Category: Scrappy Doos

What’s the word on the big wide sea?

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.

Some highlights:

“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.

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The CLFA and other groups

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:

CFLAgrowth

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.

SFFCGgrowth

Anyway…that’s it. No punchline just some numbers 🙂

Trouble in Pulp Paradise

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:

puppyschematic

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).

Amazon Purging Reviews Again

Timothy’s favourite author Declan Finn has had a large number of his reviews (i..e.ones written by him) deleted from Amazon: http://www.declanfinn.com/2018/03/amazon-war-on-users.html He also notes that others in the “Conservative Libertarian Fiction Alliance” has suffered from a similar issue. Perhaps not without reason for once, he suspects political interference.

However, the answer seems to be simpler than that. This post from 2016 explains some of the housekeeping Amazon does with reviews: https://tracycooperposey.com/amazon-reviews-being-deleted/

“Since then, Amazon have gone through phases where they ramp up their culling of “inappropriate” reviews.  Their review policy states that reviews written by anyone with a personal relationship to the author are inappropriate.  So reviews by my mother or my sister-in-law should be rightfully deleted.

But lately, Amazon have applied that “relationship” ruling to anyone who appears to know the author in any familiar way at all, including being friends with them on social networks like Facebook.”

It’s easy to see how the ecosystem of authors around Superversive and the CLFA may fall afoul of Amazon as a consequence. The mutual support aspect of these groups of writers includes promoting each other’s books. Putting their politics aside and the question of gaming awards aside, this seems unfair on balance – they like each other’s books because they are writing the kinds of books they like.

However, they are all stuck within Amazon and have little choice but to live with Amazon’s arbitrary enforcement policies. In this case, Amazon doesn’t want reviews to be a form of cheerleading or mutual encouragement but rather a piece of advice to prospective buyers.

 

Looking at some crowdfunding data

I’m mainly just curious how such things work but I picked on data from a Go Fund Me campaign that I know people might be morbidly curious about.

monyraised

The site gives a list of donations made with the amount and how many days ago the donation was made. Doing some minor spreadsheet wrangling, it is fairly easy to turn this into graphable data. The only departure from literal truth is I used the order in which the donations are listed to spread out the data points more evenly across each day of the campaign – so the smooth growth within each day is just to make the graph easier on the eye (the raw data would just give a big vertical chunk of points).

Compared with the fundraising goal the graph looks like this:

versusgoal

If we assume a growth rate of $20 every three days than this campaign should reach its target in about 1317 days or about three and a half years. Of course, events may change that.

Why (some of the)* Right Hates Elsa

I’ll start with the only place this post can start – which is where it needs to finish also:

How much does the right of Science Fiction & Fantasy hate this movie and this song in particular? A *lot*, more than perhaps you may have noticed. Sure, the new Star Wars movies have received more high profile attacks, and modern superhero comics have had there own troll-fest ‘gate’ but ‘Frozen’? Frozen has worked its way like a tiny shard of ice under the skin.

To wit:

“As I’ve told my children, Let It Go is an expression of pure Crowleyian evil “http://voxday.blogspot.com.au/2017/11/let-it-go-to-hell.html

“Do you remember hearing how Disney loved the song “Let It Go” so much that they created an entire movie to go around it? Did you ever ask yourself what it was they loved so much about it?…Disney is run by literal satanists preaching Alastair Crowley’s “do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” to children.”  http://voxday.blogspot.com.au/2017/10/the-devil-that-is-disney.html

” Women and girls learning how to throw off all rules and inhibition is core to our new morality.  The song isn’t loved as a guilty pleasure;  it is loved as a bold moral declaration.  Stop trying to be a good girl and learn to worship yourself is a moral exhortation. ” https://dalrock.wordpress.com/2017/11/13/children-understand/

“The gay agenda to normalize homosexuality is woven into Disney’s movie Frozen not just as an underlying message – it is the movie.” http://wellbehavedmormonwoman.blogspot.com.au/2014/02/movie-frozen-gay-homosexual-agenda.html

“So when it comes to Frozen: Elsa telling Anna that she couldn’t marry a man she just met is a funny observation of a trope that is kind of silly if you think about it.Having that man turn out to be a sociopath that tries to kill Elsa and steal the throne, because that trope was always secretly ‘problematic,’ is subversion and spits on Disney.” http://www.superversivesf.com/2018/02/15/enchanted-parody-frozen-subversion/

“I am puzzled why the writers of Frozen wanted Hans to be the villain, for as best I can tell, they already had someone who would make the perfect villain… Elsa.” http://www.superversivesf.com/2018/01/22/frozens-fatal-flaw-or-the-unplotted-plot-twist/

“So how are things fixed? Does Elsa admit he’s right and strive to do better in the future? Does she vow never to cut loose like that again and learn to control herself?

No. She Loves Her Sister. And that’s it. Now she can control her powers. She never says that letting it go was a mistake.” http://www.superversivesf.com/2018/01/26/no-elsa-not-learn-lesson/

Note that THREE of that sample were from 2018 – this isn’t a short-lived attempt to gain attention by a cynical attack on something popular. No, indeed the Superversive articles, in particular, are by people heavily engaged with the plot of the film who seem to be trying to wrestle with what is wrong with it.

Crowley? Normalizing homosexuality? Wrong villains? Fatal plot flaws? This all from people who often claim that popularity and commercial success are the true marks of artistic quality. By that measure Frozen is high art – a Disney musical powerhouse at a time when Disney musicals were long past their peak. A film that launched a thousand lunch boxes.

The issue is not hard to diagnose. Frozen is mainly conventional Disney – in some ways even less than that. The plot is slight compared to other classic Disney films (e.g. the Lion King) and the songs (bar one) are unmemorable. Yet it does a few things and those things are interesting:

  • ‘Let It Go’ is a genuinely really good song, but it is also really well integrated into the story both emotionally, in its lyrics and in the character development of Elsa.
  • The story rejects romantic love as its central message and instead centres on the familial love of two sisters.

This being Disney, there really is zero implications about Elsa’s sexuality EXCEPT that at no point does she act out of desire for a romantic relationship with anybody of any gender. And with that we get to part of the multiple issues the right continue to have with the film.

  • Both Elsa and Anna reject a story line (and hence a role) of a princess finding the love of a prince. This element is strongest with Anna rather than Elsa. Anna does fall in love with a prince and while that helps drive the plot, this does not lead to the normal resolution because…
  • ..the prince is actually a shit bag. I’m surprised there are fewer rightwingers complaining that the film is ‘anti-man’. I guess because it is a reasonable point that at least some men are shitbags and it is a sibling’s duty to point that out.
  • Elsa overtly and very musically rejects not so much romantic love etc but ALL societal expectations of her and goes off and does her own thing. Now, the film’s ‘message’ is really quite reactionary in so far as it shows the CONSEQUENCE of this as throwing the whole kingdom into eternal winter but…
  • …instead of rejecting her descion to be independent, Elsa treats the whole eternal winter more as a technical problem to be solved.

Are the lyrics to ‘Let It Go’ amoral? Sure – the right ALMOST has a point there. Elsa, in frustration, rejects all of society so that she can act in anyway she likes. I mean, that does sound familiar – not so much ‘Crowley’ but the whole strain of ‘positive thinking’ self-help radical individualism that is peddled by multiple strands of the Alt-Right. The lyrics could *almost* be an anthem for some sections of the Alt-Right, except…

…except that it is a woman singing them and a woman rejecting not people expecting a basic level of decency & compassion but rather a mass of expectations that are literally crushing her ability to do what she is good at. And Elsa does ‘learn her lesson’ in this regard by realising that she SHOULD be allowed to be herself and make bridges and mountain top ice palaces but not at the expense of cutting herself off from her society and family.

Put another way – I think maybe ‘Let It Go’ struck a chord with these guys a bit. It caused a tiny twinge of recognition of their own feelings in a quite different character, to the extent that years later they still can’t (ahem) let it go. Yet, at the same time, the SAME message expressed their deepest fear – women following their own dreams for their own motives independent of societal expectations for the role of women.

To finish, here’s that song again but a version where Disney cut together all the multiple language versions:

*[I’ve had some concerned people on the right express concern for the sweeping headline. Not All Rightists hate Elsa and some find her quite charming 🙂 ]

The Scrappy Dappy Club?

For those waiting on the next exciting antic from the rightwing zone of science fiction, let me present the “Science Fiction and Fantasy Creators Guild”. It has a website https://sffcguild.com  and a founding member Richard Paolinelli.

I assume the new guild will be so popular that the SFWA will fade into obscurity or that’s what is being imagined. Good luck to it I suppose.