It’s been a few weeks since my last post on the Hugo Awards. I haven’t had much to say, because my only concern in this matter is on the subject of writing. I’m not interested in responding to every little thing that pops up, such as news articles that repeat lies, Big Five editors who make up new lies, fans who leave one-star, one-word Amazon reviews on Hugo-nominated works . . . I’ll leave that up to others. Sure, it gets me great traffic, but I’m interested in writing, reviews, and fun stuff to share. The Hugo Awards are too serious, yet too inconsequential in the long run, to just keep harping on the same points over and over and over and . . . you get the idea.

Joker Hugo Awards

(Actually, if you want over-the-top Hugo humor, check out my friend Declan’s parody of the Sad Puppies people encountering SWATing and Worldcon. I make my own appearance in the latest installment. Apparently my house is made of Lego. I don’t find this repugnant.)

bullshit-asymmety-principleAnyway, long story short, I’m writing another Hugo post. This is because someone decided to leave a long comment on a previous post that requires a few more counterpoints than is easy to do in an answering comment. As such, I’m doing a full-on fisk, and invoking Brandolini’s Bullshit Asymmetry Principle.

The commenter’s name is pocketnaomi. As such, I’m assuming this person is a woman named Naomi, and will be addressing her that way.

Okay then. I’m not Steven, but I’ll be happy to answer in prose.

The problem with the Puppies isn’t that they feel excluded and want to do something about it. Lots of people do, and there are lots of things one can do to call attention to being excluded without excluding other people.

The problem with the Puppies isn’t that they prefer “good stories” to message fiction. Almost all of us do that. We may disagree about what constitutes message fiction, and I think one of Steven’s points was that “message fiction” is frequently found on all sides of any given issue, but only recognized as such by the people who oppose its message… to those who support its message, the piece will be considered “just a good story” with no message at all. That’s a factor the Puppies do not seem to recognize… when they do it themselves, they don’t see it — they look at a story with a blatant message, but one they approve, and consider it just a good story; but that’s only half the problem with this blindness.

Naomi, this would seem like an excellent point, I’m sure; except that on the same page where you posted your own comment, I listed several books which I enjoyed but consider message fiction.

If your claim were true, then not only would I not be able to tell the difference, but you wouldn’t understand it either. You would not be able to see any message you agree with, and would therefore assume that an opposing message (which apparently you could see) would be bad fiction.

Interestingly, you seem to agree on this point, as you continue:

The other half is that they appear to see the SJWs (a term I’ll address later) applaud stories which the Puppies consider “message fiction” and assume that the REASON the SJWs are delighted with that story is the message. That isn’t true, any more than it’s true that the Puppies themselves are primarily supporting the message in stories *they* enjoy. The truth is far less sinister — we SJWs don’t usually vote based on message because we usually (just like the Puppies) don’t *recognize* the messages we agree with in fiction. 

You just went from saying that the Puppy crowd loves messages they agree with but can’t see them because they agree with them; but it’s impossible that SJWs would do the same with their own messages.


We’re just voting for what we perceive as good stories… just as the Puppies claim to do.

“Claim to.” Interesting choice of words there. I’d say it was a slip-up on your part, because I generally try to be fair-minded; but you double-down on the accusation later.

You know, when I get stuff like this, it’s really hard to maintain the moderate position.

I deliberately use the term SJWs, by the way, even though I know that it was intended sarcastically and offends some of the people to whom the Puppies apply it. I do so because it’s a term I wear with pride. You better believe that I’m a warrior for social justice — I spend several hours a day every day working for it through every political channel I have.

Actually, you are the only one on that page referring to SJWs. I personally have been using the term social fiction warrior, but I didn’t use that on the page either. That means either you’re coming in from elsewhere and forgetting that you’re not in a previous conversation, or you’re attempting to set up a straw man argument.

(Gee. A self-admitted SJW using straw men. The odds.)

Still, I suppose I should throw you a bone. Since you clearly haven’t poked around my blog, you wouldn’t have noticed that I’m Catholic. We’re the group that came up with the term “social justice” (it traces its way back through Thomistic philosophy and theology, and the precise phrase was coined by a 19th-century Jesuit) so if you’re expecting me to talk about how “social justice” is a bad thing, well . . . ha!

Of course, you tend to use a different definition, but that’s a different argument.

But I do not consciously base my reading material on that aspect of my life. I read many authors I think are amazing writers, and with whom I have massive political disagreements. In the years when I have a Worldcon membership, I vote for the ones I enjoy, not the ones who share my politics. This is true about most of us, however much the Puppies claim to disbelieve it. It is not only possible to be passionately involved in political causes which are left wing and nevertheless ignore the whole subject when evaluating science fiction books, it’s the usual way of things. If the Puppies are being honest in claiming to believe otherwise, they are making a major error.

Then why does your crowd keep going on and on with defining Sad Puppies through race, politics, and sexuality? If the first response of the SJW is to not reach for politics, why is the first response of the SJW to reach for politics?

Finally, what offends us SJWs about the Puppies’ approach isn’t that they’re nominating books which don’t contain our messages. It’s not even that they’re nominating books which DO contain THEIR messages. Almost all of us have, at times, voted for books which contained right-wing political or social messages. The Puppies frequently address this as though it were our objection to their behavior, and it’s a complete strawman. It was never the objection of most of us.

I do love how you keep pretending that every single book on the Sad Puppy slate was written by a right-winger . . . would you like to revisit the ownership of the straw man?

Here are the real objections:

1) We believe that, in an act of explicit hypocricy, the Puppies (both sorts) claimed to oppose “message fiction” and support Hugo voting based solely on story quality, but actually supported stories of such grossly inferior quality that it is obvious to us that the ONLY qualification for getting on the Puppy lists is a right-wing political message.

Belief. I’m sorry, but I’m not interested in what you “feel” to be true. You’re laying out a claim and expecting it to subsist on the seriousness of the charge. Not only is it demonstrable that the claim of a right-wing homogeneous political message is false just looking at the works and creators nominated, you also offer no proof of “grossly inferior quality.” I would assume that if something were grossly inferior, it would be easy to demonstrate the qualitative difference beyond any claim of artistic taste.

2) We believe that, by supporting slates of specifically five nominees in each category, and soliciting support for their entire slate as a body, there was a deliberate attempt by the Puppies not merely to offer voters a choice between their selections and those of the SJWs, but to take over the Hugos completely and prevent any choice from being available except theirs. This is the chief reason behind the No Award campaigns — we believe that the Puppies’ purpose was to deny us agency and *force* a vote for one of their favorites; and we don’t like being pushed around.

Ah, Naomi . . . you disappoint me. Have you no better argument than this? It appears not, because it rapidly goes downhill from here.

You claim there were “specifically five nominees in each category,” which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are operating from within an echo chamber and have not even examined the Sad Puppies slate. Here, I’ll link to it so you don’t have to type in a search term. I know research must be exhausting. As you can see, not every category had five suggestions; in fact, one category only had one suggestion.

There is a constant claim that Sad Puppies, as you say, “solicited support for their entire slate as a body.” This, too, is demonstrably false. Please, find me any post from Brad Torgersen, Sarah Hoyt, Larry Correia, Kate Paulk, Tom Knighton, Declan Finn, Cedar Sanderson, or myself, which calls for everyone to vote for the entire slate “as a body.”

I certainly didn’t. For just one example, I voted for Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance for best novel. It was a very close race for me between that book and Skin Game as the best novel I read that year, and I’m disappointed that it didn’t get a nomination even if it does make my final choice easier.

The same continues in other categories. I voted for the ones I thought were best, whether or not they were on the Sad Puppies slate. In point of fact, I only glanced at the slate during the voting process to see if there were some titles I had forgotten (there were, in fact, a couple that I hadn’t read in 2014 or forgot were published in that year; there were also some I’d already listed that I didn’t realize were on the slate until looking at it). I also didn’t vote for any work I wasn’t familiar with, which meant I didn’t vote for a single novelette on the Sad Puppies ballot.

Burst Bubble

3) We believe that, by reaching out to people who are not normally SF readers or Worldcon attendees and asking for their votes, the Puppies are doing the moral equivalent of the graveyard vote. They’re trying to gain extra votes via people who are not normally qualified to vote, and who are not community members in any way.

See, I told you your argument would just go downhill from here.

That’s right, folks! You’re all fake geek girls!

Correct me if I’m wrong, Naomi, but these are the steps needed to qualify to vote:

Step One: Buy a membership.
Step Two: There is no Step Two.

So you have absolutely nothing to stand on when it comes to “qualifying to vote.” You’re also passing judgement that Sad Puppies supporters aren’t real SF readers, without any evidence whatsoever beyond what you feel.

Are you really saying that no one should be qualified to vote in the Hugo Awards unless they’re part of an approved clique of fans who have proven their bona fides according to said clique’s standards? If so, then you’ve just proven the Sad Puppies case. Thank you for playing.

As far as I know, they aren’t even suggesting that these people read the books and get involved in Worldcon as active members… they’re just asking them to put in their votes on a straight ticket, without reading the contents, as a favor to political fellow-travelers.

“As far as you know” doesn’t seem to be very far. Did you do any research, other than reading through Making Light or following David Gerrold on Facebook?

Well, okay. I apologize. You write far too well to be a regular Making Light denizen.

I suspect strongly that, if Vox Day had a story on the ballot and the SJWs asked the NOW to run a campaign to get Hugo votes against it — from people who have never read SF before and had no interest in the subject, and without asking them to read any of the stories in question — the Puppies would rightfully object to this behavior. What they are doing is precisely the same.

So you think that the National Organization for Women has absolutely no members or supporters who might call themselves geeks?

Anyway, yes, you’re right. The Puppies would indeed object to anyone calling for people to vote without reading the material. Which is why we’re objecting to your side calling for voting No Award without reading the material.

4) In reaching out to the Gamergaters in particular, the Puppies are not only going outside the community for votes based solely on shared politics; they are willfully allying themselves with the most vile, dangerous, controlling, rape-culture-based, violent trolls on the Internet.

Yep. Gamergate! I don’t suppose you have any evidence to back this up?

See, I don’t get involved with this controversy, because I’m not a gamer. (Or, at best, I’m a casual gamer. I haven’t even played World of Warcraft in about a month, because I have so much work to do and haven’t been feeling well and need to do some in-person out-of-state research this week, which is decidedly fun for someone in a wheelchair.) I’ve noticed, though, that a lot of accusations get thrown around without evidence. See, I have no clue if they really are vile, vulgar, or villainous. I do know, however, that since they are opposed by you and your friends, and you and your friends keep spreading lies about us without evidence, even when we challenge you to back it up, they might not be as bad as advertised.

Not that it’s a point worth discussing, since your premise (that Sad Puppies is fueled by Gamergaters) is mathematically false. As I understand it, that particular controversy comprises thousands of members. The bump in Hugo nomination ballots was 199 over last year.

Were you aware that the previous claim to “OMG, GamerGate!” was that Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen got their entire fanbase to vote in lockstep? At the time of the last day of ballot nominations, Brad had just over two thousand Facebook friends and I don’t even know how many followers. Larry Correia has been at the 5,000-friend Facebook cap for years. Again, the bump in nomination ballots over last year was less than two hundred. So I continually find it funny that, faced with the numerical argument from each author’s own fanbase, you and your friends have turned to invoking an even larger crowd to prove your point.

On top of that . . . did you ever look through their blog posts, or the blogs of the other names I mentioned, to see if anyone has actually been reaching out to the Vile Vulgar Villains? I suspect not. Research is hard. It’s so much easier to make up facts in the spirit of Arthur Chu.

They sought out the worst they could find, and gladly embraced them in order to get votes for their cause. This is bad behavior for several reasons. It demonstrates a total indifference to good and evil behavior, so long as someone votes the way the Puppies want them to, they’re golden in the Puppies’ eyes. It also brings a dangerous group of people into the SF fannish sphere, where they may not be so easily inclined to leave again. And wherever they go, they threaten, harass, and harm people. So the Puppies are willing to put fellow fans in real danger just to get votes for an award.

Evidence? Why bother with evidence? Particularly when you and your friends embrace racists like Chu and K. Tempest and child-rapist supporters like Bradley. (Remember, broad brushes tend to make it hard to paint within the lines.)

The whole scenario is very much the same as if I decided that there were insufficient evangelical Christian stories on the ballot. In order to get more on, I published a list of evangelical stories, most of which were abysmally bad because I couldn’t find enough good ones, and all I cared about were that they were evangelical stories.

. . . okay? You keep claiming a qualitative difference, but you offer no evidence. I haven’t seen anyone offer evidence. Let’s have that debate.

Oh, wait. Debate is bad. It’s much easier to offer no evidence and simply resort to wild accusations. Sorry, I forgot I was dealing with a social fiction warrior. I don’t know how that happened.

In order to get the evangelical stories to win, not merely be nominated, I appealed to all the Christian fans I knew to nominate my straight list of stories, so that when the ballots came out, there were nothing but my not-very-good evangelical stories in most categories.

Yep, dastardly people, asking for others to vote No Award without ever reading the– oh, wait, that’s the good guys. It’s okay for the good guys to do that, since the bad Puppies are doing underhanded things like asking people to read each nominated work, watch each nominated film, and examine each nominated creator in order to vote with an informed understanding of the ballot. We can’t have that.

When people objected to this behavior, I accused them of religious bigotry and hating Christians, and claimed that the only reason I did it was that there had been a conspiracy for years beforehand not to allow any Christian writer to win the award (despite the fact that Christian writers did win on a fairly frequent basis).

“Frequent.” Heh. Well, I’m not here to argue politics. This is a non-political blog. I already talked about this subject anyway.

Then i went and roped in the Westboro Baptist Church, whose members had never read any SF in their lives, and told them, “I’m being persecuted by people who want to keep Christianity out of the Hugo awards. I know you’ve never heard of Worldcon, but please, go buy a membership and vote for this group of books; you’ll be supporting Christianity against persecution!”

Are you just tossing out names? The Westmorons are a single family. They’d be a blip in this particular election.

Plus, I think you forgot your own argument there. Your analogy was about Evangelical fiction, but now you’re back to science fiction.

And, finally, I looked shocked and surprised when anybody said that my association with the Westboro Baptist Church was objectionable, and answered, “I don’t have anything to do with them! It’s not up to me who likes my selections and decides to vote for them… all I was doing was trying to get good stories onto the ballot, instead of this constant stream of anti-Christian message fiction which is nominated by people determined to keep Christians out. If hateful people come and vote for my stuff, it’s got nothing to do with *me*.”

Um, Naomi, you’ve got some bits of straw sticking out of your sleeve . . .

This would be entertaining if it weren’t so sad. After all, as I keep saying, we’re not asking anyone to vote without reading. That would be a heck of a lot easier. And why would anyone pay forty bucks to vote if they didn’t actually care about the topic?

Remember, your own side is buying votes for other people. If suggesting to other geeks that a Worldcon supporting membership is worth them buying themselves is bad, how is it okay for the anti-Puppy crowd to actually buy votes?

Or did you not do the research on that, either?

SFW Hugo