have recently taken it on themselves to discuss how unfuckable I am. I’m not sure why they think this matters; it’s not like I think they’re fuckable either, so we may as well take our own separate paths. And on the other hand, Maria Dahvana Headley wrote a bit awhile ago about how stressful it is to know that professional connections may just be falling all over you to drool on your boobs.

            With the recent harassment problems at conventions–with things like editors inviting young women up to the con suite to “discuss their new novel” and then diverting them to their personal room where they commence taking off their clothes–this is a hot button for a lot of people. I get that. I also get that Resnick and Malzberg probably thought they were complimenting her, and weren’t thinking about that larger context, let alone how it looks in SFWA’s forward facing publication.

            For me, “oops, sorry” and somewhat more mindful editing in the future would have been perfect.

            And I agree that Rabe became the fall femme (maybe that’s okay because it plays on femme fatal? ;) ). Scalzi did make a post explaining the blame was his, but the narrative slipped and often focused on her. I’m pleased to know she’s getting more editing work.

            • Rachel Swirsky says:

              Sorry to pop in again — I realized my comments here came across as more harsh toward Scalzi than I intended.

              He cut corners on the particular incident*, which caused the problem, and which I meant to refer to. But afterward, he definitely did try to support Jean Rabe, too, by making it clear she didn’t have to resign, and that he would stand and back her if she chose to stay.

              *It happens in all-volunteer positions, especially when you’re tired and on tour like Scalzi was. I’ve cut a corner or seven. Luckily, most of the time it turns out not to be a big deal. But occasionally, there’s an evil clown lurking in the corner, and you really should have checked first.

          • Cat says:

            There isn’t a good female equivalent for “guy.” Limitation of the language as it currently stands.

            I’d just drop back to “but it looked to me like she was getting slated to take the fall.”

      • Echo says:

        “Stop posturing as anyone who cares about anything except your own petty partisanship.”?

        You know why I care about Rabe? Would you believe I have wonderful memories of lazy summer afternoons dozing under trees and reading Dragonlance books with my first boyfriend? It was the first time I’d read fantasy that wasn’t Tolkien, and I loved it!
        Of course, we neo-nazi brownshirts don’t actually have cherished memories or childhoods–just the programming given to us at the Koch Bros FührerKlonen factory–so take what I just said with a grain of salt.

        Re. the “incident”, here’s her own explanation. It looks like they lost a consummate professional who was the only person keeping the magazine published on time.
        That was mighty decent of Resnick–thanks for telling me. I’d only ever read his Second Contact, and sadly didn’t give him another try. I hadn’t heard about that as of last night–my quick amazon search only gave republished titles of her old books, and didn’t even turn up her new kickstarted books. (Even the amazon link in that interview 404ed for me, so it’s probably an issue on amazon’s end)
        She’s also doing something with Kevin J. Anderson, apparently

        On that subject, it’s upsetting how little mainstream coverage her Athena’s Daughters anthology got.
        I’m the self-righteous asshole here, I know, but it’s strange how activists for “inclusion” in SFF choose to spread their message . Three articles in the mainstream press about how we shouldn’t read, publish, or encourage men to write, and zero promoting a book by and about women?
        Sounds like the kind of activism you get when activism only Requires That You Hate…
        Something tells me this whole mess would never have happened if there were more Rabes and fewer professional outrage mongers in charge.

        I share your hope about Irene Gallo, with the pathetically naive addition that the situation might make her supporters take a more principled stand against blacklisting and boycotting in future.

        • Echo says:

          Whoops, missed an io9 article on it, five-ish pages back in the google results. So there was at least some attempt.

        • Bibliotheca Servare says:

          The silence! She ees deafening! Lol. Nice post, and I’d be interested to read Mr. Flint’s response. I thought only the *”puppies”* were supposed to be “quick on the trigger” when it came to slapping labels (like “O self righteous one” whose sole concern is “petty partisanship”) on the folks we disagree with? (Note, I, too am quick on the trigger far too often in that regard. I’m just making an observation) Anyway, kudos for a cogent, eloquent, succinct (a talent that is, unfortunately, beyond me…I have never been called succinct) response. Be well.
          ;-)

    • I’ve seen her name on a few anthologies on Kickstarter in the last year which have been funded.

  12. Mike says:

    You’re trying to keep me from getting enough sleep, aren’t you? Well, it’s working.

    One of the things I’m finding interesting about all of this is hearing the “real” voices of some of the writers in this field, in a way I usually don’t. It’s been very entertaining and informative.

    • Johnny says:

      No kidding. It’s tough to attend cons when you live in the boonies like I do and this whole kerfuffle has been almost like a teaser for what interacting with the authors in the field. It makes me more seriously consider planning out a trip.

  13. James May says:

    I did not cite that paper as an example of puppy-kickers and it had nothing to do with jackboots. Radical intersectional feminism is anti-male, anti-white and anti-heterosexual; that is a fact – make of it what you will. Just Ask George R.R. (“bravo”) Martin. He can kill men, just not women.

    Quote my words and stop putting inflammatory new ones about “jackboots” in my mouth or sitting me down in front of the Rush Limbaugh Radio Show. Do you have any proof I have dug deep with the intent to mischaracterize anything? I would say making me a right wing Limbaugh fan is the definition of digging deep and not coming up – “mostly empty” – but completely empty.

    The only one saying anything about an “iron fist of the KGB dragging poor helpless little puppies into the bowels of Lubyanka Prison, there to be silenced by bullets in the back of their heads” is you.

    I was explaining why Ancillary Justice had so much resonance with the feminist ideology that is the new go-to radical chic in core SFF. There is only so much room in a comments section and it’s obvious the poststructuralist French Theory about “agency” and the “performative” borrowed by Judith Butler from Jacques Derrida and applied to gender is as opaque to you as the Thirty Years War is to me. It’s a question of research. The thing is, it’s obvious to Liz Bourke, Foz Meadows and Alex MacFarlane exactly why they liked AJ and they said so when they pushed it from day one. It wasn’t the spaceships and cool battles but the “performative” effects of genderblindness.

    “… done something totally unprecedented in my experience of fiction: made a deliberate decision to use feminine nouns and pronouns as a neutral, genderless default, even in instances where a character’s biological gender is known to be male.” – Foz Meadows review of AJ

    “Up to now, I haven’t mentioned the most striking aspect of Ancillary Justice. The pronouns.” – Liz Bourke’s review of AJ at Tor.

    Alex MacFarlane’s review of AJ at Tor uses the word “gender”(ed)(s) 49 times.

    If your response is “So the fuck what” and “digging deep” for anything you disagree with then that works both ways for everything. One nice thing would be quotes proving me wrong and unconnecting dots. The name of Liz Bourke’s column at Tor is a quote from radical feminist Adrienne Rich. Rich’s most famous essay is titled “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence.” I could connect a thousand more dots but not in a comments section, and the last I checked a thousand doesn’t require any digging, deep or otherwise. It’s a flood and I only have to reach out my hand. AJ is the most awarded SF novel in history. Why? Is it that good? No. Case closed.

    You don’t seem to realize your own argument cancels itself. If actual quotes amounting to public collusion don’t mean anything – fine. Then even less do mysterious demographic spikes of white men, males gazes and white saviors, and this entire social justice initiative in SFF and its call for “diversity” is bullshit.

    • Going To Maine says:

      [GRRM] can kill men, just not women.

      Nobody tell James May about the Red Wedding.

      • Douglas Berry says:

        or Lysa Tully and Ygritte.

      • James May says:

        Tell that to the feminists at The Mary Sue who decided to review censor Game of Thrones because of Sansa Stark.

        • Mike says:

          “The Mary Sue”?

          I’ve never heard of “The Mary Sue”. Why is important who they decide to review and who they don’t? I’m sure GRR Martin is shaking out of concern over their disapprobation.

          • James May says:

            Exactly. You haven’t heard of them. So why are you arguing with people who have?

            • ThePinkAndPoofyPervulsionOfJoy says:

              What exactly is review censoring? Have they dragged GRRM down to the Cellar Of Repentant Correctitude forced him into the Tardis Of The Past Which Must Not Be and imposed a universe of rewritten Game of Thrones novels upon an unsuspecting world?

              Somehow, I think not.

        • CPaca says:

          Well, your thesis is suffering from one teeny tiny minor problem, James – as of this moment in both the books and the TV series, Sansa Stark is still alive.

          If you’re going to complain about the backlash GRRM faces in killing off female characters, it might help to actually pick one that’s a corpse, you know?…

          • James May says:

            Thanks for making my point. Sansa is alive and hundreds of men dead but feminists are upset. Did you think through your comment?

            • CPaca says:

              Dude, I just *demolished* your point. If you snark about feminists up in arms over GRRM killing female characters, you need to use a character he actually *killed*…

              The feminists are upset over the writing of Sansa Stark for TOTALLY DIFFERENT reasons. Now, I realize this may be difficult, but try to imagine that most other people have minds capable of holding more than one thought and that more than one thing might bug them…

        • Gabriel F. says:

          They aren’t censoring it. They’re voting with their dollar, as every company has the right to do. They’ve decided the show is no longer something that they want to promote, so they’ve stopped promoting it.

          Y’know, like all the Puppies who’ve suddenly decided that Irene Gallo’s comments have made them want to stop purchasing TOR books. That’s kosher, right?

          • James May says:

            Thanks for putting lipstick on Mary Sue’s pig. And a fictional character isn’t a valid comparison. The handling of Sansa Stark isn’t an analogy to libel. Who was offended over Sansa as if someone had come into their living room and slapped them? Oh, yeah – thin-skinned feminists.

        • Cat says:

          “review censor” *rolls eyes*

          Because of course they owe Game of Thrones their time. They’re just women, after all, why should they get to decide for themselves what they review and what they don’t?

          • James May says:

            They openly stated why they would no longer write about GoT. Why cover for them? You think people can’t read?

            • Going To Maine says:

              Nobody’s covering for anybody. The Mary Sue isn’t covering GoT anymore because of its depiction of Sansa getting raped. Why is that wrong? The Mary Sue is just one website. They can review what they want to review. Why do you have a problem with a critic refusing to cover something?

      • Gabriel F. says:

        Or Stoneheart. Oh wait, does she count?

    • Going To Maine says:

      “… done something totally unprecedented in my experience of fiction: made a deliberate decision to use feminine nouns and pronouns as a neutral, genderless default, even in instances where a character’s biological gender is known to be male.” – Foz Meadows review of AJ

      This is a statement of fact about the book.

      “Up to now, I haven’t mentioned the most striking aspect of Ancillary Justice. The pronouns.” – Liz Bourke’s review of AJ at Tor.

      This is also a statement of fact. The pronoun use is striking.

      Alex MacFarlane’s review of AJ at Tor uses the word “gender”(ed)(s) 49 times.

      Given that the Radch is an explicitly genderless culture and that Leckie’s chose to use gendered female pronouns to express that, a high word count for “gender” and “gendered” isn’t surprising. So this is a statement of fact about the review that makes sense in the context of the book.

      None of these statements are arguments, or demonstration of some kind of radical politics.

      AJ is the most awarded SF novel in history. Why? Is it that good? No. Case closed.

      Did it win those awards fair and square? Yes, it did. Case closed.

      Were people lying about liking it? I have no idea, but I doubt it. Why would they? Were all of the juries put under some kind of crazy pressure? That kind of extraordinary claim really does find some extraordinary evidence, and quotes about gender don’t cut it. (Also, t’s kind of insulting to your imagined conspirators that they would give so many obvious hints about their plans in public places. You need to find some good, juicy emails threatening careers.)

      • James May says:

        A series of amazing coincidences, no doubt about it.

        • Lenora Rose says:

          I like the Ancillary Series thus far because fast pace and nifty ideas, n0t because Leckie used “she”. Even y0u might, James.

          • James May says:

            What nifty ideas?

            • Lenora Rose says:

              A spin on machine intelligence that I, a reader often tired of the tropes of AI, found pretty cool. The idea of a protagonist who is formerly part of that machine intelligence, but now in a human body, and the limits of that, and also how she defines herself. The horrific processes behind making the ancillaries and the Empress respectively. Several new and varied human cultures. Plus politicking, mysteries in space, and actual characters.

              Have you read the books and missed all that? Or refused to read the books because you think the pronouns will overwhelm all that?

        • Going To Maine says:

          What “series of coincidences”? As far as I can tell, this is the sequence of events:

          1. Critics review a book favorably while bringing up one of the major elements of the text – the use of gendered language and the existence of the Radch as a genderless culture.
          2. The book wins a bunch of awards.

          This is a pretty standard chain of events. “Gender” is a plug-and-play element here; the reviews also discussed how Breq was once a spaceship, but no one seems particularly het up about that.

          The reviewers might well be more interested in books that deal with gender because, yes, gender is getting discussed more in pop culture these days. But so what? That’s not a conspiracy. That’s the invisible hand of the market giving people what they want.

          • James May says:

            I never said it was a conspiracy. I said it was put forward for reasons that had more to do with ideology than literature. Many of these folks openly state they see SF as a tool for social justice. There is an article at The Nation right now discussing that called “Why Science Fiction is a Fabulous Tool in the Fight for Social Justice.” They don’t make a secret of it, why do you? I don’t understand this constant stance where these folks openly push books for the race and sex of the authors and then when those books are noticed they call us racists for actually reading posts and Tweets where they push books that way. If you’re for affirmative action then own it but don’t pretend your own quotes don’t exist.

            • Going To Maine says:

              I never said it was a conspiracy. I said it was put forward for reasons that had more to do with ideology than literature… Many of these folks openly state they see SF as a tool for social justice. There is an article at The Nation right now discussing that called “Why Science Fiction is a Fabulous Tool in the Fight for Social Justice.” They don’t make a secret of it, why do you?

              I’m not making a secret of anything, and I’m sorry if I’ve given you that impression. To be clear: I absolutely believe that there are plenty of SFF authors, publishers, and fans out there who are concerned with race and gender issues, and that those opinions color the books they write, the books they publish, the books they read, and -most importantly- the books they like.

              What I defy you to prove is that people are voting for these books because of ideological reasons rather than because they like the books. None of your quotes about how the reviewers mention gender demonstrate this. Indeed, if their reviews didn’t mention gender they’d be doing the book disservice.

              You seem to concede the point that you’re just yelling at the kids today to get off your lawn with your line about “I never said it was a conspiracy”. If there’s no conspiracy, where’s the beef? Why are you getting het up about a book honestly winning an award? What, exactly has been or is being hurt by this?

              • James May says:

                The real issue is the hate speech surrounding all of this. None of this is ever expressed outside the context of white man this and white man that. It’s incitement. The author talks smack about white men, writes a novel which panders to this hateful feminist cult, and then has an ordinary novel elevated far past its worth as literature as a result. Open collusion to discriminate against white men is the frosting. Isn’t that enough?

              • Going To Maine says:

                The author talks smack about white men, writes a novel which panders to this hateful feminist cult, and then has an ordinary novel elevated far past its worth as literature as a result.

                There are three clauses in this sentence, and three big assumptions.
                1) Leckie’s discussion of authors pandering to straight white men isn’t “talking smack” about white men. If anything, it’s talking smack about authors who cater extensively to one audience.

                2) Leckie’s novel doesn’t “pander” to anyone. Or rather, if you think that writing a book that touches on gender is pandering, you’ve both ruled out a huge body of literature and are showing a depressing narrow-mindedness about fiction. Also, assuming that AJ’s fans were drawn to it solely for the gender stuff and not for the excellent characters and world building is pretty darn insulting to them.

                3) Perhaps most importantly, you have yet to demonstrate a causal relationship for any of this. If you’re going to say that Leckie won the award because of some cabal of fans (which, I note, would be the “conspiracy” that you’ve previously denied exists), you need to prevent some serious evidence, or at least some good counterfactuals. And since plenty of authors talk about gender and write about gender without winning Hugos, that’s going to be hard. (On the other hand, if you think Leckie won because people read her book and liked it, then you still have no legitimate beef.)

                The real issue is the hate speech surrounding all of this. None of this is ever expressed outside the context of white man this and white man that. It’s incitement.

                This is a wonderfully pure distillation of your thoughts. If assuming that discussions of white male privilege are “hate speech” and “incitement” is where you’re at, I think there’s no bridging the gap between us.

    • Eric Flint says:

      James May, do you EVER bother to check your so-called facts? Your statement that — this is a direct quotation — “AJ [Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice] is the most awarded SF novel in history” is ludicrous and you could have discovered as much if you’d spent two minutes checking yourself before (once again) inserting your foot into your mouth.

      Ancillary Justice did indeed win a lot of awards: Five in all, including the Hugo Award, Nebula Award, BSFA Award, Arthur C. Clarke Award and Locus Award. This is very impressive, especially for a first novel, but it’s not even close to setting a record. That’s dwarfed by the awards won by Mike Resnick for Kirinyaga and its component chapters — 67 awards in all, including two Hugos.

      That would be Mike Resnick, the Republican.

      Maybe you should start wearing a wristband that reminds you “must check facts, must check facts”…

      • James May says:

        A technicality over a split up novel doesn’t merit the term “ludicrous,” and I’d have to put my foot in my mouth once to do it a second time. In terms of being honored as a novel across SF culture my point stands. Being second or third most would hardly cancel that point out. Whether Resnick was a Republican back then doesn’t mean a thing in a movement only a few years old. In any event this movement doesn’t oppose Republicans but you and GRRM too. This is not a political movement no matter how much one wants to dress it up as one. It opposes straight white males and makes no secret of its belief Jim Crow stalks SFF. The fact it can’t show that in normal terms is precisely the point. All men benefit from rape and sexism. All whites benefit from privilege. There is no escaping the Scarlet Letter of privilege. It is self-evident and in no need of explanation. My existence is my ideology and my politics and these folks say that in quote after quote. It’s simply a matter of reading them. Playing gotcha on pedantic points which somehow unravels everything I’ve said isn’t worthy of debate. Leckie isn’t central to this issue – far from it. She is merely a minor symptom. The movement in SF existed before anyone had heard of her novel. I used Leckie as an example of what it is were dealing with. It still is that example.

        • Tsayin says:

          So we have a former starship who calls men “she” because when it comes to the differences between men and women “she” just doesn’t give a damn. Yeah, big social justice argument here.

          • James May says:

            It is if you know how Jacques Derrida plays into the social justice movement. That’s the whole larger point of why mainstreaming hate speech is so dangerous. It’s origins get lost in the mist and all that comes out the other side is “it’s a good thing.” See: Heidelberg U, 1933-5. Let’s just say this movement doesn’t have my best interests at heart when the author has “white straight cis guy,” “white straight cis guys,” “non-white, non-cis, non-straight, non-guys,” “white straight cis guys,” “white straight cis guys,” “white, straight, cis dude” all in one blog post.

      • rochrist says:

        You should probably add a mic drop to that Eric.

    • John Cowan says:

      It’s definitely not unprecedented: Delany called everybody she unless there was a specific reason not to in one of his books (forgive me for not remembering which after 30-odd years). As an experiment, Le Guin edited the first chapter of The Left Hand of Darkness, in which the androgynes are called he, to call them all she: she decided it really didn’t work at all.

  14. DarylS says:

    As Mike says, it’s good for we mortals to be able to view that innermost thoughts of the greats.
    I remember gently chiding (in one sentence) an extreme right commentator on David Weber’s site about a factual inaccuracy, he then attacked me and spent an entire page taking me to task about my lack of respect. Because of my lack of respect he expressed a wish that I, my ancestors/descendants and my whole country (Australia) had been destroyed by the Japanese in WW2. Humorless lot those conservatives.

    The whole pigeonholing into two streams is stupid anyway. I would be counted as progressive in workers rights, social issues like gay marriage and such; but as far right on national defence and personal security.

  15. Maximillian says:

    @Echo “Oh, and as an aside, does anyone know what Jean Rabe is up to these days? The… “affair” obviously didn’t hurt Resnick or Malzberg, but they weren’t the only people involved–just the biggest.”

    Thirty seconds of research shows that she has been publishing one novel a year and has edited a number of anthologies. Her home site states that she is currently working on a novel.

    Your point?

  16. Maximillian says:

    @Eric – Wow. Thank you, that is very impressive. You have no idea how much of a relief it is to see someone who is willing to do the research and is NOT willing to wave their hands in the air and pound on the table.

  17. Clark E Myers says:

    Assuming arguendo that everything in the above post is correct I’d say an economic analysis is an interesting perspective. To my eye the Hugo award adds value to winning works and to winning authors. Might even call it a tool for adding value – a means of production.

    How much value is added varies and in some categories is pretty small and for best novel can be a fair amount. See e.g. Jo Walton’s revisit on Tor.com. An ” author can become a darling of the Hugo-voting subset of readers while remaining very obscure to the vast majority of the F&SF audience.” But surely by being a darling of the Hugo voters that author is pretty much by definition less obscure as a Hugo winner than the author without awards?

    I’d characterize the current disagreement in economic terms as a struggle between folk of the fringe and folk of the center over the Hugo as a marketing tool – the folks with Indie publishing associations and their friends want access to the tool. This for whatever appeal the Hugo adds to a particular book and for whatever power the Hugo award winning works have to attract new readers and viewers to the SFF genre market.

    The folks from New York, especially the Flat Iron building, and their friends from the traveling World Con volunteer community, quite correctly in recent years, thought of the Hugo as a thing of their select group. Folks who worked very hard and volunteered most years to make World Con a success quite honestly felt entitled to make an award by consensus of the World Con regulars.

    Folks making money with independent efforts, and folks who might make money with independent efforts sought to wrest control of the tool.

    To the extent that analysis has any validity there is neither right nor wrong

    I’m inclined to support the sad puppy movement as a power to the people approach. See the increased participation this year.

    That said then it just might follow the vituperation is politics as usual. On the basis of Hugo as marketing tool it’s hard to say the sad puppy folks are wrong in wanting changes to the Hugo. But see also the nicely open discussion of an agreed platform and Hugo rules changes to be voted by those attending as taking place on Making Light.

    • Hampus Eckerman says:

      And with “power to the people” you mean “power to the republican authors”.

      • Cargosquid says:

        Riiiight….. so many “Republican” authors on the Puppy nomination list…..

        Next….are you going to call them all “straight white males?”

        • ThirteenthLetter says:

          What I think is that “Hampus Eckerman” is going to vanish silently into the night and never reply to this.

        • Hampus Eckerman says:

          They might of course be several steps to the right of the republicans. It wouldn’t surprise me with Kratman or Wright.

          And no, “straight white male” would be incorrect. There were actually a few women nominated when we got down to the short stories. That would make 3 of 18. Impressive – not.

  18. Allie Stockton says:

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your comments on both sides of the issue, Mr. Flint. The entire Sad Puppy vs. Nielsen Hayden debacle has made me start reading again for the first time in years, and I truly hope that the awards don’t implode this year only because I plan to vote next year for the first time ever.

  19. 1 L Loyd says:

    I think I need to reread this when more awake. But one thing seemed to leap out at me. The Hugos are “awards for excellence in the field of science fiction and fantasy.” But you pointed out that since SF/F is ‘progressive,’ we should expect the Hugos to be as well. Is this correct in my understanding?
    And you brought up that fans are the voters on the Hugos. Then how have they been hijacked this year? Are non-fans voting?

    • Cat says:

      There are differing schools of thought on that.

      Pre-Puppies, there were some efforts at increasing fan voting, that didn’t concentrate on particular ends of the political spectrum as far as I can tell.

      The Puppies at the very least recruited conservative fans preferentially. In part this was an obvious outcome (maaaaybe not intentional) of recruiting on the websites of conservative authors like Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen, and getting written up in Breitbart, which is going to have more of a conservative audience.

      However the Puppies also sold the recruitment effort as a way to “stick it to progressives” so it’s pretty obviously political in nature. Add into that that the supposed wrongdoing they were fighting was the inclusion of more authors who were women and minorities and more characters who were those things, and that the themes they particularly hated in fiction were things like bigotry against various minority groups or exploitation of conquered peoples, and it gave the impression that they were trying to get out the conservative fan vote, and not the rest of the fan vote.

      However, they also went outside science fiction fandom (in the sense of readers) to recruit among GamerGators, using the “bring the culture war to the Hugos; help us defeat the progressives here too” approach. It’s a fact that they made the appeal to that group. It is speculation how successful they were, and in particular whether the Gators they succeeded in drawing in were people who didn’t already read science fiction as a significant percentage of their entertainment. Personally if I was looking for avid readers, gamers wouldn’t be my starting point but you can’t prove anything by that.

      What is more reasonably described as “hijacking” is that instead of encouraging people to read widely and nominate their honest favorites they put up a slate of things and encouraged people to read and nominate them. Given the distorted nature of the nomination totals this year, it looks as if the Puppies either block voted, converging on the slate as “acceptable second bests” rather than picking their honest favorites. The Hugo nomination process produces a nomination pool that is extremely wide, and thus fairly shallow (thousands of eligible books, so even a real favorite gets only 20% of the nominations.) The Sad Puppies, with 17% of the nominators, dominated the results, with the slate locking non-slate works out of multiple whole categories, and ending up holding 75% of the ballot.

      • Echo says:

        I keep hearing that, but do you have ANY evidence beyond an Entertainment Weekly article that was so obviously full of lies that even they felt compelled to retract it?

        I’ve been linked to an archive of a gamergate forum on reddit, when they first found out they’d rigged the hugo awards. All the responses were variants on “what’s a hugo?”
        Every. Single. One.

  20. Pingback: Sad Puppies roundup, and the Irene Gallo controversy - TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics

  21. The Sad Puppies campaign should have pulled you aboard, Eric. We’d have been forced to articulate out complaints much more clearly, and phrase our arguments more narrowly, to the overall benefit of genre fandom.

    As it is, Brad et al. were preaching to the choir, building on months and years of scattered blog posts and comment threads and Facebook conversations instead of laying out our case clearly for the world. (Then again, nobody expected the scope of the success the Sad Puppies slate would have.)

    What’s that you say? You still might have disagreed with us? Huh.

    • Going To Maine says:

      As it is, Brad et al. were preaching to the choir, building on months and years of scattered blog posts and comment threads and Facebook conversations instead of laying out our case clearly for the world. (Then again, nobody expected the scope of the success the Sad Puppies slate would have.)

      But where’s the conspiracy? Where’s the power? For any particular post, Flint might well again respond “So fucking what?” The only posts I’ve seen mentioned are blog posts by authors listing their own Hugo eligible works (hardly a smoking gun) or what they happen to be voting for (hardly an organized campaign or example of power). James May has plethora of out-of-context excerpts but Flint dealt admirably with that particular rubbish heap in a previous post. Again: where’s the power and influence?

      • James May says:

        Out of context? Prove it. They are in fact completely in context, like all water in a waterfall. I cannot leave more than one link because WordPress throws them into moderation. Do your homework and also provide your own quotes that speak to a white male cabal oppressing sad women in SFF. No one has dealt with my quotes in any way, shape or form let alone admirably.

        “white straight cis guy,” “white straight cis guys,” “non-white, non-cis, non-straight, non-guys,” “white straight cis guys,” “white straight cis guys,” “white, straight, cis dude” are all in one post by Ann Leckie because she’s an amazing writer.

        “cis,” “cissexist,” “transphobic,” “racism,” “sexism,” “homophobia,” “cis gender,” “able-bodied neurotypical,” “privilege,” “colorblindness,” “genderblindness,” people told to “examine” their “privilege” and a word like “diversity” used in a sense it is interchangeable with “white racism,” are all on one single page of a post by Jim Hines so of course he needs to lecture Sad Puppies because we imagine things.

        That stupid shit is emblematic of what’s overtaken SF. They are so obsessed with it they don’t even see it – it’s natural. There’s your genre-killing asteroid.

        So why wouldn’t two SFWA presidents ask us to check our privilege and #JustListen to the PoC women just because justice and stuff and Ray Bradbury and John Carter of Mars.

        • Johnny says:

          So… what do you have a problem with?

          -The idea that straight white guys have less assumptions about them and barriers in their way than pretty much any group, especially in the past near enough to affect the present?

          – The idea that people who aren’t white straight dudes have had, in the past and in the present, a more difficult time pursuing the broad range of possibilities in life than straight white guys? Also that, though there’s been improvement, there is at the very least a residual set of bias and barriers against them?

          -The idea that maybe we, as a nation, should work to discontinue said bias and barriers for everyone (and that doing so makes the nation and society stronger by unleashing a larger pool of human resources)?

          -The existence of specialized terms to describe these concepts?

          I don’t think any of those points are all that controversial put in such plain language so I don’t know why they are “stupid shit” when they’re put in terms of social science.

          • James May says:

            Science can measure and predict things. White privilege can’t measure or predict squat. But thanks for clarifying what the new “science” in “science fiction” is. I agree.

            • Johnny says:

              Um, social science does measure and predict things, all the time. Economic achievement, debt, neighborhoods lived in, schools attended, academic achievement, number of arrests vs. crimes committed, divorce rates, all for pretty much every set of people you can imagine.

              All of that is data that is measured and can be used to predict outcomes in social science. It’s as hard as Newtonian physics.

              Just because something provides answers you don’t want to hear doesn’t mean it’s not science.

              • James May says:

                Can you measure what I’m thinking right now?

              • Johnny says:

                Hmm, you sure set yourself up for a snide comment there. Not worth it.

                Can you tell the difference between sciences? Neurology is what you’re thinking, social science is how people interact in groups. We can sure measure how access to education affects economic achievement of the neighborhood or suicide rates in various demographics. These are not complex concepts…

              • Going To Maine says:

                All of that is data that is measured and can be used to predict outcomes in social science. It’s as hard as Newtonian physics.

                Your general point is completely correct, but on behalf of the social scientists I know I feel required to point out that little-to-no social science is “as hard as Newtonian physics” because people aren’t particles. Asimov’s psychohistory is a beautiful dream, but it’s definitely still just a dream.

              • Johnny says:

                I used specifically Newtonian physics as an allegory on purpose :) its particles aren’t particles either. They’re either points or shapes that are usually homogeneous; decent models for everyday use but bearing little in relation to what they model especially at extreme ends of the spectrum. Zoom WAY in to a Newtonian particle and it completely breaks down according to what we’ve observed; zoom WAY out and again, it completely breaks down; go SUPER fast and it breaks down. I figured that the accurate at every day scales, totally inaccurate at extreme scales, and a model that doesn’t *look* much like reality but that predicts it pretty well a lot of the time was a pretty good metaphor for social sciences (and also because I knew invoking physics would twit people’s noses, which is fun sometimes).

        • Gabriel F. says:

          You do realize that Alex Dally MacFarlane is intersex, right? It’s completely natural that they would have a focus on gender and trans/cis issues.

        • John Cowan says:

          Do you actually believe that Eric Flint would leave your posts in moderation just to give you more ammunition? Don’t be ridiculous. Post your links and wait until an admin gets to them.

          • Eric Flint says:

            So everyone knows how this works, there are two people who take care of this for me, Gorg Huff and Rick Boatright. They usually handle posts needing moderation within a day — sooner than that, as a rule — and they very rarely refuse to accept one.

            So just wait a bit.

      • James May says:

        When you’re blown up both for not naming names and naming names, that’s called a stacked deck.

        • Johnny says:

          Well, James, if you don’t name names, then you deserve to be blown up because you’re making intangible claims that can’t be proven or disproven. If you proceed to name names that aren’t actually saying what you claim they are saying, or that are as obscure as some undergrad writing a paper for class, then you deserve to be blown up because your names don’t affect the subject at hand- the dominance of progressives in the Hugo and SFF in general.

          Making a cogent argument is hard, even in subjects that are far more cut-and-dried. If you keep getting blown up, even after you work harder and think more about your point of view, maybe it’s time to entertain the other side (or at least a third option). We’ve had thesis and antithesis on here for a while; it’s high time there’s at least some synthesis.

          • Calbeck says:

            So let me get this straight: he cites names and quotes, and you’re saying he hasn’t cited names and quotes solely because he’s not directly linking them even though they can be readily searched.

            He also has a point with the site throwing posts into moderation, which you’re ignoring in favor of just dismissing his points outright.

            Meanwhile, I just spent 30 seconds cutting and pasting “Ann Leckie” and the first quote into a search engine and, voila, first three hits are from annleckie dot com and ann-leckie dot livejournal dot com.

            Doesn’t seem hard to source.

            • Johnny says:

              You don’t have that straight at all. In fact, I think you didn’t read my comment as a discrete piece by a unique individual and saw it as a continuation piece by that formless blob of SJWers.

              He whined about getting blown up for not naming names and for naming names. I pointed out it isn’t enough to just name names; that you have to actually name people who are relevant to the discussion at hand, and to cite comments that actually effect the discussion at hand. I haven’t seen that.

              I didn’t address any other posts of his; you’re putting words in my mouth because you either couldn’t or chose not to argue my actual post. All I did was clarify why he’s getting hit for both naming and not naming names.

              • Calbeck says:

                He provides examples, you merely dismiss them, and appear to have done so without checking any.

                Bias being what it is, I do try to at least check mine, because I’d rather know if I’m wrong (that way I can correct my error and not continue to be wrong). He cited, amongst other people, a voting author who expresses her opposition to Sad Puppies in terms that (when actually checked) leave no room to assume good faith or misinterpretation. She paints Puppies’ concerns in terms of being racist, sexist and homophobic.

                Since there is no “central cabal”, one can only assert that this is a problem by showing how widespread it is — and the apparent response to that is to dismiss all of these people making all of these statements as somehow “powerless” or “irrelevant to the discussion”.

                More to the point, it seems that outside of the Puppies, there is little concern for this sort of freewheeling smearing of fans as well as authors, reinforcing the impression that intolerance is currently ruling the roost in SF/F circles.

              • James May says:

                Thank you George Orwell.

              • Johnny says:

                Where did I “merely dismiss” anything? Again, you’re putting words in my mouth and trying to expand my argument so you actually have something to latch on to. All I did was clarify that if you’re getting blown up, it’s not a matter of “naming names” or not. It’s a matter of making a good argument. May was trying to make getting blown up a binary set of name names/not name names when the reality is arguments are complex and if you make one that’s poorly supported in any number of ways, you’re gonna get hammered.

                Here’s something more specific so you can actually argue things I’ve posted. May cited a frickin’ undergrad paper- you know, the kind that gets tossed into a plagiarism checker and is graded by length and the Flesch-Kincaid score Word spits out. He deserved to be blown up on that; it’s on the level of citing an encyclopaedia dramatica page.

                Then there’s Leckie’s post, which is from 2 years ago and so not part of the Hugo spazz to begin with. All it does is mention that it’s nicer to not be harmed whilst enjoying entertainment than to be harmed whilst enjoying entertainment. Her allegory is that of a assault versus harmful biases. I didn’t think it was particularly inflammatory and, being so out of date, it predates any kind of sad puppy or rabid puppy or puppy kicking and was just point out how less sexism and bias overall means more fans. Yes, that is a terrible example of progressive domineering of SFF in general.

      • Calbeck says:

        Since when did there need to be an “organized” movement for like-minded people to all happen to agree with one another and share their recommendations around with other voters? This is in fact a primary statement made by people defending the Hugo status quo, and on its face it is entirely reasonable.

        IF these same like-minded people also agree, to one degree or another, not to tolerate certain authors or literature on basis of their political views — well, so far, that’s all fine too. No one has to support persons or views they disagree with.

        So what happens if these same like-minded people have convinced themselves — erroneously — that certain persons and literature are espousing distasteful views? Look at all the recent comments on this blog which have been pushing back against the idea that the Puppies aren’t a bunch of racists/sexists/homophobes/neo-Nazis. I agree with Mr. Flint that, with exceedingly rare exception, none of these labels are appropriate.

        Ms. Leckie, for example, outright states that she believes Puppies are demanding that authors ONLY write things for straight white males:

        I’ll say up front that I have little patience for advice (or demands!) that involves telling writers what sort of thing they ought to be writing…. “Well, she would be a great writer, too bad she spends all her time on issues unimportant to most straight white cis men! Issues important to straight white cis men are profound and universal. Other issues are trivial, or identity politics, or political correctness, or just plain boring.”

        But you’ve already said that no amount of citations or links would satisfy you in this regard, simply because you will choose to disbelieve each individual point of fact.

        “Where’s the conspiracy?” Groupthink isn’t conspiracy. If you have a bunch of people convinced that a given set of nominations are all about “what straight white cis males” want, why would they not vote in accord with that belief?

        “Where’s the power?” Do voters not have power?

        “So fucking what?” Well, so be it. If you don’t want to discuss the matter, or consider what’s being said by the opposition, your only recourse is to hope you outnumber them at the polls.

        • Johnny says:

          No, she doesn’t, at all. At least in the citation you directed me to. That blog post was in 2013. There’s zero mention of puppies because they didn’t exist. It was an allegory for why writing for everyone, and removing sexism and bias in general, was good for SFF. That’s what I found with your instructions. If you have another blog post, CITE IT. Realize that google changes search results based on the user.

          I didn’t prove that “no amounts of citations or links would satisfy me”. I laughed at one citation of an undergrad paper- that I’m still laughing at- and questioned the relevancy of another you had me google contort out of text. Give me something from THIS YEAR, give me the LINK so we know we’re looking at the same post (they’re easy to break so you don’t get moderated. Figure it out), and give me something from someone, anyone, who matters. Going 0/2 on citations isn’t proof no one will believe you; it’s prove that a sample size of 2 is terrible.

    • Eric Flint says:

      The problem from the beginning was that Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen allowed their political attitudes and views to color their analysis of what was or wasn’t a problem with the Hugo Awards. The moment they did that, they were bound to go off the rails. There are indeed problems with the Hugo Awards, as I examined at length in my first post. But they have nothing to do with politics. If you try to make the issue political, you will inevitably stir up a firestorm of opposition.

      In effect, what Larry and Brad did was march into a virtual tavern and loudly declare: “We can whip every lousy social justice warrior in the bar!” And they’ve been griping ever since that a fight broke out — and some people hit them below the belt!

      What the hell did they think was going to happen? They DELIBERATELY picked a fight and what their accusations ever since have amounted to is that their opponents are fighting back. Well, that’s what happens when you start a bar-room brawl. As I recall from my sometimes mis-spent youth. And, yup, some people won’t fight fair. They were expecting everyone to follow Marquis of Queensberry rules?

      And then they put the whole thing on steroids by publicly championing the two most despised figures in science fiction, Theodore Beale and John C. Wright. That was deliberately provocative. And I’m not imputing anything to anyone, by the way. Larry Correia has publicly said as much:

      “I said a chunk of the Hugo voters are biased toward the left, and put the author’s politics far ahead of the quality of the work. Those openly on the right are sabotaged. This was denied.
      So I got some right wingers on the ballot.
      The biased voters immediately got all outraged and mobilized to do exactly what I said they’d do.
      Point made.”

      Here’s the full citation, if you want to look at it:

      http://monsterhunternation.com/2014/04/24/an-explanation-about-the-hugo-awards-controversy/

      • Calbeck says:

        Mr. Flint, you and I seem to be reading the same quote entirely differently:

        “I said a chunk of the Hugo voters are biased toward the left, and put the author’s politics far ahead of the quality of the work. Those openly on the right are sabotaged. This was denied.
        So I got some right wingers on the ballot.
        The biased voters immediately got all outraged and mobilized to do exactly what I said they’d do.
        Point made.”

        I see here an assertation, followed by a denial, followed by action, followed by vindication of the assertation. You say this amounted to picking a fight in a bar… how, exactly?

        “Bet I can balance this quarter on my eyelash, unless you reach over and flick it out of my eye.”

        “Hell if you can, and I wouldn’t make a move anyways.”

        “Hundred bucks?”

        “You’re on.”

        *balances quarter on eyelash, only to have the denier reach over and flick it away*

        “Hah! Pay up!”

        “F*** YOU!”

        *brawl begins*

        Finally, neither Brad nor Larry have “CHAMPIONED” Vox, unless you’re measuring that strictly by their sheer inability to stop him from putting his own slate together. You can say they inspired him, but to say they’ve been boosting the man to the skies is borderline libel on your own part. Not a damn thing in what you cited as proof says that. Nor is your link resolving, even though Monster Hunter Nation’s core site is up and responds just fine.

        I thought you said you had problems with people pulling that whole “slander” thing.

        • snowcrash says:

          “You say this amounted to picking a fight in a bar… how, exactly?”

          You need to read the whole post. At the outset, he says: ” If you try to make the issue political, you will inevitably stir up a firestorm of opposition….They DELIBERATELY picked a fight and what their accusations ever since have amounted to is that their opponents are fighting back. “

          To say nothing of the fact that as per the quote, Correia’s criteria was getting right wingers on the ballot, and there is no mention of quality. A more recent quote illustrates the same (as well as the championing of Day that you deny happened):

          Correia Not to mention that one of my stated goals was to demonstrate that SJWs would have a massive freak out if somebody with the wrong politics got on. So on the slate it went. I nominated Vox Day because Satan didn’t have any eligible works that period.

          (from http://monsterhunternation.com/2015/04/14/george-r-r-martin-responds/ )

        • Eric Flint says:

          How is it slander? They — more precisely, Larry Correia — nominated “Vox Day” for a Hugo award. He can claim all he wants that he only did that because he really, really, really thought the story was really, really, really — cross my heart and hope to die — the very best novelette published in science fiction that year. But in light of his statement I quoted earlier, I don’t believe that for one moment. I think he probably (God knows why) did believe the story was pretty good, but it’s obvious he mainly nominated it in order to make a point. I.e., to trigger off a hostile reaction.

          And they nominated a novella by Wright for this year’s Hugo.

          Used as a noun, the word “champion” means “in first place.” Used as a verb, one of the meanings of the word “champion” is to advocate for someone to be recognized as a champion.

          Which is exactly what they did. As I said.

          • Calbeck says:

            Checking the vote tallies, I am seeing over 700 people voted in the category where Vox Day was nominated.

            There is no entry on the results which says “Because Larry Correia and Brad Torgenson told us to”. It would seem if that were the case, 2 votes would have a very hard time overcoming the other 698+. Same goes for Wright.

            To arrive at your conclusions requires the assumption that Larry and/or Brad rigged the vote with a horde of people willing to just blindly choose anything they proffered. While I understand that’s the line pushed by the anti-Puppy side, I don’t buy into party lines without a hard reason to do so. They’re usually horseshit otherwise.

            I have to say I find it depressing that you actually used the phrase “it’s obvious”. Because that is exactly the phrase I hear, as a common thread, when I talk to and debunk conspiracy nuts (and yes, I have that problem with some of what various Puppies say, too).

            Moon Hoaxers? “They’re obviously on wires on a Hollywood set!”

            9/11 Truthers? “It’s obvious that Building 7 was blown by shaped-charge explosives!”

            Crop Circle Enthusiasts? “Obviously messages from the stars!”

            God dammit. If I accepted every statement that relies on “isn’t it obvious” for its hinge, I’d be worse off than Jesse Ventura.

            • Do you have a point? Seriously?

              Whether Larry “championed” Vox or not is irrelevant to how many voters eventually cast ballots for him.
              “Checking the vote tallies, I am seeing over 700 people voted in the category where Vox Day was nominated.” Yes. And all of 69 voters nominated Vox Day’s story. Because all those voters tend to scatter their votes among a multitude of choices. You hardly need to override all of the other 699 voters, or have a horde of blind followers; 68 people agreeing with your mission will suffice.
              Your alternative theory, that Larry was uncannily successful in predicting that Hugo voters would flock to Vox’s little novelette, certainly bears consideration.

        • Larry had a story by Vox Day as part of his Sad Puppies 2 slate, so depending on your meaning of “championed,” yeah, I’d say he did.

      • Bibliotheca Servare says:

        Since when is John C Wright “…the most despised [man] in science fiction…” today? Seriously, when the hell was that established? Beale, maybe, though it’s a sad commentary on the state of science ficton’s moral compass that a man who *doesn’t* support NAMBLA, and *hasn’t* been convicted of child-rape is more hated by the “fandom” than men and women who *have* been convicted/*do* support that group of monsters. In my opinion, of course. That said, who decided that Mr. Wright was equally despised as Mr. Beale? And who proved that no one in SF is more despised than they? I’m not being sarcastic, or nitpicky, or pedantic. I was surprised by that statement, and I’m curious about the justification for it. As an aside, I’ve written this elsewhere, but: “Vox Day” was on the “SP2” “slate”. The goal of “SP2” was to demonstrate that there was a bias in the nominating process. Whether it was successful, or simply demonstrated the impressive capacity of “Vox Day” to render otherwise sane, decent people into slavering, rabid, animalistic pit bulls (I like pit bulls. That doesn’t mean a rabid one wouldn’t make me ask for my “brown pants” as the joke goes) is a question I cannot answer. Moving on, “SP3” was simply about telling people how to vote for the Hugos, and listing the works that Brad, Larry, et al. felt like voting to nominate, personally. Based on statements made (google his blog, and check “fandom is a potluck…”dinner or something, I can’t recall) by Kevin Standlee, the primary objection to this plan, and its execution, is and was that Larry and Brad suggested either too many, or too few, items and persons for nominating. In other words, simply listing who they were voting for, in the course of an effort to gin up people to participate in the Hugos, was unacceptable. They needed to either (1): list only four things/persons in each category, or (2): list more than five in each category. Failing to do so means that they were ” hijacking” the awards and nominations. Presumably the assumption is that their fans are automatons whose votes were entirely dependent on Larry, Brad and CO’s commands, in the form of blog posts. Hell, the whole “anti-puppy” mob has based their entire “platform” on the idea that the “puppy voters” are some kind of homogeneous mob of ignorant, right-wing, “probably” bigoted, hicks and morons, and probably mostly men. Indeed, I’ve gotten the feel that you share the basics of that opinion/assumption from reading your own posts and comments. Pardon me if I am mistaken, please. The point is, that vision is utterly, amusingly (if it weren’t so sad) wrong, on all counts. I’ll give you just one example, in the form of a link: https://www.affsdiary.com/shadow/2015/06/10/nazi-is-not-a-term-you-throw-around-lightly/

        She’s totally a white, male, hick and bigot, right? Pardon my sarcasm. God bless!
        ;-)

  22. Yet another reason I’d like to buy you a drink at LibertyCon in a couple of weeks. Looking forward to seeing you there. Thanks for posting these.

  23. Pingback: Eric Flint and the Sad Puppy | Jason Cordova's Website

  24. Chris Palmer says:

    Well, George R. R. Martin beat me to it, but:

    Bravo

  25. Seth says:

    Who said anything about “equal awards”? No two awards are equal. Each set of awards gains the reputation it deserves. That’s why the puppies won’t start their own; they know their awards will get the reputation they deserve.

  26. Steve H. says:

    Eric,

    Just to give you the info about the Jemisin line about being disturbed by political tolerance, here is the passage, from her blog dated September 11, 2008 (it actually wasn’t all that vain a search. A simple use of that magic word you cited earlier: Google….I’m sorry. I don’t mean to pick on you, but that one was just kinda fun.)–

    There’s been a lot of theorizing about the dearth by fans of color too, but I’m not sure if anyone in influential/gatekeeper position is listening. This thread convinced me that SFWA doesn’t care about the problem. Other organizations do, but they don’t have SFWA’s clout. It doesn’t help that there are a lot more out-of-the-closet racists out there than just Vox Day — Larry Niven recently made some pretty heinous comments about seeding the Spanish-speaking community with rumors that hospitals were harvesting organs; this was intended to keep them from seeking out healthcare, which he proposed would lower costs. And you’re probably aware of the skirmish some of us recently had with William Sanders over his anti-Arab/Muslim comments. Such gestures are next to useless; these cranky old crazies are institutions within the community, and nobody cares if they offend a few young punks (or brown punks, or female punks, or whatever), because they’ve done it before and nobody shut them down then. It’s that tolerance that disturbs me — that willingness for the SF community to welcome all comers, even if they’re frothing hatemongers, and not just tolerate them: give them awards, put them on decision-making teams. That, along with the frequent and continued publication of books containing stupid racial cliches of the kind you mentioned at NYROSF, suggests there are a lot of closet racists out there. Of course that sends a message to fans and writers of color: you’re not welcome. If you come here, be prepared to do battle with the SF Establishment. Not exactly a welcome mat.

    Shirtstorm, by the way, is referring to the “sexist” outcry regarding the bowling shirt which featured renderings of pin-up style women which was worn by Matt Taylor the day the European Space Agency landed a probe on a comet.

    Just to give you the info on those points.

  27. Kiri Morgan says:

    Nailed it.

    Also I would say that it’s a bit much for people to expect to be tolerated for holding beliefs to the effect that large groups of people don’t deserve to be allowed to exist. Those are scary beliefs and tolerating them has never led to anything good.

  28. Virginia DeMarce says:

    Thanks Eric. This whole thing, even to the limited degree that I’ve followed it, has reminded me why I rarely get involved in organizations. It’s the bicycle shed example all over again.

  29. Graculus says:

    Sad Puppies are all about ethics in game journalism.

    It’s the same false equivalence-vague assertions-assfax-abuse toolbox. I’ve been reading F&SF for over 40 years, and as someone who is most definitely one of those prog-SJW types, I never found most F&SF particularly “progressive”, outside of a few authors.

    And for any particular politics, left or right… you don’t get to sacrifice art to ideology and demand people respect your art. You killed it, you live with the corpse.

    • Calbeck says:

      Hi, I’m from GamerGate, did you ring? -:)

      Oh, that’s right, we’re here now because people like you blamed us for voting in your Hugo noms — which almost none of us were involved in at all, including myself. I bought my WorldCon membership BECAUSE of people like you deciding it was time to blame US for your woes.

      Also, I happen to love SF/F and have since I was a pre-teen. But if you’d like to discuss ethics in gaming journalism, let’s talk about that, too. I for one am perfectly happy to walk and chew bubblegum at the same time.

  30. Ugh. Well…how did this really all start? I was IN the same political group as Eric Flint for a decade. But I can, like Eric, appreciate good sci-fi based on the intrinsic creativity of the concepts regardless of the authors personal views (which I may or may not find grotesque at many levels) or the plot’s and concepts of the story(s) in question. I’m a huge fan of Larry Niven and Pournelle not to mention some really, shall we say, conceptually reactionary views of people like S.M. Sterling. Are they deserving (at least the first two) of an “award”. Absolutely. Why they hell not?

    But Eric, *oddly*, as a major writer in this publishing world of sci-fi, has the best understanding of all of this: who the hell really cares about this? Is it going to make your writing better? Is this award of enough important to start throwing digital punches out one’s “opponents”? Seesh! Get a grip folks!

    I have a real life and I get involved in real politics. Science Fiction is…fiction. I would appeal to you as someone NOT part of this community here since I don’t vote but I read a LOT of sci-fi…and have for 50 years…to vote, if you have too, on the *quality* of the writing you read in at your leisure. Appreciate the penmanship, the creativity, and “coolness” factor that attracted you to these stories in the first place.

    Now…I’m organizing for a Black Lives Matter rally locally and I will get to it!

    David Walters
    Director, Holt Labor Library
    Admin, Marxists Internet Archive

  31. Calbeck says:

    “Where he goes wrong is in his assumption—obvious if not made explicit in these comments—that this is somehow a recent development.”

    I don’t recall anyone saying that it’s a recent development for there to be a skew towards the left in the field of literature and fiction. To say a pre-existing skew invalidates concerns about present skew relies, however, on ignoring matters of degree and intensity.

    A left-wing (or right-wing) editor who is tolerant of their opposite numbers does not cause the sort of issues which have been alleged. An editor who is intolerant most certainly does. Examining any number of statements made by various editors, particularly those which have come out against Sad Puppies (nevermind the Rabid ones), it is clear that intolerance is on the rise.

    At this point, one would need to examine what comprises the intolerance, and to address it in any meaningful way it would need to be fisked in order to ascertain its nature and origins.

    This was done, and then asserted. Then it was scoffed at, and denied, and declared proof that Sad Puppies Are Evil, over the last two years. People did not even want to engage in the discussion because, to them, everything was self-evident.

    SP3 forced the issue by successfully sweeping the Hugo nominations, and did so legitimately. No one argues the rules were followed, only that they were “exploited”, and to this end they once again argue that it’s all because “racists, sexists and homophobes” are trying to roll SF/F back to the 1950s.

    They have even convinced various members of the press of such, to the point where real concerns of libel caused one major publication to rewrite its headline and content.

    Quite frankly, this whole discussion smacks of the “privilege” mentality we are constantly told by people on the left is endemic to society. If one believes such a thing is true of any power structure in which one group overwhelmingly has power, then one would find it incumbent upon them to check their “progressive privilege”.

    Personally I think the whole privilege thing is nonsense, but here I am watching people act like they are entitled — even required — to make slanderous and libelous statements alike for the singular purpose of justifying exclusion.

    You’ll notice this is why almost all such talk centers around transmogrifying Vox Day, and he alone, into the “true leader” of all Puppy-related activity, including any involvement by GamerGate members.

  32. Eric,

    can I put this – “Those lousy social justice warrior identitarian cliquist holier-than-thou obnoxious reactionary liberal fanatics keep trying to reduce people to categories…” on a T-shirt? If so, do you want to be cited as the author…?

    • James May says:

      Why not “404”? That’s what happened to Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s post where she lit you up in such a vulgar manner over an innocuous post at Amazing Stories about diversity she decided to delete the post. That’s the Garcia who once sarcastically reduced my rights to “Can someone please think about the white people? Ugh?” Also lost with that post was an amazing comment by Madeline Ashby where she wrote “This weekend I was on an all-white panel on multiculturalism in SF, and we all agreed it was bullshit and apologized to our audience – many of whom were people of colour…” because it’s all about the rocket ships and stars.

      Usually you have to go to The Onion to find remarks that delicious. Gee, I wonder who Garcia and Ashby vote for rocket ship stories?

      • Lenora Rose says:

        “This weekend I was on an all-white panel on multiculturalism in SF, and we all agreed it was bullshit and apologized to our audience – many of whom were people of colour…”

        You don’t think an all-white panel on multiculturism is BS?Why not? I ask as a pasty-white daughter of cultures as varied as Ukrainian, Finnish, and British (plus I am Canadian, and have things to say about how we are not, in fact, the same culture as America) . I am aware white != monocultural. But when people are *also* available whose backgrunds include China, Japan, Mexico, Brazil, India, Kenya and/or South Africa (to name a handful of possibilities) , “we’ve covered a wide range of European backgrounds” seems a bit … small.

        • James May says:

          Yes, because rocket ships and not weird obsessions dragged into inappropriate spaces.

          • Z says:

            Weird obsessions? You really think that fighting for equality (including equal representation) is a “weird obsession”? There’s your white privilege in a nutshell.

            • You know, I’ve decided that you can respond to pretty much anything James May says with Our Gracious Host’s rallying cry, “So Fucking What.”

              Great Cthulhu, he is getting tiresome.

              • James May says:

                Disagreement with others often is, especially when you rig the rules so you’re never wrong and come somewhere there are rules for all humans, not just some, not just you. If you spent more time outside your diving bell you might actually like honest debate.

          • Lenora Rose says:

            Ah, so you think ANY panel on multiculturalism is BS, not that claiming it’s multicultural then filling it with a very narrow definition of multiple cultures is BS.

            I disagree. Because those cultures do exist, and have things to say, and don’t necessarily have things to say only asmong themselves. They may feel they have things to say that white Americans might think are cool, just like they think a lot of the things they’ve white Americans have said to them can be cool. (You do grok that multicultural liberal weirdos read and like white American stuff, right? They just don’t want it as their only choice day in and day out.)

            Heck, we’re talking about a literary field that can show us vast new reaches of the galaxy. Are we not to long for new cultures to spring up on those planets? There are probably hundreds of different cultures within the supposed monolith of America alone, never mind how many worldwide. Multiculturalism in SF could in theory encompass all that – except that a subset of people bristle and grow defensive if it shows more than a small sliver of moderate to conservative white America.

      • Going To Maine says:

        Gee, I wonder who Garcia and Ashby vote for rocket ship stories?

        I imagine that it’s the authors whose work they enjoy reading.

    • “I must be one of those lousy social justice warrior identitarian cliquist holier-than-thou obnoxious reactionary liberal fanatics trying to reduce people to categories.” seems the t-shirt phraseology.

  33. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Not to distract from the all important issue about the (frankly, unimportant and meaningless at this point in my opinion) award, but are you going to do any more Joe’s World? They’re my favorite of your works.

    Yes, I know I’m strange. I also grew up in a country started by a bunch of East European Socialists, which may explain why I can relate so well that story line.

    • Eric Flint says:

      Yes. I have contracts for two more novels in the Joe’s World series and the next one, whose title is A DESPERATE AND DESPICABLE DWARF, already has 80,000 words written. That’s about 2/3 of the novel, I figure. The fourth novel in the series, whose working title is SWORD ON CANVAS, has about 45,000 words written.

      I just need to free up about a month to finish DWARF. The problem is that I also have several (um, well, several several) other projects going and they keep taking priority for one reason or another.

      And before you mutter “then why the hell are you spending time on this Hugo business?” it’s because I’ve been traveling constantly for two months and when I do that much traveling I find it’s effectively impossible to write fiction. My concentration keeps getting shredded. Whereas, I can write stuff like this because I can do it in one or two day chunks.

      I’m done traveling for a few weeks and I’m starting back to work on fiction. But since I’m this close to wrapping up my remarks on the Hugos, I figured I do it. I hope to be done by the end of the day.

      • Mike says:

        I wanted to read more about the Rats and the Bats. Will I ever?

        • Eric Flint says:

          There’s nothing planned, sorry. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen someday, but it wouldn’t be any time soon.

            • Bibliotheca Servare says:

              Ditto. …holy crap, we can agree on something! Ye gods!
              ;-P

              PS: Mr. Flint, despite my disappointment regarding the lack of future planned “Rats Bats and Vats” works, I am absolutely giddy at the thought of more “Joe’s world” series entries. Just…giddy! :-D

  34. French Silk Pie.

    Just sayin…

  35. Endra says:

    Honestly, how can someone be a good science fiction writer while ignoring a huge chunk of science in favor of ideology?

    In SF and fantasy, I want to see insight into how the world(s) work(s). The study of how social systems act and interact is called social science. We’ve learned a huge amount through the social sciences in the last 100 years.

    Writing an entire branch of science off as “politics” is insanity inducing. If a novel I’m reading uses 2000 year old dogma to replace science and realism, I generally put it down and write it off as poorly researched.

    Rather than pretending that this is purely an ideological debate, maybe someone should point out that science fiction lovers tend to love science.

    • Mike says:

      Oh boy, now the REAL holy war is about to start.

      Personally I do think it is possible to do real “social science”, but that most “social science” that is actually done is not really science.

      • Johnny says:

        How so? It makes hypothesis and gathers data and presents that data as it relates to the hypothesis. That is science.

        There’s this holy aura around physics and chemistry as if they were derived from the word of god. The reality is that empiricism is as strong as it ever was in those sciences. Physics and chemistry study tiny little simple pieces of the world that can only do a couple things. Social sciences study enormous pieces of the world that can do as many things as we can imagine.

        I suspect that most non-engineers also fail to appreciate just how empirical engineering is. If you throw social sciences under the bus, realize there’s room for hydrology, geotechnical engineering, and geology.

        • Mike says:

          As an engineer, I’ll just respond that, at a very fundamental level, engineering is judged by whether it actually worked in the end. Did your airplane fly? Did your bridge remain standing? Did your software run correctly?

          It’s soft in the sense that you can always ask whether your airplane flew well enough, but still, if it doesn’t fly at all then the universe has just given you an F.

          Social science has a long tradition of not actually having to meet any kind of real, testable, pass/fail criteria.

          • Johnny says:

            Really? I wholeheartedly disagree as an engineer. Social science programs are judged on efficacy ALL THE TIME. Sure, due to their nature, they’re more vulnerable to politics. They’re still measurable and testable.

            We look at our benefits given to people based on how much they cost vs. long term outcomes.

            We design cities and neighborhoods that promote walking and cycling and neighborliness vs. sidewalk-free tract housing.

            We put policies in place that reduce crime and decrease recidivism.

            Heck, an example from recent history is the city planning in the ’40s that resulted in more segregated cities in the early 21st century than i the 20th. And… guess what? It achieved (exactly) is pernicious aim. Segregated cities, far higher achievement for white Americans than black Americans in almost every measurable category, and a widening pit that makes escaping poverty far more difficult for a black american than a white american. This was an absolutely horrible result of social science- but it is, undoubtedly, a real, testable outcome.

            All of these are successes of social science. They are as measurable, with real, testable, pass/fail criteria as any.

            At the end of the day, if your foundation doesn’t fail, it’s considered a success. However, until very recently, we haven’t been able to measure just how accurate the geotech report was, or how conservative the assumptions were with regards to settling and bearing, or whether the design was cost effective or just rule-of-thumb that dates back to Terghazi. That’s as reactionary, never test your hypothesis “science” that there is.

            At the end of the day for social science, your experiment is considered a success if crime has been reduced AND no other factor has changed AND if the measures taken were politically acceptable AND if they didn’t violate anyone’s rights AND if anyone cares about reduced crime in the first place AND if it reduced crime enough (I’m obviously leaving cost out as every human endeavor has cost as a factor). There’s just a hell of a lot more going on than just “was differential settlement under an inch.”

            • Bibliotheca Servare says:

              Methinks the [gentleman] doth protest too much. Write to Thomas So well about your opinion that “1940’s city planning (based on social science’s analysis of blah blah blah” is responsible for the modern “plight” of black americans, as well as the modern good fortune and “privilege” of white americans. I’m sure when he realizes it’s not a joke, or an April fools prank, and, after that, once he has sufficiently recovered from his bouts of uncontrollable laughter, he will be more than happy to write back to you and tell you, far more ably than I ever could, just why that perspective is ludicrous, ridiculous, and absolutely, shockingly laughable. By the way, thanks for making me chuckle, once I was able to reattach my lower jaw to my upper, after picking the former off the floor. I appreciate your efforts in that regard. ;-)

          • Bibliotheca Servare says:

            Bingo. Oh shit…I hope agreeing with you twice in a row isn’t a sign of the apocalypse… *clings to pets* “you’ll never take me alive, Beelzebub!” :-P

  36. Eric,

    You weren’t there for the conversations, obviously, but your name has come up at least a dozen or more times in the last two years, as a prime candidate for boosting. I know I’ve personally put your name forward, as someone who is very much deserving of a Hugo nomination, the only question being asked in reply — what has Eric got out this year, and is it something lots of people can point to (your fans, not us; your fans) and say, “This is Eric in top-flight form.”

    So yes, you were part of the process. At least for Sad Puppies 2 and also Sad Puppies 3. And yes, Larry and I would have asked you first, if you wanted to participate. Just as Mike Resnick was asked if he wanted to participate this year. And Kary English. And Jim Butcher. And most everyone else who ended up on the Sad Puppies 3 slate — barring a few exceptions, which were entirely my fault.

  37. Erica Neely says:

    I must admit that one of the things I most appreciate about this is your sense of perspective. I have been watching the outrage rip through the SF community for the last months and, while I don’t agree with what the Sad Puppies did, part of me has been sitting here going “At the end of the day, how much does this really matter?” Because while, yes, I think the actions were unethical, they don’t really compare to many other unethical things going on in the world today.

    This is not to say that people should simply ignore or accept the behavior, of course. And I understand that people care more about communities they belong to than those they don’t – I wish it weren’t the case, but it is. As such, political machinations of a SF award is going to strike fans as more prominent than, say, children dying of malaria in Africa every day for wont of extremely inexpensive interventions. Still, a little perspective on things is appreciated.

    • Bibliotheca Servare says:

      While I absolutely agree with your overall point, please remunerate exactly how Brad, Larry and the rest of SP3’s actions were “unethical” and provide evidence to support your assertions. Otherwise, saying that is just so much insulting hot air. And nobody likes hot air in the middle of summer, lol. ;-)

  38. Cat Rambo says:

    Thank you for your eloquence and willingness to put so much time and thought into a post. I really enjoyed hearing you speak at the Nebula panel.

    One nitpick: while it happened before I was on the board so I don’t know all the circumstances, I believe Jean Rabe resigned, not that she was fired.

    • Eric Flint says:

      You’re right, Cat, I just double-checked. I stand corrected.

      I had no objection to Mike and Barry being ousted, because any magazine has the right to choose its spokesmen and once they dug in and started arguing with their critics they made it clear they weren’t going to spokesmen the magazine wanted. Whether the magazine _should_ have wanted them to be, or not be, is another issue. But that’s settled the way things always are in voluntary organization with elected officers — the officers decide.

      Jean Rabe, however, was in a different position. That’s what bothered me. You could certainly accuse her, as the editor of the Bulletin, of showing bad judgment. But I don’t like people getting penalized for something like that — name one person you’ve ever known including yourself who’s never displayed bad judgment — unless they dig in and make clear they _don’t_ think they made a mistake and they’re damn well going to keep doing it. That did not seem to be the case with Jean, so far as I can tell.

      • Cat Rambo says:

        I agree. Though I think she was the victim of bad advice as much as anything, and that the people who encouraged her to run the second column may not have acted in the best of faith. But anything I say is witnessed pretty much from afar – I don’t have the nitty gritty details.

  39. Yay!

    I might have suggested that one of Brust’s novels is a stylistic pastiche of The Count of Monte Cristo (or a competitor of the same ouvre), “Saudi prose” was deployed not altogether unsuccessfully by (iirc) Lieber in Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser and others stretching back to Bulwer-Lytton (Have any of you who ridicule his work ever read any of it, for example, his science fiction novel?), and the original of the acid quote reminded me of Those Who Walk from Omelas.

    With respect to May, my first questions on those people he quotes are someplace near ‘do these people really exist?’ ‘Have you ever heard of them?’…

    • Mike says:

      Brust has written a whole series of novels in an affectation of the style of Dumas, not just one. He also writes novels in other styles too.

      • Brust…I have read some of them, but one particularly drew my attention, perhaps because I had recently read some pages of the Count. Thank you for reminding me that there are others that I also do not have time to read.

        With respect to “have you read”. Many years ago, at the annual MITSFS (oldest collegiate SF Society) picnic, there was a game in which one defending player pretended to be a character from a novel, and the other players took turns trying to identify the character being played. The game eventually broke down, because no one in the group of non-fen (“we aren’t fans; we just read the stuff”) had read any of the books that the defender (for defender after defender) was drawing from. The field was just too large. And the breakdown happened before computers had their interesting effects.

    • James May says:

      Have you heard of Farah Mendelsohn? A butterfly flapped its wings and Jonathan Ross was out of a gig and it was meant he should be. Plus his wife shut down her Twitter feed cuz social justice. This is not dependent on who you have heard of but who can do what.

  40. Eric,

    A few responses, in the order you presented the questions.

    1) Larry doesn’t care about winning awards. He is making way too much money to care about a trophy. But what he does care about are snobs telling him – or you, or anyone else – that we’re not good enough to sit at the table. Either because of prose, or because of politics. That’s like waving a red cape in front of a bull. And I agree with Larry 110% on this. Tell me I am not good enough to be at the table? I will make it my business to not only sit at the table, but demonstrate (in painful detail) why the snobbish better-than-thou attitude is bullshit. The Hugos bill themselves as “the most prestigious award in Science Fiction.” For the whole enchilada. The Hugos are the table. Tie-in writers deserve a seat at that table. You deserve a seat at that table. Toni Weisskopf deserves a seat at that table. Jim Butcher too. Marko Kloos. Annie Bellet. I firmly believe the Hugos should not just be a plaything for a self-selected group of political and taste aesthetes.

    2) I may have said this before, but I knew that picking up the guidon for Sad Puppies 3 would wreck me forever, in terms of getting either a Hugo or a Nebula. Men like David Gerrold would consider it an unforgiveable offense — a high crime and misdemeanor — and there are a large number of people who share David’s sentiment. They have been (so far) the majority vote at the Hugo awards. Maybe not this year? We’ll see if NO AWARD wins any categories. Anyway, I gave up on the Hugo (for myself) and I am fine with it. Writing awards I have aplenty: three Analog AnLabs, Writers of the Future, AML, plus the rare triple-combo nominee in 2012 for the Hugo, Nebula, and Campbell, all at once. That right there is practically an award in and of itself, just because it’s so rare. I have proven I am “award caliber” and winning (or not winning) a Hugo at this point, won’t make a difference. So it’s not about personal vanity, whatever else you may believe it’s about. Not for me.

    3) “Puppy-kicker” is a phrase I use to describe people who’ve made criticism of Sad Puppies into an ad hominem project. You’ve largely kept your criticism sterile — criticizing the mode and method, without descending to criticizing the man. A great many critics have begun with criticizing the man — note the explosion of wrong-headed “RACIST! SEXIST! BOGEYMEN! AIGHEEEEE!” articles in the wake of the release of the Hugo final ballot. A calculated, orchestrated, and timed media hit job that had one and only one goal: the personal destruction of myself and Larry Correia. It was perpetrated by people who are not content to be unhappy with how Sad Puppies has been conducted. They want to erase Larry Correia and myself from the conversation. And in progressive circles, the way you erase someone from the conversation, is you slap them with labels like RACIST and MISOGYNIST and you scream these things at the top of your lungs until they become conventional wisdom. Thankfully for Larry and I not everyone in the world has been willing to imbibe the lies.

    4) Mike Resnick is an outlier, Eric. You yourself have always talked about outliers. And the reason Mike is an outlier is because Mike has been in Fandom (caps f) for his entire life, and is known and beloved to many, and he’s never made it his business to broadcast his politics on social media. The great sin of the 21st century Fandom landscape, has been for conservatives and libertarians — like Michael Z. Williamson — to actually display their beliefs in the public square. I know you don’t think much of William F. Buckley, but he was dead right when he said, “Liberals will often tell you that they are open to other opinions; then react with shock and dismay to discover that there are other opinions.” That’s progressive Fandom in a nutshell. Notice that Mike Resnick got his cojones rosted on a spit the second he and Barry Malzberg actually did express themselves, in the pages of the SFWA Bulletin. They were castigated, maligned, and ejected.

    5) Likewise, has Gene Wolf made it his business to broadcast his political views on social media? Because I don’t think he has. And I am open to being corrected if I am wrong. My experience in life, as well as Fandom, is that a circle of progressives in America are happy to get along with you, and think you’re a fine fellow, as long as you don’t let them know what you actually think. They can express their ideas and put their opinions on the table all day every day. They usually assume everyone agrees with them. Which is why when someone like me or Larry Correia doesn’t agree, it’s cause for alarm, even rage. We’re shattering the myth that progressive opinions and concepts are the “default” of the social space. And that’s usually where we get hung from our toenails. For shattering the myth. Again, this has been true in life, as it has been in Fandom. I spent the better part of 14 years living in the Puget Sound. Otherwise known as San Francisco North.

    6) I won’t speak for Larry, but one of my main objectives with Sad Puppies 3 was to push back against the taste aesthetes who tend to overlook guys like you, or also Misty Lackey, or others. There is also the guilt-by-association bias. Consider the fact that Ed Schubert is quite liberal in many respects, but could never get any traction with the Hugos, because too many people hate Orson Scott Card. Or the tie-in bias, which is why I am glad Kevin J. Anderson is finally a nominee — we crushed the bias on that one. I’d love to see Dave Wolverton’s name on the ballot some day, too. See, it gets tricksy because the line between a taste aesthetic and a political aesthetic, is almost non-existent. It’s two circles on a Venn diagram, and they are super-blurry in the middle. Not all liberals in Fandom are taste snobs, but almost all of the taste snobs in Fandom are liberals — at least that’s been my experience. And they’re not shy about ignoring fellow liberals. Like Tad Williams. How many years has he worked in this business? Zero Hugo nominations. Despite being very successful and having many, many readers. Why doesn’t Tad register, at the awards table? He’s another guy I’d like to see get a nomination.

    7) If you take nothing away from my reply, besides this seventh point, I hope this will ring true for you: I am not about foisting a “conservatives only” club on the Hugo, I am about making the Hugo live up to its own reputation. About making the Hugo ballot more well-rounded and representative of the actual field as a whole. I want to push back against snobbery, and against blind spots, and I want to see men and women who’ve worked long and hard, and who have built substantial edifices of material — enjoyed by many readers — to get their due. And I have said this repeatedly, in numerous places.

    8) Gene Wolf’s name is on the lengthy list of “people who are due.” We can’t put every single deserving name on the ballot in a single year. Just because Gene’s name wasn’t on there, doesn’t mean Gene’s name didn’t come up. I think you’re using absence of evidence, as evidence of absence. Ergo, because Gene wasn’t on Sad Puppies 3, Gene wasn’t on the radar. He was. And so is Tim Powers. And you. And many, many others. But you can’t load the entire roster onto a single Hugo ballot, especially since not everyone has works out every year, and not every work is a “top flight” work according to readers. And for Sad Puppies 3, readers were a huge part of the slate assembly. I am not sure if you saw any of that. It’s on full public display at my blog.

    9) I didn’t champion Vox Day. Nobody on Sad Puppies 3 championed Vox Day. If you’re going to be upset about me or Larry painting with too broad of a brush, I would appreciate it if you also did not paint with too broad of a brush — I would also appreciate it if you did some research before making a claim like this. Eric, I respect you, I listen to you, but even you undermine yourself and your argument when you make this kind of assertion. Sad Puppies 3 did not champion Vox Day. He is nowhere on the Sad Puppies 3 slate. Nowhere. And I take no responsibility for what other people say, or do. And if you dislike John C. Wright? Fine. He’s on Sad Puppies 3 twice. We also put Annie Bellet and Kary English on there. Two women far, far closer to you and your politics, than they are to me. Both of them are excellent writers. Both of whom are not championing Vox, and in fact think Vox is a troll, or worse.

    10) Breitbart is Breitbart. Asking me to answer for Breitbart, is like me wanting you to answer for Daily Kos or DemocraticUnderground.com or Huffington Post. I know you can’t, so I don’t.

    11) I’ve never been shy about naming the Nielsen-Haydens as a problem. In fact, I sent you a big e-mail filled with links to what I believed were quotable instances of that kind of thing.

    12) Dave Freer made a great point, when he noted that the supposed “cone of silence” was largely a sham. You may not have seen it, because part of the puppy-kicker tactics I’d witnessed prior to April, was the claim that we were “breaking the rules” because Michael Z. Williamson let slip that he was a nominee, and the “cone of silence” had been shattered, and suddenly we were evil because of it. And yet, Teresa Nielsen-Hayden seemed to know all about who was (and more importantly, was not) on the Hugo final ballot, well before the actual final ballot’s release. If you think Dave’s out of line, take it up with Dave. I happen to think he was spot-on.

    13) Patrick Nielsen-Hayden sits on the throne at TOR, the largest SF/F publisher in the English language. He not only controls a large portion of the pie, he has absolute authority to deny pieces of his portion to whomever he wishes.

    14) To re-state something I said earlier, the Hugos don’t really matter to me as a personal objective. And I am on record about that going way, way back before the current fracas. This is what I wrote back in 2009/2010:

    Notice also that there are no awards anywhere on that [goal] list. Not that I wouldn’t appreciate an award, if given. I am in fact due an award as of the last updating of this page, albeit a modest award in the grand scheme of writing. I’m just not going to bank on them, nor am I going to integrate them into my definition of success. Because all writing awards that I know of are given subjectively, based on the opinions of other people, and I don’t like having my personal definition of success riding on the opinions of other people. Celebrities do this all the time, and look how wrecked they always are? I say, the further you can get from depending on someone else’s opinion being your key to happiness, the better! So I’m not factoring awards into my goal list at all. If they come, great, I won’t bitch. If they never come, also great, because I don’t need them to tell me I am succeeding.

    • Mike says:

      Re. #3: In conservative circles the way you erase somebody from the conversation is that you come up with a mocking name for them like CHORF. Does that sound familiar to you?

      • CHORF is mild, to being called a neo-Nazi, Mike. Or a racist. Especially for someone like me, in an interracial marriage. If you can’t see the difference — in scale, and degree — between CHORF, which was necessitated because the SMOF fans of Sad Puppies didn’t want SMOF to be used in the pejorative, and neo-Nazi . . . . you’re a fucking idiot.

        • Mike says:

          Why was it “necessary” to come up with a pejorative name at all?

          I’ve never been called a “neo-nazi” so I guess I don’t know how that would make me feel. But I have now been called a “fucking idiot”, so I guess that’s a step along the way.

          • Mike: my experience with churlish progressive partisans is that they will hit below the belt ten times a day, and when you hit them below the belt even once in reply, they curl up into a ball and shout, “YOU WERE MEAN TO ME! WHY DID YOU HAVE TO BE MEAN TO ME?” Larry Correia codified the predictability of this passive-aggressive behavior quite beautifully in his “Internet liberal arguing checklist.” Item #3.

            • Mike says:

              I’m not sure I followed that, but if you think that was me curling up, you would be wrong.

              I also don’t see where I have ever hit you “below the belt”. The worst thing I can think of that I have ever said about you is that your blog posts made you sound like a whiner.

              • Cargosquid says:

                Don’t take this personally, but he obviously wasn’t talking about you.

                He was talking about those whom he calls CHORFs.

                Nice try.

              • Mike says:

                Squid, I think he doesn’t need you to interpret for him. He’s a professional writer, and his words were quite clear.

            • Wick says:

              Pot. Kettle.

            • After reading Larry’s “true history of Larry’s first Worldcon” I can’t help seeing Sad Puppies as Larry’s reaction to “People were being mean to me.”

              • Mike says:

                That was exactly my response to that post.

                I should clarify that he seemed much more like a whiner than Brad did, and to some extent I ran the two of them together in my mind.

          • Wayne Blackburn says:

            So… you admit you can’t see the difference between being accused of being affiliated with a group of people who consider it right to eliminate or subjugate people of other races and other faiths; who have been involved in serious, violent altercations, and being accused of being the effective equivalent of a member of a Middle-School clique? Very well. If the shoe fits…

            Someone being called a neo-nazi by a person who has some clout in an industry can have real-life repercussions which can be devastating to the target of such an accusation. Calling someone a CHORF is merely equivalent to rolling your eyes and making little circles with your finger next to your ear.

            • Bazinga, and thank you! (grin)

              • ThePinkAndPoofyPervulsionOfJoy says:

                ” I firmly believe the Hugos should not just be a plaything for a self-selected group of political and taste aesthetes.”

                Which is, of course, why you gamed the system with a self-selected group of political and taste aesthetes.

              • Bibliotheca Servare says:

                To pinkandpoofypervulsionofjoy: (really? Were you *trying* for the most annoying name to type, especially considering autocorrect?) So, I take it you believe Brad is a socialist? Seeing as more than one of the “aesthetes” you mention, that he suggested nominating, comsider(ed) themselves to be socialists. Or were you just being a moron? As Tom said, you really are a
                S/H/It-ty sort of person. *snort*
                ;-)

        • Gabriel F. says:

          And yet you’re fine calling people “feminazi,” so how does that work?

          https://bradrtorgersen.wordpress.com/2015/04/09/vox-plays-chicken-with-worldcon/

          • I went to the link you posted, and never found any instances of me calling anyone a “feminazi.” Did you post the wrong link, or are you talking to somebody else?

            • Mike says:

              If I Google “Torgersen feminazi” that page comes up. But nowhere on there did you use the word feminazi. I’m guessing someone in the comments must have used it.

        • John Cowan says:

          Why use pejoratives at all, especially one that already means “Christ on a rabbit farm!”?

          Asimov wrote in his autobiography: “Once, when a religionist denounced me in unmeasured terms, I sent him a card saying, ‘I am sure you believe that I will go to hell when I die, and that once there I will suffer all the pains and tortures the sadistic ingenuity of your deity can devise and that this torture will continue forever. Isn’t that enough for you? Do you have to call me bad names in addition?’”

          • I’m military. We talk in acronyms. (wink)

          • Charles Prael says:

            So, as one of the objectors in that particular discussion….what they were looking for was a shorthand label that would clearly identify who the offending parties were, in a bit more detail than “them nasty libruls”.

            SMOF was used initially, and those of us who have put, oh, 2-3 decades into making the venues for all this crap happen, were a bit offended. Actually, more than a bit offended. Imaging being a US soldier in 1939, going through the entire buildup to WW2, going to Europe, fighting your way through North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, AND Germany…. and then getting home and being told you’re a fascist Nazi. Yeah, and the horse you rode in on, and you can limp off to the sunset after you get out of the hospital. HIGHLY offensive.

            So they came up with CHORF, and it has stuck. Just like, oh, Teabagger. Though I don’t think there’s an explicit sexual connotation for CHORF.

            But… shorthand labels like that are used to identify and pigeonhole the opposing team. Because otherwise you have to get specific _and_ individual. Like “That crazy witch ****** *******-*****” or “that sanctimonious a**h*le ***** ********” or “that OTHER sanctimonious a**h*le **** ******”.

            And yes, it’s a deliberate thing. OTOH, it’s not like the left hasn’t been doing a fair bit of it for, oh, the last 15 years or so. They just don’t like when it gets thrown back in their face. Brad’s comments above about “below the belt” are something I’m entirely willing to subscribe to. Seen it too many times.

      • Calbeck says:

        *facepalm*

        Don’t even start with “erasing people from the conversation”. I have a couple thousand women and PoCs who are part of #NotYourShield, which exists SOLELY because people like you insisted #GamerGate was nothing but “angry white men”.

        Over here in the Hugo fracas, I’m seeing that same language over and over — the Puppies are consistently dismissed as “angry white men” because that’s convenient to the other narrative, that they are also “racist, sexist homophobes who want to dial SF/F back to the 1950s”.

        Every woman, every PoC, is routinely dismissed and “erased from the conversation” because they are Puppies.

        Name one person, please, whom the Puppies have “erased from the conversation” by calling them CHORFs — which neither denies their race, gender, sexual lives or existence?

          • Calbeck says:

            Yes, people LIKE you, who treat non-erasure as erasure while taking no apparent notice of actual erasure.

            Every time someone declares that Puppies are nothing more than “angry white men”, they erase PoCs and women from existence in the discussion. Yet nothing in the acronym “CHORF” does this, as you allege. It is an insulting term, to be sure, but it does not deny anyone’s actual existence.

            Of course, if I’m in error and you hold that Sad Puppies is not merely a bunch of “angry white men” I would be happy to be corrected.

            • Mike says:

              You are in error. I’ve never said the sad puppies are a bunch of angry white men. I have said that my interpretation of reading Torgerson’s and Correia’s blogs is that they are whiners who felt like they got their feelings hurt back about three years ago, but that’s not at all the same thing.

        • ThePinkAndPoofyPervulsionOfJoy says:

          “I have a couple thousand women and PoCs who are part of #NotYourShield”

          You can provide detailed evidence of this claim? And no, just saying “Trust me” isn’t remotely an adequate answer.

    • Echo says:

      “I spent the better part of 14 years living in the Puget Sound.”

      Oh no, you too? I loved growing up here… but it’s so awkward to have someone over for dinner, only to find out they’re a disciple of a creepy cultist who thinks you should be purged for owning land.

      We get good at keeping our mouths shut around those people in real life, because they dominate society and will hurt anyone who stands up to them. Which is probably why a lot of us get so sad about fandom and internet spaces being taken over by the same cliques.

      • Mike says:

        Dude, 43 of my 49 years have been living here in the Seattle area. We have our quirks, of course, but you are definitely overstating things. Land ownership is still a thing we do here, you know.

        If you are afraid that people [i]will[/i] hurt you for standing up to them when you have invited them over for dinner, then wtf are you doing inviting jerks like that over for dinner?

        I expect it would be a shock for somebody from the Bible Belt to move to Capital Hill, but it would be a shock for somebody from Capital Hill to move to the Bible Belt, too. If Seattle were really as repressive as conservatives complain about it being, then they wouldn’t actually be able to complain about it.

        • Echo says:

          First, I don’t live in Seattle. I live where people too insane and useless for Seattle move to, like a giant “Occupy Puget Sound” camp.
          I deliberately said “awkward”, not “afraid”. Because right now we can still take them if they try anything, and they know it. For the time being, we still have the police, and they still need to keep the wealthy rentiers who bankroll them happy.

          I said “awkward” because how are you supposed to interact with someone who thinks you’ll be first against the wall when the revolution comes?

          Also, do you ever hear conservatives complaining about Seattle in a space you and yours control?

          • Mike says:

            Sure. My dad complains about liberals a lot. I think that counts as “you and yours”. I nevertheless somehow manage to avoid threatening to put him up against the wall when the revolution comes.

    • Wendy says:

      I want to push back against snobbery, and against blind spots, and I want to see men and women who’ve worked long and hard, and who have built substantial edifices of material — enjoyed by many readers — to get their due

      Pity that you seem to have been focusing on the people who “deserve” to win awards – in contrast to nominating works deserving of an award. I’ve been working my way through the shorter fiction nominees and I’m just not impressed. While none are “bad”, I’m finding it really hard to believe that some of these are among the best works produced in 2014.

      I will, however, be reading/watching all of the nominated works and making my votes based on my own judgement. That judgement may well result in “No Award” for some categories, but not out of any organized campaign but out of feelings that none of the nominated works are just not up to snuff. Because in the end that’s how these things work

      • Cargosquid says:

        So….in other words…you are doing EXACTLY what the Puppies are requesting.

        • TK Davis says:

          With the added note that in categories where the Puppy slates completely dominated, better works were likely pushed aside.

          I have no issue with more fans engaging. But if you need a slate to do it then you’re not being intellectually honest. You’re gaming the system and although it might work it also looks like the only person really enjoying it is Vox Day because he’d love to watch just about everything burn.

    • Brad:

      I’ve been on a number of panels at Chicago-area cons with Gene Wolfe. The idea that anybody doesn’t know he’s conservative is laughable. Mike Williamson used to be a regular at Chicago-area cons, and started coming to them when he got a free admission to one as a special guest. Trust me – when he’s done with a con even the maid knows about his politics. Tim Powers was Guest of Honor at the 2011 Worldcon and has twice won a World Fantasy award. In short, the idea that these people are “hiding out” is bogus.

      The reason people don’t seem to like you and Larry Correia is that you are disagreeable. You call people names, allege baseless conspiracies, “fisk” people you disagree with, and generally act like five-year-olds in desperate need of a nap.

      I don’t know why Kevin J. Anderson didn’t get a Hugo. I know why he’s not getting one from me this year – I read 10 chapters in and after getting hit with 9 sets of characters I got lost. That and finding the fact that I hadn’t read the 7 previous books in the world meant I hadn’t a clue who or what was who.

      Williamson AND Antonelli let the cat out of the bag, and Antonelli said that the Puppies had gotten “half to two thirds” of the ballot. Once the Nebula list was out, figuring out who wasn’t on the Hugos (i.e., the first time this century that NONE of the Nebula short fiction was on the Hugo ballot) didn’t require the services of Sherlock Holmes.

      Patrick Nielsen Hayden (note the lack of hyphens) is not an absolute authority at Tor.

      • Brad and Larry are not disagreeable persons. Larry in particular is quite charismatic and approachable.

        Both are knowledgable fans of the genre who contribute to it.

        Their online personas as represented in their myriad posts on this particular subject have, after a long time spent defending their unpopular and entrenched positions, become short and less tolerant of insulting language and character attacks launched by their opponents.

        If you want to overcome that entrenchment, best not come straight down their throats with language meant to roll them under, but rather listen carefully and counter with thoughtful insight.

        • I keep hearing that “Brad and Larry are nice in person.” This may be true, but I don’t interact with them in person. I only see them on the Internet and, even before Sad Puppies, I found Larry at least obnoxious.

    • Whym says:

      Hi. I’ve been commenting over at File 770, but I haven’t come here until now.

      1. Larry doesn’t care about winning awards. He is making way too much money to care about a trophy. But what he does care about are snobs telling him – or you, or anyone else – that we’re not good enough to sit at the table. Either because of prose, or because of politics. That’s like waving a red cape in front of a bull. And I agree with Larry 110% on this. Tell me I am not good enough to be at the table? I will make it my business to not only sit at the table, but demonstrate (in painful detail) why the snobbish better-than-thou attitude is bullshit.

      Except you didn’t just make it your business to sit at the table, you made it your business to flip the table over and tell everyone else at the table that they didn’t deserve to be there because of, ironically, prose and politics. I’m a huge fan of John Scalzi and Ann Leckie, and I think their books were entirely deserving of their Hugos. There are lots of us out here. Did you think we wouldn’t get mad?

      The Hugos bill themselves as “the most prestigious award in Science Fiction.” For the whole enchilada. The Hugos are the table. Tie-in writers deserve a seat at that table. You deserve a seat at that table. Toni Weisskopf deserves a seat at that table. Jim Butcher too. Marko Kloos. Annie Bellet. I firmly believe the Hugos should not just be a plaything for a self-selected group of political and taste aesthetes.

      I’m going to take issue with the idea that “tie-in writers deserve a seat at that table”. Writing a tie-in novel is qualitatively different from writing an original. While I don’t dispute that there are excellent tie-in writers, 1. in my opinion, Kevin J. Anderson is not one of them and 2. a tie-in novel or story is qualitatively not the same thing as an original. Part of the reason I read SF is because I love seeing and being in the different worlds that authors dream up. When an author uses a ready-made world, it cheapens that for me.

      2) I may have said this before, but I knew that picking up the guidon for Sad Puppies 3 would wreck me forever, in terms of getting either a Hugo or a Nebula. Men like David Gerrold would consider it an unforgiveable offense — a high crime and misdemeanor — and there are a large number of people who share David’s sentiment. They have been (so far) the majority vote at the Hugo awards. Maybe not this year? We’ll see if NO AWARD wins any categories. Anyway, I gave up on the Hugo (for myself) and I am fine with it. Writing awards I have aplenty: threeAnalog AnLabs, Writers of the Future, AML, plus the rare triple-combo nominee in 2012 for the Hugo, Nebula, and Campbell, all at once. That right there is practically an award in and of itself, just because it’s so rare. I have proven I am “award caliber” and winning (or not winning) a Hugo at this point, won’t make a difference. So it’s not about personal vanity, whatever else you may believe it’s about. Not for me.

      I don’t think I ever believed it was about personal vanity for you, Brad, precisely because you were nominated for all of those awards in 2012. But some other anti-Puppies have attributed the composition of your slate to nepotism, looking at the authors you put on the ballot and noting that many of them are your friends. I don’t know if I believe them, but given the low quality of the stories (most reviewers have trashed most of them, the exception being Kary English’s “Totaled”), it seems possible.

      3) “Puppy-kicker” is a phrase I use to describe people who’ve made criticism of Sad Puppies into an ad hominem project. You’ve largely kept your criticism sterile — criticizing the mode and method, without descending to criticizing the man. A great many critics have begun with criticizing the man — note the explosion of wrong-headed “RACIST! SEXIST! BOGEYMEN! AIGHEEEEE!” articles in the wake of the release of the Hugo final ballot. A calculated, orchestrated, and timed media hit job that had one and only one goal: the personal destruction of myself and Larry Correia. It was perpetrated by people who are not content to be unhappy with how Sad Puppies has been conducted. They want to erase Larry Correia and myself from the conversation. And in progressive circles, the way you erase someone from the conversation, is you slap them with labels like RACIST and MISOGYNIST and you scream these things at the top of your lungs until they become conventional wisdom. Thankfully for Larry and I not everyone in the world has been willing to imbibe the lies.

      I agree that the media was unnecessarily harsh on you in the immediate aftermath of the ballot’s release. I disagree, however, about their goals. Simply put, the “EXTRA! PREJUDICED WHITE MALE CONSERVATIVES RUIN LITERARY AWARD!” narrative is more sensational than the actual story of SP3, so it engenders more interest, and therefore clicks and ad revenue. This is a general problem with the media, not a personal hate campaign.

      I’ll be honest, when I found out about the Hugo nominations, I was angry. I hadn’t been paying attention to SF in general in the months before their release, so I was blindsided by it. Once I figured out what had happened I was much angrier at VD than you, but I still think you’re wrong. Not evil, just wrong. My point is that many of us were blindsided by SP3, and we lashed out.

      Not to mention that the labels RACIST and MISOGYNIST are entirely applicable to VD.

      4) Mike Resnick is an outlier, Eric. You yourself have always talked about outliers. And the reason Mike is an outlier is because Mike has been in Fandom (caps f) for his entire life, and is known and beloved to many, and he’s never made it his business to broadcast his politics on social media. The great sin of the 21st century Fandom landscape, has been for conservatives and libertarians — like Michael Z. Williamson — to actually display their beliefs in the public square. I know you don’t think much of William F. Buckley, but he was dead right when he said, “Liberals will often tell you that they are open to other opinions; then react with shock and dismay to discover that there are other opinions.” That’s progressive Fandom in a nutshell. Notice that Mike Resnick got his cojones rosted on a spit the second he and Barry Malzberg actually did express themselves, in the pages of the SFWA Bulletin. They were castigated, maligned, and ejected.

      I think Eric fairly characterized the Malzberg/Resnick affair in his article. As for your other point, I think everybody is like that, to a certain extent. My point of view, as a left-wing atheist/agnostic, is that conservative political and religious views are wrong. I do my best to understand why conservatives and religious people think the way that they do, but in this era of polarization, echo chambers, and the rabid religious right, a lot of religious conservative social views – for example, John C. Wright’s views on LGBT people – are too repulsive for me to deserve my respect. That doesn’t mean the person expressing them is automatically a nasty racist sexist homophobic bigot.

      Here’s an example: I vehemently disagreed with you when I read something you said back in January – “Worldcon and fandom alike have tended to use the Hugos as an affirmative action award: giving Hugos because a writer or artist is (insert underrepresented minority or victim group here) or because a given work features (insert underrepresented minority or victim group here) characters.” I find the implications of that comment to be incredibly insulting to all the excellent women, LGBT people, and people of color – Elizabeth Bear! Ann Leckie! Ken Liu! Nancy Kress! – who have won the Hugo over the last decade. Some commenters at File 770, where I’ve been hanging out, have called that particular comment racist and sexist, but for my part, I doubt that you were trying to insult any specific people or groups of people other than Worldcon regulars. It’s just that your comment didn’t come off that way.

      5) Likewise, has Gene Wolf made it his business to broadcast his political views on social media? Because I don’t think he has. And I am open to being corrected if I am wrong. My experience in life, as well as Fandom, is that a circle of progressives in America are happy to get along with you, and think you’re a fine fellow, as long as you don’t let them know what you actually think. They can express their ideas and put their opinions on the table all day every day. They usually assume everyone agrees with them. Which is why when someone like me or Larry Correia doesn’t agree, it’s cause for alarm, even rage. We’re shattering the myth that progressive opinions and concepts are the “default” of the social space. And that’s usually where we get hung from our toenails. For shattering the myth. Again, this has been true in life, as it has been in Fandom. I spent the better part of 14 years living in the Puget Sound. Otherwise known as San Francisco North.

      You’re probably going to have to get used to that. We young people – I’m in my 20s – are overwhelmingly liberal. Personally, I don’t have anything against conservatives as people, just what I see as their destructive and wrong-headed policies. I think it’s a good thing that progressive opinions are becoming the default, but I personally wouldn’t yell at you for expressing a contrary opinion. I know some liberals who would, though, and I think their exasperation comes from what they (and I) see as the utter wrongness and resistance to facts of many conservative views.
      Also, I lived in rural Virginia for two years, so I think I see where you’re coming from here.

      6) I won’t speak for Larry, but one of my main objectives with Sad Puppies 3 was to push back against the taste aesthetes who tend to overlook guys like you, or also Misty Lackey, or others. There is also the guilt-by-association bias. Consider the fact that Ed Schubert is quite liberal in many respects, but could never get any traction with the Hugos, because too many people hate Orson Scott Card. Or the tie-in bias, which is why I am glad Kevin J. Anderson is finally a nominee — we crushed the bias on that one. I’d love to see Dave Wolverton’s name on the ballot some day, too. See, it gets tricksy because the line between a taste aesthetic and a political aesthetic, is almost non-existent. It’s two circles on a Venn diagram, and they are super-blurry in the middle. Not all liberals in Fandom are taste snobs, but almost all of the taste snobs in Fandom are liberals — at least that’s been my experience. And they’re not shy about ignoring fellow liberals. Like Tad Williams. How many years has he worked in this business? Zero Hugo nominations. Despite being very successful and having many, many readers. Why doesn’t Tad register, at the awards table? He’s another guy I’d like to see get a nomination.

      7) If you take nothing away from my reply, besides this seventh point, I hope this will ring true for you: I am not about foisting a “conservatives only” club on the Hugo, I am about making the Hugo live up to its own reputation. About making the Hugo ballot more well-rounded and representative of the actual field as a whole. I want to push back against snobbery, and against blind spots, and I want to see men and women who’ve worked long and hard, and who have built substantial edifices of material — enjoyed by many readers — to get their due. And I have said this repeatedly, in numerous places.

      I don’t think you “crushed the bias” against tie-in authors just by getting Kevin J. Anderson on the ballot. A whole lot of people are reading his book now, and the reviews aren’t pretty. They range from “This is okay, but not Hugo-worthy” to “I put this down after 50 pages because it was so boring.” I haven’t read the book myself, but I have read some of his Dune fanfic written with Brian Herbert. I say “fanfic” because I refuse to call those books real Dune novels. They were bad. THAT is why Anderson hasn’t been nominated for a Hugo, although, interestingly, he, like Wolverton, was nominated for a Nebula early in his career.

      When an author is popular and has many novels out, none of which get nominated for genre awards, I take it as a warning that their writing is not up to award level.

      I do intend to eventually read a Lackey or three, specifically the trilogy she wrote with Andre Norton, but it’s not at the top of my list, because I’d rather read beautiful writing than writing that’s only functional. This isn’t an absolute, and there are plenty of authors I love who aren’t poets like Delany – Anne McCaffrey, Jack McDevitt, Elizabeth Moon, and even John Scalzi come to mind. Nevertheless, I’m not sure why you’re so mad that stories with merely functional prose haven’t been winning Hugos. The answer should be obvious.

      9) I didn’t champion Vox Day. Nobody on Sad Puppies 3 championed Vox Day. If you’re going to be upset about me or Larry painting with too broad of a brush, I would appreciate it if you also did not paint with too broad of a brush — I would also appreciate it if you did some research before making a claim like this. Eric, I respect you, I listen to you, but even you undermine yourself and your argument when you make this kind of assertion. Sad Puppies 3 did not champion Vox Day. He is nowhere on the Sad Puppies 3 slate. Nowhere. And I take no responsibility for what other people say, or do. And if you dislike John C. Wright? Fine. He’s on Sad Puppies 3 twice. We also put Annie Bellet and Kary English on there. Two women far, far closer to you and your politics, than they are to me. Both of them are excellent writers. Both of whom are not championing Vox, and in fact think Vox is a troll, or worse.

      No, but Sad Puppies 2 did champion VD. That’s undeniable, and I’m assuming that’s what Eric is talking about.

      Also, it’s not that we dislike Wright. I, for one, have read one of Wright’s books (Count to a Trillion) and enjoyed it. Then I saw how he acted on the Internet and read the things he’s said about groups of people who comprise some of my friends and family. Simply put, I won’t be reading any more of his books.

      I have work to do, so that’s all I’m going to say right now.

      • nickpheas says:

        Tie in writers:
        Now and again tie in writers can produce real art. Orson Scott Card (before he became political and co-incidentally his writing went to pot) produced a superb adaptation of James Cameron’s film The Abyss. One might argue that Arthur C. Clarke’s adaptation of 2001, certainly published after the film, but I think novelised concurrently would count.
        Mainly formulaic piffle though. Of all the downtrodden bits of SFF, it seems a strange one to bring up.

    • Going To Maine says:

      I’ve never been shy about naming the Nielsen-Haydens as a problem. In fact, I sent you a big e-mail filled with links to what I believed were quotable instances of that kind of thing.

      Please publish this email. Please. Your continued refusal to publicly name names, cite examples, or explain why you believe that certain things are examples of this corruption exist make it very hard to be convinced by anything the sad puppies say. Your pain and outrage is palpable, but your justification for that outrage is not. Links would really help with that.

      In addition, answers to any of the following would also help:
      1. Why must Ancillary Justice or “The Water That Falls From on You From Nowhere” have benefited from “affirmative-action-mindedness” and not just reader enjoyment? (cite)
      2. What are the “dozen or more campaigns of various types” for Hugo awards that you’ve seen? (cite)
      3. Why have tie-in works have suffered from unfair prejudice that demands that they be recognized, as opposed to just not being liked by enough voters? (Consider Star-Trek books…)
      4. Why Chicks Dig Time Lords must have won its Hugo because of friends of friends of writers, as opposed to because people liked it? (cite)
      5. Back in the day on your blog, you agreed that “a few” of the names in a list put together by James May were only known for “having rung the ‘ism’ fire alarm too many times”. Which ones?

      Please fill in some of these gaps. If you can substantiate your charges against the Hugos and the success of particular SFF novels, it would probably be worth a best-related work Hugo in and of itself.

    • “I am not about foisting a “conservatives only” club on the Hugo, I am about making the Hugo live up to its own reputation. About making the Hugo ballot more well-rounded and representative of the actual field as a whole. ”

      Assuming, for the sake of argument, that your motives were pure, do you feel that puppy slates were a positive influence in practice towards achieving that outcome, or the revers?. Because I’m seeing a ballot that’s slants more male than the prior year or the field as a whole, and a couple of works with a fairly heavy conservative message, without seeing something similar from the other side. And a weighting towards MilSF and urban fantasy that probably isn’t entirely reflective of the entire field. And I will concede that you may not have anticipated the the impact of VD’s actions on the results, but in retrospect they were part of picture, and can be expected to be so in the future.

    • snowcrash says:

      9) I didn’t champion Vox Day. Nobody on Sad Puppies 3 championed Vox Day.

      Reading the OP, Eric was referring to Larry Correia’s nomination of Day in SP2 ,where Day *was* on the slate. Correia has also mentioned that Day was part of the humourously-named Evil League of Evil, who were the group you were consulting with when finalising the SP3 slate.

      10) Breitbart is Breitbart. Asking me to answer for Breitbart, is like me wanting you to answer for Daily Kos or DemocraticUnderground.com or Huffington Post. I know you can’t, so I don’t.

      That’s a fair point Brad, and I hope that you, and many of your fellow travellers will similarly cease insisting that your critics must somehow answer for the media coverage that SP3 has received – critics who have nothing to do with io9.com or EntertainmentWeekly.com, for example.

      I know you suspect that these outlets were fed information by those self-same critic. If you think that that is sufficient cause for your critics to have to answer for, then I think Breitbart, who others no doubt suspect has sources from the SP side is something you can be expected to answer for.

  41. Eric,

    I applaud your ability to have a respectable discussion on even such a hot-button topic as this. Too few people on both sides have maintained calm and seemed willing to hold an actual dialogue. It seems it’s a lost art. All too often, people resort to name calling and character smearing instead of open dialogue.

  42. Eric Brad says:

    Mr. Flint –

    To this point I have stayed out of any discussions of the 2015 Hugo Awards or the Sad Puppies 3 controversies but after attempting to digest your admittedly well written “wall of text” in reply to Brad Torgersen, I felt I should offer an opinion that I see all to infrequently presented.

    First, let me tell you who I am. Nobody. I have purchased and read SF/F books (both paper and electronic) for all of my life. I have looked to awards like the Hugo and the Nebula as markers of quality work when making purchasing decisions. I do not attend conventions. I do not participate in online fora or other social media SF/F communities. I am not a “fan” of SF/F with either a lower-case or capital “f.” I am just the poor sap who occasionally rolls the dice and forks over his hard earned cash hoping the story offered up by this particular work will be a decent read and worth the money I paid. You know, The Customer.

    When I first encountered the stories around this year’s Hugo Award, I was interested to see what all the fuss was about. Having no dog in this fight, all of the industry back-wash that permeates these essays is almost completely lost on me. I don’t know these names, I don’t know these conventions, I don’t know the acronyms, I don’t understand the insider politics. What I saw was a group of people (the Sad Puppies 3 people) attempting to offer up what they felt was worthy of consideration for the 2015 Hugo Awards.

    What caught my attention in all of this were the cries of “No Fair!!!” that I was seeing in the media. I wanted to understand who had let the woman-hating neo-nazis into the Hugo nomination process. After all, the award is one of the things I used to use to make purchasing decisions. It didn’t take long for me to find what Brad Torgersen describes as an open, transparent, and above board effort to recognize particular works and authors in the SF/F field. What has stunned me, as a simple customer, was the reaction from those involved in the Hugo Awards.

    Understand that until just a few months ago, I had no idea that the Hugo awards were decided by WorldCon. That it as a relatively small (in the context of all consumers of SF/F books) group that nominates and ultimately votes for what they believe are the best in SF/F. That came as something of a shock and may also explained why my “batting average” in choosing books from among Hugo award winners over the past 2 decades has not been as good as it was in my youth.

    I have repeatedly seen those who support the Sad Puppies effort assert that they just wanted access to the process. By all appearances, the inclusion of Sad Puppies nominees in this year’s voting came about “fair & square”, within the rules and guidelines set by the Hugo awards process.

    For all intents and purposes, the responses by those upset and outraged by these inclusions have boiled down to the same basic argument – “Who let THEM in here?!?” I don’t care about left and right, liberal or conservative, establishment or outlier. What I saw was a new group of people using the process to say “Hey, how about these folks?” and watching a reaction that sounds to my uneducated (in Fandom) ears like “No fair!!!” Except that it was fair by the rules that are set.

    I don’t understand. I don’t understand who is looking out for me in this. It is my money that ends up in your pockets, Mr. Flint. If I choose to purchase an SF/F title, I’m taking a chance that you’re not wasting my time and money. I’m the guy that makes what you do possible. And I think there are more “customers” out here like me than there are “insiders” like the fans and people you all prattle on about in these diatribes.

    Now, you can pick apart my comments here in any way you like. It’s your site, after all. But what I don’t understand is why this is even a thing? As a “customer”, I think that more information is better. I don’t want to pick a side. I don’t need the drama. The Sad Puppies assertion that having more people involved in the voting process seems to me like a reasonable one. If the Hugos want to present themselves as offering the best that SF/F has to offer, I would expect them to do whatever they can to solicit input from as many sources as possible. Instead, I see arguments that only certain people should be allowed to participate in the process.

    And remarkably, as a simple “customer”, I am so far removed from consideration in all of this that no one – not the Sad Puppies or those who oppose their efforts – seems to give a crap what happens to my money so long as it ends up on someone’s pocket. Of the two sides, the Sad Puppies seems to be the one most genuinely interested in helping me, as a consumer, not make bad purchases. They say they want more voices included in the Hugo process, not less.

    So, what about me, Mr. Flint? Do I matter? Do the Hugo awards want to offer me the best in SF/F? Do they want to demonstrate that the source of their decisions comes from a broad community instead of an insular community of “Fans?” How about it? Are you all going to help me spend my money wisely or should I just continue to buy non-fiction as I have for the past decade or so?

    It’s your livelihood that is at stake here, not mine.

    Eric Brad
    Just some guy who likes a good story that is well written.

    • stellabystarlight says:

      I have been feeling the same way thanks for saying it so well

    • ahd says:

      I’m one of the customers, too. Australia is too far away (at least, the parts I live in) for Fandom to be relevant to me. But I buy-a the books, and I read-a the books. And I am an actively voting member of the World Science Fiction Society, because for the moment at least the things it does seem worth caring about.

      Every time I hear one of the core, long-term members sneer at my like as some species of pollution to be carefully excluded by judicious manipulation of the rules, it erodes my will to care. And every time I see one of the Fans play the kind of “it’s not bigotry! it just happens to come out with identical outcomes to bigotry because you suck, and you don’t have certified transcripts of my innermost thoughts to prove otherwise!” word games, my will to care erodes further.

      The “if you want to get on the same railway car so badly with the nice white folks, why don’t you just get your OWN railway car, nigger” undertone from the OP’s last few paragraphs really does deserve calling out, but frankly, I’d rather spend what little will to care is left on reading a good story from the Hugo packet.

      Perhaps I’ll tune in for the suggestions about how to…improve…the Hugos. Perhaps I won’t bother. I’m sure, since I’m merely a dispensible unit of the audience for the Ring of Fire series, the OP won’t even notice either way. There’s plenty more where I came from, right?

      • Bibliotheca Servare says:

        Oh…ohhhhh…I may have embarrassed myself by shouting “yes!” While reading your and Eric’s comments, especially when you described the unpleasantly “find yer own bus, you unsavory character!” note inherent in the suggestion that the “puppies” “start another award!”. Wonderful. God bless.
        ;-)

    • TK Davis says:

      The cries of “unfair” – from my perspective – comes from organizing a slate that had the immediate result of overwhelming certain categories (like short story) with only selections on that slate.

      Slate voting is not illegal. It is perfectly within the rules. But it’s not really in the spirit of things when you consider that no one else organized like this (and authors putting up “what I like” lists or “remember, my novel came out this year!” calls is not the same as slating which is an organized, concerted effort).

      I’m a voting member. I’ll read everything, or as much of it as I can take if I don’t like it, and vote on merit. But it saddens me that the process was twisted to reflect Larry and Brad’s (and Vox Day’s) vision instead of a true merit-based view of works that were published.

      • ahd says:

        honestly, it would not have come to nearly so sharp a debate had there been enough room for a wide spectrum of works on the ballot.

        literally, five slots on the ballot is not enough for the popular categories. i would go with somewhere between 11 and 19, but an informed opinion from someone who has thoughtfully considered the actual nominating statistics of the last couple decades would be welcome.

        • TK Davis says:

          Agreed. But that’s the way this cookie has crumbled.

          For categories where the time commitment to reading all the nominations wouldn’t be onerous if the limit was increased I can see doing so. Increasing all of them might not be possible – there’s only so much time.

    • Greg M. says:

      Eric Brad:
      The most important thing is that while both the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies attempted to use slate voting to (legally) rig the Hugo nominations, it’s largely Vox Day and the Rabid Puppies who were successful, and it’s impossible to summarize this whole mess without him. Day has publicly stated on his own blog the reason he gamed the Hugos was because he lost an online debate in 2005 to John Scalzi (who’s already won multiple Hugos) and to several other posters. Not to bring new readers into the fold. Not to shine a light on authors. But because he’s been holding an obsessive grudge for ten years. (The entry where he states this is somewhere on his blog between April and June 2015).

      So a lot of the concern and resentment you’re seeing is about Vox, who publicly admits to having gamed the Hugos for spite. Vox certainly wasn’t saying ‘how about these folks’ all friendly-like. Nor, for that matter, was Larry–at least not last year–who admitted last year that he (Larry) nominated Vox Day for a Hugo and encouraged his followers to vote for Vox out of spite.

      “For all intents and purposes, the responses by those upset and outraged by these inclusions have boiled down to the same basic argument – “Who let THEM in here?!?”
      This is indeed a surprising conclusion to draw about Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen, both of whom are past actual Hugo nominees. I would describe the reaction as being more to the reaction of the opposing pro baseball team when that general manager sent out a dwarf batter, because the strike zone would be so impossibly small the dwarf would get an intentional walk. Nothing in the rules against it, but that doesn’t make it right.

      “I have repeatedly seen those who support the Sad Puppies effort assert that they just wanted access to the process.”
      But they HAD access to the process. They had it last year, and the year before, and the year before that. Anyone with $40 did. Which makes this assertion more than a little suspect. They had access to the process–what they didn’t have was a guarantee that they’d get the RESULT they wanted, which is an entirely different thing.

      “The Sad Puppies assertion that having more people involved in the voting process seems to me like a reasonable one.”
      Well, the Sad Puppies have made a lot of assertions. Brad Torgersen asserted that recent science fiction wins had not won on their own merit, but out of some kind of “affirmative action,” basically stating that lots of people had knowingly voted for works they knew to be inferior based on the author’s race or gender. That’s a hell of an assertion to make without evidence, and is pretty insulting to a lot of people just because they liked a book Torgersen didn’t.

      Eric, I think it’s awesome that you’re reading sci-fi, but it’s not the Hugo Awards’ job to predict and reflect your taste, or to act as a consumer guide. “Best” does not always mean “most popular” or “most enjoyable”–sometimes “Best” can mean “really, really challenging” (I still have not made it through Perdido Street Station. I have no problem with it being considered one of the best sci-fi novels of the past 15 years–and, I think, a Hugo Award nominee–but I don’t know if I’ll ever finish it. That doesn’t mean I’m going to rally a group of people to ensure that China Mieville never wins another award. It means that a book other people consider one of the best is not one that’s to my particular taste.) “Citizen Kane” is much closer to being the “Best” film of all time than “Galaxy Quest” is, but I’d much rather see “Galaxy Quest” ten more times than Citizen Kane once.

      If you find your taste departing from recent Hugo award winners, then you probably just need to find a different guide to buy books (book critics you trust? Websites you recommend? Goodreads lists?)

      “Are you all going to help me spend my money wisely or should I just continue to buy non-fiction as I have for the past decade or so?
      It’s your livelihood that is at stake here, not mine.”

      I think Eric Flint’s livelihood is fine, and I don’t make my income from my writing. Personally, if you email me some fiction & nonfiction you really like, I’d be happy to email you a list of some SF&F books, and other fiction I think you’d enjoy, and help you decide how to spend your money that way. I’m very good at making recommendations. The Hugos are not intended to be a consumer guide; best does not equal guaranteed to be liked by the most people.

      I think your expectation of what the Hugos provides was out of whack. Like I said, if you want book recommendations, I’m happy to make them, and I guarantee you I’ll tailor my recs to things I think you’re likely to enjoy far more than any free-floating mass of Hugo voters could. (And if you don’t trust my recs, test ’em out at the library first.)

      • Eric Brad says:

        Hi Greg –

        I appreciate your reply. However… I’m not really interested in Fisking the whole thing in detail. Here are a few thoughts…

        Regarding Vox Day and Rabid Puppies – Don’t care. They used the system that existed. If you don’t like it, change the system. If you do, you prove Larry and Brad right – the Hugos are a gated community reserved for only those deemed “worthy” of participation.

        If you don’t want the Hugos “gamed”, either fix the system or get better at “gaming” it for your side. Don’t get pissy because someone you don’t like figured out how to do it successfully before you did.

        Regarding access to the Hugo process – The Sad Puppies did indeed have access to the process. And now that they have expressed themselves through that process we have an almighty shit-storm. Exactly as Correia seemed to predict when he started the Sad Puppies thing. There was no shit-storm in year1 or year 2 of the Sad Puppies. Why? Because the Sad Puppies people were relatively unsuccessful. It is only now that they have garnered significant support that this seems to be a crisis. I find that suspect.

        Regarding your concern about Torgersen’s other assertions – I did not address those nor do I care to. My point was that more fans of the genre voting for the Hugos would be a good thing. It would be a good thing not because Torgersen or Correia said it but because it seems to me to be a good and reasonable idea. Making this about personalities cheapens your arguments, in my opinion. I prefer to stick to ideas.

        Regarding the “Job of the Hugos” – For as far back as I can remember, the Hugo awards have always been portrayed as a mark of “the best in SF/F.” This was their marketing. This was their claim. And for many years, I found this to be true. Not necessarily in the sense that it reflected my taste or preferences but that the Hugo winners were consistently well written and deserving of endorsement as fine examples of the craft. I may not particularly like Horror or Supernatural SF/F but if I wanted to try some, I would likely have reached for a Hugo winner first assuming it represented the best of that genre.

        Over the past 15 or 20 years, that has ceased to be true for me. As a writer myself (non-fiction) I have found many of the recent Hugo winners that I have tried to be lacking in craft, presumably earning their award for something other than good writing (i.e., challenging ideas, attempts at new forms, playing to popular subjects, etc.).

        In short, the Hugos don’t seem to be about the best in the craft of SF/F writing any more. And that’s fine. It’s just not what was advertised to me those many years ago. But times change and perhaps the Hugos have too. I don’t think the Hugos have to live up to the Sad Puppies or even my ideals. I just want to know what I can and cannot count on them for and watching this whole mess has been tremendously enlightening for me in that regard.

        I see the Hugos a WHOLE LOT DIFFERENT than I used to! The jury is still out and we’ll see where this lands over the next few years. The Internet has made the world a lot bigger and I have lots more choices now. (And yes, Goodreads is a god send!)

        I’m sure Mr. Flint is doing just fine. From all accounts, so are Larry Correia, Brad Torgersen, and Vox Day. But that’s not my point. Am I a sales unit? Am I “in-group” or “out-group?” As authors in the SF/F genre, are writers like Mr. Flint more interested in playing internal politics within the fan community or are they interested in serving a broader readership? Perhaps playing to the fans is more lucrative. I wouldn’t know.

        All I know is that I feel pretty insignificant in all of this. I’m “just a reader.” Just another source of revenue. And the Internet has created all kinds of new and different ways to separate people from their hard earned cash. Outrage culture is just one of them but one in which I refuse to participate.

        I appreciate your thoughts, Greg, but I think we come from different worlds and have very different perspectives. For me, what is at stake here is the authority of the Hugos themselves. What can they actually tell me? This entire debate has helped to explain the disconnect in my own experience between the lack of quality in recent Hugo winners (in my opinion) and the very high quality I used to enjoy in Hugo winners many years ago.

        Perhaps I was younger and less discerning then. Who knows.

        I just wish that this whole thing didn’t remind me of high school…but it does….and that is sadder than the puppies seem to be.

        Eric

        • gaffi8ed says:

          @Eric Brad “For as far back as I can remember, the Hugo awards have always been portrayed as a mark of “the best in SF/F.” This was their marketing. This was their claim.”

          “It’s just not what was advertised to me those many years ago.”

          Been around the field and fandom for 35+ years since my first pro sale, was a reader for 20 years before that. I think your map of the territory is inaccurate. Portrayed by whom? Marketed by whom? Claimed by whom? Advertised by whom?

          WSFS formally owns the Hugos, lock, stock and trademark. Has WSFS done these things? Their web page calls the Hugos the “most prestigious” award in SF, which I submit is a simple statement of fact. But any claiming, advertising, marketing and portraying beyond that is unlikely to have come from WSFS. If you have cites to the contrary, I’d be interested in seeing them. Absent that, how is WSFS responsible for what third parties may or may not have said about the Hugos over a span of several decades?

          • Eric Brad says:

            @gaffi8ed

            I don’t know your name but Hello.

            So, your point is that the WSFS has never made the claim publicly, in print that the Hugos represent the “best in SF/F”? That’s what you would prefer to debate? You request citations that the WSFS has made these claims because you wish to refute that the Hugos never made such a promise and are not obligated to live up to such a claim?

            Sadly, this is exactly the kind of myopic nitpicking I have seen far too much of from both sides of this current debate. My points are far more broad and (I think) important than whether or not the WSFS could be accused of “false advertising.” I’m trying to see, as a paying customer that isn’t into “fandom”, whether or not the Hugos are relevant to me and vice versa. Everyone seems so caught up in the personalities, politics, and minutiae that guys like me that just fork over the cash for what they hope is a decent read become a faceless horde watching from the shadows. Well, I chose to speak up. So far the responses have left me cold. It does not escape me that I have not been worth Mr. Flint’s attentions even though my original post here was addressed to him.

            You don’t need to call me out on this. It has become abundantly clear to me in all of this ruckus exactly what the Hugo awards should represent for me. And it is far less important than I once believed. It is a good thing for me to have my expectations reset. It is not such a good thing for the Hugos. To me they now have the same or less authority as Amazon or Goodreads reviews. So much for “most prestigious.”

            In the 40+ years I have enjoyed SF/F, I have attended precisely one convention. My encounter with the culture and fans there was enough to tell me that these were not my people. We may enjoy the same books and movies but I was not one of them. It was my hope that the Hugo awards belonged to all of us. If I am to believe you (and many others), that is not the case. They belong to you. Not me.

            More’s the pity.

            Best of luck and thank you for your reply.

            Eric

  43. Mitchell Burnside Clapp says:

    Eric, much as it pains me to say so, I believe you have quoted Beale incompletely above in the quote about acid in the face. Specifically, the sentence you excerpt begins with “Using the utilitarian metric favored by most atheists, …” which I believe deliberately distances the author from the sentiment (whether you believe that distancing or not is a separate argument). As your reasoning in this piece relies in part on fully contextualizing what people have actually said, I think it’s probably a good idea to do so for this particular quote, given its provocative nature.

    • Except it doesn’t distance the author from the rhetoric, because Beale is saying that there is a utilitarian argument to be made that disfiguring people with acid for teaching women how to read would be of benefit to society. Athiests aren’t making that argument. Utilitarians aren’t making that argument. The only person who believes that literate women are a danger to society is Beale himself. He then puts his beliefs in the mouths of others, solely in order to suggest that he’s morally superior for not acting on it. But the fundamental assertion, that society would be better off if women were punished for learning how to read, is nobody but Beale’s.

      • Bibliotheca Servare says:

        You realize that Mr. Beale’s point was that, while his belief system (a religious one) condemns and abhors the idea of throwing acid in women’s faces, the “utilitarian atheist” ideology, when taken to its logical conclusion, not only does not object, but inherently (not because its adherents feel this way, but because of its fundamental nature as untethered to inescapably religious concepts like moral codes) grants support to such actions, inasmuch as they are “of utility” in promoting the behavioral changes such acts are designed to induce. I’m not saying I agree, although the statement that pure unreligion has no business pretending at the possession of a moral code is not a matter of opinion, but basic fact, unless you actually believe morality is genetic, despite the crushing weight of historical, and modern, examples to the contrary. I’m just pointing out that your “point” isn’t. A point, that is. You, sir, are not in possession of a point. ;-P
        (As to the question of whether Mr. Beale is correct in his assertion that the horror of acid attacks is, though unforgivably horrible and evil, effective at achieving the aforementioned aim of behavior modification? Ask a middle eastern woman. Violence in the face of behavior that is “unacceptable” according to the standards of the society in which the behavior is engaged…is a time-tested, inarguably effective, technique for suppressing change. An ugly truth, but still true, even if Mr. Beale did, undeniably, state it in a way that was tailored to cause outrage. I could tell that much justby copying, pasting, and googling the quote. He seems to be fond of that “tactic” iirritating and arguably juvenile though it is. Be well!
        ;-)

  44. Calbeck says:

    It occurs to me that most of the Hugo Affair comes down to Brandolini’s Law:

    “The amount of energy necessary to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.”

    The Puppies called what they see as bullshit, their detractors mostly think the Puppies are talking bullshit, and each side proceeded to expend energy an order of magnitude larger in order to “refute” what the other side says.

    Which led to each side thinking the expenditures of the other side amounted to yet more bullshit, leading to another order of magnitude of energy expended… and another… and another…

    Face it, as long as the default position of just about anyone involved is that the other side’s position has absolutely no merit, or that reasonable statements exist only as “cover” for more nefarious aims, there will be no end to this.

    Which leads straight into harsh reality: absent negotiations, it’s only down to whomever can muster the largest number of activists. At this point, that’s the Puppies, hands-down, per the nomination results.

    And I will reiterate once more: GamerGate did not become significantly involved in any of this until blame for it was laid at our doorstep. You might have noticed we don’t like being blamed for stuff we don’t do, since we’ve been having to defend ourselves such accusations since August. You might as well have kicked us in the shin.

    We’ve already laid out hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations for various charities that struck us as interesting, like funding more women getting into the games industry and adopting a sea lion. Forty bucks for the right to vote in WorldCon? Not that big a deal for a lot of us. And a lot of us do enjoy both science and fantasy fiction.

    By doubling down on calling Puppy concerns “bullshit”, and by dragging us into it as a scapegoat for the nomination results, you’ve succeeded in starting our mobilization. We put our money, efforts and passion into what we do.

    Do you really want to see where that road is going to lead in the coming years? Are you really prepared to spike the Hugos altogether rather than drop paranoid delusions about “angry white men”?

    Frankly… I don’t think you guys have the votes to pull off a “No Award”. Vox Day talks about spiking the Hugos if you guys do it first, but we might outnumber his hordes and yours combined. I don’t think we much like the idea of EITHER of your sides killing it off out of raw spite.

    Of course, if we were forced to do that, we’d have to field, nominate and vote for a GamerGate slate… but hey, why not? I’ve already got a 200k-word fanfic I could finish up and put into the noms for that category next year. Wouldn’t be that hard to scare up enough people to compete in the rest, either.

    Might be a worthy cause.

    • Dex says:

      Do you really want to see where that road is going to lead in the coming years? Are you really prepared to spike the Hugos altogether rather than drop paranoid delusions about “angry white men”?

      Threats of retribution coming from GamerGate. Colour me shocked…

      • Calbeck says:

        You just described a concept about rescuing the Hugos from people trying to destroy them altogether as a “threat”.

        Okay. -:)

      • Echo says:

        Oh, I know this one!
        “How dare you use WEAPONIZED CHARITY?!!!”

        • Calbeck says:

          Let’s weaponize the Hugos. That rocketship could use some cool blaster-rays on it. -;)

          • Bibliotheca Servare says:

            Roflmao…*scratches head* that actually sounds badass… “I second the motion! Move to put it to a majority vote, Mr Speaker!” “The motion passes. Is there a second for the motion to put it to a majority vote?” “Seconded!” “The motion passes; the motion heretofore to be known as ‘Weaponize the Hugo’ will be put to a majority vote of the membership.” “Huzzah! Huzzah!” *ahem* …”What?” *hangs head* “yes…I *am” an odd duck…” Lol.
            ;-)

      • Cargosquid says:

        I’m sorry….

        How is getting MORE people involved in reading, nominating, and voting for the Hugos…..a threat of retribution?

        Please elaborate.

        • Pat Augustine says:

          Logical fallacy: strawman argument.

          Absolutely nobody has objected to “getting MORE people involved in reading, nominating, and voting for the Hugos”.

          The problem isn’t increasing the size of the pool of interested people, the problem is block voting. I would think this would be obvious to any observer, and most especially to one who claims to be adept at statistical analysis. The fact that 200 people voting together as a block can negate the votes of 1800 others is the issue. Not that those 200 voted. Bring them on. Bring 10,000 new readers. PLEASE. But have them make their own decisions, and they will vote in a very obvious scattered pattern.

          Your suggestion, of creating yet another slate, is unwelcome, because it is the very idea of slates that are at the core of this – I hesitate to use the word discussion as it hasn’t been that pleasant – kerfuffle.

          Full disclosure: I also am nobody. I’ve only been reading SF regularly since the 1960s (starting with EE “Doc” Smith books I purchased at one of those Book Fairs schools used to have). I’ve never been to a Worldcon, I’ve never voted for a Hugo. Most of the names in this – brouhaha – were unknown to me (alas, most of my favorite SF authors have passed away), so it’s been an education. Because of that I’ve found some new authors to read, which pleases me to no end. Eric Flint is one of those, as is Rachel Swirsky. (I’d already read and enjoyed “Ancillary Justice” last year, before I became aware of the Hugo disagreement at all, so I can’t count Lecke as a new author I found through it).

          In any case, there’s a lot of us nobodies, and we are all going to make our own decisions, and mathematically, that bodes well for the block voters. Which is bad, regardless of who puts forth the block. I don’t have a solution for block voting, I wish I did. But it’s clearly the major issue in this debacle, not whether “people who are intolerant of intolerant people” are the worst sort of intolerant or if the original intolerant people are worse. That’s just baggage.

          • Calbeck says:

            You people DO know I’m yanking your collective chains, right?

            What the hell would #GamerGate do with a rocketship trophy? Whack a crappy games journalist over the head with it?

            I’m going through my voter’s packet and enjoying a lot of good (and some not so good) fiction. I’ve already nailed down some of my votes on that basis. I’ll be sending in my ballot.

            And after the elections, if idiots keep blaming #GamerGate for their own inability to win a democratic nomination and election in accordance with their own damn rules, then we’re going to stay engaged because we have to because defamation-by-press is the entire problem we’ve been fighting. You’re just smearing it around like kids who found they could tick off Mommy by painting her name in the toilet bowl with nail polish. We grumble and grab the brush and bleach while you scream about how we’re all sexist racist while males who hate gays and we’ve heard that so often you just blur into the background while we go about cleaning up your mess.

            We’ll never take over the Hugos, because we don’t WANT ’em, we don’t NEED ’em, and if it wasn’t for being able to enjoy a walloping passel of SF/F for $40, it would also be a thankless chore. Thanks to CHORFs.

  45. Brian Dolton says:

    With regard to Brad’s point seven… I have seen him claim this before. He says he wants everyone to have a seat at the table. I’d agree. I have argued before that more Hugo
    Voters is a good thing (I also note the utter horror from his supporters when Mary Robinette Kowal offered to sponsor voting memberships for people who could not afford them).

    But here’s the problem. Hugo nominations were already diverse, as the presence of Resnick and indeed Brad himself in recent years adequately demonstrates (whereas most of the names cited by May have come nowhere near an award list).

    Imagine a house. It is painted in many colors, though some colors are represented more than others. Along comes someone who says “there should be more red in this house”. Others disagree, but the disagreements are mild.

    And then the person gets a bunch of friends together- some who has never cared about this house before – and they paint the WHOLE HOUSE red.

    And then they wonder why lots of other people in the house are upset.

    • Calbeck says:

      Except that the resulting nominations are in fact more diverse for 2015 than they were for 2014.

      • Brian Dolton says:

        Really? Looking at the four fiction categories, I am really not seeing that. For example, I see three women on this year’s ballot, two of whom were not SP/RP nominees, compared to six last year. I see two PoC that I know of on this year’s list (again, one of these is non-SP/RP) compared to four last year. And I see one person with four nominations this year (a fifth was ineligible) compared to last year when no-one had more than one. So please clarify how this year is “more diverse”?

        • Brian Dolton says:

          Apologies: I misread. One person did receive nominations in two fiction categories last year.

        • Calbeck says:

          My apologies, I was in error.

          The picture I was looking at was of the Hugo WINNERS for 2014, not the nominees. Overwhelmingly white, although according to the proceedings the shortlist was far more racially diverse.

          Given the differences in voting numbers between then and now, which have been blamed for Puppies sweeping the nominations for 2015, it would seem a reasonable prediction that the winners this year will be more diverse than last — admittedly, not hard to pull off, although slightly harder since Larry himself declined a nom.

          • “Given the differences in voting numbers between then and now, which have been blamed for Puppies sweeping the nominations for 2015, it would seem a reasonable prediction that the winners this year will be more diverse than last — admittedly, not hard to pull off, although slightly harder since Larry himself declined a nom.”

            Given how thoroughly the puppies have packed the first five categories with men, it will be impossible for 2014 to match the gender diversity of 2014 there. Only two of those categories have any female nominees, and one of them is no thanks to the puppies.

          • andyl says:

            Well not all the winners for 2014 were white. There was John Chu.

            Oh and the Campbell (yeah not a Hugo) winner was Sofia Samatar.

            But you are just trying to have it both ways. If PoC had won all the rockets you would have claimed affirmative action, if PoC win only 1 rocket it is because we just aren’t all that diverse.

      • rochrist says:

        Because of COURSE getting John C Wright 6 nominations represents the HEIGHT of diversity!

    • Larry and Brad were both nominees for the Campbell Award. They had a place at the table. They didn’t find their seat comfortable.

  46. Tina Connell says:

    Firstly, THANK YOU for being a voice of reason during all of this divisive fuss.

    I’ve been slogging my way through the Hugo readers packet, and have been taking a much care as possible to NOT know which works were part of a slate, and which were independently voted upon by non-slate vote (though given all of the sound and fury, that has not, unfortunately, been entirely possible). I am working my way up from short form to long form, since many of the shorter pieces are from publications I had not read, and will eventually get to novel (at least a couple of which I had already read, which will save me some reading time). I didn’t know which stories were ‘slate’ for the most part, but I must say that a number of those nominated are weaker (in quality) than many of the offerings in those categories in previous years.
    I guess I fall somewhat into the ‘old white farts’ category, being white, female, and having been reading SF&F for over 60 years. But those 60 years also exposed me to a heck of a lot of GOOD writing. Not just SJW writing — GOOD writing. I have no idea whatsoever regarding what the politics, religion, race, etc. are of the authors I read (at least, to be more accurate, did not until all of this SP nonsense arose), and it doesn’t affect my feelings as to whether their writing is any good. I didn’t know for many years that Chip Delany was black, and so what, he’s GOOD. I’ve enjoyed work by Orson Card, and did not have any idea that he is supposed to be a homophobe, but some of the stories were damn good. I don’t vote politics, or social attitude — I vote for good writing. Just because the SPs say that the voting is unfairly influenced by liberal SJWs doesn’t make it so.
    A ‘The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” mash-up with ‘The Sword in the Stone’ isn’t going to make me love the story, despite nostalgia. Nor will I vote for self-conscious ‘artistry’ and lyrical vocabulary (thank you, sir, for the descriptive ‘Saudi School of Prose’), if I don’t end up giving a G-D about the author’s characters or the (forgettable) story. I also like a good action story, but it has to have some point to get my vote, not just be a vehicle for adolescent thriller/battle scenes (one reason I seldom go to the movies). As an example, I read and enjoy David Weber, but after a couple of tries I gave up on Correia (I really DID try, since he made it onto a Hugo ballot) — both have ‘action’ but one is readable in the long haul and has excellent character development and plotting, and the other is (although popular to a certain audience) not, at least not yet.
    Perhaps a good touchstone would be ‘OK, this was a pretty good read, but would I be willing to re-read this / put it on my bookshelf, or not?’. The ones that fall into the ‘I would re-read’ category go on my ‘consider this as a possible for the final vote list’ — if I wouldn’t be willing to re-read (or worse yet, would violently avoid re-reading, in disgust), they fall below the ‘vote for’ line. Of course, there’s also the occasional, far too rare, ‘Wow, that’s amazing!’ that goes to the top of the list instantly, that keeps me reading SF. Thus far this year, nothing has hit that mark, but I haven’t finished reading yet, and can still hope for a pleasant surprise or so.

    Incidentally, many of EF’s works fall into the re-read category, to the extent that I have loaded them onto my Kindle to save wear and tear on the hard copy versions.

  47. James May says:

    Mr. Flint, I’m curious if you have any definition of hate speech towards ethnic and sexual groups which doesn’t include a double standard. You know as well as I do that if you went into a Teamster warehouse and changed seniority and the jobs and wages that go with that according to race, sex and privilege you’d have a riot on your hands. As a Teamster in good standing, I’d be leading that riot and I imagine you might too. You cannot run a union shop like that or any kind of society large or small. As long as we have this double standard in SF, nothing will change. I said at the very beginning the Hugos should be left alone and a new award created. It could be rotated across web sites and perhaps eventually tied into a convention. That’s how institutions are created. Having said that, considering the rhetoric coming out of WorldCon supporters, if racist feminists get pranked, I’m all on board with that prank.

  48. It seems that I can summarise a lot of your critique like so: “These are small incidents which have been blown up into Great Big Things”.

    Let’s suppose that is true. If so, it seems to be rather a turnaround from the usual state of things, in which the left complains about incidents that are small by any rational measure, and the right points out that hey, this is minor. I find this a bit ironic. For example, consider “microaggression”; from Wiki:

    Microaggressions commonly endured by women include catcalls or wolf-whistling; the male gaze in an inappropriate context; being touched without permission; condescension; being ignored or frequently interrupted; and having their ideas at work attributed to others.

    This seems to be sorted roughly from least to most bad (micro- to centi-aggression, perhaps); catcalls and wolf whistles, at any rate, do not seem to me any worse than what the Puppies complain about. Yet I suggest that few people on the left would dismiss much of this list as “Meh, small stuff” – yeah, not even those authors who have fought literal physical mobs have found it worth their admittedly-valuable time to say “Ya know, this is not worth making a Great Big Fuss about; deal with it”.

    Now, perhaps this stuff has just never come to your attention, and obviously that’s fine – not everyone needs to have an opinion on every possible issue that someone has put up on La Wik. But I think this forms a significant part of the context of the Hugo debate. There do exist people out there who will entirely unironically refer to themselves as “social justice warriors”, and one of the things they object to is “microaggression”; they will of course explain that each individual incident is tiny, but it reflects a system of oppression. And indeed I have some sympathy for this argument; many little things can, in fact, add up to One Big Thing without it being very easy to point out any particularly aggravating and specific injustice. (Consider school bullies for an example that’s not politically charged.) However, what goes for one side goes equally for the other. Would you agree that some of what is listed in that quote is, actually, minor nonsense, not worth anyone’s attention? Alternatively, would you agree that a pattern of such minor stuff can add up to a serious problem, and that the Puppies have at least the beginnings of making such a case?

    My impression has been that in the Hugo thing (which my fingers for some reason consistently want to write “the Huge thing”) each side has taken on the habitual flaws of the other: The right has complained extensively about minor snubs, the left has been privilegedly dismissive of lived experiences and blind to its own abrasiveness.

  49. Stephanie Whelan says:

    Well, I can tell you that this whole debacle has given me a much longer list of writers I must get in the habit of reading. I daresay that your work is up high on that list. I appreciate the time and thought you’ve put into this post. Thank you.

  50. Reality Observer says:

    Mr. Flint – this was ten minutes on the web. I don’t have time to look up everything you claim is a “lie” – but don’t expect you to, either; just take this as an example (I much prefer you writing excellent fiction for ten minutes.)

    Complete post by NK Jemisin, on her own blog, 9/11/2008 (my emphasis for the key words):

    I’m more concerned the Republicans will dissolve as a party, then send “spores” of anti-progressive hawkish nutjobs out to infiltrate every other influential sphere of American life. Which they’re probably already doing anyway, but when they’re in “Repub” mode, I can see them. It gives me comfort.

    There’s been a lot of theorizing about the dearth by fans of color too, but I’m not sure if anyone in influential/gatekeeper position is listening. This thread convinced me that SFWA doesn’t care about the problem. Other organizations do, but they don’t have SFWA’s clout. It doesn’t help that there are a lot more out-of-the-closet racists out there than just Vox Day — Larry Niven recently made some pretty heinous comments about seeding the Spanish-speaking community with rumors that hospitals were harvesting organs; this was intended to keep them from seeking out healthcare, which he proposed would lower costs. And you’re probably aware of the skirmish some of us recently had with William Sanders over his anti-Arab/Muslim comments. Such gestures are next to useless; these cranky old crazies are institutions within the community, and nobody cares if they offend a few young punks (or brown punks, or female punks, or whatever), because they’ve done it before and nobody shut them down then. It’s that tolerance that disturbs me — that willingness for the SF community to welcome all comers, even if they’re frothing hatemongers, and not just tolerate them: give them awards, put them on decision-making teams. That, along with the frequent and continued publication of books containing stupid racial cliches of the kind you mentioned at NYROSF, suggests there are a lot of closet racists out there. Of course that sends a message to fans and writers of color: you’re not welcome. If you come here, be prepared to do battle with the SF Establishment. Not exactly a welcome mat.

    So I’m glad that YA seems to be taking up the torch. My suspicion is that YA appeals particularly to younger writers who don’t feel like wading through the anti-progressive morass of SF fandom; there’s more freedom in this marketing category, more interest in appealing to those audiences that SF still snubs. Maybe YA can revitalize SFdom, by bringing in more young fans who will raise a stink about the kinds of things that are allowed to slide now. I dunno. I won’t hold my breath, though.

    Oh, just FYI — there was a lot more discussion of this post in my “unofficial” blog, if you want to go read. =)

    • Echo says:

      Wow, the context makes that so much worse…

    • So in context, she’s saying that she finds it disturbing that the SFF community will tolerate–not just tolerate but applaud–people who say the most vile and hateful things about her personally and minorities in general, simply because they’re good writers.

      My god. The monster. I don’t know how we survived living on the same earth with her for so long. Do you need a hug? I think we all need a hug.

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