Category: Straw Puppy


I was considering doing a round-up of various reactions to the Trump election from the puppy-sphere but one in particular out-did itself in terms of an utter lack of self awareness.

Here is Brad Torgersen (you guessed it would be Brad didn’t you?) thinking about the children:

And now I am reading all these stories from parents, supposedly screaming about how their children are living in Trump Terror, and I just shake my head—dummies, your kids are having a cow because *you* are having a cow.

And if you are thinking “but wait…didn’t Brad freak out after the 2015 Hugo Awards?” then you would be right:

So lets be clear:

  • A corrupt authoritarian sexual predator becomes most powerful man in the world with a minority of the vote and starts surrounding himself with white supremacist sympathisers? Brad’s advice: calm down and respect the vote and don’t let the kids get upset.
  • A shonky plan to rig a science fiction award (with the bonus help of a very similar group of white supremacist sympathisers) loses big time in a vote? Brad’s advice: FREAK THE FUCK OUT PEOPLE!!!! VOTERS ARE ABUSERS, CHILDREN ARE UPSET!!!


A Sail Around the Puppy Seas to Exemplify the Polls Using Appallingly Sized Samples

No, but seriously looking in depth at what individuals are saying is a totally legit research technique.

To recap, in previous posts I’ve looked at the Sad Puppy/Rabid Puppy political split in terms of the right’s anti-Trump vote and the alt-right’s pro-Trump vote. Simply, the difference between notable Sad Puppies (as defined by the 2015 Hugo Campaigns) and the Rabid Puppies was a simple as the Rabid Puppies being strongly pro-Trump.

How do things stand now? The Rabid Puppy camps remain pro-Trump obviously: racism and misogyny are seen as a feature rather than a bug of the Trump candidacy.

On the Sad Puppy side, Peter Grant the Tor-boycott guy has been leaning Trump for awhile.

Brad Torgersen and Larry Correia, remain in the plague-on-both-your-houses camp.Brad has been making digs about people supporting Hillary though.

The big change is Sarah Hoyt, who has announced that she intends voting for Trump:

I think her reasoning is interesting – not terribly coherent and based on a looming dread of leftists doing lefty things but still interesting. I say that because it helps show what may be happening in various ways with the polls (at least in part). People with various kinds of right (or anti-left) views finally caving under the weight of a freakish electoral cycle and picking the only side they can pick.

Vox Day’s No Good Horrible Very Bad Week

Not the best week for our favourite evil-genius.oneyedD5

Sunday: The Hugo Awards didn’t collapse but instead voted for top-notch works. The multiple dark threats from 2015 amounted to little more than Space Raptor Butt Invasion aka the joke that backfired on the devilman Vox. Here he is in 2015.


Tonight will tell us one very important thing. It will give us the opportunity to see what their true numbers are and reveal the true extent of their fully mobilized strength. Last year, the maximum No Award vote was 1,100. This year it will be more, somewhere between 1,100 and 4,000.

Being SJWs, they doubled-down as per the Second Law, giving us the chance to break them once and for all. But even if we don’t, even if we only burn Munich instead of taking Berlin, even if they are successful in “sending a message”, what we hear will not be what they wish for us to hear. Because what we will hear is this: Next year, bring more puppies.

Ooops. I think I can spot where the brilliant plan fell down.

Tuesday: Vox is struggling to make sense of Space Raptor Butt Invasion. The Vox Xanatos gambit was this:

  • SJWs will either say they hate it and not vote for it and the Hugos will be all embarrassed that it was on the ballot.
  • Or the SJWs will say that they love it and hence have to vote for it and it will a Hugo and the Hugos will have “butt” in it ha, ha, ha I made them say “butt”

Unfortunately somehow in the complex psychological four-dimensional chess game that Vox was playing (which oddly looks like the reasoning of a 10-year-old playground bully with emotional difficulties), he missed this option:

  • Hugo voters will find Chuck Tingle hilarious, his baiting of Vox Day even more hilarious, embrace him as an ally and give him big cheers – but not vote him a Hugo because Space Raptor Butt Invasion isn’t really Hugo worthy.

Vox ends up fuming :

Apparently those folks appreciate Mr. Tingle just about as much as they appreciate me. Did I not tell you that would happen despite the SJW’s feigned joy over how terribly funny and brilliant they found Mr. Tingle’s work?

Those darn SJWs! They must have been pretending just to wind Vox up! Gosh, I wish that was true because it would be even funnier than the reality.

Wednesday: The massive post-Hugo sulk continues as the best reaction Vox can come up with is to try to be rude to Nnedi Okorafor. Ah! That is the brilliant four-dimensional chess gambit Vox was going to play along!

Thursday: Donald Trump goes all wibbly-wobbly on immigration. While arithmetic is not the Alt-Right’s strong suit, even Donald appears to have spotted that he needs a broader base than immigration-paranoia. As pivots go it was weak and incoherent but enough to cause a Vox-sulk and use the ‘c’ word: It’s all OK though because just doesn’t care.

I don’t actually care what he did or didn’t do, but since some of you obviously want to get into this, be my guest. But do it here, not in the other threads.

Thursday again: Things look up a bit for Vox, as Hillary Clinton makes a big deal about the alt-right. Sure it’s bad for Trump but a side-effect is an increased profile for the alt-right:

Friday: Coverage of Hillary’s speech in the mainstream media – but what’s this? Quotes from VDARE, Cernovich, Milo and assorted racists but no Vox. Heck even I was disappointed for him – I wanted to point at a quote and say ‘I had a stupid twitter argument with that guy!’ but ’twas not to be.

Saturday: OK timezone wise I’m not sure it is Saturday yet wherever Vox is. Thing is August 27 is about 30 days since the end of the Democratic National Convention. Here is Vox in early August:

As for the polls, I remind you of my previous assessment: they don’t mean ANYTHING until 30 days after the end of the second convention.

If there is no discernible Trump trend by then, it MIGHT be time to start considering the possibility of a Hillary win. In the meantime, pay no attention to the media’s attempt to establish a false narrative.

And this is what the polls look like now:





The Sad Puppy 3 meltdown over Hugo 2016 Continues

In yet another extraordinary display of sore-loserness, Brad Torgersen enter into the fray with a rant about how the leftwing media is ganging up on him

Now, just to remind everybody:

  • Brad (and Larry) were not really involved in Sad Puppies 4 – the relevant campaign for Hugo 2016
  • Brad has always been very vocal about how different the Sads and Rabids are
  • Sad Puppies 4 was actual a vast improvement andreceived substantially less criticism than Brad’s campaign because Kate Paulk actually did what she said she would do
  • The impact on nominations from Sad Puppies 4 was no overt or disruptive – good for them
  • The big issue in 2016 was the obvious griefing by the Rabid Puppies of Vox Day
  • It was the Rabid Puppies who got trounced in the final voting
  • Vox is being largely phlegmatic about it (as trolls tend to be when their trolling gets shut down eventually)
  • Brad and Larry are having a massive hissy fit about fans not voting the way Brad and Larry think they should have

Brad says that Sad Puppies was all about diversity of opinion – yet here we are again. When new and varied works win, Brad has a meltdown because they don’t fit the nutty-nugget template that he demands we all follow.

Sad Puppies volunteer again as the shields for Vox and the Rabids: a reply to Larry C

Larry Correia has re-entered into the Hugo debate, apparently to lambast Hugo voters for not voting for the Rabid Puppies. As so often happens, Larry (and Brad) have forgotten briefly about the supposedly massive distinction between Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies and naturally has come down fair and square on the side of Vox Day’s fairly obvious griefing attempt.

Fast forward to now, and at least they are open it is all politics.

Politics? It is interesting that when Larry says “politics” it so often means either women or people of colour not being discriminated against. When this is pointed out, Larry then tends to go 180 degrees and loudly declares about how race or gender or ethnicity are irrelevant and that people are all meany heads for calling him a racist or that the Sad Puppy leadership is diverse. Which is odd, because by Larry’s standards all of that would amount to “politics” on his part.

Larry and the Sad Puppies declared many times that the problem with the Hugos was the same old people winning awards. Well, that isn’t want happened this year and so now Larry is complaining that it is “politics”.

Seriously what aspect of YOUR politics is it that is attacked when somebody like N.K.Jemisin wins a Hugo? Seriously – that is a genuine question, not a trick one. You say repeatedly how much of a non-racist you are and that’s great and I’d really, really, like to believe you. What would help, would be you trying to work out what you mean by “politics” – because it really doesn’t seem to be the economic policy beliefs of award winners or their views on foreign policy or even their stance on healthcare or even which political candidate they are going to vote for in the next election.

Just ask yourself this, what kind of scumbags would give No Award to Larry Elmore?

Wait – you are the guy who keeps saying awards don’t matter? So now ordinary voters are “scumbags” if they don’t give somebody an award? And you wonder how “Sad Puppy” became such a toxic brand. It might have worked for Donald Trump during the GOP Primary but insulting ordinary voters is a pretty crap way of winning support and a very quick way of becoming marginalised in terms of influence beyond your fanbase (yeah, yeah, I know you earn lots and your books are super popular etc – seriously I’m happy for you).

You can’t even make your mind up whether a Hugo Award is an irrelevance or a mark of toxicity or something so vital that a fan must be a “scumbag” if they don’t vote for somebody.

And you are back to the notion of a Hugo being some kind of lifetime achievement award. It isn’t. You might want it to be but that involves persuading people rather than shouting at them. It is noticeable that when people wouldn’t be bullied into doing what you wanted you withdrew rather than thinking about where you went wrong and trying to engage in a positive way. Shame that.

Moira Greyland exposed to the culture of rape and pedophilia in old fandom, and not the made up “rape culture” the modern feminists accuse anybody who disagrees with them of.

And noticeably the coverage of this was not something Sad Puppies felt was worth nominating last year. For example

Does that mean you and Brad wanted it “swept under the rug”? Because not only did you not nominate any of the coverage you didn’t discuss in your blogs either. Whereas the “modern feminists” you attack did discuss it. Ah but they are awful people because while they took the issue seriously they didn’t the vote the way Vox Day told them to in an award that you think is irrelevant because…because why? Because now Larry Correia thinks the way of helping the victims of sexual abuse is to never talk about the issue but nominate things for a Hugo Award?

Nope. While “modern feminists” were pointing out this appalling part of fandom history, Sad Puppies was busy celebrating and promoting a rape apologist. Oh wait, but that’s “politics” again, isn’t it, if anybody dares mention the way Sad Puppies sought out and promoted Vox Day.

But here is why I didn’t vote for Moira Greyland’s essay

Other people had other reasons.

Toni Weisskopf? No Award. But we already knew that was coming.

Yes, we did. Take for example Sad Puppy 4 supremo Kate Paulk’s take on Best Editor Long Form:

Yup, even the TOP Sad Puppy couldn’t find much of a reason to vote for Toni Weisskopf. Heck, judging from the Hugo packet Toni Weisskopf couldn’t think of any reasons why we should vote for Toni Weisskopf. And yet people are just the WORST if they don’t vote for her because…I guess we’ll never know other than because Larry said so.

And noticeable how you can’t bring yourself to congratulate Sheila E Gilbert for actually winning – you know the person who actually said what she edited last year. Amazing that.

And Jerry Pournelle… Living legend. You pieces of shit are honestly going to tell us that Jerry Pournelle is not award worthy?

Yes, because the work he was nominated for, There Will be War X,  was a bit shit. Also, it was forced onto the ballot by the publisher’s shenanigans – something Sad Puppies and yourself are supposed to be opposing.

Jerry Pournelle can be a living legend and if there is ever a Living Legend Hugo Award I might even give him some consideration (tough field, though). However, he was nominated for best editor on the basis of an anthology that was pretty bad compared to his earlier work.

And to Neil Gaiman, boldly standing up to those pesky Puppies during his speech…

When you got your buddy Jonathan Ross to volunteer to MC the awards, it wasn’t those jerky Sad Puppies that formed an angry twitter mob because he *might* tell a fat joke.

That is true and note he still thinks “puppies” are bigger jerks.

You might want to stop and reflect on that for a moment. People who have actually experienced some of the supposedly awful oppression of the supposedly awful SJWs (mainly people being cross on the internet) see your “Puppy” brand as more obnoxious than that.

Now, why do you think that is Larry?

HINT: you have singularly failed to expand your base and done nothing but help Vox Day and the alt-right solidify theirs.

I still recall how discombobulated you were when Donald Trump effectively won the GOP nominations. You just couldn’t make sense of it – despite all your effort to legitimise and promote alt-right figures, alt-right narratives and alt-right talking points.

It still amazes me how much people on the right work so, so hard to boost people who then laugh at them and call them “cuckservatives” and then hijack their movement. And here we are again – you are posting a long rant about how awful those Hugo voters are and how “political” they are for not embracing Vox Day.

by the way, Neil, there were two separate groups of Puppies with entirely different goals and methods

Says Larry, rushing to defend the Rabid Puppies after they get trounced in a popular vote. Amazing how often Larry or Brad would rhetorically jump in front of criticism of the Rabid Puppies considering how different the two campaigns are. And I’m not being sarcastic – Larry is right, the Sads and Rabids really are qualitatively different. The most obvious difference is that Vox is quite happy to laugh and mock the Sad Puppies while the Sad Puppies jump to Vox’s defence – just as Larry does in this piece.

[Update: Larry’s post-Hugo rant appears to be the ONLY time he has EVER mentioned Moira Greyland on his blog (based on a search of the term “Greyland”). He cares SO MUCH about the issues she raised that he only ever got round to mentioning her this week and as part of his standard rant that everybody else are wrongfans]


The Puppy Axis Returns: Cut to the Chase Already

Larry-cardIn which I commence the obligatory counter fisk of Larry Correia’s woeful take of the Fireside report.

For the story so far read the links below:

Part 1Part 2, Part 3, …

So in response to Fireside report, Larry Correia wrote one of his fisks, cheered on by Vox Day and JCW. I say ‘in response to’ but actually his Larrysplainin’ is to this second account from The Verge:

So, do remember as we wander through Larry’s piece that he may not have a clue what he is talking about. Quotes from Larry will be bold and preceded by “LARRY” so you know that it is Larry. Other quotes won’t say “LARRY”.

LARRY: After reading this defeatist garbage I figured I needed to say something.

It isn’t clear what he thinks is garbage here, the Verge story or the Fireside report itself. I doubt Larry is sure either. What he means by ‘defeatist’ is unclear either – he thinks this is something analogous to a war but against whom we can only guess.

Either way, the Fireside Report clearly isn’t garbage – it is thoughtful and they’ve done some solid work in attempting to collate relevant data. Is it perfect? Good grief, no. How could it be? But some knowledge is always better than none.

As for defeatist, no, it isn’t that either. It is disappointing that collectively we haven’t gone further but Fireside haven’t reacted to this report as a defeat but rather as a call to action. They have responded by looking at positive action they can take.

Helpful life hint for Larry #1: Identifying and talking about problems isn’t defeatist. It is common sense. It’s how you iteratively make things better.

Back to Larry:

LARRY: I originally saw this article on author Chris Nuttal’s page, and in the resulting discussion a bunch of authors went through the many possible flaws in this survey (including some black authors who pointed out they never put their race on a query letter). Chris goes into it in detail here

Yeah, it really does look like you didn’t read the report and have launched off on a half-baked Larrysplainin’ without doing the basic reading. Yes, not knowing who is and who isn’t black is one of the issues with the data and it is an issue that they point out in the study.

This data was not entirely self-reported, as the task of contacting the authors in the magazines measured was too daunting. Self-reported data was used whenever possible, but such data was not always findable or clear — for example, no biographical information could be found for two authors in Strange Horizons, and Daily Science Fiction had a larger handful of authors for whom that was the case. We  assume that there is probably at least one false positive and/or false negative. We doubt that these existed in such numbers as to unduly dilute the study.

And this makes a lot of sense. For the basic thrust of the report’s conclusion to be wrong, we have to assume there are a lot more false negatives than false positives. That is possible but if we take out Daily Science Fiction (which is definitely an unusual outlet and adds disproportionately to the total) you get a similar percentage.

Having said that, I would have liked it if the data had been clearer about numbers in terms of Black, Not-Black and Unknown.

Helpful life hint for Larry #2: If you are going to write about a study READ the methodology. OK, that sounds wonky but seriously, if you don’t know what the people did then you only end up looking daft when you comment on what they should have done.

LARRY: Basically, there were supposedly 38 stories published by black authors in sci-fi magazines (a plodding dinosaur medium, but I’ll get to that) but how many stories were submitted by black authors?

If only I’d pointed out that life hint to Larry earlier! You are right, we don’t know how many were submitted. This is why the writers of the report say:

…we don’t have access to submission-rate data concerning race and ethnicity either overall or by individual magazine…

What that means is we don’t know where the bias arises or in which proportions. Of course, what you can do is ask somebody. Which is what Fireside did. Here is N. K. Jemisin:

When you’re saying that there is an under-representation, understand that it comes from both ends. It’s coming from people who are fed up with and don’t expect to see themselves in traditional publishing, which is an issue. That is definitely an issue, because the under-representation has led to a thriving parallel market among other things. Just understand that there are some folks who aren’t trying.

The weird thing is why Larry thinks this is such a clever rebuttal. After all the under-representation is large whether it comes from rejections or whether it comes from black authors not submitting.

The point is that Larry prefers to think of racism only in terms of cartoon racism and simple discrimination that is overt and conscious. Furthermore, Larry prefers to believe that this kind of cartoon racism is minimal or perhaps non-existent. So for Larry, the only thing that matters is dismissing the possibility that black authors are being actively rejected by cartoon racists.

I say ‘cartoon racists’ because of the disconnect with reality in the model of racism we see discussed by Larry and Brad et al. Of course, actual overt racists are no cartoon. Nor are they some rare species – Vox Day is the obvious example, whose racism extends even to people of Southern European ancestry like Larry.

Larry, of course, is one of the many anti-Trump supporting conservatives who were blindsided by Trump’s popularity among GOP voters. Having spent decades willfully pretending overt racism wasn’t real, the rise of an overt racist who commanded large supporter among fellow conservatives was a surprise.

Yet this minimalisation of racism is endemic in the more libertarian-leaning right and it enables the more overt racism of Trumpism. In the individualist mindset, people have lower incomes or a lack of economic success because either they haven’t tried hard enough or the government is taxing them too much. In that model, systemic inequality has to be denied and overt racism is supposed to be a problem that vanishes by the blessing of capitalism.

LARRY: but hey, let’s hurry, assume the system is rigged, impossible, and have a giant freak out about racism, because getting published isn’t hard enough already.

Despite appearances, Larry is not being ironic. Yes, he is being sarcastic but the irony is going wooosshhhh right over his head. On the basis of barely anything at all (retroactively not liking how he felt at Worldcon after getting nominated for a Campbell) Larry felt a freak out about firstly the ‘literati’ being biased against him, unknown European reviewers being biased against him and then SJWs being biased against and goodness knows who else, was not only warranted but required a three-year campaign of shouty mudslinging and slating. OK, irony and emotional consistency are not why you would go and read Larry’s blog but…

…what was that last bit? “because getting published isn’t hard enough already” huh? How is being concerned about some people NOT getting published going to make it harder to get published? Maybe he’ll tell us later but I can’t help thinking that Larry is thinking of somebody other than black authors…

LARRY: If fifty million black authors submitted stories, he’d have a point. Without comparative rejection rates those numbers are meaningless.

Ugh, no Larry and you’ve done that bit already. It isn’t meaningless it just means we can’t know at which point the bias is. Seriously, this isn’t that hard.

LARRY: I know there is bias in publishing. Some unconscious, as in you deviate too far from their groupthink monoculture, and they wouldn’t read that trash, and only they know what sells. And some conscious, as in you didn’t kiss sufficient ass, or they just plain hate your guts.

You see Larry is capable of conceptualising more subtle forms of bias. It isn’t that he can’t imagine it, it’s just that he tends to see it as a bias against him rather than other people. I guess as well he hasn’t connected the dots between this attitude in the quote and the obey-the-market attitude explained by Brad. I suspect he sees them as diametric opposites.

LARRY: Ironically, if there is a bias against black authors, just keep in mind that the vast majority of the publishing industry works out of ultra-liberal Manhattan, and is overwhelmingly run by Caring Liberals Who Are Never Racist EVAR, and by golly, they’ll tell you so.

A whole series of straw men stacked like rhetorical dominoes!

  • The vast majority…except the report is on short fiction and many of the magazines aren’t part of traditional publishing but things like semiprozines. Of course, it wouldn’t be Larry without a rant about trad-publishing but he hasn’t actually read the report and so is off flailing at the wrong target. But we will follow him.
  • Ultra-liberal…whatever that means. This is the distant horizon problem that people on ideological fringes often have. The centre is so far away that they can’t distinguish it from anything on the other side of it. So Manhattan can’t be just to the left of Larry it has to be ‘ultra-liberal’. Ah yes, Manhattan the home of Wall Street is some communard utopia manned by boiler-suited comrades. We’ve left reality people and wandered into the fever-dream map of America.
  • Who are Never Racist EVAR…and the last straw Manhattan Communard topples over. The whole point of pointing out the issues with systemic racism is exactly that NOBODY is never racist. The crew of Fireside aren’t racist in Larry’s sense but what they have done is used data to identify that unwittingly their approach has racist outcomes (possibly). They are actually pointing that out.

Helpful life hint for Larry #3: Do your homework. Seriously, it’s good advice even after you’ve left school.

We aren’t out of the woods yet, though. Larry still has to prove how lefty publishing is:

LARRY: How politically slanted is this business? Check this out. Go down and click on Publishing.  Book Publishing is so overwhelmingly left wing and my side so statistically insignificant, that we don’t show up on the diagram.

Hmm Verdant labs data hey! Why that looks familiar! Oh, I looked at over a year ago here

Notice how Larry’s data standards have declined suddenly. Is the data one guy or twenty companies? No way of telling. Of course what we do know is that one of the big players in publishing is NewsCorp owned by Mr Rupert Murdoch – not know for his “ultra liberal” views.

But it really is even more nonsensical than that, aside from NOT THE ACTUAL GROUP WE ARE DISCUSSING (remember) the idea that contributing to the Democrats is particularly leftwing is also laughable. The current REPUBLICAN candidate for President (a man so right wing that Larry can’t support him but Vox Day can) has contributed money to Democrats before, as has his son.

Dave Freer went down a similar rabbit hole previously. Party identification data in the US is of limited use and contribution data is even worse and more often related to time and place than the ideology of the contributor.

Anyway, let’s try and get back on track. Larry makes a few points where he doesn’t disagree with the Verge article. When it gets to them saying this:

Barriers for specific groups of people hurts the field as a whole by blocking new voices and styles from reaching a wider audience.

Larry says this:

LARRY: Funny, when I said that same thing years ago I was the bad guy. 🙂

No, when you tried to get yourself awarded a prize people said you were the bad guy. The above was just your rationalisation for trying to force the issue. The Puppy slates helped force new voices and new styles off the Hugo Ballot. Worse, your pal Brad Torgersen and other puppies specifically complained about too many new style things being nominated. You headed up a campaign AGAINST new styles in preference to more traditional SF. Really, Larry it wasn’t THAT long ago, you can’t have forgotten already.

Helpful life hint for Larry #4: Don’t confuse  your actions with your motives.

Larry then gets himself further confused:

LARRY: First, if you’re a “person of color” (which always blows me away how that is cool now but Colored Person is a slur) most of your readers don’t care. No. Really. The vast majority of people who read do so to be entertained. Adventure, comedy, tragedy, whatever. Make them happy or make them cry, you’re doing your job.  Only a tiny percentage of whiny white guilt liberals buy books based upon the author’s race.

This is based on Larry’s much more robust survey of the field that consists of him telling his fans what to think. Oddly, it isn’t even the worst or most patronising bit of advice Larry has to give. I’m just including it because for Fireside Larry demands greater rigour in survey technique because presumably, they don’t have Larry’s psychic power to read everybody’s mind in one giant go.

Also, Larry is puzzled by how words work. Can’t explain now Larry, It would take way too long and it might involve you having to listen to other people.

Anyway, Larry offers some advice to a guy he knows who is just starting out and who is black. Well, if he is your friend that I guess he is OK with taking advice from you. Everybody else? Zoiks. You might want to first establish that Larry has grasped what the issue at hand is because based on this blog post he is likely to give you a whole heap of bad advice about something else that he didn’t understand in the first place.

LARRY: So don’t be “an author of color”. Be an author. Period. Technically, I’m an author of color (warm beige according to these Home Depot paint chips) but that’s fucking stupid. I’m telling stories for the mass market, not for some little narrow band of humanity that happens to fit my socioeconomic-cultural-ethnic-religious-sexual oriented background.

Actually be whatever you want to be and if you do want to be “an author of color” then know that shouldn’t force you into a narrow band of humanity. Also look at what Larry DOES not what he SAYS. There is usually a substantial mismatch between the two. Does Larry try to meekly keep aspects of his background secondary to his writing? Not remotely and why should he? Larry makes a big deal of his Portuguese descent and his Mormon religion and his gun enthusiasm because they are part of his identity and he certainly doesn’t keep that identity somehow separate from his writing. Heck, Owen Pitt, the hero of his breakout novel is practically a Larry-clone.

Luckily Larry lives in this America and not the dystopian one imagined by the man he promoted, Vox Day. In Vox Day’s America, one Donald Trump is trying to make reality, it is only people of English descent that matter. Vox regards the 19th/early 20th-century immigration policies that allowed in more immigrants from Southern Catholic European countries like Italy, Spain or Portugal as a corrupting influence on America.

So actually, three cheers for Larry. I very much support the fact that you celebrate your heritage and build it into your work and let everybody know that it is part of who you are as an author.

He then quotes the article:

“The advice to write “what the market wants” is code for white characters and white stories.

And replies:

LARRY: Owen Z. Pitt, not white. Ashok Vadal, not white. Yet somehow I’m a successful author and my core fan base is as red state, meat and potatoes, flag waving, clinging to our god and guns, regular America as it gets.

“What the market wants” is not code for White Stories (whatever the fuck that gibberish is supposed to mean). The market wants to be entertained. They want to have fun. They want emotion. They want to get sucked in because they can’t put the book down and stay up way too late reading. They want rousing stories. They want heroes and villains. They want characters they can cheer for. If you think all that only belongs to white people, fuck off, racist.

Larry, you have a serious reading comprehension problem right there. You are confusing an actual state of affairs (what will actually sell) with institutional biases. You can’t claim not to believe they exist because you were complaining about them a few paragraphs ago. Sorry, I forgot you only believe in them if you think they are biases against conservative men. But you are an SFF author, right? You have an imagination. Just close your eyes and imagine that all those conspiracies and CHORFs and SJW gatekeepers you moan about aren’t biased against you but a biased in favour of some sappy middle-of-the-road white male America.

Yes, the ‘market’ wants to be entertained but it actually takes effort to push things away from what is perceived as safe. Yes, your novels have some diversity to them and people buy them. But you know what? That didn’t happen over night. People did that. People who were writing before you did that and most of them had to struggle to do it.

You now live in a world where people will read stories with more diverse characters but not so long ago, the diversity in your books would have been seen as radical or even provocative. And yes, some Larry-like person would have been lecturing you on being too preachy or too politically correct – and that person would have been a bit of an arse now wouldn’t they?

But way to go, intentionally misunderstanding it that so you could knock over a different strawman.

LARRY:That white guilt claptrap is silly. Do you really think that writing is the only career where not having free time, resources, and the ability to network holds you back? How about, uh, let’s say EVERY OTHER CAREER too.

I am quite certain the black population of America is very, very well aware that such things can hold people back in any career. It is why racism impacts across all aspects of the economy. It is why we say racism is SYSTEMIC. It is why the impact of racism is GENERATIONAL. It is why there are huge disparities in wealth and health and prospects across America.

That doesn’t mean that only middle-class people have any hope of becoming authors but it does mean that it is much easier. Nor does ‘easier’ mean ‘easy’. There are multiple barriers no matter what route you take and education, social networks, economic security all help. Talent obviously helps a lot too as does drive.

Racism cuts into each of those. Because the impact of racism is systemic and generational and in America also geographic, it cuts into educational prospects, social networks beyond your ethnic group and cuts deeply into economic security. On top of that are the more immediate impacts of racism which add extra barriers to whatever you might be doing.

It isn’t ‘defeatist’ to point that out. We shouldn’t be fatalistic about it but we certainly shouldn’t accept it or pretend, as Larry seems to be doing, that it is just a matter of working hard.

Back to Larry:

LARRY: This article is focused on sci-fi magazines, but they are a relic of an earlier time. I think most of them have gone out of business. This article says they looked at 63 sci-fi magazines. I was shocked there were that many. I’ve sold around 30 pieces of short fiction, and I could only think of like half a dozen sci-fi magazines off the top of my head

Imagine a face-palm gif at this point. I’m too busy face-palming to find one. Yes, after goodness knows how many off-topic ramblings, Larry catches on to the fact that this is about magazines.

Larry can only think of half-a-dozen. This is rather like me being able to only think of half a dozen types of gun. In both cases, it is a measure of our mutual ignorance and f-all to do with the size of the field.

Yes, Larry, there are LOTS of magazines. Some professional, some fanzines some semi-pro. Remember when you and Brad tried to set yourselves up as the gatekeepers of fandom and everybody pointed out you were utterly clueless? Yes? You are demonstrating why.

Anybody who has followed the Puppies would only ready know by now that their grasp of short fiction and short fiction outlets is very limited. Maybe at this point, Larry might spot that he actually has very little understanding of any aspect of the topic he has been talking about?

LARRY: This is a fantastic time to be an author. In the olden days, if a handful of gatekeepers didn’t like you, you were boned. For a long time, unless you were a superstar, there was basically one mainstream publishing house that didn’t give a damn about their author’s personal politics. Luckily, Indy and self-pub have changed the market dramatically.

Except Larry, the Fireside report was including independent magazines and the issue isn’t ‘personal politics’ but ethnicity. I don’t know, maybe Larry struggles to see the difference and sees being black as being the same as choosing to be a conservative.

Perhaps it is too late to hope that Larry might realise that his long rant about mainstream publishing of books has little to do with independent publishing of short fiction or that ‘go Indy’ is not much of a solution to a problem with independent magazines.

LARRY: I got rejected a hundred times. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t because my last name has double Rs and too many vowels, but if I wanted to be a big pussy about it I could have added racism to the giant list of challenges all aspiring authors face, just to make the process seem extra daunting and insurmountable.

Instead of adding a known problem to the list, taking it seriously and helping do something about it, you belittled people trying to make things better, called them politically-correct or SJWs and went on a three-year long tantrum claiming that the biggest things on that list were being conservative or liking guns. In fact, you KEEP claiming that is a big thing on the list – except when you claim Twitter is out to get you.

Weird you didn’t take your own advice when it comes to people you most identify with but for black people, you think it might just be a bit too all off-putting for them if people take racism seriously? Are you saying your rants about political bias were actually an attempt to make writing look ‘extra daunting and insurmountable’ to conservatives? If so…um, good job, maybe? That is one freaky giant SJW-double-bluff, agent-comrade Correia!

But you know what IS off-putting to people trying to make it in the business? When they have to put up with racist shit from the people you promote. Whether it is Brad Torgersen dismissing people as ‘affirmative action’ picks, pretending that they didn’t struggle just as hard if not harder to get where they are. Or whether it is your friend Vox Day saying of one of the most stunning writers I’ve read this decade “She’s the token African-American. She’s a diversity totem.” Or whether it is you repeatedly dismissing anybody trying to do stuff that IN NO WAY HARMS YOU OR YOUR CAREER but will boost the chances of people who have been repeatedly discriminated against.

I don’t know what bugs Larry so much about this but bug him it does. What I do know is Republicans and conservatives who were not overt racists have been saying similar things for years and [wow, who would have believed it!] they now find that their party has been hijacked by the outright  bigots they’ve spent years making excuses for.

The Puppy Axis Returns: Part 3 Apparently

In what is rapidly turning into a meandering multi-part discussion of the Fireside report and the reaction of assorted Puppies to it.

Part 1, and Part 2, …

In between my last post on the topic and working on the response to Larry Correia’s Puppysplaining, I popped over to Mad Genius Club to see if anybody there had anything to say.

As it happens Cedar Sanderson has an interesting post on sexism in publishing which touches on some similar issues and then overtly links to Larry Correia’s post. I’m not saying Cedar’s post doesn’t make some of the same errors as Larry’s or Brad’s but it is infinitely less annoying because she doesn’t adopt that I’m-going-to-tell-you-all-what-to-think style of Larry and Brad.

There are two elements I want to pick out because I think they are interesting:

  • Firstly, she suggests (and I’ll assume for the sake of argument that she is correct) that many agents and editors in publishing are women. Cedar asks “Can women be biased against women? Why not?”
  • Secondly, she echoes a sentiment that we will see from Larry – that indie and self-publishing cuts out the gatekeepers and hence problem solved.

Cedar wonders if the first issue is explained by reverse sexism but let’s apply Ockham’s razor again: sexism is probably best explained by sexism and racism is probably best explained by racism. The conceptual problem that we keep seeing from Puppy quarters is that those two terms tend to be interpreted in only one way i.e. sexism is seen as something a sexist does and a sexist has to be some sort of overt misogynist, while racism is seen as something a racist does and a racist has to be some sort of cartoonish KKK supporter.

In reality, neither is the case. Both sexism and racism are perpetuated by nice people, who try to be good and may even hold quite progressive views. And for exhibit A we have good old Brad Torgersen – a man who I am sure doesn’t regard himself as a racist.

See, here’s the thing. The market always wins. Always. Doesn’t matter how brave or bold your posturing may be. If your book, or your movie, or your album, doesn’t have enough “there” there, you can hang a million virtue-signals on the thing — dress it up like a damned social justice christmas tree — and the audience is going to give you a big, whopping, “Meh.” And it’s not because the audience is secretly homophobic or misogynistic or racist. It’s because the audience is tired of being sermonized, and cannot be commanded to vote (with its collective wallet) for something it doesn’t want to vote for.

Now there is nothing semantically racist or sexist in anything he said there. Yet it pretty much explains Cedar’s question of how there can be so much apparent sexism when women are at least at one stage of the gatekeeping. Brad hits the thumb squarely on the head while aiming for the nail. Most industries are risk averse and publishing and entertainment are no different – one reason why there are so many sequels at your movie theatre. The pressure on employees in an industry is also to be risk averse. As nobody knows what the magic ingredients to popularity are (or they keep changing or both) that means superficial or cosmetic qualities are often (and unconsciously) used as proxies. That makes this ‘market wins’ attitude both dulling (i.e. we keep getting crappy tired movies following the same nutty-nugget formula) but also RESISTANT TO SOCIAL CHANGE. Note, when I say resistant to social change, I don’t mean resistant to changes that will happen in the future but resistant to changes that have already happened or are happening.

The market simply doesn’t know best because of a classic failing condition for markets: poor information. Gatekeepers relying on sticking with worked in the past and also factoring in the prejudices they believe their audience have. The latter is particularly pernicious and includes examples as the pinkification and gender segmentation of toys.

So yes, publishing can be institutionally sexist even if the industry employs a lot of women and it can be institutionally racist even if it employs lots of people who would be horrified to be thought of as racist. There is a word for it: bias. Bias doesn’t need to be conscious or deliberate but it is something that requires a conscious effort to fix.

Cedar’s second point is fine as far as it goes. Self-publishing/indie publishing can remove one set of gatekeepers. However, the idea that the problem is therefore solved is laughable. Sure self-publishing means even my imaginary self-deluded cat can publish a book but nobody at Mad Genius would suggest for a second that simply getting it published is the only obstacle.

Writing in the first place is an obstacle. Imagining that a writer is something you can be is an obstacle (again look at the many good articles at Mad Genius on this). However, getting read by people is also an obstacle. Promotion is an obstacle and getting noticed is an obstacle. The gatekeepers in these areas don’t have the kind of quasi-monopolistic power that editors at a big publisher do but they exist nonetheless. Don’t believe me? Then just think about how much the people at Mad Genius have wailed and railed and complained about Worldcon voters over the past couple of years – and Worldcon voters are just a tiny section of fandom with limited power and no single set of opinions.

Yes, the monopolies of big publishing are not what they were but that is only a fraction of the story. Indie and self-publishing solve some problems but it amounts to swapping some hard barriers to many more softer (and more porous) barriers with the same issues.