The Puppy Axis Returns: Guess What Unites Them?


Since the debacle of the 2015 Hugo Puppy-campaign, the loudest voices have tended to go off at different tangents. The rise of Trump in the Republican party heightened political differences between the Sads and the Rabids. The more low-key Sad Puppies 4 campaign engendered less column inches.

Of late even Larry Correia has concentrated more of his blog posts on books than polemics and poor old Brad Torgersen has posted only sporadically on his own blog due to having an actual life.

So it is notable when we see Brad Torgersen, Larry Correia, John C Wright, and Vox Day all commenting on the same thing. Given how much time they’ve spent going their separate ways, Puppyologists are naturally interested to see the old gang back together again. It is also a reasonable assumption that given the many genuine and deep differences between these four, that whatever catches all of their interests gives us an insight into what helped forge their unlikely alliance in the first place.

So what is it? The literati writing highfalutin books? Nope. Damien Walters? Nope. Tor books buying bottled water for panellists at Worldcon thus confirming the long suspect Illuminati/Rosicrucian subversion of science-fiction award ceremonies? Nope.

No, the thing that gets the collective knickers in a twist of the fab-four is this report from Fireside Fiction on the deep under-representation of black authors in short science-fiction and fantasy. The report is here if you haven’t read it already:

View at

To summarise the report it finds that “Out of 2,039 original stories published in 63 magazines in 2015, only 38 stories could be found that were written by black authors.”

That is clearly a problem. Note this isn’t about people winning awards or big contracts or having successful careers but rather at the ground-floor of SFF publishing.

Now Brad, Larry, JCW and Vox have all complained about conservatives being excluded from publishing. This was an issue that this blog looked at many aeons ago (OK last year) in a series of posts about Dave Freer’s Petunia and Whales analysis. The contrasting freak out from the rabidly-sad quartet is interesting.

Brad first

“So, I have a tough time believing that the supposed dearth of other-than-W authors publishing in the short fic markets, is a matter of prejudice”

That is, of course, unless W=right wing Americans, in which case Brad things it is vitally important to run a divisive poll-stacking campaign to right imagined wrongs.

Larry then joins in

First, if you’re a “person of color” (which always blows me away how that is cool now but Colored Person is a slur) most of your readers don’t care. No. Really. The vast majority of people who read do so to be entertained. Adventure, comedy, tragedy, whatever. Make them happy or make them cry, you’re doing your job. Only a tiny percentage of whiny white guilt liberals buy books based upon the author’s race.

Which neatly misses the point and also suggests that Larry hasn’t read the report. But we’ll come back to that.

Post-Larry, Vox Day decides to defend Larry’s piece:

In which the an insufficiency of Negroes publishing short science fiction stories is lamented

And not to be out-done along comes John C Wright

My comment: imagine the shoe was on the other foot, and this diversity freak out were instead an article about how Christian virtues, values, and ideals were insufficiently hammered across the heads of the vile pagan infidels and Philistines whom it is our sad duty to teach our enlightenment. Do you think our friends on the Progressive side of the Force would welcome such a message with cool aplomb? Or would they take such a manifesto as a declaration of war?

Interesting what counts as the ‘other foot’. For Wright the equivalent of a finding that shows a demographic that has been systematically discriminated against in multiple areas of life both social and economic for centuries is equivalent to people not agreeing with his political and theological views.

In short what brings the gang all back together again is simply this: somebody expressed concern about black authors being under-represented in short-fiction and suggested that editors etc might try harder. This, naturally, is an anathema in certain quarters hence the brief Puppy-league-of-outrage comeback tour. What else is notable is that this is one of the few (only?) points of accordance between the four of them in a long while.

But more on Larry’s ‘fisk’ in the next post.




30 thoughts on “The Puppy Axis Returns: Guess What Unites Them?

  1. The determination to show that there are absolutely no issues to worry about (apart from the ones they worry about) is surprisingly strong, isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, it’s interesting how previous SP runners have quietly retired to the sidelines and left someone else holding the bag. It’ll be interesting to see if Paulk tries to run another year, although it’ll probably be a much quieter job now that it’s a much less blatant campaign.


      2. I suspect Paulk discovered that she really isn’t interested in the Hugos. Looking throuhg both SP4 and the her comments on the nominations, there was very little she liked even things that were Rabid or Sad likes generally.


      3. “Consider this, Brad didn’t even manage to post a message on his blog congratulating Kate Paulk on organizing SP4.”

        Go read Mad Genius Club. But don’t try to comment, I understand you’ve been banned for being a dork.


  2. How many black authors get turned away compared to how many white authors? How many black authors are there in the first place? The answer to those two questions, which are basic and without which the statistic means absolutely nothing, were not provided in the ‘study’. Because its not a study, its bullshit.

    Bonus question, how does the publisher whose slush pile you’re adding your book to know what colour you are? Is there a checkbox somebody forgot to tell me about? There is no practical way to obtain the above information. It’s double bullshit.

    Life is hard. Harder when you’re stupid.

    Now I have a question for you, Camestros. Do you really think, for real, in your heart of hearts, that publishers and magazines are deliberately turning away work from black authors? Really? Because I don’t. I think those dumbasses are beating the bushes and turning over baskets to find black SF authors, and there aren’t any. Because black people are smart enough to realize there’s no money in it and they’re all off doing something else that pays.

    However publishers are very definitely turning away work by conservatives, or work with conservative themes in it, and that fact can be determined with a stroll through the bookstore. All liberalism, all the time. Compare B&N’s ever-shrinking shelves with Amazon, where politically conservative work abounds in ebook form.


    1. Political conservatives aren’t good writers. Considering Torgersen, Day, Hoyt, and Wright are the best you have to offer.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. The first is not proven and is probably unprovable (counterexamples leap to mind). I know the second is not true. The Phantom sets out to provoke, but this kind of response is probably not useful.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yup, Torgersen and Hoyt are perfectly competent, and while Wright is an acquired taste he’s published successfully for a number of years. That’s obviously different to “deserves all the awards”, but claiming they’re poor isn’t helpful.
        (Leaving out VD from that judgement may be considered deliberate)


      3. Hiya Andrew. Got time off for good behavior, did you?

        Come on over to my place, the Iron Finger is all sad, it hasn’t gotten to delete anyone lately.


    2. Publishers don’t turn away things like Van Ripplewink: You Can’t Go Home Again and After The Blast because they’re conservative, they turn them away because they’re the literary equivalent of The Room.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ya mama, thanks again for the mention of Van Ripplewink: You Can’t Go Home Again. BTW, The Room…. there must be a half dozen novels called ‘The Room’ for sale on Amazon.. Anyway, I don’t put much stock into what trolls that hide their identity post. It’s just graffiti. I think it’s time for you to go back to your web page and see if you jam another couple hundred literary allusions into a 350 word text soliloquy.


    3. “How many black authors get turned away compared to how many white authors”

      That is a good question Phantom and one that Larry raises in his “fisk” but I’m saving a discussion on that for the next post – if you can stand the suspense.

      Liked by 3 people

    4. Phantom, the question of submission rates is addressed in the link, but as you don’t respond to what they say then I guess you didn’t actually read it before responding, did you?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I read it days ago, it is not a legit piece of statistics. Typical SJW one-side-of-the-story-only. There is no baseline.

        How many red haired, left-handed Scotsmen got published, Mark? That’s the ethnic sub-sub-sub-sub group I’m interested in, and if you don’t agree you’re a racist. How dare you question me on the number of submissions, you racist!

        That’s how sensible this argument is. Go look in a mirror and slap yourself, it’s from your statistics teacher.


      2. Nothing stopping you doing your own research Phantom. As to why picking an ethnic group that has suffered sustained economic, social and political disadvantage to focus on makes more sense for a study than other groupings – I suspect you don’t actually need that explaining to you.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Telling me to slap myself is a pretty unpleasant piece of rhetoric, Phantom, how about you try playing the ball not the man from now on?
        You didn’t address any of the points they made about submission rates (even though I can see several lines of attack you could have taken) hence my belief that you’ve either not bothered to read it or are more interested in rhetoric than addressing the topic. In retrospect I see i should have acknowledged the second possibility was the more likely.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. “Telling me to slap myself is a pretty unpleasant piece of rhetoric, Phantom, how about you try playing the ball not the man from now on?”

        Like your statistics teacher -wouldn’t- slap you for that big a fail? There’s no ball here. There’s just you, Mark.

        “You didn’t address any of the points they made about submission rates…”

        They don’t KNOW anything about submission rates, and they say that they don’t. That about sums it up.


      5. “There’s no ball here. There’s just you, Mark.”

        So all you have is rhetoric and attacking the writer, and no interest in debating the positions. That’s what I’ve been saying about you for a while, so thank you for confirming it so clearly.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been trying to think of a mechanism that could cause this, since editors don’t generally get a photo of the author, and names tell you little or nothing about race. My first thought was that the authors of this study just assumed that all authors were white unless proved otherwise, and that black authors tend not to show pics of themselves for fear of losing readers, with the result that the study way under counts black authors.. Reading the documentation (such as it is), they appear to claim that there were only one or two unidentified writers per magazine at most, so that explanation won’t wash.

    The other thought was that black writers tend to want to write about the black experience, and that those stories tend to get rejected. As a gay man, I can sort of see a parallel. I want to write stories about the gay experience, and that doesn’t mean a future where being gay is utterly unremarkable. ANYONE can write a story like that; your guess is as good as mine as to what being gay would feel like in such a world. But I can see how a story in the future where gay people have more or less the same challenges they have today (or, worse, the same ones we had in the 1970s) might be unappealing to an editor. To put “my truth” into a story, I’d need to set it either in the present or in the past or else make up a good excuse. Even then, I could see editors being less interested. (Not to excuse that–obviously editors should love my writing.) 🙂 I see lots and lots of stories with GLBT characters these days, but almost none of them is true to the modern gay experience in any meaningful way.

    Likewise, I can imagine that a story set in 2100 where black people have the same problems they do today might get rejected, and might stories set in the present or recent past which focused on the black experience (not just the injustice). To the extent they want diversity at all, publishers likely want white characters with black skins (although I doubt they do so consciously). That’s probably not enough to account for so strong a result, but it could explain part of it. A really strong story that actually was authentic would likely get takers.

    The article also linked to an interview with N.K. Jemisin, who offered the further thought that a number of black writers only write for black audiences and have venues to publish their work. This implies that their stories contain so many references to the modern black experience that “outsiders” likely wouldn’t appreciate them. Given that there is such a market, that would definitely attract a number of black writers who perceive that the main SFF mags only want white protagonists. That could suffice to explain the rest of the result.

    But, if that’s the explanation, how would you fix it?


    1. “I want to write stories about the gay experience, and that doesn’t mean a future where being gay is utterly unremarkable.”

      That’s a remarkably uncreative view of how one might incorporate one’s own identity (or other dimensions of diversity) into one’s writing. “[X group of people] are discriminated against” is only one of millions of stories one could write about any marginalized group – or better still, any marginalized INDIVIDUAL. Reducing black people, or gay people, or any other group of people only to experiences of discrimination is as boring and silly as reducing gay men only to the sex they have with other gay men.


      1. Sorry but no. The stories that somebody wants to write don’t themselves reduce a whole group to one thing. Greg isn’t saying those are the only stories that should be written by gay people.

        People wanting to write about what is important to them is not uncreative. Apologies if that isn’t what you meant.

        Oh and apologies to Greg if I’m misrepresenting him also.

        Heck apologies to everybody 😉

        Liked by 2 people

Comments are closed.