Debarkle Chapter 40: April Part 2 — Early Reactions

Even explosions have stages. The pressure was palpable on the eve of the Hugo finalists announcement for those who had some presentiment of events. Kary English was one of the few women included on the two Puppy slates and she’d been included twice: for her short story Totalled and for the Campbell/Astounding award for Best New Writer.

Reacting to Steve Davidson’s post at Amazing Stories (see Chapter 39), English wrote a post entitled The Disavowal, discussing politics and her relationship with the Sad Puppy slate. In it, she listed that she disavowed racism, sexism, homophobia, “political litmus tests” and also “judging a group based on the actions of a few”. She also stated her dislike of internet controversies:

“I loathe internet drama. I almost said no to Sad Puppies because I knew drama would follow. There is vitriol on both sides, and I disavow it. I will not take part in the vitriol, and I will do what I can to keep the kerfuffle to a minimum.”

http://karyenglish.com/2015/04/the-disavowal/

Framing the likely drama in terms of the internet belied the likelihood that the Puppy slates would have been a major fandom drama in most eras of the Hugo Awards. However, English’s instinct that drama would follow was wholly correct. So why participate in the Sad Puppy campaign? Unlike some of Torgersen’s picks for his slate, English had been contacted by him. She explained her decision:

“I said yes to Sad Puppies this year because I saw the seeds of change. I saw an organizer who wanted to broaden the slate. Sad Puppies includes greater political variety, more women, more people of color and more non-het writers than it ever has before, and I wanted to support that growth.

Change comes in baby steps. Is Sad Puppies as diverse or inclusive as I’d like it to be? No, not yet, but I said yes in support of that first baby step. My view is that when someone makes a good faith effort to be more ecumenical, when someone reaches across the aisle and extends a hand to the other side, someone has to cross over. Insularity breeds more insularity. Brad made a gesture, and I wanted to support it.”

ibid

English regarded Sad Puppies 3 as a move by a right-leaning faction in fandom towards more progressive politics. It is an odd conclusion to draw given Torgersen’s repeated and overt statements that the slate was overtly opposed to what he called “affirmative action” but the mixed, muddled and often confused messaging of Sad Puppies 3 campaign allowed people to pick out quite different features and insist that a positive aspect as the signal and the contradictory features were simply noise.

Many of Torgersen’s picks for the slate were based on his professional network. Four out of the five Sad Puppy picks for Best Novelette were from Torgersen’s main platform for his work, Analog Magazine — the venerable science fiction magazine that had once been helmed by the influential (and reactionary) John Campbell. Others, like Carter Reid (the author of the web comic slated in Best Graphic Story) were part of Torgersen’s Utah connections and people he had worked with on writing projects. So while Torgersen and the so-called Evil League of Evil had their own political agendas and their own strategies, the recruits for his slate had often been enlisted on the basis of personal trust networks and Torgersen’s nice-guy image.

Brad Torgersen then took his professional network and used it to create a social media explosion.

At the pro-Gamergate right-wing news outlet Brietbart, Milo Yiannopoulos’s co-writer Allum Bokhari was triumphant about the Sad/Rabid Puppy sweep of the Hugo Awards on the day it was announced.

“What a time to be alive! Liberals write for Breitbart, a cartoon girl in green and purple is a symbol of terror for the authoritarian Left, and now an online campaign with a manatee for a spokesperson is exposing political cliques in the world of science fiction and fantasy publishing.”

https://www.breitbart.com/europe/2015/04/04/hugo-awards-nominations-swept-by-anti-sjw-anti-authoritarian-authors/ [1]

The Breitbart article also attempted to push the duality of the aims of Sad Puppies 3 and the nature of the slate, stating first:

“Brad R. Torgersen, who managed this year’s Sad Puppies campaign, spoke to Breitbart London about its success: ‘I am glad to be overturning the applecart. Numerous authors, editors, and markets have been routinely snubbed or ignored over the years because they were not popular inside WSFS or because their politics have made them radioactive.'”

ibid

…and then condemning critics of the Sad and Rabid Puppy campaigns who claimed that the campaigns were anti-diversity:

“Perhaps the most bizarre allegation is the claim that supporters of the Sad Puppies constitute their own clique, and are trying to achieve dominance for conservative and libertarian authors. The presence of liberals and progressives like Anne Bellet, Kary English, and Rajnar Vajra on the nomination slate appears to have escaped critics. Correia, Hoyt, Torgerson and others have always maintained that their goal is to end political intolerance in sci-fi, not reinforce it.”

ibid

Eagle-eyed readers will note that Vox Day is not listed in the names saying that their goal is to end “political intolerance” even though Day was quoted in the article. If Bellet or English did win a Hugo Award would that be a victory for the Sad Puppies or a defeat on the grounds that once again “progressive” women who included diverse characters in their work had won a Hugo Award?

Science fiction fan, author, journalist and Hugo Award winner, Charlie Jane Anders covered the Puppy Hugo sweep at influential pop-culture news site io9. Anders saw the outcome as potentially destroying the Hugo Awards.

“But this year’s list of nominees seems to herald the beginning of the Hugos becoming “political” in the sense that each “side” will have its own recommended slate of nominees. People won’t get to spend months chewing over the best things they read in the previous year and grappling with their own consciences about what to nominate — instead, each side will have to decide early on which standard-bearers to double down on. Either that, or we’ll see some other solution.”

https://gizmodo.com/the-hugo-awards-were-always-political-now-theyre-only-1695721604

The Sad & Rabid Puppy slates had shown that with a degree of discipline, a coordinated campaign could control the nomination process of the Hugo Awards. The likely outcome of that would not be some rebalancing of the nominations or slower pace of social change in the make-up of the finalists but that 2016 would see counter-slates. The finalist then would be determined by whichever slate could drum up the most numbers.

At the Sad Puppy sympathetic Mad Genius Club, Cedar Sanderson had hosted a post with live coverage of the Hugo Finalist announcement on April 4. As the full extent of the sweep became clear she commented:

“Pretty cool, isn’t it? I no longer feel like my vote has just vanished into a black hole.”

https://madgeniusclub.com/2015/04/04/2014-hugo-nominations/#comment-54921

At his own blog, Sad Puppy organiser Brad Torgersen was also delighted:

“We at SP3 offer our hearty congratulations to all of the authors, editors, and artists included. The Hugo is the most venerable touchstone of the field of Science Fiction & Fantasy. We’re glad to see that this year’s ballot is unusually cosmopolitan in its composition, featuring numerous veteran authors and editors, as well as many new authors and editors who are adding their unique flavor to the field as a whole.”

https://bradrtorgersen.wordpress.com/2015/04/04/stealing-the-enterprise/

In this initial version of the finalist, the “unusually cosmopolitan” composition included six works by John C Wright alone and eight works from an obscure one-year-old Finnish based publisher Castalia House. In the Best Novella category, four of the five finalists were from Castalia.

British author Charles Stross put his effort into explaining who and what Castalia House was and why fans should be worried. The issue at hand was not Torgersen’s Sad Puppies but Vox Day’s Rabid Puppies and Day controlled Castalia. On the topic of Day, Stross explained:

“Over a period of years, he’s built an international coalition, finding common cause with the European neo-nazi fringe. Now they’ve attempted to turn the Hugo Awards into a battlefield in their (American) culture wars. But this clearly isn’t the end game they have in mind: it’s only a beginning. (The Hugos, by their very nature, are an award anyone can vote in for a small fee: it is interesting to speculate on how deep Vox Day’s pockets are.) But the real burning question is, “what will he attack next?””

http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2015/04/the-biggest-little-sf-publishe.html

With his own publishing house, Day in principle could manufacture SFWA-qualifying authors and take over the organisation that had expelled him[2].

The reactions to the Puppy event were spreading across fandom. Elizabeth Sandifer’s blog had caught the wave of the new-found popularity of Doctor Who by producing long-form essays that examined the political, literary and esoteric aspects of the long-running series. Her reaction to events was direct:

“The Hugo Award Nominations have just been successfully hijacked by neofascists.”

https://www.eruditorumpress.com/blog/the-day-fandom-ended

As with Charles Stross’s post, Sandifer avoided the misdirection of the confused messaging of Torgersen’s Sad Puppy campaign and focused on the true big winner of the Hugo finalists. After providing some of the more extreme positions that Day had advocated, Sandifer stated:

“They are, obviously, preposterously vile things to say. But they are so vile that they defy the usual rhetoric with which we respond to loathsome views. They are not positions or claims that polite society is really equipped to engage with. They are so far outside the bounds of what is socially acceptable in 2015 that it is difficult to imagine many forums in which they would even be permitted to be aired. I’d go with something glib like “even Fox News would sack someone who publicly expressed those views,” but even that seems insufficient. Truth be told, I have trouble thinking of any mainstream groups or organizations where someone who publicly espoused those views would not be ostracized.”

ibid

Sandifer regarded the impact on fandom as severe:

“To be frank, it means that traditional sci-fi/fantasy fandom does not have any legitimacy right now. Period. A community that can be this effectively controlled by someone who thinks black people are subhuman and who has called for acid attacks on feminists is not one whose awards have any sort of cultural validity. That sort of thing doesn’t happen to functional communities. And the fact that it has just happened to the oldest and most venerable award in the sci-fi/fantasy community makes it unambiguously clear that traditional sci-fi/fantasy fandom is not fit for purpose.”

ibid

She had a solution though, one that rested on two features of the Hugo Awards. People could still by supporting memberships that would give them voting rights in the finals of the Hugo Awards and people could vote for “no award”.

“If science fiction and fantasy are genres you care about, and if you can spare $40, I highly encourage you to join and, when the Hugo Ballot is released, vote No Award in all categories. Because otherwise, and especially if there are any awards in the six categories in which every nomination is neo-fascist endorsed, the cultural legitimacy of the Hugo Awards and of mainstream science fiction fandom will be permanently compromised.”

ibid

Her proposal was to No Award everything — even works that she admired and which hadn’t been on a slate such as the critically acclaimed Doctor Who episode Listen and the graphic story Ms Marvel. With the dual slates having such a huge impact on the finalists, all categories were essentially compromised. If fans reacted by essentially nullifying the whole year’s worth of finalists then future slates would look like a futile idea.

Deirdre Saoirse Moen was also proposing “no award” as a strategy but more tactically. Within a few hours of the Hugo finalists announcement, she had produced “The Puppy-Free Hugo Award Voter’s Guide” — a list of the categories showing which finalists were not on a Puppy slate and where people who wanted to vote ‘no award’ above the slated-finalist should use that option.

“Follow, or don’t, your choice. If you are voting the strict ix-nay uppy-pay slate, here’s the options in each category:”

https://deirdre.net/2015/04/04/the-puppy-free-hugo-award-voters-guide/

On the category of Best Fan Writer, she listed Laura J. Mixon (the author of a report critical of the writer Requires Hate) but also stated that Mixon had also campaigned for the award “IMHO makes her no better than the Puppies”.

At the blog of Teresa Nielsen Hayden, her husband Patrick covered the connections between the Puppy campaigns and Gamergate by citing Tweets from Gamergate enthusiast Daddy Warpig. He also made four observations:

“(1) To the best of my knowledge, the campaign to get a slate of specific people and works onto the Hugo ballot hasn’t done anything that violates the rules.
(2) As anyone over the age of ten knows, it’s generally possible to do things that are dubious, or scummy, or even downright evil, without violating any laws or rules.
(3) Merely running a campaign to get a slate of specific people and works onto the Hugo ballot doesn’t really rise to the level of “evil”, but it’s definitely “dubious” at the very least. Which is to say, it violates a lot of people’s sense of how one ought to behave, and if you do it you’ll incur widespread disapproval. Prepare to deal.
(4) However, running a campaign to get a slate of specific people and works onto the Hugo ballot and reaching out to #Gamergate for support in this…in effect, inviting a bunch of people who traffic in violent threats, intimidation, and “SWATting” to join our community…well, that rises all the way to “downright evil”.”

http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/016194.html#016194

As earlier chapters showed, the connections between the Puppy campaigns and Gamergate were deeper than just Daddy Warpig. Having said that is unclear whether these overtures brought in any additional Gamergaters into the Puppy campaign, given there was already a significant overlap with followers of Vox Day and to a lesser extent Larry Correia.

A long thread of comments ensued including a flying visit from Brad Torgersen. However, I want to focus on a comment from the blog host Teresa Nielsen Hayden who had also been thinking about the strategic response to Puppy sweep:

“It’s too late to salvage the 2015 ballot, but not the 2015 Hugo Awards. Supporting memberships are still being sold, and they can vote. Want to strike back against the Sad Puppies and everything they represent? Buy a supporting membership. Vote for the nominees you love or like or find worthy. Do it with no agenda beyond your love of SF. Next year, buy one early enough to nominate. We’ve been worrying about bringing on a system of warring slates. It’s unnecessary. You don’t need a slate to beat a slate. What you need are a lot more votes, chosen according to the individual voters’ preferences. It doesn’t matter if their distribution is unfocused, as long as there are enough of them. Even if block voting campaigns manage to wedge a few nominees onto a ballot, the combined votes of all those supporting memberships applied to the five nominees in each category is going to swamp any slate-based voting that doesn’t represent a sizeable fraction of actual fannish taste.


I love the idea of beating the SP’s covert elitism with an answer that’s more democratic, draws more fans into voting for the Hugos, and finds its winners in the combined preferences of many more voters.”

http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/016194.html#4071202

Whatever voting approach people followed (No Award everything, No Award only the slated finalists, or just vote for stuff you find worthy) the key would be getting more people to vote.

The Puppy impact on the Hugo Awards was attracting the attention of the broader news media. However, with two interrelated campaigns (the Sad and the Rabid Puppies) and confused messaging from people involved in the Sad Puppy campaign (either as organisers, supporters or conscripted nominees), the accounts often confused details.

An April 6 news story (two days after the finalist announcement) in Entertainment Weekly attempted to capture the gist of events but badly mangled many of the details:

“The Hugo Awards have fallen victim to a campaign in which misogynist groups lobbied to nominate only white males for the science fiction book awards. These groups, Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies (both of which are affiliated with last year’s GamerGate scandal), urged sci-fi fans to become members of the Hugo Awards’ voting body, World Science Fiction Convention, in order to cast votes against female writers and writers of color.”

Archive of the original version later corrected https://archive.is/X2HPi#selection-1761.0-1767.174

To defend the claim that Rabid Puppies was a misogynist group would not have been a challenge but to make that claim about the Sad Puppies was more of a challenge. “Affiliated” was a strong term to use for a nebulous group like Gamergate but the connection between the two groups had already been asserted by the Gamergate-friendly outlet Brietbart.

Neither group of Puppies had overtly stated that people should vote against female writers or writers of colour, although Brad Torgersen’s “affirmative action” claims could easily be read that way and Vox Day’s track record on the issues could be easily found. However, both campaigns definitely had nominated women and people of colour. That the journalist had misunderstood the twist in the events was made more clear when the article cited Annie Bellet’s Goodnight Stars as an example of a finalist that had made it despite the Puppy intervention instead of because of it.

The Entertainment Weekly had drawn in part from Elizabeth Sandifer’s blog article (see above) which had focused (correctly) on Vox Day’s Rabid Puppies and Day’s extremism. Both Brad Torgersen and Larry Correia objected to the article and it was corrected the same day. The new version began:

“CORRECTION: After misinterpreting reports in other news publications, EW published an unfair and inaccurate depiction of the Sad Puppies voting slate, which does, in fact, include many women and writers of color. As Sad Puppies’ Brad Torgerson explained to EW, the slate includes both women and non-caucasian writers, including Rajnar Vajra, Larry Correia, Annie Bellet, Kary English, Toni Weisskopf, Ann Sowards, Megan Gray, Sheila Gilbert, Jennifer Brozek, Cedar Sanderson, and Amanda Green. This story has been updated to more accurately reflect this. EW regrets the error.”

https://ew.com/article/2015/04/06/hugo-award-nominations-sad-puppies/

The correction did not mollify either Larry Correia or Brad Torgersen. Correia saw it as an example of how the media would attack conservatives:

“So, SMOFs and Moderates, read that article. Hell, just read the headline… If you’ve paid any attention or have even an iota of honesty in your soul you know that article in a national publication is total bullshit. Now do you understand why it is so very tempting for my side to just say to hell with it and hoist the black flag?

EDIT 2, they’ve already changed the article because the EW lawyers freaked out. That should tell you something. I’ve got the original cached. Since they changed it, here is the original. See moderates? This is what happens when you cross the Social Justice crowd. The truth become irrelevant and they spread whatever they can about you to get you shunned and destroyed.”

https://monsterhunternation.com/2015/04/06/a-letter-to-the-smofs-moderates-and-fence-sitters-from-the-author-who-started-sad-puppies/

In the same post Correia also blamed the general claim of Gamergate involvement on Teresa Nielsen Hayden. As the Gamergate connections were undeniable, Correia changed the claim to one that Gamergate were “behind” (i.e. organising) the Puppy campaigns. He also warned:

“Oh, quick note moderates and SMOFs, if you don’t want GamerGate to get involved in the Hugos, don’t blame me. Tell your Social Justice idiots to shut up on Twitter! TNH is the one invoking and provoking them, not me.”

ibid

Brad Torgersen also objected to the Gamergate connection:

“The error-laden article quickly went viral — especially among opponents of Sad Puppies 3. Twitter (which I generally avoid and ignore) lit up like a Christmas tree, and quickly I had friends and other authors contacting me to say, “Entertainment Weekly has run a hatchet piece on you! Better jump on it!” So I read the piece. I noted the errors. I also noted that the piece made an explicitly inductive link between Sad Puppies 3 and last year’s great nerd controversy: GamerGate. The reasons for this were pretty obvious. Words like “racist” and “misogynist” are presently code for “not part of the human equation” thus any man or woman who can be successfully labeled these things, is cut off from polite circles, perhaps even driven out of the workplace, or worse. These words tend to be used as general-purpose ideological grenades, when the thrower of said grenades lacks sufficiently real evidence of wrong-doing — but wants to see the target squirm and suffer anyway.”

https://bradrtorgersen.wordpress.com/2015/04/07/fort-living-room/

Torgersen also rejected the claim of racism and sexism citing a specific piece of evidence:

“Obviously, anyone who tries to make a coherent case for me being racist or sexist . . . has over 21 years of contradictory evidence to overcome. You cannot have lived my life, and be a racist or a sexist. It is an ontological impossibility. I’ve seen too much of the elephant, to borrow a phrase. Plus, my wife probably would have thrown me out on my butt a long time ago — she being the far more astute judge of character, than either a low-rent tabloid blogger or a pernicious and vindictive SF/F personality.”

https://bradrtorgersen.wordpress.com/2015/04/07/fort-living-room/

Meanwhile, The Guardian also had coverage of the Hugo Awards. Guardian columnist Damien Walter already had past experience with Larry Correia in 2014 (see chapter 26) and had a better grasp of the dual campaigns that the Entertainment Weekly. Interestingly, Walter downplayed the ideological element of the campaigns and focused on an underlying motive:

“What the Hugo awards are vulnerable to isn’t the bitter argument between liberals and conservatives, but the clever manipulation of such differences by self-promoters. Most writers, even in relatively commercially genres like sci-fi and fantasy, sell remarkably low numbers of books. It’s not surprising, then, that some writers ramp up political arguments as a way of gaining the attention they crave, and pulling publicity stunts like block-voting campaigns. Some involved with the block vote no doubt believe they are on a righteous crusade against liberals in sci-fi. But that only makes them more easily exploited by those who are only interested in gaining status and selling books.”

https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2015/apr/06/are-the-hugo-nominees-really-the-best-sci-fi-books-of-the-year

Conversely, in a piece at Salon, Arthur Chu saw the Sad Puppies as part of a broader tapestry of conservatism in the internet age but also part of an older strain in American conservatism, comparing them to the 19th-century reactionary “Know-Nothings”[3].

Conservative magazine National Review also linked Gamergate and Sad Puppies as twin phenomenon:

“The response to the social-justice Left in the gaming world was “Gamergate,” an online movement that (and this is an understatement) “punched back twice as hard” against the left-dominated gaming media. The resulting online battles were extraordinarily vicious, with claims and counterclaims of online bullying, “doxing” (exposure of personally identifying information on the web), and general internet hand-to-hand combat.

In science fiction, the response was “Sad Puppies,” a movement led by conservative author Larry Correia. Why Sad Puppies? Because “boring message fiction is the leading cause of Puppy Related Sadness.” Correia and his Sad Puppies targeted the Hugo Awards, prestigious writing awards voted on by members of “Worldcon,” the World Science Fiction Convention. Correia had known that the social-justice Left had campaigned against him previously, so he countered with his own campaign — assisted by leading conservative and libertarian authors.”

https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/social-justice-warriors-arent-so-tough-when-even-sad-puppies-can-beat-them-david/

Not every high profile response was in a newspaper or magazine. George R.R. Martin may have been at the apex of his fame as a fantasy writer in 2015 but his social media presence was still his humble (technologically) LiveJournal blog. Having enjoyed a long history with the Hugo Awards and Worldcon, Martin was desolate with what he was calling “Puppygate”:

“Call it block voting. Call it ballot stuffing. Call it gaming the system. There’s truth to all of those characterizations.

You can’t call it cheating, though. It was all within the rules.

But many things can be legal, and still bad… and this is one of those, from where I sit.

I think the Sad Puppies have broken the Hugo Awards, and I am not sure they can ever be repaired.”

https://grrm.livejournal.com/417125.html

Next Time: April Part 3 — Battlelines


Footnotes

63 thoughts on “Debarkle Chapter 40: April Part 2 — Early Reactions

  1. “If Bellet or English did win a Hugo Award would that be a victory for the Sad Puppies or a defeat on the grounds that once again “progressive” women who included diverse characters in their work had won a Hugo Award?” is a sheerly argumentative statement, and one of your rare missteps, I think. What matters in a history is what they did, not what dumb statement they potentially might have made but didn’t. I recommend lining out the sentence.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. It also seems to be an irresistably powerful part of the narrative, as opposed to the proven facts, that Gamergaters supplied an army of Puppy voters. At the time this was feared. Looking at the voting stats, it clearly didn’t happen. Therefore it’s more reasonable to look at the pro-Puppy comments about Gamergate as a taunt or bluff.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Beale definitely had a bloc of voters made out of people who’d flocked to him on the tail end of Gamergate that let him punch above his weight class during the nomination process. But they were nowhere near the numbers people feared, and were a sliver at best of the initial movement. As usual, Beale gathered a bunch of angry jerks looking for something to do.

      And then frittered them away.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That seems to have been pretty much the size of it. It was an army of Gamergate voters, enough to get Beale all his Castilia noms, but it was a very small army because the denizens of Gamergate had little interest in written fiction and I think a lot of them wandered off when it came to the finalist voting. Beale couldn’t really use them well.

        Like

      2. Said Kat Goodwin of the Narrative Enforcement Commission. Because there couldn’t have been two or three hundred so-called Dread Ilk already following Vox Day, Except there could.

        Like

  3. At the pro-Gamergate right-wing news outlet Brietbart…

    “Affiliated” was a strong term to use for a nebulous group like Gamergate but the connection between the two groups had already been asserted by the Gamergate-friendly outlet Brietbart.

    Both -> Breitbart

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I see you haven’t linked to a reply to Elizabeth Sandifer, but it’s worth noting if you do that this was before she came out, so I’d think it would be important to check if something deadnamed her before linking to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The third Breitbart excerpt lists “Anne Bellet”. Is this your error or theirs? If the latter, I suggest [sic].

    Also, regarding this sentence: “Science fiction fan, author, journalist and Hugo Award winner, Charlie Jane Anders covered the Puppy Hugo sweep at influential pop-culture news site io9.”

    Whether or not one puts a comma after “journalist” is debatable (I am in the pro-serial-comma camp myself), but I have always thought that there should NOT be a comma before the name of the person who is being identified by the preceding descriptions. I’ve seen this a lot (everywhere, I mean, not specifically here) and am starting to wonder if there’s been a rule change I missed. But it bothers me a lot. I keep feeling like a breath is being forced by that comma, or that the sentence is slamming on the brakes. (Or breaks, as I originally typed.)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Comma, comma, comma, semi-colon. Semi-colon. Semi-cooolooooooon.

        On closer reflection, commas and semi-colons may not outshine karma and chameleons.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. Phew, it’s not just me.

        BTW, it was nice meeting you briefly at Worldcon in San Jose…whatever year that was; I have totally lost track of when things happened. Also met, hm, Ctein, lauowolf, and Greg Hullender and Eric Wong(?). I know this is rather late to mention; I just felt I should identify myself as very slightly more than a drive-by tortie.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. The description is long (9 words), which makes a good case for commas. The thing is, if you put one before “Charlie”, you have to put another after “Anders”. For appositives, commas are parenthetical.

      Like

      1. That was also my feeling, but I was having trouble finding words like “parenthetical”. Or “appositive”, for that matter; for someone who generally has a very good grasp of grammar, I am very fuzzy on some of its vocabulary.

        I would probably be most comfortable with the pair of commas you suggest if the article “A” were prepended to the whole sentence. “A [described person], [name], verb…” Although that has the semantic side effect of suggesting she’s (they’re?) one of many people fitting that description, which may not be the case.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Wasn’t there an article about the Puppies in Popular Mechanics early on, which resulted in a threatened lawsuit? Looking for a reference….

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve never understood why the puppies focussed so much on that one Entertainment Weekly article. Yes, the article wasn’t very good and had errors, but it was only one article and not even the most high profile one. The Guardian clearly has a higher profile.

    Like

    1. Not in the U.S., it doesn’t. And the Puppies were mainly U.S. focused. Entertainment Weekly was still then a widely known, mainstream U.S. entertainment magazine with a huge, active website presence/community and book reviews and game media coverage that reached lots of Americans. It had a bigger circulation reach than Rolling Stone magazine. While left-leaning, it’s regarded as an apolitical publication. And with its emphasis on SFF entertainment, it was big in geek fan circles. So EW denouncing the Puppies as part of the threatening Gamergate movement got the Puppies a lot of flack in the U.S.

      Whereas The Guardian, U.S. edition, is seen as a lefty newspaper import that most Americans don’t even know about, despite it being known among the book review reading crowd. While the Guardian has a much larger, global web engagement reach than Entertainment Weekly, especially in the last few years due to Trump, its coverage could be dismissed as partisan sniping, especially coming from Damian.

      So in terms of cultural reputation in the U.S., the Entertainment Weekly article was super damaging to the Puppies, especially in trying to get centrist Americans on their side. It had more effect on librarians and booksellers in the U.S. than the Guardian U.S. coverage would have. And the Puppies were, as Damian surmised, trying to use their campaign as a marketing strategy for themselves. The EW article messed up their rebranding efforts.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly. Now they could say, over and over, “See, the mainstream media doesn’t understand us! Everyone would think we were just a lovable bunch of goofs if they didn’t keep making up mean things about us!” Unfortunately, most other articles quoted them accurately, which, as Cam and Mike have said, had the effect of making them look bad.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I usually let others catch the typos but this one is rather crucial: “People could still by supporting memberships” should be “People could still BUY supporting memberships…”

    “English regarded Sad Puppies 3 as a move by a right-leaning faction in fandom towards more progressive politics. It is an odd conclusion to draw”

    It really wasn’t because Brad simply lied to her about what they were doing. He lied to and about Annie Bellet, to Kloos, Creek, etc., and to people like Martin and Flint. It was part of Brad and Beale’s strategy at the time, a two pronged approach by breaking up into two groups (“campaigns”). The Rabid Puppies could be the further right reactionaries and nominate the stuffing out of Beale’s publishing house, being the “bad boys” of the whole endeavor and getting the connection to Gamergate and the culture wars that attracted the media. And for the Sad Puppies, Brad could overlap the Rabid Puppy slate but also go get various people, a lot of them his acquaintances or from Analog which the Puppies claimed had been shut out by Tor.com, and present the image that the Sad Puppies had become a more welcoming, positive, diverse group rather than just a bunch of reactionary, bigoted right wingers. It was part of them changing the supposed rationale for what they were doing yet again, from “the leftists are cheating and rigging the Hugos and shutting out conservative writers” to “we just want to get more fans involved in the Hugos.” They could still rail about SJWs all they liked, but now it was in terms of the SJWs being unreasonably angry at them, trying to control the Hugos and being insular and unwelcoming and thus illegitimate and insincere.

    As I mentioned in a post for another entry, English bought this idea the way that centrists tend to do — that the bigoted reactionaries were reaching across the aisle and the SJWs were being unreasonable not reaching back to the folks who called them hacks, cheats, elitists, violent tyrants, etc. This is what U.S. Republicans do constantly (including inciting an insurrection and then saying Dems are mean to keep bringing it up.) They, the mainly white, mainly cishet men, are allowed to say anything they want with little consequences and constant calls for understanding towards them while Democrats are declared unreasonable for objecting to any of their behavior. The Republicans can obstruct on purely partisan grounds and crow about being able to do it when they have the numbers, but Dems having any number advantage are admonished to reach across the aisle and work with the people who called them traitors, cheats and baby-eating Satanists. Progressivism and leftism is always seen as something dangerous and unreasonable that has to be reigned in and tempered, while conservative authoritarianism is just (dominant) people being frustrated and must be listened to and accommodated.

    The Puppies aren’t brilliant campaigners but they did know those strategies and having had unexpected success with the voting slate maneuver on the nominations, they then set about trying to convert non-Puppies to their cause. Which meant re-branding and a lot of lying. It didn’t matter how many times their non-facts were debunked or their contradictory statements were pointed out — many people accepted their claim that they had somehow been shut out and just wanted to help the field because that was a lot easier to deal with than the whole civil rights problem with the Hugos and the SFF field. Marginalized authors, having brought up civil rights issues including with conventions and awards (see the past kerfluffles Camestros documented,) were seen as discomforting and annoying, so it was much easier to push that the Puppies should be heard and included (with all those nominations they’d gotten) than dealing with the fact that marginalized people had been barely included up until recent years. It made a lot of people (mainly white ones) feel better to reframe the Puppies, at least the Sad ones, and go along with the new messaging. Others, like Bellet and Kloos, did not and broke away from the Puppies and their author draft attempt. People like Stross and Sandifer were also not buying it, but of course the Puppies could dismiss them as unreasonable, exclusionary leftists, at least at this stage in the process. And nice people who didn’t like conflict found it easy to dismiss worried predictions that the Puppies were breaking the Hugos.

    In 2018, 89% of U.S. fiction authors were white people. In 2020, only 10% of NYTimes bestsellers were BIPOC. In 2014-15, those numbers were even worse and they certainly weren’t good in category SFF or even all of SFF titles. But as we know, when BIPOC get 10% or more of anything, when there are slightly more of them getting through to the market, when they get slightly more successes and/or award nominations (and when all women break any barriers in general,) people view that development as much larger (and threatening) than it is. So it was easy for the Puppies to claim the marginalized were taking over and/or exerting too much influence on what is really still a white supremacist, sexist, homophobic market. And it was easy for many to with relief agree with them about that while not having to come right out and say it that directly. The Puppies came up with a dog whistle and many people supported that. That would eventually change in many quarters but this was the first shock of the nominations sweep.

    Liked by 7 people

  9. “Not every high profile response was in a newspaper or magazine. George R.R. Martin may have been at the apex of his fame as a fantasy writer in 2015 but his social media presence was still his humble (technologically) LiveJournal blog.”

    Yeah, again I don’t think Martin’s blog could be described as humble (and yes I get that on LJ, it kind of is technologically). Martin’s popularity was super high, fans were still hoping TWOW could come out soon and he would give word of that there soon, and the readerbase there was probably the largest concentration of people who COULD become interested in the Hugos for more than a moment who weren’t actually yet involved in the greater SF/F sphere. Whereas with EW, the audience was larger for sure, but was almost certainly made up mainly of people who would find it another annoying element of culture war/gamergaters and not anything to think much about afterwards.

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    1. I think you’ve misread those sentences a bit. The “humble” part here refers clearly, and semi-humorously, to the technology. It’s not at all saying that Martin was a low-key presence, because look at the first sentence: we are talking about high-profile responses. It is the equivalent of saying: “Not every high-profile response was in a newspaper or magazine. George R. R. Martin did not have a newspaper or a magazine, he had a crappy-looking blog, but he was at the apex of his fame as a fantasy writer so his response was clearly a high-profile response.”

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  10. GRRM: You can’t call it cheating, though. It was all within the rules.

    I am so incredibly tired of this canard, which gets repeated by both Puppies and non-Puppies to this day.

    The definition of “cheating” is not about the rules, it’s
    act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage

    which is exactly what the Puppies did. They cheated.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Larry only *fantasized* that the evul libruls were out to get him. He so wished there was a cabal against him.

    99% of them never heard of him before he started all this bullshit. Maybe they vaguely recognized him as a Campbell nominee, but nobody remembers the finalists who didn’t win, and not even a lot of those who do, unless they go on to become stonking successful like Pournelle, Card, or Weir.

    Anybody remember Alexis Gilliland? Paul O. Williams? Michaela Rossner? David Anthony Durham? They all won it, and even as someone who’s been voting on the Hugos since 1981, I had to look them up.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Going to be honest, 99% of them have never heard of him after he started all this bullshit. They might have heard of the puppies after the slates, but most attention went to Vox Day (for good reason) and after it was over, no one cared outside the really insular in the community. If you were a fan of him already you heard of him. If you weren’t, you still probably haven’t.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I do remember David Anthony Durham, cause he won the then-Campbell during the period I was paying regular attention to the Hugos. Though I only remember what he looked like wearing the Campbell tiara. I couldn’t even tell you what his novel was called, only that there was a tree on the cover. Definitely the most obscure Campbell/Astounding winner of the 2000s.

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      1. Yes, but you’re you, James. Somewhat of an outlier (which is good, because your reviews are great, and the rest of us are glad if we’re not standing too close to you when the next accident happens).

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    3. I am still waiting, more or less patiently, for the third volume in Michaela Roessner’s trilogy set in Renaissance Italy.

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  12. “I loathe internet drama. I almost said no to Sad Puppies because I knew drama would follow. There is vitriol on both sides, and I disavow it. I will not take part in the vitriol, and I will do what I can to keep the kerfuffle to a minimum.”
    Said Kary English, trying hard to pre-emptively talk her way out of facing the consequences of her own actions.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. The problem Kary had was the problem all the Pups had: She was trying to sell Puppy bullshit to people who knew better, and didn’t know how to deal with push back when she did so. Her issues were further compounded by the fact that she didn’t actually know much of anything about the history of the Hugos in general, or the Puppies and their actions specifically – having bought the fictional version Torgersen had told her hook, line, and sinker.

      A complete lack of knowledge about the subject wasn’t something that was unique to Kary among the Pups, but she was pretty immune to information on the topic, and she was considerably damaged when people found out that she had been basically telling different things to different people around the internet. Like many of the other Pups, she didn’t seem to understand that things you say on one part of the internet are visible to people from other parts of the internet.

      I will also point out that this moment is where the Puppy fortunes really began to go south, because this is the point where people who had mostly ignored them went out and began to actually read the stuff they had gamed onto the Hugo ballot, and began to read their self-serving justifications for doing so. It was soon readily apparent to most everyone that their rhetoric didn’t match the reality of what they had slated, and that what they had slated ranged from mediocre to miserable in quality. I mean, Jim Butcher’s book was probably one of the best things they slated onto the Hugo ballot, and it was fairly ordinary and unremarkable urban fantasy.

      I will say that I am not particularly bothered by the fact that Kary abandoned science fiction after this. Her story, although one of the best Puppy works on the Hugo ballot, was basically a filler quality story. (A filler quality story is what I call competent but forgettable stories that appear in magazines that are clearly there just to push the page count to the required total). There are literally dozens of authors I can think of off the top of my head who can turn out stories like that who didn’t stand shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of racists, misogynists, and homophobes to try to game the Hugos.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. So she was more conservative and less centrist than she initially seemed, I guess.

        And yeah, that Hugo culture where voters take the finalists very seriously and most make a full effort to read the finalists — that really lost them a ton of support. Hugo voters don’t mind differences of opinions on taste or that the con location being in a non-U.S. locale versus a U.S. locale might shift the nominations in voter make-up, etc. But they really didn’t like the Puppies treating the Hugos as rag dolls to have a playground fight over.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It was adequate, but predictable AF, and would have been a good story in the 70s or 80s. Sadly, it was 2015.

        She is not a loss to the field.

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    2. The most damning part of that post to me is that she admits to being aware of the controversial nature of the puppy campaign, and its right wing root, when Larry asked her. I don’t remember noticing this myself back in 2015 – my impression back then was that Larry had presented the puppies as a pure writer PR campaign, not as a right wing campaign and not as a concerted attempt to make sweeping changes to the Hugo. But here, she says she knew there would be controversy, and she seems to support the idea that some sort of change in Worldcon and Hugo nomination is a good thing.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. “Conservative magazine National Review also linked Gamergate and Sad Puppies as twin phenomenon”

    should be “phenomena” I think

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Brilliant opening sentence!
    “Having said that is unclear whether these overtures” -> “ Having said that, it is unclear whether these overtures”.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. In it, she listed that she disavowed racism, sexism, homophobia, “political litmus tests” and also “judging a group based on the actions of a few”.

    What, no love for the serial comma? (There are a bunch of other places further down where I’d use it, too. Anyway, not an error as long as you’re consistent.)

    She also stated her dislike of internet controversies:

    Proper nouns like Internet should be capitalised in English, to distinguish them from common-noun senses of the same word. Yes, internets distinct from the Internet do exist.

    (Same correction passim.)

    …author of the web comic…

    For similar reasons, “Web” in this context is a proper noun: You’re talking about the Web, not any of various webs.

    …but the mixed, muddled and often confused messaging of Sad Puppies 3 campaign allowed people to pick out quite different features and insist that a positive aspect as the signal and the contradictory features were simply noise.

    Somewhere around “positive aspect” there appears to be one or more word missing.

    Science fiction fan, author, journalist and Hugo Award winner, Charlie Jane Anders

    That final comma definitely doesn’t belong there.

    At the Sad Puppy sympathetic Mad Genius Club…

    This clause would be easier to parse visually without working at it, if you hyphenate the compound adjective (“Sad Puppy-sympathetic”).

    the “unusually cosmopolitan” composition included six works by John C Wright alone

    Unlike Harry Truman, I’m pretty sure Mr. Wright puts a period after his middle initial.

    an obscure one-year-old Finnish based publisher Castalia House

    “Finnish-based” is a compound adjective, so it’s best practices to hyphenate, for ease of reading.

    Throughout your piece, there are innumerable places where clarity would be aided by placing commas where there’s a natural pause (as an exercise, read your piece out-loud), or where a comma is necessary for ease of parsing, or both. Here’s an example, where the sentence really, really needs a comma after “Rabid Puppies”: The issue at hand was not Torgersen’s Sad Puppies but Vox Day’s Rabid Puppies and Day controlled Castalia.

    Her proposal was to No Award everything — even works that she admired and which hadn’t been on a slate such as the critically acclaimed Doctor Who episode Listen and the graphic story Ms Marvel.

    The story’s title was actually punctuated US-style, as “Ms. Marvel”. Moreover, I’m pretty sure the specific graphic story Sandifer spoke of bore the title (in full) “Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal”.

    Guardian columnist Damien Walter already had past experience with Larry Correia in 2014 (see chapter 26) and had a better grasp of the dual campaigns that the Entertainment Weekly.

    Substitute “than” for “that”.

    Like

  16. …to pick out quite different features and insist that a positive aspect as the signal and the contradictory features were simply noise.

    Rick Moen says: Somewhere around “positive aspect” there appears to be one or more word missing.

    I think it’s just one letter. Make the “as” into “was”.

    Like

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