Debarkle Chapter 35: January

[content warning: discussion of terror attacks, Islamophobic slurs, transphobia and racism]

January 2015 started as a normal year: fireworks over Sydney Harbour, global warming inching further to disaster and America embroiled in seemingly endless wars. On January 7, Europe and America were shocked by the mass shooting at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in Paris. The attack was an Al-Qaeda connected terror operation in retaliation to the magazine’s satirical cartoons about the Prophet Mohammed. Although condemned by many Muslim groups, the attack would be exploited by far-right groups to promote Islamophobia and attacks on immigrants. Naturally, Vox Day blamed the attacks on “diversity” and renewed his support for overt anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-left violence by appealing to the example set by a far-right mass child-murderer:

“But the first shots in Reconquista 2.0 have already been fired; they were fired in Norway by Anders Breivik. And that is the terrible point to which multiculturalism and diversity and tolerance has brought the West: the choice between Breivik and Hebdo. Many have embraced the hashtag #JeSuiCharlie, but as Iowahawk wisely noted, never bring a candlelight vigil to a gunfight.”

Day would also use the attack as a pretext to attack fantasy author Saladin Ahmed, calling him a “token Mahometan” and “an affirmative action nominee for the Hugo, Nebula, Crawford, Gemmell, and British Fantasy awards” as well as suggesting he was homophobic[1].

While the horrific attack in Paris was the major news story of January 7, 2015, it was a lesser event in the history of the Debarkle. Overshadowing world events was an essay by Brad Torgersen. In big bold letters, his blog announced:

“Announcing SAD PUPPIES 3!”

Torgersen went on to explain:

“The Hugo awards window (for 2015’s nominations) will be open soon. As one of Baen’s newest authors, I wanted to be be the first guy out of the gate with SAD PUPPIES 3. For those of you who don’t know what SAD PUPPIES is, it’s a (somewhat tongue in cheek) running effort to get stories, books, and people onto the Hugo ballot, who are entirely deserving, but who don’t usually get on the ballot. Largely because of the nomination and voting tendencies of World Science Fiction Convention, with its “fandom” community. In the last decade we’ve seen Hugo voting skew more and more toward literary (as opposed to entertainment) works. Some of these literary pieces barely have any science fictional or fantastic content in them. Likewise, we’ve seen the Hugo voting skew ideological, as Worldcon and fandom alike have tended to use the Hugos as an affirmative action award: giving Hugos because a writer or artist is (insert underrepresented minority or victim group here) or because a given work features (insert underrepresented minority or victim group here) characters.”

Like Larry Correia’s earlier campaigns, Torgersen complained that the Hugo Awards had become too literary rather than entertaining. However, Torgersen was more upfront about the political aspect. While he didn’t cite examples, just like Vox Day he regarded many Hugo finalists as there due to “affirmative action” because of either who wrote it or because of aspects of the characters.

Torgersen would go on to explain the purpose of the earlier Sad Puppy campaigns:

“Likewise, the Hugos tend to be a raw popularity contest, for all definitions of “popular” that include “Trending with Worldcon.” Which may or may not have anything whatsoever to do with actual sales success on the open market. And that was Correia’s original point: if the Hugos really are the preeminent award in SF/F how come the Hugos so often ignore works and people who are, in fact, successful ambassadors of the genre to the consumer world at large? What the heck is going on here?”


Torgersen’s solution would be to compile a slate (the term he used) for a variety of Hugo categories and to encourage a “few dozen” people to vote for it. The Hugo Awards may not have been “affirmative action” but Torgersen was going to affirmatively take action to boost some authors he felt had been systemically discriminated against.

In the comments, people began suggesting works for Torgersen to include. Torgersen confirmed that his own novel Chaplain’s War (an extension of an earlier short story) was eligible for the Hugo Awards[2]. A few days later, he had second thoughts and explained: “I am probably going to recuse myself from SAD PUPPIES 3”[3]. He also had another stab at explaining the approach of the campaign:

“SAD PUPPIES isn’t about nepotism. It’s about trying to put people (and works) on the list that would not ordinarily wind up on the list. No offense to Leckie, but she was the beneficiary of a lot of affirmative action voting. I’d like to see some people (who would never show up on the affirmative action radar) get at least a Hugo nomination, for being better-than-good writers who have gifted the genre with some tremendous work. Right now, too many nominations are made purely because the author is (gay/transexual/female/non-white) or the main characters are (gay/transexual/female/non-white) and this allows the voting body to give itself warm fuzzies for being progressive/inclusive.”

The logic was clear even if the supporting evidence was thin. From his perspective too many Hugo finalists were being chosen by voters because either the author or majors characters were one or all of:

  • gay
  • transgender
  • women
  • people of colour

Instead, Sad Puppies 3 would aim to get people and works nominated that would not otherwise get nominated. It is a small leap of logic to assume that meant people who were not gay, transgender, women or people of colour (i.e. cis-straight white men, who had dominated Hugo Award nominations for decades) but it was still a leap — that wasn’t quite what his words implied and also none of the Puppy campaigns previously nor Torgersen himself was known for logical consistency. Nevertheless, there was a reasonable inference that Torgersen was expecting a whiter, straighter and more male result from the campaign.

How would this be accomplished?

“I think it’s fair for somebody to push back and say, “Okay, you go ahead and nominate for whatever reasons you like, it’s time for a different bunch of us to do the same; and do it in a coordinated fashion that somewhat offsets the predictable biases and tendencies of the usual Hugo voting body.””

I believe it is fair to assume that Torgersen was not aiming to sweep the Hugo Awards but rather create a balancing force against what he perceived as a bias. Intent and actions are different things though.

Fellow Evil League of Evil member, John C Wright alerted his blog followers to Torgersen taking up the mantle of Sad Puppy leader[4] and that they should leave suggestions of works to nominate at Torgersen’s blog. Inevitably, many people suggested various works by John C Wright, including Wright’s wife L. Jagi Lamplighter[5].

Vox Day (as “VD”) also turned up in the comments a few days later, not to make any specific suggestions but he did assert that “At least one of my short stories published in 2014 is qualitatively better than any of the short stories that were nominated last year.”[6]

Prior to Torgersen’s announcement of Sad Puppies 3, Day had produced a less ambitious eligibility post of the kind that many award contenders release at that time of year. His list included one novel he wrote (Quantum Mortis: A Mind Programmed[7]), three short stories and an essay from his blog (for Best Related Work). However, he didn’t at this point note his eligibility in other categories such as the editor categories. The wider purpose of both Day’s posts and Torgersen’s later post was to encourage people to sign up for 2015 Worldcon (known as “Sasquan”) membership so that they would be eligible to nominate works. Day made this effort more explicit:

“If you want to get in on the action, you can join Sasquan 2015 here. I tend to suspect $40 for two years of voting rights will provide even more entertainment bang for your buck than it did last year. Also, note that you can buy two memberships, so long as the second one is marked “Guest of X”.”

Naturally, Day did not overtly order people to buy two memberships so as to gain two votes.

Torgersen’s announcement caught the eye of not just the Evil League of Evil. Mike Glyer at File 770 noticed the arrival of Sad Puppies 3 the same day saying “if you felt something pushing against your “Worldcon fandom zeitgeist” today — that’s because the dogs are off the leash!”[8].

The next day editor and proprietor of the venerable Amazing Stories, Steve Davidson was also expressing his concern about yet another Hugo campaign.

“In putting forth a Hugo Awards Voting slate specifically to support a political agenda (as opposed to the marginally acceptable custom of touting works that are eligible through qualification), the argument is advanced that there are authors, editors and artists who are deserving of nomination yet never make it to the ballot.  Rather than blaming this on the staggering volume of works eligible each year, or a lack of proper and effective promotion and advertising on the part of publishers, blame is placed on the politics of fandom: “Hugo voting skew ideological, as Worldcon and fandom alike have tended to use the Hugos as an affirmative action award…”

Davidson overtly avoided naming Torgersen and the Sad Puppy campaign in the hope of preventing the argument over the slate becoming personalised. German indie-SF author and fan writer Cora Buhlert had broader questions about Hugo self-promotion in general noting the trend about Hugo discussions getting earlier each year. The first eleven paragraphs of her post were not related to the Sad Puppy campaign specifically but the wider discussion on self-promotion but then moved on to Torgersen’s complaints:

“What always strikes me about those arguments – apart from the fact that the best antidote to nominating authors because of their demographics and political views rather than the merit of their work is apparently nominating authors because of their political views rather than the merit of their work – is that the Sad Puppies genuinely seem to believe that their ideas of what makes a work good or entertaining are universal and that everybody else nominates works they don’t actually like, just because the author has the right credentials or the work ticks the right boxes. After all, it can’t possibly be that people nominate works the Sad Puppies find boring, because – gasp – they actually enjoy them.”

Brad Torgersen responded to the multiple posts announcing a third set of unhappy hounds with a new post by paraphrasing conservative thinker William F. Buckley Jr’s famous maxim about conservatism[9].

“SAD PUPPIES simply holds its collective hand out — standing athwart “fandom” history — and yells, “Stop!””

Torgersen also made another attempt to outline the objectives of the Sad Puppy campaign. This time he listed three.

  1. “Get works and authors onto the Hugo ballot who might not otherwise be there; regardless of political persuasion. “
  2. “Encourage people who are SF/F consumers (but not “fandom” according to Worldcon) to participate in the nomination and selection of works.”
  3. Get “Hugo categories re-structured so that consumer sectors like gaming are not ignored.”

There was no indication that Torgersen had any idea how to achieve point-3 and it seems to be an evolving idea. He finished with this paragraph:

“If SAD PUPPIES happens to make a few people cry a Grinchy boo-hoo-hoo along the way, and if we give the Hyper-Progressive Pissypants Club (HPPC) heartburn because we’re ruining things by trying to get the larger SF/F consumer world involved . . . well, that’s just a cross we’re prepared to bear — with a large cup of soda in one hand, and a big bucket of theater popcorn in the other.”


The campaign was going to be fun (according to Torgersen) and if some people got upset well…that was their problem.

Torgersen followed that post up with a third on January 21. This was following a similar strategy that Larry Correia had adopted for Sad Puppies 2: have a series of posts in January to encourage people to sign up for Worldcon memberships in advance of nominations opening. This third post also unveiled a logo for the Sad Puppy campaign. Created by an online artist Artraccoon, the logo featured three puppies in space suits and sad expressions, with a limp rocket flying/descending in an arc behind them. Torgersen introduced the characters by name:

“And when the three puppy astronauts — Ray, Isaac, and Frank — observed the lay of the alien land on Hugo World, they let out a forlorn howl. For they saw nothing but tedious ‘message’ fiction, depressing talk-talk stories about amoral people with severe ennui, and literary MFA novels. Not a rocketship nor a ray gun in sight. ‘Can someone please give us some explosions?’ the puppies cried in unison. ‘I mean, we were promised explosions! And kick-ass laser battles! And all we got were some lousy t-shirts that said, This is what a feminist looks like! We don’t want that stupid crap! We came to have fun! At least give us loud bowling shirts with babes on them; like the one that comet guy wore!’” [10]

In the comments, notable GamerGate figure Daddy Warpig announced:

Some people in #GamerGate got the word today:
Yo, #GamerGate!
SJW invaded sci-fi / fantasy publishing long ago. They rule with an IRON FIST.This makes puppies sad. : (
— Daddy Warpig (@Daddy_Warpig) January 21, 2015
And yes, I am registered as a Supporting member. Awaiting nomination suggestions with bated breath. (MH: Nemesis for best novel. Because obvious reasons.)

Although Larry Correia had officially retired from leading the Sad Puppies, he also put out a call to action with the Sad Puppy 3 logo front and centre.

“Last year I did a big push with several blog posts and cartoons (featuring Wendell as our spokesmanatee) to try to get people who aren’t typical WorldCon attendees to participate. We managed to get people and things despised by SJWs nominated to almost every category. The ensuing public freak out was hilarious and proved my point.”

Correia went on to explain that he was swamped with a big writing project and hence had handed over the campaign to his friend Brad Torgersen. In the comments, Torgersen explained again what he was fighting against:

“As Nathan notes, the real scrimmage is in the nominations. The SJWs have very specific criteria for theirs: they want gay authors, female authors, transexual authors, non-Caucasian authors. AND THIS IS A HARD RULE which they will seldom break.
You can be none of the above, but your book or story must focus on:
Gay characters, female characters, transexual characters, and non-Caucasian characters.”

Elsewhere, other blogs were rallying in support of Sad Puppies 3. The Mad Genius Club had multiple posts discussing the campaign to some degree. On January 17, Cedar Sanderson dedicated half her weekly Mad Genius Club post to explaining the Sad Puppies 3 campaign:

“Keep in mind something, because no matter how much you hear it, this isn’t about politics. This is about making the Hugo more relevant to the greater fandom, as Brad discusses below, and it’s about keeping the Hugo great. It would be truly sad to lose the award of once-greatness into the morass of thinly-disguised revenge porn and poorly written (but socially relevant! To… someone, I’m assuming at least the author, although then again, marketing being what it is…) books that have turned the Hugo award on the cover from must-buy to ew, putting this down now. So let’s work on finding some really great books to nominate, and gathering interested voters who care. I’m an example of someone who didn’t vote for years, and last year, I finally did it. I’ll do it again this year.”

The claim that “this isn’t about politics” does not make a lot of sense given Torgersen’s stated aims and objections. Sad Puppies 3 had been expressly opposed to what Torgersen regarded as an ideological bias in the Hugo Awards. Looking at Sanderson’s statement as generously as possible, her focus was on the supposed “literary” bent in the Hugo Awards (hence what is probably a swipe at the 2014 Hugo short story finalist If You Were A Dinosaur My Love) but also that the campaign would not only promote conservative or right-leaning authors.

There really isn’t a way of reading many of these early claims by Sad Puppy supporters without understanding that they were holding ideas that were mutually incompatible. Sarah Hoyt on January 22 was already complaining that Brad Torgersen and Sad Puppy supporters were being unfairly maligned:

“You see, the SJW who was sensitivity-bombing Brad Torgersen’s thread the other day was saying that we don’t have LGBT, Women, People of Interesting Nationalities, Little Brownz Peoples People of tan People who are barely darker than I People who are not extremely pale in science fiction and fantasy because we don’t write for them. It’s sort of a faith in “if we write it, they will come.” It’s a little dopey faith, but very, very sincere.”

And yet, the campaign was overtly (according to Torgersen) there as a counterbalance to people who had been voting for books by authors (or featuring characters) who were women, gay, transgender or people of colour.

A few days after Cedar Sanderson’s Mad Genius post, fellow blogger Dave Freer added to the roster of Sad Puppy posts at the site. Freer regarded the socio-political pendulum as having swung too far left after 2007 and that somebody needed to correct this:

“I don’t really care where you sit on the political spectrum, what is happening in sf/fantasy needs the brakes put on that pendulum. Over the years there have been some great writers from across the spectrum, and we’re all poorer for losing that. Yet that’s exactly what has happened. I’d hard put to put an exact date on it, but when the Hugo and Nebula awards slipped over into being entirely left wing, and gradually further and further left-wing.” [11]

Freer was convinced that this correction had already begun, that a cultural shift was occurring that would push back at the new left-wing orthodoxy:

“It all shapes up for pretty mess. I reckon in the next ten years the pendulum will swing very hard and far. I hope those on the winning side of that bit of future history will have the sense to not push the pendulum higher when sense says to damp it. It’s probably 30 years off, at least, so I’ll be dead. Not my problem any more.”


Freer’s advice to the leftist he imagined were controlling science fiction?

“If you are one of the other side, try panic. It looks good on you. Seriously, if you don’t want far left wing intersectionality crushed… and books and authors who write what you want to see, driven out, and get what you’ve handed out, you better start damping that pendulum down. I think last year’s Hugo Awards was about your last real chance, but you could all get together in your little cabals and nominate something other than the totally improbable usual suspects.”


Freer believed that the left were coordinating in “cabals” to nominate the kinds of works the Sad Puppy campaign was opposing. This more conspiratorial set of beliefs was a quieter (and deniable) subtext in Torgersen’s posts but was an inevitable next step in trying to rationalise the incompatible beliefs behind Sad Puppies 3.

At Mad Genius Club the posts by Sanderson and Freer were followed by pro-Sad Puppy posts by Kate Paulk and Amanda Green[12], as well another one from Freer:

“You see I think the Hugo organizers and regular Worldcon fans have the whole damn thing all wrong. It’s a book which is great and popular with a wider audience that lends cachet, legitimacy to the award, and recognition to Worldcon, not the other way around. Redshirts and Ancillary Justice wins did little for their authors, and damage to the Hugos. Being seen to be fair and reasonable OUTSIDE their circle counts. Inside is irrelevant -they believe it anyway. It’s up to the very small minority of sf readers who go and support the WorldCon and Hugo status quo to play nice if they want credibility, and, um, support for what is a shrinking Con, and one heading for being as marginalized and irrelevant as some the literary left-wing Cons.”

Meanwhile, Brad Torgersen and Larry Correia were still drumming up support. Part of that led Correia onto the Google+ Hangouts/YouTube show “Geek Gab” hosted by Correia fans and Gamergate supporters Brian Niemeier and Daddy Warpig.

Warpig invited his audience to take part:

“If you want to be involved in either embarrassing or infuriating social justice warriors who have had an iron grip on science fiction and fantasy publishing for a good decade and a half or two decades now, get involved in nominating for the Hugos, get involved in voting for the Hugos.” [13]

Correia’s writing advice on the show was simple: “story first, message fiction second”. This was a return to Correia’s theme from earlier Sad Puppy campaigns, that the winning Hugo stories were not good stories. Combining Correia’s thesis with Dave Freer’s point that it is the quality of the works that lend cachet to award, not vice-versa, a clear challenge was emerging for Sad Puppies 3. While the various members of the so-called Evil League of Evil had their own personal criteria for success, Freer had unwittingly hit the nail on the head for the Sad Puppies 3 campaign. To succeed it would need to not just get different works on the ballot than usual or finalists that would discombobulate “SJWs” but to actually get demonstrably BETTER works on the Hugo ballot than would otherwise have been picked.

To do that, Sad Puppies 3 would need not just a slate of works but a carefully curated set of works that somehow was not the works by gay people, transgender people, women and people of colour[14] that would otherwise have been nominated, while not actually objecting to works by gay people, transgender people, women and people of colour, and also getting all those supposed great works by conservative authors who were unfairly discriminated against onto the ballot while still being politically diverse AND getting BETTER works onto the ballot. It was a tall order!

Work had started in Torgersen’s first Sad Puppy post, with readers making many suggestions but what process would be used to winnow those suggestions down to a viable slate was unclear. The task of picking the Sad Puppy slate would not be complete until February arrived…

Next Time: Sad Puppies 3 — The Slate!



95 responses to “Debarkle Chapter 35: January”

  1. Jesus, I hate to keep banging away at this, but Sarah Hoyt is a real piece of work, isn’t she? It’s hard to read that paragraph from her (featuring the interesting construction “Little Brownz Peoples People of tan People who are barely darker than I”) without thinking ‘racist much?’ Particularly in light of the explosion of great fiction over the last five years from folks *much* darker than Hoyt. Off the top of my head, I can think of recent works by P.J. Clark, R. Roanhorse, N.K. Jemisin, Bodard and N Okorafor that beat to shit anything Hoyt has produced over the last 10 years.

    I also feel compelled to point out that while searching for images of her (following up on her ‘barely darker’ language), I also came across this quote from 2016: “Part of my credo is, ‘I don’t get fired,’” she says. “If the publishing houses try to fire me I come back with something else.”” According to Wikipedia, the only two publishers she’s published with since that time are Baen and something called “Goldport Press.” Interestingly enough, Goldport Press is based in Goldport, Colorado, the state in which Hoyt lives, and the town of Goldport is the setting for a series of mysteries authored by Hoyt under the name ‘Elise Hyatt.” Make of that what you will. “I don’t get fired” indeed.

    Liked by 5 people

    • I tried reading fiction by Sarah Hoyt. I decide I’d rather have my eyes gouged out than do that again. Seriously she’s a really shitty writer. But then most of the Puppies aren’t really great writers, are they?

      Liked by 3 people

    • Hoyt’s had short fiction published in several anthologies by Baen and by Chris Kennedy in the last couple of years, and in the time after the Puppy campaigns, she was given co-author credit on a Baen book with KJA in 2018 and one with Correia in 2019. But her last novel published by Baen was Darkship Thieves #5 in 2017, and I seem to remember her posting a rant about Baen which appeared to be a response to them dropping her as an author.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yeah, she’s been trying to get the rights back to the Darkship books. The book with KJA was part of a series but Baen had two other authors write book 2 (that’s not unusual for Baen and may have been always the plan)


    • Which all means she’s self-publishing, the “press” name is that of her fictitious town…

      … and even SHE won’t publish someone named “Sarah Hoyt”.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I also wonder what on Earth Freer thinks went wrong with the Hugos in 2007, since in 2007, 2008 and 2009, all but one of the finalists in Best Novel are novels written by men and every single author is white and cissexual. It’s also a bunch of fairly mainstream SF novels with two fantasy novel and a literary-leaning alternate history novel.

    From 2010 on, we have novels by women writers on the ballot every single year, but it’s still all very mainstream SFF works. And between 2010 and 2015, there’s only one author of colour on the ballot in Best Novel, namely Saladin Ahmed.

    Wherever the Hugos were dominated by transgender lesbians of colour in 2007 to 2015, it wasn’t in this universe.

    Liked by 2 people

      • 2007 was very male dominated, true, but both 2008 and 2009 had all-male best novel shortlists. 2008 only had four female finalists in the fiction categories altogether, though two of them (Elizabeth Bear and Connie Willis) won. 2008 also had only one finalist of colour, Ted Chiang, who also won.

        2009 had four female fiction finalists, two of whom (Nancy Kress and Elizabeth Bear) won, and one finalists of colour, again Ted Chiang, who also won. So maybe that’s Freer’s problem. That even though there were very few women finalists and finalists of colour in the fiction categories, all three short fiction categories were won by women or POC in the form of Ted Chiang during those years.


  3. Typo patrol:

    the Hugo Awards had become to literary rather than entertaining.

    s/b too

    too many Hugo finalists where being chosen

    s/b were

    Here’s where we start getting “message fiction” starting up as a code word for “fiction with messages we disapprove of”. I still shake my head at the irony of the movement complaining about “message fiction” nominating Wright’s “Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” — a literal Christian sermon. At some point in this whole book, I hope you bring in Steve Rzasa’s blog post where he says straight out that the whole point was to promote the right messages. I can probably track it down for you if that will help.

    Liked by 2 people

      • I remember one Puppy supporter on File 770 who was absolutely insistent that Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series is “message fiction”. For those who haven’t read it, Aaronovitch’s series is light, breezy, formulaic fun about a policeman investigating magical crimes. There is literally no discernible political stance or worldview in it, it’s just Entertainment Product, popcorn reading (though very enjoyable popcorn reading indeed — I read the first five books in a week.
        I eventually figured out what the commenter’s actual reason for thinking the books were “message fiction” was — the protagonist is Black, and like many Black people in London, his parents are immigrants. That’s it. That’s the only thing I could find in those books that was close to a political message. “Black people exist”.


      • I’ve read the Rivers of London books as well, and there’s another couple of points worth mentioning. First, the protagonist also has magic powers. So Black immigrants exist, and can have magic powers, and can be the protagonist and have adventures.

        Also, it’s been a while since I’ve read them, but I seem to recall that the personifications/avatars/embodiments of the Rivers themselves were also sometimes persons of colour. So, also, the narrative posits magical powers of England, which, when seeking avatars/embodiment, do not care about anything like pure Anglo-Saxon heritage.

        Oh, and there are also many strong female characters, just in case misogyny is another hot button.

        I have the strong suspicion that if directly queried, the individual would not be able to articulate what the problem was; what “message” the fiction was supposedly containing. But if bluntly asked “Does it have something to do with the races of the protagonist and other main characters?”, they would proudly sneer “You brought up race, so you’re the racist!”.


        Liked by 1 person

    • Quite right: puppies identify message fiction and ideology as ideas they disagree with. Presumably the ideas they hawk are just “right”.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Wright is also the one who claimed somewhere that his writing was literary, even though Torgersen was as much against lit-fic as he was against message fiction. At that point you have to wonder, Do you people even *talk* to each other???

      Liked by 5 people

  4. “gay people, transgender people, women and people of colour”

    I’m pretty sure those categories add up to at least 90 percent of the human race.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Who was it that promised them explosions and kick-ass laser battles? Pretty sure it wasn’t Ray or Isaac or Frank but whoever it was, that’s who they should have complained to.

    Liked by 3 people

      • Perhaps, but he was a writer best known for highly political fiction, much as Isaac was. Ray, not so much. Too literary. None of them were good puppy role models.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Isaac was more interested in explaining how the ray gun works than in using it for battles. He also keeps the space battles steadfastly off stage and the pivotal scenes are mostly people talking. Finally, Isaac is on record for not liking scantily clad ladies on the covers of his SFF. Frank has more trudging through the desert than action in many parts. And Ray is more interested in recreating Waukegan, Illinois, on Mars than in laser battles. A few of his early stories actually do feature battles, but often the aftermath thereof or non-combatants heroically sacrificing themselves.

        In short, neither of them provided the nutty nuggets that Brad wants. However, I strongly suspect that Brad has never read them, just as he hasn’t read anything else..

        Liked by 3 people

  6. > From his perspective too many Hugo finalists where being chosen by voters because

    s/b were being chosen.

    Unrelated, great quote from this week’s Cocktail Chemistry Lab: “Amaro and bourbon go together like peanut butter and chocolate.”


  7. “Encourage people who are SF/F consumers (but not “fandom” according to Worldcon) to participate in the nomination and selection of works.”

    This is really the heart of it. The Puppies claimed that the attendees of WorldCon, a commercial genre convention that changes locations and to large degree voting make-up every year, were not the real SFF fans, were the wrong sort of fans who were voting wrong. That real SFF fans didn’t go and participate in or support WorldCon. That it had been turned into an elitist, academic, literary-minded, SJW-obsessed clubhouse that kept real (conservative cishet white men) fans away somehow so that it could give awards for marginalized virtue and literary obscurity. The fact that the nominees for Best Novel were always bestsellers didn’t count because they were the wrong bestsellers or fake bestsellers. That here was this prestigious prize and the wrong, not real SFF fans kept hogging it for things that were prestigious but not supposedly the right kind of prestigious, the non-marginalized kind of prestigious. That the real SFF fans didn’t know what the Hugo was and the wrong WorldCon fans who voted for the Hugos were ignoring all the books and writers real SFF fans loved, which were definitely not stories about marginalized people from marginalized authors who were progressive. Because progressive SFF fans and authors aren’t the real SFF fans and authors, etc.

    It was an imaginary and ridiculous portrait of WorldCon attendees and Hugo voters. It was a lie. It’s the same sort of lie that reactionaries like the Puppies continually do — make a fake portrait of people in their targeted out group that declares them unreasonable, illegitimate and threatening. And announce that the real folk will now take back the goodies from that portrait they made up. If the first lie is debunked, make a new version of it or come up with another one, even if it completely contradicts the first claim, and repeat. Here is why WorldCon Hugo voters are bad and wrong and fake, they kept declaring, and why we must let the good, real (conservative white) people know and come give us the goodies and acclaim instead. The SJW cabal is all powerful but only because it huddles together in the shadows, they claimed.

    It’s funny, really it is, except it’s not, certainly not looking back at it. Recently, a white guy in San Jose, CA with a gun obsession and a history of violence was facing a disciplinary hearing for discriminatory, racist behavior towards his colleagues. So he came into the rail yard and shot nine of them dead. He had the same political views about marginalized people as the Puppies. It was the 225th mass shooting of 2021 in the U.S. Ninety percent of these mass shooters are white men with easy access to guns, a history of domestic violence and the same political views about marginalized people as the Puppies. The Puppies’ campaign declared Hugo voters to be wrong fans who liked wrong things because they liked marginalized authors and/or stories. The Puppies declared marginalized SFF authors — who have historically been mostly shut out of the field and of its accolades — as wrong authors, as hacks who got rigged votes, because they were both marginalized and had the view that they deserved equality in the field and the workplace. The Puppies sicked Gamergater online trolls whom they knew to be violent on those marginalized authors for being the wrong authors. They didn’t care who got hurt. They just made accusation after malevolent accusation that the marginalized authors who believed in equality and the “wrong” fans who voted for them were stealing from the right people and needed to be made angry and scared — to have their heads explode. It could have been literally had their heads exploded, with a bullet. The Puppies didn’t care.

    So yeah, Camestros, you’ve got your parallel with the political movements. Because it isn’t a parallel — it’s the same line. The Puppies enjoyed playing patriotic “right fan” militia for a couple of years, trying to make people afraid of them, trying to feel righteously powerful. And then they whined when they got what they wanted.

    Liked by 4 people

      • Just wait until we get to Torgersen accusing me of wanting to put him and his in a Boxcar! (presumably to a concentration camp)

        A fundamental truth is that people who are fundamentally honest tend to believe other people are honest unless proven otherwise, and people who are fundamentally dishonest tend to believe other people are dishonest no matter what evidence is offered.

        The Puppies are, taken as a group, are fundamentally dishonest, and the people who tried to engage with their arguments were, as far as I can tell, fundamentally honest. This is why the Pups’ arguments never made any consistent sense – they never actually believed any of them, they were just advancing dishonest claims in order to cover their actual reasons for the Puppy campaigns, since they knew that “get Larry a Hugo” and “too many women and people of color are winning awards” were unacceptable reasons.

        But because their claims were all dishonest, there was never any consistency – and since they believe that everyone else is as dishonest as they are, they expected everyone to know that. Consequently, when people tried to engage with their claims at face value, they assumed that those people were just trying to wind them up – you were expected to know that their claims were just pretexts and not try to challenge them. Trying to engage with the Pups’ claims was, in their view, simply being rude as a result.

        The fundamental dishonesty of the Pups is also the reason why they believe that Hugo voters were not voting for stories for the reasons Hugo voters said they were voting for them (i.e. based upon the quality of the finalists). After all, the Pups were dishonest about their reasons for slating, and since they believe everyone else is just as dishonest as they are, they simply assumed that the Hugo voters’ stated reasons were also pretexts.

        Basically, everything about the Pups makes a lot more sense once you realize that they are all liars and assume that everyone else is also liars.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Also, this argument unfortunately foreshadowed the current argument by Republicans all over the US: The WRONG people are voting.

      In April, the National Review published a column (here: arguing in essence that the wrong folks were voting. Here’s a quote: “Why shouldn’t we believe the opposite? That the republic would be better served by having fewer — but better — voters?” Too many poor people, too many uneducated people, too many wrong people, are messing up the results.

      Liked by 6 people

      • I’m reminded of the scene in Ninotchka, where Greta Garbo’s character is enthusiastically describing how well the show trials are going in Russia: “We will have fewer but better Russians!”

        Liked by 4 people

    • One of the things they kept saying over and over, to the point where I think they really believed it, was that there were huge numbers of people like them, that their preferred works were the most popular bestsellers. I think at least some of them really believed that “their side” was a majority being held down by a minority cabal. Actual events would seem to have proved that they were and are just a niche market.

      Liked by 4 people

      • There were multiple levels to that delusion. One part that I think they sort of got right is that a the Hugo winners would not be the first choice of a majority of SF fans (for some generous definition of fans)…but that’s just the nature of singling out works. There’s no books that a majority of fans for any expansive definition of ‘fans’ that would have majority approval. The field is just to big.

        Liked by 2 people

      • DG –

        I suspect you’re right about their delusional sales estimates. Remember how VD kept claiming that John Scalzi’s sales numbers must be faked, because no-one they knew were reading his stuff? And that his multi-book deal with Tor was sure to drive Tor into bankruptcy because there was no way his real sales could justify the terms of the deal.

        sounds real close to “Trump won. Biden isn’t the real President,” doesn’t it?

        Liked by 4 people

        • Conservatives have a long history of arguing that Popular Thing X is really very conservative — hence lists of 50 Great Conservative Rock Songs, 50 Great Conservative movies — reassuring each other that popular taste is on their side.
          My favorite example (I may have mentioned this here before) was National Review predicting Brokeback Mountain would be a box-office bomb among the simple, moral people of the American heartland. When it did very well with the simple, moral people of the American heartland, there was a follow-up article explaining it’s a really conservative movie about manly men who refuse to let their women tie them down and domesticate their wild male spirit.

          Liked by 3 people

      • They didn’t believe it so much as they felt it should be right and demanded the claims be treated as right. The reality is that 80-90% of the English language market are white authors. Women are still under-represented in awards. 80% of award winners are white and usually men. 90% of the publishing industry is white. None of that was a natural happening — it was systematic discrimination. It has only improved a tiny bit in SFF or elsewhere over decades. But the Puppies lied and said that countering that systemic discrimination even a little bit is tyranny and taking over. Because even if it wasn’t factual, emotionally they feel the threat to their status if systematic discrimination lessens. When your identity is your supposedly “natural” artificial right to dominate, then you believe feeling any less of that status is a cruel plot. And they never feel that they are getting enough of that status.

        Likewise, declaring the factual reality that the marginalized are an equal and in some ways greater part of the audience than cishet white men must for them be countered with the lie that people just like them represented the popular majority instead. That numerous cishet white guys also like works by marginalized authors must also be refuted. All the novels for Best Novel are again bestsellers. They have to be to get enough votes in the Hugos. But the Puppies pretended that they weren’t because that felt better, making their cause more worthy and marginalized authors more inferior.

        And the Puppies were indulged for all of those feelings. Because the industry and those who run things in fandom are overwhelmingly white and used to societies which are still white supremacist and sexist dominated. And because the Puppies were a bunch of upset white people, they had to be heard out, no matter how much they lied. They had to be validated for calling marginalized authors tyrants and cheats. They had to be soothed, reassured, have their viewpoints debated and declared to have a few good points. People patiently debunked each of their lies, one by one, with factual history. They just made new lies. The Puppies threatened violence through the Gamergaters and that was accepted and people who were upset about it were told to stop making a fuss. If the marginalized or their allies showed anger and upset about having their right to exist, be involved in SFF and publish fiction be declared tyranny and false skullduggery, they were told to stop acting that way, be quiet, listen to and be nice to the Puppies and keep debating their increasingly ridiculous lies, make them feel better. The systemic hierarchy was very much in effect, especially in 2014-2015.

        The Puppies’ violent bigotry culminated in Lou trying to swat a gay man and the entire Hugo Awards banquet. Marginalized people who were upset about that threat were told to stop being upset and making a big deal about it, smooth things over with the Puppies and their little terrorist, sweep it all under the rug and not go to their own award party if they were so worried. Lou got to go to WorldCon and the banquet and faced no legal consequences. No matter how wild and violent the Puppies got in their campaigns, their behavior was excused and shrugged away while the marginalized were told to shut up and that they were going overboard. It was a textbook example of systemic discrimination and showed even more that the Puppies were wrong.

        And it also showed why the Puppies could believe against all evidence that they were right. Because society — most of the SFF community and the people running WorldCon that year — indulges them in being right or at least loud and aggressive without consequences and declares the marginalized too angry and troublesome. Frankly, the only reason they got any negative media coverage was because they had brought in the Gamergaters and by that time the Gamergaters had done enough violence and open bigotry in their own hate campaigns that it registered with some of the media as a problem rather than purely a “both sides” debate.

        Liked by 6 people

      • I think it was the effect that most of the puppies lived in overlapping bubbles, first of all a regional bubble, since most of them seem to live in Utah, Colorado or other rural parts of the western US, and then the almost cult-like Baen buuble, where Baen is the saviour of the true science fiction. So it’s quite possible that their bookstores in Utah really have umpteen metres of shelf space devoted to nutty nuggets and no one there reads Ann Leckie. And being puppies, they’re not aware that the rest of the world looks very different.

        Besides, you also saw similar claims from Eric Flint, who’s not a puppy by any means. I remember a blogpost he wrote at the time where he measured the shelf space devoted to certain SFF authors to determine who was really popular. Meanwhile, he seemed completely unaware that while bookstore shelves in his corner of the US may look like that, readers elsewhere in the world were reacting with, “I’ve heard of that author and maybe seen a book of theirs in Forbidden Planet once, but they’re not even remotely popular.” Or my reaction to one of the names Flint listed, which was, “Yes, I was in a bookshop in the US once, which had a huge numbers of that author’s books, many more than I knew that author had written, but they still didn’t have the one I wanted.”

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yeah, that was a strangely oblivious post from Flint: in 2015 he reposted the results of an “investigation” of bookstore shelf space that he did in 2007, saying “… I think nothing much has changed between 2007 and today.”

          In the first place, e-books changed the SFF reading landscape massively between those 2 years… how could Flint not be aware of that? In the second place, his idea of “popular” authors was, I think, very much influenced by his living in the Midwest bubble and his Baen bubble. Feist, Drake, Modesitt, Ringo, and Salvatore are particularly WTF names on those lists.

          (Which author’s book did the bookstore not have?)

          Liked by 4 people

      • Feist is a writer I saw quite a lot of some time ago.
        For me he is not quite so much wtf as some other writers: Brooks, Godkind, Brian Herbert und Kevin Anderson (the combination of the two), Ringo(it may be the combination with the Tank was the one that got to my attention first), Anthony
        They did sell, but quite frankly are in my knowledge more an old shame for many readers, because not great quality.
        Others are solid writers that are fun but not exceptional.
        Others write stuff (like Urban Fantasy or Horror) that isn’t that popular with the Hugos.
        Others have had there success but perhaps not enough, the point of Martin is one that I don’t understand. Martin has been nominated for every book in his A Song of Ice and Fireseries (not the first book completly but a part of it has won the Hugo). Before last year the mainreason he didn’t have a recent nomination is that he has not published a novel for quite some time. Others are also very sucesful. (Card, Turtledove, McCaffrey, Simmons quite impresive)
        Perhaps Pratchett, Hobb, Gemmell, Williams, and perhaps Huff, Asprin, Harris (2 of the Pratchett and Hobb have nominations) are names that could be argued that the are suprising that they haven’t goten moren reconition. (But we have already establish that fantasy what most of them were writing didn’t do well in the 20th centuary) There may be other reasons that would have to be looked at a case to casebasis for each writer. Series are a factor (Hobb and Williams are not so much standalonewriters).
        In a way it proves one think shelspace is not a factor and thanks god.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I enjoyed Feist’s first Riftware series and the Empire trilogy cowritten with Janni Wurtz. The next series was tedious — showing off his research into medieval fighting, trade, etc. — and I haven’t looked back at him after the second book in it.

          Liked by 1 person

      • @Cora: I think it was the effect that most of the puppies lived in overlapping bubbles, first of all a regional bubble, since most of them seem to live in Utah, Colorado or other rural parts of the western US…

        As I pointed out in response to Hoyt’s ridiculous claim about people in Colorado “naturally self-distancing”, the overwhelming majority of Coloradans do not live in areas that could remotely be described as rural: they live in cities or dense suburbs. About 60% of the state’s population lives in the Denver-Boulder metropolitan area; if you extend it to the Front Range corridor (which basically means including the cities of Fort Collins and Colorado Springs) that’s 78% of the population. There are huge swathes of the state that are very rural, of course, but only a small fraction of Coloradans live there.

        Utah is actually not that different: two-thirds of the total population lives in the “Wasatch front”, centered around Salt Lake City. Even more so than Colorado, a huge amount of the state is essentially uninhabited, which yields very misleading estimates of the population density if you just divide population/area. (Politically, however Colorado and Utah are very different!)

        Liked by 3 people

      • Flint is white, which makes up a large part of it, and an older author and some of them just don’t get what’s going on in the wider world than what they are used to.

        I once had a very long, cordial discussion around 2011 or so with a white, man author who had worked in bookstores who was sure that the category science fiction sections would be phazed out by publishers in favor of just fantasy because A) women liked fantasy supposedly (remember the olden days myth when women weren’t supposed to like any SFFH?) and couldn’t supposedly be induced to read science fiction and B ) one front table in one Waterstones that was for SFF had only one science fiction novel on it while the rest were fantasy. That would be a front display table that publishers pay to feature books on in one store, in London I think it was, of a major U.K. chain.

        That one store was not a sufficient sample was rejected. And any hit science fiction I brought up — Leviathan Wakes, Hunger Games, Maze Runner, etc., were waved away as either not enough or YA and thus irrelevant, etc. And that guy was as far as I’m aware a centrist with no fervent political ideology to grind away at. Just the usual science fiction is dying myth and sexist beliefs about women readers, treating us as one hive mind. Now take the Puppies, whose whole identity is bound up in their Western frontier myths of heroic conservatives and libertarians who are ever so more special, successful and naturally dominant (and pale,) fending off the evil SJW’s of the marginalized, and no penetrating actual stats are going to get through.

        The reality is that the Puppies did get mostly what they wanted — their leaders got their Hugo nominations and they got to terrorize marginalized people for like two years. And they were indulged enough that they got to keep their myths and pretend persecutions while spreading bigot sneers wherever they go. They get to stay in their bubble because our society protects their bubble. But they never get to feel quite secure in their bubble. I guess that’s progress but it seems to involve a lot of damage to the marginalized, as usual.

        Liked by 2 people

      • @PhilRM
        Yes, I should probably have noted that both Colorado and Utah also have a rural/urban divide. Colorado seems to be internally divided as well, since quite a few left-leaning fans and writers seem to hail from Denver, whereas a lot of right-leaning folks seem to hail from Colorado Springs.

        It was Mercedes Lackey. I found the first of her Diana Tregarde novels at the import bookstore, where I bought most of my SFF in the 1980s/90s, and bought it along with Barbara Hambly’s “Bride of the Rat God”, which was a great investment of the then princely sum of twenty-five Deutschmarks. The blurb at the end of the Diana Tregarde novel suggested that it was part of a series and I spent years trying to track down the other books to no avail, because Mercedes Lackey is one of those authors whose books are not easy to come by in Europe.

        Then sometime in the mid to late 1990s, I was in a big bookstore in the US and they had a whole shelf of Mercedes Lackey novels, many more than I knew existed. Alas, they didn’t have the Diana Tregarde novels, because Lackey had ceased writing those by that point due to a combination of poor sales and the books attracting stalkers who took the witchcraft stuff way too seriously. The Diana Tregarde books were reprinted during the urban fantasy boom of the 2000s and I have since acquired the missing two books in the series. The first is still the best IMO.

        I’ve read quite a bit of Raymond Feist, because he was one of those authors whose books were frequently found on the shelves of my local import bookstore.

        I have never figured out just how that store determined which import books to stock. Publisher seemed to play a role, since Tor, Ace, Avon and Del Rey books tended to show up on the shelves quite frequently, but Baen, Roc and DAW were almost impossible to find, unless you special ordered them. But someone also seemed to be curating the SFF selection, because many of the more problematic books never showed up on those shelves.


    • And it just keeps going and going.

      Amal El-Mohtar talked about six books at the NY Times today

      Among the comments was someone complaining that “great fiction” like Farnham’s Freehold would never get coverage today, and another commenter was upset that all six books were by women.

      So yeah

      Liked by 4 people

      • “Farnham’s Freehold”? That got “WTF” at the time it was published.

        Even people who still carry a torch for RAH don’t mention that one, and the rest of us are polite enough not to bring it up in conversation with them.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Wah, won’t someone think of the poor widdle men!

        Also, why isn’t anybody recommending Heinlein books these days? Duh, maybe because Heinlein has been dead for 34 years now.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I think a lot of people underestimate that dying is the real “cancel culture.” The Modern Masters of SF I read as a teen are all now “dead writers who are good and deserve to be read more.” It’s unsettling but perfectly natural — it’s happened to previous generations too. Guys like Lovecraft and Howard whose works are still read this long after their passing are the exception.
          It happens outside our genre too. Leslie Charteris’ the Saint was everywhere when I was a kid (the TV show, comic strips, Saint magazine, plus the books) but I think he qualifies as a “dad hero” now.

          Liked by 2 people

      • And yet Baen published a semi-new book of his just last year.

        (Being half a book he wrote decades ago, and then the rest of that book only written worse, even the RAH acolytes were “meh”.)

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Another critical sentence seem a little unclear:
    “To succeed it would need to not just get works on the ballot or discombobulated “SJWs”“

    Did you mean “discombobulate”? And should “or” be “that”? The follow-up to this sentence is strong. Well presented.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I have a correction (I think the first!)

    It is a small leap of logic to assume that meant people who were not gay, transgender, women of people of colour

    women or

    makes more sense.

    Also for longer works (Short Fiction is perhaps an exception) I strongly suspect that having at last one female maincharacter is the norm not the exception. (Yes we aren’t in the golden age anymore, were there were many stories without a female character and some would be better if they were) Today I would be work to construct a story that a) has no important female character and b) would not look entirely ridicolous.
    Btw transgender characters as main characters are not that common imho on the Hugoballot.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. 1)“SAD PUPPIES simply holds its collective hand out — standing athwart “fandom” history — and yells, “Stop!””
    As others have observed, this raises the question, what are you trying to stop? It’s not an end in itself. Plus, of course, “history” only applies to stuff conservatives like — they aren’t out demanding we stop disenfranchising black Americans, even though the Voting Rights Ac t is almost as old as I am
    2)Wow, the owning-the-libs sentiments is pretty strong in these quotes, and another analog to real-world politics.
    3)Once again, I’m reminded of the Oscars in the debate over politics and why massively popular movies don’t get more awards (though of course a smash popular hit by an SJW will be rationalized away).
    4)Yeah, i can think of lots of classic SF that doesn’t look like the big-budget action movie Torgersen’s equating with good SF.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Some more typos:

    Torgersen complained that the Hugo Awards had become too literary rather than entertaining.

    A few days later, he had second thoughts and explained that he was “I am probably going to recuse myself from SAD PUPPIES 3”[3]. <— I'd suggest either …explained, "I am… OR ….explained that he was "probably going to recuse [him]self …

    It is a small leap of logic to assume that meant people who were not gay, transgender, women or people of colour

    Intent and actions are different things though.

    (Quantum Mortis: A Mind Programmed,[7]) <–extra comma

    another extraneous comma got into the footnote: [7] Quantum Mortis: A Mind Programmed, is actually a rewrite

    also in footnote [7]: This is notable as this is Markku Koponen

    Mike Glyer at File 770 noticed the arrival of another iteration of Sad Puppies

    For the link in footnote [9] move the period after Jr. inside the link tag.

    Footnote [10] needs a [10] up in the text after Brad’s “comet guy” reference.

    Freer regarded the socio-political pendulum as having swung too far left after 2007

    To succeed it would need to not just get works on the ballot to discombobulate “SJWs”

    Liked by 1 person

  12. A genre that deals with aliens as much as SF does is the perfect place to talk about alienation. And of course some of the people who understand alienation the best are gay or transgender or women or people of color, and so are likely to write some of the best stories about it. The question isn’t, Why are so many of these people writing SF, crowding out all the cis white men? It’s, Why aren’t there more of them, and where have they been? And Brad, of course, supplies the answer, which is that they were (and are) made to feel unwelcome.

    Liked by 4 people

  13. Typo patrol, extra-super-nitpicky department:

    “Get works and authors onto the Hugo ballot who might not otherwise be there; regardless of political persuasion. “

    There’s an extra space after the period, which causes the quote mark after to be another open quotes instead of close quotes.

    Incidentally, “Daddy Warpig” made a bunch of different tweets about Sad Puppies 3 aimed at GamerGate during January. This Making Light post screenshots a few of them besides the one you quote. Don’t know if that’s worth mentioning, might well not be, but thought I’d note it just in case.


    • Fully aware this is rich coming from someone who names themself after a haunted umbrella but why do all these alr-right numpties’ pseuds sound like children cosplaying adults.

      Liked by 2 people

  14. @Kat, by “Hugo Awards banquet” at Sasquan, I’m guessing you meant to say “Hugo award ceremony”, right? Sasquan most certainly held one of those, and a quite memorable one it was, too.


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