Debarkle Chapter 33: Dramatis Personae — Brad, John and the Evil League of Evil

[content warning for language and prejudice on race, gender and sexuality]

2014 had been a tumultuous year for science fiction: ructions at the SFWA had carried over from 2013, while in the adjacent world of video games Gamergate was in full swing, and meanwhile, Larry Correia’s Sad Puppies 2 campaigns had caused controversy at the Hugo Awards.

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Debarkle Chapter 32: Justice, Dinosaurs and the Water that Falls on You from Nowhere

Larry Correia and Vox Day’s Sad Puppies 2 campaigns gained them some finalists spots but were trounced in the final voting. Correia’s writing friend and ally, Brad Torgersen blamed the results on “affirmative action”. Eight of the thirteen categories that had gone to a sole person had been won by women[1] but Torgersen had a very broad sense of what he meant by “affirmative action” (see chapter 31). The claim that deserving authors were not being sufficiently recognised by the Hugo Awards had a related claim that UNdeserving authors were being disproportionately recognised by the Hugo Awards because of “politics”.

The 2014 Hugo Award winners would provide the supporters of the Sad Puppy campaigns with some examples.

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Debarkle Chapter 31: The Hugos Go to London

[Content warning for discussion of sexual assault, misogyny and transphobic language]

2014 was a busy year in the history of the Debarkle, with Larry Correia’s Sad Puppy 2 campaign, Vox Day’s involvement in Gamergate and the rest of fandom having its own controversies. Day had already started the year with a different problem: the Christian publisher who was selling his epic fantasy Throne of Bones had been sold and the new owners were not interested in Day’s book which didn’t fit the mould of the Christian Booksellers Association[1]. Day explained:

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Debarkle Chapter 29: Dramatis Personae — Mike Glyer & File 770

Our story begins before our protagonists do. In 1951, two years before Worldcon would host the first Hugo Awards, a party in a hotel room during the ninth Worldcon was sufficiently rowdy to attract the attention of the hotel detective. The party decamped to room 770 and carried on and on to apparently mythic levels fueled by gin and creme-de-menthe[1]. Aside from an unstoppable party, this New Orleans based con, also managed to snag the world premiers of The Day the Earth Stood Still and When World’s Collide[2] which overall sounds like an interesting Worldcon to visit with a time machine. The numbers ‘770’ took on an added meaning in fannish circles to indicate fan fun.

In the 1970s a young Los Angeles based fan, Mike Glyer, began writing for and editing multiple fanzines. His own fanzines either focused on the news (e.g. Organlegger, Sylmarrilion)[3] or on longer articles including reviews and opinion pieces (e.g. Prehensile)[4]. Produced variously from mimeographed copies to offset-printed, the fanzines mixed text and cartoons with fannish humour, reviews, gossip and the inner workings of fandom.

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Debarkle Chapter 28: Gamergate 2014 meets Vox Day

[content warning for descriptions of internet harassment and extreme misogyny]

A fun fact that I learnt today from Wikipedia is that the word “gamergate” means a worker ant that can reproduce sexually and the term is pronounced something like “gamma-gate”[1]. That will be about the only wholesome fact in this chapter. For the rest of it, the chapter covers what Wikipedia entitles the “Gamergate Controversy”. What this chapter is not going to be able to do is give a full and authoritative account of the controversy. Instead, I want to look at some of the precursors to Gamergate that influenced later events in the Debarkle story and where Gamergate intersected with some of the key players in the Sad Puppy Hugo Award controversy.

The major events in Gamergate ran from August 2014 and into 2015 and beyond. However, for this chapter I will only be looking at 2014. It is also a distorted view of the controversy. Vox Day presents himself as a significant figure in Gamergate but third party accounts do not. Nevertheless, for the purposes of the Debarkle narrative, the influence of Gamergate on Day and the political and personal coalition that arose from that are important. I’m getting ahead of myself though.

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Debarkle Chapter 27: Vox Day, Racism, Sexism and Opera Vita Aeterna

[content warning for extreme views on race, gender and sexual violence]

Larry Correia’s second Sad Puppies slate was not very different from the first. There were a lot of Mormon men (because of his writer connections in Utah) and seven of the twelve people listed were people Correia had recommended in previous years. Marko Kloos was new but Correia knew him from gun forum days and had been promoting his book. Sarah Hoyt was also new but she was a fellow Baen author and they had a lot in common politically (and coincidentally, both had family connections to Portugal).

Vox Day was different though. Nominally, he had called himself a libertarian in the past but his views on women and race were more extreme than Correia’s. I don’t know if there was any communication between them other than the comments left by ‘VD’ at Correia’s blog but the additional works that Vox Day listed on his own blog, look more like works that Correia would have listed if he had the time.

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Debarkle Chapter 26: Sad Puppies (Season Two) crosses the streams

January 2014, somewhere in Utah…

Larry Correia had learned a lot from his three previous Hugo campaigns[1] and Sad Puppies 2 had a lot more structure than his earlier attempts. Correia’s initial posts were lighthearted attempts to get readers of his blog to sign up for the 2014 Worldcon as associate members. The location would be London, so unlike Nevada (2012) and Texas (2013), it was less likely that many of his fans could easily attend. Correia did have fans in Europe, but Baen Books were not well distributed outside of North America and were not well known as an SFF publisher.

The second post contained a funny cartoon complete with a jovial Larry Correia and a moose and some practical information about the advantages of a Worldcon membership even if you couldn’t actually attend the convention.

“But wait. There’s more! Normally all of the voters are sent a packet of all the nominated works to read, so you get more than your membership costs worth of eBooks. Sure, most of them are screeds about corporate greed, global warming, dying polar bears, or whatever the left wing cause of the day is, but that’s why we need to nominate some works that are actually entertaining.”

Correia couldn’t know it at the time but the Hugo Packet for 2014 would turn out to be a marvellous deal (at least for fans of the Wheel of Time saga[2]).

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Debarkle Chapter 25: The SFWA Civil War Part 3

Previously on Debarkle: Towards the end of John Scalzi’s terms as SFWA President, a series of controversies arose over sexism and racism within the organisation. A common theme was resistance to change from a group of SFWA ‘old guard’.

[content warning: a later section discusses issues around child abuse]

By August 2013, the expulsion of Vox Day from the SFWA was seen by some as putting a line under the controversies that had been consuming the SFWA that year. Cora Buhlert rounded up events with a blog post that finished with:

“But at least the SFWA saga had come, if not to a “happily ever after” then at least a “happy for now” ending.”

However, in many ways, Vox Day’s behaviour had been a loud but minor sideshow to events. The core group of objectors to the SFWA’s more progressive direction still had the same objections and issues. What was lacking was a nexus on which another round of arguments could be had.

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Debarkle Chapter 24: Dramatis Personae — Sarah Hoyt & The Mad Genius Club

I’m pausing in the midst of a raging culture war within the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America to look at a different group of people. As a group, they are very relevant to events in 2015 and beyond. For the SFWA Civil War, aside from calling it a ‘Civil War’ they had little impact but the conflict marks a point where a set of writers associated with the blog titled ‘The Mad Genius Club’ begin to assert a view point on the arguments running through US (mainly) fandom.

As with other Dramatis Personae chapters I will rely on Wikipedia for biographical details as well as author websites and bios.

The Mad Genius Club was a collective writer’s blog that was established in October 2008[1] as a place for a group of writers to share experiences and offer tips and advice to people. The initial roster of authors was Australian writer Rowena Cory Daniells, Portuguese/American writer Sarah A Hoyt, South African writer Dave Freer, American writers Laura Resnick & Louise Marley and British writer John Lambshead[2]. That roster would change gradually over the years and by 2011 several people had left and new writers Kate Paulk (an Australian living in the US) and Amanda S Green had joined[3]. 2011 also marked a shift for the blog to a new WordPress format and a new URL.

The list of people involved with Mad Genius Club continued to evolve and it is important to note it was always a site where individual bloggers expressed their own views rather than some consistent blog-wide position. Not every author associated with the blog would have endorsed the views expressed by fellow bloggers.

For the major events of the Puppy Debarkle the writers associated with Mad Genius Club (MGC from here on) relevant to events were

  • Sarah Hoyt
  • Dave Freer
  • Kate Paulk
  • Amanda Green
  • Peter Grant

Of those, the most significant were Sarah Hoyt and Dave Freer.

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