A Chronicle of Outrage Marketing Part 4: The Legend Grows

As this is part four, a short recap. Baen published an anthology with the theme of Daves. A handful of people said ‘huh?’. Nick Mamatas made a pointed observation about affirmadave action and Baen editor Christopher Ruocchio posted many tweets as a consequence. Larry Correia joined in. Bounding into Comics joined in. Dave Freer joined in. Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

The other day I said that “I’m keen to watch this unfold because it is the sort of thing that in a years time will have transmogrified and become part of Puppy-lore i.e. that time the whole of liberal/SJW/antifa/Bernie Sanders formed a giant army to destroy the careers of every writer ever called Dave, or some such.”

A key part of this process is to grow the legend and cement the story of victory. To see this we have to wander into Facebook.

First of all over to Christopher Ruocchio who has some positive sales news for the flock of Daves.

“Well, the near vertical, 700,000-place jump in the Amazon ebook rankings for the title in question you see here coincides with the day he announced the book was cancelled.”

The minor criticism has now been elevated to Nick M announcing that the Dave anthology had been cancelled! There is a circular kind of negation here. If Nick M really has helped the anthology then there was no need to be cross with Nick M but then if Chris Ruocchio hadn’t been cross etc. The key takeaway, apparently the jump in sales wasn’t due to how great the stories were (at least if Chris R is to be believed).

Still, that is only a mild bit of hyperbole. What we need is the Roucchio v mildly bemused Mamatas exchange to be raised up to fantasy epic proportions and for that you need Larry Correia [archive link].

” However, SJWs, led by a particular dumb motherfucker named Nick Mamatas (a super bitter puppy kicker) got all outraged, because “diversity” and apparently having a book of all Daves wasn’t “inclusive” (well no shit, sherlock) and this was a super huge OUTRAGE! “

The ‘outrage’ remember was a Brittany Speers gif.

“Now, normally cancel culture just steam rolls publishers, because its a business filled with cry babies and wimps. However, this publisher is Baen, who don’t care, and the guy running their social media is a Chestertonian bad ass, who told Mamatas to get bent. “

Brave Baen valiantly defended from the one slightly snarky Tweet and a Brittany Speers by the noble defended of truth and justice.

“And also, where were you assholes when we did an anthology that was all female to show that women have always been part of sci-fi? (they totally ignored that one because it didn’t fit their narrative of perpetual victimhood). “

What Larry’s logic here is unclear. Was he hoping that mythical SJWs would attack that previous anthology so it would boost sales or was he saying the SJWs should have supported the anthology, which, in Larry’s logic would have reduced sales? I’m not sure but he does raise a good question: where were you?

The anthology in question was Women of Futures Past (2016) edited by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (https://www.baen.com/women-of-futures-past.html ). You can read all about it at this wonderful science fiction fanzine I often visit: http://file770.com/collected-classic-sf-by-women/ That post had over a hundred comments by the way.

But you know which website you CAN’T read about it? Oh, did you guess “Monster Hunter Nation”? Because you are right!

Yeah but maybe he promoted it on Facebook:

Apparently not! I can’t imagine what was so different about the Baen anthology about Women and the Baen anthology about Daves…

Meanwhile:

“But see that great big spike on the graph there? That is what happens when creators actually stand up for themselves and fight back against the SJW lynch mobs.”

Not just a mob now but a “lynch mob”, armed to the teeth with rolling eye emojis and snark.

A Chronicle of Outrage Marketing Part 3

Well it has been awhile since I went through a Dave Freer post at Mad Genius club but here we are. Monday is Dave’s day at the rostrum and so inevitably we have a post about how mean Nick Mamatas was to him. https://madgeniusclub.com/2019/10/21/mayflies/

“You know, he does have one thing going for him: IMAX level projection. I’ve heard LOTS of attacks on Anthos for NOT having women, or whatever. The opposite, excluding men, or white males, or heterosexual males… abounds. There are hundreds of them CELEBRATING excluding a large part of the human race, often as their theme. I’m amused that Matamas assumes the gender of Daves. I thought that was a deadly sin, punishable by a thousand hysterical twitter shrieks? And as for ‘POC’, that’s another assumption… as ‘David’ is a very common name in much of Africa.”

Except, of course, no assumption needed to be made as 1. the actual list of authors was listed in his post and 2. the point still stands even if some of the authors had been women called Dave (they aren’t).

“I honestly don’t care. If you want to have a ‘POC’ Anthology, or a one-legged lesbians who identify as pork pies on alternate Thursdays Anthology – go right ahead. Of course that means that – if you were going to be fair, stopping endless whining about having women or POC or alphabet soup on every anthology’s ToC, unless they’re exclusive to the same people who now demand inclusion. But it’s different when they do it. Shrug. The sales will sort it out.”

Except Dave manifestly DOES care and we have now years of moaning against inclusivity and diversity from Dave e.g. https://madgeniusclub.com/2018/05/21/a-fair-go/ or https://madgeniusclub.com/2013/11/11/passing-through-the-fire-to-molech/ ,that second one is interesting given Dave’s arguments about demographics at other times, such as https://madgeniusclub.com/2018/08/06/pie/ .

“But I DO want good stories. Partly because I like to read them, and partly because good stories build an audience – which benefits everyone in the field. I’m mildly bemused by the sort of logic that concludes that having a very common first name (meaning the possible pool of authors (and readers) is way larger than most of the other ‘exclusive’ collections) and headlined by three legendary authors… cannot select ‘good stories’? “

That wasn’t an assumption made in Nick M’s Tweet either. It is an assumption Dave has made and one that other Sad Puppies have asserted i.e. that increased representation of women in awards or in publishing represents a decline in the quality of stories. The quality of the stories in the anthology did arise in a later Tweet but not based on assumption but on a less than glowing review: https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-4814-8426-8

The stream of consciousness stuff carries on from there and concludes with:

“The zeitgeist has moved, and they haven’t. That’s fairly obvious in everything from Gamergate to Sad Puppies, from Brexit, to President Trump to the Hong Kong protests. They don’t all win – but they were unthinkable at all 10 years back. More is coming. Zeitgeist doesn’t, most of the time, move fast, but it’s like a heavy freight train on a downgrade. The only thing that will stop it is a long up-slope (economic in this case IMO, with lots more money.)”

So one failed toxic harassment campaign, a failed award hijack, an unholy political mess that three years in still hasn’t happened, and a notoriously corrupt & incompetent president. Lumping the Hong Kong protestors in there looks more like an insult to the brave people of Hong Kong.

Now note what is missing in the post.

The stories.

Specificaly what’s good about them or why we should read them (other than that some of the authors make a living writing). If the stories rather than the politics is what is paramount, you have to wonder why so often Dave falls back on the politics.

To be fair to Dave, he did have an earlier post promoting the anthology back in August: https://madgeniusclub.com/2019/08/12/25740/ I’m not going to pick holes in that particularly, and I ignored it at the time. The tone then makes sense, it’s just a novelty anthology with a silly premise but…you really then can’t start claiming that it is the intrinsic quality of the story that makes a “Dave” anthology a wonderful idea after literally years of moaning about “affirmative action” in publishing. Or rather you can do that but not with any consistency or integrity. As he pointed out at the time: “Honestly the only way I get into that kind of company is by having my maternal grandfather and my great uncle’s names.” Which reminds me of a different Dave Freer quote:

“I’d like believe in his future, where individuals matter, and people are judged on their merits, and not on superficial characteristics.

https://madgeniusclub.com/2015/02/16/i-love-my-job/

A Chronicle of Outrage Marketing Part 2

Yesterday I posted about the Twitter exchange between sci-fi author and Baen editor Christopher Ruocchio and Nick Mamatas over the Baen anthology The Chronicles of Davids. https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2019/10/19/a-chronicle-of-outrage-marketing/

What I didn’t do is show examples of how the legitimate (and pretty mild) comments about the anthology were then leveraged. No big surprises here but I’m keen to watch this unfold because it is the sort of thing that in a years time will have transmogrified and become part of Puppy-lore i.e. that time the whole of liberal/SJW/antifa/Bernie Sanders formed a giant army to destroy the careers of every writer ever called Dave, or some such.

Bounding into Outrage

First off “Bounding into Comics”. This is a pop-culture news site that takes as its editorial premise the whole SJWs-are-destroying-everything-we-love worldview. Notably, it has been a regular shill for Vox Day’s comic book company Arkhaven. Earlier this year, the site pushed a smear campaign against the writer Alyssa Wong (see item 2 in this Pixel Scroll http://file770.com/pixel-scroll-7-31-19-yes-its-true-this-scroll-has-no-pix/ ) in a post by the site’s lead editor John F Trent.

The Bounding into Comics version of the story is here https://boundingintocomics.com/2019/10/18/outrage-group-criticizes-baen-books-for-releasing-an-anthology-by-people-named-david-due-to-lack-of-diversity/

The breathless framing of an “outrage group” sets the tone and it is downhill from there. However, the bit which I think best sums up the article is this:

Baen Books Gets Mobbed
In a bizarre turn of events, Baen Books was soon descended upon by a handful of social justice-focused users who criticized the anthology for its lack of diversity:

Oh my! Baen books gets mobbed? By who? By “a handful”. That bit is at least accurate, it is literally a handful of people quizzing the premise of the anthology. Essentially hardly anybody and in no sense a mob. It’s a minor example of point 8 in Umberto Eco’s Ur-Fascism: the enemy is both strong and weak. The SJWs are a mob and they are mobbing (i.e. it is an attack) but also they are a handful and bizarre etc etc. The terrifying mobbing of Baen book’s Twitter account includes a Brittany Speers gif and some people asking genuine questions.

Outrage Hunters International

Hey it wouldn’t be outrage marketing without our blog regular and Gamergate supporter, Larry Correia. Over on Facebook Larry too has leapt to the defence of Baen — the poor publisher currently beleaguered on twitter by a quizzical face emoji and Brittany Speers:

“I’ll do an actual blog post when I get the chance, but if you are curious what has outraged all the SJWs on Twitter this week, it is having an anthology where everything is Dave based isn’t “inclusive”. (When Baen released an all female anthology to demonstrate that women have always been in sci-fi, all the SJWs ignored it)
You should buy this book just because it will upset Nick Mamatas, and he’s a friggin idiot.”

Well “all the the SJWs on Twitter” is obviously intended to be hyperbole but on that initial Baen thread it’s maybe five people making very mild comments. Over Twitter as a whole, obviously a few more people talked about it but I follow a lot of left-leaning sci-fi accounts and social-justicey people and The Chronicles of Davids made barely a blip. I’m not sure I’d have even mentioned the Nick Mamatas Tweets except that Baen sort of falls into the remit given to me by SJW headquarters.

There’s 70+ comments to Larry’s post (apparently the flounce off Facebook and over to MeWe is happening slowly). Mind you the main comments in all places I’ve seen this discussed is 1. ‘Why Barry’ and 2. ‘Wasn’t that a Dr Seuss story?’

Of course, what we won’t see is anybody discussing Nick Mamatas’s actual point about the anthology and what he deftly terms “affirmadave action”. As for making him ‘mad’ Larry himself described that rhetorical tactic once to me:

“You can always spot the dishonest dismiss attempts because no matter how righteous your claim or how much you’ve actually been wronged, they always paint their opposition’s words as ranting, whining, You Sound Angry, so on and so forth. It’s very predictable.”

I have zero reason to think Nick Mamatas would be remotely upset if one of Larry’s followers bought the anthology.

Recursive Outrage Paradox

Of course, now I’ve talked about the talking about or when others talk about the talking about this will be cited as being further evidence of some deep SJW campaign to persecute Baen or conservatives or Daves in general. It’s not, obviously.

Back to the dilemma: ignore or discuss? Ignoring amounts to self-silencing and discussing can feed into a toxic cycle. The anthology itself is both fine and yes, also an example of how systemic bias can operate without a malicious intent. That’s really pertinent in understanding the nature of how biases operate and wow, magically doesn’t not make that assemblage of Daves horrible people AND notably I haven’t seen anybody suggesting that they are (OK at least one is but not because of the anthologising or Daveness).

Notas Tertius: Part 4, Chapters 9, 10 and 11

Notas Tertius Part 2: Being even further unauthorised notes, musings and rabbit hole explorations on the Terra Ignota series. Covering the matter of The Will to Battle: Terra Ignota Book III by Ada Palmer

Page numbers are from Tor Hardback edition 2017. All notes and speculation are those of myself. Notes are written progressively and in some cases questions raised are answered later in the text. Allusions made by characters are speculative and might not reflect the intent of the author.

After chapter 9 the story shifts pace with events occurring in multiple locations and over longer stretches of time. Amid this, we need to get into the intricacies of Manicheanism, Hobbes’s natural law and deontology versus virtue ethics.

Continue reading “Notas Tertius: Part 4, Chapters 9, 10 and 11”

A wise policy update for the Dragon Awards

Only just noticed this. It’s not a change in the rules as far as I can see because it is a policy regarding possible finalists whereas the ‘rules’ are terms and conditions for voters. However, it is a change in the FAQ for candidates.

The second to last clause in the old FAQ stated:

Is it okay to push my fans to vote for me?
Yes, the Dragon Awards are a fan choice, and it is perfectly acceptable for you to encourage your fans to vote for you.

https://web.archive.org/web/20181017150210/https://awards.dragoncon.org/faq/candidate-faq/

That has been amended and now states:

Is it okay to push my fans to vote for me?
Yes, the Dragon Awards are a fan choice, and it is perfectly acceptable for you to encourage your fans to vote for you. However, please do not offer anything of value as “encouragement.”

https://web.archive.org/web/20191019015925/https://www.dragoncon.org/awards/faq/candidate-faq/

I’m not aware of any body trying to induce people to vote for them by offering something. I assume it is just a precautionary piece of advice. Not sure what happens if some one did offer inducements.

A Chronicle of Outrage Marketing

I was watching something on Twitter yesterday that I thought was interesting. The ongoing dynamic of how to talk (if at all) about books either by people on the right or particularly liked by people on the right. The questions is whether it is possible to do so. [Part 2 Here]

The particular point of interest is an anthology from Baen whose gimmick is that all (but one) of the author are called “Dave” or “David”. I’m not particularly interested or concerned about the book and it was something I would have more generally ignored because it’s got Dave Freer in it. On Baen’s own social media there were some comments about the premise being inherently discriminatory and a response from Baen’s social media account that it’s one anthology and they’ve published anthologies (or at least one) where all the authors were women.

There’s some merit to Baen’s argument in principle — I haven’t looked to see how it works out in practice. The merit is that it’s not the impact of a single anthology but the collective impact over time. A publisher picking an anthology premise that promotes authors of one demographic group (intentionally or otherwise) isn’t itself an issue. It could be a neutral thing or a positive thing but the issue is with overtime is part of an effort to narrow who gets published or broaden…and so on. An anthology of Daves isn’t a big deal, does favour a type of author more likely to be male etc, should be seen in a broader context of what else the publisher publishes and so on. Not terribly difficult ideas to get your head around. The propositions that it is just a silly/fun/quirky idea for an anthology and makes a (small) contribution to making it easier for the stereotypical ageing white guy SF author to get published can both be true. The scale of the thing makes it easy to ignore i.e. publishing has bigger issues than this book.

BUT it clearly should be absolutely OK to make either point about the book.

So here is Nick Mamatas on Twitter about the book in question.

Now Nick M is not famed for his delicate diplomacy on social media but this is hardly scathing or particularly harsh. It’s not even a substantive dig at the premise of the book nor at the actual contents. The point is a pertinent one. Some of the authors on that list have been vocal about what they see as ‘affirmative action’ in Science Fiction publishing. It really would be hypocritical for them to be OK with a book whose premises helps their story get published rather than somebody else’s on a basis other than whether the story is fun or good or otherwise. Note, that doesn’t mean their story ISN’T fun or good, it is just literally taking a critique that some of the authors on that list have used in the past for anthologies for women, disabled people, LGBTQI people and others and showing that their critique would apply even more aptly to a book of Daves.

The counter-argument (i.e. that there are other anthologies) is itself a counter-argument to their own anti-‘affirmative action’ argument. It doesn’t address the issue Nick M raised about the inconsistency of the position.

If this sounds very pedantic on my part then 1. welcome to my blog new reader and 2. I just wanted to pin down this initial point so we can follow where the argument goes afterward. The other point is that it’s perfectly reasonable and measured criticism even if you think the criticism is incorrect or unnecessary. It’s pretty mild, there’s no suggestion that the book is horrible or deeply offensive or badly written or whatever.

Act 2. Author Christopher Ruocchio replies. I’m not familiar with him but his bio at Random Penguin books says that he is also an assistant editor at Baen. He replies to a later Tweet by Nick M on a side discussion on why Barry Malzberg is in the anthology if he’s not called Dave (the answer is the story has Dave in the title). Nick M calls this weak, which is arguably a bit mean.

And it escalates up from there:

And so on…

And so on…

Except of course, nobody said bigotry. To start with this was pretty mild critique of an anthology.

Well OK. This a silly argument on social media with an author/edit being a tad over sensitive. An ordinary occurrence. I won’t post every Tweet. This one is from near the end of the exchange.

And yes, sure enough, elsewhere in the social media of right wing authors the spin on this specific exchange becomes transformed. The left is trying to cancel the book etc and specific calls to actions to boost the anthology and to spread the word and to show the left that people won’t be silenced etc etc.

Of course there’s a contradiction here. The early complaint of punching down and the boast of free publicity are at odds. It is the later claim that is more correct. Whatever, you might think of Nick M’s initial Tweets they were not doing any practical harm to the book and probably doing a small net gain in publicity. The people who might view the concept of the book negatively weren’t ever going to buy the book but Nick M’s argument wasn’t an attempt to discourage people to buy the book.

The hyper-defensive reaction probably did help boost initial publicity for the book. Indeed, regular readers have all witnessed various authors trying to arrange their own brouhahas precisely to help their books get noticed. Does that work in the long run? I’ve no idea. Is that what happened in this case? Where the initial responses from Christopher R a cynical reaction to build up a publicity flame war or a genuine case of somebody being overly sensitive on social media? I think that is a false dichotomy.

Think about it this way: among conservative leaning authors in particular there is no social penalty to being hypersensitive on social media. The over-reaction is (probably) a genuine reaction but it happens also because it can help promote books within a community of readers.

So does that mean Nick M should NOT have even mentioned the anthology and avoided giving free publicity? No. It is reasonable and right to talk about books, including books with issue. More politically, I’ve discussed repeatedly how so much of the right’s current engagement with the left and centre is about shutting down discussion and silencing left viewpoints. The current iteration of the right is, in general, deeply opposed to free speech in its functional sense of open discussion and exchange of ideas. Not talking about stuff that you find interesting for fear or either a hyperbolic reaction or that you words will be exploited to help sell more of a book amounts to a pernicious self-censorship.

Pick and choose and there’s no single right way of doing this. That’s not much of a moral to finish the story but it’s all I’ve got 😌