OK I forgot about the Dragon Awards

…I hope the Red Panda Fraction forgives me! I intended to vote but the deadline zipped by and before you know it, it’s the last day of July already!

So how are things looking for the Dragon Awards? Last year, after the normal shambolic start, the Dragons took some steps to better promote themselves including new blog content with interviews with past finalists and a program with libraries to promote the selected books. The winners and nominees skewed the most mainstream they ever have been for the Dragons, except for the MilSF and Alternate History categories which were closer to the kind of works the Dragons usually pick.

This year? Overall, less shambolic in announcing the opening and closing of the nomination phase on time. The annual ‘we forgot to update the rules, so the link does work’ https://application.dragoncon.net/dragon_awards_terms_conditions.php competition has though, managed to surpass all previous years in being delayed. As everybody who nominates has to agree to the rules, I think a pedant can claim that all the nominations are invalid or maybe that all nominations ARE valid? In reality, the official rules never made much sense and shed little light on how the Dragon Awards actually run.

After John Scalzi winning a Dragon Award last year, many former Puppies were very cross. The pandemic and the absence of an in-person DragonCon were blamed for the mainstream turn in the Dragons, as well as right-leaning fans being poorly organized. Since then there has been a more concerted effort to get people in the puppyspehere to participate. This was mainly led by Declan Finn who so very, very much wants a Dragon Award that if I could I’d steal one and give it to him — this is a bad psychological trait I have and it’s why I end up feeding seagulls. The not-quite-moribund Superversive site also tried to do an award recommendation page. There was some nominal promotion of the awards by Larry Correia but he likewise seems to have forgotten to promote them just before the closing date (too busy moaning about Mark Zuckerberg and Mike Glyer — or Mike Zuckerberg and Mark Glyer as I originally typed).

Our musteloidean allies once again maintained a handy-dandy Google sheet of eligible works https://bit.ly/3x6Zchm which was both a worthy effort but also demonstrates the extra effort needed to work out eligibility for the Dragon Awards. Red Panda remains the most coordinated effort to get people involved in the Dragons and it is nice to see that an open, non-partisan effort is what has staying power.

That doesn’t mean the culture war stuff has gone entirely. Declan Finn over on the alt-Facebook platform MeWe did try to spur Monster Hunter fans into action by citing not only “File 770” as a vague enemy but also the added menace of Red Panda:

That generated 12 likes and 5 comments, so I don’t think he managed to inspire an angry horde or Dragon nominators. Quite how Red Panda Fraction’s activity is “ballot stuffing” is anybody’s guess.

Where does that leave things?

I think there’s more attention being paid this year than last year but there are no focused efforts. The Baen’s Bar controversy at the beginning of the year and subsequent disinvitation of Toni Weisskopf as a Guest of Honour for this year’s Worldcon also may have inspired some fans of Baen to renew their attention towards the Dragons. However, without a coordinated and focused effort by major names (e.g. Larry Correia or Vox Day) the impact of that attention at the nomination stage is likely to be nebulous.

Of course, my (unproven) working assumption is that votes at the nomination stage are treated as suggestions by the award admins and that they make the final picks but really, who knows? As I think Greg Hullender pointed out, the least effort approach on the Dragon Award admins part is that they go with what gets the most nominations.

We’ll find out what go nominated soon enough :).

Debarkle Chapter 52: Part 4 Puppy Fall 2016-2017

The story so far…

In 2015, Larry Correia’s Sad Puppy campaign targeting the Hugo Awards was handed over to Brad Torgersen. Torgersen put together a bigger slate of nominees with several categories having four or five entries listed. The Sad Puppy campaign was initially supported by far-right blogger, sci-fi author and publisher Vox Day but after a disagreement on tactics, Day revealed his own Rabid Puppy campaign. Day’s slate was largely the same as the Sad Puppy slate but with additional entries, many from his new (2014) publishing venture Castalia House.

The combined slates together swept multiple Hugo Award categories when the finalists were announced in April of 2015. This led to a major backlash fuelled by objections to the slate tactics, the poor quality of many of the Puppy slated finalists and the extreme politics of Vox Day. The Puppy campaigns were characterised by many people in the media as akin to the GamerGate culture war/harassment campaign that had been running within the world of video games since 2014. This comparison was made not just by critics of the Puppies but also by supporters in right-wing outlets such as Breitbart and The Federalist.

Day’s personal animosity towards key figures in fandom associated with Tor Books (specifically John Scalzi and Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden) as well as the long-standing rivalry between Tor and Correia’s publisher Baen Books, helped fuel a parallel campaign by right-wing fans against Tor Books in protest against comments made by a notable Tor employee about the Puppy campaigns.

The 2015 Worldcon saw a massive increase in supporting memberships as a consequence of the controversy. When the final votes were revealed at the Hugo Award Ceremony, multiple categories had no winner due to voters picking the ‘no award’ option over works pushed onto the ballot by slates.

Aggrieved, the Sad Puppies pointed to the apparent injustice of some notable people losing to ‘no award’, including the widely regarded publisher of Baen Books Toni Weiskopff. Meanwhile, Vox Day claimed the results as a victory as, according to him, he had hoped the Rabid Puppy campaign would lead to multiple Hugo categories being burned to the ground by ‘no award’.

Both the Sad and Rabid Puppies vowed to return for the 2016 Hugo Awards but the distance between the two campaigns had increased.

Meanwhile, America was gearing up for the 2016 Presidential Election. In the polls, the Democratic Party front runner was Hillary Clinton who was facing a hard-fought challenge from the more left-wing candidate Bernie Sanders. The Republican Party had a wide range of potential nominees but the initially assumed man-to-beat Jeb Bush was faring poorly and to many people’s surprise, property tycoon and media celebrity Donald Trump was gaining support among Republican voters.

Welcome to 2016

On January 2 2016 a rally of several hundred supporters of a coalition of right-wing militia groups was held in the town of Burns, Oregon[1]. The rally included members of the so-called Three Percenters militia group[2] and was ostensibly a protest of a conviction of two local landowners who had set fires on federal land. Speaking at the protest was Amon Bundy, the son of Cliven Bundy who had led a tense standoff between militias and law enforcement as part of his campaign against the Federal Bureau of Land Management in 2014.

Towards the end of the protest, Amon Bundy announced his intent to lead an occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge buildings, approximately 50 kilometres out of town. Along with several armed groups, Bundy took over the federally owned buildings. The standoff would last for weeks but despite law enforcement avoiding direct confrontation with the armed groups, one of the protestors was shot and killed after a car chase[3].

It was an inauspicious start to a year.

For those looking for ill-omens, the death of David Bowie on January 10 2016 was significant. Bowie’s long and mercurial career had been underlined by the release just two days earlier by his final album Blackstar[4]. His death at 69 felt far too soon but in April of the same year, the death of another pop-culture icon, Prince, at age 57 added to a feeling of a year marked by ill fortune[5].

Internationally, the Syrian Civil War continued as a multi-factional conflict. As well as the violence of the Syrian government against its own citizens, the role of long-standing opposed regional powers of Turkey, Israel and Iran caused fears of the conflict escalating into a broader regional war. The role of the extremist Islamist group ISIS in the region was also inspiring lone-wolf terrorist attacks further afield. To add to the powder-key element of the conflict, the USA and Russia were at odds militarily in the war and the prospect of the conflict expanding into a direct war between the two superpowers put the two nations closer to war than they had been in decades.

A further consequence of the violence in the Middle East was an increased number of displaced people seeking refuge in other countries. This flow of refugees was met by increased nationalist hostility in Europe, partly fuelled by the ongoing financial fallout and government austerity measures from the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. Terrorism was also helping quasi-populist right-wing Islamophobic nationalist parties electorally in many European countries[7].

In February 2016, the Conservative Party-led government of the UK announced that the planned referendum on whether the UK should remain part of the European Union would be held on 23 June 2016. The so-called Brexit referendum was an attempt by Prime Minister David Cameron to both placate and sideline the Eurosceptic wing of his own party as well as the growing electoral threat of English nationalist parties such as UKIP[8].

Meanwhile, there were still books to read

2015 had been a loud and noisy year in science fiction but amid the culture war conflicts and psephological inventions, books were still being written and published. Even fans distracted by daily news reports from the frontline of the Puppy conflict found time to read and (perhaps more importantly) argue and debate about what they had read.

The Best-of-2015 articles and recommended reading lists summing up the year had a cornucopia of works from established and new authors. On-going series such as Ann Leckie’s Radch Trilogy had new entries including Charles Stross adding to his long-running Laundry series with The Annihilation Score[9]. The chattering fans in the comments at File 770 were getting excited by newcomer Natasha Pulley’s clockwork fantasy about predestination The Watchmaker of Filigree Street [10]. Other books being recommended included Jim Butcher’s new steampunk series The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass, Elizabeth Bear’s fantasy Western Karen Memory and Kai Ashante Wilson’s Sorcerer of the Wildeeps[11]. Larry Correia was also getting noticed in the ‘Best Of’ lists with his own new fantasy series for 2015, Son of the Black Sword which eschewed the stereotypical epic fantasy setting of a quasi-middle ages Europe for a world based on pre-modern India [12].

However, two books, in particular, were receiving a lot of attention.

The first of these was Becky Chambers’s A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. The book in many ways was a conventional story of a spaceship and its crew off on an interstellar adventure. Chambers though had but added emphasis on the story being about a found family working through their differences in what was a departure from the more grim tone of many contemporary books in SFF. What was more notable was the route through which the book had been published. Chambers had used the crowd-funding platform Kickstarter in 2015 as a way to get enough funding to spend time finishing her novel. Initially self-published, the popular support for the novel led to Chambers getting a more traditional publishing deal for the novel. Like Andy Weir’s The Martian, Chambers had found other routes to publishing success created by how the internet could connect fans and authors. Notably, Larry Corriea and even earlier, John Scalzi had also used internet platforms to connect directly with fans to produce debut novels in science fiction and fantasy which had segued into deals with traditional publishers.

While Chambers’s novel took a turn away from the emotionally harrowing aspects of the genre, the other novel receiving even more buzz than most was the first novel in N.K.Jemisin’s new series: The Fifth Season. The book starts with the intentional starting of a planet-wide cataclysm and the murder of a child and goes on to follow three characters at different times as they experience variously a world plunged into a tectonic disaster, child-enslavement and exploitation by a brutal regime of a subset of the population with strange powers. The author has stated that the novel is fantasy but the story weaved both fantasy and science-fiction tropes together which itself lead to fans embroiling themselves in the unresolvable discussion of where the difference between the two sibling genres lie.

Mixing three different viewpoints and three different styles of writing, The Fifth Season was the sort of novel that invited debate and this was further fuelled by the story finishing with the kind of twists more common in short fiction than multi-book fantasies.

Let the lists begin!

More than ever, fans were paying attention to what had been published in 2015. With the Hugo Nominations set to open in early 2016, people were keenly aware of the events of the previous year. While there were no overt moves for a left-wing version of the Sad Puppies 3 campaign, fans on multiple platforms were talking about and collating what they had read the previous year and what was eligible in which category. The fear was that Vox Day’s Rabid Puppies would once again sweep the Hugo Categories and the one weapon his opponents had was lots of sci-fi fans and their love of books.

However, the strategy of mobilising lots of fans to collate what books they liked was not a strategy confined to the opponents of Vox Day. Elsewhere the fourth iteration of Sad Puppies was underway and it would prove to be a very different kind of hound than its kennel mates.

Next Time: The Ironic Tale of Sad Puppies 4


Lodestar 2021 Review: Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

We have a lot more reading time this year in the Hugo Awards than usual and I’ve found I’ve made some dents into categories I don’t normally get to. My biggest problem with longer fiction is that my reading time for novels is now almost exclusively when I’m exercising which means audiobooks. I’ve recently launched myself into reading Seanann McGuire’s October Daye series but that’s a post for a different day. The other foray has been into fiction for a younger audience in the other not-a-Hugo aka the Lodestar Award.

First book in that arena is Legendborn, a YA urban fantasy Arthurian romance and that’s a very nice cocktail of sub-genres. Chaste love triangles? It’s a Young Adult cliche, it’s how urban fantasy spawned paranormal romance but it is nothing new to the legend of King Arthur. The classic Matter of Britain is such a rich vein that Legendborn feels so natural a fit to its premise that I feel like it must have been done a thousand times before but I can’t think of any examples. It cleverly fills an empty niche and if it had done only that then Tracy Deonn would deserve plaudits if only for spotting an unfilled spot.

Clever sub-genre choices though aren’t what makes a book worthy of a not-quite-a-Hugo-but-yeah-really-it-is-a-Hugo-c’mon and the test is not picking a clever premise but doing clever things with the premise and I’m genuinely impressed with how Deonn works with the idea and then pulls out layers and layers while still delivering on the demands of the sub-sub-genre.

Bree Matthews is a bright student who gains acceptance to an “early college” placement at a notable college in a Southern US state. Her academic success though has been marred by tragedy — shortly after being accepted to the college, her mother died in a car accident. She now finds herself as a sixteen-year-old, in the quasi-adult world of university still grieving and with unresolved issues around her last argument with her mother.

On her face night, things get weirder when she encounters magical creatures and a clique of students who appear to have magical powers…

So if you want the magical school setting and the urban fantasy masquerade and all that stuff, Legendborn delivers from training montages to magical competitions and handsome but troubled young men. We quickly learn that (gasp) the legend of King Arthur is a cover story for a history of a secret war between magical initiates and invading demons. A historic secret society at the college is actually a front for an international society of descendants from King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Each family of descendants of the knights have a chosen representative with the capability of gaining special powers matched to the lineage.

Clever stuff but…

Bree is Black and the secret society has all the baggage that you might imagine of a clique of wealthy families connected to a historic institution in America’s south. Legendborn isn’t a subversion of the standard tropes of its multiple genres but it does allow the plot and the character to dig into the history and assumptions of its own settings.

The mystery of her mother’s death drives Bree into involvement with the so-called ‘legend born but also leads her into looking into the history of her own family. There she learns not just about some of the deeper secrets of the secret society she has become embroiled in but also a different history and a different model of magic.

There are some really nice touches here and while I don’t want to give too many spoilers there are some subtle choices in the world-building. For example, in the Arthurian set-up, which is presented initially as the magical world in which Bree is initiated, magic is based on lineages and bloodlines. Inheritance and family are key aspects of having power. Later, as Bree taps into a different world of magic, family is still important but it is transmitted via oral tradition from grandmothers to granddaughters. The comparison and contrast between the idea of magic (and hence power) as a family legacy is very well done but it is subtle and woven into the more conventional narrative.

The novel is part of a series and the over-arching plot isn’t complete by the end but as a stand alone novel, it works and there is a good (and revealing) climax that shifts events and character relationships into a new state.

No big plot surprises but an excellent example of how to take what superficially looks like a by-the-numbers plot and do engaging things with it.

Covid won’t necessarily get naturally less deadly by itself

The topic of consensus has come up recently and it is interesting to look at the flip side of scientific consensus and look at broad rules of thumb that exist in wider society. With diseases caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites etc there is a reasonable (but flawed) assumption that over time a specific disease will become less deadly. The assumption rests on a rough sketch of how evolution works. An infected person needs to be alive for the virus to grow and spread and so, killing the infected person is of less advantage to a virus than leaving the person alive and walking about. It’s a reasonable idea because we are all hosts to a wide range of viruses that cause common colds that usually just make us snotty and miserable rather than dead.

But it is no more than a rule of thumb and the reasonableness of the idea hides a whole pile of complexity. Also, there’s an underlying cognitive error we all fall into when considering how natural selection works that makes us pretend that there’s some sort of agency behind how these changes happen. A virus doesn’t want to kill people, it has no wants or any capacity for anything like wants or a direction nor does evolution strive for perfection. An additional reasoning error is a more subtle version of the old anti-evolutionary argument “if humans evolved from apes, how come there are still apes?” Evolution spawns new varieties of reproducing things rather than just replacing old ones with shiny upgraded versions.

A moment’s thought about examples of long term diseases that humans have faced shows that many diseases remain very deadly despite long histories. Evidence of smallpox is present throughout most of recorded history and its deadliness was reduced not by the virus becoming less virulent by itself. Obviously, there are related viruses to smallpox that are less deadly but humanity had to live with those as well as smallpox. Improved care reduced the deadliness, inoculation as practice (intentional infection of people with matter from a smallpox-infected person possibly first used in China) reduced the impact of the disease and eventually, vaccination led to the disease being wiped out.

Influenza keeps working its own happy way through the evolutionary gambling tables each year, throwing up variations that are more or less injurious. Every living (or not quite living) thing is a glitchy, cobbled-together trade-off of adaptations. “Less deadly” is one direction but there’s not a simple genetic switch or “deadliness” parameter a virus can turn up or down without affecting other features of the virus.

Now I’m not a virologist or even a biologist. I don’t know what the odds of new variants of covid being more deadly are. The rule of thumb isn’t utter nonsense, all other things being equal, I can see why it makes sense that maybe a more infectious & less dangerous version of the virus might become more dominant and maybe (if we were very lucky) also give people sufficient immunity that the nastier versions would fade away. I wouldn’t bet money on it though. Again, appealing to what we can see, covid currently is relatively slow to kill people and there’s plenty of time for an infectious person to spread the virus before they feel so sick that they aren’t out and about spreading the disease. Also, many infected people are asymptomatic, so the deadliness is not much of a disadvantage to the disease.

But we really can only get so far trying to think these things through with general knowledge and a critical eye. Expertise matters and literally whatthehelldoIknow. Expertise matters much more, particularly when evaluating multiple competing factors. Here’s an article by experts in microbial evolution and mathematical biology explaining some of the issues far better than I can: https://theconversation.com/will-coronavirus-really-evolve-to-become-less-deadly-153817

That article also links to an academic paper looking at the potential evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. That paper looks at multiple ways the virus may evolve into new strains. On this specific topic it notes:

“A crucial question is how virulence will evolve [28]. As discussed above, direct selection on virulence is weak (Figure 3D,H). Thus, virulence evolution will be driven largely by the indirect effects of pleiotropy. In Figure 4, we consider two potential examples. First, consider mutations that couple a higher transmission rate, the βs, with higher mortality, ɑ (positive pleiotropy, Figure 4A,C), as might occur if mutations increase viral replication rates. In this case, evolution will lead to higher mortality (see inset bars), as an indirect consequence of selection for increased transmission (see Supplemental Information and also [12,29]). Alternatively, consider a mutation that alters tissue tropism such that the disease tends to preferentially infect cells of the upper respiratory tract, rather than the lower respiratory tract. Such infections could lead to a higher transmission rate but be less virulent (negative pleiotropy) [30]. This would generate indirect selection for lower mortality rates (Figure 4B,D).”

On the evolutionary epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2, Troy Day, Sylvain Gandon, Sébastien Lion, and Sarah P. Otto Current Biology 30, R841–R870, August 3, 2020 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7287426/pdf/main.pdf

[Word of the day: pleiotropy – when a gene impacts two or more unrelated traits https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleiotropy]

So there you go, right? I’ve got experts and an academic citation from a paper with maths in it AND GRAPHS! Case closed, right?

Not really. I like the argument I just wrote but it is far from immune from being BS. I’m smart, STEM-educated and I can find academic papers and quote from them (and thank the Humanities for those skills). Yet, I’ve no real idea whether the academics I quoted are actually good at their jobs. I don’t know whether the two essays I’ve quoted are actually making well-known errors in the field of evolutionary virology or pushing some heterodox minority position. For all I know, the field of evolutionary virology is currently engaged in raging flame wars on this very issue and there’s a really, really strong argument that (aside from a few exceptions) viruses nearly always get substantially less deadly for reasons other than better treatment or vaccines. It’s not just that I’m not an expert on these topics but also I don’t know anything about the community of people who ARE experts.

Now, given the currency and high profile nature of this issue, I’m fairly confident that I’m not making an ass of myself and quoting a paper that virologists are scorning. Yet, this takes me back to the real topic of this post: consensus and truth not just in science but in any body of knowledge/field of expertise.

A body of knowledge is not a set of textbooks but a community of expertise in which opinions and experience matter. Those communities are flawed. They will have biases. They will be slow to adopt new ideas that are actually more true than old ideas. They will be vulnerable to professional and commercial pressures. These things are true because science is done by humans and communities of humans have these issues. That means we should not unthinkingly accept what any given community of experts say as the unimpeachable truth. However, the odds are that a community of expertise that adopts methods of self-correction and reasoning is far more likely to be a source of truth than our naive intuition about complex issues.

Do I have one more rhetorical trick up my sleeve to convince you that covid won’t necessarily get less deadly? I have lots but as this is a portmanteau essay on many things, including the art of rhetoric then I shall use a failed student of the art to convince you that covid can get worse:

“These utterly ignorant idiots don’t understand that it is the flawed vaccines that are causing the next variant to be worse, not the unvaccinated. If it had been left to progress naturally through the population, the virus would have become more infectious and less harmful, like every other virus in history. It’s already doing that, which is why the Delta variant is estimated to be 10x less lethal than the original one.”

Vox Day, https://web.archive.org/web/20210726205857/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2021/07/when-vaxxing-makes-it-worse.html

I call the move I’m making here the anti-appeal to a lack of expertise 😀

Susan’s Salon: 2021 July 25/26


Please use the comment section to just chat about whatever you want. Susan’s Salon is posted early Monday (Australian Eastern Standard Time, which is still Sunday in most other countries). It’s fine to be sad, worried, vaccinated, unvaccinated-yet, angry or maybe even happy (or all of those things at once).

Please feel free to post what you like (either troubling news or pleasant distractions) in the comments for this open thread. [However, no cranky conflicts between each other in the comments.] Links, videos, cat pictures 🐈 etc are fine! Whatever you like and be nice to one another 😇

Sydney gets its own anti-lockdown protests

Rowdy and sometimes violent scenes yesterday as Sydney got its own anti-lockdown protest. In what must be one of the most stupid political movements, several thousand people attempted to march through the CBD despite the city being in a strict lockdown due to spiralling numbers of cases due to the delta-variant of covid-19.

The strangest and most widely shared incident being a protestor punching a police horse: https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/antilockdown-protesters-descend-on-sydney-20210724-h1xdrl.html

Interestingly, the protests in Sydney were bigger than the ones in Melbourne https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-07-24/anti-covid-lockdown-protest-in-sydney-cbd/100320620 That is curious because while people in Melbourne have had a series of lockdowns and strict measures over the course of the pandemic, Sydney has had (overall) a relatively easy time of things compared to the rest of the world.

Covid: Trajectory

A few weeks in and Australia is still struggling to get on top of the recent delta-variant outbreak of covid. It’s apparent that the initially muddled and delayed lockdown in Sydney was too late to keep the virus bottled up and it is now spreading in more rural areas.

As regular readers will know, I’ve tried to stick with one fairly consistent way of looking at covid numbers: cumulative confirmed cases per population size. There are no perfect numbers and these figures have the same issues in terms of being dependent on testing rates. However, my point about the graphs has been that it is not so much the magnitude as the slope of the graph. Lower testing rates may obscure or delay how that graph gets steeper but when the virus is spreading exponentially it will show up in the numbers.

On the “delay” aspect with testing, I thought I’d illustrate that with a simplified graph. The underlying data is a number that increases proportionally by 1.2 times the previous “day’s” number. Two lines show 5% of the current day’s total (blue) and 1% of the current day’s total. Obviously, testing rates do impact the number of reported cases but inevitably the numbers go wooosh regardless.

Putting the curves side-by-side helps show how the pattern is similar but these two lines look identical if plotted with different scales on the vertical axis. The underlying shapes are similar in a mathematical sense where the difference is scale.

Anyway, still locked down for the time being and the curve is still going up.

Debarkle Chapter 51: Meanwhile…Donald Trump

It is 1987 and the question for American conservatives is who will succeed Ronald Reagan not just as President of the United States but as the ideological figurehead of the conservative movement. The most likely candidate for the Republican nomination is George H.W. Bush, the current Vice President but Bush’s credibility among the right of the Republican Party isn’t strong. Nevertheless, his role at Ronald Reagan’s side will make him a difficult candidate to beat. The alternatives to Bush include Bob Dole and Jack Kemp but many on the right are putting their hopes in televangelist Pat Robertson who was promising to clear out liberals from the apparatus of the federal government.[1] Robertson had built his campaign by appealing for millions of volunteers in his Evangelical Christian base to rally to his cause. Press coverage of the race has focused on the increasing influence of the radical Christian movement within the Republican Party:

Continue reading “Debarkle Chapter 51: Meanwhile…Donald Trump”

Debarkle Chapter 50: 2015 Aftermath — July to December

The Sad Puppy defeat could have been taken as a repudiation of what the Sad Puppies had stood for but in the wake of the Hugo Award ceremony, nobody had a clear idea what the Sad Puppies had stood for. Larry Correia’s original campaign had framed itself as promoting fun, honest action in science fiction as a blow against overly literary fiction yet Sad Puppies 2 had promoted Vox Day’s Opera Vita Aeterna, a story in which an elf discusses theology and Sad Puppies 3 had promoted the work of John C Wright, a writer even more obsessed with literary aesthetics and philosophical themes. Critics of Brad Torgersen’s original framing of the Sad Puppies 3 campaign had pointed to his anti-diversity rhetoric and yet Torgersen could genuinely point to a slate that was not homogeneously white and male. True, the impact of the Puppy slates reduced the representation of women on the ballot compared to 2013 but it was still a better balance than relatively recent Hugo ballots (e.g. 2007). Sad Puppy supporters had rallied around a claim that the Hugo Awards were biased against conservative writers and works but also the Sad Puppy leadership had denied that the campaign was political. In an attempt to prevent critics of the Sad Puppy campaign from framing the campaign in any particular way, defenders of the campaigns had counter-examples ready.

Continue reading “Debarkle Chapter 50: 2015 Aftermath — July to December”