Debarkle state of play

As you have probably noticed, I’m a bit bogged down in 2013. Unpacking the SFWA fights will take awhile but I think they are keen for several reasons one of which is why Sad Puppies 3 thought they could win (but I’ll get to that).

So, there’s a fair bit of shifting around of chapters from the original outline coming up https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2021/02/02/debarkle-draft-outline/

Currently the plan to get us through 2014 and the end of Part 2 is:

  • Dramatis Personae…Sarah A Hoyt and the Mad Genius Club. Some history, some bios and also the relevant post on the SFWA Civil War. MGC wasn’t a major voice in the SFWA fights (although Cora covered what they said) but it was a shift for the group in terms of taking a side.
  • SFWA Civil War Part3. Various things, Truesdale’s Petition, Sean Fodera v MRK etc. That gets us into 2014. [I see in the outline, I had Vox getting kicked out in 2014…oops! Messy timeline mix up]
  • Sad Puppies 2: The initial campaign and reactions but not the results because that is a later chapter.
  • Opera Vita Aeterna: I’ve never reviewed any of Vox Day’s fiction (officially) and I want to have a look at his attempt at a Hugo.
  • Dramatis Personae…Mike Glyer and File 770. I was trying to space these bios out but this one ended up in a silly space in Part 3. GRRM’s bio has swapped over to there as a break.
  • Meanwhile: GamerGate. This has to fit in here, any later and there’s too much back and forth.
  • Meanwhile: Requires Hate. This is a bit of a nightmare chapter just in terms of my notes already. A fine line to tread.
  • Hugos go to London: This may spill over into two chapters as we’ve got lots to cover, Wheel of Time, Jonathon Ross, Vox Day’s No Award.
  • Justice, Dinosaurs and the Water that Falls from Nowhere: The triptych of finalists that the Puppies hated. Dinosaur will just be a link to the Hugosauriad essays.
  • Dramatis Personae: Brad Torgersen
  • Dramatis Personae: John C Wright and the Evil League of Evil

That’s going to be about four or five weeks. June should see Part 3 Pupaggedon/Ragnapup/2015

52 thoughts on “Debarkle state of play

  1. I have read and reviewed it, and so I can say that Opera Vita Aeterna is overwritten crap that imagines it is being profound. It’s also part of his whole “Cod Romans in a bastard D&D/Warhammer Fantasy RPG setting”, and is a sequel to a couple of his earlier tales, all of which tie in with the novels. Badly.

    Oh, yes, and here is the opening sentence to demonstrate of what I speak… “The pallid sun was descending, its ineffective rays no longer sufficient to hold it up in the sky or to penetrate the northern winds that gathered strength with the whispering promise of the incipient dark.”

    Yup.

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      1. That bit does make a modicum of sense as a metaphor – direct sunlight raises the effective temperature and wind chill reduces it, so it’s saying that there’s no longer enough heat in the sun’s rays to counteract the wind chill. It’s overwritten by modern standards, but not nonsense. The load-bearing light beams are harder to justify, but if you squint at it in the right way you can see an allusion to a metaphor of a dying sun.

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    1. One thing I noted at the time about “Opera Vita Aeterna” is that its whole beginning chapter is a massive structural flaw. There is zero reason to show us the elf-lord arriving at the monastery: and this is pointed up by its being from the POV of a character who has nothing to do with the story and afterwards promptly disappears from it.

      It’s true that the opening sequence does a lot of incluing and worldbuilding, and starting at the point where the story actually starts — the abbot and the elf-lord’s first meeting — makes incluing a lot harder because all that has to be folded into the narrative instead of infodumped up front. Well, tough! That’s the task you take on when you write SFF.

      The way Beale actually wrote things was lazy writing, lazy plotting, and lazy editing. In itself it gives the lie to his claims of deserving a Best Editor Hugo.

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      1. It’s the sequel to an equally terrible story involving the protagonist, which is itself the prequel to the longish novella Beale wrote that introduced his terrible fantasy world to the public–said public being born-agains who wanted to read fantasy that was intellectually correct by their standards. This riddles it with bizarre structural flaws–the ‘hero’ of that original novella, who will go on to be the main protagonist of the series’ proper shows up at the end to tell us what to feel about everything that’s happened, while having no real connection to the event.

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    2. Clearly inspired by:
      “It was a dark and stormy night;the rain fell in torrents–except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

      Edward George Bulwer-Lytton – the first puppy???

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Don’t insult Lytton. The book that’s from was a bestseller in its day, and arguably is quietly influential to this day in ways besides that mockable first sentence. And come on, does anyone go after Dickens for “The first ray of light which illumines the gloom, and converts into a dazzling brilliancy that obscurity in which the earlier history of the public career of the immortal Pickwick would appear to be involved, is derived from the perusal of the following entry in the Transactions of the Pickwick Club, which the editor of these papers feels the highest pleasure in laying before his readers, as a proof of the careful attention, indefatigable assiduity, and nice discrimination, with which his search among the multifarious documents confided to him has been conducted.”?

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      2. That particular Dickens quote is treating comic characters with deliberately over-the-top solemnity. I do agree that much of the reason Lytton’s opening comes off poorly is because fashions in writing styles have changed, though — both the elevated tone and the direct address to the reader were far more common then than now.

        If you’re going to recreate a style like that when it’s out of fashion, though, it helps to be actually good at it.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Brust (AFAIK) doesn’t get dragged for the style of Paarfi of Roundwood. (Though personally I prefer Vlad Taltos’s first person wiseass to Paarfi’s circumlocutory peregrinations.)

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      4. @Space Oddity, I may regret saying this but… I wouldn’t even call that first sentence particularly mockable, except inasmuch as one technically can mock anything if one has a mind to. It’s not really all that long or elaborate, despite the use of a couple different forms of punctuation. The first time I saw it, I had what I would guess is most other people’s reaction that the “except at occasional intervals” part is an irrelevant and unintentionally comic digression… but really B-L is just saying “the rain was really bad, but if you’ve ever been to London you know that the only thing worse than the rain is when the damn wind starts up.” It’s atmospheric scene-setting, and the slight comic effect is intentional. I like the Bulwer-Lytton Awards, but they’ve had the effect of vastly exaggerating the defects in that particular piece of prose.

        @James Moar, I recently went on a semi-random Project Gutenberg excursion and ended up reading some of the light short fiction of Anthony Hope, of Prisoner of Zenda fame. It’s not really anything for the ages, but I really enjoyed Hope’s incredibly excessive legalistic language in this fairy-tale thing where I can’t help thinking that Hope was 1. deliberately testing the limits of Victorian readers’ patience with long digressive sentences and 2. working out some feelings about having been a lawyer.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Honestly I suspect that a not-insignificant part of people thinking Bulwer-Lytton’s sentence as a hilariously too-much thing is just that everyone is familiar with the first seven words and thinks of them as a standard unit, and so when they find out about the full sentence they’re like “I thought it was just supposed to be a dark and stormy night— why couldn’t he just say that? What’s all this other stuff?”

        Like a lot of Victorian prose, if you read it out loud with any attention to expressive phrasing, as if you were telling a story rather than imagining it coming from a motor-mouthed John Cleese character, it sounds fine.

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      6. “Snow, tenderly caught by eddying breezes, swirled and spun in to and out of bright, lustrous shapes that gleamed against the emerald-blazoned black drape of sky and sparkled there for a moment, hanging, before settling gently to the soft, green-tufted plain with all the sickly sweetness of an over-written sentence.”
        ― Steven Brust, To Reign in Hell. The opening sentence.

        That’s probably why get gets away with Paarfi. He’s just better than us.

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      7. I quite agree that Lytton’s sentence isn’t anywhere near as bad as its reputation has become–it should also be pointed out that astonishingly enough, he didn’t usually open his books like that. (Early Dickens in contrast, seems to view the opening of every novel as an excuse to take his audience hostage with a complex, multi-clause sentence.) But my biggest point is, Lytton was a successful artist in his day, and his works’ politics were far from reactionary–indeed, the big point of Paul Clifford is “The Victorian criminal justice system is whack, people.”

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      8. “It was a dark and stormy night” was first brought to mass popular consciousness by the aspiring writer and WWI flying ace Snoopy.

        And what species is Snoopy?

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    3. And more of his mangling of Latin.

      Along with English, of course.

      If the wind is opaque, you are in a dust storm or tornado/hurricane and should be indoors crouching down, or at least hiding in a ditch behind your camel.

      The only award that opening sentence could win is a Bulwer-Lytton.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. As I recall he claimed that rather than having mangled the Latin, he had incorporated Italian into the title (for no readily apparent reason). To my mind this bespoke an unwillingness to admit error that ought to shame a second grader.

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      2. He’s claimed the same thing about the title of his blog. Beale does not Latin well, but insists that he Latins like a pro.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. His excuse whenever he fucks up is that he’s doing something we “midwits” can’t comprehend and in fact the mistake is everyone else’s. He can never just own up to having done or said something incredibly dumb because that would mean he isn’t Teddy B: sooperjeenyus anymore, but just a regular schmuck.

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      4. Ah, yes, ‘midwit’. The classic Beale neologism–a clumsy, muddled abuse of language that demonstrates both the man’s pretensions and his idiocy, even as he imagines it is demonstrating his cleverness.

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      5. @ Space Oddity:

        Like his insistence of not being able to spell “Dei”? Voice du Jour is many things, but “good at Latin” seems to not be one of them.

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      6. I’m fairly certain the pseudonym is meant as a pun, and so he doesn’t lose any more points in my book for not spelling it ‘Dei’. I mean, come on, the damn thing is bad enough without getting foolishly nitpicky.

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  2. I have a friend who is not into social media or knew who Beale was, so I had her read “Opera Vita Aeterna”. A mutual friend told her I despised Beale. I wish he did not to that so that she read the story completely objective. She was not impressed with the story and did not think it was Hugo worthy. This was a long time ago and I cannot remember any more detail in her review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember my Mom getting to the John C. Wright robot story (“An Unimaginable Light”) which the puppies slated onto the Hugo ballot in 2017 and complaining, “What sort of crap is this? This is terrible.”

      She was vaguely aware of the puppies, but didn’t know who the individual puppies or the finalists they slated onto the ballot were. And she correctly identified every single one of them as “What sort of crap is this?”

      So nope, it’s not a conspiracy. The quality of the puppy finalists really was that bad.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Any of them would be good.

      I’m not sure what you call an eschatological event that’s started to get one small group a bit of power and ends with them having even less than before.

      Other than Debarkle, of course.

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    1. I few (hopfully good) sugestions arive tomorrow or the day after tomorrow and I am sure everyone will understand if Cam takes a break for them.

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  3. Seeing all of them together, and seeing the conversation over the last several posts really highlights again just how lousy most of the Pups (or either stripe) are as writers. Correia is probably the best of the bunch, and his writing aspires to be mediocre, while Torgersen, Wright, and Beale are simply awful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I read one of Wright’s books, “Orphans of Chaos”, before I knew who he was. Apart from being slightly perverted, it wasn’t really rememberable for being either good or bad. It was acceptable handiwork.

      His writing seems to have gone downwards from that.

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      1. I quite liked Wright’s first trilogy, although the Objectivist slant was rather obvious. He didn’t seem to be fanatical about it, though. I liked his next book (Last Guardian of Everness) even more. Until I read the second part and realised that all the stuff I hated in that was in the first book, too, just less obvious. Both swiftly departed from my library.

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      2. I remember liking the premise of “Orphans of Chaos” — four kids with powers that alter reality who are secretly from other worlds and are also Titans of mythology, sort of. Each kid – two girls, two boys — has powers that sometimes interact strangely with those the other kids, and sometimes cancels out those powers (I think there’s a rock-papers-scissors thing going on, where A can defeat B, who can defeat C, who can defeat D, who can defeat A). And they each also have alternate forms of their “true” nature.

        It’s been more than a decade since I read it, but what I remember is that the narrator, who is a young adolescent girl, keeps getting into situations where she is literally tied up with ropes or straps or whatever, usually by an older male authority figure, her powers temporarily nullified, unable to shift to her true form. And this happened enough times — five? six? — that I got to the end of the book, which was obviously to be continued in another book, and decided that the author was not someone I wanted to read more from. I didn’t want to read Gor, based on the descriptions of the content, and I didn’t want this stealth Gor-lite stuff.

        Then I read some of what John C. Wright wrote in unfiltered and unedited real life. Feh.

        I have electronic version of the text that Tor was giving away at some point, and wanted to do a read-through, like the scene-by-scene breakdowns of “Left Behind” and “Ender’s Game” that are out there, but I never got very far.

        If anyone feels like doing it, well:

        https://web.archive.org/web/20080820162002/http://hbpub.vo.llnwd.net:80/o16/video/olmk/tor.com/WrightOOCHTML/Wright,%20John%20-%20Orphans%20of%20Chaos.html

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    2. And all are behind the most awful of them. Beale was never as far as I know a not awful writer.
      Torgersen and Wrights writing seemed to have started okay, but got worse.
      I can’t say if Correia has gotten worse, too.
      The funny think is in taste, Torgersen is probably the worst. (going with his sugestions for the Hugos)
      Correia is at last stil being published and gets money for it. So sucess?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. GamerGate’s going to be tricky to research and reference, I think – active disinformation was very much part of the strategy. Though equally, Vox Day was barely involved at all from the perspective of the main perpetrators.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Wikipedia isn’t that bad. They’ve had enormous battles there and it was my soap opera of choice for a few years.

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  5. @Paul King:

    “I quite liked Wright’s first trilogy, although the Objectivist slant was rather obvious.”

    I enjoyed the first one, but Phaeton started getting on my nerves – he went through a long series of this cycle
    1) Everyone: “Phaeton, you’re right/crazy/evil. Accept it”
    2) Phaeton: “I can’t be wrong. Just let me try this thing that will be a bit of trouble for you and it will show I’m right.
    3) Everyone: “Oh, okay”
    4) If books not over, goto to 5, else go to 6
    5) It doesn’t show Phaeton to be right. Goto 1
    6) Phaeton was right. Series over.

    But the books had energy, and interesting ideas. I don’t regret reading them at all.

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  6. When they started up, my knowledge of them was mixed. Wright I only knew as a well-established mid-lister. I had never read any of his stuff and did not know that he was a religious homophobe who liked to threaten people. Larry Correia had been getting praise for his Monster Hunters series as comic noir urban fantasy and I liked comic things, so he was actually on my to check out list but I hadn’t gotten around to reading any of it before he was storming about the Internet being a classic narcissistic ass. Sarah Hoyt had also been on my list because her Victorian steampunk series had gotten praise and I had pointed her out to others in lists about historical/alt history fantasy and such. But I didn’t get around to reading it, and again, was quite glad of that. Brad I knew from Scalzi’s blog — he’s the only one I’d ever had interactions with, but didn’t know anything about his writing till the Puppies. Beale I learned about also from Scalzi’s blog and then the Jemisin incident and hearing his quoted mutterings was quite enough.

    When I first heard about the Puppies, as I’ve mentioned before, I was actually fine with it as long as they weren’t breaking the Hugo rules. But once Correia included Beale as one of his nominating slate to piss people off, I knew from past info that Beale would take over and that he’d bring in Gamergaters, so the people they were slandering were going to be targeted by violent harassers online. Added to that was the next year debacle when Brad added authors to the Puppy slate without their consent, lied about it and targeted harassers at them when they complained. It wasn’t the conservatism of the Puppies that entirely bothered me — though they were pretty disgusting in a lot of what they said in those views. It’s the violence of them trying to get authors they didn’t know harassed and violently threatened and their pretense that this was not really an issue and it was really they who were in danger.

    That’s why they were not received with joyous welcome at the Hugos Award ceremonies. When you try to get your fellows harassed and potentially killed, they don’t like you.

    Liked by 1 person

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