[A tad NSFW…so more after the fold]
Chuck Tingle: The man, the legend, the taekwondo instructor. I’ve not dwelt much on the characters of the authors of these stories but with Chuck it is hard to seperate where the fiction ends and the man begins. This after all is a man who ended up in a whole set of recursively titled erotic novels in which he has sex with the anthropomorphised reality of one of his own books about having gay sex with very handsome and well-toned versions of increasingly abstract things.
Chuck though is central to this story but to get to his place in events, I need to double back to 2013…
Amazon had created a new world of ebooks and ebook consumers with its Kindle device in 2007. With a handy way of buying and consuming ebooks, the world of publishing was utterly changed. Further, the relative ease with which an author could format and distribute an ebook and get paid for doing so had ushered in a new wave of self-publishing. This led very quickly to a crowded market of often sub-par works but also, online libraries of ebooks made it possible to define and find increasingly niche categories of works.
Inevitably, vast quantities of these books were porn.
By 2013 there was something of a mini-moral panic about the very specific kinds of sexual fantasies that were being catered too. The wider aspects of that are beyond the scope of this project but one niche that received public attention was monster porn.
“… part of a burgeoning literary genre that’s found a wide audience online: monster porn, otherwise known as “cryptozoological erotica,” or as some of the authors prefer to call it, “erotic horror.” Their self-published books feature mythical creatures of every possible variety, from minotaurs to mermen, cthulhus to leprechauns, extraterrestrials to cyclops, who become involved in sexual trysts, often non-consensual, with human lovers. They have titles that are often more silly than sexy — from Demons Love Arse, part of Trisha Danes’ “Beasts & Booty” collection, to Frankenstein’s Bitch and Sex With My Husband’s Anatomically Correct Robot — and the plots are never less than imaginative. A feline shapeshifter might be saved from a tree by a firefighter with a cat fetish (as in the ebook Out on a Limb), or a buxom cattle rancher might be abducted and kept enslaved “in a strange, perverted alien zoo” (Milked by the Aliens).”MONSTER PORN: Amazon’s Crackdown On America’s Latest Sex Fantasy by Eric Spitznagel Dec 22, 2013, 12:00 AM https://www.businessinsider.com.au/monster-porn-amazon-crackdown-sex-fantasy-bigfoot-2013-12?r=US&IR=T
Ebook markets began cracking down on the amount of porn they had for sale and crypto-porn was one of the targets partly because it was regarded as bestiality. Eventually some degree of balance was struck with Amazon still keen on the sales money they received from these works but still concerned that they didn’t want to become too notorious for weird cryptozoological sex fantasies.
Late in 2014 a new author began adding to Amazon’s vast stores of oddly themed erotica. Called Chuck Tingle his first work was entitled “My Billionaire Triceratops Craves Gay Ass” and features a shirtless young man on the cover with a triceratops in a top hat peeking out shyly behind him. The Amazon summary describes the plot:
“Jeremy was never quite sure about his feelings for Oliver, his gay pet dinosaur, until Oliver scores big and leaves home to pursue his dreams of being a dancer.https://www.amazon.com.au/Billionaire-Triceratops-Craves-Gay-Ass-ebook/dp/B00QTTIJVI
Years later, the two of them reconnect for dinner in New York City, and realize that there may have been more to their relationship besides prehistoric pet and master. Now a wealthy socialite, Oliver the triceratops is willing to take another chance on Jeremy, and soon the two find themselves locked in a passionate evening of gay human-dino love.”
His catalogue of short books would continue featuring handsome men ‘pounded in the butt’ by various things such as unicorns, dinosaurs and bigfoot but later things of topical interest such as ‘Pounded by the Gay Color Changing Dress’ (“Just when Kent is certain that he’ll never find the best of both worlds, he meets Channing, a living gay dress who is famous online for appearing black and blue to some, and gold and white to others.”) and the unfeasibly titled “Pharma Bro Pounded in the Butt by T-Rex Comedian Bill Murky and a Clan of Triceratops Rappers Trying to Get Their Album Back”. Chuck was not just writing obscure niche erotica but creating whole new categories of obscure niche erotica as a means of commenting on current affairs and popular culture.
Chuck’s increasingly hilarious titles became a talking point in online culture. This included fannish circles such as the notable (and multi-Hugo Award winning) fanzine/blog File 770. In 2015, Mike Glyer’s indomitable fanzine had become something of a clearing house, news room and townhall for all matters relating to the Sad Puppy campaigns and those opposing them. Amid the long running discussions in the comment sections, jokes about Chuck Tingle’s stories had become a recurring topic.
When last we visited the Sad Puppies in this project they were getting very angry about “If You Were a Dinosaur My Love” winning a Nebula Award in 2014. By 2015 things had got a lot angrier. Now helmed by Brad Torgersen (a friend of Larry Correia), the Sad Puppies had put together a comprehensive slate of works and were encouraging people who supported their movement to buy supporting memberships of Worldcon and nominate works. Vox Day had formed his own closely related movement which he called ‘Rabid Puppies’. He co-opted Brad’s slate and added some additional works so that in many categories all the slots would be filled.
In April the dog-poo hit the fans. The combined voting power of the Sad and Rabid Puppies had led to a huge number of finalists coming from the two slates. In some categories all five of the finalists were works nominated by Puppies. The resulting storm was enormous.
But…that’s a story for another time. The short version is that fans mobilised and voted Sad Puppy finalists below ‘No Award’ almost across the board. In some cases this meant no Hugo was awarded in some categories in 2015.
The Sad Puppies were disconsolate and for this story we can say farewell to them. However, Vox Day and his Rabid Puppies were motivated more by revenge than a desire for rocket trophies and Day vowed to return in 2016 to cause more mayhem against his perceived enemies.
But what to nominate? In 2015 most of the hard work had been done by the Sad Puppies. Day did have his own publishing company, so he had numerous books he could promote with this controversy but not enough to fill out a substantial slate for 2016 nominations. He decided to fill out some slots with hostage nominees: works other Hugo voters might vote for but which they might reject if they were associated with him or with authors who might feel they have to withdraw having been nominated by Vox Day. The objective was to sow confusion.
A third category of works he picked would be works that were simply there to troll, embarrass and upset Worldcon members. One such was a parody of “If You Were a Dinosaur My Love” written by two of Vox Day’s fans. The exact thought process of Day is unknown but I know that he was regularly reading File 770 in 2015 (to see what his critics were saying about him) and had almost certainly come across the existence of Chuck Tingle there. For Vox Day “Space Raptor Butt Invasion” must have seemed a perfect choice: technically science fiction and a handy way to show his derision at the supposed tendency for Hugo voters to nominate “dinosaur porn”.
When the 2016 Hugo Award nominees were announced, Day’s slate had had less impact than the Puppy slate of 2015 but many of the works he had picked were finalists including Chuck Tingle’s “Space Raptor Butt Invasion”.
Which is how multiple cultural trends of the mid 2010s (ebooks, niche online erotica, culture wars and the alt-right) all came together in the 2016 Hugo Awards…
Space Raptor Butt Invasion describes itself thusly:
“Space can be a lonely place, especially when you’re stationed by yourself on the distant planet Zorbus. In fact, Lance isn’t quite sure that can last the whole year before his shuttle pod arrives, but when a mysterious visitor appears at Lance’s terraforming station, he quickly realizes that he might not be so alone after all. Soon enough, Lance becomes close with this mysterious new astronaut, a velociraptor. Together, they form an unlikely duo, which quickly begins to cross the boundaries of friendship into something much, much more sensual. It’s not gay if it’s a man and a dinosaur, is it?”https://www.amazon.com.au/Space-Raptor-Invasion-Chuck-Tingle-ebook/dp/B00S4B95RQ
You could read it or you can watch Mark Oshiro read the whole thing:
Chuck reacted to his win in this way:
“Got an email from some hot shot big timer said “hey Chuck we’ve got an award for you you want it?” I said “yes.” They said “Well okay Chuck here you go.” So thats how it happened it was a good day. Son even took me out for a big spaghetti dinner and I didn’t even spill, got two plates and a big glass of chocolate milk that’s the way the cookie crumbles.”https://www.inverse.com/article/14881-is-chuck-tingle-and-his-hugo-nominated-dinosaur-erotica-a-sad-puppies-plant
And when asked about the Puppy campaigns replied:
“Don’t know about any puppies but it’s BAD NEWS BEARS if you want to disrupt awards. That is a scoundrel tactic and probably part of Ted Cobbler’s devilman plan. Ted Cobbler is notorious devil and has been seen using dark magic to control puppies around the neighborhood. I do not support the devilman agenda but i think that Space Raptor Butt Invasion proves that LOVE IS REAL and no scoundrels can stop that. Especially not some dumb dogs.”https://www.inverse.com/article/14881-is-chuck-tingle-and-his-hugo-nominated-dinosaur-erotica-a-sad-puppies-plant
Even so with him resolutely not withdrawing and having gained a nomination via Vox Day’s machinations, many people naturally viewed him with suspicion. Hugo finalist (and later 2016 Hugo winner) N.K.Jemisin suggested Tingle should withdraw. Another piece at Inverse covering Tingle’s nomination interviewed notable science fiction authors John Scalzi, Chuck Wendig:
“N.K. Jemisin, who earned a Best Novel nod for The Fifth Season this year, told Inverse that Chuck Tingle would do well to use his fifteen minutes of fame in a positive way.https://www.inverse.com/article/14958-john-scalzi-n-k-jemisin-and-chuck-wendig-talk-the-2016-hugos-and-chuck-tingle
“Satire is funniest when it punches up,” Jemisin said. “If [Chuck Tingle] doesn’t like being turned into a tool by a homophobe (and misogynist, and racist, and…), then CT’s got lots of power to fight back right now. CT fighting back and/or refusing to let themselves be used in this manner would be positive because it would remind everyone that the Hugo platform is powerful, and haters abuse it at their peril.”
“Writers who stand against bigotry get a lot of respect in this genre. Chuck Tingle vs. the Rabid Puppies would be a glorious thing to see,” Jemisin says. “
Whether Tingle planned to all along or whether he was influenced by Jemisin, I don’t know but he chose a path.
The ongoing humour and active trolling of Vox ‘devilman’ Day began to win over many people. Tingle’s Twitter account was itself a complex science fictional work with uncanny events, reverse twins, dark forces and parallel dimensions. It was the kind of weird, funny and absurd material that had always been popular in one form or another in fannish circles.
Of course the nomination also was worked into the Tingle’s growing list of titles with the release of “Slammed in the Butt by my own Hugo Nomination”
“When Tuck Bingle receives and email explaining that he’s been nominated for science fiction literature’s most prestigious award, he’s left utterly confused. On one hand, Tuck is a successful writer of gay, science fiction erotic, but on the other, this email is addressed to someone by the name of Chuck Tingle.
Tuck replies, but his message is not delivered because the recipient exists in another layer of The Tingleverse, a revelation that will take Tuck on a journey into the deepest realms of his butt’s heart.
Soon, Tuck is breaking fourth-walls and anal limits, pounded hard by a handsome sentient Hugo Award nomination named Kelpo and learning the true meaning of homoerotic love!”
To further confuse Day, Chuck Tingle announced that if he did win a Hugo Award it would be accepted on his behalf by Zoe Quinn. Quinn as a computer game developer who had been subjected to systematic harassment by the right wing culture war movement known as GamerGate. Vox Day had regarded himself as a leader of Gamergate and Larry Correia had been a supporter of the movement.
Tingle grabbed the spotlight and media attention with a repeated message of love and togetherness. The absurdity of the nomination instead of bringing the Hugo Awards in to disrepute made the conflict just a bit more weird and interesting. Tingle’s humour helped undermine the Rabid Puppy framing of the conflict over the Hugo Award and effectively reversed the impact of the ‘joke’ nomination. Playing a far more adept and good humoured game of trolling than Vox, Tingle out-trolled the troll.
This did not stop Chuck losing to No Award, a fact that he took in good stride and used as yet another book title: “Pounded in the Butt by My Hugo Award Loss”
I’ll conclude with Chuck’s own words on dinosaurs:
Well first things first, dinosaurs are very handsome that’s just a fact, goofball. We all know T-rex are bad boys with nice ways probably say “hey buddy wanna ride on this motorcycle maybe come kiss in a DANGEROUS way?” So when I was younger in HOME OF TRUTH UTAH, I wrote stories about dinosaurs made me feel kind of weird. But I hid them under the floor and they got burned up in the big fire. Then I went to billings and didn’t think about dinosaurs for a long time until my handsome son said to write (very cool, has such a COOL style like a movie star or TOM HANKS). Now it’s all good days as a big time author.https://www.inverse.com/article/14881-is-chuck-tingle-and-his-hugo-nominated-dinosaur-erotica-a-sad-puppies-plant
Next time: Our puppy three parter ends with more shenanigans and an alien stripper.