January 2014, somewhere in Utah…
Larry Correia had learned a lot from his three previous Hugo campaigns and Sad Puppies 2 had a lot more structure than his earlier attempts. Correia’s initial posts were lighthearted attempts to get readers of his blog to sign up for the 2014 Worldcon as associate members. The location would be London, so unlike Nevada (2012) and Texas (2013), it was less likely that many of his fans could easily attend. Correia did have fans in Europe, but Baen Books were not well distributed outside of North America and were not well known as an SFF publisher.
The second post contained a funny cartoon complete with a jovial Larry Correia and a moose and some practical information about the advantages of a Worldcon membership even if you couldn’t actually attend the convention.
“But wait. There’s more! Normally all of the voters are sent a packet of all the nominated works to read, so you get more than your membership costs worth of eBooks. Sure, most of them are screeds about corporate greed, global warming, dying polar bears, or whatever the left wing cause of the day is, but that’s why we need to nominate some works that are actually entertaining.”https://monsterhunternation.com/2014/01/14/sad-puppies-2-the-illustrated-edition/
Correia couldn’t know it at the time but the Hugo Packet for 2014 would turn out to be a marvellous deal (at least for fans of the Wheel of Time saga).
This stage of Correia’s campaign gained more publicity than previously. In some cases, he was cited as just an additional example of authors engaged in Hugo Award promotion but his post was also picked up by Mike Glyer at File 770, who had some mixed feelings about but agree on one point:
“Along the way, Correia called on people to nominate his editor at Baen, Toni Weisskopf. Now that’s something I can agree with – Toni Weisskopf should be competing for a Hugo. She’s a terrific developer of talent.”http://file770.com/larry-correia-makes-vulgar-blog-post-his-word/
Weisskopf added a comment to the File 770 story saying that she was glad to see that people were taking Correia’s post in the way it was intended. However, the pricklier side of Larry Correia came out a bit more in a reaction post to the File 770 coverage. Some of it retained the good humour but Correia also recounted what he saw as the Worldcon reaction to his 2011 Astounding Award nomination:
“Then my name showed up on the shortlist so they looked me up… Hoo boy. It was the end of the freaking world. Most of them didn’t actually read my book to know they needed to vote against me. They found out I was an outspoken, right wing political blogger, and gun rights activist. Critics came out of the woodwork. Smofers actively campaigned against me. If you voted for Larry Correia, you were a bad person. I was accused of misogyny, racism, hatey-hate-mongery, and why wouldn’t I keep my Jesus out of their uterus! My favorite post however was from a British blogger who said that “if Larry Correia wins the Campbell it will end literature forever”.”https://monsterhunternation.com/2014/01/23/some-reactions-to-sad-puppies-2-rainbow-puppy-lighthouse-the-huggening/
If critics had come out of the woodwork in 2011, what they said and wrote has become nigh on impossible to find since, nor does this account match his reactions at the time and the quote from the ‘British blogger’ appears to be made up. The emotion expressed appears genuine though and Correia’s memories of his experience with the Reno Worldcon had grown more negative over time.
Correia also conceded that some Baen authors had gained Hugo recognition in the past but still felt that Baen was being unfairly excluded in part because:
“average Correia/Ringo/Kratman/Hoyt/Williamson fan would rather set themselves on fire than sit through a WorldCon, especially when it is competing with DragonCon”ibid
This post had more allusions to politics than the earlier ones but it was not the primary theme of any of these initial posts. Correia was applying his other skills to the campaign though. He had tracked the number of fans who had told him they had signed up in 2013. He put this figure as 100 of his fans. Because of the way nomination rights work, those 100 fans would be eligible to nominate in 2014.
Meanwhile, in the comments to Correia’s reaction post, “VD” suggested that forty-thousand words were a low bar as a word count for a novel. Another commenter speculated if “VD” was (perchance) Vox Day and if so maybe they should campaign to get him a Hugo? Correia was amused by the idea:
“So many heads would explode at SFWA that astronauts could see the crater from space.”https://monsterhunternation.com/2014/01/23/some-reactions-to-sad-puppies-2-rainbow-puppy-lighthouse-the-huggening/#comment-34016
An idea was forming…
Phase one of Sad Puppies 2 was to get Correia’s fans to sign-up before the deadline for eligibility to nominate closed at the end of January. Phase two was to get them to nominate things. Two things were established for the beginning. Correia wanted people to vote for his novel Warbound and to vote for Toni Weisskopf as Best Editor Long Form. That left a lot of other categories to play with. To that end, Correia started to crowdsource suggestions on his blog. In the comments, Vox Day made some suggestions about which works might be suited. In the end, he picked out two candidates for Best Novelette: Opera Vita Aeterna (from his collection The Last Witchking) and Qalabi Dawn (from his collection The Wardog’s Coin) — both of which were set in the world of Selenoth from his attempt at a Game of Thrones like Christian fantasy, A Throne of Bones.
Correia would continue with multiple reminders to his readers about the campaign into March. On March 25 he had a provisional slate together.
- Best Novel
- Warbound, the Grimnoir Chronicles – Larry Correia – Baen
- A Few Good Men – Sarah Hoyt – Baen
- The Butcher of Khardov – Dan Wells – Skull Island Expeditions
- The Chaplain’s Legacy – Brad Torgersen – Analog
- The Exchange Officers – Brad Torgersen – Analog
- Opera Vita Aeterna – Vox Day – The Last Witchking
- Best Fanzine
- Elitist Book Reviews – Steve Diamond
- Graphic Story
- Schlock Mercenary – Howard Tayler
- Best Editor Long Form
- Toni Weisskopf
- Best Editor Short Form
- Bryan Thomas Schmidt
- Campbell Award
- Marko Kloos
- Frank Chadwick
The list was mainly people he had befriended such as Dan Wells, Howard Tayler and Brad Torgersen. Marko Kloos, he knew from their old gun forum days and Sarah Hoyt was a fellow Baen author. The main impact of Correia’s crowdsourcing was the inclusion of Vox Day in the Novelette category.
Vox Day endorsed Correia’s slate, blaming John Scalzi for the development in campaigning:
“It should be interesting to see how this all turns out. But after John Scalzi – how entirely unsurprising – laid the groundwork for the open politicization of the Hugo Award, it was inevitable that what had always been done quietly behind closed doors would come out in the open.”https://web.archive.org/web/20140330041659/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-sad-puppy-hugo-slate.html
Day also had some additions to Correia’s list:
- Best Short Story
- Port Call – Michael Z. Williamson – Baen
- The Krumhorn and Misericorde – Dave Freer – Baen
- Dog’s Body – Sarah A. Hoyt – Baen
- Failsafe – Karen Bovenmyer – Iron Dragon Books
- Best Related Work
- Writing Down the Dragon – Tom Simon – Bondwine Books
- On Training for War – Tom Kratman – Baen
- A Terrible Thing to Lose: Zombie Science and Science Fiction in John Ringo’s Under a Graveyard Sky – Tedd Roberts – Baen
- Best Professional Artist
- Kirk DouPonce
Prior to this, Vox Day had shown little interest in the Hugo Awards. He had made legal threats at the SFWA but with his expulsion settled, there was little he could do in that arena anymore. However, the Hugo Awards were something that was also valued by people he regarded with deep antipathy: Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Tor Books and John Scalzi.
On March 31, Correia warned people it was the last day to nominate and also stated:
“If you have registered and not received your PIN, then there are shenanigans afoot. I already know of people who registered before the cut off, but were not given their PIN because “we didn’t process your registration in time”. You might think that’s bad, but us trained auditors calls that evidence. 🙂 If that has happened to you, I’d really like to know about it.”https://monsterhunternation.com/2014/03/31/today-is-the-deadline-for-sad-puppies/
In the first quarter of 2014 Larry Correia had been engaging with fandom beyond Baen in other ways as well.
At Tor.com, writer Alex Dally MacFarlane posted an essay entitled Post-Binary Gender in SF: Introduction which was to kick off a series looking at gender in science fiction. The essay started with an objective and a definition:
“I want an end to the default of binary gender in science fiction stories.https://www.tor.com/2014/01/21/post-binary-gender-in-sf-introduction/
What do I mean by “post-binary gender”? It’s a term that has already been used to mean multiple things, so I will set out my definition: Post-binary gender in SF is the acknowledgement that gender is more complex than the Western cultural norm of two genders (female and male): that there are more genders than two, that gender can be fluid, that gender exists in many forms.”
Larry Correia decided to write a long post in response. Much of it involved knocking over strawman arguments of his own making that had not been arguments McFarlane had made and, in an unintended irony, mistakenly decided that Alex Dally MacFarlane was a “he”. His reply also included his own ideas about how he imagined the Hugo Awards worked:
“The typical WorldCon voter, when presented with 5 nominees for a category, and their clique’s personal favorite writer isn’t on there, and not having actually read any of the works, will go through the authors and rank them according to the order that best assuages their hang ups. Oooh, a paraplegic transsexual lesbian minority abortion doctor with AIDS who writes for Mother Jones? You’d need a wheelbarrow to carry all the Hugos. Quality? Popularity? Staying power? Influence? Isn’t that what makes something a classic? Not to the modern literati. We have to elevate works by people according to what they checked on their EEOC form. Meanwhile, hatey-McHatertons like me read books and like them, even when we don’t know anything about the author. I didn’t know what sex Lois Bujold or Wen Spencer where the first time I read one of their books, but I knew the writing was good. I couldn’t tell you what writers are gay or like to cross dress either, but I can tell you who I enjoy reading.”https://monsterhunternation.com/2014/01/28/ending-binary-gender-in-fiction-or-how-to-murder-your-writing-career/
Jim Hines decided to engage with Correia’s fisking with his own counter-fisk: picking through Correia’s counter-argument with his own counter-arguments, creating what Hines called “fiskception”.
“Cismale gendernomrative fascist? Whatever. What Correia is displaying here is his awareness that he’s making an assumption, his awareness that the assumption might be wrong, and his unwillingness to do 30 seconds of research to verify his assumption. Or just read the bio at the end of MacFarlane’s article. Either because he’s lazy, or because he doesn’t see any need to treat people he disagrees with respectfully. Or both.”http://www.jimchines.com/2014/01/fiskception/
Correia then responded with a further stab at both MacFarlane’s essays and Hines’s response. Neither set of Correia’s responses cast him in a good light beyond his normal audience.
In April, The Guardian newspaper carried Damien Walters regular column on science-fiction. Walters’s topic that Friday, was “Science fiction needs to reflect that the future is queer“. He discussed the role of sex and gender in science fiction. In one paragraph, Walters discussed the recent set of posts by MacFarlane, Correia and Hines.
‘When author and historian Alex Dally Macfarlane made a call earlier this year for a vision of post-binary gender in SF, her intelligent argument was met with predictably intractable ignorance from conservative sci-fi fans. For writers and fans like Larry Correia, whose virulent attack on MacFarlane was excellently dissected by Jim C Hines, sex is a biological imperative and the idea of gender as a social construct is a damn liberal lie! But Correia boils it down to a much simpler argument. However accurate a queer future might be, SF authors must continue to pander to the bigotry of conservative readers if they want to be “commercial”.’https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/apr/11/science-fiction-needs-to-reflect-queer-fluid-gender-identity
By now, readers may have spotted a pattern. Larry Correia often starts something with humour but makes use of put-downs, bold assertions & partial quotes, and stretches a point or sometimes wholly misrepresents what has been said (perhaps through not understanding, perhaps deliberately). Responding in kind or even with much milder criticism is met with an even more aggressive response. So it was with this article.
Correia opened his response with “So I got slandered in the Guardian last Friday” and later continued with:
“Anyways, my name showed up as the poster child for hate mongery and villainy in the Guardian (a liberal tabloid that passes for a major newspaper in Britain). I’ve been in a lot of American news things but this was a first for me, so on Friday afternoon I had to discuss with my fans on Facebook what I should put on my new business cards. We finally decided on Larry F. Correia, International Lord of Hate. Almost went with The Hatemaster because of the 70’s super villain vibe, but that looks too much like The Hamster when you’re reading fast.”https://monsterhunternation.com/2014/04/15/larry-f-correia-international-lord-of-hate/
The whole post is over 2,600 words long, in response to two sentences in an article that in total was less than 700 words. It was in a style that his readers enjoy, a mix of insults and a few counterpoints and colourful language but the thrust of it is that he (Larry Correia) had in some way been defamed. Walters may well have missed some of the nuances of Correia’s original argument but Walter’s made a better effort at summarising what Correia had said than Correia had made of MacFarlane’s original piece, Hines’s counter-fisk or Walters’s column.
In the gradually forming coalition, writers connected with the Mad Genius Club also joined in. Dave Freer stood up for gender roles:
“To which I reply in tones redolent of the fragrant effluvia of cows I have been working with: ‘You’re smoking your socks, Sunshine. Somewhere in a future so remote that present readers would have little to identify with, maybe technology will do away with men in the role they always have occupied. But if sf (particularly sf set ‘near-future’ – like the next 200 years) wants to reflect any form of plausibility, men will still be the ones doing the cows. The fishing. Or the plumbing. The crew on the salvage tugs. Probably most of the bleeding and dying, most of the jobs that require a long neck and strong back, mental and physical flexibility. Any number of other jobs which attract little or no interest from the vast majority of women, because they’re dirty and hard. Yes there will be women doing them. There are now. But damned few. Gender roles are not fragile, and Damien Walter and all his ilk better hope they aren’t in future, or they may have to find out just how hard those hard men are for themselves. I’d pay good money to watch them slither around the cattle yards.”https://madgeniusclub.com/2014/04/14/cow-manure-and-truth/
Sarah A Hoyt joined in:
“But there goes some critter named Damien Walter, in this outmoded tabloid that Brits seem to think is a newspaper – something calledhttps://accordingtohoyt.com/2014/04/13/i-need-a-secret-lair-and-minions-and-piranhas/
AlThe Guardian though heaven only knows what they’re guarding and if they think it’s the right to say who’s the world’s worst person, I want them to tell me they and whose army – calling Larry all sorts of things, accusing him of hate, and furthermore putting words in his mouth that Larry didn’t say.”
However, it was Amanda Green who drew a connection between Walters’s column and the Hugo Awards.
“I’ll start by noting that the germs for this post were planted earlier when a so-called “journalist” writing for the Guardian called out Larry Correia, putting words into Larry’s mouth that Larry never said. I’m not going to defend Larry here because he can defend himself much better, and much more entertainingly, than I can. However, it was interesting that the article, with its attack on Larry, came out around the time the Hugo slate was being narrowed down. Hmm, if I believed in coincidences — or conspiracies — I’d say someone had an agenda he was trying to further.”https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/apr/11/science-fiction-needs-to-reflect-queer-fluid-gender-identity
As it happens, the 2014 Hugo Award finalists were announced a few days later. Correia’s slate scored 7 out of the 12 items listed. Some of the ‘misses’ were due to a lack of homework on Correia’s part: Marko Kloos was not eligible for the Astounding Award because of past published work. Howard Tayler’s Schlock Mercenary was of dubious eligibility for Graphic Story as he hadn’t released a new volume. In the comments at File 770, Tayler himself expressed some unease about being on the Sad Puppies slate:
“I’m not sure why Larry put me on his Sad Puppies slate. It’s certainly not something I asked for, nor is it something I’ve EVER asked for. I like it when fans read and recommend my work, but I don’t campaign for that. I certainly don’t think that Schlock Mercenary not winning a Hugo (five times in a row!) is somehow a sign of Great Injustice somewhere. Because that’s just ridiculous. Not winning means it’s not good enough. That’s okay. I can keep making it better. And other people will keep making other excellent graphic stories, and thank you, Hugo Awards, for encouraging an ever-raising bar.”http://file770.com/somewhere-puppies-are-smiling/#comment-217888
The nomination statistics would later show how the other items on both Correia’s and Vox Day’s additional slate had performed. The campaign certainly had made an impact but not a consistent one, with voters picking between the choices.
Correia himself had 184 nomination votes for his novel, the third most voted for. Others got fewer votes (at the nomination stage) than that but success was dependent on which category they were in. Vox Day’s novelette received 69 votes which were 23 votes less than Brad Torgersen’s novelette. Sarah Hoyt’s short story Dog’s Body came fifth out of the nominees in its category but fell foul of a rule that required a work to receive at least 5% of the nomination vote to qualify (the story only got 4.4%).
We will return to the 2014 Hugo Awards in a later chapter. At this point, Larry Correia was very happy with how his campaign had proceeded.
“Thanks to the Monster Hunter Nation and other caring individuals a great victory was struck today in the war against the scourge that is Puppy Related Sadness!”https://monsterhunternation.com/2014/04/20/a-blow-has-been-struck-against-puppy-related-sadness/
However, Correia was quick to spot a downside:
“Already there is all sorts of outragey outrage coming from the usual suspects, with allegations of, I kid you not, “ballot stuffing” 😀 For everyone who has been involved in this process, you know how especially ironic and hilarious that actually is, since behind the scenes I’ve been collecting counts of Sad Puppies nominators the whole time to see if the process was rigged because there have been some really suspicious things that have happened in the past to other author friends of mine. Can’t help myself. I’m a retired auditor. But the London committee appears to be totally honest. Great.”https://monsterhunternation.com/2014/04/20/a-blow-has-been-struck-against-puppy-related-sadness/
At this point, Correia wouldn’t have had access to official numbers but claiming voting irregularities with this level of success would have been a stretch. Also, it was actually true that people had mentioned “ballot stuffing” in connection to the Sad Puppy results. There was a single comment at the io9 announcement of the results saying:
“It is HILARIOUS* that Vox Day got a nom. Can you say “ballot stuffing”? *When I say “hilarious” I mean “awful” and “frustrating” and “insane”.https://io9.gizmodo.com/1565148661
More substantially, Natalie Luhrs had summed up the Sad Puppies campaign using the term.
“What I agree with, even less, is the campaign that went on to stuff the ballot box on the part of Larry Correia and Vox Day. They each wrote a post, shortly before the nominating deadline, exhorting their readers to submit a particular ballot… I would be extremely interested to know how many ballots match that list in all respects. I would also be interested to know how many supporting memberships were bought for spouses, children, and extended family who did not actually submit those ballots. It would be ridiculously easy to game the nominations that way. Ridiculously.”https://www.pretty-terrible.com/obligatory-hugo-nomination-reaction-post/
It was a reasonable question, although look at the final nomination statistics suggests that the potential number of identical ballots would have been low. Luhrs had good reason to suspect that both Correia and Vox Day might indulge in brigading tactics. Outside of book fandom, a newer, different but related fandom was in an uproar in 2014 and Vox Day was in the middle of it…
Next Time: Opera Vita Aeterna
And after that: Vox Day (with a guest spot from Larry Correia) plays with Gamergate.
-  2011, 2012 and 2013 see Chapter 16 and 19 https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2021/03/25/debarkle-chapter-16-larry-goes-to-reno/ and https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2021/03/31/debarkle-chapter-19-sp1-how-to-get-correia-nominated-for-a-hugo/
-  we’ll get to that
-  http://corabuhlert.com/2014/01/10/hugo-dust-up-2014-earlier-every-year/
- see Chapter 16
-  Correia had 101 nominating votes for Best Novel in 2013 http://www.thehugoawards.org/content/pdf/2013HugoStatistics.pdf It could be that he simply took the figure from the nomination states
-  spoilers…yes it was
-  see note 6 https://monsterhunternation.com/2014/02/20/sad-puppies-2-the-debatening/#comment-35257
-  see Chapter 22 https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2021/04/09/debarkle-chapter-22-the-sfwa-civil-war-part-1/
-  Technically this work was also a late suggestion by Larry Correia on his own blog but wasn’t listed on the ‘slate’ per se https://monsterhunternation.com/2014/03/27/last-minute-hugo-slate-thoughts/
-  eg “Have you ever gone into Barnes and Noble, went to the clerk at the info desk, and said “Hey, I really want to purchase with my money a science fiction novel which will increase my AWARENESS of troubling social issues.”? No? This is my shocked face.”
-  https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/fisking#English
-  https://monsterhunternation.com/2014/01/29/5687/
-  http://file770.com/somewhere-puppies-are-smiling/
-  also, it was the second most voted for, Neil Gaiman’s Ocean at the End of the Lane came second in the nominations but Gaiman withdrew the work http://www.thehugoawards.org/content/pdf/2014HugoStatistics.pdf – nomination figures are given at the end