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.

In late August, founding member of the Evil League of Evil and multi-nominated Sad & Rabid Puppy nominee, John C Wright reacted to the defeat of the Puppy slates at the Hugo Awards with a post where he attempted to encapsulate the campaign:

“If there are any honest columns, or even a column not choked to the brim with lies, from the viewpoint of our dishonorable and lying-ass attackers, I would surely link to it.

There are none. Even columnists who perhaps imagine themselves to be neutral or balanced blithely fall into the orchestrated falsehoods, and do not admit what this struggle has always been about:

We are attempting to pry the control of the Hugos out of the hand of a clique or Inner Ring run by Patrick Nielsen Hayden for the benefit of his abortive antichristian ideology and the fiscal benefit (which, at one time there was to be had for publishing Hugo Award winning works), and return control to the fans.

We wanted it to stop being the Tor Award for Political Correctness and to return to being the Hugo Award.”

https://www.scifiwright.com/2015/08/for-your-reading-pleasure/

Yet even the framing of the campaign as anti-Tor Books was contradicted both by direct rhetoric and by actual actions. The Tor Boycott campaign (see earlier chapters) was stated to be not part of the Sad Puppy campaign per se both by its major advocate (Mad Genius Peter Grant) and from the other direction by a direct denial by Larry Correia that it was a Sad Puppy boycott. Further not only had the Sad Puppy slate ensured that a Tor published book was a finalist (The Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J Anderson) the eventual winner of the 2015 Hugo Awards was a Tor book that had received the overt and vocal support of Rabid Puppy supremo Vox Day (The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu).

Wright would go on to explain in the same column all the various things that the Puppy campaigns were not:

“Our motives are precisely what we said, both seriously and in jest.

Seriously, we thought and said that limiting the award to the radical-feminist Intersection-Theory Critical-Theory homonormative crap that the Inner Ring likes damages the brand and threatens to turn science fiction into one more postmodern wasteland of dreary garbage, neither edifying nor entertaining.

When is the last time an award winning science fiction tale or related work had even an iota of real science in it? THE MARTIAN by Weir was crammed with diamond hard science. It won nothing.

When is the last time an award winning science fiction tale had profound literary merit, seeped in the traditions of Western epic and romance from the classical period to now? My one THE GOLDEN AGE was both imaginative and rooted in the classics. It won nothing.

When is the last time an award winning science fiction tale was fun? Read HARD MAGIC by Larry Correia. It won nothing.

In jest, we said that the leading cause of sadness syndrome in cute furry puppies was the predominance of brain-meltingly absurd uberleftist ideological agitprop  being rocketed to the top of the most prestigious awards in the field, and we asked for the sake of the puppies to grant awards based on merit.

This is not about conservative versus liberal.

The Morlocks are not liberals, except in the sense that they use the liberal vocabulary to express their illiberal ideas. And, of the four founding members of the Evil Legion of Evil Authors who decided to stand up to the Inner Ringwraiths,  I am the only social and political conservative properly so called.

This is not about white males versus minorities.

Again, of the founding four, I am the only white male. (For those of you racists who insist we call carry an Ahnenpass, the others are Female, Hispanic, American Indian).

This is not about fun adventure fiction versus highbrow literary fiction.

I write highbrow literary fiction more filled with allusion and philosophical depth than anything the Morlocks recommend. Each time they claim to be what I am, an refined aesthete of exquisite literary accomplishment, another imp in hell laughs in the delight and the Empire of Lies grows another inch. Unlike the poseurs and pretend intellectuals, however, I can also read, admire and applaud wrecked but well meant pulp fiction and lowbrow fun. Because I am human and I like humans, whereas the Morlocks regard humans as food animals.

This is not about returning to the past of John W. Campbell versus the wondrous new future promised by Michael Moorcock and the New Wave, or whatever. This is not about rebels versus reactionaries.”

ibid

That other supporters of the Puppy campaigns or even major figures in the campaigns had said or implied that the campaigns were about at least some of the things Wright had listed was neither here nor there. Pulp v literary, right v left, diversity v homogeneity, Campbell v New Wave, Trad-publishing v Indie? Counter-examples to generalisations abounded. Wright was confident that the Puppy campaigns were about something, spectators were less sure. Even Wright’s example of Andy Weir’s breakout hit The Martian as an example of what the Puppies were fighting for and what the non-Puppies were opposed to was contradicted by the Hugo nomination statistics. Without the Puppy slates, Andy Weir would have been a finalist for the Astounding/Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

Back in April, after the shock of the Puppy sweep of the Hugo nominations had sunk in among fans, author and editor Nick Mamatas had focused on a key claim of the Sad Puppy campaign (one alluded to in Wright’s later post above). In a comment at John Scalzi’s blog, Mamatas had laid out a specific challenge:

“If the Hugos have really been dominated by leftist material that prized message over story since the mid-1990s (Brad’s timeline), it should be very simple for members of the Puppy Party to name
a. one work of fiction
b. that won a Hugo Award
c. while foregrounding a left message to the extent that the story was ruined or misshaped
d. per set of winners since 1995.
That’s all. Just a list of twenty books or stories—a single winner per year. Even though a single winner per year wouldn’t prove domination, I’m happy to make it easy for the Puppies.
Any Puppy Partisan want to start naming some names?”

Nick Mamatas, comment https://whatever.scalzi.com/2015/04/20/keeping-up-with-the-hugos-42015/#comment-781272

Puppy supporters had raised objections to four works over the past few years, specifically John Scalzi’s Redshirts, Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice, John Chu’s The Water that Falls on You From Nowhere and Rachel Swirsky’s If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love. However, those criticisms were inconsistent, poorly sourced or often incorrect (If You Were a Dinosaur My Love had won the Nebula Award, not the Hugo Award). Despite the many column inches that had been written about the Hugo Awards by supporters of the Puppy campaigns, a sustained, coherent and well-referenced critique of the award from a Puppy perspective simply didn’t exist.

Back in July, when Mike Glyer’s File 770 was winding back the daily Puppy round-ups, one of the many regulars who were discussing the Puppy campaigns in the comments summed up their own puzzlement about the past several months of conflict:

“Here at the End of All Things, are some answers/ things we’re still missing:
– A honest explanation as to how the SP3 slate was created,
– How the tactics of slate-nominations furthers *any* of the constantly changing rationales provided by the Puppies
– Anyone taking on the Mamatas Challenge
– Evidence of a previous slate/ bloc-voting effort. The Puppies keep saying that’s the only way Stuff They Don’t Like Could have won, but are strangely reticent at providing any evidence or proof of their allegations.
– Why Wisdom of the Internet???? Seriously why? (And yelling about Scalzi is not a good answer)”

Snowcrash, comment http://file770.com/to-your-scattered-kennels-go-76/comment-page-3/#comment-303817

The leaders of the Puppy campaigns and the many people who had supported those campaigns had a myriad of motives, perspectives and anxieties about social change. The Hugo Award campaigns had given disparate individuals a common purpose without any clear common philosophy. As Snowcrash’s question highlighted, there was not even a clear idea of how the Hugo slates would achieve any of the various aims that had been stated. In the end, only Vox Day had any clarity but even he had multiple motives including his personal feuds against the Nielsen Haydens and John Scalzi, his overt anti-feminist and ethno-nationalist beliefs and his desire to run his own GamerGate-like campaign.

In the wake of the defeat at the Hugo Awards, the less immediate reactions from supporters of the Puppy campaigns were also manifold.

At Mad Genius Club, ex-pat Australian Kate Paulk had taken on the mantle of organising Sad Puppies 4. The next part of the Debarkle will look at this iteration of the Puppies, but Paulk was promising a campaign that would directly address the more practical criticisms of Sad Puppies 3. The new campaign would be transparent about the nomination process and would also not present a simple slate of five works per category. The stated objective was to increase involvement in the Hugo Awards.

Others looked to new awards as an alternative to the Hugos. Author M.A.Rothman had been deeply disappointed by the results of the Hugo Award and the ceremony itself. He had encouraged his children to take an interest in the ballot and they were upset when multiple categories went to ‘no award’.

“I find that a great shame – and I blame not the people who established the ballots to vote for (for my kids enjoyed a great deal of what they read on the ballots), but as my kids noted – they blame the ones who made them feel “like the rug was pulled out from under me.”
I’d offered Fandom my boys – my boys now reject them.”

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10204934540299315

Inspired in part by the disappointment that Rothman had expressed and by the perceived injustice of the ‘no award’ results, the short-lived Jovian Awards were delivered in late December. Mike Resnick, Kary English, Arlan Andrews, Ken Burnside, and Toni Weisskopf, were each sent impressive glass ball trophies. These winners of the Jovians were the Hugo finalists who had come second to ‘no award’ in Hugo categories with no winner[1].

English wrote about the award she received:

“The photo doesn’t do it justice. The swirls are a deep, rich purple, and those sparkles near the bottom are coppery. The award is weighty, and it arrived in a velvet-lined presentation box. The award came with a certificate that praised both the story and the way I conducted myself throughout Hugo season.

I’ll be frank, here – after everything that went on, this brought tears to my eyes. So thank you, Jovians, whoever you are.”

http://karyenglish.com/2015/12/my-jovian-award-a-nifty-tilting-planet/

In a similar vein, George Phillies at the National Fantasy Fan Federation, re-started group’s Neffy Awards that had been discontinued in 2012. Only two awards were give out for 2015:

Heroic Achievement: All Hugo Fandom — for reviving the all-hobby fan feud
Best Editor: Toni Weisskopf – Baen

https://tnfff.org/neffy-awards/

The Neffy Awards would continue on for several years with a bigger range of categories and finalists but up to this point, each year Toni Weisskopf has been the sole nominee and winner in the Best Editor category.

The not-unreasonable idea that there were some Puppy-slated nominees who deserved awards for their work implied the existence of a broad middle position on the so-called Puppy Kerfuffle of 2015. People who had been perceived as critics of the Puppies such as George R.R. Martin and Eric Flint had both argued against using ‘no award’ on more credible finalists. Fan writer Mike Glyer was regarded with particular hostility among Puppy supporters because of his daily Puppy round-ups at File 770 and the way the comment section to the round-ups had been a major centre of anti-Puppy criticism — yet, Glyer had put forward cogent arguments for Toni Weiskopf to win the Best Editor Hugo Award over more than one of the Sad Puppy campaigns. Likewise, there were people perceived as supporters of the Sad Puppy slates that in the aftermath of the Hugo vote offered cogent criticism of the tactics and tone of the Puppy campaign.

Baen author Chuck Gannon was in the unusual position of being on the Sad Puppy slate for his novel Trial By Fire but not an actual finalist. In an added twist, his novel was a finalist for the Nebula awards without the intervention of a slate. In September 2015, Gannon wrote an essay that was posted as a comment at John Scalzi’s Whatever blog[2] and also as a guest post on Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter Nation blog. Gannon’s argument was primarily about tone and invective and rested on the kind of both-sides style argument that George R.R. Martin had sometimes deployed:

“So that’s why my concern is with how the discourse is conducted. Yes, there are always going to be arguments and debates, some more ferocious than others. And some burn themselves out. But some go on for longer, and do far more damage, than they must. And that typically happens when a debate starts falling under the real (or perceived) rhetorical influence of radical extremists like Vox Day or Requires Hate. Because although they might sound like they are deeply invested in the debate, their involvement is motivated by other objectives.”

https://whatever.scalzi.com/2015/09/02/wrapping-up-2015-a-hugo-awards-open-thread/#comment-796394

The comparison of Vox Day with Requires Hate was one that had been made by others even though the juxtaposition is flawed in multiple ways[3]. At Monster Hunter Nation, Gannon’s thoughtful words were met with more direct hostility from Vox Day:

“I happen to know that Charles Gannon is both a coward and a liar. But more importantly, he’s just wrong. He demands unilateral disarmament when it comes to rhetoric and completely fails to observe that you cannot “choose your battles” when you are attacked by SJWs.

No doubt he’ll eventually learn this when they turn on him for one reason or another; they always do, sooner or later.”

https://monsterhunternation.com/2015/10/12/sad-puppies-guest-post-by-chuck-gannon/#comment-71380

Gannon’s thoughts were not the only retrospective on the Puppy campaign from people partially involved. Ken Burnside had been on the Puppy slates for his essay The Hot Equations, which was one of the more critically well-regarded finalists for Best Related Work. In a guest post at Mad Genius Club, Burnside attempted to unravel the distinction between a list of recommendations and a slate. In his opinion, Brad Torgersen’s initial attempts at the Sad Puppy 3 slate was more akin to a set of recommendations whereas the Rabid Puppy slate was unambiguously a slate. However, the Sad Puppy campaign as a whole was a different matter:

“The Sad Puppies recommended reading list became the basis of the Rabid Puppies slate. The first pieces describing how the two were indistinguishable came out in early March. While I was published by Vox Day, I was a Sad Puppy, not a Rabid one. One very important difference between the two: Vox said to vote his slate; Brad said “These are highly recommended, worth reading, and if you agree, worth nominating.”

The announcement of the Sad Puppies slate was a mishmash of “Let’s get a certain type of SF represented” which I agree with, and a large charge of “Let’s turn this into a culture-war front.” I agree with the former. I think the latter is profoundly stupid.”

https://madgeniusclub.com/2015/08/30/guest-post-by-ken-burnside/

Burnside also discussed the hostility he experienced:

“In the four month span between the ballot being made public and the end of voting on July 31st, I got threats of assault if I showed up at WorldCon (none materialized), I got called a racist, homophobic sexist neo-Nazi, and I watched lies and fabrications show up in national media. The Puppies are all racist white men (which is why the nominated slate had seven women in it). I mostly played duck-and-cover; Brad Torgersen was on scapegoat duty.”

ibid

On the ceremony itself he discussed his dislike of the asterisks (citing Kurt Vonnegut’s comparison of the symbol to an anus) and events of the night itself, including the booing:

“Then Best Editor, Long Form went to No Award, and the cheering made the floor tremble. Several people (myself included) started booing. David said “booing is not appropriate” and I came about a half-second away from standing up and jumping on the stage to grab the mic. Bryan Thomas Schmidt DID get up and curse loudly. Toni Weisskopf apparently never went to the ceremony at all; per Bryan the two of them commiserated for a few hours after the ceremony.”

ibid[4]

However, Burnside differed sharply from Brad Torgersen and other Puppy supporters in his analysis of what the underlying issues were. For him, the changes in what science fiction was being awarded were natural organic changes. Writing in science fiction had become organically more sophisticated. The “Heroic Engineer/Officer/Competent Protagonist Solves The Problem” style of story from the John Campbell age had given way to writing with characters with more depth and more flaws. Inevitably, works with literary elements were the ones going to win literary awards. While Burnside had joined the Puppy slates to address the “imbalance”, the campaign itself had failed.

“What happened instead? The Hugos became a front in the culture war. Brad Torgersen’s posts at the very beginning about “victim class check box fiction” destroyed any rapport with people who weren’t already in his camp. Other comments made by Torgersen kept the same divisive tone. Vox Day’s posts on the subject started at inflammatory and went up from there. His business model is built off of it.

Both were using the tactic of “say something outrageous, wait for the ‘other side’ to get pissed off, and turn to the choir to say ‘see, I told you they’d over-react.” When trying to build a roster of voters nominating literary works, this sure as hell doesn’t convince people that your side has any merit.

Conducting literary criticism via the rhetoric of culture war is profoundly stupid if you want your complaints listened to. The counter-reaction to the Puppies was justifiable, predictable, and seems to have fed into a considerable media campaign, one that Torgersen had to threaten libel lawsuits to tone down”

ibid

Figures like Chuck Gannon, Wendy Delamater of Abyss & Apex magazine and Kary English had each become involved in the Sad Puppy campaigns but had attempted to push back against the influence of Vox Day (sometimes in the mildest way). They also offered different rationalisations and expectations about the nature of the Sad Puppy campaign. Making generalisation about the Sad Puppies in the widest sense of the term is difficult because of these contrasting viewpoints.

In the case of Ken Burnside, he overtly stated that “while I was published by Vox Day, I was a Sad Puppy, not a Rabid one”. However, the multiple nominations on the Sad Puppy slate of works from Castalia House (such as Burnside’s essay from the Riding the Red Horse anthology) had added to the entanglement of the two campaigns.

However, common to the critique of events from this quasi-middle ground was a sense of the Hugo Awards, for non-malicious reasons, were overlooking certain styles and approaches to science-fiction that had once been popular. George R.R. Martin was not averse to a degree of rapprochement on this issue. In late December he expressed hope that the Sad Puppies 4 campaign would be focused on a recommended reading list.

“And that would be great. That would mean no Puppygate II. That would mean a spirited literary debate about writers and books without the acrimony and the name-calling. From that debate a truly democratic and diverse ballot could emerge, one that represents all tastes. That would mean no ‘No Awards‘ at Big MAC II, and the Hugo ceremony could once again become a joyous celebration of the best and brightest in our field.”

https://grrm.livejournal.com/461206.html

In response, Brad Torgersen’s anger had not mellowed:

“I suspect that in order for a genuine mending to take place, between your average Sad Puppy, and the SF/F establishment, there would need to be several things.
1) A very public admission by the establishment that the NO AWARD bombing of the 2015 Hugos was a gross error.
2) A very public admission by the establishment that the CHORFholes were also a gross error.
3) A very public apology from the establishment, for the deliberate conflation of the Sads, with the Rabids.
4) A cessation of the endless game of shibboleths and street cred checks, on the part of Trufans, as conducted against everybody else (looks hard at Steve Davidson.)”

https://bradrtorgersen.wordpress.com/2015/12/27/sad-puppies-and-the-future/

Torgersen had coined his own term for wooden asterisks that David Gerrold had handed out at the award ceremony. Combining his earlier term “CHORF” (see chapter 38) with “asshole” to create the portmanteau term “CHORFhole”, the asterisks were one of Torgersen’s top four lingering issues with the events of 2015.

However, as the Hugo statistics had revealed, it had been the Rabid Puppy campaign that had had the stronger numbers and the better discipline in the 2015 Hugo nominations. Vox Day’s motives may have been mixed and sometimes unclear but he was clear that his intent towards the Hugo Awards was hostile. He was also under no illusions that he or a work from his publishing house stood any chance of winning a Hugo Award. He was under no personal need to appear to be working within the system or to achieve results by legitimate means.

Day was not going to publicly announce his plans for Rabid Puppies 2 until he was ready but it was reasonable to assume that Castalia House would be part of his strategy. Brad Torgersen’s picks for Sad Puppies 3 had included four different works from Castalia House and these works had also received promotional “Book Bombs” from Larry Correia[5]. Even without the Rabid Puppy slate, the 2015 Hugo Award controversy had been an effective promotional exercise for Day. The conflict had brought the publisher’s output to the attention of right-leaning fans of military science fiction i.e. many of the supporters of the Sad Puppies and many Baen Books fans.

Castalia House had built upon the success of Riding the Red Horse with a minor publishing coup. In April of 2015, the publisher had announced that they would be republishing the series of military science fiction anthologies created by veteran author Jerry Pournelle. In September Pournelle announced via File 770 that there would be a new volume in the series, again published by Castalia House. Pournelle explained how he saw the continuing relevance of the series:

“I’m vain enough to think it’s an important series, TWBW, and now that Iran is likely to have the bomb perhaps we need to think about the future of war. It seemed impossible to get out of the Cold War without at least a few atomic explosions, but we did it with containment, deterrence, and defense. I won’t live to see the end of the next phase, but I like to believe TWBW helped get people thinking about how to get out of the Cold War alive; maybe a couple of new volumes will help with these new dangers.”

http://file770.com/pournelle-resumes-there-will-be-war-anthology-series/

Pournelle was famously one of the more consistently right-wing voices in science fiction over several decades but even so, his choice of publishing with Castalia House added an additional degree of apparent legitimacy to the publisher. Castalia was also publishing more new work from John C. Wright as well as works of science fiction scholarship such as a multi-volume examination of the work of Gene Wolfe[7].

A second source for potential nominees to promote the publisher was the Castalia House blog. Puppy-slated Hugo 2015 Finalist Jeffro Johnson had begun a mammoth series reviewing the fantasy novels that had been listed in the so-called “Appendix N” of the original version of Dungeons & Dragons by Gary Gygax. These books were intended as a way of encapsulating the kind of settings and stories that Gygax hoped to emulate in the role-playing game.

“The forty-three installments of this series delve only into the books that Gary Gygax singled out in particular, and for the authors that he recommended their entire body of works, I only covered a single novel. Then there are the series that he highlighted– I stopped with those after the first volume when I sometimes wanted to put the entire project on hold to read them all. Finally, there are all the fantasy authors that wrote since the seventies that people think deserve a place on a list like this. People want to know if more recent authors measure up to these old classics, sure. But people really want to know which contemporaries of the Appendix N authors got snubbed by being excluded when they really deserved to be there.”

http://www.castaliahouse.com/appendix-n-matters/

Johnson was one of several people associated with the Puppy campaigns who had taken a renewed interest in the history of the genre. The Castalia House blog had begun looking back to the older pulp era of science fiction characterised by the first half of the twentieth century. If Brad Torgersen and Sarah Hoyt had been making aesthetic appeals to the height of John Campbell’s or Robert Heinlein’s influence on science fiction, there was now a section of right-leaning fandom looking even further back.

This interest in pre-war pulps was not a particular interest of Vox Day’s but other aspects of the Castalia House blog more clearly reflected Day’s agenda. Blogger Daniel Eness produced a five-part series on the blog entitled “Safe Space as Rape Room” that claimed to expose a pattern of collusion and cover-up of child sexual abuse within science fiction. The series repeated and expanded upon Vox Day’s posts on the same topic from 2014 and looked at figures who had been convicted of child-abuse related crimes: Walter Breen, Ed Kramer and Isaac Asimov’s son David. The series also looked at Marion Zimmer Bradley as well as accusations of various kinds levelled at Arthur C. Clarke and Samuel R. Delany[8]. The argumentative style followed the same premise as Vox Day’s 2014 posts on the topic and attempted to connect historic abuse with the recent leadership of the SFWA (see earlier chapters).

Day would not be lacking for items to include in his 2016 Rabid Puppies list.

Meanwhile, the true significance of the ‘no award’ vote was visible by an absence. One fear expressed earlier in 2015 was that the response to the Puppy slates would be left-leaning counter slates. A moderately well-disciplined anti-Puppy slate could, in theory, easily overwhelm any impact of new Puppy slates. However, this strategy would seriously impact the credibility of the Hugo Awards and essentially convert the award from a popular vote to one with a narrow jury i.e. whoever controlled the counter-slate. The visible and emphatic vote against slates in the final voting of the 2015 Hugo Awards sent a clear message that slates of any kind were unlikely to succeed.

Instead of counter slates, 2015 had brought renewed attention to the resources needed to read and nominate. Many of these resources pre-dated the Sad Puppies 3 campaign. The online blog/fanzine Lady Business had started a Google Spreadsheet for Hugo suggestions for the 2014 Hugo Awards[9]. That approach helped inspire a Wiki-style site for collating Hugo Award suggestions[10]. In early January 2015, fan writer and reviewer Charles Payseur began his “Quick Sip Reviews” of short fiction across multiple magazines. With the impact of the Puppies, more people began seeking out sites like Payseur’s that would help people find interesting short fiction. In September 2015, Greg Hullender and Eric Wong created Rocket Stack Rank, an online resource to help fans to find copies of short-fiction stories (something that was difficult for non-subscribers), and took on the added challenge of defining a systematic rating system, reviewing up to 700 stories a year, and presenting the result on a searchable website. In addition to these resources, websites and fan communities that had engaged with the Puppy conflict were sharing reviews and recommendations to encourage people to find works that they liked[12].

Nobody knew what 2016 would bring to the Hugo Awards but after the events of 2015 nobody wanted to go into them again unprepared. Meanwhile, events beyond fandom were taking their own unexpected turn…

Next Time: Meanwhile…Donald Trump


Footnotes

128 thoughts on “Debarkle Chapter 50: 2015 Aftermath — July to December

  1. “When is the last time an award winning science fiction tale had profound literary merit, seeped in the traditions of Western epic and romance from the classical period to now? My one THE GOLDEN AGE was both imaginative and rooted in the classics. It won nothing.”
    Anyone who writes like that about their own work (and Wright’s certainly not the only author I’ve seen do so) just invites mockery. Admittedly I’m inclined to mock anything Wright says on almost any topic because he’s so spectacularly wrong.
    That said, I did enjoy Hard Magic, but I wouldn’t have nominated it for anything.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Jamoche: Probably true of the Golden Age of science fiction, but in this case they’re talking about a book by that name.

        Like

    1. Along with Wright’s description of himself as a “refined aesthete of exquisite literary accomplishment”, the only conclusion I can come to is that Wright is actually delusional.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Well, to be fair, Wright also provided a cogent description of his work “one more postmodern wasteland of dreary garbage, neither edifying nor entertaining.”

        Liked by 5 people

      2. I’ve come to the unfortunate conclusion that Cam’s use of quotes from JCW is just unfair. If one would just choose to say something like “then Mr. Wright published an unpleasant blog post (here: _____) which was verbose, pretentious and just a little bit ugly.” So one’s not not actually hitting the poor man with the stick of his own verbiage, one is merely referencing it with a pithy description.

        And, honestly, is the second method not kinder to the hat-wearing soul Cam is citing?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Refined aesthete of exquisite literary accomplishment…

        … those words make me think of no one other than Oscar Wilde.

        Things that make you go hmmm.

        “Dorian Gray” is genre, even!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Anyone who writes like that about their own work (and Wright’s certainly not the only author I’ve seen do so) just invites mockery.

      As the local Divine Comedy fangirl I must point out that Dante Alighieri did talk about his own work that way, but in his case he brought the receipts. And the Comedy is message fiction from bottom to top. (Literally.)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. “Not marble nor the gilded monuments
        Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme;”

        and W. Shakespeare

        It’s not bragging when it’s true.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. @frasersherman, Ciardi is absolutely my favorite translation. <3. I’m currently rereading the Clive Jones translation, which is making a bid for second place. I actively disrecommend the Dorothy Sayers translation.

        Like

      3. Re:msb

        In a similar vein as the Shakespeare quote:

        “I have crafted a monument more lasting than bronze,
        and loftier than the royal pile of the pyramids,”

        Horace

        I suspect that much of this is survivorship bias. Many poets and writers brag and we remember some of those who brought the recipes while those who boast and remain at Wright’s level of competence are surely forgotten.

        Like

  2. > an refined aesthete of exquisite literary accomplishment

    Is the “an” your typo, or is the error original to that master wordsmith to whom I am not related? (Even Homer nodded, after all.)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Typo patrol:

    Kate Paulk had taken on the mantel of organising Sad Puppies 4

    Mantle
    There’s an “Arthur C. Clark” that should be “Clarke”.

    events beyond fandom were taking there own unexpected turn…

    s/b “their”

    Like

  4. Another one:

    multi-volume examination of the work of Gene Wolf

    Wolfe. (Between this and “Clark” I wonder if there’s some problem with your ‘e’ key)

    Like

    1. Wonderful, now I’ve got one of the lesser-known Tom Lehrer songs going through my head. Well, maybe not less known, but less known that it was one of his, at least.

      Who can turn a cap into a cape?Who can turn a tap into some tape?It’s elementary for silent ‘e’!

      Who can turn a dam (alakazam) into a dame?But my friend Sam… stayed just the same!”

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  5. That approach helped inspire a Wiki-style site [created by Didi Chanoch] for collating Hugo Award suggestions[10].

    As well  In addition to these resources, websites and fan communities that had engaged with the Puppy conflicted were sharing reviews and recommendations to encourage people to find works that they liked[12].

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  6. Regarding the Appendix N project, Jeffro Johnson wasn’t the first or the only person to review the works listed in Appendix N of the AD&D handbook. The dreaded Tor.com of all places had been doing a series of Appendix N reviews well before Jeffro Johnson. Blogger James Maliszewski has been sporadically reviewing works by authors listed in Appendix N at least since 2011. The Appendix N Book Club podcast only started up in 2017, i.e. two years after the puppy debarkle, and just published their 99th episode.And earlier this year, an Appendix N anthology, edited by Peter Bebergal, came out. All of these reviewers offer more insightful takes, too.

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  7. Not a Tyop, but a suggested tightening:
    “We will look at the history of this iteration of the Puppies in the next part of the Debarkle but what Paulk was promising was a campaign that would directly address the more practical criticism of Sad Puppies 3.”
    -> The next part of the Debarkle will look at this iteration of the Puppies, but Paulk was promising a campaign that would directly address the more practical criticisms of Sad Puppies 3.

    This chapter covers a lot of ground; subheads might help readers navigate.

    True that multiple Sads gave multiple excuses – oops, motives – for their attack on the Hugos. Like many right-wingers, they seemed to demand that the motive currently expressed, no matter how much it contradicted previous or indeed future ones, must be considered and accepted in isolation: a sort of intellectual “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain”.
    Looking at the failure of anyone to take up the Mamatas Challenge, however, as well as Torgersen’s self-generating outrage, it seems likely that the Sads were motivated by their shared sense of grievance, based on their sense of frustrated entitlement (which in turn seems to be based on some ignorance of their own genre). Beale, clearly, is in it for the grift, and happily piggybacked on the Sads. A pattern we sadly saw repeated on a larger scale later on.

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    1. I think that expecting one Sad to be consistent with another is no fairer than the reverse expectation of expecting every single person opposed to the Puppies to be in lockstep.

      Expecting them to be consistent with themselves, as neither Correia nor Torgerson were, is a reasonable and fair expectation.

      But someone like Kary English should not be judged adversely for inconsistency with the views of people she never claimed to agree with.

      One of the things I have really liked about this series is how strongly it brings out the variations within the Sad Puppy camp (the Rabid camp was entirely in lockstep behind Vox Day, especially in that anyone who disagreed with him would always emphasise their Sadness)

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      1. Richard Gadsden: someone like Kary English should not be judged adversely for inconsistency with the views of people she never claimed to agree with.

        You are correct; it’s sufficient simply to judge her by her choic to participate in the Puppy campaign, and her attempts to suck up to both Puppies and non-Puppies on their corresponding social media outlets.

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      2. We can judge Kary because she chose to participate in the Puppy campaign, and based on her multiple inherently contradictory statements, she seems to have had no real idea why she was doing so.

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      3. “ I think that expecting one Sad to be consistent with another is no fairer than the reverse expectation of expecting every single person opposed to the Puppies to be in lockstep.”

        Except the Sads were a self-declared and -identified side, who presumably knew what they had banded together to fight for. The other people weren’t a side.

        And it’s surely reasonable to expect the leader of a group (Torgersen) not to contradict his own previous statements (e.g. This is our slate vs How dare you call it a slate, and We consulted Beale vs We have nothing to do with Beale) if one is supposed to take seriously anything he says.

        I didn’t intend to refer to English; perhaps I should have specified that I meant the core Sads, including the Silly League of Silly, any mad geniuses who didn’t make that roster and the Wrong Peter Grant. Apologies for any lack of clarity.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. It’s unfair to expect everyone who is vaguely associated with the Sad Puppies to have identical opinions about science fiction. But we can expect puppy leader figures to have reasonably similar opinions about the puppy campaign.

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      5. The inconsistency is a real problem reflected in the slate. It’s not trying to achieve several of the stated objectives. (Wright’s insistence that it’s all about “saving” the Hugos from the imaginary machinations of a fictitious cabal makes it worse – not even acknowledging all the other supposed “reasons”). It doesn’t take absolute agreement on a single aim, but it does require a general agreement and compatible aims.

        I still think that the Sads – and likely Wright – were trying to be the cabal that controlled the Hugos. That is consistent with their actions – including the slating.

        Liked by 2 people

      6. Msb said:
        Except the Sads were a self-declared and -identified side, who presumably knew what they had banded together to fight for.

        Personally, I think this is pretty fundamental to the puppies. They have no idea what they have banded together for.
        However, they know exactly what they’ve banded together to fight AGAINST. Being against things is all they have.

        Liked by 5 people

  8. Surely the title should be August to December, since this is the aftermath of Sasquan, which took place the 3rd week of August 2015.

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  9. Brad is the sort of guy who would clumsily try to punch someone, miss and lose his balance and faceplant, and then demand that the person he tried to punch should apologize for getting out of the way.

    Liked by 5 people

  10. I’m going to be very generous to Larry Correia.

    Larry’s complaint about his Astounding (then Campbell) nomination was partly just an enormous sense of entitlement and an objection to losing (to Lev Grossman, which does make Hugo voters’ decision look pretty good in retrospect), but it was also about how he was treated at/by the convention (Renovation).

    We’ve certainly seen plenty of similar complaints from or on behalf of Hugo nominees in recent years. It is completely understandable that many nominees who are not themselves experienced with Worldcon would expect the whole con to be essentially about celebrating the nominees. That’s not an unfair description of the Nebula weekend, for example. Worldcon organisers tend to see the Hugo ceremony as just one of many events they put on and, while perhaps primus inter pares certainly no more than that. And outside of the ceremony (and the immediate pre-ceremony reception and post-ceremony party), the Hugo nominees are treated exactly like any other member, which means they only get put on panels if they would anyway, ie if the organisers like them.

    I suspect that the way that nominees are generally treated at Worldcon (unless they are already someone that organisers look up to) came across to Correia as a personal insult, especially as Grossman, then already well-known for his journalism, was being treated far more generously. Grossman was being treated like the BNF he was, but I think Correia saw that as the treatment given to the winner – which, since it happened before the win was announced, would feed into his conspiracy theories about how the winners were predetermined.

    If you think about other award ceremonies, any wider event is built entirely around the nominees; worldcon isn’t, and probably shouldn’t be, but a better balance is needed, and it would be interesting to see more people mention that Correia’s complaints about being disrespected as a nominee do fit into a wider pattern.

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    1. Which version of Larry’s experience should we believe? The one where he said he had a great time that he wrote right after the event, or the one he manufactured later to justify his grievance agitating? There is no reason to be generous to Larry, since he is, at best, an unreliable narrator, and is, more likely, simply a lying sack of shit like all the rest of the Pups.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. The thing is, Correia’s Campbell nomination was the result of activism by Mormon Worldcon members. Which is fine; any number of Hugo finalists’ place on the ballot has been the result of activism by a subset of Worldcon members. But my take on it is that if a subset group is working to get their favored nominee onto the ballot, then it’s also their responsibility to ensure that their favored nominee understands the context of a Hugo/Astounding nomination.

      We saw the same thing happen with at least one of the Puppies’ Campbell finalists, who complained quite loudly after the convention about not having the Red Carpet rolled out for him, fabout not having been treated by Worldcon as if he were a Scalzi or Leckie or GRRM, who complained that Worldcon didn’t do all the promotional things for him that, instead, his own publisher should have been doing for him.

      The first thing I would do, if I were informed that I was a Hugo Award finalist, would be to find out everything about the Hugo Awards and Worldcon. This utter lack of curiosity on the part of a number of finalists is utterly baffling to me: finalists who think their work is being judged by a jury, finalists who think that Worldcon is going to be all about them, finalists who don’t understand that the Hugo Award is a fan award, not a professional award, finalists who expect that everyone at Worldcon will know who they are.

      This complete lack of curiosity and need to understand the award for which someone has been nominated is absolutely baffling to me. And it’s hard for me to feel sympathy for people who can’t be bothered to find anything out, and then are disgruntled when it’s not what they assumed it would be.

      Liked by 5 people

    3. That is very generous, considering that Correia’s experience reflects those of large numbers of people attending a regularly held event for the first time. Most people in that situation try to learn how the event works, and then try to meet people and take part in the activities that interest them most. That’s how newbies regularly become old hands. If newbies find that the event doesn’t really interest them, however, they don’t go back. Was the work of making a place for himself or finding another too much for Correia?

      Why does Correia deserve generosity for throwing a belated public tantrum, making baseless charges and then trying to fix the rules for his own benefit?

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    4. Larry is the person I am the last inclined to give excuses to, in the whole mess. He started it, he invited the pyromaniac.
      He got to worldcon exspected to be treated as a celebrity. He was up for the Astonding Award and as much as I like the one and find it important, its nominees are the newbies, mostly they aren’t famous yet. And the point that made Larry angry was loosing. In my opinion you are doing the nominees today a big disservice to say that there grivance are the same as Larrys.

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      1. A thought crosses my mind. How many of the puppies had extravagant expectations based on experience of the Writers of the Future competition? I recall reports that WotF treat their finalists as celebrities.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. stewart: A thought crosses my mind. How many of the puppies had extravagant expectations based on experience of the Writers of the Future competition? I recall reports that WotF treat their finalists as celebrities.

          That’s actually a good thought. BT had been a WotF participant, but he wasn’t on the Puppy slate (though WotF may have colored his perception of not being treated well enough as a Campbell finalist). But as far as I know, none of the other Puppy finalists who were cheated onto the ballot had been WotF finalists – though that doesn’t mean that they didn’t have expectations set by what they knew of WotF.

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            1. Ugh, English is now working for the Sc*entology shill firm Author Services, while bragging about her Hugo and Astounding/Campbell nominations. 😦

              Liked by 2 people

      2. JJ: Interesting, she seems to not have gotten more skruppels in working together with very questionable people (to formulate it midly), makes me think even less of her than the cheating.
        That is one point of most of the puppys, none of them seemed to learn anythink. Chance and listening to others are not there strength.
        And okay this was somewhere else, for me it is important to note that there isolation from other fans is mostly selfinflicted. Sure there is a lot of Anger, but they could be a part of wieder fandom, I don’t think they want, so it is completly unnecesary to build them a bridge. The bridge is allready there. The just have to use it.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. “I find that a great shame – and I blame not the people who established the ballots to vote for (for my kids enjoyed a great deal of what they read on the ballots)”

      I also note again, the consistent Puppy conflation of “I enjoyed reading this” with “this should get an award”. The two are usually correlated, but they are not coterminous. There are a lot of things I have enjoyed reading, watching, or hearing that I don’t think should receive awards. Like, I enjoyed watching the movie “Road House, but if it had been nominated for an award and I had a vote, I wouldn’t have voted for it. It is enjoyable, but not award-worthy.

      The Pups, on the other hand, seemed to almost universally think that if they read something and liked it, then anything that stood in between that story and an award was dirty pool.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. For me, “I enjoyed this” is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for “I nominated this”.

        Mostly, I have ended up struggling to decide between a few books, which one to stick in the fifth slot. And at that point, things that fall more towards the “just enjoyable” end of the spectrum alas end up not getting my nomination.

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      1. If he made them read JCW’s turgid prose, that’s some sacrifice for the kids to make!

        But considering how he weaponized their sadfeels — all caused by himself — they kind of were sacrifices BY him.

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  11. Greg Hullender and Eric Wong took on the approach of reviewing large amounts of short fiction with the added challenge of systematic ratings and searchable website to create their Rocket Stack Website in September of 2015.

    Well, first, it’s Rocket Stack Rank. 🙂

    Actually, the initial motivation for Rocket Stack Rank was to make it easier for fans to get hold of stories that other people were talking about. All the other stuff was just to try to make the site more interesting.

    We had observed that, when it gets to be Hugo nominating time, if someone says, “Book X deserves a Hugo. You should read it,” then it’s easy to buy a copy of X and see what you think. But if someone says, “I read this great short story, Y, in Asimov’s. I think it deserves a Hugo,” then it was very difficult to get a copy of Y for love or money. Asimov’s would not sell you the story by itself, and while they will sell back issues of the physical, printed magazine, it’s not easy to figure out how to order those. For the online edition, Amazon.com would not sell you a back issue.

    There turned out to be lots of legal ways around this, but it took some research to figure them out. While Eric focused on finding way to do this, I tested out his ideas. (E.g. reading a print-replica of a back issue on a tablet using the Magzter service.) Somewhere in the process, we decided we’d do actual reviews of the stories.

    We got the idea from the anthologist, Rich Horton, who happened to sit next to us at the Business Meeting at Sasquan on the last day. We designed the system in the car on the 5-hour drive back to Seattle. We created the web site a day or two later, and we went live with it three weeks after that. It took another two months to read and review all the fiction back to January 2015. (Man, the energy we had back then!) 🙂

    Anyway, you might want to say something like “In September 2015, Greg Hullender and Eric Wong created Rocket Stack Rank, an online resource to help fans to find copies of short-fiction stories (something that was difficult for non-subscribers), and took on the added challenge of defining a systematic rating system, reviewing up to 700 stories a year, and presenting the result on a searchable website.”

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    1. Greg: Asimov’s would not sell you the story by itself, and while they will sell back issues of the physical, printed magazine, it’s not easy to figure out how to order those. Did you actually figure out how to order specific back issues? There were a couple I missed because they never got shipped to (closed) bookstores during the pandemic, but a quick browse of Asimov’s website didn’t turn up a way of ordering them (unlike, say, F&SF, where it was trivial).

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  12. A very tyop-free chapter. You’re going to put me out of a job.

    “Wright would go onto explain in the same column…” Should be “on to” explain.

    “…as sustained, coherent and well-referenced critique of the award from a Puppy perspective simply didn’t exist.” Should be “*a* sustained, coherent…”?

    “Others, looked to new awards as an alternative to the Hugos.” Delete comma.

    “The “the Heroic Engineer/Officer/Competent Protagonist Solves The Problem” style of story…” Delete one “the”? E.g., The “Heroic Engineer…”

    “looked at figures convicted child abuse related crimes: …” Should be “looked at figures convicted *of* child abuse..” While I’m here, I’d like to suggest a hyphen between “abuse” and “related” as well.

    “As well resources, websites and fan communities that had engaged with the Puppy conflicted…” Should be “conflict” or “conflicts”

    Once again, I stand in awe of JC Wright’s towering self-confidence. And as we’ve seen from the subject of your next chapter, this is usually covering a deep feeling of inadequacy. Some days I almost feel sorry for him. (JCW, not the other guy.)

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  13. Stripped of all the after-the-fact conflicting ‘explanations’, all the Puppy campaigns were a scheme for cheating based upon a lie. “We claim that the Hugo Admins are cheating therefore we think that it’s acceptable for us to cheat and try and win the awards that we think we deserve.”

    That’s it. Nothing more. And that’s what the voters repudiated.

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  14. in the wake of the Hugo Award ceremony, nobody had a clear idea what the Sad Puppies had stood for

    You could — and maybe should? — delete everything before the comma.

    Also, I SERIOUSLY doubt Rothman’s kids “enjoyed much of what they read”. JCW’s pontifications (pun intended) can’t be enjoyable for children, and his bloviations made up way too much of the ballot.

    Fan writer Mike Glyer was regarded with particular hostility among Puppy supporters

    For linking to the Puppies’ own words without editorializing or editing. 🙂
    Nothing made them more angry than being accurately quoted, showing their utter failure to articulate a reason they should win other than “We wants the Precious.”

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    1. “Also, I SERIOUSLY doubt Rothman’s kids “enjoyed much of what they read””

      While probably true, there is something malleable about the young mind in which they can simply accept that something that has been professionally released and nominated for an award, it MUST be good. Though I wonder how much of the whole story was Rothman projecting his own issues through his sons.

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  15. To tie in with your later chapters, I wonder if Eness became a QAnon?

    Projection, always projection, with the RWNJ and “their side vs. our side”, up to and including Agent Orange, who famously claimed he’d like to date his daughter and buddied around with Jeffrey Epstein.

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  16. Lurkertype:
    “At the time, I thought (and probably said), “So, Larry, were you lying then or are you lying now?””

    It doesn’t have to be ‘or’ – it could be ‘and’.

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  17. In response to the bit about “Brad Torgersen’s anger had not mellowed”:

    “I suspect that in order for a genuine mending to take place, between your average Sad Puppy, and the SF/F establishment, there would need to be several things.

    Oh, yes, the loser starting off with demands is going to go over so well.

    1) A very public admission by the establishment that the NO AWARD bombing of the 2015 Hugos was a gross error.

    Except, of course, that this has nothing to do with ‘the establishment’, as they did nothing more than count the votes from thousands of people who voted. They just followed the rules; the same rules-following that the Puppies exploited to get there in the first place. Funny how suddenly it’s the fault of ‘the establishment’ that they got shut out and yet not the fault of the same establishment that they got there in the first place.

    People were noting at the time that the Puppies seemed to confuse the Hugos with a juried award that did ‘log-rolling’, but the dissonance of knowing that they only got on the ballot because the administrators actually held following the rules as the more important than any sort of personal politics, and then complaining when they followed the rules again rather than bending to his politics, is striking. That sort of narcissistic purely results-based ethics didn’t win him any favours.

    (Though, to quote the version of Loki in Order of the Stick, “It’s hard to be a hypocrite when your guiding principle is ‘Do whatever’s best for you.'”)

    2) A very public admission by the establishment that the CHORFholes were also a gross error.

    Again with ‘the establishment’ when this was rather blatantly not part of the official Hugo awards but something done individually. He could somewhat more legitimately demand an apology from the person who gave them out (and there’s a valid argument to be made over whether or not it was a good idea), but again, it somehow has to be a conspiracy rather than individual action.

    3) A very public apology from the establishment, for the deliberate conflation of the Sads, with the Rabids.

    As has been quite documented here, he really only had himself to blame for most of that confusion. Well, himself and Vox, who has never met a source of confusion he didn’t try to exploit to his advantage.

    4) A cessation of the endless game of shibboleths and street cred checks, on the part of Trufans, as conducted against everybody else (looks hard at Steve Davidson.)”

    Gatekeeping is a big problem in fandom, and I doubt anybody who’s been around for a while would really argue with that. But this line is just such a ‘pot calling the kettle black’ statement. Really, you’re saying that other people couldn’t possibly have won awards without a massive conspiracy behind them, and yet somehow they are the ones doing street cred checks? The person whining about SJWs and CHORFs aren’t engaging in shibboleths?

    None of this is new, of course, it’s just that the entitlement and aggrievement so amazingly distilled in those four lines. He demands things that can’t possibly happen (because he’s demanding results from the wrong parties for all four) before he’ll promise not to throw another tantrum.

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    1. Firs, I have to wonder what terrible crime Steve Davidson allegedly committed. The only thing I’ve seen that could possibly qualify as “gatekeeping” is a post he made basically outlining what the Pups would need to do in order to be accepted by the Fandom community, which mostly consisted of things like “stop attacking everyone with hateful rhetoric” and “stop trying to game the rules”. I guess telling the Pups they need to stop peeing on the carpet for people to like them is a “street cred check” to Brad.

      Brad’s diatribe is also why I have always said that attempting to extend and olive branch to the Pups is a lost cause. They came out of the debacle thinking they were the aggrieved party, basically because they did not get their way. The only way the Pups would have been mollified at all would have been if they had won a bunch of Hugos, and even then they wouldn’t have been in a conciliatory mood – in that case they would have simply crowed about their victories and kept up with their hateful rhetoric and dishonesty.

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      1. Aaron: I have to wonder what terrible crime Steve Davidson allegedly committed.

        He advocated for complete No Awarding of the slated Puppy works, and they were afraid that all Worldcon members would be willing to line up mindlessly behind Davidson and do so. They utterly underestimated Worldcon members, who, instead of mindlessly No-Awarding everything, first read all of the Puppy works, posted honest reviews of those works, and then overwhelmingly No Awarded them.

        In hindsight, they probably wished that everyone had just followed Davidson’s lead, because by reading and reviewing those works in great numbers, Worldcon members utterly screwed the Puppy persecution narrative of mindless No-Awarders.

         
        Aaron: The only way the Pups would have been mollified at all would have been if they had won a bunch of Hugos, and even then they wouldn’t have been in a conciliatory mood – in that case they would have simply crowed about their victories and kept up with their hateful rhetoric and dishonesty.

        As has been discussed previously, there was literally no one who was in a position of “the establishment” and who could give Brad the reparations he demanded – it was just hundreds of individual Worldcon members who had all individually come to the same consensus on the majority of Puppy works. And none of those people had the slightest interest in “making amends” to the nasty vandals who had cheated a bunch of garbage onto the Hugo ballot while spending months hurling undeserved vitriol at Worldcon members.

        But as you say, even if there had been someone in a position to “make amends” to the Puppies, it would have done no good. The Puppies would have just trumpeted it as proof that Worldcon members had been in the wrong to begin with and that their cheating was justified. And just like Antonelli’s consequence-free swatting of Gerrold, they would have walked away convinced that they were completely in the right, and there would have been no apology or reformed behavior from them.

        That’s why EPH was so utterly beautiful and elegant. Worldcon members said, “Okay then, since you’re determined to be cheating assholes, we’ll make spending the money to cheat way more expensive than the slim rewards you will get from it”, passed the regulation change, and then got on with reading and fanning and conning, while dealing out the worst possible punishment to the Puppies: rendering them irrelevant and ignored.

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      2. @JJ: I No Awarded all the Puppy slated fiction unread. In fact, I bought a Worldcon supporting membership just so I could do that. This was not mindless (let alone at Steve Davidson’s command), and I find that characterization rather insulting. My vote was a considered response to works that were cheated onto the ballot. They weren’t entitled to any consideration, full stop.

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        1. PhilRM, I apologize for implying that a decision to No Award the works which were cheated onto the ballot without reading them was “mindless”. It was not; it was an entirely valid decision (and one, frankly that I wish I had made instead of trying to read the Puppy garbage, what an awful waste of precious reading time that was).

          The “mindless” part would be doing what Davidson said to do, simply because Davidson said to do it. But the Puppies are very much people who will mindlessly do things simply because they’ve been told to by their “leaders”, so they assume that the rest of Worldcon members work the same way, which is just ludicrous (as you said earlier, “enough projection for a drive-in theater”). From their point of view, the 2000-2500 members which No Awarded the various Puppy offerings were obviously following directions, just as the Puppies do – they simply can’t fathom the idea that Worldcon members could be making the decision to do that on an individual, self-directed basis.

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      3. I am convinced that offering Weisskopf the guest of honor position at Discon III was an attempt at an olive branch for the Pups. I won’t go into why I am convinced of this, but it is based upon a fair amount of evidence.

        After that blew up earlier this year, and Correia was writing his take in the aftermath, it was clear that he still firmly believes that Worldcon and fandom somehow wronged him and the Pups by not going along with his sleazy dishonesty. He also still firmly believes that the offer to Weisskopf had been some sort of trap that had been laid to make her look bad. None of this is true of course. Correia is, like all of the Pups, a dishonest lying sack of shit.

        And this is why trying to “make peace” with the Pups and “heal the divisions” is simply a Quixotic fool’s errand. Any efforts at reconciliation need to be made by the Pups, not the rest of fandom. They need to show contrition. They need to show they understand just how slimy they have been. They need to want to reconcile. Until then, they can stay out in the cold forever.

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        1. Aaron: I am convinced that offering Weisskopf the guest of honor position at Discon III was an attempt at an olive branch for the Pups.

          I’m convinced that both the Editor and Fan GoH invitations were the result of the chairs being closet Puppies themselves. There have been a few Worldconrunners who have revealed themselves to be so, in the intervening years (several of them were involved in Spikecon).

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      4. It’s rather late to edit my own post, but I sort of wish I could, because putting it as

        The main who coined the term CHORF is complaining about others engaging in shibboleths?

        just seems to sum up so much of the projection involved here.

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      5. Regarding making Toni Weisskopf GoH of DisCon III, I also believe it was at the very least a gesture of reconciliation towards the puppies, if not a statement of sympathy.

        However, I don’t see why Worldcon and its members need to make any gesture of reconciliation towards the puppies, because we were not the ones who flagrantly exploited a loophole in the Hugo rules, flooded the Hugo ballot with crap for several years in a row and attacked and verbally abused Worldcon members. And no, Toni Weisskopf did not personally do any of these things, but neither did she condemn them, just as she refused to condemn the hate speech and incitement to terrorism hosted at Baen’s Bar.

        Besides, it’s not as if Baen Books or their authors are unwelcome at Worldcon, as long as they adhere to the Code of Conduct. However, the puppies seem to have decamped to cons more friendly to their brand of SFF like LibertyCon, DragonCon, Con Carolinas and BasedCon and that’s okay. Though I do worry about Southern fans who are not puppies, since a whole lot of Southern cons seem to be puppy-friendly cons.

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      6. @Cora: DragonCon is large, it contains multitudes. Many of those multitudes are PoC, LGBT+, and so on. Our pals The Red Panda Fraction are certainly not Puppies, and they go.

        I mean, it’s even got the TVA headquarters, so obviously it’s a multiverse. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I don’t think the offer for Weisskopf to be GOH was an olive branch reconciliation attempt towards the Puppies. I think it was an olive branch reconciliation offer towards Toni Weisskopf. A lot of folk felt that Weisskopf had been unfairly caught up in the Puppies’ campaign when the Puppies tried yet another justification to their campaigns with the claim that Baen Books was being unfairly blocked (despite Bujold’s super frequent nominations and sometime wins) and was somehow locked in a battle with Tor and all the other large SFF publishers. This was obviously not true and most fans and publishing folk have little interest in excluding Baen Books from the field. So to make it up to her, I suspect, they offered her the GOH to show that the Puppies’ claims about how folks saw Baen Books were not true and that Weisskopf was not shunned by a supposed SJW cabal.

        The problem is that Weisskopf, while not explicitly endorsing what the Sad Puppies were doing, did not try to reign in what they were doing either in her name nor refute their claims about Baen Books and Tor. Like Kary English, she tried to straddle the middle of benefit from the Puppies’ slate without any responsibility for participating in the hate fest. And on her own, Weisskopf has expressed right-wing libertarian views and rhetoric that for a lot of marginalized folk is sending them the message that they should get out of SFF, that she agrees with the essence if not all the details of the Puppies’ arguments. So for many marginalized folk or allies, Weisskopf being the celebrated GOH (rather than just a guest repping her publisher or even a panelist,) meant they weren’t safe or welcome at that convention, that people who express anti-progressive civil rights views were in charge and that harassment of the marginalized would be tolerated at best and encouraged at worst. So they protested and let the conrunners know that if Weisskopf was GOH, indicating that they weren’t welcome, they would believe that message and not go to the convention, etc.

        That is something that Weisskopf has to deal with on her own as the head of Baen Books. If she doesn’t want Baen to be seen as unwelcoming to marginalized authors who aren’t conservative, she’ll have to work on that image to convince folk. If she doesn’t want to be seen as herself hostile to progressive, marginalized authors beyond old vets of her house like Bujold and Flint, she’ll have to consider what she says in public. It’s not everybody else’s job to trust her any more than it is everybody’s job to trust PNH or any other editor or house. They will judge what you do and say and make their decisions accordingly.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. “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.”

    This may be my most favorite sentence you’ve ever written about the Puppies.

    “We are attempting to pry the control of the Hugos out of the hand of a clique or Inner Ring run by Patrick Nielsen Hayden for the benefit of his abortive antichristian ideology and the fiscal benefit” — John C. Wright

    Can you imagine writing this about your own editor, the person who liked your work, helped acquire the license for it for one of the biggest U.S. SFF publishers and is helping get it out there so you can have an income from it, including trying to promote it so that voters for awards might try and like it?

    Clearly Wright had various issues with Tor and so happily jumped on the I hate Patrick bandwagon with Beale, who promised the guy he’d take care of him. And wow, did he, right into the ground. Trying to turn those publishing business issues into a religious conspiracy theory so that it justified his actions is a trap right wingers regularly fall into. He was an accepted mid-lister who got some award attention and that was apparently not enough and even the end of civilization.

    “Brad Torgersen’s picks for Sad Puppies 3 had included four different works from Castalia House and these works had also received promotional “Book Bombs” from Larry Correia[5]. Even without the Rabid Puppy slate, the 2015 Hugo Award controversy had been an effective promotional exercise for Day.”

    And there you have it. The Sad Puppy leaders, nominees and Puppy adjacents all sought to use Beale as he was using him. They wanted the GamerGate operation he promised. And they were all happy to accept and support all of his views and let an Internet mob attack with death threats authors who mostly didn’t even know who the Puppies were so they could feel powerful. They crowed constantly about their power. And when they kept trying to separate from and decry Beale when things went wrong, they expressed outrage that the people they’d attacked wouldn’t let them off without pushback. That the authors they attacked and their fans did not like them and what they did and used free speech to say so.

    Brad, as we know, got award nominations on his own. He was becoming a known name in the field. But Brad seems to have had political ambitions and he bought the idea that Beale had an in with the right wing factions and mediasphere. So he did whatever Beale wanted and then denied they were joined at the hip whenever someone directly criticized him for it — which was also a Beale strategy. He kept vacillating between doing Beale-like warrior tantrums and trying to be the William Buckley of the Puppies. And it meant that even authors who had been his friends didn’t trust him. It didn’t wipe him out. SFF is still the land of cishet white men — which is why all the Puppy whining is ridiculous. But it’s become increasingly hard for them to freeze that good righteous image of themselves in amber, away from all reality. All the Jovian and Niffy awards stuff and then the Dragons were a symptom of them trying to repair that image for themselves, milk the last of the campaign for promotion purposes.

    “The new campaign would be transparent about the nomination process and would also not present a simple slate of five works per category. The stated objective was to increase involvement in the Hugo Awards.”

    And here we see the full frantic backtracking in motion. The one thing that gives me hope in the mess of civil rights issues is the need of those who pursue active repression to maintain the good righteous image/status that for them justifies repression of others. As long as they have enough power to enforce a type of repression as a social norm, they can keep violent control and demand that image. But if enough people stand up and refuse to accept that repression as a continued social norm, they can double down to try to maintain dominant control but they also partially retreat to maintain that good righteous image in the cultural shift. (Which is how you get conservatives incorrectly mouthing one quote of Rev. King’s, the guy they called a terrorist, rioter, arsonist, communist and threw repeatedly in jail before finally killing him.)

    If the Puppies had had the courage of their (ever changing) convictions, then they would have happily presented themselves as what they were — a group of almost entirely white, mainly men conservative authors who didn’t like mouthy BIPOC authors getting attention or queer people not being ostracized in SFF. But the cultural norms have changed enough — due to SJW’s — that they knew that looked bad if you want to claim to be the good, righteous people. So you have Wright repeating Beale’s lie that Beale is indigenous when he’s a white man who may or may not have indigenous ancestry, like millions of white Americans who still dominate and are identified as white people. And same with Larry and Sarah as white Hispanics, trying to paint them as downtrodden Latinos, just so he can say that they are a diverse group who know not what of this bigotry of which you speak (and they speak.)

    And with lots of people in the field and the fandom being very upset about what the Puppies did and how they attacked others, particularly that they tried to cheat with a slate and bigoted Gamergater voters to blow up the Hugos, rather than the storm and death on-going campaigns that Beale promised, the Puppies retreated to whining that they’d just make a nice rec list that anyone can contribute to, so don’t call them cheaters anymore. The Puppies were ultimately not defeated by being run over by Beale or losing to No Award at the Hugos and a rule change. They were defeated because enough people rejected the gish-gallop of bigoted justifications they kept giving for what they were doing, forcing them to endlessly recalibrate and tone it down. That didn’t mean that they didn’t do a lot of discriminatory harm — they were quite successful at that because as a group of white folk they were seen as good and fair (acting in good faith, etc.) We are still a white supremacy after all. But they couldn’t slam more equitable cultural shifts into reverse.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Good question: did the constantly changing motives show puppies’ ignorance or variance, or was the gush, as you say, a gish gallop. Occam’s razor says you’re right.

      Like

      1. I think that it comes down to rationalisations. They want to be the “good guys” so they continually manufactured “justifications” for what they were doing. They may even have deluded themselves into thinking that the rationalisations were true. But what they were doing never fitted well with the “justifications” – even when they didn’t involve outright inventions like the “cabal”.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Yeah, the claim of indigenous ancestry has always felt to me like another one of Beale’s ways of being ‘clever’ in that he can use the ‘SJW’s’ own ‘rules’ against them. Similar to FeMRAs, who have bought into the usual MRA talking points and then are surprised when they as women still get pushback; because unlike the usual SJW caricature, for most real people it’s the ideas that are being criticized, not the source. Even if we think women and BIPOC should get listened to more often, a stupid idea is still a stupid idea when Candace Owens says it. People with indigenous ancestry aren’t always right, we just should be listening to them more in general before making decisions. The decision might still be to ignore them, but it should be an informed decision.

      (Honestly, I’m not even sure what Beale’s claim to ancestry is, or if it’s based on anything more rigorous than a DNA test. I also don’t really care enough to find out, because he has never seemed to use it as anything more than a weapon to avoid charges of discrimination, like with Wright here. Or how he could claim that the ‘not equally Homo Sapiens Sapiens’ line he used wasn’t actually about saying his target was subhuman, but (well, actually) about his Denisovian genes made him the less Homo Sapiens Sapiens.)

      If Beale put half as much effort into writing readable prose as he did into creating deliberate linguistic confusion to exploit, he might have the potential to be a decent author.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. IIRC, Beale’s claim isn’t based on anything as concrete as a DNA test. It is based on family lore, or at least what he claims is family lore.

        The thing about “family lore” claims to native American ancestry is that an absolutely enormous proportion of the U.S. population has a “family lore” story of a native American in their family tree, and there is pretty good reason to believe that most of those stories are based on fabrications.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Jenora Feuer: Yeah, the claim of indigenous ancestry has always felt to me like another one of Beale’s ways of being ‘clever’ in that he can use the ‘SJW’s’ own ‘rules’ against them.

        This is something that is very characteristic of the Puppies, and indeed, of most of the people on the hard right. They make their decisions and base their allegiances on “rules”, and they assume that people on the left do the same (instead of exercising good judgment on each individual case, based on the circumstances). They make up these Rules which they say that we follow, and they demand that we follow the Rules that they have assigned to us, and they criticize us when we don’t mindlessly follow those Rules.

        Hence the Puppies’ accusation that Worldcon members had “thrown a woman under the bus” by No-Awarding Toni Weisskopf – because obviously, according to their logic, if people on the left are concerned about womens’ rights, then we should always prioritize each individual woman over anything else that is part of the equation. It’s just such a bizarre sort of sheeple logic on their part.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’ve similarly had right-wingers argue that “You say you believe A, yet as a liberal you must believe B, which contradicts A, so you are a hypocrite!” They’ve never actually cited a B that I, as a liberal, believe.

          Liked by 3 people

      3. The tale I read was that TB’s brother had a DNA test showing Native American ancestry, and he assumed that the conclusion carried over to him. (That assumption does work most, but not all, of the time.)

        Like

      4. Many people with Indigenous bloodlines nigh as thin as Beale’s claim (one great grandparent, IIRC) do count as Indigenous to the nation they belong to, but generally *only* if they were raised with the community, or separated from it involuntarily (Sixties scoop or other CFS/CPS seizure, non-Indigenous family taking them away) and are actively trying to re-connect.

        Imagine for one second Beale trying to actually learn and respect that culture…

        Liked by 3 people

    3. “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.”

      I agree with Kat that this was a very nice sentence. It was much clearer what the Puppies had stood against.

      Liked by 3 people

    4. “We are attempting to pry the control of the Hugos out of the hand of a clique or Inner Ring run by Patrick Nielsen Hayden for the benefit of his abortive antichristian ideology and the fiscal benefit” — John C. Wright

      Can you imagine writing this about your own editor, the person who liked your work, helped acquire the license for it for one of the biggest U.S. SFF publishers and is helping get it out there so you can have an income from it, including trying to promote it so that voters for awards might try and like it?

      Are you quite certain that PNH is or was Wright’s editor?

      I remember wondering, based on nothing more than the point that Orphans of Chaos has some very squicky bondage scenes with the female teen protagonist, if his editor had in fact been James Frenkel. But the e-book copy I have gives no editor information.

      This interview does suggest a connection with Frenkel, but his editor for The Golden Age is given as having been David G. Hartwell, and from this NESFA recommendation list, Orphans of Chaos was also edited by Hartwell.

      Like

      1. Patrick is the Editor-in-Chief who approves who they offer a license contract to and has to look at ms. and proposals that his editors want to make an offer on, though Hartwell had presumably a fair amount of independence. He is also as the head of editorial the point person for the entire line both in-house in coordinating and cheerleading for the book with other departments of Tor such as marketing and PR and promoting to booksellers, reviewers, etc. as a Tor offering. That includes encouraging people to consider Tor titles for awards where it’s a wider vote than just a judging committee through publicity and making the works accessible and using any award nominations and wins in PR for those titles.

        So Wright was basically saying that the head of editorial of his business partner was the leader of an evil cabal who was rigging one of the most famous awards. Very, very few people get publishing contracts relative to the number of people who would like them. When you do, it’s because the people at the publisher, particularly the editorial department and its head positions, likes your work, think it’s a fit for them and they can sell it to be worth the financial investment of producing, promoting and distributing it. So Wright was trying to sabotage the people who were trying to sell his work and one of the main people responsible for trying to sell his work.

        As for James Frenkel, he worked as an editor for Tor from Wisconsin remotely as an old publishing veteran, which means that Tor was not keeping an eye on him the way they might have if he’d been in New York. And they also, sadly, ignored complaints about his behavior at conventions for years, as we discovered. When he sexually harassed a prominent woman in public in front of witnesses, that’s when they had to finally act.

        Frenkel repackaged himself as a literary agent after he was ousted from Tor in 2013, (he’s now in his seventies.) And he reps Wright and his wife. I don’t know when that business relationship started but it’s possible that it had developed in/by 2015. In which case that might give some explanation for Wright’s actions if Frenkel encouraged him to publicly break with Tor despite having another two years or so on his book contract with them. Or Wright simply got swept up in the mania of the Puppies where they constantly had to escalate their claims in order to justify what they were doing, along with whatever complaints he had about Tor as his publisher. Since then, he’s published with small, right-wing publishing houses.

        Like

  19. I find it interesting how often Beale did attack Sads who didn’t hold the partyline. First Kary English now Gannon (who was on the puppyslate but since he didn’t get a Hugonom I will not hold it against him).
    And the question for the Sads that were not complete … is why did they join this mess? What were there goals? Wendy Delamater did selfidentify as a Sad, what was her goal in the whole thing?
    To Torgersons ideas for a reconsilation, he had at the moment zero creditability left to make demands.
    For his points, I give him Number 2. The Astricks(at the Hugocerenomy) were not a good idea. On the other hand the puppys would have found somethink else to be angry about, so I don’t care that much.

    The No Awards: Nobody has any authority to declare the will of that many Hugovoters as a mistake. I mean I knew that if my reading of the situation was correct, we would have at last 2-4 no awards before the ceremony (wasn’t sure about the nonslate Novelette or if Totaled would beat no award). The only ones that were a bit of a suprise were the editorcategorys but they became clearer in hindsight. I think that even more people belive the no awards were the right move today then then.

    Number 3: Sads and Rabids confusion. I see that more as a weapon that Torgerson used than anythink else. Many people were going out of the way to see a diference between those 2 groups. What made it hart was the fact that both groups were following Beales orders (prominent example Torboycot) and nearly every puppy treated Beale with respect and a lot of Sads were praising him. Even if you wanted to seperate the two movements both were guilty of a lot of stuff, so in some cases it made no sense to make a difference between then.

    Brads Post is a total fail and he doesn’t seem to understand that there isn’t the strong person that can give him what he wants. This guy put a lot of work in basicly distroying himself. His story would have been a tragedy if there was after the whole debarkle any sympathy left for him and it wasn’t 100% his fault.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. StefanB: And the question for the Sads that were not complete … is why did they join this mess? What were there goals? Wendy Delmater did self identify as a Sad, what was her goal in the whole thing?

      Her goal was the same as most of the people who eagerly participated in the Puppy slates: to get themselves a Hugo nomination. They could dress it up all they wanted in claims of being blocked from what they deserved by a mysterious Tor cabal, but at the bottom of it, it was simply about avarice.

      What they didn’t count on was Worldcon members refusing to recognize their nominations as legitimate, or the fact that many of those Worldcon members have long memories and still remember their eager participation in the cheating campaign, to this day.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah I forgot a halfsentence here. I should have added if they didn’t share the goals that Brad formulated. I planed it as a question for them. The point is that this is the question, why join a horrible group to get a Hugonom. Another point is that English was after the ceremony talking completly puppypoints on GRRMs or Hines blog or on both.
        Dumb avarice is of course probably the right answer the same with Butcher, who I am still angry with.

        Liked by 1 person

  20. Writing a book is a stupendous amount of work, especially when you appear to be posting it as you go. With respect to the Neffies, originally the ‘Laureate’ awards, when I became N3F President in 2015 a number of items needed revival. The Neffy Awards were one of them. We are also doing newer things. We just launched a monthly fan news zine. Our first electronic convention, Neffercon, may now be found on MeWe.

    Current Neffy nominee lists, fan activity first, include:

    Best Fan Writer:
    Cheryl Cline
    Jeffrey Redmond
    Best Fan artist:
    Alan White
    Jose Sanchez
    Best Fan Website:
    Fanac Fanhistory Project
    SciFi4Me
    Best Fan Editor:
    William Breiding
    Justin E.A. Busch
    Bob Jennings
    Best Non-N3F Fanzine:
    Portable Storage
    Event Horizon
    Outworlds
    Best N3F fanzine:
    Origin
    The N3F Review of Books
    Best Literary-Critical or Historical Work
    First Fandom Annual 2020: Celebrating Robert
    Madle
    The Elusive Shift How Role-Playing Games
    Forged their Identity by Jon Peterson
    From Barsoom to Malacandra by John C. Wright
    Best Comic/Manga/anime:
    Flying Sparks
    The Lovely People
    The Cosmic Warrior
    Best TV show:
    The Expanse
    Stargirl
    Best Movie:
    2067
    Vivarium
    Best Pro Artist:
    Brad Fraunfelter
    Best Book Editor:
    Toni Weisskopf
    Younger readers:
    Dragon Eye, PI by Karina Fabian
    The Unbearable Heaviness of Remembering
    by L. Jagi Lamplighter
    The Lady Heiress by Christopher G. Nuttall
    The Shadows of Alexandrium by David Gerrold
    Best novel:
    Storm Between the Stars by Karl Gallagher
    Unmasked by Kai Wai ‘Benjamin’ Cheah
    Hussar by Declan Finn
    Pure Poison by Hawkings Austin
    Coven by Declan Finn
    Gods of Pangea by John C. Wright
    Machine by Elizabeth Bear

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Some late tyops:

    >re-started group’s Neffy Awards that had been discontinued in 2012.
    the group’s

    >Only two awards were give out for 2015:
    were given out

    >Making generalisation about the Sad Puppies
    a generalisation OR generalisations

    >was a sense of the Hugo Awards, for non-malicious reasons, were overlooking certain styles
    was a sense that the OR of the Hugo Awards…overlooking (without “were”)

    No [6] in the body for the footnote of the File770 announcement of TWBW’s new volume.

    Like

  22. I’m late to the party and I must facepalm at this quote from JCW:

    When is the last time an award winning science fiction tale had profound literary merit, seeped in the traditions of Western epic and romance from the classical period to now?

    …steeped. The word he’s looking for is steeped. “Seeped” just puts all sorts of unpleasant images in the brain.

    Liked by 2 people

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