The political extremities are always strange places to visit. The far-right of Catholicism (or perhaps better described as the Catholic part of the far-right) in particular has some strange features. Recruiting as it does from the same mélange of social panics and prejudices, the outcomes it preaches fall in the same spectrum as the rest of the far-right: anti-immigrant rhetoric, nationalism, rhetoric against transgender people, rhetoric against LGBTQI people in general and the same confused appeals for free speech for those who wish to restrict free speech.
On top of that toxic soup is a layer of Platonic philosophy: abstractions are things and are real things in a way that actual real things aren’t. Here’s Dragon ‘Award winning author and freelance editor’ Brian Niemeier on the nature of God:
“When Christians–and some theist philosophers like Aristotle–say God, we don’t mean an old man on a mountaintop composing a global naughty/nice list when he’s not conjuring boulders he can’t lift. Such a being would fall into the category of a creature, albeit a powerful creature, existing within the material, temporal order.
What we mean by God is the uncreated, all-powerful, and absolute Being who transcends the created order.” http://www.brianniemeier.com/2018/08/finding-god.html
From there he segues into some classic arguments for the existence of god that follow the basic structure of abstract thing can be observed in reality, therefore, the abstract thing must exist as a thing in itself, therefore, some ultimate abstraction of the thing must be a god.
As regular readers will know, I think such arguments are flawed but it is worth acknowledging they are powerful arguments in their own way despite their head-scratching elements. What interests me most about them, is that by their nature they define and limit what kind of thing ‘god’ must be. In Brian Niemeier’s argument, his god is the essence of pure being – it is the thing that is what it is ultimately to ‘be’. Fair enough, imagine such a thing exists — I can take that as a credible belief. Where that becomes laughably absurd is when somebody asserts such a belief AND asserts that the core principle of being that transcends the universe spends its days worrying about whether people are wearing the wrong clothes, kissing the wrong people or not bing prayed at in Latin (obviously far-right Catholicism really needs mass to be said in Latin).
I’m stuck trying to imagine what is more rational. If a person has to believe their religion must validate their petty prejudices about other people would it not be more rational to believe in a petty & temperamental god. Apologies to any lingering Zeus worshipers but I can see how Zeus, as a character, might have strong opinions on such things. Niemeier notes that his god is not “composing a global naughty/nice list” but also believes that without a specific magic ritual, said in the right language, you can’t access the abstract principle of being qua being.
Think about it this way. The abstract number 7 has as much claim to existence transcending mere physical existences as “being” or any other abstraction — perhaps more so as there is the practical and powerful discipline of arithmetic that deals with things like 7 whose conclusions have real world implications. If you wish to take the Platonic* stance on the existence of 7 then I can’t regard your position as irrational. However, if you tell me that the number 7 has strong views on immigration policy** or that you can’t really relate to the number 7 unless you do arithmetic in Sanskrit then I think I’m entitled to look at your beliefs somewhat askance.
‘But that’s just an argument from incredulity’ well, yes it is an appeal to how absurd the idea is but to put it in more concrete terms, if a thing is the pure abstraction of X then its only quality can be X or qualities of which X is a member. Imagine the quality of ‘colour’ as a thing in itself (if that was possible) and call that X. In such a case X can’t be red and it can’t be blue, by being abstraction of colour it can’t be a particular colour. Going closer to the point, consider the abstraction of ‘opinion’. The abstraction of opinion cannot be a particular opinion as it is, by definition, the abstraction of the common qualities held by all opinions.
The above is not an argument for the non-existence of god, its not even an argument against the existence of an ultimately transcendent god (although I don’t believe in either). What it is that you can rationally have some ultimate transcendent principle of principles in a Platonic hierarchy or you can have a god that thinks about things and cares about what is going on but those two things can’t be the same without promoting absurdities.
*[Platonic here refereing to ‘Platonism’ in the mathematical philosophy sense that is derived from Plato but which doesn’t neccesarily reflect what Plato said.]
**[Although if 7 did have strong views on immigration policy then I’m sure they would be very compassionate and progressive views]
I will concede a massive bias in favour of the work of Noelle Stevenson, artist and writer and genius behind one of my all time favourite webcomics Nimona, as well as the quirky Lumberjanes. So I’ve been anticipating the project she has been working on: a Netflix re-boot of 1980’s cartoon She-Ra Princess of Power.
For those who may have forgotten, She-Ra was the girl-version of the oddly sanctimonious He-Man & The Master of the Universe. Like He-Man, it wasn’t great but wasn’t entirely terrible either by the admittedly weak standards of 1980s kid’s cartoons but like any children’s media it carries with it nostalgia and affection as an idea in the hearts of many who grew up with it.
Now, the series doesn’t start until November, so I don’t know if it will be good, bad or mediocre but I do know that what will decide that will be the quality of the story telling and based on Stevenson’s track record I’m definitely going to check it out.
Now something else I’m pretty confident of based on track records: the assorted rabid puppies and scrappy-doos of rightwing science fiction have never shown much interest in, affection for or nostalgia for the original She-Ra cartoon. It is also safe to assume that regardless of the art style, that barring a more risqué anime re-boot of She-Ra, they wouldn’t be tuning in regardless of the character design.
However, orders must have come on down the line from somewhere (Moscow? Skeletor?) and with the kind of unanimity that only aggressively authoritarian individualists can muster, howls (barks?) of protest about She-Ra’s new look have emanated from the usual quarters.
The gist of the argument is, in essence, that She-Ra does not have big enough boobs but it is dressed up in quite odd rhetoric about the world being robbed of beauty because She-Ra looks a bit boyish.
Here is our old pal Brian Niemeier posting a very confused rant about the whole thing: http://www.brianniemeier.com/2018/07/the-sjw-turkey-shoot.html
There’s a lot there about Netflix’s precarious business model which he then muddles in with stuff about SJWs. Now note HE DOESN’T EVEN LIKE the original She-Ra (for reasons so obvious that they can be summed up by the pronoun in the character’s name).
On Twitter, former Gamergater and Castilian House blogger Jasyn Jones aka “Daddy Warpig” also had a good old rant about She-Ra because…well again, he pretty much ALWAYS has a rant about female characters in current mainstream media unless they are anime characters. It’s so inevitable that only the immediate rationale changes, suffice to say a genre media property with a female lead will have a “grassroots” campaign from the same tiny cadre of extremists regardless. If the character design had been more stereotypically feminine then Brian and Jasyn would be using that to claim she couldn’t lift a sword or some other nonsense.
Why then even mention their nonsense? Mainly for example number a thousand and something, that despite their protestations to the contrary, they only care about how media conforms with their factional ideology and have zero interest in what story it tells. Yes, yes, I know you all knew that all ready BUT this way I also have a pretext to point out that there’s a Noelle Stevenson led cartoon coming to Netflix in November and it looks really great! 🙂
Rumblings continue in the Puppylands around Larry Correia’s dis-invitation to the Origins Game Fair. At Larry Correia’s own blog, he has been arguing that his supporters should NOT target vendors attending Origins as he sees the fault lying mainly with the convention organiser.
Interestingly in the comments there is a notable dissenting voice on this: http://monsterhunternation.com/2018/05/15/statement-concerning-my-being-disinvited-as-the-guest-of-honor-for-origins-game-fair/#comment-89744
I disagree, strongly, with ‘don’t screw the vendors.’
This is going to go on and on as long as cons allow it. The ones who stand up may survive. The ones who cave have to fold. The way to get them to fold is to hit them in the wallet. It’s the only thing that will work.
So, yes, tell your fans to hit the vendors. Hit the authors who do attend. Refuse to go to the con. Ask the pros who are attending, why they support bullying. Don’t buy their books. Don’t buy their products.
Boycott, Divest, Sanction.
We need to stop rolling over and BRING THE PAIN.”
I don’t know if that is the John Ringo but it would be odd for Larry to let the comment stand if it was somebody impersonating Ringo. If it is him that it is a very bold statement that I think organisers of conventions would pay careful attention to but perhaps not in the way the writer imagines. As I pointed out in an earlier post not even considering inviting some people would be the easiest way to avoid that kind of pushback. As a way of demonstrating that outspoken right wing authors are a good choice to invite as a guest speakers, it looks like the exact opposite of a good plan. Partly, that’s why I’m wondering if the comment is genuine or whether it is some unknown person sh_t-stirring?
People should also be mindful of giving support to people who may be suffering from being targeted by Larry Correia’s fans at the moment.
The so-completely-moved-on-from-Sad-Puppies denizens of Mad Genius Club are busily re-prosecuting for the nth time the Sad Puppy Hugo campaign. However, this time it is in defence of Larry Correia.
For those who haven’t heard (or are reading this further into the future) the Origin Game Fair initially promoted arch-Sad Puppy Larry Correia as a Guest of Honour. There was an immediate (but not actually that large) pushback and Origin immediately disinvited Larry. You can read the details here: http://file770.com/?p=42224
Not a good look for the organisers, who managed to make everybody angry.
However, coming off the back of John Ringo being disinvited from ConCarolinas for more complex reasons, Larry Correia’s disinvitation is causing some ructions in Puppy Land.
Amanda Green has a long post at Mad Genius entitled ‘It is time to fight back’ https://madgeniusclub.com/2018/05/15/it-is-time-to-fight-back/
“You see, Ward — along with the few who whined and whinged about how evil Larry is because he doesn’t walk in lock step with their agenda — made a mistake. They assumed that just because we haven’t pushed back, and pushed back hard, we wouldn’t do anything this time. What they didn’t plan on was one simple fact. We. Have. Had. Enough.”
And gets angrier from there:
“What happened to Larry — as with John — is exactly what the other side has accused us of doing. Bullying, trying to keep us from making our livings, doing their best to prevent us from attending events where we can meet and mingle with fans. And we are the bad guys.”
Of course, Larry has not actually been prevented from attending, he has been disinvited as a Guest of Honour but I guess this may be a reference to Jon Del Arroz being banned from Worldcon.
At a much nastier blog there is a post then really goes off into some pretty nasty invective against two of the people who complained – in the process demonstrating the first key fail of classic Sad Puppy tactics. I won’t quote it but here is a link http://victorygirlsblog.com/origins-game-fair-caves-to-sjz-brownshirts/ which makes the usual confusion about what Nazis are. And of course, Jon Del Arroz has a post up as well: http://delarroz.com/2018/05/14/bestseller-larry-correia-removed-as-guest-from-origins-game-fair-over-politics/
All three posts are calling for a counter-campaign, listing contact details of people supporters can contact.
“We need to get active and fight back against these collectivist groups who think they can silence us. It’s an epidemic and it’s escalating to proportions we never thought possible. The incivility of the left is going to keep pushing until we make sure this is deemed unacceptable.
Boycott Origins. Demonstrate outside of it. Email the con and tell them what you think:” http://delarroz.com/2018/05/14/bestseller-larry-correia-removed-as-guest-from-origins-game-fair-over-politics/
People are entitled to complain but that works both ways. People who find it objectionable that Larry Correia be honoured by a convention have a legitimate complaint and people who think he was treated unfairly have some cause for complaint. However, tactically, the Sad Puppies are once again falling for the same mistakes.
A sustained campaign against Origin will make it less likely people like Larry Correia get invited in the future. Any con organizer looking at the oncoming shit-storm should be able to see that the easiest way of avoiding the mess was not to have invited him in the first place. No invite, no involvement, nobody campaigns. The easiest way to win the game is to never have a connection with those who use outrage marketing tactics.
The Sad Puppies inevitably get pulled along by those who like the struggle for the sake of the struggle. For Vox Day and former Gamergaters, winning is less of an issue and often so poorly defined that anything counts as victory. The aim is to radicalise and create a fuss and when the dust has settled have a group of people who have become more marginalised in the process.
In Larry’s case? Well he was a big fan of Gamergate and he likes to be outspoken but as always he doesn’t seem to grasp that a side effect of that is a lot of people don’t want to associate with him. That in itself isn’t bullying.
I’ve hopped into my boat and hoisted the sail and set off on my navigation of the archipelagos to listen to what can be heard on the many Isles of Interest. The answer is: nothing much.
The Hugo Awards have moved on from the pups both melancholic and hydrophobic but have the pups moved on from the Hugos? Based on the overall reaction: yes. The two major organs of the two Puppy campaigns of yesteryear have remained silent on the topic aside from brief references in the comment section. That’s healthy for them.
I count around eleven finalists who Vox Day has ranted about by name before (+/- a couple I guess) but given the highly visible presence of John Scalzi and N.K.Jemisin on the list, if he was going to have a rant about the Hugo finalists it would be those two. The Hugos are being studiously ignored at the Rabid end.
The newer Scrappy-Doo element was more overt about the nomination announcement but that has been well covered elsewhere.
Maybe then they have all moved on emotionally as well as functionally?
Oh, not quite.
A Felapton Towers intern points towards a Facebook post by not-at-still-bitter Larry Correia: https://www.facebook.com/larry.correia/posts/2109322645745320
“If I had made up a fake April Fools Day list of Hugo noms trying to point out what an insular, inbred, political circle jerk they are, turns out it wouldn’t have looked much different from the real one.”
Magnanimous in defeat as always…
The comments follow the usual canards: “It’s all Tor!” and Scalzi bashing.
“Dave Truesdale Social, political and gender views trump literary quality. Many in various Arts fields tend to be liberal in the first place. You layer in the infiltration of the current far Left political views currently overwhelming society at large and SF in particular and these folks will stick together come hell or high water. They smother anything not in line with their views, talk and chat online together, stick together at cons, and you end up with a built-in, ready-made “informal” bloc of like-minded awards voters.”
“Dave Truesdale And yes, as Richard D. Cartwright says, Tor buys a lot of advertising each year, AND they get reviewed and promoted for free in the most widely read genre and media outlets who are also sympatico with their Leftist worldview. And they also buy memberships for their large staff (don’t know if everyone at Tor get a paid membership from Tor’s budget or not, but I imagine a lot of them do, which are solid Tor votes nevertheless).”
I presume people who attend Worldcon in a professional capacity on behalf of a publisher would get their membership paid, just as I assume self-employed writers would treat con attendance as a work expense. Aside from that, I find the idea of Tor paying willy-nilly for a bunch of employees to get voting memberships highly unlikely (happy to be shown to be wrong on the basis of some actual evidence). I would have hoped David Truesdale would only make such claims on the strength of something more than “I imagine” but it seems I’d have hoped wrongly.
Meanwhile, Brad T hasn’t mellowed either:
“Brad Torgersen, I had forgotten that today is the day the list comes out. Wow, yeah, it would be difficult to parody this list, because the list itself is a parody. Basically, if you publish with TOR, Orbit, put stories thru TOR-dot-com, or that SJZ mag Uncanny, and are female, you’re gonna get a Hugo nom.
Clearly, when we pointed out that the Hugos are a politically-strangled award increasingly dominated by identity politics, we didn’t sufficiently state the scope of the problem! ;)”
It is fascinating that somebody who said that what they really cared about was the quality of the stories rather than the group-identification of writers continues to complain NOT about the quality of the stories but about the group-identification of the writers.
Finally, Sarah Hoyt returns to an old and debunked complaint:
“Sarah A. Hoyt Yes, but you guys miss the point. the point of their getting the Hugos is that the universities many of them teach at don’t know how corrupt the award is, and will be impressed by it in their resume. Period. Full stop. Readers have nothing to do with this.
Richard D. Cartwright Sarah, so you are saying that the Hugos have degenerated into a university cv puffing award?
Sarah A. Hoyt Richard D. Cartwright yep. That’s why they fought so hard. it’s their livelihood at stake.”
I can’t see many academics in the list (Puppy fantasies about me notwithstanding), although one book in Best Related Work is from a university press and one Fan Writer is a PhD student/Research Fellow (but not in a literary discipline or one were a Hugo nomination would carry any weight). There could be more with some academic aspect but it’s clear few (maybe zero) Hugo finalists over the past years are overtly using that status to further academic careers. The very nature of Hoyt’s claim implies that such finalists wouldn’t be promoting themselves *secretly* in this way. It is a fantasy of Hoyt’s that she has mistaken for fact.
So time has not yet healed old wounds and grudges remain fueled by fantasies. However, the noise has lessened and the urge to distance themselves from the failures of half a decade has moved them on somewhat.
The Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance has pinged twice on my radar over the past few days. The first was in connection to the loss of reviews on Amazon by some rightwing authors (see here) and the second was the release of their nominees for their “Book of the Year Award 2018“. The ten nominees are mainly the usual set of names (e.g. JCW, Lamplighter, JDA, Paolinelli) and in a departure from previous years a non-fiction book, Moria Greyland’s The Last Closet.
I’m mindful that the announcement of the CLFA’s nominees was very close but just before the Hugo nomination date but I don’t think their list was intended to be a stealth slate and I doubt it could function that way. Still, both events made me realise that the CLFA has been a grouping I haven’t discussed much when looking at the righthand side of science fiction writing.
While the CLFA has a website (https://conservativelibertarianfictionalliance.com/ ) it functions primarily as a closed Facebook group. Not exclusively SFF, the previous nominees for their awards have been mainly either SFF books or non-SFF by SFF authors (e.g. Sad Pup/Mad Genius/Castalia House author Peter Grant’s Western novel won in 2017).
So, in some ways, the CLFA just looks like the same groups of people we keep encountering. However, in other ways, it has operated differently. Here’s a chart of how the group has grown over time:
Unlike some of the other similar charts I made looking at growth trends, this looks like steady, sustainable growth. Now, it’s a closed group so I’ve no either whether it is particularly active or a ghost town but it does keep attracting members and doesn’t seem to be losing them. Possibly this is because of (rather than in spite of) it’s low profile overall. While many of its members are famed for outrage marketing, the group itself has tended not to assert itself as a thing. Consequently, its membership includes people across the many factions in right-leaning SFF.
While I was on the topic of closed Facebook groups, I thought I would see how the loudly announced “Science Fiction and Fantasy Creators Guild” was getting on. Their main website doesn’t seem to have been updated since mid-February (https://sffcguild.com/blog/ ) but they’ve gained an interim President – Doug Irvin, who occasionally guest posts at Sarah Hoyt’s blog. Their main action has been another closed Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/726470947555061/ ) At 160+ members it has a long way to go before it reaches the same scale as the CLFA (1750+ members).
Of the members of SFFCG, about 65% are also members of the CLFA (reversing that, only about 6% of the CLFA are also members of the SFFCG).
The growth seems to have reached a plateau for the time being. Most of the growth was in late January after the fumbled announcement of the group.
Anyway…that’s it. No punchline just some numbers 🙂
This post will only make sense to the more dedicated Puppyologists as it delves into factional conflicts within the nether regions of far-right science fiction.
As a reminder here is a chart I made a while ago to help people keep track:
The lefthand (not politically) of the chart is where we are looking today.
On March 3 Jeffo Johnson (on the chart above via his ‘Appendix N’ project looking at the literature that inspired Dungeons and Dragons) wrote a post about the cultural power of conservatives: https://jeffro.wordpress.com/2018/03/03/why-conservatives-have-zero-cultural-power/ Jeffro’s argument was essentially an appeal to Tolkien to demonstrate the cultural influence of conservatives. I don’t need to spell out the problems with that as an argument and in itself, it isn’t very interesting. However, there was pushback in the comments from some random person called “Groffin”. I won’t quote it because parts of it are anti-Semitic but basically, it was pointing out that the people Jeffro was pointing at were very much dead and gone and that people weren’t reading them for any kind of conservative message anyway. Apparently, this same commentator made similar points at Vox Day’s blog also and was then banned.
Jeffro then replied to this “Groffin” in another post https://jeffro.wordpress.com/2018/03/04/the-other-reason-conservatives-have-zero-cultural-power/
This still isn’t interesting. However, the comments are, including signs of some general reader pushback against poor quality works:
“I mean, I’ve read a lot of Castalia/PulpRev/Superversive stuff and paid for quite a few things and it sure looks like you’re not allowed to say meh about meh fiction because muh pulprev or whatever. Getting snarky about mediocre fiction is just replicating what mediocre SJWs do with less of their media platform and reach. Lying about numbers and traffic, same. I can see what sells because I keep up with this as I’m extremely supportive of conservative media alternatives (I use my checkbook power, as already noted). A lot of these writers aren’t very good. Some are decent, and some have real potential. I found a couple of really promising, decently selling authors via Castalia’s blog roundups of sci-fi and fantasy. But I also got burned multiple times by the promotion of crummy stuff as AH MAYYYYY ZINNNNNGGGGGG.”
At another factional spin-off blog “PulpRev.com” there was a defence of the original “Groffin” comment and they even slapped a “gate” suffix to it – which is a thing. http://www.pulprev.com/2018/03/groffingate-saying-you-are-winning-is.html
Now, this piece is more interesting (not good but interesting. As well as being critical of Jeffro’s piece, it is also some of the most overt criticism I’ve seen from rightwing sources of the Sad Puppy campaigns:
“GroffinGate: Saying You Are Winning Is Not The Same Thing As Winning
I blame it on the Puppies.
The Pulp Revolution started out as a reaction against them, did you know that? What started as a movement to bring sanity and good writing back to an SFF establishment that had been increasingly obviously been co-opted by bigoted cultists degenerated into a movement that focused on appearances, gave high praise to mediocre works, and generated more clicks through defensive blog posts about how great they were than through anything they actually created.”
Here “Puppies” means the more core clique of rightwing authors that’s basically Mad Genius plus Larry Correia, rather than people who may have given support more generally.
Again in the comments, there are interesting comments from surprising sources (at least from a left perspective) about the 2015 Sad Puppy picks. This comment which appears to be from Cirsova magazine:
“None of the short fiction picks back in 2015 were very good. Lou Antonelli’s was an interesting germ of an idea but the execution left something to be desired. Tuesdays With Molakesh the Destroyer was pretty twee and struck me as the sort of thing they’d’ve complained about if “an SJW SF writer” had written it. Annie Bellett’s story had the best form, but still relied on the trope of “the faceless angry dangerous white men in times of trouble” for its human conflict. Totaled was twee and boring for a Brain-in-a-Jar story; Jeffro could not have been more right about how much it paled in comparison to C.L. Moore’s No Woman Born. Turncoat managed to make a battle in outer space so matter-of-fact dull I couldn’t finish it.”
I assume this isn’t the first time comments like this have been aired by people who weren’t overtly anti-Puppy but I haven’t seen many like this before.
Superversive ‘s Anthony M is more generally defensive about whether they are an insular community in general: http://www.superversivesf.com/2018/03/13/that-insual-community/
Anyway, it will be interesting to see if this generates further splinters and interesting to see if there is more reader pushback against the mediocrity of a lot of what is being published in rightwing science fiction. Outside of that world, I think ti has always been obvious that there was a huge gulf between the quality of the work and how great these groups were claiming the writing was but it was hard to disentangle that from the multitude of other issues (ideological, structural and ethical).