Not another chapter today. There will be a short pause, which I’ll explain shortly. First though, I’ll give you all a sense of what’s coming up.
We are about mid-way through Part 1: Beginnings. There are six chapters go and the finally chapter brings things to 2010 and catches up with all the players we’ve met at the end of the first decade (or start of the second depending). The chapter after next one, will be the Larry Correia origin story, followed by the first book review chapter looking at Monster Hunter International. I’ll then swerve off course into our first Meanwhile chapter which will look at the Iraq War, Marriage Equality fights and the election of Barack Obama with comments and perspectives from the characters we’ve met so far (also the flippin’ Global Financial Crisis which, oddly, was less talked about). From there, an even more huge diversion into RaceFail2009 in the second Meanwhile chapter. Diversions all done, we close with 2010 with the boards all set up and all the pieces in place [for Wagner fans, Part 1 is like Das Rheingold, all the best tunes are in the next opera].
If you read the outline I posted on February 2, you will notice that a chapter got skipped between the Vox Day chapter and the SFWA chapter. So a couple of things about that chapter:
The plan was to have a chapter looking at Tor and Baen up to mid-2000s along with ebooks and Amazon etc. As soon as I started pulling notes together for that chapter it was obvious that the right story to write was a biography of Jim Baen. It covers Tor, Baen Books, Tom Doherty, Hugo Awards and innovations like ebooks, fan engagement and (sadly) has a distinct conclusion in 2006 with Jim Baen’s untimely death. Of course Jim Baen himself had zero to do with the Puppy Kerfuffle but the nature of influential figures is that they cast a long shadow.
Now, as it stands, it is definitely not a hit piece or an attack on Jim Baen but…yeah, I’m going to give it a week. I will add a disclaimer and I don’t think somebody reading it in good faith will see it as an attempt to malign him. However, in the circumstance and given how certain former Puppies regard me, I’ll wait until next week before posting it.
This is just some background for the next Debarkle chapter looking mainly at Baen (that was always the plan, prior to recent events – I’d already started the chapter).
Looking at story categories, Tor Books has had 106 works as Hugo finalists. ISFDB lists “10038 publications not in a publication series” for Tor. Baen Books has had 12 works as finalists (including stories from Jim Baen’s Universe) and according to ISFDB “3758 publications not in a publication series“. The ISFDB entry numbers is a very rough way to get a sense of the relative volume of the two publishers, particularly as the ISFDB listing will include works republished that were originally published by different publishers. Even so, the hit rate for Tor is proportionally higher but not vastly so. If I cut off the Hugo numbers at 2013 to remove the Sad Puppy influence and backlash, as well as the Tor.com novella explosion, Tor has had 55 finalists and Baen has had 10. So about 5 times the number of finalists but about 2.7 times the amount published — again, a better hit rate than Baen but not so much bigger as to think Baen had a particular disadvantage.
The numbers are a bit too fuzzy to be sure I’m not comparing apples and chromebooks. More of a sanity checks. Any ideas of tightening that up as a comparison?
The rules for the Nebula Award have changed over time but at the point of time we have reach (the middle of the first decade of the 21st century), the process to select the finalists included both a nomination phase by members of the SFWA and also a jury. Each category had a jury which had the power to add an additional work to the list of finalist, so that works of note that might otherwise have been missed could be part of the final vote. The juries were drawn made up of SFWA members appointed by the President.
In 2005 Vox Day (as Theodore Beale) was included in a Nebula Award jury for the second time having previously served on the jury for Best Novelette. Coincidentally, over at his World Net Daily column in February 2005 he also touched on his thoughts about science fiction in a column provocatively entitled, Why Women Can’t Think. Day’s target in the column was feminist academics but also suggests women are weaker academically:
Cat Rambo has an unsurprisingly insightful essay on the Baen’s Bar mess:
“I am so tired of this argument, which so often gets used by people who have, indeed, fought the good fight but somewhere along the line also acquired the idea that only people who’ve gotten punched in the face for speaking get to talk. That’s what underlies someone talking about “swooning” or “pearl-clutching” and don’t even get me started on some of the gender stuff that gets draped onto that rhetoric like a six year old putting tinsel on a Christmas tree.”
Well worth a read but it also made me think of showing pictorially what was wrong with some of what Eric Flint said. I keep circling back to the kinds of stuff actual white supremacist murderers have posted on line, like the Christchurch murderer making jokes about the Spyro the Dragon video game in a manifesto calling for a race war. Flint is literally deluded about there being a common sense way of spotting real threats from jokes.
The delusion is that there’s a nice clear distinction between the two (or at worst a small overlap) so that there’s a nice clear point or zone where a moderator can step in and outlaw the truly bad stuff from the innocent jokes or just-arguing-hypotheticals etc. It is an utterly wrong headed perspective that is literally helping violent people organise online.
I thought this illustration might help. The ‘moderate here’ line is intended to be the point where you can be pretty confident that all the bad stuff gets moderated. I call the bottom one ‘reality’ but even that is an idealised situation and doesn’t reflect how broad genuine threats can be.
For those that don’t know, Facebook has started blocking some news services in Australia as a protest/reaction to new media laws from the Australian government. Some of the current fall-out is explained here
It is worth pointing out that there are no good guys here. The media laws demanding that Google and Facebook pay for the news content that they profit off are primarily a product of lobbying from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. They appear to me to be clumsy and potentially disruptive to users other than Facebook and Google but I’m no expert. On the other hand Facebook is awful. It’s a battle between the interest of a news conglomerate that has spent decades spruiking hate versus a social media company that has help fuel at least one genocide.
Also, Facebook attempting to bully a national government is not atypical behaviour for international corporations but is also appalling. Notably, Google appear to have backed down and is negotiating with media companies to share some of the revenue. In a broader perspective, having news companies continue to create content is in the long-term commercial interest of both Google and Facebook.
A curious fact about Vox Day is that in his list of the 10 greatest novels, his number two pick is Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco. Not only that, it is a novel he has mentioned several times and Eco is one of his favourite authors and one he has made the effort to read in Italian. He has a particular reason for liking it more than Eco’s other novels:
“Perhaps my subscription to the conspiracy theory of history is one reason I rate Foucault’s Pendulum so highly, but I stand firmly by my high regard for Eco.”
If you haven’t read the book, it is a long and complex work. Central to the story is a group of editors at an Italian publishing house who cynically create a conspiracy theory (lumping in the Templars, the Holy Grail etc) using a computer to spew out random, unconnected claims but then get caught up in their own deception. By then end of this saga I’m calling Debarkle, Vox Day would have made himself the chief editor of his own publishing house and would be heavily promoting a conspiracy theory sourced from random statements on an anonymous web forum. On the way Vox Day will promote extreme ideas in particular about women, race and immigration.
Like the proceeding chapter, this chapter will follow Vox up to around the mid-2000s. From there, the rest of the story (as far as it is relevant) will be carried in the main chapters as various characters react to events. I will be drawing on three main sources and any unreferenced statement will be either my opinion or drawn from one of these:
It is a text book example of using “free speech” as an excuse to avoid talking about what was being said. Barb’s Bar is not a “free speech” forum and does not claim to be. It is a moderated forum and the publishing house had limited what people have said in the past.
Notably, Larry Correia also moderates and limits the range of discussions on his fan sites on Facebook and MeWe. Notably there is a “no boogaloo” policy designed to limit discussion advocating violent insurrection in the USA.
There’s also there’s something of a false-flag two-step in the comments (aka the old line of nobody did anything bad and we support what they did and anyway the bad things were done by outsiders who are secret leftists etc etc).
Well the Pups certainly strung that electoral defeat out for as long as possible. Vox Day is beginning to adjust but is also now suggesting that the big-secret-q-plan might come into fruition 10 days from now:
“it is going to be extremely amusing if “10 days of darkness” turns out to be a reference to how long Biden is permitted to pretend he is President.”
It is the 20th here but still a day to go in the USA before Joe Biden is sworn in and the 2020 US Presidential Election manages to be over. Trump’s post-defeat tantrums have only made a bad reputation worse.
Yet that rump of Americans who adore Trump are not yet disenchanted. The wider group of right wingers who share the same antipathies but didn’t attach those feeling to Trump (the Brads & Larrys) are also equally entrenched in their belief that a Democratic presidency marks some kind of end times.
Is there any sign that they have come to terms with Trump’s defeat yet? It is early days but the sure signs of when the right shifts gears is when the rhetoric turns back to how-bad-the-defecit-is and hysterical claims about caravans of refugees at the southern border.
Popular among the right-wing sources I track is the pooh-poohing of the idea that there is any danger of pro-Trump/anti-Democrat violence. This may seem remarkable given this month’s events or indeed just from their rhetoric about “the ammo box” being the only “box” left to them (the line being that the left has stolen the soap box, ballot box and jury box). This dissonant pairing isn’t new — the right have been in denial about far-right violence for years and yet, at the same time, keen to claim that any progressive policies run the danger of pushing the right into armed insurrection.
With the 6 January Capitol riot, you can track the competing narratives from days before the event. The two narratives were expressed as the protests being righteous anger at the “steal” versus violence created by antifascist infiltrators. Immediately prior to 6 Jan, the line was that any violence would be because of “antifa” trying to make the Trump supporters look bad. On the day itself, there were competing claims. On the one hand, people already primed to blame any bad news on antifa and on the other, many on the right genuinely excited by events and hence keen to claim it for the right. Since then, as the attempted coup turned out not to be popular with wider America, the narrative has shifted back to “it’s the left who are the violent ones”.