When people who keep revising their own history make 1984 references…

Our erstwhile friends, the Sad Puppies, have largely been quite during the recent fuss around the Nebula awards. This is less than surprising given many (most? all?) had flounced off from the SWFA some years ago and even attempted their own alternate versions…that didn’t go very far.

Added to this was an awkward fact about the opposition to the 20booksto50K list – it was very definitely not about politics. A key argument from the Sad Puppies was that opposition to their far more flagrant slate tactics was somehow just a cover for anti-conservative sentiment among Hugo voters. To further add issues for the Sads was a key voice in raising concern about the list was Annie Bellet — an author who was unwillingly dragooned into Sad Puppies 3 by Brad Torgersen. Brad still, despite the obvious objections of Bellet, thinks he was doing her a favour by volunteering her for his culture war.

Brad has finally joined in and as always it is a mix of a narrative that wanders far from the facts, a revised version of history in which he is the hero and a list of how terribly persecuted he has been.

Here’s got two lengthy responses. One is in the comments to Yudhanjaya Wijeratne’s interesting account of his experience of the fuss (here http://yudhanjaya.com/2019/03/incidentally-there-is-support-for-wijeratnes-story-a-response-to-file770-and-a-record-of-the-nebula-award-madness/#comment-2573 ) and the other is in a Facebook post here https://www.facebook.com/brtwrites/posts/620567398356240?tn=K-R

The second piece (on his author site titled Brad R. Torgersen: author, essayist, veteran) is full of 1984 references and recasts the Sad Puppies as brave Indies versus the evil Trad-Pubs, because that’s the story that fits nicely with the 20books issue. That most of the authors directly involved in Sad Puppies were more traditionally published than 20booksto50K and that much of the opposition to the Sad Puppies came from people who were more independently published than the Sads is ignored.

The political dimension to the Sad Puppies is flicked to the ‘off switch’ again because the Sads have always been at war with Eurasia. The its-all-about-SJWs will get switched back on again at some point when Brad recalls that the Sads were always at war with Eastasia…

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30 thoughts on “When people who keep revising their own history make 1984 references…

    1. He probably banks on the fact that it’s lot of work to reconstruct the truth despite the fact that’s all on the internet. Who has the time to check all of Torgersens lies?

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  1. Brad seems to pretty ego-involved in his conception of himself as a persecuted victim. That doesn’t seem very healthy, in the long run.

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  2. I think Brad is trying rather hard to not face the fact that he really screwed up SP3. Anyone who was willing to give the Puppies the benefit of the doubt got a rude awakening when reading the truly awful stories on his list. Some of them were so bad I couldn’t believe they even got into print, much less that anyone nominated them for any kind of award. Others were incomplete and/or middle installments of series. This was his side’s one chance to get people to look at the sort of “conservative fiction” that they claimed was being passed over, and, thanks to Brad, everyone came away with the idea that “conservatives can’t write.”

    On the whole, the Puppies have been awfully nice to Brad. It’d have been easy for them to turn on him after the fiasco, but very few did so that I ever saw–none that blamed him by name. When I’ve been able to talk to them in person, one-on-one, though, they generally admit it without much prompting. So they know, and I’m sure he knows that too. That’s got to weigh on a man.

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    1. Well they were almost all Beale’s choices instead of his, or ones that Beale allowed. It was only the ones on both lists that got the votes from the Gamergigglers that Beale brought in and thus gamed the nominations, because the Gamergigglers were voting only for Beale’s Rabid list, so Sads only got the overlap.

      They had to keep coming up with different reasons for why they were doing it at all, with the indies idea being very late in the game and completely odd since the leaders were all working with Baen instead of being indies, and previously they’d argued that it was about Baen against Tor, which also made no sense. Some of their claims for why they were doing it clearly came from Beale’s grievances once again. Mostly BT was just irrelevant. They gave Beale an opportunity for revenge and he took it. He wasn’t a Svengali or anything, just had a slightly more organized network and access to some Gamergigglers.

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      1. There’s some strange sideways argument about how Baen isn’t trad at all because, like, it’s so good to its author’s it’s pretty much like being independent. So it, much like Steve in the Monster Squad, doesn’t count.

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      2. The claim that Amazon “destroying the ebook publishing market” will bring down trad-pub but not Castalia is… huh. If he was this creative in his fiction he might have a viable career.

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      3. “There’s some strange sideways argument about how Baen isn’t trad at all because, like, it’s so good to its author’s it’s pretty much like being independent. So it, much like Steve in the Monster Squad, doesn’t count.”

        Snort. Jim Baen worked for Tom Doherty, first at Ace and then at Tor. When S&S wanted him to come head up Pocket’s SFF line, he instead wanted his own company and offered S&S a distribution deal instead. He started Baen Books with financing from Doherty/Tor and Tor’s financial backer, Dick Gallen. (He lucked out in having S&S as his distributor, because Tor had Pinnacle Books as their distributor and Pinnacle went bankrupt, losing Tor millions of dollars they didn’t get back. So Tor was sold to St. Martin’s/Macmillan as an independently operated sub-company. Before that, Tor was an independent company of moderate size, like Baen still is. With Macmillan’s backing and then Macmillan’s new big owner, and the choice of authors like Jordan, they eventually moved up to being the largest SFF imprint in the U.S. and sizable in the U.K and Australia.)

        Baen and Tor have regularly shared authors and a collegial business and financial relationship. The only reason the Sad Puppies started trashing Tor and trying to pretend they were Baen Books’ enemy was because Beale wanted them to because he hates the people at Tor. And because they got increasingly desperate to come up with logical reasons for why they were attacking other SFF authors and accusing them of crimes besides the fact that they hate industry improvements on equality on general principle and wanted award nominations.

        Baen Books offers bog standard royalty terms to authors on a license rights contract. They have smaller distributions than the big imprints for print and they don’t do as much publicity for their front list. They have an excellent backlist, some of which they put up for free to get people to buy reissues. Baen Books was hurt, like the rest of category SFF, by the collapse shrinkage of the wholesale market in the 1990s that was essential for mass market paperback sales, on which Baen particularly depended as a mainly mm paperback publisher. While some of that market has been replaced by e-books and pumping more hardcovers and trade paperbacks into bookstores, it’s still an issue for genre fiction. Baen is an established medium sized specialty publisher with a less global market than bigger imprints at conglomerates, as Tor became, but with still substantial presence because big conglomerate S&S distributes them. It is not a small press and it is not the same at all as self-publishing.

        The only thing that distinguishes Baen from the other main SFF houses in the U.S., besides being an independent publishing company — exactly like DAW Books is — is that they have slightly more conservative authors on their list than the other major imprints. This isn’t at all strange or was even necessarily a conscious choice, since Baen has from the beginning specialized in pulp-style sub-genres — military SF, alternate history and secondary world battle fantasy — three areas that tend to attract conservative writers as well as liberal ones.

        So these authors can keep trying to gloam on to the indie culture war myths to fuel their own political culture war myths, and I’m sure many of them are hybrids, but they look mainly just as much of a hangers on for that as Beale did with them.

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      4. Minor quibble: I wouldn’t say Beale was the only reason for the Baen/Tor rivalry spin.
        There had been a proto get-Baen-a-Hugo slate and a campaign for Jim Baen to get a posthumous Hugo for best editor – and then PNH won that category.
        Weisskopf in 2014 also wrote a post (at Hoyt or MGC, can’t recall & I’m on my phone) laying out a position on awards that was essentially pro-Puppy without stating Vote Puppy.
        Earlier John Ringo believed he was cheated out of a Campbell nomination and had nominations messed with by admin shenanigans.
        Larry C became embroiled in WorldCon via Baen and I’m confident given the extent to which he sees Ringo and Weisskopf as mentors that he would have been primed towards hostility & grievance towards a supposed Hugo establishment – which they already personified as the Nielsen Hayden’s.

        Brad, on the other hand, plus some other puppies had their own grievance against Scalzi due to unresolved emotions from losing arguments & being moderated in the comment section of Whatever. Seeing Scalzi as a personification of Tor was a natural step for their persecution complexes.

        VD validated those emotions and manipulated them but they were there anyway 🙂

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      5. Beale wasn’t the only reason for the Baen/Tor conspiracy nonsense, but he quite clearly directed it and suggested targets. He was the one who could bring them the Gamergigglers through his connections with Breibart, and so BT essentially kept taking a back seat to get those voters and his nomination like LC got, turning over the Sad Puppy slate to Beale. It does seem as if Weisskopf has some grievances with Doherty and others at Tor, but whatever the grumblings beforehand, the initial argument the Puppies made was not Baen vs. Tor but that liberal, elitist, literary, obscure and poor selling authors had taken over the Hugos in the past five years, then ten years, then fifteen years, bouncing out conservative adventure books and stories. Their main initial target was Jemisin, who is published by Orbit Books not Tor, and who Beale absolutely detested and kept racially attacking, which got him bounced out of SFWA for using their official Twitter feed to do so.

        This argument got some sympathy from conservative and conservative-leaning libertarian authors and others in fandom, because SFF still has a big bigotry issue and is getting nervous that non-white writers are getting a bit more than ten percent of the market and that women authors keep bringing up discrimination issues they want gone. This is all then characterized as being out to get them because apparently we really need a field which is 80% white authors and women authors having to accept things like sexist harassment discrimination from men authors at conventions. But the problem they had was that the Best Novel nominees for the Hugos were bestsellers and category bestsellers — not obscure, not poor-selling and mostly not considered literary by the outside world. This is a regular thing for the Hugos. And many of the authors nominated in the short fiction categories are also best-selling, well known authors. So the claim was clearly complete nonsense. The main change was that more of the nominees were women and more of them were writers of color than before. Not a lot more, just some, and people had the nerve to be glad about that.

        So then they started the truly bizarre campaign to claim that A) some of those authors’ sales status was false, plus their books/stories were bad — not literary enough, the opposite of what they said before; and B) that some of the authors had clearly rigged the vote, without a shred of evidence to support the claim. (What was that system that Jessica brought up? Oh right, DARVO.)

        And that’s when they went after Scalzi, because Scalzi backed the other authors, claiming that Red Shirts wasn’t literary or SF enough and that Tor propped up Scalzi’s bestseller status, as if book publishing is Hollywood. I was on Whatever regularly and had plenty of discussions that involved BT, (I find it more difficult to do now, since it’s less active and has a short reply window. Plus I had a stalker there.) He did stomp off, but his upset with Scalzi is nothing near Beale’s who has always wanted to be Moriarity to Scalzi’s supposed Holmes. Beale banged the drum that Scalzi’s sales were false and faked by Tor long before the Puppies existed. They essentially just repeated Beale’s arguments. Beale also absolutely detests the Nielsen-Haydens, whom he blames for many things, so with him leading the charge, it did not surprise me at all when the Puppies then switched from the a cabal of authors (with disparate publishers,) is rigging the vote line, which didn’t work, to Tor is rigging the vote and liberalizing SFF in opposition to virtuous Baen, etc.

        But Beale doesn’t like Baen either that much, and the Tor vs. Baen thing didn’t really work. So eventually they got into the indies against publishers, which again were arguments that Beale has been slinging for quite awhile. BT isn’t an indie author, but Beale has been and has made common cause with many of them. Again, I don’t mean to paint Beale as a Svengali or mastermind, or the sort of thing that I guess Beale likes to call himself. He did just simply take advantage, again because he was the connection to get the Gamergigglers for votes. But the whole line of arguments that the Sad Puppies floated went step by step along Beales’ big gripes and with the people he’s most known for detesting in SFF. The regular confusion of lesser Puppies in thinking that the SFWA ran the Hugos and WorldCon definitely came from Beale’s rants about SFWA, making them a target in the campaigns.

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      6. The Sad Pups were so adamant in their hatred of Tor that they used their slate to nominate Kevin J. Anderson, Ed Lerner, Michael Flynn, and John C. Wright, all of whom were published by Tor.

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  3. I did wonder when the Mad Geniuses were going to weigh in (not curious enough to go check the site though!) as the indie angle is one of their Things.
    IIRC the indie angle to SP was one of the post-facto justifications that they seized upon, and as you say their trad pub backgrounds made it a bit of an uncomfortable one for them to push – much special pleading for Baen and so on. (In fact, I think I remember Dave getting very offended that I dared to list all their trad pub books – intrusions of facts often offend Dave though)

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      1. Dude, you should be checking the Mad Gebius Club (TM) site. It’s much more up to the minute AND intellectually stimulating.

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      1. Interestingly, he’s dropped the “Blue-Collar Fiction” branding angle. Apparently it wasn’t working for him.

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    1. @Cora:

      Plucky indie author Brad Torgersen also has a new book out. From Baen.

      I always say, irony is still your best entertainment value (next only to Usenet kooks).

      The revisionism is rather stunning, but (and I know I’ve said this before, sorry) I keep wondering when this lot are going to remember that imaginary self-assigned victimhood isn’t even dignified, let alone compelling. I keep being surprised at grown adults lacking enough self-respect to eschew the eyeroll-inspiring ‘Help, help, I’m being repressed!’ shtick.

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      1. But please remember that Eric Idle was, in fact, being repressed in that scene.

        Hah! But, wait, that was in a movie, so it wasn’t Actual Repression.

        But he was playing a peasant, so maybe that’s a representation of real repression, and thus should be taken as a sign of support for the ‘little guy’.

        But Idle was a TV star at the time, so is it a valid sign of support?

        I’m just getting confused here, so I’ll stop.

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