Sad Puppies, Post-Hugo Blues & Loose Genitalia…

The events of last week’s Hugo Awards reminds me of one friday night long ago at the hotel I work at.

Five guests–three guys, two gals–piled out of a taxi and proceeded to make my evening hellish. They had been out drinking. They chanted and bellowed as they came into reception and laughed in my face when I asked for quiet. I had to physically prevent one man from banging on stranger’s doors, presumably for the hell of it. Matters reached a crescendo when another of the men produced his flaccid penis and started waving it about (a surprisingly common occurrence in the weekend hotel game) much to the delight of his comrades.

At this point I threatened to call the police and have them thrown out. The change in the guests’ demeanour was sudden and profound, but not in any way you might think.

sad puppy

Their leader, Mr Penis, began to admonish me. That night, it turned out, was the last night he, his brother (Mr Door-Banger) and his sister-in-law would spend together before the latter two moved to Canada. One of the two women actually started to sob on the other woman’s shoulder and I’ve this stark mental image of the other woman’s face, scowling at me like I’d perpetrated the most cold-blooded atrocity.

What left me speechless was that none of them were putting it on (trust me, I can tell drunk acting):  they genuinely believed themselves hard done by, victimized even. Anyway, they did as I asked. They also tried to get their money back the next morning.

The spectre of that enchanted evening arises each time I read a blog post, tweet or comment by almost everyone affiliated with the Sad Puppies campaign now the awards are over and they got beaten in almost every category. That same incomprehensible shift in mood from mocking hilarity to headmasterly admonishment permeates each line.

Because, well, many a Sad Pup will laugh and tell you they did win actually, because losing proved their point:  the Hugo Awards are a cliquey charade of left-wing scolds and now, courtesy of the Pups, the whole world can see. Excepppt…

…except the Puppies are also outraged. Outraged and, yes, hurt (much like Free Willy and his pals I mentioned above) because many hardworking and talented professionals had lost, ending up below ‘No Award’, simply for the crime of being nominated by the Sad Puppies. The same Sad Puppies who, I’m sure you’ll remember from a paragraph ago, were set on mocking the Hugos as a cliquey charade.

And that, in effect, is the incoherent paradox of Puppydom, generally speaking. To toe that campaign’s line, it would seem, one has to hold two irreconcilable beliefs simultaneously.

A: ‘The Hugo Awards have become a worthless, self-regarding leftwing joke and the best way to highlight that is to show it up with a joke of our own.’

And:

B: ‘They’re are many authors, editors and artists worthy of a Hugo but who are criminally overlooked due to their politics. We shall move as one to bring voters attention to them.’

While these two beliefs aren’t antithetical they’re far from complimentary. The Hugos are to be loudly mocked yet they are also to be struggled for in earnest. The Sad Puppies have never been able to square that rhombus. Not in any way which might persuade the common-all-garden SF fan.

These two near-opposing aims somehow functioned well enough before last weekend’s awards but, post-results, they’re beginning to curdle alarmingly. Just Google it, just scan the relevant hashtags. It’s a pile-up. Yes, there’s a cheap pleasure in watching the victory dance of a people willing themselves triumphant against all the facts, one gilded by their simultaneous claims of maltreatment, but I can’t imagine it’s a dance that’s comfortable to perform. Try tapping your head and rubbing your belly. Now try doing both those things as a blog post.

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Impossible, to make sense of the surface detail when it is so rich with sound and fury, with light and heat. A cool head must reach for the scalpel and pull back the subcutaneous, inspect viscera unseen. What is it, exactly, that fuels the Puppish hysteria?

For my money, the 2015 Hugo Awards are an excellent snapshot of the early 21st century, oddly similar to those Victorian daguerreotypes of a horse in full gallop against a gridded backdrop. In this telling snapshot (the ‘decisive moment’ as photographic legend Henri Cartier Bresson called it) we see a backdrop of unstoppable globalism foregrounded by a China about to leap upwards (qv, Liu Cixin’s Three Body Problem, winner of the Hugo Novel category) and a Middle America in descent (witness the Puppies’ open anger and subconscious fright).

And that, for all the S.P’s talk of a return to ‘good old fashioned storytelling’ and  ‘ray guns and spaceships’, is what its movement dearly desires:  certainty. Just like in the old days of Campbell and Gernsback. But certainty is the one thing the 21st century, in all its ragged and ever-accelerating glory, has no power to give.

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One symptom of being a chronic certainty-nuzzler is, of course, to forever see the world in black and white, manichaean terms. So far, I haven’t read a single Sad Puppies blog post that refers to a middle ground within the Hugos’ wide electorate. Everyone with a Hugo vote is either a fair-minded individual (i.e. a Puppy), a social justice warrior or a ‘useful idiot’ of same. Witness…

“And what’s even sadder is this pathetic collection of power-hungry little Hitlers have destroyed what was once a genuinely respected award. “

Such is the outlook Kate Paulk, author, blogger and leader-apparent of Sad Puppies 2016 (Buckle yourselves in, folks!). A baroque example, admittedly, but at heart fairly typical of the SP campaign’s disconnect from the reality on the ground. To Paulk, if you didn’t use your vote like the SP’s told you then you were in lockstep with the shadowy cabal of mean, hissy-fitting SJWs/Communists/Decepticons. No excuses.

The idea most Hugo voters were motivated not by politics but by a wish to stick it to a bunch of pompous gits intent on ruining a much-loved event is not even laughable to Paulk. It’s more like she cannot even register the fact. To vote unpuppish was to be a… I dunno… a Stalin clone in a test tube or something. You were willing to burn the ground and salt your loins rather than let anyone else have it.

Any glance at 2015’s winners dispels this garish canard. How, for instance, would a mass ‘SJW hissy fit’ explain that win in the fan writer category, Laura Mixon’s takedown of a troll who hid their psychopathology behind a mass of faux social justice rhetoric?  Surely a lockstep leftie march would have crushed that eventuality before it began? Instead the ‘Mixon Report’ won with votes to spare.

And why? Because fandom’s wide and battered middle finally woke up and drew a line in the sand. Against the worst excesses of leftwing hypocrisy on one hand and the most thuggish excesses of right-wing stupidity on the other. Simples.

That’s the overlooked lesson of Hugo 2015 I suspect:  read the awards’ statistical entrails and you can discern the moderate majority- the people who read spec-fic because it gives them that tingly head-feel synonymous with thinking for oneself- have had about enough. Enough of the flag-wavers, enough of the shit-stirrers and the ‘thought-leaders’. My guess is that’s what happens as an online community matures:  the sleeping middle gets a sense of itself. It would be in the Sad Puppies interests to learn how to treat that waking beast with respect. At the very least they should note its very existence.

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24 thoughts on “Sad Puppies, Post-Hugo Blues & Loose Genitalia…

  1. Good that Mixon’s report won, but notable that more than a thousand people preferred to vote “No Award”. That strikes me as a rough measure of RH’s continued support.

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    1. Maybe. Then again, you have to factor people who voted No Award for the entire thing (nuclear option) and, more significantly, people who felt one article/document doth not a Best Fan Writer make. I’ve chatted with people of that bent both online and in meatspace so I’m tempted to think there may be quite a few.

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  2. Very well said. Particularly telling for me was their attachment to Andy Weir’s “The Martian,” and dark accusations about SJWs not liking it–even corruption involved in keeping it off the ballot (sadly, it was ineligible because it was self-published in 2011), followed by dead silence on the fact that had it not been for the slates, one of the Campbell nominees would’ve been… Andy Weir.

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    1. It’s not entirely certain Weir would’ve made the Campbell ballot. If The Martian sold enough copies by the end of 2012, he may have been ineligible (the Campbell eligibility rules are rather vague on self-publication in the current day and age). I do know that the Hugo Administrators told me that if something didn’t ever hit the top five in the category, Campbell included, their eligibility was never checked. So we don’t know if he would’ve been eligible if he had made the ballot

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    1. I was going to say that I want to be a Communist Decepticon. And then I started wondering whether you could read the Decepticon power structure as a metaphor for the early USSR, and whether Lenin makes a good Megatron or what.

      Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be English majors.

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  3. I cannot see why Mixon’s report would have lost given that the subject had made so many enemies on all sides. if Requires Hate had confined her activity to the ideological enemy then maybe she would won a Hugo herself for her brave blog entries.

    another point that you made that I would like to address: perhaps they (the Sad Puppies lobby) wish for morally unchallenging stories but I do not see how in that they differ from the SJ lobby in that regard. a recitation of easily digested truisms like “we like equality” or “the opposition wish to turn us against ourselves”. nice little morals.

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    1. In an age of muted panic all sides cling to safety. What I’d like to see is a writer who truly assaults contemporary genre, in the same way Francis Bacon assaulted the British art world of the fifties. That writer, whatever their background, may well be skulking at the bottom of slush piles like an angler fish in seas depths, but which slush reader has the nerve to pull them up and drop ’em in front of their editor?

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      1. # What Id like to see is a writer who truly assaults contemporary genre,

        Oh yeah, I’d buy that for a dollar! Bring the effin noise.

        But it’s not going to happen, is it? Think of what it would mean. The ideologically dominant force in the genre these days is intersectional feminism, which desperately needs to be critiqued, but which has become a golden calf that no-one dare speak a word against. The community is crammed to the rafters with silverspoon lefties who are out of touch with the common people and who want to agonise over every issue except class (don’t mention the class war, I did once, but I think I got away with it). Among the writers there are too many privileged international-bright-young-things, born in one country, educated in another, now living in a third, who want to guide the genre into being something that only they can write. As they speak twenty languages, and have lived in other countries, and have great educations, they have an inherent advantage in writing ‘international SF’, which we are all told we should be doing. But, if you’re not someone from a rich family who has led an international life then your attempt to do this will be judged ‘wrong’ and you’ll be crucified. This is exactly the game requires_hate was playing and, sad to say it, but many of the better people within the community are playing this game too, though I think without realizing it (RH always knew exactly what she was doing).

        SF has become detached from reality, and that’s bad, because SF is supposed to critique reality. Frankenstein was not a work of leftist utopian fiction, but instead a engagement with the forces active in Mary Shelley’s world. Recent genre forms like Steampunk and New Weird represent a turning away from the ugly world outside our window into escapist nostalgia for golden-ages that never existed, or for grotesqueries that desensitize us to the madness of the world we live in, and so make it bareable. The output shapes the audience, and visa-versa, until the thing being produced is perfectly matched to the people who want it, and there’s little hope of getting them to accept anything new.

        Class haunts science fiction by its absence. Few are discussing what’s going to happen to the working-class when society just doesn’t need them any more. Even cyberpunk never really plunged into the depths of what the coming feudalism is going to look like. For many people in SF it’s not their problem: they expect their children be on the right side of the divide (likely they’re wrong, though the international-bright-young-things are probably the people best positioned to be part of the new globalized oppressor class). This is one of the reasons why the feuding around race and gender is so virulent, the focus must be kept away from class.

        The only reaction we’ve had to all this has been the Sad Puppies, who want to go back to a different kind of escapism. Many of the criticisms of the SF left also apply to the SF right. How many people on the SF right can engage with the decline of the Pax Americana without slipping into jingoist panic? But then, how many people on the SF left can engage with that same phenomenon without revealing themselves as gloating useful idiots for the rising hegamon? SF is still hiding in the jungle of 20th century world politics, having not received, or refusing to accept, the message that the cold war is over. A major rising power in the future will be militant, traditionalist, Islam. Who would dare write about that?

        So, let’s imagine the form of this Mahdi that we hope will come and redeem science-fiction. Let us first agree that it can’t be a straight white man, he’ll be hate-mobbed the second he opens his mouth. After all, Jonathon Ross was hounded from Worldcon for doing/saying things much less offensive than what we’re calling for, and every article I saw about the puppies was very clear to insist that they were ‘mostly white men’: why are we being told that, what conclusions are we being invited to draw? Who in SF would listen for one second to a white guy arguing against 3rd-wave feminist or postcolonial ideology?

        Someone from the old-school feminist ranks, perhaps? No, I don’t think so. Look at how requires_hate’s rhetoric was changing just before she went radio-dark. Suddenly white men are forgotten, and ‘white feminism’ is the enemy. Old-school feminists have, as you have observed, stood up against the more extreme hypocrisies of the new left. No good deed goes unpunished. They are marked for destruction now. We’re going to see a lot of warring on that front in the coming years.

        Intersectional feminists? Well, they are mostly the best candidates for ‘social justice warrior’ status. I don’t think they’ll produce anything useful, aside from stirring up trouble and sending more and more support to Vox Day.

        Perhaps, then, the postcolonial crowd? They’re our ‘diversity’ after all? But they’re not diverse, they all live in each other’s pockets and sing from the same hymnbook, and for a while that hymnbook was swapped out for one written by requires_hate, and they kept singing. What songs will they sing for the next requires_hate? And they’re mostly international-bright-young-things: some may wrap themselves in the national flag, but people back in their home countries would probably find any claim that they’re ‘representitive’ as ridiculous as John Scalzi, who went to a $50,000 dollar-a-year school, claiming to represent modern America. And when they’re angry or in their cups, some of the things they say around race sound familiar and alarming and sinister. To this day I see too many of the genre’s high-profile people-of-color still have an attatchment to requires_hate and her rhetoric.

        What about the LGBT people? This is unquestionably the best hope. Firstly, they have a platform from which they can bite back at anyone who attempts to attack them with ideology: If someone accuses them of something, they can accuse right back. Thus they can speak without too much fear (at least within the SF community). And they’re a multi-polar group, used to building consensus, and I think that is reflected in their language and thought. I’ve never yet heard one of them use terms like ‘straight-splaining’ and then show me their teeth in a fake grin. For now, at least, they mostly seem to want to accept and be accepted, they are not out to seize power in the community. If the next prophet comes from anywhere within the community, it will be from here.

        But I don’t think that the next thing can happen within the community. These people will not listen to a Mahdi, they would throw stones at the prophet. Thus, the thing to do is to create a group outside of the community, an incubator, where something new can grow.

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      2. #as ridiculous as John Scalzi, who went to a $50,000 dollar-a-year school, claiming to represent modern America.

        -I suspect that might be a Rabid/Sad Puppies misrepresentation. I imagine John would have had some kind of scholarship or worked his ass off in some way. He came from a pretty humble background, single working parent etc. Leastways, I spent a week living and working with the guy and he struck me as the kind of person who knows what it is to have to lift the lid off the cistern and flush the toilet by pulling the lever inside because the dodgy landlord hasn’t got off his ass to come around and fix it. An experience I suspect Theodore Beale has never known.

        #To this day I see too many of the genre’s high-profile people-of-color still have an attatchment to requires_hate and her rhetoric.

        Not true. They’re not the homogenous brain-hive you may imagine. Not by a long bloody way. For starters, NK Jemesin is no fan and, last I read, Alyssa Dawn Johnson isn’t exactly sticking a medal on RH either. Even Tempest Bradford is calling Benj’s recent online behaviour ‘hella problematic’; go see the comments of the Jason Sandford post you linked to. During the bad ol’ days of Spool Pidgin and the relevant posts wot I did, I was approached and thanked by two lesser known/budding authors, both of whom were WOC. In fact I’d say RH’s greatest and closest enablers are white, especially nowadays. So, no, big no, can’t agree with you there.

        #Class haunts science fiction by its absence. Few are discussing what’s going to happen to the working-class when society just doesn’t need them any more. Even cyberpunk never really plunged into the depths of what the coming feudalism is going to look like.

        Here I very much agree with you. Much as I enjoy Lightspeed Magazine I don’t see a ‘Minimum Wage Workers And The Long Term Unemployed Destroy Science Fiction’ special issue any time soon (Though I’d be delighted if there were). Partly I think this is because the matter depresses people- you can, in theory, challenge racism and homophobia and raise the general consciousness, but class is deep as the bone and older than Sumeria and is far harder to see and get a hold of in many respects (mind you, we’re both British so it’s our island culture’s Lexx Luthor )- but also, I suspect, there is the problem of being lapped. I definitely feel that one. By the time some trust fund kid’s knocked out another short story, two blog posts and a hundred tweets I’ve only just cleaned up some drunken businessman’s sick from the car park. I’m certain I’m far from alone there and, when you consider the mass accretion of that statistic you get slush piles leaning toward the economically comfortable (That’s not sour grapes speaking, I swear!). I imagine it’s particularly frustrating where, say, race and poverty combine. Working class non-white SF stories are preeetty fuckin’ rare, at least in my reading experience, and that’s a stain on the contemporary genre.

        Speaking as a low-waged, full time night shift worker with an ugly writing addiction, I know I have to grit me teeth and bear it. That’s the way it is. The upside is the little writing victories that *do* happen are all that more golden and tingly.

        #These people will not listen to a Mahdi, they would throw stones at the prophet

        I didn’t order a Mahdi! I just wanted a Francis Bacon! 🙂

        As for Requires Hate, Colum, I’m kinda bored of her. She sucks up too much attention and time, like Vox does too. I’m satisfied she’s been cordoned off as best can be hoped for. Within the community she’s a bunch of sharp rocks but Laura Mixon et al have put a light house beside her so that people can be wary, and a great big bloody Hugo Award kinda ratifies that move. I don’t think they’ll be ‘another Requires Hate’ because there’s so few human beings with the time, money and brain chemistry to spend a decade+ of their one and only life stalking slandering and harrasing strangers because that’s the closest thing they know to human intimacy. She’s clearly ill in some way and that’s a tragedy- being born that person would be a shit deal of the cards, now I think about it. I’d rather be any one of her victims- and as a community we have to bear her weight, which essentially means keeping an ear out for people who report nasty encounters. And I say this as someone she’s tried to paint as the Caligula of the UK convention scene and has allegedly badmouthed to editors and the like. Good luck to her in her writing and her general life but I can’t be arsed to expend neuron-fires on such a waste of time. Same for Vox Day. I’ve shit I want to do and those two clowns are mere distractions. Onwards and upwards, mate. Onwards.

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      3. # #as ridiculous as John Scalzi, who went to a $50,000 dollar-a-year school, claiming to represent modern America.

        # -I suspect that might be a Rabid/Sad Puppies misrepresentation.

        It’s right there on his wikipedia page.

        # I imagine John would have had some kind of scholarship or worked his ass off in some way.
        # He came from a pretty humble background, single working parent etc.

        Then I find it very surprising that he claims “white male is the lowest difficulty setting”. This statement demonstrates a complete ignorance of class, an inability to even see that it exists. It’s a statement that claims all white males are alike, are equally privileged, and that it’s them against anyone else. The existence of any division of privilege between two white men totally blows the argument out of the water. I find it hard to see how anyone who didn’t live in a middle-class or upper-middle-class bubble wouldn’t realize this. It was exactly this ignorance, incidentally, that again drove many ppl in SF to support requires_hatnd. ecause as a woman-of-color she had to be the underdog, even though it was obvious she was from a fabulously wealthy background.

        I have no problem with people being from a fortunate background and having an ‘unfair’ start in life, btw, those are the breaks. What I have a problem with is when they invent an ideology that allows them to hide from this, and attack those already less fortunate than themselves, and drive those people out of the game. This is exactly what RH was doing, and it’s what a lot others are doing, whether they completely realize it or not.

        # Leastways, I spent a week living and working with the guy and he struck me as the kind of
        # person who knows what it is to have to lift the lid off the cistern and flush the toilet by
        # pulling the lever inside because the dodgy landlord hasnt got off his ass to come around
        # and fix it.

        I’m sure a lot of people from well-off backgrounds still know such things, from their student days or just because they take an interest in the world about them. I remain unconvinced.

        # An experience I suspect Theodore Beale has never known.

        I don’t know whether he has or hasn’t, but I agree that the he’s another Richy-Rich from the clan Mc Rich. SF is full of them. He’s also completely self-serving and manipulative in a way that I don’t think Mr Scalzi is. I think Mr Scalzi believes the things he says, I think for Mr Beale every statement is a tactical play (I will admit to some grudging respect for that, because I think he plays well, but he’s no RH, though I suspect he thinks he is).

        ## To this day I see too many of the genres high-profile people-of-color still have an attatchment
        ## to requires_hate and her rhetoric.

        # Not true. Theyre not the homogenous brain-hive you may imagine. Not by a long bloody way.

        I didn’t say they were homogenous, you’ve misread me. But reading that paragraph I can see why. Firstly, note that I started off talking about the ‘postcolonial crowd’, who I do think are a little homogenous. Then I end by saying that ‘too many’ ‘high profile’ ‘people-of-color’ are still attached to RH. ‘Too many’ is not all (#NotAllPoC). One can be ‘too many’.

        Still, there’s some alignment between what I’m saying, and what you think I’m saying, and I think that’s worth going into. This is a very complex issue and I want to unpack it somewhat:

        The postcolonial crowd are those people in SF who mostly seem to view the world through the lens of the experience of western colonialism, and who often seem to view it as being ‘special’, in the sense that they consider conquest and oppression as being a product of ‘white’ culture or genetics, rather than being a common human misbehavior. Before you say that’s a misrepresentation, I’ve stood up at cons and asked these people point-blank whether they consider imperialism and conquest to be human sins, or just white ones, and almost the whole room of the panel I was attending went with the racist option. These people don’t entirely realize what they’re supporting, they don’t follow it through to its conclusions, but that doesn’t change the consequences. It was always kindof inevitable that they would get completely owned by RH for just this reason.

        It should be noted that the postcolonial crowd has a lot of white members, though I’d say some of those are kindof tourists. But unfortunately, although the postcolonial crowd has white members, I don’t see many siginficant voices-of-color right now who aren’t somewhat committed to the ideology, (I may be looking in the wrong places) and thus ‘they’re our diversity’ and what I’m saying here does kindof line up with what you think I’m saying when we look at the current situation. One reason for this is SF’s continued… I hate this term for a lot of reasons, but one has to use it sometimes: ‘whiteness’. This causes PoC within fandom, and even more so within the writers, to clump together into an island within the community (this is pretty standard human behavior, I think, though I not totally sure why). Once such an island is established there’s a danger of a kind of groupthink developing, because the members tend to spend a lot of time together, and establish a group worldview, and perhaps get less input from other people than they might. If there’s a strain of ideology that’s dominant on the island, then most people who spend time there are going to catch it. This happens to everyone of course, we all have our social groups, but the difference in this situation is that the group in question 1) somewhat defines itself against the majority 2) is very visible where clumps of majority members are less so. Point 2) means that the group is very noticable to a demogogue who is seeking to establish a foothold in the community. They’re a ready-made batch of followers.

        I don’t see the postcolonial crowd as being able to produce the ‘Savior of SF’ because they’re gripped by another UsVsThem ideology and they have a very narrow worldview. Unfortunately I think they will tend to hoover up new writers-of-color entering the field and convert them by force of numbers and rhetoric. The Mahdi will be someone whose mind is unencumbered by ivory-tower-social-theory. There’s no reason they couldn’t be a PoC, but they won’t be a postcolonial. However, so long as postcolonialism keeps getting its hooks into writers-of-color coming into the field (because it does address issues they are concerned about, just as RH did) I think the chances of it being a PoC are somewhat lowered.

        # For starters, NK Jemesin is no fan and, last I read, Alyssa Dawn Johnson isnt exactly
        # sticking a medal on RH either.

        These are two names I’m not really familiar with. I know of Ms Jemesin through her conflict with Mr Beale, and I did think Ms Johnson was called ‘Alaya’, because I wrote a webserver called ‘alaya’, and I’m sure her name kept popping up when I searched for people referring to it online, but likely I’ve confused her with someone else. I don’t see them as being ‘high-profile’, but that could be an accident of the circles I move in (which are mostly UK based).

        I’m also aware that writers like Cindy Pon, who were her victims, are very unlikely to be fans of Ms Hate. However, again, they are not the people I see being retweeted and paid attention to in the genre. They are not ‘high-profile’.

        And this brings us to another issue in this particular goulash: We need PoC in the community who’ll stand up for the community against the demogoguges who are using race as a weapon. But right now I really question that we have those: among the fans, yes, but among the people who are visible and vocal and thought-leaders (another term I hate), I don’t see it. The reason we need this is that on most issues the community basically decides right and wrong on the basis of the identity of the person speaking (no-one can claim this is a misrepresentation after RH). I see bloggers actually saying that it’s not for them, as a white person, to express any opinion, rather they seek to provide a platform of people-of-color to speak. Well, if so many people are going to surrender their right to an opinion then it really matters what the people who are allowed to speak on a given issue are going to say. This is another thing behind my ‘too many’ comment, because too often I find they say the wrong things, likely because of the dynamics I’ve outlined above.

        # Even Tempest Bradford is calling Benjs recent online behaviour hella problematic;
        # go see the comments of the Jason Sandford post you linked to.

        I already saw it, and it did impress me, because she’s always struck me as someone who wouldn’t change her view: as basically a fantatic. It’s evidence that she’s not. But it’s been a year since the takedown, and all the evidence of the Mixon report, and this is very little movement. I don’t really see it as being significant evidence of a change of mind. Still, I suspect it’s more admission of being wrong than we’ll ever see from Mr Beale.

        There’s other people in the group I’m speaking of who contacted me after the takedown and who have undergone a more profound change of mind. But I suspect their change of worldview is limited to RH herself, and not to the broader question of how they were fooled for so long. Obviously some of these people were pretty heroic during the RH takedown, and I’ve got a fair bit of respect for them. But unless they change their ideology they will remain vulnerable to being mislead again, and their political commitments still rule them out as ‘the Mahdi’.

        # During the bad ol days of Spool Pidgin and the relevant posts wot I did, I was
        # approached and thanked by two lesser known/budding authors, both of whom were WOC.

        Well, that tells you that you were doing the right thing. But just because these ppl were WoC, doesn’t make them members of the ‘postcolonial crowd’, and also isn’t relevant to my ‘too many’ statement. If I say ‘there’s too many wasps about’, you cannot argue against the claim by pointing out any number of honeybees. Also these people are not “high-profile”, and sadly it may be that their lack of commitment to ‘the cause’ might block them from further progress, or might mean that by the time they get to be ‘high profile’ they’ll have been brainwashed as others were before them.

        # In fact I’d say RHs greatest and closest enablers are white, especially nowadays.

        Couldn’t agree more. In fact I suspect we’re both thinking of the same people. (This is something that leads me to consider Ms Hate a little less worrying than I might. Some of the myths about her are scary, but we have evidence that she can get on fine with white people, so likely she’s more bark than bite). But this isn’t relevant to what I said.

        # So, no, big no, can’t agree with you there.

        I think you’ve misunderstood my position. Am I right?

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      4. # Class haunts science fiction by its absence. Few are discussing whats going to happen
        # to the working-class when society just doesnt need them any more. Even cyberpunk
        # never really plunged into the depths of what the coming feudalism is going to look like.

        # Here I very much agree with you. Much as I enjoy Lightspeed Magazine I dont see a
        # Minimum Wage Workers And The Long Term Unemployed Destroy Science Fiction
        # special issue any time soon (Though I’d be delighted if there were).

        There’s lots of issues around that happening. People from the working class don’t generally have the education to be writers, esp. not since university grants were taken away, and they will tend to have a world-view that’s going to clash with that of the SF left, I think. To some extent I can say that’s the case from personal experience. These people are going to look at statements like “White male is the lowest difficulty setting” in the same way that WoC used to look at feminist statements that “All women experience oppression in the same way”. This will not endear them to the SF community.

        # Partly I think this is because the matter depresses people- you can, in theory, challenge
        # racism and homophobia and raise the general consciousness, but class is deep as the
        # bone and older than Sumeria and is far harder to see and get a hold of in many respects

        As you would guess, I don’t agree. Any discussion of class is flatly in contradiction to the worldview of the new left. The new left (by which I mean a left informed by a certain kind of feminism, rather than the old socialist left) doesn’t challenge racism: it is inherently racist itself. requires_hate ran for as long as she did precisely because most people in SF, and in the wider new left, are astonishingly racist. The new-left tells itself “there’s no such thing as racism towards white people, ‘cos privilege” and proceeds to plow an utterly racist furrow. The politics of the 21st century is shaping up to be Daily Mail politics all the way down: a politics of division and hatred where the choice is between which target group you want to hate, and where the concept of a human identity and better world for all has been taken off the table.

        # (mind you, were both British so it’s our island culture’s Lexx Luthor )-

        Yes, we’re obsessed with it, but I think it’s more of a global Cthullu. Class is everywhere, even in places like America that deny it, and it’s about to get much, much worse. The new class divide is between a multinational, multicultural, multi-everything international class of people who speak six languages and have degrees from top universities, and move from country to country in the service of corporate behemoths, and the rest of us, who are undereducated and locked in our own countries and are only skilled for those jobs that are being swiftly automated out of existence. The new oppressor class will be well-versed in the social theory of the new-left, and will use it ruthlessly in their own self-interest (largely because many of them, like RH, will honestly believe that they are the oppressed themselves).

        # but also, I suspect, there is the problem of being lapped. I definitely feel that one.
        # By the time some trust fund kids knocked out another short story, two blog posts and a
        # hundred tweets Ive only just cleaned up some drunken businessmans sick from the car park.
        # I’ m certain I’m far from alone there.

        I agree, but even if you had time on your hands you’d be at a disadvantage. Look at the kind of SF that’s being mostly celebrated right now (or was in recent years, anyway) it’s exactly the SF that an international-bright-young-thing would write. I’m not saying it’s bad SF, nor that there’s anything wrong with people writing it. But it’s another moved goal-post in a class game that locks people without a globetrotting background out of the picture.

        # when you consider the mass accretion of that statistic you get slush piles leaning toward the
        # economically comfortable (Thats not sour grapes speaking, I swear!).

        No, I agree, that’s the situation. But I’ve got nothing against the economically comfortable, these days I’m pretty comfortable myself (I’ve done alright, and I don’t spend money like most people. I don’t buy new clothes or new toys all the time, don’t smoke, don’t really drink, etc, etc, etc. So I tend to have some money behind me). I don’t really resent people having advantages: someone always has an advantage. What I resent is when people invent an ideology that allows them to further leverage those advantages in abusive ways.

        # I imagine its particularly frustrating where, say, race and poverty combine. Working nre.s
        # non-white SF stories are preeetty fuckin rare, at least in my reading experience, and thats
        # a stain on the contemporary genre.

        I totally agree, and this points to another issue. When we speak about women or PoC in the genre, we’re generally speaking about a subset of those groups, I don’t think they’re representitive of the larger group (it’s questionable that any individual can be). The ‘diversity’ of a lot of cultural spaces tends to be the diversity of an expensive, international boarding school. The majority of people are locked out, but all the right boxes get ticked.

        # Speaking as a low-waged, full time night shift worker with an ugly writing addiction,

        I must confess I’m better off. I got into IT and now I work full-time, but in a pretty well-paid programming position. I’m the one of my family that ‘did well’. Still, five years among SF fandom has turned me from someone who thought we were transitioning to a classless society to someone who can’t stop seeing class everywhere I look.

        Right now, for me, the writing addiction is in remission. I was mostly doing it to be ‘part of the club’. Now I don’t feel I want to be part of the club, and I don’t feel fandom is an audience that’s able to honestly engage with anything I say.

        # I didnt order a Mahdi! I just wanted a Francis Bacon! 🙂

        Oh yeah, that’s just what the genre needs, another dead white male. I DENOUNCE YOU!

        # As for Requires Hate, Colum, I’m kinda bored of her.

        I’m not, I never will be. I think she’s very significant, not as an individual but as a study in technique.

        # She sucks up too much attention and time, like Vox does too.

        Hmmm… first name terms? 😉

        # Within the community she’s
        # a bunch of sharp rocks but Laura Mixon et al have put a light house beside her

        Damn, I wish I’d written that.

        # so that people can be wary, and a great big bloody Hugo Award kinda ratifies that move.

        I think you’re very mistaken. She can come back under another fake identity tomorrow. I’m very surprised at how she’s fighting to maintain the ‘Benji’ identity: let’s not forget this person is a mistress of manipulation and sleight-of-mind. Why is she fighting to preserve a lost position? I can only think as a distraction for something that’s happening elsewhere. There’s been a lot of rumblings recently, something is definitely moving below the surface.

        # I don’t think there’ll be another Requires Hate because there’s so few human beings with
        # the time, money and brain chemistry to spend a decade+ of their one and only life stalking
        # slandering and harrasing strangers because thats the closest thing they know to human intimacy.

        Again, I think you’re mistaken. Firstly there’s the issue of global reach. It doesn’t matter if these people are rare, in world where everything is joined up you can always find someone like this. You no longer have to worry about the few predetors in your particular village, but rather with all those in the global village, and even if they’re 0.001 % of humanity, on a global scale that’s a lot of people. A vulnerable community will attract them from half-way around the world, as happened with RH.

        Worse, RH is important because she’s a demonstration of what can be done. Now it’s been shown that you can do this kindof shit, others are going to do it, and they won’t have to reinvent the wheel, they’ve got a working example.

        I’m not the first to argue that she’s a kind of hacker, and the argument ‘there’s few people with the time, skills and inclination’ used to be advanced to claim that people wouldn’t break into information systems. But there’s always someone who will. In truth, this is largely because such systems are poorly protected: people believe it’s tough to break in, so they do no work to protect their systems, so it’s not tough to break in, so they get popped. But even when the barriers to entry are quite high, there’s someone prepared to devote a lot of time to doing it, particularly if the rewards are good (though there’s plenty who’ll do it just ‘4 teh L0l5’).

        In truth, there’s people playing RH’s game all the time, in schools, in work, in any group where there’s a social heirarchy to climb. RH has merely taken the ‘mean girl’ phenomenon (I can’t think of an appropriate genderless term) into the internet age, demonstrating how you can leverage social media and modern ideology to play the game at a higher level. I do think there’s things about the phenomenon that are fairly unique, but they won’t stay so.

        After her, the deluge.

        # She’s clearly ill in some way and thats a tragedy-

        I think I agree with this. I’m not 100% sure because she’s a type of ill that can be argued to be very advantageous. Perhaps conscience is the illness? It’s certainly often a disability.

        # being born that person would be a shit deal of the cards, now I think about it.

        I guessss so. I don’t know. Sociopaths/psychopaths, and I do think those are appropriate terms, are often very happy people. They tend to live in a fantasy world centered on themselves.

        # I’d rather be any one of her victims- and as a community we have to bear her weight,
        # which essentially means keeping an ear out for people who report nasty encounters.

        And if they report nasty encounters with someone other than her? Let’s not forget, a nasty encounter with RH was always couched in the community’s local political language and prejudices, so that the target was believed to have deserved what they got. Do you think that will be any different if someone else starts playing the game? I’m seeing zero evidence of any real recognition in the community of why this happened, and zero evidence of any change of worldview.

        # And I say this as someone shes tried to paint as the Caligula of the UK convention scene

        Most people would kill to be able to put ‘Caligula of the UK convention scene’ after their names 😉 but I know what you mean.

        # and has allegedly badmouthed to editors and the like.

        Ohhh, that’s interesting. After my encounter with her I saw an uptick in editors not responding to my submissions. It could well have been a coincidence, because we’re talking about very low numbers of submissions, let alone failures-to-reply. But how many editors could she get to? What was her reach? How was this done? Do we know?

        # I’ve shit I want to do and those two clowns are mere distractions.

        I hope you’re right, but my suspicion is that you can’t ignore people like this. Maybe you can as individuals, but not as a type. To be honest throughout most of my life there’s been someone like this around, who either blocks me in my endevors or makes my existence hell, because that’s how they maintain their position or advance themselves up the social heirarchy.

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    1. Politics is the art of how to build the world we actually live in. I don’t think it is possible to worldbuild — whether a version of the one we live in, or any other — without touching on politics at all. As soon as you make value judgments, *any* type of value judgments, you’ve implicitly introduced the political results which would logically follow from them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. writing stories does not equal worldbuidling and vice versa. (worldbuilding has such a vague meaning though. talk about definition creep.)

        taking what you mean to say that all stories have politics in them… you would say that if you cannot take off the politics glasses just as if you put on Freudian glasses (not currently popular) you see all stories as Freudian or through your particular religious doctrine or confirming your conviction as to various conspiratorial belief systems, etc.

        if you look for it you will find it. so not wrong exactly but not strictly speaking wrong.

        Like

  4. I agree with your reading of the puppies as trying to eat their cake and have it, but where I disagree is with your conclusions about the overall meaning of this event.

    The puppies gained the success they did because so much of what they said was true. Yes, the genre is largely in the grip of an unrepresentitive middle-class extreme leftist elite. (Actually, they’re not even that, they’re anything but left-wing). But the claim that the solution was ‘a return to swashbuckling SF’ was nothing but an argument for replacing one irrelevant, outdated worldview (that of the ivory-tower Social-Justice-Feminist left) with another outdated, irrelevant worldview (That of the ‘guns and god, the only good alien is a dead alien’ American right). Whenever the puppies spoke about what was wrong with SF and fandom, people winced and said “You know, I do think they have a point”, thinking they’d be the only people in the room who thought that, only to discover that most everyone thinks that. But whenever they spoke about their ‘vision’ for what they wanted SF to be, too many people realized that this ‘vision’ had no place for them in it.

    They also lost because they’re politically inept, involving yourself with people like Vox Day or JC Wright because ‘free speech’ is almost as dumb as approvingly retweeting requires_hate under your real-world identity. Both ‘sides’ in this has the political awareness of lemmings. It’s horrific to imagine what would happen if someone who really knew how to play the game was let loose in the genre,.

    When this all kicked off, I spoke to some puppies and told them that the right thing for them to do was to go and found their own fandom, to build Jerusalem someplace else, and if they got it right, it would become the new fandom. As so many of them are American, this should have appealed to something in their blood. Unfortunately, the idea was not well received. So, instead of boarding the mayflower, the pilgrims decided “You know, I get seasick. Let’s turn round and build a better society by waging a terrorist campaign in Britain instead”. It’s gone about as well as you’d expect.

    # Because, well, many a Sad Pup will laugh and tell you they did win actually, because losing proved their point: the Hugo Awards are
    # a cliquey charade of left-wing scolds and now, courtesy of the Pups, the whole world can see.

    I suspect quite a bit of the world was already seeing that since Rossgate. SF fans have always complained that they’re stereotyped as a bunch of dysfunctional, poorly-socialized weirdos who are out of touch with reality. In the last few years they’ve done much to prove that accusation right.

    # And that, in effect, is the incoherent paradox of Puppydom, generally speaking. To toe that campaigns line, it would seem,
    # one has to hold two irreconcilable beliefs simultaneously.

    # A: The Hugo Awards have become a worthless, self-regarding leftwing joke and the best way to highlight that is to show it up with a joke of our own.
    # B: Theyre are many authors, editors and artists worthy of a Hugo but who are criminally overlooked due to their politics. We shall move as one to
    # bring voters attention to them.

    You can square this circle if you believe that the Hugos were once relevant and honest, and have been degraded, but can be relevant and honest again (disclaimer: no guarentee of historical relevance or honesty of said awards is implied. Your statuatory rights are not effected).

    # The Sad Puppies have never been able to square that rhombus. Not in any way which might persuade the common-all-garden SF fan.

    The common-all-garden SF fan does not attend cons or vote for the Hugos. That’s one thing that puppies have right, ‘fandom’ as defined by the vocal, con-going element, isn’t representitive of anything.

    # Its a pile-up. Yes, theres a cheap pleasure in watching the victory dance of a people willing themselves triumphant against
    # all the facts, one gilded by their simultaneous claims of maltreatment,

    Oh, I don’t doubt they’ve been maltreated. That’s what this is really about for many of them, I suspect. But the only person who should be doing a victory dance is Vox Day. I’m pretty sure everything is proceeding according to plan on his charts. The Sads will now likely collapse, and Vox Day will hoover up those of their supporters who have been radicalized during the past few months. His agenda is not to win awards, his agenda is to raise his profile by causing as much chaos and pain as he can. He has a new book to promote, after all.

    # For my money, the 2015 Hugo Awards are an excellent snapshot of the early 21st century,

    I Agree.

    # In this telling snapshot (the decisive moment as photographic legend Henri Cartier Bresson called it) we see a backdrop of unstoppable
    # globalism foregrounded by a China about to leap upwards (qv, Liu Cixins Three Body Problem, winner of the Hugo Novel category) and a
    # Middle America in descent (witness the Puppies open anger and subconscious fright).

    No, we see the ongoing collapse of the enlightenment worldview and of ‘global society’ into a world of tribalism, religiousity and eternal war. It’s all there: Fewer and fewer people reading SF models the depletion of world resources and the resulting conflict over them. Division and warring between sub-groups of fandom mirrors the fragmentation of society, both at the intra-state, and the inter-state level. The Sads are the declining West, leftist SF is declining Russia. China is TV and Movie SF, which is producing truely relevant, popular work like ‘Ex Machina’ or ‘Interstellar’, leaving written ‘literary’ SF to eat its dust (though it must be said that Media SF is not preparing for war against it’s neighbors (or is it?)). Vox Day is ISIS. Requires Hate is a buried train, believed lost forever, believed to be full of nazi gold, but actually containing the still-live offspring of the Nazi’s germ-warfare experiments, along with Hitler’s personal copy of the Necronomicon. Jason Sanford is the gold-digging archeologist who thinks he can get rich off the remains of past atrocities. KT Bradford is his hot, but suspect, assistant with a dodgy central-european accent and a secret agenda of her own. GRR Martin is Angela Merkel. Steampunk is the Euro.

    The truth is that in the Hugo awards, we don’t see anything except what we project there. The Three Body Problem won in a year when its competition was ‘no award’ or ‘ancilliary sword’. I’ve got a feeling that most of the puppies are not going to vote for AS, so 3BP is likely not representitive of ‘unstoppable globalism’, but rather of a rare bit of common ground appearing between the puppies and the rest of fandom. To claim that an SF award voted for by a few thousand, mostly-white, mostly-middle-class, mostly left-wing, mostly-American people is representitive of anything that’s happening in the world is frankly delusional (contrast this with my ‘Achtung Cthlulu!’ reading of the situation, which anyone can see is based on thorough historical scholarship and a sound grasp of 21st century geopolitical realities).

    # And that, for all the S.Ps talk of a return to good old fashioned storytelling and ray guns and spaceships, is what its movement
    # dearly desires: certainty. Just like in the old days of Campbell and Gernsback.

    It think here you’re speculating about what’s going on in other people’s heads: that’s always dangerous. The ‘movement’ you speak of isn’t even really a movement in the way people tend to think about it, it’s a big morass of people all angry about different things. If we can talk about any consensus among them, I suspect it lies in them wanting to feel that they belong in fandom again. But, for all it’s talk of ‘inclusion’ and ‘diversity’, fandom is now only able to accomadate a certain type of person, and the battle is over who that person is going to be. Prediction: if the Sads and their ilk leave fandom to form their own thing, which I think is quite likely, then new divisions will open up and another fight will kick off and another bunch of people will be purged. The future, at least of fandom, is not ‘globalism’, the future is balkanisation.

    # But certainty is the one thing the 21st century, in all its ragged and ever-accelerating glory, has no power to give.

    A moment ago you were certain that globalism is unstoppable, and that China was about to leap upwards?

    # One symptom of being a chronic certainty-nuzzler is, of course, to forever see the world in black and white, manichaean terms.

    But this is the entirity of SF. Most people in SF are certain that society is inevitably moving towards some kind of utopia. The grand majority of the vocal ‘progressives’ see the Sads as fascists, hence the ridiculous pratfalls of people like Irene Gallo. Very few people made any effort to relate to them as people or as members of the so-called ‘community’ (GRR Martin and Eric Flint at the major stand-outs in this regard, although they still showed no interest in the Sads complaints, they at least did not descend to the level of viewing them as cartoon Nazis).

    # So far, I havent read a single Sad Puppies blog post that refers to a middle ground within the Hugos wide electorate.

    That’s cause there is no middle-ground, not that I’ve ever seen. The majority of commentry that I’ve seen around this issue, on both sides, has been completely partisan. Very few people have really tried to occupy any middle-ground, and I myself have had people concluding I’m one of the ‘other side’ when I’ve tried to do that. I can count on one hand the middle-ground voices that I hear online, and one of those is me, and I’m not sure about him.

    #Witness “And whats even sadder is this pathetic collection of power-hungry little Hitlers have destroyed what was once a genuinely respected award. ”

    Well, yes, the puppies are engaging too much in Galloism these days, but I think that rather proves my point. These comments are mirrors of the things that the SF left has been saying (Ms Gallo just being the most visible). You can’t really put any significance on them doing this, when the ‘social justice’ crowd have been doing this for years. Is there anyone in science-fiction who hasn’t been accused of being a racist, misogynistic, homophobic troglodyte by some trustafarian SJW?

    # Such is the outlook Kate Paulk, author, blogger and leader-apparent of Sad Puppies 2016 (Buckle yourselves in, folks!).

    Ah, *another* woman among the puppies. Remember when we were told they were all white men angry at women taking over the genre?

    # A baroque example, admittedly, but at heart fairly typical of the SP campaigns disconnect from the reality on the ground. To Paulk,
    # if you didnt use your vote like the SPs told you then you were in lockstep with the shadowy cabal of mean, hissy-fitting
    # SJWs/Communists/Decepticons. No excuses.

    Yes, as opposed to being in lock-step with a shadowy cabal of misogynist, racist, reactionary gamergate-affiliated neo-nazis. Again, both sides think this way. How often does Kameron Hurley say anything about the Puppies that treats them as anything other than cartoon villians? None of this behavior is specific to the puppies.

    # Any glance at 2015s winners dispels this garish canard. How, for instance, would a mass SJW hissy fit explain that win in the fan
    # writer category, Laura Mixons takedown of a troll who hid their psychopathology behind a mass of faux social justice rhetoric?
    # Surely a lockstep leftie march would have crushed that eventuality before it began? Instead the Mixon Report won with votes to spare.

    No, because RH was successfully exposed as not being a ‘tru-left’. If she had stuck to just attacking white men, then she’d probably be accepting a Hugo award today. Her error, the thing that made it possible to take her down, was that she was exposed as attacking women, trans-people and people-of-color. You know this, James: how many people have been outraged about the number she did on you *after she’d promised to reform*? There are, of course, many people in the community that had a problem with her actions regardless of who they were aimed at, but they had to wait for the time to be right because the majority of the community did not support them. Some seek to bring her back now: http://www.jasonsanford.com/blog/2015/8/on-the-double-standard-of-genre-apologies. I do think that the vote for Ms Mixon proves that the community is not as rotten as I often think it is, but claiming that this is people breaking with the dominant orthodoxy of the community is going too far. This is very much a palace coup within the SF left, and it’s still ongoing.

    What I want to know is how the rabids voted on that category. Vox Day has expressed admiration for Requires Hate. Did he stand by his fallen idol? Did he command his winged ballot-monkeys to vote Mixon down? Does he lie awake at night, dreaming that in whatever cell she is now condemned to, his dark Heloise reads his letters and sees his continued loyalty, and will accept his offer of “Join me. For together we would be unstoppable!”

    # And why? Because fandoms wide and battered middle finally woke up and drew a line in the sand. Against the worst excesses of leftwing
    # hypocrisy on one hand and the most thuggish excesses of right-wing stupidity on the other. Simples.

    Again, given the conversations that I’ve seen happening, I very much doubt this. But I suppose it could be that there really is a ‘middle’ in SF, who can only express themselves through voting. What will be interesting now is to see what happens next. Will it be a return to business-as-usual, with this-fail and that-gate, and endless accuations of misogyny and racism, with new requires_hate’s rising in the SJW community, and with Vox Day gaining energy from all of this? Or will there be change now? Will people start to talk seriously about what ‘inclusion’ and ‘diverisity’ really mean. Or will it be a return to #KillAllWhiteMen. I know which way I’d bet.

    # Thats the overlooked lesson of Hugo 2015 I suspect: read the awards statistical entrails and you can discern the moderate majority-
    # the people who read spec-fic because it gives them that tingly head-feel synonymous with thinking for oneself- have had about enough.
    # Enough of the flag-wavers, enough of the shit-stirrers and the thought-leaders. My guess is thats what happens as an online community
    # matures: the sleeping middle gets a sense of itself. It would be in the Sad Puppies interests to learn how to treat that waking beast
    # with respect. At the very least they should note its very existence.

    I would love to believe this, but this sounds too much like the things people said about the Arab spring. That too, was a ‘moderate uprising’ that was going to institute a better tommorrow. I believed that at the time. How is that looking now? And I’ve got to say, I had more faith in the Arab street, than I do in the SF con.

    Like

  5. But this is the entirity of SF. Most people in SF are certain that society is inevitably moving towards some kind of utopia.

    Sorry, what was that about the risk of speculating about what’s going on in other peoples’ heads?

    Like

    1. ## But this is the entirity of SF. Most people in SF are certain that society is inevitably moving
      ## towards some kind of utopia.

      # Sorry, what was that about the risk of speculating about whats going on in other peoples heads?

      This is what they say to your face. There’s no speculation here, this is from the horse’s mouth.

      Like

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