Category Archives: Books

Why the Puppies Are Sad

You want to know why the Sad Puppies campaign still exists? Do you want to know why fans continue to nominate authors they consider to be worthy of a Hugo Award even though the elitist Puppy Kickers made damn sure everyone knew that no award would be given to any worthy author or editor if they were nominated by the “wrong” people?

Here’s one reason.

“Speak Easy” by Catherynne M. Valente was submitted for a Sad Puppies 4 nomination in September 2015. Several fans thought it was worthy of the award. Comments included:

“… I liked it a lot and will be nominating it for a Hugo.”

“…There is so much to discover in this little book and it absolutely blew me away”

I would think that any author would be grateful that readers not only bought her work, but read it and enjoyed it enough to recommend it for a prestigious award. I would think the author would be gracious and thank the readers for the honor. One would think that being included in a list of recommendations that this year includes such great and diverse writers as Lois McMaster Bujold, Ann Leckie, Stephen King, Eric Flint, and John Scalzi would be met with gratitude and some dignity.

But apparently, if you’re the wrong kind of thinker, the wrong kind of reader, who has the wrong kind of social justice and political views, Ms. Valente doesn’t want your business. She doesn’t want your praise or recommendation. She doesn’t want your recognition.

As a matter of fact, if you’re the wrong type of science fiction fan, she will meowl and howl and demand that her name be removed from consideration. Then, she will vent her spleen on the Internet (then think better of it and admit it was not her “best reaction), and then she will post a much more temperate contemplation, trying to explain why she was so damn angry that a bunch of fans liked her writing enough to read it and to think it was worthy of an award.

I was upset because I wasn’t asked whether I was okay with being put on this list. I had thought I remembered SP saying they would ask authors for permission in the future, but it’s since been pointed out to me that my memory, as with all human cognition, is faulty, and the truth is the opposite–they, in fact, pledged not to ask permission or remove names on request.

Ms. Valente apparently thinks she should be consulted about whether or not it would be OK for a group of fans to like and appreciate her writing enough to think she merits an award. Apparently, she’s so important, that fans need her permission to publicly like her work! I will freely admit I’ve never heard of her until this year, so I wasn’t sure how successful or popular she was.

She’s apparently fairly prolific, if you believe Wikipedia, but I cannot imagine an author can get so prominent that she would actively reject readers who like her writing. But that’s exactly what she did.

Because she doesn’t want to be “associated” with the wrong type of fans.

Because she and other spitting whiners are suspicious that somehow this is somehow an effort to “legitimize” Sad Puppies, rather than a simple submission by people who happened to like her work.

Because somehow pointing out her lack of graciousness on social media equates to attacking her.

And it occurs to me that I would feel far less anger and confusion if one single person had calmly and without rancor said to me: “Hey, last year was a clusterfuck all around. This year we’re trying to put all that behind us and do a straight recommendation list. That’s all that’s going on.” But instead, it was the same instant name-calling and attacks that went down last time.

Of course, several people pointed out that the Sad Puppies list this year is a diverse recommendation list by fans who liked her work, but Ms. Valente appears to be so filled with rancor and hatred, that she just ignored them and continued on.

One reply pointed out that fans liked her work, and thought it was worthy.

Another one also acknowledged the effort to keep politics and acrimony out of it.

A third one noted that this the Sad Puppies list is a pretty simple recommendation from multiple fans.

But apparently, that’s not good enough.

So I spent the night trying to get my thoughts in order on this. Because, yes, if you strip away all the context of the Sad Puppies campaigns, it’s just a recommendation list, and I was happy enough to be on the Locus List (which doesn’t ask permission), so I should simply be joyful that people liked Speak Easyenough to recommend others take a look at it. A recommendation list, as we have been saying all along, is not a slate.

But you can’t strip away the context. Context is content. Context is everything.

Here’s your context, Ms. Valente.

So, SP4 is all about MOAR! More voters. More votes. More people. We want to make the Hugos bigger and more representative of fandom as a whole, to bring people in rather than give them an asterisk that looks kind of wrong (especially beside the rocket) to try to drive the “interlopers” out. SF is a big tent: we don’t want to kick out anyone, even writers of bad message fiction that makes puppies sad.

That is all. It is simple and publicly stated. There’s no hidden context or agenda. There never has been, despite some people’s best efforts to conflate the Sad Puppies movement with something onerous and clandestine.

I promised last year not to allow my name on any slate, for any reason, in perpetuity. Which means that if SP4 is, somehow, a slate, it would be hypocritical of me to shrug and say I’m cool with it just because my name happens to be on it. This is where I get stuck, because I feel there is a moral morass here. Call me old-fashioned: when I give my word, it still means something to me. This puts me in an incredibly difficult position, from which there is no easy extrication.

This is not about you allowing anything, Ms. Valente, unless you really expect fans you don’t like for nebulous reasons such as their “association” with other fans, to refuse to like or read your literature, in which case I would question your sanity and your intellect.

Bottom line: some people read your novella, and they liked it enough to submit it for an award. That’s it. Nothing else. But your lack of congeniality is noted.

The problem is, I spent a year listening to how the Puppies are Master Strategists. You can’t blame me for doing a Perception Roll and looking for traps. And that is my fear. That, with apologies to Admiral Akbar, it’s a trap.

Maybe you should take a year actually examining evidence with an objective eye, reading what has been written on the subject without judging, and stop being so paranoid.

I don’t want to be anyone’s shield. I want any nomination to be about my work and my work alone. I don’t want to be used to add legitimacy to a slate, I don’t want to be used to whitewash the history of a movement that, at the very minimum, has behaved poorly and rudely toward a large number of people, including me, my loved ones, and my colleagues. I don’t want to be fodder for a “we all know the first five are the real slate” strategy. I don’t want to be used as agotcha!, forced to withdraw in order to keep my moral house in order and make room for more works along the lines of “Safe Space as Rape Room” and “Sad Puppies Bite Back” or remain on the list and force a conversation about No Awarding so that the Puppies can watch the people they targeted last year get No Awarded or call us all hypocrites at large for not doing it–victory declared at any result.

Couple of things are notable here. chu

First, Ms. Valente appears to be hanging out with the likes of Arthur Chu, who last year viciously attacked Brad Torgersen as a racist and even posted a photo of his African American wife and biracial daughter, claiming they were shields for Brad’s alleged racism.

Are these the kinds of people with whom you want to be associated, Ms. Valente? Because you certainly sound like one of them.

A shield? It must be difficult to think so little of your own work that you believe the only reason people with opposing views to yours would like your writing is as a shield!

Second, Ms. Valente ignores the very real, vile, repugnant, and false accusations of racism, misogyny, bigotry, and other filth hurled at the Sad Puppies last year. It must be so comfy living in that soft, opaque world, so devoid of diverse points of view!

Third, she admits outright that the “No Awarding” of numerous categories at the Hugo Awards last year was an effort to keep the “undesirables” out, and worse, she’s afraid inclusion by the “wrong” kinds of fans will deprive her of her rightful chance for an award.

I will give Ms. Valente credit for admitting that the Sad Puppies this year did exactly what they said they would – create an open, transparent, diverse list recommended by numerous readers.

They seem to have done everything people said they should do to make it a recommendation list and not a slate. It’s democratic, it’s open, there are either more or less than five recs for every slot. The Rabid Puppy list has almost nothing in common with the Sad Puppy list.

At least she’s intellectually honorable enough to admit this much, but then she slides back into paranoia, and proceeds to blame the fans – the same fans who recommended works they enjoyed last year for a prestigious award and included her on this list – for her own paranoia, and continues to perpetuate the lies that angered kind, generous, gentle authors and fans last year, accusing us of racism, homophobia, and sexism and conflate Sad Puppies with the snarling, frothing Rabids, whose stated goal was to submarine the Hugos.

But it’s absurd to get angry at someone for thinking there might be something more to it. After all the talk about manipulation and strategy, all the insults flung and accusations levied, this is the result. It is hard to trust. And it is impossible to just pull the tablecloth out from under the Sad Puppies and leave the flowers and the silver still standing. The Puppies are a political group. They specifically did what they did last year to make “SJW heads explode.” Members have engaged in racists, homophobic, and sexist rhetoric. They have stated that the last several years of Hugos, during which I won and was nominated, were a lie and a farce, only existing due to affirmative action.

The rest of her post is self-inflicted angst and agony. Her stomach hurts. She’s honestly torn. She doesn’t know what to do.

And then, she “magnanimously” proclaimed that she will give us all a chance. She will give us her oh-so-generous benefit of the doubt. She’s choosing to believe that the Sad Puppies are sincere, despite the skewed history that she’s been led to believe, and dog forbid we let her down!

Please, lady!

Give it a rest! People read your work. They enjoyed it. They liked it enough to recommend it for a prestigious award. Be gracious. Say “thank you.” Enjoy the fact that a bigger fan base read your novella and enjoyed it, despite their perceived disagreements with you on politics or whatever else.

Stop worrying about some biased version of “history” and realize you’re not ENTITLED to demand that fans ask your permission to like and recommend your work.

You promised to believe in our good faith? So stop with the caveats and the angst, so we can believe in yours!

 

Dear Social Justice Whiners – JUST. SHUT.UP.

First they came for science fiction and fantasy, trying to grab the genre from the evil, white, cisheteronormativepatriarchysomethingorother authors who have apparently been forever oppressing the poor minorities and those who gender identify as toasters. I said nothing, because… oh hell, whom am I kidding? I went off on the Social Justice Howler Monkeys for their stridency, prejudice, and utter cluelessness about how the world works.

Then they came for the sombrero, and I said nothing. OK, I said something. I called the pasty, white British douche pickle whitesplaining the cultural appropriation of the sombrero a douche pickle whitesplaining why he’s offended on behalf of the Mexicans.

They came for the cornrows, the Halloween costumes, and food, and I laughed them off, because the stupid was beginning to burn – not in a gonorrhea sort of way, but in a smelly, pathetic desperation sort of way.

But now, they’ve gone too far. The Social Justice Howler Monkeys have crossed the line, and they need to be stopped – with broomsticks and “expelliarmus” spells, if necessary. The Social Justice Howler Monkeys are attacking J.K. Rowling after she wrote about the “history of magic in North America.”

One critic, Brown University researcher Adrienne Keene, pointed out that the term “Native American” encompasses many different cultures.

“One of the largest fights in the world of representations is to recognize Native peoples and communities and cultures are diverse, complex, and vastly different from one another,” Keene wrote on her blog Native Appropriations. “There is no such thing as one ‘Native American’ anything. Even in a fictional wizarding world.”

On Twitter, Johnnie Jae, the Otoe-Missouria and Choctaw founder of the radio show A Tribe Called Geek, accused Rowling of cultural appropriation.

“When we say that non-native writers, filmmakers, artists are not entitled to our history, identities, culture & imagery we mean just that,” Jae wrote. “We’re saying there is a problem with non-natives who take without permission, without understanding and without respect for native people.”

A couple of observations here to turn the tables around a bit.

Thank you, @pottermore!

Thank you, @pottermore!

One – it’s a fucking fairy tale, you smirking, snotty, supercilious shit wits! It’s not a documentary! To claim “there’s no such thing as… even in a fictional wizarding world,” is to show complete ignorance of the actual definition of fiction! It’s also appropriation of said world. The wizarding world does not belong to Keene or Jae. It was created by the brilliant mind of J.K. Rowling. They have no authority to speak about what does or does not exist there.

Two – it’s ironic that the entitled social justice whiners are bitching about entitlement! Note that nothing has been “taken” from this sniffly little Johnnie Jae creep. Someone wrote a fiction story, and it was a wild success, so she’s trying hard to appropriate it as her own, as if something was stolen from her personally. Because creating a world as intricate and beautiful as what Rowling has created requires effort, and this nippy twat simply wants a piece. No one owns culture! No one owns history! And certainly no one is owed respect without earning it! Rowling’s fiction about Native American wizards does not in any way take away anything from Native Americans. If anything, I would submit that her drawing attention to Native Americans in her fictional works would get more people interested in finding out more about their actual culture!

Three – the way I see it, these Howler Monkeys are trying to lay claim to something that does not belong to them. They didn’t create the culture. They didn’t create the art or the mythology of native people in those days. They’re simply cashing in on the attention and struggles of those who came before them, and physically claiming the history and culture of these people as their own, as if history and culture are physical assets. If you ask them what they, personally, lose when J.K. Rowling writes a story about Native Americans hundreds of years ago, they will twist and ramble to come up with an answer.

And finally – this is a woman who has included struggles for equality for all creatures in her stories. She has taken on bigotry and prejudice. She has brought those issues to children in beautiful ways that they can understand without using the  insulting, preachy message fiction we normally see from the Howler Monkey set! To accuse her of exploitation, ignorance, and the promotion of colonialism is beyond ignorant!

To date Ms. Rowling hasn’t answered the screeching shrews on Twitter, and they’re more than soiling themselves.

How ominous… how self important… how arrogant!

Guess what, Cupcake! I’m betting she has better things to do than engage with shrieking shrews to defend her work. Her readers and her success have spoken for her.

Here’s hoping she continues writing terrific stories and relegates Keene, Jae, and other harpies to the dust bin where they belong.

This is what I mean (With “Amazing” Update)

When I wrote the other day that those who consider themselves the gatekeepers and elders in Science Fiction and Fantasy did not and still do not want any kind of real “reconciliation” with the Science Fiction fans known as the Sad Puppies, this is what I meant. The wonderful Kate Paulk addressed several issues on the entry on Brad’s blog I mentioned the other day, and she and I are in synch.

I’ve heard through the Internet (all right, Facebook) that someone who fancies himself a big shot in the field has “offered” to stop claiming Sad Puppies 4 is all things evil in return for a few “reasonable concessions” on our part.

Since the person in question hasn’t bothered to make this offer to me, Sarah Hoyt, or Amanda Green, Sad Puppy supporters can reasonably assume that the so-called offer is not actually genuine.

“Reasonable concessions?” Fuck you.

sad puppiesThe Sad Puppies weren’t the ones calling others Nazis, racists, misogynists and other choice epithets.

The Sad Puppies weren’t the ones blowing up entire categories at the Hugo awards ceremony, merely because they did not want deserving candidates supported by the wrong kind of fans to win.

The Sad Puppies weren’t the ones prancing around, offensively giving out ASSterisks.

They certainly weren’t the ones spreading lies and misinformation.

And after all of that, the self-proclaimed protector of all that is right and good (only in the eyes of the “right” kind of fans) excuses the name-calling and vile accusations (Oh, come on! The name-calling was ignorable, and “pretty funny, actually”!) by claiming that the Sad Puppies “pissed [him] off,” and all the Sad Puppies really had to do was “First – give us some real indication that SP and RP are not ‘riding in the same car’. Second – drop the final stage of the SPIV effort. Leave it as a pure recommendation list. (It will save Kate a lot of work to boot.)”

And in return, said self-proclaimed protector of all that is right and good in TruFandom will refrain from attacking the Sad Puppies for a whole two weeks! Well, Jesus Christ on a Fucking Popsicle Stick! How noble and magnanimous of him!

Who the fuck do you think you are, shitstick? Prove to me that you’re not the Nazi misogynist racists we’ve repeatedly accused you of being without a shred of proof, quit nominating works you actually like, and I’ll stop attacking you for two weeks? Go sodomize yourself with a cactus dipped in battery acid!

Now, you see why I find George R. R. Martin’s essay claiming that the other side wants reconciliation to be disingenuous at best?

Kate’s response is exactly what mine would have been – with a lot fewer swear words.

We do not care what the creators’ politics are. We do not care what the posters’ politics are. We care that people who love science fiction and fantasy have a place to build an awesome list of recommended reading/viewing/listening/artwork for 2015. We care that lots of people become involved in the Hugo Award process. Nobody is excluded from Sad Puppies 4. Anybody can participate or not as they choose. The recommendations will not vanish. Every recommendation will be in the final list. There’s no “gatekeeping” going on here, and no litmus test for participation…unlike the ultimatums being “offered” to the Sad Puppies.

When the final list is announced, we’ll post the top 10 for each category, whatever those might be, and link to the full list. Nothing will be hidden or secret. Anyone who wants to will be able to reconstruct the list from the recommendations posted here (I don’t suggest anyone actually does this. It’s tedious and time-consuming and I really should have written an application to do the grunt work for me. Hindsight is ever perfect).

Finally, we will not be publicly dissociating or associating Sad Puppies 4 from/with anyone. Anyone can make recommendations and everyone’s recommendations will have exactly the same weight as everyone else’s. Nobody will be asked to nominate or vote in line with the list. That’s been the policy from the start, and it’s been what I’ve said from the start.

If the person claiming to have made an offer had actually contacted me, this is exactly what I would have told him with or without his so-called “Puppy moratorium”.

You want reconciliation? Recognize that the fiasco of last year was a slap in the face to a lot of fine folks who work in the field. Admit it. Stop painting the Sad Puppies with the broad brush of your hatred. Vote for works, authors, editors, and other producers in the field who deserve to win – regardless of who recommends them.

And most of all, stop being arrogant, supercilious, self important fuck weasels. Your “offer of reconciliation” is condescending, insolent crap, and I’m glad Kate gave you the well-deserved middle finger, asshole.

UPDATE: So apparently the arrogant, supercilious asshole is also a coward. A comment on Kate’s blog, which she hardly ever uses, popped up this morning with the following, which Kate copied in its entirety to the Sad Puppies 4 page.

Ms. Paulk,

you asked for “demands” to be sent directly to you, so I will comply:

But I will only do it in a comment on a site you barely ever use. Sad Puppies 4 gets more traffic, and dog forbid he post it there.

It is my considered belief that Sad Puppies can help repair the divide within fandom by taking two actions:
1. make your SPIV recommendation list a real recommendation list, similar to others that are perceived as recommendation lists (as opposed to slates) by dropping your final stage of compiling a “top ten”.
2. make it clear that Sad Puppies are not aligned with Rabid Puppies.

My side attacked good people, made false claims, overtly and subversively offended and made false accusations against fans, authors, and editors, and submarined talented people in the field, but YOU Sad Puppies are the problem! YOU Sad Puppies are guilty! YOU Sad Puppies need to conform to what I demand and what I judge to be a recommendation list, because I’m the arbiter of all light and good in SF/F. YOU Sad Puppies need to prove to ME that you are not what we have repeatedly accused you of being!

You and other Sad Puppies have repeatedly claimed that your lists are recommendations (‘like what Scalzi does every year’).  However, they are not once you add that final stage of endorsement.  Drop that final stage and no reasonable person would consider it anything other than what you claim you want it to be.

Kate’s response was the following – everything she has said before, but apparently Mr. Amazing has reading comprehension issues.

And, just so there is no doubt about any of this: Sarah, Amanda, and I will be doing exactly what I said we were doing in yesterday’s post. We will not accede to anyone’s demands. We will not prevent anyone from making recommendations. We will not associate ourselves with any other group and we will not dissociate ourselves from any other group. We are compiling a list of the works people think are the best in their class and eligible for the 2016 Hugo Awards. Nothing more and nothing less.

But apparently, that’s not good enough. Sad Puppies MUST clearly address the false accusations against them, because Steve-o says so.

You and other Sad Puppies have also claimed that SP and Rabid Puppies are not one and the same, yet we see plenty of commentary that strongly suggests otherwise.  A statement by the leaders of SP IV  to the contrary would go a long way.

Oh, commentary like the hatchet job Entertainment Weekly had to correct? You mean like Irene Gallo’s nasty, repugnant “nazi” claim?

Fuck you, Steve. Pulling out accusations from your ilk and claiming that as evidence that commentary suggests SP and RP are one and the same is a transparent attempt to malign a whole lot of people who not only find racism to be repugnant and sick, but also spent a lifetime fighting it.

Those are the two things that I believe would place Sad Puppies in a far better position in regards to acceptance within fandom as a whole.  Doing those two things would lend far greater credence to your other arguments vis-a-vis the field.

Steve

There you have it, boys and girls. Steve doesn’t consider Sad Puppies real fans, and not only that but he’s apparently the arbiter of who receives what position in fandom as a whole.

Read Kate’s response, dick. That’s all you’re going to get.

Huckleberry Finn Causes Special Snowflake Syndrome

Mark Twain’s classic has always been the subject of controversy. It its early days, racists condemned the novel for positively portraying a friendship between a white boy and a black man.

Today, Special Snowflakes™ demand its removal from schools and libraries, because it chafes their fragile labia.

This week, a Montgomery County school removed Huckleberry Finn from its curriculum after a group of students said the book made them uncomfortable.

 After a forum for students and faculty, the administration of Friends’ Central School decided to strike the book from the 11th-grade American literature class, principal Art Hall said in a letter to parents this week.

“We have all come to the conclusion that the community costs of reading this book in 11th grade outweigh the literary benefits,” Hall said in his letter.

A group of students said an American classic made them “feel uncomfortable.”

Let that sink in for a moment. A great American novel about a friendship between a white boy and a black man at a time when such friendships were not just frowned upon, but hated, despised, and punished is making Special Snowflakes “uncomfortable.” This novel is the epitome of American literature!

There used to be a time when ideas were challenged, viewpoints were explored, history was closely examined and discussed. It used to be called an education.

Now, an education is wrapping Special Snowflakes in brightly colored cotton to protect them from mean ideas, bad language, and anything else that may result in a rash on their precious little hineys. They can’t possibly be placed outside their comfort zones! They can’t possibly be challenged! Their precious feelings are more important than knowledge, than historical context, than the ability to analyze.

So in order to protect their fragile sensibilities, they burn anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. Why be reminded of  Of course it’s figurative for now. They simply remove the book from school or from the library, but how long before it really starts?

“If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. Let him forget there is such a thing as war. If the government is inefficient, top-heavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those than that people worry over it. Peace, Montag. Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change.”
Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

The ridiculous thing is that the principal of the school does not believe removing the book constitutes censorship. “I really do believe that this is an opportunity for the school to step forward and listen to the students.”

The disconnect is frightening, because this is what is teaching today’s youth. This is what is running today’s schools. Instead of applying his knowledge and expertise and taking control of the ass enraged, entitled Generation Cupcake offendapotomi, he’s simply giving in to their unreasonable and ignorant demands.

Is it any wonder, schools are putting out generations of perpetually butthurt, barely educated cattle who outright REFUSE to think?

A Nation of Drones

The extraordinary Sarah A. Hoyt has honored me by publishing my guest post on her blog. I know I’ve talked a bit about growing up in the USSR, so you kind folks already know some of the horrors I’ve had growing up there. This is just another account. It’s one that was triggered (and no, I don’t use that term as a pathetic attempt at victimhood) by the ignorant, ridiculous, stupid beyond belief tweet of Phil “Phildo” Sandifer, that claimed anyone who thought communism was evil should be murdered.

No, Phildo – people who say communism is the most oppressive form of government have actually lived it and understand it better than your lily-white privileged ass could! And this post was inspired by that fact.

After years of indoctrination with no access to outside information, everything was normal.

Wiping with pieces of newspaper, because there was no toilet paper? Normal.

Taking a bath in dirty water that your parents brought in buckets from the machine factory across the street, heated, and poured into a bathtub, after all other members of the family “bathed” in it? Normal.

Sharing your one-bedroom apartment with another three-four person family, sleeping on the floor, or on a makeshift bed in what used to be a living room? Normal.

Getting your tonsils removed without anesthesia while you were tied to a chair with a sheet, gagging on bloody chunks of flesh as the doctor cut them out of your throat with scissors, and hearing them plop juicily into a kidney dish she held under your chin? Normal. Too bad the anesthesia didn’t take. You got your share.

Getting beaten up by your classmates on a regular basis for being a Jew? Normal.

You can read the rest at Sarah’s. The fact that an author as talented as Sarah saw it worthy to publish my brain droppings is truly an honor for me, so go over there and read, and if you haven’t discovered Sarah’s novels yet, do give them a try!

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