A Voyage Round The Kerfuffle Sea While Watching Star Wars 7

mapofthepuppykerfuffleV0.4I linked to a positive review of the new Star Wars by Brad Torgersen in my last round-up and over at File770 I was discussing John C Wright’s negative review.

There seems to be a real difference of opinion on the film that divides between Sad and Rabid and I’m wondering to what extent a major SF event such as Star Wars says about SF as a whole. To that end I hopped into my memetic boat, put the cat into a life-vest and set sail again.

Continue reading “A Voyage Round The Kerfuffle Sea While Watching Star Wars 7”

The Puppy Kerfuffle: Winners and Losers

No, not a Hugo Awards reviewer but a reviewer of the extended art installation/interactive game/aesthetic stoush/book rebellion/fandom vandalisation known as the Puppy Kerfuffle.

My summation of the winners and losers in the whole thing – ignoring, of course, the actual winners and losers of the Hugo Awards.


Alexandra Erin: http://www.alexandraerin.com/ her playful and insightful parody puppy reviews of classic children’s books was one of the most entertaining part of what was an often bitter and unpleasant conflict. I am sure she has gained fans and it certainly lead me to read her published stories.

File 770: http://file770.com/ The daily Puppy Roundups were not only a must read for anybody following the kerfuffle but the comment section was both lively and creative – spawning its own subculture.

Philip Sandifer: http://www.philipsandifer.com/ Sandifer’s blog spawned the oddly friendly Sandifer-Vox Day debate http://www.philipsandifer.com/2015/06/the-vox-day-interview-transcript.html but also carried one of the strongest and most insightful accounts of the controversy: http://www.philipsandifer.com/2015/04/guided-by-beauty-of-their-weapons.html

Multiple bloggers: Spacefaring Kitten https://sfkittens.wordpress.com/, Lis Carey http://www.liscareyslibrary.com, Rebekah Golden http://rebekahgolden.com/ , Tegan Gjovagg http://realtegan.blogspot.com/2015/07/hugo-blatherings.html … and many others (apologies to people I’ve left off) who bravely read then reviewed multiple works of dubious quality.

Vox Day: sad to say. Day’s strategy (probably) was to help promote his vanity publishing house whilst trying to estbalish the niche market it was intended to serve. Day had already burnt all his bridges to wider fandom so all the negative publicity was simply net publicity. Whether his publishing enterprise will be a commercial success is another question but the Puppy Kerfuffle won’t have done it any harm.

Eric Flint: http://www.ericflint.net/ A series of insightful posts on the conflict enabled him to position himself both as an outsider to the supposed ‘establishment’ and a powerful critic of the Puppy campaign.

John Scalzi: http://whatever.scalzi.com/ as the key Puppy-Hate figure, Scalzi stayed classy (on the whole)

Worldcon: While it is unclear what the financial impact of all the additional supporting memberships is, and it is unclear who these new members are and how they may vote/nominate in 2016, the net gain in numbers is likely to be overall positive.

Marko Kloos, Annie Bellet: Gained kudos by withdrawing their work but gained publicity as well.


Tor Publishing: http://www.tor.com/ The Gallo-Affair was a distraction and helped mobilize (briefly) the Puppy’s to Vox Day’s agenda. Tor’s reaction was initially very poor and looked very much like letting Gallo take the blame. The Puppy/not-Puppy-honestly boycott was ridiculous and probably helped Tor by making many people who felt let down by their initial response act more favorably towards the publisher.

Baen Publishing: http://www.baen.com/ All publicity is good publicity but much of what was Puppy nominated that was also Baen published was of poor quality. Putting your weaker publications out to a wide, influential and critical audience is unwise.

Larry Correia: http://monsterhunternation.com/ Correia had started the whole Sad Puppy process but stayed away from the fray (on the whole) in this most controversial cycle.

Kary English: Perhaps the strongest Puppy nominated author, English had a difficult time trying to steer a course between the multiple viewpoints. I think, on the whole, that she came up on top.


Mad Genius bloggers: http://madgeniusclub.com/ some of the oddest, least well thought through and overwrought posts appeared here. Perhaps the assorted group of writers solidified their fanbase but it is hard to see that they would have found a new audience.

John C Wright: http://www.scifiwright.com/ A talented writer but who used the Puppy process as a platform for some very odd views and whose slated works were notably weak and inconsistent.

Michael Z. Williamson: Williamson had written at least one decent short story in 2014 but any positive qualities he may have as a writer were overshadowed by the nomination of what is widely regard as the worst thing ever to be nominated for a Hugo Award. Wisdom from my Internet was so awful as to be the ultimate evidence of how appalling Sad Puppies 3 was as an exercise. Additionally the attention from this nomination just drew people’s attention to some of the nasty things he was posting on Facebook under the excuse of ‘humor’.

Peter Grant: http://bayourenaissanceman.blogspot.com.au/ A man so keen on joining the Puppy campaign that he started his own side campaign – a quixotic boycott of Tor books. It is hard to see what, if anything, Grant has gained. As a principled stand it seemed to be deeply confused – it required him to assert that he was a puppy (so Gallo’s comments applied to him) but then assert that he wasn’t a puppy so that he could claim that the boycott was not a puppy campaign.

Brad Torgersen: https://bradrtorgersen.wordpress.com/ The tragic protagonist of the whole tale. Torgersen repeatedly defended the Puppy campaign even when the criticism was aimed at Rabid Puppies. He then tried to make clear the distinction between the two campaigns but continued to conflate criticism of the Rabid Puppies (and Vox Day) with criticism of him and his campaign. Despite some later more insightful posts, he failed to acknowledge that there was any issue worth discussing with his actions. Unfortunately he will ever be associated with this strange period in the Hugo history – as a vandal of something people loved rather than as a writer.

Mash-ups on io9

Thanks, I suspect, to the brilliant Doctor Seuss/Lord of the Rings mashup by file 770 contributor Kyra, the recent classic SF redone as classic literature thing that happened has been picked up by io9. http://io9.com/moby-dick-meets-ringworld-and-other-great-literary-mas-1715290789

The File 770 post: http://file770.com/?p=23490

My version of 1984


It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him. “Wait – isn’t this a science fiction novel already?” he thought as he entered the hallway that smelt of boiled cabbage and old mats. “I thought the idea was to transpose SF/F novels onto classic literature” he pondered as he passed the huge coloured poster, too large for indoor display, that had been tacked to the wall. It depicted simply an enormous face, more than a metre wide: the face of a man of about forty-five, with a heavy black moustache and ruggedly handsome features.

Then he recalled the work he had done that day – excising the lies S.J.W. Goldstein had somehow snuck into the library catalogues of Oceania. He tried hard to focus on the today’s truth. 1984 was literary fiction not science fiction and always had been…

On n-grams and Corpus America

The background is too hard to explain but somebody had to do this and I believe the task must lie with me.

Graphs of the n-grams of ‘Steve’ and ‘Stanley’ in the general Google Corpus 1800 to 2000


And using the American English corpus.



Transfering a vote

May Tree: I have a Hugo voting related question for anyone in the know. The vote is done by “Instant Runoff Voting” — is that essentially the same thing as Single Transferable Vote

[From here: http://file770.com/?p=23214#comments ]

Yes and no. Alternative Vote (instant run off) and Single Transferable Vote have a lot in common in terms of process. The difference is how many people you are electing (or works choosing in the case of the Hugos).

  • AV uses a preference system to pick one person out of several.
  • STV uses a preference system to pick SEVERAL people out of a larger set.

AV basically ensures that people can vote for less popular choices and still have their vote count when it comes down to picking between the two most popular candidates. So it lets minority parties exist (so to speak) but doesn’t guarantee that they will win any seats. In the US it would mean a Green Party or some sort of Tea Party Party could stand in an election and people could vote for them first and then another party second that stood more chance of actually winning.

STV makes is more likely that the final results over a large set of elections (e.g. a parliament, or congress) are proportional to the votes cast. So, in the US, you might have a bigger congressional area and at an election 3 or 4 congresspeople would get elected for that one area in one single election. If the constituency was approximately 25% Green, 25% Democrat and 45% Republican and 5% File770Commenters then the end results might be 2 Republicans, 1 Green and 1 Democrat get elected for a four seat constituency.

Applying that all to the Hugos could sort of be done by a two stage nomination process:

  • Do a long list of nominations based on some basic percentage cut-off (say every nominated work with more than 1% of all nominations)
  • Use STV to pick the top 5 nominees in each category (so categories are like constituencies, and books etc are like candidates.

The obvious downsides is that this is a more involved process, it requires even more voting and may not work very well if participation is low.

Mad physics

In a discussion on File 770 I was rude about the physics of faster-than-light travel while defending some of the madness of Doctor Who’s Kill the Moon episode and commenter “ccm” replied:

FTL spaceships? Hah! What about a freakin Time Machine that can grow and jettison rooms as needed, produce pretty much anything you need, can travel anywhere and anywhen with no concerns about fuel, weight, etc….and seems to be some kind of living creature as well.

Well fair point.

But I still think that FTL drives are as bad and in someways the madness of whovian physics makes more sense. The absurdity of the Who reality is a kind of realistic realism.

Now that will require some justification.

Continue reading “Mad physics”

A rant about puppies born of frustration

A prelude to the post: I had been thinking about a few blog projects to try [a mathsy/stats/logic thing, a book review with politics thing, a stupid reactive-fiction-author-as-character thing] when the Puppy Kerfuffle began and I found I was commenting on the ‘net again having taken a sanity-hiatus for awhile. So as some comments on other people’s blogs got longer I thought I’d revive my blog plans and do all of them at once. So some posts here are essentially long-form blog comments i.e. when what I needed to say was longer than is sensible for a blog comment I will write it here or it will morph into something else altogether. In this sense the blog is parasitical.cheesepups

A reasonable person who is sympathetic to the Sad Puppy side posted a comment at File 770 on Puppy reactions to recent issue. I haven’t written a post on the recent Irene Gallo controversy because others have said everything that needed saying far more eloquently. However, I did channel some angst here. Nothing personal intended toward my correspondent. Oh! and it is worth reading Jim Hines catalog of puppy comments here before proceeding to get what I’m going on about.

Andrew P: I think, at the beginning, there were quite a few of us on the SP side of things willing to at least try and have something resembling an honest rational discussion. I’ve posted on more than a couple of threads here who I nominated and why.
I think many of the immediate reactions after the nominations were announced sent some people away. The ew.com and other articles sent most everyone else away, and the last straw for the majority of those left was Gallo’s post.

Well I can see why a diverse group of people would be upset by being painted with a broad brush on the basis of Vox Day’s involvement but…yeah…well we are straight back to the rank hypocrisy thing – Puppies of all stripes painting an even broader group with broad brushes both before the nominations and after.

And look there in your own comment – EW and Irene Gallo aren’t somehow spokespeople for the whole of the set of not-puppies. In makes no sense for Brad T to complain about his position being confused with Vox Day’s position and then conflate critics of his campaign together without making any clear distinctions (who are the puppy-kickers, who are the CHORFs or whatever?).

Massive double standards are a major impediment to a dialogue. If I stretch my empathy muscles and think “I can see why puppy supporters would be upset by X” then I can’t help but notice the corresponding reaction.

Secondly the incredible shifting sands of what-puppies-is-all-about. If a prominent puppy says it is X and then people say Puppies-was-about-X, a different prominent puppy then says how-dare-they-say-it-is-about-X-it-was-never-about-X. It is about ideology and then no it isn’t about ideology, it is about puppies seeing past awards as affirmative-action-for-women and no it isn’t about gender or diversity (and how dare people ever suggest it is), it is about pulp-v-literary fiction and no that is a terrible lie by a journalist (but, but Brad just said…), it is about getting crossover parts of the genre like romance-SF involved, no it is the exact opposite it is about keeping SF pure and all blue-SF etc etc.

And no, it is not a problem that a general movement has internal disagreements but…those aren’t INTERNAL disagreements. When I visit the assorted puppy strongholds of the web there is nothing (or very little) in terms of one prominent puppy saying the other is wrong about X or Y. John C Wright doesn’t say Brad T or Larry C is wrong about the pulp thing. No, it is all directed OUTWARDS. We (i.e. the people who who have ever said anything on the issue and aren’t aligned with puppies) are somehow all wrong about what puppies is all about.

So what can I conclude other than puppies isn’t about anything?