You Haven’t Written About Sad Puppies For A Long Time

True, true. So a summary of various goings on or not going on as the case may be.

Mad Genius covered a few cause célèbres a few days ago including the fuss around Amélie Wen Zhao’s book Blood Heir, and the Mystery Writers of America pulling an award for Linda Fairstein because of her involvement in the prosecution of the Central Park Five. Amid this there was a section on the Nebula Award fuss around 20booksto50K’s reading list:

If you aren’t up-to-date on what this refers to, a so-called slate was put together by a member of a FB group of indie and small press authors. It was, in fact, meant to be a reading list, not a slate for voting. The person responsible has since apologized. But, oh no, the “damage” had been done and it was done by those evil Indies. How dare they try to manipulate the Nebs?
Sound familiar? Remind you of some of the arguments against the SPs?
Note also, how there is no condemnation for the person or persons who took information from a private social media group and made it public. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean folks aren’t out to get you.

https://madgeniusclub.com/2019/04/30/tuesday-morning-roundup/

It’s the standard and factually incorrect “trad v indie” version of events that ignores that the nominees included people with both trad and indie publications, some of whom were very much SFWA ‘insiders’ and that they were nominated in categories against other works that were independently published or that the most vehement criticism came from indie published authors.

Meanwhile at Mad Genius Club, Dave Freer is taking a break from his regular posts: https://madgeniusclub.com/2019/05/06/a-leave-of-absence/

Speaking of Dave Freer, Louis Antonelli has started his own short fiction magazine. Currently it is a generic Blogger page but from small things big things can grow: https://siriussciencefiction.blogspot.com/ I’d say ‘good luck’ to it and leave it at that but it comes with this rant which includes some weird personal attacks http://louantonelli.blogspot.com/2019/04/the-death-of-live-and-let-live.html The greatest ire from the Sad Puppies has always been towards people who attempted to bridge divides.

“The Soviet Union subverted and infiltrated college campuses during the Vietnam War era in an attempt to topple the U.S. without a fight. It didn’t work, but it did result in the unusual societal outcome that the most spoiled and privileged segments of society are also the most leftist. Today’s liberal leaders combine the snobbery of the Met Club with the ideology of the Khmer Rouge.”

Okedokee. Couldn’t get any more paranoidly conspiratorial than that? Why yes! Yes, it can!

“Once the sci-fi establishment stuffed the ballot box by buying thousands of WorldCon memberships to euthanize the Sad Puppies in the 2015 Hugo vote, it assured the irrelevance of the award. The old institutions remain, but they are like dusty trophies on the mantle of a cob-webbed private club. New ones are rising up because that 98 percent of sci fi authors need some place to call home. The Dragon Awards have already clobbered both the Hugos and Nebulas in both quality and prestige.”

Glad to see Lou is sticking to his usual journalistic standards of evidence based claims.

Speaking of grandiose plans to create alternative venues free from SJW influence, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Creators Guild remains unchanged from February 2018 https://sffcguild.com/blog/

And speaking of the SFFC Guild, Richard Paolinelli and Declan Finn have fallen out with Jon Del Arroz. Timothy’s erstwhile client posted an unfunny meme about the Twin Towers and Infinity War (a skyline pic of the towers sort of evaporating Thanos-snap style, with George W Bush’s face superimposed poorly onto Thanos’s head). Insensitive and offensive? Certainly. The most offensive thing JDA has ever posted? Hardly. Even so, this was a line crossed for some. JDA characterises it thusly:

“On the personal front, I’ve been under heavy attack from — not the left — but centrist right wing authors over the last week. They’ve pushed hard against me, both in public and in private. I’ve shared some of the ridiculous things said about me.”

http://delarroz.com/2019/05/03/theres-a-war-on-for-your-mind-fighting-the-real-battles/

The list of people Jon has now permanently alienated in the course of his short career grows ever longer.

Speaking of meme sharing harassers, I hadn’t visited Vox Day’s site for a long time but these days his main concern is Royal Babies. Apparently (according to Vox) Prince Harry and Meghan Markle haven’t really had a baby, which is his follow up conspiracy theory to Meghan Markle not really being pregnant. http://voxday.blogspot.com/2019/05/fake-baby-finally-arrives.html Now, sure, I get that racism is a powerful drug that sends its victims into a world of self-parody but didn’t Vox at least once try to project a veneer of being a serious commentator on world affairs?

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Did fandom cause the collapse of civilisation or vice versa? Let’s Assume Neither :)

It’s been a long time since I linked to a post by the improbable 2016 Campbell Award Finalist and Inaugural Dragon Award Winner for Best Horror Novel That Was Actually A Space Opera, Brian Niemeier but a posy at his blog caught my eye [direct link, archive link].

Brian’s politics mixes standard alt-right nationalism and misogyny with a particularly reactionary form of Catholicism. People may recall Brian’s concern that literal demons are controlling the left (https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2017/03/05/demons-and-witches-and-the-left/ ), so not exactly a Pope Francis or Vatican II fan.

Anyway, Brian has a hypothesis about religion and fandom:

“Kicking Christianity out of public life didn’t usher in a bright, sexy chrome utopia. Instead of directing their pious energies into scientific pursuits, America did what everyone does absent Christianity: They turned pagan.”

‘X-thing is a religion’ is a bit of a cliche but I don’t think that analysis is wholly wrong. Rather, I don’t think religion is really a single social phenomenon at all but a whole bunch of things — which is why cultures don’t follow one of Christianity/Islam/Judaism have quite different boundaries as to what is and isn’t religious and how religion plays a role in wider society*. So, sure, I can believe there’s some commonality between fandoms and religion.

Indeed, I’d go further and say that I think how we engage with fiction and products of the imagination has a close connection with spirituality and how religion has become a part of human culture. Brian is making a different argument though:

“Human beings are wired for worship. If social pressure discourages worshiping God, those with less fortitude will worship trees, rocks, or even plastic figurines.


Religious identity was the engine that built the West, and it’s still a major motivating force elsewhere in the world. What has happened in the American Empire is that Christian identity has shattered, and the pieces have been scattered throughout various hobbies.


Which was precisely what the main players in the Enlightenment wanted–to reduce religion to a hobby indulged in the home with no effect on public life.”

Fandom therefore being the eventual warped expression of people’s instinct towards religion suppressed by the machinations of Enlightenment philosophers. I think we can safely assume that this is not the case. However, the next paragraph is what really caught my eye:

“To see how people’s identities have gotten mixed up in their hobbies, take a quick glance at the ‘gate controversies popping up among various fandoms on a more or less daily basis. #GamerGate was the big one, but it failed due to infiltration by controlled opposition and exploitation by online grifters. It’s telling that every subsequent fandom revolt has enjoyed a brief honeymoon period before skipping straight to the “milked by grifters” stage. “If a man loses faith in God, he doesn’t believe nothing, he’ll believe anything,” is illustrative here.”

It can be hard to tell with the alt-right what is a bad-faith nonsense and what is sincere nonsense. Occasional you get paragraphs like this that are so lacking in self-awareness that they can only be a sincere expression of some very confused beliefs.

As a reminder: Brian was not a major figure in the high points of the Sad Puppy campaigns (a relevant example of one of the right wing uprisings in fandom) but leveraged those campaigns to get his books promoted by the Rabid Puppy slates into a Campbell nomination and a Dragon Award. Brian was also the charmer who tried to stir up a second Dragon Award nomination into another culture war battlefront in a bid to get more votes for his book. (https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2017/08/08/niemeier-wants-the-dragon-awards-to-be-a-culture-war-but-the-culture-doesnt-want-to-play/ ) There may be better example of the ‘milked by grifters’ stage of the Sad Puppy Campaigns but only because it was never not a grift but Brian is a good example of late stage band wagon jumping.

“Few now can imagine–by design–a time when popular culture wasn’t partitioned into myriad fractured fandoms. Sure, people had different tastes, but there were cultural touchstones everybody shared, and more of them. Everybody tuned in to The Shadow. Everybody read Edgar Rice Burroughs. Everybody saw Gone with the Wind. But a people with a shared culture and a strong identity is hard to conquer, so universal popular culture had to go. Fandom was the murder weapon used to kill Western culture.”

Again a reminder: Brian writes anime-inspired right wing science fiction about people fighting in space-robot suits. He’s not exactly aiming for the mainstream. It’s that lack of awareness of his own micro-niche writing that makes me think he genuinely believes that’s what happened — that rather than technology and population growth making it economically easier for people to find stories that appealed to more finely delineated niches, that this was an actual plot to divide society.

Does he really think he would be happier if the only books or films available where the most mainstream ones? Also, if he believed that then shouldn’t he be doing his utmost to just consume the most modally consumed media? But it is like the person who wants religion to be mandatory who doesn’t get that it wouldn’t necessarily be their religion that would be enforced

He finishes his essay thus:

“Fortunately, there are creators laboring to forge new culture in the tradition of our ancestors. For a refreshing take on the mecha genre that clears away all the stale cliche cobwebs, check out my new martial thriller Combat Frame XSeed.”

Irony is dead, a knock-off Kindle Unlimited far right combat mecha killed it.

*[Not that Christianity, Islam or Judaism follow the same template either, but the similarities are what tend to shape what Western culture regards as the things a religion has: a god, a priest, a temple, a holy book, quasi-laws, exclusivity]

Captain Marvel versus the Trolls

Multiple news sources are covering that the new (and as yet unseen) Captain Marvel movie is being review-bombed by right wing trolls. The amount of coverage of this has itself increased just in the past few hours but this link seems to be one of the first articles on it: https://comicbook.com/marvel/2019/02/19/captain-marvel-rotten-tomatoes-fake-reviews-sabotage/

I’d actually thought about writing about how the alt-right campaign against the film had started to warm up the other day after seeing our old-pal Vox Day jump on the bandwagon (archive link)…but didn’t because I’m lazy and/or got distracted. What I can offer instead of an amazingly insightful prediction that obnoxious misogynists are about to be misogynistic obnoxiously is some graphs!

I grabbed the review data from Rotten Tomatoes so that I can show graphically the influx of reviews. Unfortunately, I would have liked to show another film for comparison but it’s hard to get a like for like. The nearest equivalent with a similar release date and no pre-screening reviews yet is Disney’s live action version of Dumbo. That has only one page of user reviews/comments so far, as opposed to Captain Marvel’s six pages but I don’t think it is a like-for-like in terms of organic interest.

Here’s the first graph for Captain Marvel. It’s a running total of comments over time. It’s a longgggg time axis because the first comment is from 2015! Rotten Tomatoes (and similar sites) create entries for movies that have been announced even before production begins.

Interest (mainly positive but some negative) starts picking up from last July and subsequent trailers lead to more comments (again some positive and some negative). Some of the coverage of this troll attack is focused on the absurdity of people rating films that haven’t been seen yet but at this point, it is technically Rotten Tomatoes allowing people to say whether they are “Not interested” or “Want to see it”. Some of the comments are literally spam and some of the earlier comments are anti-Disney etc.

The next graph zooms in to the last few months:

There’s a spike of comments in February. Obviously some of that is an inevitable increase as the release date gets closer but the more overt hate comments really ramp up. The worst include comments about the lead actress (Brie Larson) being hit by a bus. The length of the comments also increase in the form of what are best called rants:

“Why Marvel decided to cast a very vocal racist and sexist aimed at white males, I’ll never know. If Robert Downey Jr. started saying that he didn’t care about the opinions of 40 year old white chicks and he doesn’t want to be interviewed by a white woman as its not inclusive enough, people would lose their minds. His career would be over, branded a racist and sexist, attacked in the media and his legacy tarnished. As a white male, I will not be supporting this or any other movie that stars Brie Larson. They say that Captain Marvel will be the new face of the MCU? As the villain because she certainly isn’t a her-o. “

How many is it though? Well, one comment anticipating somebody dying in a bus accident is one too many but for a sense of scale it’s about 14 comments over the past 10 days that are of the ‘arrghh SJWs! Feminazi!’ style crap. It’s not a huge number and the spike shown above is inflated by other people querying why there are so many anti comments for a film nobody has seen yet.

It’s a reasonable assumption that this is just the start though.

Gab is the walking dead now

Speaking of far-right social media alternatives, Gab the ‘free-speech’ alt-twitter that became so toxic even toxic-trolls stopped using it, is somehow still in existence. However, Gab’s own web host is questioning the number of users it has. A Southern Poverty Law Center report on Friday reveals a huge discrepancy between the number of users Gab claims to have and the number it probably has:

‘In a series of interviews, emails and text messages, Lilac Kapul said Gab’s claims in U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings on Dec. 19 and Jan. 28 of more than 835,000 users greatly exceeds the internet infrastructure capacity that London-based Sibyl is providing to Gab. Kapul, a resident of Brisbane, Australia, also said Gab’s user data indicates that most of the active users on the site signed up soon after it was launched in August 2016, raising questions about Gab’s claims of rapid growth. “Based on what they are getting through us services-wise there is no way they have 800,000 users, or it would be very odd if they did,” Kapul told Hatewatch. “I would say they probably have a few thousand or a few tens of thousands. That sounds a lot more believable.”

https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2019/02/14/no-way-gab-has-800000-users-web-host-says

Perhaps the more interesting story in the SPLC piece is not Gab but the shadowy web-hosting service they use called “Sibyl”. Based in London but run apparently by people in their late-teens scattered in different countries, the company also is a web host for a “incel” forum and has even dodgier connections than that.

A short update on the failed alt-right social media thing

I did you all a favour and listened to a video by Vox Day about why he pulled the plug on his social media thing. It wasn’t the GDPR issue, which I’d assumed became too complex to allow the thing to function but rather another dispute with a different organisation. The platform was set up using a service from a group called Fediway — a sort of evangelical Christian version of the social-media service Mastodon i.e. a platform that’s intended to work as a network of connected hubs. I’d say more about Fediway but literally their “About Us” text is Lorem Ipsum stuff. They also run their own distinct Twitter-clone called “OneWay” that has its own cryptocurrency in an attempt to combine nuttery.

According to VD (i.e. take this with a pinch of salt) Fediway had offered their service and servers for free but then later asked for money. Also they had issues with how VD was promoting the service. I’ve no particular reason to doubt this story other than the source’s (Vox Day) habit of misrepresentation.

A new record in grandiose alt-right plans collapsing

Vox Day’s alternative to Twitter has died unmourned having not even lasted long enough for me to write a post about it or give it a silly name. http://voxday.blogspot.com/2019/02/another-curve-ball.html

“I’m sorry to have to inform everyone that SocialGalactic 1.0 has gone down for the count. By which I mean that we are permanently pulling the plug on this particular form of it.”

A swift merciful death when compared to Voxopedia which continues to corner the market in trasnphobia, conspiracy theories and surprisingly comprehensive Englbert Humpedinck discography.

Looks like we’ve got incoming from Vox Day

So I looked at Vox Day’s public LinkedIn page yesterday and today Vox has a post complaining that I did (archive link). Which is weird. More weird is most of the post is devoted to Greg Hullender’s informative comment about Amazon’s approach to removing books from sale – with a link to Greg’s LinkedIn page! Apparently, Vox took that as a threat or an instruction guide or something — ignoring that he claims SJWs are already delisting his books so presumably would know how to do it already.

Anyway, just so you know: DO NOT GAZE UPON THE LINKEDIN OF VOX for it is not for mere mortal souls.