Debarkle Chapter 33: Dramatis Personae — Brad, John and the Evil League of Evil

[content warning for language and prejudice on race, gender and sexuality]

2014 had been a tumultuous year for science fiction: ructions at the SFWA had carried over from 2013, while in the adjacent world of video games Gamergate was in full swing, and meanwhile, Larry Correia’s Sad Puppies 2 campaigns had caused controversy at the Hugo Awards.

In his regular pop-culture column at the Guardian newspaper, critic Damien Walter summed up the growing culture war in science fiction:

“In recent months the community of science fiction readers and writers has been embroiled in an escalating war of words over the genre’s political soul, catalysed by the nominations for this year’s Hugo awards. Allegations of bloc-voting arose as a slate of little-known writers appeared among the nominees, after a concerted campaign by a small group of writers to get the books on the ballot.”

https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2014/may/30/science-fiction-real-life-war-worlds

Walter continued:

“A startling conspiracy theory was at the heart of the campaign. It alleged that a powerful clique of liberal writers and editors had taken control of science fiction, and worse, were politicising a genre that should exist purely for entertainment. They were filling the genre with heavy-handed “message fiction” and excluding conservatively minded writers. So conservatively-minded fans should vote for those writers to redress the imbalance.”

ibid

In response, author John C Wright (who had recently signed up with Vox Day’s new publishing venture, Castalia House) responded with one of his signature long posts, mocking Walter’s claims:

“But that is not enough! I also hereby decree, declare, announce and enact the creation of the Evil League of Evil! A subdivision of the Technocracy! Also, I am creating a Vast Rightwing Conspiracy, and joining Opus Dei, an order of Anti-science Albino Assassins, who takes orders directly from the cyberpope in the Vatican! I hereby will vote Vox Day our Supreme Dark Lord, declare Larry Correia to be our International Lord of Hate, decree Sarah Hoyt to be our Beautiful but Evil Space Princess whom we all love and obey, and — let me see, all the good positions are taken — perhaps I can be the Evil Brain in a Jar just like my ancestor, Simon Wright. Perhaps Sarah Hoyt will carry me around in a handbag, as she walks the grounds of her secret base hidden in a cold volcano cone, commanding innocent and cringing minions to be flogged with electric whips, or sent screaming to the Agony Vat.”

http://www.scifiwright.com/2014/06/the-evil-league-of-evil-is-given-pious-advice/

The term “Evil League of Evil” was borrowed from the 2008 Joss Whedon produced web series Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog[1] and clearly meant to be humorous. Nevertheless, the phrase was picked up by others. Vox Day shifted “league” to “legion” and identified other members[2] and even had a cartoon of the six key members he identified[3]. The humourous nicknames varied but the list was approximately these names:

  • Vox Day aka The Supreme Dark Lord
  • Larry Correia aka The International Lord of Hate or The Mountain that Writes
  • John C Wright aka The Evil Brain in a Jar, Living Brain, the King in Yellow, Speaker to Morlocks
  • Sarah A Hoyt aka the Beautiful but Evil Space Princess
  • Brad Torgersen aka The Token Liberal or The Cuddly Care Bear with a Flamethrower
  • Tom Kratman aka The Grand Strategikon

Of the six, Baen and Castalia House author Tom Kratman would have the least influence on later events, although he was often vocal in support of the campaigns that followed[4]. In addition to these six, Mad Genius Club blogger Kate Paulk (aka Kate the Impaler) was sometimes included[5].

Each of these names has appeared in earlier chapters but Vox Day, Larry Correia and Sarah Hoyt have had specific chapters about each of them[6]. Two key figures who have not had their own chapters are Brad Torgersen and John C Wright.

John C Wright the Living Brain

According to his own ‘About’ page, John C Wright studied the ‘Great Books’ program at St. John’s College in Annapolis[7]. From there he studied law but was unsuccessful and became bankrupt. After that, he worked as a journalist and later as a technical writer. He is married to fellow author L. Jagi Lamplighter (or as he prefers to say ‘authoress’).

Wright was regarded as hot property in the early 2000s, with a degree of critical acclaim for his debut novel The Golden Age in 2002[8]. His 2005 novel Orphans of Chaos published by Tor books was a Nebula Award finalist in 2006.

He had always been politically conservative, leaning towards libertarian but for much of his life, he was an atheist. However, fatherhood and the political turmoil around 9-11 caused Wright to increasingly question whether he had judged Christianity too harshly. Midway through this first decade of a new century, Wright decided to put his doubts to the test through prayer:

“But it was impossible, logically impossible, that I should ever believe in such nonsense as to believe in the supernatural. It would be a miracle to get me to believe in miracles. So I prayed. “Dear God, I know (because I can prove it with the certainty that a geometer can prove opposite angles are equal) that you do not exist. Nonetheless, as a scholar, I am forced to entertain the hypothetical possibility that I am mistaken. So just in case I am mistaken, please reveal yourself to me in some fashion that will prove your case. If you do not answer, I can safely assume that either you do not care whether I believe in you, or that you have no power to produce evidence to persuade me. The former argues you not beneficent, the latter not omnipotent: in either case unworthy of worship. If you do not exist, this prayer is merely words in the air, and I lose nothing but a bit of my dignity. Thanking you in advance for your kind cooperation in this matter, John Wright.”

I had a heart attack two days later. God obviously has a sense of humor as well as a sense of timing.”

http://www.scifiwright.com/2007/09/total-conversion-2/ [9]

Luckily for him, Wright’s wife belongs to a Christian denomination that practices faith-healing:

“Well, God answers prayers, even blasphemous ones, sometimes with a dreadful sense of humor. Three days later, I was stricken out of the clear blue with a heart attack. As I lay on the floor writhing and dying, my wife, a good Christian woman, called her Church, and a man who makes his living praying for the sick and healing them offered to heal me , which he did on the spot and in that same moment. The pain went from being all-consuming to nothing in the time it would take you to snap your fingers. Astonished and clutching my chest at the sudden and complete surcease of pain, and curious as to what had afflicted me, I went to the hospital emergency room. I was not worried, but I wanted an examination to tell me what had happened.   The doctors ordered major heart surgery, for it seemed that I had five blocked arteries in my heart. So I was in one hospital and then another for several days.”

http://www.scifiwright.com/2012/06/interview-with-infocatolica/ [10]

While Wright prepared for and then recovered from surgery for blocked heart valves, he had other spiritual experiences in the hospital. By 2007 Wright had converted to Catholicism and combined his previous conservatism with Catholic theology, embracing a kind of traditional Catholicism.

Wright would adopt intentionally archaic language as a reaction against what he perceived as encroaching political correctness. This was particularly true for language around race, gender and sexuality, with Wright employing terms such as ‘octoroon’[11], ‘authoress’, ‘negro’[12] as well as commonly referring to Muslims as ‘Mohammedans’.

Wright’s political arguments would often revolve around his belief that gay people engaged in ‘perverse and unnatural’ behaviour when he wasn’t demonising Muslims and Islam or complaining about the decline of Western civilisation. Extending his ideas to fiction, Wright argued for men to show traditional male virtues and women to exemplify femininity in a broad sense:

“Feminine in general means being more delicate in speech, either when delivering a coy insult or when buoying up drooping spirits. Femininity requires not the sudden and angry bravery of war and combat, but the slow and loving and patient bravery of rearing children and dealing with childish menfolk: female fortitude is a tenacity that does not yield even after repeated disappointments and defeats. And, believe you me, dear reader, a woman in love has a very clear-eyed view of the faults and flaws of her man, and if her love is true, she does not yield to despair or give up on him. The female spirit is wise rather than cunning, deep in understanding rather than adroit in deductive logic, gentle and supportive rather than boastful and self-aggrandizing. The strong feminine character is solid in faith in all things.”

https://www.scifiwright.com/2013/11/saving-science-fiction-from-strong-female-characters-part-1/

Which for Wright did not exclude women characters from action roles in books or films but that they should be suitably feminine in such roles.

In late 2014, Wright’s retrogressive views on femininity, sexuality and popular culture would collide when the animated series The Legend of Korra ended with the main character holding hands with another woman character. Wright was very angry as a consequence, addressing the producers of the show in a letter on his blog.

“Mr DiMartino and Mr Konietzko: You are disgusting, limp, soulless sacks of filth. You have earned the contempt and hatred of all decent human beings forever, and we will do all we can to smash the filthy phallic idol of sodomy you bow and serve and worship. Contempt, because you struck from behind, cravenly; and hatred, because you serve a cloud of morally-retarded mental smog called Political Correctness, which is another word for hating everything good and bright and decent and sane in life.

I have no hatred in my heart for any man’s politics, policies, or faith, any more than I have hatred for termites; but once they start undermining my house where I live, it is time to exterminate them.”

https://web.archive.org/web/20141229160245/http://www.scifiwright.com/2014/12/the-perversion-of-a-legend/

Unsurprisingly, the backlash among the wider science fiction community was significant, to the extent that Wright deleted the content of that post. Later, sometime in 2015, the content of the post was replaced with a defence of his beliefs and work in connection with the events around the 2015 Hugo Awards. That included this clarification of his ‘tolerance’ for homosexuality:

“I also believe homosexuals who get baptized and live their lives in imitation of Christ receive His abundant grace and dwell after this life with Him in paradise, there to be arrayed in more splendor than any crowned king, transfigured in shining glory unimaginable to human eyes, and made beautiful and fair with the radiance of divine love, exalting in infinite joy forever.

I think lust is a sin and that pride is a worse sin. Any man who demeans a homosexual for being afflicted with same-sex sexual attraction is guilty of pride. Look to your own sins, Pharisee. It is akin to mocking a drunk afflicted with alcoholism.”

http://www.scifiwright.com/2014/12/the-perversion-of-a-legend/ revised version

By this point in his career, it had been a long time since any new work by Wright had received much critical acclaim. He was still being published by Tor Books but he was now focussing his efforts on new fiction & non-fiction for Vox Day’s Castalia House.

Brad Torgersen the Cuddly Care Bear

Brad R Torgersen was born in the mid-1970s and his first foray into science fiction writing was as an unpaid scriptwriter for a community radio drama[11]. The events of 9-11 persuaded Torgersen to join the US Army Reserves, eventually reaching the rank of Chief Warrant Officer in an HR role[12].

His first and longest presence in online fandom was through a 1980s tabletop Star Trek themed combat game Star Trek: Starship Tactical Combat Simulator[13]. As a fan of the game, Torgersen set up a website as a resource after the game went out of print. His STSTCS website was a labour of love in which he set out to preserve and continue a particular vision of Star Trek.

“By the time the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted—riding on the success of the most popular Star Trek feature film to date, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home—communication had faltered between the game creators at FASA and the powers-that-be of Star Trek.  Following a policy that angers me to this day, the television and film producers of the Star Trek franchise pretty much ignored or overlooked the STSTCS, just as they have ignored or overlooked most of the hundreds of Star Trek novels that have been written over the last fifty years.”

http://www.ststcsolda.space/

Torgersen also felt that this distancing between a major media franchise and a role-playing game was for a specific reason:

“Moreover, there is evidence to support the claim that Gene Roddenberry himself was behind the death of FASA’s Star Trek license.  Always the proclaimed pacifist, and never comfortable with the military aspect that his self-created “star fleet” implies, Gene apparently became unhappy with the “militarized” nature of the FASA role playing universe.  (Side note: how Gene expected to film a whole SF television series set on an armed star vessel—populated by folks with titles like “Captain” and “Lieutenant”, doing galactic battle in the name of the Federation—and not have it seem “militaristic”, is truly beyond me.)”

ibid

Torgersen’s shift from dedicated fan to up-and-coming author came via The Writers of the Future contest — the competition to celebrate new writers established by L. Ron Hubbard (see chapter 4) and loosely (or not) connected to the Church of Scientology[14]. Torgersen’s short story was published in the annual L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future (in Volume 26)[15] which helped him sell a story to Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine. His career was helped by being mentored by veteran author and editor Mike Resnick who he had first met at the Writers of the Future award ceremony[16].

From there, Torgersen earned a finalist spot in the Astounding/Campbell Award for Best New Writer, a Nebula finalist spot for Best Novelette (2012)[17] and a 2014 Association for Mormon Letters for Best Short Fiction[18]. Torgersen had made significant steps onto a very mainstream establishment path into science fiction, describing it as:

“I’ve walked across the “name bridge” that’s formed when I mention to other professionals—in passing—that Mike knows and has worked with me.”

https://bradrtorgersen.wordpress.com/2013/06/30/writer-dad-mike-resnick/

Torgersen had also been an active presence in the comment section at John Scalzi’s Whatever blog at this time (initially under a pseudonym and then under his own name) commenting on many of the issues of the day (see earlier chapters). He also befriended fellow Utah-based author Larry Correia.

However, events within the SFWA would prove troublesome for Brad Torgersen (see chapters 22-25). Having invested social capital with older, more established science fiction writers connected with the SFWA, the internal conflicts that dogged the organisation particularly from 2013 to 2014 left Torgersen associated with a subset of SFWA members with rapidly dwindling influence.

At the blog of Baen author Michael Z Williamson, Torgersen described his frustration with the SFWA in 2013:

“Well, truth is, I joined in 2011. But after three years, I am going to quietly let my SFWA membership lapse. If I had to hang quotes around a reason why, my quotes would hang around this:

During the three years I’ve been a member of SFWA, I’ve seen the organization erupt in several significant ‘turf war’ conflicts that have each seemed (to my sensibilities) to have everything to do with ideology, and almost nothing to do with helping me as a novelist and a short fiction writer protect or advance my career.  I thought SFWA would be my ‘union’ capable of enhancing or protecting my interests.  It’s not really been so.  At least in my very limited experience. Especially not when I stumbled across an e-mail exchange between several SFWA members who were essentially discussing ways to turf my chances on the Nebula, Hugo, and Campbell ballots in 2012.
Why should I pay money to remain a member of an organization that seems (too often?) to be infested with personalities who explicitly want to hurt my career?  Or at least want to blunt my opportunities?”

https://web.archive.org/web/20130818164023/http://www.michaelzwilliamson.com/blog/item/sfwa–boldly-snatching-obscurity-from-the-jaws-of-relevance

Torgersen had perceived himself as a liberal, although his ‘liberal’ views were more those of somebody who might have been deemed ‘liberal’ in the decade before he was born. The politics of the 2010s were not running in accord with his perspective and the career path he had worked so hard to establish no longer looked so rosy.

The ELoE and their Publishers

Each of the six authors normally included as the “Evil League of Evil” had been published by more than one publisher, although the bulk of Larry Correia’s work was with Baen Books. However, by the end of 2014, the six were associated with two key publishers in terms of an aesthetic and direction for the genre. Correia, Hoyt, Torgersen were being published by Baen, of which Torgersen was the newest addition to the Baen stable. Vox Day and Wright were now being published by Castalia House. Tom Kratman was a long-standing Baen author but was now also writing for Castalia House.

Of the two publishers, Castalia was open in its role as part of a culture war. In October 2014, the Castalia House blog posted an article under the tag of ‘policy’, stating:

“As a publishing house founded to counteract the baleful influence of the cultural Marxists who successfully invaded and took over the science fiction and fantasy publishing industry in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Castalia House has followed the developments of #GamerGate with more than a little interest. It is clear to us, as it may not be clear to many of the participants on either side, that the intrepid gamers of #GamerGate are now engaged in the same struggle that the science fiction writers of America lost before they’d even realized it was upon them.”

http://www.castaliahouse.com/on-gamergate/

As well as publishing science fiction, Castalia House was also heavily promoting the works of American paleo-conservative theorist William S Lind. Lind was a major propagator of the quasi-anti-Semitic conspiracy theory about the threat of ‘cultural marxism’. Lind’s perspective was a clear antecedent to Vox Day’s claims about science fiction’s institutions and the so-called ‘social justice warriors’, as shown in this 2003 piece by the Southern Poverty Law Centre:

“”Political correctness looms over American society like a colossus,” William Lind, a principal of far-right political strategist Paul Weyrich’s Free Congress Foundation and a key popularizer of the idea of cultural Marxism, warned in a 1998 speech. “It has taken over both political parties and is enforced by many laws and government regulations. It almost totally controls the most powerful element in our culture, the entertainment industry. It dominates both public and higher education. … It has even captured the clergy in many Christian churches.”

https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2003/cultural-marxism-catching

Castalia House was also publishing Lind’s speculative fiction novel Victoria: A Novel of 4th Generation War a kind of watered-down Turner Diaries about a coming civil war in the USA where veterans fight off the forces of political correctness[19]. Both Castalia and Vox Day were also enamoured with Lind’s conception of “fourth-generation warfare” or 4GW. Lind had described 4GW in terms of three components:

  • A non-national or transnational base, such as an ideology or religion.
  • A direct attack on the enemy’s culture.
  • Highly sophisticated psychological warfare, especially through manipulation of the media, particularly television news.

Vox Day regarded culture phenomenon such as Gamergate, cultural Marxism and 4GW as all interconnected.

“In other words, it is not a tool used to establish Marxism, but rather a perversion of Marxism aimed at the culture rather than the political economy. Anyone attempting to understand the pinkshirts of #GamerHate must first understand that cultural Marxism is real and that it is the underlying basis for the SJWs’ current attack on the game industry. And it is worth pointing out that any #GamerGaters attempting to defeat them would do very well to understand that they are presently engaging in a 4GW struggle, and that in that struggle, they are the insurgents.”

https://web.archive.org/web/20141029175455/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2014/10/what-cultural-marxism-is-and-isnt.html

To that end Castalia House could act as a proxy for what Day overtly regarded as a species of warfare.

Baen, on the other hand, was not at war nor expressly committed to an ideological framework. It is true that Baen had dabbled with publishing political non-fiction and that those works had been right-wing but as Baen apologist would frequently point out, their stable of authors were politically diverse and one of their most prolific authors, Eric Flint, was an avowed socialist.

Baen though had issues with the Hugo Awards, as discussed in chapters 9 and 10. Baen’s chief publisher, Toni Weisskopf, also had concerns about the ideological conflicts within fandom and publishing. Sarah Hoyt republished a speech by Weisskopf where she outlined her concerns:

“So the core of science fiction, its method, is still a valid way of creating the cultural artifacts we want. But is it necessary to engage those of differing political persuasions to get this method? I feel the answer is probably yes. You don’t get a conversation with only one opinion, you get a speech, lecture or soliloquy. All of which can be interesting, but not useful in the context of creating science fiction. But a conversation requires two way communication. If the person on the other side is not willing to a) listen and b) contribute to the greater whole, there is no point to the exercise.”

https://accordingtohoyt.com/2014/03/10/the-problem-of-engagement-a-guest-post-by-toni-weisskopf/

Weisskopf tied this engagement directly to awards:

“But are the popular awards worth fighting for? I’m not sure our side has ever really tried, though there are indications that previous attempts to rally readers of non-in-group books were thwarted in ways that were against the rules of the game. And yet, to quote Heinlein, “Certainly the game is rigged. Don’t let that stop you. If you don’t bet, you can’t win.”

I think the problem is that folks just really feel they have no possible conversation with the other side any more, that the battle for this part of the culture isn’t worth fighting. And I think again SF is mirroring the greater American culture. Our country is different because it, like science fiction fandom, was built around an idea—not geographic or linguistic accident, but an idea—we hold these truths to be self evident. And it is becoming more and more obvious that the two sides of American culture no longer share a frame of reference, no points of contact, no agreement on the meaning of the core ideas.”

ibid

The six ELoE shared a common goal of fighting back against the perceived advance of the left within science fiction and also a shared understanding that the ‘left’ in this case was not so much a movement about public healthcare or higher taxes but one engaged in social issues particularly around gender, sexuality and ethnicity. They were not though ideologically or strategically following a single set of beliefs or necessarily operating in close coordination.

The name was a joke but also was offered with a serious challenge to fandom in general: pick a side.

The Debarkle at the end of 2014

2014 had seen culture wars on multiple fronts. Within science fiction, loosely related events had played out over the past two years including two Sad Puppy campaigns in the Hugo Awards and a series of conflicts within the SFWA. The details of those conflicts had varied but many figures crossed between them: such as John Scalzi, N.K. Jemisin, the Nielsen Haydens on one hand or Vox Day, Larry Correia, Sarah Hoyt on the other (as well as many others of course).

In broader national politics, the Democratic Party suffered in the 2014 mid-term elections. Republicans regained the Senate and increased their majority in the House of Representatives. Among the many issues at play (the economy, public healthcare) an unusual one was the Obama administrations response to an outbreak of Ebola in several West African countries. Later research found that fears of the virus helped boost Republican votes[20]. The outbreak resulted in over 11 thousand deaths including two Americans.

However, the biggest marker of the election was apathy. Less than 37% of eligible voters took part, fuelled in part by disappointment and in part by new voting restrictions[21].

There were multiple storms on the horizon…

Coming Soon: Volume 2 – Debarkle Part 3


Footnotes

97 thoughts on “Debarkle Chapter 33: Dramatis Personae — Brad, John and the Evil League of Evil

  1. Wright’s Korra comments were the final push that led me to come out as bisexual. I’d been playing as an engaged ally and dealing with anxiety about my desire to engage more directly with the queer arenas of genre fiction at the time and Legend of Korra had been an important piece of media for me during all that. His attack on the creators of the show, particularly calling them perverts, enraged me so much that I announced being bi in an angry response letter.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. @Simon

        but it’s been comforting to see that this is one where Wright and his ilk appear to be losing ground.

        Unfortunately, that’s because they’ve moved on to persecuting trans people. Got to keep the evangelical outrage pumped up somehow. 🤬

        Liked by 6 people

    1. That is a testament to the power of words and the power of stories.

      I didn’t watch the Legend of Korra until much later and I was kind of disappointed by how tame that ending was. Yet even the almost blink-and-you’ll-miss-it suggestion that Asami & Korra might be romantically involved was enough to drive Wright into a rage.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. I think it’s also a testament to how quickly things *can* change once they start to. The Legend of Korra was the first time I’d seen a textually bisexual protagonist on TV in a “not just queer bait or the fail that was BTVS” sort of way.

        A year later The Good Place came out and Eleanor is not only textually bisexual but also it’s treated as being basically just background. There’s still something of a dearth of representations of normal queer relationships of all types in media, but it’s been comforting to see that this is one where Wright and his ilk appear to be losing ground.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I think he knows that he is losing ground, which is why his histrionics are so wildly over the top. Reacting with outrage out of proportion to the event is kind of Wright’s thing. Remember when he fantasized about a mob hanging the DC Comics staff from lampposts over a Superman storyline he didn’t like? Or the time he opined that a police officer on a television show should have reacted to the news that his police partner was living out of wedlock with the first officer’s daughter by pulling out his gun and murdering other officer? I have been told that he was banned (along with his spouse) from a local convention because he couldn’t stop being rude and interrupting a panel on romance in gay fiction. Bluster and outrage are all he has at this point.

        Liked by 5 people

      3. Why would he even attend a panel about gay romance at a con? Like he could just absent himself and hold forth in the green room or something instead.

        Like

      4. Attending so he could make rude interjections from the audience appears to have been the point.
        Yes, exactly.
        This is endemic with homophobes like John. They want their homophobia to be normalised, and they try and shove it into every discussion possible to make it appear to be the norm. They also try and disguise it by falsely wrapping it up in their religion to make it appear to be respectable.
        It doesn’t matter to them that their busted tactics fell apart in the 1980s. They still do it because they know no other way.

        Liked by 3 people

      5. I’ll admit I don’t have the stomach to confirm this, but it seems the vast majority of Wright wishing violence on people involves him wishing some group other than him would be the one inflicting the violence (his “crowbar” comment being an exception). I mean, it wouldn’t surprise me that he’d be a craven coward in addition to his other charming characteristics. Again, could just be misreading things.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Well, there’s also the time he mused about killing Terry Pratchett, so he doesn’t appear to have an objection to committing violence personally.

        Liked by 3 people

      7. In a post about a panel he saw given by Terry Pratchett, during which Pratchett talked about his Alzheimer’s diagnosis and his decision to seek out euthanasia at such time as he becomes too far gone. JCW was horrified that Pratchett was advocating suicide, which JCW considers to be a cardinal sin, and lamented that he had not stood up and punched Pratchett in the face.

        I sat and listened to pure evil being uttered in charming accents accentuated by droll witticism, and I did not stand up, and I did not strike the old man who uttered them across the mouth: and when he departed, everyone stood and gave him an ovation, even though he had done nothing in his life aside from entertain their idle afternoons. Only I did not stand, being too sick at heart. I did nothing, I said nothing. Was this Christian humility on my part, or merely the cowardice of the silence good men which allows evil men to triumph?

        https://web.archive.org/web/20141229160245/http://www.scifiwright.com/2014/12/the-perversion-of-a-legend

        Liked by 2 people

      8. @Jessica:

        They also try and disguise it by falsely wrapping it up in their religion to make it appear to be respectable.

        Instead they’ve mostly been making their religion look disreputable.

        Liked by 4 people

      9. “he had done nothing in his life aside from entertain their idle afternoons”

        Bigot makes lousy literary critic: Pratchett will be remembered as the greatest satirist since Swift.

        Liked by 4 people

      10. There are works that give a better impresion about faith, that Wright can ever imagine. For him his faith seems to be a weapon to use to hurt others.
        I remember two very good discriptions of faith by Atheist (on the top of my head), one was by JMS in B5, the other was so good that it was praised by priests in Germany. It was in Small Gods by Terry Pratchett. (The main character is that) Pratchett got praised for his discription of faith in a book that is an attack of fundamentalism by priests, while Wright is disliked (by a lot) of followers of the religion he says he defends. Just my two cents.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. Nice Freudian slip here: “ he was no focussing”. No should be now?

    First para could do with a couple of semicolons and/or full stops. Also the D’s could suffer or do poorly in the 2014 elections, but saying both doesn’t seem like a good idea. But these are just the kinds of things one finds in an early draft.

    All I needed to know about Wright is that he can be a self-righteous jerk while making demands of God.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. One of the charateristics of Wright is that he knows less of the history of SF than he pretends to. From misanderstanding the Morlocks to calling Simon Wright evil (as Captain Future is a childhoodmemory that is a big nope) we can find probably a lot of other examples.

    Brad is only The Token Liberal in comparasing to the others. It shows how out of touch the ELoE were. As beeing called The Nice One of the puppys, those were mostly not proven true in the months to come.
    Note that either Brad or Wright can be called the biggest losers of the Debarkle, because they lost the most prestige and writing gigs.
    Brad is also a cautionary tale, how having the wrong friends can harm yourself.
    And last if Korra was so bad, I don’t want to know how Wright reacts to the new She-Ra.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. His website is almost impossible to search. It looks like he had some comments about She-Ra there at one point in time but possibly as metadata rather than text. I’m sure he would have demonstrated less maturity about Adora and Catra kissing than my daughter did though. (My daughter is six.) (She covers her eyes during kissing scenes sometimes regardless of the specifics of who is kissing because they fill her with emotions.)

      Like

      1. Well at the beginning of that he was still publish by Tor. Afterwards not any longer, so he lost a lot (because of his own fault).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Wright, to me, is the worst of the puppies because he betrayed his genuine talents to indulge in the worst aspects of his character.

        Granted, my personal Catholicism has something to do with my reaction: His brand of Catholicism resembles nothing so much as the parodied, otherized Catholicism of the sinister inquisitor or wicked Jesuit in some bad nineteenth-century novel — it’s embarrassing.

        I have Wright’s Chaos trilogy on the shelf somewhere. They’re his last books to receive good reviews from reputable sources, and I’ve always been curious to give them a try, but I don’t think I could get through them knowing what he’s become.

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      3. I remember Wright being talked about when people made lists of “New Space Opera” authors, so much so that I had the impression that he was British (or Scottish) since so many of the others were. I used to keep an eye out for his books, thinking that anyone on a list with Iain Banks could be worth reading. Luckily I never found any, so I never had to read him.

        I used to think about that when he made some brain-numbingly stupid comment, that he’d had a good reputation in the field and was starting to have some success, success that other writers tried to get their whole lives, and then he’d just thrown it all away. I just didn’t get it. My guess is that he’s convinced that he’s some kind of Catholic martyr, losing most of his fans because he couldn’t stay silent about all the “perversions” in the world. Or something like that — mostly, like I say, it’s hard to understand.

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      4. @Matt K:
        Granted, my personal Catholicism has something to do with my reaction: His brand of Catholicism resembles nothing so much as the parodied, otherized Catholicism of the sinister inquisitor or wicked Jesuit in some bad nineteenth-century novel — it’s embarrassing.

        You are not the only Catholic here who feels that way. People like Wright are the reason I know where to find the official Catechism of the Catholic Church online.

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  4. Considering how much the Puppies complained about “message fiction,” it’s worth looking at “Purytans,” by Brad R. Torgersen. (review). This was astonishingly heavy-handed message fiction. In five years of reviews, I saw almost nothing comparable on the other side. (“You Can Make a Dinosaur, but You Can’t Help Me” and “Miranda in Milan” are in the same league, but this kind of thing is really rare.)

    It’s another illustration of them condemning others for things that they themselves are doing. This has become one of the central themes of modern fascism. (And maybe it was for the original kind too.)

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    1. Was the problem with the relativistic pod getting captured by a gravity well the result of Brad not understanding the science? Because Brad frequently displays ignorance concerning the science that appears in stories he writes, which is amusing because he styles himself a hard science fiction guy.

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  5. At the time, I assumed he was a scientific ignoramus, but I saw Kim Stanley Robinson make almost the same mistake in Aurora, so maybe I’m expecting too much understanding of relativity from authors who want to write about it. However, other parts of “Purytans” suggest that the author doesn’t understand the difference between magic and science, though, whereas Aurora is largely scientifically accurate. On the whole, then, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Brad has very little real understanding of science, but I’d need to read more of his work (or actually talk to him for a bit) to be confident of that.

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    1. It’s not so much the relativistic part that is the problem – even in Newtonian mechanics, an object going *very fast* is going to have its path affected to a very small degree, even by a star (I saw the same error in *Aurora* too (along with a few other errors)). Being captured will take (all other things being equal) a slow interaction between the object and the star.

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      1. There’s also the small problem that a single body (like a star) cannot capture a body approaching from interstellar space, unless there’s actual friction.

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  6. Footnote [19] doesn’t seem to be referenced by anything in the text – given what it links to, the reference should presumably come from somewhere in the paragraphs about Lind (and, once one includes all the discussions of tropes, the target looks very much like a case of if you’ve read that, you really don’t need to read the original)

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  7. Greg:

    “There’s also the small problem that a single body (like a star) cannot capture a body approaching from interstellar space, unless there’s actual friction.”

    True – in your review you mention capture by a star and planet, so I gave Brad the benefit of the doubt and assumed a scenario in which the capture involved the gravity of both, which I think is possible (if the object is moving slowly, in just the right way

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  8. Delurking very briefly (because I was aware of the various puppies’ cunning plans only as a very distant observer and have nothing of value to add) but am I the only person who reads ‘Brad Torgerson’ as ‘Buck Turgidson’?

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  9. When I encounter people like Torgersen who think that Star Trek isn’t militaristic enough, I like to tell them that I don’t think it is a military organization at all. Instead it’s more like the US Public Health Service. Officers of the USPHS (and they are all officers, there are no enlisted ranks) have Navy-type ranks and wear Navy-style uniforms, but they’re really more like civil servants with technical or scientific specialties. For some reason, these guys never react well to this suggestion!

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    1. Note that Brad’s military role is in Human Resources. I’m not denigrating the role of these kind of roles in the military (the army has to manage a lot of people and they need a HR department) but just to point out that he actually exists in this kind of quasi-military space.

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      1. Not to mention that as a Warrant Officer he doesn’t command combat soldiers. His role is sort of a glorified office manager.

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    2. I wouldn’t like Star Trek that much if it was as militaristic as some people want it to be. Some people see Star Trek even as military sciencefiction, I would say it often is the oposite of it,

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  10. @simon:

    “That time he mused about killing Terry Pratchett,” whaaaaaat?

    Technically, John C. Wright did not muse about striking (let alone killing) Sir Terry, because technically he didn’t state any name. I’ll let you see for yourself what Mr. Wright said. Technically, the phrase “I sat and listened to pure evil being uttered in charming accents accentuated by droll witticism, and I did not stand up, and I did not strike the old man who uttered them across the mouth” professes to muse not about committing a savage and unprovoked act of violence but rather about failing to commit it, and then mourning one’s imagined failure to confront what one sees as evil. Technically.

    The elements of defamation law are much on my mind, lately, and it’s wise to be careful about what specific allegations of fact one makes, if those allegations are derogatory of some named person’s personal reputation, no matter how one might dislike that person, lest one create a legal cause of action over, say, the person arguably having threatened to commit acts of violence.

    The Wright matter isn’t right near the edge, because accusing someone of musing about striking a beloved and Alzheimer’s-stricken author probably isn’t (if untrue) defamation, but getting that close to the edge makes me cautious. I remember, for example, that my late friend James “The Amazing” Randi got manoeuvred into an expensive slander suit by a long-time associate of his nemesis, a famous and litigious Israeli conjurer who was known to profess to be psychic. The associate taunted Randi from the edge of a crowd, and caught Randi’s angry response on a hidden tape recorder: Randi mentioned something about the associate’s conviction for child molesting, whereas in fact the deeply unsavoury associate had a recent conviction on his rap sheet for child endangerment, and Randi’s off-the-cuff slight inaccuracy, caught on tape, was enough for a legal cause of action.

    Anyway, if Mr. Wright had, say, at a book-signing or convention, moved to attack a highly beloved and doomed “witty, wise, genial, and gentle” author merely for speaking of trying to choose his own form of death rather than a much grimmer one, I believe he would have found out that many things, not least the surrounding and protective fans, make that an exceedingly poor idea.

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  11. As a general editorial comment I come away with the feeling that this is too long. But since you can’t just deliver unsupported conclusions, I don’t know what to tell you to trim. Maybe my reaction is the artifact of having to read so many Wright and Torgersen quotes, which are what the word bloviating was coined for.

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  12. To give a further idea of how tricky law can be, consider the matter of Mr. Wright having been the person who made a particular statement at all. If something obliges me to prove in court that the statement was made by Mr. Wright at all rather than by someone else masquerading as him, can I do that? Can I do that if all I know is that the statement appeared on a blog that is believed to be his, or in an e-mail that is believed to have been sent by him?

    Quite a few years ago, a longtime acquaintance of mine from fandom and the skeptic movement, a Mr. Henson, was among the major critics of Happy Fun Religious Cult, and was outside Happy Fun Cult’s heavily guarded, fenced-off compound in Hemet, California, picketing that “base”. At one point, he sent a joking e-mail post from that location, talking about a fantasy scenario of lobbing in a cruise missile. (Mr. Henson, not being a major government, obviously lacked any such missiles.) After a while, deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department visited with a printout of his jest about a cruise missile, and asked if he were the author. He said “yes”.

    Pro-tip: Whenever you are suddenly faced with an even potentially ominous question from law enforcement, even when you have no idea what this is about (and maybe especially when you have no idea what this is about), the correct answer is always “Please give me your card, and my lawyer will get in touch so we can see about your questions.” Mr. Henson, having not taken that precaution, was charged with (1) attempting to make criminal threats, (2) making criminal threats, and (3) threatening to interfere with freedom to enjoy a constitutional privilege. He made a number of subsequent damaging tactical errors, but the key initial one was being far too forthcoming with that “yes”. Why? Because, absent that “yes”, Riverside County’s DA would have faced the serious obstacle of the hearsay rule. Prosecution would have needed to prove that the e-mail was admissible and even to establish in the eyes of the law that it was from Mr. Henson at all. Henson’s “yes” cut out most of the DA’s obstacles, facilitating Henson’s own prosecution.

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  13. Of possible interest – this thread from James Nicoll https://james-davis-nicoll.dreamwidth.org/8225818.html?view=flat#comments

    Quote from the comments “And that phrase is NOT EVEN PROPER WORD USAGE aaaarrrrrrgggghhhhh. You can’t bow an idol, unless it’s the Great God Cello.”

    and this from Cheryl Morgan http://www.emcit.com/emcit100.shtml#Return which discusses the interactions she had with Wright following her review of “The Golden Age”

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  14. Re the Weisskopf quote, it should either be: “Sarah Hoyt republished” or “According to Hoyt republished”. The ‘At’ just confuses things.

    And I gotta say that I find the Weisskopf quote remarkably odd. First of all, old-school SFF, of which she was/is such a proud proponent, was insanely *full* of one-sided lectures. Jesus, Heinlein’s last 10 or 15 books consisted of little but lectures with action interludes, often featuring swords. Some of them ( – cough – Time Enough For Love, nominated for the Hugo, the Nebula, AND the Locus) have entire sections consisting of nothing but pithy little lectures.

    Seems to me to be another one of those projection takes, where some folks see the “other side” doing what they in fact are doing: “folks just really feel they have no possible conversation with the other side any more” and somehow that’s the left’s fault. Notwithstanding the fact that the non-lefties are the folks who feel that they can’t have a conversation with the others. And you want to talk to ME about how I’m doing all this lecturing?

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  15. Wright’s story about how, as an atheist, he was able to prove the nonexistence of God with mathematical certainty, is the kind of thing that’s unintentionally equally unflattering no matter which way you read it. Like, either that is not an honest account of his past thought process (why would someone who’s so confident in his “logic” suddenly feel a need to try this prayer experiment, with no apparent prompting from any life event?), designed to fit his current ideological view of how unbelievers must think… or it just reflects badly on his idea of what logic is in general and what it can do.

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    1. There’s the reason why C.S. Lewis said, “Really, a young Atheist cannot guard his faith too carefully. Dangers lie in wait for him on every side.”

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    2. If it was a faith healer from his wife’s church who supposedly cured him, then why didn’t he join that church?

      If he’s taking that as proof of God, seems he’d get behind the version that did instant good and has sustained the lady authoress.

      He’s gonna be in trouble if, as it seems, God was sending him an obvious and clear sign to join the faith-healing church.

      Most of my in-laws are Catholic, come in their endless multitudes of siblings and cousins, were altar boys, and went to schools named for saints, and they would stare at JCW in great confusion for claiming to be one of them.

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      1. Wright has been quoted as saying “If Vulcans had a church, they’d be Catholics.” – Vulcans being the entities who are so violent that allowing any emotion (other than brief periods of mating frenzy) at all would lead them to complete destruction. I’m not sure this is a compliment to Catholics…

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      2. If it was a faith healer from his wife’s church who supposedly cured him, then why didn’t he join that church?

        I always find the story funny because after the faith healer “cured” him, he immediately needed multiple heart surgeries, and it never dawned on him that the cadre of surgeons, doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel were what allowed him to survive the trauma him rather than a faith healer.

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    3. As with many self-assigned categories, no way’s ever existed to make persons demonstrate working logic circuits before they may wield the “atheist” label.

      Granting Mr. Wright’s recounting of personal history, he would hardly be the first person who went directly from fervently anti-religious with poor grasp of logic to fervently pro-religious, ditto. At least he spared us details of his prior mathematics-like nonexistence proofs of vague and variously defined concepts. As a mathematician, I’d have found it painful reading.

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      1. What I find amusing is that people label me an atheist, whereas my positition is the much weaker “I see no evidence of a God, and lacking any proof of the existence of one, I thus refuse to believe in him/it/her/them”. Should such proof be furnished, i would be open to changing my mind on the question.

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    4. Of course, JCW was one of those arsehole atheists who can’t shut up about what they don’t believe in only to become one of those arsehole Catholics who give the whole denomination a bad name.

      Though at least the faith healing church dodged the bullet as having Wright as one of their members.

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    5. I find it extremely likely that Wright believed that he could disprove the existence of God, even to the level of mathematical proof. Again, it’s his Objectivist leanings showing. Belief is more than one thing – there’s the level of intellectual assent – if you asked him if he believed it, he’d (probably) say “yes”. Deeper down he may not have been fully convinced – likely he wasn’t at the time of the prayer.

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  16. Bradders was liberal by the standards of people TWO decades before him *in the US*. And his vaunted “military experience” involves being a low-level middle-manager in a cushy billet well behind the lines. Sharing blood with men who’ve been in grunt infantry, tanks, and parachuting into the mountains of Afghanistan… I’m not impressed.

    I do hope you’ll expand upon his time at Scalzi’s blog to include how *regularly* he got his ass handed to him on errors of fact (historical and scientific), his lack of understanding what other people were saying, and his complete inability to logic. I mean, I don’t have a degree either, much less in philosophy like Scalzi, but I managed to comment there for years without being Malleted by him even once, and not embarrass myself, plus come out with more friends than when I went in, plus he very kindly bought me a non-diet Coke once. And I didn’t flounce and reflounce out of Whatever either.

    Brad seemed OK at the 2012 Worldcon where Scalzi was Toastmaster and Resnick was GoH. Seemed nice. He was quite polite to me [I, in return, didn’t comment upon him signing autographs as “Brad T. :)” until later]. So when 2 years later he’s all ELoE… bwuh?

    Also, it’s kinda funny (for values of) that someone who was THAT MUCH into “Star Trek” is so insistent that it never discussed politics. All the serieses have taken plenty of political stands, and just in case (like Brad) you were too thick to understand it, the Captain (regardless of gender or species) would be sure to dramatically monologue about it before the end credits.

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    1. Was he commenting as Sub-Odeon, or were they just very similar? I remember thinking they were probably the same person, but then seeing something that distinguished them, but it was quite a while back now.

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  17. Wright also likes to use the terms “Negress” and “Chinaman.” He banned me for suggesting Dr. Seuss was using racist language.

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      1. Perhaps we should show him the *exact same* amount of respect by calling him “Jon Ryt”.

        I suspect he’s no fan of Pope Frankie, either, what with Il Papa not supporting tire irons being applied to gays. Has Jon Ryt gone full sedevacantist yet?

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  18. I see footnote 14, but for people who don’t read footnotes*, I think that sentence would probably be better as “loosely (or not)” or “(supposedly) loosely”. In case they don’t click through.

    Plus that Wiki link doesn’t show the many, MANY authors who used to be involved with it who’ve since disavowed it completely, cf. Hines, as more and more evidence has come to light that the supposed firewall between the two is basically tissue paper. So maybe find another link in addition? (which must be available somewhere. Rick?)

    Also I’m amused/Spock eyebrowing there that Brad used “the bridge”, which is straight-up terminology of Happy Fun Religious Cult.

    *Particularly by the time they get to Chapter 33.

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    1. I have several Writers of the Future anthologies (they are pretty easy to pick up on the used book market, which is true of most Bridge Publication publications), and the one element that a lot of them have that is simply hilarious is that they trot out some essay or story Hubbard wrote, usually preceded by some glowing introduction praising Hubbard’s writing. Then you read the Hubbard offering and it is invariably just mediocre – obviously written by a hack pounding on the keyboard to churn out as much text as possible because he was paid by the word.

      They really need to stop putting Hubbard’s work in these anthologies if they want to preserve any illusion of his skills as a writer. He wasn’t terrible, but he was definitely a second-stringer at best. Probably a third-stringer. And the anthologies keep heaping praise on him like he was not only an All-Star, but a Hall of Famer.

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      1. I need to give my opinion on Hubbard? OK then. He was a lazy, cynical hack, depending heavily on convenient stereotypes, stock situations, plots resolved by arbitrary auctorial fiat, and lots and lots of flat-out padding. On two or three occasions in his writing for “Unknown”, he tried to be something more than a lazy, cynical hack, and largely failed, because his bad writing habits had become ingrained by then. That’s my take on Hubbard as a writer, FWIW.

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    2. I never took part in Writers of the Future, because in Germany, where Scientology has long since lost its tax-exempt church status, any association with them, no matter how loose, is a lot more harmful than whatever benefits taking part/winning gives you. Besides, the association isn’t as loose as initially claimed.

      That said, I was also always surprised at which writers chose to take part in Writers of the Future. There were noisy atheists and devout members of other religions (e.g. Brad). Why would they associate with an at the very least dodgy religious group just to attend a writing workshop and get published in an anthology very few people read?

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      1. There is a weird intersection between Mormons and the Writers of the Future contest (and to a lesser extent Scientology). I Suspect that it is because Orson Scott Card championed the contest for a long time.

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      2. I wondered the same thing. There are a lot of amateur Latter Day Saint authors, and Writers of the Future has been a successful entry point for many amateurs. “A number of other Mormons have followed Orson Scott Card’s break into the science fiction and fantasy scene. Dave Wolverton, M. Shayne Bell, Susan Kroupa, James Jordan, and Virginia Baker, inspired by Orson Scott Card’s success, have all been winners in L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future contest, the highest-paying contest for amateur writers of science fiction and fantasy—one that is said to draw thousands of participants each year.” https://mormonartist.net/articles/is-it-something-in-the-water/ Ambitious writers who have seen others succeed on a particular path will tend to follow that same path.

        Time will tell if this impression is true, but I suspect that as the less savory connections of the contest become more widely known, fewer writers will pursue that particular path. Many newer LDS authors have no connection to the contest at all. So I think the connection is just the result of Card’s shadow, and is only a temporary effect.

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      3. The less savory connections of the contest have been known for years. But writers who want to get published often want to get published badly enough that they’re willing to make use of dodgy methods (just as the Puppies who wanted Hugo Awards badly enough were willing to make use of dodgy methods to try to get them).

        And when they see a lot of of other writers, especially those of their own faith, who are participating in a writing contest, it’s a lot easier to tell themselves, “Well, there can’t really be anything bad about it, can there – else why would all of these esteemed professional authors be participating as coaches and judges, and why would all of these other aspiring authors be submitting to it? So it must be okay.”

        And that went on for years, until recently, when people were finally willing to speak up and say “I realize now that I was wrong to participate in this and give it legitimacy by doing so”, until it sort of hit critical mass, was acknowledged as a religious dodge, and SFWA delisted it as a Qualified Market.

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      4. So I agree with almost all of that, JJ, especially with how it is easy to discount how something is problematic when you see others you respect or that are part of your community are involved. But I don’t know that the comparison with the Puppies is a fair one- the Puppies knew they were subverting a system by concerted effort. Until the unhealthy associations of the Writers of the Future became known, many people participated in perfectly good faith, and even through it is now well known that it is an unsavory path, you cannot assume people knew that in the past.

        People who thought they were using a legitimate front door, only to realize it was not when later information came out, are not the same as people who knew all along they were coming in through the window. There are still prominent LDS people involved in the contest, and I definitely think they should reconsider, but for a long time it would have looked like a legitimate path, because the publicity that exists on the matter now did not exist then.

        So I agree with all that you said except for the comparison with the Puppies.

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      5. I’m not necessarily saying that they’re the same as Puppies – just that the impulse to find a way to justify something to yourself that helps you get something you want, even if it requires intentional blindness, is the same.

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      6. That’s fair.

        And in the case of LDS authors in particular, I can imagine some may have been slower to realize the criticisms of scientology were legitimate. As members of a religion that is often the recipient of bad faith attacks, many would have initially assumed that the criticism of the scientology connection was just more of the same, and disregarded those criticisms, especially when seeing other LDS people were involved in the contest. So I could see that LDS authors might have multiple temptations to disregard criticism of the scientology connection, at least in the past. Not so much now, when it is very clear that the criticism of scientology was not in bad faith.

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      7. Well, and let’s be clear, it wasn’t just LDS authors who chose to turn a blind eye to the dodgy provenance of the contest, there were plenty of non-LDS authors who did so as well. That’s why it took so long to get to the point where a lot of them finally said “this needs to stop, and I apologize for my role in normalizing it”.

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      8. I participated three times, mostly because Jay Lake encouraged me to (and was either an Honorable Mention or SemiFinalist in the same grouping as Torgerson). Shortly after my last Honorable Mention, I read some convincing work about the lack of separation between Scientology (Deirdre Saiorse Moen) and Scientology, so I never went further with it.

        I kinda go back and forth about citing it as a credential these days. Sometimes I do; sometimes I don’t.

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      9. Like I said above, there were avowed atheists taking part in Writers of the Future. I actually asked one of them why he would associate with Scientology, when he was a noisy atheist (not quite JCW pre-conversion or Richard Dawkins, but really liked to talk about being an atheist). The answer was: “But the contest isn’t associated with Scientology.”

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    3. @Lurkertype, I really don’t think it’s wise to write extemporaneously about the nature and extent of connections, past or otherwise, between WotF and Happy Fun Cult. Happy Fun Cult topics in general are best approached with great caution, with an eye to possible tort-litigation exposure, though that organisation’s ability to act in those areas has been waning.

      If you look around, you can probably find accounts of WotF official events at Religious Technology Center in Los Angeles, staffed and catered by SeaOrg people and/or Author Services Internationa staff. If so, what does that say about the extent of institutional connections between WotF and Happy Fun Cult? You be the judge.

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      1. I have seen such accounts which clearly point out that WotF is held in and catered by Happy Fun Cult-adjacent places and people. I cannot remember the best, most extensive one.

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  19. I thought Wright was a dyed in the wool old Catholic who was around a lot longer in SF. But here it seems he’s an Objectivist Libertarian who became a radicalized extremist from a health scare and threw himself into Catholic League style fundamentalism (so the Opus Dei joke was on target.)

    Brad was never a liberal, no. He was a right-leaning moderate libertarian who got increasingly right wing. (Which some folks claimed was a deliberate strategy of his.) As we saw with the Puppies, Brad sometimes did trolling “jokes” (calling Scalzi gay as an insult) and also was willing to lie, (to and about Annie Bellet, Marko Kloos, etc.) And the claim that he found an email exchange that proved a conspiratorial cabal was trying to block him getting award nominations is a pretty obvious lie.

    The Evil League of Evil was a trolling “joke” which had the same intention as all their other jokes, rants and lies about conspiracy and persecution — to claim non-conservative, marginalized authors and those who were upset with the Puppies’ antics on the Hugos were unreasonable, hysterical and scheming. Change is tyranny, other people who’ve been largely shut out getting a voice or a career success is dangerous, tackling discrimination in the field is a false flag and criticizing conservatives’ attacks on others is irrational and divisive, according to them. But the main point of the Evil League of Evil “joke” was to claim no responsibility for the online harassment mobs (their “minions”) they were sicking on marginalized authors in their hate campaign. People complaining and worrying about that were just making up and exaggerating about them, no need to take it seriously, they insisted. Meanwhile they were crowing about sending Gamergaters, who had already been shown to be violent in offline reality, after authors like N.K. Jemisin, Ann Leckie and Swirsky, exactly like the cartoonish Evil League of Evil.

    Whether the approach was violent authoritarian frothing like Wright and Lind or trying to play the reasonable intellectual like Brad, Hoyt and apparently Toni Weisskopf, it came down to the same basic position of entitlement and false claims of persecution to justify whatever they said and did. And the more they got critiqued for it, the more they had to escalate claims about the size and effectiveness of what they see as threatening, while pretending they weren’t actively pursuing harassment with their wild claims of conspiracy. That escalation would kick into high gear very quickly during Sad Puppies 3.

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  20. I think that if you’re looking to track Brad’s history and pro/regress over time, you should start with his piñata time at Making Light. It displays what I think of Brad’s key characteristics:
    1) His contempt for the people he’s talking to, not disguised nearly as well as he thinks. Part of this is misrepresenting what other people say in order to make himself look better
    2) His inability to say what he thinks and then shut up – he just keeps going!
    3) His unwillingness to change his mind based on new perspectives and new information. I can’t find the post now but he did once admit that he’d never changed his mind based on something he’s read on the internet. I stopped engaging with him after that.
    4) Using his (reserve) military service and wife as rhetorical sword and shield

    He has apparently kicked the habit of shifting on-line pseudonyms when the heat got too much, which is progress.

    Making Light’s “view all by” doesn’t appear functional but I did google up a couple of highlights –

    https://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/008932.html from May 2007 in which Brad (as BRT) misrepresents Patrick’s post in order to create arguments that he then defends Mittens against (#18). After time and bad faith arguments pass, Brad gets disemvoweled and returns as PublicRadioVet (#408) to state what I think is his honest synopsis of the situation. It’s nothing about intellectual honesty or logical problems – no, the real issue to Brad is power and hierarchy and how he’s on the wrong side of that.

    http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/009024.html also from May 2007 in which Brad (as PublicRadioVet) defends Jerry Falwell against those who would think that he was a bad person or perhaps that Falwell was not sincere in his attempts to do good things. We also have a wifely invocation.

    https://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/009119.html from July 2007 with some classic “both sides” hand-wringing over the idea of impeaching George W Bush for lies and incompetence.

    https://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/009542.html from October 2007 – in which Brad (as Community Radio Vet) takes a “devil’s advocate” pro-torture stance

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      1. Oh yeah, it’s certainly Brad. I doubt he would deny it, but I equally doubt his synopsis of what happened would line up with mine.

        I did more searching and found a couple of more threads that could be of interest:

        https://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/009023.html Brad on gender roles and real masculinity (as PublicRadioVet), on a thread that starts with a quote from a Joss Whedon essay. May 2007 again.

        http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/009429.html from October 2007 (as CommunityRadioVet), defending the Iraq war as a self-identified “liberal hawk”. I would tend to agree with a summary of his arguments as “reprehensible and weasel-minded”.

        https://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/010706.html from October 2008 (initially as Sub-Odeon). This is the big one where Brad is outed as having changed from BRT to CRV/PRV to Sub-Odeon, shifting his nym to get a fresh start whenever he felt he’d painted himself into a corner. He also admitted to posting as “Sten”. Lots of disemvowelling in this thread. It’s interesting to re-read the old thread about the chances that the Republicans would resort to more blatant extralegal means to suppress unwanted voters.

        In #118 Brad argues against the simple argument “Democrats good, Republicans bad” which has been said by precisely zero Democrats ever. I had forgotten how often he tried to define both side of the argument, ignoring facts and evidence and what his debating opponents were actually saying.

        I’d also forgotten that the last Making Light thread is after he started posting on Scalzi’s blog, but there are several other common posters who were familiar with Brad and his rhetorical flourishes when he started in Scalziland.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. He kept it tame for awhile over in Scalziland, but yeah, the contempt part often came through. At the time, he was just one of several people who commented at Whatever as “reasonable” right-leaning folk. But he got more right-wing over years and got sat on a lot by Scalzi.

        I honestly was surprised, though, when he took up the Sad Puppies charge, because he did so often try to plant himself in the middle instead of as a conservative. Hearing about his doing sock puppets at Making Light, though, makes a lot of things clearer.

        Like

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