Debarkle Chapter 16: Larry Goes to Reno

2011 was already starting to be a good year for Larry Correia. Early in January his 2010 book Monster Hunter Vendetta was number 5 on the Locus Bestseller list for paperbacks[1]. A week later, he posted on his blog a suggestion for his fans:

“The Hugo Awards are fan based awards given out at each WorldCon. Only people that have attended the prior WorldCon or bought a membership to the current WorldCon can nominate. However this year WorldCon is in Reno, so I know a bunch of folks that read this blog are attending, and if you are, you need to vote! If you aren’t going, but you want to vote/nominate, then you can buy a supporting membership for like $50.

You need to get your nominations in quickly. They are due by January 31st. The information is at the link above.

You can nominate up to 5 things for each category. I’m not telling you how to vote, but this is what I’m voting for. I think that all of these things are deserving of an award, and even getting nominated makes you look cool. I fully do not expect to win, because not even a single robot is raped during the events of MHI or MHV, but getting nominated would be neat and that actually doesn’t take too many votes.”

https://www.monsterhunternation.com/2011/01/14/hugo-awards-it-is-time-to-get-your-nominations-in-and-yes-im-eligable/ [2]

Baen Books also listed Monster Hunter Vendetta in their Facebook post of eligible works[3]. However, Correia’s main hope was not a Hugo Award per se but the Astounding Award for Best Newcomer — the “not a Hugo” administered alongside the main awards, which at that time was called the Campbell Award.

John W. Campbell Award:  Larry Correia – debut novel: “Monster Hunter International” (2009) and sequel: “Monster Hunter Vendetta” (2010) from Baen – This one is for best new author that has come out in the last two years. And yes, I’m an egotist. But come on, I am pretty awesome.”

ibid

Correia also recommended two other authors for the Astounding Award, John D. Brown[4] and Dan Wells[5] both published by Tor and both Mormons from Utah. For other categories, Larry suggested other Baen authors and editors such as Sarah Hoyt, Michael Z Williamson and Toni Weisskpof, as well as fellow Utah writers Brad Torgersen & Eric James Stone for Best Short Story, Howard Tayler for Best Graphic Story, as well as the podcast of Brandon Sanderson, Wells and Tayler for Best Related Work[8].

When the Hugo finalists were announced in April of that year, Correia was (rightfully) delighted:

“Thank you very much to all of you that nominated me, and I’m especially thankful for all of the Barflies. You guys are awesome.”

https://www.monsterhunternation.com/2011/04/25/i-am-a-campbell-award-finalist/ [9]

Larry was also delighted by some of the other finalists:

“I’ve got several more friends among the other category’s nominees. Eric James Stone in Best Novelette, Mary Robinette Kowal in Best Short, Writing Excuses for Related Work, and Howard Tayler for Best Graphic Story.”

ibid

Although he didn’t mention in either this post or the earlier one, the most high-profile Baen finalist: Lois McMaster Bujold’s Cryoburn[10].

The Astounding Award finalists do not typically get as much attention as the finalists for Best Novel. In early January (so unlikely to be related to any nomination), the website of the influential EscapePod podcast had published a negative review of Monster Hunter International, saying:

“I don’t have space to cover all the flaws in this book, so I’ll just hit the highlights. Because it was self-published and only later picked up by Baen, Monster Hunter International shows no sign of an editor’s pen. The characters are flat. The prose is stale and repetitive. The plot reads like something intended for a weekend of tabletop gaming, complete with prophetic visions from the storyteller to keep the protagonists on track.”

https://escapepod.org/2011/01/16/review-monster-hunter-international-by-larry-correia/ [11]

Later in the year, Nicholas Whyte reviewed the novel provided in the 2011 ‘Hugo Packet’[12]. Whyte’s description of Monster Hunter International was not positive:

“I do have little hesitation in putting Monster Hunter International last. It is relentlessly single-tone, derivative and predictable, and I can’t see how anyone could rank it above any of the other works included in the package. To an extent the John W. Campbell Award is about the future of the genre; books like this take us way back to the past, with the incidentals slightly jazzed up for the twenty-first century, and I think it would be embarrassing for the genre if Correia won on the basis of this.”

https://nwhyte.livejournal.com/1781669.html

In his ranking of the finalists, Whyte put Correia last and below ‘No Award’.

In later years, Correia would recount that either a “European snob reviewer” or a “British blogger” wrote either that “If Larry Correia wins the Campbell, it will END WRITING FOREVER” or that if Larry Correia wins the Campbell it will end literature forever”. I have searched for reviews saying these things but have not found them [13]. It is likely that Correia had read Whyte’s review as he would note:

“The other day when I was googling my name I found one place that ranked the Campbell nominees. They placed me at #6. Out of 5. 🙂 Apparently I wasn’t “nuanced” enough for them. Or as they said, I was a relentlessly single tone throw back. Oh, how the literati elite hate me.”

https://monsterhunternation.com/2011/07/23/alpha-reviews-and-john-brown-says-why-i-am-awesome/

And closer to the convention he would increase the number of people rating him sixth:

“I am the least favored to win by the literary critical types, (in fact, I’ve seen a few places where they have ranked me #6 out of the 5 finalists) but that’s cool, because I am the only author eligible that has had a gnome fight or trailer park elves. (or as one critic pointed out, I am a relentlessly single tone throw back, and another said that if I win it is an insult and a black mark on the entire field of writing.) SWEET!  I’m so unabashadly pulpy and just happy to entertain, and thus offensive, that I make the inteligensia weep bitter blood tears of rage.”

https://monsterhunternation.com/2011/08/13/my-worldcon-schedule-and-running-commentary/

Worldcon shifting location every year is one of the distinctive features of the convention. The UK based Worldcons have seen an improved representation of British authors. The proximity of Reno to Utah also may have helped several Utah writers (Eric James Stone, Howard Tayler, Dan Wells, Brandon Sanderson and Larry Correia) chances on the nomination ballot. The popularity of the ‘Writing Excuses’ podcast helmed by Sanderson, Wells, and Tayler would also have contributed. This is not to dismiss the relative talent of these finalists but just to acknowledge the complex dynamics of the Hugo Awards.

The 2011 Hugo Awards had the common characteristic of the old and the new. The headline Best Novel category had a gender split of four women and one man[14]. Among the finalists, Connie Willis and Lois McMaster Bujold were long-time Hugo favourites, whereas Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire) and N.K.Jemisin were relative newcomers. In the end, voters chose Connie Willis’s dual novels Blackout/All Clear, which by definition was a popular choice but was not well received by everybody. Fan-writer Abigail Nussbaum responded to the win by saying:

“In other words, Blackout/All Clear‘s win not only rewards bad writing, it rewards cultural appropriation and exploitative business practices.  It definitely has my vote for the worst best novel Hugo choice ever.”

http://wrongquestions.blogspot.com/2011/08/2011-hugo-awards-winners.html [15]

Larry Correia attended Worldcon in person with his writing friend Brad Torgersen. At the time, he reported a largely positive experience at the convention, aside from the hot weather.

“The Con itself was pretty interesting. This was my first WorldCon. There was a ton of fan stuff on the many panels, but not a real strong writing track. Sure, there were plenty of panels about writing, but it seemed like most of that time was spent on defining terms and genre “rules” as opposed to anything useful to the aspiring writers in the audience, like business or creative advice. There was a very distinct divide between what I’ll call the academic writers and the commercial writers. (yeah, you get one guess where I fall in that continuum). I participated in a few panels and observed a bunch of others, but that topic needs its own blog post.”

https://monsterhunternation.com/2011/08/23/worldcon-report/

Several years later, Correia would add an addendum to the post saying that his experience was not as pleasant as his 2011 post depicted.

“In 2011 I was still under the impression that I could be nice and keep my head down and play along and maybe eventually they would accept me. I was a new guy. All of my peers and friends in the industry told me to only talk about the positives, smile, and not say anything. I was afraid that if I talked about the negatives, it would be bad for my career.

So in this post I left out the negatives and only talked about the positives. It was at that birthday party that I was pissed off and ranting, but Toni Weisskopf talked me down from saying anything. 

Brad was my roommate, and I vented to him about assholes trying to pick fights, and he warned me off of being anything but nice, and gracious too. Wow, have times changed. “

EDIT-4/10/2015 to the above post

At the time Brad Torgersen also reported the con as a positive experience and stated he was keen to attend the following year:

“Next year is Chicon 7, which I am 98.7% likely to attend. Both because of the potential for my name to be on the Campbell short list, and because Mike Resnick is the Guest-Of-Honor. You don’t say thanks to your Writer Dad by being a no-show at his GOH WorldCon in his own back yard — Mike lives in Cincinnati. So, barring a disaster, I will be on-deck for next year’s WorldCon. I deliberately played spectator this time, because I was new to the experience. Next year? I’ll be more actively structuring my time, to include putting my name in for panels and other events. After my cover story comes out this December, with the beautiful Bob Eggleton painting that was displayed in Reno, I think any lingering questions about my street cred can be laid to rest.”

https://web.archive.org/web/20110831211956/http://bradrtorgersen.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/whirlkon-report-wrap-up/

Brad’s multiple convention reports [16] portray a convention in which Brad was able to widely network with many fans and authors broadly sympathetic to his genre stance or at a minimum, sociable. The convention program[17] show (rather like the Hugo finalists) a mix of the old and the new. That program included a two-hour session by the SIGMA panel. SIGMA was the think tank of science fiction authors that consulted with the US Department of Homeland Security on potential threats and responses[18] and which was a kind of heir to (and shared many of the same authors as) Jerry Pournelle’s Citizen’s Advisory Council on National Space Policy[19]. The convention also had a significant presence from Baen Books as well as from Brad Torgersen’s publisher at the time Analog Magazine and (as both Correia and Torgersen had noted) a major presence of authors from Utah. Major guests included the fantasy artist par-excellence Boris Vallejo[20] and comic book author/artist Bill Willingham whose Fables series as well as being a critical and commercial success, also reflected Willingham’s right-leaning views[21]. In short, it was a convention that had a lot to offer for a science fiction fan with right of centre views and this was reflected in the accounts of Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen at the time[22].

What is also notable is an absence. By 2011 it was difficult to leave no trace of widespread discussion on the Internet. It is true that issues with some platforms (such as LiveJournal) with deleted accounts can make it hard to follow the full back-and-forth of a discussion as it happened[23] but the opposite is also true — it is next to impossible to erase a discussion altogether. Trawling through LiveJournal or web-searches, in general, provide almost nothing in terms of negative reviews or criticism of Larry Correia in 2011. There may be examples that have since been deleted but we can say with confidence that Correia’s Astounding Award nomination did not result in a large or visible backlash within fandom. If anything, it was largely ignored[24].

By December, Correia was thinking about the Hugo Awards again and described:

“And while I’m thinking about it, if you’ve read Hard Magic and you are a WorldCon member or attendee, you should think about nominating it for the Hugo. I’m just saying… First off, it is actually really good and very original, and second, and far more importantly, the literati hoighty-toighty absolutely hate my guts, I’ll always just be an action-pulp-right wing-gun guy to them, and if I get nominated again their heads will explode. You have no idea how much joy I got from the reviews last year that talked about how if I won it would “end literature forever”.”

https://www.monsterhunternation.com/2011/12/18/random-updates-and-fun-with-internet-critics/

Whatever critics might say about Larry Correia, he has the natural disposition of a novelist and we can read drafts and re-drafts of the story about the time he was an Astounding Award finalist. A truer assessment at the time may have been that the “literati hoighty-toighty” were not paying any attention to Larry Correia. That would change and it would be Correia who would change it.

Next Time: Misogyny, the “socio-sexual hierarchy” and a long running feud. Vox Day versus John Scalzi.


Footnotes

160 thoughts on “Debarkle Chapter 16: Larry Goes to Reno

    1. I really think so. I know I’d dug into the “end writing forever” line before but I really thought if I kept digging I’d find a kind of super-villain moment for Larry in 2011 around Worldcon.

      There is no ‘there’ there.

      So hypothesis B: that was the issue and that fits a lot closer with a lot of people’s experience with their first run as a finalist. It’s big, it’s huge, it’s…also sort of an anticlimax or an impostor-syndrome moment or both.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. The real problem with Larry’s account on, well anything, but especially about the Reno convention and his nomination for the Astounding Award is that Larry now has a well-documented track record as a lying sack of shit, so basically everything he says about anything is suspect. The whole “Toni talked me down” and “assholes trying to pick fights” with him is a story I simply won’t take seriously.

        Larry lies. it is what he does. Nothing he ever writes can be taken as accurate.

        Liked by 4 people

      2. Some of the Puppies would later write about how disappointed they were that that con didn’t put itself out to welcome them, despite the fact that they were Hugo nominees. As far as I know, their expectations were extremely high — I mean, there are parties and a photograph session and things like that, but they seemed to have wanted a staff member to stay with them at all times and marvel at their brilliance, and point them out to other con members who failed to understand that they were in the presence of greatness. I think it must have been an anticlimax for Larry, and it seemed to have festered for months until he finally couldn’t take it any more.

        Liked by 4 people

      3. I remember when the 2011 Hugo finalists were announced, my reaction to seeing Larry Correia and Dan Wells on what was then the Campbell ballot was, “Who the hell are these guys?” (I did know who Lauren Beukes, Lev Grossman and Saladin Ahmed were). So I googled them and thought, “Huh, those books don’t sound like the sort of thing Hugo voters normally go for. But oh, they’re both from Utah and Worldcon is in Reno, so they’re probably hugely popular local authors who go to every con there, so everybody knows them.” And that was all I thought about Larry Correia (and Dan Wells), until I stumbled upon his original Worldcon report, which even before the later alterations sounded like sour grapes to me. After all, it was pretty obvious to everybody except possibly Larry that Larry didn’t have a chance in hell of winning and that Lev Grossman was the clear frontrunner.

        Liked by 3 people

      4. I think that’s really the root of it. There was obviously a concerted effort amongst the Mormons to get a bunch of writers onto the ballot in 2011 and 2012 (the only possible explanation for The Space Whale Rape Story), and I think part of it was because they (like the later iterations of Puppies) weren’t really familiar with Worldcon or the Hugo Awards except as a badge on books they’d read, and thought that getting the big award nominations would turn them into Best-Selling Famous Authors Who Have A Great Fuss Made Of Them At Worldcon.

        Instead, most of the people at Worldcon wouldn’t have any idea who the Astounding-nominated authors are, and that was probably a bewildering and demoralizing realization for them.

        Liked by 4 people

      5. I actually looked up my blogpost about the 2011 Hugo winners and remarked about the Mormon space whale story that I’d read it to see what all the fuzz was about and found it very old-fashioned, like a 1960s Star Trek episode with bonus Mormonism, though not the worst SFF story ever, as someone had called it at the time. Not a single word on Correia at all.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. How odd, to apologize for being positive and polite when meeting new people in one’s business.
    Other than that, Is LC the first to focus on trolling the libs? It’s SOP in the right wing now.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The ‘cultural appropriation’ was in reference to how Willis (an American) dealt with British WW2 history.
    I realize this is completely off-topic, so I offer a preemptive apology for the derail, but if that counts as ‘cultural appropriation’ then we’re going to end up with autofiction as the only acceptable genre.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Well, the quote is from Abigail Nussbaum, who isn’t British.

        I think in context it’s pretty clear what she meant: not that Willis was wrong to write about England, but that it was done very carelessly and/or disrespectfully, in much the same way that Western writers often do when using non-Western cultures as fictional raw material, and that she felt that sort of thing shouldn’t be rewarded in general, regardless of whether you think the British deserve it. Nussbaum referenced this piece which didn’t use the phrase “cultural appropriation” but complained about a “theme park” approach to historical fiction, quoting Willis saying some (IMO) pretty tone-deaf things that did indeed make her sound like she’d approached this with a touristy attitude.

        I haven’t read the books so have no idea if that’s fair, but be that as it may, Nussbaum was not saying that anything was being “stolen” or that people can only write from their own personal experience.

        Liked by 5 people

      2. Stina Lecht wrote a fantasy set in modern Ireland a few years ago and while I gather it got good reviews here, a couple of Irish reviewers ripped it up and down for errors.

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      3. To be clear, I know you’re aware of the above since you cited Nussbaum and provided a link to the context. It’s was just the “I don’t think *we* get to complain” part that seemed odd to me, and the rest of my comment was context for PhilRM.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I intensely disliked Blackout/All Clear and remember being annoyed that the worst book on the ballot won. Connie Willis also said some stunningly clueless things at the time along the lines of “Oh, WWII in London must have been so exciting, the thrill of those bombing raids…” I grew up with stories about WWII bombings. For me, war equals bomings of civilians and those bombings are pretty much the most horrible thing imaginable, so I found Willis’ remarks extremely offensive. I’m clearly not the only one and I recall that a lot of European fans disliked Blackout/All Clear, but the US fans apparently liked the theme park approach to recent history.

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      5. @Eli: yes, I got all that. What bothers me is using the term ‘cultural appropriation’ to complain about an American’s sloppy historical research when writing about England, which to me risks diluting the term to meaninglessness.

        For the record, I have no idea how fair the criticisms are, either, since I also haven’t read them; they sound terrible.

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      6. @PhilRM: I get what you’re saying, but I just don’t think there’s much point in critiquing those two words entirely outside of the context in which they were used.

        Nussbaum and others weren’t complaining that an American writer was wrongly appropriating English cultural ideas in general and that American writers should stick to writing about America, or anything remotely like that. They were saying that this particular work, in their opinion, went so far beyond the typical “there are wrong facts in this historical fiction” scenario that it was reminiscent of how badly Western writers often handle cultures that they think are cool but don’t take seriously enough to treat as more than a flavor. The fact that “cultural appropriation” isn’t a term one often hears in regard to these two particular closely related countries is part of the point: they’re saying Willis is so bad at this that she’s treating even England as an exotic locale that her readers surely won’t know anything about.

        I can’t by any stretch of the imagination see that kind of statement as somehow forcing us to “end up with autofiction as the only acceptable genre.” If someone else follows on from their interpretation of Nussbaum to actually argue that Americans shouldn’t ever write about England, then you can bring that up with them. But no one has, probably because Nussbaum made it pretty clear what she was using that as a shorthand for, and provided links to extensive context in case it wasn’t clear enough.

        Liked by 2 people

      7. @Eli: Nussbaum and others weren’t complaining that an American writer was wrongly appropriating English cultural ideas in general and that American writers should stick to writing about America, or anything remotely like that.

        Which is not a claim I made. And I’m not criticizing Nussbaum’s use of the term outside of the context in which she used it, I’m criticizing it specifically in the context she used it.

        But I fear we’re dragging this comment thread even further afield.

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      8. The factual mistakes in many of Connie Willis’ novels set in the UK are quite notable. In another story, not Blackout/All Clear, she has someone take the tube to get from London to Oxford, which is a basic research mistake that two of googling or a look into an atlas could have cleared up.

        Also WWII is still within living memory, if only just. Treating experiences that were traumatic to millions of people (most people still alive who remember WWII were children and teenagers at the time and badly traumatised by bombings, etc…) as some kind of historical theme park is going to be offensive to many people. And since the US was barely affected by WWII bombings, I think a lot of Americans have no idea how traumatic those bombings were for those who experienced them. For me, the first thing I associate with WWII is bombings.

        And no, it’s not cultural appropriation. It’s a mix of research errors and using other people’s traumatic history (which is still within living memory) as a background for your cool adventure story. Blackout/All Clear is far from the only offender, there are many others. I usually react badly to them, even if it’s not my history that’s being abused.

        Liked by 2 people

      9. The “Tube” from London to Oxford isn’t a research failure. The main coach service between London and Oxford is called the Oxford Tube and people in Oxford will say they’re getting the Tube to London.

        Anyone who doesn’t spend a lot of time in Oxford will be confused.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. I think when I reviewed the books at the time, my description was along the lines of “this is roughly as inaccurate and offensive as if a British writer had written a book about how brave the survivors of the World Trade Centre in Los Angeles, Texas, were when Timothy McVeigh blew it up on September 10, and it’s just lucky nobody got hurt”.
        I’m not somebody who particularly takes offence at British stereotypes in American fiction, but the combination of every single cliche about British people, the unthinking regurgitation of every bit of mythological glurge about the Blitz spirit, and the sheer level of research fail (off the top of my head, including things like British characters talking about “Manchester, in the Midlands”, using the Jubilee Line in World War II, a huge plot point turning on the title of the Agatha Christie novel “Murder on the Calais Train” — or, as it was titled in the UK, “Murder on the Orient Express”, and at one point clearly using a Wikipedia map of Manchester city centre, thinking it was the whole city, and naming two streets about two hundred yards from each other as “all the way across the city”) caused me to get seriously angry at the contempt in which Willis holds the British people. While the fact that the plot depends on a historian at Oxford University, specialising in the history of World War II, not recognising the name “Bletchley Park”, made me even angrier at the contempt in which she holds all readers and the craft of writing.
        Abigail Nussbaum’s description of the books as the worst “best novel” winner ever is only inaccurate in that it doesn’t go far enough. They are literally the worst books I’ve ever read.

        Liked by 3 people

      11. Your review was very entertaining. I was going to quote it but I decided I was wandering to far off topic from the Puppies. So apologies for relegating it to a footnote 🙂

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      12. @PhilRM, I don’t want to drag this out either and won’t pursue it other than to say that if you weren’t making any claim like that, then I have no idea what you could’ve possibly meant by “we’re going to end up with autofiction as the only acceptable genre” and so probably none of my responses were relevant.

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      13. Heh. I’d missed that you’d linked my review, otherwise I wouldn’t have (presumably, I haven’t read what I wrote in the ensuing decade) repeated myself here…

        Liked by 1 person

      14. “Stina Lecht wrote a fantasy set in modern Ireland a few years ago and while I gather it got good reviews here, a couple of Irish reviewers ripped it up and down for errors.”

        Stina Leicht’s book was also partly about the so-called Troubles, i.e. a painful and recent part of Irish history, where someone is bound to be offended, no matter what you write. As a non-Irish person, that’s not a subject I would ever touch, just as I wouldn’t write about e.g. the Civil Rights movement in the US except in passing.

        Liked by 1 person

      15. Both reviewers blasted her for treating the IRA as heroic freedom fighters and not mentioning their nasty side.
        I’m not sure if it relates but American films have a long history of giving the IRA similar treatment — much nicer than they give Muslim terrorism.

        Liked by 2 people

      16. Indeed. Even the US right tends to glamourise them. Post the election I saw people on Hoyt’s blog comparing themselves to the IRA and…yeah, nah.

        The unionist paramilitaries? Lots of parallels ideologically with the boogaloos, militias and gun rights nuts. That side of the conflict doesn’t appear much in popular culture outside of the UK (and even within — although, the cop drama Line of Duty had a sub-plot related to it)

        Liked by 2 people

      17. @Cora

        it’s not cultural appropriation. It’s a mix of research errors and using other people’s traumatic history (which is still within living memory) as a background for your cool adventure story.

        But that’s exactly what cultural appropriation is. In this context it’s claiming the superficial trappings of another culture, with no real effort at understanding, and appropriate them for your own, in this case to write a cool story.

        It’s usually a bigger issue because it gets wrapped up with racism and colonialism, white Westerners appropriating non-white cultural trappings as cool things to play with for their own (New Agers prattling about ‘spirit animals’ is a nice example), but it’s certainly applicable here; Connie (an American) is explicitly on record as saying how ‘cool’ the superficial trappings of the Blitz period are, without delving deeper into the British cultural context of the time.

        Note that it is not used as a blanket accusation against writers of historical fiction, no matter their culture of origin. It is a specific accusation at a specific piece of behaviour that fits the description.

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      18. Come to think of it, I faintly remember watching a movie years ago where a young (and definitely not Irish) Brad Pitt played an IRA guy collecting money in the US.Unionist terrorists don’t seem to exist as far as Hollywood is concerned.

        Meanwhile, in the UK media pretty much any Irish character who ever came under suspicion of being a terrorist inevitably was guilty. Muslims might or might not be guilty, but the Irish inevitably were. This was particularly notable in Spooks, which otherwise was quite responsible for a TV show made during the so-called War on Terror and featured several Muslim good guys, one of them played by a young Shazad Latif a.k.a. Ash Tyler/Voq on Star Trek Discovery..

        Liked by 1 person

      19. The Brad Pitt film, “The Devil’s Own” is a good example. He’s an infamous bomber/terrorist but he never kills anyone except British soldiers (fair game apparently) and IRA traitors; UK security guy Joss Ackland, by contrast, ends his first scene gunning down a wounded, helpless IRA man (not that the UK played nice in Ireland, but it’s telling).
        Another example is “Patriot Games” which went from “IRA kidnaps members of royal family” in book to “Irish terrorists who are not at all the IRA and are coincidentally allied with Evil Muslims kidnap members of royal family” in the film.

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  3. He thought of Kowal as a friend back then? Interesting.

    The award formerly known as the Campbell was actually considered more prestigious than the Hugos; at least it was back in ye old days. As you noted in your Hugo age post, Hugo finalists and winners tended on average to be well into their careers. They are fan favorites, well known to the field, at least in the main fiction categories. The Campbell/Astounding was to boost newcomers (not necessarily newcomers in age though usually younger on average) who were getting tons of buzz but might not be as well known to fans yet. It’s supposed to reflect writing that is seen as very talented in the industry and sometimes also for stories and approaches that are seen as innovative — the “future of the genre” or at least impacting it. So while it’s not technically a “literary” award, it kind of is, more than the Hugos, Nebulas or World Fantasy Awards.

    Larry’s book was selling well at the time, the series getting widely known, and he had the advantage that authors sometimes have of being the hometown boy — lots of Baen involvement and regional involvement in the convention, plus getting friends to pony up for associate memberships. This is a normal thing that happens with voting at WorldCon and in no way diminishes the considerable achievement of his being a nominee. Very few authors get it and it gets you quite a bit of attention in the industry and can get your publisher to commit to bigger PR pushes for you.

    But as we’ve discussed before, there was no way that Larry was going to win the award itself that year, as he seemed to have known going in. Lev Grossman was an internationally renowned lit critic and journalist who was also a big booster of SFF fiction, in and out of the category market. He was known to the field and the convention circuit for his media support. He had published two non-SFF novels before — one a controversial but deemed innovative young guy’s novel that did middling and the second a thriller that became an international bestseller. And then he wrote The Magicians, which also was an international bestseller, had been optioned for film/t.v., had been reviewed everywhere and put on Best of Year lists, in and out of the category market, he got extensive media coverage, wrote an article for the NYTimes on writing the book. The book had been hailed as innovative in deconstructing the idea of fantasy alternate universes, etc. It was the big book of 2010 and so there was no way Grossman wasn’t going to win. That happens sometimes.

    A lot of contemporary fantasy series are neo-pulp because they are suspense and noir. So it wasn’t surprising that a few people didn’t find Larry’s neo-pulp that remarkable when it came to the award. But as we can see, some people didn’t even see Connie Willis’ big opus as remarkable and worthy of winning the Hugo either. People are never all happy with the nominees and always have others they wanted nominated or to win. That’s part of the whole idea of awards — to get people talking about and discovering books and stories, both as finalists and ones that didn’t make the list. It clearly irked Larry, but it was something that other authors and people at WorldCon would have told him was normal.

    So I think his “villain” moment probably came later, after the convention, when he ran into people who weren’t that impressed with his nomination and waxed positively about other people’s books, people he maybe didn’t consider worthy human beings. They were not giving him proper deference, proper status, even though his sales were climbing. And so Larry couldn’t frame it as him being beaten for an award by someone who was way more famous and commercially successful than him at the time. It had to be instead a wider conspiracy against his writing and very being, because that’s status — if you’re worth the great, cheating, conspiring efforts of nefarious enemies. You’re a big cheese if lots of people are out to get you in Larry’s world. So he set out to be a big cheese, as revenge against “literary elites” in what is mainly a commercial, mass market paperback market.

    It’s not so much that he became a motivated villain as that he wanted to be seen as one, which, it being seen by the “wrong” people, made him a hero in his political spheres. It’s why they called themselves the Evil League of Evil after the group in Dr. Horrible, where Dr. Horrible wants to join. The whole schtick was that the Puppies were somehow being villainized in SFF by supposedly stuck-up folk being wrongly lauded as “heroes” of SFF and therefore whatever the Puppies were doing was justified self-defense. It’s always righteous, supposedly justified “self-defense.”

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    1. Kowal was part of Writing Excuses and I guess it was friend-transitivity as a result. Also, from what I’ve read, she’s a friendly sort of person. Also, wasn’t she involved in that LTUE thing in Utah as well?

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      1. Yeah, because she did the podcast with the Utah Mormon guys, therefore Larry assumed she just MUST be a friend and fellow traveler of his, too.

        Not so much, as we shall read later.

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      2. This obviously just a very superficial impression but she was very friendly and genial at Dublin2019. She’s also an incredible and wickedly funny storyteller who always brought the house down.

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      3. Kowal is an amazingly wonderful person to interact with. I was next to her when she was incredibly frustrated (she had promised to write flash fiction for people as part of a promotion she was doing, but had accidentally dropped the typewriter she had brought and it wasn’t working) and she was still incredibly nice to everyone around her despite her obviously growing consternation over her inability to fix the typewriter. If she can remain pleasant in that circumstance, she’s a nigh-saint in my book.

        Plus, she let my wife hold her Hugo.

        Liked by 3 people

      4. Mary is an actual acquaintance-verging-on-friend of mine, and the thing is…

        SHE’S REALLY NICE. To just about everyone.

        I mean, she is nice, and polite, and genteel, and funny, and just what a Southern Belle should be.

        But that also means she’s the proverbial Steel Magnolia, and doesn’t suffer fools.

        She is so multi-talented, and smart, and hard-working, and classy, and pretty, and I would hate her if I didn’t have a girl crush on her.

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      5. Lurkertype: SHE’S REALLY NICE. To just about everyone. I mean, she is nice, and polite, and genteel, and funny, and just what a Southern Belle should be. But that also means she’s the proverbial Steel Magnolia, and doesn’t suffer fools.

        That was the thing which surprised and delighted me. When she finally stepped down after 4 years on the SFWA Board and published the piece “Dear Twelve Rabid Weasels of SFWA, please shut the fuck up”, I was startled — but immediately thought, “Wow, what a great job she’s done the last 4 years being restrained, professional, and impartial! I’m so glad she finally gets to talk about what these people are really like and say what she really thinks.”

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    2. I agree for me as reader the Astounding award is one of the most interesting awards. It is more a look in the future of the genere.
      About Kowal I think Cam is right. Kowal was (or is) on frindly terms with Sanderson, Wells and Taylor, all who Larry tried to get on board. He did try to nominate Taylor in year 2, even if Taylor was not eligable, Sanderson declined in his own words, a part in the sad puppies, and Wells was nominated, but as far as I remember, didn’t make pro-puppyscomment(I hope I am right here), so was not that effective for the pups.
      In this moment in time, Larry was trying to make alies, I think.

      Liked by 2 people

    3. Kat Goodwin: The award formerly known as the Campbell was actually considered more prestigious than the Hugos; at least it was back in ye old days.

      That must have been at least a couple of decades ago, or maybe it was only the case in authorial circles, because it hasn’t been that way among the majority of Worldcon members in recent memory, as far as I can tell. My impression is that for most Hugo nominators it’s been an afterthought category, a “maybe I can think of a couple people to nominate who are eligible” and to many Hugo voters it’s been, “I’ve read things by a couple of those people”.

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      1. I’ve been voting on them for 30+ years, and never thought of it that way. It was the one last on the ballot which is, famously, NotAHugo — and if it was that prestigious, it wouldn’t have that name.

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      2. Yes, the people are less well known because it’s the up and coming award, though sometimes they are very well known as happened with Grossman. But it’s prestigious in the industry because it is the up and comers who are considered ones to watch (and do deals with) and attracting buzz for quality stuff, even if a lot of Hugo voters don’t bother with the award. That’s why sometimes short story writers win instead of just novels (as happened to Brad later.) The general media doesn’t pay much attention to it versus the Hugo Best Novel Award, but in the industry it usually gives less established writers some solid clout.

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    4. The Magicians was huge in 2010/11, so huge that I bought my copy in an airport bookstore. I wasn’t blawn away by the book and didn’t read the sequels, but it got a huge amount of buzz. And Lev Grossman was well known and highly regarded as a genre-friendly literary critic. So his win was absolutely no surprise to anybody, though personally I would have voted for Lauren Beukes and probably Saladin Ahmed above Lev Grossman.

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      1. I think I voted for Saladin, because I haaaaated “The Magicians” and felt Grossman wasn’t really a new writer. But Lev still went ahead of Larry, because he’s better at characters, plotting, and prose.

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      2. I enjoyed the first half of “The Magicians,” lost interest for the loong stretch in which they were bright young magical things partying after college. And the throwaway implication the villain’s evil somehow related to being an abused child helped kill my urge to read the sequel.

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      3. I read The Magicians and decided that in spite of all the hype, it was not for me. Lauren Beukes I liked very much and Saladin Ahmed was an up-and-coming SFF author, before he went over to the comics side.

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      4. Yeah, even if Grossman hadn’t been in it, Larry would have lost to Beukes very likely, who was a rising star and also better known. But again, getting nominated with that crowd was an achievement most authors would have been thrilled with.

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      5. For me “The Magicians” was “Narnia, but with added ‘adult’ topics to make it edgy”. My reaction to a writer, especially an established one moving into genre, is to shake my head at the tired schtick.

        It was definitely not a book for me.

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    5. “A lot of contemporary fantasy series are neo-pulp because they are suspense and noir. So it wasn’t surprising that a few people didn’t find Larry’s neo-pulp that remarkable when it came to the award. ”

      Hell, by that point Charlie Huston had published 5, count ’em 5, Charlie Pitt neo-pulp vampire novels. And Simon Green had done like, 10 or 15 Nightside-related pulp SFF books. Correia was really late to climb on that bus. By that point there wasn’t much ‘neo’ about neo-pulp.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Simon R. Green, Charlie Huston, Anton Strout, Rob Thurman, Jim Butcher, Kim Harrison, Caitlin Kittredge, Rachel Caine, Devon Monk, early Laurel K. Hamilton, etc… There was a huge urban fantasy boom in the 2000s with lots of norish urban fantasy books coming out, though they were largely ignored by the Hugo electorate at the time. All of the authors listed above also write better books than Larry Correia.

        In fact, my reaction to Larry Correia’s Campbell nomination (once I’d looked up who he was) was “Wow, they finally nominated an urban fantasy novel and they couldn’t find a better one than this? I could list five published last year alone that are better.”

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Irrelevant to the Correia discussion, but since his name was mentioned I gotta say that I highly, highly recommend the Charlie Huston books.

        And Kim Harrison got me into UF in the first place. Anyone who has the supernatural revealed to the world through a tomato plague, with a side effect of making everyone afraid of pizza and ketchup, is okay with me! 😉

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      3. One problem a lot of the Puppies have (especially Brad, but also Larry) is that they don’t seem to have a particularly broad reading base, and consequently they often think they are innovating when, in fact, they are treading on well-trod ground.

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      4. The only new thing that Larry Correia brought to the urban fantasy genre was weapons porn and lengthy political rants in the middle of the action.

        It’s a pity that the best series Hugo wasn’t yet around in the heyday of the urban fantasy boom, because there were so many great urban fantasy series that would have deserved a Hugo nod and yet never got one for the individual novels. And since most of those series have ended in the meantime and some authors have stopped writing or at least publishing (Rob Thurman) or are no longer with us (Rachel Caine, Anton Strout), they never will.

        Liked by 3 people

      5. The Winner the year before was Seanan McGuire, I would say Rosemary and Rue should count as better Urbanfantasy than Larrys writing.
        I look at other writers who didn’t win their Astounding round. Brandon Sanderson came last in the year Scalzi won, and George RR. Martin knew he had no chance to win the year has was nominated. Both had great success later.
        I know that finishing last is not fun. But Larrys reaction was stupid.
        Brad, who managed second place two times in one night (which is actually pretty impresive) is even more so a stupid reaction.
        But there were a lot of cases, were the puppies (also their nominees) did hurt themselves badly and unecessary.

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      6. The only new thing that Larry Correia brought to the urban fantasy genre was weapons porn and lengthy political rants in the middle of the action.

        Oh, so exactly what David Weber has been doing since 1993 then?

        Liked by 2 people

      7. Not writing urban fantasy?

        Well, true. Weber did it to space opera and ‘regular’ fantasy unless you count Out of the Dark which I prefer to believe never happened.

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  4. Regarding Brad and Larry’s changing stories: were they lying then or are they lying now? Or both?

    From what I saw of Brad at Chicago Worldcon, he was having a great, great, time, and people were very nice to him. Only later did he decide that he’d been horribly wronged.

    Also, if you can’t find panels on the business of writing at Worldcon, you haven’t read the program book very well. Publishers, agents, editors, and authors talk about it every single year, often in many separate panels. Maybe they conflicted with the gun-fetishists’ meetings so Larry ignored them?

    And Nicholas Whyte turned out to be a prophet.

    Also, it wasn’t any hotter in Reno than it is in Utah that time of year!

    Which is hot, but again, not more than what they should have been used to. I was only outside waiting on the shuttle bus because I was in the outlying hotel; anyone staying in the main/party hotel could stroll in EXTREMELY air-conditioned comfort right over to the con along an indoor bridge. It was hot in the elevators during the parties, but it always is.

    No, wait, I did walk a couple of blocks to a restaurant to have an early dinner with some friends one night, and it was hot but not so as to be unbearable. I mean, I didn’t even hear much complaining about the heat from English, Irish, and Scandinavian people other than “this is much hotter than home”.

    Plus the con gave everyone sports bottles and reminded us all to stay hydrated; maybe Larry ignored the good advice since it came from those terrible lib’ruls?

    As for the awards those two years, I rated Brad’s stories pretty high and told him so in person. Notice he finished second in Novelette, which is pretty impressive for a new writer, particularly when the winner was online free and his was in Analog. He also finished second for the Campbell, beating out Karen Lord, Mur Lafferty, and
    Stina Leicht!

    That’s a DAMN high placement for any newbie. But not enough to assuage Braddles’ impostor syndrome and ego, I guess.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Regarding Brad and Larry’s changing stories: were they lying then or are they lying now? Or both?

      Yes. Brad and Larry lie. It is what they do.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The real problem is that neither Brad nor Larry is connected enough to realty to know that they’re lying. In their increasingly unreal minds, what they believe is the absolute truth.

        Liked by 3 people

    2. I recall liking Brad Torgersen’s Hugo nominated story “Ray of Light”, too. In fact, I was shocked by how bad the two novelettes that Correia slated onto the ballot in 2014 were by comparison to the earlier story.

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      1. I have read a couple of Brad’s post Ray of Light stories (including his Puppy-slated Hugo-nominees) and my assessment of all of them is that they are basically stories Larry Niven would have written in 1971 with a couple of math and physics errors thrown in just to make them different.

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      2. Also, throwing in some math and physics errors wouldn’t really be a way “to make them different.” Niven, like all hard-SF writers, made such mistakes and he was pretty good about owning up to them.

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      3. That ain’t nuthin. In one of JDA’s books, his MC — a man well versed in space travel — is afraid that his skull will be **crushed** by vacuum if his helmet cracks during one scene when he is outside a ship fighting in a space suit.

        Geniuses these guys ain’t.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. @ Contrarius:

        Own. Now I am trying to construct a situation where sudden vacuum would crush your skull. That seems easier than constructing a plausible situation…

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      5. @Aaron, yeah, those do sound like bigger errors than the kind of thing I was imagining.

        About Niven, the weirdest physics notion I remember seeing from him—though it wasn’t in the context of hard-SF stuff, and was a claim made by a mysterious character so we don’t necessarily need to take it as gospel, and it’s possible that Niven was just having a laugh, but still—in the story “For a Foggy Night”, where the premise is that fog is actually a sign of a random dimensional gateway happening nearby, the character explains that fog can’t possibly be just a natural phenomenon because water is transparent. IIRC, the narrator’s response is basically “Wow, how come I never thought of that?” I couldn’t help wondering whether Niven or his narrator was a person who had somehow gone through life without ever seeing steam.

        Liked by 3 people

      6. @frasersherman: Accurate, but come on. 1. “Steam” in colloquial usage (and really the original usage, since the word is older than the scientific understanding of water) includes the accompanying non-transparent condensation. 2. Anyone who has observed a steaming pot or kettle or any other common source of hot water has seen that phenomenon. So, again, for someone to think “fog can’t be a thing because water is transparent”, they would have to have never observed any of the sources of steam that are regularly encountered in life. Or, they would have to be a character in a tall tale written by an author who has a weird sense of humor at times.

        Liked by 2 people

    3. Speaking of the 2011 Hugos, those bases WERE really neat. Connie let me look closely at hers the next day, and the design with the layers of materials and bits of sparkly silver to represent Reno’s mining heritage were gorgeous. And of course each of them is subtly different. So pretty, and looked like the rocket was standing on an alien planet or moon.

      Liked by 2 people

    4. What struck me about Reno when I went in 2012 is how it’s impossible to go anywhere, even in the airport, without running into some sort of gambling device.

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      1. I went to Reno with my partner for a conference a couple of decades ago. It was absolute hell — the airport was full of very noisy one-armed bandits and you couldn’t get away from the cacophony. I hope there’s a cold place in hell reserved for the political functionaries who gave approval for that.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. The Vegas airport is similar, as are many of the pit stops one makes while driving across the state on I-80. It’s particularly funny near the (populated portions of the) state lines, where one can sight the boundary just by the big casino that’s invariably right next to the border.

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      3. And Reno’s NOTHING compared to Vegas. Even the Vegas airport machines are more obnoxious.

        But since the entire state economy is financed by it, they have to maximize it.

        “Last gas for 80 miles wide” spot in the road? Nothing but an off-brand gas station, some tumbleweeds and a jackrabbit? Slot machine and video poker next to the Slim Jim’s.

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  5. @Lampwick:

    “Some of the Puppies would later write about how disappointed they were that that con didn’t put itself out to welcome them, despite the fact that they were Hugo nominees.”

    See the story about Bova, Asimov and the neopro https://fancyclopedia.org/Neopro

    This sense of neopro is well illustrated by a story told about a new writer in the 1960s who was visiting Boston and dropped in on a NESFA meeting at Tony Lewis’ house. At the meeting, club members happened to be collating Instant Message, the clubzine. One of the club members said “Welcome! Will you help collate?” The writer replied, “No, I’m a professional now, so I don’t do things like that anymore.” Whereupon Ben Bova came in from the other room and said “Isaac (Asimov) and I are out of page 6 — can you give me some more?”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. *laughs* Sounds about right.

      I mean, one of the things that WorldCon in particular tends to bring home is that, frankly, most pros were and still are fans as well. It has a much more ‘we’re all in this together’ attitude than the more corporate-run cons.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. The story of the neopro and the various puppies who expected to be treated like rockstars and were instead treated like fans among fans reminds me of the attitude I often see among self-published SFF writers who have been an Amazon category bestseller and think they’re famous. And those six or seven figure indie author rockstars swagger into the SFWA suite at Worldcon and think everybody will bow down to them and instead get a “Who are you again?” reaction.

    My favourite is the fellow who walked up to GRRM and introduced himself with “I’m No. 5.” GRRM was understandably confused – was this a mistaken Prisoner reference or what? So the indie author clarified, “No, I’m No. 5 in this or that category bestseller list at Amazon just below your books.” And GRRM replied, “Really? I never look at those lists, so I must have missed it.”

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I’ve known GRRM since the 80s, and that sounds right. Not in a snotty way, but just at face value.

      Sure, he enjoys the money from ASoIaF, but he’s using it to finance things like Meow Wolf, the Cocteau Theatre, and really excellent Hugo Loser Parties, at which he refers to it as “stupid money” (as in it’s really more than one guy can spend, so why not buy food and booze for a couple hundred people?)

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Yeah, I think the location part of WorldCon can be a very underrated focus sometimes with particular locations – Utah for Nevada in this instance, or more recently Dublin in 2019, where Charles Stross made Best Series and Peadar O’Guilin made the Lodestar ballot of that year, with very likely a helping from local fans (Not that either was unworthy mind you, I liked both). And there’s nothing wrong with that! But uh, it can distort some views.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Certainly people have said that regarding Robert J. Sawyer’s Hugo win in 2003, when Worldcon was in Toronto that year. (Even people who like Sawyer think that wasn’t even close to being his best book at the time.)

      Liked by 4 people

  8. ” I am the only author eligible that has had a gnome fight or trailer park elves.”

    What are these, rejected ideas from the short stories I wrote for school projects when I was like 12? (In which, notably, an assassin turns out to be two dwarves in a trenchcoat)

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I’ve seen plenty of urban fantasy which had scenes set in trailer parks. As for the gnome fights, I’ll pass. Though there was a pulp story from the 1930s, long since forgotten if not for the lurid cover, which had dwarves abducting nubile and scantily glad young women.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There are a TON of urban fantasy books set in trailer parks. You can’t throw an empty can of cheap beer or a lawn flamingo in the UF section without hitting one.

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    2. The famous shared universe fantasy series Borderlands, created by Teri Windling in the late 1980’s, had elves in trailer parks and motorcycle gangs as well.

      That the Puppies didn’t read widely, especially reading that much of past stuff, became clear very quickly. It was pretty funny to watch them have to keep changing the dates of when SFF had been ruined because they didn’t know about major works others would bring up to rebut their claims. And we had the usual “Star Trek wasn’t politically liberal, David Gerrold, who cares if you worked on it” argument. You had people who knew Heinlein telling the Puppies that they didn’t know what they were talking about in regards to Heinlein. And then the Puppies just got nasty and brought in the Gamergaters.

      Liked by 6 people

      1. I do wonder how they keep from realizing such things about themselves. Perhaps admitting an error in the foundation of their world view is too threatening to the ego. That could explain some of the rage.

        Liked by 2 people

    3. Those dwarves would’ve been much harder to spot if one had stood on the other’s shoulders instead of side by side.

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      1. If it hasn’t been lost or destroyed, perhaps I’ll try to dig out my old schoolbooks and see if I can scan or transcribe it! It’s pretty bad and very obviously riffs on everything I was reading at the time (a mixture of Discworld, Wheel of Time and various generic fantasy series)

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  9. @Cora:

    “Treating experiences that were traumatic to millions of people (most people still alive who remember WWII were children and teenagers at the time and badly traumatised by bombings, etc…) as some kind of historical theme park is going to be offensive to many people. ”

    That reminds me of a book I found offensive – “The Great Forgetting” by James Renner, in which it is revealed that our history is the cover story for a much worse World War II, which has implications that the author barely touches on, but which the reader can’t avoid – and toying with WWII, the Holocaust and 9/11 is not something to be done lightly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now I am thinking about a story in which time agents ensure 9/11 goes off as planned because without it, and the millions of deaths that followed, Burma’s 28th century golden age would never come to be. Or should the Bad Event be Covid-19?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think Thomas Mullen’s The Revisionists does something much like that (for that matter Poul Anderson’s Time Patrol had a similar remit).

        What bothered me about the Great Forgetting is this
        Cre gur Terng Sbetrggvat, jung ernyyl unccrarq vf gung Anmv Treznal jnf bayl qrsrngrq nsgre vg pbadhrerq zhpu bs Abegu Nzrevpn, ol juvpu cbvag gur Ubybpnhfg unq tbar gb arne-pbzcyrgvba. Nsgre gur jne, gur pbirehc ortna, perngvat bhe uvfgbel nf gur pbire fgbel naq erperngvat n Wrjvfu cbchyngvba ivn trargvp znavchyngvba (hfvat rkcyvpvgyl Zratryvna grpuavdhrf) gb zngpu gur pbire fgbel. Htt (gb gur a-gu qrterr)

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    2. I have a story idea at the back of my head where history goes off the rails in the early 1980s. It involves, among other things, the Falkland War being used as a cover-up for this. I’m not going to write it for another twenty years at least, if ever.

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      1. @Cora When I lived in Florida in the late 1980s, I knew a lot of people who were big believers in conspiracy theories about things like the Kennedy assassination. (Working as an AIDS volunteer exposed me to a lot of people I wouldn’t have otherwise known.) I generally tried to be polite and change the subject when this stuff came up, but I eventually got tired of it, so I decided to invent my own theory.

        The next time someone asked what I thought, I said, “There were actually two big assassinations that time travelers from the future were responsible for. It turns out that a super strong America keeps the world from being unified when space aliens invaded 100 years from now, so they came back to weaken the country.”

        “What was the other assassination?”

        “Reagan.”

        “But the Reagan assassination attempt failed.”

        “Exactly.”

        Liked by 3 people

  10. Ha! I seriously hadn’t realised that Nicholas Whyte was the “literati elite” person who’d got Correia so annoyed until now. Half his book reviews are of Doctor Who tie-in novels! Nicholas is many things, but a literary snob (as opposed to someone with critical faculties and the ability to tell good writing from mediocrity, which seems to be Correia’s definition) is not one of them…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, it’s absurd. The connection was suggested by Whyte and I’m 90% certain that who Larry is referring to. However, as what Nicholas said and what Larry says was said don’t match, I guess there’s still some space for it to be somebody else.

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      1. I would think that Whyte’s quote was probably it. Whyte pointed out that the Astounding (Campbell) was about the future up and comers of the genre, that he didn’t think Larry’s work really showed that and was a throwback and that it would be embarrassing in his view if it therefore won the up and comers award. For folks like Larry, that was saying that he’s an invader who is ruining the entire genre with his presence.

        There are the three stages of hierarchical bigotry that are used against and for marginalizing groups: Stage 1: you can’t come in here; Stage 2: you don’t belong here; and Stage 3: you’re ruining here, which was the Stage that the Puppies mainly employed in their campaign. So it’s not surprising that Larry would see someone saying they didn’t like his work and didn’t think it was award worthy as saying that he was ruining the entire genre. It makes him much more grand and it’s the way they tend to view things, that there are always competing teams and your team is winning (in, one up) or losing (out, one down.) It’s why any progress by marginalized authors in the industry is seen as a “loss” rather than a benefit to the industry by most conservatives.

        Liked by 4 people

      2. Considering Larry’s general level of precision, I’d say it’s just as likely that he’s referring to something that matches his claim less than to something that matches more.

        Liked by 4 people

  11. @frashersherman: “It’s “Murder on the Orient Express” over here too. She got the title wrong?”

    I gather that the book was initially published in the US under the “Calais” name – because a previous book by Graham Green (“The Stamboul Train”) had been published in the US as “The Orient Express”.

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  12. “2. Anyone who has observed a steaming pot or kettle or any other common source of hot water has seen that phenomenon. So, again, for someone to think “fog can’t be a thing because water is transparent”, they would have to have never observed any of the sources of steam that are regularly encountered in life.”

    Or every tea kettle in the world opens small dimensional rifts above their spigot.

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  13. I was going through the links in the footnotes, and Sandra Tayler’s livejournal post reminded me of an issue that has long puzzled me about certain people. For context, I grew up in rural communities where I was taught how to unload and clean a gun at an early age; a significant amount of our food supply each year was from my dad’s hunting; I was out shooting rabbits for food and later deer at the earliest ages that was allowed under the law at the time; heck I was even for a number of years an actual card-carrying member of the NRA (the NRA card and the ACLU card both residing side-by-side in my wallet)…

    …and I have never understood why some people get angry and anxious when they encounter circumstances where they are not allowed to have a concealed gun on their person. And they call us snowflakes?

    (Sorry, had to vent)

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      1. Some Colorado gun group was making the usual “let’s not give in to our emotions” speech in response to the Boulder shooting. Nothing is more emotional than “Waaaah, what if the bad man takes my guns! I love them more than people! I’m scared for them!”

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, grandda had a gun shop, dad was into guns (not that he should have been,) uncle and aunt trained hunting and police dogs. Guns are a tool, and not always a good one, but good gun owners support proper regulation, eating what you hunt, etc.

      It’s performative and very, very white. It makes them feel powerful and in charge of the society and scaring others with the threat of killing them makes them feel powerful, like they’re in a western. It’s supposed to remind us that our civil rights are an illusion they can take whenever the might makes right authoritarian urge is upon them. And it’s been a useful wedge issue to seize political power.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Yeah. I live in a rural, rather magentaish community. At most I will see rifles hanging in the back window of pickups (usually flatbed working farm trucks, generally .22 types for picking off coyotes, especially this time of year–calving season) or someone with a pistol on their belt after coming in from the woods (cougars, etc). Pretty much the “guns as tools” attitude though folks do participate in shooting contests and the NRA gives away a fancy tacticool weapon at their annual banquets. Never have seen the performative long weapon carry thing happening.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. My grandpa (who you may remember skippered a ship in the Pacific in WWII) kept all his guns locked up, unloaded, and never let us kids touch them. I think I was allowed to touch a few after I got married. 🙂 He had some very nice wood-stock hunting rifles. Didn’t need the tacticool ones to take his limit of deer every year, someone ate all he shot, didn’t shoot anything he didn’t have a license for. Didn’t go strapped to the golf course (I’m pretty sure he had his old Navy pistol in the nightstand in case of burglars, but cannot confirm). He was a real man, a real warrior, and an exemplary husband.

        My dad (slogged through the mud in the Bulge and Korea) got rid of all his guns when he went to strictly desk jobs.

        Mr. LT’s family are redneck rural hunters, and the kids who wanted to were taught at an appropriate age, and all were taught that guns are dangerous tools, like jackhammers or electricity. No performative dick-waving, no toting the rifle off the pickup truck rack into the grocery store. Mr. LT is the mildest-tempered of men, but he’s a damn good target shooter, because it’s fun and stats are geeky.

        None of them are impressed with the gun nuts, the NRA’s current stance, and all think/thought registrations and background checks were sensible.

        Real Men Don’t Need All Those Guns All The Time. I guess insecure man-boys do.

        (And they wonder why “what’s he compensating for?” is such a common question.)

        Liked by 1 person

  14. I’ve been biting my tongue for days…

    ..I admit that I have be a deep Connie Willis fan since I first read “The Last of the Winnebagos” in _Asimov’s Science Fiction_ in 1988. But I just can’t keep quiet.

    Anyone, ANYONE, who thinks that _Blackout/All Clear_ is a worse novel that
    -They’d Rather Be Right_ by Mark Clifton and Frank Riley which won the Hugo in 1955 and/or _Slan_ by A. E. van Vogt that didn’t win an award until the Retro Hugos for 1941 as Retro Hugo but was praised for a couple of decades with the chant “All fans are Slan!” well… seriously, if you think Willis’s book is worse than those two entries, than I must conclude that you are less well-informed, less well-read, and ultimately less intelligent that both Larry and Vox.

    Also, at least one author in Cam’s comments here has published stories set in American historical eras adjacent to Willis’s WWII novel who I can say for an absolute fact made at least as many historical blunders as Connie did. So I think each and every one of you should look at the glass houses you are standing in and maybe, just maybe, rethink your position.

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    1. “I like Connie and you’re a bunch of big meanies who smell” isn’t the devastating argument you appear to think it is. And it’s not just “historical blunders” that make Blackout/All-Clear a terrible book — though to be clear, I don’t think it’s *possible* for another book to contain as many historical research failures as that one does. It’s the errors in geography, in understanding the British class system, in the language used… but more than that, it’s that it makes those errors while repeating a theme-park narrative of Britain in the war that is based, not on reality, but on right-wing propaganda, and does so in a way that is massively insulting to the very people to whom Willis claimed to be paying tribute. And even that would be perhaps forgivable if it were done in a story with characters who were differentiated in any way, whose plot didn’t depend on all the characters frequently passing the idiot ball to each other, which didn’t use the same false-cliffhanger trick literally dozens of times, which had dialogue remotely like anything a human being has ever said, and which didn’t end in a literal deus ex machina — a deus ex machina which also implies that World War II is the creation of a benevolent God, who chose for it to happen in the way it did. And on top of *that*, it’s absurdly overlong for what amounts to a shaggy-dog story, and published as two volumes in a way that is insulting to the readers. The first volume does not come to any conclusion, and is in no way a complete book itself — it just stops at a random point, and says you have to buy another book if you want to read the rest of the story. It’s not just a failure of historical research — though, again, it is literally the single least-accurate book in that regard that I have ever come across — it’s a failure on the level of craft, on the level of publishing ethics, and on the level of basic morality. It’s an insult to the book’s readers, to the whole British Isles, and to anyone of any nationality who lived through (or, more to the point, died during) the Second World War. It’s a book so staggeringly bad that a full decade after reading it my blood pressure still rises at the thought of it, and insulting those of us who think that way about the book, while giving literally no reason whatsoever other than “nuh-uh” for us to think otherwise, is not going to make anyone “rethink [their] position”…

      On Fri, Mar 26, 2021 at 8:42 AM Camestros Felapton wrote:

      > fontfolly commented: “I’ve been biting my tongue for days… ..I admit > that I have be a deep Connie Willis fan since I first read “The Last of the > Winnebagos” in _Asimov’s Science Fiction_ in 1988. But I just can’t keep > quiet. Anyone, ANYONE, who thinks that _Blackout/Al” >

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry for the horrible formatting there. I used the “reply by replying to this email” function rather than visiting the website, and that seems to have stripped out the paragraph breaks while also including a chunk of the original email. Won’t be doing that again…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. ” The first volume does not come to any conclusion, and is in no way a complete book itself — it just stops at a random point, and says you have to buy another book if you want to read the rest of the story. ” I had the same problem with Jim Butcher’s “Peace Talks” which is Part One of a two-part tale and feels very much like Butcher chopped it off based on “I’m at the halfway point” (and also suffers a lot of idiot plot).
        Proving there is not bad PR, I’m going to have to read Blackout now to see if I agree with your assessment.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. I think we’ve all proved Larry’s point that conservative authors are criticized totally unfairly, while authors popular with the Worldcon in-crowd, like Connie Willis, get a free ride, and never get any criticism at all

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I used to be a Connie Willis fan before I met her in person. She’s the sort of person who cannot allow anyone who disagrees with her on any topic to actually finish a sentence. These days, I can’t read or reread anything of hers without hearing her voice shrieking at me–and we had agreed on 95% of what we chatted about that evening!

        But, that said, I thought Blackout/All Clear were okay books back when I first read them (before I met her). I always liked her time-travel stories, and–other than the size–this was just another entry in that universe. I’m perfectly prepared to believe that there were historical inaccuracies in the story, but I don’t remember any of them; they certainly didn’t spoil the story for me. Also, it didn’t leave me with the impression that London in World War II was a fun place; I was left thinking how awful it must have been to live through that.

        I do remember thinking the ending was weak, but that’s true of lots of Hugo winners; if the journey is enough fun, people often forgive the author’s failure to wrap it up neatly.

        I wonder how many of the over-the-top objections to these books come from people who simply don’t like the author personally. Some of what I’ve read certainly sounds personal to me.

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      5. If I’m not aware of an error when I read something, being told “that’s not how X works” often doesn’t bother me much. Conversely, if I spot a bad error that’s not going to register on most people, I don’t really expect them to be equally annoyed if I tell them.

        Like

    2. I don’t think that Blackout/All Clear is the worst novel to ever have won a Hugo. For starters, I haven’t read They’d Rather Be Right, so I can’t compare the two, Though I’ve never met anybody who had anything nice to say about They’d Rather Be Right. I’ve met a lot of people who like Connie Willis and Blackout/All Clear.

      However, IMO Blackout/All Clear is a bad novel that won a Hugo. It’s not the only bad novel ever to have won a Hugo. In fact, there was a string of lackluster to downright bad Hugo winners in the 1990s and 2000s, which left me scratching my head and wondering what the hell the Hugo voters were thinking, e.g. The Windup Girl, which I personally disliked more than Blackout/All Clear, Spin, Hominids, Rainbow’s End, Forever Peace. Blackout/All Clear came right at the end of that period of a lot of lackluster or downright bad Hugo winners and finalists which weren’t much better.

      Blackout/All Clear won the Hugo in 2011. From 2012 on, there hasn’t been a Hugo winning novel which I flat out disliked and/or which made me wonder, “What’s this even doing on the ballot?”, though not every winner was my first choice.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My opinion of the Hugo Best Novel Finalists and Winners for the last 30 years is that pretty consistently every year there are at least 2 or 3 duds on the ballot, and sometimes the duds have won — and I don’t think the last decade has been any better or worse than the two decades before it. So Blackout/All Clear is just one of many data points for me, and it’s not even close making the list of worst Hugo Novel Finalists in the last 30 years.

        But then, I long ago accepted that works that I loved were hated by people whose opinions I respect, and that people whose opinions I respect loved novels that I hated. The beauty of the SFF genre is that there is such a wide range of books published, there is something for everyone — and unlike the Puppies, I don’t demand that the Hugo ballot exactly mirror my own taste.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. I actually read “I’d Rather Be Right” and it is indeed a bad book. More so because the power of psychotherapy to make miracle cures doesn’t have the same cachet it would have back in the 1950s.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. One difference I see between assessing Blackout/All Clear and They’d Rather Be Right is that it’s much easier for most of us to put ourselves in the shoes of fans from 2011 than fans from 1955. Particularly if we’ve forgotten to throw out our old shoes.

      Like

  16. I… am an asshole.

    I’ve been feeling like I’m losing it. I sincerely apologize for being such an ass.

    I’m going to stay off the internet for a few days.

    Like

  17. Greg, I can’t speak for anyone else, but certainly for myself I’ve never had any interactions with Ms. Willis as a person (and indeed have never before seen anyone say anything negative about her as a person — my impression is that she’s a well-loved person in the fandom community), and had never read anything of hers before reading the books in question (which put me off so badly I’ve never sought out anything else by her, though I did later read one short story in an anthology, which wasn’t offensively bad but gave me no reason at all to reassess my opinions).
    My sum total of knowledge about her amounts to “was groped by Harlan Ellison that time, won a bunch of Hugos, wrote the worst book I’ve ever read”. My opinion, at least, is about as completely uninformed by opinions of her as a person as any opinion could be.
    (I also remember my opinion of the book was shared by pretty much every British reviewer I saw at the time, and not shared by any American review I saw.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For what it’s worth, I thought the only other Willis I’ve read, “To Say Nothing of the Dog”, was a lot of fun. I didn’t entirely buy her future Oxford, but it wasn’t necessarily worse than other attempts at the town and University that I’ve come across, and the time travel shenanigans were entertaining enough that I didn’t mind. It’s possible she’s a lot better at romantic comedy than Big Serious Books. But after “Black Out/ All Clear,” I didn’t want to read further.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was not thrilled by Blackout/All Clear and I thought that Crosstalk was appallingly bad, but I consider Firewatch and The Doomsday Book to be Willis’ masterworks (they are both serious rather than her usual romantic comedy). The Doomsday Book is a massive read (450-600 pages, depending on the format), but Firewatch is a novella, and you can read it for free at Infinity Plus.

        Liked by 3 people

  18. I’ve liked almost all of the Connie Willis works I’ve read (and I’ve read quite a few of them). Blackout/All Clear was a slog for me, even though, as an American, the historical errors (other than the Bletchley Park business) didn’t poke me in the eyes. But it seemed like a very long book to cover the same theme (and teach the characters the same lessons) that were covered in the much more fun “To Say Nothing of the Dog” (I didn’t blame the 2 volume business on Connie – I attribute that to her publishers).

    If you want to read a thoroughly fun short Willis novel, I recommend *Bellwether*. For a more serious work, *the Doomsday Book* is a more respectful look at a historical period’s problems (and “Firewatch” is an excellent WWII story).

    One weird thing I noticed about *Crosstalk* is that it shares a structure much like the Doctor Who episode “The Runaway Bride” (rot13 Obgu srngher n jbzna jub vf ratntrq gb uvture enaxvat pbjbexre, jub vf sbeprq ol fgenatr pvephzfgnaprf vagb pbagnpg jvgu na bqq, ohg jryy-vasbezrq zna, naq yrneaf gung ure svnapr’ unf hygrevbe zbgvirf) (I do not suspect that Connie borrowed the plot structure – it’s just an interesting coincidence).

    Poor communication seems to be a favorite Willis theme, by the way.

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    1. Yes, I think one of the main themes in most of Willis’ work is how human beings make things so much harder on themselves, or cause their own downfall, by their inability/refusal to communicate clearly with each other.

      Willis is an admitted fan of the Carole Lombard-style screwball comedies of the 1930s and 40s. The problem with that is that many elements of those vintage films were misogynist and are not considered “funny” now. And Crosstalk has consent violations all over the place, played either for laughs, or for the “she didn’t know what was best for her, so he had to control her to make her realize what was best for her” angle.

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      1. And Crosstalk has consent violations all over the place, played either for laughs, or for the “she didn’t know what was best for her, so he had to control her to make her realize what was best for her” angle.

        Yeah, I wasn’t particularly happy with that (and the same issue applies to the Doctor Who episode I mentioned).

        Like

  19. Well if you had any doubt that LC is ‘popular’, then consider that he generates a whole 138 (and counting) comments.

    Like

    1. I see how it would be easy to think that every single comment is referencing Larry in some way if you don’t actually read them, but many are discussing other things. There’s a large subthread here that has absolutely nothing to do with him and is in fact entirely concerned with discussing Blackout/All Clear.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah, not counting the responses to orkydd, I count only 29 comments here that actually refer to Larry, either directly or indirectly. The rest are all about other things. It’s probably very disappointing for Larry that he is of so little interest that 29 comments pretty much exhaust everything there is to say about him.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s striking that in response to a post about Larry, the majority of comments are about another author entirely. I think it’s clear that people care more about Connie Willis even when she’s tangentially mentioned than about the subject of this thread

        Liked by 1 person

  20. “There was obviously a concerted effort amongst the Mormons to get a bunch of writers onto the ballot in 2011 and 2012.” …. really? Mormons have been well represented in speculative fiction for a long time now. No need to go inventing conspiracies when the personal failings of the parties involved was a more than adequate explanation.

    Like

    1. I don’t think there was a concerted effort to get Mormons AS MORMONS onto the ballot but there was an effort to get Utah writers most/all of whom were Mormons. It’s more like the British presence on the ballot when Worldcon was in Glasgow (except, of course “British” is a far more generic category).

      I’m splitting hairs but that’s what my cat pays me to do

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Mormons have been well represented in speculative fiction for a long time now. No need to go inventing conspiracies when the personal failings of the parties involved was a more than adequate explanation.

      There’s no need for conspiracy theories, LOL, it’s been known for years that logrolling and nomination campaigns occur, they just aren’t as public and usually only result in one or two spots on the ballot. At least one well-known writers’ group, long before the 20BooksTo50K fiasco, has been known in the past to do mutual-nomination agreements, especially with regard to the Nebulas. And there’s a difference between writing speculative fiction and writing award-worthy speculative fiction.

      I’m not sure what you meant by “the personal failings of the parties involved was a more than adequate explanation”, care to elaborate? You’re saying that it was because of the personal failings of the Worldcon members that a bunch of Mormons made the Hugo ballot in 2011 and 2012?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You seemed to be suggesting that the Mormons got together and tried to get Mormons onto the ballot. I don’t think that’s especially likely. Later behaviours from folks like Larry and Brad, both Mormon, centered on getting themselves promoted as individuals, not as Mormons, and I have not seen any evidence to suggest that there was an ‘obvious’ effort in the years before to advance specifically Mormons into the awards. We need not assume a conspiracy when personal ambition is more than adequate to explain things, and certainly need not claim it is ‘obvious’ to cover for a lack of evidence. Camestros’ suggestion that local writers were promoted is entirely reasonable, but such effort would have centered on them being Utahn, not Mormon.

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  21. @KasaObake:

    If it hasn’t been lost or destroyed, perhaps I’ll try to dig out my old schoolbooks and see if I can scan or transcribe it!

    Thanks.

    Like

  22. … I sort of wish Cam had deleted my asshole comment.

    May I categorically stipulate that everyone, ABSOLUTELY everyone who argued with my a-holeric arguments earlier are absolutely correct in every regard and the every thing I said was ignorant, unsupported, and inconceivable? I defend nothing I said when I was being an ass. and will wholeheartedly endorse
    ANY replised, counter-arguments, or rebuttals. You ALL are right and I am completely wrong. And I still feel like a complete heel for posting the comments I posted.

    I will try to be less of an asshole going forward.

    I sincerely love so many of you that I feel incredibly ashamed that I posted what I did…

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    1. I’ll repeat my comment from the Falcon post for those who may not be reading there.

      You know what? Many of us have felt strongly about things — which we have every right to do — but have maybe not expressed ourselves in the best or kindest way possible.

      That’s what often happens when someone really cares about something. And no, it may not be the optimal form of expression.

      What matters is that we’re able to recognize that maybe we’ve not expressed ourself in the best or kindest way possible — to apologize for that and make a serious promise and effort to do better — but to also remember that it’s okay for us to care and feel passionately about something, and it’s okay for us to believe something different from what other people believe, and to advocate passionately for what we believe.

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    2. We’ve all done it, and many of us have done much worse, and your response to the problems with what you said being pointed out has been admirable. No harm done.

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    3. You didn’t attack me, so it isn’t my job, but I agree with JJ and Andrew Hickey above, we all screw up.
      And I will not be as afraid of you loosing your temper than I am of some other people.
      (Looking at the theme of the Debarkle)
      May I sugest, that if you are afraid to get angry in a post, write it on your computer, read it again 30 minutes later and then decied if you want to post it. (Hope that helps)

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  23. “For other categories, Larry suggested other Baen authors and editors such as Sarah Hoyt, Michael Z Williamson and Toni Weiskpoff

    That should be Weisskopf

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