Category: Puppies

What if they had a culture war and nobody turned up?

File770 has a round-up of the Dragon Award antics from the Puppy and Scrappy quarters today:

The short version. Two authors have asked to withdraw:

  • Alison Littlewood – who was an unwilling nominee on the Rabid Puppy slate and doesn’t want her book or her name associated with it.
  • John Scalzi – who took one look at Brian Niemeier’s vote-against-SJWScalzi-by-voting-for-me tactic and gave a big ‘nope’ and walked away.

Alison Littlewood has published the response she received from Pat Henry –  the president of Dragon Con. There are three things of note.

Firstly, they aren’t going to withdraw either author from the ballot – this isn’t a surprise because logistically they really have no easy way of doing so. They have already sent out Survey Monkey ballots (prior to publically stating the nominees) and so to withdraw authors they would have to restart the process. Given the assumption that the whole award is being run by a couple of people with little support (hence the odd behaviour around the website) they probably don’t have the time or resources to do so. Note Dragon Con itself has the money and resources to do so – they just aren’t going to spend it on the Dragon Awards.

The second thing of note is this bizarre statement of false equivalence: “We are aware of the rabid puppies and justice warriors efforts to effect the voting and we go through a number of steps to avoid ballot stuffing or other vote rigging behaviors. ”  As others have pointed out not only is there no evidence of “justice warriors” trying to effect the vote with ‘ballot stuffing’ or ‘vote rigging’ there is ZERO evidence of any left-wing campaign to get any votes in the Dragon Awards. The SF-left, such that it is, has been dismissive of the awards. Meanwhile, the Rabid Puppy slate was there for all to see – just some basic commitment to facts would be nice.

The third thing has been less commented on: “The original purpose of the Dragon Awards was not so much as awards but as a quality reading list.” This original purpose has not been well stated before but there are aspects of the awards that point to it. For example, in the “Process” tab of the site, we have this:

“During the award nomination period, we will regularly send lists and information about your most popular choices.”

Of course, nothing remotely like this has happened. Also, the 2016 nominee list has been disappeared from the Dragon Award website entirely.

Update: The Verge has some good coverage and more Dragon Con response

Pod the Third of The Book Club Roundtable Discussion Club Non-Audio Podcast Club

Der Untergang der Titanic

Live Podcast Coverage

camavatar[Camestros] Welcome back, loyal viewers!

timavatar[Timothy] (listeners)

strawpupavatar[Straw Puppy] (woof)

camavatar[Camestros] This is the exciting third episode of the Book Club Roundtable Review Club Non-Audio Podcast Club. A bit of a change in the roster this week. Susan can’t make it and Timothy’s long term collaborator and all-round trickster Straw Puppy is here to take her place. Welcome on board Straw Puppy.

strawpupavatar[Straw Puppy] woof

timavatar[Timothy] Ha, ha, great joke there Pups.

camavatar[Camestros] Sooooo, we still seem to be stuck reading Run Star: Realms Rescue…

timavatar[Timothy] Correction, Dragon Award Nominated Star Realms: Rescue Run.

Continue reading

Some More Sad Popcorn

Dragon Award winner and guy worried about demons, Brian Niemeier also has things to say about Sad Puppies V. It starts diplomatically enough:

“When Sad Puppies V leader Sarah Hoyt explained why SP didn’t release a list of recommendations in time for this year’s awards season, several folks in the Puppy scene voiced dissatisfaction with her rationale.

Me? I read both sides’ arguments, tried to see the issue from the major players’ perspectives, and was satisfied that I’d gotten a decent handle on the group dynamics at work. Even if I disagreed with a particular call, it was easy to understand where the party who made it was coming from.”

However, astute readers will have noted that in Hoyt’s earlier piece she made some comments about the Dragon Awards – essentially saying that they are an award for big writers and that some maybe less deserving people won in 2016 because the award was just starting. Of course Brian Niemmeier fits that discription (or at least a lot more so than Larry Correia whose success is undeniable). So Brian N has somethings to say about that:

“Full disclosure: I firmly believe that for any author, comparing yourself to another author is a sure path to insanity. I’m a live and let live kind of guy. You can take shots at me all day, and I’ll take it in stride.

But if this blog has established nothing else, it’s that no one gets to mess with my readers.

Remember: Sarah tried to DISQUALIFY! my readers who made Souldancer the first ever Dragon Award winner for Best Horror Novel. She implied that their choice was just a fluke–an early bug in the system that will surely be worked out in time.

Sarah thinks that you, dear reader, made a mistake. You gave a Dragon Award to an unworthy “small name” author. And don’t forget, she based her assessment on Amazon sales rankings.”

Of course Sarah Hoyt has thought this through a bit further than Brian. Mind you Brian isn’t neccesarily attached to the multiple layers of claims and ad-hoc rationales of the Sad Puppy movement.

Back with the Sad Pups, we had claims from wayyyy back that award votes were just subjective opinion (i.e. there is no broad sense of quality beyond an individual except maybe sales).

More recently, and from many quarters of puppydom, claims that the numbers who voted in the Dragon Awards must be huge because Dragon*Con is huge. Yes, that argument is innumerate as eligibility to vote in the Dragons isn’t connected to Dragon membership (in theory the number of voters could be much bigger than Dragon*Con membership) nor was the award well publicised to Dragon*Con attendees last time (i.e. theire is no reason to think many of them voted). However, *IF* the Dragons are meant to be a huge award with many people voting then regardless of how wonderful Brian’s readers are, or even how good his book might be, Hoyt’s right that it winning the award is a fluke. The answer is obviously that not many people voted in the awards which is why a relatively obscure (sorry Brian) science fiction story could win “Best Horror Novel”.

Hoyt’s comment is aspirational for the Dragon Awards: i.e. the hope and expectation (possibly misguided) that they will become big. Unfortunately wins like Brian Neimmeier’sare good for him but not particulalry good for the awards.

Some other anti-Hoyt comment are here:


and this one that Doris spotted earlier

Why yes, now that you mention it, all these anti-Hoyt pieces are coming from people of the mannish less-than-50% of humanity.

Ok I take that comment back: although this is less directed at Hoyt personally.


Rise of the Scrappy Doos


*I prefer to name groups by how they name themselves but the latest version of Puppyness arising out of the fading away of the Sad Puppy brand doesn’t have a name of their own. Based on my earlier post on recent events, I think “The Scrappy Doos” is a decent moniker to cover a more disperate phenomanon.

scrappydooFirstly it carries on the puppy theme, secondly it encapsulates the relative threat level compared to other incarnations and thirdly it is a handy metaphor for the disconnect between how cool Scrappy thinks he is compared to how annoying he actually is.

Anyway, some people like Scrappy, so I hope it isn’t too demeaning a name and currently I don’t have a better label.

Compared with the Sads and Rabids, the Scrappy Doos are not a coordinated group, they may or may not have been involved with either Sad or Rabids campaigns in the past but if they were they would have been on the periphery. They tend not to make strong distinctions between the Sad and Rabid campaigns and can be seen as ‘monopuppists’ (i.e. the idea that really the two campaigns were one campaign in different forms). They tend to be more overt in their self-promotion. Just as the Sad Puppies were incorrectly described as being a group of Mormon men, the Scrappy Doos may be incorrectly decsribed as Catholic men.

In terms of existing movements they are closest to the Superversive movement and the Pulp Revolutions movement. Those two movements* can be seen as offshoots of the Rabid Puppies but this can be misleading. The Rabids had a core of straight Alt-Right griefers willing to do exactly what Vox Day told them to do for the lulz. Superversive began independently of the Rabids but has attached itself to Castalia for promotion and is focused on literary works (although of a right leaning nature). Pulp Revolution arose from the Castalia House blog and hence is more closely connected to Rabid Puppies but again is not the same as the griefing group.

[eta – paragraph went astray] Whereas the Rabids collectively were not particularly interested in the field of SFF, the Scrappy-Doos have more in common with the Sad Puppies in so far as they tend to be actively involved in writing, publishing and books. In this sense they are more like other groupings in fandom. However, where significant voices in Sad Puppies (Correia, Torgersen, Hoyt, Freer) had had some success in trad-publishing (mainly centred around Baen Books), the Scrappy Doos are involved with small publishing groups or self-published.

Time for an info-graphic.


Names at the top indicate people who helped establish entities below. Dotted lines imply some degree of association. Arrowed lines imply on-going activity. Pink boxes are websites around which quasi-groups have formed organically to some degree. [eta: graphic tweaked a bit]

*[I’m using the word ‘movement’ generously here – we aren’t talking about huge numbers of people. ‘Tens’ rather than ‘hundreds’ I think]


Sad Popcorn

I’m stuck for a word and being stuck made me wonder whether the proper hierarchy is:

spat < flame-war <  brouhaha < kerfuffle?

“Spat” seems the right term for what I want but ‘fallout’ also works, so I’ll name this the ‘End of Sad Puppies Fallout Spat’. In which nothing very much happens but which I’ll carry on watching just because I stuck with the show for so long.

Prompted, perhaps, by Larry Correia’s anti-Mike Glyer meltdown, Sarah Hoyt posted her intentions around Sad Puppies 5 at Mad Genius Club. The fifth iteration of the Sad Puppies was intended to be a book recommendation site. This would amount to a kind of soft-landing for the brand, allowing Hoyt et al to retain control, stop others hijacking the term, and do something worthwhile. I honestly do think this is a good idea for everybody – some other group hijacking the name ‘Sad Puppies’ could prolong the griefing and angst.

However, one of her remarks caused some offence:

“Tips hat to the right. Thank you kindly. But you guys are aware your aesthetics and goals aren’t ours, right?

You just turned Marxist aesthetics on their head, and are judging books by being anti-Marxist and how much they don’t support the neo Marxist idea of justice. That’s cool and all. To each his own. And since, so far, your crazy isn’t being taught in schools, it’s slightly less annoying than the Marxist crazy.”

Hoyt wasn’t exactly clear who she was addressing beyond “the right”. I took it to mean specifically supporters of Vox Day, but that very vagueness caused some issues. While Vox’s comment section are plainly just out to troll ‘the SJWs’, attached to the Rabids are two other offshoots of the Puppy campaign:

  1. Superversive: primarily around this review website: but also associated with non-Rabid writer L. Jagi Lamplighter (who is also John C Wright’s wife) and SciPhi Journal editor Jason Rennie. Among this cloud is Brian Neimmier, Jon Del Arroz and Declan Finn. Superversive writers also blog at Vox Day’s publishing house’s blog Castalia House.
  2. Pulp Revival: this is centred around Jeffro Johnson, who is the main editor of the Castalia House blog and it is aimed at reviving interest in pre-WW2 pulp science fiction writers and those associated with that genre (including post-WW2 works like Philip Jose Farmer’s re-invention of Tarzan).

The overlap between the two groups is substantial, with several names writing for both Superversive and the Castalia House blog. Superversive is also acting as a publisher having published an anthology of stories entitled “Forbidden Thoughts” which included an introduction by Milo Yianopoulos  and which also included a story from Sarah Hoyt.

The link between Vox Day’s reactionary politics and the two movements above is not as overt as Vox Day himself. It isn’t mysterious though – obviously the pre-war pulps including many attitudes and beliefs that the Alt-Right would like to re-normalise, while Superversive is just a more general push-back against modern science-fiction.

So, Hoyt’s comment was seen as a criticism of the Rabids, Pulp Revival and Superversive and caused some negative comments. [eta: in particular from here ]*

Hoyt has now written a longer reply at her own blog: Be warned, it doesn’t always make sense and there are a lot of cases of the kind of revisionism of events around Sad Puppies 1,2,3, & 4 that have become depressingly familiar. However, the meat of the piece is counter-criticism to the quasi-Rabid reaction.

“So, imagine my surprise when my post immediately attracted two commenters yelling at me for… well… actually I have no idea because most of it makes no sense. You guys can see the comments yourselves. There’s something about me looking down on people who don’t use the right oyster fork. You guys know my background and my question on this is… there’s a FORK? FOR OYSTERS? Why?”

Anyway, that’s about it. Various grumpy things going on.

*[as spotted by Doris Sutherland]

[eta Doris also points out these posts from Russell Newquist – who publishes some of Declan Finn’s books. The posts relate in part to an earlier post by Hoyt attacking Declan Finn for posting his own suggested Sad Puppy list: ]


Genesis of the Puppies

Just when I think I’ve definitely not got any more links to add to the Puppy Kefuffle Timeline, I find a blog post I had never read before that falls right at the start of the first Sad Puppy campaign. I was looking because of a comment elsewhere made me want to see what Puppy-aligned people had been saying about the Hugo Awards *prior* to Sad Puppies 3. People who have followed the kerfuffle are nodoubt familiar with the position Puppies hold now but what were they saying prior, before all the shouting started?

The answer, on the whole, is not a lot or at least not where it is visible.

However, this post by Sarah Hoyt at her blog stands out:

Before people think Human Wave is cool and try to imitate it, we must make them know it exists. Besides, a lot of them walked away from the fifth “and then everyone died” supposed space-opera and aren’t reading anymore. We need to let them know we’re here.

Only right now, no one does. We’re out in the hall and making bad jokes, but they can just ignore us. We must get in, so we can throw rubbery rolls at the self-adoring speakers.

Yesterday I had a brain storm and I thought: Awards. (I also made a typo, the rest of you — infants — have been having WAY too much fun with.)

Before you pelt me with rubber rolls – even two years ago, I’d have been the first to say “oh, not awards, they’re SOOOOOOO stuffy.”

But the thing is in indie publishing, and in all publishing as it moves to Amazon and other electronic venues, being able to put on the cover a little seal that says “winner of the blah blah award” (we’re not calling it a blah blah award. No, you can’t talk me into it.) does give you a huge leg up. Most of the readers who are rediscovering SF (or anything else) because they can finally find stuff they want to read, see the Hugo and it doesn’t say to them “Award given by small group of people who attend Worldcon.” They see “Award” which means someone other than the author’s cat read this masterpiece and approved of – or at least finished—it. That means they’re twice as likely to buy it.


It is like looking at the branching point of an alternate timeline – a nicer one really. I don’t want people to see this as me mocking Hoyt for not getting her award started – it isn’t a trivial task and Hoyt herself pointed out the complexities. What is relevant here is that ‘movements’ of people often require something that helps coordinate them motivationally and not just organisationally i.e. a reason to make an effort to do something. In this case Hoyt’s ‘Human Wave’ movements was in a chicken-egg/catch-22: an award was an idea to get that kind of motivational coordination BUT to get an award off the ground you already need that kind of motivational coordination.

What is noticeable is that the difference between current Puppy rhetoric about awards (that they don’t matter and everybody ignores them and please vote in the Dragon Awards) and Sarah Hoyt’s viewpoint at the time.

In our timeline, Larry Correia had already begun his attempt to get himself nominated for a Hugo (in what would become retrospectively called Sad Puppies 1). Larry offered a simpler task (freep an existing award) to his larger fanbase.