Debarkle Chapter 54: Rabid Puppies 2016

[Content warning for racism, transphobia and discussion of abuse]

Following the 2015 Hugo Award ceremony there had been much speculation on what action Vox Day would take next. The nomination and final voting statistics had revealed what many had suspected. The Rabid Puppies had a much bigger impact on the outcomes than less disciplined Sad Puppies and it would be Day who would determine what the Puppy conflict would be like in 2016.

Day kicked off Rabid Puppies 2016 on February 2 with a discussion of his choices for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer. His choices were mainly non-partisan choices such as Andy Weir who stood some chance of being nominated regardless but also included Castalia House published writer Cheah Kai Wai[1].

What was more interesting was the date of the start of Day’s public campaign. Behind the scenes in “Brainstorm” online meet-ups, Day had been planning the 2016 Hugo campaign but the Rabid Puppy announcement took place after the cut-off for people to join 2016 Worldcon in time to have the right to nominate. In the comments Day provided a very limited explanation:

“I’m not asking anyone to shell out more money to the Hugo crowd. The Brainstorm people know what is going on. But don’t bother trying to anticipate me. You can’t.

And you do understand that the SJWs in SF read this blog, right? I’m not explaining anything.”

Worldcon membership rules allowed members of the 2015 Worldcon to nominate in the Hugo Awards for 2016. Day would have the votes of any willing Rabid Puppy (or disgruntled/radicalised Sad Puppy) who had joined Worldcon in 2015. However, Day was not making a major effort to recruit new members which also meant that the numbers of Rabid Puppies voting in the final round of the 2016 Hugo Awards might be limited. Given Day’s stated desire to burn the Hugo Awards to the ground, 2015 had demonstrated a basic dilemma for the Rabid Puppy campaign. For Day, Worldcon was a bastion of liberals and so-called Social Justice Warriors and the only way to vote in the Hugo Awards was to pay Worldcon more money. Whatever else the Puppy campaigns of 2015 had done, they had led to a major increase in supporting memberships which had provided extra money to the convention.

A very short culture war

The Hugo Awards were not the first or only target for Day’s Rabid Puppies. Part of the point of the campaign was for Day to give his supporters (aka “minions”) something to do. Day had borrowed the “raid” culture from the 4Chan imageboard communities[2] that had helped fuel GamerGate and he was attempting to use it within the world of science fiction books. His first target of 2016 was the book review site Goodreads.

Goodreads had become a major site for book reviews and unsurprisingly many of the Puppy nominated works for the 2015 Hugo Awards and many Castalia House books were receiving poor reviews. Some of those reviews were dubious due to Goodread’s odd policy of allowing reviews of books that had been announced on the site but not yet actually published but many of the reviews, while scathing, were genuine.

Day established a Rabid Puppy group on Goodreads and looked set to make the review sit a major site of activity for his followers with Day calling the site “the new battleground”:

“I created my Goodreads account yesterday, as it is clear that with Amazon increasingly policing their reviews, Goodreads has become a primary locus of effort for SJWs. It’s time to for us to start contesting that territory; create an account there and friend me. If you’ve already got a Goodreads account, friend me. You can also follow my author page there. And then start rating. Don’t worry about writing reviews for now, just hit the ratings for the time being.”

The Rabid Puppy Goodreads campaign started by targeting one of the most prolific reviewers of the Puppy works of 2015, Lis Carey[3]. However, just as the conflict was starting with duelling coverage on both Day’s blog and at File 770, the battleground itself intervened and promptly chucked the Rabid Puppies out.

“This is hilarious. Goodreads not only deleted my account in less than 36 hours, but they deleted the Rabid Puppies group as well.

Hello Vox,
Your account was recently brought to our attention.  Upon review, we have decided to remove it from the site.  A CSV of the books you shelved is attached for your personal records.  You are banned from using Goodreads in any capacity going forward.
The Goodreads Team

La, whatever shall I do without SJWs telling me what to read? In any event, that should certainly suffice to demonstrate what sort of playing field they have established there. It’s an interesting sort of business plan that revolves around marketing only to the left side of the political spectrum.”

Goodreads was far from immune from trolls but by taking very swift action against the Rabid Puppies, they quickly avoided becoming embroiled in Vox Day’s culture war campaigns. Nonetheless, Day declared victory of a sort:

“The goal had absolutely nothing to do with committing any vandalism on the site. The goal was to see to what extent the SJWs were running amok on Goodreads and smoke them out. I also wanted to learn the system in the build-up to the next Reader’s Choice award, which is not something to which I had hitherto paid any attention, but at least superficially looked less corrupt than the Hugo Awards. We discovered how converged the site is much faster than I had anticipated, thanks to Sean and Rivka, who is not only a librarian, but a moderator. It should be obvious that if I had any desire to wreak havoc, I would not have formed a public group of around 200 people and permitted anyone to join it. I would have simply unleashed the 466 Vile Faceless Minions sworn to mindless obedience of the Supreme Dark Lord.”

If Day did attempt to influence future Goodreads Reader’s Choice awards, there is no sign of any impact. Thus ended the very short story of the Rabid Puppy raid on Goodreads. As a coda, in April of 2016, Day also announced a Rabid Puppy move against the Locus Magazine Award but without any visible results[4].

Hoyt v Day

Between these failed attempts to influence Goodreads and Locus Awards, the Rabid Puppies 2016 campaign continued. Day had little hope of winning a Hugo Award for any of his or his publishing house’s works. Instead, he had learned the lesson that Larry Correia had demonstrated from the Sad Puppies. The nomination phase of the Hugo Awards was highly vulnerable to being shaped by a relatively small number of disciplined voters following a slate of works.

Day was not expecting the same level of help from the Sad Puppies this time either. The Sad Puppies 4 recommendation list might serve to give him some ideas of works to include on his own slate but the nature of the campaign (and the fact that it was being run by people of his least favourite science-fiction gender) meant the Rabid Puppies campaign would be by itself.

2015 had been a year in which the Sad Puppies had struggled to distance themselves from Vox Day and indeed, Day had often left it to Sad Puppy leaders to defend him:

“Last year, my alliance with the others tied my hands. You may recall that I did not talk much to the media or bother to protest most of their ridiculous characterizations, but left that to Brad, the SP3 spokesman. I had no need to defend myself against spurious charges, and there was no point in doing so anyhow.”

It was not surprising that Day would eschew the Sad Puppies in 2016 but he went further and took steps to actively alienate a key figure in the Sad camp.

Early in 2016, Sarah Hoyt was still very sceptical about Donald Trump as a candidate, although she was also fiercely opposed to the current state of immigration to the USA and alarmed by what she perceived as high levels of illegal immigration. Hoyt herself was an immigrant, having moved from Portugal as a young woman and set up a new life for herself with an American husband. For Hoyt, this was deeper than a personal choice about where to live. For her, America was a set of ideals and her claim was that she was effectively “born American”, something she had discovered in her youth in Portugal through the works of Robert A. Heinlein.

“I bought Stranger in a Strange Land, based on the title, because that’s how I felt.  Then I came here and found I belonged here, all along.  The day of my citizenship ceremony, after we came home, I walked out to the mailbox and on the way there it hit me “I am an American now.  I belong, in law as I always did in my heart.”  Then as now the thought is enough to bring tears to my eyes.  Thank you, guys, for accepting me as one of your own.  (And that total acceptance regardless of national origin is nowhere else as complete as in the US.  (Though some other ex-British-colonies come close.))

In Portugal I felt strange because I believed in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Hoyt was hardly the first science-fiction fan who felt alienated from the world she grew up in but then later found a home and a community within fandom but she was perhaps a little unusual in seeing her core fandom being “the USA”. In her fiction, Hoyt had described this as a quasi-religion/ideology of people she called USAians.

Nominally, both Hoyt and Day have been self-described libertarians, although Day had started avoiding using that term for himself by 2016. However, this idea that the defining quality of what makes somebody an American being a set of ideological beliefs and attitudes was absolute anathema to Day. This should not have been a surprise to anybody. Day had made no secret of his beliefs that America was a country intended for people of English descent. True, Day did obfuscate in several ways the basic racial aspects of his beliefs (for example by pointing to his own ancestry which included Mexican and Native American ancestors) but in his columns and in books such as Cuckservative, Day had advanced the idea that politics derived from culture and culture derived from personality and personality predominately derived from DNA and that DNA demonstrated that culture was deeply tied to race. Day objected fundamentally to Hoyt claiming she was American.

From mid-February to March 2016, Vox Day and Sarah Hoyt became embroiled in a war of words over the interrelated question of immigration and Donald Trump, with Day specifically targeting Hoyt’s factually correct claim to be American.

For Hoyt, Donald Trump was a closet Democrat who was using populism to gain support. In the comments of her blog on February 21, she described Trump in these terms:

“Look, he is “European Right Wing” which is why VD likes him. Americans following VD MUST understand he’s not an American conservative. He’s an European right winger. They’re not the same. And here in the states, they’re both socialists. The only difference is leftists in Europe are INTERNATIONAL socialists, and right wing is NATIONAL socialist. That’s all.
You want national socialism here? Yeah. Trump is your man. He’s into the banks for millions and he’s corrupted everything he touched. But you guys believe he’s a white Knight sans peur et sans reproche. Good LORD.” [6]

To other comments in the same post, Day responded on his own blog:

“Contra Sarah, Trump is neither the potential problem nor is he the solution. What he offers is one last chance to get it right. That’s all. He will buy America a little more time to find itself again, to find itself and embrace the strong, self-confidence of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant American nationalism that made the USA a world power and turned it into a place to which people around the world wanted to come.

Race does matter. Sex does matter. Nationality does matter. Not because the Left lies about these things, but because they are materially and objectively significant. The romantic Right is outdated, ill-informed, and intellectually irrelevant. Here is a hint: if you’re even mentioning the word “mercantilism”, you are arguing against nationalist Frenchmen dead 300 years, not the nationalist Mil-Right of today.” [7]

On February 26 in response to another of Hoyt’s posts, Day was breaking things down into simpler terms.

“The white race is not imaginary. America as an Anglo-Saxon nation is not imaginary. What is imaginary is the “proposition nation” version of America that she, the Portuguese immigrant, erroneously believes America to be. Red Eagle and I cover this in moderate detail in Cuckservative: How “Conservatives” Destroyed America.

We’re not killing “the republic that she loves”. It never existed in the first place. Nations are not places, governments, or ideas. Nations are people. Nations are, as the Founding Fathers wrote, posterity.

Sarah may want to consider herself their posterity, but she is not and they would not regard her as such either. Her position requires denying both history and reality, and her postnationalism is as deluded as any progressives. And it’s hardly a surprise that the immigrant declares immigration, the very issue that is propelling Trump to the White House, isn’t a problem.” [8]

“Posterity” was a keyword that Day had fished out of the preamble to the US constitution[8] which Day took to mean the direct descendants of the primarily English colonists at the time of US independence. Day’s argument was that the US constitution is intended only for people he described as “White Anglo-Saxon” and presumably protestant[9]. A couple of day’s later, he would more overtly belittle Hoyt’s status as an American:

“One cannot no more become an American by virtue of one’s thoughts or feelings about revolution or equality than one can become Australian, Canadian, or any other nation of English descent. That’s why, unlike Irish-Americans, Swedish-Americans, and Italian-Americans, there are no hybrid “English-Americans”. Like it or not, the fact is that they are the American nation and the posterity of the Constitution.

The Japanese have a word for a foreigner who is so enamored of Japanese concepts and culture that they come to identify with it. We had a few in my class in Tokyo; they would wear their yukatas and religiously perform tea ceremonies every day. Sarah could be reasonably described as an American weebo.”

The following day, he would tie his objections to Hoyt to his objections to transgender people:

“My, these transamericans are certainly entitled, aren’t they? Not only can they tell Americans what Real Americans are and are not, but they are going to kick out everyone who doesn’t think like they do, no matter whose posterity they happen might be! Nations aren’t genetically-related peoples, after all, but mere collections of similarly-minded groupthinkers.

Notice that I never said anything about Sarah being good enough to be an American. I never said anything about being American being something good, or even desirable. What I stated is a simple fact, one no more controversial than Sarah being female. She is Portuguese. She is not American. Becoming a U.S. citizen is paperwork; the mere fact that one has to become a U.S. citizen is sufficient to indicate that one is not an American. As it happens, I even know a few Americans who are not U.S. citizens.”

Day’s reputation as a debater is low on the left but surprisingly high on the right. The reason can be seen in these exchanges. He would find the confused assumptions and assertions within a conservative’s or libertarian’s arguments and attack those but in doing so advance a more extreme right-wing position. In the same post he would point out the inherent authoritarianism within Hoyt’s claim that beliefs determine whether a person is a true American or not:

“Their “proposition nation” is not even theoretically possible without the sort of thought police that their self-definitive ideals must reject. Defining a nation as a proposition is as intrinsically absurd and self-negating as feminism or communism or open-borders libertarianism. These transamerican idealists consider themselves to be intelligent and well-educated, and yet they have observably failed to even begin to think through the necessary consequences of the very values they erroneously claim makes one American.”


But Day was knocking down Hoyt’s confused idea to push the even more alarming notion of America being defined genetically.

In a later post, as this cross-blog argument was dying down, he made his analysis even more overt:

“But the post does serve to nicely illustrate the intrinsically dishonest, pernicious, and untenable nature of the concept of the proposition nation, which anyone can join “by belief and choice”. Such a nation requires, absolutely requires, thought policing of the most stringent and ruthless variety, and is intrinsically totalitarian in a way that the most authoritarian “blood and soil” regime could never be.

It is no surprise that as a result of immigration and the necessary redefinition of what it is to be American, the country has become considerably less free despite the influx of these “belief and choice” citizens. The Know-Nothings were, more or less, correct. Indeed, the present situation is a direct consequence of the inability of 19th century immigrants to fully grasp the Rights of Englishmen, because they were never English and they will never be what might be described as Americans version 1.0. More recent arrivals are observably even less able to do so.”

Notably, while Day’s arguments were targetted at Sarah Hoyt many of them were as applicable to Larry Correia although he didn’t target him by name.

As we will see in later chapters, Sarah Hoyt’s opposition to Donald Trump would shift but from early 2016 onward the Sad Puppy leaders no longer went to the same lengths to defend Vox Day or Vox Day’s prior involvement. This did not extend to conceding that Day’s critics had been correct. Instead, accounts by Sad Puppy leaders of the events of 2015 quietly side-lined Vox Day’s role or avoided mentioning the Rabid Puppies at all.

Making Awards Rabid Again

The press release encapsulated the zeitgeist:

RABID PUPPIES 2016 Make the Hugos Great
On the heels of last year’s magnificent campaign, which successfully placed 58 of its 67 recommended nominees on the ballot and inspired no less than 5 No Awards, the Supreme Dark Lord of the Evil Legion of Evil is proud to Make the Hugos Great Again by announcing his recommendations for the 2016 Hugo Awards.

“Many of the things that were said about the Puppies last year by luminaries of the field such as George R.R. Martin, David Gerrold, and John Scalzi were deeply hurtful,” said Vox Day, as he quaffed blood from the silvered skull of an SJW. “But I think we’ve learned from our past mistakes and put together a kindler, gentler, list of recommendations that will entertain the casual reader of science fiction and fantasy, as well as inform the more serious observers of the field what a ghastly collection of criminally sick freaks have been inhabiting the community of science fiction fandom for decades.”‘

Echoing Donald Trump’s catchphrase, Day announced the finalised list close to the nomination closing date for the 2016 Hugo Awards. In the press release, Day highlighted five entries of particular note:

• “Moira Greyland’s account of her childhood abuse at the hands of her mother, the award-winning science fiction writer Marion Zimmer Bradley
• Five-time 2015 Hugo nominee John C. Wright’s novel Somewhither: A Tale of the Unwithering Realm.
• SF great Jerry Pournelle, whose groundbreaking There Will Be War series returned after a 25-year absence due to the end of the Cold War.
• “Safe Space as Rape Room”, a five-part series on the pedophiles and child molesters who have preyed upon children in the science fiction community.
• “Space Raptor Butt Invasion”, a sensuous space romance that is a tribute to true diversity in science fiction.”


These five nominees demonstrated three of the four major aspects of Day’s choices for his slate.

Moira Greyland was the daughter of Marion Zimmer Bradley. In 2014 writer Deirdre Saoirse Moen had contacted Greyland to discuss the degree to which Bradley had known about or enabled the abuse inflicted by her husband, convicted paedophile Walter Breen (see chapter 25). Greyland had revealed Bradley’s own abusive action towards her children, reopening the discussion of the so-called Breendoggle within the science-fiction community. Vox Day had included aspects of the scandal in his attack on the SFWA after he had been expelled. Greyland’s own harrowing account of her experiences had an added element attractive to Day: Greyland tied the issue of child abuse to the sexuality of Marion Zimmer Bradley and Walter Breen to argue against the legitimacy of same-sex marriages.

More directly tied to Day’s earlier campaign against the SFWA was Daniel Eness’s series for the Castalia House blog entitled “Safe Space as Rape Room”. The series was little more than an expansion of Day’s own blog posts from 2014 attempting to tie the SFWA leadership at the time to the abusive behaviour of individuals within the broader science fiction community.

Together, these nominees were part of Day’s attempt to tie paedophilia to the Hugo Awards and more broadly as part of a right-wing strategy to discredit support for LGBTQI rights by conflating paedophilia with a tolerance of diverse sexualities, genders and gender expression.

The second aspect of Day’s picks was to promote Castalia House as a publisher. While it was unlikely that many Worldcon members would be won over to his books, the publicity around the Rabid Puppy campaign would likely bring Castalia House to the attention of a right-wing audience.

Lastly, and most interestingly was Space Raptor Butt Invasion by Chuck Tingle. I have written a much fuller account of the history of Tingle and this book in my series The Hugosauriad, which I won’t repeat here[10]. The self-publishing phenomenon had been a regular inside joke in the comments at File 770 during 2015 and it is likely that Day picked up the existence of Tingle’s idiosyncratic take on gay erotica there. Day’s intent was to get things on the ballot that would inherently discredit the worth of the Hugo Awards by being laughably awful, possibly inspired by the Sad Puppy choice of Wisdom from My Internet in 2015. Tingle’s book was a poor choice for this strategy and would eventually backfire for Day and the Rabid Puppies when Tingle used the ensuing controversy to not only boost his own popularity but also to satirise Day and the Puppies.

The full list revealed the fourth plank of Day’s slate strategy: hostages.

The slate contained numerous works and nominees that could easily have appeared as Hugo finalists without the intervention of a campaign. Many of these, like Alistair Reynolds’s novella Slow Bullets, had been drawn from the Sad Puppy 4 recommendation list. Some appeared to be unlikely choices for Day, especially his pick of File 770 in the Best Fanzine section (although he was clearly an active follower of the Hugo Award coverage there).

These works quickly became talked about as “hostages”. Their role in the slate was multifold. Firstly, they were works that supporters of the Puppy campaigns could point to as unarguably meritorious works, lending credibility to the slate. Secondly, being included in the Rabid Puppy slate might make life difficult for these so-called hostages and perhaps might lead some legitimate contenders to withdraw from the Hugo Awards rather than be associated with Vox Day’s slate or the Puppy brand. Thirdly, their presence on the final ballot would make it harder for voters to simply ‘no award’ any Rabid Puppy nominee or, equally delightful for Day, vote ‘no award’ over a finalist who might have won if it hadn’t have been for the Rabid Puppy slate. Lastly, including likely Hugo finalists would increase the chance of Day’s slate appearing to be successful at the nomination stage.

If Day had retained the support of the people who voted for his choices in 2015, then his Rabid Puppy slate would have significant support in the nomination phase of the 2016 Hugo Awards. The Sad Puppies were now little more than a sideshow, their recommendation list helping Day fill empty slots in his slate but niether wanted nor needed for his objective. He was setting out not to win the Hugo Awards but to disrupt them. A term had arisen in the 1990s among the world of online game players that neatly encapsulated Day’s strategy:

“A griefer or bad faith player is a player in a multiplayer video game who deliberately irritates and harasses other players within the game (trolling), by using aspects of the game in unintended ways, such as destroying something another player made or built. A griefer derives pleasure primarily or exclusively from the act of annoying other users, and as such is a particular nuisance in online gaming communities. To qualify as griefing, a player must be using aspects of the game in unintended ways to annoy other players—if they are trying to gain a strategic advantage, it is instead called “cheating”.”

The difference was, this time people were expecting him.

Next Time: Enter the Dragon


The Rabid Puppies 2016 Slate

    • Seveneves: A Novel, Neal Stephenson, William Morrow
    • Golden Son, Pierce Brown, Del Rey
    • Somewhither: A Tale of the Unwithering Realm, John C. Wright, Castalia House
    • The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass, Jim Butcher, Roc
    • Agent of the Imperium, Marc Miller, Far Future
    • Fear of the Unknown and Self-Loathing in Hollywood, Nick Cole, Tales of Tinfoil
    • Penric’s Demon, Lois McMaster Bujold, Spectrum
    • Perfect State, Brandon Sanderson, Dragonsteel Entertainment
    • The Builders, Daniel Polansky,
    • Slow Bullets, Alastair Reynolds, Tachyon Publications
    • Flashpoint: Titan, Cheah Kai Wai, There Will Be War Vol. X, Castalia House
    • Folding Beijing, Hao Jingfang, Uncanny Magazine
    • What Price Humanity?, David VanDyke, There Will Be War Vol. X, Castalia House
    • Hyperspace Demons, Jonathan Moeller, Castalia House
    • Obits, Stephen King, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, Scribner
    • Asymmetrical Warfare, S. R. Algernon, Nature Nr. 519
    • Seven Kill Tiger, Charles Shao, There Will Be War Vol. X, Castalia House
    • The Commuter, Thomas Mays, Amazon Digital Services
    • If You Were an Award, My Love, Juan Tabo and S. Harris, Vox Popoli
    • Space Raptor Butt Invasion, Chuck Tingle, Amazon Digital Services
    • Appendix N, Jeffro Johnson, Castalia House blog
    • Between Light and Shadow: An Exploration of the Fiction of Gene Wolfe, 1951 to 1986, Marc Aramini, Castalia House
    • The Story of Moira Greyland, Moira Greyland,
    • Safe Space as Rape Room, Daniel Eness, Castalia House blog
    • SJWs Always Lie, Vox Day, Castalia House
    • The Divine, Boaz Lavie, Asaf Hanuka, Tomer Hanuka, First Second
    • Full Frontal Nerdity, Aaron Williams, Do Gooder Press
    • Erin Dies Alone, Cory Rydell and Grey Carter, The Escapist
    • The Sandman: Overture, Neil Gaiman and JH Williams III, Vertigo
    • Invisible Republic Vol 1 (#1–5), Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman, Image Comics
    • Jerry Pournelle
    • Anne Sowards, Penguin
    • Jim Minz, Baen Books
    • Mike Braff, Del Rey
    • Toni Weisskopf, Baen Books
    • Vox Day, Castalia House
    • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Konrad Tomaszkiewicz and Mateusz Kanik Sebastian, CD Projekt RED
    • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Hideo Kojima, Kojima Productions
    • Until Dawn, Will Byles, Supermassive Games
    • Avengers: Age of Ultron, Zak Penn‎ and ‎Joss Whedon, Marvel Studios
    • The Martian, Ridley Scott, Scott Free Productions
    • Supernatural, “Just My Imagination” Season 11, Episode 8, Richard Speight Jr, Supernatural
    • Grimm, Season 4 Episode 21, “Headache”, Jim Kouf, Grimm
    • Tales from the Borderlands Episode 5, “The Vault of the Traveller”
    • Life is Strange, Episode 1, Raoul Barbet and Michel Koch, Life is Strange
    • My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic, Season 5, Episodes 1-2, “The Cutie Map”, Jayson Thiessen, Jim Miller and Rebecca Dart, My Little Pony
    • Larry Elmore
    • Michal Karcz (Karezoid on Deviant Art)
    • Abigail Larson
    • Lars Braad Andersen, example
    • Larry Rostant, example
    • Abyss & Apex, Wendy Delmater
    • Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Scott H. Andrews
    • Daily Science Fiction, Jonathan Laden and Michele Barasso
    • Sci-Phi Journal, Jason Rennie
    • Strange Horizons, Niall Harrison
    • Black Gate
    • Castalia House blog
    • File 770
    • Superversive SF
    • Tangent Online
    • The Rageaholic by Razorfist
    • Hello Greedo
    • 8-4 Play
    • Cane and Rinse
    • Tales to Terrify
    • Jeffro Johnson
    • Morgan (Castalia House)
    • Shamus Young
    • Zenopus
    • Douglas Ernst
    • Rgus
    • Matthew Callahan
    • Disse86
    • Darkcloud013
    • Kukuruyo
  • BEST NEW WRITER (Campbell Award)
    • Pierce Brown
    • Cheah Kai Wai
    • Sebastien de Castell
    • Brian Niemeier
    • Andy Weir

113 responses to “Debarkle Chapter 54: Rabid Puppies 2016”

  1. I wonder why Castalia House blogger “Morgan” does not have his surname listed on the official slate, especially since he has been active in the study of pulp SFF (and generally respected) under his full name for years before he threw his lot in with VD. Maybe Morgan hoped people would not make the connection, though it wasn’t difficult.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Typo patrol here:

    unarguably meriticous works

    s/b meritorious

    The Sad Puppies were now little more than a side show, their recommendation list helping Day fill empty slots in his slate but niether wanted nor needed for his objective

    “Sideshow” is usually one word rather than two. “Neither”, not “niether”.

    [1] A Singaporean author ho mainly now publishes


    [6] the pronoun reference of ‘he’ here gets a little ambiguous but I read ‘he’ here being Trump through out.

    “throughout”, one word


  3. My personal impression is that Vox put File 770 on the slate as his idea of a “reward” for the attention he received there — covering his moves as news, and hosting zillions of comments about them. The premium he placed on receiving attention far outweighed the consideration of whether it was positive or negative attention — bear in mind that at 770 it was almost entirely negative.

    As you have begun to trace here, Vox was able to use the platform and personal name recognition he created through the sff culture wars to transition to primarily commenting on right-wing talking points, where he rapidly acquired an even bigger audience (since far more people are interested in politics than sff).

    At the other end of the political spectrum Alexandra Erin made the same transition during this time — no more time for cute sff parodies, time to make a living finding news to comment on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I remember how much I enjoyed Alexandra Erin’s parodies and how often I check out her blog at the time. I even subscribed to her newsletter. Now, however, I hardly ever visit her blog anymore and often delete the newsletter unread, because it’s just US political blather that I’m just not that interested in, even if I broadly agree with her points.


      • You might want to check her Patreon instead of her newsletter. She uses the newsletter primarily for news commentary and the Patreon for posting fiction (though little of it is comedy fiction at the moment). Like the newsletter, her posts there aren’t locked to backers, so you can read them without having to subscribe.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I have a vague memory of an SF writer who joined and screenshot a Goodreads groups’ plans to coordinate attacks on “SJW” writers. Was that part of this chapter’s adventures? If I find a link to that fellow’s original post, I’ll let you know (but other folks will probably find it quicker).

    Liked by 2 people

  5. A couple of notes:

    It’s always been my impression that “Space Raptor Butt Invasion” was nominated primarily as yet another crude insult aimed at “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”.

    Contrary to Day’s bizarre claims, the term “weeaboo” for an over-enthusiastic Japanophile is not of Japanese origin, but comes from chan culture, originally being a meaningless word made up for a strip from the Perry Bible Fellowship webcomic. (

    Liked by 5 people

    • I’ve seen the term used for stans of the WWII Wehrmacht.(Perhaps a secondary usage.)


      • Correct. It’s a pun on a nonsense word, a thing that leaves me uncertain if it is clever or stupid.

        Similar terms have arisen for other morally questionable fandoms–there are several for CSA stans, of which ‘butternutterboo’ is a favorite of mine.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. …the 466 Vile Faceless Minions sworn to mindless obedience of the Supreme Dark Lord.

    Imagine the mindset in which that’s considered a compliment.

    Liked by 5 people

    • The Alt-Right’s default setting is a pretense of irony that they may or may not be consciously aware of. Thus, of course, they swear the joke is they are not faceless minions sworn to mindless obedience, while in fact being just that, with an even split between the ones who really imagine that they are being ironic, and the ones who think they’re fooling people by claiming its ironic.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ah, Chuck Tingle. If I was forced, at threat of death of everything I loved, to say something nice about VD, it would be “He introduced us all the National Treasure Chuck Tingle”.

    Liked by 10 people

  8. Tingle’s book was a poor choice for this strategy and would eventually backfire for Day and the Rabid Puppies when Tingle use -> used

    Liked by 2 people

  9. So, let me get this straight: Teddy believes you can’t be an American without both being born on the land, and having ancestors born on other particular land, PLUS having a specific genetic makeup.

    Dirt and blood.

    I guess it sounds better in the original German?

    Liked by 4 people

    • I wonder if anyone has pointed out to poor, ignorant Teddy that in 1787, when Pennsylvania became the second state to ratify the Constitution*, the text of the Constitution was printed in German as well as English because one-third of the population was German-speaking?

      *Historical sidebar: both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were drafted and signed in Philadelphia.

      Liked by 6 people

      • At times in the past, the Constitution of Louisiana required all laws to be written in both English and French, though that would later be overturned. (That site has a bullet-point history of French support in Louisiana.) And large chunks of the law in Louisiana are still based primarily on the French and Spanish Civil Law systems rather than the English Common Law system.

        Which makes Louisiana in the U.S. rather like Quebec in Canada, in more ways than one.

        Liked by 4 people

  10. I have said it before and I’ll say it again–the “hostages” were never really “hostages” because Beale knew perfectly well the voters would laugh off his attempt and vote for them anyway. The plan was about nursing his followers’ swollen self-regard.

    And his own, but Ted does that the way most people breathe.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I agree that in an objective reality the hostages were never really hostages, but I have SEVERE doubts that when he first posted that Vox event suspected that most of the Hugo voters would be perfectly fine putting the hostages above no award. I know people keep pointing out that Vox seems to be smarter than most of his minions, but I don’t think you can infer from that that he is actually smart on any level.

      Now, I admit, that most of my personal interactions with with Vox’s many minions (two of whom, for complex social reasons, I had to continue interaction with during the course of the Debarkle Years), and perhaps because of my exposure to those specific minions, who were ABSOLUTELY convinced that No Award won in categories because all of us Non-Puppies blindly voted No Award on every slated nominee (when in fact a number of us — but which I do mean myself as well as others — read all those atrocious entries, and I at least wound up putting one (and only one) 2015 Puppy nominee above No Award, though below other entries in the category.

      Even when I tried several times to explain the latter to the couple of Pups I had to keep interacting with that that’s how it went, they COMPLETELY and UNWAVERINGLY believed that all of us on the “other side” would be force to No Award Neil Gaiman and whover the other hostages were that made the ballot.

      I understand that’s just Vox’s minions, but let me remind you that Vox’s initial reaction (which he later deleted) to the first blog posts after the 2015 shortlist came out and people started suggestion using the No Award option, was utter disbelief. Vox had no fucking clue that No Award was a possibility, but he quickly deleted and then started claiming that categories getting No Award would be a win for him.

      So, no, I think he absolutely believes that those nominees were hostages, right up until overwhelming evidence that they weren’t came forward. But not until.

      Liked by 1 person

      • See, I’d argue Rabid Puppies 2016 was always more an internal propaganda exercise than aimed at any real concrete goal, no matter what Beale said–this was about constructing grievances to nurse into the future. Hence all the pedo accusations and accounts in Related Works–something to be offended over when they deservedly lost. Beale might have nursed a hope he’d clip a Hugo for Gaiman or Weir, for example, but I suspect he knew it wouldn’t happen. And so instead he was expecting to blab how this showed how arbitrary his opponents were, how he was in touch with the zeitgeist no matter what they said, etc.

        Beale’s biggest problem throughout was that he had tactics, but no real strategy, or even an actual objective. He may have thought he was promoting his brand, or some such nonsense but he was just getting his followers into a pointless scuffle with no real payoff. Another reason they started flaking on him…

        Liked by 1 person

  11. This isn’t a tyop, but the phrasing seems off.
    “the Rabid Puppy campaign would likely draw the attention to Castalia House of a right-wing audience.”
    Maybe: …draw to Castalia House the attention…?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. “Hoyt herself was an immigrant, having moved from Portugal as a young woman and setting up a new life for herself with an American husband.”
    Neither the first or last anti-American immigrant. Similarly, when I lived in the Florida panhandle, there were endless stories of retirees who moved there, then demanded local government do something to slow down the population growth. Sometimes it only took one week.

    “For Hoyt this was deeper than a personal choice about where to live. For her, America was a set of ideals and her claim was that she was effectively “born American”, ”
    Of course right-wingers never consider this works for anyone outside their preferred groups of immigrants.

    Liked by 5 people

  13. Something that might be worth bringing up in relation to the Moira Greyland essay. The previous year, Vox Day said that he considered including Deirdre Saoirse Moen’s writing on MZB (which would, by extension, have included Moira Greyland’s testimony) but specifically decided that it would be inappropriate to do so:

    it was only after Moira spoke out against homosexuality that the Rabid Puppies campaign deemed her writing award-worthy.

    Liked by 6 people

  14. And you do understand that the SJWs in SF read this blog, right? I’m not explaining anything.

    That recognition, fleeting and incomplete as it was, still puts him one up on a number of his co-conspirators.


    • Coming from Vox, though, I tended to believe it was just smoke and mirrors, there was no Sekrit Plan, because he had been so public and hungry for attention about his every other move against the Hugos. However, saying there is a Sekrit Plan is another time-tested way to magnify the attention being paid to the sayer. So that fit his MO.

      Liked by 5 people

      • I can’t argue with that. Ego does seem to be is main driving force.

        And the whole Goodreads thing shows that even when Vox does attempt to have a ‘Sekrit Plan’ he doesn’t do a particularly good job of actually figuring out how to keep it secret.

        I’ve noted before that Vox is smarter than most of his followers, but for one thing, that isn’t saying much. And for another, it seems to give him a vastly over-inflated view of his own competence because he seems to assume that everybody on the ‘other side’ is just as dull as the ablative yes-men he surrounds himself with.

        Liked by 5 people

      • I suspect there was a ‘secret plan’ in so much as there was a plan that was not discussed in public if Beale could help it. But it wasn’t anything too elaborate, and boiled down to ‘do what we did last year’. Still, it doubtless made Beale feel very special to think he had a secretplan.

        Liked by 2 people

    • This, to me, suggests that Beale shares one trait with his hero Trump. Trump believes that if he learns something for the first time, then it is also first time news to everyone else. When Trump says “nobody knew . . .” what he is saying is that he didn’t know.

      Beale seems to think this as well, and his admonishment that he won’t explain, basically, how the Hugos work for fear that the “SJWs” will then know as well is just one of those times where this shows through. Beale didn’t understand how the Hugos work, therefore, this is secret knowledge that he won’t divulge now that he does.

      I will point out that even after this post Beale appeared to still not know how the Hugos work, since he was confident that “no awarding” a category twice in a row would mean that it was eliminated from the Hugos in the future (a rather hilarious misreading of the “no interest” rule).

      Liked by 3 people

      • Teddy shares a lot of traits with Cheeto Benito, not least being driven to try to get the love and respect of a father who will never give it, only his ill-gotten gains.

        Love is real, but money can’t buy you it.


    • I think one thing that needs to be emphasized is that Beale is not particularly smart. He is an example of what happens when a person of average intelligence is equipped with large amounts of money – he can fail over and over again without personal ruin.

      Beale’s history is one of someone who consistently displays stupidity in public and fails at his endeavors. He’s stupidly wrong about genetics, ethnicity, history, religion, economics, and pretty much every other topic he opens his mouth about. As an example, he’s a goldbug, which is the most sophomoric economic position there is. He spent months trying to grasp the Hugo rules, which are not really all that complicated. He’s failed at writing, game development, publishing, and even creating an alternative Wikipedia. The difference between him and an average person who is as dumb as Beale is that he has enough money to be stupidly wrong and continue going.

      His accomplishments are so few and far between that he still crows about a local music award given to a band that he didn’t even perform with. He’s a failure with money. That’s all he is, and that’s all he will ever be. People need to stop saying he’s even remotely intelligent. He’s smarter than the average right-winger, but that’s not saying he’s smart.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. having moved from Portugal as a young woman and setting up a new life for herself


    Hoyt was hardly the first science-fiction fan who felt alienated from the world she grew up in but then found a home and a community within fandom but perhaps a little unusual in seeing her core fandom being “the USA”.

    s/but perhaps/but was perhaps/

    his own ancestry which included Mexican and Native American ancestors

    [I suggest s/included/allegedly included/ unless you have a citation that supports the claim. ]

    Donald Trump was a closet Demorcat


    [Are you SURE you want to quote so much from Day? I would think just one quote would do.]

    This did not extend to anyway conceding that Day’s critics had been correct.

    s/extend to anyway/in any way/

    Lastly, and most interestingly,


    [You might want to go through the entire work and remove the “ly” everywhere it’s not actually needed. E.g. “first” for “firstly.”]

    point to as unarguably meriticous works,

    s/.*/point to as works of unquestionable merit,/


    • //[Are you SURE you want to quote so much from Day? I would think just one quote would do.]//

      That’s always a dilemma but there’s a lot of Vox getting very, very, close to just directly saying that he is a white supremacist. I did unintentionally leave out a quote from Hoyt that is jaw-droppingly awful though. May bring it up later.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Considering the Overton Window has been breaking speed records rightward the past several years, I think “jaw-droppingly awful” needs to be named and shamed more.

        Stop normalizing this hateful bullshit. Call it out.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh, it will get included because we’re on an arc here. This chapter is the Hoyt who thinks Trump is a Democrat Nazi and by November she is voting for Trump. So the why of that becomes clearer when you dig into it.

          Liked by 5 people

    • I don’t want to Camestros start running into the issue of putting “allegedly” beside the claims of ancestry of people we don’t like.


  16. I’m sure you’ll cite my numbers at the appropriate point (please do!) but I thought I’d point out a few things my analysis turned up.

    1) Only about 20 people used the Sad Puppy 2016 list as a nominating slate.

    2) The Rabid’s pretty much doubled their numbers, from 190 to ~350. This is impressive, and greatly exceeds even the 2015 numbers for Sad+Rabid Puppies. That is, they didn’t just grow by absorbing the Sad Puppies.

    3) The lighting-fast response to a last-minute change in the slate showed just how disciplined Day’s followers were.

    4) The hostage strategy was a dismal failure.

    I still like my summary:

    The slates have been doubling in size every year, and they have greatly improved their discipline. At least 300 people strictly voted the Rabid Puppies slate in every single category. Although organic voters also increased their nomination rate, the puppies left them in the dust.

    Even so, for all that effort, the Puppies can only point to a single case where one of their candidates won an award that she would not have won without their help.


    • Will do – I nearly did in this chapter TBH but it spoiled the flow. I was using your numbers to double check that he largely brought along Rabids who voted in the finals in 2015 to the nominations in 2016.


  17. “However, Day was not making a major effort to recruit new members which also meant that the numbers of Rabid Puppies voting in the final round of the 2016 Hugo Awards might be limited.”

    If memory serves, the end result was quite a few of the finalists from the RP2 list, in the end, got fewer final ballot votes than original nominating votes, which is quite the feat.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Seems even the Dead Elk weren’t willing to pony up the dough to vote (and get humiliated) again. Not only did Teddy not get new members, the previous ones noped out.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hoyt thought she was ‘one of the good ones’.

        Beale thought she was a ‘useful idiot’ who was no longer useful once she started arguing against somebody he thought was ‘better’.

        This is, of course, a common end result of being ‘one of the good ones’, but people keep doing it for the short term status within the existing system anyway.

        Liked by 4 people

      • And even when they do learn, it’s not as though there is ever going to be a shortage of people who see being ‘one of the good ones’ as a shortcut to success within the system that is otherwise rigged against them. They figure that what happened to everybody else won’t happen to them, because they really are one of the good ones, whereas those others obviously weren’t.

        Of course, the ones that do learn get rather loudly shunned and ostracized by all of the others that are still trying to maintain their own status.

        (Does anybody remember the Honey Badger Brigade, the anti-feminist group that, among other things, got tossed out of the Calgary Expo in 2015 because they’d arranged their dealer’s booth under false pretenses and were pushing GamerGate merch, and then tried to sue the convention using a disbarred lawyer? Well, by the start of 2016 they were in pretty much a civil war because one of the members who seemed to actually believe in the mission complained that the other members were wasting everybody else’s time and money. The ‘heretic’ who left was… well, if you’re familiar with the group’s tactics, it won’t be a surprise. That whole mess was kind of a related side story to a lot of the rest of this discussion.)

        Liked by 2 people

      • Not surprising, there’s a whole huge incestuous right-wing media ecosystem at various levels, everything from the Honey Badger Radio up to Rebel Media up here, and at some point you just need to know where to stop or you’ll never be finished talking about it.

        (Rebel Media exists because the attempt to create ‘Sun News’ up here as a sort of Fox News North failed, mostly because they couldn’t get the particular license which would then pretty much require all cable providers to carry them as part of the basic cable package, so they never hit the sort of viewership levels they wanted. Eventually they realized that the rules regarding posting videos online were a lot more open than the rules about actual TV channels, and so went entirely online to avoid the regulations.)

        Liked by 3 people

      • Now that you mention it, I remember the Honey Badgers getting tossed from the Expo (and being slightly surprised, as I was under the impression Calgary was far from “woke”). Didn’t care enough to note later developments, though.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. Just idly wondering what Teddy boy would think of ‘Welsh-Americans’ – most definitely not of ‘English stock’ but with a greater claim to these islands than his Angle/Saxon/Jute forebears perhaps!


    • First guess: he generally doesn’t think about them at all. Bigotry at that level requires a rather carefully curated wilful ignorance about actual history and biology and how messy they are.

      Second guess: if he does think about them, he probably thinks of the Welsh along similar lines to the North American First Nations: as the placeholder barbarians until the destined rulers of the place came along and took over. Which would make Welsh-Americans probably seen as aspiring to the positions of their betters in an understandable but ultimately doomed fashion.

      Liked by 4 people

      • @fontfolly:
        Thanks. Honestly, if Fred Clark (a.k.a. Slacktivist at Patheos) didn’t use that exact phrase, he’s used ones really close to it. He’s made comments before about the ‘world’s worst LARP’, and about how, at some level, so many of these people must know that the world in general doesn’t agree with them, because they focus so strongly on only following the people who are also ‘playing the game’.

        It’s along the same lines as Morton’s Demon, a proposed analogue to Maxwell’s Demon that instead stands in front of a person’s mind and only lets through evidence that already agrees with their worldview.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Ditto the Scottish-Americans. Of whom there are a LOT, many of them who own claymores, dirks, and sgian dhubh.*

      The Lowlanders are generally of Saxon etc. stock, but what about the Highlanders?

      *I can neither confirm nor deny this is true in my house.**

      **Okay, no dirk.


      • Most of my ancestors in several branches are either Irish, Scottish, German, or English middle class who came to Ireland with King Henry’s army and started intermarrying with the Irish, so despite many of my ancestors having been here some decades before the Civil War apparently I’m not American, either.

        Liked by 2 people

      • My question was what is the distinction between a dirk and a sgian dubh, but wiktionary informs me that a dirk is a long dagger, while a sgian dubh is a small knife.


          • Based on my family tree, I’m 5/8 German,1/4 Dutch, and 1/8 Irish (assuming that there was no funny business somewhere up the chain). For me, ancestry is an interesting sidenote (I once visited the place in the Old Country from whence part of my family got its surname), but I don’t put any stock in genetic heritage as far as psychological traits, personality, or intelligence.


      • I’m also part English, part Irish, part Scottish, and part German. (I usually follow that up by saying ‘I argue with myself a lot.’)

        In my case, the Germans are the ones that have been in North America the longest; they were actually Palatines, and have been over here since before the American Revolution. (In which they fought on the British side, which is why they moved to what would later become Canada.) I think the Scottish branch moved over here next, then the Irish branch (potato famine), and one of the English branches were the last ones, having moved in my great grandparents’ time.

        About the only way I could be more Canadian would require First Nations ancestry, but we haven’t found any verifiable evidence of that. Granted, Canada has generally had a slightly different approach to the whole concept of pre/post immigration culture and assimilation than the U.S. has. The usual phrasing is ‘The U.S. is a melting pot; Canada is a mosaic.’

        (One of the nice things about having a couple of really uncommon surnames in the family is it makes those branches really easy to trace. And by ‘uncommon’ I mean ‘literally everybody in the world with this surname we can verify as having common ancestors within the last three or four hundred years’.)

        Liked by 2 people

    • There’s a subset of Beale’s style of white supremacists who think everyone should go back to and stay on their own ancestral lands, but somehow do it all peacefully and of their own free will (And yet always insist America is *their* home even if they aren’t a whole sixteenth Indigenous).

      I always wonder where they think the children of multiple countries should go if they got their wish and everyone was sent back, and how you do THAT without bloodshed. Because never mind the people who are bi- or multi-racial who get hit with that, I, the mother of ideal blue eyed blond kids, and whitest white (all Northern European, but covering locations from Wales to Finland and the Ukraine) am pretty much SOL.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Yeah, just the ancestry I’m 100% sure of would involve me going back to all the places that speak either Gaelic or a Germanic language, at least 5 of them, and possibly more.

        Mr. LT would only have 3.

        How we’d all fit back on those places is another story entirely. Even the extremely white population of the US isn’t going to fit into Northern/Northwestern Europe. Particularly little England.

        Liked by 1 person

      • as a very white, blond-ish, blue-eyed person who lives in Asia and has very little interest in living in an increasingly shitty country (thanks, Tories, for ripping to shreds everything that was actually decent about the UK) I’m also SOL.


  19. Typo: you said Day tried a Rabid Puppy attack on the Locus Awards in April 2006. Presumably you meant 2016.


  20. Nonetheless, day declared victory of a sort:

    I note that “day” is lowercase.

    As a coda, in April of 2006, Day also announced a Rabid Puppy move against the Locus Magazine Award but without any visible results

    Heaven forfend that VD should have access to time travel.

    Although . . . I just thought of a potential comedic SF story where a white supremacist is secretly ashamed of some impurities in his bloodline, and uses time travel to go back before his parents marry so as to ensure that his father never meets his mother and instead marries someone more suitable.

    It would fit in with the whole theme of inadvertent ideological self-sabotage.


  21. I note that Day wrote about “Trump” and “White Anglo-Saxon American”.

    People forget that Trump’s mother was a Scot. The Scots don’t want him (heck, a significant chunk of his own family doesn’t want him), but there it is. And his grandfather wasn’t from Saxony, but from Bavaria.


    • Trump’s grandfather is from Kallstadt, which is in Rhineland-Palatinate, not in Bavaria (nor in Saxony). Though the area was controlled by the Kingdom of Bavaria for much of the 19th century.

      The Heinz family (the ketchup people) also hail from Kallstadt BTW. Everybody thinks they’re much more useful, because they’re nice people and make tasty ketchup. Whereas the Trumps were always awful according to the people of Kallstadt.


      • Thanks for the correction. I hastily read WikiP’s line that “Fred [Trump] was conceived in Bavaria, where his parents wished to re-establish residency”, and didn’t understand that Kallstadt is in a different state.

        Liked by 1 person

  22. Tyops!

    >looked set to make the review sit a major site of activity for his followers with Day calling the site “the new battleground”:

    Too much sit/site. Suggest: looked set to make the review sit[e] a major [center] of activity for his followers with Day calling [it] “the new battleground”:

    You have a [5] footnote without a reference in the main text.

    You have two [8]’s in the main text.

    Liked by 1 person

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