The protracted culture war for the soul of science fiction fandom was over…sort of. The broad social issues and responses to demographic and technological change were still ongoing. Issues of systemic bias and ingrained prejudice within fandom and publishing still existed. Fandom’s seemingly insatiable appetite for controversies and feuds was not going to end or even truly pause to catch a breath. Unravelling the distinction between personal differences, justifiable anger, aesthetic arguments and shitty behaviour had not been simplified. If anything, having faced down an almost caricature-like example of an antagonist (Vox Day even portrayed himself as supreme dark lord sitting on a throne of skulls) highlighted how complex non-Puppy related fannish disputes could be.
Nevertheless, during a time period in which many institutions in wealthy English speaking countries (and beyond) had found themselves pulled further to right by the rise of extreme nationalism, first the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) and then Worldcon/WSFS/Hugo Awards had, in the end, seen off reactionary campaigns against increased representation for historically discriminated sections of society.
Vox Day had warned the SFWA that dire consequences would follow if he were expelled and many right-leaning figures within or previously associated with the SFWA had also warned that his expulsion in 2013 would lead to a disastrous rift in the organisation (see chapter 22). In reality, the SFWA did not collapse, implode or split into innumerable factions. While there were some attempts to establish “apolitical” rival organisations to the SFWA, none of these amounted to anything. The right-wing campaign against the organisation continued only in the form of harassment by internet trolls of SFWA officers, including SFWA President (2015-2019) Cat Rambo.
Although Day threatened legal action against the SFWA, the subsequent Puppy campaigns against the Hugo Awards actually comprised the major response to his expulsion. These campaigns mixed discontent from Day’s expulsion with some fans’ lingering resentment of perceived poor representation of Baen books at the Hugo Awards and a mix of self-promotion and broader culture-war sentiment. After a high point of activity in 2015 including a side-show boycott of Tor Books, the Puppy campaigns finally fizzled out in 2017.
The fears expressed in 2015 that the Puppy campaigns would lead the Hugos into a spiral of irrelevance, a battlefield of warring slates & counter-slates, or rule changes (such as shifting to a juried award) that would fundamentally change the character of the awards did not come to pass. The high profile win in 2016 of N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season helped reconfirm the status of the Hugo Awards as a leading indicator of future classics and rising stars.
Tor Books did not collapse, the publishing careers of Patrick Nielsen Hayden and (major target of the Tor Boycott) Irene Gallo continued to be successful. John Scalzi continued to write popular, best-selling science fiction.
Of the Puppies, by 2018 those whose careers had been doing well (such as Larry Correia) continued to prosper. Those whose traditional publishing careers had been in decline (such as John C. Wright and Sarah Hoyt) shifted further into independent publishing via Amazon. Reflecting recently on the events of 2015, John Scalzi noted:
“The best case scenario sees the most popular Pups more or less at the same level of sales and popularity as they were when the nonsense started; they were not hurt by it because they already had their fan bases, contracts and distribution, and their fan base was either sympathetic to their Pup positions, or didn’t know and/or care.”https://whatever.scalzi.com/2021/09/12/thoughts-on-the-debarkle/ 
The Post Apupalyptic wasteland was one of the surprisingly few material consequences.
The Hugo Awards had upgraded its voting system to a more proportional system with more nominees and in the process of reforming the constitution had added new categories including the Best Series award. Memberships and voting levels did not remain at the same heights as in 2015 but the conflict had drawn in new members and newly active people in fan spaces.
However, the conflict lingered psychologically among fans connected with the Hugo Awards — a sense of vigilance or paranoia about potential new threats.
The Benedict Option
In 2017, conservative writer Rod Dreher reacted to what he perceived as the growing acceptance of secular virtues in American society by proposing a kind of withdrawal from broader society by Christians into their own spaces. He called this approach “The Benedict Option” after the codification of medieval Catholic monastic orders by Saint Benedict.
Although most of the so-called Evil League of Evil were Christians of one kind or another, religion was rarely a centrepiece of the Puppy campaigns. They had been more motivated by worldly issues rather than spiritual ones. Nonetheless, in a kind of convergent evolution, the former Puppies adopted a kind of genre-based secular form of a Benedict Option. Where once upon time figures such as Michael Z. Williamson or Brad Torgersen might have been found commenting in mainstream fan spaces such as John Scalzi’s blog, the former Puppies retreated to their own blogs and Facebook pages.
In the social media of the former Puppies, the Hugo Awards rarely came up anymore, appearing only when the normal level of fannish disputes within Worldcon reached a sufficient level for them to notice and then only when the former Puppies could cite the latest event as evidence that the predicted collapse of the Hugo Awards had finally arrived.
Meanwhile…a Raison d’être
If fandom had survived 2015-2017 and passed through largely unscathed, the wider culture war had only grown. Nationalism was ascendant globally, racism and misogyny were finding new validation from elected politicians. Transgender people had become the new target of demonisation by the right (and beyond) after the failure of the culture warriors to stop marriage equality.
Right-wing stochastic terrorism was continuing and while the alt-right had failed to find unity in the wake of Donald Trump’s election, their willingness to find new outlets to organise and recruit had not lessened.
In May of 2015, I had begun erratically to follow and document in a scattershot way the views and statements of the Sad and Rabid Puppies. The connection to a broader cultural wave of reaction to modern society was something that I thought was obvious but not always well expressed. This wave of reaction was unorganised and often diffuse, expressed often incoherently or on apparently unrelated subjects and yet was a common thread running across phenomena as varied as Brexit and GamerGate. Indeed, this “thread” would take the form of individuals common to both, such as the YouTube GamerGate personality Sargon of Akkad later being the UKIP candidate and pro-Brexit campaigner Carl Benjamin.
If the net-material impact of the Puppy campaigns appears to have been very limited at best and counter-productive to their stated aims at worst, the question remained as to the impact on the political beliefs of its leading lights. Vox Day’s tactics and those of the alt-right, in general, had multiple aims but where they enjoyed the most success was in radicalising people who already held strong conservative views on race, immigration, nationality, militarism, gender or sexuality.
The Puppy campaigns had been many things but for the participants, they had been part of a political journey. While the Great Puppy Kefuffle of 2015 was truly over, that political journey was continuing. I decided to watch where it went.