redneckgaijin (redneckgaijin) wrote,

My thoughts on the Sad Puppies, Rabid Puppies, and Hugos brouhaha.

A lot has been written about the Sad/Rabid Puppies and the 2015 Hugo Awards. I haven't added much to it until now, mainly because I haven't been absolutely certain what I wanted to say about the whole subject. It's taken a long time, and a lot of careful thought, for me to get beyond knee-jerk reaction and to a solid opinion.

I will say this: although there are some anti-puppy posts which I found readable and rational, and others I found snide and unhelpful, what I've read of the pro-puppy material ranges from the deceitful to the mentally unhinged.  This post by Brad Torgersen is an example of a post which is both- deliberately misrepresenting the opposition on every level while simultaneously declaring a massive conspiracy to control the minds of others or to silence those who will not be controlled.

The writings which I did find helpful:

A good overview (giving Sad Puppies organizers Torgersen and Larry Correia every benefit of the doubt):

On evidence that Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies are closely linked allies: and

A detailed breakdown of the apparent motivations behind Theodore "Vox Day" Beale and his Rabid Puppies slate, including literary critique of many of the nominations from that slate: (I found this useful because it gave weight to a suspicion I held; that most if not all of the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies nominated stories had a common theme: "to be different is to be evil, until proven otherwise.")

George R. R. Martin's dialogues with Larry Correia on LiveJournal, but especially this post completely debunking the "liberal conspiracy" theory Torgersen peddles:

Twitter posts showing Correia promoted Sad Puppies to GamerGate activists, putting the lie to the claim that the Sad Puppies slate was about good sci-fi instead of politics:

So, summary points:

* Sad/Rabid Puppies claims their goal was to bring variety to the Hugos by getting superior but underappreciated works nominated which they felt were shut out by a conspiracy of elites. This is a lie. Based on their actions, their marketing the slate on political grounds rather than literary grounds, and above all by their repeated virulent screeds against liberals (and especially gays), it's pretty damn obvious that literary quality was their LAST concern.

* Why did they do it? In the case of Correia and Torgersen, paranoia. Like most conservatives in the thrall of the Fox News Complex, they see the world as "everyone is out to get me." In Correia's case, this was fueled by resentment from not winning a Hugo to which he felt entitled. In Torgersen's case it appears to be rampant, barely cloaked homophobia. Either way, they honestly believe, delusional as it is, that they are the targets of a massive conspiracy by The Cool Kids to shut them out of what rightfully belongs to them.

In the case of Vox Day... it's because the man is a massive troll. Whether or not he actually believes the incredibly bigoted things he says and writes, it's obvious he takes delight in offending and angering others mainly for the feeling of power it gives him. Correia and Torgersen occasionally backtrack or apologize or offer a mumbled mea culpa when they offend or upset people they respect- people who aren't part of the conspiracy they've built in their heads. Theodore Beale merely twists the knife.

The prime example of Beale using Rabid Puppies for his own little power trip (source:

"I’ll repeat what I said at my place: don’t dig the hole deeper. Don’t scream at us, don’t insult us, don’t “send a message”, just settle down and do what you’ve always done and vote for whatever works you find to be the best, or the least offensive. Smile and politely do your jazz hands if a few of ours happen to claim the totem this year. We have no intention of camping the Hugos unless you give us a reason to do so. I have absolutely no desire to ever have as many Hugo nominations as Arthur C. Clarke, let alone Robert Heinlein or Isaac Asimov, but annoy me enough and I promise you that I will end up with more than David Hartwell and Mike Glyer combined."

Translation from weasel-words: Give me everything I want, or I'll blow it all to kingdom come. Because, you know, voting against the Rabid Puppies slate would be "annoying."

Now, the two key points:

* What's wrong with any of this? NOTHING.

I find Correia's, Torgersen's, and Beale's political and cultural viewpoints personally disgusting, but that's no reason to shut them out. Let them promote a slate of nominees for the Hugos if that's what they want. There is nothing wrong with campaigning for specific works to be nominated for awards, regardless of the rationale. They could do it based on their politics of hate; John Scalzi and David Gerrold could do it based on countering hate; George R. R. Martin could do it based on body counts of named characters; I could do it based on the cup sizes of women in the cover art; whatever.

To those who claim that campaigning for Hugo nominations and offering "X Recommends" slates is illegitimate: TOUGH. The Hugo Awards are a popularity contest, and that's all they've EVER been. They're voted for by people who have hundreds of dollars to throw at an event one weekend per year. The prestige of the Hugos is a myth, a self-fulfilling prophecy.

And let's put this in perspective: nobody is going to die because they did or didn't win a Hugo. Governments will not rise or fall based on the outcome of the 2015 Hugo voting. The Hugos are nothing more than the plaything of the old-school literary science fiction fandom- and based on many of the categories involved, it's a fandom living about thirty years in the past.

So- Correia, Torgersen, and Beale want to campaign to win Hugos? Fine by me. Have fun. It's not important.


* Why, then, do I oppose Sad/Rabid Puppies? (And I definitely do, by the way.)

Because Correia, Torgersen and Beale didn't name one (or, if you want to uphold the pretense that they weren't working together, two) exceptional work or creator per category. The Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies slates took advantage of the Hugos system (every nomination voter gets to recommend five choices, and five nominees are selected for each award). Their slates proposed three, or four, or even five nominees for most of the awards categories in a deliberate effort to flood the nominations and make sure that ONLY their works got nominated- and they were mostly successful.

In short: Sad/Rabid Puppies didn't just try to give conservatives in sci-fi a voice; they tried to SILENCE ALL OTHER VOICES. They wanted to prevent any viewpoints not compatible with their own from receiving any recognition whatever- and they were very successful, as regards 2015.

That's not just campaigning. That's not even just rigging the results. That's outright censorship. By gaming the system, the Puppies allowed a minority viewpoint to drown out and silence all others. And Beale in particular goes farther and demands that this effort be honored, and that those shut out sit down and accept it, or else he'll destroy the Hugos outright.

That's not cricket. That's dirty pool. That's asshole behavior.

And, incidentally, it's also proof that the Puppies, and their works, and their viewpoints, could not win any other way. Correia and Torgersen love to claim that recent Hugo lists are dominated by "affirmative action" picks which could not possibly have won absent a "social justice warrior" conspiracy (translation: non-white, non-male, and non-straight works and creators are inherently inferior). Yet in order to achieve their 2015 dominance they actively recruited conservatives through GamerGate, Breitbart, etc.- people who wouldn't have given the Hugos a second thought otherwise, who wouldn't have cared who won- and thus achieved their victory through their own "affirmative action", fueled solely by hatred of liberalism in any form.

By resorting to these tactics, the Puppies are admitting that the works they nominated are inferior to other options and that they can't compete against other contemporary works on their literary merit. Their tactics put the lie to their own claims. It's not about providing an equal voice for their viewpoint- it's about achieving dominance for their viewpoint by any means necessary.

* So what do we do about it?


No, seriously, nothing.

There's a lot of talk about saving the Hugos, but quite frankly the Hugos are already destroyed. The simple fact that this happened at all does nothing more than rip the fig leaf off. At its best the Hugos were, as I said before, a popularity contest, nothing more. At its worst- and the Puppies are definitely the worst I've heard of in regard to gaming the Hugos- the awards are a game that can be rigged to the benefit of the most shameless, unscrupulous, and best-organized faction, which makes it LESS than a popularity contest.

There's nothing that can be done by changing the nomination voting system or anything else which will give the Hugos back their illusion of prestige. Correia, Torgersen and Beale have destroyed that forever, and it's not worth anybody's time trying to undo what they've done.

There's also nothing that can be done which the Puppies won't take as a victory for their side. If they sweep the Hugos, they'll claim that their efforts were all justified. If "No Award" wins, the Puppies will claim it's evidence that the conspiracy exists and that they really are poor persecuted victims. If the rules are changed to prevent future Hugos from being gamed as this one was, they'll also claim persecution and conspiracy. There is absolutely nothing a Hugo voter can do that will have any deterrent effect on these people.

About the only advice I have is: don't waste time on these people. Don't read their books, their blogs, their Facebook posts. If you see them at a con, do not engage- don't even say hello. Just walk on by. People driven by hate and fear (Correia and Torgersen) or by petty sadism (Beale) are toxic. They aren't worth your time, not even to confront them.

Don't make a production number of it. Don't dramatically flounce past to show just how industriously you're shunning them. Don't demand that cons blacklist them or any petty shit like that. When you do that sort of thing, you're handing trolls like Beale a victory, because it shows they've got inside your head. By engaging with them at all, you're handing them power over yourself.

I personally believe that Correia and Torgersen will find that their conspiracy becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is entirely possible for people to disagree with a creator's political viewpoints and still like them personally... but nobody wants to associate with entitled, paranoid assholes except other entitled, paranoid assholes who share the same flavors of entitlement and paranoia. And let's be blunt- if the Puppies had wanted to deliberately piss off absolutely everybody on Earth who didn't agree with them absolutely, they couldn't have done a better job of it than they've done in promoting and pushing their Hugo slates.

Larry Correia was, in the past, nominated for Hugos without any campaigning, slates, etc. That wasn't good enough for him, or for Torgersen. Beale would never have got a Hugo nod in a million years without a slate. Now the three of them have ensured that the only way any of them will ever get a Hugo nod, or any other professional recognition, will be by politicking and by rigging the system. They have made themselves odious beyond redemption to most of the fans who are devoted enough to the genre to give a rat's ass about any popularly-voted awards.

Despite my advice above, a lot of people are going to- indeed already have done- call for boycotts of books, blacklists from cons, etc. The Puppies are going to be persecuted for real, not because they're conservatives or bigots, but because they're assholes, plain and simple- assholes who don't have Harlan Ellison's talent to outweigh the unacceptable behavior. They are going to be honestly unpopular, not just inside their heads or because of paranoid delusions, but because the more people hear of them, the more people will dislike them- simple as that.

That ought to be punishment enough for anybody, however angry you are about what they've done.

For my part I think it's too much, and that nobody deserves to be cut off completely... but not enough that I'm not going to personally avoid them every chance I get.

Because they're not worth my sanity.
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